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.
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 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.
How do you take Portland’s iconic Portland International Raceway and turn it into a dreamland?
Ask the folks behind the scenes at the Color Run. They have that magic. And that magic gets better every year.
Ill say it early this year. This is not the run for you if you want to be fast and serious. But you need to do one once in your life time. You will understand it. This is the time for you to be a kid and just have fun. It is best said on their website.
Less about your 10-minute-mile and more about having the time of your life, The Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed event in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. With only two rules, the idea is easy to follow:
1 Wear white at the starting line!
2 Finish plastered in color!
Before I go any further, I need to give The Color Run a lot of kudos. There have been huge issues with races and communication in the local area and a week before is when the Eagle Creek fire hit the Pacific NW and Portland was a mess of smoke, haze, soot ect. They stayed in constant communication with participants about their plans.
I was a little worried this year as I was not able to do an early packet pick-up. But we got to packet pick up on Saturday morning and it was super easy and manned by some of the happiest volunteers I have seen at races. Our group changed into our white shirts and headed straight for the start line.
I have said this several times before in talking about The Color Run. They have the start line down to a science. They let groups of runners out ever 5 or so mins. You are never feeling crowded, rushed or clogged. The DJ knows how to keep your energy up and entertained. The weather unlike last year was amazing.
This years first color was not a color at all. It was foam! Two blue unicorns greeted you and Foam machines turning the road way into a pile of fun suds. Seriously you felt like you had been walking on clouds, and the foam was everywhere.
I might of been acting like a kid here.
The common theme with the Color Run is they get better EVERY year. This year was the first year they actually had mile markers out on the course. Also music was spaced at random places where you could get your groove on. Also water station was placed right at the half way point. The only issue I had and I think I say this every year.
We continued on through the color stations. Every station was a mini party that this year had its fair share of dancing color throwers. This year they introduced a new color, purple. Also they introduced with Cricket a Cricket color zone which would dump green on you from above.
The finish line you got your UNICORN MEDAL (you heard me, I said UNICORN) your color packet and post run water. Lays had their new popables for your post race snack.
Then you could enjoy your post race party with limbo lines, dancing and of course the famous color throw.
I will do this EVERY year. It is fun to see families out together enjoying getting active, its fun to go dancing through the color zones. It is seriously the most fun I have being active all year.
You can find out more about The Color Run: It is an affiliate link, be warned
My 6th Full Marathon and my 4th year as an SF Marathon Ambassador was truly the race that had it all and then some.
The SF Marathon celebrated its 40th year. Its a race that takes you on a speculator tour through one of the most scenic places in America. Its been the point in my year I look forward to most every year. It is one of the best races in terms of organization.
I was supposed to run my 6th marathon two years ago and then my back started acting up. I backed down to the half and then life got in the way. And then I decided to finish my business with SF by signing up for my 6th this year. And then training fell apart. Two months ago I was debating on downgrading, hell I was contemplating downgrading at the expo. I honestly did not think I could do it. But after talking with friends I stepped back and decided to enjoy the run. My hope was to finish close to 2014’s time.
Looking back I am glad I pushed through and did it. I am still sore, but I am happy knowing I have made number 6 happen, and I proved to myself I could still dance.
My race started off slightly strong. I have learned a lot in the past years about pacing myself and am finally starting to understand not going out to fast. I was enjoying the first miles on the SF waterfront and I was taking it into the point that I actually did not remember to take photos. I was enjoying it.
The first hill is right after mile 2 and some refer to it as the “Fort Mason Death March” its a straight up climb to the top of Fort Mason. I went in knowing that my hill training was never going to be enough to cover it so I did a slower jog to get up and walked the rest of it.
Marina Park and Chrissy Park are my second favorite miles of the course. Its just the runners out there and you have a great view of the water. I was actually almost faster then I should of been. I just caught my grove.
This is when the wheels started falling off.
The climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge is tough. There is no real way to train for this other then go for it. I walked it knowing I still had a huge chunk of climbing ahead of me after the bridge. Apparently the rule was changed this year that allowed for slower then 12:30 runners to make the bridge. They actually pushed us to the sidewalk which killed any pace I had. The sidewalk was slick and congested.
We made the turn on Vista point and headed back on the bridge. A kind worker unlocked the gate to allow us to climb back on to the roadway. The wind and the mist on the bridge was INTENSE. This is as bad as the bridge has been weather wise.
Then to my number one spot on the course. The Presido. First off this features some wicked downhills that you can relax on but the views are breath taking. I actually pulled a 10 min mile somewhere in here according to FitBit. I was back on pace and loving it.
Then there is that streach of miles everyone fears. The mile plus before you hit Golden Gate Park. Its all up down up. I walked the ups ran the downs, it was my plan all along. Needed to make the energy at Golden Gate Park last.
You know the song “This is the song that never ends”
That is Golden Gate Park.
The last mile before Golden Gate Park got to me mentally. I think it does a lot of people so I was wondering knowing that I had a lack of long mile training if I should of taken the half turn off and called it good as I was besting my time from last year as it was. I knew the next half was going to be tough.
I decided to continue and the park got to me. I did keep pretty well on pace for the first mile or two in the park and then about mile 17 I would say, I was worn down.
I wanted the park to end.
I wanted to burn down the park.
And I was regretting life decisions at this point. But hell bent on continuing. I found my friend and fellow four year ambassador Charles on the course and he encouraged me to continue. That was what I needed.
I got out to Ashbury and I cherished the down hills. This to me is the best part of the second half is the funkiness and all the love you get from the people heading out for brunch.
I probably should not of ran the down the hills as hard as I did. It came back to bite me in the dogpatch and Soma. I just had not energy and was was a great pace fell off the rails. I was still on track for my goal, but I just had nothing in the tank. Mile 20 to about 24 was awful. And then came the announcement. We had to hit the sidewalk, we where being swept.
It took the wind out of the group of runners that had basically bunched up together in their own group at that point. Most of us had our clocks to the point that we had been on pace not to get swept, so it was confusing and heartbreaking for many. But we encouraged and pushed each other forward. People teamed up to make sure we all made it eventually to the finish. To the gent who grabbed me, I thank you. You helped me see I could finish it. I think this is what sets the race apart. The fact that the little clump of people became their own running team. I have never seen it at a race ever.
We got to AT&T Park on a Giants game day and the atmosphere was amazing. All the fans cheered us on and I was able to find it in me to run a bit more to the finish.
My final time was 6:03 but that being said, looking at my Fitbit numbers my distance was a crazy bit off. I was running close to a 6:00 pace which being 2014 I was 5:59. All thing considered it is a win.
This by far is my favorite race every year. I owe the SF Marathon so much love for taking a chance on me to represent when I was just getting my legs under me as a social media influencer.
I don’t know if I will be running another marathon again. Right now my legs are saying no, but we will see where it goes.
Three years ago, I jumped into the world of being a race pacer with no clue of what I was doing or for that matter how much it would change me as a runner. But I will go into that more shortly. The race was the Pacific Northwest Marathon for their half marathon event. It is kind of ironic that my 30th half marathon and my pacing birthday.
I returned this year as a third year pacer. Being with them since day 1 has let me see how much this race has grown since the beginning.
If you read any of my previous reviews, you will understand this is not the typical race you will see in Oregon. This is more like a super supportive group running event that gives you a medal. It leads to this being an affordable more all abilities friendly race. Packet pick up was a small affair at Dicks Sporting Goods, allowing you to pick up your shirt where you got a choice of color and style and your packet. One thing that I will always love with this race is it is small enough the race directing team gets to know you and know what motivated you to be at this race.
My Saturday started super early. I was the pace team leader so I needed to be at the race in time for the early starters which gave people who had been slower then 12:00 miles a chance to be on the course. This is a rarity for any Oregon based race. Its a 7:00 hour course limit, which makes it one of the most inclusive races you will see.
I was pacing the 3:00 half but I was going out with the main start group. After Hot Chocolate in March I learned that the 1:1 interval was always going to be my best answer when pacing because it was the easiest intervals to adjust on the fly.
This is one of my favorite courses every year. You take to the streets and back country of Springfield. The only big challenge with this course is the race is small enough the streets are not closed and you need to be careful to watch out for traffic. That being said its a small downside.
I passed a small group I think it was at mile four and at this point I was on my own. One lady decided to tell her friends “I want to see if I can keep up.” I explained to her what I was doing for intervals and she was honest with me, she did not think she could make that pace but was going to stay with me as long as she could.
This is a well supported all volunteer effort for this race. All the water stations had been fully stocked with anything that you could of needed. And this is one of the few races I have ever seen where the elites take the time to cheer for the back of the pack as they pass (its an out and back.)
My favorite part of the course is through Armitage Park getting to run so close to the water is breathtaking. After the park you get back into the urban part of Springfield before making the half way turn.
My new friend, Kari was doing excellent. She was in pain but she wanted to keep pushing so I kept talking her through it. She explained to me she just wanted to prove to herself that she could do it.
The course started getting really wet after we made the turn but for me this was turning into the best effort I had pacing since I started this. I was running just a few seconds early all away through.
Now the one thing is going back some of the water stations had been left unmanned. Most of this was probably due to the weather. But there was enough stuff laid out at each that you had nothing to worry about.
When we got to the last mile I realized I did have a couple mins I could burn off and still be close to I told Kari to walk a little more and save her energy for the last push at the end. She was a little worried about the 5K’ers coming in so fast around us, but I told her just focus on what we are working on and she will be fine. She was almost in tears at this point. She was hurting but wanted her daughter to see her finish strong. I think we made the right call in the long run because just at the last quarter mile she felt like she was ready so I told her to go and I was screaming for dear life. She finished in 2:59.
The finish line was amazing. You get your medal and treated to a spread of community offered up food. And unlike a lot of races people will stay to support you. I stayed to collect signs and cheering for my fellow pacers.
Then the race director asked me to add a few miles on to my race.
We had some marathoners out on the course at mile 18. And this was close to 6 hours in from the early start. They drove me out and I walked with them for about three miles. It was inspiring see some of the dedication out there.
This race teaches me so much every year. This year it reminded me why I love running. It is about the people, the stories and the community that can encourage each other.
Disclosure: I am proud to help Race to Remember with their social media outreach efforts. In trade they offer me free race entries for my time. All opinions shared in this piece are my own.
Memorial Day is the kick off to summer. For some it means BBQ’s, vacations and the start of the warm weather season. But for others Memorial Day is a chance to remember the sacrifice of our military heroes.
Race to Remember is seeking to give people a chance to honor these brave men and women with our miles as they present their Memorial Day Run. They will offer a community one mile event, a 5K, a 10k and a half-marathon event that will take to the waterfront of the Columbia River. Personally this is one of my favorite places to run locally. The half course takes you through some of the most scenic parts of Vancouver. The 5K and 10K take you to the Columbia River waterfront.
I have ran races by the team at Race to Remember. They work hard for a family friendly, all ages and abilities friendly race.
These races will benefit Race to Remember which works in the community for projects that remember the sacrifice that our veterans have made. I have had the pleasure of working with them on welcoming the Honor Flights home and I truly love what they do.
The races also benefit PureKraze a military non profit based in Vancouver WA. who’s mission is to build homes for homeless veterans in our community. Veterans face many challenges after serving our country and fighting for OUR FREEDOM a safe place to live should not be one of the things they have to worry about. PureKraze is paving the way for providing homes for our veterans not just in our community but our nation.
Below are some statics on Homeless Veterans.
Homeless U.S. veterans (2012)
Estimated homeless veterans: 131,000
Estimated homeless women veterans: 13,100
Estimated post-9/11 veterans: 7,400
Estimated number of women post-9/11 veterans: 740
12 percent of homeless veterans younger than 34 are women
Jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans: 11.3 percent
Sources: Department of Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Labor Statistics
From their website:
Our “Race to Remember” Memorial Day Run is a timed event, which is open to the public on Memorial Day (Monday 5.29.17). We want to honor all military fallen heroes, which is why the start/finish is at the Memorial Wall on Phil Arnold Way on the corner of Columbia Way in Vancouver, Washington. The Half marathon, 10K and 5K Route is an out and back course on the Columbia River trail. The first Half Mile is our Honor Mile, where we will line the pathway with the American Flags and pictures of military fallen heroes. The Honor Mile is a community walk and meant for us to slow down as a community and remember the sacrifice of our military heroes. After the run enjoy Vendors & Meet Vancouver Veterans.
For the second year in a row I had the pleasure of serving as a pacer for the Hot Chocolate 15K in Seattle. The one thing I learned last year is that this course is tough.
And that has not changed.
The experience starts at the expo which takes place at the Seattle Center Exhibition Center. The one thing I have always enjoyed with this race series is how easy it is to get from bib pick up to goodie bag (your hoodie) and on your way. There is a small vendor area which includes a place to shop for all of your Hot Chocolate gear.
Last year it HAILED on the back of the pack. This year the weather threw it’s own challenges again. There was a cold wind and it was wet at points and the forecast actually had called for snow.
The start line is organized into corrals, being I was in the back of the pack, the corrals are not well maintained. And it does take some patience to make it to the start. But being able to see the space needle first thing in the morning is a breathtaking sight. You want to make sure you stay warm on this course.
I went into this with a 1-1 run walk plan, I knew from what I learned last year that this course is really scenically beautiful but it is tough. You get some gentle rolling up and down hills in the first two miles, going out under Pike Place Market and through the Alaskan Way Viaduct before you are hit with the hill that never ends.
The Aurora Avenue out and back gives you quite possibly some of the most scenic views of Seattle you will see but for the two miles it is almost a straight up hill climb, and if you do not know that it is coming it will hit you like a ton of bricks before you turn around right after the mile 6 point. The nice thing is it takes you downhill after.
The course is well supported and you get a chance to eat chocolate at a few of the water stops. You finish thorough the main concourse of Seattle Center which is fun. Especially as you are finishing almost next to the space needle.
After the race you get to cycle through to get your medal, water and the famous post race chocolate, where you get a cup full of snacks and chocolate to dip it in. They organize the lines so you are not waiting long for everything and this years medals continue to be one of my favorites. They look like small chocolate pieces.
I will be back, I keep learning every time I am working on this race how to think on the fly and be a pacer. This is a tough but well organized race well worth it in the end.
Note: As an ambassador I was able to get my entry for my 2016 event for free in trade for my work in 2015.
It has never been a secret that I love the Seattle Marathon event. It is one of my favorite courses every year. It is beautiful, challenging and a great example of how races should be ran in terms of organization.
And this year was no exception.
I knew going in and if you read my training blog about this, it was not going to be about making a fast strong time kind of thing, life was just to complicated this fall and not feeling 100 percent until the end of September had cost me a huge chunk of training time.
This weekend was going to be all about fun.
The expo this year actually seemed smaller then it had in previous years, which I don’t mind. The entire event is well organized and you go from getting your bib to getting your stacked goody bag rather quickly, which to me is always a key to a good expo.
Sunday morning started well.
I started on my intervals as I have been doing and I stuck to them. I was actually getting some great times in the first 4-5 miles and not feeling really bad at all.
The first couple miles of the course start in Downtown Seattle taking you through down to the International District. There are a couple climbs here, but you are rewarded with some nice downhills. Again I was trying to get some speed and work on my skills.
Then you hit the 1-90 stretch which is a batch of freeway on ramps which are small hills that take you past Safeco Field and gives you great views of Downtown Seattle. But and I think I said this before that if you are not careful and you don’t pace yourself through the early part you are going to regret it later.
I have said this a lot, my favorite part of the course is the stretch after I-90, the Lake Washington area The views are stunning and it is so peaceful and quiet. There are some minor rolling hills but nothing over taxing, is is a great place to settle into your pace.
Then you reach #whathill.
I have had a love hate relationship with that hill every year. You turn a corner and all of a sudden it hits you like a wall. The one real goal I had made for myself this year was to take that hill at a run and see what happens.
And I did it. I got all away up to the point before the turn before I knew I was going to be in serious trouble if I kept running up that hill. I paid for it later, taking it at a dead run spent my legs but I was happy.
I decided at this point I was going to take the rest as a true fun run, and I did. I enjoyed the views through Washington Arboretum,but I was indeed feeling the lack of full training and I was feeling that sprint up the hill.
The last of the race was about enjoying the ride. I literally just relaxed and enjoyed the run. I took my coaches advice and didnt stress about the pace.
This will always be my favorite race every year for so many reasons. But this year as it has seemed to do before, it reminded my that my first goal is to have fun when I race.
Disclaimer: I was given the honor of a free entry in trade for social media promotion of this race. My opinions as always are my own.
I have had the pleasure of working with Race to Remember and get to know their founder Claudia through some of the work I have been doing through Honor Flight. When she asked me to take part in the Race to Remember event for veterans day I was excited.
The Race to Remember Veterans Day Race serves as the kickoff to the Fort Vancouver Veterans Day Parade.
A little back story on the parade:
The Veterans Parade at Fort Vancouver was started in 1986 by a group of volunteers led by Mike Harding, who recognized a need in our community for a way to honor Clark County veterans and knew that a Veterans Parade would fulfill that need. With assistance and support from then Vancouver Barracks Commander Royce Pollard and City of Vancouver Mayor Bruce Hagensen, the first Veterans Parade at Fort Vancouver took place in 1986. Jerry Bloss and Fred Robertson took over as co-chairs of the planning committee and led the production of the parade for nearly two decades. Through rain, sun and even snow, dedicated volunteers have been instrumental in ensuring the annual Veterans Parade.
Race to Remember: Race to Remember is a non-profit organizations formed to honor our past and present military heroes. Our main mission is to NEVER FORGET their sacrifice and with every race or event we participate in we honor all those that have so bravely fought for our freedom. Outside of racing we organize military care packages, “Thank you Cards”, “Books for Soldiers” and help coordinate “soldiers in the classrooms”. Our ultimate goal is to develop a college scholarship for those that have lost a parent during their military service.”
The race itself started at the Fort Vancouver Visitors Center. The weather was less then steller for the event but more then 100 people showed up sporting the Red, White and Blue. Several people brought their flags.
Packet pick up was quick and efficient. Due to the fact this is a complete non-profit race and all proceeds for this race went back to the cause, the shirts had been optional (I bought one because they had been amazing) but the race had all the must haves a racer would like. Bag check was easy and they brought your bag to the finish line (which was about half a mile away.
The race started with a spectacular shot of a historical cannon. The race which offered a 5K and 11K options took you down through Fort Vancouver. And up through the spectacular Lands End Bridge (even though I really do not like this hill whatsoever) and down to the waterfront in Vancouver.
This race was was well organized and the water stop was at the turn around for the 5K.
The course was challenging but yet gorgeous. Getting the energy off the parade set off the mood the weather set in. I was not planning for anything particular on this race as this was a tune up for my Seattle trip over thanksgiving. I was able to settle into my usual run walk and it gave me a chance to reflect on how lucky I am to have so many people who are veterans in my life who have made such a positive difference.
This course was not quite an out and back, and you finished just as the Fort Vancouver Veterans Day Parade started to make it’s first turn. It was amazing to be running by some of the bands.
You received a finishers medal, great food and beer at the finish line.
This is small race ran by a group of people who truly care for service members and want to raise awareness through running events. This will be back on my calendar for 2017.
I think the best way to describe this experience is once in a life time.
Yesterday I had the honor of running 2 miles with the American Flag as part of the Old Glory Relay. Team RWB explains this best in their media kit.
From inspiration, strength, or freedom, each person who touches
this year’s Old Glory has their own story of CONNECTION to the symbol
of our great nation.
Throughout the 4,216-mile journey across the United States, the participants
and supporters of “America’s Relay” will come together to honor the sacrifice
of thousands of Americans who have fought for America’s freedom, and make
a public display of support for veterans as they return to their respective
communities. This amazing experience allows Team RWB to spread our mission
of enriching veterans’ lives, recruit new members into the organization,
and generate donations for our core programs focused on leadership
development and engaging veterans and civilians within their communities.
This is the first year the flag made an appearance in Oregon. The flag actually started on Sunday, September 11 at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle before making it to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and then Woodland Washington where my local Team RWB crew took charge.
Our smaller group of three runners picked up the responsibility at Ridgefield. Our group of three runners had decided to do the 6 miles in 2 mile solo increments with me taking the last handoff.
My handoff was at the top of a hill in the middle of farm land. I was really worried because I am on the slower side of running, and I am still getting my legs back under me a bit.
I took my handoff and I think it hit me at that point that this was not any ordinary running experience. I had said before I was running for the people in my life who are veterans who especially in the last few years have been such a support system and helped me keep my head together when things did not seem possible. These people have done so much to support their country.
The two miles are insignificant at this point. So many cars honked, applauded, yelled their support. I was on one of the less crowded roads in terms of traffic but I think it gave me a chance to take in the entire experience more. The flag that I was holding is on a journey of 4,200 plus miles and will be in the hands of 62 teams that have come together for the same common cause.
Because I was dropping some of the social media coverage, I was able to get over to the Interstate Bridge and cover the runners crossing into their first state. Watching the flag come across the bridge up the hill on the interstate bridge was just truly an experience that I will not forget.
I have been trying to put into words what this whole thing means to me, but I don’t think words do it. I think the best way to talk about it is show the pictures. Thank you to my dad for getting some of these amazing moments.