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I Beat the Blerch!

Two and a half weeks ago, I was hit with that awful feeling of having totally forgotten about something. And by “forgotten”, I think I mean “pushed so far to the back of my mind that maybe it’ll just go away if I don’t think about it, lalala”. I’m talking about the Beat the Blerch 10k. I talked a good game about wanting to run this spring, and then summer came along and I was apparently content with sitting on my ass eating chocolate every night.

Normally in this situation, I would bail, bail, bail, but I seem to have grown up a little bit in this first year of parenthood, so instead I decided to go for it. I figured that even if I ended up walking most of the course, then (a) who really cares – no one, no one except for myself and (b) there would be Nutella. And a couch along the route. This clearly isn’t a race that encourages taking oneself too seriously.

In case you don’t know, Beat the Blerch was started after Matthew Inman (aka The Oatmeal) made this comic called The Terrible and Wonderful Reason Why I Run Long Distances. It hit a nerve with a lot of people, and led to this excellent book and this race series. When I was looking through my photos after the race, I suddenly noticed the whipped cream action going on behind me and Nora. This is very descriptive of the race, and naturally I highly recommend it.

Beat the Blerch Beat the Blerch

Anyway, I finally took Nora out in the running stroller, which is actually pretty fun, and a godsend in the rainy weather we had those two weeks – the rain cover is awesome and can withstand some very soggy runs. I got some good runs in, but never more than two miles in a row of running. The trails near our house are just too hilly for me to not take walking breaks, especially while pushing a stroller. I set a goal for myself that on race day, I would run to the halfway point, then switch to walking.

Beat the Blerch

But come Saturday, you know what? I ran that entire thing. I was slow as molasses – 1:10:48, I have to live up to my blog name, after all – but I ran it. I didn’t even need to stop at the aid station, but I ended up doing it anyway since I couldn’t miss out on a photo op with a real live Blerch.

Beat the Blerch 10k Beat the Blerch

Lessons learned:

– My shins hurt for the first two miles and I was starting to consider maybe walking a little bit, and then suddenly BOOM I was warmed up, nothing hurt, and I felt great. Must remember this next time when everything sucks. I even got several comments from strangers about the fact that I was smiling while running, so yay! Endorphins!

– At one point, before my shins stopped hurting, I was about to walk but told myself that fer chrissakes, you rocked contractions, you can make it through this. And it totally worked.

– I started out way too slowly and didn’t realize until the end that I had way more to give. Don’t be so cautious!

– Podcasts work better for me than music, unless I’m running downhill. Music gives me time to mull over things, and those things usually involve some sort of negative self-talk. Podcasts take my mind off whatever I’m doing, and suddenly I’ve been running for ten minutes without really noticing.

– I tend to shy away from big crowds and love running alone in the mountains, but there’s something to be said for the motivational aspect of being surrounded by lots of people. Especially when they’re all high on sugar.

– My body can run for over an hour straight on basically no training. That’s pretty awesome.

– I really need to stop bailing on things that intimidate me.

Beat the Blerch Beat the Blerch

So yeah, that was a really great experience, and a huge confidence-booster. If I could run this race without training for it, what could I do with training? I went ahead and put my name in the lottery for Orcas 25k in January to find out. Fate will decide whether or not I get in, but if I do, I decide how prepared I will be. I’ve entered this race before, and bailed – but now I really do know that I can do hard things. Please send good lottery vibes my way.

Challenge, Hiking, Issaquah Alps, Running

This Shy Bear is coming out of hibernation

When we took Nora to Cougar Mountain to hike the Shy Bear Loop back in February, I really started feeling the urge to run. That loop is one of my favorite lowland routes to run, and as much as I enjoy walking it, I really, really wanted to just gun it along those rolling hills without a care in the world, fueled on by a manic endorphin rush…and then I immediately felt guilty for longing for something that didn’t involve Nora, like I was cheating on her or something.

I realize how ridiculous that sounds, especially since I spend all day every day with Nora and can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve left the house without her. I’ve always felt that it’s incredibly important for parents to maintain their own lives and interests outside of the kid realm (mommy martyrs are the worst), but now that I’m the parent* in question, it doesn’t feel right. I think it might have something to do with the fact that we wanted a baby so badly, and now that we have that awesome baby, it feels wrong to want some of the things I associate with my old life, when I was desperate to become pregnant.

Coal Creek Falls

The thing is, I know it’s healthier for all of us if I have a life outside of motherhood – especially when that life makes me all happy and chill and fulfilled – so I am going to work on pursuing some goals of my own, starting with running. I want to run some of my old classics this summer, like the Rattlesnake Traverse and the Melakwa Loop, and I also signed up for Beat the Blerch in September (just the 10k, because it’s flat – that means I won’t have any hills I can use as an excuse to walk).

Now that it’s still light out after Nora goes to bed, I can run in the evenings, and I am also going to take better advantage of weekends when JK is home. Also, the next time we visit Shy Bear, I’ll run while JK hikes with Nora…she deserves some good alone time with her pappa anyway.

I need to remember that I’m still me, I just also happen to be a mother now.

On the Shy Bear Loop


Hiking, North Cascades, Running

Ptarmigan Ridge to the Portals

I am slowly but surely waking up from my marmot-like winter hibernation, so while I’m stretching my paws and getting my hiking mojo reset, I’ll play catch-up with some of my favorite trips from this fall.

The same, but different.

Since we had our furry running coach, Brutus, with us, we picked a trail we knew would be excellent for running, the Ptarmigan Ridge trail on Mount Baker, but due to the heat (omgz way too hot for September – little did we know it would rain the rest of the month) and my getting over a cold, we ended up just hiking most of the day…

Oh yeah

…with lots of breaks to cool off in streams and roll around on snowfields.

Them dogs be bananas

I love this trail. Similar to Paradise and Sunrise on Mount Rainier, Ptarmigan Ridge lets you cheat your way through thousands of feet of forest and drive straight up to the timberline. Alpine views from start to finish!

Last flowers of summer

Last time we were here, we stopped and camped at the turquoise lake, but this time we had our eyes set on the Portals, which you can see in the distance in the photo above. Last time we also didn’t have any views until the last fifteen minutes of the hike, so we were kind of blown away this time.

Inviting trail

Still, I was feeling pretty blah from my cold, so Brutus and I took a very satisfying nap while JK and the Italians explored the Portals.

Snooze Rock

The hike back to the car was breathtaking (the views, not the trail – it’s mostly flat) – Mount Shuksan ahead…

Mmm, Shuksan

…and Mount Baker in the rear view mirror, all taken in while snacking on trailside huckleberries. Hells yeah.

Mount Baker, you are magnificent

Oh, and marmots, marmots all around. All in all, it was an excellent summer for marmot sightings.

It's been a good marmot year

It was hard to leave, so we stopped the car at Heather Meadows to watch the sunset and feed the hounds before driving the long road home to Redmond.

– The Portals | 12 miles | 1600 feet elevation gain –


This was the perfect ending to the best and most fulfilling summer of my life – so far.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Running

Yeah I shake my little tush on the Katwalk

Ehrm, I seem to have stopped blogging. Let’s just pick up where we left off and pretend this hike didn’t take place two months ago.

To the PCT!


Kendall Katwalk is one of the most popular hikes by Snoqualmie Pass, but, even though we’ve hiked here for six years now, this was our first visit. True to form, we left late, something that usually pays off in golden afternoon light and glorious sunsets. This time we missed the morning sun and had to make do with limited views and cold fog instead.

Misty Red Mountain

We’ve turned into wimpy fair-weather hikers (aided by two excellent Seattle summers in a row), so this weather was unusual for us…but it was honestly really nice to hike without feeling like I was drowning in my own sweat.

Wellie looks for pikas

If definitely felt like fall, and the critters were prepping for the long winter to come. The pikas were frantically collecting impressive mouthfuls of noms to keep them going until summer, while the marmots were plumping up nicely for their upcoming snooze.

Prepping for winter

Man, you guys are awesome

A freezing fog rolled in just as we reached the impressively engineered Katwalk, so we just had a quick snack before running most of the way back down to the car (luckily I had brought headphones so I could get Right Said Fred out of my head). I’ll have to come back on a purtier day.

The infinite abyss

The great thing about having hiked 20 miles the weekend before? It made these 12 miles feel like nothing. W00t!

Yeah I shake my little tush on the Kendall Katwalk

Kendall Katwalk | 12 miles | 2700 feet elevation gain –

Big thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, Jessie…

Thanks, Jessie!

…and Gabi!

Thanks, Gabi!

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking tips, Reviews, Running, Solo

Five things that have improved my enjoyment of hiking this summer

(…because I obviously hated hiking before.)

My second hike of Hike-a-Thon, a variation on the Melakwa Loop, an old favorite of mine, was just incredibly enjoyable. The weather was perfect, the views inspiring, the company (just Wellie and one pissed-off marmot) excellent, but I was also struck by how effortless the hiking itself felt. Part of it is that I’m in better shape than I used to be, for sure, but I’ve also made some changes that make for a more comfortable time on trail.

1) Instead of lugging over three liters of water with me on hot summer days, I bring my Sawyer Squeeze filter with me and filter as I go (provided I know there will be water available – there usually is, since I mostly hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness). This filter only weighs three ounces (and the Sawyer Mini will be coming out soon, weighing in at two ounces, $20!) and is really easy to use. Less water to carry means faster, more comfortable hiking, and I get to drink fresh, delicious mountain water instead of tepid tap water that’s been heating up in my Platypus container.

Double Kaleetan

2) I switched from hiking boots to minimalist trail runners in 2011 and I love it. I used to roll my ankles all the time back when I wore boots, but, knock on wood, it’s never happened in trail runners – increased ground feel lets your feet adjust to the terrain. They’re also marvelously light and breathable, so my feet no longer feel horrible at the end of a long day. I usually don’t even take my shoes off before I get home, while back in my boot days, that was the first thing I did when I reached the car.

Alan! Alan! Alan!

3) Trail runners allow me to run the downhills (I would run the uphills if I could, but that’s not likely to happen unless I lose a significant amount of poundage). JK and I were talking about how much we love this last weekend as we were running the six not-very-interesting miles down a mountain – what would probably have felt like a neverending death march while walking turned into something fun instead; the running itself becomes one of the highlights of the trip (endorphins!). An added bonus that doesn’t seem to make sense, is that if I run back down to the car, my legs actually feel fresher than if I had walked – maybe because I’m using slightly different muscles and a different gait?

Lower Tuscohatchie

4) Hiking in a skirt! I can’t believe I never tried this before. I’m using the Moving Comfort Sprint Tech Skort and I can finally hike and run without having to endure chub rub chafing.

Olallie Lake

5) This one is new to me, but after trying it on my last two hikes, I’m a convert. All summer I’ve been eating total crap on my hikes – I can’t stomach granola bars anymore, so I’ve been eating Snickers instead, supplemented with energy gels. I finally realized that since I wouldn’t eat Snickers in “real life”, I shouldn’t be gorging on them when my body is working hard. Enter real food! These Chocolate & Sea Salt Sticky Bites from Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes are tasty (because CHOCOLATE and SALT), efficient, and have a much less scary ingredient list than a packet of Gu or a Snickers bar.

– Melakwa to Pratt Loop w/Olallie Lake | 15 miles | 3600 feet elevation gain –

Big, big thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsor Mark who loves this area of our mountains as much as I do!

Thanks, Mark!

I’m currently at 92% of my goal, and there is still time do donate and support our trails!