Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon on March 17, 2013.

My original St. Patrick’s Day race was the Badger Cove Half Marathon, put on by Brazen Racing. I registered for it before seeing an elevation map, which was a mistake. Brazen is known for their trail runs, so I should have known! It was 1,800 of elevation changes. Wha-what?

I knew I didn’t have the training to do this kind of course, so I chickened out of it. I looked for a different race to run because given my race calendar for the year, I was not going to start out injured and knew that could very well happen on a trail course.

st-patricks-event-slider-640-280So after looking around, I found the Go Green Half. The majority of it would be run on my favorite running trail in Los Gatos, the medal had a built-in bottle opener, and I had to redeem myself after my craptastic run at the Hellyer Half Marathon (recap to be posted).

At bib pick-up, we got a green bag AND a 22 oz of beer. How awesome is that?!

RosaLear_GoGreen_4I got to the race an hour before it was set to start. Aside from getting a fantastic parking spot, there was no benefit to getting there that early. It wasn’t busy, and even 15 minutes before the start time, porta potties lines were non-existent (bonus).

The crowd for this one was small, which is typical for a small-town race. There were no corrals, so we all self placed based on how fast we were going to run. I just wanted to be in front of the people with strollers, because once we were on the trail, it would be hard to pass them.

There was no pretense, and promptly at 7am, the race started. Everyone took off fast, as is typical. I hung back, but it was tough to not go out fast since we were running down a steepish hill. These are nearly as painful as going uphill in the beginning. How about a flat start? 🙂

We ran through the Vasona Park parking lot and then headed up a hill and out of the park on to a city street. I liked this part of the run because it was tree-lined, peaceful, cool, and we got a great view of Vasona Lake. Beautiful.

I had a hard time finding a comfortable pace. I kept speeding up and slowing down. I had to keep telling myself to run my own race, to not try to keep up with others. My competitive nature constantly gets the best of me, I tell you.

We ran on city streets and through some business parks. I didn’t mind this part, but it was kind of boring with nothing to see. After 5 miles or so, we were directed back onto the Los Gatos Creek Trail. We took some trail loops that I didn’t even know existed and I’ve run this trail a ton! (I used to live a mile from this trail, so would run here 3 – 4 times a week for several years).

By mile 7, I was tired. I had only run a few 12+ mile distances since getting back to running after having C, so hadn’t built up my endurance as strongly as I had wanted. I drank a ton of Gatorade, and this helped a bit.

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We finally started heading back to Vasona Park. I love this part of the trail. It’s a gradual incline, but not really noticeable (until you start running in the opposite direction). It’s also heavily shaded, which is nice when it’s warmer outside.

At about the 11 mile mark, I started trying to amp up the intensity. I started passing people left and right. My pace kept increasing and it felt amazing to push myself like that.

As I rounded the final corner leading to the finish line, I realized that there were orange traffic cones going up a hill. We were to veer off the trail and run straight up this hill before we could cross the finish line. Ahh!

RosaLear_StPatricksDay2 copyI ran as fast as I could up that hill, then sprinted the short distance to the finish line. I immediately looked down at my watch and knew I was close to my standing PR set at San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon in 2011), but couldn’t remember it’s exact number at the time.

RosaLear_GoGreen3My finish time was 1:56:28. This was only 20 seconds slower than my existing PR! 20 seconds! Had I known there was that hill at the end, I totally would have started running faster earlier. But it was a great race and I can’t complain about my performance!

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San Francisco Rock n Roll Half Marathon Recap

I ran the San Francisco Rock n Roll Half Marathon on April 7, 2013.

SF_RnR_RosaLear2This was the inaugural event and since it was so close to home (a 50 minute drive), I had to run it. Plus, part of the run would be across the Golden Gate Bridge. How cool is that? I had never been on the bridge before so it was cool to get to cross it during a race.

The race started at 7am and I thought I left the house with plenty of time (5am). However, parking was hard to find and when I finally found a lot, it took forever to pay for my slot. By the time I made it to the runner’s village and used a porta potty, I only had 15 minutes before start time. I hate cutting it that close!

This was my first Rock n Roll race since I ran Las Vegas in 2011 and I enjoyed it much more. They did a great job with staggering the corrals so that congestion was significantly reduced. When I ran in RnR’s Las Vegas and San Jose events, the staggered start was non-existent. This time, I didn’t cross the start line for about 10 minutes, but it was worth it to not have to weave so much.

Right after we crossed the start line, we were running on an uphill. Starts like this are so discouraging! My legs were already starting to feel heavy and I hadn’t even run half a mile. Once my legs felt recovered from the incline, I started feeling better about my endurance.

SF_RnR_RosaLear8The scenery was great. We ran along the water, through Chrissie Field, up some beautiful hills, across the Golden Gate Bridge (both ways), and then back to Aquatic Park for the finish.

I hadn’t really put in any hill training so I was super nervous about this course. I knew it would be tough, so I didn’t have high hopes of a great finish time.

But I’ll have to say, the hills, even though they were steep, weren’t as bad as I had made them out to be in my head. I was able to run up every single one of them and even though I slowed my pace while doing it, they didn’t kill me. My legs also recovered nicely after every hill, so I was able to get back to a nice pace quickly.

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge was easily the best part for me. I absolutely loved it. The views of the San Francisco skyline, of the ocean in the distance, and even Alcatraz in the middle of the bay, was awesome!

SF_RnR_RosaLear7Once we crossed the bridge into Marin County, we went down a little hill that took us under the bridge and to the other side so that we could head back into San Francisco. I took a 20 second walk break here because the strap of my water bottle came undone and I couldn’t run and fix it at the same time. I hate having to stop during a race!

SF_RnR_RosaLear5Once we were off the bridge, we headed back to the Aquatic Park for the finish. I wasn’t a fan of the path we were running on, though. It was firmly packed dirt and kind of sandy on top. I know it’s a lot better for your joints to run on something more giving like this (I usually run on sidewalks), but the extra give in the ground made my legs tired. I was very happy to see a paved trail again!

SF_RnR_RosaLear3I know that in the above picture it looks like I’m hurting, but I’m really trying to smile at the photographer. Really!

SF_RnR_RosaLear4As we made our way into the Aquatic Park, we had to go up another hill. Yeah, this one wasn’t nearly as bad as the ones in the first half of the course, but after running 12.5 miles, it hurt just as bad. I was running out of gas fast!

When the path leveled out again, I tried to sprint to the finish. The finish line felt like a mirage, though. It kept moving farther and farther away as I ran toward it. Or maybe I was just delirious at that point.

I finally reached the finish line, got my medal, a jar of chocolate milk from ReFuel and a bottle of water. I loved the medal! So pretty! It’s so cool that it has the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline incorporated.

SFRnRMedalI loved this race. I loved it so much I registered for 2014 about a week later. It’s a great way to see the Golden Gate Bridge, to run up some mean hills, and to it all in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Love me some San Francisco!

Finish time: 2:00:13. (Darn water bottle!)

Mermaid Series Sirena18 Miler Recap

On May 11, 2013 I ran the Mermaid Series Sirena18 Mile Race. There were several distances available for this one including 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon, but the 18 mile race fit perfectly into the marathon training schedule, so I jumped right in.

MermaidSienna18_2_2013The race was about 30 minutes from my house and at a park that I had never visited before. From reviews online I knew that it would be pretty flat, so I thought I would try to finish around 2:45:00.

The day was promising to be warm. There was no cloud cover and at 7:30am, it was warming up. The 18 miler field was on the smaller side, but from what I read online, much larger than the previous year (this was the third year they’d done this distance). This was my first woman-focused race and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let’s say there was a lot of bling that day!

We lined up willy nilly and were off. I tried to get into a rythym quickly, but it was tough. I hadn’t realized that part of the course would be on a dirt/gravel road. I train primarily on concrete or asphalt, so my feet and ankles were not used to the loose terrain. I found myself running in the 9:30s so as not to sprain an ankle. It as defeating to run this way because I had big expectations for this race and was already getting tired in the first 5 miles.

But at mile 5 or 6, that changed. We left the park and transferred to a paved trail and I was able to reduce my pace significantly. I was pushing 8:45s and feeling strong. It got hard at mile 12, but I kept pushing. I hydrated well, fueled well, and fed off the enthusiasm of the other women out there (there were a ton of “You got this,” “Good job,” “Do this, Mermaid”).

From mile 10 on, I was never passed and ended up passing quite a few people. It felt amazing and kept me going. I started seeing 8:30s pop up on my Garmin around mile 15 and was elated!

But then the dirt/gravel road hit again. As we came back into the park at mile 17, we started running on this loose stuff again. I tried to maintain my 8:30 pace on this and it was hard! There was one woman in front of me and I just made her my rabbit. I was never able to pass her, but trying to keep up with her was motivating. The finish was on a slight uphill (why do races do that?!) and I felt like I finished strong despite it.

My finish time was 2:40:27.

MermaidSienna18_1_2013Instead of medals we received pendants, which were very cute. I would have liked also receiving some sort of chain with it, but the pendant was fine. There were lots of tents set up at the finish line, but the only one I visited was the race results tent. I walked around for 10 minutes to stretch my legs out and then headed home.

The confidence level that this race gave me, and the perfect race distance for my training schedule, made the race worth it at the time. But given the gravel path at the beginning/end and lack of a “real” medal, I probably won’t do it again.

San Jose Giants 5K Recap

On June 1, 2013 I walked the San Jose Giants 5K race with my stepson, D. It was his very first road race and I was so excited to do this with him.

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To get him quasi-ready for this distance (he’s only 5 years old), we would go on walks several times a week, every other week. We even did a trial walk about 2 weeks before the event. He really liked this because it meant that every .75 miles he would get one Swedish Fish and be able to drink Gatorade (he normally drinks water or milk at our house).

IMG_1937The race started at 7:30am, so I got D up at 6am, got him dressed and gave him breakfast. We were out of the house by 6:30am and parked by 6:45am! We walked around and took pictures. D asked a million questions about where we would stand, why we couldn’t be right under the Start banner, why were people running around when the race hadn’t started yet, and why couldn’t we just start. He cracks me up.

As the race began, D was very engrossed in his surroundings. I asked him if he wanted to run to start out, but he said no. So we went at his pace. It was very strange for me to walk during a race, but it was so nice to have the amazing company!

SJGiantsRace_R&D_4D and I chitchatted the entire time. He finally decided to run at mile 1 and it lasted about 100 feet. How many of you have tried to teach a 5 year old to run for a race? I had to keep telling him to slow down because we weren’t going to sprint the entire race. Kids just want to sprint everywhere!

At mile 1.5, we came upon the one and only water stop. If you’ve run a race, you know that you grab a cup of water, drink it, then throw your cup on the ground (hopefully in the direction of the garbage can). When D saw cups strewn all over the ground and people blatantly throwing their cups down, he was shocked. You see, since he was about 2, I’ve ingrained into his head that littering is bad and that it makes the Earth sick. He always gets upset when he sees people littering and this was just the epitome!

IMG_1942I told D that it was okay to do this during the race (and only during a race), because race helpers came around and cleaned up all the cups after we were done. This seemed to appease him and he very enthusiastically threw his cup on the ground along with everyone else. Such a cutie!

We walked past Happy Hollow (a local children’s park) and through Kelly Park (a historical family park) and then returned to the San Jose Giants Stadium. D tried running few more times, but quickly tired of it. That’s okay, he just needs to train!

The finish line for the race is actually in the San Jose Giants Stadium, which is super cool. We’ve come to a few games, so it was nice to get D out there. I told him to run ahead of me so I could snap a few shots of him. He told me afterwards that he totally beat me. Ha! Bring it on, little bud, bring it on!

IMG_1951After getting our medals (which D is in love with, he even fell asleep on the couch with it gripped in his hand), we had a volunteer snap our pic and then went to stand in line to get our picture taken with the San Francisco Giants’ World Championship trophies. I’d had my picture taken with the first one before, but it was extra cool to get to take a picture with both of them and D. Such a life highlight!

The line took about 40 minutes to get through, but that picture is so awesome! I ordered an 8×10 professional version and am having it framed to hang in D’s room. He’ll really appreciate it someday (we hope!).

In the end, this was a great race. I’d love to race it someday because it’s a flat and fast course, but spending the morning with one of my favorite little people was just incredible. I’m so proud of D for doing this. Oh, and he said that next year he’s running the whole thing. That’s my boy!

Getting Those Arms Back

Man, am I beat! Today was the fourth running day in a row and that’s one more day in a row than I normally like. It wouldn’t be horrible, but since I ran really hard during Sunday’s half marathon, it made the following three days tough. Now for a rest day!

071713_RunI followed this morning’s run with 20 minutes of strength training. I’m not sure why I have it in my head that I hate it, because I really don’t. I actually like how it challenges my body in very different ways than running and I like seeing the results.

Before Matt and I got married in 2011, I changed my diet and exercise routine to lose enough weight to fit into my wedding dress (it was a clearance dress and only came in one size, so I had to fit into it). I eliminated sugar, refined carbs, soda, and alcohol from my diet and added in lots of running and strength training. [The alcohol restriction lasted only until the ceremony was over, as evidenced by the picture below.]

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The result was that I lost the weight I needed to lose in a healthy way, and got some good definition in my arms. I wasn’t ripped by any means, but I was proud of my arms and the muscles I worked hard for. I want those back! RL_Wedding2Plus, I want to not get injured. Strengthening the muscles that don’t normally get play while I’m running should help with that.

Here’s the routine I used today. I did two circuits (no rest) and it took me about 20 minutes total. I used 5 lb, 10 lb and 12 lbs weights depending on the exercise. I’ll increase the weight as I get stronger, but didn’t want to start out too heavy since it’s been more than a year since I’ve done any strength training.

  • Lateral lunges – 10 each leg
  • Push-ups (standard) – 15 reps
  • Standing rows – 15 reps
  • Bench press – 15 reps
  • Plank – Held for 1:20
  • Lunges – 10 each leg (alternating)
  • Bicep curls – 15 reps
  • Tricep extensions – 15 reps
  • Squats – 50
  • Heel raises – 15 reps
  • Deadlifts – 15 reps

I’ve had muscle soreness from this routine, but not in a bad way. It feels good to work it out and I have to remember that the results are worth the effort. Aren’t they always?

Do you do any strength training?

My First WIAW

This is my first week participating in WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) since starting up my blog. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s where I’ll share with you everything I ate in a day. I love seeing what others eat, so this is right up my alley. Jenn hosts a page on her blog where lots of other bloggers can share their day of eats as well. Check it out!

WIAWbuttonBreakfast(s)

I ate two breakfasts yesterday (not the norm) because I had a longish run to do. First breakfast was eaten before the run. A doughy half bagel with Nuttzo nut spread. This stuff is yummy!

IMG_2283During my run, I had a Chocolate Outrage Gu. These always taste like chocolate frosting to me. I needed the caffeine boost!

IMG_2287Immediately after the run, I had some chocolate milk. This is by far my favorite way to refuel. I usually use Ovaltine powder to make my chocolate milk.

IMG_2298After showering, I had the other half of this morning’s bagel with a wedge of Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese and some strawberry jam. This always tastes so decadent to me. It’s kind of like a cheese danish, but not really.

IMG_2309Lunch

By lunchtime, I was really hungry. I’m was working from home on Tuesday, so started scrounging in the refrigerator for some grub. I found some leftover ground beef with taco seasoning and made a quick quesadilla topped with half an avocado. It was so yummy!

IMG_2311Afterwards, I ate a ton of watermelon. I’ve not had much luck with the watermelons from the grocery store, but the last few Costco ones I’ve bought have been amazing. This one is probably the best and I can’t wait to eat more of it!

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Snacks

After an hour or two, my raging sweet tooth got the best of me and I had a few s’mores, microwaved. I prefer my marshmallows over an open flame, but that’s not exactly safe inside, so nuking is the next best option.

IMG_2314Before I left to pick up C from day care, I ate a banana. Need that banana a day to keep the muscle cramps away!

IMG_2325Dinner

Dinner was super simple tonight. Because we’re usually so busy with the boys, it’s hard to make anything that’s particularly involved for dinner. I want to spend as much time with them, so I try to limit prep time to no more than 20 minutes. Tonight’s dinner fit the bill perfectly.

Back in February, Tina posted a recipe for Garlic Mustard Drumsticks and because they sounded so amazing, I gave it a shot. Both Matt and I were huge fans, so this recipe has made it into the rotation every 2 – 3 weeks. They take about 5 minutes to prep and then cook for 40 – 45 minutes.

Tonight, I kind of screwed it up because I used chicken tenders instead of drumsticks and forgot to shorten the cooking time (no bones = reduced cooking time). They still tasted good, although a bit dry. We ended up dipping them in a little light ranch dressing.

To go along with the chickend, I sauteed chopped up sweet potatoes, zucchini, and an orange bell pepper in olive oil. I seasoned it with sea salt and pepper and it was tasty.

IMG_2327After dinner, we watched a Sons of Anarchy episode on Netflix. We’re on the fourth season and love it. It’s brutal, but we just can’t turn away!

Because I had my daily sweet treat mid-afternoon, I enjoyed a bowl of cherries while watching SOA. I’m loving that they’re in season right now. So ripe and delicious.

IMG_2328So that’s what I ate today. I’m sure tomorrow will be completely different.

What was the best thing you ate today?

See Jane Run Half Marathon Recap

I’ll be posting recaps of races I’ve run in 2013 over the next week or two as my blog was up and running when I, well, ran them. So here’s one of the first.

On June 8, 2013 I ran the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda, CA.

SeeJaneRunHalf_6I had a great time at this race. It was well organized and there was a ton of energy both at the start line and at the end. This was the second woman-focused event that I’ve ever done (Mermaid Sirena 18-miler was the first) and I’ll have to say that I am a fan. There was a lot of encouragement out on the course.

The race was scheduled to start at 7:30am, so I left the house at about 5:30am (it was about an hour from my house). I ate my bagel with peanut butter and banana in the car and chugged a bottle of water. I used my Google Maps app to get me to the race, but I still ended up getting horribly lost. I’m pretty bad with directions, but when a lot of the roads lack signage it gets exponentially worse. After about 15 minutes of driving around, I saw runners walking toward a park. Hooray!

My search for a parking spot went on for about 20 minutes. The parking garage was full, so street parking had to happen. I hate street parking because I’m not a very confident parallel parker. Many of the streets in this area were narrow or required a parking permit. I finally found a spot about 1/2 mile from the start line, dumped a bunch of quarters into the parking meter and got going. I even took a picture of the cross street signs to remember where I parked. 🙂

SeeJaneRunHalf_5The pre-race festivities were going strong when I got to the park. I used the porta potties and then settled in to watch everyone else warm up with the opening calisthenics. I don’t normally do these type of exercises when I run and I didn’t want to change my routine. Or I’m just not much of a joiner. It’s probably that.

Promptly at 7:20am, the half marathoners assembled at the start line. The race pacers spread themselves out and we were encouraged to “self-corral” ourselves according to our expected finish time and where the corresponding pacer was located. The gun went off at 7:30am and we were off!

The course was well marked, there were plenty of police officers directing traffic, and the scenery was pretty. We ran through some residential areas, corporate parks and eventually made our way over a bridge to a little island that we ran around for several miles.

It quickly started to warm up, especially when we got to the island. There was no shade here and the sun was reflecting off the water. But we got great views of the Bay Bridge. That was pretty cool!

I felt great going into the race and because I knew that the course was pretty flat, I was attempting to PR. My previous half marathon PR was 1:56:04, when I ran the San Jose Half Marathon in 2011. I was shooting for about 1:54:00 here.

SeeJaneRunHalf_4I started out running about 8:45 – 8:50 minute miles in the first several miles. Then I slowly increased my pace until I was running pretty consistent 8:30s. This pace felt a tad hard, especially since I didn’t usually run that fast for longer runs, but it was sustainable. Then in the last 4 miles or so, I really tried to kick it up a notch. While it felt hard and I was exerting a lot of energy, it just felt great. I loved feeling so strong in the last part of the race. And I’m not going to lie, but passing people is a really awesome feeling, especially late in the game.

When I saw the finish line in the distance, I kicked it up even more and sprinted the rest of the way. My official finish time was 1:51:42! A PR by about 4.5 minutes, 8:32 min/mile average pace. What a runner’s high I had! I had not only beat my goal, but I crushed it!

After a race, I like to keep moving for about 10 minutes to get my legs to feel normal again. Plus, it helps with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and it’s a good way to see what the post-race festivities are all about. And there was a lot to see at this race.

SeeJaneRunHalf_2I walked over to the finish tent and got my free champagne glass with 3 pieces of See’s chocolate. Yes, I will run for chocolate! After a race I like to drink chocolate milk or water, not alcohol, so I didn’t get in line for my complimentary glass of champagne. Party pooper, huh?

IMG_2315When I picked up my bib the previous Monday, the shirts still hadn’t arrived, so I picked mine up here. I also got another free swag bag (empty), which was great for carrying my water bottle and other post-race goodies that I picked up. I saw tents for various energy bars, candy, Jamba Juice (free smoothies), jewelry, and race memorabilia. After about 10 – 15 minutes, I was done, hot, and wanted to take a shower, so home I went.

In the end, I really enjoyed this race. It’s a great flat and fast course. It probably could have had a few more aid stations, but other than that, I had no complaints. I would certainly do this race again. Plus, the medal is my mantra.

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