Lessons from each of my 13 marathons + We started our own.

(Long-sleeve, earwarmer, leggings, shoes)

NINE MILES @ 8:45 average!!!

I adore seeing Christmas trees in people’s front windows while I am running.

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He is loving Skye’s toys now…

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Loving gummy candy a lot at the moment.

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She told me that she is a real elf and will never be a normal human again.

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OBSESSED with the tunnel.  

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Started reading this book with Brooke (we have started our own book club).

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Yesterday was a pretty busy day so we’ll wrap up the day’s recap here and move on to some lessons learned (the updated version)!


I decided it was time to update this post… I originally talked about my first 11 marathons but wanted to add my last two to the list.  So if you read the first 11 in the past, feel free to skip down to the last two:)

1.  Salt Lake City Marathon 2010.  3:20

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-This was my very first marathon and the first race that I had ever trained for (I had done one 1/2 marathon before this but didn’t train for it and paid for that by being sore for three weeks straight).  I learned that day how much I love the marathon.  I went into the marathon thinking it would be a one-and-done experience and left the race course craving more and more.  My goal was to complete the race, and I ended up finishing 5th woman overall.  I had never really felt like I excelled in a lot of things at this point in my life (more I just got by whether it was schooling/sports/hobbies and I was never very consistent), and I realized I had uncovered a big passion of mine and that was extremely exciting.   It changed my life because ever since that day, I have dreamed about what marathon is next!

-My first three marathons were before I started blogging, and I didn’t know much about the sport at all, so I WORE RACING FLATS for the first time EVER for my first 26.2 miles.  My feet hurt so bad, and I learned a lot about not trying anything new on race day.

-To eat.  I saw people eating while running the marathon, which confused me at first, and I learned the hard way when the wall hit me like a train.  I learned that you NEED to be eating throughout the race because a few sips of Gatorade isn’t going to cut it.  It took about seven more marathons to learn how much and how often to eat, but this was the first time I had any idea that people ate while running.

2.  Utah Valley Marathon 2010.  3:08.  The only picture I could find from this race… it’s a little one.

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-I don’t remember this race that well, but I do remember being at the starting line in a tank top and shorts, and it was SNOWING.  I remember thinking… I probably should have done a little research about what to wear.

-Don’t run a race that passes right in front of your house at mile 23… the mental test of not just running straight inside to my couch instead of finishing the race is not a test I want to take again.

-Don’t be disappointed in the steps along the way to get to your big goals (even though this took me a few marathons to learn).  After my first marathon, I told myself that my next marathon would be sub 3… so while I had a 12 minute PR, I was mad I didn’t get 2:59.  Little did I know it would take me eight years and that these big goals of ours take so much time and work.  Life is a lot more fun if we celebrate all of the small victories along the way.

3.  Top of Utah Marathon 2010.  3:04.

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-I found out that I was going to run this race three days before the race.  I remember it being a fabulous day because I had zero pressure on myself (because it was such a last-second thing), which made all of the difference.  I cheered for myself and talked positively, so while the taper/training wasn’t great for this race… my mental game gave me another PR, and I learned how nice it is to not put so much pressure on ourselves.  We perform a lot better if we are optimistic and enjoy the experience a lot more too.

-I completely remember during this marathon learning about how much things change.  I remember hurting halfway through the race big time and wondering how I would hold on but then reminding myself that the pain comes in waves.  I just told myself to get through the mile I was in and that I was going to feel better afterward.  It’s crazy to me how much things change throughout a marathon, and that day I kept reminding myself to hold on until the next wave of feelings.

-This lesson was more of a result of this marathon, so afterward:  My big injuries started right after this race… from knee problems to stress fractures to you name it, my body was not happy.   I learned through these first marathons that you cannot under-fuel your body and expect it to run.  It might work for a season, but after that, you are toast.  I was dealing with amenorrhea and not giving my body what was needed for the amount of activity that I was doing.  My body broke down after this marathon, and I’m running MUCH faster now… 25ish lbs heavier.  I didn’t run another marathon after this one until I had a regular menstrual cycle again.

4.   New York City Marathon 2011. 3:35.

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-How much better bagels are in New York compared to Utah.  I remember taking full advantage of all of the bagels and other free food in the village before the race and having some cramping issues.   While I love free food, it’s important to eat the things you have trained with on race day.

-Running with people is fun.  Skinny Runner and I ran into each other in the corrals at the beginning and then ran the entire race together.  The only other person I had ever run with before this was my sister, and I realized during this race how much I LOVE the social aspect that we can gain from running.

-That there is always another race.  Always.  Earlier that year, I had to drop out of Boston because of femoral stress fractures right before the race.  I was DEVASTATED.  I thought my running life was over and was just so sad about the situation.  I was able to instead do New York that year, and it was an unforgettable day.  I want to get back to this race again because there is nothing like it.   I also learned that day that not every race is going to be a PR, and for me personally, I need those races too… where I am just there to sit back and relax (which will only make sense to us crazy runners;) and take in the scenery.

5.  Utah Valley Marathon 2014.  3:29.


-I learned from this marathon that pool running is fabulous for our cardio, but it doesn’t prepare us for any hills.  Oh, and pool running softens your feet, resulting in terrible blood blisters on your feet during the race.  Leading up to this marathon, I had an injury and spent five weeks in the pool leading up to the race (I think with just one run in those five weeks a few days before the race ((like a three-miler)).  Pool running helped me hold onto a lot of my cardio fitness but not the muscular strength I needed for a marathon.  Long story short, it’s doable to only pool run for five weeks leading up to a marathon, but it isn’t enjoyable.

-Emotional pain will drain your running.  This was my first marathon after my divorce, and Brooke was being picked up that morning ON the course.  No matter how fit we are… some things hurt so badly emotionally and drain us.  It wasn’t the time for me to be shooting for race goals… I should have been spending more time on healing and processing what I had been through.

– I learned how incredibly painful it is to go out WAY too fast in a race for your current fitness level.  I went out at a pace that I used to be able to handle and wasn’t fit enough to do it at that point.  That 3rd segment hurt really really bad and luckily I had my sister there to tell me stories the entire time.

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6.  St. George Marathon 2014.  3:12.

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-I learned that day that the St. George Marathon is my absolute favorite marathon, and my opinion has not swayed from that:). I grew up in St. George and love that place with all of my heart.  The red rock, the gorgeous scenery all along the way, the whole city is out to cheer on the runners, and the course just made me fall so deeply in love with this course.

-My first negative split race ever.  I’m sure the St. George course had something to do with that, but it was my first experience pacing a course well and how nice it felt to speed up as the race went on rather than slow down, which is what has happened in the majority of my marathons:)

-It was my first marathon ever with Brooke at the finish line, and I learned that day how much that meant to me and how much having my people at the finish line got me through some of the tough miles.

7.  Boston 2015.  3:12.

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-TO ADJUST YOUR TIME GOALS TO THE WEATHER.  This was a year of major headwind (I think it was 30 mph most of the way) and a lot of rain and cold.  I was stubborn and went out for my time goal of 3:00, and then starting at mile 17ish, I slowed down more and more with each mile.  If the weather is terrible, there will always be another race where you can go for your time goal.  Focus on your effort and doing your best, but if you don’t adjust your paces a bit… the weather WILL catch up to you.

-Red eyes + Janae = disaster.  I learned for that race to never take a red-eye again on my way to a race.  I felt wrecked, and it wasn’t worth the $50 I saved on the redeye ha.  Our sleep leading up to a race is SO important, so prioritize that if you are shooting for a PR.

-SAVE IT FOR THE HILLS!  This course is so easy to get lost in speed during the first half, but you have to save some of your gas for the hills and miles 18-22ish.

8.  Tucson 2015.  3:10.

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-To stay in my own lane.  I went out too fast for many reasons, but one of them was because I wanted to catch the girl ahead of me.  That kind of thing works great at the end of the race, but not the beginning.  At about mile 13 or so, I saw her peel off the course, and a different runner jumped on, and I realized then that THEY WERE DOING A RELAY… My competitiveness caused me to go out faster than I was ready for and then crash and burn the last 10k as I was racing against someone in a different race.  The marathon can bite you if you don’t pace wisely, so this one taught me to run the paces I know I need to run regardless of what everyone is doing around me.

-To give your body a break when it needs it.  I had been in marathon training for the entire year until this point, with some health problem thrown in, forcing me to miss St. George that year.  We have SO many years of racing and just one body… I really should have let my body recover a bit better and heal before trying another marathon, so shortly after being so sick!

-To double knot your shoes for a marathon and I have ever since.

9.  St. George 2016.  3:15.


-I learned at this race that I had married the most supportive person on the planet.  Andrew and I had just gotten married a few months before this marathon, and he had Brooke and Knox (3 at the time) all over the course to cheer me on as many times as possible.  I had craved having a partner to support and be supported by for SO SO SO long, and it was finally happening.  No better feeling in the world.

I learned that day that visors are the best when running a sunny/hot race.  They keep the sun out of your eyes while allowing the heat to escape out of your head still.

-Always put bags of ice in your sports bra when you are hot during a marathon, and then thank me later for the tip.  It cools you down SO fast.

10.  St. George 2018. 2:59.

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-I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry <— just something I have to remind myself when I think deeply about this race because it was such an incredible experience.  I learned how valuable it is to focus on your present.  Focusing on the miles up ahead is a waste of energy and time.   If I can be present and focus on doing the best I can in that moment… that is all I can do.  Putting my thoughts on the future brings me anxiety and a stomachache ha.

-Deena Kastor is the best marathon teacher.  I read her book before this race, and it made all the difference on race day for me.  I focused on gratitude throughout the miles and especially when things hurt.  I MADE my own joy when I wanted to focus on my cramping.  I decided to be stubborn about my goals rather than letting them fall through my fingers again because of quitting and slowing down.  I chose to feel like I BELONGED and that I had control over the outcome that day.

-I learned how much sweeter accomplishing the goal feels when you’ve put in the work, failed over and over again, and dreamed about something for a long time.  If my goal of a sub 3 marathon was met on my 2nd marathon like I wanted it to, I don’t think I would have felt as amazing as I did after the marathon eight years ago.  God’s plan is the best plan, and celebrating that sub 3 with Andrew and my kids was just the best of the best, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-Okay, 4 for this one.  You can fool yourself into thinking that your legs aren’t that tired during a race.  You can fool yourself into hitting your dream paces even if your brain tells you to slow down…. BUT you CANNOT fool poor racing nutrition.   I remembered in 2011, I ate candy on the way to the start of a half marathon and felt like death during the race.  I had a few marathons where I started fueling at mile 15 and pretty much had to crawl the last 6 miles.  BUT what I really remember is the races where I fueled properly, and while I was tired at the end, I never felt that depleted/zero glycogen/want to die feeling during the race.  I now go into half-marathons and marathons, eating 600+ calories in the morning and fueling regularly throughout the race (every 30-40 minutes).  Fueling properly has been a game-changer for my running, and I’m so glad I now know how much more enjoyable long runs/marathons are now that I’m eating enough.  We don’t expect our cars to run without gas, so why in the world would we expect our bodies to run without calories during a race?!

11.  Boston 2019.  3:28.

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-I did this marathon just a few weeks after my 50 miler, so I did not go into it with any time goals.  I took every step of the experience and enjoyed it.  I smiled, waved, ate everything people passed out to me, and have the best memories from that day.  This race taught me how much fun it is to do a race for fun now and then.  Why not just enjoy it and soak it all in?!

-If you smile pretty much for an entire marathon… your cheeks will be sore the next day.

-Runners are some of the absolute best people out there.  That’s the thing about Boston… the actual race is incredible (and it’s so fun to talk to so many different runners along the way), but the whole weekend—> People are just the best.  Everyone is excited to hear about each other, supportive, and so so friendly!

12.  St. George 2019 2:49

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-Dream bigger than you think you should.  When I got my first sub 3 at St. George, I thought there was no chance I could ever run it any faster than that.  The girls I trained with for this race dreamed so big, and I jumped on that train, and it took me to a 10 minute PR.  It made me realize that we hold ourselves back when we tell ourselves we have already hit our potential… there is so much more in us!  

-Training with a team was the best thing possible for my running.  They made me so much faster by chasing after them during speed and stronger by getting me on the trails 2-3 times a week.  I cannot recommend training with others enough if you have the chance to if you want to hit a big goal.

-Having someone to run a marathon with almost feels illegal.  The benefits I got from running 25.5 of the miles with Emilee were insane.  We pushed each other when the other was struggling.  We kept going because we knew that the other person was hurting, and they weren’t quitting.  We encouraged each other.  We had inside jokes.  We were so in sync.  We better get the chance to do that again!

13.  CIM 2019 2:58

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-CIM is a very hilly course.  People warned me repeatedly about this, and I thought I wouldn’t even notice the hills because of how many trails we were doing… but then I got there and couldn’t believe how many ups and downs there were.  I think people say it is a fast course because the energy of the other amazing racers there and crowds is incredible.  I also think that most years the weather is perfect and that helps people to run faster.  

-TO NOT FLY IN THE DAY BEFORE A GOAL RACE.  It was go go go the day before the race that I had very little time to rest.  My best marathons happen when I spend most of the day off of my feet and that did not happen.

-Sea level doesn’t automatically make me fly;). I was sure leading up to the race that racing at sea level would be magic since I train at altitude.  Maybe it’s because I got there just a day before the race, but I didn’t feel a difference.  

-That back-to-back marathons are extremely tough!  Emilee and I both felt completely fried going into the race because it was only two months after our huge PR at St. George.  We wanted to try for an OTQ before the deadline, so that is why we did it.  I do not recommend racing marathons so close to each other.  

-Nobody else cares about what the time on the clock says when you cross the finish line.  I was 13 minutes off of my goal, and not one person changed how much they loved me:). My kids, Andrew, family, friends, and the online running community… nothing changed when I didn’t hit my goal.  No matter what happens on race day, your people will love you regardless of missing your goals.

I can’t wait to continue to add to this list and grow along the way.


Who has run any of the races that I mentioned?  How did it go for you?

Give me some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned during some of your races?

Best thing you have eaten recently?

Are you a part of a book club, have you ever been in the past?

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OMG I remember tracking you during your sub 3 race and texting my friend the entire time. We were both cheering you on and analyzing every update like psychos ha. When you finished we were both dying and so incredibly happy for you!!

I’m in a book club with all the females on my moms side of the family. It’s so fun! Every book we always say who we would cast to play the main characters for the movie and it’s fun to hear who people pick.


Maureen! Okay, you just made me so happy! Thank you for doing that with your friend and cheering for me:). That means the world to me. Ummmm that sounds like the best book club ever, can I join?!? Have the best day!


Is Snowy McFrosty Skye’s elf name? Love it!

Tucson was my first half marathon. My dad has done NYC multiple times and I usually run a bit with him, can’t wait to do the full course as a real participant! Maybe one year I will eventually win the lottery haha.

I’m in a book club with friends right now! It’s been going for about a year so far which has been so fun.


Hahah I’m not sure where that name came from, she just had it on when I picked her up. I didn’t know Tucson was your first half marathon, that makes me so happy! YOU WILL RUN NYC and I cannot wait to hear all about it. You will love it. So awesome that you and your friends do a book club. I hope your day is a beautiful one!


I just realized how long I have been reading your blog. I “met” you when you and Brooke had just landed in your parents’ basement! Crazy!

I don’t run anymore, but I used to run and I LOVE that your times are naturally so fast- like reading about your first marathon. And you nurture your gift, which is so important. I was always more of a turtle. Haha.


Marianne, we have been friends for SO so long! Thank you for being my friend over the years and I am sure you rocked your running. Hope your day is off to a great start!


I have run Boston and New York and incidentally I ran New York in 2011 too lol.

Biggest lesson…the race isn’t over until it is over. If you go out too fast you will pay lol..there is no banking time. No matter how fast or slow you are nobody and I mean nobody cares what time you ran. It’s just a race!

Favorite thing I ate lately. We ordered sushi last night. It was so good!

Have a great day Janae!!


Kristine, I wish we could have met in NYC in 2011! That would have been awesome. Okay, those lessons are all SO so true.
Now you have me needing sushi. Glad you guys had it last night. I hope your day is off to a great start!


I’ve absolutely remembered some of your tips and strategies while running my own marathons – in particular to focus on the mile you’re in because pain/emotions come in waves and to focus on what feels good – like my elbows are feeling pretty great right now! Doesn’t matter if you run a 5:00, 8:00, or 12:00 mile… The feelings are so universal.


REALLY? That makes me so so happy… luckily, those elbows always feel good;)! We all get it and that is what makes our community so strong. I hope your day is off to a great start and thanks Carly!


Good morning, Janae! I love Skye’s elf name. We did something similar at an office party a couple of years ago – I think I was Sugar Cookie Snowflake LOL!
Always lessons to be learned from races. The thee that stand out for me with distances of a half marathon and up are: 1) fueling is NECESSARY even if you feel OK. If you forget to fuel, you bonk at mile 23 of your marathon. Yes, you do. 2) Start MUCH slower than you think you need to. 3) The best running shoes for me have a wide toe box and nothing but the mesh upper going anywhere near the front of my foot.
I haven’t actually eaten the best thing yet, but looking forward to Massaman Curry for lunch with two colleagues today :o)
I am not in a book club, but am thinking of joining one through my local library in hopes it will push me to make time for something I love. It’s so awesome that you and Brooke have your own book club!
Have an awesome day, Janae!


Good morning, Janine! Sugar Cookie Snowflake haha. Oh your lessons are RIGHT on… yes yes yes! I’m glad you found the best running shoes for you too! Enjoy your Massaman, that is my favorite ever! I love that you are going to join your library’s book club. Thanks friend, you too!


Loved reading all your lessons, Janae. For some reason, “Dream bigger than you think you should” is hitting me hard (as I sit here trying not to cry)… maybe I need to start doing some of that. Anyway, I was working as support staff for the 2015 Boston Marathon- that was a miserable, but memorable, day. I love Skye’s new ears. How lucky you are to have your very own elf living under your roof. Does she specialize in toy-testing? Quality control and all that ;) Have a great day, Janae!


Jen, you absolutely need to start doing that! We all have so much potential that we don’t even understand fully! Keep me updated all along the way:) Wow, I bet that was a day filled with a range of emotions. Thank you for working as the support staff that year. Hahaha I will ask her now… I’m sure she will say yes! Thanks Jen, have a great day too!


I loved reading about your marathons! Makes me excited for the one I just started training for in Texas in April. St. George is my dream one. Hopefully in 2022 or 2023 as my 40th birthday trip present to myself :)

I am in a book club with friends, but we mainly eat, drink, and chat about life hahaha.

Last best things I’ve eaten are the Christmas treats in the teacher lounge at school while I read this post!


I just started training for my second marathon this week so I’m glad you decided to share all of this; it was great to read/hear! Im also looking forward to starting to read Let Your Mind Run as I begin this training period
Not necessarily a race lesson, but the first marathon I ran what I did was at the beginning of each new mile I would offer it up for a specific person/intention and say a quick little prayer.


awesome…I’m going to have to re-read, but, yeah…my first marathon (before most people I know were born) in 1998 in Kelowna, didn’t finish, barfed at mile 20, so yeah you always learn lessons…my 2nd ironman I wore KSwiss flats, they were like a sock with some tread……but, you’ve inspired me, 2022 will be the year of a return to marathons….


Well someone’s cutting onions in my living room because my eyes won’t stop leaking after reading this post!! Always inspiring and grounded, thank you!


This post was so helpful. I’m currently training for my first marathon after what has been the hardest and most painful year of my life. I don’t have a time goal and just want to finish, but I fall into a habit of doubting myself. Whether it’s a race or just a training run, I’ve learned my mindset makes all the different. Last month, I ran 15 miles and cried the second I got home from pin and frustration. Last weekend I ran 18 miles with a better outlook and it didn’t feel nearly as hard.

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