It Wasn’t Pretty – My BQ

As I sit here trying to decide the best way to start this blog about my “Boston qualifying marathon”, I can’t help but come clean from the beginning. The truth is, I fell apart. I completely broke down and nearly gave up. And when the race was over, I cried, not because I came in under 3:40, but because I was so mad at myself for almost quitting. 

Now I’ll go back to the beginning…

Honestly, I don’t know where the beginning is. Just a couple of years ago, I still viewed my BQ (Boston Qualifying time) as unattainable. My fastest marathon was a 4:21, which is a 10 minute pace. My BQ needed to be under 3:40, which is an 8:21 pace. That wasn’t comfortable for me for a 5 mile run, let alone a 26.2 mile run. I tucked it away as something I would always dream about, but never accomplish. 

Then, last year (2014) I decided I wanted to try and break 4 hours in the marathon. I didn’t follow a plan that included speed work, and really had no idea if I’d be able to do it. Luckily, the Lansing Marathon had pace groups, and my pacers led me to a 3:58 finish. That’s a 9:05 pace. I was elated, and honestly surprised that I did it. And it wasn’t even that mentally challenging. 

Apparently that huge accomplishment boosted my confidence enough to think that maybe there was a chance I could qualify for the Boston Marathon. So, in January of 2015 I charted out and began a training plan that included speed work, more mileage than I usually ran, and two strength/circuit workouts a week. I stuck to that plan like glue.

The night before the race, I organized my mile dedications and wrote them out on my arm. Each mile would be run for someone else. 

The morning of the race I woke up without an alarm before 4:00 AM. I was excited and ready to get rollin’! For the most part, I felt confident about my goal, but there were still a few thoughts of self doubt creeping through. 

Mainly I was scared because there weren’t pace groups for the race. I ran A LOT of my miles on the treadmill, and I wasn’t confident that I knew how to maintain the pace I needed outside without having someone to follow, or run with, that I knew was running the right pace. 

I had a plan to run with Pella, a friend from my triathlon club, for as long as we could stick together. But, she had just run the Boston Marathon and wasn’t sure how well her body was going to hold up. We met before the race and talked about our game plan to thank all of the volunteers, cheer on the other runners, and basically just have fun and be positive the entire race. 

(Me, Eric – who ran his 1st marathon!, and Pella)

Throughout the first 15-16 miles of the race, our plan worked great. We had a blast and maintained goal pace (which was actually an 8:12…finishing in 3:35). But then, Pella fell back and wished me luck to finish strong. 

I was on my own. I tried to find other people to run with, but chatting wasn’t coming easily anymore, and I couldn’t find anyone who had the same end goal as me. Beginning at mile 19, I started to struggle. Thoughts of doubt were more frequent than thoughts of success. I just didn’t know if I could keep it going. 

From mile 20-24 I fell apart. More than once I walked, putting my hands over my face, holding back tears. I thought about all the people I was running for. I thought about all of the people who believed in me, and how I was going to let all of them down. Those thoughts would give me enough of a boost to keep going for a while. Then, the wind would pick back up, the pain in my shin would grow more intense, the need to make a porta potty stop would seem like a life or death situation, and I’d fall apart again. 

At one point I practically begged a volunteer at an aid station to run with me. I think she was about 17 years old. She was wearing tennis shoes and I just knew she could keep me going. I asked her three times, and she just laughed, not thinking I was serious. I was desperate. 

Somewhere in that stretch, my Garmin lost its signal. This didn’t help my situation, as I didn’t know my exact mileage or pace anymore. There were times when I thought all hope to finish under 3:40 was gone. 

Then, I hit the 24 mile marker. I checked my elapsed time on my Garmin and realized that I could still qualify for Boston. At that point I gave it my all. I pushed with all I had for those last 2.2 miles. When I crossed the finish line, I was kind of in a daze. I had heard people I knew cheering for me in the last half mile, and I could tell from their intensity that it was going to be close. 

When I saw that my official time was under 3:40, but only by a minute, I completely fell apart. I realized that my meltdown from mile 20-24 was completely mental. My legs would’ve done the work to get me a 3:35 finish, but my mind wouldn’t do it. I’m tearing up again right now thinking about it. Why was I weak? What happened? It makes me completely disappointed in myself. It’s the first time in YEARS that I couldn’t control the thoughts in my mind. 

When my husband finally got to me after the race, he knew why I was upset. In reality, my 3:38:59 finish is probably not going to earn me a spot in Boston. Just finishing under your qualifying time isn’t quite good enough. The faster you are, the better your chances are of getting in. So, there’s a good chance it will fill up before I get in. And I won’t find that out until September. 

So now, I’m left with the choice of waiting it out, or training all summer to try and earn a faster finishing time and better my chances of getting into Boston. The truth? I really don’t want to run another marathon that fast. It was awful. It wasn’t fun (well, after mile 20 anyway…), and I didn’t like it. But, I know I could do it. 

Even though I did something that I really thought I could never do, I’m still left with a desire to do a little better. And I guess that’s a good thing. 

“God gives us dreams a size too big so that we can grow into them.” – Unkown

I plan to keep on growing.

Sparkle.Pounce.Grow into your Dreams.


I’m Scared

Last week I traveled for work for the first time ever. That meant a lot of “firsts” for me, and took me way outside of my comfort zone. It was my first time driving myself to the airport and flying solo. And my first time renting a car and driving by myself in a completely unfamiliar place. Everything went smoothly (except for the part when I couldn’t figure out how to start the “keyless car”). However, turns out that, even at the age of 34, I’m a bit of a wuss about doing new things on my own…I was SCARED. But, I was determined to not let my fear hold me back. 

Before my trip, I did everything I could think of to prepare for success. I packed my most “confident” outfit…

And found a State Park just 45 minutes from my hotel, so that I could have a mini-adventure on my one evening with no work commitments. 

Once I arrived at the school where I would spend my day, my nerves settled and I felt more at home among teachers and children. I was able to meet new people and relax a bit…until lunch. Because I didn’t pack any food, I had to venture out on my own. I really, really, really wish I didn’t mind eating in restaurants by myself. But, I don’t like it. At. All. Am I the only one who feels this way?! Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me… 

One of the teachers told me I should try out the “taco” place next door. I was game. Tacos sounded great, and not having to drive the keyless car anywhere also sounded pretty great. So, I walked next door to find a taco place that did not have a single “normal” taco. It was crazy. Every taco on their menu had at least one ingredient that I couldn’t read, and I’m nearly positive there weren’t any “Mexican flavored” options. I was clueless, and once again felt out of place and uncomfortable. That seemed to be the theme of my trip… 

Instead of risking a bad choice, I asked the attendant what the two most popular tacos were, and then opted to go with those. I wish I could tell you what they were called, but I couldn’t pronounce them then, and I can’t remember them now! I can tell you this though, they were ah-mazing.

I’m not normally one to take pictures of my food, but they were just that good. And the adorable view was worth a pic as well. It was definitely the best solo restaurant experience I’ve had to date. 

Once I finished up my work day, I changed into my running gear (minus socks because I forgot them in the hotel…UGH!), and input the address of Raven Rock State Park into my GPS. Not being used to travel, I was exhausted and almost changed my mind about the adventure numerous times, thinking that I could just go relax at the hotel instead. But, luckily, I remembered my prior determination to make the most out of my trip, and drove the 45 minutes to the park.

I knew there was a 5 mile trail with basically no chances to get lost (according to the map…), and chose that as my route. At first, I was giddy. Out there on the trails, I finally felt like myself for the first time on that trip. It felt like home. 

I even felt comfortable enough to set my phone up for some selfies.

I was loving life.

But then, as the time ticked on, and the trails proved to be more and more challenging, and I didn’t see a single soul, I started to panic.

What was I thinking going to a trail that I knew nothing about in a place that I knew nothing about?

What if something happened to me out here? No one even knows where I am.

Why didn’t I stop and buy pepper spray? This was not a good idea…

I tried to push the thoughts out of my mind, but they kept creeping back in. Suddenly every frantic squirrel scurrying in the woods set my blood pressure sky high. I was scared. Really scared.

I said a few prayers and was determined to not let the fear steal this opportunity from me. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and I was going to enjoy it…dang it!

I finished off the 5.5 mile sockless run with a sense of accomplishment (and a hashtag that read #bettertobebravethanboring). Should I have been out there alone? I really don’t know. But, I do know that if given the chance, I will do it again! Next time, with pepper spray.

When it comes down to it, I think I was scared for about 75% of that trip. Silly? Probably. But it helps me to remember that even in fear, we can accomplish some pretty great things. 

And that’s what I’m holding on to as I get ready to run my marathon on Saturday. Because, truth is, I’m scared. Terrified actually. But I know that I have done my work to prepare, and I’m not going to let fear keep me from going out there and giving it my all. 

Sparkle.Pounce.Breathe in Courage.Exhale Fear.


The Things That Matter

Last weekend was jam packed for me. Saturday morning began with soccer and baseball, followed by a trip out of town to help my parents with some spring cleaning, and leaving me getting home around 10:40 pm Saturday night. Sunday morning my alarm was set for 6:00 am to get up and fit in my 20 mile run so that it didn’t consume my whole day. And, even though it was a beautiful morning, I opted to stick to the treadmill so that my pace would be consistent and there was a bathroom close by because I’ve been having some GI issues….eeeeeek!

So, for the last 5 miles of my 20 MILE TREADMILL RUN, I was interrupted approximately every 7 minutes by one of my boys wondering when I’d be done because everyone was ready to go fishing, and they were just waiting for me. Rush, rush, rush! 

Off the treadmill, into the kitchen to drink my recovery shake, and then upstairs for a quick shower before heading to Lake St. Clair for a day on the water. 

It was a perfect day of fishing and lounging on the boat, leaving us getting home around 6:00 pm, just in time to eat dinner and help Liam with his book project before heading to bed.


I woke up Monday morning feeling completely exhausted and not quite ready for the week ahead. But, there was no time to not be ready. It was time to go. Go. Go.  After work, Liam had a baseball game that left us getting home at 9:00 pm.

When I woke up Tuesday morning I was absolutely in a frenzy. All of the thoughts of the things I didn’t accomplish over the weekend were rushing through my head like a waterfall of distress. We needed groceries, I didn’t do the laundry, the house was a mess, I had no plans for dinner, when in the world was I going to get all of that done?!?!

So, when I got home with the boys after work (and making a quick stop at the grocery store to grab something to make for dinner), I was on a mission. I made dinner and then started going at it. Folding, sorting, washing laundry. Cleaning the kitchen and chopping veggies. Packing lunches. Sweeping and vacuuming. During all of this, we managed to eat dinner as a family, and then Will took the boys outside so I could keep checking things off of my “to-do” list in the house.

I was finally starting to feel comfortable with how much I was accomplishing, when Finn came inside and said, “Dad wants to know if you want to go on a family walk.”


Me: Ummm…right now?
Finn: Yes
Me: I don’t know. I’m cleaning the house.
Finn: I’m telling him you said yes.
Me: I didn’t say yes. I said I don’t know.
Finn (as he’s running back out the door): I’m telling him you said yes!


What I really wanted to do was finish getting everything done in the house! But, I put on some tennis shoes and walked outside to see what was going on.

Of course, once I was out there, there was no turning back. We were off on a family walk (well, the boys rode their bikes and Will and I walked) on the dirt roads by our house. We were gone for an hour, and it was absolutely perfect. Conversation just seems to flow easier when you’re walking, and it gave Will and I a chance to slow down and catch up on some things that had gone undiscussed over the busyness of our weekend. And the boys enjoyed racing down the road and circling back to check in with us often.

That night during prayers, Liam thanked God for letting us go on a family walk and spending time together. It made me tear up a little to think that in my worries about completely unimportant things, I had almost missed out on that opportunity to enjoy my family. 

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that put everything back into perspective. If you’ve never watched this video about the jar that seems to be too full to hold anything else, you should check it out. It’s a great reminder of how important it is to always put the things that matter first in your life. 

Sparkle.Pounce.Remember What Matters.