30 Good Things Before 30: #30 – You!

It’s official, folks. I’m now a 30-something!

I celebrated my 30th birthday today by sticking to my marathon training plan. I’m that dedicated (or obsessed… whatever).

It really wasn’t much of a sacrifice though. I could hardly wait to hit the pavement for my regular Tuesday 6 km tempo run thanks to my brand-new Garmin Forerunner 225!

Got the gear!

Got the gear!

My Garmin was a gift from my famjam for my milestone birthday (thank you!!!) and it is amazing!

It’s my first Garmin so it took me a little while (read: several hours) to figure out the features and get it synced up with my computer and phone. Once I finally did, it worked like a dream on my first test run, guiding me through my warm-up, tempo miles and cool-down seamlessly. On top of that, the wrist-based heart rate monitor is unbelievable.30-good-things-before-30

I plan on writing a full review once I get a few more miles on this baby, so stay tuned.

For now, though, let me finish out my little 30-day challenge, with a nod to #30 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


You!

That’s right: you (yes, you!) are #30!

Whether it’s your first visit here or you’ve been with me for the long haul, it’s you out there on your laptops and smartphones, dropping in to read what I have to say that gives this all purpose.

I started this blog in 2010 and failed miserably at posting regularly. Looking back, I think a big part of the problem was that I was utterly self-absorbed. (A self-absorbed blogger? Shocking, I know!)

Since relaunching this year, though, I’ve made an effort to get to know more of you out there in the blogosphere and in Twitter-land and found such an amazing community that I’m so pumped to be part of.

My tweeps! (Find me on Twitter here)

My tweeps! (Find me on Twitter here)

If I have a training question, you have answers. If I’m frustrated, you’re supportive. If I need a killer recipe to use up those sweet potatoes I have on hand, you’ve got me covered.

Let’s be honest: if it wasn’t for your views, likes, and comments, I would have given up on this 30 days of consecutive blogging thing a long time ago! But my drive to stay engaged, to keep sharing and learning more about you, outweighed my desire to binge-watch OITNB or get to bed at a decent hour.

It feels good to belong to this community. Thanks for allowing me to be part of it! 🙂

What’s your favourite thing about blogging?

Any fav blogs you think I should be following? 

30 Good Things Before 30: #27 – The Naysayers

It’s the freakin’ weekend! Happy 4th to my American friends. Hope you’re all having a wonderful time.

Me? I’m here, north of the border, relaxing like it was my national holiday. Pretty much the only productive thing I got up to today was running a nice steady 3.5 miles.

Happy to say, I felt pretty well-rested after Thursday’s 10 km tempo run. And thank goodness for that because it was kind of a doozy.

30-good-things-before-30My training plan for running a 4-hour marathon says my pace for tempo runs should be 9:14/mile. Even when I include my warm-up and cool-down in Thursday’s run, I slaughtered that pace.

And that’s primarily because of #27 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


The Naysayers

When it comes to moral support in my running, I’m a darn lucky lady.

I have an amazing husband who tells me regularly how proud he is of my commitment to running — especially on those days when I’d rather do anything but. I have a mom, dad and brother who get up at ungodly hours on Sunday mornings to come watch me race. And I have extended family who always ask about my running and shower me with kind words of admiration.

I’m lucky. I know.

I guess that’s why it’s particularly jarring for me when I encounter someone of the opposite persuasion: a naysayer.

That’s what happened to me on Thursday. Our regular marathon clinic instructor was out-of-town so we had someone else fill in. We set out on our warm-up and he started asking about our goals.

I mentioned I was aiming for a sub-4:00 marathon this year.

“What did you run your last one in?” he asked.

“4:45-ish.”

“What about your last half?”

“2:07.”

“Yeah, realistically, you’re probably looking at 4:30.”

Say what?!?

I mean I get where he’s coming from. I’m familiar with the general notion that your marathon time will be your half-marathon time doubled, plus 10 minutes. I get that maybe it’s not a good idea to set someone up for failure if they’ve set an unrealistic goal.

But what he didn’t get about me is that I’ve been running my butt off. I’ve been working hard on my speed since that last half-marathon. And since my marathon training began, I’ve been consistently meeting and exceeding the prescribed training run paces for a 4-hour marathon.

And he’s gonna waltz into my clinic and tell me my goal isn’t realistic? C’mon!

I gotta thank him though, because after hearing his thoughts I ran the heck out of our tempo miles. I stayed at the front of the pack, pushed hard, told my tired legs to buck up, and ran faster than I knew I could.

Turns out a naysayer can be a good thing after all! For me, it was just the fire I needed lit under my bum to dig deep and find out what I’m really capable of. My dad suggested we invite him to come to my marathon in Toronto! 😉

How do you deal with the naysayers?

What motivates you more: positive supporters or pessimistic naysayers?

30 Good Things Before 30: #24 – Foam Rollers

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks out there!

I wanted to mark the holiday with some Olympic-level sleeping in to make up for my very late night last night. Sadly, it was not to be.

I was awoken somewhere around 7 a.m. by the vibration of construction equipment outside. Unfortunately for me and for the workers who are putting in a sidewalk on our street, there are no holidays when it comes to summer roadwork.

I’d like to say I bounded out of bed, got my run out of the way early and then had the entire day to do with as I pleased, but that’s just not true.

It was only after much procrastinating, humming, hawing, and some flailing about in my workout clothes like a four-year-old having a tantrum, that I finally got around to completing my steady 5-mile run.

It’s Week 3 of my marathon training and I feel like fellow blogger hellyontherun had it totally correct this week when she wrote:

I feel like Weeks 3+ are when the real deal starts. Like, you’re excited and gung ho about training at the start but once you’re settled into a plan and the weeks go by, that’s when the discipline really starts happening.

30-good-things-before-30That’s exactly where I am.

It’s become clear that there are a few things I will need in order to survive marathon training unscathed: many, many Clif Shot Bloks, copious amounts of strawberry-banana smoothies, and #24 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30.


Foam Rollers

So the funny thing about my foam roller is that I actually bought it as a Christmas gift for my husband. He saw one while we were out shopping and said it was something he’d like to have as he’d used it in physio.

I took a mental note and went back a couple days later to pick it up.

Fast forward to my marathon training. My legs are starting to feel really tight and I’m trying to figure out how to work them out. Then I see this guy in the corner of my home gym:

Just a simple foam roller. Something similar here.

Just a simple foam roller. You can get a similar one here.

I searched YouTube for “foam rolling for runners,” clicked on the first video and that was it. Life changed forever.

Pretty much every runner I’ve talked to feels the same.

According to the experts at Runner’s World, the benefits of the foam roller are two-fold:

  1. It breaks up knots that can limit range of motion.
  2. It also improves circulation, which can help get you warmed up for a workout and speed up recovery afterward.

I generally just use mine to work out tight muscles. And it hurts so good.

Totally worth it though. A good roller session means my legs will not only feel a million times better but also way more prepared for the next run.

Anybody else in love with their foam roller?

What muscles do you target with your foam roller?

Ever give a Christmas gift to someone that you then ended up using yourself?

30 Good Things Before 30: #21 – Clif Shot Bloks

It’s Sunday. And I’m in marathon training mode.

You know what that means, don’t you?

It’s LSD day. (You know you’re a runner if you automatically translated that to long slow distance run and didn’t assume I was on some kind of psychedelic voyage.)

I’m in Week 2 of training and I wandered around all day yesterday thinking I had to run 10 km today. When I finally checked my plan this afternoon, however, I realized I was actually supposed to get an 8-miler on the books.

This was disappointing news.

Not that an 8-miler is that much longer or more difficult than a 10k. It’s just that I was up early yesterday and on the road for a family get-together and that I ran 4 very hilly miles on unforgiving concrete last evening and that I drank way too many coffees and not nearly enough water this morning and that I could barely keep my eyes open on the drive back home today.

But, so far, I’m at 100% adherence to my training plan and I didn’t want to break that streak so I suited up, laced up, and got ready to hit the treadmill (trying to do a couple of my weekly runs indoors to give my joints a break as they get used to this increased mileage).

30-good-things-before-30It was around this time, several hours post-brunch, that I realized I was kinda hungry. But having barely mustered the energy to tackle the run, I couldn’t stop to make something to eat.

Along came #21 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30 to the rescue:


Clif Shot Bloks

I was forced to begin toying with eating during runs when I embarked on my marathon training last winter. I’d received a couple of energy gels in swag bags at previous races so I started experimenting with them.

This did not go well.

I’m a texture girl. Consistency is important. No matter what flavour gel I tried, each one threatened to come back up every time I gulped it down. I just couldn’t get past the slimy goo sliding down my throat.

I don’t know why. It’s a mental block. But I knew I couldn’t be the only runner to feel that way.

For my first marathon, I was going at it alone. Google was my coach. So I turned to Coach Google for alternatives.

There I discovered there was a whole world of candy-like alternatives that could fuel my miles. I picked up a variety of options and quickly became hooked on these:

My two favourite flavours of Clif Shot Bloks

My two favourite flavours of Clif Shot Bloks: Citrus and Strawberry

Clif Shot Bloks are like gummy bears for endurance athletes. Each package contains six 33-calorie cubes that have a great chewy-but-not-too-chewy consistency with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavour. They’re my go-to on all my long training runs and on race day.

My mind also occasionally turns to my stash of Clif Shot Bloks longingly when I’m craving a sweet treat. They’re that good!

A Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blok

A Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blok

Today, I started popping a couple of Bloks two miles into my long run when my legs were already feeling like dead-weight. In minutes, they felt revived.

That’s why I love these things.

If gels gross you out but you need some good long distance fuel, check out Clif Shot Bloks. Also, I should mention that I have not received any kind of compensation from Clif Bar for this post. I just live off these things during marathon training–and occasionally when I just want a treat…

Do energy gels gross you out?

What are your favourite fuelling products for long runs?

What’s your tried-and-true strategy for consuming calories on long runs?

30 Good Things Before 30: #14 – Group Runs

It’s not quite 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning as I’m starting to write this. There’s not yet a stir from my husband or my furbaby. (My husband is making the most of the one day of the week he can sleep in; Kenzy is content having some company for her regular sleeping in routine.)

And me? Well, I’m just sitting back with a strawberry-banana smoothie, a cup of coffee, and a bottle of water (I think it’s best to have at least three beverages on the go at all times). I’m freshly showered, snug inside my office, watching tree branches wave under the rain.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

Even better? My 10k long run is already done.

For me, that’s unheard of. When I have a long run on my training schedule, I always preface it with several hours of moping around the house, debating if I’ve had enough to eat or drink, wondering what I should wear, what I should listen to, and where I should go. The general rule of thumb is that I do this for approximately30-good-things-before-30 three times as long as it will take me to complete the actual run. Which means I’m always late getting out.

So what’s up with me today? No, I’m not suddenly some super-motivated version of myself. I can chalk it all up to #14 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Group Runs

Up until this week, I’ve been a lone wolf when it came to running. I’d run with a friend on the rare occasion, but 99.9% of the time, it was just me out there. Alone. With my thoughts. (And often zombies.)

I’d heard about running groups, knew that the Running Room offered free group runs a couple times a week, even met their little running posses on occasion when I was just a one-woman wolf-pack taking on the trails.

And while I always wondered what that would be like, thought it looked like fun, and figured it would be a great way to stay motivated, I held back because:

  1. What if no one talks to me?
  2. What if while they’re all ignoring me, they’re also all running way faster than me?

I ran my first group run on Thursday, the first night of my 18-week marathon training clinic. It. Was. Awesome!

First-ever group run!

First-ever group run!

Today, was my second group run, and guess what? Every. Bit. As. Awesome!

Second-ever group run

Second-ever group run

It’s funny how our minds can work in the face of uncertainty, coming up with worst case scenarios that, when examined under a logical lens, just don’t hold up. For example:

  1. “What if no one talks to me?” Really? Have you ever known runners as a group to be anything other than incredibly upbeat, supportive and friendly? Case in point, this smiling group from my local store’s Learn to Run spring clinic:
  2. “What if they’re all faster than me?” Within five minutes of us arriving for our first run on Thursday night, one of the ladies in the group asked “Are you guys fast?” To which we all simultaneously smiled and shook our heads. Everyone thinks they’re slow, regardless of their PRs! And even if you are the slowest one, so what? This article from Women’s Running sums it up well:

“Chances are there is always going to be someone faster than you. Fast is relative. I get it. You run 12 or 15 minutes per mile and are embarrassed to call yourself a runner because a lot of people are faster. Here’s a secret: ‘fast’ runners feel the same way.”

In my group runs, there were definitely a variety of speeds but no one ran alone. We’d find a buddy, match their pace, carry on a conversation and let the miles speed by. I’ve never ran a 10k that seemed so short!

My only regret about running with a group? That I didn’t start sooner.

So all you lone-wolf runners out there? Take it from me and give a group run a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.

The Fredericton Running Room has free group runs, open to anyone, on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. See you then!

30 Good Things Before 30: #11 – Birkenstocks

Happy Thursday, folks!

I’ll be trying to keep this brief because I’m in desperate need of a shower after just finishing my very first group run as part of a marathon training clinic at the local Running Room!

That’s right. Today was Day 1 of training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! Eek!

Even though this will be my second marathon, I’m more nervous about it than my first. Probably because I know exactly what running 26.2 miles feels like (in my case, about three parts bone-crushing fatigue, one part pure joy).

Let’s face it, It’s a lot easier to be like “Sure, I’m going to run a marathon!” when you don’t understand how wonderfully brief a half-marathon is, when you’ve never been gazed upon with pity as you shuffled your way through mile 26, when you don’t know you’ll be walking like John Wayne for several days after.

I remember that post-marathon period vividly. The funny thing about running a marathon is that the world doesn’t really care that you ran a marathon. Life goes on. Work piles up. Chores must be done. Groceries must be bought. Dogs must be walked.

Two things got me through:30-good-things-before-30

  1. My husband who had painstakingly researched every detail of marathon recovery, which I had somehow totally neglected in favour of focusing every ounce of time and energy on training.
  2. The 11th thing on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:

Birkenstocks

You know what feels real good after 26.2 miles on your feet? These mothers:

Skinny jeans and Birkenstocks: This is how we do

Skinny jeans, Birkenstocks and skin so pale it actually glows in the sunlight

Birkies have been on my wishlist since my days as a poncho-clad university student playing hacky-sack at my small liberal arts school. When I’m not decked out in technical gear, I’m pretty much all earth tones, wool socks and granola. Basically, I fit the stereotype.

I am also extraordinarily cheap — er, thrifty — so the price tag on a pair of these German-crafted hippy shoes was a pretty big deterrent.

When I turned 26, my mom made my dream come true with my first pair of Birkenstocks. I’ve been wearing them ever since. For four years. And not just occasionally. Pretty much daily from May to September.

The treads are well-worn, the straps are just starting to hint at breaking away from the cork soles, but I expect to still get another season or two from them.

They really are the holy trinity of sandals: comfortable, durable, and — can you believe it? — fashionable!

I have it from an extremely reliable source (ahem, Vogue) that Birkies are actually now in style (although, it was Vogue circa 2013… does that still count?).

In fact, it’s part of a movement toward what The Loop calls “ugly-chic,” which has seen Birkie-inspired sandals on the runways in fashion shows for the past two years.

Ugly-chic. Wonder if that applies to ponchos too…

30 Good Things Before 30: #2 – RockMyRun

It’s a rainy, rainy day here in my neck of the woods and, if the forecast holds, it looks like it’s going to stay that way until Friday!

Rainy day rhubarb. (By the way, it looks like we're going to have quite a crop this year. Any good rhubarb recipes out there?)

Rainy day rhubarb. (By the way, it looks like we’re going to have quite a crop this year. Any good rhubarb recipes out there?)

I officially start my training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon next week so, in the mean time, I’m trying to up my mileage to make the transition a little less painful. And because it’s rainy and 30-good-things-before-30because there’s a slew of construction workers tackling a project just outside my door, I opted to hit the treadmill today instead of venturing outside.

Which reminded me of something I think is awesome so I’m making it #2 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:

RockMyRun

I’ve been using RockMyRun since way back. Downloads from its website have seen me through three iPods and one marathon and now, as a smartphone user about to start training for Marathon #2, the RockMyRun app is a go-to for me.

RockMyRun_Logo_Tagline

RockMyRun provides running mixes, designed by professional DJs, specifically for running. You can search by genre, BPM and length to find the perfect mix for your day’s workout or, if you’re like me, you can just check out their newest mixes and always find something fresh there.

Today, for instance, I started off my run watching Sons of Anarchy on my phone (still two seasons behind so no spoilers, please!). This kept me distracted for the first three-quarters of my workout. Come the final mile or so, I realized I needed a little less biker drama and a little more musical motivation to finish strong. I threw on the RockMyRun app, brought up their freshly pressed mixes and was pounding out the last bit of my run to DJ Chris B’s World on Fire mix in no time.

Three things I really love about RockMyRun:

  1. It’s free – Yes, you can pay for a “Rockstar” membership to get access to some longer mixes but they’ve also maintained an awesome selection of free mixes so there’s plenty to listen to even if you’re cheap…er, thrifty like me.
  2. It’s flexible – You can stream songs directly from the app or download them to listen to later if you’re running into spotty reception, want to save your data, or just want to run with your iPod instead of your phone.
  3. It’s varied – The mixes include old and new tunes from the likes of Katy Perry to Metallica to George Jones, perfect for someone like me who loves all of these artists equally. Sometimes I’m content to run with Bruno Mars, sometimes I need some AC/DC to kick my butt in gear. RockMyRun has ’em all.

If you could use some new tunes for your workout, check out Rock My Run. Also, I should mention that I have not received any kind of compensation from RockMyRun for this post. I just think they rock… my run… and feel like they could rock yours too. 

Running for Karma

I’m the type to shy away from raising money for charity.

I think it’s because in my youth, I was a total joiner. I signed up for every damn team, club and committee. As such, I was constantly conducting bottle drives or bake sales and terrorizing the neighbourhood door-to-door peddling Girl Guide cookies or pestering for pledges.

I think it traumatized me.

That being said, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about giving back. My husband and I have worked hard and done well for ourselves. We have nutritious food on the table, a sturdy roof over our heads, and good health to pursue the activities we love. We still have a bounty of struggles and uncertainties, but on a global scale we’ve landed pretty firmly in a category of privilege.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Karma (perhaps a hangover from my 21-Day-Meditation Experience): the idea that what you put out into the world, you get back.

This is an interesting concept as training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon begins surfacing on my horizon. The thing about marathon training is it requires incredible levels of self-involvement.

Weekends with the family are instantly reduced by half: Sundays are run-days. Half of the day is spent on a long run. The other half? Recovering. (Not to mention, a good chunk of Saturday is focused on nutrition and route-planning.)

Throughout the week, regular household duties (laundry, dishes, cooking, brushing your dog’s teeth) fall by the wayside as interval runs, cross training and hill repeats take over. You are constantly running, planning your next run, or hungry because of all the running.

So wouldn’t it be great if something good came out of this? Something beyond being a faster (hopefully), stronger (maybe) and hungrier (definitely) person?

That’s why I’ve decided to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to support the mission of the Canadian Cancer Society.

I chose this charity because we’ve all been touched by cancer. And if you haven’t? Well, the unfortunate truth is you probably will be. The latest stats say about 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. One in 4 will die from the disease.

The money I raise will help fund research that is improving cancer treatments, preventing cancer and saving lives; provide reliable and up-to-date information on cancer, risk reduction and treatment; offer vital community-based support services for people living with cancer and their families; and advocate for healthy public policies.

The Canadian Cancer Society has conveniently set me up with a fundraising page here. I’ve set a goal of $300 and got the ball rolling with a small donation. I hope you’ll consider supporting me as well.

Your reward? Instant good Karma. 🙂

So that’s what 9 mph feels like…

In my quest to become a speedier runner, I’ve begun dabbling more seriously in interval training.

And by “more seriously”, I mean I’ve Googled “speed workouts for treadmills,” combed through the first page of results, and tried a grand total of two of them.

What you should know about me is that I’m a very, very lazy runner in one very, very specific way. I have no problem committing to a training plan and completing most of the runs and workouts on that plan. I have a very serious problem in actually sitting down to find a suitable training plan or modify an existing plan to fit my goals.

I blame the Internet. As a whole. Too many distractions. For example, over the past week when I could have been researching training plans I have instead devoted time to reading this, watching this, and playing this. (As you can see, my online pastimes are many, varied, and completely useless to all humankind.)

This particular brand of laziness makes me really appreciate it when a much more ambitious person than I documents their exact training regiments online so I can find them and replicate them; hence, the two interval workouts I’ve tried.

Advanced treadmill speed workout from Sparkpeople#1: Advanced Speed Program (Sparkpeople.com) – Sparkpeople is a super-handy website for those trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It can help you log food, exercise, and other wellness initiatives in one of the most supportive communities you can hope to find online. It also offers workout videos and, I recently discovered, some treadmill speed workouts. I skimmed through and was surprised to find the “Advanced” program looked to be about my speed. After printing it out and taking it for a test run, though, I found it was actually a bit below my speed. It was a happy discovery that even in a workout longer than 50 minutes, the maximum 6.9 mph pace felt pretty darn comfortable.

Speed-It-Up-Treadmill-Interval-Run_thumb #2: “Speed It Up” Treadmill Interval Workout (Sweet Tooth Sweet Life) – This one offered more of a challenge. So much of a challenge, in fact, that I wasn’t sure I should attempt it. Because, you see, I’ve never hit 9 mph on a treadmill before. 8 mph, sure. Maybe even an occasional 30 seconds at 8.2 if I’m feeling especially brave. But never 9 mph. I’ve always been terrified that I’d lose my footing and be ejected off the back, leaving an Alison-shaped hole in the wall. Against my better judgement, however, I decided to give it a try. And when I did, I soon heard those familiar voices: “Just tone it down a bit. Don’t bother hitting those high speeds. It’ll still be a good workout.” And I ignored them. And I pushed through. And I finished the whole damn thing.

On Pinterest this week, I found a running pin that said “If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not far enough.” May I suggest instead:

if-it-doesn't-scare-you

If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not fast enough. Pin it.

We’ll never know our limits ’til we hit ’em.

The easy part’s over…

So the easy part’s over.

I’ve done the paperwork and officially registered for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 18, 2015!

See you on Oct. 18, Toronto!

See you on Oct. 18, Toronto!

This is exciting for a number of reasons:

1. It’s not until October

I really love the idea of running marathons. Getting down to the business of training though? Not so much. Opting for a fall marathon instead of a spring one gives me some breathing room and allows me to extend my state of winter semi-hibernation just a little bit longer. It also means it’ll be more feasible to do my long training runs on the ground instead of the treadmill, better preparing me for real race conditions. Plus, I’ll be coming off a (hopefully) successful season of summertime running in some smaller local races so I’ll be primed and ready.

2. It’s a fast, flat course

If you go to the STWM website, that’s literally the first thing you’ll see at the top of the page: a boast that the race is fast, flat, and festive. Perfect for my first attempt at a sub-4:00 marathon. I’m not trying to test my lungs and legs on any heartbreak hills. I’m just trying to run fast(-ish)

3. It’s my first destination race

To date, I’ve always run in my own province, which has been awesome. It’s had me visiting nearby family, familiarizing myself with our running community, and earning some pretty sweet swag for completing all of New Brunswick’s major races.

A conversation with a Running Room salesperson a couple of months ago got me thinking though. I was looking at a new FuelBelt, and he was asking me what distances I run. I told him I’d probably be training for a marathon next, as I’d run the Fredericton Marathon last year and was looking to improve my time. We got talking and he recommended I look at running a big race.

“You’ll be with thousands of runners instead of just a few hundred,” he said. “You’ll never find yourself out there alone.”

The more I thought about it, the more this resonated with me. Ever watch Buzzfeed’s 8 Stages of Marathon Running?

#4: Isolation. That was me for a good chunk of my marathon last year.

It’s funny though. Even after that conversation, I put running a destination race out of my mind. It wasn’t practical, I thought. It’s too far away, too expensive, requires too much planning. Besides (and here’s the kicker) aren’t those big races just for “real” runners?

Because even though I’ve run a bunch of races, have a dozen or so medals and as many framed bibs hanging on my wall, there was still part of me that didn’t consider myself a “real” runner.

Well, screw that part of me.

I’m doing it. I’m making STWM 2015 happen.

The easy part’s over.