Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Presidio 10 - 4/18/10

I was afraid to take my socks off after my soccer game on Saturday. My feet were beginning to heal up nicely, but with every quick change of direction I made, I could feel the damage I was doing. The socks come off and sure enough I was right back were I started just a few short weeks earlier. Unfortunately, all the blister pads and band-aids I used did no good since they just slipped off with all the movement. Here I go again, just in time for a race the next morning. I was not happy at all.

I let my feet stay out in the open the rest of the night in hopes of drying them out. It helped, but not much. After another painful night of throbbing feet, I woke up and tried to decide what to do. The night before I'd gone to the store and bought everything I could possibly need to protect my feet. I remember my friend John telling me before the last race to use duct tape. I thought he was kidding, turns out he wasn't, so I bought some of that too. After some research on the internet I went to work again. I layered blister pads and band-aids over the problem areas, and then wrapped giant pieces of duct tape around my feet, toes, and heels. They felt secure and I was positive everything was going to stay in place, which is more then I could say without the duct tape.

Today's race was the Presidio 10. You can choose between running a 10k or a 10 mile race. I'd done it last year with Emily and thought it was a beautifully scenic course, so I knew it was a must do again. I'd sent out an email to the usual suspects a few months prior trying to garner some interest in this race, but didn't know if anyone would actually run it. Turns out, Geri and Gil both beat me to registration. When I found that out, I knew I had to get it together and register myself. I was thrilled to have the company. I'd gone down to Sports Basement in the Presidio the day before and picked up all of our bibs. Turns out if you registered early enough you got your name printed on your bib. Apparently, I was the only one out of the three that registered too late :(

I picked up Geri and Gil and headed off to the Presidio to make it in time for my 8a start. The sun was already out and the sky was clear, and it was obvious it was going to be a gorgeous day. Perfect for some of the views we were going to get on the course. I dropped off my stuff at the sweat check, said good bye and good luck to Geri and Gil who were doing the 10k, and joined the rest of the 10 mile runners. Before the race kicked off, the national anthem was sung, but the majority of runners were trying to hold back laughter because they forgot to turn the back up speakers off which were blaring some hip hop song that I can't seem to remember right now. It was somewhere around "bombs bursting in air" that they finally realized it and turned it off. Soon after, all 717 of us were off.

Immediately I realized this course had way more uphill then I'd remembered from the previous year. I was hoping that the 10k followed a different route since I recall telling Geri that the course was mostly flat and didn't want to get in trouble. So up I went with the rest of the runners for the what was at least the first 2.5 miles of the course (some parts being quite steep), trying not to look like I was sucking wind too bad. Luckily for me there were plenty of people around me breathing WAY heavier then I was. For not doing much hill training, I was quite pleased with how well I survived it and how quickly I recovered. This first part of the race was through a nicely wooded and therefore shady part of the Presidio. I almost forgot I was in the city.

We ran on a dirt trail, which then led up some steps where a huge bottleneck occurred. Everyone basically had to stop and wait for their turn to funnel up the steps at a very slow walk. This took at least a few minutes off my time. There was one overweight guy who was shoving his way up the stairs, literally pushing runners aside. Many people were yelling at him, asking where he really thought he was going considering the wall of people in front of him. His response, "I'm just trying to run the race". Usually the attitude amongst runners is always so positive, it's a shame there's people like this guy that don't go along with the spirit of the race, especially when everyone is stopped waiting to go themselves. Eventually we all made it to the top and were spit out along a ridge on the coast with breathtaking views of Marin, the water, and the bridge.

We then made it to the Golden Gate bridge and ran along the walkway. By this time we were almost 4 miles in so the field was spread out enough to allow runners ample space to navigate around each other if need be. I'd heard from Geri and Gil this was not necessarily the case with the 10k since they headed to the bridge straight from the start. Soon after we hit the bridge, I passed the pushy guy from the stairs who looked like he was one or two steps away from walking. Not that I find anything wrong with walking (I've done it in previous races myself), but come on, did you really need to push everyone out of your way when that's the pace you're semi-running at when you're not even half way into the course?! Pretty ridiculous.

As we approached the end of the Golden Gate, we took the steps that went underneath the bridge and then back up the other side. More stairs. Argh, my feet did not like them at all, but the duct tape seemed to be doing it's job of keeping everything in place. As we headed back towards the city, I was reminded again of why I love San Francisco. The views of downtown, the bay, the sailboats below, and Alcatraz were all so beautiful, and it was oddly peaceful despite the cars rushing by. As we got off the bridge my feet were killing me, and then we hit a fairly steep downhill which just made it that much worse. I wasn't sure how much more they could take, but at this point it was only a few miles to the finish.

We ran along the coast into Crissy field. At one point I looked on the beach and wanted nothing more then to take my shoes off and go sit in the sand. About this time I could tell that the duct tape was cutting into the side of my left foot. I knew I needed to fix it, so I sat down really quickly, took off my shoe and rolled the duct tape slightly back and then took off again. It did the trick. Right before the turn off for the 10k finish line, I saw Jon and John, Geri's and Gil's boyfriends, on the grass with the rest of the spectators. Always fun to see people you know cheering you on.

Only one mile left, thank goodness. As we approached the final stretch to the finish line there was a girl who was waiting to run her friend in who was a few steps behind me. Her friend asked, "so how did you do?", and the girl responded, "I won.". I turned around and had to get some clarification from her. Sure enough, she was the women's first place finisher in the 10 mile race by nearly 6 minutes. As they passed me and headed towards the finish I watched her run. She looked like she was barely running, while I felt like I was sprinting. I can only imagine how magnificent her stride must be when she's running at her usual 6 minute a mile pace. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to win a race.

I saw the big red finish line in the distance and sprinted in. My feet could finally take a break. My GPS time for 10 miles was 1:29:10, and my chip time for the course was 1:29:50. Just squeaked in at under 1:30. I ended up finishing in the top 32%. I was not all together happy with that, but given the sorry state of my feet and all the bottlenecks on the course, I was happy just to be done. I chugged some water, grabbed my lululemon goody bag and finishers t-shirt, and headed over to the booze tent to grab a free beer before the line piled up. I then hobbled over to where Jon and John were to see if I made it in time to cheer in Geri and Gil. Not two minutes after getting there, Geri and Gil came cruising by looking fantastic. I was so happy to see the big smiles on their faces because I knew that meant they were enjoying themselves.

We all met up for the post race party and sat on the grass to swap stories. Munching on one of the free breakfast burritos from Asqew Grill, and polishing off my beer in the sun, I was so happy to have them all there to enjoy the race with. It's for reasons like this that I pester all my friends to run races with me! They did a great job.

I finally took off my shoes and peeled off the duct tape. Not pretty. Thankfully I remembered to bring flip flops. Shortly after, we all decided to head to La Terrasse for some drinks and brunch when we noticed the beer and bloody mary line was ridiculously long. After some food and another drink while sitting on the patio it was time to head home, full and very satisfied!

You really can't go wrong running this race. It's in a great scenic setting and the free bloody mary's, beers, hot pancakes and breakfast burritos just make it all that much better!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon - 3/28/10

The Napa Valley Marathon left me with a lot of hot spots on the bottom of my feet, and my soccer game on Saturday before this race completely tore them apart. I was literally awake for 2 hours that night in tears because of my throbbing feet. I woke up the next morning wondering how I was ever going to run this race. I could barely walk to the bathroom to dig up whatever blister pads and band-aids I had lying around the house. I considered just saying forget it and going back to bed, however I really didn't want to pass up the opportunity to be part of the inaugural Oakland Running Festival. I'd gone to the expo the day before at the Oakland Marriott City Center to pick up my packet and had a feeling this was going to be something I wouldn't want to miss.

That morning I went to work on my feet to give them any additional source of protection I could. I settled on 6 blister pads and 3 band-aids to cover the rips on the bottom of my feet. I put my socks and shoes on and ran in place for awhile to see if this was going to be doable. Not ideal, but I decided to go for it anyway. As I walked to catch the 8:07a BART train, the first of the morning which would get me there in time for the 9a start, I knew this was going to be a painful race. I told myself that if it was too much, I could always just stop. No pressure.

When I arrived at City Center, the marathon runners had already departed and the half marathoners were busy tasting samples of cliff bars, checking in their sweat bags, and taking a look around at all the tents that were already set up. As I was following the arrows on the ground that directed me to the sweat check tents, it dawned on me that I forgot my GPS runners watch. I freaked out for a moment. It's become such an important part of my running. I knew there would be mile markers on the course, but how was I going to know what my pace was? After some thinking, I realized that not having it was probably a good thing. Having just run a full marathon 3 weeks prior, I was by no means out to set a PR. In fact, I really didn't care how fast or slow I ran it at all. I just wanted to use it to keep my mileage up and enjoy a new race.

After I checked in my bag, grabbed a sample cliff bar, powered down a strawberry-banana GU and some last minute water, I headed to the start area to join the 3,000 other half marathoners. I must admit, I had no idea what to expect out of this Oakland race, but was anxious to see what the course held.

The route took us all over and did a great job of really showing off the different parts of the city. Unlike the full marathon, the half was flat, with the exception of one small killer hill right at the end. We started off on Broadway next to City Hall and ran essentially clockwise around the city. We ran past the Paramount theatre, then down Martin Luther King Jr. Way where we turned to head through Chinatown. After running around Laney College, we ran along the Oakland waterfront, passing Jack London Square, and heading towards West Oakland where we turned on Mandela Parkway. From there we headed southeast to do almost a full lap around Lake Merritt before heading back downtown for the finish on Broadway at Frank Ogawa Plaza near the start.

All along the course there was so much entertainment. I've never run a race with so many spectators of all walks of life out there to support people they didn't even know. From business owners out in front of their shops, to residents hanging out their apartment windows, firemen outside their stations, and families manning their own fruit stands for the runners, it was truly amazing. The musicians were out too, there was a church gospel choir singing, bands and solo artists playing everything from folk to hip hop, and even a group playing kettle drums. We ran through a fire lit arch, and were even cheered on by the Raiderettes and Raider Nation, as well as a big group of A's fans. Even the police men who were diverting traffic were incredibly encouraging despite taking some flak from motorists who most likely weren't to happy about the delays. It seemed that around every turn there was another surprise that kept me completely distracted from my foot pain which I didn't even seem to notice.

From a spectator perspective, this was the best race I've ever run. The sense of community and pride from Oakland residents was incredible. Not only were people cheering for the runners with the usual "You guys are doing great!", "Looking Good!", but a lot of people were out there with cheers of "Go Oakland!" I've grown up in the Bay Area and must say, this race has started to change my opinion of Oakland and the potential it has when the city pulls together.

Along the route, I had no idea what my pace was and I really wasn't paying much attention to it. I just ran at what felt comfortable. When I came sprinting to the finish line, I saw the time clock, I knew this wasn't my official chip time, but it would be close. I was going to finish with a sub-2:00 time. My official chip time was 1:58:59. I'd finished within the top 18% of my division. For going out there just to enjoy the race, I was more then pleased with my time.

After the race, I stuck around awhile to enjoy the beautiful weather and the post-race festivities. Each runner had two free beer coupons on their bibs, so I claimed one of mine, walked around for a bit to see what was going on at each of the tents, ate some oranges, and then sat down on the grass to listen to the band while I finished off my beer. Looking around at everyone wearing their finishers medals and enjoying the day, it was evident what a success the day was. I'd later learned that the 2-day long Inaugural Oakland Running Festival brought in $1.95 million for the city of Oakland. Not only did it give Oakland something to be proud of, but it changed many peoples vision of the city, something it desperately needed.

I'm so glad I made the decision to run, I can't speak highly enough about this race, and I can't wait to return next year and be a part of it all over again.




Saturday, April 17, 2010

Napa Valley Marathon - 3/7/10

I trained for 4 months for this race. It was going to be my first marathon. I'd planned to run the San Francisco Marathon in 2009, however a soccer injury 2/3rds of the way through my training prevented me from running it. However, when it came to deciding whether or not to play in my first soccer game of the season the day before the race, it was still a tough decision. Thankfully my sensible side won out and I opted not to risk injury or the sore muscles. If anything were to happen, I would never have forgiven myself, so instead I cheered my team on from the sidelines that Saturday.

Soon after the game, I packed up everything I knew I would need for the race and more. Running clothes. check. Running shoes. check. GPS watch. check. Lots of GU. check. Wristband. check. Body Glide. check. Confident I had everything I needed to run 26.2 miles, Julienne and I set off for Napa. On the way, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods to grab something to eat. Knowing I needed to start loading up on carbs, I put together a dream meal that I knew I would never be able to get away with under any other circumstances. Mashed potatoes and Mac and Cheese. Pure heaven.


We arrived just in time to catch the end of the expo. I did a quick look around, bought a few shirts, and picked up my bib and race goodies. I see now why their race swag has received so much praise. An ASICS long sleeve tech shirt, and a really nice Napa Valley marathon runners bag that was filled with samples galore. I began realizing just how much pain I was going to be in if and when I finished this race when I started wading through the samples and noticed the majority of them had to do with muscle recovery and pain relievers.

After a quick pasta dinner from Firewood Cafe, I laid everything out that I needed, and then it was to bed early for me for an early 4:30am wake up time. I surprisingly slept pretty well that night considering the torture I knew I was about to put myself through. I woke up at 4:30am, ate a granola bar, drank a bunch of water, applied the chip timer to my shoe, covered myself in body glide, got some last minute words of encouragement which I desperately needed at the time, and headed off.

As I walked down the hall of the Marriott in Napa, which was the host hotel, I met a women who asked me if I was nervous. I told her that didn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. She responded that it was her 52nd marathon and she still gets nervous before every one. Oddly, that calmed my nerves a bit. If this lady can run 52 of them, I can surely run one, right?

I boarded the bus that was shuttling us all to the start in Calistoga. It was pitch black outside. People were drinking coffee which I thought was a bit bizarre. I could barely stomach anything let alone coffee. There was one point when we were driving that it dawned on me, we'd been on the bus for at least 35 minutes, we still weren't at the start, and I had to run all the way back. That kicked my heart rate up a few notches. We finally arrived and there was at least 30 minutes before the start of the race. I stayed on the bus for a bit to stay warm talking to a man from New York. He'd run the NY marathon 3 times, and was going to be doing some business in Southern California so decided to come a bit early and run this race. I said my good-bye to him and headed to the starting area.

I was lucky and was one of the first people to find the porta potties so didn't have to wait in a long line. When I was done I stood off to the side doing some light stretching. I've never been a big stretcher, but felt if there was ever a time to do it, it was now. I was watching all the people around me nervously standing around waiting for the start. Everyone looked like runners with their fancy GPS watches, running visors, hydration belts, compression sleeves, and previous race t-shirts. Some people wore garbage bags with a whole cut out for their heads to stay warm. I dropped my runners bag off at gear check and gathered in front of the start, cold and anxious.

After the national anthem and a few words from CBS weather anchor Roberta Gonzales, my long anticipated journey began and all 1,750 of us set off. From the moment I ran my first half marathon 3 years prior, I knew that one day I would want to try the full. Now I was ready. I did everything I was supposed to do. I would finish this race. I tried to set some tiered goals for myself. My first and only real objective was to finish. The second was to not walk, and the third was to finish in under 4:15.

I fell into a pretty fast pace to start, but I was feeling really good, so I stuck with it. At mile 6 there was a house tucked back in the hills that was blasting Eye of the Tiger over the speakers. As that song always does, it really got me going. I met a women shortly after who taught me a game to play that would keep my mind busy. Work your way through the alphabet finding a word that starts and ends with that letter. I gave it a try. abracadabra, boob, cryptic, dreaded. I think it was at "e" that I decided to abandon the game.

Running down the Silverado Trail, I came upon mile 13 and I knew I was going to be in serious trouble. I'd just finished the first half in about 2 hours, my typical half marathon pace. There was no way I was going to be able to sustain that pace for another 13 miles. I remember thinking at mile 11 that I was going to kill this, that if I could only keep up this pace, I'd come in at a sub-4:00 marathon. I've never been so wrong in my life. By mile 15 my pace dropped to at least a minute a mile slower, and it was only going down. From there until mile 19, I really struggled. I missed the first GU stop on accident and was really low on energy. Over the next few aid stations, I loaded up on oranges. Not only did it help, but it gave me something to do. I kept getting the pulp stuck between my teeth, so I kept myself busy trying to dislodge them.

Finally mile 20 hit. While this is when most people hit the dreaded wall, I'd already hit mine, and now was just thrilled to hit this landmark. Only a 10K left. That's nothing, I've done it a million times. I took in the incredible scenery, the vineyards were beautiful and the weather couldn't have been better with blue skies and a slight breeze. This temporarily helped, but my
legs were burning. They didn't want to go anymore. I was not thrilled, but I had to give them quick walking breaks. Every once in awhile I would allow myself to walk .07 miles to rest them. It actually helped and allowed me to keep going.

I want to say it was at mile 22 or 24 when they had a small band playing and were handing out raspberry sorbet shots. That was quite a treat that I greedily took. It was around that time when I met up with a man who was playing on repeat "I Gotta a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas on speaker from his music player around his arm. I stuck close by him for as long as I could singing it in my head since mp3 players weren't allowed on the course.


Mile 26, finally. I was almost there. We entered into a residential neighborhood, and the spectators were definitely out as we headed towards the finish at Vintage High School. As you passed them, you knew they were cheering for you since the runners were so sparsely spread out. People were yelling that the finish was right around the corner. As is customary with how I end my races, I broke out in a sprint to the finish. Tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn't believe I was finally at the finish. As it turns out, I wasn't as close as I thought, and now I was in a sprint that I knew I couldn't maintain. I slowed the pace down a bit, and crossed the finish line with possibly the biggest smile that has ever crossed my face. My GPS watch clock time was 4:35:38, and my official chip time was 4:36:35. I finished in the top 59% of my age group. Not great, but I'd just finished my first marathon.

After walking around for awhile, I found Julienne. I gave her maybe the sweatiest hug she's ever received. I was incredibly thankful I had her to share the moment with. I couldn't have been happier. After getting my belongings from sweat check and eating some soup, we headed back to the hotel. Luckily she drove, since at that point I could barely walk.

After a shower, answering some congratulatory texts, and making some necessary phone calls, it was time to eat. We headed to Downtown Joe's. The place was packed with marathon finishers and I felt right at home. We ordered a pitcher and met a man who was here to support his wife and friends who flew in to run the race. He was killing time while they all showered. A few beers in and we found ourselves eating and chatting with them all about there experiences. Two of them were 50-staters and this was their California race. I had a good time swapping running stories with them and getting their input on what their favorite marathons were to run. Apparently the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon is a must do.

After consuming a sufficient amount of food and beer, it was time for a nap, followed by more food, and then back to bed early. I was beat. Woke up early and we headed back to the city. I was sore, but nothing that I hadn't felt before. A free massage at work the next day did wonders to help my aching muscles.

Overall, I had a great experience. While I did have to walk for maybe a total of .70 miles, between walking through the aid stations, and the short walking breaks I gave myself, and the fact that I didn't finish in under 4:15, I accomplished my only real objective of finishing a marathon. I couldn't have been prouder. I remember being a little girl and cheering on my parents and aunt as they ran marathons, but I had no grasp of what they were actually accomplishing. Now I do.

I've heard a lot of people say that when they finish running their first marathon, that they can't imagine and don't want to even thinking about running another. Even at mile 23, I knew I would do another one, and soon. I made so many rookie mistakes, namely starting out entirely too fast. I know I have so much room for improvement and I can only get better at this. Next up: Coeur d'Alene Marathon over Memorial Day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon - 2/7/10

This was my 3rd time running the Kaiser half. I'll always look fondly on this race as it was the first long distance race I ever ran. I remember wondering how I was ever going to finish, but I managed to with the support of my sister, my dad, and my aunt who I recruited to run with me. That was in 2007. I took the next year off while I was recovering from hip surgery, but I was back in 2009 and ran it with my friend Emily.

This year I decided to use it as a training run for the Napa Valley Marathon I'd been preparing for. It was perfectly sandwiched between an 18 and 20 mile run which called for a step back week with a long run of 14 miles. Since I'd been putting in a lot of miles, I decided to go for a PR. My previous two half marathons I ran at 2:02, this year I was looking for a sub-2:00 time.

Race morning comes and I wake up early and force myself to eat my usual pre-race meal of toast with peanut butter. Soon after, I'm picked up by fellow runners Gil and Tad and we head out to meet Emily who lives right near the start of the race. We escape having to deal with the crazy parking situation and get to stash the car in her garage. I soon realize in my excitement I forgot my GU. While I've no doubt I could have pushed through the race without it, mentally it didn't sit well with me. Luckily Tad had brought a few extras, and despite the fact that they were probably my least favorite flavors (lime and something else equally as bad), I'd never been so thankful to have them.

After we boarded the bus that dropped us off near that starting line near Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, took last minute trips to the WAY overcrowded porta potties, and dropped off our gear at the sweat checks, we joined the rest of the anxious runners and waited for the start. All I kept thinking was I needed to take this slow and steady, find a good pace, stick with it, and cruise in at under a 2 hour time. Definitely an attainable goal.

And we're off. We say our goodbyes to Gil as she veers off for the 5K, and we weave our way through the crowded start of the race. The more races I do, the more I realize just how crowded this race is with it's sold out 10,000 participants. After running around the panhandle and back into the park I notice we're doing an 8:10 pace. Yes, we've made up the time we lost at the start, but this is not how I planned to run this race. Slightly nervous that I'm not going to be able to sustain the pace and worried that I'll crash and not set the PR I wanted, I mention to Tad what we're running at. He seems unconcerned, and I begin to admit to myself that I'm actually feeling quite comfortable at the speed we're going. My breathing is not labored and I seem to have fallen into a good rhythm, so I decide to go with it.

At mile 7 we hit the beach, and we're faced with the long out and back to Sloat Blvd down the Great Highway. With 2 lanes blocked off from traffic, one lane for the runners headed out, and one lane for the runners headed back towards the park, it gets really crowded again. We lost Emily a ways back, and somewhere near the turn around at Sloat I lost Tad while slurping down gatorade and finishing the last of my GU at an aid stop. I could spot his head bobbing ahead of me, but decided not to waste my energy to try to sprint ahead and catch up, so I stayed a little over a minute behind him for the rest of the race.

Approaching mile 11 I knew the only way that I wasn't going to run a sub-2:00 half was if my legs gave out completely. While my legs were screaming, I knew they'd hold up until the finish. There's some comfort knowing that you're not going to have to sprint the last mile to meet your goal, but it didn't mean I wasn't ready to be done with this race. Turning the corner back into the park, less then a mile to the finish, would have been a much more pleasant experience if it wasn't for the that little hill you have to make it up. As I rounded the last corner I could see the big Finish banner and broke out into a sprint to the finish line. Walking down the finishers chute I immediately saw Gil and Julienne waiting for me, while Tad was off finding some water. Emily followed shortly after with us all cheering her in.

My GPS watch clocked me at 1:54:08 for 13.1 miles, however due to all the weaving we had to do around other runners, the finish line was still at least .15 miles off. My official chip time was 1:55:07. Either way you look at it, I shattered my PR, as did Tad. I finished in the top 25% of my division. I'm convinced I still would have come in with a PR if Tad wasn't running it with me, but it definitely showed me the advantage of running with someone who pushes you maybe more then you set out to do yourself.

Now that the hard part of the day was done, and it was time to bask in our glory. The great thing about this race is it's always held on Super Bowl Sunday, so as has come to be tradition, we walked over to Emily's to enjoy the game (and puppy bowl) with friends. We indulged guilt-free in mounds of tator tots, plenty of beer from Rob's 3-tap kegerator, and kicked back while all of our muscles began to protest any movement at all. It was a good day.





Thursday, April 15, 2010

Introduction

I'm not exactly sure when applying blister pads and band-aids became a part of my daily routine, but they definitely are now. If I could buy blister pads in bulk, I'd do it in a second. I now find the backs of band-aids all over the place. I could swear every time I apply a new one I throw them in the trash, yet there they always are, collecting around the trash, behind the toilet, under the sink, in my soccer bag. I really need to work on this as anyone who knows me, knows I keep a very clean house and it's starting to drive me crazy. It's almost worse then finding those little black balls from turf fields all over the place after soccer practice.

I think it all began shortly after my first marathon in March 2010. Playing soccer evidently does nothing to make the situation on the bottom of my feet any better. Combine that with the fact that I put in 30-40 miles a week and I'm not entirely convinced I'll ever be free of my blister pad and band-aid routine. One can only dream though.

Icing has quickly become another part of my weekly routine. So much so that my sister even bought me a giant 8.5 x 11 ice pack as a birthday gift. Little did she know I already had one, but I was thrilled because I knew it meant with two I'd be able to hit both hips at the same time. These days it's quite common to find me with three ice packs scattered across my body multiple times a week.

You get the idea of why I chose to name my blog "Miles, Blisters, and Ice Packs", so why did the girl who never though she would be into blogging decide to start one of her own? Simple, I needed a place to keep track of my races. I want to remember it all. The races are the prize for all the hours and miles of training that goes into preparing for the big day.

Am I somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I look like I might keel over in some of these race pictures, yes. Do I care if my writing is not that of a professional and you're likely to find grammatical errors, no. These are my experiences, and I ultimately write them for myself.

(This keeps track of my running career from January 2010 forward)