While I don’t normally do “resolutions” (and if I do, I usually do them at the begging of the “Celtic” New year at Samhain in early November), I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb and look forward to 2015 being a new and awesome year.
2014 seems to have been a year filled with more challenge, tragedy, illness, death and trauma for just about everyone I know than any years in recent memory. (as I write this, one of you is in surgery having a large, rare and malignant tumor removed from around your iliac vein and artery and another also with cancer is planning your own memorial)
Without offering up platitudes which those who are still struggling/grieving may not appreciate, I will just say that for me, that pesky phoenix metaphor holds true. While just about every area of my life went up in flames (all at once) last year and it seemed overwhelming for a time, it is allowing me a fresh start on a lot of levels.
I enter 2015 in a much better place career wise-I love my job and have benefits again. Small business, which contributes to society in a meaningful way seems to be my sweet spot between working for a soulless corporation for benefits and working for a non-profit with no competent leadership and no benefits.
While I’m pretty sure the debacle with the scummy mortgage servicer took a year or so off of my life, I ended up in a better position in a modified mortgage which has left me with a 1.25% decrease in interest rate and a 25% decrease in monthly payment.
While I very much appreciate (you’ll never how much that meant to me) those of you who offered to help, it was something I needed to do on my own and the end result was much better than if I had accepted help and tried to deal with the status quo. It also helped me learn to navigate a corrupt system that is designed to victimize hard working people and reward the worst of the worst 1%. I am using that knowledge to write a guide to help others who are in the same situation. I have already been able to use my experience to advise others.
I extricated myself from a “relationship” which made me feel bad about myself every single day (and Yikes! Did I ever wait far too long). While I still have work to do on myself and my habit of putting my own wants/needs/self-esteem aside in favor of others’ I feel that I am stronger for it and can only hope that moving forward, I am able to make healthier choices for myself.
So yeah, I’m still decompressing from it all, but looking forward, things look pretty darn good. I managed to “rise from the ashes” once again and sooner or later the scent of singed tail feathers will dissipate.
I plan on filling my life with more friendship, love, hiking, cycling, running, backpacking, music, art and dance.
I wish all of you a happy, healthy, 2015!
I put together my annual year end slide show, which those of you not on Facebook haven’t seen yet.
It just goes to show you that 2014 had a lot of high points despite the challenges, and most of them involved you, my friends and chosen family (a lot of you are in it)
I’m still waiting on proofs from the book; I ordered a bit too close to the holiday rush. I will let you know as soon as they are ready.
New Years Eve – First Night!
Don’t forget First Night on New Year’s eve. The forecast is for clear and no snow so once the indoor venues close at 11:30 and everyone moves to the square for our fiery countdown to midnight, it will be comfortable (if you’re dressed warmly, unlike we performers)
My fire siren friends and I will be in the parade with our LED toys as well as in the fire spectacle at midnight. It’s going to be awesome this year!
An article on first night was just posted in last Friday’s Trib
In place of my annual Black Friday rant about corporate greed, bad behavior and misplaced priorities, which now extends to Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to take a more positive route and talk about why I, and many others feel so strongly about this holiday.
While we all know that the story we were taught in school about the friendly pilgrims and indigenous peoples isn’t how the first Thanksgiving really went down, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth celebrating.
OK, this clip from the Addams Family movie isn’t accurate either, it’s hilarious and I just love to watch it every year.
All kidding aside, the ideas behind Thanksgiving, gratitude and sharing are pretty darn awesome.
Oh yeah… and FOOD! Who doesn’t like food?
But what about that first thanksgiving and should we really be playing into it?
When asked if she considers Thanksgiving a positive thing, she replied, “As a concept, a heartfelt Thanksgiving is very important to me as a person. It’s important that we give thanks. For me, it’s a state of being. You want to live in a state of thanksgiving, meaning that you use the creativity that the Creator gave you. You use your talents. You find out what those are and you cultivate them and that gives thanks in action.“
And yes, she celebrates it.
Thanksgiving, unlike less secular holidays doesn’t bring up a bunch of religious debate. There’s no “war on Thanksgiving” (see comments from a descendant of those who were there above) there’s no requirement to go into debt and spend stupid amounts of money on items people don’t need in order to impress the neighbors.
We all eat, and sharing a meal makes it even better. Thanksgiving meals need not be expensive. If you like traditional fare, turkey is actually pretty cheap as are the side dishes. (and if you’re against turkey genocide, there’s tofurkey)
The focus on family, friends and gratitude it what draws me to this holiday.
It is far too easy to get caught up in the sadness, stress and challenges of our daily lives and the world beyond.
It is far too easy to forget what is good in our lives.
It is far too easy to forget to tell people how much they mean to us.
Thanksgiving is a chance to remember and celebrate the good.
We all have our own memories of the Thanksgivings we celebrated growing up. Oddly enough, in the dysfunctional house I grew up in, holidays were actually happy and not stressful unlike most of the rest of the year.
Thanksgiving in the early 70’s involved laying around after eating too much and watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. (you millennials can google that if you need to) It also involved me getting a few sips of champagne and getting yelled at for putting the olives on my fingers. I remember learning how to make the lead crystal glasses “sing” by dipping my finger in water and running it along the rim. I have those glasses (I still stick olives on my fingers too)
To this day, it still involves tuning in to a local radio station at noon to listen to Alice’s Restaurant.
and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without revisiting the now classic WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkey Drop”
As we grow older, move away from or lose our families, we begin to create our own traditions.
An increasingly popular trend is “Friendsgiving” either before, after or on the actual date. I have hosted my “Day After Thanksgiving Feast/Anti Black Friday Protest” for the last twelve years. I love doing it on Friday so more people can come. It also gives me the day of to “party hop” at other people’s events.
It is a commonly held belief that the expression of gratitude can boost one’s mood and outlook on life. That’s a good thing, especially up here in the cold, dark Pacific Northwest where seasonal affective disorder begins to manifest at this time of year.
For me, cooking a meal and sharing it with friends and chosen family is a show of gratitude for them being in my life, it’s a small way to give back. It’s a positive, happy thing; don’t we all need a bit more of that in our lives?
My plan to make my triumphant return to the Seattle Marathon, ten years later didn’t happen.
Seattle was my first full marathon. I ran it to celebrate turning 40 as well as the five year anniversary of learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.
Little did I know when I signed up that it was a bad first marathon; the combination of almost the entire course being joint pounding concrete (versus asphalt which believe it or not is much easier on the body) the hills, the worst of which come in the 2nd have of the race when glycogen stores are depleted, legs are wobbly and lactic acid is built up and foul weather (snow, ice, rain, freezing rain, sleet, hail, frigid wind whipped waves crashing over the I-90 floating bridge) make this one of the most difficult marathons in the country (even the Kenyans don’t generally run it)
Since that first painful marathon, I have done two other fulls, and have returned to the Seattle to do the half many times over the last ten years (it’s a hard half, but lovely and fun) but have avoided doing it as a full for the sake of avoiding injury.
Despite that, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 50, not having cancer and taking huge risks to rebuild my life back to the way I wanted it than returning to the “scene of the crime” ten years later to run the full again (the pain/memory does fade eventually)
A combination of injury taking me off training and not being able to take time off work to prep and rest made it impossible for me to consider it without risking serious injury, so I decided to bag it. I might have tried to waddle an easier course like Portland or Victoria, but not this course. (DNS = Did Not Start = Did Nothing Stupid)
Then my friend Lynne who was also off training for various reasons decided to go ahead and do the half marathon as a walk/run without pushing. I told her I’d do it with her. Then my friend Julie who was getting ready to sell her registration because she hadn’t been training, decided to join us for a fun day of acting silly and hanging out with our running friends.
This was perhaps the best weather I’ve had for a Seattle Marathon (full or half) in the ten years I’ve been doing these. No snow, ice, freezing rain, hail, sleet or icy crashing waves. Yes, it was cold, but quite bearable.
very Unlike in 2006 when Knut and I stood in the snow, shivering in black trashbags at the start…
Since it was going to be more walking than running, Julie and I decided to go in costume. Seriously, there are just not enough good opportunities for grown women to wear tutus and tiaras, so we create our own.
In our colorful costumes, including a pink wig for Julie and my green/black “green fairy” wig, we hit the streets of downtown Seattle for some no stress, no injury fun.
This is the first race where I had absolutely no worries about time. I didn’t care, I was just there to see friends and have fun. I’m lucky I was with folks who wanted/need to walk part of it, as I would have pushed myself too hard had I been alone (that’s how I ended up injured in the first place)
When we saw the traffic control folks holding the sign that said “SLOW” we knew it was the perfect photo op for us so we stopped.
Kevin put his bike in his truck and drove us down the hill from Julie’s house to drop us off at the start line. He was going to go for a nice long ride, but decided to hang with us on the parts of the course he could get away with riding on and take photos for us.
Here’s a shot of me getting a shot of Kevin getting a shot of us…
When we were on the express lanes of I-90, the marathon runners caught up to us. Julie was like a cheerleader on speed yelling and cheering them on as they went past.
I had been lamenting about not bringing a fleece vest and instead having a really uncomfortable, non breathable jacket, when there it was… sitting on the Jersey barrier along the interstate express lanes, a nice windblock fleece vest, in a color that matched my outfit no less (runners often bring old or thrift store sweatshirts/jackets/vests to start out in and then ditch when they get warmed up. Julie picked it up and said, “Do you want it?” I asked her what size it was, certain that it would be an extra large (I can’t stand wearing stuff that flops around when I’m running or biking) and lo and behold, it was an X-Small L.L. Bean windblock vest, and a perfect fit. SCORE!
By the time we got down to the lake and up to Leschi Beach we couldn’t feel our fingers (and my tushie was freezing as well) so we stopped off at Starbucks (how typical Seattle was this move eh?) We had lots of fun chatting up the cyclists that were in there, getting caffeinated and warming up. This whole not running for time thing was pretty fun.
It was beautiful down on mist shrouded Lake Washington, very reminiscent of the way to Avalon. As a lone kayaked paddled by through the mists, I wonder what he was thinking when he saw two tutu and tiara clad women running past. “We are the fairies of the lake!” I shouted. At least no one tired to hand him a sword 😉
All lovely runs along the lake must end as we approached my (and pretty much everyone else’s) “huckleberry” frikking Galer St.
For those not from here this area was carved by glaciers and volcanoes; there is no flat ground and many of the hills are crazy steep.
Galer is a brutal, vomit worthy hill that comes at the worst possible point in the course for physical performance/recovery. I have always hated that hill which turns more runners into walkers than not. (note, I’ve never walked it, but have slowed way down and felt like crap)
Julie had already been running the downhills, which my injured hip and hamstring were not going to tolerate, so I decided that the best way to stay together was to run the uphills, starting with this, my nemesis. The hill I hate more than just about any hill anywhere else (yes, even worse than biking up the 25th St hill in Tacoma)
So there I was, in my tutu and tiara, yelling, “I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!”
Off I went, full speed ahead, no break in stride, no giving into the angry quads, burning lungs (frigid air and fireplace smoke don’t help) up that hill passing people right and left to the sound of cheers from bystanders until I was to the top where I turned around defiantly and soaked it all in. Yes, I’d made Galer my bitch (whilst dressed like a fairy princess).
Lynne said as the crowd at the bottom was watching me attack this thing, one woman turned to her and said, “Wow, she was really angry.” Lynne had fun with that one for the rest of the day.
The arboretum was another opportunity to stretch out my legs and get some actual running in. My favorite part of this course is running across the top of Interlaken Drive
Is this not a gorgeous marathon course?
as if the road its self wasn’t stunning, check out the view…
As we came down the other side, downtown came into view (for those who are not local, the Space Needle is at the Seattle Center where the race ends, so the goal is to head towards it)
At the last water stop before the drop downtown, I got a nice surprise hug from my Tacoma Runners friend Doug who was working the water stop.
an amazing thing happened as we headed back down the other side… the SUN came out (seriously folks, this is BIG news up here in November)
We had a warm, sunny finish at Memorial Stadium (which I am so glad has not been torn down yet, the marathon finish will never be the same once it is)
Just after this photo was taken by Kevin, we had to sprint the rest of the way across the field to hit the actual finish line. We may not have been running this for time, but by golly, you make a show with a big sprint to the finish for the crowds. It was a bit like being in a parade as everyone loved the costumes so Julie and I were doing our prom queen waves for the crowds.
Then, I saw her…
About 100 yards before the finish, Lynne decided to open up the throttle, and was gone like a shot. “OH HELL NO!” I yelled and sprinted after her as hard as I could, catching her just as we crossed the final timing mat together. I’m sure that was a hilarious sight in the tutu. I can’t wait to see those photos.
We all got our shiny things and I got the best thing I ever spent money on, a sports recovery massage. Then we headed back up to Queen Anne and enjoyed some well deserved pizza and beer.
On Sunday, I ran my last race in the 45-49 age group and Carmel raced her first 10K where she didn’t do a run walk combo, she ran the whole way!
They had a “pack run” (a mini dawg dash) here in Tacoma, but they didn’t offer a 10K option, so we left Tacoma at 0′ Dark Ugly to get up there to find parking (always a “joy” in the U District) and pick up our packets. There’s nothing worse than rushing at the last minute so we got there early and relaxed at a local coffee shop (heat and indoor plumbing are big wins on race morning)
Just for fun, we decided to take our photo before we got all sweaty and gross…
*note for those who are not local, “Dawgs” are the nickname for the University of Washington Huskies; this race is part of UW’s homecoming celebration.
The race started on Memorial Way on the upper campus and the post dash bash was in Red Square. UW does have a truly beautiful campus.
It was super cold at the start (41 degrees) so it was a challenge to stay warm.
I started dancing around to the music and found myself with a dancer partner. He had some hot moves.
It was a super slow start due to the sheer volume of runners on the typically narrow Seattle streets. Since I was still recovering from a 15 mile long run, had been pushing super hard, had not had a rest day in a week and needed to run ten more miles that day for a total of 16, I decided to take it easy. (not like I had a choice at that point) but it sure would have been nice to break an hour for the first time since all the mom dying, house buying, medical and surgery stuff took me “out of the running” over three years ago.
At one point on the course I saw a woman who appeared to be about ten years older than me and thought to myself, “Look at her go! I’ll be back here doing this again when I’m turning 60.” She was tall and fit, had a long silver pony tail and was dressed just like me down to the running shoes. I was tempted to ask her how old she was, but didn’t know how that would be received, so I didn’t.
We ran up through Ravenna Park, on the Burke Gilman Trail and then headed back to campus to the the circuitous loop that comprised the 5K race.
When we got to the fountain the UW Alumni band was playing Louie Louie (*the unofficial state song)
at about 5 ½ miles (when the course was pretty much all incline) I was torn, I wanted to pick up the pace and come in under an hour because I was so close.
Alas, my right hip and hamstring (three of the four pelvic fractures I sustained in the accident were on the right side) began to complain about the pounding they’d taken all week with no rest and my heart rate spiked as well (a result over training and being stupid and having caffeine that morning) so I had to back down.
I managed a weak sprint at the finish and came in at 1:01:10 which is five minutes faster than my Iron Girl time (and this was a harder course) so I’ll take it.
I tried to do a slow easy ten miles to make it my long run when I got home, but after less than a mile of pathetic hobbling, it was apparent that my hip and hamstring would not allow it and that I would badly injure myself if I tried to push.
Yesterday was a forced recovery day.
I’m riding my bike to work and bellydancing tonight, so today won’t be total rest, but my hamstring (which is quite a bit better) is still cranky and needs another day off of running. I can’t afford an injury this close to the Seattle Marathon, so I’m going to behave myself.
I also don’t want to be limping around pathetically on my birthday run with the Tacoma Runners on Thursday night.
Next 10K, I’m breaking that hour mark and walking away without limping (because I’ll quit being a moron and over training and will take some rest days)
Why do so many of my blog posts of late involve crazy people invading a town/area and running (or cycling) amok in the streets?
As part of the Octoberfest celebration at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, the TCMA (Tacoma City Marathon Association) organized the first annual Stein Dash.
The dash was a 5K that started and ended near the beer garden (root beer was available for those who are too young or for other reasons chose not to imbibe_
One caveat for this race was that you had to carry your beer stein during the entire race. Luckily, they were lightweight plastic.
I was meeting Carmel, as well as Eric and Rhiannon from Tacoma Runners there. I wanted to get there early enough to pick up my packet, get stuff I didn’t need (like the long sleeve shirt I left the house in) back to the truck and not be rushed.
It’s a good thing I didn’t try to get there too early as I hear that packet pickup opened way late. I’m not sure what was up with this race, TCMA is normally super organized when it comes to this sort of thing, but this one was just chaos. Once you got through the long line into the packet pickup area there were no signs to tell you which way to go (to the left for registration/packet pickup/shirts and to the left for the beer stein. The registration/packet pickup table wasn’t signed either, so we had no idea what line to be in. I guess everyone is entitled to one bad day when they are usually super organized. (yes, they advised people to pick up their packet a day early, but some of us work on Saturdays and/or have no desire to waste fuel/time to drive to another town the day before an event)
I was bound and determined to run easy and according to how I felt rather than try to beat a specific time. I was recovering from back to back half marathons I wasn’t fully trained up for and needed to crank up my long run distance for the Seattle Marathon and didn’t need to aggravate or create any injuries.
I hit my lap button at mile one and discovered that I was on pace to finish this in under 30 minutes (a goal I had on this long road to come back) with a 9-something time for the first mile. All common sense then flew out the window and I decided to keep that pace even though I was pretty sure I’d gone out too fast.
We looped through the ride area of the fairgrounds and then hit the streets of Puyallup. What a sight we must have been to the residents, all of us carrying beer steins. Some wearing beer hats, others wearing lederhosen and dirndl (note to self, acquire dirndl before next year)
It was unseasonably warm and I was beginning to feel it (also, this race started later than most, 11:30 PM, versus many 7-8:00am starts) Did the organizers really think runners had any compunction regarding morning beer consumption? Someone was also burning wood which wasn’t fun on the lungs sinuses, so I slowed down a bit on the second mile.
I stretched it out in the last mile, with just enough left for a sprint at the finish…
Why yes… I am carrying a beer stein and I am happy to see you
Even though I had told myself time didn’t matter on this one (half marathon recovery so that I could get through my marathon training is my primary goal right now) I was so disappointed when the clock had just ticked past 30 minute as I crossed the finish line.
But wait! That was clock time, not chip time and it had taken me a while to get to get to and cross the starting mat. My Garmin (and the official results) said that I did it under 30 minutes (just barely, but I’ll take it)
Here’s the Garmin track.
The official results show that I averaged a 9:40 pace (not bad for a woman recovering from surgery who couldn’t even take her trash out to the back alley 8 months ago) and that I was 7th out of 32 in my age group, 95th out of 296 females, and 210th out of 520 overall. At 29:57, I was well ahead of the average finish time of 35:04.
I may not be back to where I was, but I’m making marked improvement and that makes me happy.
I cheered Carmel across the line for her 5K PR and then we met Eric and Rhiannon (who also rocked it and PRd her 5K) in the beer garden.
I had a (yes, only ONE, I was a good girl) Snoqualmie Falls Harvest Moon Ale which was quite tasty. I might have had another if I hadn’t been so overscheduled that day.
I can’t wait to do this one next year. In costume!
Here’s a pretty hilarious video of the event… (I want the sheep that gal is riding)
Since I had to miss Chilly Hilly, Flying Wheels and STP due to surgery recovery and only got to ride the last few miles of RAPSody, I was not about to miss an opportunity to spend some quality bike time with my biker scum crazy cylcist friends.
The Kitsap Color Classic was last Sunday, so I rushed around like mad that morning (after a 12 hour work day the day before) and got out the door 15 minutes later than I had planned, and crossed the Narrows Bridge into the hilly wilds of the Kitsap Peninsula.
My cycling buddy Bill who I haven’t seen in longer than I can remember also decided to join us and rode over on the Ferry from Edmonds where he spent the previous night.
This ride has two starts; one at the Edmonds Ferry dock and another in Kingston at the other end of the run. About 2/3 of our little group were coming over from the Seattle side, so we arranged a meeting place at a little crepe shop just up from the ferry dock on the Kingston side.
In addition to leaving the house way too late, I realized almost immediately upon crossing the bridge I hadn’t been paying attention to my fuel tank. With the red “check gauge” light glaring at me, daring me (“Do you feel lucky? DO YOU?) to go just one more exit for a better price/easier access, I finally pulled over in Silverdale.
Looking at the clock I realized I was going to be seriously late after having to stop for gas.
When I got back on the highway, I realized that I had absolutely no idea where the Kingston Ferry Terminal is, more or less the registration area/food stop which was two miles up the road.
I managed to take the correct exit and catch the left turn that took me towards Kingston/Port Gamble and away from the wrong ferry (seriously, this place is lousy with them)
Once I got close to Kingston, I could tell that the ferry had just unloaded as there was a stream of cyclists descending on the unwary inhabitants of this normally quiet area.
I noticed one particular rider, a hairy legged guy wearing a festive autumn inspired tutu… I knew Kevin had made it on the ferry. (he looks pretty manly in this thing if you ask me)
I found the crepe place easily, parked and walked across the street to see my friends gleefully stuffing their faces.
I hadn’t seen Julie in far too long and we stood in the middle of the street in a long embrace. Mind you, this embrace was quite interesting to behold as we were both wearing bike gear and brightly colored, sparkling tutus… I can hear the locals now, “Earl, just look at that shameful display… Those must be some of those heathen naked cyclists that hang out in Fremont.”
Since I was so late, I didn’t want to delay the group by ordering, so no crepes for me this trip. I got back in my truck and headed up to packet pickup. Due to barriers down near the ferry dock, I had to take a back road, got turned around and realized that I was hopelessly lost in Kitsap (as long as I didn’t hear banjos, I’d be OK)
I finally found my way to the registration tent and arrived about the time Bill did. He hadn’t seen me since I lost all the weight from the medical surgery stuff, so he looked at me and said, “You don’t have any boobs”.
“I never had boobs Bill, now I’m just skinny again and don’t have boobs.” What a gentleman eh?
Seriously… Who’s “the boob”? 😉
Of course, Leo made an equally appalling social faux paux and actually lifted my tutu… (I guess that’s the male version of a woman lifting a man’s kilt?)
What a scoundrel eh?
After the obligatory shenanigans at the start line, we (Leo, Julie, Bill, Eric, Paula, Ann, Mike, Lynn, John and myself) headed out on the Hainsville Loop. We were actually shooting for the longer and less painfully hilly Port Gamble loop but were so busy talking and laughing we missed the Dan Henry for that turnoff (this ride has three loops of varying degrees of quad destroying hills and mileages allowing you to customize your ride with any combination of loops).
The first couple of miles was a hill (there is no flat ground out there, it’s even worse than Tacoma in the hill department)
After some ups, downs, twists and turns, we made the descent into Hainsville… (and yes, the climb back up and out was a bitch)
We found a lovely little scenic view spot and pulled over (well, all except for bill who never slowed down at the base of the screaming hill and never knew we pulled over)
Mt Baker is in the background here somewhere, I suspect that Leo’s butt is blocking it. We look like we’re on a day pass from the asylum don’t we?
This particular shot has been described as “the worst super hero team photo ever” (Leo has been dubbed “Sani Can Man”)
Lynn didn’t have a tutu, but she was quite festive in her Irn Bru jersey (she’s from Scotland)
We started the long and ugly climb out of Hainsville after Leo finally yelled at us enough to quit with all the flitting around, socializing and picture taking. This is where I taught Ann the “bike butt dance” which is even better with a tutu to shake; she will have one on the next ride.
There were many more wonderful, scenic back roads and lots of laughter. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were talking about how days like this will be the memories we talk about later in life (you know… when Julie and I are crazy cat ladies knitting… Oh wait…)
Then the hills started back up in earnest.
Leo backtracked and yelled at us (as if he hadn’t been yelling at us to quit yacking, get in our big rings and ride like we meant it-I don’t think he knows what to do with himself when he’s not a ride ref) SHIFT DOWN INTO YOUR LOWEST GEAR!!! DO IT NOW!!!
I don’t see him get like that often, so I did it.
The hill did come up suddenly on a blind corner and is probably the equivalent of McCurthchen Hill on the Tour De Pierce and Daffodil Classic rides, but it was nowhere near the 22% grade we had been hearing about, nor the stair step half mile long 12-14% grade that has also been described.
I gave him “the look”. He said, “That was it.” I knew it wasn’t and told him (and everyone else so) and of course, I stayed on the small ring.
Another couple of miles down the road was another sharp turn away from the water, and there it was… The monster, 22% of evil, chain dropping, quad burning, vomit inducing hill from hell. I dropped down through the rest of my gears and dodged those who were wobbling , stopping and walking.
No way in hell was I giving Leo (who was now smirking like a lunatic) the satisfaction of “walking the dog” aka “the walk of shame”. I made it up that hill on pedal power (which can’t be said for a large number of people) just to spite him.
Leo and I have ridden together for years as Cascade volunteers (he as a ride ref, myself as a medical support rider and as a ride ref) on all the big rides, we’ve faced a lot of inclement conditions, interesting things, danger, injuries and bonks together and always have each others’ backs. We can say pretty much whatever we want to each other (harassing each other for over 100 miles at a time is “our thing”) but if someone else crosses the line with one of us, they have hell to pay from the other.
Why do I tell you this? Because after all of these years, and hundreds (no, at this point it’s into the thousands) of miles we’ve ridden together, this was the day that I finally dropped the F-bomb on him.
We re-grouped at the top of the hill and gave everyone a chance to catch up, catch their breath and drink water.
This hill may not look that bad on first glance, until you look again and realize that we were down by the water when we started the climb.
Once back at the food tent, some folks went back out to ride part of the Port Gamble loop and Bill, Lynn and I opted for food and beverage overlooking the water. As undertrained as I was this year, I wanted to finish the ride on a positive note, feeling good.
We ate at “The Filling Station”. Lynn and I had what can only be described as “food porn”. Roasted garlic and goat cheese with toasted baguette.
It was a lovely afternoon to sit on the deck (and it’s amazing how tiny the Space Needle is from there)
It was the perfect day, with the perfect (albeit batshit crazy) fiends….
I like running races that are for a good cause, You Go Girl benefited the YWCA of Tacoma Pierce County and this race benefited a foundation dedicated to supporting soldiers returning from war with PTSD (a HUGE need since more returning soldiers die from suicide than in the actual war).
No matter how one feels about these conflicts, this isn’t about supporting the wars (which I do NOT), it was about supporting those who need help when they come back. I greatly appreciated one of the speakers talking about the need to “bring our men and women back from this god forsaken war.”
I am totally behind this cause and was happy and proud to support it.
Other than some organized bike rides such as the Peninsula Metric Century, I haven’t done a lot of events in Gig Harbor. Yesterday will most likely change that, as the community support was amazing.
This was one of the best organized/supported races I’ve done; the fact that people were doing it for a cause they were passionate about made it even better. It wasn’t just the race organizers, it was the community.
The weather was perfect for running, albeit a bit chilly at the start. The race started and finished at the YMCA and we were able to use the facility to warm up before the race which I took full advantage of (good thing they were kind enough to open it up to everyone as I didn’t bring my membership card)
After the start line speeches, invocations, national anthem and a zumba warmup, the gun went off (a good loud one that was easy to hear) and we were off like a herd of turtles. (starts in big races are rather anti-climatic as folks try to move through the bottleneck and then get up to speed)
I was pretty sure I’d never keep a 2:30 pace on this course, as I missed it by eight minutes at You Go Girl and this was a much harder course (hill, Hills and more HILLS) and I wasn’t sure I was recovered enough to be running it in the first place, more or less pushing but I lined up with the 2:30 pace group anyway. Since I have a habit of going out way too fast, I figured it would keep me in check, until my lack of training slowed me down later in the race.
My knees complained a bit during the first mile, which didn’t bode well for my recovery or for finishing this race uninjured. Once I was fully warmed up, the issue went away.
The course support (both official and from the community) was amazing. Lots of groups of high school cheerleaders, other organizations and even a PONY!!! (actually, it was a miniature horse) who made their appearance with a gaggle of cute goats.
Community members who weren’t involved in the race lined the course to lend their support and encouragement.
Right after mile two, the course took a huge dip, which naturally meant a huge climb out. There was another big (and long) climb before mile four.
We got a treat on the long hill leading up to mile six, a bag piper.
Mile six was where “the incident” occurred. This is where I start using my baggie of blackstrap molasses in place of energy gels.
The first hint that things weren’t going to go right in this regard, was that since my last orthodontic adjustment (two days before) none of my teeth were lined up correctly to bite the corner off my baggie (had they been lined up properly, they hurt too bad to do it anyway) so I was able to tear a small hole in the corner using the end of my arch wire.
The hole was way too small so I had to squeeze the bag extra hard to get the goo out. Of course, this was too much pressure for the cheap store brand zip closure and it blew open. Black,sticky gooey mess everywhere… in between my fingers, on my race singlet, all over my race number and running down my legs (that looked really gross, I’ll let you use your imagination there)
There is almost as little dignity in distance running as there is in triathlon.
Not long after this, at mile 8 ½ I knew there was no way I was going to be able to stay with my pace group (which at that point was the pacers Betsy and Kim and myself because everyone else had dropped) so sadly, I dropped back to a 11:40 minute mile pace.
After mile 10, I was firmly in the “Bite Me Zone” and backed off to a 12:20 pace. I had completely given up on 2:30 with these hills and would consider it a big win to even match my You Go Girl Time.
The support we received from the residents was amazing, unofficial water stops, music, and one house that had a “sweet stop” giving us candy. I had my coconut water with me and was on top of my hydration, but let me tell you, when a five year old runs out into the street to give you a cup of water you smile and drink it.
One cute little kid was in his driveway dressed as Captain America high fiving all of us. Senior citizens, teenage girls, little kids, families and dogs all lined the streets to support the cause and cheer us on. I’ve only experienced levels of community support like this in Spokane for Bloomsday and Victoria for the Royal Victoria Marathon.
Along the entire course, we heard cheers of THANK YOU!
When we came out of Canterwood (and it’s many hills) and hit the main road (I think it was Peacock Hill Road) one of the Gig Harbor motorcycle cops was riding up and down the course. He wasn’t just doing his job, he was on his PA system encouraging us and cheering us on.
The last 2 ½ miles were long, but relatively level (all except for the end) and with all the cheering and community support I was able to stretch it out a bit and get back up to pace. At mile 12, I picked it up to a 10:16 pace and could still see my pacers.
For the last half mile or so, I picked it up to 9:30 pace which really hurt, but I had a chance to come in close to 2:30 (and I was really ready for this to be over)
I crossed the finish line at 2:30:50 (my Garmin said 2:29:56) so I’m calling that a win. It was 8 minutes faster than You Go Girl on a way more difficult course (Garmin says 737 feet of elevation gain, my fitbit said over 800) so I felt pretty good about it. That was an 11:13 average moving pace (You Go Girl was 12:06) with one spurt of a 5:53 minute mile pace.
Betsy and Kim were there and determined that I did make it 🙂
They were great pacers and I am happy to have had them user me in to my Half Fanatic status. (Betsy made sure I wiped the molasses off my face before the photo)
My shiny thing count for this comeback is rising 😉
I feel pretty good this morning, hamstrings and hips are a bit tight, but my Achilles isn’t acting up yet. I did a good job stretching it out and took some good advice from the Physical Therapy folks who were there and don’t walk around barefoot first thing in the morning (had to do for someone like me who doesn’t like to wear shoes)
I made sure everything was nice and loose last night.
Next up (well, insofar as major goals) is the Seattle Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend and if I get through that uninjured, the Yukon Do It and one other as yet to be determined marathon for my “Marathon Maniac” status.
Next week, I’m keeping the long run easy (on Friday) before cranking up the long runs for the Seattle Marathon and am doing the Kitsap Color Classic bicycle ride with my biker scum cycling friends including (but not limited to; Julie, Leo, Kevin, John, Deb, etc…)
I can neither confrim nor deny that tutus will be worn…
Why yes, the catch phrase is dated (early 1990’s if my memory serves me) but it is the name of a pretty kick ass half marathon and 10K race event which made it’s third appearance in Tacoma last Sunday.
One of the great things about this race is that this year it benefitted the YWCA of Pierce County one of the most worthwhile organizations in town.
I was grateful that for the second time in two weeks, a women’s race did Not give us pink shirts. In addition to my disdain for anything that could possibly be perceived as supporting the Komen Foundation, pink is just way too over done.
I was excited to see a super pretty purple long sleeve tech shirt (the Iron girl shirts were more of a lavender color) Apparently, purple is the go to color for women’s races this year.
While it is billed as specifically a women’s race, men were allowed to enter (and were encouraged to dress the part)
I saw a lot of men, most of whom were supporting wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters, or on teams that were supporting fundraising efforts sporting shiny skirts or tutus… (honestly, I had some serous tutu envy going on)
I met up with Carmel, Kathleen, Lauralee and Brian at the start. This was Carmel’s first ever 10K so it was a big day for her. I believe it was also Kathleen’s first 10K (which she totally rocked by the way)
Derek from the Tacoma Runners came by to say hello and cheer us on at the start.
I had been very disciplined in my nutrition and hydration efforts to eliminate the need to waste time (and possibly miss the start) by standing in the port a potty lines and had peed three times that morning before the race, so I was certain I was good to go.
As soon as the darn National Anthem plays, my bladder knows I am at a race and immediately gets excited and wants to go.
I did not have time to entertain such silliness.
I left my friends (who were doing the 10K) and moved up into the 2:30 pace group for the half marathon. Given that I was not properly trained up for this race, was not well rested, and had some old injuries nagging at me, I decided to keep it nice and slow. I just wanted to finish this thing uninjured. This race was about coming back full circle from the health and surgical issues, not about killing myself for a specific time on the clock. (I honestly didn’t expect to finish in 2:30; it was my “ideal and I wasn’t going to kill myself for it)
And we were off (for once, a decent race picture of me…)
We headed South on Market Street (from the start at 9th and Market) out to Jefferson where we had a turn around.
This is when the realization that there is no way to “take it easy” during a ten hour work day managing a Farmers’ Market that requires you to be on your feet all day (pedometer says I walked 8 ½ miles the day before) and that doing my ten mile long run (they day after a 10K race and way too close to the actual half marathon) did not give my legs even close to sufficient recovery time.
They felt like lead. They felt like angry, stiff, tired lead; but by golly, I was going to do this, so I told them to shut up.
The out and back on this course was not demoralizing like it is on some courses [cough… Portland Race for the Roses… Great Kilted Run…] but was a great opportunity to wave, shout out encouragement and high five friends we didn’t manage to see at the starting line. And yes… shouts of “You Go Girl!” were uttered.
In addition to the tired legs, I was uncomfortably warm for that early in the morning. I overheard one woman comment about how hot and muggy it was, and I replied, “Oh, good! I was afraid I was having a hot flash.” That comment garnered lots of laughs from the large number of “women of a certain age” who were running near us.
Once we got back to the starting line (which had already been packed up and moved to the finish, my bladder made it known that it was not messing around, so I was able to quickly duck into one of the (now line free) port a potties to take care of business. Of course, even though I was probably in there 30 seconds or so, I lost my pace group, which was probably for the best, considering my legs were so fatigued and at risk of injury.
We headed up a small hill (well, small for Tacoma) into Wright Park and ran a loop around the site of my hamster on a treadmill long run.
I ran into Kathleen in the park and ran with her until after we went down 15th St to Dock Street, she left me in the dust as she headed for the finish like at Thea’s Park for her great 10K finish time.
OK, now we’ve hit the part of the out and back course that was a bit demoralizing. We had to run past the finish line with it’s cheering, shiny things, food and drink and run up a series of overpasses for the long haul down Shuster Parkway/Ruston Way.
By this time it was getting warmer out and the breeze off the water could not clear out the horrid air quality from all the fires just on the other side of the Cascades which had put our region into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals” alert status all week. Several of us got wheezy on our Thursday night run and I could see people starting to have breathing issues on this stretch of the course. I was lucky (and taking it very easy) and didn’t have any issues.
This part of the course was another opportunity to wave, high five and shout out support to other runners; it is also where we got our first look at the leaders in the half marathon. I saw my pace group go by and realized that I wasn’t that far off (still under no delusion that I’d make a 2:30 time)
There were a lot of very colorful costumes and interesting people to chat with. It wasn’t just the men wearing tutus, many of the women were as well. I really should have worn one. How often do grown women have an opportunity to wear tutus? We should seize them whenever possible.
This was an area of the course where loved ones came to offer support (food, water, signs) to their wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters and sisters who were running the race.
One gentleman in particular (who was not wearing a tutu) was running with his daughter.
The sign said “My daughter Marissa just turned 13 and is running her first half marathon.”
What a GREAT dad! I got a bit misty over that one. I yelled out “Great Job Marissa!” and added a “Great job Dad!” to it.
Once I hit the turn around, I knew that I was going to make it (well, I knew I’d make it, even if I had to crawl)
Sadly this was where those who were having issues with heat, air quality, under training, weight started to have issues. One woman who was obviously in distress yelled at her daughter who was offering to run up to her with the cold drink so she didn’t have to stop. Another woman when asked by her family how she was doing replied with something less than positive.
I tired to encourage her and tell her she could do this. That’s when when she dropped back and I’m pretty sure I heard her barf.
As I was pushing up one of the ugly overpasses one of the Half Fanatic pacers was running back down the race course to cheer some folks on, looked at me and said, “Way to power up that hill.” I looked at her, smiled and said, “Hills are my Bitch” and she laughed.
Near the end of the course, on a steady incline there was a bit of shade provided by a wall separating the elevated roadway that we all migrated towards. It was a cruel trick as the wall provided a small sliver of shade, but completely blocked the breeze and radiated heat.
Finally, the final bridge overpass came into view and we could hear the cheering of the crowd.
I had enough left in me for a sprint to the finish crossing the line at 2:38 which was not that far off my ideal time for this race.
Doug from Tacoma Runners was there at the finish to offer congratulations and support.
I found Kelly (we had seen each other on the out and back portions of the course) who was way speedier than me today.
After some water, grapes and visiting, it was time to walk up the hill (no way was I cramming my angry legs into a school bus for the shuttle) to meet Carmel for our traditional celebration of a race well run, Pizza and Beer at the Harmon Tap Room (whilst wearing our medals of course).
Yes, I know I said that I wasn’t fully recovered from all the medical/stress/surgery crap until I did that triathlon, but now I REALLY feel recovered because one of the last races I ran before it all started was a half marathon.
Here’s my “coming back” medal count so far.
Not bad for a woman who in January could not even take her own trash out 🙂
Next Weekend, the Run for a Soldier Half Marathon (I decided that I wanted my “Half Fanatic” status) and then moving into some serious training for the Seattle Marathon.
This morning Carmel and I headed up to Green Lake bright and early to do the Seattle Iron Girl Race.
We got up there early enough to get parking within two blocks of the event, picked up our goodie bags and went back to the car to stay warm (it was butt cold out there which was a very rapid weather change from yesterday’s summer heat)
We found Linda easily (she was only a block from the car when she called) but we never managed to find Caroline.
Here we are getting ready to head back over to the race start.
When we got back, we discovered that the port-a-potty situation was beyond dire. The website claimed to have “plenty of port-a-potties… Uh, No you didn’t.
Seriously people… Women, many of us over 40, many more nervous and all of us swilling coffee like Pacific Northwesterners NEED adequate bathroom facilities at these race starts.
I can guarantee you that hundreds of women were still in line needing to use the bathroom long after the race started.
We headed over to the park bathrooms and found an almost equally scary line.
One gal wondered out loud what the line looked like over on the men’s side.
“Let’s go find out!” I said and lead the charge over to the other side. (this wasn’t my “first rodeo” in that regard); it was that or risk a ticket for public urination.
Some poor kid was cleaning the bathrooms and couldn’t let us in while he still had a bunch of water on the floor needing to be squeegeed.. I explained to him that we were desperate and then pointed out the growing line of highly agitated women with angry bladders. Not wanting to see a riot, nor be crushed by a stampeding herd, He hustled.
We let the two men who needed to use it go in first, explaining the need for them to hurry (I can neither confirm nor deny that I stood IN the doorway and muttered loud enough to be heard, “What is he doing in there? taking an epic dump?”) Once the now frightened men exited the bathroom the hordes of women descended.
My apologies if you area male who needed to use the bathroom a bit before 8:00 AM.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the story of the Green Lake Men’s Bathroom Takeover of 2012.
We got to the start line with about five minutes to spare and started out in the 11:00 min mile pace area which was silly because people in Seattle don’t read the pace signs or self sort and we still got stuck behind a bunch of walkers. I have GOT to start farther forward in these events.
There were over 2,200 of us and it took us over eight minutes to get to the start line after the gun went off (thank goodness for chip timing) There was quite the bottleneck getting out onto Greenlake Boulevard so it took a while to get to where we could actually run.
I get twitchy having to run packed tight like sardines so I do a lot of zigging, zagging and jumping around to get some clear space in which to run. I pulled out an average 10 minute mile pace for the first 1.3 miles (which means a lot of it was way faster than that to make up for the walk/shuffle start, and was way too fast for me to sustain over 6.2 miles right now, so I backed off to an 11 min mile pace.
We ran around the lake (with varying exits off and entrances back on the trail) twice for those of us who were doing the 10K.
Just before the three mile mark, Linda flew past me. She was on fire and set for an excellent 5K finish time (it was her first race in 20 years and she ROCKED it)
I was trying to keep my pace reasonable as I am under trained, had another loop to make, needed to finish uninjured as I have to pull out a ten mile long run tomorrow and then taper for the You Girl half Marathon.
I did kick it up to a ten minute mile place for the last mile and kicked it up even faster for the last .2 miles into the finish. My Garmin said that at some point I was running at a 5:15 mile pace.
I averaged 74% of my max heart rate (144 beats per minute) throughout the race, with a short peak at 104% (193 beats per minute) when I was kicking into overdrive at the end)
Carmel, who ran the entire 5K this time was there to cheer me on at the finish line.
I crossed the finish line at 1:06 which really isn’t terrible considering I’ve had so little time to train due to recovering from surgeries.
I came in at 340 overall, out of 546 women running the 10K so I was solidly in the middle of the pack. I was 40th in my age group of 62 (not as impressive but a big pack of us ran in to the finish all at the same time so I was still in with a good grouping)
The medals were big and shiny.
Here we are at the finish showing off our shiny things.
I was a super naughty monkey at the expo.
Normally I don’t buy expo stuff, but there was this awesome tech fabric Athleta dress that I fell in love with, which I can actually run or bike in if I want to. I like having dresses to put on after triathlons and this one will fill the bill, although honestly, I think I’ll also wear it for evenings out. It’s super comfortable and I love the color.
I’ve been working my butt off (literally) and decided that I had earned a treat.
I came home and took a 2+ hour nap. I’ll also be going to bed early and NOT setting an alarm.
I need to get a very slow and easy ten miles in tomorrow so that I can call that a long run and taper for the half marathon next weekend.
The final (and most physically painful) stage of recovering from the hemorrhaging and surgeries is getting back to running after having been off serious training over two years.
I’ve been seeing all these great Tacoma Runners events, but I didn’t want to be limping around behind everyone.
I joined a friend’s “accountability” group on Facebook and set up another one for some girlfriends and I who wanted to train for a 5K. Yeah, pretty weird for a woman who has run several full marathons and olympic distance triathlons to need to “work up to” a 5K, but that’s how it is.
I’ve been starting out slowly so as not to end up fighting piriformus or illio-tibial band syndrome (both injures I’m prone to, when I over train, over race or increase my mileage too quickly due to my previously fractured spine and pelvis)
I started out running 2-3 miles at a shot, 2-3 days a week. I’ve slowly increased that to four with Friday being the day that I will do my “long” run (which at this stage has only been 3.5 miles. I’m also going to try to get off the local concrete and on to trails more often.
My right hip, piriformus and the top of my hamstring has been giving me a heck of a time and I’ve been in a lot of pain.
I’ve always known that I can never live a sedentary life, for to so so would allow the scar tissue and arthritis to set in. This is obviously what has happened and it’s been a challenge to know when the running is breaking things loose or creating an injury, and when I should suck it up or rest.
The first race I chose to run is a very low key, super fun event called the “Great Kilted Run”. Back in the day, it was in Ballard, but now it’s moved to Magnuson Park in Seattle
I was a bit concerned about my hip as it was bugging me just walking to the packet pickup area, which is when I decided that although my shoes did not have too many miles on them, they were two years old and had lost their mojo and needed to be retired… Luckily there was no concrete on the course and there was quite a bit of grass and gravel.
My friend Carmel signed up with me, and this was a really big deal because it was her first ever 5K.
Here we are engaging in a wee bit of kilt flipping…
The start was hilarious… Rather than the narrow streets of Seattle start that so many of us are used to, it was a wide start which headed up Kite Hill.
I’m sure we were quite the sight to anyone who didn’t know what was going on. As all of us crazy kilted folks raced up the hill the guy next to me raised his fist in the air and yelled “FREEDOM!!!” and a bunch of us started to cheer and roar. It was an amusing Braveheart Moment. It appears that we were too far down the hill for the video camera to catch it, but it was pretty awesome and a sight to see as is evidenced by the following video.
Of course, we were out running a race with an uphill start and another climb up the side of the same hill so that we could run down to the finish wearing wool kilts on a day that broke the standing 35 year record for heat in the Seattle area, so it was not easy, and we were all feeling the strain. Hey, any race you can walk away from right?
I started out WAY too fast. My Garmin tells me that at some point I was running a 7:22 minute mile pace. I was going to pass out from heat, pain and being out of shape if I kept that up. That hill at the start got me all hyped up; I’m sure that was part of the problem as was trying to jockey for position on narrow parts of the trail. I needed to get out of the dust that was getting kicked up on the gravel portion as quickly as possible.
By the one mile mark, I slowed way down.
By the two mile mark, I realized that I had not slowed down enough and that the heat was making me queasy.
On the out and back portion of the race near the end, I was sure that 3.1 miles would never come. At this point I was starting to get dizzy, nauseated and to see spots.
Finally, we made that last climb up the side of Kite Hill for the downhill finish.
As I descended the hill, I actually got a chill and broke out in goosebumps which was not a good sign considering how hot it was. The last time I had one of these, “Wow, this is the race where I’m finally going to vomit at the finish line” moments was at the Bolder Boulder back in 2003 when a registration screw up caused me to have to start in a much later wave (without my friend who I went out there to run the race with) when the temps and humidity were both in the 90’s and I was so frustrated and mad that I ran my 10K PR. I was able to keep my breakfast down and stay upright in both instances, so it’s all good.
They had coconut water at the finish line, which is GREAT for hydration and is less likely to trigger vomiting than ice cold water, so I slowly downed one of those while I waited for Carmel to finish.
It didn’t matter how crappy I felt, it was her first time and I needed to be there yelling my head off and cheering for her (with the obligatory high five as well) at the finish. (you always remember your first 😉
She came in with a great first 5K time.
My time was 33:54 which was a bit disappointing, but considering I had only logged in 38 training miles, was in a lot of pain and the heat was killer, is not all that bad.
This actually put me in 13th place in my division (out of 45) 47th out of 153 women and comfortably above the average finish time of 35:39, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about it.
We met up with Caroline and wandered over to the beer garden for some cold, tasty Scottish Ale and enjoyed music, comraderie, and flybys from the SeaFair jets.
The heat must have taken quite a toll on me because when I noticed that I hadn’t turned my heart rate monitor off, I saw that almost 40 minutes after the event, my heart rate was still up to 122 bpm which indicated some pretty significant stress on my system.
I spent the rest of the day drinking water and coconut water (well, after two farm visits on my way home) stretching out my angry hip and hamstring, and resting up.
Luckily, the combination of softer surfaces kept the hip aggravation to a minimum and I felt better by the time I woke up this morning.
I felt pretty good on today’s run (I found some newer shoes and wore them), so it’s all good.