Inner Ramblings on a Long Run.

The weather pleasantly surprised us for yesterday’s 18.6 mile run. It was cold and drizzly at the start, but the rain cleared, and it ended up being beautiful running weather. Although I saw some of my friends at the start, I ran the race entirely alone because Kerry was running a different distance, and I wasn’t able to connect with Jenny beforehand. (It wouldn’t have mattered if I had. She’s quite a bit faster than I am.) Running alone for a long distance is something I haven’t done in a while. I discovered that I’m still good at being in my head for a few hours at a time. And what I heard in my own head made me realize that I have lots of other work to do. Continue reading

More Racing.

Yesterday, I ran the Decker Challenge, which is a half marathon around Decker Lake in Austin. It’s got some rolling hills and one short and steep hill that I remember doing on a bike back in my early triathlon days. I went out yesterday morning not sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at how the day went. Continue reading

NYC Recap.

I made a promise to myself this weekend: no more running marathons untrained. I finished the NYC marathon for the second time, but it wasn’t pretty. With all of life’s events, including two weeks of being sick, I was trained for about ten miles and ran a solid ten miles. The last sixteen were terrible. There were people walking faster than I was running. I got passed by old people, people in costumes, and even people limping. It was brutal. I finished and that’s always good, but I committed to myself that, going forward, finishing will never be enough. It’s time to do more than finish. It’s time to perform. Continue reading

Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2014.

I’ve had a goofy grin on my face all day. I’m back home from racing Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I got home late last night and stayed up doing laundry and looking through my pictures. I did five loads. I also made a smoothie at midnight with no concern for being noisy or disruptive now that I’m living alone again. It felt good to be in my space after an incredible week away. Today, I’m just grateful for the experience I had and where I am right this minute. Continue reading

About the Bike (An MS 150 Race Report).

This weekend, I participated in the MS 150 from Houston to Austin, which means I rode 162 miles – 100 miles on Saturday and 62 miles on Sunday. I rode with a team and had a grand time. I even got to connect at the overnight point with a dear friend of mine from my childhood. But all the fun aside, this weekend was amazing for me because I rode well. Incredibly well. Knock my socks off well. Especially given that my longest ride on the road this season had only been 18 miles, until yesterday. Continue reading

A Good Austin Day.

My races tend to fall in three categories: races I’m proud of because they were the first of their kind that I completed, races that kicked my butt but that I am proud to have survived, and races that just felt good all around. This past weekend’s Austin Marathon was of the kicked my butt variety. It wasn’t pretty, but I pushed through it and felt damn good about that. Do you like my medal? Continue reading

Fitness Goals for 2014.

I raced the 3M Half Marathon this weekend and am super proud of how I did. My total time was 2 hours and 18 minutes, which translates into 10:34 miles. A year ago, my 5K time averaged 12 minute miles. Now I managed to average 10:34 miles for 13 miles, and I did that after weeks of being away and not training and after running a 10K trail race the day before. I love what that says about how my fitness right now. Continue reading

Run + Done = Happy.

I ran the Portland Marathon harder and faster than any marathon I’ve done before. This was my thirteenth marathon, and I wanted a personal best for lots of reasons, the biggest of which was that I wanted to associate Portland with something really positive. And now I do. I haven’t been able to pull up my official results yet, but my watch time was 4 hours and 53 minutes. This is the first time ever that my marathon time started with a four. My previous best was a 5:12, which happened in New York in 2010. My best this year, before today, was a 5:19, which I did in Barcelona. So 4:53? I’m thrilled.

Even better than my time was all the stuff that happened in my head as I ran. I’ve said before that training is one way of dealing with my own demons and that my physical and emotional well-being are closely linked. This year, I’ve been dealing with more demons than usual, and if my physical improvement and performance are an indicator of anything, my emotional well-being is on the mend. In this race, I never hit a wall.

For the first ten miles, I was just in awe of what I was seeing on my watch. Most of my one-mile splits seemed to start with a 10, rather than an 11 or a 12, which is huge for me.  For the next ten, I was fighting like hell to keep up the pace, which I know faded, but I don’t believe it ever faded to a 12. I’ll have to check my splits, but I think they were mostly 11s once I slowed. I forced myself, at mile 16 and 17, to run up and over the St. John’s bridge when everyone around me was walking. That was huge for my head. I realized then that I would hit a personal best today. It was no longer a question of whether, but of by how much? And once I hit mile 20, I heard myself think, “I can do a 10K no problem.” And I kept going. The physical part was hard, but the mental part felt…effortless.

I had expected to battle with emotions all day today because my heart still feels broken, and I associate so much of the brokenness with this place, but the tears didn’t come until I approached the finish line. And those I am sure were happy tears.

I just felt well today. I was expecting to hurt. I was expecting to be overtaken by sadness at times, but that just didn’t happen. I think a big part of my being okay came from the company I kept yesterday.

My friend Gretchen, who lives in Washington, drove down to spend the day with me. We met at Whidbey Island last November. While she was here, we did something I was hoping to do – we walked up to the top of Mt. Tabor Park and took pictures. We took pictures of the view of Portland, and as we were walking back down, Gretchen spotted a view of Mt. Hood that I would have missed had she not been there telling me to look. Gorgeous, no?

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We also spent some time at a cute little fabric store in the Alberta Arts District and ate lunch at a nearby Thai place. We even pulled into the train station to explore the inside because we were so charmed by the station’s exterior.

Gretchen gave me new and wonderful memories of Portland. That’s what I needed yesterday. I needed to be in this place in the company of a trusted friend.

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Thank you, Gretchen. I’m so grateful that you went out of your way to come here and gifted me with your time. You did my heart good yesterday, which made both yesterday and today incredibly special.

Hood to Coast 2013.

This weekend rocked. I had a ridiculous amount of fun doing a nearly 200-mile running relay from Mt. Hood, east of Portland, to the Oregon coast. My team of twelve consisted of Catherine, Lucinda, Jenn, Eily, Paul, Elizabeth, Eric, Jake, Fred, Mike, Jeanne and me. Catherine and I flew out Wednesday night. The rest of the team arrived on Thursday. We raced Friday and Saturday – as in we raced through the night. Then we flew home on Sunday.  This van decor from another team’s van captured the experience:

Hood to Comatose

Hood to Comatose indeed! I’m equal parts exhausted and exhilarated. And I learned so much.

  1. We had six people in each van, and everyone agreed that the vans reeked about mid-way through the 30-hour event. We had changes of clothes, but still, the stench was awful. And it didn’t bother us one bit because we were having so much fun. Turns out even a cramped and smelly car can be wonderful with the right people.
  2. Each member of the team ran three legs of varying distances and levels of difficulty. My first two were around 6 miles long and hilly. My third was four miles long and relatively flat. I ran my first leg early Friday afternoon, my second leg at 11 at night, and my third leg at 8:30 on Saturday morning. I could handle the running and actually did quite well on each leg. The biggest physical challenge for me was the being up all night aspect of the race. When I had moments to sleep, even 15 minutes here and there, I took them. And when we had over an hour to sleep on a high school gym floor, I passed out cold.
  3. After sleeping on the gym floor, we had the option to shower at the high school before heading back out on the road for our third legs. I took the option and paused momentarily when I realized that the showers were not stalls, but community showers – a pole with multiple spouts. I think I can safely say that never in my nearly forty years have I been willing to shower publicly. But in my exhausted and sleep-deprived state, I showered, and it felt damn good to be clean and feel somewhat awake for a bit.
  4. Oregon is beautiful. I’ve spent quite a bit of time there these past few years, but I hadn’t been since last October, and I caught myself in awe of the place once again. The rental house on the lake, the course through the country, and the beach were all incredibly beautiful. I love Portland and Oregon. They hold a very special place in my heart.
  5. I love hard efforts. This was a hard effort. Our team pulled together, powered through the night, and came out laughing and celebrating on the beach. No tension. No drama. Nothing but smiles and laughter the entire way. When we were done, we were celebrating, not just the effort, but our sheer enjoyment of the company along the way, despite the challenges of the event. There’s really nothing better than doing great things with great people.

Though it may take me a few days to recover, I loved this event. I loved the racing. I loved the company. I loved the environment. I would do this race again in a heartbeat. For sure.