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the berlin marathon

Of course, insomnia struck the night before a big race, and I only got four hours of sleep. And then I couldn't figure out how to work the induction stove in the morning and burned the gluten-free toast I had packed specifically for my pre-race meal. And then the starting area was so chaotic (and seriously: why is everyone here so damn tall?) that I barely made it on time for my wave. And then I lost a gel. And then I saw some lady puke at Mile Seven (mmm, my favorite!), almost stepped on a pile of human poo while trying to pee in the bushes, got snot rocketed on by a stranger (again, it sucks to be small here because no one sees you) and came very close to running smack into a flying wad of phlegm. Also, I now have puffy, painful blisters on both feet and will likely lose more toenails, and my knees have decided that bending is overrated.

In other words, the Berlin Marathon is the best marathon I have ever run. Ever. True story.

Yes, there weren't enough port-a-potties and the start was a cluster and people literally pissed and shit all over the city and somehow all of Denmark turned out to either run the race or spectate so I got a little confused about what country I was in and was more than a bit jealous because my country didn't turn out en masse to support me (fail, 'Merica, total fail), but man, that race was awesome.

It was the first marathon I ran with a strategy that I was physically and mentally able to execute. I started slow and easy in the 10:15 range, just as I had worked on in training, and picked it up as the miles ticked off. And I somehow managed to kick at the end -- a nice, big, effortless kick that started at Mile 18 and didn't stop. (Dear 2000-meter track repeats: Thank you. I get it now and will forever stop complaining about your pain.) Never in my life have I been able to pick people off at the end of a marathon until today. (By the way, those Danes in their bright red shirts made good targets. And it brought me great joy to pass men twice my height.)

Other small victories: My fueling and nutrition were spot on (Hammer Gel, I love you), and since I brought my own bottle and had been practicing opening and taking gels while keeping a steady running pace, I cruised through the aid stations without stopping (a good thing since they were huge clusters of flying plastic cups and craziness and they made me stressed out). Also, the course was ridiculously flat, and the weather was absolutely perfect -- cool and crisp. After training on Seattle's hills in high humidity, Berlin felt almost easy.

And I loved the Adidas cheering zone at Mile 18 -- talk about pure energy that literally brought tears to my eyes. I loved the Berlin residents who set up DJ booths on balconies and in windows to blast techno for the runners. I loved the architecture and the spectators who rang actual full-size cow bells and the random runner dressed as a bear wearing lederhosen and the streets lined with trees just starting to turn colors. I loved running through the Brandenburg Gate to the finish. And I loved how no one cared about nudity, so in the post-race area, people just stripped down and changed on the lawn, boobs out, no biggie.

I ended up with a 4:33:47 finish, for a big, fat 9-minute PR that I totally wasn't expecting (but secretly really wanted, very, very badly, in a sacrifice-my-toenails-pee-in-the-bushes way).

(Blame the blurriness on the fact that I ran with my phone, so it was covered in sweat and salt for this photo. But I think you get the gist of things.)

And of course, since I'm here in Germany after all (Danes, try as you might, I will not be fooled!), this was my post-race meal:

Mmm. Sausage.

[insert haribo song here]

A few thoughts on the eve of my first international marathon (which, with some 40,000 runners, is also one of the largest marathons in the world, and therefore resulted in a cluster of an expo, during which I felt very, very short):

(Aside from feeling like the smallest person in Europe) I am strangely calm right now, mostly because there was so much drama involved in the planning of this trip (which if you're truly curious, I may one day explain, but until then, let's just say that it's a long, dumb story that features the silent treatment, changes in travel itineraries and an expired passport), that I haven't had a chance to freak out about running a marathon in a foreign country because I've been so busy freaking out over what the hell was going to happen with this trip in the first place.

Honestly, I'm probably more nervous about getting lost on the way to starting line than I am about the actual race itself.

Also, I have no idea how I will do tomorrow. With the exception of one run this past week (which I skipped because I was in a plane over the Atlantic), I've done everything my coach has told me to do. But I don't know if this will result in a PR -- my longest run this training cycle was only 18 miles, performed at a ridiculously slow, mildly hungover pace in the middle of a thunderstorm. However, my track workouts have been strong, and I've gotten faster, at least when it comes to short distances. But I am also dealing with injury and recovering from a cold. And let's not forget jet lag and 14+ hours spent traveling.

And I hope to god that eating chicken breast and a baked potato for dinner tonight was a smart pre-race choice.

That's right -- in Berlin, baked potatoes resemble swans. Or maybe swans resemble baked potatoes. Who knows.

Another crazy thing about this marathon: I think I put 4:30 down as my target finish time, and I'm in the last and slowest corral. I know 4:30 isn't fast, but it isn't horrible either, which makes me think this course is going to be insanely fast tomorrow. In other words, I'm slightly terrified 39,999 people will finish before me, possibly trampling me in the process.

Maybe I should freak out after all.

But no matter what happens tomorrow, at least I am here in this beautiful city (with its very tall people).

I'm also completely surrounded by sausage (and no, I'm not just referring to the soccer bar I walked past last night).

I have never seen so much sausage in my life.


it's taper week when ...

All you can think about is food. And how you must have it, every two to three hours.

You are not above ordering an entire pizza just for yourself as an afternoon snack at work and then polishing the whole thing off in one sitting while your coworkers stare.

You cannot watch UFC because it makes you want to use the Jon Jones elbow smash on your server, who seems to have gotten lost on the way back to the table to take your order.

For dessert, you opt for a heaping plate of mashed potatoes.

You hate the poor soul who has agreed to be your emergency contact because it's 5:30 in the morning and you're wide awake and your stomach is growling and he's still sleeping and how dare he sleep through your hunger, goddammit.

You and your running buddy gasp your way through 800s while talking about all of the things you want to shove in your mouths for dinner as soon as you are done with this track workout.

You tell the really drunk friend at the bar that he should eat something so he'll feel better, but really you're just planning to eat all of the food he orders because he's too drunk to know any better.

In the time it has taken your brunch companion to eat three bites, you've inhaled an entire omelette, a side of cheesy grits and two pieces of fruit.

Berlin: Six days.

sorry, mom

You know those moments when you think that maybe somehow you've gone back in time and you're 18 again and perhaps on the verge of doing something really stupid yet incredibly awesome?

Like when you find yourself initialing paperwork warning you about the possibility of fainting and injury and that the actions you are about to consent to will most likely be totally irreversible for the rest of your life?

And when you are grateful your mom lives hundreds of miles away so she can't do that whole subtle Asian-mom-quietly-yet-horribly-pinching-you-under-the-arm thing because she is really, really upset with you?


I guess I'm officially Seattle now. (And also possibly going through an early mid-life crisis.)

And in case you're wondering: Yes, that's my left forearm. Yes, it's a quote from a song that I have listened to multiple times a day every single day for the last six months because the lyrics pretty much describe how I feel about a lot of things in my life. Yes, I also chose this quote because it's completely appropriate for Ironman Arizona, which I've decided will be my first 140.6 in 2014. And yes, I went with this specific placement so I could look at the quote while checking my Garmin during a workout.  

against the odds

Screw you, universe. I ran anyway.

Despite staying home sick all day yesterday staring at this:

(It's totally a boob, right?)

Despite getting so bored from being home sick that I went to chicken shit bingo in the evening ...

... and what was supposed to be an early night turned into bar-hopping and burrata and the climbing of a street sign (let's add this to the list of things that only seem like a good idea at the time) and then I subsequently absolutely hated myself this morning.

Despite finally getting it together and starting the run only to end up in a thunderstorm and total downpour at Mile 3. (Thank you, Seattle. Thanks a whole damn lot.)

Despite my Garmin dying exactly 10.78 miles into my 18-miler, forcing me to switch to an iPhone app and then do math to figure out how much farther I needed to run. (I hate math normally. Imagine math with runner brain. Even more horrible.)

Despite all of this (and being annoyed at all of the Seahawks fans wearing their Seahawks gear all damn day -- where were my Niners fans?), I ran anyway. 

And it was awesome. 

The rain made for cool, overcast, lovely running weather. And my route took me on a crazy tour of the city -- Capitol Hill to Downtown to Elliott Bay to Interbay to Ballard to Burke Gilman to Fremont to Greenlake to Fremont again.

In fact, I ended up so far away from my starting point that I had to call a cab to take me back.

Thankfully, the cab driver was not a Seahawks fan.

karma may or may not exist

This is what my Friday night looks like:

They're just resting between DJ sets at the mad dance party we're having right now. In fact, I'm pretty sure the neighbors are about to call the cops because we're so incredibly rowdy.

OK, perhaps I exaggerate. But cat dance party just sounds so much better than spending Friday night in bed with a sore throat two weeks before race day. That's right: My stupid marathon is Sept. 29, and I've come down with a craptacular cold.

The theme for my 2013 race season seems to be "derailment" and/or "bet you never saw that shit coming."

I guess I deserve it because I'm such a horrible person. Yet another example of my failure as a human being: Yesterday I told a solicitor for a children's charity that I don't like children and only support causes involving animals and birth control.

Yup. Let's just picture hell as a reunion of old friends around a bonfire.

I made this!

I bet when you saw that headline, you thought I'd be posting a photo of poo.

Don't worry. It's much worse.

Dear inventors of technology: Thank you for giving me new ways to drive everyone I know crazy with my cat and creepy doll obsessions.

In unrelated (and perhaps less nightmare-inducing) news, the tendinitis/bursitis flare-up in my right TFL seems to be going away. I've been seeing my new chiropractor twice a week and have gone from asking him if it's OK if I scream through our entire appointment ("Yes, but let me close the window first so we don't scare anyone outside") to just clenching my teeth and trying not to kick him in the face. I'm interpreting this as a vast improvement.

I also did 3 x 2000 at the track Tuesday night and an easy 50-minute run this morning with only mild discomfort that eventually went away after I warmed up. Yes, there is still a little pain in my right leg, largely due to the tightness in my hip pulling everything out of whack, but at least I can run.

So Berlin will happen. It may not be the blockbuster, PR-smashing A race I had originally hoped for, but I'm still excited for my first international marathon.

And I've finally figured out the itinerary for the rest of the trip. I'll give you three clues: Baguette. Croissant. And lots of GlutenEase.

bah! (<= brain dump)

So everything amazing from the weekend doesn't really apply to today since I'm having a horrible tendinitis flare-up in my right TFL. Sad moment at tonight's team workout when my coach told me to do a dumb easy run around the lake while everyone else did hill repeats. Argh. Also: Why is Berlin less than four weeks away? How can I convince work to let me get a standing desk since sitting for hours every day makes me cry and have self-pity tantrums? And: What the hell does whale poo look like?!

Sorry about that last one. I should probably just Google it, but instead I'm on my kitchen floor in pajamas drinking Pinot Noir.

True story.

Some other random thoughts:

Romance is lame. What really counts is asking someone to be your emergency contact for race registration, etc., when you've moved to a totally new state and your body hurts and you have trust issues. Don't laugh. This is a big deal.

If I tell myself over and over and over again that I'm not really injured, then it's not really true. Right? RIGHT?

Fifteen percent alcohol in a Pinot Noir is pretty damn high. Especially for a Tuesday night.

Today I went to the hardware store on my lunch break (to make spare keys for said emergency contact who will also be baby-sitting my children cats while I am out of town, thus indicating yet another really serious, absolutely terrifying step and god I feel so nervous and more than a little bit flustered just typing that) and I saw a man walking down the street with a giant orange cat just sitting on his shoulder, like no big deal. Dear cats: WTF. Why are we not doing this? Why are you such terrible slackers?! Think of all the joy you are robbing the world of with your laziness.


I kind of hate when people use that word and aren't referring to the Iliad.

But I really don't know how else to describe the ridiculousness of the past few days (which, let me add, have amounted to the first weekend I've been in town all month). Hence, this moment of vocabulary-induced self-hatred: Epic.

Excuse me while I punch myself in the face.

Anyway, what began with an old-school-Nintendo-themed wrestling cabaret where you got to throw empty beer cans at the wrestlers (god, Seattle has won my heart in an incredible way) Thursday night, spiraled into a food orgasm Friday, followed by drag queens and mesh and yelling the lyrics to New Order songs at the top of my lungs Saturday, then a demolition derby Sunday and today a reunion with my good friends from my very favorite ramen restaurant in Sacramento.

I also ran 14 miles, swam through an algae bloom that looked like vomit (in hindsight, this was probably not the smartest idea), rode a very large ferris wheel, went to two farmers markets, had an incredible cup of tea, got my hair done and cooked enough food to supply me with lunch for the next two days.

In other words: Yes.

And this too:

OK, maybe not this. Maybe anything but this. Though I'd bet money the e-word doesn't make him cringe.