Thursday, November 9, 2017

GOTR Volunteer Spotlight...RePost from GOTR PDX

Volunteer Spotlight
Coach, Running Buddy, Site Liaison, and Team Adelaide Member Cyndie Pelto

Volunteers are the backbone of Girls on the Run, working tirelessly behind the scenes to help us run a successful program. To highlight their efforts, we are spotlighting a different Girls on the Run volunteer each month.
This month's volunteer is 7-time Coach, Oak Hills Elementary Site Liaison, Running Buddy, and Team Adelaide member Cyndie Pelto. Here are some of her thoughts on being a GOTR volunteer:

How did you first hear about Girls on the Run?
I read about a need for Running Buddies in a Run Oregon article that Kelly Barton wrote in 2011. I convinced my friends, Kristine and Jen, to do it with me. We were randomly assigned girls that needed buddies from Harrison Park. That was a game changer for me. Kristine and Jen have been buddies for my team ever since! 

What motivated you to become a Girls on the Run volunteer?
I was a 3rd grade teacher before staying home with my kiddos, and loved everything about the program that I learned in my 2 short interactions with my buddy. After experiencing the program as a buddy, I knew my community elementary school would readily accept this program. We have a strong running community, and several running programs at our school. I was serving as the PTO president, and combined efforts with one of our 3rd grade teachers, Caryn Damore. We decided we could run 2 teams... and Oak Hills has successfully filled 2 teams ever since!

Do you have a favorite Girls on the Run story?
After 7 seasons of coaching Girls on the Run and Heart and Sole, I have many. I love each season for different reasons. I'm so proud of the many community service projects we've taken on (2 car washes! 2 Community Fun Runs!), and so proud of how we've celebrated with each other for various accomplishments (Caryn's going to BOSTON BABY!). I will also always remember how we've handled difficult situations with the girls, from the Boston Bombings to individual family heartbreaks like divorce and cancer diagnosis. One girl's comment to a discussion we were having about friendships stuck with me over the years. We were talking about how it's important to surround yourself with people who lift you up and are honest with you. We were also having our snack (pretzels and cheese sticks...a favorite) at the time. She commented, "Friends are like the salt on pretzels. Some stick, and some fall away." This same girl was sick for a few weeks before the final 5K that year. She showed up, and walked the entire 5K with her (very patient and understanding) buddy. Most of the crowds had left by then (when the GOTR 5K took place at the Starlight Run), and the finish line was being taken down. But our coaches, her parents, and several of her teammates were there ringing cowbells and cheering her across our finish line. I'm so thankful to the GOTR organization for jumping into the crazy world of race organizing so that we can properly celebrate each and every one of our matter when they finish! 

What do you do when you are not volunteering for Girls on the Run?
I am a substitute teacher in the Beaverton School District, and professional volunteer. ;-)  Chauffeur, cook, cheerleader, and counselor to my own 2 active children. And I like to run. For fun. With my own Running Buddies.

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Girls on the Run volunteer?
Don't wait. Give it a try! I started coaching WELL before my own daughter could participate in the program...thanks to my amazing neighbor who had a daughter participating on my team and who watched my daughter so I could coach. GOTR started out as MY thing. It was what I volunteered my time for that brought ME joy. I loved connecting with the girls and coaches. As a teacher, I loved getting to put on my teacher hat again, and dig deep into the discussions. But the curriculum is so easy to follow, you don't need to be a teacher to lead the girls! In my 5th coaching year, my daughter was finally old enough. She had watched me go to practice, listened to me talk about the girls and the program, and now she was SO excited to be a GOTR. That season was so special to me. It changed how I thought about the program... because now it was for HER. The best thing about GOTR is that there are so many different ways to become involved.Can't commit to coaching?  No problem... Running Buddy is how many coaches start out. And now we need a huge team of people to help with our amazing 5K celebration!

Anything else you want to add?
I'm proud of how I am modeling for my kids the importance of giving back to the community. There are so many great organizations and ways to volunteer your time. Find the one that fits for you. GOTR is part of who I am. I love seeing my girls out in the community or at school and hearing "Hi Coach Cyndie!" The 3rd grade girls from my very first team are now entering their freshmen year of High School. I am confident that they are ready for anything thrown their way, and will continue to be leaders in their community and classrooms thanks to this program. My goal is to continue to work so that even more girls can experience this program.  But we can't do it without a huge team of volunteers.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Guest Post (with Video!) on Another Mother Runner

I was blessed with the opportunity to kick off a new series of posts for SBS and Dimity of Another Mother Runner.  One of their sponsors, Trigger Point Therapy, is aiming to help injured Mother Runners around the country.  In short, they sent me their Ultimate 6 Kit for Runners and had one of their trainers Skype with me to explain the exercises.
The tools in the Ultimate 6 Kit for Runners

I committed to doing the exercises for a month, then filmed a short video of the exercises along with answering a few questions from Dimity and SBS.  I am now sending along the kit to the next injured mother runner in hopes that the Ultimate 6 Kit provides them some relief. 

Here is the post on AMR.

Here is just the video link on You Tube.

While I am not healed 100% (I have good days and really bad days), and have an additional diagnosis of Heel Bone Spurs in addition to the Plantar Faciitis (the two go hand in hand... or foot in foot in my case), I can say that the Ultimate 6 Kit DID in fact provide relief, and I really enjoyed using it. Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show provided the much-needed comic relief and distraction during my sessions.

"Thank You" Jimmy Fallon... for getting me through my TP Therapy...
The point of the kit is to mimic deep-tissue massage.  While it can be hard to really dig in to your own muscles, using the tools in the Ultimate 6 Kit helps.  I'm sad to see the kit go, but am hopeful it will provide relief to the next Mother who receives it.   I am planning to get my own TP Therapy kit, so I can continue to heal.  I miss my girlfriends and the sound of my feet on the road.

THIS is what I'm trying to get back to...

If you are a Mother Runner with an injury, and would like to see if you can use the Ultimate 6 Kit, there is a link in the AMR post to email SBS and Dimity. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Road to Injury... and the Journey of Healing

It’s been a really great stretch of uninjured running.  Almost two years!  I’ve lost weight, increased my pace, set PRs in every distance that I run, and even bit off my first 26.2.  Cue ominous music… Dun dun DUUUUNNNNN…

I’ve been dealing with heel pain since I started ramping up my miles during the marathon training.  Right around 16+… the dreaded Plantar Faciitis word was uttered in hushed tones by my amazing sports doc.  But we were confident I could get through the marathon, feeling good and sticking to my training plan.  I was great about stretching, rolling, icing…being a good little patient.  And it all worked!  I ran my first MARATHON, I felt great, I had an amazing time (and almost went sub 4 hour!), and I even felt OK post-race.   And then I ran a half marathon the Very. Next. Weekend.  Dun dun DUUUUNNNN…  

Feeling AWESOME at mile 24 of the Marathon!
If I was a better blogger (like I dream of being) I would have my post race report from the Girlfriends Half to link here.  But I don’t.  And I regret that now.  (Blogger goal for 2014 #1 – write up a post race report for each race I do this year!)  So you will have to trust me when I tell you that EVEN KNOWING WHAT PAIN I’VE BEEN IN allllllll these months, I would still run that race one week post marathon.   It was amazing, as are the women I ran it with and FOR.   XOXO Bitches.  (That’s a term of endearment for my Twisted Sisters.)  

Finishing strong in celebration of Amy!

Alas, back to the problem at hand (or, at foot).  After Girlfriends, it just hurt to WALK.  I kept thinking, “Why do my feet just HURT so bad?”  Well, turns out, you really shouldn’t run through PF.  In fact, you should STOP RUNNING, and start stretching All. The. Time.  Yeaaaaaaa… easier said than done.

I had a few goals related to running in 2013. 

1)      A sub 1:53 half.  Eugene Half Marathon 1:50.  CHECK! 
2)      Complete a Marathon… PDX. Check!
3)      Log 1,000 miles for the year… After Girlfriend’s, mid October, I was 17 miles away from that goal.
4)      Stay injury free… Hmmmm… not looking good.

Mid November, I started getting antsy, to say the least.  I REALLY wanted to check off that 1,000 mile goal, and I wanted to do it ON my 40th birthday.  So I started out super slow, chipping away at those 17 miles with a 2 mile run here, and a 3 mile run there.  On the morning of my 40th birthday, I had 4 miles left to run to hit 1,000.  I met two of my BRFs before the crack of dawn and logged those 4.0 miles.  That made me super happy.  And it made my feet hurt.  *sigh*  BUT I could check off another goal!  And I got in some girlfriend time.  And let’s face it, it’s ALWAYS about the Girlfriend time.  
Happy Birthday to ME!

Happy Runner
The last goal wasn’t looking too promising.

December found me getting desperate.  I had another race looming, and this one I couldn’t just “opt out of”.  I had signed up for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland WAAAAAAY back in the summer.  Registration is open for one whole day before those Run Disney races sell out.  So I had to commit.  We were surprising the kids with the trip to Disneyland for Christmas.  I needed to keep my miles going.  I wasn’t worried about the training.  I just needed to get in a few long-ish runs.  So I hobbled through December and the beginning of the New Year.  We went to Disneyland, walked the parks for three days, ran a half marathon, and had an amazing family vacation in the warm sunshine of SoCal.  Oh, and I pretty much killed my feet.  Done. Toast.  Not even Advil would help.  Not even WINE would help.  

I made a few really tough decisions after this.

1)      I sold my Newport Marathon bib.  This was not going to be my year for another marathon. 
2)      I sold my Race for the Roses Half Marathon bib.  Someday I WILL run this race.  I have to. 
3)      I registered for the Blue Lake Sprint Tri.  This is going to be the year of Cross Training and Healing.
4)      I stopped running.

The first two decisions were hard, the third one was scary and exciting all in one, but the 4th one is crushing my soul.

Cyndie Audrey and Amy.  BAMRs. 
I’ve come to realize that while running has become a part of me, a part that identifies me and makes me happy; it’s really the time spent with my girlfriends that I miss the most.  Yes, I realize there are countless other ways that I can spend time with my girlfriends.  I love those too.  But running gives us so much more.  Not only are we getting in miles and exercise, but we are getting in a therapy session as well.  When women run together, we use that time to TALK.  We have to cover the miles, and the rhythm of running brings out the conversation.  Our guards are down and the words flow as easily as the miles.  We talk about our week, our kids, our husbands, what we’re making for dinner, medical problems, worries, concerns, deep dark fears…we cry, we laugh, we cheer each other on.   And when we finish we feel like we can conquer the world!  Or we at least have something planned for dinner. 

Cheers Bitches. XOXO
During my running hiatus, I am virtually cheering on my BRFs and watching their training.  I’m so proud of my friend Audrey for finding her lost inner BAMR.  I’m so proud of my friend Amy for mentoring Audrey and pushing her outside her comfort zone…tackling Terwilleger and taking on her first ten miler!  So amazing!  Of course I want to be there too.  And I will be again.  Until then, I will embrace a few new training regimens and be proud of my girlfriends and their training.  And plan a LOT more girl’s nights out.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Second Star to the Right… and Straight on Till Morning!

Family Selfie - Radiator Springs

I kicked off 2014 with a bang (literally, with fireworks at the start line!) by taking the family to Disneyland for a much needed vacation, and so I could run the Run Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon.   Plans had been in the works for a while (I had registered for the race back in the summer), but we told the kids on Christmas morning about our trip.  They were super excited, since our last trip to the Happiest Place on Earth was three years ago.   The countdown began, as did the daily question of “How many more days till Disneyland?”  I have to admit, I was just as excited as the kids were about this trip.  The hubs needed some time away from work, and we all needed a little family togetherness in a way that only Disney could provide.  Magical.  A little sunshine and warm weather wouldn’t hurt either. 

No need to bore you with the travel details.  Thankfully, they were uneventful.  When we arrived at the airport, and stepped into the warm California sunshine, we all felt instantly overdressed.  I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel room and change into SUMMER CLOTHES!  We were staying at the Disneyland Hotel this time around, due to the fact that the race started and ended here.  If I was signing up for a race that began at 5am, well then YES I did want to take an elevator to the start line.  The Magic Mornings EVERY morning and the close proximity to the parks/Downtown Disney made it completely worth the extra cost.   

Family Selfie in Cars Land

Family Pic at Disneyland

Me and SBS - wearing my Boston Love shirt
We all changed clothes, and I was chomping at the bit to head to the Expo.  Chris took the kids on a little tour of Downtown Disney (read: LEGO store and World of Disney), and I beelined for the Expo.  I picked up my race bib (#215! Corral A!  Yeah baby!  That Eugene Half time really paid off!), and went straight to see my pals at the Another Mother Runner Booth.  Chatted with SBS and Kristen for a bit, picked up my wings and arm bands from Sparkle Athletic, visited my favorite headgear booth Sweaty Bands, and then I was pretty much done with the expo.   I wanted to be back out in the warm sunshine.  There were a lot of fantastic booths at the expo, and they had some great speakers lined up (including the leaders of the AMR Tribe), but I didn’t stick around this time.  I had some Vitamin D to soak in.  

Getting some Pixie Dust from Tink
I’ll keep the recap of our vacation time short.  This is supposed to be a running blog after all.  But if you ever have the chance to combine a Run Disney Race with vacation, I highly recommend it!  We had such an amazing time.  Cars Land was truly unbelievable.  You felt like you stepped into the movie.  We used our Magic Mornings to beeline to Cars Land and ride Radiator Springs without the super long wait.  The Disneyland Magic Morning we used to ride pretty much everything in Tomorrow Land (Space Mountain, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear several times) and we also met Tink at Pixie Hollow!  I requested a little extra Pixie Dust for my feet.  I packed our suitcases full of snacks for us to take into the parks each day, and the kids each had a gift card with spending money allocated.  All in all, it was a fantastic time for everyone.  We made sure to turn in sorta early on Saturday night.  We watched the fireworks from the hotel window as I laid out my clothes.  I chugged some Nuun and then turned in for a little bit of sleep.

My Tink Outfit
Run Disney races start early.  And when I say early, I mean 5am freakishly early.  But there’s a reason, and a good one at that.  I set my alarm for 3:15.  Which meant I woke up every half hour, worried that my alarm wouldn’t go off.  When 3am rolled around, I just figured I’d get up and get things *ahem* moving.  My body wasn’t exactly cooperating, but I figured that would be the least of my worries with a nasty case of plantar faciitis and already having logged many miles on sore feet at Disneyland for two days.   I started getting my Tinkerbell costume on (comprising of Handful Bra, Athleta Tank, SparkleSkirt and Headband, Lucy shorts, Sparkle Athletic wings and arm warmers), and I began to panic.  I was horribly worried about possible chaffing on my shoulder blades from the wings.  I Body Glided every inch of me, but couldn’t reach my own back, so I woke up the hubs to help me out.   Feeling ready as ever, I grabbed a protein bar, chugged some more Nuun, and headed to the lobby to meet my friend and Tink Running Buddy, Joy, at 4am.  Crazy.  I really enjoyed the chance to hang out with Joy and run this race with her.  We know each other through our husbands, and social media, but this was the first time we ran together!  She’s a Run Disney fanatic, and I was thankful to have her there with me. 

The Start Line!  Tink flying around getting everyone excited!
We walked to the start line, passing all the other corrals, as we were both in Corral “A”.  We had plenty of time to hang out with all the Fastholes (a loving term of endearment for all those amazingly strong, speedy women runners!), and soak in the crazy energy!  SBS and Dimity were there in their Queen Elsa Frozen costumes, and it was so much fun chatting and getting excited.  

The Mother Runner Queen Elsas!
Chatting with Queen Elsa (SBS) at the Start!
The Star Spangled Banner, sung beautifully, was capped off with fireworks (only Disney can get away with fireworks at 5am!), and Minnie and Daisy were there to start the race in their track suits.  We wound around behind California Adventure, popping into the park right behind California Screaming.  We ran through Paradise Pier, with the World of Color fountains and lights going, and stopped for a picture.  

The first characters we saw were the Incredibles.  I would have loved to get a pic with them, but we had just started running and I didn’t want to wait in a line yet.  I couldn’t help run with a huge smile on my face.  So many cast members lining the race course, Disney characters waiting for pictures with runners, music playing…it was all so overwhelming to the senses!   We ran through Cars Land, Hollywood, and then headed over to Disneyland. 

We played Leap Frog with SBS and Dimity a few times, eventually stopping to take their pic in front of It’s A Small World.  Dimity returned the favor for Joy and I.  Running down Main Street towards the castle was beautiful.  We stopped for a few selfie pics.  Running through Tomorrowland, we saw Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers.  We HAD to stop for a pic with them.  We both have little Star Wars fans at home who would think this was pretty cool.   The first 5 miles of the race wound us all around the parks.  Once we hit the Downtown Disney District, the spectators were all lining the course with signs and cheering.  And this was before 6am!   

Once we passed through Downtown Disney, the racecourse sent us out into the neighborhoods of Anaheim.  There were signs up requesting runners to be quiet, as the families were most likely still sleeping (wouldn’t YOU be?!).   We ran through business districts and then passed many of the Good Neighbor hotels before making our way back toward the parks and the Disneyland Resorts.  The finish was full of spectators, music, cheering, and really great volunteers.  There were aid stations every 2 miles or so, so no need to carry my own water.  One group was handing out fresh orange slices.  They were so sweet and delicious I can almost still taste them.  I’m happy to report that my feet felt fine (during the run) and energy level was great.  During the race, I kept a fallen Mother Runner on my mind.  Thousands of runners across the world were logging miles this weekend for #megsmiles.  Many runners at Tink were honoring her memory.

We met up with our families (ever so thankful for the delicious egg sandwich AND coffee my family had waiting for me!), hung out for a bit stretching and taking pics.  Then my family headed straight to California Adventure for our last Magic Morning and ride in Cars Land!  I didn’t even bother changing before heading to the parks.  We got in a few hours of quality park time before I needed a shower, a change of clothes, and another meal.   Sunday was really just about relaxing and catching all the rides we wanted to make sure we did one last time before heading home.  We enjoyed the Main Street Parade in Disneyland, and the Pixar Parade in California Adventure.  My feet were pretty much toast by this time, so we called it a night and watched the fireworks one last time from the hotel room. 

Andrew and I riding Cars one last time... in my Tink outfit.
My first Run Disney experience was an amazing one.  Thanks so much to Joy for talking me into it, and then joining me for it!  And a big thank you to the hubs, who works tirelessly so we can enjoy a spectacular vacation like this every now and then.  

I can FLY!

Sweet Run Disney BLING

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cyndie Actually Runs A Marathon...And LIKES It!

***Warning… This post is long, and full of details that may or may not be important to the reader.  But this was my 1st marathon experience, and I wanted to remember it all.***

Race Morning…

The plan was for Amy to pick me up at 5:30am and drive me downtown.  Yes, you read that right.  Amy was NOT running this race, but my BRF offered to get up freakishly early and drive my nervous-nelly self downtown, park, walk me to the corrals, hang out with me, wait in the port-a-potty lines (several times!), and generally just keep me company.  Love that girl.  She even frantically started seeking out someone to bring me a Garmin when we thought mine had frozen up.  I figured out how to reset it, but she had my back regardless.  The weather was perfection.  I honestly couldn’t have asked for better race-day weather.   Temps were in the low 50s, and it was DRY (quite a difference from the weekend before!).  The sun was predicted to come out, but temps would stay cool, and there was not a drop of rain in the forecast.    I honestly couldn’t believe it.  

READY to ROCK 26.2!!!

Amy headed out to find Brandi and wait for me around the 7 mile mark.  I headed to wait with the mass of Corral D participants.  I was planning to run a little faster than the expected pace of this corral, so I made sure to start up at the front.  We could hear the announcements, the moment of silence for Boston, and then WE all sang the National Anthem TOGETHER.  It gave me goose bumps as I listened to the singing, cheering, and watched the sun rise over the city buildings.  I had never felt more prepared for something ever, and I was ready to get this party started!  

The Start line... brought me to tears

As a corral, we walked past many uniformed Guard Members who were checking to make sure only bibbed runners were there, and made our way to the start line.   I couldn’t help getting choked up, and felt myself fighting back tears.  I was really proud of my training, my goal, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my family and friends that supported me, and who I knew were on the course ready and waiting to cheer and run with me!  It took the first mile to get myself together.  So many people were cheering and waving signs.  Talk about a runner’s HIGH!  My pace was 9:06, too fast but I expected that.

I finally settled into my rhythm around mile 2, and slowed my pace a little to 9:25.  I felt like I could breathe again, and I was smiling from ear to ear.   The first five miles were relaxing, fun, and a great warm up (averaging around 9:20).  I focused on keeping my pace under control (couldn’t imagine doing this without my Garmin!), and listened to my music.  I realized that I had done so many of my long training runs with friends, and hadn’t listened to music in a while!  I was actually feeling like I didn’t WANT to have my earphones on.  I was more interested in taking in the excitement from the crowds of spectators lining the streets of Portland.   Soon I was making my way toward the Freemont Bridge, and I knew I would be seeing my family and my running buddies.  

I spotted Chris and the kids on the other side of the street, and I ran across to give them hugs and get some high 5s and love.  A few steps back into the race, and I saw Amy and Brandi, who would join me for the next 6 miles.  They were so generous to run the most boring part of the Portland Marathon: the out and back section in the Industrial part of town.  I took my earphones out and never put them back.  It was so great having the two of them to run with and chat with and just generally goof around with.  Amy took pictures, and both of them did an awesome job of keeping my mind off of what I was doing.  It was just a run with my girlfriends.  And I LOVE running with my girlfriends.  I almost peed myself from laughing when Amy was voice texting Chris.  Her phone has a funny way of transferring what she says into type.   A quick potty stop was necessary, and I was thankful for friends to hold all my stuff.  Amy blogged about her Marathon experience on her blog, Bliss and Chaos.

Running with Brandi and Amy(taking the pic!) along the train tracks of Portland
Running Selfie!  Amy and Brandi keeping me company

They left me around mile 12, and tried to run ahead to warn Chris and the kids and Marianne and Melanie (who were meeting me at mile 13 for the next section).   I saw Chelsey (Co-Girls on the Run Coach) and gave her a big hug!  The energy on this stretch of the racecourse was electric!  Lots of front yard parties, kegs, college kids, just insane.   I saw Chris and the kids again, with Amy and Brandi, and then noticed that Marianne, Melanie and Dr. Mohr were all there too!  I grabbed some pics with the kids, a bag of pretzels, a few more high 5s and hugs, and then Marianne and I took off towards Hwy 30.  

A quick pic with the kiddos

Andrew's AWESOME sign...We have WINE at home...oh yesser!

I hadn’t seen Marianne in a while and she had just returned from a CRA-ZY trip for her HS reunion in Washington DC.  For the next 5 miles, I loved hearing all her stories from the trip, and also loved hearing her reminisce about last year’s Marathon.  Melanie drove along Hwy 30, and jumped out at several places along the way with signs and cheering!  I love my running buddies.  They are just the BEST, and I felt truly blessed to have their support.   As we neared the St. John’s bridge, I knew I would have to part ways with the girls.  They only allowed bibbed participants up and over the bridge.  A quick hug to the girls, and I continued on alone (but not for long).  Again, I didn’t bother put my earphones back in.  

The climb up to the bridge is not insignificant.  Many people were walking.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I think I probably ate a Gu, and I just made sure to take in the majestic scenery.  For those of you NOT from Portland, the St. John’s Bridge is one of the iconic images representing the Portland Marathon.  It is a stunning work of art, and it was an amazing experience to cross it on foot, able to really look at the beauty and the view from the bridge.  Did you notice in the pre-marathon post that it’s even on my necklace from Amy?  I tried snapping a few pics with my phone while I was running, but I couldn’t get anything decent.  So I finally pulled over and stopped to take a few pictures.  I can honestly say that this was one of only a handful of times I stopped during the entire 26.2 miles (potty, family pics/hugs, bridge, and one more a little later).  

As we crossed over the bridge and turned the corner into mile 18, I heard “PELTO!!!!!” and knew Caryn was there.  I didn’t expect to see her so soon, but I was so so so glad she was waiting and ready to RUN.  I was beginning to realize that I was tired.   I think I might have almost taken out another runner trying to run over to her and give her a hug!  We headed up a short hill, and then the course leveled off and settled in to the neighborhoods on the East side of the Riverfront along Willamette Blvd.  Having Caryn there totally rejuvenated my step, and we were total goofballs (shocker, I know) but stayed focused too.  Caryn was the perfect running buddy to have by my side during the stretch, because she has been there done that so many times before.  She had so much great advice, and knew how to keep my mind off the pain that was starting to creep in, but stay focused and distracted at the same time.  

I'm delirious at this point... Caryn keeping me in check.

Around mile 19, I started to complain about my knees and my hips.  Me: “My hips hurt.”  Caryn: “You can bitch about your hips later. Right now, keep running.”  Sound advice from a seasoned marathoner.

At mile 20, we saw the kids, Chris, and my friends Mara and Ruann.  Lots of cheers, smiles, cowbell, and signs, and I finally handed off my earphones to Chris…but we didn’t stop running this time.  I was ready to be DONE.  Ruann turned to Chris after he commented that I looked like I was doing great and said, “Yeah, but this is where the race begins.”  And she was so very right.  I felt myself having to dig deep for each step.  

Around mile 21 I saw Dr. Mohr again.  This time I pulled over to chat.  My old ITBand injuries were making some noise.  I asked him if he could hose me down in BioFreeze.   He could not, but he did apply some to my legs, for which I was extremely grateful.   We were off again.

Got BioFreeze?  Oh YEAAAAHHHHH

It was shortly after this pit stop that we saw the “mat.”  Caryn had told me about this particular mat, and made damn sure I crossed it!  It tracks how many people you PASS in the last 5 miles of the marathon.   I doubted I would pass that many people, but I figure, what the hell?  I stepped over it, and then the game was ON.  Caryn said, “See that guy in orange?  Go get him.”  I did.  Then she said, “See that girl in pink?  GO GET HER PELTO.  I mean, it sucks for her, but whatever.”  I did.  We started picking off runners (and many many walkers at this point) left and right.  I will not lie…it felt AWESOME to feel so strong and fast in the last 5 miles of a freaking marathon.  We passed Adidas headquarters, and started downhill.  It was here that Caryn pulled out two of her most awesome comments.   She looked at her phone and said, “My app estimates you’ll be finishing at 4:00:36.  You OK with that?”  Me: “F&*% NO!!!!  F*** that F***ing 36 seconds!”  (Sorry, I was delirious at this point.)  So we proceeded to sprint downhill.   As we were feeling a little sorry for the people pulling over to stretch out whatever was hurting them, Caryn said, “Keep your eyes forward.  Do NOT look at the carnage on the side of the road, and whatever you do…DO NOT STOP.”  OMG, I laughed, and kept going, eyes forward.  Then we passed Widmer, where there were volunteers handing out cups of beer.  BEER.  At mile 24 of the marathon.  Caryn said, “DO NOT drink that beer.  I promise you do not want it.”  And then she graciously drank my beer for me. ;-)  What are friends for?   

I love this picture.  I felt strong, proud, pain, excitement...
Broadway Bridge behind me...
We crossed the Broadway Bridge, a beautiful sight, and headed into downtown Portland.  As I was turning the corner off the bridge, I saw my friend Penny and lost my mind (who am I kidding, it was already gone at this point).   Then I saw the Cascade Lakes Relay peeps with their awesome signs, and really REALLY lost it… Yes, I played air guitar while yelling “Twisted Sisters totally wants to ROCK CLR!” I blame the endorphins.  Caryn laughed at me, and said, “Um, apparently you still have some gas in the tank, so let’s get a move on.”  And we did.  My last full mile (even being STOPPED BY A MAX TRAIN) was 8:46 pace.  As we neared the part of Naito Pkwy that has the barricades lined up, Caryn jumped out of the race, and headed to the finish.  I’ve never seen so many people cheering in a race I was in, and I’ve never felt more like a Rockstar.  The signs were amazing, the smiles were contagious, and I was ready to lay it all on the line and bring it home.  I saw Amy and Brandi, Marianne and Melanie, and Chris and the kids right near corner of the finish.  I pointed to them all, blew them a kiss, and then headed for the finish line.  In my last push, I passed two more guys before crossing the line.  Needless to say, my finish pics are not good.  I was hurting, and I was pushing hard, and I didn’t care what I looked like.  

As I walked through the finisher’s area, a volunteer placed my medal around my neck, and a blanket over my shoulders.  I was very grateful for this, as I suddenly found myself dizzy and cold.  I kept walking, collecting food, chocolate milk, my finisher’s shirt, a tree sapling (well, it IS Portland after all), and chatting with several other runners.  By the time I made my way to the family reunion area, I was feeling back to normal, and smiling from ear to ear.  My whole support group was there waiting to hug this sweaty runner, and take pics.  

Marathons... a TEAM effort!
Just a short year ago, the tables were turned in this picture.

We laughed and chatted for a bit, took more pics, and then everyone was pretty much ready to head home.  I wanted a shower in the worst way, and was suddenly feeling like a nap would be on the agenda as well.  Two things I DIDN’T want:  Beer or food.  It would take until later that afternoon, around 4pm.  The celebratory recovery beer was opened and leftover pizza had never EVER tasted SOOOOOO GOOD.  

I can’t even begin to thank my husband for all of the support he gave me, not just by schlepping the kids all over Portland and making it to each of the 4 spots I requested he be at in time to see me (while getting Lauren to a potty every time she had to go!), but for helping rearrange our schedules each weekend so I could get in all my crazy long training runs.  

Love my Family

My Girlfriends, my Best Running Friends (BRFs), are simply amazing. The love and support from all of you I felt and carried with me all 26.2 miles.  And even though some of you couldn’t make it on that Sunday, I felt your positive energy and carried it with me the whole way.  

When I decided to run a Marathon, I had a few goals.  1) to finish, hopefully before my 40th birthday. ;-) 2) to finish strong and healthy and happy, 3) to maybe want to do another one, and 4) I wanted to enjoy the experience.  I’m happy to say that I had the BEST TIME running this Marathon.  I’m so glad that I stopped when I did for potty stops, pictures, hugs, high 5s.  The experience wouldn’t have been as much fun without all of that.  I’m thrilled with my time, 4:04:52.  For what it's worth, I passed 345 runners in the last 5 miles of the Marathon.  Yeah, that mat was a cool thing!  And I’m ready to do it again.  Without so many stops next time. ;-)