race re-cap! in the path of giants.

Marathon #19 was a fun one, you guys.

Trials Legacy Marathon
Olympia, Washington
July 16, 2016


It was the inaugural year for this historic race: it retraced nearly 85% of the original 1984 trials course when women were first allowed to participate in the marathon in the Olympics.

Wow! Right? 

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.39.30 PM

Forgive me for marathon-geeking out for a second, but I was running on the same course that Joan Benoit ran on – and won! – in 1984, only 17 days after having knee surgery! Talk about inspiring. That was a historic day for women and this sport, and I totally remember 1984 so let’s move on because now I’m just scaring myself.

Anyway, it was pretty cool.

Mostly I was just looking for a marathon in July so I could get to #19 before my Ironman next month. Call me OCD and you’d be right, but I really wanted the marathon in my IM to be #20. It’s just a nice round number. So that meant that I had to find #19 in July so I just grabbed this one.

I don’t have high expectations for inaugural races because I’ve done several first-year races before and there are always some kinks to work out, God bless ’em. Operating all the logistics of a 26.2 mile race is no easy feat (feet? terrible pun, avoided) so I give new races a very wide berth. But I was hugely surprised in the best way by this one.

Let’s back up, though:

It’s gotten to the point in my personal journey to run 50 by age 50 that I am really used to just trudging off by myself for these things. I try hard to not have my races be too disruptive to family life since they are 100% always on the highly-coveted weekends. I mostly just scoot out to them in the dark of the early morning, do the thing, and get back as quick as possible.

But the planets aligned with this one where my mom was able to join me AND go to dinner with her two favorite kids since my race was in the town where my brother lives.


And by “two favorites” we all know she’s got a real favorite but I’M NOT NAMING NAMES.

Sidebar: if you’re looking for great Thai food, look no further than a random strip of businesses off some street in Tumwater, Washington. The three of us had possibly the best Thai of our lives. It was delicious. I really should Yelp about it or something.

Anyway, Mom and I headed back to our hotel after dinner because I had several deadlines to catch up on plus also I had to do this, naturally:


Unsuspecting Mom + Flat Melisa. Sorry, Mom. Not really.

We were only about 4 miles from the race start, and the morning went off without a hitch.

Except for several hitches, up to and including:

About 2/3 of the way to the start of the race (per iPhone GPS since neither of us had a clue where we were going), Mom wonders aloud, “I should probably have grabbed my phone so I could map myself back to the hotel.”

……pause for dramatic effect……

“You’re definitely gonna need that.”

**Pulls a u-ey.**

“Mom, did you grab a hotel key?” … 

“No, I thought you grabbed a key.”

“No worries, I’ll just have the front desk make me a new key.”

Gets new key, inserts into hotel room door.


Key does not work! Try, try, try, try, rub key on shirt fabric, try…finally! Get key to work. Run in, grab Mom’s cell phone. Return to car. Start driving back to race start.

“Oh. Crap.”

“Mom, what. WHAT?”

“I don’t have my purse. So I don’t have my ID. I can’t drive a car without my ID. But the start is only 4 miles away, right? Maybe that’s OK. That’s not too far.”

“Mom? Do you like the idea of driving 4 miles without your ID?”


**Pulls a u-ey.**

Runs into hotel. Retrieves Mom’s purse. Ponders to self that this is like, the most extensive pre-race warm-up in the history of pre-race warm-ups.

We get back on our way and find the race start without (further) incident. And then.

“Oh, don’t forget you need gas. There was a gas station right around the corner.”

“Alright, but I’m gonna get my race packet and bib first. The race starts in 20 minutes.”

Get race packet and bib. Thank a bunch of friendly volunteers. Run back to car. (I am REALLY warmed up now, side note). Zoom off to the gas station around the corner.

“Pay Inside Only”


Gawh! You guys, the universe was doing me zero solids that morning.

Run inside. Throw down a 20. Pats self on back for actually carrying cash WITH MOM FOR WITNESS EVEN. Runs back out to pump.

Ok, I think we’re ready for the race to start now. We had like 5 whole minutes to spare. Easy breezy. cough.


A trooper, this one.


Obligatory selfie.


Finishing a marathon that day comes second only to the fact that my almost-65-year-old mom was quick enough to catch an action shot. Love you, Mom.

YOU. GUYS. If you’re actually still reading this I have to tell you that this was one of the BEST courses I’ve ever run. It was not too hilly, scenic enough, but mostly it was the one thing that can literally make or break a race: VOLUNTEERS. Oh man, did this race have some good ones. There were not only friendly faces every couple of miles handing out water and electrolyte drinks, but there were also men (and women) in blue all over the place. At every intersection that needed even the slightest bit of traffic control, there they were. Smiling and stopping traffic for us. It was fantastic. They were fantastic. Doing their thing with a smile and nod.

Just, wow.

In terms of how I ran this race, I’m happy with it. I’m a month out from my Ironman and I went into this marathon knowing it was more of a “training” day. I am not a fast runner.

I am, by every definition, a middle-of-the-packer.

But something kinda cool happened around mile 8 or 9 that I felt good about. I had been reeling in this one guy who was about 25 yards ahead of me. Lots of mental games are played over the course of 26.2 and using unsuspecting fellow runners as carrots ahead of you is one of them.

After awhile he had to stop so I lost sight of him. Suddenly he was right next to me and he leaned in and said, “Man, do you ever keep a consistent pace out here.”

What the heck? I have literally never in all my days been complimented on the course for how I execute anything. I usually feel like a newborn giraffe trying to suffer through my first steps of life.

I’m anything but smooth.

But you guys, what I lack in speed and agility, I guess I kinda make up for in my ability to know how to get through. I pace myself like the nearly-42-year-old-mother that I am, rather than the 20-something that my brain sometimes forgets I’m not.

So anyway. That was kinda fun. We talked for a few minutes and he told me that he flew out here from Virginia to run this marathon. It was his 39th. Again, wow.

The rest of the race was fairly anti-climactic. I sort of just hunker down into a mental game and have a system of how I tick off the miles.

Personally, I think it is brutal to count them off one at a time from the start. So my goal is to just get through the first 10 miles. Nice even numbers, see? 

Then I hit a goal of the halfway point. Because if you’ve gone 13.1 you may as well just double it, right?

Then my next goal is mile 20. Because once you hit mile 20, you are IN the 20’s and pretty soon you’re done. But after mile 20, I find it’s best to just tackle this the way you’d eat an elephant: one bite at a time.

You see, if you’re a 10-minute miler (*raises hand*) then getting from mile 20 to mile 26.2 is still OVER. AN. HOUR. That is a bitter pill to swallow. Instead, if you say “just get to mile 21” then “just get to mile 22” and repeat that a few more times, pretty soon you’re at mile 25 and you should think about sprinting.

*insert laugh track*

“Sprinting” is used loosely here, but in my mind, I’m sure that’s what I’m doing for the last mile or so. I am just sprinting my li’l heart out. Except a friend of mine took a video of me at the finish of a recent marathon and it turns out that I just hobble my li’l heart out.

Either way, give it all ya got.


Ahhhhh, FINISH. My second favorite F-word.

In summary, bravo Olympia, Washington. You put on a great show. I will definitely be coming back. Body willing.


Obligatory selfie with finish medal.

Run on, friends!

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6 Responses to race re-cap! in the path of giants.

  1. Mom says:

    Are you not allowed in your post to say Lemongrass Thai? Yum… Can’t wait to be at the Iron Man with you! Love you…

  2. Mike Enberg says:

    Your Mom!

  3. Colleen says:

    We were SO happy to have you run the inaugural race, and glad you had a positive experience. It’s going to be even better next year, as we learned a lot. Hope to see you then!

  4. Greg says:

    Another great write-up! You should do marathons more often so I can read about you doing marathons more often.

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