It’s Ragnar Los Coyotes Week!!

This post is a part of my collaboration with Ragnar Trail & FitApproach for Ragnar Los Coyotes.  All thoughts & opinions are my own.

This year, I was asked to captain the Sweat Pink Team for Ragnar Los Coyotes & I’m so excited to get to run another Ragnar Trail event & Sean will be running with me.

Our team is amazing, we’ve got a good mix of women & men, with the following runners on board. Of course there is Sean @ultrarunnersd & I @runnylegs then Jamie @jamiefitking, Kristina @ocrunningmama, Jared @jaredsblank, Debbie @coachdebbieruns, Sandra @organicrunnermom & finally Michael @thebrosh.

We’re all so excited to get out there & run!

Want to read more about our team?

Check out our runner profiles:
Jenny
Sean
Jamie
Kristina
Jared
Sandra
Debbie
Michael

A little background on my Ragnar experience, I ran my first Ragnar Trail event back in 2013 at McDowell Mountains in Arizona with my then running group.  I’d seen people run the road races. I wasn’t really interested in sleeping in a van and running in the dark on the road, but when I found out that there were trail races, it was like mind blown, this was my kind of event!

After that first race in 2013, we went on to run the inaugural Zion race in 2014 & then McDowell Mountains again that fall.  We had a great group that was a mix of slow & fast runners and we had such a blast out there!  Then I moved to San Diego and was interested in running another one, but they are a little shorter in distance from what Sean likes to do and we already race a lot so we kind of put them aside.  This opportunity kind of fell into our laps and I am super excited to get back out there and run green, yellow & red loops!

It was so long ago, I couldn’t really find many photos from my previous races, it was before my instagram days really kicked off 😉 lol.  This is a snapshot of the inaugural Ragnar Trail Zion in 2014.

So what makes Ragnar Trail so unique?

First off, it’s a loop course.  Regular teams are made up of 8 team members and everyone runs the same 3 loops.  Which is awesome, unlike the road Ragnars everyone does the same thing!

Secondly, the whole team gets to stick together at camp. We set up camp with all the other teams and everyone can hang out together.  No vans & no split teams like on a road Ragnar.

Third, It’s Trail!!  Trail races are the best & doing these different loops gives everyone a chance to try the different parts of the course.

Forth, the camp energy! It’s great, there is an exchange tent where you meet your runner to head out & seeing all the runners there, waiting for their team mates, it’s just a really awesome, positive energy.

So how have I been training for Ragnar? Well if you follow me, you’ll know that I am an unconventional runner, I run a lot of races & that’s pretty much how I train. In the five weeks, I have run a 50k, marathon, Runner’s World Grand Slam (4 races adding up to 26.2 miles), a 100k & a 5k this weekend. The Runner’s World event was probably the best training. Running so many races back to back was a challenge, but it has me ready to run multiple loops over a short period of time.

I’ve also been staying up quite late lately with red-eye flights, early morning wake-ups to volunteer & 2 trips to the east coast.

Now to get packed & get out there!

Need packing tips, check out these blog posts & get packing! 1, 2, 3 & 4

Anyone else have an unconventional way of training for Ragnar races?

I’ll be sharing our day out at the race on my Instagram stories on Friday/Saturday so get ready!

2018 Tahoe 200 Crew Recap

I love Tahoe 200 – it is one of my favorite races of the year & I don’t even run it LOL.  This was Sean’s 5th time running and the first time that they have done the race in reverse.

I recapped my first time crewing Sean at Tahoe 200 in 2015, which you can find here if you want to see how things have changed ;).  That recap & this one are quite long (it is a 206mile race so there is a lot to say, lol) so I won’t be offended if you just scroll through the photos ;).

This year, we had a whole new #TeamSexyCalves because our old crew was busy crushing their own races.  Greg (@gregknottlemond) was going for his Western States qualifier up in Canada.  Maili (@mais_runs_trails) was going for her first official 50 mile finish,  Eric (@aspireforlife) was also running and Joyce (@flyjoyce) was crewing & pacing Catra.

We had talked to our friend Josh (@jwanders11) at SD 100 and he was willing to come up and help crew & pace with us.  And then after TRT, Sean & I thought we should ask Kristina (@ocrunningmama) to come with us too & she jumped on the chance to come back to Tahoe!

About 2-3 weeks before the race, we found out that Spooner Lake was no longer going to be crew accessible and so I was pretty worried that we needed to have another pacer who could go the first paceable 36 miles with Sean.  Enter our friend and amazing runner, Jake (@ultra_trucker).  Interestingly, I found out after he ran that Jake had never been to Tahoe before.

Sean, Kristina & I headed up to Tahoe on Wednesday evening. We got to the B&B around 11:30p or so.  Had a little craziness where the door to our cabin was locked when it was supposed to be open and had to call the owner to figure out how to get in.  We got it sorted & were able to head to bed.

As per usual, I had to work on Thursday and so I did that while Sean slept in.  We hit up some groceries for supplies to get his drop bags ready for the afternoon.  I worked while Sean & Kristina worked on them.  They finished up & we headed over for the mandatory pre-race meeting at Homewood Resort.

It was a huge group of runners, I think they had 230 people start the race.  There were not that many people who had done the race before and Sean was the only person to have done it every year.  Candice made an announcement that there would be a special award for him when he finished the race and she was super excited about it.

I stopped to say Hi to Catra, who was selling & signing her book onsite.

Then Kristina wanted to say Hi to Courtney Dauwalter who would end up leading the race for pretty much the whole time before being passed by Kyle Curtain, who none of us had heard of before, but I’ve since heard he’s won Run Rabbit Run previously.  Courtney is seriously one of the sweetest people, she remembered me from Coldwater Rumble when Sean introduced us.

We dropped the drop bags & then headed to dinner at the pizza place down the street from our B&B.  Since the race didn’t start until 9am, we had some time after dinner for Sean to finish getting his gear together before heading to bed.

And then before we knew it, it was go time. We all got ready & headed to the start.  Sean got his bib, he picked to be 1 & his tracker, we got that sorted, found Josh, chatted with some friends, got some photos and then it was time.

As per usual Sean took off up the hill which is his traditional way to start the race.  Since the race was going to be crew accessible on Friday, I took the day off from work.  I normally work all day Friday before meeting the first pacer at Sierra at Tahoe & then crew from there on.

When we were leaving, I ran into Jay, Joyce’s brother and Catra’s head crew & TruMan.  He was a little nervous since his momma was gone, but he let me hold him & eventually drooled all over my arm so I think he relaxed a bit ;).

We got packed up & checked out before heading to the first aid station at mile 10.4.  Kristina & I stopped to take a few photos by the lake, it was a beautiful day & looking like it was going to be quite warm.

Courtney came into the aid station first, looking great as usual.  We waited for about 10 runners or so and then Sean came in.

He was just kind of chilling, taking his time.  He got some water from the aid station and then he was off.  We wouldn’t see him again for 20 miles.

While we waited, we headed to breakfast & then climbed Eagle Ridge (a short .4 mile hike with breathtaking views).  Kristina convinced Josh do his first insta story (and he’s now hooked LOL).

We made it to Tahoe City just in time to see Courtney come in and then speed out.  A bunch of other runners got there not to far after her, but I realized about 20 minutes later that no one else had left yet.  Most of these runners had done about a 6 hour 50k which seems waaaay to fast for most people in a 200+ miler.

Sean came in around 7h44m saying it was HOT out.  We got him cooled down & ready for the next section.  It was going to be dark by the time he got to mile 50, Brockway so we made sure he had his headlamp & then sent him on his way.

In the meantime, we checked out Kings Beach, had dinner and then hung out at Brockway.  All the while it was so weird to me going backwards to these aid stations.  It was super fun having other people to hang out with and doing things I would normally never do, like go to the beach, but it felt really weird.

While we waited for Sean, we were standing next to another runner & her crew.  They were totally stressing me out because they had binders and all sorts of papers telling them what to do, but when it came to actually doing anything they just didn’t seem to have a clue.  I really thought that the poor girl was going to end up going out without any hydration at one point.  I literally had to get up and move away because  they were totally stressing me out, lol.

Sean made it to Brockway around 11:30p. we got him food, energy drinks, extra headlamp batteries, etc. etc. and he headed out to Tunnel Creek.

We too headed that way, we managed to get a little sleep before we met up with Jake. Sean came in around 3am & I was asking him how he liked going down PowerLine vs going up & he said it was pretty slippery.  He got some food & then he and Jake were off heading up Tunnel Creek to Spooner Lake.  I’ve run this section with Sean before going in the opposite direction and it’s spectacular, it’s always been a fun section because you get to run down to the cafe, but this year they were climbing up instead.

Once they were on their way, it was time for us to get some more sleep so back to the car we went.  I think I woke up around 6:30a & Tunnel Creek Cafe opened at 7 for breakfast. I got a yummy granola with soy milk.

I wanted to go and cheer on some of the other runners.  I saw Catra @dirtdiva333 who looked super fresh.

I helped Mark Tanaka who was running solo get ready for the next section. He was a little out of it when he arrived so I helped get him some food & get his pack ready.  He said that someone told him that Sean had dropped, which was kinda weird, but who knows.

We ran into Robert Villani when we were heading to the car, he was doing great waiting for his wife to bring him some milk shakes, which is his secret weapon for getting in lots of calories. He told us about  how awesome the Kogalla light was (I asked Sean to pick one up in Moab & he did so I’m excited to try it out).

We still had a bit of time before we had to meet Sean at Heavenly so we decided to go to Sand Harbor for a bit.  Sean & I always pass by when we are in Tahoe but it’s always packed so we have never stopped.  We were able to get in and go explore for a bit.  I was climbing all over the rocks and in the water having a great time.

Once we got to Heavenly, it was soooo windy. Sean came in with Jake around 2:30p.  He wanted shade & to change so we got him all ready to go.  He and Kristina would be going from Heavenly to Armstrong, another section I have done with him.

We got a (full) team photo and then they were off.  I can’t remember exactly what Josh & I did in the interim, but we eventually made our way over to Armstrong Pass and he got his stuff ready to go out and pass Sean to Housewife Hill & then on to Sierra at Tahoe.  We ran into Schuyler from Mountain Outpost fame – Run Flat, Stay Low 😉 and Jamil’s son, who is super cute!  We chatted with them for a while since we were all waiting on our runners.  I think Sean was in the top ten during this stretch.

Sean got in around 8p just after dark.  We got him some food, a long sleeve shirt & then he was off.  But then, he came back a few minutes later shivering from having gotten too cold while at the aid station.  We got him wrapped up in a blanket, put on his warm jacket, got him some hot water to drink & I gave him my insulated water bottle full of hot water so he could use that when he headed out.

Next stop was Housewife Hill.  Somehow we ended up going into the aid station from the back, that was a first, but it ended up working out so it was all good.  This aid station is one of the best, they are always dressed up & so energetic.  When speaking with the aid station captain, she was saying that going this direction meant she had to take a few days off work in order to be there for the whole race.  I didn’t even think of that, but going in the opposite direction means a lot of changes for everyone.

In any case, Sean came in around 2:15am looking pretty good.  We got him some food & refilled his bottles.  He and Josh set off for the 7 miles to Sierra at Tahoe where I would pick him up to go with him for the next ~40 miles.

We got over to Sierra at Tahoe, I think I slept for maybe an hour before getting changed.  I originally had on shorts & then at the last minute decided to grab a pair of capris & I’m glad I did because it got warmer during the day.

When Sean got to the aid station I think he was in 6th place.  Jamil was still up in the aid station.  Sean changed in the bathroom, we got him food & refilled his bottles.  He doesn’t like going upstairs at this aid station so we always just stay at the entrance.  Interestingly the aid station was unmanned when he came in so we kept asking people where he checked in & finally as we were leaving, a few minutes after Jamil & Skylar left, someone came by to check him in.  The guy had been sleeping since so few people had come through & said, oh, you don’t really need to be checked in. Um, say what? I’m pretty sure someone always checked him in there in the past, but whatever.

So off we went.  I had this idea that we could finish the 40 miles in about 12 hours which would put us at Loon Lake about 5/5:30pm.  From Sierra at Tahoe, you take the road down to the trail, which is initially a fire road.  Last year, Greg & I did a little shakeout down this section so I was familiar with it.  After a while we turned onto a single track section.  Sean was moving pretty good in this section.

I had never been in this section of the course because typically they do this section on day 1 when crew isn’t allowed and I have to say, it’s not the beautiful rim trail.  The trail was not nearly as well maintained as the rim trail and there was so much poop on the trail we started calling this section the Pooer line trail, instead of Power Line ;).  We were like they obviously didn’t read the section of the handbook where it said you can’t just poo anywhere because it was literally like every few feet, sometimes less.

The section to Wrights Lake requires a 3ish mile climb up a road, which Sean did amazing at, he was chugging along, click, click, click of the poles.  It was really cool to see.  But, once he got to the top, he had a hard time going downhill, his hips were not happy.  We eventually made our way down to the trail again.  At this point, we had to take a few breaks & I was digging in to find his psoas muscle to try to get him a bit of release.

This section seemed to go on forever, we finally made it to Wrights Lake, I think there was one other runner there at the same time, got Sean fueled up, got us more water & then headed out.  We were coming up on the Rubicon Jeep Trail.

We started out fine, there were a few jeeps coming down to where the aid station has been in the past.  Sean was moving good, we had a little discussion about him moving a touch faster so we could make up some time & he was trying so hard! Then it happened.  We were following the markers and then all of a sudden there were no more markers.  We had crossed over this bridge & were climbing up rocks looking for the trail.  There were no markers.  Eventually we turned back and tried to see where we got off trail.  Sean ran into another runner & his pacer and we finally had to go to the GPX track to find the trail.

Turns out the track showed the trail to be this random grassy section with logs at the start, which in most races is an indication not to go that way. So weird.  Anyways we went relatively slowly for the next 2ish miles following the GPX track and finally after about 2 miles saw a marker.  I don’t know what happened, but whoever marked this section did a horrible job, because after this, the next marker was at least a 1/2 mile away.  We lost a lot of time in this section to Tells Creek because we literally would come to a dead stop looking for the next marker.  They were not in our line of sight like they should have been.  It was a really frustrating section.

But eventually we made it to Tells Creek.  We got veggie burgers and coke and filled up.  I changed back into my capri’s because I accidentally spilled my drink on my chair and soaked my shorts, oops. But I was glad I changed because once the sun went down, it got cold!

We were moving really well on this section the first half, I think that the veggie burger gave Sean & me a nice energy boost!  I was having a hard time keeping up with Sean the first part of this section, he was moving fast & it was probably the only time that I got my heart rate up during our day together.

We saw the most beautiful sunset, stopped to take a few photos and then we were on a downhill section.  This section was pretty rocky so I took the lead and would go slowly down.  We made a pact that I would stay ahead of him, but not too far ahead so he could feel like he could catch me.  By this point it was getting colder but we were getting closer.  I asked Sean if he would want to take a nap, at this point he hadn’t slept at all and he was past his 60 hour threshold.  He said he would see, but he seemed like he was in decent shape.

We eventually got to where we could see the aid station! YAY!! Finally, 16 hours after we started we were there! Mile 180.  Sean’s mom, Josh & Kristina were there.  Originally Kristina was supposed to run this next section with Sean, but I guess during the day it was decided that Josh would do it instead.  So instead of taking a nap, with all the craziness that was going on, we pushed him out instead.  In hindsight I should have pushed for him to sleep no matter what, but I was so happy to be done & he seemed fine.

I had no idea, but Loon Lake is 2.5 hours from Lake Tahoe!! OMG, that’s a 5 hour round trip drive! Yet another reason why the original direction is soooo much better, that’s a crazy long drive, especially in the dark.  Kristina was a total rockstar driving us back while I was half asleep.  We finally made it back to the B&B, I was able to shower off all the dirt & sleep for a few hours before we headed to Barker Pass.

I would wake up, check the tracker, see Sean was moving really really slowly & go back to sleep for a little while longer.  I was stressing out a lot because I knew he was sleep deprived & sleep walking.  Everyone of these 200 mile races is around a work event that I have to be at, my job is very flexible & I can work from anywhere, except when we have events, I obviously need to be at them so I had to fly to Phoenix that afternoon & I was very concerned that I was going to miss Sean finishing.

We eventually drove over to Barker Pass around 6/7am .  I would try to work & keep checking the tracker, the cell signal up there wasn’t great & it seemed like he was just so far away.  I was incredibly frustrated & in tears by the time he got to the aid station for a variety of reasons.

He got there and we had a little chat, I told him that if he didn’t get to the finish before noon, I was going to have to leave & wouldn’t see him finish.  I was so upset & even now it makes me want to cry a little (and it’s about 6 weeks later).  After last year’s absolutely perfect race, it was heart-breaking to see him struggle this year.

But he & Kristina headed out & he rallied.  I took Josh back to the B&B so he could shower, we got some food & then we checked & Sean was moving quite well so we headed to the finish.

Two hours after he left Barker Pass, he got to the finish line! 74ish hours after he started with no sleep.  I was so happy for him & so relieved that I got to see him finish.

And as the only person to finish Tahoe 200 five times, that’s over 1000 miles on the TRT, Candice presented him with a special award.  He got a custom buckle & belt. It’s really nice!

What a weekend!

My final thoughts, as crew & pacer, 200s are so challenging.  They are all this hurry up and wait, being patient, stressing but not allowing your runner to see that.  While I absolutely love this race, it’s 1000x better in the original direction.

First, the runners get the really remote sections out of the way on the first day so crew doesn’t have to drive 5 hours to Loon Lake. Second, by the time you get to Sierra at Tahoe the runners have spread out a lot. Third, you don’t really have super long paced sections – the 15 – 20 mile section is really ideal for both pacer & runner so that neither gets burnt out.

Tahoe 200 is one of the most beautiful courses around so I’m sure we’ll be back, but I need a little break from 200s for the time being :).

Huge Thanks to our amazing team #TeamSexyCalves.  Kristina, Josh & Jake, we are so grateful for your help & support on this amazing adventure!

 

 

AFC Half Marathon Race Recap

Guys, I’m so far behind on these recaps, you may not still be interested but I’m going to try and bang them out!

After Tushars & Bigfoot, Sean & I had discussed that he was going to run Kodiak 100.  He hurt his Achilles at Tushars so we finally determined that he would skip Kodiak and we decided to run AFC half instead.
We had already run Carlsbad back in January & then La Jolla in April so all that was left was AFC (America’s Finest City).  I really wanted to get it done and finish up the triple crown.

We signed up the week of the race so we paid a bit more than what you would pay if you sign up in advance.

Packet pick-up was at the Sheraton across from the airport.  They had it set up really well with free parking in a lot near the hotel, which was really nice because the hotel charges like $15 to park in their lot.  Then we walked to the back of the hotel to the meeting space where the expo was at.

We picked up our packets, got our shirts, which are cheap looking techy style shirts, looked around the expo & took a few photos.  The race started pretty early & you had to park at Balboa Park and take a shuttle to the start at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.

We got there relatively early so we didn’t have to really wait too long to get parked & on the buses.  The buses though were a total joke.  They had 3 bus lines, but the buses weren’t able to get through the stop lights so it took quite a bit to actually get on the bus.  We did finally get on and were finally off.  Funny story, the driver didn’t even know what we were doing and about 2/3s of the way there he finally asks, you guys are going to run back down?

We finally made it to the Monument where we hung out until the start.   The one thing all 3 of the triple crown races do really well is porta potties.  There are tons of them!  We hit them up, got some water, watched the sun rise, ran into a friend who we chatted with for a while & then got in line again.  By that point the lines were really long, but we made it and headed to the start line.

We were going to bring finish line bags, but we weren’t sure if that was a thing for this race since the cars were relatively close to the finish line so we ended up leaving our change of clothes in the car and just took what we needed instead.

We’d done 6 weeks of races so I really didn’t know how things were going to go so I just lined up with Sean to start and then was going to run by feel.  My only goal was to get to the finish line & earn my triple crown medal.

The race started out by running us through the National Monument and cemetery, which was a little uphill.  I stuck with Sean for about a mile or so before he took off and I just hung back.  After the first 2 miles there was a nice section of downhill until we got down to Harbor Drive.  The race kind of reminded me of running San Diego Half in reverse.

We took a turn down towards the Sheraton & Harbor Island.  I had to use the restroom here so I lost quite a bit of time during this mile because I had to wait a few minutes for another runner.  After that stop, I felt a little better, but it was hot and I was literally dumping cups of water on my head every water stop, after drinking one cup & I had my pack on too.

We eventually made our way down towards the Star of India & then Pacific Hwy, near where San Diego Rock & Roll finishes.  I remember dowsing myself in water here and almost losing my contacts, oops.  Then running down Pacific Hwy in the shade before heading to the final & brutal climb up to Balboa Park.  In SD Half, this hill is downhill and is so much fun, climbing up it, not quite as fun lol.

I made my way up, run/walking and then made the turn towards Balboa Park!  We were almost there!  Having not run the race before, I wasn’t exactly sure where the finish line was, but it was probably about 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile from the climb.

And just like that I was done!  And I was spent! Those 6 weeks of racing & traveling had culminated in a decent race but I was exhausted!

I finished in 2:06:25 which wasn’t too bad considering how hot I was and all the racing.  My first 10k was an 8:41 avg and then I jumped to 9:18 for the second half of the race & considering I ran/walked the mile & a half hill towards the end, I’m pretty happy with that.

We finished the race, they handed out bottles of water, had goodie bags and then there were a bunch of vendors in a little expo style finish line party.  We got our Triple Crown medals & a few photos and then headed  back to the car to get changed & head to breakfast. We headed to Better Buzz to fuel up on  Acai Bowls and coffee.

Final thoughts:  All in all a well put on race, outside the ridiculousness with the buses.  Nice medals, nice course and great volunteers.  The only negative in my mind is that the race shirts are really cheap looking & not very wearable in my opinion.  Other than that I think everything was pretty good.

Tushars Marathon Race Recap

Last year at AC100 one of our running friends walked into packet pick-up and told us about this amazing race that he did the weekend before.  Now this isn’t someone who runs a race every once in a while, this is someone who runs just as many or more races than us.  He told us that we needed to run Tushars, that it was hands down the most beautiful course he’d ever run.

So flash forward to June or so and we were looking for some additional summer races and we realized that Tushars would fit into our schedule so we registered, me for the marathon & Sean for the 100k.  I was a bit nervous since I’ve never run at that high of altitude before but I was excited to see the beauty that was Tushars.

We flew into Las Vegas & then drove the 3.5/4 hours to Beaver, UT the next day. We stopped in St. George for some lunch and supplies before driving the rest of the way to Beaver.  Once we got there we had to call the resort before driving up the mountain (no cell signal) to let them know we were on our way so someone would be there to check us in.

We started our drive up the mountain and were greeted by the most beautiful views & cows sitting by the road.

We got to the resort, checked in, changed & then headed over to the packet pick-up.  We dropped Sean’s drop bag off, got our bibs and then headed out to get Sean’s streak run in.

Afterwards we took a few photos and then headed inside for dinner.  They had a pasta dinner for the runners, it was pretty inexpensive at $7 per person.

We went back to our condo, got our gear ready like normal and then I went to bed early.  Sean’s 100k started at 5am, my race started at 7am.

We got up around 3:45am, got ready & then headed up to the start.  It was pretty low key, I saw Sean & the other 100k runners off and then headed back to the car to take a nap.  I got a little sleep until about 6:15a when I got up to eat a half of my Lenny & Larry’s apple pie cookie and go to the rest room.

And then it was time to get started. The start was pretty low key.  Noah, the race director told us about the markings & to make sure that we read the signs at critical intersections to make sure we took the correct trails.  Miss a sign & we could be out there a lot longer than we expected.

The night before there had been a lot of rain so they had put some carpets out in really muddy section at the start of the course, which was nice so we didn’t start the race with super muddy feet.  As we ran down the ski slope it was a bit muddy but not too bad.

I had decided to wear my Altra Running Timps for this race.  I had a brand new pair that I had sitting on my shoe rack for months and thought it might be a good time to try them out.  I normally wear the superiors which would have been fine for this course, but I did like the extra cushion of the Timp, even though the grip isn’t quite as good.

I quickly started hiking pretty early on.  I was happy to be out there but I didn’t have any illusions that this was going to be easy.  Surprisingly my breathing wasn’t too bad, considering my sea-level training.  I didn’t hear my heart beat in my ears very often but interestingly, the pain I’ve been having in my abdomen near my left ribs (the diaphragm) was an issue the majority of the race.

I just took my time hiking up, enjoying the view.  There was a lot of climbing and being over 10,000 feet definitely made it slow going.   The rib pain was really annoying and honestly I felt like quitting at almost every aid station.  I got to mile 7/8 and the first aid station.  There was one girl there and no cars, it appeared to be out in the middle of nowhere so I got some ginger ale, refilled my pack and kept going.  I couldn’t quit with no way to get out of there lol.

From there, we headed up, climbing a really rocky section, and then from there it would be up to the peak. I had a guy pass me who had started late.  He was hiking really well while I was taking short breaks every 100 feet or so to catch my breath.

I made it to the top of this section & then we actually went down again before heading up a beautiful yet seemingly never ending path to the peak.  Up & up we went.  I had taken my long sleeve off at one point but then as we were climbing up, I needed to put it back on and added my buff to be around by ears.  It was getting windy and pretty cold as we made our way up.

Once we got to the open area, it was windy, but not super cold because of the sun.  I was passed by an older guy, he had to have been in his 70s, who powered up that hill like it was nothing!  I, on the other hand, was trying hard to make it from ribbon to ribbon without stopping.  Being close to 12,000ft was not easy for me.  Finally I made it to the top!

Jubs was up there taking photos.  It was soooo windy & freezing.  I don’t know how she was able up there for hours!  They had a hole punch that you were supposed to punch your bib to show you had made it to the peak.  I went to get my phone out of my pack to take a photo or 2.  It was so windy that my phone almost blew out of my hand.  But I was able to get a few photos before I headed down the mountain.

As I was heading down, in some crazy wind, with so many rocks everywhere, I could see a storm coming to the left of me.  I was hearing thunder and then when I was almost to the bottom it started raining.  So I got my rain jacket out, but it on & then got to a critical intersection.  Marathoners headed to the right and crazy enough, less than a 1/2 a mile on that path & it was bright, sunny & warm! So I took off the jacket & stowed it back in my pack.

I kept moving, we were on a fire road at this point and as I was going down from the peak, I did see the aid station from afar.  We had to go down & then go back up in order to get to it.  On this section, I was pretty much done.  My chest (or diaphragm for that matter) was really sore and I was having trouble catching my breath.  And we just kept climbing.  A few cars passed me in this section along with a few 4 wheelers.  It seemed like it took hours but I finally made it up to the aid station.  There was one guy behind me.

I got to the mud lake aid station and I was seriously ready to quit.  The two very nice volunteers were like you have plenty of time, I was still about an hour or so ahead of the cut-off, but if you really want to quit, Matt Gunn is going to be back in a few minutes with some other drops.  By this point, the guy who was behind me was in the aid station.

We chatted for a few minutes and he said he’d stay with me if I wanted to keep going.  After a short deliberation I decided to keep moving, mostly because they said that this next section mostly downhill for 5ish miles before a climb to the next aid station, which was 6.7 miles away.

So we ran slowly past Mud Lake which really did just look like a huge mud puddle and down the mountain.  I kept looking back to see where the guy John was and he was following me from a little bit of a distance.  I was mostly power hiking at what felt like a decent pace, I guess that ginger ale and a few pretzels at the aid station really helped.

We kept motoring along down the mountain, once we got to the bottom, we were treated to a beautiful view of a small river.  We had to walk across 2 logs to get across and then we started heading up again.  I would take a quick break here and there but I was ready to be done!

We made it up to a camp ground and another fire road.  We started on a gradual uphill climb that would get steeper the further up we went.  I was moving pretty good in this section hiking strong.  I kept looking back and John kept getting further & further back.  I thought I should wait, but then I looked back and he was sitting/laying down on the side of the trail & I knew I just had to keep powering along so I could finish.

In this section there were a lot of 4 wheelers, I saw an older guy with an oxygen tank drive past me.  Another older guy passed with his grandson behind him and said he’d be back & would give me a ride, um, no thank you lol.  I passed a couple taking photos of the race signage who told me I was almost to the top.

I finally made it to the aid station, refilled my hydration adding in some carbo-pro.  I saw the 2 volunteers from Mud Lake & they were like we just got here so you made decent time!  There were just 4 miles to go!  Jamil told me that they were rolling, but it didn’t really matter because I was mostly hiking at that point so off I went.

It looked a little like it might rain again and the downhill towards the beginning of this section was pretty technical so I hiked down.  There was a small creek crossing and then it was a nice single track.  I saw the 2 ladies who I had been following from a distance up to the peak.  I really thought I was going to be the DFL female and didn’t think I would run into them again.

Eventually I caught up and passed them.  Not long after I passed them, I was having some trouble finding the next marker & I thought they might pass me again.  I finally found the marker and a bunch of cows.  This is kind of funny.  One of the cows was staring right at me as I was making my way around the trail, as I got closer to where he was, he started peeing.

I kept moving up & then down.  I eventually made my way back to the beginning section of the race that I remembered and headed down towards the finish.

As I was about a mile from the finish, I was actually running down the trail, I ran into the older runner who had passed me on the climb to the peak.  Yet another person I never thought I’d see again.  He wasn’t sure he was on the right trail so I think he was waiting to see someone else?  In any case I told him I remembered this section, he was standing by an abandoned house that we passed at the beginning and then we had to go under a fence.

I felt a little bad because I was feeling relatively good, tired of course, but just wanted to be done, and I passed him in the last mile of the race.  I thought he would catch me on the uphill climb up to the finish when I stopped a few times but he never did.  I ended up finishing 9 seconds ahead of him.

I finally could see the finish line! I ran through the muddy section and of course in the last 25 feet of the race got mud all over my clean shoes, lol.  But I was finished!  I had done it, the highest race I’ve ever done, 7,000 feet of climb in 26 miles, up to 12,100 ft!

After I finished, it started to rain, phew, I missed the rain!  I sat at the aid station for a while drinking ginger ale and got a vegan quesadilla and some oreos, which are accidentally vegan ;).

Eventually I drove myself back to the condo, took a bath with my Savasana epsom salts and took a short nap.  I didn’t know what time Sean was going to finish but I wanted to be at the aid station so he wasn’t looking for me.  There wasn’t any tracking since we were so far out there so I didn’t want to be late.

I got over there around 10pm.  Checked on things and realized that there weren’t too many finishers yet, so I went to take a short nap in the car.  I slept for maybe an hour & a half and then headed back to the finish line.

I hung out with a few other spectators, most of whom were waiting for 70k runners.  I chatted with a guy whose dad was also running the 100k, rang the cow bells when we would see head lamps coming in.  It was getting later & later, finally I asked Noah if he knew when Sean had gotten to the last aid station and it was around 12:45am so I knew I had a bit longer to wait.  It ended up being even longer because Sean got a little lost a mile or so from the aid station.

Around 2:30a, I think, he made it in!  I was so happy to see him & he was so happy to be done.  He sat for a little bit while cheering the others on & then I told him we needed to get moving since we had to be out of the condo by 10:30am.  We went back, he took a quick bath/shower while I packed up a little bit to get a jump on things.  We finally got to bed around 3:30 or so & I didn’t sleep much at all, the room we picked to sleep in didn’t have the best shades and as soon as the sun was up, it was shining in my face.

Sean was able to sleep decently and I started quietly packing up his stuff and finishing my own packing.  I ended up driving us back to Vegas with a stop at Zion National Park.  We wanted to explore a little more in the mountains but in order to get to where Sean wanted to go, it was going to require a bit more hiking than he wanted to do so we headed out.

Tushars was a bit smaller of a race this year than it has been in the past.  Aravaipa Running took it over but they didn’t have an official date until later in the season so I think that hurt them as far as numbers.  The volunteers, mostly Aravaipa employees this year, were amazing.  The course was breathtakingly beautiful and challenging.

I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a beautiful, challenging, well organized race.

PS. Photos aren’t necessarily in order of the race.   I couldn’t remember exactly where each photo belong so I just added them in how I saw fit. 😉

Revel Mount Hood Race Recap

With all the travel this past month or so, I’ve really gotten behind on my race recaps.  This one is a big one though so better late than never.

I don’t think I ever recapped my Revel Mount Charleston race back in April, but even though I crashed & burned at that race, it was a turning point for me.  I hit the halfway point in a PR time of 1:51 (7ish minutes faster than my official half marathon PR) and was soooo excited.  I quickly found out that my body wasn’t really prepared for all those fast miles & my hips & calves pretty much shut down, culminating in me laying on the ground screaming at mile 22 with the worst calf cramps I’ve ever had before.

That being said, I was hungry for more.  I wanted to see what I could do!  Could I actually BQ?  I had thought that was a pipe dream, I was 40+ minutes off my BQ time & you pretty much need to go at least 5 minutes faster to actually get in, that’s a huge jump, but maybe with some training, I could do it!

I bought a book, Run Faster, Run Less or something like that fully intending to do a crash course training plan after Nanny Goat. Unfortunately, Nanny Goat set me back a bit further than I would have liked & with all the travel we had for June didn’t help either.  My mileage in June was one of my lowest mileage months for the year.

I finished up June with Black Mountain 25k & then we ran the Crown City Classic 12k on July 4 which was a pretty good & speedy race for me. Then I kind of just did maintenance runs here and there with some climbing days on our treadmill when I was home and it wasn’t a billion degrees in our house, lol.

I got off the waitlist for TRT 55k so I added that into my schedule the week before this race.  I had a good race at TRT, followed it up with a nice 7 mile hike/run with Sean on the Tunnel Creek trail & then didn’t run the rest of the week, until Friday when Sean & I did our shake-out run in Portland.

The expo for this race was held at the convention center, it was pretty low-key, like most Revel expos are.

The only thing that was really unique in this race was that for the marathon there were waves that were 15 minutes apart.  Ok, so waves aren’t that unique, but in this instance, they weren’t based off time, they were based off how early you registered.  So because we waited until June to register we had to choose wave 3 at registration.  I emailed and was able to get us moved up to wave 2, but Sean was trying to go for a better BQ & the pacers were in the first wave.  We were able to convince the timing guy to allow Sean into wave 1 fortunately.

I totally get that they were trying to reward those who registered early & they kept saying it’s only 200 people per wave so it’ll be open & not much congestion in the waves.  That’s fine, but I found it very odd to not allow the fast people to be in the front like is the case in most races.

In any case, we got our packets, chatted with Christy from Running Skirts, she told us about this amazing shave ice place, which coincidentally has a location in San Diego too! and we talked to the Altra rep for a bit too.

Since Revel buses everyone to the start & wave 1 started at 5:15am, we needed to get up really early again.  We had a super yummy dinner at Prasad in downtown Portland, followed it up with a second shave ice and then headed back to our hotel.

We got our gear out, including drop bags with a change of clothes & warm gear for the morning at the peak, set our alarms and were in bed by 8am.

The alarm clock rang really early! But we were up, dressed & ready to go by 2:30ish.  It took about 30 minutes to drive to the high school where we would catch the buses.  The wave 1 buses were leaving at 3:15am sharp and the lady who was in charge was pretty cut-throat.  No seat was left unused & I’m glad we got on without her seeing my bib because I feel like I would have been kicked off since I was wave 2. LOL.

I rested a bit during the ride up the mountain and when we got off the bus, we were told that they didn’t have a sound system, the lodge was booked, but by other people so they couldn’t have sound.  They did the pre-race announcements on the bus and then we were able to mill about until the start.

Sean & I hit up the port-a-potties (no lines because we were the 2nd bus there), saw a few other Altra Red Team members & said Hi.  We chatted for a short bit and then it was time for Sean to get ready for his wave.  Since there were only about 800 people (if that) in the race it wasn’t super crowded at the start.

I wished Sean good luck, he was going for a better BQ to ensure he got in for next year. Then hit up the bathroom again before dropping my gear bag.  It was a little chilly at the start so I was glad to have my sweatshirt, jacket & track pants.

They walked us down the mountain to the start line, it was pretty low key with no one really wanting to be by the start, I really had no idea how this was going to go, but once we started, I decided to stay with the 3:45 pacer.  At Mount Charleston, I started out way too fast and paid for it so I figured I’d try to stick with the 3:45 guy for as long as I could.

He was with another guy who seemed to be a friend, they were chatting the whole time.  As a pacer, he wasn’t great, he never asked if any of us around him were running with him, etc. I stuck with them until they dropped off at mile 5 to chat with some friends that were cheering.

At this point we were on Hwy 26, which I remembered from our last trip to Mount Hood a few years back.  We ran past Government Camp and just steadily moved towards the finish.  I started running a bit too fast, I told myself to just settle in and keep moving.  Eventually I was able to do just that.

My calves were starting to tighten up a bit around mile 6, I wasn’t sure if that was a sign of things to come or just a normal ache.  Around mile 10ish, the inside of my ankle started to hurt, I told myself, just get to the halfway point.  I got to the half marathon in 1:45:30, which was 6 minutes faster than Mt Charleston!!  I was feeling pretty good, relatively speaking.

I was running pretty consistent splits at this point: 8:06, 8:07, 8:05, 8:19, 8:00, 8:03, 8:06, 7:58, 8:08, 7:41, 8:05, 8:08, 8:03.

I told myself to just keep moving, I settled in again and just kept the momentum.  I was passing people, wondering if they would pass me again later, but just trying to keep moving.

The weather was absolutely perfect! It felt cool for most of the race & we were in the shade as well.  I was soaked in sweat but I felt nice and cool until about mile 22/23.

This race is unique in that the marathon runs a separate race from the half until the last 3 miles.  We basically run from the base of Mount Hood down to Hwy 26, turn right and then run on the side of the road down Hwy 26 to the fish hatchery.

I had to stop to get rocks out of my shoes once around mile 20 I think, it was driving me crazy.  The 3:45 pacer passed me around mile 22, he was gone & I never saw him again, he had to have finished few minutes ahead of me (under 3:45).

Around mile 24/25 there were a few smallish hills that I ran/walked.  I didn’t really look at my watch too much during the race, but towards the end, I was really doing a lot of calculations in my head.  I was thinking, could I do it?  Could I really BQ?  I knew it would be close and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t be under enough to actually get to run in 2019.  But could I do it?

I knew I was going to PR, but I still wanted to try for the BQ.  I was finally at the turn to get to the finish.  I was .3 miles over and I was hoping I was wrong and that I’d get those .3 miles back, wishful thinking lol.  I was moving as fast as I could, where was the finish line???  My calves were starting to cramp and then I saw my friend Paul with his go-pro out.  I said Hi & he took a few photos of me as I made my way to the finish.  He got this photo of me checking my watch, so close!

I made the final turn & I could see the finish line! Working hard to get there as fast as I could!

I was over 3:45 but I did it! I ran a 40 minute PR and came sooooo close to a BQ.  And without any specific speed training!  I was in shock as they said my name.  I was so happy, but I couldn’t believe it, where in the world had that come from!

Second half splits: 8:02, 8:06, 8:21, 8:36, 8:49, 8:36, 9:32, 9:01, 8:39, 9:38, 9:17, 10:02, 9:17, 8:19 (.56)

I saw my friend Helen, asked her how her race went, she BQ’d, Yay! I told her I got a huge PR and she was a little shocked, lol.  I then tried to find Sean.  I couldn’t find him so I grabbed a bottle of water & a banana before going to the gear check.

They couldn’t find my bag, so I asked about Sean’s and they said no, so I knew he grabbed them.  I ran into one of my Altra teammates, chatted with him for a few minutes and then had to keep moving.  My calves were so tight.  I walked backed towards the finish line and finally saw Sean.  I was like 40 Freaking minute PR baby!

He was super happy for me!  We got a few photos before I had to get changed.  I was soaked & my calves were seriously cramping.  It took me about 10 minutes to change, lol.

We finished up, grabbed a piece of pizza, Papa John’s was there, we just took the cheese off and ate the crust lol, got a coke and then got in line for the buses back to the high school where we left our cars.

Again, like at the Yosemite Half, the buses were a huge problem.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes before a few buses showed up.  The lady said that they finally were in sync and had 3 buses coming at a time to get more people transported back at a time.

Overall though, I would definitely recommend this race! It was beautiful, fast, downhill, shaded, great weather, good swag (nice tech shirt & great medal) and super fun.

Now to decide on the next marathon & get that BQ!

2018 Tahoe Rim Trail 55k

We love Tahoe & go at least twice a year.  TRT has become a part an annual tradition.  I ran the 50 miler there in 2016, my first mountain 50 miler & the 55k last year.  Sean has run the 100 miler 4x so it’s a pretty special race for us.

This year, I didn’t get in immediately, I was like 31 on the waitlist so I had to wait until maybe June to find out if I got in.  I knew that I would run if I got in.

We got our new treadmill at the end of June so I was trying to get in a few climbing sessions here and there.

This year instead of flying into Reno, which is closer to Carson City & the side of the lake where the race is, we found really inexpensive flights into Sacramento so we ended up driving about 3 hours on Friday morning/afternoon.

We got to stop by one of my favorite places, Basik Acai, which has a location in Reno, on our way to our hotel so that was a plus :).  Unfortunately I forgot to book a room earlier in the year so we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn, which is nice, but note to anyone who stays there, they do not like early check-ins and are pretty rude when you try to check in before their official time.

In any case, we had to sit out in the car so Sean could get his drop bags set up until we were able to check-in.  We got that all sorted & raced over to the packet pick-up/100 mile race briefing. How cool are these bibs? This was the first year for these and they are so pretty.

It was starting to get pretty windy when we got there.  We saw Kat & Kristina and a bunch of other friends before the meeting.

During the meeting it got so windy that a few of the trees starting cracking and branches were falling on people.  They ended up finishing the meeting early because it was getting pretty bad out.

After the meeting we had to get in a quick shake-out run so we headed over to the spot where we normally run and did a quick & windy run.

We headed to a pizzeria in town for dinner, they had a yummy vegan pizza.

We got our gear ready & then headed to bed very early, around 8/8:30 because we had a 2:30am alarm.

Since we were in Carson City, we had to drive over to the start area.  They wanted everyone to take a bus over to the start from Carson City, but since I was also going to be crewing Sean, we decided that we would pay for parking and then I would be able to come back after my race to find Sean.  That meant getting there really early so that we could get a spot.

The start is pretty crazy, since they were busing everyone there, it was crowded a lot earlier than normal.

The 100 miler started at 5am so I saw Sean off and then headed back up to the car to take a quick nap before my start. I ran into Kristina & the gang on the way back up.

I also ran into an Instagram friend Janice before the start and said Hi.  I put my drop bag at the finish line, it was cool, but not as cool as last year so I decided not to run with my arm sleeves.

The 50 miler & 55k start at the same time so it can be a pretty crowded start.  I was maybe half-way pack in the pack.  I as usual just run my own race.  I was just taking it easy at the beginning, following a random pack, but the guy in the lead ended up being pretty slow on the downhills so I passed him and just kept moving.

I got to the first aid station, Hobart, which is about 7ish miles in.  I was feeling good so I got a little more water & a few orange slices before taking off.   I hiked out of the aid station & got a photo in front of Morraine Lake before continuing on.

This section we could really smell the smoke from the Yosemite fires.  I was moving pretty decently on the downhill, but realized that my eyes were getting a little black around the edges, it was really odd.  When I got to the Tunnel Creek aid station, mile 12ish, I got checked out by medical & was told I was fine.

So I got a little food & some ginger ale before heading down on the Red House loop.  I felt better so maybe I was just calorie deficient or something.

I got back up to Tunnel Creek, mile 19ish, got ice in my bladder pack, in my hat & buff and took off back over to Hobart.  I was feeling pretty good, just hiking back up the trail.

I made it back to Hobart, had a horrible time getting my bladder pack open.  I really dislike the hydro pak bladders, they are sooo hard to get open & closed.  It took 2 other guys & myself to get it open, ridiculous!

I got a few sips of ginger ale, some more orange slices and more ice for my hat and took off to get to Snow Valley.  It’s only about 3 miles up to the aid station and then 7 miles to the finish!

I passed a bunch of people in this section and was passed by at least one 100 miler.  I made it to the aid station without much trouble, I was hiking really well.  This aid station is really nice, the boy scouts put this station on & they are super nice, greeting you by name, taking your pack, etc., etc.

I got a little more fuel, ice & then took off.  I wanted to finish as quickly as possible so I just started moving.  I passed 2 guys in the first mile or so.  I remember looking at my watch and realizing that if I could keep moving, I could get really close to 9 hours. So I really pushed it going down the mountain.  Running as fast as I could on the downhills and hiking fast on the uphills.

I passed a few more people on my way down.  I was trying to remember where the last water only aid station was.  It was inside 2 miles to the finish.  And it was getting hot by this point & I was running pretty fast (for me at the end of a 55k).  The last 2 miles were so tough, I could see the finish line but it seemed like it was getting further and further away.

But then finally I was at the split for the finish & the 100 mile (50 mile aid station). I was so close, I managed to finish in 9:09, which was an hour and 1 minute faster than last year.

I was super happy & felt pretty good after the race.  They give us a free meal from a taco food truck so I got just beans, veggies & rice.  I chatted with a 65 year old guy who came in about 25 minutes before me.  He was from Bishop & had a lot of fun stories to tell me.

Then I went up to meet up with Kristina while she was waiting on Kat & some other friends from San Diego.  Christy from Running Skirts was running too.  We just chatted for a bit & then I started to get worried about Sean.  I couldn’t find his pacer and he was taking a lot longer than I was expecting.

Christy came in, then Matt, then Kat, who said Sean was like 1/4 of a mile away and that he wasn’t feel well.  It took him a really long time to get into the aid station at least another 20ish minutes, which was making me really nervous.

He finally got there and was really bloated and having a lot of stomach pains, so we got him some ginger ale & some vegan broth to see if he would feel better.  Nothing was really helping him so eventually he decided to drop.

So now, we had to figure out where to stay.  I don’t normally get a room for Saturday night since I sleep in the car waiting for him to come in at Diamond Peak.

There was a huge concert or something in town, which sold out every hotel in the area of Tahoe, Carson City, Reno, Truckee, etc.  We had to drive to Placerville in order to find a room.  It was a crazy drive too on the 50.  I don’t like driving in the dark and this was so much downhill with people driving crazy, scary and frustrating.  The view of the lake at sunset though, was amazing.

We came back the next day to get Sean’s drop bags & did a nice hike/run up Tunnel Creek. On our way up, we ran into Magda which was super exciting.  We got a quick photo before she ran off.

Again, this is a race that I always recommend, if you have the opportunity to run this race, it’s well put on, great aid stations, great swag (Patagonia shirts) and it’s in Tahoe, which is absolutely beautiful.

The Peak Half Marathon Race Recap

A few weeks ago, Sean & I started discussing our summer runs & Sean wanted to get in another decent run in July before TRT so we decided on The Peak in Julian, CA.

We go to Julian quite often but don’t typically run to Cuyamaca Peak & knowing that I was going to be running TRT & then Mt. Hood I didn’t want to push it so I signed up for the half marathon while Sean signed up for the 50k.

Local & shorter distance races are pretty low key for us these days and I don’t typically stress too much about anything in the days before the race.

I do still set out my clothes the night before, just in case & get a change of clothes so I don’t have to search for that in the morning.

I woke up a little before my alarm to go to the bathroom & then right before my alarm actually went off around 3:30am, I got a text from my boss (who was in Paris at the time) that I needed to do something for work so that kind of messed up my game a little.  I got that taken care of, then got my pack fuelled & ready, grabbed a few random things and then we were off.  This was probably the first time ever Sean was ready before me, lol.

We drove out to Cuyamaca & got to the start area around 5:20ish.  They told us to go towards the front to park since we have a small car & ended up being right at the start/finish line.

The start was pretty low-key.  The 50k & marathon runners started at 6am & then the half marathoners started at 7am.  I just kind of hung out at the car & then started to see a few friends.

And then it was time to get the show on the road! We started out on a dirt road then turned & started up!  I ran maybe a half a mile before I started hiking.  My goal for the day was to really work on my hiking & then run the down.

I felt really strong climbing, barely having any issues with breathing, etc. I wasn’t moving crazy fast, but I was moving pretty well.  We got to a nice section of downhill & I ended up passing a few people before getting to the next section of uphill.  This section is very rocky & was a bit more slow.

I passed a few people here & there, chatted with one girl who got lost last year, a guy who was sooo negative, literally every word out of his mouth was a negative comment & then caught back up to the girl & we finished climbing to the Peak together.

So side note on the negative person: I enjoy chatting with other runners when I’m out there & I try to be super positive, because I’m super excited to be out there & especially on the shorter runs, I’m not really going through any major lows lol.  But if I run into a people & they are being negative, I do try to distance myself because if you are having a rough day it can be easy to get sucked into that mindset.  After the race, I ran into that guy again & he told me & another runner that he did not enjoy one minute of the race.

We get to do this, we all paid our money to be out there on the trails & in my opinion, any day I get to be out there in nature, enjoying the trails is a good day!  There’s always something to smile about & for most people, the next high is just around the corner.  It was an absolutely beautiful day & I feel a little sad for him that we wasn’t able to enjoy just being out there.

Now, back to the recap & off my soap box.  I got to the Peak, saw my friend Jeff, got more water in my pack, ice in my Running Skirts neck wrap & they insisted on putting ice in my hat.

I’ve only been to Cuyamaca Peak a few times so I had to get a photo & then I started on my descent.  It’s always fun to be on the second half of an out and back because you are heading towards the finish!

I was able to run for maybe a mile or so before it got pretty rocky.  I chatted with a guy from Iowa for a while before I passed him and kept moving.  I got to the bottom of the rocky section, hit up the next aid station got more ice for my hat & then headed up for the last section of climb (about 2ish miles).

In this section I passed at least 2-3 more people on the climb.  I was dripping wet & not just from sweat, between the ice in the hat & the neck wrap, my shirt & shorts were soaked!!  I kept thinking to myself that the people behind me were probably following my water drops lol.  Except that there weren’t really any people following that closely behind me.

I finally made it to the top of the last big climb! And it was time to start running! So I immediately passed a girl and then I saw a guy, he was running, but then stopped to walk so I passed him.  Then I turned a corner and this woman came out of nowhere, so we ran next to each other for a while and then I passed her too. I just kept moving steadily heading towards the finish.

As I got into the last mile, I saw two more people, a guy & a girl a little bit ahead of him so I set my eyes on them.  I was able to catch the guy and then I eventually passed the girl with less than a mile to go.  I kept heading down to the road section.  There was another guy in front of me, but I wasn’t able to catch him.

I don’t normally play the pick-off runners game, I just do my own thing, but it was a fun way to finish off the race since I had done so much hiking.

We finished got a medal & then I headed up to get a coke & some orange slices.  I took my traditional post race medal selfie & then changed into dry clothes.  I enjoy the after race just chatting with other runners while I wait for Sean to finish his longer race.

It was a fun day!  I really enjoyed it, and I knew it was going to be a challenging race.  Although I think that I must have heard a good portion of the half marathoners comment that it was soooo tough.

Again, like at Black Mountain a number of people commented that they weren’t expecting it to be like this, this tough, this technical, this unrunable (a matter of opinion, Sean said it was crazy challenging but he did run the entire first 6.5 miles, our race).  And I understand as a road runner we don’t always look at the course map or elevation because it’s not that big of deal.  But with trail races, it’s different, first for most people, you aren’t going to run as fast as you do on the road, second, even in a half marathon, there can be a lot of climbing, third, it’s not always runnable terrain for everyone but that’s ok, if you keep up with it and train the next one will be easier and finally, remember to look up & out occasionally, the views at trail races are so much better than most road races!

Crown City Classic 12k Race Recap

Twoish weeks ago I got an email regarding a July 4th race so Sean & I discussed it and looked at all the local options for 4th of July races.  There were 2 big ones here in San Diego.  The Crown City Classic in Coronado with a 1 mile, 5k or 12k race & the Scripps Old Pros 10k at Lake Miramar with a 2 miler & 10k along with a variety of bike races.

After looking it over we decided to run the Crown City Classic for a few reasons.  #1 Coronado is much closer to our house & #2 It was a little longer race at 7.4 miles.

After we finished up at Black Mountain last week we headed to Road Runner Sports to pick up our race packets.  The race shirts were really cute with a map of the course on them.

Since the 4th was on Wednesday, Sean & I both had to work the rest of the week.  We met up the night before for a quick shake-out run and then had dinner at Veggie Grill & freezes from Pressed Juicery.

We got our clothes out, did flat runner photos when we got home.  I like to do a #flatjenny photo so that I don’t forget anything the next day.  Since it was a shorter race, I didn’t need a lot of stuff, but I knew that I would be soaked afterwards, so I brought a change of clothes which I was so happy I had new clothes because we were super sweaty.

The next morning we got up around 5am got out the door by 5:30am and off we went.  It only takes about 15 minutes for us to get to Coronado so we were there pretty early.  Good thing too because we needed to find parking.

We parked, walked over to the start line at Tidelands Park and then dropped off my bag.  There were plenty of port-a-potties and they did an fun pre-run warm-up for those that wanted to participate. Before we started they read off the names of all those people in the military who had died since 4th of July last year.  Very happy to hear that there weren’t many.

After this they got us lined up and someone played the National Anthem on a trumpet and then the race director did a play on the Independence Day speech that Bill Pullman gave before they headed out to fight the aliens & then we were off!

A unique thing about this race is that they have you start by going under a huge US flag.  It was a cool, but you had to pay attention because it didn’t stay up very well, lol.

The race is a nice flat out and back, you run past the golf course, past the marina and onto the strand before turning around.  There were 2 aid stations that you hit twice.

I started out pretty fast.  As I hit the first mile, 2 guys passed me saying they were running too slow, while I was thinking I was running too fast, lol.

I was breathing hard & wasn’t really ready to be running low 8 minute mile pace, but I managed to keep it together for 4 miles before taking a quick walk break at the aid station.  I picked it back up and just kept moving it along.  In the end I was able to maintain a 8:26 avg pace which I was pretty darn proud of.

June was a tough month for me between recovering from Nanny Goat,  being super busy at work & traveling to the Bahamas, I barely got 75 miles in all month & most of that wasn’t speed work.  So it was a huge confidence boost to know that I was able to maintain a good speed for more than just 3 miles. I was feeling it by the time I closed into the finish, but I felt like I finished strong.

They announced our names at the finish line, I always like that it gives you a little boost at the finish & since they had free photos, that’s a nice perk to make sure you smile at the end.

They handed out our medals.  There was bottled water, bananas & kashi bars to replenish with.  They had a little post race expo that we didn’t visit.  We got a few photos then got changed & headed back to our car.  We wanted to get off the island before the parade.

I would definitely run this race again.  Did you run a race on 4th of July or just run on your own?

Black Mountain 25k Race Recap

Happy Sunday friends! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here but I attended Blogfest this past week and I’m feeling extra motivated to share. 🙂

After a busy few days at Blogfest, with multiple workouts a day & amazing speakers, Sean & I hit up one of our fav San Diego vegetarian/vegan restaurants, Plumeria, for a pre-race dinner.  I’ve tried a lot of the food at Plumeria, but the Tangerine Chicken is our favorite.

We got home, I threw together an outfit for the race, I was so exhausted that I didn’t even bother with a real flat Jenny, just a pile of clothes, lol.

Black Mountain was a new race for both Sean & I, neither of us have been out there so we had no idea what to expect. The 50k started at 6:30am & the 25k at 7am so we left our house around 5:20 to get there by 5:50 or so.  It was a pretty casual race, we picked up our bibs & race shirts, which for the women is a nice tank, hit up the porta potties and then just chatted with all our friends.

There are a lot of Rabbits in the SD area and we got a pre-race photo.  I’m the odd one out, for some reason choosing to wear a different shirt, which once I saw the photo, I was like what was I thinking lol.

The 50k start was super uneventful, the race director was like 1, 2, 3 Go and they were off.  I wasn’t ready and only managed to get a few snap shots of Sean taking off & he was chewing gum at the time so it’s not the most flattering of photos lol.

After they started I ran into Sarah, the race director for Ramblas Run & chatted with her for a few minutes, then chatted with one of my fellow Dirtbag Runner ambassadors, Pamela & some others at the race.

We listened to the RD tell us a few things about the race, i.e. what color ribbons to follow, thank the volunteers, pick up your feet etc., etc.  and then we were off!

After Nanny Goat at the end of May, then all the travel, work & being sick in June, I really have been slacking on my running so I didn’t know what to expect from my body so I started out relatively slow.

The race starts in the park with about a 1/2 mile on the sidewalk before getting to the trail head.  Once at the trailhead it’s a bit of a climb, which I choose to hike up.  I knew there was about 2,500 feet of climbing during the race, but I didn’t know when or where it would be, except in the last section, so I wanted to make sure I had something left for the big climb.  Who am I kidding, I always hike the big climbs lol.

After the first mile or so I settled into a comfortable pace & started chatting with a guy named Owen who had just moved to SD from Italy with the Navy.  We chatted about running & training and just how nice it was to be out here on the trails.  I was having an exceptionally amazing attitude morning, I was truly so happy to be out on the trails & I pretty much smiled the entire race.

After a while we had another guy join us, we all chatted for a bit more & then I lost them for a bit when we started climbing a little more & I slowed down. This race had a lot of little out and back loops, I went through the first aid station without stopping, did my first little loop, came back through the aid station & met back up with Owen.  We headed out on the next section.  I lost him again but another lady passed me on the uphill & we ran together for about a mile or so.  It was her first trail race.

After I lost her, I was by myself for a bit heading into the next aid station.  We went down a really steep & rocky section before heading onto a beautiful single track section heading into the next aid station, I think around mile 9.  From there we had another little loop to do, about 2 miles before heading back the way we came.

There were a lot of really beautiful purple flowers in this section so of course I had to grab a photo ;).

When we got to the top of this section, I think I heard people call it the Glyder Port parking lot or something like that, we headed down a fire road & then out on to the actual road for a short bit.  Then we started climbing.  And it’s about here that I started to feel that the lack of CarboPro was starting to take it’s toll because I essentially had 2 scoops of Gnarly Hydrate (approx. 60 calories), 3 orange slices & a half a bag of Skratch Labs gummies in 12ish miles.  Not really my best fueling, lol.

Needless to say, the lack of calories was really starting to catch up to me.  I was fine for most of the hike up to the peak until the last .6 mile section.  It was getting hot & steeper, but I kept it going by saying good job to all those coming down.  I finally got to the top!  They had Otter Pops & ice so I got my pack refilled, had 2 otter pops & then started my descent to the finish.

I was feeling amazing on that section!  Those otter pops really gave me some extra energy & I had a pack full of ice cold water.  I was drinking a ton, so much so that I ran out of water with about 3/4 of a mile to go, oops! I was using a different bladder in my pack, the camelbak bladder because I’ve had a lot of trouble with the hydrapak  bladders & I had a 1.5 lt bladder in my OrangeMud gear vest, it doesn’t fit perfectly & I don’t think the volunteers realized that it wasn’t fully filled.  I’ll have to look at that more closely the next time I use it.

In any case, I was cruising in this section, feeling amazing, I passed a bunch of people and made my way down to the park, which was a tinsy bit farther away than I was expecting.  I think I hit 16 miles just as I got to the park. But trail races are always a little long or short depending on the race so it is what it is :).

The photographer told me which way to go because there wasn’t a marker there and I just kept the momentum up the best I could.  I was starting to feel a little sick from the lack of calories as I made my way to the finish, but I was able to maintain a sub 9 minute pace for that last 1/2 mile which felt really good.

Arms up & out in my signature Jenny pose at the finish & I was done!  I got my medal, an Elevation Culture original & a cute little rubber cup from the race director and then immediately headed over to grab a coke.  I needed sugar!

I was drenched for the majority of the race, I’m not sure if it was the humidity or if I was just sweating like crazy, but both my shirt & then eventually my shorts were completely soaked by the end of the race.  Which was nice for keeping me cool, but I don’t really like the feeling of sweat dripping down my legs, lol. After getting my coke & a finish line photo, I immediately went to get changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side note: As an avid racer, the #1 tip, I can give if you are a heavy sweater like I am, is to always bring a change of clothes to either have in your car or in your finish line bag.  I hate walking around in wet clothes after the race & sometimes it can get really cold. I always bring an extra pair of shorts, top & a new sports bra (because that’s the worst part, when is someone going to design a quick drying sports bra???) and put them in my finish line bag or in the car & I put them on as soon as I can.

The race had pizza for the finishers, I’m not sure if it was vegan so I passed, had some grapes & a handful of almonds & granola while I waited for Sean to finish.  I chatted with some other runners and just enjoyed a little time in the sun.

When Sean finished he explained that the markers got vandalized and that a huge group of about 20 runners got off course for about 3ish miles.  It wasn’t like a marker fell off and was put back accidentally, the people who vandalized the course did it maliciously by putting more markers about a half a mile down the wrong way, which resulted in a big group going the wrong way.  So not cool people.  Is it really that big of a hindrance to have runners in your neighborhood for one morning?

Overall though, the 25k didn’t have any issues with course markings, I had a great time & we got lots of CarboPro after the race so I shouldn’t have any issues in my next race :).

March Run All the Races: Carlsbad 5000

And here we are, the last of our 5 races in March.  The shortest & the fastest, the Carlsbad 5000.

It’s been a few years since we ran this one, we ran back in 2016, last year we just came over to see some friends and watch the elites.

We don’t run a lot of 5ks, mostly because they are so expensive for only 3.1 miles.  This year, I believe we registered on National Running Day for about $25, which is a lot more reasonable than the $50 they charge if you wait until a month or so before the race.

Carlsbad 5000 is unique in that they have different races for different age groups.  They have Masters Men, Masters Women, 30 – 39 and then 20 – 29 and walkers.  There are also men & women’s elite races too.

This year I was in a new age group, Masters Women so my race time was 7:55a.  Sean was in the next group, 30 – 39 at 9:15a.  I really wanted to run in my own age group so I made him get up early to drive up to Carlsbad around 6:15am.  It takes approx. 45 minutes to get to Carlsbad & then you have to find parking, etc.

We were running a touch late so Sean dropped me off near the finish.  I left my bag with him but still had on my track pants and sweatshirt.  I found the race bibs, note that they are not next to the shirts, but instead near the start line.

I got my bib, used the bathroom and then waited for Sean.  I ran into Mick, from #Run619, we chatted for a bit and then I found Smitha & Kristina.  We got a few photos, saw a few other friends and then Sean got there so I could give him my clothes.

My goal was to try and PR.  My previous official 5k PR was 26:45 and I knew I could beat that. By how much would remain to be seen.  I always start out way too fast in 5ks.  You would think I would learn but most likely since I run approx. one 5k every two years, I always forget, lol.

Anyways, Kristina & I were going to start together and see what happened.  Neither of us had any idea what our bodies were capable of at that point.

The tough part about this race is that they just line everyone up together, it’s an honor start so you just pick a mile pace and then line up.  I spent a good portion of the first quarter mile weaving in and out of other runners.

I finally settled in and just was giving it all I had.  I made the first turn and was just trying to keep my breathing even.  Smitha yelled out to me & I waved back.  All I kept thinking is my new mantra, I believe in you, I can do this and just kept chugging along.

We made the last turn & I remember looking at my watch, I could do an 11 minute mile and still PR, of course I didn’t want to slow down that much, but I struggled that last mile.  Just get to the Carlsbad sign & then you’re in the home stretch I kept thinking.

Finally I made it to the Carlsbad sign & made the turn towards to the finish.  I saw a photographer over by the rail road tracks, I tried to smile but I was breathing too hard.

By the time I saw Sean, I was giving it all I had to get to that finish line.  And there it was!  I crossed the line in an unofficial 24:55! a PR by almost 1m50s!

And then Kristina was just a few seconds behind me, having run a much smarter, negative split race.

We caught our breath, got some water and some photos.  A few of our friends came up so we got more photos and then it was time for me to get changed so we could wait for Sean to start.

Sean had a fantastic race, he finished in a blazing 20:32, pretty amazing considering he has been nursing a foot injury and not doing much in the way of speed work.

We got some coffee & then went to watch the elites.  Interestingly, they started in the same spot as us this year, after doing a different loop course for the last few years.  Doing the same course as us, isn’t quite as exciting for the fans because you don’t get to see them as often.

I felt like we had an interesting mix this year.  Both the fields were very small, under 10 people in each race and there were no Africans in either race. I’m not sure if they were running other events or if they changed how the elite program worked now that Ironman bought Rock ‘n Roll but it was interesting & somehow not quite as exciting.

While 5ks aren’t really on our radar often, it is fun to do one every now and again to test yourself.  Seeing as I’ve now gone under 25 minutes, I’d really like to try and see what I could do if I really put my mind to it.

We hit up one of our favorite vegan restaurants, Trilogy in La Jolla, to fuel up after the race & had a great day!  It’s funny, after all the longer runs, it felt weird to not be tired & sore after the race, lol.