30 September 2011

September's Over? Already?

I can't believe that it's already the end of the month.  And that Christmas is less than 3 months away.  Seriously, this year has gone by so quickly and I remember so little of it.  Between training/races, vacations/trips, and life 2011 is going by in a blur.  

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been absent for much of September.  It's not that I've disappeared entirely - I've been lurking; check your stats - but I've definitely taken a break.  After Hood To Coast I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I touched on it briefly, but this introvert over-extended herself big-time during those 3 days.  It didn't seem like it at the time and I'm sure my teammates didn't really notice it.  However, I came home and holed up for a week - thankfully my family understands and leaves me alone.  Spud didn't quite get that Mummy really needed not to be climbed all over, but obviously he missed me so I couldn't quite begrudge him that.

A few things have happened since HTC:

1.  I quit my half marathon clinic.  If I'm honest with myself I never should have signed up in the first place.  I know how hard it is to train during the summer and I thought that the clinic would hold me accountable.  It didn't.  First, I work on Sundays which is typically my long run day.  Second, Colin had to work a bunch of overtime and I was missing my weekly clinic night.  Third, I could never make it to the mid-week run at the store since Colin doesn't get home early enough.  So, if you read that over again, you'll see that I was missing all of my scheduled group runs.  And I just wasn't going out by myself like I thought I was going to.  When I came home from Oregon I contacted the leader and let her know that I wouldn't be returning.  And it felt great.  I think that I was unconsciously stressing about it and it felt like such a relief when I finally admitted that it just wasn't working out.

2.  I'm not enrolling in any other training this year.  Sure, I could sign up for the clinic that takes me through to a February race.  But I still have the same issues and they aren't going to go away before the new year.  

3.  I'm learning to love running again.  Yup, you read that right.  I burned out this summer.  Looking back I'm not surprised.  I've been enrolled in clinic after clinic since May 2009.  It was bound to happen sooner or later.  I even mentioned it at our dinner at Nuun HQ in Seattle and asked that they bear with me.  That race was kind of my last hurrah before checking out.  Now I'm just back to running for time instead of pace/distance and getting my runs per week back up to 3-4.

4.  I took September off.  As in I ran 3 times.  And it was great.  Except for the consequences.  Over the summer my brain still said that I'm "in training" and my stomach agreed, which was unfortunate for my hips, butt and thighs.  Let's just say that I'm no longer even close to being at "racing weight."  Another issue with taking time off is that my fitness level has gone to crap.  Walk breaks have always been my friend, but now they are more frequent.  My legs feel like they're on fire when I'm barely going up a little hill.  I suck wind like I sucked nitrous oxide when I was having contractions.  Honestly it feels like I'm starting all over again.  I'm sure in a few weeks it'll be like I never stopped, but it's hard right now.  No wonder people try and give up on running so quickly.

5.  Spud started playschool this week.  He loves it and I love that I can go running without pushing the stroller.  A win-win for both of us!

6.  I'm dabbling in the world of Twitter - @lovemyrunners.  Since I don't have a phone to read it on it's not hugely practical right now and most of what I'm doing is following and trying to get a handle on the whole thing.  Unfortunately I missed the tutorial that went on in our HTC van.  You can follow me - not that I've tweeted yet - and I'll reciprocate.  

So that's my life in a nutshell right now.  I'm sure October will be better for my running (mentally) even if I'm getting back into it right as it's supposed to rain ALL THE TIME.  I have a feeling that during the next few months I'll have a lot of "dig deep and find myself" moments.

Anyone else burn out before?  How did you find your way back to running?  How long did it take?

21 September 2011


If you watched the Hood To Coast video yesterday (if not, go do it NOW) to the very end you saw that we had a lot of support from other companies.  It's amazing how many connections some of the other ladies have!  I totally benefited and got awesome goodies - loot, really - so it's only fair that I thank them, especially since I've thanked Nuun more than enough (well, probably not, but you get what I mean).

Team Sparkle:

Not only were Kelly and Carrie amazing teammates - unfortunately not in my van - they also gave us each a wicked skirt.  

I chose "gunmetal" since I could wear it with most of my tops.  Two reasons these skirts are awesome: 1) easily identifiable - we could pick out our runners in crowds and from far away and 2) you can wear them over your own bottoms as they aren't lined.  This is excellent when travelling in a van and not wanting to wear the same bottoms each leg.

Check back next month: you could win your own Team Sparkle skirt.


We were fortunate enough to have BuildASign.com on board with us (literally).  They made us fantastic car magnets that held on for more than the 200 miles.  We didn't lose a single one during the entire trip.  They were well made (strong) and went so well with our van.

Endorphin Warrior:

I LOVE my bracelet.  I've known about them for awhile, but never had the chance to order one for myself.  So when Kelly asked what saying we wanted on ours I knew right away: FOCUS.  I chose it because that's what I fight with the most in my running.  I think it's come off a grand total of 3 times since August.

Made of metal and leather... pretty hard to ruin it running.

Barney Butter:

Almond butter in handy single serve packs.  I know I got a packet - I had to claim one before they were all gone, but don't remember eating it.  Now, this isn't because it's forgettable.  I was told it was excellent.  But either I ate it when I was too tired to notice or I brought it home and have promptly lost it.


It amazes me that we had a box of Raspberry Chocolate Roctane in the van the entire time and we forgot about it.  The bonus to that, of course, is that there were lots of leftovers when we got back to Nuun HQ.  Even better (for me), most of the people who were around either didn't like it or couldn't eat it.  I now have a dozen of them to use once training starts back up again.  Hooray! 

I received a great towel from Inperspire.  I've read about them on other blogs, but they are way better (larger and better made) than I expected.  Unfortunately I didn't get my first choice, but I like the one I got.  Now if I ever get the guts to try a spin class I'll have something to soak up all my sweat.

Having these stopped me from stinking like a polecat.  'Nuff said.

Not only did I receive another water bottle - to add to my miniscule collection of about 10 - I also got a pink drawstring bag.  I personally love Saucony's slogan "Find Your Strong" that is printed on both.  

Psychedelic headbands to go with our rainbow themed costumes and van.  I used mine while I was recovering from my runs.  After my first leg I'm not sure if the ponytail ever came down, so it was nice to have something to hold my hair back.

I have to admit that this is another brand I didn't get much of a chance to use during the relay.  I got lip balm, sunscreen and a face stick.  Of those I only really used the lip balm at HTC.  I chose the cherry over the vanilla.  I like it because it smells like cherry, but doesn't really taste like it.  

I ended up using these when I went to my in-laws a couple of weeks ago.  I love the face stick.  It's a little thick, so I had to rub it in, but it barely smells (a little like cinnamon, maybe).  The sunscreen worked well on Spud.  If it can keep an 4 year old from getting burned then the it's good for adults too.

This is traditionally a men's skin care line, but I really like their stuff.  The Industrial Strength Hand Healer is great, the lemon and chamomile lip balm smells like candy and I can't wait to try this one:

Bring it marathon training - you've got nothing on a product containing Dragon's Blood.

20 September 2011

Hood To Coast Video

Remember how I mentioned that we had a videographer following us for 200 miles?  Well, here is the finished product.  It's amazing and captures the essence of our experience in 4 minutes.  I love that I get to see the other runners since we rarely saw them on course.

Did you spot me?  Because I'm a huge dork you can find me at 00:36, 00:46, 00:49, 00:51, 01:01, 01:39-01:41, 02:58, and 03:08.

12 September 2011

Hood To Coast - The End

I must admit that this last recap of Hood To Coast is going to be a little picture intensive.  Not sure how much there is to say about spending an afternoon on the beach!  I don't remember what time we actually got to Seaside.  Thankfully we didn't have to sit in traffic for very long - if you've read other recaps you'll already know that it turned into a major parking lot.  As Van #1 we were able to get to the beach with plenty of time to get settled and wander around.
We got to enjoy the scenery:

I must have taken this shot - note the slightly skewed horizon.
And the food (anything was good at this point):

Mason, Jocelyn, Emily, Lauren, me - it's hard to pretend to eat penne...
There were lots of things to see:

And people to meet:

A bunch of us with Hood To Coast founder Bob Foote, left in blue, and random dude (behind me).
Lauren with Bart Yasso of Yasso 800s fame.
We got to cheer for our teammate: 

Megan running to the finish
And for ourselves:

We wrapped up the day knowing we'd gone through an amazing experience with new friends:

I'd love to be able to tell you that this is the absolute last post about HTC.  Unfortunately I can't do that just yet.  I have at least 2 more and they're important: a huge thank-you to all of the companies that supported us (no, it wasn't just Nuun) and what I learned during what can only be described as a whirlwind trip.

02 September 2011

Hood To Coast Leg #25 - And The Ugly

Saturday 27 August 2011 - Very Early A.M.

Before we get to the "fun" that was Leg #25 let me tell you about our driver, Mason.  You have to figure that any guy who is game to drive a bunch of strangers around for 3 days is going to be great.  Factor in a willingness to don a sparkly pink skirt, allow photographic evidence of it, run 17 miles (yes, you read that right - 3 legs of the relay) with our runners to keep them company and feeling safe in the dark, and you have an amazing person all around.  Oh, and I seem to have forgotten to mention that he's the President of Nuun.  Yeah.  Had you asked me if I thought a) I'd be hanging out with him and b) that he wouldn't be a stuffed shirt before the race I probably would have said no.  Not only is Nuun a great company, but (and I know everyone else on the team has either mentioned this or they would agree) they have a superstar staff. 

Much of the evening after my second run is a blur.  Mostly because I was fading fast.  The longer it was dark out the more I wanted to go to sleep.  Unfortunately my body didn't want to let me.  I would have been chugging Pepto sooner - yes, the now infamous pizza strikes again - but our other van needed it too.  I had to wait until we could steal some out of Nuun Platuun's van.  My dinner was sitting like a lead weight in my stomach and there was nothing I could do about it.  At one point I seriously considered making myself throw up just so I would feel better.  

Once we got to the van transition (and after finding our keys) we decided not to spend the night there, but drive on to the next one and catch a few hours there.  A good idea in theory, but not in practice.  Once we were close to Mist - the site of my 3rd run - we hit traffic.  Yes, in a relay there is the possibility of a traffic jam at 3 in the morning.  It took us 2-1/2 hours to go about 31 miles/50km.  It should have only taken us an hour total.  Thank goodness we didn't sleep at the last transition.  We would have been S.O.L. the next morning and most likely would have missed our exchange.  

At this point all I wanted to do was get what little sleep I could before my run and make my stomach not hurt.  I got one of the two.  We crawled into the parking lot sometime after 5am.  Since only a few of us were awake we pulled out the necessary sleeping bags and all crashed in the van.  I think I went to bed at 5:45am and got up again at 6:30am.  That was the first sleep I'd had since 5:30am Friday morning.  Not entirely enough to feel ready for my run.

Upon waking I was hoping my stomach would feel slightly better. No such luck.  I ate half a banana, gathered myself as best I could and waited for Megan to literally appear from the mist in Mist.  As I started my knee felt much better.  I'd been able to get some insoles at Safeway at one of the exchanges.  Thankfully they were a sponsor and were open at 2am.  My  pace was decent and I had the start of "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas on repeat in my head: "and runnin' runnin'/and runnin' runnin'/and runnin' runnin'."  It really is a beautiful area and it was the perfect temperature - just cool enough to need a light long sleeved shirt.  My groove was short-lived.  Between my stomach (a nice way of saying GI issues), the start of chafing (sleep deprivation = no Body Glide), and my shin starting to act up I'd slowed down to a walk.  When our second van drove by I just pointed to my shin as they drove by as an excuse for why I was walking.  There are some things that just don't need admitting.  Except that they turned around and came back to check on me.  I can say after the fact that it really was appreciated.  However, at the time, I was more than mortified about my issues.  Jen, Mel and Kelly hopped out to see how I was doing and I promptly fell apart.  They were extremely understanding.  In fact, Mel sacrificed let me borrow a pair of capris.  Now that is teamwork.  

Eventually Tricia caught up to me and passed me.  I was pretty much done by then, had no idea how far I had to go and the little hill at the end didn't help.  As much as I wanted to chick the guy that was even with me at the bottom of the hill I just didn't have it in me to push it.  Handing off the baton was relieving.  It just sucked that I'd once again made my team wait for me.  I was 12 minutes over the expected time.         

Once we moved along I was finally able to get a little sleep.  I think I was out for about an hour during Kimberly's leg just curled up on the back bench.  It was nice to both sleep and sleep off the disappointment of my run.  After that I was able to enjoy the rest of the legs and once we were all done we were off to Seaside!

Next: Saturday 27 August 2011 - P.M. aka Things Are All Good Again  

01 September 2011

Hood To Coast Leg #13 - The Bad

Friday 26 August - P.M.

Once we finishing up our first 6 legs we decided to travel on to Portland in search of food.  We'd decided on pizza, but Twitter kept displacing the need to settle on a location.  It took a while - eventually light-headedness won out over debating how good the place should be - but we stumbled across Pizzacato.  Seriously good pizza.  And it was meant to be because when we walked in we discovered that they had a gluten-free crust option and their menu's "new" logo was a Nuun-esque N in a circle.

Excellent one-time-only parallel park by Mason.
If you are wondering about the title of my post and why I labelled this leg "The Bad" the pizza started it off.  Yes, it was absolutely delicious, but apparently relays - and the ensuing starvation - will make you forget things.  Like how much peppers (in this case red roasted ones) fight with your gastrointestinal system.  Relays also mess with your time management skills.  We ate around 6pm maybe, but I seriously thought that I was running again around 10:30 or 11.  Umm, no.  Try 9:30pm.  The 3rd piece of pizza let me know it was a bad idea later on.

Took a picture so I could remember the name next time I'm in PDX.
Like my fashion sense?
Who wouldn't want to be seen in compression socks, long shorts and a sparkle skirt?
Once we finished up with dinner we figured it would be a good idea to get ourselves to the next van transition area.  It only took us a couple of wrong turns and bridge crossings before we found it!  Since I was running I made sure I was all set with my lights, vest and other various necessities.  I somehow managed to lose my team for a few minutes - my idea to look for Mason was thwarted by the fact that most of the guys there were tall... - but I eventually rejoined them.

My hip started to give me grief so Kimberly was kind enough to tape it up.  I thought I'd try a little jog across the parking lot and back before my run and knew something was up.  The tape was doing its job, but my knee was starting to twinge a bit.  I thought that maybe it was just the after-effect of my long downhill and then sitting for hours in the van.  I thought I could tough it out and then tape it up too after the run.  I should have known better...  

The transition area was very busy and for all the looking for Megan that we did we still ended up not hearing our number.  All of a sudden she was there and I was yelling, "Hey, hey, hey" like an idiot as she passed me.  I took off like a shot and had high hopes for my second leg.  I met up with Becker (our photographer) on the deck of the Hawthorne Bridge and he took shots of my crossing.  Unfortunately I got to the middle of the bridge and discovered that the gates were going down for the bridge to go up.  ARRGGHH!!!  I was (along with about 20 other runners) delayed by 6 minutes for a sail boat to take it's sweet time going down the river.  Once the gates were up we all were on our way again.  However, this is when I knew that my run wasn't going to go all that well.

When ever I get knee pain - generally below my knee cap - it's my shoes.  Seriously?!?  What worse time could they go?  I knew I had a lot of mileage on them, but really thought that they would last until after the relay.  I guess the run down Mt. Hood and the lack of time for the foam to rebound really killed them.

Leg 13 runs along the river through Portland.  It really was a nice route - lots of people were out for the evening so it wasn't too scary.  I knew that I was pretty much at the back of the pack from the bridge, but I followed the blinking lights in front of me at pretty much the same pace.  At one point I had to cross some train tracks and am very thankful that I ran my little heart out to beat the train coming off the bridge (it was about 100m away).  Tricia told me after that she got stuck there for 13 minutes!  After I passed that point my knee was killing me so it was walk-run all the way to the exchange.  It was frustrating to say the very least.  Not only had I been delayed by the bridge, but now I was adding quite a bit of time simply because it hurt to run.  For as much as we all said that this wasn't a race and it was for fun it sucked to think that I was letting the team down.  I hated knowing that they were standing around wondering where I'd gotten to.  I was having quite a little pity party until Nuun Platuun's van drove by and cheered for me.  After that I started making deals with myself about how far I'd run before I would allow myself to walk.  Since I was running blind (no GPS and I think in km not miles) I was so grateful to see the exchange.  I handed the baton/bracelet to Dorothy and I was done!

You can't say you didn't see me coming!
(headlamp, vest w/blinkers, fluorescent sleeves, shoe blinkers and reflective laces)

This run was a struggle.  As said above, it's hard to feel as though you've let down your teammates in some way.  I'm not the fastest runner by any means and I know that I was probably the slowest runner in the van.  To come in 10 minutes (at least) over the predicted time was crushing.  Obviously I made an effort at the end because everyone thought that I looked like I was doing really well.  The pizza that was so good a few hours ago also wanted in on the party and kept trying to come back up.  A few hours later I would have been pleased if it had...  Hard to stay positive when the only word you can come up with when you're asked how the run went is "shit".  

The interesting thing about a relay is that you can't dwell on things for long.  The run blew.  There's no other word for it.  Yes, there were extenuating circumstances.  I couldn't control the bridge and I thought the shoes would be okay.  But it wasn't like I could sit down and cry about it (stand, yes).  You just climb back into the van and hope you get to the next exchange when your runner does.

Next: Saturday 27 August 2011 - A.M. aka You Thought The Last Leg Was A Soul Killer


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