Posts Tagged ‘race report’

So many profile frames to choose from. aka: the 2017 Portland Marathon

Date: 10/08/17

Location: Portland, OR

Distance: 26.7 (actual)

Time: 5:12:52

I’ve been putting off this race report because I don’t know where to begin. So much was packed into this experience that I could go in so many different directions with this post.

It could be a lighthearted recap of a fun weekend where I got to spend time with really great friends–in person and virtually. It could also be a tribute to one of my dearest friends who passed away from cancer. It could be a reflection on the loss of my stillborn daughter. It could be a triumphant comeback story where I recount my journey back to running after being in the emergency room less than a year ago due to a pulmonary embolism. It could be a post honoring my aunt, uncle, and friends who are all living with cancer right now. It could also be a post lamenting the end of a thirty-year friendship–where so many of our shared experiences involved running. It could also be a post about one of the many horrible current events in the news. Puerto Rico. Las Vegas. Santa Rosa. Racism. North Korea. Sexual Assault. So much.

It’s October. Breast cancer awareness month. Yep, that’s affecting someone in my life. Check. Yesterday was World Thrombosis Day. Check. This month is also devoted to stillbirth and infant loss. Check. Current issues? Check. There are profile frames for all of those causes.

Check. Check. Check. Check. In a rather superficial, sardonic way of looking at things–so many profile frames to choose from this month.

In truth, so many reminders of struggle and loss.

So why did I run a marathon?

Why do I run in general?

Because in a world where so many horrible things are happening that are beyond my control, this is one small part of my world that I CAN control.

I can’t bring Angie back. But I can let memories of her fill my thoughts as I register for a race she first convinced me to do eight years ago. I can be thankful for the many memories of her that came to me during the race.

I can’t bring Melanie back. But I can allow my thoughts of her to give me strength as I complete the same race that I did with her eight years ago.

I can’t change the fact that I had a blood clot that took up a third of my lung and completely compromised my physical strength for weeks. I can, however, celebrate the fact that I didn’t die and I’ve recovered to a point where running a marathon is possible.

I can’t keep people I love from having to deal with cancer. I can, however, keep them close in my heart as I knock out training miles or when I’m nearing the end of the race and thoughts of their struggles and strength somehow help to put my own, lesser, challenges into perspective.

I can’t change the fact that a decades-old friendship has completely derailed. I can’t change how I contributed to that. I can’t take back my actions. I can, however, do my best to learn from that experience and work to become a more loving, forgiving, and gentle person than the one I was yesterday. Maybe the running miles we shared in the past are somehow contributing to the miles that strengthen me today.

I can’t change the horrible, tragic things that are happening in the world. So much hatred, sadness, and uncertainty. I can, however, lace up my running shoes, get out the front door, and let my breathing and strides create a place of meditation, reflection, and clarity.

I’m grateful that I can run. So I do.

And for those of you who were hoping for a race report, here’s what I can offer:

I loved the race. In true Portland fashion, though, it rained. Light mist during miles 10-12, torrential downpour during miles 13-15. I was also completely focused on the man I saw getting CPR at mile 15. Thankfully, I learned later that he was revived.

Running across a bridge is always fun. The new course crosses St. John’s twice.

My feet and quads started feeling sore at about mile 18. Then they were KILLING me from mile 20 on.

I shuffled across the finish line after five long hours and so many mixed emotions. Feeling grateful, proud, and in control over one small thing in my life.

I crossed the starting line and I crossed the finish line because I said I would and I did.

THAT I can control.




Park City Trail Series Half Marathon

Date: September 16, 2017

Location: Park City, UT

Distance: 13.6

Time: 2:52:59

Today was the last race in the series–a beautiful yet tough half marathon. I signed up for these races with my daughter, Kaitlin, and I’m so happy we did. In June we ran the 5K, in July we ran the 10K, last month we ran the 15K, and today was the finale.


If you look closely, you can see a hot air balloon just over the ridge.

Over the past two weeks, our weather temperatures seem to have dropped at least forty degrees. While we ran last month’s race in shorts and tank tops, today we woke up to below-freezing temperatures and had to really bundle up–including wearing gloves and headbands, long running tights, and several layers–that is, until about five miles in when it started to warm up and we took off some layers.

The race was beautiful–the sky was clear blue, and the winds were light so it was ideal running weather. Overall, I had a really enjoyable time, but in comparison to last week’s race, this was was definitely more challenging.

Trail running is completely different from road running. The course today, for example, was hilly, muddy, and included lots of obstacles–rocks and puddles primarily. So, not only are you simply putting in mileage, but you are also having to be very careful at all times about foot placement. There are also so many pace changes throughout the race–walking on the steep uphills, then scrambling on the downhills. My quads will probably be sore tomorrow even though I’ve been training for a full marathon and have been putting in the miles.

Next up is my last long training run–a 20-miler so I’m ready for the Portland full next month. (I’m kind of scared).

Bozeman Half Marathon

Date: September 10, 2017

Location: Bozeman, MT

Time: 2:42:46

Because Bozeman is my hometown, I’ve been wanting to run this race for awhile. The location also made it possible to meet up with what I refer to as “my Portland group” or the “Montana Mamas.” This weekend, a new name was created: the Montana Mamafia, which I particularly like.

This group goes way back. Decades if you consider that we all graduated from high school together. The running part brought us back together later in life, though, in 2009 when our good friend, Angie, started this whole journey in motion. It was her idea to complete a full marathon as a way to “give the bird” to cancer, so to speak. After years of health issues, it was important to her to do something physically challenging so her idea was for all of us to complete a marathon together. I wrote about that first marathon here, in this blog post.

Since then, in addition to Portland, we have found other races to bring us back together.

Sadly, our dear Angie passed away on May 10, 2016. The last race several of us got to complete with her was a 5K in Missoula in October 2015. 

Following that race, during a lighthearted lunch, we suggested that we should do the Missoula Half Marathon in July. I remember our festive moods instantly diminished after she paused, and said, “If I’m still around.” I feel so sad when I repeat that memory in my mind. None of us wanted to even think about her not being around, yet that’s exactly how it played out.

In solidarity, and to honor Angie and the friendships she strengthened among all of us, we walked the 2016 Missoula Half together–wishing like hell Angie could have been there to join us. After that, we wanted to continue meeting up for races so we chose this year’s Bozeman Half Marathon to be our “summer 2017 reason to get together” and it was great. (We missed Debi–who completed the 2016 Missoula Half with us, and we will keep bugging Mollye until she agrees to join us for a race).

We’ve all had various struggles this past year so, once again, it was great to all come together and celebrate our friendships and the fact that we can still get out there and finish a damn half marathon.

Go, Montana Mamafia. I’m grateful for you all.

Wait. What was my time?!

Date: July 29, 2017

Distance: 13.1 miles

Time: 2:02:32

I must say, I am really enjoying running races without regard to which state they are in.

In the case of today’s race, the Timpanogos Half Marathon, I decided to run it because it happened to be scheduled the weekend my full marathon training plan had me running a 13-mile training run. When I noticed my plan included a 13-miler this weekend, I searched for local races to see if there happened to be a half marathon scheduled nearby. Sure enough, there was.

I was also intrigued by the downhill course. I LOVE running downhill races. In addition, the race website promised a well-supported, scenic race so I overlooked the 6:00 a.m. start time and signed up.

I ended up absolutely loving this course. And, even though my training runs have been much slower–more like 11 or 12 minutes per mile pace–I was astounded that I averaged a 9:20 minute mile pace for the entire race. Starting off, I suspected that a 2:30 finish time would most likely be within reach than realized about halfway in, after I passed the 2:10 pacer, that this could end up being one of my faster times. In fact, I think this ended up being my second fastest time ever. Such a shock to me, particularly since I was in the emergency room at my local hospital with a blood clot in my lung only seven months ago. I’m truly surprised and happy.

If you are considering running this race, here’s what I would say in summary:

Packet pick up was well organized and the packets included standard fare. It did, however, take me three hours to drive to the packet pick up location and back. I joked today that it took me more time to pick up the race packet than it did to run the actual race.

The race shirts were a tad on the small side, but the medium I ordered is wearable–and a great fabric and design.

The medals were awesome, if you are into big, shiny bling. These delivered.

The event itself was very well organized. I felt as though the aid stations were spaced perfectly apart and well staffed. Water and Power Ade were offered at each stop. A couple of the stops–including the start–also offered Gu.

The shuttles to the start were great. It did kind of suck, however, to have to get to the starting line so early. I took one of the earlier shuttles (as they encouraged people to do), and ended up waiting for an hour-and-a-half before the race began. The early start and need to drive almost 45 minutes to the shuttle pick up meant that I got a grand total of three hours of sleep the night before the race.

I loved that they not only offered a bag drop, but they also had a clothing drop at mile one and mile three. The sweatshirt I wore during the first mile of the race was not, however, at the finish line as promised when I checked. Good thing I considered it to be a throwaway one anyway.

The course was the BEST. The majority of the race is downhill on a paved, scenic canyon road. As the course nears the finish at the local high school, it mostly uses well-designed, paved running/biking trails. The course was indeed scenic.

The finish line was great. Runners finished the race by completing a lap on the high school track, then making their way through the medal and food line. Food was plentiful and the volunteers were friendly and helpful.

A very nice feature of this race was that it encouraged participants to honor loved ones who had cancer because it was sponsored, in part, by the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Bibs offered at the start allowed people to write names of people who had either passed away from cancer, or whose treatment was successful. The words read, “In memory of” or “In celebration of” and, as always, I think races are a nice way to honor those we love.

I’ve certainly lost close friends and family to cancer and my aunt happens to be going through chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer right now. She was certainly in my thoughts as I raced today and I made sure to wear a pink “strength” bracelet in her honor.

In summary, I highly recommend this race to anyone who loves a good downhill race. It would not be hard to talk me into this one again, that’s for sure.

Park City Trail Series 10K

Date: July 8, 2017

GarminConnect_20170709-182235Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)

Time: 1:15:33

What a great race! I loved this second race of the four-race Park City Trail Series and already can’t wait for the 15K next month.

The weather was perfect, I got to run with my daughter and one of our dogs, and we had a really great time.

I don’t do a lot of trail running, but I am really enjoying it. It feels more “fun” than a road race even though I have to really watch my footing (or perhaps because of that). The course included two main elevation gains and drops, and the last mile-and-a-half was the fastest part of the course–which I loved. I was also reminded of the increased technical skills needed–I saw two people fall during the course and a woman had to visit the medical tent at the end of the race due to a huge gash on her forehead. Yikes.

I must also give a shout out to The North Face. They are a sponsor of the series and have IMG_20170709_183820-1been very generous with their give-aways. After the 5K race, I was lucky enough to win a drawing for one of their backpacks. This race, they were giving out free dog collars to all of the dogs who ran the race. Awesome.

The aid stations were very dog-friendly as well–with bowls of water for the pups who were running.

Thank you to Salt Lake Running Company for always putting on such great events. I’m grateful to live in such a great place for outdoor activities and people who encourage others to get outside and be active in our beautiful state. There are lots of ways here to #havemorefun




Park City Trail Series 5K

Date: June 10, 2017

Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)

Time: 34:50GarminConnect

My daughter asked me awhile back about doing this race series and of course I agreed. She thought it would be fun because it’s dog friendly; I thought it would be fun because it means I get to hang out with her.

Today was a beautiful day for a race. The race announcer said there were over 500 participants, and we also saw lots of dogs. As far as I’m concerned, this was a perfect way to start a day: sunshine, mountains, running, and getting to hang out with one of my kids and one of my dogs. Loved it.

I also wore my “Stop the Clot” gear for the first time. Recently, I ordered a shirt and a hat from a fellow runner and blood clot survivor. He is doing such good work to spread awareness of clots and I’m gaining a whole new network of supporters. There are lots of us who have survived DVTs or PEs and it’s pretty inspiring. Not everyone is so lucky.

Next month: the 10K!!




Back on the horse. SLC Half Marathon

Date: April 22, 2017

Behind Utah Capitol Building as we neared Memory Grove.

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Time: 2:22:04

Distance: 13.1 (13.35)

I think this was the fifth time I’ve run the Salt Lake City Half Marathon, but this year, the course was completely different–for the better! The race has always started at the University of Utah and ended up downtown but taking the beginning of the course towards the capitol and down Memory Grove was a great change. The change resulted in a more scenic, more downhill course overall.

The best part? My daughter, Kaitie, ran with me and she did amazing. I was so happy to have her company at the start and at the finish.


After days of rain, we were lucky that we had a beautiful, clear day for the race. It was cold, however, and we were glad we wore long running tights, long-sleeved shirts, and covered our ears. As a nod to Science March Day, I added my #resist button to my headband. Other racers were in solidarity and I saw a race shirt that said, “Racing for science.”

I wasn’t sure how I would do since this was the first race I have done since I was forced to walk the January race in Hawaii. My training runs have been slow and I’ve really taken it easy following my blood clot diagnosis in December. Also, while I had gotten in my longer-mileage runs, I hadn’t been so diligent in getting all of my shorter runs in. I was happily surprised, then, to have finished as fast as I did. And, I felt good! At about mile 5, I could feel the spot in my right lung that signaled the location of my blood clot in December, but it was more of a dull ache and nothing else. After a few minutes, the nagging sensation went away and at no point did I feel short of breath or concerned. I now have renewed hope that I’m back on track as far as my ability to keep running goes, and I’m even more motivated to continue my workouts.

Guess I’ll keep signing up for races, keep going to Bikram Yoga, and keep taking my dogs to the dog park.


Best sign? “Run as if United wants your seat.”

Cold start!

shirt & medal–luggage tag!

Finish at old courthouse downtown.

Great day for a race!