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!

2017 San Diego Half Marathon Race Recap

Nothing like registering for a race the week of the race.  When Jenn tagged me in a photo that SD Half posted of me 1 week before the race, Sean & I discussed it, eventually we decided to go ahead and register for the half.

I really like the San Diego Half, which I ran for the first time last year, you can read my 2016 recap here.  The race starts by the convention center, takes you by the Harbor to Liberty Station, up the crazy Washington St Hill up in Mission Hills before taking us through Hillcrest, by Balboa Park (the start of RnR SD) and then down to the finish line by the Gaslamp sign.

The course is mostly flat until about mile 9 where you have hills for the next 2 miles before a nice downhill final 5k.

The race expo is on the Pier on Friday afternoon & most of the day Saturday.  Since Sean & I had some plans for Saturday, I drove downtown to pick up our packets on Friday after work.  You are able to pick up someone else’s packet with a signed release & a copy of their drivers license.

I was in and out in about 5 minutes with our bibs, shirts and bags.  One of the really cool things that SD Half does is a legacy program that isn’t just for the people who have run every year.  Running as few as 2 years in a row gets you legacy status.  We are at 2 years in a row so we got a race shirt with 2 stars on the sleeve.  I really like the gifts they have for years 4 & 5 so if we are able to, I’d really like to keep to our legacy up ;).

Sean & I went to the PCT for a nice run on Saturday, I had a fabulous run, which was so nice because I’ve really been struggling the last few weeks with not loving running and my mental state on the run.

We spent a little time taking photos and then headed back to SD.

We carbloaded at our fav new Italian restaurant, Cucina Basilico in La Mesa and then relaxed.

The only downside to the race being on this weekend is that the time change happens.  It’s always a bit stressful hoping that there aren’t any issues with your iPhone changing time.  The race sent a text reminding us to change our clocks, which was a nice surprise.

We got up around 5:00am and left around 5:40a getting downtown and finding an awesome spot on the street (free parking for the WIN!).  We walked down to the race start area, we saw Jenn & her friend, hit up the porta potties and then walked over to gear check.

Sean is still nursing his knee so he decided to start with me in Wave 3 instead of his normal Wave 1.  He always starts in the front so he doesn’t normally have to wait for the waves to go off and was like wow, it takes a while for the other waves to start, huh.  They started each wave about 5 minutes after the last one so we waited about 10-12 minutes to start.  It was super foggy at the start, a big change from last year’s race.

We finally got started, heading down towards the harbor, I felt really good, even with the really humid weather.  I was keeping up with Sean and ran straight until about mile 9 when the hills started.

We finally got up the Washington St hill which I ran/walked.  I took a minute to get down a Glukos gel, which was a good choice because I needed more calories.

Once we got up, we were in Mission Hills heading towards Hillcrest which is an area I run often at the #619Run club on Friday mornings.  We headed towards Balboa Park and into downtown.  I picked up the pace following Sean, the last 3 miles were ticking off. 9:01, 8:21 and then about a half a mile from the finish, my shoe came untied, oops, but I just kept moving.  We fortunately missed having to stop for the Coaster like I did last year.

I was running down the street, huffing and puffing, just trying to get to the finish line. I finished that last mile with a super fast 7:47 mile – who would have thought? I haven’t run that fast in a very very long time & never at the end of a half marathon!

So while this was not a PR time, it was my fastest half marathon since Nov 2014 when I set my current half PR.  Not too shabby considering my training hasn’t been for shorter distances lately.

After the race Sean & I got a few photos at the finish.

SD Half gives a great goodie bag of post run snacks and a nice medal.

Sean & I collected our gear, headed to Starbucks for a warm coffee just as the sun was coming out and then headed over to get breakfast at one of our fav brunch spots, Eclipse Chocolate.

They haven’t announced the date for 2018 yet, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the LA Marathon, I definitely plan to return & I’ll register earlier to save 😉 lol.

Griffith Park Trail 50k Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Griffith Park Trail Marathon – Wisdom Tree Loop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Shake-out Run

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: The San Francisco Marathon 2nd Half

This was my 3rd year running The San Francisco Marathon and Sean’s 5th time.  I have run the first half twice and if you’d like to read those recaps, they are here 2014 & 2015.

This year we weren’t going to run the race, but then in June, Sean asked me if I wanted to go, since this is our anniversary race and he’s done it so many times.  I agreed but we did end up paying a lot more than normal due to the lateness of our entry.  I paid $135 for the second half.  To put that into context, we signed up for the marathon at the expo this year and it was $110 with a $25 discount so we ended up paying $92 with the fee so it’s definitely better to register early for this race.

We flew up on Saturday morning, took a very long BART/bus ride to the city (they were doing construction on a station on the way to the city), got checked in and then immediately ran down to the expo at Fort Mason, which is where the expo has been the last few years.

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We got our bibs, shirts, Sean’s loyalty gift for running 5 years in a row, a travel mug, some snacks and wandered for a few minutes just to see what was there.

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Afterwards, we made our way to Fremont via the BART to see my sister and my brother-in-law David.  We got a bit more information about how David, who is fighting cancer, is doing.

Sidenote: If you have a few extra dollars, even just $5-$10 (the cost of approx. 1-2 days of Starbucks), please consider helping Sean & I raise money for the James Blake Foundation to run the NYC Marathon for David.  You can donate here.

David was in amazing spirits, he is so incredibly positive and has a huge will to live.  That being said, his condition has not improved a lot, the cancer in his leg is growing so fast that the many chemo treatments he has already received are only able to attack the new growth vs the original cancer.  It’s a very serious situation but he and my sister, Diane, are doing well considering.

After our visit, we headed back to the city, had a little dessert from world famous Ghiradelli’s.

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I got my Flat Jenny ready and headed to bed, it was going to be an early morning.  Sean’s race started at 5:30a, I wanted to go to the We Run Social meet-up and then needed to take a shuttle over to the 2nd half start.

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After seeing Sean start, I saw a few other friends and then headed over to the shuttles which were a few blocks from the marathon/first half start.

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There were a ton of school buses there to take us over.  I got in line to wait until 6am when they would start taking us over.  I think I got on the 2nd or 3rd bus.

The ride was actually pretty long, I think it was about 25 minutes until we got to the start line.  I was super tired so I was half asleep for most of the ride.

Once off the bus, I headed over to the starting area.  The 2nd half is much smaller than the first half/marathon.  I hit up the port-a-potties as soon as I arrived so I would miss the lines, then I checked out a few of the sites, there was a huge Dutch style windmill near some rose gardens, before heading up towards the gear check area to hang out for a bit before checking my bag.

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It was sooo cold.  I’m glad that I had my hoodie and track pants because I would have froze if not. As I was waiting, I ran into fellow BibRavePro, Bradley.  We, of course, got a photo. (photo courtesy of Bradley)

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I finally found out that the line I thought was for the port-a-potties was actually for the drop bags.  It was not well marked that you had to go to just one table to put your number on your bag and then you could drop your bag at your UPS truck.  Compared to the main start area, this was a bit of a mess.

I felt like the 2nd half start line was kind of an afterthought.  The girl who was the announcer seemed really nice, but was not the right fit for this event.  She wasn’t really very energetic and focused more on things that aren’t really important.  I was not impressed.

The race finally got its start at 7:30a and I was in wave 3 so I started at 7:45a. By that point it was starting to rain a little and I just wanted to get started.

Unfortunately for me, my legs didn’t feel great from the get-go.  I just tried to focus on being in the moment, listening to the end of my Daniel Silva audio book and run/walking the majority of the race.

This part of the course didn’t have the huge hill up near the Presidio like the first half, but it was a bit hillier than I was expecting.

I just did my best to keep moving through Golden Gate Park for the first 4 miles, hoping my legs would loosen up.  It was pretty, we ran around a lake, saw a pagoda, ran past the first half marathon finish line before heading into Haight Ashbury and through the city.  Obviously I didn’t see this photographer because I appear to be “in the zone” lol.

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Interestingly in the part of the course that was the least exciting, between 6 -9,  was the part of the course where they would periodically close the course to help with traffic flow.  They don’t do this in the first part of the course so I’d never seen it happen before.  At one point I was coming up just as they were closing the section so I saw it first hand.

Finally around mile 11 we headed towards the Embarcadero and around AT&T Park.  It would have been nice to go on the field, but alas, no go for that. 🙂

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We made our way down towards the finish line.  As we got closer to mile 13, I could feel that I was getting tired so I actually drank a Glukos gel in the last 1/2 mile.  I literally couldn’t move any faster, I could see all the people gaining on me and running past me but my legs were just not having it.

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I made it over the finish line in a not horrible 2:16 and I immediately saw Sean waiting for me :).  We went to get our medals and food.  Yet again, the actual race food sucks.  There were bottles of water, think thin bars, bananas and muscle milk drinks.  The only one of those 4 things that I like is the water.  It was pretty disappointing because I was really hungry.

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But that being said, after we got out of the race finish area, by the Ferry Building there were a ton of vendors giving out snacks.  We got 2 different types of greek yogurt, vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Lara bars, these amazing Coconut chips from Dang.  I’m not a fan of coconut normally, but these were amazing!

Since I had run the first half last year and then the second half this year, I earned a 2nd challenge medal, The Half of It All medal, which is pretty cool.  It has the Golden Gate Bridge on one side and the Painted Ladies from Haight Ashbury on the other.

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This race has soooo many challenges.  The Half of It All, California Dreamin’ (SF Marathon & Surf City), SF/Berkley, there is another challenge where if you run the 1st half, 2nd half and marathon in consecutive years you are part of the 52 club and you get a special hoodie.  I’ll earn one of these next year :).

This is an interesting race, because of the weather in San Francisco during the summer.  In the 3 years that I’ve run this race, it’s been pretty cloudy & humid during the actual race, it’s always cleared up afterwards but it can be pretty brutal during the actual race.

Now that I’ve run both halfs, I would say that the first half is definitely more exciting.  I mean a lot of the more iconic spots in SF are in the first half of the course.  It was pretty cool though going through Haight Ashbury & by AT&T park, you could see into the stadium when we got closer.

I still say, SF Marathon needs to step up the post-race food game, and I definitely think that they need to step up the announcing at both start lines, but especially the 2nd half.  But the free photos and a decent expo kind of even out the bad things.

Outside of those things, I think it’s a pretty good race.  I liked that they upped their game on the race medals this year.

Do you have any races you continue to run every year?

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.

Race Recap: Nanny Goat 12/24hr Race

Earlier this year I signed up to run my first 100k later this year and I was/am super excited, but a lot nervous since I had only done a few 50k races.  A 50k jump is a lot of miles to jump. I wanted and needed to do a 50 miler but we didn’t have a lot of options with Sean’s full 100/200 schedule this summer.

Last summer we did the Summer Solstice Run around Chrissy Field and I did the 6 hour race.  It was fun, but a 1 mile loop can get really monotonous really quick.  That was an actual loop course which made it really easy, however the weather was unpredictable as you made your way around the loop.  Super windy & cold on one side and hot on the other.

So when we looked at the available races and saw Nanny Goat, my first thought was, another loop course?  But then as I looked at our other options and more importantly time limits on those races, Nanny Goat looked better and better.

So we both signed up for the 24 hour race.  It was the same price for both so I figured the 24 hour race would give me a better option to get my 50 miles in.

I was in Vegas for work most of the week before the race so I wasn’t able to do my normal pre-race hydration routine.  I did get a few juices, Chia Kombucha and bottles of water down so I felt relatively hydrated.

We drove up to Riverside on Friday evening, fortunately and surprisingly the traffic was really light.  Since it was the holiday weekend, I’m guessing a lot of people took the day off because the only minor traffic we hit was near Temecula which is really odd for a Friday heading up towards LA.

We checked into our hotel and got some dinner from a cute little pizza place in downtown. Yum, yum!

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Once we got back, we got out all of our gear, set all our devices up to charge before getting some sleep.  I did my Flat Jenny at home so I could make sure I had everything so I was all set gear wise.

Flat Jenny, Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

A few nice things about this race.

#1 – It didn’t start until 8am so we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to be there.  We slept in until probably 6:15/6:30a.

#2 – We were only 15 minutes away from the race and while it was big compared to the Summer Solstice Race, there was no traffic so we didn’t have to leave early to avoid that.  We got there probably around 7:20am and found a spot in the main lot.

#3 – Since it’s such a long race, we set up our gear near the main aid station with a chair, a full cooler and bags full of extra clothes, battery packs, etc.

They require a signed USATF release before you get your bib so we filled those out and then the lovely Jean Ho, who would cheer us on each lap, gave us our bibs. 93 for me and 94 for Sean.

We also got lots of race swag, a logo’d beer stein, a koozie, a goat key chain and a cotton shirt.  I got a tank in size small (it fits perfectly) and Sean got a T-Shirt.

Once we checked in, we hit up the port-a-potties and then next thing you knew they were yelling at us to go into The Goat Pen for the start of the race.  I didn’t even have time to fill my bottle or grab my headphones but I knew I’d have time later to get everything in order.

Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

The forecast was for sun and about 82 degrees, but it was cloudy and much cooler when we started and stayed that way until about 2.5 hours into the race and then it was like someone hit a switch and the sun was out.

I took it very easy going 5.5 miles for each of the first 2 hours and then when the sun came out I started walking certain parts of the course.  This was an interesting loop in that it wasn’t a real loop.  You would start out down a nice super flat & well maintained shaded trail section, then turn right to a road/sandy trail until you got to the end where you would make a sharp left turn around a cone with a smiling skull on top.  After making the turn you would go back down the road or sandy side until you crossed the part where the loop began, then there was a dirt trail on the left side.  Another left turn would put you through the orange groves and then on to the grass, which is where you really had to watch because of the pitted gopher holes that were hard to see.  Another left turn left you in shade (pretty much the whole race) and on a section of grass & roots.  Once you got past this section you would turn left again and then onto a road/gravel path past some horses in stalls and then into the barn. And there you have it, the loop in a nutshell.

At the StartThank you to Andy Noise for the on course photos.

I put on my headphones, my Orange Mud Hydra Quiver VP1 and settled in to listen to a book on tape.  For the majority of the race I listened using my Aftershokz.

I found I was able to settle into a nice rhythm and just kept it moving.  After the first 5 miles or so I stopped and filled my bottle and put on my Orange Mud VP1. I would drink a lot in the first 10 – 15 miles.  I remember telling my fellow Altra Ambassador Sharon that I was so thirsty.  During this time, the first 2.5 hours it was quite cloudy and overcast.

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Around 10:30ish the sun came out and boy did it get hot!  I started eating a lot during this time, I would stop at the aid station tables and get watermelon & orange slices.  I kept refilling my bottle with more water.  Eventually they would start handing out Popsicles. I think I had about 4 of them over the course of the day.

Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

I had a little routine down, run in certain spots, walk in others and it was working.  Every few miles I would walk a loop or two and then start running again.  Eventually my feet really started to hurt.  I felt like I was getting blisters under on the ball of my feet or like there was a lot of dirt/rocks under that part of my foot.

I was able to use my Carbo Pro/Ultima combo for the majority of the race with a few cups of water.  Eventually though, in the last 10 miles, I had a hard time drinking anymore so I know I wasn’t getting nearly enough calories.  The nutrition aspect of ultras is still a work in progress for me.

Also during those last 10 miles I stopped a few times to empty my shoes and generally slowed down. But kept the goal of 50 miles and a 12 hour finish in view.  The last 2-3 miles I was starting to get cold, I think it was the lack of calories starting to affect me.

And in the end, I finished my race with 50 miles in 12 hours and 6 minutes.

Finish, 50 miler, Nanny Goat, 12 hour race, 24 hour race, trail running, ultra running

After which I stopped, changed my clothes & shoes, ate a little bit and kept adding on more and more layers.  I seriously could not get warm.

Eventually I was at our set-up at the same time Sean came through to refill his bottles.  He congratulated me and took my photo before heading back out to finish his race.

Sean would eventually win the 100 mile race finishing in 18:54, a 3h 20min PR.  I was so proud of him!  He finished 100 miles 1h 40min faster than the 2nd place person!

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this race.  It was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again and go for 100 miles.

If you’ve never done an ultra, this is a great way to do it because you are never more than a mile from an aid station and you will always have people to talk to.

Race Recap: La Jolla Half Marathon

To finish up our month of racing, we stayed local and ran the La Jolla half marathon. Sean had run it a few years back but this was my first time.

Sean & I went to the expo on Saturday afternoon.  They had the expo at the Hilton Del Mar near the race track where the race would start.  There was a free dirt parking lot where we would park both days or you could pay $3 to self park at the hotel.

We walked into the expo and WOW it was crowded, I seriously felt claustrophobic as soon as I walked inside.  You had to go to the left to pick up your bib and then all the way to the right to get your bag & shirt.

The shirts, well, they were nice, I just wish they had done the same color for everyone vs. yellow for the ladies and blue for the guys.  I am not a big fan of yellow but it wasn’t a bad shirt overall.

The expo, well it was crowded and claustrophobic but we did get some Ultima on discount and we also picked up a tens unit which we’ve both been using and it seems to be working.

We got some dinner, got our stuff out and then relaxed.  The race didn’t start until 7:30am but we had to drive about 40 minutes so we still got up around 5:30a.

Flat Jenny, La Jolla Half Marathon, Procompression, the orange mud, altra running, ultima, garmin, xx2i, aftershokz, lululemon

Now this race is not easy to get to and you can sit in traffic on the highway forever.  We managed to get there relatively easily and then got parked and headed to the start area.

There were a ton of port a potties so the lines went really quick so we could get to the start area.  We didn’t bring a drop bag, but they were handing out plastic bags to put your gear in and they had different lines for the various corrals to separate them. No UPS trucks or anything like that for this race.

Sean was in corral 1 and I was in Corral 4 so we took a few pre-race photos before heading to our corrals.

La Jolla, Half Marathon, start line

It was a very uneventful start, I started out nice & easy because I knew there were a lot of hills coming.  Once we made the turn up the first hill, I felt really hot and I remember thinking that they definitely should have started this race way earlier.

I just kept chugging along, power hiking up some of the hills and then running the minimal downhills and flats.  We had an awesome down hill in mile 5 before we hit the big hill up Torrey Pines.  It was definitely brutal and I have to say everyone around me was hiking up the hill.

I finally made it up and then did a lot of run/walking the rest of the race.  I swear the hills were never ending.  We finally got a bit of a down hill only to get a steep hill up in the last mile. Seriously!? I was not happy, lol, I’m joking but there were a lot of hills in this race.  But at least this time unlike the last few hills, we had a nice downhill to the finish.

As we ran down to the finish line, I remember the distinct odor of dead fish, which was disgusting, but fortunately I was able to get past that part pretty quickly.  And then we hit the grass and the finish line!

I was so happy to finish this race, I kept thinking that this was a one and done race and at the time I never wanted to run it again.  Well I might have to do it at least one more time if I want to try for the Triple Crown that includes Carlsbad, La Jolla & America’s Finest City.  We didn’t run Carlsbad this year so we don’t qualify but one year maybe we will do all 3 races.

Race Medal, La Jolla Half Marathon, Race Bling, Medal Monday

After finishing they handed us our medal, a bottle of water, a paper bag with snacks and then there was cold chocolate milk, which I drank as soon as I met up with Sean.  They had nice snacks too, there were Food Should Taste Good sweet potato & multigrain chips, Go Macro bars (my fav!), Lara bars & a banana.  I will say though, while nice to have a bag with our goodies, the paper bag broke and got soggy since I was drenched.

La Jolla Half Marathon, Post Race Food, Food should taste good, go macro, lara bar, think thin, nature's bakery

We walked around the post race expo, there were a lot of booths.  We got free Nature’s Bakery fig bars, which are super yummy, some beef jerky, mini Sambazon Acai samples before taking a few photos.

As we were taking our own photos, this photographer, Rich Cruse, who was taking photos for the race, asked us if he could take our photo and we were like sure.  So he got this awesome shot of us.

La Jolla, Half Marathon, Race Bling, Medal Monday

After photos we headed over to the shuttles to get back to the start. They had nice buses, thank goodness because it took almost an hour to get back or so it seemed.

And so there you have it, that’s the La Jolla Half Marathon in a nut shell.  It’s a beautiful, very hilly course.

Race Recap: San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

I’m really bad about getting these recaps up in a timely fashion, but sometimes it takes me a bit to process what happened and then of course, life happens, work events typically follow race weekends and since this race, I’ve been off due to my small sugar addiction taking over.  But now all is semi-back to normal and **SPOILER ALERT** I’m so excited to say that I FINALLY at Rock n Roll San Diego, my 18th half marathon ran a sub 2 hour race!

So I ran this race back in 2012 and had a horrible experience, it was seriously the worse race I’ve ever done in my life, mostly on the highway with this horrible slanted road from the ramps.  After this race, I pretty much swore there was no way I was running this race again.  They asked for feedback after the race and apparently a lot of other runners felt the same way so in 2013, they changed the course.  While on the shake-out run on Saturday, I heard that they changed it again this year, but since I didn’t run in 2013 I’m not sure.  All I know is that this year I really enjoyed the course.

Pete & I walked to the start line from our hotel which was right next to the Expo so probably about 2 miles.  I was cold when I left and I like to check a bag, when I can, so I have something to change into after the race, which I learned in Rome, can be essential.  By the time we got to the starting area I was pretty warm so I dropped off my bag immediately.  I love when they have the UPS trucks for the bags, it’s always so organized.

I let my friend Rhea know we were there and we were going to head up to see the marathon start, but after the last race when I didn’t make it to the Port-a-Potties prior to the race, I decided to take care of that first then meet up with her.  The lines were crazy long so I ended up not being able to see the marathon start.  They were pretty strict about not letting stragglers on the marathon course after the last corral left and kept making announcements about marathoners having to start now.  Marathoners started at 6:15a and the half started at 6:45a.

Not so nervous this time around - laughing & relaxed :)
Not so nervous this time around – laughing & relaxed 🙂

Finally I headed up to the start line to meet up with Rhea, aka – Ms. Speedy – lol, who was up in corral 1. She was going to try and run with Meb (he was pacing the 1:30 Pace Group).  Pete didn’t want to come with me so I wished him well and left him at corral 12.  We’ve run a lot of the same races, but I don’t typically run with anyone specific in a race situation.

Start Line & a bunch of Elvis's
Start Line & an Elvis convention?

Rhea & I Pre-Race

After a few pics, I headed back to my corral to get ready for the start.  I ate a Vanilla Honey Stinger Waffle, which ended up being the only thing I ate before or during the race, and made my way to corral 10.

After about 10 minutes we were off…

San Diego, Rock n Roll, Half Marathon, Jun 1, Corral 10
The start line from Corral 10

I was feeling pretty good, although I knew I was a little dehydrated, but at that point it is what it is and I had drunk a ton of water the day before.

Now I don’t normally have a plan as to how to run, I just run.  This time though, my coach told me to go super slow the first 3 miles, then from 4 – 10 run at goal pace and then if I still had some energy kick it up a notch the last 3.1.

Miles 1 – 3 (9:09, 9:36, 9:23) I didn’t quite get the slow memo for mile 1 but that’s actually a lot better than it could have been :).  I had a lot of tightness in my calves during these miles, but I just took it as my body getting acclimated.

Mile 4 (9:19) what I thought was going to turn into a Burnt Toast moment, the bottom of my left foot fell asleep and literally ever step I took I could feel the pins and needles – that was a first.  I had on new lululemon socks, that I bought the day before, so I was wondering if that was the problem, although I wear the same style all the time so I didn’t think that was the issue.  Needless to say I continued running, but kept thinking I might have to fix my sock.

Miles 5 – 8 (9:10, 8:51, 8:54, 8:46) The pins & needles feeling went away and then I was feeling pretty good & getting faster

Mile 9 (9:08) I slowed down a bit in mile 9 to walk thru a water stop.  I had a cramp in my lower right abdomen that was giving me a bit of trouble, I actually had a lot of trouble drinking anything during this race because every time I took a sip (I was drinking gatorade & had my belt on) I would get a cramp.

Mile 10 (8:51) At this point, we were well into the downhill although the sun was up now and the heat was starting to increase.  I was at about 1:30 or so and was telling myself I only had 3.1 to go – and 30 mins – all I needed to do was three 9:50 min miles and I’d hit my goal.

Mile 11 (9:04) I had to stop here again for a few seconds and walk.  Literally the cramp was so painful and I wasn’t able to breath thru it. I still have no idea what it came from. But I saw & then passed, Doctor Dribble, a running “celebrity” from Miami who dribbles 2 basketballs thru the entire race.

Dr. Dribble, Rock n Roll, San Diego, Half Marathon

Mile 12 – 13 (8:56, 8:27, last .16 (Garmin was a bit long) 6:26) By this point I was almost to the home stretch.  It was so nice to be going more down hill, and there were some Team in Training coaches that were on the side of the road saying things like, drop your shoulders, relax your forehead, unclench your jaw, etc.  I didn’t realize how tense I was until I followed that advice.  I was feeling good and speeding up and once I got to the final stretch and could see the finish, which was a relatively steep downhill, I totally kicked it in and sprinted down passing a few people on the way.  I lost one of my water bottles (it just bounced out) about 20 feet from the finish.  I finished, remembered to stop my Garmin and seriously thought I was going to be sick.

There was a really nice volunteer at the finish who asked me if I was going to be ok, to which I responded, I think I’m going to be sick and since the med tent was right there, they had me sit down for a few minutes and gave me a bottle of Gatorade.  I just pushed it a bit too much at the end but once I got some electrolytes in me I felt a lot better.

When I looked down and finally saw what my Garmin said, 1:53:33 I was incredibly happy because I didn’t just squeak by with a 1:59:59 but I was 1 min 29 sec under!!  This was over a 7 minute PR from my previous PR from the Phoenix Marathon Half in March. Read about that here.  I was also incredibly proud of doing negative splits.  My coach had a lot of negative split runs on my schedule and I’m happy to say that they paid off :).

Race RecapRace Medal

One thing about Rock n Roll series races, they have a lot of food after the race to refuel.  I got a banana, a bag of snack mix, another bottle of Gatorade, a carton of chocolate milk, a power bar recovery bar and a bottle of water.  I was seriously dehydrated and I drank both bottles of Gatorade, the chocolate milk and about 1/2 the water by the time Pete finished.  I only ate the banana.

I found Rhea after the race, she was so sweet to wait about a 1/2 hour for me to come in. We took a few pics and then she had to head to a baby shower so I went to get my bag and wait for Pete.

Post Race with Rhea

I’m really glad I had some clothes because there was about 94% humidity (according to my Garmin) and I was totally soaked.  While waiting for Pete, I ended up changing completely to be more comfortable.  I totally recommend bringing at least a new shirt to change into after a race.

Post race selfie
Post race selfie – so excited!!

I was starving by the time Pete finished and he didn’t have the best of races so we ended up skipping the post race concert, which I would have liked to see, Aloe Blacc, but we were going to have to drive back to Phoenix after lunch and really in the end, food and doing my normal bath routine after the race was more important than a concert at this point.

Now most people prefer an ice bath after a race, but I’m weird and I’ve found that heat actually works 1000% better for me so we headed to the hot tub so we could get a bit of sun and relax before lunch. We met a really sweet girl from Lake Havasu who had just finished her first half and couple of other runners.  Love the running community it’s really a great group of people just supporting each other.

A little hot tub action after the race
A little hot tub action after the race

And now to eat…recap on my post race eats coming soon!

What is your half PR? And where did you run it?