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!

When Running Does More

If you read this blog regularly (ok let’s face it, even if this is your first visit here – Welcome!) you know I’m a runner and I do it because I love it. It’s a great way to keep in shape and to release that competitive spirit. But sometimes, you can do a little more with all those steps on the pavement, trails, track, or treadmill.

This past week I finally participated in the Mizuno Baton project. Have you heard of it? It’s an app you download on your phone (both for iPhone & Android users). You run with your phone for a week and it tracks your mileage. For each mile you run, Mizuno is donating a dollar to Back on My Feet. Back on My Feet gets homeless people running:

Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living.

The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many Members obtaining independence through employment, job training and housing.

Through dedication and hard work, Residential Members (those experiencing homelessness) earn the opportunity to create a new road for themselves.   Running leads to personal transformation and dedication to the program leads to access to training, employment and housing resources.  Through community and corporate support, the program strives to change the perception of homelessness.

I love that Mizuno is doing this. And after your week, you can “pass the baton” to another runner – spreading the charitable love!

My week with Baton is just about up!

My week with Baton is just about up!

And of course, there are others ways to do something charitable with running. The most common is to fundraise for a race. Team in Training is probably the most well-known way to do this. If you’ve run a race, you have seen these awesome guys and gals in purple who have raised a significant chunk of cash to benefit the  Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. But there are other ways too.

For example, for the third year in a row, The SF Marathon has opened 100 spots for runners to run 52.4 miles (yep, that’s the equivalent of two marathons, runners run the marathon course backwards before the actual marathon and then join in to run it again!). Those who participate in this extra long race, raise at least $1000 for the charity of their choice. No, I’m not doing this but I know someone who is and is donating to a cause that is near and dear to my heart: helping animals! Pavement Runner is a dog lover like me and is raising money for the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And not only is he doing this, he’s making it fun for those who help him along the way. You can win a HALO belt or pair of ProCompression socks if you donate. Pretty awesome right? To donate & enter the raffle go HERE. To just donate to the cause go HERE.

Photo courtesy of TSFM website

Photo courtesy of TSFM website

Do you run for charity? What other ways do you think runners could help support causes important to us?

 

Breaking the 1:40 in the Half Marathon

Well, it’s crazy but I just ran another PR race. 2014 is gonna be hard to top!

I had signed up for the Santa Cruz Half Marathon a long time ago, wanting to make up for not running it last year. I have run this race twice before, it was my first half marathon, and it a course I really like – along West Cliff where I typically do my tempo runs and mile repeats and then out to the Wilder Bluffs, which is just a stunning view. Seeing all the runners along the bluffs in one the best sights in Santa Cruz (clearly a runner’s bias!). Anyway, there was a little part of me that thought maybe I can PR at this course. That part of me got louder after the Lucky Run where I didn’t officially PR but would have if not for a bathroom break. However, I also knew that I was aiming for a PR at the 5k and would be running Ragnar the week before this race, so a half PR was a little unrealistic.

Start line

Start line

After the Carlsbad 5000 and Ragnar, my legs did feel tired and stiff. This was worsened by an 8 hour drive home the day after Ragnar. I did some 800s on the track on Monday and was pretty happy with them and thought “well maybe, if my legs feel fresh, I’ll try for that PR.” But I also knew my new buddy & co-TSFM ambassador and Ragnar teammate Erin was serving as the 1:45 pacer so I could just run with her and have some fun. All week I was unsure, my legs never felt completely rested but I didn’t feel destroyed either. I literally waffled back and forth on my race plans until the second the gun went off (and maybe for a few more miles).

1:45 pacer extraordinaire, Erin!

1:45 pacer extraordinaire, Erin!

Sunday morning I jogged down to the start line with Hillary (she wasn’t racing but wanted to come down with me before she headed out for her run). We stopped by the Santa Cruz Endurance/Santa Cruz Running Company tent at the finish line and said hello to our teammates, most of whom were running the 10k with the exception of Julie (who I somehow missed seeing all day) and Selena who was also running the half (and had a massive PR!). Selena had a 1:46 PR before so I had suggested that she run with Erin to get a 1:45. She was a little unsure due to some shin splints and lack of loads of speed training. But when we lined up, she was right next to me and Erin. At this point, I figured I would start out with the 1:45ers and pick it up if I felt good.

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Gun goes off, and there I go – ahead of the 1:45ers (and for about a mile ahead of the 1:40 pace group). After a little hiccup, I switched my watch’s screen from the mile/pace to the clock screen (and until the last mile I never checked my splits/pace). I kept the 1:40 group within sight and tried to just stay comfortable. I didn’t want to go all crazy just to run out of steam in the first miles. Selena shocked me by showing up right next to me! She ran with me for a couple miles, on pace to destroy her previous best half! Around mile 3.5 or 4, I saw Hillary on her run, cheered her on (yes I realize she was just running and I was the one racing). Then it was time to head into the bike path leading to Wilder. (Miles 1-4: 7:44, 7:40, 7:37, 7:48)

I run the bike path a decent amount and knew it was a little rolly with a good downhill toward the end (just about at the 5 mile marker). I came down the hill to see friends Rebecca and Jenn doing their course support/volunteer thing. I hadn’t really told a lot of people I was running the race so they were surprised to see me. They cheered for me and I turned into Wilder Ranch where I saw Fleet Feet Racing teammates Lisa and Nancy. Loved all the support! Then it was into the bluffs where I saw Shoshanah and grabbed a quick sip of water. The bluffs are flat trails, not technical but not super speedy either. I chatted with some other runners, kept it nice and easy. The 1:40 group was about a minute ahead of me. We came out of the bluffs and started to make our way back toward the Boardwalk. (Miles 5-8: 7:39, 7:46, 7:36, 7:32)

Always a tough finish with the last few steps on the sand.

Always a tough finish with the last few steps on the sand.

Back to the bike path and more cheers from Jenn, I started up the one real hill in the course. It’s not long but it’s steep. Lucky me, the hill work paid off and I was able to pass several runners here. I saw the UCSC cross country runners doing their thing followed by my running coach (I hadn’t told him I was racing either, “Hey Aaron! Decided to race today!”). It was back to West Cliff where I took good advantage of running smart tangents. While I felt I lost some steam here, I also knew I would PR, I assumed somewhere around 1:40:30. And then I saw Jose, who I have run with in other races. I caught up to him with 2 miles left, said hi (and thanks for giving me a reason to pick it up a bit) and kept going. (Miles 9-12: 7:54 (hello hill!), 7:30, 7:29, 7:38)

Last mile. I wanted to hold back until I had about .75 of a mile left and then push as hard as I could. I knew it would hurt but I also knew that it would be about 7 minutes long and then I would be done. Unfortunately, there were a lot of 10k walkers at this point and even though they closed the road (yippee! not just the path!) it was hard to navigate that last mile. I came running down the final hill yelling “ON YOUR LEFT!” (Bob is my witness, I screamed at people.) When I turned the corner I was shocked to see the clock said 1:39:XX. I booked it and ended up with an official time of 1:39:38 (my watch had a few extra seconds..I probably stopped it a tad late). I felt like I was pretty steady with my pace, maybe a slight negative split. But hey, I had a half marathon PR on 5 weeks of 5k training! (Final mile: 7:21, last 10th 5:24 pace)

Coming in with 1:39 on the clock!

Coming in with 1:39 on the clock!

Official results

Official results

happy post PR Meg

happy post PR Meg

I headed over to the SCE tent, told everyone my good news and then Laura practically tackled me – knowing I had broken 1:40 and that it had been my goal since last year! It was AWESOME! I saw Erin again and heard she did a great job pacing her group (yay Erin!!). I found out my team members rocked their races too: Selena PRed with a 1:41, Julie beat me by a few minutes, Leslie & Sam took top women’s overall spots in the 10k, and the guys pretty much all took either an overall or age group spot in the 10k. Strong work SCE!!

PR buddies - congrats Selena!!

PR buddies – congrats Selena!!

Can I get your autograph Erin?

Can I get your autograph Erin?

Stellar SCE runners with their prizes

Stellar SCE runners with their prizes

SCE held a post party at member Josh’s house. We had delicious treats and mimosas, complete with massages from our new sponsor Santa Cruz Core. And I got a new Santa Cruz beach towel as a celebration of my PR. What a great team to do that! Thanks all! It was so much fun to see our team running together and then celebrating together. And now, I get a training break before its time to start up again for the SF Marathon!

Post race party

Post race party

Did you race this weekend? How did it go?

 

 

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?