22 July 2014

SF 1st Half Marathon On Deck

SF Marathon weekend is almost here! I'm equally excited for the weekend events and the race itself. I'll be running the 1st Half Marathon for the third time; this event runs over the Golden Gate Bridge and was my very first half marathon ever back in 2009. My original 2014 goal was to run the marathon, but the hip flexor injury lasted longer than I hoped so I decided to back off on distance for this event. 

If you are running the race or hanging out in SF, you should check out the fun events on Saturday. The expo at Fort Mason is open to the public and there will be a social media meet up on Saturday at 1 pm. Meet your Twitter friends in real life, just like I met Alisyn at the meet up in 2012! There is also a shakeout run with Bart Yasso starting at 8:30 am on Saturday. I can't wait to finally meet him.

Friday, I'll be hanging out with other SFM Ambassadors at Thirsty Bear Brewing for a brewery tour, dinner, and beer. If you read this blog, then you know dinner, beer, and running friends pretty much equals my perfect evening. We owe a huge thank you to Wes for setting up this dinner.

Can't wait to reunite with many of these beer drinking friends!

Last but not least, I'm ready rock the hills of the half! I'm going for a course PR. I've been hill training lately and feeling stronger, so I'm confident I have it in me. Hill training is a big bonus of trail running.

If you are running or have friends running the race, don't forget to check out the new race day app designed for SFM by Pebble. It's available for both Android and iOS and offers runner tracking, event schedules, and race course maps.

17 July 2014

Ragnar NWP: Bird Machine

Ragnar NWP is finally here! I've been really excited to return to Seattle for Ragnar this year, and I leave later today. Last year, team Party Like a Flockstar had a blast, and I can't wait to do it again. This year, our team name is Bird Machine and we have some returning members and some new members to join the fun. I'm switching it up and running in Van 1, Runner 1 this year to see the other half of the course.

Last year's van 2.

Party Like a Flockstar at the finish.

I considered doing a team write-up before the race, but Andrea (Born and Raced in Chicago) and JJ (Oiselle Blog) took care of that with these great posts. Check out each of their blogs for info on our team members and relay tips. 

This year we even have a few sponsors who helped us out with gear, and we made some pretty sweet Bird Machine trucker hats using a design by team member Sophia

Check out who is supporting us, all of which I'm excited about and really do wear or use in real life.

Oiselle provided us with comfy Oiselle raglan slub tees to rock at the finish.
Swiftwick sent the team Aspire Twelves in neon green! Tall compression for the win.
Nuun will be hydrating us with bottles and tabs for the relay. 
Picky Bars is feeding us Picky Bars, of course!
Bic Bands sent us super cute orange dot headbands. 
Bia Sport (my favorite new watch) sent us relay goodies for eating, water-less showering, and having fun!

I have a very full suitcase. Thank goodness other items were shipped to Seattle...

At this point I'm packed and just waiting on that flight time. Ragnar NWP, here I come!

13 July 2014

Trails Lately

My Western States post ended with a plan to hit the trails during the week, and so far it's been fantastic. It's actually quite easy to drive to a park after work, but for some reason I just hadn't been doing it. It feels great to be back to the trails and to test my climbing abilities after so many months of babying the hip on boring flat roads.

I've discovered that Rancho San Antonio is a convenient place to meet Kevin after work because we can both drive there pretty easily. It generally isn't my favorite park because it's so popular and crowded, but it's free, convenient, and of course has great trails. It also has a ton of wildlife in the evening; we've seen many deer, quail, turkeys, rabbits, and squirrels, all of which are entertain me when I'm running by.

Sophia and I ran at Arastradero Preserve one evening, a nice park near Palo Alto. Parking there is rough due to the small lot, but we managed to find spots. Although it's not a very large park in general, there is a nice 6ish mile loop around the outside and you could easily run the trails in the middle to add distance. Views from the top include the Stanford Dish and foothills all around.

Evening sun at the bottom of Arastradero.

On Thursday I climbed part of Mission Peak in Fremont; I wish I'd have taken my phone for the photos. The views on that climb were fantastic and I felt like I could see all of South Bay. I climbed for about 2.25 miles, not all the way up, because traffic craziness made me late to meet the group and I turned around when I ran into them. Another day I'll go back and go all the way up. I can tell the steep climb will be worth it. This is another really crowded park, but the nearby street parking helps a lot.

Kevin's family was visiting over the July 4th holiday and we took them to Sanborn County Park for a short hike. I'd never been to this park before and was pleasantly surprised with the scenery; tree cover and very large trees are my thing. This is definitely one we need to go explore on a run one day.

 Deer at Sanborn.

Kev and his parents hiking in Sanborn.

Now to my very favorite park in the area, Huddart Park located in Woodside. I absolutely love running here, again because of the big trees, tree cover, and gorgeous (mostly single track) trails. We've run it the last two weekends; I can't get enough. Trails in this park generally follow an up-up-up and then down-down-down route, so the climbs are long and pretty tough. The beginning sustained climb of our normal route is around 3.5 miles, then we have some easy rollers, and it ends with a fun downhill. 

Yesterday's elevation map.

 Fourth of July trail run.

 Sophia on the Skyline Trail.

 Kevin descending Chinquapin Trail.

Chinquapin Trail Bridge.

The last couple weeks have included upwards of 4000 feet of climbing. When I started back I could tell my hill legs and lungs just weren't there anymore, but I'm feeling stronger and they will be soon. I'm really looking forward to the trail running to be had in Bend, Oregon, this August too. More trail running, please! 

Except that at times the klutz in me comes out. Like this lovely fall near a picnic area in Huddart, oops. Scraped up knee, elbow, hand, and shoulder thanks to a little rolling action. One week later...this one still kinda hurts. 

Adding more red to the white and blue of my July 4th outfit.

Don't worry, I'm ok now. Happy running!

Have you ever had a running fall? 

06 July 2014

Western States: Crewing for Matt

Last weekend we crewed for our friend Matt in his first 100 miler at Western States. Runners in long races can use crews to bring their gear and nutrition to them at specific points. Alisyn and Matt planned out a detailed list of where we needed to be, when to be there, and what we needed to do for Matt at each point.

First off, I'm amazed and inspired at the athleticism and drive of the runners at Western States. The course has about 18K feet of climb, and the weather is pretty darn hot because it's held at the end of June near Auburn. If you aren't familiar with this race, it began as a horse race years ago and morphed into a foot race thanks to a now famous runner named Gordy. Read this for more history or watch the movie Unbreakable to follow runners through their experience.

Runners have 30 hours total to complete the course, and they get a belt buckle for finishing. Those who finish in under 24 hours get a special silver belt buckle, and that's what our runner Matt was going for. He's always speedy and this event was no exception. We had a split crew, meaning we could hit every other aid station for the first few. Alisyn, Matt's fiance, and friends Ruben and Vanessa went to the first stop at Robinson Flat while Kevin, Shannon, and I headed to a later aid station called Dusty Corners. I can say it definitely earns its name; I'm not sure I've ever been anywhere quite as dusty as the roads to this aid station.

We were early enough at Dusty Corners (mile 38) to see the first runners come through, and the run cheerleader in me had a blast watching everyone and cheering them on. You might think that 38 miles would exhaust someone, but at this point almost everyone was looking fresh and happy.

 The official aid station.

Kevin, Shannon, and I waiting for Matt.

Matt came running into Dusty Corners looking awesome and in great spirits, chatting and asking us how our day was going. We filled his water and Scratch Labs, gave him food, applied sunscreen, put ice under his hat and sent him on his way. I was pumped to see him so happy and doing so well! Not that I thought he wouldn't be, you just never know. 

Matt heading in.

We quickly packed up, left Dusty Corners, and went over to Michigan Bluff (mile 55.7) to meet the other half of the crew. The Michigan Bluff aid station was along a paved road and is a long stretch were crews can wait and people can cheer. Technically they didn't need us there, but we had time and wanted to go. We found Alisyn, Vanessa, and Ruben hanging out in a shady spot and Ruben resting because he'd be pacing Matt overnight. Runners are allowed to have someone run with them in the night hours for safety, so Ruben would be running 40 miles with him later. 


I should look up the deal with the bathtub...

We watched and cheered for the runners, seeing the same runners pass by who were near Matt at Dusty Corners. This would continue to happen for the rest of the race, which was cool because I felt like I was following their journey start to finish. One turned out to be someone who works at my company; of course I had to email him to say hello [I was stalking you] and congrats!

Once again, Matt came through Michigan Bluff happy and moved through the aid station super fast. We filled the bottles, Scratch Labs, food, and doused him with water to cool him off before he headed out. 

Oh yes, and he gave a few high fives on the way. I love this photo.

Kevin, Shannon, and I booked it back up the hill to the car because the shuttle was full and headed straight to our next assigned spot, Bath Road. We left Kevin at the Bath Road entrance so he could run a mile or so to take Matt ice, then Shannon and I went to park in the Foresthill craziness. Forsesthill is a huge aid station (mile 62) with easy access to anyone who wants to come cheer, so the parking situation was nuts there. Shannon and I found a shady spot to place our stuff and Alisyn brought everything Matt might need like shoes, socks, clothes, food, etc. Pretty soon we saw Matt and Kevin heading in, Kevin grabbed his pack so we could refill it and ran to us, then Matt and Alisyn went through the official weigh in area.  The race checks weight on the runners at some points to watch for health concerns.

At Foresthill.

Aid station greeter, Matt, and Alisyn heading into Foresthill.

Once again Matt sped on through, this time Ruben joining him to go into the evening and dark hours. Ruben was really a rockstar, pacing Matt for 40 miles. Many people have 2 pacers who split the distance instead of just one. 

Off they go.

We took advantage of a longer break time to grab pizza in Cool, CA, then drove on to the Green Gate aid station (mile 79.8). Green Gate is just that: a green gate.

With green lights added, of course.

Green Gate in daylight.

We arrived at Green Gate in daylight and enjoyed the 1.5 mile or so trail run down into the aid station. Kevin enjoyed it less because he was carrying the cooler; thanks for taking one for the team Kev. It quickly became dark while we waited for Matt and Ruben.

Spooky Kevin.

It felt like a while in the dark, but finally Matt and Ruben arrived and refreshed their food and hydration. I should note that even though it felt long, they were pretty much right on schedule. After some gear switching they headed back out for the last 20 miles. The day had gone super fast for us, although I'm not sure if Matt felt the same way. It was kind of unbelievable that it was dark for night and Matt had started running at 5 am that morning. 

The hike out of Green Gate was much harder than that nice trail run down, but it was a great workout. Green Gate was our last crew stop before the finish line, so at that point it was time to wait for Matt to finish. Once we got to the high school stadium that was the finish line, I was super excited to sit in the stands to watch people finish. However, I quickly realized that there was not a stream of runners constantly finishing and went to hang out with Alisyn and Matt's Folsom Trail Runner friends. We chatted, cheered for runners who came around the track, and even laid down a bit on sleeping bags for rest. It was around 2 am and we'd been awake for a very long time (Alisyn longer than the rest of us because she went to the start too!) 

The finish line.

When we saw Matt had come through Robie Point (mile 98.9), we headed over to the track entrance to cheer. Matt and Ruben came full force into the track, so much that I couldn't keep up with Matt on a 400m after he'd ran 100 miles (especially wearing Toms...) Matt enjoyed his victory lap and crossed the finish line in 22 hours and 8 minutes, getting the coveted silver belt buckle.

Entering the track!

Blowing by on the last straightaway.

And done!

Ruben rejoined our group because pacers weren't supposed to go around the track, and I have to say he did not look like he'd just run 40 miles. 

Vanessa and Ruben after his run.

Matt came back from the finish area a few minutes later and everyone was pumped to see him and to say congrats. I love the support he was getting from the Folsom Trail Runners (and from his crew too, of course.) 

 Hugs all around.

Runner-pacer hugs.

We stuck around the track long enough for Matt to eat a bit and get his shoes off, but we went back to our cabins pretty quickly and went to sleep. The next morning at brunch around 11 am, we saw on social media that the last runner had just finished. I can't even imagine being out there for 30 hours, which I most definitely would be if I were to do something like this. Western States runners are truly inspiring, whether it takes them 15 hours or 30 hours to finish.

Many people told me that crewing for Western States would make me want to run it. Did it? Not quite, but it did make me want to revisit my 50K goal that was put aside when I had the hip flexor injury this year. I'm also wondering why I even run roads when trails are so much more fun? The answer is convenience after work, but I'll be making a renewed effort to trail run on weekdays like I used to when Alisyn lived nearby. It's time to get back to the dirt!

30 June 2014

The Town's Half Marathon - Race Entry Giveaway

There's a new event in town! The Town's Half Marathon in Oakland will have its inaugural race day on August 16, 2014, and the awesome people organizing the race have given me two free entries for readers. I sadly won't be able to run this one myself because I'll be traveling that weekend, but it looks like a fun event and I'd definitely check it out if I were here. I always love running new courses and being part of new events.

The race is part of the Golden State Half Series with the Livermore Half and the US Half. If you run all three in one year, you get extra bling. It's been a few years since I ran the US Half, but it's a really fun fall race too. And if you love medals but haven't seen the ones from US Half or Livermore yet, know that this company does a great job in the medal department!

Race Details at a glance.
Distance: 13.1 miles
Date: August 16, 2014
Start time: 7 am
Where: Oakland, CA - Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland City Hall

Course Map

Now for the giveaway! I'll take entries today through July 5 at midnight, and I'll draw the winners on Monday, July 6, 2014.

Want to register for the race right now? Use the code THETOWNSKEEP for 10% off and register here. Discount code is valid until July 13.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

27 June 2014


This weekend begins the whirlwind that will be my July and August, and I couldn't be more excited. Admittedly, I'm also a little overwhelmed when I look at my calendar, but I focus on the fact that I planned all of this and that I'm really looking forward to it. The schedule looks something like this.

June 27 to 29: Kevin and I will be crewing at Western States for our super fast trail runner friend, Matt. I'm honored and thrilled to be on his crew and keep going through the logistics and planning in my head. Watching Alisyn and Matt plan for his first 100 miler made me realize it's way more complicated than I could have imagined. Look out for Matt and 'Team UMM' (Ultra Miles Matt) #322 in the Western States craziness!

July 1 to 6: Kevin's parents are coming to visit so we'll be playing tourist and enjoying the 4th of July festivities. We're going to the SF Symphony Concert at Shoreline to enjoy music and fireworks for the 4th, and we will be visiting Point Reyes while they are here too. Cap that weekend off with a friend's 30th Birthday 30K + BBQ on Saturday and call it a great weekend! Disclaimer: the faster folks training for SFM will be running the whole 30K, I'm hoping someone will drop me off a bit closer to the BBQ than that...

July 11 to 13: Our friend Jen will be visiting, and I'm sure we'll hit some fun parks and tourist spots. No specific plans yet which is fine with me - I'll take some unplanned and fun hangout time.

July 17 to 20: Ragnar Northwest Passage, baby! I can't wait to return to the Seattle area to join a bunch of Oiselle Team ladies for another relay. We have a good combo of 2013 team members plus new team members, and our team name is 'Bird Machine.' We even have a few sponsors who are sending goodies including: Oiselle (of course!), Swiftwick Socks, Nuun, Picky Bars, Bic Bands, and Bia Sport.

Picky gear and bars.

Swiftwick Aspire 12s.

July 26 to 27: San Francisco Marathon weekend! I'll be running the 1st Half Marathon, Kevin will be running the Marathon, and tons of other friends will be running one of the awesome events. As an ambassador, I'll be involved in working the expo, the shakeout run, a fun Ambassador lunch, and many more fun things during race weekend. I'm ready to rock SFM!

Enjoying the Ambassador gear with Alisyn and Corinne.

August 7: Kevin and I will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. 10 years! It went so quickly, I can't believe we've been married for a whole decade. 

August 13 to 16: Oiselle Team Camp and the Deschutes 5K in Bend, Oregon. I'm pumped to meet more ladies, to spend time with everyone, and to run in a new place. I sort of fear the week-of-tempo-running that could be my reality with so many fast women, but it'll be worth it. 

There you have it, a July and August jam-packed with (mostly running) adventures. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

What are your summer plans? What are you looking forward to? 

25 June 2014

Marina Bay 'The Riveter' Half Marathon Recap

The Marina Bay half marathon was an inaugural event with a Rosie the Riveter theme, and it was staged at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, CA. I've never thought of Richmond as a scenic place to run, but I was pleasantly surprised with this course. It started on a road around the park buildings but quickly turned onto the Marina Bay paved trail and stayed on water-side trails for almost the entire time. Because it was such a small event (575 people in the half), there were no problems with crowding on the trails at all.

The start time was an early 7 am so Kevin and I stayed nearby with friends on Saturday night. We picked up our race packets the morning of the race; they had pick-up from 5:30 to 6:30 am. There was no expo, but you could also pick up packets at running stores in that area and in SF the day before. Parking near the race was super easy either on the street or $10 to park right at the start area. Very convenient and worth the $10 to me.

Getting pumped up pre-race with 'The Riveter' pose. 

I wasn't going for the half PR yet, but I wanted to run a solid and consistent half and that I did. I'm happy with my splits and how I felt throughout the race, finishing with a 2:05:19. Kevin, on the other hand, went out for the PR and nailed his first sub-1:40 with a 1:37. I don't know how he PRs so much but I'm proud of him!

Splits from Strava.

I can't say I have detailed thoughts from during the race. I enjoyed running along the water and having a couple of out-and-back sections to see the winners (and Kevin) go by. I met a couple of new people at the start and also my Twitter buddy Christina in person for the first time while running; we all cheered for each other when we passed for a nice little boost. I made sure to enjoy the SF skyline and other views as we ran by, and there were plenty of those opportunities. The only weird part was running through a huge dog park at one point, which confused both the runners and the dogs. That said, I was entertained and talked to some dogs.

Happy runner, very early on in the race.

We looped back around to finish where we started and Kev was there to tell me to push it when I was closer to the finish than I thought. I finished feeling strong and realizing I could have given more, but again that wasn't the goal for the day. It was just a tune-up on the distance and a chance to check out a new place to run. On the bright side, I passed a lot of people in the last few miles and that felt great.


Celebrating with very large medals.

More finish photos.

Race logistics.

The support. There are some hiccups with any new event, but they did a really great job overall. The water stations didn't have a ton of volunteers so I waited for water a couple of times; on a PR day that would have frustrated me, but it was ok and I probably didn't lose more than a minute total. There were plenty of park restrooms along the trail so they didn't put out extra porta-potties. Course marshals were plentiful and kept us following the correct route plus cheered us on. They had both water and sports drink at the aid stations, plus about 2 (maybe 3) opportunities for gels and one station with oranges.

The course. I already talked about the course a lot but here's the quick recap: lots of water-side running, nice views, super flat and paved trail. It was very easy to get there in the morning and to leave the area after. They also had a 5K and 10K that started at 7:30 am (30 minutes after the half start.) I saw only a few 10K runners on the course but no 5K runners, which tells me the logistics for not crowding the trails worked well.

The finish line. This was the other hiccup. There was no water immediately at the finish line (unless you had a hubby bring you one like I did, thanks Kev.) Otherwise you had to go back into the building to track it down, and it looked like the 5K and 10K runners cleaned a lot of the finish food out before half marathoners got there. When it was there, they had Hint water, bagels, fruit, Pop chips, fancy popcorn, and red vines. The race director sent a follow-up email after the race saying many of their tables for the finish didn't arrive due to a truck breakdown, and I imagine they'll fix all of this up the next time around.

The swag. The shirts are pretty busy and not my favorite, although they are pretty comfortable. The medals are huge and nice, and the bibs themselves were really cute.

That's it - happy running!