2021 Runner Swag Survey Results

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from an elite runner that said something to the effect that medals and race shirts should be eliminated so I  thought it would be cool to do my own survey and see what my followers thought.

Huge thank you to the 83 people who answered my 27 question survey!  I know it was long, I just kept thinking of more and more questions LOL. In this post, I’m going to share the answers from those who answered the survey & then I’ll do a 2nd post next week to share my personal thoughts.

Here we go:

Question 1: Where are you from?
US – 78
Canada – 3
UK – 1
The Netherlands – 1

Question 2: If US, what City & State do you live in?
California: Sacramento – 3, San Diego – 3, Santa Cruz – 3, San Francisco – 3, Los Angeles – 2  Other CA cities: Vacaville, Elk Grove, Aromas, Rohnert Park, Carmichael, San Jose, Citrus Heights, Palo Alto, Los Alamitos, Carpinteria, Orangevale, Stockton, Alameda, Livermore, Carlsbad, Santa Rosa & 4 who didn’t list a city
Philadelphia, PA – 3
Gilbert, AZ – 2
New York City, NY – 2
Arlington & Charlottesville, VA, Fargo, ND, Miami, FL, Georgetown & Houston, TX, Takoma Park, MD, Mabelton, GA, Dayton & Cincinnati, OH, North Carolina, St. Louis, MO, St. Paul, NM, Rochester Hills, MI, Bend, OR, Wahiawa, HI, Pittsburgh, PA, New Boston, NH, Colorado Springs, CO, Rogers, AR and Kodiak, Fairbanks & Anchorage, Alaska, Utah

Question 3:

 

Question 4:

Other answers: 5k, 10k, 10, 17, 18, 20 miles

Question 5: How many races do you do in a normal (non Covid) year?
None – 2 ppl
1 – 5 races – 46 ppl
5 – 10 races – 17 ppl
10 + races – 12 ppl
20 + races – 4 ppl
30 + races – 1

Question 6: How many races have you done in your lifetime?
0 – 10 races – 4ppl
10 – 20 races – 7 ppl
20 – 30 races – 7 ppl
30 – 40 races – 3 ppl
40 – 50 races – 3 ppl
50+ races – 13 ppl
75+ races – 1 person
100+ races – 5 ppl
Not sure – 7 ppl
Too many to count – 12 ppl

Question 7:

Question 8:

Other responses: 5 ppl Indifferent, 2 ppl if they are high quality & nice design, depends on distance, for major or special races, for goal races, depends, I like them but can live without, Doesn’t have to be a medal but I like a souvenir form the race.

Question 9:

Question 10:

Other answers: Any but have as upgrade, All distances

Question 11:

Other answers: Any distance but as upgrade, not sure, respect the buckle 🙂

Question 12:

Question 13: If no, Why not?
The majority of responses were because:
They don’t fit well
Cheaply made
I never wear them because I wear other clothes
Don’t come in my size
Some people prefer cotton over tech and then others prefer tech over cotton

Question 13:
Yes – 21 ppl
No – 13 ppl
Maybe – would depend on shirt/race – 42 ppl
No I want it to be included in race fee
No, shirts are implied
I love when races have you opt in for shirts
Only if it was cotton
I like when you can save some money by not taking the shirt
If shirts weren’t included I would buy one I like them more than medals
if it’s a technical shirt – not basic cotton

Question 14: If a race gave you the opportunity to choose your own swag from a list of a few items, what would you want?
Answers included:
Mugs, Pint Glasses, Wine Glasses, Water bottles
Hat, Visor, headbands
Buffs
Running socks
Different types of clothing like tank tops, long sleeves, half zips, jackets
sunglasses
Reusable Tote Bags or backpacks
Blankets
Bottle Openers
Jewelry
Finisher souvenir
Beach Towel
Free Photos
Food
Stickers
Money, Free Future Race Entries

Question 15:

Question 16:

Question 17:

Other answers: Rarely, only if it’s epic, only at Boston

Question 18: If yes, why do you purchase photos?
Answers included:
If they are good
Memories withou a watermark
I don’t always have a crew
Special races
For Instagram
Commemorate big adventues
If it was a big PR
To post ressponsibly
Some are really good & photographer needs to eat as well
To support race or company
Photo Quality

Question 19:

39% $5- 10
28% Nothing – I only want free photos
20.7% $10 – 20
4.9% over $20
Other single answers – someone has to pay photograher, $5 each or $25 for bunch, I’ve never liked mine, $5 – 10 but like to buy the whole series, depends on race, $20 – 30 for digital download

Question 20:

Question 21: Why?
Trail races are more special so I value swag differently
Trail races provide different challenge
Swag from Trail races is different
More burly
If it’s my first I want awesome swag, but I also want a nice jacket from a well know road race
Trail races are more thoughtful & considerate with sustainable swag
Trail swag is better
Trail races are typically more low key
Run by individuals/small companies with smaller budgets
They can do wonky things – including giving winners rubber chickens

Question 22:

Question 23:

Question 24:

Question 25: Why do you run races? Answers included the following:
Accomplishment
Fun
Self Competition
Achieve Goals
See new places
The community
Water Stations – not have to run long self supported
Memories
Runners High
Motivation
Bragging Rights
Medals
Seeing what I can do
Health & fitness

Question 26: What motivates you to run a race vs just running the distance by yourself/with friends? Answers included:
Competition
Goal
Paying money makes me more motivated to train
Fun & safe environment
Fans
Destinations, seeing new places
Excitement of racing
Running somewhere different
Crossing the finish line feels different; Runners High
Chasing a PR
Runing with friends at a race
Official times
Community feel

Question 27: Anything swag/race related you would like to add?
Have race swag be an add on
No more leaflets in goody bags
Offer tanks tops for ladies
better graphics/designs
Option to upgrade shirts
Something unique & specific to races
Consumable goodies, ie. Soap, candy, candles
Shirts optional
Swag other than shifts
Options to donate swag to others less fortunate
Swag as an extra to have lower priced events
No swag vs cheap wasteful products
Better post run food vs swag
Discount to a future race vs swag
It’s mostly junk

A few of my personal thoughts about these responses:

  1. Interestingly the majority of the people who responded have been running for at least 5 years so I have to wonder if that influenced their answers because they have received more swag/medals over the years.
  2. It appeared that people like shirts over medals which really surprised me.
  3. Swag doesn’t really influence the majority of people who responsed
  4. More of the respondents are road runners vs trail runners

And that’s a wrap!  Thank you again to all those who participated & feel free to comment and tell me about your opinions on runner swag!

 

Mar 2021 Check-In

I think I’ll try to do these every month to give you a little recap on what I’ve been up to.  March started out great and then I struggled as the month went on.  Without any races on the schedule yet, my relationship with running has been complicated.  I like to run, but I really like it when I’m training for something & have lots of races on the schedule.

Again, I started April off in a funk – we are soooo close to being able to be get vaccinated and then hopefully able to move forward with some actual plans.  This whole year I’ve struggled with nothing to look forward to, to not having a real goal and just in general.  I have tried to keep myself busy, but a slight issue with my knee that just keeps getting worse has cut my running & biking down a little more.  Fortunately I have a dr. appt on Tuesday to get that looked at.

So what did I accomplish in March.

Strength Training: I started working with a trainer for strength training after my issue with my back last month & I have consistently done strength training all but one day of my plan.  That’s a huge thing for me, I have rarely if ever done a consistent strength plan.

As we move into April, I’ll  be upping the weights and doing some new to me exercises so that’s exciting.

Running: I was doing so good with running at the beginning of the month, hitting all my workouts, running hills, etc. then I started to get some shin & knee issues and I started not enjoying it as much.  I’ll say it again miss having races to train for & run.  There’s nothing like being out there on course with other people and running in beautiful places.

I think I ended the month at 55 miles running which isn’t a lot but better than nothing.  I did do a fun survey about race swag that I’ll be posting next week that was exciting.  I really enjoyed hearing about what people think.

Peloton: I was slightly down on my bike rides for March, I think I ended the month at around 167 miles which is a bit down from the 191 I did in February.  Part of that was because I actually followed my plan and did one complete rest day a week so I didn’t add on the extra sessions like I have been.

I am struggling with the fit of my bike, I moved the seat down, but now I am getting shin pain when I ride at higher than 40 resistance.  I need to get fitted for my bike because this is getting ridiculous & I’m getting really frustrated and then don’t enjoy riding.

Hiking: We went out every weekend this month & did at least a few miles.  We got to play in the snow, be out on the PCT a few times, go to Mt. Laguna Meadows for the first time in a while & climbed Cuyamaca Peak for the most beautiful of views, with no fog/smog for the first time!!

I think I ended up with about 30 miles of hiking for the month.  I’m contemplating a long hike over the summer.  I would love to be able to go to Chamonix & do the Tour du Monte Blanc but that won’t be happening this year so maybe TRT or Wonderland Trail?  I have to think on that  but I’d love to go to a really cool spot and just hang out in the wilderness for a few days.

Kitchen Update: We finally got the new tile backsplash up and it looks incredible.  We have one step left to do & that’s seal it up but I’m really excited with how awesome it looks.  Next up, do the tiling behind the stove & put up the hood.

Campaigns: I announced a really exciting collaboration with Garmin Outdoors as one of their newest ambassadors.  I’m testing and using the new Enduro watch which gets up to 80 hours (with solar) of GPS/HR for long distance runs, hikes.  It’s pretty amazing!

I shared more about why I love the Sunbeam GoHeat portable heating pad.  Sean has ‘borrowed’ it and literally uses it every day!

I started using and shared a great vegan Omega 3 supplement from iwi.  I’ll have a blog post up next week to share more about it.

I shared a new product from Luna bar, their new prebiotic bars in two super yummy flavors, Wild Cherry & Zesty Tangerine.

Lots of fun stuff coming up in April including a few reviews, some new to me products, Earth Day, a giveaway & a running challenge that I’m excited to share with you guys.

We’ll be eligible to get the vaccine on Apr 15 so I’m looking forward to that as well.  I am hoping that we can get out on some different trails this month, maybe plan a trip or two and I’ll be looking at my relationship with running to see what I really want out of it (well outside of races coming back;)).

What were you up to in March?  And what are you looking forward to in April?

How Breathe Right Nasal Strips are changing my workouts

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Breathe Right

I’ve been endurance running for a little over 10 years now and I’ve been struggling with allergies for about as many years. The last few years it’s been so bad and I feel like I’m sniffling all the time. Especially when I’m running – and that makes me feel a little uncomfortable these days when you don’t want to appear sick when around others. I have seen Breathe Right® nasal strips and I think I’ve even gotten a sample at a race or two over the years but I honestly never thought that they would help me.

When my friends at Babbleboxx reached out to me about partnering with Breathe Right I was definitely intrigued because my allergies have been driving me crazy lately and I was interested to see if they would help me to be able to breathe better, especially while I’m exercising.

Well spoiler alert…they are amazing.  The first time I tried a Breathe Right nasal strip out, I had been inside most of the day and I distinctly remembering that I had been sniffling all day. I put a nasal strip on and BAM, I could breathe easier and with less sniffling! I was shocked, I remember telling my husband how incredible it was.

So I starting wearing Breathe Right while running, biking and during yoga/strength training and I can definitely tell a big difference. I don’t feel like I’m sniffling every 2 seconds because of congestion and I can actually breathe out of my nose. Even as I write this, I’m still shocked at how amazing it is. As someone who has suffered with allergies and nasal congestion for about a 1/3 of my life, this is groundbreaking for me.

In order for them to work well, you have to make sure that your skin is really clean and dry. Don’t make the mistake I did and put sunscreen on your nose and then try to put the strip on, it won’t stick, LOL.

The package with the strip in it is nice because it gives you tips on where to put the strip on your nose, it needs to be positioned properly so that it works.  The tabs should be right above the flaring part of your nostrils, and then you just press down! I know I could tell a difference immediately.

Have you ever tried Breathe Right nasal strips?

Click here to get samples, coupons and more information.

 

#StayAtHome Virtual Races

It’s been months now since our last in person race, the Los Angeles Marathon on March 8.  I never actually recapped that race, maybe I’ll do it soon.  In any case since that time, like everyone else, we’ve had all of our races cancelled for the year.

So what does a serial racer do?  Sign up for a bunch of virtual races, that’s what!

So what races have I done or signed up for?

The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k became a virtual run so I ran my 5k virtually on the treadmill back in March.  They sent our entire kit to us in the mail so it was just like if we had been there, except no bowl of chocolate at the end ;).  Although I have a feeling it’s not vegan so it’s probably for the best LOL.

They sent us our whole kit with bib, medal, goodie bag sweatshirt & some treats.  I was signed up for the 5k & ended up running a PR race on the treadmill.

Next up was the Aravaipa Strong run in mid April.  I decided to just go for the half marathon & managed to pull out a nice sub 2 half!  It was hard but I did it!!

Then I did the Hood to Coast Movement 10k that started on May 1. I didn’t go too hard on this one but knocked it out the first day as soon as I woke up so it was fun. Photo from the first time we visited Mount Hood ;).

The biggest race/challenge that I signed up for was the Great Virtual Race Across Tennesse 1000k.  Put on by the Laz of the infamous Barkley race.  Around 20,000 runners signed up for this one!!  It started on May 1 and continues until August 31.  I’m on the back end, after 2 months of incredible miles (May: 184 & June: 191) my body needed a break in July.  I think I’m about 150 miles from the finish.

At the end of May, Sean & I did the Aravaipa/Run Steep Get High Limitless Challenge where you pick an mountain that you want to climb to & then go as fast as you can to get there.  We were super lucky having a Nordictrack Incline Treadmill because it goes to 40% incline!  Sean was the overall winner with just over 150,000 ft!!! I was the female & I think overall indoor winner of the Everest level (29,029 ft).  It was a blast and we had such a good time doing this challenge.

You can still sign up for this one as people had such a good time with it that they opened it up for a second summer session.  I will say this was probably the most fun of all the challenges, probably because it was different.

I also signed up for some of the Aravaipa Insomniac Series virtuals in June & July.  In June I did the Hypnosis Dawnbreaker Challenge where I did 5 races over 7 days for a total of 128k!!  I’ve never run that many miles in a week before so it was tough!  I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish it but I pulled it out & finished the whole thing!

We also did the 100 miles to Auburn run in June to help support the Western States 100 organization.  It was fun and we got a cool buckle for finishing 100 miles.  It was one of those challenges that you can complete over the full month, not necessarily in one run.

In July, I signed up for the Aravaipa Stunner Dawnbreaker challenge as well but when it came time to actually run last week, I was burnt out and not at all excited about it.  I ended up only running one of the 4 races, the 12k & taking the majority of the week to recover from all the miles I’ve done the last 2 months.

I’ve signed up for a few other virtual races for the coming months.

July: The Running is Not  Cancelled 461 mile race from the start of the Sean O’Brien 100k to the start of the Lake Sonoma 50 mile – this one goes until early October so I can keep my mileage & motivation up.

Wharf to Wharf 6 miler to be able to run virtually with my Arete teammates.

August: The SeaWheeze Half Marathon – Aug 15 – 23 which I did last year and would have been running in person. For the first time they have a 10k as well!  This one is always fun!

September: The Santa Monica Classic on Sept 13.  I’m an ambassador for the Los Angeles Marathon so if you sign up for this one or their other races, you can save 10% using JENNY2021.  This one is going to be really fun & unique because it’s going to be a live virtual race where we can all run together virtually on the LA Marathon & Santa Monica Classic Facebook pages. I’m super excited because I’ve never run the Santa Monica Classic before because I’m always in Tahoe for Tahoe 200 the same weekend.

The Head Up, Heart Forward 10 miler with my Arete Teammates on September 19.

The Big Surreal Virtual Challenge from the Big Sur Marathon.  This one looks really fun.  You can choose to run 1 to 5 events (5k, 12k, 11 miler, 21 miler & marathon) from Sept 1 – 30 and the more you run, the more swag you get. The medal you get corresponds to the longest race you finish as well.

I don’t have anything picked out for October or November yet, but I’m sure something will come up ;).  Maybe we’ll do the NYC Marathon virtual since we were supposed to race it this year.

Of all the virtual races, my favorite are the ones where there is a specific distance (typically a shorter distance) or time that you have to finish in. Like the Limitless Challenge, that was a lot of fun & I would do another climbing challenge. I’m also really excited about the Santa Monica Classic because it is going to be streamed live & that’s super cool.

Are you running virtual races?  And if so which ones have been your favorite? What would you recommend?

Sunbeam® Targeted Heat Therapy

This post is sponsored by Sunbeam®.  I was compensated & given complimentary product for my review of the new Sunbeam® Targeted Heat Relief products.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

As a runner, especially one who hasn’t been training properly lately, oops! I am always dealing with one ache and/or pain after the other.  Most recently my back, the ever present hamstring tendonitis & ankle issues have been my current issues.

Which is why I was really excited to get to try out these new products from Sunbeam®.  I’m always intrigued by new products and I prefer heat to cold for recovery.

Sunbeam® is a leader in Targeted Heat Therapy for Pain Relief and their new product line doesn’t disappoint.

From the Sunbeam® website: Heat is clinically proven to relieve pain associated with muscle tension and stress; it increases blood flow to the source of the pain, which accelerates tissue healing.  Cold on the other hand reduces inflammation directly after an injury.

The new products that I received included Sunbeam® Heated Back Wrap Sunbeam® GoHeat™ Portable Heated Patches Sunbeam® FlexTemp™ Hot & Cold Joint Wrap Sunbeam® FlexFit™ Heated Wrap Sunbeam® Wrapping Heating Pad with XpressHeat®

Sunbeam® Heated Back Wrap, it has a contoured design to match the shape of your back.  It also includes an extra waist strap to extend the width of the strap  (it was a little snug so that piece will come in handy).  This is awesome to wear while I’m working.

The Sunbeam® GoHeat™ Portable Heated Patches were my favorite product of the group.  The patches are small enough that you can put them pretty much anywhere.  I like to use them on my hamstring, which is my problem spot.  Best of all, this is the only product of the group that is fully portable.  It comes with a control unit that you can clip onto your clothing.  There are 3 settings, low, medium & a 20 minute high heat cycle.

Next up was Sean’s favorite product.  The FlexTemp Hot + Cold Joint Wrap.   He was using this on his knee all weekend long.  It’s snug fitting & you can use it either with the cold freezable gel pack or plug it in for heat.  If you use it with the gel pack, you can remove the cord connector so you can move around if needed.

Sean said that it was really comfortable and he didn’t even realize that he was wearing it.  I used it with the ice after a tough spin class and it was super easy to get that icing down.

Another product I really liked was the Sunbeam® FlexFit™ Heated Wrap.  This piece was super cool because you can use it pretty much anywhere.  I especially liked using it on my ankle after my marathon to help with the minor inflammation I had from all the climbing out there in the mountains.

I also tried it out on my arm after a lot of heavy arm session and it fit great around my forearm/elbow.

The last piece I got was the Sunbeam® Wrapping Heating Pad with XpressHeat®.  This one you can use on either your arm or leg.  I was using this after Revel when my shins and calves were really sore from the downhill.  And I could use it while stretching too.

All of the products (except the portable patches) are made of a really soft material & are able to thrown in the washer, just disconnect the pad from the cord.

It’s nice because you can just plug them in and wear any or all of these products while just sitting and watching TV.  You can also create a moist heat option by spraying the pad with water which is supposed to provide deep penetrating pain relief.

These products are available at Sunbeam partners like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Walgreens & a bunch of others.

Which of these heat therapy products would you want to try?

Inaugural Lululemon San Diego 10k Race

It was the day Lululemon fanatics were waiting for.  The day when Lululemon held their first ever US race.  And it was in my city!

I was super excited when I heard the race was coming to SD.  Sean & I were on vacation in Banff when it was time to register & waited at the hotel to register right when it opened.

I even told my boss/co-worker, R.J. about it and he signed up for his first 10k!

When they announced that they were looking for volunteers I signed up for packet pick-up on the first day at UTC.  It was a blast, I met a bunch of awesome people and helped get runners their bibs & shirts.

On Saturday, we ran Revel Big Bear (recap here) and then drove home to rest & recover before the race the next day.

The race was in downtown San Diego starting at Shelter Island and finishing at Waterfront Park.  We got there really early so that we wouldn’t have to pay for parking & so that we would get there before the buses got crazy.

Well we got there really early, like over an hour before the race started, oops!  But we weren’t the first ones, we ran into a bunch of our friends. It was fun chatting with everyone but it was cold!  The wind coming off the water was quite chilly.

We did some group photos with our We Run Social friends and then we were heading to the start line.

We jumped in to the corrals just as the sun was coming up.  It was gorgeous.

As usual Lulu always gets the details, they had a boat with Lululemon flags on it at the start.

We were a little bit behind the 1 hour pace group, and ended up starting in the second wave.

It was a bit crowded as we got started so I was kind of weaving in and out for the first half mile or so until I got settled in.

The energy was amazing, that’s probably one of the best things about a Lululemon race.  Everyone is so happy.  There were cheer stations, bands, spin bikes, hula dancers and donuts at the finish!

The course is similar to part of AFC Half but the part before the huge climb lol so it’s really nice and flat which I loved.  Especially since my calf was still bothering me from the day before.

We got to about mile 3ish and I saw R.J. on the other side, he had started a bit ahead of us so I was like hum… maybe I can catch him.  So I tried.  I figured if I could catch him, maybe I could slow down, LOL.

So I just kept moving along, smiling the whole way, enjoying all the cheer stations, seeing friends.

Around mile 5 Sean caught up with me and we ran in to the finish.  I was really starting to feel the race from the day before but I was still moving.

When we got a little closer to the finish, I gave Sean my phone and was like you go ahead and finish before me so you can get a finish photo of me!

And just like that I was at the finish line!  2 races, 19.3 miles in 2 days.  It doesn’t seem like a lot but it was a lot for me since I’ve not been running that much lately.

We ran into R.J. after we crossed the finish line & he did so awesome, under 60 minutes!  I’m so proud of him & he even signed up for his first half marathon in February!!

The finish line party was pretty sweet.  Awesome medals, donuts, saje wellness, photo ops, drop bags & yoga.  It was a really awesome morning.

Oh, yeah and about the swag. We all got white swiftly tanks, medals, donuts, Saje Wellness Runner Rewards (if you stopped by the Saje store at UTC) and they had gear for sale at the end of the race.  The line was really long so I skipped but I heard it was just a few pieces and you would have to go to the mall to have it screen printed (I guess so they didn’t make a ton of gear that didn’t sell).

Lululemon put on a great day & I’m glad I had the opportunity to run.  I’m looking forward to next year!

Revel Big Bear Half Marathon – Race Recap

Oh boy, where to start with this one.  Well last year I ran the Revel Big Bear marathon here a week after running Javelina 100k.  I really wanted to go for a BQ but my legs just weren’t up to it and I ended up coming in just a bit over 4 hours, it’s still my second fastest marathon but it wasn’t what I really wanted.

So, we signed up for this year, my goal was again to BQ.  But the summer happened, crewing/pacing/traveling for all Sean’s Great Eight races & I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be runningwise.

We ran Mount Laguna marathon the week before (recap here) and I knew as soon as we finished that one that running the marathon was not in my best interests so I decided to drop down to the half.

Sean & I had a friend pick up our packets because the packet pick-up closed at 6pm.  Which would mean taking a half day off work in order to get our packets because Redlands is about 2 – 3 hours from us depending on traffic.  We got to the Redwoods area around 8:30p or so and had a 2:30am wake-up.  The buses would leave between 3:30 – 4:15a for marathon and 4:00 – 4:45a for the half.

Fortunately we were staying pretty close to the parking area so we got there pretty quick.  But we ended up parking really close to the half marathon buses but quite a bit away from the marathon buses.  By the time we got over there for Sean to take the bus, there was a really long line.  He was a bit frustrated but made it to the start .

I walked back to the half marathon buses, grabbed my drop bag & then headed to the buses where I met up with some of my WeRunSocial friends.  We all chatted for a bit and then got on the buses.

It was a little chilly when we got to the start but not too bad.  We got ready, dropped my drop bag off & then headed to the start line.  The waves or times were like 10 ft apart which was really funny.  I jumped in around the 2:00 mark and then had to re-tie my shoe.  I tried to get something out of my shoe & fix my sock & while doing that the race started.

I quickly put my shoe back on, stopped behind a guy trying to take off his throwaway gear and then started running.  It was the most anti-climactic race start I’ve ever seen.  There were still tons of people coming towards the corrals, kind of weird that were no announcements that the race was starting.

Last year, but the time I got to the half marathon it was kind of foggy and grey and I didn’t love this part of the race.  This year it was good weather, the sun was coming up and I just got into a good rhythm.  I didn’t want to go out too fast because I honestly didn’t have any idea how my body was going to handle the miles and any kind of speed.  I hadn’t run fast in months.

I saw my friend’s Richard & Brian pass by me along with a bunch of other people but I just kept moving at my own pace.

I didn’t really look at my watch too much, only at the mile markers if I remembered, mostly to make sure I didn’t run too fast.

It was pretty out there, there was a mountain that we were running towards that had a really nice single track looking trail that I was like wow that would be nice to run down too lol.

The volunteers were amazing but the aid stations seemed sparse.  There weren’t that many of us, I finished 226th overall and was 281 at the 5k so it wasn’t like there were 1000s of people ahead of me but they had a hard time keeping them stocked.  A few of the aid stations that they were filling cups when I went by.

I felt pretty good for the first few miles, a little tightness in my left calf and my foot was a touch stiff but nothing bad. Around mile 6/7 I decided to take off my long sleeve.  I took it off and heard buzzing around my head, I took off my hat and there was a fuzzy bee on my hat!  I pushed it off, put my hat back on and took off, maybe that’s why mile 7 was my fastest of the race LOL at 7:50.

Right after that I was starting to look at my watch more and I kept thinking that I only have to maintain 10 minute miles and I can PR.  My previous PR was 1:57 and change.

I got to mile 10 and was starting to get tired, I passed a friend from IG, he was asking me if I was trying for a PR, I was like yep trying and then just kept moving.

Around mile 11.5 I saw my friend Willem at an aid station, I was like I am close to a PR, he got a photo and then was like go get that PR.

I made the turn, hit mile 12 and I suddenly got really tired.  I was drinking water & powerade but I didn’t have any gels so I was pretty calorie deficient by that point.

I wanted to walk so bad, but I was soooo close so I just kept trucking along, I saw a guy ahead of me and just kept following him, I eventually would pass him.

The worst part about this race is the last mile, you make the last turn and then have to go about 3/4 of a mile to the finish.  You can literally see the finish line and it just feels like it takes forever to get to.

I struggled to get to the finish line, I was literally slowing as I got to the finish line, but I did and it was under 1 hour and 46 minutes!  I had done it! I got a PR in the half marathon, I was in literal shock!  I couldn’t believe it but I did it!

And not only that I ran every single step of that half marathon and I did it with no speed training, the week after a trail marathon and with having barely run in months. I’m still shaking my head but it woke me up and made me wonder, what if I actually trained.  What could I do then?

Now back to the race…Revel gives a decent shirt, I upgraded to the cotton version but it was a bit thicker than usual and felt pretty hot.  They also gave a pair of goodr sunglasses along with a pair of gloves and an emergency blanket (which wasn’t in my bag for some reason).

After the race they had water, bananas and chocolate milk for runners. You could also get a sweet treat, which this year was from Snow Monkey.  It was good but my tummy didn’t love it after the race.  They also had pizza which I never found and some sort of drink, maybe hard seltzer? instead of beer, which people were upset about but I don’t drink so I don’t know exactly what that was about.

After the race I got my card with my stats and then high tailed it over to the Normatec booth to try them out.  I was able to get in pretty quickly and whoa, they are awesome! Definitely being added to my Christmas wish list!

Then I chatted with some friends and waited for Sean to finish.  He was moving quite well and I didn’t have to wait long.

After Sean finished we took the bus back to our car, got some Starbucks and then headed back to San Diego, where we hit a LOT of traffic, ugh. But we made it back in time for lunch at Plant Power.  Then it was time to relax before our next race.

 

The best part about Revel races is the free photos! Also they start really early, which sucks when you have to get up at 2am but it means that the race is over pretty early so you have the rest of the day to relax, fuel up and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Mount Laguna Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday, Sean & I ran the Mount Laguna marathon for the first time.  We’ve heard so much about this race & have run most of the course over the years but had never put it together & done the race.

We decided to do this race for two reasons.  One because we were going to be home and wanted to run it and two because we had to run a marathon as part of the NYC Marathon Strava Virtual Run challenge so we could get guaranteed entry into the 2020 race.  We signed up for this a few months back and paid to do the virtual run so we could get in to the race without having to deal with the lottery.

We were able to stay at home the night before because Mount Laguna is only about an hour from us.  It’s been months since we’ve been out there, I think maybe we went out in early July to do a run & we haven’t been back since.

The race started at 8am with bib pickup between 7a – 7:40a so we didn’t have to get up too early.  It was also time change weekend so we fell back on Sunday night and it was light out when we left the house.

We got there and a bunch of people were congratulating Sean on a great summer & asking him if he was going for the win lol.  We decided to run together so he was bring up the rear with me lol.

We saw my friend Lisa from our local Arete group & a bunch of other friends. We got the quick race briefing and then we were all off!

We started out chatting with Lisa and our friend Jacket for the first 4ish miles before I needed to slow down.  We were doing pretty good but a marathon is a long way & I wanted to make sure I could make it to the finish.  I needed to get that NYC entry!!

The course is beautiful, we start and end at Red Tailed Roost and start running on Thing Road before heading to the PCT which is one of my favorite places to run.

We ran right through the first aid at about 4.5 miles & then headed to Penny Pines for the first time.  This is such a beautiful part of the course and one that we have done many times overlooking Anza Borrego.

We got to the second aid and refueled.  The guy at the aid station was like, this is an aid station, not a rest station so off you go! And away we went.  The next aid was about 4 miles away.

I was losing a lot of salt! My shirt had a salt mountain on it and everything!  By the time we got to Pioneer Mail, I was light headed and not sure if I’d be able to finish.  But I got some ginger ale & coke and then we kept moving.

This section was 7 miles and we had to go in & out of Nobel Canyon before getting back to Penny Pines (on the opposite side of the road).

I know Sean was probably a little frustrated, I kept telling him he could go ahead but he kept saying he was happy being with me but I know he wasn’t expecting to walk as much as we did.  But I told him, he doesn’t normally run with me and walking a bunch of trail races is pretty much my MO lol.  But I was a little more out of shape than normal so it was probably a bit slower than normal.

Photo by T.Allin Photo

We finally got to the last aid & I was just ready to get to the finish!  I had 2 cups of ginger ale & tried to get some orange slices but there were a lot of bees.  We just kept moving towards another section of the course that we have done a lot, the Big Laguna Meadows.

We passed by cow lake (my term not an official one ;)) and stayed to the far end of the meadow before heading up in the last 1.5 miles.

We finally were almost there!  We ran into one of our friends who was waiting for her family to arrive before she crossed the line, and then we were almost there!

Across the finish line we went! The RD, Kathleen gave us both hugs and our medals and we ran off for a few more minutes so we could make sure we were over the marathon distance for the virtual challenge.

After getting that done, we were ready for some food.  They had some vegan options for us which was super sweet.

We also got our goodie bags, which had some cute things in them.  We didn’t get shirts though because they were an add on and we have so many shirts.  But they were super cute Patagonia shirts.

All in all I would say that this was a gorgeous race & they did a great job & if we are in town we’ll run this one again.

 

Carlsbad 5000 2019 Race Recap

For a while it looked like Carlsbad 5000 might disappear.  Competitor Group sold the Rock n Roll series to Ironman and last year, Carlsbad 5000 was interesting, especially in regards to the elite races.

But after what seemed like forever, it was announced that Meb & a group of local San Diego investors had purchased Carlsbad 5000 and in December they opened up registration to the race.  We immediately signed up only to realize that Leona Divide was the day before.  For some reason I had my dates wrong and thought it was later in the month.

In any case, we decided we would still run, especially since the Arete ladies were doing a big meet-up where we would get to meet one of the founders, Mary before the race.

So when I left off on my Leona Divide recap, Sean had finished and we were high-tailing it out of Green Valley.  Well it got dark not too long after that and I don’t enjoy driving in the dark, especially when I’m tired. Plus getting out of Green Valley/Palmdale requires driving on a very stressful two lane road with a ton of traffic.  We finally made it to San Bernardino and found a place to have dinner.  By this point I was so exhausted I couldn’t drive the 2 hours home so we got a hotel near the airport in Ontario and decided to drive to Carlsbad in the morning.

Sean’s wave started at 6:53a and mine at 7:55a.  We decided to shoot for my wave and left the hotel around 6am I think.  The sun was just starting to come up when we left the hotel.

It was a pretty easy drive, we ended up on a toll road that was so incredibly beautiful, unfortunately no photos, I was driving, but it was almost empty and I kept thinking how lucky we were to get to see these beautiful mountains.

Eventually we made it to the 5 and then made our way south to Carlsbad.  I was starting to stress out, would we find a parking spot, get our bibs & hit the port-o-potties and be there in time to start the race?

We found a parking spot, jogged over to the starting area, I picked up the bibs for Sean & I, he was jogging just a touch slower than me ;), understandably so after finishing a 100k less than 12 hours before.

We then jogged over to the start area, where we immediately saw Kristina & Josh, we said a quick hello & headed immediately to the bathrooms.  We made it & even were there in time to hear the National Anthem.

Last year Kristina & I were racing around this course trying to get PRs or close to them.  I managed to go under 25 minutes for the first time last year.  This year we were both like, I don’t know how this is going to go.  I told her I might not be able to keep up and she said the same thing lol.

But off we went.  I started out really easy at least compared to last year, lol, when I was weaving in and out of all sorts of other runners.  This year I didn’t have a real goal but just wanted to do my best.

The first section has a few little bumps that feel like hills and then you make the turn.  I was feeling pretty good as I made my way down to the turnaround.

I hit the first mile then made the turn to go back the way I just came around 1.4 miles.  I missed the aid station, I was pretty thirsty, but it was only 3 miles so I just kept moving.

I started to feel like my legs were really tired so I know I started slowing down around the 2 mile mark.  We eventually started seeing the leaders and I was just saying to myself, keep moving, it’s only 3 miles, don’t walk.  I was waiting for the next turn, where was it? Finally we came up to the turn.  I made it and felt like I was going soooo slow, willing myself to keep running, not much longer now, less than a mile.

Then I heard Sean call my name! I turned, thinking I probably looked like death & Sean took my photo.  I thought these photos were going to reflect how I felt, but they actually didn’t look too bad, lol.

Seeing Sean gave me a little boost and I continued moving towards the Carlsbad sign and the final turn.  I hit the turn and did my best to speed up, it was tough, let me tell you.  I don’t believe I’m smiling in the photos at the finish lol, which was a shame because they had free photos!!

But I did managed to hang on to get a 8:31 avg pace which for these days was a significant effort. I was about 3 minutes faster than the LA Big 5k so that was a good sign.

For the second year in a row, Kristina finished just behind me.  I kept thinking she would pass me, but she was hanging on just like I was, lol.

Sean finished a few minutes later, I was able to wait for him & see a few other friends in the meantime.

We got a quick snack, some coffee & then headed to meet the Arete ladies by the packet pick-up.  Most of them were running in either the 30 – 39 or  2o – 29 age groups.  I think I was the only one who ran in the masters group this race.

We got a few photos & then they took off for a quick warm-up run.  We headed to the finish area to wait to watch the next race.

It’s pretty exciting and we would have loved to have stayed to watch the elites but we were exhausted so we said good-bye to all our friends and headed to Plant Power for some lunch before heading home.

Some of the cool things about this years race, free photos, Meb was taking photos with runners at the finish.  I wish I had know there were free photos because I would have gotten a pic but I didn’t really want to pay for them.  We didn’t pick up our shirts, although they were  a nice design, we just have so many race shirts we don’t wear.

Leona Divide 30k 2019 Recap

Leona Divide was my first ultra back in 2015 when I ran the 50k with Sean.  This race holds a special place in our hearts because of that.  Sean ran his first ultra, the 50mile in 2013 & then I did the 50k 2 years later.  You can read my past recaps here & here.

When Sean O’Brien was cancelled due to the fires last year, Sean was given the opportunity to run a special one time 100k race at Leona.  He decided to take it and so I asked Keira if I could run the 50k at Leona vs the Verduga 50k in February.  This was a good call since I wasn’t feeling well in February.

If you’ve read any of my other recent recaps you would know that I have run/walked a lot of races lately.  I was planning to do the 50k up until the day before the race.

As we were driving up to Palmdale, where we would stay the night before, the thought of being out there doing the 50k started to feel like a really long day especially since I would need to drive us home to run Carlsbad that night.

So I started thinking that from a training perspective I should probably drop down to the 30k and see if I could run the majority of it.  The idea started percolating in my head and it actually excited me.

So the next morning, I decided to officially drop down. I saw Sean off at 6am, went back to the car to drop off my extra clothes, chatted with my friend Missy for a few minutes and then we were off at 6:30a.

The first mile or so is a decent uphill on the road.  It was still pretty chilly when we started, my legs felt really heavy along and my breathing needed to acclimate.

I ran/walked the road section, then walked the steep section on the trail.  I didn’t go too fast on the downhill, we had a way to go at that point.  It’s amazing how different the trails look when they are all green, it’s been 3 years since the last time I ran Leona & the first section seemed different.

But then we turned on to the PCT & it all came back.  This section is really pretty and since we were doing the 30k relatively early in the day, there was still a lot of shade.  I kept my long sleeve on for the majority of the race until the last few miles when it got really warm.

I ran/walked the first section, my legs were still feeling heavy, it probably took about 4-5 miles for them to loosen up. I met a lady named Summer from Pine Valley & another lady named Michelle, who was an absolute beast on the uphill, she was from nearby & had run this section not too long before.  We ran together for a bit until Michelle left us in the dust.

We finally made it to the final downhill into the San Fransquito aid station which is the turn around.  I had on my dirtbag runners hat, which I really liked & my sunglasses and apparently my head was steaming lol.  I wish I had gotten a photo!  I refilled my water, had a few oranges & then headed up the hill.  I saw Summer up ahead and tried to catch up.  I eventually caught her just as Rob Krar came flying down the hill.  It was really funny because everyone who passed us for a bit was like did you see Rob Krar?

As we made our way up the hill, Michelle caught up with us towards the top, Rob also caught up with us right as we made it to the top. Haha.

At this point, I started running and I ended up passing Summer and doing my own thing.  Michelle was so strong on the uphills, some of which I ran, some that I walked that I could see her in the distance but didn’t catch her until right before the final aid station.

This year, there was an actual waterfall on the course, you can’t really see it in my photo but there was running water.  I’ve never seen anything like it on this course because it’s almost always super dry.

She ended up leaving first but I passed her again, I was feeling pretty good and we only had a few miles left.  At this point I was pretty much by myself.  I saw Uly from Paksit Photos as I was climbing up the hill & then another one of his photographers just as I was heading down the last section of trail.

It was actually really funny because I was smiling for the photos and then a bug hit my lip & I think I ended up swallowing it.  I was still smiling but after I passed her I spit and she was like did you swallow a bug, yep, I did, lol.

I hit the road & started the descent to the finish line.  This road section felt so much longer than it did when we climbed up. I passed one lady and was just concentrating on not getting hit by cars, there was one SUV that the lady did not car we were on the road, she literally did not move one inch from her path to accommodate me, not cool.

I made a turn and then I started to hear footsteps behind me.  I just concentrated on continuing to move, I remember saying to myself, don’t look back, don’t look back, just keep moving forward.  And I did.  Finally after what felt like forever, Jesse Haynes & another guy passed me and flew down the hill.

It wasn’t too much longer & then I was making the turn into the finish line. I finished around 4:10 with 19.65miles on my Garmin. I was pretty happy, that was probably one of the best avg pace trail runs I’ve had in a long while.  While not super fast, it was a solid run that I felt really good on and that was a success.

I finished, got some snacks, they had veggie subway sandwiches & chips.  I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Missy and some of our other friends watching the rest of the runners come in.

Once Sean came in, having a solid race and finishing before dark.  I collected his drop bags and we high tailed it out of there because we were going to run Carlsbad 5000 the next day.

Leona is one of our favs & we will definitely be back.  As always Keira Henninger & her crew does an amazing job.

 

**Running photos are from Paksit Photos.  All other photos are my own.**