Birch Bay Road Race 15K

So this weekend I set a PR…because I’ve never run a 15K before! New distances = automatic PR. In this case, I’m not too thrilled with where the bar was set but I otherwise really enjoyed the Birch Bay Road Race!

As an Orca Running ambassador, I get to run one of their awesome races for free. When the 2017 races were announced, I debated which to pick because they are all pretty great. I decided on Birch Bay because of the unique distance and beautiful location. I also thought it would be a great race to kick off the season with.

The race was Saturday, which happened to be April Fool’s Day, so naturally the weather pulled a prank on us. It was mild but rainy, just a light mist really, but after nine miles, I was pretty soaked. Anyway, that’s jumping ahead.

The race started at 8:15 on Saturday and Birch Bay is about an hour and a half north of Seattle…as in, “hi, Canada!” I considered staying in Bellingham the night before, but ultimately decided to drive up in the morning, which worked out pretty well.

I like Orca races because they’re good-sized, organized, well-supported, and attended by people that really just love running and the running community. Parking was close to the start line and getting there about a half hour early, I was able to pick up my packet, hit the port-a-potty, drop my shirt and coat back at my car, and be just in time for the start.

(Oh and the shirt! I love the race shirt! I hate the typical technical tees. I don’t wear them and find them to be a waste of everything. This one is cotton! and cute! and gender-specific! and I will wear it.)

The course was beautiful! A little through the town before getting on Birch Bay Drive, then a little woodsy trail run through Birch Bay State Park and back to the bay. It had it all!

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Free race pictures! I went with my standard, “there’s the photog, smile like you love it!”

I finished in 1:35:26, a 10:15 pace, so yeah, I wasn’t thrilled and can’t really pinpoint why it didn’t go well (except maybe some tendonitis that flared up after the race), but after being a bit down on myself about it, I decided to at least be happy that I kept moving and didn’t walk and ran nine freaking miles in the rain.

Another great thing about the race…driving home past/stopping at the outlet mall! All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday 🙂

 

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Resolution Run 2017

My first run/race/workout of 2017 was the Resolution Run 5k and POLAR BEAR DIVE on New Year’s Day. Yeah, polar bear, like, hey jump in this cold lake on this sups cold day. Two months ago I thought this was a great idea. Since then, Seattle got real cold. The forecast called on and off for snow and some parts of the city actually did get snow overnight. As I walked around pre-race, I basically just told myself, if this many people think it’s a good idea, it’s probably okay. How’s that for a workout mantra?

It was cold at the race start – thank goodness for gear check real close to the startline – but the sun was breaking through the clouds and I warmed up quickly on the run, a nice little tour of Magnuson Park. The dive (a run into Lake Washington via the boat ramp) was at mile 3 with just a short distance then to the finish line.

You could technically make it through and only get wet up to the waist, but being the completionist that I am, once I was waist-deep, I went for the dive under. It actually didn’t feel cold, but quite literally took my breath away. After three or four gasps it came back and I was out of the water running in my squishy shoes to the finish line with a time of 29:36.

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Proof! Wet run to the finish line.

Even though I was in heavy, soaking wet clothes, I wasn’t actually cold. I went back to the dive to look for my gloves (MIA) and grabbed some HoCho and THEN was super glad for the heated changing tent. For as nervous as I was about it beforehand, I ended up loving it and would totally do it again!

Year in Review 2016: Oy

What’s that saying that’s going around lately? I think it’s something like…

FUCK 2016. 

Oh yes, that is it. And also, gosh 2016 was a dumpster fire.

On a large scale, things went downhill fast after the election. Privileged white millennials are still getting over the shock of what happened – because we* never expected that to happen so we didn’t really do enough to stop it – and now we have to deal with the real consequences of it. It’s scary.

So while fuck 2016 is a nice battle cry, a reminder to leave the shit behind us and look forward and do better now that we know better, the worst is probably not behind us, so maybe the best we can do is to look for the good parts in the otherwise steaming pile of shit that the next four years could be?

Not to get political 😉 It’s just hard to ignore that dark shadow looming over the year and fuck 2016 is everywhere and YKW is a large part of it.

On a personal level I’m also very much saying FUCK 2016. But that’s not really my nature to throw away an entire year. At heart, I am a Pollyanna. (WHY do people not know what this is? And WHY when I overheard coworkers talking about loving The Parent Trap were they talking about the remake? Haley Mills, people! Haley Mills!)

So, dark shadows aside, here’s my list of things that didn’t completely suck about 2016:

  • I ran two half marathons, both sub-2:00  and the subbest-2:00 of the two is my shiny, new PR.
  • I got a new job that combines things I like and things I’m good at and one month in, I really like it. AND it’s OMGsoclose to my home.
  • A new home! I moved to a new place that is so much more me. It’s comfortable and roomy and peaceful. And I’ve loved exploring my new neighborhood.
  • I traveled to two cities I’ve been dying to get to, Austin and Vancouver, and they were amazing. I also took a weekend to visit my HS bestie in Ashland, OR. Vacations are amazing, seriously people, use your PTO.
  • I read oh so many books. 49 as of this writing. My favorites have been: The Kitchen House, The Two Family House, Americanah, Year of Yes, The Flood Girls, and Drinking: A Love Story.
  • I discovered podcasts. Obvi started with Serial and my subscriptions have basically exploded since then. They are great for my long, cold walks around the neighborhood.
  • I almost rehomed my dog and it still makes me so sad to think about it (hey, this is a happy list, GTFO sad), but he’s still with me and he’s just the best, well, the worst and the best, and our renewed relationship has been one of the best things of 2016.
  • I met an insta-BFF and our friendship grew all year. It’s so nice to connect with someone who just gets you and is on your team from day one.

Okay, that helped. I feel better.

*Technically my birth year places me in the millennial generation. I absolutely hate that association because there’s a large difference between a 1984 “millennial” who remembers a time before the internet and cell phones and social media (and remembers freaking Haley Mills) and the millennials who are still in high school (eek, godspeed). I also don’t think it’s strictly a generational thing that led to the slack jaws on November 8th anyway (some might say it’s about having the belief that good prevails v. loving hate, who knows), millennials just seem to be the target of the “suck it up, buttercup” articles that have come out post-election, but the grief is real, yo. Feel your feelings.

A Fall Slump

The post-race slump is real yo.

Plus it’s fall. Oh how I love seasons, especially fall! The sunny days have quite quickly turned to gray, sometimes rainy days. Sometimes that makes me want to run, sometimes that makes me want to hibernate – Netflix, books, sleep. Fall is awesome.

But, I’ve also been thinking ahead to spring and summer and race season.

First up, a travel run. Two things I love together = big love. Locale and race just about decided.

Next, an Orca Running race. The Iron Horse Half was such a great course and so well executed. I’m so excited to continue as a race ambassador for them for 2017 and run another one!

Registration for all of their 2017 races opened this week! I’m still trying to decide which one(s!) I’ll do because they all look like so much fun! Go check them out and use the code PRETTYACTIVE17 for 10% off your entry.

For fitness or beauty?

I like to hike. I think I kinda forgot this and didn’t get out to the mountains much this summer. Shame because Washington is such an amazing playground.

I decided to get back out there and kick off the long weekend with a hike that’s been on my list for a while – Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls.

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It’s an eight mile out and back trek that ends at this wonderful little spot. We’ve had a few fall-like days recently, so the hike was overcast, cool, and slightly misty at times.

I realized while I was hiking that I’m not much for stopping and when the trail is rooty and rocky, you tend to focus down a lot. I wondered, am I here for the fitness or the outdoor experience? Then, as often happens when I think of the word fitness, I thought of this and laughed because it’s funny every time.

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But, back to the larger question. When you really get climbing, the sweat feels just as cleansing as a hot yoga class and I love it. So, I think I’d say I hike for fitness, which seems gauche to admit. I should be all, “I’m here to absorb the beauty and connect with nature.” To be fair, if it was ALL about that sweat, I’d run in town or get the the gym v. driving 90 minutes to hike.

Also, I absolutely loved the falls.

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I guess you have to love both to be a hiker! Since I took my first, nervous solo hike a little over a year ago, I’ve become much more comfortable with it. It also helps that I’m independent and stubborn and want to go where I want to go, when I want to go, and at my pace and throw in some running when the trail allows. (#thisiswhyimsingle)

Unfortunately, I’m not quite brave enough to hike snow-covered trails alone, so I’m hoping to get a few more fall hikes in before winter hits.

Aaaand today I’m sore and balancing the hike with some good, old-fashioned laziness. Yay for three day weekends!

Iron Horse Half Marathon Recap

I ran my first trail half marathon, the Iron Horse Half on Sunday and it was just a glorious day for it – overcast and cool. I loved the course! It was point-to-point, beautiful, and basically all downhill.

Participants parked at the finish line (in North Bend) and bused to the start (at Olallie State Park). There were porta-pottys, friendly volunteers, and great support throughout the course. The race was so smooth, especially considering it was its first year!

I loved the wave starts. They really helped ease congestion throughout. I had to brave the porta-potty line and ended up being a few minutes late for my wave, but was able to just start on my own before the next one and catch up.

Because of the perfect day and fast course, I was slightly disappointed I hadn’t trained more with longer or faster runs. Unfortunately, I also walked a bit because there was a crying, throat closing, couldn’t breathe, wheezing thing that was happening. You know, things that happen when your ex runs the same race. Let me tell you, a trail half is not the ideal place for that to happen, but I’m all about feeling your feelings and what not. Eventually I felt better, enjoyed the course, enjoyed the day, and enjoyed moving my body. I finished pretty strong in 1:58:32.

The finishers’ festival had hot dogs and beer and yummy cold brew coffee, which is what I was really after at that point! I sat down in the grass with the sun that was starting to come out and relaxed a little bit before heading back to Seattle. It was definitely worth the drive out there!

As always happens post-race, mentally I’m somewhere in between who thought that was a good idea? and when’s the next one?!

Iron Horse offers free race photos! Always smile when you see the photog (and when you’re finished running 13.1 miles):

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Side note: I wore the same shoes that felt a little worn after my RnR Half because I haven’t found anything I like better since then. Any recommendations? I think I’m going to check out REI’s Labor Day sale to start!

Orca has two fall half marathons coming up and a fun, Halloween-themed 8K, check them out and use PRETTYACTIVE16 to get 10% off your entry!

Hey, how’s that Iron Horse Half training going?

I’ve been excited about the Iron Horse Half Marathon since I found out about it earlier this year. It’s in a new location for me and is my first trail run. Now that it’s less than a week away, I’ve discovered that excited does not always equal preparedness.

After the RnR Half, I wanted a bit of a break from training as always happens for me. Then I went through a break up, I moved, it got really hot, one time I went out for a long run and my Spotify playlist just kept playing all the sad songs (re: see first excuse).

Basically, life happened.

One of my resolutions this year was to work out through transitions. See, I’m aware of this particular weakness of mine, this tendency to let exercise be the first thing to fall away when things get busy or I’m feeling all the feelings. You know, precisely when I need the endorphins in my life.

And I have gotten better. This transition took me down to a few workouts a week but I was still getting some miles in, along with yoga, biking, and golf (okay, I played a par three course once, but it’s still active fun).

For my last pre-race long run, I did 10 miles yesterday! Not at a pace I loved, but at a decent pace for a Sunday run and I felt like I could have kept going. For not feeling prepared I’d say the ability to crank that one out deserves a big old, HEY THANKS BODY!

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Want to run the Iron Horse? Get 10% off with PRETTYACTIVE16 at check out! Online registration is open for two more days or you can register at packet pick up or day of.

You gotta move or move on

Last last weekend, my AZ sister from another mister, Emily, came to visit me and go to Kenny Chesney’s Spread the Love concert. I was really excited to see Miranda Lambert and she was awesome. Sam Hunt also played…also amazing.

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We did yoga at the sculpture park and ate all the delicious food. I love having visitors and showing off my awesome city.

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Emily also helped me find a great new apartment! My lease was coming up real quick and while I had a plan A in place, things change and as Sam Hunt says, “you gotta move or move on.” Although Emily thinks it’s you gotta move TO move on. Thoughts?

Either way, I moved on Tuesday and I really like the new place! Err, at least what it WILL be once all the boxes are unpacked and Rigo has figured it out and calmed down a bit. He’s currently pretty sure I moved him and all our stuff there to leave him forever. My poor neighbors. Emily had a good idea to introduce him/alert the neighbors that he might be sad for a while in the new place and this is what I ended up with:

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The new place is all of three miles away from where I was, but Seattle is full of unique neighborhoods so there’s a lot to explore. There are plenty of boring things that go along with moving, like packing and you know, moving, updating the DMV, blah blah blah. But there are fun things about moving too. My first month in the new place bucket list includes:

  1. Find my new running routes – easy 3-5 milers and longer loops for the weekends.
  2. Discover new restaurants. My new place is super walkable, so I have plenty of options for my new go-to sushi, burgers, coffee, Mexican, ice cream. Yum!
  3. Get to a November Project workout and running meetup. I’m much closer to their usual locations, so my typical excuse doesn’t work anymore.
  4. Find new walk routes for Rigo and check out the nearby dog park.
  5. Jump in a nearby body of water…I’m close to a few to choose from!
  6. Switch my holds to a closer library branch. I use the library ALL. THE. TIME. I used to just get ebooks, but I’m back on a hard copy kick and check out new release DVDs too. The new branch is walkable of course 🙂

What fun things do you like to do to settle into a new place?

 

Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Last month I ran the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, what I thought was my fifth half, but my race page told me it was my sixth! I think I blocked out that one where I walked a lot of it. Oops.

You know how half marathons always seem like a great idea? I have signed up for races on a post-race high. I have signed up as a way to stay motivated through my training. I have signed up because I got a good deal on the entry fee. Whatever the reason is, there are always a mix of emotions between sign up day and go time.

I had some good training runs, I had some bad training runs, I burnt out on training with just one week to go to the Seattle RnR Half, but overall, I felt pretty ready going into race day. My main concern for a June race (a June race! That’s not even a thing in Arizona!) was last year for the RnR, race day was actually pretty hot. This year Seattle weather has been bipolar, switching between spring and summer weekly. Fortunately race day was looking more like spring – overcast and cool with a chance of rain.

I woke up early and walked to the start line because I live somewhere awesome. I was disappointed to arrive and hear the race was being delayed 15 minutes. Mostly just because I had dressed to run and it was a little chilly just standing around and I was there alone with no one to chat with. I was in the 11th corral, so after the delay plus waiting for my corral to start I was finally off at about 7:30am.

The course: Decently flat and somewhat interesting but with a few “run up this street a ways then run back” to get the mileage in, which I don’t love. I liked that it was different from the Seattle Half, which stayed north of the 90, and that it was through areas I don’t spend much time in.

The RnR: Honestly, the bands were not a huge pull for me, but I’m such a slave to marketing that I really liked the sponsored zones from Toyota and Alaska Air, they just provided something interesting to focus on for those small spots. The beer ticket I got with my bib seemed like a great idea on packet pick up day, but at the end of the race, I never really want it.

My other concern about doing a RnR race is the crowd. These are well-attended races because they are well organized (great aid stations!), but I imagined craziness on the course. Yes, the start was a bit overwhelming but the course was totally fine and I had plenty of space. However, I’m really glad I didn’t have to use the port-a-potties! No patience for those lines 🙂

I felt good throughout the race and knew I was maintaining a good pace, although my Nike Run app was slightly off in tracking the distance, so I wasn’t 100% certain. I got tired/bored around 10 miles, but the last two were great and super fast. I was able to book it the last quarter mile and came around the corner to see the finish line and also my awesome boyfriend with his daughter on his shoulders cheering me on. Clock time was off because of the corral, but I found out my official time later that day…1:56:40! I FINALLY got my sub-2:00!

I thought I was ready for it at the Seattle Half because I had been running some fast intervals and strength training. That got me close, but what pushed me under was the training I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year – just running consistently faster in my training runs. My standard 10-minute pace now fluctuates between 8- and 9-minute miles.

I took this picture at the finish line and think I look sups cute and like I barely worked out at all, so perhaps next time I push even harder?

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My next time I actually signed up for before this race! It’s going to be the ORCA Running Iron Horse Half in North Bend in August. I joined the ORCA family this year as an ambassador and am excited for my first race with them! If you want to sign up for any of their great races – they just added one at Alki – use the code: PRETTYACTIVE16 to get 10% off!