To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Friday, September 27, 2019

When First Met Worst

Here's the story of this photo from the 2019 Hood to Coast relay.... when the first place team met Lady Storm Squad. **We were NOT the Worst, but it rhymed!

I had finished my second run of the relay. I was in the process of trying to not be sweaty so I could change into my next set of clothes and feel slightly clean again. We had a runner on the course, one runner getting ready, and a third walking with her to the exchange so she could then walk our current runner back to the van. Meanwhile 3 of us were in the van talking and relaxing. Shawn, our driver, was taking advantage of a calm moment to get out and walk around. That's when he spotted the van.

Knowing I'm totally a watching of other teams and always looking out for names I know he knew he had to point out the van behind us. Oh my gosh, it's Bowerman! Bowerman TC to be exact. And being Shawn, he quickly went over to talk to them! (FYI, if you don't want to actually talk to someone or get a photo then don't you dare say it out loud near Shawn or it WILL happen!) Jill liked the yeti -- so this happened thanks to Shawn!

Oh wait, for those of you not obsessed with tracking certain teams... Bowerman might click in the heads of Oregonians as being a Nike name.... like Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike and college coach of my idol Steve Prefontaine. The Bowerman team is not one to even dream of competing with. These guys are faster than fast.

During Shawn's conversation he learned they would be at that exchange for 7 minutes.  Not 6, not 8, not even 10. These guys knew their paces and teammates so well, they knew that they had only 7 minutes until they would be back on the road. They were running on track at this point to be the winners. *Spoiler alert, they won!

Well, being Shawn, he asked Chris if I could have my photo taken with him. What Shawn did NOT know is that while that was happening I was sitting in the van completely topless! I had on my Chawel (my bag/towel/blanket/portable changing room), so it wasn't like a full blown boobie show or anything. I popped my head out when he shouted my name, and then he just died laughing. I had now less than 7 minutes to get my photo with this guy and I'm half naked. I've never managed to get on a sports bra and shirt over a sweaty body so fast!

But obviously I pulled it off! I got to shake hands, chat about how I was just in his home town less than a week ago, and then wish them well. We said we'd see each other at the finishing party the next day ... and I DID in fact see him... as they were getting their trophy!

Meanwhile, Lady Storm Squad continued to run our best and have fun making our way to the coast. And we beat one team.

And we were freaking awesome!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My 10th Prefontaine Memorial Race!

If you know me as a runner at all then you know Steve Prefontaine is my idol. He is what motivates me to run. I did my first Prefontaine Memorial 10K through his hometown of Coos Bay, Oregon in 2010 and was instantly hooked. I made it a vow to always do the race no matter what. When doctor's said I was too old of a pregnant lady to run I still went and did the 2 miler. I just cannot miss this race. Heck, this year I even cancelled a family camping trip because it was scheduled for the same weekend. This. Is. My. Race.

This year was my 10th running of it, and the 40th anniversary of the race in general. To say it was an important one to me would be a huge understatement. I wanted to do something big this year. I wanted to run my best. I wanted this one to be one I would remember. Well... I also didn't plan on having my brain leaking for a few months and thus not being able to train like I had wanted. But that's okay. I DID do my best that day and it is certainly one I will remember!

It is common knowledge (I think) that I tend to put a lot of thought into my race attire. The reasons for what I wear might not always be obvious to outsiders, but they have meaning to me. This year was no different. I ran my first Pre in 2010 in my Prefontaine "Love To Run" shirt. I wore that shirt again in 2012 for my first marathon. With this being my 10 year anniversary I knew this was obviously the shirt for me! And as I was dying on Agony Hill someone quoted my shirt back to me, reminding me that I love to run. Thanks, I needed that!! **He did then say "Downhill, right?!?" Exactly!!

My entourage and I arrived at packet pick up over an hour before the race, just as I prefer. I was able to get my bib, shirt and tons of free posters of Pre!!! My running room already has 3 up, but I will never turn down a free poster with Steve on it. Once I had finished collecting my things we drove up to park at Marshfield High School by the finish line. It was here that my attention was caught. As I lubed up my toes, got my socks and shoes on, and brushed my hair I kept watching these older men. They were the same age that Pre would be if he were still alive. They had matching Men of Oregon shirts on. Who were they? I needed to know. But I'm shy. If you've done a relay with Shawn in your van you know that he is NOT shy and he would get to the bottom of this!

Around 9am we left and went to downtown Coos Bay for the start line activities. There was a little marketplace thing being set up with various vendors. We had an hour to kill, so we went shopping! And I noticed the heat. It was so early and it was already noticeably warm. Ugh... I love this course when it is raining. This is not one that you want to tackle on a hot day!

At 9:45 I made my way into the Art Museum so I could pay my respects to Pre in his dedicated room and hit one final potty stop. On the way I ran into more of these men in the matching shirts. I started texting Shawn their bib numbers so we could look them up after the race. Well, while I was in there he was outside talking to some of them! Turns out there are a group all put together of people that new Pre in some capacity. Some ran with him in college, high school, etc... I knew it! While I was in Pre's room with two of these men I completely eavesdropped on their conversation. One of them was saying how he was talking to Jeff Galloway at the last summer Olympics and wondered if  maybe Pre is so important to running because he died so young and at the top of his game. Jeff Galloway told him that he thinks Pre would have been very impactful and helpful to the running world and still very active. He said Pre's attitude and desire woudl have made him the best coach out there!

Finally it was time to run. At 10:05am Linda Prefontaine started us off on our race. I'd be very happy to see her again because that would be I was at the finish line! I started off strong and happy. My cheer squad was a ways down the course watching for me, so I knew I had to at least pretend to be an awesome runner until I passed them, right?!? Unintentionally I started the race behind 3 of the men I had been watching in the parking lot. I made a note to myself that I ran with Pre's peers for .2 miles before I backed off. Go me... ha!

At .92 miles I passed one of these men. Forget that he is almost 80, okay. My goal was then to just try to beat him. Let me be faster than ONE person that knew Pre. To cut to the chase - my goal was complete, and I did see that speedy old guy finish the race after me! 

Race wise I have nothing to report. It was a standard Pre. I ran awesome downhill, I tried going up, then walked fast the rest of the way up. Except Agony Hill. I was so hot that I actually did get concerned about myself at one point. I didn't have a need to push so hard that some of the EMTs along the course would have to come save me. So I happily walked up Agony Hill with a bunch of other people that were equally hot and melting.

I felt like I had the track to myself at the end, and I freaking loved it! I still gave it my finishing kick even though I had no one to pass and no one behind me trying to pass me. *Psh, nobody passes me on Pre's track!! This year was the first year we got finisher's medals, which was a nice surprise. I never leave feeling sad that I didn't get a medal, but this year felt appropriate to receive one. I happily have it hanging at home with my collection!

Did I run my fastest? Hell no. Not even close. Did I enjoy every step? Heck yes!! Did I sweat a ton and end up a gross, stinky mess? YES! Will I do it again next year? Are you kidding?? OF COURSE!

Friday, August 30, 2019

HTC19: Leg 25 - Running With Elites

By the time anyone in a relay is running their 3rd leg they are undoubtedly tired. You haven't slept. You haven't had normal food. You haven't bathed. By this point in a race I've brushed my teeth outside of the van. I've dozed off. I've frozen. I've tried to thaw. You're just trying to keep going mentally because physically you've put yourself through the ringer. For a few hours we slept on some freezing cold cots near St. Helens. When we woke up my shoe wasn't even under the canopy anymore because the wind had blown it around and it was now outside. Nobody else was there. It was Lady Storm Squad and an empty field, except for a few vans that were sending out their runners in van 2. We loaded up and navigated our way to Mist. I lead us the wrong way accidentally - I think we can easily blame lack of brain functioning at 4something in the morning! But we got on track and eventually we were at the next major exchange. We had some time to kill, so I managed to doze off in the van before officially getting myself ready to run.

And this is when I knew my final run was going to be a good one. I had on bright clothes, as suggested by the Hood to Coast people. I had my compression sock and shoes on. It was time to force myself to hydrate and focus. And what happened? Shawn pointed out a van just a few spots down. The Dead Jocks!!! The team of older men runners I was so hoping to see last year... and here they were! Basically Lady Storm Squad was a bit behind schedule, and now the elite teams that started hours after us were by us - in the process of passing and leaving us in their dust. I had a fan girl moment - but kept it cool. I got my photos and tried to absorb the energy of the elites. Not only were the Dead Jocks by us, but right in front of us was a Bowerman team. We met the Bowerman TC team that won the entire race earlier shortly after I finished my second run. I can say that they are incredibly runners ... but also pretty cool people! They didn't give off any sort of bad attitude or judgment toward us non-elite runners.

I got myself to the exchange area and began the wait for Lisa with the slap bracelet. While waiting I heard another team come in searching for their next runner. Heart and Sole!! You may remember them from last year's finish area and I got to meet them. Dead Jocks and Heart & Sole are 2 of the teams featured in the Hood to Coast documentary I can't stop raving about.

When Lisa handed off the slap bracelet to me and I began my final run I had this realization. For at least a moment I was running the same leg at the same time as these two teams! Pretty darn cool if you ask me!

My H2C music play list was on shuffle, and it seemed like all the best ones kept coming on. This was all falling into place. Last year our runner started this leg in the dark, but for me the sun was shining. That meant great visibility... to see the cows! The cows motivated me to keep going. I ran a really good chunk of this leg before allowing myself a tiny walk break. I just felt awesome. I was in the zone mentally and physically. I managed to pass some people, and I managed to have some of the elite teams fly by me as expected. Overall it was just really nice. I loved the farm lands. I loved the course. If you have eventually stop your individual running portion of a relay, well, I couldn't imagine ending mine any better!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

HTC19: Leg 13 - It Was Just So Hot

I really had no idea what to expect on my second leg. I knew the course perfectly. I didn't know the weather. Come on - this is Oregon after all. Oregon in late August. And it was 6pm. My race outfit certainly captured my uncertainty on what I was in for. Due to the time of day I was required to run with a reflective vest and red flashy lights on my body. I had to have with my a headlamp. But it was so sunny, naturally I had to have my sunglasses. Should I throw on the tank top? Will I did in short sleeves? Will I get a sunburn in the tank top? In the end I took my sunglasses, stayed in short sleeves and shoved my headlamp in my race belt. Clearly it was not going to get dark while I was out there so I felt no need for the visor and headlamp to actually be on my head making me sweat. That was a lot of babble!

Prior to the run I snapped some photos to share with you all where I would be running. I had time to kill after all. And so then I snapped some other photos too....

After a lot of stretching, rolling out my legs and hydrating it was time to find Van 2 and get myself in position for Lisa's hand off. It's a good thing I'm me and I can get into a zone at a race because otherwise I might have felt silly for what I did to kill time. I stretched. I paced. I obsessively looked at the path Lisa would be running down. I checked my Garmin over and over. I checked my music. I tap danced.

Ugh, I'm nervous just remembering my nerves. Seriously, WHY??? We all know I've done an insane amount of races. Will I ever get these nerves under control? I suspect not.

Once I saw her I felt better. Lisa came down the path, around the last corner and boom, Hand Off Complete! I waved at my teammates and started off ... but running up stairs?? Crazy. And yep, that happened. Immediately I was running west over the Hawthorne Bridge to get me to the regular part of downtown Portland. It was really nice actually. A lot of people were milling about along the waterfront, which was motivation to just keep moving.

I made it pretty far until it happened. My shins. Dang. They were so tight. I took a moment to use the railing and try to stretch out my legs more. I don't know if it really helped or not. Back at it I went. Then I was smack dab in the middle of transients. My hometown can't even complain about homelessness when you compare it to what I saw during that short segment of this run. It was more than I've ever seen in that area before when I've run through. Knowing it typically smells bad there, and not wanting to really lolly gag, I powered through the pain.

I essentially ran in a straight path from the Hawthorne Bridge to the exchange. I'd make little goals like "run to the shade and walk until the sun". There was a café on my route with spectators outside watching. A mom was there expecting her daughter any minute. She could tell I was struggling and jumped up and gave me some water. What a peach! I appreciated it so much.

After that I paced off a girl that Robin said was my twin ... cute pink skirt and fun knee high socks. As long as I had her within a nice range I was happy. If she ran I made sure to run. I promise I was NOT close enough for it to be creepy. I think we runners use each other as pacers all the time, so this was just normal.

I was very happy to see the exchange coming up. My legs did feel better the longer I ran, so that did help me out in the last bit. On came my smile, up went my poster, and into the exchange I went! Oh boy was I happy to see Jill!

This is typical of a relay. I mean you're running back to back to back with no rest and hardly any food. Looking back, it did hurt, but I'm actually happy with what I did. I kept myself mentally grounded and knew when to push and when to back off. On a normal day, sure, I could have been better, but in a relay after running down a mountain... I'm pretty darn happy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

HTC19: Leg 1. So Full of Awesome

The 2019 Hood to Coast Relay was my 6th relay so far. This single run was by far my absolute favorite! I don't know that it could ever be topped, but I'm game to keep doing relays and seeing what can compete with it. Last year I filled in a spot at the last minute and was runner 2. I loved running down that section of the mountain, so when this year's team formed I crossed my fingers to be runner 1. I love a challenge, and I saw that crazy hill as a doable challenge where I could push myself to run hard, not fall, and do my best to help the team get a little ahead of schedule. Let's be honest - if you assign me to do some serious UPhill runs then you're not going to get a speedy run out of me. I can walk that sucker fast, though. So back to my first leg.....

We left Tillamook at 8pm Thursday night, arriving at a rest area in Government Camp at 11pm. This would be our stopping point for the night, and given this was also my exchange point I knew we were about 6 miles from the start line. I set my alarm for 4:30am and just hoped. I hoped I'd actually be able to sleep in the van for most of those 5 1/2 hours. I was wrong. I tried to not move too much so I wouldn't annoy the other 6 people sleeping. At 3:30am I was sitting there staring at the lights blinking in the intersection. And then I had to pee.  Well that was that for me. So at 3:30am I was in the very warm bathroom brushing my teeth and doing my make up as I prepared for my first leg of this relay. Then I killed more time staring out the window in the van watching the teams drive by as they worked their way up the mountain to the start line. My nerves were very happy once we were in motion and starting our big climb as well.

It was dark the entire time, so you won't see any pretty sunrise photo of Mount Hood right here. But it was still great to round that corner and see it looking down at us! Once we parked Sara and I jumped out of the van with our safety gear in hand and booked it to the safety check-in tent. We got there at 5:15am. It was here I knew I was going to have a good run. Why? Because over the loud speaker they were playing my song... Back That Azz Up!
Girl, you looks good, won't you back that azz up
You'se a fine mother***er, won't you back that azz up
Call me Big Daddy when you back that azz up
Hoe, who is you playin wit? Back that azz up
This run was going to be my bitch. I knew it! The safety check was fast, and I quickly had the slap bracelet on, giving us the official OK to start our race. I ran up the hill to the merchandise tent for quick look around. Tried on a shirt, tossed it at Shawn. Saw a visor, grabbed it, tossed it on Shawn. And then I was out of there!

I approached the start area and was told I was checked in and to hop on into the official area. Oh man, I got goosebumps just thinking about it again. Here all of us took turns taking photos for each other under the start line. And then we all patted shoulders and wished each other good luck. I really liked it. It was this crazy sense of community we built in a matter of moments.

At 5:30am we were off!! I started basically at the back of the pack because I think ahead ... I asked Robin if she could get a photo of me running and for that to happen I knew I needed to be on the far right side by the spectators, which meant getting at the back of the group. Starting in the back meant I had a whole pack of runners I could pass. And pass them I did! As one who is usually passed, but with downhill running being my forte, I had an absolute blast racking up the kills. I slaughtered them! *Kills are what you call it when you pass runners during a relay. I am normally road kill. 

We started in the dark. Around me it was a sea of red flashing lights, headlamps, and safety vests reflecting off the van headlights heading up and down the mountain. But as I worked my way down I came around a corner and was greeted by the sunrise working its way into the day. It was awesome!! I am so happy I have mastered taking photos while running because this was a sight I didn't want to forget and I wanted to be able to share with everyone.

As we drove up to the start line we saw the first wave of runners heading down. I said I hoped I would make it far down the mountain before the next wave of runners passed me. Well.... one woman I saw running in the 5am wave... yeah... I passed her. I was the 5:30am wave. And I had maybe a mile, I think less, to go before I was passed by only 2 men from the 5:45am wave of runners. Who am I?!? Where did this speed come from? I love it!

I don't know what more I can say about this. I ran downhill for miles. I never stopped. I didn't want to stop. If they'd have let me I would have just continued and ran leg 2 as well. Going into this everyone tells you how Leg 1 is the hard one. It is quad pounding. You kill your legs for the rest of the relay. Well when I finished that run I felt incredible! The only strange issue I experienced was my chest hurting as I came in to the end. But I also had major elevation change so I imagine my body will notice that in unexpected ways. My butt discovered muscles in it I didn't know exist. Oh man, I just loved it. Absolute pure joy. Not gonna lie, I still feel that run and I got pretty stiff throughout the relay.... but still even today I was thinking how I would love to go back and have someone take me to Timberline Lodge and just meet me at the bottom so I could do it all over again. It was ridiculously fun!


As I approached Government Camp I had the tiniest hill. Nobody would call it a hill, but any incline after the steep decline I had feels like a hill. I didn't let it stop me. I knew the exchange area well since I had just slept in it, so I powered on through. Along the way I ran into the volunteer I visited with twice in the bathroom prior to the race!

Sadly all good things come to an end. I was happy to see Jill's pretty face waiting for me, but darn it, that means the greatest run of my life was over. I just hope I can do it again some day!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Am I A Run-lebrity??

I had a lovely dinner with a runner friend this weekend. I'm not kidding when I say we have met MANY times, all of them unplanned and all of them during a race or post-race party. To actually be clean and sitting down and just chatting - it was wonderful. Let's do it again, Emily!! During our convos, which naturally revolved around running and our mutual love of Disney, we realized I've had more than one instance of being noticed at a race. I'm no Kara Goucher by any means, but am I accidentally a normal person celebrity runner now?? Let's dive into the past and see!

Let's go alllll the way back. Not to the beginning, but still pretty early on. August 2010 to be exact. I didn't find a photo of it quickly (which means I probably looked awful) but it happened. Solely for being runner 1069 I was called on stage for the "getting lucky" award at the Skirt Chaser 5K. Dirty! But hey, I won a gift card just for the pure luck of being #69 so I won't complain. Nothing too celebrity about it, but I did get to meet the head gal of Skirt Sports when she called me up. So just a tiny taste of runlebrity life!

Things took a BIG turn at the 2012 Tower of Terror 10 Miler!  Jessica and I put a lot of thought into our race attire and decided on Wizard of Oz! We gave ourselves the team name of Sister Witches, which I believe we made a song about during the race to the tune of Night Ranger's Sister Christian. Prior to the race we took advantage of the fun back drops of photos. Little did we expect to find this photo on the official runDisney facebook page after the race!

The Disney celebrity streak continues....

In 2013 during the Walt Disney World half marathon we ended up on TV! I could never find it online, so I can't share it. Shawn and I were running out of Cinderella's Castle, hit a photo spot, then continued on. It was then that a guy with a media badge and huge camera ran along side of us and told us to smile and keep running... so we did. Turns out family in Oregon saw us on a Fox Sports report later that day! Here is a photo moments before our run by moment of fame:

The next day we were running the Walt Disney World marathon, completely our guest to be Goofy. I'd like to note at this time you should NEVER run in cotton, especially black cotton, during ANY race - especially one that is 26.2 miles long in Florida and you have a cape. This moment of fame was smaller. We were coming up to the back cast entrance of Disney's Animal Kingdom and I heard a fellow runner say my blog name. From the back, while running, and because of this blog I was recognized?!?! CRAZY!!

Later in 2013 we ran the Prefontaine Memorail 10K, as per usual. We felt like doing costumes and just being silly. In 2014 at the race I couldn't help but notice something familiar about the official race shirt. Can I claim I inspired their design? Sure. Can I prove that? Well, no. But come on...

2013 was a big race year! In November I found myself in Arizona running the Women's Half Marathon. That race was so hot. Locals were in pants and sweatshirts prior to the race. I was comfortable in my SKIRT and short sleeve shirt. Why is SKIRT in bold? This brush of fame was because of my skirt, and I wasn't the famous one. A woman came up behind me and complimented me on my skirt. I turned around, was in awe and said, "I like yours, too!" and we both laughed... SHE and her sister are the creators of my skirts!! That was a pretty cool moment. I've seen the sisters other times as well, but this moment topped them all.

I nearly forgot about this next one! Thank you, Emily, for reminding me. Rock'n'Roll Vancouver was having a costume contest with their race since it was near Halloween. Well, gosh, if you insist! My first time in Canada meant I was going full Canadian with this one. We actually didn't run this one together, but did meet up at the last mile, which was perfect for this finish line moment! When we crossed one of the official RnR people was there with his camera and we had a spontaneous photo shoot, resulting in this promo shot they used later!

Little did we know that we would continue our celebrity streak the following month in Walt Disney World during the Wine and Dine races. We were up ridiculously early for the Jingle Jungle 5K race. And when we stepped into the bus that took us to Disney's Animal Kingdom for the race, well... we got a few looks for our fellow racers. Apparently our look was loved by runDisney, and we were their first tweet of the morning! Not only a tweet, but we made it (mostly Shawn) into their official video recap of the day's first race!

We didn't have any fame at the Wine and Dine half marathon that night really, but we did get recognized in the corral by a guy that was also at the morning 5K. That was pretty impressive considering we didn't go in makeup for the half and instead went as Pinocchio and Gepetto!

Video here!

Running had a sort of hiatus after this race weekend because creating a baby was more important! But eventually I was back racing here and there. I didn't have another brush with being famous until the 2018 Ragnar Northwest Passage. I was on my first leg of the race, and as I always do, I took a photo of the slap bracelet.  After the race Ragnar shared photos on their facebook page. What was the photo they used as their headline shot to get people to look? This one right below. MY photo! My finger tips are famous!

You'd think it would stop there, right? I didn't! One month later Lady Storm Squad was at the top of Mount Hood waiting for the start of Hood to Coast. What happened? Our whole team became famous when we ended up on the news!!

Video here!

Surely there can't be anymore, right? Well... that darn silver skirt proves to be lucky I guess. I was wearing it at the start line AND at the finish line. As it turns out that skirt is now in the official 2019 Hood to Coast race bible on page 16!! This might be THE most exciting all of of these. I mean there I am, at my bucket list dream race with the team I admire and was stalking the whole race... and now it is in print for this year's race. Pretty stinking awesome!

I swear I don't do anything to make this happen. I might dress in costumes and wear fun clothes, but I'm quite reserved and shy in race situations. These things just sort of happen! I wonder what will be next!