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Why is packing so hard?

Today I leave for my next adventure. In the next  four weeks I will add a new country to my half marathon list (the UK), and a new state (Michigan). I will sail along the Elaphiti Islands archipelago in Croatia and visit two more Presidential Libraries; Gerald Ford in Michigan and Rutherford B. Hayes in Ohio. Oh, and a soft spot will be visiting the Motown Museum in Detroit.

Best part will be visiting my five cousins in Frankenmuth, MI, where the Bruckelaufe race course is over covered bridges.

Sounds great to me. I planned it all! I have traveled overseas several times and I did not think packing for three different environments with only a carry on would present much of a challenge.

I was so wrong.

Thank goodness for Amazon. I ordered power bricks, diaper bags, swim shoes, and seven bathing suits (I love Amazon’s return policy!). I read that diaper bags were a perfect carry on, and indeed I got the right one, I think.

I ordered mini exercise bands so I can exercise on the 10 hour flight to London (that is my plan, anyway. I also have a sleeping pill). I ordered my favorite power bars (cheaper than the store) and sunscreen made solely of zinc oxide

I ordered new mini binoculars, because in all my moving boxes I cannot find the ones I already have. I even ordered a new sunhat. Has the greatest name. Sunday Afternoons Adult Adventure Hat.

The race part was easy. I just packed my usual race pants, decided to wear the same shirt I wore when I did the Lisbon, Portugal race in 2012, (yes, I still have it, along with a zillion other race shirts I absolutely have to donate).

My friend Ruth made me the sash for Lisbon, and she made me another sash to wear for the race in Windsor. It is pink, too, and I am so excited to wear it! Celebrating 65!  It is packed, no picture now.

I found a new bottle holder that my friend Marge had, tested new shoes, and zipped it all up. Same with swimming – goggles, cap, suit (just one!), swim shoes. Zipped and done.

The weather is going to be in the 70’s in Dubrovnik, but I will be on the water for five days. That means cooler at night. The weather in London and surrounds could be anywhere from 50-65 with sometimes rain. Kind of like Seattle was before this summer!

And then there is Michigan – forecast to be in the 60’s with sometimes showers, sometimes sunny. Again, kind of like Seattle, it sounds like.

How much heavy stuff do I take? Writing this I decided to throw in my light Lululemon windbreaker … just in case it rains during either race!

So I am not taking any heavy stuff. I don’t wear coats here in Seattle and they take up too much room to pack. I always seems to take too much so am deliberately trying to cut down by making sure it all goes in one case – and in my new diaper bag!

BUT, then there is all the electronic stuff. Making sure my itinerary is backed up on a cloud, and then making paper copies just in case there is no wi-fi. How many books can my tablet hold? I have my passport, do not need my driver’s license. Oh, wait, I am renting a car in Michigan, need that license! I was so close to forgetting that piece.

More soon!

My next half marathon is in London!

Orting Summerfest is done.  Because of the poor air quality (Seattle was the worst in the nation for a couple of days, totally unlike us!) and the excessive heat (we are not used to anything over 85!) the race director allowed me an early start with couple of new friends who made the miles go by pretty fast. Kendra is totally amazing. She has done marathons in all fifty states, toured the state capitals when she was there, and is now working on doing halfs in all fifty states. And Lisa is working her way through the states, too. Thanks to Kendra I am now going to Riverside, IA when I am there in November for the Hillbilly Hike. There is a plaque attesting to Riverside being the future home of Captain James T. Kirk. My father had a love for the original Star Trek so a visit is due with a picture of the plaque.

This is the only picture I took. It was hot and I was tired.

On to London! Now I have to get serious about what to wear. I have a very close friend who is an excellent seamstress and made me a beautiful sash to wear when I did the Rock and Roll in Lisbon, Portugal on my 60th birthday. On the front she wrote “Today is my 60th birthday” and the back it said the same in Portuguese! People talked to me all race long and that really made my race pretty special.

I still have it and was thinking of modifying it but the race in London is not on my actual 65th birthday – it is a week ahead. But it is my 65th half marathon. I posed the problem to Kendra and Lisa (it was 13 miles we were together!) and they came up with “Celebrating 65”  – how brilliant is that! So people can ask what that means and I can tell them! And meet new people that way, too 🙂

My friend graciously agreed and I am so excited!!

Love being a part of the running community. It is the best 🙂

West Seattle Beach Run the Best

Summary: West Seattle Beach Run (formerly the West Seattle Flat Ass) has the best course, the best food, and the best people (RD Mike Mahaney) running it. My favorite race of all that I do.

Half Marathon #63 – This is year nine of this fun, fast and low key race of 25K, 50K, half and full marathon distances. Starting at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, the course is along the waterfront, winds through homes on the waterfront, and bursts out onto Alki Blvd, with waterfront on one side, and businesses and homes (mostly high rise condos) on the other.

Turn around is at Salty’s Restaurant, and you go back to the start line. If you are doing any race other than the half marathon, you do the course again!  Twice for the marathon and more for the 25k and 50k crazy people. There is food on the picnic tables at the finish line. Lots of it.

Looking downtown Seattle from Alki, West Seattle

The day was colored with that perfect Seattle blue. My friend Mary Ellen, who lives in a waterfront Alki  condo, met me with water and a lovely message. How cool to have your own cheering squad!

Another tradition is the Hammond Family food station on the beach close to the turnaround. These lovely people have no idea how much their sustenance is needed, and they also take great pictures of the racers and other sights on the beach, like these guys. I saw them go by and felt safe! I think they were practicing. And look at the view!

The medal is a nice addition to my collection, too.
Mike Mahaney holds this race twice each year – on Super Bowl Day and summertime in July. Even when I move to Tucson I will make an effort to fly up to do this race. It exemplifies all I love about the running community in the Northwest  – friends, food, low key, low cost, stunning course … no matter where I am this race is the Northwest to me.

Next: I changed it up and did Olympia Lakefair as #62. I was not very happy with that race. I did talk with the RD who told me things would be better next year. 

Orting Summerfest on Aug 5 is #64. I love this course on the Foothills Trail, and it is so low key you can bring strollers and your dog!

Then I will have a break while I travel to Croatia and then London, where I will be doing #65 Run Windsor as I turn 65! This is extra cool. 

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.


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.


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,


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.


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!

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!

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


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


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.


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!

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