One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

So, the very day I posted my last update about how I was getting back into running...I injured myself. I guess it was more of a gradual injury, but that was definitely the day I hit the wall with it. Apparently running over 18 miles during the week, after a fairly significant break, is not the smartest idea. For the last week and a half, I've been sidelined by my hip, which has, at times, hurt so bad I could barely walk. The other day I tried to jog across a street, and it wasn't pretty. It feels a bit better now, but I'm still not sure about running on it. My knee on the same side has also been sore and I pulled a muscle at softball, so essentially I'm just a mess. I feel like I should take another week off (at least), but I'm supposed to run the Seattle Marathon 10k in four days. I guess, at this point, it's not that likely I will attempt it. Which sucks, because I was actually training for it, and I'm so bad about that usually! I also just got some new Oiselle running clothes from their recent sale that I want to try out! Ugh...

In other news, I did go camping over the weekend with some friends, which was fun. However, I can't say I recommend Viento State Park in Oregon for any other reason than its close proximity to Hood River. That was one loud campground, sandwiched closely between a freeway and train tracks. But the local beers and company were top notch!

Fingers crossed that summer continues indefinitely, so we can keep having fun outside! And...that I can recover and be injury-free for more than two weeks at a time.

How I'm Trying to Be a Runner

View from my run to Gasworks

Every time I try to get into running, I'm pretty good about it for a week or two (because I tend to get obsessive about things), but then something happens to force me out of the habit. I'll get a bad cold, sprain my ankle, take a softball to the knee, etc. After that, it's hard to start up again. In March, I wrote this post about my grand ambitions of starting to run again, but it didn't go as planned. That's not to say I didn't run, but I wasn't consistent about it. I'd do well for a week, and then take two to four weeks off. I'd do one run before a race, and then stop again after that. Now, I'm hoping I'll be able to make this work, and I'm doing what I can to stay motivated.

Getting races scheduled!

For starters, I'm registered for two races: the Seattle Marathon 10k on August 22 and Beat the Blerch 10k on September 12. I think the 10k distance is just about perfect for me. A 5k can seem too quick and, on the other end, I'm just not a distance runner. It would be awesome if I can finish one of these races in under 54 minutes, though more likely the second one. I'm also considering a few additional races for next year. My mom is walking the Arizona Rock 'n' Roll half marathon, and she thinks I should run it. We'll see, since it's not the best timing with deadlines at work. Lynn and I were thinking of maybe doing the Del Sol Ragnar in February, also in Arizona, but we haven't decided anything yet. If we don't, I might go to Tampa for one or two of the Gasparilla races. Other than those, I'll probably fit in a 5k or 10k here and there, but fingers crossed that it's a dry fall and winter, because I'm not a big fan of running in the rain.

Joining Oiselle Volée!

Lynn has been running with the Oiselle Volée team for a while, and at the end of July, they briefly opened up more spots, so I snagged one. Last week I received the "flight manual," and loved some of their principles:

  • Build the Sister Hood: We are only as strong as the bonds we build. We work hard to raise the bar in terms of how women support other women, fostering strength and leadership—not just through healthy competition, but in daily actions big and small.
  • Fly with the Winners: We are only as strong as the company we keep. Choose wisely. Choose people who create positivity. Get serious about ousting the ones who don't. Choose people who bring out your greatness. We are who we repeatedly listen to; we are what we repeatedly do.

Oiselle is headquartered here in Seattle, and it sounds like they do a lot of meetups and group runs in the area. I'm excited to meet some more local runners, since it seems like a fun, inclusive community. And hopefully I'll receive my Oiselle singlet soon, so I can start repping them on the course!

A few other tips and tricks I've found helpful during my on-and-off running trend this year:

  • Drink Nuun before and after any run. Literally as soon as I added Nuun to my pre-run routine, my average pace dropped. I don't necessarily know if the two are related, but I'm not willing to chance it. Sometimes I'll drop a Nuun in a glass before I leave, so that it's ready when I get back.
  • Sleep in running clothes. When my alarm goes off in the morning and running is the last thing I want to do, it's a lot easier to get up if I'm already practically ready. (I realize this sounds weird, but it has worked for me the few times I've tried.)
  • Keep running clothes visible. If they're hidden from me in a drawer (or, honestly, in my dryer for three weeks), I'm less likely to think about running. I recently hung an organizer in my closet and it's literally the first thing I see when I open the door, taunting me with running tops, shorts, shoes, socks, etc. 
  • Run what you have time for. I don't always have a spare hour or more, but it's generally pretty easy to fit in a quick 1.5 to 2 miles at the end of the day, especially during the summer when it stays light so late. And that's better than nothing, right?
  • Track runs with a GPS app or watch. For me, if I don't track it, it doesn't count. I am a data junkie, and love seeing how my runs stack up over time. I don't have a fancy Garmin watch, so I use my iPhone. I prefer Strava to the other apps I've tried (MapMyRun, Nike Plus, Runkeeper), but as long as you're getting useful information, that's what matters. There's this one segment that I run fairly regularly, and Strava shows me visually how much I've improved on it. Instantly rewarding and motivating. (If you join Strava, follow me!)

Now, let's see how long this lasts...

12 Runners, 2 Days, 200(-ish) Miles

When Lynn asked me a few months ago if I'd want to join a 12-person relay team that would be running around the clock from the morning of Friday, July 17th until the afternoon of the 18th, I was (quite appropriately) apprehensive. But it sounded like a unique opportunity, so I quickly opted in. She got connected to the team leader through another friend and didn't know anyone else on the team, but as people dropped out, we were able to rebuild our van with friends (plus one guy who got stuck with us, unfortunately for him, but he was nice about it).

I was pretty busy in the weeks leading up to Ragnar (Mariners games, trivia, backpacking, work, school, you name it), so I didn't have much time for prep runs. In the month leading up to the relay, I was only able to sneak in a quick 1.6 miles one random evening to test out my reflective vest, and it didn't go so well, since I'd just had a beer. (I make great decisions.) Luckily, my long run of 6.8 miles got chopped down to 3.1 due to construction, so instead of running 13.6 miles in total, I only had 9.9. My other two legs were 3.8 and 3.0 miles, so this all sounded doable, despite the gap in my training. I did feel a bit guilty about my short distances, especially when we recruited Erin to fill a gap and she had some major mileage with hills, but honestly I wouldn't have done well with much more. So team was:

Van 1:

Runner 1: Bree - 5.7 miles, 4.5 miles, 3.1 miles
Runner 2: Katie - 3.1 miles, 3.8 miles, 3.0 miles
Runner 3: Erin - 8.2 miles, 6.7 miles, 2.4 miles
Runner 4: Lynn - 3.9 miles, 4.1 miles, 8.1 miles
Runner 5: Josh - 5.8 miles, 8.1 miles, 4.4 miles
Runner 6: Katy - 6.5 miles, 5.6 miles, 3.2 miles

Van 2:

Runner 7: Chris - 4.8 miles, 8.7 miles, 6.3 miles
Runner 8: Nicole - 4.8 miles, 7.7 miles, 5.7 miles
Runner 9: Justin - 6.1 miles, 2.2 miles, 6.8 miles
Runner 10: Jordanne - 3.1 miles, 2.0 miles, 5.8 miles
Runner 11: Charlie - 6.8 miles, 9.8 miles, 3.8 miles
Runner 12: Kevin - 4.1 miles, 8.8 miles, 4.7 miles

The night before Ragnar, I got all of my gear together. It seemed like I was packing a lot, but it was all fairly necessary! The forecast for the weekend was for 80- to 90-degree highs. (Here's the list, since I'm sure I'll need this information again later...)

  • Three running t-shirts and one running tank top
  • Two pairs of running shorts
  • Two sports bras
  • Three pairs of socks
  • One non-running t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and sweatpants for off-hours
  • Light down coat for night
  • Running shoes
  • Other tennis shoes
  • Reflective vest (safety requirement)
  • Headlamp (safety requirement)
  • Tail light (safety requirement)
  • FlipBelt
  • Pillow
  • Fleece blanket (would bring a heavier blanket or sleeping bag next time)
  • Inflatable sleeping pad
  • Face wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick with SPF (which I didn't use enough of)
  • Bug spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dry shampoo (which I didn't use, but only because I was lazy)
  • Bluetooth headphones
  • Portable charger
  • iPhone cable
  • Playing cards (which we didn't use, but should have at the finish)

For food, I brought:

  • Two loaves of bread (but they didn't really get used, because others had some, too)
  • Nutella
  • Luna Bars
  • KIND Bars
  • Dried pineapple
  • Cheezits
  • CLIF Shot Bloks
  • Popcorn
  • Nuun tablets
  • Red Bull Yellow
  • Lots and lots of water

What I didn't have that I would bring next time:

  • Shower Pills (luckily Lynn had a couple to spare!)
  • Extra earbuds for my headphones (again, Lynn was a lifesaver)
  • Flip flops (instead of, or in addition to, the extra tennis shoes)
  • Cheetos (because apparently they work wonders for stomach issues)
  • Kindle

Two days of gear

I stayed at my parents' house in Renton Thursday night, since I had to drop off my dog with them, and I didn't want to drive all the way home after. (Plus, Big Brother was on, and I have my priorities.) The next morning, I got up before the sun to meet my team in Eastlake at 5:30am, where we loaded up the Land Cruiser. It was awesome that Katy had this available from her work, so that we didn't have to rent a van. We would have had a bit more space, but it would have been expensive. It took about an hour and a half to get from Seattle to Blaine, so we arrived with a little more than an hour until our start time. Plenty of time to decorate the van and start hydrating! (Lynn hooked us up with a ton of Nuun, which was so helpful!)

As our 8:45am start time approached, we headed over to the starting line with Bree, who was the team's first runner. They read off the team names before the runners took off, and our name change to "What the Hill" didn't get in, so we heard "Insert Cool Name Here" come over the speaker. Luckily, there were other teams in our position, such as "Placeholder" and "We Need a Name"!

After Bree took off, we headed to the first exchange point. The staggered start times meant that parking lots always had room for vans to park, which was great. I was glad I had a chance to see other people doing their exchanges before mine, so I could see how it all worked, but it was pretty straight-forward. When it was my turn to run, I started off too fast, and I was feeling so hot and tired after two miles that I actually had to walk the two short sections of shade I found. I'm not sure if I felt that way just because it had been so long since I'd done much running, or if it was actually the heat. Maybe both. Somehow I still squeaked by with a sub-9:00/mile pace and three kills (runners you pass who don't pass you back), but it certainly wasn't the best start for me.

Leg 1:
Distance: 3.1 miles
Start time: 9:41am
Total time: 27:19
Avg. pace: 8:49/mile
Kills: 3 runners

Everyone else did awesome on their legs. Erin had the hardest of all, with 8.2 miles of constant elevation gain. But she did it, even though it felt much warmer than the actual temperature of 75 degrees! It was kind of a blur driving between the exchanges, but lots of fun. We cheered for our teammates as we drove past them on the road, tried to stay hydrated, and ate a lot of cheese products. (We had two kinds of Cheezits, two kinds of Cheetos, Goldfish, string cheese, and Laughing Cow cheese. Perfection.) After Josh and Katy exchanged the baton (slap bracelet), we drove to Bellingham, which was the location of the first major exchange between the two vans. It's a good thing we had someone in our van who knew the other people, otherwise we would have been looking for them a lot longer! We only saw them for a few minutes before they took off toward the next exchange, but it was enough time to take a team picture (minus our seventh runner).

After van 2 left, we wandered around Bellingham in search of food, ending up at a place called Local Public House. If only we weren't running and could have had beer! It was good to eat some actual food, though. Once we were done, we headed to exchange 12 in Burlington, where we would pick up with our second legs. We had a decently long break there, so some people slept, and the rest of us just hung out and got ready for our next runs.

The exchange with van 2 was around 6:30pm, when Bree got the hand-off from Kevin. After she started her leg, we went to the next exchange, where I would start from. It was definitely a lot cooler by this point than it had been earlier, thank goodness. My run felt a lot better than the first, even though it involved some elevation. Those actually worked in my favor, as I was able to pass quite a few people and pick up some kills. I was right behind one guy almost the entire time, but I couldn't get him, too...

Leg 2:
Distance: 3.8 miles
Start time: 7:41pm
Total time: 34:52
Avg. pace: 8:53/mile
Kills: 9 runners

Erin ran after I finished, and we took so, so many sunset pictures at the exchange point while we waited for her at the next exchange. We parked alongside a garden filled with sunflowers, which made for a great foreground, and then the colors just got better and better. It got dark pretty quickly after that, which was perfect for when we got to exchange 15, with its disco lights and party music. A fun little mini rave, even though they kept playing the same Bruno Mars song.

It was after midnight when we made the last exchange of the night with van 2 in La Conner. After we wrapped up, we headed to the next major exchange in Oak Harbor, so we could get some rest and not have to drive again in the morning. I was going to try to sleep in the school gym, but it was kind of loud and crowded, so I set up my sleeping pad outside near the van instead around 1:30 or 2am. I was worried I'd be cold, since I only had a really light fleece blanket, but it wasn't too bad, especially once I put on my thin down jacket. I'd probably do that again next time, but with a thicker blanket or a sleeping bag, since it got a little too chillier around 3:30am. Somehow I was mostly able to tune out the announcer calling team numbers all night, and I got up around 5am, since we were expecting van 2 close to 6am.

Bree started things off again in the early morning, and I am so glad we started running our final legs when it was early but light out! Mine was short, but I kind of forgot that it was going to be a bit hilly. One such hill had 200 feet of elevation gain in 3/4 of a mile. I thought my time was decent, though, considering that (as well as the minimal amount of sleep). 

Leg 3:
Distance: 3.0 miles
Start time: 6:53am
Total time: 29:21
Avg. pace: 9:25/mile
Kills: 13 runners

The rest of the morning was increasingly warmer, but everyone still did really well. Lynn had her longest leg on this day, which also included two monster hills, so we stopped before each one to cheer her on and see if she wanted any water. (And, also, to take pictures, because one of those hills was right by a rocky beach.) We had a bit of stress when we weren't able to get in touch with anyone from the second van when we were on our way to the last major exchange, but luckily we found them a few minutes before Katy arrived around 10:30am. Phew!

After leaving that exchange, we headed to the finish line, where we were promised free beer and pizza. One problem: They don't give you any of that until your whole team finishes! That was about four hours away and we were hungry, so ended up buying our beers and food. Oh well. It felt extremely hot by this point, and there weren't a lot of places for runners to wait for their other teammates that weren't in direct sun, especially within the beer garden. We managed to hover long enough to snag a good spot in a barn, but we lost it when we decided to try to find the people from our second van. There was virtually no reception in the area, though, so that wasn't easy. Once we found them, we waited for our final runner, and then crossed the finish line with him as a team. We all look so refreshed, while he looks exhausted! We then received our medals, took a team photo, and finally got the long-overdue beer and pizza. After we finished that second round of beers, we said goodbye to our van 2 teammates and headed to the ferry line to drive back to Seattle.

Now I'm going through some serious Ragnar withdrawals! The day after the relay, I had to take a couple weeks off from running because of a line-drive I took to the knee during our softball game. (And then became light-headed, passed out, got checked by some firemen, yada yada...) I'm getting back into it now, though! My knee still feels a little sore, but it's mostly fine, from what I can tell. I think I'll be in good shape for the two 10k races I have scheduled in August and September. Then hopefully we'll get our next Ragnar (or two!) on the calendar!

Operation Get Skinny

Apparently I'm very much a creature of habit, and once I get out of that habit, it's next to impossible to pick it up again on a whim. Last June (yes, JUNE!) I was doing so well with working out and eating well, but that all stopped pretty abruptly in July. (Let's just say work was more than a bit hectic.) Well, now it's more than eight months later, so maybe it's time to do something about the five-ish pounds I've put back on over that time, and a little more. (I realize that five pounds, in the grand scheme of things, is not that much. But when you're on the small side, it actually kind of is.)

So, March is going to be a fit month. I'm committing to 840 minutes of significant exercise, as well as logging my food intake every day. Also, I'm registered for the Seahawk 12k in April, so I should probably make sure I can run at least five miles by the end of the month.


Two weeks ago I took the first step: buying new running shoes. My last pair was over five years old, and apparently an entire size too small. I put the new ones to use that same day with a beautiful sunset run around Green Lake, and since then I've racked up an additional 12 miles, despite not having much time (or daylight in the post-work hours) to get outside.

Other things I'm doing:

  • Learning how to make skinny smoothies
  • Cutting back a bit on drinking
  • Running even just a mile and a half, if it is all I have time for that day
  • Boring myself almost to death on the treadmill when I know I won't be able to do anything after work
  • Using the Nike Training Club app's "get lean" program *
  • Playing softball with friends

I got off to a pretty good start at the end of February, so hopefully I can keep it up for at least the next month. It's hard to eat spinach when all I want is Cadbury Mini Eggs, though! Anyone else want to join me? Let's motivate each other on Lose It! and MapMyRun, okay?!

* So, I actually tried this last week for the first time since the summer and it didn't end well. It even put me out of commission for a few days. But once my strained neck is 100% healed, this goes back on the schedule (minus the reverse crunches)!