Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coming up for air

So much to say, so little time or energy. I can’t even compose a complete sentence (see previous sentence). This calls for bullet points!

- Metaphors/Phrases I would use in sentences about how busy I am, if I could compose a complete sentence: A lot on my  plate, Juggling, Spinning Plates (you know, like the circus thing? This lookss really weird written down), Busy Bee, Over-extended, Spread thin, Etc..

- My life is now officially centered around the new house and the 1,000 things that need to be done. We are about 75% done with painting – we are painting the entire interior. Literally every single non-floor surface in the house. It’s a lot of work but it looks amazing. Once that is done the other 999 projects can begin. Like moving. A more complete house update with lots of pictures will eventually be posted.

- Things I would not have committed to if I had known we were buying a house/if I knew how much work it would be: Book Club, Yogathon, (plea for donations will eventually be posted), Marathon Training, Softball League

- Yoga and climbing are both officially on the back burner. Instead of feeling bad about it, I just decided to take a few weeks off so I can take care of these initial big house projects and moving.

- I’m training for a marathon! I may shelve yoga and climbing, but no one puts running in a corner. It takes a lot of energy to run 16 miles and then paint for 8 hours but I’m doing it (so is Zach). This is the first time my marathon training is not my primary focus in life. We’ll see how that affects the outcome. I’m getting my miles in and it’s actually going pretty great.

- Some highlights from last week’s training:

---- My first speed work in like a year! 6 x 0.5 mile intervals at something like a 7:15 pace average. Not bad!

---- Long run of 16 miles with 10 at 8:24 pace. They were supposed to be “Goal Pace” but I don’t really have a goal yet. So I just went for it! Felt great and just cruised along.

---- Total miles for last week: 45! The next three weeks are 50+ and then I taper. Yikes.

- We DNS a trail race we were signed up for on Saturday (see all previous posts about being over-extended, having an entire house to paint, etc). It was 2+ hours away and we just didn’t have the time to spare. We got our miles in near home and then got back to work. It was a cheap entry fee so that’s fine. Moving on.

- Going with the flow! Taking it day by day! Trying to enjoy the process and remember this is a GOOD thing and quit complaining! ETC!

- Well I think that’s it for now. Sorry no photos! There will be plenty soon. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

running stories

A quick note- I changed the title of my blog back to "running stories." My mind was wandering as I was out for a run this week, and I was thinking about my most recent blog post and the blog in general. I decided that I really like the name "running stories" and that it should keep that original title. I had that name for so long, and just changed it to "creating space" last June, but I was ready to change it back.

When I first posted about going in a New Direction,  I was in a place where I really needed a change in my life. I wanted to take my focus away from training hard and racing, and spend more time looking inward and figuring out what really drives me. I knew running was important to me, but I felt like it was covering up a deeper need for validation. I specifically felt like I was reaching out for validation from my readers hoping that your words would fill something inside of me. I renamed the blog because needed "permission" from myself to stop posting the stats of every single run. I hoped that would help me take the emphasis and importance off of my running performance, and force me to find that satisfaction from other sources.

Not sure I figured it out just yet, but I do think I made some progress. I do think that changing the name allowed me to open up quite a bit about my feelings and my life, and I am happy with that change. I also like not posting as much about my running, because that always felt like such an obligation.

That said, I have also realized that running IS important to me. I have started expanding my horizons with yoga, climbing, etc.. but the truth is I am a runner through and through. As things change in my life, running is the thread that follows through it all. I do still think that I need to find satisfaction in a broader range of activities, but I still want to run, train, and race. I love posting my race reports and occasionally posting about specific runs. And darnit, this is my blog and I'll do what I want!

So that's the update. It's "running stories" again. I will continue creating space in my life for other pursuits and loves, and I will keep trying to find room in my life for the present. I haven't lost sight of that goal. But in seeking that balance, I decided I do want to tip the scales back towards running just a little.

Thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 Miler Race Report

Zach and I spent a wonderful weekend in eastern Oregon for the Peterson Ridge Rumble. The race was awesome, the people were all very nice, and the landscape out there is breathtaking.

On our way into Bend, we stopped at Smith Rock State Park for a bit to take some pictures and check out the climbers. Smith Rock is one of the great places for rock climbing in the western US and we are planning on going climbing there this summer. Exciting! After that quick stop, we spent the afternoon in Bend which has a super cute downtown area and a kickass running store where we picked up our race numbers. While there, the nice folks at Foot Zone helped me find a new pair of trail shoes (which I did not wear for the race- I know that’s rule #1 about racing but they are amazing and I was tempted!) and hooked me up with a free pair of socks and a t-shirt for Zach. Love that place. Zach had been there a couple times and couldn’t stop talking about how great they were and he was right! We checked out a couple antique stores and hit the road.

Late in the afternoon we drove to the tiny town of Sisters, about 20 miles away. I took a few pictures on the way, the sky was amazing and the views of the mountains were just incredible. Sisters is just as cute as little western towns come and we quickly found our hotel. They had upgraded us to a suite which was gorgeous! It was huge and fancy and had a Jacuzzi tub. We went out for dinner at Three Creeks Brewing where we met a couple other runners and listened to some interesting live local music.

So in summary, before I get to the race report, I highly recommend the following things: Smith Rock, Foot Zone running store, Best Western Ponderosa Inn, and Three Creeks Brewing. As well as the towns of Bend and Sisters, the state of Oregon in general, and the sport of rock climbing.

Sunday morning we got up and fixed ourselves breakfast in our deluxe suite’s kitchen. We checked the weather and it was in the upper 30s with temps rising gradually throughout the morning. The sky was partly cloudy and it looked like we were going to stay dry which is always a treat. I wore capri tights, a short-sleeve shirt, arm warmers and gloves. We both also carried Gu and our own water since there were only 3 or 4 aid stations out there several miles apart. We drove the short distance to the start at Sisters Middle School and used the restrooms in the gym. We waited in there until 10 minutes before 9:00 and walked to the start. There were less than a couple hundred people doing the 20 miler (the 40 milers took off an hour earlier) so it was intimate. We listened to the instructions (“follow the yellow Montrail ribbons”) and then we were off!

My plan was to run pretty conservatively since I didn’t know how big the hills would be. I was also slightly concerned that the elevation (about 3500 ft) would cost me some time but that turned out to be a total non-issue. I figured I would have to walk some of the hills, plus stop at the aid stations, so I was hoping to average under 11:00 pace with all that.

The first three or so miles were really flat and mostly on a dirt road. I kept the pace easy- 8:30-9:00 according to my Garmin (which would become useless later, stay tuned!). Finally we turned onto a single track trail and the real trail running began. We immediately hit a little ridge that we had to climb up and then down the other side. There were switchbacks for a bit and then it got a little steep and rocky, but I didn’t have to walk. I was in a line of people which makes pacing easy (you have no options!). The descent on the other side was pretty technical too so we weren’t going that fast. Finally, the ridge was behind us and the trail flattened out for the most part.

We climbed gradually for several miles and the crowd thinned out. The forest was pretty open (not super dense like around here) so I could mostly see runners a ways ahead of me. This was important because there were several places where I almost turned the wrong way. The ribbons were there, but not always very obvious. I had people behind me though and they kept me on track. This was kind of the trend for the next several miles- a couple of people pacing off me and no one in sight ahead of me. Every once in a while I caught up to someone, like after aid stations, or someone passed me and I could just follow them for a while.

My Garmin was telling me I was running between 8:30 and 10:30 pace, depending on the hills, but most were coming in around 9:30. At mile 12 my average pace was 9:30 but then the GPS lost its signal and never got it back. This was a challenging thing because after that I had no idea how far we had left or what pace I was running. As the second half of the course descended again I kept a good pace and ran along with most of the same people from before. I figured I was keeping a 9:30 pace and thought I would finish in 3:10, so I rationed out my energy based on that.

I did stop at the aid stations as planned: drank water twice and refilled my fuel belt once. I ate 3 Gu’s along the way too. The course was really beautiful and I was enjoying the scenery. There were never any really tough climbs, but the trail was rather technical and rocky in many places. In fact, I tripped and fell a few times. I scraped my leg on one fall (landed on a stick I think) but otherwise no harm done. The weird thing was that the trail was not muddy at all so I got covered in regular dirt. Not mud! Fascinating.

We hit the little ridge again and I was able to run up it and back down. Some people were walking at this point so I felt really proud that I was still running. I kept thinking “Good thing I’ve been doing all those runs on the Wildwood!” which I think is a much more difficult trail.

Finally I got back to the dirt road and knew the finish was a couple miles away. I was still operating under the assumption that I would finish in about 3:10, so I started picking up the pace a bit. I was definitely tired, but still had enough gas in the tank to pick off a few runners and push to the finish. As I was passing this older guy I joked “are we there yet?” and he said “just over a mile to go!” and I laughed. Wait, what? I thought we were way closer. We were still in the forest but I figured the school would pop out around the corner any moment now. Well I was pretty disappointed as I kept running and the old guy was right, we were NOT close to the finish. At this point I was really hurting due to my ridiculous pace. I finally saw Zach and he was taking pictures, and told me the finish was just across the road and through the school parking lot. I pushed through, saw the finish banner along the track and someone yelled “Just once around and you’re done!” What?? FML! I couldn’t believe it. Stupid track finish. All the way around and finally I crossed the finish line.

Official finish time: 3:19:44 (9:59 pace)

91/193 overall

34/91 Females

18/46 (30-39 AG)

So clearly I miscalculated somewhere… I think my Garmin was off for the first part and the 9:30 was not quite right. The course could have been long, but not by much. It is listed on the website as being 20.3 miles which would give me a 9:50 pace but still. Anyway, I learned my lesson: pay attention on the way out so you know when to expect the finish line on your return. Pretty funny. I guess it’s good because I left it all out there and pushed for longer than I thought I could. I actually felt really good the whole time until that last bit, so I think I was going a little easy on myself.

I finished and got a pair of “Ridge Rumble” socks and a bottle of water. After cooling down for a bit I talked to Zach and we shared our race stories. He did really awesome- finished in 2:45 with an 8:15 pace. He is an amazing trail runner!! A few minutes later the first and second place 40 mile guys came in- crazy! They had started one hour earlier but that is still crazy fast. I talked to them both and the race director and they were all cool. That’s the nice thing about doing small races!
We hit up the burrito bar- an actual full-on burrito bar from a local restaurant! I made a huge burrito and drank a coke, delicious! Best post race food ever. They had brownies too which I snagged for later. We headed back to our hotel where we had a late 2:00 check out and took a soak in the Jacuzzi tub. When we checked out we thanked the manager for the upgraded suite and the great service. We’ll definitely stay there if we go back next year!

We drove back to Portland and talked about our races and enjoyed the scenery again. Back home we stuffed ourselves with pizza and beer and crashed into bed early. We had a really amazing weekend from start to finish- it was a nice getaway weekend and awesome trail run. I would highly recommend this race to everyone!!

My legs feel great today, just a little sore. I’m taking this week easy to fully recover and then hitting the marathon training hard for the next few weeks. The Newport Marathon is 8 weeks away and based on this weekend I’m feeling great about my training!

Thanks for reading everyone!

Lots of pictures:


  DSC_0127 DSC_0137Smith Rock DSC_0138 DSC_0145 DSC_0158 DSC_0183 DSC_0187 DSC_0191 DSC_0199


  DSC_0205 DSC_0217 DSC_0227 DSC_0232 DSC_0260

FinishDSC_0263 DSC_0268


Friday, April 08, 2011


I made an observation this week. It’s pretty abstract and probably hard to articulate, but I feel like exploring it and sharing so let’s give it a shot.

I’ve been reading back through my blog the last couple of weeks- I did a post for Aron’s blog about my first Boston Marathon, so I was reading back to April 2007 to refresh my memory. It was interesting to see what was going on with my running and in my life in general. It kind of hooked me, and so during slow times at work I read more old posts.

A few things jumped out at me. First, a running observation: I run the same pace now as I when I was a new runner. I started my blog in November 2005 after running my first marathon. I may have done some slower training runs back then, but my race paces were identical to times I have run in the last two years. My fastest and slowest times in all distances are super close. I think the more interesting part of this is that I was kind of fast from the very beginning. I got a little faster, but never made those double-digit PR’s that most people get in their first years of running. My focus has changed a lot and I would say that technically, looking at the numbers, I have “peaked” but that is mostly because I am not as motivated to push myself as hard and suffer as much in racing. I decided it’s not that fun and I’d rather pursue other goals. (for more on this topic, see all my posts over the last two years)

My other observation is a bigger, more universal-truth type thing. (This is where it’s going to get abstract and kind of stream-of-consciousness so buckle up.) Reading back over 5 ½ years of blog entries, I had this weird sense of recognition. I felt a familiarity with the writing and the stories. I remembered writing them, and I remember the feelings I had. I saw where I had perfectly articulated the emotions of a certain event, and I vaguely recalled that some of my sentiments were actually lies.

I saw a trend in openness, a real range of the availability of my true self. At first, I was super cagey and didn’t even allow comments. I never even hinted at where I lived, and never posted pictures. Hey, it was early in the blog trend and I was paranoid! This was pre-facebook and people still had a sense of privacy. Clearly, that dissolved and while I’ll never post my address or pictures of me in my underwear, I’m pretty open. But beyond that, I used to hide an enormous portion of my personal life and feelings. I only blogged about running and running-related things. Maybe some vacation pictures here and there, and I would hint at big events in my life, but that’s it. Eventually, the line between my “personal” and “running” life became blurry and I shared more. Then I took a big leap last year when I changed the name of this blog and opened WAY up about all the stuff going on in my life. You still don’t get all the nitty-gritty, and believe me, you don’t want to. This will never be a Stress and Anxiety blog. That would be no fun for anyone! I like this as an outlet to share the highlights of my life, the big accomplishments and beautiful places and good times. But, I’ll never hide the truth when I’m going through a rough time.

No matter how I presented myself and my life through all those posts, there was a true voice there. As I read through them, I recognized myself.

I sensed my personality coming through in every sentence. I laughed at my jokes, and remembered thinking that was hilarious when I wrote it. I felt my pain as I read about struggling though a tough race or a scary event in my life. I recognized the pride I felt… the pride that was sometimes so completely pure and sometimes entirely manufactured and false. I recognized times when I was absolutely sure of myself and times when my identity was hanging by a thread.

I guess what I’m saying is that reading back through my blog gave me a pretty good idea of who I am. It sounds weird that I could learn such a valuable thing from a silly running blog, but maybe not. I mean, it is essentially a journal, which is of course a brilliant tool for that. It is a tool for introspection, and then later, retrospection.

This blog has served different purposes through its life- at first as a just-the-facts running log, then a place to seek out feedback and advice, and finally just an all-out mind dump. To be honest, I don’t really care too much anymore about the feedback. I know this isn’t the most popular blog and I don’t get tons of comments, but that’s fine. I love sharing pictures and stories and posting about whatever I want. The true and only audience of this blog is me.

The one thing that has been present and obvious from the very beginning is that I love to write. I don’t want to be a writer or have to meet any standards whatsoever (ha!) but I just want to write. It’s a creative outlet, it’s fun, and I love it. And I’m good at it. More than anything, when I was reading back through all my posts, I was just enjoying the writing. I guess I never really gave myself credit for that before.

I realize that I never gave myself credit for a lot of things, really.

I learned a lot about myself through this exercise of studying the blog archives. I got a sense of myself, of my personality. I’ve always struggled with my self-esteem and maybe this is a bit of a breakthrough? I liked the person I read about. She’s got a good sense of humor, a generous spirit, and a sense of adventure. She’s a good athlete and a good writer.

If I can accept that She is Me, that would be everything.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Last Friday we got the key to our new home.


We spent the evening just exploring around, thinking about how to make it Ours.


Zach’s kitchen:

Zach's KitchenRoses 

Zach immediately started digging into some yard work:

Zach yard work

I drank a beer above a sea of lilies:

Stump beer

And Zach smoked a celebratory cigar

Zach cigar

We stayed the night on an air mattress and woke up early to get started on a busy day. We headed out for an 8 mile run to explore the neighborhood and I took along my camera:

Leaving the house around 7:00 am


Beautiful Reed College:


Golf course:


Zach freezing along the route:


Beautiful trees in the park (I actually took this pic later in the day, it was not sunny when we were running):


On the Springwater trail – I’ve been here lots of times!


Johnson Creek:


Back along the golf course:


It was a gorgeous run!! But it was quite hilly too- I figure this will force me to be a better hill runner (looking on the bright side).


We spent the weekend moving a few things from storage, getting flooring estimates, and doing other errands. We got a few things done but not much… it is going to be a long process. Turns out, even with this big change, our lives still include all the things they did before (marathon training schedules, jobs, social life, volunteering responsibilities, travel plans, etc etc etc).

We are not going to move in for a while, at least a few weeks. We are doing a few minor renovations and then need to furnish and decorate the entire house, plus move all our stuff from the apartment. We’re going to take our time and do this right. I am so excited – we both are. We feel like we found our perfect house and can’t wait to get settled in. I will post lots more pics as we make progress!

I’m skipping any running updates here- will catch up next time. The training is coming right along and I’m feeling good. We are running the Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 mile trail race this Sunday and I will post a report asap. It’s going to be fun!

Here are a few last pics- I took them today along the waterfront. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom and are just breathtaking. Such a wonderful place to run. I love Portland!

Thank you for reading! :)

 Cherry1 Cherry2 April 5 Cherry3