race recap

Nike store opening and Bay to Breakers

It was a very full weekend! Friday I worked a full day at work, carpooled home after work for 2 hours, to find out my friend Suzanne (flying up from San Diego for our annual Bay to Breakers tradition) was delayed at the SD airport. She was supposed to land at 955pm in Oakland and now wasn’t going to land until after 11pm. I knew there was no way I’d still be able to drive another hour+ back home after picking her up, only to have to leave my house at 8am Saturday morning to drive back to the city. Instead, I used HotelTonight to book a room close to the Oakland airport. If you’ve never used the HotelTonight app, when you sign up and use the code ‘SCAINES,’ you’ll get $25 in credit! It’s really great when you’re in need of a last minute hotel room. Unexpected things come up and who doesn’t love to find a cheap hotel room (but nice hotels) when you’re in a bind? The hotel was right next to the airport, free parking (take that San Francisco!), free wifi, free shuttle, HUGE comfy bed AND best of all, AMAZING FREE BREAKFAST!! Seriously though, they had everything.

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Suz remembered to IG her breakfast of champs :)

We headed out to the city to pick up a couple boxes from my office, and then head to Cow Hollow to the new Nike store on Union Street.  They had their grand opening the night before, and were having all kinds of events that weekend to celebrate. You had to RSVP in advance, and most classes and events filled up pretty quickly.  We signed up for the Nike Run Club at 10:30am and miraculously made it in pretty quick time and found a parking spot less than a block away (SF miracle). The new store is a retail store that focuses on womens running, training and sportswear, but also has for men as well (they also do styling, bra fitting, weekly Nike+ Run Clubs, and Nike Training Club classes with partner gyms and locations in the surrounding neighborhoods). You can follow the Nike SF Twitter account for more event information. photoThere were tons of ladies there (and a few good men) ready to get their run on. They had tables set up, you could test out the Nike+ Sportwatch and FlyKnit shoes, and every person got a DryMax shirt – I think mainly so they wouldn’t lose us on the run haha. They were pretty organized with pacers and everything (each carrying a Beats Pill to make sure we had some upbeat tunes to run to, which was fantastic – and now I really want one!) They led us through the rest of Cow Hollow, down along the Marina and then back up to Union Street. We were on the “long course,” so it was supposed to be a little over 4 miles, but it only ended up being 3.05 miles. Oh well, a runs a run! When we finished, they had Pressed Juicery, Kind bars, Nike water bottles (already filled with water!), Zico coconut water and sweat towels waiting for us – SCORE!  We then headed to the expo, found free parking close by (again, it was a day of SF miracles), picked up our packets, walked around the expo a bit, and by that time we were on the verge of hangry. We drove close to my work, parked and walked down to Boudin near Pier 39 to get some sourdough soup bowls.  We’re pretty sure they put tryptophan in sourdough or something because we BARELY made it home before passing out. The nap was glorious and we were ready for dinner at 8pm! We ended up going to Yellowtail Sushi (bomb.com if you’re ever in Alameda!), quick trip to Target to pick up a towel and then back to the apartment to visit with our friend we were staying with and head to bed. Alarm clock went off super early, we got dressed and drove to BART. Thankfully BART made one good decision in the past year, and opened BART earlier so people could actually take public transport to the race – they never do this and it’s stupid!  We walked around looking for caffeine once we got into SF, I randomly ran into Pavement Runner on the way, got into our corral and waited… and waited… and waited.

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Quite a few folks asked if that was actually coffee in our cups, or semi-hidden. We were tired and it was early. It was most definitely caffeine (mine in the form of a soy Earl Grey tea latte)

It was supposed to start at 8am and it didn’t start until about 840am, which meant our corral didn’t cross until almost 9am. We were impatient and just wanted to get the show on the road because the drunk suburban moms were getting on our LAST nerves.

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You can’t get away without a selfie!

We decided last minute to run as much of the race as we could. Starting in the last corral and almost an hour late was not conducive to any type of record breaking times (although, since we always walk the race to people watch, any time would be a PR for us haha). It took awhile until the crowd thinned enough to start running, and most of our running had to happen on the sidewalk since it was so crowded. There was A LOT of zigging and zagging. image_2 By the time we got to Hayes Hill we had to walk because it seemed like every single drunkie was partying on the hill and we could barely push through walking. It was insane. That’s what happens when you push the start to a later time (at 8am) and then start it late on top of that. People are passed out, puking or stumbling by 9:30am. The run felt fabulous actually, even though parts were fast and parts were slow. We had no idea how fast we were actually going since none of us had our watches or Nike apps on, but the body felt good!

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We made it to Golden Gate Park!

And while running through part of the park, randomly ran into another friend who was on our Ragnar team last year for Napa Valley.

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So this photo is a screenshot that my friend in Australia took. She was looking at the Instagram “popular” feed and was like, that girl looks like Sheena, I’m going to take a pic and send it to her. Doppelganger! … wait… that IS Sheena!” So basically, Ebo and I were internet famous for a few minutes :)

All in all, it was a good race, and always fun to do Bay to Breakers. If we decide to do it again next year and actually run, even slow, we’re going to have to start in either corral B or C.  And they’ve definitely got some kinks to work out as well: Lyft was a sponsor this year and they were offering rides after the race. They had a designated parking lot for you to wait for a ride. It was a cluster. We had to wait in line for almost 1.5 hours JUST to get into a car, even though there were always 15-20+ cars waiting in line to pick up people the ENTIRE time. Absolutely ridiculous.

Also, California looooooovvveeee!

california love

Survivor Mud Run Sacramento

For Christmas this past year, I gave my little sister a handmade pass/coupon type of gift. This pass was good for one race entry of her choice.  I’ve been running for a few years now, and she’s been wanting to run one the last year, but her ankle was bothering her, so she wasn’t able to train for longer runs.  In late January she found the race she wanted to do: Survivor Mud Run in Sacramento.

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I registered the both of us for the 11am wave (I got home late one night when I tried to register and barely missed when the price had been $10 cheaper. The price went up $10 that morning. I was super bummed about that, but registered the two of us. The next day, they announced a $10 off coupon and I was even MORE bummed… not to mention they eventually came out with a GroupOn haha).

Since it was pretty deep in Sacramento, I picked her up at 8:15am, we stopped for bananas and bagels for breakfast and cash at the ATM since everything there is cash only and started the hourlong drive to Rancho Murietta.  Turns out there was major construction on the freeway in Sacramento, so we were pretty much stopped for awhile, and then once we got close to Van Vleck Ranch, we were stopped in a line trying to enter the ranch to park.  It took us 45 minutes from the point we got in line to enter to when we finally go to park, and we were going to be cutting it close to our start wave.  We got in line to pick up out bibs at 10:30am and thought we’d still be fine, but that wasn’t the case since the lines to pick up bibs took SO long (the lines themselves weren’t that long but they literally were not moving. I’ve run a TON of races from 5k to 1/2 marathons and this is by far the longest I have ever had to wait in line for a race bib, for this small of a race (granted, it’s not small, but definitely small compared to others).  My line was going faster and I finally got to the front at 11:05am (missing the start of our heat) and could see why the lines weren’t moving – even though the lines were broken up by alphabet, there was only one person working 2 alphabet lines (and some pretty sliggishly slow, honestly).  I got my bib and sweatband and headed to the port-o-potties (no toilet paper already), and to the gear check line, which went pretty quickly.  My sister came running up after getting her bib at 11:13am, we put everything in my bag to check (including my glasses – hello blind runner!) and went to pin our bibs on, just missing the 11:15a, wave. We ended up running to the Start area, and just went ahead and started at 11:18am instead of waiting for the 11:30am wave start.

90% of the people were walking through all the dug out mud pits (since they’re filled with water, you couldn’t really tell how deep they were until you got in), but we happily ran through every single one of them (sorrynotsorry for everyone we splashed! It’s a mud run, get dirty and get over it!), ran when we could, walked when we needed to catch our breath (random rolling hills!), and had a lot of fun! There were far more rocks than I care for on the course. I know it’s mud and you can’t really help it, but when you’re trying to slide down a mud wall and then BAM! all of the sudden you slide across a rock, your tailbone isn’t going to be very happy. Or when you’re crawling through a muddy water pit, underneath wire or rope or netting, and there are all kinds of rocks in the mud, that knee that you just cut up and bruised is not going to be happy (and then you’re going to cake mud into your now bloody knee). But we kept going, jumped over walls (hello upper body strength!) like BOSSES, went across monkey bars (not fab when they’re covered in slippery mud), crawled through mud pits, climbed over tall walls of mud and slid down the other side into dugout watery mud pits (quite a few times), climbed through tubes ending in watery mud pits (sensing a theme here?) and climbed up a talllll net wall (a little uneasy at the very top since it’s so slippery when you’re trying to climb over to the other side to go down), and ran and jumped on the water slide into… you guessed it, the final huge watery mud pit!

We finished the race together with our arms raised above our heads, got our medals, grabbed our gear check bags and headed to rinse off the mud before getting into my new car (I still owe you guys a post on that!), but not before taking some pictures!

mudrun (1)Covered in mud! There was literally mud and/or muddy water in ever crevice you can imagine
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and in those you couldn’t even possibly fathom.

mudrun (1)Muddy selfie! I seriously thought I did SO well during the race of NOT getting mud on my face.
Turns out I did a really horrible job haha. And let me tell you, once it dries, it’s basically superglued to your skin.

mudrun (3)So incredibly grateful for my awesome trail shoes – Brooks Cascadia. These are super old models though… I think the 7’s? (for reference, I bought these in… end of 2011 I think? They’re already on the 9’s!)  They were grippier than other running shoes would have been and are basically seekers of mud and dirt so they were pretty happy after the race. My socks, however, did not survive (even with 2 washings… methinks these will be solely trail/mud run socks now. GO TEAM!)

We went to the “showers” and tried to clean up as much as we possibly could, took off our shirts (mine didn’t survive. It was one of my oldest shirts and was worn super thin.  The safety pins + weight of the mud = big torn holes where 2 of the safety pins were at. RIP Hanes shirt), and our shorts (the trickling water didn’t get me super clean), wrapped up in towels and sloshed our way back to the car.  When you’re a runner, you kind of lose any sense of self-consciousness (I mean, come on, I’ve seen you all pee .. and poop? in bushes, behind port-o-potties. Have you seen our nasty feet? Hello blood blisters and missing toe nails that we’re oh so proud of.  We don’t smell fabulous AT ALL after long runs, I spot A LOT when I run but haven’t mastered the snot rocket many of you love, and have shown my fellow runners chafing in places I barely show my doctor).  I think it’s runner love or something, who knows.  It basically means you have no problems changing outside of a car (water polo in high school made me an expert at changing under a towel).  Apologies to anyone in the field that saw my bum when I was putting dry undies on!

We left Van Vleck Ranch needing food STAT, so we drove toward Arden Fair and my sister picked BJ’s since she had never been. We had a delicious lunch (and watched some hockey – GO BRUINS!), and rewarded our efforts for the day with a bomb.com treat!

mudrun (4)The new salted caramel Pizookie! TO.DIE.FOR. I still love me some peanut butter cookie Pizookie,
but this one was pretty delicious and much needed for both of us.

We made the hour drive home and were pretty spent, but the Pacific Northwest Gods blessed our town with a Dutch Bros. coffee shop, so we stopped for a second treat of the day on the way home.  If you’ve never heard of them, it’s the largest privately-help drive-thru coffee company that was started in 1992 in southern Oregon by a couple of awesome brohams. The coffee is roasted by hand in the PNW.  They’re all locally owned and operated, which makes me happy.  The Kicker is delicious, but their regular cups of coffee are also super yummy (they also have tea, cocoa, energy drinks, kids drinks, smoothies and italian sodas!)

cuppaLook how cute their cups are! Anything amazing coming out of the PNW just makes me miss it a ton. Time for a visit?

How has your weekend been?

And for the BJ’s fans, how do you pronounce Pizokie? Like Pizz-oo-key OR Pizz-uhk-ee?

Boston Marathon

Was emotional to watch last year. As a runner, it really hit home for me when those bombs went off, and the aftermath that ensued. We gathered at Chrissy Field shortly after to honor Boston and show our Boston Strong unity.  I knew this year would be even more emotional – watching footage from last year, watching the tributes, hearing people’s stories, etc.

I started watching the live footage as I was waiting in the carpool line at 6:15am PST. I watched the elite ladies take off and sent as many positive thoughts as I could to Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan. They had been training hard and had a good chance at winning!

At around 6:30am, the elite men lined up and got ready to start.

20140422-115954.jpg I continued to watch the live stream while in the carpool line and then once I got picked up, I put in my headphones. I then continued to bawl silently for the hourlong car ride because I’m emotional as it is, but Boston made me more emotional. I tried to blame it on allergies.

20140422-150754.jpgShalane leading the pack of women. At this point in the race, the women’s group was still together but Shalane was in front from the beginning and looked strong. Meb was also in the front pack and looked strong. I was so pumped!

20140422-150910.jpgCan’t you just feel that energy!?

When I got out of the car, I still had a 20 minute walk to work and my phone died 5 minutes into the walk, dang it! I walked as fast as I could and turned on my laptop. As soon as the feed started, I knew we were in trouble – Shalane was nowhere to be seen 🙁 Started out fast, staying in the lead and not drafting affected her later in the race and she faded behind the lead pack of women.

20140422-151049.jpgMeb was still in it to win in though!

20140422-151119.jpgWatching Rita Jeptoo win for the 2nd year in a row (and 3rd time in her life!) in 2:18:57 was pretty awesome. One of her last few miles was downhill and she ran it in 4:47. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! She ran an entire marathon 4 minutes slower than my PR for the 1/2 marathon! She also set a new course record.

The mens race was pretty close to giving me a heart attack. Meb was KILLING IT, but in the last 2 miles, Chebet really started gaining on him. The last mile and a half you could see Chebet behind Meb, but with camera angles, you don’t really know how close it is. The announcers started with Chebet being 16 seconds behind Meb. Then the lead started dwindling. A grimace on Meb’s face equals my stomach dropping. I wanted him to just hang on for another 6 minutes.  He grimaced again, but the lead went to 10 seconds. GOOD LAWD!  Then something inside of him ignited and he looked strong again.  Chepkwony literally came out of NOWHERE to battle with Chebet and it was a super close finish.

 

20140422-151131.jpgBut he did it! I got goosebumps as he realized he was going to win (and got them again as I typed that sentence). He finished in 2:08:37, and is the first American man to win since 1983!  Chebet finished 11 seconds behind Meb and Chepkwony was only 2 seconds behind Chebet. That’s how awesome this years field was. And how even more awesome Meb is!

I’m so proud of him. I’ve had the awesome opportunity to meet him, to run along the bay in San Diego passed him, to say hello, shake his hand and give him that runners nod as we passed each other. He moved to San Diego when he was a kid and we share that community love for the city. This win couldn’t have happened to a better man!

CONGRATS MEB!!

 

Rock n Roll SF: Lucky 1/2 #13! #RnRSF

I didn’t sleep very well the night before. Combine the noise from the street (some lady was SCREAMING for a couple minutes straight before someone finally got her to calm down / I’m pretty sure the police were called to calm her down. Kids, stay off drugs!) and the fact that I was so nervous I’d oversleep my alarm.

I woke up at 12:30am to go to the bathroom (rare but I was super hydrating with Nuun so that’s probably why!) and to turn off the heater because we were all sweating bullets. Fell back asleep and then woke up probably a handful of times between 12:30 and when 4:25am when I got up.  Kim and I had set all of our stuff out the night before and both slept in our race capris (made it super easy. I already had my lucky race undies on!) and were both packed up and ready to walk out the door at 4:50am.  We had a short walk to the shuttle pick-up area (perfect location, just 3 blocks away!) and I was pretty amazed at the organization and efficiency of this race! Normal RnR races are HUGE, so it can be quite a cluster, and after doing Nike 1/2 in SF for 2 years, I can tell you that race is ALWAYS a cluster.  We literally walked right up to a bus, got on and were off about 30 seconds later. We drove to the city to the Great Highway, and were off the shuttle bus at 5:30am! Crap. We thought it would take longer; now we had a whole hour to kill haha. We grabbed snacks (thanks race directors!) and walked around to warm up, people watched (my favorite thing to do) and saw the VIP people in the nice warm building across the road enjoying their clean toilets and buffet. I think I drooled a little on the pavement.

We dropped the gear check bag (again, about a 20 second wait in line), and walked towards corral 1 at 6am to try to find Brian aka Pavement Runner to take the pre-race picture. Since there was a time cutoff for the bridge, they put the slowest corral up front and let them go way before 6:30am, so it was crowded when we got there. I couldn’t spot him, so we turned around to head to corral 4 (the lowest corral I will probably ever start in haha), and ran into him about 30 seconds later!

me and paveyWe got in corral 4, listened as corral 15 took off, and then maybe 5-10 minutes later we heard the national anthem start, and then the regular corrals were off! Kim left me as soon as we crossed the start (which she very well should have since she’s so fast!) and after the first turn, we already had a hill. oy vey.  The very first initial stretch is flat along the Great Highway, and then runs through Seacliff and the Presidio (houses I’ll never be able to afford), past Baker Beach and then over the Golden Gate Bridge (I ran the bridge last year during this race and the view is beautiful when it’s clear!).  After the bridge, you have a little downhill (YES!), and then some flatter areas along the Marina, through Nob Hill, and finally finished Downtown at Civic Center Plaza.  San Francisco is pretty freaking beautiful, especially when it’s a nice clear day like we had on Sunday. It’s absolutely beautiful with breathtaking (literally) views.

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what the HILL?!

The hills killed me. Pretty much every single one. This wasn’t a PR race, trust me. But what it lacked in quickness, it more than made up for in beautiful sights!Miles 0-8 had no bands since the Presidio and Sea Cliff neighborhoods have noise ordinances in place before 8am. They had jugglers and fire eater people, which was cool to watch for a second, but had they not been there, I would have been more than ok.

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Beautifully clear skies!

I ran the race last year (it was a completely different course), and both years you got to run across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Last year you ran on the sidewalk and there weren’t as many people running the race, so it never felt crowded (the entire 13.1 miles).  This was definitely not the case this year.  Once we got to the bridge it was WAY too crowded. We had 2 lanes for the race; one heading out and one coming back.  Despite having 2 lanes, there was no room.  Since we had caught up to corral 15 at about miles 3, the course started to get way too cramped and on the bridge at times it felt somewhat dangerous with how little room you had to actually run.  This is definitely something they need to work on if they keep the bridge on the course (which they definitely should!)

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I need to work on my selfies when trying to also include a super nice background.

I had to go to the bathroom by mile 3.5, but there were no bathrooms for the 4 miles until the end of the bridge, so I held it until we got off the bridge and started our downhill towards the Marina.  Since I knew where the public restrooms were under the bridge, I pulled off the course and headed through the parking lot to the bathrooms. No wait and flushing toilets! Saweet! It probably added about 2-2.5 minutes to veer away, go and get back onto the course, but totally worth it! At that point things start to flatten out and my legs were super grateful! I like to people watch and the Marina has the added benefit of house-watching as well since they are so nice! I always try to look into the front windows to see if anyone is having their morning coffee, watching the race. Nada.

Once we headed into the neighborhoods, the hills started again. It was getting pretty warm by this point, but you’d get an occasional whiff of wind that felt amazing. Winding through the city (extra hills and all) is pretty great because there is SO much to look at, and by this time in the morning, people are awake and walking around getting breakfast and coffee and waving and cheering for you, which always feels great!

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Getting to mile 13 never felt so good!

Sprint as much as I could to the finish and I was done! I downed the rest of my Nuun in my handheld, grabbed a bottle of cold water and dumped that in my handheld, added another Nuun tablet, and stood in line to take a picture with my medal.  It was perfect timing because right when I was walking through the grassy finishers area, they had Melody on stage to announce how many people she passed!

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How many do you think she passed? 2,000? 3,000? 3,500? 4,500? Nah. She’s a baller and passed 7,569 people!!! Can you believe that?! That’s the most people anyone has ever passed, and the biggest check they’ve handed out. Yay for $7,569 going to the amazing St. Jude’s charity!

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We finally got a picture together after being online friends since… 2010 I think?!

My legs and hips needed a good stretch and there was plenty of comfy grass to plop down in.

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image_7Hooray!! It makes me feel good to see the progress I’ve made (even if it’s only a smidge) since I started running, and especially when I run a race more than once. Even though this course was MUCH hillier than last years course (and Nike, I think), I stopped for photos and to say hi to friends, and had to walk breaks and pull off the course for the bathroom, I ran it only a couple minutes slower than last year, and MUCH faster than Nike!

We then walked the 4 blocks back to the room, showered, packed up, checked out, stored our luggage and headed to Cow Hollow/The Marina area for a delicious lunch/brunch/post-race drinks at Balboa Cafe (even bigger perk? You get to draw on the tablecloths with crayons!), then walked around the Marina and over to Palace of the Fine Arts to drop dead in the grass for some sunbathing 🙂

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ps, if you’re ever around that area and needing a caffeine fix, walk away from the numerous Peet’s and Starbucks and head towards Bereka Coffee on Lombard between Scott and Pierce. Small joint (with wifi!) and they make every single cup by hand individually. Deliciously smooth and the family that owns it is super nice.  If I’m ever in that area again and need a coffee, I’ll be stopping there! Love local little joints like that.

image_9Chrissy Field was hoppin!  We had to take a roomie picture before we left. April celebrates 10 years and 8 months since we became roommates freshman year of college in the dorms. Crazy how much time has gone by!

How about you, did you have a race this past weekend? Have you ever run across the Golden Gate Bridge?

#RnRSF expo day

I won a race entry from Brooks Running, so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to run this race for the second year in a row (last year was their inaugural year and I ran it with Brooks last year as well).  This would also be 1/2 marathon 13, and 13 is my lucky number, so I definitely couldn’t say no! I knew it would be a HILLY race, but the weather was forecasted to be nice, so I planned ot just enjoy this race. Take everything in, stop for photos, and walk the hills if I needed to (and trust, I needed to).  Since Rock n Roll introduced the Tour Pass, I had a couple friends flying up from San Diego to run this race as part of their unlimited Tour Pass this year (I’m thinking about getting one next year, but think I’d only be able to do the 3-race pass since I would still need to afford flights and hotel for any destination races!)

Another friend in the city hooked me up with a SWEET room in SoMa (we were the first ones to sleep in it!) so we would be just blocks from the shuttles in the morning to the start line, and from the finish line, aka PERFECT.  Many drinks were had with friends on Friday night, and then waking up on Saturday feeling like garbage, we realized we’re getting old.

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The view from our 14th floor AMAZING room!

I said adios to alcohol (I’m not a big drinker at all anyways, so this is probably the first week I’ve had more than one drink since last year) for the day, they headed off to do an Alcatraz tour, and I walked down to the expo to see the awesome Melody (aka run4margaritas) do her Q&A with the Penguin himself, John Bingham.

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Always ready to rock!

Melody was chosen by Transamerica (race sponsor) as the races Tomorrow Chaser. She started as the very last person in the race, and for every person she passed, they would donate $1 to St. Jude. Melody and I have been web friends for quite some time through Brooks and then Fitfluential, so it’s always nice to finally meet in person!
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After the expo we headed to The Grove for some delicious food and relaxation and slowly made our way back to our room to rest up for dinner.  My friends cousin and other friend drove down to have dinner (and drinks for the non-runners) with us at Firenze by Night Ristorante in North Beach. If you haven’t been there, it’s super cute and delicious! They had a drink before our 7pm reservation, we all had a yummy dinner (yay carbo-loading!), and then we went for drinks afterwards. My coworker was in town from Boston, leaving the next morning, so he trekked all the way down to whatever dive bar we ended up in, which was super nice (him meeting us, not the dive bar haha).

We headed back to our room in SoMa around 10:30pm and I set my alarm for 4:30am (yikes)…

Women’s Running Series: San Diego Half Marathon Recap

You probably already read my last post about the entire weekend recap (wait, what?! You haven’t read it yet? Go read my last couple blog posts to get the full effect before reading this one!), but I wanted a special post just for the Women’s Running Series 1/2 marathon San Diego race.  Since I had hurt my foot 2.5 days before the race, and mid-January was the last time I had run over 4 miles (and not successfully. It was an immensely painful race and I was hobbling for days afterwards), I went into it not even knowing if I could finish it.  I wanted to see how far I could get, and anticipated walking the second half the race, if at all.

I woke up at 4am and left the hotel at 430am.  I had set everything out the night before, per usual, and quickly (and quietly) dressed and got my stuff together, as to not wake anyone else in the hotel room. The weather was forecasted to be pretty decent, so I opted for a tank and shorts (something I haven’t been able to race in for a LONG time in San Francisco).  Getting to Liberty Station was a breeze that early in the morning, and there is so much parking in that area that it took me 5 seconds to pull into a spot. It was pretty chilly and still early, so I stayed in the car for awhile before heading to the start area.

I walked around for a bit checking out where everything was situated, stood next to the gear check table as long as I could before having to give up my longsleeve shirt (haha) and then headed to the port-o-pottie lines (even that didn’t take long!).  I headed to the start line, said hello to one of my previous Team in Training mentees, and then lined up with the 2:30 pacer. My goal was to not get too behind the 2:30 pacer and to try to finish the race as much as I can.  I knew my roommate from freshman year of college would be around mile 7 and my family at mile 8, so I really wanted to at least make it that far.

I started off at a regular steady pace, and listened to how my body felt instead of constantly checking my watch. One great thing about smaller races like this is even if you’re a bit slower, you’re not waiting to cross the start line for 40 minutes. I started in corral 2, with the 2:30 pacer (so there were 3 pace groups ahead of us) and still crossed the start line 1 minute 30 seconds after the gun went off. AWESOME! I made up my mind at the start to not  use my watch very much. In case I was hurting and going really slow, I didn’t want to know it! I just listened to my legs and lungs and slowed down when I needed to and sped up when I thought I could.

Everything seemed to be going ok when I hit the 5k mark. With every step I took, I was waiting for pain to shoot through my right foot or my knee to start feeling stiff, but it was feeling ok at that time. I kept telling myself “if you go faster now, that’s less time for something to start hurting” (what a genius plan, Sheena).  Since I wasn’t looking at my watch, I didn’t really pay attention to what my pace was, but by mile 4 when I looked at the clock under the mile 4 sign, I saw I was doing decently well. I’m sure running in beautiful San Diego helped, too!  By mile 5, I felt like I had hit a really nice groove. At the mile 6 marker, I had to pull over and try to fix my hair because it was falling out of the bun and no one wants tangled mufasa hair during a race. I used that time to call my cousin to see if they were at mile 8, because I was only 2 miles away. They were still looking for parking, eep!

My college roommate Kat was right in front of the mile 7 marker and as soon as I saw her I yelled “KKKKKAAAATTTTTTT!!!” since she was talking to the other people standing there. She had made a sign and everything! I stopped to take a picture with her, fix my hair more securely this time, ask her if she wanted to come to breakfast with us after the race and then I was off again.  We are both injured, so she completely understood how nervous I was about the race, but we promised each other we’d finish our upcoming races (my race that morning and hers in San Francisco in April)… even if we had to crawl.

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#katbean #friendiversary hashtags are all the rage!

After I left her and turned the corner, I started to get close to Shelter Island Drive and look for my family on both sides of the street.  I finally saw them, but before the mile 8 marker and still walking towards it on the opposite side of the street. I was ahead of schedule and they were behind schedule.  I just yelled “CROSS THE STREET, I’LL COME BACK AROUND!” to them as I ran by. I was a little bummed at that, but kept on going. I ran around Shelter Island and at mile 8 looked at my watch.  When it looked around, I saw that at some point I had passed the 2:30 pacer because they were on the opposite side of the loop.  I realized at that pace, if I kept at it and hit mile 10.5 by 1:55, I could beat my previous PR of 2:21:21 and possibly even the 2:20 that I’ve been after for so long!

The family should have been around mile 10 so I kept looking for them but never saw them. I pulled over at about mile 10.3, called to see if they had gone straight to the finish, and they said they kept walking and were with Kat at mile 11. So I starter running again and told them I’d be there soon.  I saw them coming up, right where the mile 11 sign was, and as always, was running with a huge smile on my face, so happy to have some crowd support. I waved, pulled over, kissed the baby a few times for good luck to finish the race, told Kat “if I don’t die, I can PR!” and she said “What are you doing!? GOOOO!!

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I took off on Harbor Drive and still felt pretty good! I knew I was slowing down, but was still moving at a decent pace. Normally I hit the wall around mile 9, but having that excited feeling of looking forward to having people along the course cheering for me really helped me from hitting that wall. It distracted my mind from focusing on me being tired or things hurting, and helped to focus on something awesome and positive.  At mile 11.5 I could see the 2:15 pacer waaayyy ahead of me, and I knew if I could just keep her in my sights (even if it was way off in the distance), I was definitely going to break 2:20, and I was ecstatic! I stopped/slowed down for one more cup of water and to spit a few times (am I the only gross lady out there who salivates profusely while running?) and made the final turn to the finish shoot. I could still her in the distance and estimated to be about 3ish minute behind, so I was super excited about a 2:19 finish!

I ran the last part as strong as I possibly could, crossed the finish line without looking at the clock and stopped my Garmin. I looked at my watch, looked up, looked at it again, and then looked at the 2:15 pacer who was still nearby high-fiving the ladies who ran with her. I went up to her, asked in what time they finished, and then gave her a big hug, thanking her for pacing me in the final couple miles, even though she had no idea.  Goal A) finish. Goal B) Finish without being more injured than I started. Goal C) Finish in under 2:45.

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Unofficial time.

I think this might actually be the closest my Garmin has ever been to being accurate haha.  I couldn’t believe the time (and still can’t, a week later).  Not only did I finally PR my 1/2 marathon time, AND finally break 2:20, if my watch was close to being accurate, I somehow broke 2:15. I BROKE 2:15! Somewhere in the universe, cosmos are aligning.

I walked around the finish shoot, got my medal and found my mentee who had finished just a few seconds behind me, which was awesome!  I was looking around for my family, but didn’t see them, so I kept walking to get my water and snacks before grabbing my gear check bag.

They had champagne and cookies at the finish (I skipped this. I have a sensitive stomach, so it really can’t handle alcohol after a half marathon), a massage area (skipped also because the wait was 1.5 hours), and went to the merchandise area. At the expo I had told myself I wouldn’t buy anything because I didn’t even know if I would finish. I was so ready to buy that tank top I saw at the expo now that I had not only finished but freaking PR’d! Totally worth the $40+ I spent on it.

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There was also a Freshen Up tent that was pretty awesome. They had 2 tables set up with body spray, aerosol deodorant, hairspray, mirrors, hair ties, face wipes and body wipes. When you put on a ladies only race, they sure how to make up happy! I’ve never seen anything like it at a race before, so it was pretty awesome.

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Look how awesome this medal is!! It was bigger than my hand (I have baby hands haha) and comes with a removable hanging charm, so that you can make a finisher’s necklace as well, to show off your accomplishments on a daily basis!

Turns out my family didn’t come to the finish, so I had to walk to my car (no finish area pictures sadly) and drive to where they had parked, so we could head to breakfast.  I annihilated a plate and some hot tea at Broken Yolk Cafe and we went back to the hotel to get ready for the rest of the day.

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Post race posing with the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the background!

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Official finish time and pace chart.

Overall, this race was bomb.com. I would do another Women’s Running Series race in a heartbeat.  I’ve done so many HUGE Rock n Roll events in the past and it was so amazingly refreshing to run a smaller race that still had everything you could possibly need and more.  Their customer service went above and beyond, were so quick to respond to any questions you had, put on an amazing race and really spoiled us all!  It was the perfect race, a fabulous course (running in San Diego and especially in that area NEVER gets old), perfect weather, great course support and obviously the best one I’ve ever run. My previous best 1/2 (judging solely on how I felt), was my previous PR time in April 2013 – another race I went to severely undertrained, and I went into it just knowing I was running it for fun, but not for a time.   Funny how those ones work out for you!

Thank you WRS for an amazing race and being part of what will be such a great memory for me – a race I thought I wouldn’t even finish and you helped me to a 7 minute, 9 second PR!!

 

I was lucky enough to win a Twitter chat with Fitfluential and the Women’s Running Series. My prize was an entry into this race. I wasn’t compensated in any other way, but honestly, this was compensation enough! DO THIS RACE!

Roadtrip: On the way to WRS 1/2 San Diego

I’ll do a race recap in a little bit, but wanted to talk about the weekend as a whole.  My aunt and cousin flew in from Texas, and my other aunt, cousin and nephew got together to drive down to San Diego. They were all originally supposed to be running the race with me, but they all bailed on me in early November! At Christmas, they decided to still come, but to make it a girls roadtrip (+baby boy).

The drive down I-5 is long. Long and boring. And smells like cow poop in some parts (if you’ve driven it more than once, you know where, and you are always ready to roll up your windows and turn on the air circulation in your car to keep the smell at bay).  The baby did extremely well on the long car ride and only screamed for about 45-50 minutes in LA/Orange county since his normal sleep was interrupted and he couldn’t go back to sleep in the carseat.  He finally pooped himself out again and fell back asleep right around San Clemente.

We stayed in Coronado, and it was an excellent choice! Beaches were right behind the hotel, there was plenty of restaurants and plenty of things to see.  I was so glad to be back in my old stomping grounds, and it felt really good to be a tour guide! I picked up a rental car (since I had a few extra errands to run that weekend) and headed straight to my favorite sports massage miracle worker, Anthony. If you live in San Diego and are looking for someone to work out the crazy stuff your body is putting you through – SEE HIM NOW.

After my massage/torture session I raced down to the Harbor to the expo, before meeting my family for food (something we all love and we all get hangry very easily).  Parking can be a bit nuts in that area, especially on beautiful days. It took me awhile to find parking, and thankfully I had change in my purse for meters!  It was sunny and warm and the tourists were out in full force. The expo was small but awesome. We got cute shirts and goodie bags, and there was loads of stuff to buy. I was good and didn’t buy a race shirt because I wasn’t sure at that point how my legs (now sore and bruised) or my poor foot were going to handle the race. I didn’t want to buy a finishers shirts and have a permanent reminder of my first DNF. I skipped the gear (sadly, since they had some cute stuff!), filled up my water bottle, popped in a Cherry Limeade Nuun tab and headed back to my car, but not before snapping a couple pictures.

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I drove back to Coronado, we walked around for a little bit and then met a friend at Miguel’s for a drink and delicious Mexican food.

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A little more walking around, visiting with friends and then went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We had planned on going to OB Noodle House after my cousin saw it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network, but when we got there, the wait was almost 2 hours. There was no way we were going to wait that long, but we needed to carbo load so we went to Pepe’s Italian restaurant in OB instead (DE-LISH!). They all wanted to support me, so they carbo-loaded, too! : ) FYI – pesto gnocchi is bomb.com

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After this, we went back to the hotel. They had messed up our reservations and didn’t put in a couch with pullout bed, so I slept on the floor for about 2 hours of sleep the night before, and then that night got about 5 hours of sleep on the floor. Not the best pre-race conditions at all, but it’s better than sleeping in your car?

The next day was race day (that’ll be saved for the next blog post), and after the race and breakfast, we went to the hotel so that I could shower (no naps happened sadly), and everyone could get ready. We went up to the rooftop terrace and snapped a few pictures with Point Loma and the Pacific Ocean in the background before heading out, since it was so beautiful.

PicMonkey Collage rooftop After that we headed to La Jolla to walk around the Prospect Place area (is it me or have most of the shops shut down?), and then walk down to the water (by this time, legs were SORE and right knee was a bit stiff so I was doing a semi penguin, semi-one-legged pirate walk).

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hahahaha you’re welcome :)

After that we wanted to try for OB Noodle House one more time and headed that way through the scenic drive through Bird Rock.  We go to OB and the line was out the door! We dropped my cousin off and then went to find parking. We fond parking pretty quickly and she called to tell us it was going to be an hour and 45 minute wait. Nope.  So we decided to get it to go, went and stood line for about 15 minutes, placed our order, but still had to wait about an hour to get our food to go. The baby was not pleased (neither were our hangry selves).   We took the feast (literally, we ordered SO much food) back to our hotel, attempted to have a drink on the rooftop terrace to toast our weekend (it was cold and all of the seats were wet), and then chowed down. So good!

The next day was pretty stinking beautiful, so we headed down to the beach to take a few pictures before we packed up the car (they were leaving that afternoon to drive home while I stayed one more day and then flew back myself).
gridBest way to end a roadtrip runcation weekend!

Gone for a Run BibFOLIO

Last month I was in contact with Gone for a Run and they gave me the awesome opportunity to review one of their products. Since I know all of their products are fabulous, I told them to surprise me.  They sent me their Peace, Love, Run BibFOLIO and I fell in love as soon as I opened the box.  Gone for a Run makes a ton of running related gifts that would be perfect for the runner in your life! They make medal hangers, BibFOLIOS, jewelry, decals for your car, apparel, running gifts by state, and can turn your bib into practically anything!  I’m 110% positive I need at least 1 of everything.

Since I started running seriously (as seriously as what I do actually is) in January 2010, all of my race bibs have just been put in the middle drawer of my nightstand, mixed in with scrapbooking stickers and decals, fabric glue and iron-on letters for race singlets. Not the most luxurious locations, and they were never displayed at all.  Since they’d get all wrinkled and gross during the race and then just shoved in a drawer afterwards, there was no chance of them looking presentable.  My race medals were similarly kept – ribbons wrapped around the medal and then put in a tiny chest that my aunt made for me for my high school graduation. Some were wrapped in tissue paper from when I moved back up to northern California. I haven’t even unwrapped those ones since July 2012.  I had been thinking about things to display my accomplishments for quite some time, but just never ordered anything.

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At least my bibs were next to my personal stash of Nuun in the REI bag 🙂 and my medal box was surrounded by my Seahawks clock, all my longsleeve running shirts and running hats :)

I thought they’d just send me a little album to put them in, like a photo album, and then I could just put it on a coffee table or something.  What they sent me was even better than I could have imagined!  The Peace, Love, Run is the perfect choice for me, and they even put my name on the front, which makes it even better!  I started putting it together immediately (super easy – you just unscrew the rings and then thread them through the holes at the top, and then screw the rings shut), and then tried to organize my bibs by date (for the most part I write the name and date of the event if it’s not on the bib itself, but there are a few plain bibs that I’m trying super hard to remember what they’re from!), and then put my very first race bib inside to display.

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Horrible lighting, but trust me, it looks even better in person!

At the top of each of the vinyl sheets, there is a space/different material that allows you to write on it, so that you can write the name of the race, your time, the date, whatever you want!  I thought that was pretty awesome, since I’ve been trying to write all that info on the back of each bib and have been clearly been slacking! It’s especially great if that race is a PR for you!

Note that if you’re buying a BibFOLIO, make sure to also add additional vinyl protector sheets. Each BibFOLIO comes with 2 sheets, so I still have a TON of bibs that need to be displayed, so I need to make an order so I can fill it up and display them all.

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How do you display your medals and bibs?

2013 in running

I’ve seen this going around on a few of my favorite blogs, so I had to jump in to recap my year in running and link up with Miss Zippy this year:

  • Best race experience? I had quite a few good races this year when I PR’d (my 1/2 and 5k times in April and my 10k in November) but the best race experience definitely goes to my first Ragnar  Relay weekend in Napa Valley in September (parts 1, 2 and 3). I had somehow talked myself into putting together 2 full teams and it was the most stressful few months of my life, especially the last few weeks, but was SO worth the amazing experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat… but stick to just one team:)
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The best Ragnar team ever: Buns of Steel

  • Best run? This one is technically a race, but when I PR’d my 1/2 marathon time in April at Rock n Roll San Francisco.  I had won a race entry and hadn’t really trained for anything that year, so I was just going to listen to my body, run it slow, not look at the Garmin too much, enjoy the scenery and take pictures (especially if it was a clear day on the GG bridge).  I did all of those things, took multiple pictures, used the bathroom, ran all those hills AND took a picture for someone else and somehow still managed to PR. I loved every second of the race and I still can’t tell you how that PR came about.
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Not even halfway through the race and this view was definitely worthy of a photo break!

  • Best new piece of gear?  I don’t think I bought ANY new gear in 2013. How is that possible!?  All of my races came with a tech shirt, the Brooks Running shorts  and shoes I bought this month haven’t been taken for a spin yet, and I’ve used the same Garmin for 3 years. I did win a few pieces of gear, including a pair of Under Armour shoes (almost positive I need a 1/2 size bigger) and an AMAZING FlipBelt that I know is going to be worn until it falls apart.
  • Best piece of running advice you received? I’m trying to think if anyone gave me any running advice this year. I try to prescribe to the same rule of thumb: run for yourself and no one else. I’m not nearly the fastest by any means, so STOP being so hard on myself.
  • Most inspirational runner? This is so hard! There are  so many amazing runners out there each and every day, each with their own story, and frankly, reading a lot of their blogs is what gets me through the day.  I have been reading Krysten’s Darwinian Fail blog for quite some time, and she’s made me laugh, made me cry, made me question my reality and just overall made me want to be a better person, both fitness-wise and and soul-wise.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? My how things can change so quickly!

NWM 1/2 Marathon – San Francisco

OK, I got the expo post out (I know, still late), and I’ve been so completely swamped at work that the posts I’ve been wanting to share with you all has taken a back seat.

It’s been a few weeks since 1/2 marathon #11 and I’m fully recovered and looking forward to my next one (we’re nuts, right?).  The expo was a crazy hot mess, but I’ve semi come to expect that from NWM unfortunately. I know it won’t be a pleasant stroll through aisles glancing at awesome products, like most big expos. I know I’m going to get pushed and my feet stepped on and elbowed (because I’m short) multiple times. I know I’ll be sweating like a pig by the end of it because it’s so hot in that tent with all those bodies. I know I’ll stand in line for a minimum of 30 minutes for pretty much anything I want to do or taste.  I’ll get so overwhelmed that I’ll say “never again,” and then they bring out Kara Goucher and Joan Benoit Samuelson and all my troubles melt away listening to them talk!

The night before, my cousin and I showered and put out our “flat runners” to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We also took care of the back of her shirt, to honor the memory of her best friend since 5th grade, Jenny, who had passed away from lung cancer less than a week before the race.

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Her thoughts were: “why do you have so much stuff when you run?!”

and the back of her shirt:

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They were best friends since 5th grade, so for the past almost 30 years, despite having completely different upbringings, and being pretty polar opposite. I’ve known Jenny Attaway since I was born and she was one of the nicest, most kind people you could ever hope to meet. When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she thought she had a flu that she just couldn’t shake, since she was constantly coughing and it just wouldn’t go away. Turns out she has Stage IV lung cancer – and had never been a smoker. It’s things like this that really give you a reality check in life.

This was her first 1/2 marathon and she wanted Jenny with her every step of the way.

I set my alarm for 4:45am, and had called to have a taxi pick us up at 5:30am, since the race started at 6:30am.  It was a fitful nights rest since the neighbor decided to what sounded like a first or second date, where he tried to woo her with loud music until about 2am. I hope she wasn’t impressed; I sure wasn’t.  I woke up and it was still dark out, so I figured we had a little time still. I looked at my cell phone and it was 5:37am!! My alarm never went off (iPhone FAIL). Less than 30 seconds later my phone started ringing – it was the cab driver wondering where the heck we were. We had to apologetically call him off, rush around to get dressed and try to call another once we were close to being ready to go. We were really lucky we had put everything out before. This is NOT the ideal way to start a race morning AT ALL.  We were lucky enough to reach another cab company on the 3rd try, and were out the door around 6am, trying to shove peanut butter covered English muffins down our throats.  We didn’t finish it all since it was now so close to the race starting, and we should have eaten about an hour hourly.  So goes life though, right?

We got to the start line and tried to bob and weave through the millions of people to get to a bus that would take our gear check bags. We got denied by 3 busses, so had to try to keep pushing forward.  Either the busses were “full” or they had run out of stickers to give to us to put on our bib that showed the bus name and #, and window #. NWM FAIL.  We finally found one that had stickers left and gave them our bags and headed into the corral, which was jam-packed.  It was packed that you couldn’t stretch or anything. You barely had room to back up to take horrible pre-race, “what the heck am I doing out here at 6:15am” corral photos.

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We look rough. Both of us were in agreement as soon as we saw the picture.

We stood in our corral for what seemed like forever before the gun went off, and even longer for us to snail pace crawl to the Start line since we were one of the last corrals to start. The wind had picked up a bit and it was COLD.

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This doesn’t even begin to show how many people there were!

We finally made it to the start and waited for them to let our corral go and we were off! (but not before a few photo opps, clearly).

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Gotta love that adrenaline rush you get when you finally see the Start line and the amazing feeling you get when you cross underneath it!

See that little sign above the Start line? It was talking about how it’s the 10th anniversary. I thought they were going to do it big for the big 1-0 but it felt no different than when I ran it in 2011.  Small disappointment/1st world problems.

The first few miles were the standard bobbing and weaving in and out of runners and walkers and trying to get our bodies warmed up and into a good rhythm. She wanted to run with me as long as possible so every 15-20 seconds I’d look around to make sure she was still with me. At about mile 2, my knees started to feel stiff which is NOT good. I’ve felt that before and it usually meant that I wouldn’t be able to walk after the race. It also meant it would be really painful if I needed to stop (to walk an aid station since their so crowded) and restart, so I had to just keep chugging along.

It was originally forecasted to be a beautiful day but it was grey and cool the entire time and foggy, so you never got good views of anything unfortunately. At least the signs were hilarious though:

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When we made the turn towards Lincoln, we knew the big hill was coming. I told her to slow down on the hill to save her energy. We went up slowly and she did great but when the hills continued, she needed to walk some to catch her breath, so I walked with her. We did that couple times and then at mile 7 I wished her luck, told her she had it in the bag and that I’d see her at the finish, and picked up my pace a little bit. Since my knees had already been in pain since mile 2, and my left hip had been tightening with ever mile I ran, I ended up having to stop about 4 times between mile 7 and 12 to pull over and attempt to stretch it out. I hate that because it adds so much time but I know it’s needed to avoid more pain later. Those 4 times were probably about 2 minutes and then just before mile 12 I had to go to the bathroom and I knew I couldn’t make it to the finish line/knew it would be nuts trying to get to a port-a-potty at the finish line, so I had to stop at mile 12. That’s even worse because you’re SO close to the end and have to waste more time! Totally not down with peeing on myself though, so a stop that worth it again lol

That final turn couldn’t have come soon enough. My knees were so painful that I knew I was running unevenly, which was causing my left hip even more distress. Then as soon as you cross the finish line, you abruptly stop and have to wait in line to collect your necklace, a bottle of water, even more time if you want to take a picture (not great when your body was just in motion for 2.5 hours), grab your shirt and grab your food bag. Total time to do all that = roughly 40 minutes. Seriously!?

20131110-191921.jpg Then try to brave the crowds to even see what’s in the tents to the left? FORGET IT! You could barely move forward to get to the walkway. We tried but after about 15 minutes said forget it and went to the busses to pick up our gear check bags. By that time it was freezing outside and a sweater was waiting for me! Try found hers pretty fast but couldn’t find mine. After 4 people asking me my bib # (and 15 minutes), I asked if I could come onboard to help them look since I was so cold (and just over it at that point). They said no and asked me my bib number again. I kept yelling into the window what was in it since the bags were clear, hoping that would help. They finally found it after another 5 minutes and we were on our way (both hobbling with stiff knees) to the shuttle bus line to take us back to Union Square. Total time waiting in line for the bus: almost an hour. Better than the 2 hours we had to wait for them in 2011!

We went back to the apartment, showered and packed up and then walked down to Fillmore to have a much needed delicious lunch. We were starving at that point (and I was starting to get a headache). Both of us were hobbling – literally every time I bent my knees, it felt like someone was shoving an ice pick into the back of them, and a couple time one of my knees just have out as I put weight on it. Awesome. Lunch was fabulous and then back to the apartment to grab our stuff and head to a hotel we booked last minute in Union Square so we could enjoy the rest if Sunday and just go straight to work on Monday.

By the time we made it to Niketown on Sunday, there was hardly anything left and the tank top I wanted was only available in a 2XL. Super bummed about that one.

When we finally got back to the hotel, I looked at the necklace for this year.

20131110-192519.jpg It’s going to go into the bag that holds my necklace from NWM 2011 that I’ve only taken out to take a picture and have never worn.

All in all, it was a zoo (as experienced before and expected again) and always seemed not very well planned out logistically, but I get why so many people want to run it – it’s all about the Tiffany necklace. I’ve now done it twice. All I wanted for this years race was for her to have a good first 1/2 marathon and for me to beat my 2011 time (revenge!). Both of those happened, so I’m a happy camper. Will I do this race again? Probably not anytime soon. There are plenty of other races in and around the Bay Area that offer better logistics, aren’t as crowded and are way cheaper, so I’ll probably stick with them. But it did feel good to see this posted:

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