Chicago Marathon

Excuses or reality? It’s easy for me to tell one of my athletes what the clear picture is, but it’s not so easy to tell myself the same thing. As I write this I still debate what the real truth was and I struggle a bit with how everything played out in my mind during the 26.75 miles I ran this past Sunday.

But here are some things I  know to be true and give me more satisfaction than having a good race ever will.

#1. I wrote a Chicago Marathon training plan for Kerry S. last year. She used that training plan again this year and punched her ticket to Boston! Last year she ran a 3:44 and this year she took an additional seven minutes off her time and finished with a 3:36.

#2. Sarah D. dominated her first marathon! She did every single workout that I assigned to her without missing a beat. I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I was by her dedication and hard work. It paid off and she excelled in Chicago.

#3. So this one I can’t even imagine doing myself! Whitney, another one of my inspiring athletes battled what may have been food poisoning during Sunday’s race and still managed to squeak out a PR! Can you even imagine continuing to run? This girl is the real deal.

Chicago Marathon

Coaching is a lot of things, but mostly it’s caring more about your athlete’s race than your own.

This wasn’t the first time I was sick the week before a race, but it will be the last time I’ll wear blinders when I arrive at the start line after illness and think that maybe I still have a chance. I didn’t want to just show up, I wanted to give it a go no matter how things had played out in the days leading up to the race. And honestly just being able to show up and accept whatever comes my way is enough for me as long as I’m healthy, have two legs and the ability to run.



Training Diaries

The summer and fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training for the 2014 New York City Marathon with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Record. Learn more about Jess and her goals here.

The last couple weeks of training have been amazing. I started seeing some really noticeable results in my runs and workouts- and nothing makes for a happier runner.

While the physical results and hard numbers are a huge part of training, you might have seen in my earlier post that half the battle is mental as well. This was something I was struggling with before working with Jess, and I’ve really grown in these past 13 weeks. That become clear to me at the Staten Island Half this past Sunday.

Jess and I had a great race plan laid out for this day. I finally felt ready to go sub 2 and she provided me with a race day strategy to help me achieve this goal. The plan was to go out with the 2 hour pace group and when I hit the last 5k of the race to push ahead of them. For the last 800m I was going to give it all I had and end on a high note. I felt great about this.

Staten Island Half

Well, nothing like a snafu in your plans to give you race morning anxiety.

The race was 10 minutes from start time, and I couldn’t find the 2 hour pace group anywhere. It skipped from 1:55 to 2:05. Crap! What do I do? I made a game time decision to go out with the 1:55 group and stay with them as long as I could.

Well, that didn’t work out so well either. The pace leader was moving around quite frequently, and when you couple that with a congested course, it doesn’t make for a great running situation. I tried to swerve and keep up – this resulted in me twisting my ankle twice in potholes I couldn’t see coming. By mile 4 I was physically and mentally exhausted. I knew there was no way I would be able to sustain that for 9 more miles and I made the decision at the 4th mile marker to let the pace group go.

I felt overheated, slightly light headed and deflated. I thought back to advice Jess had given me during the week- if you feel like you’re struggling, back off of your pace by 15 seconds. So I did just that. I gave myself 15 seconds of a run walk, pulled down my arm sleeves, guzzled my water and said to myself, “you haven’t come this far to let yourself bonk in a race now. Suck it up and give this all you’ve got.”


I re-started my run. And paced myself the remaining 9.2 miles. I focused on each mile, not the outcome or the horrible start of the race, but getting myself to the finish line and trying to salvage the goal that we had set. And that’s just what happened. I finished in 1:59:01.

While seeing the official time was AMAZING, what was more exciting to me in that moment was that I knew that 4 months ago that race would have played out completely differently. I would have allowed myself to have a pity party that my game plan didn’t work, and mentally self-sabotaged the rest of the race…and probably the rest of the day to be honest. I felt emotional. Not because of the numbers on my watch, but because I know I have grown so much in these past 13 weeks and I couldn’t be happier about it and content with this place where I am right now.

I hope that the NYC Marathon is a culmination of this experience for me. I hope that I crush it and have the best marathon day ever. But if for some reason I don’t, I can honestly say I will be ok with that now. I won’t self-sabotage, I will reflect positively on this amazing journey. I wouldn’t change a thing.


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{Printable} Marathon Packing List

by Jess on October 8, 2014

How many times in the last year have I written out a packing list when prepping to travel to a race?

Way too many!

I love making lists with paper and pen, but the monotony of listing out every single item from underwear and sports bras to safety pins and hair ties finally got to me. So, I created a list for both of us to use over and over again, while saving us the headache of wondering if we left off anything important.

I hope you find this packing list useful as you get ready to travel to your fall marathon!


marathon packing list

If you have any burning last minute marathon questions you need answered right away, I want to help you have your best race yet! So, let’s schedule a time to chat!

A Goal Setting Session or Race Day Consultation can help you with any number of concerns including the following:

  • Nail down realistic race day goals based of your training and race history.
  • Establish a pre-race routine and race day fueling strategy.
  • Set-up an easy to follow race day game plan.
  • Train your brain to get mentally strong for 26.2

Stop googling answers to your marathon questions and get real answers about your unique situation and goals.

Session rates start at $50. Let me know what concerns you have about your upcoming race and how I can help!

Happy Marathon Season!!


In 2004 I ran my third marathon, the Chicago Marathon. Having had a grueling experience while foolishly running the New York City Marathon while injured the year before, I was thrilled to be injury free and running a flat race.

I ran my first three marathons in a pretty simple fashion.

I wore cotton, didn’t have a fueling strategy, a time goal, or a GPS watch on my wrist. Heck, I didn’t even know how to use the lap function on my Timex watch.

Chicago Marathon

My training was as simple as my gear. I ran for time, not pace or distance. I ate a carb-heavy, low-fat diet. I refueled with bagels and lox. I didn’t strength train, get enough sleep, foam roll, go to physical therapy or give up dairy.

I knew very very few people who had qualified for Boston and no one who was vying for a BQ time in their next race.

And ya know what, I loved nearly every single minute of nearly every single run because being a runner and calling myself a marathoner was enough.

Now, I stress over too many minor things. It took me way too long to find the perfect running shoes for this season. I still can’t decide what shorts to wear for the race. And with a mere ten days away from the start of the race, I haven’t quite nailed down my race day fueling strategy.

Every single option for every single question a marathoner can ask is answered in a different way by nearly every single runner visible on social channels giving me the option to second guess the decisions I have made for my next marathon, the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

As I sit here in my kitchen wondering why I’m taking my taper so seriously (and by seriously, I mean I haven’t ran since Sunday) and why I’m not motivated to lace up my shoes and go for a run, the answer is clear.

*Alternative title for this post: “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?”


Race Pace Training Diaries: The Fab 4

by Jess on September 30, 2014

Training Diaries


The summer and fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training for the 2014 New York City Marathon with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Record. Learn more about Jess and her goals here.

Now that I am a little over half way through my training program for the New York City marathon, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about how this marathon training cycle has been different than my previous ones. This will be my 3rd full marathon, but working with Jess to prepare for it has been awesome…so let me tell you a little bit more about my Fab Four!

1. Nutrition

You might have seen my Instagram post last week- nutrition is something that Jess and I zoomed right in on at the start of training. I kept a food journal for a week leading up to the kick-off of my program which provided Jess with a sampling of my eating habits. We were able to identify some key areas that needed improvement such as eating more greens, removing things like Quest bars loaded in sugar alcohols, relying on less fuel during long runs, using things like shakes to help recover from workouts and also at breakfast time to prime my system to be ready to take in other nutrients throughout the day.

I REALLY struggled with nutrition when I trained for my first marathon in 2012. I actually remember sending a frantic tweet along the lines of “Can’t stop eating. How do you battle #runger? Please HELP!”

This time around I feel in control and my body feels so much stronger and better.

run heart

 2. All the miles

I’m running about double the mileage I did with previous training plans. And I’m loving every minute of it! I had never done shake out or recovery runs before working with Jess- and I am SO GLAD she introduced me to them because they really work folks! I no longer go into races or distance runs with stiff legs. And when I’m feeling sore the day after a hard workout, those recovery runs really do loosen you up!

I’ve been running about as much on a weekly basis with Jess as I did during “peak week” of my previous plans. Running all the miles make a big difference. I used to feel majorly fatigued after distance runs or like I wanted to face plant on the couch for the rest of the day. Not anymore! I’ve actually gone out and enjoyed the day and the weekend without feeling the least bit tired. Twenty miles doesn’t take a toll on this lady anymore ☺

3. Making smarter decisions 

You might have read in my previous post that I was having some hamstring issues a few weeks back. The old me would have ignored this pain and continued on with daily workouts because I didn’t want to get off track. This wasn’t an option with Jess. She didn’t want me to attempt any more runs until the pain was gone because that pain could easily turn into an injury…and then I’d really be one unhappy Race Pace Runner ☹ I took a few days off, and when the time was right she started adding workouts back into my training log.

Sometimes we become creatures of habit and the thought of missing a run or workout makes us cringe. But Jess was right, a few missed days is MUCH better than an injured runner.

run key

4. Support

I love running. Everything about it. And working with Jess I have felt supported in my running journey every step of the way. Late night questions, racing strategies, pacing suggestions- she’s been right there to help me out and support me. No more googling random running topics & mining the internet for answers, no more frantic tweets.

Have you been thinking about working with a running coach? These are just a few of the reasons why you should. Feel free to find me on Twitter and Instagram to chat it up some more!


Ladies and Gentleman, are you ready to embrace the drama?

Reach the Beach Relay

Team Pumped Up Kicks

If so, then let me tell you a little thing about running a relay race, it’s full of drama.

Imagine this: 12 runners without sleep,  very little “real” food or clean showers are crammed into two vans navigating their way through unfamiliar territory while running a countless number of hills and miles. They are hungry, tired and dirty which means everything feels significantly more dramatic than it would on a normal day.

Runger + Zero Sleep + Running All the Miles = DRAMA

Okay, okay so it wasn’t exactly an episode of Real Housewives of NYC , but I did feel the dramatic effects of running downhill for 7 miles, then uphill for several more miles without any sleep and with an upset stomach, but what I learned along the way is that digging deep when the pain sets in is the most rewarding part of running.

Reach the Beach

The 1st Real Script Rewrite

The first time I successfully rewrote the script was during the RnR San Diego Marathon. The memory of picking myself back up off the ground and telling myself I did not come to California to collect a DNF, but to collect a BQ will live on forever. I changed the script and it paid off.

Boston Marathon 2014

But, I thought it was a fluke fueled by my intense desire to go after a reward I so badly coveted (a BQ). Since I earned my long sought after reward I wasn’t sure I would be able to change the script in that manner ever again.

The View From the Pain Cave: New Balance Reach the Beach Relay Leg #25

My 1st leg at Reach the Beach had an elevation loss of over 1,000 feet. Following that run, my quads were toast. By the time I was running my second leg my quads were already sore to the touch. Therefore, when it came time for my final run of the relay, I knew I was in trouble, but I didn’t know exactly how much trouble I’d gotten myself into.

Reach the Beach Leg #25 Elevation Profile

Elevation profile of my final 7.2 miles of Reach the Beach

It was the most challenging run I’ve ran in as long as I can remember. I wanted to punch the race director in the face for designing this route (I’m kidding, kinda!). How could they give this leg of the race to me??? (Everything feels personal at this point in a relay.)

I never really wanted to stop running, but for the first few miles of gutting it out on the climbs I wanted it to be easier and I wanted things to go my way (the flat way ;)). I wanted things to stop hurting and I wanted it to be over immediately.

Thankfully, the script started to change.

This is just running.

I’m not in danger.

I don’t live in Syria.

You don’t have Ebola.

Get a grip on reality. You are simply running!

Pain is just pain. It’s not good or bad.

It’s okay if it hurts!

GOOOOOO! Crush your legs, there’s nothing to lose!

I entered the pain cave, stayed inside and wished I could have stayed longer.

My 3rd leg ended up being cut short due to some confusion and I was actually upset, I wasn’t able to gut it out for the last .5. But, I learned that I was capable of rewriting the negative script that usually plays in my head and that when push comes to shove, I can dig deep.


Thank you New Balance, for the invitation to be on your media team and for allowing me to gut it out in New Hampshire with a great group of people!


Race Pace Training Diaries: The Mental Struggle

September 15, 2014

  The summer and fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training for the 2014 New York City Marathon with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Record. Learn more about Jess and her goals here. The past few weeks of training have had a lot of […]

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Relay Race Round-Up: Tips on What to Pack, How to Fuel & Know What to Expect

September 10, 2014

Two years ago I ran my first relay race. It was equally exciting and exhausting. I was somewhat organized, but definitely didn’t properly fuel or bring enough clothing options. This weekend I’m running my 2nd relay race with New Balance, and I’m much more prepared. In fact, I’m probably over-prepared! In case you aren’t familiar […]

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3 Things to Do the Day Before Your Next 20-Mile Marathon Training Run

September 2, 2014

The countdown to fall marathon season is on! I have less than six weeks left before running the Chicago Marathon, which means I still have four long runs left. In the past I really struggled with long runs. I didn’t enjoy them in the least. At one point the only way I could get through […]

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A Superfood Sweet Treat for Runners

August 19, 2014

Chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies have a special place in my memory. Some of my earliest memories include licking spoons and waiting for cookies to cool. I couldn’t wait to get my little paws on them and would often burn my tongue when my patience ran out. In reality these cookies cool rather quickly, but […]

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