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