Taking a break from the sad

Bitty’s passing is overwhelming so I’m looking at pretty photos that Andy took while we were in Ecuador.

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Bitty’s hanging in there. He has some really good days but the bad days are starting to outnumber the good ones. Despite all of the comforts of his padded bed, the couches, and our bed, he has chosen to spend most of his time in my closet. He’s slowly leaving us. It’s heart breaking and downright cruel to watch a member of your family like this. But at the same time, at least we can spend time with him which is a luxury we didn’t have with Shem.

Bitty’s on a great painkiller that is administered every 8 hours. He continues to eat and drink a little. We are keeping a close eye on him to ensure that he doesn’t suffer. Andy and I try to take shifts so that we can sleep and take breaks outside of the house. But it doesn’t always work out as planned.




My Heart

I had planned on having all of the posts written on our trip to Ecuador by now. However life had other plans. We got home from the airport late Saturday night. On Sunday, we picked Bitty up from the cat hotel he had been staying at. Six weeks earlier, Bitty hadn’t been doing well. The vet cautioned that it could be the c-word. Deep in my heart I knew it was cancer. Despite Andy saying I shouldn’t jump the gun, I knew it.

Bitty hadn’t been eating that much the days before we left. I felt horrible leaving him but at the cat hotel he would have great care. Or so I thought. He was in his carrier when we arrived and we quickly exchanged pleasantries with the owner and then left. The owner assured us that Bitty had been doing very well and had eaten all of his food which meant he consumed 3 small cans of Fancy Feast each day. When Bitty got out of his carrier, I knew this was a lie. Bitty had lost weight while we were gone and looked horrible. And worse, he was limping.

Andy made him a vet appointment while I was at work on Wednesday (Monday was Memorial Day). The vet was prepared to rescan his belly with the ultrasound. The last time, they found a small ‘lesion’ that we all assumed was cancer. This time the lesion was gone! But in preparing him for the scan, the vet had found a mass on his chest. They did an X-Ray and found another mass in his lungs. They didn’t X-Ray his shoulder or hurt leg because it was apparent that the cancer had spread.



How are we supposed to say goodbye to him?


Andy and I are back from our trip to Ecuador. It was an amazing wonderful experience (mostly).


View from the Teleferico in Quito Ecuador

We had a lot of great food.


We saw a lot of cool sites.


Smith Rock Redo

This last Saturday I went back and ran the Smith Rock Ascent 15 Miler and it was awesome. As you might remember, I ran this race a few years ago and it was well…not good. I really love running out at Smith Rock so I decided to give this one another shot.




I ran the entire race without my Garmin. It was dead when I turned it on at the start line. I put my entire pack (and my Garmin was in a pocket) in the fridge which I think drained the battery.  Running without knowing your pace and mileage is surprisingly freeing.

When the race started I was in the back of the pack but totally fine with it. I passed a few people as we ran along the river. I wanted to run faster but knew the course so I decided to play it safe. It was a warmer morning even at 8:45am. The forecast said it would be about 80 degrees by noon which was warm for early May in Oregon.

As we started up the hill beginning our climb, I felt the negative thoughts start to circulate within my head. But I focused on how many squats I had done in the last couple of months, how many hours of hiking and high altitude work, and how fast I had run my last mile (9:29). And amazingly enough — I PASSED PEOPLE!

Don’t get me wrong. Sweat was pouring off me but I felt good. As my stomach churned with the effort, I reminded myself that it was no big deal and this is how I felt when I climbed bigger hills. I drank my cold Nuun and chugged up the hill. I cheered on other runners who weren’t having the best day and joked with others.

Many runners stopped to take photos at the top of the hill but I wanted to beat my time. My goal was to run it in 4 hours. My realistic goal was 4:15 and even at the slower time, I would beat my previous time by about 30 minutes.

My favorite part of the course was running along the ridge. I love the flatter single track trail and the breeze that came up the side of the ridge felt great! Before long, we were at the first aid station. I ran through as I had my pack and no need to stop. I saw Willie and he cheered me on.

I ate a Kind bar while we snaked our way up another hill and before long we were at Gray Butte. I remembered this area very well. It was a motivating factor in my desire to train in the altitude room at Evolution. I stopped at the top of the mountain to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures.




The run/walk down from Gray Butte was slow going due to the steepness of the incline and the size of the rocks of gravel (huge). My legs were a bit tired and shaky but I knew the hard part was over. I stopped off at the aid station for some Sprite which tasted better than unicorn tears. I tried to push the pace a bit as I knew I had a little more than 5 miles to go.

The sun really spotlighted me at that point. I failed to put sunscreen on the back of my neck and back of my arms and started to crisp and burn. Later it would look like I was wearing one small red sleeve on my left arm. Some of the faster 50k runners passed me along the single track trail which was nice as the  15 milers were a bit spread out.

The hikers along the way cheered the runners which always brightens any run. I slipped on the damn slick dusty rock which I tried to hustle down. I hit my ass and then hopped up slightly embarrassed. Running along the river was slow going as the river was full and looked deliciously enticing. I really wanted to jump in.

I hiked slowly up the hill to the finish line and pretended to run across the finish line. I was so excited to see 4:06:01. I beat my time by 40 minutes and 48 seconds. I realize that it sounds incredibly impressive and it is. But when you are slow, you have a great opportunity to make some huge gains. I really want to come back and run this again. My goal will be to run it in 3 hours and 30 minutes. That means I would need to cut 2 minutes off of each mile. But I think it’s doable.

I learned so much from the two races at Smith Rock. You cannot fake hard work. But positive thinking and confidence mean so much. There’s a lot of tall mountains out there. Don’t put one in front of yourself by being your own worst enemy. You have to believe in yourself, do the work, focus, and fully commit yourself to your goal.


By the way, beer tastes so much better out of an earned glass.

An Adventure in the Works

Andy and I are preparing for a another adventure.


Vernonia Half Marathon

I love this race for so many reasons. It’s got a great downhill which makes you feel fast. It’s low key without thousands of runners, it’s a gorgeous course and it’s pretty affordable. I ran the marathon in 2011 and PRed there. That PR still stands. The only bad thing is that it falls on the same day as Peterson Ridge Rumble.

I’ve really been working on my speed this year and wanted to do really well at this half marathon. My goal was to run a 2:20 which would be a 3+minute PR over my half marathon PR which I set in 2011. My strategy was to bring all food and hydration so I could run through the aid stations. I also woke up early and stopped drinking an hour and a half before the race to ensure I didn’t have to stop and use a porta potty mid-race.


Me and Stephanie before the race.

I saw a few people I knew at the half marathon including Stephanie. Both marathon and half marathon are point to point races and you get bused to the start. (Or you can be dropped off). You do end up waiting for a bit of time before the race which was chillier than I expected.

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Overall I am very happy with my performance. I did struggle the last 4 miles and I ran pretty tense throughout my miles. It caught up with me and I had to fight for each mile after the 9 mile mark which you can definitely see:

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The odd thing for me was passing people after the 9 mile mark. A lot of runners started slowing down and I passed them! That doesn’t normally happen for me.

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Oregon Road Runners Club Vernonia Marathon. These photos are free for personal use of the participants as a benefit of the event.


Almost to the finish!

Surprisingly the finish was actually quite emotional for me. I sprinted around the track passing a woman I had leap frogged with for most of the race. She shouted encouragement as I passed her. Runners although competitive are also amazingly supportive. Once I hit the finish line, I started crying.

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It takes a lot of mental focus to run fast which I knew but didn’t know. Most of my races, my goal was to finish. But this in a way is the first race that I’ve actually RACED. At the end my chest hurt from breathing hard, my legs hurt from running downhill and my shoulders ached from my arms pumping so hard and being tense.

My official chip time was 2:13:46. I PRed by more than 10 minutes.