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Berlin Marathon training update #1

Way back in December, I announced that I would be running my very first full marathon: the Berlin Marathon!

Since then, I put together a 20 week training plan, started working more crazy hours, wondered how the heck I was going to balance everything, went to Texas and a fellow bird met me and ran my 13 mile long run that Sunday (that I had to turn into 13.1 miles because it would have been the fastest I’ve ever run a half marathon distance, even though it was just a LSD and not a race).  I’ve been trying to keep to my training plan, but I’m not going to lie – it’s been difficult at times.  I just switched over to a new job (same company, but now head of a department), my hours at work have changed and because of that, I’ve had to switch up my commute since I no longer have flexible hours – throw in the need to get in a 6 mile run after work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and I’m walking out of the front door at 6-6:10am and not getting home until 10pm 🙁  When am I supposed to eat?!

I also picked up a running coach to look over my training plan (which she had to tweak a bit) and offer me guidance and support during the rest of training – sometimes you just need encouraging words from someone who is knowledgeable and just gets it, you know?  If you’re in the hunt for a great online running coach (or local if you live out in Indiana), Anna is great!

My longest run to date was the 13.1 miles I did in San Antonio a couple weekends ago with Ellen. I was supposed to run 14 miles this past weekend, but after a 70 hour work week, my body (and brain) were completely and utterly exhausted, and I had to listen to my body and not do a long run.  I’ll make up a few of the miles this weekend, and instead of doing 10  miles on Saturday morning, I’ll do 12 miles, to get my body ready to run 16 miles on July 2nd!

Ragnar Relay Napa Valley 2015

Ragnar will always have a special place in my heart. How else can you so quickly bond with strangers than shove yourselves in a van together for 36-ish hours, eating weird food at weird hours, sleep-deprived and potentially grossly smelly from running? Most of my regular teammates that come back year after year weren’t able to make it this year for one reason or another, so it was another semi-stranger teammates kind of year.

Van 1 was a mix of awesome Vacaville runners and a couple new folks from Oakland and even one who flew all the way up from San Diego to join our team (friend of on my my vanmates in van 2). After a VERY frustrating snafu with Enterprise, van 1 ended up with a giant Yukon instead of a 12-seater van, but they were good sports about it!

Karl the Fog always trying to photobomb.

“Van” 2: Dem bunz doe.

Half of van 2, ready to check in at the first major exchange. It was already warm at this point and we had barely had coffee yet.

At the first major exchange when the slap bracelet was handed off from van 1 to van 2; the first time all the strangers meet!

This was the view form my first leg of the race – it was warm and sunny and straight up rolling hills. I thought this one was over after this bend but when I got to the “top,” I realized it was actually straight uphill from there. Thankfully my van didn’t drive by while I was jog-walking up that beast.

I’ve done every single one of my Ragnars with Robert – best Ragnar partner ever!

Sexiest post-leg outfit you’ve ever seen! I love my pop Rogas because they make any legs look tan :)

Speaking of beasts – Robert is one of the best people to have on your team. Always down to help, always keeping the vibes positive, will always be there to pep you up and stand in front of your van having a mid-leg dance party with you, to make sure you have a little sanity left to finish your longest leg. And he can drink coffee before a run (my hero haha).  He’s also ridiculously fast, and if you see him on the course and scream his name, he goes even faster. So fast we barely got this photo of him as he ran by.

See? Look at that face! When he gets close to the exchange, he kicks it into “high gear” and sprints, even if he just got done running 10 miles at 6:45 pace. So intense that people actually move out of his way when he’s coming in. Every exchange with him is like that and it really gets your team (and everyone at that exchange) pumped up.

This is what happens when you try to apply your team tattoo to a dried sweat forehead, with not enough water, and partially over your eyebrows. We told him to keep it there for the rest of the race… and he did!
  
I’m normally in a van predominately male (and usually by choice), so this year was very different for me – 4 ladies and 2 gents, and it worked out really well! Ladies night shot while freezing.

After we finished our night/2nd legs, we headed to the next major exchange and attempted to get some sleep before our van needed to be up again for the final exchange and the start to our last set of legs.  We found van 1 in the large sea of white vans and waited excited for Alex to finish his final leg and hand off the slap bracelet to us.


So my last leg was supposed to be my shorter leg and I was really looking forward to being finished. My legs were tired after a long fall of races, but someone decided it would be funny to move the directional sign (never been a victim of this in all my Ragnars), and had us turn right instead of go straight. So here I am running at a pretty awesome pace, beautiful scenery, etc., and get to the end of the trail and there are no more signs, etc. Luckily everyone else on that leg was lost as well and we turned around to find the right way, yelling at others running our way to turn around in the meantime.

It ended up adding about 3 extra miles to my leg, but on the turnaround back I started running with this guy and we just pushed each others pace the entire way to the exchange. It was pretty awesome to be running 7:45 minute miles (and I’m pretty sure one of the miles was under 7:30/mile). I wanted to collapse after I handed off the slap bracelet haha

Van 2 love! Missing Michael, since he pretty much slept in the van the entire time haha

These awesome volunteers were along the Silverado Trail; the longest, flattest, most uncovered section of the race. People were running the longest leg of the entire relay during this leg, just over a half marathon in length, in brutal sun/heat, and they were out cheering, dancing and handing out water in chicken suits. BEST AID STATION AWARD!
When your team name is Suns Out, Buns Out, you don’t disappoint at the Finish. BUNS FOR ALL!

Team  finisher photo #2 with our hard-earned medals.  Look at my tiny baby foot!  
I still haven’t perfected “jumping in the air” photos, but I’m working on it and getting better and better haha

Team captain gets the honor of handing out all the goodies to her teammates!

And when you finally see a lovely familiar face after being in that van for so long! The fantastic Amy from Ragnar!

Goodbye from team #2 – Suns Out, Buns Out! Until the fall…  

Nike Women’s 1/2 2015 race recap

Don’t worry, you’ll get completely used to my race recaps that come months after the actual race haha

2015 was apparently the last year of the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco (though those rumors didn’t start flying around until after the race).  I was signed up to run for Nuun and it was in the middle of a VERY hectic fall (much like Fall 2016 will be!) – Coming off Ragnar Northwest passage at the end of July, a PR half marathon in August, and then Nike Women’s in mid-October, I still had Ragnar Napa the next weekend, followed by Rock n Roll San Jose at the end of October and Golden Gate 1/2 at the beginning of November! Not shooting for PR’s in any of these races, but just to enjoy the experience.

I managed to find my cousins wife, Emily, in the starting corral and she asked if we could run the race together, since she was averaging about 10:30 minutes per mile. Since this was an easy weekend for me, it sounded like the perfect plan.

So crowded!

Even though I hopped in a port-a-potty in the starting corral (and went before I left the house), I STILL had to go to the bathroom by the first mile mark. The first bathroom available was at the two mile mark, and in a race of ~30,000 people (about 95% being women), the first bathroom possibility was a porta-pottie. As in a single one. ONE. I had to wait in line for about 10 minutes, so I told Emily to go ahead and hopefully I’d catch up to her at some point.  Thankfully I had the fantastic entertainment (below) while waiting in line. They were seriously a breath of fresh air that early in the morning!

I caught up to Emily finally at about mile 6-ish, shortly after entering the park, but not before running into the best cheer section on course – my favorite Nuunies!

The weather was absolutely beautiful (and even a tad warm) – it was perfectly comfortable in the starting corral, and I was a bit nervous that it would warm up too quickly since it was so nice in the beginning, but the sun stayed at bay for the most part and didn’t get too sunny until after we were out of the park.  Since it was so clear, we had to stop for photos!  

As awkward as this photo is, don’t worry, that’s my drivers license and credit card in my sports bra HAHA

Awkward “is that a credit card in your sports bra, or are you just happy to see me?” photo #2!

By this time in the race, we were chugging along and my body was starting to really hurt. Based on the amount of walking we were doing, I knew  this would be my slowest half marathon ever, but this was Emily’s first half marathon, and I wasn’t about to leave her. Her leg muscles were tightening up and her hips were hurting her, so we stopped many, many times to try to stretch her out, walked when she needed to, which ended up being just about every 4-5 minutes. During out spurts of running, we were at about a 12-12:30 pace and my knees were starting to ache. But I tried to keep the motivation and positive energy going because I wanted her to have the best race experience ever (so she’d be hooked like I was… I’m running selfish like that!)

These awesome japanese (taiko) drummers on course were AMAZING and just the motivation we needed during that long, straight stretch past Chrissy Field and Sports Basement.

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge on a beautifully clear day NEVER gets old.

We walked between miles 12-12.5, and when I knew the final stretch was coming, I encouraged Emily to give it everything she had for the last .5 miles.  The crowds were thick for the finish shoot and everyone was so great in cheering us all on. A fellow bird even yelled “OISELLLLLEEEE!” at me when we ran by.

We finished her first half marathon together, tired, sore and hungry, but we finished and she got that Tiffany necklace that she had earned!  We walked around the finisher’s area trying to get signal (that area is the worst when there are that many people around) so that we could try to find my cousin, who was supposed to watch her finish (turns out he underestimated SF parking and didn’t make it in time), stretched out in the grass and soaked up some sunshine while eating our post-race snacks, and then finally got ahold of him.  He was still attempting to get there in race traffic, so we walked another 3/4 of a mile to where he was sitting at a red light, dropped her off to him, and I walked back to the finisher’s area, another 3/4 of a mile.

When Nuun is the sponsor, it’s always fun to head over there and hang with some of my favorite hydrators. Worked the booth for a little bit, and got to head over to the VIP area reserved for VIPs and sponsors.  I made it over there just in time to witness the last Team in Training participant running into the finish line with a police officer on one side and TNT coach on the other. The ENTIRE group of TNT participants (which for NWM is huge) were there cheering her in. It was such an emotional moment for me, since I completed by first half marathon with TNT when I lived in San Diego, and went on to complete 3 seasons down there as a participant and a mentor. TNT will always have a special place in my heart.
  And this VIP breakfast buffet will always have a place in my stomach. BOMB.COMThat’s a wrap! For a race I said I would never run again after the first time (because of how ridiculously crowded and disorganized it was), this marked my 3rd (or is it 4th?). Since it’s not coming back to SF, I can now officially say this was my last!

The San Francisco Marathon Ambassador (with codes!)

Super excited to announce that I’m a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador this year! In 2014 I ran the 2nd half for Nuun (hooray!), and last year I ran the 1st half, completing the Half It All Challenge and earning my extra medal (all about the bling!)  In November 2015 I also ran the Berkeley Half Marathon 10k.  TSFM and the Berkeley Half are partner races, and it’s so nice to have awesome local races put on by the same great people.

I’ve worked with both races closely over the past couple years through Nuun, worked each expo, hydrated the masses and sampled out at their Run 365 Training Runs (honestly, that’s what got me hooked on the race!)

Code: TSFM2016SHEENA  Discount amount: $10 off
Race distances: full, 1st half, 2nd half

Code: TSFM2016SHEENA5K  Discount amount: $5 off
Race distances: 5K

Happy running! Let me know if you decide to register for a race – I’ll be joining you on the 2nd half marathon course!

Rock n Roll San Jose 1/2 race recap

Another friendiversary weekend!  Kat and I celebrated our 12-year friendiversary with her flying up to San Jose early Saturday morning and me driving down there after work on Friday night. I stayed the night at my cousins and left early Saturday to pick her up from the airport. Let the fun times begin!

(Warning: This is going to be severely picture-heavy because I waited way to long to write this and I can’t remember a lot of the race haha)

We tried to get to our hotel, but forgot the San Jose is one of the RnR races where they have the double medals – run a 5k or 10k on Saturday and the 1/2 marathon on Sunday and you get an extra medal. Because our hotel was RIGHT next to the start, we couldn’t get in (or so we thought).  We drove around for awhile, trying to figure out what we were going to do, attempted multiple u-turns to try to get into the side street where the hotel parking lot was, only to be stopped by blockades and cops. We drove around to the other side of the Convention Center, paid to park in a lot, and went to the expo that way. We walked around afterwards for awhile, went to check into our hotel, so at least our room would be ready for us, took a “nap,” went back to my car and drove it back to the hotel when the streets finally opened – we later learned that everything was shut down and blocked not because of the race, but because the Prime Minister of India was in town and staying at the hotel right next door. They had to do a million hour sweep of the area before he could check in. While we were walking around looking for her, football and food (hello, our favorite things), there was more security, cops, SWAT, dogs, guns, everything you could think of, than I’ve ever seen (even more than when Obama was in San Francisco). Turns out there are a lot of people not so happy with him, based on the number of people protesting at his speech a couple days later at SAP Center.

Kat went back to the hotel and I ran back to the expo before it closed to meet with Laura and Ross (shoutout to fellow Bay Area runner and Twitter friend Ross!) – this was the first time Laura and I were meeting Ross, even though we had been Twitter friends for quite some time.

We still had quite a few hours to kill and were antsy, so Kat and I decided to walk from out hotel to San Pedro Square to grab some pre-race dinner. Luckily for us, there was live music in the square and the weather was absolutely perfect! (and so welcoming of the runners, courtesy of the sign they put up!)

Heretic is actually a local brewery in the town I live in (Fairfield, CA) and their Petite Rouge is one of my favorites! The place we bought the beer at has all local (or at least California) craft beers, mainly IPAs (both of us don’t like), and I was SO excited to see Heretic in the fridge!

We grabbed a giant beer to share (and maybe ended up ordering another one because it was delicious and we were enjoying the music)
We’ve been friends now for a little over 12 years and for both us, nights like this are our favorite. It’s a perfect way to spend an evening – good live music, great scenery and awesome friends (and delicious drinks were a bonus!). Beer is totally carbo-loading, right?

We headed back to the hotel to start laying our stuff out for the next morning (#flatkat and #flatbean of course) – staying right next to the start, if you’ve never done it, is amazing! This is one of the first times I’ve ever been this close and it was SO convenient to be able to walk to dinner, walk to the expo, walk to San Pedro Square, etc.

Color coordinated and we didn’t even plan it!


  Since we were only 2 blocks or so form the starting area, we were able to sleep in much later than ever before (hallelujah!), and pee in a clean toilet in our hotel room as many times as we wanted before heading to the start line (can I get an Amen!?).  We met Ross and Laura at the start, took a million photos (you’re welcome) and headed to the corrals.

Bay Area Twitter buddies!

Laura has been my good luck charm for 2015 races :)

Team Katbean!

Off to the corrals we go! It was surprisingly more difficult than I think any of imagined to make our way into the corrals, and we ended up having to squeeze through the bars in the barricades in order to get in anywhere near our pace.

It wasn’t long before the corrals started moving, and they got everyone through pretty quickly. I don’t remember having to wait long between when the gun went off, and when it was our turn to head through the chute (we squeezed into corral 10)

Yay for amazing friends!

I had no time plans for this race, had run a 1/2 in Oakland the month before, and this was technically the start of my crazy fall schedule: This 1/2 marathon on a Sunday, a 12k the following Saturday, Nike Women’s 1/2 marathon 2 weeks after that, Ragnar Relay Napa Valley 5 days after Nike and the Golden Gate 1/2 marathon 2 weeks after Ragnar, aka #IDie.  I wasn’t necessarily racing any of the above races, but just wanting to have fun with friends, and end my year with a bang! I had already PR’d my 1/2 marathon time at The Town’s 1/2 in August and was really satisfied with my race sin 2015 thus far.  Kat had rolled her ankle a few days before the race and it was still swollen, so we said we’d just run together as long as we could and enjoy it.

We ran together, enjoyed the scenery, talked about whatever, pointed out awesome buildings, restaurants that looked good, what we wanted to eat after the race (isn’t that what everyone talks about during a race?) and just life in general.  I had just chopped off all my hair 2 months previously and thought it would be a good idea to just let my hair feel the air (cuz #curlyhairdontcare). This was the only race I was able to do it in – the rest of the year it was just all kinds of annoying)

We finally parted ways around mile 10.5ish and I tried to pick up my pace. I hadn’t seen Laura or Ross so hoped I’d be able to spot them in the Finisher’s Area after the race, and was hoping I’d be able to watch Kat finish and cheer her in.  It was warm. It was warmer than warm. I usually run pretty warm, and tend to overheat quickly if overdressed. I was in a singlet and shorts for this race, so there’s no way I was overdressed, but the heat was still getting to me. The sun was out in full force and even though I had on sunglasses, I really should have had a visor on. Huge thank you to the lady about half a mile before SAP Center that had a cooler full of frozen mini sponges. You literally saved my race. I grabbed one and alternated it between hands as the ice melted. I held it at the base of my neck, on my chest, in between my boobs (they needed air) and on the top of my head, just letting the cold, melting water run down my spine. Literal heaven.

I had zero idea (since I wasn’t really paying attention to my watch) that I was on pace to PR when we parted, but when I looked down at my watch at mile 12, I got SUPER excited at the time I saw. I knew if I pushed myself and didn’t let up, I was FINALLLLYYYYYYY going to break 2:10!!!

It couldn’t have been timed any better. I finished the race strong, knew I PR’s, and before I could even comprehend the time on my watch, I heard someone say my name – Laura and Ross finished just behind me!  We got our medals and water, snapped a photo and I turned around again for some reason – just in time to watch Kat run in. Absolutely perfect timing.
 We grabbed our million snacks and agreed to meet up at a certain time at the open area between our hotel and Ross’ hotel next door (PM of India hotel; you don’t even want to know the security measures he had to go to since he was staying there!)
After the most amazing shower ever, Laura, Kat and I met up with Ross and we headed back to San Pedro Square to grab lunch and celebrate our races.  We all had a great day of running and Kat got an extra medal for being awesome (I mean, I’d give her a medal for being awesome, but it was for running multiple RnR races in CA this year)
Hooray friendship, running and food!

And when the results were finally in….

I had PR’d in August by a little over 4 minutes.  6 weeks later I run this race and not only PR again (this time by another 2 minutes), but finnnaaallllyyyyyyy broke 2:10! Seriously guys, 2015 was the year of all things that make up excellent races. I ran, not to race, but to run and enjoy it. To have fun, listen to my body, spend time with friends, and just kind of go with the flow of it. And you know what? When I calmed my brain and my body, it took over and did amazing things!  For both races where I PR’d my 1/2 marathon, I didn’t set out with a goal to PR. I tried to look at my watch as little as possible and it worked out for me.  I’m so incredibly grateful to have had so many good experiences this year, and to finally be able to share both PR races with friends! (every other race PR I’ve had, no matter the distance, I’ve had no friends or family at the races, so I just sadly walk back to my car, wishing there was someone there to celebrate with haha. Sad panda)

Kat flew out later that afternoon, and after dropping her off at the airport, I headed back to my cousins to spend the night. But first, we watch Sunday football, especially when it involves a Seahawks win! (and a 49er loss at the bottom of the screen haha)

Ragnar Relay: Northwest Passage 2015

… is done! (as in I finished it 4.5 months ago haha)

So proud of myself and my overnight relay packing skills/still need to stop overpacking.

I headed up to Seattle on Wednesday after work (it took me 2 hours to go less than 2 miles in San Francisco traffic. I almost missed my flight!), spent Thursday in Bellingham with Suzanne, got everything prepped and ready for our team, picked up the vans, went to her Crossfit box to do a warm up, and just relaxed – something I haven’t really done lately.  It was an absolutely beautiful day out, and we spent part of the morning having coffee along Bellingham Bay.

This view. Can’t beat it. Oddly enough, the smell of low tide is really comforting and reminds me of my childhood. Gross, whatevs.

We ran around that day, running errands, dropping things off, finding and moving new furniture for Suzanne, did a warm-up at her local Crossfit (potentially mistake as I went a little too hard with the lacrosse ball), picked up the vans and all our vans snacks, decorated the vans and had pre-race dinner with a few of our teammates.  We picked up Robert late that night, as he had also just flew in from San Francisco and then settled in for the night. Thankfully the three of us were in van 2, so we started later, and the first major exchange was just a few miles from Suzanne’s place (local friends for the win!)

Our team was ConBear: Always on the Run.  Think of the movie Con Air, but with bears. Yep, that was us.  One of our teammates has a sweet bear coat that you just can’t say no to (you’ll see a lot of that coat in this post!)  Each of us had a sweet mugshot on the side of our van, complete with our jail name and reason we were imprisoned haha

Obvi had a killer growth spurt, towering at a giant 6’5″ :)

At the very first exchange. Scott was in van 1 and was just walking around the parking lot being awesome, while waiting for their runner #6.  People were clamoring for photos with him. We were celebrities and it was awesome.

See? AWESOME. He’s also a giant, bear-like dude, so it was PERFECT.

BEAR ATTACK!

We even had a parking lot battle.  Who wore it better? HAHA
  Van 2 got all checked in, got  our shirts (that fit only half our team, meh) and tried to take a few photos of our awesomeness before we had to exchange and head out.

8 out of 12 bears. You can see a couple pairs, but each of us had homemade bear ears 🙂 Bear cubs for the win!

Robert was off first as runner #7.  Robert and I have done every single Ragnar (for me at least) together.  He’s also done SoCal on his own since I couldn’t make it down for that race. We both flew up to WA for this race, and it was awesome to be in the same van again.  He is ridiculously fast (i’ll just keep saying it), and any time he comes into exchanges, he turns it up even more and people literally are scared to be anywhere near the path because he’s coming in so fast.

This is literally the only photo that came out of his exchange to Terence. Every other picture, he was just a blur. A BLUR.

I was runner #9, so I had a little bit of time before I had to run, to prep myself. All I remember was that it was already getting warm when we were checking into the first major exchange, so I couldn’t imagine how warm it would get by the time it was my turn. Turns out it just got plain hot.  Running in shorts and a tank top, with a hat to try to shield me and still sweat my butt off. I had to flip the hat around halfway through the run because my head was overheating.  Once the sweat started dripping into my eyes, it promptly got turned back around!

Thanks to my awesome teammates for stopping partway through the leg to cheer me on! They snapped a couple awesome shots.

This one will always be a Ragnar favorite photo. Chugging along, sweating profusely, overheating, and bear cubs stop to cheer next to a sign telling me to “slow down” as if I was going too fast haha

Thankfully I was still able to kill the run even though it was pretty warm. I walked one little section where there was shade (because there was basically none), to try to cool off for a few seconds and then started up again. I was super excited to hand off that slap bracelet to Deling!

Leg 1: 6.1 miles (hard) DONE!

There were a couple awesome vans we kept seeing throughout the race, including this one.  When they would pull into the exchange, they would roll down the windows and play the theme music to Duck Hunt super loud. Thank you childhood!
We sat at that exchange in the shade waiting for Suzanne to come in.  It got chilly quickly (very welcome to everyone who had recently run).  Check out that sweet hat hair!

After handing off to van 1 to complete their “night legs,” we headed to the next major exchange. I had not been feeling well since I had finished my leg, and ended up laying down in the back of the van while runner 12 was out. After laying down for awhile, throwing up, taking some medication, we headed out to the grassy area to try to “rest.”  Sports Authority had set up a bunch of tents in an open field and it was AWESOME.  We used the tent for shade since there was a bunch of sand in it, but the blankets and the pillows we brought were awesome. I probably napped for about 10  minutes, and it was glorious. (everyone was on their phones except me because T-Mobile is the absolute worst and I never have service at any Ragnar I do)
Since our time between major exchanges was kind of at a weird time, none of us really slept at all, and when we got up to start getting ready for the next exchange and to start our night legs, the sun was barely starting to go down.

All the vans at sunset!

We exchanged and took off to meet Robert before he finished (because he’s ridiculously fast) and while going over the water, captured this beauty. I wish my iPhone could have actually done this sunset proper justice.

My night leg was barely uneventful, since it was only 2.2 easy miles. My headlamp was a complete FAIL though and was flickering on and off the entire time. Thankfully it flickered on when I was coming through the exchange so we didn’t get a strike for it (and thankfully it was through parts of town and residential areas that had either street lights or front porch lights. I only tripped twice, but never fell. Whew!).  I also jumped out in the middle of Suzanne’s night leg to run with her for 2.5 miles. Her longest leg was her night leg (and also longest leg of the relay) and over beautiful Deception Pass! It’s a lonely route since it’s full of nature and super dark, so I wanted to keep her company (and having someone jump out and run with you in the middle of your 9.8 mile leg can be motivating so you don’t slow down or walk).

Night legs are always fun because that’s when people start to get delirious haha. The lack of proper meals at regular times, combined with sleep deprivation start to creep in.  Scott’s bear coat was like an awesome waist coat. He’s a million feet taller than me, so I wanted to try it on. It literally went almost to the ground and the arms were a good 6″ too long.

Robert and I both small. How many tiny bear cubs can you fit in Papa Bear’s coat? 2. Literally both of us were able to wear this at the next major exchange and stay warm.

After this exchange we went to get food (who knows where, my memory is horrible 4 months later) and napped a little bit in the van before we had to be up for our final set of legs.

Just after sunrise

Before we started our final set of legs, we all needed a boost, so we stopped by The Woods Coffee to get a growler of cold brew for the fan.  The boys were all over it, but sadly, I can’t have coffee before a run or else the runs ensue, and not the awesome, PR-worhthy kind. Makes me sad because their cold brew is delicious! Thankfully there was still some left after I ran my last leg, so I was able to partake (and drank a bunch more at other times that weekend, not during the race).

Like a champ! Tom looking at him all proud-like :)

In case you’re wondering, climbing atop a homemade wooden saddle (as awesome as it was!) in shorts = not the best idea Tom has ever had. Hello splinters!

My last leg was my longest leg, and listed as very hard, which made me super nervous. It was once again in the dead of heat, so that contributed to the “very hard” factor.  It was partially through the woods, along the road, so sometimes nowhere for vans to pull over to cheer, and you had to watch out for wildlife as well (deer count: 4, almost panic attack from deer jumping out the woods right in front of you: 1).  Even though I was wearing capris, I was eaten alive by mosquitos on this leg on my arm, shoulders and legs (yes, they bit me through my capris!).  I had this issue last year at Ragnar Napa, and for the past few years, I have had a local allergic reaction to any bug bites.  These ones swelled up pretty bad like all the other times and were really hard, hot and uncomfortable.  My van stopped about 4 miles into my run for an impromptu dance party to Eye of the Tiger, and let me tell you, I needed those shenanigans. The bug bites were killing me by that point and I was just plain tired. At the beginning of our dance party, a girl passed me and when we finished, they told me “now you have to catch her. That’s your one job!”

I ran my butt off those final 2.7 miles.  This was the awesome view when we turned out of the woods for the final quarter mile. During that final quarter mile, we were running stride for stride. I somehow had a little kick left in me for the final stretch and when we turned that last corner, I passed her and ran as hard as I could until the exchange. I have no idea how my lungs stayed inside my body.

Leg #3: 6.8 miles (very hard) DONE!!!

It felt so good to mark that final checkbox!
Now it was Deling, Suzanne and Tom’s turn to experience their last run at Ragnar Northwest Passage (while I guzzled the Cold Brew and attempted to cool down)

Van Selfie minus Deling (running) and Tom (getting ready for his last leg) on Whidbey Island!

While Tom was running his last leg, we raced to the finish so we could meet up with van 1 and all run in together. 12 bears running through the finish chute together? EPIC.

We have to get a shot together at every Ragnar. It’s tradition!

The original California 3. Suz, Robert and I ran our very first Ragnars together (Napa Valley 2013). Even though Suzanne couldn’t run Napa with us in 2014 or this year, Robert and I made the trek up to WA to run Northwest Passage with her. Zero regrets. Absolutely beautiful course and we had a blast!

Then on to the “official” Ragnar photos with the backdrop.

And then our true selves. We still have zero idea who Terence is waving to. Fan club?
After the race, we drove back through Deception Pass and got lucky as there was a car pulling out and we were able to snag their parking space (there aren’t that many to choose from right next to the bridge).  It was still hot and absolutely beautiful, so I climbed down under the bridge (in my flip flops, which wasn’t super easy) to snap a couple shots.

Another fantastic Ragnar experience in the books!  I must say, I’ve only done Napa and Northwest Passage, and this one hands down, has the best scenery ever.  I grew up in Washington and it was really nice to be back up there, smelling low tide and the evergreens and running in nature (and you know, just seeing green things. Thanks a lot California drought!)

Trick or Treating with the Hulk

Over a month late on Halloween… Don’t worry, I still have plenty of drafts from the past few months to make myself feel better about this one!  Little dude went Trick or Treating until he was tired of carrying his candy pale, and then we headed to their church for some fun and games (he was more interested in throwing a ball at, well, anything, than the rest of the games and the candy)

So bummed this one came out blurry. Little dude was trying to show his muscles and my hair looked halfway decent!

I don’t know why I was trying to show him what to do – do you see that chicken arm I’m “flexing?!” … also, my left leg is NOT that skinny. So weird to see it look like that.

Hulk SMASH!

2016: The Year of the Marathon

Sooooooo, it’s official!: I always said that if I ever ran a full marathon, I would only run one in my life, so it better be a damn good one, and preferably one I could add a vacation to.  At the end of last summer, a friend of mine saw that the Berlin Marathon was offering for the first time a “team” entry option to their lottery, which meant teams of 3 could enter (it’s always just been individual entries).  On a whim, 3 of us decided to sign up for the lottery, knowing we would never get in. I mean, I’m here in California, friend #1 is in New York City and friend #2 is in Turkey. None of us have ever run a full marathon before, and none of us are particularly lucky, so we knew there was a 0.000001% chance we’d actually get picked.

The morning of December 1st, I woke up to a million WhatsApp messages and was like “What the heck?!” and realized when I opened them, we had gotten in (friend #1 is 3 hours ahead of me and friend#2 is 10 hours ahead of me); I then frantically went to my email to confirm that they weren’t playing the biggest practical joke ever. The above email confirms that they weren’t!

I’ve gone through the internet looking for full training plans, combined a few and tweaked them the best I can to put together a 20 week training plan.  I’ve registered for a couple local races to use for my long Saturday runs so I can use the cheers and aid station as motivation to keep running (I seriously don’t know how I’d get through a solo 20 mile run).  I finally decided over the weekend that I want to have a coach, so I’ve been in contact with an awesome running coach who also happens to be a Oiselle Haute Volée. She’s going to help me fine tune my training plan, give me guidance on strength and cross training, and most importantly, answer any questions I have, calm my nerves and be a motivator. I think for my first time, having that accountability is going to be REALLY important, especially when my daily schedule looks like this:
5:00am wake up
6:15am leave the house
6:15-8:15am commute
8:15am-5:30pm work work work work work work (and sometimes through lunch unfortunately)
5:30-7:30/8pm commute home (Bay Area traffic is THE WORST)
8:15-9:30/9:45pm at the gym running my butt off since it’s super dark (and sketchy) by the time I get back into town
10pm finally get back home and try to eat something quickly before going to bed.

Any advice for a first timer?  Follow along on my journey to finish strong September 25, 2016 with the hashtag #Bay2Berlin

The Town’s 1/2 Marathon recap

I’ve been struggling to keep up with blogging (or social media in general) over the last 6 months. Between working longer hours/days and longer commuting hours (up to about 5 per day now), I haven’t had any little breaks at work to scroll through posts and feeds, and I’ve been trying to nap during the commuting time, since I’m still not sleeping well at night.  Race weekends and family time and overall exhaustion has taken over, but this weekend I have some free time (finally!) and am trying to catch up on things like decluttering my room, donating more items, and catching up on the blog!

 

The Town’s 1/2 marathon in Oakland was one I had been looking forward to for awhile.  A nice small race through Oakland was just what I needed – there wasn’t 20,000+ runners crammed into a small area, you would never feel cramped or crowded, the race organizers are fantastic and it’s extremely community-oriented.  If that wasn’t enough, their sponsors are awesome, so you not only get a race-branded mason jar, but Brita really comes through with a filtered water bottle for each finisher! (there were a bunch leftover after the race, so Laura and I were lucky enough to get two bottles each!).  They have entertainment, little carts are wandering around the open space with breakfast items, single cup coffee, all from local vendors.

I met up with Laura in the morning and we drove to Oakland together, getting there with plenty of time to meet up with Steve, who picked up our packets for us the day before (another great perk of the race, they let you easily pick up packets for your friends or family if you aren’t able to make it).  We originally planned to start together, but she’s faster than I am, so I just planned to try to keep up with her as long as I possibly could (or at least keep her in my sights) – it worked for about 3/4 of a mile and then I lost her!

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I kept going at that same pace (it was actually feeling good!) and trying not to look at my watch. I was chugging along, looking at all the sights, and realized at about mile 4ish, that I had just passed her!  That gave me the confidence that I could finish strong, so I kept going, walked part of the hill around maybe mile 8-9ish, and realized at mile 10 that I was in a really good place to PR (previous time was 2:14.12). By mile 12, I thought I could FINALLY break 2:10! I was hustling as much as my heavy legs would let me, but when I crossed the finish line and looked down at my watch, it was 2:10.12 – I was devastated.

All the things I could have done differently started going through me brain: if I would have started running just a few steps earlier on that hill, if I hadn’t walked that aid station, etc.   Laura came in shortly after me and we celebrated our finishes together. Though I didn’t break 2:10, I had just PR’d by 4 minutes, and that is a pretty spectacular feeling.

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We  walked around the booths they had set up, collected our snacks, and stopped by one of the booths (Better Health East Bay) that was giving away a new Garmin watch – it was worth a shot to enter! All we had to to do was take a selflie and use the #WeRanTheTown hashtag to be entered, easy enough!  We rolled around the area they had set up with yoga mats and foam rollers (THANK YOU!), sipped coffee in our new mason jars, and lazed around before heading back to the car to make the drive home.     

Update: I won the Garmin watch! When they tweeted me, I almost peed my pants!

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