portland marathon

The Trouble with Tapering

Is two-fold.

1) Your Head

Has far too much free time without running quite so much to remember and otherwise fixate on just how long a marathon really is. Remember how you kinda hallucinated and/or blacked out somewhere between 21 and 24?  Remember your blisters? My god, the blisters. Remember how you could barely manage to make it off the loo?

It’s real long, you guys.

2) Your Body

Has almost enough time to relax, but can’t really because it can sense that something mildly awful and really pretty traumatic is coming. These little two-mile runs do nothing to relieve the stress because somehow you can’t even run two miles without getting sore and convincing yourself you can’t go on.

T minus 2 days!

That Time I Signed up for the Portland Marathon

Well guys, it’s a big day here in “mostly just dreaming about running rather than actually running” land.

I finally handed over the cash for the Portland Marathon and am pretty darn excited.  [Sidebar: Can we just all take a minute and acknowledge how expensive races are getting?  I’m having mixed feelings about the ROI on this particular $140 investment.  Also, don’t get me started on their website, or their registration form.  It made my web-working head want to explode a little bit, and I swear a part of me died every time I had to resubmit said lengthy form due to internal errors. ANYWAYS.   Moving on.]

Is that the right word? Am I excited?*

It’s a very loaded excitement, bound in all the baggage from my last marathon, simultaneously carrying probably too much hope that the process will be dramatically better than it was before.  There’s still an abiding sense that I don’t know how to do this.

An amazing amount of things have been done by people who didn’t know how. Don’t  let that stop you. The danger is more in doing nothing than in not “knowing how.”

– anon.

So I’m doing it, and this time, I’ve got what feels like a pretty solid strength training routine.  I’m committed to pool work outs and time in the bike saddle for my first triathlon, and I also have physical therapists on speed dial (Thanks so much to my sister and the great crew at Acceleration PT for years and years of moral and biomechanical support ) a best friend for a training buddy, and the experience of having done it once before.  That’s got to count for something? Right?

Let’s do this thing.

Motivation courtesy of The Features:

Terrible Ideas & Other Things I Tried This Week

I just wrote a race review for RunOregon and thought it was time to start thinking about the rest of my plans for racing, and running, and all sorts of other things. All at once. This is what happens when I try to not think about things so much, the rubber band always snaps back and I end up like this:

running meme

Brought to you by the awesome Allie Brosh and her brilliant blog: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

Things are stirring.  Fall must bring out a sort of claustrophobia, because I’m weirdly, acutely aware of a slow suffocation from the struggle to be something better. Between the daylight slipping away so suddenly, and the closeness of rounding out another year, things are stirring. Moving deep beneath the surface.  You can almost feel it in the air and the strands of bottled up rain wrung clean from clouds.

Plans are in motion.  Big, intimidating, amazing plans.  Portland marathon plans, NaNoWriMo book writing plans, and triathlon plans.  Blame it on re-reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, or the renewed sense of purpose that comes from setting goals and signing up for things i’m not sure yet whether I can do, but its what November seems to need from me so far- creating an plan of attack for making 2014 a year of writing and running, and swimming and biking, and then more running. And maybe some more, lots more, writing.

Best Laid Plans

So, there will be a handful of half-marathons in the spring, overlapped by a summer of pool (and hopefully lake) laps and bike training, leading up to a Tri (sprint, of course) toward the end of August, and then – deep breath- stacking up the miles and miles of training runs leading to the Oct. 5th Portland Marathon.

Part of me feels pretty nuts just to be thinking about it.  The other part can’t wait to get started training. RUN SWIM EVERYTHING FOREVER!! Then I remember I couldn’t make it through 12 weeks of marathon training without injury the last time, and land right back at being sure I’m crazy to be considering both my first triathalon and a marathon in the same year.

I can’t help it. Things are moving.

Should I maybe, possibly, to quote Ron Swanson, be whole-assing just one thing?


Caution: gratuitous meme-ing.

Am I actually crazy?

Portland Marathon Proud

Runners aren’t usually shy about doing hard things. Many of us get up and do hard things in the lonely dark before most folks have even begun brewing coffee. I’m thinking of one particular runner, though, who is maybe better at doing hard things than any other person I know. So unflinching in the face of hard things is she, that she’s running the Portland Marathon on Sunday.

The hard part isn’t even the 26.2 miles, which will be punishing enough in their own way.  The hard part is that this is her second time running Portland, only it’s a completely different race than the one she ran before.

I’ve been sitting on this post because every time I think I want to publish it, it just doesn’t seem to do her justice. With only one day before the race, even though there is no way in which it will be good enough, I want to share her story, because in my eyes she is an actual phoenix.  A living, breathing, running version of one of those mythical creatures that is tried in the fires of life and rises from the ashes of it, resplendent and completely, unbelievably awesome.  Here goes….

This is my friend, Erin.


I’m introducing her to you because she’s the single most inspiring person I know (and I know some pretty great people). When I’m not running out my own selfish frustrations and personal hang-ups, I’m running for her. And in many cases, running with her, since we’re on a new morning run routine (which is exactly as amazing as I could hope it would be.  Start your day with four miles and a good friend? Every single day if I could.)

But I digress.

Last year, Erin lost not one, but two parents, and a grandparent to cancer. That’s not all.  In the same 12 months, she went through a world-rending marriage/divorce combo job that would have ripped the rims off anyone else’s life, and left them a smoldering shell of a soul in the bottom of a ditch somewhere.  At least that’s what I imagine would happen to me in similar or- let’s be honest -much less tragic circumstances.  “You’re kidding!” you say.  I wish. I wish with everything I am, that I were. Yet I watched her handle those 12 months with dignity to spare and a determination that never ceases to amaze me. She faced the fear of all that with both eyes forward, and the bare will to be brave enough to remain who she is, despite it all.

Flash forward, and here she is now, motivating me for morning runs, smothering my dog with kisses and pumping me up for another dark, early morning spin around the neighborhood.  A year later she is as supportive a friend and vibrant a human as ever there was.  So much life  threw itself at her in such a short time, and even so, through the eye of such a complete and total shit storm, she is gracefully moving through it, shinier and brighter than anything I’ve seen.

She’s running around-literally- giving gingers everywhere an incredibly good name. She works as an occupational therapist in far-flung rural Washington towns, spending sometimes 3+ hrs a day in commute time to give rural schools resources they wouldn’t otherwise have, on top of which, she’s training to run the Portland Marathon for the second time.  The first time she ran it, both her parents were waiting at the finish line.  This time, I have no doubt they’ll be there, just maybe less visible to everyone but her.

There’s more to this story, as you probably can guess.  It’s filled with heroism, friendship, and the kind of bravery we’re used to reading about, but rarely ever see in person. I’m humbled to be trying- stress TRYING- to help her tell it.  I love to write, she has an incredible story to tell, and we are eager to the task, but it’s daunting, none the less.  It’s full of nervousness and doubt, this endeavor, but it’s a story I’d read cover to cover, over and over again, and tell to my children, and their kids.  That tells me it deserves to exist.  This tells me other people might want to hear it, too.  That tells me we have long nights ahead with steep learning curves, and so I ask your help- if you have any experience with writing/publishing/editing etc. please get in touch. It may just take a village. Our most grateful thanks to you ahead of time for any assistance you can offer.

This is my friend, Erin.


She’s the very essence of awesome, resilience, and just plain rad on two legs.  If you run into her on the course tomorrow, – you’ll know her by her t-shirt:

portland marathon t-shirt

give her a great big shout out to let her know you’re pulling for her.  I will be.