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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Prefontaine Memorial Run - 9 Years and Counting!

2018 marked the 39th year of the Prefontaine Memorial run in Coos Bay, Oregon. 39 years.... and I am 39... and this is my 9th year of racing it. So many 9s! And with this being my 9th year this might be the best one so far. Not my fastest, but overall still my best!

I was up very early to get ready for the race and he drive to the coast. Odd for me, I never set out a single thing the night before. After my shower I went down to my running room and and started grabbing what I needed without any nerves bothering me. What??!! At the same time I was gathering clothes for my little girl, and I think all the mother distractions actually helped this year. No time for nerves when you’re focused on someone else’s needs!

Around 8:15am our family was pulling into the Catholic Church for packet pick-up, and as always it was so easy and full of the nicest volunteers. Everyone there is like me... all about Pre and ready for a great day of remembering him!

We parked up at Marshfield High School (the finish line) and took time getting myself all set to run and dressing my little cheerleader. (She wasn’t too excited about having to put on pants, socks and a jacket for the first time in months!) There was plenty of time to kill, so we took a leisurely walk to downtown Coos Bay to visit a Prefontaine Memorial and some of the vendors setting up for the big festival about to happen.

Come 9:45 I was officially getting in the zone. I went upstairs in the art museum to the Prefontaine room where I could spend some time alone soaking in the greatness of my idol and visualize my race. I think it worked!

After a slight delay Linda Prefontaine (Steve’s sister) started our race and I was off on the most enjoyable experience in a very tough course!

I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted my cheerleaders on the sidewalk waving at my as I enjoyed the one flat spot on the course (other than the finish line). It was the perfect start to a race!

In no time at all it gets real. The hills begin. Up, down, up, down, down, down, up, down... and then flip that around and come back ... which means tons of up, up, up.

When that first hill started I just kept going. It was weird. I mean I was feeling great. Knowing this course so well I made the smart choice to start walking. I can walk fast when I want to. Perhaps it was because I wore my Lady Storm Squad hoodie before the race (??) but I laughed when I realized I was counting kills during my walk.... any walker I passed while also walking I was counting as a kill. Then I realized I couldn’t keep track and gave up on that.

And then I really got in the zone. It was always my favorite, but after Hood to Coast and running down a mountain I was all about the long downhill. I hauled ass and it felt incredible! I even pushed harder than normal and was having a blast!

My plan on this course is always the same —- fly down, walk fast up, finish strong on the track. I even pass people trying to run up when I’m walking, so I just stick with my plan and it keeps my legs happy. I do run uphill for a while, don't get me wrong. And this year every time I was running and thought of backing off I channeled the confidence I got from Lady Storm Squad and continued to push. I really can't stress how great Hood to Coast and Lady Storm Squad was for me. It was exactly what I didn't know I needed!

The runners this year were so friendly, maybe it was our perfect weather. I chatted with so many people and even ran with a coach or athletic director of some sort for a little while. Also of note, the first place female did it in her Hood to Coast shirt! And that girl's brother won for the men. This race is definitely a family affair! 

With around half a mile to go I got really social. I have no idea what was in me, but I do remember thinking (this is corny!) Wow, Pre really IS running with me. I felt weightless. My legs were just going. I wasn't panting. I was smiling. I was having such a runner high! There was a couple I started by and kept leap frogging with during the race. I started up convo with them, sharing with them how impressed I was because even with the gnarly hills we had to climb I never once saw the walking. Another women I was leapfrogging with during the last mile complimented me on my socks - which led to me asking about her adorable leggings that I really want. We all sort of ran together for the last stretch until we reached the top of the last tiny, yet steep hill. 

After that last incline we make the turn onto Elrod. I always get quiet here and give a special nod to the Prefontaine home as I round the final corner and set my eyes on Marshfield High School. Nothing distracted me and I kept laser focus on the entrance to the track. Football players and spectators line the entrance to the track, cheering on all of the runners. While you run that final lap the cheerleaders are there cheering you on. Up until this year it was always just a mental imagine I kept, but for some reason I decided why not get a selfie on Pre's track?? I have never done it, and I have mastered taking photos while running, so I did it!

I slipped my phone back in my belt and charged forward to that last turn that I love so much. Normally I'd be ramping up my pace but this year my little mini-me came running to the track to run with me! We smiled for a photo - but sadly it didn't turn out (you can see that photo below - and her tiny little hand). I sent her back to her daddy and went into the hardest finish line sprint ever. I was all smiles as I crossed that finish line! And then my jaw dropped when I looked at my Garmin. Did I seriously just run my second fastest time on that course?? There is no way I could have gotten a PR, that I know. I set my current 10K PR on this course in 2012 when I was only 3 weeks away from running the marathon, so I was in excellent race shape! But this year I certainly haven't done any speed work, I took a freaking selfie and on course photos, I hauled ass walking up Agony Hill ... and I still shaved over 4 minutes off of last year's time that I was pretty happy about. Hot dog!

I really don't ever care about my finish times and I never discuss them. This race, for me, definitely isn't about any competition. This is my chance to run in the footsteps of my idol, and this year was so incredibly fun! The atmosphere, the support of fellow runners, my family cheering me on at the beginning and end, it was the best!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Is There Life After Hood to Coast?

  • Years of fantasizing about a race.
  • About a month before it happened I was asked to join a team.
  • My life was 100% Hood to Coast!! Training, packing, daydreaming, packing, watching the movie, packing, studying my course maps, packing, making rice krispy bars for the vans, and some more packing.
  • Then I was loading the car and heading north to Tillamook to meet the new team!!
  • At 3am we were officially on our way to Mount Hood to begin the race, and way too soon after it was all done.
  • I was showering in a hotel in Lincoln City - twice - and eating everything I could get my hands on.
A few days later I woke up at home completely confused. Where was I? Where was the team? Oh no, do I need to get my bib on? Am I up next? What exchange are we at? I sat there looking around for way too long before I realized it was all over and my life is now back to normal.

Or is it??

Maybe it is, if we are going back to my normal of heading out for training runs and doing fun races with my friends! My little girl is so into running right now, which really helps. She knows I'm getting ready to run when she sees me go downstairs to grab my tech clothes and put on my Garmin. She will even bring me my shoes once I'm ready - and she never complains when she gets to come along in her stroller. I have quite the cheerleader! And this is good ... because the race calendar is filling up!

Next weekend is the Prefontaine Memorial race in Coos Bay, and any long-term reader of this blog should know I never miss this one... and even did it while sporting a baby bump - which I nearly bumped right into Frank Shorter (Pre's friend)!

A few days ago a member of Lady Storm Squad brought up the idea of running the Holiday Half Marathon in Portland this December. Did I even take a moment to ponder it? Basically no. So that is now on the calendar.... and photos show that tends to be a cold, rainy one. I run great in those conditions, and there are cookies on the course, so this WILL be fun!! Thanks, Dustin, for getting the ball rolling on this. I'm glad to have half marathon #32 on the calendar!

From there the calendar is temporarily empty. Only temporary because the registration dates for more relays haven't opened up yet!

I have chosen to take on the task of being a team Captain for next year's Ragnar Northwest Passage! This year's race left me unsatisfied. I have a score to settle with that course. 2019 will be my 3rd year in a row at this relay, and I will show up ready to kick some hilly, Pacific Northwest ass!! AND better yet, if all goes as planned and we can avoid injuries or life events from deterring anybody, we have an awesome team all lined up!

You'll definitely see faces you recognize from this blog... not only the other half of Tew Legit in van 1 (i.e. my husband), but two other Tew members keeping it fun in van two. Do we like the number 2? Perhaps. How about adding in my bridesmaid that totally made my day by whipping money out of her bra during her dance down the aisle in Las Vegas??!! She and I can tackle an expo like nobody else, so if there is anything free to snag for our van at Ragnar you can guarantee we will get it! And speaking of Ragnar - you'll hopefully be seeing Tabitha's face again this time. We met in the back of  a Ragnar van last year and are itching to do it again together! Remember Lady Storm Squad? Ha, as if I'd let you forget .... well.... each van is going to get a dose of Hood to Coast celebrity status thrown in for good measure! Plus we have some new faces yet to be seen on the blog that I am sure will add plenty of speed and flavor to our team!

I've been a Captain now for, oh, a few minutes, and it is already fun, exciting and challenging! But it will all come together by next July and you'll be seeing way too much about it!

AND *knock on wood* I am happy to say Lady Storm Squad will be back!! We WILL be running Hood to Coast next year (and 2020 if we can pull it off!) ... but we will need YOUR help to do it! That will come in its own post later, but I can say I am so excited about what it going on with that. Excited, scared, nervous, and determined! All the emotions and me stepping way out of my comfort zone in an effort for some incredible fun while helping out people that really need it!

So expect much more running on this blog... and when a toddler allows I will resume some of my fun posts about those crazy days living in Walt Disney World!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

HTC18: Finish Line Festival

I've had some pretty cool race finishes in my time.... crossing the 50 yard line at Reser Stadium twice!, throwing up on Hayward Field, every year finishing on Steve Prefontaine's track in Coos Bay, crying happy tears in Walt Disney World as I finished after 3 solid days of racing.... but this one... Hood to Coast... come on ... We finished ON THE BEACH!! And not only that, we did it as a TEAM!

But before we have that finish line moment, why don't we take a look at everything else that went on prior. Warning, this might be photo heavy because who doesn't love photos?!?

Before we reached the official beach we made a stop at this totally adorable bowling alley/restaurant for the food we had been fantasizing about for 199 miles! Were our eyes possibly bigger than our stomachs? Probably, but that happens! Everyone was freshened up as much as one can be and we were heading to park for the shuttle to take us to the finish line. The shuttle meant room to sprawl out for the first time. And it also meant more team photos! 

The energy in the air upon our arrival at the beach was so strong! People had finished, people were finishing, people were waiting to finish. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. I think we all whipped out phones to snap pictures as soon as we could see everything. Announcers in one booth were calling numbers of teams to line up because their final runner was coming up soon. The finish line announcer was saying team names as they crossed. A band was playing on the opposite end. In the middle people were testing free samples of products, entering contests, shopping, getting photos, and hitting the beach. Let's take a little photo trip through my experience, shall we?!

We've been waiting 199 miles for this initial view in Seaside, Oregon!

 Renee/Ronda selfie!

Excited to take off my shoes and feel sand on my feet, I decided we needed a feet in the sand photo... and we discovered our matching polish. Our friendship was meant to be!

Did someone say merchandise tent?? Was I able to stay out of it? No. I saw children's clothes for sale, and those weren't available at the start. So my little girl now has a Hood to Coast t-shirt and hoodie to grow into! And I got myself one more nice, long-sleeve shirt with a collar suitable for running OR wearing to work!

This is the stretch of other stuff I wasn't all that into. I checked out the samples and enjoyed walking around with Dustin and Renee though! It was so fun to just relax, feel sand in my toes, and hang out with my new best friends!

We didn't go IN to the concert area, because I think it was all part of the beer garden section and required ID. I had my ID, but I also didn't have the energy to bother with it. BUT we could still hear the music everywhere and it was quite fun, worthy of dancing and singing along!

It did take us a couple minutes to understand what we were looking at, but then Renee, Dustin and I took advantage of this to show off our number of kills. Yeah, mine is small.... but I'll take it!

We found the cutest photo op... and getting up into it was a challenge! All those miles we ran, and then Renee and I were hurting and extra stiff and slow, so this ended up quite funny!

I cannot go to a beach and not go IN. It's just unheard of. Who cares that it was chilly, I HAD to get my feet in the water. So I did just that!

For those of you that didn't make it all the way out into the ocean like I did, here's the finishing party view from way the heck out there! Biggest beach ever and longest run to the water? Yes!

After the water we made our way back to the official party to meet up with the rest of Van 1 who had been shopping - I think. We were in a cluster among a swarm of people when it happened. When I totally had a fan girl moment. No, Jimmy Buffett wasn't there (but Hood to Coast people - let's work on that for 2019, okay?!?), but a different type of celebrity was.

The entire race, beginning at the start line, I was "stalking" one team... Heart 'N Sole. They are one of the four teams featured it the Hood to Coast documentary that Lady Storm Squad had to hear about the entire weekend. I saw their van and was on a mission to spot the runners. Throughout the race we were always on pace with them, and I was constantly seeing their van and runners milling about. But I hadn't seen Kathy yet. She is so inspirational to me, the entire team is. Watch this documentary to understand! She went a couple of minutes without a heartbeat during her final leg in Hood to Coast one year. They were able to save her... and she is STILL doing this race! Kathy is a strong woman, as well as the rest of her team. #goals 

I was stunned when THE Kathy went walking by with some of her teammates. OMG, there she is!! So what did I do? I weenied out and clicked a photo of her walking away. (She's the blond in the photo.) Recalling the time I did this same pathetic thing with Joey Fatone, my husband took charge and ran after them. I followed! The next thing I knew it was nearly a group hug and me being the huge dorky fan right to their faces and just being way too excited to meet them! Sure, they are normal women, but to see how great of a team they are, how they support each other, and how they are still running, when clearly they aren't in their 20s anymore, well to be they are pretty darn cool and I was so happy to be around that!

Imagine how stunned I was when my cousin's wife says "oh, that's my aunt on the left!" WHAT??!!

After this our whole van went over to THE finish area to wait for van 2 to appear so we could put a cap on this race. I loved this part. I stood so I could play in the sand, everybody else took the chance to sit and relax. It was just really, really nice. We were hearing the teams cross the finish line, and they were all names I had been seeing during my last run - so I knew we were almost done!


Robin was on her way!! We gathered with van 2 and found our way to a narrow corral to wait for Robin to appear. This is where it all got chaotic for me. I was actually being pushed around by all of the runners on either side of me. Obviously they didn't do it on purpose or know I was there, but it was still a little shocking and jarring. I barely got in with my teammates in time, so I was pulling up the rear - which worked okay since I was documenting the entire finish for us. Another team crossed when we did, which sucked because then we never did have our name called at the end. To top it off, they wouldn't let Ava run down with Robin, so she never did get to cross with us. Not fair. Someone said it well, the finish was anti-climactic. We learned our finish time is already locked in before we even run on the sand, so maybe next year we can pause and make sure all 12 of us are together, and then not let another team cross with us so we can have OUR moment!

The rest is pretty quick! Once we were able to get Ava with us it was time for medals and photos. I won't even dare show you how many I have from this. I mean there are close to 900 photos on my phone right now, nearly all from Hood to Coast! I'm glad volunteers don't mind clicking away though. I'd rather have 20 of one shot than 1 and we end up with our eyes closed or something!

Wanna hear how it ALMOST ended? By the time we were finishing we were so cold - determined to be in matching shirts so we ditched the hoodies. And it was starting to get misty, turning into rain. Van 1 was ready to go! We said our good byes and went to meet our driver at the shuttle pick up location. One family had been there 45 minutes and NO shuttles had come or gone. By the time we gave up it had been at least an hour that that group had been waiting. What was our plan? Walk to Tillamook.
Okay, not really. Our dedicated driver volunteered to do the over 2 mile walk back to the shuttle to get our van and then get in the insane traffic to get us. We expected well over an hour, maybe 2,  until we would be reunited, traffic was just THAT bad. He set off one way, we ladies went the other and ended up in a tent with food and a live band. Dustin wanted Starbucks and the sound check of the band was enough to kill my Meniere's Disease ears, so I happily told her I'd walk with her to Starbucks... in the rain. Lucky for us, by the time we got there and went to Subway to get a sandwich our driver had found a back road and was almost to us! Our plan of hitting the main road and starting to walk south to Tillamook never had to happen after all. Hallelujah!

The drive home felt so fast, and way too soon our team had to say the final good byes. But maybe not so final. I'm positive I will see them again, either at Hood to Coast... Ragnar... or something even sooner than that!

HTC18: My Final Run aka the Run with Cows

All good things come to an end, and way too soon I was starting to finish off my first Hood to Coast experience. We had a short amount of time to try to sleep in Mist, Oregon before we were beginning our van's final round of running. When we woke up it was darn cold. So cold that I made a last minute wardrobe change and opted to run in the long sleeve shirt I brought to wear while I was sleeping. In the end I probably could have done my short sleeves, but oh well.

My run started in a very small town called Birkenfeld. If I remember right in the blur of it all, I think we parked in the field of a quaint church. Renee came out of nowhere and I had a hard time even getting across the street to her because of the non-stop flow of vans blocking my path. But I made it, had my final hand off and good bye with her and set off for the last run in an area that is really my favorite type to run in.

Birkenfeld is adorable. So tiny. But very cute. I wanted to get photos, but I was only just starting and needed to focus and get myself in the zone. Right away I was loving it. I love running through farmland and nature. Remote runs suit me best I guess. I had rolling hills throughout the run and they never phased me. Again I was passing other runners, as well as being passed. But this time it was different. The sun was barely up, the fog was still lifting. We all had this early morning run bond happening, and you could feel it. As we passed each other everyone of us talked to each other. "Good morning, have a great run, enjoy your run, see you at the end." Always positive voices and messages being shared between us. I've never experienced that before and it was completely awesome! 

It seems that during every relay (aside from SoCal) I have a run where I end up with cows. LOVE IT!! It was van discussion early on in the race about how milking a cow is on my bucket list. So when I get to talk to cows any time, especially on a run, I am always giddy about it. Of course the one time I paused to get a photo of the scenery and the cows is the time my teammates passed me. My timing sucks!! Again, I swear I was really trying my best. But look at that photo --> I couldn't pass this up! It was soooo hard to not veer off the main road and tip toe into the ditch to pet the cows. There were quite a few whose noses I could have easily touched if I wanted to. Instead I said good morning, waved and talked to all of them as I went by. I'm sure the other runners thought I was a total weirdo but I didn't care.

My left IT Band started hurting again, which resulted in more walk breaks that I had preferred. But I still passed tons of people. How? The vans full of runners. They were backed up so far that I was concerned I'd be catching up to Lady Storm Squad before they got to the official exchange. Even walking (which I do quickly) I was passing vans. They'd get a gap and drive, then I'd be running and pass by again. This happened for probably the last 3 miles of my leg. It was fun though because I got to see all the van decorations and team names, and some are very creative! 

During this run I wasn't as upset to see the sign indicating we have just one mile to go. That was solely because of the pain my leg was in. My mind wanted to keep going until I hit the beach! I was mentally feeling so great. I was successfully finishing my first running of Hood to Coast - and hoping so much I will get to do it again, and do it as part of Lady Storm Squad. I am so honored to have been able to help fill in when they needed a replacement runner, and so proud to be part of a really great group of women. Coming into my final exchange chute I was so fully of happiness, pride and a little bit of sadness at its ending. And to make sure I didn't forget all of it I did something new.... I whipped out my phone, put it on video and recorded my last run in and the final hand off to Dustin! 

I did it! I ran Hood to Coast!!

I never once looked at my splits. I never looked at a finishing time for a run. I didn't even care. I truly did the very best I could and I am so satisfied with my performance. I have zero regrets on any of this experience, and I feel so relieved to be able to say it and feel that way. I will now look forward to next year and hope to do even better!

Friday, August 31, 2018

HTC18: My 2nd Run aka When The Winners Smoked Us

Decked out in head to toe neon I was more than ready for my second run (leg 14) of Hood to Coast! I was already very familiar with this section since I travel it often to visit family and I ran a lot of it during the Portland Marathon. So I had no concerns. This was going to be another standard run for me, which I think I like since I didn't want any extra race nerves hitting me during Hood to Coast.

The sun would most likely be setting during this run, so I was required to run in my reflective vest with a headlamp, and flashing lights on the front and back of me. Add that to my neon and there is no way you wouldn't see me coming! As a matter of fact, during my run I encountered a motorcycle officer watching for speeding drivers and he even paused to compliment me on my outfit! I've been accused of dressing to get attention. I really don't. Hood to Coast recommended bright colors for my last two runs, so that's what I did. And the rest I just wear because I like it and its fun. Why be boring? I am not the best runner, so I may as well have some fun with my race attire!

Alright, so around 7pm Friday night I was at the exchange point waiting to see Renee come into view. I had enough time to go potty, get my bib on, a signal on my Garmin and my music going, and then she was there! She's seriously so sweet, I loved our hand-offs. I grabbed the slap bracelet and took off with a smile and bounce in my step. And apparently my boobs got massive....

It was crazy how great I felt. Like my first run, I went for a while before encountering other runners. Naturally they did start showing up and passing me, but not for quite a while. It was very strange when I had to make 2 turns to get through a rather major intersection and ALL traffic was stopped just for ME. I felt rude making everybody wait, but let me tell you it kept me moving quickly!

After this intersection was my first incline of the entire race, as I went on a bridge over the train tracks. I was pleasantly surprised at how I flew up that mini hill. Sadly this was the last time I would have that light feeling in my step. After rounding a corner and getting onto the main highway path my ankle gave out. It had been tender prior to starting the run but I was being optimistic that I'd be okay. It wasn't feeling great, but it wasn't incapacitating me either. But then came the IT band issues.

In 2011 the Eugene Half Marathon destroyed my IT Band on Amazon Parkway. To this day I always run Amazon Parkway with caution - or avoid the race altogether if it takes me on that path. And to this day I still have IT Band issues if I get a path with a lot of slant to it. Well, the majority of my second run had that slant that makes my leg scream. How embarrassing that the one time I stop to try to stretch out my ankle and leg and that is the moment my teammates drove by!! Seriously?!? I swear I wasn't slacking!!!

The rest of my run I would push until I just couldn't take the pain and had to take a walk break. My hamstring would occasionally seize up on me as well, but fortunately never a full blown cramp. If you drove down the highway during this time and saw the neon girl running with a limp, yeah that was me! BUT did I let it get me down? Heck no. I constantly reminded myself how lucky I was to even be participating, so I kept my spirits up and continued to do the best I could. At one point I was getting passed by a much faster guy. He could have ignored me. He didn't. He actually paused, turned around and fist bumped me while telling me I've got this. WHAT?!? That was so rad! So rad that I snapped a photo to help me remember.

I continued trying to find a flat surface, occasionally running in dirt all the way off the side of the road. Nothing really helped, but I tried. I was lucky and since this run was over 6 miles I actually had a water station on the course. What a setting ... right at the St John's bridge. Time for a water in a picturesque setting selfie? Yes. Yes, it was!

I think passing the bridge and hitting new territory was the mental boost I needed. Maybe there was magic in the water. My leg was still hurting, but somehow I managed to suck it up and get through it better than I had been.

I was running by bars with their doors open. Did I look in and fantasize about grabbing a drink? Heck yes I did! I also kept watching the vans passing me. I had been keeping an eye on Heart 'N Sole, as well as watching for the Bowerman team, Dead Jocks and Toyo University who came over from Tokyo. They were projected to win and run at a wicked fast pace. Toyo started hours after we did. I mean a ridiculous amount of hours later. And it was during this run that they caught up to us and passed us. They had a pretty sweet, large van. Lucky. I guess that's what being an elite team gets you. And they DID come in to win, with Bowerman coming in second. 

Pain aside, I was really proud of how I ran this leg. It hurt and I still pushed. I never wanted to cry. I never let my mind get frustrated. I focused on the positive and kept my body moving, surprising myself at times at how well I was doing even though I was gimpy. Heck, I even got my first road kills of the race during this leg. Not only did I get road kills I did some while going uphill and they never caught up to me again!

*Road kill -- when you pass someone on the course. Usually I'm being killed, so to get some kills of my own is pretty darn exciting and fun!

This hand-off was confusing. It was hard to see Dustin with all of the headlamps aiming at my eyes. Once we did hand off I had no idea where to go. I was told to stand in a spot, but never got the word that I could cross the street and meet my teammate waiting for me. I'm sure it made sense to volunteers, but to a person that had been up since 1:50am and been going non-stop, it was confusing.

All in all it was pretty darn awesome! I didn't feel like I let the team down, which is always an ego booster! I love that feeling of joining back up with the team, getting in the van and still smiling!