Running shirts

If you’ve been running for awhile, you have undoubtedly racked up a number of running-related shirts, probably mostly from races. There is such a thing as too much of anything, and I normally would apply that statement to these shirts…but when you work at a running store and they become your work attire, then it’s really best to just keep ’em coming.

I got to add two shirts to the collection this week, so I thought I would share pictures of some of the best running-related shirts I have….

1. The Buns Shirt

My aunt gave me this cotton Nike tee when she was cleaning out her house. It hardly needs an explanation. Ironically, I have trouble finding appropriate places to wear it besides work:

2. The kick butt shirt

I think I’ve only worn this a few times, only because I overthink everything and wonder if people will misjudge me for whatever reason. A good friend of mine bought it for me at a Nike outlet in California, which was a nice surprise gift!

3. The Transcend shirt

I got this shirt from a table with a “FREE SHIRTS” sign at Camp Brooks in Seattle. I guess they jumped the gun on the release date for this one…and likewise its promo shirt. A good deal for me!

4. The Pre shirt

This week’s new addition! A race director I know who attended the Saucony run brought it for me as a birthday present. It’s a replica of one of the singlets Steve Prefontaine raced in (he presumably traded with a Northern Italian track club). Pretty sweet.

(What I really should do is take a fake running still of me wearing it...oh well.)

(What I really should do is take a fake running still of me wearing it…oh well.)

5. The Hood to Coast LEG SEVEN shirt

My other new shirt! Because I loved Leslie’s “2LEGIT2QUIT” HTC shirt, I ordered one from Portland Running Company and finally  received it in the mail Friday!

3htc

6. The 5k swim shirt

Yeah, I did a 5k swim once (last August), around an island. I’ll have to write about it sometime. For now, here’s the shirt.

7. The Yurbuds shirt

I got a lot of random swag at the Boston 2012 expo, and it included this. I’m not sure why but it’s super comfy to sleep in.

8. The Paul Short shirts

Typical race tees, I know, but what you may not know is that every year, these shirts are a big deal. There are lots of patterns and colors, and you need to get to the tent early to buy yours! Left: long sleeve from 2009, right: short sleeve from 2010. It’s my favorite color gray, I wanted to go classic that time. (Megan what colors do you have?!)

9. The NYCM ’12 shirts

Shirts from the marathon that never happened…enough said. (I was just working the expo.)

nycshirts

10. The New Balance apple shirt

I got this somehow at work a couple years ago. I’m not even sure what the New York Relays are…a high school meet at the Armory, I assume. It’s ridiculously soft. I wish I had worn it less initially so it still actually looked white enough to wear [more] in public….

11. The shirt with way too many words

Another one from my aunt…taking motivational quotes to a new level. I haven’t worn this yet despite it fitting nicely, but if you’re looking for inspiration or something, here you go….

12. The Hood to Coast shirt

Well, duh.

13. The Saucony Find Your Strong shirt

It’s pretty. I like it.

14. The BOSTON shirt

I bought this at the 2012 Boston expo, because I wanted a souvenir that didn’t shout “I ran Boston 2012” since I didn’t. I probably wear this more often than any other cotton shirt to work. That skyline just matches so many different shoes….

15. The “just warming up” shirt

This was a shirt from a really fun spring all-girls’ track meet in high school. There were always awesome sayings on the backs…I wish I had them all with me here so I could share them. This was my first one; it’s a shame it’s too big though.

16. The fast girls shirt

Saving the best for last (although the first may be the best – up for debate)…the shirt from the same meet the following year (and my 5k track PR) said the following on the back:

The reason I don’t have a picture of the shirt (it’s one of my favorites ever, but mostly because of the sentimental value) is because it has been kidnapped from my wardrobe for at least the time being…by a guy. At least he is enjoying it (but I swear, if it gets lost or bleach-stained…there will be consequences).

Do you have any fun running-related shirts, from races or not? What’s your favorite?

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running is so much freaking fun

…so you’re probably seeing the title of this post, and going through the following thought process:

1. Uh oh, is this sarcas-oh wait, Meghan doesn’t speak that language, it can’t be.

2. Then she’s serious. What a lame title…

3. Blame a runner’s high. Yeah, that sounds about right.

It’s more about how I feel right now regarding running than what this post is actually about. Just roll with it….

I had a sub-par birthday weekend. Oh well. It happens. It included a strangely upsetting case of race envy over the RnR Philly Half, a 37-mile solo bike ride (and a narrow escape from sunset), the onset of fall/cold/S.A.D., and studying. BUT I did get to indulge in a wonderful eleven miler Sunday morning on both roads and trails. What I learned: 7:18 is the new 7:38. What does this mean? Well, I used to finish long runs strong when I was running about 7:37 pace. Now I’ve been finishing up around 7:18 pace, and I feel the exact same, if not better. I feel invincible. Like, bring on Boston. Tomorrow. Now. Let’s do this. I almost contemplated switching my entry in the Philly Half (not to be confused with RnR Philly) to the full, just because I enjoyed that 7:18-7:38 cruise pace so much. I came back down to earth when I realized a.) I’m only up to 11 miles, and I should be up to 17 if I were to do that, and b.) have some patience! My gosh! More on this later. Basically, I felt extremely confident and on top of the world. Running is so much freaking fun like that.

Some sites I passed through on my run.

Some sites (sights? Up for debate…) I passed through on my run.

Fastest yet

Tuesday’s interval workout began in fear, as my right quad/hip flexor which had worried me all week felt very off during my warmup. But, the feeling ended up subsiding a little throughout the workout, which was really relieving to me. The weather was great (tank top + compression socks weather! Practically freezing!), and I managed to click off ten hill loops faster than I’ve ever done at that workout location (it’s basically a 0.4-mile block with an incline for about half of it). I had a strange experience in which my legs didn’t even feel like mine. They were just moving, and I was following suit. I’ll take it.

One of the sharper turns of the hill loop. Almost bang into that short stop sign every time.

One of the sharper turns of the hill loop. Almost bang into that short stop sign every time.

Saucony group run

Thursday night was another group run from the store with Saucony! I should really do a separate post focusing on my review of the Mirage 3, which is the shoe I chose to test-run, but I think I can summarize it pretty well here. First, I did not notice the 4mm heel (versus a higher relative heel). I felt like I didn’t need to change my stride at all. Sometimes, I think this is skewed because I always run with a big group of people on group runs…I would think more about the shoes if I were running alone and not talking, that is. Either way, I didn’t notice much of anything different, which is a good thing. The width was absolutely perfect as well. I would definitely run in this shoe again, and I’m really glad I got to try them on a run of substantial length! I led our sub-group (two reps, three other guys, and me) toward some trails which spit out onto other roads that consisted of a huge downhill and a small uphill, mostly. We were running around 7:30s until the woods, slowed down naturally on the trails, and then booked it once we were on the roads again. I was chasing the pack running around 7:05-7:10 pace, after a 6:47 downhill mile. And actually, I was okay with it. Normally I would be against running so fast on a normal run, but I was chatting and I felt pretty good, so I went with it. If I could…why not? As an aside, new post-run brews: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale and Troegs HopBack Amber Ale. No pumpkins were refrigerated yet (grr)! Thirsty Thursday Funday Runday: good to have you back.

By the way, the evening began with this…what a great challenge! Definitely made for a few hard laughs pre-run:

Try it before you knock it....

Try it before you knock it….

Shoenerd visit + spontaneous sprinkler run

Today at work I visited a local pharmaceutical company with my coworker for their “Run at Work Day.” Employees were encouraged to walk or run a 0.68-mile, 1.06-mile, or 1.68-mile route during their lunch break. The table next to us featured a raffle for a free healthy lunch for a week at work, and we set up a sampling of our products and offered gait analysis and such. It was a beautiful day, very warm and sunny, and lots of people came out to participate. All was well and good until a guy came up to us intentionally to stir the pot. There was no one else to talk to at the time, so I went along with it, but seriously dude, your defense against your two-year-old Nike Frees as you overpronate down the driveway plus your clearly inept knowledge about strength training given your noticeably muscularly unbalanced and stiff upper body does not make me want to discuss running with you…especially when you  tell me to my face you are “calling BS.” On my opinions. Real cool. And yes, he did drop the Born to Run line <end anti-gym-rat vent session>.

What was my point? Oh, all the people running and walking plus my legs feeling great after yesterday’s run plus the good weather made me want to run again today! I realized I did have clothes with me…I may have worn some of them the day before…but once I was sweating would that really matter (shh…I never do this!)? So, upon my return to actual work, I took a few seconds to convince Steve that running in last night’s running clothes was cool (phew, I wasn’t alone) and that it was a perfect time for an easy four miles. And so we went. It was a fun little midday frolic to Greenway Meadows, through some awesome sprinklers, and on part of a little cut-through trail. Runch = success. 

Greenway Meadows. This photo was actually from a PI workout last month.

Greenway Meadows. This photo was actually from a PI workout last month.

And hence the runner’s high continued, and all of this leaves me with:

fun

 

Mountain run, thousands, Nolcha Fashion Week, & other random things

Rather than write lots of separate posts, all published within an hour of each other, I think it would be more worthwhile to round up the past fast-paced and busy week in one post! September has indeed started fast from the gun, and there is plenty to write about already.

Sunday: we meet again, mountain

P1060070 baldpate mountain sign_0I mentioned in my last post that I revisited my former weekly long run spot. The route involves running up “the mountain.” Compared to some of the elevations I surely witnessed in the Pacific Northwest, this is not exactly a “mountain.” But, as I like to say, if it has a name, it can be considered a mountain. So, it’s a mountain if I say so. It was a nice, humid run up Baldpate Mountain, 10.00 miles even. It was my first time running up there with a Garmin, which was fun to analyze later. The view at the top was clear that morning, and I could see for miles across the river into Pennsylvania. (Side story: for years in college, I would say how I wanted to go on a picnic-date up there, and I finally did two years ago…except we missed the sunset due to an impromptu dog rescue, so it was very dark. Oh well.) One of the best parts of this run was that I started before 8 AM, and was even able to do some barefoot strides on the grass after, all before a busy day at work! I loved being able to say I ran ten miles up a mountain before work. It just makes everything after so much easier to handle.

mtnelevation

Here are some photos of parts of the route…(not mine).

view from near the top

view from near the top

baldpateTuesday: 6 x 1000m

The Intervals workout this week was 6 x 1000. I have done a variation of this (usually 4 x 1000 or 5 x 1000) several times in high school and college, on both grass surfaces and the track. I’ve always just tried to get around 4:00 or just under. I don’t remember ever averaging under four minutes, though, and I never did six. During this workout, however, I averaged 3:52 and I didn’t even feel as if I was giving it 100% (note: I am slightly concerned about my right hip flexor…there is no pain at all but I’m the most paranoid runner in the WORLD, I swear). That is a good feeling, to feel like I can hit those times with so much less effort than 4:00+ used to feel.

Nolcha Fashion Week…featuring OISELLE!

PBN_1546-s

In case you didn’t follow on Twitter, Wednesday Oiselle strutted their stuff on the RUNWAY at Nolcha Fashion Week in New York! This is exciting stuff – real athletes as models is a dream come true! I was more excited to see Lauren Fleshman, Sarah Mac, Kate Grace, & the other Oiselle gals than the new clothes themselves. It was a “I know you!” moment (as in, I’ve talked to you/met you, you may not remember this happening at all but I do…). And Sally, looking like the proud mother behind the scenes!

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Lauren looking fantastic after having baby Jude!

Lauren looking fantastic after having baby Jude!

I’m trying not to think about the possibility that I could have maybe, possibly attended the after-party…because that would be too much awesome to handle. And I don’t have anything to wear (actually just kidding, I could conjure something probably. Just not anything like Fast K8’s shoes). You can view all of Oiselle’s runway photos here.

Boston registration

bostonreg

I can register for Boston tomorrow (well, today, at this hour)!!!!! I could have registered Wednesday had I ran two seconds faster…but it’s okay. Because now I get to register on….

FRIDAY-THE-13TH

YES THAT’S RIGHT, I GET TO GIVE MYSELF THE GIFT OF THE BOSTON MARATHON ON MY BIRTHDAY! Never mind that my birthday is on Friday the 13th…that’s just typical of the kind of things that happen to me. Rather fitting. I am okay with it.

That being said, I’m off to go have a good birthday. One last random photo:

nasa frogMind blown by this NASA frog photobomb right now. It’s kind of creepy that it looks like a person though. And then I think of how the frog definitely did not make it. So, on second thought, it’s actually quite disturbing.

New song of the week – check it out. Heard in Forever 21, not going to lie:

Running in September

First, I am aware that my Hood to Coast recaps were…quite long. I had no internet in my house for about a week – the week I was writing the recaps – so, I was just excited to finally post what I had written when I made it to the library! It might be nice to go back and remember all those details later, anyway.

September has always been an interesting month for me. That doesn’t necessarily mean interesting things are happening in my life, but I always seem to be dealing with something. Consequently, I had not been able to run during the month of September since 2010. Not one step. To make matters worse, the only good  Septembers since I began running seriously (in 2006) were 2006 and 2009. So, I had not had a good, or event decent, September of running in four years. Here’s what happened….

2006 – first year of cross country, was pretty awesome but I did have some mysterious foot pain – I didn’t really know what I was doing, relatively speaking

2007 – definitely had an iron deficiency and didn’t know what it was, felt horrible running throughout and ended the month with a stress fracture (my first)

2008 – freshman year of college, stress fracture in femur, could not run all month

2009 – finally, a good September of running (stress fracture didn’t come until the first week of October…)!

2010 – I ran…but had an iron deficiency and was ridiculously sore and tired every day

2011 – stress fracture in my foot all month, senior year, very frustrating

2012 – still recovering from hip stress fracture, couldn’t run August 3 – October 3

Now, you might understand why being able to run in September 2013 is a very big deal to me. I am so grateful I am running right now, and feeling as good as I am is just a bonus! September should theoretically be a great month: a new beginning, in terms of classes and things, better weather for training, wearing jeans again, my BIRTHDAY, Oktoberfest beers…but obviously, it has developed quite a stigma for itself. Not cool. I don’t doubt that my autumn running history is directly related to the seasonal affective disorder that creeps up on me at some point each year. I’m sure I’ll write more later about how I’m hoping to combat this problem this year (I say that every year though…easier said than done in the end); for now here is how my September of running has started: with a XC race, a workout, and a PERFECT run.

XC Race

Yay XC. Roads are easier….

Well, this was August 31, but I ran a cross country 5k! I had a sinus infection, probable fever, and did not wear spikes due to an unfortunate mix-up (I was really looking forward to wearing them), but I still did it and it was pretty fun. I also didn’t get to warm up due to a last-minute race time switch with the guys’ race! There is a meet at the start of my college team’s cross country season each year in which the alumni are invited to participate and race against our younger counterparts. It used to be Blue vs. Gold vs. Alumni, with no official results. Usually the Alumni team would actually be pretty good; I remember in 2009 they beat both halves (“Blue” and “Gold”) of our real team. I was excited to be a part of that finally, as I was still injured last year and didn’t even go. But…only two other alumni from the women’s team showed up to run. I was disappointed by that, but obviously I came to run and so I did. I forgot how hard XC was….the grass feels like it’s holding you back so much compared to the roads! I admit that given the circumstances I definitely lost sight of my total competitive nature and did not go all-out, but I ended up running 21:12 which I was satisfied with. It was nice to know I could always run around that pace these days no matter the circumstances. That was not the case in the past, so that’s a victory. I went on a 4+ mile cooldown and realized I was excited to return to Intervals workouts on Tuesday, and long runs on the weekends, instead of all these races.

Down ladder workout

finally  got to run one of my favorite workouts on Tuesday, rather than coach it! The workout was run at a pond with a ~570-meter path around it that is part dirt, part pavement. The workout was a down ladder: 4 laps, 3 laps, 2 laps, 1 lap, 1 lap. It ended up being ladies’ night – only girls showed up to run. I tried using my Garmin the entire time to take splits because I SOLVED THE PROBLEM! I just need to hit the “Page” button to see the running time for the current (manual) interval on the screen. I’m really glad I figured this out. The only problem was I didn’t take it off auto-lap before the workout, but at least I knew that, and just had to do some math later. The weather was awesome and  my stomach finally cooperated. I ended up averaging about 6:38/mile for all the intervals (about 6:45 for the 4-lapper and 6:19 for the 1-lappers; somewhere in between for the in-between-lappers). After, I had one of those cooldowns that made me want to run forever (but I didn’t, my workout buddies were waiting for me and so was pizza…). The words that came to mind that night were, running has saved the day again. Like a good friend that comes to save you from your thoughts just by being there.

A perfect run

On Thursday, a perfect run was in the making. I could feel it. I had the day off work randomly, the weather was perfect, my legs felt good, and I had already done my faster workout of the week. Time to play. In my mind I was set to drive to a park and hit up some trails for 7-8 miles, but then I realized I didn’t want to run on trails (gasp). I wanted to do something similar to what I had done the Thursday before: get in a solid-paced run on roads. After all, that’s where I will be racing. As I said, I didn’t have Internet so I couldn’t map anything…so I decided to wing it. I rode my bike to the closest canal path entrance, locked it up, and ran. I had a general idea of what I was doing, so I wasn’t concerned I would end up running 15 miles or something. The result…

Image

I felt AWESOME. These splits aren’t exactly super fast, but the point is, I could have kept going forever, and gotten faster with each mile. If I could run Boston 2014 feeling like that…the possibilities would be endless. I didn’t want the run to end, but I knew as I approached where I had stashed my bike, I was reaching the exact amount of miles I should do that day anyway, so I stopped at an hour. Parts of this run were in the same area where I did my 18-miler (okay, 17.8-miler…) in April, so maybe that helped to fuel the mental aspect of the run. What also made this seemingly normal run awesome was that I had never done that loop before, and didn’t even map it. I think I need to do this more often this fall…I fall into a trap of thinking I’m keeping things interesting by running on trails…but eventually I run all the trails. Now I know that mapping out random new routes on roads – by my feet and not Gmap Pedometer – can be just as exciting.

Tomorrow I’m planning on heading to my old Sunday morning stomping grounds and my favorite local mountain for my first double-digit long run since the marathon!

Cheers to running in September AT LAST!

Hood to Coast Part 3: THE RELAY!

For Van 2, Friday began with a few extra hours of anticipation to hit the road and begin the relay! We left the hotel at 11:15, dropped off extra bags at Nuun, and set off for Sandy, Oregon, the first major van exchange. The van 1 vs. van 2 Twitterfest began around then, as we finally had time to check in with the world…however, there was no where else we would rather be, so we basically made everyone else jealous 140 characters at a time, and checked in with the other vans searching for #teamwatermelon, #teamlemonade, #teamcherrylimeade, and #nuunhtc. I was learning so much. It was like Twitter 101 (TWI101?). After a stop for safety pins/fathers (cc: Lisa) and a stop for food, we arrived in Sandy just in time for me to get ready totally spaz out that I wouldn’t have enough time to get ready for my first leg. I was the first runner to be on the road after 6:00, meaning I had to wear all the reflective gear and lights. It seemed silly and excessive since it was still sunny out, and because I hate wearing extra…anything, but it was a rule so I put it all on. Sparkle shirt: check. Nuun tattoos: check. Garmin ready: check. Bathroom: check. Spotted Dead Jocks in a Box pulling out of the parking lot: check. I ran up to the exchange zone with Lisa, Devon, and Lindsay, and pretty soon, Catey was rolling in strong! I snapped on the bracelet and was on my way to start the first leg for van 2!

The hand-off! Lindsay caught a video of it here.

1. Leg 7: Hard & “Boring” My first leg wasn’t actually boring, it was a lot of fun. But, it was through the “town” of Boring, Oregon. It was rated H (hard), and began with a fairly steep downhill. There were then some sharp turns and some pretty significant uphills, which undoubtedly slowed my pace. I was thinking it would be cool to average under 7:00/mile for my legs, maybe add 15 or 20 seconds if there were a lot of hills though. Somehow, my Garmin was not on auto-lap for the first time…I didn’t realize this until I was over a mile in and it had not beeped. Oops. It was okay, though, I figured out my splits online later. My van pulled over a few times to cheer me on, which made me excited. It also made me feel as if I couldn’t get out of the game and slow down, because they were sure to be on the side of the road up ahead waiting to see me go by.

Leg 7, my first leg.

Random things that happened during this leg…a volunteer at a corner yelled after me, “I like your dress. I had one of those once” (referring to the sparkle shirt). I witnessed a runner getting reprimanded for wearing headphones and trying to run away from an angry volunteer. I noticed that the sparkle skirt did not quite make for the most comfortable running attire, at least when paired with spandex shorts (you would think that would be the preferred combination…it is actually not). It was my first glimpse at the other vans in the relay, so it was entertaining to see what vans passed me, and what was written on them. I got five roadkills – that is, passed five people – on this leg, and was passed by one speedy guy towards the end. The hills were a bit rough; I haven’t exactly trained on hills since my injury this summer, so I just tried my best to hang on and power up steadily until each one was over. I gave the slap bracelet to Megan at the end of my leg, and successfully completed the first stage for van 2! The stats: 6.38 miles in 45:57, giving me an average pace of 7:12. I was a little disappointed by this, and I did not really feel like myself…didn’t have that excited feeling I had after most runs, didn’t feel that great physically. Which was disappointing, because this was Hood to Coast, dammit. I knew what the problem was, though, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. In the spirit of Jesica and Jenny, and the nature of a 200-mile relay itself, I will be honest and share that I did not get so lucky when it came to my time of the month…as in, I was greeted with an untimely (and unexpected) surprise Friday morning that pretty much affected me only for the hours of the relay. I’ve always been so lucky so I hardly knew what to do…I was suddenly much more nervous about how I would feel while running, and in the van in between legs. Hence, the not-so-hot feeling since before leg 1. Ohhh well.

It was fun to ride in the van and cheer on Megan, Laura, Lisa, Lindsay, and Devon as they ran their first legs and the sun started to set. Some of the exchanges were relatively far away from the parking areas, and so we did a little extra running ourselves to get there in time! If I was feeling a bit better, I would’ve been having a blast, like it was a big running camping trip or something. I still was having a lot of fun, but my mind was definitely partially on what I should do to feel better for the second leg, because whatever I was doing then (um, nothing) was not feeling good. After Devon’s leg, we were almost in Portland. We drove to the Hopworks Brewery, where apparently the van 1s had already visited. Going to a brewery mid-relay was a strange experience…I couldn’t look at the beer list because then I’d want one! Also, the food you would get after running is wayyy different than that you would prefer to order before running. Normally, my choice would be nothing, being the next runner up after our break, but I thought I should have something, so I got a grilled chicken sandwich and kept it simple and light. As soon as we got back in the van, I reserved a bench where I could lay down…there was no way my stomach was going to be happy if I didn’t get horizontal ASAP. The next thing I knew, it was about 2:30 in the morning, and I woke up to find rain and dew on the windows, a temperature drop of what felt like 20 degrees to me, and being told I would have to run soon. Ouch.

In what seemed like some kind of dream, I got out of the van and stepped into the eerie “Van City” that was exchange zone 18, changed into what I was wearing for my next leg, put on my reflective gear and bib number, used a Honey Bucket, and ran up to the exchange zone with a couple girls to wait for Catey. The air was thick with moisture, and it had definitely rained while I was sleeping. Here goes.

2. Leg 19: Surreal, hilly, and rough

Van 1 was there also, so I knew Catey was coming in soon. She flew in and gave me the bracelet I slapped it on and set off at who knows what pace. Running at night is always strange pace-wise, because your depth perception is so off. I had never tried to run a hard effort at night without being in a lit area, so this was all new to me. I could see the blinking lights and reflective vests of the runners ahead of me, and passed a couple immediately. There was never a time I did not see a runner ahead of me, which was nice; I had been worried about that. Also, there was plenty of van traffic on the opposite side, heading toward the next exchange, which provided some light and company in a sense. I have to admit, there were parts of this leg that made me question my sanity as a runner. I think a lot of runners experience this during the second, night leg of an overnight relay….It wasn’t so much that I hated it, or wondered why I was out there…but more like,

I can’t see where my feet are going, I don’t know where this road goes at all, I don’t know if there is an uphill or downhill ahead or behind me, I’m not sure when I’ll be done, I don’t know what pace this is or feels like, my body is so confused it’s stopped rebelling completely against what it’s being forced to do, this actually may be better than sleeping, not going to lie. Is someone messing with me right now, why do I feel so slow all of a sudden?

Second leg (19).

Second leg (19).

Yeah, some thought process like that happened. I had thought this was rated VH (very hard) initially, but the sheet we had in the van had said H (hard). I was confused about why this was not very hard while I was running it, but it made it less intimidating probably. Truth: the sheet had a  typo. According to every other source, Leg 19 was in fact VH. Finally the 5.89 miles were over, I passed off to Megan, and stopped to breathe. I felt better than I did when I started, so that was good! My watch said 4:03 AM or so when I finished. Yikes. We were in a strange time, a very strange time…definitely not really late at night. Definitely not very early in the morning. It was the dead zone. Speaking of dead zone, I went to tweet that I had finished my second leg after I returned to the van, but somewhere during my leg, we had actually entered a dead zone for cell service. We would stay in that dead zone for…about 11 more hours. Leg 2: 5.91 miles in 44:40, 7:33 pace.

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Chariots of Tired & Portland Fire Dragons in the foggy morning at exchange 22, around 7:00 AM.

Megan’s leg was also brutal – not only was it uphill, but halfway through the road turned to gravel. It was a peculiar scene: runners getting dust and dirt kicked up in their faces, lights flashing on the left side of the road, vans crawling along in a traffic jam, stirring up the gravel and creating dusty clouds on the right side. When Megan handed off to Laura, the dirt road was still in effect. That was when the heavy traffic leading up to the exchanges began, and parking at the exchange zones got ugly. When the clock in the van read 5:30 AM, I announced that we were now in “semi-normal time!” By this, I meant that people who woke up to start their day at 5:30 weren’t totally crazy, for the most part. Before that, woof. I got sleepy again all of a sudden, and ended up stealing a little nap during leg 23…I felt like I was missing out on something though, and felt bad for sleeping while people in my van were running, so I didn’t sleep for long! We were hoping for a pretty Oregon sunrise, but unfortunately it was overcast as the sky brightened. Once I realized it was officially no longer dark, and we had therefore made it through the night, I started to feel a little sad. We made it through the night. We would finish in Seaside “soon!” The craziness that was running through the night during Hood to Coast was over, and we only had daylight to conquer from here on out. I wanted to make the most of it, stretch it out as long as possible in my mind.

Total white van chaos at exchange 24.  This is why there are designated sleeping areas.

Total white van chaos at exchange 24. This is exactly why there are designated sleeping areas.

We spent awhile at exchange 24, the next major van exchange where we handed off to van 1 runners. Dick’s Sporting Goods had set up a literal campsite there, complete with rows of tents. We weren’t sure how one got to reserve one of those….It was at this exchange that it was decided we needed to start acting silly. Even without Twitter to write ridiculous updates, we must continue taking pictures, videos, and preaching the word of Nuun to other teams. It had to happen. Lindsay and I started this by initiating a rolling station – we got down on the ground with our TigerTails, my quadballer, and my TP massage ball and got to work. While recording soundbites on her GoPro, of course. I must say, rolling doesn’t usually affect me much, but this time it hurt. Wow. Others came up to us asking if they could use our little tools, and we “interviewed” them about Hood to Coast so far. Eventually we stopped and set off to sing “happy birthday” to someone (he wrote that it was his birthday on the van window), and give him the gift of Nuun samples. Best birthday ever, right? We eventually rounded up the troops and drove off. We stopped to cheer on Mallory during her leg, and even sang Ke$ha for her. That became the new theme: blast every runner’s favorite music out of the van window and slow down as we drove past. Hannah got some Taylor Swift, and a power arch! Feeling a little more energetic at this hour (about 10:30 AM), we took some jumping photos with the Oregon hillside as a backdrop. We may not have gotten to go to Mt. Hood, but in person, these views were also stunning. We used our quackers from the duck boat tour to cheer on runners also…I don’t blame them if they were confused….

Leg 29. Oh my. Warrior Sarah had this one, and it was a killer. We passed her at the beginning of it and cheered out the window, then continued our climb up to get to my exchange. I felt like we were just climbing and  climbing, it was insane. At the top, people were out of their vans standing in the runners’ path with an unraveled roll of toilet paper, so the runner would get to “break the tape!” So cool! I’d wanted to play “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus (spring 2009…anyone?), but I didn’t have it on my mp3 player anymore. I was marveling at the huge trees and steep, winding roads…I had never been anywhere like this before. Then…we hit traffic. It was worse here than it had been before any other exchange, and we were basically at a standstill as runners zipped by us. I was thinking I should warm up a little for this last leg anyway, so I hopped out of the van with Lisa and Megan and we started jogging to the exchange. I am very, very glad I did this! Not only did it warm me up, but I wouldn’t have had time to use the bathroom before running if I’d stayed in the van (um, a runner’s worst fear). I wasn’t even on the road when I heard the announcer yell, “seven one five!” I sprinted to the exchange zone and grabbed the bracelet from Catey. Andddd I bolted.

3. Leg 31: guts & glory

I really wanted to average under 7:00/mile for this last, M( medium) – rated 4.00 mile leg. My projected finish pace was 6:59 (I had been right on for the first two, give or take literally a second…I don’t know how you did that, HTC people!). I started out feeling pretty darn good. Somewhere in the second mile, or maybe even before, reality set in: I was tired. This was going to hurt. I focused on picking off other runners (roadkill = 10!), particularly if they were playing music through speakers, and just not letting go of my pace goal, because this was my final leg of Hood to Coast! Sub-7 hurt like never before, but after this I would be done continuing to my awesome team, and just supporting the rest of them all the way to Seaside. I had to make this count. With less than a mile to go, I saw my van. I was worried at first that Megan was still in it and wouldn’t be at the exchange, but Casey assured me immediately that she was there waiting for me already (she had ran out early like I had). A van just ahead of my van had been cheering on their male runner at the same time. I ran past him a few seconds later, and he just muttered an expletive under his breath. It probably had to do with the fact that I was wearing a sparkle skirt. Both teams were there to witness this moment, and if it doesn’t define “chicked,” I don’t know what does. 😉

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Splits for my last leg. Total: 27:28 for 4.00 miles, average pace of 6:52!

I let it all go and put on a mean pain face at the end as I saw Megan waiting at the exchange. Some girl I was about to pass that clearly had not been working as hard the entire leg sprinted ahead of me at the last second when I was at my highest gear and couldn’t match her speed…but I’m sure Megan passed her teammate immediately, so it’s all good. I ended up walking back with Lisa, who had been at that exchange with Megan (I’m convinced she ran around 3 extra warmup miles), to the van, hopping in, and just moving on to the next exchange…so much van traffic! At that exchange, I realized that my quads were totally spent, in such a glorious way.

Van 2 girls minus Laura, who was out running leg 33!

Van 2 girls minus Laura, who was out running leg 33!

The rest of the journey to Seaside went pretty smoothly…highlights included:

– lame rules and pissed-off volunteers at exchange 33

– running out of water at exchange 34…how the Nuun team ran out of water is beyond me, but that happened

– supplying Laura with Nuun as she ROCKED her long, hot, and hilly last leg and steadily roadkilled a bunch of runners

–  Lindsay getting through her long last leg on a trail without any van support and officially finishing her part of HTC in one piece!

– sending Devon off to run the final leg to Seaside, and supplying her with her favorite Heart song through the van speakers!

Final exchange! Almost to the beach!

Final exchange! Almost to the beach!

It was down to a matter of seconds whether or not we would get to Seaside in time to see Devon finish! We jumped out of the van when we got close to the beach, and Casey went to park. As tiring as it was, we ran to the finish line and just missed her. We found her, though, as well as our Van 1 teammates. We all got to cross the line together, but it was much less of a spectacle than we had expected – we didn’t get to run by ourselves, and it was way too crowded. We got our medals and took our official team picture, then just hung out and shared our stories from the adventure in the beer garden.

So happy!

So happy!

Our total time: 199.3 miles in 27:45.

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In the words of Leslie, “YEAH-YUH.”

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We finally headed to the condos Nuun had rented us for the night (thank you, thank you, they were so nice and I wanted to stay allll week!) to continue the celebration with all three teams. I headed out with some other girls later to touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time! That was probably one of my favorite parts of the day. Others went to get ice cream following that, but I, being from Van 2, was dying for a shower, so unfortunately I took care of that business instead.

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In the Pacific!

The next morning was bittersweet, as we separated into different vans after breakfast to head back to Seattle and said our goodbyes. It was such a short time and we all ended up feeling like we knew each other so well! I definitely want to try to make an effort to keep in touch with these wonderful ladies online, so that we can hopefully meet up again at races and maybe even other relays in the future!

I am about as bad at saying goodbye as I am writing the end of this recap…no words can really express how it all felt! One thing that sticks out in my mind though is this: it was really great, and really special, to feel like so many different girls understood me at the same time. Not all of my friends are runners, and even those who are don’t necessarily “get me” when I say or do certain things. All of these girls did. We all came from different backgrounds and different parts of the country: some of us started running in high school, others a year or two ago, others to lose weight, and still others began in their twenties, maybe because their friends were running. Some were mothers, some were engaged, some were single, some worked a lot, some worked a little, some were loud, some were quiet, some were confident, some were insecure. Yet, there was not a single person I spoke to (and I tried to meet everyone) who I did not feel as if I could invite for a run and coffee  (er, wait, I don’t like coffee…recurring theme on this trip) and have endless things to share and discuss. That’s pretty darn cool.

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Hood to Coast Part 2: Seattle, before the relay

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21

I flew out of Philadelphia early on Wednesday morning. I hadn’t been on a plane in almost six years, but everything went smoothly and I found myself taking off, in a seat, in one piece. Apparently you had to pay for wireless internet, and I didn’t bring a book, so I read all of the US Airways magazine. Good stuff.

About six hours later, I landed at SEA-TAC and attempted to find five girls I had never met before in person. Let me tell you, this is a difficult task. I managed to do it though, and hung out in baggage claim chatting with Kristen, Mallory, and Karen until Lindsay and Sarah came. Megan was outside with a van, so once we were all there we headed out and set off for the Nuun office. We were pretty quiet on the van ride; I tried to start some conversation and for the most part succeeded. I knew that pretty soon, we would all be talking like we had known each other forever, because that’s what is bound to happen when you stick a bunch of runners together for several days! So, the initial silence was actually pretty comical.

Exploring Seattle: Pike Place

We arrived at Nuun and put down our bags. Megan took off for another airport pickup, and the rest of us decided to go leave the office and go explore Seattle! We headed toward Pike Place Market, which was a bit of a hike since Nuun is near the stadiums south of downtown. I was so excited to be in a new, major city; I realized it had been over two years since I had (when I went to Boston for the first time). A couple girls wanted to go to Seattle Center to visit the EMP and the space needle, but most of us wanted to stay at Pike and get some food. We tried to take our food closer to the water to sit and eat…but finished it before we got there of course. We browsed around a quirky gift shop by the Ferris wheel , and took some photos by the water!

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Leslie, me, Mal, Kristen, and Catey

Camp Brooks

Love it.

I had been in touch with Daniel, who is a rep for Moving Comfort, throughout the day, and I really wanted to go check out the Brooks/Moving Comfort HQ while I had time that day! I didn’t want to leave everyone else as soon as I met them though…so I got the idea that maybe they could come as well? I texted this to Daniel and he said of course! Fast-forward twenty minutes and the five of us were standing on the side of the road looking for his little blue Rio (as Leslie sang his name. I knew they were going to get along). A little directional snafu led us to running down the street and into his illegally parked car, then stuffing ourselves into it and zipping through Seattle towards HQ. What made the car ride more hilarious was that Daniel announced he was selling the car that afternoon, so it was certainly going out with an exciting last ride! I had successfully added a running-nerd activity to our itinerary! Bonus points for that! It turned out Brooks was in such a hurry to move out of Bothell and into Seattle that they didn’t wait for their official new headquarters to be built…therefore they are temporarily stationed a little farther up the street at “Camp Brooks!” After a stop at the candy drawer closet and a photoshoot in a shoe or two, Daniel showed us around the place. My favorite floor: “where the magic happens.” We got to see designers working on big sketches, parts of shoes all over the place, big computer screens, fabrics, and designs that never made the cut. I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in there, but I definitely felt the familiar flurry of creativity in the air, and it was awesome! After our exclusive tour of Camp, we hopped back into Daniel’s car and he drove us back to Nuun. By now, nearly everyone had arrived in Seattle.

Fun times at Camp Brooks!

Garage

We got in the vans and headed to Garage, a cool place with bowling, billiards, and a bar. It reminded me a lot of Kings in Boston, but a little classier. There, it was nice to chill and talk with everyone. I was getting very sleepy by the time we left (3 hour time change…I technically woke up at 2 AM PT!) but I could’ve stayed there longer, it was really fun! The hotel at which we stayed was also really nice. There was a pool on the roof we all said we would go to, but ended up being too tired at night and skipping it unfortunately. I roomed with Katie and Kimberly, and we adopted Dorothy as well.

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 22

Oiselle + run at Green Lake

Thursday morning we all woke up early; 8:30 AM somehow felt late! We met at that time in the lobby to drive to Oiselle! Or as they say, the Nest. I didn’t (past tense!) own any Oiselle tops, so I just wore my signature Oiselle stride shorts and a Brooks top. Sally wasn’t there when we arrived, so we decided to go for a run first, then meet back at the office after. I kind of ran in between two groups of runners unfortunately, so I didn’t talk most of the run. As I mentioned, everything was physically feeling less than decent as of Tuesday night…I wanted to use this run to shake all the bad stuff out and gain some confidence for the next day(s) of running. For the most part, the run served its purpose; I felt much better after than I did before. I just did a three-mile loop around Green Lake. I thought about doing four or five, but then thought I should just save myself for Hood to Coast! We hit up Starbucks after, a stop I

Ravennas represent!

Ravennas represent!

mostly used to stretch, drink water, and take a picture with the RAVENNA BLVD sign across the street in honor of my Ravennas! We walked back to Oiselle after, where Sally spoke to us about the company and their Hood to Coast Team (for Every Mother Counts). She also brought out two stripey long sleeve tees and asked who was the youngest here and who traveled the farthest to get here. It turned out I was the youngest! I kind of figured this, as it happens a lot….Holly is from Jacksonville, Florida, so she got the second one! I put mine on before we posed for a huge group photo!

Nuun takes over the Nest!

Ride the Ducks!

Practicing our quacking before the ride.

Practicing our quacking before the ride.

We went back to the hotel to shower and get lunch, and then reconvened at 1:00 to drive to Seattle Center to RIDE THE DUCKS!!! I must say, this was probably my favorite part of the trip besides the relay. It is a really touristy thing to do, and normally I don’t like being the tourist, but hey – I was! So why not!? I wouldn’t do it in Philly, Boston, or NYC, because I feel like I know the cities well, but it truly was a great way to see the most sights around Seattle. Our driver was hilarious, which I’m pretty sure is in his job description, and he made us laugh the whole time. If I didn’t already mention this at some point, there is something you should know about me: I really, really like boats. When I am on them. I like feeling the breeze, and the water splashing, and viewing the world from the water versus the land, something you don’t usually get to do. I tend to take about 156,415,456 photos while on the water, consequently. Highlights of the water portion of the trip included a dance contest with the other boat HTC-ers were riding, while we circled

Nuun HTC duck boat dance contest. Duck C vs. Duck D.  I'm not sure who won....

Nuun HTC duck boat dance contest. Duck C vs. Duck D. I’m not sure who won….

each other and probably got too close to one another…a moody drunk sailor…a couple making out on two paddleboards even after we yelled at them over the mic…and just everything else too, because Lake Union was freaking awesome. I was sad to drive out of the water and head back through the city on wheels. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, we did all have duck noisemakers. They served a dual purpose: relay cheering! People probably thought we were crazy (what happened to cowbells?). Mason was really good at expressing “womp-womp” via duck beak; I couldn’t seem to master it.

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Taco bar & van decorating!

I present this with an exclamation point, since things were definitely getting more crazy and exciting leading up to the relay, just the way I wanted it to be! After spending some time just chilling in the hotel room, we walked to Nuun to have dinner and decorate the vans! We got our bags of gifts as soon as we arrived, and Mason talked to us about the history of Nuun’s involvement in Hood to Coast, and previous years’ teams.

What was in the bag:Screen-Shot-2013-03-11-at-4.49.45-PM1

Oiselle Lux Layer Long Sleeve tee, in blue, with the Nuun “n” on the front and the HTC logo on the back

Oiselle Flyer jacket in yellow, with “nuun” on the back and HTC on the front

Oiselle Raglan Slub top, white with our team flavor Seattle-20130822-02376on the front (watermelon!), “nuun” on the back, and HTC logo on the sleeve!

– sparkle skirt in our team color (green!) from Sparkle Athletic (sooo much more fun to wear than I expected!)

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Tiger Tail (like the Stick, but I think I might like this better!)

Naawk lotion and sunscreen

Barlean’s Omega 3 supplement (I had to leave mine in airport security…anyone want to send me theirs? Specifically strawberry banana?)

Endorphin Warrior bracelet (mine says “RELENTLESS”…as soon as I saw the choices I knew that was mine)

Swiftwick socks, low cut and knee-high compression…these will come in handy in the winter!

Also, Catey gave everyone on Team Watermelon a special gift: a little green bag with a necklace that says: “She believed she could, and so she did”, plus headbands and ribbon ties! So sweet! I’m not sure how you had the time to even think of being so thoughtful when you are busy with nine kids, let alone put all of that together for us! BIG thank you!

I'm not sure what was so funny....

I’m not sure what was so funny….

We attacked the taco bar and the beer fridge, and then got to work outside the loading dock decorating our vans. I am usually the artsy one in the group, so I was all set to take on the design and drawing aspects of our van, when I realized everyone else here was just like me! So, we split things up evenly and managed to all bring our ideas to life on the van. It was a 15-passenger van, after all…plenty of space to write and draw! I ended up drawing lots and lots of black seeds on the sides of the van, and on every watermelon, since I had the black crayon for so long. We shared lots of laughs and came up with some great sayings and puns – you put six bloggers/runners together and creativity flows!

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When we were done, some Nuunies drove us back to the hotel since it was getting dark. Except…apparently I missed the memo when I was in the bathroom, and went out to find the vans gone and Emily, Holly R., and Meghan (Nuun ambassador on another HTC team who stopped by to give us delicious cupcakes – thanks!) standing there asking if I wanted to meet Mason at a nearby brewery with them. Ummm, yes? By means of Twitter, a few others ended up showing up later, and we ended up staying fairly late (9:30ish…it’s relative). Van 2 didn’t have to leave until 11:30 AM, so it was all good…or so we thought. My room was mostly Van 1 runners, so there was no hope in sleeping in when they were getting ready to go at 6. It was okay though, I was excited too, and wished we were leaving earlier!

Team Watermelon Van 2 with our masterpiece!

Team Watermelon Van 2 with our masterpiece!

Next post: THE MOTHER OF ALL RELAYS!!! Friday, August 23 – Saturday, August 24.

Hood to Coast Part 1: THANK YOU NUUN!

64f497420c2c11e38b9422000a1fbe38_6This time last week, I was still sitting in a white van, which was decorated with oversized watermelons and a half-dozen names and Twitter handles on the windows, and fully stocked with Nuun, snacks, and runners having the time of our lives. Hood to Coast was one of those experiences I knew was going to be amazing, and a huge privilege to be a part of…so much that with each leg that passed, I simultaneously dreaded the end amidst the bliss.

At the risk of saying the exact same thing as everyone else, I need to start by giving a HUGE THANK YOU to Nuun!!! The chance to run Hood to Coast with such an incredible company and wonderful group of people was such a dream come true; the experience was even better than what I had expected! Nuun is definitely more than just electrolyte tabs – they are truly a small company that practices what they preach and goes above and beyond to extend their support to athletes striving to accomplish any goal, small or big. Nuun’s invitation to female bloggers for spots on their Hood to Coast teams is a perfect example and reflection of that. As someone (I forget who) said after Mason gave his little speech Thursday night, they could have easily formed a team or two made up of just their office employees, Seattle-20130825-02504representatives, and ambassadors, but instead they opened it up for all of us – runners from all over the country with all different running backgrounds and experiences. I have to admit, when I submitted my application video, regardless of the many, many hours I put into it, I was worried I wouldn’t be seen as a “legit blogger” – I had just started my blog in February, some of my posts didn’t even have one reader comment, I wasn’t all over Twitter communicating with lots of other bloggers each day. The truth is, it is easier for me to meet people in person, and the whole internet-blogger-friend thing was still new and foreign to me. But, I wanted to break into that world. I love writing, especially about running. I love taking photos and choosing which ones to use on my blog. I obviously love running, and I feel my experiences could help others if I shared them. And I loved Nuun, and was already marketing it to my friends, family and running community. So, I hoped that would be enough! When I found out it was, I was surprised and ecstatic. I felt instantly connected to the other women as we formed a Facebook group, followed each other on Twitter, became Facebook friends, and commented on each other’s blog posts. I couldn’t wait to actually meet everyone in real life!

After my marathon, when I hurt my ITB pretty badly, I was stressed when the other runners mentioned Hood to Coast. I needed to be healthy in time. There was absolutely no alternative. And…I wanted to give it my all. It was Hood to Coast, after all. I worried that I would have to tell people, “well, 2013 was going perfectly, but then I had to stay home and not run Hood to Coast with Nuun,” and I would have to fall off the blogosphere to avoid seeing what I missed, etc., etc. Yes, I am dramatic, but I know myself too well and that is most likely what I would have had to do. By some miracle, my return to running was full of…races. In which I PRed, medaled, and surprised myself like never before, after little training. I didn’t have 15 milers under my belt before heading to the west coast. Or 10 milers, actually. All that had happened since July 3rd when I began running again gave me nothing short of 100% confidence in my ability to cover the distances and to cover them reasonably fast.

Seattle-20130825-02503I have some other specific thank yous to give before I launch into my posts about the actual HTC experience!

Mason – thank you, thank you, thank you for everything! You essentially opened up the entire office for us to raid for several days, and made us feel right at home. Last week probably felt like a 120 hour sleepless relay for you, and you were so chill the whole time. Props for being my first blog stalker to meet me IRL, by the way. 😉 See you in Boston!

Megan F. – you are a workhorse! I can’t imagine the organization involved with making HTC a success! For everything from assigning teams, vans, and hotel rooms to arranging our goodie bags – thank you for organizing and having everything go so smoothly the entire weekend! While I don’t have kids like lots of the other runners, it was still so nice to drop all responsibilities and stresses once I got to Seattle and let someone else do the planning! Now, take a day off. 🙂

Casey – I would nominate you for best driver! I don’t know how you managed to stay awake all that time with no coffee (really, I don’t remember you having any?!), plus deal with six girls at the same time! We were never even late to an exchange or had any extremely close calls in that department…or hit any cars or anything…that is quite an accomplishment! Curb-hopping, however….(just kidding). Also, apologies for telling you my life story in like five minutes on the beach (thanks for listening)! Thank you!!!

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Up next: activities in Seattle Wednesday and Thursday before the relay (non-running stuff…well not really, anyway)!