LA Cancer Challenge 2011 5k

Despite my sore throat I still managed to participate in the LA Cancer Challenge 5k on Sunday morning. Long time runners might remember that I ran the 10k last year. You can read my recap here. Confession: I was an ill prepared blogger and took limited pictures.

I run this race every year in honor of my friend Shahrin and her mom Lily. Lily died last year after a 16 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Every year Shahrin organizes a group of my friends to walk in Boston. I wish I could participate in that walk, but obviously it’s geographically impossible. So instead I participate in the LA Cancer Challenge which benefits the Hershberg Institute. You might remember Shahrin from when I went to her wedding last summer in Boston.

I love this race. It takes place on the VA grounds and because there are large teams of participants there is a family feel. People bring their dogs, dress up in costumes, and have shirts and signs about loved one who had pancreatic cancer. The race is well organized and contained in the VA grounds.

I also had my friend Danielle joining me. It was Danielle’s first organized race ever! Her Grandpa died of pancreatic cancer so it’s a cause close to her heart too.

Danielle and I on Halloween, in the spirit of the weekend, vampire and ballerina.

I woke up with a sore throat and I’ve only run 3 times since my marathon so I had planned to take it easy and run with Danielle. But at the last second Danielle said it was OK if I ran fast on my own and that’s what I did. What can I say? Races bring it out in me. The course was the same as the year before so I knew what to expect. It felt hillier than last year, probably because I moved and my new running routes have fewer hills. I felt great for the first mile and it was downhill from there.

I’ve been noticing that recently I can run for long distances slowly but I can’t run quickly. Especially with a sore throat I felt challenged. My legs never felt tired despite the hills but I did take several walk breaks to catch my breath. This is not my favorite thing to have to do but the fact is that I haven’t trained for speed and I was sick. It happens and I will bounce back. Plus I ran a marathon and it was worth it.

I managed to still finish in 28:50 and a 9:18 pace. Not bad by ANY means but I ran a half marathon with a faster pace. I guess it just highlights what I know I need to work on.

But the best news? I fifth out of 75 in my age division! Woo hoo! I can deal with that.

Overall I love this race and I hope to do it every year where I live in LA. The event is well run and I really love the community feel.

Unfortunately I was not feeling well before the race and the combination of a race plus yoga exacerbated my cold into a fever! I actually took Monday off of school and am starting to feel better finally.

How was your Halloween weekend?

so here’s the plan stan

Get ready for a bazillion race photos…

Remember a week or so ago when I ran a marathon?

I thought so.

Post race my Mom looked at me and said, “So you’re going to give your body a little rest now?” And you know what. I am.

The last year has been an awesome running year for me. In the past year I have raced 73 miles! I ran my first half marathon and two others, including one where I ran it in nearly 2 hours.

I also ran my first marathon!

I’ve been running for less than 2 years and I’ve already accomplished some amazing things and I am very proud of myself. You can read my running story here.

I see running, races and fitness as a lifelong activity. I plan to be doing this for the rest of my life and I’m only 24. I have so many long term goals. I want to get faster. I want to do triathlons. I want to run more marathons. I want to go on yoga retreats and practice more. I want to try other fitness workouts like cardio barre and cross fit. There is plenty of time to get to all of these things and I cannot wait to explore them in the future and share them with you on the blog.

One question I was asked immediately after my marathon was “are you going to do another one??

YES. I promise you that I will be running another marathon!

When? After the Bar Exam. If you’ve been reading for a while you know that I am a third year law student which means that starting in May my life is going to become consumed by something called the bar exam. The exam itself is in late July and then I plan to do nothing for a while in August. While marathon training was an amazing self esteem boosting experience it was also stressful and anxiety provoking in many ways. This is not something I want to deal with while preparing for the bar. I will run another marathon but I’m thinking spring 2013, the LA Marathon.

So what is next in the near future?

Well, I took last week totally off. I was sore through Wednesday, went to San Francisco on Friday, walked all over the city on Saturday and traveled home on Sunday. I ate whatever I wanted but made the decision to go back to regular cleanish eating at noon on Sunday (exactly one week after the marathon). I eat chocolate once a day so it’s not really like my indulgent eating was that different than what I usually do but I knew I needed to give myself a deadline on treating myself.

Treat yo self.

Also, I may have signed up for another 1/2 marathon.

I will be running the Pasadena Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon! Now that have been around the block a few times with half marathon training I plan to use an intermediate training plan and working in some speed work. I would love to run a sub 2 hour half marathon. Pasadena is hilly but I’m going to give it the old college try.

The race isn’t until February and I don’t plan to start training until December. What will I be doing for the next month and a half? Well, I plan to try and go to yoga once a week, Zumba once to twice a week and run 2 to 3 times a week with runs from 3 to 6 miles. I went to Zumba and loved it! It was only my second class ever but I love the environment of Zumba. It’s very female positive and I love the fact that even though I’m not very skilled I can still have a good time. What I lack in skill I totally make up for with sass. I love any situation where it is socially appropriate to booty pop.

So that is the plan for now! I plan another marathon post or two regarding issues surrounding marathoning like fueling, my playlist, and post marathon reflections. Is there anything else marathoning related you’d like to read about?

Chicago Eats

I ate a ton of delicious food while I was home in Chicago last weekend. For the most part I didn’t really blog my eats. I wanted to chill out with my family and not worry about photographing everything I ate. There were some important eats that needed to be documented. I also thought it would be a good idea to put some food on the blog before you start thinking that I’ve completely turned into a running blogger.

First, let me introduce you to cider donuts! I woke up Friday morning prepared to carb load on donuts. Runner’s World told me to.

I have been on the hunt for cider donuts since I moved to LA. What makes this cider donut so special you ask? Well, despite the fact that it just looks like a simple cinnamon sugar donut, in reality it is so much more. Yes, there is cinnamon sugar on the outside but the donut is made with apple cider giving the cake itself a little something extra.

See…

It makes the difference. I promise the sugar and the cider flavor are perfection together. I actually ate two because it’s been two years since I was able to eat cider donuts. Every bite was amahzing.

One more gratuitous photo?

Sure!

After eating donuts (and making a pit stop for cupcakes) my Mom and I finally made it to the expo to pick up my bib and peruse the booths.

First we took care of business: picking up my bib, verifying my d chip and taking pictures.

Then we noshed on gratuitous free things. Lara bars for me and peanut butter for Mom. We also picked up a shirt that has a map of the El train and says “run like El“. Best shirt ever? Hell yes.

After we went to Manny’s Deli for sandwiches and potato pancakes. Manny’s was heavily tweeted about by @mayoremmanuel (the fake Rham Emmanuel twitter account which I followed religiously) and was a fixture of my Mom’s working life when she worked down town. I had a huge corned beef sandwich. It was epic!

The next day we headed back downtown to pick up the little bro! The boats were going to winter storage.

After securing the brother we went to another Chicago classic for breakfast: Lou Mitchells.

Girls get Milk Duds at Lou’s. We also ate unphotographed donuts while waiting in line. They we not cider but they were so delicious: simple little donut holes with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

I decided to order the Katherine Classic breakfast: pancakes with a side of breakfast potatoes.

Holy crap so good! Potatoes were perfection and the pancakes oh the pancakes! These were some of the best pancakes I’ve had in a while. So light and topped with butter and a little bit of syrup. Oh my goodness best breakfast in Chicago!

I also had coffee, obviously.

Carb load complete.

You know what happened the rest of the weekend…

I ran a marathon!

Here is a gratuitous finish line photo…

And with my brother…

And nearing the end…

And this is what it looks like between mile 26 and mile 26.2 when you’re crying and about to finish a marathon. In case you were wondering. I know you were.

Did I mention I ran a marathon last weekend? Ha. Get used to looking at them.

As this post demonstrates, I love eating in other cities.

Guess where I’ll be eating this weekend?

Yep, I’m taking my first trip to San Francisco! In addition to continuing my post marathon victory lap I will be eating with my treat soul mates Carolyn and Chrissy. Should be a fantastic weekend!

I am a Marathoner! Chicago Marathon Race Recap

It’s official! I crossed the finish line at the Chicago Marathon after 26.2 miles. I can now call myself a marathoner!

I will start at the beginning. I had a 4:30 am wake-up call at my parent’s house. I barely slept the night before but I rolled out of bed with enthusiasm. The day I’d been preparing for had finally arrived. I stretched out, ate half of a peanut butter bagel, went to the bath room, trimmed my toe nails, chugged coffee, you know, all the race day essentials. I normally start race morning with a tired face but yesterday I was sporting my excited face.

FYI Repping for the summer intern crew with my t shirt

Ready to race!

My Dad drove me downtown. We’re really lucky because he works near the start time. We parked hassle free in his work parking lot and I got to use the bathroom at his office. Yay for not waiting in porta potty lines twice.

I also snapped this pic of Millennium Park (which is just north of Grant Park). It was still dark while walking over to the start line.

My Dad walked me over to the start line. My Dad stayed with me as long as they would let him but I said goodbye eventually and entered the park. 35,000 people were at the start line but it was so well organized. I was able to quickly drop my bag, hit the porta potties one last time and still lined up 30 mins before the start.

One of my favorite things about races is being up early enough to watch the sun rise in some incredible places like Malibu, San Diego, and Ventura. Now I can add Chicago to the list.

I got in line near the 11 min mile pacers. I mentioned before but I did not train for time. I took it easy on my long runs and I didn’t even think about doing speed work. Literally my goal was to finish and not to puke on myself. I figured since I run around 9:30 min miles in halves, 11:00 would be accurate for a full. I started to get nervous so I chatted up someone with an LA Road Runners chip on his shoe. I also saw a man with his face entirely painted like spider man. The girl next to me and I started to guess what would happen to his face by mile 5. There were so many people that it took 22 mins for me to pass the start line. Starting was amazing. There were tons of spectators and the noise in the tunnel that goes under the Standard Oil building (the tallest one in the above photo) was so loud.

My plan was to take it easy for the first 10 miles. The course was crowded which was good because it forced me to go more slowly than I might have otherwise. After mile 1 we passed the iconic Chicago theater, just before mile 2 we passed a water station. There were tons of spectators with great signs and the first 5 miles flew by me. Some of my favorite signs? “26.2 miles = 26.2 cupcakes” “if you have the stamina to run for 4 hours, call me!” “Run like you stole something” and “Run like your mother is chasing you”. I also saw some Occupy Chicago protesters. Not to be political but I’m a big supporter of the Occupy movement and I actually started cheering them when I ran by.

Just before mile 5 we hit Lincoln Park. I really had to pee so I pulled off at the first porta potties. I wasn’t the only one, there was a line which was ok. I caught my breath and talked to a stranger who told me that “sweat is nothing but liquid awesome”. So, so true.

I started cranking again after mile 5. I walked through all the water stations because it was HOT yesterday. I love cold, shaded running with no humidity so this was not my ideal conditions for running but I stayed strong. Just after mile 7 the course turned and headed south. At this point I saw a women laid out on the ground being fed a gel. Up until this point I had thrown my run/walk method out the window in favor of running with walks through water stations. After I saw her it hit me that the weather conditions are REAL and I needed to take it easy. I ended up taking 2 waters at every station and more to pour on my body. I also consumed 6 gels over the course of the race. I started taking walk breaks when I needed them but at that point they were few and far between.

At mile 8 we hit Lakeview AKA boys town! Easily one of my favorite parts of the course! There were out and proud ROTC members which warmed my heart. There were tons of people out partying including drag queens in cup dresses dressed up to by Lady Gaga and line dancers dressed up like cowboys. I loved this part of the course.

The heat started getting more intense after mile 8. There were people out with hoses and I ran through all of them. They also had sponges on the course and tons of water. I cannot overstate how amazing the people of Chicago were and how great the race execution was. It reminded me why I love the people of Chicago and why I am proud to be from there. Miles 8 through 13 are really a blur besides being hot and dousing myself in as much cold water as I could get my hands on.

Around mile 13.1 I knew that I needed to start taking my 10:2 run/walk ratio. I had maintained an 11:40 pace for the first half. I actually had a negative split between the 10k and half way point which I was proud of.

I hit a major second wind between mile 13 and mile 18. I was in my groove and some of my more clutch songs came on my ipod. I was still walking through water stations. I ran through every sprinkler. Trick of the trade: tell the person with the hose that you love them and they will spray you down extra! There was a woman at Malcolm X Community College who literally hosed me down for a full 30 seconds. I was SO grateful. I really liked this part of the course because it went by an area where my Mother used to work that I’ve seen/heard about for years, the Greek Islands, a restaurant my Father frequents, and the United Center (home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks). The cool thing about this course was that I saw many parts of the city and was about to put them together better than I was able to before.

Also memorable, at mile 16 I passed a police station with a large sign with pictures of police officers. The sign read, “These and 500 police officers killed in the line of duty will keep you safe for the next 10 miles”. I nearly burst into tears but I suppressed it and decided to save the emotion for later when I would really need it.

By the time I got to mile 18 I kept thinking about how I was going to see my family at mile 19 and that I wanted to look strong when I saw them. Mile 19 is in Pilsen, a heavily Mexican area and there were TONS of spectators turned out with tons of decoration, noise makers and music. They really pushed me. At mile 19 my brother David jumped in with me. I have never been so happy to see my brother in my life. I needed him to push me. He also had my camera with him and he started snapping away.

Seriously, can you see the pure joy on my face?

I hit mile 20 and all I could think was this is the farthest I’ve ever run before. David kept me motivated and I am so thankful that he was with me that that he is my brother. He kept pushing me but was very supportive at the same time. I cried on him (very briefly) twice and he kept supporting me.

At this part of the course we were South of downtown but had a great view of the city.

I have a confession: after I run 18 miles I start to get a little crazy. Like singing along to the songs on my ipod and quoting lines from Arrested Development. I had warned my bro about this and his reply was something to the effect of “you’re always weird”. Excellent. He played along well because after mile 20 I started singing along to Britney Spears, Eminem, Deadmau5, and David Guetta. Yeah. At one point on the course I was running, and singing the lyrics to “Sofi Needs a Ladder”. I think my brother actually sang along to something like Britney or some rap song (I can’t really remember which it was). My brother even yelled at me to “turn my swag on”. I’m pretty sure everyone who saw me thought I was crazy but that’s ok because I’d run 20 miles. I stopped caring.

And for you Arrested Development fans: I saw a guy with ice and I actually yelled “You can’t have a party without ICE!!!” Yep. I’m that girl.

At mile 22 my brother and I entered Chinatown which was another one of my favorite parts of the course. There were tons of spectators and groups out supporting the runners.

This is my favorite picture that has ever been taken of me hands down. I will love this forever. I look at it and I cannot believe that that is MY back with my back muscles at mile 22 of a marathon. I can still feel how I felt in that moment and I hope I will never forget it. My body felt sore but I felt so mentally tough. At no point did I think I couldn’t do this or that I wouldn’t be able to. I was determined to make it to the end and I knew that I could. I’m proud that I finished but I’m even more proud of myself for never doubting my ability to finish and staying strong. I know that I will take that into everything I do in the future. That picture makes me feel strong, I did it all by myself FOR myself and I never want to let that feeling go.

At mile 23 we were going to meet up with two of my friends from growing up: Brenna and Claire. I’ve known them forever and it made me so excited to know that they were going to meet up with me and boost my spirits for the last 5k.

With my friends after mile 23. David actually stayed in and ended up running 7 miles like a CHAMP!

My friend Claire was a division 1 athlete in college and a great coach. She really pushed me to keep running when I was sooooo wanting to just walk the majority of the last three miles. She knew I had more in me and she wouldn’t let me give less than I had left in me.

Seriously my crew was so awesome. See that girl in the yellow tank top? Looking at us and totes jealous.

By the end of the race I was totally drenched in water. The temps actually felt colder near the finish line because we were running up Michigan Ave and were closer to the lake. It was sweet, sweet relief for the final few miles.

I was taking frequent walk breaks but was always telling myself when I would start running again and Claire held me to it. Seriously she has a talent. I want a recording of her voice in my ipod for future races and long runs. She would not let me walk because she knew I could run. At mile 24 there was a cheer zone and someone on a loud speaker saying, “You are about to finish. THE. Chicago. Marathon!” It made me push harder.

After the mile 25.2 sign I started pumping my arms and running as much as I could. Before we turned the corner onto the uphill that leads to Grant Park and the finish line Claire and David got pulled off the course. Brenna was running behind up and by some fluke she was able to cross the finish line. They kept trying to give her a medal! While she did not accept a medal she did accept a free beer (wouldn’t you?) I had no idea about this until after the race.

I walked up the uphill and pushed to the finish line.

I crossed the finish line with my arms extended, took a heat blanket and started to cry but it was a glorious cry because I WAS A MARATHONER!

It took me 5:22 mins with an average pace of 12:17. I held a sub 12 min mile pace until after passing 30k. I gimped around, got my medal, had three sips of free beer before discarding it and hobbled to get my bag from gear check. I love the lakefront and Grant Park.

I made a call to the friend who inspired ME to start running because I wanted her to be the first to know that I had finished and went to the family reunion area to reconnect with my people.

Pain is temporary but pride is forever.

It still hasn’t totally hit me what I did yesterday. I have a runner’s high and a sense of earned pride. Like I said, I am most proud of myself for staying really mentally tough the whole time. I never hit a wall. I managed to push through the whole thing and I could not be more proud of myself. This feeling is going to be with me forever and this moment can never be taken away from me. I know that I will take it into other parts of my life like studying from the bar and other personal challenges I face. I started running at a time in my life where I was struggling emotionally and yesterday made me feel like I’ve conquered everything and nothing will ever hold me back.

After the race I went home and promptly ate about a million treats that my mom baked, Cape Cod chips and local fall beer. It was everything I wanted and more.

Thank you to all of my family, friends and reads. I have felt so much love throughout my training and especially in the past week. You all are the best ever. Special thanks to my family and friends who jumped in with me. I cannot express how much your support means to me. I feel so blessed to have so many loving and supportive people in my life. I’ll have more posts about the marathon coming up including my future plans for working out (after a well deserved week off!).

Half Marathon of the Harbors Race Recap

This morning I woke up bright and early (4 AM!) to run my third 1/2 marathon, the Half Marathon of the Harbors in Ventura, California. This half marathon was the most low key I’ve ever done. No parents in town, no fancy meal the night before. Just me waking up early, drinking watered down Gatorade (more on that later) and driving in the dark to Ventura.

Pre race eats:

Sadly, not beer.

Coffee.

Bagel I burned with peanut butter on it.

Ventura is about 50 miles north of where I live in LA and at 4:45 the ride only took 45 mins. Woo for making good time. It was still pitch black when I arrived. This race was the polar opposite of Rock n Roll San Diego. Only 550 people ran the race today meaning I got to park about 500 feet from the start line! Big and small races both have their benefits. I was able to pick up my packet, affix my number and drop all of my things at the car within about 15 mins.

Before the race picture.

Terrible, just terrible. This picture says, “Hello, it’s 4 am and I didn’t sleep well last night and I can’t stay awake”.

I hopped on the bathroom ride and ran into Amanda’s younger sister Sarah, her boyfriend Chris and her Dad. It was Sarah and Chris’ first half marathons. Sarah and Amanda’s dad is a long time runner (he’s done an ULTRA!) It’s always great to run into people you know on race day.

The race started and ended from Ventura Harbor which was beautiful.

Best part of racing is seeing the sun rise over the Pacific.

Like I said, the race was tiny, especially compared to San Diego.

See that surf board on the left? That was the start line. I’m not sure what the story is with official times but I used my watch while running. Pretty soon the race started and I was running my third half marathon.

I talked big talk this week about trying to go sub 2 hours. I was so close in San Diego. I figured with my marathon training I should be able to hit it. I knew I needed to hit around 9:00 min miles. Using my watch I measured my splits.

Mile 1: 8:36 (way too fast, told myself to slow down)

Mile 2: 10:02 (too slow, pick up the place)

Mile 3: 8:50 (good!)

However, mile 3 is where the wheel started to fall off. I brought watered down Gatorade to the race. Because it was the first Half Marathon of the Harbors ever I was unsure what the water situation would be along the course. I feared running out of water so I brought my water bottle and planned to supplement my water breaks with the drink. I started drinking it along with 30 second walk breaks every mile at mile 2. Around mile 3 I started getting nauseous and sadly, the feeling never fully went away. I trucked along and before too long it was mile 4 (9:04).

This whole time, on top of being nauseous I really needed to pee. Somewhere around mile 5 I hopped into the bathroom. I think I over drank watered down Gatorade before I left the house this morning. By the time I hit the bathrooms the course had made its way to the ocean front. It was beautiful.

This was also around the time that the mile markers began getting wonky. I think they were misplaced along the course. I never saw a mile 6 sign and I think the mile 7 sign was facing the wrong way? I also think misplacement of signs could explain my wacky splits. After mile 4 I didn’t have splits because of odd sign placement.

My nausea got much worse around mile 6. I took a Gu and made an official decision to stop drinking watered down Gatorade. I also increased my walk breaks. I almost puked in my mouth twice… it wasn’t pretty or comfortable.

Around mile 8 I started taking 1 min long walk breaks. My legs were super sore and my nausea was still kicking around. I looked at my watch and knew I wasn’t going to hit sub 2 hours. Truthfully, I knew this when my nausea set in at mile 3. I spent about 30 seconds feeling really sorry for myself, and then a voice (which sounded suspiciously like my Mother) came into my head and said “Get over yourself! You’re running you’re third half marathon in a year. You’re training for a marathon. Get the fuck over it!” Pity party over. I hauled my booty for the rest of the race. Ironically, when I talked to my Mom after the race she said “who cares? You’ve run three more half marathons than anyone in the family!”

Oh, and this tweet came to my mind too as I was ending my pity party.

I don’t have an older sister, but if I did I would like her to have said something like this to me. Maura, you’re seriously the best.

Around mile 9 the nausea mostly subsided (it didn’t really go away till the end of the race, but it was much better) and I started thinking about how much my life has changed in the past two years. This time two years ago I was at my high weight and didn’t feel very good about myself or my life. I got a little emotional. At mile 10 my watch read 1:36 and I knew that in order to PR I would have to run the last three miles at my 5k PR pace (aka it wasn’t happening). The pressure was off and I took it easy. I had some great spurts of energy. After mile 11 there were no mile markers which kinda bothered me. Around mile 11.5 (?) Avicci’s “My Feelings for You” came on and was totally clutch. It really helped me move my legs.

Before I knew it the finish line was in my sights and I was done!

Final time 2:09:20.

Hey, not a PR but still better than my first 1/2, still a great 13 mile training run and still a completed 1/2 marathon. The big goal isn’t this half marathon, it’s the full marathon in Chicago. I learned some lessons about fueling that will help me in Chicago. The course was beautiful. I got my runners high and now I get to put my feet up and watch Entourage, True Blood, Jersey Shore and the VMA’s (epic TV night people!)

Oh and Sarah?

She is a beast! She ran sub 2 hours in the first half! Seriously, so epic. Congrats Sarah!

After the race I took off my shoe to access the foot situation (I’ve had a blood blister problem in the past while racing but not during my longer training runs). Oh yes. I’m rocking several blood blisters and one popped leaving me with a bloody sock. Just call me Kurt Schilling.

It actually doesn’t hurt (yet). Check out my runner’s high smile post race. Nothing gets me down. Running is a good analogy for life. You can’t control everything that happens to you but you can control how you react to it. So why feel bad for yourself? Who cares about time goals? I rocked a half marathon today. Bring on the treats! With that in mind, I trekked back to LA and hit Lemonade.

I took an ice bath, shower and dug into some mac and cheese.

Exactly what I needed! I also got an assortment of salads. I barely touched the chicken (I actually was full!) but I ate much of the roasted beets and tangerine rice.

I plan on enjoying the rest for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.

The rest of the day I’m going to hang out, clean my apartment a little bit, watch TV and get ice cream from Sweet Rose! I think I earned it.

Next stop: Chicago!

San Diego Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

What a day it has been!

When I set out this morning on my second half marathon I wasn’t sure what to expect. I set some conservative goals a week or so ago on the blog and truthfully, I wasn’t sure myself what I was capable of. I knew it would be nice to set a new PR (personal record) but I certainly didn’t expect to set a new PR. Well, not only did I set a new PR in San Diego I trounced my old PR by 9 mins!

Backing up to this morning…

I woke up in the Coronado (another post about the Coronado to come later) at 4:00 AM. Even though it felt extremely early I rolled out of bed and got ready. Traveling for a race meant I was forced to lay everything out the night before.

It takes a village people.

Then I dined on a typical pre race meal: coffee, huge glass of water and a bagel with peanut butter.

Hotel coffee was nasty. It made me miss my little French press but I dealt with it.

Dad came over and I handed him a bag of things I’d want at the finish (flip flops, camera etc). He took a picture of me before I headed out.

This is my “it’s 4 am, don’t eff with me” face. Please ignore the fact that I’m breaking out like the before picture on a proactive commercial.

The Coronado was great. They provided a shuttle to the start line. I picked up the shuttle at 5. There were several more experienced runners on the shuttle and it was fun to chat with them. Many of them had run Chicago so it was interesting to hear what I have in store for me this fall!

The race started in Balboa Park and was very well organized. I managed to make it to bag check and drop my bag with very little trouble. Then I waited in line for the bathroom and ran into Melissa! Melissa ran the FULL because she’s a rock star like that. Melissa also was with her boy friend Whit, who was running his first half marathon and her friend who was so fast she got seeded in corral 2! Melissa, Whit and I slipped into corral 18. I saw a 2:10 pacer and thought to myself that as long as I could stay in front of them I would be able to PR. Before we knew it we were walking forward to the start, the gun when off and we were running. I lost Melissa and Whit quickly.

I wasn’t sure when I crossed the start line but I felt great. The first three miles my foot felt a little tight but it loosened up and I was cruising but I actually didn’t feel like I was killing myself. I just felt like I was out for a casual jog. At mile 1 I finally saw a clock and it said we we’re 30 mins in (because I didn’t cross the start line immediately). At mile 2 the clock said 39 mins. I realized that I was running 9 min miles and feeling fantastic. I hit the 5k at 26:56 which is only 1 min and 30 secs off my 5K PR. I was pretty excited about this development.

Seriously, I cannot overstate how good I felt for the first 10 miles of this race, especially miles 1-5. I was doing my thing, enjoying my music and looking around. The first 5 miles were beautiful, shady and every short uphill had a downhill. The bands along the course were having a good time, keeping the energy up, and there was good crowd support including a little boy clutching a sign that said “I thought this was supposed to be a Justin Bieber concert”. So adorable. I was a happy camper for the first 5 miles.


At mile 4 the full marathoners split off from the group and we ran onto Route 163. Again, this part of the course was shady and I felt great. My legs were starting to feel tired on the up hills but the down hills revived them. I felt nothing like I did in Malibu. At this point in Malibu I was already digging deep and swearing I would never run another race, not even a 5k, as long as I lived. I walked though all the water stations. We were running on the 163 for a while (I believe it was miles 4-8).

At one point there was a water station staffed with all Big 10 School Supporters. They all had flags and T Shirts representing the different Big 10 schools. For those that don’t know my Dad went to Northwestern and I grew up walking distance from the school. We are season ticket holders for Football and Basketball plus I worked at NU in a social psych lab for two summers in Undergrad so my family has a close connection with the school. Sadly however there was no Northwestern representation. I yelled at a Michigan man asking where NU was but he said there weren’t any. Thus I was forced to take water from an Ohio State supporter. I ran over the 10k strip at the 55:02 min mark which is faster than I ran a 10k in October. Can’t lie, that makes me feel like a baller. I also took a Gu between mile 5 and 6. Mile 5 was also the magic point where I stopped really caring about my finishing time.

Miles 7 – 9 are kind of a blur. I was still feeling and chugging along. A women ran up beside me with a 2:10 pace number on her back. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if she was doing her pace and she said no, she was doing 9 min pace. I felt good at that point. I knew that I had built up a good bank of time. I was on track to PR even if my pace dipped down a little bit. Then, just before Mile 10 I saw LCCDad! I actually saw him before he saw me. I’ve only ever seen family spectators at the finish line and seeing him really put a pep in my step. Later, he said he was shocked by how good I looked.

Waving back between mile 9 and 10.

I crossed the 10 mile mark at 1:30:19.

After mile 10, the heat started to get to me. It wasn’t even that it was hot, it was more that it was very sunny. There was no marine layer this morning (layer of clouds that keeps the sun away until the late morning, its common along the coast in CA in June) and the sun in Southern California is HOT. I knew I had time in the bank and I didn’t want to burn out by forcing myself to run like crazy. I was feeling hot and a little bit nauseous so I decided that for the final 3 miles to use a walk/run method. I walked through water stations, taking two and pouring them on my head. It was hot but I ran and walked my way through the final 3 miles. Between mile 11 and 12 I grabbed a cup thinking it was water and poured it on my head. Sadly, it wasn’t water, it was Cytomax a nasty sports drink that I was not partaking in along the course. Then I threw some water on my head to water down the Cytomax. One of my head phones was in the line of fire and got water logged. Whoops.

Before I knew it I was coming up to the Mile 12 sign. I started to run again. There was a short incline just before the mile 13 sign…

This is me at mile 13. After I saw the mile 13 sign I took off at an unreal pace to the finish. Way faster than I ever sprint at the end of a run.

I crossed the finish line at 2:02:58. Not only is this a PR, it is 9 mins faster than I ran at Malibu! Average pace: 9:20. I also finished 214 out of 1092 in my division!
This is a major step up from my last half marathon and I am very, very proud of this accomplishment.

Post race photo! LCCDad even got me flowers. I believe that I was tweeting the good news in this photo. You can see in this picture that I ran in my new running skirt. It worked out well and I didn’t chafe. This is for sure going to be my go to skirt for marathon training.

After the race we walked about a mile back to the trolley station, took the trolley to Qualcomm stadium where we parked. My legs felt good while walking but I am sore and I will be feeling it tomorrow. I also had a lovely blood blister on my right foot which is not going to be pleasant tomorrow. It actually grossed out LCCDad. I am almost at the point where I need new shoes. Hopefully I can remedy this blood blister issue with the next pair of shoes. We made our way back to the Coronado, showered and grabbed lunch. I was starving!

The lunch view.

I never want to leave San Diego. Seriously, a 9 min PR AND this view? Not leaving.

To start I had a beer, because running makes me crave beer (don’t ask). This was a local seasonal beer but I forget the name. It was like a lighter version of Blue Moon.

To eat I had a chicken BLT. The bacon might steal the title of best bacon. It was so thick! Plus, the tomatoes were heirlooms. Obviously, I also had fries. Duh.

After lunch we hit the road back to LA. I will be back later this week with posts about the Coronado and a running post about the two halves I’ve done and laying out how I will cover my training for Chicago on the blog.

Overall, I had an amazing experience at Rock n Roll San Diego. I will definitely be back for another race! Extra thanks for all the tweets, texts, facebook notes, and blog comments I got during and after the race. You guys are the best! 

San Diego 1/2 Marathon Update

Hey gang!

I haven’t really updated about running in a while so I thought this would be a good time for a running state of the union.

You might remember that I am running the San Diego Rock n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon in less than two weeks. I am so excited! I’ve never been to San Diego before and I am so excited to run my second 1/2.

Source

I haven’t posted about my training much. In all honesty, the build up to this 1/2 hasn’t been the same as the build up to Malibu (my first 1/2 back in November. Since Malibu was my first 1/2 the training was more special. Every long run was a new personal distance record. When I signed up for Malibu (almost a year ago!) I had never run further than 4 miles. After I had a runners high that lasted for a week. It really was the most incredible feeling.

Source

This time around I haven’t been as excited but in the past few weeks, especially since finals, I’ve been starting to get excited again. I’ve also learned some great lessons. For starters, I made an ambitious training plan which I didn’t really follow. I shouldn’t have made my plan before classes started. I have, however, been working out hard.

In addition to running I’ve consistently gone to yoga twice a week since January. I’ve noticed some changes in my body. I’ve toned up and right now I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’ve lost another size since my last 1/2 and have upped my mileage to greater than 20 a week. All in all, I’ve been working out 6 days a week nearly every week with the exception of some random rest weeks, like Spring Break for example, when I let shopping be my cardio.

I don’t time myself when I run so I’m not totally sure what to expect in terms of my time on race day. It would be amazing to run faster than I did in Malibu. I ran Malibu at a just over 10 min mile pace for 2:11. Malibu was super hilly and hot plus when I was training for Malibu I was ONLY running and not cross training at all. In terms of race goals I just want to have fun. So much is left to chance with a race. Who knows how I will feel on race day or what the weather will do. My major race goal is to have fun, but don’t get me wrong, I really want to set a PR. We shall see!

Another reason to be excited for SD? LCCDAD is coming to So Cal to watch me run! He has never seen me run a race before and I haven’t seen him since December so I am very excited to spend some quality time with him.

After completing SD I am going to turn my attention to marathon training! You may remember that I registered for the Chicago Marathon last February. I am so stoked to tackle the marathon. I’ve been reading up on marathons for a while and I am working on a training plan for Chicago. For the record: its only going to be a partial plan. I’ve learned from my mistakes this semester. I haven’t selected classes for Fall yet and I refuse to commit myself to something I’m not 100% sure I can keep. Once I pick classes I will plan my week day workouts. I will however plan out my weekends (which I know will consist of long runs and my favorite yoga class).

So many amazing things are on the horizon, I cannot wait to share it all with you!  

Santa Monica to Venice Christmas Run

Today I learned a couple of lessons about preparing for races and I set a new 5k PR.

Backing up. I woke up this morning at 7 am which was a nice wake up call for a race! Normally I’m up at 5 or 6 am on race morning. I was thankful for the extra 2 hours. I was thirsty when I woke up. I went out last night and had a drink. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem (I mean, I had wine the night before my half!)  but I woke up so thirsty. I downed a glass of water and felt full so I stopped drinking water, had peanut butter toast and a enough coffee to wake myself up (muhahahaha, I’m not telling you how much that is).

Lesson #1: Make sure you are properly hydrated. Instead of that fantastic St. Germain cocktail, order a water. Or chase it with several glasses of water. Normally for every glass of booze I order I get at least one glass of water. This didn’t happen last night.

go number 3289!

I got in the car and drove to Santa Monica with plenty of time. I wanted to save parking money and warm up my legs so I parked at Santa Monica Place and walked the mile and a half. I had plenty of time and felt totally relaxed. I brought a bottle of water and I meant to drink it but I forgot that it was in my bag. I got to the start line and started to look for the bag drop.

Lesson #2: Check to make sure there is a bag drop.

Yep. There wasn’t one. This lead to panic. The race organizer just looked at me blankly when I asked what I should do. Not helpful. I was also trying to find Kaitlin and Amanda and I just wasn’t seeing them which frazzled me. Then I figured out that I could stash my bag with the Primetime Timing people. Thank god. Remember that if you’re ever in a race day bind.

I finally caught up with Kaitlin. I felt all thrown off by the bag drama. I didn’t have a second snack and I didn’t have the water I brought. Yep. I only had one glass of water before the race. Poor choice.

Because I really wanted to PR I went towards the front of the line. I was next to a 60 year old man in swimming shorts, no top, and he had an Ironman tattoo. He looked hardcore. It was a lot for my mind to process in the accelerated state it was in.

The gun went off and the race started. The course went into Venice and back to Santa Monica on the board walk. The marine layer was pretty thick today but the sun peaked through. I cruised for the first mile and a half. My feet and legs felt awesome on the mostly flat course (after Malibu its going to take some serious hills to throw me). Since I wanted to PR I pushed myself for the first mile and a half. Around mile 2 the course turned back towards Santa Monica and we ran back along the boardwalk.

If you know anything about Venice, you know its a great place for people watching, which kept me entertained along the boardwalk. I needed it! After mile two I started to feel tired. I was super thirsty and hungry (probably because I was thirsty) and I felt winded. I was kicking myself for freaking out before and forgetting to hydrate. I walked through a water station.

Lesson #3: A 5k is really hard

During the last mile, while watching the surfers, people pumping iron at muscle beach, randoms eating breakfast, and smelling the smoke pouring out of the “medical dispensary” (for real, you can just tell you’re in Venice by the smell) I thought about how hard a 5k is. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that everyone can train for and run a 5k but it is much different than the distance running I’ve been doing. During a 5k I’m compelled to run as fast as possible unlike the half where the goal was just to finish. I have major respect for anyone who runs a 5k.

Before I knew I saw the blessed mile 3 sign and my reflective moment ended. I sprinted to the finish. I finished the 5k in 25:25, with an average pace of 8:10 setting a new PR!

Part of me really wanted to break 25 min. but, overall, I am very happy with my time. After grabbing water I went back and watched Kaitlin and Amanda finish their races strong! It was Kaitlin’s birthday and she wrote “its my birthday” on her shirt. Someone even sang to her while she was running. Best idea ever, kicking off your birthday with a race. There were some adorable dogs running including a dog wearing antlers, a golden, and another probably 60 lb dog being carried that last .1 mile by their owner!

After the race we headed back to Santa Monica for breakfast. I had steel cut oats.

There might have been some hash browns and an iced coffee too. And by might, I mean there were.

After breakfast I said goodbye to everyone and headed home. My foot felt a little twinge so I iced it on a bottle of gin and took it easy.

Here is the playlist that I listened to (I finished during the Peas).

Overall my 5th race was great! It felt great to run and to PR. I am definitely hooked on racing and cannot wait to run the next one.