Balsamic Glazed Flank Steak Roll-Ups

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imageI made these for dinner last week and I’m finally getting around to posting about it!! They were excellent, and other than trying to cut the flank steak into thin slices (next time, the butcher is going to do that for me), super easy! You can really use any combination of veggies here – the recipe I adapted this from used some different ones. I chose some of my favorites that I thought would hold up well on the grill…and what happened to be in my fridge at the moment.

Balsamic Glazed Flank Steak Roll-Ups
Serves 4
Adapted from Tablespoon

Ingredients

Steak/Veggies:

  • 1 lb flank steak, sliced lengthwise into four thin slices (I used a chef knife and there was a lot of cursing, but eventually I had four slices)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Rosemary (could also use thyme, oregano, sage, Italian parsley – your preference!)
  • 1 large bell peppers (I had a yellow one on hand)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, sliced

Balsamic Glaze:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dark balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup beef broth (I used my homemade bone broth!)

Method

For the steak/veggies:

  • Rub each side of the steak slices with a little extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some chopped fresh rosemary.
  • Heat one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Place a few of the vegetable strips vertically on one end of each steak cutlet so that once rolled up the end of the vegetables are sticking out of each end of the steak roll. Roll it up, and secure it with a toothpick. Repeat for each steak roll.

For the rosemary balsamic glaze:

  • Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add the balsamic vinegar, red wine, coconut sugar and the rosemary sprigs and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the broth, return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs.
  • Prepare the grill and grill on each side for about 2 minutes or according to desired doneness. Do the same if cooking them in a skillet, frying over medium-high heat until done. Serve immediately drizzled with the rosemary balsamic glaze. Baked potatoes make a great accompaniment.
Coconut sugar is a paleo substitute that I sometimes use when a recipe calls for sugar, which this recipe did. On the side, I served with baked sweet potatoes because I was too lazy to do anything fancier.
Enjoy! xo

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

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Circa Waves
T-Shirt Weather

20131107-131103.jpgSo I tried really hard not to like this song. First of all, the name of the band just annoyed me. You see, one of my favorite bands is called Circa Survive. Every time I would see “Circa” I’d get all excited and think, omg new Circa stuff! Then I’d notice the “Waves” part and would just think, “eh. lame.” The other problem I had with this song is that they are calling it T-Shirt weather. What is this, the sequel to Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood? So not only was I feeling like they were biting their name off of someone else (I’m sure they weren’t, but in my head they were), but their song titled was similar to a pretty significant recent hit. It was just too many reasons to ignore them.

But, as usual, I started getting bored of my music (I have no idea how that happens. I have 12,740 songs in my library) and started downloading some random stuff…including the Circa Waves album. I stuck T-Shirt weather on my shuffle and figured if I hated it while running, then I must actually dislike it. Well, it came on during a recovery run and it’s been on ever since!

What music are you loving this week?

Weekly Update: Marathon Recovery, 6/22 – 6/28

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When I got home from Minnesota, I mapped out how I’m planning to get from here to Hartford in October. Since I worked with a coach for the past year, I haven’t had to do this in a long, long, time. I forgot how much I actually enjoy it. My favorite training plan comes from Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger, but I’ve also have success with a book called Run Faster: From the 5K to the Marathon by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. So when I developed my plan of attack, the structure came largely from Pfitz. Run Faster has some unique workouts that I used to enjoy. I compared each week and made a few changes to incorporate some of those workouts. For example: in Run Faster, the authors add short hill sprints to one easy run per week. It’s where you find a short, steep hill and sprint up it for 8-10 seconds, come back down and repeat 8-10 times. It’s a quick and effective way to learn to power up hills. I used to do them regularly, but it’s another habit I’ve since dropped.

To kick off my new plan, I’m starting with a few weeks of easy miles: recovery runs, and general aerobic runs. I have a few shorter distance races starting soon through early fall to keep things interesting and fresh. This week, I had some mileage goals but nothing crazy – mostly, it was just about getting out and running and doing whatever felt good. I took some new fitness classes and got back on my bike, which felt great.

Monday, 6/22 – Rest!

Tuesday, 6/2 –  5 Mile “Recovery” Run + Core
I use the term “recovery” loosely here, because it wasn’t recovery paced. Cassie, my speedy friend, wanted to meet me for some easy miles but we have very different definitions of the word easy! My recovery run range, according to the McMillian Pace Calculator, is 8:20-9:01, but we ran 5 @ 7:51. I felt every second of it. Surprisingly, my legs were fine but it was humid. I felt like throwing up pretty much the whole time. It was fun to chat and catch up, but it took every ounce of energy I had that day! Post run I did drills, MYRTLs, and Oiselle’s Dirty Dozen workout, but I was beat so it was pretty half-assed.

Wednesday5 Mile Recovery Run + Strength/Core/PT + Pole Fitness
A true recovery run this time – 5 miles @ 8:25. It felt really, really good! I also ran the first mile in these:

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Newtons Distance S

I used to be a Newtons girl, but when I injured my calf last summer I began the hunt for new shoes. I’ve since settled on the Brooks Pure Connect and love them, but I still often miss the feeling of Newtons. I had a brand new, never worn pair of the Distance S sitting at home that I won through our local running store. Problem is, they have a 2 mm heel-toe drop and I’m currently running in a 4mm drop shoe. So, I can’t just go and run five miles in them – I need to break them in sloooowwwwlllyyyy. One mile at a time. I did one mile around the park and was reminded about how oh so good Newtons feel, and then changed into my Brooks for the remainder of the run. Running felt great, and the weather was perfect! I went to the gym after to do drills, MYRTLs, strength, PT, and abs.

Two of my sister-in-laws are getting really into pole fitness classes at a local studio called AirFlex Fitness. They have yoga, aerial classes, core classes and pole classes. I’m certainly not in the market for a new hobby but they were offering a free one week pass to try the studio, and my sister-in-laws asked me to come. They don’t enjoy working out, so I never really gave it a second thought when they would talk about the classes. I was glad they were doing something active that they enjoyed, but I didn’t have any interest in trying it out myself. When they asked me to join them for a class, I knew it was because they were excited to share their new hobby with me so I went to support them.

Let me tell you. It. Is. HARD! Holy crap. I’m so proud of them – they went from doing nothing to doing a kick ass workout. My upper body felt so jacked up the next day – super sore. I’m the most ungraceful person ever. The little spinny moves and the whole trying to walk around the pole looking all cute was probably a comedy act for anyone watching me. I really liked the climbing up the pole portion of the class. I have bruises everywhere from it. I was pouring sweat. I couldn’t believe how awesome of a workout it was! I think I’ll go every so often to spend time with my sister-in-laws, but DUDE. IT’S HARD.

ThursdayGeneral aerobic 7 mile run + Bike + Core
It was hot but not super humid, and I met Kathy for a run since she was at her son’s soccer camp right by my house. It was my first true scheduled non-recovery paced run for the week, and we averaged 7:31 pace! It didn’t feel as hard as Tuesday, but I was sore from the pole class the day before so it also didn’t feel easy. I brought my bike along and did 20 miles in the area. There was some road work that re routed me in an unfamiliar area so I had to stop to look at a map on my phone.  It was nice to be out riding, but it seemed to take forever since I had to keep figuring out where I was going to go. At home, I did drills, MYRTLs, and abs.

Friday2500 Meter Swim + Pole Fitness + Power Abs Class
After my morning swim, I decided to make the most of the free one week membership to the pole studio and took back to back classes – first an hour and 15 minutes of pole, followed by one of the most challenging ab classes I’ve ever experienced. IT WAS A FULL HOUR. OF ABS. The instructor is ripped and is not joking around, either. OW!! I’m enjoying the classes for sure, and the opportunity to try this came at a good time because my schedule is flexible. No more work for summer, no more coach, no more marathon training (for this week, at least!). My membership is good until Wednesday, but I’m thinking of buying a small class package when it’s over so I can go every so often. I’ve been lifting consistently since the fall and I can’t believe how sore I was over these past few days. It’s an incredible upper body workout. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to fit in as my miles increase, but it’s really good to change things up! And seriously, how fun does this look:

imageimageSaturdayGeneral aerobic 10 mile run + Pole Fitness/Aerial Conditioning + Strength/PT/Core
I’d originally planned to run and lift but then my friends and I decided we wanted to take the pole class but try the Aerial class right after – like trapeze stuff! I met Kathy and Cassie early and we had a great run, 10 miles @ 7:32. I felt great and we talked the whole time, but as the run ended I realized something. That was the pace I ran last week at Grandma’s, and here I was running it on a relatively easy run, chatting away. I still don’t know that I have a 3:05 in me right now, but realizing that made me feel like I’m capable of more than what happened last weekend.

Following that, we had another session of learning fun new tricks on the pole…

image imageI swear I’ll stop with the pictures now. It’s just so fun! The trapeze class after was cool – we used the slings and the trapeze – but it wasn’t as interesting as the pole classes. Maybe it was the teacher. The class moved very slowly because they don’t have enough of the slings/trapeze equipment for each participant, so we had to take turns. Though I felt like the pole class was a good enough strength workout, I really didn’t want to skip my scheduled strength training. It was a rainy day, my husband was busy, and I needed to go to the market right by the gym, so I ended up going to the gym to lift, and was glad I did. I’ve been working on doing pull-ups (I seriously have no upper body strength) and recently was able to do one or two of them. I’ve been trying since January with no luck!

Sunday5 Mile Recovery Run
I met Emily at Lehigh Parkway to run, and we did 5 @ 8:26. It was humid but cool, so it felt comfortable running. My legs felt pretty fresh. I celebrated Father’s Day this weekend since we were in Minnesota last weekend, and spent the rest of the day in my backyard. We had a clambake – it was so fun!

Totals
Swim:  2500 meters ♥ Bike: 20 miles ♥  Run: 32 miles

How was your week? Have you ever taken a Pole Fitness class before? Can you do pull-ups?

Recipe: Chocolate “Peanut Butter” Banana Smoothie

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In the summer, my Vitamix gets a real workout. I make smoothies all year long, but with the abundance of produce available in the summer months, I really go to town. I was whipping up one of my creations the other day and came up with a pretty delicious one – although it doesn’t use an excessive amount of produce. I was craving a chocolate milkshake, and this hit the spot. Bonus: it’s a way healthier option. It’s paleo/gluten free and delish!

Chocolate “Peanut Butter” Banana Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or “milk” product of your choice)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter (almond butter to keep it paleo – you could use any nut butter here!)
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A small handful of ice

Put all ingredients in a blender, whip it up, and enjoy! I bet it would probably taste fabulous with some coconut milk whipped cream, too :)

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Onward!

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marathon-recoveryAfter Grandma’s, I gave myself some sulking time over the outcome, posted about it (which actually really helped) and now I’m ready to move on. I’m happy with the time I ran, and ecstatic that I made it to the starting line injury free. You know, it wasn’t until I posted my review that many of you commented and congratulated me on getting to the start injury free. That gave me a lot of perspective. When I ran Boston, I was still pretty fresh off my Achilles injury and while I was still treating it during Grandma’s training, it became less and less of a concern. I did have some pain after the race, but I think my calves were just tight from the marathon, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s several days later and it feels fine, and I’ve already run on it. Maybe I didn’t achieve my time goal, but yeah – the injury free thing, huge. Thank you so much for pointing that out to me.  Many of the habits I was incorporating (drills, foam rolling, stretching, etc) into my training helped get me to the start of Grandma’s injury free. As I move forward, I plan to continue them. I’m happy with the time I ran and it’s given me a reason to change up my routine in the upcoming weeks.

As for what’s next…I think I have a solid plan to take me through November:

  1. Race Street Run 15K, July 4th
  2. Steelman Open Water Swim, July 12th
  3. Quadzilla 15K Trail Race, July 19th
  4. Steelman Olympic Triathlon, August 9th
  5. VIA Half Marathon (Lehigh Valley Marathon), September 13th
  6. Celtic Classic 10K, September 26th
  7. Hartford Marathon, October 10th
  8. Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, November 7th

I may throw in some holiday races after Indy – like 5ks and 5 milers – but only if I feel recovered, and it will just be strictly for fun. The plan is to do some active recovery now, leading into my next training block, and then bust out a nice fall race schedule. I will recover after Indy in November. Like a full month of zero training, just running when I feel like it. Low volume. I want to start base building again in December – zero intensity during that month, too. When January hits, I’m going to start Boston training. I always have these great plans and they always go awry – but here we go anyway!

Here’s the thing. There was no mention of my coach in any of those plans. That’s because I broke up with him. Maybe the decision was hasty because I was two days post Grandma’s when I fired off the e-mail, but I did. Yep. That happened.

See, I never had a coach before last August. I trained myself to get my 3:06. I hired him with the hopes of going sub-3, and that hasn’t happened. I’ve been with him for almost a year, and I’ve actually gotten further from my goal. HOWEVER. With that being said, I need to also say this: he is an incredible coach. I have zero regrets that I tried working with him. I don’t fault him AT ALL for my shortfalls, either. It might sound like I do, especially by the way I began addressing this. I can say with my whole heart that don’t regret working with him. It just didn’t work for me, but I’ve seen him do really incredible things with other people.

I’m fully aware that I’m not an easy athlete to work with. I come with baggage – I have habits and routines that I’ve become accustomed to over my years as a runner, I’m stubborn, and injury prone. Having certain ideas about how to train for marathons and being stubborn meant I never fully trusted anyone training me, especially when it wasn’t what I was used to. While being coached, I never thought I was running enough miles. Sometimes I thought the miles were too fast, other times I thought they were not fast enough – the list of criticism I had goes on. In reflecting on our time together, I realize that it doesn’t matter what he would have done with me. I wasn’t calling the shots so when I got my workouts every two weeks, I always had something to say about the quantity or quality of the miles (or both). That is completely unfair to him. He really did support my goals and did his best to train me to achieve them.

The biggest problem was that I went to him injured last summer and haven’t been able to kick the injuries since. So in all fairness, he did amazing things with the mileage I was able to run during our time working together. His workouts were fun and different from what I was used to. Even though I don’t know that I learned a lot about actually training for marathons (there is my own arrogance getting in the way again), I learned a lot about the other disciplines, particularly swimming. I also got to the gym to strength train regularly, and I can see the value of it and plan to continue it.

But one point that I always made with him holds true. The one aspect my training has been missing is high mileage. I’m a firm believer that if you want to run faster, you need to put in more miles and build a solid aerobic foundation. I used to bust out 60-70+ miles per week, and that’s when I ran my fastest. Yes, speed work is equally as important, but you need to have a solid base to support it. I will be hitting the track and getting my fast miles in when I can, but I need to build my base of long, slow miles. When I was training with my coach, I was mostly averaging 40-50 miles per week, and if I got closer to that 60 mile mark, it was because I added some distance in on my own. However, for much of our time together, I had some injuries that prevented my base from getting back to where it used to be, so I can’t fault him for that. Another factor missing from my training over the past year is the mid-week long run. One of the plans I often consult when building my own program talks about the importance of a decent long run mid week in addition to weekend long runs. I’m talking a run that’s in the 15 mile range. I can’t tell you the last time I ran 15 miles in the middle of the week, but I can promise if I looked back at my training logs, it was around the time I was at my peak fitness.

The bottom line to it all? Working with him is a lot of money to be spending when I’m not seeing results. So whether I go back to working with him again or hire a different coach in the future, I need to do what I know how to do best: build my base back up and get my mental game back. Regardless of whether I had a better time in me or not at Grandma’s, one thing is for sure: I straight up gave up early on, and that isn’t me. I don’t give up. So when did that start? Maybe I started putting too much pressure on myself. But I also know I haven’t raced much at all this year – and racing builds my confidence. The races that I’ve done this year knocked me down and made me fearful of even trying to PR. They’ve made me second guess myself and my training, and it’s affecting more than just my times. It’s affecting my mental game, and my enjoyment for the sport. I’m signed up for most of the races above already (still working out the deets for Hartford). Perhaps I was a little trigger happy with that, but regardless of the outcome, I need to get out there to remember how to fight.

“‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me…”

Do you work with a coach? How do you come back from a race that didn’t go your way?

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

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“‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me…”

Fight Song
Rachel Platten

20131107-131103.jpgGrandma’s Marathon didn’t go the way I planned, and I was bummed with the outcome. After the race, we hit the road and drove a few hours in the direction of home. My husband was driving for a few hours to give me a chance to rest, and I was just thinking about the race and how it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I was thinking about what I was going to do now since I clearly need to figure out what I was doing last year when I was running faster and feeling better while doing it. As I was thinking about it, this song came on and gave me some inspiration. The first thing I did when I got home was to download her entire EP and put it on my shuffle to run to this week!

What music are you loving this week?

Race Review: Grandma’s Marathon (Minnesota)

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Well, here we go. I had such high expectations for myself in this race…I’ll save you the suspense: nope. Just…nope. I still had a blast and a GREAT experience, but I was way off my goal. I don’t really know what happened, to be honest. I have a few ideas, but I just don’t know where it went wrong. I wanted to go 3:05, I went 3:17:28. Yeah. For the record, I’m not whining about a 3:17 – that’s a great time. It just wasn’t what I’d trained for…or was it?

I posted when I got to Duluth that we made it there on Thursday evening – we road tripped from PA to Minnesota. Once we were in Duluth, we stayed at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. First of all, if you do this race, I would HIGHLY recommend these accommodations. They hook you up with a dorm room, towels and bedding for $150 total for two nights. AND there is race day transportation that leaves right from the university. It was stress free and easy.

We hit the expo when we got into town on Thursday night and went to dinner at a local pizza joint to make sure I got in a big, carb loaded meal. The expo was bigger than most of the small town races I’m used to but smaller than the big city races, like Boston or Chicago. I picked up my packet, bought a sweatshirt and called it a day. The swag bags had your standard goodies in them, but you get your T-shirt at the finish line.

After a good night’s sleep, a 20 minute shakeout run around the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and a big breakfast, we headed out for the day. We drove the course – perhaps my first and my biggest mistake. I think it make me cocky. It was just soooo flat. How could anything go wrong? Case and point:

While I was running, my husband was going to go fishing in a nearby river so we took a short hike (I’m talking 20 minutes) to scope out the scene. Minnesota is truly a gorgeous place to visit:

Then it was off to meet Charissa and Hanna for coffee, which was an incredible experience! We hung out for a few hours, and then Hanna and I headed over to the pasta dinner. I highly recommend the pasta dinner for this race – it’s only $12, all you can eat, and pretty decent as far as pasta dinners go. After dinner, it was back to the dorms to try to get some sleep. Surprisingly, once I fell asleep I slept great.imageRace Day

The weather was predicted to be rainy with thunderstorms, but it was dry when I woke up. I got my hopes up that it would stay that way as I went through all of my race morning preparations. We boarded the buses to the start and arrived before 7am. I met up with Katelyn, who I met when I ran Clarence Demar in the fall. We stayed in touch and had a similar goal so if we could find each other, we decided we’d start out together. Even among the thousands of runners, we found each other right off the buses. We hit the bathrooms and it began to drizzle as we set up on the grass to relax and prepare. No problem, I brought a poncho with me. And then it began to straight up downpour.

I got a little cranky, and I think this is where I really started to go wrong. All I could think was, why am I even doing this? Every race I’d run up through this point in 2015 has been accompanied with some sort of disaster. I had to walk in the last six miles of the Lost Dutchman (Arizona) in February, when my Achilles was at it’s worst. I was so excited for Boston (which ended up going well) but it was freezing cold, pouring rain, and windy. Finally, when I began to feel better and got in a good training block, I was excited to go for Grandma’s. Except here we were again, sitting in the pouring rain. I’m not a negative person (I think this post is coming across that way), but this is what was going through my mind at that point. I think it’s also where everything started to go wrong. It was like I gave up before I even began.

Miles 1-5

We lined up with Tom, the 3:05 pacer as it got closer to the start of the race. He was holding a stick that said 3:05 and it was adorned with little red and white balloons. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t anything, really. I just wanted to start already, and hoped that the rain would let up because it was still absolutely POURING.

The gun went off and I begrudgingly ditched my poncho and throw away shirt. As soon as we started, Tom took OFF. Enter my second mistake: I went out too fast (real shocker, ha). I know better, especially since that’s been my problem in several races over the past year. I’ve DONE better, but I had it in my mind that I was sticking with Tom. Except Tom was running sub-3 pace. I stayed a good distance behind him, and clocked solid sub-7s for the first five miles. A 3:05 is a 7:04 pace. Even if he was banking a few seconds, I don’t think it was necessary to go under seven minute miles at any point. On a side note, one of the guys that began with him stuck with him through the half marathon point and told me after they didn’t do any seven minute miles up to that point, everything was in the 6:50s. That same guy ran a 3:10 that day – he lost the pacer shortly after that point. My husband pointed out (nicely) that he saw that the pacer came in exactly around 3:05, so he must have slowed down a LOT later in the race. I know I’ve been a pacer before, but mark my words. I will NEVER run with a pacer EVER again! I should have started in the 7:20s, as planned, and progressed down to marathon pace over the first few miles. I run better when I actively try to negative split, and I didn’t because all I could see were the stupid red and white balloons getting further and further away. I usually have a stronger mental game, but not that day. Seeing those balloons take off really pissed me off. It was mile 5, I was still well under the pace I needed, but I felt like the race was over. It just felt so HARD. But of course it did – that’s not how I start my long runs. What did I really expect?

Miles 5-10

I slowed down a little, and kept my pace in the 7-7:15 range for these miles. The rain had slowed to more of a drizzle, so that was good. It was enough to keep you cool, but not so much that it was annoying. For as beautiful as the course was, it was a little boring since the scenery just didn’t change. Over the first 8 miles of the course, I didn’t think there were too many views of Lake Superior and it was just the same tree lined road, over and over. I was also arguing with myself in my head and trying to figure out why my legs felt crappy, and why I just felt shitty in general. As we approached mile 10, I’d made a decision. I was in Minnesota running a marathon. I get to cross another state off of my list. That was going to have to be enough for me. No more negativity, because I had 16 miles to go. It would go by a LOT faster if I was smiling and enjoying myself.

Miles 11-15

Though my pace was steadily getting slower with each mile, I started to enjoy the race more after the half marathon point. We began to see more views of Lake Superior, and even though it was a cloudy day I could see the bridges in Duluth in the wayyyy far distance. I’d lost Katelyn within the first few miles, but she came up next to me as I was starting to slow down around mile 11. I watched her start to pass me, and then thought, GO. Stick with her! Don’t lose her! It was enough to light a temporary fire and I picked up the pace. I actually passed her, but I thought she was right on my heels and figured we would end up just running together as the race progressed.

Miles 16-20

I kept my pace in the 7:30 range and finally, we hit mile 18. That’s when we FINALLY get off scenic route 61 and start to see a change of scenery. It was like a breath of fresh air…or not. The sun came out, and it got a little humid to add insult to injury. But I kept moving, and figured I was on pace for something like 3:10-15ish. My legs felt like shit, but I felt happy in general at this point. As I neared mile 20, I saw a  “Beer Here” sign, and a table with people handing out beer. Of course I took one. The spectators and the people handing out the beer cheered, and that lifted my spirits a little more.

Miles 21-26.2

Around mile 21, the freaking 3:15 pacer passed me. As he was passing, he was telling the group “68 seconds in the bank!!” I hung with them for about a mile, but as soon as he started to creep further away, that same defeated feeling I got when I watched Tom and his dumb balloons get further away came back and I shut down again. At that point, I looked for Katelyn – I thought she was right behind me. I didn’t see her so I slowed up in hopes that she would catch up. If this wasn’t going to be my day, then I was going to finish it up by having fun running with a friend to end the race on a high note. I slowed up a lot over the last 6 miles – 7:45-8:15s – in hopes that she would come running up next to me. I found out later that she finished in 3:24, and had a very similar experience. She also did a 3:14 at Boston, so I don’t know what the heck was up with us in Minnesota.

Driving the course might have led to me being a little overzealous in my pacing, but I was glad I did it for one reason: I knew the last mile was going to seem like it would drag on FOREVER. You hit Duluth and are running downtown by mile 24ish, finally seeing lots of spectators. When you hit 25, you are getting close to the arena, where the finish line is. However, you still have a mile to go and it seems to take forever. At 26, there was a clock. My Garmin was off by .2 so I looked down and in my marathon stupor, thought we were done. I actually thought, wow, what an anticlimactic finish…until I realized we weren’t done! We turned a corner and finally, the finish was in sight. I was so happy to be done.

The best part of the day was reconnecting with all of my friends and hearing their experiences. Three out of the four of us had a similar day – just not the day we wanted. But Hanna PR’d by 15 minutes and ran a 3:46! I was so happy that someone was able to come away with a PR and a completely enjoyable race experience. Oh yeah, and they gave us beer at the finish. And not just any beer – my favorite! Goose Island, 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Yesssss!

As I was writing this, I was trying to be more positive about the whole thing. But the truth is, I’m cranky. 2015 has not been what I expected, and this was certainly not the race I trained for. Or was it? As I drove home, I reflected on all of 2015. I don’t think I was trained for a 3:05. But I also don’t think I was trained for a 3:17. If I’d gone out more conservatively, I think a 3:10 was reasonable. Yes, I had some fast splits in there over the past few weeks – but really, that only in the last few weeks! I just started to get my base back from my Achilles injury, and I think I got a little ahead of myself. I also believe those past few weeks combined with the flat course made me overconfident. This experience was humbling (as usual). It also made me realize a lot of things – like what I need to be doing if I’m really serious about breaking three hours in a marathon. And I’m ready to do it…after my legs recover :) I’ll be posting about my strategy soon. For now, I’ll be spending the week relaxing, running easy, recovering, and plotting my comeback. State #28 is in the books!

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