Bay to Breakers 2018 Race Report

b2bMy first race of the year was Bay to Breakers! I’ve wanted to run this race for awhile now, and I figured this would be a good year to do it, with me living in California and my sister living in Oakland. Since I’ve been in Los Angeles for business school these last (almost) two years, I haven’t been able to run regularly and my pace is now nowhere close to where it used to be. I miss running fast and can’t wait until I can start running regularly again!

I signed up for Bay to Breakers back in November after having run three races that month, determined to train better for this race. I, of course, couldn’t resist signing up for the inaugural Breakers Bonus 3k, making the race a 15k!  I managed to work my way up a few up to 6-6.5 mile training runs and figured that it’d be sufficient for a 9.3 mile run.

Anyway, so I flew up to the Oakland Airport on Saturday morning, had lunch with my sister, and then took the BART to downtown San Francisco to pick up my race packet from the expo. I spent $18 to purchase a ride on the Express Downtown Shuttle to get from the finish back to the start, where I would be able to hop back on the BART to Oakland.

Morning: I didn’t sleep terribly well at the airbnb– no surprise, I usually don’t sleep very well the first night anywhere and especially not before a race! I woke up at 6am, got dressed, and ran to Starbucks. It ended up taking a little longer than I planned because I went the wrong way, lol. It’s hard figuring these things out before I have any caffeine in the morning! I had half a bagel, half a banana, and some Justin’s honey peanut butter for breakfast. It was probably around 7:20am and 54 degrees by the time I left the house. The temperature felt pretty good, but I was concerned it’d be windy and overcast in San Francisco, so I went with my tights and quarter-zip long-sleeved top. I ran the 0.8 miles to BART. From there, it was only a 10-15 minute ride to the Embarcadero stop. I was excited to see other runners in costumes (I know, I should have dressed up!) also on the train.

When I got off the train and got to the ground level, I was surprised to see that it was actually sunny! While slightly concerned about it being too warm, I couldn’t help but also feel somewhat pleased. I’ve been really lucky that it’s been sunny every time I’ve visited San Francisco!

20180521_175344Pre-race: I was assigned to Corral C, but decided to go to Corral D instead based on an estimated pace between 10:00 to 11:00-minute miles. Seconds after walking into the corral, I saw my first naked runner just standing there, waiting for people to take photos with him. I was expecting to see some naked runners at the race and it was just as awkward as I imagined, lol. I just avoided eye contact and quickly moved my way up. It was probably 5-10 minutes 20180520_083505before 8:00am when I got to the corral, because shortly after, the announcer was getting the runners in Corral A riled up to start and tortillas started flying through the air. I was pelted 5x on the head with tortillas! The announcer split up each corral into 2 groups, so, according to my Garmin, it was 8:39AM when I finally started the race.

Miles 0-4: The start was slow. There were a lot of people and it took some weaving to 20180520_090927actually run. I was aiming to maintain between a 10-11 minute/mile pace, but mostly going by how I felt. After the first mile, there’s a slight incline, but then when you get to mile 2, it gets really steep on Hayes Street Hill for about 2/3 of a mile (average grade of 5.5%, steepest grade 11%). I may have stopped 1-2 times to walk before deciding that I should try to run slowly. Along that street, there were lots of people that were dressed up having house parties.

There’s a short downhill after Hayes Street to finish off mile 3, followed by a small incline and minor changes in elevation during mile 4.

Miles 4.1-7: At the start of mile 4 was Golden Gate Park! I was pretty excited to get to the park– from there, it’s mostly downhill AND there are some cool sights. I’ve been to Golden Gate Park before, but it turns out there’s some cool stuff that I missed during my previous visits. At this point in the run, my pace actually had started to pick up and I was feeling pretty good, but I decided to stop to take pictures and refill my hand-held water bottle.

20180520_092755Conservatory of Flowers

20180520_094026Rainbow Falls

20180520_095308Bison Paddock

Miles 7.1-9.3:  Shortly after starting mile 7, the large windmill comes in sight. I regret not stopping to take a photo of it! The split for the 15k runners occurs probably around mile 7.4 when you hit the water– 12k to the right and Breakers Bonus to the left. From there,20180520_101334 we ran along the ocean– it was sunny but a bit windy, with no trees or buildings to slow the wind. Whenever the wind would stop for a moment, I would feel too warm, but then the wind would blow again and it’d feel fine. Great ocean views though! There were a lot less runners and spectators at this point, and although I was keeping a decent pace, my feet were growing tired of hitting the pavement and I walked some in miles 8 and 9. The finish felt good– my watch says the last 0.34 miles were run at a 9:37 pace.

20180520_161455Post-race: I felt pretty good at the finish, although it didn’t take long to start feeling cold from the wind! After getting both of my medals, I managed to get some yogurt, flaxseed milk (not that good), and sparkling watermelon water before I gave up on the crowds and headed for the shuttle. Getting on the shuttle was a pretty easy process– they had lines of buses waiting to pick people up, so the wait wasn’t too long. There was some traffic getting downtown, so it was a 40 minute ride on the shuttle and then a short walk to BART. While waiting for the train, I saw a girl in a costume that was throwing up in a trash can while her boyfriend (in a matching costume) held her hair and comforted her. I’m going to guess they didn’t run, ha. It was almost noon by the time I emerged out of the 19th/Broadway BART station to meet with my sister for a post-race lunch at Montclair Egg Shop!

Since this is the first 15k I’ve raced, it’s technically a PR. Wohoo! I’ve indicated below when I stopped for pictures during my mile splits.

Bay to Breakers 2018 photo wpSplits:
10:20
10:31
12:50 –> Hayes Street Hill
10:44
11:37 –> Conservatory of Flowers & water refill
9:41 –> waterfall
11:14 –> bison
10:37 –> ocean view
11:09
3:15 (0.34 miles)

Bay to Breakers + Breakers Bonus (15k)
May 20, 2018
Official time: 1:45:26
Pace: 11:19/M
Overall: 1420/2294
Gender: 453/927

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Malibu HM 2017 – Race Report

Another half marathon in the books! This experience was VERY different from my other races, primarily because I was unprepared. My running has been intermittent during business school (I’m now in my 2nd year as a full-time MBA student at UCLA). I’ve only run 4 miles here and there at a pretty slow pace. According to my Nike Run Club app, I ran 6.6 miles in April, but, well, that was over 6 months ago!

I meant to downgrade to the 5k, but missed that deadline, so I decided to run anyway. How bad could it be?

PRE-RACE: Woke up at 4:45am. Thanks to daylight savings, it felt more like 5:45am! I ate a Dean & Deluca Matcha and Espresso Bar and a banana. Weather check: 58 degrees in Malibu. Headed out at 5:15am to make the drive and arrived around 6:00am, 1 hour before the start time. I pre-paid for parking ($5) and found a spot in the third lot. Used the porta potty, went back to my car, and stripped down to my short-sleeved shirt and shorts. It’d be around 60 degrees by race start and I could see that the clouds were starting to clear up. Uh oh, I want the clouds!

MILES 0-6.5: It was slightly chilly at the start of the race, but I knew that I would heat up quickly, especially seeing that the sun was coming out! I lined up between the 2:15 and 2:30 pacers, which meant a start in the second wave. By the time I started running, the sun was already out. I was already feeling hungry!

The first half was really not bad at all. There was a hill that I partially walked, but otherwise, I felt comfortable. The views of the Pacific Ocean were quite nice, as we were running along the PCH. I was, however, getting hungry, and started picking up a pretzel at each water stop. It was also pretty hot. I was regretting the choice to wear a short-sleeved– should have stuck to the no-sleeve shirt!

Around the half-way point, there were Honey Stingers available– yes!!  I refilled my water bottled, walked, and finished my Gold Honey Stinger.

Miles 6.5-13.1: Shortly after the half-way point, my ankles started bugging me. Ugh, I blame the hard roads! I’ve been hiking more than running, so I’ve been spoiled by the soft dirt from the trails. I also wore my Brooks Caldera (trail running shoes), which probably were more suited for the trails than for the roads. Also, as the race is an out-and-back, once you hit the second half, you’re facing the sun. In summary, it was hot, my ankles hurt, and I was hungry.

20171107_135312 malibuThe rest of the race was really just me trying to force myself to run, despite my ankles bothering me.  I kept reminding myself that the sooner I finished, the sooner I could eat. Although another part of me thought, I might as well walk– it’s not worth the ankle pain. At some point, the 2:30 runners passed me while I was walking. I thought about running with them, but decided I was cool with walking, haha.  I was really dragging in the last 2-3 miles, although, in the last mile or so, there were sections of the road with a dirt shoulder, which felt MUCH better on my ankles.  I really should look more into trail racing again! While some of the runners around me seemed very tired, I was mostly just annoyed with my ankle pain and wanted to be done.

20171108_062008.pngI managed to run the last 0.1 miles of the race, but up until that point, I did a ton of walking. I felt pretty lame, but I knew it was probably better for me to take it easy!

POST-RACE: After getting my medal, I picked up water, a slice of watermelon, some coconut water, and a chocolate milk. I didn’t stick around too long– I was really looking forward to the leftover Ethiopian food in the fridge at home!

Officially, my slowest half-marathon! I think it’s my slowest pace for any race, lol. I don’t think I’d run another half marathon again without at least getting up to 6 miles. I’ve actually got three more races before the end of the year, so maybeI can redeem myself!

Malibu Half Marathon
Date: 11/05/17
Time: 2:43:38
Pace: 12:29
Division (F30-34): 172/221
Gender: 957/1271
Overall: 1561/1983

RNR Dallas HM – Race Report

After 12 weeks of training, I PR’ed at the RNR Dallas Half Marathon!! My previous PR was from May 2013, so I was feeling the pressure to beat my time. My training was modified from a 16-week FIRST training plan and I signed up for 5 other half marathons as training runs! My training wasn’t perfect– I got sick once, had some ankle pain after one of the races, and had a strained hamstring after doing yoga a day after a race. I might not be a seasoned runner, but I’ve come to expect these types of obstacles!

PRE-RACE: Race start was at 8am, and since Michael had come up with me to Dallas for the race, I was able to sleep in until 7am!  My weather app had predicted 54-55 degrees during the race, so I made this insane last minute decision to switch from the shorts/tank/sleeves to capris/long-sleeve. I apparently forgot about how to dress for a goal race, lol.  Breakfast was half a banana in the car, on the way to the race. Michael dropped me off just in time, a few minutes before the start. We were fortunate to have ideal racing conditions– overcast
and no wind! I kinda had to go to the bathroom, but I figured it could wait. Priorities.

MILES 0-3 (8:40, 8:31, 8:28): I was assigned to Corral 4, so I started less than 5 minutes after gun time. One mile in, I knew I should have stuck with the tank and shorts. I felt warmer than I would have liked and there was no wind. Honestly, the running conditions were ideal! I contemplated taking off my top and pinning the bib to my shorts but decided that it was too much work. I was already losing time weaving through the crowds of runners and didn’t want to eat up more time. I run in Houston all the time in heat, so I should be able to handle it, right? Typically, everyone gets caught up in the excitement of the start of the race and that first mile is a little fast. I clocked in at 8:39 for that first mile, and I was a slightly concerned. It was still early in the race, though, and I usually take about 3 miles to really warm up, so I figured I’d just have to push through and try to maintain a 8:30ish pace.

I managed to stay on point for miles 2-3, and while I felt more comfortable, it was feeling a little tougher than I thought it would. I know it’s a goal race and all, but I had still expected it to feel a little easier than it did, that early in the race! As Michael had reminded me a few days ago, I needed to trust in my training, so I told myself that I was physically prepared and to just try to stay mentally focused.

MILES 4-6 (7:57, 8:25, 8:28): Luckily, there was a good amount of downhill in mile 4, and my pace picked up. Also, Michael joined me shortly after the 5k mark! Well, he ran just a little ahead of me to not throw me off my pace. I’m not exactly sure how long he ran with me– maybe a mile or so? I took my first gel about 43 minutes in, between miles 5-6. Definitely felt like I needed it. By this time, I had noticed that my Garmin distance was about 0.1 more than the actual course, so I had to remember to adjust the time in my head.

MILES 7-9 (8:45, 8:33, 8:20): I refilled my water bottle in mile 7, and thus the drop in pace. Can’t wait to finish and go to the bathroom.

MILES 10-13.1 (8:30, 8:47, 8:15, 8:34, 1:46) By this time, I knew I’d have to go faster than 8:30 miles if I wanted to hit a sub-1:50, and I wasn’t too sure I could manage that– I’d try, of course. I took the second gel in Mile 10, and I believe there was a hill in Mile 11. It really sucks watching your pace drop considerably and doubt creeps into your mind as you imagine that goal time slipping away! I do NOT remember there being so many hills when I ran this last year. On the plus side, a PR was still in sight and I was feeling determined to at least PR. I was briefly confused about what my last PR was. Was it a sub-1:53 or sub 1:52? Could I PR?? Ya know, race brain. Also, I’m thinking that caffeine is not going to help that bathroom situation.

rnrdallas2015Michael jumped in the race again– maybe around this time? I was impressed he was able to find me a second time! And THEN, in Mile 13, there was another cruel, big hill! It was tough and I considered just giving up because it would be so much easier to just walk. Which I did. For 5 seconds. Then, I thought– I’m less than a mile from the finish– I can push through one mile, damnit. Plus, porta-potties at the finish! Is it possible to run and have my legs give up and collapse? No way, right? My legs were feeling tired and I had to really get my breathing  in control to gradually speed up again and get back on pace. I had doubts about whether or not I could even speed up enough, but my pace slowly sped up! I saw Michael again (a third time!) and he yelled, “GO JESSICA!” Despite how tired I felt, I flashed him a smile (or at least I tried to). I REALLY pushed it for a strong finish once I rounded the corner and could see that glorious finish line. There’s nothing like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel to get that extra burst of energy! My watch hit 1:52:00 on the dot as I crossed the finish. PR!! (Where are those porta-potties?)

POST-RACE: According to the Garmin, I ran a 8:27/M pace, but since it also calculated a 13.25 miles, I knew the official pace would be slower than the 8:30/M I was hoping for. Regardless, it was a PR!! I grabbed a water, a medal, and a chocolate milk before exiting the finisher’s shoot. I chugged half the chocolate milk and looked around for Michael. I stretched a little and then spotted him going towards the post-party, not quite in hearing distance. I caught up with him (cool, my legs are still working!) soon after, hit up the porta-potties (THANK GOODNESS! Also, finishing earlier meant that I found a porta-potty that was relatively unused! Wohoo! It’s the small things in life.), and we were outta there. True Food Kitchen for some much-needed caffeine and food. =)

 RNR Dallas Half Marathon
Time: 1:51:55
Pace: 8:33/M
Division (F30-34): 74/889
Gender: 350/5164
Overall: 1164/8486

Houston’s 12k of Christmas Race Report

I was happy to learn that Houston’s 12k of Christmas race course changed this year. Last year, we ran 3 loops through Midtown. Despite being at the peak of marathon training and running with Kristin, the race just felt AWFUL. It was also unusually warm last year. We wore Santa hats and it was definitely too hot for that. This year, the run was 2 loops down Allen Pkwy– still loops, but I don’t mind so much. It does, however, have more “hills”. If you’ve ever run in Houston, you know that it’s completely flat, so the hills are simply bridges or inclines/declines on the road, lol.

I was exceptionally excited for the race because Gloria was running– it would be a distance PR for her. She had run 6 miles a month or so ago, and I told her that if she could do 6, she could do 7.5, for sure. I also agreed to run with her and make sure she would make it to the finish!

I picked up her Saturday morning and we found street parking roughly 2-3 blocks from the Start/Finish.  It was cloudy and 51 degrees to start. Not bad for race weather.

Splits:
9:57
9:41
9:20
9:25
8:50
9:11
8:46

Official time: 1:07:02.9
Pace: 8:59.5/M

Houstons12k2014Negative splits, FTW! We started off a little slow since we were at the back of the crowd to start. We gradually sped up into a comfortable rhythm and I was impressed that Gloria was comfortable with the pace. There was 1 water station that we would run by twice during the race, and we stopped both times for water. Gloria commented that she was getting tired with less than a mile to go. I offered some encouraging words, and we ran together until maybe that last 0.25 miles, when I pulled away to speed up. The Nike app tells me that the last 0.2miles was downhill, and I went between 6:48-7:02 pace, picking up speed for a strong finish. Maybe a little too strong because I thought I was going to throw up right after I crossed the finish, lol. Gloria finished shortly after– so proud of her! I was pleasantly surprised to later find out that I beat my time from last year (1:07:53) by 50 seconds. I also came in 14/63 (last year, 21/97). Definitely not bad considering I went into this with just the goal of making sure Gloria would get to the finish!

In the spirit of Christmas, I wore my knee-high red Yelp socks for the race.  That probably wasn’t the best idea, lol. The thick socks gave me a huge blister! We strolled around the post-race party, picking up a few free items, and left to meet her fiance at Paper Co. Coffee. More exciting news– Gloria decided that she was up for training for a half marathon! 🙂 As of last week, Gloria, Mark, and I are signed up for The Woodlands Half Marathon on February 28, 2015! I love encouraging others to run!!

Dallas Half Marathon Race Report

I signed up for the Dallas Half Marathon in 2013, but the race was cancelled due to bad weather! We didn’t get refunds, but instead, got a discount on registering for 2014. Also, if we ran 2014, we’d be able to pick up our medals from 2013! No-brainer– I signed up as soon as they sent us the discount email.

Unlike the small race from the prior week, big races require waking up ridiculously early the morning of, but on the up side, they have race expos! I drove up from Houston Saturday morning (couldn’t skip Rascal Flatts playing at the company holiday party Friday night!) and in the afternoon, went to packet pick-up and explored the expo, picking up a few items. Also, I signed up for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon in September at a discount!

IMG_1523Pre-race: I stayed at a friend’s place overnight in Lower Greenville, since it’s a much shorter drive from there than from Plano! The morning was going relatively smoothly, until I got close to the race and realized I had no cash for parking.  Shit.  I ended up finding street parking and did the Pay by Phone option, after coming up short on change to put into the meter. I waited until 30 minutes before the start to leave my car. I thought I would have plenty of time to go to the bathroom and then meet up with some friends, but I was wrong, lol. I waited in line for 15-20 minutes to go to the bathroom. By then, the corrals were so crowded that I wasn’t able to maneuver over to where my friends were standing!

IMG_1530Race: After running RunGirl 13.1 last weekend, I decided to take this one easy. Glad I had decided that, because turned out I was a bit dehydrated and had minor side cramps going on! Walked EVERY water station, and thus, the pretty varied paces in my splits. It sprinkled lightly during the race. Wasn’t too bad except that it made the roads a bit slick and I had to tread carefully.

Around the last 1/4 mile of the race, the first place marathon runner came running by! I was prepared– stopped to snap a shot before finishing the run.

dallashm14finishSplits:
9:55
9:19
9:31
9:18
9:22
10:08
9:32
9:42
9:04
9:53
9:49
9:37
9:09

Official time: 2:07:28
Pace: 9:44

IMG_1544Definitely much slower than last week’s race, but I’m not beating myself up over it! Picked up 2 extra medals after the race and then walked probably a mile to get back to my car! It was rather tricky getting over there with all the sectioned off areas for the race & post-race party! I headed back to my friends’ place, showered, and we went to True Food Kitchen for lunch, followed by much-needed coffee from Ascension Coffee. =)

RunGirl 13.1 Race Report

So, this was a bit unplanned but I ran with Kristin, and since she wanted to go sub-2:00, I thought, sure, why not?

Pre-Race: Gotta love smaller races where you can show up 15 minutes before the start and wait in your car until 5 minutes before the start to walk over! It was a cool morning at 54 degrees and a little bit windy, being next to the lake. There was a small crowd at the start, and it didn’t take long to pass the starting mat!

rungirl2Miles 0-10: Kristin and I ended up running the whole race together! As predicted, we were dressed appropriately for the parts where it was windy, but whenever we were further from the lake, there was no wind, and it felt a bit warm. In any case, I had only run up to 8 miles in the past few months, and it was pretty obvious today, lol. I was able to keep a pretty good pace for 9-10 miles! The start might have been slightly more congested, but it didn’t take long for the runners to spread out (see the background in the picture?). I also did grab water at every water station, quickly slowing down to sip, and then picking up right where we left off.

Miles 11-13.1:During that last 5k, my legs tightened up, unprepared for those extra miles! Luckily, Kristin started feeling good around mile 9 and kept us going the last few miles to hit our sub-2:00 goal. I seriously just wanted to slow down and walk, lol. On a side note, we tried to high-five for the camera a couple of times, but the photographers only got our first (failed) attempt!

In any case, it wasn’t bad for a last minute race, although that last 5k was tough! Oh yeah, we also stopped at every water stop, haha. I didn’t cramp up during the race tho, so I was pretty happy about that.

Splits:
8:34
8:49
8:50
9:01
8:57
8:56
8:46
9:02
8:54
9:07
9:17
9:06
9:01

My app recorded the run to be a little longer than 13.1, but that seems to almost always be the case.

Official time: 1:59:32.6
Pace: 9:07/M

Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot 2014

Another Turkey Trot in the books! I’m embarrassed to say that I lost track of how many times I stopped to walk. Half-way through the race, I felt the effects of dehydration in the form of side cramps, and knew that there’d be a lot of stop and go for the remainder of the race.  I managed to set a PR, which isn’t saying much, given my time of 1:39:49 from 2 years ago! I remember that race– I was having ankle issues and the race had gone horribly.  I had a string of bad races around that time and I recall the frustration I felt.

On the plus side, a PR is a PR and a 9:32/M pace isn’t too shabby considering how inconsistent my training has been the last few months! Also, the walking gave me a chance to stop and snap a shot on my camera, lol. Oh yeah, I’ve ditched my obscenely large Garmin lately and just used the Nike Running app on my phone.

This year, Jamie and Sam skipped out on the race to take care of Taylor (their baby!), so it was just Joseph, JR, and I running.  We met up at the DART station at 8:00am, but we hadn’t checked the schedule and waited another 15-20 minutes in the cold (mid-high 40s?) for the train to arrive. Luckily, this race is divided into corrals and our blue bibs allowed us to cut into the first corral, especially for timed runners. I remember how the concept of a “timed run” was intimidating when I signed up for my first 5k, 3 years ago!

The turkey trot has become a tradition for my friends and me, and it holds a special meaning to me, since my first timed run was a turkey trot (albeit, the Frisco one instead of the Dallas one) on Thanksgiving day, 2011! This year, before we headed our separate ways (to meet up again in a few hours for a late Thanksgiving lunch), JR asked, “Same time, next year?” Definitely.

Capital One Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot – 8M
November 27, 2014
Official time: 1:16:17
Pace: 9:32/M
Overall: 1911/3409
Gender: 559/1406
AG(F 30-34): 83/213