The Saint George Marathon Recap


When my coach sent me my splits for the St. George marathon it was for three hours. Flat.  He added the following caveat, “I think you are capable of going under three hours if you stick to the pace for the first half, then adjust how you are feeling for the second half, but remain patient until around the 5K mark and go.”

He then encouraged me to set two goals for St. George.  The first one was one that I would be happy with for the day, but still challenged me.  Then the other goal is what he called an “out there” goal where everything is going better than expected and I could push myself hard and test my limits.

I think my coach offered me very realistic goals.  St. George is always a little tricky for me, I think it’s a course that requires you to be strategic and tests your patience, but I knew I wanted to sub three on that course.  It’s been one of my personal goals for a few years.

The expo was short and sweet for me, it’s always just like grab and go.  If I’m racing I don’t want anything to drain my mental energy because I know it will require every ounce I have to compete the next morning.  As much as I love race expos and taking in all things running, the noise and crowds can leave me feeling a little worn out.  I really try to keep the day before the marathon stress free and low key.  I almost feel like I’m putting up protective walls that day, like a mental cocoon of positivity.  I’d much rather put my feet up and listen to an inspiring book or podcast.

I was so excited to have new race shirts for the St. George Running Center Team.  I love the color and am so thankful for Kendra and Steve’s support. They really are the heart and soul of all things running in Southern Utah.


I was so glad that the back pocket on these Lululemon Speed Shorts was large enough to hold my First Endurance liquid shot.  It was the only fuel I took during the race and it gave me good energy.


I am always so grateful to my friend Amber’s dad who is willing to drive us up to the start.  It’s a minivan full of jittery nerves and laughter, but being with the girls that I’ve trained with all summer means so much to me.


After submitting my runner’s resume last spring with my 2:55:16 from the Revel Mt. Charleston marathon, race officials selected me for the sub-elite category.  This meant that my race bib was green and that the porta-potty lines were slightly shorter.  I’m honestly not sure what rubric the officials use to gauge the elite and sub-elite qualifications.  As the St. George marathon continues to grow in popularity, they may need to clarify this more.  Although Boston is sometimes criticized for being too severe, at least they are consistent.  I’ve known more than one runner who earned an elite spot and didn’t receive it.  When it comes to rules, gray doesn’t help.

I used the bathroom about 17 times and then dropped my gear bag off and went to the start to warm up.  I was thankful to feel a little chilly, the weather forecast was for a pretty warm day and I was worried.  My coach had warned me that it’s not so much about cooling down, but staving off the heat all together.  He encouraged me to drink at least a few sips of water at all the water stops and dump a cup of water on my neck even before I felt hot.  I am so thankful I heeded this advice, even though I was sopping wet crossing the finish line, I didn’t overheat.

My splits were very conservative for the first 4 miles and that’s okay.  I had talked with some runner friends who said your whole St. George marathon can blow up if you take the first 4 too hard and I was determined not to make that mistake again.

My friend Sarah snapped this picture as I ran through the little town of Veyo, Utah.  I love seeing the crowd and all these sweet people who come out to cheer us on.  I had just put my music in and was about to get to work.  I think this is my “game-face.”


My plan was to average 6:50’s for the first half and hit 13.1 miles in 1:31:07.  I ended up running Veyo hill quite a bit slower which put me behind, I was breathing pretty hard going up and I had the thought that it didn’t make any sense to trash my legs at this point in the race, so I backed off.  I was fairly confident that I could make up the time in the second half if everything was going well.

Miles 7-13 are not my favorite on the course.  This is usually the place where first time runners shout with rage, “I thought this was all downhill!?”  The only thing I try to focus on for these miles is my music and seeing my husband at Snow Canyon.  I tell him all the time, but he’ll never understand fully, how much it means to have someone who loves you waiting for you. It’s the best thing in world when you’re racing.  We had a quick handoff of coconut water that tasted like manna from heaven.

With the speed coming down from Snow Canyon, I was finally in that groove when the race begins to click. I was averaging about  6:30’s on the mile splits (10 seconds faster than my plan).  I had made up the time I had lost on Veyo hill and my legs still felt good.  Marathon racing requires constant management of energy, conserving it when you need to, so that you still have some left in reserve for those last 3 to 6 miles.  I was constantly checking in with myself and saying things like, “just hold here,” “I can keep running this pace,” “this pace will get me a sub three.”  I feel like this photo caught me doing runner math, so I looked like I’m “mean mugging” the poor photographer.  I love running, I really do.


With three miles to go I had about 24 minutes to make it under three hours. Even though I felt fairly confident that I could, I still wanted to give this race everything I had, so I picked up my pace.  With two miles to go I just ran.  I didn’t want to look at my watch, I just focused on the landmarks.  This section of the course that I’d run a hundred times is a road so familiar to me that I know every divot and pot-hole.  I passed the Washington County School District building where I applied to be a teacher 9 years ago and it changed my life.  Then I wound past the Tabernacle where I had said goodbye to my parents when they left last spring and sat in my car and cried.  Past the splash pad where my daughter first dipped her baby toes before she could walk.  Down on past the church where I listened to my friend Mauri’s son speak before he left on a mission.  Then past the pilates studio where I went before I had my daughter and I didn’t really appreciate what free time or Saturday afternoons to yourself truly meant.

And I felt it.  All these moments.  All these memories.  This wondrous connection to a place I love so much, to a sport I love so much, to friends and family I love so much, and to have it all come together in that one moment just leaves my heart filled with gratitude.  I was able to come across the finish line as the 18th female with a time of 2:57:09.


It is never lost on me how the stars have to align to make race day successful.  I am so thankful to my family, my teammates, the other runners, and to all of you.  Thank you for the prayers and good energy sent my way, it means so much to me.

Although I ran smart, I didn’t go for the “out there” goal, and even though that number in my head scares me a little, it’s always good to have something else to chase.  Happy running friends!

Did you run St. George?

What’s your “out there” goal?

Have you tried coconut water in a race?

What’s your favorite race fuel?


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Mental Preparation and St. George Marathon Goals 2016


“The only thing that replaces fear is faith.”-Rich Roll

I was listening to Rich Roll’s book, Finding Ultra, it’s one of those titles I like to play on repeat especially when I’m gearing up for a race.  As I listened, this was one of the quotes that really struck me. There are always a lot of fears going into a marathon and most of them we can’t control or change.

Here are a few of mine:

It will be hot.

I will be sick.

It will be an off day.

I won’t be brave.

I won’t sub three on the St. George course.

I won’t PR.

I’ll disappoint myself.

Whew, okay.  It actually feels so good to air those all out, writing truly is a cathartic act.

So the flip side…faith.

Believe in your training: All those tempo runs, long runs, and speed workouts.  Remind yourself, you did the hard work.

Trust the process: The first 6-8 miles never click for me, they feel uncomfortable as I settle in, but I know I’ll get into a groove.

Know that the people who love you, family and friends, are sending good energy and prayers your way: I can actually feel that good energy coming my way leading up to and during a race.  Take the pressure off yourself and let the people who love you most do the worrying for you.

Commit to the hurt, the hard, the work, and the sweat: There will be race panics I’ll have to talk myself through.  There will be sections of the race that will leave me wondering if I can get through it.  Just breathe and commit over and over again that you are capable.

Have confidence in your experience: Remind yourself, I’ve done this before, I can do it again.  If it’s your first marathon then just focus on getting through it, I love to look around and see other runners, you’re not alone.

Feel the love of the run: I like to remind myself that I am so grateful to get to do this, to have the health and strength that affords me this joy.


My coach shared some really great advice heading into the marathon, and it has to do with self talk, a critical component in dealing with the stress of a race. The first thing to do is to recognize your own self-talk.  Think about what kind of inner dialogue you have with yourself during a race.  Positive self-talk has been proven to improve your race by helping you control your concentration and focus while negative self-talk will only work against you by draining your energy reserves.  My sister calls negative self-talk “TNT” (toxic negative thoughts) and they cannot only blow up a race, but your happiness too.

In the beginning of a long race, you need self-talk to help you monitor your pace and help you conserve energy.  I’ve found that phrases like: nice and easy, slow and steady, or let them go out hard, I’ll catch up later  help me feel calm, relaxed, and in control the first few miles.

By the middle of the race, when you’re facing energy slumps and sometimes concentration issues, the self-talk should sound like this hold strong, or keep up the pace.  It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re thinking about how much farther you still have to go.  Try to avoid things like I’m only halfway, or I have to run this distance again?” Instead focus on your running form, think about getting yourself to the next water stop, or take in all the spectators out cheering for you.

Late in the race is when self-talk is critical.  Your body, because of energy depletion, will be signaling you that it wants to stop.  Self-talk can help you stay with a competitor or even begin to push.  Phrases like, just stay with him/her, get to the finish, or I live in this mile have helped me when it’s time to go hard.

Interestingly, disassociation and association tactics work well for different parts of the marathon because it’s an “energy management event.” Meaning you have to conserve energy in the beginning to be able to have energy in the end.  Early in a race, disassociation tactics are beneficial, thinking about things that will help take your mind off what you’re doing. For example taking in the scenery, planning what you’ll do when you’re home (or in my case what I’ll eat when this is over), and trying to relax as much as possible.  However, by the end of the race you need to be employing an association tactic.   Your concentration must narrowly focus to the simple task of holding your pace even though it hurts. “Just run” is often a phrase I repeat for the last three miles, because at that point it’s all my mind can focus on.

Concentration can be practiced.  Usually for long runs, my friends and I will chat the first few miles (disassociation) and then when it’s time to get down to work whether that’s a few tempo miles or some speed work, the headphones go in, the music gets turned up, and we’re focused on the run (association).  Doing some pre-race planning with imagery and visualization on how your concentration will feel can help turn a race day into a PR day.

Now to the race at hand, based on my training and how I’ve performed on the St. George marathon course previously (it’s never been my strongest race) my coach is hoping that I run around a 3 hour marathon. However, I’m hoping that the stars will all align and I’ll be able to see a two something (2:59-2:55). I’m also praying for no humidity and a nice little tailwind, I do believe in running miracles, but if that doesn’t happen I will simply do my best.  My mantra this time is: race smart, run strong, dare greatly. I’m sending love and luck to all the runners out running the marathon on Saturday.  You ALL inspire me.

While there is no easy marathon, we can train ourselves to embrace the journey we are on, surrender to the hurt of it, find peace with how it turns out, and ultimately love it for what it teaches us.  Happy running friends!


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First Time Marathon Questions

My friend Danni is running her very first marathon at St. George this year and I may be a tad responsible for peer pressuring her into registering.
Yep, this pretty much sums it up.
I reached out to Danni last week to see if there were any questions she had going into the big day that I could help her with. She had great questions and I thought I’d share them with you too!
1. In your opinion, what is the best way to fuel during a run?
The best advice I have for fueling is to not use anything new leading up to race day.  When your stomach is already jittery from nerves and adrenaline it’s best not to test out any new products.  Also, stay on top of fueling during the race, don’t let your body get depleted, this goes for hydration as well. Don’t wait for hunger and thirst as signs to to start replenishing your stores because by then it could be too late and you’ll feel like you’re running out of gas.  I take in calories every 4-5 miles in a marathon or half marathon.  I primarily use EFS liquid shot from 1st Endurance (I like being able to control the intake, but I have to hold the bottle the entire race), Honeystinger gels are great, or Honeystinger chews (2-3 at a time).
2. Is carb-loading necessary and how is this done properly?
Carb loading is necessary because of the glycogen depletion your body goes through over the course of 26 miles.  Read a great article about it here.
Carb loading won’t make you faster on race day, but it will hopefully help you mitigate “hitting the wall” which is essentially your body  running out of energy.
Where it gets tricky for me is finding foods that are carb heavy, but not so high in fiber content.  The weeks leading up to a big race, I am carb conscious, in the sense that I pay extra attention to making sure I am adding  those carbs that my body will need on race day.
3. Is there a specific training schedule you to follow or is there one for beginners that seems to work well?
My training plans comes from my coach Iain Hunter.  After my bonk at last year’s St. George marathon I knew I needed professional help to reach my specific time goals.  I already knew my legs could go the distance, I just wanted them to go faster.  He really helped me focus on tempo (a pace slightly faster than marathon goal pace) and it was a key change to helping me reach my goal.
For my first marathon I had the one goal that all first time marathoners should have…just finish.  That’s it.  And that is a huge thing!
After that, assess and see if you want to do it again (you will) and if you think you could do it a little faster (you can) and that’s when it is a good time to reach out to a coach or do some research into a training plan that will help you get to your new goals.
 4. If there was one thing you could tell me or any first time marathoner, what would it be?
Don’t give up.  You will think you won’t be able to finish the marathon about a million times during the race, but you can.  When it gets hard, and it will get hard, just focus on taking it a mile a time, or even a step at a time if you have to.
5. I’ve heard and kind of experienced chafing during my training runs. Any recommendations or anything you’ve found that works to avoid this?
Yes!  Isn’t chafing one of the worst running words ever?  It’s also one of the most painful because it’s sneaky.  You don’t always know you’ve chaffed until you get in the shower and then you scream bloody murder when the water hits those parts that we can’t believe just got chafed.
I use Body Glide to stop the chafing, prevent blisters, and end the shower screams.
6. This one is kind of gross, I am so stinky after long runs which I know is expected but is there a deodorant you like or use that helps?
There’s no such thing as too gross between runners.  With running friends you don’t even need the disclaimer, “Okay this might be TMI but, ” you just launch right in.  Runners get it.  I actually think I’m stinkier (my lit teachers at UW just rolled their eyes at that sentence starter) on race day because of the nerves.  I use Secret Clinical Strength deodorant (yep and now my mom is extra proud that her baby’s armpits need clinical strength deodorant) and it works really well.
 7. I have read on your blog about the “pain cave.” What is this exactly? When you are in this, what keeps you going?
I remember hearing that phrase “pain cave” when I listened to Rich Roll’s book and thinking that it was a really good way  to describe the feeling because the suffering can feel deep, dark, and lonely.  It can be caused by different issues like fatigue, exposure, burning lungs, or a specific ache or pain that you’re running through.   I think living in the pain cave or being deep in the pain cave means that mentally you are forcing the pain stimulus away and deciding that no matter what is hurting you will keep running.  It is really forcing your will to keep your body moving past the point where it wants to stop.

Do buy your race photos if there is no one to take your picture. These are moments that are worth celebrating.

One thing I like to do is set goals and intentions for each race and mentally prepare my mind for the battle it will have to undertake on race day. Having a mantra or quote really helps me stay strong mentally when I’m in the pain cave.

8. How do you pace yourself so you’re not dead by mile 19? 
Great question!  First, make sure that you’ve hydrated and fueled correctly throughout the race.  Then, to save your legs on the St. George Marathon course you need to try and run a negative split.  That means that the first half is SLOWER than the second half.  The first 6 miles of the course have a lot of downhill assist and if you go out too hard, the whole race can blow up.  Even if you’ve slowed 10-15 seconds per mile it will help your legs feel strong the rest of the way.  You will have to slow down on Veyo hill, I don’t even look at my watch, I just get up it nice and easy.  For your first marathon, just continually gauge your energy reserves.  Check in with and assess how you are feeling constantly.  Once you’re past the Ledges on the course, it’s a pretty safe place to start to pick up the pace if you’re feeling good.  If you’re struggling, then back off and let the downhill portions carry you to the end. Remember that there is no shame in walking, I walk through every water stop.  There is no shame in stopping and getting more water and fuel.  Your number one goal, the first time, is just go the distance.
9.  What does tapering look like? 
Tapering looks like moodiness, crankiness, and a super clean house, it’s the only time you’ll see me cleaning baseboards and reorganizing closets during the school year.
A typical taper for me is three weeks long. My coach bases my taper off my highest weekly mileage.  For week 1,  I reduce my overall miles to 80% of my highest total, so for this training session I ran 80 miles that week down from 110.  I still do tempo work and finish out with one last 20 mile run. On week 2, I drop my mileage down by 55% of my highest total which puts me around 60 miles for the week and one last shorter tempo run.  For week three I average 40 miles total which includes the 26.2 marathon distance.  It’s a very light week with no strength training.  You don’t want to feel sore on the starting line.
That being said, there’s nothing like a taper to make you question everything.  Pains start cropping up, your appetite increases even though you’re running less, and it typically feels like an “off” week.  Trust the taper though, you have to invest in rest and recovery leading up to race day.
Danni and all other first time marathoners inspire me so much, sometimes the bravest thing we can do is have the courage to try, and I promise a marathon will change your life in a really powerful way.  Happy running friends!
Visions of Snow Canyon at mile 16 on the St. George Marathon course.

Visions of Snow Canyon at mile 16 on the St. George Marathon course.

Add your two cents to any of these questions! Lets help first time marathoners have a great first race.

What’s your best advice for finishing your first marathon?  

When and where was your first marathon? 

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My Interview with “Badwater” Finisher: Cory Reese


Let’s just say my interest in ultra running is officially piqued and Cory Reese is one of the reasons why.   Although I might not be ready to bite off training for an ultra distance quite yet, I jumped at the chance to sit down with a local ultra runner, who had just completed Badwater.

The first time I heard about Badwater, known as the world’s toughest foot race, I was listening to the book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. The second time I heard about Badwater, was in Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run, as he described the 135 mile journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney as one of the most difficult races he ever completed. The third time, I heard about Badwater, I was sitting at a McDonalds in Washington, Utah listening to Cory’s first person account of this grueling race.  (You can watch a documentary about the race here, it’s called “Running on the Sun,” and it will redefine what the words hard and tough actually mean.)

That’s Cory Reese on the cover of UltraRunning Magazine.  Cory is known for his jump shots and amazing photography that captures spectacular moments like this.  Cory has become a local running celebrity, even though he’s much too kind and humble to take notice of praise like that. Here are a few other exploits that, in my book,  launch Cory to legend status.  Last year during the St. George marathon, Cory ran the course 4 times (up and down and then up and down again) for a total of 104.8 miles.  But that’s not even close to his distance record.  Cory also ran the “Across the Years” race in Arizona, logging over 200 miles in 72 hours.  Anyone who has run these kinds of miles and has battled their way through these kinds of distances has figured out some things about running, and I wanted to know what.

I asked Cory a lot about his training, here are some of the nuggets of wisdom he shared with me.  Even if you don’t run ultras, these tips will help your training:

*Cory averages between 70 and 80 miles a week, and his longest training run will be anywhere from 30 to 50 miles, but most days he runs about 10 miles.  I honestly thought his miles would be higher, but it’s reassuring to know training for the ultra distance doesn’t necessarily mean training to that distance.

*Cory treats each of his long runs as a “science experiment.”  I thought this was genius.  He explained that he uses his long runs to not only test out and try new products, but to test his limits with fueling and try to gauge how far can he fill or deplete his body to find that sweet spot of feeling fueled but not stuffed.

*Cory has trained his body to run, if need be, on liquid calories alone.  Explaining that in each ultra there will come a point where the body will not be able to tolerate actual food, so it must be able to “run” on liquid calories.  He admits that sometimes it’s better to feel a little hungry than sick on a run.  Cory credits Tailwind (which he uses in all training runs and races) for saving his Badwater experience when his stomach could no longer tolerate food.

*Cory saves music for the end of his races, you know just a mere seventy miles in, because it’s something that gives him an extra mental boost.

*Cory chose not run Badwater with his Garmin.  He explained that when he was deep in the pain cave, he didn’t want to look at the number on his watch and feel discouraged at how slow the race was progressing.  I thought this was such a great reminder about the journey that any race represents, especially in a 135 mile one.  All you can do sometimes is focus on the step you’re taking or the mile you’re running, because you’re still headed in the right direction.

*In describing the emotions you face when running an ultra distance, Cory has said, “the high’s are high, and the low’s are low.”

*Cory credits his family as one of the reasons he is able to accomplish these challenging races. He admitted that it’s easier to balance running now that his kids are older.   His family often accompany him on races and are an integral part of his crew for these events.  When you read his recap of Badwater, he writes about walking the last mile with his wife Mel while she reads him letters from their kids, be sure to grab a tissue.  It’s one of the most moving stories of a beautiful partnership, and a testament that with the right support behind you, anything is possible.  Read about it here. 

*Cory, a self-described ‘non-athlete’ in high school, has taken on and accomplished some of the most difficult races in the world which left me wondering how he chose the ultra distance and more importantly why. Cory’s answer was that running challenged him to think bigger, and his running philosophy was engrained in a willingness to try.  Because somehow within that desire to seek out and discover what your physical limits are lies ones of life’s greatest rewards.  It is a truth that all runners know, whether it comes with a medal or a belt buckle, there is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you gave it everything you had.

Cory running Badwater


In his spare time, when he’s not working full time, training for ultras, or working on his blog, Cory wrote a book.  I love this title so much, it’s exactly the type of honest and witty running truisms you’ll find on his blog.  I can’t wait to dive into this read, I have a feeling I’ll finish it in one setting.  You can order your copy on Amazon today!


Since Cory is the jump master, I asked him for a bit of a jump intervention. He said to keep the camera lower to the ground and to lift your legs, not just your arms.  My bad (insert “monkey covering his eyes” emoji.).

This one is a blooper.

After take 5, I was laughing so hard I was crying. Cory kept nailing the jumps and mine well...mine speak for themselves. I think my hip flexors are too tight to get liftoff.

Finally, we nailed it!


What’s the farthest you’ve ever run?

Would you consider running a 50K, 50 miler, or 100 mile race?

What question would you ask Cory?

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The Parowan Half Marathon 2016

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The thunder shook my house, in fact, it woke me up just before my alarm was set to go off at 3:15 am.  My sleepy and slow senses began to calculate the impact of the torrential downpour that accompanied the rumbling.  Pouring rain on a race day always reminds me that there are worse things than being simply tired.  I had planned on heat, but not a storm.

I drove what felt like a snail’s pace of 30 miles per hour on I-15 with my hazard lights flashing to meet up with friends, jump in their van, and drive about an hour to Parowan, Utah. It was a prayer filled drive and thankfully we made it safely.  We had just enough time to grab our packets, jump on the buses, and catch a ride up to the start.   It began to rain again as the buses pulled into the parking lot next to the Yankee Meadows Reservoir and I began to worry this would not be a day to attempt a personal best.

My friend captured this gorgeous sunrise. I could not believe how pink the sky and the reservoir looked!

The rain finally cleared and my friend captured this gorgeous sunrise. I could not believe how pink the sky and the reservoir looked!

I always head into a race with specific goals. I like to have an A goal and B goal, that way I’m able to make adjustments if the conditions don’t merit my hopes.  I had missed a key workout the previous week of an 8 mile, all-out, 6 minute pace tempo run, so my A goal was to complete that workout and use this race as a training run, but my B goal was to continue the momentum and fight for a strong finish.

The Parowan Half has all the charms of a small race including the “Okay runners…GO!” start.  No gun, no horn, just go!  The first 3 miles felt forced, almost stiff, like the effort I was giving was not reflected in my mile splits and I really thought about quitting.  Not like dropping out quitting, but I thought about slowing down, turning around, and just running with my friend.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  Sometimes it’s good to just let yourself think it through.  I thought about how I would feel if I gave up the fight and just ran this one for fun, and that feeling of disappointing myself was enough of a kick to get my legs moving and refocus on the work I needed to do.

As soon as my mindset changed, the miles started to click. This course has some serious downhill assist and my splits ranged from my fastest at 5:40 to 6:10.  Once we were out of the canyon I knew even the flatter parts of the course would feel like an uphill, so I banked a little time with those extra seconds on the downhill portions.  I was running as third female and I could have stayed there, but by mile eleven I wanted to dig deeper and see what happened.  The last mile is an incline and with my quads gassed from all the downhill pounding and my lungs burning with the elevation I felt like my legs were just dragging.  I was able to stay focused on ticking off that last mile one tenth at a time and even moved from third  to second female.  I was surprised to go back and see on my Garmin that the last mile was actually a 6:49, even though it felt like a 9:49.  It was one of those good reminder to press on.  Sometimes it feels like we’re not making any progress, but really, we’re doing so much better than we think.


After the finish line, I sampled some of the fare and I loved that they had freshly popped popcorn popcorn, the salty snack really hit the spot for me and I helped myself to two big red cups.  I also saw this genius idea, why is this the first time I’ve even seen hand sanitizer wipes?  They need to be at every race.  The teacher in me wanted to begin handing them out.


When I got home that afternoon my husband asked me what I ran this race in last year.  I had to go back and look it up.  Last year, I completed this race in 1:24:48, one year later, I finished it in 1:21:29 (Garmin shows me coming up a little short on the distance).  That difference was larger than I was thinking and it struck me that despite those time differences, each time I ran this race I had given  it my all.  Our “all” or our “very bests” won’t always be the same.  I love the quote from Don Miguel Ruiz, he says, “Your best is going to change from moment to moment.”  That is so true.  We grow, sometimes we slow down to enjoy the journey, we change, life changes, even our motivation changes.  But that’s what I love about races, we all get the same medal for doing the most important thing and that’s to do our very best in that moment.  That sense of self satisfaction is the real reward of racing.  Happy running friends!


What do you like better?  Halfs or fulls?

What is your favorite post race treat?

Have you ever seen hand sanitizer wipes at a race food table?

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Summer Running Essentials

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Definition:  To exude sweat

As in “She was sweating profusely.”

Oh thank you Merriam Webster for that succinct and yet somehow pungently descriptive sentence.

Yes, it’s summer and I don’t know about you, but we are sweating our way through July.  Our high here in St. George?  It’s about 110.  Our low?  80.  My garage, where I keep my treadmill, it’s like a million degrees.

Summer running can be challenging as we battle the sun, the heat, and the humidity, so I wanted to not only share my summer running essentials with you but give you the chance to win them ALL with my SUMMER RUNNING ESSENTIALS GIVEAWAY.  To be entered to win you need to be 18 years or older, a resident of the United States or Canada, and enter your email address on the “Keep in Touch” button right here on my website.  Super easy, right?

My SUMMER ESSENTIALS GIVEAWAY! Valued at over $80! It includes: 1 Camelback Quick Grip Chill, 1 Body Glide Stick, 2 Nuun Electrolyte Tablets, and 1 North Face "Better than Naked" hat.

My SUMMER RUNNING ESSENTIALS GIVEAWAY! Valued at over $80! It includes: 1 CamelBak Quick Grip Chill, 1 Body Glide Stick, 2 Nuun Electrolyte Tablets, and 1 North Face “Better than Naked” hat.

Okay let’s get to the good stuff!

First, hydration.  I traded in my small Nathan handheld for this Camelbak one after a disastrous run in Zion National Park.  My Nathan handheld doesn’t have an open/close valve so each time I filled it up, the water shook out all over my shorts as I ran.  Now I like small pretty, pink things too, but I had to upgrade to a better handheld water bottle.  This Camelbak is bigger, but it’s not any harder to hold with it’s adjustable strap.  I love that it’s insulated, so it keeps my water colder and of course with the valve top, it’s not splashing or wasting that precious water.

Trails, treadmill, or road this is the best handheld water bottle I've ever used. I love it!

Trails, treadmill, or road this is the best handheld water bottle I’ve ever used. I love it!

Here’s another fun summer running word-chafing: underneath my arms, my lower back, and my inner thighs, just to name a few.  The worst thing about chafing is that you don’t always know it’s there until you shower and then have to scream so loudly your whole family knows it really hurts.  I bought this Body Glide at the St. George Running Center and I love it.  I just put it on those trouble spots before I get dressed and somehow it magically protects my skin.

It works like magic!

It works like magic!

Another summer run lifesaver is a good hat.  I love this one from The North Face, it’s called the “Better than Naked” hat. It’s an ultralight hat with a low profile brim that helps combat those bright summer rays.  It’s super breathable with mesh vents and has quick wicking fabric to help moisture evaporate faster.  I also love that I can just toss it in the washer with the rest of my running clothes and it comes out just fine.


With all that sweating it’s so important to be replenishing those lost electrolytes.  In the past I’ve used SmartWater and coconut water, but I began adding Nuun tablets to my water and I can really feel a difference.  I especially love the new Nuun Energy tablets with the added green tea extract and B vitamins.  Plus the flavors are really delicious like Cherry Limeade, so it tastes like a treat with no sugary after taste.


Summer running takes a few more products and a little more planning to pull off, but like all hard things each time we conquer them, we’re better for it.  Happy running friends!

Don’t forget to subscribe by putting your email address in the “Keep in Touch” box for a chance to enter to WIN all my SUMMER RUNNING ESSENTIALS.

What helps get you through the summer heat?

What is your favorite Nuun flavor?

Do you prefer a hat, visor, or headband?

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The Kindness of Strangers

I have the coolest running story to share with you!


My friend Crystal is the one in the middle with the cute pink shorts (Lululemon).  When I first read about this experience on her Facebook page I was amazed and even got a little choked up. One of her friends commented that is was a real life “Good Samaritan” running story.  First, let me give you a little background information.

We’ve all had that race.  You know the one that leaves you slightly traumatized for weeks after, like you’re battling a little PTRSD (Post Traumatic Running Stress Disorder), and the pain is only made  more heartbreaking when you’ve trained for a personal record or a Boston qualifying time.  And here’s the gut wrenching truth all runners know, the one thing we can’t control on race day is the weather.

My friend Crystal had trained harder than ever to get a  Boston qualifying time at the Ogden, Utah marathon this past May.  Ogden was one of my sub 3 backup plans if Boston didn’t go my way, but at the last minute I heard about the  Mt. Charleston Revel Marathon in Las Vegas and ended up running that instead.  Unfortunately, the spring weather in Northern Utah is almost as notorious and mercurial as it can be in Boston; to say it rained is a gross understatement. Participants described the monsoon like weather as atrocious with rain piercing my skin and I guess it could have been worse, there wasn’t any lightning this year or the wind was brutal, with up to 40 MPH gusts.

Here’s how my friend described the day:

“This was my 2nd and last attempt at the Ogden marathon.  Less than half of the participants finished.  A few of my friends dropped out due to hypothermia and I should have done the same. The whole time I really couldn’t believe people were running in 40 mph winds with freezing rain and hail.  My hands stopped working at mile 6, so fueling for the race was out since I couldn’t even open the gels.  My face was so numb I felt like I’d been to the dentist. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my hips started to cramp.  I kept running but I had to slow down. By mile 22 the weather actually cleared up a little but by then my legs, from my calves to my hips, were completely cramped. I walked and ran the last 3 miles and finished.  I was starving, shivering, and before I knew it crying.  My husband took this picture about 10 seconds before I finished and my face is pretty accurate.”


My heart just broke for my friend because I know that pain.  I lived it during the 2015 Boston Marathon and it also left me in tears.

Here is where the story gets really good.  A few weeks later Crystal’s Ogden Marathon race bib surprisingly arrived in the mail, it had blown off somewhere along the course.  Here is what the accompanying note said:

Dear Crystal,

I hope this race bib finds you.  I was cheering the Ogden Marathon runners from the Pineview Dam when I saw your bib fall off.  I know it is tattered but thought it would serve as a reminder of running the Ogden Marathon with the worst storm ever.  The wind and rain on the course were awful.  I think you guys were awesome to push on and finish the race.  Nice job!



I am so moved by this gesture.  I know the sacrifices it takes to prepare for race day and I know the disappointment when the race doesn’t go the way you train for, and hope for, and pray for. Race bibs are special, they are tangible evidence of grit, determination, and courage.  The more torn, the more tattered, the more they were earned.  I’m so glad that Crystal was reunited with a race bib that proves she’s made up of all those qualities. The marathon is a humbling sport, but so is the kindness of strangers.  It’s a small reminder that in this imperfect and sometimes dark world, there are still people spreading goodness and light, and that is a very big thing.  Happy running friends!


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Seattle Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Recap

Joan Jett, in true rocker spirit, famously said “I love rock ‘n roll,”  and with her raw guitar chords, 80’s mullet, and black eyeliner, you knew she meant it.

If ever running and rock intersected then that was the kind of party I didn’t want to miss.  So when my Dad asked if I wanted to run the Seattle Rock’n’Roll half marathon with him I said I love rock ‘n roll so put another dime in the jukebox baby, just kidding.

It was more like, “sure!”

I thought about racing this one and probably drove my parents a little nuts as I waffled back and forth, but I ended up deciding to run this just for fun.  I had promised myself that I would take off the month of June from racing and give myself a little break from the stress and pressure that naturally accompanies race day.  Since I was enjoying an easy month, with no tempo runs and no speed work, I wasn’t primed to have a strong race.  And most importantly, I wanted to run this with my dad and cross the finish line together.


We headed to the expo on a Thursday to pick up our packets (I love a 2 day expo).  We also did a little taste testing (I tried out every new waffle flavor at the Honeystinger booth), got in a little product testing (Jaybird headphones are now on my wish list), and even managed a little shopping (I got the cutest Seattle Rock’n’Roll tank top at the Brooks Running expo store). Considering the number of entrants, we were expecting the expo to be really chaotic, but it was very organized and easy to navigate.  My dad, a long-time King County resident has a lot of experience facing the vicious nightmare known as Seattle Traffic, so he took full advantage of what the race offered to help mitigate those problems.  He paid an additional $25 for a guaranteed spot in the CenturyLink parking garage (worked like a charm) and $10 for 2 red stickers on each of our bibs that guaranteed us a spot on the buses to Seattle Center (not worth the money).  I had planned on returning to the expo Friday for the We Run Social meet-up, but sadly the rain and traffic lived up to it’s dire reputation.

We got a really early start Saturday morning so we would have plenty of time to get downtown and it’s a good thing we did.  There was very little traffic on I-5, but once we turned onto Edgar Martinez Blvd everything came to a halt. For forty-five minutes we crept along at a snail’s pace and worried that we would miss the buses and maybe even the start.  I was googling how far Seattle Center was (2.3 miles) and wondering if we ran/walked to the start would we still make it on time.  Finally, the Seattle police arrived and saved the day, positioning themselves at the intersections to get traffic moving again.  We parked, grabbed our things, and RAN to the buses. And that extra $10 for red dot stickers, they weren’t even checking.

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The next stop was Seattle Center for the start line, being greeted by the Space Needle was pretty phenomenal.  I love that we handed our drop bags to UPS truck drivers, I’ve never been more sure that I would see my extra layers and my leftover banana again.  We were both a little turned around, but we followed the crowd to the start.  The race had an official start time of 7 am, but ended up being delayed 15 minutes.  Because there are so many runners, each corral had about a 2 minute separation, so it was almost 8 by the time we were actually running.  It was a little chilly for this St. George girl, but I was thankful the rain held off for most of our run.


Waiting for the start and rocking the hardcore runner trash bag chic look. We were supposed to be twinners but I left mine in my drop bag.

There was great energy at the start from the crowd and the announcers and even my dad was bobbing along to DNCE’s Cake by the Ocean. I’ve always wanted to stop and take mid-race pictures so that’s what we did.  Running along the Seattle Viaduct was pretty amazing, this iconic eyesore is set to be torn down soon although the timeline for the new Seattle tunnel has been shall we say…delayed due to technical difficulties.  I have driven the Viaduct a hundred times, so to get to run on it was really, really special!


It’s an urban course with a lot of pavement and highways.  Seattle is a really beautiful city and I’m not sure the course this year took full advantage of the best spots.  However, it was certainly rocking and quirky.  We saw a handful of bands, a few cheerleaders, one group of drummers, and Seafair pirates (a long standing Seattle tradition).


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Plus the Brooks Running (Man? Guitarist? Rocker guy?  Does he have a name?) was pretty cool too!

The best part of the entire course was the blue mile.  It’s lined with volunteers holding American flags and pictures of soldiers who gave their lives fighting for this country.  The volunteers are cheering for us the runners and that experience was incredibly moving and humbling.  I wish every race added a “run to remember mile” to honor the service and sacrifice of our most courageous men and women.

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My dad had a pretty good kick at the end and we ran our fastest mile at mile 12, we crossed the finish line in 2:06 and some change.  I would say this was a very true course, meaning that there was never a downhill spot where you would be able to really gain speed.  It would not have been a PR course for me,  so to see that Jared Ward ran it in 1:06 just blows my mind!  There is something really special about sharing finish lines with people you love, I’m not sure how many more half marathons my dad will want to run (hopefully lots and lots), so I’m incredibly grateful to have shared these miles and this race memory together.  I’m going to join in with Joan and say it loud and proud, “I love rock’n roll too!”  Happy running friends!

Have you ever run the Rock’n’Roll Races?  Which one is your favorite?

Have you ever been stuck in traffic and worried you’d miss the race?

What’s your favorite expo activity?  Shopping, product testing, or eating?

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Running on Vacation

Fresh off the plane, I needed a few "I survived a 6 hour flight with my three year old miles." They were lovely.

Fresh off the plane, I needed a few “I survived a 6 hour flight with my three year old miles.” They were lovely.

Whoever said, “I only need a six month vacation twice a year,”  was a wise, wise person.  There is nothing quite like a vacation to allow the mind, body, and soul (cheesy but true) to reset, especially when the getaway includes sun, sand, and surf.  Last January my parents invited me and my little family to join them for a week on the Big Island.  At the time, I was elbows deep in teaching 150 sixth graders how to write argumentative essays and summer still seemed eons away.  But eventually, I graded all of those essays and then some more, made it through state standardized testing, finished up reports cards, and it was finally time to embrace summer!

I read a great article from Runner’s World about running on vacation here.  So if you’ve got an upcoming summer trip planned it has some good tips and is worth a read.

Some people might want to take a vacation from their routine, running included, but I love to run when I travel.  It’s my favorite way to connect with a new place, get my bearings, shake off jet lag, explore, ponder, reflect, and feel energized.  It’s really all the things that running does for me when I’m home, except I get to do it in new surroundings.  I love that running can really be done anywhere, just lace up your shoes and go!

The jet lag had me awake dark and early almost every morning-hello 4 am my old friend!  But early is always better because once everyone is up and ready to go, it’s difficult to squeeze in a run. We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa resort which had a great almost 3 mile loop that took me from road, to resort trails, to sand, and then back to the road again.  It was a little repetitive doing 3 or 4 loops each morning, but I was so thankful to not be stuck on the treadmill.


Since my parents are runners they understand my need to get out and exercise.  One of them would generously stay back at the hotel with my three year old, who thankfully, needed extra sleep due to the the jet lag, and then they would trade off.  So I was able to run a loop with each of them and then get in a few more solo miles.  These weren’t hard or fast miles, I really had to scale back the pace because of the heat and the humidity. You humid weather runners are some tough people!  While I was still able to get in my miles, I wasn’t able to maintain my strength training, and it’s okay.  There were other activities we were off to do, like my new favorite boogie boarding which is now called body surfing.  I’m going to stick with the old school term for this sport because no part of what I was doing could justifiably be called surfing.  I indulged in ice-cream every day because when it’s homemade, it’s practically a whole food.  And now that I’m home, I’m thankful for every mile, deep breath, delicious bite, sunset, sunrise and each forever memory.


Ku’a Bay was our favorite beach spot on the Big Island.

I know for me, running on vacation is just a matter of doing my best to stay active, adjusting the intensity, enjoying the company, and taking in the beautiful scenery.

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This is one of my favorite vacation pictures.

She dubbed herself a "sand pickle" and I swear there is still sand in her ears.

She dubbed herself a “sand pickle” and I swear there is still sand in her ears.

Where are you headed this summer?

How do you balance vacations and running?

Have you ever been to Hawaii?

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A Marathon Reveal and a Running Resume

I literally had to move to St. George to finally be able to run the marathon.  Prior to moving here (we moved from the Seattle area), I had applied twice and wasn’t selected either time, so I still get nervous when registration opens.  I cross my fingers, double check my address (I always want to BOLD my city, state, and zip code so there can be no doubt), and still worry that somehow I might not get in.  But I am excited to announce that I will be running the 2016 St. George Marathon on October 1st.

IMG_6700St. George is my absolute favorite race to be a part of.  It’s my hometown and that of course makes it special.  But the best part is training with my friends, sharing our marathon goals together, and seeing the hard work pay off.  A lot of runners erroneously believe that St. George is an all downhill, easy race, but it’s not.  It’s a course where if you want to be successful you have to be strategic.  I’ve had some success on the course, I was able to get my first BQ here, but I’ve also been humbled by this race and it’s never been my PR.

This year after reading through some of the fine print on the website, I decided to be brave and apply for an Elite Spot.  The requirement time for the Open Women was a 2:55 marathon or a 1:25 half marathon.  My marathon PR is 2:55:16, so I wasn’t sure if that would qualify me, but I do have 3 half marathon times from this year that are below the requirement.  Additionally, I had to attach a “Running Resume.” What the heck is a running resume, were my exact words next words.  I know…heck (you can roll your eyes), remember I’m from Utah now.  So I did what I do anytime I have a running question, I quickly texted my friend Amber who showed me an example of hers.

I will be cheering Amber on to another victory!

I will be cheering Amber on to another St. George Marathon victory!

Basically, it’s a short introduction about yourself, which includes your racing profile for the last 2-3 years, and some references (I used my coach and also the owner of our local racing team).


Here was the response:


Basically, it changes nothing (I get it, 16 seconds is 16 seconds, you have to draw the line somewhere), but it’s always worth asking because you only stand to gain.  My plan is to take the month of June easy and build my base back up slowly.  Then in July, the real work will begin and I am so excited to see what’s possible.  I would of love to get a PR on this course, but I would be so happy to see a 2:XX:XX. I will be working hard on this new dream.

What’s your next race?

What are your summer running plans?

Have you ever run St. George?

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