The Human Race 5K

Laura’s 2nd race, Felicia is 19 weeks pregnant, Reatha PR’d and I look like a mango.

The Bellingham Herald took this photo of Grandpa “Coco the horse” and Che. They didn’t place for costumes even tho they had the best, by far.

Dad finished in 33 mins – he did so well!


Team Awesome – woot!

I placed 3rd, Hanna placed 2nd and Johanna did really well in the 10K (not sure if she placed or not).

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


New Year, New Goal

Last year at the Human Race 5K, I placed 4th overall for women. I think I came in just under 25 mins. This year, I decided to try and place 3rd and PR. I have not focused on speed at all this year, but on hills and trails. But in that, I was hoping that I have improved my speed regardless. Not to mention that I am 10lbs smaller (woot!). My surgery in March really slowed me down… I have no idea why. I only took 2 weeks off and was back to training, but I was so fatigued during runs until the week after the Human Race.

I have been battling with myself about improving. I believe I am slow by nature and I think in a way it’s sabotaging some improvement. I mean, in the 5 years that I have been running, I have taken my 5K time from 29 mins to 24:++, so I have improved. But I am in that spot where my friends are either WAY faster than me or a bit slower, but no one is right there with me. So, I kind of feel like I am in nowhere land. I feel like I’ll never catch up with my fast friends, so why try. That’s what gets me.

Anyway, I went into the Human Race feeling pretty confidant. And then I got there… oh my word, the crowd was 3x the size as last year’s crowd. No wonder I placed 4th. I decided that my goal was silly. Then about 10 mins before the race started I thought, “Why the heck not try to place 3rd still?!?” And this was one weird race where only the top 3 finishers had their times posted. I decided that every step of the race needed to hurt – that I would test how hard I could run without backing off and slowing down when it hurt. Cause that’s what racing is supposed to feel like – like you are pushing yourself to the limit that you have trained for. It shouldn’t feel like a training run.

So at this race, the 5K’ers and the 10K’ers run together til about 2.5 miles in and then the 10K’ers split off to the longer course. So, I have no idea who my competition is. My goal, since I knew my MIL was running the 5K, that I would keep her in my sight at all times. She usually runs a 22 min 5K, sometimes faster. She is recovering from pneumonia, so I knew it’d be easier to keep up with her. When I turned off toward the 5K finish, I had no idea how many women were in front of me, except for Hanna. I turned a corner and a flagger said, “Good job! You are the 3rd woman through!” WHAT!?!?!?! I turned around to see how close anyone was to me and there was no one. Not a soul. I knew I had it pegged. I entertained the idea of slowing down, but then remembered that I wanted to PR. I came in at 24:25 – 16 seconds faster than my last PR.

The award ceremony was completely disappointing. They spent more time on the costume awards and fundraising awards (whom also received better prizes) than on the runners. The costume/fundraiser winners were actually called up front and awarded… the runners’ names were called and nothing else. How disappointing for someone who never places…. I was excited for a photo with my ribbon or something. Really anticlimactic. Oh well.

My dad shaved 6 mins off his last 5K time… Son shaved 6 mins off his last 5K time… Reatha shaved a minute or two off… basically my entire group of friends PR’ed. It was a great day.

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


Trails, Mountains and Views

Last year I had a fabulous year PR’ing pretty consistently. I believe I PR’ed multiple times in 5K’s, twice in half marathons and even PR’ed in a 10K while pushing Che in the jogger with huge headwinds. It was a great year. Probably my best so far. Not to mention, I ran my first 30K, first full marathon and ran 5 half marathons (my goal was to run 4). I think I raced half the weekends of the entire year. Fabulous.

2012 has surprised me. I started trail running. It caught me by surprise, as I never really intended to. Actually, I never really realized there was such a thing as actual trail races. My whole world as opened up…. my whole collection of running friends has doubled.

Back in the fall of 2011, my sister called and said that a friend from Firwood contacted her and said that she sees me at most races and was wondering if I would be interested in running with her. I typically shy away from meeting new people, but for some reason I told Aimee that I would friend her on Facebook. It took Erinn and me months to actually meet. We planned quite a few runs and races together, but sickness or night shift would always cancel the plans. Quite frankly, I think both of us were nervous about actually meeting and we let things get in the way. Finally, we met in person (after emailing long messages back and forth for months) at the Jingle Bell 5K in early December. My life would never be the same.

Who was this girl who knew all of my friends and yet we never met? Who was this girl who had enormous lists of things in common with me? Who was this girl who has the deepest depth of love and caring for her friends and family? I am not sure I have met many people who serve like Erinn serves. I kind of mourn the fact that I only just met her.

We decided to tackle training for the Orcas 25K. Elevation gain for the race is 3,400ft. Rain, wind and snow all expected in the late January run. We crammed in 12 – 15 mile trail runs up Chuckanut, Fragrance Lake and Cleator on Saturday mornings. I got to reconnect with old high school friends, Nichole Morelli Braun and Rayna Swope. Our training included heavy snow, beautiful views of the San Juans and Mt Baker and learning how to pee on the trail. As much as we enjoyed the training and blossoming friendships, we couldn’t help but be intimidated by Orcas and feel like we were in way over our heads.

Orcas was amazing. Difficult, freezing cold, slippery and draining. And victorious. Erinn and Nichole, I believe finished 30 full minutes before I did. My goal was to finish under 4 hours and I finished in 3:50. As difficult as it was, I am hooked.

Bellingham Trail Running Series has just begun it’s first year of races. Erinn and I have completed the Fragrance Lake 25K (my time was 2:44) and the Stewart Mtn 15K (my time was 1:44). Having just had emergency surgery on Thursday, I think I’ll be out of commission for 6 weeks, but dreaming of the next trail run with my dear friends.

There is something ethereal and magical about running through the fog, up and over goat trails, by shimmering lakes and down mossy rocks. Something heavenly sharing this beauty with dear friends while sharing joys, victories, heartaches and losses. Such therapy I have never known. I am grateful to the Lord for combining His Creation with companionship and physical exertion. Only He could put the perfect combination in my life to make it that much more beautiful.

I only wish the masses could understand that running is much more than running.

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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


Finally, it happened to me… Right in front of my face and I just cannot hide it!

Good song, by CeCe Peniston… although, I don’t think she was talking about racing. Whatever. It’s the song that comes to mind when I think about my race yesterday. Tesoro March Point 5K in Anacortes. It was muggy and warm and both my MIL, Hanuschka and I were not feelin’ it. On Friday, I had all the confidence in the world and decided that I was going to smash my PR and finish at 24 minutes on the dot. I didn’t really expect to be sweating long before the race started… and I am not talking about sweating from warming up… it was just humid. Wah wah wah. I can gladly say that’s not normal for WA state. Thank the Lord! Well, I had confidence until I saw the hill before the finish line. It wasn’t horrendously steep, it was actually just a loooooong, slow climb. I am guessing maybe 2/10’s of a mile. I changed my goal to finishing in 26-27 minutes.

Here’s the deal – 5K’s have always been fun runs for me. Easy, take-my-time, enjoyable race. I was a completer, not competer. I pushed hard enough to beat my last time, but never hard enough that I hurt. At The Human Race, that accidentally changed. I came in 4th place overall (women) and all of a sudden I realized that I had somehow moved into the possible competitor category. Could this be?!? Hear me out – I am NOT really fast. There are plenty of women who finish a 5K in 18-22 minutes. THAT is fast! But you know what? Somehow my time is still close enough that I just might place!

Back up… last Tuesday, there was a local race in Lummi to start the Stommish Festival. It’s called The Great Kwina Mile. I figured for one mile, I could run my guts out. I have never timed my mile before. I was hoping for a 7:45 mile, which seemed lofty since I wasn’t sure if I could even run an 8 min mile. I finished in 7:05. Came in 4th overall for women and probably 1st in my age division. DANGIT!!! Another 4th place race! I was stoked about my time, but disappointed that I missed the podium by one place again. Fast forward to track practice on Wednesday – I ran 2 miles in 14:05 (intervals though). So, I was confidant that I was consistently running the same pace.

I don’t need to drag this out (plus, I need to leave for church in 15 mins!). The Tesoro 5K kicked my butt. I felt like my legs were cement blocks and I couldn’t get a deep breath the entire race. I finished in 25:36. I wasn’t disappointed in the time considering the hill. My MIL, finished 2 full minutes before me and my FIL, came in with Che in the jogger shortly after me (he has a calf injury, otherwise he would have beat me by a long haul). I think I would have walked up the hill, but Armando (FIL) was coaching me the entire time. Bless him. I love that man.

I. DID. IT. I placed 3rd in my age division. I GOT A TROPHY!!!!!! They read my name out loud!!!! I AM A COMPETER!!!!! (I know it’s really competitor, but it doesn’t rhyme with completer). I might never get a 22 or 23 minute 5K under my belt, but I am stoked to finished before a couple hundred people. I think that’s pretty fun!

Hanuschka finished 1st place in her division and Armando (and Che) finished 4th in his age division. I have an amazing family of runners. Did I mention that my hubby is back at track practice with me? Maybe there will be a 4th Brionez running races with us soon.

Finally it happened to me!

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Posted by on June 12, 2011 in Uncategorized


Oh Dear…

So this last Thursday, May 12th, I get an inbox from my MIL asking if I wanted to join her and my FIL at The Human Race 5K. Apparently the cost is $15 per person OR $35 per family… for another $5, I could run. I have been dying to run something other than a half marathon, cause I feel like with all my training I should be a bit faster.

2008 Haggen to Haggen 5K: 28:05…. 2009 Haggen to Haggen 5K: 29:04 (Che was born 2.5 months earlier)… 2010 Haggen to Haggen 5K: 26:05. This year it rained so badly that I didn’t want to push Che in the jogger (and I ran the full marathon the week before, so my motivation wasn’t exactly at an all time high), but I was disappointed as I wanted to see if I have improved. I know that I have improved with endurance and distance, but have I improved with speed?

When Hanuschka, MIL, asked me to run at The Human Race, I was eager to do it and unwilling to ask my hubby to keep Che. I wanted to PR, but I run so much that I feel like he needs a break sometimes. If I don’t offer a break, HE will get burned out from my running habit before I do. So, I resigned myself to run with Che in the jogger, but shoot for finishing under 28 minutes. I figure that’s a good goal to keep me pushing myself, but knowing I wouldn’t PR while pushing 40-50lbs.  It actually worked out really well for me mentally. Most races, my stomach churns, my nerves go crazy and I have to sprint for the bathroom at least 4 times to avoid an accident. This time, there was no pressure… I was running with Che. Until… Armando showed up and said he felt cruddy from pushing hard the day before. He didn’t feel race ready. He said he would push Che so that I could run hard. Shoot. The pressure was on.

Hanna and I warmed up (something I unfortunately never do). I KNOW that warming up is soooo good to do, but I always wonder if I am spending my energy before the race even starts. We head to the starting line and it’s a small enough race that I can start at the front and not bother anyone. There may have been a couple hundred people there. I turn on my tunes, starting with Chris Brown’s “Forever” and the race begins.

Typically my mantra tells me to just keep going, slow down if I need to… I have never really run a race where I want to push myself to the point of pain and not slow down. Today was the day. I decided to see if I could actually push myself to run at a faster pace even when my lungs hurt and the finish line seemed still so far away. There were no mile markers, so I was guessing at my pace. Armando passed me with Che around 12 minutes after the start. I was disappointed… he said he was walking. BUT I was determined to not let him out of my sight. It worked in my favor. He kept getting smaller and smaller, but the only time I lost sight was when he rounded a corner and I would be able to see him again when I rounded. My lungs hurt for sure and I couldn’t get a deep breath. I looked at my watch and it read 22 minutes… the finish was around the loop. When I got to the straightaway, I was SO excited to see that the clock was still in the 24 minute range. AHHHHHH!!!!!!! When I crossed the finish line, my watch read 25:07 and Hanna said I officially came in at 24:59. I could not believe it. To make matters even more exciting, as a young man approached me, Hanna told me that I placed 4th overall for women. I didn’t believe it… the info had to be wrong. The young man asked me for my name and confirmed that I did actually come in 4th – not for my age group – for ALL women. WHAT!?!?!? After I got over myself, Hanna told me that she placed 1st and Armando placed 1st for his age group. My hubby’s cousin, placed 1st for men (overall). BRIONEZ REPRESENT!!!

Anyway, I called my mom, bawling my eyes out. She and my dad came right down to the finish to hug me before heading out of town. You know what? Had the race been bigger, I wouldn’t have placed. I didn’t even run an exceptionally fast race. I have friends who could seriously whip that time. And guess what? I DON’T CARE!!! I DID place…. I DID come in faster than the majority of the people running and walking. Even if it never happens again and I stay a mediocre runner, you can’t take this away from me.

I hope that no one ever has the nerve to tell me, “I can’t run… I am not a runner.” That’s what I said. And it’s simply not true. People think that in order to be a ‘runner’, they have to be fast. Nope. Just run. I started out overweight and hardly able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. I didn’t let that stop me. If you don’t like running, than don’t do it. But don’t say you can’t.  Because you CAN. I have proved it.


Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


How to Achieve Just About Anything: Set Super Low Goals

I just don’t understand the people who say, “Set your mind to it; you can do ANYTHING!”… In my mind, it’s “Set a believable, realistic goal and I might just reach it. If I don’t, I won’t be disappointed.” As I explained in my last post, as a recovering perfectionist, I’ll just quit if I fail. I have learned to set low goals and when I supersede, I am over the moon and want to set another low, but higher goal. I have PR’ed at almost every race this way. My super supportive husband keeps telling me that I haven’t reached my potential yet, so I hope to continue to PR for awhile and I know a time will come when I will just even out for awhile and eventually get slower. That’s okay with me. Cause my goals are so low. Heck, I never thought I would run a 10K, let alone a Full Marathon… what’s that I said?? YEP! You heard me… I DID IT!!!!! I RAN A FULL MARATHON!!!!!

My last post was my thought process in deciding whether or not to run one. My aunt and friend Rhonda quickly convinced me after I posted that blog. I didn’t actually pay for the race til 2 weeks before it happened, just in case I wanted to back out. My goal? Just to finish. That’s it. I didn’t care if it took me 6 hours, I just didn’t want the pressure of setting a time goal with only 4 weeks to train.

A typical training schedule is 16 weeks, but my mileage was already up where it needed to be and I was consistently running 30-40 miles a week, so it was appropriate for me to make this decision 4 weeks prior to the race. I chose the Tacoma City Marathon since my Aunt Lizzie was running the Half Marathon.  She told me closer to the race that she would meet me at mile 23 and pace me to the end.  Her upcoming Couer d’Alene Full Marathon is coming up at the end of May and that particular weekend, she had a 20 miler, so she needed to add 7 miles onto the Half. Even though I knew she had more miles to run, I was flabbergasted that she would be willing to meet me and run the final 3 miles with me. She is so incredibly other-centered. My normal self would have said, “Oh no, please! You don’t have to do that!”… I get so paranoid about others helping me, but in this instance I knew that a) I would be exhausted and could use something to look forward to, and b) How special! How could I turn down the offer to finish my first full marathon with my aunt!?!

Fast forward. I thoroughly enjoyed girl time with my aunt the night before… chatting and eating Uncle Randy’s delicious lasagna and Aunt Lizzie’s OH SO INCREDIBLE Cilantro Vinagrette. Had I been by myself, I would have run the race in my head a hundred times and wouldn’t have been able to sleep.  I had no idea how helpful it would be to stay with her – it really calmed me. Even the morning of the race, I was calm and my stomach wasn’t the usual wreck.

I asked Aunt Lizzie for any last minute advice as I waited for the final 2-3 minutes before the race started. She told me to start very slow for the first 4-5 miles and to trust that there will be a second wind at the end of the race.  I did exactly what she said… even with adrenaline and the pace of the entire crowd, I checked my watch fervently and didn’t let myself run faster than a 10:15 mile. Everyone was passing me. I was at the very back of the crowd. I saw the 4:30 pacer disappear into the distance to my disappointment. But trusting my aunt’s advice as she is preparing for her 6th marathon, I stuck with a slow pace for 4 miles. At that point, I started to feel my rhythm and naturally sped up a bit. I smiled as some spectator yelled, “GO ANGIE!!! You are doing great!” Oh yes, my shameless tech shirt with my name plastered on the front was working. Complete strangers were cheering for me!

There were awesome hydration stations every 2 miles and I was taking gels every 4 miles… I couldn’t believe how fast those 4 mile increments were going! I felt like I just ate a gel when it was time to take another one.  Tacoma was gorgeous as well. I took pics with my cell phone every couple of miles, enjoying the beautiful bay with huge ships or historic brick buildings with ornate clocks in their towers. At mile 15, I noticed that people weren’t passing me as often. People were starting to walk up hills as I slowly chugged past them. At mile 17, I started to feel tired. Oh no. I still had 9 miles to go…. it’s okay, trust in the second wind. At mile 18, I could see the 4:30 pacer in my sites! NO WAY!!! There was hope for me yet! The group with the pacer was walking hills and because of that, I finally caught up and passed them. I was euphoric. And tired. For 3 miles, I slowed my pace just a bit, but I was still passing people.  By mile 20, I caught my second wind (YES!! It exists!).  I was thrilled that at mile 20, I was passing all those people who whizzed by me in the first 4-5 miles. Lizzie’s advice worked. Although I started slow, I was finishing strong. They started too fast and were pooped out. I was really starting to look forward to mile 23 at this point. The finish was so near, but I was really looking forward to running with Aunt Lizzie.

And then… as I looked into the distance at mile 23; I didn’t see my aunt… I saw (GASP!) my husband, my son, my father-in-law Armando and my mother-in-law Hanuschka. I fell apart. I had no idea they were coming. Hanuschka was quickly snapping photos and Son was waving wildly. Che had the biggest smile on his face… and I was a crying mess. Not recommended while running. I quickly hugged and cried and said, “3:54 with 3 miles to go!” They will never fully understand what that meant to me – my heart was so full.

At mile 23.5, I finally saw Aunt Lizzie waiting for me. Again, heart full. Those last couple of miles flew by… for the last mile as I was so tired, so she stayed a couple feet in front of me, daring me to catch up. She helped me to finish strong (my fastest miles of the whole race) and as I crossed the finish line at 4:25:49, I could not believe that my low goal of finishing under 5 hours had proved so low… I could have never imagined it possible to finish under 4:45. Even when I set goals like ‘just finishing’, I always have secret goals, like finishing under 5 hours. Another thing I will never understand about myself.. it’s like I have split personalities sometimes. My ever supportive parents were at the finish line, with Lizzie, my hubby and son and my in-laws. Ahhhhhhh, the love. It’s hard to believe that these people love me this much.

Lizzie later told me that she was exhausted during her additional miles after her half was complete. She ran slow miles to meet me, knowing that she would have to push through her exhaustion to help me finish strong. So incredibly humbling for me. I can’t help but cry, as I type.  I will never forget her selflessness and kindred spirit. Most people have a special place in their hearts for their first marathon, but my memories will be so much more than the fact that I completed a grueling 26.2 mile race… it will represent the people who support me, who go out of their way to show me love and to cheer me on. I can only hope that I return the favor.

The most asked question: Will you run another marathon? Yes. I am sure I will. Auntie made me pretty excited about the New York Marathon and I think I’ll start saving my pennies.

Thanks to my parents for traveling any distance to watch my races and take pics at the finish line. Thanks to my husband for talking me through my disbelief and for listening to me talk far too much about running. Thanks to my in-laws  for coaching me through my training (it’s awesome to have experienced runners/coaches in the family!) and for not only going to my races, but stopping at several mile markers to cheer me on and take pics. Thanks to  my son for loving the gym nursery (Thank the Lord!).  Thanks to my Aunt Lizzie for amazing support, belief and for running with me during those final, emotional miles. Besos.

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Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Move it!


Should I, or Shouldn’t I? That is the Question.

Should I run a full marathon? That is the question.

I started running in 2006, I believe. Elissa Watts, an old Firwood buddy, asked Lisi and me to run the Vancouver Sun Run (April or May of 2007, I think). It’s a 10K. I laughed. I scoffed. I thought it was the stupidest idea ever.

A little history. I have been a perfectionist all my life.  Really, even in kindergarten, my teacher told my mom that she knew just how to deal with me…. I was just like her daughter, a perfectionist. So, I got to leave the ‘normal’ kindergarten class to a special reading and writing class and an art class. I think Mrs. G knew I was bored with toys, naptime and silly art projects. Not that I was brilliant, I wasn’t. I just wasn’t like all the other kids. I liked doing more challenging things, as any small child would. You ask a room full of kindergartener’s if they can sing, or dance or do anything and the entire class will raise their hands…. cause they literally do know how to sing and dance. Fast forward to highschool and you ask a room full or highschooler’s the same question. Maybe one or two students will say they can sing or dance. And those two kids are in the drama class and choir. The older and more insecure kids get, the more they think that they can’t do something unless they have actual talent. But let’s face it, highschoolers CAN sing and dance. Everyone can. My point? In kindergarten, I could do anything…. in highschool, I dropped out of any sport or activity if I wasn’t the best at it or a natural. I didn’t want to work hard at being good at volleyball, I wanted to be a natural talent. It wasn’t that I couldn’t work hard, I had great work ethic…. I just beat myself up over and over about any fly ball I missed at a softball game, or a grounder that got past me. It embarrassed me. It would ruin my attitude for the rest of the game. I just couldn’t give myself the freedom to make a mistake. I think I finished one season of softball in highschool without quitting. Maybe two. I quit track and volleyball. I still can’t believe I had the nerve to try out for Concert Choir and Girl’s Group Choir.

After I married Son in 2005, we decided to try snowboarding. I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be disappointed. The first time I went up, I decided that I couldn’t complain. Not once. I just had to push through and make sure Son had a great day at the mountain. I did sooooo good, until I did my first face plant. It hurt SO bad. In fact, it hurt for 3 months afterwards. Now that I knew the pain falling could cause, I lost all nerve. I would get off the chairlift and just stand at the top of the hill, crying. Trying to get up the nerve to ride. 10 minutes would go by…. 15 minutes would go by… finally I would get the nerve, but would purposely fall on my rear end 10 feet down. And so it continued. We kept going…. I heard that after 3 times on the mountain, snowboarding would start to make sense. Balance would improve. Snow would start to feel more natural under the board. It did. I was thrilled. Fast forward – Elissa asking us to run the Sun Run. I thought, “I DON’T RUN!!!” But snowboarding was starting to give this perfectionist the freedom to fall down… and get up. And not be embarrassed about it.

Lisi and I started training for the race. I could barely run a mile without stopping to walk. I thought I would die. I seriously couldn’t imagine running 10 kilometers. By the time the race came around, I don’t think we had even tackled 4 miles yet.  Lisi was already a seasoned runner. She was so nice to run at my pace with me. I remember mile 3, going over a bridge in Vancouver, I started crying… I was still running. I was so incredibly proud of myself. I finished the entire race without stopping or walking. One hour and eight minutes. I was hooked.

So, yesterday I completed my first 30K. That’s 18.6 miles. Just like my first Sun Run, I had never run that mileage before. 15 miles was my farthest distance before yesterday. It was a terrible day. I mean, I finished it… My time wasn’t bad. But my body was having a bad day.  Whatever. Now I know, I can do it!  I never thought I could run farther than a mile a few years ago. BUT, the thought of running EIGHT MORE MILES to complete a full marathon SOUNDS TERRIBLE. But it’s only 8 miles. In the scheme of things, that’s nothing.

As a recovering perfectionist, I know I can do a full marathon and not be disappointed in a slower time than I am hoping for. But will I enjoy it? I certainly did not enjoy yesterday’s run. Am I a happy half marathoner? Probably. I love that distance.

I have time to think about it. My friend Shelly, my sister Lisi and my Aunt Lizzie very much inspire me. They have no boundaries, no hesitations, no disappoinments. They are running machines and proof that trying will get you to where you want to go. This recovering perfectionist just needs to keep trying.

Only 8 more miles.


Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Move it!, Uncategorized