Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It feels like Christmas morning!

This morning around 8 a.m.* the doorbell rang and a package was dropped off,  Inside the package were these:
Adrenaline gts10
OMG… look at how PRETTY they are!
adrenaline gts10 close up
I have been running in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS series since I started running.  My first pair was the GTS7 and I have run in all the models up until this one, GTS10.  I enjoy my shoes and tried switching once and switched back within a month.  But now…my favorite shoes are PRETTY!  Seriously…opening the box made my day.

I’ve been putting off buying new shoes.  Mine only have just over 300 miles, but I have found that I need to switch them between 250-300 miles.  Miles or no miles, I bought my latest pair of shoes in January.  You should really replace your shoes every six months.**  If you have been reading here a while, you know that our family is in “transition” and looking for work and money is very tight.  I’m trying to stretch the budget as far as I can.  If I can run in a pair of shoes an extra month, I will.  Unfortunately, I have been dealing with IT band issues and yesterday my shins started hurting.  These are tell-tale signs that my equipment is failing (especially the shins).  No amount of budget stretching will make up for sidelining injuries.  My husband and I talked about it and came to the conclusion that my shoe budget is in the same category as coffee***—not an absolute necessity, but it is tough to live without.

I searched the internet for my trusty GTS9’s, knowing that they would be cheaper since they are discontinued.  Alas, none of the discounted websites had my size.  Where I could find my size, they were $85.  I soon found that I could get the new GTS10’s for that price.  I remembered that my Active Advantage membership offered a 20% discount to Running Warehouse.

I just have to take a moment to give a shout out to Running Warehouse.  I am a very satisfied customer!  I have used them in the past with very good luck.  They always seem to have what I need at a decent price.  With my 20% discount, my $100 shoes were $80.  Tax was $7 (damn California sales tax).  Shipping was free.  I ordered them yesterday morning around 7:30.  Just over twenty-four hours later, they were on my doorstep!!!  Not only that, but they included a label for return shipping if that is necessary.  Free shipping and free returns??  You can’t beat that!

I can’t post a discount code because they use a direct link, but I do know that Gibtown Runner has a link to a 15% discount****.  I am not getting anything for the endorsement of Running Warehouse, but I thought I would pass along my thoughts on this website.  I had used it in the past with good luck, but was delighted this morning with the quick service.

I am hoping that my new pretty shoes do the trick with the nagging issues I have been having the last week or two.  I am running two more races  this weekend (yes, I know… I seem to be addicted, don’t I?  More on that later) and hope that these shoes treat me as well as my last ones did (nothing like a few PR’s and a major marathon milestone to make you love a pair of shoes).

Happy Running…

*way too early after seeing the midnight showing of Eclipse.
**Come to think of it, I should really replace my trail shoes as well!
***beer falls into this category for my hubby, as well.  He enjoys his beer and we make room in our budget for it.  His beer budget is higher than my shoe budget on an annual basis.  LOL  ;-)
****maybe I’ll try to get a link like that on my blog!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Race Sandwich—Villa Park 5K Race Report

Yup… I had a race sandwich Saturday.  An almost-four-mile warm up and an almost-four-mile cool down with a fun little 5K in the middle.

In April I met John and Julie at the Crystal Cove Trail race, where I was a volunteer.  They talked to me about the 5K John was organizing and John e-mailed me the details of the race that benefits the Villa Park library.  Villa Park is just over the hill from me, so I thought it would be a great race to do.  I mapped it and discovered that the race start was only four miles from my house.  I needed to get a decent run in, so what is the point of driving?

I woke up bright and early and put on my Jamba Juice gear.  I hadn’t registered for the race and wanted to get there about 6:45 (registration opened at 6:30 and the race started at 7:45).  The four mile run there was not going to be a quick one.  There is a very big hill between here and Villa Park.  Large trucks aren’t even allowed on the road there due to the steep grade.  I got out of the house a little later than I wanted.  I took a bit of a short cut in the interest of time, which took off about .15 miles.
It actually took less than 40 minutes to get there.  My leg, which had been bothering me during the week, felt fine.  I took it easy going up the steep hill and then got into a good rhythm on the flatter section approaching Villa Park High School where the race was starting.
Villa park 5K pre race me

The race was smallish—500 runners.  It was well organized and the volunteers were some of the best I have encountered.  The race director, John, is a local runner.  It was obvious that this was a race planned by runners.  First, they gave tech shirts instead of cotton t-shirts.  You don’t usually see tech shirts at a local race for $25.  The race was chip timed, which is always nice.  Third, they promised finishers’ medals to the first 200 runners.*  Lastly, they awarded the first five in each age group special medals.

This was my first event representing Team Jamba.  To be quite honest, I was a little nervous about it and not really sure what I was going to do.  Luckily, everyone loves Jamba Juice, so it is an easy sell.  As I was registering and chatting with a couple volunteers, one of them asked about my Jamba Juice apparel.  I started chatting about Jamba Juice and gave them all a coupon.  I gave most of the registration volunteers coupons and they were all really appreciative.  There is a Jamba Juice pretty close to Villa Park, so I bet some of them were heading there after the race.

They gathered everybody at the start.  John made a few announcements, but unfortunately, the PA system was not working well.  After a bit, they just abandoned the sound system and without any warning, the starting horn went off.

I started pretty fast.  I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I was running in the low 7’s.  I think that someday, this might be my 5K pace, but for now, with no speed training, that pace is a bit fast for me (especially when I had to run home later, over the hill).  The course headed up an ever-so-gradual hill and my pace evened out to just under 8 minutes for the first mile.  I kept it pretty steady for the second mile (8:00) and then pushed it a bit in the last mile (7:29).  I finished in 24:19, which is a PR of almost a minute!! 
Villa park 5K post race
After the race
I have decided, however, that I am not particularly fond of 5K’s.  I think to do really well, you need to be at the puke threshold for the entire race.  I felt like I was pushing, but felt like I should have pushed harder.  I like the concept of pacing myself and you really don’t do that in a 5K.  In a half marathon, you can stop and tie your shoe and it doesn’t ruin your entire race.  There is more room for error and, therefore, is less stressful.  I did enjoy this race, however.  I was in a good place mentally for this race.  I didn’t put too much pressure on myself and just wanted to run strong.

Because of the chip timing, the results were posted minutes after I finished.  I was thrilled to discover that I was 5th in my age group!  Ironically, if I was four years younger, I would have been second by only two seconds!!!  If I were ten years younger, I would have placed third.  It looks like the women are getting faster as they get older—I’m in a tough age group!
Villa park 5K post race medal2
A happy smile sporting my 5th place “bling”
After collecting my medal (there was no ceremony, just volunteers checking a list and handing out medals), I put on my race shirt over the one I was wearing and stashed any good stuff from the goodie bag, so I didn’t have to carry more than my water bottle.  My run home was slower than the run there.  My knee/ITB was bothering me a bit (where I didn’t feel it at all during the race).  I took it nice and easy on the way home.
I’m getting to the point in my training that I should be doing closer to 15-16 miles.  While I am not getting quite the amount of mileage in on my long runs, I am hoping that I am making up for it with some intensity.   Will I be ready for a 50K in 7 weeks?  We’ll see.  I am hoping to enjoy myself along the way.

Happy Running…
*while they advertised the finishers’ medals, there was some sort of mix up and the medals never arrived.  I overheard that the medals would be at the Villa Park city hall.  Unfortunately, they never made an announcement (the PA system had issues and cut out during the pre-race festivities, including the National Anthem) so there were some disappointed runners.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Muddy Race Report—Finally!

This week has been the first week of summer vacation and we have been super busy.  What ever happened to the lazy days of summer??  I wasn’t able to pick up my pictures from Coscto until last night, and this report wouldn’t be the same without them*.

So, without further ado, the Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA Mud Run race report:

We met at 5:30 to drive down to Camp Pendleton, which is about an hour or so south of here in northern San Diego County.  We were meeting Jen there, who was driving up from San Diego. The race didn’t start until 9, but everything we heard said to get there early.  Traffic gets bad and we knew we had to switch up a couple of registrations, so we didn’t want to take chances.  We were excited.  Kelly was visibly distracted and didn’t seem that “into it.”  She had a big family event later that day and she still had a lot of things to get done.  Luckily, she couldn’t have brought her phone, or else she might have been texting and calling throughout the race!  :-)  She quickly got her mind off her busy afternoon and onto the fun at hand.
camp pendleton mud run team OC Muddy Runners
Here is our team, the OC Muddy Runners (Kelly, Jen, Me, Amy and Heidi)
The pre-race area was set up well.  We had to substitute two of our team members and pick up our bibs.  There were Marines posted in front of the tents to make sure that everyone was going where they were supposed to go.  Only the team captain and the substitutes could get into the registration area.  It kept the chaos to a minimum.

There were plenty of porta potties.  In fact, there were more potties than many larger races I have been to.  There was never a line, even as the start approached.
camp pendleton mud run porta potties
 I'm not sure who this guy is...he doesn't look like a runner, but you never know at this event.  Look at all those porta potties though!

The bag check was quick and painless.  They organized it by the last four digits of our social security numbers.  The bag area was secure and manned by Marines.  It was easy drop off and easy pick up.
One of my only complaints about the race was the lack of water at the start.  You could buy a water from one of the vendors, but we looked for a while for any sort of water as we waited for the start of the race.  As we got closer to the race, we finally saw them setting up some cups and water.
We made our way to the start area.  The individuals started first.  They let them in to the starting corral first.  You could feel the excitement.  The MC really got the crowd going.  Finally, after what seemed like forever, the individual competitors started and the teams were able to move into the starting corral.
camp pendleton mud run start1
camp pendleton mud run start

We were getting excited, and even a little nervous.  I had done a mud run before, but never the “World Famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run.”  It is the original mud run and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The teams all moved into the starting corral.  Man, were there a lot of teams!  We quickly realized that we should have worn matching outfits or some sort of costume.  We have big plans for next year! 
camp pendleton mud run group shot start

Teams had to wait about 20 minutes after the individuals started. Before we knew it, we were off!
We started out running easily.  A couple of our team members haven’t run much lately, so we started out nice and slow.  It was so relaxing for me!  I was jogging with my friends.  I didn’t have a watch or a Garmin or water or an iPod.  It was really freeing.  I was grinning ear to ear.

Soon we approached some fire hoses (operated by fire fighters on a truck).  I was told if you try to avoid the hoses, they would aim at you.  The fun had officially started!
camp pendleton mud run run through hoses
After a while, we went into a single track section.  There were a ton of people around.  We went through the first creek crossing and really got the feeling of sloshy shoes.  Fun times!
camp pendleton mud run creek crossing
While our official name was OC Muddy Runners, we soon decided that we had another, more fitting name.  TEAM TMI**. My good friend Jen and my good friend Kelly were meeting for the first time.  They were getting to know each other and started talking about kids.  Then the conversation turned to kids’ births.  We were all running together and the conversation needed to be heard by all five of us.  That means that the other runners heard it too.  A few guys ran by and were visibly shocked to hear phrases like “crowning” and “placenta” on the trail.  It was really funny.  I told them that we were merely motivation to run faster to get away from us.  We told a group of young childless women that we were their birth control.  Birth stories weren’t our only topic of conversation… we also talked about pee and other bodily functions.  Like I said Team TMI!

We ran up and down some fire roads.  It was getting warm and it was definitely dusty.  I was joking that it should be called the Dust Run instead of the Mud Run.  Where was the mud??  We ran FOUR MILES before we saw any serious mud***.  Don’t get me wrong, you know I love a good trail race, but my team wasn’t digging the big hills of running.  Luckily, it was a beautiful day and the scenery was really nice.
camp pendleton mud run top camp pendleton mud run view
camp pendleton mud run trail pic
At one point, we were running up a hill and some Marines were there providing some water to cool us off.  I think they were having as much fun squirting us as we were being squirted.  This soldier stopped squirting when he saw my camera so I could take a picture.
camp pendleton mud run marine squirt gun
After coming out of the hills, we finally reached the MUD!  It was gloriously messy!  Kelly, in the spirit of TMI, yelled that it smelled horrible and smelled like we were running through a poo pit.  Nice.  I told her to shut her mouth—in more ways than one.  :-)  She did have a point, however.  That first mud pit was super smelly!
camp pendleton mud run mud pit2 camp pendleton mud run mud pit
camp pendleton mud run mud pit group pic
After the first major mud pit, we came around the corner and saw the lake/river.  I knew that there was a major river/lake crossing during the race.  I think I underestimated the depth and length of this crossing.  Since there was no zoom on my camera, it is difficult to show the extent of this crossing.  If you look carefully at the picture, you will notice a small line crossing the lake.  That is the heads of the Mud Run participants. 
camp pendleton mud run river crossing 2
Here is an attempt to zoom in on the line of runners/swimmers:
camp pendleton mud run river crossing  zoom

I was under the impression that the crossing was chest high.  I think it was chest high on a 6’5 tall man.  There were parts were I could not touch the bottom and still have my head above water.  Swimming was easier, but it definitely wasn’t easy with running shoes on!  At one point I grabbed the guide rope and pulled myself along.  One girl really struggled, I’m not sure she could swim at all.  A big guy grabbed her and basically carried her across.  It was neat to see.  My friend Jen is a true swimmer, so she was completely in her element and loved every minute of it.
camp pendleton mud run river crossing

We then ran a bit more and headed into some more mud pits.  Out of the five of us on our team, four of us are married.  The one single lady was Amy, who happens to be twenty-two and adorable.  She said early in the day that she was excited to see cute Marines.  We all decided to make the sacrifice and keep our eyes peeled for cute Marines.  *wink*  Going into one of the last big mud pits, there were cute Marines in the pit to help runners get over the wall.  I had no problem getting over the previous walls, but who am I to refuse help from a cute Marine?
camp pendleton mud run helpful marine
We then hit more mud and some tunnels.  I followed advice from some other runners and did a duck walk through the tunnel to save my knees.  Jen and Heidi are too tall for that, so they scooted on their butts backwards through, which was easier than crawling.
camp pendleton mud run tunnels
you can tell things were pretty muddy by this point.  This is actually a picture of Jen coming out of the tunnel.

The last obstacle was “slippery hill.”  Some of the best advice I received was from LB, the original Muddy Runner, who told me to go straight up the middle.  I had no idea what he was talking about until I got there.  There was a little river of water going down the middle.  LB was right: going right up through the water was way easier than slipping and sliding along the sides.  We passed dozens of people on this hill.
camp pendleton mud run slippery hill
We all finished arm in arm with big muddy smiles on our faces.  Kelly and Heidi were a bit muddier than the rest of us because they stopped to have a mud fight.  Heidi and Kelly are sisters and Heidi, the typical younger sibling, ambushed Kelly with some mud in the face.
camp pendleton mud run finish2
We got retrieved our bags and went to the showers.  The lines were insanely long.  Not only were they long, but they weren’t moving at all.  Kelly, Heidi and Amy decided that they would just drive home muddy.  They had brought sheets and towels to sit on in the car and Kelly was anxious to get home and finish preparations for her event later that day.  While they went in search for food, Jen and I waited in the line.  We determined that it would take an hour to wait and since I rode with the others, I was riding home dirty as well.  I noticed people doing a complete wash down, not just a rinse off.  They had shampoo, conditioner…. the works!  GUYS were taking ten minutes to get completely clean.  REALLY?  Dude… did you bring your loofa?  Do you want a pedicure?  Seriously, who goes to a mud run and leaves completely clean?  Jen and I decided to use our towels to wipe off as much as we could and just put our clean, dry clothes on over our dirty bodies.  It made all the difference in the world.  It was kind of fun to have my kids see how dirty I was when I got home.  They got a kick out of the mud in my hair and ears!

I was disappointed that there was nowhere to donate my muddy shoes.  I wore some of my old running shoes that are perfectly good for someone in need of shoes.  The first Mud Run I did in San Diego had an area to donate shoes.  They would clean them off and give them to people in need.  There were hundreds of pairs of shoes lined up for donation.  I asked several people on Saturday where could I donate my shoes.  They all told me to throw them in the trash.  I decided to bring them home to put in my donation stuff here.  What a pain!  I think that the Marines are missing an opportunity to give shoes to people who need them.  Once they are hosed off, most of them are perfectly good as every day shoes.

It was a fun day.  It was a great run with challenging obstacles.  We have already planned to do it again next year!  We were registered this year as an “open” team, because we originally had Kelly’s husband on our team.  We placed somewhere in the 100’s.  If we had been a women’s team, we would have placed around 11th.  With a little training, we could easily break the top ten.  Even though time was never a goal… the competitor in me always looks at that stuff, after the fact.

If you have never done a mud run, DO IT.  It is a lot of fun.

Happy Running….

*I used a disposable waterproof camera.  It is obvious on some of the pictures that the lens is covered in mud.  It has been a long time since I have used a camera when I can’t check the pictures that day and actually had to take them in to be developed.
**Team TMI could also be T-eaM-I, Too Mud-ch Information.
***According to the course map, we were supposed to hit a tire obstacle, a steeple jump (with a mud pit) and hay bales early in the race.  We never saw any of those.  I’m not sure if they were there for the races earlier in the month.  LB?

Friday, June 18, 2010

I’m a sponsored athlete!!!

Well… I’m not getting paid.  And I’m still paying my race fees.  But I am now officially part of Team Jamba.  This is a group of 100 athletes recruited by to be ‘brand ambassadors’ for Jamba Juice.

As part of the team, I have been asked to promote Jamba Juice, specifically the new Super Fruit Smoothies.  Luckily, that is easy to do because I LOVE Jamba Juice.  In fact, I went today to try the new Yumberry Smoothie.  I love tart smoothies and this one definitely fits the bill.  They have recently introduced food options that I am looking forward to trying this summer.  I’ll be passing out Jamba Juice coupons at various events.

I was given a shirt, some running shorts and a visor to wear at events this summer.  So a lot of my race reports will include pictures of me wearing this:
jamba shirt shorts and visorjamba shirt
The front says, “I have superpowers” and the back says “power your Super Active Summer with Superfruit.” 
I am pretty excited. I’m not an elite athlete, nor will I ever be.  Being a part of a team of athletes is something that doesn’t come along every day.  I will do my best to represent well.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to wear my new gear at my next event.  Unless, of course, I want to trash it.  Tomorrow I am running the ASYMCA Camp Pendleton Mud Run.  It is the charity event for the World’s Famous Mud Run.  I am going to get wet and muddy and generally beat up.  I am looking forward to every minute of it.  I am bringing a waterproof disposable camera, so I hope to have some great pictures to share. 

Happy running…

Monday, June 14, 2010

Peter’s Canyon Trail Run Series #1 Race Report

Thursday night I ran the first of three Peter’s Canyon Trail Runs.  I expected a very small event—similar to the OC Chili Winter Trail Series.  This was bigger.  There were at least four vendor tents and probably twice as many runners.  I was pleasantly surprised.
Peterscanyon trail race start Peters canyon trail race self portrait
It was a low-key start, like these trail races often are.  It started at 6:15 and the temperature was just right.  I had put on a long sleeve tech shirt, but at the last minute changed into short sleeves.  I’m glad I did.  While the temperatures were comfortably in the low 60’s with a breeze, it was still very humid.
The first mile was a somewhat gradual ascent. During that first mile, I was wondering if the five miles I had run earlier in the day were making me sluggish.  I felt like I was struggling to get into a groove and to breathe.  I hadn’t run in the evening for a while and I wondered if I was so used to morning runs that I wouldn’t be able to push myself at night.

As we got into the canyon, we turned up on the ridge and headed up, up, up the hills.  It was a nice trail up to the ridge with plenty of room to pass.  I walked sooner than I would have liked, but I didn’t want to run out of steam too early.  For those of you who are familiar with this park, the route bypassed “Big Red.”  Although the other hills gave us plenty to get our heart rates up.
Peter's Canyon Trail Race elevation profile
By the time I was done with the worst of the hills, I was feeling more in a groove.  I think a lot of it was due to the fact that I love running down steep, technical hills.  I am getting more and more confident of going fast going down those hills and I tend to pass quite a few people.

The last half of the race is pretty much all downhill.  I was able to get a good stride.  I ran the last two miles right around an 8:00 pace!  Not bad for the end of ten miles for the day!*

My time for the race was 44:25.  My Garmin showed that it was actually 4.8 miles, rather than five.  I ended up 116 out of 378 runners.  The results were not broken down by division or gender, but from what I can tell I was the 27th woman and the 3rd in my age group!

I wandered around a bit and checked things out.  Again, there was water in a can, courtesy of Monster.  Strange.  As I was getting a sample of Gleukos, I struck up a conversation with another runner.  She is a mom of two and lives near Peter’s Canyon.  We both are training for a fall marathon and have similar PR’s (although she ran this race a full four minutes faster than I did…SPEEDY).  We decided that we should go running together and exchanged contact information**.  When I got home, I was as excited at finding another running buddy as I was about my performance in the race. 

This race was the first of three in a series.  The next one is in July and the third in August.  I am bummed that I will be out of town for the next one, but the August race is on my calendar.  It is a nice race with the challenge of the hills and the opportunity to run pretty fast.

Happy Running.

*five miles in the morning and five miles during the race with eleven hours in between.
**She and I ran on Saturday AND Sunday this weekend and will be again tomorrow.  I believe it was the beginning of a real friendship.  That is better than any medal!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Building Blocks

The theme for this week has been two-a-days.  And I have to admit… I’m tired.

After the half marathon, I took a couple of days off.  That race beat me up a bit more than the ones prior.  I’m not sure if it was the four 13+ mile races in 30 days, the heat or the downhills, but my legs were trashed on Sunday and Monday last week.  When I ran on Tuesday, I was still sore.

I started feeling a bit better on Wednesday.  I had a sluggish seven mile early morning run, but felt OK.  A few hours later, I took my daughter to dance class and my friend Heidi wanted to go for a run while our kids were in class.  Who am I to let down a running buddy?  We ran a little less than four miles at a nice, easy pace and I was feeling strong.

The next day, I ran five in the morning with my friends and then later on that evening went out for the Peter’s Canyon Trail Race (mini-race report to come).  It was a five mile race with some steep hills.  That was over twenty miles in two days.  I could feel my legs getting stronger.

That brings me to Saturday.  I actually did a three-a-day, but it wasn’t all running.  I woke up bright and early to meet Kelly and my new running friend, Marci for a 5:30 run.  We ran at the creek, one of our favorite runs.  It was a perfect place to take a new running partner.  We ran 8.6 miles and had a really nice time.  I had to get home pretty early to get ready for my sister-in-law, Kristi, to pick me up and drive up to Santa Monica* for the OK Magazine Body and Soul event.

We wandered around the expo, got some free samples and enjoyed free chair massages. Then we headed out to the beach for a workout.  We were taking a boot camp class from Jackie Warner of Workout.  Her class kicked my butt—literally.  I am feeling it today!  Holy squats!  Kristi and I were sweaty and sandy and very happy that we had signed up for the yoga class afterward.  We would need it!
  OK magazine body and soul
We then enjoyed Yoga from Ursula Vari.  This woman has the best energy around.  She instantly made us all feel comfortable.  Her style is very non-intimidating even to the novice student, yet she is encouraging just enough to help us push ourselves just past our limits.  It was just enough of a workout to make me feel strong while gently stretching my overworked muscles.  I probably wouldn’t be walking today if it weren’t for that yoga session.

Finally, I met Marci again this morning (I am a glutton for punishment, I think).  It was very, very humid and I was working pretty hard to keep up with my speedier running buddy.  I was very glad she called me to run.  I never would have run today without the motivation of meeting my friend.

My schedule called for sixteen miles on Saturday and fifteen today.  Unfortunately, because of prior commitments and family obligations, I didn’t have time to get in my long runs.  I have a 50K coming up in August and I need to start getting in more miles.  Even so, I was able to get in 41 miles this week.  It is all about creative scheduling.

I am trying to make the best of balancing parenthood, marriage etc. by finding blocks of time to do my runs.  They are building blocks to my strength.  I feel like doing the multiple workouts is helping me train my legs to work well while tired.  I am recovering faster (I hope) and will be able to endure the tough trail race.

I hope you all had a good weekend.  Happy running…

*I have lived in Southern California for nine years and have only seen the Santa Monica pier on television.  I felt like a tourist enjoying the sights!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fontana Days Half Marathon Race Report

Destroyed quads=check
Toenail that is going to go=check
Fourth half marathon in thirty days=check

Sit back and get comfortable.  This one ended up being a long one.

For a while it seemed like the universe was telling me not to run this race.  I procrastinated on registering for this race.  I registered for the last several races the morning of, so why rush, right?  On Wednesday, I knew that I was going to definitely run the race and was excited about it, so I decided to go online and register.  While the website advertised online registration through Thursday night, it was closed on Wednesday afternoon.  Hmmm….  I decided to e-mail the race director and ask her about it.  As an afterthought, I added my phone number to the e-mail.  Within minutes, she called me and explained that for the first time in 55 years, they were on target to sell out.  They had about 100 spots left, so she had to close online registration.  They have to limit it to 200 spots due to it being a point to point and only having so many buses.  Also, it was a narrow road at the top and really couldn’t safely handle a huge crowd.  I asked her how I could get some (my friends hadn’t registered either) of those last spots.  She explained that they had to have the registration form via mail by the next day or I could register in person in Fontana.  Fontana is about 40 miles east of here.  That wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that to get there, I would have to travel on the worst freeway around.  This freeway is a parking lot even on Saturday afternoons.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, I was already risking a horrible rush hour drive.  After a few quick phone calls I drove out into the heat of Riverside County* and registered four of us for Saturday’s race.

The second obstacle put in my way by the universe was my wardrobe.  We had planned a weekend trip to Canyon Lake with our very good friends.  It is located in Riverside County, about 40 miles south of Fontana (approximately the same distance to the race as my house).  As I was laying out my running gear the evening before, I realized that I had failed to pack my running bra!!!  I had my regular underwire every day bra and a no support sports bra that I sometimes wear under tank tops.  Neither would be appropriate to run in—let alone 13.1 miles!  My husband joked that we could use an ace bandage like male impersonators.  All joking aside, that was my plan B.  I quickly texted my friend Kelly (who was also running the race) and asked her if she possibly had a bra that might fit me (we are completely different body types, but I was hoping.  She had something that would work!

Then the air conditioner where we were staying wasn’t working.  It was really hot that night and I didn’t sleep well at all.  I woke up several times throughout the night.  At one point, I started getting stomach cramps and was convinced that I had eaten something bad.  I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm (I hate that), which was set for the ungodly hour of 4 a.m.

Still, somehow I was able to get ready and get on the road around 4:40.  They had no parking at the start and the last bus from the finish area left at 6:20, so I wanted to get there with plenty of time to get my bib, go to the bathroom and find my friends.  I wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take to get there.  I arrived a little after 5:30 and easily found parking and used a porta potty that was near the parking lot.  I think I was the first person to use it that day.  Score!

I met up with my friends and we got on the bus to go to the start.  After helping me put on the extra bra in the bus (over the light support one), Kelly started realizing how far 13.1 miles are.  The bus ride took a while and it drove straight up the course.  I have to admit, it did seem like a long ride.  It was nice to see the course before running it, so I knew what to expect.

It was comfortably warm before boarding the bus—too warm for 6 o’clock in the morning.  When we drove up 2000 feet in elevation, it was much chillier.  Rod had brought some garbage bags and I gratefully put one over me while I waited in line, one more time, for the porta potty (which was very, very long).

IMAG0058Fontana half marathon start area

We hung out at the start for close to an hour (the race didn’t start until 7:30).  The sun rose over the mountains and it warmed up considerably.  In fact, we all commented that it was getting hot.  That is not a good sign before the race.

Fontana half marathon start area2This was my friend Kelly’s first half marathon.  She and I have been running together for months and I have known that she could do it.  She was injured in January when we ran the Southern California Half Marathon and was ready to run on Saturday.  The best part was that it was her Runniversary!  She ran her very first run on June 5, 2009.  She ran two miles and thought she was going to die.  One year later and over thirty pounds lighter, she was excited to run a half marathon.

They made a few announcements through a bullhorn that sounded more like, “blah blah blah blah, mumble mumble mumble.”  I ascertained that they were making sure everyone knew to cross the mat so their chips would register the time.  It was the first year for chip timing for this long-standing race, so I guess they assumed it was our first time with chips too.   I wished Kelly the best of luck and gave her a hug.  After little fanfare, we were off.

My pacing plan was to keep it between 8:08 and 8:15.  I knew that my PR was 1:49, so if I kept the pace under 8:15, I would be sure to beat that.  I had quickly checked one of my pacing charts and misread it.  My top goal was to run the race in 1:45.  I mistakenly saw that the 1:45 pace as 8:08, when it is really 8:00.  Looking back, I wonder if my final time would have been faster had I had that 8:00 target in my head instead of 8:08.

I had planned on running with Rod.  Our goal pace was about the same and he is just a little faster than me, which could push me.  He and I started the Palos Verdes Half Marathon together and he pulled ahead of me on the killer hill.  He ended up coming in two minutes faster than I did.  As we started, the first mile was pretty fast (7:47), despite some congestion at the beginning.  I knew I could easily run down these early hills fast, but I had been warned about the latter miles being harder and it was getting warmer by the minute.  I wanted to pace myself and keep it closer to 8:00 per mile.  Rod started speeding up.  I told him that I didn’t want to slow him down and to go ahead.  He sped down the hill away from me.  Miles two and three were 7:42 and 7:55.    I was feeling ok and in good shape.

I relaxed into a good rhythm for the next few miles.  It was a beautiful windy road through a lovely canyon.  There was a lot of shade from the canyon walls as the sun wasn’t high yet.  Miles four, five and six were 8:09, 8:11 and 8:07.  

As we hit mile six, we left the canyon.  I chatted with a few runners and we all agreed that the shade was done.  I chatted with one guy for a few minutes about the race and the weather.  I had taken two Endurolytes at the beginning of the race, as I felt the sun beating down and the humidity sucking more and more sweat out of me, I took two more at the next water station.

Miles 7 and 8 (8:09 and 8:04) were uneventful.  Right around eight miles I saw Rod ahead.  I was catching up to him quickly.  I ran alongside him and he said, “I don’t do well in the heat.”   He told me that his heart rate had shot up pretty high.  Where his heart rate peaked around 180 during Palos Verdes, it was staying up toward 190 during this race.  He told me he sped up early because he knew he would need to bank the time.  I wished him well and kept going.  I hoped that he would be able to finish strong.

Things started getting more difficult once I hit mile nine.  I was so thankful that I had worn my hydration belt and brought four full bottles.  At the water stops I took water just to pour on me.  I stopped for a few seconds at mile ten to take my last two Endurolytes.  I was already feeling some cramps in my calf and had wished I brought a few more.  The rest of the race is pretty much a blur.  The course is straight as an arrow from mile six to the finish.  There isn’t much to see like there was in the earlier miles.  Miles 9-13 were 8:14, 8:17, 8:29, 8:24 and 8:19 (I was able to muster a 7:40 pace for the last .17 of the race).

Finish—1:47:06!!  (over two minutes off my PR)

Rod came in not too long after me in 1:55:34.  Jeff, the speedster of the group, ran his race in 1:33:39.  I had given Kelly a race plan based on a goal of 2:15 (based on her 10K on Thanksgiving).  I made her a pace band and coached her on not going out too fast on the downhill course.  Imagine my surprise when she came running in at 2:05:18!!!!!  I couldn’t have been more proud!  She barely looked up when I screamed like a crazy woman.  I think she everything out there.  And just like the competitor she is, she told me not long after the race that she wanted to run a half in under two hours.
Fontana half marathon finish
Fontana half marathon finish 3
I am definitely happy with my PR.  However, part of me feels that I could have done better.  This course is billed as “The Fastest Half Marathon in the World.”  It is basically downhill the entire time.  I keep wondering if I should have run the first cooler miles faster.  I keep wondering if I could have pushed it a little harder in the middle miles.  I am pretty sure that I did my best on the last four miles or so.  I was spent and couldn’t go any faster.  While the elevation profile looks like the last miles were downhill, they felt very, very flat.
 Fontana Days Half Marathon Elevation Profile
On the other hand, it was 83 degrees at the finish.  I don’t know what the relative humidity was, but there was a haziness settled into the valley and I was really, really sweaty.  I saw two people (including the guy I talked to earlier in the race) being helped over the finish line and nearly passing out.  It was scary how many people were on the edge medically.  I know that heat makes it more difficult to run fast.  If I ran that race in 50 degree weather, I think I could run it several minutes faster.  I do know I want to run it next year!!

Thanks for reading!  Happy running!

*I live on the border of Riverside and Orange Counties, so the temperature was not that much higher.  However, it does get progressively hotter as you move east.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let's Get It Started

Let's Get It Started by the Black Eyed Peas is the first song on my race play list.  For two years, whenever I play music during a race, that is the first song to play.  So when it plays, from a marathon to a 5K, I am already pumped up for my race.  The lyrics are perfect:
Let's get it here
And the base keep runnin' runnin', and runnin' runnin', and runnin' runnin', and runnin' runnin', and
runnin' runnin', and runnin' runnin', and runnin' runnin', and runnin' runnin', and...

In this context, there's no disrespect, so, when I bust my rhyme, you break your necks.
We got five minutes for us to disconnect, from all intellect collect the rhythm effect.
Obstacles are inefficient, follow your intuition, free your inner soul and break away from tradition. 
Like Pavlov's dogs, when I hear that song now, my adrenaline increases.  I can feel my heartbeat start to increase a bit and I am ready to go.  The other day, I was driving in my car and it came on the radio.  I instantly felt that anxious feeling in my chest (that same feeling you feel right at the beginning of a race).

What song gets you going??

I am running another half marathon tomorrow.  It will be my fourth in 30 days and I am pretty excited about it.  It is in Fontana, which is east of here, toward the desert.  It is going to be HOT.  However, the course is all downhill.  I am hoping to run under 1:50 and hopefully a new PR.  We'll see how I do with the heat.  I am charging up my iPod, although I don't think I need Fergie to get me excited.  I am ready to get it started.

Have a wonderful weekend. 

Black Eyed Peas - Lets Get It Started Mp3

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Laguna Hills Half Marathon Race Report

First lesson learned:  no matter how many half marathons you run, you still need to respect the distance.  It is not necessarily a walk in the park.

I didn’t do any of the race preparation that I have done in the past.  I didn’t taper at all.  In fact, I ran eight miles two days before.  Since this wasn’t a key race for me, I felt like running longer runs close together was better for my training.

I also didn’t fuel my body well at all.  We went to a barbecue on Sunday afternoon.  I had typical barbecue food of burgers, chips and soda.  I ate lunch around 2 or 3 and snacked the rest of the day.  I also indulged in a delicious margarita.  I tried to tell myself that it was carbo loading, but I knew better.  When we went home around 8 p.m., I was full from snacking and too tired and lazy to fix myself anything that would be good for the race the next morning.

I didn’t have any race plan to speak of.  I knew I wanted to run it under two hours and I knew that I would like to run it under 1:55. I was hoping to run faster than I did in Palos Verdes Half Marathon; however, I wasn’t even sure what pace that was.  I had no idea how fast to go out on this race. 
Despite my lack of preparation, I am very happy with my performance.  I would have liked to have run faster than PV, since Laguna Hills was technically a bit easier, but I came pretty darn close (I ran Monday’s race a minute slower).

Monday morning, I woke up bright and early.  I hadn’t registered yet, so I had to make it there with time to spare.  My plan was to leave the house around 5:30.  It was about a half hour drive.  I left a little later than that and arrived about 6:10.  Perfect.  The starting line is at a mall, so there was plenty of parking.  The registration process was quick and painless.

I went directly to the porta potty lines, knowing that I usually need two trips.  I texted Penny to find out where she was.  We had both run Palos Verdes and never hooked up, so I wanted to make sure to see her.  While I was scanning the crowd, I saw Glenn.  He didn’t look particularly chipper, and gave me a small wave and smile.  He told me that Penny was looking for me.  I found her in line with her friend Yasmin, who was running the 5K.  I chatted with them and ogled over Yasmin’s adorable baby and then we made our way to the starting line.  We wished each other good wishes and were off. 
laguna hills pre race 1
laguna hills pre race pictures stolen from Penny’s blog.  :-)
It was very crowded at the beginning.  The 5K and Half Marathon started together.  Since we got to the starting area at the last minute, this meant that I was weaving around strollers and walkers.  I didn’t get annoyed with that.  If I had wanted to start out fast, I could have started further up in the starting corral.
I started out feeling pretty good.  My legs felt good and I was able to get into a nice rhythm quickly, despite the crowds.  I started feeling like I could even beat my Carlsbad Half Marathon time.  I was getting cocky about the hills.  They were nice, gradual hills and I wasn’t losing too much time while running up them.
I was in a good mood.  I was smiling and thanking volunteers.  As the 5Kers went off into their finishing chute, I cheered for them.  Things were looking good.
After a few miles, I noticed that I was sweating quite a bit.  I took a couple of Endurolyte tablets.  I don’t have a good plan for these.  I know that when I take them, it helps me avoid those post-race headaches and keeps away cramps, for the most part, but I take them intermittently, when I feel I need them, instead of at a specified interval.  I need to get a better plan, because I think taking a few more might have prevented the pain I am feeling in my calf yesterday and today.  If you take salt/electrolyte tablets, how many do you take and how often?
For the first half of the race, there was a nice cloud cover.  It was really pleasant at around 60 degrees.  I felt good.  Then the sun came out.  I immediately thought of Penny and how she was probably cursing.  I was cursing myself as that sun made it seem ten times hotter.
Just when I was thinking to myself that it wasn’t a super scenic race, the course went on to a path and then down into a beautiful canyon.  There was a nice downhill, but I soon realized that we would have to come out of that same canyon, which meant uphill. 
Lagunahills half marathon Lagunahills half marathon2
Laguna hills half marathon self portrait
Running downhill into the canyon
There were a couple of out-and-back portions during the bike path portion.  I like looking for people I know and checking out all the different people and their styles.  Sometimes I wonder how people can run 13.1 miles dressed the way they do.  Seriously, a black long-sleeved top on a hot sunny day?  Crazy.

I saw Glenn around mile seven or eight.  He looked good and I estimated that he was about eight minutes behind me.  That means he was on pace to run in the low 2’s.  I wished him well.   About five minutes later, I saw Penny.  If my estimations were correct, she was on pace for a great race too!  I told her that she looked great as we ran by each other.

It was right after that the sun came out in full force.  Even though I was sweating quite a bit, I never thought to take more Endurolytes.  I was carrying Vitalyte with me, but I think it was too diluted since I had ice in the bottle when I filled it.  My calf started cramping right around mile ten.

The next few miles were tough.  This is where I realized that I had underestimated how tough a half marathon can be.  I had taken it too lightly.  These last few miles seemed to only go uphill.  I know there were downhill sections, but it just seemed to climb and climb and climb.  Right after the twelve mile marker, the path went through a shady area, which was heaven.  At this point I was ready to be done.

You can see on my splits below** that I slowed down after mile ten, but what the splits don’t show is how much harder those miles were.  I felt like I was working ten times harder to keep the pace under 8:45 (and wasn’t successful every mile)

I had looked at the elevation profile*** and knew it was a hilly course.  I even noticed that there was a hill at the end.  That seems fine and dandy when you are sitting at your computer contemplating running a race.  When it is approaching 80 degrees and you are starting to cramp and you have no more energy due to poor eating the day before, a hill at the end of a half marathon is nothing short of torture.  As my Garmin is nearing the 13 mile mark* I knew that I was nearing the end.  A spectator yelled that we were almost done and to “kick it to the end.”   I looked up toward the steepest hill of the day.   You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.  I commented to runners around me that the race director was a mean, mean person.  No one commented back… I think they were as disheartened as I was.  Seriously?  The steepest incline right at the end??  The finish line was not the triumphant sprint that I like, but a monumental effort to pass as many people as I could (it was the only way I could push myself).

As I came into the finish line, I heard my name for the very first time in a race!  Three marathons and ten half marathons and this was the first time I heard the announcer call my name.  He even pronounced it correctly.  I pumped my fists in the air out of excitement and he even commented, “Lisa is excited today!”

Chip Time—1:54:39
Gun Time—1:56:33
Gender Place—84/582
Division Place—12/93

I wandered around the expo a bit.  I ate some oranges and bananas**** and grabbed a muffin from Souplantation.  I even got myself a free five minute massage.  I went to pick up my shirt and they were out of my size.  They were nice tech shirts, but the medium is huge.  I stopped by the Long Beach Marathon booth and chatted with Danica for a few minutes.  I think I am going to run Long Beach and try to BQ (but that is another post entirely).

I finally made it over to the beer garden to wait for Penny, Yasmin and Glenn.  I grabbed a yummy BJ’s red ale (so happy not to have light beer!) and chatted with another runner for a while.  Penny, Glenn and Yasmin made it over and they told me their horror stories.  We all shared some great conversation.
Laguna hills half marathon post race
After everything is said and done, it was a good day.  I ran a strong race and pushed myself at the end.  I didn’t finish faster than my last half marathon, but I did come in under the goal that I told myself I wanted (1:55).  What more can I ask for?  I am very happy that I can now consistently run 13.1 miles under two hours.  Two years ago, that would have never crossed my mind.

Happy Running…

*I was about .2 long for much of the race due to crowded conditions at the start.
mile 1- 8:56 (a lot of congestion and walkers)
mile 2- 8:32
mile 3- 8:23
mile 4- 8:20
mile 5- 8:39
mile 6- 8:23
mile 7- 8:29
mile 8- 8:39
mile 9- 8:30
mile 10- 8:48
mile 11- 8:41
mile 12- 8:34
mile 13- 8:23 (I am not sure the last time I have worked quite that hard.  I was actually wheezing up that hill, but pushed it hard)
.3—8:25 pace
Elevation Profile
Laguna hills elevation profile 
**Glenn and Penny reported that they were out of food when they got there. That sucks!


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