My Top 10 Marathon Bucket List

I’ve been compiling a list of the vacations marathons I want to experience in the future. It’s time I finally make a list, a plan and start saving my money!

Chicago Marathon– October 12, 2014
It’s one of the largest and most popular marathons in the world. With 45,000 runners upwards of a million spectators, who wouldn’t want to run this flat, fast course!? Many race reviews name it as the race with the best chance for a PR. As of this week, my name is in the lottery! I’ll find out April 14 if I’m in. Here’s to my sub-4 goal!! My bestie, Emily will be running this as her first every marathon- on the Susan G. Komen team. To learn more about her journey and help her raise money for a cure, visit her donation page.

St. Jude Memphis Marathon– December 6, 2014
This was another race that Chad told me was a favorite of his. Which is the whole reason I ran Little Rock this year. The kids who are well enough to leave their hospital rooms, come down to cheer on the runners, while others watch from their hospital room windows. It gives me chills to think about and I’m sure it would be enough to move me to tears. I can’t think of a better cause to run for. If I can swing it, I’d like to tack this on to my schedule this year. AND, since my family and I didn’t make it to Graceland last month, that would definitely be on our schedule!

Big Sur International Marathon, Monterey, CA- April
Look at these photos- no additional explanation needed!Big Sur 1Big Sur 4 Big Sur 3 Big Sur 2
Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon– October
I live in KC and have yet to run the KC Marathon. Last year, I opted for the Des Moines Marathon instead because I heard it was flatter my family is from that area. Ok, and yes– because I heard KC was hilly. BUT, now that I have Little Rock under my belt, I’m not scared. So many running club friends run this race and so I hope to get on my schedule soon.

Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge– January
Four courses, four days and 48.6 miles. Dopey participants run the 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. If you complete all four races within the pacing requirements you will be awarded the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge medal and the brand new Dopey Challenge finisher medal for a total of six pieces of “bling.” Heck yes. The $530 registration fee is the only thing holding me back. I can’t think of a race that would be more entertaining than the ones put on by Disney!

Marine Corps Marathon– October
“Marathon of the Monuments” starts in Arlington, VA and runners see sites such as historic Georgetown, the Lincoln Memorial, scenic Potomac River, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, FDR Memorial, National Mall, WWII Memorial, Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Castle, Holocaust Museum, and of course, the U.S. Capitol. What a scenic, historic, and memorial run!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas– November
I’ve never been to Vegas but I’ve wanted to. I hear it’s a little over-rated but what would be cooler than running a marathon… on the Strip… at night? Nothing. I’ve also never done a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon but if were to- this is the one. Talk about a super awesome atmosphere!

Route 66 Marathon, Tulsa, OK- November
This is another one that I could double up on. Since most marathons in the KC area are in October (or April), I could feasibly travel to Tulsa a month later for this race (as long as I was still in good shape) and get two marathons in the fall. AND if you register early enough, it’s only $60!

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon– April
I’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby, but I’ve always wanted to go. Perfect vacation- run a marathon, go to the Kentucky Derby… Okay, so they are two weeks apart, so it would be a really loooong vacation but I think it would be a super fun race.

Hatfield McCoy Marathon, Kentucky/West Virginia border- June
Because you can’t go wrong when moonshine is involved…. Ha! The course travels through Kentucky and West Virginia. They also have a double half option where you run two different half courses back to back and they are timed separately and separate medals. I found this race from The T-Rex Runner who says this race is her favorite. Blackberry Mountain sounds like a heck of a challenge (it’s a 1.25 mile long incline)! After the race, the Hatfield-McCoy Festival takes place and you grab your mason jar finisher’s award, medal, and some food. T-Rex Runner says, “This race is still the best race ever. There is literally no competition in my mind. I’m glad I came back again this year because it firmly cemented my feelings that this is my favorite marathon by far. There are a lot of good races out there, but in my personal opinion, this is the most fun you’ll have running 26.2 miles. The volunteers are incredible,  the course is both beautiful and interesting, and you get a lot of really unique special touches that you just don’t get at the bigger races.”

That’s my list! Which of these races have you experienced? Would you recommend them? What races are on your bucket list?

I’ve Got the Runs

Emily is my best friend. We met freshman year of college and lived together for 3 years during college. Recently, somehow, I convinced her that running a marathon would be a good idea. Follow her journey of half marathon training (currently), and eventually, a marathon before she’s 30. She’ll be running the Des Moines Half in October. Here’s an excerpt of her recent post:

“I think I might’ve just agreed to run a marathon as something I want to do before I turn 30. Granted, that’s not technically for another, oh…4 years, but I’m already fighting off that ‘oh shit’ feeling. Can I plead temporary insanity and back out? It’s already too late isn’t it…I won’t be an Indian giver on this one. (Side note: what’s the politically correct way to phrase that these days?)

Just for some background information: I hate running. Physically, mentally HATE running. The miles I was required to run in high school didn’t exactly make me love the sport. I never had enough self motivation to push myself further and faster, and was always towards the back of the pack. Which is why I was usually the douche that instigated the game of leapfrog around the track rather than take the yearly fitness test seriously.

Like most girls (other than you lucky/proactive bitches out there) I gained weight in college. Can we say ‘hello, beer and shitty all-you-can-eat cafeteria food’? I could ignore the size 18 jeans until a night out for a bachelorette party when I suddenly looked around and was the fattest (I still use that term fairly loosely-it is what you make it) girl there. 6 years of bored eating and drinking bitch slapped me in the face right then and there.”

Continue reading this post on her blog “It’s Me Emily B”

Running Milestones

My first 5K-- Fairgrounds 5K, Des Moines, IA

My first 5K– Fairgrounds 5K, Des Moines, IA

Runners have lots of milestones. I’ll never forget the day I decided I was going to train for a 5K. I was at my parents’ house and I set out for the trail around the lake behind their house. Half a mile. That was it. I remember walking back to the house and explaining to my mom that I had a long road ahead. For the next several weeks I followed my own made up training plan and completed my very first 5K (running all the way!) in November of 2009.

I continued to run in small town Kansas after moving there from Iowa for my first job out of college. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I ran. Later, I heard about a running club in the town I worked in. Weekday runs didn’t jive with my schedule but I decided to give it a try one Saturday morning. I had never ran with anyone and was positive I’d be embarrassed. My slow pace, panting was surely more than anyone could handle.

My first 10K--Scipio to Garnett, KS

My first 10K–Scipio to Garnett, KS

 

I showed up to the REC Center (the usual meeting place for the G-Town Running Club) and two ladies were already there stretching. I pretended to know what I was doing but really I was nervous and was thinking of excuses to get back in the car and go home. Why did I have so much built up anxiety?!

Val, now someone I consider a good friend and running partner, explained to me that we were going to run 7 miles this particular morning and asked if I was game. I believe my response was “I’ll try!” I was able to keep up throughout the 7 miles on gravel roads and enjoyed the conversation. I was hooked.

My first half marathon- The Kansas Half, Lawrence, KS

My first half marathon- The Kansas Half, Lawrence, KS

I continued to run with the group on the weekends, meeting more and more runners from the community. The group decided to train for a half marathon. The thought was terrifying but I was already running with them, so I might as well train as well! I completed my first half marathon in April of 2012 in Lawrence, KS for the Kansas Half.

Then talks of a full marathon started. Super scary. I decided to commit. Heck, all my friends were doing it! 🙂 I told my family, boyfriend and friends that I was on to the next adventure of training for a full-marathon. Though I’m sure no one doubted my abilities (at least that I know of) I’m not sure everyone was convinced. After each long run I’d text my mom to tell her how it went and that I survived another 10, 15 or 20 mile run.

It’s funny how certain runs or distances stick in your memory. I’ll never forget the first time I ran 15 miles. It was a hot summer in Kansas. We were starting our runs around 6:00 or 6:40 am to get them in before the heat was terrible. The group of us met and decided we’d run the Prairie Spirit Trail out 7.5 miles and back. Which meant there was no quitting- we had to get back!

The first half went fine but the heat continued to rise. Some of our group members had planted water and Pedialyte freezer pops in coolers along the trail. It took everything I had to get from one water stop to the next- usually only a mile apart. Those Pedialytes pops saved my life that day. Each of us made it though we thought otherwise. Val started to hallucinated sounds of a stream and I did everything I could to put one foot in front of the other. Once we completed the 15 miles and a round of high-fives one of the members said, “So do you think we can run another 11.2 to complete a marathon.” No. My response may have been, “Hell no!” Just as I was feeling like I was getting somewhere, those feelings were instantly shot down when thinking about the thought of another 11.2 miles on race day.

The first time I hit 20 miles was another milestone. Val and I finished feeling great and had a 9:40 average pace throughout the 20-miles. We ran in town, on gravel roads and finished on the trail. After this run I was beginning to think I could actually run a marathon.

Val walks me across the finish of my first marathon--The Prairie Fire Marathon, Wichita, KS

Val walks me across the finish of my first marathon–The Prairie Fire Marathon, Wichita, KS

My first marathon wasn’t all I had hoped for with being injured and in pain most of the race but the second one (completed a few weeks ago) was one I’ll remember. I had gained passion for running again and have never been so proud of myself. It was amazing experience and I’ll never forget throwing my hands in the air to cross that finish line.

Marathon #2-- Garmin Marathon, Olathe, KS

Marathon #2– Garmin Marathon, Olathe, KS a 4:44 finish

 

These highlights all came to mind when my best friend, Emily e-mailed me this week. Subject line: Marathon Before I’m 30. That’s right folks, she’s going to work her way up to a 10K, half marathon and full marathon over the next year and a half (though she has more time than that). I’m so excited for her as she’ll be making her own memories and pushing herself physically and mentally through the highs and lows of training. Chicago Marathon 2014–here we come!

Emily and I at the Color Run

Emily and I at the Color Run

What running milestones do you have vivid memories of?