Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Race Recap: Eugene Marathon 2019

Image may contain: 13 people, including Vanessa Wallace, Gabrielle Blevins, Nicki Williams Halin, Julie Mullins, Renee Krempley, Steven Draper and Justin C. Hanes, people smiling, people standing
2019 Eugene Marathon Embassador team!

Eugene Marathon:
Sunday April 28 2019

I started training for Eugene Marathon 2019 in the later part of January.  2019 hit me hard with some mild illness, putting a damper on training. It didn't worry me much, as I still had several months ahead. I was back to training soon enough and was hit again with a stomach bug, loosing another good week of quality runs. It was frustrating as I'm not one who is often sick. As April came, I was hitting peak week for training and my left foot started to give me some problems. I won't bore you with the details, but I had to take several days off in April, leaving my mileage for the month at 50%. It really wasn't looking good for me racing this time.

I tried to stay optimistic. I did a lot of miles on the bike and row machine. I did what I could, while letting my foot rest. I literally played it day by day the weeks leading up to the marathon. I didn't post anything about "not running the Eugene Marathon" because I really was hoping to wake up race morning feeling better. That's not asking too much is it?

Saturday April 27th came. I ran the 5k as a shake out run and to test my foot as I hadn't been running much at all over the last two weeks. I needed to decide if I would drop to the half, run at all, or stick with the full marathon. I really didn't know what to do. My foot didn't feel any worse after the 5k, in fact I felt as if it was getting better daily. I decided to keep my registration the same. I was going to run the full marathon the next morning.

I don't know what people thought? Maybe it was a stupid move on my part, maybe it was brave. The only thing I was thinking is I wanted to run the full. If I have too walk off the course, I was prepared to do so, or so I thought anyway.

I had been suffering with a cold, so I had been on cold meds. I mention this only because it matters.

Sunday April 28th started perfect as a race day can get. I woke up on time and I had sleep well. I had everything out and ready to go. I was meeting up with friends and the weather was nice and cool, dry with no wind. My husband was running too and we parked right at Autzen Stadium without any hassles. I had time to go to the bathroom and get to my stuff to bag check. I got into corral "B" as the Star Spangled Banner was being sung. I turned on my watch, said hello to a few runners I knew and we were sent on our way. I felt really good for the most part. My arms were cold, but I knew I would quickly warm up. The energy of the runners was enough to make me want to shout. I love the energy a big race brings. I was mostly paying attention to my let foot, my #1 goal was not to harm it more as I would want to run in the following weeks to come.

I started at the pace I had trained for, although I hadn't gotten "all" my training in, I was feeling comfortable at this pace, so I just went with it. I enjoyed looking at all the runners around me. I saw a few people I knew, while looking for others I knew were out with me somewhere. I had run the Preview Run 1, so I knew most of the first several miles. It was nice to know what was coming.

Soon we ran by Hayward field, this was the start/finish in 2018. I loved finishing there last year, but was really excited to finish in Autzen Stadium on the fifty yard line today! Yesterday (Saturday) the kids dash finished on the fifty yard line along with the 5k. It was really fantastic, but I wanted to step over that line after running the full marathon!

As the morning went on, I started to worry about my foot a little. Some of the course was slanted as we ran around the corners. This was aggravating my foot to some degree, but I still felt I was okay to keep moving forward.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened. I can't even give specifics, but I remember coming to about mile 12. Marathoner were to go to the left and half marathoners were to run to the right, back towards Autzen Stadium. I remember desperately wanting to go right. I went left and followed the path leading away from Autzen. The path the marathoners were lead to go down. I began to panic a little. I knew the next 15 miles could end up being very difficult! I didn't know if I could handle it today! I wasn't feeling like a "marathon runner."

I ran on, keeping myself as clam as I could. Self talk, math problems, mind games, just stupid stuff that keeps me moving forward. I was keeping to myself this year not talking to anyone. In 2018 I had four people I was running with by this time and we had kept each other going, like a running machine all working together. It was amazing. This time, I just ran, tried to stay positive and enjoy the beautiful path I was running on.

Soon my stomach started to work against me. At first I didn't know what the problem was, but after the race thinking back, I am certain this was due from taking cold meds all week. I believe I was getting dehydrated. I was feeling like a dried up sponge. I couldn't figure it out at the time. I had been hydrating well all week, even that morning before the race. Suddenly the water stations were too far apart. In any normal marathon, about every 1.5-2 miles is totally fine. In 2018, that was fine! Now, suddenly it was not!

The halfway point had come. There was three port-a-potties. I wondered if I just went to the bathroom, would my stomach feel better? I stopped. This was the first time I stopped. I was frustrated because all three port-a-potties had people in them, so I stood there feeling stupid. I listened to a women talking on the phone who had walked off the course and wasn't going to finish today. I believe she was waiting to be picked up. Tempting!

I finally got into the port-a-pot and nothing! I couldn't even go! It was a complete wasted stop and now I not only had wasted about five minute, now I didn't care about running the race anymore. I really wanted to just be done. I didn't have my phone, we were out on a Pre's Trail and I didn't know the area I was in at all. There wasn't much I could do but keep going. I took a step back onto the trail and I heard, "JULIE?" I turned around and it was a running friend, Stacy! Our boys had played baseball together years ago and we were both running today! We took off together, quickly learning we both were not feeling well for today's marathon.
Image result for running misery loves company
"Misery Loves Company"
Stacy became my running angel. As cheesy as that may sound, I don't know how else to describe the moment. She was like a breath of fresh air and she got me running again. I was able to forget about my stomach pain for awhile. I learned Stacy had missed a whole lot of training due to a back issues. We were two women, running together, suffering together, we were okay because we were together, for the time being anyway!

As we got to the latter miles, it got harder and harder for me to run. My stomach was in pain. At one point we came to an aid station and I doubled over in pain. I looked at a chair at the medic tent and wanted to cry. I threw up a little and started walking. I wanted to be done, but we were nearing the end. I looked up and Stacy was waiting. I took some water and drank it because I desperately wanted water, but as I drank my stomach would ache even more. It was a very difficult time in the race. We ended up doing some walking. I had to stop. This was no longer a race for time. In fact, time didn't even matter much anymore. I was keeping track of the time, only to think of my husband who should of finished about 10:22am, Kristi by 11:00am and Lori by 11:15am. That was all that mattered anymore.

Running out the last miles of the marathon!
Stacy and I took turns having "freak out moments." We never left each other. We even took turns "mothering" each other. Once she had to stop. She knelt down. Stacy is a women I don't know on a personal level very well, but I knew she wanted to cross the finish line into her families arms. Another runner stopped and asked if she was okay. I told that runner to leave her alone and give her a moment. Sure enough, Stacy had her moment, got up and started running again. Around mile 23 Stacy looked over at me and said, "lets not walk anymore, I need to be done." I was feeling recovered enough to say, "okay" and we slowly ran. I just needed her to tell me not to walk anymore because I didn't care anymore.  One thing I was waiting for was mile marker 24! If I made it to mile 24, I would finish. Mile 24 was a huge moment for me in last years Eugene Marathon. If I could run and make it then, I could do it today.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and textWe made it to mile 24, I took a drink of water, doubled over in pain for a sec and ran on. We slowly made our way back to Autzen Stadium. As we ran towards the "O" we took a left to finish up the race by running around the Stadium. We came around the other side and got to turn and go into the stadium. I looked over at Stacy and said, "it's your moment," she said the same thing back. We ran through the tunnel together, just like we ran the race of our lives, came out the other side onto the football turf. I felt such a sense of relief. We ran all the way to the 50 yard line, even passing someone in the process and finished together like superstars. I heard my name over the loud speaker and then was handed a finishers medal. Stacy and I hugged a long hug. She cried! I wanted to scream, "I'M FINALLY DONE!" We walked out of the stadium together, proud of each other, thankful that we had each other and so happy we were done!

We took the walk up to the finishers recovery area where her family was in the front waiting for her to the left and my husband and two friends were on the right. It was a beautiful moment I will never forget.

It's unfortunate Stacy and I had a bad race, but that comes with running. Some training cycles don't go our way. I love Eugene Marathon and will be back for 2020. I loved the Health and Wellness Expo and I love the race itself. This race is at a time of year in Oregon that is usually great running weather. The race is in Eugene, Tracktown USA! You run on Pre's Trail. The course is mostly flat and paved. You run in the footsteps of legends. It's a well done and well organized race!

Eugene Marathon 2019 was my 15th marathon to date. I knew I would run this race after racing it in 2018. It was such a great experience. I grew up not far from Eugene, so it feels like "home" running in that area.

I would like to add a congratulations to my husband Jerry for running a 3:24:26 and qualifying for Boston today. Also a shout out to my friend Lori who trained extremely hard and got a huge PR today coming in at 4:05:22.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Jerry Mullins, people smiling, people standing
Jerry qualified for Boston today, so proud of him!

If you would like to join me for Eugene 2020, add April 25th-26th to your 2020 calendar!

Race results and photos can be found HERE!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Race Preview: 2019 Heart-breaker Half-Martahon, 10k and 5k Run/Walk (Hillsboro)

February, a month to celebrate with the one you love! It's always a good month to celebrate with a race! Consider joining me and my love February 17th at 8:00a for the 2019 HeartBreaker Half. If you don't like the idea of a half-marathon, there is also a 10k and 5k. You can chose to walk or run the races although take note: you will be asked to complete the races at a 15 minute pace (four miles an hour). This is a family fun event, so bring the kids for the Kid's Dash! The Kid's Dash will begin after the half, 10k and 5k. 

The half marathon is a three loop course. One of the loops will be run two times. It's a beautiful route that will cover country roads, beginning opposite side of the tennis courts adjacent to the track and will circle the football stadium. This isn't a "flat" course, although there are flat parts of the course. Expect a little elevation gain during mile one and a few climbs (up to 50 ft elevation gain) before heading up Heartbreak Hill! Don't forget, you do get to run down those hills too! It's a bit challenging, but an excellent way to spend the morning! Heartbreak Hill is going to be timed as a separate race. The fastest man and woman will receive a special prize! This race will finish inside the stadium, running the track into the finish line.

Preview of Providence Heart To Start Heart Breaker Half Marathon, 10k & 5k, Run/Walk
Check out the cool swag!
The 10k course is one of the loops on the half-marathon course. The 10k doesn't include the Heart Break Loop. It's a beautiful course ran over quiet and scenic country roads. It's mostly flat with a few moderate rolling hills (max elevation gain, less than 50 ft). Runners and walker will finish on the running track and cross the finish line inside the stadium. Note: the 10k will be slightly longer than an official 10k, ending at about 6.32 miles. 

The 5k course is going to be fast and flat! It will be ran in a beautiful business park and ending around the track, circling the football stadium.

Race Details:

When: Sunday February 17th 2019

Where: Liberty High School (21945 NW Wagon Way, Hillsboro, OR

Time: Half Marathon 8:00a
10k 8:10a
5k 8:20a
Kids Dash 10:30

Cost: Half $79.00
10k $59.00
5k $44.00
Kid's Dash (ages 2-10) $15.00
Note: Price Increase February 3rd!


Packet Pick-Up: Location and time TBA. There is going to be a Heartbreaker Expo. Watch your e-mail (if registered) or website for updates on time and location. There will be no race day packet pick-up.

Join the event on facebook HERE!

Check out the events website here for more information. 

Providence Heart To Start Heart Breaker Half Marathon, 10k & 5k, Run/Walk Race Day Runners

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ambassador for Eugene

For several years now I have been trying to run a "fast" marathon.  One "fast" enough to get me to Boston!  My friend Kristi Clack (2018 ambassador) asked me to run Eugene with her in 2018.  She told me it's her favorite course, the weather has always been good for her, and she's always run well at that race.  I signed up for 2018 and trained harder than I ever had.  It all paid off.  I ran a great marathon in Eugene this year and did get that BQ after many failed attempts.  Eugene marathon has become my favorite course.  It was my 13th marathon.  I tell everyone, it's a "must run race! "

I started running as an adult in October 2008, not knowing any runners.  I had recently moved to Dallas, OR and just decided I wanted to be a runner after not running since High School.  I soon meet a couple ladies who also ran.  I learned from them and slowly got stronger.  In Dallas, there are people out running all the time.  I had a dream to bring some of these people together.  I started a facebook page inviting people to run with me on Saturday mornings.  I started meeting more and more runners in the area.  I also started a running blog and meet more runners from simply writing about it.  It's wasn't long before I decided to run a marathon.

My running group runs and trains together regularly now. We get up at the crack of dawn and go out and run, share advice and help each other keep believing we can all get stronger, working together! It's such an encouragement to run with others. I would like to represent Eugene and encourage my group along with area runners, to run Eugene 2019 because I had such a great experience there in 2018. Eugene for me was a "magical" experience. I had very good training, so overall I ran well, but there was something extra special about Eugene.  I meet some really amazing runners out on the course that day.  When it got hard out there, I had people around me that somehow helped.  I had to gut it out the last two miles.  Finishing on Hayward Field is something I will never forget!  I went back and ran in Eugene "just for fun" in July.  I went out on parts of the course.  It was again "magical."  From running on Pre's Trail to feeling the Eugene Running love!  It is place I want to take all my friends.  It's an inviting place, a comforting place.  A place the community seems to embrace the runner.  I love it! I cannot wait...to finish on Autzen Stadium 50 yard line in 2019!!!

I not only run with my running group in Dallas, OR, but I do go to Salem, OR and run with the Gallagher's Fitness group. I am also an ambassador for Uberthons . I travel to the Portland area every month or so for their races, talking and sharing with other about the benefits of running to be healthy, for fun, and for competition.

I know I'm a good fit because I have a knack for sharing with others what I love to do in person, and on social media.  I often am asked about what races I would recommend and for training advice. I am a Run Oregon Blogger as well.  I believe a little encouragement goes a long ways! I take weekly photos to share on social media already.  If I am asked to represent Eugene, I will find creative ways to share the Eugene love without hesitation.

Social media is something I've been playing with for several years now. My three favorites are facebook, instagram, and blogging.  Twitter can be a lot of fun as well.  I love sharing photos and giving encouragement while using hashtags to help get my posts out a little further.  You can read about my 2018 Eugene Marathon experience HERE!

I look forward to representing Eugene for 2019!

 Julie is a 41 year-old runner from Dallas, OR.  She works full time at West Valley Hospital/Salem Health and runs as often as she can.  Julie ran in High School but as an adult, started running in 2008. Eugene 2018 was Julie's 13th marathon and her first BQ! She's loves to runs with local runners - it's what keeps her motivated and consistent! Never stop dreaming big! 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Living "Eugene Marathon"

I'm not even sure where to begin.  I've been chasing a dream that I once thought was impossible for several years now. My original marathon goal of a sub 4:30 turned into a sub 4:00.  After doing that, I deeply desired to get a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time.  

I won't bore you with the details of training, racing, failing, training again and so on and so forth. There have been lots and lots of tears, setbacks and heartbreaks in the last three years of trying to get that BQ. There were many times of ugly self pity and feeling like this would just never happen.  One thing I'm sure of is I never lost that deep deep "what if" desire to keep moving forward no matter what setback came my way. 

This last January I was ready, physically and mentally to start into marathon training again.  Winter training is my favorite as I am more of a cold weather runner.  Training went excellent and I was able to run some really good races leading up to Eugene Marathon. With all the hard work, my weak ankle decided to give me some issues.  It all stems back from an injury years ago.  This really set me back for some important training runs the last six weeks.  I also was able to hang on, and still get in some quality work on days my ankle wasn't flared up. As marathon day got near, I prayed and hoped for the best on April 29th at 7:00am.  

Sunday April 29th came and I woke up feeling better than I had in weeks.  I taped up my ankle and walked around.  I felt my foot was at a really good 90% but wouldn't know for sure until I started racing.  My legs were relaxed and hungry to race.  We stepped outside and the air felt perfect.  I was calm and focused.  I knew in the back of my mind it was going to be a good day. 

The whole morning went very smooth. As we (Jerry, our friend AJ and I) made our way to the starting line, we had to separate into three different corrals.  I  was now with 100's of people, yet all alone.  It was a good feeling. I looked around at all the people and tried to take in the moment but was eager to get started. 

Image may contain: Jerry Mullins and Julie Mullins, people smiling, people standing
My husband who ran a smoking Marathon PR!
I was in the second wave of starting runners. The official start time was 7:00am but I started about 7:05. I felt boxed in and stayed to the right, trying not to trip.  It didn't take long for the runners to stretch out and have more room.  I still stayed to the right.  It just seemed more comfortable there.  I felt pretty calm but it was early! I needed to keep calm so I tried to preoccupy my brain.  I watched different runners around me...what I liked and disliked about people's outfits.  Guessing who's going out too fast, checking for a friendly face because it would be nice to make a friend for a few miles. Anything to make the miles go my smoothly.   

The first few miles were simple, holding back and taking it all in.  "Free miles" is what I like to call them, unless I run too fast...then it's leads to a massive crash landing later on (sadly, I'm an expert on this). 

I don't remember what mile it was, but I found myself running alongside a friendly face pretty early on.  A college kid about my daughters age.  I asked him a few questions and quickly decided he was my friend and let Andrew know he was my friend. That didn't scare him off so we ran together for several miles.  When we talked about where we were from, and I said, "I'm from Dallas" a lady turned around and said, "Dallas?"  She's from the area too.  Rose became our new friend.  Matt was soon added to our group along with Elisa from my Hood to Coast team who we just happen to bump into.  We all took turns running with each other.  At times, one would go ahead or cut back, but then we would all find each other again.  One of my favorite moments of the race was on a paved trail in the park.  Maybe around mile 15 or 16 ish.  All of us running side by side, owning the path.  We were in unison, feeling powerful together.  Of course, I told them all how much I loved them and how awesome we were together.  I'm sure they thought I was loony but I didn't care.  This unison didn't last too long because we all had strong miles and weak miles. That's how it goes.

Sometime around mile 17 or 18 we all broke our marathon friendship and had to run the rest of the race alone. The thing about a marathon, mile 17-20 things can get really ugly.  People get grumpy and very self absorbed.  I've had friends try to pace me at this point and I'm not very nice (I know, hard to believe).  Anyway, there was a water station just before mile 20.  I slowed down to take a drink of water and take some salt tabs.  The sun had come out, it was warmer and this marathon just got real!  This is the part of the race I trained for and I was scared out of my mind.  

As I try and remember what was going on in my head at this time...what stands out is, I kept thinking I'm ok, I can do this. Also, times of, this is really hard, I want to walk.  I can't walk, yes I can...no I can't.  It gets a little ridiculous out there. I looked back over my splits and I know I ran this part hard...as hard as I could at this point.  I had a few really decent miles and a few miles that I was slightly disappointed in. 

Mile 24, I slowed down for my last drink of water before running the last 2.2 miles of this race.  I drank and then dropped my cup with half the water still in it.  I put my hands over my salty sweaty face and almost starting bawling.  I had a choice to make.  I had to ask myself this question, "are you going to quit now Julie?  You can walk it in, does it really matter, you ran such a good 24 miles?" or are you going to face your biggest running fear"Actually going into complete race mode and running the last part of the marathon and doing what you came to do today?"  I knew if I walked at all, I wouldn't make my goal time.  If I ran, I had a chance.  This is a really hard thing to explain, and I don't expect anyone to get it, but I was scared!  Scared of failing, scared of puking, scared of the pain.  

I put my hands down to my side and I started running.  My feet started to hurt now.  I'm actually really lucky.  Usually my feet will hurt before mile 24.  I was in a fight with my own legs.  Begging them to cooperate with me for 17 or 18 more minutes. Is that too much to ask?  Mile 24 and 25 was a good fight.  I didn't cry, I kept going.  I was pleased with my effort, yet upset I couldn't move faster.  People around me were having their own battles.  I saw runners off to the side rubbing their legs out, I saw lots of people now walking and others running it out, like I chose to do.  As soon as I hit mile 26 I started to turn and go into Hayward Field.  I had been dreaming of this very moment for a solid four months.  I stepped onto that beautiful track and raced it in with everything I had in me.  I rounded the back end of that track and started to dry heave, but I kept going.  I had just over 100 meters left to go.  I dry heaved again but couldn't stop.  I got onto the straight away and don't remember anything else until I stepped over the finish line, looking over to the right and seeing my husband, then my legs gave out.  I went down.  I didn't black out, my legs were just in shock or something.  It was totally unexpected.  Jerry (my husband) and some other person grabbed me under my sweaty armpits as someone handed me my finishers medal.  I was able to stand and walk over to the side and double over to take in the moment.  I knew I ran my very best today.  That's a good honest feeling!

Image may contain: 3 people, including Kristi Clack, people smiling, people standing
My Kristi!  She broke her foot, next time
we will be running together! 
I stood there as if I was in a dream.  I knew I had gotten a BQ but didn't know how to handle it at the moment.  I really needed a drink of water and the first thing they offered me was chocolate milk (some of you know my story about chocolate milk!)  I got to see a friend come in and then was handed some good old water and a goodie bag.  I stumbled over to the nearest fence and plopped down onto the ground.  I found food in my bag but the bagel grew in my dry mouth and I felt like I was going to choke.  I love a good bagel, but it just wasn't working for me.  I offered it to my friend Kristi, but she refused to take it from my sweaty hand.   I just sat, and then sat a little longer and enjoyed the moment looking through a mass of runners legs spread out over the finishers field. It was a good moment to realize I wasn't dreaming, I was living! 

I am so thankful for the many many messages I received Saturday night and all day Sunday.  I really mean it when I say, "I am blessed with the best of friends."  No message was overlooked.  I read each and every one of them.

Monday, January 15, 2018

For the Love of Running! It only gets Better from Here 2018!

It's 2018 and this 41 year old is excited for the New Year!  
Angry Owl 2017, my first completed Ultra
Last year was a little hard to swallow.  I suffered an injury at the peak of training for Newport.  I was thankful to be able to complete the marathon, but very disappointed.  I went on to run The Oregon Marathon, for fun with a friend.  I ran Angry Owl, a Summer Ultra to keep me motivated to keep up my miles.  I ran several half marathons and smaller races, but never really competed like I had planned.  It was a year with plenty of good memories with my running group, but I'm still after more! 
I think my proudest moment in 2017 racing was the finish line at Autumn Leaves 50k in October.  Ultra running is fascinating to me, but I don't consider myself an Ultra runner yet.  It's very new to me and I have so much to learn.

We did it, Newport Marathon, June 2017
In December of 2017 I finally felt my body was finished healing.  I was excited to start up Marathon training again and I haven't felt that way in a long time.  In April I'll be running Eugene Marathon along with many of my running friends.  I am excited to have such a fantastic group to train with.  We also keep each other accountable and it's a great thing!  I have set some high goals for myself in Eugene. 
I will train properly and hope my body cooperates this time around.  

My first half is coming soon.  January 20th, The Uberthons Winter Half.  This will be my first tempo run for Eugene training.  I'm excited to up my pace and give myself a challenge.  
I will be doing all of the Uberthons half marathons this year.  Uberthons has a half marathon series, one each season, you can
2017 Winter Half, can't wait for this year!
check out here.  I love experiencing each season with a half marathon. I certainly have my favorites, but I enjoy them all.  I will be helping and running at most Uberthons events this year as an ambassador.  I always love seeing my running friends there and making new running friends at the races!


October 6th brings a new excitement for 2018. Uberthons Fast on Flat!  I get to be an ambassador for this new event and run it too.
Fast on Flat will be held at Portland International Raceway.  There is a 5k PR challenge, a BQ Invitational Marathon and a Marathon
Relay.  This is a flat course that will be worth running on.  Come get that 5k PR, try to get your BQ or form a marathon relay team.  Your team can have 2-5 runners.  Limited to 600 teams.  The BQ Invitational Marathon has a limit of 300.  Do check this awesome new event out HERE!  I hope you can join me this day for some sure win PR's.  I know I can't wait! 
ZaoFit Running Group
                                                                                                       Training starts now!  Join my training group at ZaoFit
 We run 
together most weekends.  Looking for a Eugene half/full marathon promo code?  Use EMAMBKC18 for $10.00

💜🏃💗🏃❤I just love to run!💓🏃💗🏃♡🏃

Register for an Uberthons Event HERE

For 20% off at mysoxyfeet.com use promo code

Happy to a part of the 2018 Runway Crew as an
ambassador for Stiletto Running

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Autumn Leaves 50k 2017~ Why Ultra?

Why Ultra?  

I never dreamed of running any ultra distances until I went to help crew a friend about two years ago!  I ran some really good and really bad miles with him.  It's an interesting thing watching a friend race.  It's extremely inspiring!  I left that day, saying, "one day I'm gonna do that." 

 A couple years later, my husband Jerry and I found ourselves not only trying to get to our goals in the "marathon" distance, but enjoyed training for Ultras.  We both ran Silver Falls 50k in November 2016.  He finished, I did not.  A few months ago we both ran the 6 hour race "Angry Owl"  My goal for the 6 hours was simply to hit the 50k mark.  I really struggled with some stomach issues that day, but DID hit the 50k mark with about 7 minutes to spare!  

Right after Angry Owl our friends Stacie and Chris McGraw asked if we wanted to train for Autumn Leaves 50k with them.  We were up for the challenge.  We begin training, adding once a week runs in the McDonald forest to beat the heat of the summer. Chris ran Silver Falls 50k in 2016 with us.  Stacie would be running Autumn Leaves 50k as her first ultra "post stroke."  It was a big deal to our little group! We had some great summer runs, but as Fall came, it became harder and harder to all train toge
ther.  But we all came together October 28th to face the 50k! 

Autumn Leaves 50k!
It was a dark, cool, clear morning at Champoeg State Park.  The stars lite up the sky that morning.  My teeth chattered as I walked through the dark park.  I was glad it was cold.  It was great race weather.  Low 40s.  No wind.  No rain.  The forecast showed the sun would be out soon. I used the bathroom, several times! Then one last time before we had to line up.  It's just something that needs to be done when you race...it's ok to laugh! 

Loop two (around mile 7)
We took off promptly at 7:00 am.  The park was still dark but sightly getting light.  Most people had headlamps.  I didn't, but I was ok with all the other runners around me.  I could see just fine.  We ran down a short dirt path, through a parking lot, then onto a paved trail.  The trail was in a clearing and you could see the sun rising on the horizon.  It was a beautiful morning!

  I felt amazing as I ran next to my friends Chris and Stacie.  Jerry had already taken off and was nowhere to be seen.  We were
amongst many runners at this time.  We talked a lot.  It felt more like a Saturday morning group run with more people joining us than usual. 

Chris, Stacie and me!
As we moved along the path at a very comfortable pace, the runners gradually thinned out. The route was a good one.  We would do five 10k loops.  Just a 5k out, and a 5k back.  This was easy on the brain and we had plenty of aid stations with the course set up like this. The loops weren't boring at all.  The course was  beautiful the entire way, from the paved path, to the leaves on the trail covered in leaves. 

I started the race in long sleeves, but as soon as loop one was done, I shed a layer.  It was time for a tank top!  The second loop was great.  I ran mostly alone for this six miles.  I was ok with that, I just enjoyed the scenery and ran.  I knew where I was going and what the course held for me now. I felt good.  I felt as if I could run forever!!! I started to see the front runners now.  The way the course was designed, runners got to see each other often and it got to be really fun.  Watching the fast ones fly by, watching those moving slower but steady.  We were all in this together and every single person would give a nod, or say "looking good", "keep it up" as we would pass each other back and forth on the out and back section.  Ultra runners are more encouraging than any other group

 I've found. They seem to all know the joy in suffering together to get to the finish line.  A finish line that makes you feel so alive and well!  It's an amazing feeling!

My Ultra runner friend had warned me loop four and five would be the hardest to go back out on.  I really hoped he was wrong.  The first three loops were very smooth and good.  As I came to the turn-a-round to head out for loop four, I struggled at the thought of two more loops!  I reminded myself I "only have 12.4 miles left."  I reminded myself I love to go out and run 10-15 miles all the time. I reminded myself, "just two more loops and you will be done!"  As I headed back out on that paved section of the trail, I started to feel the fatigue setting in. 

As I started watching the runners around me more. I could see others starting to struggle as well.  I shouldn't be surprised, but somehow I'm always in hopes that the fatigue will bypass me for the race I'm in that day! 

As I started down the 2nd path after the aid station (around mile 20), I tucked in behind two men running a pretty comfortable pace for me at the time.  After a couple minutes they told me to pass them.  I let them know I needed to stay put for now and that they were helping me to keep moving.  They seemed to like that idea that they were helping and shared why they were running that day.  We all moved forward together.  It was a father and son. I never got their names, but the son was quick to tell me 3 are stronger together 
Jerry running strong! 
than 1 alone! We stayed steady and I didn't have thoughts of stopping while with them.  We made it up the hill, to the turn-around and headed back.  As we got back to the aid station, the men stopped for fuel and I kept going.  They really helped me get past the worst few miles of the race that morning!  

Final Loop (around mile 26)
I ran on, walking a few times, still struggling but doing ok.  I ran through the trails and headed back to the next turn-a-round to head out for my final loop!  As I rounded the corner, there stood my friend Kristi, ready to step in and help me finish.  Autumn leaves allowed pacers to join the runners for the last two loops (really cool). I was really happy to see her.  She asked how I was doing?  I told her not well, and that I wasn't going to be good company and I was slow.  She didn't seem to care.  She was all happy and ran along with me, taking photos and enjoyed being out in the beautiful weather on fresh legs!

I really wish I could say this was an easy loop and I finished well.  In reality, this loop was very difficult.  I had great company, so it made it bearable, that's the only good thing about this loop.  My body hurt! Both my legs aches so bad.  My right leg had 3 spots that were tender. I wanted to take my shoes off because my feet were starting to throb.  I was worried about my friends Chris and Staci because I should of seen them again by now, and I couldn't find them!  
Jerry heading towards the trail to finish up his 50k

Around mile 27 we saw Jerry heading to the finish line with about two miles to go! From the looks of it, he was going to make his goal time so I was excited for him. 

We went on, across the bridge and by the aid station.  I had eaten half my RXBAR, a grape and some coke from an earlier aid station. Right now I just wanted to be done so I didn't stop. 

Kristi and I headed out the next section and I told her about some of the runners I had run with.  She helped keep my mind from dwelling on the pain.  She was so happy (she had never paced a friend like this before...it's a really cool experience). I continued to be grumpy at this point but she didn't care!  We finally got to our last turn-a-round!!!!  We now were at mile 27.9.  Only 5k to go...Wish it was as simple as it sounds!!!! 

Chris and Staci, still going strong! 
Back down the hill we went, down the path full of Autumn leaves, runners still going, a few walkers staying consistent! Just about the time we got to the final aid-station, there was Chris and Stacie!  It was such a relief to see them still moving forward! 

We went back across the bridge (for the last time) and onto the trail covered in leaves.  This was the fun part of the course but also the harder part of the course.  It's small rolling hills on uneven ground.  My legs hurt worse on this section.  Kristi kept encouraging me, knowing that we were almost to the finish line. 

The last mile, I felt a tiny burst of energy.  I was really happy to have any energy!!!  I was able to pass a person just before heading
Only a mile or so left to go!!!! 
up through the parking lot into the finish line!  It was such a great feeling to see that finish line up ahead!  

I finished!  2nd place masters!
As I ran towards the finish line, I had Kristi with me, and Jerry and my Dad were standing there right as I crossed the line.  I was handed a finishers medal and a cool glass coffee cup.  I was told I was 2nd place female masters.  I started laughing.  I guess being 40 has some benefits!  This is my first time placing in masters!
Thanks for the loop Kristi!

I took a few minutes to calm down and then went and took advantage of the free massage.  It did wonders for my sore right leg.  I got to watch Chris and Stacie finish!  It was a sweet moment!  It was a good day! 

Check out Stacie's blog HERE!
19 minute PR from Angry Owl 3 months ago! 
Stiletto Running Ambassador..Check them out HERE!

For 10% off high quality fun athletic socks use promo code MYSOXYJULIE  HERE!

Join me for Uberthons 2018 Fast on Flat! Check it out HERE!

For 20% on custom fit insoles check out Wiivv HERE!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Angry Owl Ultra Race Review 2017!

Last Sunday July 30th I joined some friends at Bush Park for Salem's very first ultra timed race "Angry Owl Ultra"  We were greeted by race director Josh Christensen. The sun had just come up and the weather was a comfortable 60 degrees.  
Ready or not, it's go time!

Angry Owl is a Crusty Cap event.  The name "Angry Owl" comes from a series of Owl attacks on runners in Bush Park a few years back.  Read more about that here!

Angry Owl Ultra is my first "timed" race.  I signed up for the six hour race.  There was also a twelve hour and a one hour. I had a good group of friends running that day.  I had a goal in mind....  50k (31.5 miles).  This would be my second attempt to run this distance and I really had no idea how the day would turn out.  Thankfully I hadn't thought too much about it being Summer! The heat does scare me but I was excited about this event, so my mind hadn't gone there yet!

The course!
We all started and finished on the derby track behind the stadium. From there we did a loop through Bush Park.  The loop was just over a mile around, so this loop was ran over and over again for hours. As boring as that sounds, it wasn't!!!  

We had a mix of hard packed dirt, non-technical trail loaded with trees (shade!). Grass, packed gravel, and asphalt.  Each loop around we went back by the start/finish line.  There was a wonderful fuel station here loaded with all kinds of snacks and water.  

After one hour...feeling really good! 
The first hour went by so fast! My running group started together.  It felt like a weekend long run!  We casually chatted at a very comfortable pace.  My friend Kristi had signed up for the hour and told me she was going to stay with me that first hour!  We ran six laps together before her time was up!  As I left to start my 7th lap, I ran alone.  I felt like I was just starting! It was now a sunny 63 degrees.  I was feeling very good and felt I was off to a good start.

Some things I learned Sunday!  
1)  A loop event is a good idea.  
     When my husband and I went to help crew our friend Chris for Pac Rim a few years ago, I was introduced to the timed ultra loop race.  My first thought was never.  Running a loop around a park for hours and hours would be the worst. As we ran with Chris that day, I was inspired to do a race like this someday.  At Angry Owl I discovered for myself how great the loop was.  
2) Every mile we had access to food and water. 
3) Friends and family knew where to find us.  
4) The course was easy to figure out.  
    After running the loop a time or two, bingo...no getting lost!
5) I knew if I got too hot or tired, I wouldn't be stuck out on the course with no help.
6) I got to run with everyone! 
    From the fasted people out there, to the slowest...we all ran together.  We would lap each other and give each other shout outs as we went by.  Everyone was so friendly.  
7) I made a few new friends. 
Pam Smith running with my husband Jerry.  She encouraged
him to run one last mile, even though his time was iffy!
He did make it before the six hour cut off! 
    Since we were seeing the same faces over and over people start visiting.  I felt like people visited more in this race than any other race I have ran.  I met Randall from Newport.  My Hoka friend. Flag guy (later found out his name is Dean).  Ultra runner Pam Smith.  Pam just recently ran on the 2017 USA Women's National 24 hour running team.  It was a privilege to run a lap with her.  She is very encouraging and took the time to get to know many of us runners that day by name! 

Hour three!  It was now a sunny 70 degrees.  I was still running pretty comfortable.  It was nice to know there was shade for every loop.  As we came into the sun, there was a little breeze.  Then the fuel station.  I simply kept going!  

Every hour I would stop and refuel my water bottle.  I poured carbo-pro into my handheld, a volunteer topped it off with cold water, and I would grab a salt tab and go.  That was it for the first four hours. 

 My stomach had been giving my issues since we started the race.  I blamed the burger and fries I ate the night before (I know better), but then again, it's one of the mysteries of running.  Sometime the stomach issues are hard to figure out. 

Five hours.  It was now in the upper 70's.  I never felt overheated but I could feel the effects of the warmer weather.  I started filling by handheld up about every two miles now.  I also started eating the watermelon at the fueling station.  Every time I ate one, it tasted like the best watermelon in the whole world. 

The last hour and a half!  I remember hitting mile 26.2.   I was in the woodsy part of the park and Pam Smith happened to be with me. I told her, I just past the marathon mark.  I'm now running farther than I ever have before.  I was excited but also a little intimidated at what this last hour would bring. I was feeling very warm, my feet were starting to hurt really bad and I was hungry!  

As I came around the the start/finish I remember seeing my friend Jeanne who was there with her husband Chris and our group from Dallas.  I said hi to her as I ran by and said, "I'm going to just keep putting one foot in front of the other."  That's what Jeanne's cousin Lori had said before the race!  She was also out there running the six hour race for the first time! 

I did just that, one foot in front of the other, just keep moving forward.  I allowed myself to slow down, but no quitting.  In a race like this, you can stop and end your laps at any point, but I couldn't stop yet.  I hadn't got to 50k yet. 

Finishing the 6 hour race.  50k  
Back on the Leffelle St. side of the loop Team RWB had a little coffee station set up.  As I looped the course over and over I couldn't help but talk to the people at the station.  They had a huge American flag and I see them running in races all the time, carrying the flag! Air Force Vet, Dean Chambers was carrying the flag that day.  He ran a loop with my friends and me whenever we asked him too.  He also ran my final two laps with me that day.  He helped me forget about the pain my feet were feeling, how my legs were cramping and how hot it was getting.  I think I stopped and walked once during those last two miles.  It was just for about 30-60 sec.  Dean ran with the American flag through the finish line as I finished my first six hour race, completing my goal of a 50k!  My friends Chris and Stacie McGraw and Kristi Clack were back after running the hour race at 6am.  I was so glad to be done!  It was now climbing into the 80s.  I was thankful I wasn't doing the 12 hour race, as it got up into the 90s that day!  

Some of my friends at the finish line! 
My friends and I ended our run with good food (the best part)!

 I did have stomach issues for a couple days.  I wasn't that sore the following days.  I think going the slower pace for a longer run helped my body not "overdo" it.  It was a great experience.  I will be back for more next year! 

Thank you Josh for bringing the Ultra to Salem.  It was well organized, well marked and a great experience. 

31 laps, 50k distance. 6 hour race.
8th place, 2nd female finisher. 5:48:34

Dean Chambers Bonus Story!
As mentioned in my blog, I met Air Force Vet Dean Chambers.  Often when running with people you learn part of their story!  Dean just so happens to have an story I thought my readers would want to hear! 
Meet Dean!

In January 2016 I went in for a check up after changing primary care physicians. I hadn't had a checkup in a while, not being one of those people who goes to the doctor frequently. Turns out, my A1C was 6.7 (into diabetic range), fasting blood sugar was 138 (also high), my triglycerides were 248 (fat in the blood essentially and way too high), my cholesterol, while not seriously high was out of whack in terms of HDL/LDL ratio. The bad was too high and the good was too low. HDL was 28 and LDL was 134. My resting bp was 134/90-some with a pulse of about 100bpm. Not extraordinarily high but teetering on hypertensive. In short, I was about to fall off the diabetic cliff of my own design. I seldom exercised, I drank a lot of sugar, ate a lot of carbs and fatty foods. Lots of saturated and trans-fat. The doctor advised that I need to make a change or I would end up diabetic and forced to deal with that the rest of my life, which was likely to be shorter than average if I kept up the way I was. I have seen the effects of diabetes left unchecked, and I can tell you it ain't pleasant. I was 51 at that time. Wow. That week I joined a gym and committed to losing weight and getting some regular exercise. I cut out liquid sugar all together. Lowered my processed carb intake substantially, and started making less fatty food choices. Leaner meats like chicken and turkey and fish. Salads instead of fries. A lot less salt. I started scouring the Internet for nutrition and weight loss tips and tricks. There is a lot of chaff on the internet. A lot of conflicting information. But I managed to correlate and corroborate enough of it the get me on a more or less solid plan of action. Over the next several weeks I started going to the gym 3 days a week, then 4, then 5, then 6. I started seeing some real results, and as I saw results I got more motivated. At my heaviest (that I know of) I was 230 or so, 36" pants (which were tight), and extra large shirts. I didn't like what I saw in the mirror too much, but like so many, I fooled myself into believing that it was normal and I was healthy enough because I felt good..., right? Well, it wasn't long before my clothes looked like duffel bags and I was buying new stuff. Just as a side note, losing weight is expensive. Also, if you do lose a lot of weight and need a new belt, never whip your old belt off in the store to try on the new without first grabbing the waistband of your now far too large shorts. I nearly had a very awkward wardrobe malfunction in the middle of JC Penny's. After about 4 months I had another lipid and A1C panel. The doc had put me on a statin to get my cholesterol in check quickly but no other medications. My results were somewhat amazing. My AIC had dropped to 5.5, under the danger zone. My triglycerides had dropped a full 200 points, my LDL/HDL was looking great at about 40 each. My resting pulse was 65, and my BP was 87/51. In fact, the nurse taking my BP had to take it twice with different equipment and then asked if I was feeling ok or whether I feeling light headed. I was like, "Nope, I feel good..., why?...." It's not usually a good sign when a medical professional say's "Hmm...let try that again.... Are you feeling OK?" But it this case, it was. Based on that result I was able to stop taking the statin all together. I'd been doing cardio during this time, walking, elliptical, that sort of thing. And a bit of weight lifting. I was hungry pretty much all the time and I wasn't necessarily eating tiny meals. About every hour i needed a snack. Two hours and I'd be about ready to chew my own arm off. Once my metabolism kicked into gear, I was burning through food like there was no tomorrow. I'd made it down to about 190 pounds, which I hadn't seen in probably 25 years. And I'd hit a sort of plateau. It was still coming off, but way slower. Not discouraging slow, but slower. I figured this was somewhat normal. I've never been runner. In fact, I've always hated it and would do it as little as possible. It's one of the reasons I joined the Air Force as opposed to the Army. Not THE reason, mind, but one of them. During my treadmill walks, I started running. A minute here, a minute there. Then two. Then three, five. On a whim I decided to try the Military Fitness test mode for the Air Force. This was the typical mile and a half. It was hard and I made it through. I was surprised though that it wasn't AS hard as I figured it would be. And I finished in about 13.5 minutes or so. Which was faster than when I was in the Air Force 30 years ago. So I started mixing in 1.5 miles into my routines 2 or 3 times a week. All the while that 5K button on the treadmill was slapping me in the face. So one day after my hour long weight training session I thought, what the hell.... And pushed the 5K button and took off. My first 5K (ever in my life) distance was just under 30 minutes. Which I thought was pretty good. And to my surprise again, it was hard, but not THAT hard. And so, I started mixing in 5Ks 2 or three times a week. And the weight started to shed again, which only spurred me on. My first race was in October 2016. It was the Insane Inflatable 5K at the Fairgrounds. 11 huge inflatable obstacles over a 5K course. Now up to this point, I'd never run outside. Well, not since the military anyway. Certainly, I'd never run a 5K outside. This was probably not my wisest choice for my first 5K race but I had a lot fun, finished in about 30 minutes and was seriously hooked. "I'll probably just stick with 5Ks. I'm having fun with that distance. I don't really have any desire to do a 10K or longer.....". I'd said this several times around this time. My first 10K race was the Zena Road Run in February 2017. Technically it was 6 miles, but close enough. Especially given it was on Spring Valley Road which is exceptionally hilly for the full 6 miles. Keep in mind I'd only been actively running since about May of the previous year. Again, this was not my wisest choice for my first 10K race, but why break precedent, right? By this time, I had begun to run outdoors as much as weather would allow. And by that I mean, if it wasn't icy, so at least I was prepared for the constant rain that fell during the race. My goal for that race was a 9:30 pace and I managed a 9:00 flat. I was told later by my new friends at Gallagher Fitness that there was this thing called "Race Day Magic". Didn't know that at the time, but now it's something I depend on, and I'm getting better at predicting it. By this time I had found a Monday Runday group at Gallagher Fitness and through that, Team RWB. I found it really inspirational to run with others, and the Team RWB members that ran with American flags were totally awesome. I wanted to do that too. So, I got myself a flag and some Team RWB shirts and started running pretty much exclusively with it. My first flag run was just over 3 miles and honestly it felt like I had all the energy in the world. I felt so proud to be carrying it, and the waves and thumbs up from the people I passed was awesome. The more I ran with it, the less I noticed it was there. It still gets tiring to carry, but it's manageable. "I'll just run 5Ks with it. 10K might be too much," I said. My first 10K with the flag was the Salmon Run in Bend. This time I chose a high elevation run for my "first". I managed just shy of a 9 minute pace. Not my best 10k pace but considering the flag, the altitude, and 27 degrees, I was happy with it. I had a couple of memorable flag moments on that run. I got the ball of the flag pole caught in the fork of a tree limb that almost pulled me off my feet. I had a course marshall yell "Show Off!" At about mile 4. (She was smiling when she said it, and it made me chuckle.). And I was standing around at the finish and a lady came up to me and lightly touched my shoulder and said "Thank you" a couple times and there were tears in her eyes. She walked away without another word and disappeared in the crowd but I suspect there was more to the story there. "I've got no desire to run more than 10K. I'm having fun with the that distance and I don't think a half or full marathon would be fun." My first half marathon was in July 2017 in Coburg. I did not carry the flag in that one, and by mile 11, I was glad of that. Also, it was a nice cool morning and the course was flat as a pancake. I managed to choose wisely for my first half. My goal was a 9 minute mile at most and I was counting (hoping) on Race Day Magic (RDM) to carry me through to a sub hour and 50 minutes. I finished with an 8:30 average pace in just over 1:50, missing my hoped for goal by a mere 54 seconds. Best of all my Mother and Aunt surprised me at the finish line. I remember thinking, "That lady is a dead ringer for my aunt... Wait. That IS my aunt!" That was a huge milestone for me, given that in about a year and a half was down to 170 pounds from over 230, 6 inches was gone from my waist and I was wearing medium shirts for the first time since high school. In a year, I went from running as little as possible to running 3.5 miles a day on average and finishing a half-marathon. I'm no longer saying, "I think a half marathon is long enough....". I plan on running a full within the next couple years. An ultra? Maybe some day. I might never be a Boston qualifier, but at this point I'm not totally ruling that out either. In ten years, who knows? If I can maintain my pace, the qualifying times based on age may come down to meet me. It's been quite a journey. I've learned a few key things. If you set your mind to it, you can do it, whatever "it" is. Losing weight does not mean dieting, starving and depriving. In fact, doing that is a recipe for failing. It means changing the types of food you eat and not eating everything in sight. I've been very satisfied in my meals and I've lost 60 pounds. True, you must exercise. BUT, it can be fun when you find a group to exercise with. I would say, finding people to exercise with is a must. Once you start seeing results though, prepare to get addicted to it. And be patient. Results, no matter how small, are still results. It isn't a race, it's a lifestyle. And tell yourself, it's OK to have that bowl of ice cream once in awhile. It can be your reward for all the hard work you've put in.
Arin, Lori and Dean at Angry Owl Sunday!!!!