marathon training

Monday Motivation and Boston thoughts

Hey it’s Marathon Monday!!!!  I’m so excited for all those who ran this morning at the 2015 Boston Marathon.  I have so many friends who ran today, both virtual and in real life that I found myself constantly checking updates on my phone!!  I’m happy to report everyone I know finished the race, and it looked like such a blast.  I wish I could list them all, but hope they know I love and cherish each and every one of them as runners, and friends.

So this got me thinking about all things that are Boston, the number one of which being SPEED.  This is something that has never been a part of my life as a distance runner, or any other type of runner to be honest.  I’ve always been an average runner.  I’m not a ‘back of the packer’ but I am by no means, fast.  So does that make me less of a runner?

Let’s ponder that thought for a bit…shall we?

For fun, I looked up the Boston Qualifying times…FOR FUN.  Although I’ve never even dreamt of BQ’ing, I decided what better day to look up the facts and see if I could ever feasably qualify.  For my age group I would need a minimum of a 3:45 finish time.  Mind you, my fastest full marathon time is 4:25 and I have NO idea where that race even came from other than God himself as it truly was the best race of my life, and I can recall nearly every second of it.  But on the same note, I pushed myself harder than ever that day, and had to reach down to the very depths of my soul to find the strength to finish that marathon so strongly. I can’t even fathom running a faster marathon.

Does that make me less of a runner?  Some would say, yes…

Sometimes I catch myself questioning that statement…but only mostly during a race, or an event like the Boston Marathon.  Most of the time I am completely satisfied being an average runner.  But I suppose it is normal for nearly every distance runner to wonder…what if?  Could I qualify? Could I run the race that is the end all and be all of all things distance running?


But I know myself, and my abilities as a runner…so the answer is:

Probably not…and that makes me NO LESS of a runner AT ALL.  Because during every run I am out there giving it my all…it may not be enough to BQ…but I strive to be a little better with each year for ME.

That won’t stop me for drooling over Shalene, Desiree and Meb and their amazing talent.  It won’t stop me from cheering on my friends who ARE speedy, and celebrating each finish line and finishing time.  It also won’t stop me from hoping one day…just maybe when I’m 65, that I’ll BQ, lol!!!  ❤

Have you BQ’d or are you striving to BQ?  What are your thoughts on the importance of speed?

Thanks for your support!  Have a great day, y’all!!!

❤ Michelle

Three things, Thursday, training

What would Thursday be with out Three Things? TTT

Boring, right? Today’s three things are all in one way or another running related.

So here are my three things, in no particular order for the week.

1. I CAN DO THIS. No wait…I AM DOING THIS…I have started out week 1 of marathon #3 training quite well if I do say so myself.  I’ve worked out every day this week so far, and am feeling strong despite lack of sleep due to hubby travels again.  Is my endurance where I want it to be?  No way…but it’s week one, right?  3 shorter distance runs, 30 minutes of yoga, daily planks/pushups, with a 6 mile long run on deck for Saturday….I got this!!!  Positive thinking is in full force.  Step aside any negativity, please.

Pic credit:
Pic credit:

2. In regards to my last post about Treadmill tips, I enjoyed reading ALL of your ideas.  So today I decided to try watching the show “Chopped” on my Kindle and make the show into an interval session of sorts.  Yup…I can turn just about anything in to something that involves running, especially when I am in official training.  So it went a little like this.

My Kindle perfectly covered the screen of my treadmill!
My Kindle perfectly covered the screen of my treadmill!

While the four Chefs were introduced by Ted Allen I started slow, at about a 5.4 mph pace (keep in mind I kept the read out covered WITH my Kindle so these are only approximate speeds-in fact I am not concerned with speed this year, but that’s my next ‘thing’).  After he told the Chefs to open their baskets, I sped up just a little more-maybe to 5.8?…I held this pace while the Chefs cooked, until their two minute warning, where I sped up significantly running all out for those 2 minutes.  Once time was up for that round, I scaled the time back to my 5.4 mph-ish pace again and held that until the next round.   I repeated this sequence for all 3 courses and it worked GREAT.  I also had my friend Maria helping me out virtually, which I really can’t say enough about.  There’s just nothing better than supportive friends and family during training.

Yup.  No quitting here.
Yup. No quitting here.

3. Speed snobs.  There…I said it. I have always praised the running community and how welcomed I have felt since moving to this area almost 4 years ago.  But every now and then I catch myself succumbing to the speed snobs snide remarks or lack there of when I post a run on FB (for example).  I will never be a 7-8 minute miler, and am honestly happy with that fact.  In fact, I run for peace of mind, release of stress, AND because it’s a healthy exercise.  I have no need to go ‘balls to the walls’ for EVERY. SINGLE. RUN.  That is not peaceful for me.  There is no release in that type of running-for me.  But in the same breath, I applaud those who CAN run that fast and enjoy it at the same time.  I have never been one to judge another runner, or compare my pace or goals to anyone other than ME.  We aren’t all like that tho, are we?  So the slight sting I felt today was brushed off quickly and replaced with the other 99% of runners in my life, as well as family and friends.

Pic Credit:
Pic Credit:

Does positive talk come in to play during your training season? Have you ever made up your own “Interval training” program creatively with a TV show or music? How do you deal with the elitist type people who seem to put everyone else down?

Keep Movin’ forward, y’all!


❤ Michelle


Naperville Half Marathon 2014 race recap

I went into this race with few expectations.  I got lazy (too busy more so) with my training and just prayed I had enough left in the tank to get this race done, and done strong.

I woke up at 4 am, got ready and hit the road to Naperville to meet up with the gang.  I texted Andrea, letting her know I pooped…LOL.  On going joke…sorry haha!

I got to Naperville at 5:45 and waited in the warmth of my car for everyone to arrive. Everyone arrived safely at around 6:15, and we had plenty of time to get settled.  I ate my cereal bar, chugged my 5 hr energy and we were off!

What a beautiful sunrise…and I am NOT a morning person!
These amazing people…I can’t say enough about these girls.
The starting line was lined with flags, and I was truly moved by the beauty of it all!

We lined up at the start, getting in to our respective corrals and bid each other high fives, hugs, and good luck.  I turned and saw Claudia, a woman I met during the Fox Valley training runs I paced, so we agreed to start together.  YAY!  The national anthem was beautifully sung, (sang?) and the race kicked off…it only took about 10 minutes to cross the starting line.  (They could’ve spaced this a little farther apart, as the course was slightly crowded the first few miles).

We stayed together the first couple miles, and she caught me at mile 9 walking-thankfully her motivation got me running up that terrible hill!
We stayed together the first couple miles, and she caught me at mile 9 walking-thankfully her motivation got me running up that terrible hill!

The first several miles felt great.  I thought to myself, HEY…I can DO this…but my excitement got the best of me and I went out too fast.  Rookie mistake.  Beginning mile splits: 9:33, 9:03, 8:58, 8:58, 9:02, 8:51, 9:11, 9:53 (took a walk break to fuel during the 8th mile. I saw Karen at mile 8.5 and nearly sobbed!  A friendly face, YAY!  We hugged quickly and I kept moving.

And then came mile 9…the hill from hell where it felt we were out in the middle of no where.  I walked briefly and then saw Claudia…I tried to stick with her, but it just wasn’t happening.  But I kept her in my sights, along with her awesome hubby who was on his bike throughout several spots on the course.  Seeing him helped me keep going…

I decided the sub 2 just wasn’t going to happen…I had a stitch in my side that refused to go away.

So I high fived all the kids.  I thanked all the volunteers and spectators.  I dug deep and searched for my smile. And I ate a piece of bacon from some amazing dude grilling at around mile 11…and I kept running as fast as I could.

Miles 10 and 11 were 9:51 (another walk/stretch break), 9:20 and my right ITB was SCREAMING at me, making my right knee, and foot feel like they were on fire.  I was done.  I lost sight of Claudia, and I sincerely just wanted to stop.  But I saw her husband at mile 12 and he reminded me “You are doing this for fun,” to which I forced a smile and kept going.

And then…I saw THIS.  (Thanks, Andrea for the picture).

No "Oh I wish I was running the full" feelings here.  AT ALL.
No “Oh I wish I was running the full” feelings here. AT ALL.

The stitch in my side was almost unbearable…but as I hit mile 13 and barreled up the .1 hill to the finish line (having a hill at the finish is just MEAN), I was satisfied.  Slight disappointment for yet another NOT sub 2 half briefly hit me, and the tears brimmed in my eyes. But I reminded myself I wasn’t properly trained, having only run ONE 9 miler since the Fox Valley half marathon in September.  So instead I celebrated all of my awesome friends finish times, and PR’s.  Final miles were 9:30, 9:13, 3:18 for the last .1.  I was blessed to have received my medal from Bob Miller, marathon maniac, and after a hug and smiles, I felt better.

Oh…and all the massages….all the food…and all the beer.

Two Brothers pale ale? You betcha!
AHHHHMAZING perk to this race. Stretching AND massage tents.
I may have eaten two of these…don’t judge.

At the end of the day I did what I set out to do.  Complete this race in under 2:10.  And of course, spend time with some pretty cool people.

Yes...I had about 57 layers on and STILL was cold, while Andrea was in shorts, LOL
Yes…I had about 57 layers on and STILL was cold, while Andrea was in shorts, LOL

I also got to see Carolyn finish her race, PR, AND qualify for Half Fanatics!  YAY!!!!

So proud of this girl!
So proud of this girl!

Pros of the race:

Plenty of port a johns at the start.

Lots of aid stations.

The spectators were amazing

Stretching AND massage tents.  SCORE!

The food/beer was warm/cold respectively

Having the gym open for the runners/spectators

Volunteers!  I can’t say enough about these amazing people

Cons of the race:

Disorganized gear check causing lengthy waits after the race

Not enough signage telling discombobulated runners where to go after the race

Mean security cops/guards.  Cut us some slack fellas…we just ran our butts off!


All in all I had a WONDERFUL time despite some self inflicted pain.  I would definitely do this face again!

Also, I was successful in my November goals by 99% only having missed out on doing yoga.  Score!

Did you race this weekend?  What is your favorite perk of the after race events?

❤ Michelle


Three things, Thursday

I haven’t slept worth crap (is sleep really worth crap?  I digress…) this week.  I can pretty much pin point the problem, but it’s a good problem if that makes sense…

1.  I am breaking up with my love of my nightly glass (or 2 or 3) of wine.  For those that know me, you know I LOVE wine.  I love researching vineyards, checking out new wines featured in the “Wine Spectator”  magazine, and my husband and I enjoy attending wine dinners.  And so my habit formed, and I saw myself downing at least 2 large glasses in the evening, which of course let to a “good night’s sleep.”  But was it good?  Nah…I wake up feeling unrested, and sluggish.  Hung over?  Nah…I’m not THAT bad, lol.  But unrested regardless.  So this week with my goal of not only having fun training for my hubby’s first half marathon, I decided we needed to cut back on our other passion…sorry wine…you and I will still meet up, but at a lesser frequency.


tee hee
tee hee

2.  Sometimes, people will hurt our feelings.  I will leave this one a bit vague…but I will say I have a teenage daughter.  (Enough said?  lol)

Despite having a great day at work, my heart got the best of me, and I let attitudes and looks nearly ruin my day.  I went upstairs to change in to my running clothes, yet really I just wanted to sit in the bathroom and cry silent tears.  I splashed water on my face, got my gear on, and came downstairs to get ready with my husband for our 4 mile run.  Thursdays work perfectly for our run as we drop our youngest off at the Park District at dance class for an hour, which is just enough time to run and peak in and see her dance for a few minutes.  But my oldest saw my face…and knew I was upset after I finished getting ready.  “Mom, can I have a hug?”  Of course…I love my daughters dearly…#sigh


3.  My husband and I had a GREAT run.  Neither of us has been feeling very rested…between the wine, and working more hours than we can count, we decided tonight’s run we would take it easy.  We did our speed/hill work out Tuesday, so tonight we planned on settling in with him letting me dictate the pace.  My goal was to keep it under a 9:30 pace, with a desired average pace of 9:15.  We finished at a average pace of 9:18, and the best part?  Him looking at me nearly bewildered saying, “That was a GREAT run, and I felt like I could’ve kept going!”  WIN.  During our run along the Fox River we spotted several fisherman that had 6-8 fishing poles set up.  My husband remarked, “Just think, some of these guys are probably relying on those fish for dinner.”  And suddenly my piles of student loans and debt seemed very small…and I silently slapped myself in the head for always wanting more…

Oh, and my hubby has learned this lesson too during his long runs…LOL

Doh!  Embrace the chafe?  LOL
Doh! Embrace the chafe? LOL

How is your week going?  Do you use speed/hills in your training? How do you prevent chafing?  (I use good ole Vaseline)  Have you counted your blessings tonight?  There is still time…


❤ Michelle


dedication, food, goals

Sammiches and Speed, in no particular order

The new season of Master Chef is upon us, and after watching the first episode last week I decided it is time to step up my game if I ever want to even DREAM of trying out. Regardless of whether or not I try out-I plan on upping my recipe collection and continuing to work on someday writing my own e-cook book. This cook book will encompass not only recipes for fancy dinners, but recipes for people on the MOVE.
So last night for dinner, I made Panini’s.
What you’ll need for a family of 4:
4 chicken breasts, pounded out thin with whatever have in the kitchen…I use a meat tenderizer hammer/gadget
–season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil and pan fry with avocado oil until lightly browned on each side-set aside
4 pieces of genoa salami
8 pieces of Ezekiel bread (or your favorite bread of choice)
thinly sliced parmesan cheese, 2-3 pieces per sammich
2 thinly sliced tomatoes per sammich
1 cup of baby arugula lettuce, 1/4 cup for each sammich give or take…
For the spread:
1/2 cup light mayo, mixed with one clove of garlic minced, 1/2 of a lemon juiced, pinch of oregano, basil, and cayenne pepper.

Preheat your griddle on high, and butter the bread lightly with unsalted low fat butter. Compile your sammiches with the above ingredients, lightly coating each piece of bread with your yummy spread. Once browned lightly, place on a cookie sheet, and see the attached pic for my make shift Panini press.
1-panini press makeshift style
Cook at 325 degrees with the sammiches pressed for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees. I served with pita chips and stuffed tomatoes! The tomatoes were seasoned with evoo, salt, pepper, and stuffed with low fat mozzarella cheese/parmesan cheese and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and parsley.

Quick, easy, and healthy all around for the most part…:-)

Today was run night, so after work I came home and made a quick dinner of tacos and beans before heading out to get our miles in. I can’t eat before I run, so we ate after our run.
I warned my husband who has started his half marathon training full force that I was feeling pretty tired and wasn’t sure about how fast I could go…he nodded, put in his ear buds and we took off. We had a 3 miler (ok, 5K because I can’t just run 3 miles lol) scheduled, and starting out I felt oddly strong. It normally takes me a few miles to warm up yet as we took off I felt strong. We finished our first mile in 8:51, and suddenly my goals switched from easy miles to running our 5K in sub 9 minute miles. Our second mile was a 1/4 mile of up hill so we clocked it at 9:02…I wasn’t going to let this sway my goal of a quick speed work run at this point, so we pushed each other the last 1.2 miles with a 8:50/7:58 min tick.

As a previously known ‘solo’ runner, I have found an inner peace and a new found respect for my husband as we train TOGETHER. We push each other, encourage each other, and at the end of each run we end it with a sweaty high five and “good job.” I still enjoy running alone, don’t get me wrong…but having my husband along side of me during these runs has given me an added boost that I really needed coming off a fall injury. I started to doubt myself this winter, wondering if I would ever run another distance race…wondering, questioning, asking myself CAN I DO THIS ANYMORE??

But I can now say…YES. I can do this…I CAN break my sub-2 half marathon goal THIS year…I don’t NEED anyone other than myself, to say, YES I CAN. But it sure is nice to get accolades from fellow runners, page owners, and blog posters. THIS, brought to you by Run Nerds Rock…he posted it on my page today and I had to choke back the tears…THIS dude, that just ran a 100 miler was telling ME I am bad ass…LOVE it.

And I tell you what…I feel pretty darn bad ass. I am no Kenyan, but my progress makes me proud regardless, in speed work, in the kitchen, and in my life.

Keep Movin’ forward gang…always…

❤ Michelle

dedication, food, goals, Uncategorized

Breaking up with the past, and more…

I didn’t blog last week…we all have those weeks that catch up with us and we find ourselves too busy to have time to unwind.
And this blog, is my unwind/rant/let it all go type of space.

Last week I only logged 10 miles. 2 runs with my hubby, and a five miler on my own. I see myself getting stronger, and a tad faster despite the impeding humidity. We gave ourselves the weekend off, as my hubby was suffering from a pretty sore knee and I don’t want him to get injured before official half marathon training starts next month.

Last week I cut out nearly all gluten, processed foods, and wheat to see if it helps my tummy issues. So far, not a big change, but I am continuing on my search for a healthier me. I am down 1 lb. with 8 more to go.

Last week I let some unnamed ghosts of the past haunt me, and I have since then kicked my own tail, and have decided to quit chasing relationships that don’t exist and focus on the great people in my life instead. It’s a daily struggle, but I’ll keep movin’ forward.

Last weekend, I spent the weekend with my family having fun in the city, and working hard on our home. We also enjoyed some yummy octopus that I can proudly say my kids ate and loved. I was also blessed to attend church with my family and friends, who have become family to me in these last three years of living in the Midwest. I even attending my running sister’s first Mary Kay party! What fun to be pampered for 2 hours!

me and the hubs at our favorite place in Chicago!
me and the hubs at our favorite place in Chicago!

Carolyn's first MK party!
Carolyn’s first MK party!
Final dish, grilled octopus served over an arugula and escarole salad with sautéed shitake mushrooms, garnished with a red pepper relish
Final dish, grilled octopus served over an arugula and escarole salad with sautéed shitake mushrooms, garnished with a red pepper relish
my amazing daughters that will try anything I put in front of them!
my amazing daughters that will try anything I put in front of them!

Memorial day we spent the day staining our deck, weeding the garden, and trimming the hedges that have somehow have TREES growing in them…WHAT? I have the scars to prove it, LOL. I got nearly 2 miles in before some major storms hit, and kept my pace in a sub 9 min mile pace. My goal is to keep that pace for many more miles, but I am starting this goal with realistic expectations.

Our deck!
Our deck!

Last night, my husband and I watched my all time favorite show, “The Master Chef” and I was reminded of my desire to be a professional Chef/cook one day. Besides running, I find myself at peace the most when I am in the kitchen ‘creating.’ He urged me to try out last year, but sadly real life can get in the way of our life goals and dreams sometimes and we have to keep plugging forward in jobs that satisfy the ultimate purpose of paying the bills, not fueling the life passions we may currently covet.

Love. This. Show.
Love. This. Show.

Tonight, the hubby and I ran our 2 miles in a gazillion percent humidity at a 9:18 min mile average pace. Not our best, but we got out on the trails before we were hit with some crazy storms.

As much as I preach it, I am still learning myself…to Keep. Movin’. Forward.

moving forward, running

Great Western Half Marathon 2014, the good, the bad, and the ugly…

Race day started a little like this:
I woke up this morning just before 3 am to pee…and couldn’t fall back to sleep. When I retain water, I feel it first in my hands and as soon as I woke up I realized I couldn’t get my rings off…the scale confirmed added water weight, and immediately got nervous. I tried to go back to sleep with no luck, so I was starting race day with about 4 hours of sleep. Ack.
I got up at 0540 hrs and slowly started getting ready. My gear was all set out, so thankfully I didn’t have to think about too much. I was ready…
I came downstairs, had my Nuun water and scoop of peanut butter with chia seeds…it’s my go to pre-race fuel as my stomach often likes to act up on race day.
I met the girls at the school where the buses were shuttling runners to the race, and we were lucky enough to have Katy’s husband drop us off. We were there with a good 45 minutes to spare, so we checked our bags and made our way to the porta potties. It was windy, overcast, and quite cold but made for perfect running conditions (minus the wind). I did a 1/4-1/2 mile loop to warm up, and soon it was time to settle in to our respective starting time waves.

Sole sisters true and true
Sole sisters true and true

I went into this race with NO expectations. I wanted to finish, and not die. My winter running has been sporadic to say the least, and the polar vortex of Chiberia kept me indoors most of the winter which meant 2-3 miles on the dreadmill, and walking the halls of the hospital on lunch break. Thankfully the last month or so I have managed to get my long runs in on the weekends, but the longest I’ve done in 2014 is 10 miles. I have, however, been working on my speed work outs ensuring at least 1-2 of my short runs were at desired race pace or faster. I worked so hard to get my speed last winter, which often curtails in the summer due to full marathon training and heat which slows me down. This year, however, I will NOT be running any full marathons, so my goals early in the year were speed. Yet I digress…back to the race.
Me and Katy!
Me and Katy!

Runners at the start
Runners at the start

Circle of shoes
Circle of shoes

As our wave took off, I watched Janel and Melissa take off at breaking speed…I smiled, knowing my own limitations of having to hold myself back the first few miles in order to save gas for the end. Katy and I hung together the first couple miles, and around mile three it was time to break away and run my race.
I. Felt. Great. I was running at a pretty constant pace of 9:20 the first few miles…breakdown of my miles: Splits were 9:20, 9:22, 9:37, 9:26, 9:33, 9:16, 9:16, 9:04, 8:52, 9:02, 9:02, 8:39, 8:48, 7:45 for the last .2
I hit mile 6, and I was no longer running…I couldn’t feel my feet hitting the crushed limestone, yet the beautiful sounds your feet make when hitting the ground lulled me into a beautiful rhythm,…I found myself once again, flying. I was running physically, but my body was flying, singing, dancing to a beat only I truly understand. Seeing my friends both on the way out, and coming back gave me an added perk in my step, and I saw a possibly sub 2 in my horizon. At mile 8 I felt my calf cramped up so I stopped at the next aid station to take salt tabs and walk it off. I walked (fast) all of the water stops, and wonder if this lead to the demise of my sub-2 dream…
Yet I kept pushing, nearing the point of losing what little was in my stomach several times (for half marathons I fuel with sport beans only every 4-5 miles to save my stomach), but I was NOT going to give up…I saw Janel and Melissa at mile 8-9 and gave them a quick pat and smile as I barreled through the trails and runners, to finish this race strong. The last mile and a half was beyond difficult, with the slight up hill curve and the wind picking up and deciding to slap me in the very tired face…but I kept movin’ forward. I felt my Garmin vibrate signaling the 13 mile mark, and watched my sub-2 goal fly by in the wind. I crossed the finish line at 2:01:09, and after getting my medal I had to choke back the tears.

People tease the fact I am so emotional at times, but I have come to love who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This race was tough for me, being under trained after a tough winter both in running, and in life.
But I proved to myself today, that no matter what happens, I don’t quit.
That sub 2 marathon WILL be mine…it’s just a matter of not giving up.

I did celebrate with my daughters, and TRIED to eat this…my poor stomach said otherwise, LOL.

BLT, not so much...LOL
BLT, not so much…LOL

All in all, it was a GREAT race…
Despite some glitches in registration, the race staff and volunteers were AMAZING, the course was well marked, and aid stations were plentiful. This was my second time doing the Great Western Half, and it won’t be my last!