• Shooting for 2016!

    This Blog will follow me as I try to become a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. The 2016 Trials "B" standard is sub 2:43 for women - let's get after it!

  • The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

    The best experience, EVER. Go Team Nichole!

  • Thank you!

    I can't thank Jerry enough for believing in me, and for my generous sponsors Brooks, Generation UCAN, Nutrilite, Anytime Fitness, Feetures!, Seven Sundays Muesli, Massage Geek, and Stunt Puppy.

  • Dare to dream

    ...and dare to fail

  • Stay in Contact!

    If you've seen me speak, we've connected at a race, or you just read this blog, feel free to reach out and stay in contact with me. I value my running connections and the personal stories behind them more than you know! Plus, comments here have really helped with my personal journey - so keep 'em coming!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream Bars


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream Bars

adapted from here 
*Not the healthiest, but amazing, so thought I'd share :)

Photo credits: bakingblonde.wordpress.com


1 cup melted butter 
1 cup brown sugar (or a combination of brown sugar and a sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups Quick Cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup creamy peanut butter 
1 can low fat sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips

*You can also add 1/2 cup of M&Ms to the topping


Preheat oven to 350.

Line a 9×13 pan with tin foil and spray lighlty with PAM.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.
Set aside about 1 cup or a little more.

Press the rest of the crust into prepared pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes.

May 118
While crust is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk.

Once crust has baked, evenly pour and spread peanut butter filling over the baked crust.Be gentle so you don’t pull up the warm crust while you spread the filling.  

Evenly sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle the chopped candy bars and chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until topping is light golden brown and candy bars/chips are melting. 

Allow to cool to make cutting and serving easier. 


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Pregnancy Weeks 11-12

The great:

My blog WON the 2014 Best Women's Running Blog competition!! Thank you to EVERYONE who voted! It's a huge honor (and a huge surprise!)!

I went in for a massage with Lynn at Massage Geek this week. It was painful, but amazing. I'm trying to get at that pesky hip/hamstring issue so that it's more healed by the time I can start training hard again. If you've been looking for a deep tissue massage therapist, check her out. Don't check her out if you're looking for a foo-foo feels-great massage :)

It was a busy coaching week, as I was able to meet up with one of my athletes at a coffee shop early in the week, run with another on Thursday in Northfield, and coach yet another on the track on Friday! I LOVE MY JOB!!!

Craig, Jeff, and Nate last week (no more snow this week!). All three of these guys are getting ready for Grandma's marathon, so I play the role of coach/cheerleader during their track sessions while I'm running around the outside lanes putting in easy mileage. It at least makes me *feel* like I'm part of the track-work bandwagon! :)
The bad:

Week 11 of pregnancy started out with me throwing up at least once daily. So much for my post from week 10 that said I was feeling great, eh?

Nate made sure I was trying to get some sort of food down. "Yes, I know you don't feel well. But you HAVE to at least eat a couple of crackers each hour," he'd insist. It was tough to know what to do: if I got too hungry, I'd feel nauseated and dry heave. If I ate before I became hungry, I felt like puking (or did puke). Catch 22. Suck.

He kept the house stocked with ginger ale and came home from the grocery store one evening with a couple of bags of foods he thought I might like/be able to keep down. So nice to feel taken care of!!

Luckily, though, it lasted just 5-6 days, and now I'm back to it and feeling a ton better!

The other "not so hot" things these last two weeks:

7th grade acne. Seriously?!? Please leave...

The heat also affects me a lot more when working out. Nothing really "bad"; it's just something I need to be mindful of when running now, especially as Spring and Summer approach.

Again, not really "bad", but I've noticed my easy pace has now dropped to 8:50s. That's just interesting... why is that? It's not like I'm bigger or heavier yet...

The good:

Again, feeling good again! Running has felt better again as well (minus a couple of runs in the heat), YEAH! This week I'll hit ~42 miles with one day off. 

My stomach looks just a little pudgy. At first, I hated that (and wore my bigger training shirts)... but now I've embraced it and don't care. It'll likely just be a cute little "bump" (not really a bump yet... I just look like I ate a lot) for a little while, so I'll take advantage of it while it's still somewhat cute :)

Start of week 11

Mesa is concerned... as she should be :)

Start of week 12

Weight: 118.4
down 4 pounds from week 10 (hmm..)
up 5.4 pounds from training weight
up 10 pounds from racing weight

Easy run pace: ~8:50

Mileage: at a comfortable 40-50 miles/week for now!

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My Voice of Reason

Yesterday Nate and I met up with Craig for a long run. They were going to do 17 as they have Grandma's marathon coming up in 11 short weeks.

I waffled between going with them for a part of it, or doing my own run with Mesa. I had been throwing up again the night before and my stomach wasn't 100%.

But, I decided that company makes everything better, so laced up and ran out the door with them.

Immediately, I could tell that this was harder than normal. Ug. What is this? I looked down and saw we were running at ~8 min pace. Could that be it? I know my "easy" pace is now 8:30s, so that could definitely be it. I sent a silent message to Mesa to "Pull!!" :)

Practicing for the Fast and the Furry 5k at the end of May! Mesa will definitely need all of her strength/pulling abilities then
Another picture from the Fast and the Furry. I just love how proud Mesa looks :)
 At 3 miles, my HR spiked to 185 while running up a hill with them. I was out of breath & just WORKING. I told them that I'd just drop back at that point, but they were okay slowing down the pace as well.

They kept me talking through 5 miles, which kept my mind off my nauseated-feeling self (and also my mind off of my effort...). At 5, I decided to turn around to head back for home, even though I wanted to go longer - 10 used to be a walk in the park! - I figured it had been a few weeks since I had done something long. Better to error on the side of short vs. long.

The 5 miles back seemed to take forever. I slowed the pace to 8:35s, and still my HR hoovered around 180. At mile 8, I noticed I was running 9:00 miles with my HR still in the low 180s. What?!?

I made it home, drank a ton (it was warm out!), and then felt the need to crawl into bed. I was cold, and my brain just wanted to shut off.

Nate got me up ~20 mins later when he returned. He looked at me quizzically.

Q: Why did I feel the need to go 10 today? A: The plan was 8-10, and honestly, I felt like a complete cop-out not at least doing double digits when you guys were doing 17. Definitely pride. Definitely ego.

His response: do you think either I, or Craig, cares how far or how fast you're going now? Or anybody? I know you feel the need to prove you can still do this, still want to work hard, but you are PREGNANT.

Q: Did you consider slowing down even further at the end? Walking? A: [pause] Actually, no, I didn't... guess I've conditioned myself to think 9:00 miles should be "slow enough"

His response: Maybe next time when you see your HR climbing so high, you could take a 1-2 minute walk break. Or just slow your pace down even further?

Then he talked for a long time. He reminded me that even though "I used" to be able to run ~17-20/day, that running "used" to come easy, and that 9:00 miles "used" to be considered too slow, that things have changed. My body is slightly different, and my physiology is different. I will handle heat differently (probably a BIG factor during that run, I am guessing). I have never been pregnant before, so I am NOT allowed to compare myself to pre-pregnancy distances or times.

And most of all, I need to listen to my body more.

Thanks, Nate, for being the best voice of reason. Seriously, I don't know what I would do without you!

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Perhaps spoke too soon...

I may have jinxed myself when I said I have been feeling great.

Week 11 has started off a little rough. First, food has sounded completely unappetizing.

Nate was wonderful and brought home a chocolate pastry and two containers of ice cream last night. "You need to be eating more!" was his decree.

Can't remember the last time I've had a pastry AND chocolate ice cream in the house at the same time!
I started to make dinner, but then all of a sudden I needed to lay down. Fast forward a couple hours, trips to several stores by Nate to find ginger ale, and I found myself ending the night throwing up into a garbage can while trying to fall asleep.

I don't think I've thrown up in a LONG time.

Today was more of the same. *Sigh* I tried to eat lunch, but that came right up. Along with the 4 strawberries I choked down for breakfast. Throwing up when you don't have anything in your stomach is NOT pleasant. I'd forgotten that feeling.

I also checked my weight, and I'm down ~3 pounds (now below pre-pregnancy weight). Here's hoping it's just the flu and not the start of morning sickness. That shouldn't start at 11 weeks, right?!?

Thinking positive! I'm hoping to be feeling better and be out on the roads ASAP!

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Pregnancy - Week 10

This week: a temporary no-running order (although feeling great!), buying new running bras, and some general life updates!

Week 10 started off great. I ran 7 miles Monday, easy, and 11 miles Tuesday with Rael and Craig (workout was to do some rolling hills, and luckily, Craig and Rael proposed running the roads around St. Olaf!). 

The only problem was that I had started spotting Sunday. I called Tuesday and they brought me in immediately for an ultrasound. Luckily, Nate was able to re-arrange his schedule to be there, as we were a little surprised at what we found :). 

Along with finding out I was 10 weeks along, we also found out that there was a sub-chorionic hemorrhage. Basically, it's a blood clot or pool of blood that has developed and causes baby to separate from the uterus (not a good thing).

So... that meant a doctor's orders of NO RUNNING. Wait, just not "no running", but no exercise.

I was bummed for a brief second, but then accepted the order completely. Heck, if I need to sit on my bum for the remainder of these 7 months to make sure this little person is healthy, develops well, etc, then that is what I'll do! I could busy myself with other things, right? (I cringe thinking of trying to fill 7 months of things other than training/running/being active...)

... coaching, gardening, quilting, finishing the Xmas stocking below... I'm sure there are other fun projects, right?!?

I went back for a second ultrasound that Friday to find that the hemorrhage was much smaller. So, if symptoms stopped for a couple of days, I was okay to start running again. YAAAHHH!!!!!!

I immediately emailed Chris, my coach :)

I noticed for the first time on my run yesterday that my stomach just looked a little "pudgy". No bump yet, I just look a little chubby :)

Beginning of week 10. Just looks like I ate a big evening meal :)
Oh, and I've had to buy new running bras. Sigh. PLEASE, someone tell me this is temporary and that I'll be able to use my collection of XS running bras again... Or is this a permanent thing???

Mediums now... sigh...

122 this morning (end of week 10). I'm up 2 pounds over "getting pregnant weight", up 10 pounds over training weight, and up 15 pounds over racing weight.

Beginning of week 10
General Life Updates:
Stocking: I was able to make great progress on baby's Xmas stocking during our road trip to Indiana. This might actually be done by baby's first Christmas!
About 1/3 complete! The name will have to wait :)
Yes, this makes me a nerd... I've made counted cross-stitch stockings for both Nate and I.

Baby's room: We listed our office set on Craigslist, assuming it would take months to sell. It was a HUGE set. Amazingly, it sold in 3 days. So... now we have an empty room... does that mean I can start shopping for a crib/baby room furniture? I'm all for buying used, so have a CL search up.

The grocery game: Now I've moved on to our freezer, trying to use up the things we've had in there for the better part of a year. This week I tackled:

A chicken!!

photo credit: cookthink.com. Because, obviously, mine did not look this pretty :). But, it turned out moist and flavorful, which is a huge win!
Yep, that's right :) It's actually not as hard as it seems.

Plus, it made for a great chicken noodle soup the next day. We were also able to make a LOT of chicken stock to freeze.

On the subject of food: Food has just not tasted the same this last month. It's not like I have food aversions, but things just don't look or sound as good as they used to. I'm hoping that changes...

2014 Best Women's Running Blog: You've probably seen this on FB already, but in case you haven't, I've been nominated to compete for the title of 2014 Best Women's Blog. So far, with the help of YOU, I've made it into the ELITE 8!! Holy cow!!

There may be many more solicitations for votes in the near future, and I assure you, I appreciate EVERY SINGLE ONE! This is a dream come true to be one of the top 8 running blogs in the country. I can only hope we can make it further!!!

If you're reading and haven't voted, PLEASE consider voting. It just takes a second!!! http://www.saltyrunning.com/2014/04/01/greatest-womens-running-blog-elite-eight/

Let's make it to the Final Four!!! :)

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Nominated, But Need Your HELP!

I've been nominated to compete for the title of "2014 Greatest Women's Running Blog". It's set up like the NCAA Basketball tournament, so I need to make it past the first round to move on.

The only problem with that is that I'm up again Camille Herron's blog. Nothing like competing against the big dogs!!! :)

If you could vote for my blog here, I would REALLY appreciate it! For those of you that have already voted, THANK YOU!

Let's make this the Cinderella story of the tournament :)


(I'm at the bottom of the voting list)

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How I Found Out - and the Crazy Adventure to be!

You've probably noticed my blog has been a little quieter as of late. 

Well, there's good reason... and now, it's likely to be updated a LOT more frequently!

On Friday, February 28th, I woke up, and knowing that we had a convention to attend in the evening with an open bar, I decided to take a pregnancy test to make sure I could have a glass of wine. 

Nate and I had made a pact, and I wasn't supposed to take a test without him there with me. But, since they had all been "no" (we have been trying for a little while), and I was pretty sure this one was going to be a "no" as well, I decided I was safe to cheat.

Except, it wasn't a "no"... :)

Mesa is so excited! As you can tell :)
You can imagine my surprise (and inner thought: Oh, sh*t!... not because I wasn't excited, but because now I was stuck knowing something I shouldn't without him there!). I immediately called Nate at work and left a shaky message.

Do I wait for him to call back? That could be hours! Ahh! Or... I could drive to his office to tell him! So, I did: the longest 20 minute drive of my life.

I walked into his office and asked, "I was just passing through town, and wondered if I could say hi?". Pretty sure his staff MUST have known something was odd then... I'm never just stopping by to say hi :).

I pulled him out of a patient's procedure and told him I needed to show him something. My hands were shaking as I took the test out to show him. Needless to say, we nervously looked at each other, smiled from ear to ear, and embraced in a long, sweet, loving hug. What an awesome feeling.

Yep, brought it with me to show him!
"What are you doing the rest of the day?", he asked.

"I have a workout with Craig and Jeff planned", I replied. It was supposed to be a 10 mile progression run. 

"Um... you may want to rethink that?", which was followed by a long pause. "I think you should take it easy... maybe just tell them you're sick?"

I drove home and got ready for my workout. Jeff was fine with me lagging behind on the faster miles (I'm not sure what he was thinking when I told him I'd only be doing 6-7 miles, and nothing very fast), and Craig thought I had totally fallen off the motivation wagon. After I told Craig I was shortening the workout, he replied, "I thought the workout was TEN!"... trying to guilt me into doing the written workout (guilt or other means of trying to motivate me to do my workouts lately was 100% welcomed and deserved). I shrugged it off. 

"Yeah, just a little shorter and easier today", I replied.


Fast forward: This weekend I drove down to Indiana with Nate and Craig to visit Sharon and pace her for a half-marathon. Originally Nate, Craig, and I were all going to pace, but I had to break the news to Sharon that her coach would have to be on the sidelines and she'd be in the guys' hands. It was a LOT of fun, and I am proud of her for fighting through awful stomach problems and still notching a new PR. That's 4 new PRs this year, folks, if you're counting: mile (well, tied a PR), 3k, 5k, and now 1/2 marathon!

On the way home I started noticing a few odd symptoms. They persisted to Monday, so I called the clinic and they said I should come in just to make sure everything was okay. I scheduled for late in the day so that Nate could accompany me.

Luckily, I had already established a relationship with an OBGYN after my ER visit this summer.
First, I was whisked off to the lab, where they took FIVE vials of blood. Five! I am NOT good with needles or blood, but I actually took it like a champ and wasn't even light-headed or clammy afterwards. Go, me.

Then, I found Nate (coming to the clinic after getting off from work a little early), and we went into the ultrasound room. I was under the impression that we were just checking to make sure everything was okay, since at 6 weeks, it's about the size of a grain of rice. I was hoping we would be able to see if there were one or two little ones in there; multiples are very prevalent in my family, so I was a little worried!

But instead of a grain of rice, it was a little, squirming HUMAN! 

I swear, it looks like it's holding a baton!
The ultrasound tech immediately said, "Yeah, you're definitely not just 6 weeks along... more like 10 weeks". What?!? Nate and I looked at each other, grabbed hands, and then stared back at our moving little one. We listened to its heartbeat (185 bpm! A little on the high side, just like mom)... and most important of all, confirmed that there was just one baby in there :).

Perhaps it's those Nutrilite vitamins, propelling the little one to astronomical growth rates? Maybe by the next ultrasound I can chop off another month off of this whole pregnancy thing! I can dream, right?

So, just like that, I'm 10 weeks pregnant. Due date is October 22nd. We couldn't be more excited!

Or more clueless, for that matter :).


So when did this whole "family" idea even start? Good question!

Before the 2012 Trials, Nate brought up starting a family. I told him that we could start after I gave a good effort at running the standard. Once that happened, we needed to wait until after the Trials (obviously).

After the Trials, we got home and I took out my birth control from my travel bag. "Should I throw these out now?" I asked. I could tell Nate wanted to say yes, but could tell I was hesitant. I started to say something, and then burst into tears.

I was SO not ready. I had stuff I wanted to accomplish! Goals! Selfishly, I pictured my life "ending" if we started a family. Plus, I had no time for a child. What would I do with it? Drop it off at 7, and pick it up at 10 when I got home from work?

I continued to not want to have children until late last year. I'm not sure what changed in me. The urge grew stronger at the start of this year. There was one long run I remember particularly well. I came back to the house after just 1.5 miles to drop the dog off (her paws were a little cut up from the ice). I went to the door, but did NOT want to open it to continue the run. I sat down on our steps and called Nate.

I started to cry. I just want to be pregnant, Nate! I didn't want to run. I wanted a family. I wanted to be jogging-stroller mom, library mom, etc. That was the first time that I realized how strong my desire was. 

Except my body was having none of that. First of all, I was far too lean at the end of last year. Before Chicago, I was at 11% body fat. Apparently that's not conducive to baby-making (and I actually had lost my period pre-Chicago, even while on the pill... so knew I had lost a little too much weight). The docs suggested I put on at least 10 pounds, if not 15.

Yeah, so I really didn't go to the nearest bakery and eat the entire store... but it's fun to think that I did. It really didn't take much, as I took 3+ weeks TOTALLY off from running after NYC, and then started back up slowly. Turns out, I gain weight quickly and easily. Thanks, genetics.
Awesome! It was fun until I was heavier and still not pregnant. Then it just sucked.

Once I got my period back (and off the pill), I bled for all but 6 days of the first month. Sorry for the girl-details, guys. But I'm all about honesty here. It was terrible. Guess I deserved it; I've been beating up my body for a long time. 

I think the in-between nature of my situation was a major cause of my lack of motivation. I had no purpose... I wanted to start a family, which meant training at a lower volume, closely monitoring intensity, and being heavier. But if I knew that getting pregnant would take a long time, then I should just go on training and try to hit the 2016 standard before conceiving.

The planner in me hated my situation!

Once we found out I was pregnant, though, a switch in me flipped. I was all of a sudden motivated again. I hinted at that here, not sure if anyone caught on :). I fell totally in love with running again. I smiled as I ran, laughed more, and didn't feel the pressure I had been carrying the previous months.

I think part of it was that I now had a plan. Another part is that I know that the journey ahead of me will be even more epic. I'll have 13+ months post baby to get myself into the shape of my life. Impossible? Probably :).

And if there's one thing I love more than anything, it's tackling something that "shouldn't be possible" :).


So that explains my general "fluffiness" around describing workouts and my training plan. Sorry about that! Nate and I decided it was probably safest to wait until after our first doctor's appointment to say anything, just to make sure everything looked good. So, it began... the slow march of days until we could tell...

So true! It really didn't feel "real"... heck, it still doesn't! Except now I have this picture of a little human in my house... so I guess it must be??
I'm excited to be able to log the journey here, as my goal is to remain as fit and strong as I can throughout the pregnancy. I'll have ~13+ months post-baby to try to return to high-level competition and hopefully snag that sub-2:43. I would love nothing more than to bring our first little one to the 2016 Trials to have him/her watch me finish.

I'll try to blog often about my experiences: what I'm able to do, what I'm not, what I have to modify, etc. I wish I could find more great women athlete blogs on the subject (wish Lauren Fleshman would have written more and been more detailed!) - there are a few I've found, including accounts on Saltyrunning.com. if you know of any out there, please send them my way!

Or, if there's any other general advice, I'm all ears! Nate and I have a lot to learn!

Onward towards the next (and biggest) adventure!
~Nichole (and Mini)
PS - soliciting suggestions for a name for the little one/bump!

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Motivation Monday - Remember Why You Started


I often get asked, "How did you stick with it?" [Referring to the craziness that was my corporate finance life, training 80-100 mpw, with a long commute]

The answer was, and still is, simple: I want it. I wake up every day and truly want it. I want to prove to myself that I am capable. That I am strong. That I can do something impossible.

At a lot of the presentations I give, I hear so many people say that they've tried a million times to start exercising, eating healthier, losing weight, to stop smoking or another bad habit... the list of resolutions is endless. How will this time be any different?

My advice? Spend some time to define your true goal and what motivates you to get there. Can you find a motivation or multiple reasons in you that is so strong that you're willing to trudge through a hundred bad days before you start seeing progress? That even on the 100th bad day, you'll still wake up and still just want that goal?

Define why you want to start, so that when the days and the journey get tough, you can remember why you started. 

What's your motivation? What keeps you going?

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