*The self I like best*

Looking back over the past two months, I can clearly see where I began to struggle to keep my mileage up. It’s been no secret that the first quarter of the year (and now moving into the second quarter) has been quite a whirlwind for me and my family. To be honest, the dust hasn’t settled yet and things are still in a state of flux. In hindsight, I thought I’d get back into my groove once our feet were grounded. I sure as heck didn’t think it would take so long.

In the midst of all that, and I’m still battling it, I pulled back from some of the things I love and find comfort in (not all by choice). What I’ve discovered is that I feel completely disconnected from myself. Routines, dietary choices, sleep patterns, self-care… all the familiar rhythms that I’ve been accustomed to for the past X amount of years have been stripped away. On top of that, I’m in a new (and VERY large) city, 1000+ miles away from my daughter, family, and friends, haven’t yet been able to connect with any sort of new running friends or tribe, trying to organically build a business that generates sustainable income which is slow going, and generally feeling a little lost in space at the moment.

Deep shit, I know.

A few days ago I realized that my life is so much richer with running in it and when I’m taking care of my whole self. Mind, body, and spirit. So I went for a short run. The following day I went for another one. I’ve now run four days in a row, although I will admit, I have not run more than three miles at a time. Accepting where I’m at, and fully understanding that it will take some time to build myself, distance, and pace, back up to where I prefer to be will not happen overnight. Mentally, I’m starting to feel it again. Physically, and no thanks to the heat, it’s a work in progress.

Timely enough, I saw this quote posted on Facebook earlier and I couldn’t agree more!

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“or at least I feel like the self I like best”… well said, Bart!

I never posted my weekly mileage for the week of March 21-27. Because I was in the middle of packing, I didn’t record all of the few runs I did and lost the info on my Garmin for one of them so I am not including that in the total. For that week, I ran 7.5 miles bringing my March total to 62.25 (I’m certain it’s my lowest monthly mileage in three years. That is until this month which will likely be less than that!) and my YTD total to 304 miles.

I’m a big believer in accountability. Sharing this here is more for my benefit than anyone else’s but it does provide me with the space to hold myself accountable and acknowledge my own truth. And that truth is, I do feel that the self I like best is the one that runs!

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*Good, better, best*

The Boston Marathon edition.

Holy moly!

My alarm is set for 3 AM tomorrow morning as the final stage of this Boston journey begins. The culmination of more than two years of dreaming, training, running, hoping, stressing, aching, and ever other *ing* you can imagine. In five short days, I will be running one of the most prestigious marathons in the entire world.

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A little vino to calm my pre-travel jitters. ; )

As has become tradition, I am going to share my race goals in the form of good, better, and best. This is above-and-beyond the experience of the trip itself. I’m a runner. I’m competitive. I want to go to Boston and prove that I earned my spot there. But no matter what, the trip in its entirety, will be what I can only imagine as one of the highlights of my life, regardless of how I “race”.

GOOD :: Earn another BQ. While not necessarily a PR, I’d be pleased to finish with a time that proves I deserve to be running among such incredible athletes. Anything under 3:40:00 would be a *good* finish for me.

BETTER :: But who doesn’t want to PR? I do! I would really love to beat my BQ time of 3:35:01. That’s an 8:13 average pace. I’ve run long training runs at a faster pace than that so I know it’s in me… everything just needs to come together on race day.

BEST :: Ultimately, I’d love to run a sub-3:30 marathon. Shave five minutes of my PR? Run an 8:00 average? It’s lofty, yes? But not unattainable. I’m close and hoping that Marathon Monday is the day that all of my efforts to make this race my best yet, manifest into what would be my *best* race outcome.

With that, I’m off to finish packing and then hitting the hay! Please forgive my sporadic posts over the next week… but if you’re interested in keeping up with my Boston adventures, be sure to connect with me on my social media sites, listed below. Goodnight!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram 

*Run This Year*

Mileage milestones should be celebrated! That is one of the reasons I love Run This Year. Run This Year is an online community that is intended to not only challenge and inspire you to set a mileage goal for the year, but allows you to track your mileage and see what other runners are doing.

On the website, you can find information about how to set and achieve a yearly mileage goal and it can be any amount you choose. Each month you record your miles and when you hit a mileage milestone, you can print out a fun bib, like the one below, photograph yourself, and then share it for bragging rights!

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600 miles, Baby! #runthisyear

Yesterday, I hit the 600-mile mark for the year (606.5 to be exact) and am proud of my accomplishment! That’s a lot of miles!

You can also find Run This Year on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

It’s not to late to set a mileage goal for this year and you can join the community at any time! Happy running!

 

*Build it and they will come*

A few days ago, I began to plan a gathering to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the running club I co-founded with my friend, Woody.

Nearly a year ago, we sat down over to coffee to discuss our ideas and hopes for what would become the St. Helens Road Runners Club. Our dream was to be able to provide local runners with an opportunity to get together on a weekly basis for a few miles, meet like-minded people, and socialize in a way that promotes health and fitness in our community. A few weeks later we met for the first time and we have been meeting ever since.

This group… these people… some of whom I barely knew a year ago, have become close friends. I look forward to seeing them on Saturday mornings. I’ve run with several club members outside of the Saturday morning group run. I’ve logged hundreds of miles with BFP, whom this time last year, I had never met. I told the group in a post on Facebook:

“Some weeks we’ve had several in attendance, other weeks just one or two. Regardless, this group has become everything we envisioned. Personally, the people I’ve met and the friendships that have been formed transcends every expectation I had. THANK YOU!”

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Saturday morning group run selfie.

Just today, we added our 100th member to our Facebook group. I’m so excited to see this group continue to grow and bond over our love of running.

If you are looking for a group or running club, check with your local specialty running store to see what they might offer. (Some athletic apparel companies offer runs too.)  If you’re in a major city, you might check out the November Project. And, if you happen to be in my neck of the woods, come join my group! (Details can be found HERE on the Run Oregon Blog.)

Before I run (not literally. ha!), I would be remiss to not take this opportunity to thank our veterans for their service to this country. My deepest gratitude to the men and women who have served for our freedom. “Thanks”, simply is not enough for what you have done but it is all I can offer so THANK YOU!!!

*BOSTON bound, baby!!*

Yesterday was a good day. A really good day. Everything I’ve been working for came to fruition when I got an early birthday gift in my email inbox late yesterday morning from the Boston Athletic Association.

Of course I had to blab about it on Facebook. My status read:

D R E A M S   D O   C O M E   T R U E!!!

I was just notified that my qualifying time and entry into the 2015 Boston Marathon has been accepted!!! I’m overwhelmed with joy and gratitude at the moment. And lots of happy tears.

The dream of qualifying for, and ultimately running Boston, has been a year-and-a-half in the making. I’ve logged hundreds and hundreds of miles, sacrificed Friday nights with friends, been blistered, chafed, and sore more times than I can count, and had many doubts along the way. But I kept fighting because I knew I had to prove to myself that I was worthy of dreaming that big. Thank you, EVERYONE, for your support, encouragement, and love. Whatever it is that you have dared to dream, keep fighting for it!!!! xo

I’ve been savoring the sweet congratulatory messages and reveling in the awesomeness of knowing that it is really, truly going to happen. While there is a lot of work ahead with travel plans and training, for a few days I’m going to just soak it all up. And celebrate!!! ; )

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Celebration in full swing!

*Zaniness at Zion*

The laughs generated by the awesome comments I received after yesterday’s post were much-needed. I wasn’t soliciting an outpouring of support but you guys sure know how to make a girl feel loved!! Thank you!!

Onward!

I’ve been eager to share what went down at Ragnar Trail Zion! I was really blessed to be able to travel down early, get acclimated to the higher elevation, enjoy some sunshine and dry weather, and spend time with my dear friend and her sister. St. George, Utah, is really beautiful and I was so grateful to have a fantastic place to stay so close to the relay site. I was very well cared for!!

On Friday morning I drove from St. George to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. The drive forces you to literally drive 11 miles through Zion. I was really bummed about that. NOT! It is unbelievably gorgeous!! I took my time and made sure to stop for a few pics en route.

Driving through Zion to Ragnar.

The drive through Zion.

The drive through Zion to Ragnar.

Such a gorgeous trip!

Just after you exit the park, you turn off the highway and travel about 6 or so miles up into the hills basically overlooking Zion. My original plan was to pull into the off-site parking and just take my bags with me on the shuttle to the site but I missed the turn and drove right to the ranch. They were asking people to unload and then drive 4 miles back down to park for the weekend.

When I parked to unload, I realized I had no idea where to look for my team… how would I find a group of 7 people I’d never met before among approximately 3000 people and what seemed like about 3000 campsites too? To compound that, I had no cell service where I was at.  I had no choice but to get out, leave the car, and wander around until I *hopefully* found my team.

As far as the eye can see...

Camp at Ragnar Trail Zion!

I started down the road and got maybe 20 feet when I noticed a group of people unloading a car. One of the guys caught my eye. Now I’ve spent weeks interacting with my fellow Nuun Ambassador, George, but I’d never met him in person. From the pictures I’d seen on-line, the guy unloading camping gear seemed to fit George’s likeness. I asked “you’re not George, are you”? To which he replied yes!! What are the odds that we’d arrive at the same time and park within just a few short feet of each other?!?

After introductions, we carried the gear to where another team member had already set up camp complete with two tents, a canopy, a heater to stay warm when temps dropped overnight, chairs, coolers, you name it! But it gets better! Shortly after we arrived, a couple drove up on a golf cart. Another team member and her husband. As it turns out, they had rented a cabin on-site so that her husband could stay there with their 6-year-old grandson, whose dad was also on the team.

Immediately, they offered to allow us to park our cars at the cabin so that we wouldn’t have to bother with the shuttle. Sweet! They also then offered to allow us to use the cabin to shower, sleep, cook/eat or do laundry. What??? Here I was thinking I’d be “roughing it” all weekend. When we got there, which was maybe a quarter of a mile from our campsite, I realized the “cabin” is actually a log house with 3.5 baths, 3 bedrooms and sleeps 11. We were hooked up!!!!

Our first runner started at 2 PM. The camp “village” was buzzing with people and energy. Teams gathered there to send off their runners or hang out while waiting until a runner returned and it was time to switch. That is one of the unique things I really loved about the event. All team members start and finish at the same spot and run loops. It is very different from a traditional relay where you are in a van and drive point-to-point to exchange runners. It was fun to be able to hang out with all members of the team as opposed to just the teammates in your van.

The trail map.

The trail map.

This pattern would continue through the night and wrap up sometime early afternoon on Saturday. At least a week before the event, I started hearing reports that the weather forecast was not looking favorable for the weekend. On Friday afternoon, while it was overcast with some sun breaks, there was a nasty wind and a threat of thunder and lightning. The wind gusts were wicked! Since it is essentially a desert-like climate, it is very dry. Every time the wind would pick up you’d have to turn your back and bury your head in your shirt to avoid getting a mouthful of dirt. Had that been the worst of it, the event would have carried on flawlessly.

I ran my first leg in the early evening and it was a lot of fun! Very treacherous terrain though. The trails are mainly used by equestrians although some were wider to accommodate ATV’s. Either way, a little tricky to navigate. I was sucking air and felt parched but was overall pleased with my time on the 3.1 mile loop which was rated easy. Our estimated pace, as a team, was 11 minute miles. I ran the “green” loop in 30:22, averaging a 9:48 pace.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

Running aside, what was most concerning was the 100% chance of rain forecasted to reach us around 2 AM. Right around the time I’d be on the trail again. Good times. I believe I started running around 1:45 AM on the “red” loop. This loop, rated the hardest of all three, is 8.6 miles with steep hilly sections and what I heard where fantastic views… none of which I got to enjoy because it was pitch black!

As I was waiting for the runner ahead of me to return, the sprinkles started. Over the course of the hour and 43 minutes I was on the course, the rain steadily increased until it was pretty much dumping buckets. Just before mile four I rolled my ankle. Another mile or two later I fell. A mile after that I fell again. It was brutal out there!!! Despite using the headlamp and a small flashlight, my depth perception was way off. I felt like I was drunk. Not the greatest run ever. Bruised and sore, I got back before the weather took another turn for the worse finishing with a 12:20 average pace.

I was freezing the minute I finished, as was the teammate who finished before me, so we hightailed it over to the cabin to shower, get warm, eat, and hopefully catch a nap before we’d be up for round three. We were absolutely soaked, muddy, and miserable and SUPER grateful that we had solution. My heart truly felt for the thousands of people stuck with no option but to wait it out inside a tent!

Around 5 AM we laid down to grab a couple of hours of sleep. When we awoke just a few short hours later, we couldn’t believe the news we were hearing!!! While I was laying there half awake, I decided to check out updates on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. What I discovered was quite a shock. The ambassador rep from Nuun Hydration was at the event and had just posted a group picture of her team in big puffy winter jackets surrounded by SNOW! Lots and lots of it!! I jumped up out of bed and sure enough, a good two inches had fallen in the 2.5 hours I had been asleep. Her caption with the picture read: “SNOW just canceled Ragnar Trail Zion!”

This was NOT in the forecast!

This was NOT in the forecast!

Not sure what was happening back at camp, we didn’t know what to think! Finally our team members began to filter back over to the cabin to relayed the news that indeed, the event had been called due to the snow.

Canceled. Over. Done.

Our final runner on the course was on the same loop I had finished a few hours earlier. While it was light outside, the snow made it nearly impossible to see the trail or the markers meant to help guide us. The poor girl was out there for about 2.5 hours and frozen when she got back!! While it was disappointing that we couldn’t finish what we set off to do, I think the Ragnar team made a good call in cancelling the remainder of the race.

Before and after.

Before and after.

My plan all along was to stay the night after the event was over and camp out with my team. I was a little concerned about traveling back if the conditions worsened but I really wanted to stay. Plus, we had a toasty warm and cozy cabin to stay in complete with a few bottles of wine. I’m a sucker for wine, you know? ; )

And a sucker for the front porch!

And a sucker for the front porch!

I’m so glad I waited it out. The snow melted off later in the afternoon with some mild flurries off and on all evening. I had such a fantastic time bonding with my team while sitting around a propane heater watching it snow. We made the very best of the situation and I think that memory will stay with me longer than the one of the cancelled event.

Team bonding post-relay.

Team bonding post-relay.

Sunday morning we woke to blue sky! I began making my way back to St. George but took my time, again stopping several times for pictures and little walks along the Virgin River.

The Virgin River in Zion.

The Virgin River in Zion.

That view is awe inspiring!

That view is awe-inspiring!

I fell in love with the sweet little town at the entrance to the park, Sringdale, Utah. It’s a quaint tourist town with lots of cute shops, restaurants, and kindred nature-loving spirits. I had to stop for a snack and took a short walk around town before the final stretch of the drive back.

Such a great group of people!!

Such a great group of people!!

Team Captain George and I before departing.

Team Captain George and I before departing.

I would not change a single thing about my journey, the race, or my time there. Everything happens for a reason and I feel so very blessed to have been extended the invite and the opportunity to actually go. I met some fantastic people whom I hope to cross paths with again in the future. I got to spend time with a my friend and I got to experience the vast beauty of Zion. It was such a wonderful trip!!!

Rumor has it that the cabin has already been reserved for next year…

*Boston strong(er) than ever*

There is not much more that I can say, in regards to the Boston Marathon yesterday, that I’m sure hasn’t already been said. In a word, unbelievable! What an amazing day to be an American and what an awesome way to celebrate our strength, tenacity, and bond formed by this crazy love of running.

Watching the Boston Marathon coverage is serious business in my house!

Watching the Boston Marathon coverage is serious business in my house!

I was glued to my television all morning and moved to near tears on several occasions watching the coverage. Especially watching Shalane. Her deep determination was evident by her stride. Every step full of purpose. She wanted to win and she wanted it bad. I was heartbroken for her when she lost her lead and I was pissed at the commentators remarks about her devastating “bonk”. You don’t bonk and then set the fastest female course record for an American! She may not have crossed the finish line first but she won the race in our hearts without a doubt. Her accomplishment yesterday was truly amazing and such a joy to watch!

Then there is Meb. Wowza! I don’t think I’ve ever been on the edge of my seat more than watching those last few miles of his race yesterday. A well-earned victory for Meb, for Boston, for the victims of the bombings last year, and for the running community. He shined out there!

I saw quote from Meb on Facebook earlier, posted by my friend at Running with Music:

“But I also realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.”

                                                                                                                                   ~ Meb Keflezighi

Every account of the day… the race… the experiences of those running it….  the Boston Marathon yesterday was everything it should be and should have been last year. While I have yet to run Boston, it meant so much more to me this year. Knowing that I’ve earned a spot among some of the most gifted and passionate people to ever run… well I get goosebumps! I cannot wait to join the ranks as a Boston marathoner!