New town – new experiences

Two and a half years ago my husband and I packed up everything – left our family, friends, pretty much everything that was familiar to us and moved out west to San Francisco, CA.

The move was a challenge – but thanks to generous friends or as I’d like to call them: angels – who let us crash at their place for a month – we were able to find an apartment in a great location with convenient amenities – in the city of SF.

Living in one of the most beautiful and progressive cities in the country was a wonderful experience.

I found an amazing job with great people, had the opportunity to see lots of top notch live entertainment, explored new cities and locations in the Bay Area and within the state of CA, learned how to be more of a minimalist, ate lots of delicious food, and thanks to SF’s mild climate and scenic views – became a runner. If it were not for my move here – I might have not picked up what I hope to be a lifelong habit.

However – with time brings change – and many things are calling us back east: primarily opportunities and family.

We are planting our roots in Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived in Columbus, Ohio (about 90 minutes north of Cinci) for close to four years.

Ohio has a special place in my heart – it’s where I met my husband, where I made my closest friends, and where I received my college degree.

I’m not as familiar with Cinci as I am with Columbus – I have visited there many times (my husband grew up there) – however I still consider myself to be unfamiliar with the area.

Like our move to SF – I’m looking forward to finding a place to call home.

I’m also really looking forward to running in Cinci – a challenge for me will be the hot summers and cold winters (fall and spring are the sweet spots for running outdoors). I’ve been doing a lot of research on races in the Cincinnati area and throughout the tri-state area (Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky) and it seems to be that I’m arriving at the start of racing season. I already have a list of races I’d like to register for – I might have a busy summer ahead.

2016 San Francisco Kaiser Permanente 5k Recap

On February 2nd I started to have an inkling of a sore throat – which turned into almost 2 weeks of the worst chest cold I’ve had in a very long time. I usually get one to two head colds per year, but fortunately have never been so sick where I have been out of commission. This time was different. I spent many a day laying on the couch all zombie like trying to rest and rid myself of the hacking cough and nasal congestion.

While I was curled up on the couch – I kept anticipating the inevitable half marathon I was registered for – the one I was fully trained for. My 5th half marathon – taking place in my favorite location in San Francisco – Golden Gate Park on February 14th.

Three days out, and still sick, I was about to throw the towel in, when it dawned on me that I still had the option and the physical stamina to complete the 5k – which was also offered that day. I decided to rest up and make a game time decision on race day.

The morning of the race – I still hadn’t made up my mind. Mentally I was there and physically I was feeling close to normal . I had my typical pre-race morning – full of my usual breakfast and jitters/excitement. The Uber driver on the way out to the race told me to follow my mind and do the half – but I still had that nasty bronchial chest cough. There is that common rule I’ve heard about about exercising when sick: if it’s below the neck don’t do it.

The race was set up where everyone started at once – no timed corrals. The 5k cut off was less than a half mile on the course. When I started the race I still didn’t know what race I was going to do – but as I approached the cutoff my gut told me to take the shorter option.

The rest of the race felt like a blur – I did 30:30 intervals and finished with a time of 40:39 – a pace of 13:09 per mile. The best part of the race: I finished feeling healthy and strong.

After this 5k, I got a 5k medal and finishers shirt (that says “Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon & 5k” – so it’s still relevant to the race I did.)

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I’ll never know how I would feel if I decided to do the half, but I do know the rest of the day after the race I spent on the couch sleeping – I also know that the two “easy” shorter runs I did after the race were VERY hard – so I feel that my body still wasn’t half-marathon ready.

I’m just eager to do another half in the coming weeks – I trained for one – so I want to finish one! I’m flying out of state next month, and there is a half marathon near where I am staying that I’m on the cusp of registering for. What’s holding me back is the fear I’ll get sick again – and also running 13.1 miles the day after I take a red-eye flight.

Race Recap: 2016 San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15k

I ran this race over a month, so I’m not writing this recap super fresh.

The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k is a series that holds races in different cities throughout the country. Similar to the color run, but with less cities on the map.

The San Francisco event was held at Golden Gate Park.

I had heard about the race from a friend who ran it last year and a BIG draw for me to sign up was the free jacket with registration (some people do it for the medal, I do it for the shirt/jacket).

My husband (who after running the Dumbo Double Dare, told me he was capping his distances at 10ks) signed up with me for the 15k.

There was an expo held two days before the race in an convention center outside the city. Unlike RunDisney, my husband was able to pick up my bib and his without me going with him.

On race day – we got there with a little time to spare. This event was pretty big – and  they had a large setup in the music concourse of GG park. They had gear check, a merch tent, and even a few sponsor kiosks. It almost felt like another expo.

For corrals – they asked you to give a pace at registration – I listed mine as 12 per mile, my husband listed 9 per mile. Right before our registration was confirmed – I got notified I needed to submit a proof of time for my husband (not for me). I attached a screenshot of his Disneyland 10k race – and he got approved. On race day – he turned out to be in the first corral. I was in the second to last one.

There was a LOT of time between corrals. I think my husband started 20 minutes before I did. We were getting text alerts of each other’s tracking, and he told me he started to worry about me because it took a LONG time for my 5k split to be sent to him.

So now the race – after ending the Berkeley Half not feeling so well. I had no PR in mind – I just wanted to pace myself so I would not hit a wall and finish strong. I stuck mostly to 30:30 intervals. I always start races at a slow continuous jog to warm up and find my place amongst the crowd.

There was an ample amount of aid stations and the “fuel” being handed out was plain and chocolate marshmallows, M&M’s and chocolate chips (a different option at each point). I opted out of eating any of it and stuck to my own fuel. I just grabbed the water.

This was my second time running a race through GG park – and it was lovely. SF is the best city for running.

I finished with a time of 1:58:06 – a 12:41 pace. I’m happy to run 9.3 miles in less than two hours and felt really good after finishing.

The medal was SWEET get the pun? A chocolate bar shaped medal with an SF theme. It might be my fave medal to date.

The post race festivities were THE BEST I have ever experienced. Each finisher got a mini fondue cup with melted chocolate, a banana, marshmallows, cookies, rice crispie treats AND cup of piping hot chocolate to drink. After running 9.3 miles everything tasted like heaven. The music concourse was jam packed with runners resting, socializing, and eating. There was also a DJ “spinning tunes”.

In addition to the food – they kept the merch tent open – we didn’t buy anything but looked around.

I loved this race. I would definitely run it again – in SF or another city if I happen to be nearby.

2015 Berkeley Half Marathon Recap

Between the Dumbo Double Dare – and this race. I started to become a little cocky. I was so impressed at my ability to run 19.3 miles in one weekend without burning myself out – that I viewed my 3rd and last half marathon of 2015 to not be a challenge.

Boy was I wrong. The 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon humbled me, and put into perspective that if running a half marathon were easy, everyone would do it.

Like my past three halfs – I put in the time and miles. I was all trained up. My speed has definitely not improved during my training runs – in fact they might have slowed down a little – yet for some reason, I thought there was a possibility of me getting a PR.

The morning of the race, I hopped in an uber that took me across the bay to Downtown Berkeley. My corral had an 8:22 am start time, so I got there with a little over 45 minutes to spare.

I placed myself at the front of my corral and had a quick start. I hit the 5k mark around 35 minutes into the race – which was speedy for me, but soon after that – I started to experience pain in my stomach and a little bit of nausea. I slowed down a little and by the time I got to mile 4, I started to feel better.

This course was very hilly in the beginning. The inclines felt greater than the Rock’n’Roll SF half which I ran earlier this year. Living in SF – I pretty much have to train on hills, so I was prepared, but hills do wear me out sometimes.

Around mile 9 is when it hit me – or I hit it. The wall.

At mile 10 it got harder, and by mile 11 I had to switch my 30:30 intervals to 15:30 (run 15 seconds, walk 30). Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line in view I *trotted* to the finish line. I was worn out. My finish time as 2:47:10 with a pace of 12:46. Not a PR. However it was my second fastest half.

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Despite my pace not being too far off from my PR and definitely faster than my long training runs – I felt unfulfilled with my performance.

This race was small compared to the other half marathons I have ran in the past. In every other half marathon I have run – the crowds never truly thinned out. I always had people in front of me AND behind me. Even my first half – with a 3:17 finish time – there were plenty of people crossing the line with me.

While I never was truly ALONE during this race – it definitely got pretty quiet during the last two miles – and once I saw my official results on how I placed – OOOF McGOOF.

I don’t know if I will ever run a sub 2 half. I am not an athletic person by nature –  however I know I made mistakes during training and during the race – if a PR was something I wanted. I think can muster up a 2:35 finish time.

I need to push myself during my weekday short runs.  I had become a little lazy toward the later half of the year – and pretty much went through the motions with all of my runs.

I also could have paced myself better throughout the entire race. Gone slower in the beginning – so I could finish strong. I did not finish strong at this race.

It also made me question my marathon goal. When I finished the race I thought to myself “how in the heck can I double this and finish without being swept or diverted away from the finish?”

I also thought to myself – do I even want to do another long race in the near future?

For the past year and a half – I have been training for half marathons. I had written about the glory of taking some time off of the longer runs in the past – and I think that might be something I plan to do through the rest of the year.

I plan to keep my long runs in the single digits (probably maxing out at 8 miles) until the start of the new year. At that time I will think about my 2016 goals. Do they include a marathon? A half pr? A 10k PR? I need a little time to reflect and think about it.

2015 San Francisco Color Run Recap

Ahh…the Color Run. I had aspired to participate in one for a while now, years before I took up running seriously.

The Color Run is a touring un-timed 5k. It’s fun, low maintenance, and a great opportunity to take and post gleeful photos on social media.

My husband and a few friends registered a few months ago. The San Francisco version of The Color Run started and ended at AT&T park.

Unlike other races I have participated in – there was not one start time – but a series of corral releases taking place from 8:00am to 9:45 am. It seemed like a group of runners were released every 10-15 minutes. We lined up shortly after we arrived. At the starting line there was a DJ throwing out prizes, some stilt walking dancers and a dancing unicorn.

Once we were released we ran through the bases of AT&T park and exited the stadium to run along the Embarcadero.

There were color stations throughout the course where they doused you with colored corn starch.

After running along the Embarcadero we returned to AT&T park and the course went inside the stadium and up to one of the concourses. It was a pretty unique aspect of the course.

With the beautiful sights of SF and the dousing of color – there were plenty of photo opportunities. We definitely made a few photo stops throughout the way.

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We were handed medals and some color powder to throw on ourselves or other people, I guess.

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I definitely would do the Color Run again. I feel it’s a great first race for someone new to running – it shows that running and being active is sometimes not about setting records or “killing” yourself. Definitely bring friends and family to participate – even if you don’t run – you will be in great company with many people walking.  It’s about savoring the moment and being grateful to be able to make memories with the ones that you love.

2015 Big Gay 10K Recap

I had heard about this race last year, but I think it fell on a weekend I already had something to do.

Anyways….after the Dumbo Double Dare – I went on the website and checked the date and lo and behold: no conflict.

I registered and marked my calendar. I picked up my bib two days before the race – after reading the race instructions – I realized that the finish line would close 90 minutes after the race start.

I was a little nervous about this. My average 10k pace for the most part, has always ended in a time less than 90 minutes – usually ranging from 80-85 minutes. However, one never knows how they feel on a race day, and I could very well have over a 15 minute per mile pace.

Knowing this information – I resolved to try my very best and push myself for this 10k. A great thing about attending a smaller race, is that everyone starts at the same time (unlike other races where the corrals are released in waves) – so I had the full 90 minutes to run the race.

This race was at Golden Gate Park. It was a race themed to the gay community here in SF – produced by the SF Aids Foundation. An absolutely wonderful cause. The spirit of the race was fun – many people wore tutus, tiaras, costumes. I did not dress festive enough, although I was pretty pumped about my new multicolored print hat.

I ran the first mile and a half – and started incorporating 30:30 Galloway intervals after that. It got pretty hot out there – but the race had a lot of great support – encouraging spectators and 4-5 water stops along the course.

I finished in 1:13:22 – with a pace of 11:50 per mile. A PR for my 10k, and my fastest race pace yet.

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After the race I grabbed some water, took a post race photo, and grabbed an uber home.

That’s what I love about local races – the normalcy of the remainder of the race day. You get up early, rock a race, come home and get back to normal. No traveling, no touring. There’s some beauty in that.

2015 Dumbo Double Dare Recap – A weekend full of 19.3 miles and more – Part 3

After the half, my husband and I took a nap and headed to the parks later that afternoon.

We decided to start a tradition when it comes to our post-Disneyland race meal. Last year we ate at Cafe Orleans and indulged in a Three Cheese Monte Cristo Sandwich with a side of Pommes Frites. We repeated the occasion. It was Pure. Fried. Heaven.

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We spent the rest of the day and night exploring both parks. A priority for our parks visit was to experience both World of Color at California Adventure and the new Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.

Our first event was World of Color and it was pretty moving for me, but I do have one complaint. As soon as the show started 95% of the park guests took out their smart phones and held them up to video tape. Obstructing nearly everyone’s view. Your shoddy videotape of the show, which you will probably never watch, should not take priority over the people who prefer to experience the show in real time with their own eyes.

After World of Color, we headed over to Disneyland and got a prime viewing location for the parade. I can not begin to put into words how beautiful the Paint the Night parade is. For me, it was almost worth the price of admission.

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Once both parks closed, we walked over to the Disneyland hotel to go to Trader Sams. I had heard so much about this bar from various Disney-philes on social media. However, our idea to go to the bar was not an original one as the bar had reached capacity and it was approximately a 30-45 minute wait to get inside. At that point it was past midnight and we were pretty tired, so we decided to head back to the hotel.

In conclusion – It was an amazing trip – filled with quality time together and with our friend, a few fun surprises, and a great race experience.

A few weeks after the race, I was on vacation in Florida and I visited Fit2Run and finally got a gait analysis and got measured for insoles. I bought my first pair of personally selected running shoes. My previous entry level Asics Gel Contends (three different pairs) carried me through my races for the past two years, but I have more goals on the horizon, and I need to be better equipped.

I’m a proud owner of Hoka One One Cliftons.

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The Dumbo Double Dare really was a kick in the butt to help me think about my next running ventures.

The Monday after the race, I registered for a 10k taking place in a little over a week – and I registered for my third and final half of 2015.

Running 19.3 miles in two days gave me the crazy idea that I could run 26.2 in one day – and it is on that idea where I am harvesting my 2016 goal of doing the 26.2 – the MARATHON. I am eyeing an early May race, which gives me seven months to train.

The Dumbo Double Dare was my first multi-race challenge – and it definitely was a challenge. Now that I conquered it – I am ready for the new challenges that lay ahead.

2015 Dumbo Double Dare Recap – A weekend full of 19.3 miles and more – Part 2

Be sure to catch Part 1 of this epic saga

I awoke at 3:30 am the morning of the half and I was ECSTATIC that I slept for six hours.

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My husband was placed in Corral C, and I was in D, but he decided to start with me (what a guy!). We arrived to our corral at 5:20 am, but it was already filled to the brim. I know some people have blamed it on corral jumpers (people who were placed in farther back corrals, who broke the rules and snuck into others) however I think a lot of people in Corral C had partners and friends who were in D, and decided to move back. (In RunDisney, you are allowed to move back to later corrals, but are not allowed to move forward).

So we started in E. No biggie. My husband pretty much split from me in the beginning, and I weaved in and out of slower runners and walkers the first three miles. Like I said, my plan for this race was to run continuously the beginning, and start my 30:30 intervals at mile 4, once we were out of the parks.

My previous and only RunDisney half prior to this one was Avengers. A few people had expressed disappointment with that course, but I didn’t understand what they were talking about until I ran this race. Even when we were out of the park, there was entertainment pretty much at every mile, sometimes twice per mile. Local high school drum lines and cheerleaders. Dance troupes. A mile and a half of classic cars. This race also ran through Angels stadium, like the Avengers, but this time – the stadium had people cheering!

My pace kept increasing as the miles went on. I know I mentioned my goal was to simply finish with a smile on my face – but I added a new one: finish in under three hours.

My time was 2:55:19, with a pace of 13:23 per mile. Goal achieved!

I got my half marathon medal and the Dumbo Double Dare medal. We did it! 19.3 miles!

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Oh yes..there will be a part 3!

Summer Check In

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote here – so here’s what’s going on:

My next race(s) on the books is  the Dumbo Double Dare taking place at the end of September (10k and Half over a weekend). The races are in Disneyland and I am running it with my husband. We are making it a race-cation. Training for the half and 10k are on track – my goal for the Double Dare is to finish with a grin on my face!

I’m looking forward to the Disneyland 60th nighttime events – specifically the Paint the Night Parade and World of Color. I have a feeling there might be a few emotional tears streaming down my face.

I’m still on the fence about doing another local race.

I signed myself and my mom up for the Princess 5k taking place this February in Walt Disney World. This is my mom’s first RunDisney event and I am so excited for her. We’ve already booked a hotel on property – the weekend is going to be a blast.

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I am so jealous of everyone who participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Star Wars Half Marathon weekends during the past two weeks. I was hesitant to sign up for another race until after I finished my first half marathon, but now I am kicking myself for not having the foresight to realize that I would become obsessed with RunDisney and want to run all the races.

Le sigh.

For this year: I am trying to coax my husband and our friends to run the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland in September. Let’s see if I can work my magic.

If we don’t do that, then I will definitely do the Rebel Challenge in 2016. Heck, I might even do both.

I think 2016 will be the year of Coast to Coast. I’m not planning on any Florida races for 2015, although…never say never.

What RunDisney races (if any) do you see in your future?