Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cape Island Spotlight – Sherry LaBree

Cape Island Spotlight” will be an occasional series about runners I know and love and think you will too! Runners are an interesting breed – a little quirky mixed with a little masochist mixed with hard work and hard play makes for some of the most fun people I know!

Here, I’ll show you…

Sherry LaBree

Sherry and I have known each since we were kids running around the Norman Rockwell-esque town we grew up in. We were on swim team together and were always friendly but we lost contact after high school.  The dawn of the MySpace and Facebook era changed all that and we found that our adult selves had even more in common than our teenage ones did and became fast cyber friends. The distance between us (over 1,000 miles at this point, as she and her high school sweetheart and now husband Scott live in Florida) means we don’t get to train or race together regularly (though we did get to do the Philly half a few years back  and are doing the full Philly enchilada this year!) but that does not stop us from being running buddies. We cheer each other on from afar, commiserate on lousy runs and celebrate the great ones! Sherry has fully embraced the runner lifestyle and now helps others do the same. She recently launched her own training business, Endurance in Motion, where she coaches athletes near and far. She has such a warm, supportive personality and her attention to sports science and her own impressive achievements speak of a woman who can take you to the places you want to go!

Who saw the runner in you, ie how did you get into running?

I did not grow up as a runner. I was a swimmer and a cheerleader (ed note: foreshadowing a future as a coach, methinks!) I might have done one run over 2 miles before I was 30. During my 20s I literally sat on my butt, I did absolutely nothing active. It’s so funny, I don’t even know that girl from a decade ago anymore.

Anyway, right after I turned 30 I joined a local gym. I was thinking, “I’m 30, I’m so out of shape, I need to do something”. I met a trainer who had run the Boston Marathon and was training for Ironman Florida. It lit the spark for me, I had this realization that “oh my gosh, real people do this, I could do this”.

In November of 2007, Scott brought home a reminder magnet for a Susan G. Komen 5k for March 2008 and randomly stuck it on the fridge. I looked at it for a couple of days then looked online and saw it was fundraiser, which really appealed to me since we had lost Scott’s mom to breast cancer the year before. In December 2007 I started the Couch to 5k program and I was on my way!  So no one saw the runner in me and I didn’t even really see her in there myself, but it was the realization that I didn’t  have to be a professional or have done it since I was a kid to try it. And that is how I started.
How long have you been pounding the pavement/trails?

Dec 10, 2007 was my very first day. I know this because I have kept a training log from Day 1 (Ed Note: I am so jealous of this!). However, I consider the beginning of my transition into a runner in November of 2007 , right around my birthday. It feels like that is when I mentally got there, even though I had not started running yet.
A moment where you said to yourself “oh my god, I love running!”

Ok, a little background here.  In between doing the Couch to 5k training, I also started to ride the bike as general cross-training and made a commitment to do the May 2008 Danskin Triathlon.  To be honest, I sorta disliked running in those early days. I have a swimming background and was naturally good at cycling. But the running was horrid for me. My times were quite disproportional in the beginning – I had good swim and bike results but not so much for running. At Danskin 2008 I was fast off the bike and then caught on the run. So I hired a coach and she made me write inspirational messages like “I am a runner” and “I love running” and post them up all over the house (like on the bathroom mirror, microwave, steering wheel, etc.). I told her things like  “I can’t run” and she made me write the message like “I am a great runner”. She had me start telling myself that I was a runner and believe that I  could run. By seeing the notes every day and following her guidelines (part of the issues was that I wasn’t running enough) I really started to believe that I was a runner. Fast forward to Danskin 2009  where I raced again. This time, after all that psychological and physical conditioning, I won my age group. And right then and there, for me, I became a woman who loves running.

A moment when you said to yourself “Whose idea was this again? Why in the world am I doing this!?”

That is a very, very easy one for me – Florida 70.3. It was a horrible, rotten race. The heat index did not dip below 90dF. Three-quarters of the run was on a grassy greenbelt with drainage pools around it and that evaporating water made it a steambath. I’d estimate 70% of people were walking the run, myself included. I was asking myself “who does this??” It was my slowest half Ironman, but I was proud that I finished. I would like to go back and try it again, but the course is different now so it would not be a true redemption. That race, among others, caused me to put into effect my “no races longer than 1.5 hours between May and September” rule. It is just too brutal in the Florida heat. Ed Note: I asked Sherry why and how she kept going during that race and she said: I don’t think you get involved with these sports if you are a person who gives up easily. You are just hard wired to not lie down. You put one foot in front of the other and you keep going. That is endurance sports; you just go no matter what it takes.

Running adage that is not true for you (i.e. they say to avoid running on a full stomach, but lil sis can house a hoagie and be fine to run immediately)?

Actually the first thing that pops in my head is “try nothing new on race day”. I don’t advocate it for my athletes, but I have been really fortunate regarding this. I wore practically brand new shoes for the Wisconsin marathon. I remember thinking “what are you doing?!”. I’ve also gone into a half Ironman with a brand new saddle, but I was fine. So I know I have gotten very lucky!

Prefer to run alone or with partner/group?

I prefer to run alone. If I meet with a group, I like to start with them, do my own thing for the run and reconvene for breakfast. I like to be alone with my thoughts. I also do not like to get caught up with other people’s paces, which happens when I run with a group. My rate of perceived exertion also goes through the roof when I run with people – maybe too much time smiling?? The only exception for me is intervals. I do find it easier to go faster with others.

I love the social aspect before and after runs and love my running club, Zoomers Southwest Florida Running and Triathlon Club. Being involved with the club is really great. I recently did a last minute sprint triathlon where I went alone and knew no one there. It was a horribly lonely race – there was no support and I really felt it. You cannot put a price on that support.

Favorite running gear?

Before we start any of our Zoomers meeting, we answer questions like this. This one was asked about 2 months ago. Other people were saying their Garmins, their shoes, etc.… but mine is my training log. It’s not a piece of gear, per se, but every workout since December 2007, everything, has gone in that log. In training for the Philly marathon this year, I am able to look back at my Philly training last year.  It is neat – if you look at the two weeks before I got shingles, you can see a trending off in training performance, an increase in heart rate.  It is an invaluable, powerful tool.

Bucket list race?

Definitely the Boston Marathon (Ed Note: for the uninitiated, Boston is unique in that you have to qualify for it – i.e. run another marathon at a fast enough pace that you can enter it). I really, really want to get there. I know that is a ubiquitous one and many runners want to do it. But I love the big races, the crowds and all the hoopla. You can’t beat Boston if you like that kind of thing. And I love that kind of thing.

Would you (or have you) ever do a bare it all (ie naked) run?

*laughs hysterically* No way Chris! *laughs* No way!

What is your favorite race distance?

I have to really think about this. I am so enamored with the marathon right now because of my Boston goal…but I think my favorite race distance is the half marathon. It is such a beautiful blend of endurance and speed.  Not just for me – for everyone. The distance is nothing to sneeze at and you have to put the time in for training yet you can still have a life while preparing for it.

Do you run on vacation or take a break?

I do run on vacation, I think exploring a new area by foot is one of the most enjoyable things about going on vacation! I have gotten to the point that wherever we go on vacation there will definitely be a race as part of it. I like to find one that we can take in a taste of local running flavor. They are all a little different everywhere you go. The fist race I ever did outside of Florida was in Memphis, Tennessee while we were visiting Scott’s relatives. The outskirts get petty hilly. At the time I had only been running about a year in the very flat area that we live in. But here I was being presented with all these hills and it was an eye opening experience. I enjoyed the heck out of it! It was a small local race, but I was so excited to get to see something new.

What is a running ritual you have that makes other raise their eyebrows?

Hmm, I must be the most boring runner in the world because nothing obvious comes to mind. Oh, there is something that I do that  I don’t see anyone else do. I do spinoff of around the world lunges.  There is a running guru that came up with the lunge matrix  and a trainer introduced it to me last year. I took to it right away – it hits every muscle in the glutes, hips and thighs. I have noticed that while doing it before local races it garners me some strange looks, which makes me want to hide behind a bush! You have to be brave to do it, just make a little circle around yourself and not care what others think.

Advice to fellow runners?

This is an easy one and I feel like a broken record because I say it so often to my clients –  there is no instant in endurance sports. The “I want it now” mindset is a function of the society we live in so when you start endurance sports, it is sort of deflating at first. You think “why am I not faster? why is everyone else getting so much faster?” I remember being that girl and am very candid with my athletes about my history with this mindset. But over time I learned – there is no instant. It takes time to develop the attributes of patience, persistence and consistency. You must be dedicated and if you are, the payoff is huge. It is not done in months or a year, it is years. Enjoy the ride! You will make great gains in the beginning and it is a lot of fun to watch your numbers fall. As you get better, it gets tougher to knock off even seconds and you have to work harder. But it will come, it will come.

What is your favorite post-race indulgence?

Definitely pizza. And after the Wisconsin marathon, that has been amended so that can’t just be pizza now, it has to be Chicago deep dish. Immediately after a race, I can hit a food tent and down anything. I think I could probably eat a slice on the run! I am perfectly content eating as soon as possible after the race, and I’ll take my  pizza with eggplant and mushroom toppings, please.

Weird, random fact about yourself?

My hidden talent is song lyrics. I am a whiz at them! If I had been smart I would have auditioned for  that show “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” . I would have won enough money to be up to my ears in running shoes! It isn’t something that I developed as an adult – I’ve been able to do it for as long as I can remember. By 5 or 6, I would be standing up in the backseat of the care yelling songs from radio. Ah, the good ol’ days of child restraint in cars! laughs I just pick them up really easily and it’s weird because I am not musical in any other way.

 So that is our fun-loving, hard-working Sherry! Stay tuned on the blog over the next few months to see how she makes out in Philly (I will of course report on her race as well!) and click on over to Endurance in Motion – she’s open for business, coaching runners and triathletes. Oh, and lest you wonder if she is legit she is certified by the Road Runners Club of America and just about done her USAT certification for triathlon training. You can’t go wrong with this one!

Anyone have questions about Sherry?


Filed under Cape Island Spotlight

What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Last group run for August! Because of my schedule this week, I had to switch up my runs and do a two-fer today to get my 6 miles in. I did three tempo ones at lunch and then 3.3 tonight with the group. In between I went to the doctor and found out that I have some sort of bacterial or viral infection in my throat. It is the oddest thing, my throat feels like it is on fire, but the rest of me feels fine! So I have kept up with my running, figuring my body will let me know if it doesn’t want to go. So far, so good! Now I have some antibiotics to help with the battle and figure I will be feeling fire throat-free in a few days. Hurray!

This late August day was a real gift – a cold front came through and cooled us down. More importantly, it dehumidified us, making even a lunch time run quite enjoyable! Here is what we saw tonight:

GD’s new kicks! Hello, real running shoes, good-bye Timberlands (at least for running)!

We posed for pictures for Paige and Janet. Janet is working on a graphic design logo for CIR (very exciting!!) and wanted some realistic pics of runners. For her part, Paige’s new haircut looked super cute!

All the work that Bill and Edie put into their garden is really paying off as it was butterfly central tonight!

When 3 of the 4 runners are also birders, stopping to check out a Sora roadkill is a must!

Lil sis takes the time to extinguish the light before heading out! Thanks lightkeeper Laur!

We headed back to the house where we continued our tradition of the men cooking for the ladies! Hake, scallops, broccoli and succotash were enjoyed by all!

What did you see on your run today?


Filed under Uncategorized

Marathon Training Recap – Weeks 1-4

Instead of recapping my marathon training on a daily or weekly basis, I am going for the corporate-style quarterly update. I am hoping to provide some business style charts, a la:

This chart depicts my utopian training cycle where blue = pain and red = speed

Since there are 16 weeks of training there will be 4 updates. Each one will be comprised of the quarterly report (like in business, but with less corruption and pantyhose. oh, and no bogus bonuses) and a topic germane to marathon training. So check out how I have been making out and then let us all know how your training is going (marathon or any other distance/race)!

Update 1 – Weeks 1-4

Quarterly Report

Summary: Feeling really good to be back in the swing of a training plan! I incorporated some speed and tempo work this month, which was pretty great considering I had not been doing any in over a year. I am sure by the end of this cycle I will resume my normal love/hate relationship with tempo runs. But for now, it is honeymoon central! My long runs this month seemed, uh, not really long. Weeks 1 & 2 were 9-milers, week 3 was bumped because I was on vacation and it got split over 2 days and Week 4 was 11 miles, run while I was combating jet lag.  So this month’s long runs? Meh. On the plus side, my average pace is already faster than during ultra training, which helped stymie my fear that I would never run my normal pace again (yeah, I know that is dumb! the paranoid mind of a runner, what can you do?) and the runs only get longer from here, so I am looking forward to that!

Tweaks and twinges : I am in a constant battle to keep my upper hammies/butt muscles loose, which means I am always stretching, icing and foam rolling. As long as I am good about that, they stay happy. Since around our Rhode Island trip, I have also noticed some plantar fasciitis creeping in, which is something that comes and goes with me since around my college years. However, this time I am feeling pain in my heel instead of arch, so that is something new. I have been lazy about it so far, but am committing to stretching to get it sorted out (I even booked marked a stretching exercise page in my iPhone, so you know I am serious!).

Mental Runitude: Excellent! Feeling highly motivated and ready to work. This month has been pretty easy, so no sign  fatigue yet.


Topic du Quarter – NUTRITION

Nutrition is something many runners struggle with that takes a lot of time to figure out. There is so much to say about this topic and since brevity (ahem) is not my strong suit, I am going to limit my comments to long run nutrition and what works for me. For me, long runs at this point are anything over 10 or so miles. Feel free to leave questions about all aspects of nutrition in the comments section, though, as this is a tough nut to crack!

Night before: As with many thing in my running life (ok, life period) I am a creature of habit and ritual. The night before a long run almost always means a bowl of whole grain pasta, red sauce, broccoli and some sort of protein (sometimes chicken, but more and more often a soy-based one).  I eat enough so that I feel a little fuller than normal. I have a sensitive stomach and can’t handle eating too much right before I run, so I have found it easier on my digestion system to front-load rather than cramming  in calories the morning of. I also leave a glass of water on my nightstand and drink every time I wake up through the night.

Morning of:  I am jealous of the people who do the banana or bagel with honey and PB combo, as that is delicious! However, through trial and error I have realized that nuts and long runs are not BFF’s when partying it up in my duodenum. I have to stick to really bland, easy stuff. I often do my long runs first thing, and on a run of ~10-13 miles, I will eat a few large handfuls of dry cereal and maybe a ShotBlok or two beforehand.  I love me some GU Chomps and ShotBloks, but I find their chewiness hard to deal with as I run, so I rely on them pre- and post-workout.  For runs longer than 13-14 miles, I eat the cereal as well as a piece of toast or an English Muffin doused in honey and cinnamon. I drink a few sips of water, but not too much.

During Run: Depending on the run and how my stomach is feeling, I vacillate on how/what I eat and drink while I run. A quick note here – it does not matter too much what you eat (GUs, chomps, homemade gels, candy, etc.) but it is very important that you eat on these longer runs. Yes, your body has lots of energy stored, but not all of it is easily accessible and as you get into runs that are hours long, your body will greatly appreciate the calories/carbs/electrolytes that you provide to it. I know some people like to tough it out sans food, but don’t be a hero here.  Food is fuel and you will have a much better run with a properly filled tank. With ultra training, I would often wait until I felt like I wanted food (sometime around the 1.5 hr mark) and eat as needed. With marathon training, though, I am actually pushing my body a little harder pace-wise and I do better on a schedule. For me that means 1/2 a GU on the 45 min mark, the second half on the 65 min mark and repeat as many times as hours I run. I am not a fan of carrying my own water on my person on long runs, so I stash it the night before on my course. Every 5 miles, there is a bottle of water waiting for me and I drink as needed (I go back and pick them up after). I have long learned that a set amount of water is silly for me – what I need varies widely depending on weather and how grouchy my stomach is that day so I just drink by feel.

Post-run: I immediately grab a large glass of ice water and add a Nuun tablet to it. I find this reduces any chance of a headache later in the day, which used to be something I would regularly have after a long run. My stomach takes awhile to settle, so I will typically spend time stretching, icing and foam rolling and then take a shower. By about an hour after I run I am ready for food, and my go-to is almost always a large bowl of cereal ( 3 types mixed together ideal!). Throughout the day, I try to drink quite a bit and eat a protein heavy dinner to help with the micro tears in my muscles.

Foods that work for me before/during runs: Any type of gel (GU just happens to be my favorite), animal crackers, watermelon with salt sprinkled on it, pretzels, Honey Stinger waffles, hard candies (including ginger flavored when nausea hits), straight shots of honey, water, diluted Gatorade.

Foods that have my stomach screaming bloody murder before/during runs: dairy products (esp yogurt), nuts, anything heavy or spicy, anything with too much fiber, sushi (that’s a “before”, not a “during”, lol), chewy candy (like Swedish fish. I had high hopes for candy as I love it so, but during runs it just makes me feel ick – but lots of people find that gummy worms, etc, work well!), salt tabs  (wanted to like these b/c they offer easy electrolytes but they give me heartburn).

If you also suffer from a persnickety stomach that has you wondering what its damage is (yup, that’s a Heathers reference), this link will help you figure out hydration and electrolytes. Scroll down and look at the  table at the bottom to help you zone in on what your issue is and how to solve it.

I could yammer on forever about this stuff, but as it is this post will take you almost as long to read as it did for me to complete Weeks 1-4, so I will shut up now 🙂

How is your training cycle treating you?

What foods do and don’t work on your runs (of any distance)?


Filed under Uncategorized

5 Things to Do Today

Morning everyone! David over at 5 Things to Do Today invited me to post a list on his very fun blog. Using your best deductive skills, I bet you can figure out what his is all about! Every day either he, or another blogger, posts a list of 5 things you could do that day. They range from practical to lighthearted to whimsical and the site has now joined my daily circuit of blogs I visit. You should check it out too!

Here is the list I came up with

Today is my last day of vacation (boo and yay, because I actually do like my job and need to get back into a routine that does not have me reading until the wee hours every night then struggling to wake up in the AM!) and GD and I are headed to OC. He has some work stuff to take care of so I am going to have a Sunday run on the boards with lil Sis and then snag a muffin from the delicious Bashful Banana (one of the places I miss most in OC!). I will pretend to feel awake since last night I was very rudely kept up by those insane thunderstorms!! Anyone else part of that craziness?

Happy Sunday!

Do you consider Sunday the beginning or end of your workout week? (it’s the end for me)


Filed under Uncategorized

Runner’s World Review – Redemption of the Runningman

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

August 2012 – Redemption of the Runningman

The August issue offered many an interesting read,especially for all of you that may be training for a half-marathon, contemplating training for a half-marathon, or would never dream of running that far but are interested in what makes the people do something so seemingly uncivilized 🙂 However, the story that moved me to write this month was Redemption of the Runningman, which touched on some of the ugliest parts of the human psyche. Unfortunately, as I went add a link to the article, it turned out that RW did not put it online! Gah! So I guess this will be like a one of those book club months where you ran out of time to actually read the book but show up to the meeting anyway (um, hello, free cookies and tea!), BS your way through discussing it and mentally high-five yourself when it appears no one is the wiser! If you are one of those Type A’s who need to complete tasks so as to check it off your list (ahh, the check mark – gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it!) alternate options include reading your own copy (if you are a subscriber), reading it at the library or clicking on the link above, which leads to the Wiki entry about the runner at the center of this story and gives most of the information presented in the article.

Looooong story sorta short, this article tells the tale of a Brit named Robert Garside, who on his third attempt ran across the globe (just the fact that he kept trying impressed me!). He set out on October 20, 1997 in New Delhi, India and completed his 40,000 mile ( let’s take a second to contemplate that. Pick any distance that is manageable in your head, divide it into 40,000 and see what you come up with… for me, that would be 1,527 marathons or 1,291 commutes to work or running up and down the street I grew up on 200,000 times!) trek almost 6 years later on June 13, 2003 in the same city. This should be cause for major celebration, a huge binge on ice cream and at least a few recovery days, right?

I’d probably believe him based on the accent alone – gets me every time!

Not so fast. Turns out that during that time, there were quite a few bloggers and media folk in the running world who questioned his every step and whether he was completing the route as he claimed he was (in their defense, Garside had lied about a portion of an earlier attempt, so that did not help matters). This article is the story from the point of view of one of those journalists, Dan Koeppel.

You know how some people seem to be running from something (like me)? Well, the author of the article, Dan Koeppel, is running from himself – the Dan Koeppel of late 1990s that is. He joined in the runner’s version of a witch hunt (tangent: I wonder what the punishment would be in the runner’s version? No Body Glide on a humid day? Run  marathon with no water? And do the witch hunters wear breathable fabric as they set out in the night with Amphipod water bottles and headlamps instead of torches in hand?) and helped condemn Garside as a fraud.

Koeppel started writing an expose on Garside in 2004 but as he got to know the man and saw the evidence that he DID complete the run he ultimately wrote the RWarticle to help undo some of the damage he inflicted on Garside’s reputation. What damage? Although the Guinness Book of World Records eventually accepted his run into their archives, his accomplishment is tainted with the word “rested”, Guinnessese for a record that stands, but it not officially “promoted or published”. His reputation was permanently sullied by the unrelenting criticism and it was mentally taxing for him to handle. Imagine completing challenge like this, only to have every step picked apart by complete strangers.

The story is an excellent meditation on what happens to us mentally when we unfairly and wrongly accuse someone of an act when we have little proof of what actually happened. The reader is left with the impression that Koeppel will never fully forgive himself, no matter how many miles he runs or words he types to right the wrongs.

And this is what I (finally!) want to talk about today – what is it that drives us to criticize, condemn and accuse, especially in regard to things that do not directly impact us, or for which we have no actual evidence? It is such a peculiar, but common,  human characteristic and one that I thought about long after the story was over. I think part of it is because we have an innate sense of fairness and we hate seeing people “get away” with something. But I think there is more to it, since our attacks on one another can be quite savage and “righting a wrong” does not need to be so. Is it a residual behavior from our ancestral struggles for power among the tribes we roamed in? Or is it an integral part of being human that will always be with us, no matter how far we travel from our cradle in Africa?

As a person who looks at life through a science-tinged lens, I tend to think that all these behaviors have some thread that links them to our evolutionary history. Perhaps it is because we need these behaviors to attack people when they actually ARE in the wrong and an English gentlemanly conversation simply will not do. Perhaps it is to boost our own egos, which can be so critical in the fight for survival (and I mean that both in days gone by and today, where there are so many other types of “predators” to take us down). Maybe it is just Newtonian and for every action there must be an opposite and equal reaction – and in the emotional world of humans, that means for every bit of love, there is hate. For all the gratitude there is ungratefulness, for all the support, there is knocking down. It might be just be part of what makes us the messy, complicated species that we are.

The second part of the equation is what happens to us when we find out that we were wrong, that our actions hurt someone else and that there is nothing we can truly do to undo the damage. My impression is that Koeppel will live with his guilt for the rest of his life. Maybe this guilt is the check valve that is meant to keep our accusations fair – we know that if we are wrong, we will have to live with this unpleasant sensation which can be avoided as long as our accusations are true.

What do you think?

Does the idea of running around the globe appeal to you?


Filed under Runner's World Reviews

CIR hits the big time!


Check out the awesome article Diane Stopyra from Exit Zero wrote this week about us!

For The Love of Running – Click on the “expand” button, then scroll on over to Page 14 (or better yet, read the whole darn mag. It’s a great publication and one of my favorite things about Cape May!)

And if you are new to this site, take one look at that picture and just try to tell me running isn’t fun 🙂

Run on, friends!


Filed under Uncategorized

What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays – Olympia, WA Edition

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Last run in the Pacific Northwest before we head home! We got unbelievably lucky with the weather – I know August is the driest time out here, but it literally did not rain on us at all! Yesterday it sprinkled for about 5 minutes and then the sun came back out in time for our last birding excursion at Nisqually NWR where we were quite excited to find a Black Phoebe. For my part, I documented the bird with this incredible picture:

Yeah, try not to be jealous of my digi-scoping skills. Nothing like a blurry picture to get people excited about a bird!

I set out this AM on a fall preview run – reported that it was 46dF at the start! I set out into the chilly air in shorts, armed with a camera and this is what I saw:

Right outside our hotel was this cute lil BBQ area. We saw people taking advantage of it last night.

We did not stay in downtown Olympia, so I found this University near our hotel to spend my miles in. The Abbey sounded very intriguing.

The campus featured some single-track trails, which I really want to like, I do. They look so very pretty every time I see them in a RW spread and invoke feelings of running in the wild. But then I get on them and I feel like my gait changes in an uncomfortable way, like my hips and knees turn in to keep my feet on the line. This happen to anyone else?

The presence of the Abbey made for great sights this AM, including these along the woods. They appeared to tell the story of Jesus’ crucification, but I can’t be sure since I only saw numbers X and XI 🙂

The doors of the abbey were exquisite.

There were a lot of real-life monks on the campus, but it seemed rude to photograph them, so you’ll have to settle for this guy. I like the way the statue’s robes were flowing–that’s exactly what the real ones looked like. However, I am pleased to report that none of the actual monks I saw looked this glum. Perhaps it was the raven on his shoulder bringing him down?

What did you see on your run today?

Have you ever visited a monastery? Fantasized about being a monk?


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Travel, What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

Race Report – Richmond Olympic Oval 10k

The Olympic Oval stadium, fresh off the Vancouver 2010 games

In a nutshell: Canadians are speedy and oh-so fit!

Out of the nutshell: Luckily, my jet lagged brain recovered and I actually got the start date and time of this race right. Since we are doing this trip spontaneous style, I was not sure that we would still be in the area (just south of Vancouver) on Sunday but once we decided to stick around, I was in! Running near an Olympic stadium? Yes, please!

I got up bright and early to sort myself out and grab some cash for registration – except the hotel ATM was broken. The area we were staying and the immediate location of the Oval were not spilling over with ATM machines, so I figured I would talk to the race staff and see what we could figure out. Upon arriving at the race day registration line, the sweetest Canadian women and a lovely young man (her son?) allowed me to sign up and suggested I try the machine in the Oval. Great! But then not great as that one was also broken! For real?? The woman was again sympathetic and allowed me to take my bib and chip, with the promise that I would pay after the run (which I did – you don’t want to mess with race juju).

I chatted with a few fellow racers and enjoyed the conversation, in no small part because of their accents! What is it about accents that makes listening to them so enjoyable? I looked around at the group, probably about 200-strong, and was impressed by the level of athleticism I was seeing. Perhaps it was the “Olympic effect” (don’t bother Googling that, I just made it up) but these people looked like they were here to run!You know what (besides their crazy defined quads) also gave away they were serious runners? The lack of iPods – unless that is just a Canadian race thing. But I interpreted it to mean that these folks were here to race, not just go for a jog along the river with Rihanna in their ears. I thought to myself “that is pretty great, good for them for being so serious!” and then I put my earbuds in 🙂

Not an out of shape one among them!

We soon lined up and were off! The course was an out and back, which are not typically my favorite, but there was a nice loop at the turn-around point to break up some of the linear feel. The further along the Fraser River we ran, the prettier it got:

The gal in the blue top immediately struck me as something special – not only because I delight in seeing older runners, but esp because I love seeing ones hauling ass! I later learned this was Lenore Montgomery, a multiple Canadian and World record holder in her 80s. She finished this 10k in 1:02! As if the Oval was not inspiration enough, Lenore was the icing on the cake for me!

Seaplanes are definitely not something I get to see on every run!

This was the West Dyke Trail and where the course really started getting pretty. The gravel trail was quite kind to my legs, the color of the flowers popped against the cloudy sky (which never released any rain, hurray!) and the swallows flew all around us.

By Mile 4 or so, the race had thinned out enough (ie, everyone was already done, lol) that runner-free vistas like this were possible. I was happy, however, a little while later when I caught up to some racers and was able to use them as targets to help me through the last miles.

Running on vacation can get tricky. Sundays are normally a short, easy shake-out run from the previous day’s long run. I know from experience, though, that it is hard for me to jog a race. I can control myself enough not to go all out, but not enough to keep it easy-breezy. So I decided to make my “long run” on Saturday 6.5 miles and do a tempo today – combined with what we ran on Friday (normally a rest day) the mileage would add up to what I needed for the weekend but my legs would not be totally shot. My plan was to take the first three miles at a not-hard-but-not-easy pace and second 3.2 at a tempo pace, and maybe slightly higher for my current fitness level. This worked out well and my Miles 1-3 splits were 9:19, 9:06, 8:56, Miles 4-6 were 8:19, 8:22, 7:57 and last .2 7:13 for an overall pace of 8:37. I’ll take it! I am still battling feelings of feeling slower than “normal”, but then I remind myself I have only been doing speed and tempo work for 3 weeks and I should really pipe down and be happy I can handle this speed at all right now!

Post-race, my 53:48 (53:38 said Garmy) time was good enough for 4/6 in my age group, lol. The third lady was only 25 seconds ahead of me. I wish I had known! Chasing someone in your age group is such a good way to speed up! But no matter, I had a great run and felt quite pleased with the effort. I also truly enjoyed watching the speedsters fly by me (a benefit to an out and back, I think I saw the winner pass me when I was about 15 minutes into my race!) and this adorable pair, holding hands as they finished:

Cuteness overload!!

Post-race, this well-oiled machine had some great features:

Post-race food – oranges, watermelon (yum!!), cantaloupe, scones, cinnamon buns plus Starbucks coffee (perfect to warm me after the chill from damp clothes set in) and H2O in water coolers to encourage bringing reusable containers. Well done!

Very good call on the raffle winners – instead of reading names to a half empty crowd at the end and continually having to draw new names until they find someone that is still around, this race simply put them on an easel for runners to scan when they returned and claim their prize. Smart!

Overall, I give high marks for this race. The runners were very friendly, the level of competition was great to watch (the winners were at least in the low 30s – I did not see race results yet – and this was part of the Lower Mainland race series, so lots of motivation for folks to floor it) and the organization was top-notch. The course turned out to be very pretty, I loved seeing the Olympic Oval and the race staff was fantastic. My only small complaint was that the race fee ($38CAD) seemed a bit high to me when there was no t-shirt or other swag, which I especially love when I am at an out-of-town race. But that is minor in a sea of compliments. Thanks Kajaks Track & Field Club!

I am an Olympian!!! Well, almost.


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Race Reports, Travel

Running in Vancouver, BC: The race that wasn’t

After fueling up on an incredible meal last night at the Banana Leaf, GD and I were up and at ’em this AM, ready to take on our fellow birders in the All-Out Ostrich Uproar 5k.

We made drinking coconut water and a berry sangria extra romantic by entangling the straws. You know, because it is important to make drinking romantic.

After a moment of dismay when GD realized he left his running shorts at the hotel in Bellingham, he rallied and decided that khaki’s with a belt were just as good an option and we were off! We excitedly jogged to the start where we found…

Huh. Do birders hate running just as much as I suspected??

I didn’t expect a huge crowd but I definitely expected some crowd! After giving it a few minutes we accepted that something must have gone wrong but the beautiful morning relieved us of any disappointment. We decided we’d still salvage the run and had an awesome jaunt around the campus where we mixed looking and listening at/to towhees, bushtits (yes, non-birders, that is an actual bird name!), yellow warblers and puzzled over juvenile sparrow plumage. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t often have the pleasure of running with my hubby, so this was better than an Ostrich 5k any day!

The Kashi/GD race course was a gorgeous combination of sight-seeing and birding – we checked out the Museum of Anthropology (def going back later), the Nitobe Memorial Garden and the Main Mall of the campus.

We declared ourselves the overall male and female winners and accepted our award of birds singing all around us.

Mystery solved: My jet-lagged brain either thought today was Thursday or that I misread it to say Friday. Either way, whoopsie!!

So the race was a bust, but the morning was not. It is gorgeous here, can’t wait to explore more!


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Travel

Running in Bellingham, Washington

Washington has been checked off the state list!! What a gorgeous morning for a run – crystal blue skies, no humidity and temps in the mid-60s! I set out for a jet lagged 6 miles, but I felt surprisingly good by the end and was able to get in a few tempo miles. I plotted a course that was mostly suburban/city roads with some nature mixed in. Perfect!

Drive-thru coffee places were the theme of the morning! Quite densely packed in this sweet little city.

Beautiful buildings mixed old with new. New court house…

…and old whatever this was. Ran by, could not tell, lol.

Sometimes pearls of wisdom show up in the most unlikely of places.

If we didn’t have to high-tail it to Vancouver this morning, I would have come back to this park and luxuriated in its beauty all day.

I wound up tempo-ing it through this park, so this was my last pic. But take my word for it, the trees were so inspiring, cheering me on and pushing me faster than I thought possible today (don’t get too excited, this was Kashi fast, not Meb fast!).

I usually take Fridays off from running, but at the NAOC conference we are at (GD is presenting a poster) we found out there is a 5k race tomorrow morning, the 27th running of race for birders!!! Could it get any better? Stay tuned to find out when, for the first time, everyone I run with will also be into birds.  BIRD NERDS LACE UP AND UNITE!


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Travel