The Olympic Trials are just around the corner and the buzz is building.  Many of my family and friends are excited for me but don’t follow running so they have lots of questions.  Plus, watching a marathon for you may be like watching golf for me: better done with a strong drink in hand.  It is hard to get excited about something if you don’t know the rules, the players and what it all means. Based on that, I decided to write the Olympic Marathon Trials cheat sheet so you have some idea what to expect, who to cheer for and why it matters.  Or in other words, why you should watch a parade of half dressed, sweaty anorexics looking runners!


How far is that?

Yup, one of my most common questions!  26.2 miles to be exact.   But it hasn’t always been that long.  Ancient history is that after an important battle in Marathon, Greece, a soldier ran back to Athens to announce “Niki!” (Victory!) and died.  So the original course was 40 kilometers (24.85m).  However, in 1908 for the London Olympic games the marathon was lengthened to accommodate the course running by Buckingham palace so Her Majesty might watch from her balcony.  For this reason we suffer an extra 2000 meters.


Who gets to run in the trials?

Not just anyone can sign up to run.  A runner must meet the qualifying standard during the qualifying window.  The qualifying window opens about 2 years before the trials and closes about 30 days before the trials.  For women they must run a marathon faster than 2:45 (6:18 per mile) or a half marathon faster than 1:15 (5:44 per mile).  For men they have to run faster than 2:19 (5:18 per mile) or faster than 1:05 for a half marathon (4:58 per mile). 211 men and 244 women met the qualifying standard during the qualifying window for 2016.  For comparison, the qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon is age dependent but for women 18-34 years old the qualifying time is 3:35 and for men it is 3:05.  Over 30,000 people register to run Boston.  The Trials are composed of an elite crowd and there are no exceptions!


The marathon course –

The Olympic Trials marathon is held in a different spot each time.  They have made an effort to put it the day before a major marathon to attract a larger number of spectators.  The course is arranged in multiple loops for the benefit of you, the spectator!  You could stand in one spot on the course and see me 8 times without having to do anything more than refresh your drink.  This is a unique experience in marathoning, as my parents will attest.  They rode the Washington DC metro like rock stars in order to see me 4 times during the Marine Corp Marathon and we were excited that they got to see “a lot” of the marathon.  The course does one out and back to the north and then 4 out and backs to the south.  This is the link to the course map if you want to stake out a place to watch:



The contenders

Out of 400 runners, only the first three women and men make the Olympic team.  So here is the time to be honest: it is unlikely that I will be one of them.  That’s okay.  As I pointed out above, qualifying for the trials puts me in the most elite company in the US running community.  This race is a celebration of that achievement for most of us.  So raise your glass and join the party!  Here is a run down on the contenders:



Shalane Flanagan is considered the top contender for the women.  She won the Olympic trials in 2012 and currently is the fastest female marathoner in the US with a qualifying time of 2:21.  She has a bronze medal in the 5000m from the 2008 Olympics.

Desi Linden is also considered to be a shoe in for the team.  Her qualifying time is a 2:22.  She was second at the 2012 trials.  She has had multiple solid finishes at Boston that make her a gritty contender.  She is looking to make her this her first national crown. 

The fight for third will likely be fierce:

Amy Cragg is currently training with Shalane Flanagan.  She finished a heartbreaking fourth at the trials in 2012 but was able to make the Olympic team in the 10,000.  She has a lot of motivation to redeem herself.

Kara Goucher is looking to make her third Olympic team.  She ran the 10,000 and 5,000 in the 2008 Olympics and ran the marathon in 2012.  She has struggled with injuries the last couple of years as well as changed coaches so it is unclear if she has the fitness to pull it off. 

Deena Kastor is the sentimental choice.  Deena is a veteran of three Olympics, which included a bronze medal in the marathon in 2004.  At the age of 42 she just set a masters record for the marathon and half marathon showing that she still has some fight left in her to mix it up with the young ones.



There is much more speculation about this race:

Meb Keflezighi is the sentimental choice for the men.  He is also going for his 4th Olympics as the age of 41.  He too has an Olympic medal from 2004.  While father time is against him, he has proven himself to be a very consistent runner and does well at championship races such as this where strategy is critical.  He won the Olympic trials in 2012.

Danthan Ritzenhein  is going for his third Olympic team.  In 2012 also placed a heartbreaking 4th at the marathon trials but was able to fight back and race the 10,000 in the London Olympics.  He raced well this fall and is healthy so he will be primed for a fight.

Luke Puskedra is the new kid on the block with break out performances at the Chicago marathon and Houston half Marathon this fall.  The question will be is if he left it all out there this fall and can he still be sharp in February.

Jeffery Eggleston, Ryan Vail and Bobby Curtis will be the wild card picks.  They are tightly bunched in terms of qualifying times but anything can happen on race day.

The real talk has been around Galen Rupp.  Galen is going for his third Olympic team.  The reason this is so interesting is that the trials will be his debut marathon.  Historically, debut marathons have not faired well at the trials but will he break the curse?


What to expect

Like golf, a marathon unfolds slowly.  It is a prolonged suspense.  The top men will finish about 2:10 and the top women will finish in 2:25.  Early on the strategy will be to run in packs.  This allows runners to keep an eye on each other and also takes off some of the pressure of having to keep track of the pace on your own.  As people fatigue look at how the people that fall out of the pack tend to lose ground quickly.  Expect some break aways.  After mile 18 the difficulty of the marathon starts to really rear its head.  This is when we talk about “the wall”. Runners are reduced to a painful shuffle.  The marathon is a fickle beast.  The best prepared and the most talented runners can still be brought to their knees without any clear reason. 


The unknown

The weather is always a major factor when running a marathon.  While golf is pleasant at 60-70 degrees, running is not.  Ideally, it would be 40 degrees but these are things out of our control.  Fortunately, everyone gets the same conditions but it is definitely a game changer.


What is your job?

Make some noise!  Clap, whistle or ring a cowbell.  Nothing is more motivating than having an energetic crowd.  If you can’t be there in person, it will be shown live on Saturday, February 13 at 10AM PST.  Don’t miss it!


It is definitely somewhat serendipitous that our topic for this month is “balancing running and life”.  The past few weeks have been particularly challenging for me to keep juggling all of the balls that make up my day-to-day life without dropping one.  These are a few things I’ve had to remind myself in order to avoid going absolutely insane :)

Make a List- take a second to think about all of the things you need to get done and write them down, then organize and prioritize each one.  It should only take 5-10 minutes and it is worth every second to give yourself a concrete outline of what needs to be done and what is most important.  I find getting it out of my head and onto paper helps decrease the “crazy buzz” a little.

An example of how I lay out my "To do's".  Sometimes I'll add how long each task will take too!

An example of how I lay out my "To do's".  Sometimes I'll add how long each task will take too!

One Thing at a Time- now that you’ve made the list and you know what your plan is, take each item one at a time.  This is just like 20x400 on the track—if you think about all 20 at once it’s a nightmare! However, if you take each 400 as a single repeat, it’s really manageable—just one lap!

Be Present- along the same lines as the last tip—since you’re taking things one at a time, only focus on the task at hand.  Enjoy the good parts of your day—be it your first run, second run, lunch with a friend, etc.  Just because you’re busy and you have a lot going on does NOT mean you’re not allowed to have fun. Schedule it in so you don’t feel like you’re avoiding other tasks or eating up precious time and do NOT think about the rest of your list while you’re enjoying your scheduled fun.

Don’t get me wrong—there are days where things seem totally out of control and there is nothing that a list, schedule or plan can do to stop things from turning to chaos, definitely been there.  The important thing is to remember why you do the things you do.  Sure, planning workouts around the rest of your life can be stressful at times, but you should always be able to come back to why.  I do it because it makes me feel alive—I love seeing the measurable growth in myself both mentally and physically, and I love striving for goals that seem just a little out of reach. So, when things get a little tough and stressful I have to take a minute and reflect on why this is so important to me.

Happy Running and Balancing :)



  I hope you’ve enjoyed the #fromwhereIrun August blog tour. My teammates have shared their favorite parks, trails, and paths to explore on two feet, and it’s clear we are lucky to have run in such beautiful places. 

    Since I’m submitting this blog on the final day of the month, I was given the choice of continuing August’s theme or starting September’s. As Autumn and I drove to Casa Grande at 4:15 this morning, we debated about which would make a better blog topic. I’ve certainly enjoyed my share of epic runs, and could write about the mountains of Slovakia, the streets of Nicaragua, or the park in the middle of Trinidad where I logged many miles. Yet, none of these resonated with me on the bleary morning drive. As we pulled back on the I-10 after our obligatory gas station bathroom stop, we came up with a better idea. Why not write about the Old Cougar Stadium, our destination for that morning’s 5x1200s?

    It sounded ludicrous at first. The Old Cougar Stadium (OCS) is nothing to write home about. It’s filled with surprise potholes (stay all the way to the left in lane 1 and you’ll be fine!), morning walkers veering in and out of lane 1, and various other locals doing everything but running. It’s hot as hell in the summer months (yet actually iced over for one workout in December!), and is surrounded by chain restaurants, pawn shops, and other strip mall randomness.  It’s a far cry from the Nike Oregon Project’s track in the middle of the forest! 

    I discovered the track three years ago, when I was calling high schools in Casa Grande to see if any were open to the public. I needed a place to meet Coach John that wouldn’t require either of us to make the two-hour drive between Tucson and Scottsdale. Meeting up for track workouts would allow him to make sure my training was progressing as planned. I wasn’t having any luck finding a location, until a nice lady alerted me to the OCS. A quick internet search revealed it’s address and not much else, although one local left the following comment on

“The class of 1970 and today 2013 every time i walk around the track i get goose bumps looking back on the field up in the bleechers ah good memories”

    Like Mr. Class of 1970, I’m starting to appreciate my own memories of the OCS. After all, I’ve been hammering out track workouts there ever since I believed I could qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon. When you have a passion and a dream, you don’t care where you are. You’re just happy to be able to pursue it.  Over the years I’ve been joined by various teammates, with Autumn being a constant on the monthly field trip. We take turns driving and inevitably annoy Coach John when we warm up in silence after using the car ride to catch up on our lives. The workout usually flies by, and ends with congratulatory comments from the locals, who are all very nice people! And those chain restaurants nearby? Turns out there’s nothing better than IHOP after you’ve been awake for 4 hours and run 10+ miles. 

Celebrating my birthday at the Old Cougar Stadium with Autumn and Natalie

Celebrating my birthday at the Old Cougar Stadium with Autumn and Natalie

Trips to the OCS are a monthly staple, and I’m grateful for all the workouts I’ve been able to complete there. Thank you, OCS, for giving me a place to pursue my dreams. May your potholes never be filled…

What’s one of your underappreciated running destinations?


    It is no secret that my favorite place to be is in our National Parks.  I am determined to see them all and I am slowly checking them all off my list.  Soon we will be my favorite time to get away, too!  I love to run through our National Parks in the fall.  The crowds drop off and in some places you feel like you have the entire park to yourself.   The trees are turning and the weather is perfect to get out and take advantage of the trails.  So here are my three favorite parks to run.  There are many spectacular parks but these three stand out for having some fun, runable routes with spectacular views.


Saguaro National Park – This one may be in my own back yard but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.  I head to the East side of the park where the paved loop is like running an 8 mile rollercoaster.  It’s non- stop up and down. Cresting each hill offers another great view of Tucson, the Catalina Mountains and the Rincons.  Don’t just do it for the view.  This is prime training ground.  It will test your strength and endurance.  I have kept track of my time each time I run the loop over the years and I can tell just how fit I am based on my time. If you are lucky enough to get a slot, there is a race through the park every Labor Day.  This is a Tucson classic.  Afterward, enjoy a salty margarita for, um, the electrolytes!

Acadia National Park – This is the place to hit on the East coast.  This place was set aside to have no automobile access.  Instead, miles of carriage roads were built.  This makes for nice wide, level running on dirt roads.  Wind around ponds and lakes while watching the leaves turn stunning colors.  With 45 miles of trails, you can run as long or as short as you want and always see something new. You may be at sea level but you will be working since there’s no lack of hills here either.  Refuel with some fresh Atlantic seafood!

Zion National Park – This is the most challenging run of the three.  For this you need to make a reservation with Zion Outfitters.  They can shuttle you out to the trailhead of the West Rim.  Over 18 miles you descend 4,000 feet into Zion Canyon.  Along the way you get a birds eye view of the staggering maze of canyons around Zion.  If you aren’t afraid of heights, hit up Angels Landing on your descent.  Back in the canyon, you can ride one of the free shuttles back into town or if your are up for an even bigger challenge, head back up the other side and out the West Rim trail.  At the end of the day, sit back and watch a spectacular sunset while icing your legs in the creek.



Love this month's blog topic - - sharing about my favorite places to run, and epic run, or something of the sort.  I thought it would be cool to play the 50 states game.  Either an epic run in that state, or epic running memory :)

CB Disclaimer***  This is NOT to brag about all the places I have run, I really have been nowhere extremely swanky or important, just been lucky to travel for running or work so hopped quite a few of the beautiful 50!  My hope is that you might be traveling to these same spots and decide to try one? (or avoid)!

Here we go!  In alphabetical order of course, how else would a highly Type A, anal runner do it?

  • Alabama:  Never been, hmmm, not a good way to start, perhaps Alphabetical was not the right way to start!
  • Alaska:  Crap, never been, ha this is turning out to be quite the blog post.
  • American Samoa:  Wha?!  Never heard of this - this is a state?
  • Arizona:  Ok, I live here, phew, I got this!  I would have to say the canal - hands down.  You can either take it into old Scottsdale and see lots of people, restaurants, etc.  Or go the other way (my favorite, which we rarely do) go into the farmlands.  Where you are literally by your self for MILES and MILES.  It is soft dirt that silently crushes under your feet and blazing sun that relentlessly shines down on you.  It's so quiet, so peaceful, it's almost heaven-like, or at least what I hope heaven is like.  Many a runs there where I have sorted through life's seemingly unsolvable problems.  
  • Arkansas:  Work trip, ran around the University Campus, and into the little downtown, I remember thinking about the University of Arkansas runners, as they have an esteemed program and thinking about Deena Kastor who ran there.  And then I remember finishing and saying, I am ready to go home :)
  • California:  I hope my most epic run is yet to come in CA :) But for now has to be Google;s campus, they have trails through there that are soft and just amazing to run on, got in a good 7 miler through the entire campus over hills, through the cafe area, by the outdoor pools, sand volley ball, place was amazing to see.
  • Colorado:  Magnolia Road with Adam.  It was a huge bucket list item, and the run was just magical for me.  If you go to Boulder, you HAVE To run this.  It's 15 miles in altitude, slightly uphill - all soft surface.  Great mix of sun and shade.  It's a perfect run.
  • Connecticut:  never been, not on bucket list :)
  • Delaware:  Ran here before a funeral  - in the dead of winter  - so not really good memories.
  • District of Columbia:  Cherry Blossom 10 Mile US Championship.  Amazingly beautiful run and weekend.  If you are a runner, this race is a MUST for your bucket list.  It's kind of the lottery as to whether the trees are in bloom or not, but either way a historic amazing course.  Also, day before I ran through Georgetown, amazing trails by the river.  Reco staying there and biking everywhere you need to be!


  • Florida:  Love, love Love the Tampa Clearwater Beach Area.  Favorite run would be staying in Clearwater, running over the bridge that takes you to the beach (so beautiful) then running on the beach and back - I think net is was 8 miles, and just perfect mix of soft, hard, sand, and back!
  • Georgia:  Was on a project for work that took me here every week for 5 months.  Never forget the first morning, I knew EXACTLY where I wanted to run - Centennial Park of course!  And as my work buddy told me - Atlanta is where I learned to "sprint". :)  Never run ALONE in Centennial park at 6am - - not nice.
  • Guam:  Never been, not really on bucket list either :)
  • Hawaii:  Bucket list!!
  • Idaho:  Go here for work quite a bit, starting at the Hampton Inn right downtown, run literally across the street on to their river path and takes you right to Boise State   - and you run right by the infamous "Blue" football field!
  • Illinois:  You would think I would say Chicago, or my hometown STC, but instead going with an epic run!  A recent epic run.  Went to Galena, Il for a wedding and had 13 miles, Justin and I figured out and back - can't do much harm right?  Hilliest HELL run I have ever done in my life.  Relentless hills.  Swear to you Illinois has hills.  I rarely get sore and it took me 1.5 weeks to recover from that massacre.
  • Indiana:  Oh this is one where I hope, pray in fact my mom isn't reading.  Driving home from Cincinnati one time, decided to take a break, park at a national forest and run a few miles.  And those who know me well know what happens next?!  Yep.  Lost. Epically Bad.  Ended up on some road had to get a ride back to the parking lot to my car.  Think I aged 10 years that day.  I would tell you about the park if it was worth telling you about....but just trust me, nothing on 65 is worth stopping for.
  • Iowa:  University of Iowa campus to visit old boyfriend at the time.  We broke up a few weeks later so must not have been that epic :)-
  • Kansas:  Work trip to Wichita - where no joke they have a Dorthy statue at the airport saying there is no place like home - - there is though :)  Remember lots of dust, fields, and running past an Amish restaurant that said they had the best hot buns in the world (I have a weird memory I know) 
  • Kentucky:  Believe it or not having lived close to here I only ran there once -  Anthem 5k Classic - had a great race - won some good stuff - so good memories.  It was around the Louisville Slugger Museum I remember that - and also thinking this is a nice area :)
  • Louisiana:  never been, not on bucket list :)
  • Maine:  Easiest of the 50 - If you have one thing on your bucket list - make it be Beach to Beacon 10k.  WOW!   This is Joan Benoit's race and it starts in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, all the elites come out for it, and it is be far the prettiest race you will ever run.


  • Maryland:  Ran in Baltimore for work on boardwalk - - I thought it was great but lot's of people say Baltimore is nasty?  Maybe I ran in the nice part?
  • Massachusetts:  Charles River Loop, love the soft gravel paths and just hundreds of people out and about, Boston is truly a running mecca.
  • Michigan:  Dad used to work in Grand Rapids, and remember going up there once to see him for something and running a few miles near a golf course, really really pretty up there - VERY GREEN!
  • Minnesota:  Where I really started to run!  I lived in Minneapolis on a soft trail, and this is where it all really began, I had been running a tad after college but the competitive scene here is what really sparked my curiosity.  Epic run would be The Boston Scientific 10K, not sure if still called that - but a great 10K around the lakes in August.  Lots of elites, well organized, fast course.
  • Mississippi: never been, not on bucket list :)
  • Missouri:  Not a huge fan of this state because the Cardinals are there (gross), but did run by the arch and stadium, just remember it being like 150% humidity  - but pretty downtown!
  • Montana: never been, not on bucket list :)
  • Nebraska: never been, not on bucket list :)
  • Nevada:  Las Vegas for work - yuck - dirty, people hooting and hollering at me, not a great experience.
  • New Hampshire: Loon Mountain Trail Run, day trip from Providence, the Fall, beautiful Foliage!
  • New Jersey:  never been, not on bucket list :)
  • New Mexico:  Bucket list for sure!  Want to go to the Hot Air Balloon Festival and run the trails around there and I think there is a 10K that weekend too that is pretty famous.
  • New York:  Easy.  Central Park, where I almost blasted Justin for taking forever to tie his shoe, when actually he was on one knee :)  Never forget that engagement run, ever.  Always a special place in my heart.


  • North Carolina:  Recruiting trip at Duke, ran through campus during Fall, and actually into Cameron Stadium, because the door was open!  Got the chills standing in there.  Very old and smelly.
  • North Dakota:  never been, not on bucket list :)
  • Northern Marianas Islands:  Wha?!   I need to go back to school, not sure what this is either.
  • Ohio: Cincinnati - - if you visit here try to time it with one of these great great races:  Hyde Park Blast (June), Ladies Distance Classic (August), or Mini Heart Marathon (March)    You would never think  Cincinnati for running, but they have a great race calendar for all seasons
  • Oklahoma:  Actually want to run here, just never been.
  • Oregon:  Pre's run for sure.  So 2 things if you go.  1)  Do Pre's Trail - this soft woodchip lined trail that takes you right by the football stadium, pretty cool.  2)  Run by Pre's rock, hill is a BOOGER, but another run that will give you the chills when you see where he was hit.

  • Pennsylvania:  Three Rivers Trail  -  takes you right downtown, in the Fall it's awesome, trees, bridges, water - good stuff.  
  • Puerto Rico:  Never been, but would for sure be up for it!
  • Rhode Island:  Having lived here for almost 2 years this was a tough call! I had a lot of great runs, but I think my most memorable was one morning when I got the call at 5am that my grandpa had passed away.  I couldn't go back to sleep so I put my shoes on and ran down Blackstone Blvd which is an all gravel path in Providence that the elites who train there (Molly Huddle, Kim Smith) cruise on.  It's the perfect length (5K) for some speed work.  Anyways I remember getting out there and mind you no one gets up really early b/c it's not 110 at 6 am :)  And literally just hearing my breath and my thoughts and tears just streaming down my face as I ran.  Not usually an emotional person, not sure why I was crying actually, I just felt like the older you get the more and more good byes you have to say, the more you have to let go to what was your life, and move on.
  • South Carolina:  Hilton Head - running vacation to get some training in a few years back,  ran on the beach which is a 'harder beach' so good for running.  Quiet, beautiful, definitely would go back there. Don't need a car, you can bike everywhere.
  • South Dakota:  Never been there, not on bucket list.
  • Tennessee:  Nashville for work -   Hit their bike path and then through downtown, very beautiful.  Another CB moment, left my keys under the wheel in a park parking lot - obviously the skate boarders saw me do it and moved them to another wheel.  Provided for a panic attack, but eventually found them, and heard them laughing :(
  • Texas:  Okay, hopefully no one from work is reading this b/c they will really think I am weird. I had a double the day I was in Tyler Tx for work so I ran in the AM, but then after my meeting I got dropped at the Tyler Airport (size of my kitchen) and asked "WELCOME TO TYLER" desk man to hold my luggage while I ran.  I ran 4 miles around the airport in 100 heat, and then went right on the plane.  I knew if I didn't get it in then, I wouldn't in 115 at home that night.  But it was one of those moments where I realized I have this sick drive, this sick heart that I know, I know will get me to my dream.
  • Utah:  Salt Lake City recently with teammate Natalie - been to SLC many times, but this was an epic run just for the peacefulness of the morning and the conversation - SugarLoaf park was the name if you are looking for a good spot!
  • Vermont:  Hiked - never ran, and if you are a runner you are anal and know that doesn't count
  • Virginia:  Never been
  • Virgin Islands:  Sign me Up!
  • Washington:  Seattle - remember it was raining and thinking wow how perfect.  Ran downtown, and remember it being rather hilly too?
  • West Virginia:  All I remember is running by the running store and the tshirts in the window said "West Virginia is for Lovers" with a picture of runners on it.  ?  
  • Wisconsin:  Work trip by Great Wold Lodge HQ (dont ask, it's what happens when you sell diapers :) - - Wisconsin is beautiful, very similar (I think) to Illinois - lots of trees, rolling hills type stuff.
  • Wyoming: never been, not on bucket list :)

A few months ago I moved from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. I finished medical school in May and am now working at the University of Utah as a resident physician. For me, the worst parts about moving are leaving friends (especially my Sonoran Distance Project teammates), and leaving my favorite running spots. In Phoenix I lived right by South Mountain Park and I would run on San Juan Road at least 3 times per week. I had some special experiences there including watching beautiful desert sunrises over the Saguaros, running alongside coyotes, and watching meteor showers in the early morning hours. I ran the South Mountain Classic race and won it two years in a row. South Mountain felt like my spot, and I miss it. 


On the flipside, one of my favorite things to do is explore new places to run. Since I've been here in Salt Lake City, most of my (rare) free time has been spent out on the trails or roads. Here are my favorite places I've found so far. Come visit me in SLC and I'll show you around!


To make this blog post more interesting, I took pictures of each of these locations during my runs this week.


1. Liberty Park. This one is right by my house. Beautiful park with big trees and a 1.5 mile flat, mulch trail around the perimeter. 


2. Sugarhouse Park. Another beautiful park with a great view of the mountains. ~2 mile loop around the perimeter, some dirt and some paved trail.

3. Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Approximately 100 miles total of dirt trail extending from Idaho and south of Provo, UT. It's a dirt trail in the foothills of the mountains. Lots of elevation change and a tough run, but the parts I've ran on traverse through forest, canyons, and open alpine meadows. Just happens to be (literally) steps from the back door of the University of Utah Hospital. The first picture is where my run-commute ends most mornings! 


4. City Creek Canyon. This is a 7 mile paved trail with a dirt trail on the side. It goes up City Creek Canyon, so it's alongside water, is shaded, and is usually nice and cool during the summer. It's uphill the whole way out and then downhill on the way back. Sorry – it was too dark for a good picture when I ran it this week!


5. University of Utah track. I run to and from work each day (4 miles each way) and the track is 1/4 mile from the hospital. A lot of times I add on a few easy miles on the track or do drills/strides there. It's also where I've done most of my track workouts since being here. It's a really good quality track, is open to the public, and has everything you need including port-a-potties and water! The view is amazing - mountains to the east and the city to the west. The University is up in the foothills, so you can see the whole valley from the track. The other morning I watched the sunrise from the track and there was a huge rainbow across the whole sky.


Come visit me in Salt Lake City and I'll show you around :)


Happy running,



At firsthand it would appear that you don’t need much gear for running, just a pair of shoes and hit the road, right? Well the longer I have been at this (almost 10 years now) the more “gear” I seem to desire. Some items help me recover better, run faster, perform better (I think), look good and just overall make the miles a little easier. I have broken it down into sections and will try not to sound like a marketing campaign!!!

Nutrition/hydration: Picky bars I love the balance of protein/carbs/fat and they taste awesome. I took a big stash on my recent trip to Europe for snacking and emergency food when I could not find something vegetarian and gluten free.  Nuun tablets I live in Tempe, AZ its hot a lot need I say more. I like to toss them in my water when I train and after I train too. Lately I need them even more with our crazy summer heat.  Carbo Pro is great for easy extra calories on a long run. I used this product when I did my Ironman in 2007 it was crucial to my nutrition plan.  Garden of Life Raw Protein powder is another daily stable. Post workout I always have this ready to go mixed with almond milk. One other item I like for adding calories during a long run is Honey stinger gels, I just don’t like all the different flavors on the market and these are just plain honey. 


Shoes: Gotta love my Brooks. I ran in the Adrenaline for about 8 years and now in the Ghost. I switch them out about every 350-400 miles. I race in St5 racer, I feel it gives enough support but still a lighter faster shoe. Putting them on always makes me feel race ready and a bit speedier. 


Watch: Garmin 310xt- I wore the Forerunner 310 for years until it died. I like my new one because it is like my old one! Yes I am old fashioned. I enjoy the ability to switch to bike mode when I am cycling. It is awesome that this will upload on Garmin Express then straight to Final Surge. 

Clothing: because if you don’t look good you don’t feel good. I will be honest I became part of Oiselle Volle’ group in 2012 (think Ambassador program) and really love their products. The Roga running shorts are my favorite, zip back pocket for my house key or gel, no chafing, great fit, perfect length, great colors!!! My daughter loves them to which has caused a few mix-up’s, like the time I packed a bag and changed at physical therapy into her Roga’s which are 2 sizes smaller than my Roga’s!  I seem to be pickier about my shorts, tops are almost always a tank, I hate the feeling of sweaty armpits and since I live in Phoenix it is a must. 

Recovery tools: Trigger point foam roller, I have the half-length one and it is perfect for traveling because you can fit things in the middle. On a recent trip to Europe my husband gave me the look “really you are packing that thing?”   I compromised and brought another favorite The Orb!  Great to work on your glutes and hamstrings. Little bigger than a softball nice and firm gets those tight sports perfectly. A regular old lacrosse ball is great for working on my feet.

Misc., training journal, I love the Believe Training journal by Lauren Fleshman. I know it seems overkill to track online with Final Surge and do a paper journal but I love to thumb through the pages seeing the recent success or identifying what changes might have caused a little pain here or there.

If you want to try any of these I included website links and Sole Sports Running Zone in Tempe has almost all of these products so pop in and try something new to see if it helps your training!

Needless to say I like my gear, I keep most of my items in my cool backpack and then I always have them. 



After months and months of hard work I finally ran a pr in the marathon in May :)
Granted, it was a 90 second PR and 7 minutes off of my goal time but a pr is a pr. I had a tough go of it in Eugene, however. It was my 11th marathon and, while no marathon is easy, it challenged me more than any other. I had a series of bathroom breaks (despite my very serious efforts to avoid any that day) and terrible blisters on my right foot from mile 10 to the finish line. I share this not for sympathy but to illustrate the power of our mental strength during a race.

I have worked with mantra repetition as a part of my yoga and meditation practice for a few years. This year I am enrolled in a Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training and have started employing mantra from that tradition when I run. It is a helpful tool when trying to maintain cadence and to keep the mind focused. Prior to the race I decided which mantras I would use for each different part of the race, which I broke up into 5 mile increments. I had practiced with these during my training runs with teammate Natalie and Coach John and they had been tremendously helpful. I cannot speak to other people’s tendencies but mine has always been to start the cycle of self doubt during a race/hard training run and back off “just a little bit” instead of pushing through the mental block. These mantras kept my mind active and involved in what I was doing, rather than retreating to thoughts about how things “should be” going. That is a difficult thing. We get to a start line with a pretty good idea of what we are capable of but for any number of reasons we have to be flexible with less than ideal circumstances that may thwart our perfect race day goal. Eugene gave me such an opportunity and I am truly surprised and very grateful that I never took the turn to being negative. I just did what needed to be done and what I was capable of.

I will say that there was a point around mile 12 where I felt the blister on the bottom of my foot tear and I knew it was going to be bad whenever I stopped to look at what was happening to my poor foot. I took a few breaths though and decided that running through the pain was worth it on this day. I had my first DNF in January where circumstances weren’t perfect but also were not anywhere near this challenging and that experience shaped me. On the one hand I am extremely grateful to have stopped that race because I recovered very quickly and jumped into the Eugene training cycle. On the other hand there was a good amount of mental and emotional stress that accompanied the decision for a week or two after. Questions like: Am I talented enough to achieve this goal? Am I just wasting my time? These were hard hard hard questions to ask myself but I am glad I did. I got really clear about 2 things in particular:

1. Whatever natural talent I have will only have a chance to flourish if I keep moving forward. If I give up then I will simply never know.

2. Running has given me community and extended family beyond anything I’ve ever known. The friends I have made in the running groups I’ve been a part of are friends for life, people who I could go to with any trouble or concern who would greet me with kindness and compassion. Coming from a small family (just me and grandma :)) has made these relationships so very special to me. So when I was asking myself: is this just a waste of my time? The answer was not only no, it was absolutely not!

Mental strategy and strength to me are not separate from spiritual strength and purpose. This spring helped remind me that running is much more than achievement or PR’s or awards. It’s about showing myself how strong I can be and having people I love to share that with. As long as I remember that I will have the strength to keep going.


As runners, it is especially important to fuel our bodies and eat lots of high quality foods to keep our bodies in top condition to withstand stress. Although I love cooking, (and eating!) I am no chef. I love when others share their favorite recipes, so I thought I would do that for today’s blog. All of the recipes below are my favorites that I make frequently!


Let’s start with a salad:


I love, love, love this salad. Perfect for summer! Served with some French bread, this makes a perfectly light main dish for two.


Main Dishes:


Spicy Roasted Shrimp with Broccoli:

We eat this with brown rice. We love roasted broccoli!


Mediterranean Baked Chicken- Great for cooking for more than two. Swap out Feta for the Mozzarella.


Easy Salmon:

I like to serve this with white rice and a cucumber salad.


Ginger Scallion Soba Noodles:

So good! I love these with the ginger garlic meatballs, or on their own!


Spinach Sauce Pasta:

I use Greek Yogurt in place of the cream cheese.


I love great tofu recipes. This one is pretty amazing!


My favorite lentil recipe:

Serve with rice. So tasty!


These skewers are always a hit when we make them. Dip into greek yogurt. The sauce is awesome!


My two favorite cookbooks right now are the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

and the Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr

Highly recommend both!


Happy running and eating!





You’ve heard it a million times: “If you want to be successful, you must first believe in yourself.” But what does that really mean?

You have likely heard this phrase so many times that it no longer holds weight. You may think, “Well, of course I believe in myself! But I still haven’t reached my goals. I still haven’t become what I hope to be.”

Through my running career (and life) I have encountered many phrases of self-belief, all stating essentially the same thing: You can accomplish ANYTHING if you simply believe in yourself! Do you want to know what I think of such phrases? They work!

Many runners fail and then point the blame at that ridiculous “If you believe, you will achieve” nonsense. 

I’m not buying it! I have ran over 30 marathons and found this framework of self-belief to be ABSOLUTELY essential to success. My most successful races have followed an unwavering sense of confidence. When my races were less-than-successful, I quickly realized that my negative thoughts were to blame.

No one ever taught me how to believe in myself. It is a skill I have learned and polished over time. You don’t need to be a runner, and you certainly don’t need to be a rocket scientist to develop self-confidence!

Here’s what I’ve learned:

State What You Desire

State what you desire, as if you already wholeheartedly believe it to be true. Whether silently in your head or at the top of your lungs, let the world know that you believe!

Leading up to the 2004, 2008 and 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials, I repeated over and over that I was going to qualify for the Olympic Trials long before I really believed it. I stated my goal each time, and I qualified each time. Stating my dreams as facts (along with hard work) made them come true.

Push aside the fear of stating something that is uncertain and embrace the adventure of stating something that could come true!

Live, Eat, Sleep and Breathe Your Belief

When the manta “I believe” fills your head, your conversations and your journal, you will subconsciously shift your lifestyle to match that belief. You may suddenly develop a taste for kale or look forward to your morning run. The negative chatter in your head will slowly subside, making way for positive affirmations and self-confidence. 

Results don’t happen overnight, and if someone tells you otherwise, it’s likely a gimmick or a lie. If you’ve ever tried to give up a bad habit or establish a good one, you know this well. Have patience and stick with it. Every day, your belief will become more real, and one day your crazy, miracle of a dream will be your reality. 


While training to qualify for the Olympic Trials, I woke up each day and committed to being stronger than the day before. I fueled my body with optimal, nourishing food so that I would qualify. Every night, I told my body it was time to rest and prepare for the next day’s training because we were going to qualify. When I ran, I told myself that each breath of oxygen would improve my lung capacity, in preparation for the Olympic Trials. Throughout each day, I made an effort to constantly hammer my belief statement into my mind, in multiple ways and in every context. 

Write Down Your Belief Statement Every Single Day

Part of living your belief is writing it down, and doing so every day. I believe this to be the most powerful and important factor is success. When you write down your affirmations, you hammer those truths into your head. 

When preparing for the Olympic Trials, every day when I sat down at my computer, I would grab an index card or type on my computer: I am an Olympic Trials Qualifier. I continue to do this daily, changing the statement based on my current dream. Today, I write down that I am a 52-year-old USA Olympic Marathon Qualifier. I work hard to believe this statement--to eat, sleep and breathe this--because I want to achieve this goal with all of my heart and soul.

Once writing out your goals, hang them up where you will see them constantly--the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, your vision board, or as your screen saver. Put your belief everywhere to see!

I have the Monumental Marathon course map hanging on my office wall with the statement: I am a four-time Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier. On my refrigerator is a sign that says I am running 2:42:50! I wear a necklace with pendants that read: Find a WAY, Prove it, Believe, Win the Day, DWI (deal with it) and of course sub 2:43!

One of my signs in my office!

One of my signs in my office!

Visualize Your Belief Actually Happening

Your brain does not know the difference between what it sees with your eyes and what you imagine in your mind. Seriously! Your thoughts have the power to create your reality, which can be exhilarating or scary, depending on what you think about most. If you only sporadically think about MAYBE reaching your goal, it’s unlikely to happen. You must constantly act as if you are going to reach your dream, and occasionally rejoice as if you already have.  

When I was training for my 50th birthday marathon, my goal was to win the marathon and break the course record. I spent many of my training runs visualizing myself celebrating with birthday cake after I won the marathon with a new course record. When race day finally arrived, I had been visualizing for so long that it actually felt as if I had been there before. Victory tasted even sweeter than I had imagined!

Spend Time with Good People

Your time is a valuable resource, so spend it with people that share your belief and support your dreams. I have found that the best remedy for waning self-belief is a group of friends and family who won’t hesitate to remind you just how amazing you are. 



I remember the first time I was trying to BELIEVE that I could qualify for the 2004 Olympic Trials. Since I sometimes struggled to believe in myself, I spent nearly all of my free time with my coach, training partner and friends that truly believed in my ability to succeed. Eventually, with their support, I believed it too!

Baby Steps towards Big Dreams

Do something--no matter how small--each day to bring you closer to your goal. Your ability to stay motivated will help you train for your goal, do the hard work and experience a sense of progress. When you believe that your dream is attainable and that every decision can take you closer or further, choosing training and eating healthier become much easier.

Over the years, I have observed that many people fail to reach their high-set goals because they didn’t take the time to set the foundation of self-belief. When you down lay a foundation, the house can’t withstand the storm, and the same goes for goal-setting. 

When I was training to win my fourth USA Master Championship title in 2008, I didn’t take the time during my training to believe in myself, post my goals, visualize or state to myself or others that I was going to win. I didn’t see myself winning the race or celebrating my victory. Instead, I spent time saying that I was tired, that I wasn’t ready and that I would just try. Guess what happened? I experienced my first (and only) DNF (did not finish)! During the marathon, I made excuses instead of finding a WAY, and I dropped out. This was my biggest lesson in the power and importance of self-belief. In 2010, I went back to Twin Cities after training my mind to believe and conditioning my mind to win. I not only won the USA Master Championship, but I qualified for my 3rd USA Olympic Trials. Damn right it matters what you think!

The Lessons Here

If you eat, breathe and live your belief--drilling it into your mind at every turn--you will find it nearly effortless to get up and keep going when you fall. 

Reaching big goals requires time, effort, and discipline but if you lay the foundation of self-belief, you will inevitably reach the finish line. 

I will leave you with one final thought:

If you, too, believe that self-belief fosters success and understand that negative thoughts lead to unfavorable results, than you have the power to create successful results. Simply hold on to the most powerful belief of them all: I CAN DO ANYTHING IF I BELIEVE!

My believe necklace

My believe necklace

Keep on Believing, Keep on Running and Never Stop Having Fun,



We all have our ups and downs when racing—there is nothing quite like the high after a job well done, but similarly there is nothing quite like a low that follows a race that went so far from what you planned.  This is something that any serious competitor experiences, part of the game, and since these feelings aren’t going anywhere it’s important to realize how to use both extremes and all the in-betweens to fuel your future success.

The Good:

This seems like a no-brainer right? After a great race, you’re on high and you can’t wait to get back out there and continue to chase your dreams! Yes, kind of.  Personally, I notice after a really great result, I have to be diligent about picking apart the race and making sure I soak up all of the lessons that were there.  Even in the greatest results there are still little nuggets hiding that you could’ve improved. You’re allowed to be on cloud 9 for sure, but make sure you take a look at your race critically within 24-48 hours after the fact because otherwise you’ll forget the fine details and it will become more and more of a “perfect” race—since our memory tends to make us more heroic over time :)

Sometimes you're really happy at the finish line

Sometimes you're really happy at the finish line


The Bad:

The trick with a bad race is not letting it get you so far down that you’ve lost motivation to try again.  Not getting super low after a bad result is extremely hard, especially if there was a large build-up and you were really expecting to smash down walls when all you did was knock on the door gently and run away.  These races have so many lessons—everything from physical points of weakness and most often mental points of weakness.  Knowing what your mentality was going into the race and during the race is important to recognize and compare to better results—what worked other times that didn’t work this time? What was your preparation like? Did you rest enough leading into the race? The important to thing is capturing everything that you felt was "off" or could have prepared for differently so you don't make the same mistakes next time.

Sometimes it's an up hill battle from the beginning

Sometimes it's an up hill battle from the beginning

The In-Betweens:

Like a good result, an in-between result is pretty easy to let the little things slip through the cracks.  Don’t let the apathy of your feeling towards the race drive you to neglect digging deep into the details of what went right and what didn’t.  Every single race is a learning experience and even if you only find one or two things that you could've changed it will help you tremendously as you build your racing experience.

The Journal

No matter the outcome of the race, it is good to keep a little diary of what went well and what you would change for next time.  Many times you travel to a race so just use the travel time back home (unless you’re driving the car of course!) to jot down some quick notes about the race.  If you’re not ready to debrief immediately post race, do it with your morning coffee the next day—at least you have the caffeine as a mood boost if it was a difficult result to swallow :)

When I first started racing I kept a very diligent journal of exactly what I did before the race and the couple of days leading up—I recorded what I ate, what I did as far as exercise and any other important details I felt needed to be included.  This was extremely helpful for me because I didn’t have very many consecutive racing experiences so it was a stretch to remember exactly what worked and what didn’t since there was so much time between each race.  I feel this process is particularly important for marathoners because there is so much to deal with over the 26.2 miles and you really can’t race very often, so it is helpful to have an accurate, first-hand account of what happened to reflect upon every time you are nearing a race.  This process helps to prevent you remaking the same mistakes over and over again and that means faster progress towards your goals and dreams!

Happy racing and journaling :)




    While the title of this blog may seem dramatic, I think it’s appropriate. For many of us dedicated to the sport, running is an addiction. Going without our daily miles can result in actual withdrawal symptoms, including lethargy, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. If you don’t believe me, read the abstract to this study. Running withdrawal is real!

    Unfortunately for us running addicts, it’s pretty hard to maintain a high level of mileage 365 days a year. Most runners I know have to take several breaks from the sport each year, whether due to injury, race recovery, or life circumstances. I just finished a nearly two week stint of no running in order to properly recover from the Eugene Marathon. While this was certainly good for me physically (I would recommend a post-marathon break at least this long to most people), it was a mental challenge to go without the runner’s high. In an effort to stay upbeat, I did a few things that I think might help others facing their own running break:

Enjoy the positive aspects of NOT running. No matter how much we love the sport, there are aspects of running that make life challenging. Personally, I dislike the exhaustion that comes with 5am alarms for my morning runs! So, I take every opportunity to sleep in when I’m on a running break. I also cut back on alcohol when I’m in heavy training (and admittedly, I miss it!), so I make sure to consume beer, wine, and even a cocktail or two during my running breaks (in moderation of course ;)). It’s awesome. 

Find other outlets to replace what you miss about running. While it might seem that nothing can bring as much joy or stress-relief as running, it’s helpful to analyze why running feels so great. You actually can find many of the positive aspects of running in other activities. For me, my daily runs are a great way to be in nature, so I like to take my dog for easy hikes as a way to replace that. They are also social time with my friends, so I make sure to get together with them (for dinner, drinks, etc) even if I can’t join the AM group run that week. Backyard ping-pong tournaments with Jesse are a surprisingly good way to meet my need for competition! Finally, while I don’t recommend going too crazy with cross training after a marathon (your body does need a break), some exercise may be better than none for your sanity. For me, biking to work each day (only about 10 miles round trip) was a great way to balance my need for recovery with my dependence on exercise.

Use your extra time wisely. Without running, you might find yourself with 10-20 extra hours a week. This can be an uneasy feeling for people who like structure in their days. I tried to fill my time wisely by getting ahead at work and taking care of more things around the house. I think Jesse enjoyed having more meals cooked for him, and I felt better having accomplished a few more things each day. Your running break can be a win-win for you and those around you ☺.


It’s Summer! Around here the racing season is at a lull due to the heat.  Personally, I won’t be gearing up for marathon training for a few more months.  With that in mind, I am switching gears and hitting the trails this summer.  Trails are not for everyone as my teammate Amy reminds me.  Many people feel uncomfortable with the footing or just simply being so far from help!  But for others like me, it’s a refreshing change of pace.  Here are the reasons I love to get out there:


Forget the pace!  This is the best part.  Expect that you will be slower and focus on sustained effort.  This is good practice for those that are a slave to the watch.  Instead find new goals like how much elevation can you gain?! Taking your easy days on the trails is a great choice for active recovery.  Don’t be afraid to stop and enjoy the scenery.  Nothing wrong with a selfie at the top of the mountain for bragging rights.

Build new muscles.  Just because you don’t aren’t going as fast doesn’t mean you aren’t getting stronger.  Many trails require uphill running and there is nothing that gets you stronger faster than hill running.   That said, like any new activity, at first I expect to be sore in all new places.  Hip flexors and calves can be sore after a lot of climbing but you will be surprised how quickly you will adapt.

Get injury free.  Pounding the pavement, and specifically the concrete, can be very hard on the legs.  It is something we certainly need to get used to if we are going to make it through a marathon but trails can break up the monotony.  The ups and downs and weaving back and forth strengths the accessory muscles that keep us from getting injured.

It’s a mental break.  Get out of the rut.  How many times do we do the same 8 mile loop over an over?  Maybe it’s convenient or just easy.  New scenery keeps the mind engaged and makes the miles fly by.

Just remember to take care of yourself out there.  Take a map, find a friend and take a little extra water and nutrition on a trail run.  It comes in handy if I happen to get lost.  But shake up the routine: get out there and get dirty this summer!


How do you know when you are ready to race? For some people it’s a certain go-to workout as a test of fitness. For others, it’s months of training and the cumulative confidence that comes from stringing together multiple solid workouts. Some people just feel in shape and figure they’re ready to go.  For those of us lucky enough to have a great coach, their honest and objective advice is also invaluable in assessing race readiness. 

My training cycle this spring for the Eugene Marathon has been a little different than marathon training cycles I have done in the past. Since I started running what I consider “fast” (sub-3 hour) marathons, I’ve never done more than one full marathon in a year. I raced Chicago in October 2012, Chicago October 2013, then CIM in December 2014. For each of these, I took 2-4 weeks off after the marathon, then increased my mileage, then did speed work and ran 10Ks and a few half marathons. Once I had my speed up I added volume and long runs to be in shape for the full. This is a type of build up that I am comfortable with because I understand how my body responds and the trajectory with which my fitness increases. 

This spring was different though. I took two glorious, full weeks off after CIM. It took me another two weeks to get back up to 60 miles a week. I ran several half marathons and a 10K in January and February, and none were even close to my PR from last year. I was disappointed after every race and impatient to get back to my pre-CIM fitness. I found myself looking back at my Final Surge training log leading up to CIM, comparing workouts and feeling like I was running out of time. After the Phoenix Half at the end of February, I was 95% sure I wouldn’t be ready to race Eugene and I began looking at late summer marathons. 

On a long run with my teammate Tanaya in March, we were discussing my racing plans. She shared that her experience with back-to-back marathon training cycles was that you feel out of shape and then suddenly the fitness comes out of nowhere. Since I’m more used to a slow build up, I was skeptical that her experience would also be true for me. However, over the next week it was like a switch flipped. 6:00 pace didn’t feel like a struggle any more. It felt smooth and controlled. I started to want to run faster than my prescribed workout pace rather than being intimidated by the splits and just trying to hang on. 

So although this marathon cycle has been much different, I finally feel confident that I’m ready to have the race I want at the Eugene Marathon. An integral part of this is guidance from Coach John. I told him I would not race a marathon until I was in shape to go for a 2:42. I trust him 100% in assessing my fitness and readiness. Honestly, without his advice I still might not feel confident enough with my current fitness simply because I have only been feeling good for a month compared to the several months that I am used to pre-marathon. What I have learned? Listen to your body, know what has worked for you in the past, but also don’t doubt yourself if things don’t progress exactly how you envisioned that they would.  

So here we are – four weeks to race day. I’m signed up, plane tickets booked, and I’m all in. Thanks for reading… see you in Eugene!!!