Sunday, March 8, 2015

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle

I have to admit, I'd been keeping this race on my wish list ever since I started running back in 2013. Sure, the See Jane Run Half Marathon ended with chocolates (and champagne). The Luminate 5K had Uwajimaya-themed Asian snacks. Beat the Blerch had birthday cake.

But seriously, folks. Can you really compete with hot chocolate?

You'll note my emphasis on the post-race food part of the equation. Welcome to the reason I run.

So let's get down to business. The Hot Chocolate 15K was run out of Seattle Center, home of the EMP and basically at the base of the Space Needle. It's neat when races start and end there, I guess, because no matter where you are, you'll be able to find your way back. Sticking to the course is recommended, though.

Here's a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Packet Pickup: held at Seattle Center on Friday and Saturday. NO race day pickup. This is fine and dandy for people living in Seattle, but as someone who needed to cross a bridge that was down to just the express lanes all weekend, driving into Seattle two days in a row led to 3+ hours of commuting a distance that should've taken one hour, tops. Also, the expo was so incredibly packed (it's a huge race, folks) that despite the cool swag, I got pretty uncomfortable with the number of people there and peaced out before I had a chance to steal fourteen bags of Food Should Taste Good chips. Rats.

  • The Gear: This was my first race as a Nuun Ambassador, so obviously I rocked my new race shirt! Other essentials:
    • PRO Compression socks
    • Nuun (I used a full tab in one 10oz bottle, left the other bottle as straight water. You know, keeping it interesting).
    • Gu (took two Salted Caramels, ate -drank?- one at mile 5 and didn't touch the other because THERE WERE STRAWBERRY MARSHMALLOWS ON THE COURSE).
    • UV half Buff. Duh.
    • Bodyglide. You only need to learn that lesson once.
    • My Sauconys. First race, baby, and they match my Nuun shirt!



  • Race Morning: Holy moly, I'm glad it was unseasonably warm for February on race day! Even then, it was a chilly waiting game while the 5k racers started their race at 6:45am. There were 15 corrals based on self-reported goal paces, and they left in 3 minute waves. Basically, it took roughly 45 minutes for all 5k racers to start. By 7:35, the 15k racers were starting to fill the corrals, and we were ready to go.

  • The Course: Okay, Seattle. We get it. You're built on a slant. I'm a terrible planner when it comes to training; my routes are all flat! This race was an eye opener on how different it is to race on hills. I've tackled them a bit when I choose different spots to run, but racing on them... well, my quads were on fire for about three days after the race. The course started on a downhill stretch towards the water by Pike Place Market, then back uphill on a switchback that eventually led through a tunnel (betting everyone with Garmins here loved that!) and over to the George Washington Bridge. Which - you guessed it - is also on a slant. At the bottom of the bridge, we ran back up hill into Fremont (or Ballard? some Seattle neighborhood...), turned back around, and went the way we came. It was fun to do those switchbacks and spot so many people I know and love, so that helped get through a few of those nasty hills.






  • The Finish: Was on an uphill. Thanks, Seattle. Luckily, they corralled us quickly to the hot chocolate deliciousness, and I had a smorgasbord of cocoa, chocolate fondue, and things to dip in said fondue. Obviously I ate it all.
Doing important things immediately after finishing... like making sure I choose the slightly-stressed-looking smiley face on Nike+ to indicate that that was NOT an easy race.

Post-race celebration with Rachael! Check her out at http://sweetasmckinney.com/! 

Ten points to this guy. Still working on the connection between Oktoberfest lady costumes and hot chocolate.
  • My Results: 15k in 1:25:31. My Nike+ app tracked 9.7 miles, and I talked to a few other people with varying distances. Who knows.
Overall, a challenging course at a distance I'd never raced, before. Awesome swag (you get a hoodie with this race, and the 15k finishers got chocolate bar shaped medals), fun food at the after party, and super organized for the huge number of participants. Now, if only they'd been able to figure the post-race traffic out a bit better (ha ha)...

Can I nominate this stranger for the next Ridiculously Photogenic Guy?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Back in the Game

On today's run, my iPhone decided it ran out of battery at mile 4. Without tunes and the semi-robotic Nike+ voice in my ear every mile, I had a miraculous 9 minutes of calm, quiet, thinking time... until I turned my phone back on to find that it really had 45% battery life left. iPhone 5, it's almost time to quit you.

But here's the point: during that unplugged mile, I realized that last year was a pretty rough one, running-wise. While my first half marathon of the year was an absolutely fun, motivating PR... my second half marathon led to an injury that made it my last half marathon of the year. In June.

I've become a bit of a regular at PT, I know what questions to ask, how and when to ice/apply heat, and how to run differently to improve my form and avoid injuries.


I've learned that if my knee starts acting up on a gravel trail, following through for the next 11 miles isn't the best choice.

video
(Rockin' that runway limp after the Snoqualmie Valley Trail Half Marathon in June)


I've realized that sometimes, running isn't the best thing for my body.
Still... I keep doing it. I keep plotting out my runs, signing up for races (or entering contests for FREE ones: shout out to Gametiime!), and reading running blogs. Running, I just can't quit you. At least not yet.

Why?

I run because it gives me an excuse to wear Birks and socks (especially PRO Compression socks!).

I run because this is my face after a runless week due to a back strain.

And this is my face during my first run after a runless SIX weeks due to a knee injury.

I run because it gives me a chance to test out my cartography skills.


And also because my stick-straight hair looks freaking ridiculous after long runs.

I run because this girl is seriously disappointed with my walking pace.

And because this guy needed some serious encouragement to finish the Beat the Blerch 10k (or was it the other way around...).

I run because my home is beautiful, and best explored on foot.

Question Time! What's your #1 reason for running?


Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Finish

If you haven't gathered by now, I'm from Seattle. Born and raised, and the furthest I've ever lived from this remarkable city is when I spent four years 90 miles north in Bellingham while earning my degree.

I love everything about this place. I love our seasons, I love the relentless rain, I love puddles that remind me why TOMS are not intelligent Seattleite shoes from October through April. I love the brilliant green of everything here, the first thing out-of-towners usually comment on. I love our craft breweries, our naked Solstice parades. I love how everyone comes outside with sun-starved skin and blinking eyes the first time the clouds clear in early spring.



I love how whenever I travel to faraway places, I soak it in and appreciate each experience... and am still so so happy to be home once my plane lands at Seatac Airport.



I also love our Seahawks.

Now, there will always be people with different perspectives; that comes with every scenario (except for Damon vs. Stefan Salvatore... everyone knows it's all about Damon). Last year, for the most part, we were a Cinderella story. A team filled with free agents, late-in-the-draft picks, and so many young players... we were not expected to excel. Our team had been to the Super Bowl once before in 2005, and lost pretty soundly to the Colts.

In 2014, under the leadership of Pete Carroll and the unwavering trust of Russell Wilson, we rocked that Lombardi Trophy all the way back to Seatown. The town was lit up. Schools were 1/4 to 1/3 empty, with kids being pulled from school to go celebrate at the Super Bowl Parade. We wore our jerseys on staff each Friday for the rest of the school year. Our town had experienced some pretty noticeable success for the first time in a long time, and we were loving it.




This year, we were jazzed. We had a team of amazing athletes, and an outstanding season.

We still lost the Super Bowl. Despite microphones being immediately shoved in the faces of our players, for the most part they were complimentary of the Patriots, excited to have been a part of the huge event, and looking forward to next season. Still, there was a huge sense of loss for them. For all of us watching the game with our Sherman jerseys and Hawktails in hand.

So that got me thinking... is there an equivalent in running? In the Super Bowl, teams have (within reason) a pretty even shot at taking home the trophy. In the Boston Marathon, star athletes have a much smaller margin. Is the agony the same?

What do you think?


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Three Months, One Post

OH HI.

So it's been a while. A too-long while. And while I have plenty of perfectly good reasons why I've been living blog-free since July, they don't matter.

I'm back, and here to give you a freaky-fast synopsis of the ins and outs of July, August, and September.

July:

  • Finished two summer graduate courses and celebrated in the only way I know how, with BFFs and beers.


  • Saw my favorite band perform together after a four year hiatus. These fellas got me through college without going through a nervous breakdown.



  • Hopped on a plane that got me about halfway through the Arctic Circle before August began.

August:
  • Iceland!

  • Scotland!

  • Met up with my REI group and spent seven days backpacking the Scottish Highlands. My mind takes me back there every single day. What a dream.




  • Though I was devastated to leave my group, I was lucky enough to be invited to (and/or invite myself to) my former teacher's home in Blois, France. My heart and mind may have been left in Scotland, but I managed to find ways to love France, as well. :)





  • After five days in France, tackling train exchanges and airports in a non-native language, I made it to England for the final leg of my trip.





September:
Since returning, I've been immersed in my life as a teacher. I'm rocking out with 21 4th and 5th grade learners, this year, and after three weeks we're starting to get the kinks in our routines worked out. :)

So sorry about the hiatus, friends, and here's to the upcoming seasons of reflection and thankfulness!

Up next: a race review for Beat the Blerch. My goal: to post it before three months have passed me by!

What are you all up to?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Last Three Weeks in Photos

Hi friends! Quick update, because I'm finishing my last-minute details before heading to bed. I leave for Scotland, France, and England tomorrow!

Summer quarter at UW: sunshine, studious comrades, and Chaco sandals.
Went into my classroom a few times to make table groups and generally stare at things without accomplishing much.

Anyone miss my #transformationtuesday post on Instagram?

Workin' on that core strength.

In addition to generally accomplishing nothing productive in my classroom, I made a bulletin board of Mount Rainier.

Went on a hike with this coordinated gentleman.



First time attempting a run since my 0.5 mile failure a week after the half marathon of doom.

My college roommate (top left) is not only gorgeous and super smart, but also a dancer. Her dance group killed it, this weekend!

Benefit to housesitting in my parents' neighborhood: driving past this little nugget more often than usual.

First LEGITIMATE run (ie: I planned it, I rocked it) post disaster. Two miles of an awesome knee and way pitiful cardiovascular endurance. Progress.

If you want to listen to music that is ridiculously wonderful, check out my friends The Senate. Spending an evening in their musical company was the best way to say "goodbye" to the US for a few weeks.

If you want to follow along on my adventure through Europe, follow me on Instagram! I'll write up a super excellent and informative post when I return in late August, but do you really want to wait that long to see photos of strangers hiking through the Scottish Highlands?