2018 Rock n Roll San Diego 13.1

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Rock n Roll San Diego as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Last year I loved this race and I jumped at the chance to go back.   The course is great, the crowd support was awesome- sign me up!  However, I also knew that I was would be one month out of Big Sur, so realistically I had no idea how that would affect me.  So I was going in with the only goals of having fun, enjoying the race and crossing that finish line.

I joked in my previous post that with 8 aid stations this would be the race to try running without carrying water however I knew I was too paranoid to actually do that.  Except I forgot my flasks.  I didn’t figure it out until after the expo so it was too late to buy anything.  I thought about carry a plastic bottle but that just didn’t sound appealing to me.   Guess I was relying on aid stations after all.

Race morning dawned all too early after a poor night of sleep.  I was ready fairly quickly which was surprising as I was having major indecision about what to wear on my bottom half, I settled on my Skirt Sports skirt, made a quick compression sock change and was out the door to meet Kate.  I love my hotel because the race morning shuttles pick up 1/2 block down and the finish line is 3 blocks away.  Met up with Kate, we boarded a bus and in less than 10 minutes we were at the starting area.  We wandered for a bit before getting in a porta potty line.  We missed the National Anthem- too noisy- and separated to our corrals after that.   I appreciated the new larger corral markers- it made it easier to find mine (17 of 33) but we were still packed in like sardines.  I also started to question what the hell I had put down as a finishing time.  The 2:15 pace group was in the corral behind me.  Say what?!  But we steadily made our way up and then we were off!

Miles 1-3 10:17, 10:44, 11:43

I love that there is a man shouting encouragement though a bull horn as we run past .25 mile in.    It can pretty crowded in the first few miles but my goal was to just keep my effort steady.  I had told my mother that I wasn’t really concerned about my finishing time but in the back of my head, I figured 2:25 ish wouldn’t be too off the mark.   However during mile 3 things started to get rough and I realized there was one thing I forgot to take into account- humidity.

Miles 4-7 11:21, 11:03, 11:36, 12:01

I was still running just a lot slower.  It was so damn humid.  It was mile 4 and the people running near me looking like their shirts could be wrung out.  The men running shirtless looked like they just got out of the shower.   I happened to pull out my phone to text my mother that is humid- actually I used much more colorful language- and she reminded me to use my inhaler as humidity is one of my asthma triggers.  But when I pulled my phone I saw that it showed 80% humidity.  What the what? I am used to like 15%.  The sun was pounding down on us and I could tell we were all struggling.  I texted Kate and told her to be careful.   I did all this while running, haha.  I was still enjoying the race, I love running through North Park and Normal Heights.   Mile 5 also brings us the Wear Blue- Run to Remember section and I like to try and pay more attention in that area.

My strategy was to run everything but walk the entire aid station- getting water and Gatorade at each one as it was offered.  Clearly this was not the race to not carry my own water.

Miles 8-10 11:57, 11:49, 12:41

Oh my gawd, I was hot.  Temp wise, it wasn’t even hot but the humidity was kicking my butt.  I was now taking more time at the aid stations.  One cup of Gatorade and one cup water.  If the station only offered water, I would get one cup of water at the very beginning, drink it while walking the station slowly, then get another to drink at the end.  I took off my hat and dumped water in it before putting it back on. The stations were also struggling to keep up with demand from the runners- in fact I would be surprised if the one at mile 9 lasted the entire race.

I took my first non- aid station walk break around mile 9.5.  I just had to.  I was starting to feel nauseous.   Kind of like I had consumed too much water.  Which I coudn’t see how as I wasn’t carrying any and they don’t fill those cups up too full.  But I skipped an aid station just before mile 10.

Miles 10-13 111:56, 11:30, 12:22

From then on it was a run- walk to the end.  Which is a bummer because I really like the last 3 miles.  We come back into Balboa Park, run under the big guitar guy, up a hill past some Taiko drummers, by a golf course, then there’s a sweet downhill that brings you back into the city.     I may have been feeling rough but I was still trying to enjoy as much of my surroundings as I could.   Then it was through downtown with a slight down hill to the finish-

Finish- 2:33:38

I honestly hadn’t been looking at my watch at all so I had no idea where I was at time wise until after crossing the finish line.  That time is fine by me.  So fine, I’ve already gone and input my results into Athlinks.  😊

I stood around for a couple moments needing a moment if that makes sense before getting my medal and heading out of the chute.  One of the volunteers became my new favorite person as she was handing out bags of ice.   I stuck it on my head as I walked to the meeting point to find my mom.   I still felt way too hot so I jammed back to the hotel for a cold shower before flying back to the finish line to see Kate.    Success.

The weather may not have been my friend but I still love this race and it was only made better with friends out there too. And Kate got a PR!!!!!

What’s your weather nemesis?

Big Sur Marathon Recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Big Sur International Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Race morning began dark and early.  Seriously, setting my alarm for 2:45 the night before had made me want to cry.  But, truthfully, I had slept so poorly, that I was awake before my alarm went off.   I got up and got ready, popped a Dramamine and we were out the door by 3:40.  Thanks to my hotel snafu, my mother had to get up early too and drive me to the bus pick up.   Thanks mom!

My bus ticket was pretty specific about the buses leaving by 4:15 but I was in line for almost 30 minutes and didn’t even board a bus until after 4:30.   While I was waiting in line, a guy in front of me mowed down a bagel and then a cookie.  I realize I am odd in that I don’t eat before races but I still questioned his choices knowing the road we were about to drive on.  Once on the bus, I somehow was (un)lucky enough to snag a sit with a wheel well so my knees were in my chest the whole ride.  Then I closed my eyes and tried to doze off in an effort to fight off any potential car sickness.  I know how windy Highway 1 is, combine that with a school bus and I wasn’t taking any chances.   Unlike the man who was chowing down in line who almost lost his cookies 30 minutes into the drive.   Once we arrived, we had to walk a ways up the highway to get to the starting area.  By the time I tossed my gear bag to the volunteers (literally), used the porta-potties and seeded myself in the corrals, my Garmin showed that I had walked 1.5 miles.

Being so unsure how this race would go and so nervous about the cut off, I admit I did something I never have before.  I seeded myself in Wave 2- which was for runners hoping to finish under 4:45.  I mentally needed those extra 5 minutes! I did put myself all the way to the back though because I felt guilty.   Then listening to a few runners talk about about their average times (4:00’s) and how they were just hoping to finish after driving the course and seeing all the hills the day before didn’t help calm the nerves.  But after the National Anthem- it was go time.  I was running my second marathon.  Little did I know the next hours would see both a PR attempt and my first almost DNF.

Miles 1-10- 10:19, 10:41, 10:17, 10:56, 11:23, 11:35, 12:00, 12:14, 12:27, 10:38

I was not watching my watch so I had no idea what my pace was.  I focused on keeping it comfortable.  I was enjoying the woodsy feel of running through Big Sur with all the trees along the Highway.  I was very surprised by how many people were using the port-a-potties 100 yards from the start line.   There were also a ton of guys peeling off into the woods to relieve themselves.  No fair.  As you can see by my splits, I wasn’t feeling a lot of the hills.  They were there but I didn’t walk until mile 6 and that was only because I told myself to not be stupid and tire myself out as I still had 20 miles to go.

We could now see the ocean to our left which was awesome.  I was taking water at each aid station as well as drinking from the 2 bottles I had in my pack.  I also had to pee. Crap.  But the lines were so long at all aid stations! Not only that, there were music spots set along the highway and each performer had their own port a potty too and runners were lined up at those! I didn’t want to stop yet so I just kept going.   I knew the BIG hill was coming and that could make or break the race.   We were climbing a hill in mile 8 and I heard a woman ask if this was the worst one- I was wondering if she had looked at the course map- but a man responded- yeah no.

Miles 11-12 15:04, 14:12 The Climb

You could see it coming for over a mile. Runners were sprinkled like confetti as they wound around and up.  I was torn between trying to run it and conserving energy.  As my mile splits show, I walked 98% of these miles. I had checked my overall average pace before starting the hill and it was at 11:20, these miles dropped it to 11:3something.  My Garmin says we gained 600 feet, but my Garmin is also a little screwy as it says the overall elevation gain for the race was 3000.  Strava does agree with these 2 miles though.   I just put my head down and power walked my way to the top.  The drummers almost at the top made me smile.  It also rained these miles with crazy winds- why had I tossed my gloves back at mile 5??

Miles 13-16 10:10, 11:05, 13:32, 12:59

What goes up must come down but it was a shorter downhill than I would have liked and led us right into another hill.  Smile, Fallon, you like hills.  13 also brought us to Bixby Bridge.  The day was overcast but the bridge was still pretty and I made myself slow down and take pictures- partially to prove I didn’t freak out.  😛  A camera crew and piano player were stationed on the other side of the bridge.

15 was where the pain started.  My back was hurting pretty badly but I was hoping a run/ walk strategy would loosen it up.   At 16, I checked my time and thought if I could hold onto 12:00-12:15 miles, I had a solid PR in my grasp, my back just needed to cooperate. In retrospect, that was naive and I probably jinxed myself.

Miles 17-21 13:50, 13:41, 13:39, 14:19, 14:11

I damn near quit.  The course was gorgeous, I wasn’t tired but my back hurt.  The more my back hurt, the more I walked.  The more I walked, the more my hips tightened up and my knees started to hurt.  WTH?!  I stopped twice and tried to stretch out my back.  Each time a SAG wagon drove by, I considered flagging them down.   But I kept going.  Cell service was horrible out there but occasionally texts from my mom and Kate were getting though and those were so needed.  I had also turned my music on in an effort to block out my doubts and thoughts.

Miles 22-26 14:50, 13:11, 14:47, 14:37, 14:15

They say if you don’t reach mile 21.2 by 11:50, you are not allowed to continue and are swept from the course.  To back this up, there were 3 school buses parked at mile 21.2.  I hit 21.2 at 11:15.    I’d made it this far, I was damn well going to finish.   My back was still hurting, my hips were squawking and now my feet hurt.  Around 24, I briefly considered tossing my shoes and finishing in my socks.  Couldn’t hurt any worse, right?   The course was still full of hills but in a way I think I that helped me.  I think a flat last 10 miles would have broken me, the constant up and down was at least letting me use different muscles.   However every single picture of me is from the last half of the course when I’m struggling and walking.  Thanks guys.   There was a photographer who had a sign warning that they were ahead so runners could smile- or in my case, run- so I picked it up to hobble run past him only to round a small corner and see the finish line.  RUN!

Finish- 5:36:52

Give me my medal and someone take these shoes!  Just kidding, I didn’t say that.   I thanked the volunteer for the medal-which is awesome- and smiled (grimaced?) for pictures before getting all the food treats and meeting up with my mom.

Some say that you should expect to add a minute per mile to your marathon time at Big Sur, I was only about 30 seconds each mile.   It wasn’t the race I had hoped for but it also wasn’t the race I had feared either.  I also proved to myself that first one wasn’t a fluke.   I can do hard things, just need to stop breaking myself along the way.

Maybe I’ll you see you again one day, Big Sur.

Tent City Half Marathon Recap

This may be the latest I’ve ever finished a race recap.

I’ve been talking about half marathon #30 since October but never made it work, finally I stopped talking and just signed up for a race the same day my training plan called for 19 miles.  I figured 13 supported miles with other runners followed by 6 solo miles was better than 19 lonely miles.

Tent City is in it’s first year and that generally makes me leery of races.  It offered a full, half, 10k, 5k and None run.  Packet pick up was a sure sign that it was a first time, small town race- a folding table next to an open van with the shirts and numbers.  Did I mention it was in front of a creepy abandoned building?😜

Ok, maybe not so abandoned.  The race was a fundraiser for the Printery Foundation which is working to restore the Printery building which is over 100 years old.  But until then I think it looks kind of haunted.   Call the Winchester brothers.  Did I mention this was also the start line?   In the dark.

The race started at the crack of dawn in the cold and dark.   Seriously, the sun hadn’t risen and it was 34*.   Dude, what??? I had my fleece vest from the week before and debated wearing it, I mean 13 miles…I’d warm up right???  I stayed in the car until the last possible moment before heading to the start line to find a port-a-pottie.  Luckily I had thought ahead and brought a Knuckle Light with me as the bathrooms were completely dark.   I was so cold.  Luckily, the announcer said a few words, the National Anthem was sung and we were off.

Miles 1-3 10:16, 10:46, 12:04  I wasn’t planning on racing this- it was more a training run so I was going to happy with anything around 2:24-2:30 overall.  The first mile looped us around numerous downtown city blocks before heading out onto the highway out of town.   I was kind of surprised when I figured out what highway we were on, we were running on the closed shoulder while the lanes were open.  We crossed a bridge and I was wondering where the first mile marker was.  Checked my watch and saw that we were past a mile so I figured I missed it.     But I never saw mile 2 or mile 3… ok, so there are no mile markers. Ummm?   I was feeling an odd tingling in my backside during mile 3- it was more that I felt like the zipper to the pocket on my pants was super cold- almost too cold but I ignored it and it went away.  Probably shouldn’t have.

Miles 4-7 11:37, 10:43, 12:22, 11:52  I was slowing for no apparent reason but the reality is that I actually had no idea.  I was trying not to pay attention to my watch as this was a training run.  I had to look at it occasionally as the lack of mile markers was actually frustrating.  I wanted some idea of where I was.  Plus the course was an out and back so I knew the turn around had to come at some point but it seemed too far out.  I was enjoying the scenery of the back road we were now on but once again, it wasn’t the best road for runners.  We now had an entire lane to ourselves but drivers tend to treat this road like a speedway and they weren’t slowing even with the cones.   They were down to one lane and buzzing around us upwards of 40mph.

Miles 8-11 11:56, 12:07, 12:20, 12:27 The turn around!  Yay!  And I had finally realized that I was moving slower than I thought I was.  What was going on?  Wait, I can’t feel my butt!  Or my quads and thighs really.  What the hell?  How long had I been numb?  Seriously? Like I smacked myself in the butt and couldn’t feel it.   So I tried it again, same thing.  I couldn’t really feel the effort my legs were putting in or lack thereof.  🤣  It wasn’t that cold- wth?  My fleece vest had kind of frosted over though, haha.  There was a person out there in a tank!  Apparently I have zero tolerance for the cold these days.

Miles 12-13 11:58, 11:37  Back to the highway and my backside was finally starting to warm up.  But only in patches, haha and those sections were just itching.  Oh for crying out loud.  As we came back into town, I could see the finish line at the park (different than the start) but instead of going straight to it we had to go around the block the long way.

Finish-2:33:51

Yes, that’s fidget spinner for a medal

Not horribly off my long run pace goal and I learned that I really need to practice running in cold weather.  Nah.  After getting my medal, it was time to join the party in the park.  There was yoga, food tents, beer tents, cupcake tents, local businesses and one of those tables with computers that prints your results.  I’ve never had one of those!  It was barely 9AM, there was no way I was drinking a beer but I wasn’t passing up a free cupcake.  😀

For a first time race, they did a decent job, they have room for improvement but it’s a race I would run again.  Just move the dang start time back.   And maybe put up a few more road blocks.

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 12

Last week was better… of sorts.

Mother nature decided to rain fury down upon us last week and try to make up for months of doubt.  And yes I meant to spell it like that.

The storm started Tuesday and stayed until Friday morning.   There were mudslides, rocks down, trees down, flooding, too many car accidents and just chaos.  The damn river (of the river path) rose so fast overnight Wednesday that there ended up being 10 swift water rescues on Thursday. 10!  I went to work and I went home, that was it.

I am sure I did other things last week but the rain is the only thing that sticks in my mind besides the running, ha!  So let’s just get to it.

Monday- 3.1 miles I tried to get in a few miles before the storm.   I don’t recall much about the miles but I pulled some decent paces for miles 2 and 3 looking back so it had to be a decent run, right?😜

Tuesday- Thursday- Nada– See opening above.  Unless white knuckled driving counts.

Friday- Rest The sun came out so I took my gear to work to run after we closed.  At least that was the plan.   I got something in my eye and could not get it out.   I tried eye drops, taking out my contacts, nothing worked.   I finally gave up and just went straight home.

Saturday- 3.1 miles 5K shakeout, I had lots of miles planned for Sunday and I wanted to get the legs moving after so many days off.  This run actually felt pretty dang good.  In fact at one point, I felt like I was powering up a hill impressively.  Of course I couldn’t see myself, so I have no idea if that was true or not.  🤣

Sunday- Tent City Half Marathon/ 5 miles = 18 miles total  Surprise! Half marathon #30 went down on Sunday.  At the butt crack of dawn… nope pre-dawn.  In the freakin’ cold.  Race recap to come.  😀

The plan called for 19 miles so after some food and a nap I headed out in the afternoon to complete another 6 miles.  Oh my misery.  I don’t think I am built for 2 a days anymore.  I liked them during my last marathon cycle- this time not so much.  I never found a rhythm or settled into a decent pace.  I dragged ass for 5 miles and knew adding another mile would likely do more harm than good so I just headed for home knowing I would fall short.  But 18 is nothing to frown at right??

24.4 miles for the week.   Better than the last two weeks!!!

How was your week?

Wine Country Run 5K Recap

Having mostly decided the night before that I was actually going to do the smart thing and drop to the 5K, the temps that I saw upon waking on race morning almost made me DNS.   32 with heavy fog?? Say what?  What was that all about??  On a good day, that would be rough, the morning after so many days of feeling horrible?  I just wanted to burrow under the covers and hide until summer.

But I didn’t.  I got up and dressed and headed to the race.  I had to get to the race early enough back to bib check in and down grade from the half marathon to the 5k.   Never having done that before I didn’t know how it would go- it took maybe 5 minutes. And only that long because the computer network crashed.  I then went and hid in my car until the start.

I haven’t “raced” a 5K in so long I can’t even remember and I still didn’t feel good so I wasn’t holding out hope that this was going to work out so well. 😛

Mile 1-9:30 Oops, can’t hold that, least not today.  Truth is, I was so damn cold, I felt like I was crawling.  The first mile took us on a dirt road back through the vineyard before dumping us out on the street.   I wish we could have stayed on the dirt but we were still running past vineyards and at least the roads were mostly closed.

Mile 2- 10:25  My calves/ achilles were tightening up which I kind of expected as it was cold, I was wearing my Altra’s and the miles had been pancake flat.  I don’t like flat.  We had turned onto a street and were running past a few houses and mini ranch’s.   I use that term based more on the horses and goats and chickens than the land size.  We ran past the one water station before hitting the turn around and making our way back.

Disclosure- this was taken the day before at packet pickup hence the sun

Mile 3- 10:26 Oh, the tightness.  My legs felt so tight.  I was surprisingly feeling ok though in both my stomach and the fact it’s been a while since I’ve run without walk breaks.  Like I said in a recent post- they’ve become a crutch and that is not what I meant to happen.  However I had a choice to make about my calves.  My pace had slowed and was showing 11:20 something.   I could run on with the tightness or I could stop and stretch it out.  I stopped and stretched for 10-15 seconds.  It wasn’t enough but it helped.   I pushed on back towards the winery.  Once I knew I was within 1/4 mile, I pushed play on my Aftershokz with a perfectly cued up song for that finish line push.

Finish- 31:12

Well, hey now, that’s actually way better than I was expecting!  And I ran the whole thing!  Small victories.  😀  I was nowhere near PR pace and I am fine with that.   The fact that I had a finish line push after 4 days of hell is more than enough for me.  Though I should probably give some of that credit to Shinedown‘s latest- Devil.  It was just the kick in the pants I needed.  It also turns out that stopping to stretch was also the right choice.

5K’s are kind of fun… why did I seem to forget about them???