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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Victoria BC Canada half marathon 10/13/13

WOW. I am amazed, baffled, astounded at how this race went for me. Let’s just get the big part out of the way – I was hoping to break 2:10, and at least PR (current PR is 2:12:58), but NOTHING could have prepared me for the number I ended up with:

That there is also a 10k PR!

That there is also a 10k PR!

WHAT. Just WHAT. How the crap did I pull that off?! Even more astounding to me was Henry the Garmin’s report:

Holy poop!

Holy poop!

Not a single 10+-min-mile to be found. And mile 12, what whaaaaaaaat? How on earth did I pull off a sub-9-min-mile in a half marathon!? How the crap did I run at a 9:17 average for the whole race? (I’ve run 5ks at a slower pace than that!)

There were a few significant things I did different during this training cycle, a few of which had me convinced this would probably be a SLOW race for me:

1. I did about 95% of my training runs on the treadmill, and the vast majority of those were at a 0% incline, because I’m lazy and hate hills.

2. I had that dumb 2-month cough that interrupted my training a bit over the summer.

3. I started doing halfhearted speedwork (400m sprints and Higdon-style tempo runs) this time around.

Maybe it was number 3 that made the biggest difference, who knows! I think maybe doing my 10-milers on the treadmill may have helped me in ways – I did take walk breaks during them, but they kind of taught me to hold a consistent pace and keep going (whereas when I run them outdoors my pace goes all over the place). I am a notorious hater of hills as well, and while this course isn’t totally flat (there are a lot of mild undulations and a few gradual uphill slogs), there are no giant ego-crushing monster hills like there are at NODM and Seattle RnR. I think as a result of that I was able to run every step of this half marathon and didn’t take a single walk break – that’s a first for me!

not flat, not ridiculously hilly. Think this is my new favorite course, sorry NODM.

not flat, not ridiculously hilly. Think this is my new favorite course, sorry NODM.

The day before the race we hauled our crap on the boat over to Victoria and hit up the expo first thing to get it out of the way, then wandered around being touristy for awhile. We ended up going to one of the several Irish pubs downtown to carb load – and the pasta at the Garrick’s Head Pub was actually pretty fantastic! I also had probably the best cider I’ve ever tried.

delicious, delicious carb loading and the BEST CIDER EVER AMG

delicious, delicious carb loading and the BEST CIDER EVER AMG

Dusk was falling as we wandered back in the direction of our hotel and though I’ve been to Victoria countless times I couldn’t resist snapping some of the typical touristy photos. Our route went by the Parliament building and we stopped by the finish line that was still getting set up, on the road right out in front of the building:

The Parliament building (top, where the race started/finished) and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel

The Parliament building (top, where the race started/finished) and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel

See you tomorrow, finish line.

See you tomorrow, finish line.

I was up at the miserably early hour of 5:30am and promptly chugged coffee and got dressed. One advantage of having a hotel so close to the race start was that I didn’t have to use the portapotties, but rather the warm hotel bathroom… yesssssss. It was FRIGID and I decided to keep my long-sleeved running top on, even though I know I’m my own little furnace and odds were good that I’d be tying it around my waist at some point. After a rousing rendition of “O, Canada” (ha it had never occurred to me up until that point that other countries might, you know, sing their own anthems before sporting events) we were off!

It’s been kind of a trend now with my last few halfs (halves?) that I feel really stiff and awkward for the first mile or so and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, but this is probably more because I don’t usually run at 7:30 in the morning. This race was no different and as we looped around the parliament buildings and up by the harbor I felt like I was running through jello, but I was still passing people pretty consistently. I remember glancing down at the Garmin somewhere around here and seeing a sub-9-min-mile pace. Oops!

I was yanking my overshirt off by mile 2. I should have known I wouldn’t need it! It became my awkward waist buddy from that point on, flapping against the back of my legs for the remainder of the race. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after last year, but noooooooo…

Somewhere in the first few miles, as we were going up a hill, I passed a guy in a wheelchair who was wearing a racing bib. This wasn’t a sport wheelchair though, this was a regular old standard wheelchair, and he was wheeling himself along the course. I couldn’t help but be impressed by how hardcore that was. I can’t imagine propelling myself through 13.1 miles with my arms!

The course takes its first real uphill jaunt into a few loops around a pretty big park right about mile 3.5 or 4. I only really remember this because I took my first Gu at mile 3.5 and also because I hit the 5k mark in the park at a number not far off from my PR, which was a little scary, but I was feeling good so I just went with it. The uphill sections were a little slow but I just kept putting my feet to the ground and trying to take quick, short steps.

Coming out of the park we hit the long section of road that travels right along the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca:

A good section of the course is out along the water like this - it's beauuuuuuutiful. And you can see my hometown across the way!

A good section of the course is out along the water like this – it’s beauuuuuuutiful. And you can see my hometown across the way!

This part is all fairly downhill/flat (but is part of an out and back, so what goes down must go up in this case) and easy to just plow through. The sun was in our faces a bit and I kind of wished I’d brought along my runglasses. Also, the signs that said “water stop ahead” along this part might as well have said “slip and slide zone ahead” in my Pureflows… man I love those shoes, but they do not grip a wet road at all! This part of the race went really quickly though and before I knew it we were curving up a slight hill into the residential part of the race, which winds through some neighborhoods before looping around at a turnaround point shortly before mile 8. I vaguely remembered this part from last year but couldn’t remember exactly where the turnaround was and kept hoping to see it just around the next bend (which is always annoying when it ISN’T). I kept looking at my watch here as well and seeing numbers I totally did not expect, not to mention the fact that I was way ahead of pace to hit my goal of 2:10. But I still felt good and just kept going with it!

At mile 7 I took Gu #2 and shortly after that hit the turnaround. I have a memory from this part of the course with Laurel last year – she wanted to take an extra long walk break as we ate GUs, so we walked and enjoyed knowing we were more than halfway done. This year I rolled on through and back through the residential part of the course. I remembered at this point last year Laurel and I started to see the super-fast elite full marathoners (and the guy in a business suit) and realized I wasn’t seeing any this year yet… probably because I was running quite a bit faster this year!

I popped back out onto the road running by the water for the “back” portion and set myself down for the uphills I knew were coming. On one of them a guy was standing outside his house with cups on a tray, and as runners would reach for them he’d yell “it’s not water!” At that point I saw his sign – FREE BEER! Haha. I allllllmost went for it, but you know, nothing new on race day and all that.

I saw the guy in the wheelchair again around this point going the other way – still chugging along! SO HARDCORE. Huge props for that guy, I was tired and his arms must have been killing him.

At mile 10 I took my final GU (I didn’t do a 3rd one at NODM or Seattle RnR and felt pretty dead in the last few miles, so figured I should go ahead with it this time) and chugged up the gradual uphills back in the direction of the park (which thankfully we would run by instead of looping around again).

Heading up one of the longish moderate hills in mile 11

Heading up one of the longish moderate hills in mile 11, on the “back” part of the out and back

I kept seeing faster times than I expected on my watch and going holy crap, well, ok! The race had seemed to go by pretty fast up to this point but I was starting to get tired (the complete lack of walk breaks probably also contributed to this) and time began to drag. We hit a long downhill in mile 12 (see my Garmin’s clocking above) and I tried to use it to my advantage and just blitzed it, passing a bunch of people in the process. I knew once I got through this mile we’d twist through a few windy streets and then be heading straight for the finish, which was a part I remember being really fun last year, but last year I wasn’t racing faster than I ever have before for the distance. I tried to distract myself and cranked my music as I came off the bottom of the hill and headed into the final mile, just trying to keep my feet chugging. (sorry to the spectators who saw me dancing like a dork!)

As we moved into the final winding streets I spotted a photographer – right after I coughed in front of him, which he so kindly preserved on film for me:

I noticed him right after this and was like oh great..

I noticed him right after this and was like oh great.. also, charming sweat mark there!

After a final annoying hill there was the 800m to go sign (of course all I could think was agh, that’s half a mile!) and further down I could see the row of flags over the course! I tried to pick up the pace but my feet felt like rocks. And there was the finish, so close and yet so far away – but I could see the clock counting down and knew that unless I totally biffed it I was going to shatter my goal of hitting 2:10. I tried to give it all I had and crossed the finish with pretty much nothing left to spare.

Apparently it took me 3+ min to cross the start line!

Apparently it took me 3 min to cross the start line!

I found Laurel on the sidelines shortly after and showed her the frozen face of my Garmin with my shiny new PR plastered across it:

I just noticed you can see Gu on my arm from where I wiped my mouth. Hot

I just noticed you can see Gu on my arm from where I wiped my mouth. Hot

She wasn’t allowed into the immediate recovery area so I collected my medal, grabbed the free milk and bananas and etc, and worked my way through the masses to reunite with her and gimp-walk up to the same waffle place we hit up after the race last year for the best recovery breakfast evaaaa.

We've done this twice, it's now a tradition.

We’ve done this twice, it’s now a tradition.

Afterward we walked back to the hotel (well she walked and I shuffled) where she rubbed my legs down (having massage therapist friends = bonus!) and I had a nice soak with a Lush bath bomb, which unfortunately had the side effect of giving me a raging migraine for a few hours (memo to self, drink more water and don’t immediately suck all the moisture out of your body with hot water next time) but I recovered in time for us to go out for a dericious recovery meal and drinks later that afternoon. We spent an additional day in Victoria just being touristy and enjoying not having to rush back home… and in all it was a great weekend, a fantastic PR race (I’d probably call this my favorite course ever at this point), and full of all the fattening delicious carbs my stomach could ever desire!

Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon recap

My morning started (after a slightly sleepless night due to a lapse of judgment in letting my cats sleep in my room) with my “Runnin down a dream” alarm at 4:15 and my coffeemaker gurgling to life. I tottered out to my kitchen and grabbed a cup, and gulped it down (with a banana) while I got ready. I decided to go ahead with my Pureflow 2‘s and Pro-compression knee socks, and made sure not to tie the Pureflows too tight to try to avoid the foot achies I endured on my last 10 miler.  I also setup my lemon-lime Nuun (which I probably should have done later since my handheld water bottle tends not to seal all the way if I don’t jam it down real tight…)

The race had offered an Uber promo code for runners, and I was seriously nervous about it (you don’t pre-schedule it – you basically ask for a ride when you want it, and I was worried they’d be busy with other runners, or take forever to get to my neighborhood and make me late, etc) but it was great! The car showed up within 10 minutes of my request and I hopped in and was shuttled downtown. On the way I realized my Nuun had leaked inside my bag, doh… I knew I should have waited on filling that bottle.

The Uber car dropped me on Mercer around 6am (free of charge with the promo code!) and I walked past the finish line and into Seattle Center where sleepy runners were shuffling in the same direction like zombies. My peoples!

Good morning Seattle!

Good morning Seattle!

I scooted straight to the loo indoors (a much shorter line than the portapotties) and did that glorious pre-run thing runners do, then sat down for a bit at a table to apply another layer of sunscreen, eat my vanilla Powercrunch bar (my favorite protein bars, nomm), and turn Henry the Garmin on briefly to make sure he was in the mood to get satellites.  Around 6:30 I moseyed toward bag check, where the sun was already beating down mercilessly. I applied more sunscreen (seriously, I am practically translucent, I need all the protection I can get from that death orb in the sky), checked my bag (always a “here we go, gulp” moment), and walked toward the corrals.

As I was making my way back (back, back, back) to corral 21 the announcers called for a moment of silence with peace signs for Boston. Everyone raised their hands in the air and a chilled silence fell over the crowd. I prayed everyone would be safe today.

I found my place in corral 21 and we slowly shuffled toward the start as corrals started to go off around 7am. They seemed to be releasing every 2 minutes so I guessed I’d take off around 7:30ish.

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

And finally, just after 7:35, my corral was off and running!

I tried to fall into a groove. I am not much of a morning runner (well, ever, except on race days) so it always takes a few minutes to get my road legs going. Mile 1 had a bit of an uphill heading down 5th ave under the Monorail tracks (it went by overhead as we ran, that was kind of cool) and through the core of the city heading south. I was feeling a little awkward and stiff and gut-rumbly at first but hoped that was just my body going “what the crap are you doing, you should be in bed right now!”

looks like I'm speedwalking!

looks like I’m speedwalking!

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

But then as we headed out of the downtown area there was a looooooong awesome downhill I picked up some speed on. Downhills are my jam, I looooooove them.

weeee!

weeee! (what am I doing with my hand?)

stompin' downhill

stompin’ downhill

As we (sadly) hit the bottom of the downhill part I tried to run evenly and focus on keeping my shoulders back, and my breathing in my belly. As hills approached I kept picturing the hills on my neighborhood loop in my mind and telling myself they were no worse than my usual hills, and just to chug it out and keep moving, that it was OK to go slow as long as I kept my feet going.

We turned onto Rainier Ave, which I remembered from last year as being mostly downhill. There was a fun water stop with volunteers in blow-up airplane hats. (I avoided all the water stops; I just ran down the middle of them and took a gulp of my Nuun at every mile marker… avoided most of the cup grenades this way but the ground was still pretty sticky, yeech) At this part of the course I really fell into an awesome groove at a sub 10-min pace with quick strides and even breathing and I just went for it and tried to hold that groove.

At mile 3.5 –  I ate a choco mint Gu, NOM

Alright with Me, my usual late-race pace-picker-upper, came on my playlist somewhere around here and I realized I was running faster than the beat and it was hard to run in time with the song. Made a memo to myself to move it to the end of the playlist for my next half.

I actually literally zoned out at some point along this part of the course and was one with whatever song was playing though I don’t remember what it was… fail.

A little past mile 4 (maybe 4.4 ish) two ladies screeched to a walk right in front of me; I hopped to the right to avoid them but ended up tripping on one and tumbling to the ground, twisting my right ankle – I popped right back up and said “sorry” (not sure why I was apologizing actually) and kept running, but my ankle was definitely not happy and I gimped a bit for about a mile. (It eventually felt ok for the latter half of the race but it’s pretty sore now… not bruised or anything, thankfully.) I noticed if I kept my foot somewhat flexed (which I’ve been trying to focus on anyway) it lessened the ache as I ran, so I tried to keep that up as well.

We hit a little out and back dogleg which thankfully wasn’t very long.. out and backs are mentally kind of grating for me. Gangnam Style came on my ipod right about here (don’t judge) and I have such a hard time not dancing when I hear that song, I had to keep reminding myself not to flail wildly. On the “back” portion of the dogleg I saw a dude running on 2 artificial legs! Hardcore!

We cut through some residential areas and I kept expecting the huge 2-part nasty killer hill from last year that precedes the Lake Washington part of the run. As I was watching for it an older lady suddenly tripped and fell about 10 feet ahead of me and sat up with blood dripping down the side of her face. She was immediately surrounded by other runners and many called “MEDIC!” – I hope she’s ok :(

Suddenly we turned a corner and were on Lake Washington – needless to say I was super happy with the course revision that eliminated the nasty, two-tiered, pooptacular hill. I had been planning to walk it, but decided since it had not made an appearance and I was still in a groove and feeling good, I would just keep running until I hit the other nasty hill I knew was coming – the trail leading up to the I-90 tunnel at the end of the lake portion of the course.

They had a huge blow-up rocker dude over the course right about at this point but what I remember most about that was the LOUD machines keeping him puffed up that blew hot air on me as I ran by, blehh.

About halfway through the race! Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road...

About halfway through the race. Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road…

I noticed as I crossed the 10k timing mat that I’d just broken my 10k PR, ha (both by my Garmin – which was timing me about .15 further than the course at this point, around 58:35 or something for the 10k – and by the actual timing mat, which I crossed in exactly 1:00). It actually didn’t worry me that I was running so “fast” (clearly a relative term for me) at this point, since my 10k PR was set when I was seriously out of shape and is one of only two 10k’s I’ve ever run.

I like the lake part of the course – the gently rolling hills, the sun blinding me, er, glistening off the water, and the tribute to fallen soldiers that always cuts to the heart. I was passing a lot of people here – I felt like I was constantly weaving around slower runners and 3-abreast walkers. I was in the groove and didn’t want to slow down and felt good, so I just let my legs go and kept passing people. (The past two years I’ve felt pretty tired at this point of the course so I figured I should go with it while I was feeling sprightly.)

I took my second Gu, delicious chocolate flavor (tastes like a packet of frosting!), @ mile 7, and shortly afterward accidentally hit the lap button on my Garmin, which threw off my mile splits for awhile – I didn’t realize it was now timing miles based off my new created laps and not the actual miles, and I didn’t correct this until mile 10.

I walked the nasty B of a hill up into the I-90 tunnel between miles 7 and 8 – my first walk break of the race! – and walked for about 30 more seconds inside the tunnel, then made myself pick it up again. My Garmin lost satellites but I noticed I was definitely on pace to break 2:10 – except for the fact I was already “behind” the official mile markers by almost 2 tenths of a mile, blargh. I was running the fastest mile splits of these distances that I ever had, all at a sub 10-min-mile pace (which has been a challenge for me in runs of 8 miles or longer).

Inside the tunnel everyone screams of course which makes you feel like you’re in a post-apocalyptic movie. Midway down the tunnel I heard car horns and engines coming down the right side of the road, which was roped off for full marathoners. Suddenly the lead truck and motorcycles went by and then came the lead male for the full marathon hauling arse past all of us. Everyone cheered as he went by; it was so amazing to think he was running almost twice as fast as me!

I was still in a great groove coming out of the tunnel and the blast of cool air as you exit made me throw my arms out (thankfully didn’t clothesline anyone, ha ha). We were running on the freeway now, curving around to the section that heads toward downtown Seattle. There are a few hills here too but I kept using the same mental trick from earlier in the race and picturing the hills on my home route, and just chugging up them. You turn a corner and it’s a looong curving downhill stretch into downtown, which I tried to let my legs free on and pick up some speed, but I was starting to feel it at this point, especially in my quads. I was still below a 10-min overall average pace and going faster than I ever had before for the distance.. and still losing more and more ground on the mile markers, arg!

Usually it’s my wind/cardio getting tired before my legs, but it was the other way around here – my breathing seemed fine but the legs were definitely feeling it, especially in my thighs.

I hit “lap” again on my Garmin as it hit mile 10 to try to correct the offset miles I’d messed up back around mile 7. I crossed the official mile 10 timing mat in 1:39:09 (though I’d gone that distance even faster by my Garmin’s mile 10 measurement) but both were PRs for the distance.  I was supposed to take another Gu here but I forgot! Maybe that would have helped me finish a little faster, maybe not…

lurching past the stadiums!

lurching past the stadiums

The course swept into downtown past the stadiums and train station, and then up onto 2nd ave, which is a slight, but long, uphill. I was curious to see what route we’d take onto the viaduct – last year we were routed up a steeeeep horrible offramp which was one of the worst hills of the race for me. I watched the runners up ahead and it looked like they were turning down Seneca, which is a road I’m on every work morning on my way to the office, so it was a little strange to careen onto it with thousands of other sweaty, puffing people. There’s kind of a steep downhill going down Seneca (which I briefly heel-stomped) and then a bit of an uphill to the actual viaduct itself but I didn’t allow myself to walk and just kept running. (Mile 11 – entering the viaduct)

My legs were feeling dead dead dead and at this point the mantras came out in full force. “Just keep running” – “don’t quit” – “you made it this far” – “you can maybe PR if you keep going” – “you don’t get to the last mile and stop, you keep going!” (thanks Jillian Michaels for that last one) I prayed for endurance and energy and the will to finish, no matter how slow. Running on the Viaduct is not my favorite part (and I always forget to look around at the scenery from up there!) though I was definitely feeling better here than I ever have in previous years. I guess putting in all the training really does help, huh, fancy that?!

After (thankfully) making an exit off the viaduct we puttered into the battery street tunnel which kind of sucks (cambered, mostly uphill, narrow, dark, blah) but I kept pushing through the pain, reminding myself of how I ran out the last 3 miles at NODM, and how I knew if I started walking I’d totally lose my running groove and walk a lot more than I wanted, and regret it later. Fleetwood Mac’s the Chain came on my playlist (it’s a weird mix… I know) and I knew I had maybe 2 or 3 more songs until I’d hit the finish, at 3 or 4 min per song. I was so ready to be done and felt like I was doing a death chug, but would not allow myself to walk.

We popped out of the tunnel and there was a slight downhill, yay! I picked up a little speed. I could see runners up ahead making a right turn. By my watch we had maybe a half mile to go though I knew I was behind the markers so it would be a little longer than that. Everlong by the Foo Fighters came on my playlist.

I like that the guy to the left looks like he's talking on his phone!

I like that the guy to the left looks like he’s talking on his phone.

I rounded the corner and up ahead I saw another left turn happening onto Mercer so I knew we were going to face the same last killer of a hill that we did last year (SO CRUEL right before the finish!)

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

I walked that poopy hill last year but I was DETERMINED to chug my way up it and defeat it this year no matter how slow I ended up going. I hit the hill and just crawled up that stupid thing but I did not stop running!

At the top of the hill I pretty much had nooooothing left and was just putzing forward on fumes and visions of recovery foods dancing in my head. I could see the finish line was still maybe .2 miles away. My watch had already hit 13.1 (probably before the hill) so I knew I wasn’t going to PR (stupid swerving, or long course, not sure which) but I was determined to finish at a run, or a shuffle, or anything not technically a walk.

I don't remember throwing peace signs...?

I don’t remember throwing peace signs…?

I had nothing left for a sprint so I just tried to keep my feet moving. I scanned the rows of spectators looking for my friends who were supposed to meet me and just chugged my way across the finish line in an official time of 2:13:59.

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

YAY! I was immediately handed a Gatorade, got medal’d, picked up some chocolate milk, and walked headlong into a fleet of photographers.

yay sweaty tired photo

yay sweaty tired photos!

I staggered toward the exit to the family area in a lurchy daze. My quads were already starting to stiffen and get SOOOORE, and my right ankle was reminding me I rolled it earlier and then ran 9 more miles on it.

Right outside the exit to the family meetup area I heard my name being yelled through the delirious fog in my brain; I turned to the right and there were my friends with a sign for me!! YAY!

Spotting my friends right after the finish - with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

Spotting my friends right after the finish – with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

the awesome sign they made me!

I didn’t pants my poop!

We staggered… well, they walked and I staggered over to the bag check to pick up my crap, and then over to the merch booth so I could buy a finisher’s shirt (I’m a sucker, I know). We then moseyed to a nearby Starbux, where I had a delicious iced caramel macchiato and sat for awhile, feeling my legs get nice and stiff. (Probably would have been best to stretch at some point…)

Later, after the most awesome-feeling shower ever, I ate my weight in recovery sushi with my friends (YUM) and we watched The Island with Ewan MacGregor… pretty interesting movie if you haven’t seen it.

Stairs are now my mortal enemy. So is getting out of bed, and sitting on the toilet. TMI!

I’m proud of this race: technically it was my fastest for the total distance I actually ran per my Garmin, ever (a sub 10 min mile) – I pushed through the heat, the ankle rolling, the hills I made myself run, I only took one walk break (a first in a half marathon for me!), hit an awesome groove for a good portion of the race, outran my running playlist – overall, this was technically my best half performance ever, even though it wasn’t a PR.

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

My Brooks Pureflows and the Pro-compression socks did great. My poor toe that got trashed in Newtons at the NODM half seemed fine, and I didn’t get any new blisters (also a first in a half). I also didn’t get a sunburn, so even though I was covered in crusty sunscreen sweat-off by the end of the race it did its job.

I forgot to take any running pics but did jumble together a Vine, which wordpress won’t let me embed, but apparently adding a twitter link works?

Clothes I wore:
Nike G87 tank – so soft and comfy
Brooks Ephiphany 2-in-1 shorts – love the coverage
Brooks Glycerin 2 bra – love the uh, “help” and modesty ;)
One More Mile 13.1 visor – probably could have tightened it a bit, it was down over my eyes by the end!
Oakley 26.2 runglasses – they don’t slip!! and they don’t squeeze my giant melon head
Pro-compression marathon socks many fun colors!
Brooks PureFlow 2 shoes were awesome in this race!
Runderwear I bought off backcountry.com awhile ago, don’t remember the brand.

Playlist for this race (clearly I have odd taste in music):
Monument – the Frames (rockin’ beginning to the run)
Hopeless wanderer – Mumford & Sons (starts slow, gets awesome)
You told me – the Monkees (folky rock awesome)
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
What wondrous love is this – Kenosis (proving Christian music isn’t all pansy)
Run the world – Beyonce (the actual song starts at :50 in that video.. also lol, her dancing)
My Sharona – the Knack
Are you gonna be my girl – Jet
No one knows – Queens of the Stone Age
Alright with me – Kris Allen (a fav running song)
1901 – Phoenix
Party rock anthem – LMFAO
Lotus flower – Radiohead
Gangnam style – PSY (don’t judge ;P)
All my tears – Kenosis
Wonderwall – Oasis
Mirror in the bathroom – the English Beat
Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Electrify – Beastie Boys
Pleasant Valley Sunday – the Monkees
Missing – Beck
Hello it’s me – Todd Rundgren
The denial twist – the White Stripes
The national anthem – Radiohead
Tusk – Fleetwood Mac
Circle – Sarah McLachlan
Runnin’ down a dream – Tom Petty (one of my fav running songs, makes it on every playlist)
La caravane – Caravan Palace
Daily Nightly – the Monkees ;)
White blank page – Mumford & Sons (another one that builds to awesomeness)
Take me out – Franz Ferdinand – makes me dance while I run.
The chain – Fleetwood Mac (dang, had a lot of Fleetwood!)
Everlong – Foo Fighters (only song I have a perfect score to on Rock Band, heh)
Harder, better, faster, stronger – Daft Punk (and my favorite mesmerizing video of it)

Tapering and stupid decisions

It’s the final week of taper madness! I completed another 10-miler on Sunday, which was slightly faster than the previous week’s even though I tried throwing in one-min walk breaks every 2 miles (cause I know I’m gonna be walking the 2-3 steep steep steep hills at NODM – I’m not kidding, these suckers are creek beds and they are like mountain steep, even the official race guide says walk them, though I’m a wuss and probably would anyway) – I wanted to see how the walks might affect my overall pace. I once again wore the (ugly-arse) Newtons and they did fine, though I may play around with the tightness of the shoes for the race – I usually leave the top of the shoe basically loose and tie fairly tight at the ankle, but that strategy worked a lot better on my Asics… the Newtons get a little floppy after awhile (TWSS!).

A day later I was looking at old race pics and bemoaning my ridiculously wacky gumby-leg tendency…

looks like I'm gonna snap an ankle!

looks like I’m gonna snap an ankle!

…and then made the ill-advised decision during my dreadmill 3-miler that evening to try to straighten out my stride… yes, stride adjustments 5 days before a half marathon; I never said I thought these things through. Not only was the run totally awkward and unfulfilling, but needless to say I woke up the next morning with a grumpy left knee (the outside of it to be specific) that didn’t HURT per se, but was definitely achey (especially walking down hills) and letting me know about it. BRILLIANT!

So, I stretched, and foam rolled, and it’s a good thing it’s taper week ’cause I subbed in more Jillian Michaels DVDs in place of the 2-milers I was supposed to be doing. The knee merely twinged at me today so I’m hoping if I don’t run until the race on Sunday (and keep foam rolling like a baws) I’ll stave off some hilarious unfortunate IT Band or runner’s knee injury.

But lesson learned; don’t mess with what works until AFTER the big event, no matter how wobbly-legged you look when you run!

Oh, I learned another lesson this last weekend, and this is a totally TMI story so you can tune out now if you so desire! I found a recipe for roasting garlic and decided to give it a whirl, so I bought a fairly decent-sized head of garlic and followed the recipe as close as someone who never cooks anything can… at least I didn’t cut off a finger or anything while beheading the cloves, so I did something right. The apartment smelled amazing after an hour of baking. I tried the garlic and it was DELICIOUS. I think a serving size was something like 4 cloves but I ended up eating the ENTIRE HEAD.

Fast forward two hours and I was sitting in a neverending cloud of garlic farts. Memo to self, next time only eat SOME, not ALL, of the garlic…

10 MILES DOOOOWWN

Srs big deal, folks! The last time I completed a 10 mile training run was 2011, before the first time I ran the NODM half. Last year, I only managed an 8 mile long run before the race due to some craptacular real life dramas (though somehow I managed to eck out a PR anyway) and I vowed that I would train properly this year.

slow and steady wins the race?

slow and steady wins the race?

I had 3 main goals for this outdoor run – go sloooow (Runner’s World smart coach says I should be doing an 11:16 pace for my long runs… whaaat? That seems… ridiculously slow.. I never quite understood the thinking behind “slow long runs = fast race pace,” but whatever), keep good posture, and breathe from my stomach. I pretty much accomplished all those things (though I think I was secretly hoping I’d go my half goal pace of 9:55ish) and felt pretty great for the first 7-8ish miles of this run. I got a bit tired toward the end but never felt like death, which to me is VICTORY! I also ran the whole thing without pausing/walking (even to eat Gu… just kind of slowed down and chugged along) except to briefly tighten my right shoe, which felt like it was coming loose and making my foot a bit numb.

I kind of over-calculated the amount of ground I would need to cover and ended up walking 5 or 6 extra blocks back to my apartment building. I run 4-mile loops around my neighborhood normally, and so I did 2 laps plus an extra half lap that I hoped would take me close to my starting point… not so much, but as I was walking out the oopsie distance, an older lady I’d seen working in her yard all evening called out that she’d seen me going by many times. I told her I’d run 10 miles and she was kind of shocked. “But I’m done now!!” I said with arms in the air.

I was a bit sore today, but more in the hips than anything else. My ankle did feel sore again for the first few miles of the run, which maybe means I have a wee strain going on, so I’ll probably take this week a little easier – but I do think I might run NODM in my Newtons, since they held up super well for the majority of the run (except that little shoelace incident, but I always double knot on race day)!

One other weird thing I’ve noticed over the last 4 outdoor runs I’ve had with Henry the Garmin’s heart rate monitor:

4.5 mile run @ 9:17 pace – Avg HR 165, Max HR 176
8 mile run @ 10:00 pace – Avg HR 167, Max HR 176
3 mile run @ 9:06 pace – Avg HR 161, Max HR 172
10 mile run @ 10:12 pace – Avg HR 166, Max HR 176

Is it weird that all these different paces, distances, and efforts have similar HR stats? Does that mean I’m always working too hard (or not hard enough)? I don’t really know enough about HR training to say… but it seems kind of strange. (Also totally weird to me is that the fastest run of this group, where I pushed myself the most, had the lowest average HR, though not by much.)

Last week of normal training, ack! Next week I taper!

8 miles of death

What goes up must come down? After my decent 5-miler earlier this week I think maaaaybe my brain was convinced that all my runs from here on out would be sprightly, bouncing, rainbows-and-unicorns-style jaunts. Alas, it was not meant to be.

I had a few goals for this run – go slooooooow, and as a result of the first goal, both keep my breathing from getting into the “freight train” range (seriously… I swear the people who live along my route can hear me coming from a block away) and also keep my heart rate from exploding into the 170 range.I’ve been reading up on this whole heart rate training thing, and apparently for someone my age (though these formulas are disputable), the max BPM should be 187, and an “easy run” should fall somewhere between 130 and 150. HA! My last 5-miler (though it felt good) averaged 165, with a max of 176. Sooo, I was looking to give my ticker a break on this run.

My goal slow pace was a 10 min mile (which I ended up averaging exactly somehow) but it was a fight the whole time to try to get it there – first my legs wanted to go wayyy too fast (kept glancing at my watch and realizing I was cruising along at my normal pace, so I kept trying to throttle myself back), then toward the end it was a struggle just to stay around 10 (I think from all the speed up/slow down/speed up I did at the beginning of the run) and I kept falling into slog mode. I also failed at keeping my heart rate down since it averaged out at 167 in spite of the slower overall pace. FAIL.

See, I tried! Ironically I was working harder at the end of this slow run than I was at the end of my faster run a few days ago.

See, I tried! Ironically I was working harder at the end of this slow run than I was at the end of my faster run a few days ago.

It was quite a bit warmer out there yesterday, that might have had something to do with it!

Anyway, here’s my weekly recap of half training:

Sunday 4/28/13
Scheduled: Cross train
Actual: Ran the Top Pot Donut 5k on tired legs. Got a free donut, hurray!

Monday 4/29/13
Scheduled: 5 miles
Actual: Did Level 1 of Jillian Michael’s Ripped in 30 DVD to give my legs a break.

Tuesday 4/30/13
Scheduled: Cross train
Actual: Rested

Wednesday 5/1/13
Scheduled: 5 miles
Actual: About 3.15 miles. Did some alternating sprints on the dreadmill (5 min warmup, then alternating 1 min sprint/3 min recovery for the duration of the run) in an attempt to actually try some speedwork.

Thursday 5/2/13
Scheduled: Cross train
Actual: Had a nice 4.5 mile run outside. 41:48, 9:18 pace

Friday 5/3/13
Scheduled: Rest day
Actual: Did Level 1 of Jillian Michaels’ “Killer Buns and Thighs” DVD. Hadn’t done this one in awhile… Forgot how good a workout it is! Got pretty sweaty!

Saturday 5/4/13
Scheduled: 8 miles
Actual: Ran 8 miles outside, see above! Also watched the Kentucky Derby – yeaaaah Orb!

Today the outsides of both of my feet are a little sore, mostly the right one – the 8-miler was the longest run yet I’ve done in the Brooks Pureflows, so maybe that had something to do with it? They’re a little more on the minimalist side and my feet might still be getting used to that… might try the Newtons or Asics for next week’s long run. I know with my midfoot strike I tend to come down on the outsides of my feet (see this photo – I’m in red to the left), so 8 miles of pounding on them might have made them wish for a little more padding.

And oh, I almost forgot – as I was chugging up a hill sometime in mile 6 I passed a duderunner going the other way, and he totally did some kind of fist-pump cheer thing at me as he went by, that was kind of awesome!

I ate some pavement and then set a PR

I was back in my hometown last weekend and took my car to a shop about a mile from my folks’ house for an oil change, planning to run the short distance back to the house. On the way, as I was looking for a less hilly cross street to traverse, I caught a lip in the sidewalk I didn’t see and completely faceplanted, skidding to a stop on my palms and knees (I later discovered I somehow road rashed my left shoulder too). One car was driving by at the time but they just kind of stared as they went past me… fail. Words cannot describe how nasty my hands looked at that point (I have a horrifyingly gory photo but I’ll spare you) and as blood started to gush I didn’t have much choice but to pick myself up and keep running the .75 miles left to my parents’ house. I felt bizarre running down the street with blood dripping down my legs and hands but what could I do? My knees didn’t hurt too much but my hands were BURNING!

My mom’s an RN and she bandaged me up pretty good when I got back to the house, and I gimped around the rest of the day in a hodgepodge of gauze and bandages. I’ve never biffed it while running before but I guess it had to happen eventually!

weeee

sexy

I was already signed up to run the See Jane Run 5k on Sunday the 15th (thankfully I didn’t sign up for the half marathon this year) and wasn’t sure if I should try to run it with my plethora of flesh wounds. I went to packet pickup Saturday afternoon since I at least wanted the tshirt (and ended up buying a pair of Newton shoes to try – can’t wait to take a real spin in them! They are my first pair of colorful shoes too!).

My best work friend Garrett’s wedding was that Saturday evening and I showed up looking quite fashionable in my bandage ensemble. I managed to hide the knees a bit with ace bandagey wrap (though I still was asked quite a few times what I’d done to myself) but there was no hiding the gauze on my palms!

macho man

From the photobooth at Garrett’s wedding – If I ever get married I’m totally stealing this idea. Just ignore my poor bandaged knees

I decided to show up race day morning for the See Jane Run 5k and at least collect the freebies they give you (champagne glasses and chocolate), but put on my bib and chip in case I was feeling good and decided to just go for it. About 10 minutes before the start of the 5k I decided I would just run it easy and hope for the best – and I actually ended up setting another PR, clocking in at 28:48 (chip time) for 3.13 miles according to Henry the Garmin!

yay PR!

mile 3 was kind of an abrupt attack of the Tireds.

My poor beat up knees actually didn’t hurt at all during the race, though I did get pretty tired in the final mile – probably a combination of my low mileage catching up to me and my body working overtime on my many many flesh wounds. At this point I know with proper training I could probably get a sub-28 min 5k, and possibly even faster. The weather was nice too, overcast and breezy and around 58 degrees – perfect for a little run. I’ve had the bad habit lately though of wearing my longsleeved NODM pullover at the start of races with my bib pinned to the shirt underneath, which means I both get too warm and also have to hold up the overshirt whenever I see a photographer… which made for some kind of awkward photos.

wee!

I included this one cause I think it’s the skinniest my legs have ever looked in a race photo, haha.

chuuug

awkwardly holding up bib

huuuurf

awkward sprint through the finishing chuuuute

buttkick!

I seem to have developed a decent back kick (is that what you call it?)

derp

T-rex arms FINISH!

.

Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon… I finished!

Just a quick note to say I completed this race yesterday morning. There were both awesome and not so awesome things about it. Full recap coming later, but for the time being –

Awesome: It didn’t rain!, lots of awesome crowd support, running down the viaduct was fun this year with great views, I finished and managed to beat my time from last year’s easier course…

Not so awesome: the new course seemed way hillier, and the hills that were there were pretty stiff; I walked most of them and my undertraining really started to show around mile 9, when the wheels started to come off a little bit (didn’t quite fall off, but I was definitely rusting up a storm); there was one final hill in the last 10th of a mile before the finish that was CRUEL!; I somehow ran 3/10th of a mile farther than the course distance according to my Garmin (probably all the pulling off to the far outside I did to take walk breaks)

But I did finish, in 2:21:17, in spite of the walking and tiredness – I actually beat my old time of 2:27:36. I used the same walk/run plan I made use of at NODM (taking a 1-2 min walk break at every mile marker and walking the hills if I felt like it). hopefully next year I can train properly and see what I’m really capable of!

Full recap coming later!

yes I'm a picture stealer

DONE!

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!

NODM half complete!

Though my training was pretty sucky due to my real life issues, I managed to beat my time from last year (which was 2:35) – I think that’s mostly due to my weight loss this year and that the weather was FAR better for running this time around (cloudy in the 50’s as opposed to to the hot sunny fires of Mordor). I did a walk/run plan for the first time (basically took a 1-2 min walk break at most every mile marker; skipped a few) and I think that really helped keep my legs going far past the 8 mile mark (the longest run I managed in training). Legs started to get tired after mile 9 but I just kept them moving and chugged along.  I’ll surely be sore and gimpy tomorrow but I’m pretty happy with this race and I felt awesome most of the run. This was actually a PR so I’ll be curious to see how well I can do with a proper training schedule o_O

Full report coming soon!

legs did not fall off! victory!