*Exciting Nuun news!*

As if Nuun Hydration wasn’t already the coolest hydration company on the planet… their announcement today just elevated their superstar status… times like a trillion!

When I first heard about it just yesterday (ambassadors get all the juicy news first!), I think I literally squealed in delight! I’m super excited that we get to welcome the amazing two-time Olympian Kara Goucher to our team!!! Because you all know how much I love Kara… (Nothing says love like sharing the same picture over and over and over…)

karagoucher2

Meeting Kara at the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon in Sept. 2013.

And you all know how much I love Nuun. I can’t think of a better partnership and I’m honored to be able to represent the same company as Kara. How cool is that? Welcome, Kara!!!

Kara and Nuun! <3 (Photo courtesy of Nuun.)

Kara and Nuun!

You can read more about it on the Nuun blog here or on Kara’s website, here.

Speaking of Nuun, I’m off to get #electrolit before I head out to assist with coaching 16 girls with our local Run Girl Run program. I’m going to need all the energy I can get! ; )

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Some days you need a little boost!

*The magical day I BQ’d*

There is a good possibility that I haven’t stopped smiling once since Sunday. When I awoke to the sound of my alarm on Monday morning, my aching body reminded of what happened the previous day. Once out of bed, I was greeted with an email from the previous evening that contained a link to the Vernonia Marathon race results. When I opened the page, displaying the top 5 male and female finishers of the event, I about dropped my cup of coffee when I saw my very own name in the fifth spot.

I was the fifth overall female finisher.

How? What? Huh? (…scratching head…)

Honestly, I am still feeling a little overwhelmed by everything that happened on Sunday. After more than a year of dreaming about what that moment would feel like when I finally qualified… there are few words… but I can say with certainty that it feels absolutely amazing!

The Vernonia Marathon is a sweet little marathon that I would, without hesitation, run again and again. The route is spectacular! Most of it meanders among trees and creeks on a paved trail and is predominately downhill or flat.

The race begins in Vernonia, Oregon and finishes in neighboring Banks, Oregon. I have very few negative things to say about this event in general but I’m not crazy about the late start time for the race. It begins at 9:30 AM. I recognize that this is due to the fact that participants are bused from the finish (where packet pick-up is located) to the start.

I traveled with my friend, Bob. We arrived at the start around 7:30, even after catching the shuttle, which means we had more than two hours to kill before the race started! A good opportunity for pictures I guess! ; )

Brrr! A very cold wait!

Brrr! A very cold wait!

On the bright side, the start is located at a retreat center with an indoor area for runners to relax in before the race began. Eventually, we walked to the start and waited a little more.

Ready to get the show on the road!

Ready to get the show on the road!

I have no idea what time we actually started but I was glad to be underway! The first mile is downhill and despite my best attempt to stick to my goal to start slooooooooowwwww, I still started too fast. Shocker, huh? A lovely gal running the half marathon started to pace me just after the first mile. I enjoyed chatting with her but her goal time was way faster than I needed/wanted to run and even though I knew better I continued at a sub-8:00 pace until she decide to speed up around mile 6.

On the bus ride to the start, I considered whether or not I wanted to set the virtual pacer on my Garmin. I opted against it but immediately after starting, I switched the display to keep tabs on my pace instead of time/distance. (I didn’t check my time until I was about 24.6 miles in!)

While my pace was on track the first 13 miles, I felt myself feeling envious of the half marathon runners that were completing their race. I was only half done. Accomplishment aside, running a marathon is HARD!

My splits for the first 13 miles were:

7:55/7:46/7:43/7:46/7:54/7:53/8:02/8:09/8:05/8:15/8:15/8:29/8:25

Miles 9-13 are a gradual uphill. I slowed a little between miles 12-14. There is a pretty wicked hill just past the halfway point where I slowed considerably but once I reached the top, miles 15-21 were actually pretty awesome. It is mostly downhill with a very subtle decline most of the way. Not to mention, absolutely beautiful!  After the half marathon finish, the number of participants dropped significantly. There were periods of time where I didn’t see any runners ahead of me. But there were plenty of bicyclists and equestrians out on the trail to keep things interesting.

Around mile 22, the trail becomes flat and the last four miles run nearly parallel to a highway. This is where things start to get grim. After miles and miles of shade covered trail, we were now running in almost direct sun. I passed several runners who were starting to have issues. One of my other few complaints about the event is that given the late start, and the heat of the day (low to mid-70′s), I think another aid station, or two, would have been a really good idea.

I slowed quite a bit. I had to dig deep. Really deep. I knew that I had banked some extra time early on but I really didn’t know what my time was and I wanted to wait until as long as possible to check. When I finally did, around 24.6 miles in, I was at 3 hours, 20 minutes, and some odd seconds. Whoa! Even if I ran nearly a 10 minute mile, I could still finish in just under 3:40:00!

It was about that point that I realized that I was going to do it. I was going to qualify for Boston. By how much I wasn’t sure. I still had nearly a mile and a half to go. It wasn’t pretty but I as I cruised toward the finish, with the final .20 miles on a track, I gave it everything I had left.

The finish is near!

The finish is near!

Had I known how close I was to finishing in under 3:35:00… I’m proud of what I did and pleased with my 3:35:01 finish… but so close!!! ; )

DONE!

DONE!

My splits for miles 14-26.2 were:

9:00/8:11/8:16/8:11/8:17/8:13/8:02/8:07/8:27/8:21/8:36/8:38/8:24/1:45

I came across the finish all smiles! That feeling… so hard to describe but man, does it feel good! My family was there to share it with me and I was so grateful. My friend Bob had finished before me and was waiting to watch me cross the finish line too. This marathon was his 48th! Incredible, right?! (In fact, he gets credit for three of the photos above.)

Bob and I still smiling!

Bob and I still smiling!

After cooling down we headed inside for the awards ceremony, which was supposed to include complimentary soup. By the time we got there though, they had already run out. ; ( That’s okay, I picked up this blue ribbon for finishing 1st place in my age group!

1st place in my age group!

1st place in my age group!

The rest of the afternoon was filled with celebratory Thai food, champagne, and so many messages from friends and family congratulating me on my fantastic race and BQ! I savored every second of it too! It was an absolutely magical day!!

Officially, I finished in 3:35:01 setting a new 6:32 PR and averaged an 8:13 pace. I was the fifth place overall female and first place female for my age group. And of course, I QUALIFIED FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON! ; )

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again! A super HUGE thank you to everyone for the support, encouragement, good luck wishes, post race congratulatory messages, and anything/everything else I overlooked! It means so much and I’m glad you’ve been along for the journey to this milestone with me! THANK YOU!!

*Weekly mileage*

Mileage for the week of April 7th through April 13th:

Total weekly mileage: 45.5

Total April mileage (to-date): 85.75

Total year-to-date mileage: 666

Run review:

4/7       No run/rest day

4/8        31:46 min./4 mi./5:57 pace

(Plus 1 mi. with RGR)

4/9        59:06 min./7 mi./8:27 pace

4/10        4.25 miles (broken up into 4 mini runs of varying paces)

4/11        No run/rest day

4/12        26:16 min./3 mi./8:45 pace

4/13        3:35:01 min./26.2 mi./8:13 pace *Vernonia Marathon

As I reflect on the past week and how it culminated yesterday at the Vernonia Marathon, I fear any second now I’ll wake up from this amazing dream! Fortunately, I don’t think I’d “dream” about being this dang sore so I think I’m safe! ; )

There will be a full recap of my experience within the next couple of days. I’m still riding the high and don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since I crossed the finish line!

Have a great Monday, everyone!!

*A PR, 1st place AG, and a BQ!!!!!!!!!!*

No shit!!! (Please pardon my language!)

I just wanted to pop in really quick tonight to share my super exciting news! After more than a year of blood, sweat, tears, and lots and lots of running, I finally fulfilled a huge goal today. I finally chased down that Boston Marathon qualifier! Yep, you read that right. I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!!!!! ; )

I also wanted to check in to say thank you to all of my family, friends, and followers. I’m so appreciative of your support, encouragement, comments, and good luck wishes. It worked! So from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU

Almost there!!!

Almost there!!!

I’ll do up a proper recap in a couple of days. We just opened the champagne so it’s time to celebrate! While I haven’t had a chance to look up all of my stats, I know that I finished in 3:35:01 and brought home a blue ribbon for finishing first in my age group! I can’t believe it happened, you know? It really is a dream come true!

xo

*Fuel Friday ~ Forgiveness*

Forgive me.

I missed yet another Fuel Friday yesterday. I had planned a post, created the recipe and made the dish (which was actually a dessert), and then ate it. But I never got around to sharing it. In part because I didn’t like one of the aspects of it. Knowing it could be better, I decided to wait. If I give it another go and think it is worthy to share, I’ll pass it along. In the meantime, I’m asking for your forgiveness. ; )

It has been an interesting food-related week in my house. Whenever there is a somewhat of a health “crisis”, the first thing I do is look to our diets. For that reason (and for the record, it’s not really a crisis per se, but an opportunity to be more aware and mindful of what we are putting in our bodies), we’ve been experimenting a little bit. Nothing too crazy but it never hurts to mix it up. Especially if it means adding more fruits and vegetables, super foods, etc.

Sure I love my coffee, chocolate, and wine. But I’m a firm believer in the magical healing power of whole, plant-based food. Holistic nutrition is such a huge passion of mine. For many years I wanted to pursue it as a career even. (I still do but it has fallen on the priority list for the time being.) Anyway, being that I have a marathon coming up (TOMORROW!!!) and I know how dangerous it can be to stray from ones “normal” diet too close to a race, I’ve tried to be extra careful. There was a steamer clam incident last night though. Balance, right?

So today, I thought I’d share some link love. Here a few things I’ve found recently that have caught my attention.

:: Just today I came across this article: What to Eat the Week of a Marathon on Runner’s World that I haven’t seen before and thought I’d share. I stumbled upon it on Stuft Mama’s website. (Lots of other inspiring stuff on her site too!)

:: Lately, whenever I’m lacking some kitchen motivation, I’ve been turning to this website: A Whisk and Two Wands. Have you seen it? Simple, healthy meals, snacks, smoothies, and desserts. It has been such an inspiring source for ideas as of late. Everything on there is drool worthy!!

:: Clif Dark Chocolate Mojo Bars. Need I say more?

:: One of my food obsessions is popcorn. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I would estimate that in the past three weeks, I’ve ate popcorn at least 18 out of 21 days. My flavoring/topping preference seems to change somewhat seasonally but right now I’m on a major nacho “cheese” kick. The cheesy flavor comes in the form of nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast is a member of the fungi family. It sort of has a yeasty, nutty, cheesy flavor and is popular among vegetarians/vegans to mimic the flavor of cheese though it has no dairy in it. Nutritional yeast is high in, you guessed it, nutrients! I will say, in my experience, that it is an acquired taste. I wasn’t crazy about it the first couple of times I had it but now I crave it often.

Back to the popcorn! Pop up a serving. I make mine on the stove in oil. (Balance, right?) One tsp. of oil to three tbsp. popcorn kernels. For this version I pop mine in olive oil. After it has popped, I transfer it to a bowl and add more olive oil, nutritional yeast, chili powder, fresh cracked black pepper, and a touch of salt. I add enough oil so that the yeast and spices adhere to the popcorn. You don’t want to skimp on the oil but remember that you can always add more so ease into it.

And look at that! A little bonus recipe!

:: I’m super excited to try out a new product from Nuun that launched just recently! I’ve been hearing awesome things about Nuun Energy! It contains caffeine, B vitamins, and of course, electrolytes. I’m a little behind the times so I haven’t sampled it myself yet (it’s on its way though) but who couldn’t use a little kick of energy? I’ll keep you posted once I have it in my hot little hands!

Okay, I’m off like a herd of runners with a race tomorrow! (And to go make some of that popcorn!!) ; )

Have a great Saturday!!

*Good, better, best…*

…the Vernonia Marathon edition.

Just before I ran my second marathon, the Portland Marathon back in October of last year, I had read an article about setting more than one goal for races. (I wrote about it here.) This concept has served me well so I think it is only appropriate, being that I’m now just three days out from marathon #4, that I create clear intentions for what I hope to accomplish this weekend.

GOOD: Connect with fellow runners.

One of my greatest missions in recent months, training aside, has been growing my circle of running friends. I was craving connection with like-minded people and have been seeking opportunities to meet runners to pull into my orbit. And not just within my community but also branching out to include surrounding areas and even fellow bloggers/runners all over the world!

My efforts have been paying off and I find myself developing relationships with new running friends. Some in real life and some of whom I’ve only interacted with online. On Sunday, many of these new friends will be running the same race as I am and I want to really savor every second of in-person interaction with them.

BETTER: Know that I’ve done everything in my power to set myself up for a good race.

I can’t accomplish what I desire if I don’t do the work to set myself up for success. I want to find myself at the starting line on Sunday reflecting on all of my efforts over the past four months and know that I gave 100%. More so, I want to feel confident in the fact that I tapered smart and have given my body the time it needs to rest, heal, and be ready for race day. I feel like I’m on target but with three days to go, I won’t be certain until I’m standing at the starting line.

BEST: Start slow and finish strong.

One of my greatest challenges is starting at a conservative pace and finishing with a negative split. I sort of suck at pacing! Actually, I really don’t even care if I have a negative split so long as I start at, or near, my goal race pace and just hold steady for the duration. In my short marathon racing history, my biggest downfall has been starting faster than I should/need to and then slowing the second half.

Notice that I don’t mention PR’s or BQ’s. Yeah, not this time. Of course setting a new personal record and qualifying for Boston are the ultimate goals but I realize that I won’t get there unless I put more emphasis on what it actually takes to make that happen. Making it fun by connecting with people, knowing that I’ve done all that I can to be ready to race, and finding strength to slow down so I finish mentally and physically strong will make this marathon the best yet!

*First time for everything*

I’m a little ashamed to admit this but here it goes… today, for the first time, I went to a track meet. I mean for the first time ever in my whole entire life!

WWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTT?

 

Pole vaulting blows my mind!

Pole vaulting blows my mind!

I know, right? How is it possible that someone such as myself, who is crazy in love with running, had never before attended a meet? It was magical to say the least.We became a track family this spring. My daughter decided to give track a try after training for, and completing, her first half marathon last summer. A little encouragement from one of the track coaches at her high school sealed the deal.

It has been such a fun process to watch. Especially because in addition to running, she also decided to take up pole vaulting!

Watching those young athletes pour their hearts and souls out onto the track this afternoon was awesome. It actually left me feeling a little envious. Though I played sports in high school, I never even considered running track or cross-country. Fast forward about 20 years and my adult self kind of regrets not giving it a try!

I’m so grateful to be able to watch my daughter fall in love with the sport. Pure magic! I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time at the track this spring!!

Magic on the track!

Magic on the track!

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