Virtual Marathon Training


I started running in middle school — so our school’s team would have enough girls to qualify for participation ribbons. (I could barely survive the mile run so electively running two miles seemed absurd, but my longtime grade school crush was an excellent runner and on the boys team and so I signed up.)

I joined cross country in high school, so I could find friends for that transition during the summer practices. (These same treasured friends and I just wrapped up a birthday eve Zoom session, so it worked.)

I ran in college when I was sad or frustrated, and signed up for my first half marathon as a way to heal a broken heart.

I ran when I moved to Des Moines to explore my new hometown, and some of the first dates Joe and I went on during the fall of 2007 were runs, training for the Living History Farms Off-Road Race.

I’m not fast. I’m not even particularly consistent. I finally laced up my running shoes again last year and completed the Dam to Dam 20K as proof I could show up for myself after becoming a mom. After I crossed the finish line last June, I decided I would try for a life goal — completing a marathon. I’m hesitant to use the word “run,” since if you were to watch me it’s more of a slog. (Slow jog.)

And then COVID hit and the marathon I’d registered for was cancelled. I moped for a day, and then decided that a pandemic was actually the perfect time to train for the virtual marathon opportunity they offered. After all, when you’re working and parenting in quarantine, a few hours listening to podcasts alone feels pretty good.

I’ve mapped out a route and — weather permitting — plan to do 26.2 on June 20. My only goal is to finish in the sub-6 hours that is required, and I think I can do it. It’s not going to be the same experience, and it probably won’t be pretty to watch, but I am keeping a promise to myself.

I’m looking for a cheer squad and have created a singup  for anyone local who is interested. Times on the signup are approximate but Joe will also be riding a support crew and can give real-time updates. I’ll be starting at home and running through Waterworks Park, Gray’s Lake, the Des Moines River Trail, Easter Lake and back up to the Capital. I was supposed to be running along Lake Superior, so trying to recreate the waterfront vibe!

If you’re not local and want to support me, let me know:

You can call me at some point along the route (I probably won’t be able to talk back!)


I know lots of people run for a cause and that having supporters contribute helps you feel accountable to finishing. I’d love for anyone interested to donate to Friends of Des Moines Parks toward a memorial project to honor my friend Lauren, who was killed this spring by a crazed driver while she was out walking her dog on a Sunday morning. We’re having a human/dog water fountain put up in Witmer Park. I’ve been thinking of Lauren so much on my long runs. She was so full of life and active and when running another mile feels impossible, I think about her tenacity and generous spirit and how it was taken much to soon.

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