Newport Marathon Race Recap (i.e. I Did It!)

Is there any other feeling quite like crossing the finish line at your first marathon??

Not that I’ve ever experienced.

Me nearing finish 6 - edited

Months of training, hundreds of miles, and hours of mental and physical effort finally peaked for me this past weekend at the Newport Marathon.  And though I was seriously having some pre-race jitters in the 24 hours before the start, I am incredibly proud to say that I did it!  Not only can I say that I did it, but I am pleased with how I performed, so even better.  Before I get into some of the details of the event, here are my final numbers:

  • Finish Time: 4:08:28
  • Overall Place: 384 out of 751
  • Division Place: 36 out of 77
  • Gender Place: 154 out of 385

I had hoped going in that I could finish under 4:15:00 for my first marathon, so I am thrilled that I beat that by several minutes!  I would love to get myself to a sub-4 hour performance, but there is time for that, right?  One thing at a time.

Start Sign - edited

I was definitely nervous going in, though those nerves didn’t really kick in until the night before.  I actually did better then I had expected during my final taper week (though I still didn’t enjoy tapering one bit), but by the time I went to pick up my race packet the night before the marathon, I was all over the map.  I was excited, anxious, doubtful and confident all at the same time (yes, that is possible).  One thing that helped with my nerves was the fact that the race was really well organized.  The packet pick-up was smooth; there was a shuttle the morning of the race that stopped at all the popular hotels, picking up runners and spectators to take them to the start line, and the race started promptly.  All excellent things so kudos to the race director!

The course was beautiful.  Even for someone like me who is TERRIFIED of the ocean and deep water in general, it was gorgeous.   We started out with the first few miles running through the city, then headed down by the ocean and along the bay.  The views were definitely a plus – sparkling water to one side, lush trees to the other, with a smattering of homes, shops, and ocean-front businesses along the way.  The locals were also amazing – many of whom set up outside their homes to cheer everyone on.  To top it all off, the weather was pretty much PERFECT.  After a week or more of cold, constant rain pounding the Pacific Northwest, all was well.  The sun was out, the wind was calm, and temps were moderate.

So, with all of that good energy, how could I not be set up for success, right?

Me waving - edited

At the start, I was eager to go, but still a bit nervous.  But, I settled into a rhythm that I carried pretty well for well over the first half of the race.  I felt good.  I felt loose and strong.  I remember at one point, around mile 13, thinking: This is great!  Maybe it won’t hurt after all!

Oh, that’s funny to think about.  Sometimes I’m just silly.

Anyway, the majority of the way things were really solid and I was pleased with my pace.  I certainly started to notice some pain, though, and realized the error of my earlier thinking.  My left hip and lower back began to ache around mile 18 or so.  It grew steadily until the end of the race and during miles 22-25, I honestly was in quite a bit of discomfort.  My pace slowed significantly (though I never once stopped running).  At that point, though, it was close enough to the end where I could just focus on each individual mile.  I celebrated every little blue mile marker I passed.  When I strode by mile 25, I was thrilled.  That last 1.2 miles was actually pretty amazing.  Knowing that I was that close to finishing, the pain I felt became irrelevant.  I was able to pick back up my speed somewhat and finish with a surge.

Finishing a race with a surge feels GREAT.

Me with medal 3 - edited

When I crossed the finish line I was certainly tired and sore, but I was also thrilled.  I have some great moments in my life, don’t get me wrong, but the feeling of that moment is uniquely special to me.  And it reminds me of how very important running has become to my life.

I’m already thinking about my next races and my future marathons.  I never doubted wanting to run the race or wanting to run the next one.  I knew even in those moments of pain and fatigue that I was ready to do it again.

And again.

And again.

In Regards to Selecting A Marathon Training Plan . . .

. . . frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming.  I mentioned previously that I committed to running my first marathon.  So once that decision was made, I logically moved on to the next step in the process, which is to plan my training for said marathon.

Now, for those of you have trained for your first marathon (or maybe you are beginning to now), you may have noticed that training plans abound.  They are not difficult to find.  Plenty of running coaches and successful marathoners have published their ideas about how one should train for running the infamous 26.2 miles.  So, it can be a bit overwhelming to find the one that’s right for you.  Complicating the matter for me was that while dozens of marathon training plans exist, they actually tend to exist on opposing ends of the fitness spectrum, leaving many folks sort of in the middle, like myself, feeling like they don’t quite fit.

Training Log 2

What I mean, you see, is that most marathon training plans I found are either:

A)    For complete novices, new runners, with little to no base weekly mileage to start; or,

B)    For runners who have completed a marathon or two and are looking to improve on their overall speed and performance (i.e. ‘Run Your Best Time Ever!’ plans or ‘Race Your BQ!’ plans – BQ, by the way, is runner’s lingo for completing a marathon with a time that will qualify you for the legendary Boston Marathon).

I don’t really quite fit into either of these categories.

Story of my life.

This will be my first marathon – so am I a novice?  But, wait, I’ve been running consistently for over a year now, so I’m not brand new to the sport.  I’ve got a base weekly mileage of approximately 30 per week, which places me above what most ‘beginning’ training plans say a ‘beginner’ usually has, but I’ve not looking to run ‘my best time ever!’ – just to finish a marathon the first time around.  I’ll worry about speed later.

Beginner training plans often start out with weekly mileage somewhere in the low 20’s, which would be a significant cut back from what I’m used to doing now.  Long runs start at about 6-8 miles, when currently I run long at a minimum of around 13 miles.  Yet, looking at the more advanced plans, I’d be getting up to 50 miles a week, with multiple runs at 20 or more miles, something I’ve never done and am told as a first-timer, isn’t smart to do.

Nothing quite fit.


MarathonGuide4_mdIn the end, I sought some advice on the Runner’s World forums and decided to go with a trusted expert – good ole’ Hal Higdon.  Hal, at least, has a novice 1 and a novice 2 training plan, plus intermediate 1 and intermediate 2, thus offering a bit more variety.  As a first-timer, I’ve based my plan on the novice 2, but am taking the advice of my fellow runners and letting myself be open to running my long runs a mile or two longer than the plan initially begins with, so as to not cut too far back on my current base.

It feels good to have made a decision and have a schedule laid out before me (I am a planner at heart).  Being that the plan is 18-weeks long, I officially begin this coming Monday and, in response to feeling a bit run down lately, have decided to make this week an easy, scaled back run week to give my body a chance to rest up for what’s to come.

If anyone else is currently marathon training and/or you’ve used Hal’s plans, please feel free to share your thoughts – I’d love to hear them!

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Local – #6

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.


The concept of eating, shopping, and consuming all things local has been all the rage over the last couple of years.  I’m glad that it’s catching on and I’m glad to be a part of it.  My only concern is . . ., well, actually I have TWO concerns about this.

The first concern is that sometimes when things get a lot of buzz, they also get a lot of push back.  Becoming popular also means becoming a target.  Once popular, it’s easy to be written off as a passing fad, overrated, or just passé. My second concern is that once something becomes a big trend, (in this case even getting its own term – localvoire.  Side note, while I love the concept, I loathe that word), it can sometimes lose its meaning.  When something is trendy, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and the group mentality of it, without actually understanding what it is your doing and why it’s important.


I worry about both of these things when it comes to the concept of consuming locally and so I will spend my time today discussing why this needs to be more than just a passing trend and is, in fact, a practice that has massive implications for our communities.

My personal story and passion for living a lifestyle focused on buying local really starts with my move to Portland.  Sadly, I didn’t always live here.  I spent many years (too many years, really) in Phoenix.  When I moved to Portland in 2009, my whole sense of community changed.  It might even be more apt to say that I finally found a sense of community that I never knew existed.

Portland is a haven for small business owners, craftspeople, artisans, entrepreneurial types, urban farmers, and foodies.  I consider myself really fortunate in this regard, as I know not all cities have this particular type of abundance.  When I made the migration from the strip-mall filled desert to Portland, three things immediately stood out to me:

1)      Trees and other green things (I seriously didn’t think trees really were so plentiful outside of full-on forests.  I was SHOCKED to see parksPathway full of trees.  Who knew??)

2)      Proper neighborhoods – With neighborhood-y names (Woodstock, Hawthorne, Mt. Tabor, Nob Hill, et cetera) and with their own distinct personalities, friendly neighbors, and corner shops

3)      The incredible lack of mega-retailer establishments in the city (sure they exist, but not nearly to the extent of what I was used to, and many actually live mostly in the suburbs, rather than the heart of the city)

While I still marvel at the first one, it’s the latter two that are most relevant to this discussion.  The thing about these is that I now feel truly connected to a community – my community.  I feel connected to the farmers and retailers and craftspeople and roadside markets and I want to foster that connection.  It has become vitally important to me to support my neighbors in order to have lasting impacts on us locally, as well as on our world at large.

I keep my food choices as local as possible in a few ways.  First, I buy a great deal of my food from local markets, both from farmer’s markets and local shops/grocery stores (I am eternally grateful for New Season’s Market and get excited for trips to Food Fight).  Second, I am a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, so for several months out of the year, I get much of my produce delivered directly from a farm just a couple hundred miles away from my home.  I’ve never met Sophie and Gabe from my CSA farm, but I read their newsletters and take their expert guidance on how to store and prepare the wonderful fruits and vegetables they grow.  Third, I buy many locally made food products (even when I do shop at larger stores).  These may be items like jam, bread and snack bars (Oregon has loads of companies that produce great products – Bob’s Red Mill, Dave’s Killer Bread, Turtle Island Foods, for instance).  Finally, when I do eat out at restaurants, it’s pretty much always at an independently owned, non-chain establishment.  Not only is the food generally better, but the service and atmosphere usually are, too.

By making these food choices, I know that I am:

  • Strengthening my local economy
  • Supporting entrepreneurship, as well as the realization of dreams and successes of individuals working to offer something to their community
  • Contributing to the availability of a diversity of food choices (rather than contributing to an environment where a mega-retailer dictates what I have access to)
  • Reducing environmental impacts by choosing not to buy products made in big factories and transported hundreds (or thousands) of miles in order to reach me, as well as buying products that often require less wasteful packaging
  • Generally getting better quality products, as well as useful consumer information regarding said products, made and sold by knowledgeable purveyors of their goods.
  • Using my dollar to support (or not support, as the case may be) businesses and companies that act ethically and consciously, with values that align with my own

Spending my dollars at local businesses makes my community richer in dozens of ways and, selfishly, makes my own life better, too.  The amount of incredible food options that I have access to is in no small part due to the fact that we have lots of small business owners here in Portland who fill various niches, resulting in a wide variety of goods.  If they were pushed out by one, or even two, large retailers, that diversity of options would shrink dramatically.  The quality of food is undeniable, as well.  When I get a tomato from my CSA, it tastes like a tomato.  It’s not perfectly round and red and that’s great – because it’s not supposed to be, despite what mass-production tomato growers have tricked most of us into believing.  And, if the tomato crop isn’t fantastic, I don’t get sad, tasteless objects – my local farmers just tell me they’re no good and send another item that is tasty and ripe instead!

Groundwork Organics

Plus, I am a HUGE fan of supporting creativity, joy, and personal passion.  I get pleasure out of knowing that my money is helping my neighbors live their dreams.  I was struck by this very profoundly last week during a trip to my local spice and herb shop, Stone Cottage.  I stopped in for a very small purchase.  I needed ancho chile powder and decided on a whim to try some chlorella, too.  That’s all.  I scooped up a couple of tablespoons of each and was ready to make my incredibly small purchase of about $2.  I decided to also pick up a cup of coffee (produced by a local roaster, of course), from their self-serve coffee station.  While I was preparing my items for purchase, the owner of the shop greeted me kindly, offered assistance, and finished serving another customer.  I overheard him assist her with selecting just the items she needed.  He listened to her needs, asked good questions, and shared his expertise of the products available.  As she left, he encouraged her to follow up with him about how her items worked and then he went on to wonder around his shop, tidying and being a general friendly presence.  As I set about paying for my tiny bag of spices and my caffeine fix, I was told that my coffee was on the house today.  “Enjoy the sun and take care.”

I really believe that he meant that.  He is a shop owner who is really passionate about his goods.  He procures quality products, offers limitless assistance to customers, and is working, in his unique way, to provide a positive experience to those he encounters.  I will gladly give my money to a business owner such as this any day of the week.  I want to see this business succeed and I care about having this resource available to me in my neighborhood.  Happy and successful local shop owners, equal a happy and vibrant community that I am fortunate to call home.

For more information on eating locally, or if you are interested in CSAs, here are few resources you may enjoy:

Local Harvest

Simple Steps to Eating Local

Find Local Foods


Previous Entries in This Series:

#5 – Why I Eat . . . To Heal and To Fuel

#4 – Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

#3 – Why I Eat . . . Plants!

#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence

#1 –  Why I Eat  . . . Thoughtfully

Bring it, Newport! (Or, Finally Committing to My First Marathon)

I’ve done it!  I have finally made a decision about my first marathon.  Newport it will be!


I am not a good decision maker.  I agonize.  I research and I plan and I debate with myself until I’m exhausted.  Just when I think I’ve made a decision, I second guess myself and begin to pick it apart.  Deciding on which marathon to select as my first was no different.

There are so many factors to consider and I just wanted to make sure my decision was a good one.  The right one.  The best one possible.

No pressure or anything.

In the end, it came down to two primary factors:

  1. Location – I didn’t want to travel too far.  Newport is only a couple hours by car.  I can easily travel there the day before the race and have plenty of time to rest after arriving.
  1. Timing – The idea of running the local Portland Marathon as my first was very tempting, but I just didn’t want to wait until October.  While I still have training to do, I really don’t think I need quite that much time to prepare and the extra wait felt a bit painful to think about.

The Newport Marathon is a smaller event, capping out at 900 runners, but after much research I have found it to be generally well-reviewed by other runners.  It has a pattern of being well-organized and is a mostly flat course.  I think June will be ideal as far as weather is concerned and it’s not so small that I’ll feel too lonely (I hope).

So, with just a bit under 5 months to go, the training plan is being finalized so I that I can stay focused through the rest of winter and spring.  Having run a personal distance PR of 17.5 miles last weekend, I’m feeling good about  being ready come June 1st.

If any of you seasoned marathoners out there have any tips or advice, I gladly welcome them.  I am both incredibly excited and somewhat terrified all at once – but that’s what conquering new personal challenges is all about, right?

The Oregon Berry Festival . . . and 10 lbs really is A LOT of fruit!

Last weekend was the Oregon Berry Festival and I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time there on the lovely warm Saturday afternoon we had.  This is a small festival, but what it lacked in size, it more than made up for in berry-goodness.

It was held in Portland’s Pearl District at the Ecotrust Building, a beautiful modern retail space with an outdoor courtyard-like area.   In the courtyard several local farmers were on hand to share their bounty.  Booths were seriously overflowing with berries of all kinds – raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, tayberries, and others I had never heard of!  It was a gorgeous sight.

Inside, the festival had space for vendors who weren’t growing the berries themselves, but who sure knew how to put them to good use.  Berry liqueur, cocktails, preserves, pastries, and juices were there for the tasting (and buying!).  

It was a really fantastic little piece of the local food scene and I took a home a delicious pint of raspberries which I later used to make a raspberry sauce for peach parfaits (more on those below).

I suspect the reason that I only bought one lone pint of berries at the festival was that I arrived there straight from a farmer’s market, where I had collected on a Groupon purchased a few weeks back.  The Groupon entitled me to 10 lbs of peaches and apricots from a local farmer.  Now, when I purchased that Groupon I was seriously excited (I also have one for 10 lbs of apples and pears to pick up later in the season).  I love fruit.  I love locally grown produce.  And, I love a deal.  I saw the offer and snatched it up right away.

I didn’t really stop to figure out how much 10 lbs is in regards to peaches and apricots.  You should probably know that I am notoriously bad at this sort of thing.  Something is seriously awry in the part of my brain that allows most people to estimate weight, size, space, et cetera.  I am always WAY off.

I arrived at the Farmer’s Market, happily handed over my Groupon voucher to be redeemed, and I was told to select the fruit I wanted.  A scale was at the ready and I could weigh it out myself.  I started sorting through standard peaches, donut peaches (extra yum for those), and apricots, placing the chosen ones in my bag.  After a couple of minutes, I figured I surely had to be at least halfway there.

I was wrong.

I placed my bag on the scale and it read: 3 lbs 2 oz.

Seriously?!  I already had enough fruit to last me the week!  I kept going and repeated this startling process a few more times before I finally was finished and made my way through the crowd with my huge bags of peaches and apricots slung over my shoulder.

I clearly just had no idea how little these fruits actually weigh.

Once home, I had to figure out what to do with all of it.  I had intended on making parfaits with what I thought would be about a third of the peaches (and turned out to be about a twelfth of them!), which is what prompted me to buy the raspberries at the festival.

After all was said and done, I made the parfaits (which were quite tasty), used all the apricots up to make homemade apricot-vanilla bean jam (SO good), and have been snacking on the rest of the peaches all week.

I will certainly try to be more prepared when the time comes to cash in on my apple and pear voucher in a couple of months.

In the meantime, I share with you my recipe for Bourbon-Poached Peach Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce.  Enjoy!


Bourbon-Poached Peach Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce  

makes 3 parfaits


1 ½ cups water

½ cup brown sugar

2 tblspns bourbon

½ long or 1 short vanilla bean (split lengthwise)

2 tblspns lemon juice, divided

3 peaches, stones removed and quartered

1 cup fresh raspberries

2 tblspns confectioners’ sugar

12 oz greek non-fat yogurt (plain or vanilla)

¼ cup crushed graham crackers (I used Annie’s Organic)


  1. Put the water, brown sugar, bourbon, 1 tblspn of the lemon juice, and vanilla bean into a pot and heat over medium-low until the sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently.
  2. Once sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil, add peach quarters and let simmer for 7-8 minutes.  If the syrup doesn’t cover them entirely, turn peaches over halfway through.  Pierce with a fork and test to ensure the peaches are soft.  If they are, remove from pan, peel off skins, and let cool.  (The remaining syrup can be discarded or used to poach other fruit if you like).
  3. While the peaches cool, make the sauce.  Toss raspberries, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1 tblspn lemon juice into a blender or food processer.  Process until liquefied and combined.  Push through a strainer to remove any raspberry seeds.
  4. Assemble the parfaits when ready to serve.  First, place two peach quarters in the bottom of each glass.  Top with a few spoonfuls of yogurt.  Drizzle raspberry sauce on next.  Repeat these layers in each glass one more time.  To finish, sprinkle crushed graham crackers on the top of each parfait.

Note:  I imagine that these parfaits would be equally good with crushed nuts or granola in place of the graham crackers.  And, you could always use ice cream instead of yogurt for an even more decadent dessert  – though I do think these were fantastic as is!