Tundra Trailblazer Jeff: Race Weekend

Race Weekend

 The time to experiment is over. Don’t break routine. Fight the temptation to try something new. If you drink a beer every night before bed, don’t substitute a glass of water. If you had a bowl of cereal every day before your long runs, do the same thing on race day. Have a cup of coffee, every morning. Have one on race day. Do what got you here.

 One change of routine that is acceptable, is to lay out your clothes the night before. You will be a little nervous on race morning. Having everything set out the night before is a great help. You won’t be searching for safety pins or lord forbid your bib.

 If you are not in the front, the pack surges. Walk. Don’t get too excited. It may surge and stop a dozen times. Don’t whine about it. It is just the way traffic moves. Relax and deal with it. The same goes for the first mile. Don’t try weaving through the crowd to get on pace for that first mile. I have heard of people add as much as a quarter mile to the first mile. I have added close to .2 miles in the first mile. Let the crowd thin out. It will. Be patient.

 Start slow. You can wear yourself out in that first mile. Enjoy the company. Marathoners are interesting people. Have a conversation. It will help the miles go by. Enjoy the crowd. They have some great signs. My favorite one is “That guy up there. He has your wallet.”. Thank the cops.

 Enjoy yourself. You have put a lot of work into this. Your first goal it to leave the course healthy (relatively). The second goal is to finish. Time is the third goal. Training for a marathon is a healthy experience. Running one is draining. You may want to take a post run nap. Go ahead. You’ve earned it.

 Finishing a marathon is something that you’ve earned. Not one step was given to you. You have done something maybe one percent of the population has done. It is an accomplishment. Now, that you have done this. Do great things with your life.


Tundra Trailblazer Jeff Update



Have a Plan – Be Flexible

I have a race day plan. This is my 14th race day plan for the marathon. So far none have worked out. My most common problem is starting out too fast. That is followed closely by – just did not put the work in.  Be honest with yourself. Don’t expect a great race day, if you haven’t trained for it – back off the pace.

One of the truest things about marathons is that you can’t wreck it by starting too slow. You can definitely wreck one by starting out too fast. I remember one of my first marathons. I had just run a 1:57 (9 minute pace) half marathon. Logic told me that I could run about a 4:22 (10 minute pace) marathon. I had put in the work. The taper went well. The legs were fresh. I looked for either the 4:15 or the 4:30 pace group. Couldn’t find either one of them.

This was in 2006 before I bought my first GPS watch.  I just got in line and ran. The first five miles seemed easy. Well, I know that they were fast. The five mile split read 42:00. figuring in the time that it took me to cross the starting line behind the first runners, and I was running a solid 8 minute pace. Immediately two trains of thought went through my exhilarated little brain. One good- I am going to have a great marathon. 5 miles in and I am 10 minutes ahead of pace. All I have to do is back up the pace. The second train – was wow did I just blow it.

The second train of thought won. I did back out of it well enough to finish – which is always my main goal. Finishing a marathon, no matter how long it takes is something to be proud of. I know that some of you may be trying to run a Boston Qualifying Time, or set a Personal Record. That is great. Just remember that a lot can happen in 26 miles. Be prepared to be a little flexible. Remember to relax.

I do have a plan for this year. My plan is to enjoy myself. Banter with the spectators.  I will run the first 20 miles with the 4:45 pace group led by Pace Queen Deb and her able assistant Mike. We will arrive at the 20 mile marker at precisely 3:33:00. At that point I will leave the group and run exactly 10:30 pace and finish the marathon in just under 4:38:00. – WHATEVER!

The biggest thing is to relax and have fun. It is going to be really crowded during the first couple of miles. No matter how hard the organizers try, there will be slow people in front of you – although consider the idea that you may be starting to fast. Resist the temptation to weave through the crowd and add an extra mile to the 26.2 miles. That is far enough, you don’t need to add distance because of your impatience. That is coming from a runner who has done that.

RELAX – HAVE FUN – FINISH! Get that Bling!

Tundra Trailblazer Jill: Update

Hello, Friends!

We’re at this point of training…

Whoo! We made it to May. Just saying it’s May is a little overwhelming for me as I know it’s time: It’s Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Month. 


Somedays I feel like I’m ready and can do it. Others, I question my sanity and preparation to date. I’ve woken up at 4am a few days recently with racing thoughts (ha….that was a GREAT unintended pun.) Things like…

Why can’t I just dream
about this all night!?!

Did I train hard/effectively/properly?

What if my music dies? I don’t know if I can run 26 miles without “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat!?!

How am I going to get over the hard miles where I typically feel a mental slump coming on?
Am I going to be able to slow down and stick with my goal pace?
Why is my foot numb!?! I can’t run this thing with out it!?! Oh wait, the dog is laying on it…nevermind…
What if I feel like walking? Am I going to be okay with walking if I need to?
What if I have to use the bathroom when there isn’t one? Do I have a list of friends/family/family of friends who live on or near the race route? Man, I’d love to be a male runner sometimes…maybe I can invent something for women..no, Jill, stay focused….

And the one thought that plays over and over in my head….

Am I going to be able to finish? 

I think in answering all the other questions (except maybe the bathroom one…that one is patent pending), I know deep down I have my answer for this final one already.

YES! And you are going to. 
I have put in the work and have seen the results of this work to date. I’ve accomplished two PRs this training season in both the 15k and half marathon distance, and the latter in NOT ideal conditions. I’ve overcome prolong foot injuries through stretching and taking care of my body as I should when training for a strenuous task like the marathon.
Sure, there are things I KNOW I could do better during my training. 
I know next time around (see….I’m already thinking next time…that’s a good sign) now that I have the training aspect down, my nutrition and running diet is going to get kicked up a notch or seven. I’ve read blogs and articles about the toll distance running takes on the body, women in particular, and have experienced this first hand in my training. To put it simply:
One cannot simply run 20 miles and then eat like they would on a rest day or like a 2-year old candy-crazy toddler without any self control.  
Or even simpler: I suck at refueling my body during a recovery period.   
I think I’m hitting the wrong carbs
during recovery…
I know a nutrition blog post, I haven’t forgot about your request, Amy :), will be coming as I hone in on what is and isn’t working for me, and do a bit more research into the great tips and advice out there already on how to fuel one’s body for the best results on and off the course. I did read an interesting article recently about your ideal running weight, which I kind of did and didn’t agree with, but that’s for another day..
Rather, I’d like to talk about another of the main racing thoughts going through my head at 4am:
Zulily, you’re
speaking my language
What will the weather be on race day?!? 

It’s been pretty obvious since I started this blog that there are certain seasons that I loathe. And by seasons, I’m talking about the one that always lingers a little too long and has to get in the last say even when it’s totally out of context and bad timing.
(Kind of sounds like an ex-boyfriend…) 
I don’t have to explain that I am not a winter runner. It’s less the snow than it is just the cold, cold, cold winds blasting in your face, making things slippery and dangerous and miserable.
One thing that I should mention is that most of my runs are rural runs. So, when I complain about slippery, cold wintry weather, I’m running on unsalted/plowed, no sidewalks, open to all directions of winter wind gusts kind of outdoor running. Maybe I would feel different if I went elsewhere to run, like drove 5 minutes in town. But by the time I get that heated seat warmed up, I’m already planning my gradation and speed setups on the treadmill.
I psych myself out really is what it is. 
We’ve entered a new season!
But before I spend too much time complaining about winter when it isn’t winter anymore (YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!), what I’m getting at here is this:
My loathe may be someone else’s ideal. 
Uncle Jan (aka my running buddy)
& I after the Oshkosh Half 2017
Or, ideal running weather is a subjective yet all too important aspect to consider during training for race day. 
These sentiments were going through my head this past weekend at the Oshkosh Marathon/Half Marathon/5k, of which I completed the half marathon portion on April 30th.

I’ve mentioned this race before, both for how much I love the course, and in how the weather on race day is very unpredictable, as is ANY day in April in Wisconsin. It’s also the same half that I completed prior to my last Cellcom Green Bay Marathon full, which of course has been my goal focus over the course of this year.

This year at the Oshkosh certainly did not disappoint, with 20-30 mph wind gusts, and some dreary weather to compete with. As we made one of our final turns off towards the finish line, I knew there was no relief coming as the guy in front of me yelled, “Ugh! You kidding me!?!” and I felt his sentiment in turning a slight uphill directly into a brutal wind. Let’s just say, a very short and casual convo between a fellow runner and I went as follows:

Also what I was thinking
Ugh. wind.” 
“Right!?! I’m pretty sure it’s picked up over the last hour.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m not even going forward anymore.” 
But guess what?!?! I left that race with a PR of 1:48 for 13.1. (1:48:05 to be exact…1:47 is VERY attainable is what I’m saying.) 🙂
Man, did I need to see that number when I got to the finish line. Not only because I desired to be back in the 1:40s for a half sometime this year, but for a reason that I know MANY runners feel me on:
It proved I was mentally and physically strong enough to conquer my least ideal conditions. 
Now for others, this was a great day to race. There was one gentleman standing next to me that said, “Really, this is great running weather,” in regards to the temps (high 30s/low 40s) and then the gentleman who ran the 5k and told a local news stations that it, “Really wasn’t that bad out…” when he was done running

…which was 20 minutes into the half and full marathon runs….

(I’m chalking his comment up to the fact he had just finished and was on a euphoric runner’s high and wasn’t thinking about the hundreds of others still out running, hating life….)
In the end, I left this race feeling excited about my PR, but even more importantly, having learned a few things about how and why it’s so crucial to prepare for the weather on race day.
Good example from Oshkosh: Close to the end, when I was running in open terrain and open wind, I was TRULY regretting having stuck my gloves down the back of my outer layer at mile 3 as I could no longer reach them to put them back on. This resulted in my not being able to use my hands to open my uncle’s car, get in and warm up when I was done running. (Don’t ask me how I got in…let’s just say, he has a hatchback and I was so cold I found a way….)
Here are a few of my suggestions for preparing for weather on your race day. 
1. Pack like a girl going on her first date with her high school crush who she hasn’t seen in like 6 years 
Awww..aren’t we cute??
Don’t be fooled
This was 7 years ago, pre-children
so now we just look tired all the time…
This isn’t meant to be sexist, it’s actually just me. My hubby and I dated just out of high school, and then got back together 6 years later. So, I remember going to visit him for 1 night and packing an entire suitcase. Like seriously, I could’ve gone on an extended vacation and not worn the same outfit twice because I was nervous.
Oshkosh last week wasn’t that much different, and my uncle, also a seasoned WI race weather runner, packed the same. Here was our convo as we left his house:
“What are you going to wear?”
Me running an out-of-town event
“Well, right now I have on my dry-wick long-sleeved from the Madison Half, but I might throw on a compression underneath, or I have a short sleeved packed too that I might change into depending on how the wind feels. I packed a headband, but also a stocking cap, and then I have a couple pairs of throwaway gloves (note: these are $1 or less gloves specifically for tossing on the race route that you don’t care if you ever see again. SOME races pick up this gear and then donate it to local charities, so not a bad thing!!!), and an extra pair of clothes for after in case it’s wet out on the course. I also have my zip-up so that I can take that off easily if I get too hot, but I might stay double-layered..Or I might take off my pants and just leave on my shorts.”
“Soooo….you’re not sure yet??”
It isn’t going to hurt you to have options in your car and ready; especially if you’re going out for a distance that is going to keep you exposed for a long period of time and could put you at risk of frostbite, heat exhaustion, or more.
If you aren’t looking to pack a ton, here’s a fun link from Runner’s World that I’ve referenced as well about what to wear on race day.
This planning aspect goes along with my next point which is…
2. Acclimate to and consider your conditions 
I play the harp and piano as my profession. I am a harper, a professional harpist, whatever you’d like to call me. The harp, like all stringed and wood instruments, takes time to acclimate to the weather conditions, and the humidity and weather are crucial factors in what quality of sound I will get out of my instrument.
Since I want to make sure my clients receive the best product I can give, I make sure to arrive early and/or know my environment to ensure that I can offer a great performance.
Do this with your running too! Get to your event early and acclimate yourself to the conditions you will be working in. Get out, jog around, get a bit warm, and see how you’ll feel while out on the  course.
Better yet, take a look at your route ahead of time. Know where your hills might be, where you might hit winds (if you know wind direction that morning of) or where you might be exposed to the elements. (I always think of the Cheesehead Run Half Marathon – which also got props in Runner’s World recently for it’s after party – where you are running out in the open, truly country running.)
While out on the course, think about how the elements might make this race difficult. At the Oshkosh, the obvious was the wind. Once I realized the extent of it out about Mile 5-6, I toned it back a bit so that I could ensure I had enough steam left to finish strong.
My uncle said that he was pretty sure one runner was using him as a wind shield. If that’s your method of making it, more power to you. I however would not run directly behind any distance runner for a long time….reasons are for you to guess… 😉 But the idea is a good one: Running in a group is much like a V of geese in the sky (Does anyone else immediately think of The Mighty Ducks movie and hear, “Quack. quack. Quack! Quack!! in their head? No? Uhh…yeah me neither…)
The V allows one take the front of the pack, and then another, and so on.
If the flying V isn’t your style, here’s a few more tips for running on windy day runs. (Note: I really like this blog This Runner’s Recipes. Some great stuff on here!)
3. You CAN’T always take something off  
I agree with the saying “You can always take it off” to some respect. I will sometimes double layer for an event if I feel it’s warranted with the intent of taking layers off if need be. But this double layering can be impeded by my nemesis, the racing bib.
Don’t get me wrong: I like racing bibs. I keep all of mine in a little folder that someday I can show my kids for them to probably say something like, “That’s great, Mom. Now can I have $200 to go to the movies?” (I figure that’s what a movie and a popcorn will cost by this point in my life at the rate things are going…)
But bibs are great. They are like a name badge on your shirt (some, like the Fox Cities Marathon even putting your name on the bib vs. a number) that says, “Hey! I totally just did this or am going to/am currently doing this thing! Cheer for me!”
Yep, every time…
However, with the timing chip often in the bib itself and for photo ops (you know, they want to know what name to associate with that picture of you looking like the photographer ran over your dog at Mile 7), race directors request you have your bib on the front of your body, which often enough lands over your torso. (I’ve never been a huge fan of the leg option, but will do it from time to time if I can.)
This can limit your option to de-layer, so plan ahead for this. Further, and this is what I learned from the Oshkosh last week, don’t leave yourself without a secondary option.
I have a bad habit of pushing my gloves into the back of my shirt out of ease while running, but man did I regret this during the end of the race. So think about where and how to store any layers you may shed during the race.

4. Is it NOT your ideal outside? Good, then go out running. 

No, Tom, just no….
I know people say, “Every day is an ideal day to run,” or, “Just go out and run a mile and then let the rest fall into place.” Okay, that’s nice and all, but sometimes, I look outside and say, uh…no. You don’t have to go out in all conditions no matter what to be a runner. In fact, sometimes it’s downright dangerous to go out in the weather.
However, training in your non-ideal running weather is a great idea. If it’s windy out, or for me, if it’s snowy and cold, I will go out an suck it up because I need to know how my body will react (outside of being pissed off) to those conditions as, if I want to keep running races, I may be in those conditions at some point.
I got lucky this year with non-snowy, 30 degree temps for the Seroogy’s 15k in February. But I still went out and ran a couple of outdoor runs in less ideal weather to make sure I could do it on race day. And that’s probably why I PR’ed on race day. As much as I don’t like to say it, running in the cold and snow is what helped me do better.
I’m not repeating that again. So let’s move on. 
5. Know your ideal, and plan your events around it 
Other than the Seroogy’s, you won’t find me out and about as much in the winter. You just won’t. My body doesn’t like the cold anymore than my mind does (I have this fear of falling again and hurting myself…again…), so I opt for doing a lot of my racing fun from April – October.
I like warmer weather, and would much rather be hot than too cold. I don’t tend to overheat but feel the effects of a cold blast quicker. Obviously that’s not the case for everyone, so I encourage you to figure out what your ideal running weather is. While extremes (high winds, extreme cold, powerful rain/snow) would not be up much a runner’s ideal alley, getting a feel for your ideal temp, humidity, etc. may help you determine when best to train for a particularly long distance.
For me, I know that I am looking forward to possibly training for a fall marathon and using the summer warmth and early mornings to get out and get some miles in. I might even look at an out-of-state marathon for the first time… 🙂 (The year of NEWs if you recall…)
No matter what, just get out there and enjoy the day! Rain or shine, windy or calm, that feeling of accomplishing your set goals makes any situation worth it!
Make today your best day yet!

Tundra Trailblazer Jeff: Time to Taper


This morning we did the last 20 miler. April is ending (thankfully). The hay is in the barn so to speak – with our training. This April I ran 176 miles. More than I ever have before. I am somewhat trapped between satisfaction and disappointment. I am having some difficulty getting past the 16 mile point. Oh well, the hardest part is done. I have worked hard, as most of us have, this year. It is the first time that I have gotten over the 40 mile per week line without getting injured. A lot of the credit goes to the weight work that I put in as well as the gradual build up. Now, the idea is not to screw up all that hard work.

There is solid scientific evidence that the taper is an important part of race training. That taper should last about 3 weeks. There is a lot of calculus that goes into the exercise physiology of the taper. For our purpose, lets stick with a logical algebraic plan. The idea is to taper – not stop training. It is important to know that it takes about 13 days to gain a positive effect from a hard workout. So – no point in working hard within 13 days of the marathon.

It is generally accepted practice to gradually reduce your miles per week, your long runs and then the intensity of your workouts. A good rule of thumb is to run 85-90% of your weekly miles in the first of the 3 week taper. So for me, I’ll use 40 MPW as my peak. This week, I will cut my total mileage to about 35 miles.  Saturday’s long run will “only” be 12 miles. It is designed to run at the pace we have been running at. Don’t pick up the pace. Enjoy the fact that you won’t be struggling to climb stairs.

The second week of the taper, cut another 10 -15% off of your MPW.  I will drop down to about 30 miles. No high intensity workouts this week. My midweek workout will probably be a nice set of half mile repeats, and a little below marathon pace. Saturday’s long run will be cut to 8.5 miles. Remember when we built up to 8 and 9 miles runs this winter. It seems so much easier now. Enjoy it. You’ve earned this.

The week of the marathon, I might do 15 miles. All of them will be easy cruising miles. We should feel life coming back into our legs. Take it easy this week, Strong, fresh legs are key. Another thing, the week of the marathon. HYDRATE – HYDRATE SOME MORE. My normal water intake is a little more than a half gallon a day. I’ll do my best to double it that week. A growing number of experts are saying to run an easy mile or 2 run the day before the race to get the blood flowing. This year, I’ll try that as well. Enjoy the taper. We’ve earned it.

Tundra Trailblazer Nicole Update

Hello, Everyone!

This past week, I finally participated in my dream race, the Boston Marathon. Of course, I finished, but it was not quite the time I was aiming for, but I definitely could take in some lessons from the race course itself.

It’s been six months since I started running again since I had surgery last July. Getting back into running shape included running the mother of all marathons, Boston. To qualify for the race itself is very hard. Some wait years until their race time is good enough for it. Heartbreaks happen even before the race whether that was just missing the standard, your qualifying time just missing the accepted entrants, or facing an injury before the big race.

I knew going into race I had the disadvantage, from a training aspect. If Boston magically became a fall marathon, I would have been more prepared, but running Boston had been a goal of mine the whole time, despite injury.

People always tell you, “don’t go out too fast at Boston, you’ll pay for it later,” and they were right. I found out that going out easy is not even easy at Boston, simple as that. People that start with you obviously have similar qualifying times as you, but how they got that time is completely unique. I was talking to another girl out on the course and she qualified with the Houston Marathon, (behold the course for all Olympic Marathon qualifiers), a flat course. The next guy, a hill course because he wanted to challenge himself before he ran Boston. Either way, people have a preference on race times for Boston.

Between the 5K and the Half mark, I came across some Wisconsinites. (More side notes: one guy was wearing a Cellcom Marathon shirt, bonus points) From what I was grasping from other people out on the course, you pretty much talk to everyone, then, it’s not fun to talk when you die.

The Newton hills are what killed my race, and no, it was not just the heat. Remember when I said I was not ready? This is why. In reality, I am not a HUGE fan of hill running, but could I take Newton as a reason to improve next time? HUGE YES. The world famous Heartbreak Hill lies in Newton, but those crowds at every sideline of the race keeps your head up and makes it your number one priority to finish, after all, you qualified, you should finish! Every runner on the race was supportive. If you kept your eyes on Runner’s World, they had some coverage of runners helping out each other finish when a runner grew faint.  (Can I mention that a runner walked the Boston Marathon in a walking boot? I can relate to walking in a 5K, but hey, they qualified!)

I did manage to finish at 3:50, honestly, my worst marathon time ever. Despite all the went wrong in the race, the advantage of bad races, is that you can take some pointers and take note of the things that went wrong and make them right next time. Even if I PR in a race, I even ask myself, how could have made it a bigger PR?

My initial reaction after the race was that I never wanted to run that race again, but then I realized, I’m still young, and reflecting on my last paragraph, how do I come back stronger than ever? I personally decided to wait a few years before going back to Boston, but it does not mean I will wait that long to run another marathon. The thing I can honestly tell you is that I’ll always aim for the 3:35 (actually 3:30, if you want to guarantee it) marathon finish time, and hopefully beat my 3:23 relatively soon, but for now, focus on the small points I missed when training for the race.

Now, running into your last few weeks of training, Cellcom runners, be smart and safe. Some of us absolutely hate the taper, but do not let your training go to waste. If you are trying to qualify for Boston, develop a great race strategy to help you make that super smile when you hit that finish line. Personally, what helped me for my qualifier was to start slow and end fast. I made a personal pace band for 3:30 that showed me what elapsed time I should be if I ran that time. If you need any assistance, there are plenty of references available to you.



Tundra Trailblazer Nicole: Update

Boston Marathon, here I come!

Hello, Everyone, once again! Sorry for a slight delay in my postings! My laptop decided to not work earlier this week! I would think most of you have encountered some technology failures. So, here am I typing this awesomely epic update on my little phone. Hooray! (Not)

On March 25th, I logged in my longest run in my training cycle for Boston, 22 freaking miles. It was a huge milestone for me because it was the longest training run I have ever ran. (I may note that the furthest I ever ran was, yes, a marathon.)

One of the hardest things training for Boston was building up mileage. Since I could not run for three months, it was hard once I picked up miles that were once easy. Each long run on Saturday, I learned to be patient, I learned when to take it easy, and take it in one run at a time.

On March 19, I ran a local race in Two Rivers. As a competitive runner, it was not easy taking in the finish time. Even when I ran my last race this past Saturday, a 10K, I was not satisfied with it. Both times were my third fastest times, I had to remember exactly what I have been training for the whole time, the Boston Marathon.

From day one of when I wrote down for a school assignment to run Boston by the age of twenty-five, time started ticking. The miles were not easy going into my first half marathon one year after I wrote down my goal. I was not happy with my first half, which lead me to wait yet another year to throw two more with a month in between.

A few months after considering how to take on my next goal of running a marathon, I needed community support. No, it did not take a literal city to convince me to run one, but I turned to my Facebook friends. Over the course of four years in high school, I friended a lot of runners from all over the place, and following high school, a few more. Right before the Cellcom Marathon first price increase, I made my decision to run the marathon.

I needed more than just people off the sidelines, but needed someone alongside me the whole race. To feel the same pain I was experiencing at the same exact moment. If it wasn’t for Nick, I do not even think I would be even toeing the line in less than two weeks. It not only was Nick, but the rest of the Awesome Rogue Trotters, Alex, Erika, and Ryan. Following the first marathon, their marathon times were slightly faster, and since I have beaten them in some races, I had the confidence to beat their times. Did I mention some of their times were close to 3:35? Erika went to Boston last year, so when I toed the line of my second marathon. I had purpose and I earned my 3:23 and my BQ.

Despite what happened last July, I overcame a lot just to train for one race, but it is more than just a race, it is my motivation to start speed training, increase my strength and flexibility and make my running more efficient. Maybe my fractured foot is an opportunity, time will tell. Again, facing a few starting lines in the next few weeks and months will need confidence, patience, and trust.

As I go into the final week before Boston, I will be joining in for the half marathon route at the Prevea Training Runs on Saturday, April 8th at 7 AM. Hope to see you all there! (And let’s hope my laptop will be okay! Fingers crossed!)

Tundra Trailblazer Jill: ISO: A Running Sitter…and a Therapist….

Woohoo! It’s April!

Also happening in April…

Relaxing April rains, warmer weather, and the promise of summer coming soon. I know, this is WI, so there’s always the chance of one more great snow storm. I do recall being snowed on camping once at the end of May, but…

I’m being hopeful, so don’t bust my bubble on this, people.

This month’s running events include the longest runs of marathon training. Saturday’s run was the first of these, at 16 miles, and this week follows with 18, then 20, with a “break” at the end of the month to participate in the Oshkosh Half Marathon on April 30th.

In other words, I like to call this month: Hell Month.

Or in a positive light, the most crucial month of prep work for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. It’s the point of no return, and I’m feeling like I’m going to make it. Or maybe I’ve just had a lot of coffee right now, and I’m feeling the running high still from my recent productive training runs.

Either way, today I feel like I CAN run a marathon. 
And that’s a great feeling.

Saturday’s 16-mile run went relatively well, with my pace a bit below my goal marathon pace. However, I’m finding a comfortable stride around the 8:12-8:21 min/mile range. I ended up with a 8:33 min/mile pace due to running out of water, starting to feel ill, and also running into Grumpy Cat in the last 2 miles and HAVING to stop and take a picture. We’ll see how the 20-milers go coming up, but I’m hopeful to attain my sub-9 min/mile goal.

Injury-wise, I left Saturday’s run pain-free (WOOOOHOOO!!!!!!) outside of the fact that I shortly after realized I was getting the stomach flu that my kids have/had/gave to their cousins…. I spent the next day and some change hydrating and NOT eating anything, which I should add is my FAVORITE thing to do after that long of a run; eating whatever the heck I want which is usually pizza, or chocolate….or pizza with chocolate. Mmmm…chocolate pizza…..

I don’t like donuts, but pizza…well, I mean…

With my foot issues, I solicited/took (thank you Run Away Shoes..again…) some advice from a few local runners, did some research, and eased up on 1 run a week that last two weeks, taking things down to running 4 days/week and XT 1-2 other days. That seems to have done quite a bit for my foot injury, along with a lot of stretching, rolling, and a LITTLE extra help in the Ibuprofen realm as well.

Who would have thought? Stretching and rolling, right!?!?

But as I mentioned in my last blog post, which you can find here, I was skimping on those all too important warmup and cool-down aspects of my runs to avoid sinking further and further into that fun thing called….

Just trying to protect everyone,
that’s all
“Mom Guilt” 

Mom Guilt 
/mam/ or /MAAAAMMM!!!!!/ /gilt/ – noun – A remorseful feeling a female caretaker gets when spending 473 hours/day caring for her offspring is not enough and she chooses to partake in a completely self-serving act focused on increasing her physical, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being which in turn requires her child to be in the care of another individual and/or temporarily self-reliant. These acts include any and all forms of exercise, showering, entering a level of REM sleep, eating a meal without getting up 17 times, watching a show they DVR’ed 4 weeks ago, and so on.

See also: Marathon Training Mom Guilt, Hangry Mom Guilt, I Just Don’t Care Anymore, But Feel Bad 20 Seconds Later That I Said That Mom Guilt, & Go Ask Your Father.

2 of my 3 Human Beings

Now, before you think I am saying this is only something that a sexually-defined female caretaker of another human being can feel, I’m not. However, I happen to be said sexually-defined female who is the main caretaker of 2 (okay, let’s be real, my husband is also included here…) 3 human beings who also happens to believe in speaking from my own perspective and not generalizing to all sexes, types of parents, or those who choose to not have kids but have other very demanding obligations, and so on and so on.

In other words, I’m going to go with term Mom Guilt, and you can adjust accordingly to relate…or not, if you don’t. In that case, I need to be stronger like you are, because I SUCK at not allowing my children to drain my emotional tank on a daily basis.

First, can I just say, why do I do this to myself!?? 

Where does this feeling that I need to constantly be showering my children with attention come from? And why am I constantly buying in to it? I can think of 2 main reasons: The Internet & Society (this is starting to sound strangely like a paper I might have made one of my students write..oh well, on we go…)

1. The Internet
Well, ironically as I’m writing this online blog about the topic, that is actually part of the problem: EVERYTHING IS ON THE INTERNET! 

Nap Time Target Runs Be Like….

Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest, and reading running blogs, and seeing pics of my friends kids whenever I want. What’s for dinner? Let’s see what Pinterest has to offer. What local races are coming up? Check the Facebook running pages. I don’t even enter stores without consulting my coupon apps and price matching the items on Amazon. And if I can help it, sometimes I don’t even enter a store at all; especially, around nap time.

In the running sense, the online world can be a great place to go to get tips and ideas on how to overcome injury, up your pace game, and even put healthy meals on the table.

However, it can also be TOO full of ideas or as I like to call them “Awesome Things I Won’t Ever Do That Make Me Feel Like I’m Totally Doing This Running Thing Wrong” or “Things I Shouldn’t Read In Lieu Of Seeing The Doctor Because Now I’m Afraid I’m Going to Die”.

Good Example: Runner’s World articles. On one hand, there are a lot of some great tips and ideas that come out of the plethora of posts that fill their Facebook page daily. However, there are 2 things I notice that bother me:

1. They use the word “mortal” to describe a normal runner and “elite” to be anyone who evidently is “really good” at it. Seeing as how mortal is being used in contrast here to something obviously quite “superior”, and the word itself has a secondary meaning of “leading to death”, I mean I’m not literary genius, but there’s probably something better out there that could be used. Maybe something like “bad ass runner who doesn’t get paid for it” rather than mortal?
I don’t know, just throwing ideas out there. 

2. They like to post articles about scary rare health problems in runners that can come up that you have no control over. If you read them at 10pm (along with binge watching Unsolved Mysteries while your husband is at work), good luck sleeping…ever.

Anyway, my point here is that the internet can make you feel like out of control and inferior in many of your life roles;
a mom ABSOLUTELY being one of these.  

There are a plethora of ideas online of what you “should” being doing for your kids (throwing elaborate birthday parties, planning out organic, nutritious, color-coded, themed lunches each day of the week, having in-depth discussions about the US current political system, etc.), that if you buy into all of this,
you might as well kiss any time to yourself and your own personal wellness goodbye. 

There’s also the other end of this spectrum – those that shame other moms for going above and beyond at times for their kids. I’m not going into that here, but to those that judge openly please heed this advice:

99.9% of moms posting about their personal triumphs in motherhood (eg- putting pants on their kids before 10am, getting more than 7 consecutive hours of sleep, peeing in private, etc.) are NOT doing it to make you look bad. They are NOT thinking about you as they do things; they are feeling good about accomplishing something and/or are excited for what they are doing for their kids. End of story. 

So calm down and go eat a Snickers. 

In my case of Mom Guilt, I feel guilt a lot of the time; no time more than when I’m marathon training. Having to ask someone to watch my kids so I can go out running feels selfish. I also have the added fact that this time around, as a Tundra Trailblazer for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, I am chronicling via social media every aspect of my training. That’s new for me, and at times, I wonder if other’s are thinking about how much time I can truly be spending with my children if I’m always out running.

The internet world says I should be spending every waking moment making my children handmade clothing and singing about our favorite things, so how could I possibly plan, prepare, and then execute up to 5 runs a week?

Conclusion: I must be a bad mom. 

And I don’t mean in the hot Mila Kunis “Bad Mom” sense. I mean in the sense that I’m doing something that is just for my personal well-being and only my well-being. Although I sometimes consider where she’s going with the day drinking thing….. 

2. Society 
I’m new to this SAHM/WFHM (stay at home mom, work from home mom) thing. Until recently, I was working full-time in my career field on top of teaching Sociology coursework at a local college all while running a successful music business as a performer. In other words, I was doing what American society told me I should: Get an education, and then work, work, and work some more.

We have an obsession in this country with being the best, and with that doing the best. And the best often times correlates to financial success, which in turn means you have to have a paying job. So, in the a nutshell without getting too into this, I have found in my switch from the career world to being a SAHM, SAHMs are the hardest working, least appreciated professionals I know. Hands down. I’m not arguing this. Here’s my FAVORITE completely biased, non-researched based video to back my personal opinion. (Around 3:15 is my favorite part: Moms are the best!! guy…)

A more statistically sound example, I logged 1,243 steps DURING dinner yesterday. DURING. I also wrote this blog over the course of 6 days. Mostly child-caused delays, some due to lack of personal motivation….

So here’s a fun psychological experiment to play. True or not, do this:

Tell someone you are a SAHM or SAHD. 
I mean, don’t randomly walk up to people and do this. Next time they ask what you do, tell them you stay home. 

When I started telling people this, I saw a major switch in people asking me about my personally derived success (when I was a professional in my career) to almost feelings of sadness for me or jealousy for my new found “freedom”.  No longer was I being asked about my degree, what I liked about my job, etc. I got a lot of the following comments/questions (and had a lot of the following thoughts as well….)

“Well, what do you do all day then?”
(Not sit at my desk and think, “It’s really quiet here today. Where is everyone?”)

“But you got your Masters degree and now you’re just sitting home. Doesn’t that make you feel bad?”
(I do more counseling now than I ever did. Ever had to talk a 3-year old down from eating an entire party sized bag of M&Ms and then explain why this is wrong? Yeah, let’s just say, we had the police on backup…)

“I wish I could/I would get so much done if I stayed home all day.”
(Oh yeah, I mean, now that we are always home instead of the kids being at daycare, obviously there aren’t more meals to make, dishes to do, things to pickup. My kids never need me, and I don’t ever have to stop what I’m doing to assist them in going to the bathroom from the 47th time that hour. It’s a cakewalk really….)

“You’re so lucky, your husband must have a really good job.”
(My HUSBAND is so lucky that I am willing to give up my career to allow him to continue his very demanding schedule to benefit our family. He is also lucky his is a male in a traditional male profession and thus, as is still so very common, makes more in overtime than I did in a weekly paycheck. I am lucky because I get to spend so much time with my kids every day. That’s what makes me lucky.)

“You’re so lucky that you don’t need to work.”
(That’s right. I don’t work at all nor do I miss it. I just sit around all day while the kids rub my feet and we listen to classical Chopin nocturnes whilst discussing our latest Dickens read..)

“Well you have the time to do things, you don’t work.”
(“Things” – Chauffeuring, babysitting, volunteering, childcaring, cooking, cleaning…)

My LEAST favorite one is: “I wish I could run/go to the gym/stay active. But I have to work.” 

I hate this one because I really CAN’T argue it to some level. I always went to the gym and ran either before work or during my lunch hour, but I truly don’t think I would marathon train if I were in the same boat I was last year, working 3 jobs and raising kids.

So I’m back to feeling like a guilty mom. I am lucky that I get to be with my children so much, that is true. But at what point am I allowed to make time for me without feeling judged?

You are your own worst enemy

Can I fit into this equation still? And should I? 

The short answer: Hell yes you should.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Bad is a subjective term. YOU define bad for yourself. Yes, things like the internet and societal mores can definitely enhance or influence your feelings of being “bad” or a “bad mom” tins this case. But, your perspective in the end creates the bad.

So how am I getting over this mom guilt while marathon training?? 

1. I’m consciously choosing to no longer buy into it
2. I’m focusing on all the benefits my marathon training has for my children

This past week, I bought my daughter new shoes. She might just call these sneakers, or tennis shoes, but she on her own calls them her “running shoes.” My son asked to go running to the stop sign with me (about .3 miles) and was so excited to talk to me about how he thought he was getting faster, and do what mom does. (Tear….)

Proud Running Mom moments right there. Also, a constant reminder that they are watching me, they are looking up to me, and they are learning from my example.

In some ways, this is OK…

I know my daughter didn’t think up the name “running shoes” on her own. She watches me put mine on and both her and her brother talk to me about my running, always asking, “How was your run, Momma?” They know that this, marathon training, is something that is truly important to me. They are seeing the dedication and hard work that I am putting in to it, and they seem proud of me. (Tear again….)

So why would I feel bad about that!?!?!

I will only be able to continue being a good role model if I continue to take care of myself and do things the right way.

So that’s my input on my struggles with Mom Guilt and marathon training. In conclusion, be nice to yourself, be nice to others, and remember that not everyone actually throws their kids birthday parties with handmade personalized party favors for each kid to take home sprinkled with real bits of gold.

Damn you, Jeni…. 🙂

Unless you’re my sister Jeni, then yes, yes you do. 

Wow, It’s amazing what comes from marathon training!

Not only am I learning a lot about how to overcome physical limitations, I really do feel that by dedicating myself to such a strenuous task I gaining a little bit of me back, and feeling emotionally stronger along the way.

Maybe I don’t need a therapist after all. I just need to keep blogging…. 🙂

Make today the best day yet!


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January 2018
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