Tag Archives: race recap

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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Pacer Power: San Jose 408K Recap

Before I even share about how this year’s San Jose 408K went down, there are some folks I need to thank.

Thank you Represent Running for both another awesome San Jose 408K, and for giving me the opportunity to toe the line as part of Team Run the Bay for the third year in a row. It is truly something that fills my run-local-love cup.

Thank you to my Ekiden coach Jenny, for keeping me on task and for giving me a workload that helped me be more prepared than I mentally thought I was.

Thank you to my husband Colin, for all the coffee, bananas, encouraging words and toddler wrangling, both on race day and every time I had a “but I need to run” or “can I foam roll in peace?” moment.

And last, but definitely not least, a huge, heartfelt thanks to my amazing pacer. My cousin Dan is a very modest guy, but I think he’s a quiet badass, and I definitely wouldn’t have had the race I did had it not been for his pacing.

All that being said, I’m sure it’s pretty clear that this year was different. From running remotely, to running pregnant, to running postpartum without high expectations, a fourth go at this race left me a little lost. Should I try to PR? Should I just see what happens? Should I sleep in and skip it?
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Those Splits Are Bananas: San Jose 408K

For the third year in a row – and second time racing ‘live and in person’ as opposed to running remotely – I toed the line at the San Jose 408K, a race that has grown in importance for me every year. The first year, I ran remotely. Last year, I ran with my parents while quietly pregnant. This year, I was honored to run with my tall, speedy cousin. South Bay born and raised the 408K is becoming a ‘family’ event for me — and this year was quite memorable.

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While I was bummed I couldn’t get out to San Jose early enough to pick up my Represent Running ambassador gear. Under Armour hooked us up big time with shorts, shoes (yes shoes!) and a great “Represent Running” screened tee, I was still excited to be part of the crew. I kitted up in my long sleeved Oiselle Volée top thinking that if I couldn’t rep RR, I’d at least shout out to my fellow flockstars. (Sadly, I didn’t see another bird on the course. Bummer.) I even made good on my threat of bringing a teeny flat version of East Coast RR team member Dani so she could be part of the action too! Continue reading

Don’t Look Over There: Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers 2015There are plenty of unusual sites to be had at the century-plus old Bay to Breakers event that are only “normal” on race day: tortillas flying like misguided frisbees, stark naked men sporting clear backpacks full of clothing, entire gaggles of spectating gents dressed as prima ballerinas, groups of ‘centipede’ runners literally bound together with bungees.

This year, I was a Bay to Breakers oddity myself: a sober, pregnant runner.

(For the record, I only saw two other mothers-to-be taking on “Baby’s First Bay to Breakers” on the course, which means yes, we were sorely outnumbered by naked men. More power to you two, whomever you ladies were!)

With the Clif Bar house band

While I had been hoping to eek out one more race before running becomes uncomfortable, I hadn’t thought that Bay to Breakers – a race this Bay Area native has always wanted to do – would be a consideration. Early in the final countdown week, Clif Bar had sent out a tweet noting they were giving away some VIP entries for Sunday’s event. On a whim, I entered. I didn’t expect to check my email on Thursday night to find a congratulatory email and two codes for VIP entry to the race!

Enter excited whirlwind mode. Who was I going to invite to run with me? More importantly, what were we going to wear? Holy monkeys, BAY TO BREAKERS! IT WAS HAPPENING. Thankfully, my friend Erin – the same Erin whom I convinced to run the Across the Bay 5K – is a Bay Area transplant who also had Bay to Breakers on her bucket list. We signed up immediately and started making plans.

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What a Day: Across the Bay 5K

As I looked out over the water and heard the waves crashing, I could practically hear Mister Rogers singing: “It’s a beautiful day in the Bay to run, a beautiful day to be running…”IMG_3046

No? Okay, maybe not, but everyone toeing the line at yesterday’s Across the Bay 5K and 12K couldn’t have asked for a better day in the city. Though newly acquired by Represent Running, the Across the Bay race actually has a longstanding history as long as I am old — one that Bay Area locals were happy to see continued.

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Run or Dye SF

The first weekend in July held a special event: my friend Jackie and I ran Run or Dye SF, a 5k color fun run. For a gal who is on a mission to run 103 races, some have asked why I am choosing to count races such as this one, or why this race was even a big deal for “just a color run.”

Remember how mama used to tell you to think before you speak?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.