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On my way to 65/65 – #61 Harstine Island Half Marathon June 10, 2017

Summary: Small race around the small island. Early start allowed. Casual atmosphere, very friendly, and brought home eggs that were so free range you could see the chickens pecking in the dirt. Highly recommend if you want small, fun, beautiful, low key, with a very nice shirt and medal.

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My friend Mary Ellen has a cabin on Harstine Island, an enclave about 80 miles southeast of Seattle and 10 miles north of Olympia, the state capital.

I stayed overnight with Faith who was doing the race, and the next morning met up with Dena, with whom I have done quite a few races.

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Starting the race with Faith, it felt like o’dark thirty, although it wasn’t!

We did the early start, since it was Faith’s first half in a while and Dena’s knee is still under rehab rules, but mostly because I like to get done early! Glorious day with blue skies and lots of trees.

One unexpected consequence of staying with Mary Ellen was her delightful support on the race course. She drove her little Mini and stopped every mile or so, greeting us with waving bubbles in the air,

20170610_092754writing chalk messages on the road,

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medical care, and, of course, water and food. It was truly lovely to see her around almost every bend. We wanted for nothing!

20170610_093324We passed by the Harstine Island Farmer’s Market.

20170610_091355entered Jarrell State Park,

20170610_090551and found restrooms there. It was peaceful.

Island Belle Grapes on Harstine IslandWe looked for a place to buy the local wine.

20170610_114145_001Saw a meadow of blooming foxgloves.

20170610_115519We waved at this guy as we crossed the Harstine Island Bridge on the way to the finish line.

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Faith and I enjoyed food after the race. Nice backdrop!

Next: In my quest to do my 65th half marathon on my 65th birthday,  I finally whittled my choices (and there were lots!) to these three:

#62: July 23 West Seattle Beach Run – one of my favorite courses as it winds along the West Seattle waterfront. Picture from last year.

#63 August 5 Orting Summerfest – the Orting, WA trail is one of my favorite courses, too. This was Orting in March 2017 with Marge Bethel.

#64 – September 3 Sporty Divas Bad Azz Back to Back  – Rose Coates runs events over Labor Day weekend on the Western Chehalis trail in Lacey, WA. Rose puts on several great events during the year and they are always so much fun. If you have never done her “Shake that Booty” you are missing something!

https://www.facebook.com/Sportydivawalkrunevents/videos/1763339343946793/

That makes #65 the Windsor Half Marathon in London, England on September 24. Yes, that is a week before my 65th birthday but I am counting it anyway!

https://youtu.be/558sb2idyOE

Wait until I bring home this medal!

 

Oh, and you didn’t miss #60. I did the Green River Half Marathon on June 3 (with Dena) and it was so low key I didn’t take any pictures. But it was good. This is the picture from
February 2017.More to come!

Big Picture: Weekend at Revel Mt. Charleston, Las Vegas, NV

Summary: A bunch of us have been friends for a very long time; some for decades, some less. We have traveled and done races for almost a decade and have the pictures to prove it.

Here is a review of Revel Mt. Charleston.

This weekend was special because with life changes (babies, grandbabies, retirements, CHANGES!) we have not been together for a very long time. Not only did we do the race, we saw a show, had a great dinner, and spent recovery time in the hot tub and hotel pool!

And here are the pictures to prove it!

L-R: Chris Balcom, Connie Many, Ruth Bookwalter, Jan Mayes, Cathy Christian, Shaun Linse, and Erna Abriam

There are some lovely pictures before the race, courtesy of Connie and Chris.

This was Chris Balcom’s first half marathon!

After the race: Jan Mayes, Ruth Bookwalter, Chris Balcom

After the race

Dinner at the Venetian

L-R:  Shaun Linse, Erna Abriam, Diane Hammill, Ruth Bookwalter, Jan Mayes, Cathy Christian 

Our view at breakfast

Great Job, Ladies!

The End

RUNNING REVEL LAS VEGAS – Review and Recap

Summary:  Simple packet pickup, lots of race day parking, ample buses and shuttles. The first 8 miles down Mt. Charleston were straight and had just enough downhill to make it really fun! Skies were blue, volunteers were abundant, water stops and potties were plentiful, and the medal is big and square. Massage at finish line. Free photos and videos. Highly recommend!

Lifetime – 59, 2017 – 7 , States – 11, Countries – 4

I was a  “Legacy Runner” because I did the inaugural race last year.

This is the fifth Revel Race I have done. Except for Revel Rockies in 2015 ( I was on the only half marathon bus that made it to the start line) they have been consistently organized with ample everything to make it worth the expense.

I loved this race so much last year that I talked six girlfriends into doing it with me this year. Here is our weekend story.

We stayed at a time share/hotel owned by one of us. Sandwiched between two towering hotels, it was a block from the strip and the perfect location to catch the freeway to the start line. 

The Expo

Not terribly large by Rock and Roll standards, but one vendor did have these great headbands. I am always looking for headbands that hug and snug my head and are pretty, and these are perfect. I ended up with three. Packet pickup was easy, picture taking was the most fun.

Getting there

Buses leave the parking lot for the start line at 4:30. Half hour to drive there from our hotel. I am driving, announce we are leaving at 4 am.

Four women, two bathrooms. (Two of us were in another room.) Up at 3:15 am. Make coffee. Mumble loudly that I am not doing this ever again. I say that every time I have to get up in the dark. Leave at 3:56 am.  

There were lots of buses, lots of people directing traffic, lots of people, period. Comfortable bus seats. It is still dark.

Lots of potties.Revel put mylar blankets and gloves in our bags that were welcome.

Sun comes up. Race starts.

 

Mt. Charleston race course view from Revel

I have been using the Galloway method of interval running for a while, and have seen my race times improve. But running continuously on a mild downhill with a slight tailwind was so tempting that I did so for the first 3.5 miles. It was so pretty!

Then came a water stop and when I walked through it my legs felt so rubbery that I knew I could not run all the way down without some damage. So I settled on a 1 minute run/30 second walk which was perfect. At about mile 10 the course went uphill and I walked the rest of the way to the finish.

Revel provides an instant printout of your stats, like time, placement, etc. I walked over to that table and the woman printed my stats out … then I actually got tears in my eyes. I had my second best time ever – and the best since 2010.

All of us did well with great times and even a couple of PRs and for one of us, it was her first half marathon! That is always exciting!

I already have this race on my calendar for 2018, even though I am trying to get all the states and why would I run a third one in Nevada? Because that PR was so close …!

Next: Returning to Las Vegas to see Cher and Journey. Registered for Green River Half Marathon here at home to be held on June 3.
Still want London to be my 65th on my 65th birthday, but there are more than five I want to do before then, so it may be 70 at 65!

 

 

 

Running around Windsor Castle

I have known for a while that in September I was visiting Great Britain to celebrate my next birthday. And what is the first thing I look for when I travel? Guess!

I celebrated turning 60 by doing the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Lisbon, Portugal.

I still have that wonderful sash

So of course I have been searching for the right half marathon in England for this birthday!

I couldn’t believe how many events were just on the weekend I am there. This is only Great Britain, not the rest of the UK. For a country smaller than Oregon, they sure have a lot of races and running clubs.

The abundance of races made it difficult to choose. I could run through Sherwood Forest in the Robin Hood Half Marathon, or go past Winchester Cathedral in the Winchester Half Marathon.

Then there was the Surrey Hills Challenge Half Marathon. I left that site after I read the first sentence: “The Surrey Hills Half is for those that want to test their stamina and strength, but are not quite ready for the Ultra or Forty.”

Camelot Challenge in Dorset sounded cool, Camelot and all, until I read a blog by a guy who noted the steep hills along with the spectacular views. I know myself and I would not enjoy the views as much as I should after “steep hills.” Not even though the race finish is at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking. Out.

Run Wimbledon – nope, they start at 4:00 am.

And the choices continued – Ipswich (new, exciting course), Ealing (voted the UK’s best half), Solent (scenic course), Folkestone (always the one to attend). I did make use of my Great Britain atlas!

But the winner is the Meridian Windsor Half Marathon. Who wouldn’t want to run around Windsor Castle?

Dear Cathy Christian,

Congratulations on entering the Meridian Windsor Half Marathon 2017 – Overseas Entry on 24th September 2017 at 10:00. Your entry is now approved.

Venue: Windsor Great Park, The Long Walk, Windsor SL4

Windsor Castle

13.1 INSPIRATIONAL MILES OF STUNNING SCENERY…

The setting for the Windsor Half marathon is one of the most beautiful in the UK, the start and finish being on the Long Walk within Windsor Great Park and with Windsor Castle as the backdrop.

The course itself is all on road and quite challenging with plenty of hills spread around the route, but remember: what goes up must come down! All this coupled with beautiful scenery and traffic free roads makes for a wonderful experience.

Did you notice  “challenging with plenty of hills spread around the route”?
 
Me, who is doing another downhill race in Las Vegas next week, signed up for hills. Have no idea what I am thinking! But I have decided to use it as an opportunity to love hills, and my training this summer will reflect my new love (blah!)
 
But it is Windsor Castle, after all! I was actually there with my dad in 1977 during a four hour stopover at Heathrow on our way to India. We just got in a taxi and my dad said “take us to the nearest castle.” Windsor it was.

There are 6000 runners, so I won’t get lost. They closed registration the end of April last year because they were full, almost five months before the event. I always pick the best race, and I have no doubt this is a perfect choice.
 
I am so excited!! What a way to turn 65!!


Next: Revel Mt. Charleston, Las Vegas, Nevada. They bus us to the top and we run down! I loved this last year and talked seven girlfriends into doing it with me.

Through the Tulip Fields – Blooms to Brews #58 in Woodland, WA

Summary:  Weather was that perfect northwest overcast sky. The course was along the river, through the tulip fields, and was very well supported. The medal was colorful and doubled as a bottle opener as befits a race that serves beer at the finish line. Highly recommend!

Lifetime – 58, 2017 – 6 , States – 11, Countries – 4

Half marathon course, Blooms to Brews, Woodland, WA

It was peaceful along the course.

Dena waves at the bridge.

Goats mowing the lawn.

Passed Holland America tulip fields.

This sign caught my eye. Considering the current anti-immigrant fever in this country, I thought it worth the picture.

And the medal looks like this!

Next: Revel Mt. Charleston in Las Vegas April 29. I ran this downhill course last year and loved it so much that this year I am dragging 7 girlfriends with me so they can love it, too!

The half marathons I didn’t review – #51-56 – and the four month blog silence

My 50th half marathon was in Cocoa Beach, FL October 2016.

Then I went silent on my blog. For two reasons:

Reason one

Reason two

Boeing badge retired

But I never stopped doing half marathons.

My plan is to do my 65th half marathon by the end of September 2017.

Running the Riverwalk – Alamo 13.1 Half Marathon #57, San Antonio, Texas

Summary:  Totally beautiful course through downtown San Antonio, the leafy canopy at the zoo and the Riverwalk; well organized, post-race food included Krispy Kremes; free pictures; plentiful water stops. Highly recommend.

Lifetime – 57, 2017 – 5 , States – 11, Countries – 4

I have been absent from my blog for four months; more on that in another post. This post is about the totally enjoyable Alamo 13.1 half marathon I did March 19, 2017.

My friend Candace recently moved to San Antonio and we decided to do this half marathon together – I needed Texas in my state collection and she wanted to do a half. Her first. Nothing like your first!! I also wanted to see the LBJ Library in Austin to begin my collection of visiting presidential libraries. (Our political climate made this visit poignant and uplifting and worthy of a separate post.)

Getting there

Seattle-San Antonio non-stop on Alaska Airlines – what was not to love about that?

I read good reviews on this race and we signed up in January. I knew it was the right one when the race director stepped up to make sure I received the 100 Half Marathons Club discount.

My favorite race weather is overcast and 65 degrees. Since this was Texas, I prepared for sun. Sunscreen, hat, buff, sleeve warmers (I found these great ones that are light, stay up, and are inexpensive.)

And I got to see my first rodeo!!

 

 

 

Candace’s husband Brian was the designated driver, parking finder, and picture taker. I reveled in that luxury; I forgot how wonderful it is to have someone drop you off at the start line!

Packet pickup was easy and in a lovely venue somewhere in San Antonio. (Brian drove so I didn’t need to know exactly where!). They gave us a very nice bag with Alamo 13.1 on it.

Race weather forecast was OVERCAST!!!! I was so excited!! Texas and sun go together for me. To have a race in Texas where the sun was not beating down on me was totally unexpected and such a bonus!!

The Race

The Alamo was lit up, as guys dressed in period costume – complete with rifles – milled with the crowd!

He just handed his rifle to me!!

The Alamo has such a deep lore attached to it, with tales from Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, John Wayne, and “Remember the Alamo.” Interesting that it is such a small building. The surroundings seem a bit meager, even imagining the vastness of the Texan landscape in 1836. Where did two thousand Mexican soldiers get ready for the final battle? Well, for sure we were certainly shorter in 1836. And the Alamo was a fine start and finish for the race!

 

 

Candace and Cathy – our one selfie before the race!

Starting at the Alamo, the course first wound through downtown San Antonio streets and showed off the period architecture of this beautiful city. They have done a remarkable job of preservation and restoration and reuse.

We went through the zoo. Didn’t see any animals but the shade was welcome.

Candace waving as we go through the zoo

Temperature was in the 70’s but still overcast. Humidity was high and I was having trouble breathing. Couldn’t get a deep breath. I drenched my pink Half Fanatics buff with water at each stop and that helped a lot. About mile 8 I started pouring water down my back. Mile 9 poured water down my front, too.

Mile 10 the sun came out …

Since blatant sun and I are not best buddies I was very glad the next two miles of the course were on the famous Riverwalk. It was pretty and shady most of the time, and on well maintained sidewalks.

The last mile was downtown and, block by block, twisted its way to the finish line at the Alamo.

Finish line

 

The medal depicts the Alamo and is a size that befits big Texas!

 After the race

The food consisted of a huge half baked potato with trimmings, a rice-black bean-chicken combo, two Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, chocolate milk, and bananas. Brian had made us post-race smoothies with fresh pineapple and other healthy stuff. Went well with the Krispy Kremes and chocolate milk.

 

Alamo 13.1 Half Marathon March 19, 2017 San Antonio, TX #57, State 11

Good race with good friends. I did tell Candace several times that not all races have water stops every mile, lots of food at the finish line, free pictures, or a gorgeous medal.

Next

Blooms and Brews in Woodland, WA, then to Las Vegas for another run down Mt Charleston. Michigan and London both figure into my 2017 plans, and the Havana Half in Cuba in November is strongly calling to me. So we shall see!

Rodeo Austin, Texas – My first rodeo!

I got to see my first rodeo!!

Visiting Texas for the Alamo 13.1 Half Marathon afforded me the opportunity to attend a rodeo in Austin with my friends – and it was a kick!

There are the cowboys, and the bronco riding, and the calf roping, and the cowboys ( I just want to emphasize the cowboys!) and all the stuff that make rodeos.

But for this first-timer, these are what stood out – and I don’t forget I am in Texas!!

The only women in the rodeo events were the young women who did barrel racing. They rode their horses so fast that their hair flared like a flag and my camera couldn’t catch them. That was my favorite event. There is a women’s professional rodeo but I don’t think young men do the barrel racing for them.

Young woman barrel racing.

Texans like their prayers. There was a prayer before the national anthem. It was not a little “Bless us, Amen” kind of prayer. It was more like “All the cowgirls and cowboys are here to ask …” and gave me enough time to look around and see everyone was deadly serious about this. It also prepared me for the prayer before the race the next day. In 56 half marathons this was a first. But I was in Texas and that is what they do and I said “Amen,” too.

Then there was the Star Spangled Banner, done with majesty and another lovely young woman carrying the flag.

Austin’s motto really is ‘Where Weird Meets Western’

Signing the national anthem after the prayer

We saw a pretty popular country singer named Randy Rogers. Considering I am not inclined toward country music, this was pretty good music and I enjoyed it.

Bling was ubiquitous as it should be at a rodeo in Texas.

Hand sanitizer in portable toilets does not seem to be needed in Texas. Neither does recycling.

This is who I enjoyed eyeing all evening as he wound his way through the stands selling cotton candy. He sold a lot of cotton candy.

Now for sure I can say “This is not my first rodeo”! Okay, bad joke, couldn’t help it 🙂

Beach and Bling – Half Marathon #50 at Cocoa Beach, FL

Summary: Organized, well run, great community support, nice expo, loved running on the beach for three miles, water stops frequent, I Dream of Jeannie theme fun, love the medal. Highly recommend.

Lifetime – 50, 2016 – 7 , States – 10, Countries – 4

I admit that I love the medals that come with finishing half marathons. Right now 2015 and 2016 are displayed so they are the first thing you see when you walk in my front door.

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Last year I dipped further into this madness when I flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma because I wanted the Flying Goddess medal from the Route 66 Half Marathon. A favorite of mine.

Route 66 After the Race

Route 66 After the Race

Then six months ago Cocoa Beach Half Marathon in Florida posted a picture of their medal for their October race.

jeannie-bottle

I watched I Dream of Jeannie every Saturday night. I loved her outfit and I had a crush on astronaut Major Nelson.

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Jeannie and Major Nelson on the Cocoa Beach half marathon course

I needed the state of Florida for my 50 state quest. Alaska Air had a sale on a nonstop Seattle – to Orlando. The parents of a colleague live in Cocoa Beach and she gave me a detailed CB map and told me the best hotel. I was going.

October 22

The expo was very nice, very organized.  Shirt easily changed to a size that fit. Chamber of Commerce gave out dinner discounts. I matched the bottle!

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The Race

Got to the start 1/2 hour before and the temperature was 64. Loved it!!! I found it amusing that the natives were wearing long sleeves and complaining how cold it was. What a difference 2549 miles makes!

First time I have ever seen 3:00 and 3:20 pacers. I am a plus three-hour finisher and we never get pacers; in fact, I didn’t even know what you do when you have a pacer. Just follow, I guessed.  I was so excited!

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I started out with the 3:20 pacer, but my shins quickly went sideways. I had to stop several times the first three miles to stretch them out and lost her. But having a pacer made me feel like I was with the big boys 🙂

Since this was my 50th half marathon, I printed out a sign from the 100 Half Marathon Club and pinned it to my back. It was so nice to hear all the congratulations as people passed me. Another bonus from being part of this community.cocoa-beach-1

I didn’t identify any Half Fanatics until just before the course veered onto the beach, when a woman called out to me saying she was an HF but she had to wear pink in October. We had a nice chat, thank you, Shari Sussman!

Walking with Half Fanatic Shari Sussman

Walking with Half Fanatic Shari Sussman

Loved being on the beach for three miles. They timed it so the tide was low and we were on hard packed sand. cocoa-beach-22

By this time the sun was full up and it was hot for this Northwesterner, (the difference of 2549 miles!) so my pace had slowed a bit. But the sky was blue and I was on the beach!cocoa-beach-4

Every mile marker had a Jeannie in costume and a couple of them even had Major Nelson. Totally bought it all!cocoa-beach-13

I didn’t get to enjoy the finish line activities because I had one hour to check out of my hotel and get on the road to Orlando to catch my flight home. Lesson learned: Do not do a half marathon and then sit for five hours in a plane!

But I have my Jeannie bottle medal!!

the-end

Thank you, Half Fanatics, for my 13.1 Adventures

Little bit of history …

My first half marathon was in 2007. My second was in 2008. Then I did one during my training for the 2009 Inaugural Seattle Rock and Roll marathon.

2009-rnr

After I did that marathon (still my one and only) I realized that my body liked half marathons better. That 26.2 miles was excruciating!

2010 and 2011 were taken up by breast cancer; I did a few halfs, most notably the 2010 Seattle Rock and Roll Half six weeks after I had surgery. The doctor told me I shouldn’t, but I knew myself. I wrapped up tight and had a great race.

I joined Half Fanatics on New Year’s Eve 2011. I saw the world of half marathons laid out on a website and Facebook – people do one in each state –  people do one each weekend – or two or three! But I didn’t think that was me, because I am slow and I was last to be picked for a team in PE … and, well, you know. But it was still nice to belong. I bought the shirt and buff and wore them proudly to the races.

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Then something amazing happened. The shirt made me part of a community that was the friendliest and most supportive I had ever experienced. No one cared if I was slow, or where I finished. I met really interesting, colorful, and just plain nice people who shared their knowledge and enthusiasm.  I had fun. I got medals. Which made me want more medals.

medals

Aside on the medals: Half Fanatic Sunny Delaney entered her collection of medals and bibs at this year’s Western Washington State Fair and won the People’s Choice award. We do like our medals!

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I only did a couple of races in 2012, including the Inaugural Rock and Roll in Lisbon, Portugal, held ON MY BIRTHDAY, which fueled my desire to do more international races.

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After the Lisbon, Portugal RNR

In 2013 I did nine races, including one I dedicated to my dad who had died a couple of months earlier.

SAMSUNG

By 2014 I was determined to get to Jupiter status in HF and I ended the year with 12 completed halfs including my second international race running along the Caribbean in Belize.

Two miles to go!

Two miles to go!

Which brings me to now

Early on I marked the halfs I did on a little scrap of paper I kept on my refrigerator, but when I joined HF I started keeping them online. In May I celebrated a good running friend’s 100th, and it dawned on me that I had no idea how many half marathons I had done. So I found the scrap of paper, then counted the ones I had tracked online and I was at 45. OMG, 45? Amazing for the girl who was always picked last.

I had already registered for the Cocoa Beach Half in October (I want the I Dream of Jeannie bottle that is the medal, and I need Florida),

jeannie-bottle

so if I played it right I could make that one my 50th. One thing about Washington in the summer and fall, there are a lot of half marathons! I found the four I needed, finished, and added them to my count and voila! Cocoa Beach will be number 50!

So my new goals are to do one in each state and in as many countries as my life allows. I have a milestone birthday in 2017, and it is actually on a Saturday, so I want to find a spectacular way (read: race) to celebrate it!

I have signed up for four more 2016 half marathons after Cocoa Beach, and one more may make it in. It will take me a lot less time to get to 100 than it took to get to 50!

2017? Already registered for my second Nevada race (I love going downhill!) and now that my life has made a sudden left turn towards retirement I have no doubt I will have a very interesting year!

Last night I spent an hour researching races in China (there are a bunch). Thank goodness for Google Translate. Yes, I would like to do one on the Great Wall, but the hill training you have to do is a little disconcerting to me. See above statement where I like going downhill!

Other possibilities? The Race Director from Kuwait told me I had plenty of time to finish their race. I love the idea of doing five halfs in five days in five states with Mainly Marathons. There is the race in Myanmar where you wind your way around Buddhist temples. My cousins live close to this one in Michigan where you cross thirteen bridges in 13.1 miles. I found one in the Iowa town where I started kindergarten so may go there in November. I need Iowa, too:)

So many choices! So exciting! Where will I go next?

Back to Half Fanatics

In the HF community I discovered a lot of people my age who are totally crazy about doing the races. A lot of them.  One amazing guy is on his 113th country.  I know several who are on their second or third go around for collecting states. What about doing 4 races in 4 days in Kaua’i, Hawaii? I know if I ask, people will give me their opinion on the best race to do in China. Or Kansas. Or anywhere!

I am looking forward to being just as crazy! Thanks, Half Fanatics! Couldn’t be doing this without you!

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