Half Marathon #20 !! Ventura Marathon (Half Marathon)

Finishing up my tour of travel a few weeks ago was a visit to Ventura Beach, CA for the Ventura Marathon or half marathon in my case :).  I had been planning on running this event for a while, ever since my friend Rhea told me about it earlier this year.  She, her husband, Kenny, and another mutual friend of ours where all planning on running so I eventually signed up for the 1/2 marathon, which would be my 20th lifetime half marathon!!

This was the 2nd year for this race and it was a pretty good one.  It’s not a huge race, like some of the other beach marathons I’ve done.

I arrived on Friday evening, flying into Burbank after a work event in Nashville, TN, I wasn’t feeling well Friday afternoon, with a minor cold and probably a slight fever, and I didn’t realize that it was going to be an hour drive from the airport, but it was actually a pretty easy drive, on the 101 all the way there.  I finally got to the hotel around 11:30pm, got checked in and crashed.

Rhea & Kenny went for a quick run on Saturday morning, while I slept in, and then we all met up for breakfast at the hotel before getting ready and heading over to the beach to pick up my packet, and one for a friend, which was super easy.  They also had race day pick-up for an extra $20.  Packet pickup was a breeze, super fast and I just needed my friend’s waiver and a copy of her driver’s license and I got her packet too.

Race swag included: a nice reusable logo’d tote bag, a nice women’s cut tech t-shirt, some KT tape samples and a bunch of advil samples, the cold & allergy one came in really handy for me that night :).  I don’t have a photo, but the interesting thing was that they had reusable chips for the shoes.  I’ve gotten so use to the D-tags or B-tags that I was a little surprised to see that in my packet.

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Swag, T Shirt, Bib
Race Swag!

We were there really early, so the little expo was just getting started, but they did have a nice booth with pieces specific to the marathon that were very reasonably priced.  Too often you go to the expo, want to get a shirt or something, but they are super expensive, these pieces were priced in the $20 – 40 range mostly and were decent quality too.

After hanging out there & at the beach for a bit, we headed into town for a bit, for lunch.  There was a car show in town that afternoon, which was really cool, we had a great time looking at a lot of old cars, in mint condition.

We hit up Vons for some race day treats and then a little coffee house & gelateria called Palermo.  They made a good effort, but the gelato was not like in Italy, it was kinda gooey and had an interesting consistency.  The best place outside of Italy for gelato, I’ve found, is actually in Vancouver, BC, called Bella Gelateria, it’s really really good!

Pre-Race Gelato

Anyways, back to the weekend, we all took an afternoon nap and then headed back into town to carb up for the race, there was an awesome Italian restaurant, Sicily by Gino, with at least one native Sicilian that worked there :).  I had a rigatoni alla bolognese with a huge spinach salad.  A nice moonlight walk on the boardwalk by the beach and we called it a night.

Rigatoni, Bolognese, Siciliy by Gino, Ventura, California, carbload, ventura marathon, half marathon
My super yummy Rigatoni Bolognese from Sicily by Gino

Ventura Beach Moon

Then it was time for bed, we had an early morning.  Rhea was running the marathon while Kenny & I were doing the half.  The marathon started at 6:20am, with the half following around 6:50am, I believe.  We left around 5:45am, since we were only about a 1/2 mile from the start.

We headed towards the packet pick-up where there were a ton of porta potties, after my experience in San Fran, I was happy to see that they were close to the start line.  I met up with my friend, a co-worker, whose packet I picked up the day before and then watched Rhea & Vanessa start the marathon before getting a few photos and getting ready to start the half.

Meeting up with Raheleh pre-race.  It was her 2nd half.
Meeting up with Raheleh pre-race. It was her 2nd half.
Rhea, Vanessa & I giving Sean a shout out as he runs the Tahoe 200!
Rhea, Vanessa & I giving Sean a shout out as he runs the Tahoe 200!
Kenny & I give another shout out to Sean
Kenny & I give another shout out to Sean

The weather was really nice at the start, I felt comfortable in my tank and skirt – I feel cold a lot of the time before the sun gets up, but this time it was just right :).

Pre-race photo :)
Pre-race photo 🙂

There were just a few waves for the half, I think 3 total.  I started in the 2nd wave because really, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go since I wasn’t feeling 100% the day before.  The first few miles of the race were in the shade, it was pretty nice and relatively cool, always a plus.  This is an out and back course, with several out and backs.

We started out by the pier, running thru some neighborhoods, then over by the Ventura Harbor and we spent a lot of time on Harbor Blvd.  The harbor area was the best in my opinion but all in all it was a decent race, it wasn’t overly crowded and while there weren’t a lot of spectators there were some, like this couple that I think I saw about 10 times throughout the race – that was pretty cool :).  We finished close to where we started by the pier, a little closer to the beach, where there was a fun, beach party with a decent amount of post race food and drink.

2014, Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Race photo, ventura, california

How did my race go?  Well let’s see, the first 6 – 7 miles were fine, I ran all the way thru, then around mile 8 all the travel and not feeling well started to catch up to me, plus that’s when the sun really came out in full force with no shade.  Around that time is when I started walking a little bit.  In fact one of my friends caught up with me at that point, we ran together for about a half mile before I told her to go ahead.  I mostly ran, but did a bit of walking as well, got passed by the marathon winner around mile 11 and then finished at 2:03:04, which considering the week I had and not feeling good, was really awesome!

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Photo, Ventura, California
Still not smiling – LOL
Almost to the finish!
Almost to the finish!

After finishing the race, I g0t some post race goodies.  I love it when races have good food afterwards, this was one of my biggest complaints with the SF Marathon.  I’m not a huge fan of coconut water but I drank a full container, in addition to a bottle of water.

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race Eats, Clif Bars, Dole Fruit Cups, Refresh Coconut Water, Ventura, California
Post Race Eats – Coconut Water, Regular Water, Clif Bars, Pretzels, Watermelon, Pineapple, Bagels, Dole fruit cups, there were animal crackers and some other things too that I didn’t get

I went with one of my friends to cheer on other finishers and wait for our friend to finish the half and Rhea to finish the full marathon.  By this point, it was getting hot!

Raheleh is doing great - almost to the finish
Raheleh is doing great – almost to the finish
Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race, Finisher Photo
Post Race with Vinny & Raheleh

After Rhea finished, I left my other friends to get her some food, with all the people, it wasn’t easy to see where the food was, both Rhea and my other friend didn’t see it.  We took some photos and then headed down to the ocean to take some medal pics and a jumping photo.  I totally got some air on this one ;).

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, 2014
Rhea & I post race – medal shot!! Look at how huge that marathon medal is!!!
Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, Ventura Beach, California, Ventura Beach Pier
Rhea & I jumping after the race. How in the world did I manage to get that kind of air?

This is the 2nd race I’ve done that has had free photos and that’s a great perk.  I obviously wasn’t paying attention to the camera since I’m totally concentrating lol but I’m happy to have the photos to commemorate the race.

2104, Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, Ventura Beach, California

I’ve been lucky to run all over the country on my journey to 20 half marathons and this was one of the best, because I got to do it with friends :).

Marathon Training: Run the Strip at Night: Weeks 3 – 5

September has been quite a month.  I ended August and started September with 10 days of travel. I’ve been extremely fortunate to get to travel a lot in my life, but I was in 5 states in 7 days (2 twice) and as you can imagine, that’s a lot of grimy airplanes and lots of germs plus with back to back work events my immune system just couldn’t take it and I ended up with a cold.  My training suffered a bit, but week 5 ended up being awesome.

So here’s a quick recap of how things have been going the last 3 weeks:

When we left off, I was still in San Diego and having a great time visiting over the Labor Day holiday weekend.  San Diego has been unusually hot every time I’ve visited this year, I’m not sure if I’m bringing the hot weather from Phoenix or if it’s just a coincidence 😉 lol.

Sep 1 – 7


Mon: 45 Min run Actual: 40:10, 4 miles, 10:03 avg pace.  We went out around 2pm and it was HOT!!!  I never run during the day like that and it really hits me hard being in the sun like that.  Afterwards, because we are extreme overachievers, we hiked to the top of Cowles Mountain, which is about 1,500 ft up and then ran down.  Love the downhill!!

Tues: Supposed to be a 30 min easy run Actual: Rest Day  I took the red-eye to Nashville for a work event

Wed: Rest Day due to travel Actual: lots of walking

Thu: 30 min run – Actual: 60:32, 6.12 mi, 9:53 avg pace.  One of the great things about these work events is getting to run with some of my co-workers that live in other states, we always go out and check out the city on foot 🙂  These runs are always fun and a great way to see the city (esp. since that is really the only time we have to explore since the meetings go late)


Fri: 20 min easy run – Actual: 25 min, 2.98 mi, 8:23 avg pace.  I only had a short amount of time but the others I ran with wanted a minimum of 3 miles so we pushed hard and did a super fast 3 (my nikeplus was a little off).  I woke up with a sore throat and a bit of congestion but pushed thru drinking cup after cup of hot green tea.  I had to finish up event day #2 and then fly to CA that evening.

Lots and lots of hot tea
Lots and lots of hot tea
Trying to keep from getting sick with some emergenC
Trying to keep from getting sick with some emergenC

Sat: Rest Day – Actual: lots and lots of walking all over Ventura Beach, CA with my friends and a lot of sleep, I couldn’t really hear out of my right ear because of congestion and I was exhausted but not super sick feeling

Sun: Ventura Beach Marathon (Half Marathon) Recap coming later this week!!


Sep 8 – 14

Mon: Well deserved rest day – this was the day Phoenix flooded lol – so so so much rain and I ended up working a half day from home before attempting to venture in to work because we had more events starting that evening

Tues: 45 min run, 10 min warm-up, 3 miles at 9:15 pace, cool down – Actual: 3 miles, 43:51, 14:37 avg pace – super tight calves, lots of walking, in fact I think I walked most of this

Wed: 30 min easy run – Actual: attempted Tuesday’s workout: 46:06, 4.5 miles, 10:15 avg pace.  Calves were still tight and I felt really lethargic, it really was all I could do to finish this workout.

Thu: 45 min track session – Actual: Rest Day

Fri: 30 min easy run – Actual: Sick Day (Rest Day)

sick day, resting, watching tv & hanging with the kitties
sick day, resting, watching tv & hanging with the kitties

Sat: 1hr 54 min 12 mile run – Actually overslept I still wasn’t feeling 100%

Sun: attempted my long run – ended up with 1hr 33 min, 9 miles, 10:21 avg pace.  Not a fun run at all, I was definitely not 100%, probably not even 75% but I did the best I could.

Sep 15 – 21

Mon: 45 min run 10 min warm up, 3 mi 9:15 pace cool down – Actual: 47:09, 4.69 miles, 10:03 avg pace – Ugh, this run was so so hot – I think my Garmin said it was 99 degrees!!  I switched back to my Newton Distance and my legs did feel a bit better

Tues: 40 min, 4.3 mi – Actual: 32:24, 4 miles, 8:06 avg pace!! Where did that come from??  I hit a PR in the 5k during this run and it felt awesome.  75 min PT session to have my calves work on before might have helped a bit 😉


Wed: 30 min, easy 3 miles – Actual: 26:41, 3 miles, 8:54 avg pace. OMG so many mosquitos! I can’t wait for my nice dry Arizona air to come back.

Thu: 45 min on the bike & 30 min strength training – Actual: 30 min on the bike 9.5 miles & 30 min strength training (2×12 10 Nautilus machines, 50 burpees)

Fri: 30 min run – Actual: Rest Day

Sat: 2hr 22 min 15 miles – Actual: 2hr 25 min, 15.1 miles, 9:36 avg pace.  I was doing great on this run and totally would have hit my number, but somehow I ended up eating it around 13.5.  I have no idea what happened but thank goodness, I only have a few battle scars and no permanent damage or a broken iPhone 6 (I had just gotten it the night before).

runner problems - totally wiped out 13.5 mi in :(
runner problems – totally wiped out 13.5 mi in 🙁

Sun: Rest Day – Actual: Rest Day with a bit more walking than normal

All in all these past three weeks have been kind of up and down, I’m not sure how I pulled out the Tuesday super fast run, but it has helped with my running confidence quite a bit.  I’m looking forward to the next week and keeping up the good runs.  I think we all know that they all can’t be good, but when you are in a rut with a lot of runs that aren’t going to plan, it can get incredibly frustrating.  8 more weeks to Vegas!!


Post Run Eats: Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro San Diego

When I was in San Diego for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, Pete & I had seen an ad for Eclipse Chocolate in the San Diego Dining magazine and it looked amazing, so after looking at the website we decided to hit it up.  I went a second time over Labor Day weekend and this review shares a bit of both visits.  Seeing as I’m addicted to dessert this is so totally like Willy Wonka’s for a sweets loving foodie like myself.

From their website: Our Mission- To craft premium artisan foods & confections with a unique culinary perspective while maintaining sustainable & ethical operations that support our local community.

It’s very unique in the fact that the founder was originally a sculptor before starting to hand make exotic chocolates, not a traditional chef background.

They are a Silver Fork winner for 2013 from San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.

The unique thing about all their food is that everything is infused with chocolate, vanilla and/or caramel.  All food is made from scratch with all natural ingredients.  They have vegan & gluten free options.  They have a good selection of alcoholic beverages as well, but I rarely drink, and would much rather a drinking chocolate at a place like this :).

Eclipse Chocolate, Menu, Brunch, foodie, san diego, california

Both times I’ve visited have been on Sundays and they have an awesome brunch so I always go with the tasting trio, for $20, which allows you to choose one entree and then 2 options from the sides, soup & salad & dessert options.  There are a lot of different options to choose from.

Both times, I started off with a Soy Salted Dulce de Leche drinking chocolate (31% white) which came with home made marshmallows.  My dining companion tried a Soy Double Dark Cocoa (61% dark).  Both were AMAZING!!

Eclipse Chocolate, Drinking Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Double Dark Chocolate, San Diego, California

For my entree on my first visit I selected the farm house eggs & bacon, which was 2 eggs, brown sugar glazed bacon and buttermilk toast with orange peel, vanilla bean butter and for one of my sides, sea salted fried red potato wedges with a chile burnt caramel hollandaise with serrano sea salt & chives (I had the hollandaise on the side). The potatoes are Vegan & Gluten Free.

breakfast, farm house eggs, brown sugar bacon, buttermilk toast, orange peel vanilla butter, sea salt, potatoes, eclipse chocolate, san diego, california

On my second visit, I chose the Avocado Benedict, which was the best benedict I’ve ever had.  I will clarify though, I’m not a huge fan of hollandaise sauce so I did get it on the side. From the menu: buttermilk toast+hickory salted avocado+soft poach egg+chile burnt caramel hollandaise.

My dining companion chose the Buttermilk Pancakes in Blueberry Maple Bacon flavor, OMG!!! AMAZING!! There were blueberries & pieces of bacon all thru the vanilla buttermilk pancakes with roasted white chocolate as well. There was an amazing maple topping a little bit of orange peel butter.

Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, California, Blueberry Maple Bacon Pancakes, Brunch Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, California, Avocado benedict, brunch

For my second side, I had the Bleu Cheese Pecan salad, baby greens, dried cranberry, point reyes bleu cheese, chile spiced pecans & a vanilla vinaigrette.  I love a good salad and this was definitely a good one.  The vanilla vinaigrette really complimented the other flavors.

The other salad was Beet & Green Apple.  Again, I’m not a huge fan of beets but the flavors all mixed together were really complimentary.  My only complaint on this one would be that there was way too much cheese.  From the menu: baby greens+roasted beet+herbed chevre+candied cocoa nib+vanilla vinaigrette

Eclipse chocoate, san diego, california, beet & green apple salad, bleu cheese pecan salad

On my second visit, we decided to make sure we had room for dessert, my favorite, and since I hadn’t just raced, it wasn’t all about having food as fuel like the previous visit after the race.

I love Peanut Butter and decided to try the Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse, milk chocolate peanut butter mousse+brownie crust+vanilla creme fraiche+serrano sea salt. This is not for the faint of heart, it’s super super rich and oh so peanut buttery.  We both took a bite of this and thought that nothing could beat it, however, the churros, where freaking amazing.  Warm, buttery and covered in cinnamon sugar, they literally melted in your mouth.  I tried them with the 2 sauces, one was chocolate and the other was maybe strawberry rhubarb? I can’t remember exactly. But really, I’m a purist and the churros were absolutely amazing on their own.

Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, California, Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse, Dessert, Foodie, Brunch Eclipse Chocolate, Brunch, San Diego, California, churros, foodie

Eclipse wasn’t that close to downtown, from what I could tell, but I’m not super familiar with San Diego, but the website says it is in the South Park area of the city.  It wasn’t overly crowded either time I went and we didn’t make it there until at least 11am, so unlike some of the other areas of town.

If you like unique food & local venues, I totally recommend Eclipse and I can’t wait to go back and try something new next time I’m in San Diego.

Question: Have you ever tried incorporating sweet flavors into more savory dishes?

Marathon Training: Run the Strip at Night: Week 2

Wow, was this really just week 2?  So much happened this week that it seems like a lot longer.  My grandfather passed away one week ago today, so I flew out to Pennsylvania on Wednesday for the viewing & funeral, as you can imagine, it was quite a stressful time.  Then I headed out to San Diego for the weekend and returned to Phoenix last night so it’s been a whirlwind of a week, that’s for sure.

Training, as you can imagine when you are traveling, especially for events such as a funeral, it can be hard to get in your work-outs.  I did the best I could and for the most part, the only thing that really suffered was my long run on Saturday, going back and forth between 3 times zones is killer on the body.

Monday – 45 min moderate effort run – Actual: 5 miles 45:38 9:08 average pace

Tuesday – leg strengthening exercises, Yoga – Actual: 50 burpees with plank & superman between sets of 10, yoga

Wednesday – Tempo run, warm up, 25 min at 8:30 pace, 10 min cool down – Actual: 1 mile on an ancient treadmill in my aunt’s basement, I started to smell burnt plastic so I decided to move to the Gazelle 😉 which was a surprisingly good workout, 5 miles

Working it out on the Gazelle & my dad totally photobombed me lol
Working it out on the Gazelle & my dad totally photobombed me lol
The Old School Treadmill
The Old School Treadmill

Thursday – cross training, yoga – Actual: 37:33, 4 miles, 9:23 average pace hill workout in the PA hills, over 300 feet of elevation and it was warm with the sun beating down mid afternoon

PA Hills
PA Hills

Friday – 1 hour moderate effort run – Actual: Unscheduled Rest Day (Funeral & Travel to PIT to fly to SD)

Saturday – 2hr 15 min 15 min warm-up, 6.5 miles at 9:15 pace, finish easy effort – Actual: total fail on this run, after getting up at 3am EST, flying to the west coast, hitting up the beach at Coronado Island, I just wasn’t able to make it more than 5.1 miles, 50 min, 9:48 avg pace.

Coronado Island, San Diego, California, Run Coronado Island, San Diego, Seen on our run, California, sunset

Sunday – Rest Day – Actual: 58:57, 6.25 miles 9:26 avg pace – A nice night run by Mission Bay – I like this run, but it’s super dark in spots so we had a head lamp and I wouldn’t run this alone

Mission Bay, San Diego, California, Night Run
Night run on Mission Bay

All in all it was a surprisingly good week.  I’ve still got to figure out how to knock out a better long run, but it’s coming, I’ll get there :).