Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mini Race Reports: Napa-to-Sonoma, Nike, & Silicon Valley Half Marathons

I'm going to cheat a little here and do mini race reports for my last three half marathons to close out the year. Here we go!

July 19th - Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

Race Recap: My friend Pam flew out from Chicago to run this with me. Who wouldn't want to run a half through wine country with wine tasting at the end? We both ran this for "fun" but it wasn't too fun for me at the end with all the rolling hills and the hot sunshine. The wine afterward helped :) As did the later stop at the Bouchon bakery for some sweets. Also nice as I got to see a bunch of the ROHOs.

Official chip time:

October 18th - Nike Women's Half Marathon

Race Recap: My fourth year running Nike, third time running the half. This time I got to run it with my cousin who first introduced me to the event in 2006. We had a blast and took lots of pictures along the way. Saw lots of familiar faces at this race - Tara and Aron at the pre-race VIP tent, Alisa and Kristen several times along the course, and Roadbunner cheering us on!

Official chip time: 2:39:16 (A new personal worst, heehee!)

October 25th - The Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley Half Marathon

Race Recap: Nothing too special to report about this one. It was a week after Nike and I had a 14 miler scheduled for CIM. Found out this half was taking over my local running trail so I figured I might as well join it. Definitely a lot easier to get the miles in with all the other runners! Ran the Human Race 10K the day before so legs weren't feeling so fresh but were able to get the job done.

Official chip time: 2:30:31

Happy New Year everyone! Coming up... 2009 review and goals for 2010 :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Race Report: California International Marathon

Hello? Hello? Is anyone still out there?

OK, I know I have been a bad blogger. This might actually be my longest gap between posts. Well, let me catch you up. I ran a marathon!

A Little Background

A year ago, I listed my 2009 race targets and I specifically stated that I would try to hit my sub-5:00 marathon goal (a PR of 25 minutes) at the California International Marathon. So easy to make such goals when they're a year away, right?

And what a year it was... I spent most of 2009 purely doing races for FUN. No time goals at all and wow, did it show. I got muddy a couple of times and then spent the summer and fall doing a bunch of half marathons where I repeatedly hit new personal worsts. But again, most of them were for fun so I wasn't surprised by the outcomes. At the same time, I realized PRs of any kind were not very likely.

The "Training"

I basically was in denial about CIM and anything related to training for a full marathon (which I had not done for almost two years). I spent the summer training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon which was held in mid-October. After that, I knew I couldn't ignore it any longer - I had only 7 weeks to train for CIM!

I whipped together a Runners World-based training plan and I tried to follow it... OK, who am I kidding? I totally blew it off. I averaged about two runs a week. I literally walked almost half of my 16 miler. My 20 miler turned into a 14 miler. My paces were not my best. I was definitely doing the bare minimum. And thus, I had such low expectations for CIM, assuming I would once again hit a new personal worst.

In my last week of training, things surprisingly started to turn around because yay, it got cold! And maybe those long runs were finally starting to kick in, too. The week before the marathon, I was home for Thanksgiving and did the 5 mile Turkey Trot. And surprisingly, I did better than I did in 2007 when I was fresh off from training for the Chicago and Nike marathons! It had been awhile since I ran with a sub-10:00 pace so I was happy. And then my last long run was a 7 miler (also at home) where I took it easy and had my usual walking breaks. But I was surprised to see my overall pace was still pretty decent (for me, anyway). I guess my running pace was faster than it normally was.

Because of this, I decided to go for it and try to hit sub-5:00 for CIM.

Race Day Eve

I was starting to get a little bit more excited about the marathon once I made the 2 hour drive up to Sacramento. Upon my arrival, I immediately hit the expo. Thanks to Twitter and texting, I was able to meet up with Danica, Maritza, Nicole, and Tara. It was really nice to see some familiar faces, especially since it was the first time I got to meet Nicole :) Awesome group of girls!

Afterward, I checked into my luxurious hotel and relaxed. I totally wanted to nap but I fought it off and instead worked on my marathon playlist while I watched Harry Potter. I also got all my race day gear ready to go. That evening, I loaded on carbs with RoadBunner and her BF. FYI - Pizza is always my carb of choice before race day.

After dinner, I immediately got ready for bed and was finally able to pass out just after 10PM. This never happens as I'm typically a late owl. I guess fighting off that nap worked out well for me!

Race Day

Race morning started at 4AM (I'm still shocked I've never overslept on race day - knock on wood!). Got myself ready to go and met RoadBunner by the lobby a little before 5AM. We had to board a shuttle bus to take us to the start in Folsom and lucky for us, our bus stop was just across the street. We squeezed onto the first bus and were on our way!

As a lot of other runners had mentioned, it was a loooooong bus ride. I'm guessing it took us about 40 minutes on the highway. We arrived at the race start a little before 6AM. RoadBunner and I were not in a rush at all to deal with the freezing weather (literally freezing - I think it was 32 out there) so we just hung out on the bus and figured out our clothing strategy. I think we finally ventured out there at 6:30AM - we hit the potties, checked our bags and then separated to find our pace groups.

I quickly found the 5:00 pace group and met the leader, Barb. I asked her about her pacing style (even splits) and her plans regarding aid stations (on our own because she doesn't stop). I am quite fascinated by Barb - I only ran alongside her for half the race, but I'm pretty sure she did not eat or drink anything during the entire race. She's like a freakish camel of some sort! Apparently, she's also the female recordholder for most ultramarathons under her belt so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Off We Go!

I don't know what happened at the race start but I seemed to have missed the whole thing. One second we were standing there getting ready to go, next second it was all "Oh look, they're already running!". Was there a national anthem? A gun? I have no idea. Regardless, off we went!

The first 10 miles or so were pretty uneventful. I was doing OK with staying with my pace group and we were running at a pretty consistent pace. I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up though because I'm one of those runners that likes to take short walk breaks every now and then, especially if I'm going to be out there for a long time. I also managed to skip most of the aid stations and just drank from my fuel belt as we ran. As Barb had advised me, I actually didn't need too much water but I did make sure to take my Gu's every 4 miles or so.

I think it was around mile 11 when I was surprised to hear someone say my name. Sure enough, there was Maritza! It was nice to see her and chat with her for a little bit.

Not too much later, I decided to split from the pace group and go back to Audrey style running. I basically would run at a slightly faster pace than the pace group (which was more comfortable for me) and then take a short walk break at the mile markers. I usually would walk until I could see my pace group and then pick it up again. It worked really well for keeping me on track while still allowing for those walk breaks, which were helpful during the fueling and stuff.

Yeah, I always look out for the race photographers! Here's me "flashing" the photographer to show my bib number.

Too bad I wasn't still smiling when I was right in their focal spot. Oops!

I was very amused that the halfway marker was sponsored by TNT who was promoting their new show, "Men of a Certain Age". I think the banner read "You've Reached the Mid-point" or something like that. Get it??? I was excited because when I crossed the halfway marker, the clock read 2:29 which was a better time than my last three half marathons! And considering I started at least three minutes after the gun start, I was feeling somewhat good about meeting my goal time.

So I did my run/walk thing and it was working pretty well for the next several miles. I was curious how long I could keep it up. I checked my pace from time to time and so far I was OK. Until... I glanced down and my watch was off!!! Grrrr... I had been having problems with my Garmin spontaneously turning off during my training but it had been working OK in my last few long runs so I thought I was OK. Apparently not. I found someone in my pace group that I started with and asked what his watch said and used that to figure out how long my watch had been off. Not an exact science but it would have to do.

Unfortunately, my Garmin was in full flaky mode and turned off at least 5 times during the marathon. Luckily, they had timers at each mile marker that would announce the clock time and the related average pace. I only had that and my position with the 5:00 pace group to check my pace.

Once I got to mile 18, I could tell my legs were losing some steam. I wasn't able to run much faster than the pace group, thus my walk breaks were getting shorter and shorter. I never ran more than 23 miles in a week during training so I knew I would be feeling it in the latter part of the marathon. I tried to hang on but then it all fell apart at what I like to call the...

Debacle at Mile 21

It was freezing cold for most of the marathon but at mile 21, the sun finally started to appear and I felt it was time to shed my long sleeve shirt. I decided to do this at my next walk break. I was wearing a half zip shirt which was my first mistake (always full zip! always!) I'm not sure why I didn't just stop to take it off but for some reason I thought I could easily slip it off over my hat, over my ear buds, over my fat Garmin while walking with no problems at all. WRONG! First it got stuck on the rim of my hat. So my hat came off as did my ponytail. And even though my ear buds were under the long sleeve shirt, they still somehow got tangled up and got unplugged from my iPod which was tucked deep into the built in pocket of my running capris. When I finally managed to get the shirt off, I realized my Garmin had turned off. AGAIN. I, basically, was a mess. So I eventually pulled over to the side to put myself back together again :P Meanwhile, guess who passed me by? Yep, the 5:00 pace group. Drats!

I finally got going again but it was a huge bummer to be trailing the group that I had been staying ahead of for most of the race. I kept trying to catch them but it was just too hard at that stage of the game. I still had them in sight for a little bit, which was somewhat comforting.

Post costume change:

Eventually, I lost sight of my pace group and with that, I had assumed my chance of hitting sub-5:00 was gone. My legs were getting more and more tired so I took a few extra walking breaks. Even though I was bummed about not hitting my goal, I was still pretty happy that I would be getting a PR anyway. It's been awhile since I've had that feeling!

Around mile 25, I once again heard someone say my name. Sure enough, there was Roadbunner and her BF on the sidelines! It was so nice to see them (although I was slightly jealous that she was already done, haha!) and I really think it helped me push through the last 1.2 miles. Here are the pics they took:

Once I made that last turn, the finish line was right in sight and I was completely shocked that the clock still started with a 4!!! I seriously was all, "What the what???" As I "sprinted" to cross that finish line, I saw good ole Barb standing to the side slapping hands with us runners. I don't know if she remembered me, but I was so excited to see her, yelling "Hey Barb! I did it!!!"

(I knew she had been banking time, I just didn't realize how much! I am dying to know when she actually did hit that finish line. I'm guessing around 4:50.)

Crossing the finish line! So happy that even my clock time is sub-5:00 :)


Official chip time: 4:54:49
(Just as a reminder, that would be, ahem, a 30 minute PR!!!)

While I was stretching, I started checking out Twitter to see how everyone else had done. And I don't know if it was because I was already so exhausted, but I practically started tearing up at seeing tweets like this:

I've never been so touched to be "stalked" before. Thank you girls!!!

Right before I left, I made sure to get a pic with the capitol. Happy Holidays!

On the way out, I ran into Maritza, Nicole, and Tara again. It was nice to see them and chat about the race for a bit before I headed back to my hotel. The manager was so nice to allow me a late late checkout so that I could shower before my 2 hour drive home.

Overall, I liked CIM and would definitely recommend to a fellow runner. You're pretty much guaranteed perfect running temps which is very important to me. The scenery isn't awesome but I kind of liked the small-ish, hometown feel of the race. And don't let the website fool you, this did not feel like a fast, downhill course. There are lots and lots of hills. Maybe not Nike hills, but they are there.

Final Thoughts

I am thrilled to finally hit my sub-5:00 goal. I really couldn't care less how I do in future marathons. But I'll admit that I hit my goal mostly by luck. Who knows how well I could have done if I actually followed a real training plan? (Something also brought to my attention by Roadbunner, heehee) And sure, I probably am capable of something much faster than 4:55 BUT if I'm being honest with myself, I am not a fan of training. (I just like the thrill of the actual race day!) So with that, I'm happy with what I have accomplished.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday and thank you so much to those that actually read my entire blog post :D Hopefully, it won't be three months until the next one!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The winner of the Nike lottery is...

Kristen from It's not the Destination . . . It is the Journey.

Loved all the suggestions for the PowerSongs! I only had some of them so I can't wait to add more tunes to my running mix :)

Kristen - hope to meet you at the Nike race!

Thanks to all for participating!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you want to run the Nike Women's Marathon?

So I have a dilemma... because of my participation with the Nike club runs in SF, I am now in possession of one entry code that will get you access to a highly coveted spot in the sold out Nike Women's Marathon being held in San Francisco on October 18th. What should I do with this? Does anyone want this?

NOTE: You still have to pay the registration fee ($100 for the half, not sure what it is for the full) - I can only offer the registration code that will allow you to purchase the race entry and secure your spot. Yes, it's pricey but I definitely think it's worth it!

You can run either the half or the full. I will be running the half. The half is walker friendly as well. I love this event and this will be my fourth year running it. You can read last year's race report here.

So if you want to run a beautiful course and be given a Tiffany necklace by a handsome fireman at the finish line, here's what you should do:

Post a comment below and in the spirit of Nike, tell me your current favorite PowerSong. I'll then use those random number selector things to pick a winner.

I will accept entries until Wed, September 30th, 11:59PM PST. I will contact the winner by Thursday morning. Winner must register using the code by Sunday, October 4th (last day for registrations!)

Good luck!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Running in Hawaii

So after NYC, I was home for a little bit and then I joined my cousin, Lizette, and her family for a little trip to Hawaii!!! Oahu, specifically, and it was a blast! I had gone there before in 1998 and did a lot of the "touristy" stuff but this time I got the "local" experience as my cousin and her hubby used to live there.

Lizette and I are planning to run the Nike Women's Half marathon together so technically, we are in training. Thus, she was able to convince me to go running with her one morning. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of running in Hawaii. I'm just not so crazy about running in 80 degree sunny weather.

But it ended up being a lot of fun! I brought my camera along so I could take some pictures along the way.

We started at Waikiki beach.

Where they had lots of pretty palm trees.

We ran along Diamond Head road and passed the Real World Hawaii house.

This was taken at a lookout point where you could see lots of surfers.

Running down Kahala road...

Finally reaching the Kahala Resort at the end! We treated ourselves to a fancy schmancy beachside lunch.

We ended up doing almost 5 miles. Luckily I didn't know the distance of the route before we started :) I drank practically my entire water bottle during the run. The sun and heat were killing me! But I'm really glad we did it, it was fun girl time plus lots of good sightseeing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quick Update

I was in NYC last week with my mom and it was lovely! I squeezed in a short Central Park run while there.

It was raining that morning if you couldn't tell. I've never seen Bethesda Fountain so bare.


If you're interested in entering a raffle for an iFitness belt, please check out Chic Runner's review.


I am officially registered for the Nike Women's Half Marathon on October 18th. I didn't get in through the lottery but I did manage to get a spot through the Nike runner's club. This will be my fourth time running in this event, third time doing the half.


Follow me on twitter!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My new funky running shoes!

Sometimes I feel like I am in a constant state of shopping, whether I want to be or not. For example, if I see a makeup tutorial online and the person raves about some black eyeliner, I feel the need to go purchase that eyeliner (even though I have half a dozen other brands at home.) If someone posts a picture of a cupcake on Facebook, I have this sudden urge to visit Kara's or Sprinkles. Maybe I'm just a person that always covets.

Well it happened again this past weekend during one of my Nike training runs. (Oh did you hear? I'm in training again! For real this time. No more wimpy 2-4 week cramming sessions. I don't have a race until October and I'm already training. Yay for me!) I usually run with the same pace leaders and I noticed a couple of them were wearing some flashy new shoes that I had never seen before. I usually am pretty quiet during these runs but I had to know, so I asked one of the pace leaders what she was wearing.

Behold - the new Nike LunarGlide+ running shoe:

Funky, right? They don't even look like running shoes to me. She told me they were brand new shoes that have a good combination of cushioning and support. (Click the link for the actual technical description, because I was really more interested in the look, haha.) She previously wore the Vomeros (which is what I currently wear) but was really liking the LunarGlides. So I became very intrigued because I actually needed to get new shoes.

I headed to my local running store yesterday and I was so excited to see they were carrying them. In fact, the lady working there (who is an elite runner around these parts) was sporting them as well. It's a sign, I tell you! So I tried them on and went for a little run outside and they felt pretty good. The sales lady also had me wear them with the Nike Vomero4 for comparison and yes, the Vomero is definitely more cushiony which I normally like but I have to say, I kind of liked the sturdy/cushiony combo of the LunarGlide+. Plus it was cheaper than the Vomeros ($100 vs $130).

So I decided to go for it and got the LunarGlide+! I'll let you guys know how they work out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Question for Nike Plus users

My question - does your Nike plus online profile simply mirror the data that's on your receiver/iPod?

Here's my problem.

I originally had about ~460 miles stored in my profile and they all used to be reflected on the Nike plus receiver/iPod as well. But during a recent workout, my iPod said it couldn't detect a receiver so I took it out and plugged it back in. I then did a workout and only found afterward that all the previous data had been erased. So now it only shows the workouts that I did in the past week.

I'm worried that if I sync it with my laptop, it will overwrite all the existing data in my profile. Or will it just add to what's already there?

Hopefully this makes sense. If you have any inputs, please let me know.

By the way, I also had to recently replace my sensor - does adjusting to a new sensor replace your previous history mileage as well?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Race Report: Muddy Buddy with Julianne

In honor of all those SFM runners that have their race reports posted just mere days after the race, I have decided to post my race report as well... of a race I ran almost two months ago. Oh well, better late than never! (And no, I haven't forgotten the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon report. Who knows, maybe that will come out in the same month? Maybe not.)

In early June, Julianne and I partnered up to tackle the Muddy Buddy challenge. I guess we just couldn't wait to get down and dirty again after taking on the Big Sur Mud Run in March.

This race is a little different as it involves both running and biking which we do separately. There are five legs and between each leg, there is an obstacle. So I biked first while Julianne ran and then at the obstacles, we switched off. The total course was about 6 miles so each leg was pretty short.

There is a costume contest for the race so of course we had to dress up! Our team name was Tutu Hot 2 Handle.

Aren't these tutu's fun?

(They were so easy to make, too. Probably only cost $6 each and required no sewing - instructions here if you want to make your own for yourself or your little one.)

We decorated the bike a little bit too to help us find it better in the transition areas. Some people had balloons which worked a lot better. I lucked out because mountain bikes were required for this race and my friend gave me hers last year. I think this was her college bike so I thought it would be perfect for this race.

Here's us during the costume contest pre-race. Unflattering photo angle, but still entertaining. Sadly we did not make the "finals". A girl/guy duo dressed as the wolf and little Red Riding Hood ended up winning. I personally liked the two guys in life sized crab costumes.

So let's talk about the race. You'd think I'd learn after the Big Sur Mud Run, but apparently I have short term memory. Just because a race involves costumes and getting dirty and has a really fun atmosphere, does not mean it is easy! This race had a lot of hills and as usual, I was not prepared for it. I hadn't run since the Cleveland Half Marathon three weeks earlier and hadn't biked since the Cinderella Classic in April. (I had been traveling for pretty much a month and a half prior to the race.)

The nice thing was that Julianne was fresh from the San Diego marathon the weekend before so she was totally cool with just having fun with this one. She was a real champ too because she hadn't been on a bike in a long time.

It took awhile for us to get going because they had about a dozen different waves for the start and we were wave 11. The bikers would go first and then the runners would follow. I had heard the first leg was pretty much a mile uphill so I decided to take that one since Julianne was not too familiar with the gearing on the bike. (Not that it helped me much, anyway.)

So we watched the other waves take off and you could tell the bike part would be tough as the announcer kept trying to help them out by making sure they were in their lowest gear. I was starting to get nervous.

Now it was our turn so I was gathered with all the other bikers in my wave. I hopped on and managed to get going a bit, while I fiddled with my gears making sure I was on the easiest one. And then a biker stopped in front of me. With bikers passing me on either side, I ended up having to stop too.

Do you have any idea how hard is to get going on a bike when you're on an incline on a dirt trail? Especially when you don't have the granny gears that you have been spoiled with on your much more $$$ road bike? Um, for me, it was pretty much impossible. But I tried anyway - and ended up going nowhere. Seriously I felt like I was in quicksand.

I would have been mortified if I hadn't been surrounded by bikers facing the same challenge as me. As in literally, women were falling off their bikes left and right. (Obviously, we were not in the elite wave.) There was a dad and his kid sitting on the sidelines spectating and I heard him tell his kid, "Well, this is just a mess." I had to start chuckling at that.

I then heard one of the nearby women say "F this" (or something to that effect) and started running her bike up the hill. I figured that was better than what I had been doing so I did the same. Well I tried to run the bike up the hill but it's not light so I resorted to walking it up the hill. And then the pack of runners show up and Julianne found me and helped me push that sucker up the hill.

OK, I know, this sounds fun, right? Really - the worst part is that first mile, it all gets better after that. Once the hill leveled off, I hopped on the bike and took off.

I got to the first obstacle and dropped the bike off. I think we had to run under netting or something. I really like races with obstacle courses - it breaks things up and keeps it fun. We also had to climb a rock climbing wall, a really tall wall with netting and then go down a big slide which was really fun as you can tell by Julianne's expression:

We also had to walk across some balance beams:

And finally at the very end, we all met up with our buddies and went through the final obstacle together - THE MUD PIT:

Since we had to go through several mud pits in the Big Sur Mud Run, I figured I got this down. Um, no. Big Sur Mud Run was more like muddy water, this was serious M-U-D. It was thick! There were tons of people cheering at the mud pit (surprise, surprise) and it was funny that people were yelling at you that you're not getting muddy enough!

YAY, we're done!

Seriously, look at our legs and our shoes! That stuff was caked on. Luckily, they had showers (well, hoses, anyway) to rinse ourselves off.

All in all, it was yet another crazy fun race. I loved our costumes - the tutus were a big hit. Runners and bikers would often shout out fun things during the race like "Way to go, Tutu!" or "Good job, Tutu!" It was like my new nickname on the course. Plus it was just fun to wear. Yes, it got destroyed during the race but it was so cheap and easy to make that I'm sure I will be making myself another one soon. You know, to wear around the house and stuff.

Plus, despite that initial leg, the rest of the race was a lot of fun. Each leg was so short so you were constantly doing something new. I will say that this race does confirm that I am not a mountain biker. One leg of the race was really steep and bumpy that I got some nasty bruises on my knees from banging into the handle bars. Regardless, I would definitely recommend this race to others, provided you have a decent mountain bike. (On a side note, your bike will not get muddy on this race, unless you decide to ride it afterward which I saw some people do.)

RIP Socks + Shoes (I kept the bib)

I forgot to take some closeup pics of our T-shirts when we were still clean so here they are after they've been through the wash. (Yes, these are actually clean.)

I used Julianne's running girl icon on the front with Muddy Buddies written underneath.

With our team name on the back.

And here's our race shirt:

And not that it matters, here is our official stats for the race:

Chip time: 1:11:32
Place: 40/59 in our division

Thanks Julianne! You were an awesome MUDDY BUDDY! ;)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spectator Report: SF Marathon

Just wanted to do a quick post to congratulate my blogging friends that participated in the SF marathon today.

Tara, Roadbunner, and Julianne all kicked butt in the full marathon and Aron, Maritza, and Chic Runner rocked the half marathon.

They all had special victories but it's not my place to spoil the news so all I will say is CONGRATS again!

I'll admit, I was *thisclose* to almost signing up for the half (despite doing a half last weekend) since everyone was doing it and I'm very weak when it comes to peer pressure.

But ultimately, I decided my legs were not up to it and also my wallet preferred to keep the $100, thank you very much.

So instead, I joined the Nike run in Danville for a recovery 6 miler, first run since the half. I knew I made the right decision because as soon as I started running, my legs felt pretty heavy.

I didn't want to completely miss out on the SFM experience, so I headed over to SF after my run. I was able to catch up with Chic Runner (first time meeting her!) and Maritza at mile 26 to cheer on Julianne who was a first time pace leader for the 4:45 group. They (along with Tara) had made some really hilarious cheer signs which definitely got a lot of attention, especially from the opposite sex, heehee.

Later we all headed to Gordon Biersch for a post celebration lunch which ended up being a really fun blogger meet up. I got to meet a bunch of people that I had only seen in pictures (like ROHO Kristin, Aron's husband, Tara's roommmate, haha...) Plus Kristin brought cupcakes for Tara's birthday! (And not just any cupcake, Kara's Cupcakes, yum!!!)

All in all, it was a very fun Sunday.


Here's a pic of some of us that was shamelessly stolen from Julianne. (Thanks Julianne!)

(Left to right): Me, Kristin, Tara, Maritza, Aron, Danica (Chic Runner), and Julianne

Friday, June 5, 2009

Race Report: Cleveland Half Marathon

Without further ado, here is the "long awaited" race report for the Cleveland Half Marathon that I ran in mid-May. This was a last minute addition to my race calendar. I was planning to visit my family in Ohio so I thought it would be fun to run this while there as I've always wanted to do a big hometown race.


OK, let me just confess upfront: This is NOT how anyone should train for a half marathon. In fact, I use the term "train" very loosely here. After the three consecutive weekends of running and biking events (Mermaid 10K, Big Sur Mud Run, Cinderella Classic), I had about two weeks of doing nothing. I mean, I was doing stuff (traveling home for Easter one weekend, being a bridesmaid in a wedding the following weekend) but any kind of training definitely came to a halt.

Eventually, I had about four weeks to squeeze in some runs. I knew this wasn't enough to really do much but at the same time I wasn't planning to shoot for a PR or anything. I just didn't want to die out there.

So first week of training went well but then I got sick. And then went to Yosemite. And then went to Vegas. Basically, I averaged about 2 runs/week with my longest running being a 10 mile run two weeks before the race that was actually two 5 mile runs with a 3 hour break on my couch in between. (It made sense at the time...)

As a result, I wasn't expecting much come race day (well, other than a new personal worst.)


The nice thing about doing a hometown race is really being able to milk the parental support. The expo was in downtown Cleveland at the Convention Center. I had no problems with going there on my own but for some reason, my mom insisted that she drive me there, drop me off, and wait for me to get my stuff. How nice is that!

The expo was pretty decent sized and some of the race gear was actually pretty cute but I didn't get anything. I did pick up some things that I had forgotten at home (a wristband to wipe the sweat off my face and some sports beans which I didn't end up using). The goody bag had some nice freebies as shown below. (But did we really need a dozen packets of Splenda?)

Race Day

Once again, my parents were awesome support on race day and dropped me off at the race start. I thought they would go home and come back for the finish but they ended up staying for the whole entire morning. Luckily they dressed warm as it was pretty chilly that morning - but perfect weather for running!

The race was actually pretty small even with both the full and half marathoners starting together (there was also a 10K that started a bit later). It only took me about 4 minutes to cross the start line. We set off toward the water listening to the city's anthem "Cleveland Rocks". The weather was awesome and even though I wasn't ready for this race, I knew it would at least be fun.

I tried to stay with the 4:30 marathon group for a 2:15 finish but as usual, I couldn't keep up with them. So far, I've yet to keep up with a pace group - haha.

The course took us west closer to my hometown and then looped back to the start. The nice thing was that my parents saw me off and then my sister and her 2 year old son were waiting to cheer me on around the halfway point at a park. Luckily she found me otherwise I would have definitely passed by them. I loved seeing them out there as it really kept me going for the first part of the race. The funny thing is that my adorable nephew was totally unaware that there was a race going on. I think in his mind, he just thought he was having a nice day in the park with his mommy and that his auntie just suddenly appeared.

Anyway, the race so far had been going well. I wasn't trying to push it but felt comfortable with maintaining around a 10:00 min/mi pace for the first half of the race. And for me, that's pretty good. But then around mile 8, it all started to change. My body was finally starting to realize, hey, we're not used to doing this! And soon each step became more and more difficult. By mile 11, I literally felt like I had two dead weights hanging off my legs. This coincided with the part of the course that had a slight but long incline. Greeaaaaattttttt. I took a few more stops, walked a little bit, and then finally just told myself to get my butt in gear and get to that finish line.

It helped me once we got to the mile 12 marker as we were seeing more spectators and you could feel the energy of getting closer and closer to the finish.

I liked that when I turned the last corner, the finish line was pretty much right there and I sprinted as fast as I could. I managed to hear my dad cheer for me so I waved to him. A little bit later, I heard my mom and waved to her. My mom was actually able to take these two pics as well:

I'm so glad she did because believe it or not, this just might be my first race where I had no official race pics taken! Granted, I don't even remember seeing any photographers on the course but at the same time I wasn't looking for them. Mostly because I was primarily focused on staying in the game and getting my dead legs across that finish line.

And amazingly, I did OK! Official time: 2:16:59. Totally due to the cool running weather and relatively flat course.

Here's what Garmin spit out... my early splits were actually better than I thought:

1: 10:02
2: 9:50
3: 9:55
4: 9:59
5: 9:56
6: 9:47
7: 10:24
8: 10:12
9: 10:39
10: 10:26
11: 11:57
12: 11:35
13: 10:19
0.23: 9:05 pace

13.23 mi
Avg pace: 10:22 min/mi
Avg hr: 173bpm

Official Results

Chip Time: 2:16:59
Pace: 10:27 min/mi
Overall Place: 2924 / 3900
Gender Place: 1440 / 2394
Division Place: 262 / 367

It seems like 2:17 is the magic number for me these days when it comes to half marathons. How freakish is this?
  • 2:17:20 - 8/31/08 Disneyland Half Marathon
  • 2:17:08 - 10/5/08 San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon
  • 2:17:03 - 10/19/08 Nike Women's Half Marathon
  • 2:16:59 - 5/17/09 Cleveland Half Marathon
All with varying course elevations and weather. Weird. Too bad 2:17 is practically 10 minutes slower than my current PR. I'll get there... someday!

Me after the race:

I was so excited to see this offered in the finish chute:

My bling and race shirt, which I like alot. It's an ASICS technical shirt and we all got different colors. Men got maroon for the full and white for the half. Women got lime green for the full and light blue for the half. A lot of people wore them on race day so it was fun for me to know which events people in front of me were doing.

Back of the shirt (very groovy!):

Close up of the medal with the spinning guitar:

Final thoughts on the race

It was definitely nice to do a race so close to home but overall, I don't know if I would recommend it to non-local runners. There really wasn't that much for on-course entertainment especially since they make such a big deal with the whole Rock n Roll Hall of Fame association. I think there were just a handful of music stops. There was some live music as well but not much. (Although I was amused to see the marching band of my brother's old high school.) The course had a nice start with seeing the Cleveland Browns stadium, the Science Center, and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame but otherwise the half goes through a lot of residential areas and a good portion was on a highway. They did seem to have a nice post-race party setup (beer!) but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to check it out as my poor parents were tired and cold from waiting for me that whole time. (They did get to spend some time hanging out a local shopping mall while I was running, so they didn't have to stand around the whole time.)

Anyway, half marathon #9 is in the books. HM #10 will be in wine country next month.

And on a separate side note, I was once again rejected in the NYC marathon lottery this year. Still on track for 2011 :)
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