Race Recap: Vancouver USA Marathon

Sean & I headed up to the Pacific Northwest to run the Vancouver USA Marathon for my 10th marathon.  This was my first visit to this area, I’ve been to Seattle for Rock n’Roll in 2013 but I’ve never been to Portland & southern Washington.

We headed up on Friday night, and after a long flight delay, we finally made it to our hotel around 1am.  We hit up the expo early on Saturday morning right as the skies opened up.  We hung out in the car for a few minutes before braving the weather to pick up our bibs.


The expo was interesting, it is in conjunction with a Brewfest, which didn’t mean much to us, since we don’t drink, but that took up half the expo area.  The actual expo was mostly local companies, I don’t recall seeing any recognizable companies.

This was a pretty small race, there were only 459 marathon finishers and a little over 1100 half marathon finishers. Bib numbers were listed on the website.  Sean & I were 227 – 228.  We grabbed our bibs and then walked through the expo to get our shirts & a goodie bag which was at the exit.

We got blue marathon shirts, a bag full of snacks, laundry detergent and some pamphlets.  We took a few photos by the VUM sign and the 5k finish line before heading out.

We got in a quick shake-out run by the river later that afternoon.  This run did not go well for me, I was having some pain in my lower abs and my calves were sooo tight.  I jogged or rather walked most of these 2 miles.


We had a traditional Italian dinner at Mamma Mia, lasagna for me & linguine carbonara for Sean before heading back to the hotel.  I was so exhausted, I took my flat Jenny photo(s) but totally fell asleep before I posted it, oops.


The race didn’t start until 7am and it was only 15 minutes from our hotel so we got up at around 5:30ish I think and then left the hotel about 6:10a.  We got there around 6:30a, found a parking spot on the street just down from the start.  There were a bunch of lots for parking but since were there so early (and the half marathoners didn’t start until 9a) there was plenty of street parking.

First thing we did was head over to the port-a-potties.  Coincidentally, and this was really not cool on their part, there was a guy there cleaning the port-a-potties as we were all trying to use them.  With 450 marathoners and less than 20 minutes until the start, that really wasn’t a great time to be setting things up.  I feel like that was a major fail on the part of the race.

But regardless, we did our business and then dropped our gear off before heading to the start area.  Based on my run the day before, I wasn’t sure how my race was going to go. However we had a nice little bonus with temps that were much cooler than we are used to at the start so I figured I’d give it a go and see what happened.


So I turned on my Aftershokz so I could listen to my audio book and I took off with the 4:30 pace group.  I quickly moved up and ended up running near the 4:15 group for the next 8 miles.  In looking at my splits I ran the first 9 miles at sub 10 min paces, which considering my lack of speedwork, I’m pretty happy about.  It might not be fast for some, but for me it was a nice consistent pace.  One day, I’ll will run the whole race at this speed :).

The first half of the race was an out and back west of the city.  It was flat and really pretty for most of this section.  The only thing that was a bit odd was that we were on the side of the road for the majority of this part of the race with cars able to come down both sides of the road in some sections.  But I guess with it being a pretty small race it wasn’t a huge deal.  We had a short area where we went through a small patch of gravel trail and then on to little bit of a nicely paved path.

I spent this time listening to my audio book and trying to keep up with the group.  At mile 7 I think they must have sped up because I was still around the same pace.  I hung on until mile 10 when I had to refill my water bottle.  I was so thirsty.  I added in my mix to the bottle and continued on.  I think this is probably when I started taking walk breaks as this mile was quite a bit slower than the previous ones.  Although, part of that is the aid station stop to refill.

So I continued on at a slightly slower speed but I hit the halfway point at about 2:06.  By this point my Garmin was off by about .2 miles so I’m not sure what I did, because Sean was only off .01.  I’ve been to races before when this has happened and it’s made up by the end so I wasn’t sure where exactly I was.

Once we hit mile 14 there were a few hills, in the scheme of things they were very minor, but after 13 flat miles, they felt like mountains, lol.  It was also around this point that we met up with the half marathoners.  By the time I got there, I was met with a lot of walkers, I trudged on, walking if needed up the hills, passing the 3:00hr pace group.

One nice thing about this race was that the half marathoners started 2 hours behind us at 9am so when we got to the half way point, unlike in other races where the marathoners are all by themselves, we had the half marathoners to keep us company.  That was a pretty cool idea especially since the first 13 miles were separate from the half course.

I was still so thirsty, so I refilled my bottle with just water around mile 14 or so, the girl was a little stingy with the water but I was able to get a pretty full bottle.  I only had one more bag of my calorie mix so I waited until I got further along to use it.  I really think if I’d had an extra bag, it would have made all the difference.

I think it was around mile 17/18 as we were heading downhill, the 4:30 pace group passed me.  I was kind of disappointed but I just kept chugging along. At this point I was mostly run walking until I got to mile 19 – 20 when I started to feel a bit sick from the lack of calories and I know from my times that I was walking a lot more during this part.  There also was more climbing in these miles.

I refilled my bottle once more and then just kept run/walking, passing a lot of half marathoners.  I heard one guy saying that they were looking at about a 2:30 half and I kept looking at my watch trying to figure out how much time I had in order to still PR, even by a small amount.

Time was going faster and faster and I was going slower, having another hiccup around mile 22 with the sick feeling.  I started running only to feel like I threw up a little in mouth, YUCK! so I had to back it down again.  At the next aid station, I got some Gatorade and that helped.

This section was really pretty, we were on a nice path by the water before we headed inland again.  I noticed as we got to miles 24 – 26 that the half marathon mile markers started getting further away from the marathon mile markers.  I wasn’t sure what was going on and being so close to my PR time, I was confused as to if I was even going to be anywhere near it because of the mixed up mile markers.

I finally made it to the last aid station, probably less than a half mile from the finish, but I didn’t realize that because the 12 mile marker was right before it, there was another hill of course, lol.  I looked down and saw 4:34 on my watch and was like where did the time go – I guess I hadn’t been watching as closely as I should have.  I grabbed some more water and kept moving, heading down a slight descent and then making a turn trying to pick it up because I was almost there.  Unfortunately I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted to because the sick feeling came back so I just kept moving, finally turning the corner and seeing the finish line, I ran across, arms high to Bart Yasso congratulating me by saying my name and where I was from.

The time on the clock was just over 4:36 minutes and once I had the official results, I knew I missed a PR by 25 seconds.  Of course initially, I was disappointed, for about a minute and then I was super happy to even have gotten that close.

I don’t talk about my times very often, just in the context of the race, but not on a daily basis, mostly because I run a lot of slow miles in training, which is good for my endurance and staying injury free.  But I haven’t had a sub 5 hour marathon since LA Marathon 2015, 15 months ago.  Which is why even though I was 25 seconds away, I’m not upset or really that disappointed, because this race gave me back my marathon confidence.

With no formal training plan and no nutrition plan I ran 25 seconds slower than my PR, which I ran after following a very specific training plan, with a coach, and an incredibly clean diet for 6 months.  The fact that I was able to get close without doing those things was a huge boost to me.

I trained for this race by running longer races, back to back semi long run and a lot of miles, including my biggest (ever) mileage month of 175 miles last month.  Since March, I’ve run 11 races, including 2 50k’s and my first 50 mile race along with logging a lot of trail miles.  It wasn’t a traditional training plan by any ones standards, but I think it worked for me.

Vancouver USA Marathon, Expo, Marathon

Now back to the race.  They gave my medal to Sean, who gave me a kiss and put the medal around my neck.  My legs were so sore, but from the inside, it was almost like they were seizing up because I had stopped.

We took a few photos but I needed food.  They had mini Jamba Juice smoothies, corn thins, fritos or other chips, bottles of Coconut water & gatorade, bananas and Kashi granola bars.  We grabbed a few snacks and then headed over to the park so I could sit down for a few minutes.

After a few minutes of walking around and sitting, my legs felt a lot better and I was walking normally again.  We took a few more quick photos and then headed back to the hotel to clean up & eat!!

Overall, I would say that this is a very well run race.  They were organized and outside the port-a-pottie & half marathon mile marker issues I think everything went really smoothly.

I’ve written about it before that I’m not a huge fan of small races preferring to have more spectator support & people around, but I didn’t feel like this at this race.  I know it’s not feasible in most races to have the half marathoners start 2 hours later, but I really thought this was an awesome idea.

Overall, I enjoyed this race and I would recommend it for those who want a beautiful, smaller race.

Doughnut or Donut: Portland Edition

I was super excited to go to Portland for the Vancouver USA Marathon and one of the reasons for that is that I’ve always heard about Portland’s foodie scene.  I love food and trying new things.

We didn’t have an opportunity to try as much as I would have liked because we had so much to fit into our 3 days, but we did have time to try both Voodoo Doughnuts & Blue Star Donuts.

A lot of people have heard of Voodoo Doughnuts.  With lines that can go down the block, they are known for their outrageous, crazy flavors & sizes.

We went to the Original, Voodoo Doughnut One on 3rd Avenue in Downtown Portland.  Sean had been there before and we made it our very first stop (after a stop at Barista, which is just down the street, for some coffee).  As we were walking down the street, he was like oh, good the line isn’t too bad.  There was a line, but we only waited maybe around 15-20 minutes.  Of course we realized as we were in line that it was cash only so once we got inside, Sean headed to the ATM while I waited in line.

Voodoo Doughnut, Portland, OR

There are over 90 different doughnuts on the menu so it was a challenge to choose.  They all look so cool, but ultimately we decided on the following:  Maple Bacon, Memphis Mafia & the Old Dirty Bastard.

Voodoo Doughnut, Maple Bacon, doughnut, Portland, OR

Maple Bacon bar doughnut
Raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top!

The Maple Bacon was my favorite of the 3.  Always a great combination, I was surprised at how crisp and crunchy the bacon was, just like we like our bacon, but it didn’t just fall apart.

Memphis Mafia doughnut
Fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top!

Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, OR, Memphis Mafia

The Memphis Mafia is HUGE! Seriously, look at it, it’s almost as big as my head!! I was impressed with this fritter type doughnut.  The banana wasn’t overpowering, the dough was moist and not the toppings weren’t overly sweet.  I really thought I would be biting into a sugar bomb and that wasn’t the case at all.

Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, OR, doughnuts, maple bacon, memphis mafia, dirty old bastard

Old Dirty Bastard doughnut
Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo’s™ and peanut butter!

This was probably my least favorite of the 3.  I again was surprised that it wasn’t overly sweet, but I thought it was kind of blah, nothing to write home about.

After posting about our Voodoo visit, we were told that Blue Star was where all the locals go and since we saw it on our way to Vancouver on Saturday we knew exactly were it was so we could try them out too.

We made our way to Blue Star on Monday morning before heading over to Mt. Hood for the day.  Blue Star is different from Voodoo in a lot of ways.  First off, there wasn’t a line, second, their display is super clean and you are in the kitchen where you can watch them preparing the donuts.  I thought I had a photo I could share but I couldn’t find it in my photo album.  Lastly, they accept credit cards, while Voodoo is cash only.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR

From the Blue Star website: Our donuts are made from a classic brioche recipe that originated in the south of France. The dough takes 18 hours to make and is made from scratch every day; we start with a sustainable bread flour from Shepherds Grain, add cage free eggs, whole hormone-free milk, and then fold in a European-style butter. Our donuts, glazes, and fillings are made fresh throughout the day, and we only cook our donuts in rice oil. Selections change daily and sell out quickly.

Because I lost my photo of the display case and they don’t keep their donut list on their website, I’m hoping I got the flavors correct. I scoured their Instagram for the flavors. First off, they are a much more modern, clean and artisan style of donut where as the Voodoo doughnut is a more in your face and crazy.  It was hard to choose, but ultimately we went with the following 4 different types and flavors.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Blueberry bourbon basil, donut

Blueberry, Bourbon, Basil – Sean asked about which donut was the best seller and we were told this one was.  I feel like this was more cake donut than brioche like the Raspberry Rosemary below but I might be wrong, since there was frosting on it, it was hard to tell.  But it was definitely tasty.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Peanut Butter & Jelly, donut

Peanut Butter & Jelly – I had to try this one because I love PB.  This was I believe a raspberry or maybe blackberry (I can’t remember) filled with peanut butter powder and I believe a little cayenne pepper.  There was definitely a little kick in the back of my throat with this one.  Super yummy, I enjoyed this one.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Hard Apple Cider Fritter

Hard Cider Apple Fritter – I like apple fritters so I picked this for our fourth choice.  Made with apples, cinnamon and raisins and a nice glaze it was good, but in comparison to the others, it was probably our least favorite.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Raspberry Rosemary, Donut

Raspberry & Rosemary – Sean also asked the guy helping us what his favorite was and he pointed to this one.  We were super lucky to get to try one that was still warm.  This was by far our favorite, warm and crunchy on outside while still remaining soft inside with a super yummy raspberry glaze.

After hearing about these amazing doughnuts and donuts which do you think was my favorite?

Drum roll please…

They were both good, but I have to say Blue Star was by far my favorite and the place I would recommend to anyone.  I think you have to try Voodoo because of what it is, a destination, the maple bacon was yummy, but for an amazing & unique artisan creation, I’d pick Blue Star every time.

Have you been to Portland and gone to Voodoo &/or Blue Star?  Which is your favorite?

Review: Bull & Cleaver Biltong & Chili Bites

The nice people at Bull & Cleaver gave me the opportunity to try out two of their products, Bitlong & Chili Bites in exchange for this review.

When I first heard them say Biltong I didn’t know what that was, I’ve heard of and eaten different types of jerky, but I haven’t heard of Biltong before. But being a foodie, I googled briefly, found something that looked tasty, read a little about it and then was like uh Yum!

Bull and Cleaver Biltong

So then what is Biltong?  From the Bull & Cleaver website:

Biltong is a form of seasoned dried meat similar to jerky made exclusively from fine cuts of all beef steak. Even though biltong and jerky are both dried meats, there are a few differences that give biltong a fuller and more flavorful taste preferred by carnivores and omnivores all over the world. It really all comes down to how these two dried meats are prepared.

Biltong originates in South Africa and involves a specific recipe and process, whereas jerky has its origins in North America and has had a mixed reputation over the last couple years. Jerky is a dehydrated meat usually cut into small pieces dried in a dehydrator or oven and flavoured with sugar based sauces and marinades. Biltong on the other hand is air dried for a minimum of 7 days and always starts with a full cut of steak which encourages an aging process that gives the meat its unique flavor. The process of making biltong also includes seasoning the meat in vinegar and rubbing it spices such as pepper and coriander to bring out all of the delectable flavors of the meat. 

One of the benefits of air drying and the simple use of spices is that biltong retains more protein, contains less salt and uses no preservatives.

The Biltong has a very meaty yet mild taste, it’s lightly seasoned with vinegar, salt, coriander & black pepper and is incredibly high in protein.  One 4 oz bag has only 320 calories, 60g protein, 10g fat & no carbohydrates.  It reminds me of a beef proscuitto.

Let me tell you, I’m a little sad I only have one bag, I seriously could have eaten it all in one sitting but I’ve been good & only eating a little bit here and there to save it.

I also got a bag of Chili Bites, which also taste amazing with a little spicy bite, but I did feel like they were a bit tougher to eat.

Bull and Cleaver Chili Bites

The Chili Bites are made from beef, salt, coriander, black pepper, red pepper, chili powder, garlic, paprika, onion, tumeric.

For a quick, tasty and protein filled snack, Biltong is definitely something that I’ll be reaching for.

Want to try Bull & Cleaver’s products for yourself?  Head over to their website and you can get 15% off using code RUNNER.  And let me know what you think.

Have you ever tried Biltong?

Race Recap: SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half Marathon

When our friend Matt from Athlete IQ asked me if I was interested in running this race, I thought it would be a fun time and a good way to get in another longish run for my marathon on June 19 & a second birthday race :).  Athlete IQ and Paul Jesse from Off Road Pursuits gave me an entry to the race.

This was the 5th year for the SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half & 5k.  Paul Jesse is the race director and he is a fellow Orange Mud Ambassador, local San Diego runner and race director for the San Diego 50 mile & trail marathon that we did back in January.

A few days before the race Paul asked Sean if he could help volunteer because someone backed out so we headed up near Temecula to Vail Lake early so we could help out at packet pick-up.  Temecula is about 70-80 minutes from us so we would need to leave around 4:30a to get there by 5:45a to help out.

The day before I had a few extra bottles of juice and tried to hydrate/eat the best I could.  I headed to bed at a decent hour after posting my flat Jenny photo to be up by 3:45a to get ready.


On the way to the race, I ate a container of instant oatmeal and drank some water.  We made it there by 5:45a and immediately headed over to see where they needed us.  I got my bib first and then helped Sean & Carrie Jesse hand out bibs and race shirts until it was time for our race to start.

Start Line Photo

The half marathon started at 7:00a and it was mandatory to pick up your bib before 6:45a.  We all gathered around for a quick briefing and then we off.

From step one my legs were not happy.  I was having a lot of issues with pain in the glutes and hamstrings. I kept waiting to warm up and have the discomfort go away.

The weather was a bit humid and very overcast.  While I didn’t have the best of races, the course was beautiful.  There were a lot of little hills but it was a very runable course.  I kept thinking that Sean would love these trails.

After a few miles I would start hiking the hills and then running the downhill & flats as much as I could.

There were a three aid stations on course we hit twice. I remember joking with Scott Mills (SD 100 Race Director) that I needed new legs when he asked me what I needed at mile 6.

After a few miles heading back the way we came, we eventually hit the lake and were treated to some amazing views.  I ran as much of the downhill as I could before we hit a steep uphill to an aid station, which I hiked up.


I finished strong and crossed the line in 2:41, which for a trail half and the fact that my legs were just shot from mile 1, I was pretty happy to just finish in a decent time.

I came up to the finish line, saw Sean and was like uh, where’s the camera lol.  He ran over and grabbed it so he could get a few shots of me crossing the finish.

Flat Jenny SoCal Women's Half

He then gave my medal, which our friend Eric made, which is super cool.

I got changed, enjoyed some orange slices & a half of a subway sandwich and then helped Sean hand out medals and wine glasses.

Swag: An awesome purple T-shirt, medal, wine glass, post race food & wine sample.


Medal: From Elevation Culture


Course: A challenging but runable course around Vail Lake

Price: It was $90 for the half marathon and I don’t recall the price of the 5k

Photos: They had a photographer on course and at the finish line.  And they offered a code for one free photo.

All in all it was a great time and I think that Paul and Carrie did a great job putting it on.  I would definitely check this one out again, preferably with fresher legs ;).

Race Recap: San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon 2016

Two weekends ago, Sean & I ran the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon & Half Marathon.  This was my 4th time running this race & Sean’s 5th.  If you would like to read my recaps from 2014 & 2015, click on the years.

AND…Rock n’Roll has a special place in our hearts because we met the day before the 2104 race.

This year though was a bit different in that Sean was going to run the San Diego 100 the two days before Rock n’ Roll.  We also were training with some of his co-workers for their first marathon.

So the lead-up to the race was a bit different than normal since we would be out in Julian/Lake Cuyamaca for the majority of the 2 days prior to the race.  As soon as we finished up at SD 100, I drove us back to San Diego, with a Jamba Juice pit stop and then on to the expo.

I dropped Sean off, paid $15 to park in the lot behind the convention center and then ran to meet him.  We got our bibs, saw our friend Adrian, realized that we needed to deal with parking, so we stood in line to buy parking & shuttle passes, and then I made him walk around the expo so we could collect as many goodies as possible.

Expo, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon

Rock n’ Roll actually had a lot more swag in the bag this year than normal.  We got Kashi cereal, Smarty Pants Vitamins, Hidden Valley salad dressing and some laundry detergent in addition to our race shirts.

After the expo we headed home to shower and relax, we actually decided not to sleep until after dinner and so at 4pm we walked into Olive Garden for a tasty dinner before bed.  While Sean slept I got our bottles ready and did my flat Jenny photo.

we run social, procompression, waves, Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon, Flat Runner, Flat Jenny

The next morning, we got up at 3:45am and were out the door by 4:20am, it’s a quick drive for us to downtown and we would just take the 94 straight to the parking lot.  It literally took less than 30 minutes and then we were on the shuttle to start.  I’m pretty sure we were at the start by 5am, which is probably a record for us.

Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon

We always hit up the port-a-potties as soon as we get there because with 30,000 people the lines can get pretty long!  Then we ran into 2 of our training partners, Miguel & Kaela.  We, of course, had to snap a photo and then I needed to drop off my bag.

Trainees, Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon

As per usual, Rock n’ Roll and UPS partner up for the race and we dropped my bag off.  I don’t typically put much in the bag, but I know that this race has a tendency to be very humid and I’m normally soaked by the end so I like to bring a change of clothes since I have to wait for Sean to finish the marathon.

Friends, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon

We ran into Smitha & Jenn by gear check and then we ran into Brian, Michael & Andrea on the way to the starting area.  We were going to do some photos with my fellow ProCompression ambassadors a bit before the race.  We all wore the June sock of the month, the waves, to the race.

we run social, procompression, waves, Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon

we run social, procompression, waves, Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon, keep it tight, socks

Sean was scheduled to be in corral 2, I was in corral 13 but since I was with all the other ambassadors, we all started together, I believe it was in corral 4.  It was fun being with a sea of waves lol.  I started out with them and then Kristin (StuftMama) took some photos out on the course.

we run social, procompression, waves, Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon, keep it tight, socks

I was running with Megan for a while before I lost her at the first aid station.  After that I just plodded along.  I was feeling ok, but as we continued on, my head was getting hotter and hotter.  And it wasn’t hot necessarily, but very humid.  I started dumping water on my head at about mile 3 and when I saw someone with ice, I grabbed it, opened the bag and dumped it in my hat and down my shirt.

I have to say the that the first 6 miles when pretty quickly and I was surprised to see we were already at the relay exchange point.

Meb, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon

The course was a bit different at the beginning than it has been for the last 2 years.  I’m not sure I liked it.  It was a lot hillier than either I or Sean remembered.

So I just continued on until we were finally at my favorite part, heading down Pershing towards the finish.  This I believe is mile 11, then there is a little climb at the start and end of mile 12 before we finish on a downhill.  Personally, I wasn’t super impressed by the course.  I have to say the SD Half course was a lot prettier even with the crazy Washington St climb, this course on the other hand was almost all through the city.

I made the last short climb and then we had a nice downhill to the finish.  I smiled for the camera and raised my hands for a cool finish photo and then I was done.  I think I finished around 2:12, which I was happy with.

I got my medal and all my snacks before heading down to the Finish Line Festival which was near the harbor.  It was kind of a walk and I desperately wanted my bag so I could get changed because I was soaked.  I think I asked a half a dozen people where to find the bags because it wasn’t marked anywhere.  I would have loved to have had signs telling me where things were.

we run social, procompression, waves, Start Line, San Diego Rock n Roll, RNRSD, Half Marathon, Marathon, Medal Monday

I finally got my bag, I had thrown Sean’s bag in there too so I could put my wet clothes in a different bag separate from all my snacks.

After changing, I checked my phone to see how Sean was doing and saw he had run a 1:53!! half marathon – almost 20 minutes faster than me even after a 100 miles the day before.  WOW!

By the time I made it back up to the finish I saw Michael & Andrea so I congratulated them & chatted for a few minutes before heading up to see Smitha & Jenn come cross.  By this point I saw that Sean had passed the 20 mile mark so after a few photos & cheering for Smitha I headed over to the marathon side of the street.  They had the finish lines split so that the marathoners and half marathoners were on different sides.

I hung out there for a bit maybe 35-40 minutes before I saw Sean’s pink shirt coming down the street.  He was right next to this other guy who was trying to race Sean lol so I didn’t get the best of photos.

And then he was done!!  I was so freaking proud of him for a sub 4 hour finish after a tough & hot 100 miler.  And surprisingly one of his friends, Chris, also ran both races and they finished pretty close together.

Post Race Photo

We walked down to the finish so Sean could get his marathon finisher jacket, a few free bottles of Suja and then lunch.  We were going to go over to the We Run Social event at the Hard Rock Hotel but we had to wait for the team to come in and by the time they had finished it was pretty late to walk over.

We made it up to the finish in time to see Chelsey finish, we chatted with her for a bit and then probably about 20 minutes later we saw Miguel & Kaela and a few minutes later Zibby came through too.  It was pretty exciting see them at the finish of their first marathon.  And it was interesting how differently they all felt afterwards :).

We met up with them for a few photos and then we headed home so we could rest and relax the rest of the day (it was already after 2pm and we still had to walk back to our car).

All in all, Rock n’ Roll SD is a great party and a fun time.  While I don’t love the course, I do think they do a great job of organizing this event.

Things they improved upon from last year: The shuttles & parking were sooooo much better.  I really liked the finish line festival down by the harbor, everything was together vs at Petco Park.


San Diego 100 2016

San Diego 100 is a race that Sean has run the past 2 years and since it is a local race it’s nice and easy for to crew.

For 2016 they moved the race from Sat-Sun to Fri-Sat, so I took the day off work to crew & volunteer.  For the most part, we had cell service, except at Pioneer Mail so I could have worked remotely, but with all the driving from place to place it’s easier just not to deal with it.

This year I decided to volunteer as well as crew so I asked my friends at Running Skirts if I could be a part of their team at the first aid station, at the Paso Picacho Campgrounds.

So Sean & I got up early on Friday morning to head over to Lake Cuyamaca for the start of the race.  We got there in plenty of time, got one of the last parking spots in the lot and then walked over so Sean could get his packet.

Obligatory pre-race selfie

Along the way we chatted with other runners who either know Sean from other races or us both.

We said Hi to Cindy & Fern, Cindy would finish 3rd female in her first 100 mile race in just under 23 hours!!  We chatted with a bunch of our other runner friends and then eventually it was time for the race to start.

runner friends, sd100, 2016

The race director, Scotty Mills, talked a lot about how it was going to be extremely hot, up to 108 in some areas, and how important it was to be hydrated and to take it easy.  He really stressed that they wanted everyone to get back safely.  And then after a few more comments it was time and they were off!

And then Fern & I headed quickly over to Paso Picacho to join Christy and the other volunteers to get things set up for the runners.  Christy & Cindy own Running Skirts and they generously gave all the volunteers full outfits to wear, as well as giving their cooling buffs to all the runners.  Sean wears their buffs every race so we can attest to how well they work.

Running Skirts, Volunteer, SD 100, Paso Picacho

Not too long after arriving, our friends Kat & Matt came over as well, Kat & I got a few photos and then got to work.

Running Skirts, Volunteer, SD 100, Paso Picacho

The first aid station is a busy one because it’s only 7.5 miles from the start and everyone is still relatively close together.  The cut-off is 2.5 hours.

We got the food set out, we made PB&J, cut up salted potatoes, watermelon, frozen grapes, etc.  We filled containers with water and tailwind.  And then took the tags off the cooling buffs and put them in a cooler full of ice water.

Not long after that the runners started coming.  It was slow to start and then Bam! they were coming fast and furious.  I was filling water bottles and directing people to the other side for Tailwind & ice.  We were all moving like crazy trying to get everyone out and on their way.

It went pretty smoothly and we got everyone off quickly and safely, with the last runner leaving 10 minutes before the cut-off.  The sweepers came, we got them some food and then we all packed everything up and headed back to the lake to go crew.  Christy & Fern were crewing for Cindy while I crewed Sean.

Sunrise Aid Station, SD 100, Running Skirts, Paksit Photos

The next aid station that we could be at was at Sunrise.  By this point it was getting really warm.  Sean came in looking really good.  He got a lot of ice and then was on his way.

Sunrise Aid Selfie

I headed out to see him at Pioneer Mail, mile 28ish.  Crew wasn’t allowed inside the aid station for the first pass.  They set up the aid station very differently than last year, with 2 huge RVs taking up a lot of space and really blocking off view of the runners.

When Sean came through, he filled his buff with lots of ice, took a water bath and refilled his bottles.  It was weird not being able to help him but he finished up and then we chatted for a minute before he headed out.  After this I wouldn’t see him for 20 miles.

Pioneer Mail Mile 28

Since I had a while until I saw Sean again, I drove out to get gas and some cold water before picking his pacer up.  Eric and I headed to Meadows (one of my favorite spots to run out there).  We chilled out for a while before hanging out with Christy & Fern for a while.

Fern asked me to take photos for them when Cindy came in so I was the official photographer 😉 lol.  They are a well oiled machine, with one person taking off her socks & shoes, Christy putting some cream on her legs, then putting her socks back on, all the while she is eating, someone else is massaging her shoulders and using the Inov-8 on her legs.  It was actually quite fun to watch.

Well Oiled Machine, Team Running Skirts, SD 100, Meadows Aid Station

She got on her way and then we waited a bit longer for Sean.  He came in all smiles.  It would only be another 7 miles until he could pick up Eric for the next 45 miles.

Meadows Aid Station

We headed over to Red Tail Roost, which last year was a much bigger aid station.  This year it was pretty much just for pacer pick-up, which actually was nice since last year pacers had to be dropped off at Penny Pines and there isn’t enough parking for crew cars.

Sean came in looking strong, he and Eric would head out to mile 64, a new aid station for us, Cibbet Flats.  Kat & Matt were running this aid station.  To get to this aid station you need to continue on Sunrise Hwy to the 8 heading towards El Centro, go 2 exits (I think) and then then drive towards the Cibbet Flats campground.  The aid station was in the campground.

I hung out with Kat checking people in and out while I waited for Sean to arrive.  He was pretty much right on schedule.  We got his bottles iced up, I gave him a Monster and pretty much sent him on his way.  It would be 20 miles until I would see him next and he was still on pace for a sub-24 hour race.

By the time I saw him next at Pioneer Mail, he was walking and not in the best of spirits.  He and Eric along with another runner had gotten lost leaving one of the aid stations, the aid station even saw them go the wrong way and never said anything, which seriously affected his mental fortitude at that point.

They would continue on, however without a time goal the goal shifted to just finish and would include a lot more walking than he normally did.

Sunrise Aid Station, Sunrise, SD100, San Diego

I would see them again at Sunrise, they got there just after the sun actually rose and had the opportunity to see a spectacular sunrise.  But even at 6:30am, I could tell, it was getting hot, I gave him my extra buff and we filled it with ice so he would keep cool over the last 9 miles.


Incidentally, due to the heat, a surprise aid station popped up right when they needed it at mile 95.  Sean & Eric were the first to go through and really appreciated it.

I headed back to Lake Cuyamaca to wait for them to finish.  Having a bit of time, I cleaned the car up, got coffee, chatted with some other crew/spectators and waited for them to come in.  I was hoping that with the sun coming up, Sean would get a little boost and finish faster than expected, like he has done occasionally, but he was pretty tired by that point and with it getting so hot, he made the decision to take it a little easier.

A couple with a pair of binoculars allowed us to borrow them periodically so we could see if our runner was coming.  After a bit, I finally was able to see Sean & Eric on the other side of the lake.

And he's finished!!

I ran over to the finish so I could get some photos for him as he came across the line.  He got his medal, buckle and a bag full of swag, bag, sweatshirt, coffee cup & hat.  This is in addition to the shirt, orange mud bottle, injini socks & drawstring bag he had already received at check-in.  I have to say this is one of the best swag races I’ve seen. And he’s done a lot of ultras.

Team Sexy Calves

We hung out chatting with other runners, eating and relaxing for a bit before heading home.  We still had to go to the Rock n’ Roll SD race expo.

Finish Line Bliss

A huge Thank You to Christy at Running Skirts for giving me the opportunity to volunteer with the Running Skirts crew.  And to both Christy & Cindy for the Running Skirts outfit. I can’t wait to wear my Keep it Chill shirt at some races this summer. To Christy & Fern for sharing their cookies and ceviche with me. To Paksit Photos and Regina for the photos.  And to Kat & Matt for the hamburger at Cibbet Flats, I needed that!

Race Recap: Nanny Goat 12/24hr Race

Earlier this year I signed up to run my first 100k later this year and I was/am super excited, but a lot nervous since I had only done a few 50k races.  A 50k jump is a lot of miles to jump. I wanted and needed to do a 50 miler but we didn’t have a lot of options with Sean’s full 100/200 schedule this summer.

Last summer we did the Summer Solstice Run around Chrissy Field and I did the 6 hour race.  It was fun, but a 1 mile loop can get really monotonous really quick.  That was an actual loop course which made it really easy, however the weather was unpredictable as you made your way around the loop.  Super windy & cold on one side and hot on the other.

So when we looked at the available races and saw Nanny Goat, my first thought was, another loop course?  But then as I looked at our other options and more importantly time limits on those races, Nanny Goat looked better and better.

So we both signed up for the 24 hour race.  It was the same price for both so I figured the 24 hour race would give me a better option to get my 50 miles in.

I was in Vegas for work most of the week before the race so I wasn’t able to do my normal pre-race hydration routine.  I did get a few juices, Chia Kombucha and bottles of water down so I felt relatively hydrated.

We drove up to Riverside on Friday evening, fortunately and surprisingly the traffic was really light.  Since it was the holiday weekend, I’m guessing a lot of people took the day off because the only minor traffic we hit was near Temecula which is really odd for a Friday heading up towards LA.

We checked into our hotel and got some dinner from a cute little pizza place in downtown. Yum, yum!


Once we got back, we got out all of our gear, set all our devices up to charge before getting some sleep.  I did my Flat Jenny at home so I could make sure I had everything so I was all set gear wise.

Flat Jenny, Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

A few nice things about this race.

#1 – It didn’t start until 8am so we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to be there.  We slept in until probably 6:15/6:30a.

#2 – We were only 15 minutes away from the race and while it was big compared to the Summer Solstice Race, there was no traffic so we didn’t have to leave early to avoid that.  We got there probably around 7:20am and found a spot in the main lot.

#3 – Since it’s such a long race, we set up our gear near the main aid station with a chair, a full cooler and bags full of extra clothes, battery packs, etc.

They require a signed USATF release before you get your bib so we filled those out and then the lovely Jean Ho, who would cheer us on each lap, gave us our bibs. 93 for me and 94 for Sean.

We also got lots of race swag, a logo’d beer stein, a koozie, a goat key chain and a cotton shirt.  I got a tank in size small (it fits perfectly) and Sean got a T-Shirt.

Once we checked in, we hit up the port-a-potties and then next thing you knew they were yelling at us to go into The Goat Pen for the start of the race.  I didn’t even have time to fill my bottle or grab my headphones but I knew I’d have time later to get everything in order.

Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

The forecast was for sun and about 82 degrees, but it was cloudy and much cooler when we started and stayed that way until about 2.5 hours into the race and then it was like someone hit a switch and the sun was out.

I took it very easy going 5.5 miles for each of the first 2 hours and then when the sun came out I started walking certain parts of the course.  This was an interesting loop in that it wasn’t a real loop.  You would start out down a nice super flat & well maintained shaded trail section, then turn right to a road/sandy trail until you got to the end where you would make a sharp left turn around a cone with a smiling skull on top.  After making the turn you would go back down the road or sandy side until you crossed the part where the loop began, then there was a dirt trail on the left side.  Another left turn would put you through the orange groves and then on to the grass, which is where you really had to watch because of the pitted gopher holes that were hard to see.  Another left turn left you in shade (pretty much the whole race) and on a section of grass & roots.  Once you got past this section you would turn left again and then onto a road/gravel path past some horses in stalls and then into the barn. And there you have it, the loop in a nutshell.

At the StartThank you to Andy Noise for the on course photos.

I put on my headphones, my Orange Mud Hydra Quiver VP1 and settled in to listen to a book on tape.  For the majority of the race I listened using my Aftershokz.

I found I was able to settle into a nice rhythm and just kept it moving.  After the first 5 miles or so I stopped and filled my bottle and put on my Orange Mud VP1. I would drink a lot in the first 10 – 15 miles.  I remember telling my fellow Altra Ambassador Sharon that I was so thirsty.  During this time, the first 2.5 hours it was quite cloudy and overcast.


Around 10:30ish the sun came out and boy did it get hot!  I started eating a lot during this time, I would stop at the aid station tables and get watermelon & orange slices.  I kept refilling my bottle with more water.  Eventually they would start handing out Popsicles. I think I had about 4 of them over the course of the day.

Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

I had a little routine down, run in certain spots, walk in others and it was working.  Every few miles I would walk a loop or two and then start running again.  Eventually my feet really started to hurt.  I felt like I was getting blisters under on the ball of my feet or like there was a lot of dirt/rocks under that part of my foot.

I was able to use my Carbo Pro/Ultima combo for the majority of the race with a few cups of water.  Eventually though, in the last 10 miles, I had a hard time drinking anymore so I know I wasn’t getting nearly enough calories.  The nutrition aspect of ultras is still a work in progress for me.

Also during those last 10 miles I stopped a few times to empty my shoes and generally slowed down. But kept the goal of 50 miles and a 12 hour finish in view.  The last 2-3 miles I was starting to get cold, I think it was the lack of calories starting to affect me.

And in the end, I finished my race with 50 miles in 12 hours and 6 minutes.

Finish, 50 miler, Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

After which I stopped, changed my clothes & shoes, ate a little bit and kept adding on more and more layers.  I seriously could not get warm.

Eventually I was at our set-up at the same time Sean came through to refill his bottles.  He congratulated me and took my photo before heading back out to finish his race.

Sean would eventually win the 100 mile race finishing in 18:54, a 3h 20min PR.  I was so proud of him!  He finished 100 miles 1h 40min faster than the 2nd place person!

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this race.  It was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again and go for 100 miles.

If you’ve never done an ultra, this is a great way to do it because you are never more than a mile from an aid station and you will always have people to talk to.

National Running Day: Why I Run #Team Nakamura Edition

I’m linking up with Jonesin’ for a Run to answer some questions about my running to celebrate National Running Day.  Now to see how my answers in 2016 compare to last year. And this year Sean will also be answering.  Ready? Set? Go!!

GRD Cover

Happy National Running Day! I’m planning 2 runs for today, #Runch with Smitha & the SoCal MRTT group & then another with Sean after work.  What are you doing to celebrate?

Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson Trail, San Diego, Altra Running, Procompression, orange mud, running4thosewhocant, lululemon

Feel free to play along and answer any of the questions in the comments.  I’d love to hear your answers.

Why do you run?

Jenny: Easy answer, it makes me happy.  Running has brought so many amazing people into my life and allowed me to go to so many amazing places.

Sean: I like the way it feels.  I like who I am because of running. I run as a lifestyle.  I enjoy the simplicity of running, the tranquility, the freedom that comes with running.  I race for the challenge and to see what I’m capable of and to prove to myself that anything is possible.  Running is my religion, my stress release, a way to quiet my mind, a way to connect with nature and is a very cleansing experience.  I could talk about my love for running for days.

How do you plan to celebrate National Running Day?

J: Well, interestingly enough, National Running Day, June 1 is also Sean’s 2000th day of his run streak so I imagine we’ll definitely be running 😉 and celebrating his streak.

S: Well it’s my 2000th day of my running streak so I’ll be running with some friends.

How many miles have you run so far this year? Do you have a mileage goal for the year

J: Let’s see, as of yesterday I’m at 670 miles for the year.  I ran 1269 last year and I have a goal of 1,500 this year.

S: 1,177.10 miles and I think it would be pretty cool to hit 3,000 miles but it’s not a critical goal.

What big events do you have on the race calendar so far this year?

J: I’ve already run a bunch of races this year.  For the rest of the year, I’ve got 3 half marathons, 2 marathons, including running the New York City Marathon with the James Blake Foundation for my brother in law David.  You can donate here.  I’ve also got my first 100k in October and I’m on the waitlist for my first 50 mile mountain race as well.

S:  On the ultra side, I’ve got San Diego 100 on this Friday, Santa Barbara 100, TRT 100, AC 100, UTMB 170k, Tahoe 200, Cuyamaca 100k.  On the road side, San Diego Rock n’ Roll this weekend, Vancouver USA, New York City Marathon, Revel Canyon City.

Before I leave for a run I must have:

J: Chapstick, sunglasses & a hat.  If I’m running long, I’ll add in a bottle with Carbo-Pro & Ultima to get in some calories.

S: My shoes!

Do you track your runs?  If so what do you use?

J: I normally use my Garmin and then sync it to my Nike+ account because I’ve been tracking runs there for years.

S: Yes, typically on my iPhone and I use Runmeter Elite from Abvio and sometimes a Garmin

Who is your favorite running partner?

My favorite running partner

J: Sean of course!! We’ve had so many awesome running adventures.  But I also enjoy my runches with Smitha.

S: My love!

Whoo's in El Moro 25k

What races have you run so far this year?

J: Too many to write here lol.  You can see all my 2016 race recaps here. This year in addition to running in California, we’ve ran in Florida & Arizona as well.

S: San Diego 50 mile, Coldwater Rumble 100, Sean O’Brien 100k, LA Marathon, Gasparilla Half Marathon, San Diego Half Marathon, Old West 50k, Carlsbad 5000, Zion 100, Leona Divide 50 mile, La Jolla Half Marathon, Whoo’s in El Moro 50k, PCT 50 mile, Nanny Goat 100.

If you have to give someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be?

J: It’s never easy but it does get easier and more fun so definitely stick with it! And don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else, run your own race!

S: Listen to your body.

Describe your relationship with running in one word:



S: Zen

I want to know why you run and what you are doing to celebrate Global Running Day? Tell me in the comments below.