A week ago today, I qualified for Boston Marathon. Seven months ago, almost to the day, I lost my friend Rudy. I wanted to do something special to honor his memory and running the marathon again would be it. I know it isn’t true, but it feels as more and more time passes, our dear friend Rudy is mentioned less and less. Like I said, I know it’s not true, but it bothers me. Life goes on. Things get easier with time. Blah, blah, blah.
I remember how excited he was for his friends that were qualifying or running Boston Marathon. So much so, that I left my only Boston Marathon medal with him at his service. To me it wasn’t a big deal to let it go, and to be quite honest, I’ve never had an interest in running it again — until two months ago when I made this decision.
I was a little dramatic when coming to that decision because there was only one Boston qualifying race left in Oregon which was 9 days before I could register: What if I cannot qualify? It had been three years since I ran my last marathon. What if I can no longer run fast? What if my hip starts hurting again? My coach, Andy Noise helped me realize that I only needed to qualify and that I didn’t have to commit to a sub-3 or anything near it. Just qualify and worry about running fast in Boston next year. (more…)
Since the first day of last year, I knew my ‘A’ race would be the North Face 50 (SF) in December. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t imagine myself somewhere in the Headlands, imagining how good it was going to hurt. Every tough workout, every time my legs screamed and my lungs burned, every time I climbed the 2-mile Wellbarn fire road climb at the end of a killer trail run, I would pretend it was THAT race. I sacrificed a lot of local racing throughout the year to avoid burnout for this end of the year race. I had high hopes. I was confident. And I believed I had it in me to battle the whole way. I didn’t.
My race was cut short at mile 28 when I decided to drop. My body was fighting me for last 8 miles. My quads, hammies and back were cramping. I knew I was doing the right thing when I called it. It hurt, but I needed to be smart. Today, as I sat in a cafe talking to a friend, she asked me what my true running goals were. Like did I have something major I wanted to accomplish? The answer for me was simple, and it really confirmed that I did do the right thing. My answer: I just want to be able to run. There is no doubt that I am a competitor and that I will continue to compete, but that is just a bonus to huge blessing already bestowed upon me.
That day in the headlands was a big reflection of my personal life and struggles. I needed to let go. I needed to be realistic and stop trying to fix things or hang on to things that were broken. Things that I thought were so important to me. Things that I thought I needed. Things that couldn’t heal themselves with more time, more talks or miles. This race outcome was the closure that I needed to start a fresh new chapter of my life. It felt really good. I feel really good. I feel hopeful, happy and refreshed for a beautiful new year filled with new opportunities and experiences.
Here was my immediate Facebook post after my race:
I dropped at 28. At mile 19 I stopped to stretch quad and my hamstring cramped too. Then it was my back. I was strong until that point and took a break at 28 then stated again, but I had to stop. Then I tried again and stopped. I walked back to the aid, visibly upset, but it was the best decision for me. Not happy, but there was no way I could run downhill for five miles and that is when I decided to call it. Omg I hope you never experience hamstring cramps – nearly made me scream like a girl. I literally saw all of your faces during that moment of me needing to drop – I had to do it, and hated having to relay this message about the drop. This is what makes ultras unique – anything can happen even when you feel you you are complete ready. Thanks for all the well wishes and support – it means a lot to me.
“Roll, won’t you come roll with me, slow, fast, full speed…”
These were the lyrics I played over and over on my shuffle and in my head for the last 8 miles or so and in review they fit so perfectly well with the rhythm of my race, or at least that’s how I thought it played out – my splits could say otherwise.
I can honestly say I am proud of myself for this performance – it has been a trying past few months, but somehow I managed to keep it together. Today I ran smart – not too fast, but good enough to enjoy this incredibly beautiful and challenging course AND take the top third spot and F1. The course was gorgeous, the aid was perfect and I got really teary-eyed near the finish because I have the privilege to run and race with such good friends. So proud of everyone today, definitely a special day! 8:26:35.
Two weeks ago today, I was on a 50-mile journey, running all around the headlands, climbing some pretty brutal trails giving witness to some of the most gorgeous views in that area. I reflect back and I swear I feel something tingle inside me and I am overjoyed – not because I took home the W, but because I can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of something so wonderful and fulfilling. I feel whole running my heart out and it’s easy for me to understand that I need it. Anyway, back to the race…
This event, the Marin Ultra Challenge 50 was heavy on my mind as the race date drew near. There was never a part of me that didn’t want to race it, but like I had mentioned in previous post, I have been training, but only got bitten by the race bug recently, and I had a few personal things on my plate that took precedence.
As I confirmed my registration with Tim, the RD for Inside Trail, I suddenly remembered the brutal course and I was excited – it’s like the pain of getting your bare ass smacked and then the calming feeling of it being rubbed out. Except the ass smacking is the hill climbing and the is the view(s). Weird? I can’t explain it, I guess. Well, either way, I new it would be a tough race course since an extra 1,000 feet of elevation was added to bring the course near the original route it was two years ago. I ran it last year, and it was stunning, but it looped several times through Tennessee Valley, and didn’t include the single-track Miwok trail, Dipsea stairs or the amazing view of Stinson Beach. Like I said earlier, this race felt like a journey, and an amazing one at that!
The morning of race day, I felt so fresh and rested and I was extremely happy about that since I had only three days before caught a cold, not to mention that I hadn’t run one single step in a whole week which happened to be the day of my last half marathon trail race. I did have one potentially big problem though: I had woken up with major cramps and that had me worried I’d start my period during the race. D and I left the hotel that was just a small ride away from the race start to see if I could buy tampons at the gas station and of course, it was too early to be open. Luckily once at the start line, an Inside Trail volunteer helped me out with this problem and I put them in my handheld in case of an emergency (Thank you!). Luckily, there was never an emergency so not much more drama to discuss in this dept. 🙂
As the race started D, Kristin and I started out together. The plan, or lack of plan was to enjoy the day, not go out too fast and really power hike up and pound the downs and WIN. This was D’s suggestion to me (not the winning part), and he wasn’t there to ‘race’, he was there because it brought him back to his first-ever ultra marathon — one he says was brutal and maybe one he wasn’t ready for on his first go-round. Fast-forward to now and you’d be surprised to know that. He was also there to be my companion and keep me focused on the simple game-plan. Kristin, like me had also ran the race last year and she had been working her tail off to take some major time off last year (even with the additional elevation gain). I was stoked for her as I had been witnessing her long training sessions with Oswaldo and Armando weekend after weekend.
Since the race started an hour and a half before sunrise, we took it super easy up Coastal Trail for the first three miles, with Kristin generously lighting our way with her headlamp. Before I knew it, Ken Michel’s headlamp was guiding light and the three of us chatted for a short bit. Kristin had mentioned feeling a little uncomfortable with technical and downhill since she fell last year and got pretty banged up. I think it was this point that she decided to hang back a bit. I didn’t see her for the rest of the race, but she did end up lopping off a whole hour off her time and without one scrape! Way to go Kristin!
Last year I remember everyone trying to go out super fast on this first part of the course, I jumped out the way to let them by and before you know it, I had caught almost all of them by the time I finished. It’s getting easier to stay on a great pace early when you look at your pace per mile with 49 or so miles to go and realize that if ANY of us stay on that pace, we would be breaking course records by hours. LOL
As the sun started to rise, I felt that the race had finally begun, but not after our small group had accidentally stayed straight instead of turning right to get to Rodeo Beach. Luckily some car parked out that direction told us no racers had yet ran by and we quickly turned around and got back on track. Not a big deal…maybe 4 minutes lost and at least now we were awake.
Still bundled together a little after leaving Rodeo, we found ourselves climbing Bunker Road, going under tunnels and meeting Bunker Road again, but noticing a whole lot of people instead went straight up Bunker Road (similar to the Headlands Hundred course). The lead lady Luanne made sure to let them know that they had cut a significant portion off the course by doing that. Of course it was accidental and we still had over 45 miles to concern ourselves with.
So I said that I woke up feeling great, well except the cramps…this changed a bit for me, partially physically and mostly mentally. The physical part was my left calf on the verge of cramping – this kept my mind going in circles about what to do. I definitely didn’t want to stretch it out or put anymore pressure on it, so I made sure to stay off my toes on the ups, took in lots of extra fluids and started taking salt tabs early. The calf would go on to bother me for about 25 miles until I got too distracted to notice it anymore. The mental part was dealing with a different race plan. I didn’t like how slow we were going (or how slow it felt) and I was worried about losing time on the back end. It was even harder seeing the lead woman (Louann) fluctuating between 100 yards to about a half mile in front of us. She obviously had a game plan of not hiking – ever. I kept telling myself that what we were doing was the right thing and the hardest part of the race had yet to come. I’d catch her eventually and hopefully have a strong second half of the race instead of trying to blast uphill early and suffer later.
Not once did I look at my pace during the race, but I did keep an eye out for the 22-mile mark as that was where we would have to death march up Willow Camp Fire Rd for nearly two miles. D and I just caught the leader (Luanne) at Stinson Beach and I was now focused on staying up ahead. The climb though…it was ridiculously hard to even hike up. I kept telling myself that this is the hardest part of the race and once we were past this hill, I could focus on the second half of the race and look forward to the nearly 3-mile decline to the finish.
With nearly a 5.3 mile stretch between aid stations starting from the base of the climb, D and I had found ourselves low on water (one handheld) and as we headed into a public part of the park, we patiently waited in line at the public water fountain to fill our water bottles. We were getting a little impatient with a hiker, who saw that we were in a race and continued to fill his whole 2-Liter hydration pack before allowing us to get in there. I remember turning around and seeing a different woman on my tail. This scared the crap out of me – she seemed to have come out of nowhere since D and I had been pretty much alone from miles 5-20 until we caught Louann and then after Willow Camp, we caught up to Mark Tanaka and about two or three other guys. I filled up only half way and took off, it was time to GO and I would try my best to not look back for the rest of the race.
As I finally got to mile 27.7 mile aid station, I already had the lid off my bottle, as nicely as I could sound, yelled, “water!” and then I took off, screwing the cap back on while running. D was behind me, he didn’t hurry through the aid station and I was able to run with Mark again. For the next 6 miles or so, I ran crazy and quickly as I could down some gorgeous, yet extremely technical trails that consisted of big tree roots and some wood stairs. All I could hope for was to NOT fall or get passed. I also had to pee, which was very annoying. I had already peed twice during the race, one of them on a downhill, which in retrospect is not where you want to lose time — save it for an up when everyone else is slow too. Reluctantly I asked Mark, whom I have raced with at Javelina and this same race last year, if it would be OK if I just peed on myself because I didn’t want to get passed. He said ‘elite’ women do that all the time and I just laughed to myself because I am so not an elite. LOL. I ended up holding it for 20 miles until I finished the race.
The great thing about this ‘scare’ of getting caught was that before I knew it, I only had 10-miles to go once I found myself at Muir Beach. My Garmin Fenix was half dead since mile 29 and that is how it would read for the rest of the race.
As I left Muir Beach, I had gotten ahead of Mark and his small group and caught one guy named Rich as we climbed up Green Gulch Trail. This was another bitch of a climb, but I was very familiar as we had to climb it twice last year and I knew exactly what to expect. As I passed him, he was beyond encouraging and I remembered that ultra runners are just so motivating and generous with encouragement. This climb kind of zigzagged and allowed me to see who was behind me without having to look back. Whenever he suspected I looked his direction, he would give me a thumbs up. This small gesture really made everything a lot easier.
Getting back on the Miwok Trail from there, I caught up to two guys who I thought were racing until I realized they didn’t seem to mind me passing them and kept up their loud and friendly conversation with each other. And because they seemed to be taking it easy, I asked if they were in the race and they confirmed that they were.
As I got in to Tennessee Valley around mile 44, I asked the aid station how much farther we had – he said about 5.3 miles. I heard him and I know what 5.3 miles is, but since my watch wasn’t showing mileage anymore and because I was still kind of frazzled from running like a bat out of hell to get away from her and to the finish line, I thought I had 5.3 to the next aid station and needed to climb out of Tennessee Valley which does not make sense since I just left from there in a different direction.
Sticking to the game plan as I did all day, I hiked up Marincello Trail, thinking I had farther to go than I actually did. When I realized my mistake, I only had a bit over 3 miles to go and I hauled in to the finish feeling so strong. I had no idea what my time would be, but as I crossed the finish, I came in at 8:41:54 as the first female and 7th overall. Laura, who had caught me earlier came in around 9:12, and Luanne came in at 9:19. Both of these women ran very strong races and I was glad to be in their company.
I know I made this recap very long, but I don’t want to forget any of it. Huge thanks to D, for keeping me smart and focused when I doubted the race plan, to Mark for always motivating me along the course, listening to me talk about peeing my pants (or potentially peeing my pants) and for letting me sneak in ahead of him again this year, and also to Inside Trail — the race was flawless, the aid-stations were great, the volunteers, awesome. I apologize if in my worried frenzy, I came through the aid stations like a bull. 🙂 And finally, thank you Tim for welcoming me back again for back-to-back wins. I will be back and this next time, I already have a game plan.
I know I have been really quiet here, but it wasn’t until recently that I started racing again. Don’t get me wrong, since the first of the year, I have been training, but I had to take some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to be doing and until I felt I got my motivation to put myself back out there on a a race course. Let’s not forget that I am just getting settled in my new life here in Central California, (which has been amazing BTW, and one of my best adult decisions to date) and I have had to prioritize a few things before I got carried away and over-committed to racing.
After Javelina at the end of October, I decided to give myself plenty of time to recover and renew from all the racing and training that I had done for 10-months prior. This decision forced me to back out of The North Face Endurance Challenge held in December (SF) and I pretty much didn’t do any type of exercise. I look back and I am glad that I took a break, I am never one for quantity anyway; if I am going to race, I am there to run like it matters.
Almost all of my training so far has been solo and mostly on the trails of Auberry, near to where I now live. I have yet to do any speed work (well, I did do one) although I will be adding it to the mix very soon. Every run and every chance to get out there has been wonderful and luckily, I felt the break had actually done me good – I feel very strong!
Trying to put together a strategic and successful racing schedule together, I registered and got into Way Too Cool 50K (WTC) on 3/8. At the time I put in for the lottery (December), I felt a little pressure because this race along with Miwok 100k and San Diego 100 all required early registration for the lottery process and I didn’t really want to fork out all the money in a week if I so happened to get into them all. I took the chance with WTC and I got in. Couple that with the fact that I had just announced that I would be a part of the 2014 Pearl Izumi Ultra Team, and I thought I was on cloud-9…until the motivated quickly went away.
After spending quite a bit of time thinking it over, I decided that I would not race WTC and that I would leave the team. I will say it again and again, “if I am not motivated to do something, I just can’t do it.” Weirdly after I made those decisions and focused on consistent training, all the racing excitement came back again. THANK GOD!
A last minute decision to race The San Joaquin River Trail Half Marathon (same day as WTC) — the same trails I run regularly, gave me something to focus on and enjoy. The minute I crossed the finish line, I was already planning my next race: Marin Ultra Challenge 50. So far, so good. 🙂
Javelina was not at all what I had anticipated it to be. For nearly 365 days, I talked, thought and trained for it. I told everyone that I knew who would be there to not let me drop – no matter what.
What I didn’t anticipate on race day was feeling like I had a lead monkey attached to each leg. It’s not at all unusual to feel horrible for the first 5 miles in any run or race, but I eventually shake it off and feeling horrible soon becomes a distant memory. This was not the case on race day, a day I planned to run an average of 9:30…all day! 9:30 is such an easy pace to maintain for me — anything slower and it actually becomes painful, well on this day, it felt like I was on the tenth mile of a 6:30 pace tempo run. Not good.
The way this course is set up, we run six 15.4 mile loops and then a smaller loop to finish out 101.4 miles. We alternate directions of the loops every other lap. It was on my first lap that I suspected something was off and it just never got better. As I headed in to finish my first loop, greeted by my wonderful crew (Andy and Ashley), I grabbed my new handhelds, a few bites of whatever and I headed in the opposite direction to start my second loop.
Around mile 20 in my second loop, I found myself struggling to even keep going, and that 9:30 pace was extremely difficult. Finally after around 22 miles, I got a very short second wind until the finish of the second loop.
Around two miles into my third loop, I knew I just couldn’t continue for an additional 60 miles in this condition. Even with all the runners passing me telling me I was literally a minute away from the first woman, I just couldn’t do anything more than what I was doing. About halfway through this lap I decided to run/walk. Running was too painful, my hip flexors were extremely tight and walking was just plain horrible in the dead of the desert heat. I had told myself I was done when I finished this lap, there was no way I could continue and I was in a lot of pain.
As I finished this third loop, I headed to my crew and none of them could accept my decision to DNF. I had accepted this fate well before I reached them, but all they knew was that I had told them to keep me going and to not let me quit. As I sat in the chair, each one approached me with words of wisdom and some sort of encouragement to get me back out there. At this point, I was not at all concerned about my finishing time, I was looking at this from a standpoint that I knew I could not get through the rest of the race running. After a long period of time, and coaxing from everyone around, I hesitantly headed out for my fourth loop receiving a standing ovation from everyone around. Almost immediately I changed my mind and headed back to my crew. Realizing it would be a non-stop fury of everyone telling me I could still do it, I decided, “fine, I will go out another lap.” I ran for about 1.5 miles before I coaxed a guy named Van, who was walking, to keep me company for the rest of the loop.
Van and I, actually, it seemed like I was the only one talking, walked the entire loop. As the sun set, we finished our loops and I told my crew I was REALLY done. After a half hour, I finally snuck over to the timing chip and called it. I was done. Not happy, not sad, just done for the day.
What annoyed me about my DNF was having to explain to people at the event why I felt this way. I knew why and even when I told them, I felt that all they saw was a quitter. To them it was more important that I continue on, even if it meant a 30-hour finish. I am sorry, but that is not an option for me. This was not my day regardless of the race distance. I refuse to say that the 100-mile distance got me again and I really don’t see the point of marching day and night to get a buckle. Good for you if you want to suffer and prove something, personally, I have bigger goals to achieve and that is to hopefully run a week after this fiasco instead of limping or being injured for a long period of time.
For a few days after the race I did find myself limping, my flexors hated me and my left ankle hurt(s). It doesn’t matter what you think, that is not normal. I made the right decision and I can’t wait to go running tomorrow. 🙂
I waited until yesterday, exactly one week after Los Pinos 50K to lace up my trainers and go out for a run. Running Los Pinos the week after Ventura Marathon earned me this reprieve or “hall pass,” as my coach Andy likes to say. I started feeling anxious yesterday, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit putting in miles just yet. Today was the day I really wanted it so I headed out the door for a nice and easy 8 mile/75 minute run on the pavement. I felt pretty normal (good), a little tight in my right glut and left calf, but nothing to concern myself with.
To tell you the truth though, I am filled to the brim with all these (now) wonderful emotions that had until recently felt like dead weight and quite honestly, damn near impossible to make it through.
To quickly recap, and as you may remember, I was going to run Santa Rosa Marathon on 8/25 and then Los Pinos on 9/14. Well, I screwed up with both of these races, upsetting both my bf and my coach. By missing Santa Rosa, and after having all this marathon training under my belt, I had to find another one close in date and found Ventura, but it would only be a week apart from Los Pinos. It was a stupid decision on my part to put myself through that – not enough rest and recovery from one even to the next, really setting myself up for an injury. The problem with Los Pinos was that I had already committed to the RDs and there was no way I could back out, I wanted to be there to support them. My bf was not happy at all about it because I had mistakenly signed up for this event that was falling on the same day as his long awaited 100-miler in San Francisco. I did my best to make everyone happy, and for the most part I accomplished that. In the end, even I was happy, but I learned a valuable lessen – do what is best for you (me) and everything will always work out regardless.
I did it. I finally did it! I finally finished a marathon where I am completely satisfied with my performance. Heck, I didn’t meet my sub-3 goal and it really doesn’t matter. This was my performance of the year – not because I finished first place, but because I know for a fact that I am not the same runner I was a few years ago.
This realization occurred to me after I excitedly messaged my friend Radell a few days after the race to share the good news. He was so excited for me and his immediate response was, “You are a terrific athlete. I always thought you were grinding yourself too hard.” He was so right. Looking back a few years ago, when I wanted to break 3-hours at any cost, I wasn’t running for pleasure anymore, running was running my life. I basically took the fun out of running. I was dealing with injury after injury. It was horrible, really. And the best memories I have at that time are not the races, but the great friendships I made during that time – one of them being Radell, my coach at the time Sylvia Mosqueda, Adrian Broca, and so many more.
Yep, tomorrow is a big day for me as I am running my first marathon since May 2010! I am not really sure how I feel, it has felt like a countdown for centuries already and I just can’t wait to cross that finish line and that could be both a good and bad thing, I guess.
My only focus and plan tomorrow is to be patient and to run my own race. My coach Andy and I have discussed this a few times and we decided that since my target is a timed goal, I can’t care who is in front of me and I can’t get caught running too fast by running someone else’s pace.
I am ready and I am ready to go out there and do my best.
The best part about this experience is that even though I spent 90% of my runs alone, my coach has been by my side throughout this entire training program and I am so lucky to have him! Big thanks to Ashley and Balmore for coming up with me tomorrow — I owe you big time!
Click here to read my last marathon race report – pretty intense.
Wow, it’s Monday and I am still on a high from this weekend’s races. I went from just having a typical marathon training weekend to all of a sudden racing two half marathons – one road and one trail. Now that this weekend is over, it will be time to focus on my marathon that is only three weeks away.
HELL of a HALF – Exeter, CA
This last minute race turned out to be a great decision. It was my ego that prevented me from running any short road races as I prepared for my marathon. Let me explain. My current marathon training schedule isn’t a typical marathon training schedule because I am also training for a 50K and a 100-miler. The differences in my schedule compared to a marathon only schedule are that I don’t do track workouts on Tuesdays, I instead run intervals on the road, and I do back to back (hilly) trail runs on Saturday and Sunday (like ultra marathon training). It’s been an adjustment, convincing myself that I don’t need to run 5:35 mile repeats on the track and that the trail running won’t slow me down. I really believe in my coach (Andy) and this program and I know my coach believes in me so in reality, I have already accomplished big things! In fact, I am lucky to have him because I am sure it is not easy to train someone with such varying race distance goals! So going back to this race, I didn’t feel half marathon ready, but I knew I could run a half at 6:35-6:45 pace based off of my recent tempo and MRP workouts. Of course, I had to pick a scorching hot and hard course (two hills about 1.5 miles each around miles 5.5 and 9.5-ish) that wasn’t stacked with speedsters like the men’s side…it was definitely not going to be a PR day but that wasn’t going to keep me from having a great day and experience! The goal for the day was to do my best running 6:30-6:40 pace and finish the race using the experience to build my confidence for my upcoming marathon. I was also VERY excited to be able to see Andy and all my teammates from Bakersfield, not to mention the opportunity to support one of the best running stores around in the Central Valley: Sole to Soul. (more…)
Not too much to say about this past week’s training because 49 of 73 miles were from the Marin Ultra Challenge that I did on Saturday. Yes, I ran a 50-miler, but I had so much fun doing it. Typically I write looooooong race recaps but for some reason, I just don’t want to so I will just quickly tell you about it:
Gorgeous course all over Marin Headlands (SF) starting and finishing under the Golden Gate Bridge and then running through and around Rodeo Beach, Tennessee Valley and Muir Beach. Views were breathtaking (for me anyway), overlooking the beach from some pretty gnarly hills. With an elevation gain of 10,000+ feet, I really expected it to be a long, hot, 9.5 hour day and I was content with that.
My plan was simple, run fast enough to be the first woman, but not so fast that I might injure myself (thinking of the big picture marathon). I was really hoping for a top ten overall finish and I ended up placing 9th!
A few things to note:
- I was extremely worried about getting off course since we would be going in and out of Tennessee Valley from a few directions. I did, only once right before mile 20 and instead of turning right on Miwok, I headed left back up a trail that we had already came down earlier. Common sense told me I shouldn’t be heading in that direction and since I could no long hear the voices of the guys that were in front of me, I got back on the trail and found the pink ribbon that should have taken me right instead of left. Not sure how much more I added to my milege — not a big deal. The race was officially 49.3 miles and my Garmin died with 48.99 miles on it, 7.5 minutes before I crossed the finish line. I guess I could do the math if I wanted to. Garmin details HERE.
- Aid stations were fully stocked with a huge variety of items. I managed to get 90% of my nutrition (240+ calories per hour) from my own stash of FRS energy shots. I am really tired of gels and these remind me of concentrated orange juice that can be taken as a shot, or poured into a water bottle. Each shot is approximately 120 calories, 35mg of caffeine, and just…YUMMY. ONE thing I didn’t like was the packaging – the wrapper is hard to remove when you are running/hiking and then screwing off the cap is difficult; the hard little bottle makes it hard to carry more than a few at a time if you are carrying handhelds instead of a pack. *FRS website seems to be discontinuing this size and is instead offering a 16 serving size bottle (maybe for the reasons I just mentioned). I purchased mine on ebay, buy one case, get one for free so I doubt I will find another deal like this. By far my new favorite product that I don’t want to be without — a must-have!
- Inside Trail hosted this event and had some really great swag. Coming in as the first Female earned me a new Suunto Ambit GPS watch with heart rate monitor, $250 in prize money and a few other things like an embroidered blanket and personalized beer mug. I was really excited about this since I have never really won anything before, plus I felt like I had to work pretty hard to earn it.
- Complaints? None, really. I would suggest that the race have water available in the morning at the start line. I never come to a race with an empty bottle or pack but I did on this day and got lucky to have a bottle in my car. Other than that, everything was great and I would love to do more of their races.
- One of the best parts of this event was the people. I had a blast traveling up with my coach Andy Noise (who did the 50K), allowing us to catch up and get to know each other better. I was also able to run with Mark Tanaka — this man heavily influenced and inspired me through my journey at Javelina in October. He has a lot of races under his belt and I think I could learn a lot from him. We ran together for quite a long time and only finished about 6 minutes apart. Then there was Chris B. who I ran into during the race, it turns out were were DM friends already but just never met. That was cool.
Well, I think I made this a long post again. Darn it, I guess I will try harder next time. 🙂
June 24, 2013 | Categories: Santa Rosa Mara
5:09:02 (1st F / 6th Overall)
Race Site Here
It took me exactly four days to get back on my running feet following the wonderful San Juan 50k. I was pretty wrecked post-race after taking another few spills in the first half of the race. It wasn’t all the missing skin that concerned me but my poor knee, both times I managed to bang my left knee which was the one I had been complaining about for the last month. Luckily, the running Gods are once again on my side and everything seems to be back to normal (less the missing skin).
San Juan 50k was a great last minute race decision as I found myself very anxious for Leona Divide coming up at the end of April; it would be a great opportunity for me to log some long miles on a course I had recently become fond of. I was also very excited that my friends would be proudly supporting Runner’s Booty by each wearing a green themed tech top.
Signing up for the race, my intention was to use it as a long training until Andy told me that if my body felt good, I should use it to gauge myself for next month’s race. Of course this excited me because no matter how many times I try to convince myself or my coach that I will just “jog” or “take it easy,” race-mode automatically gets turned on and I can’t even stop myself from running through the bad kind of pain. I know that is horrible…I am trying to work on that.
If I could sum up how I feel about my first 50-miler — the experience, my results, I’d still use the word: HAPPY.
Unlike past racing seasons where I’d race shorter distances much more often, it felt like I hadn’t raced forever. I was nervous, anxious and excited. I couldn’t wait to get to that starting line and experience another NEW race distance at another NEW place. Avalon had also held a special place in my heart because it was about a year ago that I started putting Runner’s Booty together and a year ago I debuted a few tank tops at this race. Ash had strongly suggested I run this race because she thought it was very similar to El Moro, a local trail that we hit up on occasion. She also thought I could be a top finisher (I think she is my biggest fan, haha).
I really feel like I headed into this race with positive attitude. Yes, I was a little worried and I had a lot of questions about the race and myself but I don’t think that was a negative thing…I’d like to say I am realistic. And I felt like my experiences at Javelina had carried me to the starting line — both the lows from all the pain and having to drop out (and being OK with it), to the highs of finding out I had set a new course record for the default 100k finish.
Amongst my close friends, I had already established a reasonable goal but I didn’t share it with anyone else simply because I (probably you too) am still learning a lot about ultras and the one thing that we ALL know is that anything can happen on race day. My intention was to finish in 8 hours and I really felt like it was doable — I knew I had that in me. And I knew that I needed to average a 9:36 mile to do it. (more…)
Just getting into this post I feel like I am all over the place with emotions and what I want to communicate. All over the place in a good way. So many emotions stemming from a long weekend after nearly completing my first 100-mile foot race in Arizona surrounded by motivating, inspiring and tough-as-nails competitors.
I was nervous going into this race — 100 miles is no joke (actually is it 101.4 miles); it’s far, it would be my first time and I had just realized after getting to my hotel that I lost a strap to my Camelbak which meant I would be stuck carrying one handheld for the entire race. I also knew that running a repeating looped course instead of a destination course would make for a long day. Almost the entire race took place on Pemberton Trail, one 15.4 mile loop in McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Arizona that we would run washer machine style for a total of six times before completing a final 9-mile loop into the finish. The elevation gain was minimal, about 5,200 ft and the terrain was a mixture of packed dirt, gravel-like sand (washout) and some technical rocky portions — all typical of trails that I have encountered so far. On paper this course seems very easy, maybe that is why there was a large field of nearly 400 participants, hoping to finish their first 100 or set a new PR(?). Who knows but I had been warned by a few people that this course had a high DNF rate simply because it was underrated by participants to who thought it would be an easy finish (This year’s DNF rate was 56%!) . (more…)
Cuyamaca 100k in the books and I am relieved to put it behind me because I had a lot doubts since I had been a major slacker lately, running once, maybe twice a week for the longest time. I was however confident with my knowledge of the course, having completed the entire course between two previous training runs and I knew what to expect. The whole course consisted of three separate loops, all returning us to the start area with a total elevation gain of 10,900. The first loop was around 30.5 miles and took us up to the top of Cuyamaca peak before heading back down to camp. I found this to be my favorite loop even though I had previously thought it would be the worse based on the peak climb from my training run. I had decided before the race that I would not use my Garmin until I got to the last loop since it would probably die early in the race and because I did not want to know my pace/time/distance so that I could just run by feel. (more…)
The E.T. Full Moon Marathon (51K in my case) did not disappoint this year. Thinking about it, it was also great last year too, well, with the the exception of me dropping out around mile 6 during my half. The gist of this point-to-point race, and also what makes it really unique, is the midnight start along Extraterrestrial Highway in the dark. A few hundred runners donning alien inspired costumes, carrying glow sticks and wearing headlamps show up at the Hardrock Hotel in Vegas and get shuttled to the start, more than an hour away to Rachel, NV. We are dropped off on the pitch-black highway, lit only by the gadgets we bring along, and run straight to the finish which just so happens to be near Area 51 at the A’Le’Inn (Alien Inn). Oh, did I almost forget that we also get glow-in-the-dark medals?! So cool! (more…)
Well, after a long break from racing and finishing my track season in April with a 17:47:33 for the 5,000 m, I finally decided to get back out there and start running again. I say running again very lightly because even now, I seem to be cycling and swimming more than running. I guess it has more to do with convenience — I’d rather head to our community pool or jump onto the Santa Ana River Trail which is right behind my house than drive to a trail head.
Adding a 100K in October to my racing schedule, I have no choice but to get out there an log miles on the trails. The easiest way to do this (besides sighing up with my friend Ashley), it to sign up for other ultra-like distances that can be used as training runs, a no-brainer. First on my list was the Harding Hustle at Modjeska Canyon. With options of 15K, 30K and 50K, I selected the shortest distance since it was similar in length to El Moro, a course I had been running about once a week.
Not really looking at the race course, I found out immediately that the course went up halfway and then straight back down. (In retrospect, I am glad I didn’t look at the elevation chart or else I would have run much slower on my way up finish with an even slower finishing time.) Running in first for nearly 3.3 miles, I was finally passed by a woman as I stopped to walk in the shade along the ridge line. This woman was bad ass, seriously, I found out before the race that she had actually rode her bike to the start which is a hilly climb by itself! I should have known not to mess with her! Anyway, getting to the halfway point I was relieved to head back down and fly into finish.
Apparently not only am I the biggest rookie when it comes to trails, I am also lousy downhill runner considering I made it to the top averaging 9:48 and finished with a 9:11 average. (I have run this course again and my downhill skills have dramatically improved.) I finished in second place and swore I would do more trail running to be better prepared. All in all, a great, challenging race!
5th – Overall
Complete results HERE.
Garmin Connect statistics HERE.
Coach and I had finally settled on my next marathon which was 12 weeks away from race day. It was my job to find a couple half marathons and a 5K to run before the big race. I decided to run the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon in Oxnard, a very small, fast course just about an hour away. I knew a lot of friends who have raced it and knew who’d be running, so I was pretty excited.
As race day approached, I quickly realized I wasn’t in race shape as I was finding myself struggling with my shorter tempo run (4-5 miles @ 6:40 pace) but coach told me to use this race as a tempo training run, “…and maybe surprise yourself.”
As I toed the starting line, with 7 full weeks of base training under my belt, I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be hitting the wall somewhere out there on the course but also full of stress because my Garmin wasn’t catching a signal and I was very rushed to get to the starting line. My plan was to run with my friends Radell and Mike who would be pace leaders for the 1:30:00 group. I figured I would do my best to stay with them and pick-up later if I felt good.
At the start of the race, I stayed with them and early on I was able to count the females in front of me as they made their way around a right turn: 13th place. No big deal, only a training run. Early on I felt I would be disappointed if I didn’t pick up my pace and show a little more effort so I started to focus on the runners in front of me, trying to catch them one at a time.
By the time my Garmin got reception, I found myself near mile 4 and quickly hit the lap button so I could at least start to check my mile splits. Mile 4 was WAY off and I found myself reaching mile 5 way before my watch did. I was feeling really good and comfortable, opting to listen to my ipod thinking it would help distract me from negative thoughts and hush my heavy breathing.
By the time I got to mile 11, I had passed 8 women but there was a blonde girl in front of us that was pretty consistent and nearly out of reach. I felt very strong, mad at myself for all the negative thoughts and self-doubt as I turned into the finish line, noticing I better speed up if I wanted to break 1:27:00. Wow, I couldn’t believe it — just this February I ran a balls out race to run 1:26:18. I quickly called my coach who congratulated me and quickly reminded me that I needed to run a few more miles to get in a total of 18 for the day.
Overall I was the 5th women and 5th in my age group. Some pretty good gals out there with the winner coming in at 1:14:00.
Time to focus, time to tough it out mentally.
Finish Time: 1:26:57
It seems like the summer came and went while I was still blinking. Well, technically it is still summer but we are already in August and the time is flying by! I guess running-wise summer was dedicated to speed training and mastering the 5K, a race I have managed to avoid for nearly a decade.
I started training with my coach in early February after running a balls-out (see race post here) 1:26 half at Surf City. At that point she was living in Vegas and our training was more virtual — phone, emails and text messages. She knew my only goal was to run sub-3 (2:59:59) and after several discussions and a few workouts under my belt, we decided we would get me through LA Marathon (only 6 weeks away) and then focus on that goal. Before long I found myself injured the week of the marathon by either freak massage accident or some other weird and unexplained anomaly. My training went on hold for 8 weeks before we started training again, this time she had moved to Los Angeles to train with our group and we started at a much slower and easier rate to ensure my injury stayed away!
As soon as we had established a base and felt safe that I had recovered, my coach met me at the track to see what I could do. I dreaded this day and I was not surprised that this track workout would kick my butt. It was tough, at least for me: 1600 (5:48), 1200 (5:48p), 800 (5:24p) and 400 (:78s). Coach ran directly in front of me and I just had to shadow her and not pay attention to my watch. The first 1600 felt great and I was excited upon hearing my split and then the next two were torturous – my coach got out ahead of me, really far, and since I was instructed to not look at my watch, I had assumed that I was hitting the wall only to find out that I was on pace and she had just darted ahead. After the 1200, I just hunched over and I swear to this day that my eyes wanted to roll and stick to the back of my head. By then I knew the hard part was over and I just had to get in the last shorter repeats.
As dreadful as that day was, it was also a new chapter in my running “life” or whatever you want to call it because I discovered that I always had the potential to run faster but never really challenged myself in a way to see how fast I could go because I was a marathon runner — marathoners don’t have speed right? In my own training programs (Hal Higdon modified), I did nearly every run at my marathon pace 7:30 and during track my mile splits were mid 6:00’s and I thought that was borderline too fast. (Just writing that last line makes me cringe to think of all the mistakes I was making trying to train myself.) It was also great for my coach to see this so she could give me workouts that would help me improve and reach more realistic goals, one of which would be breaking 18:00 during the summer since we had some time before marathon training would begin.
Soon enough our small group of 4-5 runners were meeting every week for track and long runs. I found these run to be invaluable because we were able to push together (or me rather, me chase) and of course bond. Everything seems a little easier with very inspiring and motivating people around you.
We started training in early May and I ran one 5K per month from June to August running a 19:11 (Magic Shoe ), 16:59 (Every Child Matters – short course and very disappointing), 18:32 (Northgate Downtown Anaheim), 18:04 (City of Cypress) and finally 18:18 (Pride of the Valley).
I was devastated when I caught a severe cold just a few days before Pride of the Valley because this was the last 5K coach was going to let me run this year and also because this is a FAST PR course — I should have no problem breaking 18:00! As I always say, you can never predict what will happen in a marathon but now I firmly believe that rings true for most competitions with so many factors leading up to the race and of course, during. I crossed that last 5K finish line a little disappointed at first but then I realized I was so happy to say that I am really an 18-something minute 5K runner — sick or not! My day got so much better that evening when I received a few text messages from coach: You still ran well. If you weren’t sick you would have gotten a PR no doubt, to be able to do what you did today, I am proud of you. You and I will run a 5K together so you can go under 18. I was so excited — one more chance! Hooray, there is still hope! 😀
Time: 18:04, 2nd W, 1st in AG. Click HERE for complete results.
Feeling super excited after my last race performance at the 30th Annual City of Cypress 5K. My goal for the day was to try and reach an 18:10 time but after disastrous morning up to the race start, I just hoped to finish without jumping into a porta-potty along the course. I guess mentally everything seemed to be going wrong even though it wasn’t SUCH a big deal that I had waited forever in the port-potty line only to jump in and realize there wasn’t any toilet paper (so didn’t use it) and after that I didn’t have any time left for warming-up. I did a few strides before I found my coach and teammates at the starting line. I simply went up to my coach and told her, “Tell me I am going to be fine even though I didn’t warm up.” She simply hugged me, gave me this kind smile and look directly in my eye and told me to get in a few more strides and I would be fine. I felt better but was still worried about my stomach that was still making all kinds of crazy noises!
This venue hosted both a 5K and 10K with cash prizes available for the 10K winners. I always expect fast competition at these events and I don’t mind getting my butt kicked if it could possibly mean faster race times for me. As you can see from the first line of this post, I took second overall in the 5K but because the both races started simultaneously, with the looping the 5K twice, I was surprised (pleasantly) when my boyfriend told me I was the second woman finisher behind my coach – SCORE! I remembered there at least a few gals in front of me as I headed down the dreadfully long mile finish but it made sense that they had kept going around for the second loop. Geez, they were pretty darn good. I only had enough fuel in me to get to the shoot before I hunched over in exhaustion.
Anyway, I just planned on consistent 5:52 splits to get me to that 18:10 but as soon as the gun went off, and I am noticing this in every 5K that I am running, EVERYONE takes off like a bat out of hell. Seriously, I glanced at my watch and we were running 5:36 and there were tons of runners in front going even faster (even kids)! It seems really fast but when you are in the race momentum, it really doesn’t seem that crazy until you pay for it later when you hit the wall. I made the hardest effort to slow down to stay on MY target pace and found myself right on at the first mile mark. A little after the mile marker, we turned right into a residential area and I totally got sidetracked, my mind was wandering all over the place. It was a good thing I caught that quickly enough to avoid losing precious seconds during that mile. My teammate Radell was near me at the point where I jumped back on pace and told me to hold my pace and not push it just yet. I was grateful for that although I knew I was only making up for the seconds I had just lost.
It seems that we had a few more turns in a residential area before we hit the final mile stretch and I was feeling pretty good. I kept glancing at my watch to check my average pace and knew I was right around my goal but I had to keep pushing if I was going to make it. By this time Radell had pushed ahead of me and I just kept my sights on him and down the road searching for the finish line balloon banner. The final stretch was pretty uncomfortable and I started to question my strength when I realized that this mile seemed so long! Thankfully I had adjusted my bezel settings earlier to see my overall time and I realized I was going to finish faster than 18:10 (no way!) and before I knew it, I was staring down the timer that was still showing under 18:00. I just kicked and kept my eye on it, finishing in 18:04. So close to breaking 18:00 and for a split second I questioned myself as to why I started to give up when I was so close but then I remembered that I had achieved my goal and to “always be grateful.”
Overall a great race venue that I would definitely race again.
Here’s to breaking 18:00 (next time)…
My teammates did so good! Left to right: Radell Hutchens 17:54, me, Coach Sylvia Mosqueda 17:20, Lydia (cheerleader for the day). Bottom: Mohammed Abed 17:16
I am so happy to say that this is my third week running – hooray! I still can’t believe it. The setback really felt like it took forever! My first week back was pretty laid back, mostly test runs and by that Sunday, coach let me race the 9 mile run at Big Sur. It was more like a training run – nothing fast to brag about(Click here for a quick recap). Last week was my second real week back and I got in around 46 miles, pilates and one spin class. This week I feel much stronger than last and I was exhausting myself just worrying about how much fitness I lost in six weeks. Right now I am just trying to focus on staying healthy and I am not really talking marathons at this point.
I spoke to my coach today and she told me to start thinking of some goals and (short) races so we can get me on track. I have been very curious how quickly I can run a 5k because right before my injury while training for a marathon, I would have bet that I could run around 18:00 because I was consistently running good tempo and hard track workouts. Now anything in the 19:00 range seems scary. I know that these short races will also help me improve in the mary so I am willing to do them even though they are way more painful than 26.2.
Besides running, I haven’t been up to much — well except stockpiling new gear. I have a problem, I know. But I am really excited about the two newest purchases which include Oakley sunglasses and little 6oz bottle that I can add to my favorite running belt (click here for my marathon must-haves). I have wanted running glasses forever but I am not a fan of anything masculine on me. As it is, when I am deep in training, I kind of get a complex that I look like a boy. Note: I ALWAYS wear earrings, pink and I never race without my Mac Fluidline eyeliner! Say what you want but I love being a woman… Anyway, I have already wore them in a few of my runs and they are awesome. LOVE them. Problem is that I found out I can buy different colored lenses to switch things up a bit and I really shouldn’t buy anything else. The belt bottles are really cool because they are small and I don’t like to carry things when I run. Last time I ran with my coach, she wouldn’t let me run with my huge bottle because she said it would mess up my running form and she carried for me (after first pouring out some liquid so it wouldn’t be too heavy). Thanks coach! I never liked fuel belts because they look really dorky (sorry, they do) and they bounce around a lot. I think when I add the bottle or two to it, it will look exactly like one but I don’t care anymore. As long as it works – right?
Anyway, as always, THANK YOU for all the kind words of encouragement!!!!
My Boston race experience was not what I expected and it went something like this:
Start. Run for 40 minutes. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. *Smile* (camera). Bar stop. Walk. Walk. Run (there’s another camera). Walk. *Kiss* (Wellesley) Walk. *Smile* (camera). Walk. Walk. Walk. *complain* Walk. Walk some more and finally, FINISH! (more…)
I was fortunate enough to meet my friend Adrian last year training with LA Roadrunners (LARR). Embarrassingly enough, I happened to be the one who blurted out loud, “What’s that?” while realizing simultaneously time that this thing I was referring to was actually a tether (shoestring) that was being used to guide Adrian, a blind runner during our run. Oh man, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. A few runners looked at me but didn’t say anything, knowing I realized the answer to my question.
I will be honest and say that this was not the only time I would want to crawl into that hole…like a few weeks ago at the track when I asked him why was wearing two different shoes.
Overall: 75 out of 1495
Women: 10 out of 544
F 30-34: 3 out of 72
Click Here for Elevation Map
5 of 12…THE END
This marathon weekend was really great – close to home, lots of friends, great weather and zero pressure. I was happy that I had decided to ditch Avenue of the Giants Marathon to run this race instead.