Tips for Running Your Best Boston Marathon

TGIF!  Another training week checked off!  What a week of weather (again!) It snowed twice here in Asheville. Fortunately it didn’t linger unlike the poor souls in the Northeast!


Today I’m hooking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run for the weekly #FridayFive link up. This is a very fun link up and if you have a blog I hope you join in! You can find out more about it here on Courtney’s blog along with a list of upcoming themes.

The theme for today is “Free Friday”. Since I have Boston Marathon on the brain I thought I would share some of my favorite websites I have found with helpful tips for running your best Boston Marathon.

1. Tips for Running  Your First Boston Marathon- MarathonKoach

This is a great site with very helpful information for someone running their first Boston Marathon. It includes tips on where to stay, where to eat, the Expo, what to do while you are in town, and of course race day logistics.


2. 11 Golden Rules for Running a Successful Boston Marathon-

This article includes some great pre-race tips as well as some tips on how to handle the 4 miles of downhill running at the start that can beat  up your quads and if not run smart bust your PR dreams!

3. 10 Tips to Tame the Hills of Boston- Runner’s Connect

Runner’s Connect has many great articles on preparing for and running the Boston Marathon.  This particular article focuses on the hills. Tips include how to incorporate hill training and pylometrics into your routine, getting cozy with your foam roller, drinking tart cherry juice for its anti-inflammatory properties and working on the mental side of running hills.

Boston Marathon Runners


4. Four Key Workouts to Prepare for the Boston Marathon Course- Runner’s Connect

Keeping with the theme of conquering the Newton Hills, Coach Jeff shares some race specific hill workouts.

5. Three Race Day Quirks You Must Prepare for  in the Final Days of Training for the Boston Marathon- Runner’s Connect

Another great article from Coach Jeff, here he shares tips on how to prepare for the mid-morning start time by starting your long runs later in the morning.  Also he covers how to practice pacing so as to not go out too fast at the start of the race especially on the downhill.  One tip I thought was really great was how to train for the weather.  All my training has been in 15-35 degree weather while race day will likely be 40-70 degrees. He suggests dressing to be too warm on your runs in the days leading up to the marathon so to be ready for a warm race day.

* I added these other two websites because they are so valuable and I found it hard to cut them from the list. The first is a video by Coach Luke Humphrey, professional runner with the Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project. The video is a bit long but worth watching all the way through. He talks about the course mile by mile and at the end he has some great tips about preparing for the weather including the wind. Key take away point:  be patient the first half of the course and you will finish strong.

Running Your Best Boston Marathon- Luke Humphrey

Boston Marathon Pace Calculator- Runner’s Connect- Runner’s Connect

Plug in your race time goal and the calculator will spit out your target pace for each mile of the course taking in to consideration every hill. It will make sure you don’t go out to fast and have enough left in the tank to finish BOSTON STRONG!

Have you run the Boston Marathon? Are you training to qualify for Boston? What tips do you have to share?



Top Five Races to Run in Asheville

TGIF!  This week has flown by (thankfully). The weather has been rough across the country. In Asheville we have been hit with ice and snow and temps below 0 degrees!  So not typical of this area!

I’m hooking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run for the weekly  #FridayFive link up. The theme for today is “Five Races to Run in 2015.”  This is a very fun link up and if you have a blog I hope you join in! You can find out more about it here on  Courtney’s  blog  along with a list of upcoming themes.

Today I thought I would share a few of my favorite races to run in Asheville in case you are inspired to road trip and tie it in with a race!

1. Coming up in a couple of weeks on March 15 is the Asheville Marathon and Half Marathon. Held on the beautiful grounds of the Biltmore Estate,  iDaph Events puts on a great race. The only thing to keep in mind is weather can be iffy.

Courtesy of iDaph Events


2. Another great race held on the Biltmore Estate in May is the Biltmore Kiwanis 15k/5k. I do this race every year with my dad. It was my first race to run! I love coming back to it and seeing how much I have improved.

3. Asheville is known as “Beer City USA” with more breweries per capita than anywhere in the country!  Here you can find out more info on exploring the craft brew scene in Asheville. One race director has come up with a series of races called, “Race to the Taps.”  It’s a series of 6 races held between April and October each being held at different breweries around the area. This is the first year for this event and I’m excited to run a couple of them!  Each race ends at a brewery with a complimentary pour. Food trucks and live music will be a part of the post race festival at the finish.

4. August is the hottest month in Asheville and a great time to head to the trails for the Springmaid Splash.  From the Carolina Runner, ” This run is tough, wet, and wild. YOU WILL GET WET! You will run along flat fields next to the river, and through the river four times. Paths wind through mountain laurel, challenging HILLS, numerous switchbacks, singletracks, soft sand, alongside ponds, over roots and rocky spots. The entire loop is “run-able,” but is totally acceptable to walk parts of the course. It is a great SUMMER COOL DOWN! ”

Now We’re Splashing! Courtesy of Mount Mitchell Races


5. The Thomas Wolfe 8k is a longstanding fall tradition. It is a great course that runs through downtown and the historic Montford neighborhood. Held in October the temperature is perfect for racing and trees are usually at peak fall colors. The date for 2015 has not been set.


If you are looking for a destination race in Asheville or western North Carolina I highly recommend The Carolina Runner.  Dennis’ site is the most comprehensive for races in the area and has grown to include races across North Carolina and South Carolina.

What race are you looking forward to in 2015?


Boston Marathon Training Weeks 3 & 4


I’m a bit behind in posting my training for the Boston Marathon! There have been a few life distractions. In my last post I told you I had a couple of skin cancers removed. Well, one of them became infected and I had to start antibiotics. I’m so happy to have completed the course and the wound is looking great.

My back unfortunately continues to give me some fits. I have a couple of trigger points in the right shoulder area that just won’t let go.  My physical therapist has been pounding away at them. It isn’t hampering my training but I’d like for them to be gone!  It was interesting today in our session she decided to work on my diaphragm as she felt it might be limiting my thoracic extension.  It was amazing. After 5 minutes she had me stand up and lean back and I had about 5-10 degrees more extension!  I’m fortunate to have Amira on my team!

Training has been going really well! I ran my first of three 20 milers on February 7th. It was a beautiful day with some great friends.


This past week has been a relatively down week.  Tuesday was a progression workout that I just was not motivated to do!  I also was a little concerned about pushing the effort with a newly diagnosed infection.  My sister-in-law happens to be an infectious disease physician so I turned to her for advice.  Since I did not have a fever and there wasn’t much drainage she felt it would be ok to run.  Not the answer I was looking for!  I really just wanted a decent excuse not to run!  One of the Oiselle Volee’ team members, Allie Bigelow, gave the best advice to just go run a couple of miles and if it felt ok then try the workout.  That was all the nudge I needed.  I nailed the workout and was glad I did it!


This past Saturday I raced a 10k in the middle of my long run. It was a wicked cold and windy day on a hilly course. Despite all that and coming off the 20 miler the week before, I was able to pull off another 10k PR and win 1st place Female Masters! The swag was sweet including a couple of gift certificates and a sweet handmade vase! I think I’m learning how to be better at racing shorter distances. I’m relying less on my watch and going by how I feel. I frequently check in with myself,  “Can I hold this pace for a mile? Can I push a little?”  I surprised myself with my kick at the end at a 6:49 pace.  The stride work post easy runs is working!!


Post race celebration with track club friends
Post race celebration with track club friends

It’s hard for me to post my paces here and on Strava. I run soooo slow on my easy runs relative to others I follow. My race days and PRs remind that I’m doing the right thing by keeping my easy runs and long runs at a pace that I can easily carry a conversation.

Week 3- 43 miles

Monday:  4-5 miles very easily with 6 light 20sec strides post run + core: 5 miles at 10:30 with strides.

Tuesday:  7-8 miles total; 3 miles warmup; 3 x 10min @ 8:55-9:00, 8:47-8:52, and 8:40-45 pace with 2min easy jog btw each; easy cool down post. : 8mi total-(8:58, 8:47, 8:40) felt good. Pretty easy.

Wednesday:  OFF

Thursday:  5-6 miles easy running: 6 @ 10:14. Great run.

Friday:  3-4 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run : 4 at 9:48. Strides are getting quicker. Turnover is snapping. Touched sub-5 for the first time.

Saturday:  19-20 miles relaxed running– 20 miles at 10:20. A great run with girlfriends.

Sunday:  Off

Week 4- 35 miles:

Monday:  4-5 miles very easily with 6 light 20sec strides post run + core:  5 miles at 10:30.  Felt good coming of the 20 miler.

Tuesday:  8-9 miles total; 3 miles easily; 4 mile progression from 9:00-05 down to 8:35-40 pace; easy cool down: 9mi. 15mph head wind. 9:09, 8:52, 8:46, 8:35. This was tough because of the head wind. Half was into the wind, half with the wind at my back. A good workout.

Wednesday:  Off

Thursday:  5-6 miles easy running– 6 miles at 10:09. Felt good.

Friday3-4 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core. 4 miles at 10:12.  Strides are consistently getting better.

Saturday:  Off

Sunday:  12-13mi- Frostbite 10K. 3mi warm up, 10k, 3-4mi cool down. 25D, 15mph winds. 11 mi.  Overall female master 51:09! Last 200m I was running 6:49! Bitter cold, windy and hilly. Good race, good workout. Dealing with some back pain. (8:25, 7:53, 8:36, 8:35, 8:42, 8:13, 6:49)


How do you find motivation to get out and run on days that you are just not feeling it?



Boston Marathon Training Week 2- Jan 26-Feb 1


Week two of training for the Boston  Marathon – complete!

It’s been a good week of running.  My body is feeling stronger.  I think all the attention to eating iron rich food is paying off!

My training for the marathon has been more enjoyable this time.  I have found more people to run with and that just helps the miles fly by.  Also, I’m finding I enjoy 20 degree weather much more than 70 degrees with 95% humidity!

I had a really cool serendipitous moment this week.  I was in Starbucks sitting and reading the paper when I glanced over at the table next to me and noticed a woman reading a book that I recognized. On the cover was a picture of a woman I owe for being the first to inspire me to start running!  I met Lynn Edwards over 15 years ago.  It was a brief encounter but one that I’ll never forget.  Lynn, you see, was the first to plant the seed in my head that it is never too late to start running!  When I met her she was in her mid 70s.  She was kind and very humble.  She told me she liked to run. I asked how much and expected her to say 5 or so miles.  Her reply, ” I run marathons.” I was speechless!  She then went on to share how she also loved to do triathlons and had competed in the Ironman at Kona. I asked if it was a special Ironman for seniors and her reply, “Oh no, we do the same one the young ones do.”  I was curious to how her joints were holding up to which she stated, “Oh, they’re fine.  I didn’t start running until my 50s.”  She discovered the athlete within her in her 50s and went on to set records at Kona in her 70s!  She is 90 now and still running!  Years have passed and I lost touch with her.  She now is in Atlanta with her family.  When I ran my first marathon last fall I wanted to find her and tell her thank you. The woman in Starbucks knows Lynn and gave me her address. I am so excited to be able to write to her and tell her thank you. Thank you, Lynn, for inspiring me that day so long ago!  It was 15 years later at the age of 49 when the seed you planted bloomed and  I found in myself a runner.


This week of training (from Coach Ryan Warrenburg, Zap Fitness)

Monday– 4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core– 5 miles at 10:15 with strides x 6.  Nice and easy early morning run with girlfriends. Great time catching up on weekend events.

Tuesday– 6-7 miles; 3 miles warmup; fartlek run of 2 x (4min-3-2-1) with 90sec easy jog btw each piece and 3min btw sets; start 4min piece in the 8:40 range and work down a 5-10sec/mile on each shorter piece – keep the recovery at normal day easy pace; finish feeling like you could do another set without a problem; easy cool down-  Cold and windy. A really miserable day. Fortunately my running buddy, Cullen, joined me. We had a really strong workout.  7 miles total. Set 1:(8:40, 8:26, 8:24, 8:08), Set 2: (8:41, 8:32, 8:14, 8:08).

WednesdayOff + core

Thursday4-5 miles easy running–  4.5 miles at 10:08. Another early morning run with my girlfriends.  Starting to feel strong again on hills.  I think my iron level is picking up.

Friday– 3-4 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core– 3.5 miles at 9:55 plus strides x 6.  It was really hard to get out the door and run. It was cold. It was windy.  But I’m glad I did. This was a great little run. It felt easy. Effortless. I felt like my old self. A definite shift.

Saturday– 16-17 miles relaxed running– 17 miles at 10:22. Fun run with a group of 6 women. 3 hung in there for 10 miles. I ran 7 more on my own.  I was tired by mile 16 but able to keep a nice easy pace.  Nice nap afterwards!

Sunday- OFF

Best running friends make the miles fly by!


How was your week of training?  Who was the first to inspire you to start running?

Boston Marathon Training Week 1- Jan 19-25


So my journey to Boston began this week.  It was a much better week of training than last week. I think changing drugs for my belly helped settle that problem down so I have been resting better.


The week ended with a race- The Asheville Hot Chocolate 10k.  Inside I was really dreading it and secretly trying to find a way out of running it.  Given how I’ve been feeling recently during my runs I didn’t think I had it in me to perform well. To put it bluntly, I didn’t want to embarrass myself!

The weather was looking iffy for the weekend and I thought I would be able to use an excuse of ice as a way of getting out of it. No luck. As you can see by the weather radar pick below, the storm parted with snow going north and raining heading south.  Asheville was spared and the race was on!


The Hot Chocolate 10k is one of Asheville’s biggest races.  I think because of it being one of the first races of the year and being a 10k a lot of people come out for it (around 800 runners.) I love it because it’s a great time to see running friends that I haven’t seen since the previous fall races.

My warm up sucked. 3 miles of heavy legs. I was really dreading the race. About 15 minutes before the start I popped a caffeinated GU and did some strides and high knee drills. I was really anxious at the start line. It was then I decided to let go of any goals or expectations and just run the best race I could that day.

The course is an out and back. The first mile is a steep downhill; I had to hold myself back a little. People were passing me left and right. I locked in to about an 8:10 pace for miles 2-4. At the turn around we were met with a brutal headwind.  I asked a guy running next to me if he wanted to take turns drafting. He kind of smirked. I took the lead first. I guess I was too slow for him as he quickly passed me. I tucked in behind him and sat on him for 1/2 a mile.  The pace felt a little slow (8:20) but any time I tried to cut out away from him I was working hard to keep an 8:15. I decided to settle in behind him and relax in the 8:20 pace saving energy for the big climb at the end. A picture is worth a thousand words. You can see the hill on my Strava post. It was a beast. My pace slowed to 11:40!! Everyone around me was walking, I refused.



My finish time was 52:48- a 2:30 course PR and 20sec overall PR! I’ll take it!  The icing on top was Top Grandmaster Female. Awesome swag came with this including the beautiful mug below.  The best part of the day was the lesson learned at the start line.  Some of the best races happen when you just run!


This week of training– (from Zap Fitness Coach Ryan Warrenburg)

Goal 27-32 miles-  31.3 miles

Monday4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core- 5@ 10:43.(last mile 10:03-uphill). Early morning. Strides x 6.

Tuesday7-8 miles total; 3 miles easily; light 3 mile progression from 9:00-05 down to 8:40-45 pace; easy cool down- 8miles- 3.5 warm up, 9:00, 8:50, 8:45, 1.5 mile cool down. Ran with a girlfriend who is at same level, same stride and also training for Boston. Nice to do workouts with someone else. Helps the pain pass faster! Beautiful day. Felt good. 

Wednesday- Off + core x20

Thursday4-5 miles easy running- 5miles at 10:18. Early morning run with girlfriends. Felt good.

Friday3-4 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core- Cold, rainy. 3.3 miles at 9:48 with strides x 6 plus core work. Good pre-race shakeout. 

Saturday9-10 miles total; 2-3 miles warmup (if its below 40 make sure you go on the longer end); 10k Race; 1 mile easy cool down-Hot Chocolate 10K-10miles total- 3 mile warmup, 1 mile cool down. 35 degrees, 15mph winds. Head wind on back half. Beast of a hill at end. PR 52:40, Grandmaster. 2:30 course PR over 2014. 20sec overall PR. Splits: 7:45, 8:08, 8:10, 8:13, 8:28, (9:40, 9:20.-hill) For a comparison, my splits last year: 7:49, 8:46, 8:39, 8:36, 8:45, 9:53, 9:32.

Sunday– OFF

11 weeks until the Boston Marathon!

How was your week? Did you race?


#FridayFive- Five Things About Me

TGIF! Today I’m linking up with EatPrayRunDC, YouSignedUpForWhat? and MarOnTheRun for the #FridayFive. This week’s theme is, “Five Things About Me.”  I had fun digging through old pictures for today’s post. So let’s get to it!

1. I was born in Boston!  My dad was in the Air Force at the time, stationed at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My growing up years were mainly in Texas (Fort Worth, Abilene and Lubbock.) I later moved back to Boston in my 20s.  My family roots are actually in Boston.  John Winchester came over in the 1600s and squatted land which is now Brookline (at that time called, “the Muddy District.)  In my heart I belong in Boston. It’s in my blood!  Can’t wait to run there this spring!  Love that Muddy Water!

2. I’ve volunteered around the globe for Habitat for Humanity including Costa Rica, Kenya, India and Nepal.  My favorite trip has been to Kenya. It was an all women’s build. After we finished building the homes we spent a few days on safari!

Hauling rock to be crushed to make the foundation for the house.- Kenya
Hauling rock to be crushed to make the foundation for the house.- Kenya
Home dedication-Nepal
Home dedication-Nepal

3. In 2001 some girlfriends and I rode our bicycles across Iowa with RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). If you love to cycle this should be on your bucket list! About 500 miles over the course of a week with about 10,000 other cyclists!  It is one wild and crazy time!  My motivation each day was to try to find home baked chocolate chip cookies in each of the towns we passed through.

Pancake break! With my best girlfriend, Diane.
Pancake break! With my best girlfriend, Diane.

4. Some girlfriends and I spent a week hiking the Grand Canyon off the North Rim. The first day my pack weighed 60lbs! It was so heavy because we had to bring in water for the first 2 days and stash water for the last day’s hike out. It was an amazing journey.  The Canyon is a magical place.  I highly recommend a trip there and if you are fit enough, do some hiking.  It’s spectacular.

image5. Last tidbit of info about me, I met my husband through!  Yep!  It was a great experience. Several of my friends have met their spouses through Match as well.

imageSo there you have it!  Now your turn!  Tell me one thing about you.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!  Be blessed!



Day 1- Training for the Boston Marathon!

Well today is the kick off day for my training for the Boston Marathon!  5 easy miles this morning with three great girlfriends followed up with post run strides (6x20sec).  These women are my core running group.  I am so thankful to have them!  No flakes in this group!  If they say they are going to show up then I know they will be there- rain, snow, dark, or cold.



Now I know some of you are saying, “What?? You are just now starting your training for Boston?!”  Not really, I’ve been training for months working on my base.  My coach, however, likes to keep training blocks for marathons to 12 weeks.  He finds that training longer than that can be mentally exhausting and people tend to peak before the race.  I know that I’ve got three 3-week blocks each ramping up to a 20+mi run then a 3 week taper to race day!  I’ll be posting weekly updates of the ups and downs of training. Thanks for following along!

So here’s to the crazy ones!  Proud to be a part of that tribe called marathoners!



What race are you training for right now?






My week of Training: January 11-17


It’s hard for me to share this post.  I’m one that tends to talk about only the good in my life. I don’t like talking about the bad but that’s not being honest.  About a month after that race I ran a 5k and performed horribly. Well, it felt horrible. I was short of breath even on the downhills! My legs just wouldn’t turn over quick and they lacked that certain “snap.” I was confused as I thought I should have PR’d coming off of all that marathon training.  My runs in general were sluggish; I was sleeping a lot and I was irritable.  My coach suggested I get my ferritin level (iron level) checked and sure enough it was low…really low. I wasn’t, however, anemic.

Why is ferritin important to runners? To put it simply, the body needs ferritin to make red blood cells and red blood cells are what carry oxygen to our muscles. More RBCs=more oxygen=more speed. Here is a link to a good article about ferritin and it’s importance in runners.

I started taking iron pills in mid-November. Those of you who have taken them know they can cause a lot of GI upset.  By Christmas my stomach was torn up and I had to stop them and go on medicine for gastritis. With all this stomach stuff my back has become unhappy with muscle spasms from the referred pain from the belly. I haven’t been sleeping well either.  Suffice it to say, running has suffered a bit.  I was beginning to get anxious about training for Boston.

Last week I finally saw my doctor and we figured out  a regimen of drugs to settle down my stomach and I am happy to report it’s working!  Happier stomach=happier back=better sleep = happier Mary.  All that adds up to better training.  It will be a couple of weeks before I can resume iron pills so in the mean time I’m making sure that I focus on  iron rich foods like clams, oysters, beef, and kale. Vitamin C is important, too, as it enhances iron absorption but I can’t have citrus right now so I’m getting it in the form of strawberries, kiwi and sweet potatoes.

This past week of training started off rough but after seeing my doctor mid-week things started turning around. I was pleasantly surprised by my long run Saturday.

Other good things this week:

I found out I was chosen to run for Team Zensah!  I love their compression sleeves. They really make a difference in my recovery.  Be on the look out for a review and give away in the near future!

My 85 year old dad ran the Houston Chevron 5k on Saturday.  He was the oldest runner and finished 900 out of 4700 runners!  His finishing time of 27:53 was a minute faster than last year!  He attributes it to increasing his volume and adding strides (he finally listened to my suggestions!) I am soooo proud of him!  He continues to be a source of huge inspiration.

Training for Boston officially starts tomorrow!

Monday–  (4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core)– Skipped it. I had not slept well the night before and just felt poorly.

Tuesday– 6-7 miles with a gentle fartlek run within the middle of run of 2 x (3min-2-1) with an easy 2 min jog btw each; Rough.  Lots of hills. My quads really burned. I’m thinking it was the medicine I was on (Prilosec). My quads weren’t burning like this in November or December.  I stopped it and was started on Protonix.

Wednesday– OFF + core- Rest day. 20min of core work.

Thursday– 3-4 miles easily-  4 at 10:15. Felt good. 

Friday– 4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core– 5 @ 10:03 with strides ranging 6:30 ->5:30. A good run. No burn. I think changing meds helped.

Saturday– 13-14 miles relaxed running- 14 miles averaging 10:16. 2:24:30.  733ft of elevation gain. I was anxious about this run given how the week started. I tried not to look at my watch because typically I would feel like I was running 9:30 and only be running 11:00. And then my brain would start the negative talk… This run, however, went great. I think endorphins played a big role in the second half. I didn’t slow down. When I reviewed my Garmin upload it showed that I had held a steady pace the entire time even on a 3 mile 300ft climb. There is hope!  I’m turning a corner! 

SundayOFF- walked the dog. Feeling pretty good.

It’s been a bit of a rough patch but things seem to be turning.  Have you been through a rough patch with your training?  How did you deal with it?


Tips for Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon


Some things in life come to us by sheer luck. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is not one of them.  It takes dedication and hard work to make it happen. As I embark on my training for Boston I’ve been reflecting on how I got to this point. I hope to repeat the great experience I had at my first marathon where I  qualified – the Erie Marathon, September, 2014.  I thought I would share with you some of the reasons that I think made it possible for me to qualify.

1. I waited until I was ready.  So many people jump into running with the idea of running a marathon as their first race.  When I started running I really didn’t have a desire to run 26.2 miles.  I couldn’t see myself out on a course for hours.  As I became a stronger and raced longer distances the idea of racing 26.2 became more intriguing. Still, I wasn’t interested in tackling it until I was pretty sure I would qualify.  My first half marathon at the BAA Half in October, 2013 went well. My finishing time was 1:56. Based on the McMillan calculator I knew I was getting close to being ready. (My current qualifying time is 4:00 based on the qualifying standards).  Last January my coach and I discussed running a marathon. He felt based on my half performance and level of training at that time I should be ready by the fall to run a sub-4 hour race.

2. Choose your marathon wisely. I spent a lot of time researching marathons on the website On it you will find just about every marathon in the country complete with unbiased reviews. They also have a couple of charts that list which marathons for the previous year had the highest number of Boston qualifiers and the highest percentage of Boston qualifiers. I knew I wanted to run a fall race and I knew I wanted it to be small. The race that best met my criteria and would give me the best chance to qualify for Boston, 2015 was the Erie Marathon.  People, this little race (2500 runners) is the best kept secret! It is fast and flat with one of the highest percentages of BQs and so well run. I’ll write a review on it soon.

3. Choose a plan and stick with it.  I often read where people choose a couple of plans and try to mix them. It doesn’t work. Plans are designed by coaches with specific philosophies in mind and based on how the body adapts to training. Rest/recovery days are just as important as tempo runs and long runs. For me, I chose to go with coaching and I love it (Ryan Warrensburg of Zap Fitness). I didn’t have to worry if I was doing the right work out or running the right paces for my intervals. I would wake up and look at the work out for the day and go. Also, my coach pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself. I’ve learned through working with Ryan that he knows me at times better than I know myself.  He has been key in my success.

4. Commit yourself to your training.  One of my mantras I use when I’m needing some motivation to get out the door is , “Ain’t no one gonna make that PR dream come true but you.”  You’ve got to do the workouts. You’ve got to put in the miles. No excuses.

5. Train like the elites and keep your easy runs easy.  My coach often emphasized the importance of keeping my easy runs and long runs slow.  It’s important to building the aerobic engine that you need to power you through 26.2 miles.  I train 5 days a week. 4 of the 5 days are easy runs. One day is committed to speed work. Two days a week I’ll finish an easy run with strides. In the days to come I’ll post more about my training.

6. Commit to the process.  Making it to Boston requires more than just putting in the miles.  It means proper nutrition and hydration, adequate sleep, core work, foam rolling  and stretching, and even journaling. Keeping a log of everything about your training will help you pinpoint mistakes when bad workouts happen (which they will.) Journaling about what you take in during a run, what works and what doesn’t,  will help you plan your race day nutrition.

Motivational poster I made for my marathon training. I posted my daily workouts. Helped me staycommitted and focused on the goal- a BQ!
Motivational poster I made for my marathon training. I posted my daily workouts. Helped me staycommitted and focused on the goal- a BQ!

7. Mental training.  Lastly, it takes mental toughness to make through the rigors of training for the marathon as well as racing it. I developed a handful of mantras that would help me through the tough points. I also did a lot of visualization of the race course, the finish line, and the Boston finish line. These images fueled me when I was feeling like giving up. There is a lot out there on this subject. I found the book, “Elite Minds,” by Dr Stan Beecham, to be particularly helpful. Jeff Galloway also has a great book on this subject, “Mental Training for Runners.”

So by no means do I think that I am an authority on the subject of qualifying for the Boston Marathon! These are just some thoughts of what I think helped me to qualify. Everyone is different and there are many ways to get there.

Have you qualified before for Boston? What tips do you have for someone who is attempting it?

#FridayFive- Five Things I Love About Asheville


Today I’m linking up with  EatPrayRunDC, YouSignedUpForWhat?  and MarOnTheRun   for the #FridayFive. The theme is “Five Things I Love About My Favorite City.” Well, it just so happens that my favorite city is my hometown!  Asheville is located in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  For being so small (pop. 75,000) it is packed with greatness!  Frommer’s just listed it as one of the number one cities in the world to visit in 2015! So here are five reasons why I love my hometown:

1. Location, location, location!  Asheville is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the country! Smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains it’s close proximity  to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Some of the best mountain biking, trail running, white water kayaking, hiking, and backpacking can be found here. World class athletes live here because of the close proximity to trails.

2. Food!  Asheville is definitely a foodie’s town! It is starting to make a name for itself on the national food scene. Whatever you are looking for it is here! The hottest restaurant in town right now is Curate’. Chef Katie Button trained at the world renown elBulli and shares her talent and passion with the Asheville food scene.

3. Beer!  Deemed “Beer City USA” there are now more breweries per capita than any city in the US!  Some big names in brewing including Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have discovered this sweet little city and are calling it home.

4. The Biltmore House!  This beautiful estate is the largest private home in the country. If you like Downton Abbey you will love the Biltmore House. I liken it to a museum. It has one of the most amazing art collections including Sargent, Boldini and Renoir.  My favorite part is the grounds. Comprising over 125,000 acres I liken it to Asheville’s own “Central Park” as the grounds were designed by the renowned landscape architect  Frederick Law Olmsted.

5. The arts! There are hundreds of artists studios downtown and in the River Arts districts. You will find every style, every medium.  Many are known nationally and internationally. One of my favorite artists is Spencer Herr.

There you have it!  What I love about my favorite city! Have you been to Asheville? What do you like about it? What is your favorite city?

*Thank you Courtney, Cynthia and Mar for the link up!

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