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Race Recap: Getting Rugged

I swore I was never going to do it.

I swore there was no way you would ever get me out from the work camera and on a course.

I swore I could not do anything.

And I did it.

Work afforded me the opportunity to jump in at Rugged Maniac at Portland International Raceway. I did this both as my social media peep at Mud Run Guide bringing you the best coverage. But I got to help my friend Dana as she tackled her first OCR.

You start with having the jump a wall to get into the start chute. I learned a lot from watching Spartan last year and I used the support bar and hauled myself up and over.

Without freaking out.

(Last year I freaked out at just trying a wall)

The course is spread out throughout Portland International Raceway. It has the typical obstacles you would expect, climbing ladders, walls, hanging obstacles ect.

My favorite, both from the spectator and from the now done it perspective is zero gravity. You climb up to a platform that has three trampolines that you jump on to move forward until you hit the cargo net wall, you climb up the cargo net and down the ladder.

I may of just saved myself the problem and jumped into the water for the Gauntlet which are these gym mats that make a pathway over the water, while you are ducking punching bags.

I also love frog hop, which are these plastic platforms in the water that you have to traverse while they are only held in place by a few ropes. I crawled…. I noticed the wide stance worked better and went for it.

There was a lot of climbing small mountains of dirt. A lot of climbing out of holes, and a lot of mud. Half of our course was on a motor cross track, and there was a lot of sliding and trying to make

You also have ones that test your fears. Claustrophia puts you in this dark narrow tunnel that you can not necessarily see the end of until you make the final turn. I literally followed whoever was behind me and kept my eyes on the ground.

There was some stuff that I could not realistically do. My grip and my wrist just will not allow for it. One of the things I love about Rugged is if there is something you can not do, its not a big deal. They want you to try (hense a couple I literally just jumped into the water and traversed that way).

And there is the accelerator.

I am afraid of heights. Heights make me cuss a lot. Accelerator actually starts at the warped wall. It was

My Resting Mud Face. Thank you Rugged for the photos.
recommended medically I dont try the wall yet so I took the ladder up (even though I did try a few things I probably should not of). Which led to a climb up Mt. Manaic which is a cargo net that is at an angle that leads up to the final of three shipping containers, which leads you to a super tiny ladder to the accelerator. The accelerator is a waterside that takes you all away down to the ground.

I was ready to scream.

The whole thing I learned is you can not over think it. As long as I put my head down and pushed through I could get through 90 percent of what was in front of me, and if I could not get through I found another way around. I think it was the universes way of reminding me that I could do more as long as I stopped being in my head so dang much about everything.

I will do Rugged again next year no matter where the road leads me (more on this at a later time, this is the third blog I have written in one night). I like it challenges people to push but the pressure is not as competitive as it is as something like a Spartan.

I highly encourage everyone to get to a Rugged near them. It can be a perfect challenge to push yourself no matter what level you are at.

Vancouver America Marathon Half Recap: Pacing Perfection

The goal was simple.

Pace a 3:00 half marathon.

And I was all of 8 seconds over which is as close to perfect.

The Vancouver America Marathon was a new event brought to you by RAM Racing, the same people who are behind Hot Chocolate which is another race which I have a lot of love for (and the second race I ever paced).  It was an unpopular race in general locally, but being I wanted the chance to continue to improve on how I am a pacer for a race. I jumped at the chance.

Packet pick-up was a breeze at Foot Traffic. I was in and out within mins and had my gear check bag.

I had won a race package from Foot Traffic which included pre-race night at the Hilton Vancouver which was a huge treat. I only had two blocks to walk.

We had a delayed start due to issues with the flagging (ironic I just wrote another piece on this). But once the race started this was mostly a gorgeous race. You started through Downtown Vancouver before heading towards Ft. Vancouver. I love running Ft. Vancouver in general and I love it even more when you don’t have to tackle the hill to the waterfront (I consider this a big win). You continued through some of the most industrial parts before heading back to the waterfront. Then you reached my less favorite part of the course, the east industrial area of Vancouver. It was hot at this point and a majority of this was a downhill up hill combo. It just felt brutal at that point and it was lined with some of the most friendly but homeless people you will meet.

This race was super small. And super small on support which is not bad, but if you do this race you might want to bring your own elcectolyetes.

I was on pace almost all away through the race and I was able to encourage a lot of people which is my job when it comes to events like this.

This is the first race for Vancouver America Marathon and there is defiantly room for improvement. I hope to be invited back next year to pace again.

Race to Remember Memorial Day Recap

I am behind on blogs.
I know.
I have been pretty much lacking the motivation or time to work on a lot of what I know I need to work on. That being said, here I go.

I have always said the 10K distance is my achilles heel. I never seem to find my pacing for it. But I also know that for me, its something I want to work on. So when the opportunity came up to run Race to Remember’s Memorial Day Event I decided to challenge myself and see where I was at in a 10K. I talked about it earlier this year. I am not racing as much this year. But I am making the races I do mean something, and this race means a lot to me. Running with the team at Race to Remember gives me a chance to continue my goal to pay it forward as Race to Remembers goals is to honor the lives of our soldiers and our veterans.

The check-in process for this event is smooth, and you can check in the day of.  This is a no-frills race that focuses on bringing the money to veterans based charities.

The start which was at the Veterans Memorial in Vancouver which made for a perfect backdrop. The race featured a half marathon which went out an hour earlier than the 10K and 5K.

This is where this review is going to become complicated so bear with me. Due to a miscommunication the flagger at an important part of the course sent the 5 and 10K runners in the wrong direction within the first mile. This miscommunication forced the 5K into a 2 miler and the 10K into almost a 13K. Claudia, who is not only my friend but a tremendous race director apologized for the problem right away and tried to make it right with runners which shows something I already knew, she has a passion for using this platform to making a difference. I can tell how hard this she took this.

As for me, I decided at the last second to run with the flag, that is something that I love to do even though it, in reality, adds an extra layer of resitance to the run. The route we took was amazing. We went through the Fort Vancouver Historical site (this is the part we should not of done, but oh well it was amazing) and then down the Vancouver waterfront. This is one of my favorite places to run. I caught some really good speed on my intervals until I got to about a 3 miles in, then I needed to shorten it up. I took shorter intervals which still kept the speed right.

There was plenty of support on the course with water and Gatorade.

One of the bike medics caught me and turned me around before I could get too far over the 10K mark. (Some ended up at 15K).

The end of the race features a small spread of food and a beer garden. This is the first year they did age group awards (and I came in third no matter how slow I was).

I did go back out for the Honor Mile which is a mile in honor of those local military lives that have been lost. Carrying the flag

I have talked about this frequently, the Race to Remember races are small. They are put together by a race director driven to give back to the community.  There might of been an issue with this race but it was a solvable issue and something the race already plans on moving foward from.


Note: I was given a free race entry in trade for my recap.







Join Race to Remember at the Hazel Dell Armed Forces Day Parade.

Disclaimer: I am invited to race for free in trade for a little assistance in promoting the races. Any opinions listed in here are that of my own as always.

We Race to Remember.

We Race to Honor.

We race to give back to those who have given so much to us.

I have been honored to be a part of the crew at Race to Remember for a couple years now. This organization led and founded by a friend; Claudia Cardenas works to honor local area Veterans through multiple outreach projects.

In her own words.

“Race to Remember” is the name of our nonprofit, formed in Vancouver Washington 2009 after our founder Claudia Cardenas lost her fiancé Jason Vinyard a 20yr Army Veteran serving at Ft. Vancouver at the time of his passing. “Race to Remember” mission is to support and honor our past and present military heroes. We host several events throughout the year including three races. During every event we host or participate in we remember and honor those who fought for our freedom. Outside of racing we organize military care packages; and engage with the community by coordinating such projects as “Soldier in the Classroom”, “Thank You Cards” and “Books for Soldiers”. Our immediate goal is to form partnerships with local business and other veteran organizations to help us best serve veterans in our communities. Our long term goal is to establish a college scholarship for the Fallen Heroes children and spouses.

The season for Race to Remember starts on May 19th, 2018 as Race to Remember will be hosting a race to kick off the Hazel Dell Armed Forces Day Parade. “The Hazel Dell Parade” always takes place on the 3rd Saturday of May which is Armed Forces Day. The Hazel Dell Parade started in 1964 and is presented by the Hazel Dell Salmon Creek Business Association. In 2017 the lineup featured more than 120 local business & organizations, including 28 middle and high school bands

This 2.2 mile race will kick the parade off, starting from NE 88th in Vancouver near Target, this race will follow the route of the parade. Runners and walkers are invited to participate.

Proceeds from this race will not only go to Race to Remember, but also Lift for the 22 which provides free gym memberships to our veterans to allow them an athletic outlet to heal and connect back into their community.

Race Details: Armed Forces Day Parade

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K (I still hate Aurora Avenue)

I love and love hate being a pacer all in one breath. It is a challenge to get your timing down and sometimes it can be more stress then it is worth.

But then you get to meet and inspire people to push past you and beat their goals.

That… That is worth it.

My third year being a pacer for the Hot Chocolate 15K was defiantly the case of the ups and downs.

I had a late train so I made it to the expo with about 10 mins left on Friday night. I did not have much time to look around. I picked up my bib and then my legacy prizes as this was my third year (pin, medal, hat, special thing for my bib.) and I picked up my shirt. The shirts this year are a quarter zip and they are super small so be aware if you are ordering that they run super small. I actually love the purple of the shirt in general. I did not get a chance to explore the expo as it was already time to go.

Race morning for pacers starts at 6:55 with picking up our signs, shirts and getting final instructions before

Our Pacing Team
taking the corals. I also got to reunite with some of the Skirt Sports sisterhood which always leaves me feeling stronger and better off.

There was only one slight major change from last years course and that was the finish which I will run through later.

The art of pacing this course is knowing when to bank and when to stay steady. The first couple miles down back behind Pikes Place Market is an up and back on its way to Aurora Avenue.

I mentioned Aurora Avenue in the last two years recap; once you get past the Mercer Island Bridge it becomes tough. It is a pretty straight up climb to the top of the hill and that climb is almost a mile up. Last year I hit the hill later then I should so it ended up costing me a of mad dash running.

I hate that stinking hill. There is no good approach to that hill other then knowing that no matter what you do it is going basically kick your butt.

But this year I went into the hill with a 1 min. bank which is what I had set the goal for. This way I could pull back on the hill and save energy for the last few miles.

I had people with me through out the race. Most people set the goal to be in front of me which is ultimately awesome.

The course itself is scenic at points (especially Mercer Island Bridge) and getting to run the back end of Pikes Place is a trip. Hot Chocolate is also a very well supported event that has water stations properly spread out and staffed.

I came to mile 8 within 10 seconds where I should be. But I did not realize that mile 7 ended up short because they made up between 8-9 and 9 was .3 long and it knocked me off pace.

The finish line moved from the mid point of Seattle Center to right next to MOPOP (Museum of Pop Culture or Experience Music Project). You filtered through to get your medal and you could get some water before heading back to get your bag from bag check and then head to get your Hot Chocolate mug which has goodies you can dip in chocolate.

You also had the chance to get some post race photos, shop in the race shop, get goodies from sponsors ect.

I enjoy this race. But I enjoy pacing even more. A lot of people came to me thanking me for being out there and being willing to run. Right there, that is worth it. Being able to give back to a sport that I love so much and really feel like I am making an impact.

I will be back. And I think I can do even better next year.

Race Recap: Not such a love letter when it comes to @SeattleMarathon

What is the opposite of a love letter?

A Dear John Letter..

A few years ago I wrote a love letter to the Seattle Marathon. Those words at the time had been true. This year…. Well I will let the letter explain it.

Dear Seattle Marathon:

This weekend did me in.

You actually got me to question my love for running.

This year you announced a new course change and the words keep hearing are brutal, awful and relentless. From the second you make the turn off fifth avenue it feels like either you are dealing with a constant uphill climb or a violent sharp up hill. There had been a few downhills but there was no way to find your pace or your stride. The old course would give you chances to recover and get into a stride.

The time on the trails in Sam Smith had been heart breaking. So many runners on a wet path, it was congested and dangerous. I was going at a pretty good clip but got a couple shoves from behind because the path was so crowded. It was heartbreaking and frustrating all at the same time

I never thought I would say this. I miss #whathill. You could pace yourself and be ready for that beast.

I am glad you had such a dedicated crew of volunteers and medical crew. They made that race. They had been encouraging when it seemed like it was time to throw the race away.

I am really proud of how hard I fought through it and finished strong even though mentally I was just shot. But I left the race not excited. I left it flat and not loving running so much.

Your bling left me feeling uninspired and the white shirt is just not something that I would wear on a normal basis. The expo seemed smaller this year as well.

I love you Seattle but this is the first time I have come out of a race wanting to rethink my love of running. I still kept within my goal time frame but it was because of the first three and the last two miles and I was on the super slower end of my window.

I don’t know if I am coming back to you next year. We will see. It will take a lot of rethinking of training and running to convince me to come back in 2018.

– Its not you.. Its me.

Post Script: I really do love the Seattle Marathon and will always consider it a major part of my journey. this year was rough. I know this race is capable of being an amazing crown jewel of the city of Seattle. I was just very disappointment this year and am rethinking my next year plan.

Race Review: Race to Remember Veterans Day: 11K might be fun?

I hate 10K’s.

I have been pretty clear before, its my least favorite distance on the planet.

So I have to admit, the idea of a 11K was not totally exciting to me. But I do love Race to Remember and I love what they do to support our local veterans so when the opportunity came up to join them I was not going to turn it down.

Race to Remembers mission: (From their website)
The purpose of our “Race to Remember” is to make sure that our communities Never Forget the sacrifice(s) that our brave men and women of the military make to protect our Freedom. We currently organize three races, Race to Remember for Veterans Day, Race to Remember for Memorial Day and United We Stand for 9/11. In addition to racing we organize and participate in other events that honor and support our Veterans like Military care package drives, Honor Flight flag escorts, Honor the Fallen Events, Veteran moving assistance, as well as providing opportunities for our local youth to better understand the true meaning behind the Veteran and Memorial Day Holidays. Our ultimate goal is to build partnerships with other organizations in our communities and throughout the nation to help us honor and support our past and present Veterans. As a long term goal we are also working towards establishing a scholarship for the children and spouses of fallen veterans.

Part of this is their two major races along with a few smaller community runs through out the year including the Veterans Day Run.

The event was the kick off to the annual Veterans Day Parade at Fort Vancouver. It featured an early half-marathon and a 11K and 5K that started closer to the kickoff.

All three courses took you through the best parts of Vancouver, Washington going down through the historical Fort

The course was peaceful and amazing.
and down on the Columbia River (other then the climb exiting the Fort which zero people really enjoy especially in the rain as it gets slick and the combination of slick and climb. Yeah not really). Its scenic and shows off some of the best parts of the Pacific NW.

Now something to be aware of. This race is super small, super well supported and improves every year. (Its actually quickly becoming one of my highlights of the year.) But that being said, there had been some little glitches but its stuff every race faces (Note to self: Bring safety pins for bib next year). But one thing I love about Claudia as a race director is she wants to know how to get better and does every year.

I went out too fast at the start and I knew it later, but I was feeling strong. My first three miles had been well above my averages but it was raining and I was cold and I wanted to get going.

And I paid for it right at about mile 3.5 I was just dead and slowed down. The turn around could not come soon enough. Despite the rain they had a great group running the water stations and just enough to make the distance berable without having to bring my own.

I picked it back up in the last mile and a half and pull an 11:45 mile off for that race which is great for me and

Finish Line
faster then the 10K from a few weeks ago.

The post race was small but had everything you needed to replenish and get your energy back (including beer).

Race to Remember is defiantly a smaller race that has the potential to continue to grow and get better every year. I am excited to see where the next few years take them and I will be supporting their next steps.

Note: I receive a free entry to the race in trade for some extra social media love. These opnions are that of my own (I would be running it anyhow).

Race Recap- Run Like Hell 10K: The Story of Two Races

I hate the 10K distance.

I think I have actually said it before in my blog. The 10K is the vein of my existence. I always feel clunky and horrible on the distance.

The opportunity popped up to run the Run Like Hell 10K. I have ran this 10K before, before the course changed and came out of it wet, cold but determined. I was curious about how the new course played out.

And it is literally the story of two races.

The first I would say three miles of the course is rough. It feels like you are in constant climb mode. I struggled with the first three miles as I had not been racing since SF. I just was not ready for that kind of climb. I was actually on the rougher end of my personal worst for mile times.

I have never been the biggest fan of any of the events Terrapin has done, but this course was very well supported.

Run Like Hell 10K
There was water and electrolytes ever mile and a half or so which was placed perfectly. They also worked hand and hand with Tri-Met to keep the mass transit interruptions down to a minimum.

It was an out and back course which means the constant climb up was rewarded with a great down climb.

I was down mentally after the first three miles but found someone who was at a pace that I felt like I could hold for awhile so I reset my goal and decided to pace with him. And I found that as long as I didnt push myself to go faster I was actually picking up speed every mile.

It defiantly felt like two races for me. The first half was not fun, but the second half felt like my rebound.

The post race is excellent. You get your medal and have a chance to pick up your clothes and a free loaf of bread and grilled cheese bites (thank you Franz that was excellent) and head to the beer garden to enjoy your two free beers and the music. Everything flowed so beautifully and nothing was congested.

Despite the rough start I really enjoyed the race. Its a good challenging course with having some easy stretches, you can challenge your pace but its also challenging to find that pace. Its really well supported and has everything you need.

I might be coming back to Terrapin next year.

Preview: AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk

On October 7, walkers will take to the streets of Portland for the Out of the Darkness 5K Walk. This walk is a special event of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide.

This is the largest fundraiser for AFSP every year. To quote them because they can explain it better then I ever can.

“The Out of the Darkness Walks are proof that when people work together they can make big changes in the world. They are AFSP’s largest fundraiser – they produce millions for suicide prevention programs, unite those who have been affected by suicide, and create communities that are smart about mental health”

There has been a lot of talk about suicide in the last few months and a lot of mis-conceptions about it. There are many faces, many stories behind suicide.

The walk will start at Veterans Memorial Colosseum and take the waterfront loop from the Eastbank Esplanade, out to the Hawthorne Bridge and then across the river to the west side, through Waterfront Park and back to the Steel Bridge and across.

You can find out here more: AFSP Portland

Recap: Old Glory Relay

For the second year Oregon has played host to the Old Glory Relay. The short explanation, one single American Flag will travel close to 4,600 miles across the US by veterans, members of Team RWB, family and friends via running, walking and bikes. It is to raise funds and awareness for Team RWB to be able to help veterans find support and strength in their community.

I had the honor of being able to run for the second year. This year I was given the opportunity to take part of my long run training route which had me excited, at the last second I also learned that I would not be tackling the course alone as I had two other lovely ladies who had been around my pace that they needed to bring together.

Our trek started right off of N. Vancouver in Hayden Meadows. Due to the nature of the event, we ended up taking the flag considerably later then originally planned which made for a lot of pent up energy (and a lot of giving our team leader his share of heck).

N. Vancouver can be a bit of a highway for trucks and carrying the flag, plus I had brought my own flag with me (which made it really hard for people to ignore us). It was amazing to hear the honks, cheers and support, You are carrying something that brings people together. Your carrying what represents the best of us. It also had the case of the never ending hills. (Seriously, most of our two miles was UPHILL) Our run was more like a march, but we took the time to cherish every second of it.

It also brings us together. There will be more then 6,000 hands on that flag to get it to its final destination in

New friends after the handoff.
Tampa on Veterans day. You make friends with people you never met who are cheering for you as we are working on the same goal, honoring our veterans and the flag.

If you ever get the opportunity to participate or witness it, this is something that will change your perspective on the world.

You can find out more about Old Glory Relay and get involved remotely: Old Glory Relay.