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The La Jolla Half Marathon. Back in 2010 this was my first half marathon ever. I thought it was kind of a one-and-done type of thing. Not even this race specifically, just half marathons in general. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon — 6 years, 4 La Jolla’s and 20 half marathons later…here we are.

The race started at 7:30am at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. I thought I was being smart coming from the north and exiting on Lomas Santa Fe to Stevens Ave. However, instead of being able to cross over Via de la Valle to the Del Mar Fairgrounds parking lot, cars were forced to turn left and head east. I ended up flipping a U and parking in the surrounding neighborhood. I ate a little more of my oatmeal, lubed up with body glide, fastened by bib and walked over to the start. I had to go to the bathroom so I easily slid into the Del Mar Surfside Race Place hall where I waited in a short line of 4 people. I exited the bathroom and had a brisk jog to the start. I popped into wave 2 and waited 2-3 minutes before the race officially began.

It was already hot and I knew by the time I hit the first aid station I’d be taking water. I didn’t bring a water pack but I probably should’ve. I mean, I carried my fanny pack last week on a 6 mile trail run in the lagoon (and even though I felt like an absolute kook it was completely necessary). I didn’t have a playlist prepared so I ended up just listening to my NYC Marathon playlist (and I forgot, it’s actually a good one!). I didn’t pay much attention to my pace, I knew I just needed to listen to my body since I haven’t run over 10 miles since my last ultra in the beginning of February…

This course I pretty much know like the back of my hand (but probably even better than that). From working in Del Mar for the past 4 years, to attending UCSD the 4 years prior, these are all streets and routes I’m very familiar with. The race traces the coast from Del Mar, through Torrey Pines State Park Natural Reserve, past UCSD, down La Jolla Shores, and into La Jolla Cove.

The hardest thing for me was the heat. I should’ve worn a hat to 1. catch some of my sweat that started mixing with my sunscreen and dripping into my eyes and 2. for some sun protection because my face felt burnt and completely dried out by the end.

One of the best parts was coming from Stratford Court before 4th Street in Del Mar. I encountered Dallas from Run North County Monday Night Runs. I trekked the short but steep hill up 4th Street and saw Bartley (from Run North County too), then Susan and Marc from Seaside Striders. Just seeing everyone gave me a little pep in my step. After this brief incline we were rewarded with a downhill before we came to Torrey Pines and I started to feel a literal runner’s high. But to the point where my body felt no connection to my brain and I might actually pass out.

So for the first time while running this race, I walked (most) of Torrey Pines. While everyone else continued to run around me, I kind of had to tell myself “who cares what everyone else is doing.” Because I knew if I tried to run the whole hill mountain, I would have died. I channeled my “ultra” mentality and power walked most of the hill, with quick and smooth bursts of running, in which I actually passed people who continued to run while I took my walking breaks.

After exiting Torrey Pines State Park, the course transitions into the rolling hills on Torrey Pines Rd. Usually this road can seem arduous and long, but I don’t even remember where my head was. Maybe texting people (lol)… because I found myself pulling off to the side to semi-walk and text. Someone ran up next to me and gave me words of encouragement to continue, and I just thought YOU DON’T KNOW ME. Let me text my friends!!! (Just kidding…kinda 😛 )

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Right after I grabbed water at the top of La Jolla Shores (around mile 10) I heard someone yell my name and it was Evan (who’s opening up the really cool Tasting Room Del Mar next month). We ended up running together until the last-ish hill(s) that goes Spindrift to Princess and finally Torrey Pines (and then I pulled ahead…muaha). I thought I was going to walk at least part of this section, but I knew the end was just so close. And once I hit Prospect it would be all downhill.  Luckily my watch/GPS was hitting close to the mile markers so I knew it would be pretty spot on (and not something like .5 longer than 13.1).  Overall it was a hot and challenging day, but I think all in all I’ve become a stronger runner, and learned that when I don’t care too much, good things can still happen (even a course PR…4th times the charm!).

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Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:45:32):
1 – 7:27
2 – 7:41
3 – 7:56
4 – 8:17
5 – 7:24
6 – 10:13
7 – 8:33
8 – 8:14
9 – 7:49
10 – 7:56
11 – 6:56
12 – 7:44
13 – 8:05
Last .21 – 1:12

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Thanks to RACEPLACE for the opportunity to run this race!

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I am the perfect example of how to not prepare for a race.  Friday I had a full day of work that pushed me past the 6pm expo deadline.  Saturday I went from errand to errand to a 3 hour hair appointment in North Park that left me scrambling to make it to Del Mar in 30 minutes before the expo closed (luckily I arrived with 5 minutes to spare).

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And with all that busyness on Saturday I was left without food (except for a couple mimosas during my hair appointment).  I met up with friends who were out at the Encinitas street fair who convinced me that a beer would fill my hunger, and I didn’t find myself eating a solid meal until I devoured a couple slices of pizza at Urbn later.

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But even with all that, apparently, being carefree surrounding the La Jolla Half Marathon did me some good.  Even though it was a warm and challenging day, I ended up with a course PR.  Race recap to come (!) …

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On Sunday I completed my last race of 2015…the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon. The San Diego Holiday Half Marathon starts in Rancho Penasquitos and ends near Torrey Pines State Beach, with a net drop of 714 feet.

This was not a race I was expecting. In a good way.

The morning started off FREEZING —below 40 degrees (very cold for San Diego)! My dad and brother dropped me off near the start, I used the porta-potty and then lined up with around 8 minutes to spare.

I had forgotten my gloves but was wearing a tank, long sleeve, throwaway sweatshirt, compression socks and shorts. Right before the start I threw off my sweatshirt and kept my long sleeve layer on until around mile 4.

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I lined up and ran into Jen and Tyler. We started off together but within the first tenth mile I was already pulling ahead. I just decided to run my own race and see where it would take me.

Around 1.5 you encounter “the hill” which wasn’t too bad. Due to my trail running (and beating up my quads), I let my legs roll on the downhills, which ended up being pretty fast. I was worried I was going to blow up, especially trying to deal with the gradual uphill during the rolling hills because I am so used to walking all hills now. I just told myself to keep it at or under an 8 minute pace.

I just tried to really focus on feel. I checked my watch briefly to make sure I was in the range, but I tried to not focus wholeheartedly on it. I knew if I saw a fast pace I would freak myself out. I already had enough self-doubt with running an ultra 2 weeks before and a 12 miler 2 days prior. The only time I saw my time was around mile 6 when I realized I was at 43 minutes and I could potentially have a good time.

At mile 6 I started to take a Gu. However, it took me a while to finish it and I ended up not finishing it because it was so cold it started to harden up.

Once I got to mile 11 I knew I had this. My favorite part of any race has increasingly become the last 2 miles because I know I can do anything for 2 miles (and that includes cranking it).

I count this as my first legit half marathon PR in a while (the last one was in Fontana, 1:32, with a 2,125 ft net downill, and before that Nike Women’s Half in DC with a 1:40).

It was a nice course with a smaller number of runners (limited to 3,500 max) because it runs on the bike path next to the 56 freeway. I liked being on the bike path because it kept the race very small and focused vs. being on expansive and wide streets.

I ended up running a 1:35:01 and getting 6th in the age group. It’s funny, I didn’t realize what pace I was running (what was my fastest and what was my slowest mile) until the next day when I reviewed my watch and checked my splits.

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Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:35:04):
1 – 7:31
2 – 7:04
3 – 7:35
4 – 6:44
5 – 7:19
6 – 7:11
7 – 7:33
8 – 7:19
9 – 7:13
10 – 7:25
11 – 7:06
12 – 7:13
13 – 7:01
Last .13 – 0:44

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Thanks to RACEPLACE for the opportunity to run this race!

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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

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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On Sunday, November 16th I ran the Celebration Run Half Marathon. Earlier this year, before we even knew each other, Avery–who handled marketing for the race–reached out to me to participate as a blog ambassador. Ironically, the race fell on her bday too (HBD Aves!).

Since it was the inaugural year, this race was smaller than many others I’ve run, but it was well organized, and really well run, especially for being it’s first year.

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I have never really run around Mission Bay, so I honestly don’t even know where we ran.  However, the course was flat for the most part, except for 4 overpasses that resulted in a few climbs.

Originally, Andy and I decided we would just run to run and approach it like a long Saturday SSRC run. However, mid-way I started to feel good, so I just ran based off feeling. Around mile 11 I started to just get bored in general and knew if I ran faster, I would finish faster.

With the Fit Foodie 5K the day before, and then this race, I realized I have gotten good at choosing people to race with/pick off. Throughout the race I chose certain people in front of me to either keep in sight, or to eventually get in front of. By the end I had successfully beaten all 3 of my designated people.

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The race finished in the sand, which I surprisingly ran well on, as I kind of bounced and bounded (I think treading through the “quicksand” in the San Elijon Lagoon helped with that). At the finish line bikini clad girls and board short boys handed out medals (of which I made a serious effort to have the hottest guy give me my medal ahaha).

Afterwards we sat in the VIP area where we enjoyed catered BREAKFAST BURRITOS (HELLOOOOOO), fresh fruit and coffee.

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I ended up running a 1:45:01 and placing 2nd in my age group.  Taking the pressure out of racing to perform, it turned out to be a fun and successful race weekend!

Mile splits recorded by my Garmin:
Mile 1 – 8:05
Mile 2 – 8:05
Mile 3 – 7:54
Mile 4 – 7:57
Mile 5 – 8:02
Mile 6 – 8:10
Mile 7 – 8:03
Mile 8 – 7:47
Mile 9 – 8:06
Mile 10 – 7:59
Mile 11 – 7:51
Mile 12 – 7:51
Mile 13 – 7:30
Last .25 1:38

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It’s been a race-filled weekend, between the Fit Foodie 5k and the Celebration Run half marathon this morning!  Here’s what my essentials included for both races:

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Fit Foodie 5k – Saturday

Fabletics Vaasa Sports Bra
Lululemon run inspire crop ii
Garmin Forerunner 620
Under Armour Fly-By Stretch Mesh Tank
Nike Lunarglide 6

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Celebration Run Half Marathon – Sunday

Graced by Grit Delicious Tank (Use code “GBGXOPRO69” for 10% off your purchase)
Gu: Salted Caramel
Quest Bar
Garmin Forerunner 620
Ipod Shuffle
Lululemon crops
Lorna Jane Tarika Bra
Nike Lunarglide 6

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So…I didn’t realize the race course had changed until Saturday morning. Instead of running out towards the Embarcadero, it basically goes the opposite direction. I really enjoyed the course last year, and I didn’t know how I would feel about a new one. But I ended up loving the new course even more!

Fit Andy and I stayed at Hotel G located on Geary St. so we were literally a block away from Union Square. We woke up around 5:30am, ate a simple banana and Luna Bar breakfast, got dressed, and at 6:20am we headed out the door.

The corral situation is always difficult. We probably should have left the hotel a little earlier due to this, however, the starting line was also set up differently this year due to the new course. We entered towards the back of the 9-10 minute pace and tried to make our way up to the 8-9 minute corral but only got so far. This left us weaving through the people that had already started walking within the first mile(?).

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The race ran through the city streets first, while it was still dark. When we entered the Golden Gate State park it was light, hazy, and misting. I was worried how warm it was going to be due to the bright and sunny weather the day before, but once again, we received perfect running/racing conditions.

One thing I noticed this year was that there were more notable hills, specially at mile 2, between 8 and 9, and mile 10. However, I felt like I moved effortlessly up the hills (save for mile 10), which then presented some downhill portions (my specialty) to really let the legs roll. For the hills I made sure to keep moving up them, and then crested once I got to the top. I learned that not only running, hills, but running them diagonally, weaving through people, is really something in itself (haha).

I brought a Gu with me for the hell of it and started to feel al title hungry at mile 9 so I took it (plus salted caramel is so good, how could you not want to just eat it?).

Mile 10 was a BITCH (through the Presidio). There was a sign that said only 1,000 more yards until the top of the hill, yadayada, and I thought to myself, wow, this is the big hill? No big deal. WRONG. It kept going and going and just getting more and more steep. At least we were welcomed with a downhill to flat finish, but at some point, right before mile 11, my knee started to really hurt and felt like it was turning out in the wrong direction. So I stopped briefly to try and stretch it twice. I wondered if I would be able to finish, but when you have a Tiffany’s necklace waiting for you at the end, THAT IS NOT AN OPTION! I just tried to focus on my form and just running, and it started to feel better.

By the last mile I had picked it up to a 7:30 pace and felt like I was cruising.

The race went by really fast and I felt good throughout but was worried that I might crash out of nowhere (kind of like mile 24 of the marathon). However, I think after the marathon, I’ve increased my willpower and have realized I can push my body a little more than I think, and just overall, endure more pain.

Takeaway points: loved the new course, it was very scenic, especially when it starts to lighten up (dark start due to 6:30am start time). More hills, so definitely train for them (both up and down). And no firemen to give high-fives at the finish line so no tripping hahah. Nike races are always so special and I’m looking to do this race again next year!

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Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:46:52):
1 – 8:06
2 – 8:00
3 – 8:28
4 – 8:00
5 – 8:01
6 – 7:39
7 – 7:30
8 – 8:05
9 – 8:03
10 – 7:51
11 – 9:14
12 – 7:50
13 – 7:32
Last .37 – 2:27

My chip time was 1:46:48.

Thanks again to Finish Line & Nike Track Club for the opportunity to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF!

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Friday night Andy and I flew into Oakland, where we then stayed the night in Benicia. Early Saturday morning we made our way into the City for a 7am meet-up at the Union Square Niketown for a shake-out run. We checked into our hotel early (like 6:45am early!) and quickly made it over to the Nike store.

First, we were all corralled into the store where we listened to and received some inspiration from some speakers such as Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Then, they revealed the new Tiffany’s necklace for this year’s race.

In no time we were out the door on a quick 2 mile run. It was a fairly warm run, resulting in some sweat, which made me contemplate what I was going to wear for the race.

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After the run, a mix of the Finish Line girls and some other girls (who attended the Nike Track Club event at Del Amo in July) headed off to brunch (“and other fun things”) at Hotel Palomar. We were lead to a gorgeous outside patio where we were greeted with mimosas being served on a silver platter.

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The brunch was decorated beautifully, with a long, Pinterest-ly perfect table, set up with swag bags and our race bibs. There was a greek yogurt bar (I thought the only food), until I sat down and realized there was a full menu and meal coming, complete with dessert!

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It was a great way to meet and bond with some of the girls I’ve been seeing all over social media. And to build some camaraderie for the 13.1 miles we would all conquer the next day!

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After brunch, we all walked back to the expo and Finish Line presented their girls with even more special goodies. Fun printed pants and embroidered hoodies!!! @asheejojo is kinda a big deal yo!  Check back tomorrow for part 2.

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Big thanks to Finish Line for an amazing start to the weekend and the opportunity to Run SF!

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