My Lackluster LA Marathon

Warning: It’s a long post.

As the saying goes, even the best laid plans… the LA Marathon did not result in a Boston Qualifier or a new PR. It ended up being a hard and frustrating race.

I came into town Thursday evening, spent some time with my parents, and met up with my very good friend (and super talented friend) Tara. The following morning, my mom and I drove up to LA for the marathon’s expo. We missed morning traffic and made it to LA pretty quickly. After picking up my bib and goodies, I headed to the SF Marathon booth where I met Luis and Ciara. After saying hi, I picked up a few things I needed for the race and my mom and I headed back down south. We had a nice day and my mom even got me a new pair of running shorts (I needed some green for Sunday!). And Kevin got me the Jawbone Up bracelet that I have been eyeing (Kevin wasn’t able to be with me for the race weekend as was at spring training with his dad and nephew, an annual tradition that had been planned before I signed up for the race).

At the expo

At the expo

Saturday was a nice relaxing day. I had a short shakeout run with some strides but other wise laid low. We had sushi for dinner (my fave pre-race meal) and headed up to the hotel. I headed to sleep fairly early but my parents went to the bar! Talk about a role reversal, haha!

Swanky hotel room

Swanky hotel room

Laying out the race outfit. Hello new Lulu shorts :)

Laying out the race outfit. Hello new Lulu shorts :)

My alarm went off at 4am. I got dressed, ate peanut butter and a banana, and had some Energy Bits. At 5am, my dad (graciously) drove me to Dodgers Stadium where the race starts. I learned that driving in 5am on a Sunday might be the only time there is no traffic in LA! (Well until you get to the runner drop off.) I quickly met up with fellow SFM ambassador Chris and got to say hi (and meet) Lauren, Wes, and Luis. Chris and I soon headed off to our corral (B), ready to race. In the B corral we ran into the SFM ambassadors Keith and Ryan. At this point, I still felt great! I had a positive attitude and tried to remind myself that I had the training and could run a 3:35 marathon. Right before the race started, I went to turn on my ipod and found that it was dead. Oops! Oh well, I put it, with my headphones, my headband (I had been debating about wearing a running cap and decided to do so meaning I didn’t need to wear my headband), and my phone in my back pocket.

Repping SCE

Repping SCE

Marathon Gridlock

Marathon Gridlock

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium

SFM Ambassadors

SFM Ambassadors

The first 6 miles of the race was perfect. For the first couple miles, the course has a lot of downhill so I just enjoyed it. My pace was right on target (a bit fast sometimes with downhill but nothing crazy). I was just ahead of the 3:35 pace group and feeling happy about my race. There was a water station after each mile marker so I knew that when I took my Sports Beans at mile 8, there would be water to take with them. Wrong! It seemed like an eternity before I came to the water station. Somewhere in mile 9 my stomach started to feel weird (likely due to not being to able to drink water after taking my beans) and I was super hot. It wasn’t particularly warm weather but the humidity was getting to me. I slowed down a bit but was still near the 3:35 group, slightly ahead and then slightly behind – back and forth for a little while. Around mile 10 or 11 I thought I should use a port o potty to try to help my stomach. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom so back to the course.

At the halfway point, everything started to fall apart. My stomach felt strange, I was hot and had to drink more water than I normally do in a race. I was even pouring it directly on my head. I lost the 3:35 group somewhere at this point but could still see them. I figured if I could just overcome this rough spot I would catch them. My legs also started to feel heavy. I’m not sure if it was due to the stomach and humidity problems, if I had overtrained and my legs were just done for, or if all that stuff in my back pocket (that I suddenly became very aware of in mile 15) had caused me to slightly change my running form affecting my legs. But regardless, I was having trouble keeping a reasonable pace and my legs were tired. I knew my parents would be at some mid-point in the course so I started to look for them, I wanted to give them the stuff in my pocket, and my hat. When I saw them at mile 18, I was so happy to relieve myself of my stuff that I couldn’t really appreciate how nice it was to have some mid course support. In hindsight, it was awesome!

Taking off my hat to give my parents

Taking off my hat to give my parents

During this time I also lost the 3:35 group and when I saw the 3:45 group, I was so mad. Sorry to anyone I offended as I swore. I swore again when the 4 hour pace group passed me.

By mile 20, I was exhausted. The weather started to cool down but I still was thirsty. I was in a bind, all the water intake was giving me side cramps but I needed to drink something. By mile 22 I had to walk A LOT because of the cramping. My miles went from an 8 minute pace in the first 10 miles, to 8:30 pace to 9 minute pace, and then some ugly 11 minute and, gasp, two 14 minute miles. There went the 4:15 group. I was so bummed I wasn’t even mad. This sucked. A few times I considered DNFing because I was just sad and tired. But I wanted to finish and I forced myself to run the last mile and half. I got my medal and my cool LA/SF Challenge medal, ran into Keith again, and headed off to find my parents. Sad but at the same proud for pushing through and finishing.

Done.

Done.

Love the medals!

Love the medals!

This race was hard. It wasn’t what I was capable of doing and it wasn’t what I planned for. I thought if anything I’d miss my goal by a few minutes, not 45. But I was so thankful to have my parents with me. They made the weekend fun and they were proud of me. And my dad even bought me a sweatshirt so I wouldn’t be cold after the race. Our post-race In n Out was the best.

My favorite post-race meal!

My favorite post-race meal!

I loved the course, there were some hills but lots of downhill. The course winded around just the right amount. Best of all was the amazing crowd support! There were spectators everywhere we went! And they cheered for all of us, strangers yelled “Go Meg!” the whole race. It made not having my iPod totally fine. This is by far the best crowd support I have ever experienced. I also knew at the various points my friends and Kevin were getting updates through the race tracking. That was a huge motivator but I knew they were wondering what went wrong as my time slowed down so much in the second half (thanks to all of you for reaching out to me after the race, it was awesome!)

Indulging in guilty pleasures for the plane trip back.

Indulging in guilty pleasures for the plane trip back.

It wasn’t my day to BQ or PR. As my friend Leslie says, the marathon is a beast. You can train and plan, but come marathon day you never know what might unfold. For this one, just finishing was an accomplishment.

{Update 3/19/2013}: I can also see that I overtrained. I took on too much and I needed better guidance. My amazing runner friends have advised me to rest and consider a coach going forward. This week I’m taking off from all exercise and next week I’ll return to cross training and maybe a little bit of running. Then I will be re-evaluating race goals and consider working with a coach.

Have you had a bad race? How do you deal with disappointed race days?

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?

A Few Christmas 5ks

Well, the racing year has pretty much come to a close. But CIM wasn’t my last race of the year. The second and third weekends of the year I ran in two Christmas 5k races.

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On December 9, I ran in my third Jingle Bell Rock 5k. I love this race because its small (although growing fast!), I have done well at it consistently, and they collect Toys for Tots. This year was the first year I ran it with friends around. Elise, Michelle, and Margaret all ran the race while my SCE gals Rebecca, Leslie, and Laura (and her daughter Agnes) volunteered.

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Elise & I at the start

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Me, Elise, Laura, Michelle, & Margaret post race

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The lovely volunteers, Leslie & Rebecca, with Elise & me

Elise and I stuck together for a little over the first half. She had a little lung difficultly (she has only been back running for a few weeks), so she slowed down but I kept my pace. I ended up finishing at 22:26, not a PR but still good only a week after the marathon. I took 4th in a highly competitive age group (I hate 10 year age groups!) I messed up my watch so I don’t have my splits, boo! Elise came in quickly after and secured 2nd place in her age group.

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A week later, Elise, Leslie, Gaylia, and I drove to San Jose to run in the 1st Annual Santa Run Silicon Valley 5k. We had one goal: get Elise a new PR!

When we arrived at the start, we found ourselves in a sea of green and red. I think we were the only runners not wearing a Santa suit or a green event shirt.

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Photo compliments of Santa Run facebook page

The first two miles were very strong: 6:52 and 6:58. Gaylia pulled ahead to block Elise from the wind and Leslie and I took either side of her. Leslie is such a great cheerleader, she kept Elise focused on her goal the whole race! Around mile 2, my day’s poor eating (a 4pm race is not ideal for me!) resulted in some phlegm issues that slowed me down. I waived the ladies to keep on and I slowed down (mile 3 was a whopping 7:25 pace!). But I knew Elise would get that PR. And she did! Elise finished at 21:52, 2nd in her age group. Leslie and Gaylia came in right by her, with 2nd and 1st places, respectively, in their groups. I finished about 20 seconds later, 22:13 taking 3rd in my age group and 13th woman overall. Watching Elise secure that PR after a year that included a painful injury that prevented her from running CIM made this race such an awesome end to a great running year!

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Did you run a Christmas/holiday race this year? How did it go?

My Shiney New PR from the Big Sur Half

The Big Sur Half Marathon has topped my list of half marys since I ran it last year (read my recap of that race here). There are several reasons why this race is favored by many runners (not just myself). The course is stunningly beautiful, it has nice rolling hills rather than difficult steep hills or boring flat routes. And Big Sur is a great race organizer (there are only a few race organizations that I put in this category, the SF Marathon is another good example).

Last year when I ran the race I was smack in the middle of my running rut. I could not seem to run at my previous speed anymore. My official time at Big Sur was 2:04 and some change (granted I did have a bathroom break and the course according the GPS watches (acknowledging their flaws) seems a tad long). But I was still happy at that race as I knew without the bathroom break I would have had a slightly faster run and it was quicker than my previous half marathons.

This year was a whole difficult ballgame. I joined a running team (SC Endurance), was more consistent with my running, did more speed workouts & long runs, and Big Sur fell at the tail end of my marathon training plan. And well, let’s be honest, 2012 has been my personal year of the PR. Just to recap, in April I finally fell well below the 2 hour mark finish the US Half 2 (now Rock n Roll San Francisco) at 1:54 and then finally beat my 2-year-old PR at the Capitola Half with a finishing time of 1:45:44 (running a 1:45 half marathon was a huge goal of mine). After that I secured a new PR in the 5k and in the 6 mile distance as well as creating some new personal course records. In July, I created a new half PR at the SF Marathon (1:43:03).

After all this, I knew I could do well at Big Sur. It was my ideal course with its rolling hills. I also knew that I wanted to do well at this race to have it in my mind when I run my marathon in just under 2 weeks (wow, how did that happen??). So I decided I had two plans for this past Sunday. 1) Aim for a 7:38 pace which should get me to 1:40 finish time and a PR or 2) Run a marathon pace for this course. I decided I would go by feel to determine which goal I would pursue.

Pre race with the FIL

Corral A

It was a long weekend. I went to the expo on Friday to pick up my gear but I was back there Saturday to volunteer for the SF Marathon booth. I got to see several other SF ambassadors, including meeting Paulette for the first time! I was tired and cranky after the long Saturday and this was not made better while waiting for dinner. But after some delicious pasta I felt better. I drove down with my father-in-law, who is also a runner and raced Big Sur as well, and saw that the rain had subsided. Woohoo! When the race started, I felt strong and decided to go for goal 1. Every mile I ran was under 8 minutes, with the fastest at 7:22 and the slowest at 7:53. My last two miles were very consistent despite fatigue, clocking in at 7:45 each. I immediately knew after the first mile that course was a bit long but it was not abnormal (I also know that the course could be perfect but GPS tracks it a bit long). According to my watch, the course was 13:31 and I ran an average 7:36 pace. At the 13.1 mark by my watch I was at 1:39:40, but I ended up finishing at 1:41:19. A PR by nearly 2 minutes!! Woohoo! And 23 minutes better than last year. 23 minutes!!!

PR!

This race went exactly how I wanted it to. I felt strong the first 9-10 miles and fatigue in my legs set in around mile 10-11. My shoes felt a little off, even though I’ve worn them in a half marathon and some long runs before. This could have been due to wearing new socks. Anyway, for the first 8 miles or so I just smiled like crazy. I knew I was feeling good and no one can overstate the beauty of the Pacific Grove & Carmel coast. After the turn around I saw Alisyn and my father-in-law.  Miles 11 and 12 were tough and I knew that even if I slowed to a 8 minute pace, I would still meet my goal of a PR. But I pushed through. I saw Kevin and his mom right before the finish, gave them a big thumbs up, and sprinted to the end. What a great race!

Almost to the finish!

Love the Big Sur medals

Happy Meg

And now… CIM!

Race to the End of Summer (literally)

Oh man, is summer really over? I’m not ready for the shorter days and a full time class load :(  Well, I ended summer with a final last minute addition to my race schedule. My friend Leslie suggested we run the 5k portion of Race to End of Summer on Sept. 9. I figured why not, can’t hurt to get a good little speed run in right?

Unfortunately, Leslie’s grandmother passed away right before the race so she had to fly home and I ended up running the race solo. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had never heard of the race but I knew I wanted to place in the overall top 3 women finishers and I was looking for a sub 21:30 finishing time. I completed one of those goals.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare and ran a nice little warm up mile. It was sunny in San Jose and getting warmer by the minute. I made my way to the start line as the 10k runners started. A few minutes later and we were off. The race started and ended in a business park. The 5k course includes a small section of trail, but the 10k and half marathon courses seemed to include much more of that section. The course was pretty flat but I just couldn’t seem to push myself. And then, right after the mile 2 marker, my shoe came untied! What! This had never happened to me in a race before. I knew I was the 3rd woman and so I hurried to tie my lace and keep my spot. I made it to the turn around and saw that I had some space between myself and the next woman. The heat bothered me (I don’t know why, it wasn’t THAT hot). But I maintained the distance between myself and the woman behind me and crossed the finish line at 22:07 by my watch (I stopped it when I tied my shoe, official finish time 22:19). Dang it, I missed that PR!

 

3rd Place!

I hung out for a bit and then ran my cool down mile and changed into some trainer shoes. When I returned results had been posted. They were organized by age group and I was 3rd in my division. But they did not have overall results posted. It seemed like I might be 3rd overall woman but I couldn’t be sure. When they started to announce the results, the name they called as first woman finisher was not the name of the woman who finished first. It seems something got a little mixed up as the records indicated the first woman finisher was actually a teenage boy! Whoops. Once that got cleared up, the correct winners were named and yep, I was 3rd!!! Woohoo!! And my prize? A gift certificate for a pair of shorts or shirt at the Lululemon showroom in Los Gatos! Awesome!

New Lulu shorts!

While I was sad about missing that PR, I was stoked with the finish and the great prize. I think this is a race that would be more fun to run with friends, running through a business park is a little hard to get excited about, but still I’m glad I ran it. After the race, I drove back to Santa Cruz so Jenn and I could cheer on Elise who was completing her first Half Ironman! What an awesome accomplishment for her!

My sign for Elise!

Here are my splits for the 5k:
Mile 1 – 6:19
Mile 2 – 7:17
Mile 3 – 7:32