Oct 5

Marathon Training (The True Story) & Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes


Marathon Training (The True Story) & Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes by Cookin' Canuck

It’s been quite a year. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that one year ago, I was 30 pounds heavier (see the “before” photos), intensely unhappy about where I was with my appearance and fitness level and wallowing in self-pity (oh, there were a lot of tears). And now, here we are. It’s two days before my first marathon and I can hardly believe that I am actually going to run 26.2 miles. Crazy.

Believe me, it hasn’t all been peaches and roses.

One year ago:
Many of you have already read about my health and weight loss journey, so I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say that I was sick and tired of thinking about my weight, standing in front of the closet each day, wondering which shirt I could wear to cover the unsightly muffin top.

I don’t know what clicked in me, but whatever it was, it clicked hard. I put my head down, focused on making some life changes and came out of the whole thing 30 pounds lighter.

I’m going to throw in some of my favorite carbo-loading recipes throughout this post. Here is the first batch:

Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes by Cookin' Canuck
Healthy Lasagne with Turkey, Pesto & Peppers
Israeli Pearl Couscous with Prosciutto, Asparagus & Mushrooms
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Salmon, Tomatoes & Herb Dressing

Eight months ago:
It seemed fortuitous that I posted on Twitter, “Does anyone have any good recommendations for running tanks?”, just as Cindy of Once Upon a Loaf was scanning her Twitter feed (here is Cindy’s Twitter stream). You see, Cindy is not only a fellow food blogger, but she is also a certified running coach and one of the most inspiring people I know. It was an easy, comfortable friendship from the start and I am so excited at the prospect of meeting Cindy in person in April when both she and my husband run the Boston Marathon. More on Cindy later.

Six months ago:
In April, I stood at the starting line at the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon, butterflies fluttering in my stomach, knowing I was about to do something big (well, big for me anyways). It wasn’t my first half-marathon, but there was something distinctly different about this one. I wrote about my thoughts and training process in this post.

Marathon Training (The True Story) & Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes

Sure enough, 13.1 miles later, I had smashed my PR (personal record) by 12 minutes and finally knew that I had run like I meant it. Here’s the story of that day.

Four months ago:
After watching my husband (S) run his ninth (!!!) marathon, I started to toy with the idea of running a marathon. Was I completely crazy? Did I honestly think that I could work in 15-, 18-, and 20-mile training runs, let alone complete a 26.2 mile race? I let S in on my thoughts and we started to sift through various marathon websites.

We finally settled on the Portland Marathon. It’s not too far away from Utah, it’s a fantastic city for scenery and food and the marathon is known for being beginner-friendly. Though that last point always makes me chuckle. Is any course 26 miles long really that friendly?

We typed our names and credit card number onto the registration field and then S made me click the “Submit” button. There was something about pressing the mouse and seeing the “Confirmed” message that made it all seem very real. Suddenly, I was terrified.

Who was one of the first people I told? Cindy, of course. And with that, the coach was put into action. After gathering various information from me (previous training details, health overview, history of injuries and my goals and dreams), Cindy put together a comprehensive plan that not only included the workouts I would be completing each week, but also various thoughts on keeping my body healthy and fueled during the process.

During that same month, a group of amazing women came together and we formed a fun group, intent on inspiring people to run their first 5k races. And so, Red Faced Runners was born. Be sure to check out our current challenge.

Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes by Cookin' Canuck
Turkey Cannelloni with Roasted Peppers & Spinach
Shrimp, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Asparagus Pasta in White Wine & Garlic Sauce
Whole Wheat Pastas Salad with Beans, Capers & Yogurt Dressing

Two months ago:
And here is where the “not so perfect” part starts. In the middle of August, the boys and I went to visit my parents in Victoria. My training was going really well. I hit each mark Cindy laid out for me, taking joy in feeling myself get stronger and embracing the rest days.

Five days before the end of our visit, I went out for a 10-mile run. About 5 miles in, a persistent pain crept along the arch of my left foot. I stopped to walk a couple of times, took off my shoe to massage my foot and adjust the laces, and tentatively tried running a couple more miles. I cut the run short and headed straight back to my parents’ house to ice my foot and pop some Ibuprofen.

The next two days, I didn’t run at all. If the injury was just starting, why not nip it in the bud right away? Ice, Ibuprofen…rinse and repeat.

Two days later, I tentatively headed out for another run, practically holding my breath and hoping like anything that all would be well. Not so. The pain persisted and I knew I was in trouble. I skipped my 18-mile long run that weekend, which would have been my longest run up until that time. I was bummed.

A few days after I returned (and many icing sessions later), the pain still nagging me, I sat down to figure out the mileage on my running shoes. Typically, I change out my shoes about every 400 miles but hadn’t been good about keeping track with those shoes. I began adding and watched in horror as the number on the calculator got bigger and bigger. 860. Yes, 860 miles on my shoes! I texted Cindy and could practically hear her pass out across the cell phone airwaves. New shoes…stat.

To the doctor I went. Three x-rays and a physical exam later, he determined that I didn’t have a stress fracture, but there was a prominent heel spur sticking out of my left heel. Super. Heel spurs are actually the body’s way of healing itself and my “little” problem had probably been in the works for months.

And then he uttered the words that no runner wants to hear. Plantar fasciitis. *Cue the horror movie scream.* The plantar fascia is the thick connective tissue that runs along, and supports, the arch of your foot. When this tissue becomes inflamed, it can cause pain from your heel to your arch, to your toes. Not good. Not good at all.

Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes by Cookin' Canuck
Quick Ravioli with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Arugula & Hazelnuts
Chicken Pasta Salad with Plums, Feta & Cumin Dressing
Baked Pasta Shells with Beef, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach

During all of this time, I took off two weeks from running. Even though I was keeping up my cardio by swimming and biking, I felt my marathon dreams slipping away. I did some exercises I found on YouTube (seriously, I’m the doctor’s worst nightmare), but could feel that things just weren’t getting any better.

After one of my tearful sessions where the glass was looking considerably less than half-empty, my husband put the phone and the doctor’s referral slip in my hand, and insisted I call the physical therapist.

I walked into that first appointment, full of doubt and apprehension. What if the physical therapist told me that I was crazy for even considering the marathon at this point? What if he told me I just wasn’t destined to run a marathon, that I should stick to short distances? A year ago, that wouldn’t have been a big deal. But now, I am in a different place, and something less than reaching that goal seems unfathomable.

Poke, prod, stand, sit, massage…and then he pulled out his Ninja tools (Cindy’s name), otherwise known as Graston blades. He scraped the bottom of my foot, along the arch (ouch!), and along the ball of the foot and heel, using specially designed, blunt steel blades. The idea is to break up the scar tissue that has formed and, ultimately, makes you overcompensate when walking or running. “I’ll give it a shot,” I thought. Β What did I have to lose?

I worked at the exercises the pt gave me, went in for additional Graston blades treatments and only ran when he taped my foot in such a way that my arch was supported. With his (and Cindy’s) blessing, I began running again and gradually increasing my mileage.

There was still some pain along the way, but I could feel improvement each time I went out to run. I became hopeful again. Maybe the marathon wasn’t completely out of reach.

Marathon Training (The True Story) & Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes

Over the past weeks, I built up my mileage and finally completed a 20-miler two weeks ago. Was my training everything I wanted it to be? Nope. My mileage for the whole training period dipped well below what I intended, I cut out speed work altogether and I’m still uncertain if my foot will give the “okay” for the full marathon.

But I’m doing it. On Sunday morning, S and I will lace up our running shoes and head to the start line together. We’ll say our good-byes and “good luck”s to each other (S will likely finish about 1 1/2 hours ahead of me) and we’ll both dream of the moment when we see our boys, my parents, S’s parents and S’s brother and girlfriend near the finish line.

Was it all worth it? Even though I haven’t crossed the finish line yet, I can sincerely answer that question with a resounding, “Yes!” I learned something about myself on this journey.

Marathon Training (The True Story) & Carbo-Loading Pasta Recipes

I learned that I can overcome an obstacle that sits directly in my path.

I learned that I can run 20 miles without stopping.

I learned that I can push through the wall.

I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was.

I learned that I want to do this all over again.

Thank you for all of your support and encouragement along the way.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Terri A. October 5, 2012 at 6:27 am

Good luck! You are truly an inspiration!


2 marla October 5, 2012 at 7:12 am

Congrats on this journey Dara!! Take care of yourself and try to enjoy the experience as much as possible. I can’t say the end is a breeze ~ but certainly doable and life changing! Can’t wait to hear your reports after the race! XO


3 bridget {bake at 350} October 5, 2012 at 7:15 am

You.Are.Amazing!!! So excited and happy for you!!! Can’t wait for the post-marathon post!!!


4 RavieNomNoms October 5, 2012 at 7:16 am

Good for you!! You are an amazing person! You are going to do fantastic!


5 Maria October 5, 2012 at 7:23 am

GO Dara GO! You are amazing…in so many ways! We are cheering for you and Steve! GO get em!


6 abbi October 5, 2012 at 7:31 am

Two years ago, I ran my first marathon. Throughout the ups and downs of that process, I learned more about myself and my abilities than anything else in life so far. Very cliche to say, but it is true. Best of luck to you, enjoy the journey!


7 Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray October 5, 2012 at 8:15 am

So inspiring!! Good luck in your race! πŸ˜€


8 elizabeth @ chronic venture October 5, 2012 at 8:19 am

this is so inspiring; you are going to kick some ass in that marathon! enjoy it!


9 Lori @ RecipeGirl October 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

I will be there with you every step of the way!! Seriously, I hope you hear all of us cheering you on as you run this race!!! How did I miss that they said you had PF? You are DANG LUCKY that you were able to heal it so quickly. I was in PT for such a long time and couldn’t run for like 6 months. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case for you. Your story today made me a little teary… so very happy for you and all you have accomplished. You are truly amazing and inspiring. GO DARA!!!


10 Stephanie @ LiveCookLove October 5, 2012 at 8:35 am

Congrats on finishing 20 miles!!! What a huge accomplishment! And good luck on Sunday, can’t wait to hear that you did it!!!


11 Stephanie October 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

I’m also running my first marathon this year – Richmond on Nov. 10th. Knock on wood, I’ve been lucky in the injury department. After IT band issues during my first half-marathon and major calf cramping during my second, I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle a marathon. I completed a 23-mile training run this past Saturday and lived to tell the tale so bring on the marathon! Good luck this weekend!!! I look forward to a recap on the other side.


12 Liz October 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

congrats on all your accomplishments, your posts are inspirational. I have just run my first 8 K, this was truly something that I never thought I would be able to do. I will be cheering for you this weekend! Do you think the sound will travel from Victoria? BTW, there is a new run in Victoria that you should try. It is called the “Goddess Run”. xxoo


13 Jen @ Savory Simple October 5, 2012 at 9:32 am

You are so incredibly inspiring! I’ve been watching the red faced runners for awhile now and I have my first running date with a friend next week. I too am tired of always worrying about my weight and what shirts will hide my tummy. It’s no way to live.


14 Elizabeth @Food Ramblings October 5, 2012 at 9:47 am

Congrats on your journey! I started my running two days ago…haha….you are an inspiration!


15 Becky October 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

Best of luck to you Sunday! Trust the training! You put in the hard work already so relax and enjoy it (as much as you can anyways!) I am running the Victoria marathon on Sunday and was thinking the other day that I am not sure if it is better or worse to have done one before (I have done a few) – is it better to know what to expect or is it better to not know? The first is always the most memorable though regardless!


16 Heather October 5, 2012 at 10:20 am

Have a great run on Sunday! Running and finishing my first marathon is truly something I’ll never forget and I’m sure it will be the same for you. I hope you get great weather and a candy station! πŸ˜€


17 Holly October 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

Yeah! How exciting! Thanks for sharing your journey, you’ve inspired me to get outside and start running. I’m looking forward to hearing how your weekend goes.


18 Carolyn October 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

I am so excited for you, Dara! You know we are with you, every step of the way.


19 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar October 5, 2012 at 11:34 am

So happy for you! It’s been awesome following your journey and now you are about to join the marathoner club!! I can’t wait to hear the results!


20 Kari October 5, 2012 at 11:34 am

Good luck on Sunday! Your running stories and healthy recipes have been fun to read and are inspiring me!


21 Lori Boren October 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

My grandma gave me a link to your blog. I am in training for my first half marathon to be ran in Nov. I totally get what your saying about learning things about yourself in this process. Good luck on your Marathon!! Can not wait to read about it on your next blog.


22 carmen October 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Good luck Dara! I did my first (and only) marathon with the assistance of physical therapy, chiropractic and massage and it worked out! I’m sure yours will too.


23 Cassie | Bake Your Day October 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

You are amazing, Dara! I love that you shared this whole story, along with your progress along the way. Very inspirational! Good luck this weekend!!


24 Lauren @ Part Time House Wife October 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

So inspiring!!! Good luck! You’re so ready you’re going to kill this race! I’m stuck on half’s I’ve yet to build up the courage to do a full 26.2… I need a run bud. It’s awesome your hubby runs too, I really think that helps!


25 KalynsKitchen October 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I’m just so darn proud of you. I will be crossing my fingers that the foot will be okay for the whole time, but even if that is not in the cards, you have accomplished me so much!! Sending big hugs!


26 Karen Petersen October 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Yay for you!
That is so great.
I also am a runner and have done a marathon…so hard but so worth it in the end.
Good luck to you!


27 Carol October 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Good luck! Finishing the first marathon is such an accomplishment!


28 Jennifer October 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Good luck, Dara! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Thanks to your inspiring posts, I’ve enlisted “Super trainer” Cindy to help me train for my first Half in January.


29 Jonena October 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Congrats! And thank you for your involvement in RFR5K – love it :)
Have an amazing visit to Portland and an amazing race to you and yours!


30 Judy October 6, 2012 at 7:27 am

Sending love and luck from this side of the world, Dara. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with all that you have achieved, and wait with everyone else to hear your account of the marathon. Great going!!


31 Deborah October 6, 2012 at 9:25 am

You are truly an inspiration, Dara!!


32 Cindy October 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Like you mean it!! And YOU, love, truly do. Can’t wait to celebrate with you! I’ll be with you every step of the way in the morning. XOXO


33 Gerry @ Foodness Gracious October 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm

When I was reading this post I had to back up at the part of “after watching my husband (s)” I actually thought you had a few hubbies :/ Oooooppsyy, sorry πŸ˜‰
I can’t wait for your post on the marathon and I know you’ve done an awesome job regardless of anything else!


34 Denise October 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm

This is wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Congrats! Keep up the great work ….


35 Delishhh October 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm

What an awesome post. Your run was this past weekend and i am sure you did amazing. Very inspiring post!! I had a baby 7 months ago and i am still not to my regular running schedule, it’s hard to get back but reading this i just have to set goals.


36 Susie October 13, 2012 at 6:17 am

OK, now I’m feeling guilty, um INSPIRED, to get back to running. I just need a buddy to push me and I have the perfect one in mind. Maybe not a marathon for me, but a 10K in the spring for sure. I want to tighten everything up before my daughter’s wedding Memorial Day weekend and running will be a great stress reliever. Weddings = stress, right? Thanks, Dara – your timing is great – hope all went well in the City of Roses.


37 Vanessa @FrenchFoodieMom October 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Dara, what an amazing accomplishment. You look amazing – truly glowing.



38 Aggie October 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I’m very behind on reading as you can see. So much of your story this past year resonates with me…you are such a positive influence, motivation & inspiration! I am so proud of you!!


39 Kel September 23, 2013 at 11:46 am

Would love to hear another update on your running! Your story definitely inspired me. I am running my first marathon in NOV. I have had plantar fascitis since I was 13 years old — so just trying to manage it the best I can (with orthotics).


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