Review: Project Repat Running Shirt Quilt

If you are like me, you’ve run a lot of races over the years and you have a lot of race shirts just hanging around.

Race shirts have evolved over the years, going from unisex crew neck cotton shirts to tech shirts, to women & men’s specific tech and some super soft cotton.  But the majority have one thing in common.  What’s that?  They are sitting in a drawer or are in a Rubbermaid container in my garage.

So when the nice people at Project Repat contacted me, I was intrigued.  I could take my old race shirts that I never wear and make them into a quilt?  How cool is that?

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So how does Project Repat work?

It’s so easy, first you go online, choose your panel size, quilt size and the color of fleece you want on the back.

Once you’ve placed your order, Project Repat will send you and email with instructions on how to send your shirts, you ship them and then in a few weeks you receive a beautiful quilt!

I selected the standard 12×12 panel size, 24 panel twin size quilt with a light blue fleece backing.

Then came the hard part, deciding which of my many race shirts to use.

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I immediately headed to the garage and started going through the shirts that have been in containers since I moved last year (or longer for some).  At first I was worried I wouldn’t have enough shirts to even make a small quilt, but I soon found out I had more than enough.

There is a bit of additional work that you need to do prior to sending off your shirts.  If your shirts have graphics on both sides you need to pick which side you want them to use by cutting the shirt.

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I think I ended up cutting 95% of the shirts I sent because the majority of them have sponsors, etc. on the back.  Although there were a few shirts that the back looked nicer than the front.

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Once I had them all cut up, I recounted to make sure I had 24 panels and then they sat for a few days, ok, a few weeks, while we traveled around the world, and I was able to print out the paperwork to send with my package.

Once I was ready, I took all my shirts, packed them in a medium flat rate priority mail box from USPS and headed to the post office.  Since you pay for shipping your shirts, I found a flat rate box worked perfectly for me.  Especially since I was shipping my shirts to the east coast.

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Project Repat was great about keeping me in the loop, I received a bunch of emails keeping me up to date on the status.  First when they received my shirts, then when my quilt was shipped, another when it was out for delivery and a final one once it was delivered.

The final product is so much nicer than I could have imagined.  At first I didn’t want to use it because it was so nice, but then once day I was sitting on the couch freezing and it was next to me so I wrapped myself up.  It’s surprisingly warm.  And shocker here 😉 the kitties love it too!

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Sean was super impressed as well, we might even need to get another one with his race shirts!

Want one for yourself or the runner in your life?  There is still time to get one for the holidays.  Head over to www.projectrepat.com to save 15% and order yours today!

 

*I received a twin size 24 panel quilt from Project Repat in exchange for this review, of which all opinions are my own. There are referral links in this post.*

Race Recap: NYC Marathon

For about 30 days every January/February the New York City Marathon lottery is open.  So many runners enter the lottery with hopes that come March their credit cards will be charged $255 and they will be in for the biggest race in the world!

I’ve been lucky to have run NYC Marathon once before, although, I have yet to be lucky in the lottery. Both times I’ve run NYCM it has been with a charity, first with ING Run for Something Better and this year with the James Blake Foundation.  My first time I was supposed to run in 2012 but unfortunately Hurricane Sandy changed that and so I ran in 2013 instead.

This year, both Sean & I put our names in the hat and he was the lucky winner, he found out really early that morning, while I was stuck waiting to see if I got in through out the day.  I was so disappointed that I didn’t get in that he didn’t want to tell me he was in so as to not upset me. Such a sweet guy :).

In any case, originally we thought to have him defer until next year to see if I got in as well.  But in May, when we found out that my brother-in-law David was diagnosed with cancer, I thought what better way to support him than run the race for him.  So we looked for a charity that fit what we wanted to do and settled on the James Blake Foundation.

Long story short, we were able to raise $3,000 for the foundation that supports early cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital thanks to the generous support of our family & friends.  We are so grateful for the generosity shown to us and the support for David!

Now to the event…I didn’t have this blog when I ran NYC the first time so this is my first NYC Marathon race recap.

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We have had a very busy schedule, with the trip to the Venice Marathon, then Javelina before finally heading to NYC on the Friday before the race.  To say it was a quick trip is an understatement.  By the time we got to the city on Friday it was after 6pm which left us time to get in Sean’s streak run, visit Times Square and have dinner.

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On our way back from our run, we happened to walk by a place called Grom, it’s a gelato place that we went to in Venice after the Venice Marathon.  It’s so yummy & what a treat!

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I wanted to go to the We Run Social event which was a part of a bigger event with Kelly Roberts, a blogger I’m not really familiar with, on Saturday morning so I dragged Sean out of bed early and to the subway so we could head down to Chelsea for the meet-up.

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It was so great seeing Robin, my friend from SD, Carlos, Gina (who incidentally I met at Javelina the week before) & xtina ;).  We got in a short run through the city, took some photos, grabbed a snacks (those new Vega Protein Snack bars are super yummy! and then headed off to the expo.

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We were planning to take the subway to the expo, but after chatting about it we decided to just take a cab.  It was just way easier :).

We made it to the expo and it wasn’t super crowded to get into like it was the last time I was there.  We got our bibs, race shirts & our packet info and then it was time to head into the expo.

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The Asics booth had a lot of cool Marathon logo’d gear, but the line was ridiculous & I just don’t have patience to deal with all those people so we skipped that section.

First thing we saw when we got inside was the awesome Altra booth!  They really had a great NYC edition Torin and some sweet shirts too.  Sean & I each got one :).

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We ran into Heatherruns74 at the Zensah Booth and chatted with her for a bit.  We were so sad to hear about her race.  It sounds like it was a tough race for a lot of people.

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We made bibs saying F*CK Cancer for David  at the NYRR booth to wear on our backs during the race. They just asked for a minimum $5 donation that went to Team for Kids.

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After walking around for a bit, we ran into some of Sean’s friends at the Nuun booth. We chatted with them for a bit, then got some fun stuff at the Aftershokz booth and a few snacks.

We then made our way back up towards our hotel and lunch.  We went to this cool upscale food court for burgers before dropping off our gear and heading back to the park for another run.  The first one was too much start & stop to count as a streak run for Sean so we needed to do a 2nd one.  We ended up with 4.5 shakeout miles.

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Dinner was super early at this yummy Italian place called PizzArte.  We had a pizza Pulcinella with tomatoes, arugula & shaved parmigiano and a homemade pasta with marinara sauce & basil.  Yum! Yum! Carb loading at its best.

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We got back, each of us took our flat runner photos and then got some sleep.  I normally wear my Lululemon Speed Shorts for most races and I was still wearing a lulu sports bra and swiftly tee but my awesome friends over at Running Skirts made the most perfect NYC skirt that I just had to wear for the race.  It’s seriously cute and the twins are actually running on the streets on the skirt.

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The time changed that night and I just happened to wake up a few minutes before the actual time change, I always get nervous but I saw it change so I felt better :).

We set our alarms for 4:45am to catch the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry at 6:15am.  I’ve never taken the ferry before so it was a lot of fun!  Although note to self.  Either sit by the windows, so you are in control of it, or away from it.  People were opening the windows for photos and there were 2 not so considerate peeps who left the window open & it was freezing!! lol

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Once at the Staten Island ferry station we quickly made our way out and headed to the buses.  We were lucky and got on a bus pretty quickly.  The bus was kind of slow going and we found out why once we got a little closer.  The police were doing security checks as you got off the bus.  This was so much nicer then in 2013 when it was a madhouse with 50k runners trying to go through a tiny bottleneck. (After hearing from other runners, I think that may have still happened, but maybe with the buses from the city.)

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Sean & I were in different colored waves but we had plenty of time so we just hung out near the blue village (my wave color).  When we got there there were barely any lines for the port-a-potties so that was the first stop.  Then we settled in for a few hours taking a few photos and a nap.

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When we got back up, there were a lot more people there and Sean was freezing.  He was wrapped up in our LA Marathon heat sheets like a burrito – it was really funny.

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Eventually it was time for Sean to make his way over to the orange village to get ready to run!

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I headed back to the blue village, I really wanted one of the cool Dunkin Donuts hats they were handing out but I seriously couldn’t find them.  I ate a bagel and drank the rest of my water.

The worst part about this race is how long you have to wait until the start.  My wave didn’t leave until 11:00am and I was up at 4:45am.  I ate a croissant on the way there, a Clifbar filled peanut butter bar and a bagel about an hour before along with a bottle of water.  I probably could have eaten more but I was a bit nervous too.  I thought about it as we were on the bus, it’s interesting that at a marathon they wait until mile 18 to give you any food but in an ultra you could be eating from the first aid station, lol.

I hit up the port-a-potties one last time and then made my way over to the corrals.  By this point it was getting hot so I shed my throw-a-way gear, put on my race bib and got my flipbelt situated.  Unfortunately NYCM doesn’t allow backpack hydration packs although I did see a few others wearing orange mud, which made me a bit sad because that would have been so much nicer than the belt.  I say that not because the belt was bad, it actually was quite comfortable, but once stuffed, I have an iPhone 7 plus and a few Glukos Energy gels and other gels, it looked pretty awkward around my waist.

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I was in the orange wave last time, which was on the other side of the bridge, this time they staged us and then walked us over to the actual start line.  I’m pretty sure we started a little late, but in the scheme of things it didn’t really matter at that point.

I was really warm as we were getting ready to start and thought wearing a black shirt, which I never do, was probably not the best idea.  But I remembered it being a bit windy so I kept my sleeves on.

We listened to the National Anthem, the girl who sang, was also running the race then finally we were off!  It was such a different experience from 2013 with the sun shining and barely any wind.  I do feel like there were a lot more people.  I’m not sure if that’s because I was in wave 4 vs wave 3 or just because adding an extra 2k runners made it feel that much more crowded.

I took it rather slow going over the bridge, it is the biggest climb of the race, I took a little video, and just enjoyed being out there.

It was a lot of fun running down the bridge but once we got to the bottom, I was expecting to see a ton of spectators but there were very few.  Turns out that once we merged with the orange wave, that’s where all the crowds were.  I was on the right side of the street scanning the crowds to the left to find my friend Lucia who lives in Brooklyn.  I saw her and her family and started screaming her name!  Eventually her husband heard me and they waved.  It’s always exciting to see people you know.

I just kept moving feeling decent in the first few miles. And then I started to feel a sharp pain in my left ankle around mile 5.  I had twisted it somehow and while it wasn’t horrible, I definitely could feel a serious discomfort.  I just kept moving until a few miles later.

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We were heading up a little hill around mile 8 when I passed a girl wearing the Boom socks from ProCompression.  I said nice socks and she was like I read your blog, LOL.  If you are reading, HI!  Not long after that a guy named Terrance asked me about David and told me a story about a friend of his who had cancer and ran the race a few years ago.  It was his birthday and we would run/walk with each other for a few miles.

I had an issue with one of my toes from Cuyamaca which was doing fine until a few days before the race.  I was trying on outfits for the race and I made the mistake of just shoving my foot into my compression sock.  Well big mistake because it pushed the nail backwards but not off completely.  So instead of just pulling it off, I decided to put a band-aid on and wait for it to fall off on it’s own.  Long story short, the band-aid started to come loose and I could feel the tape on the bottom of my foot.  I ran for as long as I could with it like that until I knew I saw a med tent.

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At just after mile 9 I rolled up to the med tent, asked them for a band-aid and had to take off my shoe & compression sock to do a repair job.  I’ve stopped at med tents before, but this was the first time I’ve ever had my bib scanned upon arrival and departure.

They watched me change out my band-aid and gave me a little athletic tape to keep it together (band-aids aren’t super sticky) and then I was off.  Of course then I started running and immediately thought, oh no, it’s too tight, but eventually it would loosen up, although I would end up with a massive blister on the 3rd toe from the tape. But it didn’t hurt and was gone pretty quickly.

After this I tried to keep up my momentum and just enjoy the race.  I did pretty well until we got to the bridge, by that point, I was getting really cold and my ankle was starting to throb.  I took a few photos of the city, texted my sister & Sean, saw that Molly Huddle was kicking butt and ran/walked as much as I could.

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I remember the moments coming off the bridge into Manhattan differently than this year.  It was a really nice with the sun shining.  Running on First Ave there are so many spectators, it was like a huge party.

Around mile 17/18 I was just minding my own business heading into the aid station when all of a sudden this huge plastic garbage bag comes flying across the road.  This girl in front of me got tangled up in the bag and went down.  I helped her up, got her over to the sidewalk with the help of a spectator when a police officer came up saying that medical was coming and then I kept moving.

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I will say that it was really nice having a lot of aid stations, but the aid stations got a little slippery and sticky from all the water & gatorade.  I drank a ton during the race, I think I refilled my Orange Mud hand bottle at least 5 times.

When we got to the Bronx everyone was so nice, they were dancing in the streets and when we got to the last bridge there were a few people cheering us on saying this is the last bridge.

We finally made it to 5th Ave, which is slightly uphill, I ran/walked most of this section. And was so excited to turn into the park.  This is one of my favorite parts of the whole course.  It’s so beautiful and this year there was some sun flitting through the trees when I was going through this section.

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If I remember correctly, after a few quick miles through the park, we came out of the park again around 59th Street & Columbus Circle.  And then we were heading up the last small hill to the finish!  I was so excited to be at the finish line!  Arms up & all the smiles!

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All in all, I’m happy with my time, I came in under 5 hours and I had a blast.  In the end, that’s what matters most.

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And then it was so so cold!  I was freezing!  I took a few quick selfies, made my way over to get my medal.  I quickly walked over to get my snack bag and then a heat blanket.  I walked as quickly as I could to get to the ponchos.  I was so cold by this point.  I was texting with Sean.  He had finished quite a bit before me and was getting ready to walk back from the hotel to meet me.

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I finally got my poncho and started walking towards the family reunion area.  I thought Sean was there, but he was still coming up when I got there.  I saw him coming towards me and was really happy.

This year it seemed a bit easier to get around, maybe because I was a bit later in the day, but we made our way back towards the hotel, stopping at a Starbucks (like so many other people) to get something warm.  We finally made it back to the hotel and I was able to finally get warm.

While this wasn’t my fastest race or even my fastest NYC, it was such a blast.  Even with the minor issues I dealt with, I had a great time.  Marathons are never easy, but it was made easier knowing that I wasn’t just running for myself this time.

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Pros: Amazing crowd support – NYC Marathon has the best spectators.
*Very organized expo & race in general
*Running over the Verrazano Bridge
*Taking the ferry to the start line
*The Ponchos are really nice
*Cool Medal

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Cons: It’s very expensive at $255 + $11 entry fee
*NYC is an expensive city, we were fortunate that we were able to use points & miles to pay for our travel, but in general, NYC is not cheap.
*It’s a crowded race and as it grows its getting even more crowded.
*A very late start. When you are used to 7am or earlier starts, an 11am start is very late.
*The weather is unpredictable
*The walk after the finish is super long and cold

All in all, while I wouldn’t necessarily want to run NYC every year for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the cost (if I lived closer it might be different), I love the New York City Marathon and I think it should be on every marathoners bucket list to do at least once.

Crewing Javelina Jundred

This past year has been a whirlwind of 100 mile races.  We started the year in Arizona at Coldwater Rumble and finished in Arizona with the Javelina Jundred.

First off, let me say that Aravaipa does an excellent job managing all the runners and crew.  There were close to 800 people running this race making it the 2nd largest ultra in the US.

We decided to do this race because our dear friend Maili @mais_runs_trails asked us to help pace her for her first 100 mile race.  Since we were going, Sean decided it would be a great finish to his year of 100s.

Javelina is definitely a party in the desert.  There were so many people there that we know so it was a lot of fun cheering on all our friends.  There were a bunch of my fellow Altra Running ambassadors running.  It was fun getting to meet them and cheering them on.

Here is Lint Hikes at the start & Stephanie after her first loop and Dana after she came in right behind Sean to finish up the 2nd loop.  She was the first female finisher!

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We saw a bunch of fellow San Diego runners and I spent the whole time hanging out with our friend Vanessa and her team.

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Can I tell you how amazing the ultra community is?  I met Lani & Heather for the first time on race day and even though they didn’t know me, they totally brought me into their fold.  Lani made me a PB&J sandwich, dinner later in the evening and just was so amazing.  Heather gave us tips on how things were different from last year and was so positive.  I was blessed to share the weekend with such amazing people.

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Vanessa & I took a short hike early on Saturday morning, it was interesting to see how the course was laid out.  At this point they didn’t have the loop markings up so we weren’t quite sure how it worked.

We walked about a mile or so and then came back just in time to see Zach Bitter finishing up his first loop.  It was so amazing to see Zach crush the course record.  It was fun to watch him and how perfect his form was.  As a friend said, watching him is like poetry in motion and it truly was.

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Sean came in off the first loop around 3:35 saying it was HOT!  When he came through they called out a name, but it wasn’t his, so he asked me to check on that with the timing people.  Once Vanessa & I got him ready to go he headed back out for the toughest of his 5 loops.

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Maili came in about 1.25 hours later also saying it was hot, but she was looking good and feeling pretty good as well.  Her crew got her iced up and ready to go and then she was off.

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By this point it was getting pretty hot even for us and so I asked the guy in the tent next to us if I could use some of his shade (behind his tent) and he told us that they were leaving and we could hang out in their tent until they came back in a few hours.  That was so nice because one of the things about the desert is that the temperatures really do drop in the shade.

We hung out there for quite a while chatting, eating, and watching the runners come in.

Sean finished his second loop right before Dana.  He was super hot and talking about a tight hip.  But we got him some Monster and Welch’s Grape Juice which would be something he drank a lot of during this race.  After getting iced up, he headed out on his third loop.

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Again, we would have an issue with Sean’s timing chip.  This time, it didn’t register him at all.  I got them to fix it but I accidentally gave them the wrong time so his time was off.

Not long after this we were just hanging out, I didn’t see Maili’s family, and I was surprised to see her coming through!  I texted them to let her know that she was there and ran with her to the aid station, hoping to get her iced up there, but they were completely out of ice!  Now, this was something that I feel like they dropped the ball on.  With 800 participants on a very hot day in the desert, they should have ice trucks standing by.  I feel like they should never run out of ice.

But by the time we got back to base camp, her family was there and able to get her all set up.  She was feeling pretty good considering the heat, those hour long sessions in the sauna really paid off!

Since she was going out on her 3rd loop and it would be dark when she finished she was able to take a pacer with her.  I remember asking her if she had her headlamps and I believe it was during this section that I was feeding her a turkey wrap lol.

Lani, Heather & Vanessa were crewing multiple people including Joyce who was just the cutest.  She was attempting her first 100 and came in after her 2nd loop during this time.  She was having an issue with her ankle and was asking to have it taped.  Well, you might not know this but when I was in high school I was an athletic trainer and I do know how to tape ankles.  Although it had been quite a while since the last time I did.

Fortunately Lani had white athletic tape so I did my best to get her taped up so she could get back out there.  Joyce has the tiniest feet I think I’ve ever taped and my memory was a little fuzzy so I did the best I could.  Fortunately it worked and we were able to get her out there for her 3rd loop.

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After I taped her up she needed to get her shoes on and still get something to eat.  I knew we needed to get her out of there so I started feeding her pasta while she put on her shoes, lol.  She’d been there for a bit, it was starting to get dark and I knew Sean was going to be coming soon so I wanted to get her on her way!

One thing that Sean has taught me is that you don’t want to linger at the aid station any longer than necessary so after a few more minutes grabbing gear off she went!

Sean had told me that lap 3 was going to be his slowest and it wasn’t too bad, he came in around 6:15p just after dark.  We really didn’t think about it when he went out at 2pm but it was dark when he finished the loop.  Thank you to the awesome volunteer that lent him a handheld to get to the finish.

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This loop it took Maili a bit longer and I had just headed to take a quick nap after watching Zach Bitter finish.  Not long after that her husband Devin arrived and I think I got about 40 minutes of sleep before he told me she was about there.  Come to find out, he had forgotten to give her the headlamps and they had walked 5 miles with her pacer’s iphone flash light to the aid station.

She came in, immediately headed to the tent with Devin to change her clothes, she was having some issues with chafing or so she thought.  Funny story, as we were waiting for her, her pacer told us that when they got to the aid station, she started asking people if they had a headlamp and someone, she was like named Whaa, whaa something had gotten up and started pulling something off his waist.  First she was like uh, what are you doing and then he gave her his headlamp.  Well come to find out that it was Jim Walmsley!  As soon as she showed us the picture, I was like Jim Walmsely!  How cool & how awesome!  Not only that, he had given a headlamp to Zach Bitter so Maili might have worn the same headlamp that helped Zach crush the course record as well!

Once we got her & Devin off, I was going to get a little nap but thought I better wait up for Sean so I kind of slept in my chair while waiting for him.  By this point I was exhausted and frustrated with the timing people, since yet again, Sean didn’t show up in the results (from his third loop).  I didn’t want them to think he was still on his 3rd loop since he was going for a sub 24 hour time and his watch would be dead when he finished so as soon as he came in, I was like we need to talk to them.

Poor Lani asked me to stay up to help Joyce and I honestly needed to get some sleep.  Fortunately Heather was up & waiting for her husband to get a little nap before deciding what to do about his race.

Sean came in and I immediately told him that we needed to talk to the timing people. We got him squared away, they found his 3rd loop and gave him a glow in the dark bracelet to signify he was on his last loop and then we got him ready to go. It was around 11:30p ish at that point.

So off he went and back to the tend and bed I went.  I got my gear ready so I was good to pace Maili on her last loop before getting some sleep.  No sooner than I took off my glasses, I got a text from her it was around 12:30am.  She was having a lot of trouble walking due to what we would eventually find out was a UTI.  She was planning to drop at Jackass Junction (aid station) but I told her to talk to Catra Corbett when she got there after discussing a few things because I remember hearing her talk about having some similar issues.  I encouraged her to keep pushing to the next aid station.

By the time she got to Jackass Junction she was having some serious issues with her foot and was icing it, thinking there was a possibility it could be a stress fracture.  Catra told her that she was most likely dealing with a UTI and told her to stop using Tailwind (all the sugar could have been an issue). Unfortunately that meant she wasn’t getting in enough calories.

I don’t know how long they stayed at the aid station, but around 2:30a Devon texted that they saw Sean looking good (going the other direction) and were at mile 11.

I got a little sleep before getting up to wait for Sean to come in.  I wasn’t sure what kind of time he would have, but I knew he was gunning for a sub 24h finish. I just happened to get up about 10 minutes before he came in! I saw him following a girl who previously had a parrot on her shoulder as part of her costume and raced over to the finish line to get some photos!

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Right before Sean came in Maili sent me a text saying her foot was not feeling good and was really concerned.  I encouraged her to keep going and at least finish the loop.  It’s so tough because you want to encourage your runner and push them through the low points, but in the end they know their bodies better thank anyone else and really have to make the decision for themselves and it’s not an easy thing to decide especially when you feel amazing, outside of a few minor things, and you mentally want it so bad!

In the end she decided to finish the loop and I told her to try and make it before the cut-off which would give her a bit more time to decide if she could continue.  She pushed hard and made the 4th loop 7 minutes before the 6am cut-off.

At this point, we had to seriously consider that there was a chance, if we started the 5th and final loop that we wouldn’t be able to make the 30 hour cut-off.  I was ready to go out with her but was definitely concerned that it was going to be tight.

Ultimately we decided to start the loop and see how things went.  We probably went about a 1/4 mile up the trail when I saw that she was wincing in pain with every step and had stopped a few times already.  I supported her no matter what her decision, but internally felt like we had to be realistic.  At that pace with stopping, there was no way we could finish in under 6 hours.  After a few more painful steps, she made the decision to drop.

It’s a tough thing to watch someone so strong and mentally prepared to have to make this decision.  But regardless of the outcome I’m so proud of her for taking on the longest race in her ultra career and I know she is going to crush it in her next race!

There is nothing like the ultra community.  It is really a family and everyone is so supportive.

Race Recap: Venice Marathon 2016

Last year, Sean & I went to Italy for our honeymoon and we built our trip around the Venice Marathon.  My race recap from last year can be found here.

This year, as you already know, Sean got into UTMB back in January and we knew we would be heading to Chamonix-Monte Blanc in late August for the race.  We had a lot of other trips on the docket for this year as well, but just the one European adventure, that we knew about ;).

A little background, I like entering contests, I’ve won various things over the years, clothes, make-up, race entries, a trip to NYC about 10 years ago including a make-over at Warren Tricomi Salon and other random smaller things.  I enter contests all the time but then forget about them.  Earlier this year, LA Marathon announced a contest for a trip to the Venice Marathon so of course I entered.

On June 23, I was working and then got a Facebook notification from a friend congratulating me.  So I went online to see what for, and like 5 seconds later I was yelling to Sean and jumping up and down screaming we won! The kitties were like uh, what is going on here.

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WOW, I was seriously in shock even after getting the email confirming that I won! So Sean & I coordinated our schedules and decided what we wanted to do.

The trip included a round trip flight on Air France, we just had to pay for the taxes, hotel for up to 4 nights and 2 entries into either the Venice Marathon or the 10k.

So we added the Venice Marathon to our schedules for the 2nd year in a row and then got back to the rest of our summer.

With all the other travel we had this year, this race kind of snuck up on me and I’ll admit, I didn’t really train for a marathon.  If you have been following me, you’d know I’ve really been working towards some other ultra goals so while marathons are on my list, they aren’t my focus right now.

I ran Cuyamaca 100k at the beginning of the month and then I kind of took it easy for the most part for the rest of the month.

We left for Venice on Wednesday afternoon, we were flying from LAX via Paris, taking our longest flight to date. We arrived in Venice around 2pm and immediately headed to grab a rental car and drive 3ish hours to Avelengo.

After it sunk in that this was for real.  Sean & I decided that we wanted to go back to Avelengo & the oh so amazing Miramonti Hotel for a couple of days prior to going to Venice.  So off we went & I’ll recap that portion of our trip in a separate email.

The marathon expo is on both Friday & Saturday until 8pm.  We had done a pretty intense hike/run on Friday so we ended up leaving Avelengo a little earlier than we planned to head out to Venice.  I think we arrived at the expo about 3:30pm.  It was pretty busy so we just parked at our hotel before walking over.

The expo is at the ExpoSport at San Guiliano Park in Venice Mestre.  It’s a nice park just outside of Venice.  It was really crowded when we got there.  We immediately headed to the back to get our bibs/packets.

We ran into Ryan & the Los Angeles Marathon folks at the expo so we chatted for a few minutes.  They had a really nice booth.  The expo was definitely crowded but it felt like there were a lot more booths this time & things seemed a little more organized.

When we got to pick up our bibs, it was super easy.  As I’ve mentioned before in Italy at least, women are separated from the men so I headed to the women’s bib numbers.  There was really only one line & you needed to know your bib number so they could pick up your packet.

We got our bibs & headed over to get our bags & race shirts.  There was a special this time to get a little Antica Murrino gift.  They gave us cute little charms at their booth.

After finishing up at the expo, we headed back to the hotel, got checked in, went to take the car back to the airport and then took a vaporetto into Venice.

Note to those renting cars in Italy: 1) Gas stations off the autostrada are closed over the weekend. 2) If you pay in cash, you can’t get change until the gas station opens on Monday so keep your receipt and 3) They don’t take credit cards only bancomat, which incidentally none of our credit cards were.

We had dinner and gelato in Venice before heading back to Mestre where our hotel was located.

Pre-Race Gelato

The race didn’t start until 9:40am, but since we won the trip we were able to take the elite bus to the start.  It was departing the hotel at 7am.  I was a little nervous about them not know about us, but when I said my name, they recognized it and we were let on board.

Villa Pisani

The race starts in Stra at Villa Pisani and then makes its way to Venice.  I still had to start in the last corral, Sean could have been in the 2nd corral but he opted to run with me & help me PR.

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We grabbed trash bags from a nice guy near Villa Pisani and made our way over to the corrals.  We were a little early and they weren’t letting people in yet but I felt pretty good because we were planning to go right to the front of the corral so we weren’t stuck at the back like last year.

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Once they opened the corrals, I noticed that they were being really strict about not letting people into the wrong corral so I was glad we didn’t try to move up.

This year it felt like they actually had corrals and that everyone didn’t just start all at once.  But with only about 6,000 runners it wasn’t a huge race. We ended up going through the start line 3 minutes after the race started.

I felt like the race had a few more spectators than last year and that they were all happy to see us out there.

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I tried to keep up with Sean but he was going a bit faster than I felt comfortable with so I just kept him in sight and pushed to keep a comfortable pace.  I am very proud of myself for not taking a walk break until the middle of mile 10.  And the first 10 miles were all under 10 minute pace racing from 9:23 – 9:46.

The next 5 miles were decent ranging from 10:05 – 10:46 and then something happened at mile 16 and I must have walked a bit more because my pace jumped to 12:23.

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After this point, I kept moving as fast as I could.  Sean told me that we needed to maintain an 11min pace to get a sub 4:30 and since my PR was 4:35 I was doing all I could to keep it up.

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At one point, I could tell I needed more calories because I was starting to get a little nauseous.  I poured another pouch of CarboPro into my bottle with some ultima and kept moving.

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This year running across the bridge to Venice wasn’t as much of a struggle and I remember passing a lot of people during this section.  I followed the trolley track the whole way across the bridge.

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The next section by the cruise terminal is my least favorite of the course, but at least by that point you know there is only 5k to go!  I stopped at the last aid station to get more water and Sean was like come on!  I remember being like, I need to walk through this aid station.  LOL

I have 2 favorite sections of this race.  #1 – going over the Grand Canal on the amazing pontoon bridge that they put just for the race.  It is so cool and this year it was sunny!

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Then you make your way into Saint Mark’s Square, this is my second favorite spot.  It was so nice to have sun this year.  And they hadn’t started taking down the marathon banners yet this year so that was nice.

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The hard part about this section on the island of Venice is that you have to go over all the little bridges.  A lot of people slow down over these so it’s hard to keep up your speed.  I felt really happy that I was able to run this whole section.

As we closed into the finish line, I do recall starting to feel sick again.  I was calorie deficient and if running ultras has taught me anything it’s that you definitely need to start eating early.

I was actually just thinking about it yesterday and how interesting it is that they don’t give you any calories until very late in the race.  By that point, it’s already too late and you can’t make up those calories.

In any case, I pushed myself over that line and even managed to do a little hop/jump over.

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And I managed to get a shiny new PR of 4 minutes and 4 seconds.  It took me almost 3 years to the day (my previous PR was from my second marathon NYC in 2013).  And interestingly enough, I hadn’t really trained for a marathon having run Cuyamaca a few weeks before which shows that I really do have some potential if I work at it :).

img_4934See the Pontoon Bridge in the background?

All in all I feel like even though this was the 31st version of the race, they had things a lot more organized than last year and I enjoyed this race a lot more.  And I like the medal better too :).

And I love that they give you lots of food & beverages at the end of the race! So nice!  They even have changing rooms and showers available to the runners too!

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Again, Thank you to the Venice Marathon, the Los Angeles Marathon and Air France for an awesome giveaway and a fun time!

Have you run an international race?  Do you want to?

Ultima Replenisher Review + Instagram Giveaway

Thank you to Ultima Replenisher for sending me some of their new product for this review & Carlsbad Marathon (or Half Marathon) giveaway!

I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking Ultima but it was sometime last fall.  I remember buying a container at a race last year.  It’s now my go-to for every race.

I loved that it was made with real fruit, has lots of vitamins and minerals, is vegan and gluten free.  The original formula that I started using had about 15 calories in it, the new version is zero calories & zero sugar.  They do use Non-GMO Malodextrin & Stevia Leaf Extract for a little sweetness.

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There are 5 flavors: Grape, Lemonade, Orange, Raspberry and the newest Cherry Pomegranate. My favorite is Grape and then Lemonade.

I like to drink it on it’s own and for races I mix it with CarboPro, which I use for calories, to add in some electrolyte and yummy flavor.

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I’ve tried both versions side by side and I don’t notice much difference in taste.  I didn’t mind the original formula with the 15 calories because I needed more calories for ultras but I understand why they would want to drop the calorie count.

Ultima

Ultima comes in 30 serving containers, 90 serving containers and 20 count stick packs.  I typically buy the 90 serving containers because they are more cost effective, but the stick packs are super nice for races because they are tiny and easy to put in a bottle wrap or stick in a pocket of my Orange Mud HydraQuiver or even my shorts pocket.

Ultima is the on-course electrolyte at the following San Diego races: The Triple Crown (Carlsbad marathon, LaJolla Half, Americas Finest Half), San Diego Half and the Surfing Madonna.

Have you tried Ultima?  What flavor is your favorite or would you most want to try?

Now for the fun stuff!!!!  Head over to my Instagram to enter to win an entry to the Carlsbad Marathon or Half Marathon on January 14, 2017!! Thanks to my friends at Ultima, I’m giving away 2 entries + a container of Grape Ultima, which will be the on-course flavor, one for you and a friend!!