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Colfax Marathon Ambassador

colfax-horz

 The Colfax Marathon is a weekend FULL of events. There is something for everyone. Its 2 days and 7 races. Choose from the following:

  1. 26.2 miles = Marathon – It goes through Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, the Confluence, downtown, and along 7 miles of water.
  2. 13.1 miles = Half Marathon – Takes you through the Denver Zoo AND Aurora Fire Station #1
  3. 10 miles = Urban 10 miler – Follows final miles of the marathon through the stadium, Confluence and downtown.
  4. Relay = Marathon Relay – Its the marathon split among a 5 member team.
  5. Relay = Corporate Cup – Its the marathon split among a 5 member co-worker team.
  6. Relay = Government Cup – Its the marathon split among a 5 member of Colorado Elected Officials, Federal, City, County or State & Special District Employees team.
  7. 3.1 miles = 5K – This event is on Saturday at the Start/Finish of the marathon.

I have run the Colfax Half Marathon 3 times. Each year the course changed for the better. This year we run through the ZOO right by the elephants!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 2010 = 2:37:33
  • 2011 = 2:20:33 – Personal Record (PR)!
  • 2012 = 2:37:10 – ran injured
  • 2013 = Plan to beat PR

This year, the Colfax Marathon added an Ambassador Program:

cma-gridWe are excited to introduce you to our 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassadors. This is a select group of athletes who are influential in their personal running communities. They will be helping us keep our runners informed, inspired and motivated. These athletes all have different running backgrounds, but they share a passion for empowering everyone through running. Keep an eye out for them training and racing all over the Denver Metro, joining in your local run club runs, working with our many Charity Partners organizations, and on our website and social media.

I applied for one of the positions and was one of the lucky few to receive the honors of becoming a 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassador! This made my YEAR!!! Words cannot even express how excited I am to become one of the 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassadors! We are a GREAT group of people and will learn a lot from each other as well as helping spread the word about the Colfax Marathon.

We are sponsored by Adidas, so our gear is all Adidas which is also AWESOME!!! Got fitted for some new running shoes Tuesday night, at Boulder Running Company – Denver TechCenter. They are the Adidas Adizero Boston 3 in RED and they ROCK! My feet are in heaven.

Did you know there are over 100 Charity Partners with the Colfax Marathon? Registered runners can choose one of these charities, like Families First (which I am helping) and raise funds for the charity of their choice. How cool is that?!

If you have any questions about any of the events at the Colfax Marathon or training for the event, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Run Happy!

 

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12 Half Marathons Completed for 2012

It is so hard to believe that it is already mid December 2012.  Seems like yesterday when I set my goal to run twelve half marathons by the end of the year. Planning to run one a month, and use September to make up for no races in January. This was, by far, the highlight of my running career.

The journey along the way brought many things. Fourteen degree weather at the starting line, frozen water at aid stations, no water at aid stations, gale force head winds, foot injury resulting in walking boot, travel to other states, raising money for cancer, first true trail race, new friends, spectacular views, and the list goes on and on.

Here is the list of the races:

  1. Ralston Creek Half Marathon – Feb 12 – 2:46:26
  2. That Dam Run Half Marathon – March 4 – 2:46:57
  3. Platte River Half Marathon – April 15 – 2:37:09
  4. Colfax Half Marathon – May 20 – 2:37:10 (my overall PR is 2:20:33 in 2011 – by far a favorite!)
  5. Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon – June 23 – 2:28:24 (ended up in walking boot after – no running in July)
  6. Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon – August 11 – 2:37:49
  7. Denver Half Marathon – Sept 9 – 2:31:56 (took 8 minutes off last years time)
  8. Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon – Sept 22 – 2:23:33 (took 3 minutes off last years time)
  9. Bear Chase Trail Half Marathon – Sept 30 – 2:56:21 (first true trail run)
  10. Boulder Half Marathon – Oct 21 – 2:36:26 (took 7 minutes off 2010 time)
  11. Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon – Nov 11 – 2:40:22 (took 9 minutes off last years time)
  12. Hoover Dam Half Marathon – Dec 15 – 2:36:27

Running is what I love to do. I may not be as fast as a Kenyan or other runners, but I finish and I get the runners high in doing so. I love helping others accomplish their running goals as well. Working with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation running group along with Life Time Fitness Run group I have been able to make that love of helping others a reality.

We all started at square one. Bought a pair of running shoes and just went out and ran. We didn’t really know what we were doing, how hard can running be? After not being able to walk after my first half marathon in 2003, I realized that there is a lot more to running than just going out and doing it. You need the proper shoes, apparel, training, nutrition and mental preparation to reach your goal. With that knowledge, I have grown as a person and athlete. I have created runners out of non-runners and helped other runners become even better runners. It is my passion.

At the end of February I will start coaching a group of Life Time Runners to train for the Colfax Half Marathon. April will start the the Life Time Run group training for the Bolder Boulder 10K, most of which I have been coaching for the Commitment Day 5K. Set goals and get out there. Start with walking and work your way up to running. It is not all a sprint.

48 GUs $50
4 Pairs of Running Shoes $250 (Thank-you Runners Roost sales)
12 Race Entries Hundreds of $$
Completing Twelve Half Marathons in 2012…PRICELESS!

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Three More Half Marathons

It is now June, and I have been keeping up on my goal to run a half marathon a month.That Dam Run Half Marathon The past 3 months seemed to just fly by, I guess running through them helps.

That Dam Run Half Marathon was held on Sunday March 4th, the day after my first training run with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation group. We did a short easy run around Wash park, which was a good pre-race warm up. Eileen, my mentor and now very close friend, said she would come out for my race – YEAH someone to cheer for me!

Race morning was beautiful, the sky was blue and the sun was out. The start and finish of the race were on the top of the Dam Road at the Cherry Creek Reservoir. I live close, so it was nice to have a more relaxing morning at home before heading to the start. Once I did arrive, I walked around the various vendor tents and did some stretching. By this time, the wind started to pick up a bit. There were a lot of people there, I thought wow this is a pretty big race. Not until we were told to line up at the start did I realize that most of those people were running the 5K and not the half marathon. I was very glad they let the half marathon runners start first.

GO! We’re off! It was an out and back course and we ran across the Dam Road then down to the Cherry Creek Trail. This was the first race that ran right by my house! Maybe I should go have breakfast…not. The wind just kept picking up, REALLY?! I thought to myself, must we have a headwind? Of course, when we turned around, so did the wind! No tailwind for me – ugh!

As I worked my way back to the Dam Road, I thought, wow I bet the wind is even worse on the top of that dam… I was right! Luckily, as I rounded the corner back to the top of the dam, there was Eileen cheering me on! She ran the final 3 miles to the finish with me. I was so glad to see her, she really helped me finish. We started picking people off, like girl in the purple, I couldn’t let her beat me, then man in orange and so on. I really think if Eileen had not of been there, I would of walked in to the finish, for I was finished from running in that headwind all race. Thank-you Eileen!

Platte River Half MarathonApril showers bring wet races… Saturday April 9th, was a nice sunny morning making me think that the Platte River Half Marathon on Sunday was going to have great weather. Not the case…

Eileen and I arrived late to the DetermiNation training run, due to missing a turn, so we ran around the park for a 3 mile pre-race warmup run on our own. Steve, Eileen and I were all going to be running the Platte Sunday. We had to tell Steve NOT to run the scheduled 10 mile training run (he is a rookie runner) and just do 3. I believe he ended up doing 4 to 6 because he got lost on the route.

After the run we headed out to packet pick-up for the race.  There was a small expo, so we got our packets and walked around for only a short while and then headed home. I took it easy the rest of the day, got a nap or two in and watched movies. As the day progressed so did the bad weather. It poured down rain all afternoon and got cold out! I thought OH GREAT its going to be a wet race tomorrow.

Platte River Half Marathon

The 3 Amigos

Sunday morning came and there was a break in the weather! It was still quite cool, but it was not raining. I’ll take cold over rain. Steve and Eileen met at my place so we could carpool to the race. Once we arrived, we saw quite a few overdressed runners. I always layer so I can adjust to the weather as needed.

This was to be Steve’s first half marathon. We had him sign-up at Runners Roost during one of our training runs. We checked our gear bags, for after the race, stretched and were ready to go.

GO! I warmed up quite quickly, so by mile 3 I had taken my gloves and long sleeves off. This is good, going to be a beautiful race. The race was a point to point that started in downtown Littleton, worked its way alongside the Platte River (or should I say creek because it is so small), and makes its way into Denver at the 10th and Osage Light Rail Station. Everyone is given a Light Rail pass to get back to the start after you are finished.

Everything was going as planned and I was on track in the first half of the race for a Personal Record (PR)… then the wind blew in at mile 7 and literally blew my race apart! It was so strong at times I seriously thought I was going to blow right into the Platte River! Head and side winds really slowed me down, at times, to a halt. This sucks! Back on went the long sleeves just in time for the rain to start at mile 9. I never thought I’d be so glad to see the mile 12 hill, that brought you back over the freeway and into the finish. YEAH this thing is almost OVER!

The finish changed from the previous year, but the line for the food did not, it was still 3 miles long! I headed to the beer tent to look for Steve and Eileen, couldn’t find them so I got a beer (priorities people – don’t judge). Called Eileen to find out they were in the food area. Told her the line was 3 miles long, so she got me a burger and we all headed back to the beer tent. My burger almost blew off the plate! I was so glad we had some shelter from the wind so I could warm up. there was a live band, so after we ate, the 3 of us got up and danced – great post run stretch of the legs! After the band finished, we headed back to the start on the Light Rail and headed back to my place for showers and relaxation.

Colfax Half Marathon

April showers don’t bring May flowers, they bring more showers! REALLY?! Saturday May 12th, the morning before the Colfax Half Marathon it POURED down rain all day! I thought I was going to have to bring a kayak to the race Sunday morning! Our Saturday training run was at the Bear Creek Trail and boy was it a WET run! I couldn’t see it was raining so hard. I only ran 3 miles since I was doing the half Sunday, so Eileen was going to do 7 and Steve was going to do 15.

After my rain soaked 3 miler, I changed into a dry shirt and headed over to Target to buy some towels and get a Starbucks coffee to warm up. Once again, the so called “out and back” trail was NOT and eveyone got lost. Steve made it back before Eileen, and I had been told by a passing biker about 40 minutes prior that she was about 3 miles away. I was getting worried, 5 more minutes and we were going out to find her. Then here she came around the corner drenched and cold. Horrible time for all of us. We all got warmed up and we said good-bye to Steve, who was leaving for Massachusetts later for a week. Dropped Eileen off at her place and headed home for my nap.

Eileen brought me dinner from her dad’s restaurant (Um, YUMMY) and we relaxed to a movie – perfect pre-race evening. I took a shower, built my little Kristen and called it a night.

Sunday morning arrives and NO RAIN!!! WAHOOO!!!! In fact I was able to wear shorts and a short sleeves for the race. It was a 6am race start, so Eileen was going to see me at the finish. Got to City Park and searched all over for the gear check. I finally asked a volunteer, to be directed back across the park behind some trees – REALLY can we hide it more??? Checked my bag and headed for my starting coral. It was packed, we were spilling outside of the barriers. No worries, with chip timing, it is not a big deal, for your time does not start until you hit the starting mat.

GO! We are finally OFF! Started out good for the first mile, then I started feeling a pain in the ball of my left foot below my pinky toe. Kept running and it started getting worse. Mile 3 I stopped and took off my shoe to see if my sock was messed up or something, no it was fine and so was my shoe. Put it back on and kept going, and it kept hurting more and more. Almost to the point that I thought I was going to have to stop running all together and pull out of the race.

Mile 5 a miracle happened, my foot no longer hurt and I took off! So the first half sucked and I rocked the second half, so no PR set this time. I didn’t even look around in the finishing chute, I just ran! Got my water, snacks and exited the finish area. Now to find Eileen, which proved not to be easy. The place was PACKED with people, tents and vendors. So I decided to go get my bag out of gear check and call her. I worked my way over to the gear tent and was floored by the mile long line of people waiting to get their bags – are you freaking KIDDING ME?! I had no choice, I needed my bag. After waiting for over a half hour, someone that had just retrieved their bag told us to go around to the other side of the tent to the shorter line. We all ran over there, but it didn’t move. I decided to go up front and peer in the tent to see if I could even see my bag – THERE IT IS! No one heard me, so I went in and got it myself. WORST bag pick-up EVER! Called Eileen and we met by an RV and I sat down and ate.

Recapped my horrible race for her and just relaxed. Once I finished eating, we headed back to our cars and met at Starbucks for a relaxing coffee on the patio.

A bad start to my race, turned itself around and made for a great day. Race number 4 of 12 complete for 2012…

Never give up! Run Happy!

 

 

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Cancer is Stupid and Dumb

Cancer: The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells.

It leaves most of us feeling helpless when friends and or loved ones are hit with it. No one should have to deal with this disease. I decided to do something to help find a cure… run! Not to run away from cancer, but to run for cancer. Running is a HUGE passion of mine, ok, ok, it’s an addiction, but as a friend said, “At least it is a healthy one”. I am running a half marathon (13.1 miles) each month this year.

  • February 12th = Ralston Creek Half Marathon
  • March 4th = That Dam Run Half Marathon
  • April 15th = Platte River Half Marathon
  • May 20th = Colfax Half Marathon
  • June 23rd = Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon
  • July = TBD
  • August 11th = Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon
  • September 9th and 22nd = Denver 1/2 Marathon AND Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon
  • October 21st = Boulder Half Marathon
  • November 10th = Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon
  • December 15th = Hoover Dam Half Marathon

I know a lot of you don’t run unless someone is chasing you. Running for me is therapy. I am not the fastest runner, but I finish the race. This is how I’m going to help find a cure for cancer, by running.

In January, I received an email from the American Cancer Society telling me about the DetermiNation Team, in Denver, that would be running the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathons. I have seen their booths in various race expos, and my nephews used one of their signs to decorate for me when I ran the 2010 Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon. That sign hangs in my apartment. Cancer was still very fresh in my hurting heart after losing someone to it in December. I decided to go to one of the informational meetings and see what it was all about.

Team DetermiNation

During my Ralston Creek Half Marathon in February I met Meghan, from the American Cancer Society. We had been emailing back and forth about DetermiNation. After talking to her at the race, I was convinced this is what I had been looking for – running for cancer! The next week I went to the meeting and signed up to join the DetermiNation Team. I was so excited I thought I was going to burst! Finally I was going to use my passion to help others!

Our Kick-Off Party was held at the Uptown Tavern and we got to meet most of the runners, the coach and our mentors. We all had a great time and I could tell it was a fantastic group of people – this was going to be AWESOME! Friendships were formed right away.

The training would be 16 weeks long, and our first training run was on Saturday March 3rd at Washington Park. It was just a quick run around the park, which was fine with me since I was running That Dam Run Half the next day. After the run, we met in the parking lot for a stretch and information from Meghan. My mentor, Eileen, found out that two birthdays had occurred within the past few days, so she made one cake (yellow with chocolate frosting – my favorite) for Steve, and brought an angel-food cake with strawberries for Meghan! OMG that cake was YUMMY!!! Perfect post run snack in my book!

Eileen also came to my race the next day and ran me in for the last 3 miles – more on that in my That Dam Run post…

Each training run is at a different location on Saturdays. I love that, for I am finding new places to run along with new people to run with! This last Saturday’s run was on St Patricks Day at Runners Roost. So we all wore green to celebrate!

I am running for Kathie Thiessen. We lost her in December after only just being diagnosed in August with cancer. She fought hard, but cancer finally won. Everyone called her mom. She is greatly missed. She raised 4 wonderful children, one being my former brother-in-law, Kendall, that I love dearly! I love his 3 sisters, Monica, Andrea, and Jenelle as well. I know Kathie is proud of all of you!

My list of survivors and those I’ve lost is an ever growing list – each one of them will have a place on my shirt during the Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon. I’m going to Kick Cancer’s Butt One Mile at a Time!

You can help support my mission by donating to my site http://main.acsevents.org/goto/kristenirene EVERY dollar helps, no donation is too small.

Lets Kick Cancer’s Butt together!

 

 

 

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Ralston Creek Half Marathon

Sunday February 12, 2012 marked the first half marathon of the year, so I had to run it. I had heard about the race from my friend and co-worker Lysette in December or January (they all blur together). Checked it out online and said, “I’M IN!” As a half marathoner, one goes into withdrawals from not running them. My last half marathon was way back on November 12, 2011, I was starting to twitch…

Saturday morning, at 6:30am, I headed to Life Time Fitness for an easy run on the dreadmill with the Run Club (thanks Greg for being the only one tough it out and show up). After running I would man (or actually woman) a table for the Open House representing the Run Club. It was snowing… I thought GREAT! The race director had just emailed me on Thursday telling me the course was free of snow/ice…that was all about to change.  Luckily, by the time I left the gym at 11am, it had stopped snowing, and got sunny out. Even if it is 30 degrees out, the sun in Colorado can melt the snow and you WILL see people walking around in t-shirts – yes, I was one of those people.

Aidan's 10th Birthday

Aidan, my middle nephew, had his 10th birthday coming on Wednesday February 15th, so we celebrated Saturday night with family and friends. I went up to my sister’s house for Chinese and, by Aidan’s request, chocolate chip cookie pan instead of cake. Yummy pre-race dinner and dessert. I left at around 8pm so I could come home and make final preparations for my race in the morning.

I made my “Little Kristen”. This is done by laying out your entire outfit for the race from head to toe, including pinning on race bib and chip on your shoe if there was an early packet pickup. In this case, we did not get to pick up our race packet until the morning of the race. So I had to make sure I had my race belt that I clip my race bib on. This belt also has holders for my GU (Tri-Berry flavor), and a pocket to hold my Swedish Fish (small red ones only) and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar. These are EXTREMELY important for me to have at EVERY half marathon.

Preparing breakfast for the morning is also done the night before. In a bag, that I will bring to the race, is a water, banana and plain bagel. On the kitchen counter is my bowl, packet of oatmeal (yes Bev, I eat oatmeal now… a lot has changed since I was 5 years old and ran away from home to your house), protein powder and coffee cup sitting on the Keurig. NOW I can relax in bed with a show and get my beauty rest…

Sunday morning arrives, and I’m woken up by my Golden Retriever Wrigley pushing her nose under my arm – time to get up mommy! Normal routine, get up, brush teeth, feed dogs, take dogs out to do their “thing” and then come back in to eat breakfast while watching the news. Note to self – it is FREAKING FREEZING OUTSIDE!!! Its not snowing, but it is only 7 degrees out! Oh boy, this is going to be a cold race. Well, it is only 6am, maybe it will warm up a bit by the 9 am start time…NOT!

The race was in Arvada, CO, so it was about a 40 minute drive from my place. I arrived an hour before the start and got a sweet parking spot on the street by the port-a-potties (a runners dream – easy access & no line) and right by the Start/Finish line. It is STILL only 7 degrees out… Picked up my race packet, grabbed a coffee from the Boyer Coffee tent and headed back to the car to keep warm. Sat with the car running for heat, listened to music, looked at the route map and did some stalking on facebook.

The car that was parked in front of me left, I thought either they forgot something, or they are volunteers heading out onto the course. It was the latter, I saw them at around mile 8 handing out water. Someone else pulled into that same spot a short while later. It ended up being Meghan from the American Cancer Society DetermiNation Denver team (that will be running the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon and Half)  to have a tent at the finish of the race. I too will be running with this group, in Seattle, in June (that will be a later post – stay tuned…). With a half hour left to the start, I put the layers on to run. This consisted of 3 technical shirts – one short sleeved and two long sleeved, with the top one having a half zip top, goat sleeve, fleece hat, gloves and running pants. Plus I strategically placed my iPod under all of the layers to make it easier to peel them off as needed. I am a trained professional after all…

Stopped off at the no line local port-a-potty and headed to the start area. Ate my banana in the car, so now I was eating my bagel and got a little more coffee to keep warm. Looked around for Lysette, Kemp and Heather, but didn’t find them – 3 other friend that I knew were running the race. They were all in the second wave that started 45 minutes after mine.

Finally it was time to line up at the start. I dedicated this race to my friend Ryan Beehler, who we lost one year ago to the day, He was taken far too early from this earth. The race director went over the course and warned us about the snow/ice sections on the route. Lysette found me at the start and gave me a hug and wished me luck – I wished her luck as well and said see you at the finish! Five, four, three, two, one and we’re OFF on a 7 degree morning in Colorado.

I pulled my goat sleeve over my face to help with the cold – that helped a lot. Both of my big toes were frozen and numb. My cycling shoe toe covers would of been nice to have, but would of come right off probably. Mesh shoes are NOT warm in sub-freezing temperatures. After about mile 3 I started warming up. The goat sleeve came down, and was just around my neck, then the gloves came off and went into my pockets. I could also finally feel my toes again – whew!

Finisher Medal

There were several tricky snow/ice sections, one of which I almost went down on. The two girls behind me even screamed when I slipped – told them “careful there”. The scenery was fabulous. We were near the foothills, which were snow covered, and were surrounded by open space. At the first water stop we got Heed (like Gatorade but tastes HORRIBLE, I call it Heave) and water to drink. I drank some Heave and then tried to drink the water, but it was FROZEN!

Around mile 6.6, right before the big switch-back hill, we were passed by a mountain biker letting us know that the lead runners, from the second wave, were about to pass by. There they go in their short shorts and tank tops – are you freaking kidding me?! Maybe I could run that fast if I was half naked in 7 degree weather! One by one the second wave of runners started passing us like we were standing still. Ok, I was walking up that bitch of a hill, but they made it seem effortless.

What goes up, must come down. Finally made it to the top and got to make up some time running down the other side. It takes me 4-5 miles to warm up, so I had gotten my second wind at the top of that hill and felt like I was flying down.

Along the route, I had eaten a few GUs, (I have one every 4 miles) some Swedish Fish and a few bites of Cliff bar. Well, around mile 9 my blood sugar dropped and I had to walk and eat as much Cliff bar as I could to get back to normal so I wouldn’t pass out. At mile 9.6 my friend Kemp passed me and patted my on my shoulder – “Go Kristen”. Then at mile 9.9 Heather, a friend and teacher for two of my nephews, passed me – “Hey Kristen”. That helped more than they know. Was starting to feel better, so back to running I went. It felt like it cooled off again, so I decided to pull my goat sleeve back up over my face…it was frozen solid!

I knew this was not going to be my best race, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to run and start the season for 2012. Finally at mile 12, my friend Lysette passed me. She said “run in with me”, as she flew by. Remember, those 3 friends started 45 minutes AFTER I did. It doesn’t matter to me, because no matter how slow I go, I am lapping everybody on the couch!

Finally, I could see the finish line. My legs were like frozen lead and I couldn’t even pull out a sprint at the end. Nearing the finishing mat was myself and one other guy. I heard the announcer say, “Who will finish first?”, well it was the other guy and he won a prize – UGH! Oh well, I was done and did not get frost bite. In fact, it had warmed up to 14 degrees! Lysette, Kemp, Heather and her family cheered me across the finish line. I got coffee and water right away, along with a breakfast burrito – it was egg, cheese and potato, no chili – YUMMY!

Heather won second in OUR age group – I got 31st, and yes, there were more than 31 in our age group… Lysette’s friend won first in her age group (over 60 somewhere), as she always does.

After the awards I went to breakfast with Lysette, Kemp and a few of their friends. That was the best omelet and hasbrowns I had ever eaten…OK I may of been a little hungry and anything would of tasted good. We all ate with our coats still on, guess we were still defrosting.

This was the first running of this race and I would do it again!

Run Happy and Stay Warm!

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Chilly Cheeks Duathlon

Bike staged

Bike Staged and ready

Saturday January 21, 2012 I completed my FIRST Duathlon – The Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2 at the Cherry Creek Reservoir. It was a cool sunny and overcast day and clear of snow. I arrived an hour before the start, picked up my race packet and got my bike racked and transition pack ready. Boyer’s coffee had a tent with free coffee, so I headed there for a warm up.

This Duathlon was a Run (1.5 miles), Bike (3.5 miles), Run (2.5 miles), Bike (7 miles) and then 50 yard run to the finish. There were 3 different waves, A, B, and C, all were mixed with all levels of athletes. I was in the B wave. I started off with my bike shorts, bike leg warmers (no not the kind from the 80’s), short sleeved tech shirt, long sleeved tech shirt and gloves. There were some pretty serious racers there with top notch triathlon bikes. They were the ones that had their bike shoes clipped into their pedals – that would just be a crashing disaster for me. They also wore their bike helmets for the runs – really does it take that much time to put on your helmet? Then there were the semi-serious like me, down to the super casual like those in cotton everything with coats and a borrowed bicycle. It was a HUGE mix of athletes and abilities. That is what I love about racing, it is for EVERYONE! Of course I made friends, and found some people that live near my Life Time Fitness so I recruited them to join and do our Cycle and Run Clubs – I can’t help it its my passion!

1st Run Leg

First Run Leg

The A Wave took off, so those of us in the B Wave lined up for the first run. The woman next to me was debating on whether she should wear her stocking cap or not. Five, Four, Three, Two, One… and we’re off! Wahooooooooo! Run number 1 started on the road, then made it’s way to the trail. I felt great, but was still warming up. We made a 1.5 mile loop back to the bikes.

I switched my visor for my helmet, running gloves for cycling gloves, and running shoes for cycling shoes. Ran my bike to the mounting area and took off. This is FUN! Well, until the hill came… but I took that hill and shoved it in my back pocket. It was a fun 3.5 mile loop with a sweet downhill to make up for the uphill. I clocked 29 mph down that hill – wahoo that was fun! Made it back to the transition area and dismounted – oh, ok, my legs are like rubber now… Racked my bike, took off my helmet, shoes and long sleeved shirt. Put on my running shoes & visor and took off running for the second leg.

1st Bike Leg

First Bike Leg

Man I could really feel my legs, and they felt like slugs! So, this run was a bit slower than the first and part of it was thru some sand, so that didn’t help my sluggishness… It was another loop, but different from the first leg. The more elite athletes in Wave C were now starting to pass us in Wave B, but I don’t worry about that, I compete against myself. Since this was my very first duathlon, I was happy where I was at. When I made it back to the transition area, it was a lot harder to change into my bike shoes that it was the first time.

Strapped on my helmet and ran my bike to the mounting area and took off. As I headed up the first hill, of the loop we would do twice this time, the wind started kicking in. The rest of the ride was either in a head wind or side wind. As if my legs were not already hating me, the wind had to help them hate me more. I just put my head down and pedaled through the best I could and had fun with it. As I was nearing the end of the second loop, I was trying to decide if I would run the 50 yards from the transition area to the finish in my socks, or actually put on my running shoes. I had seen a lot of people running in their socks to save time, but with my luck, I thought I may get hurt. So as I dismounted and ran my bike into the rack, I switched shoes.

As I ran through the aisles of bikes to the finish line, people stopped and cheered for me. It made me feel like I was about to win a gold medal! They announced my name as I crossed the finish line and a race official came up to me with a Rudy bicycle helmet and said, here you win this! WAHOOO!!! I was beat, hungry, thirsty and couldn’t stop coughing (I had forgot my inhaler), but I thought to myself, wow that was awesome, I am going to sign up for the next Chilly Cheeks Duathlon being held on February 25th!

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TEAM Success!

Platt River Half

Strong Finish in Platte River Half Marathon

Life Time Fitness… I LOVE YOU!

I am a runner, no Kenyan mind you, but I am a runner. Completed my 4th marathon (26.2 miles) last June and finished strong in a half marathon (13.1 miles) on April 10th. The number of half marathons I have run are too numerous to count. The Platte River Half Marathon, in Denver, 2 weeks ago, was by far, the most memorable race I have run over the years. It wasn’t the course, the volunteers, the spectators or the beer at the end that made it special. On that April Sunday, I got a Personal Record (PR), by cutting 15 minutes off of my fastest half marathon! I finished the Platte River Half Marathon in 2:29:02 in a head wind!

How did I accomplish this you ask?! Easy, I am almost 8 weeks into TEAM Weight Loss at Life Time Fitness. I have lost 15 pounds and 3 pant sizes since I started!!!! Which improved my running. WOOT!!! DO THE DANCE OF JOY!!!! It is NOT a diet, but a lifestyle change. There is no more soda at lunch, no more french fries by the handful,  I am just making better food choices over all. With the help of Mandy, my personal trainer and nutritionist, I now successfully read food labels, track my food, have healthier alternatives and work out 6 days a week.

I have tried to lose weight on my own, without results. It just took the right tools and knowledge to get it correct. Life Time Fitness was able to provide me with those tools to help me reach my goals.  The tools for me were:

  • Polar RS400 Heart Rate Monitor
  • CardioPoint test (to find my heart rate zones to make workouts more efficient)
  • Regular workouts (not just running on Wednesdays and Saturdays)
  • Nutrition knowledge
  • Accountability
  • TEAM Weight Loss
  • Run Club (became Run Club Lead)

All of the above helped me get to where I am today. I am a new person and feel FANTASTIC! As I ran the Platte River Half, I kept looking at my watch in amazement. First, I hit 5 miles in under an hour and when I hit 10 miles in under 2 hours I thought to myself, “WOW I think I am going to get a PR today!” Mile 10 had the worst of the head winds for the day, making me feel like I could walk faster than trying to run in it. The break in the race was mile 12, after climbing the steepest hill of the route, we turned a corner and FINALLY got a tailwind! I could see the finish line and could feel myself filling with emotion. This was it! I was accomplishing one of my long time goals – to run faster. As I crossed the finish line, I yelled out “I love you Life Time Fitness AND Thank-you!”

My journey is not finished yet. There are 4 weeks left in TEAM Weight Loss and I also joined the 90-Day Challenge, so I will continue to improve in all areas with a smile on my face!

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Half Marathon for the Cure

MRI

Foot MRI

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Year after year, I Race for the Cure to do my part in helping to find a cure. Seattle and Denver are the two cities I have raced in over the years. Denver is by far the largest – over 50,000 people participated!

This year was different than the rest, for I was unable to run it, I had to walk. Lets go back in time… June 26, 2010 I completed the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon. After the marathon, I have severe pain in my big toe, upon removing the nail polish, the bruise is revealed. I may lose my toe nail. A week later I am still in pain, so I have to have a hole drilled in the nail to relieve the pressure – NOT a fun task. The hole did help a lot. Several weeks later I start running again.

Next toe stop: Leadville 100 in August. I’m pacing my runner, who has already ran over 60 miles. We are in the pitch black with nothing but our headlamps to guide the way. Three miles into the 10 mile journey… BAM! I slam that same big toe into a tree root. “Oh, that is going to leave a mark” I say to myself. And that it did. As the days and weeks wore on, it started hurting more and more. The pain gets to be too much and I head back to the doctor.

Toe

Owie Toe Smiles at Me

Thinking that it is the nail that is causing all the pain, I am ready to hear that it will have to be removed. Upon examination, my doctor says that the nail looks fine, except for the fact that it may come off, and what I may have is a fracture in the toe. An MRI is scheduled (after a trip to Urgent care and an X-Ray) to find out the cause of the pain.

The doctor says I have to stop running until we find out what is going on. I tell her, but I’m training for the Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon on October 17th. Mmm she says, well you may have to sit it out. I had not registered yet, which really seemed like a good idea at that point. She saw my face drop and then said, lets wait and see what the results say.

The day AFTER the Rock n Roll Denver race sells out, I get my MRI results. It is NOT a fracture, but a bone bruise – which she says is just as painful. There was also soft tissue swelling at the end of the toe. So what does that mean, I ask my doctor?! She said, well you need to rest for several weeks, no running. “You can run the half marathon, but you must ice it immediately after the race”, she says to me. “I’m not going to lie to you, it is going to hurt” she says. She put me on 600mg of Ibuprofen 3 times a day. All I am allowed to do until the race is ride my bike and swim. I walked the Race for the Cure, which she told me I had to do slowly, but I wanted to do more.

Rock n Roll Denver

Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon

Now I need to find an entry for the half marathon. I Google for free entries and the only ones available are for charitable entries. Those entries get you registered for the race, but then you must raise $1250 for the charity by November 1st – uh NO WAY, too impossible. I start scouring Craigslist. Answered several ads, but heard nothing back. Posted an ad of my own stating my case and adding photos of me running. That was Thursday, over the weekend I hear nothing. All I see on Craigslist is postings for others wanting entries too. GREAT what am I going to do?!

Sister's Race for the Cure

Sister's Race for the Cure

Monday is here and I drag myself out of a cozy bed to go to work. I am very busy right now at work, which is great, so I didn’t even see that I received a new email… There it is! A response to my “Wanted” post on Craigslist! It read:

My sister lives in Aurora and was looking to do her 1st ever half at this race… but due to some training injuries and work demands, her training hasn’t been what she wanted and she is looking to get her bib to someone who would put it to better use. Her work blocks craigslist, so I am helping her find a suitable buyer…

SCREAMING for joy, I jumped out of my chair! I answered him right away (he and his wife were coming from Omaha to run the race too), and we worked out the details for meeting at the Expo. I was on cloud 9!

Marathon for the Cure

Marathon for the Cure

NOW, I want to make a difference with this race. This was a sign that I was meant to run this event and pay it forward. While looking at information on Race for the Cure, I stumbled upon Marathon for the Cure. Google found it for me once again, so I read more about it. I would need to raise $500 for Susan Komen for the Cure. This was an obtainable goal and I was determined to make it happen. Here is a little information about Marathon for the Cure:

Susan G. Komen Marathon for the Cure® is a grassroots fundraising program offering fitness enthusiasts the chance to join in the fight against breast cancer by running or walking a full or half marathon.

Marathon for the Cure expands the reach of Komen for the Cure beyond the Race for the Cure 5K Series and offers participants the opportunity to raise much needed funds in support of Komen’s vision of a world without breast cancer, while training for and running or walking in some of the most elite distance events in the world.

Race for the Cure

Race for the Cure

Right away I set up a participation site and a Facebook page fund-raising efforts. My excitement for this entire event is not describable with words. This years Race for the Cure touched me more than any I have done over the years. Seeing all the names of survivors and those that were lost to breast cancer really hit me hard. I want to make a difference, I want to help, I know others that have it, have survived it and have died from it. In my 20’s I had a scare when a lump was found, but I was one of the lucky ones, it was not cancer. I had never been so scared in my life over those agonizing weeks of tests and waiting for results. I cannot even imagine what it is like to get the news that you have breast cancer.

We are all in this together, we can ALL make a difference. Every donation can help find a cure for this terrible disease. Cancer does not care what race you are or how much money you make. I am going to fight cancer 13.1 miles at a time. I dedicate the Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon on October 17, 2010 to fight against Breast Cancer. And I am going to kick it one boobie at a time! Lets do it for the girls!

Run Happy!

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Leadville 100 Trail Run

Leadville 10,152 FT

Leadville Elevation

Wednesday, I got a call from Emily, a personal trainer at Life Time Fitness, to see if I would be interested in pacing a runner at the Leadville 100 Trail Run on Saturday. I jumped on the opportunity right away without hesitation! WOW! Leadville! I had paced marathons and half marathons in the past, but had never done a trail run before.  This trail run would be like no other, it would climb to 12,580 on Hope Pass.

Life Time Fitness

Title Sponsor was Life Time Fitness

Our weather had been less than co-operative over the days leading up to the race. The Leadville area, along with the rest of Colorado, experienced large amounts of rain and mud. I wondered how the route would be on race day. Saturday arrived, what a great day for a race! The weather was BEAUTIFUL!!! The car was packed up and I was ready to head East for a great adventure.

At about 3pm, I arrived in Leadville. Found the Start/Finish line, so I got out and checked it out. It was pretty much a ghost town since the race had started at 4am and all where on their way.

After a bit of exploring, I headed to my pacing start, Twin Lakes. When I arrived, the highway was lined with cars on BOTH sides of the road, and every possible spot off the highway was packed with cars! OMG how am I EVER going to find anyone in this?! Pulled into the parking lot and did find a grassy area to park. I got out, and walked around a bit to get the lay of the land. Found where the runners enter the parking lot, which from there they continue up a side road and into the Check Point. Life Time Fitness had a tent set up next to the Check Point, and the only people in it, at the moment, were those seeking shade.  I did run into Kathy, a Life Time Member from Parker, then later Katie, from my location.

Profile

Leadville 100 Trail Run Elevation Profile

This is an out and back course. The runners would go 50 miles then turn around and head back. The portion I would be pacing with my runner was the 60-70mile markers (miles 40 to 30 on the elevation profile). They would just be getting back from climbing over Hope Pass TWICE (the large spike on the profile)! YOWZA!!!!

While I waited for the 7pm to 8pm mark to roll around, I ate a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some string cheese, carrots and then drank Gatorade & Water. I tried to take a short nap in my car, but I was too amped up.  Finally around 6pm I decided to change into my running gear. Doing this in the front seat of a car is quite the challenge.

Now I am ready to go! Grabbed all of my stuff and headed to the Life Time Fitness tent to meet Emily, Phoenix & Katie. We cheered on the runners that were continuing on their way – which was STRAIGHT UP A STEEP HILL! I said “Ummmmm… I’m NOT going up that… hee hee, just kidding”. Some kids were playing on this hill and getting in the way of the runners, so Phoenix went over and had them move out of the way. Of course one of them fell and got hurt, a kid that is, not a runner.

At the tent, we had a wipe-off board crew members could write on to request a pacer for their runner.  Katie took one of the runners from the list when they arrived and was off. Shortly after Katie left, Emily took off with Kamil, another Life Time Fitness member who was running the race. Several times two women came over to the tent to check on pacer statuses.  I told them to keep checking, because pacers were coming in and may keep going.

I had been pre-arranged to pace Kathy, a Life Time Fitness member from Minnesota, so I was anxiously awaiting her arrival. Most of the early evening I had scoured the area for her crew, but it was next to impossible to find the right people if they were not at their vehicles with their runner’s number listed on it. So I decided to hang at the Life Time tent. Time goes by, and finally Kathy arrives, but with another pacer! I introduced myself and said, “Do you have another pacer? Do you not need me any longer?” Kathy said, “Yes, I’m fine”. GREAT! I thought to myself, NOW WHAT?! So, I went and found the women that kept checking on pacers, and asked if they still needed one.  They were a mom and daughter looking for a pacer for the husband/dad. They said “YES!” and I told them, “well I’m your pacer”. Cheers of joy errupted!

Petzl Headlamp

Trusty Petzl Headlamp

Terry, my new runner, was set to arrive at about 8:30pm, which was about 30 minutes away. The sun was starting to set, and by the time Terry arrived it was dark. Headlamps were now our new best friends. I helped Terry’s wife & daughter get him ready for our leg of the race.  He changed shoes and socks, they were soaking wet from the several creeks he had to run through. Long shirts were pulled out and he ate as much food as he could tolerate. After about a 10 minute rest he was ready to go.

The first part of this next leg was straight UP! We scrambled up the side of this mountain and made it to more of a single-track trail. Several race officials were coming back from hanging green glow sticks from sporadic trees to help mark the trail. These came in real handy a few times when it was hard to tell which way to go.  Terry had me go in front of him, so that I could guide him in the right direction and warn him of the many roots and boulders along the trail. We got to know each other a little bit and talked a lot about different races we had run.

As the miles wore on the terrain varied. We had to hike up the inclines, then we would run along the semi-flat portions and the downhill runs. Those darn hills were INSANE! I could hear my heart beating in my head – OH YA, my heart rate was HIGH! I didn’t need a heart rate monitor to tell me that!.  Every once in a while we would have to pull over as far as we could on the single-track to let other runners bye.  I took these opportunities to let my heart slow down a bit. These were short breaks, but they helped.  The first creek we came across, my right foot slipped off the rock and SPLASHED right in the FREEZING cold water – NICE! At one point Terry said, “Did you ever think you would be hiking and running in the middle of the night?!” That got a good laugh out of both of us. Laughing was good, for it made you forget that your legs were starting to feel like rubber… DANG! How do these people do 100 miles, when I’m dying 7 miles into only 10 miles?! Ok, they have trained for it, I have not. The altitude was brutal, if it was not for that I think I would of been fine.

There were about 2 miles left to the check point, where Terry and I would part ways.  We had pulled to the side of the trail to let some runners by. I looked up and he was gone! Well, he must of slipped in between the passing pack, so I continued on.  More runners went by and I still can’t see Terry. GREAT I’VE LOST MY RUNNER!!!! I just kept running along and made it to the checkpoint.  I checked at the table to see if he checked in, I said “I lost my runner”. Luckily he had JUST checked in, so they said he was probably in the food tent. Looked around and didn’t see him, then he came up behind me. I apologized for losing him. He said, no problem, I had gotten him through the toughest part and he was very grateful to me. We went and got some food, well he did anyways, I had one potato chip.

Phoenix was suppose to meet me at this check-point. Unfortunately, we found out that cars were not allowed there and I had 4.5 more miles to go! OH CRAP! Terry said, well I know this was as far as you were going to take me, so did I just want to pace myself and he would go on. I said sure, and wished him luck.  So I decided to rest a little, then continue on. Well, that all changed in a matter of minutes… I sat down to rest and started to feel really weird. Then all of the sudden, I thought UH OH! Got up from the chair and ran around to a tree and lost everything I had in me (sorry gross). After that fun time, I felt really dizzy, so I went over to an aid person and told them what happened. Altitude sickness was the likely culprit – we were at almost 11,000 feet.  They took me to the medical tent, put me on a cot by the heater and covered me up in a huge heavy blanket. I could not stop shivering. They brought me chicken noodle soup and some water. I was in the tent with 3 other runners. Two were injured (one an ankle the other a foot), and the third was delirious and suffering from altitude sickness.

After about 30 minutes they told me and the two injured runners that someone would be here shortly to drive us back to Leadville. It ended up being one of the runner’s crew that drove us down. The only problem, was that my car was at Twin Lakes, which was about 20 miles from Leadville.  I kept trying to get a hold of Emily, but no answer, and I didn’t have Phoenix’s number. It was a long slow bumpy ride down the trail to the main road.  I had them drop me off at the finish line, figured I could find someone that was going to Twin Lakes. They were off to Denver to DIA, so they could fly back to Arizona.

It is now around 1am. I watched a few runners finish, one of which was the FIRST woman of the race to finish!!! WOOT!!! Shivering again I went into the food tent to warm up by the heater and get some soup. I asked if anyone was going to Twin Lakes, no luck. Several more finishers came in.  A couple of them had raced their hearts out to finish before 2am so they could hit last call at the local bar! I talked to the main medical guy and told him I was trying to get to Twin Lakes, that I couldn’t get a hold of any of my crew. He pondered it and said he would see what he could do. About an hour later, he came back and said I think I have a ride for you in about 20 minutes. I told him I loved him – LOL!

Search and Rescue was my ride.  She asked me if I was allergic to dogs, and I said nope, I have two and love them. So along came her Border Collie – oh what a sweet girl she was! I thanked her up and down for the ride. We talked about how she got into Search and Rescue – her husband was also in the business and was running the mobile command center for the race. Got to my car and she made sure it started before she left.

Ah… home sweet home for the night, my car! I stripped down, dried off and put on warm dry clothes. I had gotten the seats in my car all read to sleep on – the front folds down to the back seat, which also folds back to make a bed.  I crawled into my down bag and continued to shiver… 3am, and I was cold and couldn’t sleep. At some point I did fall asleep, for my phone woke me up at 5am when Emily texted me to say she was still pacing her runner – OMG I bet she is going the whole 40 miles to the finish with Kamil! I rested for about another 30 minutes, and turned the car on to blare the heater to try and warm back up. Ok, lets just get up and head back to Leadville for some coffee and watch the finishers.

Barefoot Ted

Barefoot Ted Finishes in 27:16:32.5

6am and I’m back at Leadville.  The local coffee shop just opened, so I got a coffee and a ham/cheese croissant – YUMMY! Walked over to the finish area, and the runners slowly came in. Made some new friends that were waiting for their runners to come in. At about 7am, it was time to break out the sunglasses and cheer on more finishers. This was great! These people had just finished running 100 miles! Then I heard some great news! Barefoot Ted, from Seattle, was nearing the finish line – SWEET!!! Yes, this man runs races barefoot. For trail runs he uses special sandals, like those you read about in Chris McDougall’s book Born to Run.

Born to Run

Born to Run by Chris McDougall

When Ted got near the finish line, I recognized his pacer… it was Chris McDougall! OMG! I was soooooo excited!!! Two great men, that I admired, were right here and finishing together. They looked GREAT! Hard to believe they had just completed 100 miles. Only 10 of it kicked my ass.

I had texted Emily when I got to Leadville to see if she had finished yet. After Ted finished I got her answer, NO. WOW she is going to come into the finish with Kamil – that is AWESOME!!! So I decided to walk to the top of last hill the runners come up before heading down to the finish.

Ted and Chris

Barefoot Ted and Chris McDougall

It was probably about a mile to the top, so it was a nice walk to loosen back up after standing around for so long. The sun was now shining down on us and I was getting warm, which really felt good. Got to the top of the hill and watched runners walking up on the other side. The sighs of relieve were big when they reached the top and saw the finish was down the hill.

Emily and Kamil

Emily and Kamil Finish in 28:54:18.3!

I didn’t see Emily yet, so started to head back to the finish. About 100 yards from the finish I spotted Phoenix.  We met up and he said Emily had called and she was close. So back up towards the hill we went. Now I had a cow bell, and we both shook them as each runner went by. As we got to the top of the hill, we spotted Emily and Kamil. They were spent! I so did not blame them.  Emily said that around 5am, they pulled over to the side of the trail and took a 15 minute nap. They decided that once they were down the hill and closer to the red carpet, that they would run in the rest of the way. Phoenix and I ran them both in, ringing our cow bells the whole way.That was AWESOME! Kamil’s Dad had found us, he was Kamil’s crew. We got them checked in and to the food tent.  The runners are weighed at the start and finish of the race. Some were immediately taken to the medical tent. It was a variety of delirious runners to those that look like they could keep running.

The Life Time crew was going to head to breakfast, but I opted to head back home to beat the I-70 Sunday traffic. This was such an incredible experience. Would I ever run an entire ultramarathon? HELL NO! Would I ever pace one again? Mmmmm maybe, but I would have to train better for it, like running in higher altitude. For now, I think I’ll just stick with Half Marathons, like the Boulder Half in September and the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October.

Terry, my runner, finished the Leadville 100 Trail Run in 29:17:06.5 – so proud of him! WAY TO GO TERRY!

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Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2010

On June 26, 2010, I ran the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. It took 6 months of training, 345 running miles, one toe nail, a little blood, some tears and a huge amount of desire and determination to complete the race.  I am not a fast runner, by any means, but I finish.  The challenge for me is the thrill of the race. Endorphins kick in and you just GO!

Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

This was my fourth

marathon. The other three marathons were as follows:

  1. North Olympic Discovery Marathon 2006 (Port Angeles, WA)
  2. Chicago Marathon 2006 (my favorite one by far)
  3. Eugene Marathon 2007 (Eugene, OR)

People thought I was nuts to go on vacation to run a marathon. Actually, most people just thought I was plain crazy. These comments were, of course, from my non-running friends and family. I would get asked “will some body be chasing you?!” or “how far is that marathon?!”. I would just laugh and educate these couch potatoes.

How did I come to decide to run the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon when I live in Colorado? Yes, there are much closer races to home, but this one was special.  Back in October 2009, I went to the Denver Marathon & Half Marathon race expo to pick up my packet for the Half Marathon. The Denver Marathon was going to be joining the Rock ‘n’ Roll series in 2010, so they had a variety of booths set up for the various Rock ‘n’ Roll races.  One booth was for Seattle and you could enter to win a free entry into a Rock ‘n’ Roll race of your choice. I moved to Colorado in 2007 from Seattle, so of course Seattle was my FIRST choice on the entry. I ran the race and time went by. About 2 months later, I received an email that I had won a free entry to the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon from the Denver Marathon! I FLEW out of my chair at work and ran up and down the halls jumping up and down with joy!

There was absolutely NO question that I would indeed sign up and run the full marathon!

Deep Snow

Colorado Snow Storm

Training started Christmas weekend. My plan was all laid out and ready to go. Living in Colorado, weather can be an issue in the winter. A Summer marathon, means training in all different types of weather. I had everything from ice, hail, rain, snow, overcast, sunny, hot and cold. The first 6 mile run of my training was on icy sidewalks. Yes, right after mile one…BOOM down I went. It seemed to not fail, that on the weekends, we would get a snow storm and I was forced to run my long run on a treadmill at Life Time Fitness. I did not want to risk any more falls. My longest treadmill run during this training was 15 miles. Luckily, I am a TV and sports junkie, so the row of TVs on the wall at Life Time Fitness made these mile go by quickly.

In March I joined running group with Road Runner Sports. I had not been in a running group since leaving Seattle in 2007. To gain a larger participation base, I helped the leader with ideas to get the group more exposure. I created a Google Groups page, this is how we all communication with one another for long runs, races, training plans etc. It is a GREAT group of people. We run every Saturday morning at 8am (and added a 6:30am group to beat the summer heat), and on Wednesdays at 6pm. This group really helped me get more out of my training.

Seattle Sights

Seattle Sights

Finally after all of the training, my trip to Seattle was here.  I left Tuesday after work and stayed until the following Wednesday.  This way I had time before and after the marathon to have fun and relax. It was great to go back and act like a tourist. I took in the Cubs vs Mariners game after I hit the race expo. Those are my dream World Series teams! The Cubs ended up winning in 13 innings!

The day before the marathon, I made sure to take it easy and drink lots of fluids.  I was staying with my friend Matt, so we stayed in and got pizza for dinner and watched a movie.  All of my race day items were laid out. I built a mini-Kristen to make sure I had everything. This is a ritual of mine and a lot of runners. You lay out your entire outfit for the race, this includes shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, race bib, timing chip, iPod, and any nutrition you plan to carry during the race.  Also packed was clothing for after the race. This all goes into the “bag check” bag that you load on UPS trucks before the start of the race. At the end you find your bag waiting patiently for you. We made it an early night since we had to leave the house at 4:30am.

Race morning, I got up as soon as my alarm went off. Got dressed & made my pre-race oatmeal with protein powder.  I put it in a paper cup so I could eat it on the way to the shuttle buses.  This was a point to point race.  So we all loaded shuttle buses at the finish of the race (near Qwest Field and Safeco Field) and were bused South to Tukwilla for the start.  Matt was kind enough to get up early and drop me off at the buses.

We loaded the bus and were on our way… unfortunately, our driver had NEVER been to Seattle in his life AND was not given a map to the start! Yes, he got us lost! Luckily, another runner when up to the front of the bus and directed him to where we needed to go.  This is why you get to races early, to plan for the unexpected. We clapped and thanked our driver when we arrived safely. It was an hour and a half until the race was to start.  I walked around to scope everything out, then found a spot to sit and eat the rest of my breakfast.  I brought another paper cup, a small carton of milk & Cheerios – YUMMY! After cereal I had a banana along with a bagel the race provided. In my scoping adventure, I had found a row of Port-a-Potties that did not have a line, so I took the opportunity to use it before the line began!

Seattle RocknRoll Marathon Start

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Start

This race was also to start in waves. I was in wave number 27, so at 7am I entered my coral and waited for us to make our way to the start.  While waiting, I made friends with a girl from Chicago, Monica, and we are now Facebook friends! It took 45 minutes for our wave to hit the start line! AND WE WERE OFF!!!

After training at the mile high altitude of Colorado, this Sea-Level running was AWESOME!!! I was NEVER out of breath in the entire race! WOW what a difference that made.

This was quite a hilly course, with many out and back spurs. Our first spur was once we hit the I-90 floating bridge.  Here the half-marathon headed west and the full-marathon headed east across the bridge. So of course this was an uphill battle. Being out on the bridge also brought the wind. At least once we turned around on the bridge, it was downhill until we headed up to the tunnel. At the tunnel is where the half and full marathoners met up again. There was a band in the tunnel and MAN that was LOUD!!! Once out of the tunnel, we headed towards downtown Seattle and worked our way to the Columbia street on-ramp to the Viaduct. Here was another half and full split.  The half went South and full went North.  We were on the lower level of the Viaduct and headed through the Battery Street Tunnel. Here again we encountered a long gradual hill up and over the Aurora Bridge. At the turn around it was downhill back across the bridge and through the tunnel. This brought us to the top level of the Viaduct with great views of Puget Sound, the waterfront, Mount Rainier and the stadiums.

Mile 22 is where it all changed… Approaching the off-ramp from the Viaduct, that goes down to the stadiums where the finish was, I noticed we were not turning, but kept on going forward instead. WHAT?! I can hear the finish line and smell victory! No! we still had another hill to go down, up, down and up before we got to come back and take that exit. So yes, it was another spur of an out and back.  At this point my feet were really starting to hurt and my big right toe was in agonizing pain. I swore I was running on bloody stumps for feet and kept looking down at my shoes half expecting them to be turning red… they didn’t. I had to start walking, and run just spurts. The pain was becoming too much. Made it to the top of the hill and turn around and thought, OK you are on the home stretch!

I finally made it to that off-ramp which was all downhill! Fans lined the remaining of the route. Got to the bottom of the ramp and waved my arms up and down for people to cheer more!  I knew all I had left was a turn through a parking lot and then the finish line was right around the corner!  Looking down at my watch, I saw it was at 5 hours and 58 minutes… I am NOT going to go over 6 hours! So I hauled ass, as fast as I possibly could, with my bloody stumps for feet to the finish line. It felt like I was running faster than the Road Runner. There it was! The Finish Line!!! As I crossed I raised my arms, screamed out a YES and jumped in the air!!! My watch read 6 hours and 15 seconds! Not my best finish, but I was happy!

Crossing Finish Line

Kristen Crossing the Finish Line!

They put my finisher medal around my neck, and I could not get the smile off my face! I had just finished my 4th marathon!!!

Marathon Finisher Medal

Marathon Finisher Medal

I worked my way through the finishing chute to the food. Got my water, banana, orange slices and bagel. Next stop would be the UPS trucks to get my bag. Now it was time to sit, eat, and get my shoes off. I was so afraid to see what my socks were going to look like. Ever so gingerly I took my shoes off, and my socks were still white. Slipped on my slides and put the shoes away.  Rested for a bit while I ate and got a hold of my friend Matt on the phone to see where he wanted to meet. Several streets downtown were still closed, so we agreed I would just head towards Pike Place Market and we would eventually run into each other. OMG, getting back up from that chair and trying to walk was another story. I hobbled along for a while, then finally got my feet back under me. Had to go quite a few blocks through Pioneer Square. About 2 blocks from Pike Place Market, Matt came driving up and I hopped in.

Marathon Finisher

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Finisher!

Back to his house in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle we went. Still afraid to take off my socks, I got ready to take a shower. Peeled my socks off and not a single blister in sight! Guess the pain was just friction.

My big toe still hurt like heck, and I had blue nail polish on so I could not see what was happening.  I figured it was bruised from all the up and down running, and just from running the marathon period. Got all cleaned up and we headed to a friend’s for a BBQ.

Of course it was a house full of non-runners, so they all made fun of me hobbling around after being in a seated position for any amount of time. That was the BEST BBQ I ever tasted. Ok, Ok, I guess I may of been a little hungry. I probably could of eaten a heal and thought it was delicious.

It took about 2-3 days to comfortably walk and go up or down stairs. Keeping active after the marathon really helped get the legs working again. All-in-all it was a TERRIFIC way to spend my vacation. Not only did I get to run a marathon, I got to see old friends and have a great time. Playing tourist was awesome! Pike Place Market, Mariners game, Storm WNBA game, Pride Parade, BBQs, old High School friends, IKEA and much much more. Thank-you Seattle for a everything!

Ended up having to go to the doctor after I got back to Colorado for my toe. It was still hurting like a son-of-a-gun the Friday after my race (almost a week). I got the nail polish off and saw the bruising. A lot of pressure had built up causing the pain. My doctor laid me down and drilled a hole in the nail to relieve the pressure. YOWCH!!! I think the entire doctors office heard me scream when she got through the nail. There was no numbing before hand, it was just drill and relieve! She put me on antibiotics bandaged me up and sent me on my way. I will probably lose the nail, but at least some of the pain was relieved. One month later, the nail is still intact, but still badly bruised. Only time will tell.

What’s next? I will be running several half marathons this summer leading up to the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October. A special medal will be mailed to me after that race that says 39.3. If you complete two Rock ‘n’ Roll events in one year, you get a special medal with that mileage (26.2 for the marathon and 13.1 for the half marathon = 39.3). I can’t wait!

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