Everyone Explores Cemeteries on Their Recovery Runs, Right?

Today was one of those days I was really bummed I didn’t bring my phone with me on my run.

After a speedy race yesterday (recap coming soon), I initially planned to take today as a rest day. But as I was driving to work and my legs ached, I remembered how every time I take a rest day after a hard run, my legs are more sore and tired. So I texted my running gal Hillary (who conveniently lives up the street) to see if she wanted to run an easy 4-5 miler this afternoon. Yep, she did. And she wanted to know if I wanted to run the hilly loop through part of Pogonip (about 900 feet of climbing in 5 miles). Yep I did.

I think sometimes running trails and hills are a great way to recover (I also did this after my Wharf to Wharf PR last year). You’re forced to run super slow (which is good) but you’re still building endurance and strength. Win win. We climbed up the trail and were treated to a great view of all of Santa Cruz, out to the Boardwalk. It was such a clear afternoon (this is when I wanted my phone super bad for photo ops – one day I’ll remember). We saw some deer chilling in the meadow and made our way back down the path.

This loops passes by an old cemetery in Santa Cruz that I’ve always wanted to explore. I mentioned it to Hillary and crazy lady that she is, she was in. I love looking at old cemeteries where they tell stories about the people buried there (name, wife/son of …, years, months, and even days old). A long time ago when Kevin and I went to New York City, we spent some of our trip looking at crazy old cemeteries. It was kind of awesome (and at the time more important, it was cheap). One of my favorite vacations ever.

Anyway, this one is the Evergreen Cemetery, it dates back to 1850. I’ll have to pick to chat with my friend who does local history to learn some more. But it has some old graves as well as Chinese memorial were the graves of past Chinese immigrants and the inhabitants of the city’s old Chinatowns are buried. Like I said, no camera but I found these photos on the google machine.

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Beautiful right?

Do you explore old cemeteries? Do you run after hard workouts?

My First Ragnar Relay: Team AfterNUUNRun

I honestly have no idea how to recap the Ragnar Relay. I have thought about how to sum up my Ragnar experience in one blog post for the past 2 days. And I’m still not sure how to do it, but here goes (and yep… it’s long).

This was my first relay race (well the kind of relay that needs vans and lasts more than a day). As I’ve mentioned on previous posts, this was sponsored by Nuun (race entry), The SF Marathon (vans), Skechers Pro (shoes), Gametiime (shirts), FitSok (socks), and Zensah (compression sleeves). And it was all organized by Chris (thanks so much!). He put together an awesome group of SFM Ambassadors (you can read all about our team members here). I had known about the race for a while and looked forward to it, but other than reading one of Paulette‘s posts on a previous relay experience, I didn’t do any real research. In other words, I had no idea what to expect.

I had been in SoCal for a week when relay Friday finally arrived. After being dropped off at the hotel, I connected with the other members of van 2. I had met all of them before (Alisyn, Paulette, Bruce, and Matt) except Miriam. I knew it would be a great group. We decorated the van and then headed to exchange 6 where we did our safety training and picked up our gear. Then lunch. Then waiting…

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Around 6ish (our wave started at 12:45) we were ready to begin. And we got to see the other half of team (minus Chris who was racing his leg). I had met Keith, Wes, and Erin before and got to meet Jordan and Kristina for the first time IRL. After Alisyn and I rocked out to Bohemian Rhapsody (and the rest of our team slowly backed away from us), Chris came back in and our first runner was out. Insanity began.

AfterNUUNRun ladies (minus Jordan) at Exchange 6

AfterNUUNRun ladies (minus Jordan) at Exchange 6

Pretty much the whole team is waiting for Chris :)

Pretty much the whole team waiting for Chris :)

Goofin' off at Exchange 6

Goofin’ off at Exchange 6

We darted to each exchange, which were a bit haphazard and poorly organized. But soon enough, it was my turn to race. I had gotten a little nervous about my first night leg. I wasn’t scared to run in the dark since I do that often, but my course included a long section on a “horse and walking trail,” which I took to mean as unpaved (read tripping hazard). Alisyn volunteered Matt (her fiance) to run with me since he’s training for Western states. I was really glad I had him with me. Even through it ended up being a paved trail, I only saw 4 other runners the entire time, one of which ended up running with us for a couple miles. But there was also a random guy on a bridge and we were off the streets for most of the run. There was also one spot where I was half convinced we missed the route (we didn’t)! Save for a couple of street lights, it was a fast leg. I ended up running a 7:18 pace (my fastest on all the legs) and felt good enough to chat with Matt for most of the run. Since there few other runners, I only had 3 roadkills on this leg. Before I knew it, I was handing off to our next runner (although in the dark I could barely pick out Bruce from all the rest of the runners).

Waiting for Paulette's first leg

Waiting for Paulette’s first leg

Bruce’s leg was a short two miles, so we raced to the next exchange. This time, I joined Alisyn in her night run. She hasn’t run much in the dark and was nervous about night blindness. I was happy to join her on her leg since she had found me a buddy for mine. Her leg was the same distance as my first one (6.7 miles) but had a lot more climbing (823 feet!). But she did great and man, she rocks the downhills (I had to work hard to keep up!). Her leg led us into the Dana Point Harbor (would have been gorgeous if it was light out). Then our van got a break. Paulette and I were starving and there was a Carl’s Jr. I had a Diet Coke and a big order of fries (carbs & salt? yes please!). My stomach had been hurting, this didn’t really help but it tasted great at the time. Then we drove down to Oceanside for the next big exchange.

With lights & vests before Alisyn's leg.

With lights & vests before Alisyn’s leg.

Exchange 12 was at the Oceanside Pier and what apparently is now known as the Junior Seau Amphitheater. I had forgotten my sleeping bag, so I slept in the car with the ladies while the guys camped out on the beach. I got about 2, 2 1/2 hours of sleep. Eh. When I checked my phone I saw that Van 1 was making up massive time on their legs and would be at the exchange faster than expected. So we rushed to get ready and Matt at the handoff from Chris. When Chris came in we had to tell him we hadn’t seen Van 1 yet, but we figured they were parking. (nope). We headed off to inland Oceanside and when we got there, we saw Van 1. We were shocked … and then we realized (at apparently about the same time they did) that they had gone to wrong exchange. We waved as they piled into the van to go back and get Chris!

O'side

O’side

My next leg was the one I was looking forward to the most. It was only 2.1 miles, so I had hoped to be really speedy (and I knew there was a good downhill) and it ended at my high school (go Longhorns!). Well, the course was more hilly than I remembered (nearly 300 feet, a decent amount for just 2 miles) and I caught 2 red lights (boo!). I ended up being about a minute slower than expected. Despite this, I still had 10 roadkills (pretty good for 2 miles). I barely got to realize I was at my high school before we were off to the next stop.

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After Alisyn’s 2nd leg, exchange 18

The next major exchange was at TaylorMade in Carlsbad, less than a mile from where the hubs and I used to live. We didn’t spend much time there, we were hungry. We decided to head down south a bit and catch breakfast at Denny’s in Encinitas (yes, I know there are SOOO many good breakfast places in Encinitas but time and cheap breakfast were the priorities). I was excited about a real bathroom and for the first time actually changed all of my clothes (as opposed to just a shirt) and brushed my teeth! That was the best. I ordered a bunch of eggs and toast to calm my upset stomach (it seemed to work but took some time) and had a nice cup of black coffee. We saw two other teams there before we left for the next big exchange at Torrey Pines Hang Gliding park.

Catching up with fellow SFM ambassador Heather

Catching up with fellow SFM ambassador Heather

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I hung in the van for a bit when we got there because I was tired and my stomach still hurt. But eventually I found my way to the rest of my group, who were enjoying the amazing views (and not noticing how close we were to Blacks Beach…) At this exchange, we ran into fellow SFM Ambassador Heather and my fellow Fleet Feet team member, Erica. And then it was off for morning running on a beautiful, sunny day. My leg went around Mission Bay. (It wasn’t great to be able to see the exchange way on the other side at mile 3!) I am glad I got to run this in the day as it was so pretty. The leg was described as “very hard” but save for a couple flights of stairs, it was really flat. The hardest part was the final mile, which was straight into a pretty strong headwind. I ended up with 31 roadkills and a strong need to change into non-sweaty clothes (thankfully I changed quickly and was able to do so before we moved to the next exchange). It took me an hour to run my final 7.5 miles but I had completed just about 23 miles at this point, so I was ok with it.

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Last handoff to Bruce at Mission Bay

Last handoff to Bruce at Mission Bay

The final legs weaved through the nicest parts of San Diego and the race ended at the harbor behind the San Diego Convention Center. I can see why they picked this location: stunning view and lots of parking. But it is also one of the busiest parts of SD on a sunny, spring day during rolling spring break, with tons of Ragnar runners. So basically a big ol’ mess of traffic. After sitting in it for a while, most of our van’s runners jumped out to meet the rest of the team and run in with our final runner, Alisyn. But I was exhausted so I hung with Matt who was driving. We met up with the rest of the group and posed for a finish line photo :) We ended up finishing 8th of the 510 mixed regular teams and 24th overall (720 teams). Not too shabby! Then it was time for beers!

Finish!

Finish!

This was a crazy experience and there were things I loved and didn’t love about it all.

Loves: I loved running through the area. The course wove through places where I had lived in college, where the hubs grew up, where I grew up, and where we had lived together. I had a story for each community for my van (whether they wanted to hear it or not). I also loved being a part of a team and running as a group. I loved my team, even those in van 1 I didn’t spend nearly as much time with. And we had a pretty chill van and that was nice. And I liked racking up all those miles so quickly!

Not So Great: I didn’t like that I didn’t get to spend much time with the other van. It’s kind of unavoidable but it almost felt like 2 teams instead of one. I was also really confused about how they described each legs of the race. My hilliest run was rated the easiest and my most flat run the hardest. I’d like it if Ragnar provided an explanation of how they determined course difficulty to better prepare for the runs. I also thought in the “trail” sections they should have put up some floodlights and I’d think more signage would be awesome. I also really like sleep, so not having much of it was not fun for me.

I’m not sure if I’ll run a relay race again. But then again, the Calistoga to Santa Cruz Relay seems pretty tempting…

My favorite part!

My favorite part!

(thanks to all the team members for the photos :) )

 

Fit Friday: Ragnar is Finally Here!

So as I posted several times already, but this year I’m running my first Ragnar Relay. And I’m stoked to be running it with some amazing people (twitter handles in our running order: @keithschlottman, @Kpez019, @jordanpwight, @runwithwes, @erinamg, @chrismalenab, @UltraMilesMatt, @paulettezf, @arielmk, me: @megatha, @tucsonstrider, and @alisyng). As you’re reading this, I’m heading up to Huntington Beach to meet up with them all and decorate the vans. Can’t wait!

Days away from Ragnar!

It’s Ragnar Weekend!

We are super lucky to have amazing sponsors supporting us on our journey of 195ish miles to San Diego. And I have to thank them and sing their praises:

Nuun: Our main sponsor, hence the name afternuunrun. If you haven’t tried their water tablets yet, you should! They are my favorite electrolyte and come in lots of tasty flavors. They add a little carbonation, but not too much, and have a light refreshing flavor. I always travel with several tubes and my favorite nuun water bottle.

The SF Marathon: Yep, my favorite marathon is sponsoring our team! So cool, right? I love how much they support their ambassadors and are helping us out. And if you some crazy person and haven’t yet registered for the SF Marathon (or one of the half marathons or 5k), you can do so using our Ragnar discount code: DSC10RAGNAR14

Skechers Performance: Skechers supplied our team with our running shoes. We got them about a month back and I’ve been running in them a lot. I love these shoes. Seriously, I didn’t know what I would I think but they have made into my regular rotation of shoes and I know they will be a go to for a while. They are comfy and lightweight. I have been running in the GoRun3.

gametiime: I’ve just recently started using this site and think it’s great. In the West and Northeast you can find out about upcoming races on one easy to use site. It’s so much easier than anything else out there or just googling.

Fitsok: We all need good running socks, right? Enough said :)

Zensah: A little compression to help us survive all this running in 36ish hours.

Thanks so much to each of these sponsors for sending us goodies and supporting our team.

So much stuff!

So much stuff!

So as I get ready to run my first relay, other than having fun, what advice to you have for me?? What’s your favorite part about a relay race?

The Carlsbad 5000 – World’s Fastest 5k

*warning: long recap… I guess I needed to make up for my lack of posts lately*

Those of you who keep up with my blog know that I am running the Ragnar So Cal on Friday April 4. After I confirmed that this worked in my schedule and joined the team, I learned that was the same week as my spring break and I would be lucky enough to spend the whole week in So Cal visiting my parents and seeing a couple close, old friends. So then I decided to look and see if my favorite 5k (this was also my first race ever) might fit into my schedule and lucky me, the Carlsbad 5000 was scheduled for Sunday, March 30. So yep, I had to sign up.

Days away from Ragnar!

Days away from Ragnar!

I originally planned on running this just for fun. It’s a fast course (I mean it’s not called the World’s Fastest 5k for nothing, the men’s and women’s world records were made there), but I hadn’t considered training for a 5k. The beginning of 2014 I was still reeling from some slower races and didn’t have speed goals in mind (see my posts about running goals here, here, and here). But then I had a great couple of races and PR’ed at the Super Bowl 10k. So I emailed my coach and asked him what he thought about training for the race and trying to PR (granted I gave him 5 weeks…). He said this was a short time and it would be hard training but it was possible. So I decided, why not? I didn’t tell anyone that my goal was a PR at this race and only let a few people know that I was throwing in some speed work for this race. I didn’t want to race for anyone else, I wanted my goals to be my goals alone. And I think this worked out well.

March training schedule

March training schedule

Five weeks later and I was ready to race. My mom and I did a quick trip to the expo on Saturday. It was way less crowded then 2012. And I was stoked to see Graced by Grit there! The hubs, my parents, and the coach all told me not to stress about this race and to keep as relaxed as possible. (All my best races have been ones I have not thought of as “A” races and so I’m usually pretty chill about them.) I told myself my only goal was to beat my most recent Carlsbad 5k time (2012: 23:35). Of course, my real goal was a PR and ideally a sub 21. But by focusing on my 2012 time, I took the stress off myself.  I woke up about 30 minutes before we were leaving and tried to keep calm. My stomach had other plans. Boo.

Fleet Feet Racing Kit ready to go (plus my awesome sports bra from Graced by Grit)

Fleet Feet Racing Kit ready to go (plus my awesome sports bra from Graced by Grit)

We got to Carlsbad and I did an easy warm up with a little bit of speed. Nothing fancy. After tracking down the port a potties, I left my long sleeve and sweats with my parents and headed to the start. Right before the race started, I saw Haute Running Mama (HRM). It was great chatting with her a few minutes for the race and this also kept me from freaking out. She was doing the all-day run (Carlsbad 5k has 6 waves: Men’s Masters, Women’s Masters, Men & Women 30-39, Men & Women 29 & Under, Women’s Elite, & Men’s Elite and they have an event that allows runners to run in all waves except the elites) and used this as part of her last long run before Boston (so exciting!). Before I knew it, it was go time!

My first mile felt good. Of course I started too fast, but it’s hard when you are surrounded by so many fasties. I saw my pace in the high 5 minute range and pulled way back – I was looking for 6:45-6:50 for that first mile (actual 6:44). After the turn around, there is a slight climb and we were running into the headwind. I tried to keep my pace right on but slowed down a hair (6:48). The last half mile or so is a nice little decline and now I also had a tailwind. Throughout the race my mouth was dry and my stomach didn’t feel great. I kept telling myself it’s supposed to hurt so just go.

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Rounding the corner about to finish.

Just about half a mile from the finish, HRM saw me across the way and yelled for me to keep going. This totally helped and I picked it up. I passed a few women (had Jenn in mind here saying “you can catch her!”) and came into the finish (6:42 pace, not sure of actual time as I messed up my watch at the end). As I came down toward the finish I saw the clock said 20:5X and I thought maybe if I really push it I can pull into under 21 (not knowing exactly how far off from the gun start I was – it ended up being a 5 second difference). After I crossed the finish like, I hit lap but not stop on my watch and didn’t realize it right away. Once I stopped it, I had a time of 21:17, which was definitely a PR but I wasn’t sure what my real finish time was. I later found out it was 21:05 (in the top 250 for the unique medal, 27th in my age group of 266, and 53rd woman of our wave of 755 – pretty good!).

Post race

Post race

After my race and a little cool down run, my parents and I hung around to see the elites race. This was really fun and they are so FAST! We also got to see the Men’s American 5k record broken! Bernard Lagat ran a 13:18 race, breaking the whole record of 13:24 (from 1996!). Then a little brunch and mimosas at Swami’s to finish up the morning.

Women's Elite

Women’s Elite

Men's Elite

Men’s Elite

Brunch

Brunch

It was really great to run this race and have my parents there. They have been to several of my races but never one where I felt I did my best, so I was happy to share that with them. I felt like I raced strong and smart. And I know that I can definitely train for a sub-21 :D

Pretty sweet medal and shirt this year :)

Pretty sweet medal and shirt this year :)

Anyone else run the Carlsbad 5000? Any new PRs?

Fit Friday: Checking in with Goals

You might recall back in the beginning of the year, I wrote in my first Fit Friday of 2014 about some of my running goals. Mostly, I wanted to include more trails and more hills in my runs. So I thought now that we are in Spring and just about done with the third month of the year, it would be a good time to check with those goals.

Hills: I’m proud to say that I have really been rocking this goal! I have included hills on least one (usually more) of my runs each week. I’ve been adding the run up to UCSC as part of my track workout as well. (And you know what hills are good for? Training for the SF Marathon! don’t forget to register and save $10 using this code: DSC10TSFM2014A59)
So hills – check!

Elevation from my weekly track workouts

Elevation from my weekly track workouts

Year to date stats, I love seeing all that elevation gain (I know it pales in comparison to my ultra runner friends, but I'm still proud!)

Year to date stats, I love seeing all that elevation gain (I know it pales in comparison to my ultra runner friends, but I’m still proud!)

Trails: Ok, I haven’t been as successful with this goal. My last trail run was at the beginning of February (eek!). So gotta get back on that goal for sure. I am running in the Wilder trails a bit tomorrow so that will be a good thing. Trails can be a little tough when all your training buddies are focused on Boston (or until last weekend LA), and are looking to get in MP miles. And I don’t run trails by myself. But I’m not letting this goal go, so don’t you worry!

Requisite motivational quote :)

Requisite motivational quote :)

How are your running goals coming along as we move into the second quarter of 2014?