Thursday, December 31, 2015

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

2015 was a great race year for me.  As December was coming to an end, I decided I wanted to do one more Half and signed up for the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon, taking place the weekend after Christmas.  I had heard great things about this race and was looking forward to it.  

Bib pick-up was the day after Christmas at Road Runner Sports-- I was a little bit nervous about this.  A retail store the day after Christmas?  Yes, it was crowded, but everything was well organized and I had no problems getting my bib.  I even picked up a few goodies with the coupon that came with out packet.

Flat Jenn ready for race morning!

I woke up race morning ready to go.  It was a cold one--thank goodness for the gloves and mylar blanket that came in our packets.  A definite win!  I left early to give myself time to find the race area and parking-- both were easy.  I made my way to the start line and discovered the neighboring Double Tree Hotel had their ballroom open for the runners, which meant warmth! Another win.  I met up with Michelle and we caught up a bit before heading to our corrals.  7:30am came and we were off!

The 13.1 miles were pretty uneventful-- we had been "warned" about a few hills in the pre-race communications, but other than the hills, I found the course to be a bit boring.  It wasn't a bad course, just not anything I found to be interesting.  A lot of the course is along traffic and the freeway-- there was minimal crowd support.  (The people out there were awesome. ) They had a good amount of water stations and on course restrooms, which is great.  I will say the best thing about the course is the 3 minute PR I got from it.  

At the finish line area, I waited for Michelle and explored a bit--there was definitely a great post-race energy and the post-race treats were great!  (Although it looked like they ran out of things for some of the runners)  The race finished in Torrey Pines-- I went over to the water area to take pictures with my medal-- the finish area was definitely beautiful.  They also provided post-race shuttles back to the the parking areas which was great!  

Michelle at the Finish Area

Overall, I would do this event again.  The shirt and medal were awesome.  I would like to see if I can PR the course again.  How did you finish your race year?

Until next time, happy running.

PS: See that new badge on the right?!  I am happy to announce that I was selected as one of the 2016 Pro Compression Ambassadors.  I am so excited to be joining the team and can't wait to see what 2016 brings.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Top 5 Running Moments of 2015

As my 2015 race season nears it's final race, I've been reflecting back on my year of running.  I am truly blessed for the experiences that 2015 brought me and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store.  I've narrowed down my top 5 running moments from the year, in no particular order:

Nike Women's Half Marathon

The Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco is the first lottery type of race I've ever participated in.  I applied and honestly forgot about it, thinking I wouldn't get in my first time.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got the e-mail telling me I was in.  I had never been to San Francisco and had heard great things about this race.  The city was amazing-- I definitely want to go back.  And the course was beautiful-- without doubt the prettiest race course I'd ever run.  Nike recently announced that the race series would not be heading back to San Francisco for 2016 so I am definitely glad I had this experience.  I look forward to seeing which city they go to next.

Rock N Roll San Diego

Rock N Roll San Diego was the first time I enjoyed the entire race experience.  I went to the expo, listened to speakers, shopped, met Meb and did more than just pick up my bib.  I ran the 5K and the Half Marathon during the RNRSD weekend and had a blast at both.  After the 5K, I went to the ProCompressionon meet-up and met some awesome people.  Before the Half Marathon on Sunday, I met Harriette Thompson- the oldest woman to complete a marathon.   If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will.  San Diego is my city and the crowds did not disappoint.  The crowd support was by far the best of any race I ran in 2015, from the shots to the funny signs, it was awesome.  I enjoyed all my race travels, but like they say, there's no place like home.

My Fastest Mile

This didn't happen during a race-- just a typical training run.  When I run, my goal isn't to be fast.  My goal is to finish and to improve from my last run.  And then this happened.  I was shocked.  Not because it's insanely fast, because let's face it, it isn't.  But for me and how far I've come as a runner, it is fast.  Do I think I can run severals miles at this pace? Not yet.  But seeing what my body is capable of gives me a goal and something to strive for.

RunDisney Avengers Half Marathon Weekend

I signed up for the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend because I wanted to do another RunDisney event (My first was the DIsneyland Half Marathon).  I haven't seen the movies and didn't know what a "Gauntlet Challenge" was, but I was ready to have fun.  And fun I did have.  I went to the We Run Social meet-up on Friday and met some awesome people.  Over the next two days, we would see each other again, running the 10K and Half Marathon.  I ran the Half Marathon with three of my new friends and I can honestly say it's the most fun I'd ever had during a race.  I usually run alone, so running with other people was an experience for me. But it was a blast.  I can't wait to see them all again at our next RunDisney race!

Rock N Roll Chicago

When I signed up for Rock N Roll Chicago, it wasn't just about running for me.  I got an e-mail about the race shortly after my mom had passed away and something in me said I had to sign up.  My grandmother grew up in Chicago, so I heard stories about the city growing up and watched Cubs games with her all the time.  Even though I had never been to Chicago, I felt a connection and I knew that RNRCHI would be a great way to experience it.  I made a vacation out of it, staying a week so that I would have time to explore and see things other than the race part of my trip.  It was amazing.  I fell in love with the city and felt a sense of peace that I hadn't felt since my mom had passed away.  The race experiences were amazing-- from the people to the course.  (Although I could definitely do without the midwest heatwave we had!)  This trip far exceeded my expectations and have me just what I needed in my life at that point.  I will forever be grateful for the experience and everyone that was involved in it.  I can't wait to go back for RNRCHI in 2016.

I hope everyone had a great race year! Until next time, happy running.

Monday, December 14, 2015

San Diego Santa Run Recap

After scoring a pair of ProCompression's Ugly Sweater Socks, I decided I wanted to rock them at a holiday run.  I made a last minute decision to sign up for the San Diego Santa Run, joining thousands of Santas as we took over the streets of Pacific Beach (PB).  

Packet pick-up was the day before the race-- there was also race day pick-up, but I honestly like having my bib the day before.  So I made my way down to Pacific Beach and located the pick-up-- it was in a random parking lot, but surprisingly, parking was relatively easy to find and packet pick-up was well organized.  With your race bib, you are received a Sunny Claus suit, sunglasses and some other goodies. 

Start Line
The day before the race a rain storm hit San Diego and I was a little nervous it would still be raining on race morning.  I woke up to sunny, blue skies and was ready to head down to PB for the run.  Since parking in PB can be a bit tricky, I headed down there early.  I'm glad I did-- I ended up parking a mile away from the start line.  I made my way to the start line, which was easy to find-- you just had to look for the Santas.

So many Santas!

I have never seen so many people dress as Santa and one area and the energy was amazing.  RunMC was providing pre-race entertainment and was on point.  I could tell this was definitely going to be a fun race.  The race had a 5K, a mile speed race, a kid's race and a Santa's Little Helpers race (for dogs and their owners.)  I was running the 5K and it began promptly at 10:00am.  

I decided to be El on a Shelf!

The course was a typical street course-- it had more of a gradual incline at the beginning than I was expecting, but that also meant you got to run back down and I love a good down hill run.  There were random spectators and a lot of people taking pictures--- how often do you see that many Santas running down the street.  It was one of those races where you couldn't help but smile.    

As I was looking at my Garmin, I realized I was on target to PR for a race 5K, which helped push me to the finish.  I was a little disappointed to discover that the 5K wasn't quite a 5K (my watch read 2.9 miles)  

Overall, this was a very fun race. High Performance Movement definitely puts on a good race.  The energy was amazing-- this race can definitely turn any Grinch into a Santa!  I'm definitely planning on doing it again next year and am hoping I can talk some of my friends into running it with me.  

Always fun to see Carlee at races

One more race left in my 2015 race season!  Until next time, happy running.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Opting Outside

When REI announced that they would not be opening on Black Friday and were encouraging people to go outside, I decided that's how I wanted to spend my Black Friday. (A recent change in my life meant that this would be the first Black Friday I wasn't working in 18 years- I was ready for something outside of shopping.)  I've done the Black Friday thing and though I've had a lot of fun and found some awesome deals in the past, I wanted something different this year.

My original plan was to to hike Mt. Woodson on Black Friday, but the sudden rain that visited San Diego changed those plans.  I decided to explore Torrey Pines State Reserve instead-- I've seen pictures but this was someplace I'd never been to.  

It was cold!
The "hiking" at Torrey Pines was what I was expecting.  It's easy pathways which makes it great for all level of hikers.  I like that there were different path options.  The plan was to visit a few of the trails, then make our way back via the beach.  The high-tide changed our plans, but it was still a beautiful hike. We ended up hiking about 6 miles total and rewarded ourselves with lunch at a local taco shop. 

There were a lot of people out on the trails-- all ages and a lot of families. I loved this!  I don't know if this was a result of REI's #OptOutside campaign, but I loved seeing so many people out enjoying nature.  

I enjoyed my time at Torrey Pines, but woke up Saturday morning still craving a little bit more of a challenge.  After a last minute decision, I found myself on my way to Mt. Woodson, more commonly known in San Diego as the "Potato Chip Rock."  It's around an 8 mile hike so I made sure to bring my Camelbak and hiking snacks.  The weather in San Diego can be a bit unpredictable at times-- on Friday I was in long sleeves, pants and a beanie.  On Saturday, I was back to shorts and a tank.  Regardless of the temperature change, it was still a beautiful day.

The view from about half way up the mountain.

 The hike at Mt. Woodson was definitely more challenging than the day before-- I was a little sore from Thursday's running and Friday's hiking.  There were people out, but it was never too crowded.  One of my favorite things about Mt. Woodson is that it presents enough of a challenge to keep me motivated but not too much that it makes it hard for my fitness level.  I am not an expert hiker by any means, but do love to explore the trails.  And San Diego has some awesome ones.

When we got towards the top, we noticed that there was a long line at the top for people to go out on the "Chip."  This is a popular spot and the top can get busy at times.  (There are two ways to the top of the mountain, so it's hard to anticipate how many people will actually be up there)  We decided not to wait for a picture and headed back down the mountain.  (I've been here before and have a picture on the rock.  If you've never been here, wait in line-- it's worth the wait!) 

The view from the top of Mt. Woodson

If you've never hiked Mt. Woodson, I would definitely recommend it.  If you go during the warmer months, make sure to bring water.  There are signs posted that recommend at least 2 liters per person or animal. (It is dog friendly)

Do you hike in San Diego?  Where are some of your favorite places to hike? 
Until next time, happy running!

O'Side Turkey Trot

Since I started running, I've been wanting to run a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.  My schedule finally worked out and I realized I would be able to this year!  San Diego offers several Turkey Trots and after some research and getting some feedback, I decided to run the O'Side Turkey Trot.  And this year, they were offering a combo-- you could sign up to run the 10K and the 5K.  Two medals? Sign me up!!!
How fun is this turkey?!
I woke up early and made my way to Oceanside.  It's about an hour drive for me, so I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get there and find the race area.  Once I arrived, I made my way over to the Oceanside Civic Center for packet pick-up.  I'm glad I got there early-- my bib was missing!  I made my way over to race solutions and they were finally able to get me situated and assigned me a new bib number.  Now I was ready to go!

I made my way to the starting area and met up with Kendyl.  She's one of my Instagram running friends I met at a meet-up earlier in the summer-- it was great to see her again in person and catch up.  She was running the 5K and we decided we would me up after I finished the 10K.  After we chatted for a bit, it was time for me to head over the corrals for the 10K start.  

The 10K

This was my first time in Oceanside, so I wasn't really sure what to expect with this race.  As I headed over to the corrals, I discovered it was a "place yourself" corral.  I went into the 9-10 min mile-- I was getting over a cold and hadn't run in almost two weeks, so I didn't know what to expect of myself.  The corral area and race staff were well organized.  They entertained us before the start and after the National Anthem, we were ready to go.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:45am and they were prompt! 

The first four miles of the run were boring scenery wise-- it's through the streets of Oceanside.  It was fun to see what stores and restaurants were there since I'd never been to the area, but truly not that exciting.  There was also a little bit of drizzle during this portion of the race so I was trying to be careful not to slip on the wet ground.  But was we made our way to mile 4, we found ourself on the beach and it was beautiful!

The Views!
The beach is my happy place, so I love any run that goes near beaches.  We ran down the boardwalk area and it was fun to have crowd support from the beach rentals. It was early on Thanksgiving morning so it's always great when people are willing to wake up and cheer on complete strangers!  We made our way on the boardwalk to the pier-- running on the pier was fun!  After the pier, we made our way back up to street level but still had a awesome view of the water.  We even passed the house from Top Gun, which was cool.  The last half mile or some took us back down to the boardwalk area, but a little bit closer to the water.  With the high tide, the waves were actually crashing up over the rocks and onto the race course.  It was awesome!  I wish I had my camera ready for this-- it was definitely an experience.  

Overall, the 10K was fun.  The last two miles of the course make up for the boring first 4 miles.   I would definitely run it again.  

The 5K

After the 10K finished, I headed back to the start line area to meet up with Kendyl and run the 5K.  It's always fun to have friends to run with so I was excited to run with here.  The 5K also had "place yourself" corrals, but it was definitely more chaotic than the 10K.  There were more participants for the 5K, so it was more crowded and I had to question how many people in the front corrals actually run at their placed paces.  We even saw runners with strollers making their way into the front corrals, even though the strollers were supposed to be in the back.  

The start to the 5K was similar to the 10K.  It started on time and after the National Anthem, we were off.  The beginning of the course is very similar to the 10K-- same streets, just not as far.  It wasn't as boring this time since I was running with a friend.  After a while, I was tired and slowed down a bit.  I told Kendyl I would catch up with her, but we didn't meet up again until the finish line.  I pushed myself for the 10K and was feeling it during the 5K.  

The finish of the 5K was the same as the 10K.  My favorite part of both races was the water crashing onto the race course-- it's not something you experiences with most races.  After meeting up with Kendyl, we made our way for post-race nutrition and to pick up our race shirts.  They had a sleeveless tech shirt option for women which I loved-- I'm not a fan of short sleeve race shirts.  

This was a great race for my first Turkey Trot.  I would definitely running again.  

Did you run on Thanksgiving this year?  

Until next time, happy running!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Avengers Half Marathon Weekend Recap

Last weekend I was excited to head up to Anaheim for my second RunDisney race event.  I had a blast at the Disneyland Half Marathon and I couldn't wait to do it again with the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend.  I have to admit, I've never seen the Avengers movies-- I wasn't really sure what I signed up for, but after googling costume ideas, I was ready to have some fun!

The Expo

The race expo was very similar to the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend.  I was a little disappointed that some of the official RunDisney merchandise had sold out by the time I got there, but overall it was a good experience.  (If anyone had any extra race pins, let me know! :) )  I didn't need anything at the expo, but I still managed to find a few goodies.   They also had an area to make little care packages for our troops overseas-- I loved this.  You completed a post card and filled a bag with some treats and toiletries.  I love when races give back!

Jeff Galloway

Pamela at Sparkly Soul Inc!

When I picked up my packet, I noticed that my corral was further pack than I had anticipated.  I'm pretty sure I had submitted my time verification, but their records indicated that I hadn't. Fortunately I was able to pull up a race time from another event and they changed my corral for me.  

We Run Social Meet-Up

Friday night, there was a We Run Social meet-up at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney hosted by Ivie (@ivieanne), AJ (@a2thej44) and Jen (@pinkcupcakegirl).  All the fun was had and I enjoyed making some new friends!  It's fun when the social media worlds and the real worlds collide.  There was conversation, coffee and treats.  I even won a pair of ProCompression socks. This was definitely a great start to the race weekend.

"Do the Pavey!"

Captain America 10K

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early for the Captain America 10K.  RunDisney had suggested we arrive at 4am to get through security and make it to the corrals in a timely fashion.  Everything pre-race was well organized.  I was the one who wasn't organized-- I was not prepared for how cold it was.  By the time my corral started, I was frozen.  I started running with a group of friends I had met at the meet-up, but eventually separated from the group in an effort to speed up and get myself warm.  It took a few miles before I lost the chill.  It was a hard lesson to learn-- I am weather spoiled in Southern California and don't usually run in temperatures that cold. (And yes, because I am weather spoiled, the 50 degrees was cold for me :)  )

Flat Jenn for the Captain America 10K

The 10K course was the same of the Disneyland 10K course, which I enjoyed.  I loved the areas of the parks we ran through and the crowd support.  I hadn't intended on doing any character stops, but decided that since this was in the inaugural Captain America 10K, I had to take a picture with Captain America.  
Overall, the 10K was another fun RunDisney event and I look forward to doing it again next year.  

Avengers Half Marathon

Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early again.  I headed to the pre-race area, better prepared for the cold this day.  (I had a mylar blanket from the 10K)  I met up with the runners I had met at the meet-up again and we made our ways to the corral.  My plan for this race was to stay with the group-- sometimes the fun you have and the people you run with are more important than your race time.  This was going to be one of those races.  
Flat Jenn ready for the Avengers Half Marathon

This course was different than the Disneyland Half Marathon and I'm not honestly sure how I feel about it.  My biggest complaint is that during the parks portion of the run, you don't run through the castle.  How can you have a RunDisney run without the castle?!  There was also a trail portion of the run as we made our was to Angel's Stadium that was too narrow for the number of runners.  If a runner was trying to maintain a steady pace, it would have been really hard to do so at this portion of the run.  

Overall, this was probably the most fun I've had with a race.   I ran with Stephanie, Toni and Michelle-- it was awesome to have running buddies during the races.  I usually run on my own, so this was a great new experience for me.  We stopped for pictures, had great conversations and it was great to see Stephanie cross the finish line with a RunDisney PR and reaching her race goal for 2015.  We're all planning on coming back for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May 2016.  

Running the 10K and Half Marathon meant you completed the Gauntlet Challenge

Random Weekend Shenanigans 

A weekend of running at Disney meant a weekend of fun at Disney.  I spent Friday and Saturday in the parks, enjoying the holiday decorations and people.  Disneyland is definitely one of my happy places and I love being there.  I also love that they offer interpreting services on the weekend-- on Saturday, I was able to see several shows in ASL.  The interpreters are awesome!  

Until next time, Happy Running!

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