RnR AZ One Week To Go

FYI: This post has nothing to do with any work outs of training runs I’ve done over the last week. It’s time for me to focus on the mental aspects of the marathon, so here’s a peak into my brain. It’s a hot mess in there, but you get used to it ;)

Can anyone ever confidently say “Oh, I’m TOTALLY ready to run my first marathon!” I’m pretty sure that feeling doesn’t exist, and I’m 100% certain that with how neurotic I am, I would never utter words anywhere close to that. I will say, however, that I’m not worried about whether I “trained well enough” or “did enough”. I am as ready as I could possibly get at this point in my life, and regardless of what happens on January 20th, I have so much to be proud of.

On the flight to NYC, I began a post about things I learned while training for a marathon. I planned to finish it when I got in, and have it go up the day of the race. Well, let’s just say that emotional Post Race Cancelation Ari stepped in, and it’s not even in the data base anymore. If I had one regret over my training cycle, it’s that after the New York Marathon was canceled, a little bit of my spark faded. I didn’t really lose motivation or drive, but the awe and appreciation for my body that came with conquering these new distances faded as I became more focused on the idea that this extended training cycle needed to make me faster, and less focused on the heart of the matter—why I signed up for a marathon in the first place.

I haven’t gone into too much detail on here, although I have gently alluded to the fact that when I first started running, I was in a very bad place with food and body image. I was trapped in a negative cycle, and I honestly didn’t see a light at the end, and I could not bring myself to believe I would be able to lead a different kind of life. Then I discovered running, and I rekindled my passion to be better—the reason I began my healthy living journey in the first place. I began to focus my success on my physical accomplishments, and I found what I had been searching for: freedom.

I am not running this marathon to break any records, and despite the fact that I am document every last second of my training on pretty much every facet of social media, I’m not doing this so you will think I’ve done something special. I am running this marathon to celebrate a point in my journey. A journey that began when I was 9 years old and realized my body was “different”. I originally thought that deciding to tackle a marathon would be the celebration of my weight loss journey, but what I’ve realized is that it is the celebration of something so much bigger.

So no…I’m not “totally ready to run my first marathon”, but I am ready to have a once in a lifetime experience with one of my best friends. And I’m even starting to believe that it might actually happen this time. I haven’t asked Steve if they’re going to cancel it in a solid 72 hours which I would definitely consider progress. ;)

And because this post obviously isn’t long and wordy enough, here are some things I’ve learned while training for my first marathon:

  • I’m stronger than I think.
  • Dinosaurs are hilarious.
  • It’s not easy to find people that you actually enjoy being alone with for 4 hours every week, so if you find someone who clicks perfectly, enjoy it and appreciate the hell out of them (I DO!).
    "Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???""Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"
  • I am an individual, and my training plan will probably never fit 100% perfectly into my life, and the challenges that each cycle will bring. All I can do is my best, and it won’t kill me to choose drinking wine with friends once in my life over “feeling great” on my stupid recovery run. I was definitely better about this the second time, but the first time around, I had absolutely no social life, and I don’t think my husband/family/friends appreciated me kicking them to the curb. It’s not the nicest way to treat the people I love. I swear there is a way to find balance, but it’s different for everyone, and that’s okay.
  • Comparing myself to others never ends well. And it’s stupid, and kind of rude. It’s best to avoid it at all costs.
  • Coach Susan knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Also, I think my people-pleasing personality is hooked on this whole having a coach business. I had no idea what I was missing, but now I don’t want to go back (and let’s be honest….I probably won’t. Coach Susan > Lululemon running skirts).

    Hot Chocolate2

    Although running skirts are pretty awesome…

  • I enjoy running without music. This was the surprise of the century, but I didn’t use my ipod for a single long run the second time around. I do plan on having it on backup for the marathon if I need some extra motivation though.
  • Running should be fun. Last time I checked, this was not my career, and I wasn’t planning to win PF Chang’s. I know, I know, you’re shocked by this revelation. Fun doesn’t mean easy. In my sick and twisted world, “fun” means giving everything I have inside me, laughing with Nicole, enjoying the cheers, and celebrating the success of running a marathon no matter what happens. I plan to have so much freaking fun.
"I'VE GOT THIS!!!!!"

This is what fun running looks like.

Alright friends, now is the time—give me pre-race words of wisdom! Tell me your motivational mantras, what you’ve learned (not necessarily from running, but it could be what you learned in math class), and any other gems of positivity you want to share! 


**PS: I am putting together a post this week linking up first time marathon recaps, RnR AZ recaps, and any really inspirational running recaps I come across, because I plan on doing a lot of reading to get motivated. If you have a post, email me the link to ari@arismenu.com if you’d like to be included!**

RnR AZ 2 Weeks to Go

Hey, remember how I used to actually talk about my marathon training? Those were the good ol’ days. Then I just stopped for 3 weeks. Well, I haven’t been writing because there hasn’t been too much to report, other than working really hard to fight off injury and sickness. I could feel really down in the dumps about it, and decide that my training has been ruined forever (that’s pretty typical over in these parts), but actually, I’ll take it now rather than at the starting line. And I haven’t missed a single long run, so I’m honestly not that  worried. I mean, I’m a nervous wreck, but I’m no more nervous than if I had done every run exactly as planned. I’ve been training for 7 months. I can run this marathon. Umm, I just accidentally typed “marathong” which I’m guessing is something completely different. Moving on…

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve probably run 6 times. Right when I decided I wanted to push to make it to 1,000 miles for 2012, I woke up the day after a 14 mile run with a scary knee pain I had never felt before. There was definitely some freaking out, and crazy texts and calls to Coach Susan, my nurse friend Laurel, and anyone else who would listen. Susan told me to take at least 3 days off, and said most injuries can be prevented if you just listen to your body and take time off immediately. I’m not usually very good at that, but as I told EVERYONE about a million times, I can’t not run another marathon. So I listened. I took an entire week off running (WHO AM I??), went to the gym and lifted weights one of the days (more shocking news), and did a 55 mile bike ride on Christmas which was awesome except for the fact that I am pretty sure I need a different seat, like, yesterday. It was pretty painful in all the wrong ways, but I was happy to be doing something “endurancy” and “athletic”.

After my week hiatus, I came back and ran the best freaking 21 miles of my life.



Actually, I’d never run 21 miles before, so I have nothing to compare it to, except for the fact that I did it in less time than it took me to run 20.5 the last time, so that’s a good sign. I actually still can’t get over how much better I felt this time. The last time, after mile 18, it seriously felt like there was glass inside my joints, and every step felt like I was just going to break. It was so incredibly difficult, but this time, I just felt…right. I mean, it was ridiculously tough, but more in an “I’m exhausted, where is the ‘finish line’???” type of way than a “Are you sure there are not shards of glass in my ankles?” type of way. I finally got to run the route I had planned out the first time with Nicole, and she kept me so positive in the middle miles (around 15-17) where I was struggling. By the end we were so pumped that we ran the final mile in something ridiculous like 8:30. I really doubt that will be happening at mile 26, but even after we were finished, I felt energized and I couldn’t believe how great it went.

The next day, I got sick. So then I took more time off, then I ran again and my knee kinda hurt, blah blah blah. Sooooo, I’m just trying to embrace the taper. I felt an injury come on during taper last time, and Susan told me that it really wouldn’t hurt me to take it easier during that time, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been training for 7 months, and never missed a long run. My body knows what to do. Sorry, I have to keep reminding myself as well.

So, there you have it friends. Two weeks to go, and I’m feeling the taper craziness in full force, but I know that by this time on January 20th, it will all be worth it. I will finally  be able to call myself a marathoner, and more importantly, I will be able to rewrite my thank you notes (I wrote them after NY, but I hated how pessimistic they sounded, so I decided to wait until after the journey was complete and I could thank everyone who donated for helping me to become a marathoner), and I will be able to feel the reward of crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. I can’t freakin’ wait.


PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 5

I have so much to tell you. First of all, I’ve just discovered that my running mileage for 2012 is currently sitting at 925 miles. I’d secretly kind of had the goal of getting to 1,000, but I didn’t really put much thought into it, because honestly, I just didn’t think I would. I don’t do very well with a ton of mileage, so I just tried to follow my plan, and keep this little goal in the back of my mind….Until it got so close that I can taste it! Now I have to do it, right??? I mean, I don’t plan on being stupid and killing myself this close to the marathon if something hurts, but it definitely gives me a little added motivational push when I’ve been struggling a bit mentally.

Also, I *think* I’m getting closer to figuring out my fueling/stomach issues. It’s kind of a constant battle for me. Almost any food before a run can cause a lot of unpleasantness with no gallbladder, but I’m not a person who can do a long run on gu alone. I’ve always eaten Ezekiel bread with nut butter and sometimes a banana before a run since, like, forever. I never thought that was the culprit because back in the day it worked great, but I started to think about the fiber of the bread and the fat of the nut butter. My body can’t process fats as well now, and let’s just say I don’t think my body needs any added fiber in my life ever. So for my long run this week, I bought a white flour bagel and put pumpkin butter on top. My stomach felt the best it has felt in a loooooong time. I was so happy!!! I had to make one stop in the first mile, and then had no issues for 18 whole miles!! This is a big deal in my world, friends.

However, I still get hungry–like stomach growling hungry–and feel somewhat depleted around 15 miles even with fueling often. I’m not sure how to fix that other than maybe playing with my meal the night before and trying to bulk it up? I always make sure to eat a decent amount of carbs at dinner, but maybe I need more? If anyone has any brilliant advice on the subject, I’d love to hear it! Anyway, here’s how last week went down:

Monday: 5 mile run. I was having a realllll hard time getting motivated for this run, but I got out there, and of course as soon as I did, it felt great! I set my garmin to a screen where I couldn’t see my pace, and just cruised at what felt comfortable, which ended up averaging in at 9:40. That is not my usual “easy” pace. I was pretty stoked about it.

Tuesday: Off.

Wednesday: “Track” and strength training. At PT I ended up doing all sorts of crap–one legged dead lifts on the bosu ball, abs, triceps, this thing where I threw a ball at the wall…I was sore for like 3 days, and I felt like a total wimp, but at least I strength trained a little! That afternoon I met up with Stacey to do our scheduled track work out. We met up in the early afternoon, and it was about 72* which is perfect for a picnic, but it felt warm (at least to me) to run in. It wasn’t an easy run, but we still rocked it. We did a short warm up then 1 mile @ 9:03, 1200 @ 8:28, 800 @ 7:55, then 3×400 @ 7:16, 6:56, 6:43, then a short cool down. I kind of wanted to die, but in a good way?

Thursday: Off.

Friday: 18 mile run. You know, I kind of thought the long runs would be easier this time around. Turns out….they’re not. BUT I’m faster this time around. A lot faster. My last 18 mile run took me 3 hours and 8 minutes, and I shaved 7 minutes and 26 seconds per mile off of that this time around! This run was amazing, and hard, and fun all at the same time! Nicole and I both started out feeling a little rough. Her ankle was bugging her, and I woke up with a stabbing pain in my hip (I’ve had it before, and it’s not from running, and it always goes away so I wasn’t worried, just annoyed). We had to stop and stretch a few times in the first few miles, and we kinda decided to let it be what it was going to be, not stress, and enjoy the scenery.

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it's awesome!

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it’s awesome!


"Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???"

“Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???”

"Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"

“Don’t worry Ari, I’ll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!”

We took a totally new route which took us through Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix and it was gorgeous, and a great way to change things up! Also, fall running is my nice.

IMG_20121214_165027 By the end, we had both totally surprised ourselves, and I ran my fastest long run of marathon training ever with an average pace of 10:02. Granted, we definitely took our share of breaks, so I don’t know how accurately that represents where I am pace wise, but it sure felt great to see such an awesome time! And then there was well earned chocolate milk/coffee with chocolate milk per usual.


I was dreaming of you too, Dutch Bros…

Saturday: Off.

Sunday: 3 mile run. That 925 lit a fire, plus I figured 3 work outs this week wasn’t really great, so I ran to my mom’s house for dinner. 3 nice and easy miles averaging a 9:37 pace, and then there was food, so that was good.

Tell me something awesome. I don’t care what it is, or what subject it’s about. I would just like to hear awesome things. :)

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 4

Okay, so before I talk about last week, I want to talk a little bit about my mental game because, well, it sucks right now. For 6 months, I’ve been training for a marathon. For 8 months before that I was training for half marathons–my first and then training to PR at a couple of others. That is a long time. Surprisingly, my body feels okay. I feel much stronger than I did a few months ago during the first round of this training cycle, and while my body still doesn’t seem to love the idea of running a marathon, I’m not in a constant state of pain the way I was while training for New York. My mind, however, is a little done.

The last 2 weeks have been lower mileage, and let me tell you, I have done the bare minimum. Last week I ran something like 22 miles, when just a couple of weeks ago, I had a couple 7 day periods (not M-F weeks, but still technically weeks) that were double that. Somehow I doubt cutting back means halving my mileage. Unless I have plans to run with a friend, I’m having a tough time forcing myself to do much of anything. I’m sure I could come up with a million excuses–it’s too cold now to ride my bike in the morning, I’ve been so busy that it’s hard to get to the gym for spinning or strength training (to be fair, last week was tech week…), etc.

I actually think the cutback weeks might be partially to blame. I get excited about challenging weeks with high mileage, and I get excited to get them in. The last two weeks, I’ve felt excited for my races, but the rest of the time I can’t get into it. So maybe the world could just plan races on all of my running days, so I could get excited about them too? I would love if everything could just revolve around me. ;)

In all serious, I know it will be fine, and I know that a 7 month marathon training cycle is a little ridiculous, and I would be a freak of nature if I didn’t feel some burnout, but the fact is, I have 3 weeks left of real training before we go into taper, and I need to make the most of it. I want to get to the starting line of PF Chang’s feeling confident and like I’ve done everything I can do to run the best marathon I have in me. I’m not a person who settles or simply does something to “get through it”. After everything that’s happened, I need to do my best, and cross that finish line with no regrets.

Okay enough rambling. Here’s how my kind of lame week went down.

Monday: Strength training. I did the same thing as last week, but did my push ups and reverse push ups in sets of 12. I know I’ll have to change it up eventually, and get to a gym or get some free weights at home, but for now, I’m adopting the “something is better than nothing” approach.

Tuesday: Speed work!! YAY!! First, let me say, it’s a lot harder when I can’t go to track. I love the track. I love it’s perfect 1/4 mile distance that you can see the end of. I love Coach Susan standing there with her little clipboard, and telling her my paces at the end. I love watching everyone whiz by and leave me in the dust. It’s not quite the same along a path of the canal, but I did have Nicole there to kick my butt. We did a little over a mile warm up, then 4x400s at 7:21, 7:29, 6:58, 6:44, then a mile at 8:59, then a cool down. I kind of wanted to die, but it was good. I really miss the track, and I can’t wait until spring when it moves back to mornings and I can go again! We ended up running 3.7 miles in 35 minutes.

Wednesday: Push ups? That’s all I did. My regular push ups and my dip push ups. I did half of that at the theatre when I got there for rehearsal, and the other half while I was getting dressed. I’d made plans to go for a bike ride, but I forgot about a meeting, and just ran out of time to do much, but I guess something is better than nothing.

Thursday: Off. I guess I could call it “rest”, but I’m not sure what I’d be resting from…

Friday: 9 mile run. After a really stressful week, and honestly, a pretty crappy week emotionally, I just didn’t want to run that morning. At 1am when I was still awake, I *almost* texted Nicole to cancel, but plans hold me accountable, and even Steve reminded me that I’d feel worse if I didn’t do it, so I woke up at 6am and ran with Nicole, and you know what? It was AWESOME. After the run, I felt like a new person, and the stress of the week seemed to melt away, at least for a little while. I felt strong almost the entire run, and Nicole was great and let me vent about everything that was bugging me. We did 3 miles easy, 2 at marathon pace, 1 easy, 2 at marathon pace, and 1 cool down ending at an average pace of 10:03, which is pretty darn good considering my goals for this marathon. In fact, it was probably “too fast” and I probably don’t care in the slightest. ;)

Saturday: Rest. But okay, for real this time. I ran 9 miles on Friday and had a 9 mile race on Sunday. This one was actually intentional.

Sunday: Hot Chocolate 15k, Full recap coming soon. I didn’t really race it the way I had planned, but I’m actually pretty proud of my performance and how I did all things considered.

So there you have it. Hopefully this is the last you see of the whining and complaining about training until I get to taper, where I will inevitable complain about how my life sucks because I’m not running enough, I’m getting “fat”, and how after a 7 month training cycle including 2 20 milers, I’m so ridiculously “under prepared”. At that point, feel free to judge me.

What do you do when you’re in a mental and motivational rut? Inspire me please.

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 3

I didn’t run a ton this week, but it was a great week, and it ended on a a REALLY great note. I don’t have a ton to say other than that, so let’s get to it.

Look! A leaf! Maybe Arizona has fall after all? Anyway, Steve took this picture at the race on Sunday, and this post needed a photo…

Monday: 8 mile run. The schedule called for 4 miles easy, 1 mile at MGP, 1 mile at HMP, 1 mile at 10k pace and 1 mile cool down. Somehow I counted wrong and started the marathon pace mile after 3 miles. Whoops. So after 3 miles Nicole and I did a mile at goal pace, then 9:03, 8:12 (what????), then we added an other mile at goal pace, and a mile cool down. We ended the day with an average pace of 9:54, and I felt surprisingly strong.

Tuesday:  Upper body strength training? Okay, so I’m determined to get back into strength training. I’ve been ignoring it, and let’s just say I’m not too happy with the Atlantic ocean that has become my upper arms, so I’m starting slow with things I can do at home until I at least get my motivation back up enough to get in the weight room, and do some legit strength training. It’s weird, before I started running, strength training was my favorite, and now I dread it. Anyway, I did 3 sets of 10 regular and dip push ups, 2x1min planks, and my dance ab warm up that I used this summer. I was SORE the next day, so even though the whole thing only took me about 15 minutes, I feel like it did something?

Wednesday: 2 mile run. No, seriously. I waited around too long, ran out of time, and that’s just all that was in the cards that morning. It was probably for the best. After my Monday run my foot started really bugging me, and I wanted just a short easy run to see how it was feeling after hours of icing. The good news is, I felt AWESOME! The whole run felt so easy, and I really wanted to keep going, but I had a time deadline, so 2 miles ended up being it. I went out with the intentions of taking it super slow, but without garmin stalking, I settled into a 9:30 pace that felt like a breeze. That never happens for me. It was great!

Thursday: 8.7 mile bike, upper body. Rode to Dutch Bros, then repeated Tuesdays strength training. Twice in one week–WHAT??

Friday: 11.32 mile run. 3 miles easy, 2 at goal pace, 1 easy, 2 at goal pace, 1 easy. I felt super sluggish during this run. The marathon pace miles felt harder than usual, and I was just having a hard time getting my head in the game. Luckily, I had Nicole there to yell at me when I slowed down which was about every 5 seconds. Just kidding, she didn’t yell, she just ran in front of me and told me to hurry up in the way that the best running friends nicely do when you’re kinda sucking ;) . Anyway, I still finished with an average pace of 10:07 and hit all my paces, so even though I wasn’t super into it mentally, I’m glad I got it done.

Saturday: Rest. 

Sunday: Fiesta Bowl 5k. Recap coming soon. Spoiler alert: it was one of the coolest days of my life, and included some happy tears :)