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Addicted to Running: My Summer of Races

If you are a runner, you’ve probably had to justify why you run to people who don’t run. But when you are a runner and even OTHER runners are questioning you, you know that maybe, just possibly, you are in over your head. Or you are obsessed, addicted, crazy.. whatever you want to call it. Or maybe a bit of both.

I’ve run many half marathons, relays, and a few marathons in my running “career,” as well as lots of various “k’s” (5k’s, 8k’s, 10k’s, 15k’s.) But this year, I’ve probably logged more miles than I ever intended to. I was no slouch in 2016 or years before that, but so far 2017 has given my running shoes something to talk about with five 5k’s, five relays, four half marathons, and one full marathon on the books for the year so far. I also ran four races four weekends in a row.

At the end of August, I ran in this little 200 mile relay called Hood To Coast. I ran leg 5, which is arguably the hardest of the race and the one you give to your strongest runner. I was also the team captain, which was a new role for me even though I’ve run this race many times. Most of my team was made up of Hood To Coast virgins, and we even had a teammate who had never run a race ever. Planning for this race was challenging and I kinda forgot I also had to run a pretty knarly course as well. But everyone on the team finished strong, so I was very proud of our accomplishment, despite the few hiccups that come with Hood To Coast every year.

The weekend after Hood To Coast, I ran the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. I have a fondness for this race because I ran it the inaugural year and found out two weeks later that I was pregnant with my first son. The course is absolutely beautiful, one of my favorites. However, “Oregon Wine Country” is code for “hills,” so it was challenging as well. Just when you start getting really tired around mile 10, you have an uphill gravel road to tackle. Perfect. I decided not to push too hard for this race because I had a much more challenging one planned for the next weekend that I wanted to save my legs for.

And that was the Copper Mountain Half Marathon in Colorado. This race climbed from 9,000’ to 12,000’ and was a trail run not for the faint of heart, the short of breath, or for weak legs for that matter. This was my most challenging race ever, and I had a whirlwind weekend to get it done with my kid’s school schedules mixed in with all the back and forth travel. This was the slowest race I’ve ever run, but I was honestly just trying to survive that one. Read my race preview here if you want to hear the dirty details.

And the last race on the fourth weekend was the Bridge of the Goddess Half Marathon. I picked this race specifically for the course, which was to be in Cascade Locks starting at the scenic Bridge of the Gods. However, the fire in the Gorge put a stop to that, and they had to move it to Vancouver instead. I’m not going to lie, I was super bummed about this change in plans. However, the race organizers did an amazing job of relocating the race and making it all come off fairly seamlessly. Because the course was much flatter after the location change, I decided to push myself into high gear for that last mile, as I really wanted to beat my previous PR. It was the last race I had to worry about, so why not give it everything I had left in me? So I beat my previous PR by 3 minutes and then turned 40 the next day. Not a bad way to celebrate in my book!

It’s been a tough year. I’ve dealt with my fair share of grief this year over losing my father and a few other hurdles. I’ve injured my foot, my toe, my knees, and my pride this year too. I’ve recognized that I have a hard time saying “no” to things, especially cool experiences that I think will make memories that last a lifetime. I’ve gotten so used to having so much on my plate that if I slow down, I’m scared I’m missing something amazing. I feel like Jason Stratham in that movie “Crank” where he has to keep his adrenaline at a certain level or he’ll die. Am I the only runner who’s like this? Crickets .. Okay then.

Maybe it’s time for me to admit that I have a running problem. And let’s face it, it’s only September, so I imagine I’m probably not done yet. There are already a couple more of them coming up pretty soon. But I can think of worse things in life to be addicted to. And running always has and always will be my therapy. It makes me a better mommy, a better wife, and a better all-around human being. I’m so thankful that my family recognizes this and supports me through all of these wacky adventures.

I wouldn’t recommend burning the candle at both ends like I have. I am totally exhausted. But I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on too much. And I’m grateful for the places my legs have taken me, both physically and mentally. I’ll see you out there on the road soon, I’m sure.

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About Nikki Mueller (124 Articles)
I'm a mother of two boys who is a certified group exercise instructor for Baby Bootcamp in SW Portland. I have two young boys and am actively involved in their co-operative preschool. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.

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