Dashing the Dip and Dash

Last Sunday, I participated in my first Dip and Dash put on by Finish Line Productions. The Dip and Dash series includes three aquathons, swim then run of varying distances. Since I’m not a swimmer, it’s not a surprise that I hadn’t participated in one before. But my friend and teammate, Sam, wanted to use the swim as a practice and asked if I wanted to be part of a relay team with her. She’s swim around the wharf and I’d run the five miles on West Cliff. I jumped at the chance to be on a team with her and thought it would be a fun chance to see where my speed is at 6 weeks post marathon.

My plan leading up to the race was to run a pace similar to the 10k portion of the Capitola Half relay back in May. This meant about a 7:05 pace. I also hoped it would be fastest enough for us to win too. The two weeks before the race I added in some speed workouts for the first time in a month. I started with a reverse ladder workout: 2×800, 2×400, 2x200s and was not too far off from the times I was hitting earlier in the summer. The Thursday before the race I ran some 400s and a couple 200s around the harbor – couldn’t seem to find a time to make it to the track. They were not my fastest attempts and I thought about scaling back my goal to a 7:15 pace. This seemed the best idea when I woke up Sunday morning feeling a little sick to my stomach (I’m assuming this was thanks to Chinese food and ice cream the night before!).

I jogged down to the start and met up with Sam, where I learned that we were the only relay team. Sweet, we already won! Ha! She had a great idea that I run the Wharf as my warm up and then I could cheer on the swimmers as the same time (as well as get some good photos). I did a few strides at the end of my warm up and headed toward the transition area. Even though the pressure of winning was off, I still wanted to have a strong run. Sam came out of the water (which had some strong swells Sunday morning) and I grabbed the chip and made my way out to West Cliff.

Swimmers ready to start!

Swimmers ready to start!

Sam rounding the wharf

Sam rounding the wharf

Since I was the only runner, I made sure to encourage all of the race participants who were running on much more tired legs than mine. I felt pretty good by the time I started the race, stomach issues were gone. I started out too fast and did a terrible job of pacing (oh well): 7:03, 6:59, 6:56, 7:09, 7:15. I finished at 36:15 with an average pace of 7:03 – easily making it to my original goal. Despite uneven pacing, I was pretty happy with that. Since it was only my second 5 mile race, it also meant a distant PR ;)

I met up with Sam and another teammate, Dan, after the race. After some coffee and yogurt from nearby Picnic Basket, Sam and I collected our prize – a gift certificate for free Rudy Project sunglasses! Sweet!

Have you ever won a race because there was no competition??

SCE Whale to Whale

Just over a week ago, SCE (my super awesome running club) hosted the 3rd Whale to Whale “race” of the year. The Whale to Whale has been our little local tradition. We start at the Long Marine Lab Whale and then cruise the 6 miles along West Cliff and the Boardwalk to finish at the Natural History Museum Whale in the Seabright neighborhood. We don’t shut down the roads and it varies from 10 to 30 (ish) participants. The entry is just $10 and is used for the club or various community involvement (we’ve collected canned food, donated to the Baker/Butler Scholarship Fund last year, etc.) and we have a small prize for the top 3 men and women finishers.

At the start of Whale to Whale (all photos credit of SCE)

At the start of Whale to Whale (all photos credit of SCE)

While I have been to the other two races this year, I haven’t run it in quite some time. This time around I really wanted to run it again but knowing I really haven’t done any speed, I didn’t want to race it. Luckily, another team member and my friend, Sam, felt the same way. We decided to make it part of our long run. We started just past the “finish line” and weaved over to the start, getting in just under 8 miles before we began the race. It was a beautiful run along the water and we even saw a whale in the bay. So this year it was more of a whale to whale to whale ;)

Running as a pack on West Cliff

Running as a pack on West Cliff

After signing our waivers and paying our entry fees, all the runners headed to the start. This time around, there seemed to be more of us “fun running” rather than speeding through the course. This meant lots of time to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while as well as seeing an otter and some dolphins playing in the bay. All the sea creatures were out for this race!

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When we got to the finish, the three women decided to hold hands and all come in for 3rd place together. (I wish I had a photo of this silliness!). We hung out for a bit but after 14 miles, but I was ready for some food and a shower so headed home soon after.

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If you haven’t joined us for one of these events, check out the SCE FB page or our website to find out about the next one!

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Wilder at Sunset

Yesterday I joined the SCE Tuesday evening Trail run for the first time since the marathon. Usually this is a loop through the Wilder hills, just shy of 7 miles. When I showed up at the starting spot, there was chatter of a longer route. Two of the guys are moving into their fall marathon training and wanted something closer to 8-9 miles. Cool. I had no real plans, so I was up to add on a mile or two. The run ended up being closer to 10 miles but included some new trails I hadn’t explored at Wilder yet (and connected some other ones that I did know). I took a couple of photos as we headed down and had to post them here! So without further adieu, pretty Wilder views.

 

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Sunset at Wilder – perfect way to end the day!

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SCE guys enjoy the views too

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Ok, time to finish up this run!

 

Fun Running by the Sea

One of the benefits of fun running (i.e. not training!) is that I can drop into events that would not be great races for me but are really fun. This was the case last week when I ran Race Thru the Redwoods and it was true for yesterday’s Run by the Sea 12k as well. For some, these events are ideal settings but I am just not super fast on trails (whether they include hills or not) and therefore they aren’t great events for me to test out speed training or look for a PR (although since I’ve never run a 12k before it’s an automatic PR ;) ). But they are great for going out and having a great time while supporting a good cause and being a part of the running community. And sometimes, you surprise yourself and walk away with a spot in the top three in your age group too!

Just about to start

Just about to start (photo cred: SCRC)

Yesterday was the second annual running of the Run by the Sea. Last year, I couldn’t run it because it was the same day as the Santa Rosa Marathon but this year I had no conflicts. The race wants to raise both awareness and funds for the Santa Cruz Rail Trail project. It follows the trails through Wilder State Park, including a little off-road adventure down to the beach (another reason I wasn’t interesting in “racing” this one). My morning started with a few texts from family members checking to see if we were ok from the earthquake… so then I had to go figure out what earthquake they were talking about since I slept right through it. (We are about 2 hours from the epicenter but some did feel the quake here, including the hubs and one of our pups). Then, of course, I spent a bunch of time reading about the early reports of Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake and trying to determine if my friends running SRM would be ok (they were!). Then I just wanted to go back to sleep… forget the race (especially considering the several glasses of wine I drank the night before…) But somehow I still managed to head out.

In the pack, starting the race

In the pack, starting the race (photo cred: SCRC)

This was definitely not a “race” morning for me. Besides the wine the night before and the atypical wake up, I didn’t run any warm up or cool down miles and I didn’t wear my normal racing singlet. This, I wanted to remember, was just fun miles to support a good cause. I found my teammates Sam, Josh, and John right before the start. I positioned myself a few people deep and started out on the trails. I encouraged a gal to pass me since she clearly was in race mode (she came in 3rd overall) and happily ran toward the water. I took it easy climbing down the rocks and across the sand. I happily took the volunteer’s hand to help over the rocks on the way back up to the trail. At the first water station, a volunteer cheered her friend behind me – telling her to pass me. Fine by me. I let her go and continued toward the turn around. There I saw the first woman (who went on to win) and Sam looking strong. I counted the women and realized I was 6th woman. Cool, I thought, it would be fun to end up in the top 10 women but still no pressure.

Wilder views are the best!

Wilder views are the best! (photo cred: SCRC)

I felt really good after the turn around and unintentionally picked up a little speed but nothing too crazy. I passed the 5th woman and was back at the beach. I saw Jason from Santa Cruz Running Company, SCE’s sponsor and said hello. Then I saw the gal who has passed me back at the water station. She was a few minutes ahead of me and I didn’t expect to catch her, but I felt good and caught up to her. There was less than a mile left, so I just cruised along to the finish line. I finished with an official time 58:27, a 7:51 pace. Good enough for 3rd in my age group, 4th woman, and 16th overall. Not too shabby. All age group winners got chocolate (nice!) and a medal.

I promise I wasn't running a race by myself!

I promise I wasn’t running a race by myself! (photo cred: SCRC)

This was a really nice, low-key event. If you’re in Santa Cruz during August next year, I definitely recommend it. While you will do a little climbing for the beach portion, the Wilder bluffs are on of the best running spots around. And this race, unlike other races, is ran entirely on them. For those into swag, the shirt is nice – I wouldn’t run in it but it will be good for the gym. There are two water stations and helpful volunteers. There is both a 4k and a 12k (instant PRs for uncommon distances) and this year, just over 150 runners.

Shirt for all participants, medal and chocolate for finishing in top 3 in AG

Shirt for all participants, medal and chocolate for finishing in top 3 in AG

Post race: Sarah (1st woman), Sam, and me

Post race: Sarah (1st woman), Sam (2nd woman), and me (photo cred: Sarah)

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…)

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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?