A Little Trail Race for the End of Summer

A couple months back, a grad friend of mine, Dustin, asked me about local trail races. I recommended a couple that I had run, including Race Thru the Redwoods. About a month ago, he asked if I was going to run it and I said, maybe, depends on how I feel post marathon. Well, about a week or so after the marathon, I was thinking about the race and decided it would be fun to run it. I knew it had a good climb in the middle and I am not comfortable running terribly fast on trails, so I knew I would not go out and do something dumb like try to race super fast three weeks after SFM. So along with my teammate and good friend, Leslie, decided to join my grad buddy and just fun run the Redwoods race. (Plus it was only $30 and goes toward the local community in Felton.)

The sign is more intimidating than the race

The sign is more intimidating than the race

Saturday, the day before the race, we joined Elise and Sejin for a speedy long run and then, Leslie and I headed up to UCSC to cheer for the SCE men who were racing in the kick off race for the cross country season. We had thought about running it too, but after seeing the speedy guys we were glad to have decided on the Redwoods instead!

SCE Men Represent

SCE Men Represent

Sunday morning, we all met at my house and headed up to the entrance to Henry Cowell State Park. I’ve had some parking problems at this race before but this year it was really easy: close to the start and free. We grabbed our bibs and ran into Bob and Jaime, who were cheering, and Jose and Dan, fellow SCE teammates who were also running. After a easy warm up mile, with some cheering for the kids race, we hopped into the pack to start the race. Race Thru the Redwoods (yes they use “thru” rather than “through” and yes, it drives me bonkers) is pretty small, capped at 700 runners, and is a self-seeded start. The start came quickly (no countdown or anything) and we were off.

Low key start

Low key start

Chasing Leslie

Chasing Leslie

The first mile is all on road through the parking area and entrance to the park; I’m pretty sure it is just to add a mile and get the course to the full 10k distance. Then we are on to the trails, some of which is pretty loose sand, and with our drought, very dusty. It was fun running with Leslie for the first mile or so, but then we settled into our comfortable paces and made our way through the trails and up the big climb that begins about half way through mile 2 and into mile 3. It’s pretty steep and even though I feel good on hills, I had to hike a portion on it (partially due to forgetting to my inhaler before the race). As I was coming to the top of the climb, a couple of the volunteers told me I was the 2nd or 3rd woman. I knew there was a woman ahead of Leslie, so I knew that would mean I was the 3rd woman. Pretty cool! (But not accurate…)

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Where are the rest of the runners?

Where are the rest of the runners?

After the turn around, I saw there was one woman not that far behind me. Even though I was really running this as a fun run, I liked the idea of finishing 3rd, so I did my best to keep ahead of her. About three-quarters of a mile from the finish (give or take), I saw Jaime, Bob, and Miriam cheering. I gave them a smile and kept on pushing through the trails. Just as I came up to the finish, the woman behind me had caught up. I tried to give it a good kick at the end but she had more left than I did and scooted past me. But I quickly learned that Leslie had finished third, meaning I finished fifth. And as Leslie reminded me, I did just run a marathon, so I was pretty happy with a 5th place. My finish time was 48:14, about 4 minutes faster than when I ran the race last in 2012

2nd place AG

2nd place AG

We hung around for some of the raffle and the age group awards, where we all did really well. Leslie placed 1st, Dan placed 2nd, Dustin placed 3rd, and I took 2nd in our respective age groups. It ended up being a great morning and our only complaint was a lack of race day registration and no coffee at the finish! 

Do you trail run? What’s your favorite trail race?

Reflecting on Training for SFM

As I was training for The SF Marathon this year, I was pretty quiet about it on the blog about my training. After being so vocal on my training for the LA Marathon last year, I consciously made an effort to keep my goals and training to myself (and my closest friends & family, who inevitably are affected by my training). I have a couple of reasons for doing this. One is that I tend to over analyze and stress myself out about races and by constantly posting about my training and goals, for me, is basically insuring a stressed out Meg on race day. Second is that we all train very differently and I am hesitant to put my training out there as it might work for me but not for you, and I’m not a certified coach. However, now that the race is over and was successful, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the training. (If you are really into following my training, I do post my runs to Strava and sometimes to dailymile.)

Got to enjoy the company of these runners for the last part of one long run! I'm definitely a social runner, and if I can coordinate runs with friends, I will!

Got to enjoy the company of these runners for the last part of one long run!

I had originally planned to use the Pfitz Advanced Marathon training as it has worked really well for my gal Erin. But as the time drew closer to begin training, I started to worry about relying on a book – fearing that what if something went wrong in training, would I modify correctly? Would the mileage work for me? So, I decided to work with my coach again. He had helped me secure a 5k PR in March and I like his way of approaching marathon training. I have wrote about it before, but one of the benefits of working with a coach is that s/he can help you to modify your training as it progresses which a book or online plan can’t do.  For me, in this case, I was getting a little speedier during training, so my speed workouts got a little quicker as the weeks progressed. Another nice thing about working with a coach is you have someone to touch base with if/when a workout doesn’t go as planned. For example, when I was in SoCal I had some tempo work that just fell apart. I knew mentally that it was likely due to traveling and poor diet, but emotionally I couldn’t really convince myself. I doubted the work I had put into my running. So I emailed the coach and he also felt that it was traveling and diet, and just to focus on the next workout. And you know, my next workout went great.

My mileage is different from many marathon training plans and I would not recommend it for first time marathoners or runners who don’t run a lot of mileage normally. But I only have two 18 milers during my 12 week training period and I don’t go over 18 miles. But I still high mileage weeks, have many mid-week runs in the 9-10 mile range – including my speed workouts. Some of the philosophy here is about time on my feet, thinking more about time than mileage. Also, many of my long runs (while shorter than some plans), included many race pace miles. And it is important to use these runs to practice race-day fueling (an important lesson I learned from not successfully fueling at previous marathons!). That being said, I think for a first marathon having at least one 20 miler in the training is important, if only to get it in your head that you can run that far because you will doubt it come race day. (That being said, I totally did not do this for my first marathon and still survived, just slowly). My weeks’ mileage ranged from around 48 to 54 miles. My lowest week was the week before the marathon: 39 miles. Race week I ended up with just below 50 miles.

Action shot on a group run

Action shot on a group run

At the beginning of my training, I did a lot of track workouts: 200s, 400s, 800s, etc. But my last month or so of training, had less of these and more longer, road workouts: longer tempos and many mile repeats. I actually think this was very helpful in my training. I run these type of workouts on a stretch that is fairly flat but not track flat, so it feels more like race conditions. Nailing the longer workouts really helped me mentally feel prepared for race day. Again this was what worked for me and really was helpful when I was traveling because I didn’t have to find a track but rather just get out on the road. However, it can be hard if you don’t live in a place where there are long stretches without stop lights or intersections.

Lots of hills in my training to prepare for 26.2 miles that looked like this...

Lots of hills in my training to prepare for 26.2 miles that looked like this…

Finally, I included a LOT of hills in my training. Every week I had a least one run dedicated to climbing but I also tried to include some hills in my long runs. This was as much for physical training as it was for mental training. While I was in Washington, I included a 5 mile run that had a 1 mile climb of about 500 feet. As I entered my taper weeks, I included one last run on the Wilder Loop (a climb is challenging but is rewarding with its awesome views) with my SCE teammates. It was the strongest I had felt on that route and I was able to keep up with some of the guys. This was the run I kept in my mind as I got closer to race day, it was what I needed to believe I could conquer the SF hills. The choice to include all this climbing was to try to best prepare myself for the race course. If you are beginning your marathon training soon (say for CIM?) you probably don’t need all that hill work. Rather find what runners have found challenging about the course and try to replicate that on some of your training runs.

To wrap up, I’m including the screen shots of my training calendars for my 12 weeks of training.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.54.53 AMYou can see in May and June, I had multiple days with multiple runs. This is a little deceiving as for three of my long runs, I had a race in the middle of the mileage. While I did not include any double run days in this training session, it can be a way to build endurance – especially if you don’t have one large chunk of time to get in some longer runs.

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You’ll see that post race I took a solid week off, no running and not even cross training (although I was going to go to Body Pump that week but life got in the way). I know many people return back to running sooner (and some told me to take more time off) but you should do what’s right for you, so listen to your body!

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.55.18 AMFinally, as evidenced by the photo at the beginning of this post, I love running with friends. I was lucky to enjoy the company of many of my teammates from Santa Cruz Endurance, and especially to those women who modified their workouts to join me or even paced me on some of my speed work – you know who you are and I’m so grateful for you!

Running friends make the best friends :)

Running friends make the best friends :)

And if you haven’t read enough about the SF Marathon. Here are some of the race caps I’ve been enjoying over the past week (in no particular order):

Catching that Unicorn in San Francisco

Something amazing happened this weekend…and I don’t even know how to start this blog post. And I know it’s going to be crazy long…so you’ve been warned!

After I ran the Santa Rosa Marathon last summer, I knew I needed a break from marathons. And I was pretty sure I would wait until the SF Marathon before taking on 26.2. I had considered running Eugene (which unfortunately was moved to the same day as SF) or SLO, but just wasn’t feeling it when I would have needed to start training. I was pretty happy to be running more trails and hills, and focusing less on speed … until I had a great race at the Super Bowl 10k, which started my streak of PRing in every distance this year. The only downside of choosing SFM was that I would not be able to run Wharf to Wharf. (But you can read all about my friend Leslie’s race experience at her blog.) My goals for SF (my 5th marathon) remained the same from the moment I decided to run it until race day: run a smart, strong race regardless of what that might mean in time. And I can say I did just that – but it also resulted in a great time that I never expected!

Saturday

Ok introductions for the post are over and now its time to get through the weekend. I packed up a ton of snacks (lots o’ carbs as taught to me by Hillary) and the hubs and I headed up to SF. Like last year, I again had the privilege of serving as a SFM ambassador. Unlike last year, I decided to commit less time to volunteering so I could save my energy for the race. This meant that I only volunteered for a few hours at the expo. Props to the hubs who hung out at the expo, not the most exciting place if you’re not running the race. The expo was held at Fort Mason and had amazing views. I helped to register runners for 2015 and if I looked to my left, I had a stunning view of the bay. I got to work with Paulette, who I always have a fun time with, and Bonnie, who I just met but was full of excitement for the weekend! SFM hooked up its ambassador volunteers with some nice goodies (lots of GU and a sweet water bottle). In addition to picking up my bib and shirt, I also got my 52 Club sweatshirt. As I was heading out of the expo, I saw Erin G. and got a big awesome bear hug from this awesome gal. Then the hubs and I got some awesome grub at one of the food trucks outside the expo: Doc’s of they Bay. They had the best veggie burger I’ve ever had!

Goodies for SFM Ambassador volunteers

Goodies for SFM Ambassador volunteers

Black Bean Burger, photo courtesy of Doc's website.

Black Bean Burger, photo courtesy of Doc’s website.

After eating, the hubs and I headed to the Hotel Triton, our home for the race weekend. It took FOREVER to get the hotel because of a pro Palestine protest weaving its way through the city. Once we finally checked in, we got to our funky little room (I loved the character of this hotel! Only downside was that our mini fridge wasn’t working). After relaxing a bit, we decided to head out for a beer at Golden Gate Tap Room. We had been trying to organize dinner plans with Chris and finally decided on the Cheesecake Factory because it would a wide selection and was convenient (I also thought it would be kid friendly for Chris’s son, but even though we told them we had a child with us they didn’t bring a child’s menu or even a chair for him… boo!). Even though it’s a chain and I like to eat more locally, it’s a nice pick because of its location looking down on Union Square. The wait was long but it ended up being almost perfect as it took a while for us all to connect. Fellow ambassador, Wes, also came by to say hello. It was fun to have dinner with the hubs and Chris’s fam; it was also pretty low-key and not far from our hotels. Then, after heading back to get my forgotten water bottle, it was time to get to bed for an early morning wake up.

Protestors in SF

Protestors in SF

Fun hotel room

Fun hotel room

Sunday, Race Day!

I was scheduled to run in Wave 3, which started at 5:42am (yep you read that right). So my alarm was set for 2:45 to eat breakfast. I got up, ate my Picky Bars and banana. And then back to bed. I didn’t need 3 hours to get ready, so I set my alarm for 4am and tried to sleep. I didn’t really, but it was nice to relax a little more anyway. Once it was really time to get up, I quickly got dressed and headed out. When I got to the street there was a car that appeared to have been crushed by a ton of concrete. I was so confused… how did I sleep through this?! Turns out they were filming a movie about an earthquake outside our hotel (according to the internet The Rock will be in it). It looked pretty legit. Then I jogged down to the start (yep I had a warm up mile before my marathon). By the time I found the ambassador tent, I was pretty warm. I only brought a few things in my gear check (asthma inhaler, Immodium, hotel key, long sleeve… wish I would have brought some sweatpants and flip-flops but I never really plan well for post race). I met up with old friends, including Alisyn who I missed at the expo, and met some of the ambassadors. I also caught up with Erin S. and Sarah. Erin S. and I had talked over Strava about starting the race together since we had similar goals. I was glad to find her as we hadn’t really made any real meet up plans. Then it was time for the Wave 2 runners to hop into their corral. A few minutes later, Erin S., Sarah, and I decided to look for the 3:35 pacers as that was where we all wanted to start. We found them quickly but didn’t realize that they were in Wave 2 (Wave 3 was for 3:35-4 hour marathoners). We asked them about it and said they would start with Wave 3. Well, then the race started and we were off at 5:30. I was happy to get going earlier, no time for race nerves to undermine me… but it also meant that I was starting 12 minutes earlier than I told the hubs and I worried he would miss me at the finish. I had no phone and no way of telling him.

The first few miles were easy, breezy. We stuck with the pacers, told some jokes and had a good time. I was glad to start off with some friendly faces as I typically run with others and I knew it would make it feel more like a long run than a race, and it kept me from getting in my head too much. I also paid no attention to my watch, I never once looked at the overall time in the entire race, I trusted the pacers to do the math and let myself just run by feel. As we headed into our first climb, we joked “it’s getting a little boring, what do you say we climb a hill?” This was the way we approached the first couple of climbs… until we hit mile 11, which has several good hills, we started to call them speed bumps to keep ourselves relaxed. When we were climbing a Presidio hill, we looked to our right and saw the sun rising over Alactraz – so beautiful!  And soon we at the beginning of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Miles 1-6 (from Strava’s miles as I missed a ton of mile markers and didn’t get all the splits): 8:11, 8:09, 8:20, 8:00, 8:07, 9:02 (hill climb much?)

Photo from fellow SFM ambassador Stan's FB

Photo from fellow SFM ambassador Stan’s FB

We all knew that the Bridge is a false flat… meaning it looks flat but you’re climbing that sucker. But the Bridge is my favorite part and not just because it’s beautiful. I love this part because we get to see so many of the other runners. We cheered on the winners who looked strong and fast. We saw Chris and Erin G. rocking their races and Albert doing a great job of pacing. On our way back over the bridge, I saw so many friends running, it was awesome! I just missing cheering for Jordan (but girl, know that I totally screamed for you!), so I’m not sure if she heard me, but definitely had a cheer fest with Alisyn, Paulette, and Wes. Then we were over the bridge and heading toward mile 10. I remembered from last year’s half marathon that I trashed my quads by screaming down hill only to push through the punishing hills of mile 11. I told the girls, I was going to be conservative and take it easy downhill, and they agreed. And while the following hills were hard, they didn’t feel nearly as difficult as they did last year. So my plan worked and I survived what I think is really the most difficult climbing in the race. We then headed into Golden Gate Park. I knew fellow SCE team member and friend Sam would be somewhere around my mile 13 or 14 as she was running the Second Half. When I saw her, I was stoked. I knew I felt good still and strong. I totally waved like a crazy person at her and she, with her friend Jill, cheered for me. I love that feeling. Sam also sent a video of my craziness to the hubs and some friends. Now we just had to get through the park.
Miles 7-14: 8:11, 8:03, 8:16, 8:04, 8:00, 8:21, 8:25, 7:48

Coming off the bridge

Coming off the bridge

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Golden Gate Park is deceiving because you’re in it for 6 miles and it’s full of rolling hills. I have only run in there a handful of times, but Erin S. and Sarah run it often and knew the hardest hills. For a while we had been about 30 seconds to a minute ahead of the 3:35 pacers, but in the park they caught back up with us. At this point we had some goals: we had gotten Sarah through miles 11-12, that she had dreaded and now we focused on pushing Erin S. through mile 15 (a spot that had been hard for her at Boston this year). We encouraged each other, Sarah and Erin S. sang some songs that my running brain could not recognize, and Erin S. told jokes when we climbed. Soon enough we were through mile 15 and our next goal was to get through the park. Unfortunately, Sarah fell behind here (but don’t worry she still scored a PR at the race, which was only her 2nd marathon – rock star!). We got out of the park and headed toward Haight, and some nice downhills. We ran through some awesome bubbles in that stretch and didn’t let Erin S. go home (she lives near the 20 mile mark). I also had my fastest mile in this stretch.

Miles 15-21: 8:12, 7:49, 8:21, 7:32, 7:45, 7:54, 7:42.

In the park (I think?)

In the park – all smiles

Final stretch! I told Erin S. that mile 22 was my beast to overcome. It’s where I really felt apart at Santa Rosa and started walking. She and one of the pacers both said we’d get through it, and I told the pacer that he better even if he had to tie a rope to me and pull me. Even though there are a few little climbs beginning in mile 22, I actually felt ok. I started mentally telling myself things like “only 36 minutes left, you can do this” (assuming I was running way slower than I was). We were quieter in these final miles, but still encouraged each other. Around mile 24, a police tried to stop us to get an emergency vehicle through. We stopped, briefly, it wasn’t ready to go so we decided to sprint through the intersection. Not a fun forced stop but I hope they reached the emergency safely. I had never dreamed I would be at this point in a marathon. I really thought I would slow down and end up closer to my previous marathon PR (3:42). (Despite how many times Leslie told me I was going to BQ this weekend! She knew better than I did!) Erin S. said something about how we were about to qualify for Boston but I didn’t believe her. It seemed so unreal. We cruised up to AT&T Park and I told myself it was only about 10 minutes left, I could do anything for 10 minutes. At some point we eeked a little ahead of the pacers (who BTW did a great job! They reminded us to keep our shoulders down and run by effort on the hills). I never really felt terrible in the race but in that last mile, I REALLY wanted to see that finish line. I started scanning the crowds around mile 25 for the hubs, but I feared that since I started early and was ending close to my unrealistic earliest finish time, he was going to miss me at the end (he was probably walking just by the finish as I crossed). And then there was the finish, I had been dragging a little but told Erin S. “let’s do this” and forced a little sprint to the end. Official finish time: 3:33:49 (age group: 13, gender: 63, overall: 560). This is a 9 minute PR. And a Boston Qualifier. On a course with nearly 1000 feet of climbing. What!?! And by the way, running a full marathon and BQing is a fast way to secure a bond with someone, so a special awesome thanks and high-five to my BQ BFF, Erin S.!
Miles 22-26.2: 7:52, 8:03, 8:13, 7:55, 7:51 (last .2, or .5 if you’re my Garmin, was a 7:13 pace).

So close to the finish!

So close to the finish!

Done!!

Done!!

Post race excitement with amazing runners: Erin S. my BQ BFF, me, Erin G. (speedy and 3rd in her age group), Taryn who ran her 35th marathon by 35, and Sarah with a sweet new PR.

Post race excitement with amazing runners: Erin S. my BQ BFF, me, Erin G. speedy and 3rd in her age group, Taryn who ran her 35th marathon by 35, and Sarah with a sweet new PR. (photo cred: Erin G.)

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After the finish, I borrowed Erin S.’s phone to text the hubs and tell him I had finished… yep he just missed me. He was bummed he had missed me and I was too, but he had been there to support me and even if he didn’t see me at the end, that was still awesome. I didn’t hang out for long, I was smelly and sweaty and wanted a shower and a Coke. The hubs and I headed back to the hotel, with a stop for that Coke. They were still filming the movie but we were able to easily get to the hotel and I hopped in the shower. Soon we were heading home with a long pit stop for my traditional post-race In N Out feast (this time with 2 grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, and a strawberry shake). I was exhausted but soo happy! I spent the rest of the day responding to congrats texts (thanks friends!), checking in with the coach who totally provided the perfect training for this race, and hanging out in the compression boots.

Sweet celebratory gift from Leslie :)

Sweet celebratory gift from Leslie :)

Erin G. loves to call running goals unicorns (like, you know, the mascot for the Boston Marathon) and I had been chasing this unicorn since December 2012. It was one I that started to feel was unattainable and to have it happen in SF, with such amazing people around me (and virtually supporting me in Santa Cruz and my parents in So Cal), was the best way I could have ever caught this unicorn!

Doing the Tourist Thing in Santa Cruz

On Monday, my best friend and Maid of Honor in my wedding, drove down with her family to spend a few days visiting us in the Cruz. I have known Monica since I was 14 years old and even though we only live 2 1/2 hours apart, it had been forever since we had last hung out and this was the first time she and her fam had made it to Santa Cruz. And we had jam-packed activities, including things I rarely do in my town.

On Monday we took the Santa Cruz Trolley from downtown to the Boardwalk. (Have you ridden it yet? It’s only a quarter and takes you from downtown to the Boardwalk and vice versa. It runs every 15 minutes on the weekends and 20 minutes on weekdays. Four year old Andrew said it was his favorite ride!)

Selfie on the Trolley with the Davis fam

Selfie on the Trolley with the Davis fam

After we got to the Boardwalk, we alternated adult riding duties for a variety of rides including the Giant Dipper, the Looff Carousel, Undertow, the ferris wheel and some kiddie rides (including the super weird Cave Train Adventure…). The kids had some good Boardwalk food and ice cream. The Boardwalk has lots of $1 options on Mondays and Tuesdays, so you can be pretty frugal even with 3 kids in tow. Then we dragged some super tired kids back downtown to meet my hubs for dinner at Betty’s.

Selfie on the Cave Train ... before entering the Cave

Selfie on the Cave Train … before entering the Cave

Tuesday we had another full day. This time we drove down to the Boardwalk to hop on the Roaring Camp Railroad. Even though I live along the train route and have been in Santa Cruz for nearly 5 years, this was the first time I had ridden the train. It takes about an hour to get from the beach to Roaring Camp (just outside Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park). And the hubs even came out with the pups to wave as we passed our house. That was pretty awesome of him to do! At the Camp, we got some lunch and toured the shop, blacksmith spot, the printing press (with some questionable “history” given to the kids…), and then walked across the tracks to take the small redwoods loop in Henry Cowells. I thought this was way more fun than the actual Camp since the kids could run around a bit more and it’s just so pretty.

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Looking up at the redwoods

Looking up at the redwoods

After we rode the train back, we changed into our swimsuits and headed to the beach. Sadly, I think this was the first time I’d actually hung out at the beach this year (except for taking the pups down for a walk). It was great weather and we hung out for a few hours to wear out the kiddos and catch up with each other. Then it was back to the house.

Last week, my parents surprised the hubs and I by getting us an early anniversary gift: a Weber grill! And it was perfect timing since Monica was coming up and we got to grill up some salmon and burgers. Monica made some good sides and it was a perfect dinner. Add in some good beers and it was a perfect end to the day.

Grilling up!

Grilling up!

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is always a good choice!

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is always a good choice!

Wednesday morning Monica’s family packed up and headed out. I was sad to see them go, but I think they’ll be back in Santa Cruz again soon!

This weekend I’ll be missing out on another Santa Cruz local treasure: the annual Wharf to Wharf race. (I’m running the San Francisco Marathon, which sadly falls on the same day). But you can keep up with the race and get a great recap from my friend’s brand new blog: laps.lunges.leather.  (I’m so excited for Leslie to be joining the blogging community!) Check out her first post on her expectations and history with Wharf to Wharf.

What’s your favorite “tourist” activity in your town? Are you racing Wharf to Wharf or SFM this weekend?

Revisiting the Run in the Name of Love 5k

A little over a week ago, I was thinking about what a fun time I had at the Run in the Name Love 5k when I ran it with Elise in 2012. I realized it was happening again this year on June 15 and when I emailed my running coach my recap of my week’s running, I asked him what he thought of me throwing it into my schedule. He said he thought I was in good shape (could possibly even PR) but I would have to finish up my week’s long run after the race (I was used to that … yep, this training cycle has now included 3 long runs that have had a race thrown in the middle of them). Awesome! I hit up my friend Hillary to see if she might want to come down and run the 5k too, she’s not been training for races but I thought it would be fun to go to Carmel together and I knew she’d be game to add 8 miles after the race (she’s crazy like that). Yep, she was in – so I hopped online and paid the measly $35 registration fee.

Sunday morning, Hillary and I headed down to Carmel. I picked up my bib (and long sleeve tech tee) while Hillary registered. We then hung out in the car for 15 minutes or so since it was a little chilly and we didn’t want to warm up too soon before the race. We also saw John H. (fellow SCE runner and running cartoonist). Then we ran 2 miles for a warm up, I ran a few strides, we hopped in the port-a-potties, and had about 2 minutes before the race started – perfect!

Long sleeve (and medal)

Long sleeve (and medal)

For the race, I turned off the auto lap (and since there were no mile markers, I don’t have true splits – just what Strava marked as my miles). My only real concern with this race was that I would take the first mile way too fast as it is a steady downhill (in 2012 I ran a 6:11 mile here and then lost all steam, slowing to an 8+ min/mile in the end). And yep, I was flying in the first mile. I saw lots of women (and men) pass me, but when I glanced at my watch I knew I shouldn’t go any faster. My first mile was 6:08! I knew I should stay around 6:45 for the rest of the race, but I didn’t look at my pace ever (a few times I glanced at my watch in the second half of the race but only looked at mileage).

After the first 1.5 mile, there is a little climb. It’s very small, maybe only 20-30 feet. But after cruising downhill it feels like more. I passed a few women up this little climb. There was one woman who had been glancing back at me trying to keep ahead. I told myself to hold back and pass her later but I ended up passing her on this speed bump. There was a handful of women directly ahead of me and I passed most of them except a speedy girl who looked about 12 or 13 (she rocked the race and ended up taking 3rd woman!). My second mile was a much more reasonable pace: 6:49. The rest of the course has some little rollers but I held on to my pace, slowing down just a few seconds: 6:55. My final tenth of a mile was at a 6:07 pace. As I came up the finish I knew I was finishing under 21 minutes(!) but wasn’t sure of my exact time because just like at Carlsbad I didn’t actually stop my watch right away.

photo 4

Close up of medal

I took my medal and food bag. While I didn’t think my results would be posted yet, I was surprised to find they were (nice work SVE Timing!). I saw my official time was 20:56 (a few second faster than I thought!), that I had finished 1st in my age group, and 4th woman overall. I had no idea that I was going to finish in the top 10 women let alone the top 5! This was also a 9 second PR, only 2 1/2 months after my last 5k PR. I was STOKED! I then met up with Hillary. We decided to start our 8 mile “cool down” by jogging back to the car and dropping off the goody bags/medals and getting a long sleeve.

Hillary & I on the podium (and a 2nd place runner who we didn't know - but congrats to her too!)

Hillary & I on the podium (and a 2nd place runner who we didn’t know – but congrats to her too!) Photo credit: John H.

We then ran part of the course back to make it back just as they were starting the awards. We also found out that Hillary placed 3rd in our age group and we both got the cool beer mugs as prizes. Because it was misty and cold, we took off right after our awards to continue our run before cooling down but later I learned that John H. also placed 3rd in his age group! Nice work Team SCE! We finished the run off by going back to the car to drop off the mugs and then running some of 17 mile drive and exploring part of a new trail. This meant we ended up running 794 feet in elevation after the race (thankfully we ran pretty slow!). We finished up our morning with some coffee and quiche at Carmel Coffee Roasters. Pretty sweet race morning.

This is definitely a race I recommend running if you live in the Central Coast. The race is a tribute race and co-organized by Big Sur. It is extremely well-organized. For $35, it included a closed course, a long sleeve tech tee, a timing chip, a medal, and a food bag with a bagel and cream cheese, cookie, and fruit cup (I’ve paid more for longer races and not received that). The tech tee was a bit large (but they acknowledged that and it sounds like it won’t be a problem in the future). Additionally, the timing is well done and its relatively small, capped at 1000 runners. They had plenty of port-a-potties and I never saw a line for them. They even had a potty around 2ish miles in the race – rare for a 5k! The event also includes a 2k walk/run, and participants of the 2k are invited to bring their pups (they even get a free dog bandana, how cute!). And the beer glass is a great prize, I used it later that day!

Cheers to a fun race prize!

Cheers to a fun race prize!

Do you run 5ks? What is your favorite one?