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!

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.

Cheers!

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!

Cheers!

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!