Lately…

Oh my stars, I am so sorry I haven’t updated you in weeks. We have been trucking along, enjoying Portland in its thriving months of summer!

We had our last Hulu Lulu run on Tuesday night. Scott is taking off to Germany and Katy is passing the torch so we did one final lap around the waterfront and then headed to Rouge Brewery in our Hawaiian shirts for one last hurrah. I don’t think we have ever stayed that late on a Tuesday night. I am so thankful for such a strong running community and even better friendships through that run. Just because it won’t be organized doesn’t mean you won’t find us circling the waterfront on a random Tuesday night anyways.

Lulu Run

hulu lulu

hulu lulu

Great group of ladies!

On Saturday I had the best treat I could have ever asked for! Anna, my college roommate and very good friend, had been on an Alaskan cruise that docked in and out of Seattle. I found a spot on the Bolt Bus and made a day trip up to have lunch with her and Ben. I love that I haven’t seen her since December of 2011 but we can still pick right back up as if we were in the same city all along. I am beyond excited that she will be standing up there with me on my big day. I couldn’t ask for a better friend!

Lunch Seattle

Engagement toast and shopping at Pike Place Market for the day.

Just because I haven’t been running 70 miles a week doesn’t mean I have lost my appetite. I currently cannot get enough fruit, especially peaches right now. So, I made my first peach cake last night!

peach cake

Ina Garten’s Peach Cake – I added a touch of cinnamon to my batter, the house smelled delicious!

I am currently in “goal mode.” In September I am going down to Ashland to pace a friend from Alabama that is running Pine to Palm, a 100 mile endurance run. I’ll hop in around mile 74 and run him in. Running from 11pm to 6am will give me a better feel for what a 100 miler might be like. My wheels are turning.

Today I decided that I cannot let my friends run the Portland Marathon without me, so with the help of a very generous sponsor (ahem, dad) I bit the bullet and signed up! Another marathon on October 6th, this time with a few of my favorites pictured above.

In other exciting news, we have a new runner among us… JOHN! I’d like to think I might have had something to do with his recent enthusiasm (that or he has just been really anxious to finish his current audiobook). I asked very nicely one evening if he wanted to try and run a half marathon with me in November and he said yes. So, at 8am sharp I signed us up for the Silver Falls Half Marathon -which sold out 600 spots in 10 minutes! He likes to tell me everyday just how many days we have left. I think we’re around 86, he’s adorable. November 2nd, send up some prayers that I don’t get upset when he beats me.

All of these goals are helping me stay on track, right up until May 24, 2014… oh yeah, we have officially set a date! My mom is coming to visit this week and wedding dress shopping commences on Friday, I am so excited!

Life is so good,

Signature

Mt Hood 50

50k

“Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further… past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known.”

That’s me up there crossing the 50 mile finish line after 9 hours and 24 minutes of running on the PCT. I’m not going to tell you that it was easy or that I would recommend it for just anyone. I’m not going to tell you that I enjoyed every second of it or that I hated it. But I will break down the day for you in the most honest way possible: it was tough but I was just a little bit tougher.

Here were my goals for the day:
Be light on your feet. Choose your path wisely. When you trip, roll with it. Relax in the midst of effort. Concentration does not mean tension. Dress the part. Ask questions. GO YOUR OWN PACE. If others need to pass, they will. Make adjustments to remain balanced. Pack smart. Have options. Refuel before you are empty. Finish a better woman for having made the adventure.

We started the day at 4 am, packing up the car and getting on the road for a 6:30 race start. Being my first 50 miler, I photo 2was surprisingly calm. When I first began running trails I had to realize that my sense of time had to change, and like in life, I had to accept that worthwhile things can take a long time. It was certainly going to be a long day.

The course was an out and back 28 total and another out and back 22 total. Aid stations were set every 5-6 miles stocked with Gu’s, s-caps, pb&j, chips, coke, gummy bears. You name it, it was probably there. My first 25 miles were relatively quick. I met some great people on the trail that carried me at a solid pace, but I backed down when I realized that 5th female was probably jumping the gun a little. (Who was I kidding? I NEEDED to slow it down!)

I would say miles 25-35 were the most difficult for me. I coasted into the start/finish 28 mile station and John greeted me with my electrolytes and a big grin. (How could that adorable face not have cheered me up!) The 2nd half of the race was the meaty part, extreme elevation gains and drops made it difficult to keep a steady pace. I walked the ups and ran the downs. I was tired. When I reached the 39 mile turnaround I made a decision to let my mind wander a little. The next thing I knew I had 5.5 miles until the finish. My Garmin was dying but I caught myself checking it anyways, not because I wanted to see how much further I had to go, but because I wondered how much time I had left to enjoy. Those last few miles were a victory lap for me. A pat on the back for getting up at 4:30am every day to run in the pouring rain, to miss dinners and fun weekends because mine were spent on the trails, to squeeze in mileage whenever I could so that I could teach spin classes, hike mountains, and still have a life, and to feel fresh and light on my feet after 47 miles of running. I wanted to enjoy every last step. My legs felt strong. My feet weren’t achy. My quads didn’t hurt. I can’t really compare those last few miles to anything– it was a very emotional (evidence above) and a very proud experience for me.

I crossed the finish line 3/18 in my age group, 7/48 female, and 50/127 overall with plenty left in my legs. 9 hours and 24 glorious minutes to run 50 miles.  I would do it all again in a heartbeat…

photo 1

and I definitely will. Love to all of you for your unbelievable support!!! I think I’ll take it easy this week 🙂

Signature

the taper

So here we are. Race week.

Unfortunately, this is my least favorite part of this whole thing… I hate the taper. I am the type of person that enjoys training for a race far over race day itself, so when the taper shows up between the part I like and the part I don’t, I am not myself. I am hungry, achy, lazy, grumpy, restless and impatient. My mind wanders. I can’t focus long. I can’t sleep. I definitely prefer training over this any day. I enjoy long runs with my friends. I like big meals and hot showers. I revel in getting dirty and then clean. Eating whatever I want. Logging the miles and feeling tired but stronger by the week.

Race day doesn’t even come close to being as fun either. There’s the early alarm. I barely sleep. Mad rush to eat, pack the car and get to the start. Race bibs. Pins. Watches. Drop bags. Other, super fit, runners running around looking ‘ready’ and fast. A lot of hurry up and wait. Gu and gear and gun… boom, it starts.

Honestly, it isn’t fun for me (not entirely) until I finish. I like it better in the rear view mirror. The memories that come flooding back of the countless training runs, how difficult it was to climb that last hill and how exciting it was to see people you love cheer you on through something so challenging. BUT since this isn’t really a ‘race’ for me, it’s a test of endurance, I have decided to embrace the taper. To eat when I am hungry. To rest when I can. To enjoy being showered and fresh for a few days. I am going to rely on my training, plan early so I am not rushed, stretch it out and enjoy staying off of these tired feet. I’m going to focus on building up the efforts ahead instead of tearing myself down with fear.

photo

And then, with every last thing I have in me, I am going to run 50 miles around Mt Hood.

Signature

thirty (days)

30 days to go and training is going really well. My legs and feet have been more achy than ever before (so much so that I am actually dreaming about it) but I don’t feel miserable on runs, in fact I feel very strong. Don’t get met wrong, Saturday’s 4 hour was tough–to the point I needed to get my head straight a few times, but Sunday’s 5 hour run on the Wildwood Trail was where I really felt confident in my ability. My legs had no problem continuing to move, my mind was in a good place and my appetite was satisfied. My outlook does ebb and flow but when I think back on the 70 miles I took on last week strong is the only word that stands out. Turns out that I have it in me precisely when I think I don’t. I need to remember that on race day. Or maybe even everyday.

I have  logged my usual weekly miles but I will be taking it easy this weekend because John has pulled a rabbit out of his hat and surprised the heck out of me… we are hopping on a plane tomorrow afternoon (I have no clue where to) for an early Casey’s Big 30th Birthday Bash Weekend Getaway!home

All I have gotten out of him is what I need to pack and, luckily for me, my running shoes are making the cut.

Grinning from ear to ear,

Signature

Timberline Marathon

Just when you think you can’t take another step, you are completely out of breath, gas, fuel, anything and everything has been depleted, you get the pick me up that you have been waiting for all along.

We loaded up the truck around 6am Saturday morning and hit the road for 2 laps around Timothy Lake. I had been anxious all week. About a month ago I signed up for the Timberline Marathon (just as a training run for the 50 miler) and talked my best girlfriends into signing up for the half. My runs the past couple of weeks have been less than stellar so I wasn’t sure what Saturday had in store for me.

Timberline Marathon

The marathon started at 8:30am in a swarm of mosquitos. Runners headed into the woods one at a time in order to accommodate for the narrow trail. I was nervous. I have no idea why, there were only 400 people running. My pace was sporadic the first six or seven miles until I finally got “comfortable” in my speed. I spotted John at mile 10 and was feeling great. I made the first loop and started passing the half marathoners — jumping over fallen trees and dodging puddles I already knew were coming. My legs felt good, no…. they felt strong.

At mile 17 I stopped to refill my water bottle and was still feeling good, however, miles 18-21 were, as usual, rough. I was hoping John was going to be back at the same stop and sure enough, he was! And so was Katy! It was just what I needed to push me the last 3 miles.

Timberline Marathon

For the first time all day I really noticed what my time was and how fast I had been moving. John left his bike by the water to run it in with me. I could barely talk. I wasn’t in the mood to talk or even think about anything. Just ready to be finished. I turned the corner and sprinted in the last 400 yards – embracing my friends at the finish line.

GirlsShot

Next thing I knew they were calling my name for 3rd female overall and 2nd in my age group! Quite possibly the first and last time I will EVER place anything in a marathon.

award1CandJ

We piled in our cars and drove back to Hoodview Campground where John had been cheering me on and parked it for victory beers and snacks at a picnic table by the lake- Mt. Hood towering overhead.

hoodview Hoodview2

I woke up Sunday morning energized and confident for 3 hours of hills. Piece of cake.

I just might be able to pull this off after all. Six weeks and counting…

Signature

mind over matter

Hi friends!

I am still on cloud nine from this past weekend. Friday night John and I had a nice evening on our front porch. The weather has been unbelievable. I keep waiting for the clouds to roll in but they have managed to stay away for over a week; very uncharacteristic for this time of the year.

Saturday morning I left my house just after 5am to get in 2 hours of running then met the girls for 2 more hours of trails. It wasn’t too bad. My legs began to fatigue during the last hour so I was thankful to have some company. I cannot sing their praises enough, they are so supportive and accommodating to help me get my training done. I am still struggling with my nutrition, learning how much of ‘what’ to eat and drink ‘when’ is actually harder than I thought it would be to figure out.

That afternoon I picked up Tom and Nicki from the airport. They are two of my favorite people and I am so glad they made it out here to enjoy this nice spring weather in Portland.

On Sunday I knew I had to do 3 hours and I really wanted to keep it all on trails so I tried a new area of Forest Park that I hadn’t been to yet –a flat portion of the Wildwood trail. I pulled up to the trailhead around 6:30am, it was a little eerie. Not sure if it was because it was so early and deserted (other than a few parked cars) or just a new, unfamiliar area for me. Whatever, I am a big girl so I got my things together and hit the trail. It took me about 45 minutes to become comfortable with my surroundings. My legs felt OK. Not great but OK. It seemed like an entire day had passed before I hit the halfway point. I pressed on and finished 14 miles in 3 hours.

We spent the rest of the day taking Tom and Nicki wine tasting in the Willamette Valley then came home and cooked a delicious meal and sat on our porch until the sun went down. I love, love, love the company of good friends.

Four Graces

Wine tasting at Four Graces with Tom and Nicki.

When I crawled in bed last night I started thinking about my run that morning. Analyzing every decision I made leading up to it, through it’s duration and my recovery process. I must have suppressed it because I started to remember how much I struggled to get between miles 9 and 13- I kept having to repeat to myself out loud: this WILL get easier, back to back long runs WILL GET EASIER. And I remembered how my stomach was growling at two and half hours and I should have brought more fuel with me, and how difficult it was to eat on the way home because I was all out of fluids to wash it down. I still have so much to learn.

One year ago yesterday I ran my 5th marathon. One month ago I ran my first 50K. Last week I ran a total of 60 miles -37 of those within 24 hours. On Sunday I realized that my body actually can do this. It will get easier. Mind over matter, I will run 50 miles.

I will probably go ahead and start packing tonight… we leave for Tulum in FIVE DAYS!!! More updates later this week before we leave the country. Love to you all.

Signature