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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.

Race Recap: Dreaming in Rainbow: Why you should do The Color Run every year?

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.

How many times can you be proud of being a unicorn?
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.

More porta-johns.

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.

Its a medal… and its a Unicorn WIN WIN!!
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

The SF Marathon Recap: Finishing is the battle

Ever have a race go every which way but loose?

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.

Myself and the amazing fellow ambassador May before the race.
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

I look happy. The truth is I might of been questioning my decision.
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.

Now go read all my fellow ambassadors reports.




Pacific Northwest Marathon Review (Half): 30, Paceaversary, and a reminder of why I run

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.

You can find out more details on their Facebook page Race to Remember: Memorial Day Run And you can register Register

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