Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2015 Running Goals in Review

Yeah, yeah. It's 7 weeks into 2016. But better late than never, eh???

It's no spoiler to say, flat out, that I didn't achieve most of my goals in 2015. But I did end up achieved more of them than I would have thought.

I had decided that I wanted my goals to be both long-term and short-term, and give me different things I could focus on at different times... the idea being that I had the opportunity to achieve different types of success throughout the year.

Here's what DIDN'T happen...

Run 700 miles

This one as such a damn stretch. And I didn't even come close. And, seriously, the races packed in at the end of the year provided many of the miles. I hope to do better in 2016.

2015 miles

449.6 miles
0 miles 
700 miles

Break 2:10 in a half marathon

This was a big stretch -- I haven't run close to that pace in nearly 3 years now. Perhaps, I dunno, TRAINING for a race could make this achievable. But, since I was unable to force myself to train (sigh), and I kept getting small, hobbling injuries, I didn't come near this in 2015.. As in, fastest time was 2:22 and change. I do still think that on the right day, on the right course, I could hit it. Maybe 2016.

Run 15 in '15

Ahh, this. Another spectacularly poor performance in 2015. Even with a new system whereby I would grade myself on a percentage of weeks completed... well... I'm still getting a failing grade. I only had 15 weeks where I ran 15 or more miles ... So that's pretty grim. Not sure I can even pretend that I'll so something along this line in 2016.

15 in '15 weeks

15 weeks
0 weeks 
52 weeks

Run a sub-8:00 mile

This was a big tough goal. My fastest mile EVER was somewhere between 8:15 and 8:30. I never ever ever work on my speed. Nor do I ever run on a track. Nor did I really work on this one. I don't even think I ran a time trial in January 2015. Big red failure, here. That said, I did run a very cold and stiff "time trial" on January 1, 2016 ... running a mile in a sluggish 10:22. I can definitely bring that down once the weather gets warmer and my joints unthaw a little...

Break 1:00:00 in a 10K

Nope. Though to be fair, in 2014 I would have thought this was a real long shot. Except when we "took it easy" at the Tinker Bell 10K in January 2014 and ran 1:02 and change. Then a month later I ran 1:01 and change. But I didn't really make the time to run any more 10Ks ... or work on my speed. I'm going to bring this back in 2016.

Blog an average of 2x / week

This shouldn't have been difficult -- but in the end I only published 68 posts in 2015. I can do better in 2016 ... and I need to develop the discipline of blogging more often... and about more than just race reports. (Thanks for the continued tough love, Suz!)

Run a 5K PR

No speedy runs whatsoever in 2015 ... but I am gonna make this happen in 2016!

Run to work 50 times

Seriously, nada. Though I did walk to or from work about 30 times ... so this is on my radar and achievable, I think. Just gotta get on it in 2016.

runs to work

0 runs 
5 runs

Here's what DID happen...

Run 15 half marathons

Fifteen... and then some. (Half marathon #15 was the Hartford Half Marathon, on 10/10/15.) I finished the year at 21 half marathons ... and a totally unexpected three FULL marathons. I'm super proud of this!

2015 half marathons

21 halfs
0 halfs
15 halfs

Run half marathons in 5 new states

Color this one done! Being able to run the Center of the Nation Series with Mainly Marathons and pick up 5 new states ... and then spend some time back east to run in three more ... with another state coming up in a couple of weeks. So happy to take such a big chunk out of the rest of the list.

5 new states

0 states
5 states

So, two big happy successes ... and a whole lotta failures. I want to streamline my goals for 2016 ... fewer goals, but still keep them spread across different types of goals. More to come on that!

Guess where we're going?

More info to come...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2015 Team Wil-Sun Awards ... and Race Review Roundup

why, yes, I *do* enjoy earning medals... why do you ask? (2015 medal collection)
Look, it's February 16. And I've been trying to make myself sit down and write this up since, oh, December 16th. But life gets messy sometimes... Messy good, or messy bad... mainly messy good in my case. So blogging pretty much dropped off the radar.  Hey, the fact that I didn't publish my race report from the Seattle Half Marathon until January 8 ... almost six weeks after the fact ... should have been a clue. And, really, we're now in the seventh full week of 2016 (gulp!)... so I've only just barely slipped a little more... 

ANYWAY. We ran a bunch of races in 2015. And had a bunch of adventures. How many? I ran:

3 FULL marathons
21 half marathons
3 10Ks
1 8K
3 5Ks

and STILL didn't hit my mileage goals! (More on that in a later post...)

All of those races left a big impression on me ... but it's award season and of course that means it's time for the second annual WIL-SUN awards!!!

Best Bucket List Race: Beat the Bridge

This race is a Seattle classic ... and one I've been wanting to run for years. The idea is simple: set several thousand people loose on a course, and raise a drawbridge 2 miles down the road 20 minutes after the start. Your goal? To Beat the Bridge... Of course, nowadays to make people happy they don't raise the bridge until 20 minutes after the last group starts, which means that most people have more than 20 minutes... but, hey, it's run AND raises a lot of money for the JDRF. And, finally, we ran it in 2015.

Best Costumes: Tigger and Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell Half Marathon

First and foremost, I loved the costumes. Sure, it was great to run in them.... we got lots of love on the course from our fellow runners, volunteers, and spectators. Heck, strangers posted pictures of us on social media. But, seriously, this was the reason to make and wear these costumes:

Best Mid-Race Food: Center of the Nation Series

Seriously, this race offers things like hard-boiled eggs, rice krispie treats, veggie chili, breakfast burritos, hot noodle dishes, and more things than I can remember ... Norm's Kitchen always seemed to be turning out some new and amazing thing to restock the food table. Every time we passed through, I would pick up half an egg, some potato chips, and a little slurp of Coke... and then sometimes I'd pick up some real food as well. Not having to eat gels the entire trip was pretty awesome for me.

Best Post-Race Food: Ghost of Seattle Marathon

With sponsorship from Field Roast and Odin Brewing, this race provided a great array of hot and delicious post-race food for omnivores and vegetarians. And they even had food left for the slowpokes (aka US)! The on-course food was also varied and interesting ... clearly this is a race put on by people who know what a great race should offer.

Toughest Race Course: Run Like the Wind Half Marathon

I have never been so tired at the end of a race, nor so happy to be finished as I was during this hilly, rocky, windy half marathon. I seriously think this was harder than hiking Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon in one day. For days after I was sore ... but not in my running muscles, mind you -- in my stabilizing muscles. I have NEVER had sore obliques after running. Until after this race. A big challenge and a cool little race in a weird spot: on a wind farm. (The race slogan is "Uphill, Into the Wind, Both Ways", and they mean it.

Biggest Dumbest Challenge: Achieving Kilimanjaro level in the Double Agents

I own this. This is my fault. But running three half marathons AND three full marathons in 9 days ... running the three fulls in three consecutive days ... well, that was big and dumb and tough. Lots of limping and whining. But, hey, my obliques were never sore! I also want to point out that a bunch of people did 4 and 4 in 9 days ... so they're WAAAAAY crazier than we are...

Best Medal of 2015:

This category is super hard this year, as I managed to score some amazing medals. Hey, it's an honor just to be nominated. So here are the runners up, in chronological order:

Star Wars Half Marathon

2015 Star Wars Half Marathon medal

Okay, this gets bonus points for being the Yavin medal ... you know, the one Chewie DIDN'T get at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope? It took years, but runDisney made up for it by designing the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon medal as a replica ... AND making the ribbon look like Chewie's fur and bandolier. Nice work, Disney! (And, umm, yes, I might have written a fangirl post about this medal months before I earned my own...

Run Like the Wind Half Marathon

2015 Run Like the Wind Half Marathon medal

This is flat-out gorgeous -- a laser cut wooden medal like I've never seen before. It's big, delicate, and so amazingly pretty. I have a pretty big collection of bling at this point, and this one definitely stands out.

Wineglass Half Marathon

I seriously can't do this justice in a picture ... I tried and white background and a black background ... no luck. But let me tell you about this medal... It's a pressed glass medallion, each one hand made by an artist at the Corning Museum of Glass. The design changes every year, but each one follows this style. It's unspeakably pretty -- possibly the best part about an above-average race. And that's saying something.

Hartford Half Marathon

This race got SO MUCH right ... including this decidedly different medal that's shaped like the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. It's heavy cast metal in three dimensions -- not flattened on one side. And the marathon medal. while similar, is larger and a different color. This medal isn't the biggest or the blingiest medal of the year, but it sure is handsome. 

And the WIL-SUN (surely we can't call it the WILLY or the SUNNY...) goes to...

Center of the Nation Series

Maybe this is cheating ... but just look at this monster! I loved that we received the top piece and the "year" piece when we picked up our bibs the first day, and then every day when we completed a race, we received a new state medal to attach. Each of the individual medals are heavy and handsome ... so all together they are simply amazing. I really hope to earn some more of these medals in 2016.

Top five running moments of 2015:

I can't really rank these ... they are all super special in different ways. But here they are, in chronological order of occurrence...

1. The "Sunday Night Lights" Deck Run on the Caribbean Running Cruise. Glow sticks? Check. Glow necklaces? Check. Crazy high winds that caught the undersides of your feet as you turned a corner? Check. And we ran circles around a group of folks who had taken over the pool deck to watch Princess Bride so that the rest of the boat couldn't watch the Super Bowl. Amusing. 

2. The "Haiti Relays" day on the Caribbean Running Cruise ... notably getting to run with some of the boys from the Street Hearts charity. We brought shoes and clothes and toiletries and, later, raised several thousand dollars to buy another house so that the charity can expand. I am getting weepy even now, a year later, remember how great it was to meet some of the boys and see the pleasure they took in the day. 

3. The Maniac / Fanatic cheering area at the Tacoma City Marathon. My love / meh relationship with the race continues. I hate having to go down to the expo. But boy did I love the finish-line cheering section filled with my fellow Fanatics ... both hearing a huge cheer go up as Wil and I approached the finish, and having the opportunity to pass the cheering along as others finished. It's almost -- ALMOST -- enough to make me run this race again. Almost.

4. Seafair Pirate Run 5K ... this was pretty much fueled by my community at Brooks ... but I think I will always look back on this day as one of my perfect, golden running moments. From the pre-func at T.S. McHugh's, to the pre-race chatter with old friends, to the view from my beloved Viaduct, to the random meetings on the course, to the post-race Super Soaker assault, to the post-post race celebration at T.S. McHugh's ("You're back already??:), this was a perfect running event. 

5. The entire Center of the Nation Series ... 6 half marathons in 6 states in 6 days... Seriously, this was the most ambitious running project we've yet done, and also one of the most amazing and fun. I loved feeling like we were all in it together ... and it gave us an excuse to do a big road trip for our 10th anniversary. 

Best Overall Race: Hartford Half Marathon

This was the obvious winner ... a race that got almost everything right. Useful and thorough pre-race communication, offering to ship packets (for a fee, but that's cool), a great race shirt, an amazing ports-potty set up (revolutionary!), a nice course with plenty of water stops, a CANDY stop, a spectacular finish line, super efficient post-race water (seriously, a filled custom water bottle and a bag of snacks?!?), runner-only food including vegan chili, and a city that was super thrilled to be hosting an event. I LOVED this race, even if I personally struggled in it.

Now it's your turn ... what awards would you give to races you ran in 2015?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Princess Half Marathon costumes complete!!!

This one was a struggle, but thanks to LSF Suz's inspiration, may I present our costumes for the Princess Half Marathon this weekend?

Before you ask... WIL is wearing the King Triton costume, while I will be playing the role of Ursula...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Well, this is unfortunate....

Okay, first and foremost, I take complete responsibility for this. I'm the one who forgot to log back in to the runDisney site a month after registering for the Princess Half Marathon to provide our proof of time. But I figured, hey, they'll remind me, right? And, even if they don't, they'll have any of SEVENTEEN PREVIOUS RUNDISNEY RACES to look at for a proof of time. Right?


Waivers for the Glass Slipper Challenge came out today, and Wil and I have been assigned bib numbers 26715 and 26776. You're right, those DO seem like high numbers. How high?

Yep, corral N. Third from last corral. Hell, we won't start until after the first corral finishes. Neato!

Now, again, this is my fault. Though one does wonder why I couldn't have just submitted a proof of time when I registered, like most races do. And how does it serve anyone to not want people in the right corral for their pace? It looks like we'll be spending a lot of time weaving through the walkers. (And, again, there's nothing wrong with walking these races -- I'm just sorry that we'll have to get past a few thousand people to get some open space to run.

Amusingly, we backed these on kickstarter a while back, and I feel like we finally have a place to use 'em...

Ding! Ding! I think "the Blockade" is the most relevant "When to use Runbell" example on

(this gif just makes me laugh and laugh and laugh...)

Will this work? Will we get screamed at by laydees? Maybe. Will it become something of a game? Probably!

Tourist Run Amsterdam - a running tour review

Ever since I heard about the idea of a "running tour", I've wanted to go on one. Well, sorta -- I have wanted to have gone on one... since, well, this sort of thing makes me anxious. What sort of thing? Running with strangers, in a small group, where maybe I won't be fast enough, strong eoungh good enough to keep up. And, of course, everyone would point and laugh, forever. 

And so I was nervous about doing this. So I am actually rather dorky-proud that I went ahead and booked the tour with Tourist Run Amsterdam for Saturday, my last full day in town. Shortly after submitting my payment, I received an email from Paul, and we arranged to meet in Dam Square, near the national monument, the next morning at 9am.

Did I mention that a storm blew in on Friday night and it was pouring down rain and blustery wind? Winter Storm Gertrude had hit Scotland on Friday and blown across to the Netherlands. I decided I would wear my Gore-Tex jacket to the meeting point so that I didn't get soaked while I waited for the others. Spoiler alert: I never took it off. 

GTS ready to hit the cobblestones!
Today we were joined by two other runners, neither of whom had ever been on a running tour either, and one of whom had never run more then 5k. So we had a nice, friendly little group. Paul wanted to get us running so we would warm up, so we ran to Museumplein and snapped a photo in front of AmsterdamIce. 

doing my best Hans Brinker at Amsterdam Ice
Paul told us a little about the area, then we ran through the Rijksmuseum (well, underneath it!) and back into the center. One regret: for some reason, probably nerves, I didn't turn my GPS on, so I don't have our tour on a map. This makes me more sad than you could possibly know.

I really can't say where all we ran ... we had lots of twists and turns, and did I mention that it was POURING DOWN RAIN still? But it was still really fun to run around a city I don't know well, not having to worry about where we were.  We crisscrossed canals...

with my tour-mates on a canal
Stopped on the Magere Brug across the Amstel river...

standing on the Magere Brug across the Amstel River
and even ran to a point where we had a great view of the bridge...

view of the Magere Brug
(where Paul took a "sneaky pic" of me...
Paul's "sneaky pic" of me taking the pic of the Magere Brug
and I considered what life would be like in a canal-side house:
on the Amstel
At one point we stopped on a bridge over a canal with a perfect view of the Zuiderkerk:

and got a nice group shot, as well:
the team in front of the Zuiderkerk
We also saw some quirky sights, like Amsterdam's narrowest street, a 1-meter wide passage in the Red Light District (okay, there's a smutty joke there...). We also saw this little beauty, by a secret artist who installs these works of art here and there through the city, each one reflective of the neighborhood. 

street art that pops up around the city -- this one in the Red Light District
Throughout the run, Paul told us snippets of information about Amsterdam, both historical and modern-day, and pointed out lots of sights. He was funny, spoke excellent English, and kept a close eye on his runners to make sure they were having a good time -- no matter what the weather is like! The pace was pretty gentle, too, and we ran about 8k in the hour.

map of a sample run -- not exactly ours, but close -- can't believe I forgot to turn on my GPS!
So if you find yourself in Amsterdam, look Tourist Run Amsterdam up and tell them Sunny says hi. I do wish that I had taken this tour at the beginning of my stay rather than on the last full day -- so that I could have used it to orient myself. It was a fun way to get an overview of the city, get a run in, and do something most tourists wouldn't do.

#runselfie in Amsterdam!