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…)

10603858_10152665186925948_2336812149695091381_o

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?

SCE Takes on the Capitola Half Marathon & Relay

About a week and a half ago, I ran in the Surfer’s Path Marathon/Capitola Half Marathon race. This was my third year in a row running it and my second year running the relay portion of the half marathon (2012 half & 2013 relay). I had initially not planned to run it, but my running team, Santa Cruz Endurance, was paying the entry fee for four relay teams (one women’s, one men’s, and two mixed teams). I entered my information and thought maybe I’d be a part of a mixed team, as I definitely not the fastest runner in my team. When the teams came out, I found out I was in the women’s team paired with my good friend (and super speedy) Leslie. Challenge accepted.

The race weekend was beautiful. The day before the race, Elise (who had been in town all week visiting) and I headed down to the Expo. The race’s expo is a perfect one in my opinion. It’s the Capitola coast, includes an easy race bib & shirt pick up, and a handful of local companies’ tents. Alisyn and I were hosting a tweet up. While it ended up being just the three of us, we had a blast. (Next time, we need a sign and some fun giveaways – and maybe not compete with the awesome beach weather). After the tweet up, Elise and I headed over to the SCE tent. Our team was hosting a raffle to win a free surfboard. We were neighbors with our sponsors Santa Cruz Core and Santa Cruz Running Company. (If you are in the Central Coast area and looking for a team, SCE is an awesome one – our sponsors hook us up with great deals, Epicenter is another sponsor). I had originally planned to spend just an hour or so at the expo but ended up spending the afternoon. Fun company and beautiful weather was much more appealing than the stack of essays I had at home to grade.

Tweeting at the Tweet Up

Tweeting at the Tweet Up

SCE Tent at the Expo (photo credit: SCE Instagram)

SCE Tent at the Expo (photo credit: SCE Instagram)

The raffled off surfboard modeled by Charmin's mini-me & myself

The raffled off surfboard modeled by Charmin’s mini-me & myself

For race day, I had specific instructions from the Coach. Since I still needed to get in my long run, the race was going to be incorporated into my 15 miles. I had a 2 mile warm up with some strides. Then the race (my portion was a 10k) to be run at my current  tempo pace (7:05-7:15) and then run the remaining miles to get in 15. My plan was to run the second half the half marathon with some friends who were fun running the race – perfect.

I jogged an easy mile and then met back up with Elise and Hillary to jog down to the start line. (I love races that start a mile from where I live!) I ended up only running 2 strides instead of 4 but I felt fine. Then I found all my SCE teammates. In addition to the four teams, SCE had 6 runners in the half marathon. (Spoiler: three of those runners scored major PRs! Woot!) Before we knew it, the race was about to start and we separated into our various zones.

Race start (photo credit: Laura or Bob)

Race start (photo credit: Laura or Bob)

Laura, our consummate phototog

Laura, our consummate phototog

My plan was to run the first two miles conservatively – 7:15-7:20 pace (there is a good climb right after the first mile) and then pick up the pace for the last 4.2 miles for a nice negative split. My goal was to average a 7:05 pace, which would have been a PR in the 10k distance. Well, you know how it goes… I started the first mile way too fast: 6:52. Whoops. The climb out of the first mile sobered that pace a bit. I ran the next mile around Jeremy, who was running the half. It was fun to hang with him for a bit. Miles 2 & 3: 7:16 (much better!), 7:09. Despite some stomach issues pre race, during the race I was feeling really good. This course is basically the Wharf to Wharf course and a route I have run hundreds of times. I know each climb and each turn really well. I think that this meant that after the first mile, I ran a very smart race. I knew I just had to hold on until about 5.8 miles because the final .4 miles was all downhill. Miles 4-6: 7:04, 7:07, 7:03. I ran the final .2 I ran at a 5:53 pace. And that was good enough for a 10k PR (yes, I realize this isn’t a real 10k race but I’ll take it!): 44:13 official (44:05 by my watch, not sure why there is such a big gap).That’s a 7:05 pace (and with my watch running the course a little long, a 7:02 by Garmin). I came across the line to hand off to Leslie and yelled “I PRed for you!” Ha :) And off she went.

Keeping up with Jeremy on the hill out of Twin Lakes Beach (photo cred: Bob)

Keeping up with Jeremy on the hill out of Twin Lakes Beach (photo cred: Bob)

Coming into Opal Cliffs (Photo cred: Rebecca)

Coming into Opal Cliffs (Photo cred: Rebecca)

In what seemed like less than a minute, three of the SCE half marathoners (Elise, Gaylia, & Charmin) came through and I had to scream at them. There was some mixture of sharing my PR excitement with knowing that Elise was on route to score a massive PR. I was just super excited! Then came my two teammates fun running the half. I joined them to run the remaining 6.7 miles I had to get 15 miles. I was having way too much fun with them (see photos) and we stopped for water and bathroom breaks. We picked up Benoit with a few miles to spare (he was also running back from running the first leg of the relay). As we approached the final half mile of the race, I saw my teammate Leslie and Elise (who was in post PR glow – I’ll let her share her awesome PR story). And we all finished up our runs together.

Having WAY too much fun on my fun run back to the finish (photo cred: Bob)

Having WAY too much fun on my fun run back to the finish (photo cred: Bob)

We're done running, thank you :)

We’re done running, thank you :)

The team hung out for the awards and we dominated the podium. First Women’s Relay Team: Leslie & I. First Men’s Relay Team: SCE Benoit & Casey. First & Second Mixed Relay Teams: SCE Jenn W. & Dan V; Selena & Dan M. Gaylia, Elise, & Jeremy all took age group wins, as well as their own PRs. Charmin also took a nice AG win. So much fun! (In other awesome news, Alisyn was volunteer extraordinaire, Paulette ran the longest distance since January, and her Kevin PRed in the marathon – good day all around!)

SCE hanging on the beach

SCE hanging on the beach

10397040_10152457687210948_5801974581962520713_o

Winners!

And then, I had to drive Elise to the airport as she had to go back to DC, tear. It was a great weekend to share with her even if she had to leave at the end of it all.

Awesome team!

SCE Post Race Love

Awesome race, awesome team. 1st place finish! (I need Leslie as a relay partner more often!)

Awesome race, awesome team. 1st place finish! (I need Leslie as a relay partner more often!)

Central Coast Runners – Awesome Upcoming Races!

Hey my local friends (and those who want to run in this awesome part of the state), I have two super exciting events to share with you!

The first is coming up soon, on March 9. Remember when I told you all I am now a part of Fleet Feet Santa Cruz Racing? Well this race is put on by them as part of series of local events. I won’t be running this one but I will be volunteering! So you’ll get to see me along the race course – isn’t that reason enough? ;) The Off Road Ramble 5k & 10k is part a 3 race series and yep, you want to race them all!

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.56.16 AMThis race starts with a Bagpipe serenade and then brings you into the scenic Pinto Lake County Park, look at these views!

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.56.23 AMYou can register now, its only $35 for the 5k, or you can register for all three of the Fleet Feet races here. (If you register by Feb. 28, you’ll save a little cash too!)

Ok, maybe a March 9 race date is a little too soon? Or maybe you need more local racing in your life? That’s good because I have one other race to share with you. It’s presented by a good friend of mine and will benefit Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Spring it On 5k takes place April 12 and not only does it have an awesome race, it has a pancake breakfast, a bounce house and Easter Egg hunt for the kiddos, live music, and a photo booth (fun!). The entire community is pitching in, donating services and goods for a really awesome cause.

1004964_785784798100155_87776677_n

You can sign up for this super awesome event HERE. You can also download a PDF and mail in your registration here. Local sponsors of the race include Fleet Feet Aptos, Santa Cruz Track Club, Buzzword Productions and our local Whole Foods. I really can’t say enough good things about this race, it’s just a great opportunity to run some miles and support an amazing cause. (A little shout out to Trinity for putting it all together, you rock woman!)

1780781_246128378902408_909144101_n

So will I be seeing you at either of these events (or even better at both!)??

Super Bowl 10k – Way Better than Actual Super Bowl

Well, I guess I jinxed myself with my Fit Friday post on running in the rain. Because oh, yeah, I ran in the rain on Sunday. The cold, windy, rain. (This also explains why I have no race photos… my fingers were numb, no photos taken!)

For the fifth year in a row, I ran in the local Santa Cruz Track Club Super Bowl 10k. I really like this race. It’s super low key (they don’t even close the roads down or recreation path, which can be a pain, but no problem when no body wants to head out in the cold), it’s a course I know really well, and it’s a fun way to burn some calories before eating a whole lot of food during the game! While I went into this race with few expectations (it was my third race weekend in a row, I had some hard workouts during the week, I hadn’t trained for it), I had a goal. I wanted to PR. My last 10k PR is from this event last year (45:28, a 7:19 pace). So this year, I aimed to run a 44:59 (yes I wanted to just eek into that sub 45 result). And my plan was to try to just run a 7:15 pace. (Truth be told, when I signed up for the race this was not my goal, but after strong runs at the Tinker Bell Half and Jenny’s Light 5k I decided to aim for a PR.) I didn’t know if I could do it, but I thought I was in good enough shape to try. I enlisted the help of Jenn who was running but not racing Sunday.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.56.47 AM

I woke up to cold, rain. Look I know the rest of the county is cold, but 40* rain with wind is not fun to run in no matter where you live. Jenn and I did a quick 2 mile warm up, followed by some strides, and said hi to friends who were also racing. It was impressive how many of my running friends made it out in this crummy weather.

brr

brr

The race went pretty close to what I wanted. I started out conservative. I told Jenn I wanted to stay closer to 7:20 for my first mile(s) and if I felt good, pick up the pace in the second half. I averaged around a 7:15 pace for the first 3 miles (7:18, 7:16, 7:13). There was a pretty strong headwind that helped me from running too fast. Poor Jenn tried to shield me from it, but it was pretty impossible to do.

After we turned around the wind was still strong (mile 4 – 7:20). Jenn asked me if I wanted to pick it up. A little part of me thought “no way!” but instead I said I did (this is the benefit of having a pacer.) I tried to tell myself, if I could run 7:05 in the final mile of the Tinker Bell half I could pick up my pace here. We picked it up for a sub-7 mile (6:57). Up until mile 5, Jenn had been calling out my splits. As we came up to that mile, a woman was catching up to me. Jenn let me know but when came up to the 5th mile marker I told Jenn I didn’t want to know (about either the woman behind me or my mile time). I’m glad she didn’t tell me, hearing a sub-7 mile would have freaked me out. I finished the final 1.2 in 8:27 (7:02 average pace).

As I came up to the finish, Aaron and Julian (teammates on SCE) and Michelle (coach of the Fleet Feet team) cheered us on. It really helped me to finish strong. I could see the clock. I knew the first two numbers were 44 but I could not read the final two and was worried that it was going to flip to 45. But I finished at 44:32 (a 7:10 pace!): good enough for 1st in my age group, 4th or 5th woman overall, and nearly a minute PR!

PR & 1st place AG medal

PR & 1st place AG medal

The race went as I hoped – I stayed within the parameters I wanted and finished with negative splits. I was definitely tired at the end but pushed through (this is something I definitely need to work on more). Jenn did a great job of acting as my stop watch, giving me some motivation, but ultimately letting me run my race (thanks Jenn!).

After the race, the hubs and I hosted a Super Bowl party. Twenty or so friends came. And while the game was boring, we had lots of good food, good drink, and good conversation. A pretty awesome day in the end.

Ingredients for the Blue Moon cupcakes for Super Bowl party

Ingredients for the Blue Moon cupcakes for Super Bowl party

Did you race on Super Bowl Sunday? How did it go?

Superbowl 10k

This past weekend I ran the local Super Bowl 10k for the 4th year in a row. This was my first race I ran after moving to Santa Cruz so it has a special place in my heart and I always look forward to it. This year was my first time running it as a member of Santa Cruz Endurance. After my recent training (see my last post), I was excited to see how I would do at the 10k distance. Well, I won’t leave you waiting… I did great and earned a new PR, 2 1/2 minutes off my previous best 10k time! Woot woot!

Fellow SCE member and SFM Ambassador, Elise, and I headed out together. We picked up our bibs and warmed up with a nice slow mile. This helped us also combat the cold weather! Brr. After that we ran into our friend Kelsey who also ran the race. We saw a few other SCE members (check out the recap here) and some other running friends and then it was go time!

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I was ready for this race and started with a look of determination (Seriously look at my face in this photo!)
Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 8.34.07 AMAlso, I was rocking Kevin’s 49ers beanie to send some good vibes to the team. Bummer they didn’t win.

West Cliff

who can complain with this running view??

who can complain with these running views??

Anyway, I started out a little too fast (6:38 first mile, whoops!). But I felt good and just couldn’t get myself to slow down. After that I settled into an average 7:14 pace (with my longest mile at 7:30). I felt pretty good the whole race, until about half into my 5th mile. I felt tired and my legs felt heavy.. then I looked at my Garmin and saw I was running a 6:30 pace, whoops!

Sprinting to the finish

Sprinting to the finish

I rounded the last corner and knew I was going to finish strong. The course seemed a little long by my watch (6.28 instead of 6.2) so at the 10k time (again by my watch) I was at 44:47. My finish time by my watch was 45:25 and official finish time was 45:28. This placed me as the 4th overall woman finisher and 2nd in my age group (finished 37th overall). I didn’t realize the next girl behind me was so close, she finished at 45:29. Wow I’m glad I didn’t hold back! Elise was not far behind, with a finishing time of 46:06.

Walking up to get my medal!

Walking up to get my medal!

Getting a medal is the best!

Getting a medal is the best!

2nd in my age group!

2nd in my age group!

This was a great race for our team! All of the runners took one of the top 5 spots in their age group, and two of our guys took 1st and 3rd overall!

SCE runners represent!

SCE runners represent!

Have you raced yet in 2013? How’d it go?