what i learned from marathon training

In 3 short weeks, I will be at the starting line of the Chicago Marathon. This past Saturday (prior to enjoying my wonderful pumpkin pie concrete from Doozle's), I ran my final 20 mile training run. Not going to lie... it went AMAZINGLY! I couldn't possibly be happier with how my training has gone the past 15 weeks. After training for + running my first marathon 2.5 years ago, I swore up + down that I would never do another one. My long runs were tortuously long, I trained through the very cold + snowy St. Louis winter season, I overtrained myself by teaching fitness classes in addition to my training runs, and a month prior to the race, I was diagnosed with Morton's neuromas in my feet that really made training even harder.

After that experience, I was determined to make this training better and, if possible, injury free. Here are the things I have done differently/learned from training for the Chicago Marathon:

1. LISTEN to your body! This has always been so hard for me. I am addicted to working out, whether it is running, weight lifting, or yoga. I just love it + it makes me feel good. But, your body NEEDS rest. I dedicated Fridays before long runs "off" days... I only did 20 minutes of yoga in the morning and that was it for the day. It gave my muscles a good stretch and gave my legs a much needed rest leading up to a long run. My body was much appreciative of the needed rest.

2. Yoga. I think I am officially becoming a yogi. I have fallen in love with it! The stretching + strengthening it provides is great for runners, and it just gives me a feeling of peace for the rest of the day. I have only been doing 20 Minute Yoga Sessions on my own, but it is the perfect amount of time and is still challenging.

3. Recovery Runs. Now, this might not be for everyone, but I have found it really works for me. The day after my long run, I would do a very easy long-ish run (5-8 miles). For most of these, I would run 8 minutes and walk 2 minutes for the entire distance. This really helped get the blood flow in my alread sore muscles, and I think it really helped take away some of the added soreness. Weird and counter intuitive, I know, but I really think it helped.

4. Proper Fuel. Not gonna lie, I count calories. I'm not proud of it, but it works for me and keeps me accountable. (Oh yeah, that running addiction might have something to do with the food addiction too.) And it honestly doesn't bother me to do it. I'm pretty relaxed about it and don't get upset if I "go over" my calories, since there are definitely days I don't get enough calories in me. Along these lines, I always try to make sure I have close to the number of calories I need to fuel my runs. Food = fuel. This includes "overeating" the day before a long run in attempt to keep my glycogen stores up. I also have gotten a lot better about fueling during my runs, bringing Gatorade + pitted dates along with me on my long runs. It really worked for me... plus, eating a very healthy, plant-based diet has really improved my running.

5. Speed Work. Confession: I don't like running marathons. Shocking, I know. I am a 5K + 10K runner in reality. I love running fast. I hate being passed + I love to chase people down. Marathons definitely are not something you can do this with. So, I decided to add some 400m + 800m repeats and tempo runs on Wednesdays instead of doing another long-ish, steady-state run. If you follow my training on Daily Mile, you will notice my times have dropped on my long runs, including my 2nd 20 miler. This has totally increased my confidence that I can achieve a Boston qualifying time in Chicago.

I truly believe in my training and I feel completely prepared to tackle Chicago in October. Although I really believe these things worked for me, they might not be for you. But, it never hurts to change things up a bit!

In addition, here are some other running blogs that keep me inspired to reach my goals while maintaining a healthy diet. (Another confession: I am totally addicted to food/running blogs. If you have any interest, check these out!)

The Front Burner - 5 time marathon finisher and vegetarian chef
No Meat Athlete - ultrarunner fueling on vegetarian + vegan food
Healthy Tipping Point - runner + creator of Operation Beautiful
Meals and Miles - runner training for Chicago
Beneath It All - another runner training for Chicago


a pumpkin doozie

You know it’s the beginning of fall when the local custard stands start serving pumpkin pie concretes!  As The Concrete Runner, I feel it is my duty to not only taste every custard I come across, but to also revisit those places which serve pumpkin pie concretes!  [And yes, you are welcome! ;o)]

We had originally decided to go to Silky’s first last night, but upon walking up to the window, we noticed that their “seasonal” was not pumpkin but cinnamon streusel [which does sound amazing in its own right, but we were on a pumpkin mission].  So, we decided to head to one place I was positive was already serving pumpkin pie…


Doozle’s!  [You can read about our first visit here.]



A little refresher course, Doozle’s frozen custard is soft serve, as in it comes out of the machine and you can swirl it in a cone.  Not my ideal of frozen custard, but theirs is pretty rich + creamy still.

There are actually 3 different types of pumpkin concretes you can find:

1.  A slice of pumpkin pie actually blended in with the frozen custard.
2.  Canned pumpkin pie mixed in with the frozen custard.
3.  A pumpkin oatmeal pie [think Little Debbie] blended in with the frozen custard.

Doozle’s is of the first variety, an actual slice of pumpkin pie blended up concrete style.  Now, I must admit, I am not a big pie person, let alone pumpkin pie.  Oh yes, I LOVE pumpkin, but there is something about crust that I’m just not a big fan of.

However, blend it up with some vanilla frozen custard… now, you’re talkin’!


Oh, and it was just fabulous!  I actually found a big, ol’ piece of the pie crust with a little bit of pumpkin left on it in the middle of my concrete.  Nom nom nom…

It was definitely good, and I would definitely go back again for that specific concrete again.  But, of course it is only the first stop on our “Pumpkin Frozen Custard Tour”…

[Oh, and if you were wondering what the Hubs got… he went with the pecan crunch this time.  AWE-some!  You know how I feel about nuts in my custard, and their pecans were actually really good!  Not too salty and had the perfect crunch to them… plus a little caramel + hard shell chocolate always make everything better!]


I ran my last 20 miler before the marathon this weekend and will be doing a post about what I have learned from my training as I go into taper-mode for the Chicago Marathon!  Only 3 weeks away…


weekend of showers

Of 3 different types…

#1 – Baby Shower

Missy is preggers with a baby girl + is due October 21.  (Although, I think she should go a day early so the baby shares a birthday with me… and her birthday will be 10.20.2010.)  Isn’t she adorable?!  And hello, Coach diaper bag?!  Yes please…


#2 – Bridal Shower/Bachelorette Party

My best friend Kristin who I have known since we were 1 is getting married in October!  This entire weekend was devoted to celebrating her upcoming nuptials.

Saturday was the bachelorette party at Sugar Creek Winery in Augusta, followed by dinner + dessert at Cyrano’s in Webster Groves.  We had a wonderful time, and it was so nice to catch up with some high school friends I haven’t seen in ages!  And the bride, of course, had a LOT of fun. ;o)100_2866100_2869100_2882





Sunday was the neighborhood bridal shower put on by the mom’s (who were also invited to the bachelorette party, so they had a very busy weekend).  Kristin + Craig got a ton of wonderful gifts, and of course we had great food!  I love this girl so much and am so excited to be part of her special day!



#3 – Rain Showers

I had a 12 mile long run scheduled for Saturday, and was so worried that I was going to wake up to pouring down rain.  And with such a busy weekend planned, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to get my run in a different day.  Luckily, I woke up to clouds and no rain… although I did get some sprinkles from wind through the trees!

Overall, it was another great run (I really don’t have too many bad runs).  And officially marked 1 month until the Chicago Marathon!  I am feeling really hopeful about it.  I have added some speed training in on Wednesdays, instead of doing a longer mid-week run, which has really helped keep my pace right around 8:00 per mile.  Running 7:51/mile will put me at 3:25:00 for the marathon, which I think I might be able to keep that pace up.  Right now, I am running at a comfortable pace with 8:00-8:20 per mile, so I think that is completely feasible…

October is definitely going to be a busy + exciting month!  Stayed posted for some pumpkin ‘cretes coming up soon!  Oooh, and probably some pumpkin beer too! ;o)   


just another day in paradise

It's only Saturday of a 3-day weekend and already it has been epic! Started off with some awesome phone calls on Thursday and led into a very stress-free + successful Friday with a night out at the Rascal's game (the local minor league baseball team) with our friends Bob + Michelle.

Saw an old friend too! My former boss + friend Kevin is the Athletic Trainer for the team right now. It was nice to see him, even though he was a little too busy to talk, but texting worked!

Saturday started off with a bang too! I had been actually looking forward to my 20 mile run this weekend after very successful 17 + 18 mile runs. Woke up early and ate my go-to pre-run meal and headed out to the trail.

I broke up the run again into more manageable portions -- an 8 mile out + back, 4 miles, and then met up with Lauren for a final 8 mile out + back. [She decided this weekend to cut her full down to the half, but I will still be going to cheer her on to a PR!]

The run started off not as great as I had hoped with some stomach cramps, but eventually they went away and I was able to relax. The first 12 felt great and Lauren really helped push me through those final 8 miles. I ended up finishing the run in 2 hours 43 minutes, averaging an 8:09/mile pace! [That doesn't include stopping for drink/food breaks + talking to one of my colleagues who I saw on my run.]

I can't explain to you how ecstatic I am about that run! If I keep up that pace for the entire 26.2, I can actually qualify for Boston! I don't think I would actually run Boston, but I would love to say that I qualified! It has really helped me not to focus on pace during these runs and just bang out the miles. It seriously went by so fast! I have really fallen back in love with running again, but that's a whole different post I'll get to another day.

I'm a little sore + exhausted, but nothing a little vino + custard can't fix!

One of the best things I love about living in the suburbs for St. Louis is that there is beautiful farmland and wineries just a hop, skip + jump away! The Hubs + I headed out to Augusta last weekend for some wine and decided to head out there again this weekend.

Balducci's Vineyards is a little farther away than most of the other wineries in Augusta, and doesn't have as beautiful a view as some, but I love the rustic feel of the place.

We also had great company join us this weekend: my parents! Good food, great wine, and wonderful company! Paradise to me!

But, also another paradise, in my opinion, of course is frozen custard! Augusta is pretty far south from where we live (like 45 minutes), but just past Augusta is a frozen custard stand I have really been looking forward to trying, we have just needed an excuse to go!

Nope, that's not Fritz's. It's Paradise Frozen Custard!

True story: Paradise actually used to be a Fritz's franchise a few years ago [obviously]. The Hubs actually helped the franchise owners open the store when he was managing Fritz's in St. Peters. The franchise there just didn't work out and was reopened as Paradise Frozen Custard in 2008.

It was so weird walking up to the window for what looked like Fritz's but was very, very different. The did have something that caught my eye right away: the Honey-O. Vanilla custard with Honey Nut Cheerios + butterscotch. I am as addicted to cereal as I am to custard and Honey Nut Cheerios just so happens to be one of my absolute favorites! So, obviously, I just had to get it, even though I am not a big fan of butterscotch.

Matt ended up with a Caramel Apple sundae, which he was very impressed with. [After working at Fritz's, we know that the apple pie filling is not exactly a top seller, so it usually gets gooey and gross. But, this was definitely not at all.]

I thought the vanilla itself was just OK. I thought it was very icy tasting, with not too much of a vanilla flavor. I also couldn't taste too much of the butterscotch in it, but it did leave a good Cheerio taste in my mouth!

I am hoping we can come back to try this:

A pumpkin shortcake bowl! Not in season yet, but hopefully soon... and filled with pumpkin custard!

Which, speaking of pumpkin custard, we will be retracing some of our steps to try various pumpkin custards, including Fritz's, Ted Drewes', and Andy's! If you know of any other places that have pumpkin custard, let us know because we will love to try as many as possible!

So, yes, a weekend in paradise it was, and will continue to be with 2 days left!