Making Changes and Developing Better Habits

Hey, guys!

I have a lot to say, but I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible.

First off, I decided to bag the Tunnel Marathon and run CIM instead. I couldn’t get my act together and decided that enjoying the summer was more important than training. I had a fabulous summer, so I know I made the right decision.

Third Eye Blind Concert

Rocking out to Third Eye Blind at Marymoor Park. Music from the 90s is the BEST.


Suncadia for my friend’s bachelorette party. We nicknamed that big mound in the background “Dirt Mountain.” We’re super clever.

Mount Rainier

Celebrating our second anniversary with a trip to Mount Rainier. It’s a big-ass mountain! And my dad once climbed to the top of it!

I’m now in my fourth week of training for CIM. The first two weeks were great – I was super pumped and feeling fit. The third week, I dealt with some non-running issues, which made it pretty impossible to train (sorry for the vague-blogging, but I don’t feel like going into detail). Now in my fourth week of training, I’m trying to get back on track.

And I’m having a hard time. A really hard time. It’s like I want to run the marathon, but I don’t want to do any of the work that running a marathon requires. Unfortunately, marathons don’t work that way, so I need to get my shit together ASAP as possible (name that show!).

I know that the only way I’m going to get through training is by making some changes and building better habits/routines. Here are the biggies:

  1. Run in the morning. This is a huge change for me. I used to run in the morning at my old job, but that was when I didn’t get to work until 9am. And I worked at a tech company, so I could look like a hobo and it didn’t matter. Now I work in a more professional office and have to be in at 8am, which means waking up at 5am. Waking up that early sucks, but running in the evening is just not working for me anymore.  In order to make this work, I’m committing to being IN bed (not getting ready for, but actually in bed ready to get my zzz’s on) at 9pm. I also bought a pre-workout energizer drink, so hopefully that helps.
  2. Make friends with the treadmill. Fall is here in Seattle, and it’s dark at 5am. I’m uncomfortable running in the dark at 5am by myself, which means I need to be OK with running on the treadmill. Is it ideal? Nope. But it’s my best option, so I need to accept it and not complain about it.
  3. Run less, Cross Train More. I need to make time in my life for activities other than running, specifically yoga. Life is busy, and yoga has fallen by the wayside this year. I started going again last week and quickly realized how much I’ve missed it. I’m making a commitment to go at least once or twice a week. I’m also going to sub out easy runs for spin class.
  4. Start blogging again. I’ve grown up a lot since I started this blog in 2011, and part of me has started to think that blogging is silly and self-absorbed (I mean, who really cares what workouts I did this week?). It may be silly, but I do like having a place to reflect and document my training, so I’m committing to blogging once a week this training cycle.

So stay tuned for more updates as I learn to love morning running! Hope you all have a great long weekend!

New Attitude About Running

In 2011, I ran my first marathon. Since I had previously labeled myself as a non-runner and never thought I could run 26.2 miles, I was so grateful and proud to be doing it. I knew that I was slow/average, but I didn’t care. My loose time goal was to finish in 4:15, and I came in at 4:21. I was happy and proud of myself — I didn’t care about those six minutes.

Finishing my first marathon. I was in shock that I actually did it.

Finishing my first marathon. I was in shock that I actually did it.

In 2012, I made my first attempt at running a sub 4-hour marathon (spoiler alert if you’re new to my blog: I am still chasing that goal). I no longer was happy just to finish; I had a specific goal in mind. I ended up missing the sub-4, but I finished in 4:03:23, an 18-minute PR. I was happy, but left wanting more.

Vancouver Marathon

For the last three years I have been chasing that sub-4, trying and failing numerous times. Success has been measured solely by finish times, and I have been frustrated by this plateau I can’t seem to break through. I’ve wasted so much energy comparing myself to other runners who seem to effortlessly run sub-4s and BQs. In short, I’ve felt like a loser and ashamed by my lack of progress. This is obviously not a fun way to approach running. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t run much for several weeks after the Honeywagon Half Marathon. Because I lost so much fitness during this time, there was a big part of me that wanted to bag the Tunnel Marathon in September. I mean, if I’m just going to run another 4:xx marathon, what’s the point?

Unfortunately, Dad seemed pretty fired up about the race, which made quitting a little more difficult. So I thought a lot about it, researching training plans and examining my old training logs.

The one thing I kept coming back to was how much I enjoyed my first training cycle. There were times when I got sick of training and the sacrifices it required, but overall it was my happiest and most satisfying training cycle. So I asked myself: What was different about this training cycle? How could I emulate this in the future?

Here are the key changes I’m implementing to make this training cycle more like my first:

I will not compare myself to other runners. When I ran my first marathon, I only read one running blog. By the time I ran my third marathon in 2012, I probably read six or seven, and the list has continued to grow. I’ve fallen into the comparison trap so many times, and I need to stop. Every runner is different. We all have different natural abilities, unique life circumstances that affect how much we can train, etc. Comparing myself to anyone — regardless if they are faster or slower than I am — is just dumb. 

I will work hard, have fun, and not stress about the outcome. I had a time goal for my first marathon, but really its only purpose was to guide my training. Although I am training for a sub-4, I am also aware that this is a really ambitious goal given my current fitness level.

I will make running fit into my life, rather than make my life fit into a training plan. Making this decision was so liberating. The reality is that I don’t have a ton of free time during the work week. I have a husband, a full-time job, and a 40-minute commute each way. I also like to sleep, and 5 a.m. is the earliest I’m willing to wake up to run. I don’t need to feel guilty about this! I’m not an elite runner — running is a nice highlight in my life, but it isn’t a focal point.

What does this mean from a training perspective?

This means that I’m not following a training plan: I’m going totally rogue on this one. I used to love training plans, but I haven’t followed one all year, and it’s working for me right now. I love the freedom of doing what I want when I want.

Essentially, I’m doing what works for me and what makes me happy. I’m going to work hard, do my best, and see what happens on September 13. I usually am pretty burnt out by the time I get to the end of a training cycle, but I’m hoping these changes will help me enjoy the process more.

Quick Update

Although I haven’t been writing about my running (or running a whole lot in general), I’ve been thinking a lot about my running.

Quick note about why I haven’t been running. Two weeks after the Mercer Island Half, I ran the Honeywagon Half Marathon and finished with a two-minute PR. I was super excited to finally make some progress and felt optimistic about tackling a fall marathon.

Honeywagon Half Marathon

Unfortunately, shortly after the race, I got super busy at work. I worked long days, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice sleep for running. Also, at the end of a 12-hour day, the last thing I wanted to do was run. So I didn’t. On the weekends, I was tired and had commitments/things that took a lot of time (like buying a new car – yay!). I also got sick (I was sick on my 30th birthday – boo!), so that didn’t help. For about two months, my weekly mileage fell from 25 miles/week to about 6/week. Not exaggerating.

Which brings me to today, technically the second week of training for the Tunnel Lite Marathon. I feel out of shape, which isn’t awesome when I’m embarking on a new training cycle. Running a decent marathon in 15 weeks seems pretty impossible.

So should I quit?

A big part of me for the last month has said: Yes, Megan, quit. You can’t run a good marathon so what’s the point. 

What’s the point? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself for months, even when my running was going well. When you look at it rationally, marathon training seems pretty silly.

Well, here’s the point: It’s good for me to do hard things. And it’s also good for me to follow through and not quit even though I know I can’t be perfect. There are other points, of course, but these are the key ones for me right now.

In my decision to not quit, I’ve also thought a lot about how I want to train for this marathon. I’m pretty excited about how I’m approaching this training cycle, but I’ll save those rambling for another post.

Have a great weekend!

Mercer Island Half Marathon and What’s Next

Two weeks ago I ran my first half marathon of the year. My “A” goal for the race was a sub 1:55 finish, but given my lack of hill training and the hilly course, my main goal was to finish sub 2. My last half was the disaster Snohomish Half (2:15) and I hadn’t finished a half marathon sub 2 in a year and half, so I really wanted to finish with a 1 on the clock.

Mission accomplished!

Mercer Island Half MarathonGoing into the race, I felt relatively confident with my training (aside from my lack of hill work). Since CIM, I’ve been running five times a week, about 25-30 miles a week. Most of my runs have been at an easy/comfortable pace, but I have thrown in some tempo runs and a little speed work.

The race raises money for colon cancer. Hence, this giant colon at the expo. Super weird.

The race raises money for colon cancer. Hence, this giant colon at the expo. Super weird.

The first eight miles were relatively uneventful. Around mile 8, I started feeling a little tired and by mile 10, my legs were toast.

Christina and I walked through the aid station around mile 10.5 so I could grab water to wash down my GU. As I drank my water, Christina told me that she felt pretty good. I told her I felt like crap and that she could run ahead.

Running solo, I focused on getting to the finish line. There were many times I felt like I was moving at a glacial pace and wanted to walk, but I told myself, keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how fast I’m going, just keep moving forward.

That became my motto for the rest of the race. Eventually I made it to the finish line and was thrilled with my finish time and my even pacing. 1:55:50 is two minutes off from a PR and a solid start to my racing season.

What’s next?

For the first time in twoish years, I am genuinely excited about running and I’m itching to train for a marathon. There were several times this winter when I was tempted to sign up for a spring marathon, but I resisted. I realized that I wanted to sign up for a marathon because I was restless, not because I wanted to put the time and effort in to run a PR race.

To ease my restlessness, I took on a few household projects (re-decorating the entry-way, making my own kombucha, cooking and freezing delicious meals to eat when I don’t feel like cooking, etc.).

Oh, I forgot to mention earlier, but I also got a job and started the first week in January! I’m working at a small non-profit, and I really dig it. It’s definitely the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s keeping me pretty busy.

But, back to running. I’m not restless anymore: I’m ready to train. I’m ready to commit myself to a goal and do what it takes to achieve that goal.

Dad and I are considering running Light at the End of the Tunnel Lite, which is September 13. Registration opens April 15, so we have a little time to make a decision. More on that later!

CIM Race Report


This is so overdue that I considered not posting a recap, but I decided that it was a special day and I would like a record of it.

It’s important to mention that CIM was a big question mark for several weeks leading up to the race. After my disaster at the Snohomish Half, I had no interest in running CIM and was convinced that running the marathon would be a very mean thing to do to myself. But in the end, after changing my mind at least a dozen times, I decided to do it. And I’m glad I did.

California International Marathon

Dad had knee surgery on October 31 (oddly the same day I was laid off) and couldn’t run the marathon. But since he had paid for his registration and his knee was healing nicely, he was able to run parts of the marathon with me. He started and finished the race with me, and his support got me through the race.

We took the shuttle to the start, arriving about an hour before the race started. After wasting time doing the typical pre-race stuff (such as going to the bathroom and then immediately hoping back in line for the porta potty), we positioned ourselves in front of the 4:25 pacer, listened to the national anthem, and then we were off!

The race started on a nice downhill and then the rolling hills began. Knowing I was under-trained, I made a conscious effort to keep the pace super easy and hoped that proper pacing would get me to the finish line.

After two miles, we spotted John on the right side of the ride. Before peeling off, Dad reminded me that he and John would be at mile 10, and that he would run miles 10-12 with me.

Feeling lonely and a little scared, I concentrated on getting to mile 10. At mile 8, I walked through the water station to hydrate and take a GU, and the 4:25 pace group passed me. That was a low moment, but I tried to brush it off, telling myself there was plenty of time to catch up with them.

I saw Dad and John at mile 10, and Dad joined me for the next two miles. Dad reminded me to stay in the moment and not to compare myself to myself. I sadly dropped Dad off with John around mile 12.5, and I eventually made it to the halfway point at 2:12:30.

At mile 14, I started feeling really sorry for myself. I was tired and worried how I would finish the race. Tired with 12 miles to go — not a good feeling. And then the perfect song played on my iPod:

‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.

I smiled and thought: Eminem, you totally get me; this is exactly how I feel. This shit sucks.

But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse

The lyrics woke me up and removed me from the pity party I had started in my head. Smiling like a fool, I played the song again and resolved to not give up. I accepted that this wasn’t going to be a good time (for me), but I was still going to give it my all.

Knowing that I would see Dad and John at mile 16 also helped me stay positive. About 20 minutes later, I saw them and waved.

After running by Dad and John, I started the countdown until mile 20. We planned for Dad to run miles 20-26.2, and I was looking forward to the company. I got through the next four miles by trying to enjoy the race as much as I could. I distracted myself by thanking the volunteers and spectators. High-fiving the kids and spectators. Reading the signs. For the first time in a marathon, I wasn’t dreading mile 20; I was looking forward to it.

Right on time, I saw Dad and John at mile 20. Dad started running with me, and I yelled to John: “See you at the finish line!” Dang, it felt good to say that.

Compared to other marathons, I actually felt pretty good at mile 20. I was tired, but nothing hurt that badly and my energy levels had stayed pretty consistent throughout the race.

At mile 21, Dad turned to me and said, “Just five more.” I laughed and thought of my nephew Ryder, who is obsessed with saying “just five more.”

It doesn’t matter what you say to Ryder, he always wants five more. For instance, you could say, “Ryder, 15 more minutes until bed time.” To which he would look at you really seriously, squint his eyes, hold up his right hand and say, “No, five more.”

I was tired, but I was happy that my pace was staying pretty consistent. I kept chugging along, counting down the miles.

The last mile of CIM is pretty terrible — it’s a long straightaway until you turn left toward the Capitol building. I kept willing the turn to come faster. I also willed Dad to not leave me (he didn’t cross the finish line). By this point, I was really tired and so ready to be done.

Finally, I made the turn and at the last possible moment, Dad peeled off the course. I saw the finish line and tried to soak it in as I finished my seventh marathon.

I had and still have very mixed emotions about this marathon. On one hand, it was my slowest marathon time ever (4:27:26). So that doesn’t feel very good.

But it was also my most evenly paced marathon, which I attribute to smart pacing and fueling. It meant a lot to receive such great support from my dad and husband. It was a team effort, and I couldn’t have made it through the race without them. Being able to see them so many times on the course kept my spirits up and helped me break the race into manageable chunks.

Team Megan

Team Megan

I had two reasons for running this race:

1. Because I’m stubborn and didn’t want to quit. Mission accomplished!

2. Because I thought it would inspire Dad and me as we make plans for 2015. Check! More on this later, but let me just say this: 2015 is my year. The fire is back, and I’m determined to make this my best year of running.

20 Miles

In my last post, I talked about feeling burnt out, etc. I took a short break from running, which didn’t help. I still felt like crap and didn’t want to run. My solution? I haven’t been running very much. Which makes total sense when you’re a few weeks away from a marathon..

Instead of running, I’ve spent the last few weeks debating what I should do re: CIM. For a few days, I would be 100% sure that I was running it. Then I would go for a run, it would suck, and I’d be out. In the last month, I have changed my mind about CIM at least 10 times.

To add a little context, three weeks ago I was laid off. It was super unexpected and has added a new layer of stress to my life. On the bright side, I am convinced that I will get a better job and it will work out in the end. But right now? Right now I’m in what they call a “transition” period, and it’s pretty tough for the control freak in me.

Back to running. My heart has not been in it, but I think I may be turning the corner.

Monday morning, I was applying for jobs and had the New York City Marathon playing in the background (I already watched it the day of the race, but for whatever reason I saved it on the DVR). Watching it, I remembered why I run marathons and realized that I want to run CIM. I knew I needed one more 20 miler (my only 20 mile run was more than two months ago), so I checked the weather forecast and decided on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, I woke up earlyish (early for an unemployed person = 7 a.m.) and ran 20 miles. I won’t sugar coat it: The last few miles really hurt. My hips and legs ached, but my heart was happy.

I didn’t worry about pace at all; I ran completely by feel and just tried to keep it comfortable. Around mile 12, I started naturally running a little faster, and I ended up negative splitting the run. When my watch read 20, it felt so satisfying.

Even though I’m nowhere near PR shape, I’m really excited for CIM. I have two simple goals for the race: To finish, and to be grateful that I’m healthy and able to run 26.2 miles. It’s going to be awesome. 16 days!

I hit the wall

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve hit a rough patch, but I was optimistic and ready to take on the rest of my training.

Well, less than 48 hours after posting that, I ran a half marathon. And it sucked big time. By mile 2, I was sucking wind and had a side ache. By mile 4, I was contemplating a DNF. And by mile 6, I started walking. A lot.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.16.55 AMNeedless to say, I was super frustrated. I’ve put in a lot of miles (averaging 150 miles/month for the last three months, which is a lot for me) and yet I am getting slower and slower.


At first I chalked it up to the fact that I’ve lost speed. That may be the case, but I don’t think it’s the only problem.

When I looked back at my training log, I realized that my running has been pretty rocky this entire month. The first bad run was on October 5 (18 mile long run). My long run pace is pretty slow (75 seconds slower than goal marathon pace), so I generally have to pull back to hit this slow pace. Not this run. I struggled a lot, walked quite a bit, and almost cut the run short.

Since then, running in general has just felt harder than normal. Paces that should feel easy or comfortably hard have felt tough. I have dreaded my runs and have absolutely no competitive drive.

As an example of my lack of competitive drive and my “I don’t give a shit” attitude, Christina and I stopped to take pictures of cows during last week’s half marathon. Yeah, we are a little odd…

photo-43Originally I thought my burnout was just mental, but now I think there is a physical component as well. I’ve been training for a long time, and I think my body is tired and a little over-trained.

So I’ve decided to take a week off from running. No cross training either. I might do a little yoga, but my priority for the next seven days is to get lots of rest and re-charge for this last bit of training.

Taking time off this close to the race isn’t ideal, but at this point I don’t think I have a choice. If I show up to CIM in the same state I showed up to my half marathon, I won’t make it to the finish line.

Last year I had to take four days off from running about a month before CIM to deal with my shin splints. The break did wonders not only for my shin splits but also for my attitude: I went on to finish up my training and run a really solid marathon.

Fingers crossed this helps.

Also, my dad is having surgery tomorrow to repair his torn meniscus. Please send healing thoughts his way!