Race Recap: 2017 Hippie Chick Half Marathon—Hillsboro, OR

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Mom and I ran the Hippie Chick Half Marathon on Saturday. This is the second time I’ve ran the race. At the 2015 race, I ran it with Katie and it was way too hot for me! This year was completely the opposite!

A little damp, but full of high spirits!

I was so happy the temperatures were forecasted to remain low on Saturday. It was raining before the race and at the last minute I pulled on a long-sleeve shirt and put my short sleeve on over top, a rarity for me. I was afraid I might regret it, because it was dry once we got to the start line, but that sure didn’t last!

Not too far into the race, it started pouring! For about an hour, we got completely soaked, and mom and I were strongly reminded of the very wet 2016 Portland Marathon.

The rain was pounding us so hard, the drops were almost painful. However, it really did look beautiful against the scenery of the fields green from the spring. Mom and I were dressed for the occasion, with daisies in our hair and cute little floral skirts Mom had made.

I felt much better than at Hop Hop, but we concentrated on enjoying ourselves, enjoying the course and having fun, rather than speed. This was more about the experience and being able to do it together!

The free photobooth really captured our playful spirits on Saturday. We took the photos pre-race and when we received them post-race, the last photo sent me into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

The race was nice and flat and the country roads with the wide open fields were lovely this time around (since I was dying for shade in 2015). There were plenty of water stops and even gel stops. Mom and I had gotten up so early and ate breakfast so early, I increased what I normally have during a race to try and make up for it. The extra gels were certainly helpful.

They even had entertainment! Around mile 9ish, there were jugglers with batons on fire at turnaround point. Mom was so distracted by them, she nearly forgot to turnaround! But we did, and ran back down one of the few hills on the course.
Before too long, we were headed to the race finish! I run a really steady, but slow pace, so the last two miles I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to tell mom to slow down.

Once we got to the stadium, we waved to Jason who cheered us on. We ran around the edge of the stadium, spotting ourselves on the Jumbotron and then crossed the line, mother and daughter, holding hands and raising them high.

Hippie Chick Half Marathon complete!

Once finished, we collected our finisher necklaces and then made a beeline to the massage tent. We put our name on the waiting list for a free 10 minute massage and then met up with our cheerleader, Jason. He was able to point out all of the food options and even snag us a table! I won free chocolate donuts from Frang bakery. Mom and I enjoyed the pancake breakfast. Best of all, the mimosas and chocolate milk! Delicious. We listened to the live band and ate our post-race food happily.

Just about the time we had finished, we went down for our free massage. It may only be 10 minutes, but I know it made a huge difference! I recovered much faster and even felt energized right that moment.

In fact, when we started heading back to the parking lot, I couldn’t help it when i spotted the play structure nearby! Those weird blue rings spin like a merry-go-round. The weather kept the kids away, so us adults decided to play!

I’m not planning on doing any long races until the fall at least, giving me a break from high mileage. I really hate the running in warm weather and its really hard to run for hours at a time in the summer. I want to concentrate on improving my 10K times instead. This was a good race to start the break!

Time: 2:48:53
Ran with: Mom
Post-Race Highlight: Although the free massage was heavenly and relaxing, I’ll admit that the awkward merry-go-round was exhilarating! It was such ridiculous, giddy post-race fun.


Race Recap: 2017 Mesa Phoenix Half Marathon (New Personal Record!)—Phoenix, AZ

I waited for this moment for a long time!

I flew home from Phoenix two weeks ago but I’m still relishing my victory at the Mesa-PHX Half Marathon on Feb 25.

After 3 years and 10 half marathons,  I finally beat my PR time of 2:38:03 (set in 2014 at Rock n’ Roll Vancouver Half Marathon).  As such, this will be one of my longest race recaps yet. I kept writing and changing it, unsure of how to put this race into words.

My shin splints/shin pain became a problem for me as I ramped up the intensity of my training after the Star Wars Half in preparation for the Phoenix Half. During the taper period, I shortened, skipped, or switched my runs to an elliptical workout.
The night before the race my fears manifested in nightmare dream land, where a stress fracture became a gruesome snapping of my leg in the middle of the race. Of course, that didn’t happen.

The more I trained for my PR, the more of a sense of dread I had about the possibility that I wouldn’t get it. Again. The last time I tried was at the Twilight Half which had the devastating course mistake.

At the expo, I focused on the excitement of races. Running in a new place, going to the expo, getting loot from our race bags.

Despite my worries, I had a lot of things on my side. I did spend quality training time doing speedwork. I was running a flat course. I had spent a long time building a new running playlist with fresh songs to inspire me.  The weather was perfect—mid 60s may feel cold to Arizonians, but not to me!

Dressed in lightweight running gear, it was a little cold even for me in the predawn before the start. Luckily, the race organizers prepared for their audience… they provided dozens of outdoor heaters. Runners clumped around them in small herds.

And finally, I would be running the half with Perrin. Although she is a faster runner (finishing with Jason at the Portland Marathon in October), she was looking to enjoy the Phoenix Half Marathon at an easier pace—mine.

I warned her that I wouldn’t be a sociable running partner this time because I was focused on my PR so she devoted herself and her GPS watch to my cause as a coach and cheerleader.

To earn a PR, I needed to maintain a pace faster than 12:03 per mile. Based on my pace times for previous races, both 10K and Half marathons, I aimed for an 11:50 pace, which I felt was within my grasp.

Pre-Race (Slowest pace ever…)

Although Perrin’s place was only about 20 minutes away from the start line, the alarms went off at the detestable time of 3:30am. It’s a good thing we left as early as we did—race traffic was terrible, causing a huge snarl of cars trying to get into the parking area. Lucky for us, Perrin’s fiancé was driving and we were able to ditch the car and walk to the finish area, where buses waited to take us to the start line (different busses for each race distance).

Once we got through that snarl, things went more smoothly. I loved the idea of running a race that started in one place and ended in another. Once I was on the bus with all the other runners, I knew I was already beginning my journey. Even the length of the bus ride reminded me what an accomplishment 13.1 miles is. And as soon as the bus parked at the start line, my pre-race nerves started to subside.

The start line area was well-provisioned, with plenty of porta-potties, heaters, water and more. Bag check was easy. I thought about my pre-race plan and before I knew it, it was time to line up at the start!

Although there were no corrals, the pacers gave us a good idea of where to line up. I aimed for middle of the pack.

Mile 1-2: Warm-Up (Pace avg: 11:30)

The first few miles are always terrible for me because it takes me so long to warm up and get comfortable. To combat this, I decided to start my interval timer on 30 sec run, 30 sec walk. I’ve used a 30/30 interval several times and I’m very comfortable with it. It’s also very easy to run with when just starting out because the running intervals are so short.

It also prevents race nerves and adrenaline from taking me over by forcing quick walk breaks.

Of course, this only helps a little bit. Once the fireworks went off, the music was pounding and I heard the announcers yell “go!” I was off like a shot! After all my training, all my work, the race was actually starting!

The lack of corrals meant that I had to dodge a few people slower than me, but the street was so wide I didn’t have any issues with congestion.

I listened to my music and my interval timer and as the sky lightened, I told myself that today was the day I would earn my PR.

Mile 3-4: Switching to Race Interval (Pace avg: 11:15)

Early on, I saw a blue banner that said Mile 14. “Easiest 14 miles ever,” I joked with Perrin. From there on, the blue banners that marked the miles for the full marathon would indicated that my mile marker, a red banner, was just beyond and Perrin would be giving me a pace check.

Just as planned, after about 2 miles, my race interval timer switched to a different interval, 60/30. These intervals are much more difficult for me and I prefer the more comfortable interval of 50/30 for longer distances.

But I didn’t want a comfortable pace. I wanted a PR.

Early in the race, we ran past beautiful citrus groves and I mused that in any other race, I might stop for a picture. There were so many you could smell the fruit. The sun was shining and I felt like I hadn’t seen it in months after the cold winter we’ve had in Oregon. It was a perfect day to be running.

I was also in danger of going out too fast, but luckily Perrin warned be that I was way ahead of my pace goal with the switch to 60/30 intervals.

Mile 5-6: Settling in (Pace avg: 11:32)

I delayed reining in my pace until after a really awesome song, but then I concentrated on finding a good tempo that I felt I could maintain.  I reminded myself that I hadn’t even reached the halfway point.

I felt good. My shins weren’t hurting. I also knew my best miles in a half marathon are usually between mile 5 and mile 9. At some point during these miles, I feel great. I’m on this journey and it’s great to be alive. I’ve already come far and I’m going farther and I can be so strong. Not everyone can run a half marathon. Even if it only lasts a few miles, its worth the willpower, time and training to feel this way.

As we reached mile 6, we approached a fuel stop and Perrin peeled off to use the restrooms. Unfortunately, she had to wait 5 minutes, and it wasn’t until just before the mile 8 marker that she caught up with me again.

Mile 7-8: Solo Running

During training, I had planned to run the entire race by myself. I know I am good at maintaining an even pace. For a few miles, I was running the race I had expected to run. Alone, concentrating on maintaining a proven rhythm no matter how hard it would get.

And after the halfway point, i started to get my first nigglings of doubt. I was feeling the miles more than I usually did. This was hard. I still felt like I could sustain my pace until the end of the race, but I now realized that it wouldn’t be easy… or fun.

Mile 9-11: This is a long race (12:01)

Luckily, my cheerleader caught back up to me, complaining that my pace was so good it made it harder for her to catch me. Perrin might have been irritated, but it really cheered me up. I was filled with a wicked joy that was compounded by her letting me know I was still beyond my PR pace.

But the pace was starting to take its toll. knowing that I still had a significant portion of the race, I slowed just slightly, afraid that if I kept going, I wouldn’t have anything left to finish. I had toyed with the idea of going under 2:30, but I refocused my attention on just making sure I could get the PR.

I also found out from Perrin that Jason hadn’t gotten the PR he’d hoped for, although he had been close. That made my resolve stronger and drove me through these miles.

After mile 11, I started to really struggle. My pace slowed even further when I chose to walk through a minute run interval for the first time. The heat was getting to me and at a water stop, I splashed some water over my head. Right after I walked through my run interval, my interval timer switched back to 30/30 intervals. Although I had planned for this switch, Perrin, looking at her watch and my pace, told me that if I switched back to 30/30s, getting my PR was going to be extremely difficult.

I was so happy to hear that 30/30 bell. So grateful to it. It took a great amount of willpower to take out my timer and switch it back to 60/30s. But I did it. I wanted my PR and the thought of not getting it after so much hard work was excruciating. It was more painful than the actual race.

I needed to pick up the pace for the last 2 miles.

Mile 12-13.1: She’s a madwoman! (11:07)

After having total confidence earlier in the race that I would get my PR, I suddenly felt like I could lose it at any moment. The thought was devastating. It wasn’t just my current suffering in this race that would be in vain, it would be all of those stupid training runs, the speed work, the treadmill, everything. And above all, facing the crushing disappointment, like I had so many times before, of missing my PR time again.

Near the end of the race, the fastest marathoners finally passed me, as I had expected. “I’ve been waiting for you to catch up to me,” I yelled at them, but that was the last time I had any thought outside of my PR.

Tearing up at the idea that I could lose my PR, a goal I had set that I could never seem to attain, I started to run faster again. I gave up caring about anything but moving forward.

How many times had I felt after a race that I had more left in tank than I expected? How many times had I finished only to realize I probably could have run harder? The only thing that was stopping me was my brain and it was trying to slow me down.

Perrin tells me I kept running faster. In the last mile, my brain divorced itself from my legs. The only thing that registered was locomotion: my legs moving forward. Anything that was sore, tired or painful was gone, only movement was left. It was a very strange experience.

My eyes were watering and the only thing I was thinking was “go faster.”

A short downhill brought us to mile 13. I skipped my walk interval to take advantage of running down the hill. I ran faster on my next interval. I could see the finishing chute ahead but it had never seemed so far away.

Even with the finish so close, I felt like the race might never end.

Just out of reach of the finish line, I came to a near stop. I have no explanation for it. I was still yelling at my legs to move, but they just didn’t respond. Then suddenly, I was able to shake it off and started sprinting as I had never sprinted before.

I was yelling as I tried to run even harder. I don’t know what I must have sounded like (a crazy raging person)? But each bit of speed took a phenomenal effort that felt like I was pulling out from deep within myself.

I could see the clock, but my eyes were swimming and brain couldn’t register what the numbers were telling me. I burst across the finish line and right behind me was Perrin. At that point, she was the only one I trusted to tell me my time, my pace, as she had done throughout the race. As a person tried to hand me a medal, I kept asking her “PR? PR?”

Total Average: 11:39/mi

Not only had I finally gotten my PR, but I PR’d by nearly 4 minutes with a time of 2:34:13. I could scarcely believe it and tears kept welling up. Unlike any of my previous best times, I had put everything I had out there for this one. It was such a hard, long race and I had invested so much into this idea I could scarcely believe I had gotten the time.
I am not usually emotional after a race, but this time I was overwhelmed. It felt so hard. I had put so much of myself out there. This wasn’t like any of my other PRs. I wanted it and worked for it, putting away all other goals or thoughts.

And I was overjoyed to see a PR bell at this race and being able to ring it for the first time.

The finish area was blurred by my haze of happiness and exhaustion, although I kept being handed food, a bag to put all my stuff in, water and more. I nibbled at my french toast and made a beeline for some ice cream, but mostly I wanted to meet up with my husband Jason who had finished over an hour earlier than me and had already met up with Perrin’s fiancé.

If only two more of us had run, we could have completed the star with our amazing Phoenix medals.

Bag check was a mess and as we waited for our bags, I was still shaking from the effort and the resulting emotions.

I’m still surprised that this race happened the way it did. I ran the last 5K of this race faster than I did the 5K two weeks previously. I’m still shaken by how I overcame the difficulty. And I have recommitted to my vow to never try for a PR at a runDisney race (Seriously, the way I ran this race would have ruined a Disney experience for me, not just during the race, but if I had any intention of visiting the park the following day.. I was so sore for the rest of the trip).

But it was all worth it. I reached my goal and earned my medal. I’m a slow runner. I will never win a race. I will never run the Boston Marathon (well, unless I’m a faster runner at 80 than I am now). But like runners of any speed, I can still dedicate the time, effort and sheer willpower to beat myself. And honestly, sometimes you are the hardest person to beat, making it a true victory.

It was a great way to start our short Arizona vacation. After showers and a delicious breakfast, Jason and I met up with his parents and enjoyed the rest of our day by attending the Chicago Cubs’ spring training opener!

We had to wear our medals of course, since the race happened right next to Sloan Park!

Time: 2:34:13
Ran With: Perrin
Perfect Song for the Race: The Phoenix by Fall Out Boy

2017 Heart to Start 5K (Heart Breaker Half) —Hillsboro, OR

Don't we look festive?!

Don’t we look festive?!

After weeks of torrential rain and snow/sleet/ice before that, we had glorious weather the weekend of the Heart to Start 5K. Even if it was a bit cold, it made for a nice change.

We signed up for the Heart to Start 5K fairly last minute when we heard Jason’s sister was planning to make it her first 5K. We had a long training run scheduled for the weekend already, our last one before the Phoenix Half Marathon, but we decided to go for it. She wasn’t able to attend, but Jason and I still enjoyed ourselves at this a festive Valentine-themed run on Feb 12. She donated her bib to my Mom, who was then able to run with me.

This was Jason’s second time running the race. While he ran the 5K in 2015, Mom and I both did the Heart Breaker Half Marathon. I was glad to do the shorter race this year—I can only handle so many hills!

After doing some intense interval training the previous weekend, I have been fighting pain in my shins, and I also knew that post-5K celebration, I had to run about 12 more miles to get in my last training run before the Phoenix Half. All of these things were swirling in my head as we prepared for the start at Liberty High School.

The start of the race was on the track, which was fun. Out on the roads, the course was windy and hilly, with lots of turn-arounds. Even though the course overlapped in places, we never did spot Jason among the faster runners.

Mom and I tried to stick to our intervals, but the warm up period was rough. We made sure to run downhill, and walked many of the uphills. I admit I wasn’t in the greatest headspace for a race— I was mostly thinking of the rest of my long run. A 5K feels so long! It takes me about 2 miles to feel warm up and get into a groove for a long race. Now that I mostly run longer distances, 5Ks are really painful. They are only 3.1 miles, so I already feel like I’m closer to the finish. I’m focused on that finish rather than running my race.

The course was well-supported and there was a lot of great spirit, with fun outfits and an abundance of red. The course ended with a half-lap around the track. Once finished, we grabbed our water and a Jamba Juice cowbell (free smoothie!) and went inside where it was warm.

Easily the stand-out feature of this race is the post-race experience. They used the large high school cafeteria, with lots of tables and seating and decorating. There was live music. There was a delicious oatmeal bar that included every topping you could think of (I melted chocolate chips into mine) and other food, including bagels, peanut butter, oranges, snack mix and more.

I also found out that Jason had a great 5K, placing second overall!

Jason placed second overall in this 5K!

Jason placed second overall in this 5K!

After we finished our post-race snacks, we hopped in the car to head into Portland. I was tired of my regular long-run routes, so we had planned a 12 mile run in Portland. We started by running across Tilikum Crossing, running down the Springwater Corridor for a while, then doubling back and heading down the Eastbank Esplanade, crossing the river and finishing up the loop by running through Waterfront park.

It was a nice day for a run, but I really think that adding a 5K to the beginning with such a long break in between runs really threw me off. I hit the wall way sooner, my legs were tired sooner and I really had trouble figuring out how to fuel for the run. I think in the future, I’ll strive to do my long run mileage all at once.

However, unlike the 5K, the long training run was flat!

Time: 36:31
Ran With: Mom
Best Memory: Mom saying we couldn’t blame our finish times on the course because it “wasn’t that hilly,” and then Jason turning around to say incredulously, “What race did you run?”

Race Recap: 2017 Star Wars Half Marathon (The Light Side) -Disneyland, CA

I finished the Rebel Challenge for the third year in a row!

I finished the Rebel Challenge for the third year in a row!

I spent months looking forward to the Star Wars Half… planning costumes, discussing the race with friends, getting caught up in the Rogue One excitement and more! On top of it, it was Kelly’s first half marathon and first RunDisney race! It’s always fun to share the experience with others.

After Taylor and I ran the Star Wars 10K on Saturday and then spent the whole day at Disneyland, I knew the 13.1 miles would feel a little longer than normal. On the other hand, our costumes were so awesome, I knew they would carry me the entire distance!

Rocking our Rebel Pilot outfits, we were ready to jump to hyperspace!

Rocking our Rebel Pilot outfits, we were ready to jump to hyperspace!

Since we ran as Imperial Officers during the 10K, Taylor and I decided to defect to the Rebellion. Nothing like running as Rebel Pilots!

This was the first time I’ve stayed at a place close to the resort, and it was so nice to be able to walk to the start line on both Saturday and Sunday. Jason was in A corral, but Taylor, Kelly and I were back in G corral. We were too far away to see the stage, but unlike at the Disneyland Half, we could at least hear the audio. Jason tried to FaceTime with us and although the connection was spotty, he showed us his vantage point in A corral of Darth Vader coming on stage to make ominous pronouncements to the runners.

Finally, we were off! The start led us straight up a hill, but this actually gave the crowd a chance to thin out before entering backstage DCA.

Loved seeing Ezra &a Sabine on course! #StarWarsHalf #RunDisney #StarWarsRebels #rebelpilot

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Lines were much better at the character stops than in the 10K, and since I finally started watching Rebels, I was ecstatic to see Sabine and Ezra on course. I had just finished season one, but I love Star Wars Rebels, which is way more amazing than I ever imagined. Next year, maybe I’ll run as Hera.


Running past the World of Color fountains is fantastic at dawn!

The wide paths of California Adventure are perfect for running and the lights were beautiful. World of Color is a particular favorite, and since we weren’t visiting California Adventure this trip, it made the run even more special.

The RunDisney races wind in and out of backstage areas, which is really fun. In one of the backstage tunnels, they had flashing lights and the sounds of an x-wing/tie fighter dogfight. Dressed as Rebel Pilots, we really took advantage of this part, zooming down the incline together.

fter bursting out of backstage Disneyland into Toon Town, Kelly and I played around on the Jolly Trolley.

After bursting out of backstage Disneyland into Toon Town, Kelly and I played around on the Jolly Trolley.

I love backstage, but the best part was going from backstage into Toon Town. For some reason, more than other transitions, it feels like you burst out of mundane buildings of backstage into the magical world of Disneyland.

I'm so glad the Christmas lights on Small World are still up

I’m so glad the Christmas lights on Small World are still up

I loved the course through the parks. We got to run through Tomorrowland, of course, which is still decked out as a kind-of temporary Star Wars Land (when Star Wars Land actually opens, this course will be bonkers), and through the castle and down Main Street. In two different areas, they had Jedi, probably from the training academy, fighting Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, respectively.

A daring lightsaber battle rages on as the runners pass.

A daring lightsaber battle rages on as the runners pass.

Complete with audio, it added a really fun kinetic element of theatre to the race. Plus, unlike the static character stops, all the runners were able to enjoy the scenes as we ran by!

Once we left the park, the race became more difficult. I was sad to see that the change in corrals meant that Jason finished his race practically before we left the park. We weren’t going to repeat our meeting on the median from last year.

The sun came up and Taylor and I started feeling the miles from the previous day. However, the groups cheering, the bands and fans were all in full force, and they definitely kept our spirit up.

I also stayed focused on two things that I knew would be later in the race: Redvines from the Mouse Planet tent and the Rebel Pilot cosplayers. The 501st and Rebel cosplayer groups are always a highlight, but this year, I really wanted a picture because of our costumes!

I spent most of the race waiting to take a picture with these guys!

I spent most of the race waiting to take a picture with these guys!

Later in the race, Taylor started really feeling the miles and said it just felt harder, than his previous three half marathons. Maybe the novelty wore off, maybe he was undertrained, but I had a different answer. Two days of running is just hard. “That is why they call it the Rebel Challenge,” I said. “Because it’s a challenge.” You may be trained up for the half marathon distance, but the challenge is different. I’m not sure he appreciated hearing this from me at that movement, but I’ve done this before and finally felt vindicated, like someone understood that the difficulty increased as well as the fun. At some point, your feet just ask you “Whyyyyyyy…”

To be fair, my feet feel like that after mile 18 of a marathon too, but I definitely recover faster after the 19.3 two-day challenge. This is perfect for a RunDisney vacation. After each of my two marathons, I’ve been trashed for a week and spending a day at Disneyland would be hard to stomach (not saying I wouldn’t do it…).

I love seeing mile 10 in a half marathon. No matter how my race is going, I've hit double-digits and with only 5K to go, the finish suddenly feels close.

I love seeing mile 10 in a half marathon.
No matter how my race is going, I’ve hit double-digits and with only 5K to go, the finish suddenly feels close.

Taylor and Kelly must have turned on mindless runner mode, because at one point, I had to adjust my shoe. I felt like a painful blister was forming. I had my shoe partially off when I looked up and they were way in front of me. At my speed and level of tiredness, I knew catching up would be hard. I jammed my shoe back on as quickly as possible and sprinted through a couple of intervals until finally catching them.

That was really rough, but it just proves that even when I’m really tired, I always have more energy than expected.

Soon we were turning onto Disney Property for our final stretch. “S-Foils in attack formation,” I called to Kelly and Taylor. The best part of the end of the race is running past the Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney with the course lined with cheering spectators. They really carry us to the finish line.

Rebel Runners do it again!

Rebel Runners do it again!

We took the rest of Sunday easy– enjoyed the hot tub, ate pizza, and went to the theatre to see Moana. Sunday, we celebrated by going to Disneyland!

Time: 3:09:18
Ran With: Taylor, Kelly
Best Costume: One impressive gal ran as a cosplay-perfect Jyn Erso– vest, boots, everything… even had the Death Star plans in her hand!
Rebel Redux: For the first time, RunDisney offered us Star Wars runners a chance to sign up early for next year (with a tiny discount). In 2018, Jason will run the half for a fourth time and I will return to the Rebel Challenge, joined once more by Taylor with the addition of Kelly, who couldn’t resist the lure of the extra 10K!

Race Recap: 2017 Star Wars 10K (The Light Side)— Disneyland, CA

After completing the Star Wars Rebel Challenge for a third time, I can say that these two races are still amazing!

Taylor and I had a blast completing the Star Wars 10K, the first part of the Rebel Challenge!

Taylor and I had a blast completing the Star Wars 10K, the first part of the Rebel Challenge!

What a difference a year makes! Last year, I walked most of the 10K with my hubby, as I was just coming back from an injury and was worried if I would even be able to complete the half the following day. This year, I had none of the injury fear and all of the excitement.

Time to catch those Rebel scum! #StarWars10K @tddewey

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This year, it was my brother Taylor that I ran with. Taylor was first inspired to run half marathons after spectating these races the previous year. He had to wait a whole year until he could run the Rebel Challenge!

Unlike last year, the corrals were bigger, which means we waited a little longer until the start of Corral D. Once the race started, we ran up a short hill (as fast as possible) and very soon we were in backstage California Adventure! The highlights of running through California Adventure are seeing the World of Color fountains and running through the Grizzly Peak area.

There were a few characters out, but I had learned my lesson from trying to see BB-8 the previous year. During the 10K, it isn’t worth it. The lines are shorter during the half marathon anyway, so I saved character fun for another day.

Maybe you don't see imperial officers smile that much, but they would if they were running this race!

Maybe you don’t see imperial officers smile that much, but they would if they were running this race!

The cool thing about running the 10K is that all 6 miles are on property. Being a total Disney nerd, I had just as much fun running backstage as I did inside the park!

Now that the 60th anniversary celebration is over, the sparkly roof overlay is being removed. We spotted some of the roof backstage.

Now that the 60th anniversary celebration is over, the sparkly roof overlay is being removed. We spotted some of the roof backstage, just after a water station.

If we had seen Darth Vader, we might have stopped to take pictures with him, but we as imperial stormtrooper officers, we were pretty excited to spot a pair patrolling the balcony of Launch Bay.

Taylor looks perfectly in command of this pair of stormtroopers.

Taylor looks perfectly in command of this pair of stormtroopers.

We spotted Captain Phasma shortly before leaving the park, who was patrolling above the archway. Her costume is spectacular and we spent at least a minute just watching her strut back and forth, menacingly.
Perhaps this is why we completely missed Kelly, who was spectating the race from the entry plaza (Jason was not present, as took the rental car on an impromptu road trip to watch a SpaceX rocket launch).

We missed her, but Kelly did capture pictures of us running.

We missed her, but Kelly did capture pictures of us running.

There was tons of things to see, but all too soon, the 6 miles were nearly up. Its such a rush running past the hotel down the final stretch with so many spectators cheering us on! Once we crossed, we received our adorable BB-8 spinning medals!

This runner, dressed as Director Krennic from Rogue One, asked to take a picture with us "because I outrank you." We were amused by his mini Death Star.

This runner, dressed as Director Krennic from Rogue One, asked to take a picture with us “because I outrank you.” We were amused by his mini Death Star.

We celebrating completing the first 6.2 miles of the Rebel Challenge by spending the day at Disneyland…. after taking a shower and putting on compression socks, of course.

A runDisney 10K really goes by too fast, and I always feel a little sad when its over… but then I remember I get to do it all again the next day at the Half Marathon!

Time: 1:32:18
Ran With: Taylor
Favorite Moment: Captain Phasma!
Best thing in snack box: Jif Nut Butter Bar. Delicious.

Race Recap: 2016 Turkeython—Tualatin, OR

A small group of us joined together Thanksgiving morning to kick off the holiday season by running the Turkeython!
Having just come back from Thailand, it was my first run in nearly a month! It was also quite cold compared to the temperatures I had experienced in Thailand.

Before the start, Jason and I were so cold!

Before the start, Jason and I were so cold!

I ran with Taylor, whose training had also taken a hit, although for him, the culprit was grad school. My goal was to enjoy myself and have fun, rather than go for any particular time. Mom, on the other hand, had been training hard to try for a new 5K PR.


Having fun is what doing races is all about!

The weather was due to be very wet, but at the start, it was merely windy. It started raining halfway through the race, but nothing like the downpour that came later that same day!

We turned on some very easy intervals (50 run, 35 walk, the intervals we plan to use for our upcoming half marathon) and chatted, just catching up with each other. It was a very relaxed run and quite enjoyable. Taylor and I are both looking forward to running the Rebel Challenge in January (Star Wars Half Marathon and 10K).

Of course, our times did reflect our relaxed attitude, but we still sprinted toward the finish line! Taylor has a much faster sprint than me, but he played cat-and-mouse with me, just letting me catch up, before subtly speeding up.

A slow race, but a fast finish!

A slow race, but a fast finish!

The best part, however, was finding out that Mom had smashed her 5K PR with a time of 30:54! Thats exactly a minute faster than my fastest 5K time!

As soon as all racers came in, we headed home…. on our way to TWO thanksgiving meals!

Time: 37:42
Ran With: Taylor
Number in Group: 6
Pieces of Pie consumed that Day: 1 mince, 2 pumpkin.. much more calories than I burned, for sure!

Race Recap: 2016 Portland Marathon (45th Anniversary)—Portland, OR

On Sunday, I completed the 2016 Portland Marathon! It was a tough, windy, wet race, but I’m so glad I got to run it this year!


Rocking a (dry) finisher shirt post-race!

Unlike last year, I’ve been training consistently and seriously for this marathon, switching from half marathon to full marathon training after the Twilight Half Marathon in mid-July. Last year, I walked the first 6 miles (intentionally) and the most of the last mile (unintentionally). This year, I followed my interval timer and planned walk-run method for the entire 26.2 miles, making this a very different race than my first marathon.

Aside from training and my race plan, the other major difference was the weather!

Issued Sat, Oct 9

…Heavy rainfall totals expected over Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington this Sunday…

A slow moving cold front dropping southward through Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon will lead to a very wet Sunday.

Oh joy. I have run a race in every month in Oregon and this was the wettest race of my life. Luckily, the temperatures remained mild, although the way some of the marathoners dressed, you’d never know it. Parkas, really?

Sheila, Mom, Melissa, me, Perrin and Jason all had various methods of trying to stay dry while waiting in our corrals for the race to start.

Sheila, Mom, Melissa, me, Perrin and Jason all had various methods of staying dry while waiting in our corrals for the race to start. Little did we know that the serious rain wouldn’t come until the race actually started.

Mom and I started in H corral with Melissa and her friend Sheila, while Jason and Perrin started in C corral. I haven’t run the same event as Perrin since we ran the 2014 Tinker Bell Half marathon together. Back then, she was in med school, but this time she took a break out of her residency to fly to Portland to run with us. Jason almost never has anyone to run with, so it was a real treat for him to start the race with someone.

My race plan was to start the race with a 30 sec run/30 sec walk interval and then, if I felt strong, switching to 50 second run/ 35 second walk intervals for a while and then finishing the race back on a 30/30 interval.

On my last training run of 24 miles, I had stuck to 30/30s, but in previous long runs I had run a combination because I was training in part with Taylor to do 50/35 for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Of course, either of these was a big difference over last year, when I was on a 50 second walk/ 30 second run interval for a lot of the race.

The wait in the corrals wasn’t too bad, and I do love the Portland Marathon tradition of all the runners singing the national anthem together. It’s a very cool moment. After a long wait, it was our turn to start!


I spotted Melissa’s husband, known on this blog as Jason2, soon after the start of the race, cheering us all on. I was super excited to be there and to be running for the second year in a row.

The first few miles flew by. At the very beginning of the course, there is an out and back area, and I passed the time trying to spot Jason and Perrin. I spotted them both, although they were already separated. A quick kiss from Jason was shortly followed by a hug from Perrin. It was so cool spotting them. Before I knew it, we were passing the 5K mark!

How is it that 3.1 miles feels so long when I’m running a 5K, but so short in this race? Somewhere around this point, my fitbit buzzed, letting me know I had hit 10,000 steps. The fireworks and congratulations emanating from the device on my wrist felt a little premature with over 20 miles left to run.

We down the waterfront, where, on the opposite side of the street, we watched the first of the half-marathoners turning onto the finishing stretch. We also saw Adam Gorlitsky, founder of the I Got Legs charity, finishing his event. Despite being paralyzed, Adam competes in races using a robotic exoskeleton that helps him to walk.

Although it was miserable weather, tons of people were there to cheer us on.

Soon we were passing the 6 mile marker and I recalled the previous year when it was the signal for us to start running. The 10K marker blew by and I was feeling great. After this marker, however, we hit a long straightaway on Naito.

One bright spot was seeing Perrin going the other direction, and we had time for a quick hug and a “see you at the finish” and “have a good race.” We were getting soaked as the wind was blowing rain our direction. Water dripped down off my hat. It a rough section, but I stayed in high spirits, grinning despite the wet.

We passed the Pirates of Portlandia and eventually reached the turnaround. At the turnaround people were blowing giant bubbles that glistened and stuck to the wet ground. Having the wind and the rain suddenly at our backs was a huge morale booster.

At this point, I was still feeling amazing and I started to talk to mom about my race plan. If I switched to 50/35 intervals, it would mean running the rest of the race alone. However, I really felt great and wondered how amazing I could do this race if I pushed myself.

Right before mile 10, we saw the Pirates of Portlandia again and we had to stop for photos. Since I already had my phone out and the rain was to my back, it was also the best time to switch my run timer to the new intervals. I bid goodbye to mom, although it wouldn’t be the last I saw of her.

Just before mile 10, the Pirates of Portlandia. Worth taking out my phone into the rain for.

Just before mile 10, the Pirates of Portlandia. Worth taking out my phone into the rain for.

Soon the half-marathoners split from the marathoners and we turned a corner on our way to looping back toward the St. John’s Bridge and inot the rain. It took me a mile or two to adjust and settle into the new intervals. As I was walking up a hill near the 13 mile mark, Mom caught up with me! We just had time for her to bequeath a gift of candy corn to me before we separated again.

We wound through neighborhoods and all of a sudden, it was mile 13! Already halfway and I was feeling fine. However, the next stretch was a straight industrial road, heading back into the wind and rain. I set my sights on mile 16, which I knew would mark the lead up to the St. John’s Bridge.

It was soaking. I wrung out the sides of my shirt occasionally, trying to lighten it up. The spray from the trucks driving past would have soaked us if we weren’t already past saturation levels. But the stretch wasn’t devoid of fun. I especially loved running past a group of bagpipers.

And then there it was, Checkpoint Charlie and the large hill leading up to the St. John’s Bridge! Nearing the top of the hill, who caught up with me again, but mom! She really powers up those hills, passing people left and right.

Awesome! It’s great to have a running partner just in time for a great photo op!

A soggy celebration for reaching mile 17 atop the St. Johns Bridge!

A soggy celebration for reaching mile 17 atop the St. Johns Bridge! And got to love the temporary tattoo.

Unlike last year, I couldn’t see all the way into downtown, but I consider that a bonus. The clouds looked really cool and it was still a great view without the demoralizing thought of “I have to run all the way back there?”

Mom and I ran part of the bridge together, but after that, I wouldn’t see her until the finish. Around mile 18, a band with a great female singer broke out “Do You Believe in Magic” and I broke out my running dance moves, lip-syncing and getting pumped up. I guess I amused some of the spectators, who started laughing. I suppose most people’s faces are grimacing at that point, but I was too busy ignoring that impulse.

My comeuppance was later in that same mile. About mile 18.5 to 20, I started struggling. I could feel a blister on my toe. My energy was low and I started chowing down on food, concentrating on my interval and telling myself I could switch back to 30/30 once I got to mile 20. People cheering along the route really kept me going.

At mile 20, I spotted Taylor, who braved the wet weather to come out and cheer.  I was so excited to see him and he jogged with me a little ways down the street, talking with me and telling me how I could totally rock the rest of the race. “Only a 10K left and you can do a 10K! Easy peasy.” It was a great boost right when I needed it. I was so excited and buoyed by his presence that I forget that I had spent the last 5 miles thinking that I could switch to shorter run intervals at mile 20.

At mile 21, I switched back to 30/30 intervals and started the countdown to the end of the race. Down past the Adidas Campus and toward the Max tracks, I took advantage of the downhill and concentrated on each 30 second timer as it came.

I could feel the tiredness creeping up on me so I took a gel block at each mile marker. At some point, I also sucked down a lime gu. That gu survived many a long-run as emergency back up fuel, but I definitely needed it on this run. I thought about my music, concentrating on songs and singing them in my head.

I started to talk through mantras, and focused on my steady pace. I found out later how much it paid off.

The graphical race statistics proved that keeping a steady pace allowed me to pass over 50 runners just in the last 6 miles, far more than passed me.

The graphical race statistics proved that keeping a steady pace allowed me to pass over 50 runners just in the last 6 miles, far more than passed me.


I was feeling sore, but I amused myself by waving to random people. I waved to two men waiting for the delayed MAX train, who laughed in surprise and waved back. I waved to the people stuck on the delayed MAX train. I waved to bored spectators, and random people traveling to other places.

Before I knew it, I was heading over my final bridge. With a breeze blowing and the rain finally slackening, I concentrated on feelings of gratitude for being able to do such a thing. Running over that final bridge was amazing and rewarding. In a way, crossing it was the way of telling me that I had conquered the race, with only the last little bit ahead of me.

Back through the streets of Portland, I ran, reaching the mile 25 marker. In the previous year, this was where my body had given out, as I ended up going from run/walk intervals to walk/walk slower intervals. This year, I stuck with my timer. One 30 second interval at a time, I was moving ever closer to the finish line.

At mile 26, I spotted Perrin and Jason (with finisher medals) and Dad and my Aunt Chris, cheering me to the finish. Right as I turned two the final couple blocks, I chatted with an older fellow whose inspirational story led from a 2 year recovery to this finishing moment. Once we turned the final corner, I got ready to sprint and he said “go for it.”

I was surprised to realize I still had enough for a sprint and I sprinted toward that line with all my might, crossing the line and then nearly stumbling into the volunteers.

I finished my second full marathon, following intervals the full time!

My finishing chute experience was much better this year; I didn’t have to visit medical and they hadn’t run out of roses to hand to runners! I walked slowly, so so slowly through the chute, picking up food and my shirt, coin, pendant and other things. By the time I finished getting my race photo, Mom caught up with me! We walked out of the chute to meet up with the others.


After that, it was time for delicious mac n’ cheese at Rock Bottom Brewery! All in all, a very successful run, although it will take me days to recover. So sore!

It reminds me that the marathon is very different from the half marathon. Both are achievements worth celebrating, but a marathon is a rare beast and not a race to ever be taken lightly. Once you pass the 20 mile mark, the game changes completely.

Portland Marathon gives out such beautiful collectible pieces. I love the double-sided medal.

Portland Marathon gives out such beautiful collectible pieces. I love the double-sided medal.

The past two years running the Portland Marathon have been amazing and well worth the effort. It’s the perfect first marathon and I feel so proud to run this prestigious event right in my own backyard.

However, we quickly found out that we all ran an extra half mile (Jason & Perrin in Corral C as well as the rest of us in Corral G), which is maddening. We all want PR’s and some in our group had originally planned to try to qualify. I know it messed with Jason’s brain, since he runs with a GPS watch. I’m lucky it didn’t affect my experience, just my time.

I really did have a great race, but my heart does go out to others. My only wish is that Portland Marathon, which usually puts on a great event, would handle this with compassion and responsibility.

In my own headspace, the two course mistakes that I’ve experienced this year balance each other out. I ran a half mile less at the Twilight Half, robbing me of a chance to have valid PR in a half marathon, but I ran a half mile more at the Portland Marathon and PR’d regardless.

Time: 6:11:00

Distance: 26.7 miles. It turns out corrals C through G ran an extra half-mile. I still got my PR, but that adds about 7 minutes (at least) to my time. It surprises me that such a well-known and important race would make such a mistake. Does this make me an ultra-marathoner? (See Run Oregon blog “What happened with the Portland Marathon Course anyway?“)

Ran With: First 10 miles with Mom, then by myself

Word of the Day: Maceration: the softening and breaking down of skin resulting from prolonged exposure to moisture. My feet were macerated after 6+ hours of being soaking wet. They were wrinkled and white and a bit of my skin accidentally sloughed off as I took off my socks. It wasn’t painful, just creepy. Thanks Doctor Perrin for the vocabulary word…