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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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Ok, last post for this 50k!  I can’t believe it was only over a week ago…it feels so much longer!

This time I paid a little less attention to my fueling, in terms of what I ate and when I ate (and didn’t do the best job at remembering either). But I made sure to eat before I started to feel hungry. In my 50oz camelbak I carried:

1 almond butter & jelly sandwich
2 Nuun lemon lime tabs (both split in half)
2 packs Probar BOLT Energy Chews (only ate one pack)
5 Fig Newtons

In addition, I ended up eating some random stuff at the aid stations.  Here’s a rough estimate of what I ate and when (separated by the start and each aid station).

Start

2-3 chews, 1 Fig Newton

Aid Station #1-Corral Canyon- Mile 7.5 — Nuun, potatoes

Aid Station #2- Latigo Road Crossing- Mile 11.8 — refilled water, 1/4 sandwich, chocolate covered espresso beans, salt tab

1 Fig Newton

Aid Station #3- Kanan Trailhead- Mile 14.6 (marathon turn-around) — Nuun

3 fig newtons

Aid Station #4- Zuma Fire Road and 50k Turn Around- Mile 16.3 — 1/4 sandwich

Aid Station #5- Kanan Trailhead- Mile 18 – Ginger ale, potatoes

Aid Station #6- Latigo Road Crossing- Mile 20 – 1/4 sandwich, plantain chips, salt tab

Aid Station #7- Corral Canyon- Mile 24.5 – 1/4 sandwich, ginger ale, potatoes, Nuun, refilled water with ice

Remaining chews

Finish

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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

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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

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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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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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Last week I received the news….”regrettably, we are unable to accept your application…”

And while my goal (since I qualified) was to run Boston, I feel like I always had a tinge of doubt that my time would be fast enough to make it. 3:34:32 — what a bittersweet time.

When I set out to run Mountains 2 Beach earlier this spring, I had no idea I had anything close inside of me to qualify for Boston. My goal was to run a good time, with the subset of qualifying for Boston as result of that.

Secretly I wished there would be a general decline in racing. With marathons that used to rely on the lottery system accepting all registrations, I hoped there would be an overall lack of interest in racing anymore.

However, after reading the Runner’s World article before I even entered my registration, I knew I would probably be at least 30 seconds to a minute short. Come to find out, I was exactly 2 minutes, with BAA accepting applications up to 3:32:32 for my gender and age group.

Although I wish I could be running Boston with Kate and the rest of my club that qualified, I’m not bummed.

All I can say is: M2B round 2.

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I seriously cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. It seems like just a couple of weeks ago a few of the Finish Line Women (me, Fit Andy, Evann and Angela) found out we’d be running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. In reality, it was around June, and I felt like I had all the time in the world to get back on the training wagon. And while I’ve still been running (around 15-20 miles a week), ideally I’d like to (at the very least) get back into consistent 20-30 mile weeks.

Even with my best intentions of sticking to a plan, lately I have been “the worst.”  So I’m going to put it out in public… here is my training plan and goals for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon on October 18th!

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Training Plan —
Mon – PM run
Tues – PM run
Wed – PM Yoga Sculpt
Thurs – AM run + AM Yoga Sculpt
Fri – Rest or AM Yoga Sculpt
Sat – Long run
Sun – Rest

Goals —
A goal – Overall PR, sub 1:40
B goal – Course PR ~1:45
C goal – Finish strong in the 1:40-1:50 range.

This will be my first half marathon of the year (yikes! when did I stop racing?!). With this increase in running activity, stay tuned for more running focused posts! (yes this might actually return in a “health and fitness” blog 😛 )

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Thanks to Finish Line for the opportunity to run this race again, as well as Nike and GoPro for hooking it up FAT!!  Stay tuned, hopefully I can share some training runs captured on my new GoPro Hero4 Session!

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