2017 Los Angeles Marathon Race Recap

And with this post, I’m caught up on my race recaps!  Yea!! Can you see me giving myself a pat on the back? LOL

Let’s get the following out of the way and then get on to my recap.  I am an ambassador for Conqur Endurance Group, which puts on the Santa Monica 5k/10k, Pasadena Half Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon.  I did receive a free entry into the race as part of my ambassadorship, however as usual all opinions on the race are my own.

This was my 3rd year running LA and Sean’s 6th.  We really enjoy this race and will continue running it for many years to come.

Sean & I drove up to LA on Saturday morning in an effort to beat some of the traffic and then to be able to get our streak run in and relax before having to get up crazy early to drive to Santa Monica.

Once we got near the convention center we started looking for street parking, it’s significantly less expensive than parking in the garage. We parked about 3 blocks from the Expo and walked over.

On Friday, we got a text with our bib numbers in, which was a nice surprise.  If you opted in for text messages, you received this text.

When we got to the expo, there wasn’t a line to pick up our bibs so we immediately walked over to our respective numbers to get our bibs.  They weren’t there and both Sean & I were directed to the solutions desk.  We had added on the start-line hospitality so our bibs were in a different section & tagged with a sticker showing that we were in the hospitality tent.

Once we got our bibs, we got our race shirts & gear check bags.  I really like the shirt and I would love to see a medal like the shirt with the landmarks around the medal, I think that would be so cool :).

We walked through the sponsored merchandise and Skechers had some nice gear at reasonable prices, but I have so much gear that I felt it best to pass.

Once we got into the expo area, I immediately took us towards the Lululemon Sweatbox where we would be for the next 90ish minutes.  I’ll talk more about this in a separate post.

Once we left the Sweatbox, we walked around the expo for a few more minutes, got some Clif Bar samples, a few photos and then headed out.

We were trying to decide when to do our run, but we also wanted to go to lunch, it was already 2:30pm so we were in that in between time.  We looked it up and saw that Bottega Louie was less than a mile away so we walked over.  Once we got there they told us that it would be 40 minutes for a table because they were changing over the shift so we put our name on the list and decided to go for our run.

We ran back to the car, I got us new shirts since we would probably be pretty sweaty and then we ran back to the restaurant.  We were probably a 1/4 of the way back when I got a text saying our table was ready so we ran back as fast as we could to get our table.

It was pretty funny when I sat down at the table, sweat literally dripping down my face.  Our server didn’t miss a beat and didn’t say a word as I was wiping my face, lol.

A hour later we had stuffed ourselves with Cobb Salad, Margarita Pizza, Creme Brulee & a Chocolate dessert.

We headed back to the car and over to Manhattan Beach and a movie.  Afterwards we had to find a FedEx office because I forgot to print out our parking permit & I didn’t want to have an issue in the morning.

In the past 2 years, 2015 & 2016, we’ve stayed in a hotel downtown.  This year we were able to stay with Sean’s sister in Manhattan Beach so I pre-purchased parking in Santa Monica prior to the race for $20, note to self, print it out before you leave for the race ;).

We finally got to our destination, did our flat runner photos and headed to bed. A 2:45am alarm was going to come fast. Needless to say, I don’t think I slept more than about an hour the whole night and I was already up before my alarm went off.  I tried to sleep until about 3am before finally just getting out of bed.

We were out the door and on our way by about 3:40a, we took a nice route near the beach up to Santa Monica and encountered no traffic on our way to the garage next to the Civic Center. Since it was so early, Sean & ate GoMacro bars on the way to Dodger Stadium.

Once we got parked we headed to the shuttles, the line was quite long, but there were tons of buses so we assumed we’d be in one and on our way quickly.  30 minutes later, we had barely moved and maybe one bus had left.  We realized at some point that there were 2 lines of runners, on either side of the building, oops.

We finally made it up to a bus, a girl asked me if I was wearing my back and taking my bag with me to the start and gave me 2 orange wristbands to put on them.  I didn’t know what they were for, they didn’t look in or at either my pack or drop bag closely.  I found out later that they were checking bags for security reasons, but that wasn’t the case with us.

We made our way up to Dodger Stadium and got dropped off in the normal spot.  I heard from some of the other ambassadors that they would get dropped off outside the stadium and that the freeway exit got all messed up with cones in the bus lane.  Fortunately that didn’t happen for us.

We walked in and over to the start-line hospitality tent.  It was pretty chilly when we arrived.  This was our first time doing the start-line hospitality and it was pretty nice.  They had food, bagels, bananas, clif bar shots, coffee, bottled water and most importantly heaters!  We saw Tim, one of my fellow ambassadors (for Conqur & The OM Dirt Unit) at one of the tables, we eventually moved to the back of the tent to stay warmer.

It was really nice, they had yoga mats and foam rollers, Air France tote bags & infuser bottles, private porta potties and a special gear check UPS truck for us!

We got the whole ambassador gang together for a photo and then we went our separate ways to get ready for the start. Left to right: Linzie, me, Tony, Emelia, Erica, Tim, Brett, Carlee, Ivie & Miriam.

I was in Corral C which was the 3rd corral and Sean was one of the lucky 300 people to be in Corral A up with the elites.  As I was standing there waiting for the start, I saw Gocart Mario in his car.  It was pretty cool.

I will say thinking back on it now, the start line atmosphere wasn’t quite the same as it has been in the past, it seemed a little bit more mellow than I remembered from past years, but all good.

I turned my Garmin on about 20 minutes before the start and unfortunately it never got a signal so when I started I thought I hit the start button, but found out right before mile 1 that I had not started it at all so I was about .85 miles off on my tracking.

We start in the parking lot of Dodger’s stadium and as we were starting the sun was coming up and it was looking to be a very beautiful day.  Contrary to what we were expecting with fog for most of the race.

I started out feeling ok, my back and legs were a bit tight from standing around so I took it slow to start, or so I thought, lol.  I actually did quite well the first half of the race, looking back, although I did not feel great at all, my butt hurt pretty much from the get-go and that eventually moved to my hamstrings and it was all I could do to just keep moving.  A lot of my issues are stemming from an anterior pelvic tilt along with one hip that is higher than the other.

I was experiencing a lot of pain but I decided to just have a lot of fun, take photos & try to find some of the snap chat filters, I don’t use snapchat, I only downloaded it for the geofilters, which I was planning to upload to my Insta stories.

I’m still a bit shocked at the time I came into the 20k at the time I did considering I hiked up a lot of the hill, slowed for photos, etc.

Around mile 4, is the Disney Concert Hall, which looks so pretty and the Japanese drummers are there too.  They are amazing, I caught a short video as I walked up the hill.

One of my absolute favorite spots on the course is the chili cheese dog station at about mile 5.5.  They totally did it up this year with a table and chafing dishes full of food.  It is things like this that make LA Marathon so awesome.  The spectators really get into it.  That being said, I really wish this station was at mile 25.5 so I could actually enjoy one, my stomach is a bit too finicky to eat a chili cheese dog less than 6 miles into the race lol.

I ran walked from mile 4 on, taking photos, seeing the sites and just having a great time.

We ran down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  It’s really pretty with all the palm trees. I had a video of this area, but I seem to have lost it.

I love coming into Santa Monica, there are so many spectators, I swear this year there were even more than in the past.

About mile 18 the pain in my glutes/hamstrings started to get really bad, to the point where it hurt to walk.  I know my walk sections were getting longer but I kept moving.  Talking to other runners, listening to my audio book, enjoying the sunshine and all the spectators.  Around this point there were more and more of them.

After doing a run/walk hobble to mile 23, our friend Mitch came by and said Hi before passing me.  I chatted with some other runners and just kept chugging along.  Eventually we got down the hill and to the beach.  I ran the last mile just trying to keep it together and get to that finish line.

When I crossed the line, I was surprised at how quite it was.  I looked for someone I was supposed to meet at the finish but I never saw them so I got my medal and a few photos before going to look for Sean.  In the past he’s been closer to the finish line waiting for me, but he said they were pretty strict, and understandably so, about runners hanging out near the finish.

I got a bunch of post race treats, banana, bagel, Power bars, pretzels, animal crackers, cheese-its, etc. and then kept moving.  I was in so much pain, I just wanted to sit down.

After getting my heat blanket, I finally saw Sean & made my way to him.  We got my drop bag at the start-line hospitality truck, this was an awesome perk, it was the first truck!

After getting our gear and that Air France tote bag came in handy here for all of our post race snacks ;). We headed to the pier to change into dry clothes.  I sweat so much, my lululemon speed shorts are always soaked to the point I’m dripping, I don’t understand why I’m sweating so much lately but in any case, I always bring a full change of clothes for after the race.  I hate being wet once I’m done running.  This race, I got smart and brought a small towel to dry off with too ;).

We got warm, took a few photos and had a nice post race meal of burgers & fries.

I finished the race in 4:46:10, out of 18,893 runners I was 6,244.  After reflecting on my time, which compared to a lot of people isn’t fast, I realized that I was in the top 3rd of people, which means that over 12,600 people finished behind me.  That’s a lot of people and it’s nice to see that LA Marathon is a race that is for any ability.

So I already know I’m registering for next year, you can get in on the party by registering for the lowest prices for the next 3 days. (Regular registration opens later this summer)

As with any race, even those you love, there are always things that are better than others so here’s what I liked, what I didn’t like and what I’d love to see ;).

Pros:

  • Nice big expo that wasn’t super crowded
  • Beautiful Medal
  • So many spectators on the course
  • Amazing Volunteers, those kids were so into it, cheering us on
  • SRLA (Students Run LA Program) this is seriously an amazing program that brings over 3,000 at risk youth from grades 7 – 12 together for a marathon training program that culminates with them running the marathon. These kids inspire me so much & I look forward to seeing them every year.

Cons:

  • No information telling us that our bibs would be at the Solutions desk instead of the normal pick-up area.  It wasn’t a huge issue since it was pretty quite but if it had been busy we could have waited a long time.
  • Shuttles to the start line
  • While the volunteers were amazing, the kids had a hard time staying on the sides, some of the aid stations became bottle-necks
  • Last year at the expo we got a lot of treats in our gear bag, this year nothing. While I don’t need the papers, I liked trying new food products.

Suggestions:

  • As I said earlier, while LA has amazing medals, I would love to see a medal that looks like this year’s shirt with the landmarks around it.
  • Santa Monica shuttle definitely needs a little work, I know this is definitely something that Conqur is investigating already.
  • Give out bags with post race snacks in them – SD Half, NYC Marathon & Venice Marathon does this and it is sooo nice. You just grab a bag from a volunteer & go.

Overall though, this is one of my favorite marathons and I can’t wait to go back and run it again in 2018!

Griffith Park Trail 50k Recap

One week after the Wisdom Tree Marathon, Sean & I made our way back up to LA for Keira Henninger’s Griffith Park 50k/Marathon & 1/2 Marathon.  We had a ton of friends running and were excited because Keira always does an awesome job.  We always have a great time at her races.

We drove up to Manhattan Beach on Friday to stay with Sean’s sister.  Driving to LA on a Friday is always a bit stressful since there is so much traffic but it wasn’t horrible until we hit the 405.  We managed to get to her house relatively early.

We got our gear out, did our flat runner photos and then headed to bed.

We got up pretty early to drive the 30 minutes to the park. This race started on the other side of the park, by the Merry Go Round, opposite from where we were for the Wisdom Tree race the week before.

Once we got on the road, we hit insane traffic because they closed one of the freeways for construction and had to be re-routed around the airport.  It was super stressful since we were already running a little late.

I was texting with Kristina and asked her to pick up our bibs just in case we were really late.  We managed to arrive with about 30 minutes to spare but I was a bit nervous.

We got lots of photos with the OM Team and lots of friends running the 50k and other distances.

Keira gave a quick pre-race speech and then we were off!  Sean & I were with Kristina for a bit at the beginning and then we all separated on the first little climb.

Once we got up a little ways we were treated to the most spectacular sunrise!  This photo I got of Sean really doesn’t do it justice but gives you a little insight into what we saw.

I really had no idea what to expect from this race except that the course was a little short (29.5 miles) and that there was going to be a LOT of climbing, over 6k.  If you have followed me for a while, you probably know, I’m not a fan of climbing, LOL.

Anyways, I started off hiking the uphill and running the downs and flats.  I chatted with a few other runners and Orange Mud fans. We eventually were treated to an awesome view of the Griffith Park Observatory. The guy I was running with at this point was telling me La La Land was filmed there and that I should check it out.

Just after this we saw Howie Stern taking photos and then we got to another uphill, where there were volunteers cheering us on and sending us down to the left to the observatory.

Down I went, I saw Sean coming back up not too long after I started down.  I was having a weird feeling like my right foot was swelling even though my shoe didn’t seem to be overly tight and I had to go to the bathroom. Odd, but I kept moving and eventually got to the bottom where there were more volunteers telling us where to turn around.  As I went back up, I saw a bunch of my friends, Jenn, Vanessa, Alexis & Kristina.

 

The only downside to this race, at least the first half of the race was that there were a lot of other people out on the trails which meant weaving in and out a bit.

I hiked the way back up and once up we headed over to towards the Hollywood sign.  We went down a pretty steep trail and then up the road to the sign. At the road there were a few volunteers, I saw one of the guys I followed for a bit at Sean O’Brien directing us up the road.  Once we got to near the top, there was a girl there telling us to go up to the flag and when we came down she would give us a wrist band showing that we made it to the top. Once I got to the top, I asked someone to take my photo since I was by myself at this point.  Note to self…make sure to tell the person taking the photo to get your feet in the photo too so you can show off your Altras ;).  The sign was the turn around spot at about mile 11.5.

I got my bracelet and headed down the road to the little hill that the week before I described as a slip and slide ;).  And we did a portion of the course that we did the week before – on the single track section. It was a lot harder to run the single track because it was dry and there were so many other runners coming that it was hard to get any kind of decent pace going.

Once we got back to the road, that the week before would have taken us to the horse trails, this week we headed back up over towards the Observatory.  My legs, specifically my hamstrings & glutes, were starting to really bother me around this section and when I saw Smitha, Jenn & Valerie, they asked me how I was doing and I was like my legs hurt! lol

Fortunately we didn’t have to go back down to the Observatory and just headed back towards the start. Those nice downhills were now pretty steep climbs and by the time I got to mile 17 I was hurting pretty bad.  I texted Crystal and told her where I was, pretty much whining about the horrible hills.  From this point until I was to the final turn around, I was not in the best of moods.

For some reason when I looked at the course map, I thought the course was a loop not a bunch of out and backs, I was kind of confused when I was heading back and didn’t know where the additional miles were coming from. Turns out all the out and backs look a lot like a loop.

Regardless, I finally saw Sean around mile 22 as he was almost back to the finish.  I was not happy and complaining about why was I even doing this, I hated running, etc. etc. This has been a reoccurring theme during my long trail runs lately, especially when there are a lot of hills.

And the worst hills were still to come it would appear.  I hit the last aid station and headed out for the last out and back.  I was not happy when I got there and I was pretty calorie deficient by that point too.  I’ve still got to work on my fueling.  I got some more CarboPro and kept moving.

As I was heading up a pretty steep hill, another girl passed me and then was like this is horrible, how far up to we have to go.  I felt at least a little comforted that it wasn’t just me who was hating these hills lol.

We just kept going up and up and up and then finally I saw 2 people and asked hows much further we had, they told me the turn around was by the trees, which was a lot further than I was expecting.  Regardless I got to the turn around and then saw my friends, Jenn, Alexis & Vanessa coming down.  Then on the second or third uphill, I saw Kristina and we got a quick photo before continuing on.

I could not wait to be done! Finally I got to the last aid station, had my bottles topped off and was told it was only 2.5 miles to the finish! Hallelujah! I took off and caught Tam shortly afterwards, we chatted for a minute and then I started running again.  I’d hike the uphill, run the down.

Finally we got to the final turn back to the finish line.  Raul & his son (Founder of Running4ThoseWhoCan’t) were there and cheering me on.  I started running and didn’t stop until I got to that finish line.

I was so incredibly happy to have made it to the finish.  That was a very tough race.

Sean congratulated me, got a few photos and then I got my medal & buckle from Keira.

We waited for our friends to finish, got a few more photos and then headed back to his sister’s so we could have lunch.

As always Keira does an amazing job and even though mentally I was not in a good place, this was a great race.

Griffith Park Trail Marathon – Wisdom Tree Loop

I’ve been procrastinating long enough and I’m now 3 race recaps behind with another race this weekend so I better get a move on!

Sean & I have headed over to LA to run in Griffith Park, in downtown Los Angeles 2 out of the last 3 weekends.  Our first jaunt up there was with a small group of friends for an informal marathon.

I found us a cool historic hotel about 15 minutes from the start in Koreatown.  We got there around dinner time and just decided to grab dinner in the cute burger place below the hotel called Cassell’s since we had already valeted the car.

You’ll see that eating burgers before a race is now becoming a trend, which is interesting. lol

These burgers were super yummy, we also got some amazing sweet potato fries that were covered with cinnamon sugar. I’ve eaten a lot of fries, but none that were like dessert, lol.  I also ordered a ginger beer that Sean & I shared, it was homemade and huge! Like 2x the size of the water glass.

Of course we couldn’t resist getting some pie.  Personally I prefer fruit pie, but Sean is more of a chocolate person so we decided to try the chocolate peanut butter, which was good but the back crust was a little tough, I kept clanking my fork on the plate.

After dinner, we got our gear ready and then hit the sack.  I’ve been so exhausted lately, I sleep but yet it doesn’t seem to be helping me to feel rested.

We were meeting at 6:30am so we got up around 5:15a and left the hotel around 6:00am.  It was raining as we were waiting for the car to pull around and it was a little chilly.

We got to our meeting point a little bit before 6:30a, we got our gear ready, chatted with some of the other runners and then after the last runner arrived, we got started.

The loop started out with a tough technical climb up to Wisdom Tree.  We got a quick photo and then headed out to the next spot, above the Hollywood Sign, we would only go to the top the first loop.

After another quick group photo there, we headed down the road to the next set of trail. Up a steep section that reminded me of a slip & slide.

From there we took an overgrown & muddy single track trail to a fire road.  When we got down, we ran down the road to the horse trail, which was like a fire road.

We took the horse trail down for a bit and then we were at the bottom of the Hollywood sign.  We got a few photos and then headed on.  The next section included in a little more downhill fire road and a bit more road before turning onto a dirt sidewalk and heading back to our car.

Sean & I stuck together the whole “race” for the most part.  He is a bit better than me on the uphill, but with his knee still getting back to normal, I was a little faster on the downhill.

It was not an easy race and I struggled up the hill to Wisdom Tree on the 4th loop. I really wanted to quit, but I pushed through and we made it finishing 4 6.2ish mile loops for a total of 26.4 miles & somewhere between 5-6,000ft of climbing and earned this amazing medal!

Afterwards we went to Howlin’ Rays Tennessee Chicken with our friends, where we stood in line for 2.5 hours to order our chicken sandwiches.  They were good, but I’m not sure if they were 2.5 hour wait good, lol.

We did have a great time and of course watching Andrea eat the Howlin’ chicken was very entertaining!

Next up, I’ll recap Keira Henninger’s Griffith Park 50k.

What is the longest you’ve waited for a post race meal?

My Road to SD 100: Stop 2 Black Canyon 100k: A bump in the road

Last weekend, Sean & I headed to Arizona to run the Black Canyon 100k.  We signed up last year expecting a fast and mostly downhill course with a long time limit (which appealed to me since I know I’m on the slower side).

Unfortunately Mother Nature intervened and the week of the race, the race directors at Aravaipa Running had to make a decision to change the course to an out and back due to a forecast of over an inch of rain on race day.  They made the right decision because the original course crosses the Agua Fria river several times and the river was too high & too fast for over 500 runners to safely cross it.

So, the course went from having ~9,000+ feet of descent to being an even up and down of ~3,500.  Once you got to the turn around, you would start making your way back up to the start.

The race directors did an excellent job of communicating the change to us runners.  I saw it posted on the Facebook event page, on their website, received an email via ultrasignup and also even watched a live Facebook video where they discussed it and answered questions.

We got to Phoenix late Thursday night, we were staying with my sister, who lives about 15 minutes from the Anthem Outlet Mall, where the shuttles were originally supposed to pick us up to go to the start line.  Since the race finish was at the start line we didn’t have to take the shuttle after all so it was just a 45 minute drive to Mayer High School.

We headed to the expo on Friday afternoon, got our bibs and shirts.  We chatted with Ben & Zach Bitter at the Altra booth for a little bit, I got to try on the new Escalantes, which are so nice! I can’t wait to get a pair and then headed back to my sisters.

For Christmas, I had gotten my sister a pasta maker so she made us a yummy pre-race meal with fresh pasta and baked chicken.

While she cooked, Sean & I got our flat runner photos done and backed our drop bags.  Since it was going to be wet & rainy, we packed everything into 2.5 gallon zip lock bags to keep everything dry.

Since we only had to drive to the start line in the morning, we were able to sleep a bit longer.  I think we left the house around 5:20am and made the 45 minute drive up to the high school.

We dropped off our drop bags, hit up the bathrooms and then headed to the track where the race was starting.  It all happened so fast.

I saw Rachel, one of my fellow Orange Mud Ambassadors & we got a quick photo.  I also met Tara, @runwithtara, saw Malia, @rnrgrl808, her son ran the 60k and came in 2nd overall!! I also saw Jen, @jenlaughlin_18, who was like 2/3 races we’ve done together have been in the rain, lol.

Sean & I got a quick pre-race photo and then we were off. It was already raining when we started.  The race started off with a lap on the track and then we ran through the town before hitting the trail.

The first part of the course was the muddiest of the whole race but I was wearing my new Altra King MT’s which were created specifically for muddy conditions.  They did not disappoint.  I felt so secure and was not slipping and sliding at all. There was only one small area where the shoes had some caking but it quickly fell off.  Sorry for the blurry pic, my fingers were already wet so I had a hard time even getting the phone to work. After this, I didn’t take it out again until after I dropped.

I felt really good the first 7 miles to the aid station.  In the last 1/2 mile I started to get a little bit of a stomach pain but kept moving knowing there would be a port-a-pottie at the aid station.

I got there, grabbed a few glukos gels from my drop bag and then waited a few minutes to use the bathroom.  The next section, I started slowly because of the stomach pain, but it eventually got better.  I enjoyed this section, it was absolutely beautiful single track.  I had a few close calls where I came  close to a few hard falls so I slowed down a bit and really started watch my footing.

Unfortunately tripping multiple times caused some pulling in my hamstring so I was dealing with that as I made my way into the 3rd aid station.  This is where Sean caught up with me.  I was not a happy camper, practically in tears, and not at all excited about running in the rain for another 12 hours.

After a few minutes of chatting with Sean, refilling my pack I decided to move on.  In retrospect, after I had heard some people talking about dropping to the 60k, which they normally don’t allow but due to the weather, they made an exception, I should have just dropped down at that point.

I slowly made my way up the fire road to the single track.  I was following 2 girls for a bit.  During this section, I was having a lot of pain in my right foot under the midfoot.  Literally every step was excruciating. Seriously this race was just full of rando physical issues.  It eventually went away but I was power hiking the majority of this section.

As I made my way to the aid station, I saw a photographer from Sweet M, who got this lone photo of me during the race.  I’m a little disappointed she didn’t get a full body shot but it does show how wet I was, my skirt was completely soaked.

Sean was waiting for me at the aid station and I put a few things in my drop bag, took way to long trying to get my bladder back in my pack, the bladder I was using wasn’t opening easily so every time I refilled it, I had to ask for help and we would fight with it to open.

We finally made our way to the turn-around, where I would have to sit down for a few minutes because I was feeling light-headed.  I had 2 cups of ramen and felt a little better.  We headed back up the hill and the rain just kept coming.  I was trying to move as fast as I could, but I kept feeling lightheaded and I wasn’t happy.

We got to the mile 37 aid station and I was super close to dropping but Sean convinced me to keep moving to the next aid station, which in the end was a smart decision.

This section was the last before it got dark and I was moving as fast as I could to get there. I was starting to get really cold and the rain just kept coming down.

When we got to the aid station, I told Sean he could continue on, but I was done.  I was so cold and it was just going to get worse as we got into the night, and into the windiest, most exposed sections of the course.

I walked into the aid station saying I was freezing and they directed me to the heaters to warm up.  One of the volunteers, who I would later find out was the founder of Squirrel’s Nut Butter, Stacy kept asking me if I wanted to get out of my wet clothes.  I didn’t have anything dry to put on so I said no originally.

Finally after I officially dropped, she told me that she gave me a dry Squirrel’s Nut Butter sweat shirt I could wear and pretty much made me get out of my wet clothes.  Sean asked me for my waterproof jacket to put over his other clothes because he was going to continue on.

I hung out in the aid station until they closed and I was able to get a ride to the finish line.  There was a cute little boy who asked to play some games on my phone so I let him play for a bit.

Once I got back to the High School, I got changed, even after getting into dry clothes, I couldn’t warm up.  I think I had on 3 sweatshirts.  I hung out with Ben at the Altra table chatting and interacting with runners who had questions about Altra.  I met & chatted with another ambassador, Kim while waiting for Sean.

My King MT’s were awesome on this course!

Now that I’ve had more time to think about the race, I don’t regret my decision to drop, because I know I was pre-hypothermic and continuing on could have resulted in putting myself in a bad situation.

I also know that I could have physically finished the race, while I had minor aches and pains, I was not injured but mentally I was checked out, not having fun and let that take over.

Running is hard, running ultras is harder and I think that the mental part is the hardest.  As I continue on with my journey to SD100, I think I will have to train my brain the most.

Even with a DNF I learned something important about myself and what I need to do to get to the next finish line.

 

My Road to SD100: Stop 1 – Sean O’Brien 50k

The first half of this year is all about getting to the finish line of SD 100.  And with 2 races a month, I’m using races to train & get more comfortable being on my feet for a long time.

First up in my journey is Sean O’Brien 50k, which was my 5th 50k.  I went to Sean O’Brien with my Sean last year and ran/hiked the first 5ish miles of the course so I had a very small knowledge of the course, which is not easy.  The nice thing about SOB is that like with Keira Henninger’s other races with multiple distances, there is a long cut-off for the shorter distances which I like.  I hope not to take the full time, but I know I don’t have to worry about cut-offs, which I really like :).

Anyways, Sean & I drove up to Calabasas on Friday afternoon/evening.  We made it to packet pick-up in time to get our bibs and to try out some of Altra‘s new shoes.  I was super excited to get to try on the new King MT & the new Superior 3.0, both of which I can’t wait to add to my collection.  (I wish I had asked Ben, the SoCal rep, if I could have worn a pair of the King MT’s for the race, but more about that later).

We headed over to our hotel, got dinner at a very clubby Italian place that I felt a little under dressed at in my super comfortable Orange Mud sweatshirt. Side note: If you love super soft, comfy sweat shirts, this is the best one ever, I literally wear mine every day.

We got back to the hotel and got our flat runners set up before heading to bed.  With a 3:15am wake-up call I hit the sack as soon as I could.

That alarm sure came fast, I think I snoozed once maybe twice 😉 before getting up and starting to get ready.

It didn’t take us long and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.  The 100k started at 5am so we were trying to get there by 4:15/4:30 so we could get a decent parking spot.

We got Sean’s drop bags over to the start area & he headed out to start the 100k.  As I was listening to Keira’s announcement, she was talking about how lucky we were to even have the race because of all the rain we’ve had in SoCal lately.  She lobbied with the Parks department, reworked the course and we were all able to run!

The 100ker’s took off and I headed back to the car because my race didn’t start until 7am.  I decided to get a little more sleep before getting up around 6:20ish to get ready, check in and hit up the port-a-potties.  I met up with Emily, a (very speedy) fellow ProCompression Ambassador and a few of my fellow Orange Mud ambassadors.  We got a quick photo and then Keira was asking us to head to the start line.

Once we were at the start line, she let us know that the race was going to be muddy (I was like great, I left my poles in the car, oops) and that the 50k & marathon were the only races that didn’t have a course change.

Pretty soon after that we were off, I kept a steady pace for the first 2ish miles to the creek crossing.  I felt decent during this section.  The creek crossing was a lot higher this year than last year – it was knee high and the creek was rushing.  They had a nice strong rope to keep us safe on the crossing.  The mud we encountered just after the crossing was actually a bit more stressful.

And then up the hill we went and as we went up, we got over the fog and it was so amazingly beautiful.  I chatted with some other runners as we climbed and climbed.

As we made our way up to the first aid station, we were going up over these boulders, which were awesome and so different from the rest of the course.

It was in this section that I saw Howie Stern who got this photo of me.

I got to the aid station, had a few snacks and then crossed the street, a volunteer was advising us to be careful because it was slippery.  This initial section was pretty slippery because there was a lot of flat rocks.  But as we kept moving it cleared up.  I was following a marathon runner who picked up a friend at the aid station, don’t think that’s really supposed to happen, but I guess anyone can come out and run on the trails.

I finally passed them and kept moving.  And then I came across a crevasse taking up 2/3s of the trail, it was nuts.  I slowly made my way around it and kept moving.  This was maybe 8-9 miles into the race.

It wasn’t too far after the crevasse that we got to the mud.  It was pretty slippery but I figured out a way to run/hike through it and I wore my Superiors which really helped as opposed to my Olympus.  This is when I wished I had the King MTs to see how well they really worked in the mud ;).

This section felt like it took a long time for a variety of reasons, one, it was muddy, two, I was in a pack and at the start of the mud, I was behind a girl who didn’t have the right shoes on and she was slip sliding around like crazy and three we were stopping a lot and attempting to move to the side for the lead runners coming through.

After the mud, we had a very steep downhill into the mile 13 aid station.  I had to go to the bathroom so I lost a lot of time in this mile because there I had to wait for someone to get out.  Unfortunately sometimes you just have to wait, and in this case I made the right decision :).

It was about 2ish miles to the next aid station.  There was a nice down hill and then some climbing.  As I got closer to the aid station, people started saying BACON!  And you’re almost there, this one is good, they have bacon.  Ultra runners love bacon! Although who doesn’t love bacon.

I made it to the aid station, practically sliding into the table, refilled my pack and then turned around.  I saw a few friends and enjoyed running the downhill in this section.

I made it back to the halfway aid station, grabbed a few potatoes and I was out.  Now, I should have had some new shirts in my drop bag because I was soaked.  Note to self, put a dry shirt in your drop bag.

I headed up the hill and ran into my friend Tam, who was coming down to the aid station.  We got a quick pic and then kept moving.

I was anticipating a tough road with the mud.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the mud had dried a little bit so it wasn’t as slippery, but instead it was super sticky.  My heels were popping out of my shoes, I was a little worried at one point that I was going to walk out of my shoe, lol.

The first part of the next section went really well.  2 guys passed me and I followed them for a bit, down and through the small creeks – there were probably 11 water crossings during the race.  They ranged from the rushing knee deep creek to small puddles that you could hop over.  It was nice having these guys to follow for a bit.  I couldn’t really keep up on the steep uphill to one of the aid stations, but I caught back up and passed them on the downhill in the last section.

I finally got to the last aid station, a volunteer helped me refill my pack with CarboPro and water.  As I was getting a snack, I saw Sean run into the aid station!  How awesome was that.  He was at mile 40 and I was at 26.  We spent a few minutes chatting about how he fell and hurt his knee around mile 1.5 and then we went our separate ways.

It’s interesting how quickly you forget the course because the first part of the last section was a lot hillier than I remembered.  I ran walked and eventually our friend Josh Holmes, of RunItFast, who was running the 50 miler caught up with me.  We chatted for a few minutes before he took off.

There was a girl in front of me with arm sleeves that I was following down the hill.  This section was really hard on my feet, but I kept her in my sights and eventually a little before we headed on to the single track, I passed her.  We saw another girl too who was a little confused as to which way to go and kept moving.

This section was fun, a lot easier on the feet, although still somewhat technical.  It was made better by the fact that we were getting closer to the creek crossing and I knew then we would only have 2ish miles left.

I finally made it to the creek.  I started across and about halfway through I stepped off a rock (I wasn’t looking for rocks to step on – just holding on and walking across) and I could feel a sharp twinge in my back.  Fortunately it passed pretty quickly.  I got out of the water and kept moving.

As I moved on in this last section, my calves started to cramp.  I think that the combination of the cold water and a little dehydration was the case.

I trudged on again forgetting that once we get back to the single track had some more uphill.  The guy following me was saying the same thing, how did we forgot this?

Eventually we got to the downhill into the campground and I knew we were so close.  My calves were still cramping but I kept running to the finish.

Right before the finish, I saw Josh again, he got a few photos of me before I made the turn into the finish.


And then I was done!

Even with the weather, I had a great time out there.  I feel like I did decently with my fueling, although I did have a stretch of uphill where I was getting tired, I could have probably had a bit more electrolyte, but overall I feel like I did pretty well.

I don’t necessarily feel like the time on the clock represents my fitness as I felt pretty decent out there.  I think I could definitely do better with a little more training & no mud!

Thank you to all the volunteers for spending their day with us & to Keira for all her hard work in getting us all to the start line!

Next up, Black Canyon 100k!

 

Race Recap: Inaugural Pasadena Half Marathon

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve had a race, lol, it’s really only been a month, haha.

Let’s get the following out of the way and then get on to my recap.  I am an ambassador for Conqur Endurance Group, which puts on the Santa Monica 5k/10k, Pasadena Half Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon (still want to register? use code JENNYLA2017 to save a few dollars).  I did receive a free entry into the race as part of my ambassadorship, however all opinions on the race are my own.

I signed up for the Pasadena Half knowing that we would be in Hawaii the weekend before for HURT, but I wasn’t positive on our travel plans so I signed up for the race day packet pick-up to allow myself some options in case we didn’t get back home until the day before the race.

That being said, I did not attend the expo so I can’t really comment on it.

With my training for SD100 starting and the first of my many training races coming up, SOB 50k on Feb 4, I felt like I needed to get in a double longish run weekend.  So we kicked off the weekend with a double loop run at Lake Miramar while trying to avoid the rain.  We didn’t end up getting on the road until after 3pm so we didn’t have time to go to the Expo which closed at 5p, which was fine.

We had a quick dinner at CPK, which was right near our hotel.  We were going to just drive up on Sunday morning, but with the rain we decided it was best to stay over to avoid the stress of having of driving to Pasadena at 3am.

After some yummy pizza & pasta, I got a quick Flat Jenny photo and got my gear ready for the next morning.  The forecast called for 100% chance of rain so I added in my rain jacket.

Our hotel was 2 miles from the Rose Bowl so we left at 5:30am, which was 1.5 hours prior to the start of the race.  I guess I underestimated the time it would take and since we didn’t know the route to the start line, we didn’t realize that the 210 would converge on to the main road to race parking.

I’m not the most patient of people normally and knowing I didn’t have my packet, etc. was really stressing me out.  I think there could have been a little bit more of a police or volunteer presence to direct traffic and I’m sure that next year this issue will be fixed.

Although I will note, there will always be traffic going to the start of a race, it’s just how it is. This isn’t the first race I’ve been to with traffic, it’s just that there wasn’t anyone directing traffic at a major intersection and I think that’s what made it most frustrating.

Moving on, once I jumped out of the car and ran over to the start line area, it was just after 6:30a.  I quickly got my bib and I still had some gear on so I hurried over to gear check to check my extra long sleeve and my track pants.  They had it organized by bib number which was nice.  After the gear check disaster at CIM this was so nice.

I thought I was going to be late to the start but I was fine, about 6:50a when it was all said and done.  I ran into a few of my friends as I was heading to the corrals.  We chatted for a few minutes and then made our way to our respective pacers.  There weren’t corrals per say just pacers holding the pace sticks.

By this point Sean was making his way over to me, he wasn’t running the race but was going to run a few miles while I was running so he could get some photos for me and cheer me on.

Me, Richard, Laurie, Michael & Ivie

He got a few photos of me and some of my fellow Pro Compression ambassadors.  By this point the announcer was telling us that we were probably going to start about 10ish minutes late.  You could tell by the number of cars still coming into the parking lot that it was going to take a bit more time.  I think we finally started around 7:30a, give or take.

Our traditional pre-race selfie :).

And then we were off, I knew almost immediately that I probably shouldn’t have run quite so fast the day before, I was having an issue with my shin/calf muscles feeling super tight right above my ankle bones.

I slogged it out for the first 2 miles up the bigger hills and then just after the Tournament of Roses building, I pulled over to do a quick standing pigeon pose to try and stretch this area out.  That’s when Sean caught up with me and asked me if I was ok.  I didn’t realize he was going to be there so it was a nice surprise :).

I read on social media that a lot of people thought this was a tough and hilly course.  For some reason, after the hill on mile 2, I didn’t think it was that bad.  Again, compared to CIM which seemed like hill after hill after hill, this was a breeze, it felt mostly flat, but with a lot of out and backs. (It might be all the hill training I’m doing that’s making this seem easy too lol).

I just moved along, one step at a time, not really caring too much about my time, just wanting to get to the finish line.  I’m so spoiled getting to run in beautiful places, in San Diego and on beautiful trails around country that running in cities doesn’t really excite me much anymore.

I don’t think the course was bad necessarily, it just wasn’t super exciting with 2 exceptions.  The bridge on mile 9/10 was gorgeous!  That was my absolute favorite part of the whole course.  It didn’t hurt that there was a nice little downhill right after that.

I did however need to make a little pit stop around this point so I popped into one of the many port-a-potties they had near aid stations. I was so wet and so cold by this point I could barely move my fingers.

And then there was just a 5k left to go.  We made our way towards the Rose Bowl stadium and around the golf course and this is where Sean caught up with me again :).

3 miles, 2 miles and then just 1 to go. As we got closer, I could see spectators on the side cheering us into the stadium.  I saw Sean’s pink hat near the entrance and made my way over to the left side so he could get my photo.  And then we were heading down inside the stadium!

I’ve run in stadiums before, Angels stadium during the Disneyland Half, the Bravos spring training field during the Walt Disney World marathon but this was the first time I’ve finished on a field.  It was pretty exciting!

As I was making my way to the finish line, they called my name so up went my arms to cheer myself into the finish!

I got my medal, a quick selfie and then looked around for Sean.  He took a few more photos before we got chastised for not being in the right spots lol.

I headed over to get some bottled water and a space blanket, I was soooo cold! There was a photo opp in the middle of the field but I was so cold, I couldn’t wait in line.  I headed out, grabbed a few snacks: a muscle milk bar, pretzels, gold fish, cheez its and an apple.

By this point all I wanted to do was get warm, but I needed to get my race shirt.  They had Leslie Jordan shirts, which I know run a little big, so I grabbed a small, they had lots of shirts.

I got a bottle of organic muscle milk and then saw a photo op outside the stadium with a much shorter line so I took off my cozy space blanket because I had to look cute for my photo lol.

Overall, I enjoyed the race, with the exception of some minor stress over getting to the start line, I had a great time.  Even with the cold & rain.

Pros: Amazing Medal
Getting to finish on the Rose Bowl field
Race Day Packet pick-up option
Free Photos
Lots of port-a-potties at the start and on course
Awesome volunteers that stood out in the rain to support us

Cons: Parking
Rain & Cold (obviously this isn’t something the race could control)
So many out and backs on the course

Would I run this course again?  I will say it’s a long way to drive for a half marathon, but if it fit into my schedule, I wouldn’t mind trying it again, on a nice sunny normal SoCal winter day.

 

Race Recap: 2016 CIM Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We got a quick group finish photo with Dean Karnazes.

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

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

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

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

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

Race Recap: Santa Barbara Red Rock Trail Run – Marathon

The race recap blitz continues…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Recap: Revel Canyon City Half 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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