A quest.

I do this to myself, more often than not lately. I sign up for a road race, get really gung-ho about a potential PR, plan all my training, and then in a culmination of excuses and laziness, it all falls through. I find myself sitting here, looking down the barrel of the next 10 days and realizing I’m no where even close to prepared to run 13.1 miles. It’s my own fault of course. There’s no other human to blame. Hmm. Maybe I could blame some non-humans? I’ll think on it.

Vegas is around the corner, screeching my name, waiting for my feet to hit the pavement under its twilight skies. It’s something I have to do, will do, and no matter how much it sucks, I won’t quit. I’ll finish. It won’t be with the grace and celebration that I dreamed about twelve months ago, it will be with pain, suffering, and lots of other sweaty bodies. This will all be a moot point in two weeks, as I’ll sit here and remember my trip fondly and be glad it was my last race afar. 



I’m always striving for a new PR (personal record) when the horn sounds and I cross the start line. In that moment I feel this will be the time that I reach that goal, I will beat previous times and when I cross the finish line fireworks will explode (in my mind) and I will feel this great sense of elation.

That’s only happened once in my half-marathon pursuit. To date, I have completed five and my PR is 2:16:48 which came in my second time out. That race was significantly different than my first, completely flat although I was battling some fierce headwinds. The improvement was significant, roughly 30 minutes over my inaugural race. I felt on TOP of the world. Well, at least on top of Idaho at the time.

This last race in Seattle I felt like I had something to prove. I’m not sure what that was, maybe to show that I was good enough to compete, to be on the streets along side all of the other racers. There is a tiny level of competitiveness that I have buried deep down in my soul. Yes, I want to do well, I want to be the best, but I know there is a level of sacrifice that one must possess to reach their goals. I’m not there yet. Mentally, I’m slowing coming around the corner, physically I have greater strides ahead of me.

I was fortunate that on Saturday the rain held off for what appeared would be a grim day in the Seattle skies. Mother Nature was giving us the greenish light to push forward. As I waited in my corral, inching forward towards the start line I had moments to take it all in. The vast amount of people surrounding me, set out to do the very same thing I was mentally prepping myself for. I started out like I always do, slow and steady. I often see all too many runners crossing the start line and giving 110%. I know they will not be able to sustain that pace and will fizzle out about half way through.  I’m astounded by the number of ladies that show up to these races in full hair and makeup. I silently wonder if they know they are going to look like a hot mess somewhere around mile 3. It’s not a fashion show or a beauty contest, but you’d be surprised.

Somewhere coming out of the muggy I-90 tunnel into semi-blue skies and fresh air I spotted an older women ahead of me. As I neared I noticed she could be my grandmother and here she was, running. She was sporting a sign on her back that simply read “slow and steady”. I was amazed. I was feeling sluggish like I couldn’t make it the next four miles and that was truly  inspiring. As I passed her I looked over and said, “good luck!” and her response “you too dear!” filled my eyes with tears. BREAKING NEWS! Yes, I’m a softie, especially for the older crowd. In that moment, despite the dread I was feeling about my physical state, I new I could reach the end and even if I didn’t achieve my PR this time out, I will have accomplished something. Something that even this 70-something year old woman could do too.

Between miles 10 and 11 we crept up a ramp onto the Alaskan Way viaduct. I was slowly passing a girl that was walking on the left, eating a bag of pretzels. I shit you not. And I’m not talking about a baggie or even a grab bag.. a full-sized bag of pretzels. Chomp, chomp, walk, walk. Hey, I guess if you get hungry..

The last few miles were hell, I will admit it, but as I was about two tenths of a mile from the finish line, I spotted my crowd supporter Mary along the left in the crowd screaming “way to go Amy!” or something to that effect. Having a cheerleader really gets the blood pumping and pushes you forward. I found the finish and felt a sense of relief. I had done it. Completed yet another 13.1 and still managed to live to tell about it! How about that?!?! I won’t lie, the two shiny (and heavy) medals that awaited me really make me smile.

Another race in the saddle, behind me. As I look forward to the next six months I know my training and dedication to reaching my PR will be a challenging road. But then again, I always love a challenge, no matter what shape or form. Three more races on the books and three more opportunities to prove to myself that I can.

Tis’ the season

Ho, ho, ho! Oh wait, wrong sentiment. It is indeed February but I don’t think this month comes with its very own salutation. ‘Hearts, hearts, hearts’ really seems …wordy.

RACE SEASON is upon me. I have a sense of exuberance that I’ve never before felt about this time of year. I began training in mid-December and have been logging miles week after week in a serious attempt to squash some personal records (PR) in last year’s 10k, 15k and half-marathon distances. Here’s a sneak peek at what I have lined up for 2012.

Shamrock Run March 18th This is the 34th annual race set in downtown Portland. Varying race distances include a 5k, 8k, and the challenging 15k course. As daunting as the 15k course appears online, and being intimately familiar with the terrain, the elevation climb at about mile 3.5 isn’t as horrible as it seems. Once you reach the top of ‘pill hill’ (set atop is OHSU), the backside is an easy glide and a welcome relief. Last year’s misting rainfall was the best keep-cool remedy but this year I’m hoping for clear, blue skies! (a girl can dream right?) At the finish line the 15kers are greeted with a finisher’s medal (BONUS: doubles as a bottle opener!) and two free beverages from Widmer Brewing. After a nine mile run and sucking down 32 ounces of beer, you’ll feel a tish bit wobbly.

2011 15k finisher's medal

Bridge to Brews April 15th The 8k course start last year was way more of a start than I was anticipating. I never understood why for previous events some participants were doing pre-run warm ups with light jogs or wind sprints. It wasn’t until the crack of the gun to start the race that I realized why. The race begins up a teeny weeny incline and as you make your turn right after 150 yards, it’s about a 6% incline. That pretty much winded me from the get go. I recovered slowly and managed to settle into the race over the Fremont and Steel bridges with a great view of the city on either side. This year I’ve decided to get the most bang for my buck and opted for the 10k route (works better into my training schedule between races too!). The finish line will greet me happily with, again, Widmer beer. Is anyone seeing a theme here? Ha. This race happens to start and finish right in front of the brewery steps.

Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll May 20th The Rock ‘n’ Roll series makes its stop in Portland this year for the first time! Although most Rock ‘n’ Roll events feature both half and full marathon routes, Portland is only offering the half. I participated in my first RNR event in Seattle in 2010 and afterwards (which is key) I LOVED IT! Each mile is marked with a stage setup with a band playing tunes that can be heard from a good distance before and after the mile marker. I have my iPod plugged into my ears at all times to keep consistent motivation drumming through my soul, but the sight of the bands is the added boost I need when I start to struggle in mile nine plus. Excited to see how Portland puts this one together and I’ll be rockin’ all the way through to the finish!

Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll June 23rd My third attempt and second return to the half-marathon in Seattle comes this month. I registered for 2011 but circumstances prevented me from participating. This year I’m back and Seattle has unveiled a new course this year! The trot along Lake Washington still remains and will likely (yet again) make me wish I owned a home along the waterfront. RNR hasn’t announced yet for either Portland or Seattle who will be the post-race entertainment, but I’m hoping for an 80’s band resurrection!

I close out June with an exciting running day trip on the Olympic Peninsula…more to come on that in a future post!

This last week I’ve been toying with the idea of entering the Champoeg Half Marathon in September. Registration for 2012 hasn’t opened yet, but who am I really kidding? Nothing like a half-marathon to close out the racing season, am I right?

Do you have any races planned? Which ones?

Run, run me to the river

Tick tock. 4 months until the inaugural Portland Rock n’ Roll half marathon. Last week they unveiled the course map and even though I live here, I’m super stoked about the route. 13.1 miles weaving in and out of the inner-east-side neighborhoods, two bridges, and a start/finish on the waterfront.

run Portlandia