Category Archives: race weekend

Outer Banks Marathon: Race Recap

On Sunday, I officially finished my second marathon at the Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina!

Race morning was great. We got dropped off at the start about 50 minutes early. With less than 1200 marathon finishers, the start area was small, and easy. We got in the bathroom line right away, and only waited a few minutes afterward before getting into the corrals. It just seemed like a nice hometown race.

I was nervous I was going to be cold for the first few miles, but I actually warmed up pretty quickly. The first few miles of the race were on a heavily tree lined street. Many of the local families were out cheering us on. I loved it. You know how sometimes people talk about getting emotional at the end of the race? Yeah — I got emotional at mile 3 when there was perfect temperatures, sun streaming through the trees, and a guy had some great music playing on the side of the road. It was amazing.

I felt awesome for the first 9 miles. Running felt easy. I was flying. I decided not stress about looking at my watch, and just go by feel. I made a quick pit stop around mile 6. We went through a split timer at the 10k mark. Based on my watch, my pace for the first 10k was about an 8:50/mi average. Looking back, this is a little faster than I probably should have started….but like I said, I was feeling so good! I loved this first part of the race. there were so many people out cheering…especially around the Wright Brothers Memorial.

{running around the memorial}

Around mile 10, we headed onto the trails (like I mentioned in my pre-race post). The first 2 miles of this were on hard packed dirt with rocks. I was nervous about rolling my ankle. The terrain was also rolling hills. My pace slowed, but I kind of expected that to happen during this portion. I tried to keep up my pace as much as possible though.

At about mile 12, we transitioned to single track trail. The ground was softer in this area, with some of it being a bit sandy. I had never really run much trail before. I loved how quiet it made everyone’s footsteps. Even though it was difficult, I still kind of loved it. I think I might have to try doing more trail running! (Side note, I read a few recaps before the race that said there was a non-official aid station here that handed out amazing banana bread. I had to get some. It was true. So delicious!)

Finally, right at the half way mark, we were out of the trail. As soon as I was back on the road, I realized how much trying to keep up my pace in the woods had tired me out. I crossed the half way point at 1:58. I was able to pick my pace back up to right around a 9 min/mile for a few more miles, but then things started to break down.

Around mile 16, my stomach was starting to feel off. I was feeling hungry, but the bloks I was eating were not sitting well, making me feel nauseated. At mile 18, I felt a little dizzy, and knew I needed some more calories. I forced myself to eat some more, and that helped. I think the other thing that started to affect me during this time was the heat. The day was actually a great temperature, but the second half the course provided no shade at all. On a day with full sun and 18 miles into the race, I was getting pretty hot!

I started taking some walk breaks at mile 18, but I was able to keep my pace up to 10 min/mile for a couple miles. I tried to keep the walking to a minimum. I started taking extra water at the aid stations to dump over my head.

At mile 21, the course turned into a 20 mph headwind. At this point most of my remaining energy really started to get sapped. I again stopped looking at my watch, knowing my initial goals were out of reach. My new goals were 1) enjoy the rest of the race as much as I could, and 2) to finish ahead of my time from my previous marathon. There was a bridge to go up for about half a mile from 22.5-23. I just kept plugging along with a mostly run, some walk ratio. I honestly don’t remember too much about this part of the race…I just tried to keep putting up as much effort as I could and keep my heart in it.

{love the run…even when its difficult. Great idea, Coeur!}

Just before mile 25 I took my last walk break. When I started walking, another runner came up behind me and convinced me to start running with her. We only chatted for a few minutes before she needed to take another break, but she helped get me motivated to keep going to the finish line. I was able to keep running until finally crossing the line with an official time of 4:14:46.

As you can see, this race didn’t quite go as planned for me, particularly in the second half — not sure if it was that I didn’t eat enough, that I started too fast, or just that it wasn’t my day. However, I’m still so proud of my accomplishment of finishing those 26.2 miles. Plus, I had a huge improvement over my first marathon with a 17 minute PR! Just like I said when I finished my first marathon, I am so proud and excited to have finished a marathon — something I definitely never thought I would be capable of doing. Any day that I can finish a marathon is amazing.


The Final Countdown

Now that I have that song stuck in your head….enjoy the rest of my post!

I know my posting has been light the last few weeks. I am nearing the end of my PhD, and most of my time and energy has been focused on working. In the meant time, I have been tapering for the Outer Banks Marathon, which is now only 3 days away!!

If you read the November issue of Runner’s World, you have probably seen a little taste of this marathon in this article. It made me so excited to see this race featured!

The course is a mostly flat point to point race. Just before the halfway point, there are a few miles on a packed dirt trail, but otherwise the remainder is on the roads. On my training runs, I tried to run a few miles on the packed dirt off to the side of the path I run on as some practice. The only major incline is a large bridge at mile 22-23. It is 82 feet tall, and a 4% incline over 650 feet– yikes! But at least it shouldn’t last too long, and the final few miles will be downhill and flat into the finish.

{photo from obx marathon website}

Right now I’m feeling both nervous and excited. I always get a little nervous before a race, especially after putting so much time and energy into training. Like I mentioned in my last post, even though my training didn’t quite go exactly as I planned, I’m just going to go out there and give it my all (by the way, thanks for all your positive energy!). I am so much stronger than I was before last year’s marathon, and I think that should translate to a better race. Horray for progress!

I have never been to the OBX, so I am pretty excited to hang out at the beach — I think we will be trying to catch some blue crabs one day. So excited!

I don’t think I’ll get another chance to post before race day, so see you on the flip side!!

You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more updates!

First Tri of 2013

On Saturday I will be completing my second triathlon — the 1st in 2013! I did his same tri last year as my first ever. I loved it! Somehow my whole summer filled up before I could get in any others last year though — Bummer!! This summer I am hoping to at least get in two. Maybe the next one will be an olympic distance. 🙂 baby steps.

{Heading out for my run of last year’s tri}

This weekend’s race is a sprint distance including a 0.5 mi swim, 16 mi bike, and 3 mi run. Last year this race took me 1:42:16 to finish. Since that time, I think I have improved on both the bike and the run (I’m running faster and also did great on my Tour de Cure ride). Swimming on the other hand has taken a back seat lately — though I did get in the pool today for a short “shakeout” swim. I’m still thinking I can do better than last year.

The temperature on Saturday is supposed to get up to 100 degrees! Wish me luck that I don’t melt into a puddle before I finish the race.

Have you ever done a triathlon before? Did you like it? Loved completing this triathlon last year, and I’m so excited (but also nervous!) for this weekend!

Oakland Half Marathon Race Recap

Since last week’s race was supposed to be my goal half marathon this spring, I planned to go to the Oakland Half Marathon with a laid-back attitude. I won an entry into this race from PavementRunner‘s giveaway a couple months ago. I was really looking forward to racing in a new location. When I signed up, Ryan decided to race this one as well! As an added bonus, we have friends who live one mile from the race start, so we had a great place to stay, an easy race morning commute, and fans to cheer us on!

The half marathon started at 9:15am — a later start, but it allowed for closer finish times with the marathon (which started at 7:30am). Since the marathon and 5k were already started, the race start area was pretty quiet. The only minor issue we had before the race start was in the bag check — the signs weren’t quite right, so it was a little hard to tell which line to get in. But it worked out ok.

The race started right on time. At the gun, they blew a a huge burst of confetti to run through — it was so fun! The course had a TON of turns, especially in the first 3 miles. This made it hard to run the tangents well since there were so many runners at this point too!

Once I got going, I realized my legs were feeling pretty good, and not too sluggish from the Shamrockin’ Half, so I decided to run a similar pace and see how it went. This race was amazing because there were SO MANY people out cheering at every point along this course!! I think it ranks as one of the most spectated races I have been a part of! I think I had a huge smile on my face for almost all of this race. Check out some of my race photos.

By the last 3 miles, I was definitely getting tired… but the last 3 miles of a half I always feel so close to the finish that it somehow pulls me along. Our friends were out cheering at mile 10, so it was fun to see them! Then, there was a DJ playing some great music with about 0.75 miles left to go that really fired me up to push hard to the finish. The last 0.2 miles are up a small hill (that after running so long makes it feel difficult!), but you could see the finish line right there at the top!

Based on my Garmin, I ran 13.35 miles, with an average pace of 8:20/mi! My official time was 1:50:52 — 11 seconds faster than last week! Ryan also had a great race, and had a big PR — his official finish time was 1:37:17!

Needless to say, we were excited to celebrate with a post-race beer! This race gave two drinks after the race, but we shared with our friends so they could celebrate with us.

Overall, I thought this was a very well run race. The bands and music along the course were great. The crowd support was amazing. Definitely one to consider doing again in the future. Thanks PavementRunner for the opportunity!

Lucky Shamrock’n

The Shamrock’n Half Marathon was scheduled as my goal race for this spring season. After getting a few second PR on somewhat minimal training at the Davis Stampede in early February, I knew I had a lot more in me! So, I started trying to be more consistent with my weekly runs, and also added in speedwork.

This year the Shamrock’n Half increased its number of participants to 7,500. It seems to be one of the most popular races around here, so we were sure to sign up early! But with so many people racing, today we wanted to be sure that we made it to the race early to not feel rushed before the start. Race start time was 7:45, and we arrived at 6:20 — probably a little earlier than necessary, but not much after we arrived the traffic really started backing up! I was glad we got there early — I’d rather be early and relaxed than sit in traffic and get worried about missing my start.

There were 4 waves to the start (every 15 minutes), but I was in the first wave, so I didn’t have to wait around. The race organizers did a good job of making sure people stayed in the correct wave. The race seemed to start right on time and without any issues!

Rockin’ some neon green with my ProCompression socks and NWM t-shirt!

The course for Shamrock’n is really nice — curves through downtown Sacramento a bit, then followed along a bike path for a few miles before heading back into downtown and finishing in the local baseball stadium (just like yesterday’s Biggest Loser Walk). Overall it is flat with a couple super tiny “hills” on bridges to go over the river. They also have bands every few miles to keep you entertained.

I have to admit, even though this was my 10th half marathon, I was nervous before the start. Does that ever go away? I mean, I don’t mind it but its just a little funny to me. I guess when you put in so much time/effort into training for something it makes sense. I usually relax once I’m a mile or so into the race….this one was no different.

Honestly, this race really flew by for me. The first couple miles of the race were pretty crowded, but I tried not to do too much weaving. My first mile was a 8:28, which I thought was too fast, but that race adrenaline always gets me a little. I was able to slow it down a tiny bit the next two miles to 8:41, which was about where I actually wanted to start. After that I just stopped thinking so much about pace and just let myself get comfortable and ride it out for a while, which turned out to be back to about 8:24-8:28. My plan was to keep up this pace until mile 10 and then turn it up for the last 5k.

I was able to do exactly that! Mile 12 I started getting tired so my pace slowed a tiny bit, but for the last 1.1, I was able to pick it back up again to finish off strong!

My final time was 1:51:03 — a PR by 5 minutes!!! I’m SO excited! Even two days later, I’m still on cloud nine.

 Of course I had to get a post- race Killian’s Irish Red on St. Patrick’s Day!

Afterward we hung around to cheer on some other friend to the finish, have a post-race beer, and recap the events. Actually Ryan and I and two of our friends all PR’ed! It was a very exciting day! Now I’m so excited to keep working on speed and seeing what I can do!

Haircut and a 5k

It was a pretty low key week this week. I continued my P90x routine (only a few more weeks to go!), but skipped out on the legs workout yesterday because of my goal half marathon tomorrow.

Instead of the workout, I got my hair cut! I seriously hadn’t gotten my hair cut in close to 10 months! I know, I know — I’m lazy about the hair cuts. Now I feel fresh and ready for spring! I always think it feels so funny to wash my hair after cutting so much off. Also, the stylist curled it, which I hardly ever do! It was fun to have a new style all afternoon! Today, its back to being straight. 

before                                                                       after

This morning, Ryan and I walked the Biggest Loser Inaugural 5K Run/Walk in Sacramento in support of getting people moving, and as a work even for Ryan’s young professionals group. We debated for a while when we were signing up whether to run or walk it. We ended up deciding to walk since we want to make sure we are not tired out for our race tomorrow too, and a few others from his work were also planning to walk it. Ryan and I walked the race together, which was awesome! It was so great to talk and catch up since he was traveling for work all week. Our final finishing time was about 42:25 (13:41/mi pace).

Overall, I think the Biggest Loser 5K was a great environment for first time runners and walkers. There was one water station, and a couple groups of people at “cheer stations”. We finished the race by entering through the back of the local baseball stadium, and going around the warning track. The volunteers were very good, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Overall the environment seemed really welcoming to just getting people up and moving, and enjoying the day! There were even awards for the top 3 places in each age group for both runners and walkers separately. And everyone got a participation medal! We got an extra little shamrock keychain for doing both today’s event, and participating in tomorrow’s half. Ryan won 1st for men’s walkers in his age group!

Tomorrow morning is the Shamrock’n Half Marathon! Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Do you watch The Biggest Loser TV show? We have watched the last few seasons, and have really gotten into it. It is great to see people taking control of their lives and gaining self confidence.

Have you ever walked a race instead of running? This was my first time walking a race!

Waking Up in Vegas

After the marathon, we spent a few days hanging around in Las Vegas with friends.

[photo from Colleen]

Sunday night we tried to stay on our feet to help in recovery. We didn’t want to go back to the Strip after going back to our hotel and showering, but luckily there was a little bar across the street. We were basically the only ones there. Ordered up some chicken wings, and played a few games of shuffleboard. 

Monday we walked the Strip, and went to Serendipity for lunch. Then we walked some more and finally found a sports bar in the NY, NY casino to watch Monday Night Football. Afterward we went to Wolfgang Puck at MGM for dinner. The food was SO delicious! I have been there 3 different times, and loved their food every time.

Tuesday we decided we had spent enough time on the Strip, so instead we rented a car for the day and visited the Hoover Dam! On our way there we stopped for lunch at In-N-Out. This is a West Coast  must for those who haven’t tried it.

 [photo from Colleen]

The Hoover Dam is pretty incredible. It is quite the feat of engineering, and incredible to see. I would highly recommend visiting if you are in the area. The drive from Las Vegas is only about 40 minutes. There are two different tour options — I recommend the more expensive one ($30) because you get to walk through more of the dam, and really see of how it was constructed.

 not the greatest panoramic, but still looks pretty cool.

Overall, it was a great trip to Las Vegas! It can be so fun to travel for a race because you get to see more of the area. Already trying to figure out where the next destination race should be! Let me know if you have any good suggestions.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon (My First Marathon): Part I

I’m still a little bit amazed that my first marathon is actually finished. After putting in months of training, the day has finally passed…and I made it to the finish line!

Let me start from the beginning…

We arrived in Las Vegas late Friday night, and just went to our hotel to meet up with the friends we were staying with. We ended up staying up pretty late just talking / catching up — they live in CT, so we don’t see them very often!

On Saturday, we headed to the expo. It was held in the Convention Center near the Venetian. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to walk too much, but it is hard to get anywhere on the Strip in Vegas without walking, or paying a ton for a cab.

The expo was gigantic! The check-in process went really smoothly, and we didn’t have any issues getting our bibs or t-shirts. Afterward we wandered around to check out some of the vendors since we had never been to an expo like that before. We didn’t buy anything, but it was cool to see what was out there.

For the rest of the day, we wandered the Strip (a few friends had never been there before, so it was fun to see their reaction to all the huge casinos and lights). We got tickets to David Copperfield’s show, so we slowly made our way down to the MGM. On the way we checked out the street performers, ate an early dinner at Toby Keith’s I love This Bar, and bought a bunch of treats at the M&M store! We ended up walking way more than I wanted to (probably almost 6 miles on the day), but at least it was spread out over the day.

After the David Copperfield show (which was pretty cool by the way…better than I expected), we cabbed back to our hotel and all shared a small pizza as a late night snack. We decided to go to bed a little later than we usually would for a morning race since this run didn’t start until 3pm.

Sunday morning was spent lounging in our room. We slept in until about 10, then stretched and ate before getting ready. We decided to cab to the start of the race since our hotel’s shuttle put us about 3 miles from the starting line. We got there super early, so we found a spot inside to hide from the crazy winds until closer to race time.

About 2 o’clock, we headed to the start area to check our bags and get into our corrals. Before I knew it, the race was about to start!

Overall I felt surprisingly calm all day. Earlier in the week I figured I was going to be nervous all day about the run, but I really wasn’t to bad. I believed I would be able to make it, and tried to stay confident. The thing that made me the most worried was the wind. It had been beautiful on Saturday, so I hadn’t expected the wind — and I know how hard a windy run can be!

Stay tuned for more about the race!

I’m a marathoner!

I finished my first marathon yesterday! I am so excited to say that. 🙂

I’ll have to wait to give you all the details because I am staying in Las Vegas for a couple more days and don’t have access to my computer, and I haven’t mastered this phone posting thing yet.

But I wanted to let you know I made it and live to tell the tale. And even though I am so sore today, I am considering when should be my next race!

Thanks for all your support! Will tell you all about it soon — hopefully Wednesday!!

20 Miles…Crushed.

Today, I completed the Historic 20 Miler at the Clarksburg Country Run. It was a fun day, and I think I accomplished my race goals!

As a reminder, here were my goals based on my previous post:
1) take in adequate nutrition and hydration along the route
2) Finish with a 10:00/mile pace
3) Finish strong and not hit the wall
4) For every race, I want to be sure to have fun! 

And, here’s how I did…

1) I think I did a pretty good job with this. Ended up eating most of a PowerBar, and a few Shot Bloks. I took water at every water station. They were about ever 2 miles or so. I think it worked out pretty well.
2) Finished in under 10:00/mile pace!! Sweet!
3) Probably started the race a bit too fast, but more or less maintained pace. Was also able to pick up the pace the last two miles for a strong finish.
4) Definitely lots of fun. Such a beautiful area. Nice quiet country roads, small field of runners!

My final finish time was 3:16:26 for an average pace of 9:49/mi.

As I said above, I think I started the run a little too fast — especially for the first mile or two. But generally had fairly consistent splits. This is something I need to work on in the my last couple runs during my taper, and will be one of my big goals for the marathon.

Clarksburg was an adorable little area. I had never been there before, but it is so close to Sacramento! It is right on the Sacramento River, and has a bunch of vineyards and wineries in the area. It was pretty chilly first thing in the morning, but warmed up a little as the morning went on. Frost was on the ground this morning! The other awesome thing about this race was a hot lunch when we were done — it was pasta, salad, fruit, and cookies. Yum!

Overall, I am so proud of myself for this race. I made a couple friends on the route — one woman I ran with for about 4-5 miles! To think that my first half marathon I ran at about at 10 min mile pace, and now I’m hoping to run my first marathon at that pace is so awesome! Just got to keep putting your mind to what you want and you can make it happen.


Other fun weekend events included:
– early Thanksgiving party
– trip to the movies to see Argo (I’d recommend it.)
– dinner out to our favorite Mexican restaurant
– lots of chicken nuggets 🙂

This afternoon, Ry and I had a second lunch of some chicken nuggets, and have been relaxing. Sunday is always the day we catch up with family on the East coast, so we were busy with some phone calls. Since then we’ve been watching the night football games and enjoying a glass of wine to celebrate our great races! Probably time to make dinner…I think I’m hungry every 3 hours after a long run. Haha!

It’s now officially taper time! 3 weeks to go.