2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review

My husband, who is going to hate this blog post, used to—and quite honestly still does—make fun of my running. So, you can probably imagine my surprise when he, himself, began running this winter…and then told me he wanted to sign up for a 5K. Remember how you felt when you found out Donald Trump was really, truly running for president and it was like a serious no-joke thing? That’s how I felt when the hubs asked me to sign us up.

A Little Background

As you may know, I have been immersed in the world of crazy runners since I started this blog in 2009. And by crazy, I mean obsessed people. My interests have bounced between 5Ks and marathons, and weightlifting and yoga. I even once considered an ultra. Once. Considered. So, I will say that I was sort of wondering how long it would take my husband to get on board the fitness train with me. Judging from his attitude about my running endeavors, I guessed the answer to that would be never. But then it happened. It was last year around this time, actually. Just 7 short years after I first began my health journey, he fully committed to his.

My husband started small—which is how everyone says to do it—something I, myself, completely ignored by jumping straight into training for half and full marathons before my body was ready (thus getting injured). He began walking on his lunch hour. He had a step goal. Not 10,000, but instead a number he thought was more achievable for his current fitness level. Then he started buying salads from the work café for lunch. Then he started bringing salads from home for lunch. (Full disclosure: I make these salads.)  Next, he increased his step goal to 10,000. Just by making those small changes, he lost nearly 60 pounds in about 9 months.

Next thing I knew, he began training for a 5K before Christmas, and he asked me to sign us up for a race so he could have a goal to motivate him. As it turned out, the 2107 Kirkland Shamrock Run was the exact right timing for his training, so I signed us up. (Full disclosure: As an ambassador for Orca Running, I had free entries. As always, I promise to be honest in my review of the race.)

The hubs confessed he was nervous the night before the race because he’d never run 3.1 miles consecutively. I reassured him since I knew he’d been running consistently—which, by the way, was much more than I could say about my own training. Beyond the Metabolic Effect weights workouts I like to do, I’d only been sprinting once or twice a week, and occasionally going for a longer, slow run on the weekend—and only if it was sunny out! He’d been running in the dark after work, in sleet and rain. He’d become a crazy runner.

The Day of the Race

The morning of the race was way calmer than it normally is when it’s just me, which is super surprising, since it was Jamey’s first time getting ready for one, and we also had to get our son up and ready to go over to a friend’s house. Probably because the race didn’t start till 9, which is in my opinion, about the perfect time for a race to start. And also, the hubs picked up our bibs ahead of time.

Another nice thing was that it wasn’t raining, and it had been (and has been) raining a lot here—even more than normal in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, after we arrived in Kirkland and found covered, free nearby parking in the metro transit parking garage, it started to rain. Luckily, it was just a light rain for our short walk to the start line at Kirkland Marina. (You may remember Kirkland Marina from me and my friend Chelsea’s stand-up paddleboard adventure…in a summertime downpour.)

The best thing about starting a race at Kirkland Marina is the public bathrooms. You KNOW us runners are port-o-potty connoisseurs, and when we luck out with public bathrooms at a race, it’s like we’re living a life of luxury. Oh, and the line was extremely short—and the bathroom had toilet paper and soap! I might as well have been carrying around a four-leaf clover.

Afterward, we wandered to the start line. We were excited to see bagpipers on stage, but they weren’t playing. (Fun fact: My husband is also a bagpiper.) I wanted a start-line photo, so I asked a random man to take our picture.

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
The hubs wasn’t thrilled. Also, this is what you get when you ask a dude to take your photo. Next time, I’ll ask a woman. Sorry, dudes, but c’mon! The ladies behind us look cute, though.

Thanks…I guess. Dudes, you guys need to step up your photography game. In the age of Instagram, this is unacceptable! Then it was time to line up for the start of the race. I love small races, everything is so relaxed, and everyone is so nice. We found a spot in the back of the first wave since it was 11:15 pace and under. There were just two waves.

The Actual Race

Then it was time to count down and the bagpipers played us across the start. We set off like a typical race—slower since everyone is just trying not to trip, and even before we hit a quarter-mile, we were all spread out. There was plenty of room on the road to find your own pace. But we were about to hit the first hill. Being in Kirkland, we knew there’d be a couple hills—I think there were three in all. They were steep, but not super long. We took our time and we were smart about the hills, walking when we needed to. By now it was raining in earnest.

One thing I noticed, or did not notice, was mile markers…or rather, the absence of them. Now, that may have just been me not being very observant, but I didn’t see any, and I was looking. I did not wear my Garmin and it would have been helpful to know about how much of the race we had left. It is also useful for writing race reviews. So…I think it was after the first mile that we turned onto a flat dirt path.

The path was thinner than the road. I thought there may be some dodging and weaving, but it wasn’t bad. The only trouble we had was with people with dogs a couple of times. The race allows dogs, which I appreciate, but runners need to keep their doggies a little closer when they run so they don’t trip anyone—we had a couple of close calls.

The course wasn’t spectacularly scenic, but I enjoyed the cute neighborhoods we ran through. I also appreciated the police and volunteers who were standing in the rain and taking care of traffic along the course. We saw one driver who was not happy (and throwing a bit of a tantrum), but an officer calmly told her that there had been signs up about the race for a week. So, yeah. Calm down, lady.

There were a couple of short, steep uphills somewhere in the second mile…I think. Also, it might’ve been around the end of Mile 2 when my husband said to me, “You talk a lot.” Why he thought I would be different running than I am any other time, I don’t know.

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
TBH I never thought I’d see a photo of us like this.

Mile 3 was great. It started (again, I think it was the beginning of Mile 3 because there were no mile markers), on a steep downhill. My shoe came untied, so I told the hubs to go ahead and I would catch up. This was great because I got to fly down the hill, which I love to do. I even got to sprint a little at the bottom. I am such a nerd.

Anyway, most of this mile was near the water, so we had a nice view of Lake Washington. It was really raining pretty hard now, but we were almost done.

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review

Soon enough, we were rounding a corner into the finish-line chute. Is it just me or do you love corners right before the finish chute? It feels awesome, right?

I told the hubs to go ahead and I would follow his lead because it was slightly crowded. And then, what does he do? Like father like son because he totally takes off in a sprint and cuts around a group of people, so I could not catch him. No cute finish line photo for us.

This might be a good time to talk abut the photos. As you can see in the hand-holding photo, the quality isn’t too great. I will cut them some slack on that because it was raining pretty hard. My biggest complaint is that there were only like four total photos of us (I am only in two of them), and we passed at least four photographers. There were no photos of us at the finish line. Not one—I even scanned through all of them in case our bibs weren’t visible. The nice thing, however, is that the photos are free. So, how can I complain? I’m just being nit-picky now, really.

One thing that I thought was really cool was that Orca Running had a PR bell set up near the finish line! I wish all races had that. Hubby got to ring it as it was his firt race and, hey, automatic PR!

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
The hubs got to ring Orca Running’s PR bell! Yeah, I was jealous.

As you can see from the photo, it was very wet by the end, so we did not stick around for any festivities. We really only stayed long enough to get a quick picture in front of the backdrop, which I appreciated. (Again, age of Instagram, people.)

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
The Shamrock Run medals were huge and awesome. The shamrock spins, too. Well done.

The medals also were really well done and very big, especially for a 5K. They have a cute shamrock in the middle that spins around. Very nice bling indeed! In addition, the race shirts came in both male and female cuts, so that’s a major plus because I hate unisex shirts, and I think most women would agree with me.

Overall, the race was very well organized. There were good snacks afterward, too (I had Red Vines!), and I also think there was an after-party in the pub nearby, but we had to get home to pick up our kid.

Thank you Kirkland Shamrock Run and Orca Running for a great first race for my hubs!

Our times:

  • Jamey: 33:13
  • Me: 33:16

7 Tricks for Running a Magical 5K

7 Tricks for Running a Magical 5K

I have shocking news, you guys. Are you sitting down?

Well, stand up.

My husband has been running…and he is training for a 5K…race.

For those of you who might not know, my husband has lost more than 60 pounds since this time last year by walking and by eating well. But he got to a point this winter where he wanted to challenge himself and he started running using the Couch to 5K program.

And then he asked me to sign him up for a race. After I picked myself up off of the floor, I registered us for the Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K on March 11. (Psst: You can use my code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% on this race.)

All this 5K talk has inspired me and now I want to train for a fast 5K again. Running a fast 5K is like magic. When it’s over, you’re not sure what happened, but you enjoyed the hell out of it.

Last time I did that was in 2014 at the See Jane Run 5K with my friend Kim. We both killed it and came in 2nd in our age groups. It wasn’t a PR, though. I think my PR is still 23:45 from the St. Paddy’s Day 5K in Tacoma in 2012. I’m not entirely sure because I don’t care enough to look it up.

See Jane Run 5K Race Recap 2014
Me and Kim at See Jane Run in 2014.

I can beat that, though, right? That course had a huge hill at the end that was like a half a mile long. I mean, I’ll be 40 in September, so maybe I should try to crush it in my 35-39 age group one more time.

(This page may contain reference to products that are affiliate links. I may receive compensation when you click or purchase items through these links. Read my full disclosure.)

For this, I will have to call on my old “tricks,” to help me slay in a fast 5K either later this spring or this summer.

What are my tricks, you ask? Or maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m sharing them anyway.

Give myself time. If I really want to dominate in the 5K, I need to pick one that is far enough away that will allow me to get it right. I have to give myself adequate time to get lean and strong (see below), and then start my run training. In my experience, doing one thing at a time works best for me.

Get lean and strong. I am already doing this, as some of you may know. I work on strength 3-4 times/week. My favorite workouts are from Metabolic Effect and JillFit. The No. 1 factor in my ability to get stronger and stay on the leaner side is consistency. It’s my experience that one will not see resulst by working on strength one day a week. Ya need at least 3 days and ya need a plan or workouts that progress. I also recommend using heavy weights. The other part of the equation is eating well for leanness. That means lots of protein and fiber (fiber is vegetables, guys), and the right amount of carbs/starch for your body.

Run. This is crucial. I need to start doing this.

Find a training plan. Who has time to run every damn day? Not me. I have learned over the years to be realistic when I choose a training plan. Also, I’ve never had luck with free plans on the Internet (with the exception of Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk marathon training). The plan I’ve used twice to get/go after 5K PRs is from Run Less Run Faster by Bill Piece, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. I love this book because it is tailored to my current running fitness. It forces me to be realistic. It focuses on speed. And I only have to run 3 days a week. I like to run, but not as much as I used to. I’ve read and tried MAAAAAANNNNNY running books, and this is my favorite for the 5K and half marathon distances.

Warm up on the day of the race. I think Kim was hating me in 2014 when I made her warm up, but I have to. I cannot run fast on cold legs even if it’s hot out. You’ve all done long training runs, right? Isn’t it like Mile 3 where you finally start to feel good? Well, a 5K isn’t long enough for that. I don’t have time! I have to do some running and stretching before the race. Allow time for that. Leg swings, squats and lunges, and light jogging with fartleks thrown in is how I do it.

Stay focused during the race. I use an old tactic I learned on the cross country team in high school. I focus on a back and then I aim to pass it. Then I pick another back. If there are not backs, I pick a landmark and try to get by it as fast as possible. I know music is controversial, but I use it. There are certain songs that make me feel like I can fly. If music helps you, use it. This isn’t the Olympics, people.

Think of a 5K as a sprint. If you don’t want to puke at the end, you’re not doing it right.

Go forth and slay.

Captain Jack’s Treasure Run 5K 2016 Race Report

Captain Jack's Treasure Run 5K Race Recap

Blimey! It’s 2017 and I still haven’t written a recap for the Halloween race I did last year. I also never cleaned my garage, but…

My son asked me over the summer if we could run a 5K together. He’s run kid races (like 1Ks and stuff), but never a 5K. I was not worried about him not having formal training since he is constantly moving, running and jumping around. The Captain Jack’s Treasure Run seemed to be the perfect race to do with my active 8-year-old.

A 5K option? Check. A pirate theme? Check. Dressing up encouraged? Check. Medals for every participant? Check. Free photos? Check. Beer garden? Check. (Okay, we passed on the last one. What do you think this is, Europe?)

Another reason I chose this race is for the later start time—a lovely 10 a.m. I know some of you parents drew the short straw and have kids that wake before the sun, but my kid sleeps in to a reasonable time. Getting him up early is actually chore. So, we rose at a normal time, put on our pirate costumes (my son wore his old Disney Captain Hook Halloween costume here) and headed out for the race, which is about 45 minutes from our house.

Parking was free and not too far from the venue—Red Hook Brewery—so we found a spot and walked to pick up our race bibs. It was a little chilly in the upper 40s/low 50s, so I wished I’d thought to bring warm jackets for before the race. Mom fail. But, hey, it’s all part of the experience, right? I’m usually standing around freezing before races, so my son was getting to see what the real deal is.

After we got our bibs, we jogged back to the car and warmed up. Along with the bibs, we got awesome race shirts, which I ended up wearing (wish they had a kids size, though, for my son) tattoos, stickers and eye patches.

Back at the pre-race festivities, pirates wandered around handing out treasure (free toys for kids), and a lively crew put on a fun and funny warm up that my son enjoyed and made me participate in.

Captain Jack's Treasure Run 5K Race Recap - start
Us with a random pirate.

The start area was a little narrow, I thought, but they started us in waves based on how fast we thought we’d run and so it didn’t up being that bad. Also, the race was small enough that it wasn’t that much of a factor. A pirate had an old pistol to shoot for the start, which was fun, but a little scary. It wouldn’t work and then, blammo! I thought he was gonna blow the man down for a sec.

But everyone was safe and running. We started in the back of our pack, so we had a slow start. Also, my son’s feet were cold and hurt with each step, so it took us a little bit to get warmed up. The course was nice and flat and paved if just a little narrow (simply a normal biking path). This would actually be a total PR course as long as you start in the front. Starting in the back will make it tough to get around people. The scenery was really pretty with the river and the valley’s green grass and fall foliage, and everyone was in good spirits (which is totally fitting since it’s at a brewery).

My son did the typical kid thing—sprint, then walk, sprint, then walk. And it worked for him. I gave him advice about running races, such as look before you pass someone since a runner might be coming up behind you, and don’t just stop running right in front of people, pull off to the side (that is my biggest pet peeve about races). He also ran the entire race with an eye patch on.

Toward the end of the race, he started to run more steadily. His pace was much quicker than I thought he could do for that long. Proud mom. He enjoyed racing a young girl maybe a year or two older than him for about a quarter mile till she gave in and walked. That made me laugh inside because I would’ve been that girl (No stinky boy is gonna beat me!). With the finish in sight, I asked, “Do you want to hold hands over the finish line or…” I didn’t get it all out because he took off in a sprint to beat me.

Finish Line - Captain Jack's Treasure Run 5K Race Recap
I mentioned the free photos, right? Love this one!

I had to run fast to catch up because I wanted to see my son get his medal. He looked so proud of himself. We then got some water and a banana. Another fun thing this race had was a treasure box. We lined up and then my son chose from three doors to reach into. He got an awesome Brooks trucker hat with a skull and cross bones that I immediately stole.

My son's prize that I wear now.
My son’s prize that I wear now.
Captain Jack's Treasure Run 5K Race Recap - medals
Our fun medals.

I loved this race and plan to do it again next year with my son and maybe even my husband because he started running last month. If you’re interested in signing up for the race on Oct. 29, 2017, don’t forget to use my code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% on your entry. The earlier you sign up, the cheaper it is. Right now it’s only $30 for the 5K and $35 for the 8K. So worth it for all the free stuff you get, from swag to photos, and don’t forget the free beer ticket thanks to Red Hook!

Avast! Read my disclaimer: As an Orca Running Ambassador, I had free entry into this race. I’m not good at lying (clearly not a real pirate), however, so all my opinions are honest and truthful.

Win an Entry to the Iron Horse Half Marathon for You and a Friend!

Win two Iron Horse Half Marathon entries
Not the Iron Horse or Snoqualmie Valley trails. But you can pretend it is if you want.

**EDITED** The winner is Lindsey N.! Sorry for the delay. Thank you for your patience. Lindsey, I will email you. Happy running!

Guys, what are you doing on August 28? How about running a half marathon with a friend…for FREE?!

Orca Running‘s Iron Horse Half Marathon is a point-to-point half marathon on the Iron Horse Trail and Snoqualmie Valley Trail in east King County.  Both trails are the remains of old railroad tracks! According to the race organizers, the course is almost all downhill at a steady, gentle grade, with the exception of some short flat sections. (Sounds like PR material to me!)


I am giving away two entries to one winner because running is always better with a buddy.

You can enter up to two times. Here’s how:

1. Sign up to receive Mom vs. Marathon by email (upper right corner in the sidebar).

2. Sign up for Orca Running’s email (including my OR blog posts). Go here.

Then leave me a comment letting me know how you entered.

Enter by 9 a.m. PST on 7/28. I’ll announce the winner later that day!

Good luck!

2016 Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Race Report

Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon 2016 Race Report
Tiffany, me and Cynthia in Brooks Running’s cute Snapchat booth.

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.

Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon 2016 report
Me, Tiffany and Cynthia picking up packets.

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.

Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon 2016 report
Headed to the race with Cynthia, Alyssa and Tiffany.

Race Morning

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!

2016 Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report
That’s the potty line behind me.

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!

The Race

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.

2016 Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report
Zoë and me with my upside-down tutu.

We took our time and decided to stop every other mile for photo ops.

original_url: android-assets-library://asset?file=file%3A%2F%2F%2Fstorage%2Femulated%2F0%2FDCIM%2FCamera%2F20160618_081514.jpg&time=1466262914007&id=7662
Zoë, me, Cynthia, Alyssa and Tiffany at Mile 4.

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.

original_url: android-assets-library://asset?file=file%3A%2F%2F%2Fstorage%2Femulated%2F0%2FDCIM%2FCamera%2F20160618_083741.jpg&time=1466264261621&id=7664
Tiffany and I liked this graffiti background.
Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report 2016
Shameless flexing race photo.

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.

Zoë's gotta go.
Zoë’s gotta go.
Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon 2016
Real friends fix your messed up braids.

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:

Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon 2016 report
Tiffany, Cynthia, Alyssa, me and Zoë 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.

How to Get Spartan Fit

How to Get Spartan Fit
My son, 8, learning the army crawl.

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 new book, Spartan Fit! which you can pre-order and get free shipping with this link, will be released on August 30.

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.

How to Get Spartan Fit
Army crawl!

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!

How to Get Spartan Fit
Me and my son after our first Spartan workout from the Spartan Fit book being released August 30.

PS: Don’t forget to catch a new episode of Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge on NBC tonight!

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report

Team Honey Buckettes turned 5 this year!

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Decorating at the start line is the way to go.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Me, driving the team in my minivan, AKA The Black Pearl.

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

Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Mel after Leg 1
Mel, after crushing the first leg of the race.

Zoë: Legs 2 and 8

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoë being her cute self.

Me: Legs 3 and 9

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Waiting for Zoë at the Leg 3 exchange.

Tiffany: Legs 4 and 10

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany, AKA the official team photographer, front and center. She takes the best pics! (Here, we are in the Beast Mode bus at the finish.)

Alyssa: Legs 5 and 11

Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Alyssa
Alyssa having the post-race sillies.

Jami: Legs 6 and 12

Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Jami
Jami rocking the sparkle.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Go Mel!

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
There is a place about mid-way through Leg 2 where you can climb down and cheer your runner. This is where we found out what was taking Zoë longer than expected. She’d been stung by a bee on her lip. She’d never been stung before and didn’t know if she was allergic. Luckily, a nearby runner also happened to be a medic, and he stayed with her for the entire leg. That’s right, she refused to quit and she finished the leg, which is over 6 and a half miles long.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Mel and me waiting for (and worrying about) Zoë.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Here comes Zoë, finishing Leg 2 after being stung by a bee! I’m happy to see her smiling, and I’m ready to run!


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Leaning into the 180-degree turn at the finish of Leg 3!

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.

20216 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany during the pretty part of Leg 4.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
This is what the end of Leg 4 looks like. Me in 2014.

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.

Rainier to Ruston Relay
Me running at the start of Leg 5 in 2015.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Alyssa finishing a speedy Leg 5 this year.

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!

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Jami finishing a fast Leg 6!

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Mel toughing out the heat and rocking Leg 7!


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoë finally getting some shade at the end of a very hot Leg 8.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Can you tell I’m hot?

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Happy to be done, but worried about Tiffany heading into Leg 10. It was her first time running that leg, and I have a lot of experience with it.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany was smart and took a picture during Leg 10 of the evil sand.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Water girl.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
You guys. Poor Tiffany. It was so hot.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Alyssa pretending to be scared of Leg 11.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
The Honey Buckettes always meet their Leg 11 runner a couple miles into the leg. Alyssa took one for the team and did Leg 11 this year.

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.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Jami ready to bring us home!

After the race this year, in addition to the group photo…

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Team Honey Buckettes finished 6th in our division (open, female 6-person team) with a time of 8:53:13.

…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…

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Can’t run a race without a flexing pic! This is me getting ready to start Leg 9.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoë is the official team artist.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Goofing off with Alyssa, Zoë and Mel.


Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Mel
Cheers, pretty Mel!


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Cute Tiffany in the beer garden.


Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Zoe and Jami
Zoë and Jami looking fab in the beer garden.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Yay it’s 5:30 a.m.! (Pre-race before leaving for the start.) Front, from left: Tiffany and Alyssa. Back, from left: Mel, Zoë, me and Jami. Love my teammates!