Rainier to Ruston Race Recap

Forgot to post this – whoops!!!

Months ago a group of FitFam Ambassadors tossed out the idea of teaming up for the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay & Ultra, a 50.3 mile race held the first Sat in June. Five of us were interested (another local Ambassador, Kerrie, was already running with her team the “Honey Buckettes”) and I thought cool!

Then the whole back drama, and my thought changed to “shit”.

Then I was running again, and back to cool!!!

Shane was leading the charge, so before finalizing my registration I checked to see if I could do the two shortest legs which I figured I could handle, plus my slower pace on those wouldn’t affect our overall average too much. Of course, he said, so register I did.

We hadn’t all met (even though we’ve chatted online through various social medias), so we coordinated via Facebook Messenger and met super early on Saturday morning at the Renton Park and Ride (3 people traveling from up north and Seattle, this made the most sense), loaded up my “official Participant Vehicle”, and we headed to Sumner for Shane the off to Mt Rainier to the starting line.

I’d love to say everything went off without a hitch…but I can’t. I mean, almost would be a good description. As in, we almost missed our start time. Windy roads, runners ON the road (from Wave Start A, we were B) – and seriously people, haven’t you ever run on a open-to-traffic road before? The cars will win – single file, and NOT on the double yellow line! Geesh, anyway… We passed through all the runners waiting to start, with 5 mins to spare. Tracy, runner 1, hopped out to finish getting ready (5 adults in an Xterra is fine, but when one is leaning into the cargo area trying to find shoes, hydration vest, etc – it can be rough). I stopped someone as they were getting their last few stretches in and made her take a group photo, then off went Tracy and it was “gametiime” (inside joke, anyone?)!

Team FitFam Seattle at the start

After seeing Tracy off, we made our way to the next checkpoint and started seeing runners coming in.  Of course, we’re standing along the self defined chute and the guy in front of me is about 2′ taller so I can’t really see around him. Then he puts his hands up and I REALLY can’t see – luckily, when I (nicely) mentioned something, he moved. Shane got ready, Tracy came in and this one went pretty smooth!

This leg was around 6 miles long, all trail and “hard”. We made our way to the exchange and had about 30 mins to hang out and our eyes kept getting bigger and bigger. These guys were coming in covered in mud, exhausted, and some were even bloody. Normally, Id be envious because although that’s definitely a challenge, that also looks like a helluva lotta fun to me! Luckily for Shane, he came in relatively unscathed and off Sharla went, toward “the gravel pit”.

My guy and the boys had planned to come up and see us off (my first race back and also because the boys had never really explored Mt Rainier), but with little to no service I hadn’t been able to reach them to let them know how congested it was. I realized this….as they drove by me! They didn’t see us, but they still enjoyed their detour before heading to work.

We had no issues of getting to exchanges late, no injuries, no vehicle drama – in other words, besides having a good time and a bunch of nice runs on a hot, sunny day, it was uneventful. Tracy had one leg in so much soft sand that she had to stop a couple times to dump sand out of her shoes. Jeannie was predicting slower paces but we all knew she was going to be faster than she thought – she’s deep into training for her next full Iron Man and is ridiculously fit. Sharla was running a half the following weekend, and I was just trying to run steady and come out no worse for wear.


I didn’t realize my second leg had a couple big hills, and although I wasn’t prepared, I did pretty good on them. The heat was much more of a factor for me, since I hadn’t been running enough to acclimate for it. Regardless though, the Chocolate Coconut Gu I had before that second (and last) leg was just what I needed and it got me up and over the hills to the boardwalk. Then…the run to the finish was spent dodging prom goers, their camera toting parents/aunts/uncles etc, and families out for a day in the sun. Got a text as I was getting close (did I mention I had the finishing leg?), making sure I had my ID (or they would grab it for me – they were parking and heading to the finish). I did – and that meant I was close to my beer, oh, and medal!

We did it! Team FitFam Seattle!

Getting to finish and ring that bell the last time was such a treat! When I asked for the shortest legs I didn’t even look to see where that would put me, and I was so honored to bring it in for us. It may not have been a sprint – but for ME, it was a giant step back in the right direction.

Cheers!

Sage Rat Run – race recap

I KNOW some of my enthusiasm about this race might seem exaggerated because it’s my first race post-back, I but I swear that has (almost) nothing to do with it.

A few months ago, my friend suggested this race in Eastern Washington that had races on both weekend days and some ridiculously HUGE medals. Since I really enjoyed the 3 days of races at Runners World Fest last October, I looked into it, and added it to my Wish List on FitFam. When it was time to register though, I was out. Super bummed, I knew I was going to miss out on yet another race that had been on this years ‘to do’ list.

But soon, I was running again. I was good not going because that’d be crazy. And then… Thursday (12th?) I could NOT get to sleep. I’d run that night, again, and felt great. As in, I wanted to go running again. Mind racing (ha), I quickly checked the race website for the Sage Rat Run and online registration was still open until Wednesday. I checked with my two friends that were going for sure and asked if I could camp out on their hotel floor IF (and it was still a big IF) I registered – yep, they were game. 

I saw Dr Zach on Monday and got another thumbs up progress report – okay to add mileage, or lengthen the run time and walk less, or both. Just listen to my body

I made a deal with myself, to see how Sunday’s long run felt. We were scheduled for 1:15, which would be the longest run (time) since February. Verdict? Grrreat! So, Monday I registered for the 12k!

Finally, to the race part. Okay, not quite, but almost. Friday, my best running buddy jokingly responded to a group message “Dammit H! If I didn’t already have family plans…” To which I responsibly responded “Such as?”. Short story – 90 mins later she was showered, packed, and dropped off at my girlfriends house! We all met in North Bend, where their highway met mine, she hopped in my car (that left 3 in the other car), and our caravan was off! Road trip, girls weekend AND a race!!!NOW the race…

Night before – the girls and a little “shenAndygans”

L hadn’t preregisteted, and tried to say she was just there to cheer, but we didn’t buy that and after we said goodbye to the two that were running the half marathon (90 minute earlier starting time), we headed to the start of the 12k (after coffee, food, blah blah blah). We were a bit early, so we hung out in the car since it was a bit breezy outside. Packet pick-up and L’s registration was fairly quick, though the volunteers had some teens helping out that needed a tad bit of hand holding but not a big deal. Back to the car to pin bibs, take off sweatshirts, admire the Johnsons running form….

Safety briefing before the start, reminded runners that we would be crossing LIVE train tracks right before the finish line. In case you’re wondering, the train will ALWAYS win. If you are stopped, you get a special medal (no train for us, damn)!

This race wasn’t chipped timed, but we were all in it for fun so we didn’t care – gun time works. And at 9:30am, we were off.Let’s make this easy:

Even the BIB is awesome!
  • Amazing course support. National Guard, Police, Volunteers were EVERYWHERE. As in every road crossing and every 2 miles for aid stations.
  • Aid Stations were well stocked. The 12k follows the half, yet the aid stations had plenty of water, Gatorade, Huma gels, candy, goldfish crackers, even chunks of banana!
  • No big hills. This was actually important to me because I wanted something ‘easy’.

Having my running buddy L there, was HUGE. My plan was to run 1:1 intervals for the first 5-6 miles, then see how I felt and change the plan if I I wanted or needed to. I was nervous that I’d just say screw it and do too much. But she was there, and with her came the calm. Run. Walk. Repeat. At mile 6 or so, we DID decide to switch it up. We went to 2:1, doubling our running time. We had been leap-frogging with three steady runners, and from experience we knew how frustrating it can be to have run/walkers catch or pass you over and over again. Since whadn’t been ‘able’ to slow our running pace below 11:30 (and sometimes we were in the 10’s), we decided we both felt good enough and went for the new interval (and never saw those 3 again).

At about mile 7, our speedy half finisher friend was running back to meet us and she pointed to the finish. We could see it. I said “lets go for it” and off I went. L came along but it started going slightly uphill at which point I’m pretty sure I heard “fuck you”and then “go for it, you’ve got this”, so I didn’t stop. And then I remembered that I haven’t been running much, or fast, and I thought my lungs might explode. I made it through the finish, got my medal, pulled my phone out and turned around to catch L and our other friend doing the half with us cross the finish line!


And that finish area was amazing. Starbucks coffee (boo, no half & half, so I skipped it), Gatorade (had some, diluted it first), Krispy Kreme donuts (had one, wished I hadn’t within 2 mins, I really don’t like them), and then bliss…Mexican food! Rice, grilled chicken, amazing salsa, chips and a dollop of guacamole. This was exactly what I needed!


There was also a DJ playing great music, activities for kids, National Guard booth handing out bottles of water and collapsible hydration flasks, lots of happy runners and their families. We headed over to the finish line where the last our our group was coming in from the 5k…which she started immediately after finishing the 12k. Because you get an extra medal and she’s crazy. We taunted her with food and she crossed the Finish Line in style. 

Sporting her “This is Pip” shirt
 

We finished (3 went on to run the next day, too)!

Shuttle busses/vans took us back to our cars, and L and I headed back to the hotel. Crap – we realized that our room key went to the half start, so we were ‘forced’ to head to the restaurant for our own personal race finishers reward – beer. 

I don’t usually like to repeat races, since I’m all about adventure and seeing new places, but this is one that I am seriously considering doing again. Great value, support, medal, shirt (which is an extra $12), and all around event.

Cheers!

“Go For It…I trust you”

Sunday May 1st I was grumpy, bored, frustrated, and honestly the list goes on and includes bitchy, to say the least. So, at about 4pm I got into running clothes and shoes and walked the fuck out the front door. It was hard. It was hot. It was weird. My left knee was still numb from about 3″ above the outside of the ankle, across the patella and to about the middle of my inner thigh. Taking a step off the sidewalk to the street to cross the road was not quite scary, but definitely nerve-wracking. My knee would still give out a little bit just for fun, so crossing the street was like getting on slack line to cross a river. But, I must have been too irritable for it to give out because it held. Not too far from the house is a pretty good downhill, and it held. Toward the bottom of the hill, I increased my walk pace to where I almost felt like in the right light it could possibly appear I was running. It was more of a shuffle, but still the knee held. 
At about the end of mile 2, I threw caution to the wind and DID pick my pace up to a very slow run. My knee held, so I kept that up for .5 miles and felt amazing. By the time I climbed up that steep hill I had come down at the beginning, I knew I was going to keep going. I went 4.1 miles total, mostly walking, but with a little bit of running and it felt amazing

Post-walk with a little run = happy
I was so happy when I got home – it was exactly what I needed.But, the next day I had to fess up to Dr Zach. I hadn’t quite been cleared to run. We had hoped by the end of April or beginning of May, but he still hadn’t said I could go for it. Besides, what if I couldn’t walk when I woke up? What if I undid everything? What if I had another set back like mid-April (I think I spared everyone – it was bad, but within 3 days I was back to where I had been).

Well, Monday morning came and I felt great! Better yet, Dr Zach said “I’m cool with that, keep pushing a little but not if you have any pain, or soreness that lasts more than 12 hours”! Can I run the relay race we’ve been talking about for over a month? Yep – run, NOT RACE, and be smart. Wahoooo!!!
So of course I went to Tuesday night ladies run group – and we ran 30sec run:1min walk intervals.


And…I’ve been running every Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday OR Sunday since. In fact, Sunday the 15th, I ran FIVE MILES. It’s the BEST!

Boy does it feel good to get to run again.

I saw Dr Zach again last Monday and let him know how things are going. The feeling is coming back in my leg, and somewhat in my knee. The numbness is now just around the patella and inner knee, but “mostly has feeling”. And this week, when I asked him if I could consider getting back to running more or training for a half this summer, he said the most delicious six words….”Go For It…I trust you”. He knows I will stop if something doesn’t feel right. He knows I’m not going for speed right now, I’m just going for good, healthy, uninjured running. 

And so, run again I have. And this weekend, I somehow managed to convince my running buddy to drive 3hrs across the state with me with less than an hours notice, and sign up the following morning for a 12k (I registered on Monday, and two other friends already had a hotel room I was going to crash in)!

I will do a separate race report, but I will say – IT WAS AWESOME!

I’m not 100%, but knowing I will get there is one of the best feelings ever.

Trust me.

I know some amazing people!

It’s true. I know professors, principals, engineers (all sorts even), nutritionists, EMT’s, firefighters, coaches, actors & actresses, artists, lawyers, stay at home moms, teachers, bloggers, carpenters, musicians, students, police, and honestly the list goes on. And every once in a while I am blown away by the “human, mortal, just like me” that some of these people possess because I look to them as if they are more better, more special, more talented, more trained, more equipped, just more everything than I am. 

Here’s the thing, and it’s something we all KNOW to be true, we just forget. We all started out the same way. We breathe the same way, wear clothes but with our own style, speak words with our own accents or key phrases (I overuse awesome and dude, and I’m just fine with that), eat foods that we enjoy with our own twist to the seasonings. We are all human. We all have fears, and goals, and dreams. And I bet everyone one of us wonders at times why anyone would think we are special, because we’re just us. It’s everyone else that is amazing (okay, how many of you read that with the mom’s voice in the Century Link commercials with Paul Giamatti?).

In the past week I’ve seen some amazing examples of “special people, being just like us”. 

A girlfriend is battling hard against breast cancer. She has continued to run (a marathon and several half marathons!) since diagnosis and through chemo. She has faced this battle with more courage than I can comprehend, and every step of the way has shared her fears, triumphs, frustrations, joys. Right now though, she’s meeting with surgeons and she’s convinced she “can’t do this“. Huh? If anyone can ‘do the thing’ it’s her. I know she will overcome, because, well…she just will. But…she’s human, and has every right to be afraid and angry and the whole damn shebang.

Two other friends ran the Big Sur Marathon last weekend. It’s a bucket list race for so many people that you have to enter a lottery to get in. And, it has a 6 hr time limit. That’s tight on a fairly flat course, but it’s not flat, it’s got some brutal hills. And this year, it had winds like never before – up to 49mph headwinds. Sisyphus wouldn’t have even tried.

At the halfway point, one friend said enough. He accepted that his training wasn’t what it should have been for this race (and no one prepares to run in those kinds), and to try to keep going would have meant two certainties: injury and getting swept anyway (a bus picks you up and takes you back, the course is along the coast and the road has to be reopened to traffic). He’s kind of a big deal and was there with a bunch of people from Runner’s World  Magazine. But, he’s human…and knew when to fold. 

The other friend that ran Big Sur finished. She rocked it, and considering her training is in the fairly flat lands of Texas, that’s quite an accomplishment. She coaches young girls, she organizes trash clean up parties in her neighborhood, she basically encourages others on a daily basis. Yet, she had nothing but criticism for herself after running it. She could have, she should have, blah blah blah. Turns out, she is human, and deals with self-doubt just like the rest of us.

I have portrait quality resting bitch face. I have known people who have said that they were afraid to talk to me when we first met because I looked so mean. And yet, when I went to PT this week, Dr Zach told me I was the most positive patient he has and how I am always in a good mood.  I do try to be positive. I work hard at that, because it doesn’t really come naturally, but it makes other people happy and that in turn makes me happy. I look the cashier at the grocery store in the eyes, with a big smile on my face, and tell them thanks and to have a great day because they deserve that kind of attention. I would never say to them, or you (although maybe the asshat that cut me off in traffic the other day), that they should have tried harder to skip the donuts, or that their hairstyle makes them look dumpy. So why do we say these things to ourselves?

Because we are human. Remind yourself today that you are awesome. Do the thing, don’t do the thing, do your thing. And be kind to yourself while you’re at it.

Cheers!

Thirty one days….

That’s how many days there are in March.  

That’s how many days it took to get back to walking unassisted.  

Finally looking like Spring by my steps!
  

That’s way more than how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop (which I don’t actually like, but I loved the commercial!).

I’ve been seeing Dr Zach for about 3.5 weeks now. He’s only done some minor adjusting with the activator, some muscle scraping, and Monday some wonderful deep tissue massage. The muscles in my back, hip and leg have been pretty seized up and he wanted to see X-Rays before risking an adjustment. I’m a HUGE fan of deep tissue massage, and Trever at Traveling Hands in Issaquah is my go to guy, but Monday I was totally fine cheating on him. And I’m ready for more.  My next appt isn’t until this coming Monday and I can’t wait. My hip, where the nerve that is pinched/entrapped travels down to my ankle (most of my left leg is still pretty numb), had been pretty angry, but after Monday….it was close to heaven. So much so, that by Tuesday night I was walking to the bathroom on my own. Wednesday, even more walking around on my own, and today – ditched the crutches. (Ok, full disclosure – I held onto the crutch walking down the stairs this morning to get to my car, and carried it in to work and back home, but didn’t use it for support.)

I’ve gone from excruciating pain, barely able to lie down on his table, to today…walking unassisted, including stairs. I celebrated with a Maker’s Mark on ice and it was devine.

I may not be able to get to Bend this weekend for some much overdue time with my brother, sister and their families. I may not be able to run the Horse Butte 10 Miler that I’d been looking forward to for a long time. And I may not be back to my old shenanigans.

But I will be.

Cheers!

Recalibrate…or else

I’m broken. Not broke, although that’s pretty much always the case. But I really DO mean broken. As in, I can’t run. Worse yet, I can’t walk. Well, I can walk, with crutches but not very well first thing in the morning. I see stars first thing in the morning when I get up to walk and I’m not in the film biz anymore.

I ran a bunch in January, and then again in February. In fact, February ended with two days of trail running that were awesome (Sat was better than Sun only because we took a wrong turn and didn’t end up on the trail we wanted).  

Sat, Sat, Sun and bottom from Sunday, too
 

Seriously, some of the happiest running of the year so far!

And then…. disaster struck. Since I can’t really pinpoint exactly when it happened, it has to be one of the following that has ruined my life (yes, I’m being dramatic, I’m broken, damnit!):

  • Watched the Academy Awards (worst ever)
  • Sunday was burpee challenge day 59, so I got them done
  • Monday clipped my toenails
  • Laundry into the wash
  • Worked from home on the computer
  • Fed the dog
  • Fed the cat

Nothing on that list was even remotely out of the ordinary other than the annual Academy Awards, therefore that is what’s going to take the blame. By Monday night, I was hobbling around and no amount of Child’s Pose or foam rolling was getting the kink out of my lower back.

Tuesday, the laundry basket turned into my walker and was my only avenue to the bathroom. That’s as far as I got. I didn’t have COFFEE until Thursday! On that glorious day, my amazing guy of 15 years made me coffee for the very first time. Best coffee ever, too. 

Clearly, things are messed up. I talked to my favorite chiropractor Thursday am as she was in the security line at the airport and she confirmed via phone that everything I was describing was indeed the apocalypse and it was time to call the kids and say goodbye. Or maybe a massage would help, but that it sounded like a disc injury and I needed to be cautious. 

I sent an emergency text to Trevor, the greatest masseuse ever, but he couldn’t get me in until Monday. Well shit. Patience.

First ever DNS
Red was coming home from school so we could snag new PR’s at the Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday. We had a slumber party with Trish who ran as well and that was fun. You know, like sticking a fork in your eye when everyone else gets to go run in the cold pouring rain and you have to stay in a warm cozy bed for an extra 45 mins. Yeah, isn’t wasn’t really too bad. Whoops. And then the tracking texts came in and I realized they really WERE going to PR and I needed to get moving if I was going to see them! (I barely snagged photos as Red & Trish went whizzing by – I got the the curb, pulled out my phone, opened the camera app, looked up and there was Red. One chance for a photo. Trish was right behind her. Phew!)

She’s flyin’!
  
Love running with these 3, even though I only got to watch this time.

Red got a 10 min course PR! I got a sweatshirt, because I paid for it. 

And, I got to see my Pip Running teammates which was awesome. 

My Running Framily during the only 5 mins without rain!
Wahoo – massage the next day! And BAM, BOOM, Urgent Care.

I have had 3 kids via c-section, and the middle one was touch and go with some major complications, yet I have n e v e r experienced pain like I did Monday morning. My guy called an audible, I canceled the massage, and almost 2 hours later we made it to Urgent Care.

The ASSHAT-MFer “doctor” that saw me didn’t even have me take off the back brace holding me together when he diagnosed me with “Routine Chronic Back Pain”. He made inappropriate comments about menopause (“Men on Pause”), and used Mob Families to explain the different drug strengths (I probably saw The Godfather once, maybe). Yeah…right. I’m an athlete, I may sit at a desk during the day, but I am active almost every evening and some mornings. He saw “50, desk job, 20lbs extra weight” and made assumptions.  

By Wednesday, I got back to work because quite frankly, I needed to get out of the house before I lost my mind. Moving helps, even though transitions from down to upright are rough.

And finally, yesterday I got into PT for my first assessment appointment. He’d like me to get an MRI. The injury is pinching a nerve which affects the left hip all the way down to the ankle. Our medical insurance starts April 1, due to some paperwork not being completed on time (at work – do not get me started), a month late. Literally. Will have to think long and hard on that expense. I could buy a LOT of Maker’s Mark with that and possibly not care about the pain (though all joking aside, it would take a lot more than a cocktail or two). 

 

I have been drinking Nuun everyday, so I cal feel like I’m still a runner, and to keep the muscle spasms to a minimum. 

Dreams of a PR at Horse Butte 10 Miler have been crushed, though I think my brother is (not so) secretly relieved that he’s off the hook since his training hasn’t gone well (he’s run 3x, dork). So thankful that Dave from Superfit Productions that puts on that awesome event will let me defer. I LOVE running in Bend even though the altitude kicks my ass. 

Horse Butte 10 Miler course 2015
So here goes a new training season. Training myself to be patient.  Training my back to get its shit together and do its job. Training myself not to eat like I’m running 75-80 miles a month. 

Because clearly, I’m not running. 

Green = Run Day
Ever been sidelined from anything due to injury? My back was acting up last summer, but running didn’t hurt. New shoes made a world of difference.

Ever taken someone else’s pain meds? Thankfully we had some Vicodin just hanging out…it was awesome. It might be awesome again. 

Ever had nerve pain? Ya know that phrase “you’re getting on my last nerve”? Yeah, I can’t even begin to describe the pain associated with this nerve thing. Not a fan. It’s beyond anything I could have dreamt up.

Cheers,

h

 

Happy Trails to you 

Happy trails to you and me. That’s pretty much how they make me feel, even when they are technical, steep, covered in snow, wide and smooth, muddy, dry, tree-lined or with beautiful mountain views. Trails are my happy place.

January 1st I did my first 5k with a Polar Bear Plunge (into Lake Washington – which was warmer than the mid-30° air temps that day) and it was a lot of fun! Not sure I HAVE to do it again, but I would if friends were doing it. The race was in Magnuson Park. I have to say, the ONLY reason I did it was for the plunge. I’m pretty tired of the route there since it’s almost always the same. This time was slightly different, but not enough to make me want to go back anytime soon.  

 

A sunny 34° to start the year!
  
Out of the water – repping FitFam!
 
(I also ran the Yukon Do It Half the end of December with a last minute bib acquisition. It snowed most of the second half and was great but we were sooooo cold because it was thick, wet snow.)

The next day I fretted. My amazing massage guy Trevor (Traveling Hands in Issaquah) got me to say yes to trying the (unofficial, group of people running the same trail, the same day, same direction) Fat Ass 25k on Tiger Mtn on Jan 2nd, oh, 6ish months ago. I figured I was safe and that he’d forget all about it. He didn’t, and a couple weeks beforehand sent me the info on where/when to meet. He is a REAL trail runner. He recently finished the Cascade Crest Classic 100 MILE race. Yeah, no decimal point. 100 miles. I laid stuff out the night before and then slept like crap. I woke up several times thinking Search and Rescue was trying to find me. I’ve run at Tiger Mtn before. There are lots of trails and some of them are obviously marked, others… Well, I was worried (and I did buy the topo map from REI a few days earlier, just in case!). I woke up, thought it over and sent him a quick msg that I was a chicken and to have fun. No big deal. Until he responded back: 

 
The next messages were all about what I needed to bring (seriously, snow, pshaw…can’t be much, whatever), etc and I got my ass moving and out the door. Poor guy, we were runners 89 & 90 (I think) to check in (you put down your name, time, how far you’re going – some did 2 loops, then check back in with your time when you are done. No one is left behind. Awesome!). Did I mention he finished in the top 10 for the Mt Si 50k last year? Okay. I can do this, he’ll make sure I get headed on the right trail.

Well, he either took pity on me or really is just that great of a guy, and he stuck with me the ENTIRE time. 5-1/2 hrs. 3,759′ elevation gain, more than half the time we were in over a foot of snow.  

  

Charity Miles included my picture in a recent collage!
  
More uphill, in the snow, 25°
  
Finally to the top!
  
Looking West toward the Olympic Mtns from the top of W Tiger #3
 
From here (around 11 miles), it’s finally mostly downhill. Sounds great, I’m ready! We went about .25mi and there was a guy bundled up, battery operated Christmas lights strewn about, playing “Dashing Through The Snow” on a ukulele! BEST ENTERTAINMENT EVER! We stopped and chatted then he dove into “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as we left. So much fun. Until the ice.

Snow is awesome, love it. I grew up at the beach so I’m still like a little kid and love snow. Ice. Well, I prefer that in a glass with whiskey. I did not have YakTraks or MICROspikes, but I did have my very cushy Altra Olympus Trail Shoes…. which have zero traction on ice. I fell three times. One of those times I was thankful I had my hydration pack on because it was just enough to keep my head from hitting the ground. Another time I came down on my elbow, which is still a little wonky a month later. I have YakTraks now (my coach grabbed me a Costco pair – thanks)! Once we were off the ice, it was smooth sailing. I have to say I was tired, but after miles and miles of hills and snow, I felt pretty happy that I was running the last 1.5miles at a decent pace. 

Trevor kept me going. He talked when I couldn’t catch my breath climbing those hills. He entertained, he gave pointers on form and techniques for handling the terrain. He led or stayed back, depending on what he thought I needed. We stopped and chatted with other runners (our moving time was actually 5:17) along the way. He made sure I saw the subtle trail markers so if we DID end up separated, I’d be okay. I was. In fact, better than okay. It was AMAZING!  

 
This weekend I have trail run on the schedule for both days. Our running group buddy, Katey, is coming up from sunny & warm AZ to run so today we will go try out a new to us trail for fun and tomorrow our training group heads to Carnation for trails for a long run.

I’m working hard on hills for the next couple of months. Red (my daughter) & I are running the Hot Chocolate 15k for the third year (with a bunch of Pip Runners) and my brother and I (and hopefully my SIL) are gearing up for the Horse Butte 10 Miler again! SUPER excited for a few days with family in Bend and a beautiful race location.

What’s up next for you? Frost Eagle 5 mile next weekend.

Trails or road? Trails, at least until the bees reappear.

Snowy mountains or sandy beaches? I cannot choose between, both make my heart smile!

Cheers – h

What Cloud 9 feels like

Like the first snow, the sound of the ocean & seagulls, a baby laughing, a lazy afternoon nap – these are all what I imagine Cloud 9 feels/sounds like. You know what else feels like Cloud 9? A FORTY NINE minute PR at your second Marathon that you mostly kept secret in case you failed (in my own mind) again! 

I WILL be purchasing the photos – I promise!
 About 6 weeks ago there was a Groupon for the Seattle Marathon – only $115. I mostly jokingly said to my boss and the partner on one of our projects, “Hey, I’ll wear our company logo if you wanna pay for me.” They said sure, very quickly, so I didn’t think much of it. The night the Groupon was set to expire I sent them a quick text, you know – giving them the benefit of the doubt, assuming THEY were joking. Within 5 minutes they both said yep – they were in. (I ironed on our company logo to the back of my shirt – most visible place I figured!)

It took me a few days to tell my guy. And almost a week to tell my BRF – the week of the marathon she says, you are totally ready for 13.1. Oops, had I really failed to say I was doing the full? All in all, I kept this race mostly to myself and the few people who did know, were sworn to secrecy (no hints on Facebook, no online tracking announcements, and no expectations of me checking or responding to texts). I had a pretty good idea of what went wrong for me in Portland and I needed to know if I was right. 

So, on Nov 29th and with only a 9.5mi long run in since RWF in October, I ate my chia seed pancakes (2 with Chocolate Coconut PB & banana as a sandwich) and my husband dropped me off at Seattle Center in the 34° fog. 

Stand like Superman – be Awesome!
 My absolute number ONE goal, was to finish faster than Portland (6:22). If that only meant by 1 minute, so be it. 

My number TWO goal, was to finish in under 6 hrs. 

My totally out of the park goal, was my Portland (fully trained and ready) goal of under 5:30. 

EVERYTHING was different this time.

I was nervous. I was alone. I was not sure I was prepared. BUT, I’d done it once so I knew I could, even if it sucked again. I’d looked at the Pace Bands for a 5:30 finish and saved a copy to my phone, knowing that if I could keep to around those times (avg 12:35.2/mm) for a majority of the race, I would hit number 1 & maybe even 2. There were some challenging hills toward the end to ‘look forward to’.

I had my gels in my vest: Hammer Espresso, Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie (gel & chews) and Chocolate, and Gu Lemonade. I also had 3 bite sized Lara Bars in case I needed a change of texture (I didn’t). 

I took sips of water from my vest as I ran through water stops. When I took my gels (miles 7, 12, 17, 21), I grabbed a cup of water and drank the whole thing as I walked through the stop and until I’d finished my gels. 

The only time I ran with anyone was from about 3-7, a nice guy who’s name I didn’t get, and that was because he didn’t want to pass anyone so we chatted (but ran a touch faster than I’d planned). I the bridge we saw my girlfriend Angela. You will likely hear about her often – she was just diagnosed with breast cancer a couple days earlier and wasn’t sure she had the emotional strength to run. It so SO AMAZING seeing her out there!!! Mid-bridge hug (she was ahead of me, so on her way back across) and a few tears. She is a total BADASS!!! Anyway, my runner buddy stopped at the porta potty on Mercer Island – I said goodbye and was back to running solo and happy. Seriously happy, joyful, smiling to myself even. 

After we were back across Lake Washington (still so foggy you couldn’t see the opposite side, let alone Mt Rainier), we headed South to Seward Park. When I first started running I worked close to the lake and would drive this route most days and wanted so badly to run it. My problem was, I couldn’t figure out the logistics of parking my car and then running to a good spot then turning around and running all.the.way back. You know, 3 or maybe even 4 whole miles! I was ecstatic as I ran not only from North of where I would have parked, but all the way WAY beyond where I would have turned around and then all the way back. And then I kept right on going. 

Mile 10ish a guy handing out salt capsules. I’d forgotten to pick some up so he was my desert fountain of sorts (in retrospect, I think he was with the medical volunteers, but even if he was a stranger I saw the bottle – I knew I was safe). In Seward Park I stopped and ate a gel and stretched, checked in with my friends & guy briefly, then smiled for the camera guy before having two runners point out a bald eagle in the trees above us.  

Totally buying this one, too!
 The night before, I was reading an article in Runner’s World about Ultra Runners a smoking pot. I don’t smoke (yes kids, I have and yes, I inhaled), but I can enjoy the smell at times and as I passed the guys getting completely baked at about mile 17.25…I seriously considered asking them to pop up from the parking lot and blowing it my way!

Around Mile 19 my knee was hurting, my foot was hurting (ok, so IT had been hurting since about mile 1, what is it with that stupid thing?), but I just wasn’t giving up. The hills were starting, gradually, so I knew I’d be walking a bit and told myself that was it. Other than the hills, I came to run. 

Bring on the Arboretum and Interlaken Park. Beautiful, twisty turny hilly former horse & buggy paths. Did I mention hilly? And twisty? Good thing about the beautiful. 

At Mile 25, I couldn’t help but laugh when I got a message from “Mama Canning” from the Sub 30 Club (one of the few people who knew), saying “suck it the f… up – you are killing me here.” You have to understand – this woman didn’t just run the RWF Half, she ran up and down the biggest hill there over and over so she could ‘run the hill’ to get other Subbers up it. She is a hill BEAST. Every damned time I got to the hills, I would think of her. Needless to say, my next mile was at a screaming 11:39 pace (so, it might have finally been downhill, too, but who cares)!

There’s always one final hill to climb when you run any Seattle race that ends by the Space  Needle – Mercer Street. I hate that f…ing hill. What I hadn’t realized though is that it was just up that hill and the into Memorial Stadium! Usually, you turn and still have another gradual hill through the chute. Not this time – into the stadium and the best finish EVER because they announced my name as I was coming in to the finish!!! MY NAME!!! And they said it right (this the the French pronunciation, I say it with an American ‘accent’, but you get the gist)! I was so happy, about that AND knowing what my Garmin was going to show me, that I just about collapsed into the poor National Guard guy who was handing me my medal. This time though, I knew to take my time. There was no one waiting on me, the race was over, there’s no time limit in the chute. I asked the photographer if she would take my picture (with my phone) – and she thought it was hysterical that I wanted to be lying down on the field. Flat Honoré – Marathoner. 5:33:54. 

 This race was awesome. I now know that when I have a specific goal, I do best on my own. 

 I wouldn’t have even considered this if it wasn’t for Lynn (aka Lynnstigator) and Angela. I never would have even gotten to a half if it wasn’t for Trish, my friend for 40 years, who would say things like “next time WE run…” (but no, I will NOT ‘tri’ with you).

  • Mile 12 and the bald eagle were for Isabel.
  • Miles 4-8ish through the thick fog over I-90’s floating bridge were for Christine (who also gets HUGE thanks for the relaxing Epsom bath salts I soaked in afterward)
  • Miles 13-15 were some of the happiest, smiley miles so they were for Kim
  • Miles 23-25 were those hills so clearly they were for Mama Canning
  • And then there was the mile with the high school cheerleaders at the water stop – that was definitely for Peter
  • Early miles for Bryan & Desiree when I was feeling good and strong
  • Many times thoughts of Coaches Susan and Dave would go through my mind, and I’d hear their tips, advice, wisdom and they kept me on track
  • I am so happy we have grab bars in our bathroom
  • And I hate admitting that I also love our Craftmatic adjustable bed (at least after races, the rest of the time…meh) 

 
I had a lot of “people” with me. I recently became a FitFam (formerly Gametiime) Ambassador (dedicated to #BeYourBest2016), Badass Angela, Peter (who suffered a brain injury in a freak wrestling match a year ago – but is fighting hard to fully recover), and friends who inspire me and believe in me. 

I read a blog called Pink Elephant on Parade and had commented on a post of hers about the Philly Marathon. I mentioned I was doing another one because my boss was paying. Her response cracked me up, “Which leads to the question: Best boss ever or evil satanic overlord?” Definitely the best boss ever!

(And ooooops – forgot to hit “Publish”!)

Cheers!

That time I almost puked at the finish line…

 

No caption needed
 
This morning I headed way up to Seattle for the Carkeek Cooler 5k (there was also a 10k) put on by Northwest Trail Runs. When I say way up, it’s because it’s almost an hour drive even though it’s less than 30 miles from home. I think I have only been to Carkeek Park once before and only for a drive through. After running through it today, I’m looking forward to going back and seeing the trail in slo-mo. 

They had 3 tents set up, enough parking, plenty of clean port-a-potties and ribboned off start/finish areas. The trail was possibly the best marked race (road or trail) I have ever done. Bravo!

Taken from the tree canopy by the start line
 
Most of us (about 250 for the combined distances) waited under the tree canopy until it was time for the pre-race announcements and course briefing since it was raining pretty steadily. “The trails are a little wet [ha] so no records will be set today, be careful and have fun”. 

I used my usual strategy for trail races in the rain: phone in a baggie, hood over my hat, coat sleeves covering my Garmin because with the raindrops I probably can’t read it anyway, then start mid-wayish and pace off someone who looks a bit older & slower than me for the first mile (for the record, I didn’t have a trail race strategy until today and I just winged it). Worked like a charm. Either that, or it was all I could do not to lose it on the steep uphill. 

The trail was wide enough that 2-3 people could be shoulder-to-shoulder, and luckily, NO ONE did this. Trail etiquette was awesome. I passed people and was passed, and some of those people I repassed.

By the time we got to the second big hill, my HR was pretty much maxed out. I had visions of the paramedics being called as I slid down the muddy trail face first. I walked quite a bit of that beast just trying to get it down under 170! I know it looks shorter, but that’s because you can’t see the stairs, the subtle up and downs, but hey…neither could I. Eyes down, watch for roots, stay upright, and for heavens sake don’t let the lady carrying her toddler pass me! (Ok, she did pass me at one point after this, but she wasn’t carrying her kid at the time, and then I passed her again).

During the ‘plateau-y’ part of the second hill, I was passed by two women, but as soon as I realized we were really on the downhill to the home stretch, I wanted my spot back!

After the last set of stairs, I picked up my pace a bit and had the first one in my sights. After I passed her, I could hear her try to stick with me for about 15 steps, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t actually realize I was close enough to pass the other woman, but with only 30 or so yards to go I went for it (running a sub-8 min pace!) and I hit the chute before her. 

And that, my friends, is when I thought I was going to lose it. All I could think was how happy I was that we were on grass and maybe nothing would splash on me. When I looked at the data (because I’m a complete data geek), I can completely understand…my HR was 180. Pretty sure I almost burst. Luckily though, nothing exited in any manner, and after a minute I felt fine. 

Post-race refreshments and snacks were EXCELLENT! PB&J (fresh, not stale, more made every few minutes!), oranges, bananas, cookies, chips & 7-layer dip, hot soup, hot chocolate, Golazo sports drink, and probably more. 

Once all the 5k runners were in, there was a raffle! They divvied up the tickets by race so 5k didn’t have to wait and 10k was finished. Great strategy. Lots of items giving away, from t-shirts to hard cider, beer, wine, refrigerator magnets, reindeer antlers, etc. And…I WON a bottle of this Bordeaux!!! 

Baggie filter – it’s very flattering, dont’t you think?
 
This was the first in their Winter Race Series and I had such a great time (well, other than that one minute I thought I might die and the other I thought I would puke) that I am definitely signing up for the next one. I found this series on Gametiime and already have the rest of the series saved to my Wish List!

Once I got back to my car and changed into drive clothes, I was heading out of the park but had to stop and enjoy the view for a minute. They are VERY hard to see in this picture, but the six little dots (just above the horizon and about center) are NOT dots or birds, they are big ass military helicopters.  

Although I could sit and stare at the water for hours, I didn’t and headed home.

Enjoy your weekend – cheers!

The trails are calling, so I’m answering

Last weekend I ran the 9.1 mile loop around our local watershed lake. It rained the entire time, it was windy in one section, a tree was down across the path in another section, and yet another part was flooded. I didn’t have my hydration vest and forgot to grab a water bottle. It should have been a crappy run, right? Nope. One of the best runs in AGES. The trails are where I can go and regroup, escape, breathe, reset. And I did.  

I startled this buck less than 1/2 mile in

While running (nice and slow, goal was to keep my heart rate close to 135, which I did for the most part), I decided to sign up for a local 5k trail race tomorrow that I’d seen on Gametiime. It’s rumored to be the hilliest of the series (winter series has races every other weekend), but I run for fun not to win, so it sounds perfect. 

I’ll let you know – time to gather everything together so I’m ready in the morning.

Time to race again – cheers!