Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Quest for a Marathon

Today's guest post is brought to you by my friend, running partner and fellow Sole Sister Laura Renn. Next weekend, she tackles her very first 26.2 at the Chicago Marathon. I've had the honor of running with her for some of the training miles and am so very excited for her to cross that finish line next Sunday!

The Quest for a Marathon
By Laura Renn

How it began
A year ago, I ran my very first half marathon race at the IVS Half Marathon on September 11.  I had no idea that I could run long distance before this achievement. Shortly thereafter, I decided that if I could do the half, I could do a full!  I decided to run the 2012 Chicago Marathon last November.  I registered and there lay the seed.  I became injured this past January with an out-of-nowhere calf pain.  I rested for several weeks and was back on track. At the end of April, I ran the Illinois Half Marathon in Champaign and knocked 20 minutes off my first half time! 

Devise the Plan
I was ready for the Marathon challenge now! With the guidance of a good trusted experienced runner, I adopted the Run Less, Run Faster (RLRF) training program.  I had used Hal Higdon in the past, but wanted to be injury free and involve more cross training workouts.  This program lasted 16 weeks and I could do it!  Thank you Jess for the recommendation.  This program involved 3 runs a week (one track, one tempo, and a long run).  The other two days are cross training. 

The Training
I started training in June for the October 7th marathon.  At first, it was easy to train with the RLRF plan.  I lead an active lifestyle and enjoy biking and swimming.  I printed my schedule out and carried it around with me wherever we went all summer.  I checked off the workouts as I completed them.  Week by week.  I am a teacher so I had more free time in the summer to train. I found myself getting up early to run wherever we were during summer vacation.  It was a HOT summer to say the least, but I continued to train despite the heat.  A few times I was forced into an indoor track but tried to run outside to condition my body.  I ran in pouring rain and a storm in Michigan, but it felt so liberating! The school year started back in mid-August, and my training slumped in the cross training area.  As a busy mom and teacher, it was hard to fit it all in, so I fell back to just running.  Here's how my long runs built up over the weeks: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 10, 15, 16, 12, 20, 13, 20, 13, 10.  The high point was reaching the 20 mile runs!  I was amazed to do this mileage and felt so awesome for accomplishing this feat. After the last 20 my high bottomed out and I was struggling to keep motivated.  I had finally reached the end.

My Mojo
Believe it or not, my inspiration is all of you reading this... even if you aren’t a runner!  I get my running mojo from watching and being inspired by others who are achieving their goals. So many people have made me want to reach further and push outside of my comfort zone.  I would not have signed up for this without my Sole Sisters leading us on each week.  Watching Jess, Patty, and Barbara complete their marathons last spring was alluring to me! I wanted that too. Showing up at Sole Sisters each week puts a smile on my face and I am ready to make someone else push to get their goals.  I come to Sole Sisters each week not just for me, but for all of the women who inspire me and yet to inspire. 

My Partners
I did not do this alone. I have running buddies! Several of my Sole Sisters run the same pace as me, so we join together for runs as the miles increased each week.  THANK YOU Heather and Michelle for joining me! We also partnered up for track runs, which was helpful because I don’t like them at all.  Every week for the past four months, I've been running long on the weekend with a variety of my Sole Sisters. Thank the Lord for all of them!  The long runs were tough and running parts of runs with others made them seem like just a few miles.  I love you each and every one of you!

My Family
Yup, they have suffered.  My boyfriend knew better than to plan anything for a weekend without consulting my run schedule.  Everything circled around the long runs... going to bed early the night before and being exhausted the whole next day.  My boyfriend has been a real trooper to put up with all of this and help out with more than his fair share of house and parental duties. I will be glad when it is over.

What I learned 
  • Having a proper fitting hydration belt and enough water is important.  
  • It’s hard to drink out of sprinklers.  
  • Going up another half size in shoes helps blisters.  
  • Body Glide is my best friend.  
  • Don’t drink (alcohol) and run the next day.  
  • Go to bed by ten before a long run or you'll need a bathroom halfway through the run.  
  • You can never have too many waffles, GU, gum, or water breaks on hot days.  
  • A visor is better than a hat to stay cool and keep sun off your face.  
  • New music is vital on long runs.  
  • Don’t start walking after mile 15 or it'll be hard to get your legs running again.  
  • My boyfriend is a saint.  
  • Marathon feet aren’t pretty. 

In conclusion, here are MY MARATHON GOALS...
#1 - Don’t poop your pants in the race. (As Michelle has said and I agree)
#2  - Complete the race 
#3  - Finish in under 5 hours
(Maybe #1 should be don’t die?)
Training is done, so lets roll!  Oct 7th is the big day for reaching my goals. I plan to smile big at the Chicago Marathon finish line!  Good luck to all the other ladies running this race. I applaud you!!

Are you running Chicago Marathon?
Have you run a full marathon before? 
What was the biggest thing you learned from your marathon journey?
Any advice for a first timer?


  1. So excited for your first marathon, Laura! It's been great joining you on your long runs. I wish you the very best. I do like #1 above. :) Have a wonderful time and I will be thinking about you.

  2. I'll be there with my sister for her first marathon. Our goals are the same as yours! Good luck to you!

    This will be my 6th start and 5th marathon finish, God willing. Don't forget to enjoy the experience of Chicago... you only get to do your first once- take it all in! Enjoy your victory lap!

  3. good Luck with your first marathon! It sounds like you are going to do great@!

  4. My daughter and I have created our own marathon "journey" as we too will run Chicago next weekend together. It is my daughter's first marathon and the bonding that training together has created between us is something I never dreamed of being blessed with during my lifetime.

    Good Luck, Laura. I am sure you will do great.

    Susan Renner

  5. Sounds like you have been working hard, and I'm sure it will pay off. Running buddies are the best!! I have 2 and wish I had more! :)


    1. Laura,

      Congratulations!! This is a huge accomplishment for anyone, my advice is this... I ran Chicago 4 years ago and it was my first, take it all in as you go through each section of the race. Do not let your mind talk you out anything, you have already done these long miles so you know you can do it. The crowds are overwhelming but also encouraging at times. Take your time, breathe, run your race and more than anything have fun!! When you come around the last turn and see the finish line trust me you will feel all kinds of emotions and when you cross and receive your medal

    2. This moment is one no one can ever take away from you. If you can run a marathon you can do anything!! Good luck and I wish you the best!

  6. My recommendation for the first marathon is: THINK POSITIVE. Anything can happen during a marathon but no matter what, make the best out of each situation!A positive attitude is as important as a good training. Good luck!!

  7. I loved this! My boyfriend is also a saint. My first marathon is Nov 11th at OBX! My goals are very similar! But my #1 is to not die lol #2 is to NOT go #2 in my pants lol #3 finish strong and with a smile :-)


I appreciate your feedback and comments!