My bucket runneth over…pt 2

The 5:30am wake-up is a little rough when that’s really only 2:30am at home, but even though I struggle for the real 5:30am every day, I had no problem with it on this trip. I had packed my favorite pancakes which I had with Cherry Coconut Almond Butter and a banana on the way to the Stacks (this is my pre long run or race day meal. always. don’t mess with what works!).

First up, the 5k. I lined up around the 12:30 pace group area with Lynn. If you read the post about my marathon, you know I’m learning that I am/need to be a selfish runner (meaning feeling ok to run my pace if there’s no specific plan with others). We had talked early on about just running with/where it felt comfortable. So, when I was feeling better than expected (and adrenaline was taking over), I went on ahead and ran solo after the first little bit. Being able to do that, guilt free, was the biggest gift ever. I’d been told…that the hills in Bethlehem were more like blueberries, and that training in Seattle would be just fine. For the record, that was a boldfaced lie. Some of those blueberries had had their Wheaties!

5k on top; 10k on bottom
Both the 5k & 10k run a similar route, starting and finishing in the same place (the half finishes there, too). The town is beautiful (founded in 1741 by a small group of Moravians), friendly and picturesque. I love churches and cemetaries, and there are plenty of both along the route/s. Running backacross the bridge over the Lehigh River was breathtaking, and something I enjoyed all three races!

I pushed at the 5k finish, a lot, because there was a kid bobbin’ & weavin’ with his dad…and I made them my mission! There was enough time between the 5k & 10k to change shirts and grab my vest & sunglasses. A bit of a drag that the vest hid my Sub30 shirt, so a few times people would cheer for other Subbers running by, then I got nothing (which only bummed me out once, when I really could have used the boost). I was really surprised though that I still felt good for the 10k. I wasn’t running any of the Hat Trick races to PR, but I was running intentionally. By the end, I was ready for my beer reward. At least I remembered to do the “Rocha” airplane over the finish line, which I’d been too focused to remember during the 5k!

After the Saturday races were finished, we napped, ate, lounged around and then went back to the Stacks for a Deena Kastor interview. Holy smokes – she’s funny, human, smart & very down to earth. We even got to get a photo with her after the half!

“I’m on my tip toes!” ~ Deena Kastor

Saturday night we all gathered for the Editor’s Dinner, with the featured speaking being none other than our “own” Ted Spiker (read his blog post about RWF here). He is a great speaker, which was good since the food was, um….not great. I had planned to save some money and grab a sandwich during the dinner, then meet up with people afterward, but an anonymous donor sponsored a few of us to join the pack. I actually feel guilty about that, because the food… oh well. Thank you, whoever you are! Anyway, the experience was wonderful, and for that I’m glad I was there. Another early-ish night for us though, we’ve got another race in the morning!

Yet another 5:30am wake-up that I had no problem with, but food didn’t really sound great, so I brought it with me. (I actually ate 1.5 pancakes while we walked to the start and while I RAN the first few miles!). Before we headed to the start though, I got a picture with Ted & Mama Canning. Not enough words in my vocabulary to express the ‘awesome’ that they are. So glad they are now friends in real life, and not just in my phone!

Once again, Lynn and I started together and split off not too far into the race. Within the first 2 miles, I joined Larry, Meaghan and a few others who were running a really similar pace, though they were doing intervals which I hadn’t run since April or May. Turned out, they (intervals AND the people) were exactly what I needed for this race. We met up with others along the way, some stuck, others kept going at their own pace. It was just fast enough that I was still working, but the walk breaks were enough that we could have conversations and enjoy our 2.5+ hours together. Another gift.



Sunday night… well, everyone had a very good time. Food and drinks were consumed. And, what happens at RWF, stays there. One thing I will say is that I really prefer smaller crowds.

Monday we got to sleep in – until 7am! Breakfast at the Hyatt was perfect (HUGE shout out to Jennifer, who was always there and with a smile!!!), and then a few of us headed out to flip tires, bear crawl, do some boxing, and other ‘stuff’ in the park with Ted. So. Much. Fun. I could do that kind of work out a couple times a week if I had those people to go ‘play’ with

All in all, a virtual 5k, a trail race, the Hat Trick, the tire flipping, all made for an absolutely wonderful adventure. I never thought I would be able to do ALL the races. And then, when I signed up for a marathon 2 weeks before I really didn’t think I would be able to. I thought I’d end up walking the half at the least. I was shocked at what I was able to do. It just might have been the Village. I was constantly giving Lynn grief over referring to the PacNW as “the wrong coast”, but after spending 4 days with these people and near where she grew up (she’s from Philly), I get it. These aren’t fleeting friendships. I know many of these ‘Village People’ will be in my phone & life until my last breath. My guy, who was holding down the fort at home, was not even remotely surprised when I called him afterward to say I’d done them all. In fact, he was only surprised that I was surprised! I guess he thinks I’m a badass.

And now, maybe I do, too.



My bucket runneth over…pt 1

I could make the Runner’s World Half & Festival race weekend recap really quick by saying it was EPIC and so much more than I could ever have dreamed. Period. Done.

Who am I kidding…

I used Alaska Airlines miles for this trip and because of how many/few I had, I needed to make a choice between a long layover on the way TO Pennsylvania or on the way home. For me, it was simple. I wanted non-stop on the way home so I could squeeze every last moment of fun out of this adventure. I’m glad I did it this way, but it meant arriving in Atlanta around midnight and not flying out until 7:30 the next morning. Not enough time to leave, so I camped out. Almost.

The Sub 30 Club was raising money for St Luke’s, which is the official charity of RWF, by putting on a Virtual Race Series to match up with RWF race options. For me, I won’t “double dip”, meaning run a virtual at the same time as a regular race. Just my preference. I wanted that Virtual medal though, and I wanted to do my part in donating, so I signed up for the 5k. The races had to be done between Thursday and Monday…so the Atlanta Airport was my venue. The first .3 or so miles were done with my backpack on and pulling my suitcase. In my sandals. No lockers to stash my stuff, so I headed to the far end of the D Concourse, left my bags unattended (but within sight) and started my laps. I lost count (I used MapMyRun & Charity Miles to track total distance), but I think it was 37 laps between D49 & the coffee shop. I do not recommend this. Especially in those sandals.

Sub 30 Virtual 5k

There was one security guard that was doing his own laps of the area…on his Segway, that thought I was crazy but was super friendly. Once I’d finished he let me know the other end of the concourse was a little warmer (I swear it was barely 50°). I tried to nap, but honestly, there’s just too much action going on so I ended up just waiting for 6am to come around so I could get a GIANT coffee.

 That croissant was cold and dry, but the coffee was devine. My “flatties” (running friends not able to go to RWF plus the original “Flat Bart” Yasso) kept me company until I boarded. Once I did…sleep was no problem.

My girlfriend, Lynn, picked me up in Philadelphia and passed no judgement at my incoherent sentences, lack of responses to questions asked, and practically held my hand to get me to Bethlehem (1hr 23min drive) and into our hotel room. She fluffed my pillow in the split second of time before my head hit it and I was out for an hour long power nap, before waking up to meet a couple other Slumber Party girls (there were six of us total) and heading out for food. We needed sustenance – we had a race to run in two hours!

Four in the foreground, one in the background, one not there yet
The Altra 3.8 Mile Trail Race was a bit more technical than I was expecting, or it could have been the fuzzy brain I had, so I went a little slower than I had wanted to. I had gone into this weekend thinking that of all the races, this is the one I was most looking forward to, and I would go easy on the rest. Oh, those <gosh darned> hills! I run them at home, really I do! Clearly though, not enough. By the time I saw Ted Spiker,
(founder of the Sub 30 Club) at about the last mile, I was ready to be done. Nope, another big hill, but leading up to it was the last Slumber Partier, Laurie, clapping and shouting encouragement! This is new for me and took a while to process. I created the <gosh darned> hill and made the turn toward the finish, pushing as hard as I could.
About .5 miles in on the left, finish line on the right
There were dozens of “Subbers” at the finish, cheering for each other. I didn’t have a Sub 30 shirt on so I was a bit incognito, and I was ok with that. Hello, strangers! I’m okay in small groups but big groups make me want to curl up in a corner and rock back & forth. I DID manage to go up to Dara and say hi, but you would too, because she just exudes awesome (and her pink hair is like a beacon of happiness).

With the trail run behind us, the Slumber Party crew headed back for showers before meeting up with the whole group at Steel Stacks, a great bar with live music & a hockey rink. Here I got to meet one of my first “Subber friends”, Larry, who I felt like I’d already known for years. (I also met Larry’s amazing wife, Amy, and truly wish we lived closer, even after only getting to spend snippets of time together the whole weekend. “all the good feelz”). And then, in walked Sandra and my weekend was pretty much made. She’s my push-up buddy for the 20,000 push-up challenge for 2015, and we help keep each other accountable. Her posts have gotten my sorry butt out of bed at 11pm to get mine done for the day (including just now). 

Top Left at Steel Stacks, others on Sat & Sun
Friday wrap up – we ate dinner, we drank a beer, we unveiled the new Sub 30 flags for people to carry during races, we went back to the room and I got a great nights sleep. Win!!! 

Part 2 (aka Saturday), coming soon!


I’ve wanted this for about 360 days, maybe more.

About a year and a half ago, I was reading my trusty Runner’s World magazine and an article caught my eye. It was written by some guy named Trd Spiker and he has a blog called “The Big Guy Blog“. Hmmph. I’m not a big guy. But he was talking about this group on Facebook that he’d started, hoping to bring together like-minded people in his quest for a Sub-30 minute 5k. The group sounded good, as in  too good to be true good. I’d tried the whole group run with the Mercer Island ‘all paces welcome’ group of liars, and spent 20 minutes in a downpour trying to find my way back to the parking lot after running 9 miles solo. In the rain. It was cool, but I was pissed. But, what the hell, I’m a glutton for punishment so I scurried over to Facebook and searched out this Sub-30 Club. It’s a closed group. You have to request to join, which, since I didn’t know anyone it in, I figured I’d never hear back. Um, holy shit, the Ted guy approved my invite. I’m was IN!

To say my life hasn’t been the same since would be so very cliché….but it’s the damned truth. I found a woman who was doing a couple of the same races I was and lived kinda close. I commented on one of her posts (must have been about running solo all the time) and she said she ran with a group of women Tuesday night’s, not far for me, all paces welcome. Mmmhmmm… Sure as shit though, all paces ARE welcome. NO ONE runs alone or gets left behind, it’s a reliable 3.1 mile route that double back so you can quit early if you want (rarely happens), and people go out afterward for food and drinks. I started running with them last October, and I’ve probably missed a half dozen runs at the most. The coach is now MY coach, and who got me trained for the Portland Marathon. These Pip Ladies are ‘my people’ and I live my Tuesday night runs. 

This Tuesday night though, my running buddy wasn’t there. When we finally met last October, after a couple unsuccessful attempts, it was so I could give her my “flattie” to take to a series of races in Bethlehem, PA (who knew JC and the crew had a place over there!). A flattie is a picture (laminated) of yourself, in running mode or at least running attire, that sound one can take in their adventure – sort of like Flat Stanley I guess. It started with Flat Bart Yasso, a running ambassador, author, guru, and Runner’s World magazine guy (see, there’s a method to my rambling madness, just be patient). Anyway, last year, Lynn & my flattie had a blast! I was head first in a stein of beer, outside Rodale’s HQ (parent family of RW mag), shit – she made my flattie a TUTU to wear at the races! The raceS last year were the Hat Trick, a 5k and 10k back-to-back and the following day, a half marathon. Glad she was doing that, because I knew for a FACT there was no way I could (she ran the Marine Corps Marathon the following weekend, too!!!). All the Facebook posts, photo tags, downright shenanigans had me laughing and smiling the whole weekend, checking in often to see where “I” was and what “I” was up to.

And all I could think about was how I wanted to do that, too. Obviously, it was a dream. It was in Pennsylvania, for Pete’s sake. I’ve never been there, don’t know anyone there, and I don’t fly to races to run with strangers! 

So when registration for the 2015 Runner’s World Half & Festival opened about a week later, I registered for the Five&Dime (5k & 10k) and then hopped onto Gametiime and had them add the race so I could save it to my ‘registered’ list! It gave me something to dream about even though I knew I couldn’t do it. And about a week or two after that, when the rooms at the Hyatt opened up, I booked one, you know, just for grins. You need a place to sleep if you want to dream.

And now….we fast forward to August, when I asked my guy if he would mind terribly if I used frequent flyer miles to fly 3000+ miles to run ALL the races with my friend Lynn (who he met the same day) and 160 strangers I chat with on Facebook…including that Ted Spiker guy, and Bart Yasso. He. Said. Sure. Which I took as a yes, even though it usually means maybe, and I booked my flight. $36 round trip. I canceled the hotel because I will room with Lynn and another “friend in my phone”, and she’s ex-military so she got a smokin’ deal on the room. And when I said ALL the races, yep, I meant ALL. In addition to the Hat Trick, there is a 3.8 mile trail run (course designed by Bart Yasso himself) tomorrow. It’s confusing when you combine km’s and mi’s but when you add up 3.8mi + 5k (3.1mi) + 10k (6.2ni) + 13.1mi it equals…26.2! A progressive marathon – YES!!!

Tonight, I’m sleeping in the Atlanta airport (because I know how to party). Tomorrow I land in Philadelphia where Lynn has been since last weekend (which is why we didn’t run together on Tuesday) will pick me (and others) up, head to Bethlehem, and we will Runn the trail race, cheer on the kids race and then socialize like only this group knows how. Happy Hour with 160+ of our best friends that we’ve never met.

Oh, and this year? I’m bringing some flatties along for the ride.

I can not wait – Cheers!

It’s not on my bucket list (pt 2)…

Last weekend at about this time I was putting the finishing touches on Flat Me, making sure everything I needed for Portland Marathon race day was ready:

I also had to have everything else packed up, since my guy would be dropping me off at The Hilton to meet everyone else, then going back to our hotel to check out.

Earlier in the day, Trish and I had gone to the Expo. She’s a lifelong runner, has done countless marathons (and is running GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon tomorrow!). We met up with a couple other Pip runners, and had a great time. After that, we split a burger since it was already late and we’d be meeting up with our guys and the water boys for dinner. MY prerace dinner is usually a high-quality Totino’s Pizza and a beer, but Trish vetoed that and we ended up at The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza. A little more expensive than my usual party pizza, but still tasty (and they would probably be horrified to be compared to each other).

Once back at the hotel, the boys headed out so I could get to sleep (thank you!). No problem. Know why I got to sleep?

The marathon was STILL not on my bucket list. It was really just a long training run to me.

Morning came, I had my trusty Chia Seed pancakes (I froze them at home and brought them with me), PocketFuel’s Chocolate Espresso Almond Butter and a banana for breakfast and off we went. Zero traffic meant my guy was able to drop me off at the corner of the Hilton where most of us were meeting.

Still no nerves, just boggled that we are heading out to run 6.2 more miles than our last long run. Melinda and I ran the first mile or two together, then she made a break for the porta-potty and I kept going.

My Tuesday night running buddy Lynn, also a multi-marathoner (you should see her medals!!!), told me that if I felt my pace was good in the first couple miles…I was going too fast. Best. Possible. Advice. In fact, my first 10 miles were amazing, and my pace was strong (approx 11:30 avg). 

And then I ran into a couple of the other Pip Runners who were switching to run-walk (K’s leg started bothering her for a bit so they were switching it up). Their run pace is faster than mine, so we did a little leap frogging for a while. You know what can really mess with your race pace and mojo? Yeah…. so I walked when they ran to ensure I wouldn’t catch back up. It was time for a gel anyway, so I was good.

I knew going in I was going to walk the big hill to the St John’s bridge at about mile 14-15, but 13 was a little bit of a struggle mentally, so I walked and stretched a bit trying to get my head back where it should be. I surfed a little Facebook as I was coming up to the hill, got a pep talk from Lynn via text, had a couple messages from my Sub30 friend Bryan, got a HUGE shout-out from my running friend Angela (who is a total badass and was in Rome at the time) and a text from my guy telling me I was doing “wicked awesome”! These were just the pick-me-ups I needed, so off I went.

Not more than .2 miles later, Melinda came up behind me and was super happy to catch up. She’s awesome and we’ve run some of our long runs together, so our pace is pretty compatible. We walked up to the bridge and caught our breathe as we took in the view!  

And then….it was mostly downhill from there. Literally and figuratively. We ran, then walked a bit, then ran a bit and then walked. It was hot, in the 70’s, and we were tired. Even worse, we were admitting out loud that we were tired.

At mile 21 we met up with my guy, the water boys, Trish & her husband. Trish wanted to run the last 5 with me because she figured after 21 solo, I’d be ready for some friendly motivation. Trish has legs that are about 2.6 miles longer than mine, so at the pace we were ‘running’ she was walking. And, she’d already run 11 that morning.   

To her credit, she did ask several times before we headed out if I was sure I wanted her to come with us. I’ve known her for 40 years, this was as big of a deal for her as it was for me. I was sure. And she took pictures!

Quick note: Mile 25 I am holding two “flatties”, Lynn & Bryan. They are laminated and were pinned to the back of my best the whole way, so when I gave my best to Trish and took only my Spibelt to the finish, I had tony pin them and put on my belt. They were ready for their picture!

After 22, I convinced Melinda to go on. All the walking had really messed with me so my right knee and left hip were bothering me. I didn’t want to crush her race groove just because I watched my A & B goals slip away.  

At 25.6 Trish had to split off because I was going to be running in the participant only chute to the finish. She ran along side and cheered me on – super cool! And she was running, because so was I. Cruel joke that it was, I felt GOOD running. So good, my last .47 mile pace was right back to my pace from the first 10 miles. Damn.

I finished in 6:22. 22 minutes beyond my B goal, and 52 minutes beyond my A goal (which I had actually been on pace to beat, even at 17 miles in).  

It’s taken me almost a week to come to terms with what was a big let down. And then I remembered a couple REALLY big things:

  1. Doing a marathon was NOT on my bucket list
  2. That said, I DID finish 26point2 freaking miles. Upright. Smiling. Doing a “Rocha” (airplane across the finish line).
  3. The next day I felt really good and had no problem going up OR down stairs.
  4. The day after that, I ran 3 easy miles. And they felt great. 
  5. Two days after that, I ran the 2.21 mile loop in my neighborhood that I haven’t run in ages – in my 2nd fastest time EVER (10:10 pace).
  6. I trained and ran a marathon… uninjured. That WAS my goal.
  7. Goal accomplished!

So now what? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve already been on Gametiime searching races (trails and shorter distances) and adding to my wish list.

And even better? Next week I WILL be doing something on my bucket list. I’m going to Pennsylvania for Runner’s World Half & Festival with 160+ members of the Sub30 Club, and I’m running the “Dirty Hat Trick”. Which equals, as luck would have it, 26.2 miles over 3 days & 4 races.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

It’s not on my bucket list… (pt 1)

Evidently, I’m a follower. Please don’t jump off any bridges, because chances appear good that I may follow. 

Pip Running PR Training started in April, and my MAIN GOAL was to run uninjured and maybe PR a half (since I had been injured most of last year and race times were getting longer, this seemed like a good goal). Of the twelve runners and two coaches, only 4 people were NOT training for the Portland Marathon…including me.

I had no desire to run that far, for my speed, that’s a loooong time running. And I don’t run marathons, because “I’m only half crazy”.  My girlfriend Trish thinks I should though, because it’ll be fun. She’s clearly not right in the head. And then Coach Susan became an Ambassador for the marathon. And we were running long distances in our training and I felt fine. By the end of July, I’d done Ragnar and had stopped taping my Achilles. I got new shoes and my back issues were gone. And we were getting ready to run 16 miles.

And….I jumped on the bandwagon.

 Then, I ran 16 miles. Seriously, that group picture below is AFTER 16 miles! I did feel like throwing up though, so there is that. After that, I drove straight to the Cedar River and scooted my butt into the water for the best ice bath around, before heading home.

And training continued, hilly training giving way to speed work. Evening runs starting earlier yet still needing headlamps (though we may not have always had them).

Before we knew it, the training day I had feared since I first saw the calendar had arrived – the 20 miler. Holy shit. And to make it scarier, the route is going to be a four leaf clover, with the center point being our coach’s house (so each 5 mile loop starts & ends there), which is in my neighborhood. At any point, I would be within walking distance of home, where I could give up.

But I didn’t, and it was amazing. I was sore, and ‘done’ by the end, but the dozen plus text and/or Facebook messages from my guy & Sub30 Club friends kept me going. I was supposed to pick my daughter up at the airport after the run, which was going to mean finishing and jumping in the car to get her. Luckily, my guy got her and I was ice bathed & showered when they got home.

Still. Feeling. Good.

For the first time ever, I follow a strict training plan that works and I feel confident & physically really good.

A few more runs and then it’s time to taper. Whoa! What a weird feeling. Our runs have become really short. As in, shorter than when we first started training. I have dinner after a run before 9:30pm. Weird!

My guy and ‘the water boys’ (his son and his sons best friend – both of whom are living with us right now- were our water stop on a 9 miler what feels like AGES ago), book rooms in Vancouver, WA for marathon weekend. 

Portland Marathon recap coming up next…


Ragnar NW Passage

Awesome. Not really sure I need to go on. 

This was my post on the Sub30 Club page as I was heading out for my last leg: Day 2 Ragnar NW Passage, leg 26 finishing up, leg 27 is a whopping 2.4 miles then I’m up for 8.1 hilly, partially supported miles. 2.5 hrs sleep, not much food, back and Achilles taped up with Rock Tape. Cross your fingers I don’t let my team down!!! — feeling anxioushungrytiredsorebutf*ckingdetermined. 

I didn’t let them down, even though I had to walk up two long steep hills, I FLEW down the last mile. And no, I couldn’t really walk afterward! 

Sleeping on the gym floor for a few hours was some of the best sleep I had all weekend. The burger and beer I had after each leg was the best food ever. The Blizzard I had on our way home….good, but not what my stomach needed, so I slept. 

Since pictures are worth a thousand words (and I’m writing this 2.5 months post-race)….

For all the great, there were also some bummers:

  • We were Van 1, we rarely saw Van 2 and I missed the full team camaraderie.
  • Food – IF I ever do a relay again, I will pack a small cooler/bag of food for me. We had snacks, but not really stuff I usually snack on, so I was always hungry.
  • Post-run clothes. I had a dress to pull on, which was comfy. Susan had a skirt which looked way easier and less exposure when it was time to change again.
  • Driver/Van – I think having a DD would be better. Poor Mike did most of the driving, and when Emily drove it was late and she was super tired. Not a good mix. Plus, the van organization was a little rough for this OCD gal.
  • Shower wipes – everyone should embrace these. Vans are small.