Race Recap: SD Half Marathon

Since the LA Marathon was moved up to February because of the Olympic Trials, Sean & I had the opportunity to run the SD Half Marathon in downtown San Diego last weekend.

Sean had run it the first 2 years and now we were running the 5th anniversary race.

Packet-pickup is downtown at an expo building on the harbor.  Right down from where I runch with @runningwithsd. Sean & I went early on Saturday morning. We needed to pick up our packets, get a quick shakeout run in and then pick up his mom who was visiting from the airport.

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As soon as we walked in had to fill out a waiver & then we got our bibs. They were kinda big and they way they were made made it very hard to fold them. The intent I’m sure 😉.

We got there & saw Christy from Running Skirts working their booth & chatted with her for a bit before walking to the back & outside to get our race shirts.

I really like my shirt, although what’s up with all the race directors choosing gray? I think the shirt which for women had purple accents would have been even more awesome in reverse. Men got a blue accent shirt.

They had Leslie Jordan shirts and I’m glad I choose a small. I picked a medium at Gasparilla & it was huge, although the sleeves were too short.

We looked briefly at the expo but there wasn’t much that interested us so we headed out to get a few photos & then head for our run.

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After we picked Sean’s mom up we went to True Food for lunch, did a few errands and then it was time for dinner.

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We found an awesome pizza spot in Old Town which seems a bit old considering most restaurants there are Mexican. But this pizza was super yum & I’m looking forward to going back!

Note we are a ton between a visit to Eclipse Chocolate on Friday night, lunch at True Food & then Pizza Bella so I’m not sure if that contributed to my not feeling well during the race or not.

We came home, got our gear out. I did my standard flat Jenny photo, although I didn’t post it and then we watched a movie on K2 that was really good before going to bed at around 10:30p for me.

Flat Jenny, San Diego Half Marathon, Procompression, altra running, lululemon, running4thosewhocant, tailwind nutrition, ultima, orange mud, garmin, xx2i

That night was the time change so we spring forward an hour. I always get nervous when we have a race after the time change so I set my alarm for 4:30a so I could make sure it updated & of course it did lol.

I think we finally got out of bed around 5am (or at least I did) got ready, I ate a cup of oatmeal and we headed out to downtown.  We didn’t have any traffic and found parking pretty close to the start for $10.00.

The start line was in front of the convention center on Harbor Drive.  We walked over, they had a bunch of port-a-potties lining the corrals, gear check was right next to the finish line, no UPS trucks at this race since the start & finish were so close together.

San Diego Half Marathon, Share the Spark, running4thosewhocant, runningwithsd, momentum jewelry, runners make the best friends

Not too long after we walked over to the corrals, we ran into Smitha @runningwithSD, I gave her one of my Momentum Jewelry “Share the Spark” bracelets, got a photo and then we headed to hit the bathroom.  At this point, the lines for the port-a-potties were relatively normal, although from start line it looked like they were back to back so that there would be lines in the corrals & on the other side.  They were open in the middle though so it was a bit confusing later on as there were lines every where.

San Diego Half Marathon, Running4thosewhocant, orange mud, lululemon, tahoe 200

We checked my bag and then by this point, I was starting to feel a bit nauseous, which wasn’t fun, especially since we hadn’t even started the race.  I left Sean up by Corral 1 and walked back to my corral #5.  Along the way, I saw Jenn @solehealth and I looked for Smitha, but I didn’t see her.  I made my way into my corral and just hung out there until it was time to start.

San Diego Half Marathon, Orange Mud, ultimate direction, xx2i, running4thosewhocant, solehealth, runners make the best friends

As I was waiting to start, I swear that my corral seemed to get bigger & bigger, when I first got into the corral I was up towards the front and then all of a sudden I was in the middle or back.  It was really weird, but because there weren’t fences on the side, people could jump in at any time.

We finally got started, 16 minutes after corral 1.  It was a beautiful day, as we ran down by the Harbor for a few miles, past the airport and then down closer to the water near Harbor Island for about a mile.  It was over here at mile 4 that I ran into Smitha and was like how did you get so far ahead of me, when she was supposed to be in the same corral.  Come to find out she jumped in a little bit ahead of me which is why I didn’t see her earlier.  I got a quick selfie and then I continued on.

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After this we continued on by the Harbor for another mile or so before we went into Liberty Station.  There was a short uphill over a bridge and then we got a small section of trail before hitting mile 6.  The relay exchange point was in this section.  There were a few moments when I wished I was running the relay since I was still not feeling great. But alas I was not so I continued on.

I think the next section probably miles 7 – 8 were the least pretty in my opinion as we had to get from Liberty Station back to downtown.  Not long after this stretch, started the hills.  There were a few steep hills that I walked up feeling like I was barely moving.  It’s in this section that my pace really fell off a bit, especially as I hiked up the big hill at mile 8.5 – 9.5.  Once I got to the top, I started running again and was really looking forward to the downhill to the finish.  In fact I kept asking myself, when will I get to the downhill.  It finally came as we approached Balboa Park around mile 11.

San Diego Half Marathon, Gaslamp District, Jenn13.1, PR

It was at this point that I could see @jenn13.1 with her Procompression shamrock socks on.  I was trying to catch up but I was just so tired by that point.  As we came closer to the finish line, we ended up getting stopped by a trolley and I finally caught up to her.  I continued on to the finish and got it done.  I was so happy to be finished!

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I saw Sean & his mom in the stands and went to give him a hug.  I asked him how he did and he kind of strugged & said ok.  Later he would tell me that he got a 1:36 and that his knee was bothering him a little so he backed off a bit.

After a few minutes with them, I went to get my medal, which really was awesome – one of my favs – and then to get my goodie bag.  I was walking with Jenn and one of her friends, who’s name escapes me now.  We got our post race treats, which they did an awesome job with.  They gave us a nice re-usable bag filled with our snacks and they were handing them to us.  It really was nice – I wish all races would do something similar.  We also got bottles of water & chocolate milk before getting our bags.

San Diego Half Marathon, Goodie Bag, Hershey's Chocolate Milk, Dole, Larabar, Clifbar

I met up with Sean & his mom after getting my bag.  We got a few treats, some naked juice samples and an Acai snack from Sambazon but I still wasn’t feeling a 100%.

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We ended up going to breakfast at Cafe 222, which was yummy, and then relaxing for most of the day before another good dinner at Cafe Guadalajara in Old Town.

Pros: Relatively Flat Course for 8 miles
Aid Station signs telling us how long until the next aid station
Nice Shirts
Awesome Medals
Goodie Bag

San Diego Half Marathon, half marathon, medal, race bling, gaslamp quarter, san diego, medal monday

Cons: The Hills at miles 8 – 10
Marathonfoto for the photos – They are just way too expensive
Weird set-up for the port-a-potties at the start

All in all though, this is a great race. It’s unfortunate that it is the same weekend as the LA Marathon because I wouldn’t mind running it again.

WIRW: Los Penasquitos Canyon

It’s time for another edition of Where I’ve Run Wednesday and today takes us to some amazing trails near La Jolla that once it’s spring/summer I spend a lot of time at.

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It’s been a while since Sean & I have run at Los Penasquitos, but we spent a lot of time out there last spring & summer.  We done as many as 18 miles out there but our normal runs are either what we’ve called the Seal Run, which is really called Wagon Wheel which is about 3.5 miles or we will run to the waterfall, which is about 7 miles.

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These trails are very popular with runners and mountain bikers, there are a lot of hills that you can add on for hill training and extra mileage.

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The trails are pretty well kept, the entrances sometimes get over-run with weeds but for the most part it’s not too bad.  The last time we were there, the bridge to go across for the wagon wheel loop was out due to all the rain.  The water there was semi deep and it wasn’t worth getting our shoes wet to go through.  I’m hoping they will fix this soon though.

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Now with Daylight Savings in effect, I’m looking forward to getting out to these trails more often.

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Race Recap: LA Marathon 2016

Yet, again, I’m super late in getting this up, but I’m determined to catch back up since I have 3 races coming up later this month.

There are some races that you can’t wait to run again and LA Marathon is definitely one of them.  Sean & I decided way back that there was no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to run a marathon, lol.  This is Sean’s longest running race streak, with 2016 being the 5th time in a row he’s run LA and this was my 2nd time running this race.  You can read about last year here.

So last September we signed up the day registration opened (it was $160 plus fees) and were locked in for a Valentine’s Day race.  Normally LA is run in March but this year because they Olympic Marathon Trials were going to be the day before, they moved it up a month.

One nice thing that they do for this race and I’ve seen similar at other big races is that they have discounted hotel rates at local hotels, in downtown and Santa Monica.  We typically stay at the Millennium Biltmore hotel in Downtown, it’s conveniently near a shuttle to get to Dodger Stadium which means we don’t have to get up in the middle of the night :).

We left for LA Saturday morning, very early like 6:00am so that we could get there in time for the Olympic Trials.  I didn’t want to miss a moment.  And we made it there in plenty of time which allowed us to get our packets before the trials started.

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We got to the LA Convention Center at just before 8:00am, took a few photos in front of the cool Skechers branded stairs and got in line to go into the Expo.  There were a few awesome security guys who were managing the line and I’m not being sarcastic here they did a great job of making sure that we all got in calmly and safely and made sure no one cut the line.

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Once inside, it was super quick to get our bibs, they are really organized then went to get our shirts and bags.  One thing about LA, they give you a ton of swag unlike most races.  We got a nice shirt, a few drinks, a Maple Protein thing and a can of Beet Juice, a mini clif bar and I think there were a few other little things.

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This was the first year that Skechers was sponsoring the race so there were lots of new things around the expo.  They had a cool booth where you could get your photo taken and then put it up on a map of the course.  Since we were there early we didn’t have to wait too long.

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We walked around for a little while, hung out with Smitha & Jen for a few minutes before we headed outside to claim our spots for the Olympic Trials, which I talked about yesterday.

We spent the morning/early afternoon cheering at the Trials and then headed back inside to go to the We Run Social meet-up.  We finally met Carlee McDot & Heather (@slowluckyruns).

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We chatted for a few minutes, got into the awesome group photo and then headed to check into our hotel.

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Sean got in his daily run before we headed to Bottega Louie for dinner.  We did this last year as well so it’s our LA Marathon tradition :).  This year though, we were smart and shared a salad & pizza instead of 2 entrees.  And of course we had to have the chocolate souffle, a pre-Valentine’s Day dessert ;).

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After an early dinner, we headed back to the hotel to set out our gear and relax. All the gear.

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I did not sleep well that night.  I just kept waking up, but I do think I managed to get a few hours of sleep eventually.  We set our alarms for 4am and I think I finally got out of bed around 4:15am.  We got ready and walked over to the bus stop around 4:45am.  There were more people waiting this year than there were last year so we had a little wait for the next bus.

I am so bad at eating before/during a race so this year I had a few new things to try.  I ate a croissant while waiting for the bus and then had a custom mix of Tailwind & Core Proven Nutrition in my bottle.  I had 2 additional bags to refill with in my pack.

We got to Dodger’s Stadium relatively early, got to the port-a-potties before there was a line and then I checked my bag relatively early.  Sean & I were in different corrals, he was in A and I was in E, the last of the seeded corrals.  We took a few photos and then split up.

The race started at 6:55am again this year. The sun was just up and we were off.  It’s too funny as you leave the stadium, there are so many guys running to the left to pee on the side. This might be a sign that there should be port-a-potties inside the corrals, lol.

I was feeling pretty good to start, just running easy, I knew that there would be a decent hill around mile 4 so I was gearing up for that.  It felt pretty warm around this point in the race, although no where near as warm as last year.

I think I ran into Marathon Mitch at some point around here.  He got this cool action shot of me.  It was his 16th time in a row running the LA Marathon.

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And then around mile 5, I got this weird lump in my throat and had to stop on the side of the road, just past the chili dog spectators because I seriously thought I was going to be sick.

What was so funny is that I was drinking my tailwind/core proven nutrition blend regularly to try and combat this issue.  So needless to say, I ran/walked the rest of the race.

There were some moments when I really thought I was going to be walking the rest of the race.  I did decently for the first 12 miles, on mile 13 I stopped to refill my bottle, miles 14 – 19 went ok before miles 20 – 24 were tough, climbing up to Santa Monica. I ended up with miles 25 & 26 being decently fast considering.

No matter how you do in this race, the one thing I have to rave about is the spectators.  They are absolutely amazing at this race.  So many people who had their own little aid stations with oranges, bananas, water, gatorade.  This is truly a special race in that aspect.  I am grateful to all those who had orange slices cut up and ready for us and everyone that took the time out of their Valentine’s Day to get up and support us.  I thank them all in addition to the amazing volunteers.

I’d say I still need to work on my fueling so I don’t feel sick while running.  I’m not sure what the issue was this time because it was really early to be feeling sick, I know I can go over 5 miles without any fuel.

Anyways, I finished up the race running almost the entire last mile.  I thought the finish line was earlier than it was and I couldn’t walk that close to the finish.  Once I finished, I walked slowly to find Sean I didn’t feel good at all and was freezing.  I got my awesome medal, they did a really good job on the medals, but I couldn’t put it around my neck because I felt like it was choking me.

I was kind of out of it, I still managed to smile for a photo before I found Sean.  He took all my stuff and helped me get some snacks and my bag before we snuck out of the finishers area so I could sit down for a few minutes and get warm for some more photos.

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One note about the bags.  For some reason they had them all out of the trucks.  Not sure what was up with that, but I did hear that there were a few people who were missing theirs.

Post race – they give you a lot of treats, it was bananas (I’m not a huge fan), animal cookies, 100 calorie pack teddy grahams, granola bars, pretzels and bagels with bottles of water.  They did have the heat sheets this year as well as towels you could get to cool off with.  It was pretty chilly when I finished though.

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Unfortunately, LA Marathon uses Marathon foto for their photos so I’m lucky Marathon Mitch took a photo for me or I wouldn’t have any.  The prices are a bit more than I want to spend.

Sean & I hung out in the park for a few minutes while I stopped feeling sick, got a few post race photos before heading out to the Pier.  We got some burgers & fries and then by that point I was feeling better.

They had transportation to take us back Downtown.  This year it was a bit longer of a trip because there was a lot of traffic so keep that in mind.

This is definitely a must on our race calendar, we’ve already registered for 2017. Hope to see you there!

 

Team USA: Olympic Trials – The Marathon

I’m waaaay far behind on my recaps so I’ll keep this relatively short but I will say, going to the Olympic Trials for the Marathon was absolutely amazing.

A little back story, taking it way back…I’ve been a huge fan of the Olympics since I was a little kid.  It’s summer 1988, South Bend, IN, my parents are throwing a party downstairs and so they let me have a TV in my room (This is back when kids didn’t have TVs in their rooms lol or at least we didn’t) so we could watch the opening ceremonies of the Seoul, South Korea games.  I was in heaven and stayed up way past my bedtime watching all the countries walk in – the US is at the end so I couldn’t miss them.

Fast forward a few years and my sisters are lucky enough to go to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, my brother-in-law’s sister played for the US Olympic Softball Team so they went to cheer her on.  I admit, I was super jealous at the time because I would love to go to the Olympics and one day (hopefully LA2024) I’ll get there.

So that being said, when it was announced that the marathon Olympic Trials were being held in LA the day before the LA Marathon I was all over it and couldn’t wait.

Sean & I drove up to LA the morning of the trials super early.  I didn’t want to miss any of the action and there was hardly any traffic so win-win!  We got there so early we had time to go get our packets and look around the expo before heading out to find our spot.

The map that was on-line wasn’t super clear as to where the best spots to watch were.  There was a short 2.2 mile loop to start the race and then the runners would do 4 – 6 mile loops.

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We set up in front of the convention center and watched the runners warm up.  It was fascinating to see them all do their warm-ups and see what they do.  We were lucky enough to have a front row seat to my favorite, Kara Goucher for her entire warm-up.  Unfortunately we were on the side where the sun was coming down so my photos aren’t perfect but you get the idea.

Kara Goucher, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

The race didn’t start until 10am when the men would take off, it was a warm day and you’ve probably heard and read a lot of the stories about how it was the hottest Trials on record, etc. etc. But I have to imagine that Rio is going to be incredibly warm and humid so while it wasn’t ideal, it did give the runners a taste of what’s to come.

From where we were, we couldn’t really see the start (we were on the opposite side of the street) so we waited about 10-12 minutes for the guys to come around after the first short loop, the women would start not long after the guys came through.

Meb, Galen Rupp, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

The first 1/2 hour or so was kind of a wait until the guys came through on their 2nd loop and then things started to pick up as the runners started to separate.

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We had an amazing spot right next the Staples Center as the runners made the turn towards the start/finish so close that if I had my arm out I could have touched some of the runners.

It was most exciting when it came down to the finish.  First up, Galen Rupp, who won his marathon debut – he was in the zone, but as he was finishing you could hear the crowd roaring for the 2nd finisher.

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Meb had grabbed a flag as he finished the last 800 meters and was putting on a show for the specators.  At 40 years old, he had made the Olympic Team, the first to do so at his age.  Lastly in 3rd place came Matt Ward.

Meb, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

About a 1/2 hour after the men finished, it was time for the ladies.  The whole race, until the last lap, Amy Cragg & Shalane Flanagan had been running side by side, in fact from other photos (not ours) there were times when you could barely tell that there were two runners.  They were matched stride for stride and then the heat got to Shalane.

Amy Cragg, Hasty Hastings, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016
We were hearing that Amy kept looking back to check on her, to make sure she was still there, but then came a point when she had to run her own race.  In first place, by a decent margin, was Amy Cragg (@hastyhastings)- who incidentally I had seen in the lead at mile 3 at the Chicago Marathon in 2014.

Next up was Desi, who like Meb was putting on a show for the crowd.  She was waving her arms and asking us to all cheer!  It was pretty cool.

Desi, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

And in the final spot was Shalane, she was super focused and we would later find out because she was pretty much hanging on for dear life to finish.

Shalane Flanagan, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

A few moments later, in a heart-breaking 4th place was Kara.  I know she was incredibly disappointed, who wouldn’t be, but I have to say I’m so proud of her.  With all the injuries and ups and downs she’s had in the last 4 years I think she ran an amazing race.

Kara Goucher, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

There were so many others who ran this race, men & women who wouldn’t make it to the podium, but gave it their all.  I’m super proud of each and every one of them that crossed that finish line.  Just to have the opportunity to be there had to be amazing! And for us to be there in person, totally made my weekend!  I was so inspired and I can’t wait to see the Olympics in August!

Where I’ve Run Wednesday: Cowles Mountain

The first time Sean took me to Cowles Mountain was on Labor Day 2014.  We had just run the 6 mile out and back at Lake Murray and then climbed up so we could see the city.

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Since then we’ve gone to Cowles Mountain quite a few times, it’s a moderately challenging climb up and then a nice run down. The whole up and down is about 2.75 miles – I’ve done it 3x in a row and it’s definitely a work-out.

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Cowles is a popular spot in San Diego for all levels.  It can get very warm though so definitely make sure to bring water and if you bring a dog, definitely have water for them.  There are signs as you start the hike talking about how hot it can get and being safe.

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At the bottom there are restrooms, a water fountain and a soda machine.  Parking can be tricky since it is so busy – most  of the time the small lot is full which means parking on the street.  If you park on the street make sure to cramp your wheels in the proper direction or you will get a ticket.  There are signs everywhere and I’ve seen cars with tickets on the windshield.

The views are the reason why everyone visits Cowles, in my opinon :).F8AD4061-0536-4524-B6B8-48921C3C4772

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Where I’ve Run Wednesday: Mount Woodson Trail

It’s time for the 2nd edition of my Where I’ve Run Wednesday series and this month I’m going to continue on with some of our favorite spots here in San Diego.  Today I’m talking about Mount Woodson Trail at Lake Poway.

Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson Trail, San Diego, Altra Running, Procompression, orange mud, running4thosewhocant, lululemon, #thegibblers

On Christmas Eve, Sean & I were looking for some new trails to run and we decided to head over to Lake Poway and head up Mount Woodson Trail to Potato Chip Rock.

Be prepared to pay a $5 entry fee to get in. We got an early Christmas gift on Christmas Eve because there was no one at the gate, but the next time we went they did charge us $5. We asked and you can pay with credit card if you don’t have cash.

The trail starts out nice and relatively level with some small uphils and nice downhill before you make a turn to head up the Mount Woodson Trail. And here is where you start heading up, according to my Garmin there is about 1,300 ft of climbing in mile 2 – 3. While Sean can run up the whole thing, I typically hike up this area because I’m huffing & puffing a lot.

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There are a lot of really cool huge boulders that you will pass and some of the areas are a bit narrow. Once you get to the top, you’ll see Potato Chip Rock. I have to say, I was expecting something a bit different the first time I went up. I really thought it was going to be a lot bigger.

Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson Trail, San Diego, Altra Running, Procompression, orange mud, running4thosewhocant, lululemon

On Christmas Eve, there were only a few people waiting to take photos so we didn’t have to wait long to get our photos taken. I started up and then got a bit nervous to jump over to the rock but I eventually made it and Sean got a few cool photos. The sky was kind of ominous but was pretty.

Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson Trail, San Diego, Altra Running, Procompression, Orange Mud

Side note: The second time we went up, it was a Saturday and we got up only to see a long line of people waiting for their photo op. I’d estimate it was at least an hour wait if not longer and it was already after 3:00pm and the park closed at 5pm so definitely allow enough time to get down if you are going for a photo.

Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson Trail, San Diego, Altra Running

The way down was amazing though, after running through the boulders and by a lone tree, there is an amazing view of Lake Poway as you fly down the trail. This is where Sean took one of my all time favorite photos.

Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson Trail, San Diego, Altra Running, Procompression, orange mud, running4thosewhocant, lululemon

About 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, Mount Woodson Trail is a must see. Just make sure to bring lots of water as it can get really hot and dry.

Where I’ve Run Wednesday: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

A few weeks ago the awesome peeps at Altra asked us ambassadors to tell them about some of the amazing places that we get to run.  So that got me thinking Sean & I have had the opportunity to run in some really amazing places, both on trail and on the road and I’d love to share those places with you.  So here goes…the inaugural Where I’ve Run Wednesday (WIRW for short) and I’m starting with one of our favorite spots near San Diego – this was posted to the Altra blog about 2 weeks ago but it wasn’t super clear that it was my post 🙂 oops so I’m sharing it here as well.

The very first time I came to visit Sean in San Diego (for our 2nd date) we went out to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Descanso, CA near Julian. I’m not sure what we were thinking because it was a super hot August day with temps reaching 100 degrees. But that day we would run/walk/hike 10 miles, giving me a small taste of what the mountains near San Diego would offer, like seeing the golden fields that California is known for the first time.Jenny Nakamura photo 1
Since that day in August 2014, Sean and I have spent a lot of time out on the trails in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, the neighboring Cleveland National Forest, and on the PCT. These trails play host to a number of events, including the San Diego 100, Cuyamaca 100k, Mount Laguna Marathon, and Noble Canyon 50k.Sean has run all of these races so he has been a good guide, and we’ve explored a lot of the trails that are a part of these races. Some of our favorite spots include the third loop of the Cuyamaca 100k, which is approximately 18 miles of trail that takes you from Camp Cuyamaca into the northern section of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park before entering into Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and a short section the PCT before returning to the camp.

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The views once you hit the PCT are absolutely spectacular, and I tend to pinch myself because it’s hard to believe that I live so close to such a beautiful place.  I really love this photo too because it shows how vast the area really is.  It’s hard to believe it’s just 45 minutes from the beach.

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Another area that we like to visit often is in the Cleveland National Forest. There is a great spot off the Sunrise Highway—the Meadows Aid Station at San Diego 100—that we’ve spent a lot of time at lately, mostly because it’s a little flatter and more runnable. The single track in this area isn’t too technical and is well cleared. This area is a part of the Noble Canyon Trail and this winter we encountered a lot of snow, which was super cool.

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There is so much to explore in this area. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has over 100 miles of trail. Cleveland National Forest has over 920 square miles of trail, including over 100 miles of the PCT. And the Anza Borrego Desert State Park has over 916 square miles. The landscape is so diverse, from desert to fields to mountains to forest.

And the views? Well you’ll just have to come and see for yourself.

What are some of your favorite places to run?