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In honor of #OptOutside, Kate, Andy and I hit the trails running a little northeast from us in Escondido. Originally we were looking to go to Julian/Cuyamaca, but the low temps (30 vs. 55) and the potential for rain convinced us otherwise. Instead, we ended up doing a trail run I’ve completed a couple times with my running group. In fact, the last time I visited was last January, before I realized I was incredibly sick with food poisoning.

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Anyways, Raptor Ridge is part of the larger Coast to Crest Trail in the San Dieguito River Park, and pretty straightforward. It’s a well designated, wide path that is easily accessible right off the freeway.

What I call the Raptor Ridge trail is around 10.5 miles round trip (5.19 out an 5.19 back). We went the morning after some rain, so while it was muddy, it wasn’t too bad.

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Around mile 4 the trail changes to a single track (this is considered the “Raptor Ridge” trail) and starts the ascent to the top. And while it was tricky (requiring a few walking breaks in which Andy turned around and said “you guys coming?!”) the view from the top was worth it!

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And the best part about going up is that you get to go down! We ended up negative splitting this trail. By the time we hit mile 9 we were ready to be back to the car and turned the pace into a tempo run, dropping down into the 7’s.

My favorite thing about trail running, especially in the middle of San Diego, is how it makes you feel so displaced. Like you’re hundreds of miles away in a completely different area. We all agreed and loved how it felt like such a quintessential fall afternoon, from the color of the leaves, the wafting scent of plant-life and greenery, and the crisp chill of the air.

Raptor Ridge

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Entrance: 12301 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025
Route: Start off at Mule Hill trail and follow the trail signs for Raptor Ridge trail/viewpoint
Miles: 10.5 mi out-and-back

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Happy Black Friday!  Hope you are all following the REI movement and choosing to #OptOutside.  Kate, Andy and I went out and hit the trails running in Escondido earlier today.

Yesterday I ran the Encinitas Turkey Trot.  This is my third time running this course (last year’s Turkey Trot and the Cardiff Kook 5k).  For this race I didn’t really know what to expect.  I haven’t done any type of speed work in months, and I ran this race following an 11 mile run the day before…My goal was somewhere in the 21 minute range.  For some reason my results didn’t track, but luckily I was running this for fun and caught my time on my Garmin (good enough for me).

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This year the 5k started at 8am.  Around 6:45am I jogged over from Kendall’s house to the start.  I met up with Graham, picked up my bib and hung around with all my fellow SSRC-ers who all ran the 10k.  After they took off (7:30am) I met up with Jen and Tyler as we waited for the 5k start.  It’s self-seeded so I tried to get as close to the front as possible.  I started off slower behind a group off people and just tried to run by feel.  I also tried to run with music but my headphones were falling out/banging against my ear piercings so I just decided to wrap them up and just run.

It’s hard to do recaps on 5k’s because there’s not much too them!  I love 5k’s though because even though they’re hard, they’re done so fast.  This one hurt (more respiratorily than physically) but it was a good way to start an increasingly busy Thanksgiving Day!

Splits according to my Garmin (20:52):
1 – 6:52
2 – 6:52
3 – 6:45
0.1 – 0:21

Did you run a Turkey Trot yesterday?  Did you choose to #OptOutside today?

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A couple Saturdays ago, Elisa and I packed up in the Subi and headed east to Ramona for Cedar Creek Falls/Devil’s Punch Bowl.  After purchasing the $6 permit to visit the falls, we were warned — what goes down must come up.  Little did she know we would go down, up, down, and up!

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With our Camelbak’s full and loaded with pb&j sandwiches we hit the trails.  Starting with a descent, we flew down the switchbacks 2.5 miles until we came to 3 splits in the road.  We headed left towards the Julian entrance of the route.  After 2 miles of climbing that we briskly walked up, we turned around to run down the hill.  IMG_9680

At the base of the hill we turned down the split that leads to Cedar Creek Falls.  Although the waterfall was dried up, there was still a good amount of stagnant water.  We stopped, ate our sandwiches and people watched in nature.  It was good to test out potential ultra fuel, especially because I LOVE to talk about training, fueling and eating pb&j sandwiches.  After our brief reprieve, we headed out with our intentions to run and tackle the hill back into Ramona as much as possible.

We had some fun racing a group of egotistical boys that we successfully beat.  10 miles complete, at the peak of the day!  What goes down went down, up, down and up successfully without the need of first responders.

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This trail was perfect for a mix of trail running and power hiking.  It was a well designated path, and less of a challenge (I would rate it moderate) than the Three Sisters Hike I had completed the day before.

Cedar Creek Falls/Devil’s Punch Bowl 
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Entrance: 15519 Thornbush Rd, Ramona, CA 92065
Route: Follow the trail.  When you come to the three splits in the road, head left (onto Eagle Peak Rd).  When you reach the top, turn around and follow the trail to Cedar Creek Falls.  After you reach the falls, head out and retrace your steps back up the hill to Ramona.
Miles: 10.25 mi
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For the longest time I was anti-trail running. Varied terrain meant slower paces, more obstacles. However, in the past 6-9 months I would say that that mentality has changed. I realized after my race in SF that I would say 85% or more of my running is primarily trail-based. And I love it. Seriously caught the running bug with the perfect combo of running with friends on trails. And now, what do you know…I get to do it for 31 miles!

For the next couple of weeks leading up to my first 50k trail run, I will be sharing my favorite trail runs. This week we start off with San Elijo Lagoon, a definite staple in my weekly mileage. Whether it’s a traditional 6 mile run with Elisa, or a long run with several miles tacked on in the lagoon, I find myself doing a good portion of my miles here.

San Elijo Lagoon

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Entrance: The end of North Rios Ave in Solana Beach
Route: Head east on the trail, towards the freeway overpass. Follow the Solana Hills Trail and go under the overpass. Hop on the Dike/Levee Trail, until you reach La Orilla Trail, which you will follow until you hit the street at El Camino Real (Rancho Santa Fe). Turn around and follow back. Option to take the lower trail when you’re coming back west of the 5 fwy.
Miles: ~6 miles

For more info visit here.

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SURPRISE!  I signed up for my first 50k on December 12th — the Malibu Canyon 50k.  Piggybacking off the training and mileage I established for the NYC Marathon, I’m excited to embark on this new and fun adventure, with absolutely no expectations.  Although I originally signed up to do this with my (future) ultrarunning buddies who are no longer able to do the race, I’m still committed to filling up the next couple of weekends with long runs on Saturday (~2 hours) followed by longish trail runs on Sundays (2-3 hours).

This past weekend London and I visited Malibu Creek State Park for a quick overnight camping trip, with the intentions of checking out parts of the 50k trail.  While we didn’t actually end up surveying the route (damn Daylight Savings time making the sunset at 4:45pm…), we did come up with some good camp hacks, tips and recipes to share.

So stay tuned for a lot of trail running and a little camp vibes content coming soon!!

 

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Chafing sucks. And if anyone tells you they don’t chafe after a long run, they’re probably lying (or incredibly lucky). There are a myriad of reasons and factors that effect chafing. And I’m not ashamed to tell you mine occurs after a good number of miles of skin-to-skin and fabric-to-skin.

To avoid this during runs, I use Body Glide. It’s something I’ve learned to just add to the running pack. For training runs I’ll just apply it to my inner thighs. And for races I’ll apply it to anywhere I might rub (usually inner thighs, armpits, and back where my tank top hits). It helps to create a slicker layer so whatever normally chafes will glide instead of rub.

However, there are some times when you can’t stop the friction and you’ve got to react with some damage control. When I do chafe, I use Skinfix Rash Repair Balm to help with irritation. This helps to create a soothing and restorative layer for when I end up with inner thighs that look like a cat attacked them, or a burning sensation when I step in the shower. I like Skinfix because it’s made with natural ingredients, and free of steroids and parabens. It’s also good for other uses (e.g. razor burn and insect bites), so it’s a multi-functional product.

So there ya have it. My 2 ways to deal with chafing. Preventative: Body Glide. Reactive: Skinfix Rash Repair Balm.

How do you deal with chafing?

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My Instagram post (which is the only paragraph caption I think I’ll ever write) basically sums up this race to the best of my ability — “Today I ran with no plan. After the summer off and only 2 months of training my goal was to make the ‪#‎tcsnycmarathon‬ as enjoyable as possible…and to have fun! I ran by feel, determination and some personal competition.  I stopped every time I felt like I needed to pee (3x) and filled my water bottle up at several stations.  The weather was perfect and the experience was unbeatable! I finished strong with an official time of 3:50:26 and I feel very lucky and inspired to have been able to run with ‪#‎teamCAF‬! *end paragraph*”

But if that’s not enough, here’s the full scoop:

The New York City Marathon is hard to describe. It’s something that should be on your bucket list one way or another (lottery, qualification or fundraising). The opportunity we had was unquantifiable. Jen and I fundraised and went as part of team CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation).

I was nervous about the late start (10am) because I am the type of person that wakes up, shoves a bar in my mouth, and heads out to line up for a race. I didn’t know how eating and pooping (to be completely honest) would work with such a lull in time. However, the delayed start also made the race seem like a long run without all of the anxiety and anticipation that comes when you have to wake up and immediately run.

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CAF partners with FDNY and subsequently NYPD, and as part of our team perks, we received SUPER VIP treatment. Race morning we were instructed to meet in front of Park Central Hotel at 6am for the special shuttles that would take us over to Staten Island. Because Jen and I registered so late, normally we would have had to take the ferry over. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with any potential seasickness and were able to travel by land. The bus left around 7am and we arrived to Staten Island around 8am. At this time we thought we would be placed in the Charity Village, however, we were dropped off at a completely separate area reserved exclusively for Team FDNY/NYPD with heated tents, food, coffee and porta-potties.

Here’s how my wake up/eating schedule went down:
5:15 wake-up
5:30 eat buttermilk biscuit with strawberry peach jam and drink cup of coffee
5:50 walk over to Park Central
6:45 get on shuttle
7:00 depart for Staten Island
7:45 wake up from brief shuttle nap and eat larabar
8:00 arrive to Staten Island
8:15 drink cup of coffee
8:30 eat first half of almond butter & strawberry peach jam sandwich on a mini brioche loaf
9:10 eat second half of sandwich

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The morning was warm for being New York in November. There was no wind (even compared to the day before) and I felt fine in my sexy Target throwaway sweats. I ended up wearing my race day outfit (tank, shorts and compression socks) layered with an old stained lululemon tech longsleeved top (to also be tossed), and sweatsuit, plus gloves if necessary.

Around 9:10am we left this staging area and walked towards where we would line up for our corrals. Even though my wave didn’t start until 10:15am, the wave 2 corrals opened at 9:15am and closed at 9:40am. I split up from the rest of the group as I headed towards blue start. I shed my sweatpants. Then slowly my other garments. I kept my gloves on just incase the bridge was exceptionally cold, and in that case at least my extremities would be warm and help make everything else feel ok.

The race is divided into 3 different colors — green, orange and blue. These 3 groups start in different areas, and merge together after mile 2. The difference is how the 3 groups run across the Verazzano Bridge. I was in blue and we crossed over the top. Jen was in green and ran underneath.

The first half mile I was seriously worried. My legs felt heavy and I was worried this was going to be the longest, slowest and most miserable race of my life. I was worried that, even though I tapered the week before, maybe I didn’t take it easy enough the week before (post half-marathon when I only took 1 day off from running).

After the Verazzano Bridge you enter Brooklyn from mile 2 to 12. I knew this going in and kind of just wanted to get out of Brooklyn ASAP because I knew it would take up a good portion of the race.  However, the crowds were robust and I found myself scanning the sidelines in the off chance I might recognize someone (haha).

It’s hard for me to write about the rest of the race because as much as I tried to pay attention, it now all seems like a blur. The second bridge, Pulaski Bridge brought us over to Queens where you spend miles 13 to 15 (I believe).

Mile 15 to 16 is supposed to be the hardest over Queensboro Bridge because it’s an incline and no crowds are allowed on the bridge.  However, I am weird and almost preferred running on the bridges, because it would knock out 1 to 2 mile sections at a time. For instance, I preferred the silence of Queensboro Bridge over First Avenue, even though First Ave was probably the most populated area next to Central Park. But I felt like it just went on and on and on into infinity.

After spending about 3.5 miles on First Ave, you cross Willis Ave Bridge into the Bronx, where you’re in and out within a mile and a half. I knew mile 21 we would enter back into Manhattan via 138th Street Bridge. We passed by one side of Central Park on Fifth Ave and my goal was to just keep moving. This drag lasted from 21 to 25 before you round the corner onto Central Park South, around Columbus Circle and back into the park.

I stopped for the bathroom at 4, 10 and 20. I also stopped for water, and at first I would just grab the cups and drink them, but it worked out better for me to stop off to the side for a couple seconds and refill my bottle. Because honestly I didn’t care about my time. I was also worried stopping in the later miles would make it hard to get going again, but I ended up feeling so much better and refreshed after every stop. My goal was to get to mile 10, to get to mile 18, and to get to mile 20. At 23 I knew just a 5k more, and at 24 I was ready to be done but knew I could make it 2 more miles. I started picking up the pace, bobbing and weaving and just flying by everyone. It felt pretty empowering and exhilarating!

I have read a good number of recaps that consider the bridges hills, but honestly, I can’t really remember any of them being “hills.”  They were more like ascents followed by descents (on which I told myself to stretch my legs out).  It’s not necessarily a hard course, just hard in terms of humanity and obstacles (water cups, banana peels, sticky gus, etc.) Because there were ALWAYS people. I would look ahead and think that it would come to a complete gridlock. But it also gave me chills and motivation to know that there were that many people running the race and “I CAN DO THIS TOO!”

I ran based on feel, but after running M2B significantly faster, I knew my threshold. The last two miles I really pumped it, dropping my pace down to 7:44, 7:38 and 7:23 for my last half mile. I’m glad we walked/ran the finish line area before because the finish line was kind of inconspicuous and I knew to expect that the downhill in Central Park would be followed by a subtle incline to the finish line (which I literally picked up my feet and felt like I was climbing with large strides).

After the finish line, rather than having to walk to 77th Street (where people who opted for ponchos got to exit) or 81st Street where the rest of humanity got to exit, we got to exit with team FDNY/NYPD at 69th Street. Afraid I was going to miss my exit, I asked the first policeman I encountered, and he told me I had 2 more blocks to go up, and that I still needed to get my medal. Oh yeah! That thing!

I grabbed my recovery bag and headed out. My question for everyone was “how do I get out of here?” I also walked past Marcus Samuelsson (from the Food Network) who I didn’t recognize or realize at the time besides the fact that his bib said “MARCUS” and I remembered seeing a sign during the race that said “Go Chef Marcus S” (I just assumed it was a local chef). Later, cross-checking on Instagram I confirmed it was him.

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I headed towards the family reunion section “A” where I thought I was going to meet Jen’s daughter, Tyler. I was walking along with the walking dead until I got really tired of walking so slow. And being an annoying and crazy maniac I started to power walk and weave around everyone. I think this helped to keep the blood flowing in my legs… I mean I just ran 26.2 miles…I have no patience!! 😛 When I got to “A” it was around 2:11 and I projected that I would get there around 2:15. But I didn’t see Tyler and couldn’t remember if I was just supposed to meet her back at the hotel. So I kept moving and followed the crowd out of the family reunion section until I realized that it was heading back into Central Park and towards the race. Not seeing an exit that way, I found the next policeman (again, full of so many questions!!) and said “I just need to get to 54W St, how do I get out of here?” She looked at my bib and said, right this way, and let me walk through the center of Columbus Circle that was blocked off to all traffic and everyone else!!!! It was insane.

This race was FILLED with inspiration. I don’t think at any time I wasn’t surrounded by someone from a different country. There were people from Achilles running with guides which provided additional inspiration. It was a great way to experience the entire city of New York, and to see all of the boroughs, especially for my first time. It ended up making the run feel just like a long exploration of the city!

My official time was 3:50:26, but I stopped my watch every time I stopped for a bathroom, so my watch recorded 3:47:49.

All in all it was a great experience and I feel so fortunate to have been able to run the NYC Marathon!

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Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (3:47:49):
1 – 8:46
2 – 8:06
3 – 8:27
4 – 8:28
5 – 8:27
6 – 8:35
7 – 8:32
8 – 8:41
9 – 8:53
10 – 8:37
11 – 8:42
12 – 8:40
13 – 8:58
14 – 8:45
15 – 8:46
16 – 9:57
17 – 8:40
18 – 8:36
19 – 8:47
20 – 8:44
21 – 8:54
22 – 8:30
23 – 8:39
24 – 8:39
25 – 7:44
26 – 7:38
Last .46 –3:23

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This was my third year running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, my first half marathon of the year and my 18th half marathon overall.

All of the Finish Line girls (me, Andy, Evann and Angela) stayed at the Hilton located on O’Farrell St. so we were a little over a block away from Union Square. I had set alarms for 5:00, 5:10 and 5:15 and finally got out of bed around 5:30 (actually I just sat in bed and ate my larabar and banana breakfast). By 6:00 I was finally dressed, and by 6:15 Fit Andy and I headed out the door. We arrived to the start of the race around 6:23, with about 7 minutes to spare. Andy and I were seated in the first wave, however, the entry to our area was for both the 7-7:59 and 8-8:59 waves which made lining up a little bit hectic.

With the sound of the first alarm, we were off! However, we spent the first 2 miles bobbing and weaving through the crowds. We were off to a slow start and even had to walk a few steps within the first tenth of a mile because it was so congested.

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One of the eerie things about this race is running in the dark for around 50 minutes.  By the time we entered Golden Gate Park (around mile 4/5) it was starting to get lighter. If you followed the @finishlineusa Snapchat account, you would have seen that I tried to take a picture of the waterfall. But because I was running (and the fact I hadn’t mastered the art of taking pics while running yet — something I finally got the hang of around mile 8/9) it was blurry 😛

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We entered the Richmond District around mile 8, which had a fairly steep hill lined by typical SF style homes. But the sky was so pretty with a flurry of pinks and blues, and clouds resting on the horizon.

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Around mile 9 we reached the Presidio, and somewhere around here I lost Andy.  At mile 10 we were faced with the biggest and longest hill of the race.  This hill lasts around 1/2 a mile to 3/4 of a mile. However, at this point I felt like I began to experience a runner’s high. I started to get chills from the excitement, the breeze and the view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The one thing I couldn’t wait for was the downhill. At one point I looked down at my watch and I was running sub 6….I remembered that last year I felt like I should have excelled during this part of the race, but had issues with my knee. Unlike last year, I didn’t run a marathon the week before and felt fairly energized through this part of the race. I paid extra attention to my form, and just kind of let my legs roll. It helped to pick up speed during the downhill and return to a normal stride that ended up being faster than normal pace just because of the momentum of the downhill.

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I think one of my specialities is pacing myself and leaving some reserves in the tank. For the last 2 miles I felt like I killed it. These miles felt effortless and like I had so much left in the tank to sustain a fast and exerted effort. It was so much fun to run pass people that were trudging through the last couple of miles. Usually I feel like I’m really forcing the pace, but this time I felt smooth and mentally strong knowing that I could do and hold anything/pace for ~1 mile.

One of the most deceptive parts of this race is the finish line. You can’t really see it as you’re approaching the end. It’s a straightaway followed by a left turn and a right turn immediately into the finish line. This was something I learned from running the course last year.

I would summarize the course as a mix of street and greenery, with an equal number of hills to downhills.  The scenery is always changing which makes the course seem to fly by quickly. I wouldn’t recommend it as a first-timers course (unless you’re properly trained for it), but it seems to be a favorite amongst all walks of runners.

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Andy and I did not set any goals for ourselves. Our plan was to just have fun and run by feeling. I knew I wanted to run around a 1:45ish safely, and I ended up just doing that.
Towards the end of the race I thought I saw a 1:39 pacer (don’t know why this pacer would exist) but it was actually 1:50. I think my mind was just playing games, mixed with a little bit of wishful thinking.

Although not a PR, I ended up getting a course PR for this Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:44:25):
1 – 8:50
2 – 8:32
3 – 8:17
4 – 7:54
5 – 7:54
6 – 7:33
7 – 7:38
8 – 8:03
9 – 8:06
10 – 7:42
11 – 8:06
12 – 7:00
13 – 7:06
Last .28 – 1:37

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Thanks again to Finish Line for the opportunity to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF! #FNLrunsSF!!!

See last year’s recap // See 2013 recap

And we’re off! This morning we’ll be taking the streets of San Francisco. Make sure to follow along on Snapchat as Fit Andy and I will be taking over the @finishlineusa account!  Here’s the gear I’ll be wearing (and don’t make fun of my Hokas!!!).

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–Larabar
Skinfix  Rash Repair Balm
–CLIF Shot Blocks
Garmin 620 Forerunner
–Ipod shuffle
Stance Run Threshold Crew
Body Glide
–Lululemon Turbo Run Shorts
–#FNLRunsSF tank (similar style here)
Hoka One One Huaka

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Here’s my playlist for this weekend’s race.  I’m pretty sure 85% of it consists of Big Gigantic (thanks to Kendanimall and KAABOO when we saw them live).  The rest is kind of electronic/EDM…just the stuff with the higher BPM to keep cadence, rhythm and pace up up up.

What’s your favorite new song to listen to while you run?

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