With a dream I never thought possible finally coming true, it feels right to reflect and share my road to Boston. My story. If you’ve followed me for some time, you’ve seen the highs and lows of it all, where I started and where I am now. If you’re new, grab some coffee and I’ll tell you about it.
I’ll breeze through the beginning to give you a bit of a background. Wasn’t a runner. Wasn’t an athlete. Was an out-of-a-shape college senior trying to lose weight. I started running 6 years ago and haven’t stopped. Well, there were some off-and-on years in the beginning, but I started consistently running around 4 years ago. Ran my first marathon in 2010 in 5 hours 32 minutes. So there you have the beginning.
Right around the time I started my instagram account (@fitandfaithfulfc) and my side
business hobby of selling Faith-based Christian fitness clothing (check it out here), I started running more and getting faster. This was May 2012. I remember this, because I did a push-up challenge that month. You do 100 push-ups every single day for an entire month. It didn’t matter when you did them so long as you did 100 before you went to bed that evening. What does this have to do with running? Hear me out!! I started to see some definition in my arms and actually saw results from hard work. It planted those seeds and I wondered what else I could do.
My normal run pace had always been in the 10:00-10:30 range which was something I was very pleased with. Getting faster never crossed my mind. After my push-up challenge, I started to get on this “eat healthy, lift weights, run more” kick. So I started running in the morning. For several mornings I would pass a neighbor and exchange the friendly runner nod. After a few weeks, he stopped me and said “who are you? and what are you doing?”. He was surprised to see another person awake at 5am, running. My route went by his house, so I would ran the first half solo and the last half with him. He was faster than me so I would just try to just keep up. It was speedwork, I just didn’t know it. This gradually dropped my pace into the 9:00’s. I ended up running a marathon with him and we finished in 4:07 (9:25 pace). My first goal was now set – to run a sub 4:00 marathon.
After this race, I ran several marathons close together, almost once each month. I was on a roll and was afraid to stop. Each finishing time was getting faster. I don’t think that I was drastically getting faster, but just gaining more experience, endurance, and walking less during the race which brought down my pace. My next race, I broke 4 hours and finished in 3:58.
Next was my favorite race!! The 2014 Miracle Match Marathon in my hometown. I had just broken 4 hours and learned about the qualifying standards to get into the Chicago Marathon with a guaranteed entry. Women had to run a 3:45 marathon, so I made this my goal. I never would be able to qualify for Boston, so I decided qualifying for Chicago would be the next best thing. I ran this race as hard as I could, so focused on this goal and finished in 3:40.
After my 3:40 finish, I thought Boston wasn’t that far out of reach. I only needed to shave 5 minutes off to run my qualifying time of 3:35. I signed up for the 2014 Cowtown ULTRA (yes, ultra) Marathon to make this my first attempt to qualify for Boston. At the Cowtown, they had a timing mat at the marathon mark to allow your ‘marathon’ time of the race count towards qualifying for Boston. I ran a 3:35:36 – and then walked and shuffled the next 5 miles to finish my first ultra. I was slightly disappointed I missed the qualifying time by seconds, but was ecstatic I had just finished an ultra. It was mixed emotions.
My next race was the 2014 Oklahoma City Marathon and it was hot and windy and my first race to not PR. It was much needed though. I needed to slow down and be patient. I really wasn’t putting in my speedwork or intentionally planned out training. I was just running, trying to keep up with faster people. I think a lot of runners progress fairly quickly when they first incorporate speedwork, but eventually you level off. I was leveling off for the year and knew I needed to wait until next season to attempt another BQ.
Summer 2014 was my first experience at a track. I dabbled in the 4x100m relay in 6th grade, but I was the 4th slowest person on the team and went to a tiny school. So standing on a track, as an adult was the scariest thing. I met a former track coach in town and he offered to help me get started. It was tremendous to my training and finally qualifying for Boston. I also started running with my current running buddies in the Waco Striders that summer and it has added so much joy to training, running, and my life. I love each of them.
After signing up for Chicago 2014, I knew this would be the race I would qualify for Boston (spoiler alert: I didn’t). It was flat, fast, and I was going to make it MY race. God had better plans in store, as always. I finished in 3:37 and was devastated. It was hard. Looking back, I know I missed out on so much of the experience which is why I will NOT do this in Boston. I will NOT race Boston.
A few months later, I traveled to the 2014 Dallas Marathon where I ran my first marathon back in 2010. My running buddies were there, my parents, and of course Andrew. It was a perfect weekend. I even met Ryan and Sara Hall. I ran the best race and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 3:31:01. And then… Ryan Hall gave me my finisher medal. Looking back to Chicago, I think God was saying “be patient, not yet, I have something better“. Dallas was better and more than I could have imagined!
After this race, I ran some marathons for fun, began trail running, and dipped my toes into the ultramarthon scene. It was like the work to qualify for Boston was finished and I could relax for the next 17 months until I would actually run the Boston Marathon. And it’s crazy to think it’s finally here.
Like I mentioned before, my running buddies have been such a huge joy in my life. We are a mishmash of ages, professions, life phases, and personalities, but it works. Ruel is one of my best friends and has made running so much more fun. She ran 2015 Boston and will also be running in 2016 along with our other friend, Nancy. She is a joy to be around and an incredible runner. Her marathon PR is 3:15 and she just amazes me. Anyways… we decided to run 50 miles together. She is the ONLY person I would run 50 miles with.
Between training for a 50 miler, focusing on speedwork, and logging miles for my 2015 goal to run 2015 miles, I had never run this much in my life. I had never trained this hard or been so focused on a race PR. It was the perfect set up for a PR at the 2015 Fort Worth Marathon where I finished in 3:24, only 8 seconds behind my other running buddy. I let him win. I really didn’t – only saying that in case he reads this. Two weeks later, Ruel and I ran the Wild Hare 50 miler. And that was it, I was finished.
So this bring us to only a few months ago from where I am today. I had run my fastest marathon and my longest distance and was just done – physically, mentally. Done. I loved running and training, but needed a break from the more intense training that was taking up so much of my time. The past few races have been fun, I’ve enjoyed more social runs with friends, more time on the couch with my husband, and sleeping in. I needed it and am still enjoying life this way.
These past few months I have really grown in my walk with the Lord. After a knee injury that forced me to slow down, I had a minute to stop and breathe. For over a year, most of my thoughts and actions were so keenly focused on training. I call it training and not running, because I feel like it can be different – or at least different mindsets. I was consumed with ‘training’ – when to run, how fast, when to rest, what to eat, what not to eat. Slowing down was good for my body and soul. I needed a refresh to regain focus and reexamine where my heart was.
My last race was in January where I ran the 2016 Miracle Match Ultramarathon and then a couple of half marathons. My training has been nothing like it was, but that is okay. This is a slower season of life and I have found peace with that. To be honest, it was a challenging transition. It’s been hard to recognize the person who hasn’t been awake at 4am everyday running or the person who takes a couple of more rest days each week. But I am thankful for this change.
So, Boston. The 2016 Boston Marathon. It still doesn’t seem real. To look back and remember the finish line of my first marathon. It just doesn’t seem possible. But I suppose the saying holds true, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”
If you’re still reading, you deserve a medal or at least another cup of coffee. If you’ve followed me a long in this journey, thank you times a million for your support and sweet comments over the years. I am so grateful!
To my husband: thanks for always being on my team.
Update: Five days before I ran the 2016 Boston Marathon, I learned I was having a Chemical Pregnancy (early miscarriage). I hadn’t shared this with the world when this post was originally published, but you can read about it here.