Category Archives: running

Autumn Leaves 50k Race Report

Originally I wasn’t going to run this race. But then I started hearing about how much fun it was, how great it would be to run a race the day before my birthday (instead of being happily inebriated), and then Sarah Duncan tempted me with a birthday cake. So I caved to the pressure (of cake!!) and signed up knowing that it would be my last race of 2011. Well, maybe my last race.

My goal for Autumn Leaves was to have fun and run this 50k faster than I ran Hagg Lake back in February. I ran that race so slowly I knew I could do it. After the Bend Marathon, I didn’t run all that much. I hurt my knee three weeks ago when I fell at the bowling alley. That really concerned me because my knees were really starting to hurt again. And then there was the plantar fasciitis that was starting to develop in my left foot.

Friday evening, I got all of my stuff ready including my drop bag and food. I ate my usual dinner of pizza and beer and was in bed before 9pm. I actually got a great nights sleep thanks to the sleeping pill I took. Usually I can get to sleep but will wake up several times during the night and at least one hour before my alarm is set to go off. I got up at 4am and ate my banana, hard boiled egg, and cheese. I drank my large cup of coffee and met my ride: Kristin.

It was foggy at 5:15am. Really, really foggy. We finally found Champoeg State Park and were greeted by two enthusiastic members of our running group: Gina and Travis. It was colder at Champoeg than at my house. Thankfully I had brought a pair of long stretchy pants, a jacket, and a long sleeved shirt for after the race. I put the pants on and ended up wearing them for 95% of the day. During check in (number 212), we saw so many people we knew. It was like a big party…with running…and fog.

It was a 50k and 50 mile run. You ran out 3.x miles and then ran back. So each loop was 6.x miles. To get my 50k in, I needed to do this 5 times. 90% of it was on asphault with 10% of it on trail. There were a few hilly areas but mostly it was flat. We started off running with our headlamps on and it was so foggy you couldn’t see much. So we all joked that it would be great because by the time we woke up and the fog cleared up, we’d have at least 2 loops in!

There were so many supportive families and friends that parked their cars in the lot. It was almost like a tailgating event but without the face painting and beer. Someone even had a fire in a little pit. It was pretty awesome. The aid stations had the best food: Paydays, Coke, candy, sandwiches, fruit, chips, gels, etc. I felt very confident in my decision not to carry anything with me.

The first two loops, I felt very slow and sluggish. My legs just didn’t want to go any faster. Kristin’s pace was faster than mine so she ran ahead. Poor thing was suffering from some type of intestinal distress so there were quite a few porta-potty stops for her. She would run ahead and visit the porta-potty and by the time I got up there, she was ready to run again. By the time we hit the 3rd loop, we had lost each other. The third loop was definitely my best loop. I had grabbed my iPod, dropped my long sleeved shirt and was making a pretty decent pace. A lot of my friends were out volunteering at our running group’s own aid station which was also stocked with cupcakes, bread, chips, etc. (This race had the BEST volunteers of any race I’ve ever run!)

By the 4th loop, I was starting to feel the mileage in my hips, legs, and specifically my knees. My pace had slowed but I was still in good spirits knowing that I had less than 13 miles to go. I kept chanting to myself “This is better than being at work, this is better than being on the couch.” I kept reminding myself how good it was going to feel to sit down and drink a beer after I was done. I constantly checked my watch it see where I was at goal wise. In my heart of hearts, I was hoping to finish the race in 7 hours. But as I finished up my 4th loop, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.

For my 5th and final loop, I ditched my iPod, hip pack, and pants. Thank goodness Rose Bak was there to let me balance against her while I was taking off my pants. A good friend helps you take off your pants after you’ve run 25 miles.Sarah Duncan asked me if I’d like her company during my last loop and of course I said yes! I love running and hanging out with her. She’s such a laid back person. She’s awesome. Then before I knew it, Lynne Gibson was out there with us after finishing her 50k!

Sarah and Lynne were fantastic. They kept up lively conversation which really helped pass the time. We gossiped and joked about a variety of topics. They kept telling me how great and strong I looked. I was so happy to have them with me. The last mile of the race was super tough. The finish line seemed to get farther and farther away!

Finally I started seeing cars and then friends cheering for me. Honestly, hearing people cheer your name is one of the greatest things in the world. At that moment nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter how you feel, how slow you are, or how exhausted you think you are. You actually speed up as if drawing from their enthusiasm. And I sped up. Not a lot but I sped up. I also starting smiling again because damn it, I was going to finish the race with a smile on my face (thank you Anna!)

Then I saw Andy. And my heart leaped up into my throat. I wanted him to see me finish the race. I wanted him to see me accomplish this.


Nothing has ever tasted better!

Everyone who volunteered was awesome: Anna, Garth, Travis, Gina, and Sarah. My fellow runners were inspirational: Amy, Liz, Lynne, Sarah, Karen, Dorothy,Mark and Steve Walters. I don’t usually want to run the same race twice but I’m going back next year! And hopefully Jodi Cullen will be there too. You were missed Jodi!

And yes, I hit a personal record with this race with an official time of 7:35:13. So I beat my Hagg 50K time by an hour and ten minutes.

Autumn Leaves 50K Teaser


Post race celebration

Running in the Dark

Last night was the final race of the Portland Trail Series. I had my first running in the dark experience. I’ve run at dusk and early in the morning but not in the pitch black of a forest…on a trail….by myself…with only a headlamp and courage. It was a little scary, creepy, and somewhat exciting.

Portland Running Chicks

I have my 50k race on Saturday so I wasn’t going to go full out on this race. I was the slowest in the group (at least I thought so) and ran by myself which wasn’t so bad. It was around 5.3 something in terms of mileage so it wasn’t too hard. The race was an out and back. It was really cool to see all of the headlamps snake their way around the turns and up and down the hills. Until the fast ones aka everyone in the race, made their way back. I got spotlighted by numerous headlamps and had to jump to the side of the trail to let faster runners pass – something I dislike doing.

I turned around and told the volunteer that I thought someone might be behind me but I wasn’t sure. As I continued to run back, I didn’t see anyone else. So I told the last volunteer that I was the last one so she left her post and followed me to the finish line. It turned out that there was someone else on the trail. How I didn’t see her, I don’t know. I should have.

Along the trail, I only tripped a handful of times which is normal for me. I didn’t fall. Yay! I did get creeped out by the sounds I heard and at times, wondered if I was still on the trail. I learned that its not the best idea to listen to music while running in the dark by yourself so I put my iPod away pretty early on in the race.

I’m glad I got the chance to finally run in the dark. If you run in the dark on trails, run up the hills and go slow on the descents. But that’s just my advice.

Bend Marathon Race Recap

All through running the race I kept trying to think of funny names for this post. I came up with quite a few and it was dependent upon exhaustion level as to how funny they were. Names like: “Oh my God will it ever end” and “There is a small child on my chest preventing me from breathing”. Yeah. I guess you had to have been there.

Bend Marathon was hard. I knew it was going to be but man. It was hard.

Getting ready

The hard part of the race was two things: 1) Running at a higher altitude. I knew it would affect me but didn’t really know how to prepare for the affects.2) The climbs. There were two mighty climbs that came at cruel moments. The first big climb was at at 9.9 mile mark. I had to walk part of this as it was a hilly 2 mile climb. By the time I hit this climb I had all ready gone through the serious doubt I had from miles 3-6 as to what business I had being out there. There I was all alone except for another runner who was dialed into her iPod. I was struggling for breathe and trying to glide. I ate a gel and from mile 6 to about 8 I felt really good. Starting at 8 there was a slight incline that got much steeper at the 9.9. At mile 10 I walked because I felt like I was dying of thirst and my heart was beating really fast. At the next aid station I stopped and drank several glasses of water. I felt better but my heart was still beating too fast and my stomach hurt.

That lasted until I got to the halfway mark. My goal was to run the marathon in less than 6 hours. I wanted to cross the finish line with a smile on my face and to have a good time. I hit 13 miles at around 2:38 or so. I felt pretty awesome. I ran more and more still feeling pretty good until I got to about 16 miles. Then I started seeing the dogs. At first I thought I might be hallucinating. I mean there were like 6 of them and they all looked the same. Then I saw a creepy guy standing in the middle of the farm road with all these dogs. Then I knew I was just in the country. The dogs followed him to a small house off of the road. I started running again.

At 16 miles I started to alternate walking and running. I knew I had a huge climb at the end of the race and needed to save a bit of strength for that. From there until 19.3 not much happened. I ran, I walked, I waved at people, I jumped into the ditch when drivers didn’t want to share the road, I groaned, and tried to smile.

Then I hit mile 20. There was no wall. Only the beginning of a very long hill. It was one of those that just seems to go on and on and on and on. Each mile I ran/walked seemed like a huge victory. I was tired. Very tired. And I still had over and hour and a half to go before I’d be done. I ate a fig bar. It was pretty awesome. My back hurt, my lungs hurt, my IT Bands hurt…..I could go on and on about what hurt. I remember at one point muttering to myself, “Well, you wanted a challenge…”And challenge I got.

I was monitoring my pace very carefully to ensure that I would make my goal. On the downhills I ran as fast as I could without blowing out my legs. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Your legs are shaky and not at all dependable. You just kinda pray that your knees will be captain and keep everything in line. On the inclines, I walked as fast as I could. It was hard.

From miles 23-25, it was the hardest part of any race that I’ve ever done. It was a monster of a hill that was long, windy, and just sucked. I just kept going telling myself that in less than an hour I could sit down and have a beer.
I didn’t really care about the beer. I just wanted to be done with running. At mile 24 I burst into tears. Usually I don’t cry. I’m too tired or too dehydrated. But not this time. I had a mini melt down. I kept chanting how much farther I had to go. And doing my weird little run shuffle up the hill.

So I get to a traffic circle where there are flaggers directing traffic away from the construction equipment. I didn’t realize that the young lady jumping up and down with the stop sign was trying to get my attention. It appeared that I was running the wrong direction. My bad. So I followed there direction and ran up a sidewalk to God knows where hoping that I was on the right path. The path that would lead me to a chair, finishers medal and a glass of water. Finally I saw a young woman who let me know I was right in front of the 26 mile mark. I wanted to hug and kiss her.

I saw the chute and my husbands car. Eureka!! I was almost done. I turned the corner and ran for the finish line spotting Andy and his camera along the way.

So I didn’t quite my make goal of six hours. I finished at 6:01:10. Over all I’m pretty pleased with my performance. There was no 3 mph death march at the end.I ran a pretty consistent speed the last half of the marathon which is something I’ve never really done. I realize that I should have had a handheld water bottle as I was dehydrated for the race due to a stomach ailment I had been battling for the last few days. I’m pretty sore and tired but think I may like to run the marathon next year. If I do, I will go out to Bend and run a few times.

After the race, I got cleaned up and Andy took me out for some pizza and beer.

We’ve Come So Far, Haven’t We?

The International Athletics Federation, the sport’s governing body, has passed a motion to change the standard by which female athletes achieve world record performances in road races.

According to The Sun the ruling would be retroactive meaning that the IAAF will be stripping Paula Radcliffe of her 8 year record!


Radcliffe had male pacers. If you’ve ever had a pacer, you know that having a pacer does help you push yourself but doesn’t guarantee anything. Race Directors from some of the top races in the world: London, Boston, and New York have stated that they won’t adhere to the IAAF’s decision.

I only know of one all women’s marathon and that is the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fransisco. When I Googled: All Women’s Marathons I did get results.

In my opinion this is a step back in history: women competing against women. In ultrarunning you see women like Pam Reed win events like Badwater that allow women and men to compete against each other. I enjoy running races with men. I competed in a triathlon that was all women. It was fun but seemed odd. We work with men, go to school with men, shop with men, get our hair cut by men – why shouldn’t we compete against them? Hopefully the IAAF will change their minds and allow racing to stay in the 21st Century.

Portland Trail Series

I signed up for the Portland Trail Series to supplement my training for the Sisters to Bend Marathon. We start in Forest Park at 6:15pm and run anywhere from 5-8 miles. You get points, there are raffles, etc. Many of my friends from the PDX Running Chicks group have signed up so its pretty great to see so many familiar faces.

Some of the lovely ladies from PDX Running Chicks

Last night we ran 6+ miles starting from Lower Maclay and ran up Wildwood toward Birch trail. I had never been on Birch trail before. This is my peak training week for the marathon which is very hilly (yep. I keep saying it!). So I’m running as much as I possibly can and not get injured. Earlier in the day, I ran two other workouts to get as much mileage in as I could. By the time the trail series rolled around later in the evening, I was running on some tired legs.

I ran the 6+ hilly miles at a 13:02 pace. I was shooting for at least 12 minute miles. But it wasn’t to be. I alternated between being angry at myself for not running faster, being thinner, and basically being better and telling myself it was okay. This was a training run to prepare me for a larger more important goal. I reminded myself that this was probably the first run of the day for most of these people. And lastly, I told myself at least I was out there running.

I know I’m making some great progress on my training. I see it in my times and endurance. But I cannot help but wish that the results were better. And I cannot help but wish that I was better. The farther you dream, the farther you need to go to get them. All told, I ran over 13 miles yesterday. That’s pretty good for a midweek run that was split into 3 different sessions.That’s pretty good, right?

Run complete!


We went up to the Sisters/Bend area today to scout out the marathon course. Due to a nearby forest fire, it is smokey over there!

No haze just smoke.

We stopped off at Deschutes Brewery for a few beverages before driving home:

As we entered the Warm Springs area, it started raining. The sky was really interesting. There were thick clouds of smoke and then thick rain clouds. It almost looked like a scene from Hell. Unfortunately the pictures didn’t capture the dramatic nature of the sky. I guess it was one of those – you had to be there moments.

Running MoJo

Sometimes we wake up early in the morning and just don’t feel like running. So we might move our schedule around to take a rest day. Then the next day we still don’t feel like running so we might get on the trainer or go to Zumba. The days get away from us and before we know it, we haven’t either run in several days/weeks or the past few runs have been lacking in that spark that kept us running through the rain, snow, and heat in previous years.

Here are a few resources to help you get your running mojo back!



Second Wind

Inspirational Books

Born to Run

Running Through the Wall


“Without Limits”

“Chariots of Fire”

“Running Brave”


“Running on the Sun”


“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” Steve Prefontaine

“Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can.” Lowell Thomas

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” Booker T. Washington

“The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do.” Walter Bagehot

Sister to Bend Marathon Training

October 1st I will be running the Sisters to Bend Marathon. I have less than 59 days to get my body into top shape for this adventure. The first ten miles of the course looks to have some nice rolling hills. But after the ten mile mark, but the next two miles there is a steady elevation gain of over 200 feet. Then a half mile of running downhill (wheeeee!!!) Then there is a steady even patch followed by another downhill part. In most races, if there is downhill running there is usually a pretty nice hill waiting for you and your tired legs. This race is no different.

At 19.2 mile mark runners will hit the lowest point of the race. The next 7 miles will test the resolve and fitness of every runner on the course. The course goes from 3225 feet and finishes up at 3766 feet. So in order to prepare for this, I’ve been running at Forest Park each Wednesday as well as on Sunday. I’ve increased my weightlifting as well as incorporating two days where I workout 2 times a day. I’ve also been practicing my incline walking as well as using the stairmill. I’m also paying very close attention to my diet. You gotta feed the wolf. And the legs feed the wolf.

My goal is to finish the marathon in less than 6 hours with a smile on my face knowing that I trained as hard as I could. No three mile an hour death march for me. I will work hard enough to meet my goals. I will do what it takes: use my lunch hour to train, continue to lift weights, do 2 interval runs per week, and do my incline training. I will train hard but also smart making sure I stretch as well as cross-train to avoid injury.

Stay tuned as the time starts to tick down.

Freedom Half Marathon

The Freedom Marathon and Half Marathon was the second in a series of 3 Independence Holiday fun runs. The race director was a super nice guy Steve Walters who is one of the most inspiring runners I know. Steve currently hold 8 stars in Marathon Maniacs. He runs a lot of marathons usually at least one a weekend. One weekend he ran two marathons in one day. Not only is he a serious runner but he’s a very, very nice man. So when he announced he was the RD for this race series almost everyone I knew signed up for at least one of the races.

Originally I was planning on running the full marathon. Between work and vacation, I wasn’t able to dedicate as much time to training as I needed to. In Europe, I spent a fair amount of time stressing about the race which was one week after we came back. Running is my way to help deal with stress. So if I’m spending a lot of time stressing about running, that seems really stupid. So I decided to drop down to the half. I sent Steve an email while in Europe and he graciously allowed me to change my race.

After we got back from Europe, I felt a lack of motivation to train. I did run several times in the week before the half marathon but not with the passion I have in the past. To be honest, there are just other things that have my attention right now. I’m thinking about grilling, camping, hiking, and traveling now.

Saturday was overcast and slightly chilly – my favorite running environment. The race took place on the Spring Water Corridor – which I’ve spent numerous hours on running and biking. I hung out with Jodi and Gina before the race. Jodi was running the full and Gina was there supporting the runners. Esther also showed up. It was great hanging out with the ladies just chatting and catching up on the latest news.

Esther and I ran together for a few minutes and then we split off. The first 6 miles went great. I felt really good. My iPod freaked out and the battery was suddenly dead. But that was okay because the birds were chirping. I was closely monitoring my pace and was hitting about a 11:20 pace. That was definitely going to help me PR this half. Mile 7 and 8 were at a 11 mile pace which made me really happy. I was chasing a group of people that had a nice consistent pace.

Then after that I really started to feel the mileage. My glutes and hips started hurting. Part of me couldn’t believe it. In less than ten months I had run four marathons and a 50k and here I was hurting at mile 9?!! But the other (larger) part of me knew this was the result of my lack of training.

I felt like I really struggled after that. Each mile was a bit slower but finally I saw the marker for one more mile. I really tried to speed up but just didn’t have a lot in me. I wish I would have had someone running with me to help motivate but at the end of the day, you have to motivate yourself and not rely on others. I ended up PR the race with a finish of 2:24:20. I really think that with a few weeks of hard dedicated training, I could run a half in 2:15. My dream is to hit a 2 hour race. Time to get on my way so I can get some stuff done so I can run a short recovery run tonight.