Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Notice What Happens

Thank you all so much for all the support and encouragement on my last post. I’ve given the blog a new title and a pretty new look which will help make the transition to a less running-focused blog. I’m excited to still keep up the blog and keep sharing my adventures with you all.

I don’t know exactly how this is going to work- I still have so much to report and talk about but I don’t want to feel obligated to keep a detailed record of all my activities. So I’ll be leaving out a bunch of stuff… it’s weird! But that is the point. It’s kind of an experiment.

The goal is to allow myself to remove myself from the pressure of big goals and the competition I impose on myself. I want to experience things without stressing about the stats, the rankings, the feedback. In addition to not blogging about all my training, I’m not even “training.” I’m not running any big races this summer or fall. I’m just going with the flow and doing what I want.

So far, it is great! Here’s a quick list of cool stuff I’ve done lately:
- Big ol’ bike event called the Petal Pedal with Alisa a couple weeks ago. It was super hard but so fun!
- Yoga! Lots. Love! I am participating in a “Yogathon” fundraiser which I will post more about in the future (I don’t quite have my donation page set up yet).
- Running- I’ve been running pretty regularly, I’ve gone with Zach a few times and that is great. We went for a crazy trail run last night from Washington Park all the way up to Council Crest. It was amazing!
- Mountain biking up in Forest Park last week and we’re going again this week.
- Hiked up near Mt St Helens a couple weeks ago. We’re planning more hikes and backpacking and camping.

I’ve been busy with social stuff too- we had a big birthday party at our house for Deana’s 30th last weekend and it was amazing. It was great to have a big celebration for such a wonderful girl. This coming weekend my parents and brother and sister-in-law are coming into town and we’re all heading out to the coast for a few days. It will be wonderful to spend some quality time together as a family! We all really need this. I’m hoping to make it an annual tradition.

So I’m not sticking to a schedule, but it’s more than that. I’m giving myself a chance to maybe find an identity beyond just “runner.” Don’t get me wrong, I love being a runner and I’m very very proud of that. But I know I’m more than that, I’m just not exactly sure what. I am trying to figure that out. Is there room in my life for more? And when it comes to running, I’m interested to discover what the activity means to me if I don’t get the constant gratification of nailing tough workouts or finishing big races. How important has that been to me? Can I just let it go? We’ll see.

One last thing. In yoga tonight, the instructor said something that really stuck with me. Something that is very helpful to life outside of the studio. Of course, this happens a lot. Today, she told us to “notice what happens” when we made a small adjustment in some pose. Make a change, and then just observe the effect. That is what I’m doing now.

Notice what happens when you stop caring what people think.

Notice what happens when you accept yourself exactly as you are.

Notice what happens when you let your path unfold before you.

Notice what happens when you let go.

Breathe, open your heart, and notice what happens.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A new direction

Fully aware of how dramatic I sound, let me make an announcement regarding this blog.

Running Stories has existed for almost 5 years. Over 695 posts I have shared “the tales of my training.” I have with very few exceptions logged every single run I’ve taken, and I have written a detailed report of every single race I’ve participated in. I have achieved a lot in my running career and this blog has been a witness to all but the very earliest days.

I have reached a crossroads in my life and I don’t think the running blog is a productive thing for me anymore. All the changes I’ve made in my heart lately need to be reflected in my life, and considering this blog is a big part of my life, it needs to change too. To summarize the product of months of self-introspection, discussion with my friends and family, meditation, and therapy, I need to change my focus. I need to think less about how the outside world perceives me, and more on how I see myself. I have spent years of my life trying to fit a mold of the person I thought I should be, and it has worn me down. I don’t know who I am or what I want. I am deeply insecure. That has to change. I know that I’m already taking a huge step in the right direction by acknowledging this, and while I know I have a long way to go, I believe I can do this. I am going to do everything I can to develop a real sense of self and identity. I know it’s not going to be easy, and I know this is something I will… we ALL will … deal with our whole lives. But this is an especially pivotal time of my life and I am determined to take control.

Running has been a huge part of my life for a few years now, and it has absolutely been a positive thing. It is a huge part of who I am, and that will never change. But certain aspects my running life I take too seriously, too personally, and it has to change. I know this is not necessarily an issue for most people, and I envy that! But for me, it can be too much.

In particular, I care too much about what people think of me as a runner. I want to impress you all every single day. Even though I post about every run, good or bad, I feel great shame or pride when I submit it for your judgment. I know NONE of you care in the slightest about the specifics of my training; I completely realize this is all in my head. But I go to great lengths to impress everyone. To show how strong I am. I think that maybe if everyone sees me finish another marathon, finish an Ironman, win my age division in a race, then they will think I am really something. But no matter how much praise I receive it doesn’t impress ME. Because it isn’t what I really need.

Let me go back and explain quickly how this all came about. When I finished the Ironman last November, I thought it would change my life. I thought it would bump me up to a higher level of being, that I would suddenly know something new and revealing about myself. But it was indescribably empty. The disappointment was crushing. I had been working for months to achieve this goal and the result was “meh.” I spent the day after the Ironman with Inga and she planted a seed in my head that day about living in the present, and accepting yourself for who you are today, and not always trying to achieve something big. We did some yoga that day and the symbolism of the scene was not lost on me…  my tight, wounded, aching body, so sore I could hardly move. I was wearing head-to-toe Ironman finisher gear, talking about how hard I had worked training for the Ironman. Inga was stretched gracefully out before me, her attire so simple and humble and she was telling me about how her yoga teacher training had taught her so much about herself. This was the single moment that changed my life.

The following months were incredibly difficult time in my life, and I’m so grateful that I had that insight before the shit hit the fan, because I don’t think I could have got through it otherwise. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and shortly after with breast cancer. She has undergone surgery and radiation and is now thankfully cancer-free, but the Parkinson’s is here to stay. There is no cure. She is doing well, and we have grown much closer through all this, so that is a good thing. But it was really, really hard on me. I started having anxiety attacks and completely lost my usually positive attitude. The winter was long and dark and just awful. I finally started seeing a therapist and I FINALLY started doing yoga. Those two things in conjunction brought me back and to where I am today. It’s still a struggle, I have good days and bad… but I’m working on it. And now that I can get through daily life, I am trying to work on the deeper issues that have been holding me back. I’m taking on a whole new attitude towards life and this is all part of that.

So, ya. There you go! Back to this whole blog thing.

I don’t want to keep this running blog the same as I have all this time. It’s got to change. I thought about just ending it, but I don’t think I can do that. I like writing and sharing and I like all of you!! I’ve made a lot of friends here – local runners both in Portland and the Bay Area that I’ve met and have grown to be real close friends, runners and triathletes that live in different countries that I hope to visit someday, and a lot of others that I feel close to even if we haven’t met because we’ve shared so much in our blogs. I appreciate your support so much, you don’t even know. And even if you don’t get to give me feedback on my running, I need your encouragement on everything else. I’ve developed relationships here and I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that.

I’m not sure exactly what is going to happen here… I am pretty sure I’m going to keep posting but I’ll give the whole blog a new title and a makeover. But it’ll still be runningstories.blogspot.com so your feeds will still work. I don’t know what the new blog will look like or sound like or how often I will post. All I know is that I will not be posting stats on my runs. It’s going to be more all-inclusive, more well-rounded. There WILL be a lot of pictures I’m sure. There will hopefully be more creative and better writing since I won’t be pressured to update on any particular schedule. There will be talk of yoga, hiking, traveling. And there will be plenty of running talk too. I am not going to STOP running! It’s not going to always (or ever?) be this serious and dramatic. That isn’t me. It’s killed me to not use tons of exclamation points throughout this post. (!!!!!)

I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. I haven’t always been completely open about this stuff and I know I’ve deceived you in some way by leaving it out. You all have been nothing but wonderful to me and I thank you for that. Stick with me here, I don’t know where we’re going but I’m sure it will be an adventure.



Sunday, June 13, 2010

Helvetia Half Marathon Race Report

Saturday I ran the Helvetia Half Marathon as part of the most fantastic weekend ever. The race was really only just OK, but it glowed in the atmosphere created by all my amazing friends and the glorious weather.

My friend Inga flew in Friday afternoon and we spent the whole day talking and laughing and looking at old pictures and eating and drinking. She stayed over at Deana and Dana’s, which was smart because at least I had a nice night’s sleep instead of staying up all night visiting. I slept great and Zach and I picked all three girls up early Saturday morning and picked up right where we left off.

We were delayed in traffic and got to the start only a few minutes to spare. I stopped off at a gas station to use the restroom which was a genius idea because the lines were crazy. It’s a pretty big race, nearly 5,000 total runners between the half and 10k. (Most ran the half). I lined up and happened to be right next to a friend, Lori so we said hi and good luck. I was also right behind Paula, who is the race director and founder of “Run with Paula” events. She runs her own race every time! Pretty cool. I ended up seeing her a few times through the race (she beat me by quite a bit) and talked to her for a couple minutes after the race. She is super nice.

I didn’t have much in mind for this race, no real strategy or goals… I  knew it would be hard even though I have been running pretty decent  mileage. I figured I would try to run close to 8:00 miles. There are some BIG hills on this course so I didn’t know how much time that would cost me. So in summary, my strategy was 8:00 miles ish, and hang on through the hills.  

I got off to a good start. Well, more like a “too good to be true” start. I was lined up way too close to the front which I need to stop doing. I ran my first mile in 7:28 and knew that was too fast, even though it felt easy enough. I made my self slow down and the next couple miles came in still sub-8 but slower. I was getting passed by a ton of people since I started off too fast and too far up, so that sucked. Otherwise, so far so good.

Then, the hills. I know the route well because I bike out here pretty often. So I pretty much knew what was coming. We turned a corner and sure enough, big daddy hill coming up. I chugged up it. Then we went down a screaming downhill which and headed up some more small hills. I was feeling ok but I knew I couldn’t hang on for long. We hit the turnaround and I took a Hammer Gel.

I picked the pace back up for a few miles after the hilly section. It was actually really flat in the last half so in theory a person could run a strong negative split in this race. That is not my style though, clearly! I saw Zach and the girls (including Amy) at about mile 8.75 and they cheered super loud which gave me a big boost. It didn’t really last though. My last four miles were slower but consistent at least, and I did not give in to my urge to walk at any point in the race. It was super sunny but not very warm and I was actually pretty comfortable. Just tired.

Finally I saw the stadium in the distance and I ran really hard for the last quarter mile or so. I saw Amy, Deana, Dana, and Inga at the entrance to the stadium and then I saw Zach right near the finish line. I was really happy to be done! I felt pretty decent, especially compared to how I ended the Eugene Marathon last month.. I found Zach and then chatted with Paula, and then reunited with the girls and got some water and oranges. We hung out for a bit and then headed out to enjoy the beautiful sunny day.

Official results:

1:48:20 (8:16 pace)
15/310 AG


1  7:28
2  7:48
3  7:52
4  8:13
5  9:04
6  8:09
7  8:06
8  7:58
9  8:07
10  8:30
11  8:31
12  8:27
13  8:28
0.22 per garmin 1:34

I’m not particularly pleased with my finish time, but not really disappointed either. It was a tough run and I did my best. And like I said, it was such a fun weekend overall and the race was a big part of that! It was a great race and I would definitely recommend it. Probably a good idea to train on some hills!

After the race we headed back to Portland and hit up the farmer’s market, hung out down at the waterfront with all the Rose Festival craziness, and then Zach made an awesome dinner for all of us. We stayed up late drinking wine, singing, laughing, and having a great time. Today was more of the same and Inga flew out tonight. I’m incredibly lucky to have such incredible friends and such a sweet husband. :)


Lots of pictures:

At the starting line, Lori is behind me in the blue shirt and white hat:


And we’re off:


The crew waiting for the runners to come through about mile 8.75:


Here I come, feeling pretty tired but pumped by the cheering section!

DSC_0080 DSC_0091

Finishing kick:


Just crossed the finish line and smiling:


Chatting with Paula, the race director. She’s super sweet!


These girls make me feel like such a super star:


Chatting with Amy, Lori, and the girls after the race:


Post-race eating and shopping at the Farmer’s Market:





Dragon Boat races down on the waterfront:


DSC_0056 DSC_0071DSC_0127

Delicious dinner prepared for all of us by Zach. 5 courses: all local, gluten-free and paired with delicious wine. I love him!!

DSC_0192 DSC_0222 DSC_0227

Friday, June 11, 2010


  Summer may finally be here in Portland… after a record-breaking rainy spring, we may finally be getting sunshine. Just to summarize the source of all the complaining- it has rained 52 of the last 67 days and June is already the second wettest on record. This is a lot, even for a city known for it’s rain!

But, the good stuff is on the way. With forecasts in the 80’s for the weekend, Portlanders are going to be one happy bunch. Especially this Portlander, because my bestestest friend Inga arrives in just a few hours for the weekend! We’ve been best friends for our whole lives, since kindergarden. She’s an incredible person- funny, warm, creative, kind, and beautiful. I freaking love her. I can’t wait to spend the weekend with her and Deana and Dana and Zach. We always have such a good time together!! Of course there will be lots of photos.

Speaking of photos, here are a bunch from Portland’s International Test Rose Garden. Zach and I went up there Monday afternoon during a break in the rain. Portland is know as the Rose City and we’re in the middle of the Rose Festival, so I just had to get up there and see the gardens in full bloom. Plus we wanted to play with our sweet new camera!

Before the pics, let me quick update my workouts for the week:

8.0 miles/1:11:25/8:56 average pace
Pretty sure I included this in my last post...

Tuesday: bike
12 miles with Alisa on the Springwater Trail. This was her first ride back after a nasty crash last week and she did great. She was a bit nervous but we took it easy and by the end I think her confidence was way up. She’s awesome.

4.5 miles/35:48/7:57 average pace
Waterfront loop at a quick pace. My first mile was 8:20 and my last mile was 7:39 or something. It was hard!

3.0 miles/no watch
Super quick run through Northwest. Didn’t wear my watch or anything but tried to keep the pace really easy. I was going to go to yoga but ended up at happy hour instead… I need to get back on the yoga train.

I have that Helvetia Half Marathon tomorrow (Saturday) and have pretty low expectations for it. It’s going to be warm and I think it’s pretty hilly, so we’ll see. I’ll post a race report by Monday!

Ok, picture time. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend everyone! :)



DSC_0008DSC_0044 DSC_0014 DSC_0016 DSC_0019 DSC_0025 DSC_0039 DSC_0041

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Quick Update and Newport Marathon Photos

It’ll be a quick update because I had a very light week last week.. the focus was all on Zach and his big marathon on Saturday. That’s my excuse anyway! I only ran twice, did yoga twice, and that’s it. Quickie recap:

Monday: rest

4.5 miles/40:47/9:04 average pace
Easy waterfront loop

Tuesday pm: Yin Yoga with Amy 

Wednesday: rest

8.0 miles/1:06:58/8:22 average pace
I ran 3 miles by myself right after work up in Northwest @ 8:50 pace, then I met Zach at home and we did 5 miles together @ 8:06 pace. It was tough tempo-type run for me and a walk in the park for Zach! It was fun to run with him right before his race.

Friday, Saturday: rest (Newport)

Sunday pm: Yin Yoga

That’s all I did last week, a measly 12.5 miles! That’s fine though. I was going to run Sunday but decided to bag it and spend the day with my marathoner husband – we went out for brunch, sat in the hot tub, and listened to the details of his epic day. It was a great day!

I picked it right back up this week though and got out for a good run yesterday:

8.0 miles/1:11:28/8:56 average pace
Nice run along the waterfront/Springwater. It was finally nice and warm out so I enjoyed running in the sun and took the pace easy.

Today I’m about to head out on a little bike ride with Alisa, who is recovering from a pretty nasty bike crash last week- I’m eager to go out on her first post-crash ride with her and see her build her confidence back up. She’s well into her training for her first Half Ironman and this is a pretty significant bump in the road, but she’s going to get past it! Thankfully she wasn’t hurt seriously and her bike is fine, and she’s got a great attitude. I’ll report back later this week hopefully, and I will hopefully have more runs to report!

Saturday I am running the Helvetia Half Marathon and I have no idea what to expect- it’s just for fun so I’m not expecting any big PR or anything! Plus it’s a hilly course and it’s supposed to be a hot day. I’ve got all my excuses lined up and ready to roll! :P The best one is that my bestie Inga is flying up from Phoenix and we’re going to probably spend the weekend talking and laughing and being silly and sappy and the race is just a part of the weekend’s festivities. She is coming to spectate with Deana and Dana and Zach, it’ll be a little IMAZ spectator reunion! So fun. So if I don’t update before then, I’ll be back with a race report asap!

Let’s get to the good stuff: Pictures from Newport! Zach is going to update his blog very soon with a great race report, so I won’t spoil it for you. I specifically left out the finish line photo that shows his time, so you’ll have to read the report. :P The photos tell a lot of the story though!

Congratulations Zach on an amazing race, it was fun to watch and I am so proud of you!!! :)


Friday, Race Eve:

On the road to Newport:


Cut over from the highway to check out part of the course:


Flat and scenic!



Host hotel:


Checking in at the mini expo:   


View of Yaquina Bay Bridge from our hotel room:




Exploring the waterfront the evening before the race:

DSC_0050 DSC_0055

Dinner at the hotel with a great view:


DSC_0085 DSC_0089 DSC_0100 DSC_0104

DSC_0108 DSC_0115 DSC_0126DSC_0079


Saturday, Race Day:

Walking down to the start:


At the race start area:

DSC_0142 DSC_0148

And they’re off!


A few pictures as I walked back toward the hotel:

DSC_0168 DSC_0171 DSC_0172 DSC_0174 DSC_0176

Here comes Zach along the boardwalk about mile 4:

DSC_0189 DSC_0190

I drove out to Toledo and made my way down to the turnaround point about mile 15. Here comes Zach:


And here he is after turning around and heading back toward Newport:

DSC_0206 DSC_0209

Approaching the finish line! They had to run down that steep hill and then round a sharp corner, not fun! But he was SO glad to be finishing:

DSC_0222 DSC_0224    

After the finish- pouring water bottle on his head:


This says it all!


Exhausted but proud:


Finisher shirt:


Post-race, walking down the boardwalk to lunch:

DSC_0255 DSC_0257

At Rogue:

DSC_0268 DSC_0272

Salt water taffy at the souvenir shop:


Smashed souvenir penny!



Thanks for reading!!