Canby - T-Shirt

5 down only 47 to go.

I realize that my blogs have not made running sound like a lot of fun. I have written about heat exhaustion, dust, cramping, nausea, dizziness, chafing, sore muscles, sore feet, sore knees, and blisters. Who wouldn’t think, “where do I sign up – I need to get me some of that.” So I want to make it clear that despite all of my complaining (I like to think of it as just reporting the facts) I’m loving this. It’s not like every week is just another sufferfest with different scenery. I find a lot of joy in running, even with the challenges of my heavier body. Even though I wish I wasn’t living in Elkton, I must admit that Oregon is a beautiful state. I do most of my training runs on a dead end road right outside our door. It is common to see hawks, wild turkey, and deer. I get the nature experience of a trail run but don’t have to worry that roots and rocks are competing to see which can trip me first.

These trips are educational as well as fun. Before last week I did not know that Canby was the Dahlia capital of the world. I didn’t even know what a dahlia looked like. I was also a bit iffy on the spelling. We are also getting a good lesson in Oregon geography.

Canby was a pretty run. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy it as much as I should have. Even though I seem to be recovering quicker after each successive race I showed up on the start line at Canby feeling tired and a bit stale. Tim wasn’t feeling his usual enthusiasm either. I felt so beat going into the race that I decided to only run once this week instead of my usual twice. You know you’re in trouble when you feel like you have bonked before even starting a race. For non-runners reading this, that last sentence was not a case of – Whoa, you did what before the race, too much information. Bonking, also known as hitting the wall, is technically that moment when your muscles and liver are depleted of glycogen. Not technically, it’s that moment in a run where it feels like aliens suddenly sucked every last drop of energy out of your body and replaced it with lead. It happens that fast. Do not let this happen to you. If you are going to be running for more then 2 hours you need calories in the form of quick digesting carbs. Experiment, so you know what works best for you.

GU - Salted Caramel

The only brand and flavor of gel that doesn’t make me puke

I had a nice surprise this race. Tim ran with me all the way past the dahlia fields, over 6 miles. He tried to take some pictures while running but they didn’t turn out. Luckily they had a photographer who was taking pctures in the dahlia fields. I wish I had seen him sooner because he caught me moving really slow.

Happy couple in the dahlia fields

Note to self: never, ever, wear this clothing combination again

It was great to run with Tim. I don’t remember what we talked about but I remember we were talking and it motivated me to keep running. I think Tim could see that I was having a hard time and made an effort to talk to me. I would have walked sooner if he hadn’t stayed with me as long as he did. I remember telling him that last week I ran 8 miles straight (only stopping at aid stations for water) but I didn’t think I could do so this week. Well, I managed to run 8.5 miles, thanks to a woman I met (Annie) right after Tim ran away from me. I can always run further if I have someone to talk to. Last week I made a tactical decision to walk a hill. This week my legs made the decision and just started walking with no input from me.

Sometimes I go into a run tired and the run brings me back to life. Not this time. This was a hard race for me. My body felt heavy and dull the whole 13.1 miles. The last 4 miles were a real challenge. I could feel the remnants of a blister. Also the bandage on my right arm kept coming off and sweat was making my chafing sting. Time started to move slowly. The last 3 miles I was unreasonably annoyed with the whole country theme. While the lake and the farms and dahlia fields were visually beautiful what you don’t see in an idyllic picture of a farm is the fertilizer that makes the pretty landscape possible. My eyes watered. Then there was the farmer choking runners with the dust from his tractor. I convinced myself that he was doing it on purpose. Surely farmers hate runners. After all we were probably making his cows nervous. Why couldn’t he farm in the middle of the field instead of next to the road. And why do people think they need so many stupid dogs?

After crossing the finish line, along with the medal every runner was handed a dahlia. I thought that was a nice touch. I was so grumpy at the end of the race that I was annoyed at my dahlia for being pink, my least favorite color.

Canby - Dahlias

My dahlia has been forgiven for being pink

Physically the Haulin’ Aspen race was the hardest on my body but this race was the hardest psychologically. It, once again, made me realize that you run with your mind as much as you do with your body. In spite of this race report focusing (a little too much for my taste) on the negative I don’t think of this run as a bad experience. Quite the opposite, even while accepting that it was not my day I was aware of the beauty around me and felt grateful to have a body that could work so hard. And although my time was almost 4 minutes slower then last week, I felt like I had earned this one more. I know I am getting stronger. After this race I was able to go shopping and add 4 more pieces to my antique hankie collection. Sunday morning, for the first time after a race I wasn’t even walking funny.


  • A nice T-Shirt design ruined by a sponsor logo on front. If you must have them, logos go on the back of the shirt.
  • Need more port-o-pots. In line for the indoor bathroom we were told that the port-o-pots had no line. The line was longer – sigh
  • Country smells and dust


  • Well organized race with friendly volunteers
  • Nice dahlia themed goody bag
  • Beautiful race course
  • Running along side, then through the dahlia fields
  • Free photo of runners in the dahlia field
  • Handed a dahlia at the finish line
  • Instant printout of time

We would recommend this race. At $50 it was a good value. It was a little hilly but would still be a good beginners race or PR course. Bring a camera.

Albany - T-shirt

4 down only 48 to go.

Damn – I have got to be the only person who can gain 2 pounds in the same weekend as running a half marathon (HM). It might have something to do with my diet. Friday night I wasn’t overeating, I was carb loading. Saturday, for lunch, I had a cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate malt, after all I had just finished a HM. Saturday night I had half a pizza and almost a bottle of wine because, you know, I ran a HM that morning. Apparently this is not an effective way to lose weight. Who knew?

Fun fact: Running a HM burns about 1300 calories.
Not fun fact: A cheeseburger, fries and malt have about 2100 calories.

Tim carb loading Friday night

Tim carb loading Friday night

I have lost 5 pounds since our first HM. That’s not as much as I was I hoping to lose in the first month, but it is a pound a week. If I can lose a pound a week I will end this project having lost 52 pounds! Are you impressed with my math skills? I hate it when I read about people trying to lose weight and they don’t give any real numbers. You don’t know whether to root for them or tell them to shut up, already. So although I’m embarrassed to write this, I topped out at 181 pounds. As someone who has spent most of my adult life at about 135 pounds. I am finding it awkward and tiring to live in this body. Most weight loss stories I have read (a lot, I’m obsessed with the – how I lost weight – genre) feature people who have been heavy all their life or gained weight slowly. I gained 45 pounds in a little over a year, so I’m still getting used to my body. Chairs are smaller, I misjudge doorways, I overheat when I run, and when I do yoga a belly gets in my way during poses that used to be easy. I hope my weight gain phase will make me a better, more empathetic yoga instructor. I also hope it is short lived.

At this point you might be thinking – where is the race report. I hope this isn’t going to be another stupid diet blog. Well, too bad. This is going to be a diet and running blog. I’m not running a HM every weekend just to keep in touch with my knees.

After the Haulin’ Aspen run I felt destroyed. I had blisters and my body felt so sore I could hardly walk (not just because of blisters). I was also dizzy and disoriented with a bit of heat exhaustion thrown in. After Catherine Creek I was so sore that I walked funny for 3 days, so I was concerned that I would be in bed all week after Haulin’ Aspen but much to my surprise I woke up Sunday morning only slightly achy. Could my body really be adapting to this nonsense?

We loved the Albany HM! It’s our favorite road race so far. It was a fund raiser for the local schools and most of the volunteers were students. They did a great job. When I saw the route map I died a bit inside because of the many turns (I have a history of getting lost in races) but there were volunteers at every intersection. And they were full of enthusiasm while keeping everyone on the course.

The morning was cool and comfortable. Tim always starts out with me so he doesn’t go out too fast but at some point he pulls away and I don’t see him again until the finish line. It is best for both of us if we run our own races. I soon caught up to 2 women and ran behind them for a bit. The woman I was behind moved to let me pass but I declined as they were going my pace. Much to my amusement the older woman (I never did catch her name) speculated that I was drafting. Keep in mind that we were running about 13 minute miles at this point. I couldn’t let that pass without a joke and inserted myself into their conversation. I found out the older woman was 72. I found that impressive. She soon pulled away and me and my new running buddy settled into a good conversational pace. For a while I thought I was going to be beaten by a 72 year old woman but at some point, still ahead of us, she dropped out. She didn’t appear injured and I don’t know what happened but about the halfway point a car pulled up and she jumped in and they drove away.

I was grateful that I had Ruth to help me chat the miles away. It was her first HM and she ran it brilliantly. Unlike my first HM where I went out too fast and had to practically crawl the last 3 miles. Congratulations Ruth, I hope to see you on the road (or trail) again. You can talk about a lot in 8 miles. There is a rule in running that states – What is said on the run, stays on the run. Much of our talk was of that variety. This 8 miles was the longest solid block of running I have done since we started this project. I’m sure I would have walked sooner if I didn’t have interesting conversation distracting me from what was happening to my body. Ruth said she likes to speed up for hills to get them over with. I on the other hand was hoping for a hill so I would have an excuse to walk. So when we came to the only real hill on the course we parted ways and I turned my music on. I had pretty much covered my feet in NewSkin so even though I felt my blisters right away they never got any worse. Soon I forgot all about my blisters because I had arm chafing that got progressively more uncomfortable until I felt like I was being attacked by fire ants. I tried running with my arms out (like I was playing airplane) but that was awkward and I felt dumb. It was a grim last 4 miles. It was getting hotter, so I was sweating more, which made my chafing sting even more. Towards the end I was running with my right arm pressed against my side, lumbering like Quasimodo.

My right underarm

My right underarm

The last couple of miles were a walk/jog comedy as I explored different ways to hold my arm. Sorry, there are no pictures of this. I did manage to rally a small sprint at the end.

Much to my great happiness the after race food included cold chocolate milk! This race was so efficient with such attention to details that I’m sure it was put on by runners. The race director needs to write a book for other race directors called something like, The Care and Feeding of Runners.

Tim took a picture of me and Ruth, but it turned out awful so here are our finish line photos.

Notice both feet off the ground

Notice both feet off the ground

Yay! - First Half Marathon.

Yay! – First Half Marathon.













  • T-Shirt sizes ran big, way big


  • Super friendly, helpful volunteers
  • Good cause
  • Smooth packet pickup with a nice expo
  • Free massage
  • Plenty of aid stations
  • Good traffic control
  • Instant printout of your time, pace and placing
  • Good food
  • Chocolate milk!

What was really special about this race was how much everyone involved cared. Everything that could be done was done to ensure that the runners has a good experience and felt important. It was a charming race, in the best sense of the word. We both highly recommend this race. It would be a perfect first HM both because it is relatively flat and because the last person across the finish line is treated with as much enthusiasm as the first. I hope I can run this HM next year. And I hope to see you there.


  • August 9th, 2014
  • Bend, Oregon
  • Haulin’ Aspen
  • Sharon: 3:08:22
  • Tim: 2:39:08

3 down only 49 to go.

I need to start a segment of my blog called – What Did You Forget This Time? This time I forgot to pack a razor. Of course, the one running shirt I packed is sleeveless. I know this is nowhere near as serious as forgetting my running shorts (see Catherine Creek) but it is still annoying. I’m self conscious enough about being a fat runner without being a fat hairy runner.

Packet pickup was at FootZone. I love it when packet pickup is in a running store because – shopping. At first I was horrified by the color of this week’s T-shirt. Orange makes me look like a pumpkin on steroids but then I remembered that I need an orange shirt for the Orange Chicken Run in October ( see Races ). I am glad I remembered the Orange Chicken Run or I would be jealous of Tim’s green shirt. Don’t worry Tim has an orange kung fu shirt he plans to wear to the Orange Chicken Run.

Haulin' Aspen - mens shirt

The men’s shirt was green.

I knew I was in trouble Friday night when I realized that I still had chafing from last Saturday’s race. Note to self – more Body Glide. Body Glide is this miracle product that looks and goes on like deodorant but stops (most) chafing. Lucky me, I get chafing on my inner thighs (chub rub) and under my arms whenever I run more then 3 miles, or sometimes just walking to the store.

This run was beautiful. The race was run on single track, double track, and on service roads that weaved through forests with mountain views. It is more physically challenging to run on a trail than on a road, nevertheless, I prefer trails. I especially love running trails in Oregon. I’m used to running on the rocky, technical trails of Tucson. In comparison, the trails of Oregon look and feel like someone came through and swept them. After looking at the course profile I decided to walk the uphills, jog downhill and see how I felt on the flats. I didn’t really need a plan for flats as there didn’t appear to be many.

Looking at the run profile I knew I would be power hiking about half the race. That is when I made a dumb decision. I should have known better. Have I learned nothing? I decided that I would wear my Brooks Pure shoes. These are great shoes for a 5K. I once wore them for a road 10K and my feet ached a bit but I could still walk. I will be walking half the race, I told myself. Trails are softer then roads, I told myself. They will feel so light and bouncy, I told myself. I had never worn these shoes for a half marathon. The most common advice given to runners after “don’t go out too fast” (see Catherine Creek) is “never try something new on race day”.

Brooks Pure

Brooks Pure

I felt great at the start of the race. After a small flat section the race started with a fairly long, steep climb. I was feeling smart. I was thinking something along the lines of “thank goodness I don’t have those big clunky Hokas on my feet. Yes sir – I should wear these shoes for every race”‘

Tim took a picture of this sign around mile 3. I found out later that the trail we were on was a cross country ski trail and the sign was a warning about upcoming dips, but that day it was an omen of what was ahead for me.

Sign - Danger Ahead

Could you be a little more specific?

About mile 9 I felt A hot spot. By Mile 10 I knew I had at least two blisters. Damn you Wright brand anti blister socks. I believed you. To be fair these are my favorite socks and I almost never get blisters wearing them. Before I discovered them I would get blisters between my toes just hiking. At this point I could feel every tiny rock and twig through the thin soles of my shoes. I stubbed my blistered toes twice. The last 3 miles were a death stumble. Forget running, I was trying to remember how to walk at this point.

Right before the finish line a girl ran past me yelling “Come on, run with me, we’re almost there” or some such thing. “OK” I said feebly, and actually ran across the finish line.

Again I must give a big shout out to Tim who was waiting to cheer me across the finish line. He came in 29 minutes ahead of me. He helped me hobble to the medical tent and put band-aids on my blistered toes. After my toes were taken care of he helped me limp to a rock I could sit on and got me bean salad and beer. Yes – free beer for the runners.

Special thanks to the Renee at Recharge Sport who let me sit in the shade of her booth. I don’t deal well with direct sun and was about to fall over.


  • Like many trail races this one had no bathrooms on the course. Really that’s the best I can do. This race didn’t have much of a downside for me.


  • Well organized with friendly, helpful volunteers
  • Great goody bag
  • Well marked course on nice groomed trails
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Free beer

Although it was my slowest time (how can a loop course be all uphill?) it was my favorite race. It was Tim’s favorite, so far, as well. At $60 this race was a good value for all they provided. We recommend it.

Haulin' Aspen trail

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Catherine Creek Classic T-shirt

2 down only 50 to go.

Thanks Tim for the amazing year of weekend half marathons. In return, I give you chafing in places inappropriate for blog photos. Oh dear, what has she done now – I hear everyone who knows me thinking. Well, this is embarrassing but I forgot my running shorts. I packed a long sleeve shirt in a similar fabric that tricked me into thinking the shorts were in my bag.

The night before a race I lay out the clothes I plan to run so I don’t waste time and stress out in the morning. Right before going to bed Friday night I laid out my running kit and realized I had no shorts. After freaking out I asked Tim if I could wear the shorts he has driven up in because I had worn jeans for the car trip. Tim said that I could wear his running shorts and he would wear his cargo shorts! I felt so stupid about the whole thing and assured him I would be fine in his heavy shorts but he insisted. Even though he made a scary joke about running me in my underwear, I’m nominating him for husband of the year.



Tim finely finds a pair of running shorts with enough pockets.

Tim finely finds a pair of running shorts with enough pockets.


Before writing about the race I want to write about our amazing dinner. We found an excellent Thai restaurant called Bangkok East. Tim had pineapple fried rice and I had shrimp curry. Tim had a Terminal Gravity IPA that we both recommend. La Grande is a real middle of nowhere kind of town so it seems even more fortuitous to find a good Thai place. And then we got these fortune cookies. The waitress must have thought we were too easily amused the way we were exclaiming and laughing over our fortunes.




This race was in many ways the polar opposite of our last race. The Catherine  Creek classic had 53 people for the half marathon, Eugene had almost 2000.

Everyone parked at the school and a school bus drove us to the start line. We were amused by the run back to your car method of discouraging runners from dropping out.

At the 8 a.m. start the morning was already warm. The start went downhill for about 5 miles. I try to run all the downhills and take walking breaks on the uphills but soon I was looking for a flat section to justify walking. I ran longer and harder in the beginning than I should have. A typical rookie mistake – going out too fast. I love running downhill (yay gravity) but I trashed my quads and I should have known better. I was much sorer after this race than the first one.

I wrote a long passage about sore feet, extreme heat, tummy issues, etc. but it bored me so I deleted it. Suffice it to say it was 92 degrees when I finished my race and I had every issue associated with running in heat.

I love to talk to people when I run and this time it helped me through a rough race. I talked to a woman, Stacy, who was probably hurting even more than I was. She had a compression sleeve on an injured calf. It was so hot, I can’t imagine how miserable it must have been to have the sun beating on that black fabric or to be running on a sore calf. I was inspired to complain marginally less. After a couple of miles I was ready to push on. I listen to my music and made a game of trying to catch the runner I saw way off in the distance. She was also walk/running at this point, so I would run whenever she ran and then try to run 30 more seconds after she started walking. It takes a long time to catch someone this way. I finally caught up with her. She seemed to be in as much of a – let’s talk and pretend this isn’t happening – mood as I was. At this point we were both doing more walking than running. It was in the 90s and we probably would have collapsed from heat exhaustion if we had run much harder, still I like to think we spurred each other on just a bit. When she slowed I said “30 more seconds” and we did it, then walked. At one point she said “let’s run to that tree” sooner then I would have started up again had I been running alone. It was nice to know someone was there if I had heat stroke. Thanks Jennifer.





I ran as fast as I could to the finish line and collapsed on a tree. Tim brought me some cold watermelon. It was right up there with the Eugene chocolate milk.


Tim must have had half a watermelon. I’m beginning to understand why I need to lose weight. For a blog about running I write an awful lot about food. I was amazed to learn that I had won in my age group. Turns out I was the only woman in my age group. Tim got 3rd in his age group, out of three. He came in 23 minutes faster than me. Look at our ribbons. They remind me of the 4-H ribbons given to kids at the Country Fair. And I did feel like a happy kid, just sitting under the tree, eating cold watermelon, clutching my blue ribbon, knowing it was a full week before I had to do this again.



  • They started the award ceremony before the age groupers were all in. They totally missed the woman in the 60-69 age group. She was 66  and came in just over 3 hours. Who deserves a blue ribbon more than her? In their defense they did say the award ceremony would begin at 10 a.m. They were packing things up and getting ready to leave while there were still runners out on the course. The race appeared to be full of cross country kids from the high school who were confused about the fact that people were taking almost 3 hours to finish a half marathon. If you are a back of the packer this race might prove to be a little hard on the ego.
  • Little to no crowd support. This is to be expected from a race of this size. I actually prefer the odd looks I got from two horses and a goat to the looks I get from people who expect to be entertained by watching a bunch of people run past them but some people thrive on cheering crowds. This is not the race for those people.


    • This race is a great value, for only $15 ($10 more if you want a T-shirt) you get a well-organized race with lots of country charm, a bus to the start, friendly volunteers offering large glasses of water and encouragement, cold watermelon at the finish line as well as prize drawings and age group ribbons. I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a well run, low key event with beautiful scenery.


And now (as Monty Python would say) for something completely different. On the way home, in the middle of nowhere (where we seem to be spending a lot of time lately) we see a shoe tree.