Category Archives: Running

My 2012 Running Playlist

2012 is coming to a close, and I’d like to sum up my running year with a couple posts about the music I listened to and the races I finished.  I’ve been home with a sick kid all week and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on how awesome my running year has been.  I ran relatively injury-free and was lucky enough to participate in some kick-ass events, INCLUDING a race in Washington DC, which helped me accomplish my New Years goal of this time last year, which was to go on some running adventures and enter races outside my hometown.

For today, I’ll share the tunes that kept me going on the rare occasions I ran solo and opted for music instead of a podcast.  This playlist reminds me mostly of our relay race in June, the Rainier to Ruston, my first relay.  I remember training for that race with this playlist, and I remember my team dropping me off in the rain at the start line, driving off in the awesome team van, and then I remember the cover of one of my ear buds (the left) popping off in to a mud puddle (never found it), plugging in to my music anyway, and running down Mt. Rainier as the following tunes kept me upright and grateful for the experience.  Enjoy the list.  Feel free to add them to your running list, and don’t worry, you know I won’t mock you.

1.  Brighter Than The Sun, Colbie Caillet

2.  Paradise, Coldplay

3.  Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You), Kelly Clarkson

4.  Let it Rock, Kevin Rudolf (a recurring song on my yearly running playlist, this was playing at the start line of my first ever half marathon, the Rock n Roll Seattle half in June 2011.  It now has earned a spot in all my running playlists.)

5.  Another Place to Fall, KT Tunstall

6.  Ho Hey, The Lumineers

7.  Bye Bye Bye, NSYNC (Don’t mock.)

8.  What Makes You Beautiful, One Direction (And don’t judge.  This is my overall favorite song of 2012.  There.  I said it.)

9.  Tamacun, Rodrigo y Gabriela

10.  Uncharted, Sara Bareilles

11.  I Won’t Back Down, Tom Petty

12.  (I Can’t Help) Falling in Love with You, UB40


9.5 in the rain

How to know you need to run off a few extra Thanksgiving inches: it’s post-Thanksgiving feast time in your sister’s living room, and you are getting in some snuggles on the couch with your daughter and your niece.  Your niece pats your tummy, looks at you sweetly, and asks “Auntie, do you have a baby in your tummy?”  Your daughter fills in your amused/horrified silence by answering “no, and she never will again”.

So when Amy asked if I wanted to run the day after Thanksgiving, I agreed, despite having to get creative in finding someone to watch the kiddo and the fact that outside offered a bone-chilling heavy mist.

We chose the out-and-back route of the Orting Trail, I think because we are both growing weary of the loop from my house and the loop from Amy’s.  I’m not a huge fan of out-and-back, but mixing up the scenery is one of the biggest challenges in running.  The ‘out’ portion wasn’t bad…4.75 miles of drizzle, but I could still see out of my glasses and my ear warmer came off before we reached the turnaround point.  The ‘and-back’ portion, though?  I swear, I think God was watching us and merely waiting for us to turn around, so he could dial up the weather a few notches.  By mile 7.5, I was carrying my glasses (no point in wearing them when the heavy rain coats them every few seconds) and the soaked front of my running pants made me feel like I was running with weights strapped to my legs.  We both stripped from the waist up as soon as we got back to the parking lot (no worries about flashing anyone, as we were the only idiots out in this weather) and put on dry shirts (our one smart move of the day), then headed immediately for Starbucks.  Amy asked, as we pulled in to the parking lot, “go in?  Drive thru?”  Ha.  Drive thru.  Let’s not frighten the other patrons who were smart enough to stay indoors today.

Hot chocolate in hand, I headed out to pick up Zoey from a playdate at her friend’s house.  Thankfully, she didn’t give me much grief about leaving as I stood, teeth chattering, waiting for her to get in the car.  And the hot shower that was just waiting for me to walk in the door??  Totally made the 9.5 miles worth it.

But I think I have a few more workouts to tackle this weekend, in a continued effort to ditch the flabby tummy.  Time to go find another babysitter!

Amy and the indoor track at the gym: an on-again, off-again relationship

Today I rekindled an old love affair.

That’s right.  After months of dreading my inevitable return to the indoor track at the Y, I found myself forced on to it’s surface due to my day off from work + Zoey at school + torrential Western Washington rain falling outside.  I’ve been eyeing the track for a few weeks now, usually on my every-Tuesday-evening work out.  Part of my brain remembers enjoying the endless laps I did on the track last winter, when rain and perpetual darkness forced me indoors.  However, the other part of my brain wasn’t QUITE ready to surrender to the turning over of another season.

But today I realized my wonky tan lines (too many varying styles of running tanks and shirts) from this summer and early fall have officially faded.  There are no more 2012 races to train for.  I’ve lost the lean look I always sport in August and September, the result of running nearly every day outside for months on end.  I could no longer satisfy my craving to pound pavement with spinning mindlessly on the elliptical machine.  I needed to RUN.

And suddenly, just like that, I was ready for another season on the track.

I had forgotten, until today, how pleasant it can be to loop around and around, keeping a mental tally of the laps, knowing that every six counts for a mile.  I eased seamlessly in to my indoor routine of run a mile, do a rotation in the weight room, run, weights, run, weights…I caught up on podcasts long stored on my iPhone and fell back in love with the sound of Ira Glass’ voice and the practical yet hilarious advice from the gals over at Another Mother Runner.  I dodged the wet spots on the track floor (always a section of leaky roof to be mindful of) and the elderly people pushing walkers or power walking while fist-pumping two pound weights.

Hello, my lovely indoor track.  I didn’t think I missed you, but it turns out I did.  It’s good to be back.  But as soon as the sun returns, have no doubt that I will drop you like a hot rock.

Autumn running

I feel like I should write something pertaining to running today, but to be quite honest, my running life hasn’t been so exciting lately.

With autumn here, my running life is less about training for races and more about sneaking in smaller, shorter routes whenever I can (read: whenever it’s light out and not raining too hard).  And, while I miss having the goal of a race lurking in the back of my mind, it’s also nice to focus on running for the sheer love of it.  I’ve had some gorgeous late-Wednesday-morning runs when the sky is beautiful blue, the air is downright chilly, and there are nearly five straight miles of kicking through crunchy colored leaves.  Amy and I are back to our routine of rainy Thursday afternoon hill runs after work.  This morning, we’ll head out for 8 miles in the freezing cold…time to dig out that ear warmer and find a pair of gloves.

Each season brings different weather and different running habits.  I know, now that it’s getting chilly, my weekly mileage will drop and I will probably start spending more time at the gym than I do outside.  And, while I am rather dreading the track at the Y, I know that in a matter of months, I’ll be back to my normal running routes outside.

Run with it

I always think it’s funny when people ask me why I run.  Not funny that they would ask the question, but funny that when I stop and think about it, I can never quite articulate why I do run.  Sure, there are the standard answers: it allows me to eat whatever the hell I want, it keeps me from becoming homicidal…but when you get right down to it, why does a 34 year old woman who never ran in her life until three years ago, who suffers from chronic neck pain and holds a full time job while parenting a small child on her own want to run?

I’m reading the novel Love Anthony by Lisa Genova right now.  While I love her other novel, Still Alice, far more, I’m still enjoying this book quite a bit and as I sat reading over my lunch this afternoon, I came to a paragraph that sums up why I run.  One of the characters, Olivia, is describing how her walks on the beach every day have healing powers on her mind.  Substitute the word ‘run’ for ‘walk’, and you have a nice mission statement:

“Walking feels good.  It enlivens her brain, convincing scared and buried thoughts that it’s safe to come out of hiding, inviting incomplete thoughts to show their jagged edges, welcoming the wandering and weak.  When she walks, her thoughts line up in her mind like white rocks where they can be clearly seen and cared for.”

That’s IT.

A few months ago, I was running by myself at the park, and from nowhere (it seemed) the thought popped in to my head: I really hate Bryan.  Can’t stand him.  Now, in my non-running state, my first instinct would be to feel somehow guilty or ashamed of this thought.  While not running, I would quickly back that up with ‘shame on you, he’s Zoey’s dad’, or ‘well, YOU married him, dumbass’.  But in my running state, the thought just kind of hung out there for awhile.  No judgement.  My mind and body together seemed to think it was okay–fair, even– to hate the man who ruined my marriage and has turned out to be a rather crappy show of a father to my daughter.  And in that moment of just hanging with the thought, I could feel a little edge of the anger and hate peeling away and floating off to wherever bad, shameful thoughts go when you’re through with them.

Sometimes we run to feel good about our bodies.  Sometimes we run to carve out a little social hour with our friends.  Sometimes we run because we know there is cheesecake waiting in our near future and a good five miles pre-cheesecake makes us feel slightly less guilty.  Sometimes, though, we run to be with our thoughts for awhile and give ourselves a break from beating ourselves up.

Further chronicles of a slacker mom

I am changing the title of this blog to SlackerMomRunning.  Or something like that.  It seems, despite my best efforts to maintain long lists posted on my kitchen cabinets regarding all the important things that need to happen/be remembered each day, I am still forgetful and this week the room mom of Zoey’s class (excuse me, Support Manager) called me an “all around slacker”.  We’re friends.  I think.  So I’m pretty sure she was kidding but regardless, she’s right.  This week, I managed to forget the Farm Day theme for Friday (totally disregarded the email that went out asking for parent helpers at the breakfast Friday morning, as I knew I would be at work happily not dealing with 21 kiddos begging for more pigs in a blanket) but I forgot to send Zoey dressed in Farm Wear.  I’m pretty sure we don’t have any farm wear, and anyway, Zoey didn’t seem all that put off by not being sent to school in overalls.  In fact, she didn’t even mention the theme of the day–it wasn’t until we were at my sister’s house later in the evening, eating pizza and babysitting my niece and nephew, and I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone (I’m an awesome babysitter), and I saw the frantic 7 a.m. post from Jennifer (Support Manager Mom) cataloging all the items she had accomplished before daybreak in preparation for this Farm Breakfast, and also some pictures another friend had sent me of the kids actually participating in the Farm Breakfast–and I happened to mention to Zoey ‘hey, how was the breakfast at school this morning?’.  Her reply?  ‘It was good.  We were supposed to dress in farm clothes today.  I think we forgot.’

And that was that.

Oh, and then there was Wednesday.  My child, on the verge of mental exhaustion, was in tears before school, begging to stay home with me for the day.  I felt sorry for her.  But I had a list of errands to accomplish that was longer than my arm, and I needed her to be in school all day.  And I’m not ashamed to admit that the first item on the list, right after 1. Drop off Zoey 0830 was 2. GO FOR A RUN.  Running has seriously taken a back seat to all this frenetic kindergarten activity, and I need to re-prioritize.  My pants are fitting a little snug and I’m starting to feel guilty about things that, in the big picture of life, don’t matter.  (See above: Farm Breakfast.  There’s also not-selling-enough-Coupon-Books guilt, forgetting-to-organize-family-community-service-volunteer-project shame, and oops-did-I-REALLY-volunteer-to-organize-the-Box-Top-fundraiser? embarrassment.  And don’t even get me started on F**k-the-Phone-a-Thon-I-am-NOT-calling-and-asking-people-to-pay-more-money-than-they-already-do-to-this-school.)

Which brought us to Thursday, the only day in the week I truly did feel guilty about.  Zoey just couldn’t hack another day in school.  She wasn’t sick, per se, no fever and no vomiting, but she, the girl who bounces out of bed each day at 6 a.m., had lost her bounce.  I had to drag her from bed at 6:35, just as I was getting ready to leave, and I held her as she cried and said ‘I just don’t feel good, Mommy’.  I felt bad.  I had seen this coming, after all.  Kid needed a mental health day yesterday, and had I just dropped whatever else needed to get done and tended to her, we could have avoided this come-on-sweetie-I-have-to-leave-for-work drama.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  I’m the Ultimate Organizer (or…Slacker) in this kindergarten game, but she’s the Player.  In school, all day every day, trying to keep up with a million different themes and concepts and new rules and new teachers.  And if I’m ready to throw in the towel and scream at someone CAN WE PLEASE JUST HAVE A FRIDAY WITH NO ‘THEME’ ALREADY?! and I’m a level-headed adult…well, I can see why a five-year-old would be on the verge of meltdown on a random Thursday morning.

So I had to leave her with my grandma all day.  God bless grandma.  They sat on the couch and watched PBS cartoons all day until I could get someone to relieve me at work at 3 p.m. (more guilt, more drama that I had no time for) so I could come home.

And there you have it.  Another week in the life of a slacker mom.  SlackerMomRunning has a nice ring, doesn’t it?  Is it bad that I don’t mind my new nickname?  Because at the end of the week, I’m just relieved we survived.  It’s now Saturday morning, and I am happily typing and sipping coffee while Zoey is happily working on homework.  We made it through another week.  And, if I can figure out a way to get back on my running schedule, I’m going to care even less about things like Farm Day.  Brace yourself, Support Manager.

Here we go again

An extra day off today made my birthday week most relaxing and fun.

And it gives me time to do all the errands I would normally accomplish in a weekend, as Zoey and I are northbound this evening, along with Amy, so Amy and I (together with Carrie, and her sister, and my best friend Rikki, and many of Rikki’s friends) can take part in the Run Like a Girl half marathon in Bellingham.

It’s really a shame I haven’t run AT. ALL. in the past week and a half.

Good thing there will be something to look forward to at each mile marker of this race (I’ve heard rumors of Tiara Stations, Chocolate Miles, and–the one I’m personally waiting for–several fire fighters waiting to greet you as you cross the finish line).  Also, it’s a good thing it’s billed as a very casual, low-key race.  It’s not even chip timed.  The website recommends that if there’s a particular time you’d like them to yell out for you as you cross the finish line, just let them know shortly before you finish.  Sounds fun!  And interesting, and most likely painful, as I’m sure that jumping back in to the 13.1 game after nearly two weeks of nothing is NOT recommended on any professional training plan.

Maybe I’m not as nervous as I probably should be because I know I’ll be running with a group, and if I collapse, I’m sure they’ll all drag my body across the finish line.  Oooh!  Maybe the fire fighters will come rescue me….

The 13.1 that we totally rocked

You can go back and read my post from a couple weeks ago, the one in which I worry and fret that I won’t make it across the finish line in one piece at the You Go Girl! half marathon, and completely disregard it.

The three of us running buddies, in matching Badass Mother Runner shirts, totally blew this race out of the water.  It was awesome.

I think I was right (man, it feels good to say that!)–the combination of race-day adrenaline and a primarily downhill course helped Amy and I cross the finish line in 2 hours 12 minutes.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a full 13 minutes faster than we ran last year.  And Carrie?  Our resident firecracker, Ms. I Mean Business, So Get Out of My Way?  She crossed the finish line in 2 hours 2 minutes!

It was a beautiful day for a race: clear skies, cool temps when we crossed the start line at 8:45.  Having done the race before helped me mentally keep score of where we were at, and how far we had to go.  For instance, I used the first out-and-back as my warm up, telling myself I’d be set to go by the second leg of the race, as we wound our way up to Wright Park in Tacoma.  The third section of the race was the biggest mental challenge, although it was also the prettiest part of the course.  We had gorgeous views of the waterfront and the sun on our backs as we ran down Ruston Way, but at the turnaround point (mile 9.5), the sun was full in our (already warm) faces and we still had the biggest physical challenge left to tackle…the last three miles.

Amy and I, normally both chatty during training runs, were unusually quiet during most of the race.  The last section of the course, back on Ruston Way and up over a hill (such a little hill!) to round the final curve to the finish line, left us whispering to each other ‘just a little more’ and ‘we’re almost there’.  The best part of the run, by far, was the last half a mile, when we saw Amy’s family first, and then…just as I was about to come around that last turn to the finish, I could hear a familiar voice chanting ‘Go Mama!  Go Mama!  Go Mama!’  And then, there she was!  Right before the finish line, I saw Zoey with my aunt Cindy, grins on their faces, holding a great sign proclaiming GO MOMMY! with awesome illustrations of me running and Zoey cheering.

And then?  I looked up and saw our time.  I remember yelling ‘holy sh*t, Amy, look at our time!’ just as she was yelling at me ‘come on, strong finish!’  We sprinted across the finish line together and we felt great.  We found Carrie and posed for group photos.  We shared post-race water and snacks with our kids.  We stood around soaking up our Badass Mother Runner-ness for just a little bit.

So there you have it.  We met our goals.  We trained hard for this race and we felt great afterwards.  My daughter got to see me cross a finish line and I have to believe that somewhere in her young, developing brain, this is leaving a lasting impression on her.  I went home that day and, instead of wanting to collapse, I took Zoey to a play date at her friend’s house.  I swept my floors and finished laundry and shuttled Zoey off to bed at a reasonable hour.  (Full disclosure:  I did not cook dinner.  Cindy suggested we come to dinner at her house and I eagerly took her up on this before the offer was fully out of her mouth.)  This, the rest of my Sunday, in my mind, was the greatest victory.  I ran 13.1 miles like it was any other weekend run.

And now we set our sights on the next half, coming up the first weekend in October…

12.4 miles of ‘OMG I’ll never make it’

Hard to believe this coming Sunday is the You Go Girl! half marathon we’ve been training for all summer.

Remember that goal we had, to turn the 10 mile run in to our new 8 mile, feel good run?  We got close enough to meeting that goal that I’m going to go ahead and check it off the list.  (Physically we’re capable of completing 10 miles without wanting to die.  Mentally, we still dread this distance.  So, like I said…close enough.)

And that other goal?  The one where we wanted to complete 13.1 miles as if it were just any other Saturday jog?

Yeah.  Not gonna happen.

12.4 miles with Carrie (and I use the term ‘with’ loosely, as she started itching to ditch around mile 8, and gave up and DID ditch me at mile 10) has me going in to race day this Sunday feeling a little uneasy.  Physically, my body just wanted to be done at mile 11.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t keep going, because I did.  I just didn’t waaaaant to.  And I really, really wanted to see the finish line on race day and think ‘ooh, I could keep going!’.  Walking down my street for a cool down last Saturday, I realized I am not going to finish 13 miles feeling stellar.  In fact, I will likely drag my tired ass across the finish line, just like I did last year.  I will probably want to nap and sleep like the dead by 2 p.m. that afternoon.  I need to suck it up and be okay with these things.

Maybe the goal is the problem.  I have been known to hold to unrealistic expectations in the past.  Maybe you aren’t supposed to finish a half marathon feeling like a million bucks.  They call it training for a reason, right?  13.1 miles is not easy, at least not for me.  And I’ve been working to fool my body in to thinking that 13.1 is the same as my happy 8, but my brain is not about to be duped.

Or, the hope that I’m still clinging to at least a little bit, is that we trained on harder courses than the race course, so maybe we’ll  work that to our advantage on Sunday.  Race day adrenaline will be coursing through our veins AND there are no (count them, NO) killer hills to contend with, if memory from last year serves me well.  This past Saturday, we tackled the killer hill twice.  Without walking.  Possibly, this is why my brain started sending ‘Emergency!  Abort mission!’ signals to my legs right at mile 11.  Maybe with no killer hills, I’ll still be feeling fresh as a daisy at mile 11 on Sunday.

Stop laughing.

Whatever happens on Sunday, at least I know I prepped as best I could.  If Amy and I finish in the same amount of time as last year, so what?  (Carrie, I’m assuming, will be long gone before mile 5.)  It’s likely the two of us will lapse in to our normal routine of 11-minute miles and plenty of chatter to keep us distracted for at least two hours.  One of us will probably feel a little stronger than the other and do some heavy-duty pep talking for the last few miles.  (I did this for her at the You Go Girl! last year and she returned the favor at the Wenatchee Half this past April.)  We will both want to lapse in to a coma by mid-afternoon, but so what?

We will have just completed 13.1 miles.  We will have earned the nap.


I felt like I hit a training milestone on Saturday…my first (in quite some time) over-10-miler.

We set out from my house thinking we’d cover 10 miles.  But, as is so often the case, Carrie waited until I hit my runner’s high before dropping the hint that we might as well make this run 11 miles, because really…we only have a few weeks before You Go Girl! and we haven’t gone more than 10 miles in a long time…and I, endorphin-addled at mile six, cheerfully agreed.  It’s good that she plays the game this way.  If she waited until mile nine to make suggestions about adding on miles, I would surely laugh at her as I turned the corner for home, instead of another loop around the park.

I felt strong all the way up to mile 10.  Normally, when I have a running buddy at my side, I don’t pay close attention to the miles ticking by on Runkeeper.  Around mile eight, I’ll start glancing at it every once in awhile.  But by mile nine on Saturday, after clearing the killer hill twice (running all the way up and over once, and making it to the yellow sign on the second round), I was ready to be done.  I think I watched every tenth of a mile tick by on my phone.  It was all mental at that point, which makes me nervous for these upcoming half marathons on our calendars.  By mile 10, it’s all about what you’re telling yourself in your head.  I’m not sure I’m ready to tell myself, after 10 miles, that I still have a 5k left to go.

This is where I rely on my running buddies.  For that last mile and a half, Carrie’s voice ruled over the voice in my head that was telling me to just stop already.  “Come on Ame!  We’re almost done!”  We made it back to my driveway in just under two hours.  I felt spent, but relieved to know I could still pull off more than 10 miles.

Which is pretty much just how I want to feel after I run 13.1 miles on September 16.