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 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?

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: 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: NYC Marathon

For about 30 days every January/February the New York City Marathon lottery is open.  So many runners enter the lottery with hopes that come March their credit cards will be charged $255 and they will be in for the biggest race in the world!

I’ve been lucky to have run NYC Marathon once before, although, I have yet to be lucky in the lottery. Both times I’ve run NYCM it has been with a charity, first with ING Run for Something Better and this year with the James Blake Foundation.  My first time I was supposed to run in 2012 but unfortunately Hurricane Sandy changed that and so I ran in 2013 instead.

This year, both Sean & I put our names in the hat and he was the lucky winner, he found out really early that morning, while I was stuck waiting to see if I got in through out the day.  I was so disappointed that I didn’t get in that he didn’t want to tell me he was in so as to not upset me. Such a sweet guy :).

In any case, originally we thought to have him defer until next year to see if I got in as well.  But in May, when we found out that my brother-in-law David was diagnosed with cancer, I thought what better way to support him than run the race for him.  So we looked for a charity that fit what we wanted to do and settled on the James Blake Foundation.

Long story short, we were able to raise $3,000 for the foundation that supports early cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital thanks to the generous support of our family & friends.  We are so grateful for the generosity shown to us and the support for David!

Now to the event…I didn’t have this blog when I ran NYC the first time so this is my first NYC Marathon race recap.

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We have had a very busy schedule, with the trip to the Venice Marathon, then Javelina before finally heading to NYC on the Friday before the race.  To say it was a quick trip is an understatement.  By the time we got to the city on Friday it was after 6pm which left us time to get in Sean’s streak run, visit Times Square and have dinner.

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On our way back from our run, we happened to walk by a place called Grom, it’s a gelato place that we went to in Venice after the Venice Marathon.  It’s so yummy & what a treat!

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I wanted to go to the We Run Social event which was a part of a bigger event with Kelly Roberts, a blogger I’m not really familiar with, on Saturday morning so I dragged Sean out of bed early and to the subway so we could head down to Chelsea for the meet-up.

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It was so great seeing Robin, my friend from SD, Carlos, Gina (who incidentally I met at Javelina the week before) & xtina ;).  We got in a short run through the city, took some photos, grabbed a snacks (those new Vega Protein Snack bars are super yummy! and then headed off to the expo.

We Run Social Crew

We were planning to take the subway to the expo, but after chatting about it we decided to just take a cab.  It was just way easier :).

We made it to the expo and it wasn’t super crowded to get into like it was the last time I was there.  We got our bibs, race shirts & our packet info and then it was time to head into the expo.

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The Asics booth had a lot of cool Marathon logo’d gear, but the line was ridiculous & I just don’t have patience to deal with all those people so we skipped that section.

First thing we saw when we got inside was the awesome Altra booth!  They really had a great NYC edition Torin and some sweet shirts too.  Sean & I each got one :).

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We ran into Heatherruns74 at the Zensah Booth and chatted with her for a bit.  We were so sad to hear about her race.  It sounds like it was a tough race for a lot of people.

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We made bibs saying F*CK Cancer for David  at the NYRR booth to wear on our backs during the race. They just asked for a minimum $5 donation that went to Team for Kids.

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After walking around for a bit, we ran into some of Sean’s friends at the Nuun booth. We chatted with them for a bit, then got some fun stuff at the Aftershokz booth and a few snacks.

We then made our way back up towards our hotel and lunch.  We went to this cool upscale food court for burgers before dropping off our gear and heading back to the park for another run.  The first one was too much start & stop to count as a streak run for Sean so we needed to do a 2nd one.  We ended up with 4.5 shakeout miles.

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Dinner was super early at this yummy Italian place called PizzArte.  We had a pizza Pulcinella with tomatoes, arugula & shaved parmigiano and a homemade pasta with marinara sauce & basil.  Yum! Yum! Carb loading at its best.

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We got back, each of us took our flat runner photos and then got some sleep.  I normally wear my Lululemon Speed Shorts for most races and I was still wearing a lulu sports bra and swiftly tee but my awesome friends over at Running Skirts made the most perfect NYC skirt that I just had to wear for the race.  It’s seriously cute and the twins are actually running on the streets on the skirt.

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The time changed that night and I just happened to wake up a few minutes before the actual time change, I always get nervous but I saw it change so I felt better :).

We set our alarms for 4:45am to catch the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry at 6:15am.  I’ve never taken the ferry before so it was a lot of fun!  Although note to self.  Either sit by the windows, so you are in control of it, or away from it.  People were opening the windows for photos and there were 2 not so considerate peeps who left the window open & it was freezing!! lol

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Once at the Staten Island ferry station we quickly made our way out and headed to the buses.  We were lucky and got on a bus pretty quickly.  The bus was kind of slow going and we found out why once we got a little closer.  The police were doing security checks as you got off the bus.  This was so much nicer then in 2013 when it was a madhouse with 50k runners trying to go through a tiny bottleneck. (After hearing from other runners, I think that may have still happened, but maybe with the buses from the city.)

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Sean & I were in different colored waves but we had plenty of time so we just hung out near the blue village (my wave color).  When we got there there were barely any lines for the port-a-potties so that was the first stop.  Then we settled in for a few hours taking a few photos and a nap.

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When we got back up, there were a lot more people there and Sean was freezing.  He was wrapped up in our LA Marathon heat sheets like a burrito – it was really funny.

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Eventually it was time for Sean to make his way over to the orange village to get ready to run!

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I headed back to the blue village, I really wanted one of the cool Dunkin Donuts hats they were handing out but I seriously couldn’t find them.  I ate a bagel and drank the rest of my water.

The worst part about this race is how long you have to wait until the start.  My wave didn’t leave until 11:00am and I was up at 4:45am.  I ate a croissant on the way there, a Clifbar filled peanut butter bar and a bagel about an hour before along with a bottle of water.  I probably could have eaten more but I was a bit nervous too.  I thought about it as we were on the bus, it’s interesting that at a marathon they wait until mile 18 to give you any food but in an ultra you could be eating from the first aid station, lol.

I hit up the port-a-potties one last time and then made my way over to the corrals.  By this point it was getting hot so I shed my throw-a-way gear, put on my race bib and got my flipbelt situated.  Unfortunately NYCM doesn’t allow backpack hydration packs although I did see a few others wearing orange mud, which made me a bit sad because that would have been so much nicer than the belt.  I say that not because the belt was bad, it actually was quite comfortable, but once stuffed, I have an iPhone 7 plus and a few Glukos Energy gels and other gels, it looked pretty awkward around my waist.

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I was in the orange wave last time, which was on the other side of the bridge, this time they staged us and then walked us over to the actual start line.  I’m pretty sure we started a little late, but in the scheme of things it didn’t really matter at that point.

I was really warm as we were getting ready to start and thought wearing a black shirt, which I never do, was probably not the best idea.  But I remembered it being a bit windy so I kept my sleeves on.

We listened to the National Anthem, the girl who sang, was also running the race then finally we were off!  It was such a different experience from 2013 with the sun shining and barely any wind.  I do feel like there were a lot more people.  I’m not sure if that’s because I was in wave 4 vs wave 3 or just because adding an extra 2k runners made it feel that much more crowded.

I took it rather slow going over the bridge, it is the biggest climb of the race, I took a little video, and just enjoyed being out there.

It was a lot of fun running down the bridge but once we got to the bottom, I was expecting to see a ton of spectators but there were very few.  Turns out that once we merged with the orange wave, that’s where all the crowds were.  I was on the right side of the street scanning the crowds to the left to find my friend Lucia who lives in Brooklyn.  I saw her and her family and started screaming her name!  Eventually her husband heard me and they waved.  It’s always exciting to see people you know.

I just kept moving feeling decent in the first few miles. And then I started to feel a sharp pain in my left ankle around mile 5.  I had twisted it somehow and while it wasn’t horrible, I definitely could feel a serious discomfort.  I just kept moving until a few miles later.

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We were heading up a little hill around mile 8 when I passed a girl wearing the Boom socks from ProCompression.  I said nice socks and she was like I read your blog, LOL.  If you are reading, HI!  Not long after that a guy named Terrance asked me about David and told me a story about a friend of his who had cancer and ran the race a few years ago.  It was his birthday and we would run/walk with each other for a few miles.

I had an issue with one of my toes from Cuyamaca which was doing fine until a few days before the race.  I was trying on outfits for the race and I made the mistake of just shoving my foot into my compression sock.  Well big mistake because it pushed the nail backwards but not off completely.  So instead of just pulling it off, I decided to put a band-aid on and wait for it to fall off on it’s own.  Long story short, the band-aid started to come loose and I could feel the tape on the bottom of my foot.  I ran for as long as I could with it like that until I knew I saw a med tent.

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At just after mile 9 I rolled up to the med tent, asked them for a band-aid and had to take off my shoe & compression sock to do a repair job.  I’ve stopped at med tents before, but this was the first time I’ve ever had my bib scanned upon arrival and departure.

They watched me change out my band-aid and gave me a little athletic tape to keep it together (band-aids aren’t super sticky) and then I was off.  Of course then I started running and immediately thought, oh no, it’s too tight, but eventually it would loosen up, although I would end up with a massive blister on the 3rd toe from the tape. But it didn’t hurt and was gone pretty quickly.

After this I tried to keep up my momentum and just enjoy the race.  I did pretty well until we got to the bridge, by that point, I was getting really cold and my ankle was starting to throb.  I took a few photos of the city, texted my sister & Sean, saw that Molly Huddle was kicking butt and ran/walked as much as I could.

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I remember the moments coming off the bridge into Manhattan differently than this year.  It was a really nice with the sun shining.  Running on First Ave there are so many spectators, it was like a huge party.

Around mile 17/18 I was just minding my own business heading into the aid station when all of a sudden this huge plastic garbage bag comes flying across the road.  This girl in front of me got tangled up in the bag and went down.  I helped her up, got her over to the sidewalk with the help of a spectator when a police officer came up saying that medical was coming and then I kept moving.

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I will say that it was really nice having a lot of aid stations, but the aid stations got a little slippery and sticky from all the water & gatorade.  I drank a ton during the race, I think I refilled my Orange Mud hand bottle at least 5 times.

When we got to the Bronx everyone was so nice, they were dancing in the streets and when we got to the last bridge there were a few people cheering us on saying this is the last bridge.

We finally made it to 5th Ave, which is slightly uphill, I ran/walked most of this section. And was so excited to turn into the park.  This is one of my favorite parts of the whole course.  It’s so beautiful and this year there was some sun flitting through the trees when I was going through this section.

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If I remember correctly, after a few quick miles through the park, we came out of the park again around 59th Street & Columbus Circle.  And then we were heading up the last small hill to the finish!  I was so excited to be at the finish line!  Arms up & all the smiles!

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All in all, I’m happy with my time, I came in under 5 hours and I had a blast.  In the end, that’s what matters most.

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And then it was so so cold!  I was freezing!  I took a few quick selfies, made my way over to get my medal.  I quickly walked over to get my snack bag and then a heat blanket.  I walked as quickly as I could to get to the ponchos.  I was so cold by this point.  I was texting with Sean.  He had finished quite a bit before me and was getting ready to walk back from the hotel to meet me.

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I finally got my poncho and started walking towards the family reunion area.  I thought Sean was there, but he was still coming up when I got there.  I saw him coming towards me and was really happy.

This year it seemed a bit easier to get around, maybe because I was a bit later in the day, but we made our way back towards the hotel, stopping at a Starbucks (like so many other people) to get something warm.  We finally made it back to the hotel and I was able to finally get warm.

While this wasn’t my fastest race or even my fastest NYC, it was such a blast.  Even with the minor issues I dealt with, I had a great time.  Marathons are never easy, but it was made easier knowing that I wasn’t just running for myself this time.

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Pros: Amazing crowd support – NYC Marathon has the best spectators.
*Very organized expo & race in general
*Running over the Verrazano Bridge
*Taking the ferry to the start line
*The Ponchos are really nice
*Cool Medal

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Cons: It’s very expensive at $255 + $11 entry fee
*NYC is an expensive city, we were fortunate that we were able to use points & miles to pay for our travel, but in general, NYC is not cheap.
*It’s a crowded race and as it grows its getting even more crowded.
*A very late start. When you are used to 7am or earlier starts, an 11am start is very late.
*The weather is unpredictable
*The walk after the finish is super long and cold

All in all, while I wouldn’t necessarily want to run NYC every year for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the cost (if I lived closer it might be different), I love the New York City Marathon and I think it should be on every marathoners bucket list to do at least once.

Race Recap: Vancouver USA Marathon

Sean & I headed up to the Pacific Northwest to run the Vancouver USA Marathon for my 10th marathon.  This was my first visit to this area, I’ve been to Seattle for Rock n’Roll in 2013 but I’ve never been to Portland & southern Washington.

We headed up on Friday night, and after a long flight delay, we finally made it to our hotel around 1am.  We hit up the expo early on Saturday morning right as the skies opened up.  We hung out in the car for a few minutes before braving the weather to pick up our bibs.

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The expo was interesting, it is in conjunction with a Brewfest, which didn’t mean much to us, since we don’t drink, but that took up half the expo area.  The actual expo was mostly local companies, I don’t recall seeing any recognizable companies.

This was a pretty small race, there were only 459 marathon finishers and a little over 1100 half marathon finishers. Bib numbers were listed on the website.  Sean & I were 227 – 228.  We grabbed our bibs and then walked through the expo to get our shirts & a goodie bag which was at the exit.

We got blue marathon shirts, a bag full of snacks, laundry detergent and some pamphlets.  We took a few photos by the VUM sign and the 5k finish line before heading out.

We got in a quick shake-out run by the river later that afternoon.  This run did not go well for me, I was having some pain in my lower abs and my calves were sooo tight.  I jogged or rather walked most of these 2 miles.

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We had a traditional Italian dinner at Mamma Mia, lasagna for me & linguine carbonara for Sean before heading back to the hotel.  I was so exhausted, I took my flat Jenny photo(s) but totally fell asleep before I posted it, oops.

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The race didn’t start until 7am and it was only 15 minutes from our hotel so we got up at around 5:30ish I think and then left the hotel about 6:10a.  We got there around 6:30a, found a parking spot on the street just down from the start.  There were a bunch of lots for parking but since were there so early (and the half marathoners didn’t start until 9a) there was plenty of street parking.

First thing we did was head over to the port-a-potties.  Coincidentally, and this was really not cool on their part, there was a guy there cleaning the port-a-potties as we were all trying to use them.  With 450 marathoners and less than 20 minutes until the start, that really wasn’t a great time to be setting things up.  I feel like that was a major fail on the part of the race.

But regardless, we did our business and then dropped our gear off before heading to the start area.  Based on my run the day before, I wasn’t sure how my race was going to go. However we had a nice little bonus with temps that were much cooler than we are used to at the start so I figured I’d give it a go and see what happened.

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So I turned on my Aftershokz so I could listen to my audio book and I took off with the 4:30 pace group.  I quickly moved up and ended up running near the 4:15 group for the next 8 miles.  In looking at my splits I ran the first 9 miles at sub 10 min paces, which considering my lack of speedwork, I’m pretty happy about.  It might not be fast for some, but for me it was a nice consistent pace.  One day, I’ll will run the whole race at this speed :).

The first half of the race was an out and back west of the city.  It was flat and really pretty for most of this section.  The only thing that was a bit odd was that we were on the side of the road for the majority of this part of the race with cars able to come down both sides of the road in some sections.  But I guess with it being a pretty small race it wasn’t a huge deal.  We had a short area where we went through a small patch of gravel trail and then on to little bit of a nicely paved path.

I spent this time listening to my audio book and trying to keep up with the group.  At mile 7 I think they must have sped up because I was still around the same pace.  I hung on until mile 10 when I had to refill my water bottle.  I was so thirsty.  I added in my mix to the bottle and continued on.  I think this is probably when I started taking walk breaks as this mile was quite a bit slower than the previous ones.  Although, part of that is the aid station stop to refill.

So I continued on at a slightly slower speed but I hit the halfway point at about 2:06.  By this point my Garmin was off by about .2 miles so I’m not sure what I did, because Sean was only off .01.  I’ve been to races before when this has happened and it’s made up by the end so I wasn’t sure where exactly I was.

Once we hit mile 14 there were a few hills, in the scheme of things they were very minor, but after 13 flat miles, they felt like mountains, lol.  It was also around this point that we met up with the half marathoners.  By the time I got there, I was met with a lot of walkers, I trudged on, walking if needed up the hills, passing the 3:00hr pace group.

One nice thing about this race was that the half marathoners started 2 hours behind us at 9am so when we got to the half way point, unlike in other races where the marathoners are all by themselves, we had the half marathoners to keep us company.  That was a pretty cool idea especially since the first 13 miles were separate from the half course.

I was still so thirsty, so I refilled my bottle with just water around mile 14 or so, the girl was a little stingy with the water but I was able to get a pretty full bottle.  I only had one more bag of my calorie mix so I waited until I got further along to use it.  I really think if I’d had an extra bag, it would have made all the difference.

I think it was around mile 17/18 as we were heading downhill, the 4:30 pace group passed me.  I was kind of disappointed but I just kept chugging along. At this point I was mostly run walking until I got to mile 19 – 20 when I started to feel a bit sick from the lack of calories and I know from my times that I was walking a lot more during this part.  There also was more climbing in these miles.

I refilled my bottle once more and then just kept run/walking, passing a lot of half marathoners.  I heard one guy saying that they were looking at about a 2:30 half and I kept looking at my watch trying to figure out how much time I had in order to still PR, even by a small amount.

Time was going faster and faster and I was going slower, having another hiccup around mile 22 with the sick feeling.  I started running only to feel like I threw up a little in mouth, YUCK! so I had to back it down again.  At the next aid station, I got some Gatorade and that helped.

This section was really pretty, we were on a nice path by the water before we headed inland again.  I noticed as we got to miles 24 – 26 that the half marathon mile markers started getting further away from the marathon mile markers.  I wasn’t sure what was going on and being so close to my PR time, I was confused as to if I was even going to be anywhere near it because of the mixed up mile markers.

I finally made it to the last aid station, probably less than a half mile from the finish, but I didn’t realize that because the 12 mile marker was right before it, there was another hill of course, lol.  I looked down and saw 4:34 on my watch and was like where did the time go – I guess I hadn’t been watching as closely as I should have.  I grabbed some more water and kept moving, heading down a slight descent and then making a turn trying to pick it up because I was almost there.  Unfortunately I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted to because the sick feeling came back so I just kept moving, finally turning the corner and seeing the finish line, I ran across, arms high to Bart Yasso congratulating me by saying my name and where I was from.

The time on the clock was just over 4:36 minutes and once I had the official results, I knew I missed a PR by 25 seconds.  Of course initially, I was disappointed, for about a minute and then I was super happy to even have gotten that close.

I don’t talk about my times very often, just in the context of the race, but not on a daily basis, mostly because I run a lot of slow miles in training, which is good for my endurance and staying injury free.  But I haven’t had a sub 5 hour marathon since LA Marathon 2015, 15 months ago.  Which is why even though I was 25 seconds away, I’m not upset or really that disappointed, because this race gave me back my marathon confidence.

With no formal training plan and no nutrition plan I ran 25 seconds slower than my PR, which I ran after following a very specific training plan, with a coach, and an incredibly clean diet for 6 months.  The fact that I was able to get close without doing those things was a huge boost to me.

I trained for this race by running longer races, back to back semi long run and a lot of miles, including my biggest (ever) mileage month of 175 miles last month.  Since March, I’ve run 11 races, including 2 50k’s and my first 50 mile race along with logging a lot of trail miles.  It wasn’t a traditional training plan by any ones standards, but I think it worked for me.

Vancouver USA Marathon, Expo, Marathon

Now back to the race.  They gave my medal to Sean, who gave me a kiss and put the medal around my neck.  My legs were so sore, but from the inside, it was almost like they were seizing up because I had stopped.

We took a few photos but I needed food.  They had mini Jamba Juice smoothies, corn thins, fritos or other chips, bottles of Coconut water & gatorade, bananas and Kashi granola bars.  We grabbed a few snacks and then headed over to the park so I could sit down for a few minutes.

After a few minutes of walking around and sitting, my legs felt a lot better and I was walking normally again.  We took a few more quick photos and then headed back to the hotel to clean up & eat!!

Overall, I would say that this is a very well run race.  They were organized and outside the port-a-pottie & half marathon mile marker issues I think everything went really smoothly.

I’ve written about it before that I’m not a huge fan of small races preferring to have more spectator support & people around, but I didn’t feel like this at this race.  I know it’s not feasible in most races to have the half marathoners start 2 hours later, but I really thought this was an awesome idea.

Overall, I enjoyed this race and I would recommend it for those who want a beautiful, smaller race.

Running with Meb

I had the pleasure of being a part of the shake-out run with Meb Keflezighi this past weekend as part of the Suja Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon & Half Marathon weekend.  I had seen the shake-out run advertised, and since my birthday is coming up, I decided to give myself an early birthday gift & so I signed myself and my friend and running buddy, Pete up to Run with Meb.

This event took place on Saturday, May 31 at the San Diego Hall of Champions and would include the following: (from the RnR SD website)

  • 3 Mile Shakeout Run guided by Meb Keflezighi
  • All participants will receive a pair of CEP Progressive+ Run Sock 2.0, the same socks Meb won the 2014 Boston Marathon in. which run $60
  • Post Run, light Brunch
  • Limited Edition Run With Meb Bib
  • Photo Opportunity with Meb
  • Run With Meb Gift signed by Meb Keflezighi
  • Guest appearances from other participating Elite Athletes

I told Pete that we were going to do this and he was a “little” concerned about it being a super fast shake-out run, but I assured him it would be for all levels, they weren’t going to just limit the event to super fast runners – LOL.

Saturday morning, we started out with a semi-light breakfast in the morning, well, light for me, just an egg sandwich and some potatoes, around 7a.  The event started at 9:30a and I knew I’d be starving if I waited until after the run to eat so I needed something.

After breakfast we headed over to the Hall of Champions and arrived around 9a.  There was already a line to get the limited edition Run with Meb bibs, so we lined up too.  All in all, I believe there were about 150 or so people there.

San Diego, Hall of Champions, Run with Meb, Shake out run, rock n roll marathon Run with Meb, race bib, San diego, Rock n Roll, Shake out run, california

We got measured for our CEP Progressive+ Run Socks, there are both mens & womens sizing and then there are 3 sizes and multiple colors.  I normally wear ProCompression when I wear compression socks during runs, but I do have a different pair of CEP compression socks too.  I found them super compressive so I typically only wear them when I’m in recovery.  Meb wore these when he raced and won the Boston Marathon so we got the same style in white.  This was an awesome gift since they retail for $60.

I tried these new Progressive+ Run Socks out and they are amazing, padded sole and don’t feel nearly as tight as the other style I have.  I especially like the padding on the sole.  I still love ProCompression and they are my go-to socks, but these have been nice since the bottoms of my feet have really been bothering me.

After that, we headed over to some tables that they had set up and Alan Culpepper, the director of the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon & Half Marathon, but also a super accomplished runner, himself, came up to introduce Meb and a few other elites that were there.  He ran in the 2000 & 2004 Olympics, the later with Meb, when he won the Silver medal.

They introduced the other elite runners, including Alan Webb, who holds the American record in the mile, 3:46:91!! That’s 3 minutes 46.91 seconds!! For one mile!  Also introduced were Jeffrey Eggleston, who placed 8th at the 2014 Boston Marathon.  Tyler McCandless, a Newton Running Elite (I love Newton Running Shoes!!), and Andy Wacker, all three of them have run a 1:03 half marathon and train in Boulder, CO.

And then came the main event! Meb coming up and talking to us for a few minutes.  Check out my video of Meb talking with us on YouTube.

http://youtu.be/FtXjF_gth1s

After this, we all headed out for the run.  By this time it was close to 10am and the sun was out, so we grabbed some water and headed out.

shake-out run, run with meb, san diego, rock n roll marathon, half marathon, california, runners Balboa Park, San Diego, Run with Meb, Shake-out Run, rock n roll marathon, half marathon

Silly mid run selfie
Silly mid run selfie

I tried to start out kind of slow, we were going to be racing the next day after all and I had a big goal in mind, so I didn’t want to overdo it. I forgot to start my Garmin, so I only ended up tracking 2.84 miles but those were at a 8:54 pace.  I was towards the front of the group, and actually was running with/near Tyler McCandless for a while, he was talking to another runner.  It was a fun run, and great talking to lot of other people, I even met 2 ladies who live in the Phoenix area and are training for the San Francisco Marathon too (I’m just doing the first half).

I high-fived Meb post run, he finished a few minutes ahead of me and then post run, I had to do some downward facing dog, my calves were so stiff, I was a little concerned but we only ran 3ish miles and it normally takes me a bit to get loosened up.

Post Run photo - i don't look like i'd even been running do I? This is why I love Lululemon!!
Post Run photo – i don’t look like i’d even been running do I? This is why I love Lululemon!!

I was waiting for Pete to come in before heading in for a light brunch.  I knew he would be a little bit behind me, but I saw Meb run back to go find the slower runners.

I saw Daniel, who introduced himself to me earlier, he recognized me from my instagram account, how exciting! Lol! It’s the little things, right?  He was with his sister and he was going to be running the marathon on Sunday, his second.  He had done NYC last year as well as his first.

It's pretty cool how you can meet amazing like minded people via social media.
It’s pretty cool how you can meet amazing like minded people via social media.

Soon after this Pete came in and was a bit hot, so we headed in to get some food.  They had a nice little buffet with yogurt, granola and 3 types of breakfast burritos.  It wasn’t anything super special but it was decent.  By the time we had gotten inside most of the tables were taken and they were just about to start with some Q&A with the other elite runners.

Meb ran in with the last of the runners and then got ready to start signing.  They lined everyone up by the number on your bib so obviously being numbers 96/97 we had a bit of a wait, especially since they were grouping everyone in groups of 20.  Eventually it got to the point where they had to speed things up, the first 20 or so people got a lot more time to chat with Meb and have more things signed than we did.  I ended up having my bib signed and then got a photo with him.  It was kind of rushed so I don’t think it’s the best photo, but you can tell I was excited. One with just me & Meb & then the other with Pete added in.

Me & Meb Me, Pete & Meb

My autographed bib :) This will be framed and added to my collection
My autographed bib 🙂 This will be framed and added to my collection

After this, there was still a long line of people behind us so we ended up heading out.  All in all it was a good event.  The only thing I think that would have been better would have been if Meb could have done a little Q&A with us as well, but there were a lot of people and only one of him :).

Have you ever done an organized shake-out run before a race?

 

The Road to Rome: Maratona di Roma: The Race

This post has been a long time coming, I should have written it a long time ago, but I have/had a lot of conflicting views on this race.

Last time I wrote about Italy, I had been to the expo and did a shake-out run with The Roman Guy. After the shakeout run, I had a really yummy lunch with Laura & then headed back to The Beehive to just chill out the rest of the afternoon/evening. I like to just veg out in my Pro Compression marathon socks and I always eat pizza the night before a race.

Margarita Pizza, Aqua Naturale & my fav purple Procompression socks - a prerace ritual
Margarita Pizza, Aqua Naturale & my fav purple Procompression socks – a prerace ritual

I didn’t have a TV in my room, so I just read some, surfed the internet & chilled before heading to bed. The race didn’t start until 9am so I didn’t have to be up too early, but I always like to be ready early & there early, just in case.

I was prepared for anything, it had been semi nice out my first 2 days in Rome, but the forecast was calling for rain. I was a little nervous about the rain, I’m not a fan of running in the rain to begin with but wet cobblestones made me a little anxious. I have run on cobblestones a lot, when I lived in Orlando, but Winter Park cobblestones & 2000 year old cobblestones are a little different.

I had an outfit picked out, a black Lululemon pace setter skirt, a teal cool racer back, long sleeve swiftly & my newton gravity shoes.  What I ended up wearing was all Lululemon, running capris, teal cool Racerback, purple long sleeve swiftly, white rain jacket, my cold weather running headband & my newtons.

Ready for anything
Ready for anything

I left the hotel around 6:45a and headed towards the train station to take the metro to the start line. The metro was free for all runners on the day of the race. It was pretty cool seeing all the other runners with their backpacks. Just a sea of red backpacks :).

At Termini, waiting for the metro. Free for runners on race day.
At Termini, waiting for the metro. Free for runners on race day.

The race had put up posts on Facebook telling us all to get off a Circus Maximus instead of the Colesseo stop, which was actually closer, but closed. From the metro stop it was about a 10 min walk to the starting area. It was drizzling a little at this point, I had my umbrella up, just so I didn’t get too wet before the race.

I got over near the Colesseo & took a few minutes to eat some bread with Justin’s peanut butter with honey. I filled my hydration belt bottles with pre-mixed Gatorade (the Gatorade there tasted different) & headed into the madness. There was a very small entrance that they were letting runners into the pre-race area. It was super congested & not the safest way of doing things in my opinion. It felt like with all the runners trying to get in, it could quickly become a mob.

Arriving at the colosseo before the race.
Arriving at the colosseo before the race.

Once I was inside, I went straight to the porta potties, which in my opinion was another disaster or rather poor planning, set up on the races part. There were about 20 porta potties each with a huge line, I waited in line for almost 45 minutes before I had to get out of line to drop off my bag. I saw a few signs directing us to the various bib numbers so I headed in the direction of my bib number, but I had forgotten that women were in a separate section, so after walking down a bit, I had to turn around & go thru the crush of runners all the way to the end, where they had the women’s baggage trucks. Burnt Toast moment #1.

Backpack for baggage drop
Backpack for baggage drop
My baggage drop truck, #58 - alllll the way at the end...
My baggage drop truck, #53 – alllll the way at the end…

I finally got there, dropped off my bag & then ran into 2 of the other runners from the shake-out run. We took a few photos & then I was off. I was supposed to be in Corral 3 but by the time I got up to the starting area it was too late. Burnt Toast moment #2

It was freezing and had been raining off and on by this point. I still had to go to the bathroom and was stuck in throng of runners. We finally were able to start moving towards the start & I was pleasantly surprised to see porta potties before the official start so I ducked in to one, did my thing and didn’t lose anytime on the clock – yea!!

I had a plan for the race from my coach, Mary, and while I really wanted sub 4 I didn’t think it was a realistic goal based on my training. I only had 12 weeks after being out for 2 months and I was running straight vs Galloway so I scaled back to a more realistic goal of 4:10..

The plan was this: (for a 4:10 marathon, the average pace needs to be 9:06 per mile or 5:55 per km)

first 5k-10k: get comfortable. Try to run a little slower (about 10 sec a mile) for this part, as to not go out to fast.
10k-20k: you might still be under goal pace here. Thats fine. Just make it closer to 5 sec slower a mile
20k-30k: Find goal pace now
30k-finish: Move a little faster than goal pace to make up the time. Since you started out slower, you should have the extra energy to push here.

This is what really happened: numbers wise but the numbers don’t tell the real story.

Distanza Pos. Pos. M/F Pos. Cat. Tempo RealTime Parziale min/Km
Via Ostiense (5K) 5000 9483 1194 9476 00:35:37 00:30:43 7.07
Via Ettore Rolli (10K) 10000 10499 1334 10492 01:05:59 01:01:05 00:30:21 6.35
Lungotevere dei Sangallo (15K) 15000 11211 1464 11203 01:37:44 01:32:50 00:31:44 6.30
Via della Giuliana (21.097K) 21097 11103 1477 11093 02:18:41 02:13:47 00:40:57 6.34
Piazza Lauro De Bosis (25K) 25000 12010 1711 12001 02:45:17 02:40:23 00:26:35 6.36
Viale della XVII Olimpiade (30K) 30000 12208 1813 12199 03:22:31 03:17:37 00:37:14 6.45
Piazza di Spagna (40K) 40000 11590 1711 11581 04:31:09 04:26:14 01:08:37 6.46
Via dei Fori Imperiali (FINISH) 42195 11573 1703 11563 04:47:08 04:42:14 00:15:59 6.48

 

First off, I knew that the race would be in kilometers, but I trained in miles, next time, I run in a foreign country, I’ll train in kilometers instead of miles so I have a better idea on my paces, etc.

The race started out fine, it was a bit slower than I would have liked, but it was pretty crowded.  I had read that the first & last 6 miles were cobblestone, but it was kinda intermittent between cobblestone & regular road, with a little bit of marble sidewalk thrown in :).

It was cold, to me, for about the first 6 miles and then it got incredibly humid. I had already taken my jacket off and it was around this point, which was actually I would come to find out, in my cousin, Elena’s neighborhood, near Marconi. I took off my long sleeve skirt here. I was really struggling & I ended up walking just a bit at this point when I took off my shirt. I tied both the skirt & jacket around my waist, the were Lululemon & kinda pricey so I didn’t want to toss them. Burnt toast moment #3, I should have taken the swiftly off before the race & just had the jacket, but too late now.

Of course right after this point, the rain would start in earnest & I was stuck in my tank top since my other tops were wet. It was around this point that things would go horribly wrong and I had a really bad asthma attack, that left me wheezing for about 2 miles – around miles 8 – 10.  I had my inhaler in my pouch, used it and tried to run as much as I could until it was over. Burnt Toast Moment #4

By this point, I probably could have called it a day & just quit, but I came all the way to Rome & I had put it out there on social media, so there was no quitting.  Even after 4 Burnt Toast moments.

I decided to just do my best to finish and I need up doing Galloway pretty much the rest of the race, running when I could and walking when I had to.  With torrential rain in parts, and not feeling very well, I got to St. Peter’s and took the only photos during the race. When I got back to AZ & showed this pic to my mom, she was like that is a horrible photo, which it is, but it really shows what I was going thru during this race.  I wasn’t even half-way thru the race and I felt like I had run 50 miles.

St. Peter's Basilica midrace selfie by St. Peters Looking back from St. Peters

After this point, I just kept trudging along, I was drinking lots of Gatorade – at least 1 cup sometimes 2 at each water stop, which were every 5k.  I thought the Gatorade tasted different, but it seemed to work although, I did have to take a pit stop around mile 19.  The aid stations were well stocked, with water, Gatorade (although they called them sale, or salts), cookies, fruit and maybe some other snacks too.  i was pretty bad about fuel during this race, i think i only ate a total of 2 honey stinger chews the whole race. Oops!

I remember getting to the area around the Spanish Steps & then Piazza Navona & being cheered on by some fellow Americans – thank you for that! before getting into the final stretch. Around 38km, I was walking and a fellow runner passed me and said “Forza!” Which was what I needed to hear right then. I managed to keep going, even passed him and was feeling pretty good, even after having been out there for over four hours.

Then we got to the last aid station which was inside a tunnel about a mile or so from the finish.  Here comes Burnt Toast moment #5 (I think, it’s getting hard to keep track, huh).  It was super slippery, I grabbed my cup of Gatorade and promptly almost went down.  I kept walking and almost fell over a 2nd time, and then a 3rd so after having made up some decent time, I had to walk thru this tunnel since it was so slippery.  I finally made it thru and I knew I was almost there.  I remember getting right in front of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and all of a sudden, I realized that there was a huge puddle right in front of me.  I remember looking down and seeing it, trying to move to the left and then next thing I knew, I was on my butt, my legs having fallen right out from under me with my hands on either side.  Now, I think it’s hysterical, but at the time, I was so ready for everything to be over, and I just sat there, finally this guy helped me up, but looking back now, if he hadn’t helped me, really, I have no idea how long I would have sat there.  And this was the big one, Burnt Toast moment #6.

When I went down, I hit my hand on the base of my palm, and when I got up, I couldn’t even open my hand up all the way, but I had a race to finish, so I picked myself up.  Oh and remember, I had my jacket & long sleeve swiftly around my waist? They were soaked, completely soaked since I had been sitting in a puddle at least 6 inches deep. So while I was in tears, I fixed my shirts and I managed to cross the finish line and get my medal.  When I got it, the girl was like don’t cry, and I told her I thought I might have broken my hand, oops.  Fortunately after about 10 minutes, the pain subsided a bit and it wasn’t so so bad.

One weird thing about Italy, you cannot find ice anywhere, here you finish a race and everyone is walking around with ice, there, I don’t think I saw one person who had any ice and come to think of it, I don’t think I saw any ice at all the entire time I was there.

So I finished the race, I was soaking wet, I had to walk all the way to the end to get my bag, at which point, I like everyone else, put my marathon space wrap around me and changed out of my wet clothes, right there on the sidewalk by the Colesseo.  There was a girl next to me from the Netherlands, who asked me to hold the wrap around her so she could change out of her sports bra, I wasn’t quite that brave 😉 but I did change out of my capris and put on dry pants.  I was done, and as one of my instagram friends said, even with all the craziness, I looked strangely content in this photo.

Post Race Medal Shot

Marathons are always a challenge, I was incredibly disappointed with my time but considering all the burnt toast moments and the fact that I only had 12 weeks to train, basically from scratch, I’m really happy with my accomplishment.  As my now coach said to me when I emailed him to tell him how I did, I could have quit after the asthma attack at mile 8 and the fact that I didn’t says a lot more about me than the number on the clock.

That being said, I do have big goals regarding the marathon, and I made the decision after this race, that I needed to achieve my goals in the half marathon before I could work on my marathon goals.  There will always be another marathon to run :).

Final thoughts on the Maratona di Roma…overall a well organized race.  I think that they need more porta potties and to make sure that women know that their baggage check is separate from the men.  It should have been labeled on the paperwork and with signs.  Obviously you can’t control the weather but running it in the rain was a definite challenge.

Have you ever had a race go so horribly wrong?  And what did you do? Did you quit or push thru?