lessons learned from 26 marathons: pt. 1 (2007-2009)

Because marathons are immense distances to cover, training for them and subsequently racing them gives us all many “learning opportunities,” if we dare to listen. The past week has been a whirlwind of awesome marathon activity for many of my friends – we’re talking solid PRs, some great BQs, and of course, the mother of them all, the Boston Marathon – and all the aforementioned, along with the minor detail that I’m running a marathon in a week’s time, got me thinking that I should stroll down memory lane for a minute and see what stands out to me as “lessons learned” from the 26 marathons I’ve run. This will amount to a dissertation, so I’ll break it up over a few posts to save your eyesight (and to give me some more time to dig up some artifacts).

we're goin old school for these races. I have about five years' worth of running logs that look more or less like this. (and naturally, the page I find to photograph details a run wherein I got the runs. naturally).
we’re goin old school for these races. I have about five years’ worth of running logs that look more or less like this. (and naturally, the page I find to photograph details a run wherein I got the runs. naturally).

In chronological order:

2007 – 2 marathons

LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon: there’s no time like your first. ’07 was “the hot year,” which made finishing my first attempt at the distance even better more memorable. Going into my first marathon, I felt prepared and ready, thanks to some solid training and coaching all year long from Team in Training, but the marathon is a beast and demands respect, the type that you can only really give it after experiencing it (if that makes any sense). A few things (among many) that I remember about this race include accidentally clipping a girl’s heels on Broadway, after the northern-most turn-around; wondering if it was normal to hear so many ambulance sirens on the west side (I’m thinking it was along Wentworth); and swearing that from then on, in every marathon/any distance run that I’d run, I would always wear sunglasses. My takeaways: there’s no time like your first, so just enjoy it as much as you can; sunglasses FTW; be extremely mindful of runners who are only a stride or two ahead of you; and no, even on the west side of Chicago on a sunny October day, hearing a ton of ambulance sirens during a marathon is not normal. 4:24:41

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I’ve talked a lot on the blog about how/why I started with TNT. I also convinced Traci, a college gal pal, that running a marathon was a good life choice. 🙂 We did it as an effort to honor our moms (hers, above; mine was in Ohio) and all the shit they had endured bc of their respective cancers/strokes. [this pic is actually from Chicago ’08. details…]
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so.hot.outside. at my first go of this marathon thing. pretty impressive angry face, eh?

 

Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon (NC): I registered for my second marathon before finishing my first, in part because my Team in Training coach from Chicago was on a 50-state quest and was going to knock NC off his list, and I wanted to tag along for what would surely be a fun weekend with a bunch of TNT runners and coaches. Between Chicago and NC (in December), I maintained fitness, got married in Mexico (and ran about 16 miles on a treadmill, kill me now), and come race day, ran a substantially better race and one that I think was more indicative of my ability at the time than Chicago was. The only things I really remember about this course include running through some subdivisions still being built; a motorist being pissed as fuck at the police, who were blocking traffic lanes to protect the runners; and having a perfect chocolate ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles after the race. Takeaway: weather on marathon morning 1000% matters; it can make or break your run. Thank cops and volunteers relentlessly during your race because they’re keeping your ass safe, hydrated, nourished (and so on). Don’t think that you’re too serious a runner that you can’t enjoy treats. 3:52:37

2008 – 6 marathons (dear lord)

AT&T Austin (TX) Marathon: This was another quick turn-around (from December to February), and I recall visiting my family in Ohio in the winter and going to my high school track to run repeats of some sort through probably six-eight inches of unplowed snow. At the time, I wondered if what I was doing was excessive or dumb, but I was so beholden to my training schedule – probably some incarnation of what I had used from TNT for Chicago (and consequently, Charlotte) – that I felt it totally necessary. I wanted to do well in Austin, so come hell or high water, I was out there training in the grips of winter (and rarely on a treadmill. It’s not a pride thing; it’s a “I-don’t-like-the-way-they-make-my-body-feel” thing). The trip was a lot of fun because my parents also flew down to meet me and to stay with my brother and his gf at the time in Austin. I recall the race being hilly, compared to what I was used to from living in the north shore; the neat fireworks that started the race; and finishing the race completely exhilarated that I had somehow just notched my first BQ (a 3:37, back when the standard was 3:40) when I wasn’t going for it. I had read about Boston and its qualification standards (when I had read virtually every book about running from the Lake Forest library), and I quickly relegated myself to being able to qualify when I was in my 50s+. Doing so at my third marathon (my second in favorable running weather) was a huge – fucking enormous – surprise to me. After the race, my fam and I had some type of steak dinner, and it was that night – Valentine’s Day ish– that I decided to go vegetarian once and for all. I had been reading a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh at the time, and I think all his ruminations, combined with the surely torrential flood of endocannibinoids that were coursing through my body post-PR and BQ, just sealed the deal for me. Takeaway: don’t ever sell yourself short when it comes to your goals. That sounds like a shitty fitspo thing you’d find on Pinterest, but seriously. None of us know what we’re capable of, where our ceiling is, so it doesn’t make sense to limit ourselves. (Easier said than done, I acknowledge). Also, sometimes you might make choices post-runs that you find questionable later in life, but at the same time, you might not. Thusly, don’t eat meat. 🙂 3:37:52, PR (which would stand until 2012)

#longlivethenewspaper (avid reader here). Very cool to see my name in Austin's paper after a big PR/BQ! I still have it.
#longlivethenewspaper (avid reader here). Very cool to see my name in Austin’s paper after a big PR/BQ! I still have it.

 

Nashville’s Country Music Marathon: I was back with TNT and helping out as a fundraising mentor for Nashville, still living in the north shore at the time, and every weekend, our group would go out to Busse Woods or Waterfall Glen (in the dead of winter…) and usually end up running laps around office park buildings (the 3com building, if you’re playing along at home) or on the main driveway at WFG near Argonne. If you live in Chicago and want to mentally callous yourself all winter, go run laps around an office park or up and down the driveway at WFG for 12, 16, or 20 milers. Our participants rarely came out for our group runs– only the staff and we volunteers, all of whom were obligated to be there – but we continued to put in the effort and mileage week in and week out. Race day in Nashville met us with an unmatched thunder- and lightning storm, which might have even delayed the start, if I recall correctly. I don’t remember a ton about the course, save that they served Accelerade, which was akin to drinking sawdust (I imagine) and that there was a group of nuns serving “holy water” at an unofficial aid station. I ran nearly all of the race with TNT mentor buddy Mike, and though I had just come off a BQ and PR two months prior, for some reason I wanted to go for it again. Both of us blew up around mile 23, and much to our surprise, the 3:40 pacer who went out like hell early on finished juuuust before us, in a dead sprint to the finish. It was shortly before (or maybe after?) this race that I bought my blog domain … and proceeded to do nothing with it for a year-plus. Takeaway: consistency in training matters. Show up, even when you don’t want to. On race day, run your own race. Pacers are human and therefore can (and probably will) make a mistake or two. Even when you wonder why the hell you’re doing this mid-training, when it feels like you’re spinning your wheels (or literally running around an office building, wanting to gouge your eyes out and/or cut off your legs), keep the thing, the thing, and just do the thing. Make sure you know prior to race day what you’ll be drinking on course, and try it out ahead of time, if you can. If you’re a runner; blog. It lends itself nicely to it. 3:44:57

Madison (Wisco) Marathon: Another tight turn-around (from April to May) and again, for some reason I was set on trying to BQ again; maybe I was trying to BQ-streak or something. In retrospect, I can’t recall why I wanted to do this or thought it was a good idea. Fortunately, the weather was agreeable, and I remember seeing wild turkeys on the course, which just made my day for some reason. This was a quick weekend trip with C and my inlaws, and we had a blast pre- and post-race because Madison is just such a weird-ass city, kinda like Austin. I had GI distress for basically the entire run, though – if memory serves, I think I had to shit from the halfway point onward but didn’t want to blow my BQ attempt – so as soon as I finished – literally seconds after crossing over the finishing line – I beelined it to a porta-potty. I was extremely lucky. Throughout the race, my half-consumed gu managed to go upside down on my butt pocket, so another participant warned me that it looked like I had shit myself. In retrospect, at least I’d have a “cover” in the event that my GI system blew up before I made it to safety. Takeaway: GI distress sucks. If you’re going to go halfsies on your gels mid-race, bag ’em up to save yourself some potential embarrassment and sticky everything. 3:39:21

running away from C and my in-laws in Madison
running away from C and my in-laws in Madison

 

Akron (Ohio) RoadRunner Marathon: The fall of ’08 was an experiment in multiple marathoning in a really short timeframe. Ed, my TNT coach from ’07 who was on his 50 state quest, would soon be finishing things up in Denver in October, and I wanted to run that with him but also still do Akron and Chicago. Akron is where my family is, so I looked forward to running on my “home turf” and to seeing my family on the sidelines. Since it was just a few weeks before Chicago, and not much longer before Denver, I took things easy and enjoyed myself. At the time, Akron was a steal of a race, too: entrants got the usual medal, food, etc. but also a Brooks running jacket (the Podium jacket, I think, with something like a $70 MSRP) and a pair of Brooks shoes. Takeaway: it’s possible to run a marathon “just for fun.” Also, sometimes smaller-town races are total gems. Seeing family mid-race is always an excellent pick-me-up. 3:55:31

I think everyone should run Akron at least once.
I think everyone should run Akron at least once. The finish line is at Canal Park stadium (I don’t know if it’s still called that, but it’s where Akron’s minor league baseball team plays), and it’s just a lot of fun.

 

Chicago: Since my inaugural race was at Chicago with TNT, I returned to it again in ’08, again as a fundraising TNT participant, and vowed for redemption. Fail, fail, fail. Another obscenely warm day meant another 4-hour-plus race, but when you run races as a fundraiser/charity runner, I think you kinda go into things with an entirely different perspective. Sure, the race matters, but really… it kinda doesn’t. While I was happy to run with TNT again at Chicago, I was beginning to think that there was some wicked voodoo thing going on that all but assured that if I ran Chicago, it’d be a toasty-ass day. I was frustrated to still not break 4 on my home course, the one that’s so well-known for PR performances, but c’est la vie. Chicago’s marathon wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so in time, I got over my resentment for randomly warm Sundays in October. It was very cool to do Chicago again with Traci (pictured in the ’07 Chicago blurb), have a bunch of her family members come down and run or spectate, and we even got our friend Stephanie to run, too! Lots of fun, weather be damned. Takeaway: October in Chicago is unpredictable. Respect the weather on race day (still). Run a race as a charity runner, and I can guarantee you that you’ll care about things differently. 4:09:07

running alongside Mike in Lincoln Park, proudly still rockin' the purple
running alongside Mike in Lincoln Park, proudly still rockin’ the purple

 

Denver: My third marathon in four weeks, and at altitude (I think?), and while I was in the throes of working full-time and being in grad school full-time, I all but guaranteed myself a tired-ass run and race. I started Denver optimistically (ha) and by 13, was flat-out strolling. Ed, there with a cadre of other runners and me, all there to celebrate his 50th state completion, eventually caught up to me, and we walked-ran the rest of the way in together, finishing side-by-side. Denver is my marathon PW, but I look at it with fond memories because the entire trip was about Ed finally finishing his 50-state quest. It was such a special memory and so very cool to be there and to be literally step-in-step with him as he realized such a huge-ass goal that had taken years to fulfill. So many other IL-based runners had come out to celebrate and/or run with him, and I was both honored and elated to be able to be there, too. Takeaway: marathons can be celebratory activities. The time on the clock matters as much as you want it to matter; this will be a recurring theme. Multiple marathoning in very short timeframes is doable, but you’ve got to have realistic expectations about how things will pan out. 4:48:34, a very memorable and special PW

steps away from finishing Ed's 50th state
steps away from finishing Ed’s 50th state

 

the 50-state finisher! actually, all but two people in this pic are 50-state finishers.
the 50-state finisher! actually, all but two people in this pic are 50-state finishers.

 

2009 – 4 marathons

Boston: Oh my. First Boston. I met some wonderful people with whom I am still friends today during my first Boston training (and through what was a pretty shitty Chicago winter, if memory serves). Come race weekend, I was 100% all nerves, making me a real joy to be around in what was supposed to be a race-vacation (sorry, C). I was so focused on running a good Boston that I didn’t want to do anything all weekend long except go to the expo, go to dinner with the group, and keep my legs up. ::yawn:: God bless my husband. Come race day, I ran a pretty good race until about mile 23, when my total and utter failure to fuel properly caught up to me, making me hit the wall so hard and so dramatically that I swore I was going to fall asleep standing up (and while moving forward). Boston ’09 remains my worst bonk, and I swore to myself that I’d never, ever, put myself in that position again in a race. I was on track to requalify at Boston up until that point – something that I thought was nearly impossible – and I blew it because I had probably consumed about 200 calories (!) from when I woke up that morning through mile 23 (!!!!!!!!!) in the race. Ouch. I talked with a dietitian after the race, got some pointers, and went back to the drawing board. Also, this was my only marathon wherein I wore tights instead of shorts (but still wore a singlet… call the fashion police on me for that one). Takeaways: Boston is special; even on a bad racing day, Boston is Boston is Boston. Fueling properly is critical. Don’t wear tights with a singlet, unless you want to look like a bowling pin. Right on Hereford; left on Boylston. 3:47, the 7 minutes that broke my heart for a long time

[can you believe I can’t find a single picture from my Boston ’09?! was I so nervous that I couldn’t take one shot????]

Rockford, IL Marathon: This was another fast turn-around (about a month), and since I had family in Rockford who’d be cheering for me, it made for a very low-key, low-nerves event. I think I had something to prove to myself about my fitness after utterly blowing up at Boston, and with a new nutrition plan in place, I went into this race feeling much better about how I’d fare. Rockford remains one of the smallest marathons I’ve run (even though it had a HM and relay option, I think), and there were several points along the course where there was nobody ahead of or behind me, making me wonder if I was even in the right place. With the total absence of nerves compared to Boston, I got my “redemption,” got to see my family along the way, and had a great OA/AG placement, thanks to the small field. 😉 Takeaways: Racing redemption can mean whatever you want it to mean – going faster or racing smarter, for example. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone, except when you feel like you owe it to yourself; in which case, go for it because no one else will care as much as you. (I mean that lovingly, though it sounds like I’m being flippant about it). Smaller races, while lacking in fanfare and (perhaps) ambiance compared to their big-city counterparts, can have a lot going for them. Try really hard not to get lost mid-course. 3:39:11

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one of the best tchotchkes I’ve ever gotten from a race. the RPS kids apparently made little motivational signs for the runners, so we all had signs in our packets. I like the “I hope you guys win!” sentiment. 🙂 this was hanging at my cubicle for years!

 

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Akron Marathon: I wanted to return to Akron because I had enjoyed myself so much there in ’08. The course was challenging (though it has since been changed to be “easier,” in the RD’s words – for shame!); I loved being able to see my folks during the race; and I will always take an excuse to go home to see my family. I took things really easy and finished the race “feeling like I could keep running,” according to my RR from the time. I remember getting rained on the last 10k of the course, once we cleared Stan Hywet Hall, and thinking that that was the most magical thing ever. (Eds. Note: I am, apparently, easily amused and amazed during endurance events. Lack of oxygen, much?). I would be running Marine Corps in a month’s time, and I finished Akron feeling untaxed and unfazed. My training had been horrible during the summer ’09, thanks to what was probably rampant overtraining – no surprise, given how much I had been racing – as well as full-time employment, full-time graduate school, and interning PT at a refugee resettlement agency up in Albany Park (which amounted to a LOT of time on the CTA traveling between Lincoln Park, the Loop, and AP)… as well as ongoing issues with my GI system that would later lead me to getting tested for a battery of fun stuff like Celiac’s, Crohns, UC, and the like. God, reading all of that again makes my head spin. I had also brilliantly decided that summer ’09 would be an excellent time to try Pfitz training for the first time, a decision that lasted all of one week, if that, before I realized I was in waaaaaaaay over my head. With all of this in mind, then, I knew going into my autumn ’09 races that they’d be less about time-on-the-clock and more about the experiences, and finishing Akron with a smile on my face and with enthusiasm to go run MCM in about a month’s time signaled a success for me – albeit a very tired and weary success. Takeaways: life totally matters when it comes to marathon training. If you’re working FT, going to school FT, interning PT, and the like, throwing marathon training into the mix might be questionable. That is to say that marathon training during and through hectic life periods might provide for a semblance of balance, but remember on race day all the balls you had to juggle to get to the starting line in one piece. Cut yourself some slack periodically. Again: you are the one, the only one, who ascribes worth to the time on the clock. 4:17:59

Marine Corps Marathon: About a month after Akron, my parents flew down to DC to meet-up with C and me for a little race-vacation over MCM weekend. None of us had ever been before, and with a lot of planning on my part, I think it’s safe to say that we all had a really cool and fun trip together and got to see/experience a lot of DC. I was worried about DC’s accessibility for my mom, but damn: the government sure does a good job of making sure that folks on scooters can get anywhere. We all stayed in Crystal City, actually along the course (much to my surprise), so seeing them around mile 23 was a great pick-me-up. With my sub-par training during the summer, my only goal was to go sub-4 but more than anything, just to enjoy myself and sightsee along the way. Mission accomplished. I vividly remember getting to the race start late, thanks to some transportation issues out of my control, and being in the porta-potty while the national anthem was going on. Thank god for chip timing, though I still stupidly tried to schlep myself up towards the front of the crowds so as to not get stuck behind slower-moving participants. All in all, it was an excellent family trip, with a nice little marathon thrown in for good measure. Takeaway: race-cations can be a lot of fun, even if (especially if) a breakthrough marathon performance isn’t your goal. Also, make sure you cross your Ts and dot your Is to ensure that you get to where you’re supposed to be on time, even with chip timing on your side. 3:57:13

DC with parents
this cracks me up. we had a lot of fun, though my mom is trying to convince you otherwise.

 

DC with C
cheesin

 

12 marathons down! Next up: the 2010 & 2011 installment.

35 by 35: A Runner’s Quest by Taryn Spates

One thing (among many) that I love about running is our community. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to get to know and befriend many people through running, training, and racing across the country, and I’m pretty sure that with many of those people, I wouldn’t have had the good fortune of interacting with them otherwise. That’s the cool thing about running; when we’re not on the trails together, we all lead such distinctly separate lives as parents/employees/whatever, but when we’re on the run, our singular identity becomes that of a runner, and that’s what binds us together. It’s kinda cool, really.

Soon after my family relocated to the Bay Area, in July 2014, I had the pleasure of running the San Francisco Marathon as a member of TSFM’s race ambassador group, and in the process of being an ambassador for the year leading up to the race, I got to meet many runners, some of whom were Bay Area-based and others who were not. As I wrote about in my recap, I had an excellent second TSFM, and more importantly, it was a really fun weekend with friends old and new.

One of those new friends I had met over the course of TSFM weekend was Taryn Spates, sister to also-new-friend Sarah, who is friends with old-friend-from-Chicago-who-now-lives-here Erin. Finishing TSFM meant a lot of different things for our little gaggle of women that weekend – including some BQ or PR victories – but for Taryn, it signified the culmination of finishing her thirty-fifth marathon by the time she turned 35 years old.

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one of my fav pics because these ladies are wonderful and because we all had a memorable race. TSFM ’14 with L-R Erin, Meg, Taryn, and Sarah

Let that marinade for a minute.

What have you ever done willingly 35 times?

Prior to the race, Erin had mentioned to me that Taryn was in the throes of realizing this “35 by 35” goal of hers and that she was working on a book about it, but I think it was one of those unfortunate in one ear and out the other things for me. Knowing that Taryn had completed her 35th marathon on TSFM race day was cool in and of itself; eventually learning (re-learning) that she was working on a book about her adventures was like the icing.

Earlier this year, when I was posting some book reviews up here about some running-related stuff I had read lately, Taryn dropped me a line and offered to send me a copy of her book, aptly titled 35 by 35: A Runner’s Quest. I won’t say that this is a “sponsored post” or anything like that because while yes, it was free, there was no expectation of me posting a review – it was a gift – but I wanted to take some time to share Taryn’s book because I think it’s a gem. Honestly. I wouldn’t spend my precious time dropping a couple Ks worth of words if I felt otherwise. I think many readers of this blog would appreciate Taryn’s writing and would be equally inspired by her drive to realize her endurance athlete goals.

The executive summary: 35 by 35 is an inspiring, motivating quick read that captures Taryn’s pursuit of finishing 35 marathons – stand-alone marathons and those completed as part of Ironman races – by the time she turned 35 years old. Not every race was pretty, as any runner can attest, but Taryn shows us how she walked away from each experience having learned something about herself as an athlete but also as a person and how each experience further stoked her drive. Along the way, we learn about how the “external factors” of Taryn’s life outside of racing and training – such as her employment (and sometimes, unemployment) in the entertainment industry or her getting married and becoming a stepmother – positively and/or negatively affected her ability to pursue her goals, which, at one time, included becoming a professional triathlete. While we may not be able to understand her unflinching love of the most grueling endurance pursuits out there (we’re talking about a woman who has completed at least nine Ironman-distance races), we can relate to how dearly she holds the endurance community in her heart. I read Taryn’s book in the days leading up to the Modesto Marathon, and I apparently couldn’t have chosen a better time to be reading a book that would help get me back into the marathon mentality. Her ruminations are honest and insightful, funny and refreshing, and when I finished reading her book, I was all-too-eager to go gulp down that marathon koolaid that was awaiting me at Modesto.

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Taryn divides each race experience into its own chapter, with the book going in chronological order, and each race reads like a bird’s-eye-view story or perhaps even like a fairly general race recap that you might encounter on a blog post (but with far less obnoxious language). I got the impression that each chapter/race experience entry could be its own disparate, stand-alone entry (again, kind of like a blog post) and read on its own, since each chapter/race usually doesn’t build much upon the preceding. It’s an interesting balance that Taryn struck here because while each unit could stand alone, the book pretty seamlessly transitions from race to race and isn’t jarring or abrupt.

With endurance events becoming increasingly popular in recent years (particularly at the half marathon distance), more and more people will be able to proudly call themselves endurance athletes, but for the large majority of the population, how and why people could become interested in, if not also addicted to, gruelling events like the marathon or the Ironman distance is beyond comprehension. I totally get it with marathons; with Ironman-distance events, not so much 😉 Taryn’s book shows readers how relatively easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole in this community – particularly after you run your first event and you begin to think about all the ways you can improve at subsequent events. Taryn’s entries unfold this phenomenon nicely, and the conviction in her love of the run permeates her writing in a way that makes it accessible to even the strongest naysayers out there. Dare I say that she helps people “get it,” even when they don’t think they can (or want to).

From her first marathon in San Diego in 2001, when she had “become a grown up” to her thirty-fifth at San Francisco in 2014, so much about Taryn’s life had changed – career, marriage, motherhood, you name it – but one of the only things that remained constant was her drive to be a better athlete, in part inspired by her brother and other friends and family members. This is again something where many of us can relate; like Taryn, we run our first marathon for the experience, and soon after we cross the finish line, we begin scheming about how much time we could imagine taking off by tweaking our training. Once that happens, then we begin to think about what it would take to qualify for Boston. Then once we realize that goal, it becomes about AG placing, and the list goes on.

This isn’t to say that this book is just a laundry list of goals realized; Taryn is quite candid about when things didn’t go well or when shit just sometimes happens – quite literally, as it were – in races. When you’ve been an endurance athlete for so long, as Taryn shows, sometimes you have good seasons and good races, and sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. It’s the ebb and flow of training and racing, much as we all seem to have an ebb and flow of life. There’s a reason that so many runners are also writers; the sport is like one big freakin’ metaphor.

As a multiple-marathoner myself, I enjoyed reading Taryn’s book a lot and found myself nodding in agreement with so much of the sentiments that she captured. The parts I found especially interesting were about her Ironman training and the times that, thanks to some employment/family life stuff, she was able to train for her events on a nearly full-time basis in an attempt to become a pro triathlete. Never in my running career, even at my most zealous, have I thought I stood a chance in hell at going pro, so these sections were pretty eye-opening.

Since completing her 35 by 35 quest, Taryn has re-run the Boston and LA Marathons and has also run her first trail 50k. She has no intention of hanging up her running or triathlon shoes, and I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before we hear from her again as she sets off to realize her Next Big Goal and who knows, maybe that’ll mean there will be a sequel! If you’re looking for a quick and fun read before your next big event, I think Taryn’s 35 by 35 fits the bill (and plus, hey, how cool, I’m in it! I’m “Ambassador Erin” in the SF Marathon ’14 chapter). Likewise, I think this book would make a thoughtful gift for someone who’s about to complete his/her first marathon or Ironman-distance event. Meeting Taryn on the final leg of her 35 by 35 journey was a treat, and seeing her hard work come to fruition in the 35 by 35 manifestation has been as exciting as another marathon finish.

bay area wife and mom ruminating on her love of the run