Run Like Hell - T-Shirt

  • October 26th, 2014
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Run Like Hell
  • Sharon: 2:49:29
  • Tim: 2:49:27


14 down only 38 to go.

You know what is not fun? Running in windy, cold rain for 13.1 miles. My asthma loves damp weather and my arthritis loves cold rain. My 2 baby blisters ate some puddles and were full grown by the end of the race. OK – I get that this is Oregon and we are actually lucky that this is our first race in the rain. I’m assured that it won’t be our last. When I came up with the 52 HM plan I knew there would be some races that were colder than I like but I figured that would be a good excuse to buy some new clothes. Somehow it never even occurred to me that I might have to run in the rain. When you’re from Tucson you don’t think about rain when making outdoor plans. When planning a run in Tucson I ask, “Will it be over 100°?”, not, “Will it rain?”

Run Like Hell - Toes

I should be a foot model

After reading last weeks comments I realized that I didn’t link to the blog I quoted from. I did quote what I thought was his most annoying paragraph and although I don’t think the rest of his post is going to make him any friends, to be fair, we added a link. It’s pretty short, so if you want to read his full post (maybe leave him a comment) the link is now in last weeks post. I still can’t get over the fact that with all the fucked up stuff going on in the world this guy chooses slow runners to berate.

We did find an inexpensive hotel in downtown Portland that we recommend, the AAE Portland Downtown Value Inn. We didn’t realize that the downstairs was a hostel. We got a large room w/ a king bed for under $70. For once, the nonsmoking room didn’t smell like smoke.

Even though it was raining we decided to dress up. I’m glad we did because the costume party was the best part of the race. Most amusing was seeing our new friend dressed as a hot dog.

Run Like Hell - Ms. Kraut

Know what goes great with a hot dog – beers

I had to do some major modifying to make my costume runable. Tim, also, left off some major hardware on his costume. I have a hard enough time breathing when I run so I left off the corset. I also left off the little hat with pipe cleaner antenna. The shoes are my favorite part of my steampunk butterfly but I thought they might be a little uncomfortable to run in.

There was no designated race parking so we found a parking garage 3 blocks from the race. After the race I discovered it is easier to stay hidden and change clothes in a parking garage than in a parking lot – so that was a positive.

Even if it hadn’t been raining this would not have been one of my favorite runs. A major part of the race was run in an industrial area that smelled like piss. It was not a pretty run. There were a few places where the route doubled back. It was a lot of fun seeing people who were ahead of us in costume. I thought Tim would be carrying the heaviest costume accouterment but we saw several women with umbrellas decorated as jellyfish and most impressive – a group of guys running with giant flags. Best of all, I got high-fived by a hot dog.

They advertised music every two miles and a musical mile featuring, “12 blocks where 12 unique Portland musicians play to all three distances”, but because of the weather almost all the musicians bailed. I can’t say I blame them. One marching band put out a tarp and a few others braved the weather. A big thank you to the musicians who did come out and play. Because you were so sparse you were even more appreciated.

I felt awful for the volunteers. Most did their best to be friendly and enthusiastic but it was obvious they were cold and miserable. I saw much shivering and huddling against walls. Oddly enough I also saw a volunteer, asleep, against a wall. I don’t blame them for not being as cheerful as usual (I love and cheer them for showing up) but it is discouraging to see unhappy volunteers. Thanks for standing in the rain for hours. You guys rock.

Tim ran with me the whole way even though I could tell all my walking was making him antsy. Even though we started at the same time and he ran behind me, with his net raised though the finish line, he still managed to come in 2 seconds faster than me. How is that even possible? We got a lot of comments on our costume. My favorite was the guy who said our costume was “fresh”. I also really enjoyed the 3 different people who yelled that we were their favorite costume, because I’m greedy like that. Originally, I was afraid my costume would be too hot to run in but the long sleeve shirt and wig covering my ears helped keep me warm. I’m surprised the wind didn’t tear my wings off but they survived just fine. Sadly, they didn’t help me fly. My favorite costume was the BP oil spill.

One thing I will say for this race – the medals are awesome. I think this is the best medal yet.

Run Like Hell - Medal

It’s a bottle opener

The after race party would have been fun if it hadn’t been raining. There was a good band and 2 free beers for finishers. The race started at 7:45, which I thought was too early for that time of year. Even me and Tim were done before 11am. Tim had his beers but I just can’t drink before lunch. I have tried. The worse thing about running in the wet cold is stopping. Once I stopped running and my sweat started to evaporate I was chilled to the bone. I looked more like a plucked chicken than a butterfly.

Run Like Hell - Costumed

Drowned butterfly and butterfly hunter


  • Weather (and lots of it)
  • Lines and confusion at packet pickup
  • Oddly shaped bibs were awkward
  • Guided static stretching before the race
  • No event parking
  • long line at bag check
  • Nowhere near as much music as advertised
  • Swag was a T-Shirt and a Medal only
  • Run through industrial Portland
  • Much of the run smelled bad
  • Many volunteers looked miserable (I don’t blame them)
  • I though the race started too early for the end of October (7:45am)


  • Great medal
  • 2 free beers (if you want to drink at 10:30am)
  • Good after race band
  • Music along the course
  • Port-o-pots at aid stations
  • The creative costumes

Even if it hadn’t been raining this is not a race I would recommend unless you are a medal junkie. It did have a nice after race band and a couple beers, but nothing about this race justified the $74 – $99 price tag. In fact, the best part of this race was the runners who dressed up. Maybe if the all the musicians had shown up it would have distracted from the ugly, smelly landscape. With all the amazing races to choose from I would skip this one. If you looking for a fun Halloween race in Oregon I recommend last weeks race – The Runaway Pumpkin.

Postscript: I forgot to mention the before race guided static stretching led by a local yoga teacher. What were they thinking? Studies have shown that there is no benefit to static stretching before a run, exactly the opposite. Holding a stretch relaxes and lengthens the muscle. What that means is that static stretching before running will make you slower. If you stretch before a run do some dynamic stretching – i.e. leg swings, butt kicks and save the long slow stretching for after your run, or during, if you get a cramp. As a personal trainer this makes me crazy. It’s not new information but many people don’t know it and followed along. Any personal trainer, coach, or yoga teacher for that matter, will tell you to stretch after cardio, not before. Someone should have known this.

Runaway Pumpkin - T-Shirt


13 down only 39 to go.

So, Tuesday I read a blog post that I found through Ultrarunner Podcast Daily News (yes – I read this even though I have never run more then 14 miles) that made me so mad that I’m going to start this post with a rebuttal to this jerk. Warning – rant ahead. The whole post is about how even though he is a slow runner he hates running with, “those runners” at the back of the pack. He goes on at length but I will just quote his second paragraph as it sums up the list of his complaints. “The back of the pack is filled with a different type of runner. The back of the pack crowd often sign up for a race without training. They trot along having conversations with the people around them. They don’t worry about form. Often you can hear them slapping their feet onto the ground like they are wearing wet flippers. They hold their phones in their hands so they can listen to their music without headphones. Occasionally, they will take a phone call and have a conversation during the race.” He goes on to lament that a serious runner such as himself shouldn’t have to put up with all this casual behavior.

Well, fuck you dude. Like you, I also used to be a middle of the pack runner who after a couple of running injuries and weight gain now find myself in the back of the pack during races. Unlike you, I have found the back of the pack to be a friendly place full of great people. Everyone runs for different reasons and I find your judgmental disdain for a whole group of people you know nothing about, disturbing. How do you know if people have been training? Why would you care? If there was no back of the pack distracting you from your serious run it sounds like you would come in DFL every time. If you are running a HM (that’s the distance race he wrote about) you should be able to hold a conversation for, at least, the first half of the race. If you can’t, you went out to fast. I have spent a lot of time talking to runners in the back of the pack and have been inspired by listening to their stories. The most common stories I have heard are from people who were running their first HM or trying to lose weight. I have talked to people who were coming back from injuries, a woman coming back from breast cancer, a 90 year old man and a truck driver who ran to undo sitting all day driving. I talked, for many slow miles, with a woman who was hit by a car and was just healing from hip surgery (maybe she was one of the runners with less then perfect form who annoy you) who was telling me about how wonderful it was to be able to move again.

As someone who has spent time both in the middle and the back of the pack I have never noticed that people at the back have worse form or flap their feet more. Paula Radcliff (a very elite runner) has awful form and heel strikers are in the front, middle, and back of the pack. There are more new and overweight runners in the back of the pack so maybe some of them don’t have perfect form and hit the pavement harder then you would like. Again I must ask – why do you care? If you are truly finding the sound of flipper flapping feet deafening, put on headphones. I did a music search for you and found at least 4 songs titled, “It’s all about me.”

OK – I agree that someone playing music without headphones is annoying but I have rarely seen that and again, it is not only a back of the pack thing. I ran next to a woman at the Tucson HM who was playing country western music for all to hear. It did inspire me to speed up long enough to get away from her. I came in just over 2 hours so I was not in the back of the pack that day. As for people having a phone conversation while running – what a great idea. Maybe next time I’m trotting along and can’t find anyone who wants to talk, I will call one of my running girlfriends and catch up. I can pretend we are running together, again. I don’t see how that is any worse then having a conversation with another runner. Oh wait, I forgot, you are against all talking while running. I have found the back of the pack a friendlier, funner place to run. As an aid station volunteer I found that people towards the back are often nicer, they thank you more often and slow down enough to throw their cup in the garbage can provided. I suggest that at your next race you spend some time talking to your fellow back of the packers. Time will go faster and you will meet some lovely people. I’m sure you would have a better time than you would have glaring at cell phones and pretending you aren’t one of us. Well, I guess I told him.

We went to packet pickup Friday. There was no line. In Tucson there was always a line at packet pickup, in Oregon we have never stood in a long line. This bag was chock full of stuff. I think it’s the most single items we have ever gotten in a swag bag.

Runaway Pumpkin - epic swag

Holy swag bag, Batman

What a fun race. We knew it was a Halloween party race so we brought our costumes. It was humid and I was having stomach issues again so I decided not to add a costume to the mix. There were more people than I expected at this race and lots of them dressed up.

Tim didn’t wear his costume to the race but when he saw how many people dressed up, he changed. I thought he looked more like an Oktoberfest bartender then a steampunk runner but while we were running a couple people yelled, “cool steampunk” and other such things, so I guess he nailed it.

Runaway Pumpkin - Tim

I’ll have a St. Pauli Girl

This course had more course support then any other race we have ever done. And they were all so friendly. This HM was a fundraiser for the ABC House, a great place that helps abused children. The head of the ABC House was pacing walkers.

Runaway Pumpkin - Hat

Cool pumpkin hat

The aid stations were closer together than in most races, almost every 2 miles. I liked this a lot because I try not to walk except to drink a glass of water at every aid station. More aid stations, more walking breaks!

This race started out on a wide gravel trail that fed into an asphalt path along Cheadle Lake. I was amused to hear them refer to this section as “singletrack.” Both Tim and me were confused to hear them say, “Be sure to walk only 2 abreast on the singletrack so people can pass.” We were pleasantly surprised by the wideness of the “singletrack.”

Runaway Pumpkin - Singletrack


The race then weaved through some really nice residential areas and down a light traffic road. It was a mostly flat, scenic run. There was no chance to get lost as every possible turn had volunteers. They had local bikers directing traffic which added character to the race.

The started the race in waves, depending on how fast you planned on finishing. Even though they started 5 minutes after us we were passed by 2 speedwalkers They were in full costume no less. I couldn’t help but think, “WTF, we’ve been running for 5 miles, how are you passing us?” They were moving. Tim said he would stay with me for as long as I continued to run. A little after mile 6 I had to hit the port-o-pot and Tim took off. He later informed me that he passed the speedwalkers, but I never did. I did run with an adorable girl in a tutu who was running her first HM. She dropped me as well.

And right before the 13 mile mark was this guy.

Runaway Pumpkin - death

I always come across the finish line as fast as I can and then collapse in the nearest shade I can find. I am the spaciest, most incoherent person you have ever seen after a race.

A big shout out to Mrs. Kraut. Tim said it would be inappropriate to use your name, so I’m using your comment handle. I knew from reading your comments I would like you but when I saw your tattoo I knew we were kindred spirits. Sorry for being so out of it – I’m always like that after a race.

More people than I expected to expressed interest in the race medals so this weekend we (Tim) will add a link so the medal can be looked up by race. I’m adding a picture of this weeks medal because it is the coolest one yet.


  • They could have used more port-o-pots at the start
  • Some of the roads (not many) had an uncomfortable camber
  • Shoe timing chips – I find this awkward
  • It was humid (I don’t blame the race for this) just sayin’


  • No line, easy packet pickup
  • Much swag
  • Pacers
  • Well organized
  • Friendly, helpful volunteers – in costume
  • Great traffic control by bikers
  • Frequent aid stations
  • Port-o-pots at every aid station
  • Scenic
  • A good food spread
  • Chocolate milk
  • Long sleeve tech T-Shirt
  • Glow in the dark medal with movable parts

I really enjoyed this run even though it was so humid that both me and Tim got chafing and I threw up. This race would be great for beginners (they even have a walkers pacer) or anyone who wants a fun, flat, party race. We would recommend this race to everyone except the blogger who hates talking, feet slapping, unconditioned back of the packers. Actually, I hope he was at this race and got passed by a speedwalker dressed as a fairy who was talking to her speedwalking orange fairy friend.

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Bizz Johnson - T-Shirt


12 down only 40 to go.

Well, that was a long ass drive. Wait – that’s how I started last weeks post. This was the second week in a row that we had to go out of state to find a race. We found a trail HM in Susanville, a small town in CA, east of Redding. This was our third trail HM. I love running on trails. This trail was wonderful to run on. I’m used to the trails in Tucson where rocks try to trip you and feed you to the cactus. This was the perfect run at the perfect time for me. It was mostly gentle downhill on a nicely groomed trail with lovely scenery and nice weather. I went into the Enchanted Forest Wine Run, a couple weeks ago, feeling a bit off and it destroyed me. Ever since I have been feeling, not really sick, but that tired, on the edge of sick feeling that sucks all the joy and motivation out of running. This run reminded me why I love to run.

Bizz Johnson -

Perfect Trail

Before I go on to my race report I want to respond to a comment my good friend Marilyn left. She wrote, “Aren’t you getting the teeniest bit bored with running every weekend?” I can understand why you might think this but the answer is an emphatic, “No”, exactly the opposite. If anything I am more excited every week about our upcoming runs. Every week I get to explore a new town with my husband and then run through places I have never been before. We are trying new restaurants and meeting new people. It really is an adventure every weekend. And while I have felt many things on this adventure, I have never felt bored. As for running every weekend, when I used to run regularly I always did my long run on the weekend anyway. We used to run with a group called the Mt. Lemmon Runners. While it was fun to run with a group we did the same Sunday Sabino Canyon run every weekend so this is actually a lot more interesting. Doing races every weekend has the added benefit of making me run – I can’t just decide to sleep in if I am feeling tired or unmotivated. Although I write a lot (too much) about how annoyed I am with all the weight I’ve gained, one of the things I think about while running is how wonderful it is that my body can run at all after all I have put it through. Even when running hurts, and it is harder than it was 40 pounds ago, it hurts in a happy to be alive kind of way. That said I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I run in a masochistic state of bliss thinking things like – “My feet hurt, right on” or “More chafing, bring it on.” It’s nothing like that. Most of the time I enjoy running more in retrospect than in the moment.

I feel like my race reports have been a bit negative lately so it is great to be able to write such a happy review. I loved this run. In fact, this race was damn near perfect in every way.

It was pretty chilly Saturday morning. A little too chilly to be standing around is perfect running weather. Luckily they had drop bags so we could dress warm until we started running.

Bizz Johnson - Pre race

Tim has snow pants on

The bus ride to the start was amusing. We were sitting towards the front so we could overhear the driver. Apparently he had no idea he would be driving on dirt roads and was not happy. I don’t blame him. He was driving a full sized buss up a road I wouldn’t take my car on.

Bizz Johnson - Bus ride

View from the bus

It was even colder at the start. The only good thing I can say about my weight gain is that I didn’t get as cold as I used to. Once I started running I warmed right up. I was impressed that they had managed to transport 4 port-o-pots to the trail near the start of the race. To make it a true HM (13.1 miles) they started the race with a half mile out and back. I love to see the front runners fly by.

This is one of the most scenic runs I have ever done. Trail runs are usually beautiful but this one was extra nice because the views kept changing. There was a forest, then we ran next to the Susan River for a while, over some bridges and through 2 tunnels.

Tim ran with me until I had to walk, about 5 miles. I finally got a picture of that moment I write about in every race report where Tim leaves me to run at his speed.

Bizz Johnson - trail

Bye sweetie,
see you at the finish

I didn’t bring my music because I brought my phone to take pictures and I didn’t want to be that gadget runner. It turns out my phone was almost dead so I didn’t get to take many pictures. The run was so pretty I didn’t mind not having my music.

A good part of this run was along the Susan River. I love running by rivers. Maybe I love running by water so much because I have done most of my running in Tucson where bodies of water are pretty rare.

Bizz Johnson -

The Susan River

And where there’s water there are usually bridges. If you have been reading my blog by now you know I have a bridge fetish. No matter how tired I am I always try to run over the bridges. I recently found out that there is a race over the 7 mile bridge in the Florida Keys. Bucket list.

Bizz Johnson - Bridge

Last picture before my camera died

Luckily Time took some bridge pictures for me. Thanks Tim.

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One of the big differences between toad races and trail races is that trail race aid stations usually have way more food. It’s like a buffet every 4 or so miles. Road races have water and sometimes Gatorade. If you are lucky the last couple aid stations might have a get.

Bizz Johnson -

Why don’t you stay a while?

The tunnels were nice and cool. I was worried because I had heard that the tunnels were really dark but they had put up glow sticks. A guy on the bus was loudly talking about how much rattle snakes like to hang out in the tunnels but it was obvious that he was trying to freak people out. I thought it was as funny as he did to watch the squeamish girls panic. IT was an interesting experience to run through what used to be a train tunnel.

This race effectively had 2 after race parties. One at the finish line and one back at the car. The great food theme continued past the finish line. Besides a full table of yummy snacks they were grilling chicken and burgers. They also had full sized bottles of beer and cans of soda. Usually you get dixie cup sized beverages.

I usually don’t care much about the medal but this one was really nice. We have been talking about photographing the medals and having a link. I have heard that some people are really into medals, so much so that they will they choose a race based on the medal. I would love to hear what people think about this in comments. If you run races, do you care about the medal? If we had a link called medals that had pictures of race medals would you even bother to click it? Also, is there anything about races you want to know that I’m not writing about?

Bizz Johnson - Medal

I noticed there were no full sized buses on the ride back. They had a shuttle that made a couple of trips. We talked to a guy on the bus who recommended that we run a HM in May called Avenue Of The Giants that runs through the redwoods. Even though it is in CA we may do that one.

As great as this race was in all the details, the best part was the people running it. The Forest Service guy welcomed us and told us about the trail when he saw us reading the sign at the trail head. He obviously loved the trail and was happy people would be experiencing it. The race director was talking to people and the volunteers were really nice. They were even some sweet kids giving out water and high fives. You can always tell if the people putting on a race really care or if they are just trying to make money. This year they had a record number of people. I think it was because they had so much return business. I overheard quite a few people talking about running it last year.

There was a railroad festival going when we got back to the car. They had a craft fair, a chili contest and more that we didn’t see. I wish we weren’t so tired because they had handcar races. I so wanted to do this but just didn’t have the energy.

Bizz Johnson - Handcar race

Next year?


  • They ran out of mustard for the burgers (really, that’s all I’ve got)


  • Everyone involved in putting on this race was super friendly
  • One of the most beautiful runs I have ever done
  • Great food
  • No chance of getting lost (this is a concern of mine on trails)
  • Mostly downhill on a well groomed trail
  • Fun after race party with lots to eat and drink

Tim and me both highly recommend this race. This would be a perfect first trail race. This race is very beginner friendly but would also be a good run for a PR (mostly downhill). If you do this race be sure to sign up for the express HM because they have another HM that is an out and back. That means the first half is all uphill. If races keep being this great we are going to have a hard time picking out the top 10 to repeat. I would really like to do this run again.

Bizz Johnson - Post race

No I’m not about to give birth to an alien, I have stuff in my pocket

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Turtle Bay - T-Shirt


11 down 41 to go.

Well, that was a long ass drive. This is the first weekend we have had to go out of Oregon to find a race. We had originally signed up for the Orange Chicken run but it was cancelled. The closest race we could find was in Redding, California. At least we got to catch up on podcasts. Podcasts are great for long car rides and for walks and training runs. My current top 3 podcasts are: 1) Ben Greenfield – His intro, “Cutting edge, non run of the mill, fitness and wellness advice”, about sums him up. Me and Tim are usually eating car trip junk food during his nutrition segments. 2) The New Yorker short story podcast – Once a month a writer chooses and reads a short story from the New Yorker archives, Then they have a pretentious discussion about that story. 3) Ultra Runner Podcast – A podcast that interviews ultra runners (any distance more than a marathon). It’s way more interesting than it sounds. I have heard interviews with runners who have lost all their toenails, gotten hit by lighting, and had to run around a bear on the trail. Somehow my – “I’m chafing, I have a blister, it’s hot.” seems a little lame by comparison. I think my new mantra should be, “Suck it up buttercup.”

We were amused to find that we had been given the bridal suite at the hotel. We stayed at the Bugetel River Inn and we would recommend it as a clean, cheap place to stay in Redding. We particularly liked the practical joker at check-in who looked at our reservation and said “It says here you requested a room with a twin bed. I had to find one, but we did it.” We were so tired that we didn’t even get that she was kidding.

This was a pretty small, no frills race. Swag included a T-Shirt and a cheap metal. It was a benefit for the Lions Club and all the money went their projects. The course itself was lovely. It was along a bike path and over 3 bridges. I love bridges.



This was a hard run for me mostly because I was sick to my stomach for the whole run. I think the shrimp I ate at the Thai place Saturday night was a little off. I had some peppermint Tums and they helped a lot. If you ever have a queasy tummy and staying in bed is not an option, I recommend peppermint Tums.

I spent about 3 miles running and talking to a truck driver whose name I can’t remember. He told me that he belongs to a group of truck drivers that meet up and do runs. It makes me happy to know that there is a truck drivers running club.

2nd Bridge

The 2nd Bridge (my favorite)

The last 5 miles (or hour) of this run was really hot. After I finished I looked at the temperature on my phone. It was 91°! It felt even hotter. There is no doubt that since I have gotten fat I don’t deal as well with heat. I looked like I had taken a shower at the end.

Tim came and ran with me for the last quarter mile. There were a few iffy turns and he thought I might be worried about getting lost. He was right. What a great guy.


  • Very hot
  • They ran out of watermelon before I finished
  • T-Shirt and medal only – no swag
  • A couple of turns could have been more clearly marked


  • Lots of parking close to the course
  • Beautiful course
  • Nice small race feel
  • Good cause
  • Bridges

We would recommend this race. It was hot the day we ran but I heard that it usually wasn’t that hot. It is a beautiful run by a river, over bridges, and mostly on a bike path. You do have to contend with some scowling bicyclists. It was pretty flat but not so flat that it was boring. It was pretty well marked so there is minimal danger of getting lost. It is put on by the Lions Club and they obviously care about the race. It was nice but didn’t make our must do again list.

I know that this short race report. I haven’t been feeling very well for the last couple of weeks. Next week is a trail race and I hope to have a longer report and lots of pictures.

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The Wine Run - T-Shirt


10 down 42 to go.

We went camping! The only other time I did anything resembling camping was over 20 years ago, on a geology field trip to the Petrified Forest in Arizona. I had only a sleeping bag and didn’t sleep at all. So I was dubious when Tim said that camping would be fun. And he was right – it was fun. We didn’t exactly rough it. We brought our memory foam mattress and put it on top of yoga mats in out tent. We also brought every blanket we own. The race started at Wooldridge Creek Winery and that is where we camped. The winery stayed open late for the race so I had a glass of wine before turning in. I recommend camping next to a winery. The cool air felt good and the stars were amazing.


Us with the tent at Wooldridge Creek Winery

Wow, I don’t hate camping


This race had the best swag bag yet. Besides the normal bars, gels, chaptstick, and cupons it has are sleeves, socks and wine with a glass to take home.



I have to admit that when we signed up for this race in July, I thought I would be in better shape than I am by now. It’s run in the mountains and has a lot of climbing. This is the race I most feared. Usually, when I stress out about stuff, reality turns out to be kinder than my imagination. Not this time. This race destroyed me.


The Wine Run - Course Profile

How hard could it be


I went into this race feeling both tired and sick. I had been fighting a cold or flu all week so my timing could not have been worse. I felt off from the beginning. My legs felt heavy and I couldn’t get a deep enough breath. I knew I was in trouble when my legs felt dead before I had done any climbing. The race started at the winery and went through rows of grapes. We started out in the back behind 2 adorable fairies. The run had an enchanted forest theme and a number of people were in costume, mostly as fairies or gnomes. I ended up going back and forth with these 2 for a good part of the race. They were really nice.


Enchanted Fairies


Because we were camping and because the race started at 11am instead of early morning, our race routine was thrown off. We forgot to take B-5 (my secret weapon) and we even forgot to drink coffee! I was feeling so off that I had to walk within the first mile, before the terrain even got hard. Tim knew I wasn’t feeling well and was going to run with me but luckily I was able to convince him to run his own race. I’m glad he did for a couple of reasons. First of all, if he had stayed with me I would have been worried that I was slowing him down. Also, I would have been worried about him worrying about me, which I didn’t have the energy to do. And most all, if Tim had run with me I probably would have spent the whole run complaining. I’m not one to suffer in silence.

Timothy Olsen is my favorite male ultrarunner. He is one of the race directors of this race. Here he is at the transition from grape fields to a road leading to the trails. I think he rivals Johnny Depp for the best Mad Hatter.


Tim Olsen - The Mad Hatter


I was walk/running my way up that crazy mountain when I got a headache that reminded me that I hadn’t had any coffee that morning. I have a large cup or 2 of coffee every morning. I remembered reading that some of the aid stations had coffee. At the next aid station I asked about coffee. Turns out the aid station before and after that one had coffee. I must have looked pretty disappointed because one of the volunteers offered me some of his coffee. I tried to refuse because it seemed rude to drink someones personal coffee but he insisted and poured half of his coffee in a paper cup and handed it to me. I was so grateful – who forgets to drink coffee? I wish I could remember his name to thank him. I guess I will just think of him as the angel of caffeine. At that point I was having trouble breathing because both damp and elevation are asthma triggers for me. I was also feverish, nauseous, exhausted, and headachey (but no chafing). That half a cup of coffee helped bring me back to life.


Bear Crossing

Are you sure this is a safe place to run?


I walked all of the uphills and much of the flats. The aid stations were full of yummy looking food but I was so nauseous that I didn’t try anything except a tiny piece of raw chocolate (bad idea) and some more coffee (good idea). I did not even partake of the wine at the last aid station. I learned my lesson last week. Don’t drink and run is now as much a rule with me as don’t drink and drive. I had my first real asthma attack during this race and I had to sit down until my breath smoothed out. While I was sitting down sucking on my inhaler all 5 people who were behind me passed me. Luckily, it was a small race, 73 total, so only a few people looped me. On the last loop me and one other guy were fighting it out for last. Considering I practically stopped and took a nap during my asthma attack, he must have been having a really bad day. I finally passed him on a downhill and stayed ahead. Even during the hardest sections of the trail some part of me was loving the whole sufferfest aspect of it. I love trail running. I felt like the trees were on my side and trying to give me energy. The mantra, “no place I’d rather be”, kept repeating in my mind. Even though my legs felt like jello around mile 11 there was a nice downhill so I ran. Much to my surprise I saw the fairy friends in front of me. I thought they were long gone. I felt guilty passing them in the last mile but I wasn’t going to let 2 girls in full costume beat me if I could help it.

As I came through the finish line the announcer said something like, “Hey, where did you come from? Did you get lost?” I’m sure he thought he was being funny but I thought it was mean. I hope he didn’t say anything to hurt the feelings of the 3 people who came in after me. I can’t imagine what would make him think that making fun of runners for being slow was a good idea. That really was the only sour note in the whole race. I probably need to stop being so sensitive.

After the race we had tacos, a huge glass of wine and listened to the band. Life is good.


I think this counts as two glasses of wine

I think this counts as two glasses of wine


Even though I felt like an idiot for asking I had to get a picture with Timothy Olsen. He was very nice about it. You can tell I waited until the last moment because he definitely has the Mad Hatter after party look.


Fans with Tim Olsen


  • They could have had a few more port-o-pots


  • Great swag bag that included socks, arm warmers, and a wine glass to take home
  • Wonderful volunteers – Special thanks to the man who shared his coffee with me
  • Well organized
  • Well marked course
  • Fun event with costumes, food, wine, music, and special aid station treats
  • Beautiful course – vineyards then running through the forest
  • Great after party
  • Wine

Although I had a hard run and Tim’s a-fib made a reappearance we both loved this race. This is not a race I would recommend for a beginning runner. The climbs were brutal and the course was a little technical in parts. If you are a trail runner who enjoys a challenge this is the race for you. In spite of being hard the trail is runable. This race has a fun vibe and a great after party. Although I was joking when I wrote it, me and Tim have been talking about redoing our top 10 races. So far our list is Newport and this race. I really want to do this race when I am feeling better.

Luckily our next race is on a Sunday so we have time to recover. Both of us were still sore as I began to write this on Wednesday, a full 3 days after the run. As usual, Tim is recovering faster than me.