First is Worst…

10 Miles
Second Place Strides

First is worst, 
Second is best,
Third is the one…throwing a temper tantrum?

On Monday, the crew and I ran variations of the Laguna Hills Half Marathon, 10k & 5k.

The family that races together....ummm...gets up early together?

The family that races together….ummm…gets up early together?

First Is Worst
Leading up to the event was much dread, anticipation and hype regarding Strawberry running his 5k solo.  After much deliberating, coaxing and coaching…I decided to let him do it.  Mostly because it’s a small local race where he knows the course like the back of his hand and I know a lot of the volunteers.  But also because he was right, he could nail it.

While he didn’t run a PR, to pull off a paced 27 minute 5k solo was amazing.  He was so proud.  He even bumped into Monica on the course who kept him company for a while.  Mostly because gingers have to stick together.

Completely ganked pic from Monica.  Don't worry, I was the photog...

Completely ganked pic from Monica. Don’t worry, I was the photog…

His running solo was the worst….for me!  I was agonizing over it during my race.  Until I felt my phone on my arm (yes it was strapped to my arm) buzz around mile 4 indicating I had a text which I assumed meant one of the targeted friends/family grabbed him at the finish line (instead of a stranger), I was pretty mentally occupied with how he was doing, that and guilt for my behavior at the starting line (see third bold section).

Second is Best
Much to my shock, I pulled a 2nd place overall finish and a PR out of my behind yesterday morning.

Say what?  Who did that?

Say what? Who did that?

Clearly the field wasn’t super deep, so I was able to take advantage of this.  While I didn’t reach my goal of hitting the 42:xx mark – let’s face it, I was lucky to get the 43 and change given I have been basically running with zero speed work for…umm…about 2 months.

Things were peachy keen until about mile 4 when I started to bonk.  Realizing I was solidly in 2nd place didn’t help because I started to slow down a bit more there too easing back from the 6:40-6:50 pace I had been holding (hello 8 minute mile that snuck in there).

At mile 5.5 I asked the volunteer if there was a vomit cleanup ahead.  He laughed thinking I was joking but I was dead serious.  I had spent the whole time regretting the milk in my coffee that morning and whatever else was sloshing around my stomach.

At mile 6 I hated everyone and wondered why 10k’s were invented and why I hadn’t run the 5k and by mile 6.2 I was happy to see the smiling faces of the family at the end watching me gasp for breath like a 3 pack a day smoker climbing up 10 flights of stairs.

Vanilla also nailed a PR on his second race coming with a 32 minute 5k.  He was so thrilled.  We just stood around and kissed our medals to celebrate.  I also won a $15 gift card to Road Runner Sports, so it basically covered almost half my race entry.

IMG_3694

Third is the One Throwing a Temper Tantrum
While I have run races with my kids, I have never raced a race while they were running.  This, I learned, falls into the category of bad ideas.  Getting everyone up, to the starting line, while I’m in my jittery mood, was not quite what I expected and I was about as friendly as a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation.  So I may or may not have had a little outburst at the starting line.

My morning' s inspiration: old race coffee mug and a little Stevie Wonder

My morning’ s inspiration: old race coffee mug and a little Stevie Wonder

Long story short, I got everyone ready and jogged 1.5 miles to the start line and couldn’t find anyone as the race was starting.  So I kind of lost it and got snippy about answering cell phones, checking bags on time, etc…you know the important things in life.  Gah! Hindsight really is 20/20.  Whoops.  Luckily the family ignored it and brushed it off as exactly what it was- racetime jitters.

I eventually snagged Strawberry and got him in the 8 minute pace corral (and gave him a 5 minute lecture reminding him of all of the things he knows already) and hopped into my 7 minute part of the corral to set off to race and we all *mostly* survived.

What did you do this Memorial Day Weekend?

Would you ever race and play offensive coordinator for others on race day?

Griffith Park Trail 10k & Hollywood Rock Star Challenge

6.2 miles
Sore, Sorer, Sorest Strides

On Sunday I partook in the 2nd half of the Griffith Park Trail Series Rock Star Challenge by completing the Griffith Park Trail 10k.  You can complete the half marathon and/or 10k, but to be a true Hollywood Rock Star, you do both races with about 20 or so hours in between, no big deal.

I can think of some other things that result in the same amount of pain like – hanging by my toenails, sticking thumbtacks in my abdomen or walking on fire.  I’m mostly kidding.  Yes I’m so stinking sore – as sore as finishing a marathon – but it was also worth every minute.

The Summary (read here if you are intimidated by words):
I ran fast.  My legs felt like lead.  I questioned my sanity in doing back to back races like this.  I finished 5th woman overall and 1st woman who did both races.

They gave mugs to the top 10 overall finishers.

The Overview 
I’ve got a race recap of the half marathon coming up on Tuesday or Wednesday, but let me just say I can echo most of the same information – well run, started exactly on time, great food, great swag, great course support.  #winning

Pre-Race:  
I got there a bit early since I couldn’t sleep.  I tried to vlog, maybe some day I’ll show it, but mostly you’d just run in fear.

You know you’re early when they are setting up the finish line.

I got there about an hour before race time, grabbed my bib, went to my car and was generally crabby since I had slept about 2-3 interrupted hours.  #sociallyawkwardrunner

The Race:
The first thing I asked Keira (the race director) when I saw her was how hilly – she said one major hill and then mostly rolling hills.   I think our definitions of “rolling” are a little different, but not too much.  Right at the midway point there was a decent incline that was brutal, but the rest was mostly doable.

I saw a few really fast looking runners at the start line who said they were going to go about 6 minute miles.  I told them we could meet up and run sometime…like never.  Okay I didn’t say it, but did throw up a little thinking about running a 10k at a 6 minute/mile pace on muddy trails with big hills.

I went from 3rd place to 4th, then 5th and watched a woman pass me near the end at 6th place.  About 150 yards from the finish line I decided I wanted 5th and literally sprinted past her at the end.  Don’t worry I literally apologized as I passed her.  It’s rude to not apologize for passing, right?

Start/Finish Line

Post Race:
In the end I got my overall 5th place finish, I didn’t wear a watch or anything so I have no idea how fast I ran.  One guy pointed out that since I was the top female finisher who completed both races I was the ultimate Chick Hollywood Rock Star.

UPDATE:  Turns out I was the first person to complete both races.  Wahoo.

Me and my bling. The yellow medal was for finishing both races.

There was also some serious grub…egg and cheese sandwiches, Naked Juice stuff, etc.  I honestly could hardly walk and felt so sick to my stomach I really didn’t care too much.  My favorite was the volunteer who walked around with a giant box of powdered donuts asking runners if they wanted a post-race carbo load.  I was just happy to be done with the weekend of racing and started to waddle back to my car after eating a few bites of my sandwich.

But the weekend wouldn’t be replete without a picture with the race director Keira, who has built these races from the ground up and done an amazing job.  The races went so smoothly and literally foresaw any runner’s need.  I am so beyond impressed with this race series.

Keira and I

For a day that started with my legs feeling like bricks and ended with them hardly moving, the weekend was a massive racing success.  Apparently I’m not the snail I thought I was, and I learned a valuable lesson about really digging deep even when I don’t think I have it in me…even if I have to walk up hills from time to time.

Twas the Night Before Race Day

My non-running friends never understand why I want to go to bed at 4:30pm the day before a race and then complain about how little sleep I actually got.

‘Cause let’s face it, we’ve all been there before!  

Have you seen my sleepz? I can’t seem to find it…

‘Twas the night before race day, and I’m lying in bed
With all that could go wrong, running through my head.
My mind wouldn’t stop, Did I forget a shoe?
Where is my sports bra?  Will I be able to poo?

While other slumber easily, into restful sleep,
I lie awake wistfully hoping they won’t make a peep.
If they wake me up, I’ll curse and I’ll holler!
For this here said race cost me a pretty dollar.

I check my alarm for the fifty-eighth time,
As my thoughts drift back to the nasty 9th mile climb.
Did I train hard enough?  Did I run enough miles?
What crazies partake in running lifestyles?

Will it be windy?  Will it be cold? Will it be hot? Will it rain?
Will there be traffic?  Can I park?  I’m going insane!
What if trained for months and months at the wrong pace?
Is there a free beer tent at the end of the race?

And I know my race pics will look like crap,
But then I’ll finish and can just take a nap.
To make up for sleep I lost here tonight.
So happy race day to all and to all a good post-race night!

The Game Plan

50 minutes on the bike
Spinning Strides

As per my commitment – no running today.  I did get about 3 miles of walking in on Monday and then got a good solid 50 minute workout on the bike at my hotel yesterday.

Can I be a little honest (because clearly I hold back often)?

I’m super duper über nervous  about this weekend’s races.

On Saturday I’m tackling the Griffith Park Trails Half Marathon of which the course would best be described as gut wrenching brutal the most masochistic thing I’ve done in a long time.

See how much fun that looks?

In order to make this even MORE fun, I wake up on Sunday to run the Griffith Park 10k.

The Plan:

Saturday:  Training Run. period. This is a training run, not a race for me.  Since there are only about 400 runners doing this, I just want to take the time to enjoy a small race, check out the scenery and check out this bad boy:

Yep, part of the trails duck near the iconic Hollywood sign, overlooks the LA skyline, and Runyon Canyon – some of my favorite LA views.  In all likelihood, this will be the slowest half I’ve ever run.  And that’s okay.

Sunday:  Sunday Fun Day?  Depending on how much my legs hate me, I’ll likely push the 10k a little harder.  I say that now, and the truth is I’ll probably end up crawling all 7 miles. I have no idea how many runners or how fast that race should go, but I’m more comfortable pushing it on the shorter run.  I mean, who doesn’t feel more comfortable running faster on shorter runs.  There’s some serious logic, eh?

How would you handle back to back races?
Is my plan race smart or race stupid?

Holly Jolly Half Marathon

If you’ve been lurking around Striding Mom then you know I’m in the middle of my 12 half/full marathons in 12 months.  

Between the holidays and the 12 days leading up to Christmas involving the birthdays of 4 people I’m close to, December is a tough month to find a race.  I ended up with literally one morning available to make it happen and lo and behold it turns out there’s a race that works.

The Holly Jolly Half Marathon in Camarillo, CA on Sunday, December 16th.

Check out the super cute medals!

I emailed Bill the fabulous race director who connected me with a bib and I’m thrilled to participate in the race.  It’s a smaller local race run on a looped course (2 loops) which I’ve never done before, so I’m excited to check it out.  Plus as an added bonus, the start line is about 2 miles from a dear friend’s house, so I can drive up the night before

In addition, the race supports Toys for Tots which means you can’t go wrong.  Races and happy kids.  I’m excited for my bambinos to bring toys to the finish line!

It sounds like there’s a costume contest involved in the race as well.  I’ve never raced in costume, but let’s see if I will pony up and order some red compression socks to be festive or something like that.

Want to join me?  Check out Holly Jolly Half.

What races do you have coming up?
Have you ever dressed up for a race?

True Confession Thursday: Go To Your Happy Place

40 Minutes on the Elliptical
Swishy Swishy Strides

After Tuesday’s ankle fiasco, I opted to take it easy and hit the elliptical on Wednesday.

Have I ever mentioned what bad luck I have choosing machines at the gym?  I step onto one and it’s making a ca-thunk, ca-thunk sound.  Annoyed, I choose another machine.

Squeeeeaakk, Squeeeeakk with every step.

By this point I’m chuckling because everyone probably thinks I’m crazy (half true) and I find a 3rd machine.  Like Goldilocks, the third one was just right.

I hate the elliptical.  So I kept trying to channel my inner Happy Gilmore and go to my happy place.

Which got me thinking…what is my happy place?  I mean, I can often think of my little buttheads…

How can these faces not make anyone happy?

Honestly, the happiest place I found today came from this little note Vanilla colored and snuck up on the bulletin board in my room this morning.  He never told me about it, I just happened to find it when I printed something off for work and I know for certain it wasn’t there last night.  (Why yes I don’t know what day of the week it is, but I do know what is on my bulletin board.  This is normal, yes?)

Yes he can write his name, and no I cannot gracefully edit it out with my less than stellar paintbrush skills.

No matter how your slice or dice it, someone must have spiked my pre-race banana with happy pills on Sunday.  After last year’s bad picture debacle at Long Beach, there was nothing but smiles for miles on Sunday.

Who is that chick? I don’t seem to recognize her….
Photos from Brightroom.

In typical runnerd fashion, I actually noticed my near heel strike in the first photo before I realized I was actually smiling as I crossed the finish line.  And yes, photo #3 was at mile 8ish or so, and I was smiling then too.  But that’s probably because I was doing my best flamingo impression mid-race. I knew I should have worn my green shirt instead of pink.

What’s your happy place?

Long Beach Half Marathon Recap: Full of Surprises

13.1 miles
Surprising Strides

Long Beach 2012 has come and gone, but will not be forgotten.  Especially since my legs are sore enough to remind me that the race went a little quicker than I anticipated.

First off, let me tell you a story on how NOT to prepare for a race.  Saturday was a day of heat, sun and soccer.  I was not very good about eating (unless you count cupcakes and butternut squash ravioli with a salad) or hydrating.

Such a pretty sunset should have yielded a pretty night. Notsomuch.

My evening was uber stressful as somehow my children managed to break 2 glass plates and a full 1-liter bottle of balsamic vinegar on the kitchen floor.  And of course, they couldn’t happen at the same time, so instead of cooking and eating dinner, I spent 1.5 hours cleaning up glass and mopping up balsamic vinegar off walls, the carpet, garbage can, fridge, etc.

Words were exchanged (mostly me apologizing for totally losing my patience) and we all ended up in a pile of tears on the floor.  And I literally mean every last one of us sobbing in a puddle of emotion. I ate a craptastic “dinner”, couldn’t find my running stuff so I threw whatever I could find in a bag and figured the race would be what it was.

What time is it? Way the truck too early.

I stayed awake from midnight to 2am worrying about work and realized that I was going to have to do this with 2.5 hours of sleep.

Luckily I met up with some fab ladies at 5am.  Sarah, Kristina and I carpooled up to Long Beach listening to the aptly named “Wake the Shizzle Up” playlist.

After waiting in line for the bathrooms repeatedly (not kidding I went 3 times) we happened to bump into this little lady.  That super sneaky Monica was doing a surprise marathon.  She looked a little nervous, but totally killed it and got a new PR.

We eventually hopped the fence into the first corral and took super awkward photos.    I’m sure no one was annoyed at all by us doing either of those things.

Sarah and I. I’m pretty sure I took a better picture than this after giving birth.

I took off with the intentions of running 8-8:15 minute miles.  After the first 7:40ish I realized I need to pull back, but apparently didn’t.  I don’t know.  Remember when I said I couldn’t find anything.  That meant my watch.

 I had no idea how idea how fast I was really running most of the race.  I just followed my body’s lead and around mile 8 I was feeling like hot stuff and turned up the heat.  Around mile 9.75 I met up with Sarah and we kicked it for a few miles.

At mile 11 I realized I could pull a PR out of my butt if I ran 7:30 miles for the last two.  Turns out, that I could run one 7:30 minute mile and I coasted through the last one finishing with a time of 1:41:01.  1 second slower than my previous PR.  You can imagine how happy I am about that 1 second.  I’m still pretty surprised by the pace – I was really expecting that “listening to my body” would put me around a 1:50ish pace.

1st tapped keg PR!  Between that and the ProCompression socks we were well on our way to recovering.

Kristina ran her 2nd fastest race ever with a super speedy 1:34 something and Sarah busted out a 1:41:41 shattering her PR.

After the race Sarah and I found out we both reached a new type of PR when we went to the beer area and got beer from the first tapped keg.  I mean, if you run fast enough to get your beverage out of the first keg then, hey, you know you must’ve hauled it.  This the PR that matters.

Speaking of beer, kids, let’s learn a little lesson here…don’t mix yogurt and beer.  Why I thought this was a good idea post-race is beyond me.  My stomach hated me for the rest of the day.

Fun times.

As I’ve said before, Long Beach is my favorite local race.  I just love the course.  From miles 2-4 I couldn’t hear anyone talk, but was surrounded by the sound of pounding feet like a herd of angry elephants taking the Port of Long Beach by storm.  It was darned near breath taking.

A well staffed, stocked and supported course along the beach is just fine by me :)

Tell me about your races this weekend.
Any PRs?