Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review

In 2011 I had a lot of running goals around race times and setting PRs. I accomplished a lot of those goals, but it wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be. In 2012 I decided to making having fun one of my main goals. 2012 turned out to be a pretty good year, despite struggling with a few injuries.
These were my 2012 goals:

Break 2:10 in a half-marathon
Complete a marathon
Complete an ultramarathon
I accomplished 2 out of 3. And I am happy with that.
Races run:
10ks: 1
Half-Marathons: 7 
Marathons: 2
Ultramarathons: 1
Total miles run:
970.8 (so close to 1000! maybe next year)
New states added:
A few highlights...
Earned another Heavy Medal with Rock n Roll Portland and Rock n Roll Seattle

Ran my first trail race...and hated it

Ran my first marathon and loved it!


 Ran my second marathon and almost swore off running
Ran my first ultra and made a huge checkmark on my bucket list

I am working on some goals for 2013...I think it will be a great year!
What are some of your running goals for next year?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

All Smiles

I guess I was a little happy to be running last weekend. I love it!

Photo credit to Leyla Duechle Photography.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Officially an Ultramarathoner!

I started out 2012 with one main running goal - to complete an ultramarathon. I had even dubbed it "the year of the ultra." At first I had my eye on the Mt Hood 50 miler in July. A hamstring strain in December 2011 put that one out of reach, so I decided to focus on the Autumn Leaves 50k in October. I was less than a month out from the race when we found out my MIL was having surgery and we ended up flying out to NJ that week instead to stay with her. I thought my goal of completing an ultra in 2012 was out the window...until I remembered a 6-hour timed run that had been held last December. I looked online to see if it was being offered again - it was! It was the Operation Jack Northwest Run, a 6-hour run where participants could run as many laps around a .95 mile course as they wanted to within 6 hours.
Saturday was race day. All week the weather had been forecasted as cold (high 30s to low 40s) and rainy. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, my backup plan was to run an hour or so on the course, then come home and run the rest of the 6 hours on the treadmill if it was just too wet or cold to stay out there. When we woke up, it was dry but chilly. After the usual pre-race routine I was ready to go.
The race was held at a local park about 15 minutes from our house, very convenient! The aid station was under a covered area, and participants could leave drop bags to access every lap. Hubs parked our car right in front of the aid station/start line so I could just use that as my personal aid station. There were also real bathrooms which was great, porta potties are one of my least favorite things about racing. The race was very small (100 person cap), so we all just gathered around the covered area and after a few words from the RD we were ready to start. It was freezing so I was ready to get moving.

My A goal was to run 30 miles, my B goal was to run an ultra distance (technically anything more than 26.2 miles). The course was paved but very slick since it had been raining all week, and had a few uphill and downhill portions. I decided to try to average around 5 miles an hour, which would get me to my 30 mile goal, and see how it went. I maintained this pace for the first 3 hours or so.

Approaching the half-way point, I knew I would have to start walking more if I wanted to make it the full 6 hours. After having a very sour experience at the Seattle Marathon, I really wanted to have a good race to end the year. I wanted to enjoy it and finish with my love of running intact. Starting out the 4th hour, I incorporated more walking. With a little over 15 miles done in the first 3 hours, I only needed to do about 12 more miles to reach an ultra distance.
At this point, hubs, who had been running off and on with me, left to go get lunch. I had been taking 2 shot bloks every 30 minutes and my stomach was starting to get upset from the lack of real food. I was hoping it wouldn't derail me too much, and worried that if I had to quit hubs was gone. After a few more laps he had returned and when I told him I was having trouble he started running with me again.
When we came around to the aid station I saw a familiar car parking next to the course. Hubs had arranged for my parents to come cheer me on! I almost started crying when I saw my mom. I was so surprised they had come all the way out just to see me run, and it was exactly what I needed at that point. They stayed around for awhile, walking with me for a minute when I came by their car, then huddling in the car to stay warm while I went out for another lap. It was so special to have them there.
I was getting pretty tired around the 23 mile point, and starting to ache. I had started eating pretzels to get some real food in my stomach, but I was feeling nauseas. Once I hit 24 miles and I knew I would definitely be able to complete an ultra distance, I gave myself permission to walk as much as I wanted. I didn't want this to turn into Seattle Marathon part 2. There were only a handful of runners still on the course (people could stop whenever they wanted) and most people were doing some combination of running and walking.
The only laps that counted for the official race distance were the ones completed by the time 6 hours was up. I finished my 29th lap with about 10 minutes to spare, I knew I couldn't finish another lap before time expired but I wanted to go the full 6 hours so I did a short out-and-back on the course, ending up at the start/finish line at exactly 6 hours. I had completed 28.05 miles.
I was an ultramarathoner! I know it isn't a 50k, but it is longer than a marathon. I was overjoyed to have completed a goal that eluded me for the last 11 months.

It also meant I FINALLY got to wear this shirt I bought about 3 months ago. The front of the shirt says "start" with all these different race distances (5k, 8k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2) and then ultra, which wraps around the back of the shirt.
I also got to have a guilt-free veggie pizza all to myself!

I thought this might be my first and only ultra. I wanted to complete one as kind of a "bucket list" thing, but I am hooked. I really like the timed race aspect, rather than a fixed distance. I already have my eye on a 12-hour race next year :) For now I am taking a little time off though, I think I owe my body a break after 3 marathon+ races in 3 months.

For anyone considering an it! The sense of accomplishment is incomparable, and the experience is unparalleled by traditional race distances. I still love half-marathons and I am on ok terms with marathons, but the ultra has become my true love.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fitting It In

5k doesn't seem like that much. 3.1 miles. Roughly 30 minutes of running, or 50-60 minutes of walking. But, it's surprising how hard it can be to fit it into your day sometimes.

I work a compressed schedule (10 hour days, 4 days a week) and I'm in grad school, so in general fitting things in can be especially difficult during the week. Yesterday I worked 7:30-6 and had Zumba from 6:30-7:30, followed by dinner. I knew I wasn't going to feel like running after dinner, and I also didn't feel like getting up at 5:30 to run before work.

I am incredibly fortunate to work from home, so my solution was to break up the 5k and do it on my work breaks. I ran 1.35 miles on my 15 minute break in the morning, and ran 1.75 miles on my lunch. I spent some time stretching and foam rolling and ran out of time to shower, so I sat on a towel in my office chair until my afternoon break when I could rinse off before putting on my Zumba clothes.

I have no idea how you moms out there do it, I couldn't imagine working a full day, fitting in workouts, and also taking care of kids. You are all amazing!

How do you find ways to fit it in?

Monday, December 3, 2012

5K-a-Day Challenge

Michael over at Slowly Tri-ing has created a challenge of running a 5k every day in December. I thought this would be a great way to stay active through the holiday so I signed up! She said walking 5k is ok too, since I am still recovering from a marathon and in general my body is not a fan of running very day.

The challenge technically started today, but I started mine on the 1st because I am a little OCD about things like that. So far, so good - 3 days down, 28 to go.

If you are interested in joining the challenge it's not too late! Just head on over to Michael's blog for the details.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bad Race = Good Race Picture

Despite being miserable I remembered to smile for the camera, and somehow my worst race produced my best running picture. Normally I am way too embarassed of race photos to post them, but this is one of the best ones I've taken. No chewing, no gloves in the sports bra, no mid-sentence talking mouth, no unflattering up-the-skirt view. It's a miracle!
Photo credit to brightroom, Inc.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seattle Marathon 2012...26.2 miles is no joke.

A few months ago hubs and I looked at the Seattle Marathon and kind of (really) wanted to do it. But, it was the day before my best friend's due date and I didn't want to be out of town when she went into labor. So, we found other races to do and put it out of our minds.
Then on November 6th, my friend gave birth to her beautiful daughter and we realized Seattle was now a possibility. However, neither of us had been training to run a marathon and it was less than 3 weeks away. We don't always make the most rational choices when it comes to running so of course it sounded like a great idea and we signed up.
Now, 26.2 miles and 3 days of the worst post-race soreness ever later, I have learned my lesson. 19 days is not enough time to train for a marathon. Also, running 2 marathons 6 weeks apart = not a recommended race schedule. I know some people are experienced long distance runners and have no problem with this. Less-than-experienced long distance runners recovering from injuries and a cold may have a problem with this.
But, we finished the race! And in the end that is all that matters. And despite all of my frustration, self-pity, anger, and tears, hubs never left my side. That is a true friend. There is a big possibility that I would have dropped out of the race if he hadn't been there with me.
So for now I will ignore the fact that it was my personal worst marathon time and focus on the fact that I have an awesome husband who will run 5 hours with me, then drive 3 hours home while I sit in the car stuffing my face. Love you hubs! 

Bundled up and leaving the hotel. It was 38* out.

Hubs snoozing in the parking garage

Ready to go! Blissfully unaware of the hours of pain that lie ahead

Hubs ready to run

Following the race - my giant apple fritter from Pike Place Market

Don't worry, I didn't eat the whole thing. I don't want diabetes yet. Or ever really.

We were so cold and hungry after the race we forgot to take a finish photo. This is a fake finish photo in our kitchen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Today I am Thankful for Zumba and Italian Food

Happy Thanksgiving!

My day of thanks started out with a 90 minute zumba party, complete with DJ.

My good friend Rachelle joined me. Zumba is our special time.
After zumba and a shower, we headed over to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner, Italian style!

Mom's delicious homemade baked ziti

Buttery garlic bread

Grilled chicken with sauteed mushrooms and linguine alfredo

Chocolate amaretto cake
After dinner I may or may not have eaten leftover chocolate amaretto buttercream frosting while watching X Factor. Overall, a pretty perfect Thanksgiving in my book.
3 days till Seattle Marathon!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fast Enough to Matter

I am not a fast runner. I am getting faster. But I will never qualify for Boston or win my age group. Whenever I try to run fast, I get injured. And I feel bad if I can't meet certain paces/times. I would rather enjoy running at the pace that comes naturally and feels safe, then push myself to run faster because that's what "matters" to other people.

My first marathon didn't go perfectly, but I still had an amazing time and was proud to have finished. My time was 5:05. The non-runners in my life were so happy and proud of me, they didn't care it took me more than 5 hours. I was happy, but a little embarassed by the 5 in front of my time.

I was feeling ok though, and still proud of my accomplishment. Then I came across a forum discussing the NY Times' decision to only publish NYC Marathon runners who finished in 4:30 or less. The majority of the posters agreed with this decision, and made hurtful comments about how runners who take more than 4 hours aren't taking it seriously and aren't really runners. We are joggers or run/walk-ers. People were saying that someone who took longer to run the same 26.2 miles was not accomplishing the same thing as a runner who finished in 3 or 4 hours.

I felt really bad about my time after that. I could never dream of finishing a marathon in the 3-hour range. I don't get what these people were hoping to accomplish by posting that. What do they think gives them the right to judge other runners? What makes a 3-hour marathoner any less of a runner than a 5-hour marathoner? They were bullying runners who probably had to summon a lot of courage to even start running in the first place. I had always thought the running community was supportive and encouraging, but this forum completely changed my mind. Some runners are just arrogant, or bitter, or out to make other people feel bad.

Your marathon time does not define you. If you are lucky, it becomes a lasting part of who you are and what shaped you. I am proud of the 5 hours and 5 minutes I spent running some of the most joyful, difficult, and satisying 26.2 miles of my life.

I hope that I will always focus on the journey and the accomplishment, and not on the fact that it takes me a little longer to get there than other runners.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Racing Firsts and Catching Up

The last few months I have been bad at blogging, but good at racing! I have done at least one race each month, including a lot of firsts! (And one BIG first :) I guess I will start where my last post left off...

July - first repeat race - Fueled By Fine Wine Half Marathon

August - first trail race - Xterra Portland

August - first women-only race - Every Girl's Half-Marathon
September - Champoeg Park Half-Marathon (nothing special about this one)

October - first half-marathon with a 2:30 cut-off - Boston Half Marathon

October - first MARATHON! - Baltimore Marathon

Now you are all caught up! It has been a whirlwind summer and a crazy first month of fall. Things should slow down in the next few weeks so hopefully this is the end of my blogging hiatus :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rock n Roll Seattle Half-Marathon

Better late than report from Rock n Roll Seattle!

This was the biggest race I have ever done, around 25,000 people. We stayed about 30 mins outside of the city and had pre-purchased parking at the garage so we left the hotel around 4:45 and were parked by 5:25. Everything went pretty smoothly, we checked our bags, used the porta potties, and got in our corral. We were in corral 24 so we didn't start till about 7:36. It was cold! But as soon as we started running I warmed up.

Hubs stopped to use a porta potty around mile 3, I was going to walk for a bit to stretch my calf and he was going to catch up with me. I started running again after a bit and thought he would run until he caught up with me; he thought I was going to keep walking until he caught up and got worried when he didn't see me walking on the side. We ended up not finding each other again until about an hour after I finished the race.

Technically...I ran a 13.1-mile PR of 2:16. But, there were so many people and so many turns that I ended up running 13.43 miles in 2:19:58, 23 seconds over my current PR. Grrrr! So close! I just need to find a small race with minimal hills and turns.

We really lucked out with having perfect weather during the race, cloudy turning into sun, high 50s and a light breeze. An hour or so later it started pouring down rain, I felt bad for all the marathoners still out on the course.

We walked over to Pike Place Market, hubs got a sour dough cinnamon roll and I got a Texas apple fritter. It was bigger than my head. The woman next to me on the bench was looking at us so I didn't take a picture. Trust me, it was amazing.

We sat at a coffee shop for awhile deciding what to do. This is when it started pouring down rain. We opted to go to Red Robin on the pier (a 10 minute walk), since our car was still parked at the garage a mile away.

There were several other groups of racers at RR. Funny to see the different types, an older grizzled man wearing two Garmins, a mom and two teenage-looking girls, three women decked out head-to-toe in Rock n Roll merchandise.

After lunch we amazingly caught a cab right out front and went back to our car. Then we drove back to the hotel and were lazy. It was great. I had ice cream for dinner.

Overall the race was pretty good, despite losing my husband for a few hours. My favorite part was running along Lake Washington and Elliot Bay. I think hubs' favorite part was meeting Dean K. at the expo. I don't know if I will do it again though, there are a lot of logistics involved! But I do love running in Seattle, so we may look into the Seattle Marathon. It was a very fun weekend!

Hanging out in the parking garage before the race

After the race, when we finally found each other!

I am really bad at putting race bibs on straight. I should really use a mirror.

Yum veggie cheeseburger and fries! My usual post-race craving.

RnR Portland medal, RnR Seattle medal, and Pacific Peaks medal for doing both. I am a sucker for medals!