Fall: After a healthy emergence from my Hood to Coast running lovefest I was jonesing to tackle a good training cycle for this fall. Fleshmom - she wasn’t busy enough momming Jude, setting up LittleWing, and getting back in kickass shape - amazingly agreed to keep coaching me (and Sally for NYC Marathon) for the fall. We huddled on the plane to Nolcha in NYC and LF conjured up this sweet plan for 14 weeks, to take me to Club Cross in Bend. And I did it, every workout except for one fartlek I missed with a jammed toe nerve.


Things I learned from this workout cycle:
1. Lauren Fleshman is going to be a coaching legend.
2. There is nothing better than calling Fleshmom after a nailed workout that had only 50/50 pre-test probability.
3. Actually physically working out WITH Lauren Fleshman artificially improves times by approximately 10%. I call this the LF-homeboy doping effect.
4. My fitness overlapped with Fleshy’s post-baby for a period of about 2 days. I think this was in early August.

Club Cross: OK, so I was “ready” for Bend. I was nervous for the course, the altitude, and respectful of the terrain. I created a map of my mantras: smile at the top, “gratitude” crossing the road, “strong” up the steep-ass hill, and “athlete” by the hay bales.

I told Sally I loved her. 


We masters cranked out our team cheer; call and response (yell it with us!):

What time is it?
It’s time to fly!
What time is it?
It’s time to fly!
What time is it?
It’s time to fly!
Let’s fly, Oiselle!
Let’s fly, Oiselle!

And then, it was time to go! I went out extremely conservatively in the first loop, picked it up for the 2nd loop and started gathering myself for a big push, but then by the 3rd loop I felt like I was running through molasses—or perhaps carrying a 3 yo on my shoulders.


It was like a time warp, the slow down kind with low misshapen voices. I saw people walking ahead of me and thought, “Wow, this is weird!” I speed-walked on the final hill and passed two people who were “running”. I was afraid to start kicking until well into the downhill.


When I finally got my booty in motion, at last I was really moving! But the race was over. And then I turned around and my teammates were all piling across the finish line. 

And I was happy.



The rest of the weekend rushed by: the open race with Littlewing’s amazing debut (Christine, Lauren, and Mel racing great with only an 18 second spread) and Oiselle’s huge group of fearless runners; hot tub; dinner at Spork; the already legendary Picky Party (no descriptors possible except DJ Mac, black eye, grindfest); beautiful 12+mile long run Sun am; epic eating.  And then home to Seattle.

I went on the usual 8-mi Stone Way loop today, a solo meditative up-tempo but non-workout feeling run, and averaged the same pace as my “race pace” on Saturday. Oh, Bend.

Did my race represent my fitness or that huge ole chunk of good training I put in this fall? I don’t know. But I know I’m ready for some track this spring! And I’m already antsy for another race.

Huge hugs to Fleshman, Oiselle, LittleWing, and everyone who made this weekend unforgettable. I am 100% content with this journey. 


Atsuko Tamara