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.

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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!)

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

Fit Friday: Why Race?

It’s Fit Friday and in what should be terribly unsurprising news, I’m traveling… AGAIN. This time the hubs and I are in Washington visiting his family and going to the Mariners game tomorrow to see Ken Griffey Jr get inducted into the Mariners’ Hall of Fame.  And so again, my blog has been relatively quiet this week.

Thinking about what to write this week, I was coming up with a blank. I thought about linking to some of my favorite Fit Friday posts – but how boring is that? Then I considered writing about training or an upcoming race. Then it hit me… why not talk about something my non-runner friends ask a lot – why do you race?

It’s a great question. Rarely do I race with the possibility of winning (ok that’s never…but coming in the top 3, that happened once). Racing can be a painful experience and when you don’t hit your goals it can be an emotional drain as well. So why do runners put ourselves through it? Lots of magazines and websites recommend signing up for a race to give yourself a goal and to keep you committed to your running schedule. And yes, especially in the beginning, that’s definitely part of it. But once you’ve been running consistently for a while, a race may give you goals to train for but you don’t need it to lace up the shoes and head out the door.

I thought back to my first race in 2008. I had been running off and on for about a year and a half. At some point, after  I was able to run 5 miles without taking a break, I decided I wanted to run the local big 5k – The Carlsbad 5000. I wanted to have the shirt that I had grown up seeing worn around the area and I wanted a medal (given to the first 250 finishers in each wave). And I got both… as well as learned a lot about the racing culture. But I didn’t race again for 2 years. After running my 2nd race (Superbowl 10k 2010), I had caught racing fever. I run in a race about once a month (give or take) and to date I’ve participated in over 50 races.

Before my 1st race, don't be jealous of my awesome athletic style!

Before my 1st race, don’t be jealous of my awesome athletic style!

Considering this, I feel a little qualified to tackle this question. Yes we race to keep our training honest and to hit new PRs. We pick long distances such as the marathons and trail races to challenge ourselves and endurance. We look to 5ks to test our speed. We pick races in places and cities we always wanted to visit. But as someone who races often, every race can’t be about placing in my age group or securing a new PR. (Although it’s always nice when these things happen and reflect how training is paying off!)

So why else run a race?  We run races to be with our community. We all don’t run with clubs and groups and friends, but race day we are all out there together. Many us of are fighting nerves and some of us are quiet, focusing on the race strategy. But we are shoulder to shoulder with a hundred or 20,000 other like-minded crazy people who also got up before dawn, eating bananas, tying our shoes, and putting our favorites running clothes. We hang out in trash bags when its raining and huddle under the small strip of shade in the sun together.

Runners at Wharf to Wharf 2013 (compliments Wharf to Wharf FB page)

Runners at Wharf to Wharf 2013 (compliments Wharf to Wharf FB page)

And then there are spectators. Our friends, our family, who come and stand in the heat, the rain, and wait for a glimpse of us running by. They are the ones who tried to keep sleeping we wake up for our long runs at some ungodly hour or put up with our strange new eating habits. And there they are again, supporting us as we continue down this crazy endeavor. Racing reminds us of our community – other runners and spectators. It tells we are not alone.

This is something to consider in our fitness goals. Who is our community? Who keeps us accountable? Who supports us when we can’t do it ourselves? How can we thank them for all of that?

Why do you race? And what is your next one?

Two Race Weekend

Over the past weekend, I ran two races. It was a little crazy and not just because I ran races back to back but also because both were pretty hilly and I hadn’t run any hills for the previous two weeks. But I still felt like I ran strong both days.

On Saturday I ran the UCSC XC Challenge with five other women from Santa Cruz Endurance. The 4 mile trail course was the season opener to the 2012 PA USATF XC Grand Prix. We carpooled to the race start and a handful of us ran a few warm up miles before the race.

After roaming the trails and stretching a bit, we set up at the start line with 121 super speedy women. I stayed conservative in the beginning, not sure how I would do on the hills. This allowed me to have sweet negative splits (8:12, 7:59, 7:39, 7:17). The course was pretty warm, especially in the non-wooded spots. But I felt strong after running in humid, hot weather the previous two weeks. I finished with a time of 31:29 and came in 75th place (see speedy runners!). Our team came in 6th overall. After the race I ran a few cool down miles with Sho and then we headed to  breakfast.

We ate at this awesome little bakery/coffee shop, Iveta. I had never eaten there before, but it is delicious! I can’t wait to go back.

At Iveta, yum!

On Sunday, I ran Race Thru the Redwoods for the third time in a row. It is a trail 10k (6.2 miles) that climbs over 300 feet between miles 2.5 and 3.5. Last year due to some confusion I ended up parking someplace I wasn’t supposed to and received a pricey parking ticket. The race felt bad and hooked me up for this year’s race (thank you!). I picked up Laura (another SCE member who was volunteering) and we headed to Henry Cowell State Park. This year I got excellent parking and had plenty of time to run two easy warm up miles. SCE members Steve and Dan also ran this race (rocked it too, taking 3rd and 4th places respectively in their age group).

Checking in at registration

Hanging out before the race

Me, Laura, and Steve

Me and Dan

Ready to run!

I ran this race as an opportunity to see how I am feeling on trails and hills. I tried not to “race” it since I had done that the day before. But of course, once I was out there I ended up racing all the same. I started out fast. The first mile is on the road and I wanted to get ahead before I got to the hill climb (mile 1 – 6:57, whoops!). I slowed down a bunch heading up the hills and got passed by several runners. After the turn around my main goal was to pass those runners again and I did pass most of them before we hit the mile 6 marker.

I took a slight detour and might have added .o5 mile to the run but nothing crazy. I finished with a time of 52:29 (a minute and a half better than my best time on this course). I didn’t place in my age group (5th of 51 runners), but I was very happy with the race. And the best was coming up to the finish line seeing Laura and Rebecca working the timer and cheering me on!

Coming up to the finish line

After I ran a two super slow cool down miles and then hung out with Rebecca and Laura as they clocked the time for runners and we cheered them on.

Overall this was a great running weekend and a welcome return to running in Santa Cruz.

Summer Recap

I know, I’ve been a bad blogger.

It’s been a long, long time since my last post. I’ve logged in and started to write posts but didn’t know where to start. Well, I figure no time like the present to get caught up on my blog. I thought about doing a separate post for all the events/things we have been doing, but instead here’s a bit of what we’ve been doing since May (yep it’s a long entry).

Wedding Planning
Not surprisingly since I’ve been out of my course work for the summer I have been focusing on the wedding. We finally have a DJ (yay!) but still have lots to do. I had my first dress fitting a few weeks back (and will have another one on Friday) as well as talked flowers and decorations. My mom, Susan, Olivia, and Tara have some AMAZING ideas!

Engagement Photos
In June, my amazing friend and mom-to-be Punam took engagement photos of Kevin & me. They are great. Here’s a teaser shot, but you can see her blog post on them here.

Bachelorette Weekend
The weekend after the engagement photo shoot, four of my close friends and I went to Sonoma County for my bachelorette weekend. It was perfect, complete with beautiful views, hiking, dogs (you know I love dogs!), delicious food, and wine… lots of wine! One of my best friends, Tawny, planned the whole thing and I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better time.

We’ve Been Here, There, & Everywhere (yeah, I totally used one of my favorite Beatle songs here)
Kevin & I have been traveling all over the place this summer. I think one or both of us was gone every weekend beginning in mid-June until, well, now. As mentioned earlier, I was in Sonoma County in June, Kevin’s sister and his niece and nephews visited the following few days, then we flew off to Texas (more about that later), then we drove up to Washington (with a pit stop in Oregon to see one of my best friends), Kevin’s uncle visited for a week or so, then I went home to wedding stuff, Kevin went off to Taiwan for work… and now we’re laying low. Of course, we’ll be traveling here and there again soon :) During that time, Kevin also celebrated the big 3-0!!

Showers
While we were in Washington, Kevin’s family threw us a wedding shower. And when I was in So Cal my best friend threw me a bridal shower. Both parties were so much fun and it was great seeing everyone. We really appreciate that everyone came out and celebrated with us. Plus, my mom brought an old high school photo album that my girlfriends and I had a good laugh at!

                                 

Dan & Juliana’s Wedding
As I mentioned earlier, Kevin & I went to Texas this summer. Why? To attend Dan and Juliana’s wedding of course! I love this couple, they are fun and sweet and a perfect match for each other. I also got to catch up with some of my old high school friends, as well as visit some of the best that San Antonio has to offer: Alamo, River Walk (ok we barely did this), San Jose Mission, Cavender’s Boot store, and some serious BBQ (the boys ate it, I just stared in amazement).

The newlyweds

Outside the cathedral

The boys & me outside of the Alamo

BBQ!

Summer School
In addition to traveling, planning, and partying, I also worked as a teaching assistant for the first session of summer school at UCSC. I had the pleasure of working with an amazing teacher and fellow grad student who I definitely look up to. This was a class I had TAed for before, but I learned a great deal from above-mentioned-instructor and her great teaching style.

Cooking/Baking
As usual, I’ve spent a great deal of time cooking and baking. I made a yummy batch of cookies-n-cream/cookie dough ice cream (yes together, in one delicious, sugary bowl!). I failed at my first scone making attempt (that’s what I get for last-minute recipe modifications). And I made homemade pasta for the first time, yum!

Drying pasta

Running
I’ve still been running with a few races here and there. Since my last post, I ran 4 races (see my results here). I did take 1st in my age group for one of them, always a nice feeling! And tomorrow, I’ll be running the 1st half of the San Francisco Marathon. Since running the Big Sur Marathon I’ve been pretty slow on my long runs, so I’m not expecting to be very speedy tomorrow but I think it will be a lot of fun. And I have to admit I’m pretty darn excited about getting an Irish Coffee after the race, now that’s a treat I can look forward to post-run (the run is early, like 5:45am early, so I’ll ready for that warm beverage!). Here are some photos from my recent races.

Silly me, throwing my hands in the hair! Crossing the finish line at She.Is.Beautiful 10k on May 22

Post race at Nisene Marks 5k, very rainy race :)

Coming up to the finish line in the San Lorenzo Train Run 10k

Pre-Race Wharf to Wharf 6 mile (surrounded by 15,000 other runners!)

Well, I think we’re all caught up. I will try to get back into my normal blog routine in August.

Worst Race Ever

I have just completed what I officially consider the worst race ever (ok at least that I have participated in). Last year, I ran the same race, Go Green St. Patrick’s 10k in Los Gatos, and despite being sick I had a great time. I had looked forward to greatly improving last year’s time. I actually almost didn’t run the race because I have so much school work to complete this weekend, but I decided that I needed to run anyway so I’ll go ahead and run the race (plus I already paid for it).

Unfortunately, both packet pick-up times conflicted with my schedule and I was able to just make the end of the second day. By that time they only had large shirts. I know shirts aren’t the most important thing, but I like getting free running gear and it’s a bummer that I won’t really be able to wear this one. I was more annoyed with the response of the organizer when I questioned how this happened but this morning I decided not to taint the race with bad vibes and focus on having a good time.

Due to the time change, I had a hard time getting up and out the door on time. I worried that I would miss the race start. I got there just 5 minutes before the time my race was supposed to start (there were 3 race lengths, half marathon that started first, the 10k that I ran and started second, and the 5k that started last). Thankfully they seemed to be running late, par for the course with races. But unfortunately their loudspeakers didn’t seem to work and it was hard to determine which race was starting. But not a problem, I figured out and started with the rest of the 10kers.

The race began well, I started a little slower than normal trying to save my energy to speed up at the end. Great, I was right on pace where I wanted to be by mile 2. I started to see a few runners coming back my way and knew I was approaching a turnaround. A turnaround sign sat in the ground but unlike the previous signs did not say if it was for the 5k, 10k, or half marathon. Other runners kept going and I followed suit. But within a few minutes I started to grow concerned. Apparently another runner went too far as well (farther than me) and informed me that I needed to turn around. As we headed back to the official turnaround spot, the 10k runners let others know they needed to turn around. My time was officially going to be off and much slower runners than me had turned around much earlier. This was the first race I didn’t wait to see my official results posted.

After I finished I found that the timing chip had cut my ankle (I have a problem with these types of chips and should have put a blister pad on my ankle). My leg hurt and I was frustrated with the unclear signage. I went to a race organizer, along with some other racers (5k runners who almost ran the entire 10k!). The organizer was unsympathetic to say the least. In fact, she seemed angry with us! I know mistakes happen, that’s ok. But the worst part of the race for me was the organizers’ anger at runners for complaining. That’s just poor management.

On the positive side, my new nike running shoes felt great! Sami even posed with them yesterday :) And the race medal is quite nice. The vendors also had some good snacks for post-race fuel and the first aid tent was great (thanks for bandaging my bloody ankle). My results for this race (and my others races as well) are here.

To see other people’s experiences see the Active reviews.