It’s Not Me, It’s You



Dear Running,

Let’s face it, these last 12 months have been rocky. You and I have been on thin ice. Literally.

Despite our intimate connection, there always seems to be something standing in the way of our relationship. And no, I’m not talking about the logs and streams we used to tackle together in Rock Creek Park. I’m talking about the cramping at mile 25 when I was just minutes away from a BQ. And the hip injury last fall that led to a no-show at the Chicago Marathon. Don’t even get me started on my current stress fracture. Because I didn’t get enough sun. Really? Now you’re just playing hard to get. It’s almost like our hot runs this summer in the swamp meant nothing to you.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s the endorphins I’m addicted to or the thousands of calories I can justify during marathon training. It seems every time I’m trying to get over you, the memories of our sunrise runs together still linger. Do you know how many cartons of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate brownie ice cream and bottles of wine its taken to put up with our split? My stomach and liver can only take so much.

After weeks of thinking about you on the bike and in the pool, I’ve decided that it’s not me, it’s you.

YOU’RE the reason I keep fantasizing about lacing up those shoes again and getting back out there. YOU’RE the reason I look at every other runner I see outside and wish I was them for just that moment. YOU’RE the reason I have never been able to love another exercise as much as I love you.

In fact, I recently signed-up for new sport that requires less time running and more time biking and swimming. I thought that this new activity, training for a half Ironman, would give me an opportunity to see someone new. Swimming and biking were supposed to take my mind off of you. As it turns out, I don’t really feel like myself when I have all 10 toenails intact.

I’m willing to give this another chance if you are. I can’t have it any other way. So how about this. Let’s get this next round of training started off on the right foot. My left will catch up as soon as it gets out of this boot. We’ll tackle some serious strength training. We’ll avoid over-training. We’ll eat right. And we’ll embrace the hurdles on this long road we’ve got ahead of us.


On second thought, let’s avoid those hurdles. Coordination isn’t a priority for the next steps in this relationship.

Photo credits.


Winter Running Survival Guide

Whether the forecast calls for two inches of snow or two feet of snow, winter shouldn’t get in the way of you enjoying a run outside. In just the few short months I’ve lived in Madison, Wisconsin, I’ve already learned several tips on how to enjoy running in the snow. Here are just a few of them:


Be Smart
It’s tempting to run on the roads when sidewalks aren’t properly taken care of, but there are several safety precautions to consider when hopping on the streets. Always stick to roads with shoulders. If there isn’t a shoulder, your safety is even more at risk. Run against traffic so you’ll know exactly when cars are coming. Be aware at all times and avoid distractions like wearing headphones. If you can’t hear cars coming, you can’t take the proper steps to avoid a dangerous accident from happening. It’s never a good idea to run through red lights but this time of year is especially dangerous. Cars can’t stop at the last minute when the roads are slick and icy. Be patient and wait for the pedestrian sign. Lastly, plan your run along paths that will be cleared. Check your local government website for ideas of trails that will be clear.

Stay Hydrated
Yes, most drinking fountains are shut down during the winter months. But they don’t shut down the bathrooms, which are usually complete with sinks. While it may look a little odd of drinking out of a sink, they make all the difference in staying hydrating this winter. Another option is to bring a hydration system with you during a winter run.

Invest in Gear
From reflective gear to traction devices for your shoes, investing in the proper gear could make or break your running this winter. I highly recommend Yaktrax, which significantly improves the ability to run in icy and snowy conditions. In addition, a dark run is inevitable this time of year. But running with a headlamp, a reflective vest and clothing with reflective tape will help you see and be seen. When it comes to safety, there’s no price too steep.

Don’t Over Heat
It’s tempting to throw on layer after layer but it’s also important to remember to dress appropriately. Over heating is not only uncomfortable but also dangerous! If you struggle with over heating, try warming up for five to ten minutes prior to a run to warm up your muscles. After you begin to feel warmer, take some layers off before you start your run. As a bonus, warming up also helps prevent injuries down the road.

Plan Ahead
Stay on top of the weather forecast. This will help you plan your runs accordingly. If your long runs take place on a Saturday but the forecast calls for an icy forecast that day, consider planning your run on a Friday or another day that doesn’t call for bad weather conditions. By planning your week ahead of time in accordance of the weather, you won’t be forced to trudge through bad weather or risk skipping out on a run.


Friday Featured Athlete: Marsden of

Let’s face it, if you’re running a 24-hour race, crazy is kind of an assumption–Marsden of

When the clock neared midnight on New Year’s Eve, I spent the last moments of 2014 stuffing my face with Bull Frog Bagels. Meanwhile, Marsden of had already completed more than 62 miles. In fact, when midnight hit, he still had several hours left of running to go in a 24-hour race.

Marsden was competing in a series of timed multi-day ultramarathons held near Phoenix, Arizona on New Year’s Eve called Across the Years. The event consisted of a 24-hour race, a 48-hour race, a 72-hour race and a six-day race.

The race was one of many #ChallengeYoSelf challenges Marsden conquered since last spring. And prior to Across the Years, Marsden hadn’t run more than a 50k, which was just one month before the 24-hour race.

“Most people can’t go off practicing 70-mile runs, but you can do back-to-back long runs reasonably well,” Marsden explained to me about his training for the timed race. “So I did a series of those and it worked reasonably well for me.”

the-start-1024x1024Photo courtesy of

Locked In

The event took place at the spring training facilities for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. Only 1.05 miles long, Marsden said the course was mostly flat and filled with crushed grave, similar terrain to the C&O Canal in Washington, D.C.

“You keep doing that loop over and over,” Marsden said. “Then after four hours, you turn around and run the other direction. My experience with timed races…is you get locked in to what you’re doing. If you’re running a marathon or half, you’re very interested in your split times and you’re looking very carefully at them. I don’t have that in timed races–I just kind of run (or walk, as the case may be) and all of a sudden ‘oh, I hit 50 miles, that’s kind of cool.’ If I was running a 50 miler, I would agonize over each mile time throughout the course.”

While running the same loop over and over again doesn’t sound ideal for an entire day (or longer), Marsden said there are numerous benefits to a small course.

“It was short enough to get support,” Marsden said. “In fact, they had an aid station halfway through, so you weren’t more than half mile away from an aid station to get water or anything if you needed it.”

Runners had access to their crew every lap, which meant they didn’t have to worry about carrying anything. They were never more than a mile away from a change of clothes or a pep talk, if they needed one. Getting lost, a nightmare for some first-time ultra runners, was nearly impossible on the one-mile course.

Being “locked in” to the timed race eventually led to Marsden to crossing the finishline (for the last time) at 85 miles after 24 hours of running–50+ miles more than Marsden had ever completed before.

Run the Race You Want to Run

“One of the reasons I like timed races is that I feel less pressure,” Marsden said. “If im going to be out there ‘X’ number of hours, you just go out there and do what you can do.”

Marsden added timed races are a great way segway into ultras because you can run as much or as little as you want.

“I think timed races are a great way to put your toe in the ultra water without signing up for some really hard ass trail race that may or may not be your cup of tea,” Marsden said. “There’s nothing wrong with those things, but I think timed races are a great way to get started. You can even try a six-hour race and then go from there. A 24-hour race sounds daunting on some level, but it’s not like everbody is forcing you to run the full 24 hours. Ya know, there were some people who’d go for 12 hours, sleep for a few hours and come back. It’s very flexible. You run the race you want to run, which is kind of fun I think.”

80-miles-1024x1024Photo courtesy of

Insider Tips from Marsden

Timed races can vary in scope but like most other races, there’s numerous ones to choose from throughout the year. In fact, Running in the USA lists more than 150 timed races on the 2015 calendar that range from three hours to six days.

Here are some tips Marsden for runners considering a timed races:

It’s Okay to Walk: From Marsden’s website: “Don’t underestimate the walking.  Unless you are one of the top runners, you are going to spend a good chunk of time walking.  Given that, add this to your training.  I didn’t do enough of this and it does stress different muscle groups than running.  Although I could keep a good pace walking, I didn’t have the experience trying to keep that pace for hours on end.”

Ultra Brain is Real: After telling his readers a hilarious story about dropping his gloves on the floor of a porta potty but visioning he was in the middle of the race, Marsden told his readers about an article he read about ultra runners losing six percent of their brain grey matter during an ultra race. From his website: “Around midnight I stopped at my table to grab a gel and wondered why some guy I didn’t recognize was at my table and why my table didn’t have my stuff.  After an uncomfortable 5 seconds I finally realized it wasn’t my table.  I looked at the guy and said, ‘Oh not my table.  Sorry, I’ve got ultra brain.'”

Be Strategic on Stopping: “I will think more about when I need equipment changes versus things that are convenient. One of the risks you take with timed running events, is it’s so easy to stop and do something. I would have five laps where I would change gloves. Each time [you stop], you’re taking a few minutes and if you do that enough, it starts adding up.”

Dunk Your Gu in Warm Water: “Putting your gel in hot water, it warms it up nicely and makes it far more palatable in cold weather. Salted carmel [gu] warmed up, good stuff.”


How a Stress Fracture Cost Me $300

Earlier this week, I went to see a doctor because I’ve been dealing with pain on top of my foot. The pain wasn’t enough to stop me from running and walking felt fine, but it was enough to be concerned about.

A few X-Rays later, the doctor came in and told me I had a stress fracture. He showed me the fractured bone, which was the fifth metatarsal, and said I’d be looking at four to six weeks of no running (at least).

Hearing news like this would have typically made me sad and angry. But instead, my immediate reaction was confusion. My eyebrows furrowed at the doctor and I said, “really?” I told the doctor my mileage has been very low compared to normal since my previous injury. I’ve been stretching. Taking days off. I’ve been doing everything I could do in hopes of avoiding an injury.

The doctor suggested an MRI to confirm the fracture. But he also suggested the fracture could be related to my Vitamin D levels, which allows the body absorb calcium and promote bone growth. According to WebMD, little vitamin D results in “fragile, misshapen bones in adults.” After I received my test results back, the doctor informed me that the fracture could be attributed to my Vitamin D levels, which were extremely low. I was put on prescription Vitamin D supplements and will do another test in a month to see if my levels come up. In other words, this fracture was not my fault (in terms of running).

Staying Sane

With nearly every other injury, I’ve always been told swimming, pool running and other low-impact cross training exercises are completely fine. But swimming, pool running and other low-impact cross training exercises won’t actually give the metatarsal time to heal. “Then what can I do to keep me sane,” I asked. “Stationary biking (with the boot) and upper body.” This was NOT music to my ears.

That night, I finished off an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s and at least half of a bottle of wine–I had been here before. Just a few months ago, I went through these emotions that made me felt useless, regretful and impatient. And I knew I couldn’t take another day of that again. That’s when I decided to skip those emotions that got in the way of me keeping in shape and focused on the positive ones.

I dug up some old but reliable P90X upper body workout DVD’s. I borrowed my sister’s road bike (another perk of living in Madison is being close to family!) and purchased a bike trainer. And I also made a few changes to my diet.

For a moment, I had a quarter-life crisis. I realized that I’m not going to be able to run forever. I’m only 26 years old and I already have 20 years of running under my belt. My legs and feet have to give out at some point. But that’s way down the road. A few months ago I set a goal for 2016: The Ironman. In order to achieve that goal, I’ll need to ramp up my endurance in the pool and on the bike.

But I know myself, and I’m going to skip those activities if I don’t have an immediate goal to work towards–so I made one.

And that’s how a stress fracture cost me $300. I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 to help see the bigger picture. The registration was a reminder that if I work hard, I’ll be ready in six months for a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run all in one race.

To get there, I’ll need to take this time to build up some endurance on the bike and gain upper-body strength that will become useful in the water. So while this stress fracture is frustrating, I’m forced to start laying the groundwork for my Ironman 70.3 training plan in a few months. I’m also forced to remind myself that these bumps in the road shapes our perspective as athletes. These struggles we go through gives us a reason to strive towards goals beyond what we know we’re capable of doing and shoot for something bigger.


Race Lotteries to Mark on Your 2015 Calendar

It’s a brand new calendar year, which means it’s time to start planning out your 2015 race calendar. While there are plenty of marathons out there that don’t require entering your name in a lottery, many of the large marathons do. In fact, there are lottery registrations for 2015 races that are happening right now!


Marine Corps Marathon on October 25, 2015
Lottery dates: Opens March 13, 2015. Closing date TBA.

More information

TCS New York City Marathon on November 1, 2015
Lottery dates: Opens January 15, 2015. Closes on February 15, 2015.

More information

Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 11, 2015
Lottery dates: As of January 5,  Chicago Marathon lottery date has not yet been announced but you can most likely plan for sometime in April (2014’s lottery opened on April 7, 2014).

Here’s a response from the Chicago Marathon after an inquiring about their 2015 race lottery: “Thank you for your email and interest in participating in the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon which will be held on October 11, 2015. Registration information is not yet available. We will have a lottery again and will be posting information in the early months of 2015.”

More information

St. George Marathon on October 3, 2015
Lottery dates: Opens on April 1, 2015. Closes on Monday May 4, 2015. (note from the website: “residents of Washington County are guaranteed a place in the marathon if entry is submitted by the May 4th deadline.”)

More information

Ultra Marathons

Bull Run Run 50 Miler on April 11, 2015
Lottery dates: Opens February 2, 2015. Closes on February 8, 2015.

More information

Massanutten 100 on May 16, 2015
Lottery dates: Opens Jan. 1, 2015. Closes on January 8, 2015.

More information

Marathons Without a Lottery to Consider

There are several popular marathons without a lottery to consider and if you register now, the prices will be dramatically lower than if you wait a few more months.


Erie Marathon at Presque Isle on September 13, 2015
Registration open now. Registration fees are as follows Note: Registration sold out for last year’s race in May)

Thru 6/1/15- $70
Thru 8/1/15- $85
Thru 9/1/15- $100
Thru 9/12/15- $120
Race Day- $125

More Information

Fox Valley Marathon on September 20, 2015
Registration open now. Registration fees are as follows:

Thru 1/31- $105
Thru 3/31 $115
Thru 5/31 $120
Thru $130

More information

*According to, more than 60 percent of race participants qualified for Boston last year in this race.

The Madison Marathon on November 8, 2015
Registration open now.

11/9 thru 1/31- $75
2/1 thru 4/30- $85
5/1 thru 5/31- $95
6/1 thru 7/31- $105
8/1 thru 8/31- $115
9/1 thru 9/30- $125
10/1 thru 11/5- $135
Expo- $145

Wineglass Marathon on October 4, 2015
Registration open now.

1/1 thru 1/31- $95
2/1 thru 3/31- $105
4/1 thru 5/31- $115
6/1 thru 7/31- $125
8/1 and after- $135

More information

Grandma’s Marathon on June 20, 2015
Registration open now. Registration fees are as follows:

1/1 thru 3/31- $105
4/1 thru 5/31/15- $115

More information

The Eugene Marathon on May 10, 2015
Registration open now. Registration fees are as follows:

thru 1/31/15- $95
thru 4/14/15- $105
thru 5/4/15- $115

More information

Photo attribution: “Running around Chicago” by Flickr user Steven Vance. License.


14 Lessons Learned in 2014


2014 was a year full of hard but valuable lessons. I had to miss out on eight weeks worth of running due to an injury. I spent hours after a marathon in a medical tent hooked up to an IV. I got my bike stolen all because of my laziness. And the list goes on.

There’s no doubt this year can be labeled as an annoying one for me when it comes to running. That said, the lessons I learned are incredibly important ones. And I plan on taking these lessons I’ve learned in 2014 and applying them to 2015.

  1. A foam roller should never stay unused.
  2. Gawker doesn’t understand the importance of bagel sandwiches.
  3. Fuel (and LOTS of it) is the key to avoiding the medical tent after marathons.
  4. Don’t waste anytime getting to a doctor.
  5. Take extra care of my immune system with high mileage.
  6. Never leave my bike locked up outside.
  7. Take time for runs not centered around technology.
  8. Set new goals.
  9. Never leave the house without a water bottle.
  10. Limiting out of town marathons will save me hundreds of dollars.
  11. Spending the extra time for strength exercises is worth it.
  12. Don’t skip long runs.
  13. One of the fundamental components of any training plan is patience.
  14. Don’t be afraid to say ‘yes.’


Happy New Year!


First Impressions

Since moving to Madison, first impressions have been part of my daily routine. Whether it’s a job interview, meeting new friends or greeting a neighbor, it’s hard not to take first impressions seriously.

When I set out for my first few runs in Madison, I knew this was an opportunity for the city streets and trails to welcome me with open arms and prove its worth as a running town. These first few runs were going to set the tone for my experience as a runner here in Madison.

From the several paths lining the lakes to dirt trails in the city’s Arboretum, Madison’s running infrastructure couldn’t have made a better first impression on me.


Even when it snows, the city prioritizes bike paths just as much as they do the roads. I hardly ever find myself running alone along these trails and nearly every single runner that goes by says “hi” or gives a friendly smile.

But the fitness community in Madison goes beyond just runners. Yoga studios have a spot in nearly every corner of this city. When temperatures are in single digits and snow is falling from the sky, runners, bikers, ice skaters and unicyclists are outside with no complaints–only smiles. It seems most residents not only value the importance of exercise but are committed to staying fit all year long.

This positive reinforcement from the rest of the community will be among the main building blocks of my motivation this winter. While I’ve lucked out so far with very little snow in my first month here, I know I’m in for a rude awakening the rest of this winter. And I’ll be looking to the rest of the city to help keep me in shape.

My Madison Scorecard

I’ve decided to breakdown various items of importance to give you a better idea of my first impressions of Madison.

Paved Trails in Madison

First Impression: B+

With several paved trails along numerous lakes, Madison is an ideal spot for running loops ranging anywhere from 4 to 20 miles. In addition, there are several commuter paths that runners can also take advantage of. But none of this matters if these trails aren’t taken care of during the winter time–good thing they are! Madison has a very dedicated biking community, which benefits runners in more ways than one. Some of these benefits include reaping the benefits of clear trails all year long and having well-lit trails even when it’s dark outside.


Dirt Trails in Madison

First Impression: B

Let me be clear, there is nothing close to Rock Creek Park here. Unless I lived in Portland, I’m not sure I’ll ever find something close to Rock Creek Park nestled in a city. With that said, I’m mostly satisfied with the dirt trails here. These trails will be more difficult to enjoy when we get more snow but it has been a mild winter so far and I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the dirt trails in different spots. I still have plenty more dirt trails to explore but here are a few worth noting:

Picnic Point- Hiding along Lake Mendota’s south shore, this local gem is nearly a mile long and offers some incredible views of the city and of nature. I know there’s other gems in/around Madison like this one that I haven’t discovered yet but after exploring this spot I’m more motivated to find what else is out there.


Arboretum- My only hang-up with the arboretum trails is that I can’t take Raven along with me when I choose to run over here. But I understand why. I’ve spotted a fox, several deer and have shared the trails with wild turkeys. There’s no way I’d take Raven out here even if I could just because the abundance of wildlife that’s out on these trails deserve to be undisturbed.

Beer in Madison

First Impression: A+

Beer will always be a very important component of running for me. Luckily, I’m in the right spot. The local craft beer is not only affordable–usually $3 at restaurants–but ridiculously delicious. My favorite so far has been the Amber from the Capital Brewery. And my beer consumption has been good motivation to keep my mileage fairly high even when it’s freezing cold out.


Other Stuff in Madison

First Impression: A

From ordering a veggie burger with fried cheese curds on it to affordable rent prices, my first impression this progressive town full of nature has been a damn good one. I’m not saying this town is perfect, because there’s lots I’d like to see different (I literally  haven’t seen the sun in more than 10 days), but this city feels like home after just one month of living here.

A New Direction

My running routes aren’t the only things that are taking a new direction. I’ve contemplated a direction for this website for a while now and have finally made a decision. I’m going to continue telling my own stories on this domain but also going use this site as a place to tell stories of other runners out there. Once I start rolling out these stories, I’ll look forward to hearing your first impressions of the new direction.

Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!