• 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!

Back From the Dead!

The last few months have been a whirlwind, and not in the best of ways.

Until I have time to explain more, I'll leave you with a few adorable pictures of Greta!

Ice cream makes everything better, right?
Putting her to bed...
Bears = tasty
She looks ready to sleep, right? I can't help but LOVE my smiley and happy (and adorable) girl!
Did I mention smiley?

Park time!
All for now, I hope to post very soon!

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What an incredibly busy week!


This has been an incredibly busy week!

First, my coaching has been keeping me busy! TNC now has three new members, one from Mexico, one from Alaska (returning member after taking a few months off from coaching during/after pregnancy!), and another from Florida. How fun! It involves a lot of time to look through their data, call them, talk through my philosophies, nail down a race calendar, and then sit down to draw up the plan.

I buckled down, though, and think I have them all squared away. *Wipes brow*

A third new athlete will be joining us in June as well, so there are the initial emails and the start of race scheming. I love the planning out a season, it's always so fun! [FYI: My athlete roster is currently full]

Second, the TNC Endurance Retreat is this weekend! We are going to have a very fun, and full cabin this weekend!

Very fun group! Many of them are coming back this year, so that's awesome!
Our agenda:

Friday evening individuals will arrive and we'll do a short easy jog. Then, food, and a rousing game of "get to know you Bingo"! Sounds ... fun... you're thinking? Oh, but I promise you it will be! There are some fun questions!

Saturday: two workouts, one of which will be harder/longer. Then a strength competition and workout, and Jeopardy. More food, and miscellaneous cabin activities: pontoon boat riding, badminton, bean bag toss, jet ski, bonfire, and/or board games.

No wall/log sits this year. I know, everyone will be so disappointed!
More shenanigans. You can tell Jeff is just cackling.
Sunday: An easy run to round out the weekend, then even more food! Then it's time to pack up and head back home.

The camp wore Mesa out last year! Wow.
I can't wait! We are heading up to the cabin tomorrow evening so I can get everything ready ahead of time.

So, I should get back to working on my Jeopardy questions. Then, it's to the store to buy food (for 11! Yikes! This will be a cart-full!)

In closing, I leave you with some cute pictures of Greta. Cuz that's why you're reading this, I know :)
Oh my... we are learning how to eat solids! It's just a little messy! And tiring, by the looks of it!
Did I mention solids are a mess? :)
Solids again (note the face!), and enjoying the sunshine with M&D during their lunch outdoors!
At a doctor's appointment. Greta is finally starting to grow "rolls". Yay! :) There's nothing cuter than baby fat rolls :)

All for now folks. I need to get back to work!

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TNC Training Camp, May 15-17!

What are your training and racing goals this year?

I am currently about 3/4 of the way full for camp, so please send me a note if you are interested. If this is any testament to the value of camp: most all of previous year's attendees are returning :).

Last year's awesome crew. To say the least.

Dates: May 15th-17th

Time: Friday a run in the evening, timed around when individuals can get there. Ending Sunday around 1-2pm or whenever the morning run ends/breakfast is consumed!

What we do: 
4 workouts (Friday night, Saturday AM, Saturday PM, and Sunday morning)

-Get to know each other game Friday night. Promise, it's not an awkward ice-breaker (new game this year! We will save the hat game for Saturday night!... those returning may know why...)

Friday night "hat-game"
-Strength competition

Strength competition last year! Wisconsin-style!
-Learn dynamic stretching routines

-Eat tons of great food

The best shake makers!
May I take your order?
Sunday post-run meal!
Yay, food! Did I mention we run a lot this weekend? And eat a lot? :)
-"Running" themed Jeopardy. Think of your pseudo-name to play. Turd Ferguson is taken, btw. (Did I mention we have fun?) You can bring props or costumes for this.

-Winning prizes for the strength competition and jeopardy! So get your pull-ups and push-ups on, and brush up on all of your running knowledge! These prizes are worth it (thank you Feetures! socks, Generation UCAN, SweatPink shoelaces, and Nutrilite!)!

-I also want to spend time with every athlete during the weekend to talk about their goals, current training, what I might suggest for changes (if any), etc. I am focusing more on education this year. So, bring your training plan! Let me observe your form! Anything that could help you achieve your goals, I am more than happy to spend time on! For some camp participants, that is weight loss. For some, it's that "pie-in-the-sky" running goal. You do not have to be fast to come. We will have campers from 9:30-10:00/mile easy pace to sub 2:40 marathoners. 

The coolest thing? We all work together to push each other. From a coaching perspective, it is so cool to see!

-Lastly: there will likely be other fun games and shenanigans. Because if you are going to beat your body, you may as well have fun afterwards, right? :)

Just for fun, a bonfire.
You know you're interested. Email me. Scholarships are available if finances are a barrier.

See you on the 15th, right? :)   

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Contrary to Popular Belief, I have not died!


It has been a rough month for me.

I don't even know where to start! We endured two rounds of family emergencies, neither of which were expected. I won't explain anything further other than to reassure you it had nothing to do with Greta. It's just private and I don't think I'm ready to talk about it yet.

My sister flew in from Denver with her adorable two daughters, Sierra (5.5) and Violet (2.5). We were able to celebrate Easter as an entire family, which was SO fun. She spent two full weeks with me, so we spent a lot of time at the YMCA, the library, and parks.

With all three girls in the backseat, you never know what is going to happen :)
YMCA open swim. I don't think Greta is a fan (she screamed upon entering the room!), so I may wait another month or two to re-introduce her to the pool.
The house was filled with giggles, "horsey rides" on grandpa's back, and a lot of great family time. It was so sad to have them go!

Sierra giving Greta a horsey ride!
Oh, this egg is totally mine.
Easter egg hunt. She clearly raced over to fight other kids for eggs!
Yay for bunny costumes
Grandpa Pete introducing her to water. She liked it!
Coaching has been keeping me very, very busy - to say the least! I had 4 athletes run Boston, so we're all scheming now on the plan for this fall :). Kristy is racing Pittsburgh tomorrow, and Andrew is conquering Eugene next week. Add to that some new clients, and wow - I'm happily very busy! [I am very full now, so not currently accepting new clients]

This guy has become FAST in the last year. Just ask him. 
I'm planning TNC camp, which I'm super excited about! It's May 15th-17th. Like last year, we will have 4 workouts (Friday night, Saturday AM, Saturday PM, and Sunday morning), a strength competition, learn dynamic stretching routines, and eat tons of good food (and likely, shenanigans...)! New this year: Jeopardy! There will be multiple running-themed categories. I will also be spending a lot more time on running information: energy systems, nutrition, you name it. Ahh, I am so excited! There are still beds/rooms available, seriously give thought to coming!

I promise, you will leave camp:
1. With a lot of miles under your belt (custom to where you are at in your cycle - we will talk)
2. With a smile because you've met some great folks and you know you'll remain in good contact with them (did I mention our TNC team is close? Yep :))
3. With a greater understanding of running, "the little things", training in general
4. With a lot of fun memories. We work hard, we relax hard :)

Switching gears, there are puppies at the farm! Apparently they taste great.

Yay, puppies!
My running has been, well, interesting. I took time off for family emergencies and then I was hit with a 103.2 degree temp. I was so tired and every single muscle in my body ached! It reminded me how much I hate being sick! Ug.

Since then I've been getting out about every other day, but I have realized that I am content to run for fitness now. I have been scared to admit this... since this blog is about my journey to the Trials and trying to get back there...

I don't know what has changed (well, obviously, a lot, and she is adorable!), but I am so SO happy to be a mom, a coach, and a wife that running has taken a backseat. It's hard to describe just because everyone that has known me looks at me quizzically when I explain where I'm at. Nichole has never not chased the "next big thing"!

My next big thing IS raising a family, being the best coach I can be, and truly enjoying everyday that I am given. I am so passionate about all of those things, and so thankful to have been given them.

There is something so cool about being so content in life. Life is good :).

Enough sap, right?

Greta! She is the happiest, easiest baby ever!
Last, I leave you with my last two text messages from athletes. I smiled ear to ear. Hope they don't mind me posting here:

Athlete 1: We need to have a serious talk. Something is wrong with my f'ing body.
Athlete 1: I should NOT be running 5:xx pace at the end of that workout!

I just grinned. I love making people fast :)
Athlete 2: I had a major revelation yesterday...
4 miles easy is a warm up and then I only have 22 miles to go.
10 miles at X pace is slower than my best 10 miles by 30 seconds. I have this!
6 miles at X pace is slower than any of my 10k paces. As is 6 miles at (x-5 seconds)! I have this!

Again, huge grin :)

All for now - promise not to disappear for that long again!

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So these things have happened...

1. Mesa has taken to peeing and pooping in our workout room. To the point where I don't know if I can workout there anymore. Glad my elliptical is in the main basement room.

2. Greta has taken to some sort of growth spurt. That translates to: eating a lot, and then pooping a lot. My new resolution is to do 10+ push-ups and 10+ sit-ups every time I change a diaper. Creative way to sneak more strength into the day, right?

Bath Time!
This is my "I'm sort of tired but still like to smile at everything" look
3. I gave Nate a checked-out library book for Valentines Day.

*Aside: the purchased copy was in the mail but not here yet, so I had to go to the library to check out the copy they have - we read that book every time we are there. So... I didn't actually gift him a have-to-return-it-in-14-days book. But it was funny none-the-less.

4. My knee and SI joint are on the mend, finally. I went to the chiropractor on Monday which seemed to really help. Go-go-go-gadget HEAL NICHOLE!

5. Mesa has also taken to chewing her blankets in frustration. Is it because there's a new adorable person in the house? Maybe. Is it because she hasn't been run in a long time? Probably.

But, I have a sewing machine, and it looks like a blanket again!

Very blurry, but you get the point :)
6. I learned that the average life expectancy of a Vizsla is 9.15 years. So, every time I'm cleaning up poop in the workout room I think #everydayisamiracle

I cried when I learned this. I'd blame it on hormones, but it's really just that I hate the fact that I might have to give her up at some point.

7. Taxes. I love doing them, but it's a lot of receipts and paperwork. 940s and 941s? 1120s filing? Uf. Yes, my receipts were stored in a Brooks shoe box during the year.

Although, I'm writing this instead of continuing to work on taxes. I do love doing them, right? :)

8. Sign Language: We've started learning signs for Greta. I was going to print out flash cards, but then Nate reminded me that I could actually "buy" something online for less than $10 - probably less than the cost of paper/ink/my time. He's so smart :).

So, I bought this 500 card deck. We don't need 500 signs, but it was the same price as the 50 card deck. Plus, Nate treats a few deaf patients, so learning to sign will be good for everyone! I am someone that needs flashcards to learn, so I'm excited. (I swear, I graduated Summa Cum Laude... but guess that was because I made a LOT of flash cards. Ha)

9. Did I mention I've registered for an 8k race on the 22nd? Yikes... maybe all of these push-ups and sit-ups will help me? :)

10. Since I'm writing this in shifts, since I last posted #6, Mesa had her first seizure-like "episode". Her right leg seized up when playing fetch. I wasn't there to witness it, but glad Jessica was there to help her down and have her rest. After a nap she was her normal self! #everydayisamiracle

11. Email title: I'm IN! Email body: Don't know why but I randomly went on your blog and read this! (A hidden gem of a post!)

The athlete's email body goes on to explain more ... but main point was that my last post/conversation with that athlete lit something in them to get after the little things, train smarter, and think ONE SHOT! :)

12. Midwest Dental Doctor's meeting. No pictures of us, but it was so fun to get away as a couple while Grandma, Grandpa, and Jessica baby-sat for us. We talked with old friends, enjoyed an open bar, slept at the Radisson Blu, and enjoyed awesome food.

It was our first get-away as parents, and although it's hard to say good-bye to Greta, it was SO nice just to have time with Nate.

13. My knee hasn't hurt the last 2 runs! Plus it's sunny and 50 degrees out! YAYYY!

All for now, folks. Have a wonderful, running filled week!

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Team Nichole - The Story

One of my athletes asked me the other day:

Do you think I could run my goal time right now?

I paused for a second and said, "no".

Unbelievable. Olympic Trials Finisher medal, in a PR.
Not quite the thing you'd like to hear from your coach, right?

I am honest with my athletes. I know paces and progressions and I won't ever fabricate something for my athletes.

This athlete is a high level athlete looking to get to that next level. To get to that next level it takes a fire and desire to get after all of the little things, and usually that means the athlete is asking their coach: "Could I do better with sleep? Could I do better with nutrition? Who can I work with? Am I training in the right zones? Enough concentration on the little things? What do you recommend? Why? How? Etc..."

First, they're asking the coach on the "little things" (since Coach is taking care of the "big thing"). Second, they care enough to think about it, find articles, ask what to do, etc.

So... that's the first step, as I explained. Then I decided a presentation juxtaposition would be appropriate:

I gave a presentation at the University of Minnesota last fall alongside Meghan Peyton, a team USA professional runner. She presented first as she had to hurry off to the press conference for Twin Cities Marathon.

Her story was: She won almost all of her State Cross Country meets in high school and then went on to be a super-star at a D1 college. She immediately signed a pro contract and has been competing since. She has a National Championship under her belt. I definitely admire her and her success.

Hard to back that up as the second presenter, right?

Meghan, 2013 National Championship 20k
I started my story/presentation: I was All-State in high school, but never top 15 at state, and never won any big invites. I tried HARD, though. I ran more miles than anyone on my team each summer, male or female. I decided to run college at Gustavus, a D3 school, even though I had offers at the D2 and D1 level. I did well at GAC, setting 5 school records and competing at NCAAs 4 times. But I was always just shy of that All-American mark at NCAAs.

Fast forward 5 years. I was working a high-paying corporate finance job. I had just run a 1:24 half marathon. I was so pumped; it was a great race for me. I told my husband I wanted to try to go for my OTQ. He gently reminded me that I would have to run two 1/2 marathons back to back FASTER than what I had just run in order to qualify.

I contacted Jerry and asked if he'd be willing to coach me. We locked arms, ready to fight for it. Two "blue-collar" individuals. He, a retired HS coach. Me, well, you know my history. He handed me the Olympic Trials qualifiers to date when we met. There were about 20 on the list: Shalane, Kara, Desi, Katie McGregor, other multiple D1 NCAA champions and professional runners. Keep in mind that I had never even finished TOP 35 at D3 Nationals. It was his subtle way of saying, "this is crazy".

We set to work. I woke up every day with a fire in me to do something, prove I could do something. Every few months I'd reflect on what I could do better. He would nod his head in agreement. First it was strength, so I called a high school running teammate to write a plan for me. Then it was training partners. There were so many times that I asked anyone and EVERYONE (including those poor Red Wing YMCA masters runners with knee braces that tagged off to pace some 200m segments during my 1k repeats!) to help me pace those workouts. I needed every second.

I need regular hip alignment to keep me healthy. Enter Jim Patterson. Then mental prep. Enter Dr. Asp.

I could not be more thankful.

Fargo Marathon Win!
Little did I know it, but I was forming a tight-knit, rag-tag, cast of characters all willing to help me to get to something that should have been "impossible". They believed in me, I believed in them. Fully. It was "Team Nichole".

Except, the goal wasn't impossible. I made it, I qualified. 2:44, well under the qualifying time. It was one of the best days of my life. I have that "team" to thank for it.

The point of the long story to this athlete was that you can take moderate talent and make it great. I did not have the talent to run with those individuals in 2012. I am not a Meghan Peyton. I was probably one of the least qualified to race there (based on past results). I just plain WANTED it, and was able to turn that fire into a dream come true.

Mesa has trained so many miles with me! Thank you Stunt Puppy! (See the team page for a big discount)
I wouldn't have changed anything. All those miles, all that hard work, all those "little things" that I struggled to get in because time is short. I unintentionally assembled "Team Nichole" (individuals, professionals, and sponsors!) to get there. I am SO happy with what I've achieved.

I wanted it. I wanted to make it happen. I did. You can too.

The fire is there for that athlete. Start assembling your team and start thinking of those little things. Let the fire burn brighter. Every second counts.

One shot, one opportunity. Prove yourself.

* If you want to chase your impossible, I have the ability to take on one more individual for coaching. Contact me! nichole (dot) porath @ gmail.com

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