joining the club

On Saturday morning I ran 18 miles with the last 4 miles at race pace.  I started out slower, running the first 5 miles at right about a 9:00 mile.  Those miles were really wonderful as I shared them with my good friend Amy.  I’ve been doing most of my long runs solo this training cycle and it was just so nice to have Amy’s company for the first part of my run.  She is working really hard and seeing great improvements in her speed, efficiency and endurance and I think we will be running more together as training progresses, which makes me super excited!!

The paces I’m training at this time around are for a 3:30 marathon finish (my BQ time is sub-3:40, so this should give me some wiggle room), which would be an 8:00/mile average on race day.  According to the McMillan Pace Calculator, my long runs should be done at a pace somewhere between an 8:31-9:31 mile.  I’ve tested the waters here and have been really happy that all of my long runs have been at the faster end of that range, usually right about an 8:30 average.  Sunday’s run was no different.  I averaged an 8:32 pace and my last four miles were 8:16, 7:49, 8:01 and 7:50.

I finished strong.

The other day I read a post by Eric Eagan that really got me thinking.  He talks about his dream of qualifying for Boston and how we often make excuses for why our dreams don’t matter or why we will never accomplish them.  He also talks about failure – and how not reaching our goals right away is not only okay, but good for us.   He calls it the “Failure Club” – and I love this idea.  Keep fighting, keep failing, pick yourself back up and go after it again.  This post really struck me to my core, because I know that a year ago I had the same kind of mindset when it came to my running – I was a bit shy about my running dreams and didn’t let them thrive.

Not any more.  That is not the way I think these days.  I am okay with failing.  I will not give up on my dreams.  I will shout them from a mountain top for all the world to hear.

One a year ago my 5k PR was 25:22, which is an 8:10 average pace.  I remember running that race and thinking to myself WOW, that was fast. That was HARD.  Because it was.  I was absolutely SPENT – heavy breathing, nausea and legs that felt like they were made of jelly – when I crossed that finish line.  I gave it my all.

The fact that I am now training to run 26.2 miles at a pace even faster than that, and that I know I am capable of  it, just stuns me.  Every time I think of it, I cannot help but smile.

I know I haven’t crossed the finish line of a marathon with a BQ time yet.  But I also know that it WILL happen.  Maybe on March 17th.  If I don’t get it then though, you better believe I will pick myself up and try again.  I am not afraid to fail.

So, do not doubt the possibilities.  Do not rule anything out.  Do not stomp on your dreams because you think they sound silly (or because someone else does!).  As my friend Dorothy would say – no dream is too big!

BELIEVE in yourself.

If there is even the tiniest sliver of a dream shining inside of you, don’t ignore it.  Don’t dismiss it and put it off for another day.  Say it out loud.  Go after it.  Do NOT be afraid of failing.  Join the club!  

Rock My {Running} World: Meet Megan

Megan is a MARATHONER!! MCM – 2011
This next runner is living proof that if you decide to do something and are committed to it, you will find that you are capable of much more than you ever would have dreamed.  Megan’s journey as a runner is very inspiring – she works hard and trains smart and listens to her heart, always.  Her dedication and perseverance are truly admirable and I am so very proud to call her my SISTER ~ in running and in life.  I am truly excited for all that is in store for Megan as she continues on with her running and pursues her dreams!
Name:  Megan Godek
Age:  29
Location:  Centreville, VA
What do you do in “real” life?  I am a school based technology specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools.

How long have you been running?  I have been running consistently for about 3 years.
Why did you start running?  I started running because I was working with the Girls On the Run program at the school I was currently teaching at.  I thought I would just be a walk/runner, but then I realized that I could push myself farther and farther each day!
Personal Records:
Marathon:  4:43:12
Half Marathon:  2:07:03
10 miler:  1:39:28
10k:  58:39
5k:  30:05

What is your proudest running moment:  Knowing that I worked through an incredibly difficult last month (while working through personal issues) before my first marathon and was still able to finish strong and realize that I am stronger than I ever knew. 
Pick one of your favorite parts of the lululemon manifesto and tell me why it speaks to you:
Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.  I think this really goes with how I was feeling before MCM.  I felt very broken after splitting up with my boyfriend of 1.5 years, but I took my strength and anger and turned it into positive motivation to prove to myself that I could do more than I ever imagined.
Do you have a favorite running mantra?  Why does this work for you?:
Running is the best way to a clear mind.  I love this because when I am stressed or thinking about something too much a run puts it all into perspective.  No matter my mood before the run, I always feel stronger and happier after I have some alone time with my feet.

Tell us a little about what you do to strengthen your running (core training, yoga, Pilates, etc) and what do you do to protect yourself from injury? I do cross training (walking, biking, and ellipical) and sometimes Pilates.  I have to continue to focus on strengthening my quads because I have issues with my knees.
If you run with music, tell us a few of your favorite running songs: I listen to anything that you would make you want to jump up and dance, lots of top 40 stuff.  It gives me energy to push myself farther because I am having fun.
Megan and her besties having fun at VB Shamrock Half
What is your next race?  What is your goal for that race?  My next race is the Hot Chocolate 15k in December, but I just want to run that for the fondue, hahaha!  My next goal race is National Half Marathon in March. I want to break 2 hours!! 
What are your long term running goals?  My long term goals are to be able to run years from now and continue to stay strong and healthy. 

What advice do you have for other runners out there?  Just keep working.  I started by listening to my ipod and running a song, walking a song, then running two songs, walking 1, then running 3, walking 1 … eventually I just kept running.  You will have set backs, but remind yourself that they will make you stronger.  It isn’t about how far or how long you run.  A mile is a mile and a minute is a minute … it will always be a mile or a minute that you were doing more than someone else!

Who rocks your running world?  Tell us about someone who inspires you to be a better runner.  The people who rock my running world are all of the students and faculty that are involved in Girls on the Run programs across the nation.  They were what inspired me to start running and work harder every day.

Me and Megan holding the signs our family made for us, VB RnR Half, 2009

Rock My Running World: Meet Meghan

I could talk to you for hours on end about how inspiring this next runner is.  Meghan manages my favorite running store (=PR= at the Reston Town Center) and there could not be a better person for that job.  She is passionate about running.  She sincerely enjoys talking with people who run – whether they are just getting started or are seasoned racers.  She is open, honest and real – always more than happy to offer helpful advice and tips on anything from gear to nutrition to apparel.  
For years I had been shopping in that store and talking with Meghan, yet I had no idea what an accomplished runner she was.  It wasn’t until one day when I was reading my Runner’s World magazine and came across an article in which she was quoted that it finally occurred to me.  The article mentioned that Meghan had won the Shamrock Marathon in VA Beach in 2010, a race I had run that year also (and she finished nearly 2 hours sooner than I did!).  I just had to smile when I read that – I was instantly even more amazed by this person I had already grown to admire!  Meghan is also a mother and knows what it’s like to make the time to train while balancing the responsibilities and joys of having a family.  She works harder than hard.  She is humble and gracious.  But as amazing as her running records are, I think it is her “attitude of gratitude” and the way she carries herself in life that inspire me the most.  
I am truly honored to introduce you to Meghan!

Name:  Meghan Ridgley
Age:  32
Location:  Ashburn VA 
What do you do in “real” life?  Manage the Potomac River Running in Reston Town Center 
How long have you been running?
17 years

Why did you start running?  To try high school cross country.  Loved it and everything else fell into place from there.

How many marathons have you run? 

Personal Records:
Marathon:  2:46:38
Half Marathon:  1:20:58ish 😉
10 Miler:  I haven’t done one believe it or not.  Did Army the year it was 11.3 miles!
10K:  35:30

8K:  28:35ish
5K:  17:36
What are your proudest running moments:  Qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials during my first marathon, Philly 2003 ~ 2:46:52 ~ 3rd female.
Running the Shamrock Marathon in 2008, six months after Miranda was born via c-section. It was my slowest marathon to date but so awesome because I ran freaking 26.2 miles (those were my words after the race!) after having a baby 6 months prior.  Came back to win the Shamrock in 2010.

It goes back to wanting and believing.  I wanted to get back in shape and lose the baby weight so bad that the moment I told myself I would, nothing would stop me.

Even slower then planned or not good races can be major accomplishments! 

Pick one of your favorite parts of the lululemon manifesto and tell me why it speaks to you:

A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins give you the power to make better decisions, helps your be at peace with yourself, and offset stress.  This is so true because when I don’t do a run or have plans for one, I can’t think straight, I get frustrated, and actually feel sad.  When I get a run in I just feel so pumped and powerful afterward that I can handle most things that come my way each day. 

Do you have a favorite running mantra?  Why does this work for you?  You have to want it 100% and believe in it 100% for it to happen.  It really is mind body and soul.  No one can take that desire away from you and it’s what you feed on when it gets hard.

Tell us a little about what you do to strengthen your running (core training, yoga, Pilates, etc) and what do you do to protect yourself from injury?  Now I take Pilates at Reston Pilates.  Such an awesome experience each time.  I learn so much about my body each session.  This is what is going to help me reach my ultimate goal that I once thought was slipping away.  I feel so strong and know it will keep me tough in the later miles in the marathon.

I also see my Chiropractor once a week to help keep my feet and legs healthy.  Recover properly by eating right and taking my easy days easy.  That is key.  Running easy or taking days off when you are supposed to.

If you run with music, tell us a few of your favorite running songs:  I don’t run with music but I do like any music I can visualize me doing a workout or racing to.  That can be Enya to Eminem, anything really. 

What is your next race?  What is your goal for that race?  My next big race is a fall marathon in 2012, Twin Cities probably.  It is my favorite by far!!  I of course want to run a great PR.  I would like to go 2:42-2:43.

What are your long term running goals?  Long term is to qualify for the Marathon Trials again in 2016.  Run an awesome race there and retire from the marathon. 😉  I would like to see how close to sub 2:40 I can get.

What advice do you have for other runners out there?  Always love it.  Remember you GET to get up and go run.  It is such a blessing that should never be taken for granted.

Who rocks your running world?  Tell us a little about someone who inspires you to be a better runner.  My family.  My Husband and Daughter help me out so much and are always cheering for me. I want to do well for them.  I love seeing them at the end of just about every race, marathon or shorter.  I think about them being there during my race all the time.

Customers and folks I get to interact with on daily basis who run.  Just seeing how excited they get about a run or race keeps me pumped in my running.  It reminds me to keep having fun and never give up.

Rock My {Running} World: Meet Terri

Do you want to know one of the very best ways to make new friends in the world of running?  I’ll tell you ~ join a marathon training group (if you are local I highly recommend any of the programs offered by =PR=) and meet everyone at the track at 5:00AM once a week to do speed work.  Don’t be shy – these people will “get” you in ways you never imagined, right from the start.  

This is how my friendship with the next runner who rocks my running world began.  Terri is one of the most inspiring female athletes I have ever had the privilege to know.  She is gracious and determined.  Running is an individual sport and our goals and accomplishments are personal to each one of us, but when you are running with Terri she makes you feel like you are a part of a team.  She encourages and supports everyone and sincerely gets as much joy out of helping others as she does out of running her own race.  I could not be more thankful to have Terri in my life as a friend and running buddy and I look forward to the many more miles we will share together in this road called life.  I am honored to introduce all of you to this very special person who truly rocks my running world!

Name: Terri Marlin

Age: 40

Location: Herndon, Virginia

What do you do in “real” life? I am a mom of 3 (ages 16, 10 and 7). I work full time as the Potomac Valley Swimming Administrator (the local USA Swimming Association), part time as office staff at Chantilly Academy Gymnastics gym and I am meet manager for several swim meets each year.

How long have you been running?  I have run off and on for years, mostly as cross training for swimming. But I started running regularly about 2 ½ years ago.  When I was little my dad was an ultra-marathoner and running a marathon was a goal that I have had since High School.  Growing up I swam year round and ultimately swam for West Virginia University. In the first two year of graduating from college I worked as a Personal Trainer, got married and started a family.  While I continued to work-out off and on, having two more children and working multiple part time jobs at one time, the amount of time I had to dedicate to working out decreased.  When the kids were little it was hard to get out for runs on the weekend since my husband was often working on the weekends.  But once they were old enough to stay home by themselves I was able to go on longer runs!

Why did you start running?  I started running regularly in May 2009 to give myself some “me” time. I was so busy with work and my kids that I never had time for myself.  I was also in desperate need of something positive to do.  I enjoyed my work, but at the time I was also the Registrar for the Potomac Marlin Swim Team (which my husband owns) and coaching a group three mornings a week from 4:45 to 6:15am, so I was busy, busy, busy and felt myself slipping into a depressed state.  Running was a great release, gave me a sense of purpose and really helped make me feel better.  Probably because of my competitive nature, I soon decided I needed a goal so in October I registered for my first race, and not just any race! I registered for The Disney Marathon in January. W hen I finished I was so proud of myself for finally obtaining my goal of running a Marathon!  But I immediately looked at my brother (who ran with me) and said, “but we didn’t do it all, we didn’t do the “Goofy” (half marathon on Saturday and full on Sunday).  We will have to come back and do the whole thing!”  So this January my brother and I are going back to Disney to do the Goofy!  Since that first marathons, I have run 3 others including the 2011 Marine Corp Marathon, 6 half marathons, a 10 miler and a 10K and have no plans to stop anytime soon.

Personal Records:

Marathon: 4:24.09

Half Marathon: 2:04.02

10 Miler: 1:31.33

What is your proudest running moment?  My proudest moment would be crossing the starting line in my first marathon.  I am sure for most people it would be crossing the finish line.  But just starting my first marathon was so exciting and emotional.  I had no doubt that I would finish!  But getting to the starting line was such an accomplishment, to know everything I had done to get there; all of the training, the early mornings, the runs in the cold, traveling to Orlando, all of it! 

Pick one of your favorite parts of the lululemon manifesto and tell me why it speaks to you:
Do one thing a day that scares you.  I like this one because I think it is important that we to learn to live outside our comfort zone.  If we always do what is comfortable, we will never grow as a person or an athlete.  Stepping up and doing something uncomfortable or that scares us, teaches us to dream, reach our goals and grow!

Do you have a favorite running mantra?  Why does this work for you?:  
I’m healthy, I’m STRONG.  I am not sure why this works, but I find when I am really tired and start to hurt all over, by reminding myself that I am healthy and strong I feel better and can power through.

Tell us a little about what you do to strengthen your running (core training, lifting, yoga, Pilates, etc) and what do you do to protect yourself from injury? I have a fairly extensive history of general strength training but wish I did more strengthening now for my running.  I have done Bikram Yoga and loved it, it gave me a sense of peace and strength and was great for flexiblity.  I need to make the time to do more.  I am also looking forward to trying Pilates. 

If you run with music, tell us a few of your favorite running songs: I don’t have a particular favorite song.  I have a country music mix that I always listen to, it just keeps me going.


What is your next race?  What is your goal for that race? I am excited to do the “Goofy” in January. It is part of the Disney Marathon weekend.  It consists of the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday.  Really my goal is just to finish both races and have a great time running.  But I know I am competitive enough, that I will want to at least be close to my best times!

What are your long term running goals? I plan on running the NYC Marathon next November.  I made it in through the lottery this year, but had to defer until next year.  My long term goals are to stay healthy and be able to continue to run for a long time.  I also plan on trying a triathlon in the spring/summer of 2012.  With my strong swimming background and all of my running, I figure I just have to start biking, which seems to be the easiest part.  I volunteered at Ironman Louisville in August, which was one of the most amazing experiences, not sure if I will ever do a full Ironman, but I can definitely see doing a half Ironman sometime in the near future.

Who rocks your running world?  I don’t have a specific running hero.  I started training with a running group this past summer and really enjoyed getting to know other runners with similar goals. But everyone “out there” running rocks my running world!  Regardless of age, fitness level or goals, just running or walking to better yourself is an accomplishment and I totally respect and feel admiration for every runner!

Terri and a bunch of our =PR= crew after a long run!

What advice do you have for other runners out there? Start small and do whatever you can.  Don’t compare yourself to anyone else!  Whether you can run 20 miles or 2 miles, at least you are out there doing something active.  Just put one foot in front of another and keep moving!  You can do anything you set your mind to!  Best Wishes!

Rock My {Running} World: Meet Jessica

Do you want to meet a runner who is dedicated, smart and inspiring?  Someone who has been patient and persistent with her training and has seen it pay off?  Well, Jessica is a rock star runner and I am so excited to introduce you to her.  Read on to learn all about her and then give her a shout out to wish her luck this weekend (though she doesn’t need it) as she gets ready for her first ultra distance race – the JFK 50 Miler!  Jessica is going to have an amazing race this weekend.  I just know it.

Strong + Happy + Determined = Jessica on the Run!

Name: Jessica Karazsia

Age: 36 

Location: Alexandria, VA 


Twitter: @irun26at8 

What do you do in “real” life?
I am the head of Membership at a professional association in Old Town Alexandria. For the first 10 years of my career, I was a Marketing Manager in the Media and Finance industries. Three years ago, I decided to take a leap into the non-profit/association world. It was a great choice and brought me to the DC area which I love.

How long have you been running?
I consider when I purchased my first pair of real running shoes my start. That was about 11 years ago. I ran a few races here and there, but nothing serious until about 6 years ago when I decided to start training for my first marathon – Chicago 2005.

Why did you start running?
I have always loved to work out. I was a competitive tennis player in high school and my coaches always stressed the importance of cross-training and conditioning. I love the game of tennis, but I always loved the conditioning too. Then I went to college. I stopped playing tennis and moving basically.  (That is a lie, I actually moved very quickly to the keg, cafeteria line and self-serve ice cream bar in the dorm.) I successfully put on the Freshman 15 or really more like 20. I think I topped at 150 by the time I was 19 years old. The summer after my freshman year, I lost most of the weight, but maintained my fighting weight of 130-135 throughout my college career by sporadically working out and eating/drinking a lot of comfort food. Even though I was chubby, and my self-body image was pretty low, those years were sooooo fun.  After college, it was much easier to control what I ate and drank and I pretty effortlessly dropped 10 pounds and could maintain 120 -125 without too much struggle. I was able to maintain a fitness routine which consisted of a little running, the dreaded Stairmaster, bike and some weights. Then around age 25, when I moved to Cleveland, OH I started running a little more and began thinking about running a marathon before I turned 30. 

How many marathons have you run? 6

Personal Records:
Marathon: 3:39:45 (MCM 2010)
Half Marathon: 1:41:48 (VA Beach 2011)
10 Miler: 1:14:35 (GW Parkway Classic 2011)
10K: 45:49 (Jingle all The Way 2010)
5K: 22:02 (Crystal City 5K 2011) 

What is your proudest running moment?:
Hands down, my proudest running moment was when I crossed the finish line at MCM 2010. My goal for that race was to run a sub-4 marathon. I ran 3:39:45 and qualified for Boston. I was floating for weeks. 

Pick one of your favorite parts of the lululemon manifesto and tell me why it speaks to you:
Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks. Failure is inevitable, but it is how you deal with it that is important. You ALWAYS have two choices, let it break you or get up and keep fighting. I choose to keep fighting. Through words and actions, I have had people tell me I am not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, pretty enough and although it hurts, I chose not to believe them and keep moving forward. 

Do you have a favorite running mantra?  Why does this work for you?:
My mantra changes depending on my state of mind. The word CONQUER gives me strength and motivation. Just one foot in front of the other is something I say to myself on almost every run. Running is hard. Period. There are times during a run when I want to stop. I know that if I just keep moving forward, it will eventually get better. 

Tell us a little about what you do to strengthen your running (core training, lifting, yoga, Pilates, etc) and what do you do to protect yourself from injury?  I am a strong believer in cross-training. Running exposes all of your weaknesses – physically and mentally. Although I would love to do more yoga, my cross-training now consists of a lot of weights (high reps/low weight) and core work. I will also ride a bike at the gym a couple times a week. I think it is really important to strengthen the muscles around the main running muscles. 

If you run with music, tell us a few of your favorite running songs:
I used to never leave the house without my iPod. Over the past year, I have really been trying to run with it less. I currently run with music for about 50% of my runs. I song that always seems to creep on my playlist is: REM’s Circus Envy. 

What is your next race?  What is your goal for that race?
I have been training since August 1 for the JFK 50 Miler which takes place on November 19. Phew! It has been quite an experience, to say the least. I went in with the mindset, if I am going to do this, I am going to jump in with both feet and give 100%. I just don’t want to be at mile 37 wishing I had trained harder/smarter. I feel really confident in my training, but it was tough! I hope to finish in less than 10 hours. Then, the next biggie will be Boston Marathon. I am so excited to start training for that race. I will be training with the Capital Area Runners and George Buckheit. My goal is 3:30 – aggressive but I think it is possible!

Jessica rocks it at the finish of the VA Beach RnR Half Marathon, 2011
What are your long term running goals?
My goal all along has always been to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. I did not think I would have that opportunity for several years down the road, but it will be here soon enough! I always tease people and say after the race in April, my hobby will be watching TV and eating Bon Bons. I don’t see that happening though. Ha. OF COURSE, I want to continue to run, but see my running transforming into not just being about ME and MY GOALS. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of PRs in these legs but I would love to get more involved in the running community, helping others achieve their goals, fundraising, etc. I look forward to seeing where it takes me. 

What advice do you have for other runners out there?
Start slow. So many people jump on the marathon bandwagon, fall in love with running and then just keep getting chronically injured. There is no easy way to get faster or to run longer other than just slowly progressing. I was running a good 3-4 years before I started running marathons, then I ran my first at 4:35:21. It took me 5+ years before I qualified for Boston. I have not had any serious running injuries because I take it slow. I just think it is crazy for people to expect to go out there and on the first try qualify for Boston or even break 4 hours. Sure, people do it and it is amazing but each of our bodies are different. We have to listen to them. 

Who rocks your (running) world?
There are many “famous” people who inspire me with their running wisdom – Ryan and Sara Hall, Deena Kastor, Lance Armstrong, Bart Yasso, and Dean Karnazes to name a few. But, the one person who inspires me to run the most isn’t famous and isn’t even a runner. That would be my mom. She is my biggest cheerleader. She always attends my big races. Most of the time traveling cross country. She has mastered being a spectator, believes in me and everything I do. Her strength, power and wisdom encourage me to get out there every day. She has seen me through my lowest points (in racing and in life) and has celebrated the highest with me.