Recovery Run: 2019 San Diego Half

This is my 4th time running San Diego Half Marathon. It’s a fun & fast race in downtown San Diego.  You can check out my previous recaps here.  2016, 2017, 2018

I signed up back in August of last year & I had high hopes for a big PR here. As we know, that didn’t happen due to the hyperthyroid/Graves diagnosis & the subsequent lack of real  training since Javelina. But that’s ok, I’ll get there.

So I honestly wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. I haven’t run anything over 4 miles in weeks, since Surf City Half so my bigger concern was how would my body handle the jump in miles.

This past week I’ve run more than I have in a week (outside a race) in a long time.  It might not seem like a lot but I ran 9 miles this week before the race.  In February, I ran a total of 49 miles with Surf City Half & about 20 of that pacing Sean at Franklins, which means I “ran” 16 miles the rest of the month.  I also took up riding at Soul Cycle and in the last 2 weeks I’ve racked up 6 rides & plan to continue on with 2 rides a week for the foreseeable future.

Now back to the race. Sean & I picked up our packets on Saturday at the expo.  It’s still in the same place on the harbor.  It was a touch cool & cloudy but no rain.  SD Half does their bibs in order of when you register and since I registered the first day, I had a very low bib number.  I also was surprised to see I was in Wave 2.  I normally am in Wave 4 so I don’t recall what I put as my projected finish time. Maybe 1:50?

We grabbed our race shirts & legacy gifts.  This is our 4th consecutive year of running so we got half zips as our bonus gift.  Unfortunately they were all out of men’s smalls so they told Sean he could get a different size.  Since we know he’ll probably never wear the shirt, we passed & the poor volunteers didn’t know what to do. You are supposed to get 2 shirts lol.

The expo as usual is pretty small so we didn’t really stick around, instead heading to get lunch, some yummy acai bowls from Everbowl.

The race always takes place on the time change weekend so if you enable text messaging they will send you a reminder text to change your clocks to spring forward.  That’s a nice touch.

Race morning! We got up a little later than last year, around 5:30ish, I was already up, but Sean’s alarm hadn’t gone off yet.  We left the house at 6:08a & were downtown by 6:15a which was probably the fastest we’ve ever gotten down there.  Hitting all green lights & having barely any traffic really helps!

We walked down to the starting area.  As per usual they start the race right in front of the convention center.  I needed to meet the Arete ladies for a quick photo & meet-up so we did that first before dropping off our bags & heading to the corrals & port-a-potties.  It was a beautiful morning, no marine layer and we got to see a great sunrise.

It was nice to meet some of the other ladies in the group, since I’ve been off I haven’t gone to many of the meet-ups since I joined the group in January.  Side note, I was so excited to join this group & to really work on my speed & goal to BQ & then I had all these issues pop up just as the group was getting started.

And I’ll be honest, knowing how fast all these ladies are, was really intimidating. I feel like I’m kind of the weak-link in this group even if I wasn’t dealing with medical things.  They all finished within minutes of each other & I was about 30 minutes back.  But I can’t be too hard on myself, I went from barely running to running a half averaging just under 10 min pace with the last 3 miles being the fastest of the whole race. At Surf City, I could barely breath & I averaged 11:45 pace.  Again, I digress.

Sean & I headed back to gear check to drop off our clothes.  I’ve said this before, but I’ll reiterate it, I always bring a set of fresh clothes to change into after the race, I hate being all wet after the race.  And sports bras take forever to dry so I had lots of warm, dry clothes in my drop bag.

We headed back to the start, hit up the port-a-potties.  This year they had it done right so that there weren’t lines on both sides of them.  There was a porto in the middle of each section so that you could only enter from the sidewalk.  Finally!! In the past it was total chaos with people lining up on both sides.

I got a quick selfie of Sean & I and then we headed to our respective corrals. It was shaping up to be a beautiful morning with the sun peaking out & for once, no marine layer!  Normally this race is so humid, but it felt really nice, in the mid 50s.

I was a little nervous before we got started not knowing how I was going to feel but once we got started I got into a grove.  For once I didn’t feel like I started out too fast, I just kind of followed the other runners & didn’t weave in and out too much.

One of my favorite parts of this race is the first 3 miles running by the harbor.  We pass the Midway, there was a Disney Cruise Liner in port that morning.  As we head over to Harbor Island you can see my favorite view of the city & it was spectacular that morning with the sun behind it.

I ran the first 3 miles with no issues, I stopped for water at the mile 3 aid station & then from there I started run/walking.  I ran to mile 4, took a short walk and then tried to do mile repeats with a short walk in between.

We run down to Liberty Station, which I always enjoy as well.  By now it started to get cloudy but it wasn’t humid.  I remember thinking how I was sweating but my shorts weren’t soaked & sticking to me like they normally are, lol.

I made it to the 10k in just over an hour which I was happy about.  From there I just kept chugging along, mile 7 came up fast, then we did a quick climb on mile 8.  I started getting a cramp in my oblique around this point so I walked to stretch it out a little at the mile 8 aid station.

I was getting a little tired by this point,  but I kept moving.  I walked the short steep hill, ran to Washington Street & ran/walked the big hill.  One day I will conquer this hill, this year wasn’t it.

There were a bunch of Milestone Running & November Project people who were running up and down the hill with runners which was so cool.  The only bad part was that they were all running down right where we were running & I like to run on the very far left so I had to keep moving over to let them run back down.

In any case I finally made it to the top, in a lot less time than it seems like I normally take (11:45 for that mile & in the past I think I’ve taken 13/14 minutes).  The next section I have run many times with the #run619 group & I always think about them when we run through this section past the Hillcrest sign down to 6th Ave next to Balboa Park.

The last 3 miles are mostly downhill & I knew that Kari @grrrlrunner was going to be near Balboa so I was looking for her.  She was with her son & got this photo of me running by!  So nice of her to wait to see me!

From there I was starting to get a small cramp in my right quad, a place I’ve never felt any issues before, maybe all the spin? and I was getting hungry.  I didn’t have any CarboPro in my pack so I didn’t really have any calories on this run except one muir energy around mile 11 which was really too late to start eating.  I’m the worst when it comes to fueling, which is why I normally just use carbopro so I can drink my calories.  I drink a lot so it works good for me.

In any case, I had to get to the finish so I powered on. I was getting closer to the spot where they can stop you for the Trolley to pass.  I saw 2 Trolley’s stopped & waiting and was hoping I could run fast enough to miss them.  And phew, I was the last runner they let go by before stopping runners.  I have been lucky, I think I’ve only been stopped once in the 4 years I’ve run this race.

I just kept pushing, and then finally I could see Petco Park .  At this point I was following a lady in a Oiselle team shirt and I wasn’t sure if I could pass her or not.  I followed her down to the turn off into the park.  We went through the tunnel & then I was like time to finish strong & while I expected her to push to the finish, I must have pushed harder because I passed her after we got on to the baseline.

I finished!  It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t super slow either!  24 minutes faster than Surf City & I felt 100x better.  I can only get stronger from here!

So overall, I like this race.  I’ve done it 4 years in a row, it’s pretty fun, it’s fast, it has a cool finish line where you finish inside Petco Park.  They give out nice gift bags at the end, we use our reusable bags year after year.  This year we got a friar bobble-head & a book about one of the Padres players that made to the Hall of Fame.

The medal was really nice this year, a huge softball size medal with the Gaslamp sign on it.  They abandoned the idea to do the 4 part series medal they started last year after hearing that people didn’t like that idea.

We’ll be back, but maybe not next year, I really want to run Antelope Canyon so it might be time to change it up :).

Passion Fit Review

I received an outfit from Passion Fit to test & review for this post through my association with FitApproach.  As always my opinions are my own.

Follow your passions, be fit and the rest will follow…

This is the motto of Passion Fit, the brain child of fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador, Reena Vokoun.  Her lifelong passion for health, wellness & fitness along with the desire to help others pushed her to give up her corporate job to create this company.

In addition to selling her own Passion Fit line, she also has work-life balances courses, teaches fitness classes in the Bay Area & does wellness consulting amount other things.

I have been testing out the Passion Fit capri leggings and fitted workout tank for the last few weeks.  I’ve put them through the paces between short runs, playing in the snow & spin class.

I picked the capri’s to try because I loved the patterns.  This pink & turquoise paint splotch print was a perfect fit.  I picked the matching turquoise workout tank to match, because um, matchy, matchy right?

The capri’s are a touch more high waisted then I normally wear but they were very comfortable.  I picked the size small, which was definitely the right size, for reference I’m typically a size 6 in other exercise gear.

The four way stretch fabric for both pieces is supportive & feels really silky.  It feels good even when sweaty.  Each piece is custom made so they patterns may vary slightly but it’s kind of cool, a made to order clothing.

The tank has a dipped hem which means that it’s slightly longer in the back than the front.  I didn’t notice this much at all but one thing I did notice is that it never moved.  There was no riding up when I ran.  It has a nice snug fit which I like & has a full back.

In addition to capris and the fitted workout tanks, Passion Fit has sports bras, full length tights, hoodies & quoted racerback tanks.

“Check out the new Passion Fit online boutique for stylish, comfortable, affordable and high-quality activewear and accessories! Receive free shipping and 10% off until March 20, 2019 when you shop online at passionfit.com/shop and enter the promo code: PASSIONFITSWEATPINK.

 

Listening to my body

This post is going to be a bit different than my normal race recap or product review.  I want to share my experience with listening to my body & how it helped me these last few months.

I started noticing something was off after I was sick in November.  I did Javelina 100k at the end of October, ran the Los Coyotes Ragnar Trail with Team SweatPink and then was sick for a few weeks (including a trip to the super smoky Bay Area).  I thought it was just a normal cold & it seemed to be.

In December I had some issues with breathing while running, I was chalking it up to being out of shape after being sick.  But it was starting to get worse.  I could run as much as 3 miles straight but on the longer runs, I felt like I was breathing through a straw.  My neck and shoulders were so tight & I was having trouble catching my breath while just sitting on the couch.

I was starting to get nervous which of course increased the anxiety I was already feeling. Towards the end of December I finally made an appointment to see my doctor but I couldn’t get in until late February so I waited & things started to get worse.

I was feeling fine for the most part, except for my heart would race occasionally when I was just sitting down, the neck & shoulder pain was getting worse & I was still having issues with my breathing, mostly when running but sometimes at rest as well.  I would have to think about breathing something I should not have to do.

Finally after one of my runs, where it was really bad, I said something on Instagram and some people offered up some explanations, iron deficiency, too much sugar, gluten intolerance &/or other allergies.  So in early January I reached out to my doctor via email & asked if we could do some blood tests because it was still over 6 weeks until my office appointment.  She agreed that was too long to wait and I went into the lab to get some blood work.

What came back was that I was slightly anemic but that wasn’t my doctors biggest concern.  The bigger issue was that my thyroid levels were way off.  I got 3 calls from the doctors office that day and an appointment to see an endocrinologist.

I went back to get more blood drawn to do more thyroid specific tests.  I was googling everything, initially I couldn’t tell if it was hyper or hypo thyroid but as the test results came back, I was able to determine it was most likely more hyper.

So what is hyperthyroidism?  It occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine.

Symptoms can include:

  • Unintentional weight loss, even when your appetite and food intake stay the same or increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

I had some of these symptoms, the racing heart, the anxiety & nervousness (this had been going on for a while, I literally had to lay back in the front seat any time I drove with Sean because of anxiety that we were going to get into an accident.) and a slight tremor in my hands.

When I saw the endocrinologist, she said that you didn’t have to have all the symptoms but that by the results of my tests & what I was telling her, she was pretty sure that I had a hyper thyroid & more specifically Graves Disease.

Graves Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. With this disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs.  It is unknown why it occurs, but it is very common, with more than 3 million cases every year in the US. It is treatable & I’m pretty sure that I caught my issues pretty early in the process.

My doctor ordered a few more blood tests to confirm her diagnosis but she put me on a pill called methIMAzole immediately to help with the symptoms.  She said there were a few side affects to watch out for, specifically a rash but I seem to be ok and I’ve been on the medication for 3 weeks now and feel so much better!

The endocrinologist was shocked that I had done Surf City a few weeks prior to my appointment.  She was like most people wouldn’t have been able to finish.  Well as Sean said, I’m not most people.  And in talking with my primary care doc she agreed. Most of the people that they see are not exercising & they have to tell them to vs someone like myself that has a long history of endurance training.

I’ll be honest, running was scary during that time, but I didn’t completely stop.  I cut back but still kept moving.  Before my appointment with the specialist I googled hyper thyroid & running what seemed like a million times. I found maybe 2 -3 posts that did not have info that I wanted to hear.  It took me a year to get back to running, I lost 10 pounds in a week (I didn’t lose any weight during the 2 months I was dealing with these issues),  I couldn’t even run a 5k.

I had just gotten into OCC in Chamonix & the Vermont 100k.  I had a bunch of races already on the schedule and I was super nervous I wouldn’t be able to run them.  But I could walk forever & feel good so I knew I might have to go slower, but I could still go.

It’s been 3 weeks since my diagnosis & I have 7 races in the next 5 weeks on my schedule.  I might not be super fast, but I will finish each and every one!

I wanted to write this blog to share my experience, which was very different from the very few blog posts I was able to find about running with hyperthyroidism & /or Graves.  I don’t know the background on the 2 ladies who shared their experience, where they like me with lots and lots of races of all distances on their resumes or where they beginners?  I don’t know.

Now, this is is my personal experience, I have continued to run/walk/hike/spin, etc. throughout this whole experience.  I have my doctor’s blessing to run/walk LA Marathon which she thinks will be a good indicator to see where I am after 5 weeks on meds.  I didn’t tell her I was doing a 24 hour race the week before, oops! LOL

If you experience anything similar to what I did, I fully recommend visiting your doctor to discuss and do tests if necessary.  I am grateful that my doctor listened to me & gave me the opportunity to have testing done without an office visit.  I really believe that if I had waited things could have been a lot worse.

If you have or had Graves/Hyperthyroid, I would love to hear your experience.

2019 Coldwater Rumble Race Recap

I going to be honest, I’ve been struggling this year.  After a really amazing 2018, this year has not been nearly as awesome so far.

I have been having some breathing issues lately which is making running hard.  I went into Coldwater Rumble knowing that this was going to be a challenge, but I would go out there and do my best!

We flew into Phoenix on Thursday evening, both Sean & I had to work on Friday and ended up being really busy so we didn’t have time to get to the packet pick-up on Friday like we normally do.

We did have time to get some pre-race pizza from Mod Pizza near our hotel.  Sean & I went there last year as well & it’s probably the last time he ate pepperoni before going vegan.

We got our gear out, I love taking #flatjenny photos because it means that I have all my gear ready & waiting for me on race morning.

Since we were close to the start, we didn’t have to get up too too early.  The 100 mile, that Sean was running, started at 7:00am so we left the hotel around 6:10a & got there within 10 minutes.

Estrella Regional Mountain Park does have a $7 entrance fee that you have to pay when you get to the park.  There wasn’t a long line when we got there so we were heading to the start area within minutes of arrival.

Aravaipa does a great job, they have a huge set-up at the start-finish area, with packet pick-up along with the timing tent & aid station.

We grabbed our bibs & shirts and then hit up the port-a-potties before setting up our drop bags & then hanging out with some friends before the race started.

I didn’t sleep well at all the night before, I feel like I might have slept at the beginning but then I was tossing and turning the rest of the night.  I wasn’t in a great mood, but I had plenty of time so I started my race fully expecting to run the full race.

The 52 mile starts at 7:30a and you do 2 – 20mile loops and finish off with a 3rd 12 mile loop.  Just like at Javelina they have you washing machine the loops so you mix it up.

I started out feeling decent, I was surprised to see that I was in the top 1/3 of the runners & barely anyone passed me in the first 10 miles or so, except Eric Senseman, who won the 52k & set a new course record & a few other 52k runners.  The 20 mile runners didn’t pass me until about mile 15 – Yay!! lol

I tripped a few times, this course has a few sections were there are a lot of rocks.  There are a few other sections with a lot of sand, but all in all it’s a pretty runnable course.

I was planning to be out there for a while so I wasn’t moving super fast.  I did end up having to work while I was out there, I had a trip that needed to be changed & so I called the agency to get it sorted & put my phone on speaker.  I ended up being on hold for over an hour!

I ran into Sean on his 2nd loop before the last aid station.  I was feeling a little tenderness in my shin from a when I tripped and kind of hyper extended my ankle.  oops.

I got to the last aid station, filled up and then headed out for the last 4 miles.  As I started running & walking this last section, I cheered on other runners.  This is my favorite part about running.  I love cheering everyone else on.  I was starting to get a headache around this point.  I was drinking a lot from my pack to try and get rid of it.  I thought maybe I was dehydrated so I wanted to get as much to drink as possible.

I made it down the mountain, I wasn’t moving super fast, but I was moving. I finished my first loop with a pretty bad headache.  I sat down by the drop bags for a few minutes to check my email – I had to do something for work again and as I was sitting there booking a hotel room, my headache just got worse & worse.

After a few minutes I decided that was it for me.  As I checked my email I saw I had a test result from my doctor.  I looked at it and I found out that I am slightly anemic which is probably why I’ve been having so many headaches lately & why my breathing has been so off.

I got some coffee & my free pizza from Freak Brothers Pizza that came with my entry.  After that and some water, I felt a little better.  I crewed Sean for the rest of his race & chatted with some new friends from Performance Tea.  I cheered other runners on & just enjoyed being out there.

I have no regrets, of course I would love to finish another 50 miler, but it wasn’t my day and that’s ok.  This year isn’t going to be as easy as last year, but it’s ok.  After I figure out a few health issues, I’ll be working hard to get back on track!

It was getting hot out when Sean came in from his second loop.  I helped him get ice in his bottles & he put lots of ice in his buff before heading out on loop 3.  Note: Always make sure to give your runner their headlamp before going out if they finish mid afternoon. Sean took his smaller headlamp & good thing because he came in after dark.

We switched out his headlamp, got him some more CarboPro & his pack.  He put on his headphones & started some podcasts.  It was around 7:30p when he left & he was going to try to be in around midnight.

I got another pizza for dinner & then went to take a short nap.  I set my alarm for 11:20p.  It wasn’t easy to sleep because they were playing music really loud but I think I drifted in and out for a bit before heading out to the start/finish area to watch for Sean.

I sat down next to this older lady, who was there crewing for her grandson.  She had crewed her son at Bigfoot 200 & Wasatch many times so she was a pro.  We chatted for a little bit and then Sean came in around 12:30a.  I got him some warmer clothes, just in case because it was getting cold out and some more CarboPro.  He had a little over 6 hours to finish in under 24 hours when he left at 12:40a.

I attempted to get a bit more sleep, they did turn the music down a bit so I was able to fall asleep eventually.  I set my alarm for around 4:30/45 so I would be up in plenty of time in case he decided to crush it this loop ;).

The moon was amazing, huge & right in front of the finish line so it made for an awesome back drop.

A few runners came in while I was waiting, but only maybe one or two that were finished.  We were waiting and waiting & then I saw him coming in!

Sean crushed it with a 23:05 finish which is faster than the last time he finished Coldwater back in 2016.  He was 5th overall & had a nice & easy training run.

We love Aravaipa races, they always do a great job, have good markings, although I did get off track 2x this race, fortunately I figured it out pretty quickly.

We will be back again, I’m sure of it :).

 

2019 SoCal Resolution Run – Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday, Sean & I ran the Resolution Run Half Marathon at Tecolote Shores as our first race of 2019.  This was our second time running this race & 12th edition of the Resolution Run.  If you’d like to read my recap from last year to see what was different click here.

This year, we decided last week to sign up, we found a great deal via a last minute discount website & gave it a go.  We picked up our packets, our bibs & race shirts, on Saturday at Road Runner Sports.  Quick & easy.

Sunday morning, we woke up a few minutes late so we left the house about 15 minutes later than  we did last year.  I ate my Picky Oats in the car, I’m really enjoying the apple version & have eaten them before my last 2 races.

We arrived at the start area around 6:30am, the half marathon started at 7:15am.  Since we were a little later than last year we had to park about 3/4 of a mile from the start area.  It was chilly out but the sunrise was super pretty!

We got our gear & walked to the start.  First stop once we got there was the port-a-potties.  There were maybe 10 or so, but one line for them all.  I think that there were a lot of newer runners at the race, which is fine & I’m so happy that people are out there running, but it does make for a bit of a chaos in the port-a-pottie situation.  There were too many for people to see when the doors were all open & then randoms were not standing in line, just jumping in at the ends because they didn’t realize there was a line.

Once we got done there it was less than 5 minutes until the start! We got our traditional pre-race selfie & then Sean headed to the front while I started a little further back.  I have been having some issues with my breathing while running lately and so I didn’t know what was going to happen & didn’t want to really push it.

I started out feeling good, just running easy on our way around Fiesta Island.  I saw my friend Henry, from Run619.  Henry is 73 years old and he runs faster than I do a lot of the time ;), it’s really inspiring & I hope to be still running when I’m 73.

I took a few photos of the beautiful sunrise over the city & after 2 miles started to run/walk. I was keeping pretty good pace considering and decided to just do that for the rest of the race.

There are 3 races, a half marathon, 10k & 5k.  The half & 10k start together but when you get to a parking lot the 10k turns around immediately while the half went for a little longer turnaround.  Then the half marathon heads back towards the start/finish where they have a second out and back section.

This section is on the sidewalk so there are a lot of other runners/cyclists/walkers so there was a lot of weaving around people.  But that was fine because I was just run/walking so I didn’t really care too much.  I saw the lead runner come through, then a few more before I saw Sean, I congratulated him & told him he was in the top 10, I didn’t recall exactly what place he was in but he was definitely in the top 10.  From this point on, I cheered everyone on that was coming back towards the finish.  It was fun, but I’m not sure how many people heard me since 90% of the people were wearing headphones.

I got to mile 9 and saw that there was a board on the other side so I turned to look at it to see what the distance was to the finish & it said mile 11.  I thought to myself, great so about a mile before the turn around.

I remembered from last year that we went over a little bridge, went a little ways out and then turned around.  This year, they had a volunteer before the bridge and turned us around there.  I think I was at maybe 9.6 miles? And then I got to the 11 mile sign at 10.19 miles.

I kept thinking maybe the signs were off, but I was almost a mile off for the rest of the race & officially finished the race with only 12.29 miles.  I know all GPS devices are not created equal, but I also know that we went over that bridge last year before we turned around.  But regardless it was a beautiful day & I had a good time.

I finished the race in 2:06, which considering my breathing issues lately was pretty good for me.  I only had 2 miles over 11minutes with a lot of run/walking so that’s a win too.

The medals were similar to last year with a little chalkboard for writing your goals.

They gave the best goodie bag I think I’ve ever gotten at a race.  Full size container of probiotics & a full size spray sunscreen in addition to a bunch of snacks, which were almost all vegan.

They had a good amount of sponsor tents, we missed the Suja Juice but were able to get huge cups of GT’s Kombucha on tap.  This was really cool, they had kombucha on tap on a van & I tried a new to me flavor that was amazing!

All in all we had a great morning, I was able to get another 13 miles for the Lululemon 40/80 challenge, I’ve only got 5k left!

I’d run this race again, it’s a nice low-key event with great support & sponsors.

Sweat Pink Ragnar Los Coyotes Recap

This post is a part of my collaboration with Ragnar Trail & Fit Approach. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own.

Earlier this summer Jamie from Fit Approach asked me if I would be interested in captaining the Sweat Pink team at Ragnar Los Coyotes & that Sean could be on the team too. After checking with our schedule to see if it would fit & sewing if Sean would be interested in running a Ragnar event, we agreed & set out to form a team.

We got a team together, a mix of men & women from SoCal, Portland & New Hampshire and formed #teamsweatpink. The team was a good mix of runners of varying speeds, some of us were ultra runners but not all and we complimented each other.

Sean & I run a lot of races so we never specifically trained for this race, although if I was to give advice on how to train for a Ragnar I would say to try & run a few times in a 24ish hour period. If you are an established runner, you could run the exact same distances over a period of time, let’s say one run at 10am, another one at 7pm and then a third run at 6am the next day. It’s not exact but it’s close enough to simulate what you will do at Ragnar.

But now on to the actual event. The week before Ragnar, we were in New York for the marathon & then I was in Phoenix for my last work trip so it was a busy week.

I got home Wednesday evening & then we discussed driving out Thursday night but decided it would be best to just drive over Friday morning.

We left the house around 6am to head over to Warner Springs/Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. It took about 1.5 hours & was an easy drive. Once we got there we paid our $10 to go in & then went to try & find Jamie & the rest of our team. We were supposed to be in a special spot but we couldn’t find that spot. The cell signal wasn’t great so it wasn’t easy to get in touch but I finally reached Jamie & she said we were set up by the nose in a tree. Um…ok.

By this point I was getting increasingly more & more frustrated because we couldn’t find this stupid nose in a tree and we had been wandering aimlessly for about 20 minutes. At this point, I must have looked as frustrated as I felt because a girl asked me how it was going & I told her we couldn’t find our team & that we were looking for a nose in a tree. She was like ohh that’s what that was, it’s over this way by the mountains.

And finally we made it! I was not a super happy camper at that moment but I quickly got out of my funk & we unpacked the car so we could set up our pop-ups & chairs.

The rest of the team seemed to find the nose easily, I think we were directed down the wrong side of the path which made it harder to find. In any case eventually we all made it!

We got our team gear on, sunglasses from Goodr, compression from Lily Trotters & shirts/hats from Ragnar & got a team few photos.

After that we went to visit the village, Sean & I got an açaí bowl from the Sambazon booth to enjoy while talking to other runners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was time for Kristina to get the SweatPink party started around 11am.

I mentioned it in my last post but the nice thing about Ragnar Trail is that everyone runs the same 3 loops. There are Green, Yellow & Red Loops and at Los Coyotes they are approximately 3.1, 3.2 & 7.9 miles. The color order is supposed to designate easy, intermediate, hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was runner 5 so I had a few hours to wait until it was my turn.

Sean & I then had the first of many Freak Brothers pizzas. Freak Brothers is owned by Nick & Jamil Coury & we’ve had their pizzas many times at Aravaipa events in the Phoenix area. They have a great vegan pizza that I would eat many of over the next day.

We would spend our time between legs, either cheering on other runners, talking with friends, at the camp site or waiting & watching the TV screens for our team.

We found Catra & Jay who were running the experimental Black Loop before my leg so we chatted with them a bit before I went to run.

And then it was my turn! I was running the yellow loop for my first loop. I will say I totally underestimated this course. I figured 3 miles, how hard could it be? But it was pretty hard. I was having trouble breathing within the first 1/4 mile & was seriously wondering if I would be able to run through the camp or if I’d have to start walking lol.

All three loops start the same way & then you take different turns for the different loops. Red & Yellow stick together for a bit longer.

I started hiking pretty early on, I was breathing so hard, it was crazy. We weren’t even at that high of elevation, maybe 4,500 ft? But Sean said he felt similarly when he did his first run too.

It was really pretty & a nice single track. A little sandy, but just a lot of climbing. I just tried to hike as fast as I could & then run the flats & downhills. The downhills were tough too though because they had super tight switchbacks with roots, rocks & ruts you had to watch out for.

The race had lots of color coordinated markers which made it near impossible to get lost & funny little signs periodically.

The last mileish was a slightly downhill fire road back to camp. That was nice. Loop 1: Yellow check. 3.18 miles 43:20 768ft of climb.

After my first loop I just wanted to get changed into dry clothes. It was already feeling pretty cool out. I put on the clothes I would wear for my next leg because it would be a night & I didn’t want to have to get dressed in the cold.

Sean was the last runner so we decided to wait until he was done to get dinner. Ragnar gives each runner a ticket for dinner. In the past this had been a mess hall type of thing with pasta, salad, bread sticks. This year it was super nice that we were able to use our tickets at the food trucks anytime between 5-10pm to get fresh, hot food of your choice.

After Sean ran his first loop he changed into some warm clothes & then we headed for pizza.  The Freak Brothers booth was hopping, we were able to quickly order dinner but then ended up waiting about 30 minutes for our pizzas, they made them vegan but they did mess up our toppings.  But after waiting in the cold for so long, I didn’t want to wait any longer so I just took the pizza that was made.  It ended up being really good so it was a happy accident.

It was only 7:30p but it was time for a nap.  Sean & I forgot our tent, oh well, I really don’t think it would have helped much thought, so we put down the tarp, got our sleeping bags out, our sweats, jackets & hats on, grabbed our extra blanket & tucked in for the night. Or rather until our next run.

It’s hard to sleep at Ragnar because you don’t want to not be there when your runner comes in so you or at least I am waking up many times to check the time, see who has come back, etc. etc. At some point around 9:30p Jamie came over and said that Jared, who was before me, had just gone out and they expected him back in about an hour, because he’s really fast, I agree Jared is quite fast, but at night, with almost 2,000 ft of climbing, 7.9 miles in an hour is a bit aggressive.  We had a few friends who are equally fast that took 64/68 minutes in daylight, but you never know so I got up, finished getting ready & headed over.  Sean came with me, which was really nice because he could hold on to my NYCM poncho that I wore while I was waiting.

For the night segment, I put on my SeaWheeze reflective capris & I wore my LA Marathon reflective rain jacket.  I didn’t bring any water because I was pretty frozen.  I was running the green loop, which was supposed to be easier.  I really do like running in the dark, but man was it cold out.  It took me about a mile to get anywhere near warm, my face was completely frozen, my feet were so cold I couldn’t even feel them.  Fortunately there was a bit of climbing so I was able to get a little warm.

The best part about this segment was that I must have had at least 15 people tell me that my tights were awesome ;).  This section was a bit short, but had that nice fire road downhill again, I did that last mile in about 8:27.  The total distance was a touch short my garmin clocked in at 2.98miles in 36.5 mins with 617ft of climb.

We immediately high tailed it back to camp, I was kind of warm but I had to get into warm clothes ASAP which is what I did.  I curled up under the covers to get some sleep, I figured I would be starting my last loop around 5/6am.  Sleep was tough, I have never “really” camped before, this is really as close as I have come and I don’t have any desire to camp in a camp ground, maybe out where no one else is, but man, it’s hard to sleep with people snoring all around you.  I had on a hat, a buff over it and the sleeping bag & I couldn’t block it out.  I may have slept a tiny bit, but it was tough.

Finally around 5, I started hearing people talking so I got up, it was freezing! I heard that it got down to about 28 degrees during the night! Yikes that’s cold.  I wasn’t sure what to wear, but then I remembered that I had my Janji tights (man those tights keep you warm!) & long sleeve so I put those on, put my jacket back on & decided to keep on my hat. I saw Jamie as I finished getting ready.  She had just finished her last loop so there were 2 people before I would go out.

She gave me Michael’s jacket, which I gladly took & wore until he finished ;). I told her that it was going to take me about 2 hours. I headed down to the village, where I found Jared & then ran into our friend Fern, who was anchoring his team.

Michael came in, we chatted for a few minutes while Jared took off on his last loop.  I hung out for a bit and then it was my turn.  Off I went, with super heavy tired legs.  I was hiking pretty early on, back up the same section as my first loop.  I thought to myself, would anyone know if I took the yellow loop down? LOL, but no, that wouldn’t be right, I continued on, my quads just so sore.

Little known thing, but my body is crazy weird, my quads always feel it when I climb & my hamstrings/butt feel it when I go downhill, it’s the opposite of normal lol.  And man were my quads feeling all this climbing. And climb we did.  So much climbing in the first 3ish miles.  It was taking me a long time to check off those miles.  I was beginning to worry if I’d be able to make my 2hour goal.

There were some really pretty views, I took a minute or 2 to take a photo here and there, and catch my breath, lol.

This loop had 2 water stations, there were no aid stations on the Green & Yellow loops.  We hit the first one at about 3.5 miles, I refilled my pack and then we were on a fire road that I could finally run.

We went down, down, down, I was totally in the grove, getting 9/10 minute miles, feeling great & loving this downhill.

Then we made a turn on to some more single track, I passed one girl and then next thing we were at an aid station, mile 6ish, about 2 miles to go.  I ran through that.  Kept running as much as I could, alternating run/walk, hike up the hills. I realized that I would be able to come really close to my goal so I just kept moving as fast as I could.  Run it in, run it in this girl was telling me and I did finishing in 2:01, 7.87 miles with 1,903ft of climb. And I was done! Thank goodness because this race beat me up way more than running 100k at Javelina! And it was less than 14 miles, lol.

Sean met me at my finish, there were 2 more runners, Sandra & Debbie, before his last loop.  We went back to camp, I again got changed.  Have you noticed yet that one key to running a ragnar is having lots of clothes.  No one likes to be all sweaty & wet (especially having a wet sports bra is horrible) & it was still chilly.  He got ready to run his loop and we packed up as much as we could so that we could be ready to leave quickly after he finished.

Sandra finished her loop, then Debbie took off on hers, we finished packing up our stuff, then we headed down to the village again.  Sean was ready to run! We figured we be able to finish before noon so everyone could head out.

Sean took off, I got my last Freak Brothers pizza, so good! ate a yummy toasted marshmallow, chatted with my teammates and then we were waiting to see when Sean would come in so we could cross the finish as a team!

And then he was coming around the corner!  We all joined him and ran in as a team.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a photographer so it was just for show, but YAY! we were done! Michael ran the first 8 mile loop & Sean the last and they were within seconds of each other time wise.

We got our medals, Ragnar always has special medals that connect together to say something.  In this case We are Ragnarians, we believe… Ragnar Trail.

Ragnar had a photographer out there for team photos that were offered for free download a few days after the race.

Sean & I shared an acai bowl after the others left and then packed up our stuff and off we went.  It was all over, probably about 28 hours total we were out there.

Would we run another ragnar trail?  Sure, but there were a few things I didn’t really like.

I would love to see something done with the camping situation.  I really feel like it was a total cluster and I would love to see something like at Javelina with tent city rather than this random put tents where ever thing.

I missed the women’s specific race shirts, I loved the design on the shirt, but in the past, we were able to get women’s specific shirts.  I would like to see that brought back.

I was a little disappointed to not see any photographers out on course.  In the past there were photographers.

This last comment has nothing to do with Ragnar itself, I would rather run a race at a warmer time of year, yes, I know most people would say that they want to run when it’s cool, but I don’t have any desire to camp in 28 degrees again.  I’d rather have slightly (50-60 degrees at night would be much better).  I’d probably pick a Ragnar in a warmer area/time of year next time.

But that being said, I did really enjoy this race & both Sean & I discussed it afterwards and said that we would do another under the right circumstances.  Being able to eat at the food trucks was awesome.  They had a lot of vegan snacks that they gave out to the runners so that was really great for us.  This photo shows the treats they give to each team, obviously the RX bars aren’t vegan but the nuts were and they were yummy!

I’m so happy to have been able to be on a team with such a great group of people.  Jamie, Michael, Jared, Kristina, Debbie, Sandra & Sean thank you so much for being a part of Team Sweat Pink!  And Josh, thank you for being our volunteer!

Have you run a Ragnar?  Which one do you recommend if we were to do another?

It’s Ragnar Los Coyotes Week!!

This post is a part of my collaboration with Ragnar Trail & FitApproach for Ragnar Los Coyotes.  All thoughts & opinions are my own.

This year, I was asked to captain the Sweat Pink Team for Ragnar Los Coyotes & I’m so excited to get to run another Ragnar Trail event & Sean will be running with me.

Our team is amazing, we’ve got a good mix of women & men, with the following runners on board. Of course there is Sean @ultrarunnersd & I @runnylegs then Jamie @jamiefitking, Kristina @ocrunningmama, Jared @jaredsblank, Debbie @coachdebbieruns, Sandra @organicrunnermom & finally Michael @thebrosh.

We’re all so excited to get out there & run!

Want to read more about our team?

Check out our runner profiles:
Jenny
Sean
Jamie
Kristina
Jared
Sandra
Debbie
Michael

A little background on my Ragnar experience, I ran my first Ragnar Trail event back in 2013 at McDowell Mountains in Arizona with my then running group.  I’d seen people run the road races. I wasn’t really interested in sleeping in a van and running in the dark on the road, but when I found out that there were trail races, it was like mind blown, this was my kind of event!

After that first race in 2013, we went on to run the inaugural Zion race in 2014 & then McDowell Mountains again that fall.  We had a great group that was a mix of slow & fast runners and we had such a blast out there!  Then I moved to San Diego and was interested in running another one, but they are a little shorter in distance from what Sean likes to do and we already race a lot so we kind of put them aside.  This opportunity kind of fell into our laps and I am super excited to get back out there and run green, yellow & red loops!

It was so long ago, I couldn’t really find many photos from my previous races, it was before my instagram days really kicked off 😉 lol.  This is a snapshot of the inaugural Ragnar Trail Zion in 2014.

So what makes Ragnar Trail so unique?

First off, it’s a loop course.  Regular teams are made up of 8 team members and everyone runs the same 3 loops.  Which is awesome, unlike the road Ragnars everyone does the same thing!

Secondly, the whole team gets to stick together at camp. We set up camp with all the other teams and everyone can hang out together.  No vans & no split teams like on a road Ragnar.

Third, It’s Trail!!  Trail races are the best & doing these different loops gives everyone a chance to try the different parts of the course.

Forth, the camp energy! It’s great, there is an exchange tent where you meet your runner to head out & seeing all the runners there, waiting for their team mates, it’s just a really awesome, positive energy.

So how have I been training for Ragnar? Well if you follow me, you’ll know that I am an unconventional runner, I run a lot of races & that’s pretty much how I train. In the five weeks, I have run a 50k, marathon, Runner’s World Grand Slam (4 races adding up to 26.2 miles), a 100k & a 5k this weekend. The Runner’s World event was probably the best training. Running so many races back to back was a challenge, but it has me ready to run multiple loops over a short period of time.

I’ve also been staying up quite late lately with red-eye flights, early morning wake-ups to volunteer & 2 trips to the east coast.

Now to get packed & get out there!

Need packing tips, check out these blog posts & get packing! 1, 2, 3 & 4

Anyone else have an unconventional way of training for Ragnar races?

I’ll be sharing our day out at the race on my Instagram stories on Friday/Saturday so get ready!

2018 Tahoe 200 Crew Recap

I love Tahoe 200 – it is one of my favorite races of the year & I don’t even run it LOL.  This was Sean’s 5th time running and the first time that they have done the race in reverse.

I recapped my first time crewing Sean at Tahoe 200 in 2015, which you can find here if you want to see how things have changed ;).  That recap & this one are quite long (it is a 206mile race so there is a lot to say, lol) so I won’t be offended if you just scroll through the photos ;).

This year, we had a whole new #TeamSexyCalves because our old crew was busy crushing their own races.  Greg (@gregknottlemond) was going for his Western States qualifier up in Canada.  Maili (@mais_runs_trails) was going for her first official 50 mile finish,  Eric (@aspireforlife) was also running and Joyce (@flyjoyce) was crewing & pacing Catra.

We had talked to our friend Josh (@jwanders11) at SD 100 and he was willing to come up and help crew & pace with us.  And then after TRT, Sean & I thought we should ask Kristina (@ocrunningmama) to come with us too & she jumped on the chance to come back to Tahoe!

About 2-3 weeks before the race, we found out that Spooner Lake was no longer going to be crew accessible and so I was pretty worried that we needed to have another pacer who could go the first paceable 36 miles with Sean.  Enter our friend and amazing runner, Jake (@ultra_trucker).  Interestingly, I found out after he ran that Jake had never been to Tahoe before.

Sean, Kristina & I headed up to Tahoe on Wednesday evening. We got to the B&B around 11:30p or so.  Had a little craziness where the door to our cabin was locked when it was supposed to be open and had to call the owner to figure out how to get in.  We got it sorted & were able to head to bed.

As per usual, I had to work on Thursday and so I did that while Sean slept in.  We hit up some groceries for supplies to get his drop bags ready for the afternoon.  I worked while Sean & Kristina worked on them.  They finished up & we headed over for the mandatory pre-race meeting at Homewood Resort.

It was a huge group of runners, I think they had 230 people start the race.  There were not that many people who had done the race before and Sean was the only person to have done it every year.  Candice made an announcement that there would be a special award for him when he finished the race and she was super excited about it.

I stopped to say Hi to Catra, who was selling & signing her book onsite.

Then Kristina wanted to say Hi to Courtney Dauwalter who would end up leading the race for pretty much the whole time before being passed by Kyle Curtain, who none of us had heard of before, but I’ve since heard he’s won Run Rabbit Run previously.  Courtney is seriously one of the sweetest people, she remembered me from Coldwater Rumble when Sean introduced us.

We dropped the drop bags & then headed to dinner at the pizza place down the street from our B&B.  Since the race didn’t start until 9am, we had some time after dinner for Sean to finish getting his gear together before heading to bed.

And then before we knew it, it was go time. We all got ready & headed to the start.  Sean got his bib, he picked to be 1 & his tracker, we got that sorted, found Josh, chatted with some friends, got some photos and then it was time.

As per usual Sean took off up the hill which is his traditional way to start the race.  Since the race was going to be crew accessible on Friday, I took the day off from work.  I normally work all day Friday before meeting the first pacer at Sierra at Tahoe & then crew from there on.

When we were leaving, I ran into Jay, Joyce’s brother and Catra’s head crew & TruMan.  He was a little nervous since his momma was gone, but he let me hold him & eventually drooled all over my arm so I think he relaxed a bit ;).

We got packed up & checked out before heading to the first aid station at mile 10.4.  Kristina & I stopped to take a few photos by the lake, it was a beautiful day & looking like it was going to be quite warm.

Courtney came into the aid station first, looking great as usual.  We waited for about 10 runners or so and then Sean came in.

He was just kind of chilling, taking his time.  He got some water from the aid station and then he was off.  We wouldn’t see him again for 20 miles.

While we waited, we headed to breakfast & then climbed Eagle Ridge (a short .4 mile hike with breathtaking views).  Kristina convinced Josh do his first insta story (and he’s now hooked LOL).

We made it to Tahoe City just in time to see Courtney come in and then speed out.  A bunch of other runners got there not to far after her, but I realized about 20 minutes later that no one else had left yet.  Most of these runners had done about a 6 hour 50k which seems waaaay to fast for most people in a 200+ miler.

Sean came in around 7h44m saying it was HOT out.  We got him cooled down & ready for the next section.  It was going to be dark by the time he got to mile 50, Brockway so we made sure he had his headlamp & then sent him on his way.

In the meantime, we checked out Kings Beach, had dinner and then hung out at Brockway.  All the while it was so weird to me going backwards to these aid stations.  It was super fun having other people to hang out with and doing things I would normally never do, like go to the beach, but it felt really weird.

While we waited for Sean, we were standing next to another runner & her crew.  They were totally stressing me out because they had binders and all sorts of papers telling them what to do, but when it came to actually doing anything they just didn’t seem to have a clue.  I really thought that the poor girl was going to end up going out without any hydration at one point.  I literally had to get up and move away because  they were totally stressing me out, lol.

Sean made it to Brockway around 11:30p. we got him food, energy drinks, extra headlamp batteries, etc. etc. and he headed out to Tunnel Creek.

We too headed that way, we managed to get a little sleep before we met up with Jake. Sean came in around 3am & I was asking him how he liked going down PowerLine vs going up & he said it was pretty slippery.  He got some food & then he and Jake were off heading up Tunnel Creek to Spooner Lake.  I’ve run this section with Sean before going in the opposite direction and it’s spectacular, it’s always been a fun section because you get to run down to the cafe, but this year they were climbing up instead.

Once they were on their way, it was time for us to get some more sleep so back to the car we went.  I think I woke up around 6:30a & Tunnel Creek Cafe opened at 7 for breakfast. I got a yummy granola with soy milk.

I wanted to go and cheer on some of the other runners.  I saw Catra @dirtdiva333 who looked super fresh.

I helped Mark Tanaka who was running solo get ready for the next section. He was a little out of it when he arrived so I helped get him some food & get his pack ready.  He said that someone told him that Sean had dropped, which was kinda weird, but who knows.

We ran into Robert Villani when we were heading to the car, he was doing great waiting for his wife to bring him some milk shakes, which is his secret weapon for getting in lots of calories. He told us about  how awesome the Kogalla light was (I asked Sean to pick one up in Moab & he did so I’m excited to try it out).

We still had a bit of time before we had to meet Sean at Heavenly so we decided to go to Sand Harbor for a bit.  Sean & I always pass by when we are in Tahoe but it’s always packed so we have never stopped.  We were able to get in and go explore for a bit.  I was climbing all over the rocks and in the water having a great time.

Once we got to Heavenly, it was soooo windy. Sean came in with Jake around 2:30p.  He wanted shade & to change so we got him all ready to go.  He and Kristina would be going from Heavenly to Armstrong, another section I have done with him.

We got a (full) team photo and then they were off.  I can’t remember exactly what Josh & I did in the interim, but we eventually made our way over to Armstrong Pass and he got his stuff ready to go out and pass Sean to Housewife Hill & then on to Sierra at Tahoe.  We ran into Schuyler from Mountain Outpost fame – Run Flat, Stay Low 😉 and Jamil’s son, who is super cute!  We chatted with them for a while since we were all waiting on our runners.  I think Sean was in the top ten during this stretch.

Sean got in around 8p just after dark.  We got him some food, a long sleeve shirt & then he was off.  But then, he came back a few minutes later shivering from having gotten too cold while at the aid station.  We got him wrapped up in a blanket, put on his warm jacket, got him some hot water to drink & I gave him my insulated water bottle full of hot water so he could use that when he headed out.

Next stop was Housewife Hill.  Somehow we ended up going into the aid station from the back, that was a first, but it ended up working out so it was all good.  This aid station is one of the best, they are always dressed up & so energetic.  When speaking with the aid station captain, she was saying that going this direction meant she had to take a few days off work in order to be there for the whole race.  I didn’t even think of that, but going in the opposite direction means a lot of changes for everyone.

In any case, Sean came in around 2:15am looking pretty good.  We got him some food & refilled his bottles.  He and Josh set off for the 7 miles to Sierra at Tahoe where I would pick him up to go with him for the next ~40 miles.

We got over to Sierra at Tahoe, I think I slept for maybe an hour before getting changed.  I originally had on shorts & then at the last minute decided to grab a pair of capris & I’m glad I did because it got warmer during the day.

When Sean got to the aid station I think he was in 6th place.  Jamil was still up in the aid station.  Sean changed in the bathroom, we got him food & refilled his bottles.  He doesn’t like going upstairs at this aid station so we always just stay at the entrance.  Interestingly the aid station was unmanned when he came in so we kept asking people where he checked in & finally as we were leaving, a few minutes after Jamil & Skylar left, someone came by to check him in.  The guy had been sleeping since so few people had come through & said, oh, you don’t really need to be checked in. Um, say what? I’m pretty sure someone always checked him in there in the past, but whatever.

So off we went.  I had this idea that we could finish the 40 miles in about 12 hours which would put us at Loon Lake about 5/5:30pm.  From Sierra at Tahoe, you take the road down to the trail, which is initially a fire road.  Last year, Greg & I did a little shakeout down this section so I was familiar with it.  After a while we turned onto a single track section.  Sean was moving pretty good in this section.

I had never been in this section of the course because typically they do this section on day 1 when crew isn’t allowed and I have to say, it’s not the beautiful rim trail.  The trail was not nearly as well maintained as the rim trail and there was so much poop on the trail we started calling this section the Pooer line trail, instead of Power Line ;).  We were like they obviously didn’t read the section of the handbook where it said you can’t just poo anywhere because it was literally like every few feet, sometimes less.

The section to Wrights Lake requires a 3ish mile climb up a road, which Sean did amazing at, he was chugging along, click, click, click of the poles.  It was really cool to see.  But, once he got to the top, he had a hard time going downhill, his hips were not happy.  We eventually made our way down to the trail again.  At this point, we had to take a few breaks & I was digging in to find his psoas muscle to try to get him a bit of release.

This section seemed to go on forever, we finally made it to Wrights Lake, I think there was one other runner there at the same time, got Sean fueled up, got us more water & then headed out.  We were coming up on the Rubicon Jeep Trail.

We started out fine, there were a few jeeps coming down to where the aid station has been in the past.  Sean was moving good, we had a little discussion about him moving a touch faster so we could make up some time & he was trying so hard! Then it happened.  We were following the markers and then all of a sudden there were no more markers.  We had crossed over this bridge & were climbing up rocks looking for the trail.  There were no markers.  Eventually we turned back and tried to see where we got off trail.  Sean ran into another runner & his pacer and we finally had to go to the GPX track to find the trail.

Turns out the track showed the trail to be this random grassy section with logs at the start, which in most races is an indication not to go that way. So weird.  Anyways we went relatively slowly for the next 2ish miles following the GPX track and finally after about 2 miles saw a marker.  I don’t know what happened, but whoever marked this section did a horrible job, because after this, the next marker was at least a 1/2 mile away.  We lost a lot of time in this section to Tells Creek because we literally would come to a dead stop looking for the next marker.  They were not in our line of sight like they should have been.  It was a really frustrating section.

But eventually we made it to Tells Creek.  We got veggie burgers and coke and filled up.  I changed back into my capri’s because I accidentally spilled my drink on my chair and soaked my shorts, oops. But I was glad I changed because once the sun went down, it got cold!

We were moving really well on this section the first half, I think that the veggie burger gave Sean & me a nice energy boost!  I was having a hard time keeping up with Sean the first part of this section, he was moving fast & it was probably the only time that I got my heart rate up during our day together.

We saw the most beautiful sunset, stopped to take a few photos and then we were on a downhill section.  This section was pretty rocky so I took the lead and would go slowly down.  We made a pact that I would stay ahead of him, but not too far ahead so he could feel like he could catch me.  By this point it was getting colder but we were getting closer.  I asked Sean if he would want to take a nap, at this point he hadn’t slept at all and he was past his 60 hour threshold.  He said he would see, but he seemed like he was in decent shape.

We eventually got to where we could see the aid station! YAY!! Finally, 16 hours after we started we were there! Mile 180.  Sean’s mom, Josh & Kristina were there.  Originally Kristina was supposed to run this next section with Sean, but I guess during the day it was decided that Josh would do it instead.  So instead of taking a nap, with all the craziness that was going on, we pushed him out instead.  In hindsight I should have pushed for him to sleep no matter what, but I was so happy to be done & he seemed fine.

I had no idea, but Loon Lake is 2.5 hours from Lake Tahoe!! OMG, that’s a 5 hour round trip drive! Yet another reason why the original direction is soooo much better, that’s a crazy long drive, especially in the dark.  Kristina was a total rockstar driving us back while I was half asleep.  We finally made it back to the B&B, I was able to shower off all the dirt & sleep for a few hours before we headed to Barker Pass.

I would wake up, check the tracker, see Sean was moving really really slowly & go back to sleep for a little while longer.  I was stressing out a lot because I knew he was sleep deprived & sleep walking.  Everyone of these 200 mile races is around a work event that I have to be at, my job is very flexible & I can work from anywhere, except when we have events, I obviously need to be at them so I had to fly to Phoenix that afternoon & I was very concerned that I was going to miss Sean finishing.

We eventually drove over to Barker Pass around 6/7am .  I would try to work & keep checking the tracker, the cell signal up there wasn’t great & it seemed like he was just so far away.  I was incredibly frustrated & in tears by the time he got to the aid station for a variety of reasons.

He got there and we had a little chat, I told him that if he didn’t get to the finish before noon, I was going to have to leave & wouldn’t see him finish.  I was so upset & even now it makes me want to cry a little (and it’s about 6 weeks later).  After last year’s absolutely perfect race, it was heart-breaking to see him struggle this year.

But he & Kristina headed out & he rallied.  I took Josh back to the B&B so he could shower, we got some food & then we checked & Sean was moving quite well so we headed to the finish.

Two hours after he left Barker Pass, he got to the finish line! 74ish hours after he started with no sleep.  I was so happy for him & so relieved that I got to see him finish.

And as the only person to finish Tahoe 200 five times, that’s over 1000 miles on the TRT, Candice presented him with a special award.  He got a custom buckle & belt. It’s really nice!

What a weekend!

My final thoughts, as crew & pacer, 200s are so challenging.  They are all this hurry up and wait, being patient, stressing but not allowing your runner to see that.  While I absolutely love this race, it’s 1000x better in the original direction.

First, the runners get the really remote sections out of the way on the first day so crew doesn’t have to drive 5 hours to Loon Lake. Second, by the time you get to Sierra at Tahoe the runners have spread out a lot. Third, you don’t really have super long paced sections – the 15 – 20 mile section is really ideal for both pacer & runner so that neither gets burnt out.

Tahoe 200 is one of the most beautiful courses around so I’m sure we’ll be back, but I need a little break from 200s for the time being :).

Huge Thanks to our amazing team #TeamSexyCalves.  Kristina, Josh & Jake, we are so grateful for your help & support on this amazing adventure!

 

 

AFC Half Marathon Race Recap

Guys, I’m so far behind on these recaps, you may not still be interested but I’m going to try and bang them out!

After Tushars & Bigfoot, Sean & I had discussed that he was going to run Kodiak 100.  He hurt his Achilles at Tushars so we finally determined that he would skip Kodiak and we decided to run AFC half instead.
We had already run Carlsbad back in January & then La Jolla in April so all that was left was AFC (America’s Finest City).  I really wanted to get it done and finish up the triple crown.

We signed up the week of the race so we paid a bit more than what you would pay if you sign up in advance.

Packet pick-up was at the Sheraton across from the airport.  They had it set up really well with free parking in a lot near the hotel, which was really nice because the hotel charges like $15 to park in their lot.  Then we walked to the back of the hotel to the meeting space where the expo was at.

We picked up our packets, got our shirts, which are cheap looking techy style shirts, looked around the expo & took a few photos.  The race started pretty early & you had to park at Balboa Park and take a shuttle to the start at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.

We got there relatively early so we didn’t have to really wait too long to get parked & on the buses.  The buses though were a total joke.  They had 3 bus lines, but the buses weren’t able to get through the stop lights so it took quite a bit to actually get on the bus.  We did finally get on and were finally off.  Funny story, the driver didn’t even know what we were doing and about 2/3s of the way there he finally asks, you guys are going to run back down?

We finally made it to the Monument where we hung out until the start.   The one thing all 3 of the triple crown races do really well is porta potties.  There are tons of them!  We hit them up, got some water, watched the sun rise, ran into a friend who we chatted with for a while & then got in line again.  By that point the lines were really long, but we made it and headed to the start line.

We were going to bring finish line bags, but we weren’t sure if that was a thing for this race since the cars were relatively close to the finish line so we ended up leaving our change of clothes in the car and just took what we needed instead.

We’d done 6 weeks of races so I really didn’t know how things were going to go so I just lined up with Sean to start and then was going to run by feel.  My only goal was to get to the finish line & earn my triple crown medal.

The race started out by running us through the National Monument and cemetery, which was a little uphill.  I stuck with Sean for about a mile or so before he took off and I just hung back.  After the first 2 miles there was a nice section of downhill until we got down to Harbor Drive.  The race kind of reminded me of running San Diego Half in reverse.

We took a turn down towards the Sheraton & Harbor Island.  I had to use the restroom here so I lost quite a bit of time during this mile because I had to wait a few minutes for another runner.  After that stop, I felt a little better, but it was hot and I was literally dumping cups of water on my head every water stop, after drinking one cup & I had my pack on too.

We eventually made our way down towards the Star of India & then Pacific Hwy, near where San Diego Rock & Roll finishes.  I remember dowsing myself in water here and almost losing my contacts, oops.  Then running down Pacific Hwy in the shade before heading to the final & brutal climb up to Balboa Park.  In SD Half, this hill is downhill and is so much fun, climbing up it, not quite as fun lol.

I made my way up, run/walking and then made the turn towards Balboa Park!  We were almost there!  Having not run the race before, I wasn’t exactly sure where the finish line was, but it was probably about 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile from the climb.

And just like that I was done!  And I was spent! Those 6 weeks of racing & traveling had culminated in a decent race but I was exhausted!

I finished in 2:06:25 which wasn’t too bad considering how hot I was and all the racing.  My first 10k was an 8:41 avg and then I jumped to 9:18 for the second half of the race & considering I ran/walked the mile & a half hill towards the end, I’m pretty happy with that.

We finished the race, they handed out bottles of water, had goodie bags and then there were a bunch of vendors in a little expo style finish line party.  We got our Triple Crown medals & a few photos and then headed  back to the car to get changed & head to breakfast. We headed to Better Buzz to fuel up on  Acai Bowls and coffee.

Final thoughts:  All in all a well put on race, outside the ridiculousness with the buses.  Nice medals, nice course and great volunteers.  The only negative in my mind is that the race shirts are really cheap looking & not very wearable in my opinion.  Other than that I think everything was pretty good.

Tushars Marathon Race Recap

Last year at AC100 one of our running friends walked into packet pick-up and told us about this amazing race that he did the weekend before.  Now this isn’t someone who runs a race every once in a while, this is someone who runs just as many or more races than us.  He told us that we needed to run Tushars, that it was hands down the most beautiful course he’d ever run.

So flash forward to June or so and we were looking for some additional summer races and we realized that Tushars would fit into our schedule so we registered, me for the marathon & Sean for the 100k.  I was a bit nervous since I’ve never run at that high of altitude before but I was excited to see the beauty that was Tushars.

We flew into Las Vegas & then drove the 3.5/4 hours to Beaver, UT the next day. We stopped in St. George for some lunch and supplies before driving the rest of the way to Beaver.  Once we got there we had to call the resort before driving up the mountain (no cell signal) to let them know we were on our way so someone would be there to check us in.

We started our drive up the mountain and were greeted by the most beautiful views & cows sitting by the road.

We got to the resort, checked in, changed & then headed over to the packet pick-up.  We dropped Sean’s drop bag off, got our bibs and then headed out to get Sean’s streak run in.

Afterwards we took a few photos and then headed inside for dinner.  They had a pasta dinner for the runners, it was pretty inexpensive at $7 per person.

We went back to our condo, got our gear ready like normal and then I went to bed early.  Sean’s 100k started at 5am, my race started at 7am.

We got up around 3:45am, got ready & then headed up to the start.  It was pretty low key, I saw Sean & the other 100k runners off and then headed back to the car to take a nap.  I got a little sleep until about 6:15a when I got up to eat a half of my Lenny & Larry’s apple pie cookie and go to the rest room.

And then it was time to get started. The start was pretty low key.  Noah, the race director told us about the markings & to make sure that we read the signs at critical intersections to make sure we took the correct trails.  Miss a sign & we could be out there a lot longer than we expected.

The night before there had been a lot of rain so they had put some carpets out in really muddy section at the start of the course, which was nice so we didn’t start the race with super muddy feet.  As we ran down the ski slope it was a bit muddy but not too bad.

I had decided to wear my Altra Running Timps for this race.  I had a brand new pair that I had sitting on my shoe rack for months and thought it might be a good time to try them out.  I normally wear the superiors which would have been fine for this course, but I did like the extra cushion of the Timp, even though the grip isn’t quite as good.

I quickly started hiking pretty early on.  I was happy to be out there but I didn’t have any illusions that this was going to be easy.  Surprisingly my breathing wasn’t too bad, considering my sea-level training.  I didn’t hear my heart beat in my ears very often but interestingly, the pain I’ve been having in my abdomen near my left ribs (the diaphragm) was an issue the majority of the race.

I just took my time hiking up, enjoying the view.  There was a lot of climbing and being over 10,000 feet definitely made it slow going.   The rib pain was really annoying and honestly I felt like quitting at almost every aid station.  I got to mile 7/8 and the first aid station.  There was one girl there and no cars, it appeared to be out in the middle of nowhere so I got some ginger ale, refilled my pack and kept going.  I couldn’t quit with no way to get out of there lol.

From there, we headed up, climbing a really rocky section, and then from there it would be up to the peak. I had a guy pass me who had started late.  He was hiking really well while I was taking short breaks every 100 feet or so to catch my breath.

I made it to the top of this section & then we actually went down again before heading up a beautiful yet seemingly never ending path to the peak.  Up & up we went.  I had taken my long sleeve off at one point but then as we were climbing up, I needed to put it back on and added my buff to be around by ears.  It was getting windy and pretty cold as we made our way up.

Once we got to the open area, it was windy, but not super cold because of the sun.  I was passed by an older guy, he had to have been in his 70s, who powered up that hill like it was nothing!  I, on the other hand, was trying hard to make it from ribbon to ribbon without stopping.  Being close to 12,000ft was not easy for me.  Finally I made it to the top!

Jubs was up there taking photos.  It was soooo windy & freezing.  I don’t know how she was able up there for hours!  They had a hole punch that you were supposed to punch your bib to show you had made it to the peak.  I went to get my phone out of my pack to take a photo or 2.  It was so windy that my phone almost blew out of my hand.  But I was able to get a few photos before I headed down the mountain.

As I was heading down, in some crazy wind, with so many rocks everywhere, I could see a storm coming to the left of me.  I was hearing thunder and then when I was almost to the bottom it started raining.  So I got my rain jacket out, but it on & then got to a critical intersection.  Marathoners headed to the right and crazy enough, less than a 1/2 a mile on that path & it was bright, sunny & warm! So I took off the jacket & stowed it back in my pack.

I kept moving, we were on a fire road at this point and as I was going down from the peak, I did see the aid station from afar.  We had to go down & then go back up in order to get to it.  On this section, I was pretty much done.  My chest (or diaphragm for that matter) was really sore and I was having trouble catching my breath.  And we just kept climbing.  A few cars passed me in this section along with a few 4 wheelers.  It seemed like it took hours but I finally made it up to the aid station.  There was one guy behind me.

I got to the mud lake aid station and I was seriously ready to quit.  The two very nice volunteers were like you have plenty of time, I was still about an hour or so ahead of the cut-off, but if you really want to quit, Matt Gunn is going to be back in a few minutes with some other drops.  By this point, the guy who was behind me was in the aid station.

We chatted for a few minutes and he said he’d stay with me if I wanted to keep going.  After a short deliberation I decided to keep moving, mostly because they said that this next section mostly downhill for 5ish miles before a climb to the next aid station, which was 6.7 miles away.

So we ran slowly past Mud Lake which really did just look like a huge mud puddle and down the mountain.  I kept looking back to see where the guy John was and he was following me from a little bit of a distance.  I was mostly power hiking at what felt like a decent pace, I guess that ginger ale and a few pretzels at the aid station really helped.

We kept motoring along down the mountain, once we got to the bottom, we were treated to a beautiful view of a small river.  We had to walk across 2 logs to get across and then we started heading up again.  I would take a quick break here and there but I was ready to be done!

We made it up to a camp ground and another fire road.  We started on a gradual uphill climb that would get steeper the further up we went.  I was moving pretty good in this section hiking strong.  I kept looking back and John kept getting further & further back.  I thought I should wait, but then I looked back and he was sitting/laying down on the side of the trail & I knew I just had to keep powering along so I could finish.

In this section there were a lot of 4 wheelers, I saw an older guy with an oxygen tank drive past me.  Another older guy passed with his grandson behind him and said he’d be back & would give me a ride, um, no thank you lol.  I passed a couple taking photos of the race signage who told me I was almost to the top.

I finally made it to the aid station, refilled my hydration adding in some carbo-pro.  I saw the 2 volunteers from Mud Lake & they were like we just got here so you made decent time!  There were just 4 miles to go!  Jamil told me that they were rolling, but it didn’t really matter because I was mostly hiking at that point so off I went.

It looked a little like it might rain again and the downhill towards the beginning of this section was pretty technical so I hiked down.  There was a small creek crossing and then it was a nice single track.  I saw the 2 ladies who I had been following from a distance up to the peak.  I really thought I was going to be the DFL female and didn’t think I would run into them again.

Eventually I caught up and passed them.  Not long after I passed them, I was having some trouble finding the next marker & I thought they might pass me again.  I finally found the marker and a bunch of cows.  This is kind of funny.  One of the cows was staring right at me as I was making my way around the trail, as I got closer to where he was, he started peeing.

I kept moving up & then down.  I eventually made my way back to the beginning section of the race that I remembered and headed down towards the finish.

As I was about a mile from the finish, I was actually running down the trail, I ran into the older runner who had passed me on the climb to the peak.  Yet another person I never thought I’d see again.  He wasn’t sure he was on the right trail so I think he was waiting to see someone else?  In any case I told him I remembered this section, he was standing by an abandoned house that we passed at the beginning and then we had to go under a fence.

I felt a little bad because I was feeling relatively good, tired of course, but just wanted to be done, and I passed him in the last mile of the race.  I thought he would catch me on the uphill climb up to the finish when I stopped a few times but he never did.  I ended up finishing 9 seconds ahead of him.

I finally could see the finish line! I ran through the muddy section and of course in the last 25 feet of the race got mud all over my clean shoes, lol.  But I was finished!  I had done it, the highest race I’ve ever done, 7,000 feet of climb in 26 miles, up to 12,100 ft!

After I finished, it started to rain, phew, I missed the rain!  I sat at the aid station for a while drinking ginger ale and got a vegan quesadilla and some oreos, which are accidentally vegan ;).

Eventually I drove myself back to the condo, took a bath with my Savasana epsom salts and took a short nap.  I didn’t know what time Sean was going to finish but I wanted to be at the aid station so he wasn’t looking for me.  There wasn’t any tracking since we were so far out there so I didn’t want to be late.

I got over there around 10pm.  Checked on things and realized that there weren’t too many finishers yet, so I went to take a short nap in the car.  I slept for maybe an hour & a half and then headed back to the finish line.

I hung out with a few other spectators, most of whom were waiting for 70k runners.  I chatted with a guy whose dad was also running the 100k, rang the cow bells when we would see head lamps coming in.  It was getting later & later, finally I asked Noah if he knew when Sean had gotten to the last aid station and it was around 12:45am so I knew I had a bit longer to wait.  It ended up being even longer because Sean got a little lost a mile or so from the aid station.

Around 2:30a, I think, he made it in!  I was so happy to see him & he was so happy to be done.  He sat for a little bit while cheering the others on & then I told him we needed to get moving since we had to be out of the condo by 10:30am.  We went back, he took a quick bath/shower while I packed up a little bit to get a jump on things.  We finally got to bed around 3:30 or so & I didn’t sleep much at all, the room we picked to sleep in didn’t have the best shades and as soon as the sun was up, it was shining in my face.

Sean was able to sleep decently and I started quietly packing up his stuff and finishing my own packing.  I ended up driving us back to Vegas with a stop at Zion National Park.  We wanted to explore a little more in the mountains but in order to get to where Sean wanted to go, it was going to require a bit more hiking than he wanted to do so we headed out.

Tushars was a bit smaller of a race this year than it has been in the past.  Aravaipa Running took it over but they didn’t have an official date until later in the season so I think that hurt them as far as numbers.  The volunteers, mostly Aravaipa employees this year, were amazing.  The course was breathtakingly beautiful and challenging.

I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a beautiful, challenging, well organized race.

PS. Photos aren’t necessarily in order of the race.   I couldn’t remember exactly where each photo belong so I just added them in how I saw fit. 😉