My CRAZY Goal: 40 by 40

It is time to come clean and fess up…one night I may have had one too many glasses of wine with a friend and announced that I wanted to run 40 marathons by the time I turned 40 years old. My goal prior to turning 30 was to run a marathon…one!  I accomplished this goal in at the Green Bay Cellcom Marathon in 2007.   At the time I made my 40 by 40 declaration I was 33 years old and had run 2 full marathons (my second being Cellcom in 2010).  My very sweet friend looked at me and nodded her head as any good friend would, but I could read her facial expression  and it went a little something like “sure whatever…have another glass of wine”.   To prove to her how serious I was I immediately when over to my computer and registered for the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2011.  This would jump start my training! All well laid out plans rarely unfold smoothly.  I did in fact train for the half marathon in Vegas, but ended up getting pregnant in addition to earning a finishers medal.  What happens in Vegas apparently doesn’t always stay in Vegas.  This derailed my plans to run a full marathon and complete 40 by 40, but I did not forget about it!

Life got busy and crazy with 3 kids, a full time job, and I was finishing up my Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh…training landed on the back burner.  A few years passed and my friend forgot about my goal, I however did not.  I dabbled in running and completed a few half marathons, but never got back into marathon shape.  In 2014 I decided I wanted to give the Fox Cities Marathon a try.  I trained in consistently throughout the summer of 2014 and decided to attempt a small marathon prior to Fox Cities to make sure I was ready.  I registered for the No Frills Marathon on a whim, traveled up to Minoqua, and ran one of the worst events of my life.  I underestimated the toughness of a marathon and it kicked my butt!  There were a few weeks in between the Fox Cities so I did my best to keep building a base and hoped for the best.  Fox Cities did not go much better than No Frills and I was ready to give up my 40 by 40 goal.  I rationalized that I had only told my friend, no harm to foul.  The problem is that I knew that I wanted to accomplish this goal. It was in my heart and kept whispering to me…quietly at first but it began to get louder throughout the year.  In May 2015 I ran the Cellcom half marathon.  After finishing I stayed to cheer on runners and wait for fellow Luxemburg teachers who were running the full marathon to cross the finish line.  As I stood there clapping and cheering it hit me…that should be me, not that it could be me, but that it SHOULD be me!

The next day I began training with a new found passion and focus.  I searched out plans, started following inspiring runner on Twitter and Facebook, and signed up for the HFM Maritime Half Marathon a few weeks after Cellcom.  I was going to run a marathon in Fall and it was going to ROCK! I refused to feel like I did after my 2 previous events.  I would trail consistently and respect the marathon distance as I had not done before.    I select the Lakefront Marathon as my goal race.  I had signed up for this race before, but did not train or show up.  Not this year. I was going to do this.  A few days before the HFM Maritime race my good friend Katie who was running the marathon got hurt.  Katie is the definition of a Bad Ass.  She is one tough runner who I respect greatly.  In talking with her I was worried that she would be out on the course and something would go wrong.  Her husband Tait was also running the half so we chatted about how we could help her.  I don’t know why the words came out of my mouth but they did I offered to switch to the full and start with Katie.  I run quite a bit slower than her and would be able to trail behind her in case she needed help.  At my pace she would be able to finish even with her injury.  The plan was to have Tait run the half and then find us on the course if something went wrong.

Crap! I was running a marathon 1 month after I ran the Cellcom half.  I had time to throw an 18 mile and 20 mile training run in (I did my 20 the week before the marathon and have continued to run high miles the week before every marathon I have run to date…it works for me, I know it is not typical).  To say that I was terrified was an understatement.  The morning of the race I was nervous.  At the start line Katie began together and stayed together for about a mile. She took off and I followed.  I saw her on the turn around and she looked strong…I continued to plug along.  The great thing about a marathon is that it gives you time to think.  Around mile 17 my nerves finally subsided and I began to think maybe 40 by 40 is possible.  Between mile 17 and 20 I did the math…I would have completed 5 marathons when I crossed the finish line, that meant would have 35 left to go in 3 years, roughly 12 events per year.  I don’t know if it was the joy of running or the exhaustion, but I believed that it was possible to achieve my 40 by 40 goal.  After the marathon I did not mention my crazy idea to Katie or Tait, but when I got home a signed up for a Fox Cities Marathon, No Frills Marathon, and Summer Solstice 6 hour Ultra.  I however did not say out loud to anyone that I wanted to run 35 more events before I turn 40.  This I have kept to myself.

So why now, why fess up and announce to the world that I want to run 40 marathons.  Well to be honest over the last few months I have changed. Running has provided me with the confidence to live more boldly, believe in myself, and challenge what I once thought was impossible.  As part of the Oiselle running group 2016 is all about being powerful and going big. So it is time to #WOMENUP! I am scared to fail and not reach my goal, but I refuse to let paralyze me.  I have 14 fulls & 2 ultras under my belt to date – 24 more marathon/ultras to go! 2016 is going to be EPIC, watch out world this bird is about to take flight.  (Sort of freaking out a little bit to post this…here goes nothing.

Update 7/17/16 – Half way there! I completed #20…Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN).

Update 11/9/16 – Just finished my last marathon of 2016…Milwaukee Running Festival (Milwaukee, WI). That brings me to a grade total of 22 marathons & 8 ultra marathons. 10 more events to go to reach my 40 by 40 goal!  Not to shabby.  It has been a wild ride since May 2015 when I decided it was time to get off the couch and back on the road. At that time I had completed 4 marathons in my lifetime.  I never would have expected that a year from then I would be where I at today.  My life is completely different and I am grateful for the kick in the butt to get me out running again.  At 38 years old I am in the best shape of my life, but more importantly I am the happiest I have ever been.  Life is too short not to live each day to its fullest and I embrace that concept everyday.  Now to lay down plans for 2017!!! Big dreams = big goals…stay tuned.

Update 1/24/18 – 2 races to go! Hard to believe that 40 is right around the corner.  Next race is the John Dick Memorial 50k 2/3/18.  What a difference a few years has made. I am grateful beyond belief for the wonderful friendships that have developed through running.  2018 is the year to complete the 40 by 40 goal!

Update 5/15/18 – 1 race to go.  Nothing like getting down to the wire (my 40th birthday is at the end of the month).  I had thought by this point I would be sitting with 40 races under my belt but Mother Nature had different plans this winter. Couple that with an injury and I am scrambling to finish this challenge up.  Saturday I ran my 1st race of 2018 at the Apple Creek 50k.  Cellcom Green Bay Marathon will hopefully be my 40th race.  Ironically this is race that started my journey into ultra distances.  I was inspired at the Chicago Marathon to “try”, but ultimately Cellcom was my 1st in 2007.  I never in a million years thought that I would be here today working to complete #40.  Back in 2007 as I crossed the finish line I said “NEVER AGAIN”.  Well, never say never!  So I’ve crossed my fingers and toes this weekend will be a success – 40 by 40 or BUST!!!

#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive


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