Browsed by
Tag: friends

Two Cities Marathon training (wks 9-5)

Two Cities Marathon training (wks 9-5)

This is such a good time of year to be an endurance athlete. It’s such a big weekend (Chicago, Twin Cities, Kona, IM LOU, Dick Collins, Healdsburg, East Bay 510, so many more I’m missing), and there’s just so much to look forward to and so many people to be excited for. It makes my soul sing! The air in the morning here is getting “California crisp” – what I call anything under 50 degrees – so while it’s still near the 80s, 90s, or even 100 in the afternoon, at least in the morning, it’s finally beginning to feel like fall (some days, anyway). So good. Every day of the year is a good day to do this stuff, but this time of year, it’s magical.

another autumn day
another autumn day


It’s been more than a while since I last posted any training updates for the Two Cities Marathon – which we’ll be staring down in less than a month’s time now – so alas, here’s a long overdue recap of how training is going. I’ll try to keep this short(er) and sweet(er) than my usual 2k+ word diatribes.

Picking up where I left off last time:

9 weeks out: 44.08 miles

long run: 16 with 10 at GMP (7:30, +/-). For not doing GMP in a while, this went fairly well (7:28, 32, 29, 19, 36, 23, 28, 34, 31, 17), even with the final 2.5 miles going straight into gusty winds. My stomach held it together on this run, too, which is basically akin to earning an Olympic gold medal. I’ll enthusiastically take it.

8 weeks out: 49.16 miles

speed: 10 miles with 5 at tempo (around HMRP, but I haven’t really raced a half well in forever, so I was shooting for anywhere between 7:05-13). I took to a park near home and lapped it to death, resulting in a map that resembled either a boot or a heart, depending on your mood: 7:04, 6:58, 6:59, 6:58, 6:53. Considering the last time I did a 4 mile tempo at the same park, and had to make an emergency stop in the woods so as to avoid the Big D, again the fact that I made it through this workout without that is a victory.

long run: a little over 18 trail miles (user error on le Garmin) at the beloved four peak run: Monument, “EMS,” Mt. Allison, and Mission for just over 3,600′ gain. So pretty up there. It’s always worth the work, and I’m forever grateful to tag along with Marc and Saurabh. It’s just so awesome and unlike anywhere I’ve ever run before moving here.

Regrouping at the top of Mission Peak before beginning our descent homeward
Regrouping at the top of Mission Peak before beginning our descent homeward


view looking eastward from Monument
view looking eastward from Monument


regrouping at the top of Monument Peak before going to EMS (right side) and then Mt. Allison (left side, with the towers)
regrouping at the top of Monument Peak before going to EMS (right side) and then Mt. Allison (left side, with the towers)


7 weeks out: 32.31 miles

-long run: 16 miles. No GMP goals, just time on my feet, with the run being made more enjoyable by company (Tri Geek for the first 4, Saurabh for the first 5, and Anil for the entirety). We also all randomly wore blue shirts on this run. I should have taken a picture.

No speed workouts this weekend because I decided to sleep in. Slacker.

6 weeks out: 50.58 miles

-long run: 15 with 12 at GMP (7:34, 23, 29, 33, 41, 36, 26, 43, 37, 37, 20, 15) with a good side of GI issues from miles 8-12 and a shit ton of mud. I decided to run in the Baylands for this, and I even recall thinking that the further I go in, the more likely it will be muddy, which will surely make the GMP feel a lot harder because my shoes will be getting sucked down into the mud (and also weighed down by it) … and yeah, that was a brilliant idea on my part. Mental training for sure.

-speed: about 10 miles with 5x1k at 5kRP (haven’t raced a 5k in a while, so I just used 6:35 as my pace based off a forever-old PR) with 50-90% jog recovery in between sets. Overall, this went ok: a 6:52 pace, 6:39, 6:30, 6:43, 6:27. I had some issues with getting the distance exactly right (my repeats were between .62-.64 miles each), but overall, for doing it a day after a big LR workout, I felt pretty good about it. This completed my first 50 mile week in a long time, which was also really satisfying. Healthy miles are the best type of miles.

5 weeks out: 50.36 miles

-long run 17 in stages (7.11 at 7:33 avg; 10.03 at 7:59 avg). Last Saturday morning, my kids ran the RNRSJ kids’ races, and on Friday night, a friend went into labor, so between the early morning races and the sleepover we had on Friday night with my neighbor’s three year-old, running early on Saturday just wasn’t feasible. I don’t like to break-up long runs, but I’d prefer getting the mileage in to skipping it altogether. The first run was way faster than necessary – I blame it on a huge adrenaline surge of trying to get in as much mileage as possible while everyone was asleep at home – but even with that, I felt pretty good when I posted the second bit that night, albeit with some bathroom stops.

almost at the end of the 800m kids' race. It blows my mind that she can run with her hair down bc that'd drive me crazy!
almost at the end of the 800m kids’ race. It blows my mind that she can run with her hair down bc that’d drive me crazy!


I think she was the only walker in her "diaper dash" heat :) (and yes, marathonfoto thinks you'll pay for pics of your kid walking about 5 feet...)
I think she was the only walker in her “diaper dash” heat 🙂 (and yes, strangely, marathonfoto thinks you’ll pay for pics of your kid walking about 5 feet…)


Another weekend without a speed workout – what should have been 600m repeats, I think – due to volunteering at RNRSJ in the morning with Wolfpack and my disinterest in running a workout that evening. An easy 5 it was instead. Better than nothing.

always fun times volunteering at RNRSJ
always fun times volunteering at RNRSJ with Wolfpack. Big Sis has done it with me for two years now and genuinely seems to look forward to it.


she felt like a rockstar bc so many runners came over for a side-5


For the most part, training is going rather smoothly, and I’m happy with how things are going and how my body is feeling. As has been the case since I last wrote about my training, I’m still posting nearly all of my runs during the week with single or double stroller, and my weekend running is usually one day of the speed/threshold stuff and the other day as a long run. I’ve done more GMP work this cycle than I usually do, and as is often the case, GMP at times leaves me a bit terrified, wondering how the fuck I’ll be able to try to hold that pace for the race. I often feel like throwing down GMP mileage during marathon training is as much about the mental games as it is the physical. No doubt it can be intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun. It shouldn’t be so easy that it’s effortless, but it’s also a little unnerving when it feels somewhat hard and like you can’t wrap your head around that pace for the marathon distance. Basically: I think I’m exactly where I need to be.

This training plan will have me max out around 55 mpw, which is a little lower than what I’ve usually done (closer to 65-75), but I feel confident that it’ll suffice. Historically, I haven’t had any problems handling the 60-70 mile weeks, in terms of injury propensity or family stuff, but it also necessitated a lot of 4-6am running during the week, and quite honestly, I’m just not all that interested in doing that right now. I’ll get back to that schedule eventually, but right now, I’d rather just wait to run during the morning daytime hours, with the baby, post-kinder drop-off and/or piecing my miles together with drop-off and/or pick-up. Having a decent percentage of my running volume as stroller miles means (aside from the fun quality time and the slight promise of some semblance of a morning nap) that a lot of my mileage is pretty easy and casual, which for marathon training is good. Back in the day, I couldn’t understand why you shouldn’t run hard and fast (GMP or faster) on nearly every run; these days, I’m pretty much the opposite. The easy days should be easy so that the hard can be hard. If it works for the pros, it’ll work for me. Pushing weight in front of me definitely helps keep my “easy” pace in check.

Life circumstances have dictated that I basically throw out the scheduled programming for weeks 5, 4, and 3 and rearrange things pretty significantly, so just like with anything else in marathon training, it’s a bit of an experiment of one and so far, it’s been fine. It’s amounted to breaking up long runs between a.m. sessions with (or without) the baby and p.m. sessions solo, post-bedtime, as well as front-loading a week to accommodate for family travel, in addition to rearranging things to accommodate for a scheduled colonoscopy that ultimately didn’t happen (grr! stupid false positive pregnancy test!!) and for two mornings of spectating/volunteering at RNRSJ. It’s all good stuff, aside from the thwarted colonoscopy – which I have to reschedule in a week’s time, ugh – and luckily, running is fairly flexible. It just necessitates some creativity and, when necessary, letting go when it’s just not feasible to get 100% of the training in. On that note, it wasn’t until about 7 weeks out that I started doing “the little things” more regularly, but I still need to routinize that stuff better. I feel like a lot of runners are in that boat; we’ll move the world to make sure we post all of our scheduled mileage for the day/week, but we somehow just can’t find the 10-20 minutes each day to get the rest of our body in tip-top shape. Working on it…

And finally, on the GI front, there’s not a lot of news to report. I’m still having the same issues, at about the same frequency and intensity, which sucks. Fortunately, the endoscopy, parasite tests, and lactose testing all came back clean – no worms or milk allergies for me – but because I’m still having issues on the regular, a colonoscopy is in order, which is shitty in both the literal and figurative sense of the word. I last had one when I was still in Chicago, circa 2012, and it didn’t offer any answers, so I’m not anticipating much this go around either, but it’s worth a shot, anyway. A lot of good news has come from all of this – basically, I’m really, really healthy; I don’t have any absorption issues; there’s no underlying systemic inflammation; more things I’m forgetting – so for as shitty as this stuff is (you’re welcome), all told I’m very glad to be as healthy as I am, inexplicable diarrhea be damned.

Good luck and godspeed this weekend, friends!!! xo

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

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.

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.


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.