Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I believe I can fly!

...Or maybe I'm just falling with style.

YEARS ago I bought a Groupon for the Emerald City Trapeze Arts studio in Seattle. No one would go with me. It expired.

Then some ladies I know through running decided to go and I managed to latch onto their group and try it out.

In fact, we had enough fun to purchase their "Catch & Release" package of two additional classes.

...and then I never went back.

The other day I found the card in my wallet and decided to just go alone if I couldn't rustle up anyone to come with me.

It was really fun!

There was a wide range of abilities in the class, which was REALLY cool. I got to watch some advanced students as well as some that were more midrange and really see the progression of what I was learning and what you can do with it.

The teachers are wonderful. They're engaging and easy going so that you don't get too stressed. (Maybe that's just me)

I always forget that I'm actually kind of scared of heights until I start these activities. But I know how much fun they will be so I do them anyway:)

There is a teacher on the ground with your training wheels/safety rope. It's attached to a harness belt at your waist that is VERY securely cinched.

There is another teacher up on the platform that gets you set up and ready to swing.
This part is probably my least favorite, because you have to stand on the very edge of the platform. Your toes are hanging off the edge and then you have to lean WAAAYYY out with your hips. It feels like you're going to fall. The teacher is holding onto the harness at your back, so you won't actually fall, but it still feels really unsecure. You're also holding onto the trapeze bar with one hand and it's much heavier than you'd think. It's fine though. You're clipped into safety leads, and there is a giant net underneath if you do end up being the fluke that falls off before swinging.

The teacher on the ground calls out every move they want you to make WHEN you need to make them.

Over the course of 2 hours, I got to swing 9 times, which was plenty. It's more tiring than you would think!

I also got to do two transfers!

The teacher catching was like a ROCK. The first time I didn't get my grip quite right, and it didn't even matter. I could feel I was locked in by his grip.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Salty Half Marathon 2017 - Recap

I make no secret that I hate how expensive races are these days (Runners World agrees with me)
so when a couple of months ago I saw a friend on facebook post about a nearby half marathon that was under $30 I jumped at it.

Yoshi, Dennis and I signed up and carpooled to the start line in Seattle at Alki  Beach.

We also met up with Melissa, Nari, Steph and Jules at the starting line.

Me, Steph, Dennis and Yoshi at the start

Pro tip: if the location of a race says "beach" there is a good chance you're going to enjoy a nice flat course. Which we did;)

The weather forecast was calling for drenching rain and low temperatures.

Nari, Melissa, Me, Steph, Dennis and Yoshi

Luckily the state of Washington doesn't believe in weather forecasts and does whatever it wants.

We got 40 degrees and only the lightest of drizzles.

I wasn't really planning on "racing" the event, which was good because I didn't.

I ran a bit slower than normal in part due to the fact that I overslept that morning and didn't get my regular "morning routine" taken care of...and then for some reason I kept thinking "I should go get in line for the porta pottie's...nah I'm fine" even though I KNEW it was likely to be an issue.

We're talking 3 separate times.

But I didn't, and it was an issue. Not a HUGE issue, but enough that while was running and passed bathrooms I thought "I should stop and use that bathroom...nah, I'll be fine."

Finally at the turn around I decided that I had been ridiculous for long enough and should  stop and take care of business. Which is where I was reminded another reason to take care of things before running. Getting sweaty tights back on right sucks.

I had to jump twice because I took the photographer by surprise, but I
think it was worth it:)

I really did enjoy this race. For lots of reasons

The course is flat and fast. It might be a slight false flat uphill about mile 4, but it's an easy out and back with some awesome volunteers with water, sports drink and snacks/Gu. There were two 10/12 year olds at the water station at the turn around who were really enthusiastic. I like enthusiastic volunteers. Enough to take a bag of gold fish crackers even though I didn't want them. I just carried them for the next 6 miles...it was fine:)

There  were only  two things I didn't like...

#1 It's an open course so there are other runners out and about. It's hard to tell who is in the race and who's just out for a run. That means you might think someone in front of your is out for a jog when actually they are in the race and you need to put on some speed.

#2 There is a section of the course that has chipseal side walks which was oddly slippery. It's an out and back course, so you it happens twice on the course.

At the finish line there were plenty of spectators that cheered for all the runners. I like that. I think it's creepy when people just silently stand there and watch runners just because their person hasn't come in yet.

We got to pick out our finisher medal! A local artist creates one of a kind pressed glass fish for each of the runners. I picked one that looks like a Koi:) They also had fruit, chocolate milk and Halloween candy!

I would definitely run this one again:)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where Dreams Go To Die - The Ginger Runner

On Friday I went up to Seattle to meet my friend Blake to grab dinner before we headed over to the University of Washington for the showing of the movie/documentary from The Ginger Runner.

Where Dreams Go To Die
featuring Gary Robbins

I am so glad I didn't listen to that voice in my head as I sat in Tacoma traffic that said "go home...Blake will understand"...


It's kind of amazing that Ethan was able to create an engaging and gripping story when he wasn't allowed out on the trail with Gary. But he did.

Where Dreams Go To Die is what was written on of the bibs that Lazarus Lake (the Race Director) gave him during the race.

To give a little back ground about this "marathon"...Lazarus heard about the 1977 escape of James Earl Ray (the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.) from the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It took Ray 55 hours to cover 8 miles. He figured he could have done AT LEAST 100 miles in that amount of time. Soooo he created the race and named it "Barkley Marathon" after a longtime friend and running buddy Barry Barkley.

Read more about it here!

(I'm not naming a race after you Amy. Sorry)

This race is INSANE. 5 loops of approximately 20 miles each through the back woods of Tennessee in the Frozen Head State Park (that name is super inviting isn't it?) with NO aide stations, NO pacers, and you have to find 13 books that you tear a page from to show you ran the entire loop...'cause the course isn't marked. Oh, and each loop has a12 hour cut off and the race has a 60 hour time limit.

Since 1995 only 18 people have finished the race. FINISHED.

Gary ran in 2016 and dropped in loop 5, so he was determined to finish what he started and came back for 2017.

Gary Robbins and I

The big story is that he made a wrong turn in loop 5 and ended up running the wrong trail (even though he found all  the books) and finished in 60 hours and SIX SECONDS. It was heart breaking to read about but even more to see on a giant screen. (Blake and I knew how the story ended, but we were still on the edge of our seats with our hands over our mouths just WISHING he would get what he had worked so hard for.)

Gary's opening statements were hard to listen to, because it was so clear that this race has broken his heart. He was emotional just reading from his pages. I wasn't sure he was going to get through it without breaking down.

It reminded me of the Tucson marathon in 2010. I ended up calling my sister Abby (she was the only one out of FIVE that answered) on the course and breaking down crying because it was going so horribly wrong.

I can't help but wonder how I would have felt if I had to multiply that by FIVE LOOPS and sleep deprivation. Never mind the amount of training that he suffered through just to get there.

He did sound much better after the movie and he is determined to go back in 2018 and make it happen. He said he would go back as many times as it takes...his wife was sitting on the side of the stage and wasn't as stoked for that. :) But she's an ultra runner as well, so she knows how important this is for him.

She was a rock star support crew for him as well. WITH a baby the first year, and 2 year old the second year...all those training hours...wow.

This will sound kind of awful, but there is something really positive in seeing such an accomplished runner struggle with the same issues that I (and every runner I've spoken to) struggle with.

Our mental voices during the run...
Our motivation during training...
Remembering to hydrate properly and eat enough calories...
Needing everything to be the way you planned it to be, and then changing your mind at the last second.

I will say that seeing him drink ketchup straight from the bottle made me gag. Just thinking about it now, makes me gag.

We had about an hour for a Q/A after the film and I could have happily listened for another hour. Both Gary and Ethan were really great giving well thought and thoughtful answers to everyone's questions. The energy from the event was just awesome. I could have watched the movie over again the same night.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Deschutes River Ranch XC Open 5k 2017 - Recap

My favorite kinds of races are the small races where I'm not bumping into everyone around me.

I like knowing that my race entry is actually making a difference AND that difference will be for a local cross country team. In this case it was the Black Hills Wolves Cross Country team.

Which is nice, because running programs in the United States are horribly underfunded, and I like running so I like it when other people like running and I'll clearly pay to make that happen;)

The race was on Friday and started at 6pm so it was a bit tight for me, but I made it with 15 minutes to spare!

(Another plus, of smaller races, is the ability to register for a race in the 15 minutes before the starting gun.)

Another reason I ran this race is that they offered a trophy for the Largest Team and the Fastest Team. Megan at Pints Pavement Pounders is a sucker for a good competition so we couldn't disappoint her:)

Martinho, Me, Dennis, Julie and Sheila!

After a quick look around at the runners waiting for the start, I knew we wouldn't be snagging the Fastest Team. BUT...we had a chance at the Largest Team. (Guerilla Racing Club snagged the Fastest Team...again.)

I'll let you in on a poorly kept secret...I have a horrible sense of direction. I can get lost in a box with one end open.

The race director gave us a detailed description of the course and assured us that it was well marked and there would be course marshalls and we wouldn't have any trouble.

Challenge ACCEPTED.

I don't want to toot my own horn, but I almost made the wrong turn twice on a two loop course.

The very alert and enthusiastic XC kids managed to stop me, and I noticed  on my next lap that they proactively conned off those options:)

Seriously though, those kids were awesome. They cheered for everyone (even if they DID tell me I was "almost there" one mile into the race) and were alert and made sure that we were all going the right way. They were super cute, even though that's probably the last thing they want to be described as.

During the last loop I found myself thinking..."5k's take FOREVER...why am I still running?!...out of all the different terrain options cross country races are at the bottom of my list...I should probably try and remember this BEFORE I end up in the middle of the race..."

But I do like trail runs...I live a complicated life...

I did manage to snag the 4th overall woman, 14the overall runner which was pretty cool.

And P3 got the Largest Team! It was fun, even if I don't like 5k's OR cross Country and I'll probably run it again next year:)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tunnel Lite Marathon 2017 - Recap

I was worried about running this years Tunnel Lite Marathon not only because I really didn't train for it, but also because of all the forest fires in the area.

The shirt was kind of a miss for me this year, I thought it looked like a basketball
and another friend thought it looked like a spider web. Now the medal...it totally delivers every year!

The Jolly Mountain fire was particularly concerning. Even though it was west of the starting line AND we were running the opposite direction I was worried about the air quality come race day.

After running during some Orange air quality days this summer I knew exactly how horrible that would, be as well as dangerous and I don't even have asthma.

BUT morning of it was perfect running weather with clear skies!

Dennis and his wife Linda (it's Tradition!) drove up with me the night before so that we could get settled and be up bright and early because the race had a new improved earlier start time of 7:00am

(In past years there was an early start at 7:00 am for the runners who expected to finish in over 5 hours. The rest of the field started at 8:00 am.)

I think they changed it because it's been so hot on race day for the last several years. It's meant scrambling at the last minute in order to change the start time so that the runners can take advantage of cooler weather and be safer overall.

I like the change. 8:00am always felt strangely late to start a marathon.

Can you see me? Nope? I'm right by the should of the 3rd dude in blue. I have a knack
on being able to miss photographs.

Another change was a concerted effort to keep runners from parking at the starting line because...?
I dunno. They threatened to disqualify runners who did park there. I have no idea how they planned on enforcing that and based on the number of cars that morning a lot of runners felt the same.

We started at 8:00am sharp!

That 100 meter flip around will never stop cracking me up:)

I was also super excited to wear my One80light.com headlamp. It's awesome! 180 degrees of illumination and it makes me look like an angel:) Put and end to tunnel vision and feeling like you're going to trip over something.

That headlamp rocks!

I knew better but I wore a long sleeved shirt over my tank top because it was a little chilly that morning. By two thirds of the way through the tunnel I was sweltering and that shirt GOT TO GO!

There's a 2nd drop bag pick up when you exit the tunnel so that runners can drop their head lamps and any other gear that they don't need anymore, so I had the chance to get rid of the offending shirt and my headlamp. The volunteer was awesome and packed my bag for me so I didn't lose time.

That's when I accidently turned off my Garmin...which I didn't realize until a couple of minutes later so I ran the rest of the race not knowing how far off my watch was from Gun Time. (I found out afterwards I lost 1:20).

Speaking of Garmins...I did manage to remember to charge mine for a change, BUT I forgot that Michaela had been pushing random buttons the week before and changed the display data. I don't know how to adjust that issue during a run without deleting the current run. So for the duration of the race, I didn't have access to my overall average or mileage. Go me!

This was a weird race for me.

I've been having trouble with my race nutrition and ended up only eating at mile 3 and mile 9. Normally I eat something every 3 miles, but I really just wasn't hungry at all. I worried that I was going to bonk hard in the latter miles, but I still really didn't want to eat...so I didn't.

I also forgot my salt tablets. I drank Gatorade at each water stop  to make up for it. It worked out OK I think.

My hydropack is wearing out and I can't seem to get the straps balanced so that it doesn't chaff my shoulders or even better...bounce around and fall off one shoulder the ENTIRE race.
I think this was the cause of the extremely painful neck and shoulder muscle cramps I had around mile 8? I wasn't sure I could run an entire marathon with that going on, but they went away when I decided to ignore them. The story of every run ever:)

This course really is just gorgeous, so it was pretty easy to distract myself until the issue went away.

Bridges Catherine! We run over like three of them.

It looks like this, for pretty much the entire race.

It was the PERFECT day for running. 60 degrees, with a bit of sun peaking out...The air was just fine despite the odd pocket of smoke.

It makes me so mad at myself, that because I didn't train right I couldn't take advantage of the absolutely PERFECT racing conditions.

It really is infuriating to know that you ruined something because you didn't suck it up and get the work done.

I DID get an amazing race photo though, so that helps ease the sting a bit:)

I saw the race photographer coming up so I decided that since my time was in the tank I was going for the jump shot.

He missed it the first time.

So I jumped again and BAM!

Photo credit: gccphotography

It's so perfect.

I'm looking right at the camera, I'm not sticking my tongue out or making a weird face or anything!

Pro tip: Keep your knees together and kick your feet out to the side. It's both slimming AND you don't look like your legs got cut off.

My friend Randy said "Awesome photo! Although that looks like a prelude to you falling on your face in spectacular fashion."

Because he knows me all too well. I didn't fall, but I did get a rock in my shoe:)

Dennis was awesome and got some finish line photos of me and fetched me little Dixie cups of Coco Cola? It wasn't gross, so I don't think it was Pepsi but I hardly ever drink soda pop and taste buds go all weird after marathons. It really could have been anything brown. Whatever it is, a little bit of cola does wonders after long runs. I have no idea why.

Linda was awesome (it's tradition!) carrying my stuff and doing all the driving for us.

They were BOTH awesome putting up with my wandering away multiple times because I saw someone I knew and because that's what happens after someone runs a marathon. You either sit down and discover you will never be able to stand back up again, or you end up wandering around like someone with short term memory loss.

My G.U.T.S Ragnar Ultra ladies! Shelly and Larissa! They both crushed the race!

I really can't stress it enough. It sucks to run a marathon (or any race really) under prepared.

You miss opportunities to do your best which eats at you and everything is harder. You also end up sore for more days than you should be. And when you're bedroom is upstairs that adds up.

I couldn't pull a BQ this time, finishing in 3:41:30

It kind of cracks me up that next year that time would get be a BQ AND a cushion. Go birthdays!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Creating The Perfect Running Playlist

I'm gearing up to run my marathon in two weeks and I realized during my last Long Run that I am so TIRED of my playlist!

I didn't fact-check this. You're welcome.
I don't run with music very often, so I really shouldn't be tired of the songs but I am...so there you go.

I'm not a huge fan of running with music just because it can pose some really big safety issues when you can't hear what's going on around you.

I only wore one headphone so I could still hear what was happening around me.
...Or when you inadvertently run my dad off the road while he pushes my niece in a stroller because you can't hear him call out that he was passing.

She so cute! How could you run  her off the road?
I would much rather have a good long run chat with my running buddy than have music blaring in my brain.

These poor souls discovered what my father and sister already knew...I like to talk while I run. (Dad once commented that he could tell when I was struggling or running out of steam because I would finally shut up.)

I mentioned a race where no one was talking to my friend Larissa and she was flabbergasted. "I'm running too hard to talk during a race." I told her "I guess I'm not, because I like to talk while I run". We might have discovered why my race times don't match my projected times...

I created my first pace specific play list in 2014 for my potential Boston Qualifying marathon Light at the End of the Tunnel. (I also had my mother who is a certified Hypnotherapist lead me through a meditation session the night before the race. I also had some amazing friends pace me. Yes, I pulled out all the stops!)
It worked! 3:37:48 for a Boston Qualifying time!

I use the website www.jogfm.com to input my target per mile pace and it pulls up an extensive list of music that has the right beats per minute to match my per mile pace goal. Then I create the list in Spotify with the songs I think I'll like and listen to it multiple times at home to see if I hate any of the songs. My playlist is very...eclectic.

There are songs in it that when people hear them, I feel the need to explain and make excuses about why I'm listening to them:)

"Mamba #5" anyone?

Logic doesn't make many appearances in marathon running.

It took some tweaking but in the end I have a playlist of songs I like that will help keep me on pace!

If you want to check it out click here! "3:20" (Because I'm super creative with my usernames.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Beast of Big Creek 7 miler 2017

One of my favorite races in the area is The Beast of Big Creek.

I like it for several reasons...

First, it's in the gorgeous Olympic Forest which always increases my enthusiasm. (I forgot my phone in the car, so I "borrowed" these gorgeous shots from my friend Alice because she plans ahead better than I do.)

Second, it's super cheap. It was only cost $20 to register.
$25 if you wanted to do the 21k to the summit.

Third, they have tasty snack at the finish line. Trail runners and Ultra runners really know the importance of proper fueling:)

I haven't run this race since 2015, but I was excited to run it this year. The Forest Services had finished Big Creek Campground and the race had slightly changed the course. (This turned out to mean that the "short" race was longer.)

2015 was 6.6 miles                        2017 was 7.25 miles
The elevation stayed the same though at a nice "flat" 1100 feet of climbing.

I haven't had the guts to run the Summit course yet. They have a 4 hour cut off and I've never DNF'd before. I really like to keep that streak alive.  I also knew that I hadn't trained for a race that ran up 5,000 ft elevation straight up a mountain. But NEXT year, will be my year. I know it!

This year we had smoky, crappy weather all week in addition to near 100 degree weather, so I wasn't sure what kind of race I would have.
This is the IMPROVED air quality!

I was also trying to decide if I had a cold, or if the stifling congestion and overall crappy energy levels I'd had for most of the week was just a by product of the air quality.

I drove up with my friends Jason, Alice, Rudy and Alisha and even though we had all run the race before we had trouble finding the starting line. The race had sent out directions but because we had all run it before we didn't really read them...Luckily we got there early so we had time to wander around lost. We did bump into a runner who was a little more strapped for time and I was relieved to see in the results that he found the start in time to do the summit. I know it was really close for him!

The race does an EXCELLENT job marking the course. Lots of yellow ribbon blocking off the trails we weren't supposed to turn on, and tons of pick ribbon marking the trail as we ran.

I didn't get lost once, which for me is an achievement. I've gotten lost on routes I've run for years.

I'll be honest. I struggled in the race. The congestion was hard to run through. Obviously I can breath through my mouth, but since I don't normally run and breath exclusively through my mouth I was a bit short of breath through the first 3.75 miles which were all uphill.

I wasn't sure where I was in the results until I could count the runners coming back down. That was when I realized I had dropped to 4th place overall woman.

If I had been feeling better I might have been able to catch up to 3rd and make it a "real" race;)

But I wasn't and I knew I wasn't. I felt kind of woozy on the way up. Enough that instead of grabbing my back of fruit snack and eating it on the way down like I normally would, I sat and ate them while I chatted a bit with the runners that came in right behind me. (That cleared up once I drank some Gatorade at the finish line, which makes me think that it was my electrolytes.)

This is a photo from 2015. I didn't take any this year.

Funny story about my ego: While I was waiting in line for the bathroom I noticed a runner who was holding a steal water bottle. The kind you carry around during the day, not the kind you usually see at a race. I figured she was planning on hiking the race and that I wouldn't see her again until I was on the way back down.

Plot twist! She was right on my tail for at least two miles before the turn around.

I always laugh at myself when I make judgments on someone's ability based on something as arbitrary as their gear. It turns out that water bottles don't run...people do! To make the story better, it turned out that she had signed up that morning because she didn't want to sit in the car and wait for her fiancĂ© to run the summit distance. :) She nabbed 5th place in Overall Women!

I was relieved to get to turn around and start running back down the mountain. But MAN those switchbacks were rough! It's been really dry lately and it was hard to navigate the sharp turns without feeling like you were going to go flying off the trail.

Those don't last too long though, and then I got to open up and run!

Because I took that rest at the turn around there was a gap between me and the runners in front. I also managed to build a good cushion between me and the runners behind me, which is a nice feeling.

I Quit Last Night

Last night I quit my run.

I'm not saying I cut it short. Or that I adjusted it due to the weather or how I was feeling.

I'm saying I quit.

I started it.

I tried to run the workout...

But it wasn't working. My brain wasn't working.

I don't think I've ever quit a run before.

I've never had that feeling of being completely DONE mentally before really even getting started.

I could blame the hot weather, or the smoky air, the fact that my quads are still hurting from the race on Saturday...or even the fact that I officially have a head cold. I've struggled through workouts in worse weather, with muscles that are in worse shape. I've even made the horrible decision to run while I'm sick. Sure my numbers suck when I do that, but I still get the run in.

I just couldn't do it yesterday.

I ran my warm up (because you know the first mile is always a liar...so I ran 2.5)

I ran the first Interval and couldn't get my brain in the game.

I started the second Interval and got about a quarter of the way through it when I realized...

"I'm done."

And I was.

I quit. I was done.