Gratefulness. And Training–Week #36

Sep 6
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2013 Challenge, Around Town, Reflections

Have you ever had someone visit your town and when you took them for a run you noticed new things about your regular route that you never noticed before because you’re seeing it through your visitor’s eyes? Well I have. Monday Bill and I took a run with a friend of a friend who was visiting Bellingham (and who is now our friend). For an hour, we toured Whatcom Falls Park, through the cemetery, and up to the bridge that crosses Alabama Street. We wanted her to get a look at Bellingham from atop the hill. While we were standing on the bridge, Bill pointed out landmarks:

“Over there is the university. And out beyond the bay you can see the San Juan Islands,” he said, pointing out the green mounds in the water I usually take for granted.

I stood back and listened to his narration–and looked out at the panorama. I was suddenly struck that I live in a very beautiful place. In fact, Bellingham is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been (and I’ve been to every continent, as you know)! If I were a traveler visiting my town, I wouldn’t want to leave. And since I live here, I only have to leave when I go on vacation.

Sometimes I forget to be grateful for what is right in front of me. Not this week.


Sunday: Pace work. Bill wanted me to try a new workout with him at the track. His plan was to jog down to the track from our house (one mile) and then do four one-mile repeats, speeding up each mile by one minute, before jogging back home. He planned to run his miles at 10 minutes, 9 minutes, 8 minutes, and 7 minutes. I knew I couldn’t keep up beyond the nine minute mile, so my repeats were as follows: 10:00, 9:00, 9:30, 9:40. If the goal was to run the last mile faster than the first, I might have been better off speeding up by only 15 seconds for each mile. Live and learn.

Monday: Six mile run with our new friend, Talca.

Tuesday: Slow couple of miles.

Wednesday: Speed work. 4 miles total with 25 minutes of that time doing ins and outs at the track (slow on the curves, hard on the straights).

Thursday: Slow couple of miles.

Friday: Slow couple of miles.

Saturday: A half marathon that starts at the Lummi Stommish Grounds. I’m doing this just to get the miles in and not so much for time, so I expect to finish in around 2:25.

It’s nice to be back on track. How’s your training going? How did summer treat you? What are your goals this fall?

Hi Again

Sep 2
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2013 Challenge, Reflections

Last week was the first week in 2013 that I didn’t post anything here on 7marathons7continents. We had a very full week; my beloved (Bill) retired after 30 years as a teacher of ESL and director of an international exchange at Western Washington University.

I’m prouder of Bill than I can say. I’m not sure I’ve ever had it in me to set my mind on doing a job for so many years, but I’ve always admired Bill’s tenacity. He puts his whole heart into everything he does, a quality which mostly benefits me and sometimes irritates me. As a recovering perfectionist, I like to think I’m wholehearted (as opposed to perfectionistic) in most of my endeavors, but I do occasionally like to engage in activities halfheartedly. But Bill never approached his work with anything other than integrity and commitment. Over his years at WWU, more than 4,000 Japanese students came through, and Bill made it his job to make sure the program he directed offered each of them a quality experience that would change their lives for the better.

Now, he’ll be recalibrating, cleaning the garage, finding a new rhythm. And I’ll be working around having him in the house more often–happily.

On Training:
I’m getting up to speed after two weeks off of running while we were in Japan. This last week I managed to get my miles back up to about 25 and did both my pace and speed work. Today I got out for six miles with Bill and another friend. I’ll be back to posting weekly workouts on Friday. My coach, Carol Frazey from, has just launched her 6-month marathon training program for a group of women training for the Austin Marathon. I’m ahead of the game because I’ve been training all year to shave off an hour from my marathon average, but I’m excited to have the extra support of her weekly seminars and regular emails. If you missed out on working with Carol this time, don’t worry. She’ll run her program again.

Cheers to all of you. I hope you’ve been enjoying these past few weeks of summer.

Tentative Celebration–

Jul 27
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2013 Challenge, Race Reports

In 2008 I ran my half marathon PR in Leavenworth, WA in 2:19:41. Today I shattered/crushed/obliterated that record with a time of 2:19:35 (ish– because the time clock said :32, but my watch said :35)! Yippee. A beautiful day and a gorgeous course—what more could a girl want?

Today was my fourth attempt to speed up my half marathon pace. Each race has helped me learn something about what I’m working toward, and today’s Anacortes Art Dash was no exception. I’m training toward being able to average 10 minutes per mile (today I was at a 10:39 average). The Art Dash course has one big hill which I knew would slow me down, so I gave myself permission to take that one mile slower, hoping I was ready to keep all the other miles to 10 minutes. And I did pretty well until mile 9, when I slowed down to more than eleven minutes a mile. Still pushing, I held on to my cadence and put in my best effort even after that ninth mile.

Unlike the See Jane Run race, I wore my Garmin so I wouldn’t start out too fast, but I just can’t keep up the 10 minute pace after 9 miles yet. More training, friends. That’s the answer.

One thing I noticed is that after nine miles, I wasn’t having fun. This troubled me. Running for me has never been about speed as much as it’s been about personal growth, social outlet, spiritual practice, and fitness (not necessarily in that order). The challenge this year to incrementally speed up my pace (ultimately shooting for a 4:30 marathon) has taught me that my body CAN gain fitness and learn new habits, but they aren’t coming easy—I lose the inner focus that I’ve enjoyed at the old 12 minute mile pace. This tells me I’m growing as a person as I speed up because I need to develop a new mind practice along with the new pace.

Bill caught up to me at mile 12 today and tried to get me to run the last mile hard. I heaved my elbows backwards as Carol has taught me, but it didn’t make my legs go any faster—and I felt like I was going to throw up (which, if I’d given in to the feeling, would have for sure slowed me down).

When you don’t grow up doing sports, you never learn how to push through the pain that comes with hard physical movement (or even which kind of pain is normal and which will result in injury). I’ve been determined to grow myself as a runner, but the way through the last miles at my new pace is still a mystery to me. Still, I’m nothing if not tenacious, so I won’t give up.

I’m thrilled about my PR, AND I know I still want to teach my body to be happy at the 10 minute mile through the whole half-marathon distance. Onward and forward friends.

On another note: From “marathons” to “continents”

japan-on-mapThis blog started out several years ago to track my journey to run a marathon on every continent. In the past two years, since I finished the project and published Second Wind, the blog has focused on running because Bill and I took a break from international travel. Well, we’re off to Japan next week. Our first international trip since March of 2010! And we aren’t traveling for a run (though I hope to get out for a few runs there). We’re traveling for Bill’s work, but while I’m in Japan this time, I plan to go visit several shrines for a new project I’m working on called “Chasing the Goddess.” I’ve always been annoyed by the fact that most of our major religious myths focus on male figures and have long wanted to go to some sacred feminine sites to see what alternative narratives might be available to us—if only we knew where to look.  I’ll be posting here as I go—whenever I can get a wifi connection. Follow me if you’re interested. I hope to get some good pictures and to have an adventure I can share with you. Next to Bill, dogs, reading, and running, the thing I love best is traveling and learning new ways to look at the world. More anon!

Week 24—See Jane Run

Jul 12
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2013 Challenge, Preparations, Training

Tomorrow I go to the See Jane Run half marathon expo to pick up my packet. The race is on Sunday. I’m excited. This’ll be my third shot at trying to beat my best time. I don’t know about you, but I usually go into races with two goals. The first goal is about how I ultimately want the race to go, the second is plan B—in case I can tell at some point that the first goal is obviously not going to happen.

My number one goal isn’t always about time. Sometimes the goal is practically unrelated to running, like last year when I ran the Run with the Wild Horses race in Wyoming, my goal was really a hope: I wanted to see wild horses on the route and get a picture of them. Alternately, I wanted to listen to as much of the audio book of Hunger Games as I could cram in (I got to do both). Sometimes my goal is all about my attitude, or a life-lesson I’m grappling with, something I want to learn about myself from a race.

This year, I’ve devoted my running to improving form, efficiency and, therefore, time. I’ve been working hard to speed up the turn over between each footfall and on relaxing my shoulders and feeling a new, unfamiliar pace and cadence. A couple of months ago I couldn’t sustain my 10K goal pace (9:30/mile) for more than one mile before I needed to rest. With some good coaching and a commitment to being regular with my training, I’ve met my 10K goal and put in many more consecutive miles at that pace. Have you ever wondered if you could do something and discovered that you could? It’s quite powerful!

So this weekend my first goal is to maintain a 10-minute  average for the whole race. This would mean a finish of 2:11. Falling short of that, I’d be happy with my number two goal: To beat 2:15. Of course, there’s always the chance that something goes awry and I roll in later than I hope. I’m happy anytime I give my whole heart to a race and let it really teach me something. That’s sure to happen no matter what the pace.

What happens for you when you set a goal for a race and can see half way through that it won’t be met? How do you manage your attitude in the middle of a long, hard race? Would love to hear about your process.

Check back in on Monday. I’ll be posting a race report. Cheers.

Week 23—And Happy Birthday USA

Jul 6
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in 2013 Challenge, Race Reports, Training

hot-sunI am absolutely in heaven during weeks like this one when every day is over 75 and we can see the stars at night. Each winter is hard for me because of the short dark days we have. I work to ward off depression between October and June. And then the sun comes out and the days grow long and… three months of happiness!

I’ve been especially happy this week because I got a little extra time with Bill and a little extra time outside running.

Sunday I took the day off and walked instead of ran.

Monday I warmed up by walking/jogging from my house to the Squalicum High School track (where I did my speed work—one minute hard and one minute recovery—for 26 minutes) before jogging/walking home for a total of 4 miles. The high school football team was there working out on the field in the center of the track. It was nice to have the company, but I swear those sweet boys have no awareness of anything other than what’s going on in their heads at any given moment. Several times I had to clap my hands and say, “Runner coming,” to get them to notice I was about to run them over.  I think I’ve got their schedule figured out now and will try not to overlap with them in the future. It is their track after all.

Tuesday I did 3 slow miles with Julie. I’ve missed running with her since she had her surgery last summer, and I’m glad she’s getting back in the swing of things.

Wednesday was easy, too. Fuji and I ran my favorite 4-mile loop with a stop at the pond in Whatcom Falls Park so she could soak her paws and get a drink.

Thursday Bill and I ran the Sedro Woolley July 4th Foot Race. It’s a 5.17 mile run partially along their parade route. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I did my student teaching at Sedro Woolley High School more than 20 years ago. It was fun to be back on my old stomping grounds. But the coolest thing about the race was that I averaged 9:24 per mile, finishing in 48:3!!! That’s a PR for sure. YAY!!! I’M GETTING STRONGER!!!!

Friday Fu and I took a 2-mile walk.

Today, Saturday, I took my last training run before next week’s See Jane Run Half Marathon in Seattle. Most of the 9 miles I ran at my target pace, which is 10:00/mile. I think I’m starting to feel normal at that pace, though I still love to glide at 11:30 on my easy days.

Wish me luck friends. This will be my THIRD try at beating 2:15 in the half marathon distance. If I make it, let’s throw a blog party! If I don’t, we’re back to the track (well, we’re back to the track either way).

By the way, is anyone else going to the See Jane Run race? I’d love to say hey if you are. Cheers.


Oh, one more thing:

My pal and coach, Carol Frazey, is launching her 6-month marathon or half-marathon challenge program. It’s a good program for a good price for anyone who wants extra support in their running. If you have friends who’ve said, “Running a marathon is on my bucket list,” this will be a great program for them. Check out the details here.