The week of the race we received an email from race director Keira Henninger. At the end of the email was this sentiment: “stay positive, and remember to enjoy the day. Be in the moment. Life goes fast. Someday Saturday will be a faint memory in one of your life chapters. Have fun, and just be stoked to be out on the trails. Its a gift!”

This completely resonated with me and Elisa, and we both approached the race with this in mind.

The Sean O’Brien 50k started at 7am. Around 6:45 we walked over to the starting area, grabbed our bibs, checked out bags (with only our new Patagonia race tech tanks in it) and lined up. We shivered next to each other while we were given a few pointers, much of which we couldn’t hear (save for how to pass other runs). A few minutes later and we were off.

We started towards the group camping at Malibu Creek State Park, up some single track switchbacks (the same ones I started with at the Malibu Canyon 50k), that rolled down the back. I already wanted to pass the girl in front of me, since her stride a little bit shorter than I would like on the downhill portion, but I knew it would open up soon enough.

We came to the creek, but this time it was pumping. There were two options — to grab the rope and run through the creek, or to cautious walk on top of the rocks. Elisa and I both opted for the latter, preferring to avoid soaking our feet less than 2 miles in.

IMG_0616

The first part was pretty much the same as the Malibu Canyon 50k until we reached the first aid station at Corral Canyon. I knew what to expect, as the first climb took us over 1,600 feet in four miles. Going into this we knew we would hike the steep portions and run everything else that we could.

After the Corral Canyon aid station, instead of continuing to head up like the Malibu Canyon 50k, we continued on the Backbone Trail heading west. We popped onto rolling single track that provided a much needed reprieve after all of the uphill. The scenery transitioned from dry chaparral to shaded oaks saving us from the increasing 75 degree temps.

IMG_0670

4.3 miles after the first aid station, we came across the Latigo aid station. I thought this was going to be the last aid station before the turn-around, but was pleasantly surprised there would be another one in just a couple miles (where the marathoners turned around).

At the Kanan aid station we prepped ourselves because we knew there wouldn’t be any aid until we were back there again. I was feeling pretty good at this point (around 14.5 miles) and could hear some volunteers talking about how I looked so fresh (definitely made me feel good and boosted my spirits — damn right I look fresh!!).

The turnaround point was further than I anticipated and I keep wanting it to come around. The goal was always to make it to the halfway point and then we’d be home free!

IMG_0624

 

A little over 16 miles we made it to Zuma Ridge where we received our high-fives before turning around.  Mentally, the out-and-back made it easier. It also made it feel like you weren’t the only one out there because you would pass runners both ways. And it
made the race seem like 2 different courses.

On the way out, I wasn’t focusing on anything but my footing on the downhills (because it wouldn’t be a trail run if I didn’t almost trip several times). So coming back up them seemed like completely different terrain and I kept saying “I don’t remember this.”

Before we hit the Kanan aid station again, I wanted 2 things. Ginger ale then. And beer after (the race). Luckily, at the Kanan aid station THERE WAS GINGER ALE (not just coke). Elisa also informed me there would be beer at the finish line. I sighed the biggest relief like this was the best news I had ever heard. EVER.

IMG_0623

In addition to sharing the single track with other runners, we also had to share it with mountain bikers. It was fine and we pulled off to the side. The one thing that bothered me was one biker who rode by and said “I want to get in this sport, if all you do is walk.” …ok buddy….

We started to make every aid station a destination. We discussed how we would fuel, what we would eat at the next aid station. We also decided how we would celebrate after the race (Blue Ribbon Pizzeria BABY!).

At the last aid station, we were completely pampered. Someone filled my camelback with water, another person added ice. Someone fetched me run goo, ushered me to sit down, and another handed me baby wipes. There was one guy that was so kind and willing to do anything, I would like to hire to be my personal assistant for life!

After Corral Canyon, we knew we would literally be home free. With a big downhill (the uphill of which we had to endure on the way out) was waiting for us!!!

We flew down this but still encountered some uphill that I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t have (but then again, I wasn’t paying attention when it came to any downhill on the way out).

We reached the creek and decided that we would both run through it. I was worried even if I attempted to walk across the rocks, I would fall in anyways. It felt so refreshing, but also made my Hoka’s feel like they had mini puddles inside. My toes started to feel frozen too. I was definitely glad we didn’t run through it the first time!

We knew we had just a little bit left and powered through. I was really proud of how strong we were both running, after 31+ miles. Just a little bit of uphill and then down the switchbacks we started with. We hit the base of the group camping, and the finish line was less than a quarter mile away. Elisa started to pick up the pace and I said “ok badass!!” as I checked the pace and watched it drop to 7:15. We continued with this pace, rounding out to the road. I pulled a little bit ahead and dropped down to a 7 minute pace. One quick turn as we shot by the spectators and into the finish line.

I turned around with Elisa right behind me as we gave each other the biggest embrace. WE DID IT!!! I was so happy and it was such a special feeling I felt the most emotion I ever have at the end of a race and could feel my eyes swell with tears of excitement.

IMG_0643

We were adorned with our cool wooden medals, picked up some ice from the med-tent, grabbed subway sandwiches, and headed for the beer station.

I would definitely recommend the Sean O’Brien 50k. Although it lists all of the distances as challenging and not recommended for first races, I enjoyed it so much! It was a well run and well organized event, with overabundant aid stations, extremely generous and attentive volunteers, and a great course. I will most likely return next year.

I ended up placing 52nd overall and 7th in my age group (Elisa was 53rd and 8th).

IMG_0641

Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (7:28:18):
1 – 11:49
2 – 11:14
3 – 16:43
4 – 19:03
5 – 12:27
6 – 14:09
7 – 11:49
8 – 14:57
9 – 10:50
10 – 15:58
11 – 11:51
12 – 15:00
13 – 12:22
14 – 15:23
15 – 12:40
16 – 12:25
17 – 14:29
18 – 12:37
19 – 17:42
20 – 16:02
21 – 13:21
22 – 18:04
23 – 15:51
24 – 11:00
25 – 13:40
26 – 22:04
27 – 13:33
28 – 11:05
29 – 10:04
30 – 8:46
31 – 11:03
32 – 13:16
Last .82 – 6:46

signature

IMG_0650

This picture basically illustrates how frigid it was on race morning!  It was probably around 35-40 degrees at the start, warming up to around 75-77 degrees during the race.  Luckily, we were able to drop our outer layers and warmer gear at the first aid station around mile 7.5 and pick it up on our way back.  Here’s what I wore during the race:

–GapFit long sleeve
–Lululemon Power Y Tank
–Lululemon Trail Bound Shorts
–Buff Original Buff
–Asics Felicity Fleece Gloves
–Patagonia P6 Trucket Hat
–Injinji Compression 2.0 OTC
Hoka One One Huaka
Body Glide
–GoPro HERO4 Session
–Garmin 620 Forerunner
–Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E.

–Probar Bolt Energy Chews x2
–Lemon Lime Nuun Tabs (x2 split in half)
–PB&J sandwich
–Fig Newtons x 5
–Toilet paper

signature

IMG_0589

This is my emerald year!!! Jupiter is in Virgo, which only happens every 12 years, making it a year of luck and success. In addition to checking my Free People and Refinery 29 horoscopes weekly, Susan Miller is my favorite monthly source of predictions. They’re accurate in a non-fluffy, over generalized fashion. And they’re based on mathematical calculations and planets aligning, so they’ve got to be true!!!!! 😛

A lot of exciting things have been happening. I recently became a Westfield UTC Brand Ambassador. I randomly received a Parkland duffle and backpack in the mail. I grabbed happy hour with the girls from Alternative Strategies. I took over the RACEPLACE Instagram. And I ran my second 50k!

IMG_0605

Elisa and I both took Friday off to slowly make our way up to Malibu. Before we reached the campsite, I had to introduce her to Malibu Farms Cafe at the end of the Malibu pier. We had, what Elisa boldly claimed as “the best sandwich ever.” And I almost lost my keys before the weekend even started, but luckily found they slipped into a bucket underneath the water station.

IMG_0653

We arrived to Malibu Creek State Park with our selection of campsites. It appeared that not too many people were camping before the race, or camping that weekend in general. We set up, and took a long walk on a trail. Before we knew it the sun had set and we were making dinner. After eating another take on the DIY Monk Pot, we sat around the fire and warmed ourselves before retiring into the cold tent to read. Go figure, the two of us didn’t generate much body heat. However, after all the ups and downs in the middle of the night mixed with the early bedtime, we probably rounded out a decent night of rest.

Saturday morning we woke up, made coffee and oatmeal and had a 5 minute walk to the starting line. We grabbed our bibs and lined up in the freezing cold….more on the race to come!

We got a late check-out for our campsite so we were able to pack up after the race. We had our eyes set on a celebration at Blue Ribbon Pizzeria way back in Encinitas, so we made our way back home — dirt, sweat, and all.  Once home we quickly showered and dined on the lemon-infused signature pizza we both love!!

IMG_0652

Sunday morning my dad was in town, so after attempting to sleep in, I met up with him and my brother for brunch at Union. A total treat-yourself weekend (including BeerMosas) was in tow after my big accomplishment Saturday :-0  Then we went to REI where I got a backpacking backpack (no trip in mind yet), and then shopped for the big Super Bowl Party for the 3 of us 😛

All in all it was a great weekend and I’m still living on a high from the race (and also soaking in my rest days).  Now to find the next 50k… *insert devil emoji*

Weekly Workout Recap (1/31-2/6):
Sun – Hot Yoga
Mon – Rest
Tues – Rest
Wed – 5 mi + Hot Yoga
Thurs – 5.5 mi
Fri – Rest
Sat – SOB 50k 32.85 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 43.35 mi
Hours cross-training: 2
2016 miles: 116.6 mi

signature

Lately I’ve been trying to cut down on my expenses.  And after I looked at my spending and habits, the most costly and reoccurring expense is going out to eat.  So to change this, I’ve decided to try and make some of my favorite restaurant meals at home.  One of my favorite go-to’s is East Village Asian Diner Monk Pots.  This isn’t an exact replication, but my take on the concept.  I was overwhelmingly surprised with how f*cking tasty this was.  As a result, I’ve ended up eating this 6 nights in the past 2 weeks.

IMG_0559

DIY Monk Pot

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 bags frozen rice
1 zucchini, sliced into matchsticks
1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 package shredded carrots
1 large can garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 bag baby spinach
3-4 eggs
Olive oil
Equipment: cast iron skillet and wok-sized pan
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook the rice according to instructions (totally cheating using frozen rice. Option to cook rice like a normal person).
  2. Place the cast iron skillet over medium heat and heat the olive oil.  Add cooked rice and let it sit and crisp.
  3.  In the meantime, separately, place the wok-sized pan over medium heat and heat olive oil.  Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook until al dente.
  4. Add shredded carrots and garbanzo beans.  Cook until it warms and softens.  Finally stir in the spinach and cook for one more minute.
  5. Towards the end, in a separate pan, cook an egg over easy.  Cook 1 egg per serving.

If you’re eating alone, this will last you 3-4 nights.  I ususally serve myself 1 cup of rice and 1 heaping cup of veggies, topped with 1 egg.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, a little soy sauce and some sweet chili sauce!

This is super simple, delicious and filling.  If you try it out, let me know what you think!

 

signature

 

IMG_0560

Last week I had a sudden realization that I don’t have to wait until it’s pitch black outside to go for a run. If I run immediately after work, I can catch the last of the sun, the sunset, and the remaining light in the sky. And I couldn’t work in a better place to run right out the door. With the ocean only a block away, there’s literally no way to go wrong. Whether I run atop the sandstone bluffs that tower the ocean, or follow the mini residential alleyways that parallel the beach, I’m rewarded with sweeping views, a cool breeze, and the fresh scent of foliage.

It’s one of those runs you take for granted. You run so often you get sick of it. It’s not until you completely take it out of your routine that you begin to appreciate and enjoy it again.

I realized that running is really important to me. Without it, I get incredibly antsy and irritable, where I feel like I’m crawling in my skin.  I need it for therapy, but not just to think.  Mainly to keep moving.  To be active, alive and to keep myself sane.

I went through a brief phase (about 2 weeks) where I was feeling pretty run down. I’d go to bed Friday night after not doing much but maybe grabbing one beer. I’d sleep in on Saturday, for over 10+ hours and still feel incredibly tired and groggy. I had an unbearable 3 mile run that made me question why I was running. I thought I was overdoing it with yoga. I thought I was just burning out in general.

But then I reassessed what changed in my routine and realized that maybe taking blood pressure medicine when you already have low blood pressure isn’t the best for your energy levels. So I stopped that. Immediately. And now, I’m back to feeling like me.

IMG_0575 2

However, something else has changed. Lately my running motivation is not the same. I’m signed up for Mountains 2 Beach in May, with the intention of re-qualifying for Boston. However, I don’t know if I’m in the right mindset or dedicated enough to train hard. I feel like I need to get back to the place where I run for fun, run for me, and run to enjoy the run.

I’m looking forward to this weekend at the Sean O’Brien 50k with Elisa. We’ll be camping. Running trails. Enjoying the ultra running community. And I’ll also be taking over the @RACEPLACE Instagram Friday through Sunday. So make sure to follow me on my personal and the RP Instagram!

Weekly Workout Recap (1/24-1/30):
Sun – 4.5 mi Joshua Tree hikes
Mon – Power Yoga
Tues – Rest
Wed – 6 mi
Thurs – 6.5 mi
Fri – Rest
Sat – 10 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 22.5 mi
Hours cross-training: 3.5 hours
2016 miles: 73.25 mi

signature

IMG_0558

Sunday it rained.  And I couldn’t have been any happier.  It was the perfect excuse to sleep in, make no plans, and do absolutely nothing (and be ok with it).  My biggest plan for the day was to run some errands and make this soup.  This was my first time making curry, and I’ll definitely be making it again.  Maybe next time I’ll put it atop a bed of rice to add some texture and also extend the life of this soup 😉

See the Anything-You-Have-Coconut Curry Soup from Pinch-Of-Yum for the recipe.

For the “Anything-You-Have” toppings I used shaved carrots and zucchini, red cabbage and bean sprouts.

signature

IMG_0556

Last week I had the opportunity to review Sun Basket. Sun Basket is a meal kit delivery service, shipping fresh organic ingredients from west coast farmers directly to you.  With accompanying quick and healthy recipes developed every week, this makes weeknight dinners easy. I received 3 meals for 2 people. For the week, I selected:

  • Grilled shrimp and blood orange-jicama salad with salsa verde
  • Burmese pork and vegetable stew with lemongrass
  • Turkey-apple sausage, beet-apple salad, walnut vinaigrette

IMG_0554

I loved this because it gave me the opportunity to entertain. The first night I invited London over for the grilled shrimp and blood orange-jicama salad with salsa verde. It was a light and refreshing meal packed with protein.

IMG_0557

The next night I had Kevin over for the Burmese pork and vegetable stew with lemongrass. This soup was very warming, super fragrant with a robust flavor.

Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to make the turkey-apple sausage, beet-apple salad with walnut vinaigrette meal.

I loved how Sun Basket introduced me to new flavors and new meal ideas. These were super easy to put together with all of the ingredients exactly portioned out so nothing went to waste. Definitely makes living a healthy and active life more streamline and easy!

For only $11.49 per meal (per person), I think this is a great deal. It will definitely get you in the kitchen and save you time (grocery shopping, prepping, portioning). And with paleo, gluten-free and vegetarian options, there’s something for everyone, regardless of your dietary preferences or restrictions.  Sun Basket is currently available to be shipped to California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada.

signature

 

Before we left on our Jtree trip, I made a menu that tried to roll over ingredients from dinner to breakfast to condense our load and pantry.  No room for excess/full bottles of condiments and booze!

We made this for the ULTIMATE pre-hike, hearty, loungy Sunday camping brunch.  Basically…we killed the camp food game!  Honestly, if I had a restaurant I would serve this to you.  So give it a shot, camping or at home, and let me know what you think!

unnamed

Savory Breakfast Oats
Serves 2
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup water
2 Italian sausages (pre-cooked)
1 container sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 avocado
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil water and add oats.  Cook until water is absorbed.
  2. Separately, simmer the mushrooms until cooked.
  3. Heat the sausages until internally warm.  Cut into slices.
  4. Cube avocado and crumble feta.
  5. When you’re almost ready to serve, cook eggs.  We tried to make these a little runny, but they kind of steamed all the way through.
  6. Evenly divide between two plates and layer oatmeal, mushrooms, sausages, avocado, cheese and egg.

signature

IMG_0449

As I’ve read, Joshua Tree is not one for bountiful trails and hikes say for like Yosemite NP.  However, it’s filled with what I would call points of interest (such as Arch Rock and Skull Rock), that are easily accessible and less than 1 mile off the paved road.

Originally I wanted to do The Lost Palms Oasis hike, one of the longer hikes in the park (around 7 miles).  However, once we arrived we realized this located near Cottonwood Campground, roughly 30 miles away from us.  So instead, we decided to do 2 shorter hikes — the first one classified as a “challenging hike,” and the second as a “short walk/nature trail.”

Both of these hikes were easy to find from the road, clearly indicated by wayfinding signage.  The hikes themselves were well maintained and straight-forward.  For example, we thought finding the petroglyphs would be more challenging, but even they had signs pointing towards them.

IMG_0453

IMG_0454

Ryan Mountain — “challenging hike,” 3 miles out-and-back with 1,000 feet elevation gain.  The total elevation ends up being a little over 5,000 feet, with sweeping 360 views of the entire park, Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio.

IMG_0455

Barker Dam — “short walk/nature trail,” 1.5 mile loop, with the only body of water in the park and Indian Petroglyphs.

I’m glad we did Ryan Mountain first.  Although it is deemed a strenuous hike, we had no problem going up and down this within an hour and 30 minutes, with a prolonged break at the top.  If we had only “hiked” Barker Dam, I think we both would have been fairly disappointed, although the Indian Petroglyphs definitely made up for this (we were so stoked and intrigued!!!).

IMG_0456

signature

IMG_0450

Where do you camp when all the campgrounds are full in Joshua Tree?

With no real plans except for a few campsites in mind (e.g. White Tank, Jumbo Rocks) Kevin and I arrived at Joshua Tree National Park late on Saturday afternoon to a full park.

We were informed that the only campground with open sites was Cottonwood.  However, Cottonwood was 30 miles away within the park, basically at the South entrance/exit.  So instead, we decided to weigh our options and scout out the backcountry sites.

I had read of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping which is free and primitive camping outside the National Park (and from what I’ve read quite desolate).  However, we found out that you can do dispersement camping (pack-in, pack-out) at designated Backcountry Boards inside the park.  These are located throughout the park (look on the map for the blue B’s).  All you need to do is find the Backcountry Board, and fill out a free permit that basically provides the information for your car (so you can park overnight) and some accountability for yourself going out there.  The only real restriction to backcountry camping is that you must be 1 mile from the road and 500 ft from any trails.

IMG_0448

After driving through the White Tank campground and realizing that even though all of the sites are divided by huge boulders, there is still a lack of privacy.  Going off the grid was exactly what we both wanted, needed and liked (camping is all about isolation!).  We ended up using the Twin Tanks location (you can see 12 other spots within JTNP here).  With just enough time to carry 2 loads from the car (we’ve worked on condensing since our first dispersement camping experience) and set up camp, we took a hike to the nearest rock formation.  After climbing about 50 feet up, we reached the top for the most majestic sunset.

I find that camping in completely remote locations is the best way to disconnect and relax.  With no cell reception, and the sun serving as your gauge of time, it’s easy to lose yourself into complete stillness and tranquility.

We also happened to catch the full moon which illuminated our little valley like a spotlight!

IMG_0451

I feel like after 24 hours in Joshua Tree, we had a pretty good understanding for the park.  Even though I had done some research prior, it’s always hard to place things in perspective and know how they all relate!

signature

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: