California International Marathon 2017- A Dream Come True.


This past Sunday, I ran a 2:42:42 during the U.S. Championships at the California International Marathon coming in 31st place female. This is a 6:13 minute per mile pace, qualifying me for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon B Standard.  Believe me when I say, it is surreal in the least to type those words out. After crashing into an exhausted slumber on a red-eye flight home, I woke up alone on a dark airplane and for a split second thought it was all a dream. It was a dream….a f*cking dream come true.

The thing I love about the marathon, my favorite distance, is that it is overwhelmingly honest. It’s symbolic of life.  People say you put in the work and you get the results you deserve but marathoners know that’s not always the case.  Life isn’t fair. The marathon is not fair either. Things happen that are out of your control. Even the things you can control can spiral out of grasp before you even knew the hit was coming.  If you haven’t stood at the outskirts of a finish line, in a tiny outfit, with gel all over your hands, wondering where it all went wrong, then I envy you.  I’ve been there plenty of times and then signed up for more.  You have to pick yourself up and fight again. So when I say it all came together for this marathon, I truly am humbled and grateful. It means so much because it is so rare for the hard work and the luck side of it all to come together for the perfect storm. Sunday was my perfect storm on a perfect weather day.

Since the majority of texts and messages I have received were asking how I did it, I’m going to try to provide the most practical info in this recap. It’ll be long. It won’t be a traditional race blog recap. I apologize in advance.  I also apologize for lack of good photos but I thought this was blog was going to die and truth is my desire to edit/add photos and writing is zilch. So here we go- I’ll start by saying that in March of this past Spring, I suffered an injury that killed my opportunity of a Spring marathon.  I was heart broken. I had wanted to race the Shamrock Marathon badly.  Truth is this was a blessing in disguise. My body got 45 days off training off. It was a fresh start. One I didn’t want or think I needed but I now believe was crucial to this past Sundays performance. After this break I had a long SLOW build up that was absolutely uninterrupted. I basically had 8 months of consistent training for the first time in years.

Secondly, that injury was a catalyst for a change in my program.  I’m stubborn as an ox but my coach was wise enough to say this isn’t working, lets experiment.  Short intervals were eliminated. Injuries can stem from many different places but one thing we noticed was my body hates speed. I am a heel striker and 400’s, 800’s, and mile repeats were killing my calfs.  So they were gone.  I did many 400 strides. Strides may not be an accurate description but this is different than intervals in that I never pushed them. They were all done at just a coasting pace and all after easy runs. They were never hard.

I NEVER ran doubles. The majority of elites/sub-elites do.  I’ve done twice a day runs in the past and they are exhausting for myself and my family. My husband travels very very often for Navy work (including deployments with zero or minimal communication) and we have no family nearby to help. I’ve learned that I can only do what I can do. It was very easy for me to compare my training to others and this cycle I told myself I wouldn’t do that. There is more than one way to do things. Please remember that. I saw many workouts done by my peers that left my jaw dropped. Workouts I could honestly NOT do.  I worked on my strengths and reminded myself that it was okay. Your PR peers may do workouts that you think are impossible but know that they may have better short speed or better endurance than you, but you may be better at other things. Every workout my coach prescribed me was specifically completely on tired legs. That is where my strength lies so there were few workouts that on  paper looked like a knocked-out-of-the-park workout or something a 2:42 marathoner would struggle at. There is no one exact way to be successful at anything in life and the same is true for marathon prep.

When it came close to race day, I did TONS of mental prep.  I had a lackluster New York City Marathon last year. I wasn’t proud of that performance and the fear of a repeat was huge. I can (and I say this so that YOU can) be proud of any time on the clock but if you know if your heart that you didn’t perform up to your ability, execute properly, or made too many mistakes, then it sits wrong in your gut. I did not want to set myself up for another grueling heartbreak. I had listened to many sports podcasts (sorry, can’t remember which) and one that stuck in my mind stated that you must face your fears.  You cannot tell yourself its only going to go perfectly on race day or visualize only good things because then your mind may react abruptly when something does go wrong. You must prepare for all potential problems. So I dove into the dark side. I anticipated a bad day at CIM. I was honest with myself. Could I continue if I ran a bad race? Could I continue with a terrible first half? Terrible mile? Stomach pains? Fear? The answer was of course.  I love running. I love training. I love the journey. I am doing this for the right reasons, simply because I love to run the marathon.

Once I accepted that something MAY go wrong, that a bad day was possible again, and that I knew I could handle it, a change came over me. I felt calm.  There was no more fear of the unknown. I went for it. I was all in.  I was “Fearless in the Pursuit of what Sets your Soul on Fire” as the quote says.

Now here are the race day specifics that I know were key to my success-

1.) Perfect weather and course.  We lucked out with the weather. Absolutely perfect. Course? Some people do not like the rolling hills.  They were relentless the first half.  I thrive on rollers. I knew I would be fine because the hills reminded me of the first 18 miles of Twin Cities where I also had a good day. The hills don’t stop until late in the game so you are forced to focus the entire time. Some people hate this, I love it. When I’m not focused is when my mind wanders and pace falters. Know your strengths. Some people would be better off on a course like Chicago that is flat.

2.) Time Change.  I live on the East Coast (Virginia Beach) so the time change to Sacramento time was huge for me.  I arrived on Friday and went to bed at 7:00 West Coast time. I woke up at 3:30 am and felt like a million bucks, then repeated the following night for race day. My body thought we were racing at 10:00 am. I was wide awake and ready to go.

3.) Nutrition.  CIM provides Nuun Performance and Clif Energy gels on course.  I was not given an Elite spot so I was not allowed personal bottles. Never having used Nuun, forced me to practice with it more than I would have. Honestly I thought I would hate it but truth is, it is a faint taste so was very easy to get down. I drank a few sips every single chance I could get on course. It has much fewer calories then Gatorade so I had no fear that it would upset my stomach once mixed with gels.  I had NO nutritional issues. Any experienced marathoner knows that is to be celebrated in a race. Caffeine- I also took two pieces of Run Gum thirty minutes before the race.  This was instead of coffee, which I love but can upset stomachs. I then took one piece of Run Gum at mile 16. PLEASE do not do exactly as I did. Experiment in practice. Caffeine affects everyone differently and is a little scary for me because I can get too jittery if I drink too much coffee. Each piece of Run Gum is supposed to be about one cup of coffee so I had the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee for the race. I have no affiliation with Run Gum so this is not an ad 😉  I NEVER hit a wall. I was full of energy the entire race as you can see from my splits. I also had three Clif energy gels that the race handed out beginning at mile 7.5.

4.) Splits. I’ve said before that one of my favorite time and places on earth is the last 10K of a marathon.  It’s pure guts out misery and all you can do is fight with everything you have. The goal for this race was to drop the hammer the last 10K and I did. I had practiced it a million times.  My coach and I discussed dropping to 6:10 pace the last 10K.  I blew this out of the water and averaged less than that the entire last half. I basically ran out of my mind. Sure I was in agony but I was ambitious as hell and embraced the pain. I felt LUCKY to get a chance to face that pain. I never wanted to settle because when I have tried to settle in one set pace, my legs get stale and can falter. Keep pushing always. I started conservatively and started to slowly drop the pace after the half. Every single time my mind screamed that I was running too fast and should be careful, I told myself to BE BRAVE.  Corny? Yes, but it worked. I never let ANY negative thoughts in my mind.  Shut that stuff OUT.   Here are my splits below.


5.) Run with a pack. Someone told me that running with a pack will cut 10 seconds off per mile.  I have no clue if thats true. 10 seconds per mile seems insane.  Doesn’t matter though. I told myself to stick with a pack and I did.  I bravely contacted a woman I admire and said “Wanna work together?” and she said yes and it was awesome.  Runners are great like that. We stayed together for 12 miles and I’m so thankful we did. Once two men came up and started chatting with us. We all discussed pace and I noted in my mind that they were incredibly consistent.  So I latched onto them and took my turn leading as well. I kept my head down and kept grinding. They made me run the down hills faster than I felt comfortable and in the end that was good. I didn’t want to lose them so I pushed myself harder than I would have alone.  Eventually another man came up to our group to pass us.  I told myself to be brave and latch onto him. It worked. I did that the entire second half. The last 10K the most amazing woman came flying by me and I  was in awe so I stuck with her. We went back and forth leading not really working together but it felt awesome to just have bodies around that were cutting down the pace.  Any person who was faster than the current group, I latched onto and forced myself to help lead as well. There was no settling. People have asked and I never saw the 2:45 pacer.  This was probably a great thing that I missed them or else I may have felt compelled to stay.

6.) Watch Screens.  This was an absolute game changer. On my Garmin, I switched screens so that I could only see distance and OVERALL pace. I could not see my mile splits unless I specifically looked when we passed the mile marker, which I rarely allowed myself. At a half a few weeks before this race, my watch said I was running 6:13 pace for the entire race.  Because of tangents my actual race results average was 6:19 pace.  I’ll say again, THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER. The entire race I believed I was going to average much slower than I actually was.  I NEVER allowed myself to believe I would qualify for the Trials. I went into the race hoping I would set a PR (sub 2:47). Even the last 10K I thought I would be in the 2:45-2:46 range.  I NEVER let myself think about it. I focused on the mile I was in.  If I had known I was dropping sub 6:10 miles, I may have freaked out. The best advice I got was DO NOT OVER THINK IT. Focus on whats important at that specific second and nothing more. Do work. I never believed I would qualify until that final turn.  A man, who I do not know, pointed to myself and another woman and said “You and you are Olympic Trials Qualifiers.”  I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. Whoever that man is, I love you.  The photo below shows the look on my face during that final stretch.  Its complete disbelief.  Is this real??


Alright, I am positive I am forgetting many things but considering I already wrote a novel, I will end here.  I wanted to say a HUGE thank you to Running, Etc.  They have supported me for years and truth is, they didn’t have to. I am so very grateful.  They are a knowledgable team that I’ve asked for countless bits of advice from over the years. Thank you to the J&A Racing Training Team.  They are an incredible group and if you are in the area, you should check them out. SO fun, great coaching, always positive.  I could write a novel on how wonderful the team is for runners of all abilities.  Thank you to my coach, Jerry Frostick, who also had no real incentive to take a chance with me. When he started coaching me, we barely knew each other. I was perpetually injured and socially awkward. I try to be as professional as possible but there are times I’ve done or said some really dumb things, like “What if I forget how to run?” and he just sighs and has patience. The biggest thank you goes to my husband, Steve.  Hearing his voice on the phone after the race was one of the best moments of my life. He is my best friend. Making him proud is something I’ll always crave and cherish so quite simply it was a dream moment.  He has been unrelenting in his support for me to do this insane sport. He is my favorite team mate.

There are about a million other people I could thank but it would go on and on,  and I would feel terrible not thanking everyone I’ve ever met right down to the darn UPS man who cheers for me as he drives by me on the road. I am SO grateful for everyones support. I set out on the goal many years ago and I don’t feel like I did it, I feel like We Did It. Thank you all!! Many congrats to the friends who had a successful race on Sunday! I’m so proud of so many of you!


Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

Hello friends! It’s been awhile, as it always seems to go with this little internet space of mine. Honestly I’ve thought about closing up this blog. It seems between Instagram and Instastories, & Twitter, blogging is not as relevant as it used to be. So if I continue to only post every 4-5 months, you can find me on the other places.   That being said, I do have the day off of running and got the bug to update and share.

The last time I left you, it was March and I was devastated to miss out on my goal Marathon. I like to think I had a good attitude about it, but actually being present the moment the gun went off at the Shamrock Marathon without me on that line, was a tough one. Luckily I was with one of my best friends ever and we could commiserate together and lie to ourselves saying how awful it would be to run in sleet (yes sleet!!) anyway. “I’m so GLAD we aren’t running in this weather when everyone is dropping out, aren’t you?!?” Wink, Wink.  Absolute Lie.  But it is what it is and we both laughed anyway, having a fantastic weekend because we got to hang out with Shalane Flanagan for three days. I still can’t believe it. Best consolation prize ever. We got to drive her around to her speaking engagements, take her to meals, etc. We were so lucky and I’ll always be grateful for that opportunity.  Basically if J&A tells me I have to clean porta-potties next year I’ll be like, okay totally fair deal! I do hope to be racing the full though. Here are some pics-


I’m internally screaming in this photo. Can you tell?I mean it’s SHALANE FLANAGAN.


Just a wee bit freezing handing out blankets with the J&A Staffers. All the runners and volunteers were rockstars!

After Shamrock, I started to run again. It wasn’t a perfect process, re-injuring myself through cross training, and in total I think I took over 6 weeks off. I wanted to be ready for the Brooklyn Half Marathon but expectations had to be realistic. I went in with a new racing singlet and a mindset that I had absolutely nothing to lose.


New singlet! with Running Etc. Owner Mike Robinson

Now I understand why the Brooklyn Half Marathon sells out in minutes, it’s a fantastic event. Megan, Jess, and I arrived in Brooklyn Friday afternoon. Our Airbnb was cancelled by owner on us an hour before arrival and we panicked. Luckily we found an amazing hotel, the Marriot at the Brooklyn Bridge in a perfect location AND perfect price (not $$$$). Everyone who works there was AMAZING. They heard our sob story and even gave us upgrades. I have zero affiliation with them, just wanted to praise their kindness and let you all know the location was fantastic for the race and for touristing.


All smiles together wherever we go.

The race expo (above) was gorgeous and race morning was just as fantastic.  I was extremely lucky to have been given a seeded entry spot which gave an indoor meeting area with bathrooms and snacks (snacks!).  Upon arrival I could tell immediately I was in way over my head. There were not that many other ladies in the seeded field and I felt such guilt that I’m “not that fast” or don’t belong there. You’d think these feelings would have been left behind in middle school  but nope. My husband reminded me over text that I didn’t ask to be put there, I simply said thank you when it was offered. All I could do was give 100% of what I have and there was no reason to feel bad about myself.   But you know, he is my husband, he has to say nice things to me.

At the actual start line, I quickly met new friend, Sarah (pictured below). We had chatted on social media before and having a friend to laugh with in those final moments put any feelings of stress at ease.  We had discussed staying together for a few miles but within the first half mile I knew that would be impossible.  I entered this race wanting a huge, fast field, and I got it! There was barely any wiggle room to grab water and misstep.  Luckily I was able to settle in with a huge pack for the first 5 miles and loved it.  It was enthralling and I literally never felt any fear or doubt like I normally would during a half. The Prospect Park hills were easier than I had read about and the final 5 miles could not have been better suited for my running style.  I was hurting but with a long straight away, all I had to focus on was grinding out the miles. Every once in awhile you have a race that feels like you are floating. This was it. At mile 8 I knew I was going to have a great day. I finished in 1:21:42 and 22nd female.  The A goal before my injury was top 20 and sub 1:20 so for what its worth, I was thrilled with the outcome.  I’m still eyeing that sub 1:20 and after this race I’m feeling confident. One of the coolest things was within a minute Sarah and I found each other at the finish line area. She had a huge PR and finished within 10 seconds of me. I had no clue we were near each other. We were both thrilled!


Before the race with New York City Marathon Race Director, Peter Ciaccia. The most personable guy and so loved in the NYC running community.


Finish Line Coney Island Fun with Sarah. Please ignore my crazed hair.

After the race, Megan, Sarah, and I boarded the insanely packed subway back to our end of Brooklyn. Sarah had to leave but Megan and I spent the rest of the weekend celebrating with our friend Jess.  The REAL reason we went to Brooklyn 😉 It does pain me that we did all the fun touristy stuff in non running clothes and only managed to get one blurry photo of ourselves…ugh.


Since Brooklyn I’ve been taking time off from any formal training. Mileage is low and there is no set plan. It’s been fun to stay relaxed but I have been running often and throwing in some speedwork when I feel antsy.  I have my eye on two different Fall marathons but am leaning towards the California International Marathon in December.  Tomorrow evening, if the weather cooperates (at this point it looks like thunderstorms may cause a cancellation), I’ll race a track 5K for fun then I’ll start formal training again.

Thank you all for reading!!  Wishing lots of speedy luck to my many friends racing Grandmas Marathon and Half this weekend!  Let me know your Fall racing plans as I always love to hear them. Have a fun Summer all!

One door closes…

Less than 10 days until the Shamrock Marathon. One of my favorite weekends of the year. For that reason this post is hard to type up so I’ll just get to it. I have decided to pull out of the Shamrock Marathon. Insert tears here. This was an incredibly tough decision to make. One that I put off making and couldn’t bring myself to share with anyone outside my tiny circle of close friends until now. Earlier today I picked up that sweet new Running Etc. race top pictured above and got a little achey in the heart that I won’t get to pin my favorite number 7 on it like last year.

About 4 weeks ago I was running a solo mile repeat workout on a road loop. The times were fantastic and my confidence was beaming. I noticed one sharp turn that  I would repeat 5 times throughout the workout thinking maybe it was too aggressive. I didn’t follow my gut, brushed the concern away, and all this while wearing racing flats (ugh). The following morning I couldn’t walk without pain in my left calf.

A few days off soon became a week, a week became two, then they became 21 consecutive days off running. I had two A goals this season and while I am back to running (not perfect but I’d say 90% healed thanks to the amazing team at Direct Performance), if I run the Shamrock full in this condition than I most likely would jeopardize my recovery and build up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. This decision really totally sucked was very difficult to make. Last year Shamrock was a dream race for me. I am so very proud of that race and still consider it to be one of the best I’ve ever executed considering the Nor-Easter storm headwinds we faced. Having my spouse put my medal around my neck, best friends there cheering, and coach along the course was such a GIFT. Feeling self pity for not receiving that incredible gift again seems almost greedy.

I tell my kids all the time, you can choose to be the victim or the victor in every situation. You can choose to feel sorry for yourself or you can choose to turn the experience into a great one. I chose to have a few tears then move on.  I knew immediately that I would still be celebrating Shamrock Marathon weekend in one way or another and will now be helping out the awesome J&A Racing team with the weekends festivities. Without going into detail they found a job for me that fits my personality and, get this, I get to drive a golf cart 😉  There are so many incredible details that go into making Shamrock a unique and fun race that normally I have to gloss over because I’m running. Now I get to be on the other side and look forward to sharing it with you all.  I promise it will be an amazing weekend and its not too late to sign up. Online registration closes Tuesday at 11:59 pm. The half is where I got my PR but all the courses are fast and PR worthy (I promise to scream loud and dance awkwardly for you!!)  Also look at the expo line up below….Bart Yasso, Elyse Kopecky, SHALANE (my idol) and many more!! Did you miss that?  I’ll type it again Shalane Flanagan is coming to Shamrock!

Thank you all so much for supporting me. I cannot wait to cheer for some of you at the Shamrock races next weekend!!  For all my local friends racing the One City Marathon this Sunday, lots of luck for you. Fingers crossed for a tail wind 😉


-If you can meet with triumph and disaster  and treat those two imposters just the same…- R.K.

Spring 2017 Goals

Happy 2017 friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Things here have been mostly wonderful. After the New York City Marathon, I took a good month off. Two weeks of no running and another  two weeks of low motivation sprinkled with 2-3 milers here and there. Then of course, December being December, running was there but not on my high list of priorities. We did however end my running year on a fantastic note.

My son, Matthew, and I ran the Surf-N-Santa 5 miler here in Virginia Beach. So…much….fun.  J&A Racing organized the Worlds Largest Santa Run and we met the Guinness Book of World Record goal! In order for each runner to count towards the official Santa numbers they had to wear a five piece suit (Beard, Hat, Shirt, Pants, & Belt) that were included with race entry. Needless to say the entire race was hysterical. Matthew and I ran with my closest friend and also a few other groups of friends along the way and I couldn’t stop laughing at us all in these fat suits. At Mile 2 there was a gingerbread cookie stop and later in the race there was a Candy Cane lane. We loved it and running with Matthew, who ran all but a few steps at a water stop, was something I’ll cherish forever. I see it as a Mom/Son tradition for years to come.



The race is held late afternoon so that you can run under the Boardwalk Holiday Lights.


Just over 45 minutes for this guy!

Seeing as how most bloggers (am I a blogger if I only write 6 times a year?) are writing their goals for the year, I feel the need to add mine. My running goal this year is simply to race as well as I train. While I had a fantastic 2016, one that I am proud of, I never finished a race feeling as though I lived up to the level I was at during the actual training cycle. I’ve been doing this marathon thing long enough to know what workouts should result in what goal time and honestly I was in much fitter shape than I showed at New York.  I could blame it on wind, nerves, solo running time, excitement, etc. but truth is I just should have tightened my laces and ran tougher. As for Spring 2017, I have some great races lined up to keep challenging myself.

January 14th- Distance Series 10 Miler

February 26th- Colonial Half Marathon

March 19th- Shamrock Marathon

March 26th- Seagull Sprint 1 Mile. <- Excited to Co-Direct again! Not racing.

May 20th- Brooklyn Half Marathon 

Can I have two “A goals” for Spring? Well, I do. The Shamrock Marathon is my main training goal but the Brooklyn Half is close as well. The Full is my favorite distance and Shamrock is a race that is close to my heart so there was no doubt in my mind I’ll be chasing a PR there (as long as I can stay healthy.) The Shamrock course is easy to mentally break up, easy for spectators, easy for logistics, plus I’m surrounded with an amazing training team, friends family, and Coach. Plus I always love their swag. 😉 I didn’t want my season to end there though. I’ve been wanting to break 1:20 in the half for ages. Not sure if it will be doable with time off after Shamrock but at the very least, I wanted to put myself in a highly competitive race to aim for it.  Last year 18 women ran under 1:20 at the Brooklyn Half. I love that and am really looking forward to running in NYC again.

I do not have anything set in stone for the Fall, but am leaning towards California International Marathon, in case any friends are thinking of the same. I would love to hear from anyone else running it. Its the last of my personal Fall U.S. bucket list marathons since I’ve done Chicago, Twin Cities, Philly, Seattle, & New York. More suggestions welcome!

Now the not so wonderful news.  In December we said goodbye to our incredible dog, Buddy, who was almost 16 years old. Saying goodbye to him was easily the hardest decision I have ever made in my life.  The kids were so brave about it all and I put on my bravest face but was a wreck. Steve was an awesome rock for us. I hesitated to share on here but he was one of my first running “Buddys” and I’ve mentioned him quite a bit on this blog. I still get super emotional about him. I even choked up at a grocery store when I saw his special food for sale (He was on a sensitive stomach diet so I rarely saw it in stores). It’s the little things but I am truly grateful that we were able to have him in our lives for 15 years. We adopted him from the SPCA when he was a year old and he traveled the country, living with us in 7 different states! He will always always be a part of our family even if he isn’t with us. One of our last photos-


Now back to running specifics. Workouts have been going wonderfully. Last week was my first official training week back. This week being the second week was a bit rougher as the legs start to feel it but it feels great to be back in the marathon grind. Here is a quick look at what I had and have for this week-

Monday- 10 miles easy (snowed in, on treadmill)

Tuesday- 8 total, 4 mile tempo in 24 minutes flat (again snowed in! treadmill)

Wednesday- Last day on treadmill, thank gosh! 10 miles easy, last 400 at 6:00 pace to mimic some striders.

Thursday- 2.5 mile warm up, 4 X 1 mile (5:39 average) 2.5 mile cool down.

Friday- OFF. 

Saturday- 10 Mile Distance Series Run. No goal pace, just see where I am at.

Sunday- 14 miles very easy.

If you are local to Hampton Roads, Direct Performance is hosting new Sunday morning group runs at 7 am at their Great Neck location. I plan on getting quite a few of my long runs in starting there.  Have a fantastic week friends! Happy Training!