My first full: Twenty six point two

There was a time just a few years ago when running for one minute without stopping was a big deal for me. On Saturday, Nov. 7, I ran for 4 hours, 51 minutes and 45 seconds (mostly) without stopping.

I was pretty calm heading into race day. I had a game plan to set out around an 11:30 pace and chip my way down from there. I thought if everything went amazingly perfect, I might be able to run close to an 11:00 average. I hit that for my 20 miler but those last 6.2 miles were such an unknown. I had no idea what to expect or how I would feel when I got there.

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It’s a little painful to start out so slow, especially when you have people flying by you in those first few miles. But it’s so important to run your own race, particularly when you are in it for the extreme long haul. I ended up going out a little faster than planned but stayed calm and didn’t push my pace too hard too early.

My first emotional moment of the day came in mile 7 when the half marathon splits and the full continues up Fall Creek Parkway. In the past, I always felt like it thinned out once I was alone with the half marathoners but that was nothing compared to how small the crowd was once it was just the full crazies.

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After the halfway point, I let myself pick up the pace but kept in mind how much farther I still had to go. I used the same mental strategy I have during my previous races. Rather than getting to 20 miles and then thinking about the distance I have left that I’ve never ran before, I got through the first 6.2 miles and then focused on the fact that I had already ran the distance that was left. During each remaining distance, I would think about my training run that was the same distance – how I felt, how I paced it, how I got through it. I don’t know if that makes sense or resonates with anyone reading this but for some reason it helps me so much more than thinking about it the other way around.

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I was really surprised how solid I felt when I finally did reach mile 21 and beyond. I continued to chug along. At that point, my goal was just to get to Meridian Street and hang on until the end. I did end up walking a little bit in the last mile – something I somewhat regret now but also realize it’s pretty awesome to not have walked until that point so I shouldn’t be that mad.

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There are no words to describe the feeling of coming down the final turn from Capitol onto Washington. They changed up the finish line chute this year and it ended up being a little longer with more people cheering on each side. It was absolutely incredible and the second emotional moment of the day. I surprisingly had a lot of energy and gave a strong final kick to cross the finish line with the biggest smile plastered across my face.

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Final stats:

  • Weeks completed: 18 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 68 / 444.2 (only missed 4 runs total)
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 30
  • Most interesting run: Race day, obvi
  • Race day stats: OH HEY NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!
    • 10k – 1:09:55.2 (11:15 average)
    • Half – 2:26:34.3 (11:11 average)
    • Finish – 4:51:45.5 (11:07 average)

The #runMelrun crew
I could write an equally long post just about the amazing people in my life who have supported me through this journey. I was inundated with messages wishing me luck the week of the race. I didn’t expect or ask anyone to be out there and was so overwhelmed by how many times I had friends and family on the course cheering me on. I wasn’t sure if I would want to see anyone – if things were going bad or I was too in my head – but every time it gave me a boost of energy. These people gave up time on a Saturday to hang out on random sidewalks around town to see me for a total of 30 seconds while chasing after this really dumb goal of running 26.2 miles. I am forever indebted to them.

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What’s next?
As with winters past, maintaining my base will be a big goal. I’m signed up for the Derby half again in April and may get some shorter races on the books between now and then (the inaugural Winter Warmup was fun earlier this year!). But I’m also excited to get back to crossfit and lifting heavy shit again.

The obvious question is whether I’ll ever do another full. I can’t say I’m itching to do one right away but now that I’ve done it, I know I can do it again. It’s no longer this big, scary, holy shit, impossible thing. And as much as I don’t want to say something like this is easy… overall everything went really well for me during training, on race day and in recovery.

And if I can run a marathon, anyone can! Seriously. I do have a freakishly self-driven personality but besides that, here’s a few things it’ll take to get there:

  1. Time. You can’t go from zero to 26.2. So you train for 18 weeks. You give up your Friday nights because you have to get up early to run Saturday morning. You run when you would rather sleep. You run when you would rather drink. You run for several hours and then you sleep and then you drink. Your time is dominated by your training.
  2. Mental toughness. You have to be able to push through the wall when your body wants to do nothing more than not run and it’s incredibly easy to just stop. You have to will yourself through those last miles and focus on how proud you will feel when you finish. You can and will finish but you only if you’re willing to go to a place that completely ignores logic and every instinct your body has to shut down and quit doing this crazy thing (running a ridiculous amount of miles).
  3. Patience. The saying “it’s a marathon not a sprint” is of course very literal in this case. You are never more in tune with your body than you are training for a marathon. You know exactly how your body feels at different paces. You go out extremely controlled and conserve your energy because you have a long way to go. It’s not easy but it will help you finish strong. And you have to be patient about trusting your training plan. Four months is a long time to work for one day of racing but again, you can’t go from zero to 26.2.

Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week oneWeek fiveWeek nine, Week thirteen, Week seventeen.

My first full: Week seventeen

Hello sweet, sweet taper time! There were some days I never thought I would make it here but I survived the highest volume weeks and have a slight reprieve leading up to race day.

Since my last update, I’ve tackled two major distances and overcome a hamstring injury that I was trying to downplay while freaking out that it might end my training.

My 18 miler fell on the day of the Back on My Feet Marathon Relay, which I did as a two-person team with a friend also training for the Monumental. Rather than take turns trading off 2.2 mile loops, we got 5 out of the way together before the race started and then ran our 6 respective laps consecutively. She’s speedier than me and I was a little worried that I had gone out too fast.

Once the race started, I let her take off and settled into my pace. With each lap, I ended up maintaining close to what we set out at and I felt really solid through the end. My final average pace ended up being 10:28 which was unreal. I was on a total runner’s high the rest of the day!

A couple days later, we were doing cartwheels in the gym (something I suck at and never do). I felt a pull in my right hamstring during one but it wasn’t immediately painful so I did the workout after that. The next day I knew something was wrong but I was afraid to miss my nine miler. It was horrible, naturally, so I skipped my run the day after that and went to see Sara at Myo-Fit to assess the damage and perform her torture techniques.

I took my 14 miler that Saturday slow and everything was fine. But on my next run, I went out a little faster, felt really good and, like a dumbass, pushed my pace super hard in the last mile. With one tenth of a mile left, I felt the hamstring pull again. This time it was immediately painful and I seriously worried I might have ended my season.

That was the start of my highest volume week. The week leading up to the big 20 miler. The week I didn’t think I could afford to miss any miles. I decided to run the 10 miler (also horrible) but skip the 5 miler to give myself two days of rest before the big 2-0.

Luckily my gamble paid off and my 20 mile run went amazingly well. I was in a really positive place mentally. My leg was cooperating with no major issues. My pacing was smart (11:00 average!). It was a huge confidence boost that I might actually do this thing on November 7. I know those last 6.2 miles can be killer but I’m going to get through them and cross that finish line.

Some stats to date:

  • Weeks completed: 16 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 60 / 388
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 27
  • Most interesting run: I randomly busted out a 9:47 average pace on one of my nine milers. I think that’s the fastest pace I’ve maintained for a longer distance and would have been on track for a half marathon PR (had it been during a race and had I been able to maintain it for four more miles of course).

Seen on my runs

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Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week oneWeek five, Week nine, Week thirteen

My first full: Week thirteen

So, a lot has happened since my last training update!

I started a new job earlier this month and it’s been really exciting. But anytime you go through a life change, there’s always a chance it might impact your training. I did miss a run for the first time this season during my first week. It was only a 4 miler which realistically shouldn’t have too much of an effect given how many total miles I’m logging.

I also ran farther than I ever have before (15 miles)…and one upped that distance the next week (16 miles). I was pretty calm heading out for the 15 miler and felt really good. I didn’t know what to expect for the pace but ended up right at 11:00 average, which I was super pumped about.

My 16 miler was a true test of mental endurance, despite churning out an 11:02 average pace for the day. My alarm went off at 6 a.m. and it was thundering and lightning hardcore. I went back to sleep for an hour and it was still raining heavy but seemed like the thunder and lightning had stopped. Out on the Monon, there was no one around, it was pretty dark still and the lightning and thunder came back. Got 2.5 miles out then turned around and came back in feeling defeated.

The thing about running is the only thing really keeping you from doing it is you. Sure, there are legitimate excuses like an injury that will sideline you. But weather is just a mental game you have to conquer. You can run in the cold. You can run in the heat. You can run in the rain. You may even be able to run in lightning and thunder… but I just didn’t feel confident or safe out there. Would a “better” runner have stayed out? Maybe. But a race that was going on downtown that morning got black flagged so I was probably smart to stop.

It also bummed me out because it meant my 16 wouldn’t be continuous. I finished the remaining 11 later in the day (in sunny, clear weather!) but worried it wouldn’t count since I split the miles. One of the goals of these long runs is to get your body used to being out there for an extended time. If that time is split over two runs in one day, is the same effect achieved? I don’t know why I care so much about this when in reality I still ran farther than I’ve ever ran in one day. So I’m saying it counts!

Some stats to date:

  • Weeks completed: 12 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 46 / 260
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 21
  • Most interesting run: While in Louisville for a wedding, my 4 miler took me over the river and through two states via the Big Four Bridge. First time running across a state line!

See on my runs:

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The homestretch(ish)

Two more major long runs stand between me and taper time. This weekend I’ll do 18 miles as part of the Back on My Feet Marathon Relay and two weeks after that will be the epic double double digit 20 miler. My mid-week runs will peak with a 10 miler that same week.

It’s really weird to be spending so much time in double digit distances this past month and not feel super intimated about it. I am tired and hungry a lot. And I do have super sexy chafing blisters on my underboobs and collar bones, along with calluses on my feet. But overall I’m feeling really good and oddly confident that this thing might actually happen. Obviously the 20 miler will be a huge test and give me an idea of what pace I think I can shoot for during the real deal in November.

Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week oneWeek five, Week nine.

My first full: Week nine

I spend a lot of time thinking about a spot on Fall Creek Parkway. It’s just before College if you’re headed northeast. There’s nothing really noteworthy there and it certainly doesn’t give pause to the thousands of cars who drive past it every day on their commute. But that spot is always lingering in the back of my mind.

This seemingly inconsequential spot is located in mile seven of the Monumental course and it’s where the full and half marathon split. For the last three years when I reached this spot, I stayed to the left to continue onto 29th Street. I looked to my right and was simultaneously in awe of everyone doing the full while also thinking 19 more miles was just dumb. After the split, I settled in with my people – the half crazy people.

This November, however, I’ll stay to the right. I don’t know what I’ll be thinking when I look to my left. I’ll hope that 19 more miles seems slightly less dumb by then. And I’ll settle in with my new people – the full crazy people.

It’s a little surreal to think about but I’m feeling really good about my training and where I’m at right now physically and mentally. These next two months will be the true test as my long runs start to get extra long. But I’m a big nerd who’s itching for that first run that’s over 13 miles where I’ll step into new territory, literally.

Some stats to date:

  • Weeks completed: 8 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 31 / 150
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 15
  • Most interesting run: Five morning miles with my running pen pal – a customer of ours who was in town for an event we hosted. Runner up: Doing 13 miles as a training run and not for a race. That’s always been the end goal but now it’s just a step along the way.

See on my runs:

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One of these legs is not like the other

After my long run last week, I was feeling a little something in my right calf and ankle. It wasn’t outright pain and it didn’t hurt to walk or run. But something was going on and I didn’t want to risk it developing further. I scheduled an appointment with my girl Sara Hemmick at Myo-Fit.

Sara is a member of my crossfit gym and has a Master’s in Kinesiology. She uses her hands, elbows and various torture tools to dig into your muscles and work out all the kinks. It’s total pain cave, hurts so good stuff and I love it. She’s worked on me a few times (mainly my back) and knows about my whole fitness journey so she can really tailor our sessions.

As she was assessing things, she didn’t find anything wrong but she pointed out that my right leg is longer than my left leg and probably bearing more weight with each step. She did some work on my left hip to loosen it and stretch out that leg. By the end of the appointment, my legs were the same length.

I would highly recommend you check her out if you have any kinks, pain, etc. She is based out of our crossfit gym but you don’t have to be a member or do crossfit to schedule an appointment. I’ll probably see her once more before the race and then potentially the week after depending on how my recovery is going.

Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week one, Week five.

The True Cost

Take a look at the shirt you have on. How much did it cost? I’ve got on a basic tee that was probably part of a 3 for $25 deal at Target or Old Navy. But I have no idea what the shirt really cost in the grander sense.

My friend Julia runs the Fair for All blog and hosted a screening of and discussion about the documentary The True Cost. I was so moved by the film that I immediately came home and dumped out a bunch of thoughts into this post. There’s so much more I could write but I highly encourage you to watch the full documentary, streaming on Netflix and also available for purchase.

From their site, this film is “a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. [This documentary] pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?”

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Great, one more thing I have to consider before spending my money.” It takes a lot of time and effort to be an educated consumer. Understanding how companies operate, what they do with their profits, how they treat their workers, and what values they put into practice can be tough and overwhelming. For example, I actively avoid a company who is outspoken about donating its profits to pray-the-gay-away organizations but turn around and buy clothes without considering the factory workers in Bangladesh who barely make any money and work in some of the most inhumane conditions. I am equally for human rights as I am against bigotry, but it’s hard to factor all the things into all the decisions I make every day as a consumer.

There’s also an environmental component that I was admittedly oblivious to. The film reported that clothing is second only to oil as the most polluting industry in the world. Part of this is chemical – toxins dumped into water sources, synthetic products that don’t break down, etc. But part of it is physical – a culture of waste we’ve developed where it’s a social faux pas to wear the same outfit twice, where you buy a skirt you don’t really need because it’s only $10, where you throw out pants that have a tear in them instead of patching them up, where only 10% of clothing donated to thrift stores is actually resold.

Another aspect that shocked me: Cotton, which represents nearly half of the fiber used to make clothing, is now being genetically modified with various chemicals, pesticides and insecticides. There’s been a significant shift in the food industry to eating organic and avoiding genetically modified food. We care more now than ever about what we put into our bodies, but what about on them? The skin is the largest organ in the body and the clothes we wear are potentially carriers of these chemicals.

One cotton farmer in Texas who was interviewed in the film is pushing to change this. Part of her motivation: Her husband died at the age of 50 from brain tumors the doctors believe were caused by exposure to the chemicals used on their crops. She is now devoted to advancing the organic cotton movement.

And this touches on an interesting framing issue that is slightly off topic but crosses multiple industries and takes me back to one of my graduate classes on language. An apple that grows naturally from a tree shouldn’t have a special label or an asterisk. It should just be an apple. Labels and product names should highlight things that are changed or modified in some way. But major companies on the one side don’t want to call attention to the actions they are taking to modify products. And on the other side, major companies benefit from a cultivated organic lifestyle that attracts customers who are seemingly willing to throw down more money. I haven’t read up much on the effects of genetically modified products, but I firmly believe language has a powerful impact on consumers.

So what’s the solution? There’s not an easy one. But Julia outlined some steps you can take as an individual (copied from her handout at the screening):

  1. Learn more. Find ethical fashion blogs, shopping guides and other resources at
  2. Shop less. The fast fashion industry is driven by the constant consumption of disposable clothing. Buy less, buy only what you love and buy it to last.
  3. Shop smart. Many clothing brands are working to make their supply chains more ethical and transparent while treating workers and the environment with respect. Here are a few to check out: People Tree, Zady, Fair Indigo, Mata Traders, PACT, Liz Alig (Indianapolis-based!).

I would add two more: Get political and get social. There are so many political elements to this issue that I don’t have the space (or energy…) to get into. If you are passionate about this cause, make sure your elected officials know it. And talk to your family and friends about it as well as your social networks. Raising the general awareness of even one other person is positive movement.

I can’t promise that I’ll only shop from fair trade companies moving forward and I’m not even sure how realistic that is at this point. But I know I owe it to those in the clothing industry who are suffering the true cost to be a more educated consumer and make more informed, responsible decisions whenever possible.

Experiencing Austin

I haven’t fallen in love with a lot of someones but I have fallen in love with a lot of somewheres. My latest fling: Austin.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t fall in love with the heat. No place is perfect! While I did my best to glisten a la Ashley Judd in A Time to Kill, I’m convinced it’s impossible to feel sexy when you’re constantly sweating. But the river, the bridges, the cityscape, the rooftop views, the breakfast tacos and the whole “Keep Austin Weird” undertone definitely wooed me.

I was there last weekend for a friend’s birthday. We stayed 15-deep at an Airbnb house that was about a mile from the east end of Sixth Street. The location worked out pretty well and I got to experience so much more of Austin compared to the first time I went for work several years ago.


The nightlife
Austin is known for its live music scene and the notorious Sixth Street certainly delivered. Similar to Broadway in Nashville, both sides of the street are lined with bars showcasing a wide variety of musicians. We spent a lot of time on the Dirty Sixth end, with some highlights including Easy Tiger (stopped in for a beer but they also bake bread!), Maggie Maes (awesome rooftop deck), Chupacabra Catina ($2 happy hour beer) and The Gatsby (posted up on the balcony overlooking a big back deck and watched a couple bands play).


The Driskill Hotel is an old timey oasis in the middle of the Dirty Sixth bar hopping scene. The architecture and décor ooze opulence and indulgence. We cozied up in leather barstools and enjoyed some very well-made cocktails.


On our last night in town, we went to Rainey Street and this is where Austin truly stole my heart. It wasn’t necessarily any less crowded than Dirty Sixth but it had a completely different vibe. Every spot had great outdoor spaces with string lights (I might be slightly obsessed with them…) and good music that you didn’t have to scream over.

I read about Container and it lived up to my expectations and then some. It’s a really cool space that’s built with shipping containers. Bungalow was another solid spot that looks like a regular house from the outside but is gutted and open inside. And we ended the night dancing our asses off at Javelina until last call.


To experience Austin is to experience Dirty Sixth, yes. But I would highly recommend checking out Rainey Street. And we heard from a few locals that the west end of Sixth Street is developing more and cultivating a somewhat upscale culture.

The eats
To experience Austin is also to eat breakfast tacos and BBQ. Our house was only a few blocks away from Juan in a Million. I tried a migas taco, which has crispy tortilla chips in it, and it was delish! Our group also hit up Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. I don’t get all crazy over BBQ like some people so it was good but not amazing to me.


My favorite meal though was our first one in town at Stella San Jac. They had the most amazing biscuits and salted butter and my burger with onion straws hit the spot. I have to give a shout out to our waitress Clarissa for handling our huge group. She was a rockstar!

The things to do
One of the coolest – literally – things we did was take a dip in Barton Springs. I’ve been in natural hot springs before but this water runs around 68 degrees. It was heavenly compared to the 100-degree weather we’d been walking around in. It is a bit of a shock to your system when you first get in but so worth it.


We also went to a Round Rock Express ballgame. The birthday honoree and a lot of the guys on the trip are big baseball fans. I am not. However, I do enjoy the ballpark atmosphere. We sat in a section of rocking chairs and it was really relaxing and a unique experience. I probably could have sat rocking sipping my cold cider shooting the shit with the group forever.


And if you like all things quirky and eclectic, South Congress is a great place to stroll through. There are boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, restaurants and of course live musicians playing on the street.

The place to run
My training schedule called for nine miles while I was down there and luckily our house was less than a mile from the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. It wraps around the river so you can run almost entirely uninterrupted with spectacular views of the city. I managed to get out the door by 7:30 a.m. but it was already almost 90 degrees by the time I finished. Props to the Austin running community for dealing with that on a daily basis!


I had a feeling I would love Austin going into the trip but I wasn’t sure what to expect with the group dynamics since I only knew the birthday honoree and his girlfriend. The group was awesome though and I had so much fun. And luckily they’ve traveled together quite a bit so they’ve mastered the balance between group activities and letting people do their own thing.

So, Austin, you’ve got a hold on my heart. Until the next trip at least…

My first full: Week five

“Why are you already training for a race that’s not until November? You’ve got plenty of time!”

I’ve gotten that response from a few people over the last month. If I’ve learned anything from running it’s that you have to put in the time and respect the miles. And 26.2 is a lot of damn miles.IMG_20150706_180051

I’m a month into my training and things are going really well. Having a written training plan definitely helps keep me accountable and on track. I haven’t done it since my first half but a full is new territory so it’s made me feel more comfortable.

This is the most consistently I’ve worked out in a long time and I’m hoping I can keep the momentum going into week five and beyond. My mid-week long-ish run bumps up to 5 miles this week and I have my first double digit run on deck this Saturday.

Some stats to date:

  • Weeks completed: 4 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 15 / 62
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 7
  • Most interesting run: 9 miles on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail in Austin. The views were amazing and I ran almost entirely uninterrupted!


Some thoughts on running versus crossfit

I have some runner friends who hate crossfit, think it’s dumb and will get you injured. I have some crossfit friends who hate running, think it’s dumb and will get you injured. Meanwhile, I fully believe that I am a better crossfitter because I run and I’m a better runner because I crossfit.

Both require you to listen to and know your body. To understand pacing and how much energy to exert in a shorter workout versus a longer one. To go to a mental place that makes you to keep moving when it would be so, so easy to just stop.  

Both disciplines have given me the confidence to know I can always do more than I think I can – run farther, lift heavier, move faster. And both have amazing communities that are super supportive and play a big role in my life.

It is true that you can’t really go ham in both areas. Doing a WOD with heavy squats, a ton of box jumps or other moves that tax your legs will affect your run the next day. In the same way, running 16 miles will impact your effort in a WOD the next day.

Right now my priority is training for the full. That means scaling back in WODs as needed, being okay with not PRing lifts, choosing running over crossfit if my schedule gets crazy, etc. After my race, I’ll work to maintain my running base but probably switch my focus back to crossfit a little more.

Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week one.