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Running Archive



August 2016



I Used To Run Half Marathons?

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This morning I ran my first race – a 10K – in four years.

I used to run a lot. Starting in late 2008 I began training for half marathons with some friends. I wasn’t a runner, but my friends convinced me that with training, anyone could run 13.1 miles. I mean, I wasn’t going to WIN any half marathons, but I could train myself to finish one.

My first race was a 10K in the middle of training for that first half marathon. If I’m recalling correctly, it was in October, and I finished right around an hour. That was followed by a drizzly Long Island half, followed by one in Brooklyn that ended on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

I’ve run the NYC half (in damn near 80 degrees – never again), the Royal Parks half (about a week after moving to London), the Birmingham (England) half, the Vancouver half (where I set a personal best and finished under 2 hours!) and two in Seattle (the Seattle half the day after Thanksgiving, and the Rock and Roll half the day a good friend had her baby).

I also ran a half marathon in Paris, which was freaking amazing. Seriously, running past the Bastille, and ending in a gorgeous park? Amazing. But it also had it’s challenges, and that one toenail hasn’t really ever properly recovered.

The only time Austin and I have raced together was at what I think was my last half marathon, in Portland. Austin had some training issues due to injury, and switched to the 10K last minute. During the race his knee really acted up, and although he did manage to finish, it wasn’t what you’d call fun. Since then, injuries – and life – have kept me from pursuing another half.

Today we got up at 6, took the bus to Lake Union, and joined a couple thousand folks for a 10K run/walk. It’s a gorgeous route, circling the Lake and ending at the same start. I didn’t feel any pressure to do anything other than have fun – I’ve been training for three months, so I knew I could finish. And in the end, I did. At just over 1:05, Austin and I ended up crossing the finish together, which was pretty sweet. He’s got a cold though, so who knows if that will ever happen again.

But oof, was I tired. I mean, I know I have been training, but the longest run I’ve done in years is 7 miles. When I passed the 4 mile marker today, all I could think was “I used to run races with NINE MORE MILES at this point?!” That just seems absurd right now.

I don’t know if I’ll run another half marathon. Maybe. But I think these 10Ks are definitely fun ways to see different parts of the Sound.

Next up – Beat the Blerg, a 10K in Carnation that includes cake at each aid station. Yes, you read that right. Cake.



May 2011



A Milestone

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(I know there’s a lot going on internationally these days, and at some point I’ll comment on that. My mind is still trying to process it all, so instead I thought I’d post on something a little lighter in the meantime.)

I’ve had a goal for awhile now. Over the past two years I’ve run seven half marathons. My first time was 2:09, and subsequent races have been between 2:05 and (during the summer in NYC) 2:26. I’ve gotten my training times down to sub-9 miles only to come down with a cold and have a setback. But I had hopes for this next race.

This past weekend we went up to Vancouver for the half marathon. My times leading up to this race led me to believe I could do it; I ran 12-mile training runs on pace to finish a half at 1:58 or 1:59. I was feeling really, really good. 

But as the race approached my knees started to hurt. As in, they hurt even when I was just sitting or walking. I even managed to give myself a blister walking around town the day before the race. I wasn’t trying to psych myself out, but I realized that it was possible it wasn’t going to happen this time, and I shouldn’t push myself to the point of injury just to break this one barrier.

On Sunday morning, after an evening of very yummy carbohydrates and a good night of sleep, I got up, got ready and headed down to the start line. It was sunny and crisp and completely clear. I started at a good pace and just felt good. The course was well supported, with water and gatorade every kilometer or so. There were people cheering us on all along the city street part of the race, and the “go Ashley!” cheers I got (thanks to the race organizers putting names on our bibs) really helped motivate me and keep me going. I probably also got a boost from listening to the “Sex and Other Human Activities” podcast, which is hilarious and not at all appropriate for those with innocent sensibilities. It’s hard to focus on being tired when you’re laughing. It may use up a little more energy, but it certainly kept me going mentally, especially as I was heading up the steep hill at mile 8 in Stanley Park.

With about three miles to go on the course I realized I could really do it this time. I would have to really slow down to almost a walk to not do it. At mile 12 I switched from podcasts to music, and with a little help from Outkast’s Hey Ya and Beyonce’s Crazy, I did it. 1:55:20 after starting the race, I crossed the finish line. That moment was – well, a it was honestly a little overwhelming. I have been working hard and training in horrible weather. I’ve gotten up at 4:45 to run, and I’ve run between evening appointments. There’s something pretty amazing about the feeling I got when I realized that I actually could do something like that if I put my mind and energy to it. And today, when I started my five-mile run as I continue training for my next half marathon at the end of June even though all I wanted to do was lay on my couch and watch something on Netflix, I reminded myself that I’ve done it once and I can do it again.

To cap it all off, last night, I was treated to a surprise deep tissue massage at a wonderful spa, followed by a yummy homemade dinner, all courtesy of my favorite video game programmer. I’m a very, very lucky lady these days, and whenever work gets overwhelming, or I feel stressed, I try to remind myself of that.



September 2010



How bummed are they?

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Bristol Half Marathon runners ‘not timed’

People running in half  marathon - Graham Bloomfield More than 11,000 people took part in the race

About 900 runners in the Bristol Half Marathon did not get an official timing record after microchips they were wearing fell off.

The race started and finished at the Harbourside earlier.

An event spokeswoman said was thought the “champion chips” could have fallen off due to wet weather.

She said organisers would check video pictures taken at the start and end, and give those affected their times as soon as possible.

Some of the elite runners also lost their chips, she added, but their times were being measured by stop watch.

Organisers said 16,400 people signed up for the race, but 11,166 had started it.

Two people were taken to hospital, with one into intensive care and the other under observation, the spokeswoman said.

She added another 40 people were treated for minor injuries.

The 13.1 mile (21.1km) race was organised by Bristol City Council, which apologised for the problems.

The spokeswoman said runners had been recommended to attach the chip, which comes with an adhesive strip, by weaving it through their shoe lace to ensure it was secure.

People running in half  marathon - Graham Bloomfield The event took runners along the Portway and through the Avon Gorge

She said: “Unfortunately a number of runners lost their championship chips during the race and were unable to get an official race time.

“We are looking into why this happened and believe it could have been due to the wet weather conditions.

“We apologise to all the runners involved. We know how hard they’ve worked.

“We have successfully used championship chips for three years in both the 10k and the half [marathon], and they have been used in major road races for over five years.

“But we are not aware of anything happening like this before.”

The route took participants, including wheelchair racers and walkers, along the Portway, through the Avon Gorge, and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge.




August 2010



Missed Connection

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When I would go running in London I figured I was taking my life in my hands. I don’t think pedestrians ever have the right of way there; even if the light were green, I was in the crosswalk, and was using a walker or a wheelchair, I’m pretty sure I’d be at fault if a car ran me over. Since I was a couple of miles from the nearest park when I lived there, on my short run days I’d run along the street, and knew I had to pay attention or risk permanent disability (although at least the hospital bill would be covered by NHS).

But now I’m in Seattle. I still pay attention and run with the knowledge that drivers may not be paying attention to pedestrians, but it’s Seattle. People don’t really honk unless they are actually preventing an accident. I feel that if someone were to walk into traffic and set up a lawn chair in the middle , cars would just drive around them, and possibly shake their head a bit.

This morning I went for a run. It was (and still is, actually) raining fairly hard, so I was being extra cautious. Plus, in the back of my mind is the fact that today is my last day of health insurance coverage under the horrible GHI, which costs me over $400/month. Starting at midnight I am covered by a new, better, health care company, and I’d rather not need to put in a claim with that wretched GHI if I can avoid it.

At an intersection near the end of my run (complete with signals and a crosswalk) I waited for it to turn green and then started running. A car turning left must have been focused on the oncoming traffic and trying to beat a car, because it turned into me. As in, I had to actually jump out of the way, and even then my arm still made contact with the side of the car, and it missed my foot by about an inch. The car kept going, although about ten feet away the driver slowed a bit for a second – I’m assuming the driver was checking the rear-view mirror to make sure I wasn’t lying in the street.

The silver lining? I was so pissed that I sprinted the last half mile of my run.



July 2010



Fourth of July in England

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Yes, they have 4th of July here. Of course, to them it’s simply the day between the 3rd and 5th of July.

Friday Kate, Richard and I headed up to Birmingham for a fun summer weekend. Friday was fairly lazy, with the exception of preparations for the next day’s garden party. This included a very taxing five minutes making brownies from a box.

Saturday morning Richard and I went over to the start area for the half-marathon. It is run all along the canals from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, so the start was staggered, with groups starting according to expected finish time, and crossing the start mats one at a time. It was interesting to run that way – only the occasional person passing me, otherwise nothing but canal stretching out ahead and behind. The sun was intense, and it was hotter than I would have liked, but I finished and enjoyed myself.

After freshening up we were joined back at the house by some of Janet’s friends for a 4th of July garden party. It was nice to still get hot dogs and potato salad even though I am 7,000 miles from home, but I do I think I’ll be including Pimm’s in all my future 4th of July celebrations. It’s so refreshing and so tasty. Janet was kind and surprised Kate and me (the only ones from the states there) with a lovely cake that had a flag on top of it. 
Yesterday we enjoyed picking up the kracken (Holly monster) from puppy camp and went for a nice walk that gave us some excellent views of the area. There was also a carnival on the high street (USA-themed!), and I managed to scare myself silly by going on a terrifying carnival ride. It was fantastic.
The weather here has continued to be nice – warm but not hot, cloudy but with some sun. I feel for my friends back on the east coast – I can’t bear to think of being in that ridiculous heat all week.

Tomorrow Michelle arrives, so it’s time to explore some more of this fantastic city before I head home to Seattle next month.



June 2010



Tuesday Two-a-Days

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Even though I run half-marathons (and am basically always training for the next one – Birmingham in July! Seattle in November!) – I am not in excellent shape. Being a grad student lends itself nicely to a lot of sitting – sitting in bars, sitting in cafes, sitting in study groups – and with all that sitting, at least in my case, comes a lot of eating. And so to combat that effects of mindlessly munching while trying to nail down the nuances of Kant’s Formula of Humanity, I have started attending once-weekly boot camp. 

That’s right. On Tuesday mornings I do my regular training run (between three and five miles depending on the week), and then at six thirty in the evening I head over to nearby park and get my ass handed to me by a member of the British Army. It’s really hard and really fun. The guys who run it break us into groups by fitness level (I’m a red, if I were in better shape I’d be a yellow, and if I were Paula Radcliff I’d be a green) and push us. There is a lot of running, a lot of squatting, loads of push-ups (my goal is be doing them without my knees on the ground by July), and tons of sit ups. My first week we ended class carrying each other, literally, while running. This week it was raining the entire time, so each time I laid down to do sit ups, my back got muddy. When I had to put my knees down for the dozens of push-ups, they got soaked. It was AWESOME.

The instructors are really nice, and joke around with us, but they push us and punish us as warranted. Last week, someone didn’t close up their water tightly, so it drenched the instructor’s bag. 10 extra sit ups for us. This week someone (twice) was standing around instead of jogging in place (we have to ALWAYS be jogging in place if we aren’t running or doing exercises), and we had to do push-ups. But if someone is struggling, everyone cheers them on, and the instructors adjust if a person is being pushed too far outside of what they can do at the moment. Last week I was a bit light headed after one exercise, so he had me stop for a bit and get right. It’s the perfect balance, for me, of motivation and understanding.

I’d love to go twice a week, but the Thursday class is too close to my long training runs to risk being super sore. However, after the Birmingham half I might take the running down a notch and bump up the boot camp because it is fantastic.



March 2010



Une Américaine à Paris

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In the past 11 months I’ve run five half marathons. My times have ranged from painful (2:26 in the heat and humidity of NYC in August) to not so bad (2:05 on an overcast fall day in London), but each time there have been some real highs and some annoying lows. In the first race, it was the combination of my iPod shuffle freezing up at the moment my hips were trying to convince me to just lay down under a tree for a minute that brought me down, but the sight of that first finish line that brought my spirits through the roof. In my second race, the annoyance of the NYC Road Runners volunteers disappearing after mile nine (leaving me with no hydration for the final four miles) itself disappeared as I ran along the Coney Island boardwalk.

The race this weekend was similarly both incredible and disappointing. 

Friday Becky and I arrived in Paris in the evening. Our hotel was centrally located, and perfect for what we needed. We wandered over to a restaurant she loved (she had lived and studied in Paris before) and ate some excellent French food. Escargot really is super yummy.

Saturday we made our way to the park to pick up our race numbers and chips, and then wandered around, eventually settling into the park across from the Louvre with baguette sandwiches, soaking up the sun (it was FREEZING but still bright and sunny). Paris feels like a dream whenever I’m there. I love it.

Saturday night we met up with one of Becky’s friends, who was also going to run the next day, near the Eiffel Tower, for some Italian food. We were going to go up, but the wait was too long.

Sunday was actually freezing. Not just “oooh, it’s chilly out” cold, but COLD. My hands were numb for awhile once the race started. The organization for 27,000 people was not great at the beginning. Near the bag drop they had five toilets. At the Royal Parks Half marathon, they had about 25. We were able to use the restrooms and make it to the start with about 10 minutes to spare, but I know loads of people either gave up or started late.

The course was amazing. Running down towards the monument to the Bastille, with people cheering us on in French, was phenomenal. It was sunny, the Seine was sparkling, and I felt really good. The refreshments every 5 km were great – fresh orange slices (although the peels make for one hell of a race hazard), sugar cubes, bottles of water – and the backups at them were minimal. I was on pace to finish around 2:03 as I hit the 15km mark, but as my training this round wasn’t my best, I did lose some steam near the end.

However, after I passed the 20km mark, I sped up. I was excited – while I couldn’t still break 2:10 again, (which was my personally revised goal, after losing three weeks of training in January), I could get close. Everyone was speeding up, as we could see the finish line. So close!

And then we all stopped.

About 50m from the finish, with the clock ticking away, laughing at us, we stopped. You see, they did not organize the finish chute properly. Timing these days is all done by chips that people wear tied to their shoes (or with disposable chips that one need not return). After the race, volunteers cut them off and keep them, as they are just on loan to the racers. That takes some time, so these folks are, in a well-planned race, well out of the way of the finish line. Either off to the side in a completely different area, or far down the chute. Unfortunately, the fact that there were not enough volunteers coupled with them being WAY TOO CLOSE to the finish line, meant there was a huge back up. I felt really bad for the people, like Becky, who literally jumped over fences to run around the crowd, then jumped back in at the finish line to cross it but who didn’t get that feeling of running, full sprint, over the mat and knowing that you did it! I also felt for people who were set to PR and then just had to stop. My final official time was 2:19, but if I’d finished flat-out it would have been around 2:11. That’s so not cool.

Becky and I found each other afterwards and spent the evening moaning about the soreness (I think the cold did not help), raving about how cool the course was, and eating great food.

It was overall a really good experience, and one I’m glad I had, but definitely not something I will do again in Paris, as the organizers really let us down.

The next one is in Birmingham in July. Only 800 people, so I could definitely come in last. Should be fun!

And as a Post Script: This apology made its way to the website today (this is their English translation; I’m sure it flows much better in French):

We kindly ask you to accept our excuses for the inconvenience on the finish area

Dear runners,

On the 18th edition of the Paris Half-Marathon, due to important modifications of course owing to Tramway programs, we liked to change the start and finish areas.

On the start, we organized the zone by allowing more entrances on the left and the right, for more convenience.

On the finish area, we organized a complete change and unfortunately underestimated fluxes, considering the breath of the way.
The timing chip collection and the medal distribution could not be correctly made for many runners whose time of arrival is spread between 1h50 and 2h20. 
We are aware that this is of our whole responsibility and kindly ask you to accept our excuses for this inconvenience.

From today, we analysed this anomaly in term of organisation and we shall make fats decisions which are obvious to avoid that such situation reproduces in future.

Except this problem which certainly is not negligible, we hope that this 18th edition took place in good conditions and that you enjoy the event.

Yours faithfully.

The organisation committee.



May 2009



Brooklyn Half Marathon

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This morning I got myself out of bed a little before six, and headed over to meet Bonnie at the south end of Prospect Park. We stretched out and around 7:45 made out way over to the start. Now, the Nassau County Half Marathon was very well organized, but they weren’t strict on pace. They had signs (5 minute mile, 6, etc.); NYRR (who managed the race today, which is part of the Half Marathon Grand Prix, with one race per borough) also had signs, but they were color coded to your bib (you had to put your pace down when you registered) and you were essentially trapped in your place. 

I crossed the start about 15 minutes after the start gun, and did the two loops inside Prospect Park. It was nice running on my home turf, as I knew what to expect. They had water and Gatorade about every two miles starting at mile three; Nassau was much better supported in that regard. In fact, they had water every mile after mile five, I think, and Gatorade every two. NYRR also had this weird situation where the folks seemed to abandon the fluid stations after mile 8 or so, which meant that people were dipping their own cups into these garbage cans of water and Gatorade. Not so sanitary, so I basically went the last four miles sans water. Ick.

I knew that because it would be so much warmer today that my time would be worse than Nassau’s time. My goal was to be under 2:20; I got in at about 2:18+. So that was good!

The best part was the finish – on the boardwalk at Coney Island! It’s a pretty iconic location, with the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel and the parachute jump tower. I damn near ate it on the uneven boards (and one poor woman behind me did), but I regained my balance and finished strong.

It feels good to have run two half marathons. I know it isn’t a fluke, and I know I can do it in mildly warm weather. The next test? Manhattan in August. Luckily that race starts at 7 . . . 



May 2009



13.1 Miles!

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We left NYC at 5:30 this morning. We got to the location and warmed up. About 6,000 of our closest friends were with us. The course was great, the weather good (cool and misty), and the water stations plentiful.

 I averaged a 9:44 pace, and finished at 2 hours 9 minutes! I beat my goal of 2 hours 10 minutes!

 It was a tough run – pain set in on my left leg at mile 10, but I only stopped to walk once, and I stopped to use ther bathroom.
Good experience. Bring on the May 30 half marathon!



March 2009




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The past few weeks have been a bit blue. Just a week after my last entry, our family friend passed away. It was just a few weeks from diagnosis to death, and that’s so not okay. My father spoke at the memorial, and it was hard to watch. They were such good friends. And my mother had known him since they were children (his mother and her mother were in church daycare together as babies in the 20s!). All of our summers involved him and his families, and I know that my parents planned for the rest of their summers to involve them as well. His wife will still be a part of their lives, and hopefully she knows how much we all care for her, and their children (one of whom used to stay with me and my sister when our folks went out of town). It’s one of the hardest passings I’ve experienced. It’s weird and really sad.

The training for the half marathon is going quite well. I’ve not missed a day of training, and feel like my times are good for what I’m looking to accomplish. And I’m getting close to my fundraising goal. However, my nutrition isn’t anywhere close to where it should be. I’m just not eating as well as I should be. I’ve got two weeks to go, and am seeing a sports nutritionist on Monday. Hopefully she can help with these last two weeks, but also for the training for the marathon. A couple of us have signed up for the Philadelphia marathon in November, so training will start in July. 

I’ve been having successes at work – I’m enjoying it, but still find myself distracted. Distracted by the idea of living in the UK, or by finding work back in Seattle. I love NYC, and Seattle, and feel as though I’ll probably spend most of my life missing one place or another, which just won’t due. I think a refocus on trying harder to enjoy where I am is in order.

The best thing (as always) are my friends. Herman and Kathleen are so dear, and I see them most weekends, sometimes multiple times. We just have fun together, and I appreciate that I don’t have to worry about being a third wheel. And throughout this past month, which overall has felt more crappy than good (while acknowledging that even my ‘crappy’ is still pretty darn lucky, as I still have a home, a job, a great family and awesome friends), my friends have put up with more moping and whining than they should have to. Hopefully whether things are getting better or not will be irrelevant; it’s my attitude and perspective that needs the adjustment, and I’m working on it.

To that end, I’ve read a couple of good books on Buddhism – one by the Dali Lama. Very interesting, and a good way to look at the world, and our roles in it.

Unrelated – has anyone seen “The Tudors”? I don’t get Showtime, so I’m only about mid-way through season one (and please don’t tell me how it works out!). I love it. Luckily my understanding of English history is woefully inadequate (yay California public schools and a college major focused on the US), so much of it is new to me. I don’t even remember how the whole Katherine of Aragon thing turns out, so I am enthralled. Good diversion on a Sunday afternoon!