Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Running in Review

I felt like I make a running comeback in 2014. While the first half of 2013 was pretty decent, the latter half was spent moving back across the country from Georgia to California, figuring out how to manage a 100-mile roundtrip commute each day, actually having a social life, and how the heck was running supposed to fit in there? In 2014, though off to a slow start, I feel like I was finally starting to figure it all out.

Total running miles: 757
Race miles: 206.6
Races: 23

8 half marathons
7 5Ks
3 trail 5-milers
2 Ragnars
1 10K
1 mud run
1 trail 3-miler

26.2 race miles

I got my butt handed to me at the Citrus Heritage Race...

...and a week later rocked Rock 'n Roll Arizona to earn my Desert Double Down challenge medal and changed my perceptions of the Rock 'n Roll race series. And had a blast with some running girlfriends.

3.1 race miles

Ran 5K number two of three for the Chino Triple Crown race series at the Run for Russ, and saw Doug run his first sub-30 5K!

3.1 race miles

Completed the Triple Crown with an age group award at the Dairy Aire 5K.

39 race miles

I ran an almost-marathon over three legs at Ragnar So Cal and realized that if I could handle that while so undertrained, I was totally ready to tackle the idea of marathon #2.

And then got my butt handed to me again at the Run for Redlands. Half marathon #14 in the books.

3 race miles

Ran my first trail race - a tad over 3 miles, but loved the challenge, despite how hot it was. And managed an age group award to boot!

21.9 race miles

The highlight of the year: running my first sub-2 half marathon at Fontana.

Ran the first race of the summertime three-part 5-mile trail series. Felt tired, but invigorated and challenged and ready for the next two.

And then having a blast at the Summer of Mud run with Doug, completing 18+ obstacles over just under four miles.

5 race miles

Hated the second race of the trail series! Questioned why I signed up to begin with.

8 race miles

Massively PRed the last race of the summer series, thought that trail running wasn't as bad as I thought, and maybe one day I'll sign up for more.

Had a blast at the Neon Run, covered in glow paint and rockin' glow sticks like it was 1994 all over again.

29.4 race miles 

Earned double medal status, Gold Rush style, for completing Ragnar Napa (+ So Cal) in the same year. Ran over a marathon in a 100+ heat index and knew that a marathon was surely coming up in my future.

Finally broke 26 minutes on my 5K time at the St. Pauls Harvest Festival 5K, good for a new PR by 1:02, and age group award.

29.3 race miles

Paced a friend to a nearly 5-minte PR at Long Beach, happily chatting nearly the entire way. It was my first experience pacing a friend, and I had a blast!

Trained with and cheered my dad along to his second 5K finish ever at the Rose Bowl, along with Molly who set a puppy PR.

Ran my first solo 2-hour half marathon at Rock 'n Roll Los Angeles, and earned my Rock Encore medal for two RnR races in one year.

6.2 race miles 

Celebrated Doug's first 10K ever, who crushed my first 10K time and loves to remind me of that.

32.4 race miles

Returned to the Reindeer Romp to place third in my age group.

Took on the Lexus Lace Up 5K with my dad, to kill my age group and take first out of 33 competitors and finish 11th female overall!

Ran the inaugural Santa Hustle Half Marathon on a pancake-flat course that did me in, but got a free trip to Knotts Berry Farm out of it.

Rocked the San Diego Holiday Half, completing another half in 2 hours (and 22 seconds). At least 2 hours is now the consistent!

An amazing year in the end, though off to a seemingly rocky, uncertain start. This year, despite its challenges, has brought me back to running and  I think has helped emphasize how much I need it in my life - for balance, for relief, for sanity, for fun.

I'm looking forward to focusing again in 2015 - after all, I've got some new states to conquer, marathon #2 (and maybe three, or four?) to tackle, and so much more to look forward to. I'm excited. I'm ready!

Happy Running New Year!

Catch the New Year's Race on Univision (Los Angeles)!

Helloooo from the top of LA! I mean, not quite, but it felt like I was there, up above the streets and on the same level as the Staples Center. Pretty cool - and COLD! 

I was out in downtown early this morning recording a TV piece with some of the fabulous New Years Race crew for tomorrow morning's Despierta America on Univision! It airs at 7 am, so make sure you catch it!

We were part of a whole show about New Years - duh - complete with confetti poppers, sparkling cider, talking about resoluations and wishes for the new year, and a mock party to play in. All in a morning's work!

At least I got to put some of my (basic) Spanish abilities to use - thankfully, we all weren't interviewed, but I at least was able to pick up on enough phrases and key words that I remember from my high school and college Spanish classes to get the jist of what segment we were on. And that I could clap along when one man's wish for 2015 was paz en el mundo (peace on earth). Boom. I got this!

Amazing NYR ladies!

All of us!
Regular registration with my promo code (NYRMegan15) is now good until 1/1. Use the code and it's good for $15 off the half marathon, which is pretty phenomenal - and you can join our nighttime running party through downtown LA on Saturday night. This is LA's only nighttime half marathon, so you better believe it's going to be a party like none other!

new years race promo code

I hope we get to see you there - and if not, at least check us out on Despierta America in the morning!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Race Recap: San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon
December 28, 2014 | San Diego, CA

I've run some fairly impromptu races (re: like a week or maybe a handful of days out), but have hardly registered for a half marathon less than 15 hours before gun time. Adventure is the spice of life, right?

A few weeks back, Doug had contemplated getting tickets to the Holiday Bowl (Nebraska v. USC) on Saturday night, being that they are pretty much his two favorite college teams. I had mentioned that the Holiday Half was the next morning, and I'd love to make New Years Race my half #20, I just wasn't sure I'd squeeze one more in after the Santa Hustle. But we wanted to get through Christmas before he decided to get tickets or not, even with how badly he wanted to go. Finally, on Friday night, he bought tickets and we planned our Saturday adventure down to San Diego. Thankfully, it's not far (90 minutes or so). Not even 20 minutes before we were trying to leave on Saturday, he texted with the suggestion of staying the night and using our Sea World annual passes one more time - okay, cool. Five minutes later, it was also, "Hey, maybe we can get you signed up for that race, too..."

Fun fact: the race was sold out and they were offering 50 bibs at packet pick up, first come, first serve. We left home at 3, and made it down to packet pick up about 4:45 -- with plenty of bibs to spare! Hooray!

I kept quiet because I wasn't really sure I'd make it, but when I Instagrammed this photo, no one should have been that surprised that I was running yet another race in the morning. I mean, that's only my fourth race in December (second half marathon)... I'm not that addicted, swear. 

The race start was at a random Albertsons center parking lot and literally followed Highway 56 the entire distance from the 15 freeway to the beach. The course is minimally on city roads, but for at least 10 miles it, it is on the bike path that parallels the highway. 

The race was set to kick off at 7:30. Doug dropped me off at the start just about 7 am, where I tried to get into the porto lines (to no avail) and jumped into the Albertsons to get a little warmer. I ran into a friend from SDSU, Brittany, who I had also run into during Ragnar Napa. Just before 7:30, I headed out to find Richard and friends... and then we waited... and waited... and finally, just before 7:50, we finally got started! It was cold, mind you, so we were all just ready to get warm already.

Endless skies on the Highway 56 bike path. 
The course is primarily rolling downhill, with one solid hill in the first mile and then some smaller ones as we crossed highways. This leg, or at least the majority of it, is the same as a leg on Ragnar So Cal, with the exact same ending location too.

I had run 8 miles with the IERC on Saturday morning, so I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to truly race this one, but figured I'd make good of a steady downhill course and see what I was made of. I stood behind the 1:55 pacer at the start (mostly because I couldn't make sense of the 'corrals' otherwise) and thought I'd give it a shot. After a little cluster at the start line, the front 1:55 pacer took off and ticked off mile 1 in the 8:30s. Um... no. That's not going to work for 13 miles!

I settled in to continue doing my own thing and see what good I could do. I knew Doug would be at the mile 5 spectator point, so I wanted to push hard through mile 5 and re-assess from there. The course allows for two spectator points along the way (and more, if your spectators get creative) and at the finish line. He planned to be at mile 5 and then to book to the finish and wait for me there.

My 10K mark was just over 55, so just over a 10K PR and I still felt pretty decent at that point. I had walked a bit in mile 6 to take off my long sleeves and get re-settled (I'm glad I wore layers), so I knew that ate up quite a bit of my time. Based on how I felt, I could have chugged along pretty well.

Mile something. 
Somewhere around mile 7, another 1:55 pacer caught up to me. We played tag for a bit, and I asked him about the end of the course because a woman at the start had told me the whole finish was uphill. He confirmed that it wasn't, and if there was, it wasn't any worse than the freeway overpass we were just about to cross. Solid, I can do that. I let him pass me after awhile and continued to just push on. My legs weren't as tired as I thought they should have been, but it was getting warmer than I thought (still only 60 or so).

When I crossed the 10-mile marker just about 1:31, I knew I'd have to push a little harder to stay under a 2-hour goal. If I could get to that on day-before-8-mile-legs, I'd be happy with where I was and what I am doing with marathon training. At the end of mile 11, they send you out on a little arm, so you see everyone double-back by the mile 12 flag, which is just torture. I think it was in mile 10ish that the first 2:00 pacer started to get hot on my heels, and he became my bunny the rest of the race. Even though I knew I started before him, I just had to finish before him and I'd be happy. I walked the u-turn of the arm, and he was such a great cheerleader every time I passed him, he'd say "Good job!" "Almost there!" I appreciate pacers who are there to enjoy it and encourage others just as much as they are to run. Thanks, guy!

I picked it up as much as I could and cruised into the finish, high-fiving Doug before I made it. Richard caught me at the end and got me some great photos with the finish line.

Dude's face in this photo kills me. 
A final finish of 2:00:22, good for 59th in my age group of 181 (holy wow). I'm happy, though now disappointed (like always) that I walked those three times, and could have done even better... maybe even PRed. Overall, my splits were fairly consistent, but you can see where I got the better of myself and backed off a little much or puttered out:

I love when this guy's at the finish line! 
The finish line food area was super crazy and not at all in order, so I grabbed a mylar blanket off the ground before I started shaking any harder. I waited (not so patiently) for the food line to grab a banana and some snacks, and then made my way back to the road where Doug had gone to find the car. 

Overall, I'm glad I made this half #19. There were a few things I'd change, but overall, not too shabby. I wish I had gotten to meet Carlee finally, but you can read her PR-encompassing recap here and all about her speedy self! Way to go girl!

The Good
- Great shirts! Can't wait to wear mine!
- Easy packet pick up
- PR-able course, even with those rolling hills
- Awesome bling 
- Who doesn't love running in San Diego and finishing at the beach?

The Ugly
- Disappointing disorganized start with no communication as to why
- Corrals that didn't really seem to be corrals... again, not organized
- Parking lot chaos (glad I didn't take the bus)

It is only the second year of this race, so I try and bear that in mind. Aside from the start line disorganization, I had a very positive experience and am glad I made it to get one of the last 50 bibs! Thanks SDHH! 

Did you run this race this year? Your thoughts?

On Being Behind

Hi strangers!

I am so far behind on all things blogging related - I mean, I ran 4 races in December and haven't told you about a single one of them! Blogger fail. But let's be real. I had a kick ass December. I'm really planning on getting a race cap or two done here (at least for Sunday's half), but in the meanwhile, I'll tell you what I've been up to (or you can always follow me on Instagram, because then you'll be more likely to know!). ;) But as you'll see in my mostly-photos-recap of the last four weeks, it's been craaaaaazy... and real fun.

December started with the Reindeer Romp, a local 5K that we ran last year and plan on running for the next few years, if only to collect their awesome ornaments. Not a PR, but a solid showing (26:10) and good for 3rd in my age group. 
The named reindeer changes every year so you can eventually collect them all!
 And then Doug's high school football team won their CIF championship game that night!

I got my championship fill that weekend, too, as Dad and I ventured to the 2014 MLS Cup to watch our LA Galaxy be the #FirsttoFive MLS Cups. My first Cup game and our team won, to boot! 

The following weekend was December Epic Adventure Weekend #1, the only (mostly) planned one of the month, and we figured a great way to end the year. On Saturday, Dad and I ran the Lexus Lace Up 5K (thanks, GroupOn!) - a super tough course but a 25:31 finish, good for a 1st age group win, which hasn't happend in a loooong time. I was also 11th female overall!

Later that day, Doug and I headed to KROQ's annual Almost Acoustic Christmas show - it's now a 2-day show, and we snagged tickets to an amazing night one: New Politics, Royal Blood, Walk the Moon, Bush, Fall Out Boy, System of a Down, Linkin Park, Incubus and Rise Against. A-MAZ-ING.

The next morning, I got up and raced again! This time, the Santa Hustle Half Marathon. Santa Hustle is new to the west coast and I was lucky enough to earn a free entry through its ambassador program. Doug ran the 5K while I chatted with Natalie for 2:17:39. A totally and completely flat course, which I'm finding is more challenging than rolling hills. After the race, we spent all day playing at Knotts Berry Farm (the half marathon registration comes with park tickets!).

The following weekend (are you tired yet, because I am) we headed to Vegas for Doug's big 30th birthday! He wanted to go all out, so 7 of us headed out for the weekend, complete with club tour, gourmet steakhouses and all the fun. Happy 30th, babe!

Christmas, of course, came and went. We spent Christmas Eve and the next morning at my aunt's house in Big Bear (so a semi-white Christmas!) and then I finished Christmas Day at Doug's. I love having so many places to go, but man! It's tiring, too.

And then this past weekend was an impromptu December Epic Adventure Weekend #2: having one last lunch with my sister and sending her off to the airport back to New York, the Holiday Bowl on Saturday night, running a half marathon on Sunday morning that I signed up for on the way to the Holiday Bowl, and then killing the rest of the day at Sea World to end the year of our annual passes.

Epic month. I'm tired. Race recaps coming soon, I promise, as I get ready to kick off a new year with this blog! More on that coming soon!

Was your December as craaaaazy as mine?