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Category Archives: half marathon

40 by 40 challenge

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40 by 40 challenge

I am turning 40 this year!

What’s a big birthday without a big project? I needed something that would challenge me, be measurable, but would not make the delicate haystack of my emotions crumble like the foam from the inside of my bathmat after it had been washed one too many times.

The answer: Run 40 half marathon (distances) BETWEEN MY 39th and 40th birthdays!

The only rule I have is the run must be continuous (so no 6 miles in the morning and 7.1 in the evening). Walking, running, racing, intervals are all fair game, but it MUST be a continuous 13.1 recorded by gps.

I am kicking ass at this goal. Let’s recap the first quarter (12/8 – 3/7).

    #1–Kiawah Island Half (appx. 2:28).  Too much to say. This race felt strong and amazing, and this whole weekend was the stuff of which dreams are made.

It was my birthday. I spend the weekend with 18 of my running friends in a giant beach house in South Carolina. I ran a half marathon—which included stopping at the house to use the bathroom and get some candy— in 2:28

  • #2–Sunday morning figure 8 half (2:34).  Why did I think this was slow and steady?  

As you can see, I take visibility very seriously. Spibeams visor (available at, reflective vest, flashing light on the back, and reflective details on my pants.

    #3–5 am run with the Go with the Flowe group. Ran 9.5 miles with a group that generously waited for me to catch up, and, and then finished the last 3.6 miles on the final.


    • #4–Sunday morning run through Old Town (2:38).  This run was forgetable. Not bad, but I must not have been listening to anything amazing because nothing about it sticks in my mind. Usually I can remember exactly what I was listening to when I review the route.  Not here. (Hence no picture)
      #5–MLK Afternoon run (2:36)–Spent the weekend with the family, attempted sledding (until 20 minutes into the expereince, my niece went a little too fast, flipped her sled, and needed stitches in her chin.  She was a champion through the experience.) I HAAAAAAAAAAAATE running in the afternoon, and despite eating pancakes with the family in the morning, still had to make an emergency Starbuck’s stop to get some life-giving bantam bagels.
  • These two kiddos are the best.
    • #6–Windy Sunday morning half (2:48) Listening to Tara Westover’s book Educated.  Some of the descriptions of the abuse she suffered as a child were so real and striking that I felt sick to my stomach.  But I’m glad I had a calm, rainy, cool windy morning to not hurry through the run or hurry through the experience.

    This weather was so perfect for indulging in a good book. It was not really perfect for running. Take speed out of the equation? ALL WEATHER IS PERFECT FOR RUNNING.

    • #7–President’s Day Half.  Slowest one to date, but it was on the heels of leading a spin class.  My legs were TIRED.

    The park is damn pretty, and seeing the sunrise over this pond makes up for the geese that were actively mocking my slow pace.

    8. End of the Trail Half Marathon (2:15)–what a difference a PLAN makes!  This is a specacular, well organized, flat, fast, FUN race. I made a last minute decision to use a training plan I had loaded on my watch: 1 mile WU, 3 miles at moderate pace (10:30), then 1k run/90 second rest intervals.  It worked like a charm—13 minutes faster than the last half I raced, the first time I landed on the 2:15 mark in YEARS, and the whole race felt so good. PLUS! I got to meet a fellow Nuun Ambassador and see a whole bunch of local friends.

    I would not say I “slay”-ed anything, but I am damn proud of what I accomplished. #BeAwesomeToday

      #9–Sunday afternoon half. The husband and I had spend the weekend out of town visiting the kiddos, and that means that this early morning runner had to begin my run (journey on the struggle bus?) at 2 pm with two laps around the Dry Creek Park 10K loop.  Lessons learned–DRINK YOUR DAMN WATER. I started out the run thirsty, and it got so much worse as time went on.  BUT! I had a very smooth recovery and got to have all the Napa Marathon feels wearing the shirt and thinking about everyone who had run that morning!

    Things I am discovering–I am getting less mentally tough when it comes to these runs.  If I am alone, I have no desire to go fast and can find any excuse in the book to walk. I’m still determined to cover the miles, but there is a definite difference between my times running with peer pressure vs. running and not listening to the book.

    Here’s to getting stronger, perhaps faster, and settling into knocking this challenge out of the park.

    MIA. OMG. WTGDHHH (What the Gosh Darn Heck Happened Here). LOL.

    Posted on

    Holy cow. It has been a long time.

    Just kidding. I still spin and run obsessively.

    I have a big birthday coming up at the end of this year, and I am trying not to feel down about it. MID LIFE CRISIS, Y’ALL. So I’m listing the good. Luckily, it comes as an update on what I’ve done over the last 2 years.

    • I still run a lot. I have run the Napa Valley Marathon (again–did I post a re-cap? Maybe I will. It was a trip); the Two Cities Half (the Clovis one! Tequila at mile 8!); The Kiawah Island Half (best birthday weekend a girl could have imagined); The End of the Trail race (both the 10k in 2018 and the half in 2019); The Santa Rosa Half (I left off with training for the full. That….didn’t happen. Oops.); a bunch of 5ks, 4 milers, 15ks, etc. Plus a LOT of long miles solo with me and my favorite podcasts or books.

    Sometimes I run. Sometimes I fly.

    • I still lead spin classes. Over the last 6 years (SIX YEARS??!?!?) my class profiles have whittled themselves down to about 12 different, really solid profiles that I rotate through with whatever music is speaking to me at the time. Spoiler alert: Not EDM.

    What’s a holiday spin class without a kindergarten style visual aid?

    • I still sew a lot. Do I sew fun things for myself? LOLOLOLOLOL. But I sew beautiful things, beautiful dresses, working with beautiful brides who for some reason believe in me when I tell them it is all going to be ok and they will both look and feel exactly the way they want to look and feel on their big day. And the STORIES!

    So that about covers basic updates. My goal is to write down all those race recaps I’ve been dragging my feet on, get more spinning profiles out there( maybe it will help inspire others in the oh-crap-what-are-we-going-to-do-for-spin-tomorrow rut.), all the amazing stories that come from being the safe person who gets to bond with brides before her big day, recap my current running challenges, and pretend the wider world cares deeply about what I’m doing.

    Will puppy pictures inspire you to check in more?

    But mostly? This a record for me. If my Jesuit education taught me anything, it’s that in reflection we can always find the lessons to lead us forward.

    Want more regular updates? Find me on Instagram or Facebook at spinrunsew.

    Want to see something specific? Comment below and let me know!

    Local Race Love

    I love our local running community, and last Sunday was our big party–aka, the Two Cities Marathon and Half!  This was my 6th year running it (2008-2010, 2012-14–what was I thinking in 2011?!?!?!  I STILL regret skipping it).

    There is a race suited for everyone–a full marathon that takes you through the cities of both Clovis and Fresno; a half through Clovis; a half through Fresno; a half marathon relay; a 5k; and a kids fun run.

    I have very strong feelings about which race to tackle–I’ve run both the Clovis half (two way traffic on the running trail–no bueno) and the Fresno (wide open road, running along a quiet, tree lined lane on the edge of town with beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, all white capped with snow…and one, teensy 1 mile long hill).

    Guess which one I prefer?

    We have had an insane drought here for the last year.  So when does it decide to rain?  At packet pickup at the expo.  Super soaked doesn’t even begin to describe the trip from the parking lot to the expo.

    That didn’t stop this girl from carbo loading:


    The morning of the race, it was amazing to luxuriate in bed thinking “Hey, the marathon has started.  I don’t have to get up for 10 more minutes.”  I got up and indulged in my pre-race favorites–one cup of coffee, a fun sized snickers bar, and enough body glide to wax a surfboard.

    I jump in my car thinking I have 30 whole minutes to drive across town to the start line.  A mile from home, I realize that I forgot my Garmin–I was disappointed I forgot it for my last half, so decided to go back for it.

    Good thing, because it was sitting right next to my race bib.  Oops.

    Made it to the start line at 7:13, and then realized my part of the race began at 7:30, not 7:15.  I could have slept 15 more minutes! Plenty of time for a pre race selfie!!

    The race itself:  beautiful, cool, comforting.  I’ve run this route 4 times (minus the year I ran Clovis and the year it was a single half with a different route), and it’s always nice to run an old favorite.  With all the rain the day before, the view of the snow-capped (!) mountains was crystal clear. It was absolutely beautifuL.  Glorious.

    I ran this race alone, and I ran it slowly.  My goal was to beat my Santa Rosa time of 2:18.  I cried like a baby when the 2:20 pacing group passed me.  Full-out sobs.  Not my finest moment.

    Another downside–only ONE person on the entire route appreciated my bib.  Sad face.

    BUT!  This is the first race in ages my knee didn’t act up.  No pain during, minimal soreness after. So slow = hurt pride not muscles.  Good to know.

    The finishers area was awesome as always.  They have great food (Ice cream sundaes!  Coffee!  Bananas! And to a lesser extent, Breakfast!); the shirt didn’t suck this year (I’m not a fan of brightly colored sweatshirts–the understated, lightweight long sleeve was perfect); it was fun to meet up with the LLL running group at the foam roller/stretching station they set up (and very, very helpful for recovery); and the beer garden was a great place to socialize (and after running–2 beers was almost enough to knock me out.)

    Even though I forgot my race bib and watch, I you bet your ass I had my ID for the beer garden.

    This race truly is homecoming for the local running community! And great big ball of love I feel is indescribable.

    Until next year!

    Beautiful Day for a Half!

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    Today was the California Classic!! 13.1 miles from the ball park, through downtown, under the sea lions, past the giraffes, back downtown and across home plate!

    I met up with my running girls to carpool down to the starting line–it was a balmy (and quite frankly, too warm) 62 degrees at 630 am.

    Check out this gorgeous sunrise at the ballpark!


    Here’s the finish line right across home plate–I was pumped to see that for real!!!


    One awesome thing about my running friends is that they know SO MANY members of the local running community. Between participating in Team in Training, working in a running store, coaching running groups, promoting local bike stores, and hanging out with the cycling community, the two of them knew everyone!

    Here’s all important pre-run selfie–thanks to my good friend (and race volunteer) for taking this picture. Like the shirt? The husband bought that for me yesterday after I was complaining saying that I didn’t have any hot weather short sleeve shirts, and tanks = chafing on my arms. UnderArmor Heat Gear. Worth every penny. Love it.


    The race started beautifully.


    Breezy, lots of people cheering, shaded, lovely. We ran through the downtown, arts district, and them through the park. The best part–the zoo! Here’s the best of the best–running through the cave under the sea lion cove.


    Then came mile 8–the long stretch through the industrial part of the city. The long, hot stretch. I was still pretty good at this part–but man did it feel good to scale the overpass and know that part was OVER.


    I hit a massive wall at mile 10. After *the sick* last week, I thought I was doing well–my legs felt strong, I was mentally ready, but I was not prepared for the wall of tired. Miles 10 – 12 were really mentally tough.

    Then my body started to freak out. I was switching from hot hot hot to chilled to the bone to dizzy. (Did I mention it was HOT?) just before mile 13 I fell back from my group and slowed way down to quell the pukey-McNasty feeling that was taking over.

    Half bock walk and I was ready or kick that last .1’s ass. I finished at a respectable 2:16ish, a minute and a half behind my group. I think I would have succumbed to feeling crappy much, much sooner if they had not been there to cheer me on. I am so very thankful them.


    Overall. I was very pleased with my time and the whole experience!!! Half number 7 is in the books! I earned the best part of the day–this giant fountain Diet Coke!


    Thanks, Sister

    One of our 2 local half marathons is in May, and I have been on the fence about running it( mostly about the cost–race fees add up quick!)

    My sister is a huge inspiration to me–that girl never says quit! She is an amazing ball of energy, has worked her butt off to get herself into shape (which has always been a bit of a struggle for her) and believes she can do anything.

    She is running a half in May–the same day as the one here. After our conversation where she was talking about her training, I was convinced.

    We’re running a marathon, sister! I bet the Wisconsin leg will have cuter sign holders (aka, my 3 and 1 year old nephews).


    Isn’t my sister cute?

    The Dread Dissipates

    I have been dreading tomorrow’s half marathon. Dreading.

    My schedule for this week has sucked. I was in Memphis for a wedding all last weekend (only got one very fast 3 miler in), and came back to madness.
    Monday 8 am to 11 pm
    Tuesday 8 am to 5 pm, then 6 pm to 11pm
    Wednesday 8 am to 11 pm
    Thursday 9:30 to 5 (I took a mental health morning. Totally worth it.)
    Friday 8 am to 3 pm, then 6 pm to 11 pm
    Today 9 am to 4 pm, then 6 pm to 11 pm

    I am tired. Also my foot hurts ( specifically, the place where my right big toe joins my foot) and has since Sunday. So the idea of waking up to run 13.1 miles tomorrow has been filling me with the most intense sense of dread.

    Until I got on the highway to go pickup my packet. I started getting excited. Really, really excited. By the time I got to the race pickup, I was practically skipping. Look at my new shirt!!!!

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    I promptly went home and signed up for a turkey trot.

    How can the surly be replaced with such elation so quickly? I wish I could explain how light I feel right now, and how thrilled I am to get to experience another gathering of a community of runners.

    I’ll chalk it up to having the love of running. That deep, somewhat crazy love of everything about running–the good (The camaraderie! The burn! The wind in your hair! The post run glow! The post run beer!), the bad (windy days), and the ugly (The chafing!! Oh my God, the chafing!!!!!)

    I’m happy I’ve still got it.

    Ashleigh Lawrence

    Ashleigh Lawrence - Personal Trainer and Strength Coach

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