travel

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!)

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

India trip part 1: Mumbai

So I have some good news! I mentioned in my Myanmar and Thailand posts that all of my photos were lost and I was super bummed. I gave my uncle the phone and he somehow worked some super stealth magic that both T-Mobile and the phone repair place are unaware of AND HE SAVED MY PHOTOS!! I’ll do another post after this one with the recovered ones from Myanmar and Thailand. WOOT WOOT!

India was my longest stay on this work trip and was BUSY. We were pretty much going non-stop, most days from about 6am to 9pm (and a couple later days as well). Some weekend days were used as travel days between cities, and some days we flew in the morning and traveled straight to a school from the airport. In case you’re wondering, airports in India are all kinds of ridiculous, and when traveling within the country, the weight allowances aren’t that high, aka most of the people on our trip had to pay extra every.single.flight. I was lucky and only had to pay twice because I had to carry brochures during a couple of our flights when boxes didn’t arrive to the hotel on time, and got reimbursed for the baggage fees as well.

We started in Mumbai and while I had been in SE Asia for about about a week or so, India was a completely different experience. I knew the economic differences were great, but was blown away when I saw it in person. In all the cities we visited (and I know there are far more towns/cities that are worse off), I noticed it the most in Mumbai.  The slums were very apparent and everywhere. There were so many people begging and living on the street, most heartbreaking off all were the kids.  They might not have spoken any English, but the universal hand gesture for hungry /food breaks your heart.  You would see these huge, expensive high rise buildings, then a row of trees and shrubbery.  Just on the other side of the shrubbery, a mere block away, were the slums.

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 20141006_144335While driving around, we saw these huge bookshelves lining the streets – turns out it’s basically an open-air library of used books. You can borrow them for super cheap and there were literally THOUSANDS of them – this book-lover just wanted to run over and smell all the pages (I’m a weirdo, I know). Buuutttt they wouldn’t let me off the bus to publicly embarrass myself (I’m almost positive they were more worried about me embarrassing them!)

 

That night a few of us that hadn’t been to Mumbai before wanted to go see the Gateway of India, so we took an hour-long taxi ride south to find it.  It’s located next to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was attacked by gunmen in 2008, so we headed there to see it as well as pay our respects.

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Example #19845 of how I can’t take selfies if I’m also trying to get something in the background as well.

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Much better standard Sheena pose.

About 10 seconds after taking the below picture, everyone stopped looking at the Gateway and turned to look at us. After being circled by at least 40 Indian men, we decided it was probably time to go.

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We walked a little further to where there was a street market (we love those!) and walked around, trying to see if there was anything small enough to shove into our carryons without breaking our backs.

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In case you were wondering what it looks like to sweat your face off in India in October, this is it. I like to claim that it’s just my skin glistening off the “gold” of the earrings I’m contemplating buying.

Then went to Leopold Cafe, one of the first sites attacked in the series of attacks in Mumbai in 2008 to grab a drink and some snacks, since we had been out all day, and still had an hour+ taxi ride ahead of us, to get back to the hotel by 10pm. Naturally, when you have  a bunch of people with you combined with an hour taxi ride, you shove as many people as you can into one taxi. Not sure how it happened, but the shortest and tallest person in our group ended up sitting in the back back of the taxi, aka the sideways seats. Who needs legroom anyway?

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And then you close the back door and it just gets that much more cozy. I’m grateful that we all had a drink at the Leopold Cafe to calm our nerves for that taxi ride.

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I said I would never complain about California traffic again. Then I got home and after 3 days of commuting, I complained.

Some days we were super famished and hadn’t spent any money because one of the schools provided us a box lunch.  Since we each had the food stipend provided by work, we decided to treat ourselves one night in Mumbai.  We asked the concierge at the hotel for a recommendation and he sent us over to Hakkasan – we gave him a high five upon our return. The below picture does NOT do this food justice. I ordered truffle dumplings and they seriously melted in my mouth – they were so delicious and rich and amazing. When I’m a millionaire, I’m going to eat these all the time.  Annnnnddd I just discovered there is a Hakkasan in San Francisco, so I might be in trouble haha

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… next up is Madurai, Kodaikanal and Mahabalipuram! Don’t forget to subscribe via Bloglovin’ (on the right sidebar) so you can see the most recent posts as they go live!

Myanmar travels and pagodas

Unfortunately, since my phone died upon returning to San Francisco, I lost all of my photos from my trip 🙁 A few people that I was traveling with for the work trip graciously shared some photos with me, so I have a few to share!

Myanmar was a fantastic experience. Since the country has been closed to outsiders for so long, we were all unsure what it would be like. Since we were only traveling to the capital, Yangon, and the surrounding area, we were able to see all of the construction that is now happening, as they gear themselves up to be a more modern society. While there was lots of construction, it was also genuinely nice to see a slower pace of life. Living a simple life, with less “things” to worry about was so refreshing.

We were visiting a few international schools in and around the city, and had a wonderful guide, Thida, to translate, give us a tour while we were on the bus (and trust me, everyone was staring. It’s hard to disguise a gigantic coach bus holding 28 Americans on the streets of Yangon with the bicycles, pushcarts and open-faced smaller busses).  I would like to give mad props to our bus driver – I would have been having an anxiety attack the ENTIRE time.  Since it’s still developing, the streets aren’t great, are super narrow at some points, and when we traveled to one of the schools, we had to go through a more rural neighborhood to get to a major road, and there was negative room for error on his part, trying to turn down these dirt/clay roads.  We drove by people just going about their daily lives, small metal shacks that were fix-it shops or repair shops, some that doubled as homes and some as cafes.  One of the things I thought was the coolest? There were always people out and about at all times of the day and night.  There were these pop-up “restaurants” where they’d set up a burner and cook food right there on the street, and for furniture, they had those little plastic kids table and chairs that we used to sit in and use when we were little (do you remember the ones that had the cartoon character stickers on the back?)

Overall, the city was great, the people were so incredibly nice and the food was good (though I probably still wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Burmese curry and Thai curry).  Now onto the photos!

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Shwedagon Pagoda

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Chiang Mai: Temples, Thai Massages and Street Markets

I’ve been back from SE Asia for a little over a month now and haven’t been able to write a recap of the trip. About 20 minutes after landing back in San Francisco, my loaner phone (that had all my pictures from the trip since I’m currently without a camera), died. Like, no resurrecting, won’t power on AT ALL, kind of died. I lost all of my photos from the trip. Luckily I had made a Facebook album during my first couple days in Chiang Mai, so I had those, but the rest of my 2.5 weeks I was there, gone.

I went on this trip for work, but wanted to throw in a few vacation days in the beginning, since I had never been to Asia before. I had heard good things about Chiang Mai, Thailand, so I decided to go there for a few days before meeting the group to start work, and get some rest and relaxation in.

I stayed in a little hotel off of one of the main roads, and for as cheap as it was, had everything I needed.  The Nimman Mai? Design Hotel was in a perfect location for restaurants and shopping, and was extremely walkable.  The staff was very nice and helpful, which proved very helpful when I needed to get directions (they wrote it down in Thai for me, to show the Songthaew driver).  It was extremely reasonably priced (like less than a Motel 6 in the US), had a super comfortable bed, free bottled water (important!), cheap laundry services and a great complimentary continental breakfast every morning).

I was able to explore the city, the old city (walled city), go up the mountain to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, and hang out with some elephants.  Here are some of my adventures!

The first full day I took a songthaew up the mountain to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It was amazing. I knew there were temples everywhere in Chiang Mai (and in SE Asia in general), but this one was phenomenal!

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Bucket list of travels

Anyone else keep a list of amazing far-off places (or not so far-off) that you’d love to visit? I would randomly write places on the pages of my journals, but then new journals would be started, we moved and journals were lost and all of my partial lists have been lost! I had some pretty awesome places on there, if I remember them correctly!

Every time a friend travels to a new country (or national park), I start stalking their Facebook and Instagram accounts so that I can live vicariously through them. I have a friend that we exchange postcards with each other when traveling. He did this awesome backpacking trip and sent me a postcard from every single country. I did the same when I was in Europe in 2012 and it’s just an awesome thing to do! I love snail mail and love postcards from different places even more.

A few of mine include:

– Maldives
-Iceland
– Kayaking in Croatia
– Nepal
-Philippines
-Ghana
-Malaysia
-Patagonia
-Turkey
-Morocco
-Scotland

 

What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

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!!

PicMonkey Collage course

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).

PicMonkey Collage coast

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!

España 2013, Madrid y Sitges

We survived. If I only had one sentence to explain the week we spent in Spain for work, it would be “we survived,” plain and simple.

I had no idea what I was in for, since I wasn’t with the company last year, and had yet to experience what Kickoff was like, but I had heard stories from seasoned employees. Last year it was in Dubai, and the year before in Shanghai (both locations where we a campus).  This year Sitges, Spain was chosen as the location, and I was really excited since I had never been to Spain before, even when I spent a year abroad in Europe during my undergrad.  Most of the stories I heard about were about lack of sleep. Grrreeeaaaatttttt.  I packed a suitcase (not knowing what the heck I was supposed to be wearing or if we’d have free time, nada) and headed to the airport with a co-worker.

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Beautiful sunrise on our second leg of the journey from New Jersey to Madrid.

We spent a day in Madrid before work started, to see the city (briefly, obviously), and to visit a couple friends that live there that I haven’t seen in over a year, since moving from San Diego.  It was really great to spend the day with them, doing things that they enjoy doing, and seeing some of their favorite sights. Tons of tapas were eaten, and we even got to meet their dog, Peka!

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The view from our balcony in Madrid!

We decided to do airb&b in Madrid since it was only one night.  Finding one open within our budget wasn’t super easy. I found one we liked in an area we wanted, but it wasn’t available. I applied for another one, and that wasn’t available either.  3 places later we finally found one, and it was worth the wait! It was in a great area, the flat itself was only for airb&b, so we basically had it to ourselves and was typical European-style apartment, which we both love.  If you’re planning to travel anytime soon, I highly recommend airb&b!

We walked around the city and started to make our way to Parque del Buen Retiro, a beautiful park (full of rollerbladers – awesome!) and beautiful architecture (see below). It was already almost sunset when we arrived (we got lost trying to find them, and with no cell/GPS/text options, it took us awhile to find them), so we watched the sun go down as we entered the park.

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No big deal, don’t you have buildings like this on your street corners?!

We walked around the park for awhile,  enjoying the architecture, the layout of the park, and all of the people – people just don’t go to parks after dark in the US anymore, but there were SO many people walking, running, biking, rollerblading, etc., and they were setting up for a owner+doggy race that weekend, so there were plenty of other dogs for Peka to sniff and romp around with.

Our day in Madrid was short and sweet, but we wouldn’t have spent it any other way. The next morning we hopped on a short flight to Barcelona, and then took a taxi to our hotel in Sitges, the host of our annual work conference that year.  When I talk about surviving, this is what I am talking about! From Monday at 6pm to Friday morning at 330am (yes, AM), everything was scheduled and planned.  Meetings and breakout sessions every day from 9-530pm, then a brief period to change for dinner, then dinner (we were about 200 people) and some sort of event that evening.

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But this was the view from our balcony, so can I really complain?!

Monday night was our team dinner (MBA), the second night was a gala dinner at a small palace near our hotel, where they had arranged for flamenco dancers, and then dancing the night away. Busses didn’t come pick us up until after midnight (and went until 2am)  The third night was nationalities dinner and event, where we were supposed to dress as something “stereotypical” from our country. USA had a bunch of people, so we had football jerseys made for us 🙂  I got back from that event at around 12:30am and since it was still a workweek technically, I hopped on my laptop and worked on applications and emails until 4:15am. Wake-up time: 7:15am. AY YAY YAY.

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Our last names were printed on the back… Also, she’s half French, aka the beret and wine :)

That was pretty much how every night went, so we were functioning on about 3 hours of sleep per night.  The last day was a “half-day” and then we went to lunch, broke out into predetermined teams and met for about half an hour before we had to board the busses.  We were going to be driven into Spain, where each group had 3 hours to create a photo story based on certain criteria given to us, and we would present these stories at dinner that night.  Our team had a BLAST putting ours together, and even though we didn’t win, we had fun!

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The first photo we took for our story was at a beach near our hotel. I can’t get a closer shot because it was a clothing-optional beach (aka a normal European beach) and there was LOTS of nakedness going on!

We then went to dinner (dinner there = almost 9pm. WHAT THE.) , followed by the 10 team presentations and dancing until 3am. Yes, you read that right, 3am. We didn’t get back to the hotel until 4am, and almost missed the only bus to Barcelona the next morning by about 3 seconds.

 

… next up is our 2 free (free at last!) days in Barcelona!

 

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DON’T FORGET! I’m an Inaugural Hot Chocolate 15/5k in San Francisco blogger! If you use the code ‘SHEENAMUG’ when you register for the race (ANY LOCATION!), you’ll get an awesome travel mug!

Viva Espana!

I’ve been somewhat MIA (and by somewhat, I mean totally). Apologies folks! I’ve been super busy with work and I just moved last week and my commute is now 2 hours each way. Yes, you read that right. 2 hours EACH WAY. So needless to say, when I finally make it home, I have time to eat (sometimes), shower and get myself ready for the next day at work.

I put up the first part of my Ragnar recap up, and wanted to have all 3 parts up this week, but it just didn’t happen. I tried writing part 2 and WP decided it didn’t like me and deleted my draft (thanks).  And now I’m getting ready to leave for a work conference in Spain tomorrow morning, will be back on the 13th, and then go to Canada the 15th-17th. I’ll try to get some drafts in there somehow, so I can periodically publish them, but hang tight folks! When I finally get a free moment, I’ll have tons (hopefully) to update you all on 🙂