2016 Frederick Half Marathon: Race Goals

My first big race was the 2014 Frederick Half Marathon, and I had no idea what I was in for. Looking back, I was a complete newbie and had no clue what I was doing as far as training goes. After taking a year off, I’m back for this year’s race. After some lessons learned from the first go around, I’ve got a few goals for May 8th.

Fuel: One of my biggest lessons learned was that I did not train properly for my first half marathon, especially when it came to nutrition and fuel. I “trained” eating foods with processed sugar (which made me feel terrible), and didn’t fuel properly during my long runs. During the half marathon, I didn’t eat a good breakfast beforehand and didn’t eat or drink anything during the race except for water at the stations. This resulted in some pretty awful leg cramps around mile nine or so. The cramps scared me because I had never experienced anything like it. For the remainder of the race, I had to do a lot of walking just to make it to the finish line. I was disappointed with my time (over three hours) and was flat out exhausted by the time I finished. It also took me a long time to recover after the race (close to a month), which I want to avoid this time around.

I’ve cut out all of the processed sugar from my diet and have been training with energy supplements during my long training runs. Gatorade has worked wonders. I’m also a huge fan of Gu energy gels. Before trying the gels, I tried sport beans but wasn’t a fan of the awful aftertaste. Yuck. I was hesitant with the gels but was pleasantly surprised. The Gu chocolate outrage flavor is to die for! Tastes like a chocolate brownie, yum! I attach one to the inside of my pants with a safety pin during my long runs and take it after I hit the hour/hour and half mark. I did my research and learned that I have to chase the gels with water to prevent them from sitting like a rock in my stomach. I do a lot of my training in a large park with access to multiple water fountains so that I don’t have to carry any bottles with me. I have a feeling this may change once I start hitting high mileage for marathon training, but so far this approach has worked for me. The half marathon aid stations will have Gatorade and Gu gels (yay!), but I plan on carrying a gel with me as a backup. I’m going to do anything possible to keep those terrible leg cramps away.

Speed: I’m a pretty slow runner, but I’ve learned that it’s okay right now. The reason I’m happy with my progress so far is that I’ve really worked on my endurance. I utilize the run/walk method, but I’ve gotten so much better with it this year. In 2014, the duration of running and walking was about equal. I would run three minutes and walk two minutes. Now, I can run eight to ten minutes while only walking one minute. Huge improvement in my book. While I hope to some day run the entire distance, I’m okay with my approach right now. I plan on utilizing the same strategy on race day. After that, I plan on really revving things up when marathon training goes into full swing.

Finish time: While my ultimate goal is to finish the race, I would love to finish under three hours. Because of the walking I had to do the last time around, I came awfully close to the cut-off time for the race (3:30). If I can finish the race in under three hours, I’ll be a happy runner!

Have fun: I want to enjoy myself this time around. The first time was hard. I breezed through the first six miles, but after that it was painful. My right foot starting hurting and once I got to mile nine or so, my legs cramped up so bad that I had to walk the remainder of the race. I was miserable and swore I wouldn’t race that distance again. Ha. Well, this time around, I know I’ve taken a much better approach to training and have completed the long runs with proper fueling. I’ve also been more careful about listening to my body and taking breaks when needed. I want to push myself but not injure myself. With my first marathon in the works now, I have to be careful. With that said, I also want to just enjoy the experience and not get too anxious thinking about what happened the last time around. I plan on using lots of positive self-talk: “Megan, you’ve got this!”


Spartan Fit! + Race Entry Giveaway

“Yet, no matter the challenge, I never question whether I’ll finish a race. The rush of the starting gun drops me into an empty space where I hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing and the drumbeat of my heart. My body moves forward, but everything else stands still. I’m not thinking about hopes or regrets, what I’m having for dinner, or what my kids are doing. All I’m thinking about, if it’s thinking at all, is the repetitive thwap of my feet striking the pavement. I will finish, no matter how far I must go to reach the finish line. It’s simply what must happen.” – Joe DeSena


I just finished reading an excerpt of Joe DeSena’s new book Spartan Fit! DeSena, the founder and owner of Spartan Race, has created a 31-day workout guide and diet plan to help anyone either prepare for a Spartan Sprint race or simply get in shape – without the need for the gym. I can honestly say that I was moved.

Having spent most of my life not trying things that scare or challenge me, I can relate to how he explains that I’m the only obstacle getting in my way; but, at the same time, I’m my greatest opportunity. This really resonates with me because I’ve let fear rule my life much too long. I’m ready to tackle things that scare me. I’m ready to challenge my body to do things that I never thought possible. I’m ready to be center stage and go after my dreams instead of just sitting on the sidelines. I’m ready to experience victory.

I’m not sure what I’m physically capable of, but I want to find out. The only thing that has been getting in my way is what I believe about myself. For so long, I’ve believed that I can’t do this, or I’m not strong enough to do that. I need to change my way of thinking. I need to say, “Hey, I’ve never tried this and it may be tough, but if I work hard and commit to myself, I can do it.” I can do anything I set my mind to.

Spartan Fit! is available for preorder now (ships August 2, 2016). I look forward to reading the entire book and completing a Spartan Sprint in the future – it’s on my fitness bucket list!

If you’re ready to take on the challenge, you’re in luck! I’m giving away a free entry to any Spartan Race in the continental U.S.! All you need to do is check out the first chapter of Spartan Fit! and let me know why you want to be a Spartan in the comments below. I’ll randomly choose a winner Wednesday, April 27th (entries must be submitted by Tuesday, April 26th 11:59 pm EST).

4/27/16 Update 2: The free entry has been claimed. Congrats again to Greg! For those of you who didn’t win, you can use the code SPARTANBLOGGER to receive 10% off of any Spartan race! 

4/27/16 Update 1: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Greg! I tried to contact you via the email address you provided but the email was returned as undeliverable. Please contact me at megankellyisard@gmail.com with a working email address. If I don’t hear from you by 4/28/16, I will choose a new winner. Thanks!


I’m partnering with Spartan Race to spread the word about Spartan Fit! All thoughts and opinions are my own.



I’m Running the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon!

Marine Corps Marathon lottery winner


It’s official…I’m in!

Yesterday, I found out that I’m going to be running the Marine Corps Marathon in October! I entered the lottery last week, not knowing what my chances would be of getting a slot. My jaw dropped when I checked my email and saw that my credit card had been charged. Soon after, I received the official acceptance email. It was a feeling I don’t think I can fully explain. Shock, excitement, fear, nervousness…so many emotions! I was on a high all day long.

Completing a marathon has always been on my bucket list. Now, I finally get to make a dream become a reality. Time to start training! If you have any tips, tricks, or advice, send it my way!


MCM Lottery

Two years ago, I finished the Frederick Running Festival half marathon. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I swore I would never do it again. This year, I’m planning on running the race again. Then, last week, I did something absolutely crazy and mind-boggling in my world. I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery.

I’m a meticulous thinker. I need to analyze everything little thing about something before I even contemplate going through with it. The scary (and completely freeing) thing is that this time, I just decided to do it on a whim. I didn’t weigh the pros and cons. I just did it. This is a first for me.

I must admit that I woke up the following morning thinking, “What did I do?!” My stomach was in knots just thinking about the possibility that I will receive an email Thursday saying that I received a slot. Can I even complete 26.2 miles? I’ve never put my body through that type of physical challenge. Am I capable? Before I had a full on panic attack, I decided to let these feelings go and just cross that bridge when I get to it.  There’s a chance I’ll receive a slot, and there’s an even greater chance that I won’t. I guess that’s not the point. The point is that I took the leap and did it. I took a risk, and I’m damn proud of myself.

MCM Lottery 2016