2017 Shamrock 15K

Hello dear readers!  My poor neglected blog.  Just when I think life can’t get more busy, the busy turns up a notch.  Although it is promising to be a slightly less chaotic summer.  Hallelujah!

Since I’m turning a very scary (to me anyway) number this year, I decided it would be a good idea to try to run 40 races.  Why I thought this was a good idea, I am not sure.  I finished race #11 earlier today and at some point I will try and do a lightning round of recaps.  But I thought I’d give an actual post to Shamrock since it is one of the premier events in Portland.

Last year, Shamrock was so wet!  Good news, it wasn’t wet this year.  It was freezing, but no rain!  But let’s back up a tick.  They rearranged the schedule and the 15K was no longer first!  Yay!  However the 5K was first, which turned out to be a good thing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I decided to take the Max into downtown to avoid and parking hassle.  Halfway there I realized I had forgotten my iPod and my watch!!  Oh snap!  What  to do?  Fortunately my friend Jessica was doing the 5K and offered to lend me her watch.  I was on my own for the iPod.  But what I’ve found is that every once in a while it is good to run without music.  I caught up with Jessica right before the start and grabbed the watch.


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The Great Watch Hand-off


Finally it was time for the 15Kers to line up.  They had changed the route slightly from the year before, but the route looked just as hilly, but backwards.

Going into the race I wasn’t expecting much – my training has really consisted of races and I had gotten back from Disney World the night before.  However, I like to have a goal.  Taking everything into consideration, I was hoping for anything under 2:05, but I would be happy with anything under 2:10.


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Go time!


The race started off on Naito Parkway towards Barbour Boulevard.  Since I had a watch (YES!) I was able to keep fairly consistent 1:1 intervals even up the giant hills.  Seriously, why do I put myself through this?


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Stupid hills


Finally I was at the top of Terwilliger!  All downhill from here, right?  Yeah, not quite.  There was another slow uphill before we turned around and finally headed back down towards Naito.

And done!!  Time?  2:03:09!!   Under 2:05!  I didn’t stick around too long at the after party since I was SO COLD.  As much as I complain about the hills, I really do enjoy this race.  And I really enjoyed the fact they had heat sheets this year!!

Stay tuned for details on my quest for 40!!





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2016 in Races

Another year is coming to an end!  How is it you blink and another year passes?

Reflecting back on 2016…I lost speed, suffered through some plantar fasciitis, found a little speed, and FINALLY got a new half PR!  No new states this year, but I can cross off another country!  Thank you Disneyland Paris Half!  And I made my goal of a race in each month, if barely!

What’s in store for 2017?  Well I think I am about ready to take on a new 10K PR.  Who knows if it’ll happen in 2017, but it is something to work towards.  It’s probably time to dust off the old “Race the States” challenge and find a race in a new state (or two).

By the numbers:

  • 1 – 5K
  • 2 – 8K
  • 17 – 10K (did I really do 17 10Ks!!?!?)
  • 1 – Quarter Marathon (auto PR, new to me distance)
  • 1 – 12K
  • 1 – 15K
  • 10 – Half Marathons

And of course, in pictures:


  • January – ORRC New Year’s 10K
  • February – Princess 10K with the fabulous Abby
  • March – Shamrock 15K
  • April – 520 Go Long 10K with Nilufer
  • May – Tink 10K with Jessica & Susan
  • June – Seattle RnR 8K with Nilufer
  • July – Foot Traffic Flat 8K
  • August – Canby Dahlia Half
  • September – Disneyland Paris Half
  • October – Girlfriend’s Quarter Marathon
  • November – Wine & Dine Half with Jason
  • December – 12Ks of Christmas
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2016 12Ks of Christmas

If its Christmastime, it must be 12Ks of Christmas time!  This has been a staple in my running career since I started running.  So of course I planned my Christmas trip back to Seattle in time to be able to run it.

If you register in time (which I did!) they offer packet pick-up the day before at Everyday Athlete.  It was super easy and I was in and out in a flash.

The race started at 9:35, which meant I could sleep in a smidge!  Woohoo!


Pre-race “footie”

Considering I hadn’t really run since Wine & Dine, I had very low expectations for this race.  They let us go in waves of a couple hundred each.  I set out and tried to get into a groove.



Smile for the camera


The course has gone through several changes over the past few years, but I really do like this last version.  There are still hills, but its Seattle, or rather, Kirkland.  Pretty hard to avoid hills altogether.  But the course has definitely been smoothed out.  A decent amount of the race now takes place along the Kirkland Cross Corridor Trail, which also means a decent amount of time spent on gravel roads.

Towards the end I was definitely feeling the effects of not having run – i.e. I was tired!  My run intervals had significantly slowed down, but I was still running.



Almost there

My favorite change to the course is the downhill to the finish line!  And finally it was in sight!  I didn’t really have a finishing kick left, but I gave it all I had.

Going into this I didn’t have high hopes, but my secret goal was under 1:35.  I came in at 1:33:52, which I was more than happy with.

So ends 2016 in races.






Post Race Treat!




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2016 Christmas Market Adventures

It has been several years since I’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving abroad.  It used to be more of a regular occurrence.  It had been playing around in my head for a while to try and put together a trip for this year and when my friend Nilufer moved to Luxembourg, I decided I really should make this happen!


Vienna (Christmas market near city hall)

The end of November is still a little early for Christmas markets, however Vienna’s Christmas markets would be open, which is how I ended up in Vienna to start my trip.

After I landed in Vienna, I made my way to the hotel where I met up with Nilufer and we began our explorations.  But first, dessert!  Our hotel (Pension Suzanne) was in a great location, near the Opera and more importantly, near the Sacher Café!!  I had once read a book that took place in Vienna and the characters would often go to the Sacher Café.  When I visited Vienna with Jana, we had several meals at the Sacher Café and discovered their delicious chocolate liqueur.  I happily introduced Nilufer to the Sacher Café.


The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the various Christmas markets, drinking gluhwein, and eating all the things.  Oh and eggnog!!  I have a rule (self-imposed) that no eggnog is allowed until after Thanksgiving, but since Vienna doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I think I can break this rule.  Right?

For dinner, we had Weiner Schnitzel (what else are you going to eat in Austria?) at Figlmueller (behind the cathedral) and called it an “early” night since I could barely keep my eyes open.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel (typical European breakfast) before making our way to the main train station to catch a train to Bratislava.  We arrived at the Petrzalka station and caught the bus to the old town, driving across the New Bridge (Novy Most) with the giant UFO looking observation deck.  We spent the day wandering around Bratislava Castle, the old town, and the Christmas markets!  We even climbed stairs up to the top of St Michael’s Gate and ate at the oldest restaurant in Bratislava.

We caught the bus back to the train station and the train back to Vienna.  We finished our night with what else but a hot chocolate at the Sacher Café!

Monday was our last day in Vienna and we started off with breakfast at Aida, near the cathedral (a Viennese chain established in 1913).  We had the tower of breakfast!  And it really was a tower!  It barely fit on the table!!


After breakfast, we caught the tram out to Schonnbrun Palace and meandered the grounds (it was a beautiful day) before exploring their Christmas markets, complete with gluhwein.  We made our way back into town and meandered some more before it was time to make our way to the airport to catch a flight back to Luxembourg.

Nilufer was back at work Tuesday and so I took the train to Metz (in France).  If you are counting, that would be country number 4 (Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg and now France).  Metz was a charming little town and I happily wandered through their Christmas markets (which were just starting), cobbled streets, and the magnificent cathedral.  It threatened to rain most of the day and even started sprinkling at one point.  When it finally started raining in earnest, I made my way back to Luxembourg where I met up with Nilufer for a delicious Italian dinner!

Wednesday I was on my own again and made my way out to Vianden (in Luxembourg), which involved a train to Ettelbruck and a bus to Vianden.  The bus stop was in the town of Vianden and the castle was at the top of the hill so up I climbed.  Up and up and up.

After touring the castle, I was on my way back down when a sign caught my eye.  It looked like it was pointing to a good view-point.  You know me, I’ll do just about anything for a good view or a good picture and so I started climbing again.  The trail was almost completely covered with leaves, which of course disguises the tree roots and other tripping hazards.  I gingerly climbed up the switchbacks until I got a decent view.  I think I may have gotten a better view if I had continued up, but figured I might be pressing my luck, considering my history of tripping.  And my general clumsiness.  Even if I could climb all the way up, I would still have to make my way down (which might be worse).

I wandered around the town before beginning my journey back.  I explored Luxembourg City a bit until Nilufer was done with work and we ventured to the Christmas markets.

Thanksgiving!  We celebrated by making our way to Echternach (oldest town in Luxembourg, however there is an Echternacherbruck in Germany across the river).



In Germany!  Echternacherbruck


We stopped off at the Tourist Info Office which was closed but there was a brochure with a walk around the city.

We had lunch in what looked like a hole in the wall but was highly recommended on yelp.  And they had turkey on the menu!  Of course I had to have the turkey!!

We attempted to explore a nearby castle, only to discover it was closed when we arrived.  So instead we made our way into the Mullerthal (aka Little Switzerland) and did a baby hike out to a beautiful little waterfall (Schiessentümpel).  We made our way back to Luxembourg for dinner at a Spanish restaurant, where we had pumpkin soup to continue the Thanksgiving theme.

Friday morning, it was time for me to leave.  Nilufer dropped me off at the train station and I began my journey to Bremen to visit my friend Mandi.  Mandi and I went to high school together and have a history of meeting up in places not in Seattle.  In fact, she was in Bonn at the same time I was in Bonn (how crazy to think that was 8 years ago!!).  Mandi met me at the train station and she showed me around Bremen’s old town and their Christmas markets where more gluhwein was consumed!  Along with other deliciousness.

Mandi was hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, so Saturday morning she took me on a tour of some absolutely charming houses as we picked up the last few ingredients needed for dinner.  We cooked and decorated and before you knew it, it was time for Thanksgiving dinner.  Dinner was super fun and delicious!  And it was so great to see where Mandi lives and catch up.

My flight home was way too early Sunday morning.  I had opted to pay for economy plus (it was an extra $100 or so) for the extra leg room.  I do have to say for that long of a flight, it was worth it.  I didn’t feel nearly as cramped and I was very happy to be able to stretch my legs out.

And there you have it – what I did over Thanksgiving break.   

Posted in Bratislava, Bremen, Christmas Markets, Luxembourg, Metz, Trip Report, Vienna | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

2016 Wine & Dine Half

Last year’s Wine & Dine as an experience to say the least with the delayed start due to storms.  As I crossed the finish line I debated a re-do but was on the fence.  I am not a late night race person.  Well I’m actually not a late night person in general.  Vegas RnR I don’t mind since it starts more in the afternoon.

But a few things happened along the way.  First, it became a morning race!  Yahoo!  I realize that what made Wine & Dine unique was the nighttime aspect, but again, it really wasn’t for me.  And second, my Disney BFF Michelle’s husband Jason wanted to run it (it was his first half).  A chance to hang out with my BFF at Disney?  Yes, please!

As many times as I say I am done with challenges, I found myself signing up for Lumiere’s challenge – it was Lumiere!  I wasn’t too creative with my costumes either – recycling my Belle costume from Paris, and my Daisy costume from last year’s Wine & Dine.  Costume might be too strong of a word.  Its more of a hint of the character, rather than an elaborate costume.



Sparkle Athletic Booth is always a must-do!


I won’t bore you too much with details of the 10K course, since it is the same as the Princess course although the end was slightly different, in that we re-entered Epcot by Canada (I think?) before finishing.  And to say I found Abby!  Best part of Disney races are catching up with friends!



Running with Abby is my favorite!






I was excited for the half course, as it would be different than Princess.  They did have to modify it due to the construction at Hollywood however.  I met up with Jason and we met Mickey & Minnie while waiting.  I also ran into Kellie!



Almost go time


I loved the Animal Kingdom part of the course!  Which sadly was over before you knew it and then it was roads.  But it was different roads!



Obligatory Mile 7 pic


They had fun characters out.  I didn’t wait for any as the lines were super long.  Someday I’ll be fast enough to wait in short lines!  I did catch up with Kellie & her crew and ran with them for a bit.





The course caught back up to the Princess course as the sun started to come out.  The last several miles were brutal with the sun.

I found a short character line with Clarabelle & Horace as we were entering Epcot.




And before you know it, I was across the finish line with a new Disney PR of 2:58:42!  Granted, when you only make a few photo stops, it helps with the race time! 🙂



My new pretties!



Best race crew!!! 



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2016 Halloweenathon 10K

In continuing with my pattern of 6 miles followed by a half, I signed up for the 10K portion of the Halloweenathon (they also offered a 5K as well as a 15K option).  It was not super far from my house, and in an area I hadn’t previously been too.  There were options for activities along the course if you so chose to participate.


Ready to go

The race took place at a golf club with the course following the cart paths.  Once around for the 5K, twice for the 10K and three times for the 15K.  Being on a golf course meant flat with some hills thrown in for fun (there was only one short but steep hill, the rest were more rolling).

Since my training had taken a nose dive, and this was actually a training race, I wasn’t expecting much.  Especially when my iPod broke that morning and I was to have no music, and would be faced with listening to the sounds around me.  (I am not one who can easily run without music – I need the motivation and more importantly, the distraction).

The race started late as they had done the kids run first and there were still kids finishing.  But the announcer did make the comment that they would rearrange the schedule next time to make sure this didn’t happen again.

Because the course was on golf paths, they let us go in waves to help with the congestion.  I forgot to turn on my watch and so ran a little bit longer than normal at the beginning before settling into my intervals.

I finished the first lap and started on the second.  Because I had forgotten to start my watch, I really didn’t have a good sense of where I was time wise.  I was feeling pretty good, however.  Which I was slightly surprised at with the lack of music.  It was definitely a nice change of pace, but probably not something I will do all the time.

The second lap was definitely much less congested.  I worried slightly about being last (even with 15Kers) but the beginning part of the course allowed me to see there were a few people behind me.  It wasn’t before long I began to catch up to the back of the pack 5Kers.

Closer and closer the finish line loomed until I was across!  With a time of 1:15:40!  Which is just off my current PR of 1:14:22.  I think that might be the next PR I focus on breaking!


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2016 Run Like Hell Half

Going into Paris, I knew I had Portland (Half) Marathon and Wine & Dine on the horizon, equating to 3 half marathons in 7 weeks.  But the more important question was how to stay somewhat “trained” without getting completely burned out?  I looked at the calendar and realized I had a week in between Paris & Portland and decided to do approx. 6 miles for my in between week.  There was a bigger break between Portland and Wine & Dine which of course led to decisions.  In the end I decided to keep up the pattern of a half followed by 6 ish miles.  Because I’m crazy.  Yes I admit it.  But with the weather turning, sometimes a race is what I need to keep me motivated.  Which is how I ended up switching my registration from a 10K to the half for the Run Like Hell.

You have to love a race where the description is “the course is mostly uphill until just past mile 3”.  Uh, what have I gotten myself into?  It was the same horrible hills as the Shamrock 15K.  As promised, we literally started on an uphill.  There were a few flats thrown for fun, but it was mostly uphill.  And when I say uphill, I mean UP A GIANT HILL!!!  I struggled to keep my intervals, and cut them to :30/:30 on the steeper portions and watched person after person pass me.  Including the 13:00 minute pacers.  Now, a few months ago I would have expected that as I had lost a lot of speed (for me), but coming off my surprise PR and my fastest Disney race ever, I didn’t expect them to pass me so early.  My thoughts and attitude started turning super negative.  I tried to shut down those thoughts and just concentrate on one foot after the other.  I caught back up to the 13:00 minute pacers right around mile 3.  This was where I expected the course to flatten out.  When it didn’t I about cried.  I had forgotten the description said it would flatten out just past mile 3!  That last stretch of uphill was something else.  Finally I reached the pinnacle and began my descent, catching and passing several runners, some of whom I played leap-frog with for a while before leaving them behind.

In some ways the downhills are worse than the uphills!  I started doubling my running intervals, mainly to take advantage of gravity.  But also because I felt like I needed to catch up on speed.  The time limit for this race was 3:15 – a little too tight for my liking.  I want/need more cushion.  I was worried but yet I wasn’t super worried.

It started to flatten back out between mile 5 and 6 and then we were back on Naito Parkway, very familiar territory.  We were now on the 10K course, sort of.  Down Naito, before turning towards Chinatown and then heading towards the Pearl District.  After leaving Naito, you finally could see finishers on their way back.  So many costumes!!

We continued on into what I would call the more industrial area of Northwest Portland, with a lot of zig zags.  I passed the 10K turnaround sign, but still had to keep going.  Boo!  It was a slight downhill to the half turnaround (and mile 10), which meant a gigantically huge uphill after the turnaround.  (I never EVER exaggerate, ever.)

My favorite part of an out and back course is always after the turn around and seeing that I am not the last person.  Definitely one of the last, but not the last.  I keep trucking along.  I really wanted to stop doing intervals but I knew that was asking for trouble and so kept them up, even if it was hard to differentiate between the walk and the run interval.

The race ended on an uphill.  Seriously?  And to add insult to injury, they were starting to take down the water / snack table after the finish line.  Yes I’m slow, but I finished in plenty of time!  Speaking of time, even with the hills, I finished in 2:48:16!!  I really want to run another sub 2:45 to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke.  Maybe next time.

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