Friday, July 11, 2014

Finding my mojo

After my disappointment at Boston, I felt like there was a monkey on my back. I was eager to race and kick the icky feeling that comes with a DNF. Immediately after the race, I scoured Marathonguide.com and such to find a race that I could jump into quickly and "utilize my fitness" that I had built for Boston. If it had simply been a matter of finding another race quickly and showing up, I think I could have PR'd shortly after Boston.

Unfortunately (and I knew this going into Boston) after Boston, Nathan and I were faced with an unfortunately staffing situation in the bakeshop that meant he and I would be each working 1am-1pm on most days. This did not bode well for maintaining my fitness as I selected a race to pursue in the wake of Boston. I decided on Grandma's marathon which was in mid-June as my comeback race. I figured that I could just maintain my fitness during the tough work schedule and that I would just use mind over exhaustion to get my runs in and stay "training". 



And then reality sunk in. Trying to work those hours and get real workouts in was nearly impossible. My "maintain" mode turned into "just get in as much running as I can" mode. Weekday workouts were out the window as after a 12-14 hr shift my legs are so tired and swollen, it is nearly impossible to run fast. I would muster a good long run every week, usually with 12-16 miles in the mid 6 minute range, but my confidence and feeling of fitness was fading. I managed to run 65-90 miles a week somehow, but I just felt dull. As June began, I started to feel very worried about running Grandma's marathon. The goal at Grandma's is to run fast. That is it. That is why you fly all the way to Duluth. I was not feeling confident at all in my ability to run fast and was worried that if things started to fall apart during the race and I fell off my goal pace (to make the OT qualifier) that my race experience would be intensely negative. What I need was a good race, a good finish and a confidence boost. I needed to get the pack of monkeys off my back.


So in a last minute change of plan, I decided to not run Grandma's. Instead, I decided that it was best if I took my weekend off from the bakery and fly to Seattle for a run-cation. Complete with friends, food, and of course, a marathon! It so happened that the Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon was the same weekend as Grandma's. Even though I grew up in Seattle and lived there a few years ago as well, I never raced in Seattle. I felt like doing a more last minute race on a not fast course would allow me to just run and race and start building back my confidence.

Before the race, I read a great article about Training Your Brain to Run Your Best and I could really relate to the struggle of silencing the inner critic.  Over the past year, my inner critic has gotten loud and I've really struggled mentally in races when things were getting tough. I decided leading into RNR Seattle, that I would "shout down" my inner critic. On top of that, awesome coach Ian Torrence, suggested I use the experience to analyze my strengths and weaknesses so we can build from where I am. It was an interesting perspective to take because I felt more conscious of the thoughts, fears, doubts and criticisms that came up during the race and was able to play with and change my thought process a great deal. I was able to note the things that were coming up and actually take a hard look at where we can improve, where I am selling myself short (for instance by being super negative) and where I am doing well. I am so glad I opted to do a race as a building block, a starting point from which I can grow for my big goals over the next year.


The weekend was a blast. I got to spend a great deal of time with Jonathan (Bestest Everest) and his girlfriend Ariana, who were super lovely to let me stay with them and co-opt all their time. We ate great food, enjoy the awesome Seattle summer weather and got in some running too!

Bitterroot BBQ post-race! The cowboy killer.

I was super happy that the race was on Saturday. I like Saturday races. Sundays just feel like I am waiting around for so long for race day to come. This way, I got to get in the race and have the rest of the weekend to celebrate and enjoy (as my birthday was the Monday after the race).

The race itself? After the first 7 miles, when the half and full courses split, I was running alone. Up until that point, I thought I was very much in second place to 2 time defending champ Nuta Olaru who had taken off at 5:40/mile pace. I was clipping along on the easy section of the race in the low 6/upper 5:50s and had absolutely no inclination to chase her. It seemed suicidal on a course that she had only run 2:50 & 2:51 on. I knew the second half of the course was pretty hilly, so I didn't want to do anything ridiculous. And then it turned out, she had decided to run the half marathon. So from mile 7 on, I was rolling solo in first place.

The course is not an easy one. I headed south by the lake and around Seward Park. As soon as I turned towards the north to head back up along the lake and cross the I-90, I was meet with an incredibly strong headwind. Since I was very much by myself, I had no where to hide, so I fought off my negative brain and settled into an effort based pace. It was a beautiful day and I was enjoying the Seattle sunshine, the course, the cheers from the spectators and half marathoners (when we shared the course). It was very lonely on I-90 from mile 16-22 when I was on the expressway going over and back to Mercer Island. I continued to listen to my brain, see what thoughts arose and practice positive thinking.

Coming off the highway into downtown, I nearly started crying when I saw my cousin Erika screaming and jumping up and down cheering at the bottom. I hadn't expected to see her and it gave me such an incredible boost. I was where I wanted to be, doing what I loved. It was a great feeling. I was smiling and laughing as I climbed the last few hills and made my way to the finish.


Coming up Mercer to the finish line, I was filled with joy. I had gotten the monkey off my back. I was going to win a race in my hometown and feel good doing it. I had enjoyed every step, the easy and the hard. I had found a way back to being the racer I know I can be. In the end, my time is no faster than I had run at any other marathon in the past year (although to be fair the course/wind were much harder than any other course- Check out my Strava for the race), but it was an incredibly different experience. I feel like my goals for the fall and for 2015 are within my reach and that this race experience means that I can toe the line with confidence instead of trepidation. I am excited and inspired in running again and that means more to me than anything.

Plus winning is fun. Really fun. 
Cheers to that!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Streak of luck


 Sunset over Santa Cruz on our week of vacation!
I have been incredibly lucky this past year. Since Memorial Day 2013, Nathan and I have built a thriving business, pushed ourselves to our limits and created something awesome. During that time, I was able to squeeze in a few races and even get to the point of training seriously again after Portland Marathon. Its been an unbelievable ride and I cannot complain.

Ironically, it has also been one of the worst stretches of running I've had in my short career. When I switched off the baking shift shortly after Portland Marathon in October and was able to run in the morning again, it made an immediate world of difference. I felt lighter and springier than I did after a 12 hour baking shift and I felt focused on my running. I entered the Boston Marathon and felt inspired to go after a PR. That feeling last about 3 weeks. Then I started moving backwards, I felt like I was getting slower, even easy pace felt hard. I had two below average half marathons and then capped off the year with a painful DNF at California International Marathon due to, what I thought at the time, was incredibly calf cramps brought on by the extremely low temperatures. I not only didn't accomplish my goal of making the Olympic Trials qualifier, I didn't even finish the race.

I felt like crap no matter what I did, rest, run, change my diet, adjust my medicine (including iron) sleep more, etc. I figured it was just working long hours at the bakery on top of training hard. I was ready to really focus on Boston. I wanted redemption for my CIM DNF and knew that I had it in my to really a great showing at Boston. I wanted a PR.

Happy to be at the top of the highest peak around Big Sur!

After our lovely "stay-cation" to Santa Cruz and Big Sur, I lined up for the KP Half Marathon in Golden Gate park. In my head, I wanted to see if I could pull off a half PR even though I was feeling bone tired. I figured, I had been doing the work to get faster, putting in the miles, that I should be able to challenge my pretty soft 1:18 pr.

It was an ugly, cold, pouring down rain day. I was not feeling confident as I jogged to the start. I lined up, the gun went off and within a mile I knew something was wrong with me. I shouldn't be struggling that much. I shouldn't feel like I am sprinting when I am not even running my goal marathon pace. I backed off, backed off again and practically jogged in the most miserable half of my life. It was demoralizing after a disappointing end to 2013 to be feeling worse than ever.

Thankfully, I had gone to the doctor to discuss how I was feeling a few days before the race and the day after the race I received my bloodwork back. I was severely anemic! That explained why I felt like, after the half, I was about to drop dead. That explained why I struggled all fall and had such a hard time with the cold at CIM. I actually considered going to the hospital a few days after the race I felt so bad. I was truly anemic and my ferritin was 7 (the lowest its ever been before was 13). I immediately started getting iron injections and went through a battery of tests to figure out why my anemia was so bad. I am a red meat eater and take iron so it was a mystery how I could become so anemic.

The road to recovery began. With each iron shot, I started feeling light years better. I went from feeling dead and miserable on every run to starting to see all that training I had been doing shine through. I started recovering faster, being able to hit my splits in workouts and load more mileage into my weeks. And that is just by bumping my iron up to 13!

I started to feel like I was on track to make the Olympic Trials qualifier at Boston. I was feeling so good some days that I even considered that if I had a good day I could PR. I was getting excited. But most of all, I was excited because running felt good again. I was just happy.
 Happy face. Best workout ever!

Boston was soon upon me. It was a fantastic trip that even got to include Nathan, my sister, my in-laws and all my nieces and nephews! It was special to me that the whole family got to come together and see each other since it has been incredibly difficult (read impossible) for us to visit in the last year.

The day after I arrived in Boston (Saturday), I noticed that I was not feeling good. I felt like I was coming down with a cold or worse, a flu. Just the edge but enough to scramble for Emergen-C and every vitamin I could find. I said positive mantras for health and wished it away. But by the time Monday morning rolled around, I knew I was in the grips of it. I had hoped that I would be able to race faster than it could take me down. I figured I would get hit hard after but hoped that adrenaline and sheer will would be enough.

Needlesstosay, I was wrong. I was flying for 8 miles, clicking off sub-6 pace and feeling pretty comfortable doing it. But I could feel the energy draining out of me rapidly, my mouth was dry even though I was drinking at each aid station, my stomach was in knots, and my lungs were rapidly congesting. I backed off the pace and hope that slowing down to my original goal pace would help save my race. I pulled back and downed a gel at mile 10 only to nearly gag and practically throw it up. My body was having none of it. The end came quickly after that. My body couldn't handle the illness, I was done. I pulled out at mile 16 and sadly took a seat in a med tent. Everything I had worked for since Portland, everything I had endured and I was still without my redemption.

It was bad luck. Getting on sick right before a race is every runner's nightmare but it happens and there is only so much you can do to protect yourself. In the end, I cannot be distraught over what happened. I can't lose confidence or start thinking that I'm a bad runner or my time to race well is over. That would be unfounded nonsense. Instead, I look at the last few months and think how lucky I am. I am lucky I've got to do some seriously fun training with some great friends. I am lucky that I found what its like to feel good on a run again. I am lucky that I have a supportive husband who will do everything in his power to help me reach my goals. I am lucky to be remind of the lessons of patience and perseverance in the pursuit of my goals. As I move past the hurdles of the past few months, I know, soon, my luck will change. I will just continue to get ready and perhaps my chance will come.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

6 month redux



When I started this blog, I genuinely believed that I would be able to, at a minimum, be able to keep up on posting once a month. I believed that running and racing would always be primary to me and I'd continually have all sorts of tales to tell. And while I knew my life would change when Nathan and I opened up our bakery/cafe M.H. Bread and Butter, I really had no concept of what that truly meant.

It's been 6 months since my last post. A lot has happened in that time, a lot has changed. We have now been open for 15 weeks and almost every moment has been consumed by making it a success since we got keys in hand in April. I've been running less, often times so dead on my feet after 14 hours of hard work on my feet that a run resembles more a waddle than a run. But even with sacrifices of (way) less running, less sleeping, more work, more stress and epic struggle, the last 6 months have provided me with a profound sense of accomplishment. I look at what we have (begun to) create and I have an immense amount of pride in building it from nothing. I may want to run more, sleep more, relax more but that doesn't mean I'd change a thing in what we've created. I look forward to continuing to bust our butts making MHBB something great and hopefully in the meantime find some space for balance, sleep and running.

Some highlights from the last 6 months:
 My pregnant sisters! Sarah & Kristin helping me at Bluxome Winery Meet Market




 Bestest everest arrives to help get doors open!

 Doors open!

 Trying to fill the case in the early days.

 My husband looks great in a tux!
 All dressed up for a black tie wedding!

 Morning after fancy wedding sounds like a perfect time to run a marathon!
2nd place at the San Francisco Marathon in 2:52. Not bad for not training.

 We all learn from our mistakes ( like don't drop the mixer full of dough)

 Running baker outfit.

 Words to live by

Finally having a morning off to watch the sunrise on a long run
to the city to see my new nephew!



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Oakland Marathon Race Report

At the start line with speedy friends. Caitlin, Penny and I.
Photo by Chris Jones.

When I couldn't run Napa Marathon a few weeks ago due to overwhelming stress with opening our business, I quickly changed my plans to run Chuckanut 50k last weekend and after the race hop in the car and help my sister and her husband with the drive from Seattle to San Francisco (they moved down which makes me so incredibly happy!!!). I also signed up for the Oakland Marathon when I signed up for Chuckanut. The way business has been going, I am never certain which race start line I will be able to show up at. So I wanted a back-up plan, just in case. Chuckanut went really well and I was very satisfied with my run and had a fun little road trip Bin-Yanko style.

My legs didn't feel bad after Chuckanut except for a little niggle in calf/ankle/foot that sent me running to Psoas Massage to see Scott, not once but twice this week. While my legs felt pretty good, my body in general didn't feel right. I had a laundry list of symptoms including massive water retention (like 15lbs) while not peeing. Coupled with all the other symptoms, I made a b-line for my doctors office on Thursday morning to make sure that my kidneys weren't shutting down. My doctor advised that I not run the marathon if we didn't get the bloodwork back. It would be dumb to run a marathon if I was having acute kidney failure. Obviously.

Thankfully, my bloodwork came back the next day and my kidneys were fully functional. The bloodwork did however reveal (especially when compared to my bloodwork from 6 weeks ago) that my symptoms are due to my thyroid swinging from hypothyroid (which I have been medicating for 6 years now & had dropped my TSH too low) to a more hyperthyroid state. This explains why I have been struggling to feel great since the beginning of the year. While my iron levels have improved, giving me more energy, I haven't felt right for nearly 3 months. I have had insomnia, been hyper emotional, intolerant to heat and extraordinarily hungry. I just figured that some of the symptoms (insomnia, anxiety, being emotional) were because opening a business is stressful. But after hearing from my doctor and understanding what hyperthyroid (even a temporary hyperthyroid like mine- my meds just have to be adjusted) means for my body.

After receiving clearance from my doctor, I decided last minute that I would run Oakland Marathon. I figured it would be an awesome way to see Oakland and even better, it would be a chance to hang out with my mom (who just moved to Oakland) and have her see me race! I didn't taper at all for this race. Yesterday on my 11 mile run, I pondered whether or not this might just end up being my slowest marathon ever. I was/am still retaining water weight (which makes you feel kind of gross/heavy), but I decided that I should give Oakland a go. After all, a week after racing a 50k and not tapering really put me in the mindset of "come what may". Given the nature of the course, I figured I could just run it as a workout. I knew it had the potential to be a long ride on the pain train, but I also knew that with no expectations, I might just have a flipping blast. And I did.

 Photo credit: San Jose Mercury News

I spent the evening in Oakland at my mom's house and made pre-race dinner for the two of us. The usual: greens, chicken and lots of sweet potatoes. Her new place was perfectly located to roll out of bed after a nice long sleep (9hr!!!) and run less than a mile to the start line. I ate a pre-race banana with sunbutter, lots of coffee and headed out into the perfect morning. It was clear and cool without being cold. I jogged over to the start line where I ran into Caitlin who was also running. I was excited to see her as I hoped it meant I might have a workout partner for the race. I knew from previous years results that the women's winner often ran the entire race alone. Knowing how speedy Caitlin is, I knew that I would have to have a pretty good day to bring home the win. As I warmed up with her and then with my good friend and training partner Liz (who was running as part of a relay), I wasn't sure how I felt. I didn't feel bad, but I wasn't sure how 6:xx pace was going to feel.

I had spent the evening before the race figuring out what 2:45-2:50 pace looked like and I hoped I was going to be able to muster then 6:29 min/mile average it would take to run 2:50. But I really wasn't sure.

I lined up a few rows back with Caitlin and my darling friend Penny (who wins pretty much every trail marathon in the entire bay area). It took me 3+ years to convince Penny to run a marathon, now she crushes dozens a year!

The gun went off and off we went. I went out comfortably, but was also well aware that my pace was ridiculously fast given my goal time. My first miles were 6:01 and 6:00 respectively and I knew that I need to pull back a little. The first half of Oakland Marathon contain pretty much all of the near 1,000 feet of climbing for the whole race and I wanted to be conservative until I was done with the hills at mile 11. The course pretty much goes uphill from mile 3 until mile 11, so it was unrealistic to maintain that pace, but I went with it to get my legs spinning. After two miles, I settled in to closer to 6:20 pace and made my way along. I was feeling good and happy. Just content to be "feeling" it. My body was allowing me to clip along without protest, despite all the demands I have placed on it over the last week.

I really wanted to negative split and have enough for a fast finish style long run, so I did not push too hard on the hills. I went comfortably through the Oakland hills, chatted occasionally with my two bike pacers (as the lead female I had a bike pacer) and tried not to get run over by any cars or miss any turns.

It was a strange thing, everytime we came to an intersect it was a question of whether or not the cops were actually going to stop traffic or if I was going to play a dangerous game of frogger. Thankfully my bike pacers did a good job getting ahead of me and making sure I didn't get creamed. But there were a few times when I literally was weaving through cars. The turns were not well marked as there were often cones in every direction. Again, thankfully my bike escorts showed me the way, but it was awfully strange to have the course be so unclear. In fact, with less a half mile to go we came off Lake Merritt and neither I nor my bike escorts could tell which way I was suppose to go! There were no race marshalls at the turn and I ended up back running traffic, scrambling to figure out which way the course went. Thank goodness we went the right way!

For much of the first half, Caitlin was about 20 seconds behind me. I knew she planned her workout to also be a fast finish long run, so I pressed myself to not let off the pace. Miles 7-11 averaged in the upper 6:40s, but I was feeling really comfortable and looked forward to flying down the hill on the other side. Mile 12 was a nice 400 foot loss of elevation and I picked up the pace dropping a 5:44. I let it out a little but didn't get to crazy as there was a lot of race left. It got my legs spinning again and I was able to drop 4 more miles at sub 6:10 pace.

By mile 20, I was feeling tired, but not anything worrisome. More like tired because I raced a week ago and didn't taper and was at mile 20 kind of tired. I resolved to just continue to maintain my pace and not worry about pushing it too hard. Around mile 21, one of the bike pacers told me my lead had grown to 2:20 over Caitlin. I knew that I couldn't let off the pace or do anything that would cause me to blow up, so I just dug in and maintained.

The last 4 miles seemed to take forever, but eventually I made my way around the Lake and closed in our the final stretch. Fittingly, the race finishes up a hill, so I pushed myself up the final hill and waved my arms to pump up the crowd as the announcer called my name. It was thrilling. I had started the day not even knowing if I would have the strength to finish the race strong and instead, I won. Even more satisfying, I set a new course record in 2:47!!

Photo credit: San Jose Mercury News

I think the most thrilling part of it all is the fact that this is the first time my mom has got to see me win a race. It was awesome to be able to give her a big hug just after the finish and see her so proud!

I am very pleased with how the race went, how I felt and how I handled the ups and downs of this week (heck of this year). It makes me very excited for the races to come this year and to see what I can do!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chuckanut 50k race report- A battle of will

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

It started pouring about halfway to Bellingham. Not just raining, raining so hard I could barely see out the front window of the car as we drove through the early morning pre-dawn darkness. I was not enthused. I was downright ready to turn around and drive back to my sister's house and not run Chuckanut. I felt like a cranky little baby. I didn't want to slog through the pouring rain and mud. I was lacking killer instinct for racing, in fact, I was lacking any inclination to race at all. My mind has just been so many other places recently, under so many other stresses, that it lacked the ability to focus on the idea of racing.

I did in fact make it to the start line. Nathan wouldn't give me the opt out or play into my vacillating. He simply got out of the car and laced up his shoes to race and I followed suit, grumbling the whole way.

I saw lots of familiar and friendly faces at the start and felt more at ease. Unlike road races, the energy at the start is much more casual and laid back. I didn't feel like I needed to be "on" from the word "go". I had time to get warmed up AFTER the gun went off. And off we did go...

I started out on the interurban slowly, pretty far back in the pack considering I know I have the speed to take the race out fast. I was probably 20th female through the first half mile, but gradually moved up in the first few miles, dropping my pace down into the 6:50s. It felt pretty easy and I worked my way up to run with Alicia Shay and Cassie Scallon. I assumed they were running 1-2, but was quickly corrected that last year's runner up Jodee Adams-Moore had taken it out hard. By the first aid station just after mile 6, we were already 3 minutes behind. I thought to myself, "well, guess she'll either set a huge CR or blow up- it's a race for 2nd now!".

Yeah, Glenn Photo!!! Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

I never felt truly in a race mindset. I struggled with my motivation as I went up the first slippery climb, my calves protesting. But after all the debacles, fails and craziness of this year already, I resolved no matter what, just to keep moving forward as quickly as my body would allow.

Once at the top of Cleator, I fell into a nice rhythm on the ridge and loped along, feeling neither good nor bad, just pretty steady. The ridge is particularly choppy and has lots of dicey footing, but I managed it better than I've managed anything technical in a long time, probably since I fell last September and hurt myself badly.

The stretch along the ridge from Aid Station #3 to the Aid Station at the bottom of Chinscraper is a long stretch and I just tried to stay focused on moving forward. I glanced over my shoulder a few times to see if Alicia or Cassie were still right behind me but I didn't see them. I ran with a few guys along the trail and tried to prepare myself for the slog up Chinscraper. By the time I actually arrived, I was perfectly fine with the idea of it sucking, taking forever and being a power hike. I figured I could just push the last 10 miles. I hiked as fast as I could up Chinscraper and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was shorter than I remembered. 5 years earlier, I ran a 4:41 and won but my memory of Chinscraper was that is was about 3 times longer. Glad my memory was incorrect.

 Smiling because I know seeing Glenn means I am at the hardest part/near the top

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Near the top I glanced down and saw Cassie, she was a few switchbacks below and I knew that I had my work cut out for me in the next 10 miles. Cassie and Alicia are both very speedy runners and while I too am fast, I didn't know if I had the heart and will to really race to the end.

I hit the road and started descending. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Alicia speeding along behind me, Cassie not far behind. I mentioned to the guy I was running with that I was going to have to do battle. He told me just to bide my time and wait for the last tiny hill with 2 miles to go to make my move. I assured him I was not feeling peppy enough to put moves on people, but he laughed me off and told me I'd be just fine.

Alicia fell into step behind me as we descended down the trail. I really liked running down the trail instead of the road the way the course use to go. Much more beautiful and sets you up better for the flat less than scenic final miles.

We were nearing the bottom when I could sense someone wanted to pass me. I thought it was Alicia, so I said, "nice work Alicia" and moved out of the way. It wasn't Alicia it was Cassie and she was blowing by me like I was walking. It seemed the battle was on. I checked my waterbottle and there was enough water seemingly to get me through to the end of the race. I didn't want to spend time at the final aid station nor carry water I wasn't going to drink. I hate carrying hydration.

I blew through the aid station, as did Cassie and Alicia. I am quite adept at running with very little hydration or fuel, so I figured this worked most in my favor. I quickly took back the lead from Cassie and she fell off the pace. The transition from flying down hill to the extra flat is brutal and I took advantage having running very moderately down the hill. Alicia was hot on my heels. We had over 6 miles to race and I needed to figure out how to get my head into the game.

I hadn't felt like racing all day and there I was, in the throws of battle, trying to find a way to get my mind up for it. I have been reading a book called "Your Brain at Work" by David Rock. It is a fascinating book and talks about how the brain functions and how you can optimize your focus and "direct" our own brain through understanding the science of the brain. I was failing to talk myself logically into racing hard, so I decided to use some of the idea in order to release the right chemicals in my brain to put up a fight. And sure enough, I managed to get enough adrenaline and dopamine flowing in my brain to be hungry for a fight. I was focused and I was into it. I was ready to have fun.

At this point Alicia, had made a little move on me. Moving ahead of me quickly, but only gaining about a 20 foot advantage. I knew as soon as she didn't instantly pull away that she was mine. She had hoped to break me, but instead I could see that I was feeling a lot fresher and had more confidence in the remaining distance.

I pulled past Alicia with 4 miles to go but didn't drop the hammer. I was waiting for the little hill with 2 miles to go to do just what me earlier running partner had advised. I stayed comfortable, alert and ready. I checked back at Alicia occasionally around turns and got myself excited for a final 2 mile tempo.

I crossed the road and hit the little hill and made my move. I simply went, without regard for potentially blowing up. I knew I could do it. I knew my body would respond. I dropped the pace and pushed. It was fun. I hit a 6:50 mile, then for my final mile dropped a 6:38. I looked back a few times and soon could not even see Alicia anymore. I didn't relent. I just pushed to the end. It was incredibly satisfying.

I crossed the line in 2nd place in 4:22, nearly 20 minutes faster than when I won in '08.  Jodee had obliterated the course record and ran an amazing race. Alicia finished 2 minutes behind me and Cassie 2 minutes behind her. Nathan came in a few minutes after that and we said quick goodbyes and hoped in the car back to Seattle. The reason we'd come to Seattle in the first place was not the race but to help my sister and her husband move to San Francisco! (So excited for them to be here!) Nothing says recovery like an incredibly long road trip.

All in all, the weekend was a blast. I did battle in my mind and found new ways to give myself the will to fight. I got up for the occasion when it mattered and I had fun doing it.

Thanks to Krissy for putting on a fantastic race! Chuckanut is a classic!

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