5 Questions You Should Ask Before Using MAF Method Heart Rate Training


5 Questions to Ask Before Using MAF Heart Rate Training | Mom vs. Marathon
Is MAF heart rate training for you?

What is the MAF Method? The idea behind this way of training is that you are building a better aerobic system by using your optimal heart rate as determined by the 180 Method. Yikes, that sounds like a coll

ege biology paper. In normal people terms, you’ll be able to run faster with a lower heart rate.

After my typical over-researching of the MAF Method, and starting it, I realized there are some questions runners should ask themselves before deciding to start training using MAF. (Note: The MAF Method can be used for a number of endurance sports, but since this is a running blog, I’ll focus on how MAF applies to run training.) Okay, here we go:

Do I want to make a long-term commitment to running?

Are you running a one-and-done race? Or are you committed to a lifetime of running and/or racing? Do you just want to cross a race off your bucket list? If so, the MAF Method may not be for you. Sure, it might be more beneficial for you, especially if you are just starting out as a runner, but the time commitment could be overwhelming causing you to give up.

Am I injured?

Injury plays into your max heart rate equation in the MAF Method, as I was reminded by a Facebook friend recently. Your heart rate may be so low that most of your runs will actually be walks. Clearly, if you are injured, you shouldn’t be running. Just remember to be honest with yourself when you are using the MAF heart rate equation. And know that the whole idea is that you are building your aerobic system so that, hopefully, you’ll soon be running (or running faster) at this lower heart rate.

Do I have enough time to do this?

It can take 3-6 months, according to MAF Method coach Phil Maffetone, for your heart-rate training to pay off. Besides that, the MAF Method also means more time running because you need to go slower and still get your desired mileage. For example, I can run 6 miles in an hour at what I consider a comfortable pace, but if I’m following my recommended MAF heart rate (of 137), then I can only run 5 miles in an hour.

Do I have enough patience for MAF training?

Slower running can be boring. Be honest with yourself about this one. I recognize that I’m not a patient person (just ask my husband), but I am committed to the challenge. You will also have to resist the temptation to run with friends, whose heart rates are not the same as yours, and be willing to let people blow by you on the trail (without chasing them down).

Will I follow the MAF Method closely or loosely? (And am I willing to live with the consequences?)

In Phil Maffetone’s books, not only does he give guidelines for MAF heart rate training, but he also recommends a specific way of eating: more veggies, more fat, adequate protein and lower carbs. All whole foods, of course. Cut out processed sugar and wheat especially. If you follow the training methods closely, you will have to be willing to give up bread and sugar completely. I am not willing to do that. Now, I eat according to Metabolic Effect plate, which is similar, but I also practice moderation, and sometimes I eat processed foods, including bread and white sugar.

I tried the diet Mr. Maffetone recommends, and it is not for me. I recognize this and I am willing to live with the consequences of continuing to eat my way while training using MAF heart rate recommendations.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Maffetone discourages specific strength work (i.e. weights) during the initial 3-6 months of MAF training. He recommends just chopping some wood in the back yard. Dude, I have a gas fireplace. I get what he’s saying, though, but I refuse to give up my weights workouts. They are only twice a week and I enjoy them. Also, I like having definition in my arms.

Again, I am willing to live with whatever consequences are caused by heart rate training while doing weights twice a week, as well as eating the occasional whole wheat tortilla. You can pry my tacos from my cold, dead hands.

Hope these questions help you decide whether MAF training is right for you!

Did I miss anything? Have you used the MAF Method for run training?


Resources for you:

How to figure out your MAF training heart rate with Phil Maffetone’s 180 Formula.

Find out how to do the MAF Test.

Read about Miss Zippy’s experience with MAF training.

Why there’s no specific MAF training program.

Read more about my Metabolic Effect way of eating. (I’m a Sugar Burner.)

Learn more about a few weights workouts I like:

What Starting the MAF Method Feels Like

What Starting with MAF Method Feels Like | Mom vs. MarathonI’ve done two MAF runs. I have another today. I’ve been good about keeping my heart rate under 137–walking when it goes above that.

But I took yesterday off because I didn’t have a good night’s sleep (Phil Maffetone wants you to sleep well), and I also had a crown replaced (unfortunately not the kind encrusted with diamonds). Oh, and my arms were killing me because I used the hedge trimmer Monday. Hedge trimmer workout. New DVD coming soon!

My body just said no to exercise. But I did get two hours of reading done. BTW The Girl on the Train is a total page-turner.

I have another MAF run today, and it’s like NBD because they’re so easy. In fact, I felt all relaxed after my run on Monday. The only thing about MAF is…


It feels like I’ve never run before. Like I haven’t finished two marathons or run a bunch of half marathons (I don’t keep track–is that weird?).

It feels like crawling. Not just because I’m going so slow, but also because of how babies learn. You know, you gotta crawl before you can walk.

It feels overwhelming. Like I have this huge mountain to climb and I’m down in the valley looking up and thinking, Why am I doing this again?

Sometimes I think this whole running thing is kind of dumb. What is the point? Do I need a point? What if I didn’t run? What if I just worked out? What if I didn’t have a PR goal? What if I just gave up races?

Hmmm. Guess I’ll think about all that on my run today.


Photo credit: Kleine Scheidegg hiking trails via photopin (license)

10 New Things: MAF Method, Your Advice and More

1. I turned 38 on Saturday. I discovered I have mixed emotions about birthdays, and spent more of the day crying than I really want to admit. But I value honesty and so there it is.

10 New Things | Mom vs. Marathon
My son scored the one and only goal in his soccer game. Pretty great birthday present! (PS: Like my new WSU track hat?)

2. I went to a tattoo parlor on Saturday! I’ve been wanting to get a tattoo for a year or so now, and just couldn’t decide what to get. But lately I’m also realizing that indecision is one of my biggest problems. Indecision is safe. But if I stay in indecision, I’ll never move forward, which leads me to my next decision… (BTW, I paid for and scheduled my tattoo–Oct. 6.)

3. I’m going to give the MAF Method a go. In case you don’t know what the MAF method is, go to Miss Zippy’s section on her MAF training to learn more, or visit Phil Maffetone’s website. Basically, it’s heart-rate training. I’m going to give it three months. I’ve done some research on it and I really like the philosophy. Besides, I never do proper base training. I think it will benefit me in the long run. The only thing is…I’m not going to avoid strength training, as Phil Maffetone wants you to do (because it could hinder your heart-rate training, he says). I refuse to not do things I like to do–especially things that are good for me. So there.

4. Practicing patience. For someone who is so indecisive, I’m also impatient. So the MAF Method will require me to really work on patience. I ran using heart rate on Sunday and it took me and hour to go 5 miles. My pace average 12:07. I kept my heart rate at or below 137–sometimes having to walk to lower it. Speaking of patience…

10 New Things | Mom vs. Marathon

5. We are getting another boxer. Yep, a new puppy! Karsen named her Chloe and we pick her up next weekend in Oregon. (Her registered name is Hi Desert N Mephisto’s Diamond Stiletto–isn’t that fabulous?) It’s going to be a long drive there, but a longer drive back stopping for Miss Chloe to go potty every once and a while. We haven’t had a puppy in the house in about four years, I think. But I can’t wait to bring her home.

6. The following weekend, I’m running a half marathon–the Snohomish River Run. (If you’re thinking of entering use my code: MOMVSMARATHON to save 10 percent. There’s a 10K, too. The course is flat and fast, total PR potential.) The shirt deadline is Oct. 1, so sign up before then! I haven’t decided (big surprise) whether or not I want to try to keep my heart rate under 137 for the race. I’m not really trained to run a fast half, and I’m still experiencing some difficulties in my left calf and arch, so if I’m smart, I’ll take it slow.

7. I need new running capris and/or tights. I have two pairs of Lululemon capris that give me some serious chafing in the crotch-al region. I cried in the shower yesterday. I shouldn’t get chafed after an hour of running. I guess their seams aren’t as flat as they like to think. What brand/style of capri or tight do you recommend?

8. I’m canceling my gym membership. I loved going there and lifting heavy, but my focus has changed. I can accomplish the strength work I want to accomplish at home–lifting heavy dumbbells for now. I will get myself a barbell and some kettlebells, too. I will clean and organize the garage and make a space in there for working out. I’d just rather work out at home. Do you lift at home? What equipment should I get first?

9. Spartan Race. They now have a Spartan Race in Seattle! (It’s a Spartan Super, which is a middle distance race of 8-10 miles, instead of the 3-5 mile sprint.) It’s coming up Oct. 17. There will also be one in April next year! I’m going to have to seriously consider it. But you have to be in shape for these things! Eek! Have you ever done a Spartan Race? I love their whole philosophy, and am enjoying listening to their Spartan Up podcast. Also, I’m now part of their affiliate program. If you sign up using this Spartan Race link right here, then I get a commission. I write this blog for free, so signing up through my link would be very kind of you.

10. On a completely opposite note: I signed up for Stitch Fix! I’m excited to see how that goes. I can always cancel if I don’t like it, but I need help. I’m wearing a running shirt and jeans today. If you think you want to sign up, please use my link–I get a little credit for it, I guess. Thanks!

Well, I think that’s it. What’s going on with you?

Snohomish River Run Discount Code

Snohomish River Run Discount Code | Mom vs. Marathon
My PR 2011 half marathon was also flat and fast!

Looking for a flat half marathon or 10K PR course?

The Snohomish River Run is your race. But it’s coming up on Oct. 11, so get registering! (Heads up: Price increase on 10/6/15.)

Use the discount code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% off of your Snohomish River Run registration. When you go to the website, don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to keep you up to date on race stuff, like bling, and you just might see an email from moi!

Hope to see you at the Snohomish River Run in less than THREE WEEKS!


Do I Need a Running Coach?

Do I Need a Running Coach | Mom vs. Marathon

How far in advance do you plan your races?

I like to “sketch” them in about a year in advance, but it never ever goes the way I plan. I usually end up adjusting things every couple of months.

So, yeah, I planned my next goal before I ran the marathon last weekend. Planning my next adventure before I’ve done my current one helps me avoid the post-race blues. Since I already had something to look forward to, I wasn’t sad when the marathon journey was over!

My next goal is not a marathon. I am signed up to do another marathon, however, but it’s not until June. I registered for the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon last month when it was like $60. I’m such a sucker for a cheap marathon!

I have not quite decided if I will run the full or downgrade to the half. Part of me wants to run 26.2 again. I want to see if I can do better. But part of my just wants to leave it alone.

It’s just that I feel the need for some marathon redemption. But not against the distance; against myself. Does that make sense?

Here are the reasons why I think I didn’t do as well as I could have at Beat the Blerch:

  • My training was not consistent. Afraid of injuring myself, I cut back my weekly mileage rather drastically. The plan I was using relied on weekly mileage, which is why my long run was only 18 miles—it was supposed to be about the accumulation of miles throughout the week. Consistency in running is huge. Whatever you do, be consistent.
  • My heart and mind weren’t in the race. I had sort of given up on the distance during the middle of my training, and then by the time I got back on board, it was too late to make up lost runs.
  • I underestimated the gravel trail. Out of my control, but I didn’t mentally plan for it to be a factor.
  • I underestimated a 9-mile long incline, even if it was only slightly inclined. Again, out of my control, but I should’ve mentally planned for it.
  • I got plantar fasciitis from running in too-small shoes (I think from trying the Hokas), and was trying to rest my foot. (See first bullet point.) Rookie mistake. I should know better.
  • I spoke negatively about the distance a lot. I wasn’t as positive as I should have been.

Besides inconsistency (which really is also a mental thing), the biggest factor in my race outcome was my mind. I recently heard about a book coming out called The Runner’s Brain by Dr. Jeff Brown. Listening to an interview with Dr. Brown, I realized that my brain wasn’t trained for the marathon. If I really had wanted to beat my time from my first marathon, I should’ve been more mentally prepared.

I’m not disappointed in my marathon at all. I didn’t deserve to PR. I didn’t do the work. I didn’t have the right attitude. I finished. And that’s all I was trained for. J

I do have a half marathon coming up on Oct. 11–the Snohomish River Run! But I plan to take it easy.

Now, for my next big adventure…

Do I Need a Running Coach | Mom vs. Marathon

I sat down with my Believe Training Journal the week before the marathon and thought about what I really want.

  1. I want to be fit.
  2. I want to be fast.
  3. I want to have fun.

As we have seen, the marathon distance does not help me achieve any of those things. LOL

What sort of distance aligns with my wants? The 5K, of course!

  • Here’s my goal: PR in the 5K. (My PR now is 23:45.)
  • Here’s my “Can I?” goal: Break 21:00 in the 5K. (My PR from high school.)
  • Here’s my “Scary” goal: Break 20:00 in the 5K!

The good news is that I love the 5K distance—takes me back to my cross country days, which I didn’t love at the time, but that I now look back at fondly.

5Ks are hard if you race them. And I also love that. I just went back and read my recap of the See Jane Run 5K I raced with Kim in 2014. It made me excited to race again.

These are big goals. PRing in a shorter distance takes work. But training for the distance is more manageable with work, family and other hobbies, like blogging.

I think I could reach my first goal on my own, but my other two goals are lofty and I don’t know that I could do it alone. So…

I might be in the market for a running coach. Have you ever hired a running coach? How would I go about finding one?

I’d be looking for three things in a coach:

  • Someone who believes in strength training (because I love strength training and I really want to incorporate it into my running better than I’ve been able to do by myself).
  • Someone who understands I can’t run more than four days a week. Because injuries.
  • Someone who is affordable! (This may mean they coach virtually over the Internets.)

Do you know someone? Hook me up!

Beat the Blerch Marathon 2015 Recap: Part II

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon

Yesterday, I shared everything leading up to the race. Today, like a less-fun female version of a Bruno Mars, I’ll break it down.

The Plan

  • Pace: Run 5 minutes (trying to keep my pace at or under 11-minute miles) and walk 30 seconds for at least the first half of the race, just as Zoe and I had done in 2011 when it worked great.
  • Nutrition: Eat a Clif Bar around miles 5, 10, 15 and 20. I did this during my 18-miler and it worked great. Admittedly, looking at this now, it looks disgusting. That’s just a lot of Clif Bars. Plus, two 20-ounce bottles of Nuun in the front of my pack and 20-ounces of water in the back to help balance the weight and just in case I wanted plain water.
  • Music: Play it by ear. Hahahaha. I had my regular fast-paced playlist with songs by people like Mr. Mars and Pitbull, yes Pitbull, and a playlist that was mostly Elton John and Billy Joel songs. I also had my Iron War audio book ready, too.

What Actually Happened

(Pictured at top.) After a short countdown, the marathoners took off. I did my typical joke about being tired and done at about 200 yards into the race. Gotta say, not a lot of laughs. This joke usually kills. Got a dud crowd. Actually, I think most people already had their headphones in and were ready to get down to business. (And also pretty sure that joke is old.)

I ran behind a lady dressed as a pile of spaghetti and meatballs. She was doing it right. (You can juuuuuust make her out in the picture at the top of the page–she’s right under the arch on the left.)

Mile 1: 10:38

The first mile began on a winding asphalt path through a wetland area of Tolt-MacDonald Park for about a half mile. It was still foggy and cool, but I was comfortable in my short-sleeved shirt. I met a runner who was there from Dallas (she’s also pictured in the photo above, in a green visor and plaid skirt). We chatted on and off.

We then crossed a road and went under a bridge to enter a trail running alongside the Tolt River that was “paved” with large golf ball-sized gravel. Most of us tried to run off the side in a single track of packed mud because it was softer and didn’t offer as many chances to roll your ankle in the first mile of a marathon.

I didn’t have my watch set to actual pace, just lap pace. But it felt easy. I left my headphones out so I could enjoy the quiet.

Mile 2: 10:41

The view of the Tolt River with the sun peeking through the fog was beautiful. I should stop and take a picture. Hmmm, but then I’d have to get my phone out and everything and that seems like a lot of work.

We quickly joined the Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Remlinger Farms. Marathoners (we were the only ones running yet) were directed left, or north. The trail is hard packed dirt and light loose gravel—like what I run on at home. I knew this going into the race as I ran the Mt. Si Relay in 2012.

The Dallas runner asked if she could join me in my run/walk. I said sure. I told her I was running 5 minutes and walking 30 seconds, and just trying to keep my pace under 11s. “Finish time?” she asked. “No idea,” I said. I really didn’t know and I didn’t want to give myself a finish time, but in my heart I thought I should beat 4:45 since that was my first marathon and since now I’m so much smarter.

Mile 3: 10:35

I chatted a little with the Dallas runner. (I asked her name after the race, but I was a little out of it and forgot!) I wasn’t feeling as talkative as I normally am, however. We cheered for some of the leaders as it became clear this was a short out and back.

Two women, a first-time marathoner and an older (and by older I just mean older than me) runner, were in front of us. I heard the “older” woman say that she’d run 134 marathons. That’s ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR. Also, she was one of the people who did the pudding eating contest pre-race. She’s my hero.

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
The dude in the middle won.

We then caught up with another pair of women also run-walking using a 9 minute run-1 minute walk ratio. The Dallas runner decided to stay with them. We turned around sometime during Mile 3, I believe.


Mile 4: 10:16

I was still enjoying myself. I still didn’t need headphones. We were in nature. It was misty. It smelled like fall. I saw a lady out for a run with her boxer.

Mile 5: 10:45

During Mile 5, we arrived back at the place where we originally joined the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and a volunteer sent us left (east) off of the “main drag” for “a really short out and back.” She said, “I’ll see you soon!” I broke out my first Clif Bar.

I ran “with” two guys about my age and with an older man in a Marathon Maniacs shirt, who was in front of us. We ran along the Tolt River for a bit till we all slowed. Up ahead, we could see a fork in the trail. “Is this the turn around?” somebody asked. But as we got closer I pointed out a tiny yellow spray-painted looping arrow. “Uh, I guess so,” I answered.

As we ran back, one guy said, “Good thing you were there, I might’ve kept running. Would’ve made for a long marathon!” We all laughed. Everyone was in a great mood.

I choked down my Clif Bar. I saw the experienced looking couple from the start line (mentioned in yesterday’s post) and felt like they should’ve been in front of me, not behind me.

Mile 6: 10:54

The volunteer directed us left again (now south) and onto the gravelly Snoqualmie Valley Trail again, which we would follow on a slight incline for the next approximately 9 miles, although I didn’t know how far it would be at the time. But I sort of suspected that’s how it went.

I ran “with” the same couple of guys for a while. We’d separate and then regroup since we all were doing some sort of run/walk.

One guy I was behind for way too long was wearing a loose-fitting pack that two folded trekking poles tied to the back of it. It bounced more than Pamela Anderson’s chest on Baywatch. This guy’s pack drove me nuts. I’m assuming he didn’t know much about the trail or he would’ve left those poles in the car. I decided to put on my upbeat tunes.

Mile 7: 11:23

Just after I put music in, we came to the first big water stop that was “Blerched” out complete with couches, a Blerch inviting us all to sit down, “It’s not like you’re going to podium.” Haha!

There was cake, Nutella sandwiches and the purple stuff (very watered down Gatorade). Me and trekking-poles-guy sat down with a Blerch. I regret not getting a picture. One of the volunteers took one, but not sure I’ll ever see it. I had a Nutella sandwich (really a quarter of a full sandwich) and then moved on, high-fiving Sasquatch on my way up the trail.

Really, I just wanted to not be behind trekking-poles-guy anymore. The bouncing pack was getting to me. Also whenever I tried to pass him, it felt like he would speed up, and I didn’t want to have a full-out sprint to just get a few strides ahead.

Mile 8: 10:56

Still clocking in under 11s and doing the 5 minute walk, 30 second run. I had some small rocks in my shoes, but they didn’t bother me enough to stop and shake them out. Also, had to pee.

Mile 9: 11:00

Sort of a blur. I know got out my second Clif Bar late in this mile because I started to feel hungry. I ate ¾ of it and then didn’t want anything to do with the rest of it. This also might be where I debated using a porta-potty, but didn’t want to go that early on. I only wanted to go once if I could help it—like in 2011.

Mile 10: 11:27

Also a blur. I think I maybe had Gatorade at a small water stop.

Mile 11: 12:48

Who knows? Maybe I saw the half marathon leaders coming back? I forget. I think this is where I saw a Blerched-out water stop and a porta-potty. I’d had to go pee since Mile 8, so I finally stopped.

Mile 12: 11:04

I noticed my left foot was starting to hurt—the arch and my inner ankle. It seemed a little early for this nonsense. I felt like I’d gone farther before experiencing any pain. Then again, I hadn’t run 12 miles completely on gravel before. Also, I knew the slight uphill was probably not helping.

Mile 13: 11:18

I think this was right around where the half marathon turn-around was. I was super jealous. I’d made a deal with myself that I’d switch my walk breaks to 1 minute at the half, so I did. Note to self: Do that the other way around next time. Oh, shoot. I said “next time”!

Mile 14: 11:38

Lonely. I didn’t see anyone and was, in fact, alone with other runners being either around curves ahead or behind me. But I was running in a pretty forest. I reminded myself I was strong. I reminded myself that I’d decided to think of the race as some nice “alone time.”

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon

This could be also be where the gunshots started. There’s a shooting range down in the valley below the trail, which I only knew about because of the Mt. Si Relay—my leg had been here. I can imagine if you didn’t know about the shooting range, it’d be a little startling.

I still was mostly alone. I think I may have started seeing some of the marathon leaders coming back and cheered for them. AND most of the race leaders took the time to smile and give me an encouraging word, too. Marathoners are the nicest.

Mile 15: 12:57

I got out a Clif Bar. I took one nibble off a corner. Nope.

Also, my music was annoying. I turned it off. I started to see more people coming back. Everyone smiled and cheered each other on. I got a “You got this, girl” from one woman. A woman I’d met pre-race let me know the turn-around was coming up. Hallelujah.

I came upon a big water stop and I threw away my uneaten Clif Bar. Just about a ¼ mile after the stop was the turn around. The forest was more dense and it was beautiful.

I got back to the big stop. I was hungry. They had bananas! Oh happy day! Bananas actually sounded good to me. They were split in halves in small paper cups. One of the volunteers offered me a whole one, but I said I probably wouldn’t be able to peel it. I should’ve taken one and put it in my pack. They also had couches. I should’ve stopped and emptied my shoes. Instead I hovered around the banana table. I inhaled a total of 1-1/2 bananas out of cups.

Part of me just wanted to sit down and stay there. The other part of me was eager to go downhill…and toward the finish.

Mile 16: 12:58

I was excited to be on my way back. But, really, this mile is a blur. Still running 5 minutes, but my walk break was a little longer, I think.

Mile 17: 11:42

The banana and the Gatorade kicked in and I felt like a new woman. Whee!

Mile 18: 12:25

Well, that didn’t last long at all. Still running 5 minutes and walking a minute, but I would cheat a little and walk longer sometimes. I cheered on those not yet at the turnaround.

The experienced looking couple (from the start line), that I had been surprised to see behind me during Mile 5, freaking flew by me leaving me in their dust. Clearly, they were experienced and had taken things extra easy till the turn-around point. Smart, smart people.

Mile 19: 13:44

I felt…not great, but I can’t exactly pinpoint what didn’t feel good. My joints? Each walk break, I cheated a little more, walking longer than a minute. A dude I hadn’t seen before passed me and said, “We’ve got this.” We leap-frogged each other with our run-walk ratios being different. But my mind was starting to spiral down a black hole of negativity.

Mile 20: 12:27

Everything hurts and I’m dying. I think it was around this time that I realized I was not going to beat my first marathon time. I’d thought I could at least get the same time, but reality was setting in. My thoughts were starting get more negative, but I tried to fight it. I turned on Iron War and then turned it off a couple of minutes later. I wanted silence.

Mile 21: 13:30

I was mostly alone again. People were either a ways up ahead or a ways back. Why do my hips hurt so bad? What am I doing? Why am I out here? I’m missing Karsen’s soccer game. I miss my family.

My eyes filled with tears and I started to cry. I pulled my hat down low in front of my face just in case anyone came from the other direction. I walked a little longer till about 21.5 miles. I fought the negative thoughts. Get it together. Just make it to Mile 22. In my head I sang, “Mile 22, Mile 22, Mile 22” over and over again.

Mile 22: 12:38

I made it to Mile 22. Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed with the fact that I still had 4.2 miles left and that it’d probably take me an hour to do it. I was out of Nuun. I put on my Elton John-Billy Joel playlist, which helped…a little.

Mile 23: 14:39

Oh, hello Wall. We finally meet. I’ve never experienced The Wall. This was my first time. This is not fun anymore. I want to be done. right. now.

I’d run a little, then decide it was too hard and walk. Then decide walking hurt way worse than running, so I’d run, but then decide it was too hard and walk again.

Finally, a water stop. But no bananas. I asked for anything salty–why didn’t I bring anything salty? Oh yeah, because I thought I’d be eating my Clif Bars and they had plenty of sodium in them. Except the idea of eating a Clif Bar made me want to vomit. A volunteer had a bag of large pretzel sticks and she gave me a handful. I also had some Gatorade.

It was sunny and warm now; the trail was out of the trees, so the shade was spottier. There were half marathoners walking. I heard text notifications, but didn’t have the energy to check them.

Mile 24: 14:18

The pretzel sticks and Gatorade helped a little. I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…barely. If only I didn’t hurt so bad. I ran when I could muster up the strength and walk till I couldn’t stand the pain in my hips. Also, I think I was walking funny—like a cartoon cowboy who just got off a horse.

The course was mostly in the sun now, but it didn’t bother me that much. I was already in a world of hurt. A couple of walking half marathoners gave me some encouragement. But I was so low, I could barely acknowledge them.

Mile 25: 14:26

Walk. Ouch. Run. Oof. Walk. Ouch. Run. Oof. I started making deals with myself. Run to there, then walk. Walk to there, then run. But as I got to the end of 25, I could taste the finish line and I wanted to be done so badly that I just willed myself to run more.

Mile 26: 11:08

Get out of my way! I started running and I wasn’t going to stop till I was done with this thing. As I came to the point of the trail where I would turn and go back down toward the river, the volunteer told me I looked great. I wanted to respond, “Liar!” But I just squeaked, “Thanks.”

Unfortunately this section meant those huge golf ball-sized gravel rocks and there were a lot of half marathoners who were walking on the nice soft single track on the side. So, I’d run on the side when I could and then have to pass on the rocks and, dude, that hurt pretty bad. But I needed to be done. Like now. Like an hour ago, actually.

.2: 10:55

Almost there. Almost there. I made it to the paved path, which felt a lot better on my feet after about 25 miles on gravel. Even with my Franken-shoes, the gravel was brutal.

I curved through the wetland. Where is the finish? Where is the finish? I can hear the finish! I was mostly alone, just passing some walking half marathoners here and there. A woman sat on split-rail fence near the finish with a sign that said “You are awesome.” SHE is awesome.

Then, as I was getting closer to the finish line, there was a woman walk-running in front of me in like a medieval wench costume or something. I do not want that crazy costume in my finish line photo, I thought, and I ran faster, passing her.

Finally I was almost to the finish line and up ahead I saw a green sequin skirt and people cheering. It was my friend Tiffany, who’d run the half, and her family, and a friend, who ran the 10K. I was so surprised! I tried to hug Tiffany and run at the same time. Then I thought, What am I doing? I need to finish so I can stop running!

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
I call this one “smiling through the pain.”
Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
How about this one? Can you feel the pain in this photo?


I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and started to make an ugly cry face as the volunteer put the medal around my neck. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Yeah,” I sobbed. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” I pulled it together to give hugs to Tiff’s family.

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon

Side note: I cannot believe they waited for me. It had to be a long time. Tiffany’s husband Will ran over and got me some electrolytes, which was so nice since I couldn’t walk very fast. And then their son told me all about the antics that happened around the finish line (long story short: a woman puked and then later a photographer sat in it). His retelling of the story made me laugh and was just what I needed. Big thanks to them!

Time: It took me 5 hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds to run this marathon, officially. I started running at about 8:15 a.m. and didn’t finish till approx. 1:30 p.m. I didn’t know, but Tiffany had been worried and had messaged my husband even to see if he knew anything.

Thoughts: At first, I was like I hate marathons. I’m never doing this again. Seriously. They are dumb. But I realize that was the pain talking. The thing about marathons that I realized is, it isn’t about the race at all, really. It’s about after the race when you look back and reflect and you think, I can’t believe I did that. That’s a long way. And you think about all the hard things that happened, like my last few miles, and you’re so proud of yourself for enduring the pain and finishing.

Despite all the pain I felt at the end and later in the day (really sore hips and knee joints), the very next day, I felt pretty good. My quads were sore, but that’s a given. Two days after and I seriously felt great. I couldn’t believe it. Just a little sore in the quads and that’s all. My foot wasn’t even sore! Three days later and almost back to normal. It’s incredible. I thought I’d be sore for a week!

I’d already planned to take a week off of running and I’m sticking with it. I have a couple blisters that are healing, too. Can’t wait till next week when I can start on my next running journey…. although I’m still not quite sure what it will be now.

Thanks for reading! (You should get a medal if you made it to the end.)

Beat the Blerch Marathon 2015 Recap Part I

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
I think it really had Nutella in it.

I’m having trouble with where to start this post. So, I guess, just like running, I’ll put one word in front of the other and see where it takes me.

My second marathon did not go exactly how I thought it would go. My first marathon was so fantastic. I felt strong. I had lots of energy. I was positive. I didn’t want it to end. This one was different.

I thought I would be faster because I’m older, wiser, and I’ve been running longer. Apparently, I’m slower…and dumber. This marathon seemed to go on and on. It was a loooooong day. I guess, I’ll start at the beginning.

6:00 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 12

After whispering goodbye to my husband, I slipped into my son’s room and kissed his head. He’d been disappointed last night that I would miss his first soccer game of the season. I felt a little bad, but I’ve been at all of them, and all the practices. Moms have lives, too.

6:15 a.m.

On my way! It wasn’t quite light yet, but not too dark. It didn’t seem too cold out either. I listened to College Gameday on XM. I just needed something to distract me. I didn’t really feel nervous, but I felt like maybe I was on the edge of it.

6:45 a.m.

It was so foggy in Fall City, I had trouble navigating the roads to the start. I kept annoying people behind me because I had to slow down near road signs since I couldn’t see them until I was right on them. Why am I always in the front of the line of traffic when I’m somewhere I’m not familiar with?!

7:00 a.m.

Arrived and parked in a lot about a half mile from the start according to Google Maps. I hung out in my car for a little bit as did several other runners who were there too early.

7:10 a.m.

Walked to the start area. This isn’t too bad of a walk. They were just putting up the start/finish arch, and there weren’t too many people around. There were about 50 porta-potties all lined up like soldiers. They were nice, too, with a hook to hang your bag (the check bag I brought) and toilet seat covers. You know you’re a runner when you get impressed by portable toilets.

7:15 a.m.

I picked up my race packet, then wandered over the Temptation and Relaxation Combination Activation Station. Or, it was something like that. Who cares what it was called when there were huge bean bag chairs just begging you to lounge in them. Lounge, I did. I also chatted with other runners in the tent.

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
I loved the relaxation tent before the race.

A TV show was on to keep your mind off things. Along one “wall,” there was a banquet table stocked with junk food, and in front there was a guy in green velvet shirt passing out pre-race treats: marshmallows drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with whipped cream and bacon. (Actually pretty good.)

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
Marshmallow, chocolate, whipped cream and bacon. I liked it.

I also watched a pudding eating contest. Beat the Blerch has the most fun pre-race activities.

Oh, and as I was just standing there, in walks Mr. The Oatmeal himself, Matthew Inman. I took a picture because I have no shame.

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
The Oatmeal himself, plus Guy in Green Velvet Shirt.

7:45 a.m.

I decided I better put my bib on, go potty one more time, re-tie my shoes, check my bag…and all that stuff.

8:00 a.m.

I got my picture with a giant tub of Nutella. Bucket list item. Check. I did a few warm up moves, but mostly just milled about near the start. I asked an experienced looking couple to take my picture at the start. I did the same for them.

Beat the Blerch Marathon Recap | Mom vs. Marathon
I was surprised by how many people didn’t carry their own food or water. Now that I’ve run it, I realize there are plenty of aid stations if you’re not picky about what you eat or drink. For me, having my vest was like a safety blanket. Plus, I can carry chapstick and my phone.

8:15 a.m.

The DJ gave a short speech about playing a most revered pre-race song. We all waited silently, and then laughed when the chanting from the Lion King Circle of Life song came over the speakers. Next, it was a quick count down and we were off. Cue my favorite marathon video of all time:

I’m really doing it!

This is where things really start, but I will save that for my next post because, much like the race, it is long.