North Olympic Discovery half marathon 6/1/14

Well seeing as I’ve already run this year’s edition of NODM, I figured I should finally post some kind of report of last year’s race. I am the queen of punctuality. (Prepare for a deluge of last year’s race reports as I try to catch up…)

I went into this race with my main goal being to break 2 hours for the first time, though I’d missed my last long run doing an 8-mile straight-uphill hike with Jeff (priorities?), so that was making me a little paranoid. Hard to “trust the training” when you didn’t complete it 100%! But I did get two 10-milers in in the last three weeks before the race.

Jeff and I drove to my lovely hometown Port Angeles the day before the race and hit up the race expo downtown. As he had never been to PA in the summer, we did a bunch of touristy outdoor things – wandered around Salt Creek and then drove up to Hurricane Ridge, which I’d also forgotten is fairly terrifying to drive up toward the top of the mountain. (Who needs guard rails?) My folks took us out to carb-loading dinner where I had the “marathon special” pasta, which I remember was quite tasty.

Salt Creek!

Salt Creek!

Hurricane Ridge!

Hurricane Ridge!

We stayed at my bff Laurel’s apartment the night before the race; Jeff was mystified that girls don’t seem to mind sharing beds with other girls, whereas guy friends would never want to share a bed with each other, or risk brushing against each other in any way. We laughed at him.

I was awake bright and surly around 6am and ate the toast w/nutty butter Laurel made for me. This isn’t something I normally eat before a race but I’ve never had issues with it other times so I figured it would be ok. (FORESHADOW WARNING) Jeff drove me to the start line and on the way I realized I’d taken the shuttles every year and didn’t really know how to get there in a car! That started a frantic spurt of googlemapping and searching the race website for the (somewhat rural) location of the starting line. Though we were a little late, we made it just in time and had time to stand around for a few minutes. I paranoidly started to fret about my missed long run and wondered if I was crazy to attempt to go sub-2.

Standing around nervously before the start of the race.

Standing around nervously before the start of the race.

Hamming around with my beardy spectator

Hamming around with my beardy spectator

Jeff followed me along the course, which was so awesome – we high fived at every spectator spot and it was such a boost to see him!

Jeff caught me at nearly all of the spectator spots, it was a huge kick to see him

Jeff caught me at nearly all of the spectator spots, it was a huge kick to see him

I was in front of 1:55 pacer for a brief bit so knew I was going too fast at first… but I was feeling pretty good so I went with it.

Skipping along (too fast) in the first few miles

Skipping along (too fast) in the first few miles

The 1:55 pacer caught me on the rolling hills, as did the 2-hr pacer, but I could tell I was still on pace by my watch.. but ugh I always forget how hilly the middle of this race is! The creek beds are also a pain in the butt – it’s fun going down but coming back up out of them is such a slooooooog. I walked both of those monster hills….

There was a new section near the movie theater, toward the top of morse creek at Deer Park, a crappy out and back that was pretty much bleh slog sun gravel… slightly downhill out and then of course uphill on the way back. But I got to see Jeff twice here!

On one of the more annoying sections of the course, right before some construction

On one of the more annoying sections of the course, right before some construction

The next part, running down the Morse Creek curves, is a huge downhill which I always love to storm. I just barely saw Jeff at the bottom in the nick of time and ran to give him a hug before continuing on to the final 5 miles of the race, which angles downhill through the woods (probably the best part of the course) before busting out on the coast for the last 3.5 miles.

He was great at finding me!

He was great at finding me!

As I emerged out on the coast for the final miles, I started to feel urge to poo rising, and decided I would stop at the next portapotty but was cruising on goal pace. But tragically there were NO portapotties along this final stretch. I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting… all the while realllllllly hoping I could hold it together…

And finally, during mile 12 – poopocalypse! There was no stopping this train, it would not be denied. I didn’t know if it was “apparent” or not (I discovered later it wasn’t; thank you black shorts with built-in elastic undies) but I walked about a mile in shame watching my goal slip away on my watch and hoping all hopes that nothing streaked down my leg. A dude passing me tried to urge me on to run (“C,mon, you can do it, we’re so close!”) and I didn’t want to tell him I was only walking because I’d just pooed myself….

I did decide I didn’t want to walk across the finish line and ran in the final 2/10 of a mile, stopping the clock in a frustrating 2:03. Jeff was right there cheering me on, and I leaned over the barrier at him and said “the worst thing ever just happened to me!” And bless his heart he knew exactly what I was talking about….

Full of shame, and something else

Full of shame, and something else

It was so close to my goal! Take away the poopocalypse and I might have gone sub-2, agghhhh.

Even with the poopocalypse at the end I allllmost hit my goal..

Even with the poopocalypse at the end I allllmost hit my goal..

I cleaned up a bit in portapotty afterward with about a gallon of hand sanitizer, then ran back to Laurel’s and took the most glorious shower of my life. The three of us went out for some delicious pizza and then Jeff and I did a very short “hike” (more like a stroll) to Marymere Falls out by Lake Crescent, which was about all my legs could handle. Afterwards we went to a pho place in town at my dad’s recommendation (and tried the weirdly good thai coffee), and then raced back to Seattle with Jeff driving my gokart car, making it to the ferry in the nick of time to be the last car on the 10:30 boat.

All in all it was a good weekend and a mostly good race… and I’ve finally endured the most extreme running embarrassment I think there is! I can tackle anything now!

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Iron Girl 5k recap – 9/9/12

I’ll be honest, my training has kind of sucked wet noodles the last few months. I would laze around week after week and think to myself ohh, maybe I should actually go for a run this week? And then get all angry when my performance wasn’t improving – why am I so tired?! Why am I not getting faster?! Hmmmmmmm I wonder!

Regardless of that, I did get a bit faster over the spring summer due to a little weight loss (hurray!) so I’ve managed to knock down my 5k PR in little bits and pieces in the last three races I’ve done, and this one was no exception – I clocked in at 28:31 for 3.18 miles (according to Henry the Garmin)!

I went an average sub-9-min-mile? o_O

I went an average sub-9-min-mile? o_O Chip time was 28:31, which I always go by for my actual time ;)

The race itself was mostly uneventful and pretty straightforward – I like racing around Green Lake since it’s pretty flat, but I do need to learn to push myself more and not back away from outright discomfort. My race photos were also all ridiculously bad and should not see the light of day, haha. I blame my bun falling out halfway through the race (I’d just bobby-pinned it up since I couldn’t find a hair tie in my tired morning rush), after which I tried to hastily/messily repin it as I was running along, so my hair was kind of all over the place like I had fallen directly out of bed onto the racecourse.

oh lordy.

oh lordy.

Once again I also had to kick myself for not pushing harder as well – I need to learn to LOVE THE PAIN! EAT THE PAIN! PLOW THROUGH THE PAIN! 5ks aren’t supposed to feel like an easy stroll, darnit… pick up those feet!

NODM half marathon 6/3/12 race report

I was pretty nervous about this race due to the fact my training had been absolute FAIL the last few months. My last run was 10 days before the race, an 8 miler that did feel good, but was the longest I went in training. In the following days I did Jillean Michaels DVDs and moved my entire house over a weekend, which kind of counts as working out, but there was zero running after that 8-miler. I’d gone on the runner’s world forums and asked how stupid I was to attempt even finishing the half marathon and got some pretty good advice – go with a run/walk strategy and run in the final 3 miles if I was feeling good. I decided I’d take a 1-2 min walk break at every mile marker and also walk the rough hills if I felt like it, and also wore my sweet knee-length compression socks to help my legs along. That seemed to work! This was actually my best half marathon to date (SOMEHOW) – I ended up PRing with an official time of 2:17:15!

Most of these miles (except the first 2) include a 1-2 min walk break… so I’m pretty happy with these splits!

Since this race is in my hometown I stayed with my folks and my mom kindly honored my request for race-eve spaghetti. It’s ironic since we ate spaghetti at least twice a week while I was growing up and I developed an intense dislike for it, but now that I’ve lived away from home for 10 years (dang, really that long?) I’ve come to like it again, especially the night before a half marathon.

I set my alarm for 6am and hit the hay around 11pm, and laid out all of my race gear for easy groggy grabbing in the morning. I actually slept pretty well, which isn’t typical for me the night before a race, but I’ll take it! I chugged coffee and ate a banana and half a balance bar and drove downtown to catch the shuttle to the race start.

I ended up catching the last bus to the start around 7:45.  NODM is awesome and uses city busses instead of school busses, weeee! As we chugged out to the halfway point between Port Angeles and Sequim I gleefully gazed up at the overcast skies and prayed it would hold so I wouldn’t have a repeat of last year’s death march through the sun.

We arrived at the half marathon start (which is a soccer field out in the middle of nowhere) and I took care of bizniss before the portapotty lines got too long. It was kind of chilly and I decided to leave on my red long-sleeved race shirt and not check it in my bag, even though I knew I’d just end up wrapping it around my waist at some point. I also prepared my Nuun mix and tried to seal the top of my handheld bottle as best I could (if I don’t get it down just far enough it likes to leak all over me no matter how full it is)

I stood nervously at the start thinking of my complete lack of training. I completely threw out any idea of PRing or even beating my time in this race from last year, which was 2:35:39. I just wanted to finish without my legs falling off! I brought 3 GUs as well which I planned to take every 4 miles (at 4, 8, and 12) to keep me going.

that's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight

Looming to the right, apparently deep in thought.. or half asleep

When they blew the horn I was dinking around on my phone and was taken a little by surprise – I didn’t have time to stuff it back in my ifitness belt and ended up carrying it the entire race in a plastic bag (but that worked out ok since I ended up texting a bit to facebook as I ran).

aiee!

caught slightly unprepared at the start. Also didn’t end up wearing the red shirt too long

Right after the start my legs were feeling pretty rusty and I started to wonder what I’d gotten myself into. As we headed down the country road and up onto the only dogleg of the race I chugged along, shaking out the kinks and getting my road legs back. The weather was absolutely perfect for running – low 50’s and overcast – though I was already regretting wearing the longsleeved race shirt.

I missed my planned mile 1 walk break (I’d set Henry the Garmin to beep at intervals to tell me when to walk and run but he must have forgotten that part), which I realized when I glanced at my watch and saw 1.32 miles. I decided to just do a 2-min walk at mile 2 instead and chugged on. I hit Mile 2 on a stretch of road between two fields with the Olympic mountains looming in the background behind the clouds, a spot I distinctly remember being miserably warm last year. I pulled off my longsleeved shirt at that point and actually had to force myself to do the walk; I was feeling good and I’m not used to throwing walk breaks into my runs!

We dropped into the first long downhill of the race which unfortunately ends with one of the steepest hills in the race – a creek bed that dips under the highway and then back up to the trail. Last year I was determined to run it and was about dead by the time I hit the top, so this time I happily walked it out, but was still panting as I ascended the summit – it’s seriously a death hill! A lady next to me kept trying to start running it and dropping to a walk again and muttered something under her breath as I went by her at the apex of the hill. “This one’s a killer,” I mumbled in agreement. There’s thankfully a water stop right afterward and so I walked through it, grabbed a cup, and picked up the pace again on the other side.

At mile 4 I took a walk break and ate a delicious chocomint Gu, mm… I seriously would eat these even if I wasn’t running a race, heh. This was the rolling forested part of the race, with some gentle and not-so-gentle hills, and I was feeling pretty good, still loving the overcast skies. I remembered a lot of this part of the trail from last year, though last year it was all death patches of sun between blessed bits of shade, and this year I was able to appreciate the beauty of the trail a lot more since I wasn’t distracted by the possibility of my imminent death by lava-hot sunbeams.

At mile 5 I texted my good buddy B and took a 2-min walk break. I also posted a brief blip to facebook that I was feeling pretty good (somehow) but that there was still a looooong way to go. Right around this point I kept seeing the same mother and maybe 10-year-old daughter for awhile; the daughter and I walked some of the hills together and laughed about it while her mom chugged on ahead.

Around mile 7 the trail heads up toward the highway, which it runs alongside for a short while before dipping down into one of the most fun downhills of the race along Morse Creek, weee! I love this downhill, and I decided to keep running through mile 8 (which hits right about the middle of the downhill), took a short video and self portrait for some reason and stormed up over the bridge over the creek itself (which is sooo pretty and fun to run over). I took a late walk break once over the bridge and realized I’d forgotten to take my delicious chocolate Gu at mile 8 since I was too busy enjoying the downhill, so I ate it around mile 9 instead.

weeeee!

self portrait while barreling downhill. WEEE

The trail after the Morse Creek bridge slants gently downhill, is packed with comfortable dark dirt and forested over with a canopy – super pretty and easy on the legs. When I started running again on this stretch I was feeling really good, and didn’t take a walk break again till mile 10 out on the coast. There was a guy out handing out water from his own little cooler – I think he was the same one who did so last year – and I called out “thanks!” as I ran by.

Sometime during mile 9 the trail breaks out of the woods onto the coast for the final stretch to the finish, which is so amazing! The Strait of Juan de Fuca is so beautiful and you can see Vancouver Island, Canada faaar across the way. By this point I was starting to feel it a bit, mostly in my hips, and as I chugged down to a 2-min walk break at mile 10 I steeled up my resolve for the final 5k. I posted the below pic to facebook and texted B again as well as my dad, letting him I know I was around 30-40 min from the finish, so he could hopefully meet me there.

oops. darn tire tracks

right after mile 10, during the final 4 mile stretch along the water. I chose a bad spot but it was really pretty

I hadn’t really been paying attention to my time at all, but as I glanced at Henry the Garmin I noticed I was hitting this point of the race a lot earlier than I’d originally guessed. I thought I might have a chance to PR or even break 2:20, but I didn’t want to allow myself to over-exert trying to catch these goals, and as I picked it up to a run again after my walk break, I just tried to focus on running smooth and steady and maintaining my form.

I ping-ponged with another girl for a little while who would catch me as I walked and I would catch her when I ran – we kept encouraging each other up around the 1/2 mile dirt-trail mill bypass in mile 11, which is kind of the last sucky part of the race.

I took 1-min walks at miles 11 and 12, and saw my old high school band teacher Mr. Gailey at the last water stop (each one is organized/sponsored by a different group and the band owned this one) – he recognized me even 15 years later, ha, calling to me “Courtney! Good to see you!”

I decided not to take my final Gu at mile 12 like I thought I might – I had enough energy still and decided to just run it in, plus I would only be on my feet for 11 more minutes at the most! I tried to keep up my pace though I was definitely feeling tired at this point. I spotted the final course photographer at the old waterfront trail ending and tried to summon up a grin for him.

looking far too happy for mile 11ish

looks like Gumby Legs were starting to kick in!

Then it was just the looooong straight flat shot to the finish, which is kind of death because you can see the chute and it seems sooo far off and takes forever to come back to you, lined with people and the finish mats calling your name. I could see the big timing clock ticking away and realized I was not only going to PR but break 2:20 as well! Like a dork I glanced behind me to make sure I wasn’t going to get swallowed up in a bunch of last-minute sprinters like last year and then ran it in to the finish, picking up the pace a little but mostly just running steady. I actually heard my name this year too! (Last year they said someone else’s name as I crossed, haha.) I managed an about 18-min PR over last year – 2:17:15! – in spite of crap training and walk breaks… probably mostly due to my 20 pound weight loss this year and the much better running weather.

le fin

DONE! And a PR, somehow!

stompy

thank you legs for not falling off

An old friend/leader from high school youth group, Teresa, coincidentally happened to be my finish line buddy (NODM has a rotating line of folks who hand you your medal and a cold drink and walk you through the chute) and met me as I crossed the line with “COURTNEY! That’s a good time!”She asked if I felt like I was going to puke and I said I felt totally fine, just tired (weirdly, I felt like puking after my last 5k, but that’s a whole different level of effort heh). She walked me to the end of the chute and I spotted my dad walking up from the road – he’d JUST missed me finishing by probably 15-20 seconds! He was bummed to have missed it, but took some photos:

feeling good!

about 15 seconds after I finished. He juuust missed me!

medal!`

I has a medal!

My mom showed up as well about 10 minutes later and we bummed around the finish festival for a bit; I picked up the free food and chocomilk and tried to keep moving around for about 20 minutes – I could already feel the soreness setting in.

aww

my dad and I. I feel bad he missed me finish :\

Afterward, I went back to my folks’ house and foam rolled like a baws and bummed around in my race outfit for pretty much the rest of the day. Gotta wear a medal while you can!

Green Lake Gobble 5k recap

Finally! A long-standing goal of mine has been crushed – namely, finishing a 5k in an official time under 30 minutes. At long last I pulled it off in this race, clocking in exactly 3.1 miles (per Henry the Garmin) in 29:27.

To be fair, Green Lake is pretty much mostly flat with only just a few very gently rolling hills, and the weather was COLD (about 31 degrees at the time we started!) which also usually makes me run a little faster. I even somehow overdressed – I wore my Brooks running fleece from RnR Seattle last year over a long-sleeve Nike top and I actually got a little over-warm (also had gloves and a running beanie, which I thought would be good due to the temps, but I ended up yanking off the gloves sometime during mile 2). I did push into the uncomfortable zone but I think overall I probably have it in me to go even faster, though that would require “visting the pain cave” as they say.

Also, they just posted race photos and LOL I think this is quite possibly the most flattering picture of me ever:

Ironically I actually didn't feel as bad as this photo suggests

Of course, that’s also the ONLY photo they got of me…

I started off the race checking my watch neurotically to make sure I was sticking around the pace I wanted (I was shooting for 9:30) and had to keep reining myself in the first mile – I would glance down and see numbers like 9:08, 8:56, 9:15. I eventually settled in behind a tall older fellow in a blue track suit who was chugging along right about exactly where I wanted to be and let him pace me for a little while.

After a while, though, I glanced at Henry and realized track suit guy had fallen off pace and was going around a 10:03 clip. I picked it up a bit and trotted on by him to do my own thing.I was actually getting pretty warm (somehow) and made myself wait until 1.55 miles (exactly halfway!) before unzipping the necks on both my fleece and Nike long-sleeve shirt underneath, and the rush of cold air on my neck felt awesome.

Mile 2 is usually one of the worst for me – on my route at home, it’s the hilliest, so I inevitably slow down for this mile, and I think my body is used to taking a little break. As such mile 2 was my slowest of the race at 9:40 average. I kept glancing down and reminding myself that if I wanted to hit my goal, I was going to have to work for it and not slack off. Strangely though I never hit the “I feel like death” mode that I usually do during a race – I was working, and keeping my feet moving (and “running tall,” a piece of advice I read on the McMillan site a week or so ago), but I felt strong the whole time. (I’m kind of shocked considering how random and inconsistent my training has been lately.)

We hit the 3rd mile and I knew I had to keep it up and finish strong. I kept repeating my posture-helping tips over and over in my head and focusing on keeping my feet moving quick and my shoulders back and tall. With around .6 of a mile to go I drew next to another girl and she sped up to keep stride with me, and we ran side by side for a few minutes until she dropped back with about two tenths of a mile to go. I picked up the pace again , summoning whatever I had left, and when I hit mile marker 3 I sprinted as best I could (OK, maybe I did feel a little like death right at this part) to the finish, stopping Henry the Garmin right after the mats in 29:30!

Then there was the obligatory stand-there-breathing-like-a-freight-train-while-getting-your-chip-cut-off-your-shoe moment, and I staggered over to the food booths to snag a banana and a bottle of water, feeling very accomplished. Achievement unlocked!

I guess my next goal should be to go even faster, eh? And perhaps even train a little more consistently ;)

Run the Bluff 5k

An inaugural 5k in the vicinity of my neighborhood? How could I resist! Of course, I neglected to take into account the fact that the area is very very hilly, and while I usually take care to avoid most of these hills on my training runs (weenie that I am), the race organizers decided to send us right up (and down) some of the nasty huge hills. (Memo to self: stop being a weenie, start running the inclines)

And oh gosh this course was PURE HILLS. I eventually had to stop and walk (first time ever in a 5k) when I turned a corner about halfway through and the steepest hill of them all laid before me. At the end, there was a downhill so steep it was actually hard to run down, but I think I did pick up a little speed there (switched to heel-strike and just stomped my way down). With all the hills and the few minutes of walking, I’m not too bummed by my time. Overall, I felt great when it was over!

I did bring my camera, but forgot to take any photos… ah well.

Mile 2 = hill of death and walking. Actually kind of surprised I went sub-10 on the rest of the race

Officially, my results were:
Time: 30:57, a 9:58 pace (My Garmin only got me at 3.05 miles so I must have cut the corners a little bit somewhere, or it was just a short course)
Age place: 15/47
Gender place: 53/171
Overall place: 93/248

There was a 12k as well that started at the same time, and I think most of the runners were going long, since not many people turned at the 5k split-off!

UPDATE 10/12: Oh hahaha, official photos were posted today and daaaaang do I need to work on my posture. I think these are some of my worst race photos. Can you say T-rex-arms?

Heh, I felt bad dropping that cup (they were handing them out right before the finish) so I carried it through the finishing chute

Yikes. Memo to self, I am not a velociraptor, I do not need to pretend I’m chasing prey like in that game I played when I was 11

LOOK OUT IMMA GITCHA

HAHA. Aside from the T-rex arm, slouchy posture (which gave me 90-year-old woman boobs) and wacky hip drop, I did seem to avoid my usual charming Gumby legs tendency..

Also, remind me not to wear those shorts in public ever again…. hahah.

Iron Girl 5k recap

She finished! So proud ;D

I had the great pleasure today of revisiting the race that was my very first 5k ever last year  – this time with my best buddy Laurel, who was running it as HER very first 5k!

I was SO EXCITED to run it with her! We grew up next door to each other and literally spent most of our childhoods running. For fun. (I never said we were normal.) We would pretend we were racehorses and have staged races with my brothers and other friends. (We also ran barefoot, though it was usually on grass and/or the dirt trail we pounded around the perimeter of my parents’ backyard.) We even took pictures and created a little racing newspaper. (I should really scan that someday.. or not)

Once high school hit the childhood running craze was pretty much over until recent years when we both individually eased back into running. I couldn’t wait to run a real road race with her!

We’d been up pretty late the night before the race and the 6am alarm came waaay too fast. I lurched up and slid into my running gear (I only realized later I pulled the same running shirt out of the drawer that I’ve worn at my last 3 races… gonna have to mix it up a bit next time) and started some coffee. Laurel and our friend Maureen, who’d also stayed over to spectate and cheer us on, were ready pretty quickly and we were out the door by around 7:15.

On the way to Greenlake we joked about all the “normal people” we saw out running at such a crazy early hour who weren’t even participating in the race (yes, I know some people like to get up early and run… no, I am not one of them).

I was a bit worried about parking (I cruised around the neighborhoods for about half an hour last year trying to find a spot) and sure enough the streets around Greenlake were jam packed full of cars. We eventually found what wasn’t quite a full parking spot overflowing into a corner, away up on one of the side streets around the lake, and crammed my wee Honda into it. Success!

After entering a few giveaways at the Expo I handed my bag and camera off to Maureen (no bag check this year… weird) and Laurel and I wedged ourselves into the crammed starting chute near the 11-min-mile pace sign. I didn’t really know what pace Laurel was capable of; she’d hoped to train more than she ended up doing and was feeling a little unprepared. I suggested we take a walk break or two if she needed and just to chug along as best she could otherwise.

After a playing of the Star Spangled Banner we were OFF!… at a shuffly walk as the mob of women approached the actual starting line. One guy on the sidelines was holding up a sign that said “I’m so proud of you, random stranger!” Haha. Once we crossed the mats, I hit Henry the Garmin and we broke into a jog.

Mile one was pretty relaxed and slow, I kept chatting to Laurel with running tips that helped me in my first 5k and observations about the road and the folks running around us. (I hope I wasn’t ridiculously annoying with all my talking, heh!) We noticed a few ladies running in Vibrams and reminisced about our barefoot running childhoods, and how at that point of our lives we probably actually could have run the whole course barefoot (and a whole lot faster).

Mile 2 we diverted down off the roads to the actual path around the lake and hit the water stop. I let Laurel know we were coming up on 15 minutes and asked if she wanted to walk, but she was still feeling fine, so we trucked on.  The guy with the “random stranger” sign came running up the path against the flow, holding up his sign, and we all cheered at him.

At mile 2 Laurel needed a little break so we dropped to a walk on the gravel path. I encouraged her and let her know we only had a mile left to go. After 2 min of walking we picked it back up into a run and chugged onward. I kept counting down the mileage – half a mile left! a quarter mile left! – and suddenly we were passing the Mile 3 marker and approaching the turn in to the finishing chute. “Let’s sprint for it!” I called, and stuck with Laurel as she gave it what she had left in the tank. I heard the announcer calling our names, and our friend Maureen spotted us coming through the chute and tried to take a photo:

that girl sprinted into the picture at just the wrong time... at least Laurel made it in the frame!

she got us finishing as well – argh, doing that arm thing has almost become second nature to me when I cross finish lines.. I really need to stop that >_>

oops, hope I didn't block the photographer's view of Laurel!

She called out to us right after we got de-chipped and medaled and we spotted her on the sidelines:

Done! And sweaty!

Afterward we picked up the free breakfast and various sports drinks and plopped down in the grass with Maureen to cool off and nom down the food. Maureen said she had a fun time spectating and would tear up a bit when the announcer recounted the stories of the people finishing in front of us.

Laurel ended up finishing in 36:02 for what Henry the Garmin counted as 3.19 miles – not bad at all for an undertrained first timer, and better than my bro did at his first 5k! ;)

Unfortunately my wacky photographer-avoiding abilities reared their heads again and we somehow managed to dodge every photog on the course, except at the finish line…

This is the only official photo they got of us... bummer! (#firstworldproblems) also, why does my leg look so huge >_>

Oh well… hopefully I can get Laurel to sign up for another one! She was already talking about possibly doing a half-marathon next year, which would be awesome!

the Milkman 5000

This was a race I couldn’t resist – the Milkman 5000, Aug 20th at Emerald Downs.  The last mile of the race was AROUND THE TRACK, and as a huge horse racing fan since my youth I couldn’t pass up the chance to fulfill a childhood fantasy! I wasn’t expecting just how tiring running a mile in deep dirt could be though, haha, and had a much slower race than I wanted (that and it was HOTTT that morning… and the race started at 10am, ack!) but the experience of trotting my way around the racetrack, unshaded as it was, was pretty awesome. There wasn’t an official photographer (it was a pretty small race) so I was left to my own devices, mostly getting blurry mid-run pic as well as a video in which you can hear me panting like a freight train. With the heat and track running I ended up finishing in 31:24.. not my best showing, but worth it for the experience!

Runners milling around before the race

extremely flattering self-portrait chugging around the (unshaded tiring hot) track

Folks finishing behind me

After the race they gave away free general admission tickets to the track, so the next day my friend Laurel and I returned to watch the big race of the season, the Longacres Mile!

Laurel and I camped at the finish line

the winner of the Longacres Mile - Awesome Gem

Both days were hooooooooootttttt but well worth it!

See Jane Run half marathon complete!

Just a quick note to say I completed this race yesterday morning! I was a little short on training the last few weeks due to nursing my sore foot, and my undertraining started to show around mile 8-9, but I got ‘er done. It wasn’t my fastest race, but also not my slowest – I finished in 2:31:26 for 13.18 miles (per Henry the Garmin). Incidentally, I also qualified for the Half Fanatics with this race! :D

I’m now going to rest/heal up over the summer and maybe attack some races in the fall… I’d like to actually start doing speedwork and complete a half in around 2:10-2:15. Maybe someday I’ll even try to go sub-2…

Full recap coming soon!

the start and finish line @ Gasworks Park

Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon!

Wow! This race was pretty amazing. I think I would even rank it as my favorite thus far of all the races I’ve done. The course, volunteers, spectator support, camraderie, etc were awesome. The weather was great (overcast the whole way, in the low-to-mid 60’s, with breezes every now and then) and though there were some tough patches for me, I ended up with a pretty decent PR over NODM, finishing in 2:27:36 (chip time) for 13.16 miles per Henry the Garmin.

next time: less walking, less throttling

The night before I carb loaded with delicious spaghetti and garlic bread and hit the sack around 10:30. Though I didn’t feel nervous, I could NOT sleep – I tossed and turned and kept looking at the clock in a bewildered daze. I would be shocked if I actually slept at all, I was just so uncomfortable.

My cellphone alarm merrily did its thing at 3:45am, though since I had been laying there awake, I beat it to the punch. Take that, cellphone. I lurched upright, staggered into my outfit, and chugged some coffee. I’d scheduled a 4:30am taxi to take me to the Westin shuttle point downtown, and I made it in decent time, probably around 4:45 or 5am, and was able to walk right on a shuttle. The ride down seemed extremely long and I just kept thinking “I have to run all that way back… awesome.” Not too many folks were at the starting area yet when I arrived and there were ZERO lines at the portapotties. I ate a peanut butter Balance bar, and then a wee mini banana and tiny bottle of water from the booths at the starting area.

I decided to use a portapotty while they were completely empty (which was nice because I was the first one to use my particular toilet… you know what I mean). Afterward I had a few shot bloks (can’t eat them while running so they’re my pre-race energy) and checked my bag around 6am, which meant I had to stand around shiiiiiivering after that point since I forgot to bring throwaway clothes.

As more and more people arrived the portapotty lines started to explode. Around 6:30am I jumped in a shortish line to get a nervous pee out of the way, and then moseyed allllll the way down to corral 29.

all the way back in corral 29... loving the overcast skies

The race officially started at 7am but it took me about 45 min to actually get to the start line (they seemed to be releasing corrals every 2 min… so there was quite a bit of standing around). But my corral finally made it up to the head of the line, and nerves started to strike as we waited out our 2 min buffer.

praying the weather holds

Right after we started I realized I had to pee again (not super bad, just enough to notice). Blast! This lasted for the first 3-4 miles of the race. I kept waiting to see a portapotty stop with no lines… never saw one… kept running… urge to pee disappeared, and I kinda forgot about it. We were running right by the commuter train tracks and saw a few go by with passengers peering out their windows inquisitively. I-5 went right past this part of the course as well and some people honked (it must have looked pretty interesting from their point of view!). I saw the sign for the Museum of Flight as we went up over an overpass going over I-5 and realized I’d driven this exact section of road not too long ago, which was a bit surreal. My right foot was feeling a little tight but other than that no body issues thus far! I’d mentally divided the race into 2 sections – the first 10 miles and then the final 5k, so I kept counting down the first section – 9 miles left, 8 miles left, 7 miles left. It was working for me, I kept feeling awesome when I saw those mile markers go by!

me (down front in pink) at the 5k mark

We diverted off into a pretty residential area, where crap uphills (right about where my favorite pace song came on my playlist, yeah!) were rewarded with a nice long happy downhill where I felt supa strong! These miles kinda flew by way faster than NODM, and before I knew it I was taking my first Gu (delicious mint chocolate flavor) @ mile 4.5. There were lots of cheerleaders and spectators out in this area, making for happy feelings, a nice distraction from hill pain! My ipod froze up for the first time somewhere around here as well and I fumbled with it for a little while trying to remember how to hard-reset it. Felt suuuper strong on the downhill, almost like some of my empowering training runs… sadly that didn’t last much past the downhill, heh. Turned a corner and there was the lake!

The lake part of the course was mostly flat but by now I was starting to feeeeel it. It was beautiful though and there were a lot of spectators out here with awesome signs. You could see the I-90 bridge (the splitoff point for full) looming in the distance. My ipod froze up for the 2nd time somewhere along the lake stretch.

not sure exactly where this is but by the look on my face, probably toward the latter half of the race ;)

I allowed myself a one minute walk break somewhere around mile 7 or 8 at one of the enthusiastic water stops; I remember really enjoying the Cytomax here, though I accidentally stepped in a big pile of half-empty cups trying to reach a garbage can. Wet feet, yay!

There was an extremely awesome section of this part of the course lined with  people holding American flags; each flag represented a fallen soldier and there were large pictures lined up of those who gave their lives. I only wish I hadn’t felt so tired/distracted at this point and could have let the poignancy of it sink in a little more. As it was, it was moving and quite unexpected.

Right before the full/half split off we were diverted up a steep pedestrian trail, which I allowed myself to walk (I learned my lesson at NODM on trying to run those uber-steep hills). We hit mile 9 and the I-90 tunnel. I walked through the very early part of the tunnel eating my final Gu (mmm chocolate frosting flavor) and about a minute after, then forced myself to pick it back up. Henry the Garmin lost satellite signal so I had no idea how fast I was going; he was still counting time but the mileage was stuck on 9.06 if I remember right. The tunnel was humid and warm (and people were SCREEEAAMING like they always do in tunnels) and I could hear music echoing through the orangey concrete walls – some song I don’t remember now. As I approached the light at the end (literally) I could see it was a DJ playing the tunes, waving his hands in the air to an endless sea of tired runners.

pardon the blurriness, I was runnnnning </forrest gump voice>

I exited the tunnel and the sudden fresh cool air on my face felt awesome. There was a slight downhill and then we were chugging along the highway, a very channely road with high concrete walls around it. Some part of the road here was super cambered, and I kept trying to find the flattest part, which generally was right in the middle by the road turtles.

I did end up walking for a lil bit here as well, and the ol’ ipod froze up for the 3rd time right as we started to head downhill. By this point I was sick of re-finding my place on my playlist, so just started it on the playlist I used at NODM (the first one listed and easiest to get to), which coincidentally served up a great motivating song I could run in time to – “Runnin down a dream” by Tom Petty

We were chugging along a loooooong downhill down the freeway into Seattle, which was awesome! I could see the runners far ahead bending around to the right going down down down to the city. My legs and feet were getting tired and soooore and I switched to heel and then back to forefoot striking here for a little bit. Running in time to Tom Petty was great here. I kept telling myself “free speed, free speed!” (which is how I look at downhills) and wouldn’t allow myself to walk, but one foot in front of the other, plunging down the freeway.

We entered the city and there were so many people in the streets cheering; awesome! Felt so invigorated, final 3 miles!  I enjoyed running on 4th ave, traveling by the train station, looking around at all the spectators and keeping my feet going. The runners ahead straightened away and I realized they were sending us up 2nd ave (another hill, ugh), but I just kept running. It felt like these final miles were taking forever.

In perusing photos from the race on Flickr I spotted myself in someone’s random photo from this point of the race (Flickr user Igor_R):

I'm in pink on the left. My calves actually look kind of muscley (and also blindingly white)!

We took a sharp left on Columbia to go dowwn a steep hill and then up onto the viaduct. At this point hills were like death to me so I walked up the ramp and allowed myself a minute.

you can see me walking up the ramp, in the pink shirt to the right. Man that hill felt a lot worse than it looks here ;)

I was aching but wanted so badly to run-in the final mile, so I picked up my feet again, though I was feeling like I was on empty at this point. I’d written “don’t be lazy” on my hand and kept looking down at it, and just kept moving.

The final half mile was run on pure fumes and grit. Coming downhill off the viaduct, I could see the runners ahead snaking AWAY instead of TOWARD Qwest field (so cruel to run us past the finish line haah) – they were going off to the right and around. We were diverted onto a side street,  and then all that was left was the straight shot toward Qwest Field! I was so dying at this point but I spotted the Mile 13 sign looming ahead; it seemed like it was taking forever to come back to me! The final .1 was death and I crossed the line with both arms in the air, soooooo tired and exhausted!

allllmost there...

DONE!

I got my medal happily (but I think I looked like I was about to cry by the look on the lady’s face). I tried to pose for the official finisher photo but had a feeling I would look ridiculous since I was so tired…

memo to self: next time, just be normal

There were all kinds of goodies in the secure finishers area and I grabbed one of everything after chugging the rest of my Nuun water – bottles of water, bottles of Cytomax, fruit, pretzels, crackers, etc. I frenzily ate an orange with it dripping all over my face (not that I cared at the moment), collected one of each of all the different crackers and pretzels and drinks and etc I could get my hands on, got the requisite space blanket (that I never did end up using) and staggered/gimped/waddled into the public post-race area. I knew I needed to keep moving for about 20 minutes to save myself some aches later. I had planned not to spend any more money but they had finisher’s shirts in the merchandise tent, which I could not resist. I waddled over to the huge line of UPS trucks acting as bag check and picked up my bag, then watched Everclear for awhile.

wasn't sure what to expect but they were actually pretty funny and casual

Took a little video of them doing “Father of mine,” probably my favorite Everclear song, though they also did an awesome classic rock smashup/medley I should have recorded (also pardon the random jerky movements, I had to dodge about 20 beach balls during the filming of this clip haha):

After the show I decided I didn’t want a free beer after all and waddled up to my bus stop for the ride home :)

I slapped on my Zensah calf sleeves when I got home but forgot to stretch or foam roll (probably should have iced too) so I am now super sore (I totally feel like this now… haha) but no blisters! My feet have some sore spots I hope aren’t stress fractures, but my previously sore leg feels great.

I would still love to go under an 11 min mile for average pace in a half at some point… McMillan puts me at a 2:18:36 half (10:35 pace) based on a 5k time of 29:59, which I know I could pull off at this point, so I think somehow/somewhere I’m still wussing out/throttling myself down/not running to my potential, even though I have felt tired and gutted at the end of both halfs I’ve done. I’ve already signed up for next year’s Seattle RnR half (at the cheap cheap expo price!) so hopefully with more mileage and actually starting speedwork between then and now, I can improve my performance overall!

Oh, and yeah, I did wear my Mass Effect cap, though I realized as I was standing around before the race that the crossover on the venn diagram between runners and PC gamer nerds is probably pretty small…

NODM half complete!

Short version: YAY! It’s done!It was super hot and I had to go to plan B (survival) and walk a bit. But I finished, in an almost-goal 2:35:39 for 13.23 miles.

Longer version: Unfortunately (in this case) the weather outdid itself and went above and beyond the forecast – it must have been about 75-80 out there and it was brutal on the unshaded areas (of which there were many). I’ve been training in 55-60 degree weather (usually in the 50’s) and the heat just sucked the energy right out of me. Even the local paper pointed out the heat’s effect on the race.

The morning started out pretty normal, I got up at the bum crack of 5am and sleepwalked through getting my outfit on and drinking some coffee. I drove down to where the shuttles were ferrying runners to the starting lines and on the way out I noticed a bank clock reading 65 degrees… at 6:50am. Not a good sign of things to come.

Heading out the door about 6:50 am in the blindingly neon race shirt. apparently I am also practicing for the 27 other times I lifted my arm during the race

At the half start, I chilled with other runners in a warm field but started to get a little nervous at how warm it was. There were a bunch of empty port-a-potties so I did my business and checked my gear bag. Right around 8:45 everyone lined up self-seeded at the pace poles and I slid in between the 10 and 11 min-mile poles, with a goal pace of around 10:30-10:45.

start your Garmins!

annnnnnd we're off!

Within the first mile I had a tiny sideache. I pressed on it for a bit and it lessened, but I was already noticing I didn’t have my usual energy for this point of a run. In mile 2 we broke out into open sunlight and the heat was ON! I was feeling like the pep was just leeching out of me. In training, my first mile is usually my best-feeling, and I have to force myself to slow down. There wasn’t a lot of forcing going on here :S I was glad I’d worn my sunglasses, but DANG I need to get a pair of actual running ones… my cheapo 7-dolla Old Navy aviators were sliding down my face the whole race, I think I must have pushed them up about 5,000 times.

Right about mile 3 we hit the first/worst gnarly hill of the course – a super steep creek bed that went dooown and then very steeply uppp. I let pride get the better of me and ran up the dang thing, which left me gasping and staggering to the aid station conveniently located at the top. Spoiler: I walked pretty much 90% of the remainder of the hills in the race.

I abandoned my pace strategy pretty quickly and went into survival mode and just chugged along. I took my first Gu a little earlier than planned (I wanted to take it around mile 5, and was trying to string myself along with that as a carrot, but then was just like “screw it, I’m tired NOW” around 4.5 miles), but the mint chocolate deliciousness was a nice distraction for a wee bit.

I just started counting down the miles as they passed… 8 miles left, 7 miles left, halfway done! Since I had abandoned all hope of meeting my time goal I took a few photos and walked through all the water stops. They were all themed differently and some of them were pretty creative… there was one modeled after Survivor that was pretty awesome, I really should have taken a photo! I walked up most of the hills after the halfway point as well and sluffed along in the heat as best I could.

tirrred sometime between mile 11 and 12

I had no leg problems, no bathroom issues, and only slight foot soreness. It was mostly just the heat killing me out there. It was BEAUTIFUL though and the mountains looked amazing. I tried to distract myself from the glowing orb of death in the sky and stare at the mountains as much as possible.

cue hallelujah chorus

the view as we headed down the highway toward town... a little over 6 miles to go at this point!

Running down to that creek (the photo above) was pretty fun as it was the first real substantial downhill of the race. At that point we entered a bit of a shady area as we headed north toward the coast which was a huuge Godsend, but a bit of too little too late since I was already pretty well overheated. There were a few homes along the forested path and one couple had brought out their little mini-cooler and were filling up tiny dixie cups of water and setting them out for the runners, which was so awesome of them, I thanked them profusely as I went by (though there was no garbage can so most people were tossing the dixie cups further down the trail :S)

We broke out onto the coastal part of the trail (the final 4 miles!) which was back in the burning beams of the sun. My energy was really sapping at this point and I was starting to lose the mental battle to not walk. I took my 2nd Gu (delicious chocolate frosting flavor!) around mile 10 after a water stop and I may or may not have dragged it on a little bit so I could continue walking. I walked about a half mile of mile 12 as well (a weird little detour around the old mill site, up and around a gravel path), but I reallllly wanted to run the final bit, so forced myself to pick up my feet and run the last 1.1 miles to the finish. I passed the final course photographer and struck what must have been my best delirious pose:

WEE AMG ALMOST DONE

I can't really explain this other than I was hot and somewhat delirious and almost DONE

I have some pretty awesome burn lines around those calf sleeves. I kind of look like I'm windmill-flailing here

Finished in a chip time of 2:35:39 for 13.23 miles (measured by Henry the Garmin), which, considering the heat and my sporatic walking, I’m fairly happy with. I think without the heat/walking I probably could have hit my goal (2:15-2:20). I think I did give in a little too much in the later stages of the race to the walking urge so I ‘m a bit disappointed in my mental fortitude.. I think I need to write a motivational word/phrase/verse on my hand for the next one. Hopefully the RnR Seattle half June 25 will be a little cooler!

DONE!

need to work on my tired running posture a bit >_<

a little slower than I wanted

not sure who I'm even waving at.. haha

.

wasn't expecting the finish line buddy... "who are you, why are you shoving these things at me"

I have no idea what I'm doing, I think I was delirious. I also don't remember being THAT sweaty haha

the awesome medal!

I now have 7 angry blisters, a sweet sunburn (yes I forgot sunscreen, and my calf sleeves made for some particularly classy burn lines), and an automatic half-marathon PR, which I hope to smash shortly!