Run in the Sporty Diva Half Marathon! Race Director: The Inspiring Rose Coates

Aug 3
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2012 Marathon/Half-Marathon Challenge, Current Events

I’ve made Facebook friends with a really inspiring woman. Rose friended me after reading my book, and through her posts I was quick to see that she’s a kindred spirit—committed to facing down her fears and to diving into life with passion and audacity. She’s experienced a powerful transformation and now encourages others to stay on track with the transformations they’re shooting for. Check out her story here:

Recently Rose has been highlighting the stories of others on her blog (see her interview with me, here).

And now she’d directing the Sporty Diva Half Marathon, perfect for new and non-competitive runners.

DATE: September 15, 2012

TIME: 0900


FEE: 45.00 (for the 5k, 10k, 15k and Half Marathon walk or run)

For more information, click here. Sign up soon!

Happy Marathon to You!

Apr 30
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2012 Marathon/Half-Marathon Challenge, Advice, Preparations

I’d hoped to celebrate my 45th birthday by running the Pittsburgh Marathon with two readers turned friends (Marilyn and Juanita), but life took over my planning. Because of my sudden trip to New York two weeks ago, I’ve had to abandon the idea of another adventure to the East Coast. Instead, on May 6 (my actual birthday), I’ll be here in Washington training in the rain (I presume) for my next marathon, the Estes Park Marathon in Colorado—June 17.

But I’ll feel like friends all around the country will be celebrating with me as they run their scheduled events. Besides Marilyn and Juanita, Melissa, Julia, Jennifer, and Beth are all running May 6 races! And, yes, I’m aware they’re not actually running in honor of my birthday, but I’m excited for them nonetheless!

Many of those on my 2012 virtual training partner list have their races right around the corner. And for most, this is their first marathon or half marathon ever.  For those of us who are veteran runners (I can hardly believe I put myself in that category, but I suppose I must at this point), it can be hard to remember how incredibly difficult and painstaking the training was, how frightened we were that we wouldn’t make it to the starting line (or even if we made it that far, could we get to the finish line?). It may have slipped our minds how we fought for every step during that first race and then how we cried crossing the line for the first time. Do you remember the sweet smell of the first medal ever hung around your neck? Or the way you searched the website after the race to find your name, just to prove you’d really done it?

May and June are heavy marathon months. What are your words of advice or encouragement for those undertaking their first big race? And if you’re doing your first marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, or even your first mile, what are you thinking, worrying, and excited about?

2012 Challenge Interview with Sharon Young!

Feb 26
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2012 Marathon/Half-Marathon Challenge, Conversations

Some of my friends and readers who have taken the 2012 challenge to run their first (or first in a long time) half or full marathon have begun to complete their races. I really want to interview as many as are willing to share more about their experiences. Here’s the first one. Meet my friend, Sharon Young. She’s a fabulous therapist, a young adult author (still lookin’ for a publisher), a very loyal pal, and NOW she’s a half marathoner, too.

2012 Training Partners Post-race Interview with Sharon Young:

Sharon, thanks for agreeing to share your journey with us! First of all, can you tell us what made you decide you wanted to do a half marathon?

Last year one of my new year’s goals was to run a 5K. Shortly after I finished the Big Backyard 5K in May, I saw Cami’s post about the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. Nothing draws me in so swiftly as the possibility of a trip to Disneyland and the promise of bling—in this case the bling came in the shape of shiny golden wings surrounding one adorable pixie—Tinker Bell!

How did you pick the one you did?

Did I mention the medal?

Talk about your training: How did you train? What worked? What would you do differently next time?

In order to meet my 5K goal, I had already started training. This put me at three miles as my starting base distance. I looked up some training plans online, but essentially I ran shorter runs during the week and each week of training tried to add one mile to my long runs. This worked well, but I must say it was very helpful to have a training partner. I asked (read: whined a little, cajoled, enticed with promises of Disneyland fun and Tinker Bell bling) my sister if she wanted to run it with me. She agreed, and we trained together. We kept each other accountable and ran together each weekend. Also helpful—having more seasoned runners as friends. I talked strategy and training with them, and asked questions about nutrition, hydration, race expectations, etc. One thing I would change—I didn’t have the opportunity to train in warmer weather, which impacted my race a bit. I decided not to wear my water belt, and I wish I would have. I think it would have been helpful to know ahead how the warmer weather would affect me, but it’s all part of being new at something—experience teaches you.

Did you feel ready? What were your biggest fears going in?

I definitely felt ready. My biggest fear was being swept from the course. I am a slow runner, and happily run at my slower pace. The pace issue only became an issue when I saw there was a time limit on the course. Further on in my training I did some speed work to increase my pace, and was pretty pleased with the progress. But still, I did worry about the sweepers pulling me—kicking and screaming—off the course, which of course would mean no bling. Second biggest fear—no bling!

Tell us about the race: What did you love? What was hard? What surprised you?

The race was wonderful. Okay, it was work, but secondarily it was wonderful! The Tinker Bell Half Marathon was a perfect selection for my first half marathon. The course was flat and dotted with Disneyland landscape and characters, music, cheer squads, and fellow runners decked out in tutus and wings. It was very exciting to be part of the energy and atmosphere. Also, it came with an unexpected bonus. I am a big LOTR fan (duh-Lord of the Rings), and it turned out Sean Astin (aka Samwise Gamgee) ran with us. Way, waaayyyy ahead of me, but still… sort of cool.

One thing that was both difficult and fabulous was the weather. Training in Seattle it was cold and clear, wet and dreary, and even snowy. One thing it was not—sunny and warm. My weather research told me to expect highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s—not bad for transitioning from the Seattle damp. What we actually got was a few perfect days in the high 70’s. I swear it might have even reached 80 degrees! I was in Disneyland much of the day before the race, and although I drank tons of water I just did not drink enough or—as Cami told me later—have enough salt. I went into the race slightly dehydrated, and I spent much of the race trying to catch up on the hydration. Several miles into the race I asked myself—Do you want to keep your current pace and try for a good finish time (dropping on the course and leaving without your medal) or do you want to slow down and finish? There was no contest. I wanted my medal and I wanted to finish. So, I slowed my pace, and finished a little outside of my projected time AND happy I did what I needed to take care of myself.

At the end, and in the days that followed, I had only mild soreness in my shins and quads. I was very pleased with how my body preformed, and proudly wore my medal throughout Disneyland. The Disneyland crew were awesome—congratulating us when they saw the medal. It was a great experience.

Do you think you’ll ever do another one?

Yes, it’s already in the planning stages.

If so, what are your hopes for future races?

I hope to continue to develop my fitness level and running pace. And I hope to find fun races to run on interesting courses. I’d love to convince some of my family and friends to runlikeadiva with me!

What did you learn about yourself on this journey?

I learned how strong and determined I can be. I already knew this about myself, but discovered it in a new way. I realized that, although I sometimes waver about making them, once I make a decision about something I move forward and make it happen. I learned that I love the feeling of—I did that! Wow am I tough!

A huge thanks to Sharon for agreeing to be interviewed and also for sharing her first half marathon with me. Sharon’s sister, Julie, also ran her first half marathon with us and later this week, I’ll post my interview with her. To all of you out there who are in training and looking forward to your respective events, keep up the good work! Whatever our pace, we’re in this together.


Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race Report 2012

Feb 1
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2012 Marathon/Half-Marathon Challenge, Race Reports

I flew down to Southern California with five friends: three women who live in my neighborhood and two from Seattle. My three neighbors and I were needled by the security man at the Bellingham airport as he examined our drivers’ licenses when we checked in. “Hmm. Looks like some kind of a Wisteria Lane deal. Where are you desperate housewives headed?” he asked. Neither desperate, nor housewives, we graciously explained that we were bound for Disneyland for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and a bit of sun.

The trip was the brainchild of my dear friend Sharon who decided she wanted to run her first half marathon, but it had to be a Run Disney event! She loves Disney characters and Tink, with all her spunk, is one of her favorites. Always in favor of supporting friends in the process of discovering running, I invited myself along and encouraged my neighbors to join us.  We found a hotel right outside of the park’s main gate, bought ourselves some Nuu Muus so we’d look like a team, persuaded my husband, Bill, to dog sit in our absence, and off we went.


(L to R) Cami, Sonia, Julie M, Alisa, Sharon, Julie E


At 5:50 am Sunday morning, Tinker Bell said, “Go,” and the crowd of 12,000 (mostly) women shuffled across the starting line. At this point, I’m no novice to half marathons—large and small—but I’m still rattled just a little by the crush of bodies trying to elbow space enough to put one foot in front of the other at these large, commercial events. The Tinker Bell run was no exception.  

My pals and I were in the second corral; it took about six minutes to reach the starting line and three miles to find enough room to get some kind of consistent cadence going. At the start of the race, the six of us ran side by side briefly and then broke off into twos. Sharon and her sister, Julie E, fell back quickly as we’d expected. Their goal was to come in under the 3.5 hour cutoff point if possible and ultimately to finish the race without getting swept from the course. Julie M usually runs with me, but within a mile, I could no longer see her and our neighbor, Sonia, in the crowd behind me. I realized that looking back to search for them was asking to be tripped by someone in front of me and gave up. Occasionally, a runner in front of me would come to a dead stop and cut out of the stream of traffic to have her picture taken with Mickey or Buzz Light Year or some other fictitious creature. I tried not to mind the herky jerky nature of the event, but caught myself grumbling just a little. Sonia’s sister, Alisa, tracked with me for about 6 miles before I lost sight of her, too.

Even with the obstacles I appreciated that the route was almost perfectly flat, the temperature extremely moderate and the hype and energy of the crowd exceedingly cheerful.  And to the credit of the event planners, everything was in place. Aid stations were plentiful; the volunteers were numerous; the course was well marked; and there was plenty of roadside entertainment.

Finally able to find the space to stretch to my full stride after the sixth mile, I got into a groove and enjoyed the numerous local high school cheer squads and bands stationed along the route through downtown Anaheim.  I looked at my Garmin and realized that my second 5K was very respectable and much faster than the first 5K when I’d been battling the hordes. Feeling I had it in me to keep up a 10:30 pace for the remaining miles if I didn’t get tripped, I pushed myself hard through the next four miles. At mile 10 I misread both my Garmin and the mile marker and thought I was at mile 11. “I could get a PR!” I said to myself, picked up my pace and panted through the next mile expectantly, hoping I could cross the line in about 2:10. When I saw the next mile marker read “11” and verified it with my Garmin, I’ll admit that the wind was taken out of my sail just a bit. I’m not sure how I’d misread both the road sign and my GPS but… oh well. Easy come; easy go.  Still if I kept up my pace, I would get in the best half marathon I’d run since I was in my 20s, so I gave it my best.

I crossed the finish line in 2:20.

Elated, and proud of my effort, I collected my medal and a bottle of water and then realized… I was alone (I mean, so to speak). All my friends were still on the course. Turning back around to go wait by the finish line was a no go, unfortunately. I was hustled and jostled by volunteers insisting that I move on into the recovery area. I had to sidestep them and wiggle in behind the kids handing out emergency blankets to get a view of the finish.

(A little commentary: Although my own race was good, and I achieved a midlife half marathon PR, I felt immediately dehumanized once I crossed the finish line. No one cared that I wanted to scream when Sharon and Julie E finished their first half or that I wanted to watch for Julie M, Sonia, and Alisa, who were only minutes behind me. With twelve thousand runners, there’s no room for individual stories or the meeting of personal needs. And although this was billed as a girlfriends’ event and women were encouraged to sign up in teams, there seemed to be no accommodating of those teams as they tried to support one another in their respective goals.)

Ignoring all warnings to move on, I waited by the finish line as invisible as I could make myself for fifteen minutes until Alisa spotted me. It’s a good thing I stayed put where she could find me because she got lightheaded once she stopped running and needed to spend some time in the medical tent rehydrating and resting. In the midst of keeping one eye on Alisa and another eye on the finish line for the others, not only did I miss seeing EVERY one of my friends cross, but I eventually lost them in the crowd and never reunited with them—even at the designated meeting spot we’d agreed upon before the race.

Head hanging low, I wandered back to my hotel room by myself where I waited for my five pals to return and regale me with stories of aching muscles and Rapunzel sightings. (BTW, here are the others’ finish times: Sharon–3:52, Alisa–2:34, Sonia–2:59, Julie E–3:52, & Julie M–2:59.)

Overall, I’d give the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon an A for organization, energy, and fun, but I’ve learned my lesson about the mega races. I’m sure I’ll do more of them, because they do offer a fully loaded experience from expo to finish, but they don’t give much of a personal touch, and you have to be prepared to be alone in a crowd.


After the race with our Tinker Bell medals




How to Train for a Half or Full Marathon

Dec 11
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2012 Marathon/Half-Marathon Challenge, Advice

If you’re thinking of joining me for the 2012 Marathon Challenge, the first thing you have to do (after choosing a race, that is) is find a training good plan. How you train will determine the quality of your race experience. I love the stories of people who decide to run a marathon a week before the event, show up, and make it to mile 17 before collapsing, throwing up, or requiring medical attention. These are terrific cautionary tales, as long as the storyteller survives to tell it.

But you want to have a successful experience and maybe even have some fun (remember, no one is paying you to do this–it’s all for your own benefit). Fortunately for all of us, my friend, Carol Frazey, running coach, personal trainer, nutrition expert, and former Penn. State cross-country and track star, has prepared a solid training plan for you.

For those training for a HALF MARATHON, she has created a 12-week plan that will take you from running 4 miles to 13.1.

For those of you training for a FULL MARATHON, she’s got an 18-week plan that starts you from a base of six miles for your first Saturday run.

A few things to know before you start:

1. Carol refers to your “1-mile pace” in her plan. Here’s how you find out what that is: Go to a track with a stopwatch and time yourself running the track 4 times (if you don’t have a track handy, measure out a mile with your car or use your Garmin). Run this mile hard–not so hard that you can’t talk at all, but hard enough that you hope you don’t have to talk. This is your 1-mile pace for the time being. When Carol’s plan requires you to use your 1-mile pace, she’s asking you to get to know what your body feels like at that pace, not to measure it each time.

2. Your “10K pace” is slightly slower than your 1-mile pace, but still harder than your long run pace. Carol suggests adding 40 seconds onto your 1-mile pace as an estimate of what you should be able to sustain for 10K (or 6.2 miles). My best 1-mile pace is 8:53, so my 10K pace should be 9:33 (though truth be told, I cannot imagine sustaining a 9:33 pace for 6 miles–but some might say I really haven’t tried). Jeff Galloway says to multiply your one-mile trial by 1.15 for a 10K pace. Example: If your mile trial is 10 minutes, your 10K pace, according to Galloway, will be 11:30. Whichever formula you use, your 10K pace will help you work on conditioning and speed, and again, you’ll be going mostly by how your body feels for our purposes.

3. How do you know what your half-marathon or marathon pace will actually be? To figure it out, take your fastest 1-mile trial and multiply it by 1.2 (according to Galloway). This should predict your best per-mile pace (under ideal conditions) for a half marathon. So my 8:53 mile multiplied by 1.2 comes out to a little slower than an 10:39-minute mile. According to the experts, I should be able to sustain that for 13.1 miles. For a full marathon, Galloway suggests multiplying your trial mile by 1.3 (for me, that would be a little over 11:30 per mile sustained for 26.2 miles).

Having said all of this, my fastest half marathon brings me in right around 11:30 (or eleven and a half) minutes per mile and my average full-marathon pace is closer to 12:30. The moral of the story is: Do your best with whichever training program you choose and realize that no equation fits for every runner. In my opinion (and in the opinion of many who give advice about this sort of thing), the MOST IMPORTANT part of any training program is the long run. Get your long runs in on schedule and you’ll hold your own on race day!

Any questions so far? Well, guess what? I’ve got Carol on speed dial, so I can get answers.