I’m Running a Marathon!

Well it’s official – I’m going to be running in the 2022 Twin Cities Marathon this October! On my trip to Greece last week (I’ll share more about it later!), I decided to register for the race.

It’s funny because just a few months ago I swore off marathon training. I originally was going to stick to 10 mile races this year, but after completing my 2nd one last month at the Women Run the Cities 10 Mile, I found myself wanting a little more of a challenge and mix up training a little.

A Little Background and My Running History

This upcoming race is going to be my 5th marathon, but in all honesty I view it as my second real race. Here’s a quick overview of my history with running and marathon experiences.

Marathon #1 – Disney Marathon 2013 (Goofy Challenge)

When I first started running marathon races I was obsessed with races, and more specifically, runDisney races – you know, those races that have crazy medals and get you running around Disney World and Disneyland. I became obsessed with those races and signed up for the Goofy Challenge – a half marathon one day, followed by marathon the next day – just to get the medal.

What I didn’t realize when I signed up was just how much work went into marathon training. About half way through – and when fall turned into winter – I kind of stopped focusing on training (DO NOT RECOMMEND!). I got up to about 14 miles in my training before race day came around.

However, to my surprise – I actually did pretty decent (I have to thank my youth for this one – I was in my early 20s when I did this). I finished both races, but was able to keep up with my running friends during race day. I finished in 4:40 and some change and before leaving the finisher area I was already feeling the post marathon blues, so decided to register for something else to look forward to – Grandma’s Marathon.

disney marathon finish line

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Marathon #2 – Grandma’s Marathon 2013

Grandma’s Marathon training went basically the same as Disney – started out kind of strong, then faded. On top of that I ended up having my wisdom teeth removed 5 days before race day.

Race day came, I had bare minimum training and was recovering from the procedure a few days prior. So imagine my surprise when on race day I manage to finish in 4:20. I was exhausted and my legs felt like they could’ve fallen off, but I did it – and a 20 minute PR!

This is when my head started drifting to thoughts of qualifying for Boston and if this trend continued, I should get there in a few races (my required time back then would’ve been 3:35). Again – I was young and naive and didn’t really respect the distance. So with that, I signed up again for the Goofy Challenge that winter.

Marathon #3 – Disney Marathon 2014 (Goofy Challenge)

In between Grandma’s Marathon and this Goofy Challenge a lot happened to me personally. I met my now husband, and that ended up leading to a lot more date nights, going out and partying.

I also discovered Orangetheory Fitness and replaced almost all my long runs with these strength and running workouts. This was also about the time where smart watches were becoming super popular – as well as sharing all stats and details on social media – so I felt like I had a crazy amount of pressure to always PR and run fast.

I will admit I was completely naive, but in my head in the past – this seemed to work? I’d give it my all during my Orangetheory workouts and had always heard strength training would help running, so thought I was doing the right thing.

Spoiler: I wasn’t.

The partying and lack of training caught up to me. When race day rolled around, the half marathon was brutal. I felt laggy, slow and just wasn’t having fun. The next morning of the marathon wasn’t any different.

I knew going in it wouldn’t be a PR, but I had no idea that on mile 10 that right as I passed over the time mat I’d hear a crack. My knee popped and every step I ran was incredibly painful.

I was able to walk without a lot of pain so I decided in that moment I’d walk the rest of the race. All 16.2 miles remaining.

If you ever want to learn how to respect a distance, try walking it. It was incredibly humbling and at the end of the race – almost 7 hours after it began – I decided to stop running races for a while.

Marathon #4 – TC Marathon 2017

My racing days weren’t completely over since the ill fated Goofy Challenge. I did a few 5K – half marathons, but noticed that my speed just wasn’t there anymore. I concluded it was because I was getting old, but looking back now I would put it more towards lack of training and poor nutrition. While I loved Orangetheory, I’ve realized its no replacement for long runs.

So a few more life events happened, including my husband and I getting married and starting to settle down a little more. It had been 3 years since my Goofy Challenge and I started to get the racing itch again.

I decided to sign up for the marathon, but this time I would take training seriously. I signed up for training program that was put on by Lifetime Fitness. They had us meet 3 times a week and together we’d all do training runs together.

This was one of the best experiences of my life.

I had so much fun meeting other runners and working towards a goal with them. It felt so amazing on our long runs to run together, say hi to the other running groups, and be a part of the community.

The Lifetime group was split into smaller groups based on your race goals. I put myself in the 4-5 hour group since that was my last (real) finish time with the marathon. This ended up being perfect for me and I felt like I could keep up with the group runs.

The only downside to the program was that it wasn’t very customized to the individual, and speed workouts were only every few weeks. But thanks to the group, I felt the most prepared I’d ever been for a race.

Then race day came with torrential rains and a freeze. Ugh.

I ended up finishing that race in 4:40, not my goal of being closer to 4 hours and I’ll be honest – it hurt. I had put in all this work all summer and I felt like it had just blown up in my face.

I decided to take advantage of this training and signed up to do the Disney Marathon a few months later, as a redemption race.

However, a few weeks after TC Marathon I found out I was pregnant and decided to DNS (did not start) the Disney race as images of my 7 hour marathon walk from 2014 went through my head.

Signing Up For Marathon #5

This year I originally was going to focus on 10 Miles, but I’ve been finding myself wanting something a little more. I think it’s also the unfinished business I have with the marathon. Ultimately, I do want to run a BQ and run the Boston Marathon. This is a race I grew up with and it would mean so much to me to achieve that.

So, I decided (while I was on a trip to Greece) that I’m going to run the Twin Cities Marathon this fall. However, my goal is NOT to BQ.

Marathon Goals

I’m being realistic with this training and my goals. I’ve matured a lot and have realized that the BQ is a huge goal, and one that is going to take years for me to achieve. So while my ultimate goal is to get there, I know it will take me a few training cycles to do it.

For this upcoming marathon my goal is similar to the Hot Dash 10 Mile from a few months ago – finish strong. I’m not putting a time goal on it because I want to focus on everything I need to get myself to both physically and mentally finish strong, as well as use this race to set my baseline. I’ll admit I’m still haunted by the ghosts of marathons past and my thoughts still go back to that 7 hour walk.

So mental work – in addition to the physical work – are going to be huge factors in prepping for race day.

My Marathon Training Plan

I’ve been working on my marathon training plan for a few weeks now and have finally figured it out! Here’s how I’ll be approaching preparing for the race

Running Plan

For my training plan, I’ll be working with Coach Meghan from Run4PRs Run Coaching to come up with a custom training plan. I really like working with a coach because:

Custom Schedule – I like to have my long runs during the week while my kids are in school, so want to make sure I’m training properly and have everything scheduled at the right times. I also want a coach that can help me incorporate my Peloton and Tempo workouts properly.

Accountability – Having to sync up my workouts makes me accountable, especially knowing they’ll be reviewed. I also feel like since I’m paying for a coach I need to get the workouts in.

Done For Me – marathon training is already time consuming, so I really want something that’s done for me. I have enough on my plate already and I’ve learned over the years (especially since having kids) that there just isn’t enough time in the day.

Mental Plan

To mentally prepare, I’ve been reading mental training books like The Brave Athlete and trying to listen to podcasts on the topic. This is an area I’ll still need to work on and will continue to look for resources to help with this. If you know of any that have helped you, I’d love to know in the comments!

Nutriton Plan

My nutrition plan will continue to be with my Stronger U nutrition coach. My coach Josette has been helping me with with my race nutrition in the past few months as I’ve been getting back to it, so I’m excited to continue to work with her.

Related Post: My Stronger U Experience

Training Recaps

Want to see how my training is going? Here are my monthly recaps!

Month 1 Recap

Final Thoughts

I’m excited to start training for this marathon and see how everything comes together. I feel like I have the plan together, and between my coaches, Tempo and Peloton I’ll be able to get to race day both physically and mentally strong.

I’ll continue to update the blog on my marathon training, but if you want to see more real time updates be sure to keep up with me on my Instagram!


  • Ali Van Straten

    Ali Van Straten is the founder and journalist of Champagne and Coffee Stains. She is a Peloton expert, certified running coach and certified nutrition coach. Champagne and Coffee Stains provides information and resources on Peloton Interactive, running and recipes.

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