Eugene - Holiday Half - T-Shirt


21 down only 31 to go.

I am so done with Oregon. We woke up Saturday morning to the sound of rain, drove to Eugene in the rain and then ran 13.1 miles, in the rain. Oh yah – I also stood in line to use the port-o-pots, in the rain.
Luckily, there was a small indoor expo and dry gathering place near the start/finish line.

We saw our new friend, Jeanie, who had wisely chosen to run the 10k rather than the HM. We also saw Atheana and Robin. Tim met Atheana through the Half Fanatics and we have seen her at a couple of races. We met Robin at the Run Like Hell race when she took a picture of us for her Run Oregon blog post. Just as we are getting to know some cool Oregon people we are moving to San Diego. Yes – we will soon be leaving Elkton. More about that next week.

I have been looking for a pair of running shorts with an iPhone sized pocket for over a year. I have found mens running shorts with large pockets but the pockets in womens running shorts either don’t exist or will only hold a gel or set of keys at best but not a phone. Although it was a tiny expo they had the one thing I wanted. I found a black pair of shorts with a phone sized pocket and they had a no slip guarantee. ( I tried them on in the bathroom and did a mini kung-fuish jumpabout – they didn’t slip. I’m hoping to wear them in San Diego next week. Thanks Tim for buying me absurdly overpriced running shorts. I love them.

This race had the worst weather I have ever run in.

Eugene - Holiday Half

Race start: notice the umbrellas

I have to admit that I was not crazy about this course. It had a scenic river view but most of the race was run on concrete sidewalks and bike path. Concrete is one of the worse surfaces to run on for your joints. As I have gotten older and heavier I notice the running surface much more then I used to. My shins did not like this race. Tim, also, found this to be a joint jarring run.

I am so glad that we took a week off before this run. My feet got soaked but I didn’t feel any of my old blisters and I didn’t get any new ones. I also had a better attitude at the beginning of this race. I knew it was going to rain because I had been watching the forecast all week. In fact, I was okay with running in the rain for about the first 6 miles. I noticed how much easier it was to run in the rain when I was mentally prepared. I was congratulating myself (silently) on my adult attitude – And then the wind started. It was a cold, sideways rain, try to blow runners into the marsh kind of wind. Then it started to rain harder. It wasn’t until I hit the turnaround that I realized that what I thought was a crosswind was actually a tailwind. I figured this out because when I turned around I had a headwind trying to push me backwards. It was too windy to run and too cold to walk. And then it started to hail! I think I yelled, “Really!” out loud. Luckily the hail was small and only lasted a couple of minutes.

A wonderful volunteer helped me open my Gu and put water in my handheld because my fingers wouldn’t work. I have rheumatoid arthritis and my joints seize up when they get cold. While I was hanging out at the aid station trying to get my gloves over my fingers (about 4 minutes) I thanked the volunteers for being out there. The guy said he wouldn’t miss it and told me about Ophelias Place a beneficiary of the run. Sounds like a great place. I love it when the volunteers are excited about the race. They must have been freezing. A special thanks to the volunteers who stood out in the cold rain (and hail) to take care of runners.

For me, the worse part about the race was having to run under the last 2 flooded underpasses. I hate getting my feet wet. Luckily, they weren’t flooded on the way out but they were very flooded on the return trip. I had thought that my feet were as wet as they could get but I was wrong. I got quite a shock as I ran through the cold, shin deep water. My feet almost stopped working.

The last three miles were a death march, mostly walking but small amounts of shuffle running. Often, when I feel like I can’t run anymore I play a game with myself. I try to run for 20 seconds then I look at my watch to see how much further I have until the end. I only let myself look at my watch after running. I love looking at my watch. When I was dragging along the last quarter mile I thought I heard someone yell my name. I looked up and over the river to see Tim, Jeannie, and Atheana waiting to cheer me in. That gave me enough of a boost to start running (slowly, 20 seconds) again. Thanks, you guys.

I had thought I would be shedding clothes (not wishing I had more) like I usually do as I warm up, so my bib number was under 3 layers of clothing. When I came through the finish line they yelled that they needed to see my number. Tim got a picture of me trying to hold up my shirts so my number was visible as I tried to run through the finish. I was so wet, cold, and exhausted that I felt disoriented. I’m glad Tim was there to lead me inside.

Eugene - Holiday Half

Barely concious

Tim is so awesome. He got me a plate of pasta and had already brought in my dry clothes from the car. As soon as I was able to stand up I went to the bathroom and changed into blissfully dry clothes.

I have often thought about getting one of the free massages offered after the race but there is usually a long wait list. They had two massage therapists and almost no line. I was called before I was done changing. It was great. I usually like deep massage but I was so stiff and sore that I had to ask for less pressure. Why don’t they have tip jars? Is it appropriate to tip the after run masseuse? If anyone knows the answer please let me know because this will not be my last after run massage.


  • Aweful weather
  • Running on concrete
  • Flooded underpasses
  • Ran out of soup (before I got any)


  • Parking close to start/finish
  • Indoor expo area
  • Nice sweatshirt (optional purchase)
  • Extra wonderful volunteers
  • Well marked our and back course
  • Scenic course
  • After race pasta
  • Nice glass medal
  • Good cause
  • After party at a brewery (we skipped it this time)

Would I recommend this race? Well – even without the epic wind and flooding I don’t think I would do this race again because I try not to run on concrete. That said, if the weather was better this would be a beginner friendly race. It was well organized and had extra helpful volunteers. There were no hills, the only climbing was the small rise coming out of the underpasses. This run had scenic river and marsh views, that I only saw briefly because for most of the race my head was down trying not to get a face full of rain. It was a festive race that benefits a good cause. This would be a fun race to dress up for. There were runners in tutus, covered in Christmas lights, dressed up as elves, and I saw at least 2 Santa runners. If you are looking for a holiday run in Oregon you won’t find a friendlier race. As for me, I’m glad we are running in San Diego next weekend.


We are taking a week off to let Sharon’s feet heal.

St. Helens Reindeer Run - T-Shirt


20 down only 32 to go.

It’s December in Oregon so I should expect that it will rain but I never do. I think that I have lived in Tucson for so long that I forget other places actually have weather other than hot and really hot. We stayed at Americas Best Value Inn which was less expensive (even after the race discount) then the official race hotel, the Best Western. Our hotel was really nice. It was closer to the race than the Best Western and they let us do a 1pm checkout so we could take a shower after the race. They also gave us a $10 gift card to use at the adjoining Village Inn. That was nice because it was too cold to walk anywhere so we probably would have eaten there anyway. It is worth asking hotels for a late checkout if you need to drive back from a race. I wish I had thought of it sooner.

St. Helens Reindeer run - Carb loading

Extra carb loading
(we should have split the pasta)

It was a small race so packet pickup was quick and easy. Unfortunately due to a UPS mess-up they didn’t have T-shirts. This was a race where you had to order a T-shirt if you wanted one. I see no need to spend extra for a T-shirt (I have a few) but Tim always orders one. This is the third race we have done with an optional T-shirt and the 2nd race that didn’t have them by race day. Tim is still waiting for his shirt from the Battle to the Pacific run. Both places promised to mail them. Kudos to the Enchanted Forest Wine Run for for having the shirts people ordered.

Luckily this race had an indoor gathering area to stay warm and dry in, before and after the race. The place was decorated in a festive Christmas way and a lot of people were dressed in holiday costumes and colors.

St. Helens Reindeer Run - Holiday runners

A family in the holiday spirit

I really liked being able to hang out indoors before the race. Also nice – indoor bathrooms. This picture was taken just moments before we were herded out into the rain. It rained or drizzled for the next almost 3 hours that it took me to finish this race. It is nice to know that the reflective strips on our cloths work so well.

St. Helens Reindeer Run - dry

Look how dry and happy I am

I knew I was in trouble by the second mile of this race. My legs felt tired and heavy from the start. I just felt exhausted. I don’t think that I was fully recovered from last weeks race. I just didn’t want to run. I was wet and cold, I still had blisters and mentally I just wasn’t into this race. I had the worse asthma attack I have ever had during a run. Besides the cold and rain the air was really smokey. It seemed like every house had smoke coming out of their chimney. It felt like trying to run next to a fire or a smoker.

This was a well marked course with great volunteers at every intersection slowing and trying to direct traffic. That said there was more traffic than I was expecting and many of the drivers didn’t seem too happy about being stopped for runners. Quite a few people were driving too fast. Because of the rain it was hard to avoid cars without going into the mud and puddles.

I wasn’t crazy about the running surface. About the first couple of miles of the race was on sidewalk or residential roads that slanted down. After that we were on an asphalt country road to a turnaround point. I love out and backs. As always, it was fun to see the front runners. This was definitely a road in need of repair. It was a straight road but potholes full of water turned it into a twisty run. I hope no one twisted an ankle. It was a scenic country run. I saw dogs, ducks, cows, a horse, and 2 ponies (who looked down as soon as I tried to take their picture).

St. Helens Reindeer Run -

No you may not take our picture – now move along

The aid station volunteers were super sweet and friendly. They stood in the rain handing out water and cheering their hearts out. As always, a big thank you to the volunteers and extra good deed points to those volunteering in the rain.

The race had an early start for walkers and any HM runners who planned to be on the course for more 3 hours. I usually come in close to 3 hours so I wasn’t sure if I should start in front with the group that left a half hour earlier or in back of the runners. I chose to start later with the runners because I wanted to run with Tim for a bit. I was moving pretty slow but amused myself in the second half of the race by trying to pass walkers, which was not as easy as it sounds. I thought for sure I would be the slowest runner but there were 11 people slower then me. The walkers had a separate category so if you are a speed walker this would be a good race to check out.

St. Helens Reindeer Run -

Seen a few blocks from the finish

Tim met me about 2 blocks before the finish line and ran in with me. I’m so glad he did. By that point I must have looked like a drowned puppy. I felt completely destroyed by the time I saw him. I was cold, wet, chafed, disoriented, having trouble breathing and my blistered, sore feet almost had me in tears. I hate wet feet. Tim held my water bottle for me and I ran in as fast as I could.

I was never so happy to be indoors. They had cozy couches and chairs as well as a nice post race food spread. They had bagel spreads! This may not seem like something that deserves an exclamation point but we have been at many races that had post race bagels but nothing to put on them. Who eats a naked bagel? I have never been so happy to see cream cheese.


  • No T-Shirts (they promised to mail them)
  • Rain
  • Ornery Traffic
  • Treacherous running surfaces
  • No bathrooms on the course
  • Lots of smoke from fires


  • Parking lot next to the start
  • Indoor area for before and after the race
  • Indoor bathrooms are much nicer than port-o-pots
  • Early start for walkers and slow runners
  • Wonderful volunteers
  • Scenic country views
  • Well marked course with traffic control volunteers
  • Great cause (food bank, local police, toy drive)
  • Cream cheese with bagels
  • Festive atmosphere

This race was well organized (except for the T-shirts) and the volunteers were great but there was nothing special enough about it to make it worth running in Oregon in December. A volunteer told me the weather was nice this year, last year it was 24° and icy. I won’t do this race again but if you are looking for a winter race in Oregon I would recommend it. Just be prepared for weather.

St. Helens Reindeer Run -

Our reflective clothing rivals Christmas lights

There will be no blog next week. We are taking next week off so my feet can heal and my attitude can improve. Really – I do love to run. It will still be 52 HM in a year. At some point we plan to do a double week. Maybe New Years or a Saturday then Sunday run. Were not sure yet but stay tuned.

If you have read this please leave a comment or ask a question. I love feedback.

Seattle marathon - T-Shirt


19 down only 33 to go.

This was a miserable run for me, which is a real shame, because this was also a beautiful run. I don’t deal very well with cold and the temperature was 27° at the start of the race. I’m from Tucson, so as far as I was concerned it might as well have been the arctic. I have never run in weather this cold before. Cold triggers my asthma so just breathing was an endurance sport. I also have rheumatoid arthritis (thanks mom) which makes it hard for me to move my joints in cold weather. The colder it is the more my joints stiffen up. It was a little painful but I was able to keep my legs moving although I did walk more than usual. The real problem was my fingers. I had trouble with the zipper on my shirt that held my inhaler and I had to ask a volunteer to open my gel. I had on warm socks over compression socks so my calves were warm but from the knees up I was so cold that my ass was numb. I had a warm headband that covered my ears but my face was exposed so my two coldest areas were my cheeks and my cheeks. As if the cold was not enough to deal with I had 2 blisters and am working on an ingrown toenail on my big toe. Oh – And I get stuck behind 3 Gallowayers (interval walk/runners) who I had to fight to get around every time their beeper went off. If complaining was a sport I would probably make the Olympic team. So that segues nicely to my weekly tangent. I have seen people do some pretty interesting things at races so I’m going to make a list of tips for someone running their first HM/race.

Etiquette tips

  1. If you are walking step to the right. If you are walk/running as a group (talking to you Gallowayers) do not stop running as a group, blocking the whole road (or path) making everyone behind you stop short and fight to get around you. Walk/running is great but move to the right to walk. Also, if you are walking or running slow and someone yells, “on your left” move to the right – not the left, to let them pass.
  2. If you know you are a slow runner start towards the back. Most races are chip timed so your time won’t start until you cross the starting line.
  3. Do not hold your phone and play loud music while running. Every time I have been running near someone so clueless that they are subjecting everyone to their music it has either been rap or country music. If listening to someone scream, “Fuck the police” or twanging on about how their dog left them for a train is what it takes to get you through a race use headphones.
  4. Please do not litter. Some races (Haulin’ Aspen) will ban you if you are caught littering. At least throw your cup and/or gel wrapper near the trash receptacle or to the side of the road. People slipping on cups is a real problem for mid to back of the packers. And please never throw trash in the forest or someones yard. That may seem obvious but I have seen it happen.
  5. Look before you spit. Enough said.

Practical tips

  1. Don’t overdress. I see this a lot. For a run you should dress as if it were 20′ warmer than it is. Often it is much colder in the beginning of a race and warms up as you run, but even if it stays cold (talking to you Seattle) you will warm up as you run. Dress in layers that you can wrap around your waist or discard. Many races donate discarded clothing to charity.
  2. Do not drink whatever sports drink (usually Gatorade) that is offered at the aid stations until you are at least 45 minutes into your race. You will sugar crash. Save it until you are starting to deplete your carbs and need it.
  3. Make sure to drink a full cup of water after taking a gel. Failure to do so will make you feel like you swallowed a large eraser.
  4. Do not mistake vasoline (usually on cardboard sticks) for gels. I know they taste similar but the vasoline is for chafing problems.
  5. Do not be rude to volunteers! I shouldn’t even have to write this but I have seen it happen.
  6. Even if it is cloudy always wear sunscreen. Don’t forget your ears or the back of your neck. I have burned the back of my neck forgetting that my ponytail exposes my, usually covered by hair, neck.
  7. Never try something new on race day. If you train with Gatorade and the course has Poweraid (I hate that stuff) your stomach might rebel, those new shorts might chafe (make sure that’s vasoline, not a gel) or you could find out that your new fuel belt will be bouncing against your back for the next 13 miles. Test all your gear before a race.
  8. It is customary not to wear the event shirt to the race. The theory is that you are supposed to earn it before you wear it. A lot of people do this and it isn’t a big deal but it will peg you as a newbie. Also see #7
  9. Use all 4 safety pins on your bib otherwise it will flip all over the place.
  10. Do not listen to anyone who says running in a costume is stupid. Oddly enough there is an anti-costume faction out there who seem to feel strongly about this. I’m guessing these are the same people who say idiotic things like, “I’m not here to have fun” or “act your age”. Costumes are fun and they make everyone around you smile. So go ahead – wear a silly hat or a tutu, cover yourself in glitter, or be your favorite superhero.

Packet pickup was quick and easy. We had to enter the expo to get our T-Shirts This was the best expo ever with lots of free samples and services. We saw Dean Karnazes speak. We got there late and we were way in the back so I don’t have a lot to say about him. He was a good speaker and even from a distance looked extremely fit. We got tons of sample products and got our alignment tested. I’m all out of whack and Tim is damn near perfect.

We were able to get a late checkout from our hotel, The Quality Inn. This was great because we had a long drive home and being able to take a hot shower after the race was worth an extra Yelp point. The race was only 4 blocks from the hotel so I put on almost all my clothes. I was still cold.

For the first couple miles I looked like a sleeping bag with legs in my puffy coat. I was sweating with it on but too cold without it. Around mile 4 I donated it to the charity bin and went with too cold.

The first part of the race had some beautiful views of Seattle. This was a large race and we could see runners on the bridge forever.

Seattle marathon - runners

And there were more behind us

The crowd support was amazing. Super kudos to those out supporting friends, family, and strangers. I saw some great signs – “I don’t do marathons, I do marathoners”, “Go you” and my favorite “Time goes by so fast, Running helps slow it down”.

Seattle marathon -

For more information about the Blerch check out The Oatmeal

One of my ongoing complaints (Olympics!) is cambered roads. They weren’t as bad in Seattle as in Eugene but enough to make running awkward. Luckily we were soon out of the city and onto a nice park path road. There were also some real hills in this race. I just walk them and save myself for the downhill.

Running through the arboretum was beautiful, but what was all that fluffy white stuff on the ground? I couldn’t get over the fact that I was running through snow. A couple sections were coned off because of large patches of ice. This is the first time I have ever had to watch my footing because of ice during a run. I don’t like running on ice. Lets add that to my complaint list, although I must admit that trying not to fall on my already frozen ass while slipping on ice was a great core workout.

Seattle marathon - Snow

What the hell?

By mile 10 of this race my only goal, except to finish, was to beat those damn Gallowayers, which I did. At the very end a guy kicked hard and tried to pass me and I was like – oh no you don’t, so it was an all out sprint at the end. He didn’t pass me.

Wonderful Tim cheered me in and met me at the other side with hot tea. I got my medal and a Mylar blanket. We have 3 of them now. They had a warm recovery area. I was never so grateful to sit down and have a cup of hot tea. Once I stopped running I got really cold. Even after a hot shower I felt cold on the drve home. Tim was down to a T-Shirt while I had 2 jackets over my shirt.

Seattle marathon - Finished

In heated recovery area – still cold


  • Unseasonably cold weather complete with snow and ice
  • Small amount of cambered roads
  • Some traffic with annoyed drivers
  • The medal was small and nothing special
  • So many cups littering the road that it was as dangerous as the ice
  • No race day packet pickup
  • Like most large races, it was spendy


  • Fast and easy packet pickup
  • Great expo with speakers and lots of free stuff
  • Long sleeve tech shirt
  • Scenic views of city and park
  • Friendly volunteers (they will even cheerfully open a Gu)
  • Place to donate clothing
  • Great crowd support (fun signs)
  • Heated recovery area
  • After expo with hot and cold food
  • Lots of timing mats to catch cheaters
  • Crews working hard to salt ice
  • A really good, positive, friendly vibe

Unfortunately my perception of this race was influenced by the weather. I think I would recommend it. Even half frozen I couldn’t help but notice how scenic the course was. The volunteers were super friendly, especially considering how cold it was and they had such frequent aid stations that I didn’t need my handheld. I hate running on cambered roads but that was a very small part of the course. I would say that this race is beginner friendly but be aware that the course is not flat. It is a large race so be prepared for crowds. I think this is the largest race we have done so there is zero chance of getting lost. In spite of the cold this race had a good vibe. I will leave you with this advise – do not try the soup. It came in two flavors, tomato basil vomit and ginger carrot vomit. We amused ourselves for a couple minutes watching people take soup, try soup, make face, throw soup away.

Seattle marathon

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