Friday, August 30, 2013

For A Good Time...

A Hood to Coast teammate mass emailed the following cartoon to everyone.  I thought it was hilarious.  And so was the next one...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Post Race Aches and Attitudes

Two days after Hood to Coast I ran 6.77 miles along the Willemette River on the Vera Katz Esplanade in Portland.  It was slow going.  My legs, particularly my quadriceps, were still sore from the race.  The scenic river front had a good amount of walkers and runners.  One girl waved at me as she and her man were running toward me.  Of course, I was suspicious and gave her a "You're a freak" look (New York edge at its best).  As she passed me, I saw she was wearing the same blue Hood to Coast tech shirt that I had on.  I then decided to wave, but it was too late.  She probably already concluded I was a bitch.  And she was gone.

Pedestrians cross on the lower level to get to the other side.

The next day I ran 7 miles on the hotel dreadmill with 6x600s at 5k pace.  Since I was focused on doing my speed work, the indoor workout was, dare I say, enjoyable.  Unlike today's 11 miler.  Yesterday we flew in on the red eye (translation:  I got no sleep once again), so I took the day off.  This morning I was out the door at 8:15.  My whole body felt stiff and my legs felt like they weighed a ton each.  Hopefully, my 12 miler tomorrow evening will be easier.

They call me "Breaking Worse", that's how hard I am. 
(not really)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hood To Coast Race Review

I am still alive!  I survived Hood To Coast and would LOVE to do it again!  Here's the report:

Friday afternoon we drove from Portland through the town of Sandy, Oregon on our way to the start.  This was where we saw our first glimpse of the Hood to Coast runners making their descent from Mount Hood.  Seeing them stirred the butterflies in my belly with excitement.  We stopped in Government Camp, the last little ski town minutes from the start.  I picked up two giant sandwiches and the most decadent chocolate chip brownie at the local market, my sustenance for the next 26 hours.  I was surprised to see young teenage girls walking around in ski gear in the middle of August, but there was snow at the top of the mountain.  While the kids ate their lunches on the side of the road, we cheered on runners and their team vans.  Most of the vans were decorated to the max, competing in both cleverness and obscenity.  One van sported large flags on the roof, each representing a Marvel superhero.  Inside the runners were dressed in masks and capes.   My son loved it.

The first runner spotted near Sandy OR, which also happened to be my first leg (#6).

Government Camp, OR (Beautiful town, strange name)

Me & My Vanmates

Leg #1

After the kids were done eating, we drove up to the Timberline Lodge.  The first wave of runners took off about eight hours beforehand.  I found my team van.  It stood out with its lack of décor, just a white sign taped to one side reading the name of our sponsor, Sound Sports, a Seattle running store.  I met my teammates, four seasoned runners and a young college student who had only one marathon under his belt, an impressive time of 3:08.  I wasn't sure what to expect being the only female in the van.

I bought my daughter a race shirt at the expo.  The race announcer, who had been there since 5:30am still introduced each team ("My Hammy Vice", "Sports Bras and Leggings and Tampons, Oh My" to name a couple) with enthusiasm and good humor.  Each team had a total of twelve runners, six in each van, to cover almost 200 miles divided into 36 legs.  We were Van 1 and our first runner was Paul, a high school principal from outside Pittsburgh.  He had a handful of marathons under his belt, his PR being a ridiculously fast 2:48 in 1989.  Philadelphia was his last which he ran with his son, the college student, Jake, Mr. 3:08.  Leg #1 is all downhill.  Piece of cake, you say?  It is actually rated VH, Very Hard, because of the shredding it does on your quadriceps.  This leg is not for the faint of heart.  It starts at 6,000 feet above sea level and drops down to 4,000 in a little over five and a half miles.  After each runner begins, the van immediately heads to the next exchange where the next runner waits for the hand off.  At this first exchange, a non-participating black truck drove by slowly.  A guy sitting in the passenger seat dressed as a terrorist mimicked shooting all the runners waiting on the side of the road.  The truck then did a U-turn and the terrorist threw a water balloon at a team.  Lovely locals.  I wondered if I had to add becoming a victim of assault to my long list of worries during this race.  Luckily, that was the only crime I witnessed the entire race.

Exchange 1

Do you notice the Honey Buckets port-a-potties in the picture above?  This will be my bathroom for the next 26 hours.  I was hydrating the entire time so I visited one of these about 300 times during the race.  I won't wash my hands with soap and water until the next day at about 3:30pm.

So the rest of my van did their first legs and then finally it was my turn.  It was around 7pm so I was required to wear a reflective vest, carry a flashlight, and wear a front and back LED flasher.  My first leg, #6, was a couple of rolling hills and then a slight descent into the town of Sandy OR.  It was a straight shot along a busy four lane road.  In the first few legs, the runners are directed to run with traffic.  Pretty scary when tractor trailers are whizzing by you at 55 mph.  For about 5 miles I didn't see any runners along the course.  At the end I finally saw two people about a quarter of a mile ahead.  I was able to catch up and pass both of them.  They would be considered my first "Roadkills", the term used to describe the runners you pass during a race.  As I headed toward the finishing chute, the volunteers relayed my number (31) down the line so the next runner would be ready and waiting for me.  Kim from Van 2 and the only other female on our team was screaming my name.  I saw Richard, Runner 7,  for the first time ever, waving to me.  I felt great and wound up doing my 6.75 miles in 50 minutes, a 7:24 pace.

I was runner 6, the last runner in Van 1.  This meant that after I was done, we would drive to our next destination with a few hours to kill while all six runners from Van 2 get their legs in.  These are precious sleeping opportunities.  We arrived in Portland at around 8:30pm.  We all slept in the van.  I was shocked that not one of the five men I was with snored (Pete, take notes!!).  The alarm was set for 11:30 when Paul, Runner 1 would have to go meet Runner 12 for the exchange.  Then all the Van 1 runners would get in our second legs.  Tom, Runner 4, wound up injuring his ankle.  Tom was a college 5 miler star.  His best 10k time was sub- 31 minutes.  Ridiculously fast.  Nowadays he prefers to run 4-5 relays a year.  He runs them easy because he really has nothing to prove.  None of these guys do.  Only me.  Tom was debating whether to run his second leg.  He did, but his ankle got worse as a result.  Jim, our van captain ended up running Tom's third leg.  It is not unusual for someone to run 4 legs  due to a teammate's injury.

My second leg started at 4am.  This was the one I was most anxious about.  I had written out directions beforehand because I read a blog about a girl getting lost last year.  She said there were no volunteers in the middle of the night and no signs telling her where to turn.  I was happy I had these directions.  There actually were plenty of volunteers (Thank you, Awesome People!!!) at each turn, but the runner ahead of me took an early turn.  I might have followed him, if I didn't have my directions telling me I had another half mile to go.  I have to say that the many volunteers during this race were amazing.  I mean who wants to stand outside in the middle of the night telling people where to go?  Not me.  Anyway, not only was this leg pitch black, despite having my flashlight, because it was routed through an unlit residential neighborhood, but it was all uphill.  Not steep, but gradual and enough where I could feel it in my calves.  There was no downhill relief at the end of the peak.  I finished at a high school.  I heard Kim cheering my name and saw Richard happily waving me in.  I ended up doing the 5.23 miles in 42 minutes, an 8:01 pace.

We drove to Mist, Oregon to get some rest and meet Van 2 at the end of their runs.  The ride was only an hour long, but it took another hour of stop and go traffic to get into the campground.  Poor Rick was falling asleep at the wheel while Paul was falling asleep navigating.  Everyone was exhausted.  Once we entered the campground, I hopped out of the van to get on the long Honey Bucket line.  As I was standing there, I realized it may be close to impossible to find my van among the masses in the lot.  I decided I would start panicking after I used the facilities.  Thankfully, I saw Paul walking toward me.  He came over and showed me where the van was parked.

Someone mentioned that the director of the "Hood to Coast" documentary compared the race experience to Woodstock, minus the live bands.  This is where I felt that vibe.  There were vans everywhere, Dick's Sporting Goods had donated a few dozen tents, exhausted runners were shuffling about, people were sleeping, eating, brushing their teeth, dancing to music, changing clothes, sharing stories.

Mist campground

Runner #12 finally arrived and Van 1 was off again.  This last part of the race was beautiful.  The route went up and down wooded mountain roads.  My last leg started out downhill until Mile 2 where there was a 150 foot climb, then the rest was a steady descent all the way to my final exchange.  I felt like I was flying.  I finished my 5.35 mile leg in 38:26, a 7:11 pace.  My fastest pace to date.  I felt great.  I was both relieved and wistful that I was done.

We headed to the grand finish at Seaside, but not without a stop at the local bar in Olney.  The bar was attached to a small gas station.  I believe these are the only two businesses in the entire town.  The bar was packed with Hood to Coasters.  I imagine this one day keeps them open for the rest of the year.

Olney Saloon

Once we got to Seaside I met up with the family.  Van 2 arrived a couple of hours later and we all ran shuffled across the finish line together as a team of 12 and took a team photo.  The congestion was a bit chaotic.  I have to say the after party is probably fun if you're there solo, but it definitely was not family friendly.  There was a gated area for runners to sit around and have beer, but no one under 21 was admitted.  Your family had to basically sit outside the fence and wait.  I had one beer and then went on my way with the kids.

Seaside, OR - The end of the long line

The whole team stayed that night at the Hallmark Inn in Cannon Beach, just a few miles down the road from Seaside.  The hotel is right on the beach.  The next morning we met on the beach and took a dunk in the Pacific Ocean.  This is a team tradition.  The rule is you must get your hair wet.  What's the big deal, you ask?  Well, the water is about 43 degrees.  It actually wasn't as terrible as I was anticipating.  It was a perfect ending to an amazing race.  I am so thankful I had this incredible opportunity.  It was exciting, exhausting, challenging, satisfying, dirty, funny, inspiring, and something that I hope to have the opportunity to experience again.  Just fantastic.

Cannon Beach team post-dip photo

Thanks for the memories, Sound Sports Team #31 HTC13!!  

By the way, our team finished 124th out of 1000.  Not too shabby.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ready Or Not, Here I Am

We arrived in Seattle late Tuesday night.  Because of the three hour time difference, we were all able to get a good night's rest. After our free hotel breakfast, we headed over to McChord Air Force Base in Lakeside, Washington to do my 12 mile run.   I decided to start at the fitness center where a female soldier informed me there was a 7.7 mile trail run on base.  She gave me vague directions.  I went to activate Map My Run on my phone only to discover my 2 year old must have deleted the app completely.  It took almost ten minutes to reload.  Once it was installed, I still wasn't able to use it because there was no available network.  So annoying.

I finally set off on the path.  There were a few unmilitary looking walkers.  I passed the air strip lined with large C-17 globemasters and C5A Galaxies.  I ran through a random campsite with a couple of dozen RVs.  The path went through a brief wooded area.  I heard a small explosion on the other side of the trees.  I saw an open area where firemen in training had set fire to an old military plane and were extinguishing it with a hose.  The paved path ended and turned into a dirt path that ran along the barbed wire fence which enclosed the base.  The dirt path was pretty isolated, however I couldn't think of a safer place to run than on a barbed wire enclosed military base.  Not even a grizzly could get past the armed guards at the gate.  The majestic firs were typical of the Pacific Northwest.  This beautiful sunny day seemed pretty atypical.  I thought Seattle was supposed to be rainy and depressing!  Wasn't Kurt Cobain depressed?  (Too soon?)  Since I didn't have Map My Run activated to clock my distance, I just estimated that one hour and forty minutes of running was probably close to twelve miles.

We went out to dinner that night at Ray's Café which is right upstairs from Ray's Boathouse.  I had the delicious King salmon cooked rare.  Pete's college friend, Michael, a businessman turned amazing educational entrepreneur, explained that the glorious 75 degree summer days in Seattle are the trade offs for the gloomy gray winters.  Michael ran a half marathon last year in Kenya.  Unfortunately, he was not going to run Hood to Coast.

Tad Seder, Sound Sports' team captain (that would be my team captain) was also at dinner.  Again, he tried to convince me that I was not going to get lost unless I tried.  He also informed me that there were no timing chips except for the last leg.  Weird.

No run until race day.

Entrance to the campsite

The charred remains of a retired military plane.

Fire!  Call the fire depart...oh, the fire department set the fire...okay...I guess I'll just watch.  And take pictures.

Not so creepy path

This means I'm safe, right?

Gorgeous day!

Do I look ready?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On Our Way

Yesterday was a boring, flat, local 14 miler that was actually a 13.85 miler.  An 8 mile loop followed by a 5.85 loop.  Decent weather.  Today was a boring, flat, local 12 miler that turned into an 8 miler due to fatigue and flat out ennui.

We fly out to Seattle today.  Hood to Coast race day is Friday.  Wish me luck!  I'm not so much worried about the run.  I do not want to get lost either on my routes or at the exchanges when I am looking for people I had only briefly met hours the large crowds...after running a race.  I suggested the runner to whom I'm handing off the "baton" wear a red and white striped sweater, red wool pom-pom hat, and black rimmed glasses to make it somewhat easier for me to find Waldo.  Still waiting on a response.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What's Your Month?

Many families I know have one month out of the year that is jam packed with relatives' birthdays.  Our month is August ...and the end of July.  Instead of "a month", we have a zodiac sign.  Leos galore.   All last week I was preparing for our birthday "extravaganza".  My son, my two youngest daughters, and my husband all have a birthday within three weeks of each other (I'm not even mentioning my father, my two nephews,  my niece, and my sister-in-law...and my two favorite U.S. presidents...but they never come by for cake).  We opted for the lump sum birthday party.  By the time all was said and done and the last guests left after midnight, I was sapped when I woke up at 7:30 this morning.  I really didn't drink that much, but I was nauseated and had a dull headache.  Either my tolerance is that of an 8 year old or I didn't eat and hydrate properly and paid for it this morning.  No 14 mile run.

I did sign up for the NYC Runs Narrows Half Marathon (See, the day was not a total wash)!  The race is on September 15 and runs along the Belt Parkway near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Our friends invited us to their annual Oktoberfest (In September) party in the Hamptons the day before.  As long as I remember to eat and drink (water), I should be good to go for the race the next day (Fingers I can't hold any beer bottles).  My biggest disadvantage that morning may be the wind.

Happy birthday deeeear Grandpa, Sally, Bobby, Betty, Billy, Tommy,
Janie, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Dave, Jim Jr., Cousin Mary, etc. etc. etc....
happy birthday to yooou!

Does your family have a month or a sign?

Friday, August 16, 2013


In case you were left hanging at the edge of your seat from my last post, I did run my 8 miles a little after 7pm Tuesday evening.  I also did 8 miles Wednesday with 5x800m at a 5k pace.

Yesterday, my friend came by to run my 5 miler with me.  She texted me at 7am to say she would be at the house in 5 minutes.  I never jumped out of bed and got dressed so fast!  My daughter ran with us the first 3 miles.  She did great.  She got a stitch in her side toward the end, but toughed it out and never complained.  The entire run went by very quickly because of the company.  Sometimes it's nice to chat with a friend, forgetting about the time and mileage.

In honor of my day off today, I had a Starbucks skinny mocha and ice cream yesterday!  That's right, "skinny" mocha and ice cream!   The snack of a truly conflicted mind.

Please feel free to share the reason hashtags, aka The Number Sign, exist.  Is it necessary to sum up a 140 character thought?  Doesn't that just shrink your thought at least 10 more characters?  Not to mention, the extra 20 seconds it takes to come up with the little summary of your already little summary.  #What's the point?  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Think I'll Pass

Yes, I'm a wimp.  I woke up at 7:30 and got dressed in my running attire.  I could hear the rain outside.  My oldest daughter, who is finally back home, and my son wanted to run the first couple of miles with me.  I whispered to them that it might be better if they accompany me another day.  The sleepyheads were totally fine with that suggestion.  I came downstairs and looked out the front door.  I wouldn't say it was a downpour, however it was definitely not drizzle.  The rain was steady and unrelenting.  I got on the computer to check the hourly forecast.  The thunderstorms were going to start in an hour and continue throughout the day until 7pm.  7pm it is!

Who's bad?  Not I, said the wimpy runner.

Do you tough it out in bad weather or do you wait until it clears?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Water & Chafing Don't Mix

I started my run before 7am at the Massapequa Preserve.  I did the the first 2 miles at a warm up pace, 8:45,  the next 12 miles at "marathon pace", and then a 2 mile cool down.  My average pace for the 16 miles ended up being 8:22.

When I started out I noticed that every runner I passed for the first 3 miles was Asian.  As an Asian, I am usually aware of the presence of fellow continent-men.  One friendly Japanese man asked me about my tattoo.  He could read Korean.  He knew the other Asian men passing us going the opposite direction.  It turned out most of them were training for the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pennsylvania in early October, followed by New York City.  We only chatted for a couple of minutes and then I moved on.

At Mile 5, I almost stepped on a little, gray mouse.  Ew.

Yesterday, while at the beach I had a good amount of pineapple and melon.  I knew then when I was chowing down that I would likely pay the price during this morning's run.  I was right.  There are no bathrooms for the first 7 miles on the Massapequa/Bethpage bike trail.  Not fun.  I will never eat so much fruit the day before a long run, make that any run more than one mile.

I found where the bike trail continued past the Bethpage State Park parking lot and continued another mile north.  At 8 miles, I turned around.  The run home went quickly, but the chafing on my inner thighs was almost unbearable.  My loose shorts were soaked from sweat which caused huge welts on my legs.  It looked as though someone branded me.  When I got home, I thought a shower would relieve the pain.  Note:  Showers exacerbate the pain TWENTYFOLD!


Some readers have asked if they would able to track me during Hood to Coast.  I was hoping the organizers would have an online tracking system like most larger marathons, but they do not.  I will run with my iPhone and will probably use Map My Run.  I will let you know how to track me through the Facebook page.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I AM Mapquest

Yesterday morning, I finished out my three runs with a 6 miler at an 8:27 pace.  I was pretty sore from the two 7 mile runs the day before.  I ran a total of 20 miles in 18 hours.  I will be running 17+ miles in about the same amount of time for Hood to Coast.  It's definitely doable.  The team captain sent out an email instructing us to read the online handbook and memorize our routes.   I think I'm going to draw a nice map of Leg 18 on my person with a Sharpie.

"I know you want to touch it."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I did 5 on Monday and 6 yesterday.  Today was my mid week 14 miler.  I decided I would break it up for a couple of reasons.  One, I wanted to get three runs in within 24 hours to prepare for Hood to Coast.  I figured I would do seven in the morning, seven in the evening, and then six tomorrow morning.  Second, I didn't feel like waking up at the butt crack of dawn to do fourteen all at once.

Well, I woke up in the middle of the night last night exhausted and decided then I was going to sleep in and run my first seven up at my mother's in the afternoon.  All fine and dandy.  I felt well rested.  Santos went off to camp for three hours in the morning.  I waited.  By the time I picked him up and headed over to my mother's, it was pushing 2pm.  The last thing I wanted to do was run.  I am so much better when I knock it out first thing in the morning.  I did it, though.  The guilt and regret of not running, especially a longer run like fourteen miles, outweighs my laziness almost always.  It would be too hard to make up, plus I lost two runs last week.  I guess twenty years of Catholic school can make you feel guilty about almost anything.

I ran through Plandome and Munsey Park, enjoying the hills.  It was slow going, but nice.  Luckily, the skies were overcast making the 80 degrees bearable at midday.

So my next run would be after Pete got home this evening, anytime after 7.  Yup, the waiting game once again.   Tor-ture.  Every day by 4pm, I am usually ready for bed, today included. I don't ever actually go to bed at 4pm.  I'm just cranky for the rest of the day.   Pete got home at 9 and I raced out the door.

I wore a reflective belt around my waist and carried a small handheld flashlight.  I really think the flashlight saved my life.  I turned it on as cars approached me.  I didn't shine it in the drivers' eyes, but they definitely saw me and avoided running me down.  When I heard a car coming from behind, I held it backwards and I could hear the engines slowing down.

Of course, I had to use the restroom.  It seemed harder to find one at this hour.  Thankfully, the bowling alley was bustling.  I did get strange looks from the bowlers as I walked past sweating like a fat pig.

I finished the 7.44 miles in 1:04:24, an 8:40 pace.  I actually thought I was running faster, but I probably ran more cautiously in the dark.  6 miles early tomorrow morning.  So far, so good.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

20 Miler #1

Yesterday morning I did 10 miles, 6 of them at a 7:57 pace.

And today....was my first 20 miler of this marathon cycle!  I carbed up yesterday with bagels and linguini alle vongole (One of my favorites!).  I also packed two strawberry banana GUs in my shorts and a couple of dollars for Gatorade in my hydration belt last night so I wouldn't forget in the morning.

I was out the door by 6:45am.  I wanted to take it slow, about a 9:30 pace.  I hit Mile 1 at 7:40 - oops.  I took it down a couple of notches and headed north.  I ran through Hempstead where I saw a disturbingly large possum lying on the double yellow lines of President Street.  Cars were whizzing by him, I tried not to look for fear that he might go >POP<.  I continued through Garden City where I hit the 5 mile mark around 47:xx.  I passed through Mineola and New Hyde Park, then finally entered Manhasset via Shelter Rock Road.   The road inclines steadily for a couple of miles followed by a nice downhill to the King Kullen parking lot.  This marks ten miles (Hit somewhere around 1:35 ).  I stopped in and bought a Gatorade to wash down the first GU.  The first ten miles were nice and easy.  Mile 11 on the way back was the toughest and probably slowest.

I saw an elderly woman attempting to cross Shelter Rock Road where she shouldn't.  Although this street has a 35 mile per hour speed limit, many cars push 50-55 (Cops love to give out speeding tickets along this route.  I know this from experience, unfortunately).  I tried to caution this woman from becoming roadkill, but she became belligerent and insisted she crossed here "all the time".  Really?  The handful of "old money estates" have been replaced by gated communities.  Did this lady go "gated community hopping" all the time?  Because there's no place else to go on either side of the road.  Anyway, after she got testy, I decided I was going to let her tempt fate.  I had a 20 miler to complete, after all.  I looked over my shoulder to see that she survived the cross.

I ate my second GU between Mile 15 and 16.

I prepared myself for a bloody scene when approaching President Street on my return.  I kept looking for the possum, but he was gone.  He must have been playing possum when I saw him earlier.  There were no signs of him anywhere.  That was a relief.  I'm not a fan of these nasty looking critters, but I'm less of a fan of dead ones.

The skies were overcast throughout the run and the last mile it rained lightly.  Perfect conditions.  I got back home in 3:01:59.  This is a 9:06 pace.  Too fast.  I need to slow it down about 30 seconds next time.  Long, slow runs are the key to a successful marathon.  The whole point is to get your body used to being out there on your feet for an extended period of time.  Speed work runs are for speed.

The best part of these long runs is when they're over and I can enjoy a nice, fat glass of chocolate milk.  The recovery drink of champions!

Can I get a "yum!"?