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Posts tagged ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’

A new PR in PDX: Part III (Race edition)


Finally! The race report! My apologies for this coming a couple days after the second part of this series. Yesterday I went to graduation for the community college I work for as a journalism instructor. This was the first time in three years I had students walking (many choose not to), so I was really excited.

But it turned into a very long day.

In any case, on race day Sam and I woke up at 6 a.m. The race began about .7 miles from our hotel two hours later. We knew we wouldn’t have to walk far. We also knew we could chill for awhile beforehand. I can’t say I had any “race day” nerves. In fact, my anxiety has become a lot better lately when dealing with larger crowds (hence, participating in graduation).

The good news? It had stopped raining. In fact, it looked to be a fairly nice day. The skies were a bit overcast, though. Perfect running weather.

We called down to the hotel front desk and asked for a late checkout. I know that seems like the most importune time to do so, but the desk clerk kept telling us we had to come back and ask. Finally, when we went downstairs to actually leave for the race, they told us we could check out at 2 p.m. That meant we could stick around for a bit at the finish.

We headed down in tank tops to the start. Sam needed water so we stopped at a little store along the way. But instead of buying regular water, she bought sparkling water.

Too bad we didn’t notice until AFTER we filled our water bottles up. Great, I thought, this is not going to be good for my already shaky digestive system.

It wasn’t too long after that we came into the main staging area. And stopped at my predictable pre-race hangout.


Hello portable toilets! This was the same race that offered portable toilets in a premium area for a discounted fee. We waited in line less than 10 minutes, so we really didn’t need them.

After our stop at the “Honey Buckets,” because that’s what they are called in Portland, we headed to my corral.


We figured the wait for our start, in corral 14, would take a bit. But they actually held us back a lot longer than we thought. I think seven or eight corrals before us took off before they finally started letting us move forward.

The corrals went all the way back to the Hawthrone Bridge, which we could run over as we made our way to mile five. The people seemed to stretch on forever.


Some people complained later on the event’s Facebook page that they couldn’t hear anything all the way back near the underpass. I can imagine why.

My Garmin has me making my way across the start line at 8:16 a.m.

And we were off…

Mile 1: 10:07 — I think the best thing I ever did was sign up for the 2:20 corral for this race. This is my starting pace. This is my comfort zone. I didn’t have weave around people like I do in later corrals. I think I found “my” corral.

Mile 2: 10:14 — The initial route takes runners along the shore past the second bridge we’d be crossing, near the finish. A lot of flat here, in this mile a small downhill.

Mile 3: 9:46 — This mile has a tiny, gradual uphill. I don’t know how I managed this number at all.

Mile 4: 10:37 — The climbs begin. Not significant, but not small either. I think my legs are always a little shocked when I start climbing. Here I came into the first water/Gatorade stop I walked through. I also downed my first Gu of the race (though I’d had one before the race).

Mile 5: 9:36 — Anyone ever tell you that Gu doesn’t work? It does! Plus, there was a nice downhill here that went a long ways toward this number. I think this race was defined by shorter uphills with longer downhills.

Mile 6: 11:10 — Which is likely why my IT band was starting to throb right in the middle of the race. I think a combination of sitting on the plane and worrying that my Tiger Tail would get confiscated by airport security added to this. I couldn’t roll adequately the night before the race. And I’ve been having a lot of issues with my IT band lately. (Though I have to say, a full Smartwater bottle worked really well as a roller.) This area was the most boring part of the race, through industrial and port areas.

Mile 7: 10:58 —The biggest hill begins. And it was no joke. I ran as long as I could before starting a brisk walk uphills. Not as steep as a San Francisco hill, but fairly long.

Mile 8: 12:10 — The biggest bulk of the hill was in this mile. This would have been longer without the small downhill at nearly the top of the hill. I realized, after I finished this hill, that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. What’s happening to me? I took another Gu.

Mile 9: 10:59 — We start making our way through cute neighborhoods where children are giving high fives. Lots of nice houses. People cheering with cowbells.

Mile 10: 10:33 —I felt like the Gu was starting to kick in. My leg, at this point, is really bothering me.

Mile 11: 11:07 —This was my wall. My leg hurt. My stomach was starting to flutter. I wasn’t even considering time. I felt like I could “walk it in” and still be OK with it.

Mile 12: 10:30 —And then something happened. I can’t explain it without mentioning that it’s something new. Ever since I had my gallbladder removed, I’ve had this ability to REALLY pull deep within myself. I look at my watch now and realize something else is happening: I’m running a 2:20 half marathon. On a tougher course than Oakland. I’m an honest-to-God 2:20 half marathoner. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Mile 13: 9:56 — So I ran. I ran like I’d never run before. Because suddenly I didn’t care about my weight, or the cupcakes I ate, or my job, or the plane trip home or the fact that I was surrounded by thousands of other people. I hit the final downhill conservatively and then used everything I had stored in me to push to the finish.

.19: 1.41 (8.47 average) — The truth: I have never, not in any race I’ve done, pushed that hard to finish. I wanted it so bad. If I was two minutes off a PR? Whatever. I probably wouldn’t have. Maybe I would have. I don’t know.

Official time: 2:19:23

If I said I wanted to cry, I’d probably get teased because that seems to be a thing for me lately after races. It’s hard, though, to put into words what training for three years, non-stop, without achieving any sort of new PR for six to eight months at a time can do to a person. I was failing in my races. I had one good one last August. Everything else was just blah. I never found the passion to push forward like I did that day.

Not until recently.

I ran a 2:19:23 half marathon. Oh my God. I don’t know who I’m becoming. I’m completely serious.

You’re probably wondering what’s changed, outside of the missing gallbladder. I’m prone to hyperbole, but my answer now is honest: Everything.

Every damn thing about my life has changed. For the better. And the running? It’s just coming along for the ride.


My mom texted me soon after. I told her. I tried to call my husband who never picks up his phone. Then I went and grabbed as much food as I could and headed to find a spot to wait for Sam, who was making some good time of her own compared to her experience in Pasadena earlier this year.

I bought myself the obligatory PR shirt. I buy one for myself after every race I PR at. It’s kind of my deal to myself since I promised myself I wouldn’t intentionally buy running clothes for awhile. The PR shirt is different because I always feel like I earned it.

And at that point I was dumping heat. Know how you know you had a good run? You dump a ton of heat within 30 minutes of finishing.

When Sam finished, we hung out for a little bit. But I think we both wanted a shower more than we wanted to sit around and wait any longer. That said, we did try to visit Voodoo Doughnut for a second time that day only to be left empty handed again. Instead, we headed back up to the hotel.We did stop and ask a nice guy to take our photo.


Because nothing says friendship like being wrapped in space blankets with a ton of excess freebies between you. And race medals. Of course race medals completely say friendship.

And remember I mentioned the sparkling water? I barely drank out of my water bottle. This was one of the first races I really relied on the water stations. But it was cool outside and still overcast when I finished. I can’t imagine what I would have done if I needed the 15 ounces or so still left in my bottle. (I know I could have poured it out and started over, but I was too busy PRing.)

The rest of the day focused on two things: 1) Finally getting Voodoo Doughnut (which we did) and 2) Getting back to airport to fly out of Portland.

Had we of known Portland a little better, we would have not walked multiple extra blocks to the train station. It was my fault really.

Earlier in the day, after the half marathon, I literally told Sam where our train stop was to get back to the airport. And then I proceeded to forget it completely. And walk us around in circles.

By 5:10 p.m. we were heading back to the plane en route to Oakland.


Ladies and gentlemen, we went the route of the H-O loading doors. Again with my juvenile humor. I’m not sorry.

It felt nice to finally relax on the plane, even though I knew by the time we got back to Oakland an hour and 55 minutes later I would be all cramped up and lucky to walk.

But I kind of feel like, in a way, my luck has returned a little.


I got to go to a beautiful city for a race. I got to run my first out-of-state race. I got to hang out with a friend. I didn’t pay sales tax for more than 24 hours. I ran a solid race. I had an amazing time.

In two weeks I run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. I’m excited for that one too. Even if I don’t PR, I’m excited because lately I’ve just felt lucky to race. And lucky to run.

Something is definitely happening to me.

Rockin’ to a course best in Pasadena: Part II


I left off my last post eluding to what a night Sam and I had. Last year, I kept getting woken up by some annoying children in a room above us. When I booked this year’s hotel, I didn’t want to stay at that place again. It had paper-thin walls. I didn’t know when I booked this year’s hotel that it was, essentially, right across the street.

We went to bed around 10 p.m. because we had to wake up at 4:30 a.m.

Yes, that early. I felt like I was running the first half of the San Francisco Marathon all over again. Way to early. But we were told to get to the Rose Bowl by 5:15 a.m. even though the race didn’t start until 7:30 a.m.

We were tired. I figured we’d go to sleep pretty fast. That didn’t happen. We kept hearing screaming downstairs, people basically yelling things like “woo!” and other crap. I’m not kidding with the “woo!” it was so annoying. I think both of us literally got only four hours of sleep by the time our alarms went off.

We rolled out of bed and were rather efficient in getting up and out early. Our drive was less than five miles. We were there, trekking down the hill into the Rose Bowl parking lots before most other cars did.

Our reward for getting there so early? An awesome parking spot.


We were literally less than 100 yards from the starting corrals. Plus we were right across from a row of portable toilets. (Is it weird that I thought this was a pretty sight? The Rose Bowl sign in the background and all the portable toilets.)

It was a nice enough spot that we stayed in the car for about an hour. We kept the heater running and just kind of hung out as everyone walked by. At about 6:30 a.m. we decided it was time to check out the pre-race snacks and head to the portable toilets were knew were clean.


It wasn’t as crazy as last year, when I swear there weren’t as many porto-potties. But the morning was really, really cold.

I opted not to wear a long-sleeve shirt because I knew I’d end up taking if off. So I was freezing cold walking around. I was jumping up and down and even slightly running in order to get warm again.


The ground was still frozen when Sam and I headed to check out the banana booth. Bagels were also being handed out. I grabbed a small water. Sam took a banana, which she only ate half of.

As she was folding it up, a woman walked by and said: “Oh…save that for later, after you start the run!” We both kind of looked at each other and wondered where Sam was supposed to “save it for later.”

She figured out a way, tucked into the new water belt she bought at the expo the day before.


We were sure it would fall out though, so she just threw the rest of it away. (Sorry people who think that’s wasteful.)

By the time we finished going to the bathroom and getting fueled up, which included my pre-race Vanilla Bean Gu, it was time to hit the corral. We both worked our way over to corral six, which was the 2:20 corral. When I signed up I had no idea I’d be having my gallbladder removed only five weeks before.

The day was going decent so far.


After the National Anthem and some other talk, the start line began moving exactly at 7:30 a.m. It was then I realized I had to go to the bathroom again. I’m not even kidding. The anxiety had gotten to me as it had previously. And I had nowhere to go but out of the shoot, since the corrals were being released every two minutes.


That’s how far back we were initially. We’d be up there within minutes. Not enough time for me to go. So I decided to start the race and figure it out on the way, meaning I’d find another blue-wonder porto-potty along the run.

And that’s how I started the run.

Mile 1: 10:13 — Starting out strong and didn’t feel like I was going this fast. Maybe it was because I had to go to the bathroom, but I kind of kept going. I jammed up the first hill, which I thought was a bit of a monster last year. We hit a mile at about the top of the hill.

Mile 2: 11:42 — I actually didn’t slow down my mile pace here. I found a bathroom. I actually commandeered it, only the second time I’ve ever done so. I didn’t feel bad about it this time either. There were two rows of bathrooms, four on the front, hour on the back. There was also a portable toilet set up for persons with disability. No one was in the toilets on the back. So I grabbed one. It probably added about a minute or so onto my time, but I had to go. And I got a toilet without waiting. Score.

Mile 3: 11:19 — The largest hill here. I ran up it most the way, slowing down a little to stay consistent.

Mile 4: 10:28 — The start of another downhill. Still feeling good.

Mile 5: 10:24 — Getting consistent now. No issues. Not feeling tired. Downed another Vanilla Bean Gu right here.

Mile 6: 10:33 — Starting to really see the time I was running. I wondered if I should keep pushing it, or if I should pull back a little. This was also the start of the later out and backs that then take runners back to the main street.

Mile 7: 11:27 — Decided to pull back a little. I start getting a twitch in my ITB band on my right side. I wondered if that would be the end of the good run.

Mile 8: 11:04 — Still feeling really good despite some more hills. Not too bad.

Mile 9: 12:21 — The worst of the hills. I slowed down a little bit. A huge hill. I walked up the last little bit to the top. I was starting to get tired. I downed another Gu. I was really in need of water.

Mile 10: 11:08 — This mile was mostly downhill, but I was trying to be conservative in my approach. I didn’t want my leg to give up on me like it did last year in mile 10 of this run.

Mile 11: —12:30 — Then I hit the WALL. I rarely hit the wall in half marathons these days. But I hit it hard here. I could see the finish line as we started around the Rose Bowl and adjacent golf course. This is also where I started to experience a little bit of the dizzy spells I’ve been having since the surgery, just generally feeling off center.

Mile 12: 13:04 — Which let to me running into a woman en route to finishing this mile. I actually didn’t really run into her as much as body checking her. I was so embarrassed. I nearly took her out with me. I had a moment where I nearly collapsed. She grabbed my arm and asked: “Are you OK?” I put myself back together and explained I had surgery weeks before and still wasn’t feeling very stable on long runs. “Should you even be running?” she asked, surprised. “I’m at mile 11, so I’m doing OK.”

Then I ran off. So if you are the lady who was concerned about the slightly drunk-looking runner in mile 12, I’m sorry. I wasn’t drunk. I just run off centered lately and tend to veer toward the right side. Forgive me. I felt bad long after that.

Mile 13: 10:14 — And then I found something in me that I’d lost for about a year. I found a will to continue, despite the pain and slight confusion. I was so “on.” I kept saying: “Run, Tara, just run.” And I ran. And I passed the 2:30 pacers. And suddenly it wasn’t about “just finishing” anymore. It was about getting in under my time from last year.

Mile .21: 2:04 (9:51 pace) — I high-tailed it up the hill and ran down the shoot and looked at my time. I managed to cut off 20 minutes from my time last year. That’s huge.

Official time: 2:28:21

Garmin time: 2:28:36

And my first thought: What the hell just happened?

I walked through the finishers corral, picked up all the fun drinks and snacks and made my way back to the closely-parked car. I figured I’d get a bag so that Sam and I had a place to put everything when she finished.

I called my husband. I told him about the run.

Then I went and sat down by the “G” marker, for other reason than that’s just where I wanted to sit.


That’s where I drank my fat free chocolate milk and pondered how in five weeks I’d got from being in a hospital bed to running one of the best half marathons of my life.

And because it was one of the best half marathons of my life, I broke my self-imposed rule about buying running clothes, with my husband’s blessing of course.


So what happened in those five weeks. A lot. Everything. I went from self-loathing to being confident. I also realized that I had it in me all along. Somewhere in the ridiculous journey of the past five months, I’ve realized that I’m stronger than I think. And I’m better at running than I gave myself credit for.

Pasadena wasn’t supposed to be my “A” race, but I’m comfortable kind of letting it be for a minute. Oakland was my new “A” race even though it’s only two weeks before I run a marathon in April. Sometimes we surprised ourselves with just how much we want something.

I wanted this race. I needed this race to prove that after all the work-related crap, I was just as strong, if not stronger, than I was before it all happened. My friend Jennie tells me bad things happen for a reason. She believe my reason is to prepare me for something better. Nowhere did I feel that more than sitting under the “G” sign in Pasadena after finishing a half marathon I had no business running five weeks after having an organ removed.

But it felt amazing.

To top it off, Sam and I checked out the Far East Movement playing at the end of the run.

I’m not a huge fan, but they put on a pretty good show. We got back to our hotel by the noon hour where we quickly showered than jumped back into my car to head back to Northern California.

I wasn’t expecting it to go as well as it did, if only because last year was a disaster and the scars from the surgery are still bright red and fresh. But Pasadena turned into a redeeming run for me. Now it’s time to train for the flatter, faster Oakland.

Rockin’ to a course best in Pasadena: Part I


There’s always a little bit of anxiety when you start toward a race expo, especially one that’s more than 300 miles away. Why? A lot can happen in three hours. Between traffic and other things, it’s always best to start out a little earlier than normal and hope that there are no snags along the way.

On Saturday, there were no snags. None whatsoever. Everything seemed a bit too easy.

My running buddy Sam and I hit the road at about 10 a.m. from Mountain House, which is west of Tracy. It’s also the place I do a lot of my runs.

We hopped on Interstate 5 and just kept on going. We only had to stop once, about 50 miles before The Grapevine, the stretch of road that takes drivers from the valley floor over the Tehachapi Mountains. On one side, there’s an expanse of land before you, on the other a metropolis.

We made the long journey on one tank of gas plus some. And we arrived in Pasadena around 3 p.m., which gave us ample time to scope out the expo.

Pasadena is only in its second year as a “tour stop” for Rock ‘n’ Roll, so the expo is still relatively small in comparison to the flagship San Diego run. It didn’t take us long to work out way through the bib pickup, even with a small wait for our $10 parking pass for the Rose Bowl.


Speaking of which, a lot of people were really upset about the whole “pay-to-park” thing. Most of the other races don’t required it. I’ve been in a lot of races that actually make concessions and find people places to park. Apparently other Rose Bowl-hosted races don’t require this. Because we had paid last year, waited in the traffic and hung out in the morning, Sam and I were prepared for all this crazy.

I purchased the pass ahead of time.

We picked up our red Brooks event shirts and our swag bags and headed into the expo where we quickly bypassed the Brooks area, outside of checking out a very interesting display with fake beer.


Fake beer is the way to sell pint glasses, I must say. But I didn’t buy one. We kind of just ran through that area because I’m on a “no new clothes” kick right now. I didn’t even look.

Sam and I checked out all the booths and she picked up some new running equipment. A fire at her house late last year means she has absolutely no gear. We picked up a new bottle set for her, which was a discounted $15 and had four small bottles and a place to stash stuff. Plus, it was Nike, so she got a deal.


I loved this label on another belt she looked at. Penguins. For penguin runners? I don’t know. I kind of consider myself a penguin.

The sad part of the expo was that we didn’t find the “cake booth.” It’s some sort of organic, healthy cake that we’ve seen at multiple Rock ‘n’ Roll expos. The reps at the booth gave out these amazing slices of cake, with frosting even, that were incredibly delicious and apparently good for you as well.


See all those awesome running clothes? I didn’t buy any at the expo. I was so proud of myself.

The real purpose, though, of our expo visit outside of picking up our stuff was to hit up the main Rock ‘n’ Roll booth. Sam has a Tour Pass for this year, meaning she pays a flat amount and can run as many races as possible. I’m really noncommittal about races going into the later part of the year after I run two marathons in the first six months, so I didn’t go that route.

Sam wants to run San Diego again.

After last year’s disastrous run there, I was reluctant. I kept waiting for the course map to be posted online. By the time it was, the price had gone up. So my only chance to register at a lower price was to do so at the expo.

So we ventured to the booth to do so.


I saved $15. The downside? We didn’t register for the 2014 Pasadena run for $70, which will be the lowest price all year. But I really hate making a decision on something like that this far in advance.

For registering, I also got a Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego T-shirt, which was pretty rocking.

After those few things, we were kind of done at the expo.


So we left. By then it was later than it was last year when we finished. We had planned on meeting one of my friends for dinner. But we saw that the Macy’s across the street from the expo was having a closing sale.

So we went.

Because we needed shoes and all.

Not really. But we bought shoes.


We were starting to get a little hungry though, so I sent my friend a text message. We hadn’t yet checked in our hotel room. But both of us were more tired than we thought we would be anyway. My friend was caught up with something, which was a bummer, but we figured since we were already out, we’d find a place to eat.

Last year we ate at this ridiculously bad seafood place right down the street from where we stayed. We both still laugh at how bad the service was and how bad the food was.

This time, we found a great Mexican place. Both of us ordered fajitas.

The food totally made up for last year’s horrible fare.


It was amazing. Plus, we had a ton of leftovers that we both of us ate when we got all the way home the next day. The food was just as good as leftovers.

We finally checked in to our hotel room around 7 p.m. Saturday. The room was nice, toasty and, we thought, would be a little more quiet than last year when we heard people above us making loud noises all night long.

We were so wrong.

Another one of my friend’s stopped by for about an hour to catch up (I know a lot of people in the Los Angeles area, more than I ever think I do). Then it was off to bed for a 4:30 a.m. wake up even though we were only four miles away from the race start.

Why so early? The parking lot closes at 6:15 a.m. for the 7:30 a.m. start.

Unfortunately we didn’t fall asleep all that well. Instead, we heard people screaming in the parking lot and on E. Colorado Blvd. at midnight. It was ridiculous. Both of us woke up numerous times. It seemed our hotel management did nothing to make it stop. In fact, unlike most the hotels I’ve been to, this one’s lobby wasn’t even open at 5 a.m. when we headed down to my car.

It was still dark when we ventured to the Rose Bowl.

Something amazing happened today


I can’t explain it. I don’t think I even want to try really.

I knocked 20 minutes off my course time from last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon. I had a couple challenges, including kind of running into a woman at mile 12 (there will be much for elaboration on that later), but I ran my little heart out. I left everything on the streets of Pasadena.

I picked up when I was dragging. I powered up hills as quickly as I could.

I had moments when I slowed down, when I walked and when I wanted to give up.

But when I saw the 2:30 pacer ahead of me just slightly, I pushed it at the end.

“Just run, Tara. Just run,” I kept saying to myself.

And I finished in 2:28:21 officially.

My first thought: Oh my God. I just ran my my fourth best half marathon. Five weeks after surgery that derailed my entire training plan for this run. I’m not even sure how it happened. It was even a tougher course than I’m used to, with rolling hills and gradual inclines and declines throughout.

I sat waiting for my running buddy to finish and literally said out loud: THAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

Hours later, including a four hour car trip home, I’m still in shock about how well I did today. Only last week I was debating not even making the trip. I was thinking there was no way I’d be ready to run the race. There was every reason for me to fail.

But I didn’t. I’m hoping this bodes well for the “new” Tara, sans gallbladder and all that’s been weighing me down for the past year.

Going through the motions

And getting ready to head down to Pasadena early on Saturday morning.

I’ve been working on a really awesome website renovation this week, that today kind of made me frustrated. So instead of waiting for SQL databases to behave appropriately, I decided it as time to get ready for the ride to southern California. I started clearing out, mind you not “cleaning out,” but “clearing out” my car.

I keep a lot of jackets, scarves and other items in my car. So I decided to get it washed. Professionally. I’ve only had it for six months.


It took about an hour (the car wash was really busy on a nice 70-degree day here in northern California). But my car is bright and shiny. I went and got a tank of gas as well ($80! Prices are going up again).

Then I headed to Target to pick up some needed supplies. I haven’t traveled anywhere since December for California International Marathon, so I had a few toiletries to gather.

When I got home, I was greeted to a package from Road Runner Sports.

It was my two new pairs of LunarEclipse +2s.


And they are actually pretty cute. I kept putting off buying this color before because I thought they would be black and too dark. The color is actually more of a dark gray.

One of the boxes was completely trashed. The other was in decent shape. So I replaced the broken box with one I already had, then I put both pairs up in my closet for “when the time comes.” That means the first pair of these to be used will probably come out in June sometime, likely before I run the San Francisco Marathon.

I’ve been slowly gathering my running clothes and other essential items all day in preparation for the journey down and the actual run. I hate to say it but my anxiety is peaking a little.

I’d like to think that was prompted by the $1,200 in hospital bills I just got from my gallbladder removal (seriously, if they were going to charge me that much, they should have at least let me keep it to take home in a jar). Yikes.

So I’m a little jumpy tonight. It makes “going through the motions” all that much harder, but I’m trying to breathe, relax and know that no matter what I can run 13.1 miles. I’ve done it before, many times. It may not be the best run I’ve ever done, but it will be OK. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I’m not sure if it’s working to calm me at all. But I kind of feel like hitting the road and just going will be the push I need to be more “present” and, maybe even “participate.”

Speaking of the last sentence, if you haven’t seen “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” I highly recommend it. I actually can’t recommend it enough.


I read the book when I was 14 for the first time, back when it was just a little MTV novel that no one had ever heard of. By the time I graduated from high school in 2002, nearly everyone I knew that had any sort of taste in literature had read it. I spent years imagining what Charlie would sound like if he was ever brought to life.

When the movie came out last year, there were no local theaters showing it. The nearest one was about 30 minutes away and I just never got to see it. So when it came out on Tuesday, I made a night out of it. I ran the day before so I didn’t have to run that night.

I picked up dinner from a drive-thru fundraising dinner that I had purchased tickets from weeks before and headed home, immediately putting on the movie. I even went to two different Target stores to make sure I got the super-low priced BluRay for $16.99.

Call me cheesy, but the moment I heard Charlie’s voice for the first time, I had a bit of a moment. I guess it was kind of living seeing the opening screen of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. I had a moment. (I’m completely aware of how big of a dork I sound like right now. I don’t even care.)

I may put it on now as I finish packing all my stuff up for the road trip.

On expectation and reality


I made a confession yesterday that I’m now feeling less anxious about saying out loud: I may not be ready to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon this weekend.

I’ve been thinking it for weeks. I only started really feeling it and wanting to be open about it 14 hours ago.

I told myself I needed at least three 10-milers to be OK with this training cycle. I’ve done two. The first one was a horrible struggle. Less than halfway through I felt like keeling over and just dying. Or at least disappearing into the ground.

Over the weekend, I told myself I’d do another. Then I went wine tasting and was having an amazing day with friends when my now gallbladderless body decided to rebel against me majorly for the first time since my surgery.

I had a margarita with dinner out at a restaurant. I ate barbecue chicken, coleslaw, corn and a bunch of other things. Within twenty minutes of eating, I found myself in the bathroom and (sorry, this may be TMI) throwing up everything I’d eaten during the day. My body wasn’t having it. I felt horrible.

I put off Sunday’s run for as long as I could, until Sunday was over.

I worked from home on Monday, straight through lunch and into the afternoon. At about 2:30 p.m. I decided it was time to put out or get out, for lack of a better term.

I started running. I didn’t stop for 10 miles.

It wasn’t a horrible run. I hit my training thresholds. I just felt completely unprepared after.

Why? Because my training runs haven’t really been “training” runs lately. I haven’t used Gu. I haven’t paid attention to hydration. In fact, my biggest concern has been my abdominal comfort and not overdoing it too soon. I never expected to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder last month. Doctors didn’t even know what it was, after years of tests and a previous surgery, so there was no way I could have prepared for any of this in my training cycle.

I look back now and realize I was living with a ton of pain. When I woke up in the hospital after my surgery, I hurt like hell where they put holes in me. But I also remember feeling something I hadn’t for awhile: no underlying abdomen pain. I guess the human body can withstand certain thresholds of discomfort and even make them normal. My pain was normal for me.

My expectation after the surgery was that I’d be up and running in a matter of weeks. The reality has been a lot harder.

My husband asked if I could switch to the 10K. I kindly told him there was no 10K option, which would likely have been far for doable for me in my current state.


Instead, I’ll be venturing down to Pasadena to try my luck against a four-hour window in which I have every reason to fail. My running buddy actually assured me that I couldn’t do worse than her since she hasn’t run over four miles in forever. I, somehow, do not feel better about this whole thing.

The problem with signing up for races too far in advance is that most people don’t know what happens between the moment you hit “register” and the  moment you are at the start line.

In a perfect world, you would be fully trained by the time the gun goes off. Many people are not. Those who are may or may not have skipped or skimped one or more of their runs. There are cramps, torn ligaments, strains and sprains that set training back. There are unexpected events, whether personal or physical.

“Life is full of setbacks,” one of my old Lululemon bags I now use for my lunch has written on it. “Success is determined by how you handle those setbacks.”

I can’t help but think that Pasadena will be a critical point for my personal and athletic setbacks. My last race was weeks before I went back to work in December. This is my first race since I put all of that crap behind me. My husband tells me to just put one foot in front of the other.

“I’ve never seen you quit a race,” he said.

He’s right. Even at mile 18 in the pouring-down-rain 2012 version of the California International Marathon, I kept going. Even when my feet where waterlogged and my soaked shoes were tearing up my feet (my black toenails are the result of all that fun now), I kept going. But that now seems like forever ago, even though it was only December.

It seems like another Tara. In many ways, it is. She had a gallbladder, for one. She also never missed a training run despite a bevy of personal issues keeping her from being around people, even talking to people in some cases.

I’ll admit, I’m a little scared to see what the trip to Pasadena, the run and the aftermath has in store for this new Tara.

In my mailbox

For the second time in less than a week, I was greeted with a little package in my mailbox when I came home. This time it was my “triple crown” medal from the Rock ‘n’ Roll series.

I completed three of the company’s runs this year to earn this hefty piece of metal:

Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

– Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon (No race recap for this one, because it was lame)

I love the extra bling from this series, but I’ll admit, I don’t find these runs all they are cracked up to be. Three of my worst racing experiences this year have been from Rock ‘n’ Roll races.

And yet, I’m signed up to do Pasadena again, everything going right, in February with hopes of avenging my time.

But I don’t plan on doing San Diego again, instead subbing in another marathon in the spring and then a summer marathon in San Francisco.

Also in my mailbox yesterday: My new Running Times magazine.

It has a lot of good articles in it about training. I’ve been reading it since I opened it up.

I remember always hoping to get something in the mail when I was a child living at home. I usually never would, but when I did it was really exciting. When I got a little older, we’d tease my brothers and give them the letters addressed to “occupant” or “resident.” These days all I get are bills and other no-fun adult documents.

So it’s nice to open the mailbox and have something a little awesome every now and then. And these medals are definitely awesome.

Ever had one of those weeks?

I should name this the “post in which I tell you that I’m not writing a race review for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon.”


Epic technology failures.

My week has seen enough of them already to make me really feel, again, like I looked before the beginning of the half marathon this past weekend.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my angry face. It’s my “I’m looking at you and my mouth is askew because I can’t say what I really want to.” I had said face at the beginning of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon because there was no pacer in my corral.

I had a goal. I was told a pacer would be there. No pacer.

I should have known then it would be a bad run. I should have laughed it off.

But for some reason I can’t laugh anything off this week.

I’m four for four on days with technology issues. Not just at work, but at home too.

Servers not working. Equipment not connecting. Images not appearing. All by no fault of my own (seriously, I haven’t brought down a server in some time). All taking away from time I needed for other assignments and projects.

Add on top of that a very glitchy-as-of-late Garmin that I had to do a master reset on this morning, thereby erasing all my data from the past three weeks, and I’m not a happy runner this morning.

Then, my six-year-old 17-inch multimedia special edition laptop died. I want to cry. It’s the computer I built my masters project for University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism on. It’s been my go-to computer for the past four years.

And the hard drive just keeps trying to load. And load. And load. Windows XP keeps saying “not happening.”

This week sucks. I can’t even sugarcoat it. I’m afraid to leave my house and head to the Nike Women’s Marathon Expotique in San Francisco now, but I will be shortly.

Since my primary blogging laptop died and my Garmin has no data, there will be no Rock ‘n’ Roll race recap. I’m actually pretty good with that. Why? I can sum of the experience succinctly: Started good, stomach hurt, threw up, kept going, got sick again, finished nine minutes above last year’s time.

No other technological devices failed in the writing of this blog.

But it’s still early.


Some bad news, some good news

Today didn’t go as well as planned at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I finished nine minutes over my PR from last year at 2:36:13.

My problems started at mile three. By mile eight, I was keeled over on the side of the street throwing up. (Sorry for the blunt honesty right there, but there’s no real easy way to say it. Maybe, expelling all my Gu on the streets of San Jose?)

At mile ten, I had another episode. I honestly had a moment where I didn’t think I’d be finishing the race. Then I pulled it together and pushed my hardest.

Today was bad, because I didn’t reach either of my goals for the race.

It was good for a completely different reason.

I don’t write about my job(s) a lot, mainly because I’d rather not get into too much about work on my running blog. But today, I want to share a link to a story I wrote.

It started as a blog post in response to Wisconsin anchorwoman Jennifer Livingston’s on-air response to a letter from a concerned reader about her weight. I had something very, very similar happen to me in 2009.

Full time, I edit a newspaper website. But I’m also a writer. I was a writer before I learned how to code HTML, interpret CSS or shoot and edit video. Today, I revealed a very personal part of myself in an article in the newspaper.

It’s here (with a wedding photo of me even! Another thing I don’t often share because my husband and I have different last names professionally and I typically like to keep that aspect of my life private too).

It’s kind of nice that the story ran today, if only because today was one of those bad runs I address in the story. From each run, we learn something not to do for the next. (For this one, I think having an upset stomach for four days is probably not the best thing to run a half marathon while dealing with.)

Either way, I wanted to share it with my readers. It’s more revealing than I am on here sometimes, though I aim to be candid on my blog as well.

I’ll post a full race recap later this week. Just to warn: it won’t be pretty.


A mileage milestone

A couple days ago, I did something today without even realizing it. I hadn’t been counting my miles too much, outside of my mileage per month, so I didn’t know how close I was to surpassing my mileage from 2011.

Then, after my five-mile run this morning, I realized that I had accumulated 934 miles for the year.

In 2011, I ran 930.

Today, with my run I surpassed that with 934.

That means I’m only 76 miles away from 1,000, which was my ultimate goal for 2012. By the end of October, I should be well over that now if my marathon planning stays on track.

I was so excited, I posted it to Twitter, which also feeds to my Facebook account.

What does this mean? It means, despite my thinking otherwise, my training is on track. It means I’m running a lot more, despite not being in as many races. And, most importantly, it means I’m enjoying running enough more now that I want to do it all the time. All good things.

I’m looking forward to my upcoming half marathon this weekend in San Jose, that with a combination of midweek runs should get me to a nice number by the end of October.