the week that was…

That is an incredibly lame title. Please forgive me for that. You see, so many things have happened in the span of one week that I cannot possibly fit them all into one title. I thought I’d go through the important ones because they are certainly pieces of news worth sharing!

Tuesday: the track-shoveling outcome, etc.: 

Might as well get the disappointing news over with. First, I didn’t have to shovel the track after all – the team thought of it first. Second, we still couldn’t race the mile that night, because it was covered in ice. There was no safe place to run fast, and I wasn’t about to risk a major injury for this little mile race. We’re still trying to reschedule it, because apparently snow has become a Tuesday staple, and everything freezes over before 6pm. Not cool.

We tried….

We did, however, go for a regular run and have our annual dinner and year-end awards. I was given two awards:

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Happy Hour Award.

ImageBoth are rather fitting…I’ll take them. The night ended with me accidentally shattering part of the screen of my phone. It was less than two months old! 😦 It’s living in a sock when not in use to prevent further damage. I suppose I should find a little zippered case for it, but for now a sock will do.

Wednesday: Inventory at work. I don’t even know why I’m including this. I was at work until 12:40 AM doing monotonous things like counting and waiting. Inventory days are the two worst work days of the year. Good thing is, we got it over with.

Thursday: runner meet-up at the Ivy. I got there pretty late after work, and because most of this running group consists of middle-age parents, I missed seeing a bunch of them because they had already left the bar. I wanted to go because as I mentioned before, I don’t get a chance to actually run with them much but they’re a cool group! It ended up being worthwhile, because I had a conversation with two guys who call themselves cyclists more than runners. They got me super inspired to use my mag trainer this winter, and even sent me some of their workouts! I’m scheming up some things I will try to turn into routines as far as actually getting on the bike indoors and enjoying myself goes.

Friday: I lost my favorite scarf. Again, not necessary to mention.

Saturday: I felt the power of friendship. Sorry if things just got too deep there. But really. I realized I wanted to help a friend out not only because he asked me to, and not only because I wanted to help, but because I wanted to see him. I needed my friends. They are what balances my days and make me get a proper dosage of laughter and smiles. It is true that you need to be a friend to have a friend. What is truer is that if it’s a real friend, it doesn’t take any effort to do so. Or if it does in the sense of the word, it doesn’t in your heart and mind because it feels just as good for you as well.

Also, I can’t forget that Saturday was a big day across the country in Bend, Oregon, where several friends of mine represented a few different clubs at the USATF Club XC National Championships! Also, big shout-out to Lauren, Jesse, Jocelyn & the rest of the Picky Bars team for hosting what sounded and looked like the party of the month! It looks like the company definitely got some big PR (no pun intended…?) this weekend. I mean, check out that crowd:

Now that's a party!

Now that’s a party!

...and that's one of my best friends (#1773, Boulder TC)!

…and that’s my best friend from high school (#1773, Boulder TC)!

I really wanted to be transported to Bend on Saturday night, but that wasn’t happening, so I lived vicariously through #pickybirdxc on Twitter. I also contemplated the fact that I could run in this race next year, if I wanted to. Which made me realize I have some running options I should think about.

Sunday: Still basking in the power of friendship, I stopped stressing about responsibilities for a few hours after work and really enjoyed time with friends, without any expectations, or looking at a clock or phone. 

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Today, Monday: This was the big one. I still have to attend to many more things that came up tomorrow (two different emails about two different potential jobs? Today, really?!); it was a little much to handle in one day. I had two final exams today. I have not mentioned the classes I’ve been taking since August yet on here, but that’s for another post. Hopefully now my posts will be more frequent and focused now that I won’t be guilty about blogging instead of studying. I registered for Ironman 70.3 Princeton today, and got even more excited when I saw how many others I know are doing it too! Looks like I might have more biking buddies for next spring and summer than I thought. UntitledI was also accepted to the 2014 Nuun Ambassador program! Pretty pumped! I wasn’t sure if all the Hood to Coast team members were basically ambassadors now anyway, but I submitted an application anyway to make it official just in case. Speaking of Nuun, if you want a NUUN ORNAMENT for your Christmas tree, all you have to do is place an order from now through December 20th! Why would you not want a Nuun ornament? So runnerdy. Love it.

ornamentThe day ended with a run, but  not before an epic fail at the dreaded mall. I’m used to Forever 21 doing all the work for me…what do I do when it fails epically?! Totally not running-related I know, but I’m desperately seeking advice on where to find the perfect holiday party dress, so if you know secrets I don’t know, share them!

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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)!

 

teaser (bear with me…)

IT’S COMING, IT’S COMING!

My post(s) recapping and reflecting on the amazing experience that was Hood to Coast with Nuun is coming Saturday. New Jersey greeted me in a not-so-pleasant way Monday morning post-red-eye flight (stress stress stress stress). Needless to say, I have had no time to adequately process in words the journey that was last Wednesday through Sunday. In fact, I am looking forward to re-living it all again in my blog posts! Which is…sad, but it’s the nature of what has become known as the “HTC hangover” (#HTChangover).

For now, a short preview in photos….

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Seaside-20130825-02488I will be wishing I could get in a white van and roll through mountainous countryside with a bunch of awesome ladies for the next day or so while I’m at work (and running a XC 5k…more on that later as well)…and playing this song over and over again in my head just because it’s awesome. Until then, sit tight: real HTC posts coming very soon!

Here is also an awesome video vanmate Laura made!

NUUN giveaway (and storytime)!

It is really obvious that I love Nuun

First, they chose me to be on their 2013 Hood to Coast Team. That should be enough of a reason, no?

But seriously, Nuun as a product is awesome. I have never taken a liking to any other sports/electrolyte drink out there, finding them too sugary, too heavy, too light, too…not better than water. So, I used to only hydrate with water. Clearly, that isn’t good enough on hot and humid summer days in New Jersey, and so that fact, plus stocking Nuun at work, led me to try it. And…the Boston expo in 2012, when our Running Company booth was two booths away from Nuun, and the water fountain was about 150 meters and 1,500 people away. I’ve managed to try nearly every flavor, and my favorites are…

Watermelon, Tropical, Banana, Grape (actually in the opposite order, oops).

I could say lots of good things about Nuun, but here’s what Nuun has to say themselves:

“Nuun Active Hydration is the #1 selling sports drink tab in the cycling, running and outdoor specialty marketplaces. As education about hydration and wellness grows, Nuun has become more accessible to a wider range of people. In response, Nuun has expanded its product line from sports performance hydration to include two all natural, vitamin-enhanced products for every day use, Nuun All Day Hydration and U Natural Hydration. Be it a bike ride, a long day at the office, or a day at home juggling kids, Nuun has a tablet and flavor customized to help you stay healthy and hydrated.” – from Nuun.com

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Speaking of Nuun All Day, I’ve actually started to drink it in place of a multivitamin (since I can’t swallow big pills and chewable ones taste gross…)! I recommend Blueberry Pomegranate.

 

 

So…I promised a giveaway of this good stuff. This is my first giveaway on my blog, and I’m not going to do it without providing a catch! As an introduction to the catch…you may recall my last blog post about the 5k I did on Saturday. There is a good reason I’m not linking to the post. See, I mentioned how I was 99% sure that in the age group photo that was taken of me and the winner with the National team (most of whom I personally know, so that makes this worse, I think), I looked at the second camera instead of the right one (she was wearing a USRowing staff shirt!). Well, I saw the thumbnail and it looked like I was right. I thought it wouldn’t  be a big deal, because it was just on a Flickr sight nobody visits. But of course, it had to be chosen for the homepage of a website. Greattt. And I thought no one would ever see it. So, that was awful. No one should go searching for it, by the way. I have hardly looked at it and I refuse to.

My point: I would like you to share with me (in a comment on this post) a story of when something ( a photo or the like) came back to haunt you/embarrass you online! Running-related or not. The best story wins a 4-pack of Nuun! Also add which flavor you would like to try!

 

To distract you from searching for me online, here is a lovely Nuun photo that was floating around on my computer….

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And THIS, which I saw upon visiting the Nuun website!!!

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(That’s me!!!)

I’M RUNNING HOOD TO COAST WITH NUUN!!!

IMG-20130402-01867This is such a dream come true! It is so awesome to work really hard for something I want and get the reward as well…it’s been awhile! Like I said, I had so much fun making my video application. I jump at any opportunity to be creative, and this was a new and exciting form of creativity that I ended up having tons of fun with. Thank you SO MUCH  to Nuun for liking my video and selecting me to their Hood to Coast team!

If you missed my video, you can watch it here!

As I have been working nonstop and catching up on sleep and other things post-Boston, I have gotten lots of new Twitter and blog followers, was invited to the Nuun HTC Facebook group, and received comments and messages I haven’t had a chance to respond to yet! I am really excited to go watch every single video and read the blogs of the other ladies on the team, who sound awesome. The relay might not be until August, but there’s a lot of blogging to be done until then, and a lot more doors in the running and blogging community to open!

On another note, what do you think of the new Cherry Limeade??? I’m a fan, especially of the words “caffeine enhanced”…..CL-tube-382x369

Next up: 18-miler and its effects…plus an inside look on the coveted skill of cowbelling. Spoiler: I have a cowbell blister. You don’t want to miss this.

Better late than never: Official Nuun Hood to Coast Application Post

I planned on writing a post to go along with my Nuun Hood to Coast application…after all, now Nuun is checking up on me…and probably lots of other bloggers! Stress! Just kidding. Life kind of got crazy between uploading my video application to Youtube and now, so this is Catch-up Post #2 of the week! I should have done it earlier since I want this opportunity SO BADLY. Hopefully that won’t affect things. It’s 75 degrees and sunny now, so this is a great time to sit outside between work and my run and share this. 🙂

 

Like I admit in my video, I cannot stress how much FUN I had making this. I am not a half-ass person: I do it well or I don’t do it. And I will go to great measures to do it well, such as…stay at work until 1:30am filming and editing, driving across town for five seconds of footage, contacting numerous friends for help, etc. I was also constantly coming up with new ideas, so many, in fact, that I could not include all of them in the actual video. There were some clips I didn’t use, and clips I never ended up getting out of my head and on film, but here is the final result!

Thanks for watching! I sold way more Nuun at the store recently, this just made me so excited! Nuun seems like a really cool company, from what I have seen in videos and blog posts from previous Nuun HTC relay teams. It seems like an unforgettable weekend full of things I love, so I am crossing my fingers until the 17th that I get selected!!! 

Twitter

I am pretty new to Twitter, but I started using it more this past week by hashtagging “nuunhtc.” I found lots of other bloggers who applied for the team that way, and it was fun to watch their applications and read their blogs (which I’m now following)! I definitely need to spend more time using such a great tool for “meeting”/interacting with other runners. It is so different than Facebook, where you wouldn’t friend someone you don’t know in person (at least, I don’t…). I have found myself following runners just like me who have inspiring, entertaining things to say. I still think I’m much better meeting people face-to-face and engaging in conversation with total strangers, but it’s still cool…and different than that kind of “meeting,” anyway. It sounds funny to say I need to spend more time online…I have too many failed technological devices to be hooked to the internet, but I’ll make a greater effort now that I have entered the blog world.

Speaking of failed technological devices, is there a remedy for phone heatstroke? ‘Tis the technology issue of the day…..

 

 

 

nuun htc: DONEZO!

I’m all done with my 2013 Nuun Hood to Coast application! To leave you all in suspense, and also to continue figuring out how exactly to upload it to Youtube (I’m at 73% for my Windows Movie Maker to actual movie file conversion…), here are some teasers:

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My nuun shirt. And costume.

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On location.

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My second home.

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Nuun on a firetruck.

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Sweet Brown.

Get ready.

what I’m learning so far from my nuun HTC application

I did not mention it before, but I am applying to run Hood to Coast with NUUN! I’m not going to lie, this was a big reason for me starting this blog in the first place, or at least, starting it when I did. I had wanted to blog as an outlet for my running ramblings, an extension of my work, and because I have had a passion for writing since before I learned to spell words correctly. When I heard about the opportunity to run HTC with Nuun, I anxiously awaited my turn to apply. The main reasons why I want Nuun to choose me SO BADLY – I’ll put it simply:

1. I love running. That is an understatement.

2. I love relays. River to Sea 2011 was one of the best days of my summer year. And that was a pretty epic and awesome year summer.

3. I love Nuun. I thought it was okay, and didn’t use it regularly, until this past summer, when I noticed how much it helped me during all aspects of triathlon training. From then on, it was a staple.

4. I love meeting new people. Especially runners! They get me. Runners know what that means.

5. I have never been to the West Coast.

6. I have not been on a plane in 5.5 years

7. Let me repeat that:  I HAVE NOT BEEN ON A PLANE IN 5.5 YEARS!!!

I started working on the video last week, and it’s due this Friday. Easter weekend kind of put a dent in things as far as productivity is concerned, because I am relying on other people for a lot of components of the video. I always seem to make things hard on myself….

I’m not giving anything away just yet, but I will say I am learning a lot of unexpected things in the process. Behind the scenes, here’s what I am discovering….

– I am breaking out of self-consciousness when it comes to video cameras. Everyone hates their own voices, am I right? And everyone judges themselves harshly. But screw it. This is supposed to be fun, and I need to just be myself, like I would be if I wasn’t being recorded. So I am, and it’s working out just fine. I’m learning to laugh at myself, deal with my voice and facial expressions on camera, and take risks. It’s been a lot less “OMG, all of Blogland is going to see me, am I smiling enough? The right way? Does my hair look okay?” and a lot more “Is the sound level okay on this clip? Where should I start and end it?” than I thought it would be. I thank Brennan for this.

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Spoiler: the back of my nuun-tube-shirt! I’m taking orders…pick your flavor!

– Windows Movie Maker is FUN! I want to make videos all the time now! For what, I don’t know…give me a reason?

– Making a video application is a lot like blogging. (See, I’m getting the hang of it already!)

– I prefer my Blackberry Torch to any touch screen-only phone, e.g., iPhone or Droid. I like my keys and my screens simultaneously. I also like having an actual camera so that I don’t have to take my phone around in order to take photos (I’m not exactly a phone-attached-to-hip kind of girl when I’m satisfied with where I am and who I’m with at the moment…that is a literal statement, in case of misunderstanding). But iPhones can do some pretty handy stuff. They also seem to never run out of battery. Just saying.

– A LOT happens in five seconds! In ten seconds! In two seconds! Man, these clips are short. And they should be! It’s surprising! Over the past couple days, I have trekked all over town just to film a few seconds of footage! The times I’ve collected more, it just seems too long! Crazy.

– First-year MAE grad students aren’t allowed to play with lasers yet. Oops.

– Chemistry students, however, can do whatever they want.

– If you give a national team rower Nuun to drink after practice for the video clip, she will give back the bottle almost empty, be prepared to reload!

– If you yell threatening things on a busy sidewalk, you must laugh after recording, exaggeratedly so, in order to ward off concerned glances from shopowners and passerbys.

5 x 1600

My college track.

In other news, I just got back from a fantastic Intervals workout. We were hoping to get on the high school track, and I was really excited since I haven’t done an actual track workout (tracks we can use are hard to come by here so we improvise) since…oh my gosh this is nuts…March 2011? As a former track runner, intervals on some other loop, even 5 x 1600 exactly, isn’t a track workout, because that must involve an oval with 6 painted lanes and a real starting line. Anyway, we ended up not being able to go there, and resorted to our normal winter location, where a loop is 1/3 of a mile (AND BRENNAN CAME BACK AT LAST!). I had been tired the past few days, but I was feeling better and decided to aim for 6:22. Why 6:22? That was the pace I have been hitting for my first mile when I go out too fast…in a tempo run and in the half marathon. So, obviously it feels good to my legs for some length of time. If I could hit that five times, that would be reasonable. The rest was three minutes, which I felt was perfect. I started fast from the gates and felt awesome. Kind of like my core and arms were doing the work for my legs, and my legs were just moving to keep up with the engine.

Splits: 6:15, 6:15, 6:20, 6:25, 6:24; Average = 6:19

I paid for the 6:15s as soon as I was done with them, but the deed had been done. I had a feeling 6:15 five times would be ambitious, but I thought I’d still shoot for 6:25 or under, which I did. I felt like this workout made me stronger, and I was not completely dead afterwards. Crazy runner thoughts, mile repeat edition: Could I have really pushed it and hit 6:15 for the last three? Could I run 6:19 pace for a 5k right now, which would be 19:34 which I would love to run? If I ran this fast for this workout, what could I run Yasso 800s in (I was discussing this workout with my aunt on our long run and I really want to try this before May 5th!)? What would that really mean for my potential marathon time? Could I run 3 x 1600 in 6:00?

Does anyone else have a dialog like this post-workout or long run? I’m not complaining, I don’t know what I’d do without it! It’s like an internal personal motivator.

Stay tuned for the outcome of my NUUN HOOD TO COAST application!