One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: Reflect and Prepare

It's the final countdown on TrainingPeaks


As they prepare for the Wineglass Marathon on October 4 using the AMR #FindYourStrong Marathon Challenge, Heather and Marianne, two long-distance BRFs taking on their first marathon, are sharing their experiences--and miles--weekly. Find all their posts here

Before running the race on Sunday, we wanted to take some time to reflect back on and honor the last 17 weeks of training. No matter what happens on October 4, we’ve both made some big improvements that are worth appreciating. Of course, we’re also looking ahead a bit.

Gorgeous "happy marathon week" flowers from BFF Nicole
Gorgeous "happy marathon week" flowers from non-running BFF Nicole. (Don't worry, I'm working on the non-running part.)


Overall Training Feelings


Love. So much love.
I have honestly loved 98% of this training. I loved the training plan – the variety, the flexibility, and the confidence it gave me. I loved the challenge group and the chatty, friendly, nonstop support that came with it. I loved the long runs and the women who came out of the woodwork to accompany me on them. I love feeling like I have four times as many friends now than I did when training started.


I am still surprised that over 17 weeks the only mandatory run I had to miss was to do a 5k race instead of an easy 6. The plan was challenging but I'm sticking with my assessment at 1/3 in that it was manageable. It was fantastic not to have to make a single decision for weeks on end or to have to self-motivate when I knew that I was reporting in here.

Post BRFWeek Long Run Smoothies
Post #BRFWeek Long Run Smoothies with a side of pretzel bread treat.


Biggest Change


I don’t think twice before calling myself a runner. And I think this has a lot less to do with the miles I covered or the pace I kept than with the commitment I made.


Before I started training, I was discussing it with a friend who has run a marathon. I commented that I wanted to have run a marathon but didn’t really often like a lot of the process of running. She told me that she hoped that changed or it would be a long and not so fun endeavor.

Thankfully, my perspective has shifted tremendously the past 4 months. I am more in love with running than I ever have been. On days I don’t have miles on the schedule I feel a little off and sad. Rather than feeling burnt out, right now I just feel like things are as they should be. And as Heather said, some of this is from feeling like such a part of the running community.

Marianne's Dad reminding her that taper has many meanings.
Marianne's Dad reminding her in an email that taper has many meanings.

Thoughts on the Taper


I've been enjoying it far more than expected, thanks to the busyness of the new job. My body went through some odd soreness/aches/pains at the beginning of the taper, and more than a couple psychosomatic illnesses (I hear this is called the “taper crazies?”) But it has all worked itself out. And on my Easy 4 last week, I was delighted to look down at my GPS and discover that the pace that I’d settled into, feeling easy, was only 10 seconds slower than race pace. And I do believe I have the rejuvenation of the taper to thank for that.


Loving it. I was pretty tired after week 14 and the 3 step back weeks made me happy to see that I am still thinking as it as “only” a 10 mile long run. Plus it was much cheaper to hire a sitter to cover runs that needed to happen when my partner was on a business trip.


We decided you shouldn't have to look at pictures of our feet over your morning banana and p.b., so here's a shot of my super cute Saucony Peregrine 5s instead.
We decided you shouldn't have to look at pictures of our feet over your morning banana and p.b., so here's a shot of my super-cute Saucony Peregrine 5s instead.


Toenail count


10/10. Almost lost one about halfway through training, but it hung in there.


All 10 accounted for! The middles are looking a little shabby but still intact.


Nuun and Soleus - Charging up inside and out


Race Prep - Mental, Physical, Emotional


The last four weeks have been filled with more late nights, work, takeout, and booze than I care to admit. Today (Sunday) I laid down the law with myself. This week my evenings will be spent at home lounging, centering, focusing, nourishing. I plan to fuel my body instead of stress eat, do a lot of visualizing success, and maybe a fair amount of binge-watching Breaking Bad (why did no one tell me how amazing this show is?)

I’m also going to be figuring out race day logistics. I’ve been depriving myself of my usual Spotify running playlist so that it’s nice and fresh for the marathon. I plan to have three windows open on my phone – my playlist, one of my friend Roger’s awesome mixes, and a podcast – so that I can easily switch back and forth depending on my mood. I need to buy some tube socks to make into disposable arm warmers, and figure out how to put “first marathon” on the back of my shirt.

And on Friday morning, I’ll get in my car and have a 5 hour solo drive to Corning. I love road trips, and am already excited about the forced meditation time.

I honestly can’t believe it’s here. As I sit writing this on Sunday afternoon, it blows my mind that at this time next week, I’ll be a marathoner. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement along the way – I will be carrying you in my heart as I run, wanting to make you all proud.


 Mental: I have been trying to practice visualizations as suggested in the sports psychologist podcast on AMR plus thinking about pain dissociation as suggested on Marathon Training Academy.

Physical: A few weeks ago I took a yoga for runners workshop that reinvigorated my commitment to my IT and glute routine. I am being very careful not to do something foolish to injure myself (e.g., try to carry Joyce and laundry simultaneously or taking a Zumba class and twisting something or jumping on trampolines).

Emotional: I am psyched to see that the weather is cooperating insofar as it not being hot. There's some flip flopping on rain but that's far preferable (to me) than a heatwave. Overall, I am a mix of excited and nervous but know that working the AMR Expo Booth will be a great distraction. And, as Heather said, your support over the past several months has been tremendous.

Parting Thoughts





We support the start of the AMR mission statement for we have found "strength, clarity and confidence through forward movement" and are ready to put it to use for 26.2 miles.

How do you spend the days before a big race? What other rituals should we incorporate into this week?

14 responses to “One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: Reflect and Prepare

  1. Mmm – the smoothie looks yummy – what’s in it? Oh, and good luck! I’ve really enjoyed reading about both of your journeys.

  2. Thank you for sharing this journey. I have enjoyed your posts and can feel you are both so ready. Enjoy every mile and I hope to see a post-race recap.

  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your journey. So happy Heather calls herself a “runner” without hesitation….so happy Marianne enjoyed the process, because otherwise it would have been miserable and pointless…in life, it is more important to enjoy the journey than look forward to the finish line… I am jealous that I won’t be running this marathon!

  4. And, I hate to be the bearer of weather news but pack your rain gear. It’ll most likely be wet and possibly cold at the start – reminiscent of my Wineglass in 2011.

  5. Love the dichotomy in your parting thoughts! Glad you both still have your toenails and can’t wait to witness you both cross that finish line!

  6. So impressed by both of you! Best of luck on Sunday…I ran my first half marathon a couple of weeks ago and the sign that inspired me the most along the way was “There is no feeling like the finish line!”

  7. Good luck this weekend ladies!!! Heather, use the skinny rolls of duct tape on your shirt. I also suggest putting your name on the front. You will be grateful for it at the hard miles when you have random strangers cheering for you. I will be cheering you ladies on from Michigan. 🙂

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