• 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!

Pregnancy weeks 32-34

The last three weeks of pregnancy: Ab Ripper X, a 5k "race", and a lot of house projects/baby room prep!


Ab Ripper X, anyone?

About every 3-4 days, I swear I go through Tony Horton's Ab Ripper X routine. Except, instead of strengthening my core, I'm tearing it apart.

It's not terribly painful, unless an entire section of my abs "rip" at once. That has only happened once - it took my breath away - and left me with one section of my stomach that protruded out farther than the rest.... so weird!! The rest of the times have just been frequent minor "pings" in all different sections of my abdominals while on a run. I imagine a violin string being tightened too far & just snapping.

Usually it just happens while running or walking. Not sure why that is.... perhaps there is more strain on my abs during those activities. 

Although I'm sad to have my abs literally "rip" to accommodate a growing baby (I worked so hard to develop them!!!), I know it just means that baby is growing - so that makes it all worth it :). (right?!)

Other pregnancy symptoms:

I can tell my joints are starting to loosen up. The muscles/tendons/joints around my pelvis will sometimes will twist in a way they shouldn't be able to and I'm immediately alerted with a sharp pain. After my run today I noticed a little pain where my left leg inserts into the hip joint - again, I'm assuming due to my joints relaxing to accommodate birth.

32 weeks
There was a scare Sunday evening that warranted a call to the on-call doctor and for us to move the "hospital bag" downstairs. I'll spare you details. But, it did remind me that it's getting real. Yikes!

33 weeks
Other than that, there hasn't been a lot of the pregnancy front. I am measuring right on par (although I feel HUGE) and everything seems to be progressing as normal. Weight gain at my 34 week appointment was 18 pounds, which surprised me. I haven't been weighing myself at home for a couple of months, and I would have guessed much more. I have noticed that I require a little more sleep than normal, which I was warned about in the last month and a half.

GAC Alumni 5k!

This race is always a highlight. It's grown each year as more and more alumni make it a priority to come down to campus to run and/or compete.

I've always tried to recruit more Alumni women to compete, but without as much luck as the men's team. I preached that the meet is all about participation, not speed (well, for Alumni), but that didn't mean much coming from me when I'd come specifically looking to race. For some reason, women have a hard time coming to run/race when they aren't in top shape, they've been faster, etc.

I have never believed in that mentality, and those that know me know that's true!

I swore that I'd run the race no matter my speed, and this was my year to prove I meant it. I had a blast! I ran/walked the 5k, making sure that I didn't overheat because it was fairly hot and humid out. I thought I'd be dead-last (going from winning by 45 seconds last year to dead-last this year!), but turns out I was able to beat two other collegiate women. I'll take it! I finished in 29:04 - still in the sub-30 club at 7.5 months pregnant!

I had to wear one of Nate's large Gustavus XC shirts since none of mine fit :)

Baby's room coming together!

For not having a color or decor theme, and for finding all of the furniture on Craigslist for super cheap, the room has come together really well! I love it!

Artwork from my parents. The middle says, "First we had each other, Then we had you, Now we have Everything". It fits the room - and our utter excitement for this little one - perfectly :) 

Dresser (with matching end table): $25 on CL. Rocking chair: $15. A MEB signed NYC marathon race bag = priceless :)
Bassinet that Nate slept in as a baby
Other fun updates:

TNC athletes have been tearing up the late summer racing scene. Rael proved she's made tremendous progress despite hamstring trouble this summer and ran a 3 second PR at Northfield's Jesse James Days 5k!

Craig tore up the Endurance United 1/2 marathon, wining by 9 minutes. It wasn't even a contest :).

Craig cruising to the overall win. *Photo credits: Bruce Adelsman, Skinnyski.com
Lastly, a HUGE shout-out to Jeff who finished his first 100 mile ultra. Can you say WOW? Don't let his looks or goofy demeanor (or random squawking) fool you - he is one TOUGH competitor and I'm really proud to have him on the team and have watched him achieve so much this year!

Who wouldn't want to run 100 miles with this scenery? Ask Jeff what else he saw here - oh the fun hallucinations that happen in ultras... *Photo credits: Ian Corless

Jeff. He looks like he is having run, right?!? *Photo credits: Ian Corless
A couple more house projects:
Two more large projects, hopefully before baby comes: landscaping out front and entertainment system "stuff" (I have no idea what any of it actually is...) downstairs!

We're Nate is doing some of the excavating ourselves before the landscaping project starts to try to save a little money. 

Stunt Puppy is perhaps the *coolest* company/sponsor. Look at what they sent for baby!!!

I am so lucky. Seriously.
That's all for now folks. Stay tuned for a some "Baby Olympics" shower pictures in my next post! Until then, Run Happy!!

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Flip Belt and Wojo Wallet Product Reviews

Flip Belt and Wojo wallet: Two unique "runner" products!

First, I was asked to test the Wojo wallet. At first, I was pumped. I've always struggled with carrying cards (especially hotel key cards) and cash on a run - they always get really wet and I wonder if either 1) the key will still work or 2) how long I have to dry out the cash before I can safely put it back in my wallet.

This seemed like the perfect solution! It's a thick plastic sleeve that fits snugly over credit cards and folded cash.

But... I can't say that I was in love with it. Yes, it protected my cash and cards from sweat, but I didn't know how to carry it. Was I supposed to carry it in my hand? The sleeve made it big enough that it didn't fit well into any shorts pocket I had...

But then Flip Belt contacted me to see if I'd be interested in trying their product! I ordered an XS in teal, which obviously doesn't fit me now in my very-pregnant state - but after just playing with the belt, I know it's going to be just awesome for those "I need to carry cash/cards/phone/keys" with me runs. It's basically a piece of breathable fabric you wear around your waist that has several small slits in it for openings.

photo courtesy of sneakpeeq.com
I think this, in combination with the Wojo wallet, will take care of all of my carrying needs - and not look like I'm carrying the entire house with me.

Nate was jealous when mine arrived. I think he'd actually appreciate one for his marathons - an easy way to carry gels!

If you wanted to try one for yourself, they were generous enough to offer 33% off to readers: just use the code SPBLOG33.  Take a look at their site. Perhaps it would make a great gift?

My only concern would be adding fabric around your waist -- would that trap too much sweat and heat, then?

Does anyone else have any creative way of carrying items with them on runs?

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Assembling "Team Nichole"!

Something has changed.

Despite the fact that I am incredibly pregnant (read: huge), I've been more motivated than any other time during my pregnancy - heck, even before I became pregnant! Perhaps it's the fact that I can see "the end", so the running goals I have actually seem tangible. Those goals? They're huge. Impossible, even?

Last week I logged 20 miles in 5 days, the most I've been able to do in a while. I even did a 5 mile run with my husband and brother where I was able to run a complete the last mile without walk breaks. I was so ELATED after this run!!! *I. love. running.*

In addition to my sudden/unexpected running motivation, I've stared assembling the 2016 "Team Nichole" which has fueled my excitement for training post-baby even more!

First, I am so excited to announce that Generation UCAN has decided to renew me for the next year!!!!
I am in LOVE with their products, so I am ecstatic to have them on board! If you followed me last year, you know that UCAN helped tremendously with the dizziness/concentration issues I've struggled with at the end of the marathon AND also helped me to become a better fat-burner and lean-down (for the first time in my life) for race day.
Before Generation UCAN 7-14-13
After fueling exclusively with UCAN for 6 weeks (8-31-13)
Curious for more UCAN information? Read my full review here.

Second, a familiar face has resurfaced: boom! nutrition

I used their products exclusively for years, after trying every other gel product out there. I love the consistency - not too thick (like Gu) or too thin (like PowerBar's gel). The flavoring is all natural as well: raspberry puree is the "flavoring agent" in their raspberry gel, for example.

The company restructured (previously known as carbBOOM!), and started re-distributing their products a couple months ago. Luckily for me, they contacted me to restart a sponsorship contract! Not only that, but they've offered to extend a smaller sponsorship to the entire TNC team! How awesome is that?!?

I cannot wait to start the next chapters in life: motherhood and professional running, and am SO lucky to have the sponsors I do to help make both possible! I am so lucky!! Let's get after this!!

Go #teamnichole!

2012 "Team Nichole"

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Pregnancy Weeks 29-31


Running update:

Things have been going so much better. Yay!

29 weeks
Running has been going awesome during weeks 30-31, and I find myself falling in love with the sport all over again. Chris now writes my plans in minutes and specifically writes workouts as X mins running/X minutes walking. For my "long" aerobic/easy days, he will write that I may expect to walk more than half of the time.

Then I can exceed "expectations" and that makes it more fun :).

30 weeks

30 weeks - growing steadily!

When I came back to running after my really sick week, running was freakin' hard. I found myself gasping for air after the slightest incline. I'd only be able to go a mile to a mile and a half. I wondered if this was going to be "it" for running for me.

Luckily, though, I stuck to it and just vowed to try to get out everyday. Everyday became progressively easier: my body became used to carrying around a little more weight and a bigger belly, and my lungs adapted to their ever-shrinking size and I was able to breathe a little better every day.

For the first 3 days of week 31, I've been able to do 3.5 miles, 4 miles w/ a 24 minute run/walk "workout" in it, and 4 miles easy. 3 great runs, back to back! Yay!

I'm visiting my parents this week so have been running at the farm or in Marshall. It's fun to rediscover the gravel roads at the farm, and very amusing to watch the reactions from the people around Marshall. I don't know if they're used to seeing a ~7 month pregnant woman running around town :). Most men will look at me, look down at my stomach, and then completely avoid further eye contact. It's amusing :).

Week 31!

Feeling great!
I think another aspect to the renewed love for running is that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have just 9 weeks until baby, which isn't long at all! I am dreaming of getting back to killing myself with mileage, strength, and all of the little things.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Baby Olympics!

I had an athlete/friend offer to help plan a pre-baby shower. She came up with a brilliant theme: "Baby Olympics" since my/Nate's goal was just to hold a co-ed celebration/party (I'm not that into traditional showers...).

Welcome to the party! $2 to pick a date/gender, winner takes all. If no one wins, money will be put to a jogging stroller!
It turned out just awesome. So many people came: current athletes, former athletes, family, neighbors, and friends. We ate and then ventured out for the Games.

First: Don't break your water! The object was to carry a water balloon between your legs from the start to finish, while carrying a 15 pound backpack on your front. Pregnant women just got to be themselves. This one received a lot of good laughter!

Hard not to laugh at this!
No need for a backpack for the preggos

Second: Stroller Nascar. The object was to drive your stroller, complete with baby, around the house without having your baby fall out of the stroller. The competition for this was FIERCE.

Third: The Baby Bottle Challenge. 8 ounces of the liquid of your choice (water, milk, or beer - surprisingly, most people chose beer :)). Object: to get the liquid down as fast as possible. Nipples had been modified to be more conducive for adults' flow, thoroughly tested by Nate and Craig.

Fourth: Diaper Dash! 'Nuff said.

My dad looks fierce! He's up against the "moms" of the neighborhood!
Fifth and final: The "baby mile" - basically a modified version of the beer mile

We celebrated with the Olympic Torch relay (should have been at the start, but it was a better closer).

MIL to Jerry (coach that brought me to the Olympic Trials) to my mom to me
We ended the night with gifts. People are so generous. I am speechless.


Home for the week:

While driving home, my dad insisted we splurge for a Chuckwagon. I haven't had one of these since I was maybe ~12 with him? Loved that I could curb that pregnancy craving with him :)
For all of you wondering, it was NOT as good as I remembered. Bummer.
I'm now home for the week, visiting my sister who is in from Denver. Sierra, my oldest niece, and I have definitely bonded.

She absolutely loves following me around. It's pretty awesome. Well, most of the time. Maybe that's why I've been running more while visiting her/younger sister - it's a break!
Today's adventures included running MULTIPLE times up and down the block and around the yard (with obstacles). She loved it. When I told her I wanted to finish my run, she promptly said: "Oh, that's okay! I'll go with you!". I had to employ great grandma to distract her while I snuck out for my 4 mile run.

I will cherish this photo forever! I love the look of pure joy/happiness on her face - and if that means I need to run up and down the block a million times with her, rack my brain for new things to cheer/encourage, I'll do it!
Once I was back, we had to practice running many, many more times :)

Another fun adventure was the eye doctor, while my sister had an exam/picked out glasses. I had the priviledge challenge of entertaining both girls. Sierra thought all of the glasses were "just beautiful!", and Violet started bawling the minute mom left. Ohhh, my.... I'm trying to look at these experiences as training for parenthood??


Before the baby shower I was able to coach a few of my athletes (and one former athlete) to a few timed miles. It was hot and humid, but Craig and Amy still cruised to awesome workouts. I was also able to watch Angela, a former athlete of mine, in action, which was a lot of fun.

I'm sure my mom was freaking out at the fact that I was gone for some of the "prep hours" before the shower, but eh - once I was out there with my athletes, I simply couldn't NOT coach. It's in my blood, so I'm so glad I was able to celebrate the shower with a workout before hand!

Other than that, it's mostly quiet on the coaching front! Most are logging miles in preparation for big fall goals, so I get the fun role of torturing them "just enough" and keeping them motivated, with the eyes on the end prize!

That's all for now, folks!
Until next time, run happy!!

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Gearing up for the "Baby Olympics"

Tonight we'll have our co-ed baby shower - appropriately dubbed the "Baby Olympics".

I've been cleaning the house and prepping food, and Nate and Rael have been planning the "events". It should be a great time - and quite entertaining :) !

Welcome! I can't show pictures of any of the games or props just yet - wouldn't want to give anyone time to practice!
After the party, I'll recap the last two weeks of running/pregnancy. I'm at 30+ weeks, so there are less than 10 weeks to go. Yeah!!

30 weeks!

Now when I go on a walk or run, most women stop to say something :). Yep, unmistakably pregnant now! 

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Poll: Help Decide Craig's Facial Fate

A while ago Craig shaved his beard off for the first time in a long time. After I said I liked it, he said that he hated it. Ha.

There have been other conversations about his beard as well (weird, yes)... so, being the great friend I am, I decided to make use of my corner of the internet to help him decide what he should go with going forward.

Keep in mind that Craig is single - so that *should* weigh into your vote (guess I am biased... but just because ultra runners usually have unruly beards and that might be "cool" in that world doesn't mean that's what Craig should do... just saying...)

Also keep in mind that you are not voting based on the quality of the photo - rather just the beard length that fits this man the best.

Most random post I've ever done, and first poll ever, commence!

Full Beard:

"Full beard" (in quotations because it will get much more unruly during ski season). 
Trimmed Beard:

Stillwater race... a trimmed version of what the beard used to be
Just Fuzz:

Nice selfie
Clean shaved:

Mesa with Uncle Craig!
So serious...
So... time for a vote! Your beard opinions?!????

online poll by Opinion Stage

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Pregnancy Weeks 27-28

Time for a pregnancy and life update, and to announce the WINNER of the shirt giveaway!

Pregnancy/running update:
I spent a large portion of these weeks either: feeling great or leaning over a toilet, throwing my guts out.

Week 27 felt awesome. I ran more than I have in a while, and every mile felt comfortable. I relished this feeling, since I knew my belly was growing by the day :) I think I also went 4 days without major heartburn/throwing up, which was a record!

27 weeks
And again
Week 28 came with a vengeance, though. Monday and Tuesday I threw up both in the mornings and evenings. Tuesday evening I went for a "run" with Nate and Craig and felt soo clumsy and out of it, maybe because my caloric intake had been so low for a long time? We ran 1.3 miles at a 10:35 mile pace. My slowest mile yet!

Wednesday morning I woke up as nauseated as I have been. I broke down after a round of vomiting and dry-heaving and just curled up in bed next to Nate and cried a few tears. Nate suggested eating a little something to calm my stomach. That immediately came up and sparked endless vomiting. *Sigh*

Nate called the clinic, asking to talk to the doctor on call.

Two options: some knock-you out anti-nausea pills or bring her into the ER for fluids and anti-nausea medication.

I opted for the at-home medication, and Nate insisted that I couldn't drive to pick it up. I put up a little resistance here, since it meant he would have to come into work late. Instead he gave me a bucket and told me to go upstairs. Lo-and-behold, I didn't even make it up 3 stairs before I conveniently got to use the bucket. Guess it wouldn't have been a good idea for me to drive, after all :).

It turned out great. The medication wiped me out, hard, for 5 hours. Nate went along to work. Ahhh. So nice to sleep and not feel so sick!

Since starting those meds, I can happily say I've only had a few rough patches! YES!!!

Week 28

Week 28
In non-vomit-filled pregnancy news, baby is growing steadily! My 28 week appointment went great, despite failing the 1 hour glucose test. I'm feeling quite huge now, but that's okay - less than 11 weeks to go!!

Jumping the gun, but had to post the pictures from today - I'm 29 weeks!

And that is one definite bump! Notice my "Baby Got Track" shirt? :)
Oh, and can I say cravings? Gees! Food has never been this way for me! The other night I so badly wanted a corn dog. Being too rational about it, I did not ask Nate to make a late grocery run... or a run to Faribault where their DQ actually does have a grill that sells corn dogs (which would be much better than any home-baked version, let's be honest)... but truth be told, I really, really did want that crazy corn dog. I should probably send him out at least once for a late night run, right? Isn't that just something you have to do?!? :)

My other kick lately has been chocolate milk.

If it's bad for me, greasy or fried, or cheesy, I'll take it. It's like I'm craving all of the things I ate as a child... maybe that means I'll have to get a Chuckwagon microwave sandwich at some point. Maybe in a few weeks when I'm home with my dad. We ate these together on any road trip and errand we could - when mom wasn't around :).

My dad was cooler than your dad :)

Our CSA/garden:

We've had an abundance of awesome, fresh vegetables from our garden and CSA share. It's been fun to experiment with different recipes! Here are a couple fun ones:

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam:

Very easy! It used up a ton of rhubarb from the garden, so the sugar and a pint of strawberries were the only cost.

Nate loves it on plain ice cream. I think I'll make another batch for the freezer this weekend.

Recipe found here.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam - 
Zucchini pizza subs:

Recipe here, but please sub the marinara sauce for this homemade pizza sauce (also is great to make and freeze!). It is SOO good!

Chicken oriental salad:

Literally made from ALL CSA/garden fresh items! The dressing = not as healthy, but it's still homemade, so that counts, right?

I think this is one of my all-time favorite salads. There's nothing fancy about it, just a lot of cabbage, some lettuce, green onions, carrots, and chicken if you desire.

The dressing is simple to put together as well:
3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp sesame oil

Top with chow mein noodles. Easy as that!!

Our CSA hosts two potlucks throughout the growing season. What a wonderful idea! Craig is also a member (see him standing, far right). Nate is in the chair just to the left of him.
Another perk of the CSA: I can pick flowers from their fields every week. How fun!!
Brightens the counter every week :)

Baby prep:

Nate's busy on a lot of house projects! He's staining our deck here, which desperately needed it.
The in-laws gifted bean bag boards to Nate and I as an early Xmas gift. How awesome! 
I promptly ordered custom Gustavus athletic shield logos to put on them. Can't wait to see how they'll turn out!

Nate and I decided it was most democratic to have Mesa pick the giveaway winner, since there were too many names that we knew (and knew the sayings they picked would be PERFECT for them!).

Nate thought it would be a good idea to take video of the event, which I am not certain of... I am not known for my on-camera skills :).

But... check out both videos to see if you won!



For those of you who didn't win, but found a fun, super-soft shirt logo you really liked (Craig and Sharon - your selections were particularly "you" :)), head on over to iamfunnyshirts.com and order one! Use the code: NICHOLEROCKS for 20% off!

To sign off, I leave you with two things:

This catchy country song, brought to you by my corn dog and greasy/fatty food cravings. You're welcome for a well spent 3 minutes of your life :).

And this:

Ahh, puppy love :).
Run happy, my friends!

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