Sunday Funday Guest Blogger Series

A few weeks ago I put the word out that I was starting a new series here on the blog.  And I was flooded with responses for the first topic!  It was so exciting to read them all, and get to know some of my fellow  runners.  I got so many that I will have to do this topic again later in the year!

Sunday Funday guest blogger

This month’s topic was “How I started my running journey”.  And the first runner up is Jessie from The Right Fits sharing her story of her first Marathon…

As I approach marathon #16, I can’t help but reminisce a little about marathons past. On that note, I wanted to share a little about my history with running, as well as the story of my first marathon.

Stick with me- it’s a long one!

I wasn’t always into running. In fact, in high school, I didn’t run cross country or track. I played volleyball, basketball, and softball. 


I would run occasionally around the neighborhood, but never for more than twenty minutes. It wasn’t something that I enjoyed. Instead, it was something I did to train for those other things that I did enjoy.

In college, I started running a bit more. At first, it was just three miles on the treadmill.  The only reason I even ran that was to try to stay on top of that freshman fifteen that definitely haunted me (all that late-night Papa John’s pizza is to blame!). I was always pretty obsessed with working out though – spin, step aerobics, boot camp, even yoga. I did it all at the University of Minnesota’s recreation center. They had some pretty good classes then, and I took full advantage. But, I still didn’t really run that much.

It was my senior year of college when I started pushing myself for slightly longer distances on the treadmill. I remember the first time I hit six miles. I was SO proud of myself. I posted it as my “away” message on AOL instant messenger.  Yup, there was no Facebook back then. I had to do my gratuitous over-sharing on Instant Messenger! #humblebrag – actually, hashtags didn’t mean anything back then either.



That same year, I drove down to Chicago with three friends to cheer on my sister at the Chicago Marathon. It was a crazy weekend that involved plenty of drinking, but I did still manage to get up early enough to cheer Erin on at the race. I’m glad that I did. It was such an inspirational experience for me. And, well, a little part of me thought, “if she can do it, I can do it.” So I decided then and there that I would.

The minute the Twin Cities Marathon opened for registration in 2004, I was online and signed up! I downloaded the Hal Higdon beginner marathon training program and entered all the mileage onto my personal calendar. I told my boss on my first day at my first post-college job, that I needed to leave work by 6 pm because I was training for a marathon. I told everyone at my office that I was running it. I handed out spectator guides to people I barely knew. “Come watch me!” Ugh, how the 22-year old me can still embarrass….

So there I was, training for a marathon. I had never even run a 10ks or a half marathon. Nope. I just dove right into the full 26.2 miles.

Then, about a month before the marathon, my boyfriend dumped me. Somehow I ended up training with a friend of his (not sure how that happened – did I think I could make the ex jealous that way? Oh, 22-year-old me…) and then that friend got pneumonia, so he put me in touch with another friend, who, without ever having run with the guy before, I decided to pace with him at the race. He claimed we were the same pace, and maybe we would have been? Unfortunately, I never finished that marathon so I’ll never know. I think he finished around 4:30, which probably would have been my time based on my training.

So what happened? Why the DNF?

I was such a rookie, and I barely stopped at the water stops. I didn’t feel thirsty! The adrenaline was pumping, and I was caught up in all the excitement. Who needs water stops?!?


As I approached Summit Avenue (mile 20-ish), my sister Erin jogged along beside me. She said I had started to look at little pale, but I pushed through for a few more miles.

Then, around mile 23, I collapsed. Yep. I just collapsed onto the side of Summit Avenue. Fortunately, my sister was right there. I was still somewhat conscious, so Erin sat me down on the curb. Then, she quickly ran up to spectators asking for water/Gatorade, etc. Someone gave me a pickle. Ha!

Then the ambulance arrived. They loaded me in and started checking my vital signs. They quickly determined that I was extremely dehydrated, and I was whisked away to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. There I was hooked up to an IV and pumped full of fluids.

Whelp. How disappointing, right? My marathon dream was shattered. I was so sad. I was so close to the finish line!

My sisters hung out at the hospital all day while I recovered, even though they had a six hour drive back to Chicago. When I was finally released, my kind sister Erin took me through the drive-through at Burger King across the road from the hospital, where I ordered a burger and a milkshake and then went home to wallow in my sorrows.

It sounds so silly, right? But I was so depressed after failing to achieve my goal. I couldn’t let that be the end of it.

So I signed up for Twin Cities again. This time, my younger sister Laurie trained with me from afar (she was in college in Madison). Race day came and she had a tough day. I think she threw up around mile 20 and we walked quite a bit. But, I stuck with her and we finished together. 


Even though it was a very memorable experience to share with her, I was again disappointed by my (our?) performance. I knew I was faster than a five-hour marathon. I had to prove it.

At that point, Dustin (my husband) and I had become pretty serious as a couple. So, we picked San Diego for our next marathon as a trip to take together. We had such a fun time that we decided to continue traveling for marathons. We still came back to the Twin Cities Marathon one last time in 2008, two weeks before our wedding. Apart from that, we started primarily picking races in other cities. It wasn’t until after the Big Sur Marathon that we unofficially decided to start pursuing a fifty state marathon goal. We have 13 states down, MANY to go….

So that’s my first marathon story. That’s how I caught the marathon bug.

And here is my full marathon history below.  **If there’s a race you are curious about, please ask! I am happy to share more about any race. The Right Fits didn’t begin until marathon #10 (St. George) so I don’t have race reviews for all. You can find race reviews for #10 forward under “Fits Do Race Reviews” or on the “50 Marathons, 50 States” tab on the blog.

  • 0-  DNF TCM 2004
  • 1- 5:02:03 Twin Cities Marathon 2005 (with LL)
  • 2- 4:23:46 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego 2006
  • 3- 4:21:35 Grand Rapids, Michigan 2006
  • 4- 5:17:19 Chicago Marathon 2007- Crazy hot. This is the year they “cancelled” the race, but I was still able to finish. That’s a post in itself! 
  • 5- 4:20:19 TCM 2008 (Two weeks before our wedding. Ran it in the pouring rain!)
  • 6- 4:30:21 Big Sur, CA 2009  (Hilliest course we’ve ever done, but gorgeous!)
  • 7- 3:55:32  Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle WA 2010  (My first marathon with the CBRC. Finally broke four hours!)
  • 8- 4:00:23  Milwaukee, WI 2010
  • 9- 4:30:37  Go! St. Louis MO 2011   (Another steamy hot race)
  • 10- 3:57:34  St. George, Utah 2011   (Gorgeous course. Highly recommend this one!)
  • 11- 4:05:25 St Jude Marathon Memphis, TN 201
  • 12- 4:20:19 Marathon-to-Marathon, Iowa  (Another hot day, but we both ran smarter this time.)
  • 13- 3:55:17 Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA 2012
  • 14- 4:00:57 Newport Marathon, Oregon, 2013
  • 15- 3:59:34 Berlin Marathon, Germany 2013
  • 16- Flying Pig Marathon, Cincinnati, Ohio- TBD!

Oh my gosh…that is quite a marathon list!  And it’s so awesome!  I am sure that we’ve all had races that did not go as planned…I know my first half was no picnic, but I still fell in love with the process and will be racing more in the coming years.


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