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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Seattle: Everclear, Bloggers, Hangover

When we left off I had just crossed the finish line in record slow time and had a medal around my neck. Freaking RAD medal, too!  I was quickly given some water and then found myself in line for the official finishers photos. I shared it a couple of posts ago, but I'm adding it again! Up next was food. They had quite a spread, and I grabbed one of everything, skipping the orange and Cytomax. What I wanted more than anything else was the space blanket! Finally, after four half marathons I was wrapping myself in this mysterious invention. Oh my gosh ... LOVE! I actually got quite hot!  

It took a bit, but Biker Boy and I were able to meet up. Turns out he never saw me finish (you know, 'cause I'm such a fast blur at the end there), but he DID get to see Stacie and Jason finish, so that's cool! If you haven't read her blog yet, while Jason was finishing his second half marathon Stacie was finishing her fourth one in June. Let's rephrase that ... her FOURTH half marathon THIS MONTH! Yeah, she rocks!  Once BB and I did meet up (and he gave me the world's largest snickerdoodle cookie from Pike Place Market!!) I was wrapped in my blanket and begging him for a picture with my new favorite toy - the space blanket!

Before I knew it I heard the announcement I was waiting a month for ... Everclear! SWEET!! We hurried over, found a spot of cement that looked comfy and I plopped my ass on the ground for the concert. It was awesome! I've seen Everclear before - going into the concert without being a fan - and left a fan that rushed out to buy a couple albums. It was pretty fun to be at a casual feeling concert with good music and not have to buy a ticket, get there really early, dress up like a groupie, buy a t-shirt, etc... I just chilled with my space blanket, medal and camera and was in heaven!

During the concert I exchanged texts with Stacie and Abby and sure enough was lucky enough to meet up with them! First up was Stacie. Her cool green socks made her easy to spot in the crowd! We exchanged race stories, talked about our upcoming race schedules and of course did the obligatory photo op. You have to, right? It's for the blog, dang it! ;)

RR and Stacie (Impossible is Nothing)
We hardly said good bye to Stacie and Jason when I turned behind me and spotted houndstooth! I spent all morning looking for a houndstooth skirt, and there it was. Who was wearing it? Abby! Abby is the one who, in a post asking what race should I squeeze in for June, suggested this race. The next day I registered for it and totally started stalking her blog. She was visiting the PacNW from New York! Quite the trek she made and I'm so glad we got to meet up! I swear we talked forever. Her BFF was with her as well, having just completed the marathon. Tons of fun, but eventually we had to part ways because I needed to shop!

Abby and RR
Biker Boy and I hit the official merchandise tent one more time, loading up on some last minute things I "had" to have, also earning a free shirt that I gave to BB since he was such a great support staff and cheerleader! We left the concert area (AFTER it was over, obviously) and slowly walked back toward our hotel, catching a bus along the way. Changed clothes in the hotel restroom and then returned to the streets of downtown Seattle for some sightseeing and food. 

You can guarantee I proudly sported my ratty braided hair, finisher's medal, "official" jacket and Nike Pride shirt (it was Pride weekend in Seattle). We ended up near the Pike Place market at a seafood restaurant on a pier. How cool is that? Sat outside right on the water and the weather was perfect. Sadly, however, my body was not. My legs felt fine, it was my insides that hated me. Usually my hangover kicks in the following day, but I was immediately feeling really sick. I had a yummy vegetarian fettuccine but couldn't even put a dent in it. I wanted to take it home, but it wouldn't have made it all the way to Portland. Bummer.

On our walk back we ended up at that strange public transit area again. Here's a picture  that can maybe help explain our confusion? Underground street? Buses? Subway? 

Instead of paying to ride this mystery machine, we got back on the free bus and took it as far as we could toward the Space Needle. When we got there the line was pretty long. And by "pretty long" I mean there was no way this hungover girl was going to stand and wait 40 minutes (after waiting in the line just to buy a freaking ticket) to ride to the top of a building and see water and buildings. I'll do it next time I visit. We did wander around the complex and saw them setting up for the next day's Pride festival. What is it that I always end up by the rainbows and the lovely gays? It's like a magnet!

There is the Space Needle to the left of this paragraph. Biker Boy overheard a bus tour talking about the cool reflection of the Space Needle in this building. We immediately took out our cameras! Such tourists!

Ready for Pride!
I was completely worn out. I wanted to walk down to Pier 70 to reenact the "slap heard 'round the world" from Real World Seattle, but I just didn't have it in me. We had checked out the Underground Tour as well, but they were full until 5. Guess I'll have to go back in 2012!  Hopped on the monorail and went back to the hotel to get the car. I was spent. No more. I needed to go home.

The drive home was easy, but we were both REALLY drowsy. I was asleep on Biker Boy's couch while it was still daylight. I guess I made it until 8pm maybe? Ugh, this was just the worst I've ever felt, internally, after a race ... yet the best I've ever felt physically! Strange!

Very fun trip. Next year we've decided we'll book earlier and stay for TWO nights instead of just one. After all, I HAVE to get "slapped" by that pier or I won't be satisfied! 

Here's some video I took at the concert. Now you can pretend you were there!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon

Goal: Finish in time to see Everclear. ....  Goal achieved!

3:30am the alarm goes off. I hustled through the shower, covered myself in gear, did my make-up, put on sunscreen, brushed my hair and went out the door with my bagel, banana and water in hand. I went downstairs, out the door and there they were ... the buses to take us to Tukwila. Talk about convenient! In case you missed my post about the expo, Seattle RnR is my Boston. I have an "official" jacket and I was bused to a neighboring town so that I could run to Seattle and the finish line. Oh yeah, who needs BQs when you can just pay out the ass for a fun Rock'n'Roll event? This slow girl better just like the ass paying 'cause that BQ is never gonna happen! Anyway! The bus ride was comfy, nice and warm, and rather long. I was concerned. I mean I had to run all the way back, so how far were we going to go? I sat next to a lovely woman that was from the area and walking the Half. We had pleasant conversation which helped ease my nerves.

At the start area I had zero wait for a bathroom, then just paced around trying to eat my food. I seem to max out at just one banana and half of a bagel. I really need to have more than that - I can tell when running - but still my nerves get the better of me. Out of 39 corrals, I was in 28, so while the elites started running at 7am, I didn't actually start until 7:45. It was a bit of a wait, but I was so busy people watching I didn't mind. But I have one complaint... Why do people show up stinking before they've even gone one mile? And why did I have to be stuck by the woman with terrible breath? Smells would bother me all day. While waiting I did notice a lot of looks at my leg. Eh, what can I say, it had personality that day!

When we finally started running I was more than ready, yet a little concerned. I mean obviously I am not running at my best given the above photo of my leg. This was my first run after the 8 injections I got and my only plan was to not push too hard and end up in pain. I started at a nice pace but couldn't go as fast as I wanted because of the crowd. It thinned out after the first mile though, so I can't complain! 

Something new happened during this race. For the first time EVER I had to stop to use the potty! All the water I was drinking before, combined with my Meniere's meds, sent me to the 2nd batch of bathrooms on the course. I was pretty impressed with how quick that stop was, but since I didn't care about my time I wasn't worried at all. 

I continued on my way and found a lot of entertainment with the high school cheerleaders and various bands lining the course. I enjoy any fun distraction! I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the 5K mark, it came up quick! 

It wasn't until after the 5K mark that I decided to walk a bit. I had not trained for the 13.1 miles at all (since I physically couldn't) so I didn't have my full stamina. Normally this would really mentally mess with me. Not today! I was just enjoying everything. I felt like the energy on the course, from the volunteers to the entertainment to the runners, was just awesome! I didn't mind walking here and there and seeing parts of the US I have never seen.

Around mile 4.5 I realized that I was still running and had NO pain! This was monumental and gave me a boost! Also around this time I had some Clif gel - vanilla. It is really sweet for me, so I just paused at the water stop while I had it. Again, guilt free! What a feeling it is to actually just go for FUN with no pressure! I loved mile 5 to 6 ... all downhill. I felt like I made up for lost time, and actually somewhere in here I think I was running around 9 minute mile pace. Hot dog!

The next 3 miles were all along Lake Washington and it was just lovely! I stopped to pet a dog named Murphy, I photographed a peaceful heron, I paused at a band for a photo, I ran a lot, I walked a lot, I enjoyed it all!

During these three miles I also started feeling like this race was kind of emotional. (Oh wait, it's my Boston, it is supposed to be, right?) I saw an older woman being pushed by a younger couple in a jogger wheelchair, I saw tons of TNT runners with shirts honoring their loved ones, I ran by cancer survivors, we ran down a stretch lined with posters of fallen soldiers (and seriously, they were almost ALL younger than I am), we ran down a stretch with the family members of the fallen soldiers holding countless American flags, we hit a water station manned by soldiers in uniform. Everywhere I looked I was running with people that were running for a cause. It was just nice to see all the support for others out there!

Did I mention still NO pain?? At mile 9 the half marathon split from the full marathon runners - and thank goodness we did! Seriously I didn't need those extra hills! The next huge stretch was all in a gradually uphill tunnel. It was cool that it echoed so much and when the runners got rowdy it got REALLY loud! The DJ in there was pretty funky and playing good music, but I am really happy I had headphones in - they acted as ear plugs! It was so humid, I was very happy to come out around mile 10 and get some fresh air. Along with the fresh air came the view of downtown! 

With only 2 miles to go I was completely shocked when I ran around a corner and there was Biker Boy! Camera in hand, I'm glad he caught me in a moment of feeling REALLY strong! I mean I thought I was going to be amazing in the last 5K of the race. The man with the body odor completely derailed that plan. He smelled so bad, and I couldn't get away from him, I almost gagged. This time the running didn't make me puke, but a fellow runner almost did!

The amazing cheerleader, that he is, Biker Boy took off running after this shot. I knew what he was doing and couldn't stop it. He was waiting for me around the next corner. And now, for the first time ever, you will see below this paragraph and actual photo of me walking during a race!

This is my standard walking pose. I don't know why. Once I walk, the left hand goes on the hip. Sometimes it goes under the skirt, but still on the hip. Even in this shot I was calling him out on being a brat for getting me in a pokey moment. What can I say, I fully admit I cannot run 13.1 miles without walk breaks!

Unfortunately there were many walk breaks between here and the end. I was tired, I swear you see the finish area 3 times before you hit it, I wanted to be done and everything smelled. People, the air, the food vendors. Smells make me want to hurl. But I didn't!

Normally I sprint to the finish. I couldn't even start running until after I hit the 13 mile sign. I mean I was seriously fighting my upchuck reflexes BAD. I was sure it was going to happen and I couldn't find a "safe" place, which is the only reason I didn't. I even pulled my paper towels from my pocket and had them in my hand ready to clean myself off!

Soon enough I was there! I pushed as fast as I could and hit the finish line with a smile! It was my slowest race ever (2:53) but I met my goal... I saw every minute of Everclear! ---and still without pain!

It was a great race. I'll be back next year - and I'll definitely improve on my time - and still have a blast!

Up next ... post-race fun and fellow bloggers!

Seattle: Mariners & Public Transit

After a day of travel, expo, shopping and food it was time for the night! What a wild night it was. Drinking, dancing, strip clubs, body shots .... well, I bet that was happening somewhere in Seattle. My night was a bit more calm, but there was drinking, eating and cheering.

It was relatively easy to find our hotel - and look at the view we had! We quickly checked in and hauled my luggage up to the room. Who knew one girl could have so much stuff for just one night in a hotel? I don't think I even let myself sit down to relax. I was immediately looking at my running gear one last time to be sure it was there, pulling out my bib, setting my shoes out. I finished after we were home for the night, and here's my stash for the most part!

We changed clothes, grabbed tickets and started on our journey back to Safeco Field for the Mariners/Marlins game. I didn't want to walk the entire way since it was all hills and I wanted to save something for the race in the morning. Eventually we worked our way down to where saw some of the free buses. Not having a clue what we were doing we just hopped on the first one we could. I'll admit I was really nervous when it started making lane changes and changing streets. We were pretty sure we were going to end up in the completely wrong area!

But we made it! I had my ticket out and was ready for my first "real" baseball game. If you'll recall, I went to the Braves/Mets Spring Training game after the Princess Half and all I wanted was a foam finger. Well what did I find here?

I didn't get it though. I didn't want to pay $7 for foam and then have to carry it all around. I did get a pin, program and jersey-type shirt to wear for the game while Biker Boy bought a hat. Our seats were great! We went cheap and got 300 level tickets, but we were row 3 behind home plate, so our view was fabulous! Neither of us know much about baseball, so I would occasionally as the man behind me what was going on when it seemed out of the ordinary. He didn't seem to mind, in fact I think he liked being the "expert" in our section. I sat by a little ol' grandma and she was very sweet. She reminded me of my grandma, so I was happy to spend my game with her. Since I don't really know or care about baseball, I have nothing to report. The Mariners won. There were some really exciting plays and I found myself cheering and yelling for people to run faster!

For dinner I grabbed a cheese pizza and Pepsi in a souvenir cup. So what if it was $6 for my drink, I needed the freaking cup! Biker Boy had a beer that cost nearly and arm and a leg. That phrase is so strange. I'm leaving it in. The 7th Inning Stretch was my goal. As long as I made it that long I didn't care when we left. When it was time we both stood up and sang along - so much fun!

It had been pouring (thankfully they closed the roof once it started sprinkling) but once it stopped I decided we better begin our trek back to the hotel. I think we were there through the top of the 8th inning for those of you keeping track.

A pedi-cab dude was great and helped us figure out the best way to get to our hotel with minimal walking. We took him up on the offer and he gave us a ride to the elevator - you know, all 100 yards or so! I liked him, fun guy!

From there we followed some people over to the light rail. Not really knowing what the hell we were doing I bought us each a ticket and we got on. I felt more comfortable with this form of transit. It seemed cleaner and safer. What I didn't realize was that we went underground! It ended up looking like a subway! I have no idea if it counts as one because then we ended up on street level, too. When we got out we were underground and it looked like subway scenes that I've seen on movies and TV shows. Emily - as my Seattle resident, can you help me figure out what the heck that was???

Back to our room around 10pm, I laid out everything for the morning. I was very prepared for the morning and my 3:30am alarm. I slept a bit, and relatively okay. You know how pre-race night goes - you try, but how often do you ever REALLY sleep?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seattle: Expo, Food, Shopping

700+ round trip miles later and I am home feeling mostly recovered from an awesome weekend in Seattle, Washington! There was so much, I don't even know where to start. So I'll start at 5am Friday morning when my alarm went off. Biker Boy and I left his house nice and early in the morning so we could be at the Seattle R'n'R expo as soon as it opened. He was a lifesaver and drove - and thank goodness he did. We pretty decided together that next time we go up there we'll just slip me something before the drive so that I don't panic even in the passenger's seat!

We arrived with no difficulties, and were at the expo 30 minutes before it opened. A man guarding the door was nice and let us in to go potty - so we got a little sneak preview at what was to come, and on my gosh was it awesome! Here's a photo I snapped on the way out:
This wasn't even half of it!
Once the doors open the line moved quickly. Getting my bib, shirt and goody bag was a breeze. Biker Boy and I are so alike and we had a mission: Save the official merch for the end and hit the vendors for the free stuff while there are plenty of things left! Holy cow - to summarize, the empty totes we got at the first booth were completely full by the end. I sampled some cool products and loaded up on Mission Skincare (sunscreen, muscle rub and anti-chaffing lotion). The highlight for me was probably getting a free KT Tape taping at the Sports Authority booth. BB knew what to do .... he loaded up on photos documenting the process. I probably wore the wrong outfit for this. I about died laughing when the guy stood behind me, grabbed my hips and pulled me close to him. I think some fellow runners got a free show!

The Rock'n'Roll people should love me. I love to shop. I went home with the "official" jacket and a pin (but after the race bought the other pin, a tech shirt and a visor). I might add at this point I declared that Seattle IS my Boston. I had an "official" jacket that looks pretty freaking sweet, and I'd be shuttled to the start area in another town and then run to the finish in Seattle. Um, hello? I can't run Boston, so I'll just enjoy this similarity and "run" with it! After shopping we dropped off our huge stash in the car and began our leisurely walk to the Hard Rock Cafe. Um, what the hell Seattle? Are you just one freaking huge uphill walk? No matter where we went it was always UP!

Okay, I really like eating at the Hard Rock Cafe. For me it is more about the atmosphere than the food. I mean who are we kidding, I always get grilled cheese except for the one time in January 2008 in Phoenix when they told me they can't make it (even though they did in November 2007), so I got nachos. Anyway, I love the atmosphere, the vibe, the drinks, the fries. This Hard Rock was disappointing. I mean we were in Seattle. Don't we all think Seattle = Grunge = 90's?? It looked cool by the bar on the way in, but the rest was pretty blah. Plus it took forever to get our food. I mean FOREVER! I decided to mix it up this time (hold yourselves, don't fall out of your chair) and I got a side order of Twisted Mac & Cheese and a side of fries. I know, shocker! As is tradition when eating your pre-race meal, I snapped a photo of my food. Enjoy!

I thought the mac & cheese was pretty yummy! The side order didn't have chicken on it, so that was the appeal for me. And look at the portion. That's a side? It was filling and probably the right amount, even without the fries. But I love myself a good French fry, and Hard Rock's rank high on my list!  Biker Boy had a fish sandwich of some sort, and while all sandwiches came with fries, his seemed to be the only one that just came with a house salad. I was nice, I let him have ONE fry. *I offered more, he passed, thank goodness. He also enjoyed a gigantic beer, and this being his first visit to any Hard Rock Cafe, he got the souvenir glass. I couldn't leave without hitting the gift shop. It was Pride weekend in Seattle (and tons of other huge cities) so naturally being the fruit fly that I am, I had to buy the special edition Pride pin, as well as a 40th anniversary pin. I seriously love to shop.

Up next we went down to the waterfront and Pike Place Market. I think most people know this as the place they throw the fish - and throwing fish is what was happening when we got there!

The market was very busy and very smelly. Fish, flowers, produce, body odor. It was interesting to say the least! There was a long stretch of vendor after vendor. I wasn't really wanting to shop, just look. Of course being the girl from the small town, I tried to keep moving and had a death grip on my purse.

I saw this in a window and just had to get a picture. I want to share it with all of you now! Come on, it's funny!

We also saw the original Starbucks location. Starbucks is EVERYWHERE. I kid you not, I saw a Starbucks tent on the freaking race course!

I finally had to suggest we work our way back toward the expo and the car. The day was not even close to being over for us! What a lovely view we had on our walk back, too!

Official Seattle Photos

I managed to find myself in TWENTY official photos .... not that they are particularly flattering, but who cares. I mean I think we can all agree that it is generally not the case that we look like supermodels when we run, right?!? If I ever end up looking as awesome as Kara Goucher does when she runs, you can guarantee I'll be shoving those photos down your throats and maybe sending everyone some 8X10 glossies. But until then ... 

I can tell you exactly what is happening in this picture. I am death gripping my camera in my right hand, and I have my paper towels in my left. This is around mile 13. I have 1 tenth of a mile to go before I can throw up. I have picked up the pace - as is made known to me by how lopsided my boobs are in this shot. My mouth is closed because I am trying not to puke too early. There is a man a few paces ahead of me and his body odor is making me gag. I fought this for the last 5Kof the race. **I am happy I brought my paper towels to clean up with, but I never needed them this race!**

I have hit the finish line. Yippee!! The culprit of the body odor is now 4 people ahead of me. I end up having to pass him and push through the crowd quickly in a desperate attempt to find somewhere to puke. There are so many volunteers, photographers and runners that I can never find an adequate spot.

Half marathon number four is done! Hallelujah. I own the shirt the girl next to me is wearing. I kind of like my quad is this photo. I mean it looks like I might actually have some muscle to go with my chins.

In case you couldn't see all of my chins in that last photo, here's a closer shot of them! Seriously, I look like I gained 20 pounds over the course of this run, right?

Looking more like myself now in this one! Freaking happy to be done, getting an official photo and not carrying around a bag of vomit. .... (At the Eugene Half I never got my finisher photo because they had no garbage cans around for me to dispose of my disgusting little bag in my hand. I should have just posed with it. I mean who does that? Dang it. Next year!)

Tonight I'll hopefully have the REAL race report!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quick Seattle Recap

The full reports are soon to come, but here's the bullet point version of my awesome weekend in Seattle!

  • The expo was so cool - I came home with a ton of loot (free & purchased)
  • Seattle is one huge hill. Seriously, do you always just have to walk up? Are there now downs?
  • Fabulous weather!
  • Yummy Twisted Mac & Cheese at the Hard Rock Cafe
  • I love the KT Tape guy
  • Seattle smells funny. Bathrooms. Smoke. Body odor. Fish.
  • The Mariners game was fun and spendy!
  • I love free public transit. Oh heck, I love any transit that isn't my feet right now!
Race Day
  • Slowest finish time to date, but I totally don't even care .... because ....
  • I had 13.1 miles of ZERO pain!!!
  • Great course, great bands along the way, fun cheerleaders, awesome vibe amongst the runners
  • I didn't puke! WHAT? I know, right?? 
  • Perfect weather!
  • I finally got my space blanket and I LOVED it!
  • Everclear rocks my compression socks!
  • Met up with Stacie and Abby at the concert. They rock, too!
  • I did even more shopping. Oops!
  • Lovely lunch on a pier
  • Saw the Space Needle
  • Turned into a zombie
  • Had the WORST hangover EVER!! It still continues today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Leg's Visit to the Doctor

This afternoon my leg went to the doctor. It wasn't even scared! In fact, I think my leg felt a sick sort of enjoyment out of the experience. Pain? Ha! My leg can take it. When the needle would go in it was just a little prick.... and then once it got into the muscle. Ay carumba! Ooh, good but painful. Loved it!!

That harmless looking needle and bottle of whatever it is became very intimate with my leg. It isn't Cortisone, but something "better" he says. I remember that it starts with an M and that's about it.

My leg is at a funky, twisted angle for this shot. The blue arrow points to the mark I made this morning with a Sharpie when I was trying to find "the spot". Turns out I had many locations of "the spot". The black arrows point to injection points. I had 8 total, but couldn't see the rest in this photo very well. Please ignore the rash from the compression band I wear above my knee.

So now I'm feeling ready for Seattle. We'll see if this helps or not. Next time he doesn't want me to wait over a month before coming in. *I can pinpoint the moment on May 8th when I first nearly collapsed in pain. It was around mile 4.2 of the Hippie Chick Quarter Marathon.*

Now I'm kind of all tingly in places. I'm going to go with the optimistic attitude that it WILL help! I'll let ya know!