Friday, February 27, 2015

New website!

I'm moving, on the internet that is! I have long been blogging over here but feel the time (and energy) was finally available to update my webpage to my new name! I will now be blogging at It's only taken me 2.5 years of marriage to get around to it. Thanks so much for joining me over there and hope you will continue to enjoying reading about my running, adventures and antics of there!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015: Finding my wings

Sometime in December, will working on my daily late night baking shift at MHBB, I was listening to Ultrarunner Podcast's Year in Review to fill up the quiet space that fills the bakery. I was catching up on the year in ultrarunning in part because of my inability to participate in ultrarunning and competitive racing in general  during 2014 because of work. I was listening, laughing to myself, saying a few "finally!"s out loud and getting excited about getting back on the scene in 2015.

At one point, host Eric Schranz pondered as he discussed the new sponsors entering the MUT world, "I wonder when we will see our first Oiselle sponsored ultrarunner?" There in the dark, I yelled, "let it be me!!!" And today, I am happy to announce, it is. I have joined the Oiselle family and am stoked to be a part of such an amazing stable of athletes. I look forward to the opportunity to introduce the ultrarunning world more throughly to not only their amazing products, but their approach to supporting the sport of running.

I have been a fan of Oiselle for years, watching the grow, develop their products and build an amazing community around the sport. Witnessing how they have built a culture around their athletes and running has made me want to be a part of the brand. Yes they make great clothing, but I wanted to be a part of the inspiring work all around they are doing in running. I have been following many Oiselle athletes such as Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher and hands down I find the way they are telling their story, participating in the running world and fostering a "F' yeah"fan girl feeling about running is absolutely inspiring. Oiselle's approach makes me excited about participating in the running community, it makes me inspired to want to foster that same spirit within the MUT world of which I have been a part of now for 9 years. They have inspired me; I stand at the startline now with Oiselle mantras in my head "Head up, wings out. Go FAST, take chances" and they are there in my head because it resonates with me, it moves me. As I step back into competitive racing, there is no one else I want standing behind me, supporting me and helping me find my wings. I am very excited to see what we can do together, I am so thrilled to be a part of it.

Also in 2015, I will be joining the Julbo team. My pale eyes require almost constant sun protection and Julbos are an absolutely essential part of my running. I am excited to join such a fierce group of mountain athletes!

Sponsorship is just one part of the puzzle for an amazing 2015. Since starting our bakery in 2013, I have both patiently and impatiently waiting for things to settle down and stabilize so that Nathan and I would be able to compete again. I have held back my running goals and dreams and run what I could and tried to compete where I could. I waited, my passion and excitement for races building and building. I am hungry to compete again, I am hungry to discover how good I can be. I look forward to the opportunity to push myself and stretch my limits. 2015 will be a year to challenge myself at the highest level against the best competition. So without further ado; my 2015 schedule.

  • Surf City Marathon-February 1
  • Napa Valley Marathon-March 1
  • Crewing:Gorge 100k-March 28th (Nathan)
  • Two Oceans- April 4
  • Pittsburgh Marathon-May 1 (potential training race)
  • Comrades- May 31
  • White River- July 25th
  • Altitude training CO- mid July- Leadville
  • Leadville 100m- August 22nd
  • Fall 50- October 24

My two big focus races are Comrades and Leadville, all of the other races are secondary and subject to change. Like my much faster, tinnier twin, these two races have absolutely grabbed and inspired me. I am going to do everything in my power to be on those startlines in the best shape of my life. I look forward to the work and the challenge ahead.

The year ahead is exciting. I can't wait to emerge from my little cave where I have been working and toiling away. I am inspired and passionate about my plans, my sponsors and my running. I cannot wait to see what I can do.

Friday, December 19, 2014

False Starts

I thought 2014 was going to be a good year for me. I had looked forward to the business being stable enough, having enough employees to cover shift and allow Nathan and I some real time away from the bakery. I looked forward to getting my OT qualifier and maybe running a few races actually well trained.

I had hoped Boston would be my great comeback of 2014 after recovering from severe anemia and just under a year after opening the bakery. Instead, I had to DNF at mile 16 due to being severely ill. I was disappointed,  but also knew that sometimes patience is required in a comeback and bad luck happens. After the DNF and a good two months of working myself to the bone with no days off from work, I toed the line at Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon and won! I felt like my mojo was coming back. I felt like I was running happy and excited to sink my teeth into some big goals.

The summer promised for some good training. I ran SF marathon as a training run, easily running a 2:49 with no taper (it felt easy), did some fun adventures in the mountains- Rae Lakes Loop with Nathan and 4 Passes in Colorado with Krissy, got to do a train-cation in Colorado and ran another great training race at Akron marathon in 2:49. I was feeling fit and excited to go after a great time at Chicago which was my next planned A race, closely followed by Fall 50, the USATF 50 mile road championship two weeks later.

But instead of racing Chicago, I found myself at home in bed, seriously ill with what the doctors thought was an ulcer (hence determined not an ulcer). I was unable to eat much of anything for the week after Akron and tearfully had to withdraw from Chicago. I watched my plans, dreams and goals slip away. It was hard, I knew I was ready and my chance did not come. Once I felt better, I was determined to absolutely CRUSH the Fall 50. I was looking to better my 5:59 50 mile PR and felt that dipping under 5:50 was possible. My chance did not come. Things at the bakery became so busy and all consuming in those weeks that there was no opportunity for me to leave and run the race. I was feeling mostly better from my "ulcer", but to fly across the country to race was just impossible with work.

Honestly, I felt crushed. I watched everything I had worked for over the summer slip away. I knew it was not simply a matter of taking my fitness to a different race, I had missed my chance this time. While I did in fact sign up immediately for California International Marathon, I knew that race would be after not having a single day off from work (which I lovingly call Bakery-Cross Fit since it is such physical work) and my training would likely not be what I wanted. My schedule changed to nights and I worked every day with no days off. I did what I could in training, but struggled. My mind grappled with my goals slipping away, I became disheartened by so many runs feeling absolutely awful. There were times when I just wanted to quit, when I wanted to give up. What was the point anyways? I am not becoming a better runner, I am not getting faster, I don't love it anymore, not to mention that I don't have any sponsors and I am not winning races. I was just mad at running. I pondered whether giving up my goals and dreams would allow me to just love running again.

During the summer of training, I had gotten really excited about my 2015 schedule. LA marathon, Two Oceans, Comrades. I was ready to crush it. I was excited. The hard fall wore at me, made me wonder if I should give up those goals. I didn't want to, but I also didn't want to just run those races, I wanted to RACE, I wanted to be in the mix, fighting it out to the best of my abilities. I don't want to just run, I want to push myself to become something better. I want to challenge myself and my limits.

I refused to give up, I refuse to give up. I love to run. I love to explore and challenge myself. Yes, this year has sucked and it has beaten me down, but I have faith I will rise again. I am excited to be in a place where I can just dig in and do the work and have an amazing comeback.

California International was not my comeback. I ran my fastest time of the year 2:46 and felt comfortable at my goal pace through 16 miles until my mind failed me, the doubts crept in and when I needed my mind to say "YES, FIGHT", I had nothing left. I slogged 8 miles in misery before my true self rallied at the end dropping my pace back down significantly at mile 24. This was not my race, but I learned that deep down I am still fighting, still committed to the comeback, still inspired as ever to see what I can be.

This year has been a series of false starts giving me false hopes and challenging my perseverance and fortitude more than I ever thought possible. It has been an amazing test of will and stamina. While I wanted more for my running this year, I cannot say that it wasn't worth it. Nathan and I have built a thriving business. And I have learned a lot. Now, standing here on the edge of a new year, I look forward with hope and commitment that I will be able to pursue my dreams and goals with relentless fervor. I look forward to going into my own little training world and emerging on the other side as something even beyond what I ever thought possible. The fire is lit and I am ready to ignite.

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 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.

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