Pros and Cons of the Hoka Stinson 3 So Far (Review)

Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka Stinson 3 Review

Can a shoe solve all your problems?

Spoiler alert: No.

But it is possimpible that it can solve some of them.

Last Friday, I purchased the Hoka Stinson 3 from my local running store. Here is what the Hoka One One site says about the Stinson 3:

The all-new Stinson 3 features the signature category-defining HOKA ONE ONE cushioning and support, and is redesigned from the ground up for maximum cushioning on the road. New for 2015 is a more balanced Meta-Rocker for improved forefoot support, and tuned underfoot geometry for improved ride and stability. The upper features ComfortFrame in the heel and midfoot for improved fit, and light padding on the tongue for increased comfort.

At the store, I had my feet measured and discovered that I have a full size difference between my left and right feet now. It used to be a half size. So that was fantastic news. Ugh.

Based on my needs, I tried two different models: the Hoka Stinson 3 and the Bondi 4. (I originally wanted to try the Mafate, which is pronounced Mah-fah-tay, not Mah-fate, FYI. More on the Mafate in a sec.)

I liked the feel of the Hoka Stinson’s right away. The Bondis came up too high under my ankle joints and rubbed.

As for the size: The size 10 Stinson’s fit my left foot perfectly, but my right foot was slipping out of the back of the shoe. The 9.5’s would have to work. (I normally wear 10’s in Brooks and most other running shoes.)

The Hokas do not have as big of a toe box as I hoped. Originally, I’d gone to the shop looking to try the Mafate’s, which looked online like the toe box is a little more straight and the toe a little more widely rounded. The shop I went to had sent all the trail shoes (the Mafate is a trail model) to the White River 50 race, so there weren’t any in my size for me to try on. But, holding one up (in another size) to the Stinson, there really isn’t that much difference in the toe box. See below:

Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka Stinson 3 Review
Mafate from below
Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka One One Stinson 3 Review
Stinson from below
Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka Stinson 3 Review
Mafate from above
Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka Stinson 3 Review
Stinson from above

The teenage cross country runner helping me assured me that Stinson is one of the better Hoka models for both trail and road running, so that’s what I got. He also lives near me and runs the same trail, so he knew exactly what I was talking about when I whined about sharp gravel that’s killing my feet.

I have run in the Hoka Stinson 3’s three times so far: 4.5 miles on the treadmill (with sprints), 13 slower miles on mostly trail and some road, 3 miles on the treadmill (with sprints).

Below, is my opinion on the shoes, which by the way, I’m calling my Barneys (not because they’re unfortunately purple like a certain dinosaur, but because they share a name with Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother).

Hoka Stinson 3 Cons:

I don’t like the color combo. It’s not Hoka’s fault. But the shoes are University of Washington colors and I’m a Washington State University girl, so the purple and yellow combo are usually on my “don’t buy” list. But I’m also an impatient girl, and it was the only color my local shop had in stock. Besides, the other color combo—blue with white soles—seemed like it would get dirtier faster, especially considering I run on a dusty trail.

The toe box is curved inward like most other running shoes. That annoyed the shit out of me, and is a definite con. Who’s feet are shaped like this? I guess what I want is a Hoka with an Altra toe box. Is that too much to ask? I am not sure if I should blame the blister I got on my left toe on the shoe shape or just chalk it up to new shoes.

Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka Stinson Review
Obligatory blister photo

My toes on my right foot cramp after about 40 minutes of running in these shoes. Not all of them cramp, just two middle ones (the two next to my big toe). And it happens almost exactly at 40 minutes. I cannot figure this one out. This has never happened to me in other shoes. It’s possible it is because the shoe is a little big on my right foot, and with the rocker sole and only a 6mm heel to toe differential…? It happened both on the treadmill and out on the trail. It hurt enough to make me walk during my long run last weekend. But then it went it away. Then it came back. Then it went away. Came back. Went away, etc. Could have something to do with the fact that I’m going from a 12mm drop to about a 6mm drop, I suppose, but it doesn’t happen in my left toes, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything because I have basically no arch in my left foot and a high arch in my right (why my right foot is shorter than my left). Not sure what to make of this strange phenomenon.

My feet get very hot. I guess this means the uppers in the Hokas do not breathe well. I need to find some dry-max socks stat. (Perhaps this is what contributed to the blister.)

Price is an issue for me. I feel like $160 is a lot of money. I do consider it an investment. Hopefully, these will last me a long time and I will get my money’s worth.

Hoka Stinson 3 PROS:

The Stinsons are very light. They look like clod-hoppers, but they are super light. They feel lighter than my Brooks Adrenalines. (Actual weights: Adrenalines are 9.9 ounces and the Hoka Stinson 3’s are 9.8.)

Very stable. I know it looks like you will be running on platforms, but your foot actually sits down in these and you feel very stable as you run. I don’t believe there’s any more of a danger of rolling an ankle in these than there would be with any other shoe. Maybe even less of a danger because the angle of the soles—they sort of flare out very slightly at the base.

So comfortable. Like running on fluffy clouds. I can feel the ground enough on the trail, but not enough that the rocks kill my feet. I feel like I could run forever.

Protects my big toe. My hallux limitus issue in my left big toe is a non-issue in these shoes and that had been a major problem. So these shoes–probably because the rocker-shaped sole–essentially protect that toe joint. It was not inflamed or sore after 13 miles last weekend. That’s huge!

My left ankle didn’t hurt after my long run. Because I can “toe off” better with my left foot, I think, I’m not rolling out and flipping my foot in to land, and causing repetitive strain on my ankle.

I can run just as fast as before. I’ve heard some people complain that these make them run slower. Because I wasn’t in pain at 10 miles, I was able to do some faster running at the end of my long run!

Mom vs. Marathon | Hoka Stinson 3 Review
DailyMile stats

Conclusion:

I like the Hoka Stinson 3’s enough to deal with some of the cons—most namely the hot feet and the cramping right toes. Maybe I need some different inserts.

The reality is that I can’t make it past 10 miles in my Brooks Adrenalines between my hallux limitus and the bottoms of my feet killing me. And my Cascadias don’t have enough support to let me go past an hour of running—my arches hurt bad afterward, as does my hallux limitus toe.

I need a shoe that has lots of cushion to protect the bottoms of my feet, but that is stiff enough to keep my left big toe from bending too much, and the Hoka Stinson 3’s do that.

So, there you have it. Now, “Suit up!” and get out and run.

Have you tried Hokas? What model do you run in? Thoughts?

How to Not Quit Training for Your Marathon

*crickets*

I didn’t desert this blog for no reason.

You know how when your mom says if you don’t have anything nice to say, to not say anything at all?

I was just following her advice.

Because after Sunday’s long run, I’d just about hung up my sports bra and hobbled away from running. For good this time! I mean it!

I took some days off, though, to…um…cool off. Here’s what happened:

Sunday was my fourth double-digit run of my marathon training and I only made it 11 miles. So, I’ve done 10, 10, 10 and 11. And after I finished, I didn’t know if I could possibly do more than that. I was supposed to 12.

I couldn’t even do one more mile. On a treadmill!

The plan had been to break up the run with 6 on my regular gravelly trail and 6 on the treadmill since I’d had such a hard time the weekend before. Well, thanks to an unexpected visit from a friend I hadn’t seen in a while—insomnia—I got a late start Sunday morning.

By the time I was at 5.5, it was approaching 90 degrees, and since heat makes me want to lie down and wait for crows to peck me to death, I went home instead. I grabbed my favorite BCAA drink (which I’d stored in the fridge), got in the car and drove to the gym.

By the way, the gym is a half of a mile from my house. And I drove.

Then, I started the painful process of restarting to run. But it wasn’t my legs that hurt, it was my GD feet! They felt like pieces of glass that shattered with every step. That’s the only way I can think to describe it.

Somehow, I willed myself to 5.5 more miles and called it quits. I drove home with my tail between my legs, and when I got there I declared this whole marathon training thing to be dumb, stupid and I never want to do it again.

Which is a complete 180-degree turn from where I was two months ago when I thought I would be the next great ultra-runner (over the age of 38). I’d planned to kill the marathon, then crush a 50K the following month and then a half marathon the next day after that.

Haha! What a moron. Who was I kidding?

And here’s the other thing: Running over an hour does not help my body look or feel great. My jiggly stomach is all the evidence I need that my body gets STRESSED the hell out on long runs. I can literally feel the flood of cortisol washing through me.

I see those elite ultrarunners with their light and muscular bodies, and feel inspired. They look like they’re flying over the trail. It looks so fun.

I hate them.

Anyway…

So, I’ve had a few days to think on it.

First, I am not quitting this marathon. I’ve already done that once. I will see this thing through to the fiery end.

Although, I admit, I’m nervous about “finishing or else!” because I felt so great and had such a wonderful first marathon with Zoe. I am worried that this one will be just 26.2 miles of me mumbling the “f” word. Will it ruin the joyful memory of the first one?

Second, I think I need different shoes.

Here’s the deal. I have two pairs of Brooks that I run in: the Cascadias and the Adrenalines. I like Brooks, but…I have foot issues.

I did one double-digit run in the Cascadias on my gravel trail and my arches hurt bad. So, I did the next two in my Adrenalines. My hallux limitus toe hurt pretty bad, as did the bottoms of my feet from all the gravel.

That’s the reason I decided to split up my run Sunday…to save the bottoms of my feet. Well…it didn’t work. As I mentioned, they were as painful as ever.

So, maybe instead of a hydration vest, I should look at trying the Hokas.

I’ve read the Mafate can be helpful for hallux limitus.

Everyone’s got their opinion on these Franken-shoes, but from what I’ve read, they can be really helpful to someone like me who a) can barely bend her left big toe and b) runs on gravel all the time.

Maybe if my feet didn’t feel like they’d be beaten with a meat mallet for two hours then I wouldn’t have been so grumpy after my run on Sunday.

I don’t know. We’ll see. Cross your fingers for me. I’m supposed to do 13 miles this weekend.

If you don’t hear for me from a while, you can guess how it went.

Gear Check: Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Vest

Like most women my age, I’ve been saving up for a designer bag. Except this one straps to your back, holds water and was designed by someone with more balls than Michael Kors.

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest - First Impressions
Link to UD

No disrespect to MK. Love him, but a guy who wears boat shoes sans water vessel doesn’t portray the type of toughness I was thinking about.

Anyway, I stopped in at my local running store yesterday and I tried on the Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Vesta (AKA the Jenny vest as it was designed by ultramarathoner Jenny Jurek). And, you guys, I’m in love.

The vest costs about $125. I have had my eye on it for a little while, so I set aside some money. When I purchase it, it will be the most expensive “bag” I own.

And I’ll only use it once a week!

But it’s worth it. It’s so light, which is super important if I’m going to be loading it up with water and gels and my phone and my pepper spray and God knows whatever else it is I want to take on a long run.

It’s like the magic Mary Poppins bag of running.

I’ve looked at some other vests and they are heavy with nothing in them. Also, most of the hydration packs and vests I’ve looked at don’t have bottles or pockets on the front. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the bottles on the front of the Jenny vest, but I don’t think I’ll mind them–they’re small.

If the store yesterday would’ve had my size in stock, I’d have bought it on the spot. Luckily for my husband, they have to order it and won’t get it till next week.

What’s the most expensive (but totally worth it) piece of running gear you own? (Besides your shoes; that doesn’t count!)

An Interview with Me After My 10 Mile Long Run

Today, Grunhild Swanson became the oldest woman to finish the Western States 100.

Today, Alysia Montano, who is still breastfeeding her baby, won her 7th national title by winning the women’s 800 meter at the USATF Outdoor Championships.

Today, I washed my whites.

Okay, that’s not fair. I also put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. (After my son unloaded it.)

And, well, fine. Because you asked…I did run 10 miles, which I was pretty proud of because I did it alone and that’s the longest I’ve run all by myself in a while, as in probably a year or more.

Yes, it was quite a feat. Since I won the day today sort of like Alysia and Grunhild, I shall now share my post-run interview with myself.

Congratulations on a solo 10-miler. How did you feel out there?

I felt pretty good, you know. I was a little worried about the weather since it hit 95 yesterday, but I lucked out today with cloud cover, a breeze and temps in the upper 70’s.

What were you thinking about while you were out there?

Well, I was listening to an audiobook called As You Wish, so mostly I was thinking about The Princess Bride. I also thought about whether or not I would go blind after a bug committed suicide by flying into my eyeball. The rest of the two hours is a blur, really.

My 10-Miler Interview

How prepared were you for this run?

Well, I skipped my long runs the last two weeks, so I would say about as prepared as I normally am.

Well, congratulations, and we’re looking forward to hearing about how your next run goes.

Thanks! And thank you all for your support out there. Can’t do it without you. Shout out to my boys. God bless. Peace!

This is the Running Book I’ve Been Looking For

We all know lifting weights and doing strength training is good for us. Especially if we are runners.

I have been enjoying my weight lifting sessions. I love seeing how much stronger I am getting. Buuuuut, I have always wondered how beneficial the strength training plan I was using would be for a runner.

I’ve been wondering that for a while. I’d say, pretty much since I’ve started lifting– so about two years now. As much as I sometimes think I could be only a weight lifter, I am in my heart, a runner.

Last night, I was looking for recommendations for a new running book using a search on Pinterest. I just finished Older, Stronger, Faster by Margaret Webb, which I enjoyed and plan to review here later. Anyway, I needed something new.

I came a cross this article, Strength Training for Runners: Do It Right!, on Bodybuilding.com. My index finger trembled as I clicked on the article. Could this be the book I have been looking for?

Guess what?

I think it is! (I haven’t finished it yet, I just bought it on my Kindle last night–only $9.49! But I’ll probably get it in paperback, too.)
This is the Running Book I've Been Looking For

The book is called Anatomy for Runners, but don’t let that science-y title put you off. (Read the Bodybuilding.com article I linked to above for a taste of what you’ll learn in the book.) The book’s author–Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS–explains that he wrote the book because he was a runner, who kept getting injured.

This is the Running Book I've Been Looking For
Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS

The book explains–in easy-to-understand language–how running affects our anatomy. And then gives you a strength training plan to complement your running–to make you a better, stronger, faster runner who will (hopefully) get injured less. I can’t wait to get through it.

I will review it when I’m done, but I couldn’t wait to share it here in case anyone else has been looking for this book.

Why I Started Keeping a Food Diary Again

If things aren’t working, then why keep doing the same thing?

If only I’d kept a food diary back when things were working, then I’d know what it was I was doing different…and wrong.

I read an interesting piece in Eat To Perform about eating enough and eating well for your goals (i.e. to lose fat or to gain muscle or to run a marathon *ahem*). I used their little food calculator (linked at the end of their article) and it made me think…Am I eating ENOUGH?

Why You Should Keep a Food Diary | Mom vs. Marathon

I’ve just been basing my nutrition on hunger. And I feel like if I’m not hungry, then it is probably okay. Okay, so am I eating right for my goals? Hmmmm.

Last night, I decided to write down my food for the day. So I went back to my MyFitnessPal account (@momvsmarathon if you want to look me up) and wrote everything down that I ate yesterday, and guess what? I am probably eating too much fat.

Yesterday, my nutrition broke down like this: 20% protein, 35% carb and 45% fat. I didn’t eat particularly well yesterday, but I would say it was a pretty typical day. I’m not a nutrition stickler, but I try to make healthy choices most of the time.

I went ahead and pre-planned my food for today (Wednesday) in the food diary. And I ate very close to it. Just made small changes if I ended up straying from what I’d planned.

Here’s how the breakdown went today: 30% protein, 40% carb and 30% fat. Better. I still need to get some more protein without the fat. Got ideas?

I also ate a ton more today and am still short of what the ETP calculator said I should be eating, which was over 2,000 calories. Even MyFitnessPal has me down for over 2,000 calories.

Surprisingly only ate 1,676 calories. But I don’t feel like I can eat any more! I’m so full. Obviously, I’ve gotten used to less food if I’m this full after 1,676. Not saying that’s good or bad. Just a fact.

So, I wonder. Am I eating enough for the amount of exercising I do?

It’s a mystery and I think keeping a food diary will help me solve it.

Do you keep a food diary? What do you use?

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report

Five friends. Fifty-two miles. One car. One day.

Ah, Rainier to Ruston, I love you.

It’s not the most hard-core race. It’s not the most scenic after about Leg 4. But, man, it’s my favorite race every year.

This is the fourth year running the event for us, the Honey Buckettes Have the Will. We were just the Honey Buckettes in 2012 and 2013, but our faithful relay driver, Will (Tiffany’s husband), joined our team in 2014, so we adjusted the name.

And did we ever have to will ourselves to the finish line this year. It was just so hot! We are not used to it up here in the Seattle area. We had no time to acclimate. It was raining and in the 50’s earlier in the week. Sheesh!

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Start line photo! Don’t worry, the bigfoot didn’t eat Tiffany, she was already running because we basically rolled up and the race started. Yeah, that’s how we do relays now. ‘Cause we’re pros.

Legs, this year, were assigned as follows:

Leg 1 and 7: Tiffany

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany ringing the bell as she hands off to Mel after Leg 1.

Leg 2 and 8: Mel

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Mel rocked the tough and muddy Leg 2!
2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoe and I slip/climbed down the steep dirt and rock path from the road/bridge to the trail to cheer Mel on during Leg 2.
2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Like a dummy, I had on flip flops.
2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
A view of the bridge over Leg 2. It’s so pretty up there.

Leg 3 and 9: Alyssa

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Alyssa flies into the finish for Leg 3 to hand off to Will for Leg 4!

Leg 4 and 10: Will

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Will rockin’ out the sandy 3-mile Leg 10.

Leg 5 and 11: me

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
I spent more time in Honey Bucket lines than I did running this year, I think. I enjoyed scaring the guys in this line at the Leg 9/10 exchange–they were running Leg 10, and I was not for the first time since 2012. And they’d never run it before.

Leg 6 and 12: Zoe

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoe running strong into the finish at Leg 6/7 exchange.

For the past three years, I had to run Leg 10 and it’s 3+ miles in sand along the Puyallup River. I was so, so happy not to have to run it this year, but I did feel bad for Will.

I’ve also run Legs 2 and 6 (twice!), and 4 (and Leg 10 three times) in our past relays. I’ve run Leg 3 a couple times just for fun with Mel and Tiffany (not during the relay). So I’m getting more and more familiar with the course. Message me if you ever have questions about Rainier to Ruston!

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Me and Mel recreating a photo from a previous year. I have gorilla arms.

My report will cover the legs that I ran this year, 2015…

Leg 5 of the Rainier to Ruston Relay

Our start time was 8 a.m., which meant that I wouldn’t run till almost noon. And it was hot for us Pacific Northwesterners. Probably 80 or so about the time I started my leg. There was a slight breeze, though, so that helped a little.

Leg 5 is net downhill (a 140-foot loss) 4.6-mile run on the paved Orting trail. I’m mildly familiar with it as I’ve run or biked it a few time here and there over the years.

I took a gel before starting the leg for two reasons. I hadn’t been sure how to properly fuel for a run that I’d left my house for at 5 a.m. and wouldn’t be running till 11:30 a.m. Just in case I hadn’t eaten enough, and also because it was so hot (and I knew I’d need more energy), I took a gel about 15 minutes before I ran. I think it helped me a lot.

Also, keeping in the spirit of our team name, I used the Honey Buckets even though I’d just gone not 20 minutes before.

I enjoyed the straight stretches of this slightly downhill trail because I could laser-eye peoples’ backs, catch them and then pass them. I probably slowed down when there were curves and couldn’t see anybody.

Mile 1: I took off too fast even though it didn’t feel too fast. I just knew an 8:13 pace would not be sustainable in the heat. Besides, I’ve been running slower lately to train for a marathon, and haven’t been doing a lot of speed. So this pace surprised me a little. I kept trying to slow down, but because of the slight downhill and the race adrenaline, it was difficult.

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
As I began running, I realized my music wasn’t in. I knew I needed music for this hot, basically straight, leg.

I felt really awesome despite the temperature! I wondered for how long I would feel awesome.

My first mile was 8:59 pace.

Mile 2: I continued to target and pass people, including a couple of moms of kids at my son’s school (one whose daughter is in my son’s class). I think they were running with someone running the ultra, though, so that doesn’t count. It was fun to see some familiar, but unexpected, faces during the race.

My second mile was 8:37 pace.

Mile 3: I started to fade a bit. My body was like Whoa Nelly, you aren’t trained to run this fast past a couple of miles. I just tried to hold on.

I noticed people switching sides of the trail to take advantage of the shady patches. At first, I thought it wasn’t a good idea because it would add a little distance, but dang, it was hot.

I also was pouring quite a bit of my Nuun on my head to cool off even though it was warm by then. Thank goodness Nuun isn’t sticky and doesn’t stain!

I think this mile had a stretch through a swampy bog place. It was hot, muggy and still on that stretch. No wind or fresh air. Couldn’t wait to get past it.

Mile 3 was 8:52 pace.

Mile 4: After the bog, there was a stretch of cottonwood trees and the cottonwood seeds were blowing everywhere. It was snowing cottonwood. I got it in my mouth, so I tried to run with my mouth close and I got it in my nose.

Also, in a rare move (because I hate holding things while I run), I took off my hat, dumped more Nuun on my head and did not put my hat back on until the finish.

Mile 4 was 8:57 pace.

Mile 5 (.6 of a mile): I knew I was getting close and I think that made me speed up a little. I was very hot, but didn’t feel too bad. I was just so hot.

Mile 5 (.6 of a mile) was 8:43 pace.

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race
Tagging Zoe at the end of Leg 5 sans hat.

Zoe took off for Leg 6 and we quickly jumped in the car since Leg 6 is just under 3 miles.

Overall, Leg 5 isn’t too bad, but it’s not as fun as legs 1-4 since it’s on pavement. There was more shade than I expected, too. Mostly patchy, but it helped.

Leg 11 of the Rainier to Ruston Relay

The dreaded Leg 11. The city leg. Nobody wants it. But I’d done Leg 10 for the past 3 years, so anything’s better than 3 miles in sand, right?

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tending to our Leg 10 runner, Will.

Poor Will suffered through Leg 10 and he had to do Leg 11 last year. Next year, Will, you get to choose your legs, I say!

Leg 11 picks up where Leg 10 leaves off along the Puyallup River. It’s a mile in the sand, and then over 4 miles of running through industrial portions of Tacoma and hilly downtown. It’s billed as an 80-foot gain, and a 44-foot loss over 5.7 miles. I knew I’d be running much slower on this leg.

I pottied (again!) and took a gel about 5 minutes before I started the leg. I know both of those things helped.

Mile 1: I pretty much knew what to expect since I’ve done Leg 10 so many times. Surprisingly, though, this portion along the river features softer, deeper sand. Yay! I just kept telling myself it was only a mile (a little less, actually). I was super excited to see the turn from the river up to the road.

I somehow led several runners up onto the road and then across the street toward the overpass.

Mile 1 pace was 11:03.

Mile 2: One strong runner passed me on the hill/overpass that I chose to speed walk. After that, it wasn’t so bad running through the industrial offices and such. The faster woman was pretty far up ahead and the others had dropped off behind me somewhere, so I was kind of alone–at the very least, we were all spread out. But I sort of knew what to expect on this portion, too, because we’ve always waited for our runner in the area.

I was expecting to see my team, but they weren’t in the usual spot. I hoped they hadn’t decided not to stop somewhere. I turned a corner and spotted them up ahead.

They’d formed a victory arch and it made me smile big. Loved it! My team is awesome. There were no other teams in the area, and I think I only saw 1 or 2 teams stop for their runners along this entire route.

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
My team rocks!

After that, though, I knew I had a long, lonely road ahead.

This leg then curved and joined a busy city road. There are a lot of turns on this leg, so I’d printed out an extra copy of Leg 11 and had it in my handheld, but the course was well marked with orange arrows on the ground.

I think it was during this mile that we ran past some sort of plant–a gas plant– that was misting water. Yuck. And also through a construction site, so the pavement changed to gravel for a short section. I had to bargain with myself–just run to the tractor, then you can walk for a minute.

Mile 2 pace was 10:07. And I was very pleased with that.

Mile 3: The gravel section went under the freeway and provided some much needed shade. I allowed myself to walk through the shade, just to cool down. I had been sipping my now-warm Nuun periodically, but because of the breeze, I couldn’t tell if I’d had enough, so I at least tried to have a sip every mile.

After going under the freeway, I passed a woman WITH NO WATER. I offered her some of my Nuun, but she declined. I can’t believe anyone would run nearly 7 miles in 85+ degrees with NO WATER. Let’s be smart, people.

In front of us was a man with a nice, consistent jog. We passed the woman, who was now walking (with NO water), and rounded a corner then had to go up and onto a bridge over the river. The incline was a little steep and he slowed his jog to a wog and sort of wobbled up it. I decided to speed walk. It was much easier and I passed him. Speed walking FTW!

After coming down off of the bridge there were some pretty major street crossings and I got stuck on an island at a freeway on/off ramp with a couple ladies, who were suffering some cramping in their quads and hips. It made me take stock of my muscles. My calves were sore, but that was it. I also checked to make sure I was nice and sweaty.

Mile 3 was a 10:10 pace.

Mile 4: I didn’t really want to leave these two women because we were headed into a sketchy part of downtown Tacoma, but one was walking and the other one was, I think, doing a run/walk/run thing. I was just walking when I felt like I needed it, and I felt fine. Hot, but fine.

So after a half mile or so, I was basically alone. I could barely see a woman in bright pink socks way ahead of me and then the two ladies with sore muscles were way behind me.

I passed some people who looked rough, but they left me alone. One man, and a woman with him, who looked like they might’ve been homeless, commented on my sparkle skirt: “Shiny!”

BTW: Sparkle skirts (like the ones we have from Sparkle Athletic) are great in relays. It’s so much easier to spot your teammates in a crowd!

I eventually caught the girl with the pink compression socks on a hill. We walked several pretty major hills together and chatted. She hadn’t trained for the race at all. Eek!

Mile 4 was a 12:17 pace.

Mile 5: We continued to walk hills and jog the flat parts for a bit. But after  a while, we parted. I felt like running more and she was going to walk. I guess I didn’t pay enough attention to the course here because I was chatting. I don’t remember much, except more hills.

Mile 5 was 11:27 pace.

Mile 6 (.7 of a mile): Finally, I could tell I was getting closer as I started to recognize the area around University of Washington-Tacoma. Unfortunately, I’ve been around there a few times for races. I’m a Washington State University alumni, so boo Huskies and go Cougs!

It was nice running through the small campus, though. And it was funny when I saw a guy in a WSU hat letting his dog poop on the UW lawn. (He picked it up, though.)

Pretty soon, I was getting close to where the finish was last year. But wait, where was it?

They’ve had to move the finish of Leg 11 the past two years, I guess. It took me a couple minutes, but then I saw the bell and my sparkle skirt-clad teammates. But then I got a red light.

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Leg 11: longest leg ever.

Argh! So close. This was a long leg, I was ready to be done. And, finally, I was. Zoe took off, but then she got stopped by a red light. Oh well.

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoe’s thinking: When’s this light gonna change so I can get running?

Mile 6 (.71 of a mile) was a 11:33 pace.

Overall, Leg 11 is rough. It’s not scenic after leaving the river. It’s dirty, hot, noisy and a little scary in some parts. There’s also hardly any shade. Bring water…and maybe Mace.

We finished in our slowest time since we started the race in 2012: 8:46:43, which works out to be like a 10:06 pace over the whole 52-mile course. That’s actually pretty dang good considering the weather!

No matter. This is one of my favorite races because you get the experience of a relay, but you get to go home and sleep in your own bed at the end of the day. I know Honey Buckettes Have the Will will keeping coming back every year!

2015 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Back: Tiffany and her husband Will, and Mel
Front: Alyssa, me and Zoe