Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quite a year…

Wow.  In terms of running, 2010 has been an overwhelming success.

Over 1500 miles run!!
That is a 50% increase over 2009.  I ran 1017 last year and will end this year with 500 miles more than that.  I hit 1500 miles yesterday on my run.  I stand at 1504 with three days left.  Holy cow!  At the beginning of the year, I had hoped to hit 1200 this year.  I definitely exceeded my expectations, especially since my mileage has dropped quite a bit in the last couple of months.

9 months run over 100 miles*
With the exception of February, March and April, my mileage total for every month was over 100 miles.  My highest month was 175 (my lifetime PR).  In 2009, my highest month was 153, but I had one month where I only ran 27 miles.  Things have come a long way since I started running in 2008, when I didn’t even keep track of my mileage.

24 races raced!
This number surprised me.  Even on a budget, I was able to run a LOT of races this year.  I spent Christmas and birthday money on entry fees.  I was also able to run seven races for free.

At least one race per month
I thought that I wanted to do that, but never thought I would (or could).  It definitely wasn’t by design.  When I saw a race that I wanted to run and could afford to run it, I did.  I ran the OC Chili Trail Race Series in February, March and April.  If it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to run all three, I wouldn’t have raced in April at all.  The races I ran in August, September and October (and one in November) were all free for one reason or another.**

3 marathons
I ran my best marathon, my most disappointing marathon and my most fun marathon all in 2010.  It goes to show how different each one can be.

8 half marathons (5 half marathons and 3 trail races over 21K)
I officially qualify for Half Fanatics.  I haven’t joined yet, since I am waiting for my budget to allow for things like that.  My best half marathon streak is four in thirty days.  I am proud to say that I ran three of them comfortably under two hours.  The first one was a very difficult trail race where my time was not my goal.  The last in the streak happens to be my PR of 1:47:06

7 trail races
I ran my first trail race in February of this year.  It was a five mile race and I fell in love with it.  I had run on the trails and loved it.  Trail races made me a bit nervous, but after a couple, I looked forward to them.  In fact, I really hope to run a trail marathon or 50K this year.
3 10Ks
One of them was the Camp Pendleton Mud Run and the other two I PR’d in!  I don’t particularly like 10K’s, but they make a great “tempo” run.

5 5Ks
I only ran one of these for a PR. Two of them were with my sister-in-law, helping her pace her race.  One was the LA Mud Run and the last one was the Gladiator Run

PRs in almost every distance
Half Marathon—1:47:06

In terms of my life in general, it has been my most difficult year.  Thank goodness for my running and the success I have seen there, as well as the friends I have made along the way.  By far, the highlight of my year (running and otherwise) has been the friends I have made because of my running.  I am looking forward to a better 2011.  I hope to continue to see improvement in my running.  But even more, I hope to continue running with and helping my friends reach their goals.  Maybe I will even train a paying client next year.  We’ll see what life brings me….

I hope you all have a happy new year.  Happy Trails.  Happy Running…

*January 133 (peaking for Surf City)
February 60 (ran Surf City Marathon on February 6 and then took some time off, only running on the weekends for a couple of weeks)
March 87
April 82
May 145 (started training for Long Beach in earnest and ran three half marathons)
June 133 (I ran a race every week this month)
July 167
August 171
September 175
October 126 (ran Long Beach Marathon without taking much time off afterwards)
November 126
December 99 (so far…but I still plan on two more runs before the end of the year.  It will probably be my lowest mileage month since April)

*I love my friends and family!   I paced friends/family in four events, was able to get a free entry from a friend of a friend, ran for team Jamba Juice for another and volunteered at a race to get another free entry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Favorite Things

I know that Christmas is only days away, but I thought I would post about some of my favorite things that might be nice last minute gifts for a runner in your life.  Or yourself.  I also have included some things on my list that I would love to get.

1. Garmin- or other GPS watch.  I have the simple Forerunner 205 and couldn’t live without it.  If I had my way, I’d trade it in for one with the heart rate monitor.  I don’t train with my heart rate often, but I think about doing it now and then.  If it were just a matter of strapping that monitor to my chest, I would do it more often.
2. iFitness Double Pouch running belt--  I am actually planning on devoting an entire post to this.  It is my single favorite running item.  I use it almost every day.  I use it even when I am not running.  It is the perfect belt to carry my phone, my keys and a little cash.  On days when I can’t find it, I’m lost.  I like having the comfort of having my phone with me when I run and this little belt allows me to do that. 
Neoprene Double Pouch Black w/ Pink Zip
3. Fleece vest--  I love my fleece vest.  It is the perfect addition to my cool weather running wardrobe.  I bought it for a mountain biking trip, but I have worn it dozens of times running.  It has a zip pocket in the back and is cut for cycling, so the back is lower.  Mine is made by Sheila Moon, but it doesn’t seem like they still make it. 

4. Compression Socks—I use the Recovery Socks after my runs.  I often wear them sleeping overnight.  Do they prevent injury?  I don’t know.  But I know I seem to feel better after wearing them.

5. Gloves—My hands get really cold when I run in less than 50 degree weather.  Luckily, it doesn’t usually get super cold around here, so my Target knit gloves work perfectly.  Whenever they go on sale I buy some, so I have several pair of $.50 gloves.  If I need to chuck them if my hands get too warm, I’m not out much money.  These are great stocking stuffers!
6.  Arm Warmers—I love my arm warmers.  I have two pair.  One I LOVE and the other one not as much.   My favorite pair is a cycling pair by Louis Garneau.   They are nice and soft on the inside and moisture wicking on the outside.  They are perfect here in Southern California where it starts out cold and warms up as the run progresses.  These stay up on my arms and never need adjusting or tugging.  They have a band at the top that keep them up without squeezing.  I don’t even think about them.  I have run entire marathons in them.  My second pair is by Zensah.  I had high hopes for these, having read great reviews.  They are soft and comfy and a cute pink.  The only problem with them is that they don’t stay up really well.  I have only worn them a few times (if my black ones are in the laundry) and I felt like I had to tug at the top.  The compression is nice throughout, but during the run the top seems to sag a bit.

7. A hat—  Hats are underrated items of apparel. They keep me warm, dry and keeps the sun out of my eyes.  Now that my hair is getting longer, I need a hole to put my pony tail.  The hat we got from the Santa Barbara Marathon doesn’t have a pony hole.  What’s up with that?  I have tried running in knit hats, but I find I like a nice brim on my hat.

My wish list:
1. Unlimited race entries—I love, love, love running races.  There is something so exciting about the race environment.  Unfortunately, races are expensive.  My favorite Christmas present would be a premium membership to (if that actually existed) where I could register for any race for little or no money.  I have so many races on my list to do and they aren’t cheap!  While we’re at it, I would love to be able to travel to races as well.

2. Unlimited shoes—Ah, to be sponsored by Brooks.  Now, that would be something.  They say that shoes last 500 miles.  I find that by 300 miles, I start experiencing aches and pains in my lower legs.  My shin splints and IT Band Syndrome both start bothering me when my shoes reach the upper 200’s mileage-wise.  This gets to be very expensive.

3. A wind-proof, water-resistant jacket with zip-off sleeves--  This would be so convenient around here.  Often when it is cold, it warms up by the end of my run.  When it is raining, it often doesn’t rain the entire run.  A convertible jacket is just what I need. This one looks nice.

4. Vibram Five FingersI am curious about the barefoot running thing.  Even though I wear stability shoes and feel all sorts of issues when they get too old, I always wonder how much my form might improve by going “back to nature.”  I wouldn’t mind trying out some Vibrams, but I don’t want to invest the money, in case I don’t like it.  I would do just a little at a time, probably out on the trails.

5. Compression pants—I have two pair of running pants, but they were both relatively inexpensive.  They are nice and warm, but require some annoying tugging.  I think that pants with some compression features would be much more comfortable and help in my recovery etc.

6. iPod ShuffleI don’t use music as much as I used to.  I wear my iPod Nano strapped to my arm.  It gets a little cumbersome.  The shuffle (or even better, the new Nano) is small enough to clip on a collar.  I have a perfectly good iPod, so a new one is a silly thing to want.  But since this is my wish list, I can list whatever I want, right?  While I’m at it, I think I want the Oakley MP3 glasses, where it is all built into my sunglasses.

7. A headlamp—We often start our runs when it is dark.  I sometimes wear a flashing light or a Tinkerbell pin belonging to my kids.  That helps people see me.  I wouldn’t mind a lamp so I can see better.  I would like one that is super lightweight.  One that clips to my hat would be perfect.

8. A Treadmill—as much as I hate running on a treadmill, there are times when it really comes in handy.  The weather this week has been horrible.  I don’t mind a little rain, but it has been raining HARD for several days.  I definitely would have used a treadmill this week.

I am sure there are more things I love in my own running bags and drawers.  I am even more sure there are additional things on my wish list that I forgot to mention.  Luckily, I really have everything I need.  I have my running friends and I live in a place where the weather is [almost always] perfect for running.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that the new year treats you well.

Happy Running…

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gladiator Rock ‘N Run Race Report—A Muddy Good Time!

A few weeks ago, I joined my brother, Jason, and his wife, Kristi, in the Gladiator Rock ‘N Run.  I thought the concept was good, but I was skeptical.  This was the inaugural race, and other concepts like this had mixed reviews.  My last mud run was a bit lame with the obstacles being things like traffic barriers and hoola hoops.  So I went in with low expectations, planning on having fun with my family and supporting my sis-in-law, who has never done something like this.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The Gladiator Rock ‘N Run was one of the most fun runs I have ever done!!

The concept comes from American Gladiator and is the brainchild of one of the original Gladiators, Dan “Nitro” Clark.  My brother is in the perfect demographic and watched it when he was a teenager.  The run involves running stairs, climbing over giant spools and walls, carrying heavy sacks, sliding down steep hills and, of course, lots and lots of mud.

The race was organized into half hour waves.  Brilliant!  It avoided the inevitable pileups at the obstacles and made parking a breeze.  We ran in the 10 AM wave and were able to see some of the previous waves run.  I love running races early, but my brother and sister-in-law are not early risers (at least on the weekends).  I was glad to run later on that day because it was pretty chilly.  For a race where you are going to get wet in December, 8 AM might not be quite as fun.
  Here we are before the run, with finishers from an earlier wave in the background running through the fire.
They had fun stuff to do around the finish/start area (in addition to the regular vendors etc.).  There was a jousting pit as well as a mud tug-of-war pit.  Had we had a big group, we would have been all over that!
There were lots of fun costumes.
There were a few announcements and then our wave was off.  The first obstacle was running the stairs in the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  I really enjoyed it.  The stairs were a nice change from just running.  It really affects your heart rate differently.  They called that obstacle the “Stairway to Heaven.”
We ran through an obstacle called “The Wrecking Ball.”  Volunteers aimed hanging balls at us.  Some of them were thrown pretty hard.  One of the guys aimed right at my brother.  Mistake.  Having played college and pro football, he pushed the ball right back and almost knocked the guy over.  Hilarious.
After that, we ran down a hill covered in tires.  My brother reverted to his twelve-year-old self and bounded down the pile of tires.  He would have made it all the way down, but had to zig when another runner zagged and the tire under his feet flipped out from under him and he fell HARD on his side.  By the end of the race, he was pretty battered and bruised.  BUT, he had a smile on his face the entire time.
*This photo was “stolen” from the Gladiator Facebook page.  They had their own photographers, in addition to the race photographers.

Next, we carried a heavy bags about 100 feet to place at the foot of a statue of Buddha.  They say that it was 50 pounds, but I don’t think there were 50 pound bags.  I think they were closer to 20.  After that, we had to run over giant spools.  I really wanted to be able to run up and over it, but in the end I had to put my foot on the side and climb it.  My brother ran over it.

04180012 The next obstacle was a steep hill.  They had a big rope for people to pull themselves up called “Rope a Dope.”  It was easier for me just to run up the hill.  It was a bit muddy, but not slippery.  I passed a ton of people painstakingly pulling their way up the hill.

What goes up, must come down.  To get off that hill, we had to slide.  The other side of the hill was being sprayed by hoses.  They had it rigged so you could slow yourself down on a bale.  Of course, Jason slid all the way down.  Unfortunately, there was some gravel in that mud and he scraped up his side pretty good.  Once again, he was smiling while he did it.

Kristi and I at the top of the mud hill.  Do you see the “Avateam” behind us?  They were a fun bunch of people who ran near us the whole race.
There goes Kristi!

We had to climb up a big wall.  This was as big as the walls at the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, without the cute Marines to help us over.  There were a couple of spots that had slats out for foot holds, but it wasn’t a no-brainer. 

Another picture from Facebook.

We also had to climb a cargo net over a trailer.  I enjoyed this one too. 
04180015 04180016
Then we hit the first mud pit.    This mud was the gooeyist, deepest mud I have been in.  I have run three mud runs prior to this and this was the best mud of all of them.  The LA Mud Run had a couple of inches, tops.  The Camp Pendleton Mud Run’s mud smelled bad.  The San Diego Mud was good, but more watery.  This mud was hard to crawl through, got EVERYWHERE and was cold.  It was hard not to smile and laugh, but when you did, mud splashed in your mouth.  ICK.  It was the perfect mix of mud and water and I have to hand it to the race organizers for not using mud with much gravel.
04180019 04180021
The camera got covered in mud.  It was difficult to find a clean spot to wipe it off.
The final obstacle was going over several small hills and then a final mud pit.  The last hill was steep and super muddy.  Getting up it was nearly impossible.  I had to dig my fingers into the mud and pull myself up.  I finally found my way up to the top.  I braced myself and reached down for Kristi.  I helped pull her up while Jason pushed from below. 

The last thing to do was to run to the finish.  They had fire on either side of us.  The warmth felt good.  I would have rather jumped over fire, but it was still fun.  We ended the run holding hands and smiling.   Our little disposable camera was done, so we didn’t get an “after” picture until we got to the car.  We waited for a while for a picture in front of a green screen.  During the wait, our mud was drying and the temperature was dropping.  The best part of the wait was listening to a fun Ska band and chatting with other runners.
I was not wearing tights…my legs were just coated in mud.
The shower line was super long, so we changed our clothes in the parking lot and went home muddy.  It was actually good, because my kids got a kick out of seeing me so muddy.

In addition to such a fun run, the shirt is one of my favorite race shirts.  I have so many cotton race shirts that I never wear.  They are boxy, unflattering and boring.  The Gladiator shirts were in men’s or women’s styles, meaning that my shirt is cut for a woman and isn’t boxy.  It has a distressed look and is actually really cool.
This was an inaugural event and I was surprised how well it went.  They could have had more porta-potties.  There were complaints about the number of showers, but there are never enough showers at a muddy event.  I really have to give a shout out to Generic Events, the race production company.  They consistently put on great events.  

If I have to find anything negative about this race, I would say it was a bit on the expensive side.  I spent $65, which is really high for a three mile race.  The other thing is that I would have loved it to be longer!  There wasn’t much running. The last thing was that it was on the chilly side. We were wet and covered in mud and after a while I was COLD.  I know this has nothing to do with the race organization, but I can put it out there.   ;-)  Maybe they could have given us mylar blankets or something.

This race is scheduled to come back to Southern California in May.  I will definitely be signing up again.  I want to get a big group together and wear fun costumes.  Who’s with me??

Happy Running…

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dana Point Turkey Trot Race Report

I love Turkey Trots.  I ran my first one in 2008 and vowed to run a race every year on Thanksgiving.  The mood is festive; people are smiling and often in costume.  You get a huge sense of accomplishment, especially when you go for that piece of pie!  The Dana Point Turkey Trot is no exception.  It is a lot of fun and they offer a 10k, which is a bonus when many Thanksgiving races are 5K.  This was the second time running this race and it didn’t disappoint.

It was a chilly morning.  It was in the high thrities…BRRRRRR.  We were spending Thanksgiving with my inlaws again and they live just under a mile from the start line.  I ran down there and it was a nice warmup.  It was really cold and it felt good to get things moving.

I picked up my bib, shirt and goodie bag.  I was so glad that they had a bag check.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with my goodies if they didn’t have it.  As I waited to check my gear, I started regretting not bringing my own stuff from home to keep me warm.  It would have been nice to have a sweatshirt or something to check.  As it was, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, capris (as my calves froze, I started to wish for my longer pants), arm warmers, a fleece vest and my trusty cheap Target gloves.  My outfit actually turned out to be just fine and by the end of the race, I had stashed my arm warmers and gloves in the back pocket of my vest.

After using the porta potty (with very short lines), I made my way to the start.  It was crowded, but I expected that.  Last year it was really packed and probably the most congested race I have run.  As I tried to make my way toward the front, I was stopped.  I was told that wave one was full and I would have to go with wave two.  No problem.  I would rather run in the front of wave two than the back of wave one.  I was thrilled that they started the runners in waves.  It was sort of random with no real signage or sense of organization, but I didn’t care.  It definitely cut down on the congestion of the race.  There is a spot in the first couple of miles that gets very narrow (it is split for returning runners).  It was really tough last year.  This year was so much better during that stretch.

I am always amazed how easy it is to run fast in the first few miles of a race.  When I try to run eight minute miles on my own, it feels like a Herculean effort.  In a race environment, it seems like the easiest thing in the world.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my first split comfortably under 8:00.  I had been fighting a nasty cold all week.  I skipped my runs on Tuesday and Wednesday because I was miserable.  I spent most of Tuesday on the couch.  Wednesday night, I was wondering if I could run the race the next morning.  As I cruised through this race, I wondered if I felt good because of adrenaline or if I had willed myself to be better.  If it was adrenaline alone, I would have felt worse later that day and I felt fine.  I honestly think I may have sweat it out during the race.

This is such a beautiful course.  It goes through Doheny State Beach and along the ocean towards Capistrano Beach.  We turn around and then head back to the Dana Point Harbor and go into the marina.  The course runs along a spit separating the harbor from the Pacific Ocean.  The only hills were on the bridge going over the harbor.  Did I mention there wasn’t a cloud in the sky?   
I felt pretty good throughout the race.  In the fifth mile, I started feeling a little tired, but I knew I was almost done and kept pushing.  I had an odd sensation going over the bridge the second time.  The sun was to my right, as well as the runners going into the harbor.  The shadows they made across my path made me dizzy!  I felt like I was on a treadmill or something.  I had to focus on the area ahead instead of the ground right in front of me or I started feeling a little disoriented.  Luckily, it is a short stretch and by the time I turned onto Harbor Drive, I was back to normal.

I didn’t pay all that much attention to my Garmin.  I looked down occasionally to make sure my splits were right around 8:00.  My goal was to break 50:00.  I should have paid closer attention.  I knew my splits were going to average under 8:00, however, I forgot about the inevitable extra mileage that I always run, especially on a crowded course with a lot of turns.  I wasn’t really looking at elapsed time.  Had I looked at that, I would have started my kick sooner.  I finished the race strong; I still had juice in the tank.  I remembered to stop my Garmin a few seconds after I crossed the finish line.  It said 50:03.  No!  Could I have stopped my Garmin 4 seconds after finishing?  It would be close.

I picked up my bag* and hung out a bit. I went to the results tent to see what my time really was.  I was hoping to see a 4 at the front of the number.  Alas, my time was 50:00!!!  One second?  That is all I needed to break 50:00??  So many things went through my head:  I could have started my kick earlier, I could have not walked those few steps at the water stop, I could have pushed it a little harder in the middle miles.  But the good news was that it was a PR! My last 10K on the 4th of July was 50:23  Twenty seconds isn’t a lot and the 4th of July race was a harder course, but I’ll take it!   A PR is a PR, especially when I didn’t really expect it.

I ran back to my inlaws’ house (making the total run a little over 8 miles) and spent the rest of the day with my family.  We went for a nice two mile walk down to the beach and enjoyed the beautiful day.  There was no wind and the surf was as calm as I had ever seen it.  It was still chilly (so we couldn’t take advantage of the lack of waves to swim), but it was super pleasant.  What a great way to spend Thanksgiving!

No, that isn't a lake or pond somewhere.  That is the beach mentioned in the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA."  Not much surfing going on here.

Happy Running.

Time- 50:00
Overall: 743 out of 4049
Women- 170 out of 2228
F 40-44- 16 out of 311

*The bag check was better than Long Beach, but still not the best.  We had to wait a bit to get our bags, but most spirits were pretty high and runners were patient.  I think I recognized one of the girls as having worked at Long Beach.  If so, that girl is brave.  I made sure to smile and thank all the volunteers.  It would suck to volunteer on Thanksgiving only to be treated badly by impatient runners.  I am not sure why it took longer than it should.  I think, in this case at least, their space was pretty small.  Although the bags were clearly divided by bib number, it took a while to dig through each bin to find the correct number.  At races where the bag pickup went fast, they had the bags spread out more so you had fewer bags to look through to find a specific bag.  The Rock-n-Roll events organize by last name and then by bib number.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Last year, on Facebook, I posted something  I was thankful for every day in November.  I know I am a bit late on this, considering Thanksgiving has come and gone and it is the last day of November, but I think giving thanks is something that can be done every day.  This year was, by far, the hardest Thanksgiving I have ever faced.  Even with an extremely difficult situation in life, I can say I am very thankful for some key things.

1. A strong marriage.  We have been through a lot the past two years.  The last few months have been extremely stressful.  I have been known to take out my frustrations on the closest person, my husband.  We’re both short tempered and therefore tend to argue (and to be honest, it is often due to me overreacting).  If our marriage didn’t have such a strong foundation, I don’t think it could have survived this.  I know that once we get through all this, we’ll be better than ever.  I know I have a partner in life and we have been tested with the “worse” part of “better or worse.”

2. Happy and healthy kids.  My kids make me smile every day.  Even when I am depressed (which seems to happen more often), my kids can snap me out of it.  I haven’t been the best mother lately, but they have been the best kids.  On those days when I just want to lay on the couch an do nothing, inevitably my kids will need me.  They will need comforting or help with homework or someone to watch them dance.  How can I wallow in my own self-pity when there are two great kids right here.   Often, when I am lamenting over our situation, I remind myself that there are parents out there who aren’t so fortunate to be able to watch their kids laugh or attack them as a tickle monster.  For this, I am truly blessed.

3. A wonderful network of friends and family. I have always been very proud.  I was independent and self-sufficient from a very early age.  I was the one in my family who packed up my belongings and moved to a different state “just because.”  Accepting help has never been in my comfort zone, let alone asking for it.  Twelve months of unemployment have taught me a little about pride.  I have learned to accept “charity” from friends and family, knowing that soon enough, I will be able to pay it forward.  I have been so fortunate to meet some great people through my running.  These generous people have helped us network for jobs, given me free massages, paid for race entries and been there for me in so many ways.  My family is really pitching in to ensure that my children have one of their best Christmases yet.

4. My running. Running is a relatively new thing for me.  I started running, in earnest, in 2008.  Before that, I probably never ran more than two or three miles at a time (other than my very first 10k in the summer of 2007).  I am so thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to run.  Running keeps me healthy, gives me my mommy “alone time,” and keeps me sane.  More than anything, running has given me my social outlet.  Since moving here a little more than a year ago, I have met some fantastic people (as mentioned above).  I would not have been able to get so close to these women without the quality time we spend running.
early morning running gals
We had a lady snap a picture of us during one of our pre-dawn runs.  This is the main group that runs each morning.  Some times there are more and sometimes fewer, but I haven’t had to run by myself in quite a while.

Even though my life is difficult and sometimes feels a bit hopeless, I do realize how truly lucky I am.   I know his is a running blog and I try to keep things mostly about my running, leaving the other stuff to my other blog.  However, running has become such a big part of my life, so I wanted to post this here.  Thanks for reading.

Happy running.

*Coming soon: Dana Point Turkey Trot Race Report

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goodbye to an online friend

I have been really bad at keeping up with reading all the blogs that I follow.  I read when I can and comment even less.  While trying to catch up a bit last weekend, I was saddened to learn about the passing of one of my blog buddies.  Rick was a very supportive and enthusiastic friend.  He and I often commented on each other's blogs and became Facebook friends as well.  He could always be counted on for an encouraging word or something to make me laugh.   

I AM a Warrior..or The Grand Poobah from The Flintstones!This entry was on his blog:

The Last Run

To all of Rick's followers and fans,

My dad had his last final run today. He passed away this morning doing what he loves... running. 
I was surprised at how sad I was to learn this news.  I had never met this man who lived across the country.  But through the internet and running, we found a connection.  Rick was a man with a huge heart.  He was a dedicated father and husband.  He loved beer and going to the casino.  He was also very charitable, raising a lot of money for Autism Speaks.  He was charitable towards everyone.  In 2009, I was incredibly touched when Rick offered to start a collection among my followers to sponsor me in my marathon.  That was just the kind of thing he did.

This reminds me that life is so fleeting.  Rick was not very old (in his mid-50's).  I need to remember what is important and tell the people in my life how much they mean to me.

Rest in Peace, Rick.  You'll be missed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Santa Barbara Marathon Race Report—the marathon that almost wasn’t (PART 2)

The Morning of the Race
For the craziness leading up to this point see Part 1 here.

The race website had suggested getting there early to get on a shuttle.  Having learned the hard way about pushing the envelope with time, I didn’t want to take any chances.  To fix the bib issue, I figured we would need to get down there around 4 a.m.   I set my watch for 3:15 and my phone alarm for 3:20, to get enough time to get ready and leave around 3:45.  Kelly had set her phone alarm for 3:40, but I wanted to get up earlier. I am pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep until close to 2 a.m.  I fell asleep pretty hard though because for the first time ever, I slept through my alarms!!*  We didn’t wake until Kelly’s phone went off at 3:40.  Not a good start to the morning!!
We rushed like crazy women to get dressed and get all our stuff together.  I usually like to sit and drink my Zip Fizz, eat my Luna Bar and get ready for a race.  Not that morning.  We rushed down to the car, met Kelly’s friend, Suzy, who was running her first marathon also.  We had an easy drive down to the finish area where we needed to catch a shuttle to the start.

We were looking for race staff.  We needed to talk to a man (or woman) about a bib.  We asked a volunteer directing traffic where we should go and he told us to take the bus up to the start and someone could help us up there.  Contact with volunteer #1 gets a thumbs up.

The shuttle dropped us off and we had to walk a half mile or so.  That was a bit strange, since we were walking on a wide street to a high school.  Apparently, they had issues the year before and didn’t want the buses going all the way up to the school.  We made our way to the racer staging area, which was the gymnasium of the high school,  There, right by the entrance [I think I heard angels singing] was a table with two volunteers and boxes of race envelopes.  Even though they did not have race day pick up, there they were with bibs and chips.  Kelly and I immediately went into our sad story of a lost bib/chip.  The volunteer smiled and acted as if it were no big deal.  No big deal to her, maybe, but it had been a big dfriendly volunteerseal to us.  She was going to issue me a new chip and looked for me on the master list.   As we were having trouble finding my name, the other volunteer produced an envelope.  It had several hand-written notes on it, including “left at expo at 4 p.m.” and my contact information.**  Kelly and I were visibly relieved.  I think she was more relieved than I was because I had already been fine with running without a bib.  The day was definitely looking up.

We then had close to two hours to kill.  I just have to say that when you have to wait for a race start, a school gymnasium is the way to go!  It was warm, lit, and had flushing toilets and running water.  Since I hadn’t really used the restroom yet, we decided to get in line.  This is where we would spend our time until the race started.  I learned many races ago, that once you are done using the restroom, go and get back in line again.  The first time I suggested this, Kelly thought I was crazy.  “But I don’t have to go again.”  “You will.”  And she did. The line was relatively slow, since there were only four stalls.  By the time we waited through it, we had to go again. We were standing around anyway, so we might as well be in line. They announced that they would be starting the race late.  There were several groans.  I merely saw it as another opportunity to use the potty. LOL. The second announcement, however, that told us that it was delayed even more, didn’t sit quite as well with me.  We parked our car just after 4:15.  Now the race wasn’t going to start until 7.  That is a long time to wait for a race.  At least we weren’t outside. 
 Racers waiting patiently in the gym for the race to start.

 Kelly and I are all smiles after getting my bib.  No sleep?  No problem!

Us with Kelly’s old friend (and my new one) Suzy.  She was running her first marathon too!
Finally, they called us all out to the starting line.  On our way to the starting line were a dozen garbage boxes with bib numbers on them.  You just dropped your bag (marked with your bib number) into the appropriate box and it was waiting near the finish line.  So simple!  I am sure that a few empty Gu packets and water bottles ended up in the boxes as well, but they worked great!

I was planning on staying with Kelly the entire time.  However, I had never run a marathon without music.  I didn’t know if I might need some tunes in the later miles to keep me going.  I went to get my iPod set up to a playlist and….nothing.  It wouldn’t turn on.*** At this point, I had to laugh.  Of course my iPod didn’t work.  Would my Garmin stay charged?  I was ready for whatever the universe would throw at me at this point.  We were getting ready to start and I was in a great mood.  Bring it on.

The Race!
They finally started the race at 7 a.m.  Kelly had to retie her shoe a couple of times, so we crossed the mat (gotta love chip timing!) around 7:02.  And we were off!!

I had made a couple of signs for us to wear.  I had Kelly wear a sign pinned to her back that said, “I am running my first marathon!”  And I wore IMAG0316one that said, “My friend is running her first marathon.”  This turned out to be such a great thing.  So many people came up and asked how it was going.DSCN2465
DSCN2463  I also had a little homage to my alma mater, which was a nice conversation starter.  Between these things and our good moods, it was the most social race I have ever run!

The first miles went by so fast!  We chatted and laughed.  We thanked spectators and volunteers.  Kelly cheered every time a spectator cheered for us.  She said that she would rather feel worn out from cheering than running. LOL.  We met a ton of runners.  We ran with Adam, a local guy in his twenties who didn’t train much and even asked us what kind of fuel the race handed out.  He was completely unprepared.  He ran with us for several miles before he started falling further and further behind. We met Greg, a 3:28 marathoner who was running with his friend in her first marathon.  They were all from Irvine, so we had an Orange County connection.  We went back and forth with them throughout the race, until we passed them for good around mile 20.  We ran for a while with Nikki, a mother of five, running her first marathon with her brother.  Her brother ran with her until the half way point and then took off.****  We went back and forth with Nikki throughout the race as well.  We chatted with “Stanford” and his girlfriend, who was a local.  I never got their names, but we talked about college football, the Pac-10 as well as the race itself.

Before I left for Santa Barbara,  Kelly’s husband told me that he was going to drive up with their daughters to surprise Kelly at the race.  I told him that I would text him so he would know when to expect us.  About mile 8, I let Kelly go ahead of me a bit while I texted Richard our location and pace.  He replied that they were at mile 14.  I was so excited.  I used that opportunity to sprint to catch up with Kelly and Suzy.  It felt good to move my legs a bit.  At one point, fast guy Greg joined me and we called it intervals.  We were really having fun.

When we saw Kelly’s family, it gave us all a huge boost.  They were at mile 14 and again at mile 19.  Not only was Kelly surprised and excited to see them, but everyone around us enjoyed it.  The girls ran with us for a few hundred feet and it was awesome!  Kelly was in tears and it really gave her a boost.
     Santa Barbara Marathon family cheerleadersSanta Barbara Marathon family cheerleaders2    Santa Barbara Marathon running with Kelly and family
I loved the sign Kelly’s kids made!  It says, “Kelly wins the race!”  I am sure you parents out there have heard from your kids, “Mom, did you win the race?”  My daughter is convinced that I win almost every race I run because I come home with a medal.  Out of dozens of medals that I have, only two of them were from actual age group awards.
This race was pretty hilly.  Most of the hills were nice rollers.  I am convinced that I prefer rolling hills over pancake flat.  The uphills, save one, weren’t very difficult and the downhills were fun.  Around mile 15, we went onto a bike path where someone wrote in chalk, “weeeeeeeeeee.”  We ran down the slope and said, “weeeeeeee.”  We were having a great time!  Kelly is really good running downhill.  Once upon a time, I told her about letting gravity help her find “free speed” on the hills.  She loves to fly down the hills.  I had a hard time keeping up with her.  Perhaps the student had become the master?  She often is heard saying, “the heavier they are, the faster they fall.”  LOL.  Often, I would let her sprint ahead on the hill and catch her on the flat or uphill.  

Around mile 18-19, Suzy started slowing down a bit.  We had run with her the majority of the race with her and weren’t going to leave her.  At mile 19, she had to stop at a porta potty.  She told us to go ahead and we would see her at the finish.  We were torn.  Kelly was still feeling good, but didn’t want to leave our friend at the toughest part of the race.  Kelly’s sister-in-law (pictured above holding Kelly’s sign) had decided to run the last seven miles with us.  At this point she told us to go on and she would run with Suzy.  It was perfect.  She really helped make the difference for all of this.  She motivated Suzy to keep going and allowed Kelly to finish the race strong.

The weather for the entire race was absolutely perfect.  During the first half, it was in the 50’s and overcast.  I was in a tank top and never felt cold and never felt hot.  I had to remind myself to drink because I didn’t seem to be sweating much.  Around mile 18, it started to rain lightly.  It never rained more than a drizzle; more of a fine mist.  It was the kind of rain that you don’t need to put your windshield wipers on.  The sun came out at the end.  We felt a bit hot right during that last mile, but I don’t think any weather would have felt good at that point.  It was sure nice to have the sun out after finishing.

I kept checking in with Kelly, to see how she was feeling.  She was hurting (as was I) but still feeling good.  We ran most of the first miles right around 10:15.  The latter miles, save one, were under 10:00!  The latter splits were: 9:26(mile 22), 9:33 (mile 23), 11:36 (the big hill at mile 24), 8:57!! (mile 25), 9:26 (mile 26)  I am not sure exactly what our pace was for the last .2 because I forgot to turn my Garmin off right away and I had run a bit extra during the race during my pacing duties.****  Keeping it nice and easy in the beginning allowed Kelly to pick it up at the end.  We passed so many runners that we had seen earlier in the race and it felt great.   I was so impressed with Kelly.  In fact, in those last few miles, I had to switch it into another gear to keep up with her.

The final 300 yards of the race were on a nice all-weather track at the Santa Barbara City College.  I wish EVERY race ended on a track like this.  It felt SO great on my tired feet.  It felt like running on a cloud.  Santa Barbara Marathon final stretchIt is exciting to be able to see the finish line and sprint toward it. The only bad part of the finish was getting to the track.  We had to wind around a maze in the parking lot.  It was a bit annoying. 

I gave Kelly the choice of running across the finish on her own or holding hands.  She wanted to finish together as we had run the entire race.  I can’t wait to see the official race photos!

After the race, we went along the track to cheer for Suzy, as well as some of our buddies we met along the way.  Then we went into the infield and Jen led us in some stretching.  It was the first time I had done a full stretching regime after a race and I think it made a huge difference.IMAG0321
Santa Barbara Marathon stretchingWe went back to the hotel, took a quick shower and then went to lunch.  I have never been super hungry after a marathon.  This time was different.  I was FAMISHED.  I had a hard time ordering, because I wanted one of everything.  In the end, I chose Eggs Benedict, which completely hit the spot.  That might be my post-race meal from now on!  IMAG0326
Kelly and I after we were showered and fed.  Happy Marathoners!!!

Three weeks prior, I had done everything right (training, food, rest etc.) and came away with a disappointing and painful race.  Saturday I feel like I did everything I’m not supposed to do:  I didn’t get sleep, I barely ate the night before (just some snacking in the car), I had been basically tapering since Long Beach, I was stressed out right before the race,.  I came away from Santa Barbara with one of the most enjoyable races I have ever run.  I had a great time and recovered better than any previous marathon.  I know, more than ever, that marathons are an unpredictable animal.  I have learned so much from every single one.

I am very grateful to Kelly for giving me the opportunity to run this race with her.  It was just what I needed to make me realize why I have really come to love running so much.  It is the people that running has brought into my life that really make it worthwhile.

Thanks for reading my long tale.   Happy running…

*I discovered later this week that in my haste and tiredness, I actually set my phone alarm for 5:20 instead of 3:15.  I had my watch set correctly, but I sometimes turn that off without even thinking when it starts beeping.
**note to self: change contact information on  They had my old e-mail address and phone number from San Diego.  As a quick side note…while they did write down this information no one called my cell phone (which was correct).  Also, during our panic the night before, I e-mailed the race people with my problem.  They never did respond to that e-mail, even after the fact.  I didn’t really expect a response, but I was hoping.
***Operator error again!  I later discovered that my iPod was on “lock.”  I think it was a blessing in disguise.  I really enjoyed running without the music and really focused on the social aspect of this race.
****We passed Nikki’s brother around mile 22 or 23!
*****My Garmin shows that I ran 26.48 miles.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Santa Barbara Marathon Race Report—the marathon that almost wasn’t (PART 1)

The Days Before the Race
The day after Long Beach, my friend Kelly told me that she wanted to pay for my entry into Santa Barbara so I could try again for a BQ time.  What an incredibly sweet gesture!  I told her that if I ran Santa Barbara, it would only be to run with her.  Although, at the time, I couldn’t imagine running a marathon in three weeks.  I was having a hard time walking up and down stairs and sitting on the toilet.  I was more sore than I remember being for any other marathon.

On Tuesday, I heard that the Boston Marathon sold out in eight hours.  It wouldn’t matter if I ran a sub-3:50 race in Santa Barbara, 2011 was full.  It was good, because it really took that internal pressure off.  I have a year to worry about running a fast marathon.  Later that week, I told Kelly that if she wanted to “sponsor” me for the marathon it would be as her pacer and coach.  There was nothing more that I wanted than to be there as she finished her first marathon.  I had been there throughout her running journey and it would be the best thing for my mental state to be there with her as she crossed the finish line.  We finally registered me the week of the race after I was sure that my body was fully recovered.  We were both very excited.

The logistics of the race were going to be an issue.  My son had a school talent show on Friday night before the race.  It started at 6 p.m.  I wouldn’t be able to leave for Santa Barbara until after 7:30 p.m.  Once I got on the road, even though it was long after rush hour, I had to fight LA traffic.  The drive was long and I didn’t reach the hotel room until 10:30.  Yikes…so much for getting much sleep. 

Kelly and Lori were in the hotel room getting ready for the morning and Odessa was already sleeping.  Lori was running her first half marathon.  I started to lay out my running stuff and started looking for the bib.  Me: “Where is the bib?” Kelly: “in the bag.” Me, dumping out the contents of the bag: “nope…two shirts*, a hat, a bunch of ads”  Kelly: “Are. You. SERIOUS???  We looked everywhere.  After Kelly mentally retraced her steps, she concluded that when she handed the volunteer her and my envelopes to get one of the shirts, she only received one back.

At this point, Kelly was freaking out.  To be honest, inside I was freaking out a little too.  But it wouldn’t do any good for both of us to freak out.  I said, don’t worry…we’ll be able to figure this out (but inside I was thinking, “omg,omg,omg…whatthehellarewegoingtodo?” ) “I’m sure this isn’t the first time something like this has happened” (but inside I was thinking about all the chaos of the pre-race morning that Danica described in her post-Long Beach blog post).  “I’m sure they can issue a new chip” (thinking, “but Kelly activated the original chip at the expo.”)  “If not, I’ll just run it without a bib and chip… I’m here for you.” (“I will run with Kelly no matter what, but, dang, that is a long way to run to not get a medal or an official time.  I’ll have four marathons and an asterisk.”)

We decided to try to get some sleep.  It was after eleven and we had to get up EARLY.  Well…sleep was an elusive thing.  I could not turn off my brain.  When I wasn’t thinking about the chip and bib (“what if they don’t let me on the bus.”) I was thinking about every random thing in my life (“will my husband get a second interview to a job he is up for?” “did my son get all his props from backstage at the talent show?”  “did I get my driver’s license off the scanner when I copied it for Kelly?”  I didn’t.)  I looked at my watch sometime around 12:30 or 1:00 and Kelly said, “Lisa, you’re killing me…I am SO sorry I lost the envelope!!”  I reached over (we were sharing a bed) and touched her arm and said, “don’t worry, it will all work out fine.”  By this time, I believed it.  I knew it would somehow work out and we would have a great story to tell.
To be continued…

*I have a bit of a gripe with the fact that we have two tech shirts.  When we registered at, it asked if we wanted a technical shirt for an additional $20.  Doesn’t this imply that the race shirt would be a cotton t-shirt??  Kelly, being a generous friend, purchased the additional shirt for me, since that what she did for herself.  We both ended up with two tech shirts.  They are different designs, but to be honest, the “free” race shirt is nicer than the $20 extra shirt.  What is that all about??  I think that smells a bit dishonest!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stealth Marathon

I made such a big deal about Long Beach.  I posted about it for weeks and had people all over the country pulling for me.  When I failed, it was really hard, thinking about all the people cheering for me; all the people I let down.  However, out of that “failure” came such an unbelievable outpouring of support.  I learned that my running was so much more than just something for me.  I had inspired so many of my friends.  I couldn’t let one race spoil my opinion of long distance running and lose faith in myself.  I needed a race that wasn’t about a PR or BQ.  I needed a race that was about the fun of running and what it has been about for me for a while: inspiring and helping my friends.

So I ran another marathon this weekend.  That was my “secret.”  It was my low-key, not-for-PR, all-about-someone-else race.  I didn’t tell anyone (other than my close running friends) so I could get out of my own way and “just do it.”

And I think I found my calling.

I paced my friend, Kelly, in the Santa Barbara International Marathon, her very first marathon.  Her main goal was to finish, of course, but she really wanted to finish under 4:30.  We came in, holding hands, at 4:29!!!  The entire race was perfect.  The weather was perfect (overcast, then drizzly showers around mile 18, with the sun coming out just in time for the finish).  The people were perfect.  We laughed, we made friends and we ran 26.2 miles together.

I learned quite a lot from this experience. I will write up a full race report soon. 

Happy Running...

Friday, November 5, 2010

A couple of giveaways, a little quack attack and a secret…

Check out these giveaways that end this weekend:
*Danica is giving away signed copies of Meb Keflezighi’s book,  Run to Overcome.
*Aron is giving away a great necklace from Anne Franklin Designs.
I went to the University of Oregon.  I am an Oregon duck FAN (of course!).  This year is the best football season for any Oregon fan.  Heck, my parents both went to Oregon State (Oregon’s in-state rival) and even they are cheering for Chip Kelly’s team this year.  Not only do we have a great football team, but one of the best mascots in the country.  Here are a couple of videos for your viewing pleasure.  ;-)

This is a fun video and song about my favorite team.

Here is a clip of how ESPN has featured our Mascot, Ducky.
Lastly, I am going to put a little teaser out there.  I haven’t been writing much about my running lately.  Long Beach was a tough one for me.  I am hoping that tomorrow will help me remember why I love running long distances.  Stay tuned to see if it works.

Happy Running….

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inaugural Los Angeles Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon Race Report

I had the privilege of running the very first LA Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon on Sunday.  It was my friend Shannon’s first half marathon.  One of her friends couldn’t run the race and offered to let me run with his bib.  So for 13.1 miles, I was a 34 year old male named Ken.  ;-)   This was my chance to be there for my friend as well as practice my pacing skills.

Shannon picked me up at the ugly hour of 4:45 a.m.  We had to drive to LA and weren’t sure how the parking was going to be.  We made it up there in great time and found parking easily.  In fact, we parked steps from the shuttle pick up.  We donned our fashionable garbage sacks,* walked right onto a bus** and settled in for the ride up to Griffith Park.  It turns out that getting there that early was a very good idea.  I heard stories later that closer to race time shuttle lines were outrageously long and parking was nearly impossible to find.  I heard that one runner paid $40 for parking.  Yikes!  I thought our $12 fee was steep.
 Shannon is ready to go!

The shuttle ride seemed awfully long for a 13.1 mile race.  Shannon was starting to get a little nervous.  I reassured her that she had done the training and was well prepared for the race.

We got off the bus and walked toward the crowds.  I knew we wanted to use the porta potties a couple of times.  We still had over an hour until start time.  The lines for the porta potties were not long at all.  There were a ton of them.  

DSCN2342Shannon needed to check a bag.  After last week’s bag debacle, I decided to forego mine.  I usually don’t need one for a half anyway.  She walked up to UPS truck #3 which corresponded to her last name.  Simple.  Done.***

We were meeting her friend, Lauren, who had my bib.  While Shannon waited for her, I got back in line for the potty.  Lines were a bit longer now, but the sun was starting to come up and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.  DSCN2343 The guy behind me was super intense and yelling at people to hurry up and annoyed when they didn’t run to the open door immediately.  I wanted to tell him to lighten up.  Seriously.  It is a Rock ‘n Roll half marathon--everyone but him was in a fun mood.  Right as I got to the front, a race official came by with a bullhorn and announced that there were 100 more porta potties closer to the start line.  The guy behind me was annoyed with that too.  You just can’t please some people.

Shannon was nervous.  I was excited.  There were a TON of people and the mood was pretty festive.  We saw some running Elvi (Elvises?) and knew it was going to be a fun race.
Shannon and Lauren 
Still in our garbage sacks because it was still pretty chilly

After another stop at a porta potty, we got into corral 12.  We shed our garbage sacks and were ready to go.  Our corral was right around the middle of the pack, which turned out to be perfect.  It took approximately 16 minutes before our wave went.DSCN2346 DSCN2347 DSCN2349
DSCN2351And then we were off.  I have run with Shannon enough to be familiar with her pace.  I thought we were going a bit fast for her, but as races tend to, it felt like we were barely moving.  I struggled with whether or not I should slow her down or let her run.  She ran a 10K in July in 1:19:22 (a 12:58 pace).  She has trained a lot since then, and she felt great so I let her set the pace a bit.  Looking back, I should have slowed her down just a little in the first few miles.  I think her time would have been about the same, overall, but she may have felt better in the last couple of miles.DSCN2353

Mile 1—11:19
Mile 2—10:58
Mile 3—11:00

The first few miles of the race went through Griffith Park, somewhere I have never been.  It was great.  We ran past the LA Zoo and through the wooded park area.  The course was a gradual downhill at this point.  I was feeling awesome.  My soreness from the marathon was gone.  Running at this pace felt effortless.  I danced and took pictures and was the cheerleader for Lauren and Shannon.

Miles 4,5, and 6 were not very scenic.  They were flat and had very little shade.  The sun was starting to feel hot.  I was regretting my choice of capris over shorts.  There was an out-an-back along I-5 for quite a while.  Ick.  During the 5th mile, both Shannon and Lauren needed to use a potty.  There were several at the aid station, but there was a bit of a line.  That really slowed things down. 
Mile 4—11:44
Mile 5—14:17 (potty break)
Mile 6—12:03

Things were slowing down to a pace that is a bit closer to Shannon’s normal pace.  She was still in good spirits.  She was actually pretty chatty.  I told her that she didn’t have to talk to entertain me, but we had a pleasant conversation.  It was nice.

Lauren stopped for a walk break and told us to go.  She is an experienced runner, but hadn’t trained much for the race and knew she would have to go to a walk/run strategy for the later part of the race.  We wished her well and ran on.  Shannon had worked really hard and I am glad she was comfortable leaving her friend.  She was still feeling good.

DSCN2356As we passed the 10K mat, we noticed the race clock.  Her 10K split was 1:15, which is several minutes faster than her 10K time from July.  I cheered and told everyone around us that Shannon had just run a 10K PR. As you would expect, the runners around us were super supportive.

The race was pretty hilly.  Despite an overall elevation loss, the second half of the race had a lot of hills.  We made sure to take any walk breaks (they were getting a bit more frequent) on uphill sections.  Shannon did a fantastic job of taking advantage of the downhills and let herself fly.  
LA rock 'n roll half marathon


Mile 7—12:10
Mile 8—12:06
Mile 9—12:10

The course went along the Silver Lake Reservoir.  It was a really nice stretch.  There was plenty of shade and we were still having fun.  We ran by an Elvis.  I know he was hot, but when I asked him about it, he replied that his outfit was like a “second skin.”  He was fully in character and bantered with us for a while talking like Elvis.  It was great!
Rock 'n Roll Running Elvis
As we hit the later miles, Shannon started hurting.  Her hamstrings were bothering her and we stopped to stretch at least once.  I keep Tylenol in my hydration belt and offered a couple to her.  At first she declined but then asked for them a mile or so later.  I could tell that she was starting to hurt quite a bit.  I was starting to hurt too.  I even wondered if I should have kept the Tylenol for myself.  My IT Band was starting to ache.  It wasn’t hurting terribly, but I could definitely feel it.  At one point, up a steep hill, I jogged/walked up it backwards which felt really good on my legs.  I learned a very important fact: even if you are running slower than your normal pace, running a half marathon isn’t easy!  No matter what, 13.1 miles is a long way.

The mood throughout the race was very festive.  In addition to running Elvi, there were bands and cheerleaders.  There was even a giant rocker.  It was fun.

The race took us right into downtown LA.  For someone who has never really been to downtown LA, this was pretty cool for me.  It was flat and shady and a nice area.  I am glad there was only a mile or so… just enough.
As my Garmin clicked over to thirteen miles**** we could see where the course turned right toward the finish and could hear the festivities.  She needed one last walk break before the final stretch.  She had really pushed herself that mile or so.

Mile 10—12:12
Mile 11—12:10
Mile 12—11:56
Mile 13—10:26

Shannon had asked me to run ahead at the end to get a picture.  I double checked before I left her, to make sure she didn’t want me with her.  I am so glad I ran ahead.  The picture I snapped is way better than the official one from the race photographer.  Look at that smile!
Shannon's finish Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon
Sprinting into the finish!  Her official time was 2:40:21 (16 minutes after the gun time)

I was/am extremely proud of her!  She is raising two very active boys,  volunteers a ton at the school and works.  The fact that she found time to train for a half marathon is amazing to me.  I love, love, love the fact that my running has connected me with women like her.
Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon Finish
This was my slowest half marathon, but one of my most enjoyable.  I really like to pace my friends—and I think I may have found a calling.  I have a lot to learn, however.  Next time, I need to figure out, in advance, how much I should slow someone down as opposed to letting her set the pace.  I also need to study the course and elevation profile and maybe even bring a copy of the map with me.  I could have been way more helpful if I had any idea what the course was like.  I had no clue on this one; I was completely along for the ride and didn’t even look at it.

Overall, I give it a thumb’s up.  It was a great day to be running and I was able to share a special running moment with one of my running friends.  It was exactly what I needed to remind me of my love of running.

*we thought that the weather would be cold and drizzly as it had been for the past several days.  It was a little chilly and the bags did a nice job of keeping the chill off.
**I was a little nervous because her friend, Lauren, was meeting us at the starting line with her husband’s bib.  All race literature claimed that you could not board the shuttle without a race bib.  I think my garbage sack helped, as well as the fact that runners were filing on the bus and it would have taken a long time for the driver to check under everyone’s jacket, sweatshirt or bag.
***Bag pickup after the race was just as simple.  In fact, she walked up to truck #3 and a volunteer told the guy in the truck her bib number before she got to the table.  Shannon was handed her bag before saying a word.  Flawless. 
****My Garmin ended up showing 13.5 miles.  We did not run the tangents at all, weaved a bit and I ran ahead a few times to snap pictures and then back to run with Shannon.  So all the splits are really just approximations, I suppose.


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