• 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 Generation UCAN, Feetures!, Stunt Puppy, Boom! Nutrition, Infinit Nutrition, Anytime Fitness, and Massage Geek!

  • 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!

Chicago Marathon to Cheer on Mr. Jefferton!

Nathan, Craig, Jeff and I arrived in Chicago late Friday night. Jeff is racing the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, looking to notch another big PR. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to watch him race/PR in person. Plus, and equally exciting, Grandma and Grandpa were willing to watch Greta for the weekend, so it's a great weekend away for Nathan and me!

They ordered while I was in the bathroom. I came out to a 20 inch western pizza (covered in bacon) - and this scene.
Jeff waking up after a 20 minute Dr. Asp guided visualization. Note his "I'm READY for this" smirk :)
Jeff's last run before the marathon Saturday morning. 2 miles + strides
Continuing on with the best training partner/friend around to finish up my 10 miles for the day!
Yes, TNC athletes, coach also does her 26 sit-ups and push-ups after every run.

I still have Diastasis Recti. You can't see it in this picture because of the angle, but if you were to look at my stomach from my vantage point here, you'd see a 1.5 finger-width midline ridge bulge. I should have done more TvA (Transverse Abdominis) work before and during pregnancy.

What is Diastasis Recti, you're asking? It is the separation of the right and left abdominal muscles, which happened during pregnancy. The separation was more than 2 or 2.5 finger widths initially, so it's getting better.

Petite women are at greater risk of developing this. Is that because baby doesn't have as much room vertically so needs to grow outward? I vividly remember feeling like my abs muscles were "snapping" during random times during the last trimester, much like a too-taught violin string that eventually just snaps. That hurt a bit.

And... pushups.
I still can't do 26 all at once, but I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.
Then we went into the expo and listened to a Nike coach/athlete panel presentation. Coaches and athletes talked about racing in general and the Chicago marathon course logistics. One interesting marathon/ultra marathon racing tip from Alexi Pappas: Tell yourself the night before that you'll be able to gift yourself two new pairs of legs: the first when you first start noticing pain, and the second for whenever you need it.

The other interesting tip from one of the Nike coaches: holding in fear (of the race itself, of failing, etc) is like holding a beach ball underneath the water. At first it isn't hard, but after a while you have a harder time keeping it below the surface, and eventually it pops out of the water. Instead, acknowledge and work through your fear. Where is it originating? Why is it there?
I snagged Matt Tegencamp after the presentation for a couple personal training and coaching questions. Why not, right? :)

Nichole: Mr. Tegencamp, what are your favorite marathon specific workouts? Matt: long run progressions moving from 6:00/miles to 5:00/miles (goal MP), and 10k/MP mid-week workouts, alternating between the track (so many 10k workout options) and MP on the roads. 
With a 2x Olympian! He's in build mode for the '16 Olympic Trials right now. NBD.
I then found Greg McMillan and asked him about his favorite hard/long marathon workouts as well!
What is Jeff doing? That question is asked more often than not... like when I had him try to race a 5k without a defined pacing plan and he went out and led the race by 50 meters within the first 150 meters... now I make sure to have a specific pacing/overall plan for all of his races :)

I say that, but only because it's quite humorous now. He's one of my most coachable athletes, executing his pacing extraordinarily well.

I am SO excited to watch him tomorrow. 18 months ago he was a 3:15 marathoner. This June he ran a 2:40 at Grandma's. Tomorrow = breaking into the 2:3x realm. I don't think he thought he would ever be able to say that.

It makes me beam. Proud coach, to say the least!
And with the hubby!
Lunch at the Corner Bakery Cafe. Guess what Craig is doing...

If you guessed choking Jeff, you guessed correctly.
Then it was on to say "hi" to my friends at UCAN! Varun and Katie are the greatest! I am so very thankful to be able to work with them!
Jeff getting interviewed by the UCAN company! #celebritystatus

Jeff told his wife later, "Yeah! I was interviewed! And they're going to put it on their Facebook machine!"
Feetures! socks booth. Love their socks. He is tall, I am short. Can you tell by his stance?

Missing lil' G, big time, but she's enjoying being with Grandma and Grandpa. They made chocolate chip cookies (she's loving them here!), an apple orchard, and pizza samples and people watching at Costco.

It IS really nice to have a weekend alone with Nathan, though. We really should try to make a point of getting away more often.
Now, it's time to turn on Dr. Asp's CD for Jeff one more time, go over his racing plan/logistics again, and then bed. Wish him luck!!

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Winner, Winner, Cafe Zupas Dinner(s)!

I decided to let Greta choose a name this morning as we were getting ready for daycare/work.

She chose one, but then threw it down...
... and lunged for another name in "the pile". She is clearly thinking hard about which name to pick 
And, we 've made a choice! Picking a winner the only way she knows how: eating the name
Kathy Becher! Send me your address & I'll have Cafe Zupas mail you the $50 giftt card!
I should have looked at the name she chose but threw down. Guess I/we will never know who "could" have won!

There will be another drawing sometime next week, so save your lunch selections and dinner date choices for another drawing!

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Cafe Zupas - Giveaway

Two weeks ago I was invited to a VIP event to preview Cafe Zupas, a new restaurant opening in Woodbury. I could bring a guest, so I called up my Aunt Kathy who lives and works in Woodbury. She actually works just down the road from their location, so it was perfect!

If you've been in the Mountain West, you've likely heard of Cafe Zupas. They're now expanding to the Midwest, and Minnesota is the first state they're opening in.
Cafe Zupas makes all of their soups, spreads, and dressings fresh every day. I was able to watch them making their menu items through a large display window outside the kitchen: chopping, sauteing, and blending like crazy. Nothing says made fresh and made-to-order like that! 

Kathy and I stopping for a picture while we try to decide what to order

I was impressed at how quickly they're able to make an order. I don't know about you, but I don't eat out often, but when I do I'm looking for something really quick, fresh, and healthy - exactly this!
I ordered the Turkey Bacon Avacado sandwich, Garden Chowder soup, Strawberry Harvest Chicken salad with the Chocolate Layer cake as a dessert. 
I was so excited to be able to invite my aunt to enjoy the event and lunch with me! We've decided to schedule a monthly lunch or dinner together to catch up and visit. Cafe Zupas is right near her work so I think we'll be eating there often!
I can't decide what I loved most: my sandwich, soup, or salad. Honestly, they were all SO good.
For $8.79 you can choose 2 items (soup, salad, sandwich), and they will come with a side of bread and a chocolate covered strawberry.
Speaking of that strawberry: it was the first one I've eaten that didn't leave me trying to catch chocolate as it broke off in chunks after a first bite. I thought to myself, ahh! This is what they're supposed to be like! :)
I won a giveaway for my fast social media fingers!
I was so excited to try the layered cake that I dove in before I remembered to take a picture. Oops. Yes, it is as good as it looks.
My aunt's Salted Carmel Creme Brulee. I think I enjoyed it over my chocolate layer cake? That surprised me, usually nothing tops a chocolate dessert for me! I'm excited to try their chocolate Creme Brulee next time... mmm...
To enter the giveaway, comment below on what you'll order from their menu and who you'll enjoy lunch with! Winner to be selected at 5:00 on Wednesday 10/7/15, so get your commenting hat on! Not so subtle suggestion, ha: your favorite coach and blogger would never turn down an invitation to lunch! Who wouldn't want to talk training/racing/coaching?!?

I already anticipate comments from Craig and Jeff "a real woman" below, inviting their favorite non-Nichole favorite coach/blogger :).

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A Glorious Cabin Weekend & Start to the Week


After this week's earlier bombshell of a post, it's time for a more "normal" weekly blog post/update: training, racing, goals, daily life, adventures, house projects, etc.!

A Cabin Weekend!:

Last Friday we headed up to the cabin, stopping at Craig's parents house on the way to enjoy dinner and help celebrate Craig's 33rd birthday!

33 years young
Saturday morning it was time for the Birkie Trail and Trek. Rob was doing the 100k Ultra Marathon, and Nathan and I were able to run an 8 mile loop with him. At first, I lagged pretty far behind both of them. I am a terrible trail runner, and even though the Birkie Trail's single track trail isn't too technical, I still can't get myself to take my eyes off my feet.

Parking lot near the 21 mile aid station
I became more comfortable with my footing fairly quickly, and as I did, I found myself falling in love with the Birkie trail. I even began contemplating the idea of running the trail marathon next year -- and potentially running an ultra marathon at some point. I guess it helps that Rob makes it look so easy. He is always so calm and composed.

Anyone know anything about the Door County Road Ultra? Someone mentioned it and it peaked my interest.

We were able to get to the finish line in time to watch Craig finish 2nd in the marathon.

Way to go, Craig!
Cool podium, eh?
Small world! Dr. Asp ran the 1/2 marathon! We caught up - which included me telling him about my summer. He is now cancer free after having stage 4 cancer in his femur, liver, and numerous other places... so glad this man is still with us.
Just as cool as taking 2nd place in a marathon? Signing the tax form so you can take home a prize money!
Being around all of the racing excitement further ignited my desire to get back to running, training and racing! Big news as of a few days ago: I called Jerry, explained my crazy last 8 months, and asked him if he'd be willing to coach me again. He agreed! I could not be more excited! My official plan is coming by this Friday. YAY!

Right now I need to take it easy as I'm not sure about the status of baby #2, though... but I'm slowly filing training and racing ideas in the back of my mind. I'm sure Jerry is enjoying my Trying to win the Birkie Trail Marathon next year is on that list. It would be a lot of fun to train for, something totally different for me (aka not the roads!!), and I don't know... it just sounds like a fun, crazy challenge!

Later in the day we found out that Rob won his Ultra, over 50 MINUTES ahead of the second competitor. Wow.
Rob finished in just over 12 hours. Photo credits: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation
Photo credits: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation

For the rest of the weekend, we hung out at the cabin, ate a lot, and enjoyed the Fall Festival in Hayward.
Greta and Tia (Aunt) Jessica watching the Wiener Dog Races during Hayward's Fall Festival. Yes, Wiener Dog Races.

Ready, set, GO! Turn those little legs OVER!

Oh, the suspense!! I'm not sure what happened with the 3rd doggie racer... hmm...
She loves the cabin! And swings!
Quality cabin time with Karen, my mother in law, and Jessica, my sister in law

Job Update!:

On Friday Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield offered me a Church Accountant position! I am so excited!

How perfect:

-It's Part-time: Greta will continue in 5-day/week day care, allowing me to work at the church part-time, continue to coach part-time, as well as still having time for outpatient treatment, personal to-dos, household stuff and errands, and running the TNC business in general!

-My schedule is extremely flexible. One week I could work longer days M-W, other weeks I could work 1/2 days M-F, other weeks I do something entirely different.

-It's a position at the church Nathan and I are members at.

-Located in Northfield = no commute! I'm hoping to get into the habit of biking to work.

-I get my own office. With a door!

-Microsoft Excel! Budgets! Forecasting! Automating day-to-day tasks with macros! *Love*

-Last, but certainly not least, take note of Bethel's associate pastor. then take a look at Gustavus' Outdoor Track and Field Records! Happenstance? Or is Bethel secretly trying to hire Gustavus' record holders? :)

Training this past week:

Thursday: 6 miles, 8:30 pace with Nathan, Craig, Teresa and Marco. Very thankful for a few intersection stops after about mile 4 or 5 to allow my heart rate to drop below 190. Yikes. My HR has been crazy high since my inpatient stay. Pregnancy related?

Friday: 5.5 miles easy, 8:30/mile average around Northfield with Mesa. It was wonderful to run just with her! It's beenTook it easy because it was a little warm - and because I received a phone call from the OBGYN right before the run to tell me that my HCG numbers from my morning blood draw looked a lot better! It reminded me that even though a miscarriage is likely, there's still a chance I won't - so I need to be careful about heat and my heart rate when training!

I let Mesa off leash to hop in a pond to cool down and she decided to take a swim to try to eat some Canadian Geese. She was not successful. She tried hard, though, and was pretty proud of herself for it.

Saturday: 8 miles, 11:50 mile pace with Rob (during his ultra) on the Birkie trails.

Sunday: 8.25 miles, 8:22 overall average. Mini progression starting at 10/mile, down to 6:50.
Started with the father in law and sister in law, then kept increasing my pace until I decided to take my last 3 miles as a progression workout (since the run had been an unplanned progression run up to that point!). Splits: 10:00, 9:30, 8:45, 8:35, 8:10, 7:52, 7:32, 6:50 (that last mile was HARD! Uf! I have a lot of work to do!)

Look at what we found being given away!

Go ahead, sing the Lonely Island "I'm on a Boat" song :)
Leave it to Nathan to decide the boat would make "the most epic cabin sandbox". See his idea sketch: 1/2 of the boat is sandbox, half "let's play boat".

We decided that we didn't need to add cannons or sails, ha.
6.1 miles, ~8:15/mile, 176 bpm average. Ran while Nathan, Craig and Teresa rollerskied. I pushed the stroller and ran with Mesa on my hip - and felt like a million bucks! For the first time in a long, long time my feet felt light and quick. My easy pace is starting to come down... still slower than 8 minute pace, but it's quicker than the 9 minute pace I was holding 3 weeks ago! YAY - gettting in shape!

A family affair
I finished up with a strength session.

My first strength session! I really need to work on my leg strength and power, as well as hamstring and glute strength.
She is intrigued by what mommy is doing.
Even more intrigued by how those Elite Credentials might taste. Yummm,

Set two. She's still just hanging out with me!
9.3 miles, 7:39/mile. I ran with Jeff at his house. I felt great! We clipped along together until he flew off ahead of me doing a few miles at marathon pace (his crazy coach, aka me, told him to). I was really, really surprised to see my average pace after the run. I haven't run sub 8 minute miles in a long time, much less held it for this long. Granted, I was breathing harder than normal, and talking while clipping along at this pace was difficult, but I'll take it!

7.7 miles, 8:22/mile. Met up with Emma, a new training partner in town. Great conversation, beautiful day!

Day off, dictated by Jerry after I filled him in on the week and he realized how many miles I had logged in the last week. I hadn't been counting. Good thing I have him, I know I need to ease into mileage slowly! I'm excited to see what my plan will have me doing tomorrow and next week!

= 50 miles on 6 days

Other life updates:

I am on a mission to clean and organize my house top to bottom. I must be pregnant.... :)

I am anxiously awaiting Friday's ultra sound (8:30 am) and OBGYN appointment (10:00) to read results. God is good, I look forward to knowing a little more of his plan for me and our little family.

My monkey! Nothing is more precious than her hysterical giggle! :)

Questions to end with:

  • Does anyone know of great not-too-technical trail races, other than the Birkie Trail & Trek? Have you run it?
  • Does anyone know of any road ultra marathons held in MN or WI?
  • What did your last training week look like?

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