BlogHer 2017 Went A Lot Like My First Marathon

It’s Saturday night, BlogHer 2017’s final hurrah. Some valuable final content may be getting slung. The crowd could be gathered in the giant keynote hall for the wrap-up session, where it’s possible Serena Williams is passing out diamond tennis bracelets and hugs, a panel of publishing houses are handing out book contracts, and everyone’s raising a glass of champagne.

Or not.

Probably not.

I’m pretty sure not.

Badge and lanyard from BlogHer 2017 and book with notes

But I don’t actually know. This newbie hit the wall about 4:30 p.m. Right now, all I want is a stiff drink, some fatty food, and peace and quiet. Oh, and a foot rub.

You’d think I’d just run my first marathon. In fact, I feel a lot like I did then. All that’s lacking are some salt streaks on the cheeks, a whiff of stale BodyGlide, and that crinkly Mylar blanket wrapped around my shoulders.

I pretty much pooped out at that event, too. Started strong, set a personal record (PR) for the first half, and then pow! Somewhere after mile 15, the wheels came off in spectacular fashion. I limped into that Marine Corps Marathon finish, sad, mad, and sunburned, almost two hours off my anticipated completion time.

Unlike that first epic 26.2 mile race, BlogHer 2017 saw no tears. (Wait–I did cry at those “Voices of the Year” readings. Damn.)

With 30+ marathons under my belt, I know a thing or two. I know not to make those same racing mistakes of 17 years ago. What’s surprising is that having been to multiple mega-events, I still made classic conference blunders. It’s like I’d never slipped on a lanyard before.

So think of this as a race report. While my BlogHer performance is still painfully fresh, I’m sharing a few  observations in hopes they’ll trigger success for future conference athletes.

5 Tips To PR Your Next Big Conference

Eat and Drink Responsibly

Sunrise at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Beautiful sunrises were the reward for making time to exercise each morning. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Running an endurance race is all about proper calorie and fluid intake. When doing a marathon or an ultra, I practice exactly how many (and what kind of) calories and ounces to ingest every hour. That strict schedule isn’t guesswork; it’s science.

BlogHer Day 1 was completely derailed by insufficient nutrition. Would you believe I missed Chelsea Clinton and Margaret Cho (sob!) because I hadn’t eaten all day? Now, I did have a wonderful conversation with a fellow attendee over sushi at one of the hotel’s restaurants (and some happy-hour priced wine–huzzah!) but I was crushed to realize what I’d missed while I ate.

BlogHer Day 2: I forgot to put a water bottle in my bag. Dinner? An after thought, eaten around 9:30 p.m. (when what I really wanted was sleep, not to snarf down some room service fries and salad). While I managed better on Day 3, I still crashed. No wonder; insufficient and irregular intake combined with some poor quality nutrients isn’t filling anyone’s tank.

Tip 1: High energy events require proper fuel.


Pack the Right Stuff

Luvvie Ajayi holds her autographed book with Leah Nyfeler at BlogHer
The amazingly funny Luvvie Ajayi with her book–and no, we’re not huddling together for warmth.

Many a marathon has been derailed by poor apparel: chafing, blisters, cold/heat–all caused by bad clothing and mostly avoidable.

I’m in Orlando, right? It’s summer, so almost everything I brought was sleeveless.

Well, it’s Orlando on the OUTSIDE; INSIDE, it’s Antartica.

People practically built bonfires; one slight presenter even apologized for shivering. Thank goodness I’d added a denim jacket and linen scarf to my suitcase at the last minute. In the mornings, I scrambled to coordinate warm outfits without repeating components. I should’ve packed a variety of shirt types, and booties and jeans would’ve been better options than open-toed sandals and skirts.

Tip 2: When dressed appropriately, you feel good and perform well.

Two women taking photos with BlogHer 2017 sign and greenery.
Fashion game was high at BlogHer 2017. These beautiful ladies took advantage of one of the many photo ops available. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Do Your Homework

The scene: my first 15K. I knew the neighborhood course…or so I thought. Imagine my horrified surprise to round the last corner and discover the final 1,200 meters involved an intensely, unpleasantly steep uphill path to the finish. I practically puked. That experience taught me to ALWAYS preview EVERY race course.

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And yet I sauntered out of the Orlando airport and into the muggy ground transportation area without any knowledge of possible options. Expensive! Crowded! Confusing! Where was I going? Taking a shuttle to the hotel saved money but cost time–and me seeing Clinton and Cho. Add to that bonehead move: I hadn’t fully investigated extracurricular activities. I could’ve done more brand research.

As a result, I missed stuff. I even forgot to double-check that those business cards I’d made sure to reorder just for BlogHer 2017 were packed.


Tip 3: Mental preparation helps everything go smoothly.

Set Good Goals

My friend Danny Spoonts gave me the best piece of racing advice ever.

“At your first marathon, your goal should be to finish. That way, you won’t quit. Then, you can set some time goals.”

That hot fall day in Washington D.C. so many years ago, I was thankful for Danny’s advice. Even though I failed to meet a single time goal (including “beat Oprah’s time”), I still finished. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have DNFed without that stated commitment to complete the course.

At BlogHer, I’d no clear goals and so skipping the last hours was easy to justify. That failure to close goes back to lacking mental preparation. Was my BlogHer intent to fangirl over famous speakers (like these amazing women, below), inflate my social media numbers, make business connections, gain best practice tips, or develop brand associations?

Lack of adequate consideration meant vague objectives and assessments. I think I had some conference successes. I think my money was well spent.

I have, however, a nagging suspicion that I missed a few great opportunities.

Tip 4: A tier of clear, realistic goals guarantees some level of satisfaction with your effort.

Run Your Own Race

Ever seen the start of a big marathon? Tens of thousands massed, the sharp sound of a starting gun, and then the surging tide of runners floods the street. Epic.

The biggest rookie mistake, the one sure to bring sorrow, is going with that starting flow. Oh, those first sweet miles fly by and feel like fleet-footed heaven; veterans learn that giving in to the siren’s lure of balls-to-the-wall-I’m-running-fast-now-not-the-pace-I’d-trained-at means a slow, sinking what-have-I-done shuffle to the bitter end.

At BlogHer, I let the schedule run me. Too afraid I’d miss anything and stubbornly determined to wring every last experience from the event, I failed to pick and choose, to discern, according to my needs.

Tip 5: Know yourself and trust your training.

Will I be back for another BlogHer?

Serena Williams at BlogHer 2017
Seeing Serena Williams–HIGHLIGHT. What an amazingly talented and inspiring woman. And athlete.

Marathon results are immediate; you know how that beast played out when you cross the finish. But I need a bit of space to fully assess BlogHer 2017. Time will tell if these four days were well spent–will I gain work, develop quality partnerships, improve my blog significantly, attract more followers, and create worthwhile content from this conference?

It’s a universal truth that everybody PRs their second marathon. I have no doubt that should I return, my next time around the BlogHer track would be a definite improvement.

Read More Here

What is the BlogHer conference, you ask?

While I don’t have a race report posted for that first marathon (say, that reminds me…), you’ll get some background info from “Mental Tips for That First Marathon”


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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

11 thoughts on “BlogHer 2017 Went A Lot Like My First Marathon

      1. Hey Leah, no I have never even heard of it, although I did know there were lots of blogging conferences and such–this one sounds like kind of a big deal! Although I\’ve had my blog for a little while, I\’ve only recently been putting really meaningful effort into it–I decided to commit to a full year of really working hard at it and trying to improve my writing and produce a lot more work. I am not much of a joiner but I loved reading about BlogHer–who knows what\’s in the future, right? Thanks again for sharing.

      2. Good for you for making the commitment! I must say that the most valuable thing I did as a newbie blogger was find a local organization for education and support. In Austin, that\’s #BlogathonATX, where I met professionals who quickly became mentors. Another outstanding resource is online: Beyond Your Blog (find the Facebook group and follow on Twitter). I know you said you\’re not much of a joiner, but one or two good connections are worth their weight in gold. Good luck to you as you work through this year!

  1. It sounds like you experienced quite a bit! I\’m in awe you already have a write-up posted. I\’m glad I got to see you even though it was brief 🙂

    I\’m curious about that Leader by Mistake book; let me know how it is!

    1. Definitely–I will be sure to post a review of my author-signed haul. (And the write-up is courtesy of bonking and skipping all last afternoon events to be a hermit and write while lounging in my robe in the hotel room).

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