Category Archives: Races

Race Recap – California International Marathon

Happy New Year!

CIM was over a month ago.  During the first half of the race, I was writing my recap in my head.  I was beaming, thinking about how I would describe that I took risks and exceeded all expectations!

So….what happened in the second half of the race and the last six weeks?

Pre-race:

On Saturday, I headed up to Sacramento.  I checked in at the adorable Citizen Hotel.  The Citizen was very welcoming to CIM runners.  They are a couple blocks away from the Sacramento Convention Center which serves as the expo location and one of the bus pick-up spots.  They offered a special runner dinner in their restaurant as well as a verrrrry early morning breakfast.  Did I mention it’s adorable?

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Went over to the expo, found my name on the sweet CIM board, got my bib, and headed back to watch junky TV with my legs up.

This child needs to stop fame-blocking me.

This child needs to stop fame-blocking me.

There are tons of restaurants in the downtown area to get your carb needs met.  I went with sushi at a place with decent Yelp reviews (totally unmemorable) and grabbed my secret weapon ice cream from a liquor store.  Curled up with ‘Bridesmaids’ and got to sleep by about 9:30.

Race morning:

Woke up feeling good, rested, nervous.  Did all the typical morning things and rushed out, leaving my sunglasses and water behind.  Then I waited in 40 degree weather for the bus for like 20 minutes.  I’m an idiot.  My bus stop was probably the busiest one but there were buses for everyone.  We were definitely a big herd of cattle but overall, CIM is a very organized race.  The buses were warm and I had a lovely seat-mate to chat with during the 30 minute ride.  When we arrived, the sun was coming up and I opted to stay on the bus before finishing my bathroom business (PHEW) and lining up at the start.  Note about the start: CIM does not have corrals.  Runners self-seed based on anticipated finish but I didn’t experience any bottlenecking!  Also, they have the longest row of porta-potties I have ever seen.

Miles 1-13:

Perfection.  Beautiful sunrise.  Perfect weather.  The rolling hills play perfectly to my mental and physical strengths.  I was aiming for about 10:07 pace but I felt so good that I allowed myself to run many of these miles in the high 9’s.  This was my perfect race day.

Except…I was kind of thirsty….  I’ve never felt thirsty while running before.  Maybe this was because I’d had half a diet coke at 5am and started running at 7 (I KNOW).  No matter, I would begin my fueling strategy (2-3 chews every 3 miles) at the first aid station and all would be well!  Tra la la!

Great success!  Everything is perfect!  What can go wrong?!

Great success! Everything is perfect! What can go wrong?!

Miles 14-20:

Right at mile 14, I began to feel TIRED.  I was so pissed at myself for going out so “fast”.  I’m such a conservative runner.  I couldn’t believe I was squandering a marathon on such a stupid mistake.  I made sure I was taking electrolytes (yay NUUN!) at all of the aid stations and walking through them to give myself a mental break.  I had a bit of stiffness in my left leg but mostly, I was just really tired and bummed out.  My pace dropped to about 10:30 in these miles.  I was still on pace to meet my A goal of sub-4:30 but I left the miraculous 4:20 at mile 13.  Okay…

Mile 18.  Proof that good race photos are mind over matter.  I was NOT happy at this moment.  Or maybe I was?!  It's confusing, isn't it?

Mile 18. Proof that good race photos are mind over matter. I was NOT happy at this moment. Or maybe I was?! It’s confusing, isn’t it?

Miles 20-26:

Death march.  F*ck.  It was all I could do to keep running and not just walk the whole rest of the way.  I was exhausted.  During mile 20, I went to get my Honey Stinger Chews out and discovered that I had eaten about 1/3 of what I was supposed to.  F*ck.  I took several with NUUN and felt an upswing.  At this point, I was so tired and demoralized that I just did everything I could to get there.  I knew that if I ran/walked about 50/50, I would still PR.  With each mile, I slipped further and further away from my goal.  It was sad.  I wished I were injured so I could stop.  But I wasn’t.  I was just under-fueled and bummed out.  But still able to turn on the joy for a race photographer at mile 22:

I laughed so hard when I saw this picture.  I should be a professional film and television actress. #actuallyhatinglife

I laughed so hard when I saw this picture. I should be a professional film and television actress. #actuallyhatinglife

The last couple miles, I just chanted “just run, just run, just run” and occasionally mixed in “PR, PR, PR”.  Finally I made it to the finish.

I love you, Timing Mat.

I love you, Timing Mat.

4:33.  An 8 minute PR.  3 minutes off my A goal.  All things considered, a success.

I got my medal, grabbed water, and shoved some chews in my face.  I walked around for a bit but I was pretty woozy and nauseated so I sat down and guzzled.  When I could stand up without barfing, I took one more “happy” picture.

I think I was actually happy in this one.  :D

I think I was actually happy in this one. 😀

The two blocks to my hotel took longer than the last mile.  I stretched, texted, tweeted, showered.  Citizen generously gave us late check-out so I wasn’t rushed at all.  That was wonderful. After a bit of foam rolling, I got in the car and headed home, by way of In-N-Out and the largest Diet Coke in the world.

I had two.

I had two.

CIM is a wonderful race.  I love the course, the organization, and the energy.  My weather was perfection and I was well-trained.  I’m disappointed that I made such an unnecessary error with my nutrition.  I’m also bummed that at mile 13, I didn’t believe in myself.  I assumed that I went out too quickly; that I wasn’t strong enough to run a 4:20 marathon.  I wish I had realized that I simply wasn’t eating enough and corrected that instead.  I learned several really important lessons that I will grow from in the next one.  Not sure when that will be but I still love marathon training and the incredible challenge of 26.2.

My favorite sign was one that read “Someday you might not be able to do this, TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.”

Any marathon day is a good day.

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RACE RECAP – Diablo Trail Adventure Half Marathon

Is a trail half marathon with 2,500 feet of climbing an appropriate long run for a road marathon?  Probably not.

Can I resist a trail half marathon with 2,500 feet of climbing?  NOT REALLY, APPARENTLY.

My Happy Place!

My Happy Place!

It was a stepback week and I had a 13 mile long run scheduled.  Why not get some climbing and downhill running practice with my favorite race presenters: Brazen Racing?

My mantra for this race was “Don’t be dumb; it’s a TRAINING RUN!”  After my thrilling and unexpected AG place at Drag N Fly, I could feel a little competitive frisson.  My strategy was the same as last time: hike the hills, run the flats and downhills.  Keep the running pace easy.  Not difficult to do on this course, right?

That's a lot of hiking.

That’s a lot of hiking.

Because I’ve run the 5K event twice, I was familiar with the first hill.  It’s not long but it’s fairly steep and can really zap your energy.  I promised myself that no matter how many people ill-advisedly surged up the hill, I would not.  But I did.  Whoops.  I didn’t run fast but I did run.  Thankfully, it didn’t have any negative impact.  I enjoyed the downhill that followed, accompanied by an UltraRunner Podcast.  Music makes it hard to keep my pace in check, especially so early in a run.

Off I go in my SWEET glasses.

Off I go in my SWEET glasses.

Another climb with some narrow single-track followed.  I love this kind of running!  The trail got a bit backed up but thankfully everyone wanted to hike/run around the same pace.  This was the first of many times I observed people huffing and puffing “running” while I hiked at exactly the same pace.  I appreciate the pride that comes with running an entire trail race but honestly, I’ll take efficiency over pride.  Especially when the PACE IS IDENTICAL.

Careful where you step!

Careful where you step!

The next five miles were pretty uneventful.  Hiking the hills proved to be a great strategy, as usual.  All that Dailey Method thigh work powered me up, with minimal challenge.  Each time the trail leveled, I was happy to begin trotting again.

I knew that after mile 8, it was all downhill.  I love to run downhill but my right IT band was not loving it.  I took it easy and focused on lifting my inner thighs and hamstrings to support my knee.  Thanks again, Dailey Method!

You're never fully dressed without a smile!  And these sunglasses!

You’re never fully dressed without a smile! And these sunglasses!

When I reached the final miles, I was running far faster than I should have been for a long training run but it just felt so good!  It was also awesome because this course has been my nemisis.  Each time I ran the 5k, I would be so zapped by the hill that I would always stop to walk on the way back, even downhill.  Super frustrating.  NOT YESTERDAY.  I smiled each time I ran through a spot that had kicked my ass in previous years.  This time, with ten miles in between!  I’m getting a lot stronger, physically and mentally.

One challenge during this race was fueling.  I decided not to carry my handheld water bottle because it contributes to asymmetry that causes my IT band issue on the right side.  This was not a good choice because the aid stations were at 1.1, 2.7, and 7.8.  I thought there was one more.  I took my time to drink several cups of water at the second and third stations but it wasn’t enough.  I took far less fuel than I planned (since I didn’t have water to drink it with) and a vague headache showed up around mile 8.  After the race, I made a beeline for Ultima and food.  I had a couple oreos and a LOT of electrolyte drink.  My head hurt so much, I squinched my eyes shut trying to get it to release.  I wandered over to the standings to see if my AG places had come in.  1-4 were already in so I headed home, by way of an enormous Diet Coke and some curly fries.  Very happy, in spite of the headache.

So, I finished with a time of 2:39:47.  Cool!

Wait, wasn’t I psyched to break 3 hours before?

Yes.  I took FIFTEEN MINUTES off my trail half marathon PR.

WHAT?!

There were 500 fewer feet than the other courses but fifteen minutes?!  That is a testament to the mindfulness practice I’ve adopted.  I didn’t have any negative thoughts or fears, even when I knew I was under-fueled.  I stayed present in my body and ran the pace that felt right.  Which was my 5k pace at the end.  Woah.

I am thrilled for CIM and even more thrilled for it to be over so I can do some serious goal setting.  Time to level up!

BOOM!

 

 

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Race Recap: Drag N Fly

Well, this may be the most successful and wonderful race I’ve ever run.  BOOM.

No disrespect to my tremendous first marathon experience, but today was also very special.  With the 70.3 off my calendar, I’m free to race whatever the heck I want!  Brazen’s Drag N Fly was right up my alley: challenging elevation with gorgeous views at the top.  Since I’m trained up to half marathon distance, I went for it!  Yesterday, my calves were feeling a little crampy and hips felt slightly achy.  I contemplated dropping back to the 10k this morning and now I’m so glad I didn’t.

Pre-race went smoothly.  Up before dawn, waffle with prosciutto, easy drive, easy parking.  Bib pickup was super quick.  Brazen Racing is just the bomb.  Even the pre-race briefing is funny and fun.  Their organization, food, course marking, and energy are all top notch.  Highly recommended.

So, here’s what we’re dealing with:

My dad told me that the Space Needle is 600 feet.  So, extrapolate...

My dad told me that the Space Needle is 600 feet. So, extrapolate…

My race plan was to hike anything that resembled an incline, run anything that went down, and do my best on the flats (Drag N Fly.  Get it?).  Almost immediately, we faced the first major climb.  The sun was already shining and people were starting to suffer.  I felt really good and pumped, especially when I thought about how satisfying it would be to run back down that sucker at the end!  We were also rewarded with glorious views when we reached the top.

Climbing

View from the top.  Unreal.

View from the top. Unreal.

As we climbed higher and higher, I couldn’t stop looking back behind me.  It still completely blows my mind that I can travel that far and that high ON FOOT.  The novelty of trail running absolutely has not worn off and I was grinning from ear to ear.  Especially once we headed downhill!

Throughout the race, I felt happy and calm.  So weird.  I certainly recognized that the climbs were difficult.  The first three miles were really challenging but I only had a few moments where I was daunted by the distance.  I truly felt happy and overwhelmed with gratitude the entire time.

Brazen is excellent at marking the course with ribbons and flour. In the pre-race briefing, the race director joked that people would still go off course.  Today it was me!  Only for a moment and it was during the first downhill.  I was having so much fun, I missed a weird turn!  It cost me about a minute and made a couple folks laugh.  The race went so well, I wouldn’t change a single thing about it but you better believe I was much more aware of red ribbons for the rest of the run!

It’s hard to give a mile-by-mile report because I was running by feel and not married to hitting specific paces.  Throughout the entire race, I stuck to my strategy of climbing the hills and running the descents.  I was shocked to see 8:50-9:20 consistently on the downhill segments.  I was unconcerned with pace, only vaguely hoping to beat my time from Bear Creek last year.  The only descent that slowed me down was some really technical and steep single track.  I absolutely love that type of running though.  Brain firing, feet finding the perfect place to land.  LOVE IT.

Yes, that's THE TRAIL.

Yes, that’s THE TRAIL.

Before I knew it, it was time to fly down to the finish.  I had fueled well, hydrated well (cold water at the aid stations was heavenly) and had plenty of heart left to get me home.  I had passed many people and hadn’t been passed by anyone.  I also realized that I hadn’t seen any females around my age since the last one I passed.  I had a fleeting thought that maybe the cherry on this delicious sundae would be to place in my AG for the first time.  My trail times are not impressive and it wasn’t my goal so I didn’t take the thought seriously.

Foreshadowing!!!!!

As I cruised into the finish, I tearfully told a volunteer that I was having the best race ever.  It was tough to keep pushing through to the finish but I did with a huge smile.

Happy tears behind those hideous glasses!

Happy tears behind those hideous glasses!  Peace out, hills!!

Came in, walked around and had a delicious IT’S IT.  The true San Francisco treat.  Chatted with some folks and then headed over to see my place.  The results hadn’t been updated but only 1st and 2nd place in my AG had come in.  There was a chance for 3rd!  I didn’t get my hopes up since I’ve been 4th so many times but low and behold……

I FINALLY GOT A MEDAL THAT NOT EVERYONE GOT!  WHAAAAT?!

I FINALLY GOT A MEDAL THAT NOT EVERYONE GOT! WHAAAAT?!

SUPER STOKED.  There are several reasons why this is not an impressive accomplishment but F*CK THAT.  I’m thrilled.  This was a huge goal of mine and it’s both unbelievable and completely perfect that it happened after running this perfectly executed EPIC race.

Celebrated with Chairman Bao, a lovely lengthening Dailey Method class, Ici Ice Cream and then an unexpected salumi date night with my handsome husband at Adesso.

So basically, best day ever.

 

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Race Recap – Quarry Turkey aka. #BRIDALTROT

Nitro Turkey?  A great race but not my favorite of the year.

Quarry Turkey?  A great race and SUPER FUN because it was my BRIDAL TROT!

I am so lucky that some of my wonderful friends came out to celebrate my impending nuptials by running, walking, and cheering (and wearing goofy bachelorette accessories!)

#bridaltrot cuties!

#bridaltrot cuties!

Quarry Turkey was the second half of Brazen’s Double Turkey Challenge.  It was held at Quarry Lakes in Fremont which is incidentally the town where Tim grew up and a stones throw from the high school he has taught at for 13 years!  It was beautiful and we had perfect weather.  Crisp but comfortable, the weather runners live for.

Ahhhhh lovely!

Ahhhhh lovely!

We all have different paces so a few of us started together but soon got separated.  I opted to stay with my friend Tonia as a couple of our buddies went ahead.  Tonia hadn’t run in awhile and she was a total champ!  The run was relaxing and before I knew it, we were winding around to the finish.

Wooo!  I'm a BRIIIIIIIIDE!

Wooo! I’m a BRIIIIIIIIDE!

Once we were all finished, we took more cutie pictures and then I made a beeline for my sweet connector medal to make MEGA TURKEY MEDAL MADNESS!

BRING IT.  BLING IT.

BRING IT. BLING IT.

I don't aaalways do it for the bling but this weekend, I did.

I don’t aaalways do it for the bling but this weekend, I did.

And then FOOD!  Brazen is known for having It’s Its at the finish line but I’ve never partaken.  This was definitely the day.  Oh, and shots of pumpkin pie.  Anyone who knows me knows that that’s the perfect shot for my bachelorette party.  Not a drinker.  Pie eater.

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It’s Its for EVERYONE!

Last stop was stalking the QUARRY TURKEY.

Just one of the girls!

Just one of the girls!

People were super sweet and congratulatory.  It was so nice to celebrate with my buddies by getting outside, running around, and eating some yummy sweets.  I know people are all about the Vegas weekend but I’ve gotta say, this was awesome (and a hell of a lot less expensive!)  I’m so grateful to my girls for coming out.

I guess the only thing to do now is GET MARRIED!

16 days, 2 hours, 51 minutes and counting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Recap – Nitro Turkey 5k

The alternate title of this race is:

OVER IT.

2013 was a phenomenal year of racing.  I met all of my goals: PR’ing every distance and completing several new ones including triathlon and a full marathon.  Aaaaaaaand, I’m DONE.  The Diablo trail 5k was tough because I was sick but what was so distressing about that race was that I felt like I had no inner fire or fight.

I initially registered for the Nitro Turkey 10k expecting it to be my last opportunity to PR that distance.  When I got my PR at Let’s Go 510, I was still very excited for Nitro because I would get the first part of an UNBELIEVABLE DOUBLE TURKEY CHALLENGE CONNECTOR MEDAL.  And I am a complete blingwhore.  I also looked forward to like thinking about gratitude and whatever on Thanksgiving.  I guess…

I woke up feeling ambivalent.  With my wedding and a very important audition nearing, I am under quite a bit of pressure.  As I drove out to Point Pinole, I attempted to pump myself up with fun music but also contemplated dropping down to the 5k.  It’s a holiday!  I’ve worked hard this year!  It’s not a super punk move, right?  Right?

Last time I ran at Pt. Pinole (in the summer!) it was FREEZING so I layered up.  To my delight, the weather was perfect when I arrived.  Brisk but absolutely comfortable.  This was one of the most popular Brazen events of the year so there were tons of people, including kids doing their own trot.  Super cute.  I love Brazen.  As you know.

I picked up my bib, slunk over to the distance change booth, felt like a punk for about 4 seconds, and then got over it.  As soon as I turned on my charged Garmin and got the “low battery alert” (HOW AND WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN), I felt like I had made the right choice.  This clearly was not my day.

Where's Shauna? She's in neon orange looking down at her malfunctioning f*cking watch.

Where’s Shauna? She’s in neon orange looking down at her malfunctioning f*cking watch.

Not much to report about the race itself.  Point Pinole is beautiful but I didn’t really care.  With no Garmin to curb my start line enthusiasm, I started too fast.  As much as I told myself that “this is what a 5k is supposed to feel like!” I was not a happy girl.  My tummy felt off and to get my heart rate down, I took a few walk breaks.  That voice inside me that usually that screams “DON’T WALK!  KEEP FIGHTING!!!” murmured “go ahead and walk.  Who gives a shit?  It’s a holiday?  You apparently can’t run 3 miles even though you ran a marathon this year.  Ah well…”  

As I approached the finish, I kicked it in and ran down some sweet couple celebrating Thanksgiving.  I apparently had about 4 seconds of competitive drive that I chose to cash in at that moment.  Because I’m nice like that.

Happy!  To be done.

Happy! To be done.

Part of me is a bit concerned that I’m burned out but I truly think I’m just done with this amazing year.  I also didn’t have a race plan which seems to be essential for me.  Yes, it’s a fun run and yes, I would love to run more by feel but I should recognize that having at least a vague plan gets my head around the race.  Looks like every race really does teach you something, even a turkey trot!

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Official Time: 31:54 (not a personal worst.  Woo!), AG: 9/52, Overall: 115/591

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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RACE RECAP – Diablo Trail Adventure 5k (The Rematch)

I ran this race last year in 29:19.

I placed 4th in my AG by 30 seconds.

I blew out my energy on the 1.5 mile ascent and found myself so exhausted coming down the hill that I actually had to walk portions of the return.

I was pissed.

* * *

I ran this race today in 31:46.

I placed 4th in my AG by a minute.

I blew out my energy on the 1.5 mile ascent and found myself so exhausted coming down the hill that I actually had to walk portions of the return.

I was pissed.

* * *

I’m a marathoner!  I just ran a 9:16 average in a 10k?!

I wanted redemption.  I wanted my first AG place.

How did this happen?

When I took off up the hill, I got stuck behind and between some folks but still managed to hit my planned 9:20 within the first quarter mile.  Almost immediately, my breathing was super heavy and I had to pulled back the pace.  I also had an alarming twinge in my knee that I’ve never felt before.  I promised myself that if I felt it again, I would stop and walk the rest of the race.    The first mile buzzed at just under 10:00.  Fine.  I continued on, figuring I was just warming up and looking forward to turning around in half a mile.

The aid station came about 0.25mi before the turnaround.  I skipped it, intending to stop for water and to catch my breath on the way back.  This was a slow pace, even for a hilly course and my lungs were BURNING.

Through the aid station, I attempted some encouraging self-talk but it was way too late.  I didn’t have a particularly positive attitude coming into the race and I definitely didn’t pump myself up during the first couple miles.  I held out as long as I could but stopped to walk right around mile 2.  I felt totally defeated.  Could I seriously not run three hilly miles?  That sucks.  Also, why do my arms hurt?

I ran as much as I could, as quickly as I could and tried to enjoy the downhill advantage.  With half a mile and a steep downhill, I noticed a youngish couple in front of me.  The woman looked like she could have been anywhere between 26 and 32.  I kicked it into gear but so did they and I couldn’t run them down.  I prayed to Jew God that she was a twentysomething, just in case I was miraculously close to placing.  I had no illusions that I had placed, I just didn’t want to be edged out by ten stupid seconds.

I got my massive butterfly medal which was a major upgrade from last year’s tarantula.  Gross.    After four cups of water and two cups of Ultima, my lungs were still burning.  That is highly unusual.  Typically, my heart rate comes down almost immediately and I feel fine.  I found myself wheezing and coughing which is a completely new experience.  I waited around for about 20 min for the results to be updated.

4th.  Again.  Seriously?  That’s just annoying.

(Happily, that girl with the boyfriend/husband/brother was 27 and the 3rd place finisher was a minute ahead of me.  I’d much rather be a minute behind than know that one of my walking breaks cost me the glory of a 3rd place AG finish in a tiny trail race.  Perspective: I has it.)

I drove home feeling really disappointed in myself.  Okay, it’s a small race and no, I didn’t train specifically for it.  But still!  I’ve been very consistent over the last year and the improvements in my mental game should have locked this for me.  Too bad I didn’t apply any of those improvements and basically ran exactly the same race as last year but slower.  Crappy and lame.

I got home, whined to Tim and took a shower.  Lungs still burning.  Strange.  Also, freezing, even after a hot shower.  And then the coughing started and hasn’t stopped since.  We’re talking wheezy, phlegmy, skip tonight’s rehearsal coughing.

I AM SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK.

Well, that explains why I couldn’t even run 10 minute miles and my fricking arms were sore while I was running.  Also explains the dread I felt this morning.  But honestly, I could have pushed and placed.  I could have been relentlessly positive as I have been in all of my recent races.  I could have raced smarter up the hill and faster down the hill but at least I understand why I ran nearly 3 minutes slower than last year.

So, that sucked.  I’m still sucking wind.

See you next year, Diablo.

Ugh.

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Race Recap – Let’s Go 510!

Things I love:

Racing!

PR-ing!

Oakland!

Soooo…..yesterday morning was pretty awesome!

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Hella, Hella, Hella!

I was so pleased to be an ambassador for the inaugural Let’s Go 510 10k, a co-production of Represent Running and Brazen Racing.  As an Oakland girl, I love all things green and gold.  I’ve run numerous Brazen races and they’re always fantastic.  Great energy, courses, medals, food, and free photos!  This race was no exception!  Represent Running brought awesome local flavor, excellent organization and some super entertaining signs.  I really hope this becomes an annual event!

Going into the race, I only had one remaining 2013 running goal : a new 10k PR.

Before the marathon, I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d recover so I didn’t have high hopes for getting my PR at this race.  I was comfortable running it for fun and just enjoying the Bay-centric festivities.  Then I had some short, zippy runs this week and began to reconsider.  My old PR was 1:01:38 which is a 9:55 average.  That was definitely beatable but I truly wanted a more substantial PR than skin of my teeth.  At the very least, I wanted to break an hour.  I went into the race with a plan to run two mile progressions:  start at 9:40, run 9:30 for the middle miles, 9:20 for 5 and 6, and finish with a kick.  It was a slightly aggressive plan, especially since I’ve rarely run faster than 9:45 for the last several months of marathon training.  Aggressive race plan?  Taking chances?  Who is this girl??

The race started at 10am.  A little unorthodox but allowed folks to enjoy the horse races after and get some extra sleep before.  I arrived at Golden Gate Fields around 9am to TONS of parking.  Delightful!  I upgraded my cotton shirt to a tech tee for $6 because the color was more A’s-like.  That’s how I do.  Also got a picture of the track we’d be finishing on.

Charge!

Soon it was time to line up and head off!  Up a hill!

How to get warmed up QUICK...

How to get warmed up QUICK…

I started in the front third to avoid weaving between run/walkers.  As usual, the crowd surged past me.  I remember how demoralizing that used to be and now I think it’s hilarious.  If people want to blow all their energy out in the first mile, more power to them!

So smug, right?  Until I looked down at my watch and saw 9:30.  Hmmm… better curb that energy Shauna Beth!  Then I saw 9:21.  I attempted to hold back but was not surprised when the first mile buzzed in at 9:20.  And I wasn’t even warmed up.  For the first time ever, I was going out too fast!

I let my body settle into a rhythm, glancing down at my watch periodically.  I was still seeing 9:30 and then 9:20ish but when the second mile clocked in at 9:12, I knew I needed to seriously pull back.  I wasn’t winded but I was running considerably faster than I planned.  Again, don’t recognize this braver me but I think I like her!

Okay, okay.  A race photo where I actually look like I'm racing.  Ask and you shall receive.

Okay, okay. A race photo where I actually look like I’m racing. Ask and you shall receive.

I slowed down a bit in the 3rd mile due to grabbing water at the aid station.  It was pretty warm out there and from the start, I was thirsty!  For this race, I opted not to bring a handheld water bottle or fuel and just wing it with what was at the aid station.  Yes, I wung it.  No, I have not had a personality-altering stroke.  I figured the worst that could happen was that I bonk!

That's not a bonk face! :D

That’s not a bonk face! 😀

By the halfway point, I was a little tired and very happy.  I focused on my music, being grateful and proud, and my imminent PR.  Knowing that I could slow down and still PR gave me the strength to cruise along at the pace I’d established from the start.  I grabbed water from the mile 5 aid station and decided to push it through the finish.

Wheee!

Wheee!

Remember that hill at the beginning of the race?  It was an up and down so we had to climb it one last time in the last mile.  GAHHHHH.  I chugged up and wasn’t sure if I might lose my pace as a result.  I recovered on the downhill and continued to push it faster.  The last mile was peppered with cute signs,  courtesy of Represent Running.  The one that caught my eye said “Give 100%.  Unless you’re giving blood.”  BAH!  Love it!

They warned us that the surface on the race track would be…..weird.  And squishy.  As I made the final turn onto the track, I felt like I was running on a tempurpedic mattress.  Memory foam at mile 6.1?  Not ideal but with the finish line and a BIG OLE PR in view, I gave every last bit I had.

BOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

BOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

Yeah, that would be a 4 minute PR.  

Okay, so there may be something to this whole taking chances thing.  Might be something to look into in 2014…

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Race Recap – Portland Marathon

I can’t tell you how delightful it is to type that title.

When last we met, I was on the bathroom floor.

With the essential pre-race activities complete, I got dressed, took some selfies and headed out into the dark.

BRB.

BRB.

It was chilly but I had so much adrenaline I felt surprisingly comfortable.  I walked down to the corrals with a friendly dude and texted my wonderful internet training buddy (and fellow first-timer) Sara to meet up.  It was so fantastic to see her and share my excitement with someone who TOTALLY understood.  We exchanged hugs, neglected to take pictures (whoops), and wished each other luck before heading to our respective corrals.

Ready.....set.....

Ready…..set…..

Before I knew it, our corral was heading forward and then I was stepping over the mat.

Miles 1-3

I AM RUNNING A MARATHON.

There were definitely some happy tears at the start.  I opted to begin with some chill music to ensure that the cumulative effect of taper and race excitement didn’t set me off too fast.  The first mile was a gentle decline which felt wonderful.  I knew that miles 2 and 3 were uphill which would help me establish a cruising pace that would ideally carry me through the first half of the race.  I barely remember anything I saw in these early miles.  All I remember thinking was that everything felt perfect and easy, exactly as it should.  This was the first of many times that I knew I was running exactly the race I trained for.

No idea what mile this was because they pretty much all felt like this.

No idea what mile this was because they pretty much all felt like this.

Miles 3 – 6.5

Downhill + endorphins + marathon energy = BEST MILES OF MY LIFE.

I turned my music off at mile 3 and enjoyed the energy around me and my own positivity.  Heading back downhill, people were flying.  I truly felt incredible and *really* had to pull back my pace here.  I kept reminding myself that slowing down now was an investment in the twenties.  Every time I looked down and saw a low 10, I thought “invest” and slowed back down.  The course flattened out and I hit my first benchmark: 6.2.  Wooo!  I had celebratory music picked out for this moment but I knew I would see my parents who were waiting at mile 6.5 / 11.  Spectators are absolutely amazing and YOUR SPECTATORS are the best.  My stepmom is the most organized woman on earth and true to her adorable form, she laminated my “GO SHAUNA” race sign.  I LOVE HER SO MUCH.  They were on the opposite side of the street but went absolutely apeshit when I ran by!  It was such a fantastic moment.  I could tell the runners around me were delighted by their energy too.

Miles 6.5 – 11

This section was an out and back in an industrial area.  Not the most scenic section of the course but wonderful because I got a fantastic surprise.  I already knew that my fabulous friends Nick and Marissa had named their most recent podcast episode “Marathon” for me but I did not realize that they were going to give me the sweetest intro and ending dedication.  Nick even sang part of a song that I sang for a high school concert.  I straight up laughed out loud like a crazy person.  I was so beyond touched.  At the end of this section, I saw my parents again and got the chance to tell them that I was having the best day of my life.

I LOVE YOU AND RUNNING AND MY LAMINATED SIGN AND MARATHONS AND EVERYTHING EVER!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE YOU AND RUNNING AND MY LAMINATED SIGN AND MARATHONS AND EVERYTHING EVER!!!!!!!!!

Right after blowing kisses to my parents, we split off from the half marathoners.  Several of them wished us luck which I thought was really sweet.

Miles 12 – 17

Bzzzzzzz Mile 12..

Bzzzzzzz Mile 13…

Bzzzzzzz Mile 14…..

This section got a little prettier and the miles just ticked away.  I was actually amazed that I often didn’t know or care what mile I was in.  I had long established a rhythm of drinking water, taking a Bolt Chew every 2 or 3 miles, checking my average pace, and trotting along.  Somewhere around mile 12, I caught up with the 4:40 pace group who had begun in the corral before me (meaning I had a few minutes less than them).  When I settled into their rhythm, I felt like I had found my people and it was a tremendous relief not to have to set my own pace.  Even though I was listening to a combination of podcasts and celebratory halfway point music, I could feel the camaraderie of the group.  Despite a distracting and poorly timed headphone mishap, I stayed with them as we trucked up the notorious hill to the St. Johns bridge.

Happy thumbsing on the bridge.  Don't worry - a post on getting happy race photos is coming.

Happy thumbsing on the bridge. Don’t worry – a post on getting happy race photos is coming.

That hill was really, really worth it.

Once on the bridge, I slowed down to fix my headphone issue.  I dropped a bit behind the 4:40 pace group but I had felt so great throughout the race, I was confident I could catch back up.

Miles 18 – 21

Over the bridge, I began a podcast.  Not the best timing because I was still a bit fatigued from the ascent to the bridge and the lack of musical inspiration lulled me right into the wall.

So, the wall is interesting.  I knew I was fueled and hydrated but I just started to feel really tired.  I wasn’t demoralized by the distance and my thoughts were still quite positive.  Nothing really hurt but I was just TIRED.  I realized quickly that this was the wall and reminded myself that it was temporary and eventually I would scale it and my energy would return.  I even smiled because I was experiencing this runner rite of passage.  And also, it sucked.

My bestie Lauren (WHOSE DAD WON THE MOTHERF*CKING NOBEL PRIZE ON MONDAY. WHAT?!) was stationed somewhere between miles 19 and 20 so looking for her helped manage my waning interest in running.  “Waning interest” would be the understatement of the year but I kept reminding myself that I was running my perfect race.  I had no pain, perfectly even splits, no tummy issues, and a positive mindset.    When I hit mile 21, I put some music on and felt completely recharged!  AHHHH SWEET RELIEF!  I kept looking for Lauren but at this point I figured I had either missed her or she hadn’t been able to come out.  No biggie – I HAD DOWNHILL MILES TO RUN!  WAHOOOO!

Here's me looking exactly the same happy at a completely different point in the race!

Here’s me looking exactly the same happy at a completely different point in the race!

Miles 22-26

Okay, so my quads are still trashed today but it was so worth it.  Those two miles of descent felt f*cking awesome.  I realize some people aren’t that comfortable running downhill but I love it.  When looking at the course, I wondered if it would even feel like a relief at this point in the race.  Um, it totally did times a million.  I caught back up with the 4:40ers and hung out with them until the course leveled out at mile 24.

So, two miles left.  No biggie, right?  What’s twenty minutes when you’ve already been running for more than four hours?

It’s very, very, very, very difficult.

I knew I just had to get to the Broadway bridge to get back.  Just get UP TO THAT BRIDGE (that part was a doozy).  Just get over the bridge.  Just get to mile 25 where Tim and your family are waiting for you.

I had run the entire time.  Even during water bottle refills, I shuffled from volunteer to volunteer.  I had not walked a single step.  At this point it truly took all my mental fortitude not to walk.  I just kept asking myself if it was worth giving up the ultimate baller status of running an entire marathon non-stop.  Every time I decided it wasn’t, I slowed down to a shuffle long enough to feel a bit of relief and then picked the pace back up.  During this mile, the 4:40 (4:36 for me) pace group drifted further ahead until they disappeared completely.

Now, if there is a single thing I could have done differently during the race, it would have been to take a salt pill around mile 17.  I’ve never taken one but I intend to experiment with them in future training.  I was drinking water and fueling well but I started to feel a little bit of tummy instability at mile 24.  This is my tell-tale sign of mild dehydration.  I drank water but my body just wasn’t absorbing it effectively anymore.  Truthfully, I had enough energy to push my pace at this point but my tummy wouldn’t let me and I was unwilling to stop in a portapotty.

I got across the bridge with a major improvement in mood and pace.  Thank you Demi Lovato.  Heart Attack was my JAM on that bridge and I felt pretty amazing.  Right at the mile 25 mark, there was a left turn.  In an attempt to run the tangent correctly, I almost missed Tim who was standing on the corner!  He yelled out for me and when I saw him, he had the most enormous smile on his face.  I felt so proud and just screamed that I loved him and kept moving forward.

I was running the last mile of my first marathon.  I was tired.  I was going to become a marathoner.  I had run exactly the race I trained for.

I saw the 26 mile marker and turned on my special song.  Then I turned left and saw the finish line.

738754-1058-0024s

And then it was done.

4 hours, 40 minutes and 43 seconds of effort done.

Two thumbs enthusiastically up for marathons.  Marathons rule.

Two thumbs enthusiastically up for marathons. Marathons rule.

I collected my space blanket, MEDAL, and immediately downed several cups of water and OJ.  That OJ was seriously the most delicious thing I had ever tasted.  Then I went through to get my finishers shirt (SWEET), commemorative coin, replica medal pendant, and rose.  If you like SWAG, run the Portland Marathon.  For real.

My parents, stepbrother, cousin and his fiancé were easy to find in the reunion area.  It was so special to have them there to share the experience with.  We took a bunch of family pictures in which I got what is probably my favorite picture ever taken:

Peep my laminated sign with clip art.  I love them so much.

Peep my laminated sign with clip art. I love them so much.

So…you know who else it was special to share this experience with?

YOU.

Every tweet, text, emoji, comment, smile, and encouraging word over the last four months got me to this place.  I am so grateful and moved by the unbelievable support of my family, friends, and the phenomenal internet running/triathlon community.  This was a tremendous endeavor for me and you made it delightful every literal step of the way.  Thank you so much.

I ran a marathon.

Best. Day. Ever.

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RACE RECAP – Summer Breeze Half Marathon

Welp, not much to say about this race….

It was perfect.

027

My primary goal for this race was to PR.  A half marathon PR is one of my stated 2013 goals and also serves as a long-awaited redemption run.  I trained long and hard for my first half marathon only to have a miserable, disappointing experience.  I was stressed and unhappy throughout.  Ultimately my time didn’t reflect my effort because I added a TON of distance (like a goddamned half mile!) by running the tangents poorly.  I intended to learn from that and correct it.  I wanted a very different experience this time around.

After having a truly joyful run earlier in the week, I had an additional goal for Summer Breeze:

Be Positive!

I committed to only positive thoughts beginning the day before.  I used a pace calculator online that allowed me to create a negative split, which I love from both a physical and psychological perspective.  I feel much more in control if I know that I’m holding back energy for later.  I spent some time the evening before thinking about how comfortable that pace would be in the early miles and that I’m fully equipped to execute my race strategy.  My intended pace was not a challenging one so I just kept reminding myself that if I wanted that PR, it was mine.  It still wouldn’t be “easy” but it was achievable without a doubt.

Woke up race morning feeling great!  Had successful bathroom time.  It sounds silly but once that happens, I know I’m going to be okay.  It’s necessary!  And yes, I congratulated myself.

Went to the race.  Found perfect parking.  It was like 60 degrees and overcast.  The race shirt is hella cute.

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Met up with my new buddy Jessica who was running the 10k.  It was her first race since her frickin’ frackin’ Ironman debut.  So awesome!

As I began to run, I stayed slooooow and allowed everyone to surge past me.  No, it doesn’t feel great when that happens but it affirmed that I was running my race according to my plan.  I knew I wouldn’t be last and figured that maaaaaybe I would pass a few of those folks on the way back.  Not that it matters.  Yeah right.  😀  It always takes a couple minutes for my Garmin pace to settle and once it did, I was right on target.

Perfect.  And I told myself so.  And I smiled.

As I warmed up, I kept a close eye on my watch.  Rather than feeling concerned and stressed, it was a constant reminder that I was on target and making smart choices.

So, I just did that for the first 6 miles.  In the moments where I felt bored, I acknowledged that as the reality of endurance running and shifted to another thought.  When I felt a little tired, I didn’t panic about what that meant for the next 7 miles, I just again acknowledged it as a reality of running a half marathon and focused on something else.  Occasionally, I saw paces that I wanted to save for the second half of the race.  When I did, I congratulated myself for being strong and fit and dialed it back.

Perfect.

The turnaround is my second favorite part of any run.  This course was a long out and back along the San Leandro/Hayward shoreline so the turnaround felt supersweet.  I brought a handheld water bottle and drank whenever I felt thirsty and took a bolt chew every three miles.  Enough to sustain me and know that I had fuel to burn but not enough to risk sloshy tummy.  More perfect!

Coming home!  Very, very happy!

Coming home! Very, very happy!

For miles 7-10, I allowed myself to run the pace I’d wanted to run for the first half.  Not pushing, not pulling.  It was more tiring, obviously, so it was time to amp up the positive thoughts.  I had cut straight across every curve and my Garmin was buzzing with every mile marker.  YES.  My legs and heart felt great.  YES.  Each wooden bridge felt like a brief foot massage.  YES, YES, YES!

I held off on music until around mile 7.  Once all my pop buddies joined me, I felt like they took on some of the effort.  Welcome, Britney.  And thank you!

When I hit double digits, it was time to tap into all that strategically reserved energy.  I focused on running lightly and turning my legs over more quickly.  I didn’t want to blow that energy too quickly so I pushed a bit until mile 12 when I gave it all I had.  With the finish line about a quarter mile away, I turned it on.

Oh SHIIIIIIIIII!!!!!

Oh SHIIIIIIIIII!!!!!

Official time: 2:10:07

AG: 12/42

Overall: 264/511

* * * Previous PR: 2:16:45 * * *

CAN I GET A BOOOOOOOYAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jessica was so sweet to wait for me to come in after she got second in her AG!!!  Runner women are wonderful.  We chatted briefly but I actually had to race home, shower, foam roll and get in the car to go to work 1.5 hours away!  Not ideal but many hours later, I got my celebratory deep dish.

I didn’t feel anything like last year.  When I finished, I wanted water but wasn’t nauseous.  My body actually felt good!  I was just HAPPY.  Clearly from the kick I had at the finish and the relative ease of the race, I have a much faster half marathon in me.  I look forward to working towards that.  Today was about executing my race plan, my way and I did.

Perfectly.