Tustin Hangar Half Marathon Race Recap

Curious about the unique course of the Tustin Hangar Half Marathon, I decided to run the 2nd edition of this race. “Seventeen stories high, over 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide, the hangars were, and still are, two of the largest wooden structures ever built. Designing and building the two structures in 1942, during wartime, on a hyper-accelerated schedule and with a nearly all-wood design, is what earned the hangars their 1993 listing by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the “Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks” of the 20th Century.” I’d never run a race in the city of Tustin and was curious about these hangars… as well as where my fitness was at!

John decided to tack another 5K onto our weekend of racing, and came along with me to packet pickup at the Tustin Marketplace. It was a gloomy, rainy day, so we treated ourselves to Portola Coffee Lab on the way out.

I didn’t sleep very well the night before, and race morning started too early. We arrived, parked, dawdled, visited the bathroom, and then I met up with Cristina and Ellen for a 2 mile warm up. The on-and-off rain had persisted into Sunday, and I hoped that it would let up by the time we started. After the warm up, a shirt change, and one last bathroom stop, I had to book it to the start line. I met C & E, the National Anthem was sung, and then we were off!

A lady pack +1 formed within the first mile and we all ran through the hangar together. It was very large, dark, and eerily quiet with the occasional “woohoo”s and “wow”s echoing throughout. The 4 of us pictured coming outside of the hangar exchanged a few words before gaps formed. I focused on settling into a comfortably hard pace, but couldn’t quite find that sweet spot. While I felt decent enough the day before at the Saints Run 5K, I’d been feeling stale-legged in general.

Mile 2-4 run were uneventful and peaceful, taking us straight along Tustin Ranch Road. I never found myself completely alone on the course, but it was definitely a smaller race. I somewhat settled into the pace as we twisted and turned through a quiet auto center (miles 4-5).  Whilst briefly chatting during the first mile, the eventual female winner had warned C and I about the abundance of turns on the course. She was right!

I enjoyed running through quaint Old Town Tustin (miles 7-8) as I’d never been there before. I saw Ellen again after a u-turn at mile 8 and she looked great! Right after passing the mile 10 marker, we were back on Tustin Ranch Road and took it all the way back toward the Marketplace. I didn’t know what pace I was running or what my elapsed time was at any point, but felt generally meh/okay for the entire race. I still feel like I’ve lost that higher gear that I had for the Holiday Half Marathon. The course was well-delineated as the two courses (half marathon and 5K) merged toward the finish, and I absorbed the words of encouragement from the other side. One last turn right after the mile 13 marker took me to the finish line.

Cristina, Ellen and I re-united and compared race stories during a 3 mile cool down. By the time I hit 18 miles, I felt depleted and famished. The giant, shiny Whole Foods storefront beckoned and John and I hit the hot bar hard. Kombucha + vegan chilaquiles taste 10x better after a good run. We hit the Portola Coffee Lab one last time before heading back.

I’ll be honest… I was slightly disappointed with my finish time. While a 1:27:53 is a very respectable time and not slow by any means, I don’t feel like my effort matched the pace. However, my mile splits were even and I didn’t fly and die, so that’s good. Plan: throw speedwork back into the mix!


Saints Run 5K Race Recap

I had low expectations for this 5K having completed no speedwork since December? January? I can’t event remember. Actually, I ran my “rust buster” workout a few days out, but that was more for mental preparation to run “fast” on Saturday. Additionally, I had a week of low mileage about 2 weeks prior to the race. A down week + the lack of speed work = low expectations.

I convinced John to run the 5K too and we arrived to register around 7:00am. With an 8:00am race start, I had plenty of time to sign up, visit the bathrooms, and dawdle before I went out for a 2.5-mile warm up. After one last bathroom stop, I jogged to the start line area and and chatted with Kathleen, who was running the 5K as a tempo in the middle of a long run. I also ran into my friend and podiatrist, Dr. Graves, who’d won the race outright last year.

I started a few steps behind Dr. Graves and watched a male runner slip and fall within the first quarter mile. The first mile was challenging as we navigated tight turns and slippery sidewalks. It had been raining on and off in the days prior and rained lightly before the race. I passed Dr. Graves and another male runner within the first mile and found myself in 2nd place overall. There weren’t mile markers and I didn’t look at my watch, so I didn’t know what pace I was running or what mile I was at. I focused on running fast and strong, but at an effort that I could sustain for 3.1 miles.

After the turnaround on the beach path, I was 90% sure that we re-traced our steps back to the lighthouse, but came to an un-marked intersection. I paused and looked for a volunteer or some sort of course marking, quickly deciding to go back the way that I’d come. As soon as I came upon a race volunteer, I inquired about whether I was going the right way and they re-assured me that I was. For some reason, it felt too early to head back and I worried that I’d accidentally cut the course. After asking another set of volunteers on the course, I accepted that I was going the right way (phew!). I hoped that this wouldn’t be another 2.9 mile 5K like the Aloha Run!

The return trip was rough and I couldn’t bring it in as hard as I would’ve liked. We were back on the slippery sidewalk of Shoreline Village and I was navigated large groups of walkers coming toward me. Many of them weren’t paying attention and I had to yell “coming through” or “on your left” often. I checked my watch as I approached the lighthouse and saw that the course would actually be long. There was one last hairpin turn before the finish line, at which I glanced at my watch and saw 3.1 miles in 19:00 flat. The course ended up being 3.15 miles and I clocked a 19:16 official time. My splits were even and I’d run faster than expected sans speed work, so I was happy with the effort!

I ran the first mile of my cool down with Dr. Graves and we chatted about the race. He was battling a bad cold and had only decided that morning to actually run it. After we parted ways, I ran to the port via the Queensway Bridge for the rest of my cool down miles. I love running over that bridge because it’s part of the JetBlue Long Beach Marathon course. Upon returning to the festival area, I spoke with Andy who had handled course operations, and suggested some cones or some sort of delineation for the last mile. Other than that, I thought it was a well organized event.











Sean O’Brien 50 Mile Race Recap

I’ll be honest – nervousness left me with a messy head during the week leading up to the race. I had to work hard to stay focused on my work, the stress of which didn’t help my pre-race emotional state, and not think about the upcoming Saturday. Despite being nervous, I felt confident that weeks of high mileage, hills, two big training weekends, and mental strength work would all serve me well on February 3.

Unfortunately, race “weekend” didn’t start well – I was in a minor car accident on Thursday. Nobody was injured and my car was fix-able, but I went into the weekend feeling even heavier with worry. Annalise, Ben and I headed toward her parent’s house, conveniently located close to the start/finish line, on Friday morning, shlepped around, went to Stacked for dinner, and then visited packet pickup. We closed my birthday with Billy Yang’s The Why which served as a great pre-race boost. The film follows Billy as he completes the famed 100-mile Leadville race and explores the reasons for running ultra-marathons. “Sure, on the surface you can cite self-improvement, challenging yourself, so on and so forth. But the longer I do this, the more I started to explore answers beyond the surface. How we relate to discomfort, uncertainty and pain. Do we have it too easy and thus, we’re drawn to the opposite end of the spectrum where we’re reduced to “survival” mode and drinking/eating/moving forward? Are we in our more natural state when this is what our world is reduced down to? I find myself pondering that often, especially when I’m enduring non-ideal weather conditions or dragging lead-filled legs through a run. I think that a part of me… embraces the discomfort. Whether it’s a result of me having it too easy in other areas of my life or because I’m a masochist, I don’t know.


I turned 50K years old!

Race morning began with a shower, breakfast and a triple drop bag check. This race allowed two drop bags, one of which I would have access to twice (bag #1 @ mile 13 and 31.3, bag #2 at mile 22.7). Since I wouldn’t have to carry any of this during the race, I basically stuffed them both full of crap like at Avalon. The most important items were 1) an extra handheld water bottle, which was required for a hot and difficult section of the course, and 2) chamois cream. Spoiler: the only things I touched in the bags were the water bottle, a towel, and a bottle of Coca Cola.

Facing only a 10-15 minute drive to the start line, we left at 4:45am for a 6:00am race start. We all commented that it was “warm” while packing items into the car, as it was in the 50s, then watched A’s car temperature gauge plummet into the high 20s as we drove into the mountains. We hid in the warm car, leaving only to dump our drop bags and use the loo. At about 5:45am, it was time to depart the comfort zone. I felt calm, nervous, excited, curious, but mostly ready to do the damn thing. The start line for the 50 mile race felt small, but electric. I said hi to Carrie, who had seen her husband off for the 100K race. That was the “premier” event as it offered 4 golden tickets. There were also 50K and marathon distance races, which started later.

Keira, the race director, laid down some instructions, imparted some wisdom, and then sent us off into the darkness of the Santa Monica mountains. For the first 5 miles or so, I happily chatted with the surrounding (all female! runners). I was extremely cold and not enjoying the rocky, single track trail, but just trying to settle in. I’m still very much a “road runner” who dabbles in trail, but I especially struggle with rocks and narrow paths. I felt better as the sun rose, rockiness subsided, and path widened. Of course, nature began to loudly call after I forwent a porta-potty stop (there was a line, what the heck) at the mile 6ish aid station. I answered that call at, what I later referred to as, “Poo Rock” and continued on my way.

Jump attempt #15 @ bib pickup.

Annalise and I ended up running into the mile 13 aid station together and I realized that we’d been there before, just a few weeks prior. It had been a back-to-back weekend of 25 Saturday miles and 15 Sunday miles. When we’d finished the 15-miler, I laid down in the parking lot and basked in the fatigue. I reflected back on training runs often during the race, reminding myself that I’d put in the work to be there. The moment of reminiscence was cut short when my foot slammed into a rock and I slammed into a bush. Annalise kindly pulled me out and I pulled myself together over the next few miles, which ticked by quickly and without any noteworthy events.

PC: Annalise!

By mile 15 or so, the temperature had increased significantly. I’d shed my long sleeve shirt, beanie and gloves at mile 13 and felt good in a tank top and hat. I’d decided to leave my hydration pack at home, carrying a single hand-held until picking up a second one at mile 22.7. Miles 15 – 22.7 included running uphill, running downhill, single track trails, gorgeous views of Malibu, salted potatoes, Coca Cola, various other snacks, and a growing sense of gratitude. My body was responding well to the arduous task of running 50 (very hilly) miles, the brilliant blue of the ocean was staring at me from below, and I was playing in the mountains. How could I not be thankful?

I gladly picked up my second water bottle at mile 22.7 and filled both bottles to the brim with ice and water. All of the aid station volunteers were extremely helpful and lightning quick with assistance! The aid station fare was tasty and I left this aid station feeling like perhaps I’d overeaten, but was glad that I’d indulged because the next section required a lot of energy. I was the only person running the 4 mile climb, likely receiving a few unspoken “you’re stupid”s along with the audible “good job”s. I remembered something that Anton Krupicka had said in The Why – “I guess I try and remind myself that this is the reason that I signed up for this event… to be challenged, to get to a point where it’s not easy anymore, where I don’t feel like I will be able to finish.” I reminded myself that this was the reason that I’d chosen this race as my second 50 miler, to be challenged.

Jump attempt #6 @ bib pickup.

The short descent which followed didn’t offer the relief that one might believe it would after so much up-ness. I waffled between handing the reigns to gravity and keeping one foot on the brakes, but it hurt either way. I passed my friend Vanessa, who was running the 100K, and we chatted briefly. Finally, I reached the bottom and started to climb again. I knew I’d prepared well for the race because my legs were totally on-board for all of this vert. I was met with a blast of icy cold water upon arrival at the mile 31.3 aid station. That + cold sponges felt so refreshing. I re-filled my bottles again, shoveled potatoes and ginger chews in my mouth, chugged a mango smoothie and continued on. I still felt great, mentally and physically.

The course is an out, loop, and back, so the last 18.7 miles felt familiar. I certainly felt different during the return trip – more tired, hot, probably dehydrated, but happy. I had no idea where I was time-wise, but believed that I was the 4th or 5th female 50-miler. As I left the last aid station at mile 42.9, I felt a small  pang of sadness that this would be over soon. Months of training and forward looking to these hours would wrap up in a little over 60 minutes. I savored these miles and the rode the race high all the way into the finish line. I completed my second 50-miler in 9:40 and as the 3rd overall female. Annalise rolled in a few minutes later, followed by Ben.

I felt slightly star struck being so close to a few of the big-name runners chasing the golden ticket. I saw badass Courtney DeWaulter, female winner of the 100K, in the finish line area. Not only did Courtney win the 100K and earn her golden ticket, she ran it faster than I completed the 50-miler! I also passed Billy Yang and told him that I’d really enjoyed The Why, feeling like a total fan-girl. Annalise, Ben and I hung out with a group of new and old friends for close to 2 hours before heading to the car. The rest of the evening included a warm shower, pizza, and many Zs!

My legs definitely felt sore on Sunday, but not as tired as I’d expected. We all slept in and then set out for breakfast burritos. Sloth mode ensued for the rest of the day, with the exception of a walk to Trader Joes. At 3:00pm, we settled in to watch the Super Bowl and before I knew it, we were packing up to leave. Annalise’s parents were wonderful hosts and I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality! The departure was bittersweet – I was happy to return home, but sad that such a great weekend was ending.

SD Trail Marathon Race Recap

Last year, at my best friend’s wedding in Brawley, I discovered that one of my high school classmates had gone on to become a very talented runner. A few weeks after the wedding, I received an email in my work inbox inquiring about an elite entry to one of our events. Recognizing the name, I asked if he had graduated from Brawley Union High School in 2005 (graduating class of about 150). In summary: JJ came to Southern California from Las Vegas in October to run one of our races, we became friends, he told me he was running the SD Trail Marathon (his first marathon!), I convinced Annalise that it would be a good training run for Sean O’Brien, and we registered.

During the drive to Escondido, A and I were discussing how oddly calm we felt heading to the start line of a marathon. Not because we are like, totally trail marathon experts, but because this would be half of the distance we would have to run in a few weeks. Additionally, it would be almost entirely flat, compared to the course profile for SOB. We were treating this as a casual training run, with the added perks of different scenery, a race shirt, and a finisher medal (and pint glass!). The drive, arrival, parking, etc. were without hiccups. We even had time to take a few pre-race pictures!

At 7:30am, the race started and we headed toward the turnaround at Lake Hodges. The first 13.1 miles were fairly uneventful: I was enjoying the different scenery and running easily. I chatted with Greg for a few minutes before ascending Raptor Ridge, the only major climb of the day. I exchanged words of encouragement with a few runners and before I knew it, I was making a u-turn. During the return trip, I began to feel the effects of the elements (mainly sun and wind), but was still running easily and feeling good. A cup of Coca Cola at each aid station kept my stomach happy and energy levels even.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel ascending Raptor Ridge again, but my legs responded beautifully. I flew up it, passing the fourth place overall runner. The last few miles were somewhat boring and warm, but I caught #3 and barrelled through the finish line in 3:27. Annalise finished a few minutes later and we were excited to learn that we’d finished as the first and second overall females! The usual post-race chit-chat and race recaps ensued. I caught up with Sean, enjoyed a cup of homemade vegan chili, and learned that JJ had won his first marathon. We agreed that pizza was in order to celebrate our accomplishments so A and I met up with JJ and his family at Pieology. The pizza and conversation were wonderful and I was relishing the post-race endorphins and warm feeling of good company.

I usually expect to feel somewhat sore and tired after a longer-distance race, but I felt fantastic on Sunday. While I ran easy that day, I completed one of the toughest hill circuit workouts I’ve ever run on Monday and again, felt perfectly fine the next day. It’s slightly disconcerting to recover so easily, but I guess it bodes well for Sean O’Brien…

New Year’s Eve in Flagstaff, AZ

Mission for the trip: run a lot of miles, explore a lot of trails, and have a lot of fun.

Why Flagstaff, Arizona? The city, which sits at almost 7,000 feet above elevation and boasts a well-maintained and massive trail network, is residence to a group of prominent trail and road runners. There is no shortage of climbing,  descending, rocks, and opportunities to get lost. Additionally, Annalise went to school there, so she knew the city and trails well. She was able to nostalgize and catch up with college friends, while I was able to experience the quaint mountain town for the first time. We also decided to turn this into a big-mile weekend, in preparation for the Sean O’Brien 50 miler. We left Southern California around 1:00pm on Friday and spent the evening on the 40 freeway.

Annalise’s friends Josh and Mel were gracious enough to host us for the weekend. Not only did they have two spare bedrooms, but their house was in very close proximity to Buffalo Park, where we would begin Saturday’s 25-mile trail adventure. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality.

We spent time on Friday night planning our route for the next morning and finalized it whilst enjoying coffee before heading out into the cold on Saturday morning. It was somewhere around 35F when we began to run at ~7:50am, but I felt warm enough in two tech tees, tights, and gloves. A short chunk of trail took us to Buffalo Park, after which we hopped on the Oldham trail. This section was very rocky and undulating. Oldham > Easy Oldham > Rocky Ridge.

At some point in the run, we both became very warm and decided to shed an outer layer and gloves. After about a mile or two, it suddenly became VERY cold, uncomfortably so. I had to stop and re-dress, but the next few miles were rough as my hands were in pain from the cold. This was the lowest point of the run for me and I definitely considered quitting. Fortunately, we ascended out of the canyon and I began to thaw out. Rocky Ridge > Schultz Creek > Sunset.

The Sunset trail ascended steeply toward Mount Elder and I was once again a happy camper. The last section of this trail before we were to u-turn climbed significantly, was technical, and quite windy. Unfortunately, I had to navigate this section alone, as A and I became separated. After our reunion, we followed Sunset back to the Brookbank trail, on which I experienced my second fall of the run. It’s better to fall during training than during a race, right? I started going into “almost-done-with-this-long-run” mode and strode along giddily toward the 25th mile. After 4+ hours out on the trails of Flagstaff, we arrived back at the house. We were sore, dirty, tired, hungry, but happy.

Post-shower, we ventured toward downtown Flagstaff for food and exploration. I was hyped up to try well-reputed Macy’s coffee. Unfortunately, my experience there wasn’t positive. Perhaps a coffee house wasn’t the best bet for a hearty meal, but the “full size” salad and macchiato that I ordered were both disappointing. Even more sadly, I ended up purchasing another un-satisfying round of food + drink (large coffee and a cookie). After Macy’s, we visited Run Flagstaff and meandered around the town before meeting up with Josh, Mel, and A’s friend Rebecca for dinner at Diablo Burger.

Sunday’s 20-mile run (feat. Matt) took us on a few of the Fort Tuthill County Park trails, Flagstaff Urban Trail System trails, and around Northern Arizona University (A’s alma mater). Before I knew it, we were done and headed toward Whole Foods! After food and showers, I was able to relax, doze, and read before enjoying red wine with A, Rebecca, and Mel before heading out for the New Year’s Eve celebration. We started with dinner and drinks at Criollo (sharing fire roasted jalapeno bacon nachos, relleno vegetales, crispy plantains, all of which were delicious) and then enjoyed more libations at the Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge and Hops on Birch. Downtown Flagstaff was packed for the midnight Pine Cone Drop! We were tired, but managed to get some dancing in at The Green Room before walking 1.5 miles up hill to the house (passing on a $40 Uber drive). I fell into bed at 3:00am on New Year’s Day contentedly exhausted.

Despite sore feet and tired legs, I was excited to kick 2018 off with a run in Buffalo Park. I even earned karma points, finding and returning a dropped wallet during the 10-miler. I recovered from the run with a walk into town to meet up with the group for brunch at MartAnne’s. After a wonderful weekend running and meeting A’s friends, I felt sad packing for our departure and saying goodbye to everyone. Before I knew it, we were back on the 40 freeway, rolling down the hill toward Southern California.


A, G, Rebecca – NYE 2018! Missions accomplished.





Golden Snowflake Challenge Race Recap

Southern California saw snow this weekend! Okay, so it was in the form of medals and start line soap-snow, but it served the purpose of reminding us that we are in the throes of the holiday season. This race weekend was unique in that I was working and racing the event(s). The Holiday Half Marathon & 5K was purchased by a new company last year, but I was asked to manage an area of this year’s event. It required some pre-event work as well as on event weekend. The new management company okay’d me running both the 5K (Saturday) and half marathon (Sunday). I also roped Ben into coming to California for another double race weekend! The half marathon + 5K is called the Golden Snowflake Challenge.

Shirt and medal

After a semi-hectic Friday, Ben and I arrived in Pomona in the evening and finally had a chance to relax in preparation for the next two days. I lucked out and scored one of the staff hotel rooms at the host hotel for both nights. The festival/race location was a 5 minute walk away, so we didn’t have to worry about traffic or ridiculously early wake-up calls. On Saturday morning, after working from 6:00am until about 7:30am, Ben and I snuck off to squeeze a warm-up in before the 5K. I felt rushed and my legs felt heavy, so I wasn’t sure how much speed I’d be able to muster up for 3.1 miles. I’d completed a 20 x 400 workout on Wednesday, but still didn’t feel fully prepared to run a fast 5K. We made it to the start line right before the national anthem started and then we were off!

The first .25 meters or so are slightly downhill and I definitely feel like I cruised out too quickly. After a short, but challenging hill, I focused on settling into a fast, but sustainable pace. Almost from the start line, I fell into step with another female in a Dallas Baptist singlet and we stayed together for the first mile. Somewhere around the mile 1 marker, an older woman blazed past us, putting herself in the 2nd OAF position. That meant that I was racing Dallas Baptist girl for the 3rd OAF position… and $50.

Mile 2 was very slightly uphill and into a headwind, resulting in my slowest split of the race. Dallas Baptist and I continued to run side-by-side, both of us silent and breathing hard. I still felt good, but definitely wanted to cross the finish line and stop running so fast. We came through mile 2 and I was trying to gauge our effort levels and her potential ability to out-kick me. I checked my watch at about 2 1/2 miles and decided that it was go time. I gradually pulled away and tried to charge toward the finish line, which I finally crossed after 18:19. I put my hands on my legs, verified that my watch registered 3.1 miles, congratulated Dallas Baptist (her name is actually Rita and she was very nice), and went to find Ben. He finished in 18:01, updating both of our 5K personal records! After a short cool down, we went back to work until noon.

We found ourselves back in Long Beach on Saturday night for dinner and drinks with a few friends and while it wasn’t ideal before the next day’s 4:30am wake-up call, it was worth it. On Sunday, we were on-site at 5:00am to work for a few hours before again sneaking away at 7:45am for a warm-up before the half marathon. Annalise would be running the half marathon as well and joined us for the warm-up miles. We made it to the start line during the national anthem and at 8:00am, headed out for a trip around Bonelli Park!

Before the race, I told Ben that he could run whatever he wanted, but we ended up running the entire race together. Our first mile was on the fast side, so we cooled it during the second mile and tried to find a rhythm. This course is considered “hilly,” but none of the inclines and declines are very drastic. I started as the 5th or 6th woman back, but passed two women within the first 2 miles. Exiting the Fairplex right after the mile 3 marker, Ben and I were chatting and breathing easily. I was excited to run this course again – the first and last time I’d run the Holiday Half Marathon was in 2011, which was also the first time I ever won prize money!

Somewhere between miles 3 and 5, I ran into the 2nd place OAF position. We were still running smoothly and enjoying ourselves. We passed fellow ARECer Peter, saw GRRers Bryan and Andrea spectating, and received words of encouragement from course cyclist Lenny a few times. My buddy Chris also captured some fantastic photos of Ben and I!

I started to feel the effort and fatigue after charging up a hill near mile 10, but felt confident that I would finish strong. The stretch of road between miles 11 and 12 felt oddly difficult, like we were either running up a gentle incline or there was a headwind. I wondered what was going on, but then we turned into the Fairplex and onto the drag strip, and I felt much better. Our last mile was 6:00 and I felt solid running toward the finish line. As I neared the timing clock and saw 1:25:xx, I pushed extra hard to finish in under 1:26, but couldn’t quite make it.

After the finish, it was back to work! Post-race on Sunday was much more hectic than on Saturday, but we were headed back for a quick shower by 12:30pm. The rest of the day was spent relaxing before Ben’s flight home.

Reflecting on the race, I’m very happy with the effort and outcome. I feel like I ran well and could’ve run 3-4 more miles at that pace. I’m seeing the results of months of consistent training, and will continue building on it going into 2018. This race left me very excited for some of the bigger events that I have planned for next year, but also mindful of not becoming too eager and hurting myself.

“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently”

Bakersfield Marathon Race Recap

The work hectic-ness is subsiding (for now), so it’s about time I get this race recap up! I completed my second Bakersfield Marathon on November 12 and I am happy to report that it went very well.

Arriving in the ‘Field!

Chris and I drove straight to packet pickup at Buck Owens Crystal Palace upon arrival in Bakersfield. I went on a Wikipedia-search frenzy during the car-ride and learned that Owens’ and his band, the Buckaroos, pioneered the “Bakersfield sound,” a sub-genre of country music influenced by rock and roll. In contrast to the Nashville sound, the Bakersfield style used electric instruments and added a backbeat. Louisiana Swing is regarded as the first song of this sub-genre. Buck Owens and the Buckaroos succeeded in elevating the Bakersfield sound to become one of the most popular kinds of country music in the 1960s. But, how did Owens initially end up in Bakersfield? During a stint as a truck driver, he drove through the San Joaquin Valley and was impressed by Bakersfield, moving there with his wife in 1951.

Despite the Bakersfield Marathon being a smaller race (2000ish finishers), I was impressed by the expo. There were about 15 vendors and it was set up in a way which provided all of them with good exposure to expo-attendees. One of the local businesses was offering samples of delicious oatmeal balls and another vendor hooked me up with a free Gu packet (salted watermelon flavored, of course).

Since we had a few hours before we could check into our Air BnB rental, we toured the local mall. After we checked into the rental, we laid around and dozed before heading to dinner. I was in charge of sourcing the perfect pre-race eatery, and settled on La Fonda. Nestled in an auto mall and without a lit sign, finding it was a challenge. When we finally pulled into the parking lot, we knew it would probably be good – it was very busy! Chris ordered flautas and I polished off a beautiful plate of nachos.

+ ~1lb of spicy carrots.

Contentedly full and after a quick stop at Target for allergy medication, we hit the hay. I had a bit of trouble falling asleep at first, but slept well and woke up ready to race.


We found good parking very easily and hung out in the car before Chris had to go meet the pacers and get his sign. At 6:50am, I hit the porta potty one more time and jogged to the start line, which was in the same location as last year, on the CSU Bakersfield campus. The race organizers did a great job of fixing the inaugural-year issues, including a one hour start delay. At about 7:00am, we began our foot-tour of Bakersfield! I sat about 35 feet behind the 1:30 (half marathon) pacer and settled into my pace. I decided that I would keep him within striking distance until the half and full marathon course split at mile 8, and then just hold on from there.

Early in the race, I spotted last year’s female marathon winner, Ramona. Last year, I’d spoken with the woman who placed 2nd and reported in my race recap that “she had run step-for-step with the woman who won from miles 9 until .10 from the finish line and the other woman out-sprinted her for the win.” Apparently they didn’t exchange many words while running together and I remembered thinking “oh man, that sounds awful.” During this year’s race, I said something like “it’s a lot cooler this year than last – thank goodness!” to Ramona and she fell into stop behind/next to me. In fact, she seemed to be clinging on to me and I found myself fighting irritation. I realized that her strategy was to hang on to the 2nd place female and then run for place versus a specific time. As long as she stayed very close until near the finish line, she could easily take the win with a strong finish kick.

After ~3 miles of frustration, I stopped to fix my sock in an attempt to build a gap between us. I don’t enjoy the feeling of “racing” during marathons, especially in the earlier miles. We ended up side by side again and that’s when I decided to make the most of the experience. We started to chat more and I learned that she’d traveled from Reno for this race, but was originally from Mexico. In fact, I warmed up to her over the miles and really enjoyed the comfort of company for the last 5 miles. She was a very sweet lady!

As for the race effort itself, the pace felt fast, but my breathing was comfortable. Ramona and I tackled the giant hill going into and around Bakersfield College (miles 13-16) and struggled with course navigation as there were very few volunteers in this area. We watched a male runner slightly ahead of us get lost. I still felt good coming out and onto Panorama Drive (miles 16-18.5), but could feel the fatigue from the climb in my legs.

Ramona and I conversed while enjoying the views from Panorama Park. While I wasn’t looking forward to the riverbed section, I was happy to have made it to mile 20 feeling better than last year. I kept urging her to go ahead, but we continued to run side-by-side. My mantra for the final miles of any long-distance race is “just keep moving forward.”

Another improvement from the 2016 race was the finish line location. Instead of finishing on the narrow riverbed, we crossed a bridge and finished in a much larger area on campus. As soon as we turned left to cross the bridge, Ramona kicked it in. I trucked along and still had about .2 to go when I heard the announcer calling out 2:59:xx finish times (half and full marathon). I was too far to close quickly enough for a sub-3:00 finish and crossed the finish mat in 3:00:32 as the 2nd place overall female, and only 10 seconds behind Ramona. I put my hands on my knees and then received my hard-earned medal before the photographer snapped these lovely pictures of Ramona and me.









I got to meet Ramona’s husband and daughter, both of whom were very nice. I congratulated her on taking the win and then made my way to the car to change. With 50 minutes before Chris would finish, I took advantage of the free beer (1) and breakfast burritos. Thank you Broken Yolk Cafe for the delicious post-race meal (and sorry for increasing the average number of burritos/runner consumed). I ran into Ryan (3:05 Long Beach Marathon pacer and 3:08 Bakersfield Marathon pacer) and we recapped our races. After Chris finished and enjoyed a burrito, we walked around the campus in search of a locker room or gym with showers. Unsuccessful in our search, we left and began the trip home.