Thursday, January 4, 2018

Journey to the Disney Marathon

I cannot believe it's here! For over a year I have known this race would be my goal race. I trained hard for the past 18 weeks to get to this point. I am going to run my seventh marathon this weekend!

With every big race, I love to look back on my journey and remind myself of how far I have come. Since this race has literally been a goal race of mine since October 2016, a lot has happened to get to this point.

The last marathon I ran for time was the 2016 Louisiana Marathon. I was injured and should have just turned at the half. I didn't and I suffered. It broke my spirit. I worked really hard to build on a fantastic half marathon training/execution.

I put marathons very far in the back of my mind for the rest of 2016, until I found out I was selected as a Pittsburgh Marathon blogger. I knew this was a sign, I had to train for another marathon before Disney.

Despite the eye problem, I had a pretty fantastic training for Pittsburgh and pulled of my second best marathon time. The best part was not running for a time, it was running for the ability to prove to myself I can run another marathon. I had so much confidence when I finished that race.

And then it all came crashing down.

I had a procedure on my eye ball that knocked me out for quite some time. I was finishing up some ridiculous amounts of medication. I gained 12 pounds in six week. I did not feel like myself. I was getting frustrated and feeling my dreams of a marathon PR slipping away.

Then I reached out to my dear friend Kristen and joined her Elite Running Academy. I started in July with a 5k on the fourth. I finished just under 27 minutes. Gosh, I knew I had so much work to do.

That is exactly what I did. By September my 5k time was down to 24 minutes. I was losing the weight I put on and getting back to myself. Kristen really listened to me and helped me more than she will ever know. I am so grateful that I took the leap.

The biggest thing I did this training was a consistent strength program. I also added in barre classes in the last six weeks to help with my balance and hips.

I ran a 14 minute 10-miler PR and that is really when I felt like I can accomplish my goals. Sitting here typing about it truly makes me speechless. The best part was, I felt like I could keep going at that pace. It was one of the best days of this training cycle I had.

And then again, it all came crashing down.

I have heard people talk about the mental wall of training, but I have never had it happen to me. Boy, did it strike at a terrible time. The thought of running made me want to cry. Putting on running shoes made my heart race. I have no idea why it happened, but I have the best support system ever and they helped me kick it.

My 20 miler was magical. I had friends join me. My last five miles were the fastest and I even finished with three race paced miles. Alright, let's run a marathon!

Through the snow and cold, the taper has been on the treadmill. I truly believe it has helped me mentally be ready for this race. This is my last marathon for time and I am still very thrilled with that decision. This will be my victory lap of marathons and what better place than Disney World!

Here are the numbers from training:
Weeks of training: 18
Miles during training: 389.2
Pairs of shoes retired: 2 

Drum roll please....... here are my goals for the Disney Marathon!
A: Sub - 4
B: Sub - 4:14 (Marathon PR)
C: Finish with a smile

So there it is universe. Those are my goals for the race. I am not putting a huge amount of pressure on myself. If it happens, it happens! I have poured my heart and soul in to this training and have learned so much about myself. The journey is always my favorite part of any training cycle, and while typing this all up I gave myself goose bumps. I have overcome a lot to get to this point. It has been a long time coming and I am ready!

I would like to thank my coach Kristen for an amazing training plan. I feel ready all because of you. To my friends who ran with me in person or virtually, thank you. Thank you for believing in me and my crazy goals. Thank you to the friends who truly helped when I was breaking down. Even just giving me 10 minutes to get it all out, it meant the world to me. To my husband who is also running his first marathon this weekend. He understands now and it had been fun doing this together. Thank all of you for following along and being so encouraging. It is incredibly humbling.

Carrie, this is for you!


  1. I am so excited for you Steff. This post gave me goosebumps reading it. Is there tracking so I can follow you this weekend?

    1. Thanks Dodie! I have it set up on my Facebook and Twitter already lol =)

  2. Yay Steff!! You got this! Can't wait to see how it all goes. The work has been done- now trust the training and GET YOUR GOAL!

  3. GO JOE!! That's awesome! Kill it you two :) Can't wait to virtually cheer you on.