I ran my first Marathon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

About a year ago I was sitting on my sofa watching the news coverage of the Chevron Houston Marathon. As I watched the runners crossing the finish line I couldn’t help but feel inspired by them. They set a goal, worked towards it, and accomplished it. I made the decision then and there to sign up for the 2019 marathon. Before I tell you about my training schedule and the actual marathon, let me give you a little back story about my history with running.

The Backstory  

Let me start off by saying that I used to HATE running. I hated it so much that I signed up for band in middle school so that I wouldn't have to take any physical education classes- therefore I would not have to run. 

During my first two years of college I did a lot of sitting and eating and not a lot of working out so the freshman fifteen quickly turned into the sophomore thirty. The summer after my sophomore year I decided to do something about my weight gain and so I turned to running. I woke up and would head out for a three mile run about four days a week. I couldn't immediately run three miles without stopping, but I worked my way up to it throughout the course of the summer. At this point I still hated running but I saw the weight coming off so I kept on doing it. 

Fast forward to my last semester of college, I was so ready to be done with all of the homework and studying I had to do so for my elective credits I decided to sign up for a running class. You heard that right, I took and received college credit for a class where all I did was run... and I signed up willingly. I still didn't like to run, but in that moment I liked that for at least one class I wouldn't have to read until my vision went blurry or write until my hands were numb. I just had to run. 

After college I would go on a run here and there but for the most part I avoided it. Anytime I would see some uptick in my weight I would turn to running to get me back on track. 

It was the year of my wedding when I decided to start going to a 5:30am bootcamp four days a week in which two days were solely dedicated to running. I'll be honest, when I signed up I didn't know that all I would be doing was running two days a week, but nonetheless I stuck it out. During the five months leading up to my wedding I didn't miss a running class. Something strange also started happening... I started enjoying it. The class instructors were great. They paid attention and gave me pointers on my running form and they encouraged me and pushed me to run faster than I'd ever run before. It also helped that I was surrounded by lots of nice people who were also very encouraging. One of the instructors also told me that I should sign up for a half marathon because I was a good runner. I thought "Me? Yea that'll never happen." 

A few months after my wedding we moved to a different neighborhood and I stopped going to my morning bootcamp. I kept working out and going to other classes at my new gym and for the first time in my life I missed running. Thankfully our new neighborhood is right off of a running trail so I quickly added running back into my life. As the new year approached I was thinking a lot about what goals I would set and with my bootcamp instructors words still in the back of my mind I decided that I would sign up for and run a half marathon in the new year.

So the new year came along and I was fully prepared to sign up to run the Houston Half Marathon in January 2019. But then watching the news coverage of the 2018 Marathon and seeing so many people complete the full marathon I changed course and decided to shoot for the moon! 

Marathon Training 

Over the course of a year I went on 147 runs which took 103 hours to complete for a grand total of 624 miles. What those numbers don’t show is that I spent a lot more time mentally preparing for every run. On the good days I thought “I can do this!” and on the bad it was more like “What was I thinking signing up for a marathon? I’m not a runner. I’m not going to be able to run that distance.” I’d made a deal with myself when I started training to make no excuses, so even on the bad days I laced up and hit the trail. 

When I started my training journey the farthest I’d ever run was six miles and that was a struggle for me. With a year to prepare for the marathon I decided to slowly work my way up to different milestones. I'd gotten an Apple Watch for Christmas and downloaded the Nike Run Club App. The App lets you set your goal and creates a unique training schedule for you. With the App and my first 10k race scheduled, I started training. 

I ran my first 10k race on February 24, 2018 and it was brutal. I distinctly remember being at mile four and cursing myself for thinking that I could run a full marathon when I was having such a difficult time running 6.2 miles. I pushed through my self doubt and finished the race at just under an hour. 

After the 10k race, I continued my cycle of setting a goal for a longer distance and training for it. I did this to get to 15k and then to the half marathon distance. 

I ran my first ever half marathon distance on July 15, 2018. It took me almost two and half hours to cover 13.1 miles and it was the hardest physical and mental activity I'd done to date. I remember being so incredibly sore and wondering if it was even possible for me to run further. 

For the next month and a half I kept running but didn't have a set goal since official marathon training started on September 17.

The training plan that I decided to *mostly* follow was Hal Higdon's Marathon Training: Novice 1.  I say mostly because through week nine of marathon training I was cross training two to three days a week and running three days a week instead of the four running days prescribed by the training plan. From weeks ten through eighteen of training I stopped cross training and would run three days a week. I did this because the long runs were wearing me out and I needed more and more rest between training sessions. 

Weeks ten through fifteen of training were the worst. You'd think that going from running 15 miles to running 20 miles in six weeks wouldn't be a big deal, but for me it was. At the time I was hitting a wall at 15 miles and it took so much mental effort to finish the 16 mile, 18 mile, and 20 mile runs. Not to mention that I started experiencing symptoms of sciatica the week of my 18 mile run. 

My first attempt at running 18 miles was cut short. I started having a dull lower back pain that spread down my leg to my foot. My foot started to feel numb. I stopped running at mile seven to stretch in hopes that it would feel better. I ran two more miles before calling it for fear of an injury. During the next couple of runs I continued to experience those same symptoms. I wanted to see a sports doctor and the one I found didn't have an opening until after the marathon so I took a couple of days to rest and decided to get new shoes. 

Some rest and new shoes seemed to fix the problem! I am the worst at keeping track of how many miles I put on my shoes and I am sure I'd needed new shoes for weeks if not months before I actually got a new pair. I sure won't be making that mistake again.

With my sciatica symptoms gone, I finished off my training strong.

I ran my first Marathon! Chevron Houston Marathon 2019

I ran my first Marathon! Chevron Houston Marathon 2019

Race Day 

Finally on January 20, 2019, all of my training was put to the test. I was nervous and excited to be on the race course surrounded by so many amazing people who had all trained to reach the same goal, including my dear friend Andrew Palmer. We were finally within hours of reaching our goals and having something to show for all our hard work. When I crossed the starting line I couldn’t help but be emotional. I was now one of those runners I looked up to just a year before. I was someone who’d set a goal, was actively working towards it, and I was absolutely going to accomplish it. 

The energy of the crowd and spectators was contagious. I had a permanent smile plastered on my face for the first ten miles of the race. My family and friends where near mile seventeen of the course so getting to see them kept my spirits high. It was at mile twenty that I started to feel the dreaded wall sneaking up on me. I no longer had my family to look forward to seeing and I was entering a distance that I'd never run before. Self doubt crept in. Could I run 6.2 more miles? Would I have to stop and walk? Would my legs cramp up? For a few minutes I questioned if I would even finish the race. Then I decided to change my mindset. I started reciting running mantras to myself. "I think I can. I think I can." "It doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you don't stop." "She believed she could. So she did." "One mile at a time." "It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy everyone would do it." "The body achieves what the mind believes." Those mantras got me to mile twenty four. It was at that point that I decided to dedicate the next two miles to my grandparents. I said prayers for my grandparents that have passed and said a prayer that my last living grandmother would be around for years to come. I thought about all the wonderful memories I have shared with my grandparents and about how if they were there to see me they would be telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to. 

The last quarter mile of the race went by in a blur. The crowds were cheering and the finish line was in sight. I felt energized and ran the last distance with the biggest smile on my face. 

I finished my first marathon in 4:30:15. Even more important than my race time is that I went from thinking "Me? Yea that'll never happen." to proving that I can accomplish what I set out to do.

I ran my first Marathon! Chevron Houston Marathon 2019 I ran my first Marathon! Chevron Houston Marathon 2019

My Goals for 2019

Friday, January 11, 2019

I love starting the new year off fresh with new intentions, aspirations, and goals! Yes, I know I am late to the game with this post, but it's better late than never! Last year I set goals based on what I wanted to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis and it worked well for me. I even kept track of my progress on a custom goal tracker I created for myself that I will share with you on a later post.

For 2019 I am sticking to what I know and setting goals the same way I did last year! Before I list off my goals, I am only including new additions to my list below. The goals I am carrying over from 2018 include: drinking eight glasses of water a day, journaling everyday, working out four days a week, and reading two books a month. Here we go!


  • Take my vitamins everyday

    • Now that I am thirty I feel like I need to be taking even better care of my health and that includes taking vitamins. If you are reading this mom- I am finally listening to you! I have never ever been very good at taking vitamins, trust me, my mom has tried getting me to take them for years, but this year I am making it a goal to take a multi vitamin every single day!

  • Create and stick to a morning and night time routine

    • I am a creature of habit and love sticking to a routine. Don't get me wrong, a break from the ordinary is very much exciting in some aspects of life, but when it comes to my morning and evening routines I'd like to have something set up that I can stick to that helps prepare and end my day the right way. As it is right now I don't have a set routine and I know that it is throwing me off my groove. I may not go back to 4am wake up calls like I used to, but I do want to establish a better routine that helps start my day off right and not rushed. I also want a better night time routine that will help me relax and hopefully get better sleep. 


  •  Create Something 

    • Sometimes weeks go by where I feel like I have not expressed myself creatively. I'd like to take some time every week to create something for the fun of it. Whether that be painting, drawing, creating a digital pattern, putting together a memory book, or writing a blog post, I want to make sure to exercise my creativity on a weekly basis.


  • Practice my Photography Skills 

    • Did you know I once wanted to be a photographer? I blame my mom for always having a camera around. I've shot with film cameras, cameras that stored photos on floppy disks, and DSLRs. Over the last few years I haven't worked on my photography skills as much as I'd like too and I am hoping to get at least one practice day in a month. 

  • Cook a new meal

    • Last year Steven and I cooked a lot and we developed a good list of weekly staples. It is so easy to stick to that routine, but it does get a little boring sometimes. This year I would like to try to make at least one new recipe a month, weather that be a meal that we can add to our weekly rotation or a cheat meal. 

This Year 

  • Complete round two of Whole30 

    • Since completing our first Whole30 in April of 2018, you can read about that here, we've taken some of the lessons we've learned and implemented some Whole30 program rules into our weekly meal plan. Even though we try to eat clean 80% of the time, I do think there is a big difference in sticking to the program for 30 consecutive days, so we are going to do another round of it. 

  • Run a half marathon distance every quarter 

    • I spent 2018 training for my first marathon (happening January 20th!) and with no set race in the future, I don't want to lose all the hard work I put into running. Plus, I really love running! So for 2019 I want to reset and train to run a half marathon distance every quarter with hopefully each run being better than the last! Not to mention running will help keep me on track with working out four or more days a week.

  • Travel to two places I've never been to

    • I hate traveling. The physical act of traveling is exhausting, but I do LOVE to explore new places so traveling is just something I have to do. This year we are hoping to travel to a couple of fun places! One of them will be San Miguel de Allende for our friends wedding and another will be a trip to Europe. We haven't finalized where exactly in Europe we will be going, but I am pulling for London and Paris! We'll see! If all goes according to plan checking this goal of my list will be easy! 

  • Finish decorating our master bedroom and master bathroom 

    • Project #CasaKelley is slow going. We've been in our house for about 16 months and there isn't a single room that I would consider to be done. For starters, I had no clue what decorating direction I wanted to go in. Traditional? Modern? Eclectic? Farmhouse? SO MANY OPTIONS! Finally, last summer we started to get a couple of pieces for our master bedroom and things are coming together. Before moving onto the main part of the house I want to finish our master bedroom and bathroom because that is our sanctuary. I'm hoping this project is finished up early this year so I can move on to another room in the house. 

  • Refocus on my online business and create a plan for the year to come 

    • If there was one thing to say about my business in 2018 it's that I neglected it. My online shop remained open and I continued to respond to customer messages and take on custom orders, but I didn't put in the time and effort to design new digital downloads or keep up with my marketing efforts. This year I want to refocus and create a plan for my business. Last year I wrote about my business being in a transition phase and it's about time I tackle that and figure out what is next!

What are your goals for 2019?

2018 Goals Recap

Friday, January 4, 2019

Last year I shared my 2018 goals and did a monthly recap in an attempt to keep me accountable and I am so happy that I did so! While I didn't accomplish all of my goals, I did make an effort towards each of them and even checked off a few big ones off my list! Before I dig into my 2019 goals in my next post, here is a recap of how I did last year:

Daily Goals

  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day: 

    • For the most part I was really good about drinking water. I think it helps that I really only drink water and coffee and once 2pm comes around I skip out on coffee. 

  • Journal everyday: 

    • I'd tried journaling before and always failed because I put too much pressure on myself to sit down and dig deep every single day. This time around I was easier on myself and considered a list of what I did for the day as a journal entry. There were days when I had a lot to say and I am glad that I had a forum for me to get my thoughts out on. 

Weekly Goals

  • Workout 4 days a week: 

    • 2018 was the year that I fell in love with working out. I am a much better person when I get exercise in regularly. Not only does it help me feel accomplished, it also helps keep my anxiety in check which is good all around. For a majority of the year I actually worked out six days a week. I alternated between 3 days of strength/HIIT training and 3 days of running. That was my favorite routine because I felt like I hit all the muscle groups and it also offered variety. One of the programs I completed this year was Kayla Itsine's Sweat 12 Week Challenge, you can read my review about it here. Towards the end of the year when marathon training got really intense I scaled back and only did what my training plan called for, which was a short run, mid distance run, and long run. I may have cut the number of days I was working out but the amount of time I spent running made up for it! 

  • Cook a new meal once a week: 

    • The first few months of 2018 were spent trying out tons of new recipes in anticipation of our first Whole30. During this time I was cooking something new two or three times a week. Once we started Whole30 we had our favorite recipes figured out. After Whole30 we continued to cook all our favorite recipes week after week. I tried new recipes here and there but it wasn't a new one every week. 

  • Work from a coffee shop 1 day a week: 

    • I set this goal because I didn't want to spend all my time working from home in my pajamas. I always feel and am a lot more productive when I've gotten dressed and ready for the day and have somewhere to go. I didn't make it out to a coffee shop even week, but I did make an effort to get out of my pj's and into real clothes on work from home days.  

  • No TV or Social Media 1 day a week: 

    • I utterly and completely failed at this. I honestly did not think it would be that difficult to go a day without TV or Social Media but it is. I think in the entire year I may have purposefully disconnected a total of two days.  

Monthly Goals

  • Read 2 books a month

    • I've always loved to read. Growing up I was mostly a well behaved child and I kid you not, I once got in trouble for staying up late reading. What can I say, once I started reading the Harry Potter series I couldn't put it down! My goal for 2018 was to read 24 books and I ended up reading 26 books! 

  • Try a new restaurant

    • I have an ever growing list of restaurants I want to try so this was not a problem to accomplish. While we cooked at home a lot in 2018 I also got to try a ton of new-to-me restaurants around the city and country. 

  • Plan a girls night:

    • I think a night out or in with just the girls is a great way to reset and refresh and have a little fun. Steven and I do everything together and sometimes it is nice to spend some time apart doing things with our friends. While I didn't have a planned girls night every month I did make an effort to go out for coffee or dinner with a girlfriend here and there. I also got in a lot of girl time during my trips to NYC, California, and Mexico. 

  • Send birthday cards:

    • I think there is nothing more special than receiving a hand written card. I always love getting letters in the mail and I wanted to share that feeling with my closest friends and family. While the birthday cards were sometimes a little late - oops! - I did get them out and hope they made my loved ones day a little more special. 

Yearly Goals

  • Run a 10k: 

    • When 2018 started running 3 miles was a challenge for me. As a long term goal for the year I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon, therefore I broke down the goal and set "run a 10k" as one of my stepping stone goals. I didn't want to wait to long to accomplish this so I signed up to run my first timed 10k race on February 24, 2018. Running that first race was exhilarating! I loved being surrounded by other people working towards the same goal. In 2018 I ended up completing many 10k runs! 

  • Run a Half Marathon:

    • It's funny how the world works. Going into 2018 I set my sights on running a half marathon as my ultimate fitness goal. Just a few weeks into the year I was watching the Houston Marathon coverage on TV and was so inspired by what I saw that I decided to sign up for a full marathon there and then. Immediately running a half marathon became a stepping stone goal. I won't say running a half marathon is easy, because getting to the point where I could run 13.1 miles took a lot of consistent training and effort, but now that I am on the verge of running my first marathon, a half marathon looks like a walk in the park to me! I ran my first half marathon on July 15, 2018 and was so proud and oh so sore! Once official marathon training got started in September I ended up running a few more half marathon distances with 20 miles being my longest run. You read that right... 20 freaking miles. I am proud of all the training I did to get to the point where I could run (and walk a bit) for 20 miles. Now I am crossing my fingers that all that training pays off when I run my first marathon on January 20, 2019! 

  • Complete a Whole30:

    • Steven and I prepped for Whole30 for two months. Once March came around we had a great understanding of the Whole30 guidelines and had a list of our favorite compliant recipes. Getting through Whole30 was not exactly easy, but was not as difficult as I'd anticipated. You can read more about my Whole30 experience here. 

  • Plan our 30th birthday party:

    • Steven and I are both December babies and our birthdays are only three days apart. From the beginning of the year I had my heart set on going all out and throwing a big birthday bash to celebrate entering a new decade in our lives. As it turns out life had other plans for us. Just a couple of days before our birthday party I got a text message from my mom telling me about my grandmothers passing. Of course we immediately cancelled our party and headed off to my home town to be with my family. We ended up spending our birthday weekend surrounded by loved ones while mourning the loss of my grandmother.  The weeks that followed were very bittersweet. On one had I was sad that grandma Maria was no longer with us and on the other I was excited about entering my thirties. It was a weird feeling to be both sad and happy at the same time. I guess that's just grief. We ended up rescheduling our party for New Years Eve and while it wasn't the all out bash we had originally planned for, it ended up being a perfect night. 

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