Race recap: Reagan Run 5K

13 Jul

It’s tradition around here to run the Reagan Run. It’s a can’t-miss local race.

The race has a tough course, especially for the distance; it starts at the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan downtown, crosses the Rock River, winds through the woods and up some steep grades, and again crosses the river and ends in Haymarket Square downtown.

But the race truly is one not to miss. It attracts more than 1,500 runners and hundreds of spectators.

This year, the race was Saturday, July 4. The weather was near perfect, and the race brought a record almost 1,700 runners!

Christopher set a goal to run it in 20 minutes, which would have been not only a personal best for the race, but a personal best for the 5K distance, too. I went into the race with no specific goals, no specific expectations, except to run a good race.


Christopher lined up toward the front, near the highly competitive runners, while I lined up with the 8- to 9-minute mile folks.

I battled a side stitch through almost all of the race. I ran fast and hard.

I did the first mile in about 8:15 and the second mile in about 9:21. I skipped the first water stop, but I jogged through the second stop. I never stopped to walk, maybe only slowed a bit after ascending the steep hills in the woods.

I crossed the Peoria Avenue bridge and, with only a few turns left before the straightaway to the finish line, I kicked with whatever was left in the tank. I sprinted down the straightaway, passing a few men and a woman who had been in front of me for much of the third mile; I thought I would pass another woman who had been in front of me most of the race, but she scooted ahead of me at the last moment.

Watch @kaylabee0418 take down competitors at the finish line. #BeastMode #ReaganRun

A video posted by Christopher Heimerman (@cheimerman) on Jul 4, 2015 at 7:00am PDT

Upon crossing the finish line, I felt sick, and I wanted to vomit, but I sipped some water and felt better. After that, I wandered around Haymarket Square, looking for Christopher and his parents, who watched the girls during the race. We all finally met up and walked over to the art fair in the park.


Christopher missed his goal, but by only 83 seconds; his official time was 21:23–a PR by a pretty significant margin and good enough for seventh place in his age group.


I crossed the finish in 26:56–a PR by 56 seconds and a race-specific PR by 2 minutes and 42 seconds!


I had 12 miles on the docket, but temperatures soared into the 80s with next to no breeze for relief, so I put in another 4-ish miles while the girls took their afternoon nap, and a few more walking miles later in the afternoon, and called it good.

For posterity, here are the details:

Distance: 3.1 miles
Duration: 26:56 chip time
Average pace: 8:47 per mile
Mile 1: 8:15
Mile 2: 9:21
Mile 3: 9:05

National Running Day 2015

3 Jun

Happy National Running Day!

Those of you who read my blog or follow me on social media (especially Instagram) probably think I’ve always been a runner, logging mile after mile, running race after race, racking up medal after medal. But those of you who know me in real life or know I’ve only recently become a runner.


In high school, I managed the cross country team. I looked up to the coach and the athletes. I so wanted to be one of them. So to fit in, I did all the warm-ups and cool downs, and I kept ace statistics. I started my stopwatch in sync with the starting gun and bolted to the 1-mile mark, then hopefully the 2-mile mark, and always the finish line. I calculated splits in my head and knew the personal bests of a dozen or more runners. I congratulated our standouts and a buoyed our strugglers. I hung onto inhalers and sweatpants, and I offered sweaty hugs and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It didn’t matter to the cross country team that I didn’t run. It mattered only that I showed up. I earned a major letter in cross country for my hard work and dedication, and I got as big of a round of applause and as many words of praise as the athletes.

After college, while working as a reporter for a newspaper, I made a decision to get healthy. I wanted to lose weight and feel better about myself. I wanted to be a runner. So, I ate fruits and vegetables, I drank 8 glasses of water a day, I weighed my food and counted my calories, and I exercised. I used the elliptical trainer, but I transitioned to the treadmill and learned to run by doing intervals of walking and running—a Couch-to-5K-type plan before Couch-to-5K was a “thing.”

Running reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker. I felt strong. I felt healthy. And I lost a few pounds.

I signed up for my first 5K race in March 2009—the Dick Lytie Spring Classic in Green Bay, Wis.—and my then-boyfriend (now husband) Christopher ran the entire 3.1-mile race alongside me. I vividly remember the experience: I crossed the finish line and dry heaved from over-exertion. Christopher assured the volunteers I was fine, I just had asthma. I did two more 5Ks that summer, and then Christopher and I did the Jingle Bell Run in Janesville, Wis., on Dec. 5, 2009—the race where at the finish line Christopher presented me with an engagement ring and asked me to marry him. aimg_2720 I did a few more races in Wisconsin in 2010. At the very end of 2010, after we had been living in Michigan for about 6 months, and after some blog interaction with a couple of girls from Grand Rapids, I found a true passion for running. We signed up for a 4-miler on New Year’s Eve, then a 5K each in February and March. michigan-023 Around that time, I decided to train for a big distance race—a half marathon (with Amy, who agreed to train and run with me). Christopher was working long hours and traveling with the hockey team, so I ran with Dexter to pass the time. We trudged through a cold, snowy winter. In poetic fashion, Amy and I crossed the finish line of the Oshkosh Half Marathon soaking wet and freezing cold; it was April, and it was snowing. img_0161 About a month later, Mindy, Andi, and Christopher and I ran the River Bank Run 25K. Then, around the turn of 2012, Christopher and I decided to run a marathon. It was a completely life-changing experience (my race recap is here). chris-kayla-2 We did some other races after the big one, then we got pregnant and had our twin girls, the loves of our lives.

Running took a backseat to everyday life. I yearned to run, to race, to add more bling to my collection. I missed the challenge, the rush. We ran a handful of 5Ks last summer. I was back in the game.

And then, around the turn of 2015, Mindy, Andi, and I decided to run a marathon together. It was another life-changing experience—but in a completely different way (my race recap is here). I trained well. I ran a solid race. I want to do it all over again. 11377218_647640052032898_6714283216273456172_n In the days leading up to the Wisconsin Marathon, I wrote this:

You [running] helped me find my strong. You make me feel tough as nails. You give me a rush of confidence unmatched by just about everything else.

Because of you, I get to hear my husband tell me, ‘You’re so beautiful!’ even in the midst of a run—sweat dripping down my brow, salt caked to my eyelids, spit stuck in the corner of my mouth.

Because of you, I get to see the looks on people’s faces when they find out I’m a runner; sometimes, they look at me like I’m crazy, but other times, they look at me with a hell of a lot of respect—especially those who are runners, too. I love telling them my story.

Because of you, I feel like I can do anything.

It’s all still true today. running-day-2015-e1433335063194 Today, 8 years after first learning to run; with 18 5Ks, 2 half marathons, a 25K, 2 full marathons, and a handful of other distances under my belt, and now with two daughters in tow, I run:

  • For the former fat girl who never thought she would be an athlete, let alone a runner.
  • For the quality time with myself, my husband, and my family.
  • For the stress relief and the confidence boost.
  • For the experiences it has given me.
  • For the friendships it has brought into my life.
  • For my daughters, to show them what it means to set goals and achieve them, to try and sometimes fail, to be strong, to be determined, and to be confident.
  • For myself, to prove that with a dream and some hard work, anything is possible.

Running really has changed my life. And I thank God every day for it.

Race recap: Bayshore Marathon

28 May

You might remember that three years ago, I ran the Wisconsin Marathon. And you might have heard that this past weekend, I ran the Bayshore Marathon.

Two completely and totally different race experiences. Three years ago, for the few days after the race, I was so high on the fact that I ran a marathon. But today, nearly a week after the race, I am high on the fact that I not only ran 26.2 miles, but also enjoyed it!

Let’s back up to Bayshore Marathon Eve.

Christopher and I loaded up the girls and all of our gear and headed up to Traverse City, Mich., on Friday morning. We broke up the 7-hour drive into two legs — Sterling to Three Oaks, Mich., where we stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs, and Three Oaks to Traverse City.

We checked into our hotel, gathered our group together (which now included Mindy and Andi), then headed out to The Filling Station for wood-fired pizzas and craft beers. We stopped over at the high school for packet pick-up, then headed back to the hotel to wind down and settle in for the night.



The three of us girls agreed that it really didn’t feel real until we had our red bibs in hand. We had talked about doing a marathon together way back in November, signed up in December and, for all intents and purposes, trained on our own from January through May. Mindy, Andi, and I finally were together, finally were going to do this big, scary thing called “run a marathon.”

I was very calm about the whole thing, to be honest — and had been for much of my training. Sure, I had some of the typical worries. And sure, I set a time goal that I wondered if I might actually be able to hit. But honestly, I just tried to go into it as relaxed as possible.

Christopher and I put the girls to bed, and then I shuffled next door to spend some quality time not freaking out with Mindy and Andi. We finally went to bed about 9:30 or 10 p.m. I slept pretty well, all things considered.

We were up at 5 a.m., at which point, we promptly ate breakfast, then leisurely changed into our running gear. We headed out the door about 6 a.m.

We waited in the warm high school gym for a while, then ventured outside, where it was 38 degrees, to the porta-potties; we were in line for about a half-hour, then made a bee-line for the race start and ducked into the pack after most of the 8:00- and 9:00-per-mile runners had taken off.

Mindy and I ran the first half of the race together. We maintained about a 10:30 pace, which was comfortable and maintainable. Those 13.1 miles are a relative blur. We talked. A lot. We stared at the stunning bay with its crystal clear, blue water to our right and ogled the quaint beachfront houses to our left. We stopped at every aid station.


Just before the turnaround point, we saw Christopher and the girls! It was so wonderful to see them — Christopher with his clever neon yellow sign and the girls standing in their stroller yelling “Go! Go! Go!”

It’s unbelievable just how encouraging it is to see familiar faces — family and friends — out along the course. It’s a whole ‘nother level of encouraging to see your husband and your daughters. Cue the tears. I thought about them a lot during the marathon — during the comfortable, seemingly easy miles, and through the painful, truly difficult miles…especially during the rough stretches. I reminded myself that I run for them, my girls, because I want them to see me as a role model, not just for eating well and exercising, but for setting big, scary goals and achieving them, for perseverance, determination, and drive, and for confidence. I reminded myself that Christopher, Anna, and Elise were counting on me to run my best race, that they would literally be by my side throughout the marathon. I told myself that I could not — would not — let them down.

At the turnaround point, Mindy took a walk break, but I ran. It was time to run my own race.

Just after the turnaround point, I saw Christopher and the girls again. I kissed the girls, I kissed Christopher, and then I ran.


At Mile 16, I knew I had only 10 miles to go, so I decided to stop not only at every aid station, but also every 2 miles to eat a few Honey Stingers to maintain my energy, as the temperature had climbed into the upper 60s, if not the low 70s.

About Mile 21, I saw Christopher and the girls again. I looked and felt awesome, aside from a wee bit of pain in my left knee — nothing that would hinder my race or my ability to hit my goal. They ran alongside me for a few strides; it was like so many of my long runs for just a few short moments — so comforting and familiar.

11151067_10102692804265728_7379342529419124881_nBut right after that, I experienced some excruciating pain in my right hip. My game plan changed: Run as much as possible (still stopping at the aid stations and 2-mile increments), but walk as needed and for as long as needed. I ran until my hip screamed. I walked to that mailbox, that tree, that bend in the road. I ran again until my hip screamed. I walked again.

I wanted to cry. Why? Why was this happening to me? Why now? I prayed. I begged God to get me to the finish line. I stared out at the water. “Do not waste your energy on tears.” “You can do this.” “You are strong.”


At Mile 23, I sidled up alongside two 40-something guys. “Wow, you’re still runnin’! I gave that up miles ago,” the one guy said. I chuckled. I made small talk. “Don’t let us hold you back,” he said. I didn’t. I ran.

I ran much of the last 2 miles, and I ran all of the last three-quarters of a mile.

As the finish area neared, amid the screams and cheers of the crowd gathered on both sides of the road, my aches and pains and doubts had gone. Just before the turn onto the track, I saw the whole gang — Christopher and the girls and Andi’s husband and his daughters — but I waved to my girls. Then, as I turned onto the track, I kicked it and passed not one, but two (maybe three?) ladies and streaked across the finish line.


After I had my medal around my neck, Christopher found me and helped me get some chocolate milk, ice cream, and a few other snacks that undoubtedly were for the rambunctious toddlers, rather than the girl who just ran 26.2 miles!


As the rush wore off just a bit, I refocused my energy on cheering for Mindy and Andi. This marathon was a big deal for both of them, and I wanted to make their finishes special.

Mindy came up the homestretch, and I made a beeline for the finish chute. I gave her the biggest, tightest, sweatiest hug, and we cried together.

Andi stepped onto the track, and we went to cheer her on. We each grabbed one of her hands, Mindy on the left, and I on the right, and the three of us — the original running girl squad — crossed the finish line hand in hand. Cue the tears again.

That moment was one for the scrapbooks. I thought about those girls so often during my training, knowing that they were pounding the pavement as often and as long as me, that they were excited and scared and in utter disbelief that we were actually going to run a marathon. I wanted to be a touchstone, a supporter, a cheerleader. I had done one of these before; I didn’t know a lot, as a result, but I did know that it is possible. I wanted to be the one who always assured Mindy and Andi that yes, they could and they would. That moment, the embraces that followed proved that my job was complete.


So, to recap: I did it! Again!

I want to dedicate another (shorter) post to the things that made this marathon so much better than my first one. But I would be remiss if I didn’t thank a few people:

  • Christopher: Thank you for encouraging me, for supporting me, and for believing in me. Thank you for running some really ugly miles with me. Thank you for stepping up with the girls and around the house to accommodate for my training. Thank you for being a beacon of light on that course, for your witty signs, and for toting those little girls around in that stroller all morning. You are my heart. I love you.
  • Anna and Elise: Thank you for babbling “Mama! Mama! Mama” during our runs, motivating me to keep going, faster and longer. Thank you for cheering on the sidelines during the race; your sweet little faces were the best shot of energy. And thank you for allowing me to be your mama; everything I do, I do for you.
  • Mindy and Andi: Thank you for being the best running pals a girl could ever ask for. You held me accountable, and you made me want to give all the training and, the pièce de résistance, the race my absolute best. Your friendship is so special to me.

I also have to thank my family and friends for their support, and thank all of you for your words of encouragement along this journey.

Distance: 26.2 miles
Duration: 5:06:18
Average pace: 11:41 per mile
Miles 1-4: 42:42
Miles 4-10: 1:08:09
Miles 10-13.1: 34:30
Miles 13.1-16.2: 34:07
Miles 16.2-22.2: 1:14:14
Miles 22.2-26.2: 54:11

Bayshore Marathon – I did it!

24 May

I’ll have a full race recap sometime this week, but for now, I’ll share a few photos!






I ran a really good, consistent, smart race. I battled excruciating hip pain after Mile 21, but I walked as needed and ran as much as possible that last 5 miles. I finished in 5:06:18 — a more than 25-minute PR from 3 years ago.

I could not be more proud of my accomplishment.

Mindy ran a really good race, too, and crossed the finish line like a boss. And Andi struggled but finished – with Mindy and I holding her hands and her stepdaughters in tow. It was a sight to behold.

We left everything on the course, to be carried off into the crystal blue waters of the bay.

Stay tuned for more!

Bayshore Marathon training – Week 17

19 May

Marathon Week is finally here! I can hardly believe it!

Eighteen-plus weeks of training. Hundreds of miles run. Hours of yoga and cross-training logged.

I am ready. I have to be ready.

Here’s how last week shaped up:

  • Monday: Yoga 2.45-mile walk, 41:51/17:05 pace. Completed late afternoon, about 4:30 p.m.

The weather was beautiful, so I opted for a walk, rather than yoga.

Bonus: Mowing the lawn — 40 min.

  • Tuesday: 4-mile run — 4.08 miles, 38:22/9:25 pace. Completed while the girls took their afternoon nap, about 12:30 p.m.

Again, the weather was beautiful, so I tested out my new playlist and ran in our neighborhood.

Bonus: 1.33 miles walking (to the store and back home) — 23:13/17:25 pace; 1.29 miles walking (around the park) — 22:51/17:40 pace

  • Wednesday: Zumba elliptical trainer — 20 min. + Zumba video — 20 min.

I actually made it to the gym and got the girls into child care, but Zumba was canceled, so I hopped on the elliptical machine. I didn’t have on my usual running or cross-training shoes, and I didn’t have my headphones, so I kept my workout short for the afternoon and did a Zumba video from YouTube after the girls were asleep for the night.

  • Thursday: 6-mile run – 6.24 miles, 1:03:50/10:13 pace. Completed while the girls took their afternoon nap, about 12:30 p.m.

This run was a bit tough. I felt slow and sluggish. But I pressed on. RunKeeper alerted me that my pace hovered around 10:00 per mile, and it reminded me that it does, in fact, feel slower than 9:00 per mile. I would like to run about 10:00 (or a wee bit slower) miles for the marathon, so I needed to be very conscious of how that feels and remember it come Saturday.

  • Friday: Body Pump — 45 min.

I made my return to Body Pump, because I only had 8 miles on the docket the next day. We are on yet another new release, which means the burning lunge track of weeks prior is gone, but another has taken its place. We did squats and lunges, but instead of the back track, we did the biceps and triceps track, which was such a nice addition to the class.

  • Saturday: 8-mile run – 7.92 miles, 1:24:02/10:26 pace. Completed in the morning, about 9:45 a.m.

Oh my goodness. This run was very, very humid, and thus, very, very tough for this asthmatic. It had rained much of the day and night before, then warmed up in the early morning, so the air was wet and thick and the environment was just sticky.

We ran on the local trails, which go through areas dense with trees and foliage, where the humidity just lingers in the air. We popped out and finished up across the dam and then back through our neighborhood, which is much more open, where the breeze could pass through.

For the conditions, our splits were pretty good: 9:41, 10:37, 10:25, 10:40, 10:40, 11:34 (walk break), 10:40.

  • Sunday: rest

On the docket for this week:

  • Yesterday – 3-mile run — 3.1 miles, 31:25/10:07 pace. Completed in the afternoon, about 2:30 p.m., with the girls in the stroller.

We had to take both vehicles in for oil changes over naptime, so I opted to run with the girls in the stroller, after they got up from their nap.

Talk about a workout! The wind was gusting pretty significantly. Plus, the girls combined weigh more than 40 pounds, and the stroller weighs another 20-ish pounds. I forgot just how tough it is to push the jogging stroller and run at the same time. I got my money’s worth for this one.

  • Tuesday – yoga
  • Wednesday – 4-mile run
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – rest

Bayshore Marathon training – Week 16

12 May

Oh, the taper… It feels so good to run just 10 miles, but it feels so wrong at the same time — like, I ran 20 miles in Week 15, and I’m expected to bust out 6 more in Week 18? Like, shouldn’t I have to run more than a 10-miler and an 8-miler in between that time?

  • Monday: Yoga — 40 min.

After my 20-miler Saturday, I did the yoga for runners video, hoping to continue to stretch out my weary running muscles and build strength for the very long run ahead in just a couple of weeks.

  • Tuesday: 5-mile run — 48:07/9:37 pace. Treadmill. Completed while the girls took their afternoon nap, about 12:30 p.m.

It was cooler and windier than it has been lately, so I opted for the treadmill and did an increasing-speed interval run. I accidentally left my phone at home, though, so I ran without music. Ouch.

Bonus: Mowing the lawn — 40 min.

  • Wednesday: Zumba walk — 3.1 miles, 48:12/15:33 pace. Completed late afternoon, about 4:30 p.m., with the girls in the stroller.

I had every intention of going to Zumba, but Anna and Elise did not want to leave my arms (Anna) or my side (Elise) at gym childcare; I was so frustrated with trying to get them to play and fending off little girls who promised to “take care of (my) babies for (me)” that I left. We went for a brisk walk instead.

  • Thursday: 8-mile run – 7.86 miles, 1:22:43/10:32 pace. Completed while the girls took their afternoon nap, about 12:30 p.m.

It was hot (83 degrees) and windy (25 mph gusts), but I set out for 8 miles and tried to take it easy.

  • Friday: rest

Rest day, best day!

  • Saturday: 10-mile run – 9.89 miles, 1:39:57, 10:07 pace. Completed in the morning, starting at 9 a.m.

We had big plans for the day: a 10-mile run, followed by a trip to the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago. So we got after it.

Christopher, the girls, and Dexter joined me for the first 6.5-ish miles on the local trails. Dexter was pretty worn out by Mile 4, so my crew went home. I did the last 3.5-ish miles around our neighborhood. I accidentally stopped my RunKeeper app early, otherwise I would have hit 10 miles.

I didn’t bring any Honey Stingers or Gatorade, even though I probably should have had at least some Gatorade. I was thirsty and felt a bit sluggish.

My splits are nice and steady, though:

Miles 1-3: 9:18, 9:55, 9:37

Mile 4: 11:41 (walk break + Christopher stopped with the stroller)

Miles 5-7: 10:16, 10:20, 10:01

Miles 8-10: 9:33 (woot!), 10:20, 10:02

  • Sunday: rest

On the docket for this week:

  • Yesterday – yoga mowing the lawn, walking
  • Tuesday – 4-mile run
  • Wednesday – Zumba
  • Thursday – 6-mile run
  • Friday – Body Pump
  • Saturday – 8-mile run
  • Sunday – rest

Bayshore Marathon training – Week 15

3 May

There are just 2 (full) weeks of training left. And there are just 3 weeks until the marathon. Gulp.

  • Monday: Yoga rest


  • Tuesday: 5-mile run — 5.49 miles, 53:21/9:43 pace. Completed while the girls took their afternoon nap, about 12:30 p.m.

I don’t remember much about this run, except that I felt good, less than 36 hours removed from my 18-miler.

  • Wednesday: Zumba walk — 3.11 miles, 49:37/15:57 pace. Completed late afternoon, about 3:15 p.m., with the girls in the stroller.

I skipped Zumba in favor of a long-ish walk with the girls, so I tried to make haste to get the most out of it.


  • Thursday: 10-mile run – 3.5 miles, 32:25/9:16 pace. Completed while the girls took their afternoon nap, about 12:45 p.m.

I felt so horrible — headache, sinus congestion, chest congestion, cough, generally out of it — but I knew at least a few miles were in order. The first quarter mile was like an out-of-body experience; my legs felt wobbly and my head felt fuzzy. The rest of the run was just difficult.

  • Friday: rest

Rest day, best day!

  • Saturday: 20-mile run – 20.02 miles, 3:36:52, 10:50 pace. Completed in the morning, starting at 7 a.m.

I am so incredibly proud of this run!

I set out at 7 a.m. and did 12.5 miles by myself. I stopped at Mile 5 for some fuel, then again about Mile 8 (the turnaround) to walk and text Christopher, then at Mile 10 for some more fuel.

Miles 1-4: 9:28, 9:40, 10:02, 10:14

Miles 5-8: 10:10, 11:21, 9:55, 9:39

Miles 9-12: 11:31, 9:36, 11:47, 10:50

It’s 9:30, and @kaylabee0418 has already run half a marathon. #OurHero #TheBestIsYetToCome

A photo posted by Christopher Heimerman (@cheimerman) on May 2, 2015 at 7:38am PDT

I arrived back home about 9 a.m. and had some Jell-O and Gatorade and stretched my legs. Christopher and I loaded up the girls and headed out for 7.5 miles together. We stopped at Mile 15 for some fuel, then again at Mile 18 and Mile 19 for a break and to summon the energy for the last mile. Miles 13-16: 9:44, 10:00, 10:31, 12:09 Miles 17-20: 11:44, 13:09, 12:16, 12:54 I forgot to take my inhaler, but I miraculously did not at all struggle with my breath. I started out “slower” than usual, at closer to 10:00 pace, which I think benefited me later (e.g. Miles 10, 13 and 14). I tried really hard to space out my breaks (every 5 miles) and run as much and as steadily as possible in between the breaks, I think that also benefited me later; it was really difficult to keep running Miles 16-18, but it made the break at Miles 18 and 19 so much more worth it. This was just an amazing training run — and a personal (training) distance record. It might still be 6.2 miles shy of the marathon distance, but it has completely instilled in me the confidence to not only finish Marathon No.  2, but finish it with an insane PR.


All hail the Queen of Pain. @kaylabee0418 just crushed 20 miles. #ShesReady #Supermom


A photo posted by Christopher Heimerman (@cheimerman) on May 2, 2015 at 9:01am PDT

  • Sunday: rest

On the docket for this week, which marks the start of the taper:

  • Today – yoga
  • Tuesday – 5-mile run
  • Wednesday – Zumba
  • Thursday – 8-mile run
  • Friday – Body Pump
  • Saturday – 10-mile run
  • Sunday – rest

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