Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Seattle Half Marathon

Hey guys! I didn't pass out on the side of the course or even have to walk (that much!).  On Sunday, December 1 myself, Meghan, Becky, Nicole, and Lindsay all ran the Seattle half marathon.  I have never run this race before but have heard great things about it and boy did it live up to all the hype.  It is a smaller (~7,000 half runners) very local race. I absolutely love that the winners of the half and full are always from around the Seattle area and that I saw so many people I knew along the course out supporting their favorite runners.  Many thanks to Robyn, Joyce, Holly and Mason, Meghan, and Sarah for coming out and cheering!

So...Sunday morning my alarm went off at 5:15AM so I could consume my regular breakfast of eggs and toast with a side of Nuun Kona Cola well before race time.  Leading up to this race all I was thinking was that this was probably a bad idea being severely undertrained and ran through every excuse in the book not to run...but I sucked it up even though the thought of sleeping in like someone else was very appealing:

The weather forecast called for 90% chance of rain and super windy conditions but the temps were in the mid-50s so I decided on shorts with compression socks, long sleeves, Ragnar Ambassador singlet, and Nuun hat to keep my head dry.  It was pouring when I went to sleep the night before but not ONE drop fell on our heads during the race...THANK YOU WEATHER GODS!

I drove over to Meghan's house and she drove us down to the Seattle center where we easily found free street parking blocks from the start, used the lovely indoors restrooms at QFC and made our way over to meet Becky and Lindsay near the start.  We stayed nice and warm inside a coffee shop literally a step away from the start line.

Becky and Lindsay
Becky and Lindsay left to find Nicole and Meghan and I snuck in the start corrals and lined up near the 2:15 pacer. The goal was to take the first half ridiculously slow since we were sooo undertrained and since most of the hills were in the second half.

It was a beautiful morning with the sun coming up, the Christmas lights still being on downtown, and NO RAIN! 

The running itself was pretty uneventful. Meghan and I kept a 10:15-10:20 pace for most of the first half just chatting along the way.  The course takes you straight down 5th avenue downtown and then you go into the I-90 express tunnels (so gross in there, hot, humid, sweaty...eww!) and then you travel north on Lake Washington Blvd.  We stopped there to use a public restroom and ended up running into Lindsay, Nicole and Nicole's friend Jordanne when we got out. We ran together for a little bit all taking a nice walk break on a huge hill leading up to Madison Ave.  

Nicole, Lindsay, Jordanne
Meghan and I kicked it up on the Madison hill and ran the rest of the way up it and then began our trek through the Arboretum. I found this part really fun actually...I liked the winding hills and beautiful scenery and shockingly at this point I was still feeling pretty strong.  My hips and IT bands were getting pretty tight and Meghan and I were doing much chatting at that point but we kept each other motivated by just being next to each other.  We both said we probably would have walked more if we weren't running with each other...yeah for running buddies!

After you exit the Arboretum you have a couple miles to go and you get wound around near I-5 and then make your way back to the Seattle Center via the South Lake Union area.  My legs were hurting at this point and actually started to go a bit numb and tingly but I just tried to ignore it knowing we had such a short distance to go.  According to Meghan's garmin we picked up the pace quite a bit at the end and we both sprinted past tons of finishers in the chute to finish in about 2 hours 15 minutes!

Meghan and I cruising to the finish (courtesy of @sarahchan215)
After you finish you are directly funneled into an indoor recovery area which is quite genius considering the temps for this race are usually much colder/rainier/snowier then they happened to be that morning.  My only very small complaint was that the recovery area with all the food/drinks and stuff for runners was open to the public and pretty crowded. I prefer a small are just for runners to gather post race fuel and then exit to meet up with friends and family.  We did find some chocolate milk and pretzels pretty fast so I was happy!  

Jordanne, Nicole, Lindsay, me, Becky, Meghan

Overall, such a fun course with great friends and Meghan and I both surprised ourselves with how well we did. I haven't ran a half marathon that slow since 2009 but I didn't care...I'm just going to call running 13.1 miles after not running that distance since Ragnar a win! 3 days post race and my legs aren't feeling too bad...a little stiff still but no extreme soreness or injuries to speak of.  

Many many thanks to Meghan for hoofing along next to me for the whole race and Jennifer who I bought my bib from!  Even though I've been a part of this awesome running/twitter/blogger community for a few years now I'm always surprised and thankful for how supportive everyone is and how much more fun I have at races now that I know so many people.  

Shout out to Nuun and Ragnar for being awesome companies I get the privilege of being an ambassador for and who have both helped broaden my running buddy community in ways I could have never imagined.  

So that's it for racing in 2013...the year of fun running and relay running for sure!  Looking forward to what 2014 has in store.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How NOT to Train for the Seattle Half Marathon

Just checking in to say HI in case this is my last post before I pass out on the course of the Seattle half marathon this weekend.  The only thing that has me excited for this race is the fact that my running buddies are as equally undertrained as me and we have already agreed to run/walk it for fun and just chat along the way.  Well except for Becky...she can't do any running "for fun" ;) and I'm sure she'll be waiting for at least an hour after she finishes for Meghan, Nicole and I to come hobbling across the finish line!

So how have I NOT been training for this race? Let me list the ways!

1. Not running more than 6 miles since Hood to Coast - that was back in AUGUST people!

2. Not running more than 1, 2 MAX days per week and always with friends <---my only preferred way to run these days.

Devin, Lauren, me, Becky, Rebecca!
3. Not really caring at this point! After my intense summer of running I needed the break and still do so I'm in no hurry to jump back into any sort of training plan right now and I'm totally ok with that.

I've actually been hitting the gym pretty hard for the past 10 weeks lifting weights so while I'm much stronger I haven't been keeping up with the cardio.  I will admit every time I have gone out for a 6 mile run with friends I feel really strong and even felt good during a super speedy session with the Nuun Megan's the other week so that is confidence boosting I suppose.

Me, Megan, Megan - I only ran fast to get to beer!

I'll be running this for fun, friends, and to rep my ambassadorships with Nuun (psst $20 4 packs with free shipping Friday through Monday, go get some!) and Ragnar! I got some super sweet Ragnar gear in the mail yesterday that I'll share in my race recap.

So if you see someone wearing Ragnar/Nuun gear struggling out on the Seattle course this weekend just know that I probably shouldn't be running and don't feel bad for me ;).

Have an amazing and safe Thanksgiving everyone!!

QUESTION: Who is racing this holiday weekend? Turkey trot? How I wish the half was just a trot!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Adventures of Spleen-less Stacey

Oh man, too long from the blog again...I do think of it often and how I want to post but then I just don't.  But I do have something to share, mostly because it is all over and I'm just insanely thankful that all is good again!

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen the countless Cone of Shame pics over the past week of my pup Stacey, but here is the story behind it:

To start I have to say that my 11 year old herding mutt, Stacey, is just about the healthiest dog out there. She has never had any diseases, injuries, or cause for me to when I left her with friends one weekend only to return to find out she had a very sudden moment of weakness I immediately knew something was very wrong.  After a quick ball throwing session with friends they were walking home and Stacey simply decided she could not go any further and laid down on the sidewalk.  My friend had to carry her home where she laid on the deck for hours.  She got better, gradually got energy and even ate and drank before I returned from my trip.  My friend urged me to take her to vet to get her checked out and I agreed 100%.  I should also note that I've been feeling a mass on her stomach for a little over 6 months now but didn't think too much of since she has little nodules and masses all over now...super common in older dogs.  

My normally very energetic hiking buddy!
The vet couldn't find anything still wrong with her when I brought her in but did feel the mass in her stomach that I did.  He immediately recommended an ultrasound to see where exactly it was and what is was attached to but that he suspected it was a splenic tumor.  I had never heard of this before but some quick google searches revealed how very common these were in dogs and many dogs were not so lucky and had their spleen rupture and die.  What probably happened during her walk was a slight bleed that was able to clot on it's own.  Another startling thing I read was that 50% of the time the tumors are cancerous and the cancer is so aggressive the dog usually has 3-6 months to live :(.

With all of these thoughts and findings swimming around in my head Stacey went in for her ultrasound and they confirmed what they already thought, she had a tumor on her spleen and the only cure is removal of the entire spleen.  They found NO other tumors on the ultrasound and deemed her an excellent candidate for surgery...a very major dog surgery I might add.  I tried and tried not to think about the fact that it could be cancerous and my time with her might be limited and just focused on the surgery and her recovery...I actually did a pretty good job at that.  

On November 6 I dropped Stacey off at my vet (very tearfully I might add) and waited by my cell phone to hear how the surgery went. A few hours later I heard surgery went great, she was already waking up and they didn't see any other tumors inside her while they were in there.  She did so well in recovery she came home a day early and even ran to me when I picked her up...even the vet techs were surprised by her energy 24 hours after surgery!

post surgery - 17 staples long...ouch! :(

The Cone of Shame adventures begin
She honestly recovered so much faster than I thought and a few days later she was really acting like her old self again. The best part? On Friday afternoon I received a call from my vet with the insanely GREAT news that her tumor came back BENIGN...NO CANCER! It was seriously the best news I've ever received before starting a weekend.  

Besides looking a bit skinnier, she was acting and looking like her old self more and more every day. And then I just couldn't stop myself from taking tons of Cone of Shame pics:

I mean, really...she is pretty cute without the cone but add that and the cuteness factor is multiplied by about 100 in my opinion.  12 days post op she went in to get her staples removed and despite her being insanely nervous and scared it was relatively painless and now she has a battle wound to prove what an ordeal she went through.

When she realized where we were going...

Healing up nicely!
I cannot express my gratitude to my vet clinic enough.  They have been so amazing through this whole experience...always answering all of my questions, being super sweet to Stacey and being all around awesome.  Having her spleen removed was the easiest decision and easiest money I've ever spent!  I'm hoping in a few weeks time I can get her running short distances with me again and that we can have a few more years of adventures together...unless she lives forever...which I assume she will ;). 

So that is what has been up in my world lately. I feel like I finally climbed out of a little stress cloud and can focus on the what is coming up for the rest of the year...thanksgiving with friends, Seattle Marathon, my mom's 60th birthday and Costa Rica for Christmas!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

So...That Running Thing

I'm sure you have all been just devastated by my lack of posts lately ;) and I do have a running confession to make...I haven't really been running at all since Hood to Coast.  I literally run maybe once a week and it is only because someone asks me to go running with them!  I haven't been sitting on my couch though, I've been pumping the iron in my gym pretty diligently for the last 7 weeks and I'm kind of loving it!  I'm a bigger fan of the way my body looks from lifting weights versus running, but I would like to find a nice balance between the two...anyone know of a plan for that?!

Despite my severe lack of running lately, I have some running related news to share with you all!

First and foremost, I was chosen as a new Ragnar Relay Ambassador!!  Shocking, I know...considering I brag about this relay and have run it the past 5 years in a row ;).  Well get ready for more bragging and promoting of this awesome relay series.  In similar news, Six Pack With Racks will be re-uniting next year and going for the Women's Ultra win this year...hehe...perhaps?  Rira is ditching us next year, but Nicole will be rounding out our 6 pack and I know she'll bring her A-ultra game!  I'll probably start running again before having to run 30+ miles in 32 hours.

Evidently I want to put myself through this again...something is wrong with me!
I listened in on a little ambassador training call last night and go super pumped for Ragnar Northwest Passage in 2014.  I would also love love to run another Ragnar next year (which one should I do!?) depending on vaca and money! Plus you all know Nuun is the official hydration sponsor of Ragnar so being an ambassador for the both of them is pretty much the perfect match ever for me and them ;).

I'm pretty sure NuunKOTB ignited Nuun's fire to be more involved in Ragnar, or at least I tell myself that ;)
In an effort to get slightly more motivated to run I signed up for two races to finish out 2013:

1. Purple Stride Puget Sound 5K for pancreatic cancer - THIS SUNDAY, November 3.  My neighbor asked me to join her team, the race is across the street from where I live, it raises money for pancreatic brainer.  I plan on running it as fast as my non-trained legs will let me, then doubling back to join my friend who will be walking it...should be a fun morning.

2. Seattle Half Marathon - December 1.  This is all facebook's fault :).  Fellow runner, Jennifer, posted on the King County Women's Runner page that she had a half bib to sell.  I inquired about the price (you know just curious) and she gave it to me for the sweet deal of $20! Couldn't pass that up. A whole mess of ladies are going to just jog this race for fun so I figure I can muster up enough training to not die during it and maybe even have a little fun.  I've actually never run this race but have heard so much about it (like the HILLS!) so I'm anxious to give it a go! Are you running??

My participation in last years Seattle Marathon - spectating with Starbucks
Oh and I'll be volunteering at this year's Mustache Dashe on November 16! The $45 price tag for a 5k was just WAY too steep for me so I figured I'll help out a little while cheering on my friends...come say HI to be, I'll be helping in registration/merchandise!

I'll be sportin these socks again for sure!
So, how do I intend to train for these events you ask? Well, I don't plan on doing much.  I'm going to continue with the lifting program I'm currently doing, throw in a short run or two during the week after lifting and just focus on a long run over the weekend. I can run 6 miles still no problem so I'm pretty confident I'll be able to ramp up from there and be fine before December 2.  Will I be running any PR's?  Not a chance, maybe that will be a good 2014 goal...??

QUESTION: Who is running/thinking about running Ragnar Northwest Passage? What do you need to know to convince you to form a team?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ragnar Northwest Passage vs. Hood to Coast

Thanks to Andrea for reminding me I was going to do a relay comparison post and for giving me something to actually blog about ;).  Nicole posted a comparison a while back and while I agree with some of her points, I think we come to a different conclusion.

Hood to Coast Website - 2014 lottery already closed and teams decided
Ragnar Northwest Passage Website - July 18-19, 2014 - registration OPEN!

This past summer I had the opportunity to run both the Ragnar Northwest Passage and Hood to Coast relays.  While they are both 200 mile point to point relays with 12 person teams (or 6 in the case of Ragnar for me this year) they really couldn't be more different!  Let's compare some of the major aspects of relays and how they differ between these two popular Northwest relays.  These opinions have NOTHING to do with the people I actually ran with...there is no comparing that...everyone was AMAZING and I've made lifelong friends at each race.

2013 Rangar Northwest Passage Six Pack With Racks
2013 Hood to Coast Van 1 - Team Lemonade for Nuun

Full disclosure, I have run Ragnar Northwest Passage 5 times now and Hood to Coast only once but I have spoken with HTC veterans and my experience seems pretty consistent with theirs of years past.


Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - if you want to see the beauty of Washington then this is the race for you.  With the very minor exception of running through some more city like areas most of this course is on country and mountain roads and it gorgeous from start (at Peace Arch State park at the US/Canadian border) to finish (southern end of Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound).

Pretty country-like roads
Ragnar also has amazing signage telling you exactly where to go and makes it almost impossible to get lost running or driving.  You are out in the middle of nowhere most of the time and driving alongside your runner 99% of the time.  There are always TONS of spots to pull over and support your runner.

I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe running Ragnar, even on night runs.  Being around other runners most of the time and seeing vans drive by every few minutes always put my mind at ease and I never felt like my safety was being compromised.  I have heard about incidents of drunk people getting of the bars and harassing runners but that is worst thing I've heard.

Hood to Coast - on the flip side, if you want to see the beauty of Oregon then this is the race for you.  It is pretty darn awesome starting at the top of Mt. Hood and ending at the beach in Seaside and I had the pleasure to literally run down Mt. Hood which was breathtaking! However, ALOT of the course is alongside pretty major roads or highways and most of van 2's first runs are on a trail with NO van support or anyway to see your runner.  I didn't like this aspect of it, but the mountain views, city views, and beach views helped make up for that a bit :).

Course markers were literally non-existent but they did have volunteers at every single turn you could make so that was helpful!  My runs were either no van support or short enough that I didn't have my van stop for me once which was kind of a bummer.  Most of the course is this way and traffic is so hectic at a lot of exchanges you need to get there ASAP just to get your next runner on the road.

My second HTC run was on a trail and then through downtown Portland along the waterfront. What should have been a nice peaceful beautiful run turned into me being pretty scared by some totally drugged out homeless dude.  The end of the run was in an industrial area of Portland and again I didn't feel very safe. Since the vans couldn't follow me on the trail or the waterfront path I had no way of feeling like someone was looking out for me.  I HIGHLY recommended to HTC that they have police on the waterfront next year to put runner's minds at ease.

VERDICT? Although both courses are pretty darn beautiful in their own way, I have to give the overall course to Ragnar with their awesome signage, plenty of opportunities for van support and no safety concerns.


Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - In the five years I've run this race I have love loved seeing team names and team costumes, it makes the whole experience so much more fun! One year the team Lord of the Ragnar ran in full on Lord of the Rings costumes for all their runs...impressive.  Another year the ultra team Risky Business ran all their miles in tighty whities and a business shirt! Other teams cheer you on and it is fun to become friends with teams running around your same pace.  I literally only made it up a monster hill last year because of another team cheering me on!

The volunteers have also always been pretty awesome and do a good job guiding you in and out of the exchanges.  Local teams are required to supply 3 volunteers for the race so this is always a very hard spot to fill but luckily friends and family have stepped up and they all report back enjoying every minute of it.

Hood to Coast - Obviously there are thousands more runners at this race to that automatically makes it excellent for people/costume watching but I got the vibe that teams take Hood to Coast WAY more seriously than Ragnar.  Not a bad thing, just an observation.  I did find it rather odd that other teams pretty much ignored other runners on the course.  Of course, Nuun Team Lemonade did NOT do this but we all found it strange others didn't join in our fun :(.

We powerarched for strangers too!
Oh man were the volunteers at Hood to Coast TOP NOTCH!  With thousands of runners they kept the exchanges organized and keep runners safe.  I don't know where they come from but they were  an excellent bunch. They also had volunteers at every single turn on the course which was a very welcome site in the middle of the night runs!

VERDICT? I would have to call it even on this one.  Runners and people who like to support runners are just awesome overall so I don't think you could go to a relay and not have a good experience with others!

3. MAJOR EXCHANGES (where van 1 changes with van 2)

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - I don't have a negative thing to say about the major exchanges at Ragnar. THEY.ARE.AWESOME.  Most of them are located at a school and you usually have access to the bathrooms/showers, sleeping areas and some sort of food for purchase.  One school even has a padded wrestling room to sleep in...heavenly!  There is honestly nothing better than washing your hands with soap and water after using hand sanitizer all day in port-o-potties.  No accidentally flashing your body parts to runners while trying to change in the van either!  The exchanges are always VERY easy to get in and out of with plenty of parking for all.

Jessey warming up indoors before her run.
Hood to Coast - Sorry HTC, this is where you really really fail (in my opinion).  All major exchanges were usually some grocery store parking lot of just some field in the middle of nowhere. There were NO indoor restrooms/showers/anywhere to change and sleeping indoors...?? NOPE.  The worst part...when we were driving to our next exchange to TRY and get a few hours of sleep we encountered a mile plus long line of vans trying to get into the exchange. Our 3 hours of sleep turned into 1.5 and our options included the van or on the grass.  There was ONE school at one of the minor exchanges that had bathrooms and a hot meal and we enjoyed every second being there but would have loved to warm up indoors a little longer at a major exchange.  There might not be any way around this based on the location of the course, but this part really turned me off...sorry HTC :(.
4AM traffic???

VERDICT? Pretty sure I don't need to spell this one out for you...Ragnar gets it hands down! Keep up the good work.


Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - Ragnar is obviously smaller than HTC and so are their start/finish areas.  The start is easy to navigate and they make a big deal out of announcing your team before the start.  Nothing exciting, but effective! The finish line area has an announcer, a band, some food, a beer garden and vendors.  Pretty small and honestly nothing too exciting but they give you a nice place to hang out and celebrate your accomplishment.  Since it ends on Whidbey Island most people don't stay there overnight so you have to take a ferry back to Seattle.  The line gets LONG because of all the runners and after running and being up for 24+ hours all you want to do is go home and sleep! I've never looked into staying on Whidbey Island for the night, but I think it might be spendy and hard to fine a place for an entire team.
Hood to Coast - Ok really know how to throw a party!  The start and finish areas were both so electric.  We found ourselves dancing on Mt. Hood and the beach from the music and the atmosphere.  The start was relatively easy considering how many people run this relay, BUT the finish is where HTC really takes the cake.  Of course, I was extremely lucky to stay right by the finish line (courtesy of Nuun), but I think most finishers stay in Seaside after running.  The beach is packed with vendors, a HUGE beer garden, and of course...THE OCEAN! We enjoyed tons of walking around time, put our toes in the ocean and enjoyed an awesome band and fireworks show in the evening...I never wanted it to end.


VERDICT? Hood to Coast takes this one.  Their finish line party takes full advantage of the awesome beach location and Seaside is the best place to spend a couple days post relay to hang out and enjoy!  The Oregon Coast in general is one of my most favorite places on earth so you should go there even if you don't run HTC!


Being 100% honest here I prefer Ragnar Northwest Passage over Hood to Coast.  Did I have the most amazing time at HTC this year? Absolutely! Would I organize my own team and try to run it in future years...probably not (but I'll jump onto anyone else's team...wink wink).  I really like the smaller, more laid back nature of Ragnar and I thoroughly enjoy being team captain and showing others the awesomeness of Ragnar.  If you are a running relay junkie you, without a doubt, should try to get on a HTC team once in your is the Mother of all Relays after all!  Did you enter the HTC lottery this year and not get in? DEFINITELY check out Northwest Passage. Don't live in the Pacific Northwest? Ragnar has road and trail relays ALL over the country.

I can assure you, the relay hangover you get from both of these relays will make you want to come back for more every single year!

QUESTION: Anyone get in the 2014 Hood to Coast relay? Who wants to run Northwest Passage?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Government Shutdown So I Played!

So, some of you probably figured out (via twitter and instagram) that I am a federal employee...big news huh ;).  Without going off on a political rant or anything (this ain't that kind of blog!) I will say I am thankful to FINALLY be back at work.  I will, however, not be thankful to any member of Congress for missing a deadline and shutting down the government even though they figured it out eventually.  I am super super lucky because I will actually get paid for Congress taking their sweet sweet time to actually pass a budget, but unfortunately there are MANY others that will not get paid lost wages for the past 16 days.

Just in case you are interested in reading about the impact of this shutdown on the economy (SPOILER: $24 BILLION LOST!) check out this article:

After sitting around the house for a couple days watching CNN like it was my job I finally decided to try and make the most of my time off and do something!  Because in reality, I will probably NEVER have this much time off in a row again before retirement (scary thought!).

Here is what I did with my unexpected free time in photo form...enjoy!

Celebrated the soon to be arrival of baby Ellie with my childhood friend Annie and my mom!
I got an iPhone and promptly took my first photo ;)

Went to the Seattle Aquarium with this cutie!
Did some hiking in Eastern Washington while visiting my parents
Watched the Sounders get their butts kicked :(

Went to the Seattle Symphony for the first time.

Hiked up to Tiger Mountain!

Babysat an adorable miniature pincher...much to the dismay of Stacey!

AND...on October 17 all things resumed in the real world and I went back to work.  It is good to be back!

And maybe now that I'm back to my normal routine I actually blog about promises :).

Question: Did the government shutdown affect any of you??

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2011 Chicago Marathon Memories

Ever since running my first, and so far only marathon, in 2011 I get all sorts of memories flooding back around this time of year.  Especially, since training for my marathon was the reason I started this blog! This Sunday, 40,000+ runners will toe the line at the 2013 Chicago Marathon and I know a good handful of them! I wish more than anything I could stuff myself in one of their suitcases and cheer them on but I'll have to settle for stalking them via runner tracking.

Mile 2ish
Are you running Chicago this weekend? You can get excited by reading my post from two years ago. It looked like the weather was going to be HOT and stormy but I just consulted and it looks a little more reasonable now in the 60's and cloudy, sounds perfect for some PR's and BQ's all around.

Totally in the zone here
Stacey, Katie and me after completely our 1st (and so far only!) marathon

And be sure to follow the Chicago ladies running this weekend including:
So sorry if I totally spaced someone running this weekend...good luck to everyone!

And sorry for the lack of posts lately...I do have some stuff to say so maybe I'll get my act together and put together something in the near future.  Until then, hope you all are having a great fall and enjoying all things pumpkin and fall marathon running!