Taking it all off.

Greetings y’all!

So. Where were we? After last week’s attempt at a run, I decided to take my own advice and really pare down my expectations. I would go with what felt good at the time and leave it at that. The only thing I did not allow myself was to do absolutely nothing – movement was necessary, but how much and how intense and how far? *shoulder shrug*. On Wednesday I went to Snap and spun for about a half hour, plus did drills and some weights. I took Thursday off save for “swimming” in a hotel pool which was really splashing and floating in between dips in the hot tub, followed by eating a ton of sushi (Sushiland in Clackamas is where it’s at!).

On Friday I had some beans, though. Meaning, I felt like I wanted to push a little bit. I was still in the Portland area and thought about driving to Forest Park, but instead took the lazy approach and hit up the hotel treadmill. If you have to hit the dreadmill, speedwork is the way to do it. I did an easy mile warmup and then did 3 by 1000 at 7:53 or 7:47 pace with .25 recovery in between. It was tough! Between watching the crappiest TV of all – Say Yes to the Dress, where brides spend more on a single gown than my hubby and I did on our entire wedding – and, well, being on a treadmill, it was a push.

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There has also been a lot of this: finding a replacement for 10 Barrel Swill (RIP). This ain’t so bad! Plus, it’s from Wisconsin. You betcha!

(Okay, I have to be honest. Say Yes to the Dress made it a little easier to keep going. Will the bride buy the gown of her dreams, or the dress she doesn’t like to please her fiance who is probably an ass? Will the bride buy a black wedding gown as she’s always wanted, or will she go traditional to appease her conservative, hyper-controlling mother? After the commercial break!)

But it was doable push. The speed felt harder than what I’ve done on the track but yet I made it through each 1,000 and sometimes pushed it a tiny bit farther. And afterwards, when I was super sweaty and red-faced, I had a smile on my face and an appetite to match. It also helped that some teenage boys tried to come in the tiny workout room and lift but they took one look at me and beat it out of there. Probably because I was so hard-core. Yea, yea, that’s the ticket!

Saturday was upper body, more PT, and sewing. (Not a workout, but hey, it was my day).

Which leads me to yesterday. Sunday. The traditional day of the long run.

When I woke up, a number of thoughts ran through my head. First, did I want to get up right then and there. No. So I knew that I had to resign myself to dealing with heat. Okay. Done. Grumble grumble.

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Second, why not pool run? Hm. That’s an idea. Check online…Damn. The pool is closed.

Third, how about a big hike? Or some paddleboarding? I came very close to one of these options but I had things to do and a place to be later in the day, and so hours away from home was probably not the best choice. Plus, it was only going to get hotter.

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This is always very, very tempting.

Fourth: just go and run. I knew this was the answer. I knew that if I didn’t, it would start to be a thing. Something that would build in my mind. Something to cause anxiety and as someone who is anxiety-prone, I don’t need that. I know – and I struggle with this – that the best way to deal with anxiety is by doing the damn thing instead of just working it around in your head.

Let me talk about my dog for a second. Mr. Shippy is very, very attached to his home and to his people (especially me. Take that, Finn!). He does not like it when we leave. When we do, he has a little habit of finding something naughty to eat or chew on. If there’s bread on the counter, GONE. Carb-fest for Fido. Anything remotely chewy in the recycling is torn apart in the living room. And definitely do not leave chocolate out. (Side note: our cousins from England were recently here and they bought some American chocolate – the individually wrapped kind – for some friends. Ship found it, ate half the bag, and although we watched him like a hawk, he seemed no worse for wear. Except for the sparkly foil bits in his doggy bombs.) So, I like to say that we need to set up Ship for success when we leave. Put away the recycling. Close the pantry door. Clear the counters. Put some food in his dish so he can nosh on something. Lo and behold, if we do that, it works. He doesn’t get into anything and probably just lays across all our pillows.

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He lives for cheese. Which is the only thing that keeps him from lunging at every animal while out on our walks. Ay yi yi.

I decided to do the same for myself. No, not put away the recycling lest I chew on an empty can of Trader Joe’s O’s. What I mean is to set myself up for success. I left the Garmin at home, which I NEVER do. I brought with plenty of water. I wore my favorite shorts. I drank a full cup of tea beforehand even though I know that makes me have to pee a million times once I’m running. I played some chill music on my phone instead of my Shuffle, which still only has my half-marathon playlist on it. I didn’t check the clock when I left and I didn’t note the time when I returned. I went out with the hopes of doing my favorite six mile route on the canal trail but no expectations. If I ended up hiking, no big deal.

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Trail dust. I have missed you. (Wow I need some trail shoes!)

And I did it! I ran those six miles. Afterwards, I felt great. Of course, it was work – there are a lot of drawn out inclines – and a few times I stopped to get some water and just take a 15 second break and look around me or pet a dog on the trail or just catch my breath. It is MUCH easier to do this without a Garmin. With my watch on, if I don’t pause it (shhh!) I sometimes will purposefully run a little faster to make up any time I “lost” if I took a small break. How silly is that? Very. Without the watch I had no idea of my pace and it was ridiculously freeing. I still fell into the same old pattern I often do on a run, which is a slower start and a faster finish. But I don’t know if what felt fast at the moment was actually an 11:00 minute pace. Or if I was rocking out at a 6:30 pace.

Okay, I KNOW I wasn’t doing that. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But you get my meaning.

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Selfie time! It was not exactly cold out when I went… But why isn’t my neck red?!

As I suspected, psychologically it was what I needed. I appreciated the time on the trail and it made me hungry to get exploring again, whether it’s a run or a hike or a combination. I still need to take the pressure off myself; it’s really hard not to pile it up again when one, that’s my personality; and two, everyone in Bend is logging serious mileage right now. But I think my body and my mind is ready to ease back into more movement. A mix of play and rigor.

Okay, now THAT is the ticket.

I hope your running/cycling/recuperating is going swimmingly. ๐Ÿ™‚


Sputter, stutter, mutter.

I’m back! Did ya miss me? Hope so! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I need to clarify, however. I’m back as in I’m here, posting. I’m not sure I can say I’m back to running. I’m finding that part … difficult. Let’s recap a little.

The day after the race I was definitely sore, although I was not immobilized or truly in a lot of pain. I was sore in some “good” places: namely, my hamstrings and glutes, which means they fired up and did their job, and shows that physical therapy is 100% worth it! I was also sore in “weird” places – notably in between my shoulder blades. It felt like I had done a bunch of lat pulls and done a very good job at that. That one was weird. My ankle tendon was slightly tight but that disappeared in a day, and the area of pressure/soreness on the outside of my right kneecap that I often experience due to that weird external/internal (something’s messed up in there, lol) rotation that causes my foot to fly out and threaten to lift off was present, but not really painful. That’s the only place that’s lingered, which was the same after my first half-marathon, but is far, far less this go-round.

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I forgot to include this in the race recap – that’s the race day braometer! The highest line yet! I was definitely working. And sweating.

Truthfully, while I was tired and wiped post-race, this was the best I’ve felt after a hard exertion. Granted, I don’t have a ton of half-marathon experience, but after my first my knee hurt and got worse, and my feet were sore pretty much constantly. This time, my feet felt pretty much fine and even though I ran all on road, I had no joint tenderness. By last Wednesday, I felt about 95% recovered (or so I thought). On Friday I did a light set of PT which felt good, and Saturday I hiked a short but very steep trail that resulted in this:

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I swam in Crater Lake! I didn’t even know you could do that. And yes, it was COLD. But awesome.

Hiking up was an effort – it’s a pretty steep incline – but I felt strong and I thought, I think I’m getting ready to run again. In fact, for several days after the race all I could think about was running another. Not necessarily another half, but a race where I could focus on time and PRs and train. I was riding that wave of accomplishment big time.

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So purty even amid the wildfire smoke and haze.

I let myself take Sunday off, as we had been entertaining guests and we were a bit tired from all our travels around Central Oregon (it was wonderful, by the way). And then Monday came. Monday, I had told myself, I was going to run.

But despite all my get-up-and-go the week before, I had nothing on Monday morning. I told myself, it’s still hot (which it is). You’re still tired. (Which I was.) I went to an afternoon Vinyasa yoga class which felt really good. I got nice and sweaty; I had forgotten how much work Vinyasa is. All those lunges and chair poses. I also did a full set of weighted PT that night but didn’t think that would be enough to do me in for a Tuesday run.

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Realizing that I’m in the deepest lake in the US and that it’s COLD!


I got up at 6:30 am on Tuesday and was dragging. I finally got out the door by 7:30 and started running. Immediately I started focusing on my Garmin. UGH. I think training/race brain was so used to taking over that it did. I told myself to slow down and knock it off and went down to the canal/river trail. People, I have been craving trail for so long. Even though I live by some amazing mountain trails, I still think the good old Deschutes River Trail is my favorite. In a half mile from my house I am at the river, looking at boulders, rushing water, and wildflowers. I still sometimes can’t believe I can run this so easily. Anyway, by the end of mile 1 I felt better but I also felt – wait for it, you’ll never guess – HOT. At mile 2 there is a bit of a climb and I just had nothing. No will, no drive. My legs were tired. Sweat ran into my eyes. Everything just felt… familiar. Like I was up early to beat the heat and get it done, and not to get out and enjoy myself, free of constraints and schedules and regimens. I wrestled with that hill mentally and then I asked myself again, Why? Do you have to push? So I walked.

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While 66 isn’t exactly sweltering, that’s warm for 7:30. And that’s crazy humid for here. Yea I know, call the wahhhhmbulance!

A guy who was parking his truck as I descended to the trail passed me and he was just zipping along. I mentally cursed him (fast asshole! lol) and then started running again. I found my way to the water’s edge and picked my way along trail that went up and over and around boulders, areas that made me stop and walk or just… stop. And look at the water. And take photos. At mile 3 I realized I was done. I just didn’t have the drive to run. I did, however, love being out there, with my hydration vest on, in a tank and shorts. I turned off my Garmin and found myself smiling to myself as I hiked.

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I love seeing this.

There is a part of me, the competitive, Type A/OCD part, that feels like I should’ve pushed. My intention was just to go for five miles. Five measly miles. But then I realized that it’s perfectly acceptable to just go for three and to hike. Recovery from a race can take a while, both physically and mentally. I remember after my half last November that I went through something similar. I tried an 8 mile run about two weeks after the race and it was a struggle to complete it. I just felt gassed. This time around, I think my issue is mental just as much as physical (and I’m stronger physically for sure). Mentally I just don’t want to focus that hard, and the biggest struggle is allowing myself to realize that I don’t have to.

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Morning sun. Ahhh.

As much as I think I should be recovered and ready to go, go, go, the truth is that I just trained quite hard, and for months. I’d been thinking of this race as my goal race since about February. Plus, well, I’m not a spring chicken. It might be different if I had decades of running behind me but I only have two.ย  Even though I feel stronger and more fit than I ever have, the body, and a master’s one at that, needs time. (Kismet: When I got back home I rec’d a link to this blog post and it’s pretty much everything that I’m feeling. Go read it. GO!)

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I am a person who likes schedules and goals. I love the process. I love crossing things off and planning ahead. So weirdly, I miss training but yet it’s the last thing I want to do. And I know that if I jump back into something as hard as I just tackled this last race, I will burn myself out. So I take solace in knowing that I will work my way back, and it won’t be long before I’m really out there again. In the meantime, though, I’m going to cut myself some slack and focus on some other goals. I’m going to do a few (emphasis on FEW) key workouts but otherwise I want to hike a trail I’ve never been to before. I want to cycle around town more. I want to take a day trip to see the fossil beds. I want to craft (I just started my first quilt!). I want to read novels again after reading training blogs and books about running. Shoot, I want to work again! I’ve just had nearly two months off (I know, I’m lucky) and I’m heading into a quick summer work project next week and honestly, I’m looking forward to it.

By the way, the guy that passed me going up the hill passed me at the end too. At least at the very end of my outing I decided to run a little, maybe 2/3rds of a mile, but I stopped before the big ascent to street level. As much as I wanted to push him over for running so strongly, when we were both at the top we shared a moment about the heat. I asked him, “Is it wrong that I’m ready for fall?” He said, “Not at all. I’m definitely ready for running in colder weather.”

The thought of chilly air and turning leaves on the trail made me smile. I may not be back right now, but I will be for sure then.

In the meantime, I’ll probably be on my paddle board. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Or stuffing my face. Just like this little guy.

Mini blog-break!

It’s silly to write this, as I have few readers (but the ones I have, THANK YOU!) and my blog is new, but just in case I thought I’d let you know I won’t be posting until next week. We’re entertaining guests and going to have an awesome time all about in Central Oregon! Which will include exactly zero miles of running. ‘-)

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I leave you with a pic of Shippy all dressed up in winter. Why? I don’t know. He’s cute and I needed a pic.

Eugene Half-marathon Race Recap!

For those who don’t know me on Facebook and for those who don’t want to read through what is sure to be a LONG and pic-heavy post, I will cut to the chase and tell you right now that:

I DID IT!!!!!!! I broke two hours and then some!

I am still high on that accomplishment. Just so incredibly proud of myself. Also, tired. And, sore. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, let’s deal a little bit with the pre-race stuff. Obviously I was a maniacal, anxious ball of nerves pretty much all last week. Friday night I did my three-mile shakeout run and it felt both like it was a slog and yet easy. It probably wasn’t a good idea to do it post-meal/half-a-beer and without headphones. Oopsy daisy. On Saturday, the day we left for Eugene, I woke up feeling *extremely* nervous. Heart thumping in my chest, shaky hands, paralyzed in my chair nervous. However, by the time we left I had calmed down and over the course of the day I grew more calm. I drank water with Nuun and enjoyed the beautiful drive and a tiny “shakeout hike” where we walked in an old growth grove.

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Blurry but purty.

There was a hiccup in my chilled demeanor when it seemed it was going to take forever to get to Eugene, as we stopped off for a couple errands (we rent out a house in the Valley, and the day we sell it I am going to eat two pounds of crab legs and drink an equal volume of margaritas). But we finally made it to the expo at the Matthew Knight arena (which is HUGE) and in about ten minutes I had my bib and T-shirt.

We went out to eat, and I was a big old cliche and had a small salad with extra beets (red blood cells!), a Sprite (sugar!), and spaghetti with meatballs (carbs!). I tried to eat a decent amount but something about those meatballs was throwing me off. That something would be nerves. I stopped drinking water so I wouldn’t pee all night or flush out my electrolytes, and once we were back at my friend’s house, I laid out my stuff and snuggled with my hubby, who remarked that I was doing pretty well, all things considered.

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New race outfit! Oiselle tank and Saucony shorts.

Strangely, I was. I think I just knew that whatever the day brought, I couldn’t be more ready. There are few things I could’ve done differently. I was rested. I was fueled. I didn’t forget anything. My legs were fresh, almost alarmingly so; I’m so used to something being sore from weights, running, and PT that I worried all my muscle had left the building! (I did a few glute and quad squeezes just to make sure everything was still there.) It just was time to do the damn thing. I went to bed around 9:30ish, set not one, not two, but THREE alarms, took two Calm’s Forte and lo and behold, I fell asleep! At one point I turned over and opened my eyes and felt awake. I thought, it’s probably time to get up. It’s GO TIME. Then I looked at the clock.

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Spectator area. D showed up a half hour before my expected time “just in case”. If that isn’t confidence in your spouse, I don’t know what is.

It was 1:42 am. Oops. I slept on/off until 4:40 am and then I was up and at ’em! My sweety got up after me and when I first saw him he was playing the beginning of “The Final Countdown”. You know, the horn part. Do de do dah…. Dah da da da dah! It made me laugh and set the mood for the morning. I ate yogurt with chia seeds and granola, drank about 12 oz of water with Nuun, and got my handheld and hydration belt ready.

There were only two hiccups: I didn’t poop and I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the shuffle feature on my ipod. Regarding the former, I figured things were on hold until after the race. With the latter, I decided that music playing out of order was not the worst thing in the world and definitely not worth freaking out over. Damien, who had gotten far less sleep than I, drove me to the start and I got there about 5:40. He had to take the obligatory “before” shot and I think he intended to Instagram it but wisely decided not to.


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Why am I so orange? And, so insane? I seriously thought this would be my “I’m nervous but cute” face.

WOW I look murderous and insane (and really orange?). If I had Photoshop skillz I could crop in a million different people in place of my handheld.

Quick note about the weather: for a summer race, it was as good as it could’ve been. The humidity was up, but the temp was cool and there was a thin layer of clouds. Plus Eugene has a lot of tree cover, so I was so relieved not to be sweating before I even began. Thank you weather gods, thank you.

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Thank you thank you thank you.

After our goodbye, I started walking to the official start, right outside Hayward Field. The atmosphere was incredible, especially since it was before 6 am! Super fast people were warming up in what I assume is the area for only super fast people, and runners of all stripes were coming in the corrals. I immediately saw my friend Kim, who was running the full. I also noticed a distinct feeling of things, um, moving around in my insides. I think I pretty much told her right then, and loudly, that I thought I had to poop. I made my way to the portapotties where, of course, the line was HUGE. Shocker. But the lines were moving fast. It was 5:50. The race start was at 6, but I knew there’d be a few minutes to let the first corral out. I decided that I’d stay in line until 5:55 and if I couldn’t get to one, I’d just have to stop while on the course.

I got in one at 5:54 and mission accomplished. I was SO relieved. Pun intended!

I found my corral, fired up the Garmin, set up my ipod & headphones, and in about two seconds it was national anthem time. SHIT! I needed to do my dynamic warm-up! Argh. There wasn’t enough space, so I did as much as I could in one spot, all the while staring at the flag and holding one hand on my heart. Calf raises, heel walks, butt kicks. Yup, I did that. Was this unpatriotic? I don’t care. Then a serendipitous event happened: to my right, I saw a marathon pacer holding red balloons and a sign that said “4:00”. He was talking to his group and about their pace. He said they’d be shooting for a 9:10 pace and then asked if any halfers were running with them. I realized I could run with them or just ahead for the first half and I’d be on pace. Sweet! Corral A went, then Corral B. I was running!

Miles 1-3:

The beginning of a race is always a weird moment – you’re finally running, and it’s exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and shocking all at once. My main thoughts were a mix of just trying to position myself, keeping my eye on those red balloons, and calming down. My body didn’t really have any trouble starting out fasterish, but at the same time I had to settle into a pace I’m not used to running the first few miles. I knew the first mile would be slower and I purposefully didn’t want to jockey a lot for position so as to conserve energy, but I consciously picked it up for the second and third. Most of the time I was around a 9:05 pace which felt doable. Not effortless, but doable. The first mile felt like it was over in a flash and after mile 3 I allowed myself to think that things were going well, and I was nearly a quarter of the way through. I took a gel (salted caramel) at mile 2.5 and sipped either water or nuun/water every mile.

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Yoga and stretching afterwards. They really did it up right for the runners.

Miles 4-8:

As I work in Eugene and lived there for six years, I was super familiar with the course, which was nice. It helped me zone out and just run. Around mile 4 we started to climb a long ascent. I hung with the same group of runners I’d been with for awhile but didn’t push hard, as I knew I’d have a long descent where I could make up time. At the same time, I didn’t want to slow down a ton either. This climb wasn’t super steep but it was definitely noticeable, more than I anticipated. I felt the effort but race brain was in effect: you notice everything but somehow you just keep going. We reached the top and then made the turn to head back into town and there we had the downhill.

For a long time I was not a good downhill runner; last year my husband beat me by 43 seconds at the Eugene Butte to Butte and he won it on the downhill (grrr! I will be redeemed!). If I had one more mile I would’ve caught him! Since then I have worked on being a better downhill runner, at least on easy trails and road. I know they trash your quads but since February I have been working like a maniac on quad strength (thank you spin! thank you wall sits!) and as a result I don’t tend to get very sore there, even on my 11 miler with a solid 5 miles of downhill. So I let myself be carried by the downhill and it felt terrific! I thought about really going for it but I held back once I was at 8:20 pace because I knew there was a lot of running left. I was sad once the downhill was over but I actually forced myself to think thoughts of gratitude for that stretch instead of “wah.” Seriously, I thought, thank you, downhill. Now it’s time to get back to work.

At mile 5.5 it was gel time (mocha with caffeine) again, and at mile 6.5 I told myself to pick up the pace. I went ahead of the 4:00 pacer and never saw him again. This stretch of miles I felt really good; I wasn’t quite hitting 8:30s but yet I felt like I was at the right pace. There were a lot of us on the road, but enough space to make moves, yet I really wasn’t looking to pass people. I repeated the mantra “I run my own race” and kept near people who seemed to be on the same pace as I was. Around mile 7 the sun came out and I tried to put on my sunglasses but they kept fogging up! We got more shade again and at mile 8 we were near campus – back where we started. Here I took my last gel (lemon lime).

Mile 9:

Getting close to mile 9 we had another big hill in the neighborhood just outside the UO.ย  I was starting to feel tired but yet at the same time I knew I was on track to go sub-2. I didn’t think I was going to hit 1:55 but I was okay with that; I just wanted to stay under a 9:00 pace. I knew, though, that I had to push harder up this hill than I had on Mile 4. I remembered a tip my friend Jill told me to try, which is to pick a runner ahead of you and pretend she’s pulling you up. Dude, that works! I picked a runner who looked strong and contained but wasn’t super far ahead, and I let her carry me up.

Can I tangent quickly and talk about crowd support? The early miles had thin support because it was so crazy early, but midway through there were far more on the course, including a Girl Scout troop I wanted to hug and tons of people ringing cowbells and yelling positive affirmations as well as holding funny signs. I was very much within my own head this whole race – I didn’t really talk to many people and when I did it was in the early miles – but I love saying thank you to the crowd. I knew my hubby would be at Hayward Field to see me in and I couldn’t wait for that moment, but I have to say I wished I knew more people on the course. It is SUCH a boost to see smiling folks cheer you on. When we got back to campus the crowd was insane and I loved it. I high fived an elderly guy who was high-fiving as many runners as he could and it made that mile!

Miles 10-12:

We headed through campus and east towards Springfield and over the bridge to the paved paths along the river. At this point I knew it was close. Just a 5k left! I knew I was going to finish and I was going to go under 2 hours. I was also getting really tired. The air was warmer and I sometimes got the chills, but yet I didn’t feel thirsty or nauseous and nothing was crazy sore. I still had water left, so I sipped on it every few minutes. I had a mild side ache that I breathed through and I knew I was getting some blisters. And yet, I kept running. This part of running is fascinating to me – you want to stop, you are tired, things begin to hurt, you are noting that you are close and yet there are miles left, and yet, you just keep moving. Time definitely slowed down here but yet when I think about the race, I remember distinct points (I am going into a tunnel; I am turning this corner; here is a turnaround; the marathoners have split off) and yet entire sections in between those points are a total blank. My thoughts were all mantras at this point: I can do hard things. I got this. I get to do this. I am strong. I am capable. I worked for this. Go for it!

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Same thing on the other foot. I wore my trusty Injinjis AND used Body Glide. Hm.

At this point I started to pump my arms more. I really wanted those 8:30s but they weren’t happening. I had to focus pretty intently to keep up my pace, as I just naturally started to slow down. I kept pace with a woman ahead of me again but I was still struggling, so – I can’t believe I did this – I passed her. And then I passed some more folks. Not a ton of people, but one by one, I picked off a few just to keep moving. I am really flippin’ proud of myself here because it worked. Britney told me what I had to do: “Work, bitch!”

Then it was Mile 12 and I was crossing the Autzen Footbridge and this was it. The last mile!

Mile 13:

I really tried not to constantly look at my Garmin but I was anyway. I wanted my last mile to be my fastest and I also just wanted to know I was getting close! I remember seeing 12.10 miles, then 12.28. The pace was hovering at 9:00 so I pushed more. We crossed Franklin Blvd. and we were on Alder. There were a lot of people out there cheering, telling us we were so close. I high-fived a guy again and saw a camera and tried to smile. OH GOD. When it is your last mile and you are pushing and you are so, so tired and so close and yet the finish will not come, your smile is not quite what you think it is. Instead, you have this:

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Argh. I look like a slightly top-heavy, tall, middle-aged woman… Oh, wait. And yes I know posting this is naughty but charging $25 for ONE photo? Eff off.

HA! Oh good god.

I turned off my music so I could soak in the crowd noise but ten seconds later I turned it back on again. I needed everything possible to keep moving.

Mile .10

I saw the entrance to Hayward Field and it seemed so far away and then the next instant, it was there. I was on the track. Holy shit! I am running on Hayward Field! We veered right and the woman in front of me started hauling so I instantly picked up the pace. I felt like I was sprinting as hard as I could but I’m sure it was WAY slower than that, lol. I looked to my right and saw Damien! He was beaming and pumping his fist and shouting and it was wonderful! I think I smiled/grimaced at him – maybe I waved? I truly have no idea! – and then just kept going.

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Last bend before the straightaway!

I saw the time on the race clock – it was 2:00 something – but I knew I was under that time because of the staggered start. Then the woman ahead of me kicked it up even further and I tried to match her pace but couldn’t. In my defense, she was about 20, lol. Then another woman behind me sprinted past which PISSED ME OFF. But then she pulled up before the finish line and if there was one thing I learned in my track workouts it is this: NO LET UP. I sprinted forward to pass her (sucka!) and I was across the finish!

I pressed STOP on my Garmin and saw 1:57:46. I had done it! I had broken two hours! By minutes!

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Happy but I still look like I want to eat someone’s face.

It was an amazing relief to be done. I heaved at the marine who gave me my medal, told the girl who handed out chocolate milk I loved her, probably drooled a little on the kid who handed me my bag of snacks. I posed for my official finisher’s photo with what I thought was a smile (WOW, Tina. Seriously, just… wow.) And then Damien was there! He came to the spectator/finisher area with open arms and a HUGE smile and I gave him a huge sweaty hug and a sweaty kiss and teared up. I was over the moon. I was beat but yet I was elated. I pounded that chocolate milk and he hung out while I stretched and foam rolled, and then he went and looked up my official results.

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21st in my age group?! First number of my pace is an 8? I’ll take it!!!!

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My splits. Hell yes last 1.1 (3.2?)!

We had pancakes and more snacks out of the goodie bag, and then I noticed that a band was playing but no one was dancing. This might be my favorite moment of the race experience outside of 1) finishing 2) seeing Damien at the track. I did some stupid, silly dance moves and D took a picture and two dudes in the beer garden yelled out, “Go on girl, get it!”

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You know this is my new FB profile pic.

Doing the butt after PRing and more than meeting my main race goal. Awww yeah.

We hung out a bit more and then left to get out stuff together and head home. Poor D was zonked and well, I had just run hard for two hours. On the way home I had a bag of Tim’s potato chips that were orgasmically good – mmmmmmm salt – and a bottle of kombucha. For lunch I had bacon and eggs. Then I napped for 1.5 hours. And proceeded to be glued to Facebook for the rest of the day. My friends = super supportive rock stars.

And to you, Internet friends, all in all it was a fantastic experience. I am very, very proud of myself. I ran smart and I ran hard. I had to work for this and I did. I never walked. I never stopped, not even for aid. I feel like my time reflects my absolute best effort on that day and in those conditions. The race itself was brilliantly organized and to finish on the historic track at Hayward, with my husband cheering his guts out for me? AMAZING.

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That stupid right foot STILL kicks out. You know what I say: I don’t run pretty! Good lord these pics prove it!

Final note: on the way home Damien asked me, “How long ago did you do Couch to 5k?” And I realized that I finished that eight-week program two years ago at the end of July. In fact, I just checked: July 30, 2012. He smiled at me and told me that in two years from first starting to run I ran a half-marathon in under two hours. Unbelievable! Or, wait…

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My dear friend Dana gave me this card for my birthday. So fitting!

Believe it! And YOU, dear reader: go on, girl, GET IT!

The all-important race playlist.

I think I did it. I am pretty sure I made the best half-marathon running playlist EVER.

Here’s my basic thinking about race playlists: match the song(s) to your goals. The first song I allow myself to get a little pumped up, but not too much. The second is about chilling it out, holding back, not giving in to adrenaline. The next set of songs is about energy and groove – keep going, but don’t go apeshit. Then, there’s the midpoint, when it’s time to kick it up a notch. Here the songs are more driving, more heavy, more aggressive. Then, the song that tells you to keep going when you’re about to feel fatigue (mile 10). Finally, the last set of songs are all about YES YOU CAN and YES YOU WILL and GRRRRRRRRR.

The final song is an okay one but one you don’t mind avoiding. I hate Jethro Tull with all my heart and soul and thought about putting a Tull song as the last one as an extra impetus to run hard, but we don’t own any (because, well, I hate weird flutists who wear lace-up suede booties and stand one-legged while playing said flute) and I was NOT going to buy one.

Um, NO.

Um, NO.

It’s pretty safe to say that I have eclectic taste in music, and that I also have a high cheeseball tolerance. If it’s pop, it ain’t no thang. I made my 17 yo super music aficionado stepdaughter preview this playlist with me and she wanted to poke her eyeballs out with forks for about 80% of the songs. However, can I just say how sweet she is? When she saw (and heard) that I was making this playlist she went upstairs and retrieved an unused iTunes gift card for $10 and gave it to me, telling me to use at and she wouldn’t need it. I protested for about two seconds and then about ten minutes later I had six new songs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My hubby tested the mix out with me and gave me a BIG thumbs up. He’s a playlist maestro but concedes that I make some good exercise playlists. He did help me craft the piรจce de rรฉsistance by substituting one song for another (“List of Demands” in, “Mars” out, or in this case, relegated to the last song I hope not to hear) and reordering a few songs at the end.

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Er, let’s make that dayS.

So, without further ado, here it is! It’d be easier if I gave you something on Spotify but that’s too much effort for me right now. I have to go carb-load (I’m making a chicken sausage/apple/farro dish), pack, do a quick shake-out run, and then watch a movie. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Super excited to queue this up Sunday morning!



Taper madness omg please give me something to shred with my bare hands!

Let’s talk taper. My body feels good. Really good, in fact. I have been sleeping a LOT (nine+ hours last night). That sore spot on my heel is gone. Everything feels loose. I last did a light set of PT on Monday and since then have backed off everything else aside from what’s in the plan, a plank here and there, and a set of calf raises each night to keep my heel happy. Yesterday the plan called for 3 miles with two at race pace and I nailed it. But I will admit, it was work. It was hard. That’s taper, though, right? When the workouts feel tough and make you think that race day is impossible? But it’s not, though. Right? RIGHT?!

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Too bad I was up and down in speed within those RP miles! Good gravy.

By the way, the weather yesterday: rainy and cold. It felt like fall; I think it was 58 degrees at 11 am. As soon as I went outside to run it started to rain. I gutted it out – I did live in the wet Willamette Valley for 13 years, after all – and yet I kept thinking how cold my hands were. It’s July, I must be used to the heat, right? Nope, it was just cold, wet, and rainy. Reminded me a lot of my first half-marathon. Going full circle and all that. Sheesh.

Oh, but Sunday. Sunday we’re still on track for a low of 59 and a high of 90. GAH! Today we had 70 degrees for a high with blue skies and sunshine. Pure, pure heaven. Okay. I will not stress about the weather. (Which I have been repeating to myself incessantly in between checking weather.com.)

I think you can tell from my writing where my head is at:

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Dishwasher lady via The Oatmeal. He gave away the image for free! PERFECT for taper.

YOWZA. I can’t quite tell if I am just feeling stored up energy and am getting ready to race or if I am just anxious as hell. Let me correct that: I know I’m anxious. I don’t know about the first part. I have a feeling I’ll be ready for Sunday just to be done with this madness!

Let me tell you what taper is good for, though: house projects. The guest room closet is organized. The garage has been cleaned out, reorganized, and swept. Goodwill has a lot more stuff to deal with than it did yesterday. The overgrown aspen tree in the front yard has been trimmed. I did our monthly budget out to… November. I have already laid out my race outfit, gels, Nuun, and hydration belt. I’m going to do a little visualization exercise tonight to find some calm and tomorrow it’s playlist time. I have some old standby songs but it’s time to find some new as well.

Okay, time to shut down this wreck of a post and go visualize some kickass running.

Running song recs? The angrier the better. Go!

Past performance indicative of future performance?

In which I state, flat out, my goals. You know, the A goal, B goal, and C goal. The one you feel is most likely to happen (C), the one that’s pretty great (B), and the super awesome, over the moon, holy cow I can’t believe I pulled that out of my ass, goal (A).

By the way, it turns out that goal-making like this is a little controversial. Some sports psychologists believe that when you state goals in this way you essentially sell yourself short, and that on race day Goal C is a fail safe and therefore you don’t push as hard. Interesting. I get it, actually. But I’m still going to try the whole A-B-C thing.

Why? Because I’m nervous, that’s why! And honestly the C goal makes me feel a little easier. Which actually proves the doubting sports psycho dudes absolutely right. Still. Right now that safety net feels necessary.

Tangent: I went to PT today and was a freak. Everything is fine – my muscles are loose, my tendon is no longer thickened, and my strength is up. But I was all over the place on the drills; well, one in particular. I had to stop and regroup and get some instruction and I was better (it was a balancing thing on this hard-to-describe platform with an unsteady center bit) the second time but still, YOWZA. I was amped up and all over the place. S the PT anticipated this, thankfully. She deserves a raise after dealing with me, lol. Derp.

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I’d say this is a pretty good representation of my mental state and my husband’s patience.

Well. Let’s do this.

C goal: sub 2-hours. As in, 1:59:59 or below.

I am about 85% sure I can do this. In fact, when I first started doing speedwork on the track, I told Gillian, one of my track training buddies, that I felt I was already capable of that. I believed it at the time. However, today, being an anxious nutcase, I vacillate between thinking that’s a slam dunk and feeling like, oh God, what if I can’t do that? I even went back and looked at my previous (and only) half-marathon:

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Let’s discuss.

This was a trail race, and so in some ways I’m not even sure I can say if I beat this time that it’s a PR. Trail and road are so, so different. This particular race was on mostly single track and while it was a net descent, there were plenty of little climbers and scattered rock gardens and I was concentrating incredibly hard on footing. Plus, can we just talk about singletrack? It is next to impossible to pass on singletrack. (It was not impossible to BE passed, though. Heh.) When I did, I was stepping between scrub and rocks and I am not a confident trail runner! AHHH! Nerve-wracking. I had no real time plans for this race; my goal was just to finish. I told my hubby to plan on anything between 2 hours and 2:15 and that was about right, as you can see. I lined myself up in the second wave, just in front of the middle, and ended up behind some runners who were going a little slower than I wanted to. At times I felt like I was hopping up and down instead of running. It was good in that I had plenty left in the tank at the end, but I know I could’ve gone faster in the beginning and still felt okay. Can I just get a hellz yeah for that pace at the end, though? Still proud of that.

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I did a little spin today instead of running. Mostly seated with a few speed bursts and some standing to break it up.

The good thing about that half was this it was cold but not awful – around 40-45 degrees, I think. The wind and rain at the end were not fun but honestly I think I’d rather have cold and rain than what’s expected for Sunday – 91 degrees for a high.

A quick word about trying to PR in a July race: I KNOW. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s a very early start, so it will be much cooler, and I often run starting at 7:30 or later, but I have discovered that heat is not my thang. Honestly when I signed up for this race I was focusing on how it would work with my schedule, that’s a big, fun race, and that it’s flat. I didn’t think too much about what it would mean to train in summer, much less race. Total newb maneuver. Let’s just say going forward that I don’t have many plans for summer races, at least not with time goals.

B goal: Something around 1:57-8. This is about a 9 minute pace or just under. On some days this is what I think is the most reasonable for me right now. I know that this will feel like work, but that – I think – it won’t be an absolute struggle. Obviously I would be happy with this. This is also the pace I listed on my registration to determine corral placement.

C goal: 1:55 (or maybe a smidge under – ๐Ÿ™‚ ). This is an 8:47 pace. I realize this is barely different from my B goal. Yet I feel like this represents a tougher effort for me. One thing I know for certain is that I am not someone who can hammer out a fast pace right away. It takes me a bit to fully warm-up; many of my three mile runs show a big difference between Mile 1 and Mile 3 (as in, over a minute difference in pace). Of course I will do my dynamic warm-up and I know adrenaline will be present, but I also know that I need to hold back initially. Then there’s the fact that it will be crowded and all of us racers will need to break apart and spread out. I’ve already told myself not to freak out if my first mile is a 9:30. I’ll have to make up that time later but I have to understand it’s a possibility.

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Here’s a negative split pace chart for a 1:55.

And then there’s the possibility that I don’t meet any of these goals. This both makes me want to barf and is … okay. Because at the end of the day, it’s a race. It’s not a job interview or childbirth or a marriage proposal. If I don’t get there (I think “fail” is too strong a word) there are a million other races I can choose. If I melt in the heat or if my mental game chokes or if something unforeseen happens, it’s really not going to affect anyone but me. You bet I’ll be disappointed but nobody can take away from me the fact that I worked hard and that I’m pretty darn fit for a newbie, 41 year old runner. Yea yea yea there are plenty faster than me, but that isn’t what this is about. And hey, I can’t forget that WOOT!!! Well over $500 for CASA of Lane County!

So there you go. I put it out there. Let’s see what Sunday brings!