So it’s been a month since the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, and I’m finally publishing my race recap. Better late than never, though. Unless you’re talking about diseases, terrorism or any of the people currently running for president.
It can also apply to running fitness. For example, during last month’s Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half, I asked Zoë, “You know how you know that you’re a distance runner? When you finally feel warmed up at Mile 10.”
A nearby runner didn’t appreciate my observation. I swear it wasn’t a humble brag, though. I was just really, really surprised!
Every time I thought about running the half in the days leading up to it, my stomach turned. I’d done absolutely zero training. At least with other half marathons I haven’t trained for (bad habit), I’ve had some sort of solid base, but my longest run was six miles more than a month before the half. Sure, two weeks before this, I ran a relay, but my legs were each only 4 miles, and I had lots of rest in between.
I had a tough time at the expo on the Friday before the race, picking up my full marathon bib. That’s right. I was registered for the full because I registered right after my Beat the Blerch TRAIL marathon experience, and thought it would be a good idea to get redemption on the city streets of Seattle. But that was pre-shingles and pre-fatigue and pre-not running.
Anyway, this year, RnR Seattle had race jackets for full marathoners. You could try on your size at the expo and then pick up the jacket at the finish. Oh man. That just made things worse. I was fine with not getting a full medal, but a piece of clothing?! Actual wearable bragging material. That about did me in.
I knew I could not run the full. I didn’t even know if I could do the half! But that jacket. Zoë said, “It’s just a jacket.”
She’s so smart.
The only thing that kept me from DNSing the half was that I knew I was strong…and also I’d agreed to run with people. I’ve been consistently lifting weights and doing HIIT workouts since the end of March. I have my strength. I hoped I could muscle through it.
This is also not my first time at the rodeo, and I know that one needs more than strength to get through 13.1 miles on foot. Luckily, I also had Zoë, Tiffany, Cynthia and Alyssa, and they all promised we were going to just run for fun.
There’s no better way to run a race than with friends in my opinion…unless you are going for a time PR, then that’s a whole different ball of BodyGlide.
I met Tiffany, Cynthia and Alyssa in our usual meeting spot for driving into Seattle at 5 a.m. Doing that meant I got up at 4 a.m. Ouch. But I went to bed early the night before, so I had a solid six hours, which is pretty good for me the night before a race.
My only issue was food. This year RnR Seattle changed the course back to a point-to-point, starting at Seattle Center near the Space Needle and finishing in SoDo (south downtown) at Century Link field. We would be driving to the finish and catching the shuttle to the start.
My usual pre-race smoothie would have to be consumed before we got on that shuttle because I don’t own disposable smoothie cups. Who does? So, I drank my breakfast at about 5:30 a.m. on the drive into Seattle, thinking we would be starting the race right around 7 a.m.
Too bad I didn’t wait until we got to the freeway exit because it took us an hour to get off the freeway and parked in a spot at Century Link. That’s not even a mile, guys. We thought the traffic would be so much better having everyone go to SoDo. We didn’t even get onto a shuttle till after 6:40 a.m.
Finally, we got to the start. I don’t know my way around Seattle Center that well and we had trouble locating Zoë. Also, we all needed to use the potties, but the lines were so long they made Disneyland ques look small. So we did what anyone else would do. Took pictures!
Then Zoë found us and told us to get in a damn line for a potty. Total mom move. We got a hot tip that the lines were a lot shorter in the armory, which is a building in Seattle Center that’s warm, has cafés and real bathrooms. Great tip!
I realize I’m more than 700 words into this post and I haven’t even started talking about the race yet. But I’m ready now, so if you’re still with me, here goes:
At the expo, I had my corral changed to reflect a time closer to what I would run if I were registered for the half. I moved up from 17 to corral 7. Because of the shuttle-and-potty fiasco of 2016, we missed our corral start, but were able to hop into 9 right when it started, which I thought was pretty great. I’m not a big fan of being in that big herd of people shuffling along inside barriers. Moo.
Right away, we became known as “the tutus,” since we were all wearing them. The start-line MC pointed us out. Alyssa is getting married next month (uh, this just happened), so she wore a white tutu and we all wore blue ones. I wore mine upside down because I’m an inexperienced tutu wearer. This is typical me.
The first few miles flew by. We stopped often to take pictures. We spent quite a few minutes in front of the ferris wheel on the Alaskan Way Viaduct around Mile 2.
We took our time and decided to stop every other mile for photo ops.
Guess what? Things are about to get way less detailed because I didn’t realize I hadn’t written this entire report yet when I opened it up in drafts. This is a good thing because it means you will have actual time in your day to do other things than read about our boring race.
Not kidding; there wasn’t a ton that happened, guys. The new course was great. Definitely better than the past few years. It reminded me of how it used to be when it started in Tukwila and ended at Century Link.
We ended up making more stops than every other mile, of course. I was hungry earlier than I wanted to be because of the smoothie thing. But I had some really delicious gluten-free Honey Stinger waffles to look forward to. (Best things ever.) Also, we were alllll under trained, and we had some chafing issues, some potty stops, braid snafus, etc.
But whatever. We had a blast…and took lots of groups selfies until Tiff’s selfie stick broke around Mile 8 or so.
Around Mile 10, I started to feel really great. And I even thought that maybe I should’ve run the full. Of course, that changed by Mile 13.
I also discovered that my strength work and sprinting did benefit my running fitness, although I still think I would’ve felt stronger if I’d known I was anemic and had been taking iron before this race. Oh well. You live, you learn about Ferritin.
Even though this race is a giant pain in the ass to get to, it’s still buttloads of fun with all the people and music. My favorite were the Japanese drummers under some random overpasses at like Mile 5. I wanted to stay there.
Of course, the Blue Mile with all the photos of fallen soldiers and American flags along Lake Washington brought me to tears again. It’s heart-wrenching, but beautiful.
We finished the race together holding hands. I’ve yet to see those photos, although they must be done by now. Here’s the one we took post-race:
The only “con” of this whole race was getting back to our car. We had to walk around the Century Link parking lot forever even though we were parked in the Century Link garage on the other side of the stadium.
WTF guys? The only way to get back was to wander back next to the finish chute? Seems like you’d want to spread things out. Instead, we opted to walk on a needle-strewn non-sidewalk next to a busy road to get back. We’re total rebels. (See upside down tutu.)
This concludes my 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report because I don’t remember anything else and because I’m simply boring myself, which is not good for you. This has not been a shining example of a race recap, and I apologize. But I did still manage to write more than 1,500 words, so I feel like I got something done today.
Is this recap better late than never? I don’t know. It’s better done than never, and that’s good enough.
You’re going along just fine and then WHAM-O. You get sick or injured or stressed or busy or bored or sad or happy or sneezy or nothing even happens at all, and you find yourself going a few days without running. Next thing you know, it’s been a week, then it’s two weeks and then you’re like, “I don’t even need you, running. I’m good.”
But then one day you’re going for a nice walk with your partner and the evening is cool, but warm, and the sun is setting, but there’s plenty of light, and you see the trail and you think, “Man, I could really go for a run right now,” and that’s when you know you need to get back into running.
So, how do you do it? “They” say about two weeks off is enough time to lose your running endurance, so that kind of sucks. But what is it you are trying to accomplish with your running anyway?
This is the first thing you need to answer before you even lace up your shoes.
Decide Why You Want to Run
Reasons to run vary for everyone, but some common answers are:
But you really need to answer the question: Why do I want to run? And then I suggest you write it down somewhere, such as in your journal. (I have this sweet Believe Training Journal by pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas that is freaking awesome for keeping track of your running and/or workout goals.)
You could also write your “why” on a cute sticky note and post it on your mirror. Or take a picture of it and make it the screen saver on your phone.
Write it down because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget what it is by the time you finish reading this post. (Sorry I’m so long-winded.)
But why do you need a “why”?
When you have a “why,” it is much easier to keep the motivation to do the things you want to do.
Hey, we all know that as soon as you get sleepy, sad, hungry, sneezy, dopey, whatever, that you will have an easy opportunity to quit. Even if you don’t want to quit. Like my dad used to say: Motivation does not grow on trees. Okay, he did not say that, but he should have.
It is true, though, that motivation does not show up every day. But, if you have a “why,” motivation is a lot easier to find.
Say you’re feeling particularly lazy, er, sleepy one day, and you don’t want to go for your run. But then you see your “why” on the bathroom mirror. And, you’re like, “Oh yeah. I want to be a kick-ass superstar PR-busting runner in my half marathon this fall.” So you splash some cold water on your face, put on your Spandex and head out the door (or step onto the treadmill, whatever you do–like I said, nobody is judging here; this is a safe space).
How to Ease Into Running
Even if you ran a rockstar 10-miler before your running hiatus, you should probably ease back into running that far. First, 10 miles can sound super intimidating if you’ve been on a Ross and Rachel (AKA “a break”).
Or maybe you’re like me and conveniently forget (like childbirth) that 10 miles is actually pretty far, and your brain is like, “Oh yeah, no prob,” but your body is like, “Oh yeah, f*ck you.” Go with what your body says on this one. Trust me.
This leads to another reason to ease slowly into running: You could possibly hurt yourself and then you’ll have to stop running again, and that’s not what we’re going for here.
So, easy back into it. When I say ease, I mean run slow and limit your time and days running.
Run maybe three days a week for 30 minutes each day for a couple weeks. Or, if you must do a long run, make it at least half of what you did before your break, or even less depending on how long your break was.
Been away for a few months? Yeah, you need to start over, so forget about what you did before. Think of this as an opportunity to do things right this time because, we all know, the last time you set a running goal, you screwed it up royally, which is actually a good thing because it means at least you did something and you deserve a crown for that.
Okay, so maybe your “why” isn’t distance-running related. Maybe you want to lose weight by running. The best running for weight and fat loss, I’ve read (and found out personally), isn’t long, moderate-intensity runs. Nope, it’s a couple of sprinting sessions a week, and then once a week, a longer, super-slow run. A jog, if you will.
Or maybe you need some cardio to go with your weight lifting plan. Or maybe you just want to wear the cute Lululemon crops. Or maybe you just feel like running!
Sprinting seems like a counterintuitive way to “ease” back into running, but the thing about sprinting is that there is a lot of rest, which is why sprinting is one of my favorite ways to run. You go hard, and then you walk. Go hard, walk. Go hard, walk. And when I say “walk,” I mean, look at Snapchat.
Do that for 15-20 minutes, and you’ve got your run in for the day.
Running isn’t all about mileage, guys. Again, it obvs depends on your “why.” If you want to train for a marathon, this sprinting stuff won’t work for you in the long run (hahaha).
I hope this helps you get back into running. I am in this place. I am ready to get back into it. I will be going the sprinting route, at first, because my “why” is body composition (fat loss). What’s your “why”? Leave it in the comments.
Tips and Resources from this Article:
Ask yourself: “Why do I want to run?” Nail down your reason to help you keep motivated.
Try getting back into running with sprinting. Here is my favorite sprint workout, which is from one of my favorite books on fat loss, “The Metabolic Effect Diet”: Sprint 20 seconds. Walk till your heart rate (HR) recovers. Sprint 30 seconds. Walk till your HR recovers. Sprint 40 seconds. Walk till your HR recovers. Sprint 60 seconds. Walk till your HR recovers. Do that for as many rounds as you can for 15 or 20 minutes. Then go for a nice 10-minutes cool down walk.
I’m not a Millennial, so I thought I would hate Snapchat. Turns out, I’ve been missing it all this time!
Here is why I love Snapchat:
Awesome filters. Sometimes I wanna look like a supermodel, sometimes I wanna look like a bee and sometimes I wanna look “seriously deranged,” to quote Elle Woods.
You can be goofy, sarcastic, serious. Whatever mood you’re in, there’s a fun filter for it.
It’s like a little story about your day. It’s fun to share little things going on in your day with your friends. You can make a story or send your snaps directly to your friends.
Video! I really suck on video, but I’m getting more practice with video snaps.
Snaps delete in 24 hours. Most of my snaps are just random stuff throughout the day; there’s no real reason to save them. You do have the option of saving them forever, if you want, or even saving your entire day of snaps.
Keeping up with friends! Many of my friends that I’ve met through blogging don’t live near me. It is fun to see them throughout the day and send them little videos and messages.
I have a mild obsession with the Spartan Race. I’ve never done one. I want to. But I’m also a chicken. Plus, I like to train for races and I never knew how to train for a Spartan Race.
When Joe De Sena wrote his first book, Spartan Up, I got to read a copy of it. I liked it enough. It was more about how he came up with the race and about the Spartan lifestyle. It was a little hard core for me at the time. I was hoping for some training ideas.
Guess what? Joe De Sena’s second book, Spartan Fit!, is exactly what I was looking for.
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy to read for free, but as always, I will be totally honest in this book review.
The book starts off again sharing De Sena’s Spartan lifestyle and how others live the Spartan lifestyle. The book also includes a history lesson on what Spartans were really like. It’s all interesting, but JUST GET ME TO THAT TRAINING INFO. (He does give permission to skip ahead right at the beginning, though. It’s like he can read my mind!)
The training section is just what I wanted: a plan of attack. Spartan Fit! gives you a 30-day training plan that is pretty intense from the get-go. That being said, you control your level of intensity. You can easily decrease (or increase) the intensity based on your fitness level. In fact, me and my son did the first day of training together this week.
Day 1 of the plan called for certain exercises to be done at certain distances, but I cut the distance back a little since I was going to be training with an 8-year-old.
WE HAD A BLAST doing the workout. We did army crawls and bear crawls and sprinting and skipping and pushups right out in public at the local park. We got grassy and muddy, too.
The nice thing about the book is that there is a section that explains how to do the exercises…you know, if you’ve never army crawled before. (It does take a little practice.)
Today, we’re supposed to carry buckets of dirt around the yard. Totally looking forward to it!
There is a more advanced training plan for more experienced Spartans, as well, that looks super hard core. Some Spartan Elites, such as Amelia Boone, talk about their experiences and Spartan lifestyles in the book, too, which is fun. Finally, the book has some real-food recipes in the back.
The real meat of this book, though, is the 30-day training plan for your average peeps like me. If you’re interested in training for a Spartan Race or if you’re looking to add some non-traditional strength training to your running routine, I would definitely recommend Spartan Fit!
PS: Don’t forget to catch a new episode of Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge on NBC tonight!
For the past few months, I’ve been feeling like absolute crap. First, I thought it was a nutrition problem. Then, I thought it was a cortisol problem. Then I thought it was a thyroid problem.
I finally know!
Turns out it was an iron problem. Iron-deficient anemia! Yeah, I was pretty excited to find out I’m anemic.
I had bloodwork done by my naturopath and my endocrinologist in the past few weeks. My naturopath (luckily) tested my Ferritin and my Red Blood Cell counts, and both were under the acceptable range. My Ferritin was very low. Naturally, the first thing I did is look up the symptoms of iron-deficient anemia. Here they are from the Mayo Clinic:
Extreme fatigue – check
Pale skin – well, I live in the Pacific Northwest, so…
Weakness – check
Shortness of breath – when I would try to exercise, yes
Chest pain – luckily, no
Frequent infections – luckily,
Headache – check
Dizziness and lightheadedness – check
Cold hands and feet – always
Inflammation and soreness of your tongue – I don’t think so
Brittle nails – not sure because I always paint them
Fast heartbeat – sometimes when I try to go to sleep at night
Unusual cravings (pica) – no, thankfully
Poor appetite – nah
Restless leg syndrome – no
So, I don’t have all the symptoms, but there are enough…uh, not to mention the blood tests. The thing is, the symptoms of anemia are similar to other problems, such as those related to the thyroid, adrenal fatigue, overtraining, etc. But I was not overtraining because I was just doing three 20-minute workouts per week, which was super annoying. I love to workout.
I’m two days into taking an iron supplement. I’m taking this one called Easy Iron. Warning: Do not start taking iron without talking to your doctor and getting your bloodwork done. Taking iron when you don’t need it, can be fatal.
Maybe it’s all in my head, but I am feeling better already. I feel like my sleep has been better quality sleep. When I wake up, I actually feel like I slept. So that’s nice.
It could also be from the gluten-free diet my doctors (both the naturopath and the endo) suggested I be on. Or maybe it’s from getting more sleep.
Yeah, I’ve been getting more sleep thanks to being unemployed. (ICYMI, I was laid off a couple of weeks ago.) I’m getting about 8 hours every night! (Plus, my hubs got us this Cool Mist Air Humidifier that also has an oil diffuser which makes our room more soothing. We use this Good Night essential oil which is a calming blend of chamomile and lavender, and some other good stuff.)
I haven’t been running because I simply didn’t have the energy. I thought it was causing me to feel bad, but it wasn’t the running. It was probably just exercise in general, plus my heavy periods, plus not eating enough iron-rich foods.
I’m so happy I finally know what had me feeling so bad. Is that weird? At least, I know I can correct it and get back to pumping iron and kicking butt out on the trails!
PS: If you’re not feeling right, go get yoself checked out!
This was our fifth year running the Rainier to Ruston Relay, a one-day 51-mile relay. I hope we are still running it when we are old ladies.
This year, we had some changes. Mel’s friend, Jami, joined our team, and we became a 6-person all-female team. In 2012 and 2013, we were a 4-woman team. In 2014 and 2015, we were a 6-person co-ed team. Other changes: I drove my minivan, and we opted to decorate the van up at the start of the race to make sure we got there in time. Last year, we practically threw Tiffany out of the car as the 8 a.m. start was happening.
The start of Rainier to Ruston is always exciting because you never know if you’ll get to use the Honey Buckets before the race begins. It’s such a rush! This year was even better since the race is bigger now and the line was longer than we expected.
Luckily, we made it out on time and Mel started us off with the 8 a.m. crowd (there are four start times now–there were three when we first ran the race in 2012).
Here were this year’s leg assignments:
Mel: Legs 1 and 7
Zoë: Legs 2 and 8
Me: Legs 3 and 9
Tiffany: Legs 4 and 10
Alyssa: Legs 5 and 11
Jami: Legs 6 and 12
As of this year, I’ve now run leg 2 (twice), leg 3, leg 4, leg 5, leg 6, leg 9, leg 10 (3 times), and leg 11. Everything I know about 1, 7, 8 or 12 is from driving it or hearing about it.
Let me just cut to the chase and get into the legs of this race. Now that it’s been 5 years, I feel qualified to discuss each one.
The best legs are: 1-4.
Leg 1 is the start and it’s among the trees and your team drives by and is all excited and honks and screams and plays loud music. (It’s possible that’s just us.) Leg 1 is not on trail, it is on the road, but it’s still really pretty and you can run it fast other than one tough hill. (Of course, this is all according to my teammates since I’ve never run it–but we do drive it.) Mel crushed Leg 1 this year and even surprised herself at her speed.
Leg 2 is the toughest leg, but it’s amazing. You get single-track trail, you get mud, you get to run with the Carbon River rushing below you. It’s a longer leg, too. You get all the glory! Leg 2 is especially tough if you get stung by a bee on your lip, as Zoë did this year.
Leg 3 is pretty. It’s really downhill, so you can run fast. In fact, I surprised myself with a pace in the 8-minute-per-mile range. It’s mostly trail and in the trees. It’s a little rocky, I turned my ankle a couple times. It’s also tough to pass in a couple places of single-track trail surrounded by giant bushes. No river views, but you’re out in nature, and it’s only 4 miles. It’s the kind of leg you can push yourself on. The last half-mile or so is on asphalt and there is a killer turn at the end.
Leg 4 is like legs 1, 2 and 3 mushed together. It’s beautiful trail, some of it near a river, and then there’s some road running at the end, which I always forget about because the first part of the leg is so beautiful. Tiffany reminded me (read: scolded me for not telling her about the road part, which is also a giant winding hill with no shade). Oops. The fact is, Leg 4 connects the dirt trail to the paved Orting Trail. I ran this leg in 2014–the year I didn’t write a race report. I just remember absolutely loving this leg. It was fun, tough and fast.
The other legs are good, but they’re no 1-4.
Leg 5 is pretty, but it’s on paved trail. The good news is that it is slightly downhill and you can crush it. You also get to run over some cute bridges and be near the river.
Leg 6 is another super speedy leg. It’s short (less than 3 miles) and super fast. Jami was at the exchange before we were ready for her!
Legs 7 and 8 are on the Orting Trail. I don’t know much about them, except that they aren’t that eventful. They are on the Orting Trail. I think Leg 7 is mostly on the trail running next to the highway. Leg 8 has no shade.
Leg 9 gets you off the Orting Trail and onto the trail next to the Puyallup River. It has a couple of transitional type areas, first through farms and then later through a neighborhood. It has quite a bit of shade along the river and there were tons of families out the day of the race.
By the time I was running Leg 9 it was in the mid-80s. Luckily, I decided to bring my big Nuun bottle full of ice water because I needed it, as did several other people I encountered on the leg. One woman, I’d seen running Leg 8 already, and she didn’t have water! I shared with her. Another guy was an ultrarunner that just needed cooling off, so he got some water on his head and neck from me.
I ran almost two minutes slower than I ran on Leg 3 that morning, but that’s just how it goes. I’ve been practicing mindfulness and being positive, and that really came into play during this leg. My music stopped working, my knee hurt, it was hot…but I tried to notice the good things (beautiful day, happy families, enjoying my hobby), and let go of the negativity. It worked. I had a great time. I also gave myself permission to walk. Just giving myself permission helped, and I didn’t end up needing to.
The worst legs are: 10-11.
Leg 10 is 3 miles in sand. The trail is lined with tall grasses and blackberry bushes, vegetation that would be in a riverbed. And, if that’s not enough, the trail is down in a canal.
There’s no crowd support. There’s no shade. It’s 3 miles essentially on a beach except you only get a few looks at the Puyallup River, which is I mean, no ocean. There is a place where teams can stop about mid-way through Leg 3, but we never see anyone stopped there. We always stop, and this year we had some extra water, so we filled up ultrarunners’ water bottles and dumped water on runners’ heads. It felt good to help out. I know I always appreciated it.
Leg 11 starts in that same sand, then spits you out in industrial Tacoma. You get to run by empty office buildings, through a freeway construction site and past sketchy bars and shady people who ogle your sparkly skirt. This year, this leg was rerouted a bit at the end, and it seems like it would be better. It’s a long leg at almost 6 miles, but they shortened it a bit since years previous, and they get you down near the waterfront quicker.
Leg 12 is hot, but it’s the final leg! You get to run along the waterfront in Tacoma, but you also have to weave around lots of people who are just out enjoying their Saturday, and other race participants. You also get to photobomb wedding and prom pictures.
After the race this year, in addition to the group photo…
…there was free beer and hot dogs in the beer garden. They also had the Seahawks Beast Mode bus to check out. Of course, we had post-race dinner and beverages, but we were all pretty beat by then.
Let me know if you have any questions about this race. It’s my favorite race every year, even with the bad legs.
If you want, you can click on the years to read my 2012 (leg 2, leg 6 and leg 10), 2013 and 2015 reports. I still don’t know why I didn’t write a 2014 report. You have no idea how much that annoys me…