Race Season Rules for the Road. (The Pleasure and Pain of the Porta Potty Visit)

Now that race season is in full swing, I am presenting my first installment of Race Season Rules for the Road. Well, specifically, for what happens on the SIDE of the road. In the Porta Potties to be specific. There, I said it. Yes, the Porta Potties. (The modern version of what we used to call “Stink Peuw Houses” when I was a kid….you know-the fly infested Out Houses you’d use when camping?)

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

One thing I am aware of in public places is the consistent lack of hygiene in the public bathrooms. Germ-a-phobe that I am, I can’t tell you the number of times I have held my breath and cleaned up after someone, or forgone the pleasure of relieving myself in a public bathroom due to the unspeakable nastiness that I have found lurking in, on, and around public toilets.

When did mothers stop teaching their children to flush? If your child is too young to tend to themselves, then for the love of Mary, please assist them.

What the hell are people eating?

Why don’t they do that before they leave home?

RUNNERS!!!! PLEASE! Head my prayer! At group events and organized races, I know you LOVE your port-a-potties, but please pay attention to the Race Season Rules for the Road!.  Porta Potties are put in place for everyone’s comfort and relief. Be courteous!

Leave unto others that which you would leave unto you.

If you sprinkle where you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat!

If you splat where you shat, please be kind, and clean up that!

OK, enough poetry.

God knows I refused to step into a Porta Potty until I became a runner. Though they are disgusting little sweat boxes, when I am running a race I have been known to thank the Almighty when I finally see one on the horizon, and fall to my knees weeping for joy when there isn’t a line waiting outside one. But how many times have you opened the door and wish you could poke your eyes out with your own ear buds, or wished you had a hazmat suit to don before entering? Time stands still as you weigh the decision: “Do I enter and close the door, or just keep running and hope I make it to the next one before shitting myself?” Am I the only one that cries when the hand sanitizer dispenser is empty? Yuk, don’t touch the door handle!!!

So here are my Race Season Rules for the Road:

If it FALLS out of you, is PULLED out of you, PROJECTILES out of you, RICOCHETS off of your running shorts, or otherwise leaves your body at rocket speed, PLEASE take a few precious seconds and clean it off the seat, back, floor and walls of the “John”. Whether it is snot, vomit, pee, poop, or blood, nobody wants to navigate around it when they too are desperate to make their OWN emergency deposit. Sure you might be on your way to a PR, but this is just rude and crude, and makes you a bad sports person.

As someone with Celiac Disease and the lovely gastrointestinal “issues” that go along with it,  I am fully aware that there are many times when the body does things to us that we could never imagine, admit to, or ever want to remember. I am not criticizing those that are truly sick, in pain, or otherwise shouldn’t have eaten that last double chili bacon burger 2 hours before their marathon. All I’m saying is, please, please be aware that there are other people in the world besides you and they deserve a more sanitary place to potty. Thank you.

Stay tuned for my next installment of Race Season Rules for the Road in the coming weeks. Do you have pet peeves regarding runner etiquette? Care to share?  Be well. See you at the starting line.




Not This time

As I sit here digesting the news and reading about what’s happened all week  in Boston, I am finally ready to write about Monday’s attack. The city of Boston was under lock down. Police, SWAT Teams, Military, Law Enforcement, and dozens of News Agencies were crawling all over the city. There was a massive manhunt for the second suspect in the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon. Fortunately, he was caught and the city and world breathed a collective sigh of relief, at least for the moment.

537282_10200174320136325_1574030274_nI was not in Boston on Monday but many of my friends and fellow runners were there. Some of these people are very close to me, and some I have come to know through Facebook. Social Media is  amazing  Because of it, I have been introduced to people I never would have had the opportunity to know, and I feel Blessed because of these relationships.

All week I have been vacillating between anger, fear, extreme sadness, and hope. I have struggled with some of the PTSD that I suffered with after 9/11. There are people that will say this is not like 9/11, but for many people, it is very similar. Senseless violence against innocent people, no matter the number of casualties, is unthinkable.

After 9/11, there was a huge movement towards “closing your circle” of exposure. We have created layer upon layer of security systems to protect our privacy. We screen our calls, emails, online presence, Facebook posts and photos, and keep ourselves protected in many ways from the outside world. I became suspicious of everyone. I used to fear going in tall buildings, or driving across a bridge if I saw an airplane in the sky. Even now, if I am driving or running and I see a “suspicious package” or a backpack or box sitting alone on the side of  a road, or in a building, I have a momentary feeling of fear-wondering if it is a bomb. Is this rational? Hell if I know.

But THIS time, I will not let this tragedy send me into a spiral. I will not let the Terrorists affect my life in a negative way. Of course I will grieve for the innocent lives lost and for those that will be forever affected. YES, I will pray for them and their families and loved ones, but I will commit to becoming a better person for the world around me, as my way of giving back.

There is a strong need in the world for people to reach out to others and get to know them. A simple smile and a “Hello” as you cross paths with someone on a sidewalk, can make someone’s day. I see a lot of people walking in the various neighborhoods where I run, so I have several opportunities to give them a warm smile and wish them a good day. I notice  the young people-maybe 12-16 years old, that look serious, heads down, maybe dressed in baggy or trendy clothes, and seem sad or uncomfortable in their own skin. They try to avoid eye contact but lately, I make a point to look into their eyes, smile, and say “HI”. I have seen some of them transform their faces with huge smiles, and show a sense of appreciation and a little embarrassment that they were even noticed!  I see the same one’s a few times a week, and we are starting to recognize each other, and they have even initiated the smile and hello. Our worlds are overlapping and it is a good thing.

There is a man that I call “My Amish Boyfriend“, that rides his bike near my house. I used to see him while I drove to work, before I started running. He wears a top hat, like an Amish man would wear, instead of a bike helmet, and he has a grey beard. I figure he is in his late 60’s or early 70’s. When I started running, I saw him all over the place at a certain time of the morning. After several times passing each other, we would nod and go our own way, then over time, we’d say a quick “hi”. Recently, when we see each other, it is a bigger smile and a nice comfortable, knowing “Hi” or “Good morning”. This week, on my run, I saw him mowing a lawn at a house nearby and I ran by him and waved. I was planning on turning around and doubling back at the end of his block, and just then I decided to stop and introduce myself. I did this because of Boston. I felt like my reaching out and making this small gesture to another human being, was important. So I stopped and walked up and introduced myself to John. He gave me a big smile and said that he sees me running all over the place. We chatted and I found out his brother had just run Boston and that he was “just fine”. What a small world. I bid him good day and continued my run, feeling on top of the world for having stopped. My “Amish boyfriend” now has a name, and I have a new friend.

This week I attended a memorial run for Boston that was organized by the Portland Triathlon Club. I would guess there were over a thousand runners of all abilities that showed up to publicly proclaim their support for the people involved in the tragedy. After a short but meaningful memorial service, we ran a loop around the waterfront in honor of Boston. It was inspiring to see such a turnout and see people of all ages running, walking, pushing strollers, and being supportive. At the finish line, the organizers set up a line of people, cheering on and “high five-ing” the runners as they completed the loop. It turned into a long “gauntlet” of sorts and the energy and enthusiasm for each and every person lifted everyone’s spirits tremendously. I felt completely connected. EVERYONE that passed through got a high five and thunderous applause from all those gathered. At one point, two very dirty, scruffy homeless men, one carrying a dog, approached the area where this was all taking place. They hesitated for a second, perhaps not knowing what was happening, and then, the crowd broke into another round of applause for THEM, and they both lit up. They smiled huge smiles, stood up straighter, and briskly walked through the tunnel of cheering, high five-ing runners, that patted them on the back and thanked them for being there.It was a beautiful moment.

These gestures, small or large, create incentives that can be the beginning of change. Change someone’s mood. Change someone’s attitude. Change someone’s heart. Change YOURSELF. In the past week, I have seen a different response to this National tragedy than in times past. Instead of cocooning and “pulling up the draw bridge”, I have seen people reach out and embrace each other. Strangers have started conversations with strangers in neighborhoods, airports, waterfronts. This is the power of good over evil. This is humanity elevating itself above fear, pettiness, and ignorance.

Runners and their families were attacked. Who are runners? Why this group? We are not political, controversial, powerful, or threatening. We are “everyman”. We are old, young, fast and slow. We are dedicated and committed to endure. We love community and celebrating each others’ achievements, no matter how large or small. We take care of each other. Period. The world just saw how much of a “family” runners and their supporters are. We love. Unconditionally and completely.

So, to all the Terrorists of the world, that have no regard or respect for human life, you will not defeat us. You will not cause us to live in fear. The city of Boston and all the cities of the world that supported the victims this week have proven this. You will not win. NOT THIS TIME.


It’s Raining Worms! (Or, OMG, I’m Running a Half Marathon in a Pacific Northwest Monsoon)


Flickr photo,aur2899’s. It was raining too hard to take out my phone and snap a photo

Every once in a while, I check in with my sanity radar. Sometimes it is broken. Case in point: April 6, 2013, Yelm, Washington. Q.What could be better than driving 2.5 hours on a Friday night, getting lost while looking for the only hotel in the area, spending the night, and running in a cold downpour for slightly over 2 hours? A. Just about anything!!!

This particular race came to be after an extensive internet search of all the half marathons I could find within a reasonable driving distance, that would get me qualified for the Half Fanatics.

Becoming a Fanatic was of utmost importance to me BEFORE May 5th, 2013, because that is when the Tacoma City Marathon takes place. This is the tenth year anniversary of the Marathon Maniacs, and, well, you just HAVE to know who THEY are! There’s going to be a huge number of Maniacs and Fanatics, a party, special medals, and ….need I say more?

Last year I qualified for the Maniacs, after running two full marathons in two weeks. (Isn’t that why I got injured?) I signed up for the Tacoma Full, but with my recovery going slowly, I have to switch to the Half, or risk epic failure of mind, body, and soul. I have learned my lesson about pushing too far,  too fast, too soon.

So my daughter Dede and I braved the ridiculous weather, and finished in a very legit time of 2:11:36. Not bad for my first comeback half! Did I mention that I ran the first 5 miles inside a huge black plastic garbage bag? I looked like a giant black Sponge Bob. I wouldn’t let anyone take my picture in that get up, so don’t expect evidence.

Here we are sitting in the car 50 feet from the start, staying warm and dry before the race

Here we are sitting in the car 50 feet from the start, staying warm and dry before the race

A soggy and cold finish

A soggy and cold finish

I will complete my second qualifying half marathon this Sunday in the Vernonia Half Marathon and Marathon. Then it is off to Tacoma for the party!


That's my girl! Dede qualified today for Half Fanatics!

That’s my girl! Dede qualified today for Half Fanatics! (Notice the beautiful ring on her finger. She’s getting married in June!)

So here we are both qualifying for some crazy club, running in the rain, and questioning our sanity, when it dawned on me that this is exactly what I love and get giddy about with running.

There are challenges, pain, excitement, new friends, achievements, temporary failures, and successes, all in the name of fitness and fun. Running can so much more than lacing up your shoes and heading out the door for the drudgery of trying to stay in shape or loose a few pounds. 15 months ago, I was a solo “jogger”, just experimenting with the sport to see if I could make it a routine. Now I am the member of several running clubs and groups, I’ve run marathons, half marathons, a Ragnar 200 mile relay, numerous 5k’s and 10k’s, and made friends all over the country. I’ve even started blogging about it.

I plan on doing this nutty sport, with all it’s trappings for a very long time. I used to think I couldn’t run because:

1.) I have a bad back

2.) I don’t have the time

3.) It’s bad for women

4.) It’s too cold

5.) It rains too much here

…plus many other reasons, but none of them matter now, because it IS what I do. Through injury, recovery, bad weather, GI issues, fatigue, cold, heat, and snow, because I love the whole world that running has opened up to me. My fitness level has soared, my attitude is great, and I am getting stronger every week.

You might see yourself in my rantings, and I hope you do. I love hearing other people’s stories and learning what got them started and what motivates them to keep going. What goals have you set for this year? Mileage? Speed? A particular running event?

Whatever your goal is, you never know what you might find along the way. Who knows? It might even start raining worms on you one day!

6 Things That Make Running Enjoyable For Me (Well, at least LESS PAINFUL)

It’s no secret that runners typically can endure numerous set backs, whether it be due to scheduling issues, mental meltdowns, unsupportive partners, or a myriad of other issues and injuries. Trust me, I am no stranger to all of the above. Be it GI issues linked to Celiac Disease, nagging Achilles Tendonitis, periodic Migraines, or a spouse that actually wants to see me once in a while, I have been through the wringer. None of this matters, however, because I am a RUNNER, and no matter what Mother Nature or Father Time, or hormonal imbalance throws at me, I will figure out how to get a run in-even it it means limping around all day afterwards.

I have a few people to blame for this addiction, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I love you to death.

1.) Suzanne Kruse. I have mentioned this before, but it was Suzanne that unintentionally planted the marathon seed in my head in 2011. Suz ran her first marathon in the Fall of that year, and as I watched her complete that milestone, I made the decision to give it a try. Suzanne is a fasthole that just keeps on going no matter what. We haven’t run together in a while because she and I are trading injury woes right now, but we’ll push through them.


2.) Coach James Mattern, and Coach Jim’s Elite Runners in Training. (check it out on Facebook) Jim, you brought the world of group training to me, met with me one on one, and customized a plan that took me from beginning runner to Marathon runner and beyond. I love you for this, but DAMN, now I have another addiction!  Jim ROCKS! looking forward to the Saturday morning long runs, and all the posts from attendees, keeps me on my toes, eager with anticipation, every week. Even when I was sidelined with my 3 month injury, I faithfully followed the team training posts and  ran vicariously  through all the smiling faces of the weekly runners.

The Ladies of the Honey Badger Elite Running Squad, are the one’s that sealed the deal to my membership in a spaztacular cultish love fest. Oh God, I’m in deep here. “Honey, stop the car, Patty’s gone to the other side.”  HB’s are insanely intense, irresistible, and indescribable in their love of each other, of running, adventure, and of life itself. I don’t think there could possibly be another group of women (and one man-badger) that has the depth of core-support and accountability for each other than this club. We have a motto of “Leave no badger behind” and this rings true throughout the tough training, silly escapades, and  while nursing one of it’s “Cobra” inflicted members through a tough time. Although I am not as fast or experienced as many of these ass kicking lunatics, I still know they have got my back, and I theirs.

                                          Here is our logo. Yeah, we're Bad Ass!

Here is our logo. Yeah, we’re Bad Ass!

Suffice it to say, without these inspirational and supportive individuals and groups, I wouldn’t be running, and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about running at this stage of my life. I know that on any given day, I can call on any of the above to keep me company on a run, give me advice, share my fears, tears, and joys, and most of all, a deep belly laugh.

Before I share the next three things that make running enjoyable for me, I have a confession to make. I have Schrek feet. Big, fat, gnarly, ugly ass feet. Bunions, toes shaped like light bulbs, and a very high instep…oh yeah, that Shrek’s got nothin’ on me. The scene in Cinderella where the ugly step sisters try to fit their honking feet into the glass slipper is a little too close to home for this gal.

If you fast forward to around 2:52, you can see what my usual shoe trying-on experience is like. Not pretty. (Although hilariously portrayed here!)

Because of this malady, the next three things that have me all warm and fuzzy right now are:

4.) My Correct Toes

5.) My new Brooks PureDrift shoes

6.) My new Smart Wool Toe Socks . My feet have never felt better. OOOH, just thinking about it makes me all giddy inside.

2013-04-01 12.19.18I have been wearing the Correct Toes for over a year, but rarely with shoes, because, well, they just don’t make a lot of cute shoes wide enough to add toe spreaders in them. Most running shoes are barely wide enough for me as well, so I couldn’t wear them while running either. According to Dr Ray McClanahan, my Podiatrist: “returning the feet to their natural shape eliminates existing foot problems and prevents new ones from arising. This is done using a Correct Toes spacer, which spreads the toes to their natural and correct position. This improves proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function.”

All I know is that they make my feet feel wonderful, my bunion is getting smaller, and I am not having the sharp searing pains I used to have after approximately 4 miles of running. I bought the Smart Wool toe socks last week, and found that I could wear them WITH my Correct Toes, INSIDE my new Brooks PureDrift shoes. I have run over 20 miles in these shoes so far, and every day feels better than the last!

The Brooks shoes are a minimalist shoe with two split grooves that let your toes spread out. They are super light weight and feel delicious. A word of caution, though. If you haven’t run in a minimalist shoe or a zero drop, don’t jump right to this shoe from your full on stability shoe with a big heel to toe drop. I’ve been transitioning for about a year, and there’s no way I would have been able to run in these last year. Be kind to your feet and legs, and transition gradually. There are all sorts of conflicting reports on whether minimalist shoes are better or worse for you. I’ll stay out of that controversy and just say that for me, I am happy with them.

Lastly, my Smart Wool Toe Socks, are the coziest, cushiest, kissable socks I have ever worn. I love love love them. My massive toes feel so good tucked nicely inside them. They are the perfect thickness, don’t get too warm, and don’t bunch up or slide down when I run in them. I am hooked! I have tried other toe socks and have been so bummed by the fit, the bunching, and the sliding into the back of my shoe. THAT makes me a crazy woman. These stay put and are the absolute BOMB.

Here is what a happy post run Patty looks like:

Not exactly a Cover Girl, but happy to be running again.

Not exactly a Cover Girl, but happy to be running again.

My rehabilitation is coming along, with trial and error, and most RECENTLY, trial and SUCCESS. I am running my first half marathon since last year, and this will be the longest distance in 4 months, so I am a little freaked, but I’ve got the great advice from months of training with my Coach, the support of my friends and Honey Badgers, and I’ve got the first class foot package to keep my going.  So if you are in Yelm, Washington this weekend, I’ll be running the first day of The Double Half.

What makes your runs enjoyable? Do you run alone or in groups? With or without music? I’d love to hear about it. Have a great week.