The Countdown is On… What is Everyone Thinking?

“If you want to be an elite marathoner you have to really torture yourself and live in a very remote place and work incredibly hard, put yourself through a lot of pain and then guess what- you get 2 shots a year to have your greatest success. And if you wake up with a bad stomach that morning, tough darts, man.”- Matt Futterman on “the Morning Shakout with Mario Fraioli.

This made me laugh, it’s kind of psychotic really, especially since I feel like 2019 has been a pretty lousy year for me but at the same time I’ve never trained harder in my life. Also: I’ve never been more motivated.

Fortitude2019

5 months until the 2020 Olympic Trials. Break it down though and: I’ll be racing the Chicago Marathon on October 13th.  Factoring in a 2 week break after and considering a 12-16 week training block, that puts me starting seriously training at early November.  I feel like its right around the corner!

I’ve been wondering lately what all the other women are thinking as they build up to this. I was lucky to have run the standard in perhaps one of the earliest races after the qualifying window opened. December 2017 (it seems like ages ago). I remember crossing the finish line and thinking simultaneously: “Nearly 3 years until the Trials, that’s a long time to stay in shape” and “Whew, I’ve got nearly 3 years to get better and really give it my best”. Both thoughts have popped back up over the past 2 years, the first during more negative moments when I’m feeling unsure of myself, and the second when I’m motivated, working hard, and really wanting to perform to the best of my ability on the day.

I’ve heard various things about the sheer number of women competing from: “a rising tide lifts all ships” to “Why so many? Don’t they know there’s zero chance of actually making the Olympics?” I can’t help but wonder how many other women wrestle with that. I feel like I’m the exact demographic of one of the ‘ships’ that has been lifted by others. I’m a mom of two, almost 38, got into running later in life, work a day-job- just like literally almost every other “under the radar” gal who will be toeing the line in Atlanta on Feb 29, 2020. So I figured I wasn’t the only one curious.

So here’s what I’m thinking about these days.

A couple of my favorite race mantras are “Don’t count yourself out” and “It’s not over till it’s over”. This can mean something different for everyone, I’m sure. I know I won’t stop reaching until I feel I’ve tapped into the last drop of potential. Just because I don’t think I’ll be crossing the line in a top 3 spot, doesn’t mean I’m not going to run my own race and gut out my very best effort. For me, that will be closing a chapter (a chapter, not the book!) on a dream that when it started, seemed literally impossible. Along the way, so many other possibilities have opened up, and I’m eternally grateful for them. I know if I give it my best there will be even more.

I’ve learned a lot about enduring the highs and lows. The parallels in life and running have changed me and I’m a better person for it.

 

I’ve been inspired by the dedication I’ve seen in so many athletes but even more so, by the genuine kindness and support everyone gives to each other. The real world is missing out, this is the way life should be lived.

One of the best things that has come with running is being able to show my kiddos the world of athletics. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I don’t care what they do in life, I just want them to do their best and be nice while doing it. Having the opportunity for them to meet such incredible humans and really immerse them in the culture of dedication and love for something has been invaluable. I know a lot of parents who wake up extremely early to train, or try to make sure their training doesn’t “affect” their families. To each their own, but I’ve involved my family pretty heavily for the past couple of years and I think its been a great lesson for my kids to see the work put into following a dream. Again, drawing on the parallels of life and running, I think these lessons being learned will enable them to succeed in whatever they want to do.

FrankShorter
Meeting the legend, Frank Shorter, at Fortitude 10k 2019

“I know what you need and the secret is free, there’s one way to live and that’s furiously. …..so hold your breath, hang on tight, know when to laugh, know when to fight, cause all of life’s big questions are complicated, but the answer is simple: lean forward, paddle hard.” The 14ers

This line from a song my husband wrote has always spoken to me. The deliverance, the tempo, the urgency-  what is the point of life if not to be excited by what you are doing and who you are doing it with? And just like in rafting, when life throws big obstacles at you, the best way to navigate a tough current is by leaning forward and paddling hard. In marathoning the toughest part is always the end. I often play this in my head when trying to summon everything I have to finish what I started and finish it strong. Not every day will be the best day, but its important to me to give it my best effort anyway. So yes, running has been exciting for me. From traveling, races, training, social runs, fundraisers, speaking engagements- I’ve loved it all and I think that’s the most important thing.

I hope I get to hear from other women out there running at the Trials who are just doing their best like me! It can feel a little intimidating to compete against other highly successful pro athletes, but I think the gift has been priceless, and I hope everyone else feels the same.

1/2 Marathon Debut- Reliving the Horsetooth Half with Grant Fischer

Last Sunday was once again a thrill for me as I completed my 5th Horsetooth Half. However, as I thought about a race recap I really wanted to relive it through someone else’s eyes.

I immediately thought of my good friend and runner Grant Fischer who graduated from Colorado State University last May and has been racing competitively with Siemers Dreamers – a Fort Collins based elite running group.

Grant’s list of accomplishments at CSU are long, but to highlight: Grant was a 4x All-American, Mountain West Indoor Conference Champion, and he holds the record for the indoor 5,000m.

Choosing a tough half marathon like this one for a debut was ballsy, but Grant came through with an amazing performance coming up 4th OA. Here is what he had to say about his race experience!

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 12.59.04 PM
Photo Credit: Justin Reed

Why did you choose the Horsetooth Half as your 1/2 marathon debut?
I was planning on debuting in January at the Houston Half Marathon with my training
partners Jerrell Mock and Andrew Epperson, but I ended up getting really physically burned out from not taking a break after my final collegiate outdoor season. I took a few weeks off and began to look around for races in the spring. The Horsetooth Half was in my time frame and it’s a race that tours Fort Collins. It just seemed to align and felt right. I also knew it had prize money, strong competitors, and a fun atmosphere after the race (shout out the 14ers music and New Belgium!)

What was your training like going into the race?
After those few weeks off around Houston, I started training again in the beginning of
February and did base miles for the entire month. I probably averaged around 80 miles over the 10 week build up for this race but was hitting some 90-95 weeks and 18 mile long runs. The workouts I’ve primarily been doing have been strength based such as hills, tempo runs, and fartleks, however in the final few weeks we started to hit some track work and intervals.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?
I try to avoid getting into habits based on superstition but I do always have a strong cup
of coffee around 90 minutes before the start of a race.

Do you think you are stronger on the uphill or the downhill?
I’ve always thought of myself as a better downhill runner. I do hill workouts pretty
regularly though to work on uphill running and surprised myself with the dam climbing. I felt I handled the dams well but by my legs began to fatigue at Bingham hill where the leaders broke away. I’ll try to hit some bigger mileage coming up to prepare for longer races since I seemed to handle it well during the build up.

What were your expectations?
I wanted to contend for the win but my main focus was to enjoy feeling good for the first
race in awhile and to practice being tough in racing again. I didn’t really have any time goals in mind beyond being under 70 minutes and didn’t worry about pace at all throughout the race.

You’ve run this course for training many times- was there anything you
felt like you weren’t prepared for on race day?
Training in Ft. Collins is about as good as it gets. It feels less congested than Boulder
and has the same great weather, along with access to dirt, hills, flat, or whatever terrain you need for that day. I felt well prepared in my training but knew the last miles would be tough. I think the farther distance of the half marathon lends itself to higher mileage and more developed runners, so I’ll try to build up again in the coming weeks to 100 miles if I can still keep my workout quality and feel recovered.

What is your favorite part of the course?
I never thought I’d say this but I’ll never forget climbing the dams. It was unlike any race
I’ve done to climb such a steep grade and the views were amazing. The spectators also make this a unique event. I especially enjoyed the guy playing the violin right before Bingham Hill and the inflatable dinosaur costumes on the course.

How do you feel about your time/place finish?
I am happy with what I put together on race day and glad I broke 70 minutes. It gave me
some extra motivation to keep training hard and reminded me that I love to race and compete. I definitely hope to win this one in the next few years and will be back for a long time.

Is there anything you would have done differently during the race?
I put in some hard surges to catch the leaders right after the final dam downhill which
might have cost me a bit in the final miles.

Is this your new favorite distance?
It’s one of my favorite races and I’ll be trending towards longer stuff in the future. I don’t
think I nailed training or racing the half marathon distance yet which makes it a little more mysterious to me than a 10k or 5k which I’m pretty comfortable with. I can’t say for sure if I have a favorite, I just know anything below the 3k isn’t it.

What is coming up for you and how can people follow along?
Up next is the Bolder Boulder 10k on May 27th with my training partner Andrew
Epperson. We run under my former college coach Art Siemers and our team is based around him and called the Siemers’ Dreamers. You can follow along with our Instagram
@siemers_dreamers or our twitter page @SiemersDreamers.
I also tentatively plan to run the Portland Track Festival 10,000m in June in hopes of
qualifying for the USATF Outdoor National Championships in July. Lastly, I will target a fast half marathon this fall to qualify for the Olympic Trials marathon and join Jerrell (62:15) and Epperson (63:17 / 2:13:11) in Atlanta in February.

Best of luck to you Grant, and all the Dreamers! I’m really excited about the future of Fort Collins running!

 

USATF Colorado Half Marathon Champ- Becky Hendee

On her way to training for the Eugene Marathon, Becky Hendee used the Platte River Half Marathon on April 14th as a tune-up race and earned herself the title of 2019 USATF Colorado Half Marathon Champion. It couldn’t have gone to a more deserving runner! After a year chock-full of injuries, Becky’s comeback inspires me and makes me want to be a better runner myself.

Becky lives in Longmont, CO and trains out of Boulder, CO with Run Boulder AC. She works full-time for Bobo’s Marketing, is newly married, and is just an amazing human. I’ve enjoyed many long training runs with her and love her pure passion. I wanted to hear about her race experience after being sidelined for awhile, what her goals for Eugene are, and how she is feeling going into it. After trading emails back and forth I thought other runners could benefit from her experiences so, (with permission) I thought I would share!

What is your current goal race?

My spring goal race is the Eugene Marathon in just two weeks where I hope to meet the Olympic trials qualifier standard of sub 2:45. Outside of that, I want to focus on having fun, feeling fit, and be grateful to get to the starting line healthy. My last road marathon buildup ended in a pelvic stress fracture, my first long term injury which definitely rocked my boat! After this, I hope to quickly recover and have a fun summer trail season, racing 50k-100 mile distances.

What were your goals and expectations leading up to Platte River?

My goals heading into the Platte River Half was to have one last marathon tune up leading to Eugene Marathon. My goal was to run the race at my adjusted for altitude marathon pace, practice with my bottles, and feel good about it! I chose the Platte River with the help of my coach, Kathy Butler of Run Boulder Athletic Club because it is flatter and faster for Colorado in closer resemblance to the Eugene course. She also is on the USATF board so she was aware of the opportunity. I definitely had FOMO (fear of missing out) on Horsetooth because many of my Shoes and Brews friends were either running or cheering, and the post-race party with The 14ers! However, I had to keep the larger goal in mind, knowing that Horsetooth is more jarring on the body-those hills are no joke!

IMG_7669

I lucked out with the Female win at the Platte River which also just so happened to be Colorado’s USATF Half marathon championship race. This race was not close to my Half marathon personal best, however it may have been overlooked by many racers because it was the same weekend as Horsetooth!

Give me a snapshot in to your marathon buildup!

I have definitely had to find the work/ run/ life balance this year. I work a full-time job, have a wonderful husband, 2 dogs, friends, all while trying to train. I love early mornings and typically train from 6:30-8am before work, and afternoon sessions are 5:30-6:30pm. I average between 70-95 mile weeks

Monday: EZ 60-65 minutes with a few strides within*

Tuesday: Workout day with afternoon double

Wednesday: mid-week long run*

Thursday: EZ hour, afternoon double

Friday: workout day

Saturday: EZ hour*

Sunday: Long run

*Strength alternating between, core, at home exercises, or gym/yoga depending on the day!

This marathon build up has been very successful after having an injury prone 2018 (stress fracture December-March) IT band issues (October- December). I have changed three main things in this buildup which have worked well.

  • I have been more consistent about adding strength exercises into my routine a few times a week. It can be as simple as 3 sets of 10 air squats, sumo squats, lunges, bridges, pushups and core exercises. Activating these muscles and reminding them to function properly has been crucial. (I promise it takes a lot less time than it seems!)
  • I have been fueling a lot more. In previous years, I would correlate my diet with how much I did that day- WRONG. Whether it is a hard training day or an easy recovery day, it doesn’t matter because it is important to fuel yourself ALL days.
  • I have had a few drop mileage weeks to absorb my training. In previous marathon buildups, I would get in the mileage junky mentality and would never let myself have a “drop” week until it was taper time. I now realize that my body needs these weeks to benefit from the hard training weeks.

What is your favorite marathon workout?

One of my favorite workouts this marathon buildup has been 3X15 min at marathon pace during a long run. I tend to enjoy the longer grinds and feel it is a great way to feel confident going into the race. This particular workout is running at marathon pace for 15 minutes at miles 6, 9, and 12 for a total of 20-22 miles.

What is your current pump up song?

“Giant” by Calvin Harris

What is your current mantra/inspiration?

Lately, when times get tough or I don’t want to get out the door, I try to remind myself how thankful I am to be able to be healthy, run and move my body in this way. Also, there are some days where I need to remind myself why I do this instead of, for example, go to the Friday night Happy hour. Now that could be a whole blog post in itself, but back to the question:  My last effort I was chanting something as simple as This is for me, Feel free, and Do what you can do in this moment. I also gain inspiration from reading books such as Let your Mind Run by Deena Kastor, or Kara Goucher’s book Strong, where I try to learn from their mental practices and think powerful and fast thoughts. For example; when a challenge occurs to remember to shed positive light on it like I am going to do this to the best of my ability vs. I can’t. Lastly, I find a lot of inspiration from my friends and training partners like AnnMarie! AnnMarie has taught me to never give up on a workout or race because even if you may not be hitting your splits, it builds mental strength- and that matters!  It is so amazing to see your success and learn from the best when it comes to training and run-life balance. I love you lady!

Awwww thanks! Those last few lines made me blush, but I’m going to leave them there because I feel the same way and I know everyone has people like this in their own lives! We should make it a priority to reach out to them more! 

IMG_7670
Throwback- 2018 Horsetooth Half post lawn party

The Road to Gold Experience: a 2020 Olympic Trials Preview

This past weekend the Atlanta Track Club put on a test run for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. In the technical meeting the vision of their championship race was explained. Each athlete from first seed to last is going to be offered the same support. The ATC believes that in a championship race all aspects- from on-course fueling, lodging, etc. should all be equal for a fair competition.

It was touching to me how much Atlanta wanted to host this race to further the history of the Olympic legacy of their city. As a host for the 1996 games, Atlanta has shown they have a heart for supporting the athlete. They have the infrastructure to host a Trials, and they are excited to put on the best Trials we have ever seen.

The 2020 race course designed for the marathon will have a 6 mile loop that will be run 3 times and an 8 mile loop run once, with the last .2 miles taking runners through the finish line into Centennial Olympic Park.

On Saturday, we got to run the 8 mile section, taking us along Peachtree road, famous in its own right, then we turned back and ran to the Olympic Rings, left up as a tribute to the ‘96 games. We ended back where we started, not the same finish line as 2020, a choice I was actually glad for. That finish line will be something special and I’m happy it was saved. There were tons of turns to practice on- typical of what the marathon course will be in Tokyo. The layout allows for a spectator friendly course. The loops will help with the fueling situation. This race will offer personal water bottles to every runner that requests it. With that, comes major logistical coordination which I won’t even try to get into. All in all, it will be a fun, challenging marathon and I’m so glad I had a chance to preview it.

One thing all stretches of the course had in common: HILLS. Long hills, short hills, steep hills. I knew I had my work cut out for me before I started, but I was still in for a surprise.

For this race, the men went off first, the women a few minutes later, then there was a citizen’s race to cap off the festivities.

IMG_7304

I started the race fairly conservatively and almost immediately got tucked in with a pack of women – the perfect scenario. We cruised along tackling the miles but by 6 in I was losing them on the uphills. On the flats and downhills I fought and yo-yo’d my way back, but the last long hill did me in and I was never able to reel them back in.

I finished 13th in 45:42- and I set a new PR in the 10k on my way to that.

Sidenote 2019 goal: find a flat, fast 10k at sea level so I can squash that time down.

Women’s results:

IMG_7302

IMG_7305

After the 8 mile race I was able to loop back and run the course again. I heard there was quite a bit of snow back home in Colorado so I wanted to finish my long run in Atlanta in shorts and a tank vs. slipping around on the ice once I got back. I’m so glad I did it- not only did I wrap up my last long run before my upcoming marathon, I got to slow down and really enjoy the course. I noticed so many things I hadn’t been able to pay attention to during the race and really appreciate the layout and history of the route we were being taken on. I got to thank volunteers and cheer on runners in the community who were finishing up the race.

I can’t say how much it meant to me to have Atlanta Track Club invest so much time and preparation into their work. No matter what profession someone is in, it is always glaringly apparent just how much they care and where their passion lies. I am a lover of the sport of running and this particular “perfection of the craft” that ATC has displayed leaves me feeling grateful and happy this project is in the right hands.

I’m more excited than ever to put in some hard work for the next year. I have two marathons to practice on before the Olympic Trials so 2019 will not be a down year by any means. Next up is LA Marathon! It’s almost taper time and after this silly extra icy winter I’m ready for it.

IMG_7299

Race Recap- California International Maraton 2018

11/28/2018- Note to myself prior to race:

I will do my best, my very best and no matter what, I won’t be disappointed by the outcome. If I fall short, I will use it as motivation to learn and try again. If I reach my goal, I’ll use it as motivation to do even better next time. The journey has been worth it. The journey has been tough, and fun, and awakening. I am happy knowing I’ve done all the training, never quit a workout, no matter how hard, and stretched out of my comfort zone so many times I’ve created a new one. Thank you running, for choosing me. 

12/2/2018

No one sleeps the night before a big race so NBD that I had a crazy nightmare and no rest. In my nightmare, my mom was staying with me at the hotel and found out I was wearing buns to race in. (They are so comfy, I’ve tried it all, this is just what works for me. Desi Linden once said “26.2 is a long time to run in your underwear” I totally agree. I tried so hard for that very reason to resist them. But they are the best, so I must.) Anyway, my mom was trying to have me wear long tights and the race was about to start and I was missing it all because she had hidden my buns. Nightmares are weird.

After a 3:45am wake-up call I ate breakfast, showered, dressed and was ready to go by 4:30am. At the start line I loved the familiarity of having done this race before and knowing the drill. I haven’t done a lot of races twice because I haven’t been racing that long, but I can understand why people go back to the same ones year after year.

I’ve been feeling really lousy for the past couple of weeks, and the final things my coach/husband said to me was “every race is different, don’t expect it to be easy”. I had been telling myself that as well since last year one of the key standouts of CIM for me was that I rolled for so long without much effort. Read about that HERE. It’s always nice for a reminder though, and it solidified just focusing on what I had ahead of me and not comparing my run to last year.

I had a few goals going into CIM A) sub 2:37 B) PR C)Finish the marathon.

When the gun went off, I fumbled a bit to gain a little elbow room. I had started a tad farther back because I didn’t want to be tempted to go out too fast. Unfortunately it caused me to be a little squashed and I couldn’t see very far in front of me. I was on the white line on the edge of the road and less than a quarter mile in a stepped down hard with the ball of my foot on one of the rumble strips. I should know better, that shouldn’t have happened. Immediately a sharp pain shot through my foot but within a couple of steps was gone.

CIM2018

I tried to make sure I had found a rhythm going that was 5:59 pace. I know running a negative split is popular, but for me, it’s all I can do to just stay steady. I went through the first mile in 5:45 and inwardly scolded myself for going out too fast. It’s literally one of the worst mistakes a runner can make in the marathon so I was super annoyed with myself. I managed to get with it enough to make it through the 5k with a 5:55 average. At this point I was really surprised there weren’t more runners around me. There were men and women passing me or already slowing down, but I didn’t have a group with me. I figured that would change, but over the course of the whole race I was running alone with only a few ladies in my sights for small stretches.

Around mile 6, I saw Ryan for the first time and I felt a wave of happiness at seeing him. He was wearing a Santa hat and was on a rented electric bicycle he had picked up in Downtown Sacramento. He had ridden backwards on the course until he found me and now would start working his way back towards the finish line on side streets and finding spots to stop and cheer.

Mile 7- I started battling some hip tightness. Its too early for that. I haven’t had to deal with this particular issue for over a year. I self-massaged while running, and wondered if I would have to drop out. Usually when my hip starts acting like that, my range of motion suffers until I can’t stride out. I won’t stop running unless something snaps and I literally can’t move, maybe it will work itself out. And luckily by mile 11 it had worked itself out. I was still under goal time, and for the next several miles things went fairly easily. I got to see Ryan on the course again and my friend Jenny and her family just around the half marathon mark. It was so nice to see familiar faces on the course. I was wearing “Kirkpatrick” on my bib but several times I heard “Go AnnMarie!” and got an extra little boost of energy that someone knew me.

HAlfwayCIM
Halfway point- on target and feeling good for a few miles.

I wasn’t working the tangents well, my watch reminded me of that whenever the mile indicator would beep and the mile marker sign was still about 100 yards ahead of me. I tried to do a better job. At mile 19, I realized my watch never gave me any feedback. I looked down- it had died. Yuck! I’m not super dependent on my watch but I knew I was going to start struggling soon and wanted to at least have some sort of an idea of what I was up against. Luckily the course marshal for the 2:37 ‘A’ standard group of runners realized it and started shouting out splits, which I hugely appreciated.

Ryan came riding up “Go AnnMarie!” I yelled back “My watch died!” He said “I just got in a bike wreck, but I’m here and you can do this!” I glanced over. He had blood streaming out of his face. Yikes. I was alarmed, but knew he would never want me to stop. If anything, I just needed to make sure I put everything into doing my best and making the effort of my race make up for any sacrifices. Make it worth it.

AMCIM2018

I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my right foot- exactly where I had landed on the rumble strip. Every step hurt to put my foot down. Rats. At the same time I felt my legs starting to turn into hardened concrete. Too soon, too soon, I still have 5k left!

This was a long struggle. I knew I was slowing down quite a bit, I regretted again having gone out too fast, but I was determined to finish the job. I wasn’t sure how much room for error I had, but I knew I would be pretty close. Don’t give in for even a second. If you do, you’ll never forgive yourself if you miss it. Focus. Speed up. Speed up. Do your best.

I rounded the final corner. I could see the clock 2:37:20. Damn. I had missed it. I kept running as hard as I could, I wasn’t going to do anything less than my best.

Taking a second
It’s okay to take a second and mourn something lost. But then- focus on what has been gained.

Final time 2:37:49. I let myself feel a little sad. I wasn’t going to be mad about it, I wasn’t going to pout, because I had just run a 7+ minute PR. But I did need to take a moment and just mourn a little that I had worked really really hard, cut no corners, and poured myself into training for this race and snagging an A standard- and it didn’t happen. I made my way over to Jenny and fam at the finish line and requested a sweaty hug. Sorry, that probably sucked for everyone but me. Moments later, Ryan was there and we celebrated the success of completing a strong training cycle, staying healthy, fit enough to run a marathon, and end with a huge improvement over last year.

What a weekend- I loved meeting up with the rabbit and nuun crew, and seeing other runners I only get to catch up with at races once or twice a year. (Special shout out to Nick and Mary on your knock-out efforts!) There were some inspiring performances to be celebrated and seeing them firsthand was an incredible experience.

I’m looking forward to a nice rest, refocusing on next year, and setting some new goals. I am so appreciative of all the love and support, it has been overwhelming in the best possible way.

*When the battery in Ryan’s electric bike died, it locked up just as he was cruising over a pile of wet, slippery leaves. The combination of all that caused it to slide and go down. He’s okay and on the mend- mild concussion, and his hand isn’t broken.

R&ACIM2018

 

 

 

Two Gals, Six World Marathon Majors, One Goal

I’m constantly inspired by those around me and rarely do we get to thank those people enough for the impact they play, many times without even knowing it.

Two ladies that have have been a constant source of inspiration, as well as running companions over the past few years, are Lauren Evans and Gelsey Klein. They were both training for different marathons when I met them and are still training for marathons- their goal is to complete the six World Marathon Majors- Boston, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, London, and Berlin. So far they are halfway there with all three of the US World Major Marathons completed.

Lauren is a nurse, wife and mother. We met a few years ago when our babes were still tiny at a mom group workout. My first legit long run of 16 miles (which I felt very overwhelmed by) was done with Lauren and at the time seemed exceedingly far. I admire Lauren’s ability to make time for herself in reaching her goals while juggling life.

Gelsey was a sprinter for the University of Wyoming. She is also a wife and mother of four (she has twins!) and works in the financial aid department for CSU. She currently runs for our local Runners Roost. Gelsey is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to marathoning. She knows all the qualifying times, course layouts, dates, etc. Researching marathon specifics makes me nervous, so if I need to know anything, I just go for a casual run with Gelsey and she will fill me in.

We have chatted about everything during our runs together. This time we sat down, had a glass of wine, and focused on the goal that keeps driving them to train and qualify for races- completing all 6 WMM. (So far, together)

L&GBOSTON

Let’s start at the beginning how did you two meet?

G: A long time ago- it was through a mutual friend at a party in our neighborhood. Lauren was pregnant so it must have been 2013.

When did you start running together?

G: We didn’t start running until awhile later- I knew Lauren as runner but I didn’t really know how much she ran. She was training for a 50k (2016) and that’s when we started training together. We found out we were going to be going to Boston the same year because I had gotten cut from Boston in 2016 so we ended up on the same timeline.

L: I did my last 10 miler with Gelsey (when training for the 50k) and fell in the mud at the start so did the whole run with a muddy booty.

G: Right, she wasn’t frazzled at all, it was funny.

 What made you set the goal to run all the World Majors?

G: I qualified for Boston in 2015 and that was the first time I heard about the World Marathon Majors. It was appealing to me because it was a goal that wasn’t numbers or time driven. At the time running was feeling kind of competitive and this was something I could do that was different and cool without the pressure, it was just fun.

L: I got the dream from Gelsey- we started talking about it on a run and I thought it sounded really cool too.

 

Where does your inspiration to run come from?

L: I don’t really watch professional running but for me its people that I know in the community. Other moms juggling life and work, but still make taking care of themselves a priority. I also like it for my on sanity, It’s my time for my own space to breathe, think things through, and it’s a huge part of my social life.

G: My sister was the one who got me started. I ran through junior high, high school, college and I was a sprinter. After college I took 2 years off and didn’t run at all. It was strange because it was such a huge part of my identity. Then my sister told me she was going to do a half marathon and convinced me to do a 10k which seemed super long at the time. So she got me on the distance train. But really, there is inspiration all over from people in the running community.

What is your average normal weekly mileage?

G: During marathon training its 40-50 with about a max of 60. During the off season I like to stay around 20 miles/week

L: I rotate as well. Around Oct./Nov. I take a whole month off, then start back up in Dec with about 25 miles and ramp up in January to start training for a spring marathon. During peak week in a marathon segment I’ll hit about 50miles. (laughs) I’m the laziest marathon runner, I don’t run more than I have to.

L&GChicago

Do you have any mantras?

L: I had a rough time at Boston- it was really hot, my music stopped working, and before 10 miles I wasn’t even sure I was going to finish it. My friend Liz had sent me a text “head up, wings out” (Oiselle’s tagline). I started repeating that halfway through and it carried me. Around mile 21, I started thinking “how much can I slow down and still meet my time goal?” The competitive part of me snapped me out of my misery and I kept repeating “Goals are for crushing, not giving up” As in, I wasn’t here to just cruise it in without trying my hardest. I couldn’t use my goal time as an excuse to slow down.

G: I run marathons for fun mostly, because I want to be out there having a good time. However, when I have a time goal I tell myself towards the last few miles of the race “You can work hard for the next 20-ish minutes or you can work hard for another 4 months and redo this.”

L: Oh- one of my favorites is: I can, I will, watch me.

G: I know a Lauren mantra- “Don’t wish for it, work for it.”

 What is the hardest part of marathon training for you?

G: The tempo- I just dread it. The stamina work stresses me out

L: Which is funny because she always kills it.

(I can vouch for that, I’ve run a tempo with Gelsey and yes, she was way under her goal times she wanted to hit.)

L: I get really tired the last month and running isn’t so much fun anymore. I do enjoy the long run, its just the weekly life that makes running difficult. It’s the stress of getting them in. And at that point the runs are so long its hard to fit them in.

G: I say I don’t like the tempo- but it’s the one that in the end gives me the most confidence on race day.

Which marathon is next?

G: We both have our name in for Berlin so we find out between Nov. 30-Dec 2.

L: For me, I’ll try to get into London in 2019 and if I don’t get in, I’ll do it as a charity run next year. Next I’d like to do Tokyo but I’d really like to finish with Berlin. I have German ancestry and my whole family would come and celebrate. Then we could finish, hop on a train to Munich and its Octoberfest. Really though, its hard to get into any of them, we will take them as they come.

After you have completed all 6 Majors, will you keep running marathons?

L: Yes, I would like to run a marathon on each continent.

Would you count the continents you’ve already done Majors on?

L: Yes, you bet. (laughs) I’m seriously the world’s laziest marathoner so you bet I’m going to count them towards it.

G: For me, it depends on when I get into London or Tokyo. It might take 6 or 7 years to get in to. I like marathoning, but it is very time consuming. If I were to finish all 6 in 2019 I’m not sure I would be done, but I could see in 6 or 7 years calling it good if it takes that long to get in.

 Which marathon was your favorite?

G: I think we both have the same favorite.

L: Yes, New York.

G: Boston was really neat and it was my first, but it was a really hot day. I remember hating the last 10 miles and I thought I had trained really well for it but I was just suffering. I want to go back because I want to change that memory. I put pressure on myself to get a certain time because the year before I had been cut so I wanted to prove I deserved to be there.

L: New York was just nice, the weather was perfect, there wasn’t pressure to run a certain time, it was just all supposed to be fun. I literally ran 26.2 miles giving high fives. The crowds were amazing and it was a party.

G: If I could do one marathon every year it would be New York. There were a lot of bands and distinct differences in all the burrows which made the course fun.

L: Boston was fun for me though, I kissed a girl for the first time at the famous Girls of Wellesley corner (unlike Katy Perry, she did not like it). It was hot, but I just decided at mile 13, it was going to be about being out there and taking it all in.

This is a broad question, but for a first-time marathoner give your best beginner tip- What is step one for someone who wants to start running?

L: Get a good pair of shoes and go for a run to figure out what running feels like for your body. Everyone feels miserable when they first start, run until you get past that point.

G: When I first started I used a training plan, it was a Hal Higdon beginner plan. It’s important to have a plan, which there are a ton of. Anyone can do it, but it’s the steps it takes to get there. I think most people hate running because they never get past the warm-up where they feel awful.

L: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean- get past the warm-up. Get to that point, find where that point is in your body and then give it a chance. And I agree about a plan, I’ve always had a coach, he’s a local runner, Walter Hickman, and it helps me so much to not have to think about what do to if I’m sick, what adjustments to make if something comes up, injured, he just tells me and I trust him so much. Every time I’ve set a goal with him, I’ve reached it.

Thank you Lauren and Gelsey for all of your insight and inspiration, miles and smiles!

This seems like a positive note to end on. I really could go on and on because we love talking running and there are so many stories to tell. Thank you for sharing my inspirations with me. I hope the main take- away from this is that anyone can make time for something (anything, it doesn’t have to be running) they love. We should all get the chance in life to feel, as often as possible, the joy of accomplishing something we previously deemed “impossible”.

 

Cal Int. Marathon- One Month Countdown

Superstition maybe- but last year I did a one month countdown/update on my training before CIM and since that turned out the way I wanted I’m going to follow suit again.

I’m feeling pretty positive about this training block- I remember last year being disappointed that I hadn’t hit a 100 mile week and this time around I did it! It was in combination with one of my hardest workouts to date; so even though I capped that week off with a dirty house, bedtimes by 8:00pm, and piles and piles of french toast, I finally ran 100+ miles in a 7 day stretch. I was very grateful to have Coach Ryan home for that week to help me pick up the slack and even bike with me for a couple of my tougher workouts.

Here is a snapshot of October runs:

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 10.22.41 AM

I’d love to be a mileage hog- I think it suits me, but once again, there just isn’t enough time in the day. I’m grateful for what I’ve been able to do!

Strength Training: I’ve been trying to squeeze potential out of myself in every area possible. I’ve always resisted strength training and find it incredibly boring, but have been doing small group workouts at Lifted, a gym near my house. It keeps me on track to get some kind of strengthening challenge in at least once a week and then anything I do on my own is an added bonus. WAY more fun with friends!

Lifted

Favorite workout: Remember Yasso 800’s? It’s a marathon time indicator workout and not completely accurate but I’m going to pretend it is. 🙂 Read about it HERE
There are tons of factors at play when it comes time to run the actual marathon but since this workout turned out the way I wanted, I’m going to use it as a confidence builder! Last year doing this workout I ran 2:44’s for 10 800’s and felt gassed at the end. My marathon time goal last year was 2:44 which is what I hit. I did this same workout a couple of weeks ago and averaged 2:35’s and felt tired, but strong at the end. So goals!

Goals: I crossed the finish line last year with so many happy emotions to have qualified for the Olympic Trials with a ‘B’ standard, but also a thrilling sense of challenge that now I wanted the ‘A’ standard. I’ve been training hard all year for that sub 2:37.

Coming up: I have a pretty grueling weekend- my Sunday long run will be a 1 hour 37 min run followed by 1 hour at race pace. I’m not nearly as nervous for it this time around.

Thank you for being a part of my journey!

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 11.18.48 PM
California International Marathon, U.S. Marathon Championships 2017