2019 Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon Recap

Who had the most fun at this race??

I’m gonna go ahead and say me. 🙂

I’ve never felt more joyful to be at a start line, to cross a finish line or to run all the miles in between.

It felt like a looong year coming back from last summer’s injury, and at times it was hard to believe I’d ever be ready to run this race. But once I finished my 20-mile run and began tapering, I knew I’d done all the physical work I could do. Then, it was time to start the mental work.

I listened to running podcasts throughout my training, and anytime a host asked a guest about the best books they’d recently read, they all seemed to mention Deena Kastor’s memoir, Let Your Mind Run. I figured I’d give it a shot during the extra downtime I had in the three weeks leading up to the race.

If you’ve read the book, you already know it’s a game-changer. If you haven’t read it, get on it! I credit so much of my positive mental state during this race to the things I learned from Deena. I shared so many amazing quotes from the book to my Instagram stories, and one in particular stood out and rang through my mind again and again:

What I needed, I had. What I was seeking, I was. The accumulation of miles and wisdom were present, ready to be written in the race.

Deena Kastor, Let Your Mind Run

I was wary that I hadn’t included enough downhill running in my training—hello, it’s an entirely downhill race!—but I had purposefully avoided it since it’s so hard on the body and likely contributed to my injury last summer.

I pushed that and every other doubt out of my mind, simply trying to believe that I was well-prepared and ready to crush the race. Anytime a negative thought threatened to creep in, I squashed it with something positive:

I am so strong. I am so ready. This is going to be FUN!

I thought it. I felt it. And then I lived it.

My wonderful friend, neighbor and running buddy Hallie offered to drive me to the start line at Hyak, near Snoqualmie Pass. The course is point to point, and the alternative to being driven is to wake up really freakin’ early and ride a shuttle bus to the start, so I was very grateful to her! Also, it meant Aaron and Evie could sleep in a bit before cheering me on later.

It was so great having Hallie there with me, as she’s run this race twice before and knew all the right things to say. It was also nice to be able to take shelter in her car, since it was about 55 degrees and raining when we arrived at the start around 5:45 am. Everyone else was huddled under every available shelter, so it was nice to be able to stay warm and dry just a tiny bit longer.

On the drive up, I drank my usual Fab 4 smoothie, which literally no one would ever recommend you drink before a marathon! It contains spinach, kale, chard, cucumber, chia seeds, collagen, nut butter, frozen blueberries and coconut milk. So much fiber! So the opposite of what everyone says you should have before a race! (So don’t follow my example. 🙂 )

But I’ve had it every morning for the past six months or so, including before all of my long runs, and it’s always worked for me. And by “worked” I mean it gives me reliable results in the bathroom and keeps me full with about 530 calories of goodness and lots of protein.

I hit the porta-potties immediately upon arrival, then went back to the car, got all my gear on and did my dynamic warmup in the rain.

I wore my Ultimate Direction hydration vest with watermelon Nuun in the bottles and six vanilla bean Gu gels in one of the pockets. I had my phone in another pocket, and headphones around my neck ready to listen to podcasts through most of the race (creature of habit!), and then pump-up music for the last six miles or so.

I also had a headlamp on since the beginning of the marathon course runs through the Snoqualmie Tunnel, a 2.3-mile stretch of pitch blackness. It’s very cool, but a little scary if you’re running through it alone, which I did last summer!

After my warmup, I was cutting it really close to the 6:30 start time to squeeze in one last porta-potty stop, and I really had to pee. I ran over to the lines and hoped they’d move fast. Hallie, bless her, grabbed me a Ziploc bag and wrote my bib number on it so that I could put my headlamp in it and toss it in a box after the tunnel, then retrieve it at the finish line.

I peed just in time (and it was a BIG one, so I felt good about my hydration level 🙂 ), then ran over to the start and squeezed in between the 3:55 and 4:00 pacers. I wasn’t planning to follow a pacer at all, but I figured that was a good spot for the pace I wanted to start out with.

Cut to the National Anthem, a few tears that threatened to escape my eyes and a very excited selfie. It started raining a little harder and I was all for it. Party in the rain!!!

They did a wave start to minimize crowding in the tunnel, and I was in the third group to go. We were off, and I was smiling so big from the very first step!

Grateful. That’s what I felt as we ran the short distance to the beginning of the tunnel. I couldn’t believe I was finally running a marathon for the first time since Big Sur in 2015.

Running through the tunnel with so many other people was so much fun. Compared to running through it by myself or with just a few other people, all the headlamps lit it up like it was practically daylight. It didn’t feel crowded at all, and I easily maintained a nice bubble of personal space. It felt cold in there at first, but I quickly warmed up and maintained a pretty perfect temperature for the rest of the race.

The bad thing about the tunnel is that it really messes with your GPS and you can’t trust the pace on your watch at all. I’d glance at my pace every now and then, and it would say I was running 9:45 pace or something, but I knew to ignore it and just keep going. People would pass me and I’d keep thinking, “Run your own race.” Mile one is not the time to freak out about going too slowly.

The tunnel seemed to fly by (again, running with other people makes a world of difference!) and I very carefully put my headlamp in the Ziploc bag, zipped it shut and tried to throw it in the box… and wound up hitting an older female volunteer standing behind it directly in her crotch. WHOOPS!!! I said, “I’m so sorry!!” and she said, “It’s OK!” Mega fail. But it did bounce off of her and land in the box. 🙂

After that, we hit the three-mile marker and I noticed a few things: my watch clocked in at 25:XX, so no way was I running 9:45s in the tunnel, and my watch said I’d only run 2.75 miles so far. All kinds of jacked up. Again, I just noted the discrepancies and didn’t worry about them. I felt good and was running at a comfortable pace, so I continued doing that.

I popped in my earbuds and turned on an episode of the Ali on the Run Show featuring Mirinda Carfrae, the three-time Ironman world champion. Fun fact: Aaron and I were in Kona on our honeymoon in 2014 and saw Mirinda come back from a 14-minute deficit off the bike to win the race! Noooo big deal. If there’s anyone who could keep me feeling motivated during a marathon, it’s her!

The interview was great and I just chugged along. I ate Gu #1 around 4.5 miles, and crossed the 7-mile timing mat at 1:01:05 (8:44 average pace). I’d planned to start out around 8:45-8:50 pace and then try to speed up after the halfway point, if possible, so I felt great at that point. I ate Gu #2 around mile 9.

Then, around mile 10 or so, my headphones shut off for no apparent reason. When the battery is about to die, it’ll usually say “battery low” in my ears several times, then eventually shut down. This time, it just said “power off” and that was it. Umm, OK?? I had fully charged them before the race, so I have no clue what happened. I tried turning them on again a few times, but they just kept shutting right back off.

It’s so funny that I trained for so many hours with these headphones, and THIS was the one time they chose to randomly die on me, but I didn’t dwell on it. I just figured that I was meant to pay attention to the sounds of the race—the crunch of footsteps on gravel, the cadence of my breathing, the rain—and accepted it.

Deena’s quote rang through my mind once again:

What I needed, I had. What I was seeking, I was.

I looked forward to seeing Aaron and Evie at the halfway point and focused on that. Somewhere around this time, I passed the 3:55 pace group. I didn’t really mean to, but I was running how I felt like running and it worked out out that way. The pacer was very vocal with his group, encouraging everyone and whatnot, and I was surprised to hear his voice fade into the distance behind me. Now that he was back there, I vowed to not let him pass me.

I crossed the 13.1-mile timing mat at 1:55:08 (8:47 average pace). Still on track and feeling good!

Evie and Aaron were THE CUTEST when I saw them, cheering me on with a big, bright pink sign that said “Go Mama!” I threw my dead headphones to Aaron and said, “I feel great! See you at the finish!” Another runner commented on how cute Evie was and gave me the warm fuzzies all over again. 🙂

I ate Gu #3 around mile 13.5. I think this photo was taken just before I took it out of my vest. Thank you to USA Endurance Events for the FREE race photos!

This race course is so freaking beautiful, winding through forests and over bridges, passing sheer rock walls, waterfalls and breathtaking views. Who needs podcasts?? I was happy to have my full attention on everything around me.

The rain was light enough to not be bothersome. Even when the wind picked up a bit, it felt nice and cooling, and I didn’t mind a bit. It felt like nothing could ruin this race for me!

My mental strategy was to not think about how far I’d already run, but focus on how far I had left to go. For some reason I broke it down into 10 miles + whatever, and that seemed so manageable. At 15 miles, “only 10 miles plus 1.2! That’s so easy! I can do that in my sleep!”

When I hit 17 miles and had only single digits’ worth of miles left to run, I was THRILLED. In my mind, I was practically done. It sounds funny now, but it worked so well!

I think I ate Gu #4 around mile 17.5. Along the way, my watch had adjusted to nearly match up with the mile markers, but then it kept on going—it was telling me I’d already run 18 miles, for example, but then I wouldn’t hit the 18-mile marker for another quarter mile. That was hard on my mental game, but I tried to keep track of how much it was off so I’d know when to expect the next mile marker. By the end, it was off by almost half a mile.

It seemed to take forever to get to 20 miles. I crossed the timing mat in 2:57:52 (8:54 average pace). I was stoked for several reasons:

  • I was not hitting any sort of wall.
  • I had less than an hour of running left.
  • I knew I could PR, barring complete disaster.

At that point, I hadn’t taken anything from any aid station and was getting low on my Nuun. I unscrewed one of my bottle tops as I ran up to the next aid station and quickly dumped three cups of water into it, screwed the top back on and kept running.

I knew around mile 21.5, we’d transition from the John Wayne Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, which meant we’d kind of run around a switchback at the Cedar Falls trailhead and begin our final descent to the finish line. Again, it seemed to take forever to get to that point and I was eagerly anticipating it! There were big puddles along this stretch and my legs got pretty muddy, but somehow I kept my socks dry. I ate Gu #5 somewhere around here.

Finally we made the turn onto the SVT. I heard the 3:55 pacer behind me as I made the turn and was like, goooo! He never did pass me. 🙂

My legs were feeeeeeling the downhill. I had expected my knees and quads to be in pain, but it was actually my calves that were like, “Hiiiii, what is happening?!?” They felt very heavy and like they might cramp up at any second.

Inspired by Deena Kastor yet again, I imagined that what I was feeling was actually all the power I’d built up in my calves over the past five months, and I pictured the ground sending energy back up into my legs with every step. When I started to worry about cramping, I just thought, “Nope, not today!”

I had made a Spotify playlist for this portion of the race called BREAK THE GLASS, as in “break glass in case of emergency.” Even though my headphones were dead and gone, I still wanted to listen to it, so I turned it on just loud enough so I could hear it and angled my phone in the vertical vest pocket so that the speaker pointed up toward my head.

I’M SORRY if that is an asshole move to play music out loud and potentially disrupt other runners when they’re in the zone, but the field was pretty strung out at the this point and I figured if anyone was mad at me, I could just run away from them. 🙂 No one ever said a word, so it was either quiet enough that nobody could hear, or they actually liked the music, or they were just too polite/hurting too much to yell at me.

Anyway, the playlist gave me just the energy I needed and made me so happy. I felt joyful and lighthearted even as my calves threatened to seize up at any moment. Here it is, to give you an idea of the vibe:

  • Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin
  • Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty
  • Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
  • California Girl – Cheap Trick
  • Tom Sawyer – Rush
  • Good Times Bad Times – Led Zeppelin
  • Toys in the Attic – Aerosmith
  • China Grove – The Doobie Brothers
  • Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
  • Let It Go – Idina Menzel
  • Feelin’ Alright – Joe Cocker
  • Listen to the Music – The Doobie Brothers

Basically high-energy classic rock with a dash of Kelly Clarkson and the triumphant anthem from Frozen, then finishing off with some happy, chill songs that brought me through the finish line. So random, yet so perfect.

I ate Gu #6 at mile 23 or so in the hopes of fending off cramps, and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

At one point, I curled up my toes to try to loosen up my feet, and that legit made my calves cramp. It caused me to stumble a bit, like Bambi trying to walk on ice, and another woman asked if I was OK. I shook it off and kept running, vowing not to change anything again and just keep moving!

I look happy enough at mile 25. Almost done with this thing!

Those last few miles were so rough and felt like they took forever, but according to my splits on Strava, I kept a pretty even pace: 9:06, 9:07 and 9:06 for miles 24-26. I did stop for maybe five seconds at mile 26 to quickly stretch my calves for the final sprint, which I did at 8:24 pace.

Get. Me. To. That. Finish. Line!!!

I saw Hallie and her kids, Evie and Aaron cheering alongside the flags lining the final stretch and was sooo happy! I freakin’ did it and overall felt stronger and better than any other marathon I’ve run!

I finished in 3:54:16, a five-minute improvement on my previous PR from the 2013 Chicago Marathon (3:59:13) and a 20-minute improvement on my most recent marathon time from Big Sur in 2015 (4:14:12). It may have been a downhill marathon, but it came with its own challenges and required just as much strength to get through as any other!

Take the splits with a grain of salt because, y’know, tunnel:

I smiled the whole way across the line, then burst into a kind of dry heave/ugly cry, feeling so overwhelmed to have come so far, literally and figuratively. I couldn’t wait to hug everyone.

Bless these people for waiting and cheering in the rain. How often do you get a cool, wet marathon at the end of July?? Perfection!

I spent the rest of the day relaxing at home, attempting to stretch and foam roll but not getting very far because my legs were in so much pain, and hobbling around. I hobbled pretty solidly for three or four days. I don’t think I’ll be doing another downhill marathon anytime soon. 🙂

I’ve taken this past week off from all exercise, and will probably take next week off too since we’re going on vacation! Then, I’m excited to gradually begin running again and work toward my next goal.

For now, I’ll continue to bask in the immense joy I’ve gotten from achieving this one.

Shoes: Brooks Glycerin 17
Tank: Lululemon Swiftly Tech Racerback
Bra: Senita Sarah
Shorts: Brooks Chaser 3″
Hat: Oiselle Runner Trucker
Vest: Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Hydration: Watermelon Nuun
Nutrition: Vanilla Bean Gu
Headphones: piece of shit, don’t buy them 🙂

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

From Injured Runner to Marathon Finisher

I’ve neglected this blog in favor of the ease of Instagram, but I want to catch you up on everything that’s happened since last fall. Spoiler alert: I just ran a marathon! And not just any old marathon; I ran a five-minute PR!

I’ll write a full race recap to share all about how I got to the finish line. But first, here’s how I got to the start line.

After I got injured in July 2018, I went to physical therapy once a week through September to correct my SI joint dysfunction and build strength in the surrounding muscles. Then, I began working with a running coach in October to improve my form and slowly begin to run again. And by slowly, I mean sloooowwwwlyyyyy.

My coach gave me strict orders to not do too much, too soon. That meant sticking to an easy mix of running and walking, and keeping my heart rate between 135 and 145 bpm, which was equivalent to about a 12:00 min/mile pace. It was so hard to be patient, but I followed his recommendations!

We met several times through November, working on things like a warmup routine and form drills, and then I took a complete break from coaching and running through the holidays.

However, I stayed active by walking on the treadmill for an hour at a time several days a week. I watched a lot of Scandal. I also started the Bikini Body Guide program (BBG) from the beginning again just before Thanksgiving to get stronger and help keep holiday pounds at bay. It worked on both counts!

On January 1, I felt full of hope for 2019 and ran a symbolic mile around my neighborhood to mark my return to running. I ran it in 9:16, which was definitely too fast for my fitness level, and it made me feel achy in the SI joint area. 😦 I went back to a mix of walking on the treadmill and very slow running/walking outside, and scheduled another package of sessions with my coach.

I was so pleased to see big improvements in my ability to complete my coach’s drills with proper form due to my increased strength (especially core). Thanks, BBG! It made me think, “Huh… there’s really something to this idea of whole-body fitness when it comes to running.” (Duh.)

I continued to follow my coach’s guidelines with easy running/walking, and gradually decreased the amount I walked and increased the amount I ran.

Finally, on February 23, I felt good enough to run a full four miles and completed them in 38:34 (9:38 pace). I wasn’t exactly following coach’s guidelines… but it felt great to me, mentally and physically.

From there, I just kept on running. Three miles one day, five miles another day. By the end of March, I felt solid enough to start training for Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon—the same race I’d trained for in 2018, but couldn’t run due to my injury.

My coach wasn’t exactly supportive of my jumping right into marathon training, but I chose a fairly conservative 18-week training plan (Hal Higdon’s Novice 2) and figured I’d take it one run at a time and see how far I could get. Highlights of the plan:

  • Four days of running per week
  • No speed workouts
  • Two rest days per week
  • 1 hour of cross-training per week
  • Peak week of 36 miles
  • Longest run: 20 miles

Compare that to the aggressive plan I followed last year (Hal Higdon’s Advanced 1):

  • Six days of running per week
  • 1 speed workout per week
  • One rest day per week
  • No cross-training
  • Peak week of 58 miles
  • Longest run: three 20-milers

Like night and day!

And, no surprise, I felt so much better following this easier training plan. It was so manageable, and I never felt burned out.

Unlike any other time I’ve trained for a marathon, I actually completed all the runs (except when I skipped the entire first week of the plan since I was so sick with a cold) and cross-trained by riding my bike for an hour every Sunday starting in week six.

I think the cross-training made such a big difference. I ran long on Saturdays, rode easy for 12-13 miles on a local trail on Sundays, and on Mondays my legs felt so much more recovered than if I hadn’t done anything at all.

I also grew to really love my time on the bike! Riding in (mostly) perfect weather in the spring and summer felt like total bliss. It was awesome and freeing to be able to cover so much more distance in an hour on the bike than any hour I’d ever spend running, and I got to see my usual running routes in new ways. I was also able to do a few rides with Aaron when the grandparents were watching Evie, which was super fun for me and probably very slow and boring for him. 🙂

Another thing I did differently: I consistently worked on my core strength with The Dozen workout (recommended by my running coach) and on my hip strength with the routine my physical therapist gave me to do at home. Well, I did all this sporadically for the first several weeks, then really buckled down for the final eight weeks and did core 2x/week and PT 2x/week.

I figured out that I could use my lunch break at work to go down to the (free!) gym in my building and do these strength workouts, then run in the evening. Breaking up the work made it seem less daunting and gave me more free time in the evenings. A typical week looked like this:

  • Monday: midday PT
  • Tuesday: morning core + run (I work from home on Tuesdays)
  • Wednesday: midday PT + evening run
  • Thursday: midday core + evening run
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: long run
  • Sunday: bike

I quickly established this routine and never looked back. Hitting the gym added a nice break to my day and made my lunch (eaten afterward at my desk) taste so much better. 🙂

I can’t stress enough what a huge difference this strength work made in my training and in running the marathon itself. In the past, when my long runs got up to 15+ miles, I always remember my lower back and shoulders feeling so tired and sore by the end. This time around, they felt perfectly fine. Sure, my legs were tired, but the rest of my body felt well-supported and strong.

Game = changed.

A few other things that happened during training: when I started the plan, I no longer had time on weekends to meet with my running coach, so I phased out our work together; we last met in April. I learned so much from him—a proper warmup routine, form drills, etc.—but private, in-person coaching is expensive and not something I can afford on an ongoing basis. It’s something I’m certainly open to doing again in the future to continue improving my running.

I also ran a few races! At the end of April, I did the Mt. Si Relay with a team of four other women. We covered 59 miles altogether; my legs were 6.1 mostly flat miles (7:56 average pace) and 6.8 entirely uphill miles (8:27 average pace).

I was thrilled with those paces given that I hadn’t done any speedwork since getting injured. I just ran comfortably hard while listening to podcasts to keep my mind occupied. I was definitely spent by the end of each leg, but I felt strong while running and nothing hurt. It felt amazing to run fast (for me) and not trigger any of the familiar old aches and pains.

Oh, and we WON the women’s open division of the relay with our overall average pace of 7:49! It was a beautiful weather day, and we had a ton of fun to boot.

I also ran the Nordstrom Beat the Bridge 8K in mid-May. I work for Nordstrom, so the event is a big deal in our office every year. The race benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and every Nordstrom team is tasked with raising a certain amount of money. I volunteered to help lead the marketing team’s efforts this year, and we raised more than $20,000, beating last year’s fundraising! I raised a little over $10,000 of that by asking for donations from friends and family on Facebook, raffling off prize packages on Instagram and selling a whoooole lot of Aaron’s amazing homemade cookies and treats at work over the course of seven weeks. It was fun to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the race this year beyond just running it. Huge thanks to any of you who donated! 🙂

As for the race itself, my only goal was to have fun and hopefully PR, since I was sick (again!) that weekend and spent a lot of energy helping with packet pickup the previous day and the morning of the race.

Luckily, I was able to shave four minutes off my 2017 time for a PR of 40:06 (8:04 pace). I also ran 10 more miles later on to complete the 15 miles I was supposed to do for the day. (This all seemed very normal while I was doing it, but now sounds crazy looking back!?!? I was really terribly sick, but somehow felt better while running!)

I think that about brings us up to speed on everything that’s happened since I last wrote! I documented most of my training on Instagram, so you can always catch up there, as well.

Next up: my recap of Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon, aka three hours and 54 minutes of the most fun I’ve ever had while running!!!


I am grateful for my injury.⁣⁣
A year ago, I would have never imagined I’d say that. It’s certainly easier now, on the other side, to see beyond the struggle and heartache, to appreciate the lessons.⁣⁣
When I surprised myself with a 9-minute half-marathon PR in the spring of 2018, I became intoxicated by the idea of getting faster. I believed I had all this speed I’d never tapped into before, and if I just worked at it, I could run a BQ. So I jumped right into an aggressive training plan filled with speed work, goal-pace runs and many more weekly miles than I’d ever run before. ⁣
I did get faster—but I was stacking block upon block to build a soaring tower with a nonexistent foundation. It’s no wonder it eventually came crashing down.⁣⁣
It took me a while to recognize that my injury was of my own making. And then I realized I could do it all differently and create a better outcome.⁣⁣
I’ve spent the last year slowly moving cinder blocks into place. There’s one for strength. There’s another for stability. Another for form. And, to fill in the gaps between those: plenty of patience. Determination. Persistence. Belief.⁣⁣
I’ve built my foundation. Every step of this marathon, I’ll run on that foundation. I have every reason to believe it will get me to the finish line feeling healthy and happy.⁣⁣
And then? I’ll look forward to my next goal and start stacking my blocks: a speed workout here, a few more miles there. But not too many. Not too fast. And I’ll continue to work on all the things that will keep my foundation strong.⁣⁣
I wonder: How high can my tower go?⁣

(Photo taken after my successful 20-mile run. I was tired. 😄)⁣

What I Learned at My First Real Coaching Session


I was so nervous leading up to this.

My first meeting with Coach Frank left me lacking confidence in my running ability, and a horrible cold left me flattened for a few weeks. I felt like I’d lost all my fitness. When I got dressed for the session, I realized it was the first time I’d put on workout clothes since our first meeting two weeks ago. And before that, it had been since mid-September. That’s a big leap from working out six days a week for months at a time!

But my nerves dissipated as I walked onto the track on a beautiful, sunny Saturday and saw my coach finishing up with another client. She was a woman in her late 40s or early 50s, running at a slowish but steady pace. As she ran laps, I asked Coach Frank how long she’d been working with him. He said a few months. First, they worked on form and gait; now, speed.

In our initial meeting, he had mentioned some of the incredibly fast high-school track kids he coaches, so I was happy to see at least one other person who started with him from square one.

I was relieved to find out I wouldn’t be doing much running that day. Instead, we focused on learning 10-12 warmup drills that I should do before every run. I know from my high-school track days, Runner’s World and every serious runner I follow on Instagram that I should warm up—yet I never do! Those days are over. It was so helpful to have Coach Frank walk me through each warmup drill so that I knew exactly what each one should look and feel like. We’ll continue to work on them in upcoming sessions until he’s confident I have them down.

Next, I ran one easy lap around the track—an effort of 4 on a scale of 1-10. I was happy to finish the lap feeling good and not sucking wind like I’d imagined. I could have done a few more! Also, nothing hurt—thank goodness.

Finally, we moved on to two form drills: one for my arms, and one focusing on legs.

Coach Frank told me that I waste energy holding my arms up higher than they need to be and swinging them across my body as I run. I learned to hold them just above my hips, keeping them bent at the elbow at a 90-degree angle as I swing them front to back (or “hip to pit,” as he says) from my shoulders. Keeping my arms at that 90-degree angle is tough, since I’m used to flailing all over the place. It’s a change that won’t happen overnight. I’ll have to practice, practice, practice until it eventually becomes second nature. I can’t wait to see how this alone will change my running!

The final drill involved practicing an exaggerated version of the proper leg motion I should be doing while running; it also involved the arms a bit. It was like a four-step process in slow motion, and there was a lot to think about. I did it several times on each side as Coach Frank gave me correctional cues. With this, as well as the arm-swing drill, the more I overthought it, the worse I did. Every time I was able to relax and let things flow, that’s when I did well. Isn’t that so true of running, too?

I walked away from the track that day with exactly what I wanted: renewed hope and confidence for my running future. And I really like working with Coach Frank so far. He gave clear directions and gentle corrections, plus praise when I did well. He cracked a few jokes. I had fun learning from him! I’ve paid for a package that includes three more sessions, and then I’ll figure out where to go from there.

I have so much work to do before I start training for another race. I’m signed up for the Orcas Island 25K (recap) again at the end of January, so I hope to be able to do that. And the Lake Sammamish Half (2018 recap) is in March, which I feel like is far enough away that I could be ready.

For now, Coach Frank told me to run no more than a few miles a few times a week, and to really focus on warming up properly, cooling down/stretching afterward and practicing the form drills three times per week.

At this point, I’m running zero miles per week because I’m still trying to get over my cold. I’m through the worst of it, but my coughs are still “productive” (gross) and I still have pressure in my sinuses to the point where my teeth hurt. I was feeling a lot better, but then had a pretty active weekend (pumpkin patch, coaching session, family photo shoot on a 40-degree morning) and by Monday felt like I’d taken two steps backward.

I’m really bummed that I’m missing the best month of fall running. The leaves are ablaze and the weather is beautiful. I guess I could be walking, but I’ve been resting as much as possible in the hopes that it will help me get healthy faster.

Plus, I’m actually enjoying being lazy. Maybe I’ll just write off the rest of October and hop back on the workout/running train with—I hope—renewed energy in November.

Working With a Running Coach: Step One

I wrote this last week, before my first real workout with the coach. Post-workout post coming tomorrow!

Despite being cleared to run by my physical therapist, my attempts to return to running have been clumsy and painful. I know I need to change my form and gait to run more efficiently and help prevent injuries in the future, and I know I need someone to help me do it properly. I’ve read tons of articles, watched video tutorials, etc., but nothing compares to being on the track with a professional who can give me personalized feedback and cues.

I Googled my way into finding a local running coach who is certified by the Road Runners Club of America and USA Track & Field, and who was also a professional runner before going into coaching about 20 years ago. He is extremely popular, so I was nervous about getting time with him, but I was able to schedule an initial two-hour session fairly easily.

We spent the majority of that session talking about my history with running and injuries, his coaching method and philosophy, nutrition, hydration and more.

He’s a very matter-of-fact guy; there was definitely nothing like, “You can achieve any goal as long as you work hard enough!” in our conversation. I don’t think he was trying to discourage me, but was just making sure my expectations were in check. I’m not trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials or anything; I just want to run pain-free and eventually qualify for Boston, so I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

As we talked about my running history and I described the training plan I used for Jack & Jill, he wasn’t shocked that I got injured. Running six days a week with higher mileage than I’d ever run before for my first marathon training cycle after having a baby? Never warming up? Rarely cooling down/stretching after runs? Doing almost no cross training? Well, duh.

So I felt very humbled by our talk. Hindsight is 20/20 and he helped me see the reality of what happened. I wonder if a female coach would have been a little gentler with me and given me more encouragement about what I could achieve in the future, but I can appreciate that he’s just not that kind of coach, and I can handle some tough love.

We spent the last 15 minutes or so on the track. First, he watched me walk away from him and toward him several times. Then he inspected the wear pattern on my shoes; I wore the last pair I had trained in for Jack & Jill. Then he watched me run back and forth on the track with varying degrees of effort, and finally filmed me doing so.

He talked me through a laundry list of issues while showing me the video evidence, and it was all plain as day. I hold my arms too high and swing them across my body instead of forward/backward, which is extremely inefficient. He said that would be a relatively easy fix compared to what was happening with my gait.

My hips sit too far back, and I run from my knees down, meaning I don’t make use of my quads and hamstrings like I should. He said, “You’re a strong woman” (why thank you!) “but you’re not using your main sources of power.” Damn.

It’s encouraging that the coach could spot my issues and articulate them so easily. I should be excited to tackle them head-on; I can only improve, right? But I feel discouraged and embarrassed that I’ve been running so wrong for so long. I always thought running was such a natural human action; how could I possible screw it up? I also thought that about breastfeeding before I became a mother, though, and I quickly learned how wrong I was about that!

So my brain and emotions are at odds right now. Logically, I know I can improve if I put in the work. Emotionally, I feel intimidated and lacking in confidence. I’m three months out from my injury and have only run a few miles a handful of times since then. I feel out of shape because—between a week of travel and a horrible cold—I haven’t exercised at all in three weeks. My first workout with the coach is tomorrow. This… will be interesting.

I hope to walk away from the track tomorrow with renewed hope and confidence for my running future. If not, I’ll just need to put in more effort to get it. Despite having been a runner for eight years and having completed five marathons, I feel like a newbie all over again—nervous, insecure and full of self-doubt.

All I can do is move forward the same way I did back in 2010: one step at a time.

Puzzle Pieces

The first time I left my daughter was over Labor Day weekend in 2016, when she was four months old. I didn’t just skip town; I left the country.

One of my closest friends had her bachelorette party in Vancouver, B.C., and I was excited to spend three days celebrating with my girlfriends. Perhaps even more, I was excited to get a few uninterrupted nights of sleep for the first time in what felt like forever.

I was the only mother on the trip, and thus the only one pumping breastmilk in the car as we waited in the interminable line to cross the border into Canada. That kind of set the tone for the trip for me.

For some reason when I think of that trip, I don’t remember so much about the restaurants we visited or the bars we hit. The things that jump out at me are all the places I hid to pump while the other girls played party games and refilled their wine glasses; the careful management of my ice packs and the refrigerator/freezer situation between one hotel room and one Airbnb that were inexplicably located a car ride away from each other; the endless math of figuring out when I’d need to pump next and whether to save the milk or dump it (thanks to my own refilled wine glass).

I also remember the twice-daily FaceTime calls with my husband and Evie, and how my quiet, gentle missing of her suddenly became a gut punch the moment I saw her.

I particularly remember one video call I made to Aaron while pumping. I decided it would be funny to train the camera on my chest when he answered the call, and then I quickly realized my mother-in-law was right there looking over his shoulder. I think I moved the camera quickly enough, but oh man, I sure never did that again!

The other reason I remember that call is because Aaron and Evie were at my in-laws’ house, and Evie was dressed in a new outfit they had given her. Sweet, right? I’m incredibly grateful whenever anyone gives her a gift, but at the time, she suddenly looked like a completely different baby to me. She was wearing an unfamiliar headband, top and pants, and somehow that made her look so much more grown-up. Since I’m her mother and The Organizer of All the Baby Clothes, she had never been dressed in something I hadn’t at least seen ahead of time.

I’m not sure why this affected me so much. It wasn’t about the clothes themselves, but the visual reminder that she was experiencing new things—and thus growing—without me. It was only for a few days, but in the scope of her existence at that point, a few days was not nothing.

I’m pretty sure I confined my tears to wherever I was FaceTiming and didn’t make a big deal about things among the larger group of girls, but I still remember the exact feeling. I felt it again just a few days ago.

The weird thing was that I felt it when I returned home after five days away. It was the longest I had ever been away from Evie, and I worried beforehand that I would break down into FaceTime tears again and again throughout the trip.

Maybe it’s because we’re no longer tethered by postpartum hormones and milk, or because my trip was busy and her little life is busy—with school, with friends, with endless viewings of Monsters, Inc.—but I was happy to see her on FaceTime and then happy to continue about my day. I was so excited to cover her squishy cheeks with kisses when we were reunited at the airport, but I wasn’t counting down the minutes.

It was only when I saw her then that the tears came. She’s always been the most beautiful thing in the world to me, but somehow she looked even more angelic now: blue eyes, smooth skin, hair curling into perfect chaos.

I told her how happy I was to see her. She asked me for Goldfish.

My in-laws (not the ones I almost flashed) picked me up, so I sat in the backseat with Evie on the way home. I studied her and found so many changes more permanent than a new headband. Her hair was definitely longer. She’ll grow out of those shoes any day now. Her previously broken sentences were more complete; someone who remembers how to diagram all the parts would approve. All this in five days. Five days.

That evening, after dinner and before her bedtime, we had a family snuggle on the couch while watching—what else?—Monsters, Inc. Aaron sat on the far right of the sofa; I squished in as close as I could without being on top of him; and Evie’s body molded to my lap, her head resting on my chest. As nice as it was to get away, sleep a little bit more and have a little bit less responsibility, this… this was the very best.

I didn’t realize I was part of a puzzle until I found myself nestled in with the other pieces.

Telling My STORY


Last week I attended a creative conference in Nashville called STORY. I’m lucky to work on a creative team that values travel and experiences, and thus sends members of the team on several “creative inspiration” trips each year. Groups have gone to SXSW in Austin; Art Basel in Miami; conferences in Venice, Berlin, Dublin and more. Nashville was my first opportunity to take one of these creative trips, and I was thrilled!

For one thing, STORY is extremely relevant to my work as a copywriter. The goal of the conference is to reawaken wonder, to unlock creativity and to encourage creatives to take the reins of writing the future of our culture.

For another, Nashville has an excellent food scene. Armed with my corporate credit card, I was ready to experience five days’ worth of the city’s best restaurants. Also, it was warm enough there to completely avoid wearing pants (70 to 100 degrees), which is perfect for fully experiencing the food scene. 😉

In addition to seeking inspiration and motivation for my professional creative work, I hoped to find the same for my personal writing. I have lots of ideas for this blog, but haven’t dedicated the time to realize them. I’m a perfectionist when I write and tend to edit myself as I go along, so a writing stint can easily grind to a halt if I find myself stuck on the perfect way to express a thought.

I also tend to write with the intention of publishing the end result on this blog, so any number of doubts can stop me from actually finishing a post: Is anyone even going to care if I write this? What if people do read it, but it’s too ______ (boring, negative, annoying, etc.)? And so something I began writing as a way to express myself becomes weighed down by my concerns about what others will think of it. I toss my ideas into a bag, add a few boulders of self-doubt, push it overboard and watch it sink into oblivion.

The good news is that I did get some inspiration and strategies for doing fearless creative work. And the even better news is that this blog is entirely mine—I’m not beholden to advertisers or sponsors who are concerned with what I should or shouldn’t say—and it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. That’s hard to remember in this day and age when trolls are everywhere, sharing their unsolicited thoughts on how everyone should live their lives and how they should or shouldn’t share them online, but I’ll try.

The main thing holding me back from writing right now is the fact that I’m not running. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. And I don’t want to be the injured runner who dwells on it and spreads negativity. I don’t want to be ungrateful about the fact that my injuries are not nearly as bad as any number of other people’s injuries.

But still, I can’t deny the way I feel. I know reading about the experiences of an injured runner isn’t nearly as exciting or inspirational as reading about successful training runs and getting faster, but the people who don’t want to read it can skip it. Now more than ever, I need to write.

It’s difficult to sum up everything I learned at STORY—although I’ll have to do just that for a presentation at work—but here are a few nuggets of wisdom that are inspiring me now:

“Don’t be so obsessed with perfecting your craft that you lose your creativity.“ —Brad Montague

"Your worth and value are present right now [as a caterpillar]; don’t wait for a beautiful butterfly transformation.” —CJ Casciotta

“Process > perfection; being real is important and valuable.” —CJ Casciotta

“Don’t talk about it, be about it. There are a lot of talkers and not a lot of doers. Which one are you?” —Kevin Carroll

Follow along in real time @dev.on.running.

Bikini Body Guide: My Review & Results

I first heard about Kayla Itsines and her Bikini Body Guide (BBG) in July 2017. My friend who’d had her second child not long before posted on Facebook that she was starting the workout plan to get back into shape, and I was intrigued.

For the longest time, I felt like I was stuck in my postpartum fitness journey and needed something to get me back into gear—a goal, a plan, a commitment. I read the comments on my friend’s post and saw that several other women had experienced great results with BBG.

But I wasn’t ready to go all in just yet. I did plenty of research first, reading various online reviews and looking at lots of before-and-after photos on Instagram. I longed to have an “after” photo, to look and feel more like my old self again. I was sick of stepping on the scale and seeing that the same extra 10 pounds were still there. I was sick of trying on my pre-baby jeans “just in case” and finding that they weren’t even close to slipping over my thighs, let alone buttoning at the waist. I thought back to the hard things I’ve done in my life, like running five marathons and traveling the world alone for three months, and knew it was time to take on something hard again—and that I could succeed. 

I looked through the details of the 12-week plan and felt pretty intimidated. At the time, I couldn’t do a single pushup, let alone all the variations of pushups that the plan calls for in the later weeks.

But the workouts were only 28 minutes long—four blocks of 7-minute efforts. The idea of completing three workouts a week for 12 weeks sounded like a huge effort, but thinking of it as just one 28-minute workout at a time? That felt doable.

I tried the very first workout one evening and thought I was going to die. I think it was the burpees.

But I had no doubt it was an awesome, effective workout. I was sweaty and breathless during, and sore after. I was finally all in.

We went on vacation at the end of July, and then started the plan for real in August, when Evie was 16 months old. Aaron decided to do it with me, which really helped me stay motivated and committed. There were so many times when I wanted to flake on a workout, but didn’t because he was there, ready to go. And I’m sure I coerced him into completing a few of the workouts that he didn’t really want to do, either. We worked out in our home office/gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, just like the plan prescribes, after Evie went to sleep for the night. I think I only missed three workouts out of 36, due to illness.

That’s not to say I did all the exercises perfectly. Some exercises were too hard for me to do at all (like triceps dips with legs up on a chair), so I modified them as needed (regular triceps dips with feet on the floor). I certainly did a lot of pushups on my knees. Better to do modified exercises than not do them at all! “Perfect” is the enemy of “good"—and "good” will still get you results.

You can easily do BBG at a gym if you belong to one, or at home like we did with some basic equipment.


1. Jump rope: I had to buy one, since I hadn’t jumped rope since my school days, but there are so many for $10 or less! This one has great reviews.

2. Free weights: we have this set, and I set them to 10 pounds each. Any weights, like these, will work.

3. Weight bench: an essential for any home gym! This one is a reasonable price. You could also just use a sturdy regular bench or ottoman (you’ll be both lying down and stepping up on it for different exercises).

4. Step: I have this one. Evie loves jumping off it, so it doubles as toddler amusement.

5. Medicine ball: I borrowed an 8-pound ball from a friend to complete the first round of BBG, then got this 15-pound ball for Christmas. It’s almost a little TOO heavy! 10-12 pounds seems like a happy medium.

The guide also calls for a second weight bench (who has an extra one lying around, really?) and a Bosu ball, but I just made do without those. I used a sturdy chair instead of the second bench, and just did the moves that called for a Bosu ball… without a Bosu ball. 🙂

Of course, you also need the Bikini Body Guide itself. Kayla Itsines offers the eBook version for about $50 USD, which I think is totally worth it—especially when you compare that price to 12 weeks of classes at a gym, or 36 sessions with a personal trainer. (It’s worth noting that rather than 36 different workouts, BBG is made up of 18 workouts repeated twice: the workouts in week one are repeated in week three, weeks two and four are the same, etc.).

Of course, you don’t get the inherent motivation that a class or personal trainer provides—that has to come from you. I suggest recruiting a friend or partner to commit to the plan with you so you can keep each other motivated.

Kayla also has an app called Sweat that offers a short free trial, then charges $19.99 per month for continued use. If you want access to a lot more workouts, instructional videos, etc., this may be the route for you. I haven’t tried it myself, as the original BBG plan is more than adequate for my needs.

Back to that: BBG also calls for two to five days per week of low-intensity steady-state cardio, like walking, but I ran two to three times per week when I completed the plan last year. Since I’m currently unable to run, I’m now walking.

There’s also a separate 12-week eating plan ($50), but I had no interest in it. I’ve learned over the years that sticking fairly close to a Paleo way of eating works for me in terms of shedding extra pounds and feeling my best, so last year I did that Monday through Friday and was more lenient (but didn’t go nuts) on the weekends. I also tracked all my food using the free My Fitness Pal app, as I needed help adjusting my portion sizes and snacking habits since I was no longer pregnant or nursing. Two years of “eating for two,” plus several years of training for marathons, had gotten me in the habit of eating quite a bit more than a person should if they’re trying to lose a few pounds.

Tracking my food was certainly eye-opening and key to jumpstarting my weight loss after being stagnant for so long. I was not super-restrictive with calories, though, and always made sure to eat if I was hungry—even if that meant going over my allotted calories for the day.

After 12 weeks of BBG workouts and watching what I ate, I lost 7.5 pounds, gained visible muscle tone and finally fit into my pre-baby jeans! Most importantly, I felt so much stronger and like I was in control of my body again. When I looked in the mirror, I recognized myself—not as the exact same person as I was before I had Evie, but as a person who went through many changes to bring a new little person into the world, and then worked her way back to fitness.


Finally, I had my “after” photos, and I shared them with the world via Instagram, even though my “after” certainly wasn’t (and will never be) perfect. But I was proud of my progress, and wanted to share it—and maybe inspire others who were thinking about working on their fitness, too. 

A few weeks later, I woke up to a bunch of Instagram notifications and realized Kayla had shared my progress photos on her official account, which had somewhere around 8 million followers at the time. If I was a little nervous to share my photos with a few hundred followers on my account, imagine how I felt when I knew MILLIONS of people would see them! I steeled myself for nasty comments galore. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that almost all of them were positive, and the only one that wasn’t was just kind of neutral (“I don’t see a difference” or something like that—and someone called that person out, ha!). So, yay for a supportive BBG community!

I was so pumped about my results that I wanted to start BBG all over again, as many people do. Some women I follow on Instagram have done BBG back-to-back for YEARS. But as 2018 rolled around, I realized three days of BBG per week just wasn’t compatible with the amount of running I needed to do to train for the Orcas Island 25K and other races I had on my calendar. For a while, I dropped down to two days of BBG (arms and abs only, to save my legs for running), and then just tried to fit it in whenever I could as I ramped up with marathon training.

Now that I’m sidelined from running, I’m five weeks into another round of BBG and feeling good—definitely getting stronger again! I haven’t been as diligent with healthy eating as I should to see major results, but I’m fine with that since I’m still at a happy weight where I fit comfortably into my clothes. Once things start feeling too tight, then I know I need to pay more attention to my eating. I’ve definitely had to adjust the kinds of things I’m eating and my portion sizes now that I’m not marathon training or running at all. I do miss the food freedom I enjoyed when I just automatically burned everything off thanks to my training schedule! I’m looking forward to that again someday. 🙂

Anyway, I hope this has been helpful if you’ve been thinking about trying BBG! I’m not the greatest at sticking to workout programs, but I think this one is really worthwhile and effective if you give it your best shot. 

P.S. I have no affiliation with BBG, but the links to gym equipment are Amazon affiliate links.

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

The Injury Diaries

When I began training for the Jack & Jill Marathon, I was certain there would be one of three outcomes: I would finish but not PR (maybe); I would PR (probably); I would qualify for Boston (hopefully).

I never once considered a fourth outcome—the one that actually happened—that I would never even make it to the start line.

My training was going so well—better than I ever could have hoped. I was hitting my goal paces, feeling great during speed workouts and long runs, and not having any issues with a much more rigorous training schedule and higher mileage than I’d ever attempted before.

That is, until the end of week 14.

I ended week 13 (one of my peak weeks, with 56 miles of running) feeling awesome and looking forward to the lower mileage of week 14 (just 43 miles). I cranked out a handful of easy runs Monday through Wednesday, then nailed my 9 x 800m speed workout on Thursday. Aiming for 3:30 intervals, I ran them all between 3:21 and 3:29. I felt on top of the world.

Then on Saturday, after an easy 6-mile run, I noticed my hips felt a little tight. We had Hallie and her husband Patrick over for drinks that night, and I asked her about stretches to help relieve the tightness (she’s a personal trainer and fitness instructor). My 12-mile long run on Sunday went fine, but I had the same tight feeling after that one. I started stretching, foam rolling and trying to release my piriformis with a hard ball like crazy.

Week 15 was meant to be my final peak week, ending with my third 20-miler on Sunday. I felt a little off as I began each run that week, but then felt fine after I got warmed up. The hip tightness and a strange feeling of weakness in my left glute plagued me every night. I continued stretching and cursed myself for previously not being more diligent about stretching after every run, and for not doing any hip- or glute-strengthening exercises throughout my training.

We drove up to Whistler, B.C. on Wednesday, the 4th of July. It was a 4.5-hour drive. (I later learned that my injury is exacerbated by long periods of sitting). My run on Thursday did NOT go well, but I thought that was because it was meant to be a tempo run and I accidentally did it on a very hilly trail.

Saturday was supposed to be my final 10-mile run at marathon goal pace (8:00 average). I shook off the weird tight/weak feelings in the first few miles and had a great run nearly on pace for the first four miles or so. The path then turned into rolling hills and I started feeling discomfort in my lower back, just above my left glute. At mile 5, I stopped to stretch. By mile 5.4, I was in a LOT of pain and knew I shouldn’t run another step. 

I was five miles away from our condo, so I called Aaron and asked him to come pick me up. It was raining. I waited inside the vestibule of a grocery store and tried stretching some more. When I realized stretching did nothing to help the pain, I started crying. I didn’t want to believe it, but somehow I knew my race was probably over.

I Googled like crazy to try to figure out what my injury was, and anything I found with symptoms similar to mine came with a recommendation to stop running for 4-6 weeks. The marathon was three weeks away. More tears.

We drove home from Whistler that day, and it was the most uncomfortable car ride of my life (other than the car ride to the hospital to give birth, but that was only about 5 minutes long!). This one took 5+ hours, thanks to the looooong line we had to wait in at the border to get back into the U.S. Sitting felt horrible, so I constantly squirmed around trying to find a better position. Putting a small, hard ball under my left glute felt somewhat better, but still not great.

The next few days were quite painful, especially in the mornings. I was super stiff and tight, and even something as simple as getting into the car brought me to the brink of tears. Bending over to pick up Evie was excruciating. Sitting for any longer than 10-15 minutes was uncomfortable, so I ditched my desk at work and took my laptop into the kitchen so I could work standing up at a tall counter. (I did that every day for a month or so until I finally got a standing desk.)

First I went to my chiropractor to see if he could figure out what was wrong with me, but I quickly realized I needed to see a physical therapist. I had my first appointment on July 11, during which the PT diagnosed hypermobility of my left sacroiliac (SI) joint going into anterior rotation, so that when I run and my left leg extends behind me, it forces my pelvis into an anterior rotation beyond the normal limits of the joint.

He recommended no running for 6-8 weeks and weekly physical therapy (along with daily exercises at home) through August, but he also said that since I’d been injured for a short amount of time (one week), there was a chance the issue could resolve in a short amount of time and I’d be able to run soon. Did that mean running a marathon on July 28 was a good idea? I didn’t know for sure, but probably not. I tried to stay positive and keep an open mind. I had come too far in my training to give up just yet.

My glute and lower back felt better every day as I continued my physical therapy. I was wary to even attempt to run until the day I woke up completely pain-free, in fear of ruining the progress I’d made, so I just walked in the evenings or used the elliptical or adaptive motion trainer in my office gym at lunchtime to try to keep up my fitness.

On July 20, my PT had me do a test run on the treadmill, and I ran ¾ of a mile with no pain. I was very hopeful. But then on July 22—the Sunday before the marathon—I attempted a run outside and didn’t even make it two miles before I felt the familiar ache of my SI joint and knew I should stop.

The funny thing was that I stopped my run right at the finish line of the actual marathon course. I looked at the empty trail that would soon be filled with timing mats, spectators and an announcer shouting out the names of finishers and Boston qualifiers. They would all be there—but not for me.

I let go of my dreams for this race knowing that I had given it my all. I gave it my all in training and I gave it my all in attempted recovery. Whether you make it onto the race course or not, that’s all you can do in a marathon. The rest just is what it is.

I’m tearing up as I write this, even though it’s now September and this all happened more than a month ago. I had hoped to be running again by now. I had hoped to be training for a December marathon by now. But it looks like I have to let go of that one, too, and put in more work before I can set another big goal.

My PT cleared me to run a few miles at a time starting in mid-August, and he gave me some cues to correct my running form and hopefully avoid future injuries. But either I’m doing something wrong or it will take time for my body to adjust because I started feeling pain along the inside of both shins that my PT says is posterior tibial tendonitis.

So now my SI joint feels fine, but here’s this new thing holding me back. I’ve added a new exercise to my PT routine to help with it, and tried to run through it a few times, but now I’m just done. I’m taking time off from running, focusing on walking, continuing physical therapy and doing the Bikini Body Guide over again. I’m planning to work with a running coach on my eventual return.

It’s frustrating to still be sidelined, but it doesn’t feel good trying to force my body to do something it apparently doesn’t want to do, either. I’ll stick with what feels good, which—for now—is not running.

I’m fortunate that I’ve been running since 2010 and am only now dealing with injuries, and I’m thankful that they’re not so bad in the grand scheme of things. I believe pain-free running is ahead for me. I just need more time—and more help—to make it happen.

Thanks for following along and for your encouragement. I still like to see other runners out there killing it. It makes me happy, and gives me hope.

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 13: It’s Getting Real Now

Note: Week 13 was June 18-24. I did not run the marathon on July 28 due to an injury suffered in week 15 of training, but I want to post these training recaps I had written for posterity—this is the last one! Next, I’ll share all about my injury and what I’ve been doing to fix it (spoiler alert: lots of physical therapy). In the meantime, you can get up to speed on Instagram @dev.on.running.

Welcome to peak week two of three! The marathon is FIVE. WEEKS. AWAY. Suddenly it seems so soon. Maybe because I’m suddenly in the middle of these high-mileage weeks that I stared at for so long on my plan, and they feel like they’re going by quickly. Before I know it, I’ll be tapering, then toeing the line.

It’s also nearly time to start getting really disciplined with my nutrition. Usually about a month out from a big race, I stop drinking alcohol, cut out most sweets, focus on eating lots of high-quality protein and veggies, etc. I want to feel like I’ve done everything I can to help my body feel and perform its very best on race day. I wish I were disciplined enough to do this throughout the entire training cycle, but… no. I gotta live! So the final month it is. My last hurrah will be the 4th of July, and then it’s all optimal fueling from there.

MONDAY: 5.3-mile easy run at 9:12 average pace.

It was 84 degrees. The sweat was real.

TUESDAY: 10.5-mile easy run at 9:08 average pace.

Another weeknight 10-miler. (The extra half-mile was me running to Hallie’s house before and then back to my house after!) Thank goodness I had Hallie to share the miles and gross bug encounters with. She got a huge bug in her mouth, and I got little gnats smashed up in both of my eyes. The body count is high on the road to the marathon.

WEDNESDAY: BBG arms & abs, plus 4-mile easy run at 9:13 average pace.

I started the evening with a BBG workout so I wouldn’t be able to talk myself out of It after my run, which is what I so often do! I miss the strength I once had from doing BBG three times a week, and it’s so humbling every time I do a workout from week one or two of the program that seemed easy not too long ago; it definitely does not feel easy now!

The Ali on the Run Show featured an interview with BBG creator Kayla Itsines this week, so I listened on my run! It was great to discover that she is super nice and genuine on top of being beautiful, fit and successful. Go have a listen!

THURSDAY: 5.5-mile tempo run at 8:08 average pace.

They can’t all be great runs. This wasn’t a bad run per se, but it wasn’t smooth and effortless like my tempo run two weeks ago. It was… effortful? I ran a 9:12 warmup mile, then 7:52, 7:34, 7:38 and 7:47 with a half-mile cooldown at 9:10 pace. That’s perfectly fine on paper. It just didn’t feel awesome, which left me a little unsettled.


SATURDAY: 10-mile marathon goal pace run at 7:56 average pace.

This run eased any worries I had after that tempo. It wasn’t too long ago that I really had to bust my butt to hang in the low 8s for these goal-pace runs, but now I’m finding I can run high 7s without feeling like I’m pushing too hard. I did this run on a fairly flat trail, so I’m excited to see what I can do on the downhill course come race day.

SUNDAY: 21-mile long run at 8:55 average pace.

Thank goodness Hallie and I ran our second 21-miler together—not just because it went by so much faster with a friend to chat with, but because we crossed paths with a bear! Hallie spotted it on the trail ahead and stopped us immediately; I just saw the tail end of it as it slowly ambled into the brush. We waited about five minutes, hoping it would continue on its way away from the trail, then made a bunch of noise to make it known that we were coming through. We continued on slowly (still yelling), and luckily it seemed to be long gone by the time we passed the spot where we had seen it. Phew! That was my first bear sighting, and hopefully my last for a long time.

In other news, Hallie and I both forgot to bring headlamps, so we used the flashlights on our phones to light our way through the tunnel. We won’t make that mistake on race day! The weather throughout our run was cloudless and warm—very different from the rain showers I ran through last time. I have a feeling the weather on race day will be similar, and full sun/heat brings its own challenges. The race starts at 6:30 a.m., and I’m planning to wear my hydration vest so I’ll always have water available, so I’m hoping potentially high temps won’t have too big an impact on my race.

Total weekly mileage: 56.3

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.