Saturday, July 21, 2018

Trail Running Memoirs

It's striking. How all those colors can cling to the trees and the hillsides. The sun shines right thru the leaves as the wild flowers drench the ground. Dirt clings to my ankles creating the illusion of a dirty tan line. Silvery webs wrap themselves around me as I pass and they immediately begin their rebuild. Sweat rushes down my back as the climb creates a constant burn thru my shoulders and lower back. Little pebbles and pine needles kick up and wiggle down into my shoes. Caked mud and scrapes climb up my shins. Salt weaves its way thru my hair and drips into my eyes. There's sweaty dirt running down the sides of my face from a recent fall as blood dries to the base of my knee. A hot spot reminds me it's time for a new pair of shoes and the constant sloshing reassures me that my water supply won't let me down.
The indent in the back of my pack is an emergency snickers that is calling my name in the inevitable chance that all systems power down without my consent. My tank top is soft and feels comforting against my skin as my shorts create a tan line I'll never be able to hide. Each slow climb burns me from the inside out. Reminds me that the body is capable of so much more than we ever imagined. Tree limbs and black berry bushes reach out over the trail as if to dare me to use their help. Instead of going around the mud puddles and creeks, I only wish to barrel right thru them. Fog sweeps thru the trees and into the moss. Bee's surround me and the constant buzzing gets drowned out by the voices in my head telling me to turn back. But, I had a plan. I grit it out and continue on. As the downhill sneaks up and gravity crawls up my shoes I feel free and child like. Arms out, catching the wind and wolf cries echo off of the rock walls and evergreens. I watch each step for natures intruders and get distracted by everything around me. Rocks imbed themselves into my hands as I catch myself and continue on my way. Every mile completed fills my tank with more fuel to continue and every mile still left makes me question how much I really want it. At some point you make the decision to complete this run no matter what.  Because, this is what trail running is.
It's a constant push to convince yourself that you are worth the finish.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gaining Ground

It's been a while since I have taken the time to write. I want to be writing about happy and wonderful things but I also want to be real and raw. And life isn't always wonderful. 

Everyone has a vice. Mine is clearly running. It's the only thing that show's up every morning as long as I do. I can always count on it to push me to my absolute long as I put in the work. Running will scrape you from the deepest pit of darkness if you use it. And it will help you enjoy everything you have to be grateful for if you allow it. Like so many things, it's a give and take. As long as you put in the will give back every single time. I have learned that is a lot more than you can expect from most people. Just because you put in 110% doesn't mean other people will. Even when I am injured...the thought of being able to run sooner keeps me doing my rehab and exercises. No matter how heavy life gets and how much pain I am in...I can count on the inevitable ability of running to practice tough love. Sometimes, that means that I am only able to walk. Sometimes that means, I can walk up hills and jog the flats. But my favorite is when it means I can bomb the down hills pain free.

Sometimes you are draped in loss...and sometimes injuries happen and if you are real unlucky or if the universe thinks that you are just that tough....they happen at the same time. The amount of time I have spent processing this is kind of amazing. If I would've been able to throw myself into just running during this painful time....I wouldn't have processed as effectively. I am 31 years old and drowning in this feeling of belonging no where. My skin feels mind is clouded with negativity and I am suffocating in this feeling of impending doom. But, there is something so very vivid and powerful of allowing myself to feel all of those intense and overwhelming emotions without covering it up or dulling it. I could take all of these feelings and fears and throw them in a box and forget it for as long as possible...I could keep adding to said box until one day it just overflows, touches and taints the rest of my beautiful life. But, the fact that I did get injured and was forced to come face to face with some pretty heavy demons....I am processing it all--> one tired and painful step at a time. Sometimes, taking care of you....and making sure you are ok isn't pretty. Sometimes, it is down right just awful. But, in the end I know it's going to make me better. It will make me DO better. I've thrown on the running shoes since my ankle has allowed it. And now I am processing while running. I can feel each step and each painful hot breath through my lungs and I am grateful for life. Pain means I am breathing and that I haven't given up. Pain means I am still here and that there is still chance for me to do better.  Not everyone gets that chance. 

SO, as the losses just keep on coming....whether it's a life I thought I was going to have, or friends and family I thought would stand by me or the inability to just go out and run 30 miles right now-- I am choosing to be grateful. Grateful for the little moments that remind me it's not all bad. Grateful for the people who have taken the time to be there for me and grateful for the people who've walked away because I'd rather know where people stand with me...and if I can count on them or not before I actually need them. Attacks have been coming from every angle of my life lately. Left and right...I am being pushing into a corner that makes me choose right then and there if I will be a victim or if I will walk away and grab the life I know I deserve. As I climbed up Angels Rest this past weekend (the 3rd trail run of the day) my legs were tired and my soul was weary. I felt like I had lost everything. I felt like I was alone. Feelings are a funny thing. When pain takes over it can make it pretty hard to see the truth. Truth is, I have so much in just having a choice on how to live my life. I have a choice on how I am going to react to everything happening. The freedom of choice and my ability to adapt to whatever is happening is a gift.  Arriving to the top of angels rest I hit my knees and cried. So much loss and so much pain. I took a deep breath and realized how much I still have and how far I've come. And these wonderful strong legs got me here. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Netflix on the Fringe

January 21, 2011

6:19 AM
I woke up humming an old devotional song from youth group... "...oh lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true......" I grabbed a glass of water and crawled back into bed. It was the first night I had slept more than an hour in 6 days.  It was restless. But, it was something. A couple moments of reprieve from my 6 days....25 years of a cruel teeter totter...weariness clung to my bones. I fell back into a fitful sleep.

6:43 AM
I knew it as soon as my phone went off. I heard the ring pierce the air. [ Milwaukie, OR] I answer "Hello." It wasn't a question. It was more of a permission for them to proceed with the reason they called. " Is this Ashley?" "Yes" ....." I am sorry to inform you that Paula passed away about 15 minutes ago." Silence. More Silence. Finally, my response is ..."15 minutes ago? And you are just now calling me?" ... the conversation ended with her offering me the name of a grief counselor and a lock of my mothers hair." I remember walking to my closet and grabbing a pair of soft socks and tugging them onto my feet. I went up stairs and sat on the couch. The book on natural remedies was still laying out on the table from my research the night before, next to the Netflix DVD's I needed to return. I had stayed up until 3 AM searching different remedies for liver failure while Fringe played in the background. As if I was going to do what doctors hadn't been able to do and what my mother had no desire to do. She died 19 hours after I got her into hospice. I had spent the last 6 days at the hospital and had needed food, shower and some rest. It's like...the moment I stepped away with her she took it as permission to let go.

January 22, 2011
Before the sun AM

I walked into my mom's apartment. I had ran through the streets of Oregon City at 3:30 that morning.. I ran hard. I sobbed. And then I ran harder. If I had wheels they would've fallen off. I was drowning in my grief and I didn't know what else to do with the day. So, I went to my mom's apartment. Maybe to feel closer to her. I am not sure. As I passed her coffee table my stomach dropped through the floor. Rewind to about a week before my mom ended up in the hospital for the final time...She was gushing about a purple scarf she was making me. She had no idea that purple was my favorite color....when I was 6. But, seeing as my mother wasn't someone who went out of her way to do nice things for people, I was grateful. The half unmade scarf draped across the table and needles lay on the floor tangled in a mass of purple yarn. The purple yarn seemed to crawl into my chest and wrap its way around my heart and started to tighten. It sat unfinished like all of the unsaid spoken words between us. I turned away from the painful display of unfinished kindness and headed to the kitchen. An untouched bologna sandwich lay on the counter, uneaten. Like many, I have had a lifetime of painful, heart wrenching and suffocating moments. Not many can compare to the sharp pain that bit into my heart at that very moment. She was the third death in 3 months. The final straw that I was sure would break me. I loved my mom. However, at 41 years of age all she loved was Vodka. My mom had demons and wasn't given the tools to handle this world, take care of herself , or love me. Conflicted between the relief of her suffering being over and the loss of a mother who was more like my child. I took care of her. I answered the phone at 3AM to hear her rants and I brought her groceries when she used all her money on other things. I watched scary movies with her even though I hated them...just so I could spend time with her. At 10 years old, I spent many Saturdays sitting next to her watching Lifetime movies, drinking sweet tea and eating artichoke hearts, just to be near her. She loved me on her own terms. But, it was all she could do. I have learned that you can't force someone to love you and a person who loves their addiction more than anything will never be able to love you like you need or want. You will never be a priority to them. You will always be expendable. But, I supposed everyone has their demons.

March 3, 2017

That distinct smell of rubbing alcohol and cigarettes will snap me back to her side in an instant. Smells are funny that way. You are present in the moment and then BOOM are thrown 20 years into the past. Every day I think of her....something will remind me of her. Those fleece jackets with cats all over them, Chihuahuas, someone asking for help on a simple computer task, solitaire, those velvet coloring posters, that old perfume in the white and black bottle shaped into an exclamation point, Coors and yarn. The laughing and smiles and affection that only came after 3 glasses of boxed wine. So many things have changed since goes on doesn't it? I threw myself into running. I ran every day for months. I ran my first half marathon and then full marathon. Then another and another. Then I ran an Ultra and then another. PR after PR and adventure after adventure. I went from never hiking alone to running 25 miles by myself in the gorge, following a map I drew on my inner arm. I started really living....since she no longer could. I changed jobs, started drawing and writing again and then moved a total of 5 times. Through it all...I held on to those Netflix movies I had the day she died. All I had to do was drop them into the mail. But, for some reason I wasn't able to. It was basically the ONLY thing that hadn't changed since she died. 

Those 2 Netflix movies.......Today, I took them with me ..and dropped them in the mail slot. I don't know what I expected to happen. Fireworks? Massive rainfall? Some dramatic music? However, I did feel a strange sense of relief. A moment of exhale. A deep breathe after holding it for a long time. Such a silly thing. Netflix if holding on to those movies changed anything at all. Loss happens, coping happens...all the while life keeps going. You hear it all of the's not what happens to you. It's how you handle what happens to you that matters. Just life doing its thing...shaping us into stronger and more unique individuals. We experience loss and gains... we grasps outlets for coping and moving on. Finding things that bring you joy and looking for ways that help you let go of past hurts and loss are what you have to do. Something as small as returning those meaningless Netflix movies you've been holding on to for 6 years is just apart of the process.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

::Running Shoe Love Letters::

  It's dark. I can hear the rain crashing into the asphalt outside. She's stirring. She's hit the snooze twice but I think she will be up soon. I sit up straighter hoping that she will be unable to resist me. The automatic coffee maker just started and I can smell hints of chocolate and caramel. She loves that stuff. She has a cup before she even looks at me. She has her running clothes and reflective gear sitting on the table awaiting her. I watch as she tests out the head lamp. But, I am still sitting here by the door. Waiting patiently of course. She's walked past me twice and hasn't even looked at she going to change her mind? I know sometimes, when she is feeling really low, she gets ready for her run...everything ready to go, but me. And then, after staring at me for a few minutes, she turns off all of the lights and crawls wearily back into bed. I hear her sigh. I know she will regret not utilizing me this morning. It will fill her every thought in every minute of the day. If something bad happens...she will think to herself "I should've ran this morning." She will feel like her clothes don't fit right and like she doesn't fit into her own skin. She will second guess her every decision. She will be uptight and irritable... All because she skipped her time with me. But, that doesn't happen often. Usually, I smell the coffee first and then 5 minutes later her alarm goes off. Sometimes, she even wears her running gear to that she doesn't have to worry about it that morning. She stumbles into the kitchen and retrieves her coffee. I know she might be talking herself out of our visit. No matter what she does though... she can't help but look at me. In the end, she knows the comfort that I will provide and that I will always be there. Anytime with her is better than none at all.

     Finally, she gathers me up and we head out. I can feel her heavy breathing and concrete legs. She's struggling to warm up. It's colder than usual this morning. She had a fitful night of sleep...and this is her solace. I will be here for her in any way that I can be. I don't know that anyone knows her as well as I do. You see... we've shared so many miles together. I've felt the wiggle of her toes after the climb of a hill. I've heard every F bomb she's uncharacteristically dropped due to the difficulty of the climb. I've felt her sob when no one was around on a dark trail and heard her laugh out loud in front of strangers. And as snow sprinkled heavily from the sky...I caught her putting her hands out as if to savor each frozen flake. I was the first one she turned to after her parents couldn't take care of her anymore and the first one she turned to when she was looking for freedom from her demons. However, I was also able to see her cry tears of joy when she reached the top of Mt. Chinidere and Munra Point. A tall feat for someone so scared of heights. I was there when she completed her first mile and her first Ultra. I was there the day she fell and broke her arm and I was there where when she was covered in fog and the dear ran out right in front of her. My girl is so much stronger than she thinks she is. The day after mouth surgery, I talked her into a 16 miler on her favorite home trail. She ran 20 instead. Sometimes, she laughs after she hits 10 miles because, at one point in her life....1 mile was torturous. I saw her when she got sick at 1 mile after years of not spending time together. And, I even get to debut on her Instagram on really messy muddy days. There hasn't been much that I have missed. I love our time together even though she is sometimes reckless with gravity and can be heavy with emotion. She throws me into unseen tree roots and slips me across wet mossy rocks. She trips and falls and runs into things. Makes me laugh when she jumps over a puddle and ends up in the middle of it. She doesn't mean to. I know that. I am probably the only one who finds her clumsiness endearing. Plus, I don't like it when I am all that clean anyway...but don't tell her that.

 If you were to ask me about her I would say.... She loves to take the hard way up the mountain and she enjoys running in the mud and splashing in the puddles. She loves the pull of gravity when speeding down hill, because it's the closest to flying she will ever get... And that she actually likes it when her socks get wet...just so she can enjoy the feeling of being warm and dry later.  Maybe it's because she missed out on the child like puddle jumping, when she was little. I wasn't there much for her during that time in her life. She didn't let me. She spent little time with me then. I can't blame her...she was barely breathing sitting still...let alone spending time with me. I do have a memory though when she was 8. She got off of the school bus and it was pouring down rain. She took me in her hands and then she ran thru the puddles and torrential downpour barefoot, all the way home. That was fun...and I didn't even have to get soaked, but I got to be there with her. Even though life changes so frequently, I know that SHE knows I will always be here. I will be there for the quick 3 miler before work or the 8 miler after work. I will be there for the 16 miler thru the forest or to the top of the heights she is so scared of. I will join her for stair repeats at Mt. Tabor and snow shoeing at Mirror Lake. As long as she is willing to skip the snooze button, I will be there waiting by the door for her to snatch me up and take me on an adventure. I don't want to miss each unsteady step or fierce climb. I don't want to miss anything. No judgement criticism for the way she dealt with the day before or the irrational feelings she can't contain. Just like she longs to be free, my laces itch to be tied and can't wait to hit the trail,, road, or god forbid...the treadmill. Because, in the end....we are in this together.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

1986-2016 meet 2017


I've sat down to write this post over and over again but haven't been able to find the words. How do I be honest and show heart without making others uncomfortable...without seeming negative or "poor me". Most people don't like to see the "bare all, heart on the table" vulnerability. But, can I really be honest and true to myself without showing the vulnerable broken sides of me? 

Like so many... I wasn't given the fairest start to life. From my first breath there were obstacle after obstacle. Every day and every night was a fight for survival. I would move 10 obstacles out of my way and then there would be a mountain waiting. At the time...I just thought it was normal. This is just the way life is. I didn't know that it could be different till it was. Even then...when you come back from hell to live among the rest, you never quite feel right. You never feel like you fit in or belong. Part of you always feels just a bit off, like a circle trying to fit into an oval. Damaged. This is where community comes in...running and community. The more people you talk to and the more that you connect with you realize that almost everyone is getting back from hell at one point or another. Everyone is walking around damaged and putting themselves back together...and feeling alone.

Running isn't everything....but it's the thing that can make something beautiful and fierce out of the broken. It isn't the act of running specifically that is the cause of the's the transformation that happens when you push past what you never thought you could do. When you take control of the uncontrollable and decided that you are more than your circumstances...that you ultimately decide the ending to your story. The run is just a conduit....a compass to help guide you through the mess of what life can be. To help heal you during the devastating times, to keep you engaged in the uneventful times, and to help you celebrate the beautiful times. It keeps disassociation from taking over and keeps you present. Life is too short and goes too fast to check out. Running can bring out the smiles when you thought you couldn't find it and can bring on the tears when you tried to shove them down deep. 2016 was the year I really discovered how amazing trail running could be and the healing it can bring to 30 years of devastating loss. It is the year I decided to let go of past hurt and embrace the present. Because right now is all we have... Thank you 2016 for the suffering, for the tools to cope and the heart to move on. 2017... I am so excited to see what you will bring and what I will do with it. 

The Resolution

There's a lot that I don't know
There's a lot that I'm still learning
But I think I'm letting go
To find my body is still burning
And you hold me down
And you got me living in the past
Come on and pick me up
Somebody clear the wreckage from the blast
And I'm alive
And I don't need a witness
To know that I survived
I'm not looking for forgiveness
I just need light
                                                               I need light in the dark as I search for the resolution
                                                               And the bars are finally closed
So I try living in the moment
'Til the moment it just froze
And I felt sick and so alone
I can hear the sound
Of your voice still ringing in my ear
I'm going underground
But you'll find me anywhere I feel
And I'm alive
And I don't need a witness
To know that I survived
I'm not looking for forgiveness
I just need light

Monday, October 31, 2016

Catching Fire in a Downpour

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dear 4:30 AM-
I appreciate that you showed up this morning. I truly do. I know that you have a purpose for me. But, I am having trouble seeing it through the buckets of cold rain coming from a dark sky. I know that you want me to leave my safe haven of warm blankets.  But, I can’t remember why.  The parts of my body that aren’t covered in blankets are already cold and my eyes are heavy. Every ounce of me wants to sleep for 2…maybe 3 more hours. On the living room table my  reflective vest, a headlamp, and my running clothes wait for me and the coffee pot has already made my coffee.  I can smell the hazelnut coffee thru the heater vents. Mmmm. Heat. It’s warm here.  Now begins the conversation I have in my head of “maybe I do need to rest” or “I could just run after work.” It can be so easy in the dark hours of the morning, to talk yourself out of something that was so important to you the night before. It can be so easy to stay comfortable. In the world we live in today…where everything is about how convenient it is or how can we cut corners to make this easier… no one would blame me for staying in bed. But, that’s not true. I would. I would blame me.  If I waited till after work to run…I would have ALL day to talk myself out of it. All day of that groggy, heavy feeling that is usually alleviated by going out for even a short run in the morning.
Every morning for the last 2 weeks I have struggled----Struggled to get out of bed in time to run. This transition from chasing the sunrise to starting and ending my run in the dark has been harder this year. Maybe it’s from feeling the discouragement that tired achy muscle dysfunctions bring. Maybe, it’s the strain of being the only one in my family that likes my running. No matter the’s time to revisit the reason I do this. Remember the things that make this so important to me.

I have been working on this blog post for about a week or so and couldn't seem to finish it up. Probably due to the fact that I hadn't really found a way to re-light that fire. The fire that helps you push thru those cold dark mornings. And then Saturday happened. 

Saturday morning I had plans to go out for a group run with Territory. My alarm went off at 5 AM and immediately I could hear it. It was pouring down rain. For a minute I laid there wondering if maybe I should just stay home. Maybe I could have a GOT marathon or there are multiple things around the house that need to be cleaned and organized. MAYBE it would be more productive to stay home. The anxiety I had due to the fact that I would be running with other runners who might be faster than me… was absolutely paralyzing. I tried using every excuse in the book to avoid an uncomfortable situation just because I was so anxious. But, somehow I got myself out the door and headed toward the trailhead. When I arrived at the Eagle Creek Trailhead and the other group was running a little behind…I let my anxiety of holding up a group of 20 people with my slowness, get the best of me. I decided it would be best for me and everyone else…to go out a head and just meet up with the group at the turn around. Once I hit the trail… I felt amazing. I felt free. Everything was working correctly and even though it was still pouring, it was beautiful. The fog was incredible and clung to the trees. The air smelled clean and the mud made me feel like a kid. And then I remembered. I remembered why I was out there. There’s a certain beauty in a self made adventure. Knowing you are 5 miles in on some of the most beautiful views that Oregon has to offer and most people are probably still at home, lounging in their PJ’s.
  The anxiety crept back in when I met up with the group. Most of these runners I only “knew” on social media. I felt like a sitting duck-suddenly I thought maybe I should just run the trail back to the car. Maybe go it alone. That’s gotta be better than being the pip squeak in the back fighting to keep up. But, I fought the urge to flee and stayed with the group and I am so glad that I did. Turns out I am not that slow. I am however extremely clumsy and took a very embarrassing spill, but I survived. The world didn't end because I drew unnecessary attention to myself. One of the things I’ll take from this run is that community is so important. Running alone so much can be very therapeutic but you can get lost in your own head.  Going it alone can be so isolating. Something that was said to me was… “You are not a slow runner. It sounds to me like you still think you are the runner you were a year ago and not the runner who took an hour off her Marathon time.” Amazing... Such a small thought…but it shifted my entire perspective. Having that community on Saturday re-lit a fire that I was having trouble lighting this rainy fall season. It reminded me about the best parts of the running community… empowering each other and lifting each other up. You never know how much someone is struggling and what a few words can really do to change everything.

*ie; 4/24/2016- IG "4:30am- it's cold and dark. Eyes & limbs are heavy. Impatience and defeat cling to me. It would be easier to stay in bed. No one would really blame me. With all the constant reminders of a long running season with little recovery, lingering on my limbs. Rest might be better. I could justify that. But the rest of my day would be a not so quiet taunting in the back of my brain that I skipped my run when I was perfectly capable of getting it done. So, I put on my dorky head lamp and hi-viz sitch and threw on my shoes. Not until I stepped outside did the rain start to fall... almost as if to test my commitment to getting this run done…"

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Portland (Ultra) Marathon 2016 ----->26.7 Anyone?

I’ve taken a few days to process my 26.68 Marathon on Sunday. I can now walk down stairs correctly and sit for more than 5 minutes before I have to get up and walk it out. EVERYTHING on me hurt. 

My goal had been to attain a sub 4 hour Marathon time or to at the very least PR on both my overall marathon time and my Portland Marathon time. I got the PR’s but I really really wanted the sub 4 hours. In the end I was 3 minutes and 19 seconds over. When I crossed the finish line I should’ve been proud of myself. I should’ve been basking in the glory of my 25 PR’s race and segment PR’s. But I had wanted that sub 4 so bad that it kinda drowned out all of the things I DID accomplish at first.  I could blame it on the piriformis/hip pain I had been dealing with for weeks leading up to the marathon. I could blame it on the 2 ultras, a marathon, a relay and a few halfsies that I have ran since May. I could blame it on the fact that it was a torrential down pour during the race from start to finish. I could also blame it on the fact that early on in the race the course was off by a half of a mile and from the 5K mark on…it severely messed with my head. But, in the end I need to just be happy with the ending I got. A couple of things I should’ve been thinking as I crossed the finish line…

1.       Whoo Hooooooo
2.       I just beat my Marathon PR by 12 minutes
3.       I just beat my Portland Marathon PR by over an hour.
4.       Where is the food?
5.       Beer. I need beer.
 Instead of …
1.       Jesus that was 26.68 miles…did I just run an Ultra today? Why was the effing course longer than 26.2!
2.       Oh God, I didn’t get under 4 hours
3.       Are my legs still attached? Don’t look down!
4.       I can’t believe I didn’t hit my goal
5.       I failed.
6.       Why did I tell EVERYONE over and over again what my goal was?

Your mind really is your worst enemy and sometimes we forgets the FACTS. LUCKILY… I have an amazing running community…and those who seem to know me well and as they were following along KNEW how I was going to feel when I fell short of my goal. I already had messages on my phone telling me I should be proud of myself for what I had done today. And then when I opened my strava I had a HUGE list of PR’s including but not limited to…

 1.       10K Record
2.       15K Record
3.       10 Mi Record
4.       20K Record
5.       Half Marathon Record
6.       30K Record
7.       Full Marathon Record

 So, feeling sorry for myself at this point seemed pretty darn silly. At the end of the day I had worked harder than I have ever worked before in my life…including the ultras that I had done this year. I had never pushed myself so hard. And… I walked away from that race feeling like I literally gave it everything I had. IF it had been the perfect day…if everything would’ve gone my way…I would’ve definitely been able to meet my goal. And I still had an amazing race. Aside from my training run on the course a couple weeks before the marathon…I had never ran up the St. Johns bridge hill. I always walked it…and dropped F bombs the whole way. This time I ran all the way up that baby monster hill and only dropped a couple F bombs. I am not going to say that it didn’t hurt. Because…that would be a lie. I might have got a little emotional as I came across the bridge and saw my sweet friend Millie out there taking pictures. I was in pain and had just thought about the fact that I still had around 8 more miles to go. The mind games started early. Lucky for me…. I had a lot of support out there. Not only was Millie there at the bridge but I knew that just before the 20 mile mark…I would have my Eastwind Running family waiting for me with smiles and coke! At about mile 22ish I saw Millie again..which would be the last time I would see anyone I knew. I tried hard to not get stuck in my mind…and how I was supposed to have a “pacer” to get me thru that last stretch…but that security blanket had fallen thru. I was going to have to power thru and dig deep on my own. I focused hard on not acknowledging the pain that I was in. And when that didn’t work..I used that pain to propel me forward. 

The last 4 miles felt longer than they ever had. I felt absolutely alone. The dark side of my mind was having a hay day with me.  I had used up all my gas…and was running on fumes. Both glutes and my lower back were constantly cramping…sharp sharp pains shooting down the back of my legs. And the back of my shorts had rubbed skin off my tail bone. But, for the first time ever during a marathon my feet didn’t hurt at all. God bless my Kinvara’s!( To think …I almost bought a different pair of shoes 2 weeks prior to the marathon. So grateful that I didn’t. ) Even though in my mind there was a HUGE battle of wanting to quit and wanting to PR.... and then that moment I realized at mile 25 or (25.5) that I wasn’t going to make my goal…I felt that pain of disappointment. That pain of regret…of wishing I could’ve pushed harder up the hills…a sob caught in my throat and I felt the tears fill my eyes. I turned to my right and there was a guy who looked like he was in just as much pain as me. And we both smiled and shook our heads. And for some reason… just that subtle acknowledgement that I wasn’t alone…that someone else was here in my suffering gave me that last little boost I needed to get me thru to the end. And to top off that moment…. A photographer captured it. And you can see it on our faces… the pain and the relief that we weren’t alone. I mean, obviously I don’t know what he was thinking-for all I know …I had food on my face or had crazy hair or maybe he was thinking about bacon… buuuuuut we will just go with my perception of the sitch. 

 It took me a little bit but I am really proud of what I accomplished and though I am nowhere near where I want to be …. I know that I have come such a long ways! I ended my day with a pumpkin stout, pepperoni pineapple and jalapeƱo pizza, Ben & Jerry’s and Izombie.
 I thought this would be my last Portland Marathon…but let’s be honest, I still have some unfinished business.

*Past Portland Marathon times:
                Portland Marathon 2015- 5:09:59
                       Portland Marathon 2013- 5:03:30
            Portland Marathon 2012- 5:21:07

*For now it says that my time was about 4:08....but I went with my time at the 26.2 mark...since everyone on strava seemed to be over the distance as well. Also, submitted a time correction to the Portland Marathon for the 4:03:18.