race recap

2015 Races!

Now that the holidays are over (anyone else not yet recovered?), it’s time to think about 2015 plans. Last year I had inadvertently packed my schedule towards the end of the year with races and work (last minute SE Asia trip + getting to run Nike Womens 1/2 marathon for Nuun 2 days after getting back from India + a Spartan Sprint the weekend after that AND US 1/2 marathon the weekend after that)!

Here’s what I have on the schedule so far this year (registered for):
January 11 – Hot Chocolate 15k San Francisco: I got picked (or notified, who knows) that I was an ambassador again just weeks before the race. This didn’t give me much time to advertise or train (and train over the holidays?! HA!), so this is a very last minute race. I was injured last year when I ran the race, so I basically just want to do better than that. Low standards, I know. –> and finished! I did much better than last year and felt good. Still didn’t eat the chocolate afterwards (I’m horrible, I know) and didn’t have to hobble back to the car after the race. WINNING!
March 29 – Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 marathon: 3rd year in a row. Thinking of making this one a legacy-type race because it’s so beautiful!
May 17 – Bay to Breakers: we don’t ever “race” this one, but wear fun costumes or outfits and just have fun.  A couple years we walked it, people watching, and then last year we ran most of it (fun pace, still not racing). I think we might do that again, but start in an earlier corral so that we don’t have to stop so often with the drunkies.
July 17-18 – Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage: (updated, was on the maybe list) Our team is registered and we’re busy filling it and attempting to think of a witty name.  And just updated as of last night, my flight is booked!
August 15 – The Town’s 1/2: (updated) I won a race entry to this (and it’s part of the Golden State Half Series along with the Golden Gate 1/2 and Livermore 1/2)
October 23-24- Ragnar Relay Napa Valley: 3rd year in a row captaining an awesome team for this race.
November 8 – Golden Gate 1/2: formerly known as the US 1/2. I ran this race for the first time in 2014 and had a great time! Small race in a big city, easy logistics and great course!

Maybe races that I just have decided on/registered for yet:
July 26 – San Francisco 1/2 marathon: I did the 2nd half last year and if I do the 1st half this year, I get an extra medal (cuz it’s all about the bling!) My body would be uber tired from running Ragnar the weekend before and traveling, but I’d just race this one for fun. I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to run this one again for Nuun, but would REALLY love to run the first half marathon this year!
October – Nike Women’s 1/2: Only if the opportunity arises to run it again, but I just can’t justify paying $180+ again for the race.
November 1 – Spartan Sprint in Sacramento: I ran the Super (8+ miles) a couple months ago during that all race and travel craziness and am thinking about doing another one, but keeping it at the Sprint (3+) mile level. I actually don’t mind the extra mileage, since I love to run, but DANG THOSE OBSTACLES ARE IMPOSSIBLE!

What do you have on your calendar for this year?

Weekend Wind-down

Super busy weekend! I’m normally at home during the weekends and only go back into the city if I have a race. After commuting 4+ hours a day Monday through Friday, going back into SF is usually the last thing I want to do!

Friday night was a long day at work, but at least I had something to look forward to: Welcome Back Gala for our students! The theme was Old Hollywood: a Black and White Affair. This was the first event for our new Events coordinator and she did a phenomenal job!
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I said I wasn’t going to drink all weekend since I had a race on Sunday but I ended up having WAY too much wine! I had pre-arranged to sleep over at a coworkers so I could enjoy the party and not try to drive home super late.

On Saturday we slept in and then met a couple of our old coworkers for brunch at Hard Knox Cafe in the Richmond. I miss those ladies so much! Of the core four, 3 of us left our office within 3 weeks of each other so it’s been hard adjusting to not seeing them all day, every day. That afternoon I drove to Oakland to watch the Seahawks Playoff game with another friend from Washington. In case you live under a rock or could care less, WE WON!
IMG_7767.JPG SO excited/nervous for the next game. I’ll probably vomit, who knows.

I stayed the night at her place since we’re going to the race together.

Sunday morning we woke up earlier than either of us wanted, and just kept telling each other, “so a 15k is a legitimate race. Maybe we should have prepared for this.” Both of us registered for the Hot Chocolate race without second thought and it was one of those that just sneaks up on you, you know?

We somehow managed to find parking within a mile of the start line (most of the race is run in Golden Gate Park) and it was coooold. Thankfully the start was easy to find, I only waited about 30 seconds for a portapottie, and making our way into our corral was a breeze. WIN! The 15k started at 8:20am and even though we were quite a few corrals back, we crossed the start line at 8:37am. We both said we’d just run however our bodies felt. If we needed to walk, we’d walk. But it felt decent so we kept the train rolling. A mile in I was getting hot and before the mile 4 marker, we both had to pull over to take off our long sleeves, switch our bibs to our shortsleeve top and tied the long sleeve around our waists. The weather was gorgeous once we started running, so a perfect race!
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How was your weekend?

Spartan Super Sacramento recap

Just a quick recap of my first Spartan race!  I actually won a race entry, and had a friend (and her husband) driving up from San Diego to complete the Sacramento race.  She is a hardcore OCR-er and is a member of the Weeple Army.  The Weeple Army is a mud/obstacle course group for people of all abilities and levels (thankfully!). They only have one goal: to have FUN! I was super worried about doing the race because 1) this was my first big OCR. I had done the Survivor mud run earlier in the year but that was only about 3.1 miles, the weather was good and the obstacles were easy.  2) Instead of signing up for the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles and about 15 obstacles), I thought “I can do more!” and signed up for the mid-level Spartan Super (8+ miles and 20+ obstacles), 3) I had done the Nike Women’s Half just 6 days before, and had gotten back from 3 weeks in SE Asia just 8 days before. 4) California is in a severe drought. The one weekend it was going to rain was the Spartan weekend. Awesome.

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In order to even START the race, you have to climb over a wall. First indication I was in for a world of hurtin!

By Friday it was already raining and when I woke up Saturday to make the hour-long drive to Van Vleck Ranch, it was still raining. It did stop once I got closer to Sacramento, but hours of rain had already done their job – everything was muddy.  Muddy and wet. Every obstacle was slathered in mud from the shoes of previous racers.  Everything was slick and slippery.  Some of the obstacles you couldn’t even do because there weren’t footholds anymore, just piles of mud shoved into what used to be holes and openings.  You couldn’t grip anything because you’d slip right off – I slipped right off of the monkeybars when I tried to grip them.  I had elected to wear my running sunglasses instead of my regular glasses for the race, in case the sun decided it wanted to come out (they also help to cut glare when it’s overcast).  By the second obstacle, since it was raining, I couldn’t see at all since the lenses were wet. They were now useless, so I put them on top of my head and tried to run and do obstacles without them. I couldn’t see my footing or what I was stepping on, so I rolled my ankles more times than I’d care to count on ground that was being washed away by the rain, so it was super uneven, muddy, rocky and full of holes.

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The hand and foot “holdings” on the Horizontal Wall Traverse were slathered in mud, so you… (more…)

Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Giveaway

Last year I was a Hot Chocolate race ambassador for the San Francisco race, and I just found out I’ve been chosen again.  The catch? The race is in only a month, so we’re going to be moving fast!!

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Look how awesome the jackets are this year!!

Sad story about the jacket you get. The one from last year was super awesome. I decided to wear it pre-race for the Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 in April because it was FREEZING.  I knew it would be fine because my friend/coworker was going to meet me at the end of her street (along the race route) and grab it from me at like mile 3.  Turns out she just turned her alarm off and never got up, so she didn’t show up. I had to toss my hoodie and I was SOOOOOO sad.

The race this year takes place on Sunday, January 11th, still starts and finishes in Golden Gate Park, runs along the water (cross your fingers for beautiful weather like last year!) and if you register for the 15k, you get a medal this year!  If you haven’t already registered, but want to do the race, make sure to use the code “SFBlogger8” and you’ll get a free hat!

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And because I think you’re awesome, you have the chance to win a race entry to your choice of either the 5k or the 15k! The winner will get to choose from any race that there is currently a date for (so that means no 2015 Denver, Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis or Phoenix).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please make sure you leave a separate comment for each additional entry so that all your entries are counted.  The giveaway will be open until Monday, December 22nd at 8pm PST.  The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, December 23rd (Merry Christmas to you!)

And don’t forget SF racers – if you’re not a winner, you can still register for the SF race with the code SFBlogger8 to snag your free hat to go along with your awesome hoodie!

 

**Disclaimer: As a Hot Chocolate Blog Ambassador, I will be provided a free race entry to the San Francisco race.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nike Womens 1/2 marathon 2014 recap

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I ran the race in 2011 as my second 1/2 marathon and vowed to never do it again. Then my cousin really wanted that to be her first 1/2 marathon in 2013, so I ran it with her… and then vowed to never do it again.  The disorganization of a race put on by such a large, global company amazed me. It was entirely too crowded, there was almost no communication before or after the race, it was hard to find information online, the race itself was ridiculously crowded and never started on time, the finish area was entirely too crowded (you just ran 13.1 or 26.2 miles and then you’re at an immediate dead stop for at least 10 minutes trying to push through the crowd to get your food, necklace, photo or gear bag), and both years it took almost 2 hours to get on the shuttle back to Union Square (that you paid for).   But when I was asked to run the race for Nuun (they are the hydration sponsor) this year, I couldn’t say no!

I went to the expo on Thursday as soon as my plane landed at SFO and LOVE LOVE LOVE Thursday NWM expo! It’s not crowded at all, since the people flying in haven’t arrived yet. Packet pickup was a breeze (no line!) and I was able to get first dibs on any samples that were there (and they were good!).  I went and picked up my car afterwards and made the long drive home, arriving around 9:30pm (after traveling for almost 24 hours).

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I really wasn’t sure how this race was going to go.  Actually, I was quite sure it was going to be really bad. I had just gotten back from 3 weeks in SE Asia just 2 days prior, I had been having tummy issues (more on that in another post) since the day I left India, severe jetlag was still in full effect and I had spent over an hour the night before the race attempting to find a parking spot near my friends apartment in the Mission (where I was spending the night).  To add to that, my left knee had started to throb 2 days before I left India.  I finally fell asleep about 11:30pm, woke up at 1:50am, fell back asleep at almost 3am and woke up at 440am. Awesome nights rest, right? The night before that (what some say is the most important night of sleep before a race), I had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep. I was doomed!

They changed the course this year (and eliminated the full marathon) – two things I was excited to experience. Less crowding and a whole new view of the city? Yes please. We got dropped off at the start (thanks Alvaro!), didn’t check any bags (though it looked WAY easier, more organized and less crowded than years passed), walked to our corral and got in and out of the portapotties in record time – SCORE!  Since we were in one of the last corrals, it took about an hour for us to finally cross the start line (something I really wish they’d work on). I was running the race with a friend who was running her first 1/2 marathon (longest run 9 miles), so both were excited and nervous at the same time. (more…)

Ragnar Relay Napa Valley 2014 Race Recap

I can’t believe another year of Ragnar is over. It’s been a  crazy busy year of trying to herd all of the local ambassadors, make sure our events are covered, postcards are handed out and info sessions are given in the Bay Area. The race sold out (yay!) earlier than last year, so that was a pretty awesome feeling, knowing we had helped with that.

Then I broke my toe less than a month before Ragnar. I was super worried about it healing in time and also having zero runs under my belt for 5 weeks before the race.  I’m happy to say that my toe didn’t fall off, but was NOT happy during the weekend.

We woke up super early on Friday morning to head to Golden Gate Park to meet with the rest of the team.  While at the start area in Marx Meadows, I was eaten alive by who knows what. Seriously though, they bit me through my compression socks. WHAT THE WHAT.  I had welts all over both legs and they were super itchy. That was at 7:30am and as runner #12, I still had about 10 hours before my first leg.  By 10am, the two bites on my left calf (same side as my broken toe) were painfully swollen. It looked like someone cut a baseball in half and then attached it to the side of my calf. It was rock hard and felt like one of the deepest bruises I’ve ever had. Just walking on it was painful.

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it was so early that everything was still illuminated!

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This was my ankle 1.5 days AFTER the race. You can imagine how swollen it was DURING the race!

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SF Marathon 2nd half race recap

I was lucky enough to be able to run this race for Nuun since they were the official on course support for the race- only the 2nd half marathon was still open for registration, so by default it’s the one I ran (and I’m glad!).  The first half marathon course starts under the Bay Bridge, runs along the Embarcadero, through Fisherman’s Wharf, through the Marina, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio and finishes in Golden Gate Park.  Since between Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 marathon, Nike Women’s 1/2 marathon and Mermaid Series 10k, I’ve covered all of that before and wanted a change of scenery.

The 2nd 1/2 marathon course ran through parts of the city that I’ve never had the chance to run through before, so I was really excited to see new parts of the city that I normally might wander through to find food or shopping, but have never had empty streets to myself.

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The 2nd 1/2 marathon starts at Spreckel’s Lake in Golden Gate Park and finishes on the Embarcadero alongside the Main Marathon Finish Line. You run  GG Park, then out of the park on Haight Street, through Haight/Ashbury, the Mission District, Mission Bay, and passes AT&T Park, finishing just before the Ferry Building, by Cupid’s Span.  

I worked the Nuun booth all day Saturday so both K and I (both running the 2nd half marathon for Nuun) were on our feet all day (though she worked the expo Friday as well, while I was at my regular FT job all day).  We stayed Saturday night at a hotel in Union Square, had our pre-race dinner after the expo, and back up to the room to get ready for race morning.  Since our race didn’t start until after 8am, we were able to sleep in a little bit (whew!), and while normally we start races at 6:30am, we were able to set our alarms for that time.  We grabbed a cab in the morning, he drove like a madman (typical SF taxi driver) through multiple “yellow” lights and dropped us off in the park. Turns out, NOT at Spreckel’s Lake, but at Stow Lake, which was semi-close to where the 1st 1/2 marathon finished.  Ont op of that, no one seemed to know where the start of the 2nd 1/2 marathon was, and there was literally no staff at the 1st 1/2 finish to ask.  Volunteers had no idea, so we had to wander quite a bit and ended up walking an extra 1.5 miles to get to the start, so that was our warm up since we were hustling!

It was already warm by the time we got there, all in tanks and shorts, said our goodbyes and good lucks at the gear check trucks (K is speedier than I am, so she was starting in Wave 2), headed to the long port-o-potty lines, and then jumped in with Wave 4.

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…don’t mind my ashy legs!

Thanks to the random girl behind me in the port-o-potty line for taking pictures! When you offer to take someones picture (who is struggling with selfies) at a race, 9 times out of 10 it’s because you secretly also want one yourself, and need someone to take it for you because you’re running alone haha

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The race atmosphere just gets you so pumped up!

Originally when I registered, since I haven’t run a 1/2 since April, I registered for the last wave (Wave 5, 2:30-3:30).  Since we needed to stop at all the aid stations to taste the Nuun to make sure it was properly mixed, I knew that would add some time, plus my slow, untrained self would add some time, too! I just wanted to finish the race in about 2:30, but when I saw the waves and the pacers, I had the urge to jump in with the 2:20 pacer, full of hope haha.

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Since I’ve run multiple races in SF before, this elevation chart didn’t worry me. Multiple people told us there were quite a few nice downhills in the second half of the race, and that sounded pretty good to me!

We headed off into the park and it was a really nice few miles through one of the most beautiful pieces of land the city has to offer. Most people don’t realize how large the park is, and everything that it offers. Sure, trees and fields, music festivals, but there’s also museums, the Japanese Tea Garden, beautiful music concourse, waterfalls, windmills and bison. It’s pretty effing spectacular.

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Shortly after this, I had my mild panic attack (normal) that I somehow veered off course and would actually run the full marathon distance. It too me a minute to remember, “duh, Sheena. You’re running the second half of the marathon. Of course you’re on the same course as them!” It didn’t help to ease my anxiety that all of the mile markings in the park were for the full marathon.

I turned a corner around mile 4 near Stow Lake (where our stinkin taxi driver dropped us off) and saw this fabulous guy in the familiar Ragnar Relay jacket – so needed a little motivation at that moment.

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now THAT’S excited! Also, first time I realized how low-cut this awesome tank top is. I’m sorry or you’re welcome, whatever your feelings are haha

By about mile 4.5, the sun was out in full force, so it was incredibly warm and direct sun. Every water stop I’d grab some water and then grab a second cup (or hose if they had it) to throw on my arms and chest since they were on fire.  We continued through the park for another couple miles and exited at mile 6, right on Haight Street. That’s where the party started! There were people cheering, ringing cowbells, with signs and even a stroller with a bubble machine (sidenote, if your bubbles are made of soap, while it might look cool, it sucks to be the runner that has to inhale/choke on soap bubbles or get them in your eyes).

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See that lovely hill in the distance? BAH.

There were people having coffee and breakfast at cafes watching the race, and I was STARVING at this point.  By mile 2 I started to feel a deep hunger pain right under the top center of my rib cage and I knew I wasn’t going to make it all the way through, so I texted my friend who lives in the Mission that if she happened to be downstairs in about an hour with some bread with peanut butter or something, I’d owe her big time. Luckily she lives right along the course, so she agreed!  We finished running through Haight/Ashbury and headed toward the Mission. I knew exactly what corner she would be on and the thought of her with food was what got me through miles 6-8.

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Kristina the Lifesaver! At mile 8 with a kids Clif bar.

I snapped this picture, grabbed half of the Clif Z bar and shoveled it into my mouth. I don’t even think I chewed. I couldn’t even tell you what flavor it was. Flavor delicious, that’s what it was.  We continued through the Mission (where the lovely SF urine smell decided to make an appearance. Was totally expecting it, so I made sure to breathe through my mouth for parts of it) and on to Mission Bay.

Around mile 10 I started to realize that my fingers were incredibly swollen and I had trouble making a fist since they were so tight. Since it was so warm, I was sweating more than normal and the electrolyte levels in my body were incredibly low (turns out SF Marathon didn’t purchase enough electrolyte products/water/cups for the race and most aid stations were depleted by the time I got there). I hadn’t had electrolytes since mile 1, and minimal amounts of water between miles 1 and the finish. I started to fatigue and ended up having to run/walk for the last 3 miles of the race, but was still ahead of the 2:20 pacers, so I was happy.  I made it to the finish, stopped my Bia watch when I crossed, and went straight to find some electrolytes because I was super shaky at that point.

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Happy finisher! Official time: 2:17:47 – my 2nd 1/2 marathon under 2:20! I’m starting to feel more confident with my running since I was FINALLY able to break 2:20 not once, but twice this year!

I guzzled that Zico coconut water like no other. Normally I like to wander around the finish area, but it was a madhouse trying to get from exiting with your medal and getting into the finishers area, so I sat on the curb, stretched out my hips, slammed that Zico (and the weird boxed water they handed out, which ended up spilling everywhere instead of going into my mouth), grabbed my gear back and walked the 1.6 miles back to our hotel. The further I got from the race finish, the less runners were around and the looks people were giving me got even crazier. I’m super glad I decided to walk back vs take an uber or taxi because I really needed to stretch the hips out and cool down my muscles.  Got up to the room, promptly double-fisted 2 bottles of Watermelon Nuun.

It was a fantastic weekend full of Nuun, and I’m incredibly lucky for the opportunity to run the race for them.

I’ll post the official race photos soon (The SF Marathon is super awesome and provides digital copies of your photos FA FREE! You heard me, you can get your race photos for $free.99)!

 

Did you race last weekend? How did it go?

Race Recap: See Jane Run 5k

Happy Hump Day!  On Sunday I ran a very last minute 5k race. I had won a race entry for See Jane Run in Alameda, and had the choice of either the 1/2 marathon or the 5k. After my last 1/2 in April, I hadn’t really been preparing or training for another long race, so I decided to do the 5k. A week or two ago, I ran along the Marina with a friend that runs short distances, and is quite a bit faster than me. It really pushes me when I run with faster people, and I love it! I need all the speedwork I can get in, frankly. The following days after our 2.5 mile run, my calves were SCREAMING, so I knew it was a good one. I also knew I needed to do it more often!

Since our run was about on par with my 5k PR time (28:12), I decided to push myself and attempt a new 5k PR at See Jane Run. Since Ragnar Relay was going to be tabling and advertising for our local Napa Valley race in September (come join us!), I was up bright and early on Saturday to meet up with Jennifer and head to the expo before it opened to set up our table. I was excited because I knew Bia Sport would be there, as well as Living OneLove headbands.  It.was.cold.

Sunday morning I was up super early to get ready and meet with another Ragnar ambassador to give her the stuff for the Ragnar table. She was going to be tabling with her 10 year-old son who LOVES to table for Ragnar. He’s a rockstar. He knows ALL the Ragnar information already and was chatting up people like it was his job.

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Next generation of Ragnar Ambassadors right here!

With smaller, local races, it’s SO much easier. Packet pickup, getting to the race, finding parking, getting to the start, walking around, getting home, everything. I ended up taking the bus from my friends house, so getting to the start took about 20 minutes (awesome time!), walked through the park where the Start line was, past the port-o-potties and the 1/2 marathoners who were already warming up and stretching.  Went over to the Ragnar table to hang out with them until the 5k started at 8:30am, say hello to the Bia tent again and headed over to the OneLove tent to buy a couple more headbands. I had my eye on a style the day before but didn’t grab it.

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The start of the 5k

About 15 minutes prior to the start of the 5k, there were NO lines at the port-o-potties (See Jane Run, you won the port-o-pottie contest because this NEVER happens!) and I quickly got in the corral. 8:45 and under people were to line up right at the front, and since I knew that wasn’t possible, I lined up a bit further back (I need to have more faith!). It’s a great course that follows what my normal running route used to be when I lived in Alameda, along the water, passed my old apartment and is FLAT (yay!).

I started a little faster than I had wanted, but man that adrenaline was pumping! I picked a girl up ahead of me and wanted to maintain my position with her, so that definitely kept me going. I was super surprised when my Nike+ app went off and notified me that my first mile was 8:16. WHAT. I have never run that fast in my life haha. Then my calves started to tighten up and feel like lead. I knew with that little cushion, I could run a 9 minute 2nd mile and a 10 minute 3rd mile if needed, and still PR, which felt pretty flipping good, if you ask me. Now I just had to will my calves to comply (I had been having issues with my left calf and glute since that fast run with my friend).  I definitely slowed down the 2nd mile to try to alleviate the calf tightness and I think it helped. They had a couple aid stations along the 5k route (super appreciated!), and by 8:40am, it was already sunny and HOT. I was sweating and didn’t anticipate the sun, so I didn’t have a hat or visor on. Second mile clicked along and I hit mile 2 at around 8:50 pace. I knew that a PR was going to happen as long as something didn’t go wrong in that last mile. I felt good frankly, and that’s good for the muscles and good for the spirit as well! By the time we got back into the park, I was checking my Bia to make sure I was still on target and tried to pick it up. As soon as I could see the Finish chute, I picked it up, lengthened my stride and tried to hustle in. I hit mile 3 at around 8:45 pace.

Plus, it’s always amazing when they call your name as you’re crossing the finish line!

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Unofficial time

Any time I’m encouraged with a WOOT! is a good day! Unofficial time on my Bia was 26:38 (definite PR!) and official time when posted was 26:43, for a PR of 1 minute and 29 seconds!!!

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I even got 6th place in my age group (out of 102 women in my age group!), and was 57/902 overall for females! HUGE EGO BOOST when I constantly doubt my running due to nagging injuries and seeing so many runners that are amazing and way faster. I had hydrated with TONS of Nuun Energy in Lemon Lime, so I think that definitely helped!

So I rewarded myself with an amazingly gluttenous brunch from Universal Cafe:

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Brunch appetizers! Homemade blueberry donuts with chantilly cream and blueberry sauce + a fruit plate that included my favorite figs!

 

How was your weekend? Any racing?