Sunday, December 18, 2016

Searching for Savory: Part 4

I subscribe to a monthly box of vegan snacks, which is how I first tried these "nori wrapped energy sticks." There's a light crispiness to the seaweed wrapping, and the sunflower seed filling gives them a substantial chew. I had never eaten anything quite like it, and I immediately looked for where to buy more.

I have the POWER (wraps)!
I ordered two of each flavor from the maker's website, and enjoyed them all. I discovered that my local vegan grocery store carries them. Then I don't know if I got tired of them or I just got a bad batch, but suddenly they didn't taste good to me anymore.

A couple of years passed, and I decided to try them again for this experiment, specifically for running.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fun in the snow



Last weekend we got snow in Portland which turned into freezing rain. It took out a lot of trees in Forest Park and the surround streets, which one of them I live on. The tress took out power lines on their way down. There was also a mud slide on NW Cornell, closing down access into Portland. And that was just my little area of Portland. Since we knew we weren't going anywhere any time soon, us and a few neighbors got out chainsaws and started to clear the tress on our street. Since NW 53rd was closed, it was a ghost town at the normally very crowded trailheads, it was nice feeling like I had that area of the park to myself. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holman 25


Susan and I normally run all of Wildwood Thanksgiving weekend because it falls between both of our birthdays, this has been our birthday tradition for the past 4 years. This year there were torrential downpours over Thanksgiving weekend, so we decided to push it out a week. The problem with that plan was, I was spending the week before in Vegas at a work conference. Knowing that I was going to run all of Wildwood the day after I got home from Vegas definitely made me behave in Vegas. But a week in Vegas is still a week in Vegas, no matter how much I tried to behave and I was feeling exhausted when I got home on Friday, and Susan was getting over a stomach bug, so we decided to push all of Wildwood out again. Instead of running ~30 miles we decided to run 25, makes perfect sense, right? 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Oregon Coast 50k

We ran the inaugural Oregon Coast 50k two years ago, in 2014. The weather was bad to start, but got better, and the course was stunning. So it wasn't too difficult for my friend Leslie to convince me that we should run it this year. Ann's sister, Courtney, and my husband and child joined us in a house on the beach in Yachats for the weekend.

Race day morning from our rental house

Courtney dropped us off at the Adobe, where we picked up our races numbers and talked to Leslie and her bestie, Erin, who both decided not to run due to injuries. Ann and I boarded one of the buses and we were all driven six miles north to the start.

The casual beach start line

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Searching for Savory: Part 3

Some days are better than others, and some runs are better than others. Today was not one of the better ones. Only a few miles in, I tripped on a root and landed on my left hip, sliding on my side through the mud. My right hand was covered in prickles. Almost immediately my phone stopped working, so I didn't have any podcasts or music to listen to, and my run didn't get tracked.

Sola Bar
The muscles around the sides of my back throbbed in persistent pain that never warmed out, as I had hoped when I started. It felt like the body aches of coming down with the flu.

But one good thing did come out of it: I tried a new savory bar and it was pretty good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Iron Deficiency Trifecta

Four weeks ago I got a flu shot and almost immediately after I started to feel dizzy and tired. I left work early and went home and slept the rest of the day, the next day I only lasted at work for 2 hours. Over the weekend I started getting headaches and felt fatigued no matter how much I rested. I figured I was coming down with a cold or something. After a week of not getting better and having a mild headache all day I went to Zoomcare to try and figure out what was going on.



The doctor at Zoomcare told me she thought I had over training syndrome because I didn't take enough time to recover after CCC. I tried to debate this with her but it became apparent that she wasn't use to working with endurance athletes, so I dropped it. She conducted a normal exam and said it was possible that I was suffering from sinus headaches, but she still suggested I take 2 months off of running. She said no one wants to run in the rain anyways. UGH! I got a prescription for Sudafed and went on my way. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Searching for Savory: Part 2

Pizza in a pouch == surprisingly yum
Last year I heard about the weirdest running food product: a pizza-flavored paste in a pouch. Sounds gross, right? But it's vegan. And it was developed by Clif with Scott Jurek, who wrote the awesome book Eat and Run.

I first tried it during our Mt Rainier circumnavigation and was happily surprised. It tasted good to me, went down easily, didn't upset my stomach, and satisfied my desire for savory food.

Then I bought more, but when I got around to eating one it had a bad aftertaste-- and it turns out they were all expired (although only by one month)!

I decided to give it one more go when I got a great deal on a case.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Searching for Savory

For the past few years I've been all about eating "real food" out on long adventure runs. It feels healthier, and the range of options is far wider. But most of all, I get sick of sweet foods and I love salty things.

My go-to was a small tortilla with hummus, spinach, and some kind of pickle (okra, please!). Sure, it gets warm, the tortilla can get soggy, and the spinach wilts... And sometimes it's just not what I feel like eating.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Easy like a Sunday morning route

Mushroom cluster at the end of our run
The last 2 weeks I have been dealing with headaches and general fatigue, so much so that I skipped the Columbia Gorge 1/2 marathon for the first time since the race started 8 years ago. Susan had come down with a cold and an infection on one of her fingers, so we decided we would take it easy and only run 15 miles. I was just going to reuse one of our previous routes, but we only had one 15 mile route labeled and we had used it recently. I came up with moderate 15 mile route that I thought would be perfect for a mellow Sunday morning. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Product Review :: Saucony Women's Bullet Capris

Running the Oregon Coast 50k in the Saucony Bullet Capris - photo credit Glenn Tachiyama 

My current favorite running capris are the Saucony Bullet, which I came to own by happenstance. 

In March I traveled to Denver for work. If I stay in a hotel for more that a day I always hang up my clothes or put them in drawers, so I don't feel like I am living out of a suitcase, which is exactly what I did in Denver. After Denver I flew to Michigan to work from my Dad's house for a week. The first morning in Michigan I was digging through all my clothes looking for my favorite Nike trail running capris and I couldn't find them, I also couldn't find most of the running clothes I had packed for the trip. I slowly realized that I didn't grab anything out of the bottom drawer at the hotel. I called the hotel and they said they didn't find anything in my room. GRRRR! 

There was no way I was going to spend a week surrounded by trails and not run. We made a trip to Gazelle Sports in Grand Rapids so I could buy some new running clothes. The capris I lost had big pockets on the sides that were large enough to hold my iphone, which is perfect for when I am running without my running vest. The pocket on the sides was the only requirement I had. The only things they had at Gazelles with side pockets were a pair of short shorts with a pocket big enough for a Gu and the Saucony Bullet capris. They only had a medium and a large of the Saucony capris, I normally wear a small, but I tried on the medium because I was getting desperate. The medium fit perfectly! 

Photo from saucony.com of the Bullet Capris
The Bullet capris have become my go to capris. I love the deep mesh pockets on the outside of each leg, they hold an iphone with no problem, even when I use my heavy waterproof iphone case the pants stay in place. Other running pants with similar pockets start to slip down when I use my Lifeproof case. 

Me trying to show my iphone in the side pocket
I am also a big fan of the length of the capris, they hit just below my knee. A lot of capris seems to hit me mid-calf, which durning the warmer months is just too hot. The capris come in a lot of different colors and patterns. I own just black and the black print, I don't branch out much. 

As someone who spends a lot of time running in capris, I highly recommend the Saucony Women's Bullet Capris.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Girls Gone Wildwood releases limited-edition stickers



Show Your Wild Side on the Trails
Girls Gone Wildwood releases limited-edition stickers reflective of Portland’s Forest Park

Portland, Ore. – Girls Gone Wildwood, a one-stop shop about the adventures of two ultra-trail runners, has released new limited edition, weather-resistant stickers. Designed after trail signs in Portland’s quintessential Forest Park, these new stickers reflect Girls Gone Wildwood’s Oregon roots, but showcase the global footprint of two dedicated outdoor enthusiasts.

Be a part of a movement that celebrates women who lace up their sneakers, hit the trails and rack up hundreds of miles both at home and abroad. GirlsGoneWildwood.com was founded in 2011 by best friends Ann Wallace and Susan Kelley as a place to record all their Forest Park running routes. It is now the largest repository of running routes in Forest Park and has grown to include race reports, hiking and running routes from all over the world.


The stickers are free and available while supplies last at GirlsGoneWildwood.com, where you can also follow along with Ann and Susan’s running and travel adventures. Also, visit them at Instagram at @girlsgonewildwood.

To get a sticker email your name and address to info[at]girlsgonewildwood[dot]com. We don't share information. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Running and a Wedding in the Olympic National Forest

Lake Crescent first thing in the morning
Last week a good friend of mine, Wes got married at Lake Crescent, in the Olympic National Forest. The first time I went to Lake Crescent was 20 years ago, with Wes, Chris and several of our other friends. I was captured by it's beauty then as much as I am today. Though 20 years ago hiking a few miles was probably enough for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Upper Middle Rheinsteig hike

The Rhein

After spending a week in Chamonix, France hiking, running and enjoying all the UTMB festivities, Dad, Stephanee, John and I headed to Germany to hike the upper middle section of the Rheinsteig. I was a little nervous about the hike because only a day earlier I had run the CCC, but we DNF'd 55km in, so my legs weren't totally destroyed.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Girls Gone CCC

At the start


It started with a surprise Christmas gift. Ann informed me that she had payed 50 euros each to put us into the lottery for the smaller sibling of the most famous—and infamous— trail ultra in the world. At 101 km, Courmayeur-Champex Lac-Chamonix (CCC) is a distance we’ve done before, much less daunting than the 170 km of the original Ultra-Trail du Mount Blanc(UTMB). Best of all, the course is set in the Alps, a circumnavigation through three countries of the tallest mountain in Europe, renowned for outdoor enthusiasts and some of the most beautiful views I’ve only seen in photos.

This whimsical gift took a turn about a month later when we discovered that we both got picked in the lottery to run. All of the races we had planned for the year had to be reevaluated. Peterson Ridge 40 miler was still a good way to get our base miles up early, but our big race for the year—the Fat Dog 70 miler—wouldn’t work since it was two weeks before CCC. We cancelled and forfeited the money. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Running the wrong way

the skyline tavern - empty at 8am 

Six days after getting back from Europe I was finally adjusted back to the Pacific timezone and decided I wanted to get a good run in, but I had been experiencing minor back pains since the flight back and didn't want to over do it. I decided to run 17 miles but was being a little lazy about creating a route. Drinking a cup of coffee and staring at my Forest Park map, I realized that running from the Skyline Tavern to my house is just a little over 17 miles. If I was smart I would of waited until later in the afternoon and ran from my house to the Skyline Tavern and enjoyed a beer while I waited for John to pick me up. But instead I had him drop me off at 8 am and I ran home, I wish could blame it on jetlag. Next time.... 

Waterline - the trail from Skyline that connect to mile 24 on Wildwood

Crazy water tower that looks like something out of Lost

Running selfie - so happy to be running and not in pain!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Running in Chamonix

We walked from our rental house to the Chamonix Planpraz cable car, rode to the top, and took the TMB (Trail du Mount Blanc) toward BrĂ©vent. Ann had mentioned taking the cable car up and running back down, so I was surprised by the climb at the beginning.

John and Ann planning our routes with the map en route in the cable car 

So many trails at the top of Planpraz

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The absolutely nutty North Umpqua Trail 100k

After an amazing year full of adventures-- our first 100k atMiwok, running around Rainier, Hood AND St Helens, a PR at the Columbia Gorge half-- I was looking for our next big thing, preferably in our beloved home state. I found the North Umpqua Trail, 72 miles end-to-end along the Umpqua River in southern Oregon. And then I discovered that there was a supported race entirely along it, the NUT 100k. It was too good to resist, so when registration opened, Ann & I signed up.

Our race calendar for 2016 filled up and then we got picked for the CCC, one of the Ultra Trail du Mount Blanc (UTMB) races in late August. The NUT fit into our race calendar as the perfect big training run-- a similar distance but about half the elevation gain, and much closer to home.

Our running and training was going smoothly, even with our disappointing time at the Peterson Ridge 40 miler, until suddenly, it wasn't.

First vista-- we all stopped to snap photos

Ann's major back issue hit the day before we were set to take off work to do our final long run. My son got sick, and then I came down with strep throat exactly one week before the race. It was a rough month, with my average weekly mileage plummeting to about 5 miles. I concentrated on what I could control: resting, taking antibiotics, and going to physical therapy, acupuncture and massage to try to help the Achilles issue that has bothered me since the beginning of the year. I also skipped running the awesome Beacon Rock 25k the weekend before the NUT, which I had planned to run with my husband, Erik. He ran it solo—his first trail race, distance longer than a half marathon, and run in 100 degrees (F)!

Come Wednesday, three days til the race, I buckled down to it. Staring down my longest-ever run (at 64 miles, NUT is about two miles longer than 100k) without my best friend and training partner was terrifying. But I knew that Ann would give anything to run the race, and because I was physically able to run it, I owed it to both of us.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Preparing for CCC

Hiking TMB in 2013

Every week our friend David has been asking us how our training has been going and if we are still planning on running CCC. We half jokingly respond, "what training?" There were probably only a few times after I went to the ER, that I thought I would have to cancel the whole trip to Europe, but I had more than a few doubts about making it to the starting line of CCC

But that was several months ago, every week for the past 2+ months I have been adding 3 miles to my weekly long runs and I am up to ~27 miles for this week. Initially my main goal was recovery more than training, but the last few weeks I have been focused on the race and using the time we have before the race in the most efficient manner, without over doing it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Siouxon Creek

Me and Courtney at Chinook Falls

My sister, Courtney was visiting from Seattle and we had planned to hike around Mt. St. Helen's, because in the 10 years she has lived in the Pacific Northwest, she hadn't been. Saturday morning I checked the weather and the forecast called for no rain but overcast at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, so we headed out for the 2 hour drive from Portland. We were within 10 miles of Johnston Ridge and it started to rain and as we got a little closer the fog was so dense that we could barley see 10 feet in front of us. We pulled over at a look at point and pulled out our hiking book to figure out what plan b was going to be. We picked Siouxon Creek.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Elk Mountain - Kings Mountain loop

Friday Susan and I did our "long run", since she was leaving on Saturday for a 2 week vacation to Ireland. A long run meaning an incremental increase to what I did the week before, since I am slowly easing back into running because of my herniated disc. We ran 2.5 hours / ~13 miles in Forest Park. With the long run done and the long 4th of July weekend ahead of us, I planned a few harder hikes for John and me to do. The first being the Elk Mountain - Kings Mountain loop.

From the top of King Mountain

Sunday, June 26, 2016

5 week update with a little bit of running and a lot of hiking

Forest Park
It has been 5 weeks since I went to the ER for what turned out to be a herniated disc. I have also changed jobs, so I had a few weeks in between jobs to focus on physical therapy and recovery. 

The only pain I have had is a little in my lower back when I sit and slouch for a log period of time, but even then the pain is probably a 2 on a scale of 1-10. What I have been experiencing is paresthesia. Paresthesia is often described as "pins and needles". The best description I found is from here. "The sensation, sometimes, occurs without warning and is a mostly painless sensation. It’s best described by its tingling, numbness and distinct skin crawling feeling." 
Lake 22 in Washington

The first few weeks my lower left leg didn't have as much sensation when touched as my right leg, which felt really strange when I tried to shave. It also felt like my leg had come into contact with stinging nettlesIn the 3 weeks since my original blog post about why I am not running, the paresthesia in my lower left leg has lessened and isn't constant. Now it is just a small sensation, which doesn't seem to worsen after a long hike or the little bit of running I am doing. My PT is amazed how well I am doing in such a short period of time. 


Forest Park - my sanity
I have done a ton of hiking in the last 5 weeks, which at first was mainly in Forest Park but in the last 3 weeks I have done several hikes in the Gorge and the Mt. Hood Wilderness, I even went to Seattle to see my sister and got hike in there. 


my running schedule
The Gorge
We have slowly started to add running back in. The first week of running was 3 days of 15 minutes of run walk intervals, the 2nd week was similar but for 20 minutes at a time. Going into the 3rd week, I asked Ariel, my PT, if she thought it was ok to increase the amount of time I was running, but keep with the run / walk intervals. She said it was ok as long as there was no increased pain. Last weekend I ran for 80 minutes, this weekend Susan and I ran for 2 hours and I will probably increase it by 30 minutes next weekend. My weekday runs are ~40 minutes. It is no where near the 60+ miles a week I was running 5 weeks ago, but it is a lot more than I thought I would be doing after I was diagnosed and thought I wouldn't be able to run for 6 months. With all the hiking and walking my weekly milage is still pretty good, ~45 miles / week. 



Coyote Wall

The Gorge from Coyote Wall
Mt Hood from Bald Mountain
My goal is not to over do it, keep recovering, enjoy the summer and to make it to Chamonix for CCC at the end of August. We might be hiking all of CCC, but I am feeling positive that we will make it to Chamonix. 

Some of the recent hikes I have done:
Salmon River
Bald Mountain from Ramona Falls
Lake Twenty-two
Coyote Wall
Larch Mountain
Lookout Mountain

Dad on the way to Larch Mountain

Before hiking with Dad


Back at Nike and running with Susan -- just like I never left

Mt Hood on the way up to Lookout Mountain

Mt Hood selfie
Forest Park with Dad

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why I'm not running

Friday, May 20th 
noon : yoga, I tweaked my back while twisting, enough that it hurt to go into a headstand.

Saturday, May 21st 
7am - noon : We ran ~23 miles, my lower back did hurt when I started running but it didn't feel any worse when I was done. 

Sunday, May 22nd 
7am : It was hard to bend forward and my back didn't feel great so I decided to skip going to yoga, since I didn't want to make it worse because we were going to run 30 miles in the Gorge on Tuesday. I instead drove an hour to my mom's house. 

11am - 4pm : At my mom's my left leg felt sore, but after lunch I had a noticeable pain going down my leg, I wasn't sure what was going on. 

4pm - 5:30pm : Driving home the pain in my left leg just kept getting worse, I kept rubbing on it hoping that would help, but it didn't. 

5:30pm - midnight : When I got home I could barely walk from one room to another without stopping to lay down. I WAS IN SO MUCH PAIN. It felt like my leg muscles were spasming, I had never felt anything like it before. I eventually made it to the couch, where laying flat on my back seem to relieve most of the pain. I had no idea what was going on, but was hopeful that a good night's sleep would help. The whole evening I was texting my husband, John, who was in Copenhagen for work, about all the pain I was in. I am pretty sure at that point he thought I was being melodramatic. I took an extra sleeping pill to make sure I slept through the night. 

Monday, May 23rd
2am : I woke up a few times in pain but I was able to get back to sleep, but finally at 2am I woke up with my left leg in so much pain that I was crying and screaming. Trying to walk to the bathroom was so difficult that I didn't want to get out of bed again to try and find painkillers. I was home alone and didn't know what to do, the pain wasn't going away and nothing I did made it any better. My husband told me to call an ambulance and go to the ER, but I was afraid of how much it would cost, even though I had insurance. I thought if I could just wait it out until 5am, then I could call a friend to come and take me to the ER. 

3am : I couldn't take the pain any longer, I tried calling my friend Chris but he didn't pick-up, I then called Susan who picked up on the 2nd ring and she said she would be over in 15 minutes. 

3:30am - 6:30am : The ER - It really was a blur, I was in so much pain. They gave me a cocktail of pain meds along with a shot of morphine, and finally the pain started to subside. They suspected I had sciatica, even though the pain was on the side of my left leg and not down the back of it. The x-ray showed a narrowed space between L4-5, which was probably causing the pain. The ER doctor suggested I contact my primary care doctor to get an MRI. I do remember Susan telling the nurse or doctor that we were running a 100k in 2 weeks, I don't remember them responding to her. I also felt very lucky that I had Susan there taking care of everything.  

7am : Back home. Susan got me situated on the couch with everything I needed to be comfortable. We called my moms, who could come over and take care of me so Susan could get back to her family. I texted with my primary care doctor and he was able to fit me in at 2:30pm. 

2:30pm : more pain pills... I was at Dr. Shay's office trying to coherently tell him the events of the last 72 hours. He didn't think it was sciatica, since the pain wasn't going down the back of my legs, he thought I might just be experiencing severe muscle spams but wanted to check with a specialist to make sure it wasn't a bulging disc. 

Tuesday, May 24th - Friday, May 27th : The next few days were a real haze of pain, pills and doctor's appointments. I ended up going to an Orthopedist who recommended me getting an MRI. I went to PT twice and had a few strength exercises to do. By Thursday, I was standing without any pain and was able to go on an hour walk, which was a huge improvement over the previous days where I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without being in pain. I still had some numbness on the inside of my lower left leg, which caused it to be heavy and weak. My PT, Ariel, said it was fine to do hour long walks as long as I wasn't in pain, but no yoga, spin, or RUNNING. UGH. And the Orthopedist never called back with the MRI results, so I went into the long holiday weekend wondering....

THE LONGGGGGGGGGGG WEEKEND (May 27th - 30th) : I made the mistake of Googling "running with a bulging disc L4-5", after that it was a downward spiral. I got really depressed thinking I was never going to run again, I only got out of bed to go on my hour walks and then it was even a struggle. I hit rock bottom Sunday night, but that is a story left for another time. 

Tuesday, May 31st : The Ortho's PA finally called me back with the MRI results and said I did have a bulging disc between L4-5, I tried to write down everything he said, but he seemed rushed and I didn't get it all down. He did suggest I get an injection, which seemed strange to me since I hadn't had any pain for almost a week. 

Luckily I had a PT appointment that afternoon and I could ask Ariel all the questions I didn't get to ask the PA. I have been seeing Ariel since February, when I started having knee and back issues, and she has always been able to set my mind at ease when I mentally start to freakout about something at doctor tells me, and this time was no different. She called and got a copy of the MRI report and we went over it with me. She suggested I talk to my Dr again about the injection, since I wasn't in pain. 

I got ahold of the PA and he said if I wasn't experiencing pain that I probably didn't need the injection. (Only if he listened to me the first time!!!!) He also said it would probably be 2 months before I could run, but yoga and spin class were ok. Ariel advised me against yoga and spin class because of the forward folding. I was quickly losing trust in the PA, but I scheduled a follow-up appointment for 2 weeks out.

Wednesday, June 1st - Monday June 6th : I have been walking/hiking in Forest Park every day and even hiked 10 miles on the Salmon River trail over the weekend. I ended up with 43 miles for the week, not bad for being injured. I am diligent about doing all of my PT exercises and going to see Ariel twice a week.

I got a referral from Ariel for another doctor to get a second opinion. The new doctor, Dr. Tatsumi got me in right away and spent 30 minutes going over my MRI and answering my questions. He said I had a large bulge that I could have removed with surgery, which only took and hour but would have me at home for a few weeks and recovering for at least a month. Or I could see if the bulge reduces or gets resorbed, he said larger bulges are more likely to do so. He said since I wasn't experiencing any pain I could try running again and see what happens. Which at first I was excited to hear, but as I thought about it more I got scared, I don't want to go through the pain again.

I am conflicted about what to do, luckily I have a PT appointment tomorrow can talk to Ariel about the options. I debated canceling my follow-up appointment next week with the first doctor, but for now I am going to keep it to see what he thinks. 

This is not the way I wanted to spend the summer, but I have very thankful I am not in pain and I am able to hike and hopefully (slowly) add some more activities back, so I can stay in shape. I am trying to stay optimistic, which isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially when I start Googling about running and bulging discs. I am very luckily to have found a great PT and have a VERY supportive family, husband and bff/running partner. I know I will get back to running, but I just have to be patient, which I am not good at.