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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



A 17 Mile Reality Check.

Whenever people ask me what I am doing on Sundays, my answer is usually the same.  “Well I’m doing a long run, and I don’t really know what will happen to me after that, so for now that’s the only thing I have planned.”  Sounds insane, right?  Trust me, it is.

While others spent yesterday cheering on their favorite football teams and enjoying one of the (hopefully) last few weekends of summer weather, I spent my Sunday doing this…

17 mile snip

Seventeen miles.  Looking at it on a map makes me really wonder how our bodies can carry us that far.  It also makes me wonder if they are supposed to… 

I am the incredibly lucky wife of a very talented distance runner, who offers to run crazy amounts of miles with me just for fun.  Casey isn’t training for any particular races or goals right now, but even so – seventeen miles?  Sign me up!

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He came up with a really fun route for our run, and I was pretty excited going into it.  All of my long runs have been very slow and painful, and I’ve attributed that to a number of things – too hot outside, improper fueling, too much walking the day before – you name it.  Sunday’s run was supposed to be my redemption run – the run that would prove that I still have my old running fitness, and that I can push myself beyond the levels of comfort.

We rode the Metro up to the L’Enfant Plaza station, essentially planning to Metro into the city and then run the whole way back.  I have found that the best long run strategy for me is to force myself to do the entire distance, and to not even present an opportunity to cut the mileage.  Essentially, if you put yourself 17 miles away from home, you have no choice but to cover the miles to get back to the comfort of showers and a giant lunch. 

After last week’s disastrous long run with no fuel, I was determined to do things right for this week’s important run.  We brought some cash to fuel mid-way, and we stopped in a CVS to pick up Gatorade (which they didn’t have, so we subbed with Vitamin Water) and some gummy worms.  The first half of the run was awesome – great weather, and scenery that people travel from all over the world to see.  We ran up past the Capitol to Lincoln Park, over to the White House and around the front gates, down to the Lincoln Memorial, and along the water over to Jefferson.  The mileage alarm on my Garmin kept ringing away as the miles ticked by. 

With our run almost halfway finished, we crossed the bridge back to Virginia and headed down the Mt. Vernon trail towards home.

And that was the point where I fell apart.

Right around the point where my watch chimed for 10 miles, I lost all will to run and push myself.  My legs were SO tired, and I had nothing left to give.  More than that, I was overwhelmed by how mad I was with how slow I was running. 

I will be perfectly honest with you guys – I have not trained for this marathon the way I should have.  I can blame the summer heat, the stress of moving, and a million other things.  But what it really comes down to is accepting responsibility for what I’ve done, or more importantly, what I haven’t done.  I have skipped a lot of mid-week runs.  I’ve allowed myself to walk more often than I should.  And I have taken for granted the fact that I’ve done this many times before.

I’m seeing it as a sort of Curse of the Multiple Marathoner.  In two years I have run 5 marathons, and in six weeks I will run my 6th.  I am not scared of them anymore, and there are no surprises left for me.  I’ve run in sweltering heat, freezing cold, and pouring rain.  I have run painfully slow, and I have set new records by running really fast.  But none of those things should have led me to believe that I could half-ass my training and still end up smiling at the finish line.  Running multiple marathons has prepared me mentally and emotionally, but proper training is essential for performing physically.

There is no reason in the world that I should have believed that I could run a good, strong 17 miles yesterday morning.  And I didn’t deserve to, because I haven’t put in the work to get myself there.  So instead, I ran a good, enjoyable ten (which makes sense) and a miserable half-walking seven while choking back tears.  Casey was supportive as always, but we spent most of the second half of our run heading home in silence, because we both knew the truth, and there was no need to voice it.

Let’s clear one more thing up before I continue.  I will not be setting a PR in six weeks, and I will not be qualifying for Boston.  I probably could have, but I made too many excuses about weather and circumstances.  But I am not quitting, because that’s just not my style.  Instead I am readjusting my goals to reflect what I am realistically prepared to run.  At this point, I’d just like to finish around 4:30.

After a grueling 17 miles, and right around 3 hours of running, we made it to our block and I could see my front door.  That was also the point where I started to feel incredibly sick and light headed.  I slowly made my way up the steps, and immediately laid down and put my legs up.

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Running marathons might be slightly crazy, but it CAN be done safely and it can even be enjoyable.  I have run two marathons where I have crossed the finish line beaming with pride – literally on top of the world.  And I have run three that have left me miserably sick and with my body revolting for days.  It turns out that the body is a wonderful communicator, if only I would listen.

After my run, I felt terrible but thought that perhaps a shower would help.  I ended up sitting in the bottom of the shower with hot water pelting my back, unable to stand up because I felt so physically ill.  Eventually I crawled out, and promptly threw up all of the gummy worms and Vitamin Water I had inhaled during my run.

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If that’s not a cue that I need to listen to my body, I don’t know what is.  The point of this post is not to be negative or dramatic, it is to be realistic, and sometimes facing reality isn’t always sunshine and butterflies.  I will still be lining up at the starting line of the Marine Corps Marathon in six weeks, but I will be doing it with a different set of goals, and a re-learned appreciation for just how intense this whole marathoning game can be.

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Whenever I am feeling disheartened or hopeless, I always challenge myself to find a silver lining.  What was intended to be my “redemption run” turned into a “reality check run” instead.  I learned that perhaps I don’t know everything about running 26.2 after all, and it’s exciting to know that even with multiple marathons under my belt, there are always new opportunities for a runner to learn and grow.

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When I’m not busy torturing myself with long runs, I’m also a pretty good cook!  Voting for the Next Food Blog Star opens today, and if you feel so inclined, I’d love your VOTE.  If not, no hard feelings.  I will still continue to cook with a smile.  :)

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157 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Erinn     at 11:04 pm

I hope that you will have an enjoyable experience! It must have been tough to admit this to yourself. We think you’re awesome anyway! I’m running 10 miles for the first time this weekend and am a wee bit nervous…

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

You can DO it! Don’t let the nerves get to you like I did – just believe you can do it and you will.

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Z     at 11:11 pm

Voted for you!! Good luck!! Love you blog :)

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Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Yay – thank you!

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ilana     at 11:17 pm

Emily, I hope you are feeling better. You have great perseverance, and I really hope the next run is better. Be kind and gentle to yourself. You are a champion! (And anytime you feel like an easy run day with a much slower runninng partner, let me know.;)

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Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

For sure!

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ilana Reply:

PS: You have my vote, too. :)

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Katie @ Life... Discombobulated     at 11:58 pm

I love the fact that you are so honest and open about all of this! Plus, allowing yourself to recognize and accept responsibility for not training as much or as hard as you felt you should have might turn things around for the last 6 weeks! Good luck – you can totally kick training in the butt for the next 6 weeks and still have a darn good run on marathon day!!!

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Jess @ NZ Girl Runs     at 1:40 am

Thank you for posting this. I have been running for 4 weeks (I’m a newbie!) and yesterday was awful. I was tired and dragging and I couldn’t push myself to finish and had to walk back to my car. I declared that running was too hard and I quit. Not anymore! Bad days happen to everyone! There are a few more things I need to try before I declare myself a running failure and quit. Thank you for posting this very honest blog. Its kinda nice to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with running. <—-meant in a good, nice way!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Just like you said, bad days happen to EVERYONE. Keep your head up as you start your running journey. You are most definitely NOT alone!

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Laura@keepingslimandgettingstylish     at 5:59 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now but this is the first time I have commented. Thank you for being so honest, this was a wonderful post, you’ve shared your feelings with us and that shows immense strength of character. I’m so sorry to hear of what a tough time you’ve had but the fact that you’ve been honest with yourself and still came out with positivity and the aim of still completing your marathon is great :-)

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Thanks for the comment, and for breaking your silence. :)

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Marika     at 6:46 am

Like many other readers, I thank you for your honesty and “keeping it real”. You are awesome and hopefully the next run will be much better!

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Wanda     at 7:53 am

Great blog! You only get one body, take care of it!!!!

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alexe @ soyaetchocolat.com     at 8:22 am

I’m so sorry for your run! I experienced the same thing in one of my 17 km runs last summer (I was training for a half marathon). I had to stop to walk so often that I eventually just stop all together to cry my heart out. I was angry at myself for not pushing enough. I eventually jog 5 km back to my house. I couldn’t picture finishing the 17 km. I was able to run the distance the next week though so my confidence was back up for the race! As you say, I think we really have to listen to our bodies. Yes, it’s feasible, but it doesn’t mean that we have to suffer to do it. To me, running should be about having fun while doing something active. It’s good to push myself but, sometimes, I need to step back and just be proud of what I have already achieved.

On that note, I’m off to vote for you! :)

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Thank you! All these comments are making me want to go try again RIGHT NOW!

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TheHealthyApron     at 9:29 am

Since i’m not a runner, it is hard for me to relate to this post. I would be exstatic if I ran 10 solid miles. That is an amazing accomplishment! I have never understood the runner’s mentality. I tampered with it in my early 20s but I never ran more than 8 miles at a time. I never considered marathon training because I had too many friends telling me horror stories of bloody stools, bruised toes, no life,and complete exhaustion.
Your question: were our bodies even made to do this? Is valid. How much are we supposed to push ourselves?? Should we really get upset with not completing 17 miles? HECK NO! Like I said, to any non-runner, 10 miles is amazing. ANd you still finished 17 miles total! That in itself is HUGE! Your body seems to be talking t oya though and I hope after this post you will seriously listen and not be so hard on yourself! :) Keep your chin up!!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

I realize it sounds insane. Running is all really individual and relative. Since I started as a total newbie, I feel like I can still totally relate to the people who are training for a 5k – I can remember when that was me. For the most part, I have really enjoyed running marathons, but as with any sport or distance, there are highs and lows.

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afarmerinthedell.wordpress.com     at 9:38 am

Emily,

You are a breath of fresh air. Thank you for this post. As a long distance runner myself I can totally relate to this post. Thanks for your honesty.
You will definitely have my vote!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Thank you!!

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Gwen     at 9:45 am

Such a great, thoughtful post, Emily.

Yesterday I NO JOKE set up a 52 week training plan to get myself back into running shape so I can do MCM in 2011 again. I know that I won’t hit everyone of those runs either, but I know that if I want to run another marathon and improve on my 6:10 time, then I have to work at it.

The MCM is one of my favorite events ever – and I will be out there cheering even though not many people I know are running this year. I’ll cheer for you! And know that you will accomplish your goals because you’re realistic about them.

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Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

That is awesome – good for you!! I will look for you when I’m running – make sure to yell if you see me. I will need it. :)

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Erin D.     at 10:46 am

Hi Emily! I just wanted to thank you for this post! Long run days are always “soft” plan days–I can’t ever make a commitment because I don’t know how I’ll feel afterward. I most definitely have very good days and very, very bad days where running is concerned. Sometimes I’ll have an awesome 10 or 12-miler (I’m only up to half marathons as of yet) and be ready for more and some days I’ll be doing exactly what you did–sitting down in the shower, hoping I can make it to the toilet quick enough to throw-up, and waiting for waves of nausea and cramps to knock it off. Anyway, it’s just nice to know I’m not alone since I’ve seriously always thought I was just weird.

I thought of your post this morning, again, because I had a terrible hot yoga practice. Dizzy, nauseous, had to lay in savasana for almost the entire 90 minutes. Disappointing (and more than a bit embarrassing) but hey, you get over it!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Nice to know I’m not the only one who sits in the shower sometimes. :)

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Lee     at 11:58 am

I think that as long distance runners, we often expect the runs to be easy and fun and don’t realize that running, in your case, 17 miles puts an extreme amount of stress on the body. I’m hoping that you have your redemption run soon! But if not, just remember that sometimes life does sort of get in the way. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you didn’t train as well as you felt that you could for this race, there’s always the next one, right?

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Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

For sure. Giving myself a nice long break after October, and setting my sights on Flying Pig 2011.

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Sarah (Going on Goals)     at 12:39 pm

Thank you for such an honest post. One day I would like to run a marathon, posts like this help me realize what a commitment marathon running can mean!

I am no where near Marathon running, my longest race is 10 miles in October. I recently increased milage too quickly and have been feeling it for weeks. Thankfully, I live with a PT student who I beg to stretch me out daily. Yoga has also been helping!

ps: I voted for you!

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Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Thanks for the vote! Anyone can run a marathon, but it DOES take the proper training. And a ten mile race is still a LOT of miles!

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Grace @ Front Porch Yoga     at 12:47 pm

I’m super proud of you for writing down all these important lessons…now you can refer back to this post whenever you need a reality check (and hopefully won’t have to go through the physical pain/sickness again anytime soon). And, you are so right that listening to our bodies is important- it’s one of the big reasons that I love yoga so much (because I’m more tuned into what my body needs). You are truly an inspiration!

[Reply]

Lauren     at 3:47 pm

You hit the nail right on the head when you said, ‘should we run 17 miles’…due to the response from your body I would say no. I know you think you are not pushing yourself, but you are. You should not do the marathon at all. You should take a BREAK. We do not have to get to a place of love and accomplishment through torturing ourselves. What would happen if you didn’t do the marathon? Nothing. You would probably feel guilty, but you know what, you are stronger than those feelings. It upsets me deeply watching you put yourself through this- and I don’t even know you. Please, please, please, you said it yourself- listen to your body. You think you’re listening, but from an outsider looking in, I’m afraid you’re not. Be good to yourself.

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Hi Lauren! Thanks for your comment. :) You are right that nothing would happen if I didn’t run the marathon, but I definitely feel like I am fine to run it – just need to run a lot slower. I don’t know if you are a runner or not, but I assure you that stomach problems (including vomiting) ARE actually normal after super long runs. Not to say that we should experience that too often, as clearly it’s not ideal, but it doesn’t happen very much. The sense of accomplishment and confidence I get through running is definitely worth a few painful runs. I really appreciate your concern – I promise to listen a little better on the next run.

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Michelle @ Chasing Ambulances     at 9:27 pm

I think I know exactly what you’re saying about how you’re not afraid of the marathon distance anymore. That’s how I feel about the half (my fifth is 2 weeks away). And it’s also probably the reason I’ve slacked majorly with training this go around! I have definitely reflected on the fact that I need to take the half distance seriously – it’s awesome that you can take training for a marathon leisurely, but you and me both just have to be careful to not take it so lightly that it kicks us in the ass ;)

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tina     at 9:26 am

hey emily! i’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks and LOVE it!!! first time commenting ;)

i LOVE all of your mason jars- did you order those online? i’ve been having such a hard time finding them near me, been striking out everywhere (home depot, cost plus, whole foods only sells the mini size, etc). where do you get yours in so many sizes???

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

I actually got mine at a local hardware store in Charlotte! But they are very reasonably priced on Amazon. Since a few other people asked, check the original post again – I added links to the jars! :)

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Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker     at 10:52 am

I say the same exact thing every Sunday. I’m like: Well, I have to run for like 3 hours in the morning. I’ll see how I feel for things later in the day. People think I’m a nut. And w00t for crazy distance running husbands! You’re so lucky yours will run with you!!!

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Amanda     at 12:02 pm

(((hugs))) I am running MCM as my first marathon. I am slow and hoping to finish around 5 hours. If you are interested – you can run with me (the whole way, a portion, 2 miles whatever!) and help me get through my first ;)

[Reply]

Kerr     at 1:49 pm

As someone who was really excited to complete 3 miles earlier this week, you AMAZE me! Just remember that even if you dont do well, you are still leaps and bounds ahead of most of the population.
Off to vote for you now!

[Reply]

Gina     at 5:01 pm

My marathoning experiences have been somewhat similar to yours. Two years ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon as my 6th marathon. It was the last marathon I have run. My training for that marathon was not even close to what it should have been, and I finished in 5 hrs and 15 minutes…nearly 1 hour slower than my normal marathon finish time. I thought I could just run a marathon on little training because I knew what to expect from a marathon. Wrong. I cried during that marathon, and I even sat on a curb for 10 minutes crying my eyes out and contemplating just giving up. (It was right before running over the neverending bridge around mile 20ish when I had my breakdown.) Thankfully, a marine walked up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and asked if I was okay. I told him I hadn’t trained enough and that I didn’t want to go on. He said, “Ma’am, today you are a Marine. A Marine never quits.” I got my sorry butt off that curb, hugged him with tears still streaming down my face, and started walking. I was getting to that finish line even if it meant walking the last few miles.

I learned a lot about myself that day. I hope to run another marathon someday, but for now, I am completely enjoying the half marathon experience! It is much less of a time committment in terms of training, so it fits better in my life.

Good luck at the marathon!

[Reply]

Amanda Reply:

This brought tears to my eyes! What motivation. Thanks for the headsup on the neverending bridge at mile 20ish, ha :)

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Wow, this made me cry. Thanks so much for sharing! Your experience actually sounds very similar to my Chicago Marathon experience. I sat on the curb for a while too, and just hung my head and cried. Very cool about the Marine, and I guarantee you I will remember this when I am running.

(Also good to know about that bridge – aaahhh!)

[Reply]

Monica     at 5:48 pm

So sorry you had a hard Sunday run! You have had a lot going on and maybe your body is just feeling really tired from such a busy summer.

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Sarah @ w30     at 2:36 pm

I don’t know if you check comments this far back, but I stumbled upon your blog about a month ago and have been making me way through the archives. Anyway, I am a newbie runner and had to face my own reality check a few weeks ago. Like you, I had to face reality – without giving up (that was even the name of my post). It’s nice to know that the need to sometimes adjust expectations isn’t limited to a beginner like myself. I’ve really been enjoying your blog, and can’t wait to catch up on all the posts. Also – congrats on your baby! :)

[Reply]

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