Tag Archives: running

The Salty Half-Marathon Race Recap

It seems that the theme of this past summer has carried over into the fall—that theme, being, complete and total race/running spontaneity. I suppose this comes with the territory of not being extra strict with training or having a huge A race on the horizon… two things of which are my typical M.O. 24/7.

My broadly stated goal this fall was the work on speed, and while there is/was a tangible goal time I’m working toward, it’s been fairly loosey goosey around these parts for the past few months.

Which is why, when asked on a Tuesday if I wanted to run a half-marathon (The Salty Half) that following Saturday, it took me all of a few minutes to happily accept. Those who know me wouldn’t think that this was an exceptionally random decision, with the small caveat that I’m running another half this coming weekend, the Snohomish River Run. I couldn’t pass this one up though; not only was it $22 and included the company of these two, the start line was about a half mile from my house.

That said, I knew that I’d have to choose one of the two races to actually race and one to fun run. Since the Salty Half was a last minute decision, less official, and wouldn’t be tapered for whatsoever, I decided to take it easier on this one. Anddd, that actually didn’t end up being the case, but we’ll get to that later.

Saturday morning bright (dark) and early, I trotted down the hill to meet Lindsay and Nicole at the start line. There were just under 100 people running the race, so it was easy and casual—not timing chips or mats. It was super foggy, probably 85-90% humidity, but it was brisk and cold which is always my jam.

I had very little plan in terms of race execution. I wanted to save race pace for the next weekend, but I also know myself well enough to know I would want to compete a little. And considering the size of this race…I knew I could probably do fairly well if I tried. So, upon starting, I decided to just feel out the first few miles and settle wherever I felt comfortable. I knew for sure I wanted to go for a fast finish, so the only plan really was to save some for the end.

I settled into a group of two girls and a dude running a ~7:45 pace, which felt super comfortable. We were continually switching spots in the pack, and it was the first time I really understood to concept of “doing the work” in a pace group. I took the lead a few times, but otherwise I decided to just stick with this group so long as the pace felt manageable.

The course circled around Alki beach to Lincoln Park, which is my normal long run 80% of the time. Needless to say, I knew every upcoming turn and divet in the road, which meant I didn’t need to worry about course surprises.

We dropped one of the girls around mile 5, and then it was primarily another gal and me side-by-side, nearly stride-for-stride. She introduced herself, thanked me for the company, and we kept on like that for nearly 3 miles. It was the perfect silent runner agreement: You keep me going, and I’ll keep you going.

The turnaround in Lincoln Park was right at the halfway point (out and back course) and my legs felt good. I admit, I heard the siren sound of the race atmosphere get a little louder, and I started to think about executing a kick.

As we exited Lincoln Park (~5 miles to go), my new friend fell back a bit, and since I felt great, I kept on at the same clip. To go from having lots of fellow-runner support around me to instantly having no one was weird. Crazy how simply having someone to share the miles, fatigue, and pace with can make such a difference.

I was in a bit of a conundrum at this point. I knew I was the current 5th overall female (they were giving out prizes out to 5th place), and I  (obviously) liked the idea of a top-5 finish. I also knew that the girl behind me could be thinking the same thing, and playing an A+ game of letting me take an early lead. I went back and forth or whether I should slow down, speed up, or stay where I was. It was the first time I’ve ever actively thought about placing strategy in a race. Kind of fun! But stressful. I ultimately decided that since the pace I was at felt good, I would stick with it. If she caught me, I’d let her go by, and I’d save the chase for the final few miles.

Between miles 10 and 11, a familiar face strode up beside me; my friend Charles was out for his weekend long run and I filled him in on the spontaneous race decision and my current position. Charles is faster than me, and when he offered to help me ward off the girl behind and nab a top-five finish, I was 100% on board. He told me to tell him what felt pace manageable, and we’d hold that until the end.

And so we ran. I attempted to chat, but he made me save my breath while he distracted me with his own stories. Around 11.5, I started hurting some, but I was determined to keep stride with Charles and finish the race strong.

It was a little hard to determine exactly who around us was running the race and who wasn’t, since it wasn’t a closed course and there were tons of people out, both racers and non-racers. So, when Charles asked if a girl about 200 yards ahead was the 4th place female, I wasn’t sure. He said we could catch her if I wanted, and with a nod, we were on the hunt. Sure enough, once we passed, he verified that she was wearing a bib and I was now in 4th place. There was less than a mile to go now, and I was feeling both anxious to finish and determined to keep on my game face.

I have a fairly instinctual finishing kick, which comes I think from my track days, but also from my ingrained competitiveness. With a half mile or so to go, without even realizing it, we were passing another girl, and Charles turned to me and said the most Robyn-Broker-esque motivation there is: “You’re in third now, and you have to prove it.”

So, with my aching legs and screeching lungs, I officially kicked my “fun run” intentions to the curb, opened my stride, and gutted it out—determined for my first “podium” finish.

(Side note: The nice thing about having a pacer is that they can check and see the progress of the person behind you)

With the finish line in sight, I gave it everything I had, only to be directed into a mini-turnaround and loop to the actual finish line (way to throw off our momentum guys!). Charles took off running on his own, I squawked out a thanks, and ran my way to cinch the 3rd place female spot.

Unofficial finish time: 1:40:06 for 13.2 miles

salty half

Hooray! I was awarded a huge plastic fish with a “Third Place” tag on it as soon as I finished, along with a “Salty Half Marathon” sweat towel. Sweet!

*FYI, the race has self-declared “messed up” the places and timing on their results page, which they promised to fix. Just in case anyone decided to lurk 🙂

After thoughts: Obviously, this wasn’t exactly the relaxed race I intended it to be. Did I shoot myself in the foot though for this upcoming weekend? Not necessarily. Yes, it was a harder effort than I intended, but with the exception of the last three miles, I felt composed and comfortable for the entire race.

This was certainly a small, pick-up race, but I’m glad I was able to actually learn a lot from it. This was a first time for running in a pack, “making a move,” and truly executing a big finishing kick. All of these are valuable training tools, and I feel like they’ll come into play more often now that I have a better feel for them. I was also really encouraged by this race: it was my 5th day of running in a row, my legs were pretty wiped going into it, and yet the 7:35 pace I averaged felt very do-able.

Good things from a small, random race.

I’m excited for this weekend. As has become standard, I’m not sure of my specific goals, other than to log another solid half-marathon. This distance has been really fun to practice recently, and I’m looking forward to seeing how racing 13.1 more often affects my next 26.2 endeavor. On that note: less than 6 months til Boston!!!

And since this race recap is void of any pictures whatsoever (sorry…) here is a picture of Jasper with my fish prize. He is not too impressed.

photo

Thanks Lindsay for the race idea and Nicole for submitting to peer pressure 🙂

Shoe Switcheroo and Speedwork Surprises

Oh alliteration, I will never get sick of you.

Hey people! Happy Friday!

Jumping onto the blog for a quick update on running things, plus a couple of recent kitten pictures since I’ve been getting requests (and I’m a shameless mama who wants her baby fawned over by the internet 🙂 )

Unrelated photo of Lady Rainier from this past weekend in all her glory.

Unrelated photo of Lady Rainier from this past weekend in all her glory.

Shoes

I’ve recently been cheating on my Brooks Pure Connects. And it wasn’t me, it was them.

Oh dear, sweet, beautiful baby blues...I wanted so hard to love you.

Oh dear, sweet, beautiful baby blues…I wanted so hard to love you.

You see, when I first slipped into the first version of the Connects, it was like sunshine had broken through a metaphorical shoe cloud, and I was finally seeing the light. They were perfect for my foot, and I went through more pairs of them than my paycheck was happy with. Then came the Pure Connect 2s, which I figured, obviously, must be even better! I bought my first pair, and things seemed fine, except for a little nag that started in my right foot. At first, I thought it was just basic plantar faciitis that was coming from having a new shoe, but no matter how much I stretched and iced my foot (both go-to remedies for PF for me), the ache remained after most of my runs. It wasn’t anything serious, but it was annoying and although it took me a while to admit it…I had a feeling it was the shoes. Whenever I’d switch back to my older pairs, I had no issues at all, which only confirmed my suspicions that my beloved Pure Connects were no longer my ray of sunshine.

After a few months of refusing to admit the truth, I started looking elsewhere for a comparable replacement. I considered the Pure Drift, the more minimal in the line, but they were just too low. Good for short, speedy runs—not so much for long runs. And I’m a girl that likes my shoes to be able to do both. Basically, I needed all the qualities of the older Connects but without the new adjustments that were pulling on my arch.

So, I ventured outside of the Brooks family and started researching the popular Saucony Kinvaras. It sounded like they were pretty similar in terms of ride and drop to the Connects, and with so many rave reviews, I figured why not? I also found last year’s model on sale and I already had an REI gift card—making them a $20 purchase. Score. Okay Kinvara 3s, let’s try you out.

photo 1

Full disclosure: I did not love these on my first run. My feet didn’t feel very supported, and generally I just kind of felt— as Nicole puts it— like I was running in flip-flops. However, I didn’t want to write them off yet, so I stuck with ’em. It wasn’t until my 4th run that I realized that the shoes actually did feel good. It took my foot a little adjusting to not be hugged as tightly as the Connects do, but I think that once that hurdle was crossed, my stride and strike started to really like the Kinvaras. And so did I.

I definitely still feel like they’re not the best in terms of support, speaking even as a more “minimalist” runner, but they do offer what I was seeking all along—no arch pulling! I have a wide foot, and so I think by allowing my foot to spread out a bit more than that Connect 2s has made all the difference.

But, the Kinvaras haven’t (yet) gained long run or race approval. So, until I find “the shoe” that once again fulfills all my running desires, I’ll be alternating between my Connects and the Kinvaras. I raced in the Connects in Bellingham after having worn the Kinvaras for three-ish runs in a row and didn’t have any arch pain, so I think that this whole “shoe rotation” idea could be the ticket to happier feet.

This is now my life when I try to put on my shoes in the morning. Also, TEASER JASPER PIC.

This is now my life when I try to put on my shoes in the morning. Also, TEASER JASPER PIC.

I’m still hoping that the next version of the Pure Connects are closer to the originals, but for now I think Saucony can stick around to play.

Suggestions??

All it takes is one

One workout, that is. At least for me.

You see, one workout—whether good or bad—can make or break my confidence in terms of my running fitness. I’m certain I’m not alone in this, and it’s definitely something that’s both bad and good in different respects. However, I’ve found that the good workouts tend to outshine the bad ones, so I’m taking this trait of “it only takes one” as more good than bad.

Moving on.

Wednesday’s workout was a good one, a really good one. And it’s kind of helping me go back to the drawing board for both my short term and long term running goals—in a good way.

Due to some scheduling conflicts on Wednesday, I begrudgingly had to do my run in the afternoon, and we all know how I much prefer those early miles. My stomach is always wonky when I run in the afternoon too, which gravely thwarts my desire to do PM speedwork.

Nevertheless, Wednesday afternoon I had an unusual sense of enthusiasm and motivation to have a good, fast run—so I planned out a little tempo. I hadn’t done a real workout since Bellingham, so I was feeling anxious to reacquaint with my Garmin and my turnover.

Unrelated photo #2 from Bellingham. Not too horrible somehow.

Unrelated photo #2 from Bellingham. Not too horrible, somehow.

CONFESSION: I have a very, very bad habit of doing all speedwork on the…wait for it…treadmill. I know! It’s not good. And as a 90%-of-the-time outdoor runner, I’m embarrassed by this little handicap. There’s a few justifiable excuses for it…but more than anything: speedwork scares me, and it scares me less on the treadmill. That’s really all there is to it, and it’s a habit I’ve consciously decided to try and break.

And Wednesday would be the start of that scary adventure. On the docket: 1 mile warm up, 6 miles between 7:25-7:30, 1 mile cool down. I thought it would be manageable but still a quality run. I had high hopes, which helped fuel my fire to work hard. Furthermore, the results were both surprising and encouraging:

speedFirst of all: I clearly suck at following workout directions. This turned into a tempo+progression+fast finish apparantly.

Second: What the what? How did that happen?

I was definitely working for those last miles; they were not in the realm of “comfortably hard” like a tempo is supposed to be. But I went for it anyway, and I can’t say that I’ve seen speeds like that during a training run, well, ever. The most encouraging part was how comfortable those first 4 harder miles felt. It felt like I was working, but not with the same discomfort that those paces brought not too long ago. I’m not really sure if it was the perfect weather, the motivated attitude I started off with, or simply that it was a good day—but this was one of the most encouraging runs I’ve had in a long time.

First time running 8 under an hour too!

First time running 8 under an hour too!

I think the biggest difference I’m learning when it comes to speedwork, which I certainly tried to apply during this run, was to let it be okay to be uncomfortable. Not that I should relish the discomfort—but I shouldn’t hide away when it shows up. I tried really hard to keep this in mind, and I found that there was a sense of strength in hurting a little that I haven’t recognized before. It goes right along with all the cliches—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, yada yada—but, there’s a lot of truth in it. What seems to work for me is staying in the mile and remembering that it’s outside of our comfort zones that the real progress occurs.

After runs like this, that scary 3:35 half goal suddenly feels a little closer than it did before. And yes, all after one little 8 mile run. But sometimes, all it takes is one.

That said, I’m realizing that if I want more of these speed-highs and if I want actual progress, I’m going to need to up the ante in my workouts. Setting the bar high shouldn’t just be reserved for race days, and I’m definitely going to try to break away from the comforts of my watchless, easy, go-to runs and seek out a little more hurt.

Jasper

photo 3

15 weeks, still as cute as can be. I go back and forth between thinking he’s the most wonderful, precious thing in the world and wanting to lock him in a closet. Little dude is so fun, but still a playful kitten, and he can turn into a rabid tiger at times—particularly right before bedtime and often at 3 am. Yes, he sleeps in our bed. And I refuse to lock him out. Good baby practice? Although I doubt little babies eat your ponytail whenever they get the chance. I’m certain though that he’ll outgrow his constant playful energy, especially when he has his special male kitty procedure in a few weeks 🙂

But really, how can you resist this face?

Just hanging out in the underwear drawer.

Just hanging out in the underwear drawer.

"My bed, not yours."

“My bed, not yours.”

His state of existence when not sprinting all around the house.

His state of existence when not sprinting all around the house.

"Pick me to scrub in Bailey!"

“Pick me to scrub in, Bailey!”

The calm before the storms... And fave Oiselle sweatshirt btw, coming soon in this color!

The calm before the storms… And absolute fave Oiselle sweatshirt , coming soon in this color!

Okay, okay…I’m done. For now. In case you couldn’t tell, all I do anymore is take cat pictures.

So, basically you get three blog posts in one. I wish I had time to separate them all out, but hopefully you can accept my random smorgasbord of posts.

Which shoes do you wear? Do you rotate shoes?

Best workout you’ve had recently?

Who wants to babysit my demon sweet kitten for the night ;)?

Getting into Boston 2014: Patience is a Virtue

I’ve never been the most patient person.

When I get something in my head that I know I want, I want it to happen immediately, and I tend to get anxious and restless when I’m forced to wait. This is both a blessing and a curse… although I’m sure some (my family) would argue more toward the curse side of that.

Essentially, I feel like I know what I want the majority of the time, and I don’t like to waste time not going after it.

This is why, when I ran my first marathon in Portland almost exactly two years ago, I started plotting a way to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I may not have been ready, I may not have known the qualifying standards, but I knew I wanted in. Those “BQ” letters were coveted in the running community, and I wanted to earn them for myself.

Post-first marathon mug shot

Post-first marathon mug shot

As long time readers know, it took me a while to get that BQ.

But of course, I was impatient. I absurdly thought it was possible in my second marathon, which resulted in a catastrophic finish and a hard slap of reality. In my third marathon, I was injured and ran only to finish…going for a BQ time would not have been smart.

One of these ankles is not like the other. Do you think I needed a pedicure?

One of these ankles is not like the other. Do you think I needed a pedicure?

And then came Eugene. The race that I so openly expressed as the race. The one where I had a very public goal of qualifying for Boston. My training, my preparation, my nerves…all of it was focused on one number:

3:35

I had all the confidence I could hope for going into Eugene. I even thought that a sub-3:30 was possible, although that was kept under wraps. I knew that unless catastrophe hit, I was well prepared to run a BQ time.

Now, truth be told, I didn’t have a good race in Eugene. I hit the wall harder than I ever have before, and it took another dimension of willpower to drag myself into Hayward Field and across the finish line. But, despite the pain, I’d done it.

image

3:32:06

A bonefied, “Females 18-34” Boston Marathon Qualifying time.

Honestly, it took a while for this reality to hit me. Despite the fact that I’d pined and hoped for a BQ time for so long, I don’t think I’d taken the time to internalize exactly what that would mean when it happened.

After the pain of race day subsided, I started to realize that it was the process of earning my BQ that ultimately mattered, perhaps more so than achieving it. I’d become so focused on the outcome that, in a way, I’d neglected the journey. It wasn’t until I looked at it that way, then, that I came to appreciate the patience and diligence it took to get those two little letters.

The closer Boston registration came, the more I began to realize just how badly I wanted that patience and training to pay off; in the form of actually running Boston next year. I know I don’t need to remind everyone that space for 2014 was tight, and even those that had qualified didn’t know how their chances of getting in would be. As those first two weeks of registrations went by, I watched the entries get swept up as expected and wondered if and when the “rest of us” would get a shot.

Patience, patience…

Eventually, the “squeakers” were given the opportunity to register. I have never been so eager and anxious to wish away $175. It didn’t take long, though, for the news to hit that registrations had surpassed the number of remaining spots, and we’d all to have to wait…some more…for the BAA to determining the cut off time. Yes, a process that truly started in February this year was going to need an extra week and two days. So I kept waiting, along with everyone else, speculating if my time would make the cut.

I had high hopes, admittedly. Some easy math would indicate that my 3:32:06 should be within the top 50% of the outstanding entries; although without any definitive numbers, it was still hard to tell. It was like waiting on a college admissions letter in a way…the same type of feeling of either being “in” or “out.”

The day finally arrived for the final announcement to come, and I was refreshing my inbox every 5 minutes in anticipation of the yes or no email. Finally, around 10:30 am, the news broke, via the ever-prompt Runners World:

“Runners whose qualifying time for the 2014 Boston Marathon was at least 1:38 faster than their age and gender qualifying standard will receive notice starting today that they’re officially registered for next year’s race, which will be run on April 21.”

My eyes widened, heart fluttered, and a 26.2-mile wide goofy smile spread across my face. I was in!!!

Yet another look at my inbox would confirm: I was accepted to run the 2014 Boston Marathon.

photo

 

It’s all still a little surreal. I’m euphoric, of course, but I don’t think the reality of the situation has really sunk in. And I’m okay with that…because throughout this process, I’ve learned that there’s beauty in patience. It forces us to focus on the fruit of our daily actions as opposed to constantly looking toward something else. So while it’s my inclination to look at course maps, weekend schedules, previous recaps, and any and all pre-race literature… instead, I’m going to hold off. It was patience that got me to this point, and I want to allow the excitement and anticipation of this dream to unfold in a one-thing-at-a-time manner. I’m intent on keeping the magic of this race alive from now until the finish line, and I think that means letting all the details unfold organically.

So, aside from my initial giddiness, overall I’m feeling incredibly honored. I feel like that’s an overused expression, but that’s the word that first comes to mind when I think about running Boston in 2014. It will be an incredibly important year for the already important race, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to wear one of the 36,000 bibs on race day. I intend to treat the training, the race, and the overall experience with an incredible amount of care and appreciation. This will necessitate staying present both on the run and off, and for the first time…I hoping for the journey to take its sweet, sweet time.

Spring 2014, I’m so excited for you!

Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon Race Recap

Lots of things to say about yesterday’s race. For a quick minute in there, I was disappointed that I was (spoiler) only 20 seconds off my PR. I was also disappointed for an instant that my watch (along with those of several around me) read a long course and not a true 13.1. However, after those thoughts subsided and I thought back on the race that I’d run, I landed in the spot I am today: both very pleased and very encouraged.

I went into this race with some trepidation about the conditions (blustery and rainy) but also with a lot of gusto to run a good race. Relatively speaking, I hadn’t raced in a while, and I was ready to see what my legs could do. I rested all day Saturday (a new approach for me), hydrated well, slept well, and treated the run like a real race.

photo 1

Low and behold, race morning comes, and the drive up to Bellingham was…ominous. It was pouring, windy, and the perfect conditions for sleeping in and hot coffee…not running 13.1 miles in spandex and a tank top. But I kept my spirits high, and after an easy bib pick-up and some dynamic stretching, I forgot about the weather and tried to get in the zone. Spotting some fellow Oiselle teammates helped kindle my excitement, and I felt proud to be wearing the same singlet as such fast women.

Before I knew it, the countdown was on, and boom…we were running a half marathon. Tried and true to the start of any race, I a) felt incredible and b) knew I was going too fast. A look down at my watch about a half mile in would verify that my 7:00 “easy” pace was certainly not the way to start off a distance race, so I tried to tug back. Ugh, why is this always so hard? Every time I swear to myself I’ll follow the rules and hold back at the start, and every time I cross a start line I abandon all those good intentions. But, I forgave myself, let a faster mile 1 clock in, and prepared to reel in the reigns.

I felt so good during these first few miles. Like, better than I’ve felt running in a long long time. Isn’t that what we hope to feel during races? Anyway, I alternated between sharing paces with others, pulling back when they surged, and going ahead when they fell behind. Generally, it just felt great to be racing, and I let that mindset and momentum carry me through the early miles:

Mile 1: 7:14

Mile 2: 7:22

Mile 3: 7:23

In terms of pacing for this race, my goal was to stick to 7:30s for the first half and open it up if I could during the second half. So, once I reentered the 7:20s, I considered it okay and just went with it. I also knew that there was an incline coming up in mile 4 which would get things back in line.

That incline came and I already knew that my legs were in for a hard race, should I keep this pace up. My breathing sped up and my HR surged a little, reminding me that I was—in fact—racing. But, per usual after a hill reclines to a flat grade, my legs started turning over again and invited the steady downhill that would come in the next few miles.

Mile 4: 7:47

I knew that miles 5-7 were on a downhill, and I’d planned ahead of time to use those miles to my advantage. What I hadn’t considered, though, was that these miles would also change the direction of the course directly into the forecasted wind. These miles were also pretty exposed, which made the wind even more difficult to avoid, but nonetheless…I tried to gun it a little.

Mile 5: 7:18

Mile 6: 7:06

Mile 7: 7:01

There was a bit in there where my watch read 6:xx, which both horrified and exhilarated me. I’d never seen a pace in the 6s during a half marathon, and it was a definite confidence booster to see that pop up.

The course flattened out after this, and the headwind seemed to take a turn directly into our faces. I tore open my gel around this point too and held it for the next few miles, taking drags from it whenever I felt steady. We reentered downtown Bellingham, and there were a few twisty inclines that definitely slowed me down and reminded me of the miles I’d already logged. My energy started waning a little around miles 9-10, and looking back on the elevation profile of the course, it’s obvious that those mini hills took their toll.

Mile 8: 7:34

Mile 9: 7:45

Mile 10: 7:40

We were on a dirt path along the bay at this point, which was warmly welcomed after all the pavement pounding. Although my watch had been a little off the whole race, it was really off once I got to mile 10, which was a little discouraging. My miles were beeping at least 2/10 of a mile before the mile markers, and a fellow racer confirmed that her Garmin was at the same distance as mine. Admittedly, I fumed about this for a bit, considering I thought a PR was within reach should the course be 13.1, but I put that thought out of my mind and tried to just run the race I was running and enjoy it as much as I could.

Once I got to mile 10.5 or so, I resolved to kick it up in the last 5k, and that mind shift seemed to give me a bit of a second wind as well. I was hurting, but not done yet, and I wanted to finish strong. There was a STEEP boat ramp during mile 11 that felt like I was walking, which took a lot of self-talk to get up and over especially with another hilly ~1.5 miles to go afterward.

Mile 11: 7:17

Mile 12: 7:58

Alas, up I went, and we turned into the homestretch. Something I really like about this race is that it’s an essentially straight shot to this finish, and it seemed like everyone around me was pulling out everything they had to fire their final canons. I’d been leap-frogging with a few men the whole race, and all of us were straightening up and putting on our best race faces during this final stretch. Lots of fun.

However, things were hurting. This last mile was consistently up and down hill, and I was definitely feeling all the changing elevation, despite how minimal it actually was. When my watch beeped “13” I was nowhere near the mile marker, so I made a mental note to check “my” half marathon time in another .1 miles.

Mile 13: 7:12

Eventually, the finish line came into view, and I dug out my final dregs of speed as much as I could—I’ll be damned if that clock changes to 1:39!

photo

Final .32 miles: 6:37

Official finish time: 1:38:47, 16th woman overall

After a momentary feeling of being punched in the gut, I pulled it together, got my medal and space blanket and regaled on what just happened: Was that the fastest I’ve ever run before?

Technically, no. My official half-marathon PR is 22 seconds faster than that. But, in reality…it actually might be.

I am certainly not someone to play the, “But my watch said xx:xx!” card. I believe we all run the same course, the same race, no matter what, and the numbers we clock individually are secondary. But, .2 miles off is significant enough that I’m inclined to look at my pace according to the distance I logged rather than a 13.1 distance. Furthermore, in the case that I ran 13.32 miles in 1:38:47, I ran a 7:24 pace, which is easily faster than I’ve ever run a half marathon before. Take it or leave it, I realize this is a controversial topic, but I’m having a hard time ignoring that figure.

Despite the could-haves and maybes of the off-distance, I certainly had miles during this race that were both unexpected and mini personal-record breaking. The fact that 6.32 miles were under 7:20s is incredibly encouraging, and it brightens my hopes for a 1:35:xx in the (hopefully) not-so-distant future.

photo 3

I also felt like I was able to handle discomfort during this race much better than I’ve been able to before. One of my goals going into it was to keep my head on and not let the pain shadow my confidence. I tried to keep this in the front of my mind during those tougher miles, and I’m happy that I feel like I was able to stay comfortable being uncomfortable. There were some bleak minutes, certainly, but it felt like my resolve to push through was able to suppress those dark voices—which is something I’ve definitely struggled with in the past.

So, all in all, it was a great race. I’m happy that the rain held off (mostly), and despite the comprised conditions, I ran the best race I could. I have high hopes for what’s to come, and a little more gusto in my motivation to start training a little harder. The half-marathon is a fun and tough distance, and I’m excited to see what the next two this year have in store.

And a huge congrats to the other ladies who ran this race! In case I needed a spoonful of humble stew, the other 4 gals I ran with finish in 3, 4, 5, and 7th. Yes, really. Speedy ladies! Super impressive.

Happy Monday all!

Playing Catch-Up: Running, pets, and Boston

Hello! Long time no talk. How is everyone?

It’s so exciting that fall racing season is in full swing—it’s been fun to hear about everyone’s super long runs, tapering, and race results! I’ll admit I’m a tad jealous that I’m not doing a fall marathon (ahem, Chicago), however it’s made scheduling more relaxed and gets me even more excited for whatever’s next.

For now I thought I’d just give some updates—on running and otherwise.

Lately, I’ve been running between 40-50 miles a week, and recently it’s been closer to 50. It’s been fun, and feels surprisingly manageable. A year ago this would have been really high mileage for me, but it’s starting to feel a little more “normal” I guess you could say. I feel like I’m developing a really good base, and by alternating between speed, long runs, cut back weeks, and easy runs, I’m hoping that my base will be really strong by the time I gear up for my next marathon.

This is what a typical week has looked like lately:

M: rest, always

T: ~10 miles, no watch

W: ~8 miles, some kind of speed work, mostly tempos, and Maximum Sculpt class

T: ~8 miles easy

F: 6 miles slow and Maximum Sculpt class

S: 14-18 mile long run. I did do one random 20 miler last weekend, but otherwise I’m normally around 16

S: cross-training, normally swimming

My Wednesdays are Fridays almost always look the same, but otherwise things float around a lot. I’m starting to switch my long run days to Sunday for the fall/winter because the only thing better than finishing a long run is finishing a long run and laying on the couch watching football for the rest of the day.

Football season=Sunday long runs

So, despite the “not training” higher mileage, I do have some method to my madness—in the form of fall half marathons where allegedly, I’ll be testing my fitness.

Full disclosure/honesty: I’m 99% sure I’m not ready to run The Big Goal Time at the Bellingham Bay Half, which is two weeks from now. I could ramble away on a variety of excuses, but instead I’ll just take ownership and admit that I haven’t put in the amount of work necessary. Yes, I’ve been running and I’ve been diligent about workouts and miles, but I never feel like I jacked things up to the level I need to be at. It might have been fear, laziness, burnout, etc—but whatever the reason, the result is that I’m not feeling prepared to attempt a 1:35 half marathon in two weeks.

However, I do feel like the work I have done could be worth something, and I think I’ll use Bellingham as a fitness test and benchmark race as opposed to an A race. There is the chance of a PR (my current is 1:38:25), although I won’t be all that disappointed if I don’t break that either.

Do I want to be in shape to gut out 7:15 miles at Bellingham? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty for not being there yet? Not really. And here’s why:

I spent the summer having an incredible time running spur-of-the-moment races, spending hours in a van and on the road in two ultra relays, and generally living a life that didn’t revolve around A-race training. And it was fantastic! I don’t regret it for a minute. It was so good for my hyper-competitive self to take a break from the grind and live life a little less strictly. However, my summer didn’t come without some hard work—and in fact it left me more exhausted than I anticipated.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while I don’t feel ready for a 1:35 just yet, I do feel like with a little more time I’ll get there. I have a few more half-marathon plans up my sleeve this fall, and in no way have I discounted those as opportunities for fast races. I’m also secretly hoping that as the temperatures drop, all my hot weather training will have miraculously made me faster without changing anything else. 🙂 Point blank, my goal to get faster and to be a better runner hasn’t changed one bit, it’s just taking a little more time in the short-term than I originally hoped for.

In other news…

In case you haven’t seen on my social media posting spree:

image

We got a kitten!!!

His name is Jasper, he’s 11 weeks and 5 days old, and he’s perfect.

He’s completely stolen our hearts, and every day I love him even more. I’m also a paranoid kitten owner, and I’m chronically afraid that something’s going to choke him, electrocute him, or that he’s ill with some rare kitty cancer. This definitely bodes well for how I’ll be with a baby.

Nevertheless, he’s a happy, healthy, curious little kitty and makes my day brighter.

image (2)

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

And lastly…

photo

Stay tuned folks! Boston registration is still open for all us “barely there” qualifiers, and this morning at exactly 7:08 AM, my registration was sent in. I’m guessing we won’t hear until the end of the week, but I do know that if space does fill up…every second counts. Let’s hope that my -2:54 minutes helps me!

I do have my hopes up, admittedly, but even if I don’t get in, it felt so incredible to even have the chance to register. Two years after I ran my first marathon, I never imagined I could be on the Boston Athletic Association website hitting “submit” to my very own application. It was awesome, and I can only imagine what it will be like to actually run the race, whenever that may be.

That’s all for now! I think it’s safe to assume most people are as excited as I am about the upcoming crunchy leaves and cooler weather. And as much as I scoff at all the “scarves!” and “boots!” and “OMG PSL!!!” yammer, I have to admit that fall is seriously my jam, and I plan on soaking it up to the fullest.

Happy Monday!

A Year Without Injuries

This is potentially the most jinx-filled post I’ll ever write. But since I’m not a huge believer in that type of thing, I’ll just go ahead and write it.

(Knock on wood, knock on wood…)

As of this past weekend (Saturday to be specific) it has been one year since I’ve been injured. One year, you guys!

On Saturday, September 8, 2012, I was forced to cut short a 20 mile Chicago Marathon training run because my ankle blew up to the point of not being able to walk. It was heart-breaking, and although I ultimately was able to run the race and had a great time doing so, the injury was still a wake-up call of sorts.

And since then, I haven’t had to take a day off of running for anything other than basic aches, pains, and soreness. Kind of hard to believe! And if any of you are thinking, “It’s just a year Robyn, what’s the big deal?” let me recap some things for you:

In 2012 I was hurt three separate times, all of which were the result of improper (too much) training and general bodily negligence.

– In April, I got horrible knee bursitis which completely threw off my Tacoma Marathon training. It took a cortisone shot and a lot of Aleve to weasel my way out of that one in time for the race.

-In May/June, the evil IT Band Syndrome got me good, and I was limping with knee pain for nearly two months. No running whatsoever.

-In September (as previously mentioned) my ankle tendonitis nearly eliminated my chance to run the Chicago Marathon. It was a little miraculous that I actually made it to and finished the race, and it wasn’t without a lot of luck and prescription anti-inflammatories.

I was actually very fortunate in my year of injuries. While they definitely were the result of over-training, none of them were very permanent and could mostly be quick-fixed with rest and drugs. I definitely consider myself lucky in that regard, but I still knew that my luck wouldn’t hold up if I didn’t make some changes.

It’s one of those “Fool me once, fool me twice…” scenarios. But in this case, I was certainly the one to be shamed, and I knew that these running injuries were going to keep happening if my habits stayed the same.

Nothing changes if nothing changes, and it was time for me to change.

And here I am…a year later, and (okay fine, lots of knocking on wood) I’m healthy and running happily. I will be the first to admit that a lot of this is luck; running and injuries sometimes just go hand-in-hand, no matter how careful you are. For some reason, I’ve been able to avoid the inevitable injuries that can knock us out.

However, I have definitely made changes that I’m certain have played a role in eliminating overuse injuries. Here’s a few things that I think have made the biggest difference:

1 rest day per week. No matter what. I used to take a rest day once every 2 (sometimes 3) weeks, and now I don’t know how that was even possible. I start to crave my rest days, which I also think means that I’m working harder during the other days.

Foot strike. I know this is a debated topic, but between last year and this year, I have fully transitioned to a more minimal shoe and have completely changed from a heavy heel-striker to a mid-foot striker. It could be a coincidence, but I’m guessing that this has a lot to do with the lessened impact.

Added walking. I walk every day between the water taxi and my office building (~.7 miles each way) and often times this is right after I’ve run and showered. I could be wrong, but I think the prolonged striding and extra “shake out” that walking provides has helped my legs recover more from my running.

Strength. This is potentially number one. Up until last August or so, I never did any kind of leg strength training. I always wanted my legs to be fresh for running, so I never bothered with squats or lunges or anything like that. I kind of cringe to think about this now, given that I’ve done a 180 in that regard. Currently, about twice a week, I do all kinds of strengthening, flexibility, and balance (<–super helpful!) work thanks to the lifting class I found. Not only do we work the big running muscles (hammies, quads, and glutes) but also the smaller, less obvious muscles that ultimately make a big impact on both performance and injury-proneness (not really a word, but I think you understand). In a nutshell, I think I had it wrong before; cross-training for running should actually be more about strength and less about other types of cardio. This might not be the same for everyone, but I’m convinced that adding strength training and dropping spinning has been perhaps the number one injury prevention technique.

Here’s the kicker to all this: I’m actually running more days per week and more miles than I was last year when I kept getting hurt. I have built up to this in a totally safe way, no doubt, but I think it’s interesting to look at how I’ve actually been able to do more since I’ve made the above changes.

And let it be known: more running wasn’t even the intention when I decided I needed to reevaluate my habits; in fact, it was actually more the opposite of that. But along the way, I think I found that with the added balance and the added rest, running was granted to me more freely. Some weeks are better than others, and some weeks require more rest and less miles. Ultimately, though, I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on the balancing act of the sport. Much like any relationship, it’s very give and take; the more you nurture your running with things like rest days, stretching, rolling, and nutrition, the more it will give back—in the form of more pain-free and happy miles.

I’m constantly reminded of how much like life running is, and how much it can teach us about other aspects of our lives. This past year has really solidified my belief that nothing changes if nothing changes, but also that we are in control. I think for all of last year, I felt as if running owned me; like it was an abusive relationship, and running had all the power. Of course this was wrong, but it was hard to see things otherwise when the sport I loved so very much kept disappointing me.

Now, I realize I had the power all along, and in fact I was the one who was abusing it. Today, I feel infinitely more control over my training and my running, which is an incredibly empowering and comforting feeling. As a result, I feel like I’ve become both stronger and faster—and perhaps most importantly, more conscious of both my limitations and potential within the sport. So long as I continue to give and take, I have a feeling that that potential will continue to turn into results.

As evidenced also by this past year of three different PRs, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit safer.

Take care of your bodies everyone. We all love to run as much as we can, but sometimes our running, just like us, needs extra TLC.

And if you are hurt right now…here’s one of the most wonderful things I discovered last year after sitting on multiple sidelines: running isn’t going anywhere. It will be right there to take off with you whenever you’re ready again.

So about that half-marathon goal…

Remember that big, scary goal I wrote about a while back? The one I was over-the-moon ecstatic and horrified to starting working toward?

Right. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t done a lot of talking about how the steps toward that goal are going. This is partially because I haven’t had any time. Between working, running, relaying, traveling, and the life in between, my blog-updating time is limited and I’ve had to focus on the current happenings rather than the far-out goals.

So here’s an update on the 1:35:xx half-marathon goal I’m pining for before the end of this year:

I’m not feeling great about it.

It’s not that I don’t want it, and it’s not that I don’t think there’s potential in it. But the commitment and enthusiasm I felt when I initially began this scary endeavor hasn’t really been there recently, and frankly…I’m not surprised.

I don’t think I gave the magnitude of two ultra relays in the same month the credit I should have from the onset. They both required a lot of slow and long miles to prepare for, a week of taper beforehand, and a week of recovery afterward. I suppose I felt like the relays would simply “fit into” my training for my goal half. Instead, it became the other way around; I was trying to fit half-marathon training into preparation and participation in two ultra relays. And let me just tell you…the training regimens for each don’t necessarily fit together.

It’s the same reason why it’s really hard to focus a lot of attention on speed work during the peak weeks of marathon training. You can try and bust out a few tempo miles, but ultimately it’s the mileage count that reigns supreme, and we must abide by the desires of our already fatigued legs.

With that said, after a weekend of running over 35 miles in 24 hours, my legs were not going to be okay with 800 repeats, or goal paces, or anything other than a humble jog for that matter. And that happened to me twice.

Ultimately, I was more concerned with recovering adequately from the relays than checking off every half-marathon specific work out. And IMHO, this was definitely the right way to go. Sure, long term I probably care more about increasing my speed and my half-marathon PR than I do about relays. However, I definitely care more about running injury free above anything else—so it was in the end a matter of maintaining health.

The other part of this whole training-not-training deal (the part I’m more embarrassed to admit) is that the paces are ridiculously intimidating. It feels like I’ve just become mostly-comfortable with the idea of a 7:30 half-marathon pace (my old PR), and all of a sudden I’m supposed to be working on a 7:15. Those numbers, “7-1-5,” have kind of been haunting me, and it’s become obvious that I need to not only up my mental game, but I need to practice this pace to the point where it’s a little less daunting.

With that said, I have been practicing! What’s funny is that I “wrote” this post (in my head, on an easy run) on Monday , and then yesterdays run kind of changed my perspective on the whole “lack of confidence” theme. Which subsequently changed the ending of this post…as you’ll see below.

For me, tempo workouts at goal pace are my favorite way to gain some confidence about a goal race. Before Eugene, I practiced the feel of 8:00 miles so much that I guarantee I could have done them without a watch. So for Bellingham (the next half-marathon on the horizon), I’ve been playing with 7:15. Not a lot, but just enough to where my lungs and legs can start to know how it feels.

On Wednesday, however, it was time to step it up: I set out for 5 tempo miles, sandwiched between a warm-up and a cool down. The goal of those miles was to simulate a race plan (start slower, finish faster) and mimic the pace I would ideally hold for a 1:35:xx finish. I was nervous, I was unsure, but it had to be done:

Here are the results:

8:20 (w/o)

7:19

7:19

7:13

7:13

7:07

8:20 (c/d)

I’m not calling it a game changer, but that one workout gave my self-doubt-filled brain a jolt of inspiration. Maybe, it turns out, this goal isn’t too far-fetched. It might take a little more time and more races than just Bellingham (9/29), but I’m starting to feel a little more like that giddy, speed-hungry girl from a few months ago.

And yes, it really only took one workout. I can’t explain it, but yesterday—those paces that have felt way too fast and way beyond my capabilities felt a little more like mine. Instead of thinking those paces belonged to more experienced, faster runners that weren’t me—I felt like maybe I’m a little more entitled to them than I previously thought.

The goal now is going to be to really embrace that “ownership,” and I know I might need to be patient. From the onset, I had it in my head that Bellingham was going to the *the* race to make that 1:35:xx happen. There’s still a chance, but instead of putting all my eggs in that basket, I’m going to work more toward really getting stronger and more comfortable at those paces than just gutting them out for one race. The ultimate goal is to improve my speed overall, that’s what my goal was for this fall, and while a half-marathon PR is a good tangible step during that process, it’s not the end-all finish line.

The reason I’m not running a fall marathon this year is two-fold: one, I’ve run a marathon during the past four racing seasons, and I want to stave off burnout while resting my legs for a (potential) Boston Marathon run next spring. The second part, however, is to focus less on mileage and focus more on speed. So far, that hasn’t necessarily been the case considering the distance I had to put in for the ultra relays. And that’s fine! I had such a fun time at those relays, and I feel so fortunate I was able to participate in them.

However, it’s time to get back to work. Kind of like school starting again, it’s time to get a little more regimented if I want to get serious about improving my speed. It was hard to say no to a fall marathon this year, even though I knew it would ultimately keep me healthier and keep me moving toward my goal of getting faster.

That said, I don’t want to waste this opportunity. I’m a big believer that our comfort zones are meant to be broken, and our limits are supposed to be tested, and it’s time to practice what I preach.

Fall is here folks, and it’s time for this birdie to put on some big girl wings.

Spokane to Sandpoint Relay Women’s Ultra Team Winners

I have an extraordinarily overwhelming amount of feelings and details to share about all the madness that occurred this past weekend. Unfortunately, the time and care I need/want to put into it isn’t quite available to me currently. So for right now, I’ll just give a quick overview.

zFrmxyDYgncoa-T8A-VyGVvTQrBLkSSiPZsb838GkoY[1]

In a word, it was incredible. Incredible, in the very all-encompassing sense of the word. Incredible difficulty. Incredible fun. Incredible heat. Incredible women. Incredible support. Incredible scenery. Incredible inspiration.

ke2LzzPhkx4f0TYOkfuYqOIC5uh39uSQbd4-HJ9aVt8[1]

The list really goes on and on. And while I’m kind of still in the midst of unraveling from the adventure itself, I’ve already realized the biggest takeaway I learned this weekend: It’s the hardest things, the most trying events, that make the greatest and most lasting impact.

plB3as8-b_wBr-aXCFywFFuyrn8X-LKpyS3ZDDOFXys[1]

I’m sure you can guess, then, that this race was not easy for me. Not that I expected a fun run, of course, but for a multitude of reasons—this was perhaps the hardest race of my entire life. It was humbling, and I learned a lot about myself as a runner. All the details will be saved for later, and believe me—there are lots of ugly ones.

But, pain and fatigue and chafing and discomfort aside, the thing I feel more than anything right now is pride. My team wowed me the entire time, and it was truly an honor to run alongside such strong females.

Kc22f0kkft_8V6vtB5aK8Y5rzn0Fh66Ycne_I2suoYI[1]

We finished the race in 33 hours, 13 minutes, and 21 seconds, and finished as the first women’s ultra team. Every single one of us was beyond thrilled to see that finish line.

A true race recap will follow soon, and I hope I can try to convey the grit shown by these badass chicks on my team, not to mention to professional-level driving and general race support done by our awesome driver.

oSE7bGrH8AygeAkBPK-AU23HZc5RJdO2V9gl8YX55_E[1]

And the best news is (thanks solely to my teammates) there are tons and tons of photos.

Stay tuned…

Deja Vu: Ultra Relay Take 2

So, on Friday I’m running another ultra relay…my second in a month.

"Hmm....how can I do this again as soon as possible?"

“Hmm….how can I do this again as soon as possible?”

I know, I don’t understand either.

My only excuse for this binge on intensive relay running is that I’m easily peer-pressured into running events. I’m also a little intoxicated with that summertime euphoria that makes you blindly agree to any and all activities that involve being outside with fun people.

The race, Spokane to Sandpoint, starts in Spokane, WA and traverses across Eastern Washington and finishes in Sandpoint, ID.

sts_overview

To top it off, thanks to a certain baby being born a little too close to this race, I’ve assumed the captain role. It certainly adds a different element to race day prep, and while it’s a little stressful, it offers a great distraction from actually being stressed about the running. Should be a nice wake up call when I start the first of my four legs on Friday night, huh? 🙂

On that note…the way I’ve arranged our legs is definitely different than typical ultra relay fashion, and I’m hoping it’s not a horrible flustercuck. Essentially, breaking down mileage into 3 legs per person (with each runner assuming two 12-man team legs at a time) wasn’t giving an even distribution of miles. One runner was going to need to do an 18+ mile run in the middle of the race, and it just wasn’t very fair overall.

So, I did some recalculations, and now we’re each doing 4 legs, and ALL of us have our longest leg first. I was proud for figuring that part out. I’m hoping it should be alright…four legs is a lot, but the distances gradually get fewer and fewer for everyone, so that should help.

I’m runner number 6 again, and here’s how my legs are going to break down:

Leg 1, 5:00 pm: 13.92 miles

Leg 2, 1:00 am: 7.56 miles

Leg 3, 8:15 am: 8.89 miles

Leg 4, 3:50 pm: 4.79 miles

Barring any casualties, I’m counting on those last 4.79 miles to feel like heaven. Not that my legs will feel good, but I’m thinking that only running 5 miles will be some good motivation to get to the finish line fast.

So, while I’m a little stressed with logistics, I’m truly really excited. After I crossed the finish line at Ragnar, I instantly knew I wanted to do it all again. Be careful what you wish for, right? This race will be much warmer than Ragnar (scary) BUT it will be much flatter and hopefully just as scenic.

This is where I get to run to the finish line...not bad.

This is where I get to run to the finish line…not bad.

And most importantly…my team! Our team name was originally “Awesome Bloggers,” but through several substitutions and roster changes, it turns out that only two of us actually have blogs (shock! I know).

Our new name is “Girls Just Wanna Run,” and we’re planning on blaring some Cyndi Lauper more than once while on the course. We are a motley crew that came together through random running connections, but I can’t wait to get to know everyone better. The best part of relays, in my opinion. This super fast chick is on the team too, and with her mutual love for relays and running, I’m predicting an enthusiastic van (well, at least between the two of us :))

I’m hoping to drop in before we head off to Spokane on Thursday night, but if not…you can expect delirious 2 am van tweets and plenty of pictures along the way from me.

The summer of racing and running continues! And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Has anyone ever run Spokane to Sandpoint? Has anyone ever run a relay where they ran more than 3 legs?  

The Birdie Turns Into a Bird

My blog pseudonym is not just a fun wordplay on my name (Robyn). In fact, the origins of the “Birdie” nickname date back to when I was a scrawny and awkward freshman in high school.

I had just made the basketball team after a nerve wracking three days of tryouts. Almost immediately on the first day of practice, I was bestowed the nickname “Birdie” by the older gals. It stuck like glue, and from then on—in all the sports I played—I was rarely called by my actual name. Some old friends still call me Birdie, and thus it became the inspiration behind my blog title.

I'm the pig-tailed one on the bottom right.

I’m the pig-tailed one on the bottom right.

Back in my high school days, the only place I really felt completely comfortable and like myself was on the court (and the softball field and the track). Being a three-sport athlete was how I matured in those years, and to this day I’m grateful for all the lessons I learned and friends I made along the way. No surprise— I still associate the “Birdie” name with all those experiences that built me up, helped me feel strong, and fueled my athletic endeavors. Birdie was my athletic alter-ego in a way; the person I became when I was given the chance to train and compete. I’ve carried this title into my current life as a runner (see: blog URL, header, twitter handle, etc.), and it’s become a happy reminder of the days when my ambitions as an athlete really started to blossom.

It is no wonder, then, why the cute clothes with birds on them first caught my eye in Seattle running stores. I soon discovered the brains behind the fabrics were a small, local group of women, operating under the all-too-appropriate name, Oiselle. As a former François student, I knew this meant “bird” in French—and was tickled by the triple-threat combo of the running, the French femininity, and the bird icon.

Being a Seattle runner, it didn’t take long before the internet (namely Twitter) connected the dots, and I quickly began to learn what this company was all about. That initial jolt of giddiness soon turned into an insane level of respect, admiration, and inspiration for all the great things this company was bringing to women’s running. Of course, the clothing speaks for itself; comfort, looks, performance, fit— it really has it all. I constantly find myself either “saving” my Oiselle clothes for long runs or key workouts (look good feel good, right?), or avoiding wearing my Oiselle gear as I love to wear it for everyday use. It’s a great problem to have and speaks to the expertise put into the design.

However, while fashion is all well and good, the thing that ultimately struck me about Oiselle was their advocacy for female runners. From the professional track stars to the novice age-groupers, Oiselle seemed to be rooting for women in all levels of running. Their passion helped me to recognize the potential in my own running—that it could be a sport, a lifestyle, and not just a “way to stay in shape.”

Running, to me, has become a means of building my external and internal strength as an athlete and as a woman. As it turned out, I discovered that this was exactly the ethos of Oiselle’s racing team— a group of women who support Oiselle’s  mission and subsequently represent all the goodness that exists in women’s running. I had to be a part of it.

Patience was necessary when I first expressed interest in being on the team. Not only were there several Seattle gals interested in Oiselle, but there were hundreds of runners all over the country vying for a spot themselves. Oiselle was intent on maintaining a sisterhood within their team, understandably, and while I was anxious to be a part of it all—I could respect that this camaraderie was imperative in Oiselle’s overall mission. I supported their mission, so how could I not support this decision?

So I waited, but my interest never waned. After a few nudges to try once more, I gave it another shot, and I’m so proud to announce that I am now one of the newest members of Oiselle’s Volée Racing Team!

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am about this opportunity. I’m honored and ecstatic for this development in my career as a runner, and it feels like the beginning of something very good. The idea of contributing to a team again—especially a team of such strong women and runners—is so exhilarating, and I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that this is exactly what I need. I intend to wholeheartedly represent the brand and it’s mission while reaching toward my own running goals, and I look forward to cheering on and learning from all the other incredible women involved.

I never really considered that, as an adult, I could feel like that same enthusiastic and motivated athlete that I did back in my Birdie days. I figured that those days of competition and being a part of a team were behind me, and I could silently play the part by being an amateur runner.

Suddenly, it feels like that first day of practice again. It’s exciting, humbling, a little scary, and perhaps more than anything—motivating. The Birdie has turned into a Bird, and it seems there are endless, open skies ahead.

photo

Volée!