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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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.

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.

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!

 

Seattle Half Marathon 2015

Last Sunday, I ran my first race in Seattle! And my first COLD race!

I had my eye on the Seattle Half Marathon for a while…but the last weekend in November in Seattle?! I had my concerns. Also, it was Thanksgiving weekend and I wasn’t sure what my plans would be. When I decided to stay in town AND found a Groupon for the race, it seemed meant to be so I signed up.

I was feeling like I was in great shape from OTF and regular runs and then, as it usually does, life got in the way. I traveled and started a new job and my routine was knocked off kilter. I still got in my long training runs – a miserable 12-miler in the cold rain two weeks before and a much better 10-miler one week before – plus a few OTF-style sessions in November. My real concern was the weather.

The weather for race day turned out to be pretty great – cold (low 30s) and overcast, but no rain (or snow)! I wore one layer, gloves and an earwarmer plus a throwaway jacket I ditched after about two miles.

The course was great, basically a big loop around central Seattle – through downtown, on the freeway, through a freeway tunnel and on running trails so close to my place that I didn’t even know existed! Plus, minimal hills – score! I started off kind of slow, maybe a combination of needing to warm up, the crowd and awareness that I have a tendancy to start off too fast, so yeah, basically I did the opposite, but then I just kept picking up pace and it felt great.

My Nike app seemed to be running a little short distance-wise so I was not 100% sure where I was in terms of meeting my goal of under two hours, but I had an idea I was close. Spoiler alert, I didn’t make it, but I did beat my last PR by 5:30 and get pretty close to a sub-2:00! I finished in 2:02:15. I think I ran a great race and while I can maybe see a few opportunities where I lost those extra two minutes, I’m happy with that time!

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Nearing the finish line at Memorial Stadium (in black and white).

At the end, I was happy to be done running and a little stiff. I didn’t immediately have the typically runner’s high reaction of signing up for my next one within 24 hours, but this week I started looking at options and training plans to break the barrier!

 

 

Ragnar Northwest Passage 2015

Last weekend I ran Ragnar Northwest Passage! What a great adventure!

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A few months ago I said “yes, I’m going” to the race on Facebook and planned to find a team either through local running groups or on the FB event page where people often try to piece together teams. Within a few hours, my college roommate emailed me that her husband’s team of friends was traveling to the race (they live all over and last year did Cape Cod) and needed another member for the girls’ van. It made the whole thing super easy and everyone on the team was so great!

I wanted to do the race as a fun way to see my new state. The route starts at the Canada border in Blaine, goes down into Burlington, across Deception Pass and down to the south end of Whidbey Island ending in Langley. My first leg was six miles through Bellingham, which consisted of the cute downtown area, but also stoplights and then freeway overpasses, so it wasn’t my favorite, but that’s where the race photographer caught me, so of course I was all smiles. Also, I never run with a water bottle and thought with a few stops from the van for water, I’d be okay, but my teammates knew better and loaned me one of theirs for my longer runs. I’ll be stopping over at REI soon for my own!

Leg #1

My second leg was eight miles of rural roads in Mount Vernon run in the middle of the night, so you know Children of the Corn, kidnappers, urban legends, Hills Have Eyes type stuff. Again, my team was to the rescue stopping in front of a creepy-ass gas station so I didn’t even know I had run by it until they told me about it later. They kept their eyes on me for most of the first few miles, but I actually felt pretty comfortable and didn’t mind the solitude of the cool, dark miles. At the very end I saw a few runners far ahead of me (yay taillights) but yeah, otherwise, it was quite isolated. Finally, my last leg was four miles of rolling hills on my dead legs, but with gorgeous water and mountain views in Coupeville.

Last leg's view

Last leg’s view of Mount Baker

The team captain plotted out the runner numbers maybe about a month ago, so when I learned I had 18 miles, I stepped up my training a bit and felt really good leading up to the race. I also really think working out at Orangetheory helped so much. I am not good about doing strength or intervals or aggressive hill training  on my own and the race hills were A.GGRESS.IVE. but I could handle them because OTF makes me do those things even when I don’t feel like it!

I was not, however, prepared for the heat. The team (Chafing the Dream, LLC, btw) picked this Ragnar because the average temps should have been in the 60s, but Washington is in the middle of a long, warm, dry summer and during our day runs, it was high 70s (+ direct sun + those hills). When the boys’ van did their final runs, it was about 85. Eek. Part of what got me through it was thinking about how many people would have died if it had been run in Arizona in July. Comforting, right? Basically, I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to say it’s hot because my desert dwelling friends and fam are dealing with so much worse! Plus, it did get cool enough at night that our girls’ van yetis established themselves as the best idea ever.

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Yes, we wore them into a store. Ragnarians know no shame.

When our team decided who was running which leg we also got our start time. 11:30am. Hmmm. At first I thought that meant we were fast, but with a projected overall pace of 9:15, we were kind of decidedly average. We finished in about 31 hours and 22 minutes, which was a little slower than expected (thank you hills, heat, “food poisoning” aka a boy deciding to eat brisket in between legs). Put those things together and we were running the race pretty much on our own.

We started with a few of the actually fast teams and kept up for a bit, but I think I saw about 4 other runners on all of my legs. Total. At the major exchanges we saw a few more teams, but it was really lacking the Ragnar feel unfortunately. We definitely got good girl time and fun van time, so that was Ragnarish and overall it was a lot of fun!

Start line girls' van selfie

Start line girls’ van selfie

And I was right about it being a great way to explore! Washington is gorgeous and I loved seeing parts of it I may not have seen otherwise and also seeing other people see it and thinking, yep, that’s pretty much why I moved here…northwest is best!

Teammates at an exchange point

Teammates loving the view at an exchange point

Since we finished pretty late, there was a crazy line to get on the ferry to Mukilteo so we drove around, basically the route we had run and we got to cross Deception Pass at the very end of the sunset. The night before we had driven it in total darkness. It was so beautiful!

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And then I slept. Glorious sleep in my own bed and it was amazing.

Now I’m not sure what I’m training for, but I know I want to keep up my running and keep exploring my beautiful new home state! And/or other great places in another Ragnar!

Our awesome team captain, Julie, put together this recap video with footage from GoPros in both the vans. Watch til the end, I’m sure you’ll find it quite educational. I love watching it and reliving the fun weekend! (She’s a blogger too! Check out her blog, Diving Into the Gene Pool.)

In the last two months…and starting (quitting?) Whole30!

In the last two months I…

Donated blood. Went to TopGolf a handful of times. Went to an ASU football game. Went to a wedding in Sequim, Washington and rode the ferry back to Seattle…

Another hello gorgeous weekend in the PNW.

Another hello gorgeous weekend in the PNW.

Attempted and failed at seared ahi tuna steaks. Got my hair did and done and redid. Had an awesome yoga/brunch/pottery painting date with my mom…

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Went to the dentist. Went to the dentist again (waaah). Celebrated the return of football Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays). Joined/started a book club – so far we’ve read The Burning Air and Rooms. Was excited for – and then reminded that it’s not quite yet – race season…

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Esprit de She 5K 35:05 – You almost wouldn’t even know by looking at this picture that I had to sit down for about 5 minutes two miles in so I didn’t pass out 😦
Oktoberfest 5-miler 50:27
They were both just really warm days and I was unprepared. Hello wake-up call!

Had a mini high school reunion aka drank beer on a patio with the people I actually liked…

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Went to Tour de Fat.  Saw the Zac Brown Band in concert…

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And started the Whole30. I have a few friends doing it with me and I posted one pic on Instagram, but I feel like for some reason this blog keeps me most accountable.

This was breakfast. BREAKFAST.

This was breakfast. BREAKFAST. Meat and vegetables for BREAKFAST.

I started on Monday and it’s going well so far – no “hangover” or crazy cravings. Maybe a little food boredom already, which is no bueno, but having a plan makes it easy to stick to it. Kinda. I’m having a few moments of weakness and considered failure an option before I even started but as of now I have no good reason not to keep going, so I guess I will?

Have you done Whole30? Success or no-go?

Happy National Running Day!

Running and I…well, it’s getting serious and I think it’s going to be a long-term love affair. I’m really loving it lately and especially loving that I still love it without training for a specific race. It’s kool-aid and I drank it and I want everyone else to drink it, even more so after I found this awesome infographic from Mizuno: What-if-Everybody-Ran-Infographic Happy National Running Day!