Realization of Dreams

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetI have been waiting to write this blog post for some time. I have finally had my breakthrough in my favorite race distance, the marathon. I will do a race report below, but here are my results and finish video. I came in 4th place in the US Marathon Championships with a 2 minute PR of 2:35:20. (5:56 per mile) My previous PR was 2:37:28 set in 2011! Garmin Splits, elevation chart, etc. here:

*new goal* = work on running tangents. Oof!

me, Alanna- who came in 2nd place female at the Twin Cities 10k!- Brett, and Ricardo

me, Alanna- who came in 2nd place female at the Twin Cities 10k!- Brett, and Ricardo

Race Report

I have to be completely honest. It took a lot of self-talk, visualization, and mantras to get to the starting line feeling confident on Sunday. I ran two races this summer to get ready for Twin Cities. A 10k at Cypress which I felt I underperformed in 35:33. It was a very warm day. Not many people know this, but I also had my very first DNF at the AFC Half Marathon in August, another very warm day. Nothing like standing on the corner in downtown San Diego in bunhuggers waiting for a ride… I think my icy Baltic blood is not favorable to warm conditions, ha!

All of my training runs up in the mountains were fantastic. Instead of track work, I ran tons and tons of hills, hill repeats, and fartlek style workouts. This was new to me, running by feel instead of timed intervals due to the 6700 ft. altitude. In September we started coming back down to Phoenix to get some sharpening in. All of my workouts were fabulous….except my two time trials. I was going for a 10k PR on the track and we called it at 8k. It was already 85 degrees at 5:30am and the monsoons brought humidity as well. Lucky for me, 2 weeks later when I ran a 10 mile at marathon pace, I was blessed with the same exact weather! During my 10 mile, I had to stop for water a few times and get myself together. Definitely not my day, and definitely not confidence boosting. I know that you never want to count on any kind of temperature on race day and that you should be ready for anything, but this is when I started praying for a cold race morning! I began flipping through my training log and looking at all of the workouts that I had nailed and reminded myself that in the cooler 65 degrees up north, I felt so much better on all of my runs and I actually was very fit.

To mentally prepare after a few setbacks, I created a stack of mantra ‘feel good’ cards. Many of my quotes came from Coach John, friends, and family. This might sound super creepy, and it was to me at first too, but I recorded my own ‘visualization’ using techniques learned from Dr. Asp and Dr. Afremow. I made the recording specific to the Twin Cities course and listened to it in my epsom salt baths. I really feel like this helped me improve my mental game. I replayed it in my head during the race, especially during those hard miles.

Bottom line is that I knew I had worked very hard all summer and I trusted my training. I did some new things this cycle and I had faith that my coach knew what I needed. John believed in me and I knew if he did, I should.


This is what I ate the day before the race: Breakfast: Coffee, 6 mile run, coffee, oatmeal, banana, Trader Joes strawberry cereal bar. Snack– Pretzel thins with 2 tablespoons almond butter, Lunch– white rice mixed with almond milk and honey, 4″ sub with just turkey on it, Metamucil. Dinner– Rice with almond milk and honey, bagel. I also drank Osmo Active Hydration throughout the day and had tea before bed. Pretty simple stuff! I try to get most of my eating done on Thursday and Friday before the race so that I avoid over-loading my GI system the day before the race.

What I ate race morning/Race: Four hours before the race I ate an Udi’s Gluten Free bagel. I don’t have wheat aversions, but I chose it because it packed in a more calories plus fat and protein than a regular bagel. I wanted something with a bit of staying power. I had honey on top and a scoop of Tailwind sports drink for a total of 490 or so calories. Three hours prior to the race start, I had a big cup of coffee. I sipped on water throughout the morning and 45 minutes before the gun went off I had 1/4 of a caffeine pill (50mg) and two Pepto chewables.

During the race I had 50 or so calories in my water bottle at each of 8 elite fluid stations. At mile 11 and mile 17 I had 1/4 caffeine pill mixed in my fluids. I had zero gut issues and felt great even after the race.

The Race

I felt really good. My parents always tell me to go out and HAVE FUN! I definitely did. I negative split the course on a hillier second half. I ran a lot of the course on my own but the entire time I was trying to close in. This was perfect for me as I always had someone in sight to keep me motivated and pushing. I went through my mantras and thought about all of the hills I ran all summer to prepare for the big climb at mile 20 of the race. Were there hard miles? Absolutely. I saw a tweet the week before the race and it said something to the effect of making a promise to yourself on race day, but be careful because you can’t break it. My promise to myself was to not let up on those late miles. Those miles 16-20 where you are nowhere near the finish yet but you are definitely feeling like you want the race to be over. I feel like I kept my promise to myself and I stayed really strong. It definitely was a conscious choice that I had to work on and practice in my pre-race visualizations. It is so easy to let up when you are tired, hurting, and alone. So I am really happy that I didn’t let up or break my promise to myself.


Thanks Megan Thomas for the picture!

I won’t bore you with the play by play because honestly and thankfully, I never had any issues or outlier miles (besides the big hill). I started slow, eased into the pace and felt great. The weather was perfect, the course was perfect, and I was smiling the entire time. I think when I run I have resting smiley face instead of resting bitchy face, haha!

My friend Ruth and I. She had a great day as well!

My friend Ruth and I. She had a great day as well!





My cousin Anna ran the 10 mile and did so well!! My Uncle Erik was in town also! It was so great seeing them!

My cousin Anna ran the 10 mile and did so well!! My Uncle Erik was in town also. It was so great seeing them!

Anna and I.

Anna and I.

I love, love, love the Twin Cities Marathon. I had such a good time and the spectators and volunteers were amazing! Thanks to Mike Reneau and the rest of the TCM staff for the amazing hospitality. As my dad would say…”fantastic!” I love racing in Minnesota!

Based on how I felt this weekend, I know that I can improve my marathon time even more, and I am so happy that I never gave up on myself. The upswing begins!

One of my best friends from high school, Laura, braved the cold and watched the race with her beautiful daughter. It meant so much to me to have them there. Love.

One of my best friends from high school, Laura, braved the cold and watched the race with her beautiful daughter. It meant so much to me to have them there. Love.

Next up? I have been having fun this week eating ice cream and drinking wine.  After another week of downtime and gaining weight I will focus on easing back and running a good 10k PR on Thanksgiving.

Thanks to Matt who has ridden his bike alongside me for hundreds and hundreds of miles this summer, dealt with my craziness, and never stopped supporting me. True love. Thanks to John for believing in me and for giving me the tools to succeed. Thanks training partners Ricardo, Brett, JT, and the rest of my PFS and SDP teams. Thank you to my Mom and Dad and to the Hilborn’s for your endless support! Thanks sponsors Sonoran Distance Project, Brooks Running, Osmo, Garden of Life, and Sole Sports! Couldn’t do it without any of you. XO

With a big beer after the race. Following proper hydration and fueling of course...

With a big beer after the race. Following proper hydration and fueling of course…

Oh yeah, and we are moving to San Diego next week. Apparently we love moving. After a Packers win over Minnesota last Thursday, Matt found out he was offered his dream job on Friday, and then the race on Sunday….it was a good week. Looking forward to seeing this more often: 🙂


Run Happy friends!


  1. Ariana, I am so, so, SO happy for you! You looked super strong out there on the course – very focused and smooth!!

  2. Woohoo!!! I am so over the moon happy for you Ari!!! Hard work does pay off if you keep at it!!! I knew this training block was “THE ONE” for you, I could just feel it in my bones. Just reading your updates on the training left me knowing this would be that “epic” race. This PR could not have happened to a more deserving, smiley, positive, encouraging, and inspirational runner. This truly fuels my fire and inspires me as I prepare to race this Sunday and also next month and build towards a February 15k or Half Marathon. Once again congrats, you are truly amazing and I’m honored to know you and be able to tap into your running IQ and race performances. Run Happy!!! 🙂

  3. So proud of you! You work so hard and I am so happy it all came together for the race!!! Pete always likes to predict finish times and his time for you for this race was 2:35:23! Thanks for the inspiration and we will miss you but will enjoy watching your success in San Diego.

  4. Yay!!!!! This post makes me so happy! I am so proud of you and it just makes me smile to see your success. AND I AM SO JEALOUS you are moving to San Diego. Perfect weather all year long. It’s my favorite! 🙂 Congrats again!!!!!

  5. Way to kill it Ari! Everyone is so proud of you and couldn’t ask for a better running inspiration! All your great races up north really give you a reason to be saying “Minnesota Nice!” Can’t wait to have you guys out here, looking forward to watching you in future races because you never cease to amaze and push the boundaries of possibility!

    • Awww!!! Thanks L-Doggg!!! I have the best, most supportive family anyone can ask for. Can’t wait to be out there to see you more often!! Love you brother!!

  6. Awesome race Ariana! You are such a great example of perseverance and dedication! Looks like you had fun both during and after the race 🙂 What a perfect week. Super jealous you’ll be living in San Diego. Congrats to Matt and his new job!!! You two are a wonderful team.

    • Thank you so much for your sweet words Heather! We can’t wait to begin the next chapter of our lives 🙂 Hope all is well with you!

  7. Congratulations of your marathon PR! You looked adorable, too. I love your smile. Congratulations on Matt’s new job, too!

  8. Congrats on the PR and breakthrough race! I am reading this the night before the Grand Rapids 1/2, so so very inspired to stay tough and positive! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

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