Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Recap

This weekend, I ran or rather ran/walked my 6th marathon, Mountains 2 Beach, which runs from Ojai to Ventura Beach. When I signed up for this race, months & months ago (it sells out every year) I fully intended to be running it much faster & of course not in a lot of pain.

Unfortunately, none of this would be the case, but I did finish and in doing so discovered a few things. But I’ll get back to that later.

Sean & I made the 3.5 hour trek up to Ventura Saturday early afternoon so we could pick up our bibs & meet for dinner with some of our friends.

The expo was, in my opinion, a bit of a disaster. This is not a huge race, I think there were only 1,500 participants in the marathon and more of course in the half. They held the expo at Ventura High School in a tiny little courtyard, I’m guessing where they serve lunch? Because there were a few tables interspersed with the booths.

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So many people in such a small space

The line to get your bib was super long and not well organized. There were 3 lines for the marathon at one tiny little table, if you were under number 600 then you got your bib in seconds, if you were in the other 2 lines, it took about 30 mins. We arrived at the expo around 3:15p and it had opened at 2p.

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Once I finally got up to the table, the bibs weren’t very organized, they were in little packets but kinda strewn across the table willy nilly. When I finally was asked my number & they started looking for it, they couldn’t find it & I waited about 5 mins until it finally was found.

I was not impressed. I’ve run a lot of races, mostly large but some big as well and while I’ve waited in line I’ve never seen a set up like that.

After getting my bib, Sean was waiting in line for me so I could get my race shirt, which wasn’t bad, a nice light grey women’s sized shirt with a v-neck and red lettering. I actually like it quite a bit. They handed out packets of KT tape and some sort of protein powder or something, I’m not quite sure.

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After we got our stuff, we headed over to our hotel & needed to get in our shake-out run. Normally, I’d do this in the morning but I figured after a long car ride I’d need to move a bit. I wore a new pair of shoes for the shake-out run & they felt too big so I wasn’t really too pleased with the run it we finished and met up with our friends for dinner.

We wanted to go for pasta/pizza but the place we were close to had a 2.5 hour wait so that wasn’t happening which meant either driving a little ways or going somewhere else close. We choose close & ended up at Duke’s griddle & grill. It wasn’t horrible but I didn’t exactly enjoy my sandwich but the fries were super yummy. We had a mix of sweet potato & regular fries.

We had an early morning so we went back – I took my traditional Flat Jenny pic and then got ready for bed.

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Needless to say I did not sleep that well and could feel the pain in my hamstring/glute pretty much all night. When my alarm went off I really wasn’t sure if I was going to run or not. Sean was like you’ll regret it if you don’t and while I don’t know about that, I did think that this is a sold out race, if I dropped out then someone who could have run missed out.

So I got ready & we headed out to park for the shuttle. From where we were staying it was a quick 5 minute drive to the downtown area. We found parking in a free lot & then walked about 3-4 blocks to where the shuttles were. They had shuttles on one side of the street for the marathon & the half shuttles were on the other side. They had a few people who were telling us which bus to go to. It was nice that they had the shuttles going on a rotating basis so we didn’t have to wait until exactly 5am to take the shuttle up. They had school buses to take us up to the start area. For the most part the bus ride was uneventful, although they had all the windows cracked so it was freezing the whole way up.

I had gotten some oatmeal from McDonalds so I ate that on the way up. I can’t say the last time I’ve been to McDonald’s maybe 2-3 years ago? But the oatmeal, with nothing in it tasted good.

We got up to the starting area & headed immediately for the port-a-potties. We saw our friends, but I was not in the mood to talk to anyone so we continued on. We did our business then huddled up on some stairs with the foil marathon wrap that Sean had brought with him. Thank goodness, it was pretty chilly. And they didn’t give us a drop bag at the expo so I didn’t want to chance bringing extra clothes. There was a bag drop but I didn’t see where it was.

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We got in line a second time and then made it to the start line just as they were singing the national anthem. Sean kissed me for luck and told me he didn’t care how fast I was or when I came in, he’d be waiting for me at the finish. I wished him luck and off he went up to the front. I was so not feeling this race & I really did not want to run. If this had been an out & back I seriously might have dropped out.

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I threw away the wrap & then waited for the start. I started near the middle of the 3rd corral since I knew I was going to be slow & started my watch. I thought there were going to be 3 starts but to my surprise everyone started going at the same time. I guess the announcer made a mistake or something but fortunately I started my Nike plus & then waited for my watch to boot up. It would take 1.69 miles for my Garmin to get a satellite signal.

The first 1.69 miles is a little out & back loop where you go back past the start line. Then we would run a little bit on the road before heading to a bike path that we would take until about mile 5 & then loop around for 5 more miles before heading back to Ventura.

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I was doing ok, although I did feel my hamstring from the first step, until about mile 7. After that it was pretty much over. I started walking & then running when I could but there was a lot more walking or rather limping.

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Around mile 8 as I was practically in tears was like I saw your shorts on Instagram & she knew I was having a rough day but that they were super cute. It made me tear up a bit but it did help getting that little boost. 🙂 especially when I was contemplating dropping at that point.

I just kept chugging along, after the half way point I met 2 runners doing Galloway and ran with them for a short bit before dropping back. They would finish about 15 mins ahead of me.

I would speed walk/run with a lady doing her 47th marathon for a while between 16-19 before she started going too fast for me. Around this time my shorts started feeling really tight around my stomach. I’m still not sure why but I was starting to think I was drinking too much water because it felt kinda bloated & just weird.

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So now I had a pain in my leg and a pain in my lower left abdomen. I was a mess. I finally saw this girl around mile 19/20. I can’t exactly remember but it was about the time when I was starting to walk with my eyes closed which I figured was not a good thing. Lol. I said something to her, what I’m not quite sure but we started talking & ended up run/walking together the rest of the race.

We would start making run goals for ourselves, run to the sign, run to the train tracks, run to that tree, etc. etc. until we were closer & closer. Around mile 22 I got a text from Sean & he met us at mile 23 which is where you pass the finish line before having to go back around. He gave me a kiss, said hi to my new friend Sue Lynn & we kept going.

Around this time I was having a hard time standing up straight, my hips were so tight. We would get to the trail by the beach, still making little goals for ourselves. We finally made it to the Ventura Pier took our last walk break and then we saw the finish. It seemed like the finish line was so far away, but we made the decision to run it in. I’ll tell you, I wanted to walk a hundred times during this stretch, my calves were starting to cramp, I was hungry, etc. etc. but she wasn’t stopping and neither was I. One step in front of the other.

I’d see Sean on the side as we got into the finishing shoot. And as we were finishing the announcer would say my name and we were done! I got a photo with the lovely Sue Lynn from Austin after I got my medal.

We were so happy to be finished, it seriously was a struggle, although considering my training as of late, it’s really no surprise. Since the 50k last month, I haven’t run over 13 miles and even that was super painful.

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After I finished I met up with Sean to see how he did, he didn’t want to tell me at first but in that first mile with the little turn around, as everyone got super slow to turn he stepped on the guy in front of him’s foot & his ankle popped. It’s pretty much double in size. He took about 45 secs to decide what he wanted to do, took a few Advil and soldiered on. He ran with the 3:13 group until about mile 16 and then he slowed down, finishing in just under 3:50.


We went over to get some treats, a little container with 2 slices of watermelon, a sliver of banana, cookies, m&ms and twizzlers. Not that great but better than nothing. The best part of the post run celebration was that we were able to get massages from the massage tent. I guess finishing at the end has some perks as we only had to wait a few minutes before we got to get on the table. The girl did a great job & this is the first time in a while I’ve been able to get a post-race massage.

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We hobbled back to the car, went back to the hotel to get cleaned up, before getting lunch & hitting the beach for a bit of sun.


All in all I’m glad I ran, but I will be focusing more on trail races & half marathon road races for the foreseeable future. Marathoning puts a lot of wear & tear on the body.

Race Pros:
– Cool weather
– Organized shuttles
– Volunteers were super nice & helpful
– Great course
– Post Race massages
– The medal is awesome
– Free Race Photos

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Race Cons:
– The expo was a mess
– This is a very fast race where most people are trying to BQ. If you were like me & not very fast, it’s a very lonely course
– Not many spectators

Would I run this race again? That’s a tough one…Sean likes this race & it has a very gradual downhill which is nice but I think I’d probably run the half next time unless I was very confident in my training for a marathon.

OC Marathon – Half Marathon Recap

I have been so crazy busy lately and I have to say that this race was very last minute so it’s fitting that I would be really late in recapping my experience.

Sean & I decided to run the OC Marathon & Half Marathon at the very last minute, I believe I registered on Wednesday for the Sunday race.  We were very lucky to find a room at one of the host hotels, the Marriott Newport Bayview, which meant that there would be a shuttle to the start and then back from the finish.

We got some things done here in San Diego before heading up to Newport Beach to go pick up our packets and get a little carb-loading in.  It’s a quick drive up, under 2 hours, when you take the 173 which has a $14+ toll road trip.

We got to the expo, which was at the fair grounds, where you have to pay $7 to park.  The expo was a decent size considering the size of the race.  You walk into the expo, thru the official merchandise area to a separate section to pick up your packet.  There were separate sections to pick up the bib for each of the 3 races and the same for the race shirt.

OC Marathon, Expo, Bib Pickup, #runner

Since I registered so late, I had a pretty high number on my bib, but if you registered early enough you could have your bib personalized and even mailed to you if you paid a little extra fee (you picked up your shirt after the race).

Once we got our packets we headed inside, there were lots of vendors & some yummy treats.  The finish line was at the same place as where the expo was taking place so they were setting up the finish line area when we were there.

We didn’t stay long, just enough to do a quick pass and get some snacks before heading over to Whole Foods for some snacks for the morning and then checking into the hotel.  I found this awesome premade oatmeal which I decided would be a good thing to try for pre-race.  It was yummy although a bit too big for me.  I didn’t have any issues with nutrition during this race.

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We had dinner at a super yummy Italian place called Mamma D’s and then headed back to watch some TV, get our gear out and then get some sleep.  The shuttle to the start line for the marathon was at 4:15a which meant an early morning.  I got my flat Jenny photo and then relaxed for a bit.

Flat Jenny, OC Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Gear

I wasn’t really sure how my race was going to go since I have been battling a pain in my upper hamstring since we drove back from SF last month.  But really these days, running is just for fun, with the way my leg has been feeling I’m not going to push it and be in any more pain.

One of my “insta”friends, Adrian, @amaur88, posted that he was going to be pacing the 2 hour pace group so I figured, what the heck, I might as well start with them and see what happens.  The worse that would happen is that I would fall back or I might surprise myself.

The morning of the race I got up around 3:15a, I didn’t sleep much at all that night, I got ready and then tried to wake Sean up, his alarm didn’t go off at all while I was getting ready, come to find out he didn’t set his to go off until 3:50!  I was just a little surprised lol.  I finally got him up and we finished getting ready before heading down to catch the shuttle.

When we got downstairs, everyone was complaining that the shuttle was only for 8 people, which I thought was odd since I spoke with someone about it and it seemed like they were going to have buses.  Well come to find out I was right and they had really nice black buses with fancy leather seats.

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We got down to the start area and then had only a short walk to the starting area.  There were tons of port-a-potties and very short lines when we got there.  I of course didn’t have to use them at that time and by the time I did the lines were huge. 🙂 Typical when there are so many more half marathoners vs marathoners.

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Sean & I hung out for a little bit and then I watched him get started before dropping my bag off at the UPS Trucks.  It was pretty warm at the start, I was just wearing a Lululemon Power Y tank and a pair of shorts and I was a little chilly but not too bad, but I knew I was going to have to wait a little while for Sean to finish the marathon so I wanted to have some warm clothes at the finish.

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After hitting the port-a-potties, I headed to find the 2 hour pace group.  They were in the 4th corral I believe.  I’m not sure exactly how many corrals there were but there were 5 mins between corral starts.

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We started out running out of the mall area (the race started at Fashion Island).  I was with the pace group for probably 30 seconds before they took off and I was like yeah, that’s not going to happen.  I decided that I needed to just run my own race.  We got to an area where there was a downhill and I actually passed them and had some good times for the first 3 – 4 miles as we went thru a nice residential area and by the beach.  The pace group caught up with me in this area and as we went up a hill around mile 4 I lost them.  My hamstring wasn’t feeling too good going up the hill so I just decided to cruise the rest of the way.  Thank you to Adrian for this awesome GoPro shot of us.  Finally a photo where I look like I’m actually running, lol.

OC Marathon, 2 hour pace group, half marathon, instafriends

I did pretty good thru mile 5.  I was running 9:30 and under during these miles, then I started to run/walk abit and my mile times jumped a bit, especially with a small hill in mile 8.  After that we got to a section of the course that I really liked, it was on a sidewalk trail and went by the water.  It was pretty cool, I enjoyed that section of the race a lot.

I brought my bottle filled half & half with Gatorade & Water and then started drinking water & walking thru the aid stations around mile 7.  The volunteers where super nice and did a great job – there was definitely plenty of hydration.

Mile 12 was heading towards the fairgrounds, it seemed to be really really long, since we could hear the finishers.  Finally you turn in and you can see the finish.  But don’t get too excited because it is still a ways away.  I feel like it was almost a half mile from the time I saw the finish until I did finish.  That was a little disheartening and made it a bit of a challenge to decide when to kick it in.

I decided to just cruise in and finished in a respectable (for me) 2:11.

After I finished, I got my medal (this was half marathon #23 for me), a bottle of water, then made my way thru to get some post race snacks.  And of course got a sweet post race photo :).  I put on the race shirt after the race & I really like it.  It fits great and is a nice color.

OC Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, Race Shirt, Post Race Photo

They handed us a bag to put our snacks in as we made our way thru.  There was chocolate milk, gatorade, Kind bars, pretzels, bananas, Snappea Crisps and Power Crunch bars.

There was a lot of stuff going on after you get out of the finishers area.  All this time the weather was really cloudy & the marine layer was still down.  It wasn’t until after Sean finished that the sun finally came out.

OC Marathon, Post Race Party

All in all this was a good race, it wasn’t anything super special, but it was fun and considering I wasn’t expecting to run a race that soon after the 50k but it went better than I was expecting.

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Pros: Great Race Shirt
Nice Medal
Awesome Post Race Food

Cons: Parking fee to get into the Expo
No way to watch other runners finish the race
Post race shuttles were a little confusing.  There wasn’t anyone to tell us where to go.  We fortunately found ours quickly but a lot of people were in line at the wrong bus.

I’m an UltraRunner! Leona Divide 50k 2015 Race Recap

As per usual, it takes me a little while to collect my thoughts and write my big-deal race recaps. I attempted to start writing this recap earlier but I wasn’t quite ready yet, but I am now :).

Sean & I had been taking about my running a 50k for a while, we had originally thought about running the Black Canyon 50k in Arizona on Valentine’s Day.  I was really considering it for a while until after my not so fun experience in Vegas and subsequent low mileage in December.  There was no way I would be ready for a 50k in February and Sean was running the Sean O’Brien 100k the week before.  So we looked for another race and after looking for a while we decided that Leona Divide was a good choice.  It was between the LA Marathon & Mountains to Beach so I should be in better shape than in February.

And interestingly enough, the Leona Divide 50 mile race was Sean’s first ultra as well back in 2013 so it was fitting that it should be mine as well.

So the LA Marathon came, I did decently on relatively untrained legs, then I got sick with a mild version of the flu.  Being sick knocked me out of running for a good week and even after that for the next week – 10 days, my asthma and lungs were not cooperating.  Also during this time, I moved to San Diego.  I set up my home office and got acclimated to working remotely, basically it was a busy, happy but stressful time.

In the weeks after LA, Sean & I would run on a lot of trails.  I would battle with my body, that wasn’t happy with my nutritional choices, the hills and just plain fatigue.  I did not feel prepared at all.  Especially when running 10 miles on the trails was the farthest I’d gone in about a month and it felt hard and exhausting.  I contemplated dropping out but I knew no matter what, I could do it.  There was a 14 hour time limit and even if I had to walk most of it, I could do it.  Now, I didn’t want to be out there anywhere near 14 hours, but it did make me feel a lot more comfortable since there wouldn’t be any racing the clock like in Las Vegas.

And finally, the week of the race arrived.  I don’t typically do a traditional taper any more since we are pretty much always running, but I didn’t really run that much prior so I just did my normal routine.  Sean & I ran together on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, then drove up to Palmdale on Friday afternoon.  OMG, what a long and traffic filled drive.  I have determined that I’m not a fan of being in the car for over 2 hours anymore – lol.

We finally made it up there and went looking for a place to carb load.  I love to eat pizza before I race, but we were having a hard time finding a decent pizza place so we ended up at Olive Garden, which is not a bad place to carb load :).

The next morning we were going to have to pick up our packets at the start so we set our alarms for 3:30am to leave the hotel by 4:30am at the latest.  I set out all my gear and then headed to bed.  There is a lot more to think about when you are running an ultra – you are able to have drop bags with whatever you might need along the way.  I had two very cool drop bags, love my lululemon bags.

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We drove about 30 minutes to get to the starting area, it was chilly by the time we got there, about 42 degrees.  I wasn’t really prepared for super cold in the morning, I had my track pants & jacket for when we walked down to the start but I forgot my hat and gloves, oops.  Fortunately they weren’t needed once we got started.  Last year, Sean said it snowed a bit around mile 5 – 6, thank goodness that didn’t happen this year :).

So we got our packets, picked up our shirts and other race swag and then headed back to the car to warm up for a little bit before going to the start area.  When we got back to the starting area, we were going to hit up the restrooms, there was a huge line, however, we got super lucky, because the port-a-potties arrived just as we got back so we were first in line and for probably the first time ever, got to use freshly cleaned port-a-potties, which was really nice.

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It was time to get in line at the start area.  They made a bunch of announcements that I couldn’t hear but basically they were saying, stay hydrated & fueled.  There were 3 aid stations, one of which we would pass 3 times.  And most importantly, they were not stopping cars when you had to cross the street so to be very cautious and pay attention.

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So after all that it was time to go.  We made our way up the first hill on the road before hitting the trails.  The first 3-4 miles went really well, we started climbing a bit around mile 4 so there was some walking before we hit mile 6 and started running downhill, which was awesome, although it was pretty steep in mile 7, which was our fastest mile at 8:51!  Not too far after this we would hit the first aid station, Bouquet Canyon, which was the 50k turn around and where the 50 milers would keep going.

Howie Stern, Leona Divide, 50k, 50 mile, ultramarathon, california, first ultra
Photo from Howie Stern

At this point I was feeling pretty good.  I refilled my bottle with Gatorade, took off my long-sleeve shirt and we headed out again.  We were heading up the hill, running when we could, passing people coming down the hill so we would stop and let them go before heading on.  It was between miles 11 – 12 that things would start taking a turn and some burnt toast moments would start to derail me.

Leona Divide, 50k, 50 mile, aid station, Bouquet, california, ultramarathon

At one point, I tripped over something and lost my footing, which would end up with me pulling something in my left hip. And this was the time when we hit the steep hill so we walked a lot during this point.  Towards the middle of this section, I started to feel sick, very very nauseous.  I tried drinking more Gatorade and having a ProBar Bolt chew but it just made me feel more like I was going to be sick.  Sean gave me his water and took my Gatorade saying that the water would be a lot better for me.  We kept going, and were on a downhill starting at mile 13 so I walked & ran until we got to the next aid station.

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I would have loved some Ginger Ale, but they didn’t have any.  I had a small cup of Coke, a piece of watermelon and a few potato chips thinking maybe I needed salt and then we headed off.  The next 7 miles were the toughest of the whole race.  First it was pretty hilly at the beginning, my stomach was not happy for most of this time – those potato chips were a really bad choice as well as the Coke most likely and then I tripped a second time.  This time I totally pulled a muscle in my back and I could feel it lock up to the point where if I tried to run, it would just keep tightening.

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I was a mess, but I was determined even if I had to walk I was going to finish.  Poor Sean stayed with me the entire time, running a little bit and then stopping to wait for me, then running.  At this point it was getting warmer and it was soooo dry out, I wasn’t feeling any sweat at all.  We finally go to the downhill to head to the next aid station at San Fransquito Rd.  I was just running down the hill taking it very easy.

We got to the next aid station and I ate about 8 pieces of watermelon, which was pretty much the only thing that I could eat without feeling like I was going to throw up, filled my bottles with water and ice and then we headed off for the last part of the race.

Leona Divide, 50k, 50 mile, aid station, san fransquito, california, ultramarathon

We fast hiked up the hill and then started running again.  I was feeling better for the most part.  We ran then walked then ran some more.  About 2-3 miles from the next aid station, I started getting really tired so we walked a bit more.  We finally after what felt like a long long time got to the last aid station.  They were out of watermelon 🙁 but I did try a boiled potato which seemed to be a good fit.  At this point there was just 2.6 miles left.

Leona divide, 50k, 50 mile, trail run, ultramarathon, lululemon, altra running

A few of the 50 milers were dropping down to the 50k at this spot and one guy asked us if we were dropping, to which we were like uh, no we are almost finished we’ll get there.  We took off, I ran as much as I could and then we got to some hills, which I’m not ashamed to say I walked.  I was so so tired by this point but determined to finish!  We got down to the road and started running down.  I stopped to walk a few short sections and soon we were seeing my car and the finish line was almost in sight!

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When we got close there was a girl with a cowbell saying that this was the last turn and there it was – the Finish Line!!  Sean & I crossed the finish line, hand in hand.  We gave each other a quick kiss and then got our medals.

Stephanie Plomarity Photography, Leona Divide, 50k, 50 mile finish line, ultramarathon, altrarunning, lululemon Stephanie Plomarity Photography, Leona Divide, 50k, 50 mile finish line, ultramarathon, lululemon, altra running Stephanie Plomarity Photography, Leona Divide, 50k, 50 mile finish line, ultramarathon, lululemon

Finish-line Photos by Stphanie Plomarity Photography.

And I was now an ultra marathoner!

Our official time was 8:03:26, which was an average of 15:35 per mile with over 4,000 feet of climb.

Run-down:
Pros:
*My feet felt great – I wore my Altra Superior 2 shoes and I had no issues with my feet. They were super dirty but there was no pain, just a little fatigue :).
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*The volunteers were amazing! Thank you all so much for being out there to keep us hydrated, etc.
*Sean staying with me the entire time.  He crushed the 50 miler the year before in under 10 hours so for him to stay with me for the whole race even though I was crazy slow, was huge. I love you, babe!
*The course itself was amazing, it was well groomed, the vistas were beautiful and it was fun being out there!

Cons:
*My nutrition, I need to really work on this.
*Feeling sick most of the race, not a good feeling.
*Not feeling confidently trained.

Things I learned…I am so capable of this, I just had a few mishaps, i.e. Burnt Toast Moments, that I think I can avoid next time. And there will definitely be a next time.  I love being out on the trails and I can’t wait for my next race.  There are a few things that I need to do to ensure a better experience.  First and foremost, I really need to dial in my nutrition.  I really need to figure that out because it’s been an issue as of late.  Secondly, I’ll train more appropriately for the race, with more long runs out on the trails.  I already have another 50k in mind for the fall so while I am so very proud of myself, I am ready to go out there and have an even better fully trained experience!

30th Asics LA Marathon Race Recap

I wanted to write this recap last week before I moved, however, I ended up sick in bed for a few days, then had to finish packing before the big move this past weekend.  A little late but here goes… 

On Friday I flew over to SD to meet up with Sean so we could drive up to LA together.  We started the morning with a quick run around the neighborhood, then packed up and headed up.  It’s a pretty quick drive up to LA.  First thing on our agenda upon arriving to the city, was to hit up the expo and then get lunch. 

Since this was Sean’s 4th time running this race, he knew exactly where to go for the expo, which was at the Convention Center near the Staples Center.  We walked inside the expo where there was a big Welcome Runners banner, got our bibs, then went to the next area for our race shirts and bag of goodies.  There was no line for either of us at either station, it was around noon when we arrived.   

After that we tried to get out of the Asics store, it was ridiculous how crazy it was – lines pretty throughout most of the entire section.  All we wanted to do was get out lol.  Once we finally got out the first thing I saw was the Asics Pace Your Race pace bracelet station.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run the pace I selected because of the heat, but I thought I’d at least get the bracelet for a souvenir.  I had signed up for it online so the line for pre-registered runners was pretty short.

Next we just went thru the expo checking things out.  It wasn’t an overly large expo, but had all the main players.  

We found our names on the mural. How cool is it that both outlet names were in the same section? We were walking thru near the stage area and I just happened to look over to my right and who did I see?  The amazing, inspiring oh so cool Deena Kastor!  I was so excited and I asked Sean if he would wait with me so we could get a photo, which of course he would.  When we were in Chicago he had mentioned how he gets chills every time he thinks about her running the Chicago Marathon, which was featured in the original Spirit of the Marathon. 

We said hi & chatted with Deena for a few minutes before leaving for lunch.  She is going to be racing at the Carlsbad 5000 this coming weekend so we might be heading out to spectate :).  On our way out of the expo, we ran into our friends Rhea & Kenny who were coming in.  We told them about meeting Deena, wished them luck and said we’d see them the next day. 

We hit up Yardhouse for lunch, it was close and it wasn’t too busy.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich on a wheat bun and sweet potato fries & Sean had a salad & regular fries. After that and lots of water, we headed a bit further into the city to find our hotel. 

We stayed at one of the hotels that the marathon recommended in the downtown area, The Millennium Biltmore.  It’s a nice older hotel with a lot of history.  They held the Academy Awards there a few times back in the 1930s.  While staying by the beach would have been nice, it was more expensive and a lot farther from the start line.  We didn’t want to have to get up super early 😉 and there were shuttles only a few blocks from the hotel. 

We got settled in and then headed out for dinner.  We were going to try Bottega Louie, a cute little Italian place not far from the hotel.  We got there just before 6pm and it was already packed.  We were planning to carb up and for once I have to say my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.  We ended up with a huge piece of lasagna & a margarita pizza, which was disappointing, but we also had our first Chocolate Souffle which was amazing.  We were stuffed by the time we got back to the hotel.   I got my gear ready, took my Flat Jenny photo and posted on Instagram and then I totally passed out super early.   They were calling for extremely warm temps for the race, so the LAM race officials had made a few changes to accommodate the heat. 

1) They moved the race up 30 minutes to start at 6:55a 

2) They added additional water & Gatorade to the aid stations to make sure everyone stayed hydrated 

3) They removed the timing clocks from the course so that it allowed runners to just enjoy the race and not go too hard. 

With the race start time changing to 6:55am, we were close enough that we didn’t have to get up too too early.  I think I set my alarm for 4:30a and we were up and out the door by 5:15a.  We made it to the shuttles pretty quickly and managed to get in front of a huge group of kids that were part of the Students Run LA group to get on a shuttle.  The shuttles would take us over to Dodger Stadium. 

We made it to the Stadium, hit up the port-a-potties and then headed over to meet up with a few of our friends running the race too by the gear check.  We got in line to go a second time but the lines were really long and we didn’t want to miss getting into our corrals so at 6:25a, we called it and headed into the corrals just to be safe.  I don’t know how strict they were this year, but apparently in years past they were really strict. 

While I was in my corral, I ate a vanilla honey stinger, I had eaten some oatmeal before we left the hotel so this was just a little snack before the start.  It was already getting warm out by this point, I even saw a guy go down while we were waiting in the corral, if it was from the heat or nervousness, I’m not sure, but it was a little scary to see. 

They started the Elite women about 15 minutes before the Elite men and the rest of us.  It didn’t take that long until we were running thru the start line and out of the stadium. 

I forgot to charge my Garmin so I didn’t have any way to keep track of my time outside of my Nike+ but it was on my phone, which isn’t as easy to check.  That was OK with me because I hadn’t been training with it recently and considering my training this cycle it was just better for me to not worry about time. 

I was already warm around mile 2 so I just chugged along until about mile 4 when there was a bit of a hill.  I ended up walking up the upper half of the hill because of some minor chest pains that were a precursor to the cold/respiratory issue I ended up with after the race.

I stopped at every aid station after mile 4, filled up my bottle with more Gatorade and dumped water over my head.  I ran thru every sprinkler and kept myself as cool as I possibly could.  You would think that being from Phoenix, the heat wouldn’t matter, but we hadn’t had temps into the 90s yet at this time so I definitely wasn’t ready for it.

I was doing really well considering for the first 19 miles when the 4:30 pace group passed me.  By this point the sun was really out and I just wanted to finish without getting dehydrated or feeling bad so I just keep doing the run/walk thing – what interval I was using, I’m not quite sure but it was working for me. 

Miles 20 – 24 were somewhat shaded, it was on a nice residential street lined with spectators and charity tents.  It seemed like everyone was handing out water, orange slices, pretzels and other things.  Everyone was super nice and kept cheering us all on.

One of the nice things about this race was that you could see a lot of the mile markers as we ran.  There was an aid station every mile after mile 2 and so having both those things helped the course go by quickly.  There were a few Clif Gel stations, I think 2 that I can remember. 

The last 1.5 miles were probably some of the toughest mentally for me, you could see the finish line, but it was obviously still a distance away, and it was super sunny by this point.  Since I didn’t have my watch, I didn’t know exactly where I was at so I didn’t want to push it and start the kick too early so I ended up just cruising in to the finish.  

They did have a clock at the finish line and it was showing 4:41 which wasn’t too far off from my current PR so I was happy.

They haven’t finalized the results yet, they are still showing as “unofficial” but my time listed was 4:39:22 – less than 4 minutes off my PR which considering the heat and the my not so stellar training I was thrilled. 

Split times were decent considering:

5k – 29:02
10k – 1:00
15k – 1:31:23
20k – 2:04:16
25k – 2:37:14
30k – 3:12:41
35k – 3:51:16
40k – 4:26:19 

Sean met me at the finish line so we were able to get some finish line photos together.  We went thru the finish line area, got our medals, got some water and snacks before heading to a runner area so I could stretch my hips, they were so so tight.    After which we tried to find our friends, Rhea & Kenny, but they weren’t responding so we headed out of the finish area and made our way to the Santa Monica Pier to get some post race burgers & fries.   We would later get our celebratory dessert and a nice salad from Tender Greens to finish off race day :).   My thoughts:
– Well organized race
– They were really good at communicating with us regarding their plan to deal with the heat
– Lots of spectators – lots of people handing out water, oranges, pretzels, bananas and Twizzlers.  I even saw a couple grilling hot dogs and then another with beer shots.  Everyone was really nice.
– Great medals
– Overall good course with lots of aid stations
I enjoyed this race and I’m really glad that I was able to run the race without much pain, I didn’t have any issues with cramping or hydration.  I think that not being so concerned with time was a good thing for me, I actually enjoyed the race for the most part.

We’ll be back to run this one again :).      

Marathon Training: LA Marathon

So…here we are…Marathon #5 right around the corner and I’m not feeling entirely prepared yet again. I made a decision at the beginning of the year to not focus on time, but to enjoy the ride, which I have been. 

However this training cycle didn’t go exactly as planned. I started out good, but then a few things happened to get me off track.

December was really lazy, I did the Hot Chocolate 15k on the 7th and then didn’t run over 6 miles until the end of the month, when Sean and I ran 13.5 miles around San Francisco. 

Running over the Golden Gate Bridge

December: 11 runs 59.6 miles 

January was better – I started running more on the weekends doing back to back runs. Weekend 1 was 9 miles on Sat, 8 miles on Sun. Weekend 2 was 15 miles on Sat, 5.5 on Sun. Then we headed to Hawaii where I was supposed to pace Sean for at least 20 miles, but after he almost fell off the mountain there was no way he was going to let me out there. Especially since I have a huge fear of heights. We did however run at least 2 miles everyday we were there. 

I ended the month with a 10 mile run after work one day feeling a little better about getting in another semi long run. 

Heading to a waterfall near Hana on Maui

January: 22 runs 103 miles

February started out great with a 15 mile trail run on SuperBowl Sunday & then my one & only 20 mile run the next weekend. Sean & I went out for 13 miles to start off our Valentine’s Day. Then things got a bit of track yet again. I wanted to do another long run the next weekend but it just didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. The last week of February was the Phoenix Marathon & while I had great plans to run additional after my half marathon, it was freezing & I didn’t have another set of running clothes to warm me up. 



February: 16 runs 111 miles

March – well let’s not really talk about March lol. It’s already the 13th of the month and I’ve only run 25 miles with a nice 10 miles last weekend. 

I’m not sure what happened to my best laid plans but life got in the way. I know I am capable of running a marathon. I’ve already done 4 of them & while they haven’t all gone to plan, I know it’ll all work out. 

The LA Marathon is tomorrow & it is slated to break heat records with a current forecasted high of 91 so I don’t have any thoughts of PR. I just plan to enjoy the ride & hopefully take some photos along the way.  Whatever is meant to be will be, I’m just along for the ride

Phoenix Marathon 1/2 Marathon 2015

I kept meaning to write this recap but with packing, work and training, it just didn’t get done until now. When I ran this race in 2014 it wasn’t my best experience. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, I fell and my knee was all cut open, it rained. There were a ton of burnt toast moments in that race and it definitely wasn’t my favorite race.

So why did I decide to come back for another year? Well first off, it wasn’t super expensive, I think I paid less than $70 for this race and all sorts of people were running this race, from the RunEatTweetAZ peeps, to most of the Cave Creek Running Chicks, to tons of bloggers from out of town to friends of mine from other races & run groups. So I convinced Sean to sign up for the marathon and I signed up for the half again.

The Phoenix Marathon is deceiving in it’s name as I mentioned last year, it actually takes place in Mesa, but I think the race name has to do with, not only is it’s near the city of Phoenix, it is also referring to the bird the Phoenix, which was the focus on both of my medals.

When I signed up for the race, I wasn’t quite sure what my work schedule was going to be like, we typically do an out of town event the week of the race, but fortunately this year we did it the week before so I didn’t have to worry about missing the packet pick-up like last year.

First off, quickly, I made it to the official packet pick-up this year. It was held at Mesa Riverview over by the Sports Authority. When you arrive, you get your bib, they ask you to know your number and show a photo ID. They allow you pick up other runner’s packets too with the same info. I was picking up Sean’s packet too and just had to show a photo of his ID on my phone.

I got our bibs & the swag bags in the first part of the expo. Then you could walk thru to see the various vendors, they were selling my favorite Honey Stinger waffles 10 for $10 which is an awesome deal so I picked up a few of those and then looked at what else was for sale before heading in to Sports Authority to get our shirts.

Ladies…I think I did this last year too, but I normally like to have a medium in most women’s style race shirts. This is because they run small and have tight necks, which I hate. I’m just a little picky lol. Well the Phoenix Marathon shirts are by Albion, which is an awesome brand, but they run super big because the fabric is really stretchy. You couldn’t exchange at the expo, but if you brought your shirt to the race you could exchange there. I ended up getting the last x-small. So glad I did because the medium was pretty big on, definitely not something I would have ever worn because of how loose it was. So in case you are wondering what size shirt to get, if they are using Albion, err on the side that the shirts might be a bit looser.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Shirt, Arm Sleeves, 2015

Inside the swag bag was a bunch of random brochures, a pair of arm warmers, a mini sized peanut butter Clif Bar (finally not that horrible mint clif bar or luna bar that I always seem to get) and some sun screen.

All in all the expo was nice and for such a small race, pretty big & I’m glad I got to experience it.

This year, I didn’t want to have to drive the 30 – 40 mins to the race so Sean & I stayed closer to the race location, I got us a room at the Marriott at the Buttes Resort in Tempe, which was about 12 minutes from the race vs. 30-40 from my house. Sean isn’t really a morning person so I didn’t want to have to wake him any earlier than necessary and since we needed to be at the race location by 5am to catch the last shuttles to the start lines. I didn’t want to get stuck in a lot of traffic and have to rush to find parking and then get to the buses. Especially since the buses were in different locations for Sean & I.

I think I set my alarm for 3:30a and I’m pretty good about getting up when it goes off. I made Sean some coffee and then attempted to make myself some of the new Quaker Steel Cut Oatmeal packets. Burnt Toast Moment here or just tired girl moment, I forgot to pull the coffee packet from the coffee maker and so I go to eat the oatmeal and I’m like that’s right. Oops! Fortunately I had another packet so I was able to make another one.

We headed out to the race, it was a little chilly out, probably around 50 or so. I took my gear check bag so I could wear my track pants and jacket to the start line area. We made it to the bus area pretty quickly. There were different exits for the marathon & half marathon bus staging area. We decided to park near the half marathon buses because it was closer to the finish line and Sean walked/ran over to the marathon bus area.

I got on my bus pretty quickly – same set up as last year and then headed off on a 15 or so minute drive to the staging area for the start line. When I got off the bus, there were port-a-potties right there with a lot of heat lamps. There was a lot of space for everyone to wait for the race to start. I think I got there about 90 mins before the race would start. The buses started around 3:30 or 3:45am, I’m glad I didn’t get on an earlier bus, that was long enough to have to wait.

I walked around a bit before I saw one of my friends from my Slowrunners running group – I don’t run with them often any more since I’m trying not to use Galloway as much but I did run the Ragnar McDowell Mountain Trail Relay with them. Joe & I chatted for a while before another friend Trish came up to say hi. We headed over to near the start line to use a few port-a-potties that were over there.

After this I sat down near the gear check buses and just chilled for a few minutes. The guy next to me asked me some questions about my awesome Altra The One2 shoes so I gave him the run-down about them before checking my bag. I wanted to head up towards the start line to find the RunEatTweetAZ peeps for the photo op. On my way over, I ran into Cave Creek Nic so we chatted for a bit, took a few photos and were looking for the others. Eventually they came running past us and we all got a few photos. I haven’t really been able to be at a lot of the RunEatTweetAZ events, so I don’t know most of the other members but I did meet Corine (zucchinirunner), Jeremy (confessions of an amateur athlete) and Issamosley at the Hot Chocolate 15k. If I wasn’t moving to SD I’d definitely want to be more involved with this amazing group of people. Maybe they can come to SD for a field trip for Rock’n’Roll SD in June 😉

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Course, Start Line
with Cave Creek Nic before the start

with Issamosley (her photo) before the start
with Issamosley (her photo) before the start

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Start Line, RunEatTweetAZ
With the RunEatTweetAZ Half Marathoners – photo courtesy of RunEatTweetAZ

We all chatted for a few minutes before it was time for the race to start. I decided to keep my long sleeve lululemon shirt on for the race. I figured that if needed I could always take it off during the race and put it around my waist. I was fine for the first mile or 2 and then I started to get a little warm, but I was like, I’ll wait until at least mile 5 because I was feeling pretty good and didn’t really want to stop. I’m not sure what mile it was when the wind started to kick up a bit but I was glad I had it on because by the end of the race I was freezing.

I still don’t really like the course. I don’t find it very exciting at all and while there were some people out cheering us on, it’s not like a huge race where there are lots of spectators.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Course
We were all going about 7 miles per hour around this point of the race 😉

Now the finish line area, that was awesome. I have to say of all the races I’ve run and I’ve done a lot of them, this race had the best post-race food of any race I’ve ever done.

Issamosley & I post race - She did amazing even with a sore knee.  Her photo
Issamosley & I post race (her photo) – She did amazing even with a sore knee.

Soon after crossing the finish line, we were handed bottles of water, hand towels from 24 hr Fitness and our medals.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, 2015, Medals
His & Hers – Marathon & Half Marathon Medals

There was a section to have your finish photo taken, I passed, but it was there. Then you walked over to the food section. There was a muscle milk area with Muscle Milk shakes of course, yoga mats and foam rollers, an area to get massages and a line for food. The line was semi long but it went pretty fast. In line I talked with a lady who came down from Indianapolis to run the half and she asked me about my Altras too so I was able to chat about them while waiting for the line to progress.

First up was some fruit (orange, apples, bananas), Dole handed out fruit cups as well, then there were some breakfast breads, Sprouts had a small booth with multiple snacks, and then there was a BBQ food truck handing out mini bbq pork sandwiches and a really good mac & cheese with a little kick.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race Food
Post Race Grub – BBQ with Mac and Cheese

Turkey Hot Dogs
Turkey Hot Dogs

That was just in the runner only section. Then when you went out into the main expo area there were turkey hot dogs, green juice, Sprouts had another booth with tons of stuff, bottles of water, containers of coconut water, Svelte protein drinks, multiple snacks and they were telling us to take some of everything. When I went back with Sean a while later, there was even more & different items out. And all of this was free.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Swag Bag    IMG_3287

There were other food trucks with things like sodas, mustache pretzels and other things that you could buy. It was like a mini expo after the race. They also had a nice area for the awards, with seats and a seating area with little tables for you to enjoy your snacks, etc.

I got my bag of dry clothing, changed into some warmer clothes before heading back to my car to drop off my bounty, get Sean’s heavier sweatshirt and then headed off to wait for him to come in.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race, Finish Line, Medal
Post Race Photo

I thought he was going to be in somewhere around 4 hours. He was still recovering from the Sean O’Brien 100k at the beginning of the month and had a few issues with his knee and heel so I didn’t think he was going to push it but I wasn’t sure.

I ran into Olivia (Balancing Mommy) and her friends so I cheered with them for about 20 minutes before I saw Sean come in.

Me and Balancing Mommy cheering on the runners.
Balancing Mommy & I cheering together while we wait for Sean

I took a few photos, he semi stopped to wait for me to give him a quick kiss, awwww… lol. He had eaten a ton of red starburst so his mouth was bright red. At first I thought he had fallen and cut himself or knocked out a tooth, it looked like blood, but no, that’s what happens when you eat 12 red starbust 😉

Sean almost at the finish line

Love this photo of Sean as he sees me near the finish. Hilarious :)
Love this photo of Sean as he sees me near the finish. Hilarious 🙂

I met him at the finish, got a few photos, he got his medal and went thru the food area before meeting me. He had gotten blisters on the bottom of both his feet because he wore a pair of old Newton Distance shoes with about 600+ miles on them. Oops.

Sean right after he finished the Marathon

After we went thru the finish area again, we walked back to the car, headed off to get showered and changed before heading off to a celebratory post race lunch at my favorite restaurant, Flowerchild, where we met to oh so lovely Narindipity and her boyfriend Marcus in Charge who are the most awesome peeps (Definitely follow them on Instagram).

Lunch with Narindipity & Marcus in Charge

All in all it was a great day that I got to spend with Sean and with a lot of other awesome runners. I’m super blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of like minded people.

Runner’s Den AZ Pancake Run – 5K Race Recap

A few weekends ago I had a great confidence boosting run weekend – I ran 20 miles with the Cave Creek Chicks on Saturday and then on Sunday I headed down to the Paradise Valley Mall to run in the Runner’s Den AZ Pancake Run.

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15 miles into 20

This was the 37th year for this race and it is a flat & fast race.  They have had multiple elite athletes participate in both races, in fact the 10k American Record was set at this race twice over the years.  This year Olympian & American Record Holder in mile, Alan Webb participated in both races.

I’ve wanted to run this race in the past, but it never really fit in with my schedule.  Now that I’m doing things a little differently to train for my upcoming 50K, I’m running more back to back on the weekends to get my legs prepared.  I originally signed up to run both races and had every intention of doing so when I got there that morning, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

You have the option of picking up your packet on Saturday at Runner’s Den so I did that.  They gave us a cute Brooks shirt, it still had the tags on it and everything, a coupon for a free short stack of pancakes from IHOP and a unique bib. It was nice that the race was so close to my house and it didn’t start until 8am so I was able to sleep in.  After so many races of having to get up before dark, this was a nice treat.  I got up, made myself two pieces of toast with peanut butter, got my water bottle filled and then took off.

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It was somewhat cool when I left so I decided to wear one of my long sleeve shirts, a running skirt and a pair of ProCompression marathon socks along with my new Altra The One2 – which I love!!  I’ll review these shoes once I have worn them a bit longer. I got there with plenty of time.

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Since the race was starting in the mall parking lot there was a ton of parking :).  I made my way over towards the port-a-potties, did my business and then hung out for a while – they had packet pick-up that morning as well, TVs set up that would be scrolling the results and some vendor tents along with the pancake station.

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It got closer to 8am so I lined up somewhere I thought was about midpack, turns out I was much closer to the front, but that ended up being a good thing.  They announced that last year they had 10 people go under 17 mins in the 5K and that the first women came in at 17:01 so we knew this was going to be a fast race.  The only thing I was a little surprised at was that they didn’t play the National Anthem like they do at most races.  Considering how big of a race, that was interesting but anyways.

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And then we were off.  I really was worried about how my legs would react after the 20 miles the day before so I was trying not to run too fast.  I was far enough near the front that I didn’t really need to do too much in the way of weaving in and out around people.  I wasn’t really trying too hard, I figured if I was going to run the 10k later, I needed to conserve something for that :).

I passed the first mile marker around 9:02, I started about 20 secs after the leaders.

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Free Race Photos rock!! And I really want to see this movie too!

It was a nice & quite course – the only thing I didn’t like and it was my fault for not wearing my visor was that the sun was in my eyes after the first turn around and I couldn’t really see anything.  This was probably why the 2nd mile was the fastest – lol.  During the third mile, I started to feel a little light-headed and sick, which I originally contributed to running faster than I have in a while, but it started getting worse as I got closer to the finish line so I had to back off a little bit.  I ended up finishing in 26:51:74 (8:39 avg pace) which was only 5 seconds slower than my PR – I just looked that up on athlinks.com and I had no idea I was that close – oh, well, I’ll get it next time :). After I finished I wasn’t feeling that great so I took a few minutes to relax and then decided that if I felt that lightheaded and dehydrated I should probably skip the 10k.  I didn’t need to run it and I know that I didn’t refuel properly the day before after my 20 miler which contributed.

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So I went over to get my post race pancakes, which the folks from IHOP were making practically to order.  It was really cool to see them out there.  I got my 2 piping hot pancakes, took them over to one of 3 topping stations.  They had berries, apples, chocolate chips, butter, syrup and whipped cream.  I dressed my pancakes, got a banana and a Shamrock Farms Rockin Refuel Vanilla drink.  The pancakes were really good, the Rockin Refuel was surprisingly good too – I’m super picky with milk drinks, I don’t normally drink real milk, but this was lactose free so that was a huge plus.

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After getting some food, I felt a lot better, but I still wasn’t going to run the race, so I headed over to the start to watch Alan Webb warm up and start the race.  I ended up talking to another runner about his upcoming trip to Italy during the 31 minutes it took Alan to run the 10k.  Crazy!! The 2nd place runner didn’t come in until after 34 mins.

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Alan Webb killing it in the 10k

I didn’t regret skipping the 10k and I’m glad I had the chance to get in some speed work.  After a lot of slower runs lately, my confidence in my speed was a bit low.

All in all it was a great running weekend and I feel a lot better about my upcoming races.

If you are in Phoenix and want to run a flat & fast 5k/10k this is a great race.  I can see why they have been putting on the race for so many years.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to run it before I move.

Xterra McDowell Mountain 15 Miler Race Recap

After having been in Hawaii for 10 days and not doing a lot of running, it was time to get back on board with my marathon training.  I was having some issues with my calves being really tight & until the Tuesday before this race, I hadn’t really run more than 6 miles for over 3 weeks so I was a bit nervous about my ability to run 15 miles out at the 4th of the 5 Xterra series races here in Arizona, McDowell Mountain.

I knew I could run it but how fast, with how many walk breaks, I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t really that concerned with that – I just really wanted to get in a decent run and start my SuperBowl Sunday with a race.

Sean came over that weekend so we could run the race together.  I picked him up at the airport Saturday morning and we headed straight out to go on a shake-out run in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve over near Norterra, which is in North Phoenix.  We did a nice 4 miles where I walked most of the hills, to save my legs, but then had a great time on the downhill & flats.

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After our shake-out, we headed over to Sole Sports, a local running store, in Scottsdale to pick up our packets.  They were offering $15 off new shoes & 10% off everything else in the store, which if I hadn’t just ordered 2 new pairs of shoes, I might have taken them up on that.  We got a few power bar snacks, our bibs, a nice red Xterra shirt and a huge Rubio’s catering bag. (I forgot to take a picture of everything – oops).

xterra, mcdowell mountain, trail race, 15 mile

After getting our bibs, we rested our legs at a movie and then we carb-loaded with some super yummy pizza from Sardella’s. I love pizza and am a bit of a pizza snob.  I really like Sardella’s because they have a wheat crust pizza.  We almost finished an x-large pizza between the 2 of us before heading off to bed.

Because it isn’t too hot here yet, the race started at 8:00a, which meant that we didn’t have to get up until around 6ish to leave around 6:30. I am much more of a morning person than Sean so I got him up around 6:10.  We got ready, I always lay out my gear the night before so I don’t have to worry about it the morning of.  I got our bottles filled and made us each 2 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and had a bit of water.  I’ve been really trying to focus on fueling properly for and during my runs so I made sure to eat both slices. We were only about 10 minutes late which was awesome!

It was a little foggy out when we got past Fountain Hills and closer to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  We made good time, arriving probably around 7:30a.  They had said on the website that the 15 milers were going to be able to park near the start area, which we did, but I think we heard that there was a bit of confusion on that and some of the 15 mile runners had to park down the way, near where we had camp for the Ragnar Trail Race in November, about 1 mile away.

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Once we got settled there was plenty of time to use the bathroom, get a little something to drink and stretch a little before heading to the start line.  They had a few port-a-potties and this year the real bathrooms were open as well so there weren’t many lines.

We finally made our way to the start line around 7:55 and then we were off at 8.  There were quite a few people that were running the 15 mile race.  It was interesting after having been at the Hurt 100 and looking at the shoes people wore there and then at this race, definitely a different sort of crowd :).

xterra, mcdowell mountain, trail race, 15 mile xterra, mcdowell mountain, trail race, 15 mile

It had rained a lot over the week before the race so they weren’t really sure how muddy it was going to be, but fortunately save a few puddles, the course was mostly dry.

I swear that the course looked different from when I ran it last year.  I didn’t remember it being as flat, but when I look back on my gps map from last year, it looks pretty similar so I guess I was mistaken or it just looked different because of all the rain we’ve had this year.  It really is a beautiful course.

They had 3 maybe 4 aid stations on the course with water, gatorade & a gels.  It was funny because Sean was expecting more things, but I had to remind him, it wasn’t an ultra so they didn’t have all the fun snacks they do for races like that.  I just ate a few ProBar Bolt chews and had a bunch of Nuun during the race.

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How did my race go? I was doing fine the first mile or so and then my calves started locking up so I had to stop to stretch them out.  This happened a few more times and then we were able to finally get going.  Sean stayed with me the entire race even though I know I was not very fast.  He is super amazing, he ran the uphills and then would come back down for me and then run up them again.

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I wore my Altra Olympus shoes, they were awesome, I couldn’t feel any rocks under my feet at all like you sometimes can with some shoes.  It started out a bit chilly, but as we got going it got warm fast.  I was really glad I decided to wear shorts and about 1/2 way or less thru the race, I got so hot, I had to wear my long-sleeve around my waist.  Arizona weather is deceiving, because it might only be in the 60s but it feels a lot hotter in the sun.

I had no expectation for how the race was going to go, I just wanted to finish, enjoy myself and we did.  My official time was a few minutes slower than last year, but I think I had a lot more fun this year since Sean was with me.

We finished the race, hand in hand :), got our medals and then grabbed some post race food.  They had a decent selection, oranges, bananas, bagels, muffins, eggs.  We didn’t eat a lot but it was nice.

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We didn’t stick around for much longer, they were just announcing awards, which we did not win, lol, so we headed off to get breakfast and to enjoy the beautiful day.

If you are looking for a fun, not super crazy trail race, this is a great one to try.  In addition to the 15 mile race, they also have a 7km which is just over 4 miles of fun on a beautiful course.

 

Crewing at H.U.R.T. 100 Ultra

Sean asked me to go to Hawaii with him way back, or so it seemed :), because he got into the H.U.R.T. 100 ultra race on the island of O’ahu.

Since we’ve met, he’s run a lot of ultras but I unfortunately haven’t been able to join him at any of them so I was excited to finally be there for him at a big race.  I was a little concerned at what I needed to do, but I didn’t have to worry because everything was super easy, for this race.

We got to Hawaii a day and a half before the race.  We had to go to a pre-race briefing and packet pick-up on Friday afternoon at the Hawaii Nature Center, which would be the start, finish and an aid station.

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After the briefing, they gave us a parking pass & directions to get to the other aid stations.  This was a huge help and the directions were spot on. I’ve not driven on O’ahu before so I had no idea where to go.  I probably could have GPS’d the locations, but this made it so much easier.

We headed to dinner with Sean’s family and then we had to set up his drop bags.  He had a pretty basic set-up for this race.  Fortunately, it wasn’t going to get super cold, like it can at some races so I was going to just keep his extra clothes and if he needed them, I was going to bring them to the next aid station.  We just needed to get the food & drinks ready.

So what does Sean put in his drop bags?

Monster Energy Drinks, Ensure, little snack size bags of M&Ms, bags of Starburst, which he didn’t tell me until later, we had to take the wrappers off them all :), a donut, extra batteries & an extra mobile charger.  I also would have his extra headlamps in case he needed them and he would keep a hand-held in his vest.

We got that all set up and then hit the sack, it was going to be an early morning and then we might be up for a long time so we wanted, or I definitely, wanted to get a decent night sleep.

We ended up getting to the Nature Center around 5am, got him checked in, dropped off his bags, I ran back down to the car to get his headlamp because it was much darker than he was expecting, and then it was time for him to go.   I watched him and the others start and then headed for some much needed coffee.

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I wasn’t able to go to the first aid station because while there was a parking lot, they told us we weren’t able to go there until after 9am, so Sean & I decided that I would meet him at mile 20 after the first loop.  He would be fine for the first 20 miles with just going thru the aid stations without much from his drop bags.  While he ran the first 20 miles, I headed down to Ala Moana Beach Park, read some of my Bart Yasso book, did some yoga and tried to relax before heading up to meet him.

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I went back to the Nature Center and while everyone else just waited I headed over towards the start area so I could watch the runners come in.  The trails are open to the public and so occasionally we would see someone who was just out for a hike come in.  After hearing later about how the trail was, it was interesting that there were so many young kids out there.

I watched for about a 1/2 hour before Sean came in.  I was able to get a few photos of him coming in then I ran over to get him some Monster, we got a photo, agreed to meet up at the next aid station and then he was off.  It was super exciting seeing him come in and I know he was really happy to see me too :).

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The next aid station was really special.  It was the Paradise Park – Pirates Aid Station – they even had a pirate ship and everything!  All the volunteers had on pirate gear and they even had a plank to walk ;).  Our friend Jen, who had crewed for Sean at Tahoe 200 after her runner had to drop out, was one of the main volunteers at this station – we chatted for a few minutes and then I took a seat, waiting for Sean to come in.  I didn’t mind standing, but I was going to pace him in the evening so I needed to make sure I was hydrated and relatively rested as well.

This aid station had the best food and there was soooo much of it.  It was really quite amazing.

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I was waiting for Sean to come in when along came his brother and family. His nephew made a Good Luck Uncle Sean sign and they had snacks, waters, etc. for Sean.  It was super sweet and super cool when Sean’s brother ran into the check-point with him :).  We took a few more photos, I got him more Monster, he ate a little more and then headed out.

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The next aid station was about 5 miles away, so we all went our separate ways and were going to meet up there.  As I was leaving, I saw this ambulance and fire truck go by – heading towards the aid station.  I didn’t think anything about it, but as I waited at the Nu’uana aid station and it seemed like Sean was taking a little longer than I expected, I was getting worried.  But I figured that Jen would have texted me if there was a problem.

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The rest of Sean’s family showed up at this aid station.  We all chatted for a bit before I saw him coming in.  He looked great & you would have never know that he had already run 32.5 miles.  I gave him his headlamp, another Rockstar, we took some more photos, hugs and he ate some more food before he headed off.

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I hadn’t eaten anything much all day and it was about 4ish so I headed off to get some food before meeting back at the Nature Center.  His family met me again to cheer him on at 40 miles.  At this time, it was about 5pm and it was going to get dark soon.  We got him some more food, drink and a few more hugs before he went off again. 

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We weren’t sure when I was going to start running with him so I wanted to get a bit more rest.  I was getting a bit nervous about running with him.  While I love running in the dark and have done a few trail races (Ragnar McDowell Mountain & Zion) in the dark so I didn’t have a problem with that.  The bigger issue for me was being on the edge of the mountain.

I got to the Pirate Aid Station again and waited for Sean.  I saw a lot of the runners that were ahead of him come in and thought he would be in soon.  It ended up taking him a bit longer than I expected but I finally saw him.  He came up, gave me a kiss and said he was done.  I was like what? because this is a guy who didn’t sit down for over 48 hours at the Tahoe 200 even though he had a huge blister on his foot after 50 miles, this is a guy who slept a total of maybe 3 hrs in 95 hrs of running at that same race.  Who ran the Kodiak 100 8 days after the Tahoe 200. To say I was surprised is an understatement, until he told me that he almost fell off the mountain, literally doing the splits and having to pull himself up.  He was not having fun on the course and told me flat out that there was no way he was letting me run with him, especially in the dark.

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I was fully supportive of what he wanted, if he wanted to continue on, I would support him and I would still have gone out there if he would let me to keep him company, even though I was seriously shaking after hearing he almost fell off the mountain.  Talk about scary, well it wasn’t just scary to me, it was also super scary to him and after talking with a few of the volunteers, having someone who knows the course offer to pace him and us talking, he made the decision to drop out after 47 miles.

I am super proud of him and I would have supported whatever decision he made and been there at every aid station, the last miles if that’s what he wanted to keep him company.

My first experience as crew was amazing, I don’t know if it will be as easy at the next race, but HURT totally had a great set-up for aid stations & crew/spectators to meet up with their runners.

I had a great time and it was so awesome being able to be there for him.  I can’t wait to crew & pace for Sean again at his next ultra race.

And so I leave you with a few of the professionals shots that were posted on Facebook of Sean during the race. The photographer info is on the photo watermark.

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2014 Running Review

This has been an interesting year, running wise.  I started off the year marathon training for my big race of the year, the Maratona di Roma, after being off for almost 2 months attempted to start running straight after having been a Galloway runner for over 3 years.  This year I struggled a bit to keep myself motivated to run and felt for a while like running was a job instead of my passion when I got so caught up with the numbers.  Once I remembered why I was out there and why I love to run, it all fell back into place.  In the end, the only person who cares about the times is me and I’ll get there, but I’ve decided that it will be at my own pace.

That being said, I had an extremely eventful year.  Breaking it down…
 

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16 individual races + 2 Ragnar Trail Relays & volunteered at the Rock n’ Roll AZ expo and marathon start line

1 – 5K  (PR: 26:46)
3 – 10Ks including one trail (PR: 54:01 – my athlinks shows 51:25 but I’m not counting that since the course was .4 miles short)
1 – 15K (PR: 1:25:07)
1 – 10 miler (PR: 1:35:06)
1  – Sprint Duathlon New Event so it was an automatic PR (1:22:59)
6 – Half Marathons (PR: 1:57:29)
2 – Marathons (No new PR)

All of these races + training equated to 1,085 miles for the year & I still have one more run today. I finally hit another goal of 1,000 miles for the year!

I started the year with a three time goals, run sub 30 in an official 5K race, sub 2 in the half marathon and sub 4 in the marathon.  I finished the year with PRs in all distances except the marathon.

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Outside of going to Rome, I had decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to stay for the most part within driving distance for my races this year.  One of my big 2014 goals, not related to running, was to make a huge dent in paying off my debt.  I’m happy to say that I will be debt free within 2 months!! This goal made it so that I had to be a bit more conscious of my race selection.

Which means, of those 18 events that I did broke down as follows:

11 in the Phoenix area
2 in Las Vegas (New Race State for 2014)
3 in California (San Diego, San Francisco & Ventura)
1 in Zion, UT (New Race State for 2014)
1 in Rome, Italy (New Race Country for 2014)

The best part of my running year was all the amazing people that I met.  I am incredibly blessed and so happy to have these amazing people in my life.  Without social media, Instagram & Facebook especially, I would have never met the fellow runners that I am able to call my friends and in the end that means so much more than any medal, t-shirt or race.  Thank you to all of you who have been following my adventures this year – I’m so happy to have you as a part of my life.  I’m look forward to some amazing things in 2015!!

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What was the best part of your 2014 running year?