10 Essentials for My Birthday Weekend in Vancouver

I leave today! I leave today! I’m so excited I can barely stand it.  I’ll try to post from Vancouver, but probably won’t have much of substance until Monday (to keep up with me  during the weekend, follow me on Twitter).

In the meantime, here are the 10 essential things I’m bringing with me to Vancouver:

10.  My beeeg suitcase.  The events this weekend are varied and I need to have appropriate attire and footwear for each. I’m going shopping, strolling, afternoon-patio-drinking, upscale-casual dining, cocktailing, potentially dancing, and running. With the exception of running, I don’t know what I’m wearing for these many activities. Indecision + Last-Minute-Packing = Big Suitcase. Just cram it all in there!

9.  Nuun.  Photo Aug 16, 5 08 28 PMI need to stay hydrated and apparently this stuff is good for hangovers.  Not that I’m planning on getting hungover, but it is my birthday celebration weekend.  Good thing they come in handy travel packs!

8.  My Garmin.  timeBecause I’m running a half-marathon and need to monitor my pace. I haven’t run hard since my marathon at the end of May, I’m still coming back from an injury, and I need to make sure I don’t run too fast for my current level of conditioning.

7.  My new MZ Wallace handbag.

MZ Wallace 'Paige' Crossbody Bag

My darling mom bought me this purse for my birthday, and I love it. Its multiple pockets are perfect for a pack-rat like me who tries to bring everything in her house with her wherever she goes and needs to be able to find everything stat. You know, like exhausted gift cards, punch cards for businesses I rarely frequent, mints, lipstick, several glosses, yada-yada-yada. As I’m traveling to Canada, I also need to have my passport, and as I’m going to this race, I need to have my proof of purchase to show at packet pick-up. Fortunately, this handbag offers a place for everything and it’s light to boot.

6.  Body Glide. I’ve recently started to experience inner thigh chafe. I didn’t really have this problem before, having it experienced it only once at last year’s SeaWheeze when I wore a brand new running skirt that I had never worn before (stupid mistake). Last week I chafed on only a 10 mile run. Ouch. So there you go. Body Glide is my inner thighs’ new BFF.

5.  My new Oiselle Flock singlet. the-flock-bThis will be my first time wearing the singlet, and funnily enough it will be at a race sponsored by another brand.  There will be other Flock members participating in the race and we’re meeting up pre-race for a group photo. Should be fun to meet some women I’ve only “known” through Facebook or Twitter.

4.  My Oiselle Distance Shorts. 

My shorts were the official MVP of the 2013 NYCM.

My shorts were the official MVP of the 2013 NYCM.

Because I don’t run races without them. I love how light the material is, that they don’t ride up, and that they have ample pocket-space. I’m going to bring my phone so that I can take photos on the course, but I don’t want to hold it in my hand the entire time. Fortunately, I can easily fit my phone in the large back pocket along with a couple Gu, my room key, and a credit card.

3.  My iPhone.  Because I’m an amateur blogger and don’t have a real camera with which to take photos for my blog, and because it’s my birthday weekend and I plan on taking a lot of good shots of people doing silly things like this:

This was in Vancouver a few years ago. It's a fun city.

This was in Vancouver a few years ago. It’s a fun city.

Plus I need to coordinate the meeting times and places for our group of 13. It’s a good thing I’m Type A and like to plan, because that’s a little bit yikes!

2.  My running shoes.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 10

Because I’m running a race and hopefully also a shakeout run. Vancouver is a gorgeous city with several nice running routes, so I plan to take advantage of that when I’m visiting.

1.   My husband and friends. S2N 2012I’m celebrating a birthday this weekend, and not just any birthday: my 40th. It’s been a tough last week or so as I reflect on the significance of reaching this milestone, considering where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and what there’s left to accomplish in my life. I am thrilled to be alive, healthy, part of a loving and supportive family, employed, and surrounded by amazing friends, but there’s a part of me that still mourns this particular birthday.  I am so glad my husband and friends will be there with me to celebrate my birthday and remind me how much youthfulness and lighthearted fun there still is in my life as I turn 40.

Okay, I’m done being wistful.  On to Vancouver to party!

SeaWheeze Half Marathon Preview

This Saturday, August 23, is the SeaWheeze Half in Vancouver, BC. It will be the third year of this race, and the third time I’ve run it.

20140122-231713.jpg

2014 SeaWheeze medal and shorts.

The SeaWheeze is a running, yoga, and music festival sponsored and organized by Lululemon. The inaugural race in 2012 had around 7,000 runners and this year there will be more than 10,000.

The SeaWheeze’s course forms a loop around downtown Vancouver, hitting several neighborhoods (Chinatown, Kitsilano, and English Bay) and glorious views in the process.  Possibly due to those stunning views and already-legendary swag, runners come from all around the world to participate. It’s quickly becoming the Canadian version of the Nike Women’s Marathon.

Even though it’s reached an international profile, the SeaWheeze is a quirky race. For example, there are no bibs (those would ruin photos of the colorful outfits from the sponsoring brand), and it’s not a certified course. However, it is chip-timed, literally: founder Chip Wilson’s face is emblazoned on every last chip.

The Details:

What:  The Lululemon SeaWheeze, a half-marathon, yoga, and music festival featuring a concert by Capital Cities.

When:  Saturday, August 23, 2014, at 7:00 a.m.

Where:  The course starts and ends near the Vancouver Convention Centre (note the Canadian/British English spelling because I am veddy prop-ah).

024Registration:  The 2014 SeaWheeze sold out in record time last winter.  If you want to run it next year, check out the event website or follow it on Twitter.

Why You Should Run this Race: 

It’s beautiful.  The SeaWheeze course forms a scenic loop around one of North America’s prettiest cities, Vancouver, BC.  Downtown Vancouver is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water, and the course takes you around the peninsula.

028

The view from the Burrard Bridge on the way to Kits.

037

2010 Winter Olympics statute in English Bay.

042

Stanley Park’s famed Seawall.

043

More Seawall, with the Lion’s Gate Bridge in the background.

The course elevation.  The course itself is fairly flat, with only a few noticeable hills: the climb up to the Burrard Bridge (both ways) and a small, short incline in Stanley Park.

035

Climbing the Burrard Bridge on the way back downtown.

Vancouver is a city worth visiting.  You can go to Vancouver without running the SeaWheeze, of course, and you should if given the chance. But running the SeaWheeze is just another (good) excuse to go to Vancouver, which is the third largest city in Canada, surrounded by gorgeous and accessible nature, and extremely cosmopolitan and international. There are incredible restaurants–from regional coastal cuisine to authentic izakayas to the best Cantonese food outside of Hong Kong. The people are friendly. It boasts a wonderful market on Granville Island where you can buy unpasteurized cheese, Montreal-style bagels, and French pastries. And have I mentioned the food?

Course support is enthusiastic and unique. In addition to friends-and-family-types cheering along the course, there are pockets of excitable (and costumed) Lulu-heads to provide extra cheer.

The Hari Krishna (?) themed cheer station.

The Hari Krishna (?) themed cheer station.

This charming fellow and his unitard greeted me towards the end of the race.

This charming fellow and his unitard greeted me towards the end of the race.

Swag.  This is a major draw for many for this race, and with good reason. In 2012, swag included limited edition SeaWheeze shorts for training, a spike bag, Native flip-flops (love these, still wear them), and a keychain medal.

2012 SeaWheeze shorts and medal.

2012 SeaWheeze shorts and medal.

In 2013, race goodies included redesigned training shorts, a canvas bag, Skullcandy headphones (also loved them… till my cat ate them), a travel aromatherapy kit, and a wooden locket medal. The limited edition shorts themselves are incentive enough for some people to register for the race, as you’ll find the SeaWheeze training shorts selling on Ebay for well above what market value would be ($54) if the shorts could be purchased at a store… which is a little suspect, if you ask me.

You want to see this band live:

This factor may also fall under the “Things to Consider” category below, depending on how sick you are of “Safe and Sound” being played on endless rotation over the radio airwaves this summer.

Things to Consider:

You won’t be able to escape the brand.  Be prepared to drink the Kool-Aid–or at least have it shoved in your face. Umm…see the girls in yellow and red above, and the guy in the lime-green unitard? To be that committed to the SeaWheeze/Lululemon cause, don’t you think they kinda had to drink the Lulu Kool-Aid? That level of rah-rah spirit about the brand is everywhere, which is a little hard to take anyway, but especially for someone like me who doesn’t have a thigh gap. I’m not a huge fan of the brand, so this is just my opinion, but the Lulu-ness of the 2013 event was a bit much.

Don’t expect a PR.  Despite its straightforward elevation profile, the SeaWheeze isn’t a great race to PR for a few reasons. There are several tight spots in the course, including the first mile and the mile or so through Kitsilano.  It’s almost impossible to run the tangents throughout the race because of this, and also because the Seawall follows the rippled contour of the shore.  Also, the race is actually longer than 13.1 miles. In 2012 and 2013, my Garmin showed that I ran around 13.3 and 13.4 miles.

No pictures. No bib = no pictures.

The registration fee is expensive.  This year’s registration fee was $128 CAD, which is roughly $115 USD.  Many grumble about this price, but it’s fairly comparable to the cost of Rock ‘n’ Roll races, and you get much better swag than at RNR.

Want more info? Check out my earlier post about the SeaWheeze or visit the event website.

Have you run the SeaWheeze? Do you want to? 

 

 

Weekend Update: Shop, Run, Costco Run

Happy Monday!

IMG_0154I’m linking up again with my friend Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading. Please go check out her blog!

Just as last week flew by, so did this past weekend. The speed with which my weekend passed may have had something to do with the fact that I was running errands for the majority of it.

School’s almost back in session and I am a terrible mom, so of course my kids are ill-equipped to return to school in September. In addition to spending some quality time at my local Target buying all manner of school supplies and at the mall buying the kids some school clothes, I also did this:

Photo Aug 16, 1 52 43 PMA little shopping for myself! Yes, I paid a quick visit to Nordstrom and, yes, I cannot escape my kids even when shopping. I went there to buy some new denim and to try to find a cute “birthday outfit” to wear this coming weekend in Vancouver. I found this adorable jacket and bought it, but I’ve already decided it’s going back. I can’t justify spending that much money on a novelty jacket, especially when the amount I’ll spend in Vancouver on food alone will be a (small) king’s ransom. I’m keeping the boyfriend jeans, though.

Photo Aug 16, 10 46 59 AMI also managed to get my “long run” in this weekend. I’d planned to run 11 miles but the route I ran ended short. Oh well. It was warm and humid (80%, which is high for around these parts) and I looked like a hot mess by the end of it. My pace was slower than I would like but I need to be realistic: I haven’t run double-digits since I ran the marathon on May 31, and I’m supposed to gradually build my speed and endurance post-injury. I think being capable of running a 10-miler should prepare me well enough to at least finish this weekend’s SeaWheeze Half without injury.  If my pace is anywhere near 9:52/mile at the SeaWheeze, I should be happy.

I ran only once this weekend to give myself a break, and instead logged what felt like miles at Costco in addition to Target and the mall. And lo and behold, look what Costco’s carrying!

Photo Aug 16, 4 24 07 PMWhee! Nuun at a great Costco price. My son was very, very pleased.

Photo Aug 16, 4 24 26 PMIf anyone loves Nuun more than me in our household, it might be this guy. I drink it during and after runs, as well as just for the hell of it, and he drinks it when he plays soccer. He would drink it more often if I let him, but I hoard my Nuun like it’s a rare commodity. I think he believes it gives him special athletic powers. I myself think it’s damn good for hydrating, but it turns out I was wrong about its capabilities:

Photo Aug 16, 4 24 39 PMHangover cure, huh? You learn something new every day.

Look what else I picked up at Costco:

Photo Aug 16, 4 35 05 PMA huge teddy bear–for only $30! Unbelievable. We bought it for a friend’s daughter, who has a birthday next month. I almost want to go back and buy another one for my daughter for Christmas.

My son and I cracked open the box of Nuun when we arrived home from our Costco run. I was expecting to see some of their trademark tubes, but instead I saw this:

Photo Aug 16, 5 08 28 PMThe individually wrapped tablets were a pleasant surprise–they’re extremely convenient for drinking Nuun on the go. I’m going to start keeping some tablets stashed in my purse.

The Costco Nuun box also has a fun variety of flavors. I am a hardcore Watermelon and Grape Nuun fan, so this box is pushing me a little out of my comfort zone… and I like it! So far I’ve tried Strawberry Lemonade and Lemon-Lime, and they’re both delicious. I’m going to try mixing half a tab here, half a tab there for some new flavor combos.

So that gets me started thinking about this weekend’s race. I need to start packing for Vancouver and the SeaWheeze, and will definitely throw in some of my new Nuun tablets in my luggage as well as my other requisite race items. I’m trying to decide whether or not to bring my handheld because I’m wary of the SeaWheeze’s official electrolyte drink. Like the saying always goes: Never try something new on race day.

I am so excited for this coming weekend. Let’s get this week started so we can get it over with, already!

How was your weekend? Do you have any upcoming races? Do you ever bring your own hydration to a race or do you rely just on what the course provides?

I was compensated for part of this post by Nuun, but all views and opinions are my own. Oh–and my son’s!

 

 

 

Friday Five: Good News! Imagine That.

TGIF, dear readers! This week flew by for me. I guess it had something to do with how incredibly busy I was with work and trying to coordinate my son’s soccer camp transportation, which was practically a part-time job by itself. No, but seriously–I’ve had a hellaciously busy work week, and the only advantage of that was that time passed quickly. It was like Monday flashed to Friday in the blink of an eye.

I’m linking up again with Courtney at Eat, Pray, Run DC, Mar of Mar on the Run and Cynthia of You Signed up for What?!? for Friday Five.

IMG_0139.JPGThe link-up hosts are letting us run wild with our topic today, so it should be fun to see what the other bloggers participating in the link-up feature as their five items. Please check out the hosts’ blogs and some of the other bloggers who’ve linked up.

The news lately has been depressing. Whether it’s at the international or local level, the bad news has been difficult to avoid. Frankly, I can’t avoid feeling sad or worried when I hear about the recent tragedies and terrible events. It would be fairly easy to become pessimistic about the state of thugs if one regularly watched the news. Apparently, this is officially a thing.

Therefore, my theme for this week’s Friday Five is Good News. Yeehaw! Let the positivity commence:

5. My boyfriend’s on the cover of the September issue of Details.

IMG_0159.PNGMama like. Wait–is that sexist? Who cares. My friend L texted this photo to me late last night and it cheered the hell outta me, even though this isn’t really what Idris Elba looks like. He really looks like this.

I can’t wait to see the photo spread inside, too. Happy happy, joy joy!

And lest you think me a weirdo fangirl, this Huff Post Canada story headline sounds even more breathless than me: “Idris Elba’s Details Cover Is All Kinds of Yes.” Well done, Huff Post Canada, well done.

4. The hot and humid weather finally broke.

As you may know, I live in the Pacific Northwest–specifically, the temperate Puget Sound region, which means we have mild summers and winters. Native Northwesterners like me aren’t used to 90-degree summer days, and certainly not long stretches of that kind of heat. We’re also not used to that much humidity (rain excepted).

Like much of the nation, we’ve experienced heat wave after heat wave this summer. Although I lived in Virginia for a few years and grew accustomed to the heat and humidity of the summers there, I lost that tolerance fairly soon after moving back here over 10 years ago. Simply put, I’m a wimp and started complaining about the weather about three days into the first heat wave this summer. And don’t get me started on the effect heat and humidity has on my running.

Fortunately, it’s been cooler this week, and it’s actually rained! I can’t believe I’m happy about that, and will probably kick myself for cursing the sunny weather come next winter, but that’s a Washingtonian for you.

3. The book I’m reading is a gas.

IMG_0162.JPGIf you caught my blog last week, you may have seen my post about how impatient I’d grown with the book I was reading at the time (All The Light We Cannot See), and how antsy I was to move on to a recent purchase (Blood of Heaven). Well, fickle little book lover that I am, I decided to read some thing entirely different after finishing All The Light. Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility is a light yet engaging novel set in the New York of the1930s. I’m not too far into the book due to how busy I’ve been, but I’m enjoying it immensely so far.

2. There’s a new Prancercise video!

And this one has horses!

1. The Boston Athletic Association finally released field size info for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

IMG_0163.PNGSounds weird, right? Why was I so excited about the release of this information?

Well, as you may or may not know, I qualified for Boston in May with a time that’s only 27-freaking-seconds faster than the cut-off for my gender and age. And, if you have ever run or aspired to run Boston and stalked the BAA website and Boston Marathon online forums like I have, you know that the BAA conducts rolling admissions for the legendary race. Quick and dirty version? The fastest runners will get a spot, and despite having achieved a qualifying time, the slower you are the less likely you are to actually be able to register.

For 2014, runners’ qualifying times had to be about 1 minute and 38 seconds faster than their gender and age cut-offs in order to gain admission into the race. Although some 36,000 runners were registered for the 2014 race, only about 68% of those runners had qualifying times.
The field size for the 2015 Boston Marathon is important to me because I feel like the bigger the field, the greater chance I have of squeaking into the race with my slow-ish qualifying time. In recent years, there were only 27,000 spots available per year, with about 82% of those going to qualifiers.

With 30,000 spots open for 2015, it sounds like there will be more opportunities for qualifiers to register, and hopefully the ratio of qualifiers to non-qualifiers will revert to pre-2014 numbers. My optimism is bolstered by some statements the marathon’s race director made earlier this year about his desire to accommodate all qualifiers.

So, fingers crossed! Registration for the 2015 Boston Marathon opens September 8, and those “squeakers” with qualifying times that are within 5 minutes of their cut-offs (like me) can’t attempt to register until September 14.

Have a wonderful weekend and make your own good news!

What’s your good news from this week?

On the Race Horizon: The SeaWheeze Half-Marathon

If you’ve read my blog during the last couple of months, you know I strained my hip flexor a few weeks after the Newport Marathon, and have been rehabbing from that injury and slowing rebuilding my mileage-base. After a few weeks of rest and 6 weeks of physical therapy, I’m feeling pretty good… or at least good enough to run shorter distances at a leisurely pace. Good enough to run a half marathon, though?

Next Saturday, August 23, I will run the SeaWheeze, Lululemon’s half marathon in Vancouver, BC.

IMG_4261.JPGI’m running it with my husband and friends as part of my birthday celebration weekend.

IMG_4259.JPGWhen I registered for it in January, I had no doubt I would be able to run it. I thought that by late August I would be in the thick of training for the Portland Marathon, and that running 13.1 miles would be a good long run for a recovery week in between weeks where I was running 18- and 20-mile long runs.

As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

I’m no longer training for the Portland Marathon, and–less than 10 days out from August 23–the thought of running a half intimidates the hell out of me. The longest I’ve run since Newport on May 31 is 8 miles.

IMG_4091.JPGAnd that was last Saturday.

My weekly mileage is also pretty low compared to what I’m used to running. Last week was my best week since June, and I ran just shy of 20 miles.

One oft-repeated rule of running is that a runner shouldn’t add more than 10% in mileage per week. So, if I follow that advice in an effort to keep this good, relatively uninjured feeling going, I shouldn’t increase my weekly mileage by more than a measly 2 miles.

I may come to regret this, but that’s not gonna happen. This coming weekend I’m planning to run an 11-miler, which means this week’s long run alone will break the 10% rule.

Still, I’m going to keep my long run relatively easy (read: slow) and avoid some of the larger hills around Tacoma to avoid aggravating my hip flexor. My hope is that I’ll be able to run 11 miles without hurting myself so that I can make it to the start line next week.

IMG_4254.JPG

I have never been this ill-prepared for a half marathon.

I figure if I can run 11 miles now, though, I should be able to run 13.1 on August 23. It won’t be pretty and it won’t be fast, but I should be able to run the whole thing without injuring myself.

I don’t have a very good record with this race to begin with, so I don’t have much to lose. I PW’ed at the inaugural running in 2012, when the weather was hot as sin and the race wasn’t adequately supported (not enough water). I still managed to finish, though.

IMG_4262.JPG

IMG_4260.JPGI also PW’ed in 2013, when I ran it as a long run while training for the New York City Marathon.

IMG_4253.JPGSee how much fun a PW looks like at Mile 13? And don’t worry–I don’t plan to wear that unsupportive sports bra ever again.

Despite my lack of training and the fact that I’m more than a little freaked out by the thought of running a half in less than 10 days, I’m actually kind of excited for the SeaWheeze. This girl needs to run a race!

Do you train for half marathons or just run them? Do you set a goal for every race? Do you feel more accomplished when you meet pace-related or non-pace-related goals?

Weekend Update: Movies, Wine, & Running

Happy Monday!

Today I’m linking up again with Tara at Running ‘N’ Reading for a weekend update.

IMG_0154.JPG

I had another busy weekend and thought I’d share the highlights with y’all.

My weekend’s greatest hits:

Watching another outdoor movie at our friends’ house.

IMG_0142.JPGWe started out watching and episode of “The Little Rascals,” which delighted/perplexed the kids. The featured attraction was “10 Things I Hate about You.”

IMG_0143.JPGOur hosts chose to screen it because the majority of it was filmed in Tacoma, including at castle-like Stadium High School. Most of the adults had seen it but we had apparently forgotten about all of the inappropriate words and situations in the movie. Whoops! Oh well; the little girls were bored by “10 Things” and abandoned it midway in order to play.

I ran 8 miles!

IMG_0150.JPGAimee and I ran a slow 8-miler, but who cares! I ran the farthest I’ve run since I was in Bend in late June, and my hip didn’t hurt during or following the run. Yippee!

IMG_0149.JPGWe also were fortunate enough to get a little up-close and personal with a Blue Heron during our run.

The Stadium Art & Wine Walk.

IMG_0144.JPGMy cousin was visiting from California, and her boyfriend came up with the idea for us to participate in this event, which took place in the Stadium District, the charming business district named for Stadium High School (from “10 Things”). We tasted wine and took in some art and culture (and cool vintage cars) at multiple local businesses throughout the neighborhood.

IMG_0145.JPGDuring the event, I noticed that the mural at Shake Shake Shake, my favorite burger joint in town, portrays a childhood neighbor of mine, Mr. Wahlgren, who owned (now closed) Wahlgren Florists until the early or mid-90s, and who passed away several years ago. That’s him on the right with the bald pate and glasses. I found his inclusion in the mural remarkable, especially because it portrayed him as a younger man in the 1960s, and not as the elderly man I remember from my youth.

IMG_0146.JPGAlso cool? This bizarre portrait of Kristen Wiig as Doonese from SNL. (Note the doll hand.) We’re big SNL fans in our household, so I thought this was pretty damn hilarious.

This:

IMG_0151.JPGYumm Sauce! Aimee brought it back for me from Eugene and I’ve already eaten 2 meals with it. Can you say obsessed? Pro Tip: Yumm Sauce works wonders on Chipotle’s burrito bowls.

The mile I ran with my family.

IMG_0152.JPGOn Sunday morning, I convinced the kids and my husband to go for a short run. We had a blast and I was very impressed by my daughter’s ability to pace. She’s matured considerably since last March, when she bolted at the start of the St. Paddy’s Day Dash and flamed out halfway through the race. Today she had enough energy towards the end of our run to tackle some stairs and jog up a hill.

IMG_0153-0.JPGMy son sprinted at the start and couldn’t keep his pace, but he still enjoyed the run. I would love to have these family runs become a regular thing.

Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.”

IMG_0157.JPGIf I was a movie reviewer, that would be my review. Simple, yet elegant, right? Okay, so it’s only slightly more articulate than what a caveman would say, but you get the idea. “Boyhood” is a terrific, groundbreaking movie. If you haven’t been waiting for its release for months like I have, or watched the tearjerking trailer multiple times as I have, then you may not have heard that it was filmed over 12 years and that it uses the same primary actors throughout. You get to watch the protagonist age from a boy of 6 or 7 to a young man. “Boyhood” has received universally positive reviews and it totally lived up to the hype. And it makes me want to be a better mom, wife, daughter, friend, and person, and try to enjoy every day I have on this earth. Even the shitty ones. That, my friends, is a powerful movie.

What was your favorite thing from this past weekend?

Friday Five Link-Up: Race Memories Under The Influence

Happy Friday, lovahs!

I’m a little woozy right now having just returned home from a medical procedure, and have a fair amount of meds in my system, so please forgive me if I seem a little different or start describing seeing lavender sliding down rainbows into my front yard.

The meds restrict me from going to work because I can’t drive and I’m not supposed to sign any legal documents for the next 12 hours, which means I probably shouldn’t also give legal advice while I’m still intoxicated.

Even though I’m loopy, I didn’t want another day to pass without blogging, as my goal is to blog at least three times per week. Today I’m linking-up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC and her buds Mar of Mar on the Run and Cynthia of You Signed up for What?!?.

IMG_0139.JPG
I know–I was a link-up virgin until this Monday, and now this is my second link-up this week! But what can I say? This blogging-community-building thing is infectious.

This week’s Friday Five theme is Favorite Race Memories. Here are mine (in no particular order):

1. Running my first half-marathon, the 2011 BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon.
I had started running about 9 months earlier, didn’t know what to expect, and had no time goals. My vague understanding at that point was that running a sub-2:00 half was a common goal for runners. While I thought it would be awesome if I could do that, I didn’t set it as a goal. I just wanted to finish in one piece. I ended up running the race faster than I expected, and was cruising on endorphins from Mile 2 until probably Mile 11. No joke. The weather was perfect–sunny and dry, which is kind of unusual for British Columbia in early May. The crowds were unexpectedly supportive–like I said, I didn’t know what to expect, and there were decent crowds of spectators with signs. I think I read every sign because I’d never seem signs in a race before. It was an incredibly fun race and it totally hooked me to run more. Extra bonus: I ran a 1:49:02, which shocked the hell out of me.

IMG_0135.JPGWe celebrated pretty enthusiastically post-race.

2. Running my first marathon, the 2011 Portland Marathon, with my friend M.
M and I had trained together and I was concerned about how prepared I was for the race after getting sick and developing an ankle issue 3 weeks before the race. We decided to run one mile, then walk on minute, then run another mile, then walk a minute, and so on and so on until the end of the race. The race was a hoot, for the most part. We ran at a conversational pace the whole time (that is, when we weren’t walking) and I ate half of my weight in the gummy bears handed out on the course. Although I experienced a terrible side stitch around Mile 22, M kept me plugging along and we crossed the finish line together.

3. Running a sub-1:00 at the 2012 Sound to Narrows.

IMG_0136.JPGThe Sound to Narrows is a local racing tradition: 12 kilometers of hills, hills, and more hills around and in Tacoma’s crown jewel, Point Defiance Park. The race started in 1973 and I grew up going to Sound to Narrows parties put on by family friends. Before I started running, I decided I would run it in less than an hour, which is the prevailing opinion of a “good” time for a female runner. The race is brutal, though. It’s a majority uphill course, and the only significant downhill is at the very start of the race, which often leads to people going out too quickly and then crashing midway through the course. It’s not long enough (like a half marathon) to make up for pacing mistakes, but it’s too long to gut out like a 5K. I ran it in 2011 and came in around 1:02. In 2012, I met my goal by running it in 59:52. I will never run it again. I would rather run a holy half-marathon like the Seattle Marathon than the Sound to Narrows; I just can’t enjoy this race.

4. Running the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.
I was coming off an injury that allowed me only 10 weeks to train for the NYCM, for which I had been miraculously selected through the lottery system. Everything about this race felt special and momentous–from finding a way from my hotel in Murray Hill to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan, to taking the ferry and chatting with fellow runner, to taking the buses to the staging area, to waiting in my start village and talking with some international runners, to waiting in my corral as we heard the cannons sound as the first wave started the race, to to hearing “New York, New York” play as I ran (or, actually, shuffled) across the start line, to the actual race itself. What can be said about the NYCM that hasn’t been said already? The course is legendary–running across the Verazzano Bridge, through multiple diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn, through a corner of Queens, up and over the Queensboro Bridge, up 1st Avenue in Manhattan through Spanish Harlem and a tiny part of the Bronx, through Harlem, and back into Manhattan down 5th Avenue and into Central Park. The crowds were incredible and cheered for me as if I was a world-famous elite runner or their family member. The NYCM wasn’t just a race, it was an experience of a lifetime.

5. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the 2014 Newport Marathon.
As I crossed the finish line at Newport last May, the clock read about 1 minute over the qualifying cut-off time for my age group (3:45:00). My Garmin’s time wasn’t accurate because I’d forgotten to start it until I was a couple block lengths past the start line. So I had no idea whether or not I qualified for Boston. My husband and kids swarmed me after I crossed the finish line and my husband was really sweet as he raved about how strong and fast I looked out there. I was totally preoccupied with finding out my time. My finish was too recent for my time to be posted on a finish-area board containing faster times. Fortunately, we found a man sitting at a desk with a laptop and he gave me my time after reading my bib. “Great job! You ran it in 3:44!” Well, actually, it was 3:44:33 according to the paper slip he gave me, but upon hearing and seeing this, I jumped up and down and squealed and hugged my husband, coach, and kids. I was beyond thrilled. Beyond. All that training and gutting it out through a tough race had been worth it; I’d qualified for the Boston Marathon!

IMG_0137.JPG

What are your favorite race memories?