2016 In Review

What a year!  It’s amazing how fast time goes by, I feel like this year just flew by.

I’ve had a fabulous year, running and traveling all over.  I’ve had a blast sharing our adventures with you all and I look forward to some new adventures in 2017.

So let’s recap what happened this year…

January – We kicked the year off running the SD 50 & Trail Marathon before heading to Arizona for Coldwater Rumble.

Sweet M Images, Altra running, coldwater rumble, goodyear, arizona, trail running, lululemon, aravaipa running

February – The big event in February was the Los Angeles Marathon & watching the Olympic Trials for the Marathon.  It was so exciting watching all the big names battle it out to go to Rio.

March – I ran the San Diego Half for the first time and then the next weekend, I had my first double race weekend, with Old West 50k on Saturday & the Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday.  This weekend was key in getting my ultra running confidence back.

Old West 50k, ultra running, trail running, desert

April – April was the first month we race every weekend. Starting it off with Carlsbad 5000 where we got to see some speedy elites battle it out for cash & prizes. Then mudageddon in Zion before going back to Leona Divide and finishing the month up with the oh so hilly La Jolla Half.

Zion, National Park, XX2i, BibRave, Altra Running, Orange Mud, Lululemon

May – May saw more mud at Whoo’s in El Moro and my first 50 mile finish & Sean’s first 100 mile win! at Nanny Goat.

Paksit Photos

June – June started off with a double race weekend crewing Sean at SD100 before running Rock n’Roll SD.  We headed to Vail Lake for the SoCal Women’s Wine Country Half where Sean volunteered while I ran.  And for my birthday, we took my first trip to Portland where I came really close to PRing the marathon at VUM.

Vancouver USA Marathon, Expo, Marathon

July – July started with a trip up to Santa Barbara for a very HOT SB100.  Then we were off to Tahoe for TRT 50/100.  I got my first mountain 50 finish and didn’t have any issues with elevation! A last minute decision had us running the SF Marathon while visiting family to close out the month & celebrate our first anniversary.

August – I amazingly had no races in August.  I crewed Sean at AC100 at the beginning of the month before we headed over the pond for him to run UTMB.

September – September was crewing and pacing at Tahoe 200 before a last minute trip to Big Bear to run/hike the Kodiak Back 50k.

October – October started with a bang and the Cuyamaca 100k!  We headed to Italy for the second time after I WON a trip to the Venice Marathon from the LA Marathon and I finally PR’d the marathon by 4 minutes!  The whirlwind month ended in Phoenix crewing Sean at Javelina.

Cuyamaca 100k, Altra Running, Orange Mud, Running4thosewhocant, lululemonPaksit Photos

November – The travels continued in November with NYC Marathon followed up with Revel Canyon City and a last minute decision to run Red Rock for Sean’s birthday.

December – December started off with a crazy double-race weekend with North Face on Saturday & CIM on Sunday.  We finished up the year with the San Diego Holiday Half and then some relaxing!

Race Stats: 100k, 2 – 50 milers, 3 – 50k’s, 7 marathons, 9 half marathons, and one each 25k, 15k, 10k, 5k for a total of 26 races this year.

As of today I was at 1,568 miles for the year, my highest mileage year yet – August had the lowest monthly mileage with 98.6 (because of the back issues I was experiencing) and May was my highest monthly mileage ever with 175.5.

Now how did I do with my 2016 goals?

  1. PR the marathon – YES!!! Finally!  I had a slow start, but I ended up with a PR at Venice Marathon and 4 out of the 7 marathons were under 5 hours, which made me really happy!
  2. Really train – For the first half of the year, we trained a lot.  I had the back injury at the end of July that derailed me a bit.
  3. Run in at least one new place.  We went to Tampa, Zion National Park, Portland, Chamonix – Mont Blanc, Santa Barbara & Sacramento
  4. Run at least one new distance this year…I ran 2 new distances, 50 miles & 100k
  5. Keep up with the Winter Strength Challenge – yeah, this went until Valentine’s Day and then died off
  6. Be more timely with writing my race recaps on the blog – ummmm….no comment lol
  7. Write at least 2 blog posts a week – I tried 😉
  8. Drink more WATER!!!  Still a work in progress

Did you achieve your goals in 2016?  And if not, what do you need to work on?  Me, being consistent with my recaps & I definitely need to drink more water ;).

Race Recap: San Diego Holiday Half 2016

Thank you all for following along with my Race recap blitz!  I am going to make a conscious effort to do my recaps on a more consistent basis next year but we’ll see how it goes ;).

This was my second time running the Holiday Half. We ran it last year and I managed to eek out my fastest half of the year.  It’s a fun, fast, relatively flat half that takes place mostly on the bike path next to Hwy 56.

We didn’t have very many races in December so we decided to add this one in as our last race of the year.  When we signed up we didn’t realize that Sean’s company holiday party was going to be the night before but it was all good.

Packet pick-up is at Road Runner Sports the day before the race.  We picked up our packets which included our bibs, a long sleeve tech hoodie and a nice gear bag.  They also gave us gloves and a space blanket to keep warm at the start, similar to what they do at Revel.

I was still fighting my cough, but I needed to have a goal so I decided that I would push for faster than last year’s 2:02.  Unfortunately at the party, I had a horrible coughing fit that almost made me lose my dinner and that didn’t bode well for a great race.

Fortunately I did my Flat Jenny photo before we left for the party so my gear was all set.

After some ginger ale and a good night’s sleep, I felt relatively decent in the morning.  We slept in just a bit so it was probably 5:50a when we finally got out from beneath the warm covers.  We managed to get ready and out the the door by 6:20a and get to the start area by 6:50ish.  The race started at 7:30a.

I was coughing like a lunatic the whole time in the car and then after we arrived.  It was pretty chilly out too.   After what seemed like an eternity in line at the port-a-potties, we finally made our way to the gear check.

I didn’t realize Sean had on about 15 layers lol, he just kept taking clothes off and putting them in his bag.  Eventually he was down to his race gear and ready to go.

We ran into Jenn who I started with. We got a quick “glowy” pre-race photo while in our corral.

I felt like this year they were a bit disorganized.  The race started a few minutes late, the announcer didn’t know that the wheelchair athletes started first and then finally started the first corral about 5 minutes late.  I was in the 2nd corral.

I was so ready to just get started.  I enjoy the first part of the race, it’s on the road and the one and only major climb is in the first few miles before you get to the bike path.

This year the bike path didn’t seem quite as crowded as last year so that was nice.  I was trying to breath, but my nose was seriously dripping from the start.  I normally try not to blow snot rockets lol during races if I can help it but I apologize to everyone around me during this race. I had no choice, even my buff wasn’t able to help. 🙁

I was doing ok the first 6ish miles before I started coughing.  I had to start taking some walk breaks and the coughing was bad.  Such a deep cough that literally shook my core.  Forget crunches, have a cough like mine and you’ll have strong abs in no time.

I remember heading up this hill, and the 2:10 pace group passed me, @runchelrun, one of the pacers, who is friends with Kristina my pacer from Cuyamaca was like Hi Jenny!  I’m friends with Kristina!  as I was struggling up the hill lol.

I knew my goal was a bit out of reach at this point, but I was going to do my best to finish in a decent time.  I’ve run a lot of races, but not very many with a cough.  It makes it hard to breath & after already coughing for a week I didn’t want this to go on too much longer so I made the decision to take it a bit easier.  Of course I say that but it’s not a hard decision when you are practically hacking up a lung every few feet.

My least favorite part of this course is in the last 2 miles.  There is this awful out and back that has a very sharp turn-around around mile 11.5-12.  But then you get a nice straight-away before finishing in the parking lot near the Torrey Pines State Beach.

I think I finished around 2:12? I got my medal and saw Sean off to the side, he attempted to take a few photos as I tried not to cough too much, lol.

I finally finished, said Hi officially to Michelle and then got some snacks.  They had bottles of water, lara bars and bananas.  They had bags, but had run out.  We heard a volunteer telling someone that they should have run faster and they could have had a bag, uh say what?

There were booths from Aloe Gloe and Naked.  We got bottles of each, Naked gave out huge bottles of cold pressed apple juice that was so yummy.

After getting some snacks, we made our way to the gear check, which was a lot more disorganized than last year.  They just had bags tossed onto the ground, fortunately they were somewhat in order, but it was pretty chaotic.

We finally found our bags and then Jenn came up.  She had PR’d by 5 minutes!! which was so exciting! I was so happy for her.  We took a few photos and then I headed to get changed.

Even though it was freezing outside, I had sweated a lot and I needed to change before taking the shuttle back to the start line.  We were going to my all time favorite restaurant, Flower Child, for brunch.  They opened a location up in Del Mar and since we were near by we wanted to check it out.

I got changed, we took a few photos over by the ocean and then headed to the bus.  It’s always a plus when they have the fancy buses for the shuttles vs. school buses.

I felt kind of bad for everyone on the bus as I was coughing into my shirt, the whole way back but we eventually got back to our car and on our way to Flower Child!

If you are looking for a holiday race in SD, this isn’t a bad one, it’s relatively flat and fast, it’s normally nice weather, even if it’s on the colder side.  The medal is nice and they have a decent tech shirt, I did like this year’s shirt better than last years.

It’s not a race where you are going to have a lot of spectators or bands, music, etc.  There are aid stations every few miles, but since we are on the bike path it’s not really easy for spectators to get around.

That being said, it’s a nice half marathon in San Diego.  I enjoy it because it’s close and it ends at the beach.  Will we run it again next year? We’ll have to wait & see how our schedule pans out.

Race Recap: 2016 CIM Marathon

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!  The race recap blitz continues with recap 4/5.

Ever run a race that everyone raves about?  That would be CIM (California International Marathon).  It’s touted as the fastest course in the west and is where a lot of people qualified for the Olympic Trials at the 2015 race.

I had a number of people tell me it’s a super fast course and one of their favorites so I was expecting an absolutely amazing course.  My recap is going to tell a different story…

But let’s jump back a bit. Sean & I headed up to SF to run in the North Face Endurance Challenge on Saturday, Dec 3. He wanted to run the 50 miler and I originally was just going to crew him and then one of my Phoenix friends, Jeremy @runner_blogger_az asked me to be a part of his marathon relay team.  I said if you are ok with me being slow because I am running a marathon the next day + I’m kind of slow to begin with lol, especially remembering the monster hill you have to climb in the fist half of the section.

So we headed off to SF, participated in the Endurance Challenge, which I recapped the other day, and almost immediately after Sean finished we set off to Sacramento.  It would takes us close to 2 1/2 hours to get there because of traffic.  And after being up since 2:45am, we were exhausted.

So, I have to give a huge shout-out & THANK YOU to Brian, @pavementrunner for picking up our packets and then dropping them off at our hotel for us since there was no way we would make it in time to pick them up.

We had a yummy Italian dinner, I did a quick #FlatJenny pic and then off to bed we went.

CIM starts in Folsom and you make your way to Sacramento so they bus you to the start line.  Our buses left at 5:00am so we had to be up in time around 4ish in order to make the bus.  And unfortunately, I did not sleep well that night.

But the show must go on so we got up, put on our run gear along with a lot of extra clothes to keep us warm while we waited at the start.  This race is notorious for it’s super cold start line temps.  I remember reading about one year when it was in the 20s at the start and everyone stayed on the buses for hours waiting.

In any case, this year wasn’t quite that cold, but it was definitely chilly.  We got off the bus, went immediately to the port-a-potties and then made our way over to 7-11 where we got Sean some coffee before meeting up with our We Run Social & ProCompression friends.  ProCompression debuted a special race specific sock for CIM.

We took some photos and then all when our own ways.

Us back to the port-a-potties and then we made a mad dash to the gear check buses which were a disaster!!  Seriously, a total mess.  There were people throwing bags into the trucks, everyone was pushing and shoving and a guy is saying Do not throw your bags, would you throw them at your daughters?  It was a total mess.

We got our bags in eventually and then made our way over to the start.  I was surprised to see that there were no corrals for the most part, just pace signs, it’s interesting in a race where a lot of people are trying to BQ that there are no real corrals.  I started by the 4:38 pace group, but I could have started pretty much anywhere.  They did a quick national anthem and then we were off!

Seeing as I ran a marathon the weekend before & a hilly 10k the day before, I decided to enjoy the race and just run.

Last week Brian wrote a blog about looking at the course profile.  CIM is a net downhill course and when I look at my Garmin, it shows a downhill course.  But there are A LOT of little uphills pretty much the entire course.  So while it is a downhill course, it’s very deceiving because it’s not completely downhill.

I was aware of this and so I started out conservatively, my goal was to finish under 5 hours, as I ran the goal eventually morphed into trying to keep my mile splits under 11mins to keep myself entertained and if I could get close to 4:30 that would be great but I wasn’t really gunning for that.

It seemed like the rolling hills just went on forever.  A few people told me that they were for the first 10.5 miles or so, but it didn’t seem like we evened out until about mile 22 or so.

I started out behind the 4:38 pace group and some how I got a bit caught up with them, there was a big group of people and it was really hard to get around them.  Eventually I made my way around and tried to get a good rhythm going.  This race was good hill training practice, I guess.

In any case I just kept chugging along and eventually I came up on Brian & Richard @blingwhore and the 4:30 pace group.  They went to get some water and I kept heading down the hill.  This was probably around mile 5 or so.

It wasn’t so bad temp wise at the actual start and for the first 2 – 3 miles it felt ok, and then it we went past this farm it was absolutely freezing! I distinctly remember because there was this beautiful young horse that would run up to the fence and then run back and it looked so unbelievably graceful.

I was so cold I could see my breath but I had to keep moving so one foot in front of the other until about mile 7 I ran up and down all the hills.  Then I was totally over it.  I saw my friend Haley, who know lives in SD but is from Sacramento.  CIM is her favorite marathon.  I was like holy hills.  She and her friends laughed and said there were a lot more to come.

At some point Brian, Richard & the 4:30 pacers caught up with me again, we chatted for a few minutes and then I kept moving.  They would pass me a bit later and be in front of me until I saw them at an aid station again around mile 16ish?  I saw Megan @runmeganrun not long after that so I stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes.  Her tummy wasn’t feeling great so she was just trying to survive the rest of the race.  I was still so chilly I had to keep moving to stay warm.

The course itself, was ok, there were some really nice areas with fall trees and at one point we went over the river, but for the most part, we ran through residential neighborhoods and through a lot of strip malls.  Race courses that run through areas like that are not my favorite.  I didn’t feel like it was a very “pretty” course and quite frankly, I didn’t get the “favorite course” vibe that a lot of people have.

Now, I’ve had the opportunity to run a lot of races in some really amazing places and so maybe I’m getting jaded, but running through strip malls and neighborhoods doesn’t do anything for me.  I want a scenic course that gives me awesome views, amazing spectators and entertains me.  While there were a few spots where there were a decent amount of spectators the majority of the race there weren’t many.

Back to the race now, I saw Haley again around mile 20ish I think, I was behind her and I was trying to keep up my sub 11 min miles but I was tired, my legs were shot from all the hills and I was so ready to be done.  I finally caught up to her at mile 21ish as we went over the only bridge in the whole race.  She said this is the last big hill before continuing on.

We went under a tunnel with a big sign declaring we were in the final 4 miles!  The miles were just being checked off from this point on.  We went up a short hill and then the roads changed once we got into Sacramento.  There was a nice flat section in the middle but it was slanted on the sides.  At this point my feet were starting to hurt, along with the inside of my left ankle.  I just wanted to be done and in my warm clothes.

Finally we made it to mile 25 and let me tell you, that last mile seemed like it was the absolute longest mile ever!  There was a big blue inflatable at the end of the road and I finally asked someone if that was the finish line?  They said no, we have to turn at 8th Street.  So I counted down the blocks until we were finally turning.

I finally made the turn heading towards the finish line. This is the only race I’ve ever seen this at  they have separate finish lines for the women & the men. The women get the first left, while the men get the second.

And then for about 15 seconds is the best view of the whole race, the Capital Building with a huge Christmas Tree in front of it!

I had finished my 7th marathon of the year and while it wasn’t my fastest race, it was a decent showing considering all the miles I’ve been putting in lately.

Now, I had to find Sean.  He normally waits for me if he can at the finish line, but I finished about 45 ish minutes behind him so I was thinking he might have gone to get his warm clothes on.  I got my signature medal selfie pic and then headed out of the finish area.

Whole Foods works with them on the post race food and had those yummy Vega snack bars, kind bars and Pop Chips along with bottle water.  Once outside the finish line, they had hot oatmeal as well.  I didn’t see Sean so I made my way to the drop bags so I could get changed.

Once I was changed, I walked around looking for him for about 30 minutes.  I eventually ran into Brian, who I congratulated and then said I can’t find Sean, hoping he might have seen him.  And he did around mile 25.5 so I took off and there he was.  I was like I’ve been looking all over for you! LOL.  It looks like he left the finish line right before I finished and then I went to change and he thought I hadn’t finished yet.  OOPS, but I’m so glad that Brian saw him.

Pros: Well organized (except the bag drop at the start)
Nice medal & long sleeve shirt
Good post race food

Cons: All those hills!!
Not a very scenic course
Roads that have a lot of pot holes/cracks on them

Would I run this race again?  With all the races out there, probably not.  There weren’t enough spectators for my liking and personally I didn’t really enjoy the course.  It reminded me of the Phoenix-Mesa marathon course, yeah, it’s a net downhill, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pretty course.  I’d rather run Mountains to Beach again (even after my bad experience there) because at least there are beautiful views.

I can’t even say that I didn’t like it because I did badly, because I had a decent race, I think that it just didn’t live up to the hype.  I was expecting something amazing and for me, this wasn’t it.

Have you ever run a race that everyone raves about only to be disappointed?

Race Recap: The North Face Endurance Challenge California – Marathon Relay

If you’ve been following along for a while, you might remember that last year I won 2 entries into the North Face Endurance Challenge California through an Instagram contest put on by Repreve. I gave my original entry to Sean so he could run the 50 miler and then they gave me a second entry so I could run as well.  I picked the relay and it’s where I first met Maili @mais_runs_trails.

This year, Sean wanted to run the 50 again so we figured things out and decided to do a double race weekend.  He would run the 50 miler on Saturday and then we would drive to Sacramento and both of us would run CIM on Sunday.  I originally didn’t anticipate running at Northface, instead just cheering on my friends and possibly spectating.  But then my friend Jeremy was like, hey, aren’t you going to be there?

He asked me to be a part of his relay team and after making sure he was ok, I would probably run the 6.5 mile lap relatively slow because I was running the marathon the next day, I agreed to be a part of the team.  At the start it was just the 2 of us, but we quickly had a full 4 person team.

Originally I thought it would be good to be the first runner, since I’m the slowest, but after thinking about it and discussing with the team, Trevor was to run first since they do a November Project video at the start.  I am not a member of the November Project and I really don’t know much about the organization except what I’ve seen at the various North Face events.  The rest of my team, however are all part of the Phoenix branch.

After thinking about it, I wanted to be at the finish to be able to see the 50 milers battle it out.  I thought Jim Walmsley was going to be there, along with Zach Miller and Sage Canaday and it could be an epic battle for first place.  I was excited to see the finish so I asked if I could be the 3rd runner.

Sean & I didn’t arrive in SF until late on Friday night, we flew in separately because he was in Vegas for work and I stayed in SD, but we managed to arrive within minutes of each other and one gate apart.

We headed into the city, got checked into our hotel before heading to get some pizza for dinner.  We had to get up really early on Saturday morning so we had a quick dinner and then headed to bed. 3am was going to come quick.

We got up, headed over the Golden Gate Bridge and over to Fort Barry.  We were there pretty early, about 4am, we got a great parking spot near the start area.  And happened to park right next to Molly, the RD from Whoo’s in El Moro.

We headed up to get Sean registered and then ran into a bunch of our friends, it was like a party up there, lol.  We chatted and caught up with them and then it was time for the 50 miler to start.

I wished Sean good luck and watched them all head out.  My favorite part about this race is hanging out and chatting with all the runners in between the race starts.  I chatted with a guy who came all the way from Guatemala to run the 1/2 marathon and pace his nephew in the 50.  A lady from New Orleans cheering on her husband in the 50k, a few runners from Canada, a bunch of runners doing their first marathons and one of Altra’s newest elite runners, Amanda Basham.  I had a blast!

After a few hours of chatting with other runners, I saw Jeremy and met the rest of the team and a bunch of others runners from Phoenix.  We caught up a bit, got a pre-race team photo and I found some wifi so I could check on the Western States & Hard Rock lotteries for Sean.

Eventually 10am got there and we were off!  Trevor killed it out there and knocked out the first loop in about 48 minutes! Wow! and with the crazy hill that was in the first half.  He was back before we knew it and then Jeremy headed out.

I watched as the first place 50k runner came in and then not much later, I saw Jamil coming and knew that the first place 50 miler, Zach Miller was right behind him. He was flying!  It was so exciting seeing him coming in to the finish.  Jamil headed out almost immediately and not too much later the second place runner came flying around the corner.  It was so exciting!  Come to find out Jim Walmsley decided to not to run, but it was an exciting race.  Which you can see the epic Miller vs Hawks video that Jamil made on Run Steep Get High’s youtube channel.

Then it was about time for me to head off on my loop.  I had been up since 3am and it was almost noon when I started so I was already a bit tired, lol.  I took off and wow, I was flying for the first mile and a half, around 8 minute miles, but then I hit the hill and that’s where the wheels fell off, lol.  I struggled up the hill with horrible calf tightness all the way up.  I hiked the majority of the hill but did try to run when I could.

Once at the top, I grabbed a few orange slices and a glass of water and then took off down the hill.  This year, this section was felt so much easier than last year.

I made it down the hill, across the street and ran into Maili, who had been out with iRunFar. I gave her a hug and then kept going.  Trevor saw me with about a 1/4 mile to go and ran in with me. I was starting to feel a bit sick, lack of calories I think, but I made it to the finish line and gave the tracker to Mike.

I felt a little better after eating some orange slices and a clif peanut butter filled bar, I just love these bars so yummy!  I did feel a bit bad, I was the weak link in the group, but I do feel like I did a bit better than last year.  And it was such a beautiful day, I just enjoyed myself out there.

I waited for Mike to come in so we could run in as a team.  While waiting, I saw Schuyler come by and then a few minutes later, I saw him come by again, along with Jamil, who had a bunch of ornaments in his hair.  I was like hum…maybe this is a Mountain Outpost challenge…

A few minutes later, I saw Mike come through and joined the other guys in heading to the finish line!

We got a quick group finish photo with Dean Karnazes.

I will say this year, North Face stepped it up with the race shirts, I really like mine, it fits properly, unlike last years which was stretched out and longer in the back and short in the front.  The medal looked a little nicer too, I still maintain that they should do a race location specific medal but it was nicer than last years & had a nice ribbon on it.

While I waited for Sean to come in I saw a few of my friends come in and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  We had such a great weather day, compared to last year.

Sean came in, about a half an hour ahead of last year’s time!  I got a great photo of him finishing and cheered in him in!

We got him some snacks, some dry clothes and then headed out to the car.  He could have gotten a meal, but the line was huge so we decided to just grab something on the way to Sacramento.

It was a great day, I’m sure we’ll be back to run this race again, but I feel like next time, I’ll go for the marathon or 50k vs running CIM, but I’ll talk more about that in my CIM recap ;).

Race Recap: Santa Barbara Red Rock Trail Run – Marathon

The race recap blitz continues…

Mid-October to November was busy with a lot of travel & a lot of racing so originally we were going to just stay home and chill for Thanksgiving.  But it was Sean’s birthday weekend so when I asked him what he wanted to do, he said, “I just saw that the Santa Barbara Red Rock 50 & Marathon is on Saturday.”

We were interested in this race last year but couldn’t make it work.  So this year after we found out it was on Saturday, not Sunday, we were like let’s do it so the Monday before, we checked on hotels and went to ultrasignup.com and got registered.

We drove up to Santa Barbara on Friday, we were planning to leave around 11am but ended up leaving a bit after noon.  There was a bit of traffic around LA of course but we made it there around 5ish.  Checked into our hotel and then hit the boardwalk for a quick 4 mile shakeout run.

A nice dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby and a flat Jenny photo and we were headed to bed.

The race started at 6am and it was about a half hour from our hotel.  The weather was calling for rain most of the day so we had a lot of extra gear to accommodate for that.

The start of the race was at the same place as Santa Barbara 100 so we knew exactly where to go.  It wasn’t easy to find a parking spot this time thought since there were a lot of campers.

And it was 35 degrees so we were freezing!  I was originally going to wear shorts but ended up changing into a pair of capri’s.  I wore my North Face Thermoball jacket and a long sleeve shirt with a buff over my ears.

As usual with an ultra, there is a bit of a chat and then you’re off.  With this race, they were really specific about the fact that we all had to check-in with Jean Ho at the finish no matter what.  After Luis told us that about 4x we were off.

I started the race chatting with Gisele, the female marathon winner and Lori, the 50 miler female winner.  Gisele is super fast and I knew there was no way I would be able to keep up with her, lol, so after a few minutes I slowed a little.

This race had a number of water crossings, with the first one about a mile into the race.  As we got to it I saw a bunch of people off to the side taking their shoes & socks off.  I was like I just don’t want to deal with that so I just walked right through.  I decided to wear my Altra Superior 2.0s because of the issues I had with caking mud & my Olympus 2.0s and they were amazing!  I had absolutely no issues with caking except in the areas that I was skiing in the mud.

I knew I had 2 more races coming up the following week and I was considering attempting a PR at CIM so I didn’t want to go too hard.  And since Sean was going to be out there for quite a few more hours I had a lot of time to just enjoy myself out there.

As the sun came up, it was absolutely gorgeous out.  Bright blue skies, a beautiful sunrise, absolutely beautiful single track and crisp cool temps.  I kept my jacket on the whole race except for about a mile in the middle of the race.

I also, couldn’t fit my headlamp in my pack so I ended up wearing it the whole race, lol.

There were 2 aid stations on this out and back course, one at mile 7/22 and then another at mile 12/17.  After the mile 7 aid station there was a stretch on the road.  I recall this road from when I was crewing for Sean at SB100.  We ran on the road for about 2ish miles before heading up the mountain.  During this section there were a few more water crossings.

It was nice, peaceful and so beautiful.  I hiked the uphill before running down a nice downhill that was reminiscent of the never-ending downhill we did at Kodiak back in September.

Another steep climb and I made it to the 12 mile aid station.  The volunteers there were so nice, I got some orange slices before heading out to the turn-around.

This was a pretty hilly course and it felt like it took forever to get to the halfway point, which was actually about 14.5 miles out.  I was so ready to be at the turn-around.  There wasn’t a aid station at the turn around, but it was really obvious it was the halfway point.

I took a bunch of runfies while hiking up the hills, of all the things I brought with me, I forgot my sunglasses so I’m a bit squinty in all the photos, but I was having fun, at this point at least.

Once I got to the turn around, I felt so much better and was flying down the trail.  I didn’t realize that it was as uphill as it was on the way out but it was so much easier on the return.

I swear it took me no time at all to get to the aid station again.  When I got to the top, I told them that it was so much easier on the way back, to which they responded no one else had said that, they all were like it was uphill both ways, which it was, but it seemed easier to me lol.

I refilled my Orange Mud ultra pack and had a few more orange slices before heading down the hill.  I knew I had to head back up the never-ending hill I went down earlier.  I just kept pushing on, as the weather started to turn.

I had been hoping with the bright blue skies that we had earlier would continue, but alas, that was not the case.  Almost as soon as it was 11:00am, the rain started.

I was heading down the hill back to the road and the first/last aid station when it started raining.  It wasn’t too bad at first so I waited until I got to the campground to use the bathroom and put on my water proof jacket.  I still had about 2 miles to get to the last aid station so I made my way up the road to the aid station.

I finally got there and it was starting to really come down by this point.  I stopped to get some more water and get my poles out.  This section I knew was going to be interesting with all the rain.

I headed up the hill, at first it wasn’t too bad.  But not long after that, things started getting really slippery.  This was the longest 7 miles I have ever done, let me tell you.

I was cursing Luis saying who’s bright idea was it it make a marathon 29 miles yada, yada, yada ;).   It took me forever to do this section.  It was cold, it was wet and I should have just run through the stream of water down the main section of the trail (in some sections) but my feet were getting so cold.

There were some sections where it was so slippery and we were on the side of the mountain, I just was trying not to fall off, lol.  I kept thinking that no matter how long it was taking me, (there were times when I would look at my watch and be like seriously, I still have 5 miles to go?) at least I got to do this in the daylight, Sean & the other 50 milers were going to have to do this section in the dark.

I was cold, wet, hungry and not having a whole lot of fun during this section.  I eventually ate a peanut butter filled clif bar.  These are seriously the best – I love them and am always excited when a trail race says they will have clif products because they normally have these.  Anyways after eating a little, I felt a little better.

Eventually I got off the single-track and on to a fire road where I could run or in some cases ski down the trail.  As I was running down this section, I happened to see what looked like a random swimming pool, it was really odd to me, but I guess there was a house that was off the trail.

I finally got back to the first water crossing and by this point, it was over my knees, it was under my knees the first time I went through.  I sucked it up and through the water I went.  And oooh was it chilly.  My feet and legs were tingling for a few minutes after I got out. But I was a mile out from the finish and the rain had stopped for a bit so off I was excited that I was almost done.

Not too much later, I saw the gate at the end of the street and I knew I was almost to the finish line! I saw my friend Jen – she cheered me to the finish and there were a few others who started cheering as I got closer which was nice.

I crossed the line, got a nice medallion, Luis doesn’t give out traditional medals at his races, instead they are give custom finishers medallions.  They are different for everyone.

I got a photo with Jean and then headed immediately over to get some hot soup.  I was so freezing! And let me tell you, the chili, was amazing!  I had 2 bowls.

After my first bowl of chili, I had to get changed, I was so so cold.  Fortunately they have decent sized bathrooms at the camp-ground so I was able to get changed, carefully, since the floor was wet.  I got a 2nd bowl of chili and settled into the car to wait for Sean.

This was by far the hardest “marathon” I’ve ever done, it was fun for the first 22ish miles but that last 7 miles (or more specifically) miles 22 – 26 were super challenging due to the rain.  I would like to run this race again in better weather conditions, without mud.  I didn’t even mind the water crossings, it was the mud that I didn’t enjoy.

Race Recap: Revel Canyon City Half 2016

I am so very far behind on my race recaps, so here comes a recap blitz… I am determined to get all these recaps up before the end of the year starting with Revel Canyon City.

Sean & I ran this race for the first time last year.  I had the opportunity to run the whole race with my friend Kat, you can read that recap here.

We signed up for this year in the week following the race because they give you an extra discount.  Like last year, we signed up as a part of the SoCal MRTT team, I know I’m not a mom, but I am good friends with Smitha ;).

Originally the race was scheduled for the same weekend as the NYC Marathon and then a bit after we registered they sent out an email saying that the date was changed to the following week, which worked well for us since we were trying to get into NYC.

Revel is a fun race & it’s close to home and also a BQ course.  Sean came really close to a BQ last year and wanted to try again.  I decided to run the half again.

Again, we drove up the night before, we got lucky because it was Veteran’s Day and there was very light traffic so we made it to packet pick-up with 30 minutes to go.

We grabbed our packets, got our shirts, I paid an extra $4.95 to have a fitted cotton T instead of the normal shirt and they gave us a beanie.  Again there were gloves and a heat sheet in the bag.

We took a few photos and then off to dinner we went.  We ate at one of those pizza places where you can make your own pizza and it’s done in about 5 minutes.

After dinner, I took a flat Jenny photo and time for bed.

The race is about a half hour or more from the start so we got to the finish line area around 4:00am.  I walked over with Sean to the marathon buses, wished him well and then headed over to the half marathon buses.

Interestingly once I got to the buses, they had a few school buses and then a bunch of nicer buses.  I waited a few minutes until the school buses were full and then boarded a bus lol.  It’s a bit of a ride to the start and I really wanted to take a short nap, I got a bit car sick on the way up last year so I wanted to be able to lean my head on the seat.

I got up to the start line, where it didn’t seem nearly as cold as last year.  I waited for Smitha to get to the start and chatted with some other runners while I waited.

Once she got there we took a few photos and then before long I was starting to shed clothes to put into my gear check bag.  Like last year they had a ton of port-a-potties at the start and there were virtually no lines.

And again, the start was very casual, it was pretty much, and go! very similar to an ultra.  I wasn’t sure how my ankle was going to do since I had had some issues at NYC the week before, so I just decided to take it easy.  Also because the first few miles have some decent hills.

I felt ok, but had some calf tightness going up the hills, big surprise there, that’s a common thing for me.  I walked a few of the hills and eventually the tightness dissipated.  I just kept moving, step by step until before I knew it I was at the bottom of the mountain.

I hit up a port-a-pottie around mile 10ish and then ran all but the a small hill at the end of the race.  I felt a 100x better in this last flatter section than last year. I’m not sure if it was because the weather was a bit more overcast than last year or if it was I am just stronger than last year.  Either way, it was nice to feel strong at the end of the race.

I finished strong, passing a few people at the end and finished in a respectable time for me 2:06 or so, I don’t really remember exactly.

They do however give you a nice print-out with your time at the end of the race.  It tells you your time, pace, place in age group, overall, etc.  It’s a nice benefit.

This year there were tags on the bottom of our bibs for pizza, an aloe gloe drink & a piece of pie.  I got a bottle of aloe gloe and a piece of apple pie (they had apple, pumpkin & lemon meringue from Marie Callenders).  I got my clothes, got changed and headed to the finish line to wait for Sean.

I checked the tracking and he was on pace for a 3:05 finish so I was really excited for him.  I saw Smitha come in, took a few finish photos for her and then kept waiting for Sean.  3:05 came and went and I was starting to get worried.  He was doing great and then it was like, uh, what’s going on.

Eventually I saw him pushing it to the finish and I knew he was devastated.  He missed it by a little over a minute.  By the time I got to him after he finished he was beside himself and so upset.  He had forgotten his watch so he had no idea what time he was at and his body was starting to shut down.  He literally could not run any faster.

I have no doubt that he can definitely BQ, in the 3 weeks prior to this race, he ran the Venice Marathon, a sub-23hr 100 at Javelina and NYC and that’s all with no specific speed work.  With a bit more rest and a few speed work sessions I know he can get it, maybe even go sub 3. 🙂

We have already signed up for 2017, this time I too will be running the marathon and who knows, maybe I’ll go for a BQ too, I will be in a new age bracket so I’ll have an extra 5 minutes lol.

In any case, we really like this race, it’s fast, downhill, has great swag, free photos and a super nice medal.  I look forward to running it again next year!

 

Review + Instagram Giveaway: Rabbit Sleevie Wonder

If you’ve been following Sean @ultrarunnersd on Instagram or have seen any of our running photos together for the last 6-9 months, you’ve probably seen him running in Rabbit shorts.  He loves their Daisy Dukes ;).

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So when the nice folks at Rabbit contacted me to test out and review some of their new fall line and do a giveaway I was super excited for a few reasons.

#1 – Sean loves the brand and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, lol

#2 – It’s California company, based out of Santa Barbara, I even saw one of the founders, Monica, out on a run when I was crewing for Sean at the SB100 in July. And not only that, the clothes are made in Los Angeles, which allows them to keep a close eye on the production of their products.

#3 – Their clothes are really cute, I mean come on, that little rabbit logo is too cute.

They sent me 2 pieces from their new fall line.  I’m going to review the Sleevie Wonder today and I’ll be reviewing the other piece in a few weeks.

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What is the Sleevie Wonder?  Well it’s a long sleeve shirt that comes in 2 different material options.  1) All “rabbit mesh” or 2) a combo “rabbit mesh” & heather.   It’s got a thumb hole and it’s lightweight, so so soft and it’s a slightly looser fit.

I got a size medium, I’m a 6/8 in other brands depending on the fit, but I have long arms and hate tight necklines so I typically go up slightly to accommodate.  The medium fits me perfectly, the arms are just a tad short with the thumb hole used but not bad.  And the neckline is slightly lower than a normal crew-neck which suits me perfectly!

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I found it to work well in the upper 40/low 50 degree temps that we’ve had here recently in San Diego.  It’s not too heavy but it’s not super light either.  Kind of like Goldilocks, it was just right :).

I picked the combo Rabbit Mesh & Heather sleevie and OMG, the heathered portion of the shirt is so so soft.  It feels amazing on, I seriously just want to wear it all the time.  The rabbit mesh arm is so cute with lots of little rabbits all over the arm.  I found the mesh arm to be a little thinner than the heather arm which was a nice contrast.  It allowed a little more airflow which kept me cool when I heated up.

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There are 4 different colors for the sleevie wonder, 2 each for the different styles.  I picked the deep blue heather color, it’s kind of a dark purple and since purple is one of my fav colors, I figured this would be a better fit for me than the black heather.  There are also 2 different colors in the all rabbit mesh, a hot pink called cabaret & navy blue called dress blues.

It’s not super cold here in San Diego yet, but last week we had a little cool spell and I couldn’t wait to try my new Rabbit gear out.  The sleevie felt great on, like I said before it is super soft and it wicked sweat nicely. One of the nice things about Rabbit is that their gear dries really quickly.  I wish they would come out with a fast drying sports bra, because post run, wet sports bras are the worst!

I didn’t have any issues with my sleevie riding up or moving around, in fact I barely felt like it was on.  I did wear a tank under it the first time I wore it and I also tried it a second time with only a sports bra underneath and it fit great either way. I foresee this being a great addition to my cool SD weather arsenal.

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So now that you’ve heard all about how much I love my Sleevie Wonder, I know you’re thinking about that giveaway I spoke about earlier…

One person is going to win a the top of your choice and all you have to do is:

  • Follow @runinrabbit & me @runnylegs on Instagram
  • Post a photo of yourself telling us what your strategy is to keep running consistently during the holiday season. Mine? I started the #RWRunstreak a few days early and am determined to see it through so I run at least a mile everyday.
  • Tag @runinrabbit & @runnylegs so we can see your photo.  Public profiles required so we can see your photo.

The contest will run from Monday, Dec 12 – Friday, Dec 16 at 11:59p Pacific.  The folks at Rabbit will chose the winner.  Winner must reside in the US or have a US address to ship to.  Void where prohibited.

Don’t want to wait to get your own Sleevie Wonder or other awesome Rabbit gear?  Use code runnylegs at checkout and save 20% on all rabbit products

Foodie Finds: Protein Version + A Giveaway

I love food!  And it’s no wonder coming from a huge Italian family :). I used to be incredibly picky, but over the years and a lot of time in the food & beverage industry have opened up my eyes to a lot of yummy foods that in the past I would have never tried.

That being said, as I’ve discussed before, I don’t really like to cook, which as a foodie is probably sacrilegious but it is what it is, right.

So when I have the opportunity to try new products that are tasty, easy and mostly healthy, I’m all for it.

In the past few weeks I’ve been sent some new (to me) products and I thought I’d share my thoughts.  Interestingly enough all 3 of these products are protein products that I could use either before or after a run.  I received free samples of each of these products, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

First up, Doughbar Doughnuts, a protein packed doughnut.  Who doesn’t love doughnuts?  These are so cute and come in a number of flavors.  The Northern California bakery sent me a few to try.  I picked Apple Pie with Streusel Crunch & Maple Bacon and then they sent me the Cookies & Cream.

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Doughbar Doughnuts are baked not fried and packed with 11 grams of protein in each doughnut.  They have 3g sugar and 150 calories each.  Right now they aren’t gluten free but they have one in the works that will be coming soon.

Doughbar sends you instructions on how to make your doughnuts.  You heat them in the microwave for a few seconds and then you decorate them however you want with the frosting & crunch (also microwaved for a few seconds).

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So how do they taste?  Well they are a bit heavier than a traditional doughnut, I equate them to more bagel like than doughnut like, but they were tasty.  I was expecting to like the apple pie flavor the best, but the Cookies & Cream were my favorite!

They take orders at 8:00am on Thursdays and then ship as perishable goods on Mondays, the doughnuts range from $15 – $39 for 4 – 12 doughnut packs – there is a $9 flat rate shipping cost as well.

Next up, the folks at Mighty Organic Organic Beef Bars sent me an awesome gift pack (they were also giving away a 1000 bars via an email I received as well) with 2 of their new beef bar flavors and some other cool things.

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I was shocked at how many bars they sent and really impressed with the flavors.  I have to say in the past, I would have been a bit leary of the a beef bar, equating it to the jerky that you see in a convenience store.  I can honestly say I’ve never had one of those jerky sticks.

Mighty Organic’s beef bars are nothing like what I imagine those sticks to be like.  They have 3 flavors, Uncured Bacon & Apple, Cranberry & Sunflower Seed and Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper.

From their website absolutely no antibiotics, GMOs, synthetic hormones or toxic pesticides are used in Mighty Snacks. They have 8 grams of protein, are gluten & nut free.  They use 100% grassfed, organic cattle raised in the Channel Country of the Australian Outback.

They sent me samples of the Uncured Bacon & Apple & the Cranberry & Sunflower Seed bars, although I have to say the sea salt & cracked pepper sounds amazing & I’m excited to try it next!

The beef bars are soft and chewy, they are super flavorful.  I really enjoyed them, especially the uncured bacon & apple.

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You can find Mighty Snacks at Whole Foods, Sprouts and even 7-11 or online.  They sell them individually or in packs of 12, 24 or 48.

Lastly, local San Diego based company, Arctic Zero sent me some of their new flavors of Fit Frozen Desserts to try.

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Arctic Zero is handcrafted from Premium ingredients, no artificial ingredients, sweeteners or colors.  They use the finest quality whey protein that is lactose free.

Arctic Zero ingredients are Fat Free, Certified Gluten-Free (with the exception of 3 flavors), Lactose Free, GMO Free, Low Glycemic & Kosher and Vegetarian.  They have 12 grams of Protein per pint.

They sent me the 5 newest flavors, 3 Chunky Flavors – Brownie Blast, Banana Pudding & Snickerdoodle Dandy, 2 Creamy flavors Cake Batter & Poppin’ Pomegranate.

Of these flavors, 3 of them have 75 calories per serving, 300 calories per pint and the other 2 have only 35 calories per serving 150 calories per pint.

They recommend allowing the pint to thaw for 10 – 15 minutes before digging in to enjoy it at its creamiest.

So, how does it taste?  Well, I’ll be honest, the only one of the 5 that I really liked was the Brownie Blast.  The other flavors were very mild in taste & I had to search for the flavor, especially the cake batter.  But the Brownie Blast, was super yummy.  It tasted chocolatey and had chunks of brownie inside.

The texture is nice once it’s thawed and if you are looking for a low calorie dessert, I would definitely recommend the Brownie Blast.  With 75 calories per serving & 300 calories per pint, it’s a nice low calorie treat.  The other flavors, I would probably add to maybe some fruit or in the case of the Snickerdoodle Dandy, maybe a fruit crumble to give it a bit more flavor.

Now for the good stuff!  Mighty Organic generously is giving a gift bag, like the one I received to one lucky reader!  Want to try them for yourself? Enter below.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs from 12/9 to 11:59p 12/15/16.  Void where prohibited. Open to US residents 18+. Must have a valid email address.  Winner will be contacted and will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.