When Things Don’t Go As Planned…

I (Jen) have been putting off writing this post for about a week now, probably because I’ve been trying not to think about it. I haven’t been able to run in nearly three weeks, and have had to defer the Chicago Marathon to 2017.

Lets back up a bit.

A few days before we left for Michigan my hips were sore, but that isn’t out of the ordinary for me. My hips get cranky frequently. I figured they just needed some extra stretching or foam rolling and I’d be good to go. Here’s how the next few days progressed

Saturday: Three miles on the schedule. I had woken up still feeling stiff and sore from being in the car for 18 hours, so I took it really easy. My right hip felt tight, but not overly uncomfortable

Sunday: 16 miles on the schedule, completed 15. My hips were both still really stiff so I was making a lot of stops to stretch and still taking it slowly. By the end of the run it was starting to get pretty uncomfortable but I didn’t really think much of it. I had run out of town and had Travis pick me up when I was finished and I remember him telling me just to stretch it really well and relax.

The view from my last long run- headed towards Lake Superior in the distance.

Monday: Rest day, lots of stretching but my right hip was really sore. We didn’t bring our foam roller along so I made do with a lacrosse ball that my brother had to try to get things loosened up.

Tuesday: Was planning on three easy miles, couldn’t make it through one. Every time I was landing and pushing off with my right leg I was getting pain all through my hip, and everything was seizing up (the feeling was like when you get a foot cramp). After talking to my coach we decided that a few days rest were in order.

Over the next few days the pain wasn’t letting up and I was feeling it while I was walking as well. All of the surrounding muscles were really tight and the joint of my hip was very tender. I got a massage and saw a chiropractor- the only things I could really do at that point being 18 hours away from home. My SI joint was really out of alignment and I was hoping that after an adjustment I would start to feel better, but no such luck.

I put in a call to my primary doctor, knowing that I would need a referral to see a PT. They weren’t able to get me an appointment for six weeks and were not willing to write a referral without physically seeing me. There wasn’t much I could do from Michigan so I would have to wait until we got home to try to figure out getting a PT referral. I called a ton of different doctors locally and nobody was able to get me into their schedule.

Once we were home I tested out my hip with a very short run to see if the several days off had helped. It hadn’t. I was also getting pain from just walking around the house doing normal activities and would end up limping by the days end.

Still not able to get an appointment, I called a friend of ours that is a physical therapist and she was willing to see me to take a look and give a general recommendation on what I could do. After checking the range of motion and doing several other tests with me she informed me that she was almost certain that I had a labral tear but I would need to follow up with orthopedic and have some imaging done to confirm it. Definitely not the news I wanted to hear.

After a lot of thinking and a few tears I decided that it was time to back out of the upcoming races- both Ragnar Adirondacks and Chicago.

A few days later I was in a lot of pain and decided to make a trip to urgent care. Within minutes of being there I had a referral to an orthopedic surgeon and an appointment for ten days later.

I still don’t have any concrete answers, and I’m not expecting them to come quickly. My appointment with the surgeon’s PA is on Monday, and I’ll still have to schedule any imaging after that.

To say that I’m not extremely disappointed about missing both of the races would be a lie. I gave myself a day to be angry about it and am now doing my best to shake it off. The only thing I can focus on now is rehabbing my hip so that I can get back to running again as soon as possible.In the meantime, I’m doing what I can in terms of exercising and going a little stir crazy in the process (there’s been a lot of crochet happening around here). My PT friend recommended not doing a ton until I saw ortho, so I’m trying to follow orders and keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t need surgery.

I also have to take into consideration how well the training was going before this all started, and I can be happy with what I had accomplished up to this point. I’m looking forward to coming back stronger than before.


Dont give up a goal due to the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway:

I’m still looking forward to heading back to Chicago to cheer on Travis while he runs and am thinking about what other races I’d like to do next year.


Phew. That ended up being a lot longer than I planned. Kudos to you if you made it to the end!



My Journey to the Chicago Marathon – Week 1

17 Weeks to go until the 2016 Chicago Marathon. Wait…What?


It felt kind of strange to type the title of this post. I still can’t believe that I’m actually going to do this!

After a few days off after the Buffalo Half Marathon it was time to start training again, but this time I’m headed towards some uncharted territory! I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous about this, but I’m going to do my best to trust the process and trust that my body is capable of making it through 26.2 miles in one piece.


Thankfully, I am still conditioned from Buffalo so I don’t have to spend a lot of time building up a base again and can focus on working up to the long runs that are coming very soon.


Here’s the workouts from my first week of training:

Sunday: 4 miles

Monday: 2 miles

Tuesday: 3.5 miles

Wednesday: 6.2 miles- 1 mile warm up, 6×800 with 4 minute recovery, 1 mile cool down.

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: unplanned day off

Sunday: 10 miles

Total: 29.7 miles

Other things that I’m thinking about going into training:

-Fuel: I can typically make it through a half marathon with either just Nuun/water or a couple of Shot Bloks as long as I’ve had a substantial breakfast. I don’t think that this is going to be the case for a full marathon so I need to start exploring some other fueling options. I’m not a fan of gels, so any suggestions of things to try would be appreciated!

-Strength Training: I want to make sure that I’m doing everything that I can to be successful for this training so I’ve been putting some extra focus on strength training. The areas that I am working mainly on are my hips and core and I’ve been throwing in a little bit of Yoga to get in a good stretch (and finding out that I’m extremely unflexible).

My Focus Areas For This Training Cycle

The Syracuse Half Marathon will be my 6th Half. In the past, I’ve done the training but never put much more into it than that. I ran a few times during the week and did a long runs on the weekend. Pretty standard stuff. I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking on this training cycle a little differently. I’m taking it more seriously, if you will. In the past I would get frustrated when I kept getting the same result, but the truth was that I wasn’t putting in the work to get anything more out of myself.

My current PR for a half is 2:45:43 (Nike Women’s Half Marathon-D.C.- oh how I wish they would bring this race back!) Not very fast (yes, I know speed is a relative term). The last 2 half marathons that I’ve run have been around the 2:53 mark and I’ve run them extremely under trained. I don’t recommend that to anyone. It’s not fun.


I’ve decided that Syracuse will most likely not end up being my A race for the spring and that I’m going to make Buffalo my goal race (much flatter course than Syracuse) but I still want a PR in Syracuse. I’d like to land somewhere around 2:37/38 I think.

I thought I would share a little bit about my areas of focus for the upcoming races. I’m hoping that my coach will be able to help me develop a little bit better of a plan once we get rolling but here’s where my thoughts are currently.

Varied workouts: This will be the first time that I am regularly incorporating different kinds of runs into my training. In order to get faster I can’t just run at the same pace every time so I’ve got track work, tempo runs, pace runs and equally important easy runs. I listened to a seminar the other night presented by Run Smart Online and he had some really great points regarding effort in different kinds of runs and how they affect training. There’s different times for different speeds.

Strength: This time around I have plans to do additional workouts 3 times a week. I have extremely weak hips and core and I think that’s what ends up making my IT band cranky so I’ve been doing some research on which exercises will help out with that.

Pacing: I am terrible at regulating my pace outside. This is one of the big benefits to running on a treadmill for me, I can set the speed and it stays the same. I don’t know what my issue is when I’m outside though. The plan is to check my watch more regularly to monitor and make adjustments to my pace.

Mental Toughness: This is probably the most important for me. I’m a big time head case. I would be willing to bet that self sabotage is the reason that I haven’t been able to break that PR. I need to work on my confidence and figure out ways to get myself through the mental walls that I hit.




What helps you when you hit a mental wall?

What are your favorite exercises for core/hip strength?


Jen’s Journey: Syracuse Half Marathon Training Plan

Training has begun for my first race of the year – the Syracuse Half Marathon. Race day is April 3rd so we’re only 11 weeks out. This will be my 2nd time running this race and Travis’ 3rd. It’s a sold out event this year with 5,000 runners participating.

syracuse elevation1

My journey to 26.2 miles in Chicago on October 9th will begin by training for this spring race. I have a lofty goal for Syracuse – taking over 15 minutes off my personal best. Ultimately I want to use this race as a springboard for the demanding training that will follow this event.

Travis and I could not find a training plan that we felt was appropriate for my goals . Plans were either too advanced for me or too easy with not enough mileage or speedwork. Therefore we have come up with our own training plan by combining multiple plans that were available to us. It ended up being a combination of a Higdon Intermediate plan with tweaked mileage and a lot of the speed work was from marathon training plans with the distances adjusted.

Our intention while designing this plan was to run more miles than I have in previous training, building up my base and engine. Increasing mileage is stressful on your body and should be done gradually over time which I feel we accomplished overall. We also wanted to be sure to include strength training and speed work into the plan. I know strength is only listed on the plan once weekly but I plan on doing at least 3 days a week of strength training. I lost nearly the entire first week of training but thankfully I haven’t had any issues picking up with the second week.

It should be noted that we are not professional runner’s, trainer’s or coaches. We did the best we could incorporating recommended training methods. So without further ado, here is my plan!

Syracuse training plan

15 minutes seems like a lot to shave off, especially after over a year of not running much at all but I’m hoping that by taking a different approach to this training cycle that I’ll see some great results.


Does anybody have any experience creating their own plan? Any advice for me going into this training cycle?



Looking Ahead to 2016

You may have noticed that only one of us has been running. Between work schedules, kids, and life in general we have found that it works best for us to alternate years for our big goal races. It becomes very difficult for us to both be training at the same time. Last year, I ran the Disney Princess Half, the Syracuse Half, and the Nike Women’s Half D.C. This year it was Travis’ turn to choose a major event to do and ended up doing both Chicago and NYC. He had aggressive goals for these races and with those kind of goals come with equally as aggressive training plans. I was able to fit in 2 halfs (Buffalo and the Canal Run) earlier in the year before his training really ramped up but decided that it would be a smart idea to forego a fall race this year. I’ve still been running, sneaking them in on the treadmill when time allows.

Now that his race season is over for the year it is time to start looking ahead to 2016. After much debate in my head, I have decided that 2016 will be the year that I go for a full marathon. To be completely honest, this idea is terrifying to me but I think that it’s time to see what my body can do. I had looked at several races and have ultimately decided that Chicago will be my goal race for the year. I plan on running with Team Up! with Autism Speaks as a charity runner (actually, both of us are planning to run with them.).

The plan:

I’m currently building my base back up after only sporadic running for the past several months. Our lives have finally calmed down a bit after a really crazy fall so I’ve been working on getting my legs back in shape. At the end of December I will start a training plan for the Syracuse Half Marathon on April 3. I’m looking to PR at this race so there is going to be a lot of speed work thrown into this training cycle- something that I haven’t really done before. I’m still trying to decide which plan I’m going to follow for Syracuse, but I’m leaning right now towards a Higdon Intermediate plan. I’m thinking that running more miles may be the way to go for me in order to hit my goals for this race.


I’m hoping to add in a couple other races in the spring/early summer and will begin training in June for Chicago. At the end of August I’m planning on running the 18.12 Challenge as a training run and to see where my conditioning is at going into Chicago.

So, that’s where I’m at for now! I’m planning on documenting my whole experience and doing weekly updates so you can all follow along! #journeyto26point2

For you marathoners- Which race was your first full?
Any tips for me going into my first marathon?

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