Category Archives: Marathon

Saucony 26 Strong – Chicago


Here we go again!

Last year I had the honor and the privilege to be a coach for the Saucony 26 Strong program. Saucony and Competitor Group chose 13 coaches to guide 13 cadets for their first marathons. We were 26 strong women on a journey of a lifetime.

Running the Honolulu Marathon with Kailey and several of the other members of 26 Strong was unbelievable. I definitely thought it was a once in a lifetime experience. When Saucony contacted me in early April to ask if I would be a coach for this year’s program, I couldn’t believe it. Was this for real?

Honolulu Marathon mile 25 |

You never will forget your first marathon.

This year all 13 teams will be running the Chicago Marathon on October 11. It’s quite funny that my running partner in crime, Sarah, had been trying to convince me to run Chicago with her all winter long. When Saucony contacted me to ask if I would be a coach for this year’s program, of course I immediately said YES! I’ll go anywhere! And then I found out it was Chicago. Obviously, it was destiny!
To have all the teams running the same race this year, is going to be amazing. We truly will be 26 Strong.
Saucony 26 Strong |


Say “Hello!” to my new cadet, Marina!

My name is Marina, I am 33 years old and live in New Hampshire. I am married to my super tolerant, supportive husband, Jordan and together we have two awesome kiddos and one crazy dog, Archie (my running buddy)! I graduated from University of New Hampshire with an Exercise Science degree and currently work part-time in the Diagnostic Testing center of a hospital. I grew up watching my mom run regularly, but never began running myself until my mid to late 20’s. Running a marathon was something I had thought about, but never had the guts to try on my own. Given the opportunity to have a coach guide me through the training for a  marathon was something I could not miss out on! I am most looking forward to challenging myself and learning ways to improve my running to complete 26.2 miles!!
Marina Saucony 26 Strong Chicago

I’m so excited to be along for Marina’s first marathon! We got to know each other about 5 years ago when we both were new mama’s trying to figure out what the hell we were doing. She’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet and is just completely real about everything. While she’s nervous about the distance and how to fit in all the miles for training, I know she will do great. She will find her strong and it will be marvelous.

I can’t wait to say the words, “Marina, you are a marathoner!”

The Story of My Boston Marathon DNF

Boston Marathon Finish LIne |

By now, you all know that I got my first DNF during the Boston Marathon last week. Hands down one of the most horrible days of my life so far. I can look back at it now and actually laugh at how the events unfolded. This stuff seriously only happens to me!

So let’s start from the beginning. Grab some coffee and a snack. For having my race cut short, this is a very, very long post.

(Side note – this post is also very word heavy and picture light – my phone battery died early on that day).

Sarah and I decided to hire a car service to take us straight to Hopkinton from our houses in New Hampshire rather than making the trek into the city for the buses from the Common. We got a few more hours of sleep and didn’t have to worry about parking, etc. When the swanky black Lincoln pulled into my driveway and the driver opened my door for me as I wore my fanciest throw away clothes, I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it must have looked to my neighbors. Our driver was awesome. He kept telling us we were crazy and couldn’t understand why we would want to run 26.2 miles.

Since all the exits to Hopkinton were closed at 7 a.m., our driver had to drop us off right on I-495. Sarah and I could not stop laughing as we walked past the state police officers who directed us to take a right at the bottom of the exit to find the shuttles to the Athlete’s Village. We looked like refugees with nothing but the clothes on our back and a small bag of food. Of course, just at that time it started to downpour too.

Refugee runners |

We continued to walk along the empty street. It was very strange to see no cars or people except for military/police. We stopped at a Cumberland Foods gas station to use the bathroom. Never pass up an opportunity to NOT have to use a port-a-potty! There was only one car parked in the lot – a black SUV full of guys in camo – I think I saw one with FBI on his back.

The guy working the station was so nice to give us huge heavy duty trash bags to protect us from the rain. They were much better than our standard kitchen bags we had brought along. Again, we couldn’t stop laughing at the oddity of it all.

As we continued walking, we came upon a group of state cops. We asked where the shuttle was. The guy looked at us like we were nuts – it was in the direction that we had just come from on the other side of the interstate. We should have taken a left rather than a right. We were 1/2 way to the Village so we just kept walking for about another 3/4 of a mile.

The Athlete’s Village was bumping. A huge tent, music, potties everywhere and just an excitement in the air. We found a spot to sit on our trash bags and just veg for a bit. Sarah didn’t have much time before her wave started. I tried to stay off my phone as much as possible. My battery had been draining really fast lately so I wanted to make sure I had enough for the whole race in case I needed it at the end (foreshadowing – I needed it way before then!).

athlete's village

Sarah’s wave was ready to go. After hugs and good lucks, she was gone and I was alone with my nerves as I people watched. (She went on to have a GREAT race and finish in 3:35). Thankfully, Laura, Jill and Rachel were on the way from the Commons so I’d have company soon. Laura and I had agreed to run with each the day before. She didn’t have any time expectations and wanted to help me try to achieve my goals. I was excited to not only have someone to run with, but a chance to hang out with Laura and just talk IRL.

The whole time in the Village, it wasn’t raining at all. The wind had picked up, but I was bundled up to the max and felt comfy. The girls finally arrived and we made last minute stops at the potties. Before I knew it, we were walking the 1/2 mile to the starting line. I finally ditched most of my throw away clothes but at the last minute kept on a long sleeve 1/2 zip over my tank. Best move ever especially now knowing what was going to happen 8 miles down the road.


I had no idea where the starting line was until the crowd started moving forward faster and eventually I crossed over. I guess it was time to start running! And that also meant, bring on the rain. I was warned it was going to be packed, but it was REALLY packed. The first 3 miles were very congested. I really didn’t want to waste energy weaving around runners, but there were so many different paces (including walkers) that it was hard not to. I tried to stay to the left and was able to find a little bit of a clearer path that way, although I did encounter some elbows and just generally running into people. I kept laughing each time I’d glance to see if Laura was still around. She was hard to miss in her bright orange poncho – she was like a running flame!

By mile 3, things had cleared out a bit and we were able to settle in. Things were going along great. The crowds were fantastic. People cooking out and the smell of beer was quite strong in spots. Out of nowhere, around mile 6, I got a sharp, intense, shooting pain in my left ankle that radiated down into my arch and heel. I started to hobble. And panic. I told Laura and we stopped so I could walk and stretch it out. That did nothing. It just hurt – a lot. I couldn’t get up on my toes and I couldn’t put weight on my heel. I tried to land with my foot flat, but even that was like having a knife dig into my arch. The panic intensified with each step. WTF? Why now? It’s so early in the race. And why isn’t it going away? My thoughts swirled – I can do this. It will go away. You can run/walk if needed. But the more I hobbled, the more I realized the truth. I couldn’t continue this hobble for 18 miles. If I did, I’d either be really, really hurt later or be hypothermic.

We both spotted a med tent at mile 8. At this point, we both knew what I needed to do although I couldn’t really voice it. To drop out of a race in front of spectators cheering in shitty conditions, runners persevering through the tough day, and volunteers sticking it out, was one of the more miserable moments of my running life. I felt (feel) like such a failure.

I held it together until the second that I gave Laura a hug and told her to run on without me. As soon as the EMT took my arm, I broke down. I became a blubbering, freezing cold mess. I guess that’s the look of realizing a huge dream wasn’t going to happen and my heart being completely pulverized into a thousand little pieces.

SO how do you find your family when you are in a point to point race and are clueless of what town you are even in? Here’s where the real fun began…

From mile 8, four other DNFers besides me were loaded into a van that then brought us to a big school bus about a mile away. On that bus there was at least an additional 20 or more DNFers. Our final destination was the big med tent at the finish line. Enroute I got one frantic text out to Ron that I was a DNF. My whole family was at the aquarium still since it would have been hours before I would have been close to mile 25 where they were hoping to spectate. We nailed down a meeting place at the Hynes Convention T before my phone battery died.

Once we got to the finish line, we were given another mylar blanket and basically told “See ya!” if you didn’t need any further treatment. A volunteer told me to walk around the tent to get to Boylston St. and then I could just walk up to my destination. One little problem – I was at the finish line and there was no entry at that point. Somehow I managed to end up in the VIP finish line area and a woman handing out medals assumed I had was one of them. She yelled congratulations! as I hobbled my way towards her. She tried placing a finishers medal around my neck. I mumbled that I didn’t finish and started taking the medal off as I started to cry (again). She refused to take it back and I refused to keep it. In the end, she won. I just wanted to get away from all of it. So now I have a medal that I didn’t earn. I hate that I have it. I want to send it back.

It took forever to get to our meeting spot. There were so many road closures. My foot was throbbing. I was limping. So many people who were congratulating me on my finish that I stopped even saying anything or acknowledging it. I know they were just being nice, but it was like getting kicked in the stomach every single time. I wanted to ditch the mylar blanket so people would just leave me alone, but it was the only semi-warm thing I had. I borrowed random strangers phones to try to get in touch with Ron again.

I finally made it to our meeting spot and stood against the wall, waiting. And waiting. And having more people congratulate me. It was agony. After about a 1/2 hour of waiting, I made friends with three Mass Transit Officers. They got me a chair, water and tried to keep me blocked from the wind so I could stay a little warmer. I used one of their phones to call Ron two more times. They had got turned around on the T and ended up having to walk to find me.

When they finally showed up, I burst into tears. I just wanted to go home, take a warm shower and go to bed.

Everything happens for a reason. Do you know how many times I’ve been told this in the past 9 days? Whatever the reason is, I hope it’s a damn good one. I’m still pissed. I’m still upset. But it’s getting better. That’s the beauty of time. It heals. But I’ll never forget the events of my first DNF and my first Boston Marathon.

I may never know why this happened.

What I do know is that I am not done running marathons.

What I do know is that I am most definitely not done with Boston.

I will run across that iconic finish line rather than posing for a picture.

All the Fun Before The Boston Marathon

I’m back!

First off – thank you SO much for all the comments, emails, tweets and messages. I knew you guys would get the hurt that I was feeling. You sure know how to make a girl feel loved!

I’m still upset about the whole nightmare and I’m sure I will be for quite some time. Especially since I can’t run for the next month or so. Running is my go-to way to get through happy and sad times. Without it, I’m a crabby mess who is ready to bite your head off at any second. My official diagnosis is Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis – basically an overuse injury. And it’s in my left foot. The one that had Achilles Tendonopathy last fall AND the unlucky one that had a frozen burrito land on it the week before the race. I had no warning signs at all during my training and no one has any answers about why it happened. Just my good luck I guess. Seriously…this stuff only happens to me!

Before my ankle blew up on me during the race, I had a marvelous weekend. Part of the whole race experience is all the fun before the Boston Marathon.

Friday afternoon, myself and three friends headed down to Boston to the Expo. After being totally confused by a valet parking service, we made our way to Haynes Convention Center. But first we needed a glimpse of the finish line. I got chills as I immediately thought of the events from 2 years ago.

Group Boston Marathon finish line |

Bib pickup was quick and easy. We then headed into the expo for all the goods. This was by far the biggest expo I’ve ever been to. It was a runner’s dream for one stop shopping. We made a point of stopping by the B.I.C. Bands booth to see Sandy and all the super cute bands (that seriously do not move!). Sadly, I didn’t get a pic with Sandy. She’s such a sweet person!

And of course, we stopped for a drink with Stonyfield.

Stonyfield Yogurt BOston Marathon |

The highlight of the day was getting to meet two amazing, iconic women athletes – Kathryn Switzer and Nicole DeBoom. Kathryn was so sweet, sincere and genuinely interesting in talking with every single person in line. She signed our bibs upside down so that we could look down and see FEARLESS. Imagine where we would be without her being fearless back in 1967 AND 1972?

Katherine Switzer

And Nicole – the lady who brought us the running skirt. Her company, Skirt Sports, is all about empowering the fierce, female athlete. Back in the fall, I actually had a phone conversation with her. How many CEO’s of a company would personally contact a little ol’ blogger like myself? It shows that she cares about her company and wants it to be more than just a name.

Nicole DeBoom

I stayed home Saturday, hanging out with the family. Early Sunday morning, it was back down to Boston for a shake out run with Girls on the Run and Athleta. Ron came along with me since I’m clueless about where anything is in the city.

Team Stonyfield GOTR  happyfitmama.comLaura, me, Aura, Janae, Rachel, Megan

I was finally getting the chance to meet most of Team Stonyfield. It was so nice to finally hug and put voices to faces. You know you are with good people when you can immediately start chattering away like long lost friends. And that’s how it was with everyone. The girls and I actually decided not to run since we figured we’d have a shake out walk with all the steps we’d be putting in for the day. We chatted, ate Stonyfield yogurt (of course!) and granola and basically wanted to buy the whole Athleta store.

We then had some free time before lunch. Laura and her husband were headed over to the expo to pick up her bib. Rachel and I, along with Ron tagged along. While inside I got a text from Brian.


After years of following each others blogs, we finally were in the same spot, at the same time. He was at the finish line hanging out with Scott Jurek – did we want to meet him? Ummm…YES! Ever since I read Scott’s book, Eat & Run, I’ve been a huge fan. He grew up near Duluth, MN, where I went to college, and is friends with one of my professors. It’s always so cool when you are reading a book and you know the exact places that they are describing. I felt like we were practically family. But then again, isn’t everyone from the upper Midwest?

Scott Jurek Boston Marathon

He was so nice and also very tall. After meeting Scott, we ventured over to Newbury St. for lunch at Sonsie’s (which was so good!) and then back to the expo for pics at the Stonyfield booth before parting ways and resting up for the big day.

Team Stonyfield  happyfitmama.comLaura, Tina, Rachel, Megan, Me, Janae, Jill, Aura, Melanie (from Stonyfield)

I could go into the events of what happened Marathon Monday morning right now, but I’ll have to save that for another post. It’s already a post that is longer than most marathons. From our ride down to Hopkinton in a limo – (you gotta love when you are dressed in your best throw away clothes with a trash bag over it all and the driver opens the door for you #keepitclassy) – to being the only two Refugee runners walking through the empty streets except for FBI agents in military gear – and of course, the fiasco of finding my family after my DNF. Like I said – stuff like this only happens to me!

I can’t thank Stonyfield enough for letting me be a part of the amazing Team Stonyfield runners. It’s always great to find a company not only produces an amazing product, but genuinely cares about it’s employees (including the cows!) and every life they touch. I just wish I could have had a race that would have allowed me to show off my bright orange Stonfyield jersey and spread the organic love a little more. Boston has stole my runner heart and I will definitely be back one day to finish what I started.

Until then…