While I have been running and racing, I clearly haven’t been writing! Below is a summary of recent races:
After last year’s incredible race
, I was sad to only be able to jog the half marathon this year. Though I did get to enjoy the race weekend energy, I didn’t feel very much energy during the actual run. In fact, I started with Frank and Annalise and started to fade only halfway through slogging into the finish line in 1:41:xx
. After nearly 3 months of shitty running due to injury, I had zero expectations, but it was difficult not to reminisce about the year before.
I’m not sure if it was the amazing mahi burger and sweet potato fries that I devoured after the race, or whether my body decided it was finally on board with getting back into shape, but I surprised myself with a solid progression run the following Tuesday. I progressed from 8:00+ min/mile to low 6’s, and really good and strong. It left me hopeful for future races!
A group of ARECers usually gets together for this race and it didn’t take too much persuading for me to join the fun. A beautiful course, lots of hills, and plenty of wine post-race… sign me up. I even convinced Annalise to run it!
We arrived on race morning to a very cold race start. It took a mile or 3 for my toes to finally warm up, but it was worth it. The first half of the race is comprised mainly of up, and I found myself questioning whether I could keep my pace for the entire 13.1 miles. I had been trailing the 1:30 pacer until that point, but didn’t care to close the gap as my legs grew more fatigued. Finally, we reached the top and were rewarded with amazing views of hot air balloons and sprawling vineyards. I let loose and began to chase, and then pass the pacer. I felt a lot better than during the first half, likely due to the downhill. I knew that there would be another climb around mile 10 and just held on until then. That little hill felt… huge, and the headwind didn’t help. I passed a woman to put myself as the lead female and just ran hard until the finish.
I’d hope to run sub 1:35 and ran 1:28
, so I was surprised and pleased. I hadn’t done any speed work and a sparse amount of hill work, so I once again felt a spark of hope. I won a $100 gift card to a local running store, a $50 gift card to Road Runner Sports, a free race entry, and a few other goodies. After the race, our group hung out and drank too much wine at the post-race party. We then visited Ponte
winery for more vino and food. Annalise and I visited the running store and I used my gift card to buy some shoes. I’d had a great race, earned some sweet prizes, drank wine with friends in beautiful Temecula… it was a great Sunday!
Running this 5K was a very last-minute decision, but it was close, easy and free. I knew the event well as it was a Run Racing event. The 5K course is a flat out-and-back in the neighborhoods of Rossmoor. While it is a smaller family-friendly race, good prize money and Brooks shoes attracts a handful of very fast runners. In fact, all of the top-3 females ran under 17:00 and all of the men sub-15:00. My goal for this race was to run hard and fast, and to feel the hurt of a 5K again. The first mile was my fastest, which I almost never do, but I really surprised myself with a finish time of 18:37
! Having done virtually no structured speed work since June, I was extremely pleased to hold 6:00 min/miles for 3.1 miles.
I decided to switch it up with a longer trail race, receiving an email the week of the event and signing up 2 days prior. I’d run through Limestone Canyon before, so I knew the views would not disappoint during the 25K. The area is actually closed to the public except for during open access days each year, and for this race. This meant it was just those participating in the event and any wildlife on the trails. Annalise decided to join the fun and we once again placed 1st and 2nd
overall females! The views were definitely beautiful and the course was challenging. Around mile 10, two deer bounded across the trail!
I ended up winning $150 for the 1st place finish + $50 for a course record + a free pair of Hoka One One shoes (decided on these
). We hit Hopdoddy Burger Bar
in Tustin after the race and I enjoyed another delicious mahi burger + sweet potato fries. This seems to be my favorite go-to post-race meal.
This was another last-minute decision 5K, but 1) I could do the 5K / half or full marathon turnaround that I’d had success in here
2) the course included views of the ocean + hills, 3) the entry was free. The decision wasn’t terribly difficult! Chris would be leading the 5K on his back, so we planned to head directly to Bakersfield after the race. My strategy was simply to run another hard 5K, but the hill in last mile made this race extra hard. I felt like I slowed down to 7:00+ minute pace up that hill, but ended up with a 6:24 final mile (6:11, 6:60, 6:24). It was 30+ seconds slower than School Ghoul 5K, but on a much tougher course. Overall, I was happy with the effort and a 19:13
I later learned that they had a hill challenge within the half marathon: $500 for the fastest male and female split up the hill. The woman who won the challenge and the half marathon destroyed the incline, running a 1:42 to the lead male’s time of 2:00. If this race isn’t the day before Bakersfield next year, I’d consider running the half and going for that challenge!
People always have the same reaction when I tell them how much I enjoy this race. “Bakersfield? Why there?” There are a few reasons that I return each year, one of which is the course itself. Starting and finishing at CSU Bakersfield, it basically takes runners through the more interesting parts of the city like downtown Bakersfield, the financial district, around the local high school, through Garces Circle, by a few of the city’s historical landmarks and other areas. I especially enjoy miles 13 – 20 which include a 3 mile climb up to Bakersfield College, followed by a few miles along a bluff (Panorama Drive) with nice views. A surprising number of residents come out to cheer, hand water out, play music, and support the participants.
Another reason that I enjoy this race is its logistical ease – arriving, parking and getting to the start line are all easy and quick. Race morning was typical: arrive, eat, pee and poop, wait, drink water, pee and poop again, and shiver at the start line for a few minutes before being released. I started with the 1:30 (half marathon) pace and felt comfortable, but cold, for the first 10 miles. I was on my own after mile 7.5 and slowed my roll a bit to keep myself in check. I was running as the 1st OAF and didn’t want to lost that position by running too fast, too early. The miles ticked by, my legs felt strong, and my breathing was controlled. My feet started to hurt early in the race, but I think it’s due to the lack of support of my “race” shoes. I’d eaten a large dinner and hearty breakfast, so I didn’t feel the need to fuel until mile 16, but I think that was what caused the nauseation which set in around mile 20. Any time I tried to speed up, even slightly, I felt like I was going to vomit. I was still running at a decent clip, but had to settle on maintaining it.
I’m not sure how I feel about this race and how it played out. While I do feel like my marathon was abbreviated and that I lacked the depth of fitness that running a strong marathon requires, I also knocked out some killer workouts included a 20 mile run with 10 hard in the middle and a 9-miler at a smooth-feeling 6:37 pace. My weekly mileage was decent, but slightly lower than in the past. I’m still looking for the balance of mileage and speed that works the best for me, but I learned a lot while cram-training for this event.
I do know that I’m disappointed in how good my legs felt and how aerobically fit I felt throughout, but that my stomach ended up being the limiting factor. Was it that I waited too late to take a gel in? I was drinking water every other aid station, sometimes skipping too, but maybe that wasn’t enough? It didn’t get too warm or sunny, so I don’t think I overheated. Was I dehydrated going into it? This has happened during a few other races, usually longer ones where I’m working hard. I’m going to try different brands of gels, but might have to go back to blocks or some other source of intra-race energy.
Despite running a less-than-ideal race, I took the W in the women’s division with a 3:02:39
and added $750 to my bank account. It was also my second fastest marathon (*I no longer count the 2:56 on a downhill course as my PR*), so I can’t be too disappointed. Plus, there were unlimited freshly-made breakfast burritos at the finish line! Who can be disappointed in that?
Random pictures from all races: