Friday, December 3, 2010

Seattle Marathon

The Seattle Marathon turned 40 years old this year, something I have in common with the event.

"The Seattle Marathon began modestly in 1970 when a group of friends from the University of Washington decided to hold their own running event. 38 runners started the first annual event, with 31 of them completing the full 26.2 miles." Seattle Marathon Website

It had been a crazy week leading up to the marathon.  The Pacific Northwest was slammed with a winter storm Monday, November 22nd, leaving us with snow and ice on the roads and took away electricty for 3 days at our home.  Commute times that normally took 45 minutes had people stuck on the roads for 6 hours!  It was insane!

It just felt that cold!!!

Running outside was difficult with the ice on roads.  Thankfully I bought Sno-trax from Costco a month prior and used them to get 2 to 4 miles in daily that week.  It was slow-going but I was pleased to keep my running streak alive.

By Friday, the weather was relenting and the ice and snow melted and my SnoTrax were back on the shelf.  The Seattle Marathon Expo was on Friday and Saturday before the marathon.  I finished my easy run of 4 miles and headed to the expo.  I love going to Seattle since I live in a fairly small town, but I hate parking and sometimes worry about turning down a one-way street the wrong way. 

I entered the Westin Hotel and followed the crowd of nervous runners to the expo on the third floor.  Packet pick up was complete and I made my way through crowds to get my goodie bag and shirt.  It's funny to see people already wearing their Seattle shirts.  I've never been able to wear my shirt until after the race!  When I wear it, it's because I finished the race!

Super Jock N Jill, a local Running company with super informative staff, had a good sale on some running items.  I bought myself and my husband running pants and one pair of arm warmers.  I've never worn arm warmers but decided I'd give them a try.

Saturday night, I emptied my running drawers once again to find THE outfit.  Out came the tights, shorts, tanks, tech long sleeve, jacket, gloves, arm warmers, socks and hats.  I climbed into bed at 10:00 p.m. and waited for my alarm to sound at 5:00 a.m. 

Jeff was already up and getting ready to work when my "Oriental Sounds" alarm went off.  It is such a nice way to wake up as opposed to the obnoxious BEEP BEEP BEEP alarms. 

I felt nauseous all morning and forced myself to eat a piece of bread with peanut butter.  I held back the food after gagging on each bite.  26.2 miles is a long way to go and I've never done well with nothing for breakfast.  All runners have to experiment with what food works for them during races and some things I've learned about myself:  I must eat something, dairy doesn't settle well, oatmeal makes me burp, 2 cups of coffee gives me an acidic stomach, two pieces of bread with peanut butter is pushing the limits, and one piece with peanut butter is just right.  This is trial and error that all runners have to figure out for themselves.

6:20 a.m. and I finally made my way out of the house.  Late as usual but I had spent the night before combing google maps to find the best route and parking situation.  The traffic was minimal and I chose to take Alaskan Way to Mercer and avoid the exits closest to the Seattle Center.  It was super easy with light traffic as I entered Mercer.  My plan was to find street parking and if that didn't work, I would scarf up the money to pay for a lot near the stadium.  I did one loop of the neighborhood and chose a parking lot as the start time was drawing near and I needed time to get into a porta-potty.

As I stepped outside my car, the air felt cold but not icy and the skies were clear and the wind was non-existent.  I left my coat and long sleaves in the car along with my longer tights.  Today it would be a tank, arm warmers, a fleece hat to keep my ears warm, gloves, and shorts with a running skirt.  I needed to cover up the cheesecake from Thanksgiving!

As I jogged toward the start, I found a lone porta-potty and thanked the Lord for providing me with my own secret toilet.  Twenty minutes until the start and I found my running family.  I met Steve Walters who will be making the Yukon Do It! medals.  He also was completing his fourth marathon in four days to complete the Quadzilla that started on Thanksgiving.  There were other Marathon Maniacs loitering around, getting psyched to finish their 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th marathon of the weekend. 

My plan was to meet my friend, Beachbody mentor and Maniac buddy, Jessica Bienvenue at the start.  She was going for a 3:40 today and we planned to start together, each running our own race but if we ran together, that would be awesome.  I had no real time goal except to hopefully come in front of the Quadzillas!  Jessica had forgotten her timing chip at home and found a race official who saved the day by giving her a 1/2 marathon walk number and chip. 

She found me at the start, I helped her lace the velcro ankle band through her laces and we nervously waited for the countdown.  My Garmin waited until the last minute to locate...argh!

We're off and I can see Main Maniac Tony Phillipi up ahead.  I know he's faster than me but I tried and tried to catch him just to say hi.  No luck.  I lost sight of him sometime after the 2nd mile.  I think I took off too fast given my training.  The first mile had me at 6:44 which didn't seem possible. 

We entered the Tunnel at about mile 3.8 and lo and behold, Maniac Steve Walters passes me.  I tell him he's moving pretty fast for this being his fourth marathon of the weekend.  He says he's not sure how long he can keep it up.  He kept it up the entire race and finished in 3:23- that's a 7:44 average! 

We headed across the Mercer Island bridge and turned around which gave everyone a great view of all the runners and cheered on fellow Maniacs.  I was incognito today so I received a lot less "Go Maniac!" cheers.  As I neared the end of the bridge, another runner told me I was doing great and she had been trying to catch me for awhile.  We talked and what do you know?  She's from Port Orchard and her dad had put on a local race that ended a few years ago.  She was surprised I knew who she was...small world!  I knew her because of her running accolades and told her about the Yukon Marathon.  Her friend told her about it and hopefully she'll be running the half-marathon. 

I felt pretty comfortable running and until mile 9, most of my miles are under an 8:00 pace.  After that, all but three miles are in the 8+ minute range. 
I hit the half-way point at about 1:45 exactly, right at the 3:30 finish time pace.  I'm no fool and know what's coming my way so I accept that a 3:35 is more likely. 

Mile 14 and I heard a stampede of runners...the 3:30 group is roaring by and I attempted to keep step with them.  It didn't last very long. 

Around mile 16, I made a pit-stop and lost a couple of minutes.  During that time, Pedro, another Quadzilla had passed me and he ended up finishing in 3:31!  Absolutely amazing!

A young (20 years?) runner caught up with me about mile 17 and asked me what pace we were running.  This was her first marathon after having only done one half-marathon at a 10:30 average pace.  She was moving lightening fast in comparison.  She wanted to run together for a while and we did some math to figure out what she would need to run to get a 3:40 for a Boston qualifying time.  Her friend jumped in to run with her and at an aid station, she ran ahead while I slowed for gatorade.  I found her friend at mile 23 and he said she was still up ahead and doing great!  I think she must have BQ'd on her first marathon! 

Somewhere along Lake Washington Boulevard, I caught up with Jae-Byung Jung, another Maniac.  This was his only marathon of the weekend.  As we ran stride-for-stride, we both agreed that we had bonked, aka hit the wall.  Now if you don't know what this means:
BONK (running terminology): 

"hitting the wall"

The dreaded point (and awful feeling similar to what your body would feel like if you ran into a wall) during a race when your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and a feeling of fatigue engulfs you.

Example:  Your legs change molecular structure from muscle to lead, one of your lungs apparently has stopped working, and you are unable to figure out what mile you're in or what your finish time will be if you run 10 minute miles.

We talked a little but mostly were silent partners in our quest to finish.  Somewhere along the way, we arrived at 3:45 as an acceptable finishing time so long as we just kept up our easy pace.  Whether this was before or after a flash of pink ran by, I don't recall.  Maniac Robert Lopez ran by us so fast at mile 23 or 24 and went on to finish in 3:35...another Quadzilla runner.  As he passed, my mouth shouted, "You suck, Robert!" before I could stop it.  Now I meant it in good humor and he laughed like a mad man as he went on his way.  I'm pretty sure I wanted to say, "Wow!  Way to go, Robert!" 

Sometime around the pink flash, my right calf was tightening and warning me that if I dared to "toe-off", it would not be pretty.  Heel-toe, heel-toe.  This is definitely not an economical way of running but after suffering calf-cramps in the past, I would do anything to avoid them. 

We made it to the last mile!  Running down a hill was painful in my quads and I skipped the last aid station.  As we rounded a corner onto Mercer, I hear a very chirpy voice behind me telling me to "Let's go!"  Jessica!  I had 3:36 on my watch with maybe .3 to go.  She looked so strong and determined.  I tried to "go!" but my legs left their spring somewhere in Lake Washington.  She flew by me on the uphill and when I crested the top, I gave it everything I had.  The crowds on this last stretch are amazing! 

As I ran into the stadium, the soft turf under my feet and cheering all around me, suddenly I felt I could run fast!  I sprinted to the finish line and saw 3:40:09 and my watch read 3:39:54!  So Jessica got her qualifying time!  I saw Bill Barmore and Matt Hagen, Maniac volunteers at the finish.  Jessica was in front of me and she was crying happy tears. 

My parents were there too!  What a wonderful surprise!  Why is it you can run for so long and the moment you start walking, your legs go on strike? 

We made our way to the finisher's area and found our Maniac family telling their race stories and basking in the glow of finishing one or more marathons.

This year's Seattle Marathon is one of my slower marathons of the year but at the end, I was happy and loved having my friends to share in the experience but I missed seeing my husband at the end.

Next up is Pigtails Marathon on December 18th!


Past Seattle Marathon times:
  • 2002- 3:51:47
  • 2003- 3:47:20
  • 2004- 4:05:15
  • 2005- 3:42:25 (First Boston Qualifying Time!)
  • 2006- 3:50:39
  • 2007- 3:20:05
  • 2008- 3:29:12
  • 2009- Did not run
  • 2010:  3:39:53

Me, Jessica Bienvenue (Boston Qualifying Time) and Melissa Williams (Quadzilla)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trots, Trails and Trepidations!


Today is Thanksgiving, a day family gathers to stuff themselves with copious amounts of food, watch parades and football and find reasons to be thankful.  A select few will be starting their day with a local race before the festivities begin.

I had signed up for a local Turkey Trot 10k but have elected to stay home from the icy pavement.  We have had a storm blow through our region this past week, leaving most residents (including my family) without power for three days.  The news said that "most" in my county will have their electricity on by Thanksgiving dinner...which, of course, will not be much of a dinner without electricity to cook it.  Our power was restored about 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Snow run!
Currently it's 27 degrees, warmer than the 14 degrees it was the night before.  Snow and ice have blanketed the ground for the last 4 days.  I awoke today with all intentions of running the 10k.  So many of my friends are much braver than I.  Running on icy pavement has never been "fun" for me, even when surrounded by friends.  My muscles protest, my ankles turn, and my back screams every time I try to "catch" myself.  Make fun if you must.  I am a wimp.

Sunday is the Seattle Marathon and I have all intentions of going into this race without injury.  I will grab my husband, dogs, and head out on the trail this morning.  Will it be 6.2 miles?  Probably more like 2 miles.  My dogs are not used to running very far unless motivated by food.

My running this week has been d"icey"...3 miles, 2 miles, etc.  I bought SnoTrax from Costco, their version of Yaktrax, basically chains for shoes.  They have given me the ability to actually "run", even though my times have been fairly slow, 10-11 minute miles.  Without power, I couldn't use my treadmill (which I haven't been using anyway since it started shocking me a few months ago!).  I have kept my running streak alive despite circumstances.


I have been taking a couple of my soccer players on trail runs this past month.  These girls had never run on trails and loved the new adventure.  Since the wind and snow storm, our local trails are a mess, and that's saying it nicely.  We are known for our tall trees in the Northwest.  The tops of some of those trees are MUCH closer to the ground now. 

December 18, I will be running a trail marathon with a goal to finish. 


Now that we have power, I no longer have worries about how to cook food or flush the toilet! 

I am concerned about the Seattle Marathon since the weather has been so cold.  It looks like the snow/ice should mostly melt off the roadways by Sunday.  My "training" that wasn't aslo concerns me.  Hopefully I can attach myself with an invisible rope to some faster runners to keep me moving along.  My body feels ready to run a 4+ hour marathon and that is NOT good.  Every run, my muscles and lungs keep asking me, "Really?  Again??"  I keep telling them that they will thank me later.

The end of the year is fast approaching and as I have reviewed my marathons and goals I set at the beginning of 2010, I am coming up short.  I had "10 marathons" and 3000 miles for running goals.  Currently I have 6 marathons completed, plus 3 ultramarathons.  I still need 4 marathons, with Seattle and the December 18th trail marathon on the schedule.  That would give me 8.  I had another marathon on the schedule (Veteran's Day) but since I am an assistant soccer coach (and my daughter is on the team), I was unable to run it due to a soccer game conflict.  I needed one more to make 10 marathons if I had completed the Veteran's Day Marathon. 

I searched and searched, but there was nothing close enough.  With lack of funding, I need to choose local races to avoid overnight hotel stays along with higher registration fees.  There is a free race in Bellingham on December 31st Last Chance Marathon but that is too far away and I don't travel on days when people binge on alcohol. 

What was the solution?  Researching what qualifies for Maniac status as a marathon, I discovered that a marathon needs at least 5 starters and 3 finishers, a month of "advertising" and posted results.  I decided that I would put the question out on Facebook:  Do you want to run a marathon on December 31st in Port Orchard?  Simple, right? 

With the help of  Narrows Bridge Running Club, the Yukon Do It! Half and Full Marathon is set for December 31st in Port Orchard, Washington.  I am making my debut as a Race Director, a title I have never desired to acquire.  All the details seem to be coming together and all runners should be in for a real treat with a beautiful course.  I'm praying for decent weather after the crazy week we've had.

I must tell you my older daughter helped come up with the name.  The marathon course runs by Yukon Harbor and thus...Yukon Do It!  Some runner-up names?  Snowflake Shuffle and Frozen Assets Marathon. 

In the end, I hopefully will have 9 marathons, 3 ultramarathons and maybe 2900 miles.  The weather is adding to the difficulty in getting the full 3000 miles for the year.  I will choose to be thankful for every mile. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm a Streaker!


 In 2008, the Boston Marathon motivated me to train hard.  I wanted a fast time and followed the 70 miles or more per week schedule found in  Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger.  I hit the miles 90% or more of the time.  I was running seven days a week, opting to do a small run on the one day allowed for rest.

Reviewing my running log (you do keep one, don't you?), I realized I had run every day of the year and it was mid-February.  The race was in mid-April and I challenged myself to run every day until the marathon.

Somehow I managed to meet this goal, even attaining one week with 101 miles.  I finished the Boston Marathon with a 3:17:11, my marathon PR.  

What began as a challenge has turned into something of an obsession.  In 2008, I did run every day.  I had to do a Google search on what quantified as streaking...did a mile count?  How fast did I have to run?  I decided that one mile did count as a run and as long as it wasn't walking, it would count. 

In 2009, I missed five days of running.  The first day I missed my run, I was so sick.  After missing one day, it was easy to not run every day.  Work, weather, etc. made viable excuses. 

In 2010, I started my quest once again and have managed to run everyday.  Even after my 50 miles in April when my calf was screaming at me from the cramp the day before.  I think that was my shortest and slowest "run", squeaking in one mile at about a 13 minute pace.  I did the push off and got both feet in the air a centimeter or so. 

Will the streak continue?  Will I run every day this year?  That's my plan.  I know there's a possibility it won't happen and that's okay.  I know the streak will have to end someday.

Proverbs 16:9 (New International Version)

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Four Stars * * * * Part Two

Poulsbo Marathon     October 17, 2010     Race Start:  7:30 am

Sleep?  Who needs sleep?  That was my hope as I pulled myself off the bed at 4:45 a.m. Sunday morning before my alarm rang.  I tried to sleep, I really did, even pulling off the impressive act of turning out my lights by 8:37 p.m. the night before.

Yesterday I finished the Point Defiance 50k without injury and, after post-race food and a soak in the frigid waters of Puget Sound, drove straight to my daughter's soccer game.  Being a mom doesn't get put on hold because I decided to run a few miles.  Oh yeah, I'm also the assistant coach to her team so, you know, I should be there.

I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat with the soccer team, thankful that the sun was shining.  Actually I felt good considering my morning adventures.  Post-soccer game, I stopped for bake-at-home pizza for dinner.  No, this was not my healthiest nutrition weekend.  The rest of the day I took it easy and my legs overall were not complaining too much. Those stings were a nuisance, though, and after the achiness wore off, the itchiness began.  I scrambled to find Benadryl cream.

Lying in bed, I would just get comfortable and my legs would need to move.  Stretch out, bend, lie on side, lie on back, lie on other side, stretch - ooh! Cramp!  Bend, sit up...this is ridiculous!  I woke up at least every hour needing to change positions as my legs just didn't want to be still.  I had just the thing for them in the morning!

I went through the morning race rituals:
  • check the weather outside
  • drink coffee
  • force myself to eat something
  • make final decision on race clothing
  • garmin, watch, water, gu, ibuprofin, Ipod (only because it was such a small race and could get lonely)
  • jump up and down to test the legs...calves seemed a little twitchy
Ready or not, I needed to get moving.  Yesterday's hectic start kept me motivated to leave by 5:55 a.m.

Packet pickup was located at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, a five minute walk to the start.   Thankfully I arrived at 6:45 a.m., which allowed me plenty of time to get my bag, use the indoor bathroom and still have time to sit in my vehicle to warm up a little and locate my Garmin satellite.

I chose my Maniac Yellow tank and had pinned the Portland Marathon and Point Defiance 50k bibs on my back.   The morning was cool so I started off wearing my long sleeve MM shirt and later tied it around my waist.

The starting line was filled with anxious runners and I saw some other maniacs and familiar faces in the crowd.  One porta-potty in sight and I was so happy to not have a repeat of the Portland Marathon.

The first mile was a pleasant downhill though my legs were tight and my quads told me to slow down.  Once again the competitive spirit needed to take a back seat today as I let runners pass me.  Up ahead, a small crowd of runners circled a man on the side of the road as he stood.  He either had fallen or had a seizure or both...I still don't know.  He seemed okay as I passed and I knew with at least six runners with him, there was no point in me trying to help.

Lemolo Shore Drive greeted us with beautiful views of the water with seals and/or sea lions sunbathing on a deck off shore.  This was an easy flat section of the course and my legs didn't feel as if they'd run 31 miles the day before. 

Poulsbo Place in the Winter

Poulsbo Place on Parade

Historic Front Street
  We made our way to Front Street, a shopping district representing "Little Norway".  Soon we ran by a neighborhood of colorful houses called Poulsbo Place.

Fish Park Boardwalk
American Legion Park
We descened a hill down to Fish Park which was located behind an auto dealership.  This was a fun out and back section of trail and boardwalk.  We exited Fish Park on stairs and ran back up the hill to Front Street and turned into American Legion Park along the waterfront. 

Benjamin Chan, fellow Marathon Maniac, was just in front of me and I was able to catch up with him and we ran together until about mile 12.  He had also run Portland and Point Defiance 50k.  A proud new dad, he has found it difficult to get longer training runs in, mostly because he doesn't want to be away from his baby girl.  A fifth Maniac Star * * * * *  should be his by this Sunday. 

The 12th mile was fun for me as I encouraged a half-marathoner toward her first finish.   I continued on and found the road suddenly empty of people. 

The second half of the marathon challenged me not only with the distance but hills and solo running.   As I ran on Suquamish Way, incredible water views kept me occupied as I neared the next aid station.   It was such a relief to see REAL PEOPLE associated with the race.  The last aid station seemed like a hour ago.  I continued on and was faced with a steep hill exiting Suquamish and made my way up and up and up Columbia Street somewhere between miles 20 and 23.

The last aid station was about 3 miles from the finish and as I was leaving, I had to ask, "Am I the LAST runner?" because I had not seen anyone in miles and I could not remember if Benjamin was in front or behind me.  They smiled and told me that there were a lot of people behind me and I accepted it even though they could have been just trying to encourage me. 

I passed one runner, finally, about mile 24.  With two miles to go, my legs suddenly felt light and I'm pretty sure I smiled the entire way to the finish.  As I rounded a corner with less than half a mile to go, I gave a whoop to the enthusiastic volunteer as she cheered me on my way to the track. 

This feeling of accomplishing something that seemed so difficult is hard to describe.  As I entered the track and was sprinting for all I'm worth, my entire being seemed lit up from the inside.  The clock read 4:20 as I ran through the Finish Line, a time that normally would not find me smiling.   This day, however, it felt as if God's hand was lifting me up and sprinkling glittery happy dust all around me. 

The race director, Michelle Woodward, asked if I wanted my award now and I honestly was confused.  She informed me that I was the third woman and I asked, "Third in my age group?" and she said, "No, third woman overall."  Huh?  My response:  "With a 4:20???  Are you sure?"

She gave me a goodie bag as a prize and I wanted to know what the overall winner's time was so I read the board and saw that I was the fourth woman.  I let Michelle know that there must have been a mistake and returned the prize.

As I was eating a bagel, Michelle approached me and said that the other "woman" was really a man and I was INDEED third overall and first in my age group. 

Four Stars!
 I wasn't last.  I finished all my races, ran injury-free and found joy in the run.  What more could I have asked?  How about   FOUR STARS!

Poulsbo Marathon Garmin Details

Got safety pins?

Poulsbo Marathon goodies
Kitsap Sun Photo Gallery

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Four Stars* * * * Part One
Point Defiance 50k

October 16, 2010
Race start 8:00

My alarm sounded at 5:30 am and I tiptoed out of the bedroom so I wouldn’t wake up my husband. Today I am on my own. Jeff had offered to go with me but I felt guilty asking him to wait around for me for hours.

50k Breakfast

I stepped outside and found the weather cool but not freezing. I opted to wear a tank and long sleeve Maniac shirt layered with my Maniac coat and long tights over longer compression shorts.  And of course, I had to wear my Dirty Girl Gaiters
to keep junk out of my shoes.

Dirty Girl Gaiters
After checking and rechecking my gear, I took a deep breath and began the 30-40 minute drive to the race start.

I arrived at 7:40 and found the parking lot full! I finally found a spot on the main road. There would be no coming back to my vehicle or using it as a drop-bag location today. It took me 10 minutes to walk to the starting line, each minute drew my stomach into tighter knots.

My wonderful friend, Beverly, was already there and had her drop bag. I had to rush by her as I has seven minutes to get my number, use the porta-potty and hastily decide what layers to wear or not wear. I used the bathroom first as there was only one person in line and then proceeded to the check in table. Four minutes…I decided to go with the shorts and tank and tied my red shirt onto my drop bag and left it on a picnic table. I did keep my gloves on because my fingers are sensitive to cold.

One minute! I walked through the starting line and moved over to the side which went against every competitive fiber in my body. One aspect of this weekend I hadn’t considered was the mental side of holding back. Yes, I suppose I could have approached this weekend with a “racing” attitude, but realistically I knew that even if I did that, my times wouldn’t be fast enough to place and recovery would be a lot slower. I had to keep my end-goals in mind.


My Garmin 305 was located and we’re off! We begin each loop on a promenade/walkway along the waterfront and the cool wind is biting at my face.

Owen Beach- Start and Finish location

I set off conservatively. My friend, Beverly, is doing one loop and passed me with a smile. Turning right, we headed up stairs and ran cliff-side, the water on our right. I treaded lightly over roots and rocks, slowly gaining a rhythm that felt comfortable for a longer run.

My good running friend and motivator, Pedro, caught up with me and we ran step for step about three miles. A couple of steep drop offs surprised me and am very careful not to trip. I was feeling good and my pace had increased slightly and then suddenly a woman in front of me screams a little and slows.

What is happ…OUCH! What in the world?!? As I hobbled over to the side of the trail, I reached down to dislodge the needle that must be hooked into my ankle. Nothing. My ankle was screaming and Pedro stopped to see if I was okay. I got back on the trail, wincing in pain, and OUCH! Another bout of searing pain hits the back of my neck. My pace has slowed considerably as I work through the stinging sensation. Other runners informed me that there were wasps or bees in that area. Awesome. I get to go through there two more times.

I had hoped to run with Pedro at least through the first lap as his pace felt right for the distance and he wasn’t “racing” this one either. I was unable to stay with him after the wasp incident. During the loop, just when I thought the pain was somewhat bearable, the agony of the first moment I got stung would reoccur, like a ghost sting.

I passed the time talking with Patty McKerney, another Marathon Maniac. What an amazing woman! She has finished numerous Ironmans and is still smiling and looking for her next challenge. The loop presented runner with logs to jump over, low trees to sneak under (hope everyone was paying attention), and one cable strung across the trail. I walked over most logs and the cable. Today there would be no-risk taking.

Fort Nisqually

We were treated to beautiful views of the water and Narrows Bridge, amazing trails, and incredible volunteers throughout the course. The aid station at Fort Nisqually had music and the volunteers were amazing!

Finally nearing the end of the first loop, we encountered a trail so steep that there was a rope to hold on to as we made our way back down to the walkway. That was pretty fun but I wondered how my legs would handle that at 31 miles. I finished my first loop in 1:45. I was a little disappointed in my time but I reminded myself to keep the end-goal in mind.

I waved at Beverly near the food line (she finished in 1:38 and had a blast!) and started loop two. Kent Holder, friend and ultra runner at age 70, no less, was there to greet me. He did one loop today as he had another ultra planned for the following weekend. This guy is amazing!


I arrived at a trail section and was confused as I didn't see arrows, pink ribbons or solid lines indicating “do not cross or you will be obliterated into a thousand shards of glass” . Finally other runners saw me stranded and together we found the right path. I ran with military guy for a while who was prepping for longer distances, hoping to do a 50 mile to qualify for a 100 mile race. Most runners were concerned about the bees except for a lucky few who didn’t even know about them.

I made a couple of wrong turns but am corrected pretty quickly. My anxiety level was rising as I knew we were approaching the bee zone. OUCH!   I’ve been stung again on the same ankle! Military man took off in sprint ahead of me and I can only assume that he is doing a Fartlek and is NOT AFRAID of bees.

Throughout this loop I felt somewhat nauseas and a little discombobulated (what a great word!). I think over my nutrition and decided that was okay so maybe it was the bee stings bothering me.  My right ankle is achy but I work through it.  I thought I was stung three times but later discovered six marks, four of them on the same ankle. 

I ran comfortably and near the last part of the loop, Maniac Matt Hagen passes me. He had twisted ankle the previous day and was playing it by ear. He would go on to complete a 50k the next day. I let a group of guys get in front of me just before the rope section as I didn’t want to slow them.

The clock read 3:38 as I finished the second loop.

As I'm leaving, the men's 50k winner was crossing the finish line! Amazing! I had to stop at a bench along waterfront to apply Aquafor to my feet as I felt blisters forming. I chose to walk up steep stairs. Maniac Andy Fritz Andy Fritz is ahead of me and my goal is to finish this loop without injury.

I took special care near the cliff as I didn‘t want my death on Race Director, Tony Phillipi‘s, consciense.


I'm positive this is how Tony must have looked after taking care of the bees.

Tony Seabolt training to run faster than bees fly.
My concerns were tripping, blisters and bees. A volunteer has informed me that the bees have been taken care of and that relieves some anxiety. I found out later that there was a nest of bees in an old tree stump in that section. Tony Seabolt, awesome volunteer and a competetive runner himself who didn't run because of a hamstring issue (from running 1:20 half marathon in Portland!), eradicated the bees in superhero fashion. That is a funny story that Tony will have to share with you himself .

A family of raccoons sat in their lawn chairs while barbequing some opossum near mile 23...wait…what? Okay, there was a raccoon family. The rest of it was purely imagination to keep my mind entertained.
Fire up the grill, Rocky!

Blisters were hurting as my feet aren't used to the side to side motion of the trail but I was able to maintain an easy pace, walking steeper hills and slowing over obstacles.

About mile 27, I jogged down a descent and ahead I am sure I saw a black bear!  I continue down the trail, my heart beat faster as I approached the bear sighting area, turned right and looked left, only to see the "bear" attached to a leash. Black bear… Newfoundland dog...same thing after 27 miles of trail running.

Newfoundland "Bear"

Near the finish and I know the rope is close. A family is ahead of me with their little dog and I squeezed by them and continue on the trail only to discover a few minutes later that I missed my turn. I could see the finish line almost directly below me but I knew that it should be to my right from up above. Backtracking, I passed the family again and saw my turn. When they moved over for me, they were standing directly in front of my turn and that, my friend, is how easy it is to miss a turn on a trail run.

I carefully made my way down the rope and with trepidation, let go and begged my quads to not let me fall down to the final straightaway. I saw the finish line and "sprinted" (this term highly subjective right now) to the finish, crossing in 5:41:28. I'm happy to have finished in under 6 hours. Maniac Merita Tremovich was at the finish line, having finished over an hour ahead of me. She took 2nd place and is preparing to run a Quadzilla - four marathons in four days - in November.

Lori Hart handed me my finisher’s coffee mug with the race logo. I eagerly made my way to the food line and had the most delicious salmon ever! And then I begged for seconds and had a pulled pork sandwich. I sat in the sunshine at a picnic table and swapped war stories with the other runners who survived the first PD50k as I devoured the rest of my food.

Okay, it was time to gather up courage and stand in the cold waters of Puget Sound. Maniac Jenny McClure Appel was already in the water and I figured it would be easier to withstand the post-race soak with someone else. After four minutes, my legs were fairly numb so the rest of the time wasn't so bad.

I carefully made my way out of the water and gathered up all my stuff and began the long hike back up to my vehicle. The hill went on forever and I finally reached the top and relished in the fact that I completed the first of two races that would get me my four stars.
Point Defiance 50k schwag
Overall place: 31 out of 97

Division place: 3 out of 6

Gender place: 7 out of 27

Time: 5:41:28

Pace: 11:03

Lap 1: 1:45:15

Lap 2: 1:53:39

Lap 3: 2:02:3

Elevation Gain: 3,742 ft

Elevation Loss: 3,723 ft

Min Elevation: 12 ft

Max Elevation: 345 ft

Friday, October 15, 2010

Double Trouble!

Tomorrow I will be running the Point Defiance 50k trail run in Tacoma, Washington.  Six days after the Portland Marathon...and the day before the Poulsbo Marathon.  Yup.  Really.

Point Defiance 50k website

One of the many trails at Point Defiance

Poulsbo Marathon website

Poulsbo aka Little Norway

Fall colors overlooking Liberty Bay in Poulsbo
Some of my incredible friends would consider this a light warm up.  So if you think what I'm attempting is a little on the "has she lost her marbles?" side, there are people who I will not name that attempt far greater distances and time limits than I.

This will be my first Double, which in Marathon Maniac speak means two marathons (or longer) on two consecutive days.  By completing these two races, I will earn the coveted 4 spinny stars on my Marathon Maniac page.  Woo-hoo!

A cold has attempted to thwart my plans for the weekend, but I am determined not to let it stop me from finishing my quest.  It won't be pretty out there as my nose may be running faster than my feet.

I will update with a race report next week.  Until then, keep running and breaking down those self-imposed boundaries!

Add caption
No, I'm not sponsored by Brooks...just love the reminder :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Portland Marathon Madness

Portland Marathon Website

Have you seen this question on a shirt as you lined up for a recent race?  "It seemed like a good idea six months ago."  Yeah, that sums up my plan to run a fast Portland Marathon.

Pre-race: Driving along I5 with the rain beating down on the windshield, I had that dreaded feeling about blisters, chafing and being chilled to the bone.

On our way to Portland...will the rain let up for the race?
Arriving at our hotel in the Nob Hill District at 3:00 pm, we quickly checked in and hightailed it to the expo held at Portland’s Hilton in the heart of downtown. We drove through congested neighborhoods filled with boutique shops, coffee houses, and various corner restaurants. It’s a very cozy neighborhood and people seemed to be enjoying window shopping and stopping for coffee despite the downpour.

Driving in Portland was a little…tricky. Many intersections included more than 4 way-stops and would be excellent geometry questions. One-way streets are fairly common so you have to be mindful of which way you are turning. I managed to turn down a street into a BUS ONLY lane and freaked out only a little. Finally we raised the white flag and found a parking garage within a 10 minute walk to the hotel.

As we descended the non-moving escalator, I whispered to Jeff that it felt like we were cattle being herded to slaughter.   I was assigned to Corral A, right at the front of the race and realized maybe, perhaps, possibly I was a little optimistic about my finish time. I escaped the Expo only having spent $6 in Clif Shots and Gu.

Red Lizard Running RED LIZARD RUNNING had a booth set up for pacing information and I was forced to make a decision: if you can only choose one pace, do you pick the long-shot-but-you-really-want-it-pace or the more reasonable-you-have-a-fairly-good-chance-at-hitting-it-pace band? 3:15? 3:25? I carefully put the 3:15 band back and stuffed my 3:25 band away, feeling like I just sentenced myself to mediocrity. It’s not that 3:25 is slow but it is slower than what I wanted to accomplish.

Why do you mock me, Red Lizard Pace Band

We had elected to eat at The Olive Garden across the River for the Never Ending Pasta Bowl. $8.95 gets you any pasta, plus any sauce, as well as salad and bread sticks. All never-ending!  Two rounds of food later, we boxed up our leftovers and headed back to the hotel.

We squeezed into our swimming clothes and headed to the pool. We idled over to the spa and I was pleasantly surprised to see another Maniac, David Spooner, and his wife. They were trying to relax as their three children played in the pool. The water felt like hot coals and I let my legs soak while sweat dripped off my face. David was hoping to stay with the 3:15 group but he has had a rough year with his finishing times and was hoping for the best. This would be his first Portland Marathon.

I laid out everything the night before and still hadn't decided what I would wear.

New Lululemon outfit or Marathon Maniac?

Three alarms were set for 5:00 am and we managed to get the lights out about 10:00 pm.

Waking up at 4:59 (how does the body do that?), I stumbled to the bathroom and started the coffee. I dressed in my new Lululemon outfit and hoped it wasn't a mistake as I’ve never worn it on a long run. That would be a rookie mistake but I took the chance because it’s just so darn cute!

On your mark!

We left the hotel room at 6:15 instead of the planned 6:00 because I was hoping I could just use our bathroom instead of the porta-potty.  Wishful thinking.

Parking was a bear so we decided to go to the same parking garage from the day before. Of course on the drive to the start, my body has decided to rebel (as it does before every race) and I needed to get to the porta potties quickly.

Rain was endless and I was sporting a fashionable garbage bag to stay dry as long as possible. Temperature was 65 so at least it wasn’t cold.

Corral A loomed ahead and we made our way to the line for the porta-potties. It was 6:43...17 minutes to the start. Finally I was near the front of the line but we had already heard the National Anthem and they had just sent off the wheelchair racers at 6:59. I was two people back when the gun fired and I tried not to panic. I can’t ever recall missing the start of a marathon although I’ve cut it close a number of times. My Garmin watch wouldn’t locate its satellite so I stole Jeff’s watch and made my way to the start, almost 3 minutes after I should have been running.

As I carefully weaved my way through runners, trying to stay to the side and not cut off anyone, I passed the 3:45 pace group. I glanced at my pace band and saw that most of the first miles are around 7:47 pace so I focused on hitting that split. Frustration was building as I thought about the 3:30 group and I couldn't even see them. Drumbeats filled the air and my spirit soared as we ran by this amazing group of performers. The beat of the drums drove away some of my doubt, replacing it with joy and hope.

I was surprised to see Jeff along a straightaway filled with spectators. We headed out and faced our first hills. It wasn't too big of an incline and the first 6 miles went quickly as my pace was close to the 3:25 splits.

Have I mentioned the rain? The endless rain? I never felt cold because the temperature was mild. The major concerns were getting blisters, chafing, running through HUGE puddles, and my shoes feeling heavy. I squeaked through the race without any blisters or chafing and don’t ask me how that happened! I used Aquafor and rubbed stick deodorant all over as a precaution. Other races I’ve done that and still got blisters and chafing.

I was able to see some familiar faces on the out and back near mile 8 and finally got a look at the 3:10, 3:20, and finally the 3:30 pace group.  I guessed I was 2 minutes behind them at this point.  Gummi bears were being handed out and I only took some after seeing gloved hands reaching directly into the bags.  A girl asked why they were handing them out and I told her basically they were quick energy, sugar getting to your blood quickly.  This was her first marathon and she wasn't going to take ANYTHING until after the bridge around mile 18.  I don't think it was a good plan but she had her mind set and didn't want to try anything new.  I did grab a cup of "Liquid Gold" and had to spit it out after nearly choking.  Yuck.  It was honey?

Running in the Rain

I approached the stretch of road that is "no man's land" on this course, the miles leading up to St. John's Bridge.  It was on this road that my mind gave up on me.  It made excuses, promises and lies. 

My Brain:  "Hey stupid, what's the point of trying to run faster?   You're not going to PR.  Just relax...what were you thinking trying to make this a fast have a double next weekend so this is a good thing that you're going slower, you'll recover faster...did you see that old man just pass you?  Let's just make this a long training run..." 

Jennifer Hill and Justin Green of Hillsboro stopped at the 21-mile mark of the Portland Marathon just long enough to exchange vows and celebrate with a kiss. After a nine-minute ceremony, they ran off for the finish line  OREGONLIVE.COM
 I made one porta-potty stop around mile 15, but in the end, it may have only added one to two minutes to my finish time.  Approaching the bridge on the uphill, I was passed by a couple who were going to be married on the course.  They had a lot of great reasons to be running faster than I did at that moment. 

Miles 18 through 24 were filled with incredible crowd support, amazing volunteers and aid stations and runners showing signs of exhaustion and elation.  I seemed to be on cruise control and stayed in my comfort zone, lacking motivation to push harder.  I turned down the "free beer" offered at mile 21 and had attempted to smile for the camera near the 20 mile mark. 

Mile 24 and my spirts are improving.  I have resigned myself to finishing slower than most of my previous marathons this year.  I was able to encourage a few runners by reminding them that these miles are why we signed up...boy, I hope I didn't make them mad!

Crossing the Steele Bridge, a perky girl in a beanie hat was talking non-stop to another woman and talking her through every step.  She was definitely her pacer as we passed a volunteer and commented how she was sure the Race Nazis would pull her off the course.

Last mile and I give everything I have, wishing I had run with that oomph all the other miles.  I passed numerous runners and felt really strong at the finish.  Rounding the corner, I forgot, again, to look for the Fat Lady.  I have never seen the Fat Lady, I swear.  But I did see my amazing husband cheering for me!

3:39:46 gun time, 3:37:24 chip time.  I stumble through the chute, receive a half-marathon medal and thankfully another volunteer realized the mistake.  A sweet girl gave me a rose, and I made my way though the food aisle, grabbing whatever I could hold.  Finisher's shirt is in my hand and I wait in line to get my photo taken.  I finally make my way out of the runner's area and Jeff finds me like a sheep gone astray.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet because it's embarrasing to admit is this...I have been holding back tears since I saw the clock and received the wrong medal.  I know it's ridiculous. 

I saw my husband and fell apart.  Cried like a baby, if you must know.  Jeff asked, "Are you your back okay...are you sick?" and in my tiniest pathetic voice I whimpered, "I'm...hup....hup..sad..sniff...about my time...waaaa!" 

I know he did his best not to laugh at me.   We managed to get to the hotel and thankfully had a late checkout so I could shower and stop shivering.  I was happy to not have any chafing or blisters but, as my daughters would say, my toes looked "pickled".

We ate a healthy meal at Jack and The Box and began the long drive home.  As we were leaving, Jeff looked down on the road below and pointed out walkers and joggers still on the course about two miles from the finish.  That moment helped put my time into perspective. 

 We stopped at Costco on our way home and I indulged on a little post-race pity party and it tasted so good!  Yes, I DID eat the whole ice cream bar. 

Post Marathon Blues- must eat chocolate!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October Challenge!

Marathon Maniac Running Man Logo

You know how you "accidentally" do things?  Like for instance, you accidentally bump into someone, or you accidentally spill something?  October is kind of like that for me...I accidentally signed up for the Portland Marathon and Pt. Defiance 50k without thinking about them being one week apart.

This is a clue into my running psyche.  Normal people would take some time to look at a calendar before signing up for a race, ANY race.  Abnormal...Awesome people like me see a new local race on the calendar and sign up during early registration to save a few pennies.  Then we look at the calendar.

The Portland Marathon is a road race, and if you didn't know it already, it's 26.2 miles.  Yep, again.

The Pt. Defiance 50k Pt. Defiance 50k Website is 50 kilometers of trail running, not $50,000 in prize money.  That's 31 miles for us Americans. 

Am I intimidated?  If I think about it for more than a minute, yes.  So I try not to think about it all at once.  First I'll run Portland, and then I can start thinking about the next weekend, right?

 Many Marathon Maniacs run double and triple marathons over a weekend, and even a "Quadzilla" is in the works!  That would be four marathons in four days.  Other "ultra"marathon runners are out there for 12 -24 hours (and longer!), 50 miles, 100 miles, 150 get the picture.  As long as there is a road or a trail, we keep running and extending the boundaries. 

Just when I thought I had my October Challenge all set, another Marathon Maniac mentioned a marathon Poulsbo Marathon set for the 17th of October...the day after the Point Defiance 50k (again, not $50,000!).  

My brain began playing tricks on me telling me that if I did the trail and then the marathon, I could get 4 spinning stars!  Maniacs know this is your "rank" in the club.  It represents a level of marathons you have achieved in a certain amount of time.  The stars don't get me an award or financial gain.  It's status.  It's meaningful to the person who gets to see the stars illuminated on the computer monitor.  Two marathons in two days equals four stars.  DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MARATHON MANIAC? HERE'S THE SCOOP!

It seems that my challenge is all set!  Or is it? 

On August 7th, I finished the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon.  On September 26th, I finished the You Go Girl Half Marathon and was egged on (Thank you, Betsy!) about wearing a Marathon Maniac tank and not the Half-Fanatic shirt.  Okay...the Half-Fanatics are crazy about half marathons!  I am not a member...but if I can finish 3 half-marathons within 90 days, I could join the elusive club.  2 down...looking for number 3 before the end of October.  There are 2 available choices for me but both have reached their capacity of runners.  I am currently on both waiting lists.  I'm hoping the Salty's Half Marathon set for October 23rd opens up a slot for me as it is cheaper closer.   Salty's Half Marathon

One week from today will be Part One of my October Challenge!  Let the games begin!

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Go Girl Half Marathon

 Race Photos provided by Tony Seabolt

"Roberta" Martin aka Bullseye Bob Martin exiting the Limo in a fashionable pink skirt and long tresses.

Start of the half...I'm on the left, Bullseye Bob (1:35 pacer) and Karen Maples Leahy (Overall Masters Winner) representing the Half-Fanatics

Tried and failed at passing Lululemon girl in last 2 miles.  So close!

You Go Girl! Half Marathon Website

I signed up for this race as soon as registration opened.  Why?

  • First, any event directed by Tony Phillipi, Marathon Maniac #2 and Data Bar Events Head Boss Man (I'm not sure that's his EXACT title but it sounds a little Italian Mafia so I'll go with it) has been successful in the past.  He's a competitor and knows what we runners want in a race. 
  • Second, it's all women!  How cool is that?  I've never participated in a "ladies only" event (unless you call standing in a long line for the restroom an event). 
  • Third, this half marathon falls two weeks before the Portland Marathon and I was hoping to use it as a gauge to test my marathon fitness.  My goal was to get as close to 1:30 as possible.  A 1:30 finish is a good representation of a 3:10 marathon.  1:33 would get me closer to a 3:17-3:20.  These are the facts and don't ask me how I figured this out.
On Friday, September 24th, I arrived at the packet pickup and managed to get my goodie bag which included a duffel bag, hoodie, headband, plus my chip timing and bib number.

You Go Girl!  Goodie Bag

I missed seeing Tony Seabolt as he was hiding behind the curtain helping to put together the finisher's medals.

"Hey Tony P!  You want I should whack any course cutters or bandits?"  Tony Seabolt in action.

I ran 6 miles on Friday nice and easy.  Saturday, my daughter had soccer pictures and then a soccer game.  The pictures and game were 4.25 miles apart and I had one hour between the two so guess what I did...of course, I ran from the pictures to the game to keep my legs loose for Sunday. 

Saturday night I carefully planned my clothing options (okay, carefully may be a bit exaggerated) and was in bed by 10:30 pm.  We hoped to leave Sunday morning around 7:00.  I was fortunate to once again to have the start of the race less than an hour from home.

Race Morning and I am awake minutes before my alarm sounds at 6:00.  I choose to wear my Marathon Maniac tank even though it's a half-marathon.  Someday (maybe soon!) I'll get to sport the blue half-fanatic wear.  I'm not wearing my super-fast red hot racing shoes this time since my last race (Over the Narrows 10 Mile)  my shins were hurting for days.  Stepping outside, the air is mild but the rain is relentless.  Trees are calm so hopefully that is a good indicator that wind won't play a factor today.

Checklist:  Garmin, watch, second watch, bib number, chip on shoe, extra shoes, gloves, light running jacket, hat, aquafor, sweatshirt, sweatpants, towel, long sleeve running shirt, kitchen sink...done!  I am ready.

My husband, Jeff, has volunteered to be a course marshall and will meet Tony Seabolt at the start line by 8:00.  We arrive at 7:45 and I jog to the start about 3 blocks away.  I find an empty porta-potty - Score!   Women are everywhere and men are carrying purses.  I love it!

Jeff and Tony meet up, the bright orange vest hand-off is complete, and we head back to the SUV so I can drop off my coat and Jeff can drive to his volunteer spot near Wright Park around miles 3 and 4.

Arriving back at the starting area, I use the porta-potty one more time - this is the "better safe than sorry" bathroom stop.  I spy a covered area and retreat toward the back and out of the constant rain.  My back is achy today and I'm stretching in every imagineable way to relieve some of the stress. 

Pacers are introduced and Bullseye Bob has given quite a show in his blonde wig, pink skirt, pink trimmed shoes, and bright pink compression shorts with two bullseyes planted on his backside.  After the introductions, Bob quickly changes into his racing clothes as he feels "weird" in his outfit (much to the relief of his wife, Marci, who doesn't want a new chapter in their lives to begin with Bob ENJOYING cross-dressing).


10 minutes to the start and I find my way toward the 7:00 minute pace sign.  Most of the crowd is lingering around the 9:00 pace and further back.  The rain had been off and on during the hour since we arrived.  As the Star-Spangled Banner is sung, the heavens seem to open up.

One minute to the start, the crowd has pushed up to the line and we are drenched!   Temperature is mild today so I actually am enjoying the water running down my face.  Is that weird?

Here we go!  We head down Market Street and turn around after the one mile mark.   Turning back, I'm astounded at the mass of women running and cheering for other runners.  What an amazing group of women!  I'm trying to encourage others but mostly am just trying to breathe and keep my rhythm.

We approach Wright Park at mile 3 after an uphill and I'm greeted by my volunteer husband.  We enter the park and get to run on a gravel and dirt path and exit the same way we entered.  I high five my husband, Jeff and fly down the hill out of the park. 

I nearly miss a turn at mile 5 but do a little airplaine arm maneuver to recover.  Heading down to Dock Street and closing in on mile 6, I hear quick footsteps fast-approaching.  Karen Maples Leahy, who had been running with Bob Martin, made a decisive attempt to get past me.  I kept her even with me for a little while, but I knew my legs were rebelling.  I slowed down and she pulled ahead.  I would not be able to catch her until AFTER the race.   Miles 7 through 12 are flat and my mile splits don't reflect that fact.  My times should be in the low 7s but my leg turnover had slowed and I was running flat-footed.  Ugh.

At some point in the last couple of miles, I finally caught up to a girl who had the cutest outfit.  Should I REALLY be noticing these things when I'm racing?  I kept her even with me (I had to find out what brand clothing she was wearing...duh!  Lululemon, FYI) until that final ascent in the last half mile.  Bob had already caught up to me and passed me and was yelling at Karen and I to push harder and go for it!  As I crested the hill and began the gradual downhill to the finish, Bob slowed and allowed me to pass him in the final turn as we crossed the mat.  What a gentleman!   I saw Karen finish 10 seconds in front of me and the Lululemon outfit girl was about 4 seconds in front of me.

Bob's encouragement helped me to push a little harder at the end than was comfortable, but who says racing is comfortable?

I finished 8th overall out of 675.  The overall winner, Lori Buratto, is a master (40 years and over) and was taken out of the master's division.  Karen Maples Leahy was the first master and I followed her in to second place in the master's division. 

My splits:

1         6:57

2         6:50

3         7:35

4         7:50

5         6:40

6         6:50

7         7:09

8         7:17

9         7:18

10       7:25

11       7:29

12       7:42

13       7:23

.12        :40

I received a beautiful shell necklace for 2nd Master and was 11 seconds too slow to receive $100 in prize money.  Life is good.