Tag Archives: half marathon

Fast Flats and Magic Macs: 2017 Oakland Half Marathon Recap

Days later, I’m still riding the high from Sunday. Was it even real? Did it really happen? Sure, that blood blister you didn’t ask about on my right pinkie toe says yes, that was real, but even with over 40 races under my belt, this is the first time that I have ever walked away from a race and wanted to pinch myself. It’s Thursday now, and it’s still surreal as ever.

It has been a long time coming, but it started with some great coaching, some confidence boosting and my “party dress.”

There’s something to be said about having a uniform. A competitive soccer player growing up, uniforms were something special, something with a sense of pride and a sense of something bigger than oneself. Practice uniforms were only for practice. White uniforms were for home games. Wearing our colors were so we could represent on the road. As a member of the Oiselle Volée team, I see my singlets the same way: they are uniforms, and they only come out on game day.

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Ekiden Coaching: Week 3

After just three weeks of remote coaching, I can understand why folks swear by it. There’s something rather lovely about both the accountability factor and receiving a daily text reminder about what the training plan is for tomorrow.

This was a last week of “building” before heading into a recovery week in week 4.

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We Run the Town: Half Marathon Recap

See part 1 of my Oakland Running Festival We Run the Town Challenge recap here.

Runners are a wonderfully crazy bunch, and I am one of those crazies who do things non-runners (and sometimes even fellow runners) don’t understand — or in some cases, things even I myself can’t quite explain. Case in point: seven months postpartum and just beginning to get back into a regular fitness routine, I decided it would be a good idea to run a 5K and a half marathon on the same day. Brilliance abounds when you’re sleep deprived.

After running an accidental PR in the 5K, I had a bit of waiting before the half started. I didn’t realize at the time that I had run a PR; all I knew was my legs felt not quite as fresh as I’d have liked, but I couldn’t figure out why. After grabbing my bag (as bag check at the Oakland Running Festival is phenomenal – it was so easy to get my bag checked, run, get it back, check it again – you get the picture) I settled in under a tree. Sweats on to keep warm, check, change of socks almost out of superstition, check, fuel… that’s where I failed. I couldn’t eat the protein bar I’d brought, but managed a banana and some Skratch Labs fruit drops. Thanks to social media, I met up with a coworker, which automatically put me more at ease. From there it just seemed folks were rolling in. Continue reading

We Run the Town Challenge: 5K Recap

One month, three races. While I didn’t necessarily plan to hit Spring running so hard, events stacked up that way, and after last year’s “speed bump racing season,” I for one am not going to complain.

My running challenges have varied as the years have ticked by: Ragnar Relay, the Dumbo Double Dare with a 10K one day and a half marathon the next, my first (very much not flat) marathon. This past Sunday I took a new challenge, one the folks at Corrigan Sports call the We Run the Town Challenge. What town? THE Town, naturally! Oaktown, or to most of the country, Oakland, CA.

Married to an Oakland native, born and raised, Oakland has become a spot in the East Bay near and dear to my heart, the first city that welcomed me home to the Bay Area when I left college in San Diego. A number of my coworkers were talking about running the half marathon, and I was still longing for another go at the marathon course as I had not run as hoped in 2015. (A pregnant second marathon was not in the books for me.) When opportunity arose to tour Oakland again by foot, I jumped at the chance and decided to go for the challenge. Challengers ran the 5K at 7:30, then had a break (depending on their speed) before running the half marathon at 9:10. For someone who is runDisney 5am trained, that was a very late half marathon start! Continue reading

Running Daydreams

My running dreams and aspirations have snowballed over time, exacerbated by all the new and exiting things I never knew about that I have discovered via social media. It seems like just yesterday I was toeing the line at my first race ever – a San Francisco 5K I ran with coworkers.

my first race ever

I distinctly remember running down the Embarcadero with my coworker Jenni. Neither of us was necessarily ‘well trained’ for the event, but we were young (and to a certain extent a little dumb, or at least, I was,) and excited to try something new. I was determined to run with her even though she tried to tell me to go ahead. Three point one miles felt so far! I remember being so happy when we reached the turnaround point. The smell of sourdough was in the air, the tourists were abundant and I was already dreaming about breakfast. It wasn’t until the end where I had some legs left and she was beginning to tire, when I heard our boss yelling from the top of a stairwell “Come on Ignacio, finish strong!” that I left her side, pushed and ran hard through the finish. It was my first race ever and there were no medals, no big arch, no photographer, just a taped off chute and some volunteers removing timing chips (whom I nearly missed in my excitement of being done.) I had done it: I had run a 5K!

Little did I know that would be the first of many races. Since that day back in 2009, my reach goals for running have changed greatly.

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Dumbo Double Dare Part 2: the Disneyland Half Marathon

Read my recap on the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Part 1: the Disneyland 10k here. Now, for the second installment!

Before we knew it, the Disneyland 10k was in the books.

Obligatory pre-race photo at the Disneyland 10k

A 10k novice, my friend Kari (dressed as Alice) and I both had a great time. We even managed to meet up with a couple of friends who had made some great run costumes. They had the best Tweedle collars I saw all weekend, and they made their own sparkle skirts. Freaking cute!

Kari and I stayed up probably a little later than we should have making sure everything was ready. When we had arrived Friday, I had sized her apron – a modified cloth napkin with trim and elastic – to fit for running. She had made a great iron on for her Will Robinson outfit for the half marathon, which she applied in the hotel room. We were hydrated. We had our ‘flat runner’ outfits laid out.

Flat me Maleficent! Spoiler alert: I ditched the tank top, but wearing my competition brief proved a stellar decision.

Now all that was left was to sleep and RUN THE RACE!

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What a Second Half: Wildcat Half Marathon

UPDATE 5.30.13 – see my gear-intensive version of this post now on Timeout with Title 9.

This race started with an aid station and ended with a heavy medal.


A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Brazen Racing‘s Western Pacific race (full and half marathons, 10k, and 5k on the trail.)  Brazen Racing is nearer and dearer to my heart than I had thought: they hosted first-ever trail race (Dirty 5k 2011) as well as my first trail 10k (Nitro Turkey 2012 – and more to come!)  Why wouldn’t I want to be on the other side of the “Water!” “Sports drink?” “Where’s gu?” equation? From understanding what is left (or isn’t) in a runner’s head at mile __ in a race to how I prefer to have a cup handed to me when I run by, it seemed only natural to have fellow runners aiding one another.

(As it turns out, this was an especially good thing: I happened to have some nuun in my bag when a bonking grape-flavor-hater stumbled into our station and of course I happily shared. It was quite hot out there!)

As we distributed snacks into paper cups, cut up bananas and accidentally huffed grape electrolyte powder mixing up tubs, I got to chatting with my new friendly and welcoming Brazen Racing family members. A full day’s volunteering wasn’t actually volunteering; we could request to be ‘paid’ by having the race entry to the Brazen event of our choice waived. Stellar, no? Some of you may have noticed that up until recently I had “Nitro Trail 10k, sign up pending” listed as race 6. However, at aid station three in the 90 plus degree heat, all that changed: Mickey convinced me that I had run a half before, it didn’t matter that it was my only half; I should forgo the 10k and just go for the half.

Before I could balk, the next day I emailed the race director. BOOM: second half registration done. Let the countdown and panicking commence: after the Tinker Bell Half at Disneyland in January, I essentially took a month and a half off from running and come late April I was running pretty short distances (about 2-3 miles and one 5 miler) and all on pretty flat road. The longest trail race to date I had done was one 10k. While I do regularly hike at the entrance to Wildcat Canyon where the race started, it’s usually a hike involving indulging our two dogs off leash with my husband, not 13.1 miles for time. Part of the course was unassisted and I had never run with a hydration pack. The term “shitting a brick” comes to mind.

photo 1
The view up as I ascended.

Clearly, I thought I was totally fucked. At times like this, eloquence and grace are secondary to primal instinct. Mother Nature told me to suck it up, buttercup, you signed up for this. Let’s find that magical place you always tell others is outside the comfort zone.

photo 4

Go on, ask me how I felt about this hill. At least I had my Team Sparkle visor, right?

With less than two weeks till the event, I hunkered down: kept up my training, thought more about my fueling and more than anything else, I mentally prepared. Researching the elevation and the like helped me really wrap my head around what I was about to endeavor, or if you’re a a masochist, how bad is bad. I took some reassurance from reading that the hills were not even recommended to run up, but instead hiked up and then straights and downhills run. The addition of a hiker division also appeased my ego. It wasn’t so much that I thought I’d DNF the race, bonk or barf: it was that I didn’t want to put up anything but my best showing. I sucked it up. I did it anyways.

Helium Hydration Pack” (decoded: Camelbak Spark10) borrowed from Customer Service at work with the promise of a thorough review upon return, I began to prepare. I filled the pockets with ClifShot, stashed some BodyGlide and a tick stick (among other things) in other compartments and tried to remember to breathe. Compression sleeves, check. Beloved, still new-ish PureGrit2 runners, check. New Brooks raceday singlet and Headsweats Team Sparkle visor, check. My Garmin charged and RoadID secured, if nothing else, I certainly looked ready.

photo 3

From whence I had come (down to the left, past the electrical tower – that way.)

After getting my bib and checking my bag there was no time left for a pre-race photo. I chit chatted briefly with some friendly folks at the start and could feel sweat in my palms. This was really happening; before I knew it I was crossing the timing line and starting my Garmin: race 6 of  103, half marathon #2 was underway.

Immediately, we pushed through a single-file funnel and were dumped out onto my familiar, well-worn path. Despite the excitement, I knew better: we were five minutes or less into the race, and I was walking. If this was the start, I knew we were probably in for it.

In short, I was right.

Over 13.1 miles, like my first half, I had revelations. I laughed. I may have teared up once, and, yet again, I had to bail out and make a little pit stop (but I made it past mile three this time!) Encouragement was given and received on the out and back course, lost 10kers shepherded back to their paths. A kind gent whose pace was close to mine played tag with me and even asked how my calves were as he held a cattle gate for me, mentioning that he had seen me stretching earlier. For a bit I even had a half-a-mile-or-so-maybe long companion made pushing up a hill before the last 5k. We laughed deliriously as the sun beat down, we sipped from our packs and trudged on. “My glutes quit about a mile back,” she told me. I countered that I didn’t think I was using my calves, hamstrings, possibly quads or glutes since I couldn’t quite feel them, so how I was even moving was a wonder to me.


I am truly surprised that I look like not-death, likely thanks in part to the hydration pack.

Before I forget, as promised for Carrie and the rest of the gals in CS: prior to the race I had never, ever run with a full pack, only a hydration belt that is really a fancy water bottle holster. If you saw me running through the building at work and around the parking lot prior to the race, it’s because I was adjusting all the straps. After that, I made zero adjustments, just filled the bladder, secured it, put my supplements in the side pockets and just went for it at the half marathon. I had no problems with chafing, shifting or leakage and definitely found it a great first-time hydration pack experience. It was easy to use and being able to take more frequent sips without any mess definitely helped me hydrate on the hot, dry course. Hope that helps you all!

Yet we pushed on. I caught and passed the nice gent and we wished one another well. As I rounded a corner (over the river and through the woods, essentially) and realized I was back at the top of my old familiar fork in the paths, my heart sang: thus far, I had accomplished my goals of not bonking or barfing and was most definitely going to finish before the sweep. A quick check of my Garmin told me I was definitely close to clinching my secret personal goal: sub 3 hours.

Okay, so I do my best to practice good run etiquette… but if you’re the gal in the blue in this picture, I am sorry I was so rude. We were getting so close to that single-track path and our paces were awkward for passing. It wasn’t my intention to walk on your heels on the single track path and then blow past you in the last 100 yards; I am simply a jerk who tries to kick it out in the last half a mile and stride out at the last 100 of every finish because it makes me feel like I really left whatever I had left out there. And remember how I was trying to get my secret personal goal accomplished?


Beep beep, jerkface coming through!

And this time, I was determined to try to have a more fun finish picture, so double jerkface on me. Double sorry, girl in blue.


Thank you volunteer photographer who caught my moment!

I FREAKING DID IT. And, bonus! I ran into the couple I had chit chatted with at the start and the gal won her age group. I encouraged her to apply to be a model at work. (Yes I mean it, if you’re out there reading!)

I was ecstatic. I didn’t see my official time at the finish but knew it had to be sub 3. But more importantly, I had done it: 2,240 plus feet of elevation over 13.1 miles only 48 minutes slower than my road half. It felt good to be done, but more importantly I was thankful that I had pushed myself and just went for it.

photo 5

Medal selfies: of course.

Post endorphin high and lolling about in the sun, there was of course the aftermath: exhaustion, nut butter and trail ‘anklets’ (dirt anklets, that is.)

photo 7  photo 8

With the Wildcat Trail Half under my belt and two more races coming (a 5 mile trail race and a 5k fun run,) my confidence is up. My closet is full of gear, my pantry full of BCAAs, Clif everything and nuun. The training calendar has been penned: Dumbo Double Dare, I am coming for you!

While I happen to be an employee of Title Nine, my hydration pack review is my own personal opinion; Camelbak is a vendor Title Nine works with who has in no way been involved in this review.