You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2011.

I have been thinking a lot about the start of this whole running business.  The most recent beginning, that is.  It’s amazing how far I’ve come – that is really the thought swirling around in my brain during the start of each run.

The intersection of events:

  • My good friend Honey Badger whom I was hanging out with most  nights after work (mostly at the waterfront practicing yoga moves & laughing uncontrollably) moved to Nashville.
  • The yoga instructor who told me I was the inspiration getting him to the top of some mountain on his bicycle (I got upset; specifically why I couldn’t be my own inspiration).
  • I had also been feeling bad about leaving blu home while I did the spin & yoga class routine.
  • The weather was gorgeous (as in very few days of rain).
  • There had been some conversations circling around running a 5k but the follow through was virtually non-existent.

That is when blu & I hit the trail with a November race date scheduled.

But we tread lightly – as in running the distance between two utility poles, walking three.  Eventually moving up to running two, walking three.  I think I would still be there if I hadn’t run with my pal Mish who pushed the running distance.  And what do you know?  A girl seemed to be holding herself back a bit.  Funny how that happens.

Now, I laugh at the silliness.  Each time I’ve gone out to run this week, I keep thinking about those utility poles.  And then I run my 4+ miles.


Mileage: I have been diligently tracking my mileage and am happy to report a 27% increase in my running distance from May to June.  I logged 56 miles in May but 72.75 miles in June.  BOOYA!

Time: Ten weeks down; 16 to go.

Fundraising: I have been actively fundraising for five weeks & have done it in several waves.  As of this moment, I am 62% on the way to my goal.  I am overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends and family.  Y’all rock something fierce!  I am ahead of my fundraising target – woot woot!!  I am horrible at asking for help (especially asking for money) and am blessed to have the best friends & family a girl could ask for (especially when she is asking for money).  Some of you made my mudrun photos worth $226 (awesome!).  As the donations are wonderful (and I need more…), your support for me is priceless.



This question has stuck with me for the past few weeks:

One year from now, as you are looking back over the last 365 days, what have you accomplished?

Goal planning in reverse.  Thanks to my 2011 personal annual review & my list of 36, for the first time ever, I can answer this question.

Looking forwards & backwards all at the same time, these are the badges I will carry:

  1. I will have completed 23 (maybe more) items from the list of 36 items I must complete by my birthday next year.
  2. I will be sporting a Half Fanatics tee because I earned it.  Specifically, because I ran three half marathons within 90 days.  (My races fall within 76 days of each other.)
  3. I will have posted the photo below on Facebook with the caption “EARNED.”  (So what?  I’ve been dreaming of this since last November.)  It will also be on the back of my car.
  4. I will have this matching sticker with probably the same post on Facebook plus I will be touting this from my rear view window.
  5. Next year, I will be looking back at all the items I completed, experienced, & accomplished from 30,000 feet.  With the plan to cross off one continent marathon of seven from my bucket list.
What will you accomplish in the next year?

I have missed the last two Saturday team practices due to other race events.  I have missed the mission moments and the long runs.  I am not sure if I am responsible for a mission moment at some point during this season.  I hope not because I don’t have a story to share like the mission moments I’ve heard so far.

This morning we were introduced to Mrs. M, a 4th grade school teacher.  She was diagnosed with cancer before this past school year started.   She returned to teach in October and shared with her class what she had been going through and continued to share with them the process as the school year unfolded.  From losing her hair, to growing it back to being in remission.

Besides a touching story between this teacher, her students and their families, I learned something else, more important. Like kids do, her students asked questions about what Mrs. M was going through.  Adults don’t always do that; in fact, I think most of us avoid the subject altogether.  How sad is that?  It makes what a cancer patient goes through incredibly lonely.  I learned so much from my good friend KP and his wife Mousie when she was going through chemotherapy.  But even then, it wasn’t necessarily because I asked questions but because they were incredibly open.

A lesson I’m going to take with me.

So, after the mission moment and the tears, it is time to run.  My schedule had me out for 60 minutes this morning.  Sixty minutes seemed like a long time when in the first mile, my calf started to cramp up.  Keeping my fingers crossed while I write this: I haven’t had any pain or injuries for the past 2 months.  (I’ve been training for 2 months!!)  I wasn’t sure if I didn’t warm up enough this morning.  Or maybe because I ran longer than I was supposed to Tuesday through Thursday.  It was enough pain, I considered calling it a day.  My motto: the best way to deal with pain is to ignore it.

Instead, I continued up the hill and noticed two paths that veered toward the water.  It was not our planned route & there was the possibility I would get in trouble for veering off the map.

But how can a girl resist this?

I had no clue where I was going but to the right of this trail was a tall fence posted with No Trespassing signs.  I ran into a guy walking his dog who told me the trail ends at the old observatory.  My first thought was “great, I bet I will get some good photos.”  Unfortunately, I think observatory really meant observation area.  There was an opening in the fence with a laminated map and instructions on how to get to the water (safer then taking the steep trail I never found).  I ran through the fence and was hoping to cut across the golf course back to the main road.  Instead, I was closing in on my 60 minutes, so I retraced my steps.

Wrecked ship hull in the middle of the Sound

It turned out to be a really good run.  My calf loosened up and after the first mile, the cramping disappeared.  I have been worried my mileage is not where it should be but I have 16 weeks to add eight miles.  Several of my teammates ran the Seattle Rock’n’Roll half marathon this morning and I cannot wait until it is my turn!!

(p.s. If you’re in the Tacoma area on Sunday July 10th, some of my teammates are holding a car wash at the Tacoma Mall by Good Year Tires from 11a-4p.  All donations go towards their Team in Training fundraising!)

Speaking of fundraising: a huge thank you to some lovely ladies who made my horrific mudrun photos worth $226.  And in under 24 hours.  Y’all ROCK!!  (The photos can be viewed on facebook but you have to be my friend…)

I woke up this morning thinking it was Saturday (tenuous statement because I was far from awake).  I was totally bummed because it meant a long run was in store for me.  Really, all I wanted to do was sleep in.  (I should also clarify I took two Benedryl the night before & was down for the count.)  And then I realized it was Friday (still a bummer – still couldn’t sleep in) but it did mean it was a rest day.  I am loving my rest days more and more.  They are also the days where I think “now what?”  It is strange to have free time.

At the same time, I am totally jazzed about running.  And I want to get out and run right now.

Mostly because last night was AWESOME.

Seattle Running Club sponsored a night with Marshall Ulrich (wiki bio).  There was a short group run & then he shared stories about his transcontinental run.  I realize most people are uncomfortable being in unfamiliar places with strange people, me included.  Waiting for the group run, I was ready to bolt out the door & go home.  Instead the runners beat me to it.  I decided to find my own route; I didn’t know where they were heading & most of them had disappeared over the hill into the park.

I ran loops through a few neighborhoods and finally decided I didn’t want to keep passing the same people, I ran up to Broadway.  As much as I love being alone running trails, there is something kind of cool about running on busy city streets.  Maybe its a trick to keep the mind alert – your view is always changing, people you have to side step.  There is much to occupy your mind besides the constant nagging of body parts.

I felt strong running along Broadway & would have continued if I wasn’t pressed for time.  The whole point was to hear Marshall Ulrich share the story of his cross country journey.  It was worthwhile (if you see him at the Seattle Rock’n’Roll Expo this weekend – stop by) but I will only share his overall theme: If you can dream it, you can do it.

After the chat, I met someone who only runs ultras (ultras are any race over marathon distance – 26.2 miles).  Most of his races are in the 50-100 mile range.  He started running when he was 52!!  The running community continues to open up before me and my eyes are wide open.  Wide open.

That said, I have deemed 2011 the year of the half marathon; 2012 is the year of the marathon and 2013 is going to be the year of the ULLLLTTTRRRAAAA! (as buttahcup said it best).  And maybe then I will focus on getting my BQ for Boston.

A few weeks ago, I vowed to run hills until I love them.  I have a few misgivings about that statement because I am not quite sure if I can love this beast.

deceiving view from the top

I have pinpointed four hills in the area to conquer.  The monster, lovingly named by my Team in Training team,  is one of them.

you still can't see the bottom from here...

After our run last night (4 miles) in the sweltering Pacific Northwest heat, my team had a BBQ to celebrate the longest sunny day of the year.  Where veterans decided to share their race stories with us.  Like the scary hills in certain areas – i.e. – San Francisco – that starts its race up a massive hill.

love that grade & the view of Mt Rainier

But, I was also told that because I live in a hilly area and practice running hills (like the monster), come race day, it’s all cake.  And although I constantly wish I lived in a flat place (say Nebraska), I really do love the challenge running hills has become.

in case the last photo didn't do justice to the grade...

I still remember the first time I conquered the big (measly hill compared to monster) hill on Cushman.  When I got to the top, I wanted to play Rocky: hands raised, lil jog dance, “Eye of the Tiger” playing.  (I know, wrong movie.)

So…what does a girl do when she runs down this massive hill?


all the kings horses & all the kings men...

Image quality aside – was totally proud of my lil draw(er)ing.
(Image on left is the front.)

For the past 24 hours, my thoughts about the mudrun have run the emotional gamut.  After the race, I was grateful I could cross this joker off my 2011 goal list and I would NEVER have to do it again.  And if, in, say 6 months, I had the brilliant idea to sign up again, my friends would rein in my insanity.  (Because obviously, I cannot do it myself.)

We arrived about 20 minutes to the start time (I also cannot be trusted with directions).  Waiting in the rain (perfect mudrun weather?), corralled with the other teams, I kept reminding myself “This is all my fault.”

mud slide

And then we’re off…the first mile plus was supposed to be all running – the only part I felt capable of until I realized the trail was mud.  I’m talking about mud the consistency of frosting in some places, pudding in others, the thick gooey, get your shoes stuck kind of mud.  The first hill (maybe 15 ft down, 15 up) left me laughing so hard, I let go of the “its my fault” mantra and started to enjoy the event.  And how can you not when you’re with uber cool peeps like buttahcup, the infamous robby k & cocoloqo?

gorilla ropes - where I just jumped into the chest high water

I had not fallen yet (that would come later).  But I let go of the competition part – it wasn’t about proving who was the mightiest (I am far from that).  It was just about getting it done.  I wasn’t without complaint & there was a lot of cussing.  And if I never see another muddy hill I have to climb, I will be the happiest of campers.

There is a lot about the mudrun I have (conveniently) forgotten.  But I will remember these two moments:

1.  Catching up with a 3 person team from an earlier wave.  I admit I have an issue with finishing last.  I have tried to not focus on that part of a race but as much as I try, I still worry about it.  So, with added bravado, I attempt to swing over a hurdle and land flat on my back.  Smooth.  Lesson learned.

rope walk

2.  My favorite obstacle is some rope walk over a pit of muddy water.  Shuffling about five steps.  Standing over water.  Legs shaking uncontrollably.  Arms burning.  Swinging forward & then backward.  It would be so easy to let go.  So easy.  And then making it to the other side without getting wet.

more rope walk

Even with cool rainy weather, wading through water, climbing over obstacles, attempting to climb up muddy hills, slip-sliding everywhere – I’m pretty sure I will find myself in that starting corral next year.  Hopefully, with nicer weather.  But for now, I’m seriously considering the Warrior Dash.

I want to swim with great whites (me in a cage).  I want to sky dive.  I believe I’d stand my ground if I met a bear in the woods.  I want to go hang gliding.  I want to be in a cage with a living breathing tiger.  Apparently all my death-defying wishes revolve around wild animals & heights…hmmm.

I am about to embark on the most gut wrenching event this weekend.  I am doubtful of my survival.  I tried to pass the blame earlier but rumor has it  someone gathered her most fearless peeps and persuaded them to enter this event.  It would be fun.  My nickname for the event is the “devious niki b.”  I wish my deviousness could come up with a three day uber-contagious illness.  I will take suggestions.

Together, my fearless peeps (buttahcup, the infamous robby k, cocoloqo) and I are running a 10k obstacle course in Portland: the dreaded ORIGINAL mudrun.  I trained for a few months (got my runners knee in check) but my last MRT was at the end of March when my focus on running became all-consuming.

So…why would a self proclaimed dirty girl fear the mud?  Ahhhhh…let me count the ways.

  1. Fear of losing my shoes: It is recommended to duct tape your shoes to your legs in this event.  There is a slight worry about placing duct tape on my legs…well, the worry is ripping the duct tape off at the end of the race.  Does this mean I should wear tall socks & tape my shoes to my socks?  (Robby K told me “that’s why you shave.”  Ummm…we’re talking duct tape not the pansy tape you wrap gifts in.  I fully expect ripping of skin.)
  2. Fear of grade school PE class: I will have to jump over walls and/or climb over tall walls and/or climb up vine like ropes.  All of which I totally suck at & have never been able to do.  And I wonder how much effort I have to put into these obstacles, knowing I’m bound to fail.  (Wrong attitude.  I get it.  Please just let me have my pity party moment.)
  3. Fear of hardcore competitors: Thirty minutes after my wave starts, the rough & tumble hardcore sorts will be tramping through these obstacles.  These are the people who have to do every obstacle (they don’t have the try once & walk around option) and will be running the course for time.  The best time.  I am already anticipating their catching up to my team and pushing us into the mud.  As we lay face down in the mud, all I will hear is laughter.  And if they wear war paint, I’m pretty sure I will play deer and may die of fright on sight of them.
  4. Fear of not crossing the finish line (also includes breaking something or injury): ‘Nuff said.
  5. Fear of letting down my team: Infamous Robby K is a total stud & has been incorporating MRT’s into his runs.  He also runs a sub seven minute mile.  Cocoloqo ran a 8.5 minute mile at Sound to Narrows last weekend.  buttahcup has about a 10 minute mile.  (I know – I’m obsessed with the minute per mile – I am forever calculating this.)  And me, on a good day is about 12.5 minute mile.  HUGE fear of letting down but also slowing down my team.  HUGE.
Which I think makes me the sniveling, mopey, cry-baby our team is named for – Nambi Pambis – a la the Geico commercial I will never tire seeing.
Go ahead: throw the kleenex box at me.

There is a lot I could tell you about what happens once the horn blows to beckon runners onward.  I could tell you about a mass of people herding under the “start” banner, the slight pushing as people run ahead or find their own groove on the road.  I could tell you about the Nike Plus app voice in my headphones informing me of my stats.  The urge to rush ahead of your pace because you’re trying to keep up with everyone else (most race mistakes happen in the 1st two minutes).  About the people who catch your eye & you look out for them the rest of the race, playing a catch-me-if-you-can running game.  I could tell you about how the first mile pace put me in line with my ultimate race goal & was still on track with mile 2 under my belt or the hill that started a mile ago had to be run into the finish line.  The way ground changed from pavement to grass, sprinting down the last stretch and across the finish line.

I could tell you how bummed I was the mile 3 hill took out my stretch goal time and how I vowed to run hills until I loved them.  (Great prep for San Francisco.)  Could tell you that according to the Nike Plus app, I didn’t make my second goal by 18 seconds – minus whatever fumbling I did at the start & end of the race to record the run.  (I did accomplish that goal according to the official race time …big sigh of relief and a few fist pumps!)

I could tell you all of that.

But what I really got out of the Sound to Narrows finish line happened after my race was run (I have always booked it back to my car & headed home after crossing the finish line).  Waiting for my friend buttahcup, I got to see the other 5k runners finish their race.  Saw the 5k walkers stroll in.  And then got to see something I would never have the chance to see because I was running.  I got to see those hardcore runners who ran the 12k race turn the final corner, step onto the grass & sprint to the finish.  The look on their faces a mix of relief and happiness, some with pain just trying to push those last few steps.  Watching their strides lengthen, the muscles pulsing, tapping into their energy reserve until they crossed the finish line.  The first person to cross the 12k finish line finished in just over 39 minutes – he ran a 5:35 minute mile average during the race – up some nasty hills.  (I am totally obsessed with the miles/minute.)

People were cheering, clapping, taking pictures.  I must confess i was totally overwhelmed and in awe (there may or may not have been a few tears).  I don’t know if I would have seen this if I hadn’t started running.  And everyone should experience this!  Even if you don’t want to run.  The cheering got louder as the first woman sprinted past us, older men (75+), young kids, the three friends that held each others hands high above their heads as they crossed the finish line together.

Mostly, I had the chance to witness someone achieve their goals.  It makes you want to get out there, meet your goals head on & cross them off your list.  Whether they are running related or not.  If there was any doubt before Saturday about my course, it has vanished.  In its place is a renewed sense of focus & determination.

Seven months ago, I arrived at my first race.  Pulling into the parking lot, I was frozen behind the wheel of my car.  I watched as runner after runner walked up the hill to the starting line.  They looked like runners.  The hardcore kind I aspire to be.  Here I was, a total imposter – wearing running tights under fleece pants, a tank top, tee-shirt, long sleeve tee and a down vest.  (I still do not dress properly for running – I always dress for the weather before I run & not the added 20 degrees hotter I will be during the run.)

I was ready to turn around and go home.  It would have been easier to hide behind blu: people would have noticed her & I could have been semi-invisible.  (Un)fortunately, several people knew I was running and there was no way I could face them if I had driven away.

So, there I am standing alone amid hundreds of real runners, not totally prepared, unsure of what to expect & praying I wouldn’t come in last.

(Please don’t let me come in last.)

Jump ahead through two 5k races, a 5 mile race and a 5 mile trail race where I have had my good friend buttahcup at the starting line with me.  For every race.  (There is A LOT of comfort in having someone by your side.)

a view of the starting line

But yesterday, I was at the starting line alone.  I didn’t feel like I had last November; I felt strong and knowledgable.  I found some space on a grassy knoll and began my warm up routine.  Five minutes to race time, I found myself 100 feet from the starting line.  Gone were the nerves (when did they disappear?).  All that was left was a girl who knew she was going to conquer this race.

But that is a story for another day…

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on the road