Balmy Running Weather!

You know you’re a Minnesotan when you wake up and are literally smiling and excited to run because it’s FINALLY going to be 20 degrees and sunny outside!  Balmy.  Lovely. Exactly what I needed.  It’s been a long couple of weeks of below zero temps, icy running conditions and a crazy work schedule – so I’ve been on the treadmill or skipping workouts. Blah.  It’s only mid-January though – we are guaranteed to have many more weeks of crappy, icy, cold weather.  Those of you that live in moderate year round climates should count your running blessings!



Happy New Year!

I think 2016 will go down as the year that I wrote the fewest posts on I just wasn’t feeling it. Blogging, not running.  Running was actually great in 2016.  I ran 2001 miles!  And, I can honestly say that I loved all 2001 of those miles.  I am SO thankful to have had a healthy year. To have run two marathons – Blue Ridge Marathon and Twin Cities Marathon. And to have running as a way to relieve my stress.

What’s in store for running in 2017? So far it’s just enjoying every step.  I was signed up for a marathon in March, but training for that fell apart and life is not letting me do a destination marathon this year. But I’m ok with that.  LOTS of exciting stuff going on in 2017.  I’m getting MARRIED! 🙂 My kids are both going to be in college.  I’ll have two step kids still living at home with us, so I will still have years until I’m officially an empty-nester.  I’m changing locations at work. I’m doing some exciting travel. And between all of that I will be running. 🙂

Stay tuned.

Twin Cities Marathon 2016 in Photos

Photos courtesy of my awesome and talented photographer brother, Tom of ThomasJSpence Images.

It was a slow day (3rd worst marathon time at 4:22), but a great day. Perfect running weather. Good company. Great crowds. Family and friends supporting. Healthy and happy! Loved every minute of it. I’ll do a full race report soon.

The Best Is Yet To Be: Thoughts From A Mom With A (partially) Empty Nest

File Aug 17, 12 10 12 PMWhen I dropped my daughter off at college – 7 hours away from home – last week, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Pride – about all that she has accomplished in her short 18 years. Sadness – about the change that we are experiencing. Excitement – about all that she has in store for her in the next 4 years and in her lifetime. Worry – about whether she will be ok and make the right choices.  Joy  – about the choice that she made about where to attend college being the perfect choice for her. Fear – about the unknown. Panic – about whether I’ve taught her enough, so that she can survive at college without me. All these emotions have been building over her last months of high school and this summer. I’ve joked with a few of my friends who are also sending their first-born off to college that there should be a support group for this situation.  We are all so emotional and nervous and, really, just sad.  About little things. About big things. About giving up control. About whether we have taught our kids enough.

What is she going to do when she’s sick? One of my favorite things about being a mom has been when my kids are sick.  Not because I enjoy seeing them puking or feverish or in pain.  Of course that part hurts my heart. But because when they are sick they need me, and I am able to nurture them and make their sickness feel a teeny bit less awful, in the way that only a mom can. They need me to get a puke bucket, a cool wash cloth, the thermometer, a sip of water, a sympathetic ear.  So what is she going to do when she gets the flu at college and I am 7 hours away and not able to help her in the way that I’m used to helping her?

How will I know she is safe? I’m a worrier. I can’t help it. I imagine the worst and tend to overreact about things. I have my kids wake me up when they get home from work or going out because even though I fall asleep, it’s not a good sleep until I know they are home safe. I’m also extremely punctual and expect the same from others. So when my kids are supposed to be home at 10:00 and it’s 10:01, I become anxious and convinced they’ve been in a terrible accident. When they arrive at 10:02, I feel an enormous sense of relief.  Every single time. So how will I know that she is safe at college, when I am 7 hours away and she can’t wake me up to tell me she is ok?

What is she going to do when she gets overwhelmed and stressed out by the difficulties of college? When your child lives with you it’s easy to see when they are struggling with school or life stuff.  When that happens it’s easy to address the issue – to suggest that she take a break, that she talk to a teacher, that she study in a different way, etc. (not always easy to solve the issue, but easy to acknowledge it’s there and offer solutions on how to help her deal with it). The challenges, stress and uncertainty that she will face at times in college will be huge – unlike any that she has experienced so far. So how will I be able to help her when she is 7 hours away and when I won’t necessarily know that she is struggling?

How will I be ok without her here? I’m divorced – we divorced when she was in her early teens – and I think there is a different bond between moms and daughters when there is a divorce. Post-divorce there is a lot of heavy stuff for parents and kids to deal with: the emotions involved in the breakup of a marriage; the challenges and emotions in kids splitting time between mom’s home and dad’s home and being separated on holidays; the fear and uncertainties and excitement in forming new love relationships.  As she’s matured, my daughter has become more than just a child to me. She’s become a confidante, a friend, an advisor. We communicate with each other every day – in person or via text or social media. We shop together – she’s the one who went with me a few weeks ago to pick out my wedding dress. When I want someone to eat dinner with, she’s always up for popovers from Hazellewood or sweet rice from Rojo. When I am excited about something or sad about something, she’s the first to know.   So how will I be ok without her here?

As I sit here and try to figure out why I am sad about her leaving to college, I think what it boils down to, for me, is that I am afraid of the change and impact that her leaving will have on MY life, not on hers.  And really, I think this is pretty normal.  Change is hard.  Whether you are an 18 year old going off to your freshman year at college, or a 45 year old mom who is looking at (partially) empty nest.  Change is scary and difficult.  But I need to remind myself that change is also exciting and necessary and good. In changing, we open ourselves up to new possibilities, new relationships, new experiences and new adventures. In change, we adapt and grow in ways that strengthen us and make us better individuals.  I gave my daughter a framed quote for graduation, with what I thought was the perfect saying for her at that time.  “The Best Is Yet To Be”.  It’s true. Even though things will change for her, for me and for those that love her, the best is yet to be!

Lessons from my crappy 20 miler!

20 milesIt’s always such a relief to get the first 20 miler of a marathon training cycle done! Finished my first one for Twin Cities Marathon 2016 yesterday.  It was ugly. The first 10 miles were great.  And then I hit the wall.  At 10 miles!? I could not move. My pace slowed.  My legs were heavy.  But I powered through and finished at exactly 20 miles, not a step further.

I’m a Type A runner (aren’t most of us?) and like to learn from each run, particularly the bad ones.  So here’s what I figured out:

  • I was severely dehydrated post run.  I had lost 3 pounds during the run and felt ill. Looking back, I should have forced myself to drink more fluid from the beginning.  I didn’t plan the route very well and only had my hand-held water bottle with me.  I ran out about mile 7 and didn’t have a stop planned until mile 11.  So I went about 5 miles without fluids – and those miles were early miles so probably critical to get the fluid in.  When I refilled, I was already dehydrated and it made it hard for me to stomach even water.  So I ran the last 9 miles with just one more water bottle.  Blah.
  • Pace: I went out at 9:15 pace and decided it felt ok (my goal marathon pace would be about 8:50, if I’m going for a BQ again!), so tried to stick with it.  It actually felt good until the dehydration issues.  But in retrospect, since it was the first 20 miler of the cycle, I probably should have started out slower, like a 9:30 pace, and just been happy with that.
  • Sleep.  I stayed up too late.  With 20 milers, I should treat them more like race day and get to sleep early.  They are too tough to do on too little sleep!

Even with it being a crappy 20 miler, I am SO grateful to have the legs to be able to run it.  The legs are feeling great! Moving on!

My two cents on how to BQ

2012-04-11 00.44.13

Hello readers!

For those of you interested on my two cents on how to qualify for the Boston Marathon, please check out my post on my I Mua Training website!

Don’t worry – I won’t cross-post too often.  But I thought this topic might be of interest to you!

My plan is to update my runninfromthelaw blog with my personal training/stories and to leave the blog on I MUA mostly tips and how to’s.  Feel free to subscribe to both!


Hello!  Bet you were wondering if I forgot about this blog.  I didn’t – life has just been filled with too much (good) stuff to keep up with it all.

I have a few extra minutes right now, so I thought I’d provide some updates.  In completely random order, here’s what’s been happening since Blue Ridge Marathon.

  • My oldest graduated from high school and leaves for college in just one month.  Crazy!
  • I finished my first non-snowy bike race – the Lutsen 39er.  Scary. Challenging. Fun!
  • I’ve taken two tumbles on the bike – one during the 39er and one on single track when I accidentally went down some stairs and went over my handle bars.  My legs are SO beat up and ugly.  But it’s fun. 🙂
  • Scott and I found our perfect wedding spot – “my bridge” on the North Shore!
  • William and I ran a 5k on the 4th of July.  So fun!
  • I’m in week 6 of Twin Cities Marathon training.  Yeah for cut-back weeks! Training is going well.  I LOVE feeling my body responding to training and getting faster and fitter. Wheee!
  • I signed up for an RRCA coaching certification class in August. Working on some fun new ideas. 🙂
  • Things are really busy and really good!

I DO intend to blog more.  So stay tuned!

Blue Ridge Marathon Race Report

shirt and medal

“America’s Toughest Road Marathon” is in the books!  For me Blue Ridge Marathon was marathon #14.  And, while it was definitely my toughest, most challenging marathon (and with my worst time by 24 minutes), it was also the marathon where I felt the strongest.  It was one of those marathons that every runner dreams about having  – where the marathon stars align.

What’s the background? I’ve been plagued with left tibial stress fractures and stress reactions since shortly after Boston 2013.  Since then, I’ve felt recovered enough to run one marathon (Twin Cities 2014), but the stress fracture returned after that.  I decided on this marathon because I wanted to run a marathon that was something different – a challenge and one that would force me to approach the marathon differently and not think about speed and qualifying for Boston.  This definitely fit the bill.  With just under 7500 feet of elevation change and a climb up and down 3 mountains, survival, not a BQ, would be my focus.

How did I train?  I’m from Minnesota. We don’t have much in the way of hills near me.  Certainly nothing that would compare to the “hills” I’d be running up in Roanoke. Training with hills was even more complicated by the fact that I was training through a Minnesota winter.  Although we got lucky and didn’t have a super snowy winter, we did have some ultra cold, nasty windy days that all seemed to fall on Saturdays – long run day.  So in terms of hill training, I didn’t do much.  My hilliest training run was 17 miler with 1390 feet of elevation gain.  I followed a Pfitz 16 week training plan, so I did manage to get in three 20 milers.  I also did a lot more cycling (on the trainer and fat bike) than I normally do.  And, of course, I religiously did my core work (which I do regularly now because I’m convinced that is a big part of the reason that I have suffered so many stress fractures).  The “speed work” I did was pretty laughable – since I was just building back up after an injury my paces were so slow compared to my normal marathon speed paces.  But I didn’t really care – I was just SO happy to be healthy and training for a marathon.  So going in to Blue Ridge, I felt trained to cover the distance, but not trained for the hills/mountains.

What was my race plan? Run the entire marathon by feel.  Turn the garmin on timer and don’t look at the pace per miles or average pace.  Just run it so I never feel like I’m overexerting myself.  Walk when necessary to maintain this feeling. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery.  Enjoy the perks along the race (mimosas at mile 13; champagne on top of Peakwood – mountain #3). Take tons of photos. Stop and chat with my fans (my fiance Scott!

Mission accomplished!

How hilly was it? The photos don’t capture just how steep and long the hills actually were.  There were many parts where EVERYONE around me was walking.  It just didn’t make any sense to run up the steep inclines because they were so steep that power walking got you there at just about the same time (but saved a lot of energy). And the hills were just short little inclines.  They went on and on and on.  The three mountains were Roanoke Mountain, Mill Mountain and Peakwood. Even after we were done with the 3 mountains, there were rolling hills and a few REALLY steep ones. I ran up what I could – at a very slow pace – and power walked up what I couldn’t run. On the downhills, I ran controlled with short strides.  So many people were barrelling down the mountain on the downhills, super fast and with long, pounding strides.  By the end of the race, I was passing many of them (plus I bet their quads are wrecked today – I’m sore, but not crazy sore).

blue ridge elevation

How did it feel?  FABULOUS.  Seriously.  The whole marathon felt freaking awesome.  I have never felt so strong and amazing in any of my previous 13 marathons, or in any training run.  I felt great aerobically (the walking that I did during it, and the stopping to talk to Scott, take pictures and pee – I stopped 7 times just to pee – surely helped me feel great aerobically). Each time I saw Scott, he seemed amazed when I said that I was feeling great.  My “normal” marathon race execution is this: go out at BQ pace. Feel “ok” for 10 – 15 miles.  Blow up.  Feel like crap and then walk/jog/cry/swear the remaining miles.  This marathon was simply amazing – like a dream. In the back of my mind, I was wondering when I would fall apart and hit the wall.  It never happened.  Miles 23 – 24.5 I did start feeling tired, but I got a burst of energy at 24.5 and finished strong.  I actually picked the pace up and “sprinted” the last couple blocks to the finish line.  It was so crazy how good I felt during the entire race!

What were the stats?  4:51:26 (moving time was 4:44 – I stopped to chat, take pics and pee a lot!) I was 56th female and 9th in my age group.

How was Roanoke?  Lovely. Great restaurants, lots of good craft beer, friendly people, gorgeous scenery and tons to do for the outdoor lover and adventure seeker.  Scott and I arrived in Roanoke early so that he could participate in Roanoke’s inaugural hill week cycle camp for grown ups.  He loved it – he got tons of miles (and hills) in on his road bike to prep him for Leadville 100 mtb and met friendly, fun cyclists who made sure that we had a great time in Roanoke.

For me, Blue Ridge Marathon isn’t just a bucket list marathon.  I’ll be back to do it again!


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