Revel Big Bear Half Marathon – Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Revel Mount Hood Race Recap

With all the travel this past month or so, I’ve really gotten behind on my race recaps.  This one is a big one though so better late than never.

I don’t think I ever recapped my Revel Mount Charleston race back in April, but even though I crashed & burned at that race, it was a turning point for me.  I hit the halfway point in a PR time of 1:51 (7ish minutes faster than my official half marathon PR) and was soooo excited.  I quickly found out that my body wasn’t really prepared for all those fast miles & my hips & calves pretty much shut down, culminating in me laying on the ground screaming at mile 22 with the worst calf cramps I’ve ever had before.

That being said, I was hungry for more.  I wanted to see what I could do!  Could I actually BQ?  I had thought that was a pipe dream, I was 40+ minutes off my BQ time & you pretty much need to go at least 5 minutes faster to actually get in, that’s a huge jump, but maybe with some training, I could do it!

I bought a book, Run Faster, Run Less or something like that fully intending to do a crash course training plan after Nanny Goat. Unfortunately, Nanny Goat set me back a bit further than I would have liked & with all the travel we had for June didn’t help either.  My mileage in June was one of my lowest mileage months for the year.

I finished up June with Black Mountain 25k & then we ran the Crown City Classic 12k on July 4 which was a pretty good & speedy race for me. Then I kind of just did maintenance runs here and there with some climbing days on our treadmill when I was home and it wasn’t a billion degrees in our house, lol.

I got off the waitlist for TRT 55k so I added that into my schedule the week before this race.  I had a good race at TRT, followed it up with a nice 7 mile hike/run with Sean on the Tunnel Creek trail & then didn’t run the rest of the week, until Friday when Sean & I did our shake-out run in Portland.

The expo for this race was held at the convention center, it was pretty low-key, like most Revel expos are.

The only thing that was really unique in this race was that for the marathon there were waves that were 15 minutes apart.  Ok, so waves aren’t that unique, but in this instance, they weren’t based off time, they were based off how early you registered.  So because we waited until June to register we had to choose wave 3 at registration.  I emailed and was able to get us moved up to wave 2, but Sean was trying to go for a better BQ & the pacers were in the first wave.  We were able to convince the timing guy to allow Sean into wave 1 fortunately.

I totally get that they were trying to reward those who registered early & they kept saying it’s only 200 people per wave so it’ll be open & not much congestion in the waves.  That’s fine, but I found it very odd to not allow the fast people to be in the front like is the case in most races.

In any case, we got our packets, chatted with Christy from Running Skirts, she told us about this amazing shave ice place, which coincidentally has a location in San Diego too! and we talked to the Altra rep for a bit too.

Since Revel buses everyone to the start & wave 1 started at 5:15am, we needed to get up really early again.  We had a super yummy dinner at Prasad in downtown Portland, followed it up with a second shave ice and then headed back to our hotel.

We got our gear out, including drop bags with a change of clothes & warm gear for the morning at the peak, set our alarms and were in bed by 8am.

The alarm clock rang really early! But we were up, dressed & ready to go by 2:30ish.  It took about 30 minutes to drive to the high school where we would catch the buses.  The wave 1 buses were leaving at 3:15am sharp and the lady who was in charge was pretty cut-throat.  No seat was left unused & I’m glad we got on without her seeing my bib because I feel like I would have been kicked off since I was wave 2. LOL.

I rested a bit during the ride up the mountain and when we got off the bus, we were told that they didn’t have a sound system, the lodge was booked, but by other people so they couldn’t have sound.  They did the pre-race announcements on the bus and then we were able to mill about until the start.

Sean & I hit up the port-a-potties (no lines because we were the 2nd bus there), saw a few other Altra Red Team members & said Hi.  We chatted for a short bit and then it was time for Sean to get ready for his wave.  Since there were only about 800 people (if that) in the race it wasn’t super crowded at the start.

I wished Sean good luck, he was going for a better BQ to ensure he got in for next year. Then hit up the bathroom again before dropping my gear bag.  It was a little chilly at the start so I was glad to have my sweatshirt, jacket & track pants.

They walked us down the mountain to the start line, it was pretty low key with no one really wanting to be by the start, I really had no idea how this was going to go, but once we started, I decided to stay with the 3:45 pacer.  At Mount Charleston, I started out way too fast and paid for it so I figured I’d try to stick with the 3:45 guy for as long as I could.

He was with another guy who seemed to be a friend, they were chatting the whole time.  As a pacer, he wasn’t great, he never asked if any of us around him were running with him, etc. I stuck with them until they dropped off at mile 5 to chat with some friends that were cheering.

At this point we were on Hwy 26, which I remembered from our last trip to Mount Hood a few years back.  We ran past Government Camp and just steadily moved towards the finish.  I started running a bit too fast, I told myself to just settle in and keep moving.  Eventually I was able to do just that.

My calves were starting to tighten up a bit around mile 6, I wasn’t sure if that was a sign of things to come or just a normal ache.  Around mile 10ish, the inside of my ankle started to hurt, I told myself, just get to the halfway point.  I got to the half marathon in 1:45:30, which was 6 minutes faster than Mt Charleston!!  I was feeling pretty good, relatively speaking.

I was running pretty consistent splits at this point: 8:06, 8:07, 8:05, 8:19, 8:00, 8:03, 8:06, 7:58, 8:08, 7:41, 8:05, 8:08, 8:03.

I told myself to just keep moving, I settled in again and just kept the momentum.  I was passing people, wondering if they would pass me again later, but just trying to keep moving.

The weather was absolutely perfect! It felt cool for most of the race & we were in the shade as well.  I was soaked in sweat but I felt nice and cool until about mile 22/23.

This race is unique in that the marathon runs a separate race from the half until the last 3 miles.  We basically run from the base of Mount Hood down to Hwy 26, turn right and then run on the side of the road down Hwy 26 to the fish hatchery.

I had to stop to get rocks out of my shoes once around mile 20 I think, it was driving me crazy.  The 3:45 pacer passed me around mile 22, he was gone & I never saw him again, he had to have finished few minutes ahead of me (under 3:45).

Around mile 24/25 there were a few smallish hills that I ran/walked.  I didn’t really look at my watch too much during the race, but towards the end, I was really doing a lot of calculations in my head.  I was thinking, could I do it?  Could I really BQ?  I knew it would be close and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t be under enough to actually get to run in 2019.  But could I do it?

I knew I was going to PR, but I still wanted to try for the BQ.  I was finally at the turn to get to the finish.  I was .3 miles over and I was hoping I was wrong and that I’d get those .3 miles back, wishful thinking lol.  I was moving as fast as I could, where was the finish line???  My calves were starting to cramp and then I saw my friend Paul with his go-pro out.  I said Hi & he took a few photos of me as I made my way to the finish.  He got this photo of me checking my watch, so close!

I made the final turn & I could see the finish line! Working hard to get there as fast as I could!

I was over 3:45 but I did it! I ran a 40 minute PR and came sooooo close to a BQ.  And without any specific speed training!  I was in shock as they said my name.  I was so happy, but I couldn’t believe it, where in the world had that come from!

Second half splits: 8:02, 8:06, 8:21, 8:36, 8:49, 8:36, 9:32, 9:01, 8:39, 9:38, 9:17, 10:02, 9:17, 8:19 (.56)

I saw my friend Helen, asked her how her race went, she BQ’d, Yay! I told her I got a huge PR and she was a little shocked, lol.  I then tried to find Sean.  I couldn’t find him so I grabbed a bottle of water & a banana before going to the gear check.

They couldn’t find my bag, so I asked about Sean’s and they said no, so I knew he grabbed them.  I ran into one of my Altra teammates, chatted with him for a few minutes and then had to keep moving.  My calves were so tight.  I walked backed towards the finish line and finally saw Sean.  I was like 40 Freaking minute PR baby!

He was super happy for me!  We got a few photos before I had to get changed.  I was soaked & my calves were seriously cramping.  It took me about 10 minutes to change, lol.

We finished up, grabbed a piece of pizza, Papa John’s was there, we just took the cheese off and ate the crust lol, got a coke and then got in line for the buses back to the high school where we left our cars.

Again, like at the Yosemite Half, the buses were a huge problem.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes before a few buses showed up.  The lady said that they finally were in sync and had 3 buses coming at a time to get more people transported back at a time.

Overall though, I would definitely recommend this race! It was beautiful, fast, downhill, shaded, great weather, good swag (nice tech shirt & great medal) and super fun.

Now to decide on the next marathon & get that BQ!

March Run All the Races: Carlsbad 5000

And here we are, the last of our 5 races in March.  The shortest & the fastest, the Carlsbad 5000.

It’s been a few years since we ran this one, we ran back in 2016, last year we just came over to see some friends and watch the elites.

We don’t run a lot of 5ks, mostly because they are so expensive for only 3.1 miles.  This year, I believe we registered on National Running Day for about $25, which is a lot more reasonable than the $50 they charge if you wait until a month or so before the race.

Carlsbad 5000 is unique in that they have different races for different age groups.  They have Masters Men, Masters Women, 30 – 39 and then 20 – 29 and walkers.  There are also men & women’s elite races too.

This year I was in a new age group, Masters Women so my race time was 7:55a.  Sean was in the next group, 30 – 39 at 9:15a.  I really wanted to run in my own age group so I made him get up early to drive up to Carlsbad around 6:15am.  It takes approx. 45 minutes to get to Carlsbad & then you have to find parking, etc.

We were running a touch late so Sean dropped me off near the finish.  I left my bag with him but still had on my track pants and sweatshirt.  I found the race bibs, note that they are not next to the shirts, but instead near the start line.

I got my bib, used the bathroom and then waited for Sean.  I ran into Mick, from #Run619, we chatted for a bit and then I found Smitha & Kristina.  We got a few photos, saw a few other friends and then Sean got there so I could give him my clothes.

My goal was to try and PR.  My previous official 5k PR was 26:45 and I knew I could beat that. By how much would remain to be seen.  I always start out way too fast in 5ks.  You would think I would learn but most likely since I run approx. one 5k every two years, I always forget, lol.

Anyways, Kristina & I were going to start together and see what happened.  Neither of us had any idea what our bodies were capable of at that point.

The tough part about this race is that they just line everyone up together, it’s an honor start so you just pick a mile pace and then line up.  I spent a good portion of the first quarter mile weaving in and out of other runners.

I finally settled in and just was giving it all I had.  I made the first turn and was just trying to keep my breathing even.  Smitha yelled out to me & I waved back.  All I kept thinking is my new mantra, I believe in you, I can do this and just kept chugging along.

We made the last turn & I remember looking at my watch, I could do an 11 minute mile and still PR, of course I didn’t want to slow down that much, but I struggled that last mile.  Just get to the Carlsbad sign & then you’re in the home stretch I kept thinking.

Finally I made it to the Carlsbad sign & made the turn towards to the finish.  I saw a photographer over by the rail road tracks, I tried to smile but I was breathing too hard.

By the time I saw Sean, I was giving it all I had to get to that finish line.  And there it was!  I crossed the line in an unofficial 24:55! a PR by almost 1m50s!

And then Kristina was just a few seconds behind me, having run a much smarter, negative split race.

We caught our breath, got some water and some photos.  A few of our friends came up so we got more photos and then it was time for me to get changed so we could wait for Sean to start.

Sean had a fantastic race, he finished in a blazing 20:32, pretty amazing considering he has been nursing a foot injury and not doing much in the way of speed work.

We got some coffee & then went to watch the elites.  Interestingly, they started in the same spot as us this year, after doing a different loop course for the last few years.  Doing the same course as us, isn’t quite as exciting for the fans because you don’t get to see them as often.

I felt like we had an interesting mix this year.  Both the fields were very small, under 10 people in each race and there were no Africans in either race. I’m not sure if they were running other events or if they changed how the elite program worked now that Ironman bought Rock ‘n Roll but it was interesting & somehow not quite as exciting.

While 5ks aren’t really on our radar often, it is fun to do one every now and again to test yourself.  Seeing as I’ve now gone under 25 minutes, I’d really like to try and see what I could do if I really put my mind to it.

We hit up one of our favorite vegan restaurants, Trilogy in La Jolla, to fuel up after the race & had a great day!  It’s funny, after all the longer runs, it felt weird to not be tired & sore after the race, lol.