Saturday, June 30, 2012

June wrap-up

I'm feeling pretty good about June:

Yeah, I use stickers on my calendar to mark my workouts. So? It means that, at a glance, I can see that I did twelve boot camps (the animal stickers) and six runs (the smiley faces). Not so much running this month, sadly, but two of those smileys (the 2nd and the 23rd) were half marathons, so not too shabby.

The last boot camp session was good -- after warming up, we did the same tests as during the first session. Everyone improved on every measure -- even if, during the plank, Ellen made me laugh so hard I fell over...

When we tested in the first session, I ran a 9:17 mile -- my fastest ever. In the mid-session check-in, I ran much slower -- 9:41 or something like that. On Friday I ran 8:58. I find that hard to believe when I still put in two walking breaks. But yay me!

We did pushups next. Last time I did 3 standard and 17 modified; this time I got through 10 standard! (Not sure now many modified, to be honest...). Ellen did TWENTY PUSHUPS. She is a rock star!!!

Last time my squat press was 1:09, this time I dropped out at 1:15. Not a huge improvement, but this pose always hurts me knees and I just get too bored. I should probably work on this, huh? Hiromi bested her previous time and held for 4:30 and change.

Then the dreaded plank. I HATE this pose. But despite my shoes slipping on the turf, and Ellen making me laugh by asking, 40 seconds in, if she was supposed to be on her elbows, I did manage to hold for well over a minute. Hiromi held hers for 7:32 -- and her form is PERFECT, and she doesn't shake at all until the very end. Wow.

I've decided I'm going to go back for the July session -- I have just enjoyed the camp too much, and it's made me feel stronger. In fact, all of us except Hiromi (who is going to Japan) and Kelly (who is a grad student and can't really afford it) are coming back. I don't think I would have gotten through all of it so well without Ellen's friendship and support -- I'm excited to work out with her again!

The best thing about Kerry's boot camp is the community --- I've said it before, but it really thrills me that I know the names of all the people in camp, and that we cheer for each other. It's a very warm, supportive group. I've never had that before, so that's cool. I like that we're outside, and that we're usually moving -- it's great to be in the fresh air rather than cooped up in a gym.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Boot camp till you puke

Very very tough boot camp session today. We warmed up on the top field, and then did a big circuit around the park. We did a series of sprints up a hill, interspersed with triceps dips and "bicycles". At one point, one of the women dashed off and threw up. Wow. I've come close a few times, but (knock on wood) I haven't done that yet.

Kerry was cool and supportive, but kept the rest of us working hard. We ran down this trail through the woods -- it was really shady and difficult to see, so I was worried I would trip and fall. Luckily, not!

Friday is the last workout of this session -- boo.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Olympic Track Trials

Got the chance to come down and stay at the Brooks Track House and see day 4 of the track trials in Eugene. Soggy weather, but a very cool day nonetheless. It was pretty amazing to see people whose names I have known for years running a couple of dozen yards away.

Also interesting to see a brand with a nearly unlimited marketing budget "activate". Nike had huge interactive areas, some of which were cool, but none of which were awesome. Thai also called their merch tent "Camp Victory", which sounds a bit like nazi doublespeak.

It was a long way to come, and I pretty beat from the drive and the cold, but I am glad to be here!

Boot camp, day 10

Felt pretty leaden in boot camp today -- bit everyone asked how the race was, which was awesome. It's a super nice group. Really struggled with the last 1/2 mile run - but got through it.

Then home, showered, and the long drive to Eugene... Stopping at BurgerVille, of course, for an Anasazi black bean burger. Best veggie burger ever.

Now in Eugene and getting ready to wander over to Hayward Field.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon race report

This one was all Wil-power. Seriously.

I've had a nagging hamstring-glute weirdness in my right leg for weeks now... which has meant less running than usual, and an growing sense of dread. No, of course I haven't seen a doctor. I did try to have a massage, but the in-house masseuse at work cancelled on Wednesday. So I've just tried to stretch it.

But because I haven't stopped running altogether, my left quad has been hurting -- probably because I have been overcompensating with my left leg. And then the other day I totally, shriekingly, hyper-extended my left knee. Awesome!

Add in my weirdness of running with my work peeps (I know, that's silly, but...), and I had a potent mix of terror and sadness going in to the race. Everyone else was WAY more excited than I was. I was just dreading the day. The way I had been feeling, I just wanted to finish under three hours. Which would have been awful, but at least I would have finished.


Got up, ate some breakfast, and drove to Queen Anne. Got parking a ways away from the start -- but in an area where we could a) park for free all day and b) have an easy exit to Ballard after the race. We walked across Seattle Center and just kept saying how awesome it was to start the race there, rather than in Tukwila. A much nicer environment. If the weather had been nicer, I'm sure people would have been hanging out on the grass. As things were a bit gloomy, people were hanging out in the Armory, drinking Starbucks and just generally enjoying the morning. Nice.

We headed over to the VIP Porta Potty and found no line... but we went in and chatted with the gang. And, of course, enjoyed the facilities...

Yeah, that's right. I took a picture in the bathroom. 
While we were there, we saw Melody and Stevie, Keely, Matt, and Michael (who looked exceedingly dapper in his tuxedo shirt). Lots of nervous chattering.  We probably spent too much time there, before deciding we should get into the corrals. Of course, when you're waaaaaay at the back, you've got PLENTY of time to get into your corral.

So we got in the corral. And waited. And waited.

We took our obligatory pre-race photo. And waited.

Eventually we began inching forward. But -- and believe me, this is a good thing -- Competitor spaces out the corrals by at least 90 seconds between waves. (It's probably more...)  But we didn't actually start until 7:51.

There was no hurry, I could have attempted a better version of this...

Wil in the shadow of the Needle

We could hear our pal John Bingham chatting with each corral as they moved forward. Whoever the other announcer was didn't have much of a sense of humor, sadly, so didn't take kindly to John praising the back-of-the-packers as the fun people. Whatever.
John Bingham, working the crowd
 When it was nearly our turn, John spotted us and started chatting, asking how we were doing, and especially Wil's foot. Then John, on the mic, started telling a story about how Wil was a steelworker and had a horrific accident involving molten steel... ha ha ha. He told us he would see us at the finish. :)

We took off down the hill, and then ran up and down Second all the way to the stadiums. I just kept thinking how awesome the course was -- even if I was a bit fuzzy about how we were going to get to the lake. Heck, I ran it and I'm *still* a little fuzzy about how we got to the lake!

I do know we turned left at some point, and headed up a shallow but longish hill on Dearborn. The sun had started to break through the clouds, and I started to feel weird. I wasn't sure if it was my usual start-of-a-long-run-so-I-feel-queasy weird, or something else. I was sweating like crazy, and starting to regret wearing a long-sleeved top.

We turned on to Rainier Avenue South and I was feeling a bit woozy. Wil offered to give me his top, or even to pick up another top someone discarded. Then we started talking about cutting the sleeves off of his long-sleeve top, and me wearing that. Then I just decided that, if we could find scissors at the aid station, I'd cut the sleeves off my top. Luckily there was an aid station somewhere around mile 4. We stopped and the very nice folks searched their bags for scissors. A few minutes later and a pair turned up -- so Wil went to work snipping off my sleeves. MUCH better.

Here's the best part of that. After finishing his masterpiece, we took off running again. We must have gone half a mile when Wil said, "Umm.... are you gonna take off the sleeves?"

Yeah, that's right. I had been wearing them around my wrists. Just cutting them off had made such a difference that I hadn't noticed that they had just slid down my arms. Ha!

Things got better after that. Way better.

We turned on Dakota Street (?) and saw... THE HILL. Now, this wasn't a "character-building hill" like Whiskey Hill. It was just a short, sharp hill that stretched over a couple of blocks. Wil tried to keep me moving with our 5:1 intervals, but I had to stop a bit early... and then enjoyed the brisk walk up to the top, with a little extra time to catch my breath before starting to run again. Of course, then came the steep downhill, that felt a tiny bit slippery so I decided to just walk down the other side. Still, the hill was pretty mellow and then we were at the first split point. Marathoners turned right for a lap of Seward Park, while those of us doing the half turned left to run along Lake Washington Boulevard -- pretty!

Then up the worst little path in the whole wide world (yeah, I complain about it in every event...) and then through the I-90 tunnel. I also hate the tunnel, and the looooooooong ramp into downtown. At least I know how long it is, so I just try to suck it up. Oh, the marathoners turned right and did an out-and-back across the I-90 bridge. Glad that wasn't me.

I heard a woman complain about "all the hills" on the course and wanted to laugh. No, honey, that rolling hill on the ramp isn't a proper hill. Not that I didn't feel it or struggle up it, but it's not a real hill.

Then we arrived in downtown Seattle again, and then wound our way over to the stadiums and made it up to the Viaduct. Now, I'm not gonna say I felt great or anything... my knee was a little stiff and sore, but my right leg felt pretty good except when there was an incline. (That's when I could really feel the hammy.) I think taking some Vitamin I at mile 9 was a very good call... as was the Gu.

Up on the Viaduct, where I fell in love with my city all over again. At least until I saw that stupid ferris wheel. But perhaps I will come to love it, too.

Moving along -- Wil is a strict taskmaster -- we caught up with my pal Brenda, who had run by us back when I still had long sleeves. :) She was struggling with blisters -- ouch. We passed each other back and forth as we headed into the 99 tunnel -- I think she zoomed past us as I gingerly headed up the last hill.

Then, finally, the finish line. John spotted us and gave us a very nice shout out as we held hands and crossed. We were standing just past the finish, having a little smooch, when John caught up with us and we had a little "post-race interview". I *think* I said all the right things about a great day, great bands, and a great new course in this wonderful city. He then mentioned that, since I work for Brooks, I've got some skin in the game -- so I think I said that we hope everyone had fun at the Cavalcade at the expo and that everyone ran happy. Or something. He then turned to Wil and asked how the foot was -- "great!" and we laughed and then let him go. It was weird to hear ourselves on the PA.

Then some delicious post-race treats -- Jamba Juice smoothies! Chocolate milk! -- and some stretching, and we went home.

Oh, here's the best thing: we finished in 2:29 and change. Yeah, our third fastest half ever. Hooray for Wil for keeping us moving!!!

The course wasn't short -- I just managed to pause my GPS for 3/4 of a mile. Sheesh.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Playing Catch-up: running, expo, and 9/9

Thursday I was able to have a relaxing morning -- because I didn't need to be at the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Expo until 10:30. So I suited up and drove the Green Lake for a gorgeous little run around the lake. I felt pretty good, if a little sluggish at the end. Besides, it was such a fantastic morning, it was a treat to be outside in the fresh air.

Then I spent the rest of the day at the expo. Last year I worked the set-up day in Seattle. I liked the physical labor side of things -- and not having to answer a lot of questions about products I still felt I was learning about.

But I had made a critical mistake last year -- it wasn't possible to pick up my race packet since the expo wasn't really open. Booo! That meant I needed to go back a second day. This this year I resolved to work a shift at the open Expo.

I got to the hall a few minutes early, and more than half an hour before the expo actually opened. I always love the expo floor before it opens - when all the aisles are empty and it looks as if there's too much room:

I was assigned "ticket duty"; handing out the prize tickets in the Cavalcade area, explaining the scan-n-win game and the "second chance" drawing. When expo opened at 11am, there was an initial rush, and another during lunch time, but otherwise pretty quiet.

The highlight of the morning was looking up and seeing sweet Lindsay Buchan's face. So great to see her! I squealed and ran out of my little booth to give her a hug. I asked her if she was gonna run (ha ha) and made her promise not to have any excuses not to run next year. :)  I also told her that I had actually considered bringing her wedding present along -- just in case I did see her! But as she said, it gives us another excuse to see each other.

A little later, during the "lunch hour", Wil came by. He was doing a 2-day course with his team somewhere in Pioneer Square, and was originally going to come to the expo at the end of the day. But he decided to run over at lunch to avoid the crowds. Everyone cooed over him -- the Brooks ladies all love Wil -- and we had a nice little chat.

Then back to work for a bit. At some point Dre and Matt and Melody came in to pick up their bibs, but I was too busy to really chat.

Grabbed lunch -- a salad, because the pizza was unidentifiable -- and also picked up my race packet. Was surprised to see both D-Tags (for feet) and B-Tags (on the bib itself). It made me wonder if they're using Seattle as a test to see if the B-Tags will work in a large race. Shirt very blah -- white? Really? But at least this year there was some stuff in the bag. The cats were thrilled that Star-Kist is now a sponsor. I'm sure they'll enjoy their packets of tuna...

Then back to the expo floor, where Stevie had taken over my position in the booth. I was sent over to Pronator's Peak, where you toss a foam golf ball into either a shoe (to win a giant foam finger) or into a little cup at the tippy top of the peak (to win a pair of shoes). We had a little run on foam fingers, and noticed that kids are better than adults at it. We decided it's because kids just go for it, while adults fret about it too much. I will add that before expo opened, I gave it a try, saying "I'll never get a ball to stay in a shoe".... and got one on my first try. Ha!

The last hour or so passed quickly, and then Angie cut us loose. I wanted to look at a few things at the expo, but didn't need to really "do" the expo.

1. RunDisney booth. Always nice to see the medals for upcoming races. Had a long chat with one of the cast members about next year's Goofy. She gave me a fantastic RunDisney bag -- different than the one I got in Denver last year. It's larger and perhaps even nicer. I also had a little flutter of desire to run the Disneyland Half this year -- that medal is so gorgeous! -- and even looked into flights and charities and such when I got home, until Wil reminded me that we were going to Bumbershoot. Oh, right!!!

2. ONE Coconut Water booth. Look, I don't like coconut. At least the desiccated kind that's used in baking. But I always loved the young fresh coconuts we had in Indonesia. And I was curious about coconut water. So when I saw the booth on my way in in the morning, I made sure to swing by. The verdict? Nice. Tastes like young fresh coconut. That said, one of the juice boxes was a little too much for me at once. Or maybe I just drank it too fast because I was thirsty? Anyway, I would buy it. Which, I suppose, is the reason to go to a Rock 'n' Roll Expo... Oh, and, yes, I could have bought coconut water at any time. Just hadn't gotten around to doing it.

3. The TerryBerry booth. Someone FINALLY started making official charms for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series!!! I heard about them earlier this year and was excited to see the charms in person. I decided to buy the charm that looks like a race bib:

It wasn't cheap, but it sure is cute! The nice ladies first asked if I was interested in a necklace or bracelet. I said, "Oh, no, I'll put it on my charm bracelet" which I proceeded to take out of my bag. They oohed and aaahed (nice!) and looked at all of my charms. I think the bracelet is now too full, but I'm going to put a couple more charms on it (to even it out) and then start a new one. They also told me to be sure and come back to see them if I went to other races. You know I will!

Then home, where I spent most of the evening relaxing (and happily not going to Zumba!).

Today (Friday) was boot camp #9. I was really dragging -- I think a few of us were -- so Kerry totally mixed things up by moving us around the park. Usually we go to either the top or the bottom field, but this time we ran up to the top, did a couple of things on the top field, and then worked our way down to the bottom field. First we moved down the parking lot to a curb and did step ups and downs as well as toe taps. Then we did lunges up and up and up a hill, followed by burpees, crunches, and pushups, and then a sprint back to the bottom where we started all over again. Eventually we headed over to the baseball bleachers and did BIG steps up and down, as well as leg lifts and calf lifts. Then we ran to another baseball diamond and ran the bases for a bit. Then we went down to the lower field and cooled down. Time went by super fast. That Kerry sure does a great job!!!

That said, my legs sure are tired today. Ha. 

I have to admit I'm dreading tomorrow a little bit. The weather looks iffy, and I don't feel very strong on my right leg. But I am sure I will finish. Even if I'm out there way longer than usual. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8 down, 4 to go...

Went out to my car this morning in much finer weather than on Monday -- and discovered a tiny hitchhiker on my windshield. He'd apparently been on the car a while, as evidenced by his slime trail, all over my windshield and up the side of the car. Well, either that or he was super duper FAST. ("Look at that S-Car go!")

I gently took him off the windshield and dropped him into the grass, then headed out to boot camp. My arms already feel like lead -- lots of arm and shoulder work today. Oof. 

I realized the other day that I never posted a picture of my necklace. I bought it a few months ago from I Declare Charms. It took me a while to decide what I wanted the necklace to say. I didn't want it to be too obviously running-related, but I did want it to at least feel a little inspirational. When I hit on KEEP MOVING FORWARD, I realized it was perfect.

Tomorrow I am working at the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Expo -- last year I worked the set-up day, but then realized that I needed to go back another time to pick up my packet. So this year I decided to be more practical and volunteer for a time when the expo was open. Of course, that means having to deal with the people... and you know how much I hate the people....

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rainy Boot Camp

We had a relatively decent weekend -- okay, sure, I didn't feel like running at all, but the weather was okay (if a bit muggy and blustery on Saturday). So waking up this morning to a proper, hard rain was a shock.

But I am determined to go to all 12 of my boot camp sessions, so I got up, got dressed, and got out the door.

This was what it looked like when I pulled into the parking lot:

Wet and a bit miserable. That said, people turned up. I think all of us -- at least, more than 10 people. We warmed up a little and then Kerry dropped the bomb on us that she wanted us to do a mid-session check-in.... with a mile run.


So we lined up and started running. I felt absurdly sluggish, like I was running in Jell-O. In the end I finished in 9:41.... which I believe was 4 seconds slower than my first run... but still probably my second fastest mile ever. Yeah, I know, I'm not very fast.

After the run we partnered up and did some pushups, planks, and so on. I felt slow and weak and sluggish throughout. Not sure what was up this morning. I didn't even have the crazy endorphin rush at the end. Maybe today just wasn't my day.

I'm feeling a bit funny about boot camp for the last few days -- by which I mean, I have been really LOVING it so far. I love the 3x/week, the early morning start, Kerry, my fellow recruits, the workouts, etc. Loving it so much that, despite having a couple of other Groupons that I want to use later this summer, I have been considering signing up for the next session, and so on.

So I looked at the price. I discovered Vast Fitness via an Amazon Local deal -- something like $39 for a month of boot camp. Therefore I assumed that a month of boot camp was somewhere around $100 -- maybe a little less, or maybe right at $100. But when I looked at the price, it's $175. Oh.

Now, I did look to see what 3 sessions/week with Dillon would set me back -- it's $199. So perhaps Kerry, with her additional "bonus" running sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, plus the three days/week in the mornings, is a steal. And I LOVE the workouts. But... wow. $175/month?

Sure, I could afford it. But it's enough to make me think twice, thrice, and so on. After two weeks do I feel stronger? Is that even fair? I do feel like I'm part of a group, which is lovely. But still... wow.

I'll have to think about it a bit.

I do have a "groupon" to a CrossFit Box (as they're called... when anything else would be called a "studio" or "gym"...)... but what if I hate that? I already feel intimidated by CrossFit... but welcomed by Vast Fitness. Is loyalty and comfort and happiness enough?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Boot Camp Omnibus

So today was my fifth boot camp session with Kerry and I'm still really, really happy about it! Sure, it's tough, and I've been really sore... but I'm having fun, I spend three mornings a week feeling all endorphin-glowy, and I know I'm getting in a good workout. I've got seven more camps left, and am already thinking about extending into July. It's that great. Honest!

Let's see, what sorts of things have we been doing? We have played very fast games of freeze tag, done a tabata series of calisthenics, done fartlek runs, and done dozens and dozens of push ups, squats, lunges, and sit-ups.

In other news, registration opened for the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon, so of course I signed us up. We could have signed up as a team, but in the end decided to just sign up separately. The only "bonus" is special bibs, and the ability to compete as a team. Yeah, not that keen. That said, at least they weren't charging extra for teams! Mustn't forget to book that flight home from SNA after the race...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Boot Camp, day 2

Another FANTASTIC morning at boot camp! Kerry manages to keep everyone smiling, even when we're sucking wind. I did SEVENTY-FIVE push-ups today. Not all at once, of course -- no more than 10 at a time -- but SEVENTY-FIVE!!!  Much less running today -- except we did a bunch of "relays" with different sorts of "runs". Since there are nine of us, one line (mine) had four people, the other five. That means that in each race, one of us had to go twice. Ouch. Especially because whichever team lost had to do pushups. Oops.

I should point out that we didn't lose EVERY race, just 3 out of 6.

But I learned more names (Janessa, Sarah, Peter - my teammates), and got a fierce, almost queasy workout. Ah, also made the mistake of eating some bread and cheese a few minutes before going to camp...

Already feel sore when laughing or coughing... and my chest is hurting from the pushups. Did I mention we did nearly 100 sit-ups? Ah, yeah, that'll be sore, too. I actually have sore hands from the field turf.

Still, looking forward to Friday!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Got an email from Athleta with a really cool blog post the other day. Written by Rachel Toor, the post, called "Falling", describes how the author came to terms with falling when she runs. I haven't fallen badly on a run for a while (okay, yeah, I fell in the mud on Saturday, but that wasn't too bad) -- guess I should knock on wood here -- but I certainly know about falling. Here's my favorite line:

I have learned to look at my legs and see not just the ravages of damage, but reminders of all the times I have gotten up, have kept going, have made it back.

Read the whole article on the Athleta chi blog here.

Oh, and, no, this is an old picture, from September 2008. I don't think we captured any photos of the bike crash knees from 2010. Too busy trying not to hurl. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Boot Camp begins!

Today I went to boot camp, and it was great! The instructor's name is Kerry, and she's a tall, cute, southern lady with a mean streak. We started with a lap around the track, then some calisthenics to warm up. The camp has been going for a couple of years, but once a month they have a new "session" where new recruits are encouraged to start. We were tested on our fitness, and we'll be tested again at the end of the 4 weeks.

First we had to run a mile as fast as we could. Now, I can run, sure... and I can run for a longish time. But I am slow. Still, she started us off and I got a bit carried away, finishing the first lap in under 2 minutes. Now, that's absurd for me -- because I believe my fastest EVER mile was just under 10 minutes. So when she called out the first split I thought, "oh, dear, remember that you can always speed things up at the end if you have anything left in the tank!"

I tried to slow down on the second lap, with some success, but I was still faster than I should have been at 4:15. (Yeah, I know, plenty of people run twice that fast. Whatever.) I also started feeling the queasiness I get when I'm working out too hard. So I got to the far side of the track and decide to walk the turn briskly and try to get my breath back and my heart rate down a bit.

I then ran/walked my way to the end, finishing in a new PR of 9:17. Not fast for a lot of people, but wicked fast for me. I walked counter-clockwise around the track to cool down a bit, rooting for my fellow recruits as they finished. Oof.

Then it was time for pushups -- as many standard ones as we could do, and then as many modified (knees down) ones as we could do for the rest of the minute. My partner Helen (Ellen?) was a rock star, doing 6 standard and another 19 modified. I managed a mere three standard and 17 modified.

Then sit-ups -- as many as we could do in a minutes, with our arms crossed over our chests. Usually sit-ups aren't a real challenge for me, but somehow I struggled to do 20 in a minute. Helen did 26.

Then squat press -- as long as we could hold it. I thought we were just going for a minute, but noooooo.... we just went down into a press and held it. I stopped at 1:09, halfway out of boredom, and halfway because I was expecting to be done at a minute! Oops. One tiny woman held her squat for 4:15!

We ran a bit to shake out our legs, and then it was time for planks. I barely held on for a minute (I've got a notoriously weak core and I always worry about tweaking my back). The tiny woman held hers for over SEVEN minutes. AMAZING.

All in all, a good workout, and fun to be outside. I liked that it was drizzly this morning -- made me feel as if I was extra virtuous and determined when I walked out the door at 5:40am!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rainier to Ruston Half Marathon Race Report

Trail run. Mostly paved. Apparently all but .7 of a mile was paved. But, oh, boy, what a .7 of a mile it was!

We took the shuttle from the finish line in Orting, getting dropped off at the start at 8:10... for a 9:00 start?!? That was a little weird. Luckily the rain pretty much held off, they had NINE porta-potties (for 200 people -- bliss!), and we pretty much just stood around wondering why we had shuttled so early... The start was near the site of the annual Buckley Log Show -- who doesn't love a bit of timbersports? -- and featured some awesome log art:

We also took a Half Fanatics photo... a surprising number of Fanatics and Maniacs were there. Wil may have photo bombed the picture... we'll have to see how it turns out. :)

After much milling about, it was finally time to start. I was a little surprised at the number of people, but that was also pretty satisfying.  We ran through the bell tower / timing mat, and took off along the lovely paved trail, running 5:1s and moving really easily.

bell tower at the start - each of the relay interchanges had one
and, yeah, I rang the freakin' bell
Things were going swimmingly for the first couple of miles. I felt a little stiff and sluggish (too many manhattans? maybe....) but figured I could just get through the first three miles and be fine. And then we came to a place with a big sign that read, "trail open, but use at your own risk". Umm, okay.

We had arrived at the unpaved portion of the race. At first it was just a little squishy. We had to slow down because it was slippery, but otherwise just carried along. 

Wil at the start of the mud

And then, suddenly, deep mud. Deep, shoe-stealing, over-your-ankles mud. Wil lost a shoe in two different spots, I slipped, tripped on a tree root, twisted an ankle and fell. It was pretty funny, but VERY slow going.  Essentially, we just picked our way through. I guess we could have just splashed, but I suspect we would have fallen more than just the once.

I was afraid to take out my phone during the worst of the mud, but I did snap this shot when the worst was over. I promise you, that mud is deep. And there might be a shoe in there. 

Wil's muddy legs, later on

Eventually, we cleared the mud, and we were back on paved trail. We did a bit more running, but my foot was starting to bother me -- I tweaked it when I fell -- and when it started to rain, the life kinda went out of us... and we decided to just briskly walk to the end. 

We passed through a couple of checkpoints, eventually starting to get passed by relay runners. You could spot them because they were the ones with clean legs and shoes. And as we went farther along, we started seeing ultras and marathoners, too.

The trail got prettier and prettier -- we were near the Carbon River for a good portion of the last few miles. We went through a checkpoint with a lot of relay teams standing around, waiting. We knew that the last stage was only 2.7 miles, so things were looking up.

 We crossed a very handsome old railroad trestle, where the Carbon River looked very, very full.

Carbon River

Carbon River
Then, all of a sudden, we were in Orting. It was a little chaotic -- lots of half marathoners enjoying their finish, lots of teams waiting for their relay runners. We went through the bell tower (ringing the bell, of course!) but then discovered we had to go a little farther to get to the timing mats. But we held hands and crossed the finish line in under 3 hours.

Children handed us a medal, and then we set about looking for someone to pass the keys I found on the trail to. (Which took WAY longer than it should have... but still.) We picked up a souvenir towel, which turned out to the be perfect little swag item -- it came in very handy for cleaning some of the excess mud off of our shoes and legs!

and... that's #14 in the bag!

2012 Rainier to Ruston Half Marathon medal (front)

2012 Rainier to Ruston Half Marathon medal (back)


Well, I guess I have satisfied my need for a mud run.

Rainier to Ruston Half Marathon Pre-Race Report

We are sitting on a school bus in the super-cute town of Orting, waiting to be shuttled to the start. Lots of chirpy, excited people, including a lot of volksmarchers -- mom would be so proud!!!!

We waited until the final hour to register for the race, but I am already glad we did.

The larger race goes all the way from Mount Rainier to Ruston Way in Tacoma. Some hardy souls will do it as an ultra, more will do it as a relay. Others are doing a marathon, while we're doing a half. The course follows the old railway line -- some of it paved, some of it very,very muddy. Not sure what our split will be.

The race is raising money for trail maintenance and preservation, which I like.

We were out later than was prudent last night, so we are feeling a bit the worse for wear. So I'm not sure how this is gonna go. But we made it to the start, which feels like an achievement in and of itself!