Sunday, August 28, 2022

Ragnar Oregon Trail - Yellow Loop

The Yellow Loop. The only one I can give a full recap on from the 2022 Ragnar Trail Oregon relay. So let's just get to business! This was classified as medium on the difficulty scale, but I think we all agreed that was inaccurate. Ragnar tends to grade difficulty on miles, not actual terrain and hills and miles. This clearly was the easiest of the three.

When we originally formed Rebel Scum I took the 8 runner names, wrote them on little pieces of paper, crumpled the papers and then drew them randomly to determine our order. Normally I run very early in a relay. This time, as randomness would have it, I was dead last! My loop order would be Yellow, Green, Red. I thought that starting on yellow would be pretty cool since it seemed the "easiest" although not easy. Ending on red was sure to be killer, but I wasn't scared. I knew it would be a crazy, fun, scenic challenge. I was excited to start on yellow. Lisa, Shelbe and I all had the same rotation so I was happy to hear their input before my run. Plus I just want to add that Lisa and Shelbe are so dang cool in general. I was so happy to get to just chill with them all the time and I want to do it more often!

Around 3:30pm I was in my race gear heading to the exchange. I was told by runner 7, who shall remain nameless, that she would text me at the 1 mile to go area so I'd know to be ready. I never got a text but went to the exchange anyway. When I arrived she was there in a huff telling me she had been there a couple minutes waiting.  Ummm... where was the text? "Oh, I didn't send one. I never saw a sign and I was going to fast to do anything." **No less than 15 photos were posted from that run she did including photos of a sign.** Liar, liar pants on fire? Everyone else saw the mile sign so....

I got the race belt on and took off ready for what I knew would be 4.4 beautiful, hard miles. I was all smiles as I ran by the runners waiting for their teammates to come into the final stretch. I waved at total strangers and had a bounce in my step. I was so excited! As I rounded the corner by the ski lift I heard Shawn in the distance and saw him with his camera going. Life was good! I got to turn and run down the path we had all walked so many times as it was the path from our camp site to the village. Surprise!! I know the team wasn't expecting to see me so fast since we had never gotten notice of a mile to go for the previous runner. But BOOM! There I was -- it took me 8 steps to get up the hill. I watched a guy do it in 5 and wanted to see how much competition I could be on that hill (none at all, of course. Ha!). Still with a bounce in my step I happily floated on by the cheering Rebel Scum and continued on to the trails.

I was so dang giddy when I finally got to get off of the road and into the trails. I loved having to watch where I put my feet. Sometimes I'd need to dodge a branch. Sometimes I'd just go for it and let the branch graze my legs. It was such a free feeling to be out in nature way from people and roads. The deeper I got on the trail the more I could smell all the smells. It surprised me how quickly I did my first mile. No way did I do it so easily! My legs were feeling awesome. I had hurt my right leg back in July during the Northwest Passage Ragnar - like so bad I couldn't bend it without using my hands to lift my leg. So I was nervous about what this race would do. But I felt 100%!!

One thing that had been bothering me the whole time was breathing. I joked about being out of breath when I'd run up the little hill by our campsite. I joked I'd die on these runs because of how early I was having a hard time breathing. Okay, never joke about that stuff again, Ronda!!

As I was going I kept feeling like I couldn't breathe. Not in an "old lady out of shape and out of breath" way, but like in an "I can't get any oxygen in my lungs" way. I texted Shawn at mile 2 that was having a hard time breathing. He gave me some tips. I did what he said and felt progress. Then I started running more and it was just really not helping but instead getting worse. The heat was insane. I hadn't checked the weather - but at the end I was shown it was 85 degrees when I was out there. I struggled to get my water thing to work at first. Once I figured out I had to bite it off to the side and make myself look like Popeye when drinking - well then it flowed freely! So I had my water resolved, thank goodness. My Meniere's Disease was also kicking in with some issues, so while trying to navigate trails that would zig zag and hope to not trip, I was dealing with vertigo. What else can we add to this pile??

I can walk up a hill during a race faster than some people can run up them. So I was very optimistic going into this. My muscles will let me do it. No problem. Some times I would pull over into the shade, pause, trying to calm my brain and my chest, then really focus myself and work my way up the mountain. But the higher I got the harder it got. And it wasn't my legs, it was my chest.

This guy in a green shirt was struggling as well. I had passed him and we chatted a bit. The last 2 miles we spent together essentially. We were always in eye sight of each other and it just felt comforting I guess. It was nice to not feel alone in the struggle department. At the 1 mile to go marker a woman from Florida came up and was taking a picture of the sign with me. She dropped a few choice words about how she was feeling. All of us in the area agreed and wished each other well as we continued onward. 

That last mile was the single slowest, hardest mile of my entire life. I had been fighting tears for a mile or so at this point I think. If I could have spoken without fear of collapse I probably would have been talking to my mom on the phone during my hike. She'd have been ready with a big "I told you so!" I'm sure! I know, mom, I know! Each step got harder. Shawn told me he heard it goes downhill when you have .4 miles to go. That point took forever to come. Before I hit that spot I was at the point where I could go maybe 10 seconds of hiking then have to flat out stop. I've never stopped so much other than in a Disney race for character photos. 

My chest hurt so bad. I kept pulling on my shirt, my sports bra, my hydration pack. That wasn't the problem. I just couldn't get any oxygen in me. I had been battling vertigo for 2 miles at this point. I was so disoriented and constantly confused about where I was. Watch the vlog and you'll see just how lost I felt! All of my senses were starting to go wacky on me. It was starting to feel quite scary from a health and safety standpoint. There was a very strong runner that came to a complete stop just to check and see if there was anything she could do to help me. I love that about Ragnar. You can have some genuine moments with total strangers! I assured her I thought it was just my body not used to the altitude and thanked her and let her continue on her run.

I came upon a merge with another loop. I was certain it had to be the red because it was so insanely steep. No. It was the green loop. What the WHAT?? I have to go up that and it is supposedly the "easy" loop? I was taking inventory of my body and the failing functions going on. This was the "flat" loop at the lowest altitude of the 3 loops. Can I even physically do the other 2 safely and not end up doing serious damage to myself? All of these things swirled in my head and I still had another insane climb.

It was at the start of the downhill this other runner came up behind me and cheered me on. We did some bonding and then I saw him start to follow the wrong loop. I was so happy we have to wear bracelets to match the loop we are doing because that's how I knew he was about to really make a very wrong turn. I called after him and got him back on course, then we started the downhill together. I did pass that guy! Two passes for me the entire yellow loop!

So finally it was my turn to run downhill. The rolling rocks made it challenging. I could feel myself going too fast and had to have my hands out to brace myself in case I fell as I tried to slow down a bit. I found a better patch of land to run on and soon was going through the timing mat that would alert Amber-Dawn of my impeding arrival. I wanted to run it all the way in. I couldn't. Everything in me was crashing - except for my legs. Ha!

On the final flat stretch to the exchange I could hear Arthur and Sara cheering me on. That seriously helped! Hearing Rebel Scum come out of Arthur's mouth made me smile on the inside. I couldn't look to see them like I normally would since I was just trying to get to the end in one piece. I crossed the timing mat and could make out what I was pretty sure was Amber-Dawn based on the body language and happiness to see me. 

At this point everything went wonky. I couldn't see clearly. It was a swirly blur. Everything sounded like the school teacher in Peanuts. I remember trying to get the race belt off but I couldn't find it. You know that one belt over my shirt that is clear as day right there and easy to find. But I couldn't do it. I was starting to tip over and Shawn came running up. I think I was just leaning on him while Amber-Dawn got the belt and took off on her run. I remember I had texted Shawn that I wanted cold water. He had that and got me to a chair in the shade in the exchange. At this point my breathing got all crazy. I can't describe it. I couldn't get the water to my mouth. My hands were shaking. My chest was almost shaking too if that makes any sense. I don't know how long I was there. It felt like forever, it probably wasn't. I was so sure that I was going to end up being carted off to the med tent. I feel like there is a bit of time that I don't have memory of. It is all just blurry.

I do not recall getting back to the campsite at all. I remember standing there leaning on something, maybe a chair, and having Shawn grab me my cane. I didn't part with that cane for the rest of the night. We did end up back in the village to get me food. Oh yeah, I think I had us walk around the lower lot camping area so I could try to get my body back to normal feeling. Yes, we did that then went up to the lodge for food. I nearly passed out waiting. It was almost an hour for my fries. No grilled cheese for me because they ran out of buns and bread! Party foul!! 

And it was while I was waiting for that food that I made my decisions. There was a young guy from California that seemed to be in his early 30s at the oldest. Sounds like they used the AED machine on him and had to bring him down from the mountain to the med area. They told him if he hadn't made the decision he did it could have been really bad. So I was overhearing this, and thinking of Matt, the firefighter that died mid-run in December and I knew what I had to do. I had to just call it. It was just not worth trying to run anymore if I was already in this terrible state. No more running for that Ragnar. That was Friday evening. It is Monday evening as I write this and my chest is still not back to its normal, healthy feeling. Whatever happened up there really did a number on me. It was a tough call, but one that I had to make.

I do have more running stories to share from this race in the next post! I DID make it out on the red loop actually. So stay tuned for that -- it has a much better ending, I promise! And vlogs will be coming soon so you can run along with me and see the beauty and hear the delirium take over. *One thing that surprised me - in the end I was only 10 minutes slower than what Ragnar predicted me to be on that loop. Considering I felt like death crossing that finish line I'm shocked!

Gotta love running!

Monday, August 22, 2022

THE Retirement Decision - How It All Went Down (Behind the Scenes Dirt!)

I haven't had a post-race blog in a while, and if any race warranted one this certainly does. The Ragnar Trail Oregon relay... which if you are in my generation or an Oregonian, of course you're just calling it the Oregon Trail relay. Ragnar missed out on some fun marketing and merchandise options with this one. Just swap the order of the words and you'd have had brought in some serious $$$ in the gear tent!

The original Rebel Scum team was formed in 2019. The 2020 race was cancelled. The 2021 race was cancelled. We swapped so many teammates in that time due to normal life circumstances. In the end Lisa, Sara and I were the only 3 original teammates left standing! During all of these years from the formation to actually running I had my own life things going on and as many know I have been seriously pondering retiring from long-distance running. I LOVE running! I never said retiring from running all together, just not the long races. Going into this 2022 race season I was never certain of what the future would hold. Now I think I have my decision.

But let's back up!

I'm still formulating my thoughts as I type this.....       I loved being close to home with this race! We all liked not having to load up into vans and constantly caravan our way around and navigate parking lots. We had our own little tent area set up, way too much food, a camp stove, a table, decorations. Rebel Scum was set! It was my first time camping other than sleeping in a tent in someone's yard once. And it was quite fun! We had no running water while we were there, so that was a change. I always want to wash my hands after a run and I couldn't do that. I kept using wipes and things like that - and then I'd just use water and ice in the cooler to get that hit of water to feel like I did a real washing. My bed was quite comfy. I came equipped with a little roll up air mattress, comfy themed pillow, stuffed toys, lights and lots of blankets. I was actually sweaty the first night!

So camp life was a win! We were right on the Yellow loop race path which was great. We could cheer on runners while having an unobstructed view of all of the mountains and very easy access to the potties!

Team life.... usually I sugar coat things in my blog to be nice. F that. I'll be 100% honest this time. We can thank retirement for that? We had 9 people camping in our group (8 runners, 1 volunteer). I'll say doing the math, 88% of us were cool. That remaining 1 person... one and DONE. Never again. Basically let me put it this way -- if you want to be a good TEAMmate and be asked back to anything, don't be a self-important, all knowing, condescending bitch! And probably don't be that way non-stop to the team captain (ME!) ... especially when the team volunteer is the team captain's spouse. This isn't my first rodeo. Talking down to me and constantly questioning me is NOT the way to win any sort of friendship. This began before we even met - behind the scenes with constant private messages talking down to me about every little thing. One and DONE!

Let's talk running. The course was HARD! I admit I only did 1/3 of the loops (we'll get to that), but because I am a team player and I socialize with other teams I can say that 100% of the people said this was a challenging course. Crazy hills, heat, high elevation, blazing sun, pitch black darkness, so many things play into this and everyone felt it in their own way. I really wanted to run in the dark. I LOVE running in the dark. It is my favorite! I really wanted to run down the face of Mount Bachelor into the finish line on that red loop. Downhill is my forte! I can't get enough of it. So I really struggled with the captain decision I had to make.

I was runner 8, the last runner in the rotation. I set out on the yellow loop of 4.4 miles at the heat of the day. At the end of my run I was shown it was actually 85 degrees when I was out there. I might go into yellow loop detail in another post - this is just more about the captain call I had to make. So anyway it was beyond hard for me. My legs felt great! I LOVED navigating the different terrain. It smelled so nice out there. I got to see mountain bikers working their way down the mountain. It really was beautiful. But I couldn't breathe. It got to the point where I was disoriented, battling vertigo and hardly able to take any steps without feeling like I'd fall over from lack of oxygen. I leaned on a tree for a while. And I kept meeting up with other runners all struggling to run. On the steepest parts every single person was walking and struggling. I wasn't sure I could finish. I did - but I also thought I was going to be taken away by the medical staff at the end. I knew I had to make some decisions.

That course was the flattest of the 3 and it wasn't at all flat. And it was the lowest elevation. It wasn't feeling the safest thing to try to do the other 2 and risk something bad happening. I thought of the runner friend we had that was healthy, 1 year older that me, running before his shift as a firefighter and dropped dead on the sidewalk. I saw a staff person checking in with a kid that was probably early 30s at the oldest and they had to use the AED machine on him and bring him down the mountain during his run. Healthy, strong runners were succeeding. Healthy, strong runners were struggling and getting nasty injuries. 

So I made the tough call. Initially Shawn was going to run the night run of 3.1 miles with me and I'd have my cane to help me out. After talking with other runners we made the call that it wasn't smart. The course wouldn't really allow us to go together in pitch black conditions. If I fell he couldn't help me. If he fell I couldn't help him. So in the middle of the night I sent our volunteer out to run my green loop for me. We are a pirate family - we make our own rules!

This didn't resolve my final run, however. So we went to the race timing expert in the morning and found out our options. We were at the point where we could all just run it and be fine time wise and finishing before the course cut off. Or we could double up if we wanted and be fine. We weren't running slow by any means, but if I tried to go on that red loop, well I don't know what would happen. So as the captain I found out our options, how to work it and made the call. I had our yellow runners double up and go together. Then when it was time for red 2 of us went at the same time. Then I bailed and was the ghost runner. My time was counted the same as the one that did the running. So I wasn't ignored, I was just an invisible, ghost runner. I met up with her and we went into the transition tent together. That let Sara be our final runner! She deserved that. She is an awesome runner, the one that got me on the Hood to Coast team, the most supportive teammate ever, and she was dressed as Rey! It was her finish line to lead us through!

Well let's just say the one that was condescending did not like MY captain decisions and even went to the timing tent to question things. SHE tried multiple times to get me to switch so she could be the final runner before we ever even hit race weekend. By the time we go to the decision making process I can tell you I would let ANYONE but her be the final runner. Being a team player goes a long way. Who chose to not even cross the finish line with us and instead got multiple massages? I think you know. I thank her for not hanging out with our team very much. It was better that way. In the end I got to have a lot of fun with everyone and that almost helped me with my decision making....

Here's where I am, around 48 hours after finishing the relay....

Shawn was the team volunteer (every team is required to provide one or pay $120). He signed up to take finisher photos of the teams with their medals. The rest of the team was able to go home and I went up to the village to watch him work. Dude, it was so fun! I started talking with the teams and would try to help pump them up from the background when they needed help to figure out how to pose. I talked to so many people. I've even connected with some on Instagram after returning home. I love the vibe of a race, especially relays. I don't want to just quit them forever. And that's when it hit me! I can still be a part of the atmosphere by being a volunteer and helping everyone out! I love being at exchanges and cheering for everyone - not just my own teammates. I am great with spreadsheets. I love to plan. I've got this captain stuff down! Sara had said maybe we can co-captain and split up duties, doing the stuff we each excel at - then I can just be the required volunteer and NOT risk dying on a mountain while running. And then I can still run at home for fun of course. I have no plans of stopping. I just can't kill my body anymore. I have a gymnastics dynamo I'm raising and I need to be able to keep up with her, so I have to stay healthy!

So there it is. My thoughts on the relay from a teammate/captain stand point. It was the first time of all the teams that I had a vibe from the start (and was right) that I was almost being bullied into doing what one person wanted. I was NOT going to let that happen. So many years I have been working on this race. No stranger was going to come in and just steamroll me. I'd consider this a win! I made new friends, I hung out with old friends, I made the tough decisions, I stood my ground, and I never told anyone to F off right to their face!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Looking Back at 13.1 Miles of Memories

I began running in 2009 just to see if I could. I couldn't make it around the block, and the thought of running a half marathon was laughable to me. Fast-forward a bit and suddenly I was LOVING half marathons. I was doing them constantly and always excited to pick out the next one to register for. In 2019  I registered for the 2020 Eugene Half Marathon Doublestack Challenge and was feeling fit and ready to do it. Then Covid cancelled everything. For two years. And in the meantime my Ménière's disease really let me have it. Training stopped being fun because it was a constant battle between my legs wanting to run and vertigo wanting to knock me over. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and realized I need to retire from the long distances. Maybe some day things will improve and I can return, but for now I'll be sticking to shorter races and relays. It was a really hard thing to come to terms with, but now I feel pretty okay about it. So I thought I'd kind of wrap up my half marathon career with a little look back at each and find a highlight to attach to each race!

1. 2011 Disney's Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World. It was the first! That is the memory. I ran with Leslie and we had way too much fun sprinting from photo op to photo op. Hello Jack Sparrow! 

2. 2011 the Inaugural Corvallis Half Marathon. My iPod ended up having NO music on it. I was all alone. I was battling vertigo the whole time and kept drinking way too much water and each stop to try to feel normal. I puked my guts out at the finish line thanks to all that water.

3. 2011 Eugene Half Marathon. Amazon Parkway killed my IT band. I still deal with that if I run on an uneven surface! I ran great. I threw up on the track at Hayward Field. Hahaha. Go Beavs!

4. 2011 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. I ran this one with my leg all wrapped up because of the IT band issue. My doctor hooked me up with tons of shots in my leg prior to the race so I could get it done. I got to meet Abby at the finish line party!

5. 2011 Lacamas Lake Half Marathon in Washington. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. The course was NOT what it was advertised. I saw no great views. And I had a terrible reaction to my Meniere's medicine which derailed me. Then the medal was seriously the size of a flattened penny. Never again. HATED IT.

6. 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon. Team Jam was born! This was the group race people aspire to have, but no one will ever be able to replicate. We. Were. Freaking. Awesome.

7. 2011 Portland Half Marathon. More memorable than the race was the expo. I met Jeff Galloway. I listened to awesome runners speaking about my running idol Steve Prefontaine. And then I met this woman ... and she was Steve Prefontaine's sister!! And she welcomed me to her family that day instantly. I adored her. AND THEN she introduced me to Frank Shorter - Pre's friend!! I never would have expected any of that. She and I still message now and then! And I got the PR I told Jeff Galloway I was going to get.

8. 2011 Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon. I ran dressed as the Cheshire Cat. I finished in tears because I had hurt myself during the race and was worried it was going to mess up the next race on the schedule. But I did it with a bunch of friends so that was awesome!

9. 2011 Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. It was the cluster f*$@ sh!t show everyone talked about after. I loved the course. I loved that it was at night. I loved the lights. I didn't love that I was one of the many, MANY people that got sick during the race. I collapsed after the race inside Mandalay Bay. A volunteer, Nancy, came to my aid with salt. It was insane. I really really do want to do this race again and have a fresh try!

10. 2012 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Characters galore! And running with new friends.

11. 2012 Inaugural (and only) Walt Disney World Marathon Relay. I surprised myself by running back to back half marathons and doing incredibly awesome on the second one. I was with Corral A runners, so I guess they just intimidated me into running faster. I hit every photo stop without a line thanks to running with the people that never stop!

12. 2012 Heart Breaker Half Marathon. I saw Jeff Galloway again. I PR'd again. Is he the key?? And they gave us strawberries on the course.

13. 2012 Eugene Half Marathon. Another PR for me. I was on fire.

14. 2012 Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. That course was a deceptive beast! So much uphill.

15. 2012 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. The first race Shawn and I ever did together. His first race, period. He just followed my lead and we did awesome!! Then I convinced him to run the marathon with me that year. It was our first out of town trip together, too, other than our first date. I guess it all worked out since here we are still together a decade later!

16. 2012 Scappoose Half Marathon. This was essentially a training run for the next full marathon on the calendar. It was sooooo cold. Insanely cold.

17. 2012 Run to Stay Warm Half Marathon. No memories of this one. It was also a training run for the Disney races coming up.

18. 2012 Reindeer Run Half Marathon. Not enough aid stations along the way. I got so thirsty I was debating drinking water from a ditch.

19. 2012 Eugene Holiday Half Marathon. They had gingerbread man cookies and electrolyte drinks on the course that, when taken together, tasted like delicious dessert! And free Cliff Shot Block packages, too. We left with soooo many in Shawn's pockets.

20. 2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Shawn and I ran as Jessie and Woody from Toy Story and ended up on the news! The next day we ran the marathon as Batman and Batgirl and we melted.

21. 2013 Inaugural Hop Hop Half Marathon. A girl my age collapsed and an ambulance came. She looked lifeless. Her eyes were rolled back. She survived but I hear was hospitalized. It was really scary to see.

22. 2013 Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. I was better prepared since I knew their elevation charts were deceptive. Andy Grammar was the post-race concert.

23. 2013 Grapes of Half. Gorgeous. Nature. Wineries. Killer hills at the end. Gravel road, going downhill. I had to sort of walk sideways down so I wouldn't slip.

24. 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon. Part of the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare weekend. We ran as Mario and Luigi! And found many friends along the way.

25. 2013 Women's Running Half Marathon. This was in Arizona. There were maybe 5 dudes, Shawn being one of them. The altitude and change in air completely shocked me. I wasn't expecting that!

26. 2013 Eugene Holiday Half Marathon. I forgot my tech shirt at home and had to wear the cotton race shirt we all got. This is soooo NOT me.

27. 2013 Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. At the finish line the announcer saw us and said, "Always be yourself, unless you can be a pirate. Then be a pirate!"

28. 2013 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. I got to see Sir Mix A Lot!

29. 2013 Eugene Half Marathon. I actually began this race with my DAD and Shawn. I ditched both of them somewhere along the race and waited for them at the finish line. Ha!

30. 2013 Vancouver BC Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. Shawn had to walk it - doctor's orders - but we both went dressed as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police! We even had police officers stop us to compliment us on our outfits as we walked to the race! My first time in Canada!! 

31. 2013 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon. The 5th anniversary of the race. That morning we were on RunDisney's social media for our Jack Skellington and Sally costumes in the 5K. For this night race we were Pinocchio and Gepetto. This would be the last half for a while because we were about to start the whole IVF process.

32. 2014 Inaugural Shamrock Half Marathon. Did not do it. Doctor's Orders! NOT allowed!

33. 2014 Corvallis Half Marathon. Did not do it. Doctor's Orders! NOT allowed!

34. 2018 Eugene Half Marathon. Felt so good to be back at my favorite distance again and running with a new friend I had just made at Ragnar the year before!

35. 2022 Eugene Half Marathon. The final race. I'll never forget it. Emily let me be with her the entire time and we had so much fun! The poor guy by us having to hear all of our stories. I didn't train at all. I wasn't sure I'd do it. But I am so glad I did!

Is it the end? I really don't know. I hope not. But if it is, I had a great ... run! 

Eugene Half Marathon: My Final 1/2

My FINAL half marathon? Is it?? I think so. Or is it, I think so? I spent so much time during my training just struggling. When I could run I was doing great. My legs were happy, my mind was happy, training was awesome! But just as awesome as it was, it suddenly kept shifting to being really difficult and scary. I never wanted to run too far from home or Katura's school because what if something happened? Ménière's Disease was taking over and the joy was fading. I felt a bit of relief when I finally accepted that I needed to just retire my half marathon shoes. I am NOT done running. I LOVE relays. I can still run a lot of miles, just broken up into 3 different chunks. 13.1 miles has always been my favorite distance once I finally did it, so having this be my last was kind of emotional and sad. BUT I had a happy surprise that changed it so I didn't run a sad race!

I completely abandoned training for this race. Who goes out and runs 3 races in a row with zero training? Apparently ME!! Going into the Eugene Marathon weekend I still didn't know if I would run or not. In my head I was visualizing the course and trying to figure out a game plan if I couldn't finish or if I had a terrible Meniere's attack and needed to stop or get help. I wondered if I was going to drive up to Eugene and end up turning around and driving home. I WANTED to run, but was also scared. So finally it was race day. At 3:30am my alarm went off and by 4am I was on the road to Eugene. When I arrived I was super early, which I prefer, and settled in my parking spot. I walked to the porta potties and then to the start area to see them setting everything up. That solidified it. I was ready to race!

The sun came up and I made my way to the start area. As I was walking around just taking it all in I was so excited to see Emily! This was going to be a great retirement race! We decided we'd get through it together, and I am sooooo so glad we did. 

I conducted an experiment during this race. Okay, if you missed my pouting .... I had tickets to see Hamilton. I didn't let myself get excited about it until I was there. I was not even a block away and said to my mom, "Well, now I can get excited! We are here! It's happening!" Less than one minute later I learned the show was cancelled due to a flu outbreak among the company. Instant tears. I was heartbroken. **I now have tickets again for later this year.*** So to celebrate my new tickets I had decided to listen to Hamilton during the race and see how far could I get in the course before the show ended. This was my plan before I saw Emily, but I decided to stick with it because why not?!?

Once we crossed the start line I hit start on my Garmin and start on Hamilton! And we were off for 13.1 miles of non-stop chatter. Seriously, Emily, I had so much fun. Thank you! We talked about so much. Crazy medical things, races, Broadway, traveling. We never shut up except for when we were drinking water I think!

Run wise I don't really have things to report. We did it! Emily had her Garmin beeping at us in ratios so we'd rotate between running and walking. Thank goodness we had that. I honestly don't know what I would have done solo. I mean clearly I'd have been that girl performing Hamilton alone, but would I have remembered to start running if I walked? Would I have survived that last 5K?

The last 5K. Ugh. I've said this every time I've run the Eugene Half Marathon. The first 10 miles are the physical part. The last 3.1 is the mental challenge. The course gets quiet. No spectators. No hills. Just you and the half marathon runners since the marathon course diverts at that point. Around mile 8.7 you actually pass the finish line. From that point on it is just this mental battle. You get tired physically and you need your mind to help you, but it gets hard. Thank goodness for teamwork and laughter!! Another bonus, we found Jenn on course during this rough spot. Sometimes you just need to see a happy, familiar face to help revive a bit of a bounce in your step!

The last mile actually seemed to fly by now that I think about it. We entered Hayward Field and oops, costume fail. For some reason it seemed like I needed to put my sunglasses on. I don't know why. My brain was dead. When I tried it made my pirate bandanna fall off. So yeah, I totally had us stop so I could fix it for the finish line. I don't know!! I think we did a great job on the track keeping smiles on for the photos and coming in strong to the finish line. I even heard them say my name! I never hear it because I'm usually in a fog. I'm so glad that for this final race I actually heard it!

At the finish I really noticed my Meniere's battle, and thank goodness I found a fence I was able to grab on to. I didn't even grab my medals right away! And what I noticed and really appreciated was nobody tried to shoo me along. Sometimes at the finish they try to get you out ASAP. I physically couldn't do it. Heck a volunteer even brought me a barf bag (that I didn't have to use thank goodness). They were all so nice and patient then smiled when I was finally ready to grab the bling.

Yeah, we got TWO medals! Both Emily and I were doing the Doublestack Challenge which meant the bonus medal. Hot dog, I like ending with a bang and bling! Lots of photos happened before we made our way to the post-race party. I indulged in grilled cheese sandwich squares at the end and collected some yummy cookies. From there it was a mission to McDonald's for salty fries and a Coke! 

I'm so glad I did the race! It got hard at the end, but felt so dang good once I hit the track and got to see the end in sight. It's been a great run of great runs, and I am happy they aren't all done for good. Maybe some day I'll be back reporting on 13.1 miles. We shall wait and find out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Eugene 5K

This was the race I expected to run in 2020, back when I was feeling great and planning on training for another marathon. Covid happened and races all came to an abrupt halt. I had to defer to 2021. And then I had to defer to 2022. Finally it was race day.... and I wasn't trained.

I had started my training plan and was feeling really excited about following my full calendar with short runs, long runs, cross training on my spin bike. It felt great to finally have racing becoming a reality again. But I was also faced with another reality... Ménière's disease. I've been dealing with this for close to 20 years and it seems like when it comes to running my desires are losing the battle to what my body wants. I was finding it more and more difficult to train. I'd sometimes only make it to the end of my street and I'd have to turn and walk back home. I'd always tell people where I was running and have someone on alert in case I needed picked up. Vertigo was dominating my runs and it just wasn't fun anymore. It was frustrating and scary at times. So after a lot of thinking I came to the realization that I can't fully train for the half marathon and I'd need to "retire" from long distances. 

Clearly the 5K race I was doing was not what I'd call a long distance. BUT the fact that I didn't train for the half meant I also didn't train for the 5K! Fortunately when it comes to racing I'm pretty dang casual. I don't set time goals for myself. I don't compete with other runners. I just go out to enjoy myself and the people. I didn't want to do virtual races during Covid because my idea of racing is having spectators, water stations, other runners. And that is exactly what I wanted from this 5K - to just enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie that comes with these big races.

I stood at the start line by myself, listening to some music and getting myself mentally prepared for the challenge ahead of me. Then I looked up and boom, there was Emily! We were both surprised to see each other, and also super happy. Emily and I have a knack of finding each other without trying when we don't even know we will both be somewhere. This has happened in Oregon multiple times, California and Washington. Clearly we were meant to be friends!

So we began the race together. For a little time we were separated because I think I just had the whole Eugene vibe rub off on me and I pushed harder than I should have. Add in that downhill and I hauled ass. I enjoyed that they changed up the 5K route. I was kind of over the one I have already done so many times.

Half way into the race I was bringing out my phone to vlog and Emily was back! We spent the rest of the race together and it was so much fun. It has been so long since I ran with a friend - and one that isn't Shawn. I think the last time I ran with someone that wasn't Shawn would be Dustin and I doing the Holiday Half in Portland back in 2018!

Time flew by and soon we were approaching Hayward Field ready for our big finish. I don't even know if they said my name because I was too busy waving at Katura and she stood at the side by the finish line cheering with her cowbell! That is a great way to finish a race!!

We got our medals, took our finisher photos and then parted ways. As I went home I was optimistic about the half marathon the next day, but still also not really sure if I would do it. And if I didn't, I at least had a blast doing the kid race with Katura and the 5K with Emily!

Spoiler alert... I DID do the half marathon!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Eugene Kid's Duck Dash

Well here's a first... a race report for a KIDS race!

In 2019 Katura and I registered for all of the 2020 Eugene Marathon weekend races. Well life had other plans. In 2020 and 2021the races were cancelled. Finally, in 2022 we had our change to have our first race together without a stroller!

Katura's race began at 8am right outside of Hayward Field. She was lined up and excited for her first race, a 1K. The plan was to just let her do her thing and I would follow. It was HER race, not mine.

She was a bit hesitant at the start, I think because she had no idea what was actually going on. I tried to encourage her and started showing her how sometimes you need to weave around other people to get an open path. Once she figured that out she was having a blast and on fire!

Let me tell you, she was awesome! There were times I had to work to keep up with her. After the race she said I was holding her back and next year she will do it all on her own without me. **All kids 6 and younger HAD to have an adult with them, as per the race rules.

We got to the entrance of Hayward Field and I could tell she felt the energy. The crowd was roaring and all of the kids were smiling and ramping up their pace. I deliberately stayed pretty far behind because I wanted her to have her own experience. I was just there as her documentarian.

I've got this girl trained without even trying. She didn't want to wear her medal because it was a Duck Dash medal, and not a Beaver Dash medal. She humored me and wore it for one single photo. 

It was pure chaos at that finish line. Kids. Parents. Volunteers. Medals. Water bottles. Goody bags. Too much in one little spot that all had to exit UP the stairs into the grandstands. Then the post-race party... yikes! I left Katura and Shawn to head to the start line for my next race and they tackled the crowds to get some free pancakes and a cowbell.

She had a great time and definitely seems interested in next year's race. I told her as long as she wants to do them, I will happily be there and let her race!

Castaway Cay 5K and a Half?

During our 2022 Spring Break cruise on the Disney Fantasy we were lucky enough to stop at Castaway Cay on our final day. I say "lucky enough" because we were already behind schedule the night before at dinner, then the weather wasn't good in the morning. Word on the pool deck among crew members was that they weren't positive we'd be able to dock. But we did! That meant running my fourth Castaway Cay 5K race on the island.

In all 4 times of running this is has never been 3.1 miles. Maybe I'll find the sweet turnaround spot next time?

I enjoyed the course, as usual. It was raining off and on. And crazy humidity at the same time.

I was running great, but the humidity always knocks me down. Oregonians and heat and super wet humidity don't mix, okay?!?

One thing I noticed very different during this race than the one in August was the amount of people. So many people this time! All ages, skills, sizes. It was really cool to have us all out there together. But what I also noticed was they all vanished. I followed the signs. I took the right hand turn and went toward the cabanas. And then I never saw another runner.

I also never saw a turn around sign. So I went to the end of the path and turned around when I hit the end - but not before taking in the views of the ocean and a nearby island. Back to the bicycle rental shack I went and hurried to the finish line.

3.6 miles.

A 5K race is 3.1 miles. I had an extra half of a mile. That's a lot when you want to just hurry and get back to the beach to go swimming! And all those other runners? Heck, I can tell you then didn't even get close to 3 since they didn't even make it to the cabanas at all. But you know what, I don't care! They were the smart ones. They got to the beach faster than I did. Smart!

At the end I was given my medal and a lady I had been around a lot during the cruise was getting hers. So we figured why not celebrate each other and get some photos!?! I seriously love Disney Cruises and the people I meet!

As per usual I loved it - even if it was long. Will I do it again? Yes. Very soon!