#everytime I lace up my sneakers…

…I never regret it. 
(even when I’m tired after a long day and have a run on the agenda. Like last night….5 sweaty treadmilled miles, done. #getafterit)
(even when I *think* I’m way too tired to get out the door at dark thirty.)
(even when it’s a lace-up-and-run on the treadmill — those endorphins man, nothing better.)

#everytime I set foot in the studio…(a studio that is expanding again this fall, whee!!)

…I fall even more in love with barre n9ne. 
(with the clients who I adore)
(with the challengers, both new and old, who constantly commit, recommit and take charge of their health.)
(with my fellow instructors who I am constantly learning from, and have so much fun WITH every chance we get for a b9 staff dinner.)

#everytime I think about Chicago…of how far we’ve come…

…my heart bursts with pride and joy. 
(and slight sadness that it is so very quickly coming to an end.)
(this has become so, so, so much more than just another training cycle.)
(… the most incredible 18 weeks I never saw coming.)

#everytime. ❤

What my head is saying (12 days away)

Ok, seriously — it’s crunch time people. We are 12 DAYS away from the big day.
…race day. Our first 26.2.


It’s *ALL* I can think about.
…which is why it’s all I’ve been blogging about lately (sorry ’bout that!)

So what is my head saying with 12 days to go?
(I’d invite you into my brain but it’s a scary place up there, so a few snippets will have to do!)

OMG we’re really doing this. We’re really gonna run 26.2 miles in 12 days.

Must add this to my list – buy energy bars (for Scott),  peanut butter packets, bagel thins and bananas to pack in our suitcase for our pre-race breakfast (well, maybe not the bananas, they might get mashed, huh?) I best not forget to buy these things, mmk? (um hi, there *will* be grocery stores in Chicago…relax headcase!)

Will this weather pattern hold? Right now it’s looking like 50s at the start of the race, 65-70 by the finish. Utterly perfect. Please, please, pleeeease stay that way.

Um. What if I really have to pee during the marathon? I am NOT stopping to use a porta-potty. I refuse to stop. So my options are what? Pee myself or hold it until we finish. Neither of these sound very enticing. <tucks this one away to ruminate on more later…>

Holy crap, 26.2 miles is going to feel so far especially after all of this tapering we’re doing. Please, please, please mind games go away — taper is good, rest is good, my legs will be SO happy and itchy to run on race day. Right?? (this is where you all shout at me through the computer in agreement — RIGHT!!)

It’s gonna feel *so* weird to run 10 miles on Saturday as our last long run. If I thought 16 miles flew by last week, 10 is going to flyyyyyyy by. That is still so weird to consider – double digit miles flying by? Does that happen on race day or am I in for a rude surprise? (wait, don’t answer that…)

I seriously can’t wait to buy race bling from Erica Sara, her stuff is gorgeous. Oh — and a 26.2 decal for the car. I’ve always seen those on other people’s cars and thought “damn, that’s really far to run.” 

Um, my birthday is the day before. Man I’m really not in the mood to turn 33 (!). Just a number, just a number, just a number…

I really, really, really want to cross the finish line with Scott, hand-in-hand. I wonder if we’ll be able to do that or if it’ll be too crowded at the finish. How awesome would that be to see on camera (sis, are you taking notes?) ?? I’d cherish that pic forever…just as much as I’ll cherish that moment forever, it’s going to be seared into my brain for good… <ok please don’t cry while writing this post, I mean really…>

What am I going to wear? My go-to run-a-marathon tank from Lululemon and my speed shorts also from there? They’ve been with me on every long run from the start, afterall. I suppose I owe it to them to come with me on race day too, huh? Hmm – in that case, this weather pattern really has to hold. I’d rather not freeze my ass off waiting at the starting line.

Man, I’m gonna meet some awesome people while we’re in Chicago. Including Tina (looooong overdue), Amber (runsherpa!) and Heather (also looooong overdue) and I’m sure a slew of other bloggers who will be there running and spectating. So cool.

Um. We’re really doing this.
…in 12 days.

(see? I told you my head was a scary place to be at times…;-))

16 miles: happy.

…that about sums up our 16 miler on Saturday. 

Happy that we were out there running together – Team Sutera all the way
(we didn’t get to run together *all* week due to something called a ‘new job…’)

Happy that our legs were ready: strong, rested, ready.
(thanks to taper time and learning to pull back…which is *very* hard for me, as you all know)

Happy that the miles felt SO good. All 16 of them. Literally ALL of them.
(which never happens in long run land…at least not in my version of it)

Happy that with every mile, my mind grew calmer, quieter, happier. I have never had this quiet a mind during a long run.

Happy that this run proved to me and to Scott that we are more than ready for 26.2. Seriously, if someone told me to keep running for another 10 miles on Saturday, I could’ve knocked out another 10. I felt that good. So did Scott.
(but um, not gonna lie — I was glad we weren’t running another 10, 16 was plenty on Saturday!)

Happy that in 15 days (!) — we’d be running the streets of Chicago. Together. With (as Scott put it), 50,000 of our closest friends cheering us on.
(the roar of the crowd — the mere thought of it — sends chills down my arm every time I think about it)

(Can you see the happy in our eyes here? I can. 😉 )

With every day that passes, every step we take, every mile we cross off our training plan — I’m happier, more proud, more confident, more ready. I stand here continually in awe of how far we’ve come, and where we’re about to go. Feeling especially blessed and full of faith at this very moment. It’s a damn good feeling.

Run happy friends, always.

Oh, exhaustion.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought I’d enter my first week of taper with tons of energy, ready to tackle each of our remaining runs with happy running legs.

Um, notsomuch. 

At least not this week. I am just exhausted. 
…I guess my body finally caught up with all 40 miles we put in last week, huh? 

Reminder: I am not invincible.

So this week has been a huge one for me in terms of truly and honestly listening to my body. I’m teaching a lot this week which I love — but it’s been adding to the exhaustion factor a bit. I suppose starting a new job can also lead to the exhaustion factor too, hmm? (a new job that’s going *really* well in case you’re wondering 😉 )

My plan for the remainder of the week is this: 

Teach my beloved 9am class today; get ready as fast as I can to hit the road into the office after class. Rock it out at the office (heh). Commute home. Put my game face on and get the 7 miles in that I didn’t get in this morning.
…but be ok with things if those 7 miles don’t happen for whatever reason tonight. Listening to my body.

Teach tomorrow at 6am and 5:30pm and work my bum off in between at the home office. Focus on lots of fueling foods, good hydration and be ready to carb up (yay pizza!) tomorrow night in preparation for Saturday’s long run.

Saturday: long run day (whee! yes I still get excited about these, who knew?!). We’re aiming for 15 miles. And I kind of love that 15 miles doesn’t feel quite so daunting anymore. (especially when I know I taper even more the week after this!). 

Oh, exhaustion? I feel ya, I do. But guess what? I’m not gonna let you do me in this week. Nope. I allowed it this morning. I finally got a restful night’s sleep after two back-to-back nights of tossing and turning and restlessness. Today? After a glorious NINE hours of sleep (yes NINE), I am back on my game. I feel ‘me’ again and that’s what matters.

Because guess what? In 17 (!) days: I’m gonna be a marathoner. Why yes I am. 😉

If all else fails…

…intervals FTW. 

Seriously. I was a sweaty, smelly, exhausted mess after this, but I NEEDED this workout. Like, whoa. 

I was grumpy (needlessly)
I was annoyed (again, for no real reason).
I was snippy (I hate when I get that way, especially for no real reason). 

I was energized.
I was renewed.
I felt like me again. 

…just a sweatier, smellier, more exhausted version. 😉 

So my advice to you — if you’re ever whacked by the grumpy stick out of the blue like I was last night: run intervals. Preferably like the ones I did last night (a throwback from last winter’s stash of interval runs). 

I say it again: Intervals: FTW! 
(that’s all I got today, nothing more profound than that lol)


Of peaks and tapers

As I said the other day, it’s settling in
…this marathon thing. It’s *so* close. 

And my body is more than telling me that these days. Last week marked our peak week of training — topping out at 40 miles for the week.
…for me, that’s a big number. For some runners, notsomuch. But for me – huge. I’m proud. 

I’m proud, sure, but I’m also starting to really feel the effects of training. I am utterly worn out. All of my joints are talking to me lately — don’t worry, not in the ‘hi, I’m injured’ kind of way but in the what-the-heck-are-you-putting-me-through kind of way. I’ve never taken so many naps in my life! Out of sheer necessity too.

What is really interesting though, at least to me, is that my hunger levels haven’t really been all that impacted by training. Not even during our peak week of training last week — a week that I always gazed at on our training schedule as *the* week when I’d be battling hungry horrors, like whoa. But nope, we were totally fine this past week.  As I’ve said before, I crave protein after a particularly rough, pounding of  a week. Which is why on Friday night we wound up with a giant salad and filet mignon for date night in. Totally hit the spot. Other than that, and our go-to homemade pizza pre-long run meal (which has saved us on more than one occasion lemme tell ya), our eating hasn’t really changed a heck of a lot. I’m still eating the same amount of calories I was eating before. Just different types of food, depending on what my body tells me it wants (side note: isn’t it crazy how your body really *will* tell you what it needs?? the protein craving was a sure sign of my muscles doing some serious recovery work, for example. SO interesting. Anyway…).

Another kind of neat side effect of training? How your perspective on distance changes. I never thought I’d say, ok yup, we can totally bang out that ten miler on Saturday, no big deal. Yet six months ago, ten miles was a helluva lot more daunting than it was this past Saturday. Even WITH windswept rain for half of that run, we got through all ten miles relatively easily (the last mile hurt, I’ll say that, my glutes were on fire…I blame that on the extra glute work I taught in class twice on Friday though…woops.). Who knew?!

So anyway, as we’re now into our  three-week taper, I’m starting to take a step back. Looking at how far we’ve come, all that we’ve learned, how much we’ve bonded together in the past few months. It’s been such a crazy, wild, amazing, incredible ride. Yet again, a ride I never saw coming. At least not in the form it’s taken. I’m totally struck by how much we’ve both loved the process (but side note: don’t get any wild ideas…I still contend that Chicago is our ‘one and done’ marathon experience!).

…so I’ll say it again: 26.2, we’re coming for you. Brace yourself for Team Sutera. 😉

(side note: today is my first day at the new gig — send me lots of good vibes please! I’m the ‘new kid’ on the block yet again…but I’m ready for it, I promise you that!)

It’s settling in.

It’s settling in. 

…that we really *did* run 22 miles yesterday. And we didn’t die. In fact, I kind of didn’t hate it.

…that we really are about to achieve something that just a few months ago I never thought would be possible.

…that our bodies truly are able of just about anything if we just let our minds trust our bodies to do the work.

…that blog friends can truly become some of your best friends. I’m still blown away by all of you #runsherpas. Especially after reading this blog post from one of those sherpas. Such a beautiful running soul, isn’t she? 

…that the Chicago Marathon, the event I’ve been thinking about non-stop since the beginning of JUNE, is just weeks away. As confirmed by this email that popped up in my inbox last night:

It’s settling in. 
…that taper starts on Monday. 

With that I say: bring it on, taper.
We are tired.
We are sore.
We are ready.
To pull back. To recover. To get our game faces on.

Because, it’s settling in…
…that we’re thisclose to becoming marathoners. ❤

22 miles: demolished

I was looking for redemption this morning.
Redemption from that disastrous 20-miler last week. 
Redemption from the mind games that I let control me while on that run. 
Redemption from the doubt that started to creep in…the “why the hell am I doing this??” kind of self-doubt. 

This morning I got that redemption…and then some. We literally demolished our 22 miler this morning. Killed it.

(once again, looks here are very deceiving, I was in so much pain — it took all of my strength to amble on over to Scott, sit in his lap and position the camera correctly. If you look really close, you can see the pain amid my furrowed brows lol)

Everything just felt right today. The air was the coolest it’s been in weeks…not a lick of humidity in the air whatsoever. It was dark to start…which I just love, it puts me in this zen-like state, so peaceful and calming. We were nicely fueled thanks to our usual pizza night shenanigans the night prior. But most of all — we were ready. Ready for redemption. Ready to prove to ourselves that we’re right where we need to be with just weeks to go before Chicago.

Two phrases whirred around in my head this morning and I truly believe it’s what helped me stay ‘in’ it without letting my thoughts control me in that mental mind game sort of way.

The first came from a friend, Meaghan, who I adore and totally admire (she’s training for an ULTRA, I mean really, that’s just amazing). She lives and breathes running — it’s what fuels her, it’s her passion, it’s her first love (aside from her daughter maybe, hehe). Her words:

“Let the run come to you.”

I took her words to heart. I internalized them. I held onto them for dear life today. I let the miles come as they may, I didn’t force them, I didn’t overthink them. I simply ran. Letting the run come to me instead of the other way around.

The second phrase that drove me onward today? They came from my sis who gave me the sweetest, most thoughtful, most perfectly-written card. (side note: a card out of the blue, or a hand-written note for that matter — totally lost art form if you ask me, it sends such a signal of thoughtfulness and love that you don’t get from a text message or an email…). The words from that card…scripture actually:

“I have great confidence in you.” – 2 Corinthians 7:4

Simple, beautiful words. Comforting. I literally chanted that phrase over and over in my head anytime my brain started to veer towards mental mind game territory. I also thought a lot about my sisters on this run…both of them. And how much I love them and admire them and don’t tell them nearly enough.

I’m keeping today’s post short today — as I still don’t think I’ve quite let the 22 miles sink in yet. That we did this…together, yet again. We powered through even when everything started to hurt and all I wanted to do was stop. Scott was my sherpa today — cheering me on, telling me to stay right by his hip and he’d carry me home, and it got me through those painful last few miles. I had to stop myself a few times from breaking down in tears the closer we got to home — I was just so in awe of us in those final moments, so proud, so amazed. In fact, I did cry as we hit the home stretch. Scott took off ahead of me and was waiting for me at the finish, cheering me on with that huge smile of his. And I just lost it. Just for a minute. Just a few tears and sobs escaped. It was my way of ‘letting the run come to me’ – through tears of joy, pride, and yes, utter exhaustion. 

We did this. Yet again. And we’ll do this *again* on October 7 in Chicago.
…and yes, there will be tears then too. You’ve been warned. 

No limits, new molds

By now you all have probably sensed that change is underfoot for me here. Or maybe you haven’t necessarily sensed it but it sure has been on my mind these past few weeks. (y’know, aside from marathon training…the only other thing that seems to be on my mind all.the.time lately haha)

Lately, I’ve been:
…drawing on my faith while making some difficult decisions, and facing some uncertain new territory.
breaking the mold, or trying to.
…and fully embracing the mantra I set out for myself at the start of the year: 

Have No Limits Today.”

Without going into too much detail, here’s what’s been going on up in the Sutera household:

  • The hubs — who I adore more than life itself — is unemployed again. After finally chasing his own dream, returning to his teaching roots last year and having the most amazing and fun time of it, too (all while the proudest wifey  watched him with such glee as he’d come home from work everyday with a sparkle in his eye…oh how I love that sparkle…). Long story short — times are tough in the teaching profession…hell, in most any profession these days. It’s ridiculously sad that unemployment rates seem to never change…truly sad.  So faithoh FAITH — is coming into play in a huge huge way over here. It’s so hard not to question the ‘why’ behind the path he and I are on right now, and to blindly trust that there is a reason for this temporary setback — but here we are: trusting, believing, dreaming, supporting. It’s what we do.

Source: via Jess on Pinterest

  • Meanwhile, I’m facing quite the opposite scenario as the hubs. I’ve been handed a pretty incredible (and totally out of the blue) job opportunity. Yes, *another* new job. Yes, I do realize it’s only been nine months since I started the last ‘new’ job. But you see, sometimes you have to live by your own rules, break the mold, and  yes, put yourself first chasing a job and a dream that fits you so, so well. So this new job? Yeah it starts on Monday, and I am thrilled about it. I’m following the path that He set forth for me…a path that I never saw coming. Ever, ever. But I’m embracing it, I’m letting my path fall before my very eyes…blindly trusting. Something fairly new for the Suteras to embrace, but we’re learning to do it better and better with time.

Source: petiteathleat.blogspot.com via Jess on Pinterest

  • And this week, the height of marathon training for Scott and I — well, it’s quickly becoming a series of moments worth remembering, honoring, tucking away into the back of my mind. Scott and I have never been closer. I think it’s a combination of this crazy idea we had to run a marathon together coupled with the current circumstances we’re both facing — circumstances that test our faith; in eachother, in ourselves, in our paths. Something tells me we needed to be tested this way, to be reminded that faith is never something to let fall to the wayside but always something to continually work on. So this year of no limits, no boundaries and lots of ‘new’ for both of us is turning into the year where our faith was tested and strengthened in a special, beautiful, memorable way. Honestly, I’m honored that we’ve faced these tests — even if it’s scary to not know what’s around the bend for either of us — I’m learning to blindly trust and to truly harness my faith, our faith, together.

20 miles: fought, and surrendered

If I could use just one word to sum up our (second) 20-mile training run: disastrous.

(I’m telling you, our smiles are very deceiving — we were both utterly wiped out after this run.)

From the get-go the run was just all sorts of wrong: 

I was up in my head. So, so much. I kept fighting with myself, trying to force the mental head games to stop but they just kept coming. (I think I know the main reason for the mental mind games, but I’ll be sharing that in a later post this week, promise)

It was a lot more humid out than I was prepared for. In my mind, I envisioned a nice cool start to the run. Instead, we left the house at 5:35 (yes, at 5:35, not 5:30 or 5:45, but 5:35…) and got a nice smack in the face of humidity. Not cool.

The hubs was dehydrated almost from the start. I think he was staving off the water intake to avoid drinking too much and leaving me with none. (what a guy, seriously, who does that??) Meanwhile I was done with my little water bottle about a third of the way into the run and was shocked that Scott’s much larger water bottle was almost full still. Between that and the fact that I know he didn’t drink enough water the day before, and I instantly sensed dehydration looming for him…and maybe for me too, given the weather.

The bottom line: we had a lot of ‘things’ working against us on Saturday morning. 


I’m as stubborn as they come. I wanted 20 miles on Saturday. Really, really, really badly.
…so we got 20 miles done. 

But it was ugly. Very, very ugly. 

There was walking. A lot of walking (for those of you who know us well, we *never* walk during a run, ever ever ever. This should tell you how desperately tired and worn out we both were). 

There was a stop to fill our water bottles at a water fountain in the park. Again, something we *never* do. We usually are fine with the water we brought, or we simply power through and are fine to chug along, regardless. But not today. Nope, we needed that water stop.

There were mini-arguments between us when one of us wanted to turn around, and the other wanted to push forward. (I’ll let you guess who is who in this scenario…heh)

So we fought for it. We fought hard. We walked, we ran, we walked, we ran, and then we ran and suddenly, we were done. 

Utterly spent. Disgustingly sweaty. Salty-faced from all the sweat, and dead tired. 
…but proud. We fought…and even if we surrendered just a little bit…we won the battle for 20 in the end. 
And that’s what matters. 

What also matters a heck of a lot? That this didn’t happen during our last long run before taper. (silver lining, perhaps) I need that redemption run in a big way. I  (and we) need that 22 miler to give us the confidence boost that will carry us through in Chicago. We’re both determined as hell to make it our best long run yet.

A few lessons learned, and we’re good to go:

…we are not, in fact, invincible. Even *we* have bad runs too. 
…we cannot afford to be careless with our prep leading into a long run. More water. More mental fortitude, too. 
…we *can* push through, even if our minds try to tell us otherwise. 

22 miles on Wednesday: Game. On.