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.



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.




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

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!

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!