Tundra Trailblazer Nicole: Coming Back from Injury and Accomplishing a Dream…

It was time to make a decision for myself…

I pretty much played all the sports: basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, and yes, I was even a “graceful” dancer for nine years of my life. Every sport was fun, except for the “running” part.

Every time my coach made the team run, I would literally be the second last person to finish. These were simple sprints during practice. Since I played “almost” every sport, the only sport I avoided was track and field. I knew I could not run. It was bad enough I was made fun of at school for being slow, so why add more fuel to the fire if I went out for track and field?

After graduating eighth grade, I still wanted to do sports in high school. Since my high school had about 230 students total, the only two fall sports offered to girls were volleyball and cross country. If you remember from the last point, I did play volleyball in grade school, but because my coach burnt me out by yelling at me often, I reconsidered my choice for a fall sport. I went out for cross country.

Long story short, I made my cross country varsity team after three meets on JV, not only was I getting faster, but I loved every second of running. The variety of running longer, including intervals and going up hills, got me hooked for life. I managed to stay on varsity for the rest of my 37 cross country races in high school.

Remember the idea of track and field? I went out and pretty much got addicted to running three of the longest distances offered in high school, the 800m, 1600m and my personal favorite, the 3200m Run.

I graduated high school, now what?

In the fall of my senior year in high school, I was assigned in my psychology class, “What Are Your Top 25 Goals in the Future?” I took the assignment seriously and made a HUGE GOAL. What was that goal, you ask? “To qualify for the Boston Marathon before age 25.”

At that point, the longest I ever ran was 8 miles. On that same list, I threw down running a half marathon, and I knew I could easily run that. It was the whole point that I had to run a FULL MARATHON in less than 3 hours and 35 minutes. I ran the numbers out, 8:12/mile. Well, I had to get faster sooner than later.

I ran my first half in fall of 2013 and it went terrible because I started out too fast, and after my first half, I ended up getting slower. I was unmotivated and my goal of running Boston at a young age seem to be out of reach. I was missing the support I had when I had a team to run with in high school.

Then I met four people: Alex, Erika, Ryan, and Nick.

All of us met each other through running races. Soon enough, we all realized we all had the same running ability and decided to always run races together. Still, to this day, we all push each other and are constantly getting faster. In spring of 2015, I got Nick to run our first marathon together. At that point, we were the only two in the group that haven’t ran a marathon yet.

Both of us finished the Cellcom Marathon in May 2015. Nick ran it in 3:51, and I finished at 3:45, and yes, 10 minutes off of the Boston Marathon standard of 3:35.

Then we wanted to run another marathon.

Nick and I decided to run both the Oshkosh Marathon and the Cellcom Marathon, a nice break of 28 days between the two. I made plans to accomplish my time goal of 3:30, to ensure extra time for a BQ. Sure enough, I earned my BQ by running a 3:23, cutting off my Cellcom time from the year before by 22 minutes. Nick and I still ran Cellcom a month later with Nick running a new PR of 3:40 and myself clocking in at 3:41. (On a side note, Nick can whip the whole team at any other distance, but the marathon. We love our little “sprinter”.)

Then July came along…

I was attending a rock music festival in July when I walked into a pot hole, landed on my left foot funny, and managed to fracture it. I went into an orthopedic surgeon’s office the following Monday and found out that my fracture, based off of the x-ray was previously fractured, but never completely healed. I personally couldn’t remember when I might have fractured it. So, you’re saying all this time, I was running and living my life with an unhealed fractured left foot? And running a 3:23 full marathon on it? I was extremely baffled.  I ended up having surgery on it and missed out on three months of running.

So, what about Boston?

Sure enough, the goal of running at Boston was now in plain sight, but if you know a thing or two about how the Boston Marathon registration works, one week in September is when you apply and wait to find out if your time made the cut. (The fastest times in each age group are accepted, some people who got their time standard do not make it in, due to race caps in each division.) One of the most reassuring words I heard from my orthopedic surgeon were the words, “We’ll get you all healed up before Boston. I want to let you know that you won’t get the time you want, but running in Boston is a huge running accomplish and I want you to run it.”

I can go to Boston!

Now, wrapping it all together…

I am now approaching six months post-surgery. I now have three months of running in and I am slowly building back up my mileage for my race in April. Sure, running those sub-eight minute miles for 16 miles results in being sore for a few more days than I like to, but those comforting words that my orthopedic surgeon told me constantly echo in my head. I got my running friends helping me out with support and training to fulfill that crazy goal of running Boston before age 25.

I will be 22 years old on April 17, 2017, the journey from being a simple runner to a stronger runner, battling the barriers of a setback injury, and now thinking about the start at Hopkinton and the finish line in downtown Boston in just a few months is crazy.

It is a HUGE honor to be a part of this year’s Cellcom Marathon Tundra Trailblazers along with Jill, Joe, and Jeff. Overall, I am sure we all have set goals bigger than ourselves at some point in our lives, whether they were running related or not. Like, I have mentioned, I got injured, and I still am trying to get back to where I was. This year, instead of running the marathon like I would love to do, I personally made a decision to give myself a break after running Boston to ensure that I would not have another injury pop up.

I hope you all will enjoy my blog posts about balancing life and running!

May your miles be bountiful and your dreams be accomplished,


Tundra Trailblazer Jill:Off To The Races

As I’m writing this, I’m playing Playdoh, responding to emails, and planning how I will get my miles in today. It’s a snow day, so both children are home, and I’m feeling the “hump day”effect on top of it all.

(Okay, but seriously, this needs to be invented…)

In fact, this is totally me today; albeit, “Doctor Who” needs to be swapped with anything on HGTV. —–^ 

But as my wise beyond his years 5-year old, JD, once told me, “Once you get there and you get energies and you’re running and working, you’ll feel good! So let’s do it!”

With this in mind, it was off to the gym for another adventurous day of training for my second marathon. 

My name is Jill, and I’m like any other small-town Midwestern, middle-class, and middle-aged women in many ways. Two kids, a house in the suburbs, married to my high school sweetheart and enjoying my work as a stay-at-home-mom as well as a small business owner (musician).

All in all, I lead a pretty “normal” life.

But if you would have asked me 10 years ago if this is where I’d be today – home most days with little ones, sporting sports bras and sweatpants Monday-Friday, never putting on a pair of heels unless playing Princess Tea Party (and by the way, nothing beats a pair of light-up hot pink Minnie Mouse heels), I would’ve said, “Yeah, right! I am a peacock! You gotta let me fly!”

10 years ago, I was soon to complete my Masters in Counseling and planned a profession in the field. This was to be my future, along side a part-time hobby in musical performance. I was going to make a difference in the world, one caseload at a time.

10 years ago, I didn’t even know half of these people who now live in my house and consume my every waking moment and my dreams. (I mean that in an endearing dream inhabitance way of course. Not hauntingly…although waking up to eyes staring at you can lead one to think otherwise…) But now…Now they are the ones who challenge me, call me out on my discrepancies, and motivate me to be a better person. These two little people that want everything I can give, and always push me to give more took a hold and have forever altered the person I wanted to be…for the better.

But even after being smitten by these two dream crushers (I say that in the nicest way possible..), one thing has remained of that girl with the big plans; my love of running. 

Let’s get one thing out of the way right away: Forrest Gump + Me = Soulmates. 

“Jenny and Me are like peas and carrots…”

If you haven’t seen the movie, (outside of me judging how you’ve made it this long without seeing it!), let me sum up real quick where I am going with this: Forrest Gump as a child had to wear braces, but it turns out he’s actually an amazing runner! Like college scholarship because of his running abilities level amazing. All he needed was someone to push him into running. Once he knew he could, there was no stopping him. And cue Jenny’s infamous line… —–^ 

When I was in grade school, a long, long, long… time ago, our teacher used to make us run sprints every morning in the fall. Everyone would take turns running their sprint, and he would call out your time for all to hear; disappointment very apparent if you didn’t do well.

This was the absolute worst part of my day/week/life as, I, yes Jill who now loves running, HATED RUNNING!!! I was slow, at times the slowest of all 32 of us (and by us I mean the whole school was 32 people…which means, yes, I was slower than those nearly half my age). The judging nature of this cruel act also solidified three facts in my mind: I was NOT a runner, I was NOT good at running, and I should NOT run….like ever…

Then one day, this same teacher forced us out again, this time to run 1 mile. Coincidentally, we were running to the local cemetery and back, which is where I figured I would be after this distance anyway as I had never run that far before in my life. But that day, something happened. I had a “Jenny moment” of my own. I said to my self, “Self, you’re going to be forced to do this, why not just do it and not think too much about it? Why not just run??” I was forcing that mental “brace” (see….Forrest Gump after all…) of “I’m not a runner therefore I cannot run” off myself.

As it turned out, once I wasn’t being forced to run as fast as I absolutely could for a short distance, I COULD actually run! And what’s even crazier: I actually LIKED it!

I LIKED LONG DISTANCE running! Shortly after this, it became part of my daily routine. 

However, that “brace” stuck with me in some respect. I never joined the cross country team, never took up Track & Field, and wouldn’t even signup for races while in high school. See, in the back of my mind, just because I enjoyed running didn’t make me “good” at it. That voice (which crazy enough sounds a lot like that doubting teacher I once had..) was still saying, “You are not good at this. This sport is not for you.”

But then that 10 years ago girl I referenced earlier had an “Jan-piphany”. (It’s kind of like any other epiphany you may have in life, expect this one was directly influenced by my running uncle named Jan.) See, Jan was out running races and having a good time while I was just running. Sure, I was having a good time but I realized it was time to get out there and see what the race world was about. Not only that, by entering a race, I was finally telling myself it was OKAY to not be the best at this running thing. The point was to start, to finish, and to do the best I could do.

So, I did it. In 2008, I began running races for fun, starting with the Oshkosh Half Marathon (2008, 2009), some smaller runs (Seroogy’s Valentine’s Day 15k in De Pere being one), and then running the 2009 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.

Jill – circa 2011 CGBM

I ran through job changes, wedding planning, and even completed the 2011 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon as a relay team while 36 weeks pregnant (Dr. approved of course) with my first child. (I will not show you pictures of this…it wasn’t pretty…let’s just say I looked a little like this guy….

After my second child, Julianna, in 2014, I found myself again back at a stage of self-doubt. I had carried her completely different, ceasing running for health reasons at 26 weeks. When returning to running in the weeks following her birth, even with staying physically active when pregnant, I saw a significant change in my gait, my form, my comfort, and my abilities.
It was then I saw that girl return: The one afraid to “fail”; the one who wasn’t a “good” runner. 

I didn’t want to accept that I might not be the runner I once was ever again. The one that, after having my son in 2011, was placing in race after race. The one that was running a near sub-7 min/mile 5k (something I had NEVER done before children) and PR-ing in nearly all the distance events I completed. It was hard to go from that peak to a valley so fast. I started to get very negative about myself and why I was running altogether. That negativity turned into dropping distances (changing from the full to half in multiple marathons) and more importantly, improper training. I was pushing too hard to get back where I was rather than focusing on and acknowledging my weaknesses.

A Lil’ Ice Cube Poetry..
In July of 2016, pushing too hard turned into injury: It was 6 weeks in a boot to heal a stress fracture in my right foot.  (Clearly, Ice Cube’s words of wisdom were a bit late at this point… —–^) 

I needed a reality check, and this was it.

This injury turned out to be a blessing. In the time I was not able to run, I had time to start at the beginning and remember why I began running in the first place. Running, I realized, gave me a first boost of confidence when I didn’t have any. It gave me an outlet for stress, personal goals to achieve, and most importantly, it gave me a way to be proud of myself.

While I was so stuck on losing the GOOD runner I once was in speed and ability, I was losing the GREAT runner I was in Every.Other.Way. The way I treated my body both physically and emotionally, and in being a runner who demonstrated a love for the sport as it is: A personal journey where the only goal is to do your best.

It was then I decided to keep running in my life for the enjoyment it provided, but always keeping one thing close in mind: This something that I CANNOT fail at. There is no failing when you cross that finish line. The only failure I had was not believing in myself that I am worth the time and effort to train to whatever level I was now capable of.
I learned the hard way to believe in the person and runner I am today, and be the best I can be. 
(Man, I wish I would’ve thought of that quote….wicked smart…) 
When I saw the opportunity to be a 2017 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Tundra Trailblazer for the 2017 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, I thought, it was time. It was time to not only trust that I can complete all 26.2 miles again, but I felt that by sharing my journey along the way, I could possibly inspire other’s to believe they can too.
For those at the point when they are seeing their times increase, their confidence decrease, and their love of the sport fade, I feel you.
Life gets busy, 
we put ourselves second often, 
but I hope to keep running as the one thing 
that keeps me grounded and aware 
that life really is 
just one fun, crazy race. 
(This is a Jill original quote…) 🙂 
My journey will not be easy – It’ll be real, it’ll be silly at times, and it’ll have ups and downs. But in the end, I know that by sharing it and being okay with whatever the outcome May 21st brings, I will gain back some of the faith in myself and say with confidence, “I am a GREAT marathoner. I am a GREAT runner.”
Join me as I blog about running, my family, my family and running, sore joints, Fixer Upper, and the general hilarity that is the combination of my life. Oh, and music….Life has to have music!
So it’s off to the races! 26.2 or bust!! 
Make today your best day yet! 

Tundra Trailblazer Jeff: Trust in the Process

Trust in the Process by Jeff Clark

Process matters. Solving complicate math problems involves a process. Operating a profitable business involves a process. Finishing your first marathon is the same way. Following the process will help you reach your end goal.

Finishing a marathon, especially for a mature (58) runner like me, is a step by step process. This will be the 14th time that I have toed the starting line. So far – I have won (finished) 9 times. Lost (DNF) 3 times. Then there was that one tie when we had to close the course because of the heat. Each marathon has taught me something.

The marathon requires planning. The last few marathons that I have run, I finished with an aching back.  Weight has been an issue. My job as a professional truck driver doesn’t help. This year my process began with a decision to talk with my lease partners at Paper Transport. We trimmed my hours from about 65 hours per week to about 52 hours per week, We rearranged my routes so that I could get into the gym 3 times per week. Cross training is an integral part of finishing a marathon – especially for us weight challenged old folks.

The Prevea guide and training runs provide a logical approach to your training. Long training runs are easier with company. I realize that many of our runners live too far away to drive to the runs on a weekly basis. You can still use the guide. Educate yourself as much as possible. I recommend John Bingham’s book Marathoning for Mortals. There are countless other guides and training plans. The Prevea guide has the advantage of focusing on this marathon.

You will fail. Deal with it. Forgive yourself. Don’t make it a habit. Get back on the plan as soon as you can. The marathon is not the center of our lives. We have families and jobs that are more important. There will be times when family and career will take priority and you will miss a training session. It happens to everyone, including me. Make sure that your family and your job, are on board with your plan.

Don’t exceed the process. The process is the process for a reason. The easiest way to develop runners’ knee or iliotibial band syndrome is to do too much too soon. Developing your leg muscles is crucial to avoiding injury. On that day when you’re scheduled for 8 miles, don’t go 10 miles because you’re feeling great. The object of the process is to get you to the starting line healthy and ready.

Enjoy the process. You may not lose weight, but you might find your clothes getting looser. Early in the process you may feel exhausted at the 5 mile point and doubt that you can get to 26.2. A month later you will be breezing past the 7 mile marker and remembering when you were exhausted after “just” 5 miles. The process is cool and it works.

Tundra Trailblazers: A family affair

Well, here is my last entry (I think) to the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Blog. It’s been a good 4 months. I have not been able to enter every single little detail about the ride into words, but I’ve put in what I felt was important and personal to me, so that all of YOU out there can learn and hopefully grow along with me.

900As of this morning I’ve been able to keep my run streak going, today is Run Streak Day 903. I ran a nice paced 5k with some Running friends that we have at Our Watertown Area YMCA. I was planning to run 5mi, but when I ran Monday I felt a small twinge on the bottom of my left foot that I have experienced once before last November. At that time I kept pushing and it got a little worse, so this time I backed off, listened to my body, and had very little notice of it this morning.  My knee issue from two weeks ago that came about after I raced a duathlon in town, has pretty much gone away, so I’m feeling good and relaxed coming into Sunday’s half. This race is definitely is on the top of my list, not only is it fun, and enjoyable, but it was the first half I ever ran. That was back in 2010, so I have that connection that keeps me coming back each year.

This year my kids and I will be run/walking the 5k together and having some good quality bonding time as well. They haven’t been too serious about their training, but they are both down from their almost 15 min miles they had when I first had taken them out to run in January. But the speed is definitely not the point for this run, it’s about some good PERSONAL and quality family time!  We are coming up from Watertown Friday evening, doing the 5k Saturday, then having some fun family time. I will be racing the Half on Sunday, then we will be relaxing thru Monday, before heading back to Watertown. I am looking forward to a nice Family based RACE-CATION, and enjoying the time we will have together.



Tundra Trailblazers: Sunday is going to be so awesome!

Reason for Running: I absolutely love the freedom. There is no better feeling than heading out on a run with miles of pavement in front of you, fresh air in your lungs, and music in your ears. Although I am still in my first year of racing, I can also tell you I am addicted to that feeling in the air at the start of a race and crossing that finish line. Sunday is going to be so awesome!

Current Celebration/Accomplishment: I CANNOT wait to be able to say I finished a marathon – I know no matter what I will cross that finish line. Mentally and physically I have prepared myself the best I can with what I have – no regrets! Although I have a goal finish time in mind, no matter what I will be honored to have been a part of the experience.

Current Challenge/Fear: I have been able to run the last couple of weeks all outside – I am ready for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at me on Sunday – although I’m hoping she brings sunshine and warm-ish weather. Having never run this far (in general or outside), I am going to trust my training and stick with the pacers to get me across that finish line.

Strategy for Success: I will not let defeat get to me. Physically I have prepared myself, it’s all a mental game now. There will be nothing but positive thoughts all week. I can’t wait to cheer everyone else on too!

Focus/Goal for next week: CELEBRATE!! … and recover of course.

Can’t wait to see everyone at the start AND finish line! Let’s celebrate all of our hard work and accomplishments!



Tundra Trailblazers: Cheerleaders

Hello runners! Let’s talk cheerleading. I’m not referring to pom poms and ponytails and human pyramids. I’m talking about the people in your life that keep you going. Who are they?  In some of my research, a motivating technique to get through the miles is to run each mile for someone.  I’m going to list a few members of #teambeppa. I’m sorry if I leave anyone out or don’t mention you by name

  1. My husband, Zach – You have to listen to all the complaining and deal with my constant hunger which isn’t easy. I think you have it the toughest because this race is in your face every day. Good and bad. You support everything I’m doing. You even read my blogs before they go out (except for this one.) After every tough run, you remind me of how far I have come from struggling to train for a 5k last year. You have cold ice packs, protein bars and whiskey ready all while going back to school. You’ve also signed up to run the Cellcom 5k which will be your first race ever. So proud!!!
  2. Alissa – I had been tossing around the idea of running a half marathon like it would be a nice thing to try “someday.” You are the one who really convinced me that I could do this. That I am a runner because I run. It’s the finish line not the finish time. Being slow is ok. I had to make choices and sacrificed taking my favorite spin class with you for other cross training alternatives. YOU are the reason I am doing this. You advised me through all the aches and pain and highs and lows. You are a true inspiration and beautiful person.
  3. Amy, Kari, Dan – You provide me with the physical cross training and mental reprieve from running that I need. You challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone to make me better. I am doing things I never thought my body could do because you believed I could. And let’s face it, you make working out FUN!
  4. Nicole – There hasn’t been one day that you haven’t checked in on me. You gave me a “runner’s starter kit.” Besides being my favorite TRX companion, you are my favorite treadmill companion. We can talk through the entire run or watch our Netflix and just be. The endless encouragement has been a blessing. I really cannot thank you enough.
  5. Krissy and Gregg – You ladies are always my rock. I’ve been with you longer than Zach, and I can always be totally honest with you. You will always be my girls, in letters and numbers (you get it).
  6. Michelle, Llama and Laurie  – You are my new found soul sisters. Any time of day, you are there for me and my panic sessions. You are my stress relief and don’t let me take life too seriously.
  7. My mom, Faith and Aunt Cyndie – My angel runners. These were the kindest, smartest, most caring women you could ever know. You are with me, keeping me strong. I can only aspire to be as beautiful as you. I hope I have lived up to your aspirations for me.
  8. My Dad, Larry – You are the best dad a girl could ask for. You dealt with a moody, whiney teenager by yourself. For that alone, you should win a prize. You took care of me when I got all 6 of my wisdom teeth pulled. You drove me to every dance and choir rehearsal/performance. You taught me how to drive (to and from the before mentioned rehearsals) and were SUPER excited when I got my license (I can’t imagine why). I’m glad you found Brenda and your happy place with Disney. I get to brag about my dad’s completely amazing retirement.
  9. My siblings: KJ, Chuck, Allen, Annie, Anita, Tina, Chris – You are all amazing in your own right. We are all different people but an incredible group of people. It is truly a travesty that we are not together more often than we can be. Stupid miles and miles of distance. I’m not good at communication but please know that I respect and love you all.
  10. My nieces and nephews: Jordan, Holly, Mason, Courtney, David, Brynnan, Declan, August, Dawson, Devin, Lily, Audrey, Justin, Charlotte – All of you are so different and so amazing, blood relatives or not. I love watching you grow. Peepers, I am Beppa because of you, and you will always be my “spirit daughter.” Mason, thank you for being one of my running gurus. I hold you all close to my heart and hope to embrace the energy you radiate.
  11. FBC – You are the best coworkers I could ever ask for. You deal with my slow, sore muscles and my 3 AM yoga/foam roller/massage stick/ice packs. You encourage me and are the best team in existence. We get through the good and bad together. I would trust any of you with a family member or my own care any day. And you know that means a lot coming from a fellow RN.
  12. Western Racquet friends – There are so many of you I don’t want to leave anyone out. Talk about a community!!! This all ultimately started a bit over a year ago when I joined and found this place to work out/laugh/sweat/smile. You embraced this novice as one of your own and welcomed me into a world of encouragement and love. Endless high fives and “atta’ girls.” There is NO judgement and ALL inspiration. This is an environment of true support. Best gym EVER!
  13. Me – I am going to take the last 1.1 miles for myself. I have spent the last few months not wanting to disappoint other people, but on this day, I want to please myself. All I need to do that is to finish. There is no time limit for me. I can do this. I want to do this. I am determined to enjoy this race completely from start to finish. I will never run this race for the first time ever again. My body and brain will get tired, and I know that I am strong enough to push through.

Of course, I can’t forget to thank Cellcom Green Bay Marathon for this Tundra Trailblazer opportunity. I can’t imagine running this first half marathon without their support and knowledge. They trusted me as their ambassador to broadcast a process and race that I have never completed. They took a chance on a beginner. I’ve done my best to be an open book for everyone.

This has been a long list but it has been a long process and I’ve had a lot of time to think during these runs. I wish the best for all runners! Thank you for reading J Happy training, racing, and recovery!!!



Tundra Trailblazers: Trust in the Training

WOW! It’s hard to believe that race day is FAST approaching!

I have been through marathon training 3 other times now and I still feel the same way as I did the first time…TAPERING IS HARD!!! So many emotions, worries, doubts and phantom pains run through my mind. I need to focus on the positivity and not let nerves get the best of me. I am happy to say, I remained injury free during the last 5 months of training…not even sore toe nails. 🙂 I have put in the time and training, now its up to my body to show up on race day.

One week ago, my Aunt Deb Ernst passed away from cancer. She battled her sickness for over 2.5 years. She never let it slow her down or did she ever show her pain. She believed in herself and knew if she was strong and brave, she could live her life to the fullest…AND SHE DEFINETLEY DID THAT!!! Cancer never slowed her down! Deb has inspired me to be the athlete I am today and I want to show her that on marathon day. My 26.2 miles will be dedicated to her and when times get tough and I think I cant go another mile, I am going to use the mantra #WWDD—-“What Would Debbie Do.”

Lets all take this next week to visualize the finish line and trust in the training we have put in!

I will see all you runners at the start line!

Ashley King





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