On Saturday, I woke up early at 7:30 thanks to my UK jet lag. With a busy day, I welcomed the early weekend wake up. I immediately drank 16 ounces of Essentia water to start getting my body rehydrated and wake up for my 22-mile run. Around 8 am, I had a bowl of oatmeal with a banana and peanut butter.

As I debated whether to wear capris or shorts, I got my TomTom Cardio watch charged, water bottle located and energy gel/chews picked out. I rolled out my legs using a foam roller. Twenty minutes before my run, I had a scoop of Vega Pre Workout Energizer, which tastes disgusting but gives me energy like no other beverage of food. 

By 9 am, I was ready for my last really long run before the Chicago Marathon. Jess, my marathon coach, scheduled a 22-miler for me so that I could take it easy while abroad last week and feel more prepared mentally for race day. I’m glad she did. I listened to a new playlist for the first 6 miles and then switch my audio to the second book of the Divergent series.

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At mile 8, I ate a Clif Shot in Double Espresso. I have decided that Clif are my favorite gels and Honey Stingers make my favorite chews because they don’t get stuck in my teeth. I however brought with my Clif Shot Blocks in Margarita and Tropical Berry. I saved my first two chews for mile 12 (one of each), then three at mile 16 (two punch, one marg) and decided to skip my last two at 20 because I didn’t need or want them.

I drank water with my chews and when I ran by fountains. I walked for a total of about 2-3 minutes and other than that, I felt great all the way up to mile 20! I was shocked in a good way. I expected pain, defeat, fatigue but I experienced none of that. Boredom? Sure.

The last two miles were painful and required a lot of mental toughness. I run along the same path that I ran the day the Boston Marathon bombs went off. I in fact was running around the river when I heard the explosions. By luck, I left a party across the first bomb just 30 minutes before. I like to think of the people who were injured that day when I want to stop trying. The determination the survivors demonstrated in the weeks after the attack were beyond inspiring to me. I also think about the other Model of Courage for the Warriors In Pink, Tracie, who is running Chicago with me on the year anniversary of finishing up chemotherapy at the age of 30. 

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I was able to finish upright with the help of these heroic role models. I wobbled the last few yards to my apartment and made the mistake of sitting down. Getting back up made me feel 100 years old. How stiff my limbs quickly became.

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I did not want to get up. I drank lots of water, and let my legs and feet rest before making a huge salad with Friday night’s leftovers and devouring 4 macaroons.

I am not “tapering” which really just means, my long run gets shorter! I have 15 miles on Saturday which seems like a piece of cake. My other weekly runs are still around 4 or 6 miles. In just 3 weeks, I’ll be able to (hopefully) say I’m a marathon runner. 

Now that I’m confident I can finish the miles and I’ve got my food intake down (on race day, I’ll have one more “snack”), I’m starting to think about my time. According to a pace predictor based on a previous race, I’m supposed to finish at 4:00:54. To break 4 hours is a huge deal when it comes to running a marathon. I don’t want to set an unrealistic goal for myself but I also like having something to aim for. My pace has been around 10:30 per mile during my longs runs and the predictor thinks I’ll run around a 9 min/mile…

As a beginner, I’m asking those of you reading who are veterans, do I try to run a 9 min/mile or run at a pace I know I can cross the finish line with?

Today was my rest day and this is what I did…

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I felt kind of guilty going given the domestic violence issues going on right now, but the seats were a gift from my brother (the Patriots blogger) before everything came to light. I do think Roger Goodell should step down so I didn’t tweet or Instagram anything during the game because I wasn’t sure how to handle it. As my shirt says, “Do your job, “ and clearly Goodell no longer is capable of doing so and should resign already. 

22 Miles Accomplished. Time To Taper.

| marathon, Races | 18 Comments
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  • Stephanie

    That’s fantastic that you did so well on such a key run! As for the race, go with a pace that you know you will finish. Keep assessing and if later in the race you feel like you can break a time, then go for it, but for at least the first half, maybe every the first 18-20, don’t even think about your time

  • Tine

    You are such an inspiration. I am from Norway, and have been following you on youtube, IG ang the blog for years. I am so so glad that you include us fans in your life. I am also training for a half marathon / marathon, and think of you and your achievements when im on a hard long run. Thank you!

  • Sarah

    Congratulations!!! 22 is a tough one! You only get 1 first marathon and the best advice people give is not to worry about time. Run a pace you know you will finish because a 10:30 to a 9 m/mile is a HUGE difference in a marathon and could definitely lead to a burn out/injury. I know first hand because I went for time in my first full and I totally burnt out and micro fractured my foot in 2 places, resulting ironically in a horrible time. Try to enjoy it as much as you can and if you want to crank up the speed wait until the last 6 or so miles like the pros seem to do in big races like Boston. GOOD LUCK!

  • Kristine

    You’re going to LOVE Chicago -- I ran it last year! I’ll be there this year cheering! I broke 4 hours in my first marathon when my goal was mainly to just finish. Start slow (relative) in terms of a comfortable pace -- it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement, especially in Chicago when the first few miles are packed with spectators and a TON of adrenaline. That said, I think you can break 4 hours -- I tried to keep my splits consistent in my first full and I was around 9:10-9:20’s and then gunned it with all I had during the last few miles (which ironically were still 9:20’s). The course is pancake flat save for a slight incline right before the finish line. GOOD LUCK!

    • Sarah

      Awesome. Thanks Kristine. I’ve run 2 half marathons pretty easily under 2 hours so I’m hoping for under 4 and think I can do it since I’ve trained MUCH MUCH more than I ever did for a 1/2.

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut

    Awesome job!!! 15 miles -- a piece of cake?! Omg. My husband is training for the NYC Marathon and I ran 7 miles with him (out of the16 he had to do) on Saturday and that was more than enough for me. Props to you for following your plan so well!

  • Kristi Carlson

    Congratulations on 22 miles! That’s awesome. As far as the race predictor goes, 9:00/mile and 10:30/mile is a very, very big difference. I could see maybe cutting 20-30 seconds off your long run pace, but cutting a 1:30 off quite a bit. The biggest piece of advice is to start at a reasonable pace, and reevaluate at the halfway point. It’s easy to be over ambitious at the beginning because you’re excited and amped up on adrenaline, but end up burning out later. I had a race where I was flyin’ at the beginning and still felt so good at mile 8 that I was imagining crossing the finish line and hugging my husband in celebration of breaking 4 hours (pathetic, I know). Needless to say, I crashed haaaaaaard at mile 18, and was on the edge of the medical tent by the time I stumbled across the finish line (and I missed breaking 4… by a lot -- my worst marathon, actually).

    My advice would be to have fun and pace yourself. I’m all for pushing yourself, which is necessary no matter the pace in a marathon, but I think it’s way better to end a marathon (especially your first) with a decent time feeling good and having fun, rather than burning out or getting injured and feeling like you didn’t do justice to the nearly four months you invested in training.

    Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your first marathon adventure!

  • anna

    Sarah- As the wife of a marathoner -- I have seen all the highs and lows -- and I have learned that for anyone to be able to accomplish a marathon (for the 1st time or the 50th) the stars truly have to align. SO many things can go wrong during the course of training and on the day of the race. I urge you to have the goal of simply finishing and fully enjoy & relish that accomplishment -- let that be enough.

  • Patty @ Reach Your Peak

    You will crush it!! Since it’s your first marathon id take the first half easy…well even up to 16 miles, at your easy pace. Then assess how you feel at that point and pick it up for the last 10 miles if you can. Better to negative split than positive split from trying to keep a 9 min pace but then fading! Best of luck!!

  • Brooke@SweetnSweaty

    I’m training for my first full, and I am also running between and 10-10:30 on long runs. My stretch goal would be 9:45 but down to a 9 seems like a lot to make up since you haven’t been training that way! You are gonna rock it!! My goal is just to finish strong, I really am not setting any expectations other than that!! Congrats on 22. You’re basically there:)

  • Barrie

    Great job on the long-run! I did my last long run last week in anticipation for my own 1st marathon. So glad to hear how you are pacing and doing your snacking. I have to say, I hurt a lot after my own run- my knees are super old compared to your own, but I am none-the-less happy to hear of your great training! I will be following your progress and so glad to find your posts!

  • Jennie


    I stumbled across your blog because I was looking for something like a Stitch Fix for workout clothes…and read about the fascinating hot mess that is PV Body/Ellie. THEN I saw you are training for Chicago -- congrats! I haven’t run Chicago, but I am training for my 3rd marathon (Philly) and I struggled with the whole “do I try to break 4 hours?” dilemma in my first marathon, which happened to be Boston in 2009 (I’m a local too). I did break 4 hours (3:56:12!) but I didn’t freak out about my pace on race day — I just wanted to feel not like complete dog crap when I finished, so I started at what felt like a comfortable pace and stuck with it. That said, most of my training runs hovered around 9-9:30s, so I wasn’t shocked by how fast I felt I was going come race day. If you feel great in the second half, I’d suggest picking it up. But I probably wouldn’t go out gangbusters at 9 min pace if you haven’t done a lot of longer running at that pace. Maybe 9:30s? I’m shooting to come as close to BQ as possible in my marathon, so I’ve been doing my long runs around 8:30s (my BQ is a 3:40) which is a bit slower than qualifying time but within striking distance come race day. Best of luck to you -- hope you kick butt!!!

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