Tag Archives: running

Race Report // Portland Marathon 2014

Oh Portland, how I love thee.  On a sunny day, you are my city – the place I could move in a heartbeat and feel like I was home. Your coffee, music scene and population of runners remind me of this every time I visit. So why did you have to hurt me so? Apparently, Sunday, October 5 was just not my day to run a marathon.

Let’s back up a couple days to Thursday, October 2.  I had just bathed the kids and was upstairs draining the bathtub and doing a load of laundry, when I hear my husband telling the kids, “Go get mommy! Go get mommy!” As I’m coming down the stairs, all I can see are their naked bodies backing up towards the front door, their eyes widening while looking down at the ground, and panic on their faces. All I remember thinking is “you can’t go outside – you’re naked and it’s too cold!” But the gushing water coming out of the toilet wasn’t stopping.

Yes, our main floor with our kitchen, dining and family room flooded when the toilet in the powder room next to the kitchen started overflowing with water.  And would not stop.  No one flushed, it just so happened that it was a blocked sewer pipe in the front yard that had finally had it and wasn’t going to let any water through. So the bath water went down and came back out the toilet. And went all over our floor. And through the floor into our newly carpeted basement. Ugh.

Time for a reconfiguration of the weekend, if you will. After a long night with the plumber and calming the kids, we packed up on Friday leaving my husband to demo the damaged parts of the house, while the kids and I drove to Salem to stay with my parents. I was a little stressed and could feel it winding its way through my core, but I was trying so hard not to let it get to me.  My friends were running in Portland with me, and I was so excited for the race this year.

Saturday we headed up to OMSI so the kids could have a little fun. We probably would have been better off riding the OHSU tram, given all they wanted to do at OMSI was ride the elevator.  Most of the exhibits weren’t really age appropriate, and if they were, they were occupied or broken. Oh well. Next time.  We ate lunch and my parents took the kids back to Salem for a little ride on the carousel – which is ALWAYS age appropriate.

Checking out bones at OMSI.

Checking out bones at OMSI.

I stayed in PDX, checked into my hotel, and finally met up with my friends, Rainie, Kristen and Glenn at the Marathon Expo. I was finally feeling a little less stressed and lighter on my feet. Truly happy to be in Portland on such a beautiful day.  We shopped, ate ice cream and got to join our former Cascade Lakes Relay teammates, Ed and Martin, for dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory that evening. Rainie, Glenn, Ed, Martin and I had all been in Van 2 of the relay this year – and had a wonderful time together.

Views of Portland from my room.

Views of Portland from my room.

That evening I relaxed in my hotel room by watching as much cable TV as I could soak up – and had complete control of the remote.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I had control of a remote. I also laid out all my gear and food for the next morning. Had to make sure I remembered everything, because I was all alone – no one to help me remember to pin my bib on.

Ready to run.

Ready to run.

Race morning came quickly, but after 12 of these, I am finally getting the hang of them.  I put on my gear, made sure everything was tied, packed, pinned, and secured with rubber bands (pony tails), then quickly ate a bar and an apple. A Japanese runner who shared the elevator with me was quick to take off and run his warm up after leaving the lobby.  I jogged a bit and my legs felt good, so I walked the rest of the way to my corral.

Soon we were off, and the sun was up.  The drums from the marching band overtook downtown as we ran by in the early hours – one of my parts of the Portland Marathon.  I started off with the 3:40 pace group, and was feeling good – even pulled ahead of them for a while.  But too soon, I started to feel like I was working too hard. I was sweating too, which meant it was humid. Not good.

Around mile two, I passed Ed and Martin cheering us on from Waterfront Park – so great to see familiar faces.  I ended up seeing them again at miles 17 and 26. They were such an amazing support team. Throughout the first half, especially the out and back section of the course, I was feeling like I needed fuel. Unfortunately, I was taking it and not feeling any better.  I made the mistake of trying something new and wearing two sports bras (extra support, which I really didn’t need), and was struggling to breath deep enough.  I popped in a porta john around mile 11 and took one off, thinking it would help. It didn’t.

I then got a uni-side stitch, meaning it surrounded my core.  And it didn’t go away.  Through the half way point at 1:49:50, I knew if I didn’t get a second wind, things weren’t going to go well.  I had the strength, but really needed something to kick me into another gear.  My stomach also wasn’t handling things super well.  At this point, I’m not sure if it was the Ultima they were handing out on the course, but it was the only thing I did differently.

On the way out to the St. John’s bridge I was suffering.  Desperately looking for any aid stations I could find that would offer water or electrolytes.  Fortunately, I ran into my friend and running partner, Glenn.  I informed him that this just wasn’t my day and to go ahead.  But it was sure good to see a familiar face.  That is a tough stretch to go alone.  Finally it was up to the bridge. While I ran up to the top, going across the sun hit me and I had to stop and walk. This is my favorite part of the course so I didn’t mind soaking in the views.

St. Johns Bridge

St. Johns Bridge

Over the next stretch, my body was just not coping well with the heat and direct sun. I tried GU and water, but never got the extra kick I needed from the caffeine in my gel. I continued to struggle with an upset stomach, side stitches and an uncomfortable fatigue from the heat. I even stopped at the beer aid station around mile 23 to see if that would settle my stomach. Couldn’t hurt at this point.  And I must say, it wasn’t bad.  Finally, after making it over the bridge, I was able to cruise in on almost all four cylinders, all the way to the finish. Finally, it was over. 4:06:18 is my slowest time in years. Number 13 was definitely an unlucky one for me.

Finished. Happy to be headed home.

Finished. Happy to be headed home.

Fortunately, I am feeling good. I am convinced that it was a combination of stress, heat/humidity and maybe making the mistake of drinking Ultima. I had run the Sunriver Marathon a month prior and felt great.  Heck, I felt great up until we started. But life happens.  I used to plan an entire year around one marathon hoping that I wouldn’t get sick or injured on, or before the event.  Now I’ve gotten wiser and have decided that running two or three marathons a year is a much better plan.  Life’s too short.

My friend Rainie ran her very first marathon that day, and had a GREAT experience. That’s really all you can ask for, right? Coaching a friend to find the love of marathoning? Made it all worth it.

So guess where I’ll be next year in October?  In Portland, ready to run and have a much more fulfilling experience than last year.

I love you, Portland. And I’ll be back again next year.

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Cascade Lakes Relay 2014: Race Report

My brain and body are still a bit rummy (pun intended – keep reading), but I am slowly recovering from last weekend’s relay. I ran with the same team as last year – We Thought They Said Rum – but in a different van.  The difference between the two includes new legs and different running/rest times.  Basically, you’re on when Van 1 is off.

Van 2 "We Thought They Said Rum": Martin, Jen, Amy, Rainie, Glenn, Kathy

Van 2 “We Thought They Said Rum”: Martin, Jen, Amy, Rainie, Glenn, Kathy

Our adventure began on Friday morning.  While runners from Van 1 were off and running at 7:20am, Van 2 was loading up gear, eating a quick bagel breakfast and traveling south to Exchange #6 – about a two hour drive. Members in Van 2 included two of my teammates from Van 1 last year, two teammates from last year’s Van 2 and “Jeeves” or “Maude The Motorhome’s driver” whom we got to know well during our rest periods in 2013. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for better Van mates.

Our first runner hit the road running at approximately 3pm. Instant support mode set in, and we stopped ahead during each leg to offer water or whatever our runner might need. The weather was hot and muggy, but soon cooled down with the evening hours approaching.  With a red ball dropping out of the sky, dusk turned to night and our van was headed back to La Pine High School for a quick bite and a couple hours of sleep.  My first leg was approximately seven miles, and while there were a couple of hills, the rest of the route was a fast one. I was happy I met my estimated goal of running 8:30/mile.

We devoured our BBQ’d chicken prepared by “Jeeves” (most of us know him as Ed), who greeted us with a smile and warm hug.  While some of us elected to shower, all of us hit the hay to try and get a bit of shut-eye.  Unfortunately, my mind could not rest and therefore I did not find sleep mode.  We were up again just a mere two hours later – on the road with full bellies and a bit of rest to tide us over.

Our second set of legs was a stretch from the depths of the woods to La Pine.  Our first runner, Glenn, was decorated in bright lights for a “rave run” competition and continued his rave run -lights, music and all- for the first three miles. Surprisingly, he only ditched a few of the lights during his 8.5 mile leg. As the sky began to get lighter, all of us woke up (with a little help from coffee) and we were back in support/party mode. I say party mode, because at 6am on no sleep, you kind of get a little party going in your head and the adrenaline kicks in.  Our van had a seriously fun time with good tunes and great peeps.

This image doesn't do Glenn's lights justice.

This image doesn’t do Glenn’s lights justice.

Rainie Runs Her Heart Out

Rainie Runs Her Heart Out

On my 2nd leg, I once again ran at my estimated pace down to Elk Lake. I ticked off over 11 road kill (or passed 11 people, if you will), and felt strong to the exchange with Van 1.  It was definitely time to rest before we headed back out for our final legs, which meant a little free time at the lake.

Unfortunately, we were not welcomed at the Resort restaurant as graciously as we’d hoped. And the food we were offered for purchase was quite miserable. But beyond that, Elk Lake was calm and about as relaxing as you can get.  We cooled off our tired muscles in the water, *tried* to nap, and enjoyed the reprieve from the relay chaos.  Only a couple hours later, it was “Finish Line or Die” time.

We departed the Resort (and Jeeves) with a “Farewell Until The Finish,” as I prepped for my uphill leg. I was runner #2 this time, and my leg was all uphill starting at 5450′ and traveling to 6350′ in 4 miles.  It was hot. 2pm in the afternoon. 80-some degrees. But I kept a steady pace and even passed people.  Starting with a nauseous stomach, I certainly was NOT in race mode, but with the support of my Van, I finished. And it felt good.  It was all downhill at this point in the relay, and we couldn’t be more excited.  Lots of great spirit in our van and FREE BEER from 10 Barrel Brewing Co. made our descent into Bend just that much better.

Martin for the photo bomb

Martin for the photo bomb

Finally, our last runner was on her way just as a rain/hail storm hit the Old Mill.  Not to worry as we were all able to crawl under tents. As the clouds parted, Jen crossed the bridge and made her way over the finish line.  What a wonderful ending to a truly fun adventure. CLR 2014 is a unique experience that is truly a “team” effort, and I’ve got memories I feel honored to be able share with all my van mates for years to come.

Favorite Memories from CLR 2014:

  • Watching the truck of firefighters pull up at the first van exchange with “Where our hose at?” scribbled on the side of their truck. And a keg in the back.
  • Getting “skittled” by another team (we left our van and came back to find dixie cups of skittles in our front seat.
  • Watching the “red ball” sunset
  • Hangin’ with my awesome van mates, and rockin’ out to Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”
  • Rainie’s commentary on the scene at La Pine HS
  • The Rave Run competition – lights, music and the DJ at the van exchange
  • Glenn’s “ultimate raver attitude”
  • Running on Cascade Lakes Highway and all the support from other vans, as well as my own
  • Candy orange slices
  • Free Beer
  • Entrada pool peeps laying on their chairs cheering for passing runners
  • A rainy/hail-infused finish line
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Enjoy it while you can. And then, be prepared.

A few weeks ago I experienced my first real “winter” run of the year.  And it was depressing.  Icy wind and spitting sleet turned me into an instant hater of all things winter-related. And I LOVE winter.  The truth was, I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for hats, gloves and layers of moisture-wicking clothing. I wasn’t ready to fight the battle of the bitter winds. And I wasn’t ready to see my breath exit my mouth in a white cloud. 

Last winter, I experienced my very first symptoms of frost bite – a swollen, red earlobe that didn’t return to it’s normal size for almost a week.  Heading out under-dressed on an early long run meant turning around too soon because of unbearable pain in my hands from sub freezing temps.  It’s pretty simple:  going outside in winter just means taking the time to prepare.  And in the past, I have failed miserably.  Many times. My number one goal this year is to be well-prepared most, if not all of the time.  That means stocking up on hand warmers, having adequate fuel, utilizing a hydration system that isn’t hand-held, and wearing lots and lots of layers.

Fortunately, for now, the weather has turned back to its beautiful, crisp self, as it always does in Central Oregon.  I am slowly adjusting to the colder temps, while embracing the dry, sun stricken trails of fall – running on them as much as possible before Old Man Winter decides to drop some doozies.

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A dark cloud above my favorite butte in Bend, OR.

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Race Report: 2013 Portland Marathon

Sometimes you just have to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, even if it means running 26.2 miles.  On Sunday, I was lucky enough to run the Portland Marathon for the 6th time. It came about as a last minute decision, and I certainly made the right one.

On September 1, I ran the Sunriver Marathon and didn’t have the race experience (or time) that I had hoped for. The race itself was wonderfully organized and the course was great, but my body couldn’t handle the hot temperatures. Fortunately, after completing three marathons since having my twins and not having an enjoyable experience during any of them, the 2013 Portland Marathon finally rekindled my love of running marathons.

My friend Cory was also running, so him and his wife Lisa picked me up early Saturday and off we went. We got to experience PDX in all its sunny glory as we picked up our packets at the downtown Hilton, ate lunch at Pizza Schmizza and enjoyed a few little last minute carbs at Saint Cupcake.  Then it was off to our friends’ house for a little R&R before the big day.

My goal for this marathon was literally to have a “feel good” race.  I would love to PR, but I had struck out on the “Feel Good Meter” a few times, and was starting to think childbirth sabotaged my long distance running career. So all I needed was to feel good throughout the duration of 26.2 miles, and I’d be happy. And many marathoners know, that’s not always an easy thing to pull off.

The pre-race weather was crisp and cool, with the sun rising to a blue sky.  Portland’s reputation for soggy weather was slowly fading as runners flooded the streets of downtown in the early morning light.  Cory and I had similar time goals, and found our way to the 3:40/3:45 pace groups. After a moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the national anthem, we were on our way.

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Amy & Cory – “Before”

I decided to follow the 3:40 pace group, and held on – even pulled ahead of them for a short time.  But short it was.  As we made our way out of the industrial section (an out and back at mile 10), I was starting to feel a little sluggish and that’s when I pulled out my first Roctain Gu.  The fuel helped me stay on pace as we cruised through the neighborhoods out to St. Helens, but I was still a bit behind the 3:40 group, and the gap seemed to be widening.  After I decided to stop at a port-a-potty the gap widened even more, and I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to close back in on them.  But I held my pace going up and over the St. Johns Bridge.  This is by far my favorite part of the course because of the views and the beautiful architecture of the bridge – amplified by the sun and blue sky.

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That’s me in the black visor, black tank, black/pink shorts and pink compression socks. Check out that bridge.

I continued to feel strong on the other side – high-fiving our support crew (Cory’s wife and our friends) as they cheered us on at mile 20. Soon it was down into the guts of the race where there is a lack of spectators and it’s just you and the pavement.  For the next few miles I was able to hold on and cruise the downhills, but by about mile 24 I was starting to feel the fatigue. Knowing that I usually feel this earlier in marathons, my spirits were high.  I knew I’d be finishing with a faster time than Sunriver, but had to dig deep during those last two miles.  I turned the corner at Salmon (counting down each block while running on the Naito Parkway – waiting for that damn fish sign is probably one of the hardest parts of the race for me), and the crowds were there – just as I remembered.  An older runner was ahead of me with #Boston Strong on his back, and the cheers erupted.  Such a great way to finish a race.  My time was 11 minutes faster than Sunriver, and 9 minutes away from my Boston Qualifying PR.  More importantly, I achieved my goal and felt great throughout the entire race.  No stomach distress or bonking, just pure happiness to be out running 26.2 miles.  I even managed to avoid any chaffing, blisters or “major soreness” – don’t get me wrong, my legs were quite tired – but the full body aches were avoided. Cory ended running a spectacular race, as well as a PR.

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Cory & Amy – “After”  

I truly enjoyed this marathon.  After feeling like I might never have another “good” 26.2 miles again, this is one I won’t soon forget. Thanks to my great friends Cory, Lisa, Ed and Martin, for their amazing support and hospitality.  You guys made the weekend.

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Lisa’s awesome signage was how I was able to spot them amidst all the spectators.

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Another marathon? Heck yeah.

There are two new blog posts in edit mode, and I can’t seem to finish either one. So I am writing a new one on a whim.  Because on Sunday, I’ll be running my second marathon in two months.  This is something I have never done, and I can’t wait.  After the Sunriver Marathon, I almost felt like it was “practice.”  A lot of hype and building anticipation left me feeling unsatisfied.  So much so that I was running just two days later – and feeling great.  So when the opportunity came to run another one, I jumped at it.  And here I sit, 3pm on a Friday, without a nervous bone in my body and an overwhelming desire to run a fantastic race. 

I’ll leave the details for the race report, but promise to keep a smile throughout 26.2 miles, run smart and have lots of fun. Life’s too short not to.

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My family and I at the pumpkin patch this past weekend – on my twins’ 4th birthday.

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Never Question a Runner

If you have ever watched the finish line of a marathon, you’ll see a lot of carnage.  Runners struggling those last few steps to reach the end of 26.2 miles. Strained faces, painful winces and arms raised in victory are just mere samples of body language spoken so often by marathoners. Dare ask an accomplished runner if they’ll attempt another marathon right after they’ve crossed the 26.2-mile finish, and you’ll get the anticipated answer, “never again.” But do not be deceived.  Because 20 minutes later, you can ask the same question and get a completely different answer.

Runners are a different breed.  We push ourselves 26.2 miles, 50K, 50 miles, 100K and 100 miles. Hours at a time. One foot in front of the other. Mentally wavering from mile to mile. And then we cross the finish line, and it’s over. And all those memories of struggle, perseverance, pain, weakness and instability disappear before we can say lactic acid.  For many of us, the wheels in our heads begin to spin, dreaming up the next big challenge.  Let’s try this again.  After my recent marathon, a friend reminded me that once I finished, I was quoted as saying, “remind me why I do these things.” She reminded me because I am currently planning on running another in less than a month.

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The Footzone Dirty Half Marathon in Bend, OR. Photo courtesy of Megan Ann Photography

My friend Cory just finished his first 50K last weekend.  The day after, he was searching for potential 50-mile races. There is no question that running takes both physical and mental strength.  As runners, we seek to push our body to it’s limit, and then some. And we keep doing it.  Because the feeling of accomplishment is one so gratifying, it’s hard to replicate. And so, we keep running.

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They Told Me To Get Over It

The above title is a line of one of my favorite songs by Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside.  And it is a great description of my childhood. When I was young, I ran because I wanted to. No one told me I had to run on the track team. I wasn’t pressured into running cross country.  Running was a sport I began on my own free will.  And there were definitely other activities I participated in where that was not the case.  While I always recognize my father as my biggest influence in running (he ran numerous road races and marathons during my childhood), I also recognize that running was my choice, and my choice alone.

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Amy running the 2008 Boston Marathon.

But the choice did not come without opposition.  I remember being invited to join the middle school cross country team by a male acquaintance. When I got cold feet and didn’t show up to the first meeting, he saw me in the hall and called me a Bitch.  There’s motivation for you.  Or the time I was running a local 5K the summer before my junior year. I had been seeing a guy I worked with who had just graduated, and was also a cross country runner.  “Maybe you just shouldn’t run,” he told me. I never forgot that. And I went out for the high school cross country team the month after.

What I like to believe is that with all the negative energy that crossed my path, I used it as my personal launch pad, if you will. Give me a negative, and I’ll turn it into a positive.  I wasn’t the best runner in high school or college.  But I continued to pursue my dream. A dream that began inside a little seven year-old girl and blossomed 19 years later as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. But that was just the beginning.  The person I became after my first marathon was the person I always knew I could be.  I finally had my first taste of success, and there was no going back.

Amy crossing the finish line of the 2008 Boston Marathon.

Amy crossing the finish line of the 2008 Boston Marathon.

I want to share that with all the girls and women who feel like people are standing in their way, telling them to give up. I want to tell my daughter that she can do anything she puts her mind to, and if she works hard, there is nothing she can’t do.

And to never, ever let anyone tell her to get over it.

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Running Relays for the Masses // Race Report – CLR 2013

Running relays are in a category all by themselves. They are different than running a 10K where as they usually involve more miles, take place over approximately 30 hours, and your part as an individual participant is often blurred into a large “cog” of runners working together as a team.  But that team is the strength, support and sacrifice you all depend on to get through approximately 200 miles of running.

My first relay experience was in 2001, up in Washington State.  A bunch of college alumni decided it would be fun if we ran from Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast.  I was excited – how hard could it be?  Running a few legs between three and nine miles each?  No problem. But I had never run one before, so what did I know?

When we began the first leg, our team consisted of five members (most teams were running with 11).  We had confirmation we’d be meeting two others along the way, at some point, but nothing is ever “for sure” and this was before cell phones were common. I ran my first leg, which was about seven miles, and I did not want to run again, any time soon.

We were fortunate to find those last two teammates – somehow – in the midst of relay chaos.  And the rest was history.  My memories of that day/night/morning include running past a casino in the middle of the night, almost hitting a dog who was loose at 3am (in a Jetta), the funny glow of the sky that isn’t quite dark-but the sun is no where close to appearing at 4am, running through quiet the coastal range with the sound of chainsaws in the distance early in the morning, crossing the finish line at the beach and feeling so incredibly sleep-deprived at the finish and only a curb to hold us up. With just a burger to fill our tummies, we headed home after what I might describe as a surreal experience.  But a fun one, at that.

This year, I was invited to participate in the Cascade Lakes Relay. I had never considered doing another relay since Rainier to Pacific back in 2001.  My focus had always been on my own races, and therein lies the significance.  After I confirmed I would be able to participate, I was genuinely excited to embark on this virtually unknown adventure.  Running on the back roads of South Central Oregon had an appeal that seemed oddly refreshing – a change from the road runs I had been used to, coupled with a team who would be supporting one another throughout each leg.

Our arrival at Diamond Lake Resort the evening before the start of the relay was relaxing – just as seven people (six plus one support crew member) continued to make small talk and get to know one another as the sun set and the campfire burned bright.  Soon enough it was time for sleep – of which we all got none – and alarms soon chimed at 5am.  Our first runner was off at 6, and away we went.  Runners passed, we cheered, chatted and continued on in our van until our first six legs were over.  Seemed quick enough with a nice, long break at a park in the middle of a sleepy Southern Oregon town.  Sleep evaded me, as I am not one to sleep outside in the middle of the afternoon, and soon enough it was time to run again.  This time the sun was setting as our first runner pounded the gravel through the fields of cows. He had injured himself on the first leg, and so I gladly stepped in to help finish his second leg.  Night slowly fell as van after van and runner after runner became a flurry of red tail lights and reflective figures bouncing ever so steadily. My second leg ran along forest roads populated only by said vans and runners, but also kind individuals on tame horses who “watched over the night” as we ran past. This is where I failed to think intelligently, and did not dress warm enough – so after my leg my body began to shut down as my core temperature dropped.  It took a good two hours in a sleeping bag (since a hot shower was not available) for it to get back up to normal.

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We Thought They Said Rum – Van 1 (Nick, Amy, Cory, Glenn, Ed & Kathy)

Our night drive was dead silent after our exchange with Van 2. Mad props to our driver and co-captain who kept his eyes open for that long, half hour drive to our next area of rest.  One hour of sleep later, and it was off and running once again.  And while I was typically the fifth runner, I ran first that morning due to our first runner being injured.  An early six miles for me – and a lack of fuel – but I survived.  My final  leg included donning a costume – as it was relay’s official “costume leg.” Two miles of wearing a heavy, Pointer Sisters-style wig on my head was all worth it, as I was done.  WE were done. Van 2 was now in charge of bringing us to the Finish Line.  A quick shower and reunion with my family was in store.

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Amy as Diana Ross / Pointer Sister #4

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Cory passes off to Nick onto his first leg.

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We Thought They Said Rum Vans 1 & 2 meet up for their first major exchange.

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Glenn passes off to Amy onto her first leg.

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We Thought They Said Rum at the Finish Line.

As my van dropped me off at my house – it was a simple, yet physically / emotionally hard departure as I had been traveling with these people for over 24 hours straight.  In fact, it was almost 48 hours.  We had been working together as a team, and now it was over.  The bond you create with your Van is one that I had really never experienced.  Each team member worked and ran as hard as they could, to get us through the relay.  We all worked hard together.  I must have exhausted my family and friends with my continuous chatter about what a great time I had running in the Cascade Lakes Relay.  How much fun my teammates were – how I am planning more runs with them because they are just a great bunch of people.

When I was unable to run a marathon in June, due to illness, I could have never imagined that my frustration (and in turn, desire to run every race possible), would lead me to this awesome experience.  The Cascade Lakes Relay was just what I needed to pull my head out of the sand, and become a happy runner once again.

I am looking forward to running my 10th marathon next weekend (avoiding illness at all costs, KNOCK ON WOOD), thanks to the Cascade Lakes Relay and my wonderful, awesome and amazing “We Thought They Said Rum” teammates. XO.

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Why I Love Boston

I am not from Boston. In fact, my first time visiting Beantown wasn’t until 2008. But I have been in love with Boston for as long as I can remember. My dad began running marathons in the early 80’s, and qualified to run the 1988 Boston Marathon. The impact of his accomplishment affected me in ways I wouldn’t realize until much later in life. I was only 12 at the time, but Boston, and the Marathon, always lingered in the back of my mind. At that time, besides the Olympics, running the Boston Marathon was the ultimate achievement.

20 years after my dad ran the Boston Marathon, I finally earned my ticket.  That’s truly how I felt. I earned my ticket to Boston by running a qualifying time in the 2007 Portland Marathon. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and my entire family came along to celebrate.  My dream had come true. I even planned an appointment with a tattoo artist in Boston to commemorate my achievement.  This was a big deal, and I wasn’t about to forget how hard I worked to get there.

From the moment we stepped off the plane, Boston did not disappoint. South Boston, the North End, Cambridge, Jamaica Plains and Fenway Park. For four days, we experienced the energy, history and culture of a city that loves their marathon just as much as they love their baseball team, if not more (if that’s possible). And with every step, through every town from Hopkinton to downtown Boston, I realized that I had come to love Boston that much more.

But I am not the only one. Every year, people work for months to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon, running hundreds of miles.  Some may qualify, but many won’t.  That means they will have to devote another 4 months to training so they can try again. 26.2 miles is a daunting distance for most to just finish. But marathoners are a dedicated group of athletes, and crossing the finish line is one of the most amazing feelings in the world.  One of those, “I can do anything” feelings.And that’s why they keep running.

To think of all those who lost their lives today, at a place that is so sacred and so loved, makes me sad, angry and disheartened. To think of all those who had to suffer, hurt and witness so much pain today makes me angry. And to think of those who worked so hard to get to the Boston Marathon only to have been turned away at the finish line, or worse, injured at the finish line makes my heart drop. All I know, is that Boston will rally and surround their marathon runners with love and comfort. Boston will keep their runners and spectators safe and do what it takes to prevent them from harm. Next year, the marathoners will be back in full force. Because this is Boston. And Boston’s heart is wicked huge.

Boston 246

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Early Riser

Now that my kids have been consistently sleeping through the night (knock on wood), I have also been getting quality sleep. Which means getting up early is a little easier these days.  I can also train for my marathon in the morning before my family starts their day.  Mind you, this includes a 4:45 a.m. alarm, as well as navigating pitch black sidewalks and streets (I took some nice air off an invisible curb this morning, even though I was donning a headlamp), but having one more hour in the day to do my other favorite thing – writing, makes it all worth while. Alas, there are some other benefits to running in the morning.

I was able to look up at a vast array of stars – a view I haven’t seen for a long, long time. The world is so quiet and peaceful, and there’s a special feeling that comes with being awake when most people are sleeping. While I am cautious and much more aware of my surroundings (since I can’t see much of them) at 5am, I am also aware of how beautiful the world is when there are fewer distractions.

Perhaps the best part is getting home and walking in the door, pouring a cup of coffee and knowing that the day has only begun.

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