As a kid I loved building LEGO. I’m happy to see that the boys enjoy it too. I’m honored that they ask me to help them build even the smallest sets. Knowing that they can build them on their own - pretty quickly I might add - yet they still indulge me in wishing I was a kid again. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I’m not a gambler by any means but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else to do in Las Vegas. There’s good food, lot’s of beer, shows and of course running. Las Vegas is by far one of the best places to run especially when the Strip is shut down for one night of the year just for the annual @runrocknroll #RnRLasVegas half marathon.
This last weekend, a bunch of friends and I decided we’d do something outrageous and take on a self-imposed #Dirt2Strip challenge. You see, running the RnRLV has been a tradition for quite a while now. This would be my 5th year running it in a row. But before I get too deep into Las Vegas, let’s start from the beginning of this #Dirt2Strip challenge.
The weekend started off with a flight down to Ontario to meet up with Brian and Richard. While Richard was busy working, we strolled around locally and met up with beloved friends Andrea, Michael, Linzie and Laurie. Chilling with coffee and Cranberry Bliss Bars was delightful. I wish we could do this weekly. We would then spend Friday evening just hanging, playing video games, eating pizza, drinking beer (Carb loading FTW!), you know, the usual Friday night stuff.
On a more serious tip, if you all didn’t know, the entire State has been on fire. Seriously, from Nor Cal to So Cal, it seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a wildfire burning and causing damage. Be safe out there, people!
There was a fire in Griffith Park which caused a direct effect on the trail race. We weren’t sure if our race was going to be cancelled or not. We got an email from the race director that the race was still on and we were all relieved that we didn’t have to run 13.1 miles out on the streets of Ontario, Burbank or wherever we were going to be.
We had a very early wake up call on Saturday morning to toe the line of our first race of the weekend - The Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon. We caught an early Lyft ride and set out to the park. With ample parking and real bathrooms (yasss), we met up with other’s who were also taking on this #Dirt2Strip challenge.
If you know me, you’ve likely not seen many running pics of us out on any gnarly trails so I admit that I was a bit out of my element on this one. I was prepared, don’t get me wrong, but maybe not prepared for all of the hiking we had to do. You see, this course is a beast with what felt like a million feet of elevation. There were huge hills (I’m calling them mountains) to climb and we would hike up those and run the flats and downhills. I had my trusty gopro to capture the views we were seeing from the tops of those mountains. They were stunning.
We anticipated taking 3 hours to complete this race which allowed us ample time to get to he airport and not have to rush. Although the course was fairly short (there were fires all over the place which caused havoc for the race director / organization) it was still a freakin’ blast and didn’t detract from the race experience at all. We retreated back to our vehicles and cleaned up just a bit and then headed to the Burbank Airport to catch a flight to Vegas. We said our goodbye’s to Carlee’s husband Ryan and I was truly sad that he wasn’t going to Las Vegas with us.
You know the flight to LV was short when 5 minutes after the flight attendants gave you your drinks, they tell you to “chug, chug, chug!” We landed and made the smart choice to head straight to the Race Expo. We’ve gotten so accustomed to picking up our race packets that we were in and out of the expo in no time. After stopping at the PRO Compression booth, we got a ride back to our hotels to clean up and post our #FlatRunner photos for Race #2 of the Day: The #RnRLasVegas 5k.
Oh and before I move on, be sure to check your shirt sizes prior to leaving the expo. I received a women’s small instead of a men’s shirt. I guess when you’ve been up since 3 in the morning and are crunched for time for another race in a couple hours, you forget things like that.
There was a #werunsocial meetup prior to the 5k that evening and it’s always fun to see BRF (Best Running Friends) that you haven’t seen in about a year. Catching up and snapping all the photos is so much fun.
We jumped into our corral and started the 5k. This isn’t the most scenic 5k you’ll run but it’s part of a weekend of races so you just kinda “do it.” We run as a group (which is a major theme of the weekend) and converse about what we’re going to eat / drink after the race. #priorities
We made our way back down to the Linq Promenade and sat down for Mexican food and beer. Since it was a long day, we called it a somewhat early night and crashed knowing that tomorrow’s race would be long.
After waking up ridiculously early when you know the race isn’t until 430pm that day, it’s all worth it when your breakfast from Hash House A Go Go comes to your table. #thisishowwedo We then hit up the outlet mall for a shopping distraction when we knew darn well we should be off of our feet. Again, #priorities.
Since the Race started earlier than the 5k the night before, the meetup began early as well at 215pm at the Bellagio Fountains. Because a bunch of PRO Compression ambassadors and enthusiasts love running Vegas, you know that the turnout for the meetup and the wearing of the unofficial race sock would be epic. This year, the awesome choice of sock was the pink and black stripe which stood out beautifully.
So much happens in such little time during these weekends and time flies by so fast. You hardly get to take pics with people you follow on social because there are just so many people there. We made our way over to the start area after checking our bags and then we were let out to the corrals by color / wave. We were in the first wave and had to walk quite a ways (which was puzzling how things were laid out logistically) to get to the start line. Anyway, we committed to run at a party pace because that’s what we do when we run Vegas. This race is never about time. You’ll see why in a minute.
Our group was double digits strong at the start and we nearly managed to keep it that way for the entire race. We only lost a few of our peeps along the way. The course was changed up a bit from last year, which was a good change btw, and it wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t run past the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign. What I did notice though was the lack of port-o-potties along the course. Now, normally I’m pretty good about not having to go while I’m out not the race course but somehow having to pee just came outta nowhere. Since there are a million and one people running this race and only 1 port-o-potty sprinkled on the course at a time, you can imagine how long the line was for that 1 stall.
We finally found a bunch of them lined up in a row after almost 6 miles of running. Whew! I’d say that made for a very uncomfortable 4 miles or so. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always say it - running on the Las Vegas is a very unique and exciting experience. The energy is unmatched. They only close the Strip down a couple times a year and this is one of them. I am very lucky to get to do this. After turning around near Downtown Las Vegas, we made our way back down the strip and we still had a core group intact. This is actually pretty tough to do.
We, of course, hit up our now traditional beer / liquor stop at around mile 12. We stopped, not our Garmin’s of course, to buy corona’s while a few strong crew members took shots of Fireball. Hot! As we were exiting the bar, we ran into Brianne and Steve, a couple of the original starting line crew. We ran / walked / jogged the last mile of the race with beers in our hands and crossed the finish line feeling very fine. Cheers!
And with that, the 3rd and final race of our EPIC #Dirt2Strip adventure was complete. We absolutely love getting together to do this and mixing it up with additional races prior to coming to Las Vegas has always made the weekend something to look forward to all year long. Until the next one. Peace.
Let's chat about a stroller for a hot minute. It's not a secret that 99% of all my running is done with a stroller. Fact. However what I don't share enough about is that I have tried quite a few strollers, either because I own quite a few (ummmm Dave thinks I have a stroller hoarding problem. I refuse to talk about it) or I have been able to borrow a stroller. I use the stroller for running errands to long runs to all kinds of training workouts. My strollers get put through a lot! Not only with the miles that I put on them, but also with Asher and his behaviors that come along with his disability. Let's not forget that he was able to literally break a stroller seat less than a year ago because of said behaviors. For a 25lb-ish 5 year old he seems to have Hulk type strength.
Ok ok, back to strollers and why I even wanted to revisited this topic. Recently I was fortunate enough to get my running stroller hands on a Bumbleride Speed. I would be lying if I haven't been trying to hint to Dave to get me one for over a year. After trying it out more than once for a quick second at a couple races, seeing it as the ultimate prize for the awesome and empowering race series She Is Beautiful, having Mother Runner friends who shared how much they loved their Bumbleride and the power couple behind the brand has done something amazing with this stroller, I not so subtly kept dropping hints to Dave. Well, fail and I should of known. This is the guy who took about 6 years to even ask me out and I dropped some big hints from middle school to high school. Yup, Dave I'm calling you out. What girl will ask to wear a 49ers bomber jacket near the beginning of summer and walk home wearing it, sweating, hoping you notice that I had a huge crush on you?!?!? (story for another day)
Lucky for me, the awesome geniuses behind the Bumbleride stroller gave me the chance to give the Speed 8 a go! I've had the stroller for nearly 3 weeks now and it has not disappointed. Here's the thing about this stroller that I must address first, the biggest reason I wanted to try Bumbleride has everything to do with the innovative technology Emily and Matt have utilized in creating this stroller. Their Speed stroller is made from 100% recycled PET that have kept over half a million water bottles out of landfills since 2011. How AMAZING is that? A running stroller to any parent is a life line. It is a mental, a physical and a relationship building vital tool. It gives parents the freedom to still make themselves a priority. This stroller is no exception to all that goodness but it also is good for the environment. That in itself spoke to Dave and I. We have been trying for awhile now to be more mindful with our purchases. We have shared in the past our love of supporting small and local businesses (Bumbleride is California local. Right in beautiful San Diego!), supporting business that support a cause close to our heart (Special needs, inclusion and acceptance are big on our list) and now we want to make sure we are supporting businesses that focus on environmentally friendly practices and products.
If recycled fabrics and keeping plastics from the landfill doesn't get you, then this is the ONLY stroller with 3 front wheel options. I am a big supporter of safe stroller running which means locked wheel. It offers better stability and handling. However the Speed offers something they call Speed3 steering or run/jog/walk. I just had to give this a try. Obviously the walk was full swivel. Its easy to push and light. The "jog" is where we opt for the 30 degree swivel function. The front wheel can be locked to turn slightly for only 30 degrees in either direction. My jog days I interpreted to be my easy runs days, where I am trying to keep my paces 90 seconds to 2 mins slower than my half marathon goal pace. I was doubtful at first, I won't lie, but when I used it I really enjoyed it. It not only made turning easier, but it also kept me in check for my paces. If I sped up too fast (for me) the wheel was not as stable meaning it would easily shake over certain terrain. It's almost like a secret trainer partner wagging a finger at me when I try to do more than I should be doing. I of course keep the wheel completely fixed on any hard runs and even then the stroller handled great. Easy to push and maneuver. Also made easy by a tremendous amount of possible stroller handle heights. I have never seen a stroller with so many possible angles for the stroller handle and they all come in handy for Dave and me (if you didn't know, um Dave is shorter than me).
Ok this stroller is great. Eco-friendly fabrics and production ✅. A variety of front wheel options that actually make stroller running more accessible to a wide variety of running levels ✅. A huge shade canopy with multiple levels of shade for the stroller rider (the most I’ve seen from any stroller since it has an additional pop out extension piece) ✅ A bell to ring letting others know that you are coming ✅. Ok - this feature to most people won't be that important, but I'm a sucker for novelty. I sure did ring that bell when I took it out on its first test drive and I still use it when I run with the stroller. Is it loud enough when the person has ear pods in? No, but it brings me joy. However, here’s a pro-tip: the bell is for running only. Using it in a crowded amusement park aka Disneyland, it isn't well received and people don't tend to move. Go figure. 🤷🏽♀️
With every stroller I have tried, I find something valuable that contributes to my running. However, in all honesty I also look at each stroller in terms of Asher: his needs and his behaviors. With all the positives this stroller has we have noticed some challenges in terms of Asher's full body hyper extension episodes or as some might call it when they see it - fits. The canopy clips in easily to the side but with that it also clips OUT easily. Asher, in his moments, pulls out the canopy a lot and sometimes unintentionally aggressively. It is something that we worry one day he might break. Cross fingers for us. I think if it actually clipped in with a latch of some sort it might be "Asher proof". Also, the stroller comes with a belly bar. This is great for perhaps typical children to clip on toys or to use their snack tray. For Asher we had to take it off (it does come off and is not needed to use the stroller). It only caused a big obstacle in getting to him when he was having an episode or a health issue. Also we are working on Asher being more independent with a goal of getting in and out of his stroller independently and eventually buckling himself in (we won't be teaching him to UNBUCKLE anytime soon. lol). The belly bar proved problematic. He couldn't understand how to get in or out with it attached.
As I said in the beginning, I have been very fortunate to try many strollers. Also if you have been following my family for awhile you know I fell in love with one particular stroller nearly 3 years ago. It was the stroller that changed everything for Asher and me, but the season of that stroller has passed and we can no longer use it. For awhile now I have been trying to find the next winner winner chicken dinner. Now in a perfect world, where money isn't a factor (so fantasy really) strollers would be treated like running shoes. It is normal for a runner to have shoes in rotation: racing, workout, long run, etc. Strollers really are the same. Depending on weight, dimensions and the front wheel stability, certain strollers work best for certain types of running. But running strollers are EXPENSIVE ($$$$$) and not many people exclusively run with a stroller. I do though and money IS a factor. With the signing off of the first stroller Asher grew to love, this stroller has become a viable replacement. Eco friendly, light weight, easy to clean, comfortable (for him), pockets for all my stuff and his (the back seat pocket actually is two!) and the Speed3 front wheel really is an option that I didn't know all strollers should have. It opens up more training options for the frequent stroller runner or heck, all levels/paces of runners. I get a lot of messages asking me about strollers. They often start out with: "If you could pick one stroller..." and I always give a long thought out reply asking them about what type of runner they are, frequency and even their height (it makes a difference when picking a stroller) and then I give my opinion because it is just that, an opinion. Most recently someone reached out and she was very detailed on her needs, upcoming races and so on. I did my long spiel but in the end I did something I don't typically do and I gave a one stroller recommendation: the Bumbleride Speed. This stroller is a strong choice for an avid stroller runner and a once in a while stroller runner. It is multi-purpose, filling this gap in stroller running thinking. Stroller running is not all-or-nothing where you either run with a stroller and try to get faster, better, stronger or you just don't like it at all. This stroller welcomes in those runners who don't necessarily want to be a stroller runner, but perhaps need it for necessity on certain days or for easy runs. With all the running strollers on the market, this stroller checks a lot of boxes that no other stroller I have seen or tried addresses and when I was recently asked "If you could pick one stroller..." my answer was confidently Bumbleride.
* Disclaimer: Bumbleride supplied me with a Speed stroller. I was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my personal experience with this product.
Hope you enjoy some of the pics from this year's race. New course, new race experience, same FUN!
Sundae's at 9am? Whynot?! #breakfastofchampions
Another year is almost over and before it ends, we’d love to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe New Year.
Thank you all for reading the site and following along on our family’s journey. We may not post much, but when we do, know that it means something to us. Our year was full of adventures, highs, lows and everything in between. And we were glad to share it with you.
Be safe and take care this holiday season.
I used to - I’m not saying it’s never going to happen again - run a half marathon the same day as the RnRLV Half Marathon. For the past couple of years, I’ve spent the entire weekend in Las Vegas with best running friends (BRFs) and it’s still been a blast. This year was certainly no exception.
I always consider myself a very lucky person in that I am able to get away to Vegas to run with friends. As much as I’d love Paula to come out, it’s still very challenging to fly with the entire family, no matter how short the distance or length of stay.
I got in to Vegas on Saturday morning and connected with friends for brunch after they finished a quick shakeout run that morning. I quickly hit up the expo and took the monorail down to the City Center. If you’ve never been to Vegas, just know that the blocks and casinos are huge and you’ll do a lot of walking even with a monorail shuttling you up and down the Strip.
Brunch was delish and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a drink with my soon to be ex-pat buddy, Dani, before she leaves for Amsterdam in a couple months.
The group split up and we had plenty of time to do a little shopping before we got ready for the 5k that evening. While we didn’t find the deal at the Lululemon outlet like we did last year (no $25 shorts this time), we still got a chance to hang and chill.
As usual, there’s a @WeRunSocial pre-race meet up before the 5k which is held out at the Las Vegas Fairgrounds next to the SLS hotel. We actually almost didn’t make it to the meet up since the monorail to the 5k area was such a hot mess and once we got there the security was extremely tight. There are just so many people trying to get to one place and the capacity on the monorail trains isn’t that high. I’m not sure how they could remedy this but I guess it beats spending money on a cab or walking.
This year, instead of full-on Donuts, there were donut holes which were perfect bites for everyone to enjoy while we waited for the race to start. The race itself is run as an out and back on a very dark road. We ran with a good group and picked up more cool glowing light sticks along the way.
If you recall, at last year’s 5k, both Brian (@pavementrunner) and I both raced to “beat the sign” but were unsuccessful. You see, Carlee (@carleemcdot) dressed up as the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Well this year’s theme was “beat the wig” because she came dressed up in full on Elvis attire with a souped up wig to complete the look.
We had such a blast running and we stayed a bit to listen to the Headliner which was moved to Saturday night because of the change in Start Venue of the Half Marathon the next day. Due to the horrible event that took place last month, the Rock ’n’ Roll staff decided to move things around a bit which included the start line of the Half Marathon and this included the usual pre-race concert. Nonetheless, the crowd was just as excited to see the concert and enjoy their Saturday night.
Sunday we had plenty of time to chill, relax and SLEEP IN! So many miles are put on your feet out there in Vegas. Once we were able to get coffee and something to eat, Brian and I headed out to do a little shopping. Do you get the theme here? We heard that the local Lululemon shops were heat pressing special edition graphics for the race weekend in support of the tragic event last month and also to celebrate the races that weekend. We grabbed a couple limited edition items and felt totally redeemed from the lame shopping experience from Saturday.
After grabbing a quick bite and getting dressed we headed out towards the Start line area. Here at the Half Marathon, there weren't bag checks, or metal wands. There were Las Vegas police and sheriffs patrolling the area though. We just thought it was a bit strange.
The meet up was fun and Brian handed out a bunch of #WeRunSocial multi-use “thingys” and that got the mood started off right. Who doesn’t like free running stuff?
There were a bunch of folks who had just came in from running the Disneyland Super Heroes Half marathon weekend events including our two other deck of cards suits, Richard @Blingwhore and Niles @Nilesdvu.
One of the highlights (no pun intended) of the weekend was coordinating race outfits with these guys. Let’s say the theme of the night was wearing reflective gear. From visors down to shoes, we definitely lit up the Strip (scroll down to see how)!
After saying excuse me a million times and fighting our way to the front of the corral, we set up to run/walk/jog/PARTY for 13.1 miles! We don’t run this course for time. As a matter of fact, one of the group actually wanted to run the half marathon OVER three hours! I’m sure we could make that happen.
While running down the Strip, we noticed that we were running together as a group of 10. This is no easy feat as there are thousands of other runners on the course. We communicated extremely well with each other and even gave ourselves numbers to count off so we wouldn’t lose anyone. This turned out to be a wonderful idea and we got quite a few looks as we counted off randomly if we felt like we were losing anyone. I was #8 if you were wondering.
Last year, we stopped for $3 beers at mile 12 and this year we vowed to get them earlier in the race. We made our first beer stop at mile 5.5 and ran/walked as we downed the drinks. We even met a couple that got married that day and shared a drink with them. How fitting. They were even dressed up as bride and groom. Only in Vegas.
We hit mile 12 and another beer stop (same as last year). By this point, my GoPro had died and we relied on Richard’s to capture the pics. We ran across the finish line with beers in hand and celebrated our 3+ hour trek along the Las Vegas Strip!
I love this weekend as it signifies the end to another year of running. You can call it your victory lap for all of the hard work and training you put in during the year. This is my 4th year running Vegas and I will always say, take the chance to run this race if you can. The Strip never closes down like this and it’s truly a unique running experience that you’ll never forget.
When @Lululemon and @Strava get together, it’s usually pretty epic. Remember the last challenge where you ran XX number of miles and got a little something for your achievements?!? Yeah, I remember it vividly because I missed out on it. Luckily Paula was able to participate and loves her “prize” and wears it often.
Well, they did it again and it’s called The Ghost Race. Throughout cities in the U.S. and Canada, routes have been mapped out as courses for the ghost race. The Ghost Race is taking place from October 13-22. It’s about an 8k for each course, which for my metric adverse folks, is 4.97 miles. You begin by registering on theghostrace.com and joining the Strava club and you’re all set! You run the course, make sure that run is recorded in Strava and that’s pretty much it.
In the lovely Bay Area of my home state of California, we are lucky enough to have 4 cities to choose from. The folks at Lululemon, especially @LululemonSF, decided to throw out a challenge of completing all four courses. This is where the wacky, crazy, hijinks come in. I text my boy Brian, @pavementrunner - on a Friday night because what else would dads of multiple kids be doing on a Friday night? - to ask him if he would be down to tackle a couple of the routes in the Bay Area. Remember, there are 4, in diff. cities which are pretty spread out.
Now if you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you know we’re not ones to shy away from running challenges, especially ones that involve multiple races in the same day, different states, etc. So, guess what happened? Yup! All 4 cities in one day. Why. The. Hell. Not. 😜🤣 The folks at Lululemon have deemed this “BRIDGE THE BAY.” Only we’re doing it all in one day.
So after quick planning, mapping and texting, we virtually shake hands on completing this crazy, hopefully, more fun than painful, challenge. We decided to use Instagram Stories to document the day so if you followed along this past Sunday, we hope you enjoyed some of the sights (and sounds) of the adventure.
We started out in Walnut Creek, a lovely city in the East Bay (our previous home), at the butt crack of dawn. It was cold and dark but we were prepared with trusty headlamps. The routes are mainly out and backs and this one led us along the Iron Horse Trail. It was eerily quiet and Brian casually made a joke about a mountain lion that I freakin' couldn't get out of my head the entire time we were out there. Yeah, thanks, Bro!
Oh and did I tell you that we brought different outfits to change into for each of the 4 cities? Nuts. Completely bananas but that was the best part about scheming this whole thing out.
The run wasn't that bad and it was over before we knew it. We obviously didn't rush since we knew we had a long day ahead of us and about 15 more miles to go. We changed into outfit number 2 before jumping in the car and driving to the next city, San Jose. But first, Dunkin!
We arrived in San Jose and the sun was up and shining bright. We took a bit of time eating parts of our energy bars, pb&j sandwiches, etc. Then we set off. If I had to pick a favorite course of the 4, it would have to be this one. We ran along a shared paved path with tons of runners and bikers. It reminded me of the parkway we have out here in Sacramento.
We kept posting to social at the completion of each course. Again, we changed, set the map on the GPS, hopped in the car and drove. This was probably the longest drive of the day. We made good time into the City and surprisingly found an awesome parking spot near the start of the 3rd course.
We found the start and I kept remarking how beautiful the day was in San Francisco. If you're not aware, September and October are San Francisco's summer months. It even got pretty warm out there along the marina. If you've run The San Francisco Marathon before, you'll be familiar with this route as it follows pretty much the same path and turns you around back to the start.
No fun. No fun AT ALL. Pumpkins at Ghirardelli Square, No @Karlthefog in sight and we even saw friends along the marina! We talked the entire time about doing this again next year and we totally fell off the rails. We see you, #THEGHOSTRACE 2018, we see you!
15 miles down and to be honest, we were really feeling it. Getting in and out of the car, driving for long stretches, and maybe knowing that we had 5 more miles to go made that 3rd course hard to swallow.
We changed again, and set off for the last course to finish off and "BRIDGE THE BAY."
The car ride wasn't that bad from SF to Marin. Oh to be a fly on the window of the car on this day....
I didn't know what to expect for the last course and that was a good thing. You see, i've never really run on trails before and little did I know, I was about to get a crash course in trail running 101.
It was very pretty up on that hill and when Brian showed me where we'd be running and ending up at, I was a bit nervous. I was motivated only by food, the imaginary "finish line" and the sheer joy of completing another crazy running challenge.
We found the starting point of the loop course which took us along the Miwok Trail. Right off the bat we started climbing and walking. It was breezy and warm. As we ascended we decided that we would try to run along the somewhat flatter portions of the course and the downhills. This was just so we wouldn't take more than the time we allotted ourselves to complete the loop.
The views on this last course were AMAZING! I was hurting, yes, but i kept going up because I wanted to see more. The Sutro tower, the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, the freakin' Pacific Ocean?!? Man, it was so worth the climb. I got schooled on running trails and had a blast.
We were so happy to be finished, still standing and with smiles on our faces. Hey, guess what? I didn't die! If you click on the pic of Brian above, one wrong move, and you're taking the hard(er) way down the mountain. Yikes!
I must say the 20 miles was daunting back when we were scheming about this whole crazy adventure but chunking it up in 5 mile bites, wasn't so bad. Was it tough, hell yes. Yet it turned out to be very rewarding as well. I spent a good part of a day, with a really good friend, doing what we both love. Thanks LululemonSF and Strava for putting on yet another fun challenge.
Today, a pretty awesome person is celebrating her birthday. Someone who, on the daily, makes it her goal to help others, big or small. She is a beautiful person inside and out and we are beyond fortunate to call her a friend. Who is this rad individual?!?! None other than Carlee, from CarleeMcdot.com fame! You can catch her on IG here and Twitter here.
A couple years ago Carlee decided to dedicate the 31 days leading up to her 31st birthday to completing intentional acts of kindness. This year she put out the challenge to all her friends and followers to do their own acts of kindness, aka A.O.K. Well she didn't have to ask us twice, and we gladly have participated in small ways daily and tomorrow we will spend the entire day completing A.O.K in her name and to celebrate her 33 years making a difference. If you want to read her suggestions give it a click. As she said, it can be small intentions to help anyone, it doesn't need to cost a lot of money or any money at all. Yet, we also couldn't let the day pass without sharing a few companies that we feel deserve a little spotlight. Companies whose philosophy is to do good. As we always say, we love to support small business AND we loveto support businesses with heart.
This company's mission is to #dogood so they make #gearforgood. The scraps of fabric that other companies throw away or see as useless, Cotopaxi uses that material to make all their products. They are a company making a global impact, concerned more with fostering adventure in individuals rather than money. The remnant material is sewn together by employees in the Philippines and their jacket insulation and sweaters are made of llama fiber from farmers in Bolivia. Their message of gear for good is about making quality products but also encouraging others to do good in the world. Check them out, they have some really great gear.
2. Rad Camp
This company caught our eye obviously due to our son Asher. Children and adults with disabilities often times do not get to experience many things everyone else takes for granted. RAD camp is this project based out of Southern California that gives children and adults with disabilities the chance to go to summer camp. How freakin' cool is that?!?!? Even more, it gives respite to those carrying for these individuals. We hope one day Asher can attend. The waitlist is long, like 2-3 years long, but we figured out he might have a chance when he is around 8. #fingerscrossed. This isn't necessarily a product, but you can certainly donate to help make this dream a reality for so many families and make sure this experience continues to be offered.
Just another company that pulls at our heart strings. Although the products' prices are not cheap, the mission of this wonderful company should encourage you to save your pennies to support. They collaborate with an organization dedicated to helping mainstream individuals with disabilities. Their notebooks are handcrafted in Singapore by a person who has a physical disability. This company along with those who purchase their products are supporting these individuals, helping give opportunities and giving their artistry a world stage. The notebooks are beautiful, made with the highest quality and I know you won't be disappointed.
The Little Lemon That Leapt. A funny title with a big message. As parents of 4 boys our hope in sending them out in the world everyday is for them to be kind to others and for others to be kind to them. With all the negative that happens around our children, with this culture of people feeling empowered hiding behind a computer screen to hurt others, as parents, we take any opportunity to encourage our children to celebrate their own uniqueness and value that in others. The Little Lemon is all about the anti-bullying movement and showing children that it is okay to be different or as they say "spreading the message that weird is wonderful".
Happiest of Birthdays Carlee! Thank you for sharing your passion for being the good in world with others, to remind and inspire us that one small act truly does make a difference.
(Note: All opinions expressed in this post are our own. We have received no incentive, reimbursement or compensation in exchange for sharing information on the products)
Coming back from Seawheeze, I immediately thought race recap. I HAD to share the highs and the lows, but then I thought Seawheeze is more than just a race weekend. There are plenty of recaps of the weekend which you could read here and here for different points of views. Here's the thing about race recaps or at least what happens when I read recaps. I generally have some feelings for a certain race prior and when I search out a recap, I will most likely be influenced by one that kind of steers close to what I hope the race will be like. What I have to say is if you love Lululemon, I mean truly love the clothing, brand, then the weekend is fabulous. If you like - even highly like - the brand then it will be ok. I've talked with people who were upset about not having assigned corrals, the post-race food not being as lavish as previous years or getting sunglasses instead of a hat. Yes, those things were a bit meh, but I love the brand so I immediately thought they already gave me shorts, water bottle, backpack, free yoga sessions, free manicures, free samples, essential oils, every single hydration station had GU, later that night a free concert and so much more. What other race could I say gives ALL that and more?!?! I could look past the other stuff and this race was never meant to be a goal race for me. I am sure if this race was something you trained hard for or had a time goal in mind, the crowds could pose a problem for achieving that goal. As I said though, I am not going to recap all the amazingess that was this weekend. Instead I thought it would be more authentic of me to share what this weekend really meant to me.
How many times as a runner have you been asked "Why do you run?" or "What inspires you to be a runner?". Typical answers I have heard and read are: it is my therapy, it is me time, it makes me a better (fill in the blank). Those things are all true for me. Running gives me time to think, recharge, connect to others, even. All things I have answered when asked my feelings about running, yet Seawheeze weekend was most likely the first race weekend where I truly felt as if I was "living" those feelings completely.
The motto of the weekend: Yoga Run Party. So simple, but in reality I feel the three words were just titles to describe what you can really reap from this weekend: calmness, self confidence, and living life. I spent the weekend living all three of those things. Reconnecting with myself and spending time with two amazing women (@mra2213 @otteral) was bucket filling for me.
I've been lucky this year and was able to get a trip away back in January. Great trip, Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, but it wasn't as calming and also rejuvenating as my weekend in Vancouver. Oddly I had more days in WDW, Vancouver was just a little over 24 hrs, yet two weekends ago the chaos didn't feel like chaos. The rushing around, the trying to fit as much in as possible, felt perfect. Perhaps it was mindset, perhaps it was timing. It isn't a secret our life is always go-go-go. With 4 boys, all in extracurricular activities, full time jobs, family obligations - the list goes on - the real goal of each day is to find a moment to do NOTHING. It is easy to burn out, feel overhwhelmed and unmotivated.
Running has given myself, my whole family this incredible web of support and friends. People who we have met and people who we have not met know more about our life than some of our family even knows! We have been able to travel to some great cities to race. We have been able to test our limits, experience new things and most importantly model for our boys what is truly valuable in life. Running Seawheeze was this incredible coming together of what running has given to myself and my family the last 4-5 years. We have been out there, adding up mileage. It was this opportunity to get some "me time", to connect and reconnect to others and myself, to come home with a renewed sense of self, strength and gratitude which in turns makes me a better mother, wife, person. Two weeks ago was more than a pair of shorts or free yoga or even the post race grub. In my mind, I have to believe that Lululemon intends for it be more than just all that. It is a weekend that was created to help you have a brand new start in whatever way that is needed or means to the individual.
Will I do this race again? If I can snag an entry, heck if I can get 2 or 3 entries I am there, with the family doing yoga, running along the sea wall and enjoying the post race party. It would be great to see how having the entire family there to experience Vancouver (not just the race) would add to or reshape my thoughts on this race weekend...let me rename it as race retreat. So yes, next year the goal is to have myself and Dave run this course and the whole family to explore Vancouver. Perhaps we can all get the opportunity to hit that reset button.
With 4 kids and just a busy busy schedule, we are always looking for things that make life easier. One thing my boys are ALWAYS asking for is a snack so I'll be honest - fruit/veggies in a pouch have been great. Easy to have on hand, ways to travel and no mess. I have said before food pouches were a lifesaver (literally) for Asher, but they have been a huge timesaver for the rest of the family.
A few weeks ago, we received in the mail some pouch samples from a California company named Fruigees. They had super adorable names: California Grape, 24 Carrot Orange and Kalefornia Grape. They came at a perfect time since I've been considering taking food pouches as fuel for running and I'm always trying to get Asher to eat something new. I took 24 Carrot Orange out on a mid distance run to try for myself and Asher. Brought along enough for the boys to try if they wanted. Stroller ready, bikes ready and we were off!
WHAT WE LIKED:
* Names that made us smile and made it very appealing to try
* Organic, non GMO and no added sugar!
* Asher enjoyed one of the flavors!
WHAT WASNT NECESSARILY THE BEES KNEES:
* The flavors were very sweet. Almost unnaturally sweet, but yet the ingredients are all fruit and fruit juices.
* The texture was thick, thicker than expected. For runners, think the texture of warm energy gel, non runner think jello almost.
Overall, we enjoyed the pouches but they unfortunately weren't a huge hit. We all preferred the Orange flavor over the rest but yet it wasn't an overwhelming love. We make it a point to try to support local business and/or small businesses. Considering this is a California based small business we really wanted to love these pouches.
A few years ago, after our youngest son was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder - 13q deletion, we stumbled upon an organization based out of Florida, Chromodisorder.org. An organization dedicated to being the support for families who have children with rare chromosome disorders. We also discovered the second week of June tends to be Rare Chromosome Disorder Awareness Week - Internationally! We immediately thought of sharing Asher's story and combining it with our family's love for being active. Hence the start of Active4Asher.
To back track a little for those new to following us on Instagram or even this blog, our youngest son, Asher who this event is named was officially diagnosed at 1 years old after they tried so, so many other tests first with 13q deletion. Boring stuff: chromosomes have a short arm (p) and a long arm (q). Asher has a portion of his long arm gone. Here is the kicker, there really aren't enough known people in the world with his specific deletion. No one could and can tell us what to expect. Scientific literature has perhaps 250 cases suspected, 190 actually "studied". Most children struggle with communication and walking. There is only a small percentage that end up being able to do both. Most have significant global developmental delays. This is Asher. He sat up for the first time (by himself) at age 2, he crawled (kind hopped on his knees) at age 3 and just this year, started walking. All of this with tons of therapy. Yet, it lead us to want to share our journey, share his story and to inspire and encourage others to be understanding and inclusive.
This past Saturday marked the 3rd year for Active4Asher and our hearts are full! This year, not only did we receive sweet and loving messages from people, tagged in so many photos of people getting out and being active, but our in person event had people who didn't know each other prior introduce themselves to each other. This was the best. Friendship, acceptance, support and genuine caring is all anybody wants. Active4Asher is as much about spreading that message as it is about sharing rare chromosome awareness.
A quick story: Recently, while visiting my mother in the hospital, her nurse walks in. I introduce myself and she quickly remarks, "oh you're the daughter with 4 boys!" I say yes and smile because aside from "the daughter who is a runner", having 4 boys is my label when my mom talks about me. She asks to see pictures, so I oblige and show her a photo of all 4 and then a photo of each boy from the camera roll on my phone. She has a kind observation to make about each boy., but when she gets to Asher, she says "He's the one with a chromosome disorder? He looks so normal though" Now, I know she meant no harm and I wasn't mad, but her reaction is kind of the perfect reason why we want to share our message. Asher has his challenges, a lot as a matter of fact, he might be 4, but in some developmental areas he is 6 months, in others he is 12-18 months. However, he does look like a "typical" child so when he screams, has a complete meltdown, hurts his siblings or us, or hits his head the judgment can sometimes be horrible. Our goal is to spread the message to look past what we think people should be and simply get to know them, to truly be inclusive and supportive, to put aside our biases and labels. This past Saturday we felt the love, support and inspiration for all of you. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you.
I vowed never to run the full marathon at the San Diego Run Rock 'n' Roll ever again. I kept that promise until earlier this year when I asked my good friend, Brian what his plans were for the San Diego races. Before he could answer, I interrupted by saying that I wanted one of the cool snazzy Marathon Finisher jackets by Brooks. The next thing you know we were both registered for the Full Marathon!
Did I just really do this? There I was, registered for the full marathon - which actually holds my personal best time - all for a stinkin' lightweight jacket. I knew going into this race that I wouldn't be able to come anywhere near my PR time of 3:52:xx but I still needed to go in with some training under my belt. Plus, it was a great excuse to meet up with running friends that we don't get to see too often.
San Diego has to do it big especially since it's the 20th Anniversary of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series. They have a 5k, Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay and a full Marathon all happening over the weekend.
I've never run the 5k here in San Diego before - last year some of us were crazy enough to run #Fontana2SD. I was excited to knock out two races this weekend to earn the #remixchallenge medal which are much bigger than last year. Good on ya, RnR for upping the medal game this year!
The 5k was a blast and we used it as a shakeout run for the Full the next day. Best part is we caught Meb - you know, the hometown hero, Olympian, Boston Marathon Winner, legend Meb - after the race and took an epic selfie with him. Awesome dude.
My highlight of the day was surely the brunch we had after the race. Old and new running friends walked with us down to the Hillcrest neighborhood to an EPIC place called Snooze. OMG! Let's just say my FLIGHT! of pancakes was off da hook, bomb diggity! I can't stop thinking about them.
Brunch so good we all had to take a pic of our food. As social runners do.
We met up with Carlee and Ryan at our hotel and walked to the Expo to pick up bibs and this is when our evil plan began. You see, we have so much love for each other that we hate running alone, especially if it's not a goal race. Brian and I asked, knowing that she was already registered for the Half Marathon, what distance she was running. She smiled, we smirked and so it began. She knew our M.O. We wanted her to upgrade to the Full and run with us. While walking through the expo, she contemplated the upgrade. Thanks to more convincing (more like Peer Pressuring), and talking to the @SparkleAthletic crew, she was in. And as a matter of fact, we also got the Sparkle Crew to upgrade also! #SCORE!
We hit up dinner with a few close friends at BASIC pizza. Again, San Diego came through with awesome food and good beer. Knowing we had an early wake up call the next day, we picked up a couple of items for the morning and retired for the night.
Our alarms were set for early o'clock and somehow I was just so very tired. We met in the lobby and caught a ride to the start. The ride was quick and easy and we had enough time to get settled, snap a few pics on the way to the front of the corrals and check our bags. I shook the legs out a bit with a quick jog on the East side of the corrals and then met up for one of the most OUTRAGEOUS group pics ever.
Last year, our group was big. This year, it was ginormous. There was a nice ProCompression Ambassador turnout and we were rocking the June Sock of the Month out there on the course.
After a few selfies, hugs and well wishes, we jumped into the corral to get the 4 hour party started. That was our target finish time. Since Brian is training for a crazy ass Ultra at the SF Marathon next month, he was using this race as a training run of sorts. Remember, I'm in this thing for the jacket.
Our dear friend, Kristin is coming back from an injury and really just wanted to see what she was able to do with the full distance. The gun goes off and we all naturally fell into our own paces. Turns out, Brian and Carlee ended up out in front and Kristin and I fell in line just behind them. I was comfortable where I was at and let Kristin know that there were no hard feelings if she decided to jump out ahead to see what her legs could do.
We ended up running (and walking some) of the entire race together. I honestly couldn't have finished the race with the time I did if it weren't for her. The miles really did fly by since we were talking the whole time. Not until mile 21 (where I always seem to cramp up) did I feel like registering for this race was a bad idea. We had the opportunity to jump down to the half but didn't.
After offering to punch the cramp out of my calf at the base of the uphill climb, we trudged on up the BAD ASS hill that lasted for dayz! Hwy 163 is a terrible portion of the course and will put you in check if you don't respect it. There is even a "Come at me Bro" sign on the road. I didn't take a pic of it because I was busy cursing out my calf. Otherwise I would've been cursing at the sign.
We enjoyed the last few miles of gradual downhill onto the finish and crossed the line. I couldn't have been prouder of myself and my running partner. It was difficult but very, very rewarding.
I picked up my coveted jacket, medals and post race snacks and we headed back to the hotel to check out and get ready for the...
After the Show its the After Party
We arrived at the Float Bar at the top of the Hard Rock Hotel in the Gaslamp district for the @WeRunSocial post race party. The views of downtown SD were amazing. First thing on the agenda? Get a Beer and food. We met up with other finishers, spectators, etc. and celebrated our successes. There was a photographer on site who shot a bunch of candids and some fun group pictures as well. I can't wait to see how they turn out.
I was looking forward to this the whole weekend. Finishing the race and hanging with the crew is the perfect way to top off the weekend. I don't know if I would ever do the full here again (unless I get "tricked" into it). But hey, that's what I said the last time I ran the full. Go figure. I would love to run the Half Marathon Relay with Paula and that would complete the series for me. San Diego still remains one of my favorite cities to run in. I highly recommend coming down and running one of the races here at the birthplace of Run Rock 'n' Roll.
A week ago, our "little" family was able to take a much needed, extended vacation to Southern California. It wasn't because anyone was running a race - but let me tell you I thought about it - it was just to spend time together, decompress and come back to real life ready for the stressful, emotional time our family is going through right now.
Well, let me tell you I wish we had another week of vacation because the week coming back has been anything but easy. From one of our cars not working to bank accounts being compromised, it has been hectic. Yet, we try and try to find the silver lining, to count our blessings even though at times it seems as if the weight on our shoulders is beyond heavy.
We all still have goals on the horizon although with everything we are enduring we have to rethink how we train or what our expectations are for each race. David has Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon and San Francisco Marathon coming up. Yup, you read that right, two marathons within a couple months of each other, although I don't think he plans on setting a PR, but just to have fun. Our oldest, Gabriel will be running his first half marathon in September in Disneyland. Jacob and Elias are trying to find a 5k that interests them (pressure from us parents). I am eagerly looking forward to Seawheeze in August. Oh and Tink 5k before that! As for Asher, well he is happy to come along for the ride and hopefully we can find a kids race that is short enough for him to do. Also, we look forward to our 3rd #Active4Asher this year in June (we are excited for this). For those who may be new to the blog and our "little" Family, read about it here and here. So this is a huge blessing. ALL of us are training for a race, even Asher who less than 6 months ago wasn't walking then he started walking with a walker to now being able to dash down the hallway and not fall. So much growth! 💙
With all these races, it can be challenging to juggle it all and trust me we are far from hitting our weekly mileage goals. Some weeks we fall very short. Especially as of late. Many of you have met Asher in person or simply have followed along his story for awhile. To quickly let others know who might not, he has a Chromosome Disorder, 13q deletion. Very rare with no long term studies to really help us know what to expect. Asher turns 4 in June but he more closes acts as a typical one year old and is perhaps the size of a two year old. Walking was huge for us and now we hope and pray that one day he will talk. If you have ever met him, you know he's got a tremendous amount of spunk so I'm sure he has the ability. With that spunk and his delayed gross motor system along with other things, Asher also gets very excited and/or stressed. When this happens, he aggressively hits his own head and face. This is huge problem. It is scary to watch, frustrating because it can be nearly impossible to stop and his punches hurt grown adults so they are hard. For years, I have been pleading with others to please help him and us protect his tiny head and face. Recently, our school district finally agreed to observe him and offer a behavior plan. Win(!), but I don't think they fully understand how severe his head hitting can be. I'll spare you the photos of some of his bruises. Some are small but he has had huge ones too. The conclusion 'he hits his head for attention'. Such a simplistic answer for a really complicated, complex issue. Even more, he is getting more aggressive with others, pulling hair, biting. He doesn't mean to hurt anyone, but it can be easy to not want to take him anywhere for fear of how he will act. This year thus far I haven't been able to continue my fight for his services as strongly. Another major incident in our life is happening right now and along with many other little things, I just don't feel I have enough mental space to do it all. So in the process, I am feeling defeated and disappointed in myself. I feel I am failing him because he, at this point isn't making progress with as many things.
When I choose to run during my lunch, I spend half the time, sometimes the whole time, feeling incredibly guilty. I could be using that time to fight for him more. To push harder. It is said you never regret a run or workout. I'm here to tell you that is not 100% true. So lately I've been trying to run after work hours, thankfully it stays light longer but what comes with that is guilt for not being home to spend more time with my other boys if they don't come with me on my runs.
Asher alone can be overwhelming. Parenting is a full time job, but having a special needs child is a different type of full time job that unless you love it, I cannot really explain. With just Asher it is easy for life to become overwhelming, yet right now my family is being hit hard with challenges it seems. At this time and actually for a long time to come we are facing a huge uphill climb with the health of my mother. My mother, who graciously watched Asher 2-3 days a week was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma at the beginning of this year. Since November she hasn't actually been able to watch Asher due to the pain in her shoulder/arm where the lymphoma first started. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy but it is just the beginning of a very, very long process. My older sister has been wonderful, helping to organize her appointments because they are in the day and I can't always take her since children are not allowed in the Cancer Unit. I have been making my way to their house a few times a week to help clean it and to organize their finances. We all have found ways to help them and even though I wish I could go to more appointments, it is proving challenging to find a sitter for the boys for me to take the day to go. My siblings and I are a team that are helping based on our own strengths. There comes a point in adult life where you become the "sandwich generation". The period where you are raising your own children but then also needing to care for aging or ailing parents. I am in that period right now and let me tell you there really is no preparation, there isn't a way to schedule your life so when it happens the compounding amount of things that need to be attended to doesn't feel as if they are swallowing you up.
So although we have running goals and races on the horizon, trying to keep a little bit of our old life alive, all of us are struggling. When we have moments of time that we would have otherwise laced up to train without a thought, we pause and decide to run errands for my parents or I take the older boys to help clean their house or we spend extra time with the boys. The older boys know more about my mom's diagnosis. Elias just knows she is sick. Asher obviously doesn't understand and we typically cannot take him to see her because he wants to sit in her lap, but she is pain and cannot. He gets frustrated and starts to hit his head. It is a sad situation. There is the struggle to remember to take time to check in with the boys, their emotions and keep a routine for them, but also be there to clean the house or ensure they are both eating or take her to an appointment.
Our life right now is full of ups and downs. Our days are full of on-the-spot-decisions, finding what we can get done. Things fall through the cracks. For example I forgot Gabe had promotion pictures for the year book and didn't dress him up. Whoops! Then there are the bank issues, the car, trying to get Gabe into the high school he thought he was going to but the district said nope 👎🏽 and just the plain, day to day "stuff". Yet, we have to try to always find a way to count our blessings - like being able to take a week vacation with the boys, to the fact that Asher is walking (heck running), that the boys are happy and depend on each other very well, that we get to run at all, that a family friend, Norm has given Gabe a drum set that we would otherwise never be able to even consider, that I know my mom will be OK and that a year from now all this will be a distant memory.
So for now, enjoy the pictures from our trip. They don't show our stress or being overwhelmed, they show happiness because our family is truly what makes all these hard obstacles easy to navigate.
A year and a half ago running had slowed down for me. I barely got to 20 miles a week and it was due to a lot of things, but mostly a little guy who HATED the running stroller: Asher. If you follow our family Instagram account you know that my running companions are primarily my children, this has been true since I started running a few years ago. To have a child who hated the stroller and couldn't even really last a 5k distance, truly put a huge road block in my ability to get miles in during the week. However, with lots of hard work, getting a new stroller that truly changed the running game for us, he has come to love the stroller runs.
When Asher started to love stroller running, I made a goal for myself, a goal that didn't have an end date, but was a continuous effort to always improve. I set out to get faster and faster with my stroller 5k races. Am I the fastest? Heck no, not even close. Do I still run my heart out as if I am the fastest? Sure do! However, finding local stroller races is not such an easy task. Not to mention, being relegated to the very back is also a challenge. The navigating around so many people, trying to be polite and not accidentally bump an ankle, to save my energy to really go for it when I do get a clearing is trying and defeating at times.
Fast forward to a couple weekends ago and I hit the 5k stroller running race of my dreams! The She.Is.Beautiful race in Santa Cruz has been on my radar for a little while, but the cost of staying near Santa Cruz is outrageously expensive therefore I never took the leap and registered. Plus, and I'll be honest, the idea of an almost all women race wasn't the bees knees for me. Yet, thanks to an amazing friend and fellow runner, Erin (@erinamg), I took the leap, registered for my first 5k stroller race in a different city and it was the best thing ever! Why, you might ask? For many reasons: scenery, friends, support, but really this race has an actual stroller division! You can register to be in the stroller 5k or 10k. How awesome is that?!?!?! Oh and race photos are FREE! 🙌🏽. More races need to do both of these things: stroller divisions and free race photos.
Dave was so supportive and looked for a hotel as soon as possible. We ended up getting a decent deal in San Jose, about 45 minutes away. It meant that we would have to wake up early to get to Santa Cruz, find parking and make sure to warm up beforehand. The kids were great about it all. I admit I feel guilty every race when I have to wake them up to get to a cheer location or a finish line but over the few years we have been running, they have been great sports about it. To be honest, I think they like all the free swag afterwards. With 6 of us in the family, we certainly collect a lot of water bottles, stickers, and protein bars. Lol.
Race morning, everyone was up early and we were on the road on time, about 6:15. The race started at 8:30, but we wanted to make sure to get there and feed Asher, giving him enough time to have his breakfast settle before the race (again, if you follow us, you know Asher has digestive issues). Dave found a spot about a half mile from the start. We all ate something (my fuel was a banana and a kit kat bar. Don't judge!) and around 7:45, we got the stroller out and Asher and I waved them goodbye as they drove to mile 2, to set up a little cheer station for us.
Since I was so close to the start line, my warm up was up and down the street which was a little awkward. The other racers were chatting, taking pics, hanging out in the starting line chute while I ran back and forth. There were others warming up, but no strollers doing so just yet. I will also say wearing my team singlet also made me hyper sensitive to my actions. I love representing the Fleet Feet team, but it does bring with it the insecurities that others might think I'm super fast or showing off or whatever. I know that its all in my head, but the self consciousness is real. Luckily, I had been (bugging) texting Erin and she was so kind to let me join her running team in the front. I even got to meet Meg (@peglegmegruns) IRL! Not to mention, the entire Wolf Pack racing team (@runwolfpack) that I met that morning are complete badass, super fast, wonderfully welcoming women. I won't, but I could seriously go on and on about how awesome these ladies are. Very inspiring.
I had been sick the week prior, including the Shamrockn 5k race the weekend prior, so I didn't have huge goals. My last stroller 5k was last November and it was 23:xx. I had hoped to get as close as I could to that time as possible. I knew that Meg and Erin were running the 10k (with strollers mind you) and a little after the 2 mile mark, the two races split off. I had in mind that I would keep them in sight, who cares how far ahead they were, but just try to keep them in view and use them to somewhat pace me. Well, it kind of worked. I lost Erin (she WON the 10k stroller division!!) way before the 2 mile split. She sped off with such ease. I tried to keep up with Meg (second place 10k stroller division winner!!!), but my hard effort compared to Meg's graceful strides at the start was just too much for me. My first mile was too fast and I paid for it once I hit mile 2. Side note: both these mother runners can finish a stroller 10k faster than my non stroller 10k, just to give you a little insight to their speed. Crazy fast and they make it look easy. I was in pain, my chest was tight and it felt like an elephant was sitting on top of me. I forced a smile around mile 2 when I saw Dave and the kids, but afterwards I was barely holding on. Negative splits, uh, no. I got slower with each mile and I knew it.
By the time I rounded the corner for the last three quarters of a mile back, the only thing keeping me going and not walking was the massive crowds on the other side of the road cheering me on. "Go mama!", "Way to run with that stroller!", "You got this!". My face was not smiling, I was wincing, but I gave them a thumbs up and kept pushing forward. As I approached the finish line, I noticed a sign that read something like "prepare for hi-5's ahead". For some reason that sign gave me a little energy, but there were no hi-5's. Lol. Once I crossed the line, I saw the first place 5k stroller winner and gave her a hi-5 with a great race. Let me tell you she is FAST finishing in 20:xx! A-MAZE-ING! I made my way to pick up my race shirt and swag bag. Wish I had taken a pic of the stuff, but I was just trying to catch my breath and take it all in before the other racers finished.
The race was perfect, not so much my running. Although I ended up with a second place stroller division finish and a 40+ second PR, I wasn't truly happy with how I ran the race. I didn't feel my strongest and I started out way to fast. Obviously the views were gorgeous, the weather was nice at 52 degrees and the support of each other was truly a significant part of the experience. As I waited for the family, I walked around and read many of the quotes on signs in the finish area. I snapped a pic of some of them and told myself to try to remember so many of these when I was having a bad day or feeling defeated.
The race has another location in their series, in Santa Barbara. It is on my list! I am hoping to run this year, yes with the stroller. I won't have other stroller running mama's I know to help me start at the front of the race, hoping I have enough guts to do so myself. Perhaps, with hard work, I can shave some seconds of that current PR, adding more to my goal of becoming faster and faster with my stroller running 5ks.
Last month (I know, it took forever for me to share this family experience!) we were fortunate enough for one, great weather and two to be able to spend half he day in Fort Mason at Plae's Spring/Summer shoe launch. It was a blast, seriously. The event was very family friendly without being obnoxiously child event cliche. The Plae team so skillfully utilized every logical space in the building and outside to get kids and parents alike moving.
They had contracted with Acro Sports of SF to set up a parkour course around the building. From jumping to tumbling to balancing you name it they had it. I kept telling Dave "omg this would make the best 5th birthday party for Asher!!" Just so you know he turns 5 next year, so Acro Sports, do you come to Sacramento to to do events?!?! 😜.
In general, my children are a bit shy at first. They hesitate to jump right in to any gathering (they get that from me, Dave is a social butterfly in my opinion), but after about 15 minutes I think we lost Elias as he was running around doing all the stations, gabe was sent to keep an eye on him, Jacob LOVED the fuzzy room with the sweet treats and inflated balls and Asher well he was squealing, laughing and grabbing strangers as he ran FROM us. Haha! He enjoyed every bit of it.
The team really thought of everything from sweet treats perfectly portioned, to fizzy drinks (not soda 🙌🏽🙌🏽), different activities that utilized many skills, an awesome dj spinning old school beats that had me singing. I mean who can't sing and dance to Janet Jackson?!?! Oh and they had a fabulous parkour performance from some of the children associated with Acro Sports .
Check out some of the snapshots we took. It was seriously a blast and would love to experience this again. We love local, we love stylish and we absolutely love a family friendly business!
The day was perfect and we cannot share how much we love this shoe company enough. We weren't compensated for attending or even sharing this event. We just truly love this company. As parents of active boys and as parents of a child with special needs, their shoes check tons of boxes for us. They stand up to lots of play, but they also allow Asher to wear cool shoes that work with his needs and equipment! Thanks GoPlae for a great family friendly and fun event. And thank you for making stylish, durable shoes for my active boys and for Asher to wear with his braces. ❤
Did you know that #WeRunSocial was born out of the Phoenix Marathon way back in 2015? Well, it's a special place and I was lucky enough to experience it this weekend.
Lucky is the appropriate word here because I won a bib from the ever-amazing Emily aka, @runemz. She's a Phoenix native, a BMO Phx Marathon Ambassador and she held a contest on her Instagram for a free race entry.
I told my wife that if I enter and happen to win, that I would have to go and she said "you better enter that contest!" I'm glad that I did and here is my entry photo. Funny thing is Emily didn't notice that I photoshopped myself in the picture. Hey, I guess it just looked so natural and that I fit in so well with the crew. 😉
I flew to Phx on Friday morning and was graciously picked up by the greatest Uber driver(s) ever, Brian @pavementrunner and Sarah @hereforthewine. They had an extremely popular Instagram live session the night before which involved beer, race plans and a q&a.
Before any of us got too hangry, we drove to a nearby Starbucks for breakfast. After fueling up with coffee for the long day ahead we were off to our next stop, shopping! We drove a short ways away to the nearest Lululemon outlet and did a small amount of damage.
We then headed to the #werunsocial meet-up sponsored by @procompression which was located at the expo. So many cool running friends know how to squeeze into tight spaces for epic photos!
My first impressions of the expo were good when I saw the quality of the merchandise that the @phxmarathon were selling. The tees were nice quality and the designs were not over stated. I didn't buy one but I did like them. We went inside, picked up bibs, did a quick walk through to pick up shirts and they even gave out socks! They had a photographer setup who was very patient with our silly group when it came to having our picture taken. Overall the expo was organized and easy to navigate.
We circled back inside to the PRO booth and socialized, selfied it up and talked racing and socks! It's challenging to meet up in such a small expo space as we seem to be blocking the aisles and even the PRO booth. This didn't stop them from selling a bunch of socks though!
We went to dinner with friends that night and what's better than pizza and beer on the night before a race? NOTHING! Except when it's with good company. One of the greatest attractions in Phoenix, Arizona is a place called La Grande Orange Grocery - it's freaking amazing! Their pizzas are the bomb, they have good ass beer and inside the store there's a section of "old school candy"! Where else can you buy a vegan pizza, a delicious IPA and a packet of Pop Rocks?!
After a long day of travel and socializing, we called it a night.
3am wake up calls are for Disney races only right? WRONG! Since we were a few minutes drive away from the race shuttle buses, which was also where the finish line was located, we had to set out early to get there. It was cold - desert when the sun goes down, cold. Call me a wimp but it was not my jam. When your Marathon friends get to stay on their bus and had fire pits to stay warm next to, you send them texts at 4:50am that read:
Ryan @ruggedwoodsman and I huddled around a heatlamp with very little success. Since 87% of the human population is taller than me, the wind was blocked from those who were huddled around our layer of the heat lamp.
We left the heat lamp to use the port-a-potty and fortunately picked the fastest moving line around us. Afterwards Ryan and I were able to do a nice long lap around the surrounding buildings as a quick warmup. The feelings in our fingers and toes were beginning to come back! After witnessing a woman drop her running tights like it was hot to pee behind a wall (I can never unsee that), we quickly checked our bag and hit the starting line. Our timing was perfect as our heart rates were up, blood was flowing to our hands and legs and we hit the ground running when the gun went off.
I was smart enough to bring a long sleeve tee as a throw away but I didn't expect to throw it away so late in the race. I believe I ditched it between miles 4 and 5. Speaking of miles, they went by very quickly as Ryan and I were talking up a storm. Our pace was consistent and we both found it just right. We both weren't trying to PR, focused only on having an evenly comfortable race.
The course was fair and forgiving. No major climbs and descents. It was not scenic by any means and if I was running alone, I could've easily been very bored. The support on the course was adequate and evenly placed. Never were we wondering when the next aid station was. We finished with a nice kick at the end and for a HOT second, Ryan thought that he might've PR'd! We came to find out that he did not but it still was a great race!
Remember how I told you that the expo was well organized? Well the Post Race festivities were easily the star of the show. There was french toast from Kneaders that was worth going back to a different line so they don't recognize you, for! There were also bbq sandwiches, tons of free snacks and even creamsicles! Once we were able to wipe off the magical french toast syrup from our faces, we left the finishers area to grab our jackets from our checked bag and walk around to scope out the fun games and vendor booths.
Easily the highlight of the morning was the free post-race massage given out to runners. I have to admit (please don't judge me) that this was my very first massage, like ever. I enjoyed it so much that I took a picture with my massage therapist, Christine. She touched me with her magical fingers and i'll never forget it.
After mulling around for a bit we decided to head out, get food, clean up and rest. There was a Pro Compression dinner that night at O.H.S.O Brewery where we were able to meet other PRO enthusiasts and ambassadors. This is what I love about getting out to these special events. Meeting friends we've followed on Social for a long time, in real life. We drank, ate and shared stories about how our races went, running in costumes, Spring Training happening down the street, you name it. This ended a very quick race-cation for me which was just the right prescription to get me out of my running funk.
Has a race ever taken you out of a running funk before?
Sunday I raced the San Francisco Kaiser Half Marathon. Beautiful course. Running through Golden Gate Park and along the Great Highway was stunning. I certainly enjoyed the views if nothing else.
Now I could easily give you a play-by-play of the race, the course, the post race goodies - and I will in a little bit - but mostly I took away a lot from yesterday's run and hope to keep what I learned at the forefront of my training and racing for 2017.
To backtrack a little, Dave, Asher and I made the trip down on Saturday and got a little sightseeing in, just the 3 of us. The other boys weren't to eager to spectate another race with an early morning wake up call. Can't blame them. Although we missed them, we enjoyed being tourists and reminiscing about our days living in San Francisco. The day started with brunch/lunch with some truly wonderful people and ended with a stroll through Golden Gate Park. The weather was great (both days actually) so I couldn't have asked for anything more.
Back to the race. I registered somewhat late. I had heard rumblings from many people that this is a "PR course". I have run SF before, a much, much hillier course and did pretty well, but I certainly didn't want to do it again. When I heard the words "PR" and "downhill" I thought what the hell, why not. My decision was made for the most part before I ran Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon so initially I was thinking PR city! After obtaining my current PR there at the Star Wars Half, I changed my goals.
1. To race smarter than Star Wars by not speeding up too soon
2. Try to maintain a challenging but not exhausting pace to evaluate my mental and physical endurance.
Well, I cant say I was 100% successful but for the most part I kept paces that pushed me hard for the mile I was running at the time. I was as fast as a 7:25 one mile to as "slow" as 8:05 another, so not really that consistent. Overall a 7:52 average. This pace - on another course - might actually be the challenging pace I need it to be rather than the "ugh this the worst".
Now let all be clear, in order for a race to be downhill, you have to go uphill. Lol. It is San Francisco and there were inclines. Not sure I'd say they were hills in terms of San Francisco but definitely inclines. Last May, I ran Napa and the uphill of this race wasn't as strenuous as those. I had studied the elevation map of the course the night prior. I made mental notes of the steepest parts and the downhills and tried to adjust accordingly. Surprisingly it wasn't the hills that tired me, it was the long turn around stretch of the Great Highway. That was brutal. Yet, it was the best part to have spectators come out and cheer you on. Inside the park, it was kind of lonely to not have any cowbelling going on. If someone was to ask me to describe this course it wouldn't be flat as the online description says, I'd say rolling inclines for the first half with long, flat, tough stretch the second half. The last half mile is an uphill finish, be prepared. Lol.
In all honesty, I mentally gave up around mile 9. I've never "given up" on a race course before. I had to fight and motivate myself, but from mile 9-12, there was no amount of self talk that could get me out of hating it all. When I saw Dave around mile 9 and then again at mile 11, I'll admit I thought about stopping and telling him that I just wanted to go home. Could I have had a stronger finish, maybe even a better finish time? Sure, but again in all honesty my heart wasn't in it, I couldn't make myself go faster or want it more. It just wasn't in me on Sunday. I wasn't excited until mile 12.6 when I turned that corner and knew that damn finish was a half mile away. A race volunteer at that point yelled out, "one more mile!" I yelled back, "Liar! Better not be a mile". Told the guy next to me it was an alternative fact. 😬
First race with the team. Highlight of the entire race!
I wouldn't say this was my strongest race. I'm not even sure I would run it again. Wait, I take that back. This is one of the first half marathons that I saw strollers being allowed. If I ran it again, I would run it with a stroller. Solo, probably not. Despite having mixed emotions from this race, I have spent time reflecting on my performance. I had said in another blog post, I wanted to use this race to test my strength. It did that. I have a ways to go to build my mental strength. I have to be able to push myself forward even when my body isn't cooperating, even when I'm doubting my abilities. If I'm being 100% honest, I walked away from this race disappointed in myself. Not because of my finish time, but really how I let myself get in my own way. I just couldn't will more determination on that course and that is what makes me upset. By mile 10 I told myself it was ok to "give up," essentially. I wasn't pushing myself forward, I just decided to slow down enough to get through. A goal for 2017, work on believing in myself more, pushing myself hard, being my own cheerleader because what I also learned is that having little to no spectators on the course kills my vibe. I need the hi-5s and funny signs to distract me and get me through. It's funny how races teach runners more about mental fortitude than splits and finish times.
In a matter of approximately a week, I traveled to Florida to run the Walt Disney World Marathon and back to California to run in the Star Wars - Light Side Half Marathon weekend. I wasn't one of the "crazies" that ran Dopey (all 4 races for WDW Marathon weekend) and also all 3 Disneyland Star Wars Races. Nonetheless, 3 races with 3 very different efforts surely made me tired, more than I thought it would. I blame getting old(er). Haha!
A little back story, about a year ago I was suppose to run a race on the east coast but unfortunately never got there due to the frustrations that go with flying aka delayed flights, missing connections and so forth. Luckily, my sister and I were registered for the WDW marathon so although a long wait, I'd have another go at a racecation MINUS kids. Wait, what? Yup, 5 days (2 of them traveling) without kids! Traveling wasn't without some stress as I almost missed my connection yet again due to my first flight leaving an hour late, but I made it. Whew!
It's odd once you become a parent to travel minus any children. You feel a strong urge to do all the things that you can't do when you have them in tow or at least do the things they complain endlessly about when with you. Things like go shopping and try on all the things or have a few drinks or even sleep in because we all know children have no idea what sleeping past 6am means. Yet, I did none of that. It's a runDisney weekend, sleep doesn't happen because of those ungodly wake up times! I did manage to have fun with my sister Marie and Anette.
We could only do one park so Epcot it was. This is easily my favorite park. I just love walking around the many countries in World Showcase. I'm not much of a ride person so Epcot is perfect to get a Disney feel without having to jump on a ride. The weather was perfect and so were the treats! Note, my sister took my to eat breakfast at Kona and I had the pancakes - Pineapple Macadamia Nut Pancakes. Oh. Em. Gee. So so good. I did order a side of fruit to "balance" out the meal a bit.
Heading into the weekend, the weather took a drastic change. Severity of rain increases plus lightening and thunder were possibilities I clearly remember Friday night hearing the rain coming down. It sounds as if buckets were just being emptied outside our window. Needless to say, the WDW half marathon was cancelled then next day to much disappointment but clearly for the safety of runners, volunteers and spectators. Yet, that wasn't going to prevent runDisney runners from getting in their 13.1! The next morning runners, spectators and cast members alike got out along resort running paths and in the rain and wind ran the miles needed.
It was a wonderful thing to participate in because it wasn't about corrals and pace. It wasn't about winning and medals. It was about completing a goal, encouraging others, making new running friends.
So Saturday was the rain, thunder and lightening. Sunday was freezing temperatures with winds dropping it to the teens. Ummmm I didn't prepare for that in any way! Hello, I was wearing a tank, arm sleeves and a sparkle athletic skirt! We rushed, as did everyone else who did not prepare for such cold temps, to Disney Springs and rushed from store to store trying to find anything. We only managed to get gloves, everything else was sold out in our size or just sold out. I enjoy running in cold temps due to performance. Although I hate being uncomfortable, I tend to "race" better in temps in the 30s and low 40s. Yet, I was worried about the teens. Northern California gets cold but where I live high 20s and low 30s is ever how cold it gets. Race morning came, we were freezing. We were in corral O so we waited as long as possible around the space heaters before braving the cold. Once in the corral we joked around and made friends with those around us. We waited an hour to start, but once we crossed that start line I joked with my sister and her friend that "positive Paula" was in her element. I was peppy and ready to conquer 26.2.
The race plan for the day was run 2 minute and walk 1 minute, trying to keep a sub 12 minute average. After talking with my sister, I adjusted jay plan to try to keep under 13 minutes per mile yet didn't tell her. I knew she would want to keep the original plan, but having run a marathon previously I knew it is hard to go out at your best pace and try to get better. A huge thank you to Ivie (@ivieanne) who gave me great tips on the run/Walk method. I set my watch up for the intervals since I was the unofficial pacer for them and prepared to raise my hand when I walked and move to the right. Side note: not all people follow that rule. Many many people just stop and walk in the middle of the path. Frustrating slightly.
Both of these women did amazing, they kicked ass! For 18-19 miles, through self doubt and slight sass (towards me. Lol) they maintained around a 12:30 pace. I was amazed at their consistency. I kept telling them how well they were doing. Heck my sister did her long runs 18-20 miles on a treadmill. I do not have the mental strength and would have given up. Haha! Mile 19, Wide World of Sports complex mentally wore them down. I admitted to them that this "park" can be challenging. You are not sure where you are going, how long you will be in the complex and so forth. It's not like one of the parks where you can see an attraction and characters and be distracted. I tried my best to keep them motivated but I knew I was losing them. With 10k left, I had to dig deep and pull out the cheerleader. They were hurting. They were tired and hungry. They were feeling mentally wore down. I didn't tell them that I was exhausted and having doubts too. I didn't tell them that I was worried about the pain they were feeling and for the last 10k I adjusted the 2 minutes/1 minute to 1:30 minutes/2:30 minutes sometimes 3 minutes. I kept assessing in my mind is the pain they are feeling serious enough to call in the towel. These thoughts rushed through my head from mile 20 until 24.5. Yet they finished. They finished with a smile and upright. It was a moment that I am so grateful to have been a witness. I was able to be there when two strong women pushed past what they thought they might not be able to do and become marathoners, even more they finished in under 6 hours!
I have to take this moment to talk about the "back of the pack" (we were placed in the second to last corral due to deferring the race and missing proof of time). I strongly encourage anyone who has never been one of these runners to do so and to do so with a fellow runner. It is a wonderful experience. It is a humbling experience. There were many runners once they hit around mile 15-16 remarked they were tired. They were struggling. Others around were quick to encourage. So many runners offering to run alongside, offer fuel, offer encouraging words. It was such an example of kindness and caring, but even more it was examples of strength, perseverance, determination, just plain old grit. I'm a middle of the pack runner for the most part and I often get to see lots of people cheering, most people around me are racing by and quickly offering encouragement but it is a different type of experience. This isn't my first time being a little further back at the start of race, but to do so for 26.2 is something I am glad I was able to do. It had me digging deeper to encourage myself and others, tapping into my own physical and mental strength.
Once the race was over, I had that day to rest and then back on the plane to head home and prepare for Star Wars Half Marathon weekend.
To say that I was mentally prepared for Star Wars half marathon would be a lie. To be honest, I only wanted to run the 5k. Bucket list item was to run all runDisney races before 40. Well, they added races and the cost of the races could feed my children for a couple months..I joke, kinda. They are pricey. So I changed my goal to run all the west coast runDisney races before 40. I only had Star Wars 5k and Super Heroes 10k left. Dave being the eager with his clicking surprised me with the half marathon race too. I'm grateful but I like to get as much sleep as 4 kids will allow me these days.
5k race day my goal was to use it as a shake out run. I've never really raced a 5k at Disneyland, mostly just run for fun with the boys or as a shake out. I got to the corral a little late, just under 15 minutes to the start of the race so I ended up towards the back. No concerns because I wasn't racing it for time. After crossing the start line I realized hardly anyone was racing the 5k. I was stuck behind a wall of very happy walkers. That's ok, I get that not everyone wants to zoom through the race, but even though I wasn't trying to be fast I was hopeful to get done, get coffee and hope I could catch another hour of sleep before the kids woke up. Needless to say I ended up walking/jogging about .4 of the first mile. Once I found open spots I started to sprint around crowds. I don't know if it was my nervousness or anxiousness to find a clearing to get into my groove but in the dark I kept pushing the lap button on my watch I may or may not have cursed to myself. Clearly I know where the light button is, but I was all thumbs for the first 1.5 miles. I didn't stop for pictures, coffee was calling my name. I passed a handful of women around mile 2 and then slowly started passing a couple more here and there. Closer to the finish I passed two more women and one woman passed me. As she did, I heard the announcer state "we have the second and third female finishers coming in". Right after passing the cameras, I looked around saying 3rd?!?! I was amusing to the volunteers giving medals because I was still saying it. I've never had that happen in a large race. A nice confidence booster heading into the weekend mentally preparing for the half marathon on Sunday.
I have to share that I haven't raced or run a half marathon since May 2016. I'm not sure why exactly, but one reason is I PR'd in May and in the race I felt completely comfortable and strong. There was fear that another half wouldn't garner the same results or feelings. Of course I know not all races are rainbows and sunshine, great paces and negative splits. However, I know my fellow runners can relate to the countless number of races you run where not everything aligns leading up to that one race where everything aligns: pace, fuel, temperature, hydration, etc. everything seems to be perfectly matched. For me, I've had many great races but there might have been 1 or 2 things amiss, in May everything just felt right.
Heading into this race I just wasn't sure what to expect. In May, I ran around a 1:45. I wasn't aiming for that. I did know that I wanted to PR my half marathon this year, this was not the race. I had a couple things I wanted to keep in mind - I wanted to run happy. I was using this race to test my endurance. I wanted to enjoy my time on the course with a goal of 2:00 or less. Now before you roll your eyes, I admit I could have been more ambiguous and say "I just want to finish". Now that I'd say please give a huge eye roll. I knew I would finish. The thought process was find the 2:00 pacer and stick with he/she for 3-4 miles. If I felt good, pick up the pace to chase down the 1:55 pacer. I knew I probably would find that pacer but I kept it in my head to make sure my running wasn't all over the pace. IF I found the 1:55 pacer, stick with them for 2ish miles and if I felt good, increase speed and aim for 1:50-1:55 finish. Well, PSA there is no 2:00 or even 1:55 pacer in corral A. Duh! So I ended up placing myself a couple of rows behind the 1:45 pacer. I am so grateful to Erin (@erinamg) who had texted me the night before and at 5am that morning. She offered a great advice and basically helped calm my nerves. I was anxious as 5:30 approached, my heart racing for sure.
Back to the 1:45 pacer, I decided that I wanted to keep this pacer in sight. Last minute decision about 5 minutes before the race started. I told myself to not care if I could clearly read the 1:45 sign or it was a speck in the distance, just make sure I could see it. The race started and we were off. 1:45 pacer a few seconds faster as we entered DCA. At the transition between DCA and DL, I had caught up to the 1:45 pacer and felt good. Strong and comfortable with the pace. Now you remember how I keep hitting the lap button on 5k day? So I waited for lit areas in the dark to catch a glimpse at my watch. When I di look at it while we were leaving the parks I saw the pacer was racing too fast, around a 7:45 pace. I pulled back and told myself to ease up, calm down and relax. When I say told myself, literally I spoke those words out loud. Runners around me looked at me, one gentleman gave me a thumbs up. Yet once on Harbor, I saw the open road and I just ran by feel, passing the 1:45 pacer with his voice eventually fading. I had studied the course and knew it was basically 2, 2, 2, 2 until I would turn and see the mile 12 sign. No more than 2 miles in each direction. I tried to take the race by those breakdowns. My 5k split was 7:51, 10k split was 7:48 and 15k was 7:35. Everything was feeling pretty good. I was high-5ing cheerleaders, cosplay spectators, people along side the road. I was thanking police officers. It was great. I was having fun! By mile 8 I felt a little fatigue but not tremendously. I told myself to be aware of this tiredness because by mile 10-11, I would need to push hard since I sped up too fast. Well, when I turned the corner a little after mile 9 I hit some slight headwind. Now, the actually headwind might have not been too great. Yet I was getting a little tired, I picked up too early and the sun was coming out at this point. I tried in vain to keep pace but slowed by 15+ seconds. I then told myself to just run by effort until mile 11 when I would turn left and the wind would be at my side. My 10 was a 7:55 pace. I was slipping.
Thank goodness for friends like Ivie (@ivieanne), Jen (@pinkcupcakegirl) and AJ (@a2thej44). Around mile 11.5, they shouted my name. It was a point where I was bargaining with myself. I was telling myself I had "banked" time. Never ever count on banking time. No no. I was slowly giving up. Hearing them cheer, gave me an added boost. At mile 12, Dave ran to cheer me on and snap a pick as I ran by. Another added boost. The last mile had to be all me. I was hurting slightly at this point. My left hamstring was tight and right quad was sore. I wasn't sure what my time would be or if I'd be able to finish strong. I had stopped looking at my watch around mile 11. It was messing with my mind and I was feeling defeated. As I approached mile 13 I saw the time read 1:41:36 and I felt the urge to start sprinting. Haha! I clearly cannot finish .1 in less than 24 seconds but I was going to try. I crossed the finish line less than a minute later for a new PR of 1:42 and I couldn't be prouder. I was slightly emotional to say the least. It's funny, in the past I would have kept my emotions bottled up. Happy or sad, but 6 months ago I decided it's ok to show my feelings when I've accomplished something I didn't know I was capable of doing.
I have another race in less than 2 weeks. A half marathon in San Francisco. No I'm not trying to PR or even come close to my current PR. I'm not going to have a goal to "just finish" or even try for 2:00s. Specific goals, not entirely sure but as I said before Disneyland was a confidence booster and endurance assessment. SF I'm searching for strength and consistency. I want to try to lock into a pace that is comfortably challenging and see if I can maintain it. I have an entire year to try to run faster than 1:42. Goals take patience and hard work. I may not run a 1:42 again this year and that's ok, yet I plan on making it my goal to work towards beating that time. So far 2017 racing has been pretty damn awesome!
The marathon is 26.2 miles. That's a whole heck of a lot of miles to be traveling. On foot. Running. Or in my case this time, sometimes jogging, sometimes walking. Traditionally, people train to run these things. Call us crazy but there are thousands of us who like torturing ourselves, I guess. Why we do it is another story and everyone has a different one to tell. We’ll save that for another post.
But before we get to the nitty gritty of the race itself, let’s first review how the weekend started out.
There was a an official shakeout run on Saturday, which a bunch of #werunsocial folks participated in. I even got to meet Katrin, Woot! It was a nice 3 miles around the Capital on a cool sunny morning. We hit up the expo afterwards where I bought a hoodie. #treatyoself, David, you’re about to run a marathon tomorrow!
Following the shakeout run, a bunch of folks met up for coffee at a nearby Starbucks. We chatted, talked race plans, and enjoyed hot beverages. Fun times.
Leading up to the Race
I began my training cycle for this race back in August and committed to achieving a Personal Best (PB) or Personal Record (PR) which was anything under 3 hours and 52 minutes. That time was achieved back in June of 2014. My “A” goal was to finish the race in 3:45. I felt my body was ready to take on the training cycle at the required paces. That was until about 2 1/2 weeks before the race. I developed pain in my lower left leg (calf) and just couldn’t recover well enough to be 100% on race day.
The training plan I used this cycle was the Hansons Marathon Method. True, I may not have stuck to the plan to the exact T (for example: running a 9 mile tempo instead of a 10 mile tempo, at times). But, the plan has worked in the past. Like I said before, I used this method and even set a PR with it. This is why I thought, “Wow, that was great! I’m going to use it again and try for a faster time.” I’m glad that I had a plan but now I realize that I need to try something new. Not to knock a specific plan (to each his own, right?) but my take away is that I understand how a training plan is a necessary tool for a successful marathon.
I just didn’t feel strong enough for this race. There were lots of rolling up and downs in the early miles which really beat up my quads. I was sore for days after. It’s hard to train for hills when there aren't that many where we do a bulk of our training. Also, I think that not completing more long runs - and when I mean long, i’m saying more than 16 or 18 miles - was a major factor in how I performed. My body just didn’t know what it felt like to be out there that long.
The time it took me to run the first half of the marathon was respectable. You never want to go out too fast in a marathon. Sure, if you’re feeling good, go for it but be careful. That feeling can, and usually does, come back and bite you in the ass. Hard.
That leaves me with the second half of the race - the dreaded “wall” and the finish. My wife, as supportive as ever when it comes to training and racing, told me that she would be at mile 20 (the “wall”) to cheer me on. As I approached that mile marker, I frantically looked for her. It didn’t help that Mile 20 was a relay exchange point which meant that many people were lined up on both sides of the street. As I passed the relay exchange point, I finally saw her with running friends, cheering. I slowed down to a jog, and then a walk, hanging my head a bit low and shrugging my shoulders as if to say “well, I made it this far…” I had nothing left emotionally. I was just glad to see her. Our good friend Jen encouraged a kiss and I was happy to oblige. I needed that something to keep me going for the last 10k. Thank you Jen for capturing what, to me, was the best moment of my race. Not crossing the finish line, not toeing the start line but being supported when it counted the most.
I crossed the finish line with pride. Even after a gosh awful 14 minute mile 25. Hey, I finished twenty six point freaking two miles of running! I’ll easily take this race as a lesson learned. I’m always thankful, never taking anything for granted, that I’m able to run another day.