I completed my 50 state journey and haven’t composed a new blog entry in almost two years. I figured that it was about time for an update….
In September of 2020, during a time when the pandemic had shut down a majority of larger races in the United States, I was able to complete my 50sub4/ 50 BQ marathon adventure at a little race in Springfield, Missouri. The fabulous race director of Heart of America was able to get a permit for roughly 60 marathoners, and state #50 became the most difficult marathon I completed. (For the record, I love HoA, came back the following year, and am signed up to run this year. The heat, hills, and humidity that the event proudly advertises are no joke, though!)
My new goal is to run a sub 3:30 marathon in every state. To the best of my—and the internet’s—knowledge, I’ll be the first female to do this. As of April 2022, I am 2 states away from completing this and *should* finish at Revel Rockies in Colorado in June.
With all of that said, this update focuses on the races I’ve run since Heart of America and the changes that I have made in 2021 to become a stronger, faster Sadie:
One thing that noticed after the first wave of the pandemic eased and races opened up again was that it was getting pretty easy to hit my 3:30 goal time. I’m sure that some of this has to do with Nike’s new line of shoes, but I’d like to think that it was mostly me. I was still training hard, but not that hard, and I wasn’t making the healthiest decisions regarding my diet, sleep, or alcohol consumption. (I do enjoy an evening glass of wine.) My marathon times were still dropping—I ran a 3:12 in December of 2020—but I didn’t feel healthy.
So, in January of 2021 I decided to make some changes. Two friends from middle school became FASTer Way coaches, and I signed up for their first accountability group. Over the next couple of months, I learned a lot about intermittent fasting, macro counting, and carb cycling. I started putting these strategies into practice not necessarily to lose weight but to get healthier, and therefore faster. My initial goal was to break 3:10 which would give me a man’s Boston Qualifying marathon time. However, as I continued with the program, I did begin to drop pounds. This was rather surprising to me as I’ve been the exact same weight since my early 20’s, and I always figured that was just the size that my body was meant to be. I’ve never been unhappy about it. But in the first six months of this program, I lost 15 pounds and discovered that this new size was a better fit for my frame after all. Carrying around less bodyweight also allowed me to take more time off my races. I ran a 3:09 marathon in February and got my finish time down to 3:00:46 by early April.
Getting so close to a sub 3:00 marathon really lit a fire under my ass to train harder, so train harder I did. I ran a 2:58 marathon over Memorial Day weekend and followed up with a 2:59 on a challenging course in Montana the following month. I was thrilled to hit this goal twice and felt that if I never got a second faster, I’d still have achieved everything that I wanted to in marathoning. I also realized that I’d gone about as far as I could on my own, so I decided to give a running coach a try. In a serendipitous encounter, I met up with an out of town friend for a run and he recommended his coach, Heather. I thought that I had been pushing myself pretty hard in my workouts, but Heather’s expectations are high, and her goal paces forced me way out of my comfort zone. I took 7 weeks off racing (which is huge for me), ate well, didn’t drink, and ran a 2:51 at the end of July.
The final piece of the fitness puzzle for me was weight training. This is something that I have always avoided because frankly, it intimidates me. I don’t really know what I’m doing, and I don’t want to look like a complete idiot in front of other people at a gym. More importantly, I don’t want to have to go to a gym in the first place. So I started small and bought a kettlebell and found some workouts on YouTube. I discovered that I really like the kettlebell, so I bought a couple of different sizes and continued to try out different YouTube trainers. I eventually stumbled on Carolyn Girvan. She’s a personal trainer from Ireland who has created hundreds of workouts on her channel. They are REALLY GOOD and they are COMPLETELY FREE. Jim and I have invested in a full set of weights and both swear by Carolyn. I’m typing this blog entry with sore arms from yesterday’s bicep and tricep session. I have heard for years that in order to get faster, I would need to get stronger, but it wasn’t a notion that I put much stock in. After a year + of Carolyn, I can emphatically state that lifting weights has been a game changer. I am still amazed by how much stronger I am and how my body composition has changed through a program that I can do out of my house. I would wholeheartedly recommend Carolyn to anyone and everyone—not just runners.
…. It’s been a year now, and I’ve managed to run 11 sub- 3:00 marathons in 11 different states—10 of these were completed within 7 months of one another. I have won 3 marathons, come in 1st female in 5, and placed top 3 in my gender in 7 more. I have broken 2 Missouri state records for my age and currently hold the state record for the mile. (That last one is, admittedly, a bit of a fluke as there are only two or three qualifying courses in the state and none in a major city. I’ll be the first to admit that my 6:00 mile is not a record that should hold for long.) I’m not sure how long I can keep this streak up, but I will enjoy the ride for as long as I am blessed to be able to do so.