race re-cap! a christmas miracle.

I ran my final half-marathon for 2015 last Saturday, phew. That’s 9 for the year and I’m gonna stick a fork in those suckers and call them d-o-n-e DONE.

Santa Runs Tacoma Half-Marathon
Tacoma, Washington
December 12, 2015

Knowing this would be my last half-marathon of the year, I went in hoping I could PR and close out 2015 on a high note.

With a race called “Santa Runs Tacoma” I knew it was going to be a festive good time. I donned my Santa hat and headed out for the 1.5 hour drive to the start line. There wasn’t really an address per se, and I’m terrible with directions, so I texted my friend Adam who lives in the area to find out if there was a Starbucks nearby that I could map to.

I mean, come on. With an SBX on every corner, there was sure to be one walking distance to this race.

Sure enough, there was, and I found my way with plenty of time to spare (which translates to arriving at 8:10am for an 8:30am start time).

Here we have an I-told-you-so moment by Mom, if my mom was that kind of parent to drop a random I-told-you-so bomb (hi, Mom). Luckily my maternal gal isn’t one to do that, but she HAS reminded me a time or 2,000 to always carry cash.

Because sometimes you get to a city and need to park in a pay lot but all of the pay lots are CASH ONLY and you barely know where you’re going and the race starts in 20 minutes.

So anyway, I drove around Tacoma for awhile.

I eventually did find a parking garage that would take a credit card but by this time it was 8:25. I was really close to the start of the race, though. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t:

  • gotten my race bib yet or
  • gone to the bathroom or
  • had any water or
  • any food except a few bites of a banana

and the race was starting in 4 minutes – 8:30 – SHARP.

I was wildly ill-prepared and really thirsty plus I had to pee, but I already had my mind set on getting a PR for this one so I had to sort of pretend that I was totally ready and in “the zone” that they talk about.

This race had pacers – kind souls who volunteer to run races at a set pace, holding a stick with the various goal times on it – and I was dead-set on attaching myself to the 2-hour pacer and not leaving his side. I knew that if I could hang on to the 2-hour guy that maybe (maybe?) I could surge ahead of him at the end and break that golden 2-hour mark.

It’s purely psychological, if we’re being honest, because my previous PR for the half-marathon was a 2:01. So sure, I only needed to shave like one minute plus a few seconds off my time to get into the 1:xx zone, but still, a challenge is a challenge and I was up for it.

Probably.

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This picture makes it seem like I was the only one in Santa garb. I promise I wasn’t the only weirdo out there, though.

So the gun went off and away we went. I was glued to the friendly 2:00 pacer and I wasn’t letting go. I was thirsty as h-e-double-hockey-sticks, but I figured there’d be an aid station at mile 2-ish so I didn’t worry too much.

But then mile 2 came and it was a big cluster of other thirsty runners and I completely missed the entire thing. The aid station came and the aid station went. And the 2:00 pacer kept on going and I *WAS NOT* going to let go of that dude.

So, water would have to wait. Le thirsty sigh.

At mile 4-ish I finally got some fluid in, and the pacer slowed down to let everyone get a quick drink, and on we went.

Tacoma puts on a great race, let’s just cover that for a second. It is a friendly, hospitable, lovely city and their courses are fantastic. I have never had a bad race in this town. It did start raining but, meh. Pacific NorthWET in December, per the usual.

So I kept after 2:00, even though it was feeling hard.

I do this mental thing every mile or really, every minute. I am constantly checking in on myself to find out what’s what.

Am I hurt?
Is anything bothering me?
Am I tired?

Let’s keep it real: usually, I just want to stop. Mentally, I am like “oh, hell no.” My mind just thinks this whole idea is terrible. I have to play some positive noise on a constant loop to convince myself that I don’t just get to stop right then and there, in the middle of the road. Sometimes I repeat I-can-do-this-I-can-do-this-I-know-that-I-can-do-this over and over and over like a mantra to help push the negative thoughts out.

Sometimes I ask myself questions like, “Are you hurting or are you just uncomfortable?”

If I answer “uncomfortable” then my mind is like, “suck it up, buttercup – we all have to feel uncomfortable sometimes.”

But I’ll tell you that there is a wildly big difference between trying to catch up to someone and being a part of a larger energy force moving forward.

For many many miles, I was trying to catch that 2:00 pacer. He was never out of sight, but he was often up ahead.

It was like there was this invisible rope attached to him that I was just pulling, pulling on trying to catch up and be up there, part of the group that had fallen in-line around him, but I often struggled to just keep him in view.

Finally, around mile 9-ish, I was able to pull myself up to him and the rest of the 2:00 crew and settle in. Technically, I was now running at a faster clip because I had gained enough speed to be WITH the group instead of trying to catch up from a ways back, but it somehow felt … easier. There is just an unexplainable force/power of the mob that just is.

I was just out there trying to go with the flow, baby.

So anyway, I was also feeling a little panicky. The deal is that I’m not used to maintaining 9:00 minute miles, and certainly not over the course of 13.1 miles, no sir. But panic is the best way to describe it: my mind was like, “ACK. This is not normal and are we 100% positive we can sustain this nonsense until the finish? What if we crash and burn? What if we don’t have it in us? What if, what if?”

It is so easy to get lost in our own heads, you guys.

My heart was racing and I was having trouble getting a full breath, these are true things. But something else that was true is that I was still doing it and I wasn’t dying or collapsing on the spot. I was embracing the discomfort and fear and uncertainty and I wasn’t injured or really in pain (only partially true) so I may as well try for this thing, yes?

And then, the finish line.

There it was! I looked at my watch and was like, “Hell yeah. Let’s do this.”

So I did it. I kicked my fears in the teeth and I got my sub-2:00.

Sure, it was 1:59 and change. Barely below the 2:00 surface but do I care? Not one single bit. I had this goal and a Santa hat and no time to go to the bathroom and I did it.

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And I feel great about it. My mini-Christmas miracle.

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My 2:00 pacer-slash-new-BFF.

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The Big Guy ran the race, too, and was even giving out presents at the end. Man, that guy has skillz.

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City_Santas

This has nothing to do with the race, but later that night we went into downtown Seattle for our company holiday parties and there were Santas EVERYWHERE. Apparently for a Santa convention. No, I’m not joking. It was quite a scene.

What’s making you feel great today? I’d love to hear about it.

Run on, friends!

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race re-cap(s)! a holiday hat-trick.

As cliché as it may sound, I love this time of year when we pause for a second and think about the stuff that really matters.

Sure, everyone is “busy” and there’s always the hustle/bustle and not enough time in the day to get it all done, etc. But really, there is time, and I love scrolling through pictures and reading updates from my virtual and real friends who share their inspiring moments of gratitude in the midst of a lot going on in the world that would give plenty reason enough to want to just throw in the towel and claim defeat.

There are hardships all around us, to be sure. As the saying goes, we are all fighting a battle on some scale, but I am constantly motivated by people around me who find some silver lining.

A reason to smile.

To be grateful.

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I’ve blogged candidly about my less-than-love feelings I have about running, but I’ve been making a conscious effort lately to shift my mindset from thinking of things like work-outs, or undesirable tasks, or boring chores less from a place of disgruntled obligation and more from a place of grateful service.

At the risk of this sounding too new-agey, this strategy kinda works, you guys.

I mean, I’m not going around all the time thanking my legs for working or blessing the air for letting me breathe, etc. but when I stop and think about what I have and what I’m able to do, relative to what so many others might be lacking or completely unable to even attempt, it makes for a more grateful, mindful perspective on what’s what.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving weekend where I ended up running three separate races, kinda by accident. I didn’t set out to run three races all in the same weekend, but I kept signing up for stuff and then forgetting which weekend was which and then pretty soon I found myself in the middle of an accidental hat-trick.

Well, no matter. I was committed (and I think a few friends of mine thought I should actually be committed, but the other kind) so I just decided to roll with it and see what happens.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

RACE #1: Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Bainbridge Island, Washington

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Truth be told, we can’t really call this one much of a “race.” It’s a fun little 5K (or 1 mile) at a local park to benefit our food bank and it’s just a great community event.

Our 8yo was determined to run the entire 5K (3.1 miles) instead of the 1 mile so I managed my expectations accordingly about what kind of running I’d be doing based on her somewhat lofty ambitions.

My brother was in town for the holiday and was up for running it with us so it was just a really fun, low-key event for the whole fam-damly.

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The writing was on the wall when the 8yo insisted that her mismatched Chuck Taylors would make her run faster.

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I don’t spend near enough time with my favorite firefighter aka brother and was just really grateful to have him trotting along by my side.

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This crew really put the F-U-N in “fun run”.

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One of my favorite things about this race was their logo. It’s a TURKEY and a FOOT, you guys. So clever.

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When you’re just running for fun, there’s always time for mid-race selfies with your pals. Oh, come on. There’s always time for selfies regardless.

This was a fun one and we might’ve started a new family tradition. But then again, the 8yo crossed the finish line in tears, vowing to never EVER do this race again so, we shall see.

Next up:

RACE #2: Half-Bone 1/2 Marathon
Friday, November 27, 2015
Tukwila, Washington

I don’t normally run 1/2 marathons but I have this side goal this year to achieve “Double Agent” status in the Marathon Maniacs group I’m a part of, so I gotta tick them off the list. I’m almost done though, thank goodNESS. Oy.

This one was in south Seattle with an ungodly hour start time so I had to take that all-too-familiar 5:20am ferry. This is all self-inflicted nonsense though, I realize, so I attempted to put on my best grateful service face and trudge off in the dark to the ferry terminal.

This was a SUPER COLD day, you guys. Yowza. I just couldn’t warm up. I arrived crazy early so I just sat in the parking lot, locked my doors (sketchy ‘hood), wrapped myself up in a blanket burrito and tried to take a nap.

Until my friend Adam and his partner Richard snuck up on either side of my car, banged on the windows and scared the living bejeezus outta me. Nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get the heart pumpin’. (insert expletive)

This was a small but well-organized race with all proceeds going to another food bank, which just makes the whole why-in-zee-hell-am-I-doing-this much more worth it.

We got ourselves all checked in and stood around trying to stay warm until go time. You never really meet a stranger when you’re part of this running nonsense, and freezing cold venues make for fast friends.

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“Hello, people I don’t know. You’d like to share some body heat while we wait? Sure thing, let’s cuddle.”

My pal Adam and I, questioning our sanity.

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Side note: Adam was running the full marathon version of this race, as part of something insane called Quadzilla. What is Quadzilla? 4 full marathons in 4 days. OMG. And he nailed it. OMG again. So impressed.

Almost ready.

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Photo bombers are just the BEST. Go Hawks!

Go time.

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I am PUMPED! I am READY! Or something.

This race was essentially an out-and-back along the Interurban Trail with some lovely river views and etc. Basically it’s impossible to get lost. Unless you are me. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Isn’t this pretty?

View_HalfBone

Alright, sunrise. ALRIGHT. I GET IT. I’m grateful, you don’t have to yell at me.

You guys, I got so goddamn lost. I feel like it’s almost a skill, like a reverse-super power, to get as turned around as I’m capable of getting. I get lost in my tiny hometown, population 17,000. I’m a hot mess of navigational challenges and this race day was no exception.

I zigged when I shoulda zagged. I didn’t see the turnaround. I mildly panicked and I might’ve cried just a teensy bit.

But I kept on going and even though I ran an EXTRA 1.1 WHOLE MILES FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I finished.

Le sigh.

Time_HalfBone

Everyone else only got 13.1 miles for their money. I got 14.2. SUCKAS!

Me_HalfBone

The guy who took my picture said “smile!” Do we really need to split hairs between a smile and a grimace? I thought for sure I was smiling.

HalfBone_medal

See that frost? It was freezing when we started and it was freezing when we finished. The End.

So anyway. That was fun.

Last but not least:

RACE #3: Seattle Marathon
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Seattle, Washington

SeattleMarathon

If you’ve been following along, you might know that completing 50 full marathons by age 50 is my ultimate goal, so of the three races I had scheduled for this weekend, this is the one I really needed to get done.

And I did get it done, but it wasn’t all that pretty.

It was another 5:20am ferry departure, but this time with a couple of fun gals that were riding over with me into the city.

Erin_Baj_Me

This is the only picture we have of the 3 of us together, but I never buy race photos so just pretend it doesn’t have the copyright watermark on it, ok?

This is a really popular marathon so there were thousands of participants and it was a little bit chaotic. Not because it wasn’t organized well – the organizers and the city do a great job with this event – it was just a massive crowd and challenging to navigate.

The three of us had different time goals so once we got to the start area we wished each other well and I didn’t see these ladies again for the rest of the race.

I was also planning to see two other friends (Adam, who you met above, and Mike, an old friend who I actually ran my very first marathon with 15 years ago) but it was just so packed I didn’t see either of them at the start either.

Anyway, off we went. Seattle puts on a great race in November and this was also my very first ever marathon 15 years ago, so I was excited to do it again.

Start_SEA

Again with the photo bombers. Runners are weird. Present company included.

A few miles in, I found my friend Adam and got to see him several different times along the course. I also ran into my friend Kate; it’s always fun to see familiar faces when you’re out there pounding the pavement for so long.

The volunteers were awesome. They can really make or break a race and I just can’t say enough about the good people who give their time out there to help get runners through these things. It’s not an easy job and I always make a point to try and thank them – especially the ones picking up the trash! So grateful for these kind souls.

Me_Sea_Run

Here is “PROOF” (ha ha) that I ran this race. Here is also proof that people hold hands and laugh and frolic during a marathon?!? Just, no.

My goal for this race was a 4:15. Two of my marathons this year have been 4:20 so I decided to try and cut my time. I wanted to use a pacer but the closest they had was 4:10 or 4:25; nothing in-between.

This was my 15th marathon. I’ve never been fast but I do know how to pace myself to get through 26.2 miles. I decided to just go all-in and shoot for the 4:10.

Needless to say, I went out too fast. Here I was, 15 marathons in to knowing what I’m doing and I made a total rookie mistake.

But I mean, listen. I’m 41 years in on living and make total rookie mistakes at life like, every day. So it is what it is. We learn and we move on and (hopefully) use these experiences to help us not screw it up the next time.

That’s about all we can do, no?

Family_SEA

Always good to see the support crew at the finish even if the youngest one is all “let’s go, Mom, I can’t feel my arms.”

Me_O_SEA

She doesn’t always tolerate the selfies anymore. Gotta take what I can get.

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I finally found my old friend Mike!! Of course I had to pull the poor man out of the line for hot tea to get this picture, but selfies don’t have time for no hot tea, people.

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I ran my first marathon 15 years ago; this was my 15th marathon; and it’s 2015. Kinda fun with all the 15s going on there if you’re into numbers.

All in all, it was a good weekend. There were laughs, there were tears. There were ups, there were downs. But what the weekend lacked in hours of sleep, it more than made up for in hours on my feet. I mean GRATITUDE. That is what I meant.

Run on, friends!

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race re-cap! happy(ish) trails.

It feels a bit out of context to be writing a re-cap of a race that I voluntarily entered, paid for, and suffered through when the world is aching right now from so much confusing and senseless pain and involuntary suffering.

Is it insensitive or lacking in empathy to push on with the act of living and share it with people, while so many others can’t? This is a philosophical question I ask myself in the face of so much tragedy. It’s easy to feel helpless and utterly lost in despair, wondering what can I do? I’m just one person out here, a tiny speck in the greater scheme of things.

I certainly don’t have any profound answers, but I do know that when we keep our eyes and hearts open to the chance to connect meaningfully with other human beings, it never seems like a waste of time. Or too small. Or insignificant. That’s what happened at my race yesterday, and my heart tells me it’s worth sharing.

First things first, a few quick details:

Grand Ridge Trail Half Marathon
Issaquah, Washington
November 14, 2015

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I don’t usually run trail races. In fact, this was only my second EVER. I ran my first trail race 10 years ago (a 50K ultra … thanks but no thanks on more of those). But I need to tick off eight 1/2 marathons this year for one of the goals I have, and this just happened to be the option available on a weekend I had open.

I got to the race start with no problems, and as you can see it was shaping up to be a typical sunshiney day in the good ol’ PNW. Ahem and cough.

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They don’t call it the Pacific NorthWET for nothin’.

Registration was a breeze and the volunteers were awesome. People who run trail races on the regular are the best kind of crazy and this race was no exception. I was surrounded by friendly weirdos who didn’t seem to notice the relentless downpour that Mother N had delivered for us. We all stood around at the start, happily listening to the race director give final instructions and details, antsy to get this party started.

But you guys, this Type-A germaphobe couldn’t help but glance down at her shiny, dry, mud-free running shoes and think quietly to herself, “It’s been nice knowing you, clean shoes. You too, dry socks. Until next time.”  

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They both know what’s coming.

And then, it was go time. The excitement on my face was palpable.

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I’m as concerned for my sanity as you are.

Annnnnd, off we went! The first 1/2 mile or so was a nice wide part of the trail that fit all the runners nicely. But then we cut up to a single-track trail which is exactly what it sounds like: single track, aka single file. Passing was not really a safe option with all the mud and slippery rocks, but that wasn’t a huge problem for moi because passing people at races isn’t really “my thing”.

At about mile two we came to a completely washed out area of the trail. A river runs through it isn’t just a Robert Redford tear-jerker from the 90’s, y’all.

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Kissing my dry socks guh-bye.

So there we were, all bottlenecked and unsure how to navigate this thing. A few brave souls were just going renegade on it and charging through. But I found myself standing frozen in place alongside a fellow runner who seemed equally perplexed.

I looked at this total stranger, she looked at me, and I said, “do you just wanna hold onto each other through this?” and I’d barely finished that question before she could say “YES”.

I took her hand and she took mine and we made our way.

And I was struck right then and there, standing up to my calves in frigid cold water, that this is what it’s all about: we need each other.

We need to hang on and not let go.

Even in – especially in – the face of uncertainty. Of adversity.

We made it across the slippery river, that stranger and I. We thanked each other and kept going. Pushing ahead.

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“Uh, oh! A river, A deep, cold river. We can’t go over it, We can’t go under it, We’ve gotta go throught it! Splish splosh, splish splosh….”

Around mile four, I came upon another beautiful expression of human kindness: bacon.

Yeah, you read that right.

There were angels at mile four disguised as humans and they were cooking bacon. BACON. And other delicious wonders. I was beside myself. I felt like I had found a mirage in the desert and my mind was playing tricks on me but it was REAL, you guys. I KNOW.

This was the one and only aid station on the course and since I had forgotten to bring my water bottle (in keeping with tradition, I always manage to forget something) I didn’t waste any time with thinking twice.

Here’s the inventory of what got in m’belly:

  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 cheese quesadilla
  • 1 chocolate chip cookie
  • 1 Oreo cookie, birthday cake flavored
  • 1 more strip of bacon for good measure
  • Gatorade-like liquid to wash it all down

I thanked these kind souls and was on my way with a fresh burst of energy. What can I say? I don’t really come equipped with the speed, or the skill for that matter, for this running nonsense but I do have the iron will – and stomach – to finish a race.

I finally reached the turn-around point which was a lot of touch-and-go downhill. I got passed left and right on this section because it turns out I’m a super cautious trail runner, not gonna lie. I just can’t play it fast and loose: I have too many races ahead of me and too many years behind me for those shenanigans. It’s just not me and I wasn’t going to risk a twisted ankle or worse to pretend otherwise.

As irony would have it, once I turned around and started huffing it back up the hill I literally said to myself, “Well, uphill is slower but safer” and then promptly tripped on a slippery rock and face planted smack dab into the mud.

Well alrighty then.

No worries. Even though I was now covered head to toe in mud and guck, I took quick stock of the sitch and found that I had managed to only bruise my ass and my ego.

Onward!

The next few miles were uneventful. And then I opened my mouth to take a deep breath and…

…a bug flew in. Mom always warned me about this! *shakes fist at sky*

That damn thing would not come up and he would not go down, no matter how hard I coughed and gagged, trying to avoid another clumsy face plant. So basically he just sat there, taking a free ride in the middle of my throat like an unwelcome hitchhiker.

So be it, I just wanted to be done.

Because of the way the course was laid out, I didn’t think I’d be seeing the Bacon Fairies™ again, but low-and-behold, there they were. Oh, the lucky stars I was counting.

I was only going to have some water to try and dislodge this li’l bugger, but since I was eating for two (bugs are people too?), I decided to have just one more piece of bacon. Alright, and a peanut butter cookie. FINE, I also had a chocolate chip cookie.

It still wouldn’t budge so I grabbed an Oreo as a last-ditch effort (desperate times, guys). That finally did the trick and I was back on my way. But first I washed all this down with a cup of Coke. You know, just in case all this food decided to upset my stomach. What?

With the freeloading bug gone, nothing newsworthy happened after that. I finished the race, high-fived some volunteers, shook the race director’s hand, took a selfie with a friendly stranger-slash-internet-friend that I’d met at a race last month and was on my way.

It was a wet day. It was a messy day. But also, it was a good day.

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Hi fun person that I don’t really know! Can I put your picture on my blog?

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This photo does not do justice to how much mud I actually brought home with me.

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RIP, clean shoes.

Would I do this race again? I don’t think so. Not because it wasn’t awesome and well-organized by great people. All of that is true, and I’m super grateful to live in an area with access to such awe-inspiring, gorgeous trails, but I just don’t have the daredevil gene in me to feel comfortable with this noise. Heck, I don’t even like roller coasters. Alright fine, I don’t even really feel that comfortable on a swing set.

And that’s ok. We’re all different. On the running path and the path of life.

There is room for all of us.

Run on, friends!

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giving thanks.

My last post was kind of a big Debbie Downer confessional on the opposite-of-love feelings I have about running, and that’s not the message I want sitting out here, guys.

And what better month to focus on giving thanks than this, the month of
THANKS. GIVING.

You see, the day after that last post, I got a somewhat scary phone call that stopped me in my tracks.

Here’s the backstory:

A week prior to the call, I had finally decided to stop dragging my heels and get the mammogram that was a year overdue. (Side note: am I really 41 now and FOR SURE not in my 30’s anymore? I might still be in shock on that, but anyway, let’s move on.)

The deal is that my mom’s a breast cancer survivor and it’s just smart business to stay on top of this stuff, even if it scares us and we’re intimidated by the whole ordeal.

And by “us” and “we” I squarely mean “me”.

But I needed to start being 41-and-responsible about it so I pulled up my Big Girl Ps and scheduled the damn thing.

It was easy peasy – 10 minutes at best – and I was headed back home before I could even say ‘pancake’ (little mammogram joke there). They told me that they’d email the results within a few days and I didn’t give it another thought.

But then a few days went by, and then a week, and I was kind of like “huh, that’s marginally interesting” and then the phone rang. And the person on the other end was like “so, there looks to be something in your left breast so we’re gonna need you to come back in for more tests and possibly an ultrasound and something something etc.”

…and you know that feeling where time kind of stops? Yeah, that.

It was surreal and made my heart race but I’m equal parts optimist + worrywart so my mind was like “it’s totally gonna be nothing…right?”

So, a week of waiting for the next round of whatever they needed to do while, back at the ranch, life marches on, as it is known to do. Whether you worry about a thing or are able to put it into a neat little box for later: life still insists on continuing forward.

And that’s what I did. I kept moving forward, because I could.

I logged my runs.
I did my training.
I put one foot in front of the other.

I tried to focus on everything/anything else besides this kind of odd unknown hanging out in the universe, tapping me on the shoulder now and then like “pssst, don’t get too comfortable with stuff, I’m still over here ya know.”

Finally, my follow-up appointment was yesterday and I was nervous as hell, I’m not going to lie. My body was sort of a ball of dry-mouth-sweaty-pits-racing-heart even though I was SURE it would be nothing, but what if it wasn’t nothing?

The long and short of it is, they did the tests and then had to do some additional tests and then one more test for good measure and I am so happy to report that even though all this testing did turn up a tumor, it appears to be a noncancerous variety. I’m just a biopsy away from a solid green light on this one.

I left my appointment, got into my car and was abuzz with adrenaline, my shirt soaked through from stress-sweating, and

I felt immensely thankful.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot, so ready to just be home, I looked across at the Olympic Mountains – the mountains I grew up taking for granted – and took a deep breath and said “thank you”. Out loud. To the universe, to God, to myself, to my body, to no one in particular.

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I did not take this picture. Driving + photography = unsafe. Also, come on. Do you see me taking pictures like this?

In summary, I do hate running. That is still true.

But sometimes it takes a good shake – gentle or otherwise – to make us remember that if our able bodies CAN do something, we just simply SHOULD do that thing – whatever it is – and embrace the suck.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Gratefully.

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Run on, friends!

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the h-word and running.

This is sort of an anti-running post. 

In that I hate running, you guys.

Alright, the h-word is pretty strong and I try to use it sparingly, but I gotta keep it real here. People ask me about my running sitch fairly regularly so I thought I would just address it head-on:

It is 100% always, every single time, hard for me. 

I want to be really clear about that and put it in bold type and a bright color because I feel like maybe someone might mistake frequency with ease in the case of how often I run.

Sure, I do happen to run on most days of the week.

But what you need to know is that I WANT to run on exactly zero days of the week. There are many people I know who need to exercise every day or they just don’t feel complete. Their day feels off and they are all out of sorts.

I will never be that person.

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today:

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 5.27.59 PM

I love a good inspirational quote as much as the next person, and this one was no exception, but really, if I had a dollar for every time I said “I’ll do it tomorrow” I could probably just pay someone to run for me.

Oh, a girl can dream.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with any of this, but I guess I just wanted to let you know that if you h-word exercising too, you’re not alone. You’re gonna see me running more races but it’s all a bag of mental trickery. It’s the solution I’ve found for trying to stay healthy and stuff like we “should” do. And what-not.

Sure, it feels super great to finish. But it’s also really hard for me to start.

I’m just out here waking up every day trying to do my best. Feel free to join me.

Run on, friends!

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race re-cap! a salty half.

I ran a 1/2 marathon on Saturday to make up for that “just for fun” one I did a couple of weeks ago that didn’t end up counting towards that moderately-crazy goal of mine.

Well, this one DID count (I’m almost positive, although they don’t have the results up online yet so I’m getting a teensy bit nervous about it but let’s not dwell on that).

Salty Half
Seattle, Washington
October 17, 2015

I’ll post the official results if/when they become available (fingers crossed) but for now, I can tell you that I finished in 2:09 and change. Not as fast as I had hoped, but my legs were still a little creaky from my full marathon six days earlier so I was fine with it.

The race started and ended along Alki in West Seattle, which is an area that I really love and used to live near, so was excited to return to my old stomping grounds.

I’m starting to get WAY too familiar with the 5:20am ferry ride, but this time I was PREPARED.

And by that I mean I brought a blanket for my nap in the car.

ferry_sleep

Blankets elevate the car nap by like 10,000%.

The race didn’t start until 8:45 and I still had over an hour to wait for my friend Adam who I was going to be running with, so I took a second nap in a parking lot like the classy girl I am.

I did get this picture of the city skyline before dozing off, though.

city_morning

Adam arrived around 7:30 which left us plenty of time to find coffee and warm up by the random fireplace in the middle of Tully’s. It was kinda dreamy.

Tullys

A very reluctant customer took this photo for us. He was busy emailing with the cop in the background. Seriously. They were like “did you get it?” … “yeah, did you get my reply?”. For realz.

feet_fire

I don’t run in flip flops. Probably.

Even though we’ve been Facebook friends for awhile, I only just met Adam and his partner IRL at the Victoria Marathon last weekend. It sort of feels like we’ve known each other forever though, which is helpful when you run with someone cuz out there on the course is no place for putting on airs if you know what I mean.

skyline_start

These are our “game faces”. Fierce, right? No need to answer that.

We ran into another friend who was doing the race as well, so that made for some fun antics since none of us were taking this race too seriously.

IMG_9349-X3

I was smiling on the inside.

The race itself was pretty small and homespun but affordable and well-organized. It was an out-and-back along Alki into Lincoln Park. The weather was great and the views were spectacular.

start

I forgot to take a picture before the start so I had to take one on the move. Sorry so blurry, I am just so fast. That last part is a lie.

Nothing crazy for hills, but my legs were still pretty tired from Victoria so I wouldn’t say it was the easiest 13.1 I’ve ever gotten through.

Having Adam entertaining me with great stories helped a TON and I sort of made sure he did all of the talking since he is way faster than me and I wanted him to be at a tactical disadvantage so I could keep up. Just kidding, Adam! I hope he isn’t reading this.

IMG_1119

I have no idea what’s happening here.

The volunteers were super friendly and supportive, and there was plenty of water and Gatorade every few miles. There wasn’t anything for fuel like gels or what-not, but for 13.1 I usually don’t eat at all so I didn’t mind. I had packed a couple of gels in my race belt in case I felt the urge, but didn’t end up needing them.

Adam and I decided to hold hands across the finish line like the über-dorks that we are, but we miscalculated how close we were and ended up running about 200 yards hand-in-hand. We had committed to it and it would’ve just been awkward to let go. Or, less awkward. Let’s move on.

hand_in_hand

We were as graceful as synchronized swimmers, you guys. It was quite something.

IMG_1118

Just chillin’ post-race. Our friend Zach found these Waldo glasses on the ground along the run and decided to wear them. In related news, God bless the immune system.

I thought this was really cool: instead of race medals for finishing, they had handmade glass fish ornaments made by a local artist. I chose mine based on the colors I knew my 8yo would love, but they were all really beautiful.

fish2

fish

The best part about racing is the eating, and Adam and I didn’t waste anytime on that agenda item. We went to an old fav of mine – Luna Park Café – that was just up the street from the race finish and serves breakfast all day PLUS has a vintage Batmobile so you know it’s the real deal.

me_Batman

It was out of order, but still fun to pretend.

It was a fun day! I’d definitely do this race next year, especially if Adam wanted to hold my hand again. I mean run with me. That’s what I meant.

Run on, friends! 

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race re-cap! victoria(ous).

I ran my 14th marathon on Sunday in the beautiful city of Victoria, BC.

Victoria Marathon
Victoria, British Columbia
October 11, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 10.28.55 AM

I signed up to do this race last year, but then this happened and stuff. Once I got my running legs back, I really wanted to give this one another try because I just adore this picturesque city, and I grew up directly across the water in the small town of Port Angeles, Washington, so I have a special fondness for our neighbors to the north.

On top of all that, it was also the First Ever International Meet-up for the Marathon Maniacs (and Half Fanatics) and I didn’t want to miss the chance to meet some fun new friends who are as crazy as me.

Since the hub was running a 1/2 marathon elsewhere and the 8yo was hanging with my mom, I took this li’l journey solo.

Coho

I arrived on Saturday in time to hit the race expo and join fellow Maniacs at a reunion pasta dinner at the early-bird-special hour of 5:00pm. (Anyone planning to run a marathon should just go ahead and get temporary senior citizen status because we like to eat at weird times and go to bed at 8:00, but I’m getting off track).

So anyway, Saturday was gorgeous. If you ever get the chance to visit Victoria or anywhere in Canada really, please do. It’s truly spectacular and the people are even better.

At the expo, I had to stop by the Marathon Maniacs booth for a photo opp, natch. Lucky for me, the one and only Sabrina was on deck for a quick pic. She organizes all of the “pacers” for the club and has run like 10,000 marathons and always finishes looking like she’s ready to hit the town in style. I love/hate her. Mostly love.

Me_Sabrina

I also had to make a quick stop by one of the sponsor booths because they had free chocolate milk. And gigantic cookies, that turned out to be cardboard. I had to take a bite though, just to be sure.

BigCookie

Since I had the entire afternoon all to myself for exploring the city and taking in the sights, naturally I decided to take a two hour nap. Oh, sweet luxury. I am a Professional Napper™, y’all. Plus it had started pouring down rain and in my laser-focus determination to not forget any running stuffs this time, I didn’t pack a jacket.

What else was I supposed to do? I didn’t even really have a choice, guys.

After nap time, it was dinner time! Sleeping and eating are totally my favorite hobbies so I wasn’t about to be late.

I found my way to the restaurant and was immediately greeted by like-minded, friendly strangers/insta-friends. People often ask me what I get out of this “Maniacs group thing” that I belong to. Honestly, the #1 best thing for me has been the chance to meet so many great people.

For me, that’s what this club (and the club called “life”, too) is all about, no?

I had a chance to meet the 3 ORIGINAL Maniacs who started this whole thing and was a little bit starstruck, for real. These guys have collectively run more marathons than I can count and are as humble and modest as they come. They just want everyone to have fun and it shows.

MM_originals

This whole dinner event was only 20 bucks and totally worth it. Tons of stuff that runners love for carb loading (see: pasta, bread) and it hit the spot. It’s possible I would’ve been fine with only ONE cookie instead of TWO but I’m not one to take chances.

PastaDinner

After dinner I headed back to my hotel and promptly got right back into my pajamas. I laid out all of my running stuff, and realized it was still only 7:45pm. The start of this race was pretty late for a full marathon (8:45am) so I really didn’t even have to wake up until 7:00.

NewShoes

I don’t always wear new shoes, but when I do, I make sure they are brand-new out of the box the night before a marathon. Ahem.

What to do for the next few hours? The alone time would’ve been a great opportunity to answer a few emails and check off a few work deadlines so naturally I got caught up with some back episodes of MadMen on Netflix.

The morning of the race went off without a hitch. After a few touch-and-go moments of being outsmarted by a hotel room coffeemaker, I successfully wrangled a hot cup of joe and was on my way.

All of the Marathon Maniacs that were racing that day met under the START banner at 8:30 for a group photo. It was fun to see everyone in their MM gear and be a part of such a cool group of people in general.

MM_group

Several months ago, a friend of mine contacted me on Facebook to let me know that she was running Victoria, too. We’ve been friends for 30 years and I was excited that I might see her again, but sometimes it’s hard to find people in the hectic pre-race crowd.

But lucky for me, I found her! It was v. exciting!

Hana_Melisa

From age 15 to 40-something. A few more laugh lines and a lot less hairspray.

After our little mini-reunion, I waved goodbye as she moved up to a closer-to-the-front spot (that Speedy McSpeedster gal is way faster than me) and I settled in with the 4:15 pack, firmly attaching myself to the hips of the 4:15 pacers, Janet and Tom.

StartLine

Janet is a pacing machine and knows how to get the job done. So inspiring!

This course was spectacular, there’s no two ways about it. The weather was perfect, the route was ideal – which for me translates to not too many hills – and there was interesting scenery the whole way through.

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I did not take this photo but that’s potentially obvious.

And of course, let’s not forget the volunteers. There were regular aid stations every couple of miles, fully stocked with plenty of fuel, hydration and friendly faces. The entire event was just so well done.

Like I said, I was shooting for 4:15 (since my previous marathon was 4:20 and that included lots of selfie breaks, cake eating and couch sitting) so I went out with the 4:15 pacers. I was able to stay with them for about 13 miles but I just couldn’t hang on after that. To be honest, I’m perfectly happy with 4:21 considering the half-assed training and eating I’ve been doing the last couple of months.

See also, actions + consequences.

The only glitch to the day was totally my oversight, not the race’s. I usually run with music, using the Pandora app on my phone. However, little did I know that Pandora doesn’t work in Canada yet due to some copyright garbage. So I had to hit this race sans tunes.

It turned out to be a positive, though, because I just focused on my thoughts, my breathing, my legs and that one nagging spot on my left foot where I had tied my shoelace too tight. I tried not to spend too much time focused on that last part.

The thing is that it’s really hard for me to be present in life sometimes. I am always focused on something I should have done or something I should be doing that it takes away from the joy of what’s happening right in front of me.

Alright, fine. I won’t say that all 26.2 miles are joyful, but I will say that when you run a marathon, you have no other choice but to live in the moment. You can’t really worry about the training you DIDN’T DO, and you can’t really worry too much about how you’re going to feel when you’re done. If you have made the decision to keep going vs. throwing in the towel, you can only put one foot in front of the other and repeat that process until you’re finally done.

Here I am coming up on the finish line, very ready to be done.

Finish_2

See, here’s PROOF that I finished the race. haha

Finish_1

All done! Time to go eat another cookie or two for good measure.

I loved this race and would absolutely do it again. Until next year!

Run on, friends!

P.S. It was a full-medal weekend! The hub ran a 1/2 on Saturday (with a personal record to boot!) and then I snagged this hardware on Sunday. Good stuff all around.

Medals

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race re-cap! run like a girl.

I ran a 1/2 marathon on Saturday and went ahead and made this one “just for fun” (not by choice). More on that in a minute.

Run Like A Girl
Bellingham, Washington
October 3, 2015

I found this race online and was like “hey, I’m a girl and also I run sometimes so this race was made for me.” Plus it was held in the town of my beloved alma mater AND it benefited a great cause, Girls on the Run.

Wins all over the place.

The race was held at Fairhaven Park in Bellingham, which is about a 2.5 hours drive + ferry ride from my front door. Even though it had a fairly late start of 9am, I still needed to get up at 4’dark a.m. to make the why-am-I-awake-at-this-hour 5:20am ferry.

All this to say, how often do you get to watch a sunrise? Perspective, yo.

Fairhaven_park

Yes, I realize this isn’t a picture of a sunrise but I was driving along the freeway when the sun was coming up and I’m pretty sure it’s not safe to try and capture the moment at 70 mph.

I arrived super early so I had plenty of time to take stock of what I had forgotten to pack in my haste, per the usual.

The main item left behind was a handy race belt thing I wear that holds random stuff like energy gels, tissues and jellybeans but – most importantly – MY KEYS for races that I drive to solo.

Well, dang. No biggie. I would just carry my keys on the run and let them serve as a 13.1 mile reminder to pack all my crap the night before next time. Ahem.

Here’s what was cool, though: even though this was a super small, homespun race, they gave out THE BEST little freebie in the registration bag:

Arm_pouch

It was this wrist pouch doohickey type thing that had a ZIPPER POCKET FOR KEYS. Possibly my new favorite race accessory.

Things were looking up!

I should back up here for a second and tell you why I’m running 1/2 marathons in the first place. I’ll spare you all of the run-geek details but basically it’s for a certain level called “Double Agent” in this club I belong to called Marathon Maniacs. Normally I would only be focusing on full marathons for this goal, but this was kind of another fun thing to work towards so I figured what the hell.

The deal is that in order for any race to count, it needs to meet a certain set of criteria including official results posted online by the race director.

I knew I was in trouble when I had the following conversation with the very kind and helpful race director:

Me: “So, is there someone recording start and finish times, or are there chips we need to wear, or…?”

Race Director: “Oh gosh, no! You can start whenever you want, but mostly people will be starting at 9am. Just run as far as you want! If you need to turn around early, go ahead! This race is just for FUN!”

Me: “So, I should just use my watch then? To know how far to go?”

RD: “Sure, you could do that. But also, you’ll know when to turn around because there’s a special surprise at the halfway point! Plus also, chocolate!”

In summary, I really wish I were a laid-back person. I admire laid-back people and I cherish them as friends, but I just ain’t one of ’em. This is one of those things that parents call “the facts of life”

At this point I sort of wandered around aimlessly, triple-checking that my watch was still working, looking at my watch again, and generally trying to get into a zen state of mind.

Me_Chicken

I also took a picture with a random chicken.

IceCream_selfie

And also a person dressed as an ice cream cone.

The good news was that everyone who came there just to have fun as instructed were doing just that. There was lots of laughing, selfie-taking, high-fiving, and miscellaneous not-caring-about-start-times going on that it was hard not to join in.

Race_Start

You can’t not smile when you have a daisy in your hair.

When the gun went off (aka the race director shouting “ready, set, go!”) I decided to take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment. I mean, what choice did I have?

Race_Start_group

I’m in this picture. It’s like Where’s Waldo except with a tutu instead of a striped shirt.

It was a really beautiful, crisp fall day to get out there and do a non-run, run.

And what’s not to love about being surrounded by grown women in tutus and other ‘girl-power’ gear?

Once we got out of the park, we started what I can only describe as a trail run – with switchbacks and dirt and everything! I wasn’t really expecting this and the absurdity of scrambling up and down rocky paths in a brightly colored tutu that I stole from my daughter’s dress-up bin was not lost on me.

It was a fairly ridiculous scene, with lots of ups and downs. But also, a lot of fun.

Sort of like life in general, no?

Bridge_selfie

Did I forget to mention they gave out tiaras at Mile 2? Of course they did.

The views along the course were awesome and the volunteers were even better. They were full of can-dos and attagirls and they were one friendly smile after another. I can never say enough about volunteers: they can really make a race something special and I’m so grateful for every single one of them for giving their time to stand around and support a bunch of stinky strangers.

Back at the finish line, they had the trusty Bellingham firemen on hand to put your finisher’s necklace around your neck. I think this is a cool touch, and my brother’s a firefighter so I have extra huge respect for this profession, but sometimes I break out in spontaneous hugs and now I feel a little bit bad for the unsuspecting fireman who was on the receiving end of my sweaty hug bomb.

firefighter_finish

Sorry about that, bro.

All in all, it was a fun race with lots of feel-good mojo. I don’t think I’d do this one again, though, unless I had some girlfriends who were wanting to make a weekend out of it. It was fun to push out of my comfort zone for a day, but I gotta keep it real: I’m much better suited for the structure that comes with timing chips and race results.

Ballet_Finish

What is even happening here.

Run on, friends!

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race re-cap! race for a soldier.

Actions + Consequences. That’s what this post is about.

I ran a 1/2 marathon on Sunday for a very worthwhile cause: Race For a Soldier, which is both a tribute to fallen soldiers as well as a fundraiser for a range of programs that benefit soldiers such as the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation, which seeks to provide support and raise awareness of the epidemic of suicide among combat veterans returning from the wars.

RaceBib

The finish medals were dog tags. SO COOL.

Race For a Soldier
Gig Harbor, Washington
September 27, 2015

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There’s no mincing words here: this race was a great event that I was ill-prepared for.  The deal is that I came to the starting line with two weeks of:

no running
crappy eating
excessive drinking
and I don’t mean water
lack of sleep
general bad choices
and etc.

Actions have consequences. That’s just the pill ya gotta swallow sometimes. And boy did I feel the consequences of my actions on Sunday.

RaceStart

That dude on the right and I are both like “WTF have we gotten ourselves into?”

In broad terms I’m just going to tell you that it kinda sucked in a fairly big way. My groove was not to be found and several times I thought about quitting. It was a hilly course, to be sure, but I’ve done hillier runs. This was just straight-up not my day.

All this to say! It was a really well-organized race put on my lovely people for such a great cause so let’s have that be the take-away here, shall we?

I didn’t really know how big this race was until I went online to register a week or so before and found that registration was C-L-O-S-E-D closed. Oops. But the website did say that you could register in person, space permitting, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a shot.

I always allow myself tons of time (cough) to get to my destination so when I pulled into the parking lot at 7:30 I had to high-five myself for having 30 whole minutes to spare before the gun was set to go off.

Never mind that I still wasn’t sure if there was space for me in the race. Details, details.

It turns out there was plenty of room and on-site registration was a breeze. The race day cost for a 1/2 marathon was a crisp Ben Franklin, which is a little steep, but so worth it.

Truth be told, this was the closest I’ve ever cut it to a race, but I managed to get myself to the starting line by 7:58. Plenty of time to finish attaching my race bib. Phew.

Not only was this race larger than I expected, it also had ‘pacers’ (volunteers who run at a certain pace for anyone with a time goal) seeded in roughly 10-15 minute increments. Since my last 1/2 was a 2:01 I thought I’d give the 2:00 group a try.

That lasted all of 30 seconds, you guys. This body was havin’ NONE OF IT.

Alrighty then. I checked my ego at the door and settled in with the 2:10-ish group. Sometimes you just gotta play the cards you’re dealt. See also, actions/consequences.

As I said, it was a bit of a hilly course but nothing too crazy. Just enough to make you feel alive! And/or on fire. Either way, I was feeling something.

The aid stations and support on this race were nothing short of amazing. Every time I see a volunteer during a race, I always try to say “thanks for coming out” because come on. Volunteering for hours on end is work, too.

But this was the first race I’ve ever done where volunteers replied, “thank YOU for coming out!” That made me smile but also I had to shake my head because, let’s be honest here. Throwing down a hundred bucks and then voluntarily running 13.1 miles is very little compared to what service men and women do for our country on the daily.

And I haven’t even told you yet about the man running next to me with a prosthetic leg or the soldiers running in full combat gear.

It was humbling.

So anyway, it was also not my best day. But this whole ride is a roller coaster, no? Goals we set, plus life in general. Ain’t none of it moving in a straight, well-behaved line. Sometimes, things go off the rails. But tomorrow, like the next race, is a chance to do better. To try again.

Run on, friends!

P.S. Did I mention the amazing volunteers? You guys, they even had these angels dressed as humans at the end of the race who happily untied your shoe, removed your timing chip, and then re-tied your shoe again. I felt a little bit like a toddler. But mostly I felt grateful for the kindness of generous souls.

P.P.S. Do I have pictures? Of course I have pictures!

Finished

The weather was perfect – not too hot, not too cold. At least Mother N brought her A-game.

Soldiers

I gave these soldiers very sweaty hugs and was a little starstruck when they agreed to take a picture with me.

Breakfast1

My digestive system HATES ME.

Breakfast

The day was not lost: this great friend of mine is a veteran of the military AND a vegetarian so he gave me all of his bacon. I’m calling the day a win.

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race re-cap! beat the blerch.

I ran my 13th full marathon on Saturday the 12th, and today is my birthday. The 14th. As a Virgo, I really wish I could’ve tightened up those numbers somehow, or at least had “14” as my race bib, or maybe “41” which is (gasp!) my new age.

But, life isn’t always neat and tidy. I just need to make like a Disney movie and let this go.

Beat the Blerch Marathon
Carnation, Washington
September 12, 2015

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After the race, they informed me that – surprises of surprises – I had come in 2nd place in my age group! But these online results say I came in 3rd. I feel conflicted because I’m now in possession of the 2nd place medal. I dunno, karma and stuff.

You guys, this race was SO FUN.

Are you a fan of The Oatmeal? If so, you’re smart. If the answer is “no”, I’m not here to question your intelligence but honestly, go check it out right now. It’s worth it. We’ll wait.

The deal is that the illustrator of this über-hilarious ‘webcomic’ goldmine is also a distance runner and started a “Beat the Blerch” marathon series last year. The “Blerch” is a character he created that basically personifies a couch potato. As a lazy person disguised as someone who runs a lot, I can totally relate to this concept. It resonates.

So when I had the chance to run his marathon when it came (near) to town? Yes, please!

Start_sign

Da agony of da feet. Seriously, you guys. I got a huge blister after this race. I won’t show you though because I like you.

The course was held out in a small town about 50 minutes north of downtown Seattle. Which means a 4:00am wake-up call if you live on a li’l island bound by a ferry boat but that’s really my problem, not the race’s.

Getting up at the crack-o-dawn was worth it when I arrived at the event: thanks to the marshmallows. Covered in chocolate. Then dipped in bacon. Yeah, I ate those. I throw caution straight to the WIND people.

THE EDGE. That’s where you’ll find me.

Blerch_tattoo

I’m ridiculous. And also, really cold. Do you see the goosebumps???

race_start

GAME FACE. No, really, this is my “what did I just eat?” face.

So anyway, the course was 100% awesome. Gorgeous scenery and just the right amount of grade to keep things interesting.

The majority of the course was perfectly packed dirt/gravel, but I was SUPER glad I had decided to wear my trail shoes on a whim because the first couple of miles were actually fairly decent-sized rocks that had my ankles wobbling like I was stumbling up my driveway after a long night of bad choices with a broken stiletto and ripped hemline.*

*For illustrative purposes only. This has never happened. Hi, Mom.

The best part about this race though is that The Oatmeal is all about F-U-N fun. And you had a lot of opportunity to soak that up if fun is what you’re out there chasing. Lucky for me, when you reside in the middle-of-the-pack at any given race, there’s always time for that.

And also, selfies, because I’m certain you’d be shocked otherwise.

BeatBlerch_aidstation

The Blerch loves hugs. And selfies.

Couch_sit

Mile 7 is a great place for a comfy sit. Did this affect my finish time? Probably. Did I care? Not one bit.

Sasquatch

Sasquatch!!!! MYSTERY = SOLVED.

One of the best things about this race was the irony. And by ‘irony’ I obviously mean delicious slices of birthday cake, which they gave out at every aid station along the course. Seriously, actual cake with frosting and everything.

I was only going to try one slice because I wasn’t sure how my tummy would manage it. For the first 17 miles I ran with this 21-year-old girl who was a delightful running companion despite her rudeness at being 20 years younger than me. When she saw me go in for my first slice she was all “GAWH! How can you do that?!” and I was all, “Oh, honey. I eat greasy bacon every single day of my life. This iron stomach can handle it. Ain’t my first rodeo.” And she was all, “If you say so.”

For the next few miles I wondered if maybe I was a bit too cake-cocky about the whole thing but was feeling pretty good so decided to just go ALL. OUT. from then on.

I proceeded to eat four whole pieces of cake that day, all told. And I’ve lived to tell about it, y’all.

When I run, I just go for the “RPE” – rate of perceived exertion. I don’t use a heart rate monitor or anything fancy like that. I just go by how I feel. Some days that’s faster and some days that’s slower. On Saturday, I felt like I had some fuel left in the tank so around mile 17 I decided to just let my legs do their thing.

At mile 20, knowing I had 6.2 miles yet to go, I started feeling the burn, baby. Nothing was really SCREAMING at me, but my body was definitely starting to be like, “LISTEN. What exactly is the news-I-can-use here on when we’re gonna wrap this up?”

A friend of mine has some great advice he likes to give his kids at swim meets and I think it works well for running, too: if you go faster, it will hurt more, but you’ll be done sooner.

Well, lo-and-behold! My friend was right. It did hurt more. But pretty soon I was through with another mile and then another and pretty soon I was *almost* done.

When I saw the finish line, I spontaneously burst into tears. I mean, all out ugly cry. Bawling. Uncontrollably. I was just so relieved to be done + overwhelmed that I was still clipping along at a decent pace (for me) + appreciating how far I’d come in the last year with major surgery, weight loss, etc.

The deal is that every race is unique. You never know what you’re in for when you sign on for 26.2 miles. Every single race is different. Every mile is different. And you’re a different person each time, too. I feel a metaphor coming on.

BeatTheBlerch

On the left, we have me at the actual finish of the race. Bawling my eyes out. On the right, we have me doing a “fake finish” a 2nd time after a volunteer told me to clean myself up and run back through for better photos. Thank you, volunteer. Whoever you are.

BeatBlerch

I beat him. I joined him. I WAS him. I don’t even know what I’m saying.

MattInman

YOU GUYS this is the guy who writes and draws The Oatmeal. OMG. For realz. *starstruck*

All this to say, I’m proud of myself. I am faster than some, and slower than many. I have good days, and I have bad days.

This was a very good day.

Run on, friends!

P.S. Speaking of The Oatmeal, I asked for his book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances for my birthday and guess what? I got it:

Book

From the book: “Running is a way of standing up to all the stupid shit in your life and saying: ‘I don’t know how to fix you, so I’ll just bend you into workable shapes.'” YES. THIS. Every day.

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