Tag Archives: Seattle

Updates!

Once upon a time, I used to write on this little blog more often.

Hey folks! I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but somehow when I kicked up my feet after running Boston, blogging got kicked aside too. In its place came a lot of sleep, a lot of work, and a lot of food. I played the marathon recovery game oh-so-well, if I do say so myself. It was wonderful and it was necessary, and I’m really starting to appreciate the vegging-out period that comes with big races.

One last stolen photo. Running and smiling knowing that rest, sleep, and cake are on the other side.

One last stolen photo. Running and smiling knowing that rest, sleep, and food are on the other side.

Luckily, all that cake and sleep did a lot of good for my recovery, and I’m happy to say I’m back on the roads and feeling better than I have in a long time.

I thought it best, since my life has basically been a whirlwind of change recently, to provide some updates on just what’s going on in my life currently. Some might be super uninteresting, so feel free to skim, but this is what I’ve been up to lately (and why my blogging has been non-existent).

Work Update

Did I tell you all I got a new job? Like, three days after moving? It happened ridiculously fast and threw me for a bit of a loop, although I’m not going to complain about receiving quick employment.

See? I'm official!

See? I’m official!

Since I’ve settled in and no longer feel horrified every day of asking where everything is, I’m happy to say things are going really well in my work life. I’m super busy most of the time, but I really enjoy that. My days fly by, and I like feeling like I’m actually getting into a groove with my workload as opposed to merely dog-paddling through it.

I work exactly 7 minutes from where we live, which is also super convenient. Run-commuting perhaps in my future? I’m generally just really thankful to have found a job, that I really like, so soon and to not be relying on Adam for all my running-related purchasing (…and food and living and stuff, too).

Health Update

I’ve had some people ask me, so I thought I’d give the skinny on the current state of my intestines. And let’s get real, you all have been along for the Crohn’s ride for a while now— you’re used to it. 🙂

After Boston, my focus became to get my stomach and general health back in order. I had a bit of a set-back after we moved given the change in routine and general stress of it all (I’m guessing?), so it was time to get back to the doc.I found a GI in Denver that I liked enough, and once I gave her all the nitty-gritty about my shitty stomach’s history (puns and rhymes forever!), she came up with a course of action.

So, despite me telling her that previously steroids did nothing for my flare ups, she prescribed a small, tapering dose of Prednisone which she hopes will kick my regular medications back into gear. They were working before, so apparently there’s no reason they should have fallen off the wagon. I was hesitant, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Luckily, too, my charts all looked normal with the exception of higher inflammation levels – indicative of my current symptoms.

I’ve been on the ‘roids now for a week and despite some altered sleeping patterns, puffy cheeks, and emotional rollercoasters— I think they’re working. My stomach seems to be improving, and I’ve had two stop-free runs for the first time in months. Winner winner. I just hope that I’m able to seamlessly taper off the steroids and enter into a forward-moving health progression.

As always with these issues, we’ll see, but I have high hopes and fully believe that a positive outlook is directly related to increased healing power.

Running Update

Ah, running. You’ve been a fickle beast over the past 6 months.

I don’t need to recap all the complaining I’ve been doing since last November for you, but the short and long of it is that running had just been so hard. Honestly, since I was hurt and then sick, I could count on ONE hand the number of “good” runs I’d had…and it was getting to be so defeating. This thing that I loved so much and was so dedicated to had become such a chore and so frustrating. Running had never been as hard as it was for me, and between the constant emergency bathroom stops, the lingering IT band issues, and overall fatigue, I was wondered how I’d ever been (relatively) good at this sport.

Then something happened. I don’t know how or why, but within these past two weeks, my gears started to click again. My stride felt familiar, my legs felt strong, and running felt…good. Good! Like, really good. Certainly part of this has to do with the steroids and their impact on my stomach, but generally I think I’ve actually started to regain some of the fitness I once I had. My breathing no longer feels strained by the air, and I’ve found myself enjoying hills again rather than avoiding them.

I hadn’t been wearing a watch since I started running again after being sick, which I think was the only way I didn’t completely melt into sadness. But after being gifted with this beauty for my birthday (thanks fiancee!), I’ve started using the pace-awareness to keep myself a little more honest.

<3 <3 <3

❤ ❤ ❤

And it’s been great! I’m not keeping track every run, but I’ve found that with the numbers flashing at me, I’m held more accountable to not sink into my current easy pace and try pushing it a little.

Now, “pushing it” currently is equivalent to my former easy paces, but you have to start somewhere. And I’m thrilled to even be making a little bit of progress.

More than anything, I’m thrilled that—for at least the time being— running is starting to feel fun again.

Training and Racing Update

While I don’t have anything in the near future when it comes to big race plans, I certainly have a long-term outline of what my year will (ideally) look like.

I’m running Ragnar Northwest Passage again this year in July as an ultra team, so there will definitely need to be a step-up in terms of volume. I’m so excited to do this again! My base last year for this race was so much better than it currently is, so I’ll need to step it up in order to survive the 35+ miles of running in 24 hours.

Otherwise, I have very little on my calendar. Which I’m currently very comfortable with— because other than getting my numbers up for Ragnar, I want to make a very serious transition into reclaiming my former speed…and then some. I’ll write about this in another post, but after Boston (as in, a few hours after) a fire was lit…and it’s currently blazing. I love the feeling, I’m scared of the feeling, but I’m ready to get serious about the long-term running goals I’d like to achieve.

That said…I do have one more race on my calendar.

I’m registered for the Philadelphia Marathon in November, and after a summer of heat and speed training, I’m absurdly excited to take on an aggressive marathon training plan. I love fall marathons with all my heart, and my plan right now is to go all-in on this one.

But, that’s a long ways out. But, for the sake of this being a running blog, I figured I’d share.

And the best part….

Adam’s running it too!

Denver Update

We moved! Remember? I can’t believe that it’s been over two months since we left Seattle in our massive Uhaul.

Getting acquainted with his new home wonderfully. These windowsills are heaven for a curious kitten.

Getting acquainted with his new home wonderfully. These windowsills are heaven for a curious kitten.

Life in Colorado is generally going very well. It’s been great to see our families and old friends so often, and I’ve loved meeting new friends as well. Despite having lived in Colorado for most of my life, Denver still feels like a very new city and with that comes all the fun surprises and a general sense of novelty. The sun, the people, the atmosphere…it’s all very good.

Car picture, but look! Sunrise!

Car picture, but look! Sunrise!

I do have to admit, though, that I miss Seattle more than I expected. I suppose I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of how severing my Pacific Northwest ties would feel, but on the other side of it all…I have to say my heart is a little broken. I know this is perfectly reasonable given that Seattle was home for me for so long, but that doesn’t really make it any less sad to think about. I miss the water, I miss the people, I miss my favorite spots, and dear lord do I miss West Seattle.

We’re visiting in June and I’m euphoric with excitement.

That’s about all I’ve got in terms of updates! I’m hoping to write soon about my plan of action for getting my butt back in gear. I’m feeling good about it.

Happy Wednesday!

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Snohomish River Run Half-Marathon Race Recap

A lot of the time, you don’t really know who will show up on race day.

This is something I’ve learned time and time again, however I tend to forget how true it is until after I’ve finished a race.

Yesterday, I tried to keep it in the front of my mind from the get-go: It may not have been ideal race-preparedness, but that didn’t mean that big things couldn’t happen.

Backing up. Late Friday afternoon, I decided I wanted to try and run below 1:38. This would mean a PR, but in my mind it was more than that; I’ve felt a little stuck in the 1:38-1:41 range in the half-marathon, and I wanted to set the bar higher. It wasn’t going to be the best pre-race set up as I had a wedding to attend on race eve—which I was fully intent on enjoying as much as possible. But, I didn’t want to use that as an excuse for not trying hard at a race I’d been anticipating for a while. So, I didn’t even let myself have the out, and instead just went with it.

Of course, as always, the will to run well can only go so far—which is why when I prepped for the race on Sunday morning, I kept in mind the above mentality that anyone can show up on race day, and all I could do was the best with what the day gave.

Hotel room selfie. Oiselle jersey, Flyte shorts, arm warmers, and Brooks Pure Connects.

Hotel room selfie. Oiselle jersey, Flyte shorts, arm warmers, and Brooks Pure Connects.

So, I showered (new race day routine must-do!), ate a little, hydrated a lot, and attempted to psych myself up. We had stayed in Everett after the wedding as the race was only about 5 minutes away from the guest-designated hotel, so ease of transportation and convenience was definitely on my side. The weather, however, was not.

I opened the curtains of our hotel room after being 100% ready to go and was greeted with the disheartening sight of huge puddles that were filling by the minute from the incessant rain. It had been so long since we had real rainfall in Seattle (somehow) that I hadn’t even considered it could be an issue on race day. It was also still dark and cold, so needless to say…my gun-ho attitude was waning on the drive to the start line.

However, the show must go on, and after retrieving my bib and chip, I did some warm up drills and tried to get in the zone. There were more people doing this race than I’d anticipated, which helped fuel the pre-race energy. Before I knew it, we were all lining up just as the rain subsided a bit. Score! I saw two teammates at the start line as well, Caryn and Erica, who went on to finish as 2nd and 3rd women overall. No big deal, right? After the race director gave some course instructions and wished everyone good luck, we were off!

All I knew about the course was that it was flat, but otherwise I was a little blind in terms of what to expect. It became obvious pretty quick that we were in for a pretty lengthy out-and-back for the majority of the race, which was a little disheartening, but I tried to not think about it. I do like seeing runners pass on the other side, so this would be a plus. Additionally, we were on the course with the 10k runners who had started at a different time, so there were people around pretty consistently.

Flatty flat flat. I don't know what that was...sorry.

Flatty flat flat. I don’t know what that was…sorry.

For the first 3 miles or so, I tried to stick to the loose “plan” I’d put together. I figured if I started off around 7:30s, I could gradually drop down and still have some left for a kick at the end. Not exactly what happened, but not too far off:

Mile 1: 7:19

Mile 2: 7:28 (my attempt to get back to the plan)

Mile 3: 7:20

Eh, okay, a little fast, but I felt in control and that’s what I tried to focus on the most. I was a little oblivious to everything else aside from keeping myself “comfortably uncomfortable.” Once I get below a 7:30 pace, there are very narrow ranges for what feels okay and what feels like too much, so I paid a lot of attention to keeping tabs on my perceived effort.

I was trying to think of the whole endeavor as a 10-mile race followed by a 5k; keep it steady and controlled for 10 miles, and expect it to hurt in the last 3 miles. In this respect, I was very focused on staying in the mile and letting each individual mile be its own mini effort. It seemed to work, and despite being quicker than I’d planned…I was somehow staying incredibly consistent.

Mile 4: 7:22

Mile 5: 7:24

The course was quite flat as expected and wound along a small county highway. It was pretty, but a tad boring, and I was really glad to get to the turnaround around mile 4.7. At this point, I noticed there was a man about a stride and a half behind me, and he stayed either right there or next to me all the way back to the start of the out-and-back. It was incredibly helpful to share the pace with someone. I was running a little scared since I was running so much faster than I’m used to, and even the smallest mental reprieve of matching someone else’s pace was pretty clutch. I think I would have started hurting a lot earlier if it hadn’t been for the tall dude in the all-black compression clothing. Thank you, sir.

Mile 6: 7:16

Mile 7: 7:18

I ripped open a gel around mile 7, and slowly sucked it down for the next few miles. I also started taking water every ~1.5 miles or so, and I think maintaining this consistency was a big help. I was also starting to hurt around this point, too. My legs were getting a little toasty, and the increased pace was burning my lungs a little. It had also started to rain again, which coupled with a small headwind wasn’t making things better. However, I was able to maintain my “stay in the mile” mentality, and as long as I focused on each individual mile—I was able to push the fears of bonking to the back of my mind.

Mile 8: 7:21

Mile 9: 7:16

Tall man and I seemed to be picking it up at the very end of each mile, as we’d be between 7:20-7:25 throughout the mile and then drop in the final .1 or so. But I went with it. I could always feel it when we dropped below 7:20 (crazy just how noticeable it was), but I’d tell myself, “Okay, the next one can be 7:25,” and it somehow was a mental save.

Mile 10: 7:15

Tall man pulled ahead around this point, and we were passing back by the starting area and heading down to a paved path along the river. This is where I think my real mental battle began: It was time for those final 3 miles that I knew would hurt, and it was just me, alone. Since I was near-ish the front, we had all thinned out just enough that you felt like you were running alone, and it didn’t help that the winding river path obscured any forward looking. It was beautiful though, and I welcomed the change of scenery.

This portion was also an out-and-back, and it was a definite fight to get to the turnaround point. The most defeating part was when I saw the “Mile 11” marker when my watch read “11.2” No!!! The mile markers had been so accurate throughout the course, and it was so saddening to not only think I’d have to run further than I thought…but that I’d be logging another long half-marathon course.

Mile 11: 7:13

But, I kept on, and finally the turnaround point appeared. I’d been able to see the top runners coming back by the other way, and I thought I was probably within the top 10 females. There were two women about 100 yards or so ahead of me, but for the first time maybe ever in a race…I didn’t really care. I was already giving everything I had, and I was completely content letting that be enough.

Mile 12: 7:20

I was thrilled when the mile 12 marker appeared right on schedule with my Garmin, and the thought of “only a mile let to go” was so relieving. I was so excited to finish and anxious to see what my finish time would be…because not once during the entire race did I have the energy to try and compute it myself.

Mile 13: 7:21

I was closing in on the girl immediately ahead of me in the last 1/4 mile, but there wasn’t much more I could do at that point. Even my “kick” wasn’t much more than the pace I’d already been maintaining. Regardless, I was elated to see the finish line come into view, and I dug deep into the dregs of energy I had left and strode my way as best I could to the end.

Last .1: 54 seconds (6:43 pace)

There's a smile on that face!

There’s a smile on that face!

I saw the clock ahead reading “1:36:xx” and I was ecstatic. I figured I’d be below 1:38, but this was better than I could have hoped for.

Smiling big, I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and saw a “1:36:14” flash back.

photo 22

Official time: 1:36:11, 9th female overall (<– lucky number alert!), 2nd in age group

How did that happen?!

I was in pretty immediate need of my space blanket and water (and my medal, duh 🙂 ) and gingerly made my way to the finishing chute exit. Despite the plethora of post-race food (hot soup, cheese samples, bagels, etc) I couldn’t even think about getting anything down. I did manage to grab a bowl for BF though, who’d been dutifully waiting in the rain for me to finish.

I wanted at least one photo of the pretty river we'd been running along.

I wanted at least one photo of the pretty river we’d been running along.

After a little bit of meandering, I wanted to skedaddle back to Seattle as soon as possible. There were football games to watch after all! I also felt ridiculously wiped; the kind of fatigue that normally only comes after a sleepless night. Needless to say, you can probably guess how the rest of the day played out 🙂

I’m really, really happy with how this race went. I was glad I was able to stay composed and strong despite the intimidating speeds, and I’m satisfied with the consistent pace—probably the most consistent I’ve ever done. Primarily, it felt great to break through the threshold I’d been dancing around for a while. No, the time isn’t the 1:35:xx I’ve been lusting after, but I can honestly say I left nothing out on the course…which in no way can I be disappointed about. This race gives me the motivation that with a little more time, more training, and more practice, there are big things to come.

No running blogger has ever posted this type of picture ever. But look! Consistency!

No running blogger has ever posted this type of picture ever. But look! Consistency!

Running is a fascinating sport, and it was races like yesterday that keep me wanting to discover the mysteries of running even more.

photo 3

I’m tempted to say that this is the end of my racing season for the year, but who really knows. For right now though, I’ll be hibernating for a little while, and I’m definitely looking forward to some rest time.

Thanks all for the good luck texts, tweets, and notes. Your encouragement is invaluable. 

 

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!

Go Time, Ragnar Northwest Passage

It’s finally here, Ragnar!

I’ve wanted to do a relay ever since I started hearing about them last year, and I’m actually kind of excited that my first will be an ultra. Go big or go home, right? I suppose if I ever do a 12-man team, I’m going to be thinking…wait, that’s it?

I’m really, really excited for this. I love the idea of taking on a whole new kind of challenge/adventure…especially since it involves running! As someone who loves new experiences and equally loves to run, this is right up my alley—and I truly can’t wait.

In case you’re just tuning in, here’s the dirty details:

A team of 6 of us will be tag-team running nearly 200 miles starting tomorrow morning and ending on Saturday afternoon. Yes, that’s straight through the night running. And you thought running a marathon was crazy? 😉

The thing I’m most excited for though is hanging out with a bunch of awesome gals. I don’t especially know anyone very well, which makes it that much more fun. And there will be plenty of time for conversation, given the 10 hour gaps between runs.

We’re starting tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, and since I’m Runner 6…well, I’ll basically be chilling all day until my first run. Despite the fact that I’ll probably be feeling a little restless tomorrow afternoon, I’m actually pretty pumped about my projected running schedule. Here’s what my (projected) run times and distances will look like:

Run #1, 6:30 PM- 10.7 miles

My first run is near Burlington, and it starts on a long downhill, followed by flat-as-a-pancake terrain. Lovely. I’m also thinking that temperatures will be cooling a little bit around this point as the sun will start to set. I have a feeling I’m going to be itching to get out on this run given that I will have been in the van all day, so I’m hoping that translates into happy running.

Run #2, 4:30 AM- 15.4 miles

At first glance, this looks kind of brutal. And it probably will be, but it’s actually a perfect time to have a long run. It will be cool, the sun will be rising (pretty scenery!), and I already get up to run at this time of the day during the week anyway. Obviously that will be different given the lack of sleep that is inevitable, however at least I’m not too phased by the 4 o’clock hour.

This run is hilly, but not too daunting. It’s also on Whidbey Island, which I’ve heard is quite the spectacle to run on. I’m really excited for this run, needless to say, including the challenge of it. Teammates, it is certain that I will need to be reminded of this when the time comes 🙂

Run #3, 3:30 PM- 8.5 miles (aka: the last leg for our team!)

It’s going to take some patience to get to this run. Everyone will be thrilled to be finishing while I’m twiddling my thumbs, waiting to carry in the caboose. But, it will definitely be fun to finish things up for the team. Oh, and there’s a ton of climbing on this leg…thanks Ragnar.

And team, be warned, despite how tired I’ll be, I tend to gun it when I see a finish line…so there’s a chance I’ll make us all sprint for it 🙂

Are you tired yet thinking about this? Me too.

But I’m SO excited! We’ll be sure to post updates along the way via Twitter, Instagram and #sixpackrack. Oh, and our team name is Six Pack with a Rack. I have neither of those things…but you get it. I can certainly supply a six pack of microbrews at the end, so hopefully that will count.

Let’s do this!

See Jane Run Half-Marathon Race Recap

Never before in my running career (except in high school) have I raced as much as I have this summer. It was 100% unintentional, but somehow I have found myself at several start lines (with more to come…). It helped that two of these races were free. Actually who am I kidding…that’s more or less the reason I’ve done so many. But free or not, I love racing, and I’m really happy to get the chance to do more of it.

As I wrote in my last post, I like to have intentions behind my races—even if those intentions have nothing to do with time. So with the See Jane Run half-marathon on Sunday, I definitely had some “guidelines.” Including (roughly):

1) Save your energy—conservative start

2) Fast finish

3) Make it hurt (a little)

I’m really trying to use the chance to race in the heat to my advantage, despite how much I dislike it. I’m 100% a cold weather racer, always have been, and I have always felt defeated a little when the temperatures rise and my speed and energy decline. But, I’m trying to turn this into a positive and hopefully by doing the hot work now, it will make the cooler temps all the more luxurious.

So let’s get this race recap started already, shall we?

Pre-race mirror selfie + dirty room.

Pre-race mirror selfie + dirty room.

I did something I have never done before a half before this race—I warmed up. Not far—just a little half mile jog with a couple of strides to get my legs warm and my turnover going. I was a little wary of not storing all my energy, but I actually really liked this and I started the race feeling more ready to go than usual.

After said warm-up, I scuttled my way to the first corral and right at 8 am, we were off.

I immediately felt really happy to be racing a half on such a beautiful day with a bunch of runner gals. Despite how competitive I am (which would be proven later on), there was something great about racing among a (primarily) all-female group. There’s this unspoken sisterhood between ladies who run, and I could definitely feel it crossing the start line on Sunday.

Moving onto the nitty gritty:

Miles 1 and 2:

7:39, 7:40

Well, my “guideline” number 1 was kind of blown, but I figured that this would just make guideline number 2 even tougher and thus make guideline number 3 a success. I couldn’t help starting this way—I felt so good! But eventually, once reality settled in, I dialed it back a bit and focused on getting into a groove.

Miles 3 and 4:

7:48, 7:44

The beginning miles of this race are all along Lake Union and the canal, so there was a lot of shade and a nice breeze. It was very comfortable running, and once the crowds thinned a little I really felt in a groove. There was an out-and-back after mile 3 or so, and I quickly realized that the mile markers were very off. I verified this when I heard some gals around me comparing their own measurements, but I figured it would all settle itself eventually.

Miles 5, 6 and 7:

7:45, 7:50, 8:10

These are the miles where a half-marathon starts to get more real for me—kind of like miles 14-18 of a marathon. The middle miles. The miles you forget about until you’re in them and you realize you’ve already run for an hour or so but you still have the harder stuff left. Luckily, I was still feeling good—a little hot, but luckily we were still reasonably shaded. I was also having a grand ole time targeting and leap-frogging with other runners. I knew I was in the top 30 or so women, meaning that it was safe to assume that everyone around me was down for some racing. I definitely noticed a little sass between runners during this race, especially when I would pass someone— but in a good competition kind of way. Anyway, it made it fun and offered some distraction. Around mile 7 I felt like I was primarily passing people as opposed to getting passed, which gave me some hope that all my goals going into this race weren’t lost. Around mile 7 was the dreaded “super steep” hill on the course. It was definitely steep and slowed me down, but it wasn’t awful.

Miles 8, 9, and 10:

8:10, 7:42, 7:53

This is where the only hills in this race were, but they didn’t bother me too much. With every uphill comes a downhill, and as much as the uphills can drain my energy, I always gain momentum on the way back down. We passed back by Gasworks and the finish line on the way to the final out-and-back, which was a little deflating, however I was prepared for it and didn’t actually mind as much as I anticipated.

I should also note that the mile markers were still off, and I was pretty certain around this point that the course would end up short. Kind of a bummer, although ultimately we would all be running the same distance. Good thing I wasn’t going for a personal best, but this seems like something that should definitely be fixed next year.

I was getting warmer and my stomach started to squirm a little around mile 10. Heat does this too me—especially if my fuel isn’t sitting properly (which it wasn’t). I tried sucking on a Honey Stinger gel packet around 8.5, and despite my best efforts it wasn’t going to happen. I need to get better at fueling somehow.

Nearing mile 11, I was dreading my self-proclaimed “fast finish,” but I was also excited to try and gut it out with a few of the girls around me. This part was also exciting because we were able to see the lead ladies coming back by us, and the first gal (who was crushing everyone) was SO YOUNG. I think she may have been 14-16 years old? Ridiculous. I gave her an obligatory, “You go girl,” as she sprinted by me.

Miles 11, 12, “13”

7:52, 7:31, 6:17 (final .86 mile)

I was happy I was able to punch it up a little in the end. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel completely depleted. It was right where I wanted to be—a little pain, but not all out. The final mile was fun as we entered back in Gasworks with lots of people watching and a nice final path to run down. About 200 meters from the finish line, I was around 1:39:30, and I did all I could to keep that 1:39 on the clock. It was probably the fastest sprint I’ve ever done at the end of a race. Seeing BF and high-fiving him right before crossing the end was fun too 🙂

My watch read 1:40:06 when I finally finished, which was too bad, but since I was sure the course measurement was wrong anyway, it didn’t matter too much. Also, duh, this wasn’t a goal race, so I was mainly just happy to be done and to have (mostly) accomplished what I wanted to.

Half-marathon number #8, check!

The finishing area was fun, with lots of samples and not enough hands to hold it all. My stomach was still waging war, so after one failed attempt at a donut hole I had to refuse all the other goodies. I felt better after two bottles of water, but I just don’t think my system will ever get used to racing in warmer temps.

It’s all part of the training though. And this race was exactly what I wanted in terms of race practice and getting into a manageable pain place.

Oh and I started wearing sunglasses when I run. LOVE.

Oh and I started wearing sunglasses when I run. LOVE.

Final results:

Time: 1:40:08

Overall: 26/975

Age Group: 6/171 <— homegirls are FAST! The next closest girl to me ran a 1:34.

Pace: 7:38 (if the course was 13.1, if it was 12.86 like I clocked, pace was 7:47)

Overall, I was happy with this race. It felt challenging but not too hard, and while the thought of averaging a pace 30 seconds faster than this in just over two months is still horrifying, I’m thankful for the opportunity to practice racing the distance.

I also know there’s lots of time before Bellingham, and I have some strategies up my sleeve to help my 1:35 goal become a reality. More to follow later on. See Jane Run will, however, more than likely be my last half before that goal race, which I’m hoping will help to kindle some necessary race-day fire.

Special thanks to RoseRunner for my entry to this race!

And now…let’s run some ultra relays!

Did you run See Jane Run? How did it go??

The Races Are Coming, The Races Are Coming!

Happy Friday!

We are officially one week away from Ragnar NWP, and I’m actually getting really excited!

I didn’t really mean for that to sound like I’m surprised, but I suppose I’ve just been feeling a little more daunted by the idea than jazzed for it. Part of that stems from the fact that I’ve never done a relay before, so while I know all the hearsay about how awesome they are—I don’t really have a good concept of what to expect.

All that seems to be going away, though. Now that the final details are getting sorted and we have an established start time, drivers, runs times, etc., it’s all becoming more real and super exciting!

I’ve accepted that there really isn’t a “right” way to prepare for an ultra relay, and I feel like I’ve done everything I could have. I’ve also accepted that it’s going to be hard, no matter what, but it’s the hard aspect that makes the whole experience memorable.

Plus, my team is pretty awesome, and I’m excited to hang out with these ladies for over 24 straight hours 🙂

Team Six Pack with a Rack

(in running order, because why not, right?)

Bethany

Lauren

Rebecca

Jessey

Rira

ME

We’ve got a great mix of personalities, experience, ages, and all with one big thing in common: a lot of run love. I can’t wait!

But, there’s business to tend to before Ragnar. And so continues my summer of endless activity and racing…

This Sunday, I’ll be running the See Jane Run half-marathon as my final long training run for Ragnar.

I have had this race on my radar for a while, and luckily won an entry to it, but I’m finding myself a little lost when it comes to my approach to it.

Full discretion: I am physically incapable of “fun running” a race. I don’t always all-out race, but even in cases where I don’t have an A-goal, I still like to have a race plan or some sort of structure as to how I’ll try and run. Racing is a really important part of running for me, and I like to try and take it seriously whenever the opportunity presents itself. Even if the opportunity is to practice pacing, practice racing, or practice going slow.

Back to See Jane Run. I’m in a weird limbo between wanting to work hard and wanting to hold back. This will not be an all-out effort, as I’m saving that energy for my actual A-race this fall, but I still want to try and practice racing a half.

So, although I’m not entirely sure of my exact plan, I know I do want to practice finishing strong. I have never really had the opportunity to tap into stored energy for a great finishing kick at the end of a race (seeing as I normally go out too fast). So, I’d like to give this approach a try. I suppose it will be a practice in patience more than anything else and trying to hold back in the beginning so I can let it rip in the last 2 miles or so.

I’m trying really hard to not let the races I run now affect my confidence for attempting a 1:35 in a few months. Slowly I’m getting it into my head that it’s a BIG goal, and just because I’m not ready now doesn’t mean I won’t be ready then. So, I’m going to try my best to not let numbers on Sunday take away from the experience. I’ll be happy with a solid effort and enough juice left to start building the energy and excitement necessary for some Ragnar miles.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Who’s running See Jane Run this weekend? Who’s racing? Who’s doing something summery/outdoorsy/exciting?

Saying Yes to the Shorts Tan

I think most of us can agree that July has already turned out to be pretty spectacular in the Pacific Northwest. The sun has been shining amply, and the heat has stuck to a reasonable, summery level.

Sorry, rest of the country…

In all the years I’ve spent in the area, I can’t really remember there being a more beautiful summer – and I’m trying to do everything I can to take advantage of it.

In running terms, you can’t get much better than June-August. Sure, I personally prefer winter/fall running, but the freedom to run without rain (mostly) and with so much extra daylight is hard to beat. The heat makes us stronger too, and really, who doesn’t love a good sweat-soaked run?

However, there is one part of summer running that has haunted me for years, and which sticks around much longer than the lemonade stands and barbecue smells:

Shorts tans

Oh that beautiful ombre fade, we meet again. I’m pretty certain that through all my years of playing sports and being a runner, I’ve never fully gotten rid of the discoloration between the top and bottom of my quads. No matter the sunscreen or the time that passes, I seem to have a chronic and noticeable shorts tan for all months of the year. And it all stems from the summer months, when the passing of time is shown through the darkening of my lower thighs, and subsequent whitening of my upper thighs.

Now, ordinarily, I’ve sort of bemoaned the shorts tan. Not that anyone consistently sees the full effects, but it’s still a little embarrassing to wear a swimsuit and look like you’re wearing a pair of white shorts.

But not this year.

After probably 15 years of fighting a losing battle with the shorts tan, I’m not only waving my white flag – I’m switching camps. This year, I’m embracing the shorts tan as a stamp of summer; a “running tattoo” that will remind me of all the time I got to spend outdoors, enjoying both the weather and the run. It’s kind of silly that it’s taken me this long to really embrace it, especially considering I wear a swimsuit less than 10 times a year, but I suppose it just required a change in perspective.

And don’t worry, I’m all about sun safety, but we all know that no matter the precaution, summer running comes with some inevitable UVs. And given that somehow my quads tend to soak up more sun than any other part of my body, I seem to have no choice but to give into it. Also, when you only really wear the same style of shorts (Rogas), the ability to really fortify a specific line between white and tan is really heightened.

Bring on the tan lines, because it’s time to rename the farmer’s tan. The runner’s tan is where it’s at this summer, and personally I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity to show my devotion to this endeavor.

Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll share the final product come the end of summer, but I’m guessing not too many people want to see that…

And not to brag you guys, but it’s already something truly special.

So long live the shorts tan! May it be forever a sign of embracing the outdoors, embracing the run, and embracing all the potential our bodies give us.

Who’s with me??