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BostonmarathonlogoThe Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon recently selected two winners in its Win a Trip to Boston drawing from those who ran Boston qualifying times in the March 2014 SAMM. One male and one female winner – Esther White of Waterford and Miguel Reyes of Fresno — each take home $500, which they may use toward a trip to the 2015 Boston Marathon.

While one was aware of the SAMM contest, but thought it was out of her reach, the other didn’t even know he qualified for Boston or that there was a check for $500 in his future.

Esther White, of Waterford, said she had heard about the contest, but she’s “never, ever won anything. I really didn’t think about the contest” while running,” she said, but she’s thrilled to have won.

“I wasn’t sure I could afford to go to Boston (next year), to tell you the truth. I have been spending on airfare for graduations, weddings and grandbabies! But I thought I should try to go as I am getting ‘older’ and would like to experience Boston before I can’t go,” she said.

Reyes, on the other hand, said (through an interpreter), that he didn’t even know there was a contest in Modesto or that he qualified to run Boston – he was “running for the win.” The 37-year-old ran a 2:55:24 in Modesto, good enough for a fifth place men’s finish and sixth place overall.

Reyes, who was running his third SAMM, says he “loves the Modesto course,” and hopes to make Boston one of his 2015 goals as he has not run Boston before. Reyes began running in 2002 in his hometown in Mexico. He is sponsored by his employer, Tarlton & Son, Inc., a construction firm in Fresno, and has a goal of someday running a sub-2:30 marathon.

“Thank you to the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon team for making this possible,” said Reyes. “I look forward to many more races.”

White, 55, qualified for Boston with a 4:02:14 in Modesto. She has been running since 2000. Her PR is a 3:51:58 at the California International Marathon in Sacramento six years ago, but she couldn’t afford to go to Boston then. She also re-qualified in 2009. But this year is really special, she said.

“This year is about 5s. I turned 55, I have five kids, we had our fifth grandchild, I’ve been running 15 years, been married 35 years and will go to Boston in 2015! Cool, huh?” she said.

This year was White’s second SAMM. She ran last year as a Teens Run Modesto coach. She mentored the Central Valley Christian Academy team in 2013, which included her daughter.

“Honestly, not because I won, but our local marathon is run so great compared to others I have been to,” raved White. “From the expo to the finish. The last time I ran LA the finish was horrible, no bathrooms nearby and once you left the finish area you couldn’t get back. For a small local marathon, ours is easy, efficient and a lot of fun at the end. I only wish we had the ocean to jump into when we’re done!”


Did you have a great run at this year’s Modesto Marathon? Maybe you qualified for Boston or set a new PR?

There’s no better way to commemorate that special day than with an official race poster.

For a limited time, 2014 Modesto Marathon posters are available on eBay. At just $5.00 each, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Looking for something even more special? Get an artist signed and numbered poster for only $20.00.

Click here to see all available Modesto Marathon posters.


I cannot believe it has taken me a week to write this email, and for that, I apologize.

I’m not sure where to begin so I will just speak from my heart and tell you how great each and every person involved in this race is!

I have been overweight most of my life. In January of last year, I decided to change that. I began eating healthy and took up running, as that seemed to be the only exercise that I would see weight loss results in. April 2013 marked my first half marathon. In September, I took the challenge of running a full marathon in the Auburn, CA trails – what an experience that was! Because I was slow, it took me quite a long time to finish. The volunteers at that race were great as well. I ran several more half marathons and lost a total of 75 lbs by December 2013 – just in time for the California International Marathon. It was a dream of mine to run that race. The cut off time was 6 hours and I knew I wouldn’t make that cut off time, but I thought I would be close. Long story short – I don’t wish to bad mouth another race, but my experience at CIM was not a great one and I will definitely not be returning. They weren’t kidding when they said all aid/support/mile markers would be pulled exactly at the cut off time. The last mile marker I saw was at Mile 9 – it was a lonely 17 more miles and I was only able to finish because of the support (emotional and water/food) of my family. They also supported a few other runners who were behind the cut off time with me. We got to the finish line and the clock had already been disassembled. It was, and still is, heartbreaking to see a DNF by my name in the results, knowing that I finished and received a medal. Again, I knew the cut off time going into it, so it’s not CIM’s fault necessarily – I guess I had just been used to the awesome world of runners that I had come to know, and it was disappointing to feel as if I wasn’t good enough to have aid support along the course and an official finish time like the rest of the runners.

After my disappointing experience/performance at CIM, I got down on myself and thought that maybe running wasn’t really for me. I had achieved my goal of running a full marathon and in fact had run two, but I felt like I would never be fast enough to run a marathon and still feel like a winner. I took a break from running and only ran here and there. However, I had already signed up for the Modesto Marathon before CIM, so I knew I had to at least make it to the start line.

My family and I are from Antelope, CA (Sacramento area). So we drove down the day before and stayed in a hotel which I hear uses some great RevPAR software to ensure it all runs smoothly. We went to the expo and my family mapped my route. While I was excited for the race, I still had doubts, wondering if I would be able to finish and unsure if all aid would be pulled if I wasn’t on pace to finish in 7 hours. I began the race well, but at Mile 9 I had a set back – a mental set back. The self doubt set it. I finally kicked it to the curb at Mile 14, but that was a crucial waste of 5 miles of practically walking that ate up some serious time. By Mile 14, I knew there were only a few runners behind me. I knew I wasn’t on pace to finish in 7 hours. I saw the volunteers in the cars and I was just waiting for one of them to tell me to hang up my shoes and accept a ride back to the finish area.

That never happened. Instead, every one – EVERY SINGLE volunteer – was supportive. They cheered for me. They encouraged me. They asked me if I needed anything – water, food, gels, medical aid, you name it. I was SHOCKED to see the aid stations still in place after I fell behind the time limit. I was shocked to see volunteers on bicycles encouraging me to push hard and finish. I was shocked to see how many people drove by honking their horns and giving me a thumbs up. I thanked them all. But I’m not sure they realize how much it meant. I don’t think they know how much it means to someone like me – to be so slow, to have lost a lot of weight yet still have so much more to go, to have a dream of finishing a marathon on a positive note without feeling like a loser. To them, they were just doing their “job.” But I hope they know that they changed my life and I’m sure they changed many. I was again surprised when a CHP motorcyclist pulled over around Mile 22 to tell me how to safely run back in – watch for cars, stay on the left side of the road, and use the sidewalks when I got back into town. And even more so, I could not believe that there were still aid stations open the last few miles of the race. Not only were they open, they were genuinely excited and were cheering for me. And last but not least – I got to the finish line at 7:37 and saw my family waiting for me. I then saw the clock – it was still on! And the announcer was still there. Really? For me?! Still announcing names! And I saw the amazing volunteers with smiles on their faces, handing out medals. After I received my medal, the nice woman (who I tried to find via the Modesto Marathon Facebook page but was unsuccessful) who put the medal around my neck took me aside and gave me encouraging words, showed me some stretches to do, and even talked to my family about how “great” I did. It was above and beyond.

I left the Modesto Marathon feeling like a winner. I exceeded the time limit. The organizers and volunteers took extra (extra!) time out of their day to see that I (and the few people behind me) had a great race even though we were the slow bunch. I’m slow, but I have dreams just like the rest of the runners out there that day had – only my dream was not to qualify for Boston. My dream was to finish and to FEEL like a winner. To hear my name announced, to get a medal, and to see my name with a finish time on the results page did that for me. To have the aid stations open until everyone was accounted for is maybe a small gesture to some, but a huge gesture to someone like me – it made me feel like I was good enough. I can now wear my awesome Modesto Marathon jacket proudly! 🙂

Another fabulous thing was to send out an email survey of our opinions of the race. I have NEVER seen that done before. Wow!

I have a lot of work to do – a lot of training to do to get better. But I will be back next year! Only this time, my goal will be to finish in sub 7 hours. THANK YOU, Modesto Marathon! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep up the amazing work!



Marisa Dixon

Well, the pre-race anxiety finally came to an end at 7:07:56 AM on Sunday morning as I crossed the start line of my very first marathon…which by the end of the day I swore would also be my very last!

We had a perfect day. The temperatures were low but not too cool, and there was no wind. My game plan was to average a 12 minute mile pace for the race, bringing me across the finish line in just less than 5 ½ hours. My usual split times in a long run show me running faster than average in the first 3rd of the distance, slower than average in the middle, and then faster than average again in the last miles. I reached the 14 mile turn around point in 2 hours 40 minutes; about an 11:40 pace…right where I wanted to be. I planned on mile 14 being significantly slower because at this point I knew I would walk awhile and refuel; take my 5 Hour Energy, refill my little bag of Chomps (I was carrying an extra stash in a bag hanging from my hydration belt) take some Aleve…stuff like that, and I did a little over 14 minutes for that mile, and then was back on my target pace of about 12 or less for the next 4 miles.

Then, at mile 19, I started suffering from ITB issues in my right leg. Five times in the last 7 miles I had to stop, massage my leg a little, and then walk until the cramp subsided. When I could run on it, I was easily able to run a 12 minute pace, but those miles that I had to walk for awhile killed my average. But I kept telling myself that my first goal was to finish the race, my second goal was to look strong when I crossed the finish line, and my third goal was to finish in under 5 ½ hours. I reached my first goal and just barely missed my 3rd goal. And in a picture my husband took at the finish line, I think I look pretty strong for an old lady that just ran 26.2 miles for the first time in her life.

There’s something about rounding the corner and seeing that finish line that just energizes me. With about 2 tenths of a mile to go, suddenly nothing hurt. I could see the finish clock on its arch with the crowd lining the street on both sides. I knew Tom was down there somewhere waiting for me, watching me reach this goal I had worked so hard for. Before the race started, when I was still obsessing over whether or not I could really do this, Dave Busby told me he knew I would do great and to remember to look for him because he would be waiting there to share a “high five” as I came down the final stretch. Sure enough, there he was. Even as I was picking up speed, I stuck out my hand and met his open palm, acknowledging his faith and encouragement. I heard Efren on the PA system saying my name, calling me a champion (ok, so he called everyone a champion, but it still felt good!) and remarking on the giant smile on my face. And then my whole focus was on the finish clock. I watched the seconds tick off as I kept running faster and faster, feeling like I was flying. At some point that I wasn’t even aware of, my hands ended up above my head and I was screaming like a fool as ran across that finish line! I couldn’t believe I had actually done it.

And then, best of all, there was Tom waiting for me. The mental picture that kept me going during those last hard miles was Tom waiting for me at the finish line. The hug I got from him was the best thing ever! Even better than the Gatorade that was handed to me after he let me go!

Other great moments at the finish line included seeing some friends that were waiting for me. One was the first person I met in the ShadowChase Running Club, Dave Barrett. When I went to my first group workout, he came up and introduced himself, then promptly directed me to work out with the walkers. (He asked if I was a runner and I said I wanted to be…I didn’t know at the time that the runners who went to that work out were FAST! I was no where close to ready to run with that group then! They’re still twice as fast as I am.) Dave was standing right next to Tom when I came in, and he’s the one who had a Gatorade open and ready for me. Another person waiting for me was a long time friend, Debra Bush. I was so surprised to see her, and she took a picture of Tom hugging me, just as I had visualized so many times when I started to doubt I could do this. That mental image kept me motivated when the training got hard. Now I have a photo of the real thing to remind me that you have to dream it first to make it real!

Also there at the finish line greeting everyone was Marathon Goddess Julie Weiss. She was going to run the Rome Marathon on Sunday, but decided to come to ours instead, and said she plans to come back next year! How about that? Our race getting picked over a race like Rome??? Our little race here in Modesto is growing. We’re getting elite runners, famous runners, celebrities, and now there’s talk of Olympic hopefuls coming to try to qualify for the 2020 Olympics because our course is fast and our race is well organized. We even made headlines on RunnersWorld.com! Look out world, here comes SAMM!

Within an hour after finishing, the rush had finally worn off and I was pretty miserable. I began suffering gastric distress and my joints began to ache. My car was parked 2 blocks from the start/finish area, and when I parked there, I thought that was pretty close. Let me tell you, that 2 block walk to get to my car seemed way longer than the 26.2 miles I just ran! I was never so grateful to be able to sit down! I always keep some herbal remedies in my car for times like these when I need some immediate pain relief. Click here to read more about what I use, without it I don’t think I’d be able to drive home. I had my usual dose, let it sink in then started the 15 minute drive home which seemed to take forever. Then it was some bathroom time, some hot tub time, then some more bathroom time, then a 2 hour nap. (I would have slept longer, but my kids decided to come over, although they didn’t stay long.) The hot tub really did help with easing my muscles, so I’m even half tempted to have one from a site similar to milehighhottub.com installed at home for after every run I do. Hopefully, it will help with muscle rehabilitation! After way, after all that I spent the rest of the evening Facebooking with my running friends and family, relaxing in the recliner with my feet up, and waiting for Tom to come home. (The work of race crew volunteers is not over when the race is done; there’s SO much for them to do. Thanks, all of you, for making this experience possible for me.) And no, I didn’t eat hardly anything after I got home. I know we’re supposed to, but my stomach just wasn’t interested. The only thing I really wanted was a DQ chocolate shake, but I didn’t have the energy to go get one. I did finally manage a Greek yogurt around 8:00 PM, and a little ice cream around 9:00. Then, finally I was able to lie down and go back to sleep.

Monday morning I felt so much better! I had scheduled a vacation day because I had no idea how I would feel, and it was probably a smart thing to do. I didn’t hurt too much, but by around 1:00 PM I was feeling pretty worn out again so I relaxed and started reading up reviews on the best CBD oils that I could use for future purposes if I’m experiencing any soreness, as it’s said that this product helps to relieve that. But today, I’m feeling fairly normal, (well, normal for me), except that my thighs are a little sore, but not too bad.

What an amazing journey this has been! Just over 3 years ago I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting, weighing in at 224.2 pounds. At that time I could not have run from my front door to the curb if my house had been on fire. If someone had told me then that on March 23, 2014 I would run a marathon, I would have thought them crazy.

As for what comes next…well, you just never know. Sunday at about mile 19 I swore that I would never run another marathon, and my resolve became firmer as my misery increased Sunday night. Then as I was analyzing my splits yesterday, I found my self thinking, “next time I should try this or do that…” Next time?? Am I crazy?? Well, maybe a little. J But for now my goal is to see how well I can place in the club’s Grand Prix series. Run for Health is coming up on April 12th. I need to rest up and make sure I’m well recovered before I go out and try to break any speed records, so that run will probably be really slow, and I’ll run it just be for the grand prix finisher points. If I place, fine, if not, fine. Then hopefully by the Modesto Memorial Classic in May I’ll be ready to see how fast I can go again.

Since I worked so hard to get to the fitness level I’m at now, I plan to maintain at least a half marathon fitness level, which means that every other week, once I’m fully recovered, I’ll probably run between 12 and 15 miles for my long run. (I would never have believed I would be saying that a year ago!) And at that level, if I decide to run a marathon again, I hope to be able to train up to it in 3 months instead of taking 6 months to do it! I may have to download a fitness app to help track my progress, so looking into websites like Cell Phone Deal as well as others like it, will be able to help me figure out which would be best for my goals.

And finally, I want to thank everyone who made this possible for me. Heidi Ryan, our fearless race director, you created an event to be proud of. We will miss seeing you at the helm, but your “retirement” is well deserved. You and the legion of people who have worked with you for the past 5 years to make this event into what it has become deserve more acknowledgement than I have words to express. (And, we all know I have a lot of words!) Karen Lozano, thank you for the great job you do with our annual Movie Night, as well as all the other work you do as co-director that most of us don’t know about. Thank you to all the volunteers, whether you gave a couple of hours or week/months of your time, I know this event would not be possible without you. Thank you, Jeff Lozano, Mike Mason, Susan Taylor and all the coaches and mentors of the adult training group. Your knowledge and encouragement helped so many of us first timers make it to the finish line. Thank you, Jan and Colleen, for getting me through a tough training run…my new besties. To all of our sponsors, thank you for your generous support. All of the hard work would be for nothing without the means to put it in motion. Because I know the 2015 SAMM planning starts now, thank you Vickie Chu-Hermis for taking over as race director.

And most of all, thank you, Tom. Thanks for not complaining when the house is dirty, the dishes are piled in the sink, and the laundry doesn’t get done because I am out running. Thanks for being there at the finish line waiting for me when I cross. Thanks for always believing in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. I can’t imagine my life without you.

To anyone reading this that still thinks they could never do it, see it in your mind first…create that mental image, then in believe it, hold that image tight. Let that image carry you past the challenges. Don’t think about how hard it might be; just think about how sweet reaching the goal will be. To quote St. Augustine, “What can be hoped for which is not believed?”



A bit over 2 hours into the Expo and things are hopping. So much energy in the building.


See everyone at the SAMM Expo!

The great thing about ShadowChase is that when help is needed, members really come through. Such was the case as last night’s Modesto Marathon bag stuffing night.

With 3500 runner bags needing to be filled, we needed an army of volunteers. Over 80 club members took part over 2 working shifts.

4 days until the race and we’re ready!

competitionWondering who some of your competition is for Sunday’s 2014 Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon?

You might notice a lot of youngsters: there are 91 registered minors under the age of 18. The youngest are a pair of 12-year-olds, Gerardo Avalos of Ceres and Coby McCaig of Modesto. The youngest female competitors are 13 years old — Maria Diaz and Dana Miranda, both of Ceres.

But marathoning knows no boundaries: Larry Lieb of Carmichael is the oldest competitor at 80 years young. Ricardo Guidolin, a local speedster who is a mainstay of area races, and Philo Short of Martinez, both 76, are included in a field of four males in their 70s. The oldest female competitor in the full marathon is Barbara Brady, 70, of Livermore.

One of the fastest women we know in the race is defending champion 29-year-old Anna Bretan of Berkeley, the 2013 SAMM winner and course record holder at 2:43:33. She was third overall last year. The men’s field could be anyone’s guess as no past winners have as of yet registered. Two-time winner Jon Olsen of Modesto won’t be competing as he’s nursing an injury. He will, however, be on the speaking panel at the Expo on Saturday at the CrossPoint Family Life Pavilion, corner of 12th and Needham streets. The Expo will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Olsen will speak at noon, followed by “Marathon Goddess” Julie Weiss of Santa Monica, who was featured in the movie Spirit of the Marathon II. Weiss was in Modesto in February during a screening of the film at the Modesto Marathon Movie & Wine Night fund-raiser. Weiss will also be running the full marathon, encouraging others to complete the run while raising awareness of pancreatic cancer.

Also at the Expo will be Arlene Pieper Stine, who is the first recorded woman to have completed an organized marathon. Stine ran the tough Pike’s Peak Marathon in 1959 to promote her women’s health club.  Her daughter Kathy, age 9 at the time, tagged along for the half-marathon up the mountain, and she will be in Modesto with her mother as well. They will be at the Expo, speaking at 3 p.m., and at the marathon finish line on Sunday offering autographed photos from her historic accomplishment.

While the vast majority of marathon runners are from California, we have someone entered with an Armed Forces Asia Pacific address. Of those traveling from out-of-state, eight are from Oregon, four from Nevada, three each from Texas, Florida, Missouri and Montana; with North and South Carolina, Delaware and Illinois also represented.

One of our largest family contingents comes from SAMM’s “Number 1 fan,” Dee Cajiuat of Yacaipa in Southern California. Many here know of Dee through her Facebook posts or her free K-T Tapings and promoting at our Expo. Dee started running to honor her nephew Josh, who suffered life-threatening injuries in an automobile accident. SAMM was her first full marathon and she has since run many, many full and half marathons and even a 100-miler. This year Josh will be making the trip to California to run his first half marathon since the accident, with his Aunt Dee by his side. A total of six Cajiuats will be here running the full or half marathon. Josh’s father and brother will be attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon here.

SAMM is offering a few perks for any runners qualifying for the Boston Marathon here. First, they’ll have their choice of a tech shirt or a license plate frame that proclaims: I BQ’d at the Modesto Marathon. BQ runners will also automatically be entered into a contest for two $500 cash prizes – one to a male and one to a female — which may be used toward their trip to run in Boston.

Other featured runners in the 2014 SAMM are members of the Teens Run Modesto program, who comprise most of our youngest runners, as well as members of the ShadowChase Running Club Adult Training group. Both groups have been training the past 6 months, many for their very first races.

One competitor will be setting SAMM history by being our first official wheelchair athlete. A.J. Mitchell, who helps coach and encourage our adult trainees, will attempt to complete the course in his regular, daily wheelchair. Mitchell recently completed his first marathon, the Los Angeles Marathon, on March 9. The 2014 SAMM also has an “assisted team” entry with one athlete scheduled to run while pushing another.

prescottmedalIt was May 24th, 2013, my first day of summer vacation after graduating 8th grade, when my alarm rang at five thirty in the morning. I got up, got dressed, and I laced up my brand new shoes and prepared for my one shot at history. I had decided that I could attempt to break the Prescott Junior High School distance record and endurance time record which could not include any stopping or even walking at all and had to be done all on a quarter mile track. I was the first girl to even attempt to break the boy’s record of 21 miles and three and a half hours that had been set many years before. Having run my first marathon, the Modesto Marathon, with the amazing support of Teens Run Modesto and two months earlier and two half marathons since then, I was pretty sure I could break the record.

I got to Prescott just after six and started setting up the aid station. I was joined by the boys that were attempting the record with me and many of my Teens Run Modesto coaches: Miss Pingree, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Kern, Mr. Olsen, Mr. Coxford, and my mom. By six thirty we had lined up at our starting line and we were off! They cheered and clapped for us even though we were only running around a ten minute pace and we were all running together; we didn’t have a reason to make it a race. Around mile three the precautionary of drinking more water than a fish to avoid dehydration on a hot day started to set in a little and I think that was about the time I realized how difficult this would truly be. Every thirty minutes we switched the direction we ran on the track to keep the stress on our legs equal. By mile six(right around one hour) my legs were starting to cramp up so I took a shot block and stared thinking about how soon it would all be over. It wasn’t over soon; the sun felt like it was going to bake me alive, even with the amazing efforts of our support team spraying us with water and running through the parts of the track that were getting hit by the sprinklers. By mile fourteen we had already lost one runner, leaving me wondering how long my body could keep me going. Around mile fifteen I was temporarily re-energized when a visiting teacher brought me Fritos. After the wonderfulness of Fritos wore off I was getting really close to stopping, I not only ached but my IT band was defiantly not appreciating the surprise sixteen miles. From then until around mile twenty I don’t remember a whole lot because I spent all of my concentration on pretending I was running anywhere but a track where it was blazing hot on my first day of summer vacation. At mile twenty I snapped out of “my zone” long enough to hear that I only needed to run another mile to tie the distance record; the time record was already mine. I made every painful step of that mile before I realized that I didn’t want to tie a record. I wanted to break it. I went another lap swearing I would stop once I came back around, but for some reason I don’t understand my legs forgot to stop moving. I ran two more laps before notifying the coaches I was on my last lap, for real this time. They pulled caution tape left over from graduation and made us a finish line, which was the second best part of the run. The best part was when Miss Pingree gave us the medals she decorated for us. I can now say that I am the only Prescott girl that holds the same record that a boy does at twenty-two miles and four and a half hours.

By Emily Kleinfelder

juliestanleyTwelve days. Twelve days to the big event. I’ve been working toward this event for six months now. Or a year. Or a couple of years. Or a lifetime. It all depends on where you want to start counting, on what you want to mark as the starting point.

If you use the logic that all past events in your life make you who you are today, then March 23rd will be just another point to where the events of my life have led me. If you consider the starting point to an event as the moment where, if you had not taken a particular fork in the road, you would not be arriving at a given destination, then my path to the marathon started about two and a half years ago when I first decided to take up running.

But, if you want to consider the starting point as where you decided to do something specific, then my marathon quest began last October when I registered for the Modesto Marathon. I had joined the training group in 2012, (for the 2013 SAMM), although never with the intention of running the marathon, or even the half. I just wanted to get faster and stronger for the 5k. But somewhere between March and October of 2013, I got this crazy idea that I could run a marathon. I started out by running some 10k distances, then trained for and ran a half at the Peace Officers Memorial. Encouraged by my performance there, I made the decision to run the full marathon at the 2014 SAMM. Just to keep myself from backing out, I registered very early on.

Then, shortly after registering, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture to my right tibia for the second time in a year. First I cried, then I got angry, then I finally started to think about my options. I could still walk, and it was early in the training program. At the distances we were doing, I could continue to train at a walk. If I was careful and didn’t injure myself further, by sometime in January when the distances starting getting longer, I should be able to start running a little. I realized that as long as I could complete 26.2 miles in less than seven hours, I could still complete this marathon.

And so, I walked…and walked…and walked. And sometimes I cheated and jogged a little, but then I would get scared that I would set myself back by re-injuring my healing tibia, and I would walk again. And finally, January came. It had been two and a half months. I had developed a power walking gate that allowed me to cover distance quickly without the impact I got from actually running, and it allowed me to get my heart rate up higher than I could get it walking with a normal gate. But I had to be careful because it was so easy for that power walk to turn into a jog…and I so wanted to run.

By February I was running all my training miles again, and every time I finished I waited nervously to see if there was any lingering pain in my shin. The long runs scared me the most. What if I hurt myself again? The marathon was so close… My right shin seemed to be fine, but I nearly panicked when my left shin started to hurt. I quickly searched for some helpful stretches and the stretching did help to eliviate the pain a little. It took me a couple weeks to realize that what I was feeling there was shin splints, not a stress fracture. Ice packs on a regular basis, along with some massage, and the shin splints have become negligible. To cure the shin splints properly, the active release technique can be used.

Then, finally, it was time for our longest training run of the season, the longest training run ever for me; 22 miles. There were moments that I didn’t think I would ever finish. In the back of my mind was recurring thought; and the marathon is 4 more miles than this! I began to doubt that I could do it. My time was disappointingly slow…I had been averaging the same pace when I was power walking.

As I drove home I had to remind myself that this marathon was not about going fast, it was about persevering. It was about doing something hard, but doing it none-the-less. It was not about finishing first or finishing fast, it was about finishing something I set out to do, and not because it was easy but because it wasn’t. It was about crossing the finish line, even if I had crawl across it. It was about accepting no excuses. So, when I got home, I went straight out to the pool, sat on the edged wrapped in a towel to keep the cool air from penetrating my wet shirt, and stuck my legs in the cold water up to my knees. Why it had never occurred to me before now that I had a giant ice bath in my own back yard, I don’t know, but once the shock of the cold water subsided, I could almost feel the inflammation leaving my lower legs. It felt wonderful. The sun had come out after the drizzly, cloudy morning had passed and it was warm on my face. A calm peacefulness washed over me. Yes, it had been hard for me, and yes I ran much slower than I had hoped to, but I did it. And I would do it again, plus that extra 4.2 miles, in three weeks. No excuses.

The next day I expected to wake up with the usual stiffness I experience after a long run, but I felt fine. Well, the second day after a long run is always the worst for me, so I figured by the next morning everything would be hurting and stiff, but Monday morning came and I still felt fine. I had run the longest, hardest training run ever, and I felt fine! Nothing hurt! Not my muscles, not my shins, nothing. And then I thought, well of course nothing hurts. That was the point of training, wasn’t it? Not just to be able to do the distance, but to condition your body so that you can do it and not hurt. Imagine that…it worked.

So, now it’s taper time. Saturday was an easy 12 miles. Someone once posted on Facebook about how funny it was that we go from “OMG, I have to run 12 miles today!!!” to “Gee, I only have to run 12 miles today…” Eight months ago I had never run further than 6 miles in one run and that seemed hard. Now 12 miles seems like no big deal. I actually plan social activities in the afternoon or evening after a 12 mile run now, whereas six months ago my plan for the rest of the day after a 12 mile run was to sleep.

Taper time…a couple of months ago I was looking forward to this time where the demanding training schedule eased off a little, where the distances began to get shorter instead of continually getting longer. Now that it’s here I feel a little lost. Maybe I’ll have some time to prune all the dead growth from my garden or hire Milwaukee Spring and Fall Cleanup Services (or similar ones) for spring cleaning the house. But, for sure, I need to find something to do besides obsess over the marathon. Whereas before I thought the training might kill me, now it’s the waiting; the mind games I play with myself; the self-doubt trying to creep in. Perhaps I shall look to a new method of exercise, maybe weight lifting. A friend has mentioned that steelsupplements.com is a great source to start.

Through all the ups and downs during the months of training, there have been a couple of things that have kept me going, kept me focused on my goal. One was the idea of running my first marathon with my ShadowChase friends, some of who will also be running their first marathon. One of the people I was looking forward to celebrating with at the finish line left us on January 2nd of this year. Sweet, sweet Wendell…I miss you man, and this marathon is for you. The times I wanted to quit or drop back to the half, I thought to myself, no…I’m going to run this for Wendell because we were going to run it together.

The other thing that has kept me going when I wanted to just say forget it was the mental image I have of finishing. I see myself coming toward the finish line, sometimes I’m flying, sometimes I can barely put one foot in front of the other, but always there is the feeling of triumph and accomplishment that comes from doing something hard, something you weren’t sure you could do. As I cross the finish line, I see myself accepting my finishers medal, bowing my head so that the volunteer can place it around my neck. And then finally, best of all, my husband Tom waiting for me, wrapping me in his arms, hugging me tight, holding me up. My biggest fan. My strongest supporter. I love you. I want that moment in my memory forever.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling that this goal to run a marathon is such an overwhelming thing, I think about the folks who make it look so easy, the ones who run multiple marathons a year, or the ultra runners who use a marathon as a training run for a much longer distance, and I feel like I must be making this into a bigger deal than it really is. But then I look at me. Just me. I think about where I was a few years ago, and where I am now. For me, this IS a big deal. I remind myself that everyone had to start somewhere. Even the ultra runners started life unable to walk. I’ll never be an elite runner. I’ll never be the fastest or run the farthest or hold any records. But, I’ll have challenged myself to do something beyond what I thought I might be capable of doing.

In twelve days…

Julie Stanley



Nearly 60 volunteers came out this morning to spruce up part of the Modesto Marathon course. Trash was picked up and graffiti was painted over along the 2 mile stretch down 9th street.

Thank you to our volunteers. Your efforts will make a huge difference for thousands of race participants.