A Look Back on 2015: Chasing A Time & Trying Again Another Day

Now that I’m all settled in a new place, here’s one of the posts that’s been sitting around…


The last year has been a bit unusual for me.

Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve pretty much PRed every race I’ve run.

If not a new PR, I’ve run exactly the same time as my then-PR (twice! Once in back to back half marathons and another with 5Ks that were a year apart). Disregarding races when coming back from injuries of course.

So the Boston Marathon was a bit of an anomaly.

Add into that, Boston is Boston. It’s a race full of fast people that some of us (who are young or not serial Boston runners) have dreamed the ‘if only one day I can be fast enough to run it’ dream.

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I Ran My Slowest Half Yet & Had A Blast

Fair warning: half recap & half general thoughts ahead.

Last weekend I ran the San Jose Rock’N’Roll Half Marathon.

It was my slowest half marathon yet at 2:13, yet it’s probably near the top as most fun I’ve had during a race. Normally, I’m a hyper-competitive racer & while that is fun in itself, there’s always a little extra stress involved in chasing a good time.

I signed up for San Jose several months ago, when I still had plenty of time to train and the intention of doing so (it’s a flat course, so could be a good one to try for a PR). Unfortunately, life got in the way between then & now. No training happened and running by itself barely did.

To make competition even less likely, I caught a cold the weekend before that I’d been fighting to shake all week just to do the race. Before Friday, I wasn’t sure I could make it to my car without passing out. So my participation was up in the air. Luckily, I managed to fight the cold off enough to at least take part but I knew I wasn’t going to be really competitive.

At the start, I had decided I would just aim to stay under 2 hours. Pacing for the first few miles had me comfortably around a 1:55 finish time. But this is the Rock’N’Roll race series, what’s a good race without some good music?

Somewhere around mile 5 or 6, I passed one of the bands & they were playing a song I love: Flirting with Disaster by Molly Hatchet (thanks dad!). And I decided: why struggle to get a “good time” when I know I wasn’t in shape for it, when I could take it easy, enjoy the music & just have fun making it to the finish line?

So that’s what I did! Took short breaks near the bands to dance & enjoy the music, walked through water stations while I chatted with the volunteers, and just appreciated a beautiful day in San Jose. I did have to make use of my trusty inhaler once during mile 12. It worked out though, as I was joined by a few mobile paramedics checking on me while I walked and got to chat. They can definitely appreciate not pushing too hard to make it to the finish line.

I remember always telling myself that if I was injured or not feeling well or not trained up or any other excuse, that I’d simply bask in running a race and having fun. Yet I’ve always been too competitive to do so. This is the first time and I had a blast!

Sure, I’d love to come back & run RnR San Jose again when I’m trained because it really is a flat course. It could be great to chase a PR on it. Yet when it was all said & done, I feel just as accomplished finishing this half marathon slower than any other I’ve run and rocking out during it.

The moral of this story: it doesn’t always have to be about competition or chasing a PR. It is entirely possible to just have fun at a race.

Race Recap: Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

And that’s marathon #4!

This race wasn’t originally planned. After recovering from Boston and from the cold I got following Boston, I started looking around to see if I could find a marathon to make another attempt at a 3:30. During Boston, I made the conscious choice 16 miles in to pull back. So I felt like it was worth looking a few weeks out rather than picking a race later in the year & having to train the full 4 months ago.

Luckily, a fellow runner and friend (Katherine) was also chasing a 3:30. After asking what time frame I should be looking at, to realistically recover and get in a couple weeks of training, she and I connected to try and find a race.

By the way, the recommendation was to find a race 7-8 weeks out. We picked one that was 5.
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Recap: 119th Boston Marathon

So life has been pretty busy since I ran Boston, but I hopped back on to write a new post & realized that even though I wrote up my entire recap for Boston a few days after, I never actually published it! Self fail. So here’s that post, unchanged, a month late. Oops?


 I AM A BOSTON MARATHONER!!!

Woo, got that off my chest. Final finish time was 3:45:54 for a pretty solid marathon. Now this recap is going to be all over the place, mostly because the day itself was crazy and partly because I’m not sure quite how to express it.

Fair warning: really long post ahead!

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Even the airport got some Boston Marathon flavor.

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The Boston Marathon & A New Job

Things have been a bit of madness around here the last two months.

To begin with, a company reached out to me about a job and over a couple of weeks I did several interviews. It’s been pretty amazing because it’s a step into the industry (video games) and work I want to do. The crazy part is that the job is in San Francisco!

As you can imagine, that made it even crazier because accepting the job meant moving across the country. But the opportunity was something I couldn’t pass up, so decision made I packed up my life and trekked 3,000 miles to the other side of the country.

Not only that, but my last week of work at my old job in Florida is when I finally heard back about the Boston Marathon. And guess what?

I got in! I am super excited to confirm my entry for the 2015 Boston Marathon!!!

As you can guess, I’ve been holding my breathe since the Marine Corps Marathon with the hope that I would get into Boston. I set an alarm and registered when the day opened up. Then it was the waiting game. Of course, all my running friends kept saying they’re pretty fast getting responses out and yet it felt like it was so long.

All of that aside, I am beyond stoked. There was yelling and dancing and jumping up and down with maybe just a couple tears.

An awesome bright side of this (though I’ve yet to see it that way) is that California is much hillier than Florida, so my training for Boston will have that one more advantage than before. Even if I don’t quite like the hills yet.

While my life has turned in a completely different direction the past few months, I’m having an absolute blast with my new job & learning a new city. With all the changes, I hope to write about my adventures of running here. Of course, I’ll also be logging my training for Boston as the days lead up.

Have an awesome day & I look forward to seeing friends at Boston in April! I’ll just leave this here…
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#BostonStrong Comeback

Today was the 118th Boston Marathon but it meant much more than just another event for this prestigious race.

One year later, a field of nearly 36,000 runners went out to show that the running community is stronger than ever. The last year has been spent healing and today was the chance to wash it away with new, greater memories.

It couldn’t have been more perfect conditions. Clear and sunny skies, a crispy 40 degrees for the Elite women’s start and an almost unheard of lack of wind. And the performances by the athletes showed it.

The Elite women’s winner, Rita Jeptoo, set a course record and ran the 8th fastest women’s marathon time. Ever. American Shalane Flanagan took 6th with a  new American Record. And nothing could have crowned the day better than Meb Keflezighi being the first American  man in 31 years to win the Boston Marathon. The last American male winner was in 1983.

As the folks over at Mashable said, “it was more than just a race — it was a comeback.”

I spent the day like any other day, at work, but with the BAA live stream my background noise and a page on my browser refreshed every 5 minutes for updates on my friends running. It seemed everyone came out with their best today; one of the ladies I’ve trained with (and hope to be like some day) ran her own personal best in 3:11. The entire group did fantastic!

If ever you want inspiration to go out and do something, anything, the Boston Marathon is it. Even though I’ve told myself I won’t run a marathon this year, today definitely tested my strength of will to hold to that.

Now obviously, I’ve been a bit silent recently. Lots going on in life but I wanted you all to know that I’m still moving along. Got in a 6.2 miler today in honor of the Boston Marathon and all who ran it this year and the last. For now, there’s no races on my calendar so I’m just chugging along. I’ve been contemplating tackling a triathlon later in the summer. We’ll see if that actually happens or not.

For now, I’ll leave you with this article on Mashable of 15 Uplifting Photos from the 118th Boston Marathon. It’s well worth the look, and in some cases, the caption read.

Race Recap: Gasparilla Distance Classic Day 2 (Half Marathon & 8K)

I finished! Day 2 did not go quite as well as day 1 did. That said, I completed all 4 races so I’m happy. Though day 2 is definitely when I questioned my sanity for agreeing to do this.

Another early start to carpool out for the races. Met up with Jason, my running buddy, for day 2 and this time he remember his Garmin so we could technically say he was pacing me.

Almost donneeee!!

Almost donneeee!!

The Half Marathon

This year the half marathon had a modified start from previous years. So grateful for that! The previous start featured a 180 degree sharp u-turn a quarter mile in that cut the course from a 3 lane road to a one lane on ramp/bridge over to David Island. The new start location featured us taking a different bridge/ramp across to the island that had two lanes and was a straight shot with no sharp turns and funneling.

But the start! Once again our shiny yellow challenge bibs got us entrance into the front start area for seeded runners and teams. And again, it was warm and humid out. Ugh, not exactly ideal race conditions. Still, I decided to be crazy (against Jason’s advice) and chase after the 1:35 pace group. As a mini-reminder, my current half marathon PR is 1:36.

Our position so close to the start and my determination not to lose space getting shoved around helped us get moving without being crowded back in the field. So we pretty much got going for a lovely jaunt in the dark around Davis Island (my favorite part of the course besides the finish). The 1:35 pace group got up to speed and passed us, but we decided to hook in onto the end of the group and try to stay with.

Davis Island is about the first 5 miles of the course. I like it because it’s still dark out (so generally the coolest portion of the race), the roads are wide, there’s often entertainment in places (a guy juggling flaming batons!), and the random people on their front lawns drinking spiked coffee while cheering on runners. As Jason had never raced the half marathon at Gasparilla before, it was fun hearing his thoughts on the course as we went along.

We would yo-yo off the end of the pace group, usually after water stations, as we’d lose distance on them and then trek it a bit to catch back up. Then you cross a ramp back off Davis Island and it’s Bayshore all the way to the finish. By mile 6 I had started to lose steam and we began falling off the pace group a bit. But I kept going along, though after mile 3 it was only because I kept telling myself “mind over matter.” So true in running, most of the time.

By mile 8 I was done with attempting (and by that point, failing) to stick with the 1:35 pace group and told Jason so. He pretty much already knew it, but humored me anyways. From there, we had another mile on the water side of Bayshore before we swung onto the back side of the road to head back to the finish.

I lost a lot of speed and I knew it. Mad thanks for Jason running with me because he was constantly positive encouragement to keep going towards the finish. ‘Only 3 miles to go,’ etc. If it wasn’t for him, I would have been going a lot slower than the 8 minute miles we had been doing.

There was some positivity seeing members of the running group as we went along. Near the end we were passed by the 1:40 group and Jason pushed me to stay with them. I had admitted at the start that chasing a 1:35 was stupid (not that it stopped me) and realistically I wanted to get in under 1:40. Well, there was my chance for that.

Most of the pacer’s group went on ahead to break the time so there weren’t a lot of people surrounding us as we came into the last quarter mile. However, Matt (you sandbagger!!) looped past us within the last 0.2 miles and I was yelling at him. Stuff along the lines of “darn you!!!” and “come back here!” Pretty sure the spectators were definitely laughing at me.

Still, we finished solidly (not sure I’d say strongly) and I managed to make it exactly 1:40:00 on the half marathon. Huzzah! Of course, like the day before the heat had gone up and the humidity lessened only a little as the race went on (so happy we had cloud cover). So Jason and I had a fun trip to the med tent where I got to use my inhaler and relax for a bit with some cold water. I do like that the Gasparilla team had brought out mini hand towels that were kept in ice cold water and handed out to runners as they finished. Helped to throw that around your neck and let it cool you off.

So med tent trip completed, we headed off to grab our medals and change out our gear before the 8K. No PR this time around, but a solid enough time considering the challenge.

Distance-13.21 miles

Time-1:40:00

Pace-7:37

Place-234 overall, 2nd in my age group

Between Races

This time we headed back to the car (no tent today) and made use of the nearby CVS to change clothes and shoes. So glad I did this because the humidity was just killing me. We also found that I had two blisters that totally explained by it hurt so much to walk around. Of course, they were in strange places on my foot, to it was quite interesting to switch my socks and shoes. By this point, I just wanted the last race to be done.

The 8K

To sum the 8K up in just a few words, CRASH AND BUUUUURRRRRRNNNNNN! All caps, bold, and extended length intended.

Besides actually training for this challenge, I probably should have taken another gel or snack and more than just water between these two races. Jason had this illusion of grandeur that we’d be running 7:30s. In my mind, I knew we’d be lucky with 8:00 miles. By the time we lined up for the 8K start, I just wanted to finish.

We started out pretty solidly, even though the clouds had started to disappear and the sun coming out meant higher temps on top of the humidity. The first 3 miles actually went relatively well.

And then I hit the wall.

This one was significantly worse than when it happened during the Miami Marathon. (And in my blogging failure, I never actually recapped that race for you guys. Suffice to say, hitting the wall sucked.) I didn’t just slow down, my body full on said ‘stop.’ As shamed as I was to do it, especially with Jason being an awesome sport and staying with me, I had to walk.

This is something we struggle with at times (as athletes with a competitive spirit). I had to be realistic though. As much as I would have rather kept running, even if it was slowly, my level of hydration (or rather, dehydration) combined with the sun, heat, and humidity made it a possibility that I would pass out if I kept going like that. So I let go of my pride and move to the side to walk.

Jason, amazing running buddy, pacer, and friend that he is, stayed with me even though he could have easily kept going.

20140223_113347So we rotated between walking and very slow jogging. At the next water station, I walked through it and grabbed several cups of gatorate and water. I needed the calories and electrolytes just as much as the hydration from them. That was enough to give me a little boost and we ended up jogging the last 0.4 miles or so in.

Ironically, I was able to lengthen my stride a bit for a tiny bit of speed to finish. And what happened but one of my calves seized up and I nearly face planted. Once again, Jason to the rescue as he grabbed my arm before I could go down and pretty much dragged me to the finish. Okay, we more like hobbled since I did contribute to the movement, but still. Course, he let me go a few feet away and told me I had to finish on my own. Haha, you Jason, are a fun and terrible friend 😛

I finished! I made it across the line for 4 out of 4 races and claimed my 5th medal for completing the Gasparilla Ultra Challenge.

Distance-5.02 miles

Time-53:47

Pace-10:43

Place-1858 overall, 71st in my age group

Closing Day Two

Woohoo!! Even if I failed miserably in that last race, I finished! Completing these last two races to round out all four makes me feel so accomplished. The fact that I made myself finish that 8K even though I was fully prepared to collapse on the side of the road is not diminished at all by my less than stellar time.

I didn’t voice it (don’t want to be negative and all that) but I fully expected my body to decide enough was enough during the half marathon. Would I have liked to complete all 4 races competitively? Of course! Yet realism had to rule out and the facts were simple; I had not trained for this event.

Even being dead tired and with horribly sore feet (and muscles!) I enjoyed chatting with everyone post race. When all was said and done, I am super pleased with what I accomplished over this race weekend and I plan to do it again. Except this time, I’ll actually train for it and maybe I’ll be able to place for the women overall. I can dream at least!

So my totals for day two – 18.23 miles in 2:33:47.

100_4395Which rounds me out for the entire weekend to about 30.4 miles in 4:06:07. That puts my overall, average pace under 8:10 and let me place 65th out of 631 Ultra Challenge participants (and #8 of the women—I missed 3rd place for the ladies by about 13 minutes, which could be made up if I ran a good 8K). Definitely thinking I’ll be trying again next year.

So I close up my recap with the fact that I had a blast racing and seeing all my friends across the weekend. Major thanks to Jason for being my partner in crime for all 4 races, even when I wasn’t doing so great. You can pace for me any time! (I’d offer to pace for you, but you are mad faster than me.) Also, mug #3!!

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