Today I am sad.

I am sad for those who are disenfranchised, discriminated against and have no hope for justice.

I am sad for those who lack the compassion to understand the realities of people with other life circumstances.

I am sad for those who live in fear.

I am sad for those who choose to hate.

I am sad for those communities who are now labeled “those people who bring it on themselves” because outside agitators, anarchists and others looking for an excuse to commit violent and criminal acts used their tragedy to do so.

I am sad for public servants whose profession has been tainted and whose jobs have become much more dangerous due the actions of those who use the job to have power over rather than serve others.

I am sad for local businesses and hardworking people who have suffered damage and loss.

I am sad for the families, friends and loved ones of those who have been hurt and killed.

I am sad that I am seen by some as the enemy.

I am sad that I am not likely to see a post racial United States in my lifetime.

I am sad that this, is the legacy we are passing on to our children 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was enacted.


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A note to the first responders at the Boston Marathon (and everywhere else)

Some first responders at the scene were trained police officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs.

Some were race staff and volunteers.

Many more were spectators just waiting for their friends, family and loved ones to cross the finish line in a life affirming event.

Some runners, perhaps having dreamed of this day, this chance to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon their entire adult lives stopped their forward progress abandoning their dream, the goal they had worked so hard to achieve, in order to help others.

Regardless of title, training or lack thereof, they were all “first responders”.

They will never be able to unsee what they have seen. No matter how tough or experienced some of them may be, they will be haunted to varying degrees by some of the images for the rest of their lives.

To those who were there, who responded, who selflessly gave of yourselves,

Please avail yourselves (if you have not already) of any critical incident stress debriefing offered. If you were a spectator, a participant or anyone else who does not regularly have that offered to you, seek it out through your local EMS agencies.

While some of you who do this professionally already understand the impact and how long it is going to take to process the events of March 15th, 2013, it’s going to be even more challenging than you know to get past what you saw, heard and felt.

As a paramedic for 13 years, I can’t count the number of mass casualty incidents I responded to; to say they are shocking and overwhelming is a gross understatement.

Many years ago at a base station meeting, an emergency room doctor who sees the worst of the worst (in a controlled environment and only one or two at a time) when telling the story of one such event when he was a ride along couldn’t describe the feeling of helplessness he felt when confronted with so much critical trauma, death, dying and chaos. “I don’t know how you people do this day in and day out; I had no idea where to start.” he said.

The helplessness… knowing you can’t help everyone, knowing you can only do so much for so few and that it’s never enough, is a truly devastating feeling.

What makes this even worse for everyone involved in an event such as this, is that these were “your people” your peers, perhaps even someone you knew personally.

That is the worst of the worst, parents responding to calls where children the same age as their own were critically injured; I lost it after a call where a “man” (if you could call him that) beat his 60-something year old mother viciously when she would not give him drug money (I had him bodily removed from the room so that I could work on his mother because I was honestly afraid of what I might do to him); she was the same age and looked like my mother, I had to call her immediately after I got back to the station.

Even worse when it’s someone you know… I responded to a dangerous and accidental drug overdose of one of my friend’s young children. On an even more personal note, my paramedic instructor had a serious heart attack (that required a quadruple bypass) and I was on the unit that responded.

There is more, so much more… I can’t count the number of times (after, always after a call) where I (the allegedly tough as nails medic and incident commander who’d been through it and toughed it out so many times before and always held it together on the call) sat sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of the emergency room bathroom.

I am very damaged from all of this. I have seen things, things that people do to others, to innocents, to children… that are so horrible I can not tell another person because it would quite literally scar them for life. So those things must live inside me, and I must manage them on my own as best I can. (it is never good enough)

How damaged you might ask? Most of my close friends have never seen me hold a baby other than in the process of delivering one in an emergency situation. Most people see a baby and want to hold/cuddle it. I, instinctively check it’s color, make certain that it has a pulse and is breathing and that it has not been abused or injured. I’ll spare you the stories of why I’m that way… you don’t want to know and I would never inflict that on you.

My hope is that all who were there that terrible day are able to seek out whatever help is available to them so that they can process what they experienced and not let it permanently damage their heart and soul.

No matter how old, experienced or tough you are, we all need help processing such things. It is OK to cry, it is OK to lean on others, it is OK, no, it is vital to seek help.

You can only be available to help others, if you are taking good care of yourself.


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I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!

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…

Fall colours in Interlaken Park.

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)


At mile 25 for the full marathon (around mile 12 for the half) we had to stop for the obligatory “God Save The Queen” shot… for those who aren’t aware of this tradition and that the original marathon wasn’t 26.2 miles, you can click here for the real story of how modern marathon distance came to be and why we yell “God Save The Queen” at mile 25


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.


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Dawg Dash

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)


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Octoberfest – Crazy Runners With Beer Steins Invade Puyallup

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)


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Race For a Soldier and the Molasses Incident

Since running one half marathon not properly trained wasn’t quite crazy enough, I signed up for another one the following week (not even sure I’d be recovered from the first one by then).

After surviving the You Go Girl Half Marathon without injury I decided to go for “Half Fanatic” status and do another race within the qualifying time frame.

I signed up for Race For a Soldier Half Marathon in Gig Harbor which was yesterday, exactly one week after You Go Girl.

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)

ready... set...

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.

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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.

We entered the Canterwood Golf and Country Club for a hilly loop.

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)

Kim and Betsy ushered me in to the Half Fanatics

My shiny thing count for this comeback is rising 😉

ran for a good cause, cut 8 minutes off my half marathon time & qualified for Half Fanatics

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…

~L (Half Fanatic #2935)

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You Go Girl (or Hills are my Bitch)

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.

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)

let's do this thing

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).

finisher medals and well deserved beer

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 🙂

medal count 2012 (the year of recovery) 002

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.


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Iron Girl (and the Green Lake Takeover of the Men’s Bathroom)

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.

ready to run Iron Girl

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.

1:06 - not horrible

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.


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Tri Again

OK, here’s the long awaited race report.

Oh, and this was my first time in the 50-54 age group. USA Triathlon regulations specify that you race in the age group you will be on Dec 31st of that year. Since I turn 50 in a few weeks, it was my first race as a fifty year old. Woo Hoo! New age group for me!

For a comprehensive list of every thing that went wrong, you can check out my blog about how not to do a triathlon.

I did do several things right, one was using natural “real” food for electrolytes/hydration. I used blackstrap molasses instead of energy gels and coconut water in place of sports drinks. I’m very pleased with both choices.

I overslept just a bit, but arrived at Meridian Lake in plenty of time to pick up my packet, get everything set up in my transition area and get through the port a potty lines. Come on race directors (all of you) you’ve got a bunch of athletes who’ve been hydrating like crazy, drinking coffee like mad (this is after all the Pacific Northwest) and really need to take care of other [ahem] bodily functions before squeezing into their wetsuits.

It was a lovely clear morning with steam rising up over the water.

I did the Friday Night Swim Race here the previous week so I knew the course which made me more relaxed and confident. I did one open water swim at Steele Lake the previous week and wasn’t feeling too good about my swim performance, my technique was terrible so I was working way harder than I needed to and was pretty darn slow.

This is something about having buoys to site on and other swimmers in the water that put me right back into the “tri zone”. I was not fast at the swim race, but I came in at just over 20 minutes (and that included getting out of the water and running up the ramp)

On race morning even though I was not at my best physically (see aforementioned blog post) once we were off and running (errr… swimming) I was really “in the zone”. I started and stayed in the back. It wasn’t too long before I started to pass people (those who started out too fast) I wasn’t swimming fast because all I wanted was to get through the swim with enough energy left to complete the bike and run. But I really felt good, relaxed, in control of my breathing, and with pretty decent rotation.

After the third buoy I found myself in a “swimmer sandwich” getting kicked in the head by the gal in front of me, and kicking whoever was behind me in their head. Such is the way of things. I wasn’t giving up my line.

I exited the water at 21:17 almost a minute slower than my race time the previous week. It wasn’t a great time but I sure wasn’t last, so I’ll take it especially since I was trying to conserve energy and had to stop and fuss with my goggles.

Next was the bike.

My transition time wasn’t great, 3:11:09 but it certainly wasn’t terrible and I made sure to get some more blackstrap and coconut water down. I do need to work on getting out of the wetsuit more quickly and would be better off getting my bike shoes on if I dried my feet off a bit before putting my socks on.

The course was mostly rolling hills; I was able to get some extra speed and stretch out a bit on the aero bars. My friend Russ recognized me from behind (I was pretty easy to spot with the word “Hammer” emblazoned on my ass in bright pink lettering) so we chatted a bit on the course.

There was one super nasty hill (worse than the hill in downtown Portland on the old STP route) which had volunteers stationed at the bottom to warn us to gear down.

as you can see, four out of five cyclist in this photo could not get up on their bike…

You KNOW it’s ugly when I come up off the saddle (I’m normally a sit and spin girl)

I took 1:03 to get through the bike course, which while not my best time, was not terrible according to my time, I averaged 15.5 mph which included the mount and dismount areas and getting in and out of transition. My bike computer says that I averaged 17 miles per hour which isn’t bad.

My T-2 transition time was pretty decent at 1:46:6 and I was off and running… Literally. I of course had a wicked case of “rubber legs” after getting off the bike and was just determined to finish this thing upright. I did have to make a short visit to the bushes which didn’t help my time any, but 35:14:06 was not horrible for a 5 K, especially after swimming and bike racing first.

I raised my arms in the air in triumph as I crossed the finish line right after this pic was taken.

Total time… 2:04:35:09 Not stellar, but not really that bad.

I almost cried. I had done it. I had overcome all of it, the hemorrhaging, the weight gain caused by not being able to work out for almost two years, the arthritis and scar tissue in my spine and pelvis which also got worse during that time, the stress, the dangerously high blood pressure and two surgeries.

I may not be fast, but I’m back and this triathlon medal means more to me than all of the others combined.

despite everything my body has been through-I am still a triathlete

Oh, after a quick nap, I rode out on the RAPSody bike course to meet up with my long time ride partner Leo and ride a few miles in with him since I wasn’t able to do the ride this year and missed the rest of our usual rides reffing together for CBC.


I slept well that night!

Next up…

the Iron Girl 10K
the You Go Girl Half Marathon
and if I get through that uninjured
the Seattle Marathon.

Seattle was my first full marathon which I did when I turned 40 to celebrate that and learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.

It seems fitting that I should do it again when I turn 50 and to celebrate overcoming my recent obstacles.


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How NOT to do a Triathlon


#1 Sign up for a race that you don’t have time to train up for because it is the only one scheduled on your only day off during the week.

#2 Don’t rest the day before your race. Make sure to spend at least ten hours on your feet (bonus if in the sun on a hot day), lift heavy stuff, and walk no less than eight miles. Also make sure to rack up at least two nights of sleep deprivation.

#3 Make sure to wear brand new flipflops with stiff straps that dig into the skin on your feet and give blisters the day before. Bonus if the straps are thinner than the ones you usually wear and you get sunburned on the white stripes on your feet adjacent to the blisters.

#4 Be too busy to eat or hydrate properly the day before, then drink so much water and electrolytes that you’re up peeing all night long.

#5 If you are a female of child bearing age, not on hormonal birth control, by all means ovulate a day or two before the race; the resulting hormone surges, bloating and constipation will make everything: eating, sleeping, fitting into your trisuit/wetsuit, not feeling like a moose so much more challenging. Bonus if said condition makes you too nauseated to eat on race day.

You may experience the benefit of running/pedaling faster to catch up with that super hot guy in the trisuit ahead of you. After all, our lizard brains are looking for good strong breeding stock and these guys are it!

#6 Load up on fluids and fiber to offset the post ovulatory constipation and drink plenty of coffee; the resulting “flush” will keep you occupied all morning long both before and after you get to the race (and perhaps on your way there and after you put your wetsuit on) Bonus points if said race has insufficient port-a-potties on site.

#7 Don’t bother going through the process of filling your wetsuit with water, then climbing up on the beach to let it drain out, leaving only a thin layer of water for your body to heat up like the suit is designed to do. Just jump in and freeze your butt off. The chattering of your teeth will greatly amuse everyone in your swim start wave.

#8 Don’t adjust your swim goggles properly before starting out; it’s super fun when they fill with water. Bonus if you wear contact lenses.

#9 Don’t do a complete mechanical check on your bike; it’s super fun when one of the armrests on your areo bars comes loose and you almost fly off your bike as your forearm swings around wildly while your going 30 miles per hour.

#10 Be sure to make certain your feet are good and soaking wet from the swim while you attempt to put on your socks and bike shoes. The bunching that follows will provide entertainment throughout your bike and run.

#11 Make sure to over hydrate so that even after peeing in your wetsuit on the swim course (oh don’t look at me like that, everyone does it), you still have to make a choice as to if you want to pee while sitting on the grass in transition or duck into the bushes on your run. Bonus if you’re wearing a bright pink trisuit and everyone running past you on the trail knows what you’re doing.

#12 Don’t practice transitions and getting out of your wetsuit quickly. It will be a great source of amusement to your fellow competitors when you trip over your own feet, land on your butt and roll around on the ground in the transition area yelling, “GET IT OFF ME!!!” *note, this will not be amusing if you are in the aisle blocking someone from getting their bike in and out and could result in tire tracks across your face.

#13 Forget how the mutli sport function on your Garmin works and hit the wrong button immediately after exiting the swim.

#14 Hammer out a super hard pace on the bike for the entire course as if you don’t have to run afterwards, so that your legs are jello and you are disoriented when transitioning to the run. Bonus points if you run into a tree.

#15 DO… have a sense of humor about it all, because if you finished the race upright and walked away with a medal, it really is pretty damn funny.


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