Monday, April 23, 2012

A photo to tide you over....

I got home just over an hour ago, finally, but my body has absolutely no idea what time it is right now - it's exhausted, but it's sunny outside.... Needless to say, a blog post will be forthcoming, but not yet. Until then, please enjoy this photo of me post-finish with BOTH of my medals - the official one from the London Marathon and the one carefully crafted by Cadbury and made of chocolate.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Following Me On Race Day

(Apologies for the radio silence - I didn't bring my computer, so it's been hard to update the blog, but here's the e-mail that I've just sent out via e-mail...if you need my phone number, get in touch.)

Dear Friends,

First of all, let me say a huge, huge thank you to so many of you for sponsoring me and donating in support of Cancer Research UK. It means so much to me and I've been completely blown away by your support, both financial and emotional!

All of the times here are UK time, so for the East Coast, subtract 5 hours and, for the West Coast, subtract 8 hours.

I know many of you have been in touch to see how you can follow me on the big day (let me have a brief EEEEEK in realising that at this time tomorrow I should be either walking from the station to the start line or at the starting area already), so that's what this e-mail is about! In terms of being able to predict what I'm doing, the race starts at 9:45, but I don't expect to be across the line much before 10, at least. My goal is to be on pace for a 4:45-4:55 finish, so there's a good chance that I'll finish somewhere between 2:45 and 3:15pm.

For the vast, vast majority of you who will be following me from your beds somewhere in the United States, or anywhere other than the course, you can track me at You can log in the site from 7am Sunday and my number is 12851. I'm not sure whether it will update every 5km or every mile, but hopefully it will work! There is also be a good chance of updates on Twitter at!/teamrunamok from me, before my phone goes into bag check, or from friends stationed along the route (and you're likely to get responses to questions asked via twitter).

For anyone who's going to be on the route, I am SO EXCITED to see you! Please let me know where you're going to be, either by replying to this or by text (number below) either today or early tomorrow - I've taken the decision to put my phone in bag check and not have it on the course, so I'll be incommunicado for the race itself. But, if you're looking for me, photos of my race outfit are here: However, I've heard that it's easier for runners to see spectators than the other way around, so it'll be good if you let me know where to look out for you! It'll be so encouraging, too, to know who to look forward to seeing!

Finally, if you do want to get in touch, my UK phone number is still XXX. To text from the States, it's XXX. Sadly, my iPhone is Verizon, so I don't get anything sent to my US phone, except iMessages when I'm on a wifi network. I can read e-mail on my very crappy UK phone, but it doesn't have the memory capacity to let me respond to anything - so if you really, really want to get me, send a text! I have really appreciated all the e-mails and notes on Facebook!

24 hours, 40 minutes to the gun!


Monday, April 09, 2012


Today, I was checking the expo page, just to make sure there wasn't some insignificant detail that I'd overlooked the first 100 times I read it and I saw the countdown clock, which, at the time said 12 days, 17 hours. And OMG, my stomach decided to start flipping itself into knots. I cannot believe that in 12 days and a few hours, I'll be lining up at the start line of a MARATHON! Because, even though I know I've put in the training and everyone says to trust the training and I do know I can do this, it doesn't mean that I'm not going to be a complete nervous wreck beforehand! OMG OMG OMG.

My other quick comment today is about how much my friends and family ROCK. I've been completely overwhelmed by people's generosity in donating to Cancer Research! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am going to have SO MUCH fun with the post-race thank you cards!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Ready to Go!

As you probably all know, I'm running the marathon for Cancer Research UK, in memory of my Mom & godsister. It was important to me that I honor them, as well as making sure that I was identifiable as a CRUK runner. Cancer Research was sweet enough to send me a cotton t-shirt, but, if you know anything about running, you'll know that technical, wicking fabrics are the ONLY thing to run in! So, I decided that I would make my own shirt!

I was fairly certain that I wanted to find a nice light teal shirt to match the color of the t-shirt that CRUK sent me. I managed to find one that Nike did, but had to order it when my local running store was out of my size. Luckily, that turned up late last week (along with my marathon day pair of shoes).

My next mission was to have decals made. Yes, I think the word "decal" is funny and am convinced that if I added a few more, I could look like a Nascar driver. (However, I will actually be going slowly enough that they will be readable!) I did some poking around etsy and found that one woman who does great, mostly Disney-related, decals also does custom orders (and luckily, they work on polyester, which is the wicking fabric of choice). Jen at Miss Morgan was SO helpful and SO patient with me and we exchanged quite a few messages back and forth to get everything just right. It was fantastic of her! She mailed the decals out on Thursday and they arrived on Friday (she's also in the Seattle metro area). I had a 2 AM ironing session Friday night and I think my shirt looks awesome.

I've got the Cancer Research logo on the front (and will add my name), the TEB's troops logo on the sleeve (the charity started by my godsister's friends in her honor/memory), and my mom's name on the back.

I put together the entire "race day" outfit yesterday for a trial, 12 mile, run. I can confirm that everything went well and there wasn't even any chaffing!

A few random things:

  • If you enjoyed my post on Kathrine Switzer, she's the interviewee this week (and next week) on Marathon Talk (my other favorite podcast). DEFINITELY worth a listen - I can't wait for next week!
  • Here is a bald eagle from my trip to Tsawwassen, the day after the 30K race. My co-worker had told me that there's a HUGE concentration of them on the peninsula and where to go to watch. He was right! (And the walk was JUST what I needed to shake out my tired legs, even if I was jealous of all the runners on such a beautiful day.) This guy was REALLY close and I saw at least three more flying. Birder's paradise!

My Hunger Games review

This is written in the form of a letter to my favorite film program/favorite podcast, Wittertainment (which is hilarious and snarky and everyone should listen to it):

Dear Dr. Statler & Dr. Waldorf,

After work, I went to see Hunger Games. Based on your analysis of the midnight-release crowd in Boston, I should have been in the near-prime demographic. I’m 28 and saw all of the Harry Potter films pre-release/at midnight/or day of release, went to almost all of the midnight book parties, have never seen or read Twilight, and really enjoyed reading the Hunger Games trilogy. But, I couldn’t help but think that the film fell a bit flat.

In pondering it over, I’m fairly certain that’s because the film didn’t feel fully committed to its universe, in the way that, say, the Harry Potters always managed to feel. Although I thought the set design and decorating in the Capital (that’s the Vivienne Westwood bit) were lovely, the people themselves were far better and more outrageous in my head. It was disconcerting to flash between "generic forest" (nothing about it felt like a set design, which, of course, is what the Hunger Games Arena should have been and it felt very Twilighty, from what I’ve seen in their trailers) and the Capital - it was almost as though the director went "ooops! we forgot - FUTURE universe, see, FUTURE! People have blue hair! And slightly funky facial hair! And nonspeaking Toby Jones, because he just has a funny face in the FUTURE! And roses - but they’re FUTURE roses! And now, back to the generic present-day forest."

I also think that the movie did not play to its strengths. The book’s loveliness is due, in large part, to the way it chronicles Katniss’ complex inner monologue. As a reader, we only see the Hunger Games from her perspective and everything we "know" about the machinations of the game is from what she is deducing or remembering from watching them in the past. The movie is very different: we swoop from Katniss in the arena to the control room to the blue-haired exposition fairy (oh god, SO. MUCH. exposition!) and see the Hunger Games from a much broader range of perspectives (which I think makes Katniss a less complex, less interesting character). I found myself wishing that I could see a lot more of the television coverage of the Games - that’s one of the points that Collins makes so strongly in the book - that the edited version of what we consume often doesn’t match the realities of an event. The film could have done this spectacularly, but just generally didn’t. It only really did this once, in showing a district’s angry reaction to a tribute’s death, in what I thought was the film’s strongest moment.

Two issues for the future: one of the key themes of book 2 (Catching Fire) is Katniss trying to decide why she acted the way she did at the end of the Hunger Games: whether her motives were selfish, altruistic, or political and how that affects her "role" thereafter. I thought that the film’s dialogue in that key moment obliterated the need to have Katniss engage in a very interesting internal conflict later in the trilogy. Second, Hunger Games is by far the strongest of the three books - if I was this underwhelmed by the first film, I’m now even less excited for 2 & 3.

Just as (the wonderful! and amazing!) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not a movie about spying, Hunger Games is not a book about the Hunger Games, but about wealth, privilege, freedom, reality television, the role of the media, and lots of other really interesting things. Hunger Games, the movie, just fell far short of the sophistication of its source material.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

My Last Long Run

I had absolutely no idea that today’s long run would be such an emotional experience.

This includes my pre-race miles. My official time for 30K/~18.6 miles was 3:29:40 or 11:16/mile

I ran 20.25 miles, most of which was part of the Birch Bay International Road Race 30K, back up on the US side of the border (it used some of the same course as the half marathon). It’s a really beautiful place to run. My favorite part were the views of the mountains, just peeking out from under the cloud cover and, of course, the Bay. I wasn’t last, which was important, and they handed out lovely medals. It was kind of lonely after the 15K runners split off, but there were tons of aid stations (waaaaaaaay better, in this respect than the half marathon). My official time was 3:29:40. I didn’t have any goals for this race other than to finish, because this was simply a long, slow run for me. However, I did walk a lot less than I have in any of my other long runs, because, obviously, the walk breaks counted in this one, whereas I usually just stop my watch. Through the last five miles or so, I just kept counting down – 5 miles to taper, 4 miles to taper, 3 miles to taper, 2 miles to taper, 1 mile to taper….

But, a wall of emotions that I was in no way expecting just HIT me with half a mile to go. All of a sudden, I needed to cry, because I was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of finishing my marathon training (there’s still three weeks to go, obviously, but this is the last of the really long runs and I’m officially tapering down to the race now). I’m really, really proud of what I’ve accomplished. In over four months of training, I’ve only missed three runs. Following a schedule and staying really focused isn’t usually my strong point, so this is huge. Gosh darn it, I’m GOING to be able to do this, me – the short little pudgy girl, a marathon runner! I wished my parents could be here to see me do this; I’m sure they would be completely flabbergasted, but supportive and proud. Poor Duchie got a crying phone call right after I finished and she was NOT pleased with me for pulling that on her (and I cried again when I talked to my godmother), but I really just needed to share how overwhelming the “end” of hard marathon training felt. And, to be honest, I’m really glad I finished my last long run as part of a race, because that finish line was so symbolic in so many ways. It meant a lot to have people clapping, even though they had no idea how significant it was, in the context of all my training.

What I wore:
Skirt Sports skirt (no chaffing at all - LOVE them), long sleeved pink shirt (Adidas, via Nordstrom Rack), very light blue jacket (Marmot?), Injinji socks, Saucony Cortanas, my flags of the world Sweaty Band, Nike visor, Moving Comfort undies, $1 gloves, my race belt for teh iPod and race number

Nutrition (the Gu every 5 miles thing seems to be working for me, plus a salt tablet every 7.5):
5mi. – peanut butter Gu
7.5mi – salt tablet & 2 pretzal nuggets
10mi – espresso love Gu
15 – peppermint Gu & salt tablet
afterwards – tea, broth, water, PB&J, oranges, half a banana
later afterwards – hot chocolate, chicken sandwich, maple doughnut (ALL Tim Horton’s!!!), Cadbury Dairy Milk (thank you, Canada)

The race itself was also great - the 5/15/30K was actually the same size as the half/full in February, both around 450 finishers, but this one had a ton more course support, chip timing at both the start and finish, enough post-race food and water and hot drinks to go around, on-course photography, a technical t-shirt, no EVIL hill (just a few gently rolling ones, except for that MONSTER about 0.2 from the finish line) and a nicer medal (don't get me wrong - I'm REALLY proud of my half marathon medal & have it displayed proudly, but this one is lovelier). Packet pick-up for the half was either the night before or in the morning - more than a mile away from the start line. Packet pick-up for the 30K was race morning, too, but next to the start/finish line and in the nice warm community center that we could warm up in afterwards. Both courses are lovely. I really liked that this race was on Saturday, instead of Sunday, giving me a great excuse for a weekend away in Canada. I think, given that there are loads of half marathons around, I probably won't do the Birch Bay half again, even though I am grateful to it for being at the right time in my training and for the PB, but I'm already thinking that I'd like to do the 15K at the Road Race next year (I don't see a particularly good reason to put my body through 30Ks if I'm not marathon training, which I won't be).