Join Us for Our Half Marathon!

Jun 5
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in Around Town, Current Events, Preparations


Summer in the Northwest is the best. Today I’m sitting on a friend’s porch (in my shorts and t-shirt!!) enjoying bird songs and blooming flowers.

I’m here with pen and paper making some of my final to-do lists for the fourth annual Wind Horse Half Marathon, which is coming up here in a few weeks (July 19 to be exact). I do love co-directing this event every year, and this year there’s more to love than in years past. Why? Because we have a new partnership with the Bellingham Sister Cities Association!

As you may know (because I blab about it all the time), the Sister City program, developed by President Eisenhower after World War II to promote citizen diplomacy (otherwise known as “world peace”), is and has been an important part of my life since Bill and I visited one of Bellingham’s seven sister cities in Australia many years ago (Port Stephens).  Subsequently, we also made our way to two of Bham’s other sister cities: Tateyama, Japan and Punta Arenas, Chile. Our town’s newest sister city is Tsetserleg, Mongolia, and while I’ve not yet visited, I have been involved in raising funds to provide school uniforms and supplies to the children of Tsetserleg for the past few years. The proceeds of the Wind Horse Half Marathon have gone to The Blue Sky Education Project, which distributes the funds as needed.

Well, this year, the Wind Horse Half Marathon and the Bellingham Sister Cities Association are teaming up to put on the race. This way, we can benefit two organizations we believe in with one super fun event.

If you haven’t participated in the Wind Horse Half Marathon before, consider joining us this year. The course runs parallel to Chuckanut drive. On a clear day (which we promise to have on July 19), you can see the San Juan Islands while you enjoy the cool shade of the trail and smell of pine and ferns. We are a low-key, low-cost race, but we do serve a barbecue after the run in the tradition of the Mongolians. AND, you’ll get a medal with our awesome graphic on it. We’re walker friendly (we’re just generally friendly, too) and have very cool first prizes–also in the Mongolian tradition–for the female and male finishers (but you have to be 21 years old to take it home, or we would be arrested). Sign up now, if you haven’t already. See you there.

To sign up for the race, CLICK HERE.


If you’d like to volunteer (and we do need peeps to support our runners), send an email to


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?

The Wind Horse Half Marathon Race Report

Jul 22
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in Around Town, Current Events, Race Reports

Well friends, last week was the first week in 2013 that I failed to blog and catch you up on training news. The reason you didn’t hear from me is that I spent Friday (my usual blogging day) rushing around town (Costco, Haggens, equipment pick-up at the city) in preparation for our annual Wind Horse Half Marathon. The race was on Saturday, and by Sunday I was too wiped out to put two words together.

If you’ve never run the distance in Bellingham between Fairhaven Park and Clayton Beach, you don’t know what you’re missing.  The course travels along the Interurban Trail right above the shoreline of the bay. You can’t beat the views of the San Juan Islands or the aroma of “woods”—green ferns and moss—that follow you the whole distance. We Bellinghamsters sometimes take for granted the number of gorgeous trails we have to run on. But because the Wind Horse run had a lot of out-of-towners running the route this year, we heard “What a beautiful course!” so often that I had to pause and give thanks on Saturday and promise myself to really appreciate the view the next time I run the trail.

As you may know, we created the race to raise funds for The Blue Sky Education Project, a local non-profit that raises funds to send children to school in Bellingham’s Mongolian sister city (Tsetserleg). Only $50 buys a child everything she needs (school supplies and clothing) to go to school for a year. This year we’ll be sending at least 50 children off to school. One of the things I love about our little race is that it has a very Mongolian flavor. We give out “khadags” to winners and serve barbequed meat at the finish line. It’s true that meat is not usually your typical recovery food (we have bananas, bagels, and oranges, too), but in Mongolia, meat is the primary food source. Many people are still nomadic, traveling with their herds and taking all their sustenance from them—milk and meat (we stop short of serving milk at the aid stations—runners just get water).

Our racers seemed unusually happy this year; we agreed there were more smiles than usual coming across the finish line. The weather was perfect, after all.

Bolor, Andrea, and I (the three race directors) want to extend our heartfelt thanks to EVERYONE who participated in our event on Saturday: Volunteers, runners, and our significant others (Eric, Janna, and Bill—they support us in our craziness every year).

(You can check out in the video below with pics from previous years.)


As you might imagine, my training has been a bit disrupted this week. I was sore after last Sunday’s See Jane Run half marathon, so I took Monday off and only walked on Tuesday. Wednesday I took a slow three-mile run, and Thursday and Friday I did 4-mile pace runs.

Because I’m running another half-marathon on Saturday (the Anacortes Art Dash) to try once again to meet my goal of getting in under 2:15, I won’t be running hard this week either—a little tapering never hurt anyone. I’m excited about the race this coming weekend because I really think the hard race last week was good preparation. My strategy in Anacortes will be different than it was in Seattle. I’ll be wearing my Garmin and will work at starting out slower so that I have something left in the last part of the race. (Is anyone out there going to the race? I’d love to say hey if you are.)

The Art Dash will be my last race for a few weeks. There’ll be a bit of a disruption in my training through the first part of August because I’ll be traveling to Japan to accompany Bill as he celebrates 25 years with the program he directs AND as he celebrates his impending retirement!!!! I’ll be traveling around Japan to work on some research for my next book, so I’ll be doing a ton of walking, but I may not get much running in. The urban planners who envisioned Tokyo didn’t exactly take runners into consideration, so there aren’t terrific places to get long runs in. There are parks with trails, and I’m sure I’ll get some shorties done in the mornings before the humidity hits 200%, but these will serve only to help me keep my fitness level intact. I WILL be blogging (and posting pictures) from Japan, so be sure to check in during the first two weeks of August if you’re a fan of virtual travel.

See you soon.


See Jane Run Race Report

Jul 15
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in Race Reports, Reflections

Yesterday was glorious. See Jane Run starts at Gas Works Park, the same park where I partied in celebration of graduating from Jr. High School with my 13-year-old classmates in 1980 and where I hung out for barbeques with the homeless youth I used to work with from 2002-05. Indeed, yesterday’s race covered a lot of my old stomping ground. The trail travels past SPU, where I studied for my master’s degree, and through Fremont, one of my favorite places (perhaps the center of the universe actually). In short, I was on familiar soil—and happy to be there. The lake shimmered in the Northwest sunshine. By the time we started the race at 8am, the temperature was easily 70 degrees. Perfect!

Waiting to Start in Wave 2

Waiting to Start in Wave 2


This was my third attempt to shave some significant time off of my half-marathon distance. And I have nothing concrete to report yet. Here’s why:

I had agreed to take coach Carol and husband Bill’s advice not to wear my Garmin. They both felt that my GPS was actually shackling me to a slower pace than I could pull off. I think their concern was that if I saw my pace was on target, then I wouldn’t push. It’s a reasonable concern since I’m not known for a competitive nature or a strong need to wear myself out. But I AM known for setting and reaching goals that are meaningful to me, so I decided to give the no-GPS strategy a try as I shot for my new half-marathon goal (2:15 or better). But the See Jane Run race started in three waves, so when I got to the finish line, the time clock read 2:27—which I think represents the start of the first wave. And because I wasn’t wearing a watch, I have no idea how much time there was between the start of the first wave and the second, where I started. The results aren’t up yet. Sigh.

Even without the results, however, I can tell you that I didn’t reach my goal yet. (Sigh again.) The experience of doing a big race (about 800 half marathoners, I think I heard) without a watch or GPS was unusual for me. When the horn blew to start our corral, I tried to feel into my pace, but the crowd pulled me along pretty quickly. And, as you know if you’ve done big races, you get all mushed up at the beginning with other runners and have to push past people with little surges of sprinting just to find the elbow room to run. Thus, the first mile for me was fast. From the second to fourth miles, I have a feeling I was running 9-minute miles—a full minute faster than I wanted to be going—because of the crowd. At mile four I had to take a moment, slow to a walk for about thirty seconds and give myself a pep talk.

“Find your pace,” I said to me. Without my Garmin (or the beat from my music, which I’d also intentionally left behind) I couldn’t settle into a ten-minute pace (I think, I mean, how would I know?). Remember, this pace is new for me, so it’s not as familiar as my old 11:45 standard. I’m just not as easy with what the new pace feels like. The one thing I do know about it is how I breathe when I’m in the right rhythm. So I picked up a run again and tried to focus on the turnover of my feet and the pattern of  breathing I’ve developed in my training.

This helped.

I kept that up for the next several miles (with the exception of the one big hill between miles 7 and 8). But something really weird happened to me between miles 4 and 10 that I’ve never experienced before. As people passed me (and many, many runners did), I got increasingly anxious. I felt like if I’d put myself in the right corral then those running near me should be running my pace. And since they were passing me, that must mean I was going too slowly. So maybe that meant I should speed up, but whenever I did, I felt I was going too fast and couldn’t sustain it. I’ve NEVER been bothered before when people pass me. The passing runners were stressing me out; I was very disturbed by them.

If you’re competitive, you’ll be like, “Duh, Cami…. That’s how it works! People pass you and you’re supposed to try not to let them.”

Well, excuse me, but I’ve never done it that way. And I didn’t particularly like it yesterday. I really had to focus on my mantra: “Find and keep your own pace.”

By mile 10 I was whipped. I wanted to walk, but instead I told myself to drop to a 12 minute pace. I can do that all day and into the next—and it’s at least a little faster than a 15-minute per mile walk. I jogged most of the last 3 miles, picking up my cadence when I could. I finished right behind my friend Rosie Sporty Diva Coates (see pic below), who had started in the third wave. Her watch told her she’d finished in 2:20. If she started two minutes behind me and I finished one minute behind her, my time might be 2:23. It’s not a bad time for me.

Rose and Cami

Ce la vie! There’s always another chance around the corner to try again. I’m not disappointed. How can I be? I had a great day in one of my favorite places, and I had the chance to see friends. My number one fan was with me at the start and at the end (thanks, Bill), and I got some great exercise. What’s to be upset about?

Next try: Anacortes Art Dash on Saturday, July 27. I’ll be wearing my Garmin.


P.S., I had some interesting thoughts extrapolating my anxiety response to life in general. Check my Psychology Today Blog later today for a post on that topic.

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.