The Giant Race – Half Marathon

IMG_3409Last Sunday I ran the The Giant Race Half Marathon.  This is the second year I have run the Giant Race in SF.  Last year I ran the race because it sounded fun to finish a race at AT&T park.  Being from Boston I’m not a huge Giants Fan but I do love AT&T park and have gone to quite a few games since moving here two years ago. This year I decided to run again because the course is flat, easy and pretty and the race was for the most part, well-organized.

At the race last year I set my new Half Marathon PR for 2012.  I ran a 1:49:14.  I had been trying really hard to break the 1:50 barrier and I finally did!  It was really fun but I definitely really struggled at the end to keep my pace and set that PR.  As I approached the race this year I did not want to try to set another PR.  I’m in the height of marathon training for Portland right now and really had not had a good week of runs.  I ran 18 miles the weekend before and it took me a lot longer to recover from that then I expected.  My legs felt like lead all week!  I decided to treat this run for what it was, a training run until the gun went off…

The race started at 7am this year.  I think it was much earlier than last year because it felt really early!  I parked and headed over to meet people from my running club around 6:40am.  I never ended up finding them because I tried to find a bathroom to use before the race but the lines were ridiculous.  I ended up in my corral just before the start with a running club friend that I had found.  We were towards the front of the race and shortly after 7am we were off.

Mile 1 was as usual, dodgey.  I spent most of the mile trying to get in front of the slower runners but was still just planning on an 8:45ish pace to keep it more like a training run.  My Garmin was messed up the first mile, maybe because of the all the other runners?  It was telling me I was running a 6:16 pace at one point.  Haha, I don’t think I could run that fast if I tried.  It then hit Mile 1 about 2 tenths before the Mile Marker so I reset the lap when I hit the marker to get a more accurate read on my pace.  I ran about an 8:20 first mile, FAST.

I kept going and trying not to look at my pace, I was trying to run where I felt comfortable.  I had a great day because “comfortable” at Mile 2 was an 8:07 then an 8:18.  I was shocked, I just kept telling myself to keep it up as long as I could.  I kept thinking I’d crash on the second half.  I hit Mile 6,7, and 8 and still felt good!  At Mile 9 we hit a hill that I run pretty consistently, sometimes it’s really hard, and sometimes it’s easy.  Well it felt easy that day and I managed to keep an 8:19 pace for that mile and PASS the 1:50 pace group that had started before me!  I was right behind a friend from running club but I didn’t want to use up energy trying to catch up to her so I just stayed right behind her the last 4 miles.  I couldn’t believe when I hit Mile 11 in 8:06 and Mile 12 in 8:03!  I knew at that point I was well on my way to a PR so I stuck with it and ran an 8:09 last mile and crossed the finish line at 1:48:16!  I PR’d but just shy I was 1 minute!  I was thrilled.  I was even more excited that while I felt like I had pushed really hard, I felt strong at the finish.  I usually go out to fast and end up really slow the last few miles, not this race, I pushed hard and strong and never missed a beat!

I found my friend Susan at the finish line, she had run a 1:48 as well and it was her best Half time over 6 years!  She was also really excited.  The race finishes in AT&T park in the outfield.  We got our medals, water and snacks and walked up around Home plate while waiting for some of our friends.  We found a few more friends, took pictures, stretched and headed out for a celebration lunch at one of the Road Runners apartments!

The Giant Race Half Marathon Finishers

Members of SFRRC at the Finish!

The Giant Race Finish Line

The Giant Race Finish Line

The medal is awesome, it looks like the World Series Ring!  It’s definitely one of my favorites, if only it was had a “B” and Blue/Red ribbon! 😉

The Giant Race Half Marathon Medal - 2013

The Giant Race Half Marathon Medal – 2013

My only complaint about the race was that Packet Pick-up was awful. I  waited over a half hour in line to get my bib.  It was a bit ridiculous.  Aside from that I love the Giant Race and will be back again next year!

Ridiculous Packet Pick-up Line.  At least it's a pretty view!

Ridiculous Packet Pick-up Line. At least it’s a pretty view!


It’s been a long time…

It’s been over 6 months since I’ve written in my blog and a lot has happened.  After chatting with my friends over wine last week they convinced me that I should make it a priority in my life again.  I took up my blog to work on my writing skills and of course to document all of my running and training.  So here I am.  My goal is to post at least once a week again.  So to bring you up to speed on my life (at least running wise) here are the highlights from January through August 2013.

  • I was out of my walking boot within a few days and fully mobile just a week after my surgery
  • I walked A LOT in February.  As a runner, going out for a casual walk is not the easiest thing.  I traveled to San Diego for work in February and my favorite thing to do when I visit a new city is to run, and I couldn’t, so I went out for a walk to see the city.Amanda & Jackson copy
  • My adorable and sweet nephew was born on February 26th – he’s brought a lot of joy to our family and I’ve been lucky to visit him in March and July!
  • I started running again on March 1st – it was a very exciting day!  It also was REALLY hard!  I ran 3 miles that day.
  • I signed up for the Portland Marathon two days later.  🙂
  • I ramped up my mileage slowly in March and April and was running 10+ Miles on weekends in May30th Birthday Dinner!
  • I turned 30 on April 29th, a pretty big milestone.  I celebrated with my parents and friends who surprised me with a great dinner followed by drinks.  It was a wonderful weekend!
  • I ran my first 10k in over two years on Memorial Day weekend.  I ran a 49:56 – a new PR for me!
  • On June 8th, I ran 10.3 miles of the Lake Tahoe Relay with 6 other women from my running club.  7 of us ran 72 miles in 11:05:39 in nearly 90 degree heat!  It was hot and exhausting but a total blast!Lake Tahoe Relay
  • On June 16th, I ran my first half marathon in over 7 months!  I ran the first half of the SF Marathon.  It was a tough race, very hilly.  I finished in 1:45:59.
    My cousin Michaela and I after the SF Half Marathon

    My cousin Michaela and I after the SF Half Marathon

  • I traveled back to Maine/NH/Boston for the 4th of July and spent two weeks back East.  My family ran our annual 5k.  It was 88 degrees with 100% humidity at the start, it was my slowest 5k in the last few years.  Ugh.  On a more positive note my little sister surprised me and ran her first 5k that day, I was so proud of her!
  • I ran over 148 miles in the month of July.  (My highest mileage month since October 2010)

Family 5kI am running pain-free after my surgery, it’s wonderful!  I am getting very excited for the Portland Marathon in October and looking forward to the Disneyland and Nike Women’s halfs coming up this fall!Family Hallke 5k

Fantastic Fall 2012

It’s been awhile since I’ve written.  Life is just to fun these days to post all the time!  I do like to write on occasion though to document new races and new personal bests!  It was a great fall racing season for me.  I set 3 new Personal Record’s and completed my first International Distance Triathlon!   Although I took the Fall off from Marathons I ran 5 Half Marathons between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.  It was a busy fall!

Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving I ran the Fisher Cats Turkey Trot with Dad.  The race was a 5k and my Dad was determined to go out and do his best.  I on the other hand wasn’t feeling super motivated, I was just happy to be out for a run before eating all day. The race started at 9am which was awesome cause we got to sleep in a bit.  We were down by the start around 8:25 and decided to do a warm-up mile together.  The warm-up was ROUGH for me.  Maybe it was the cold?  I haven’t run in 30 degrees in over a year (since last Thanksgiving).  Based on the warm-up I was just aiming to finish in under 25 minutes.

We headed for the start and shortly after we were off!  I took off at a 6:40 pace which I knew I could keep but tried to hold on to for as long as I could.  (So much for not pushing myself, right?)  After heading up a pretty solid hill I finished Mile 1 around 7:20.  I got a little nervous that I was going to really fail the last mile but I kept pushing aiming for a 7:45 pace on Mile 2.  My goal was now to beat under 24 minutes.  Mile 2 had a nice downhill and then flat so I ended up running a 7:25.  At this point I knew that I would be close to my person best a 23:22 so I decided to keep pushing and see what I could.  The last half mile was rough but I kept pushing.  The race ends on the NH Fisher Cats field so you run around the warning track finishing on the 3rd base line.  When I entered the stadium I could see my Dad ahead and heard them call his name at the finish, I was only about 30 seconds behind.  I kept pushing and finished in 22:58 (7:30 pace), a new personal best by 25 seconds!  I can’t lie, pushing that hard made the run suck from start to finish but it was awesome after!  My dad finished in 22:27 his best time in the last few years!


Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Earlier in November I had to travel down to Orlando for a work conference.  It happened to end right before the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon which is my cousin Heather’s favorite Disney race.  It seemed like fate that my trade show ended two days before so I had to stay and run!  My co-worker joined my Thursday afternoon and Friday for two days of Disney fun!  Heather also joined us on Friday and we squeezed in 3 parks in one day!  Saturday was race day.  We took it easy that day checking into the Yacht Club Hotel and lounging by the pool.  We had lunch and relaxed with my cousin Heather’s friend Annette and Brian.  Annette was running the half with us that evening.  We headed back to our room around 4pm and laid around in bed for a few hours.  Around 6:30 it was time to get ready and head to the shuttle busses for the start line.

We were at the start line plenty early so we sat around eating a snack and contemplating just skipping the race.  🙂  It’s really hard to START running at 10pm.  We wanted to just go to Epcot and have fun!  We eventually got ourselves together, checked out gear, used the restroom and lined up.  I was in Coral A and Heather and Annette were right behind me in Corral B.  I had no intentions on running a fast race, I just wanted to enjoy it but the other half of me just wanted to finish quick so  I could have fun!  The race itself was really fun, we went through Animal Kingdom  Hollywood Studios and finished through Epcot!  I ended up running a 1:52:22!  I was very happy with that!

Before the race - notice the fluorescent theme?

Before the race – notice the fluorescent theme?



Love Disney Medals!

After the finish line they have changing tents set up so you can change into dry clothes and head off to enjoy the post race party at Epcot.  I finished first so I took a few minutes to sit and stretch, then I changed, collected my post-race beer (love when they have those!) and headed into the park!  I rode Spaceship Earth and Soarin while waiting for the girls.  We met up right in front of the World Showcase and went off to enjoy some food and drinks!  We had a fun evening closing down the park at the Rose & Crown Pub!

BAA Half Marathon

In October while on a work trip to Boston I ran the BAA Half Marathon with my Dad, Aunt Marie and cousin Greg.  I ran this race in 2010 with my friend Meredith while training for our first marathon.  It’s a great well-organized race but definitely a challenging course!  This race was my Aunt Marie’s first half marathon!  My family spent the night in Boston before the race so we could sleep in a bit later.  We had a nice day on Saturday sightseeing and having dinner in the North End.

My Dad and I met my Aunt and cousin at UMASS Boston to ride the shuttles together to the start of the race.  We got a bit of a late start so we arrived at the start just in time!  We headed for our place in line.  My Dad and I decided to run together, I was going to try to help him get to a new PR.  We had a great first half of the race, but most of it was downhill.   I knew that the second half was going to be tough.  By mile 8/9 I was really starting to struggle.  I knew it wasn’t going to be my day.  I kept trying to keep up with my Dad and help pace us but I was struggling.  I finally convinced him to leave me at Mile 9.5ish and he did.  I eventually caught back up with him around mile 11 but couldn’t stay with him long.  I was STRUGGLING.  It was one of the worst races I had run in a long time.  I finished in 1:55:51.  My dad finished about a minute before me but unfortunately missed his PR but just a bit.  We collected all of our gear at the finish and headed to finish line to watch my Aunt Marie finish.  She ran a great first half and finished strong.  I love watching people finish a half marathon for the first time, it’s always so inspiring.  Congrats to Aunt Marie on her first Half Marathon!


Giants Half Marathon

In September I ran the Giants Half Marathon in SF.  I was excited for this race because I was in great running shape and it was a flat course.  I had a feeling that a new personal best was in my grip so I went into this race with a PR in mind.  The race starts right outside of AT&T park and also offers a 10k and 5k.  My cousin Michaela was running the 10k so we went to the race together, started together and ended up running almost the first 3 miles together.  I also found a bunch of girls in my running club who run around my pace at the start so I decided to try to stick with them.  Michaela and I ended up pushing each other running the first 3 miles at an 8:16 pace.  I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep that pace up but each mile I kept surprising myself.  At Miles 9 and 10 I slowed to an 8:30 pace but then I ran into the 1:50 pace group I knew that if kept up with them the last 3 miles that I would finish under a 1:50 and finally beat my goal of a sub 1:50 half!  I’m so glad I ran into the pace group, the leader kept really pushing me and kept me going.  I ran the last 3 miles at an 8:18 pace and was really starting to hurt.  At mile 12.9 the pacer reminded us we only had .2 miles left which is equal to two city blocks.  I was so close to my best I had to keep pushing and that reminder really helped me!  I finished at 1:49:14 according to my watch!  (My online time says 1:48:47 – I’m not sure why the 30 sec discrepancy)  I was so excited!  My running club friend, Laura, was right behind me and she had set a new PR as well!  The race finishes in the outfield of AT&T park so we took some pictures and took in the scene of hanging out on the field of AT&T park.  It was a great race and I’m looking forward to it again next year!


Disneyland Half Marathon

Over labor day weekend I went down to Disneyland and ran the Half Marathon for the second year in a row.  I was joined by my cousin Heather and her college friends Leah, Annette, and Jamie, Leah’s friend Sue and Alaska friends Annie & Martha!  We all arrived at various times on Saturday morning and met at our hotel.  In early afternoon we headed over to the Expo to collect our numbers and swag.  After that we headed for the parks.  We had twilight tickets for Saturday night and headed over to Disneyland.  We got in a bunch of rides and had dinner at “Pasta in the Park”.  After our carbo loading we did a few more rides and headed back to the hotel for bed.

The Disney races always start bright and early.  The Disneyland half is no exception.  The race started at 5:45am.  I can’t remember exactly what time we were up but it was long before any of us wanted to be up.  We took shuttles over to the Parks and walked to the start.  We did our usual routine of bathroom, bag check and head for the corrals.  I started in Corral A and was not feeling that race.  I was exhausted at the start.  I remember getting to Mile 4 and thinking, I just want to stop running and take a nap.  Never the less, I found the energy and kept pushing an 8:25ish pace.  The excited part of the race was that we got to run through the new Cars Land in California Adventure. It was so cute and entertaining!  We then headed through Disneyland and then onto the streets of Anaheim.  The next big landmark was Anaheim Angels Stadium.  As we were approaching around mile 8.5 I was really loosing steam.  I was ready to slow my pace and just focus on finishing   It was just then that my friend Katie from the year before came up from behind, recognized me and pushed me again!  She got me into the park the and then I told her to head off without me but to wait for me at the finish because I wouldn’t be far behind.  I kept up my pace and finished in 1:51:55.  I was really happy with that time, anything under 1:52 makes me happy and I was just under!  I found Katie at the finish and we chatted.


Disneyland Race friend Katie!

I headed towards our designated meeting area and one by one the other girls arrived.  We sat around and chatted as we waited for everyone.  Most of us collected our “Coast to Coast” medals at Disneyland.  You earn one of those medals for running a Half or Marathon on the East Coast and West Coast.  We took a million pictures of our bling.  It was a fun morning.

Heather & I with our Marathon, Disneyland Half and Coast to Coast Medals!

Heather & I with our Marathon, Disneyland Half and Coast to Coast Medals!


Post race we headed for the pool for lunch and relaxation.  We showered and headed to California Adventure around 4pm and had a great afternoon/evening in the park.  Of course we finished off the night with drinks in Downtown Disney.  Monday we all went our own ways throughout the day but we had a great girls weekend and were all sad to see it end. The Disneyland Half is my favorite race.  I really love it.  I think we’ll all be back next year, fingers crossed!

That sums up 2012 racing!  (Finally)  I set a 5k, 3.5 Miler, Half Marathon and Marathon personal best!  I’m hoping to get better at blogging agin in 2013 so I won’t have to do major posts like this anymore!

Nike Women’s Half Marathon – SF

This morning I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (NWM).  It was an incredible experience I can only hope that I will get lucky enough to get in following years.  I really enjoyed my run today and it was fun to run in a women’s race again!


Packet pick-up started on Thursday in Union Square.  They setup a tent in the square and hold the “Expotique” there.  I work just a few blocks from there so I headed over on Friday later afternoon to try to avoid the after work crowd and the Saturday rush.  They had all kinds of things going on at the expo.  You could get fitted for a bra, try on some of the NWM gear that they were selling and get free samples of everything from snacks to beauty products.  I was on a tight timeline because I had to get back to work so I skipped that stuff and headed for packet pick-up.  I got my bag and number and then headed across the street to Macy’s to look at the clothes they had for sale.  I had to make a purchase, the clothes was so cute!

Niketown had a wall outside with all the runner’s names on it!

My name!

Bag given at packet pick-up!

My new running shirt/jacket!

Back of jacket!

Race Day!

Race bibs were round, very unique!

The race started at 7am from Union Square.  I cut it a little close catching the bus at 6:15 but I ended up timing it just right!  The buses weren’t going close to Union Square so I had to walk about 10 minutes to the start but I was with a bunch of women so it was easy and quick.  I arrived at my starting corral at about 6:45am.   The corrals were well-organized.  Everyone was given colored bracelets based on pace and you were directed to a specific street.  I was on Powell Street right next to Union Square also one of the cab car streets!   Each street or corral had its only port-a-potty area which made things run very smoothly.  I used the bathroom and headed for the start.  It was incredible to see 25,000 women lined up for the race.  It was actually quite moving.  Way to go women!

25,000 women lines and ready to go! It goes on for blocks!

Union Square just before the stat form my corral.

My goal for this race was to just run and enjoy it.  It wasn’t about PR’s or getting a good time, I just wanted to run and have fun.  I am really behind on posting but I have run 3 half marathons since labor day (not counting this one) and did an olympic distance triathlon.  It’s been a lot of racing and training and I’m a little burnt out at this point.  I also ran the BAA Half last weekend so I just wanted to take this one easy.  Sometimes you need to run just to run and remember why you love it and I often forget that.

The race started right on time at 7am!  The corals moved well, I was over the starting line at 7:03am.  The course starts by winding through the streets of the financial district.  It was fun running through the city.  I passed by the street my office is on and the Transmerica building (the pyramid building).  I was thinking that must have been really neat for tourists.  Eventually we headed to the Embaracadero and were greeted by a gospel choir group from Oakland.  They were awesome!  We headed towards Ghiradelli Square/Aquatic park and climbed the Fort Mason hill.  It’s a tough hill, I had an advantage though because I run it a few times a week because it’s very close to my apartment.

Once we were through Fort Mason we headed down the Marina Green and Chrissy field.  Their were a ton people along this area, along with the Safeway cheering section that had music.  They also had cheerleaders along the side which I love as a former cheerleader and coach!  It was nice little boost to have people cheering!  Shortly after they had a “powersong” playing. The tough part was that I knew that the hills were ahead and I wasn’t looking forward to it.

We headed up into the Presidio about Mile 6.  It was a very tough climb.  It leveled off for maybe 1 to 2 tenths of a mile and the we were climbing again.  They had a “bra exchange” at that point.  If you brought an old bra you could swap it out for a new one.  It was a cute idea but kind of annoying to have to carry a bra around for 13 or 26 miles.

After the bra exchange we hit a really tough and LONG hill.  It just kept going and going.  They had a water stop mid-way and I walked while I had my water for a few seconds, it was a nice break and running felt much easier when I started again.  Mile 7 was mostly downhill which was awesome.  It would have had a beautiful view of the bay but it was totally fogged in this morning!  The only upside is that it kept the temps cool, yesterday was really hot in the sun so I’m actually glad we didn’t have a sun.  Mile 8 we ran through a beautiful neighborhood.  The houses were fun to look at!  They had an area where they were handing out face wipes, it was so refreshing to wipe the sweat and salt off my face!  Nice touch NWM!  I made some friends in this area too and we chatted for a bit about races we had run so that passed the mile really quickly!

Mile 9 was back uphill (big hill) but then we had a nice downhill down to Ocean Beach!  Verizon sponsored a mile and you ran “fast as LTE”.  They had mats for the start and finish but I can’t find where to see my pace for that mile.  They had more music around here and the best part was that all the music was “girl themed”.  I head call me maybe, Single Ladies and other songs sung by female artists.

At Mile 10.5 we entered Golden Gate park.  They had a drum line there which was awesome!  They also had more cheerleaders in the park and more music.  It was really exciting to run in this area.  I also finally saw the buffalo that roam Golden Gate Park, they were to my left when I entered the park.  Shortly after Mile 11 they had a jumbo-tron setup and you could see yourself running.  It was all very “Disney” like to me!  Mile 12 had a good amount of people around cheering and then I found 2 people from my running club.  One guy from the club was just running the ladies in for the last half mile which was really nice of him.  He ran me and another women in and I finished right under 2 hours which was where I wanted to be.  Even better, I didn’t stress the whole run about my pace, I just ran at a comfortable pace and had fun!

When you cross the finish line you walk onto a red carpet and there are the firemen with the beautiful Tiffany’s boxes on a silver trays!  I was so excited!!!  They scan your bib and then hand you a necklace.  I snapped a shot with my firemen!

Firemen with Necklaces!

Me and my firefighter with my necklace!

After that you head through the finishers shoot.  The whole thing was super organized and very well done.  After the necklace you collect your finishers shirt.  It’s BRIGHT green.  I love it, it will be perfect for future races!  I got a couple of bottles of water and then they hand you a “safeway” reusable bag for your food.  It’s NWM themed, super cute!  They had bagels, bananas, fruit cups and all kinds of other goodies like Luna bar samples.  They also had coconut water.  The bag was awesome because I had so much stuff in my hands!

I then headed over to the “Neutrogena Freshen Up Area”  They had face wipes again and mirrors so you could clean yourself up before a picture with one of the fire fighters!  Another great touch!

After my picture I went to the apparel tent.  They had a legit store set up with more stuff to buy.  I couldn’t help myself, I bought a running hat.  It’s time to retire my white one so it worked out perfectly!

The highlight of the race was the necklace.  It’s so beautiful!  I love the girl running with the bridge behind her, it’s very SF.  It’s nice to have a “medal” that I can wear proudly all the time.  I probably won’t be taking this off for some time!  Of course, now I want another!  Ladies in my running club who have run multiple races put them all one chain and have a collection of pendants!

The only thing that got my out of bed this AM and up those hills was knowing this was at the end!

My only complaint is that they have to shuttle you back to you Union Square and they were charging runners $20 to ride the shuttle.  I can’t believe they charged runners!  The race fee was $150, not cheap and transportation is always included in race fees.  Not to mention $20 is really high, they had to be making a profit on the shuttles.  Runners should be shuttled free of charge in my opinion.  Needless to say, I rode the good old Muni home because I refused to pay that!  They gave out space blankets, thank god because they get me warm while waiting for the bus!

Overall, it was a great race.  It may be my favorite race to date.  I want to do it again!  I’m debating trying to get into the Washington, DC one in April and running with my friend Meredith. We were texting about doing the full marathon.  I was all excited to do it until I realized it was on my 30th Birthday weekend.  Do I really want to run a marathon on my Birthday again?  I’m undecided but for now fingers crossed I get into SF next year and that I’ll have some friends fly out and run with me!

JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge – Bizo

Tonight 16 of my co-workers ran the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.  This is my third year organizing a team for the Corporate Challenge but my first time in San Francisco and with Bizo.  It was a great event and it was really fun to share my passion for running with my co-workers.  (Although I don’t think all of them quite feel the “love” for running like I do :))  Everyone rocked their race and had a great time!  I had a new Corporate Challenge Best (the race is 3.5 miles long) at 27:42 almost 1 minute faster than my time last year!

Congrats Bizonians and thanks for getting out there and running with me!  Looking forward to next year!

I’m a Triathlete

My Dad after his first Sprint Triathlon

Last weekend I competed in my first sprint triathlon.  The Triathlon was held in Pleasanton, CA about an hour outside of San Francisco.  The length was a 400 yard swim (lake swim), 11 mile bike ride and 3.2 mile run.  I was inspired to try a triathlon earlier this year when my Dad completed his first one.  He had a really positive experience and really enjoyed all the cross-training.  I decided that it was time for me to try one and see if I enjoyed it as much.


I started swimming back in June after the “See Jane Run” half marathon.  I was having some issues with my feet once again so I decided to take a month off from running and let my feet heal.  The swimming was a nice way to cross train and allow me to prep for a Triathlon.  I really enjoy getting in the pool twice a week and I’m now swimming over a mile during most workouts.

Along with swimming twice a week, I always try to get in one spin class a week.  I started spinning back when training for my first marathon as a way to cross-train.  I have been keeping up with that so I had a strong base for bike riding.  I have done several 12 mile bike rides with my Dad when in Maine so I was confident I could do the bike portion of a sprint tri.  My friend Isabel was super nice to lend me her road bike for the triathlon.  I got it a week before and did a few test runs on it to make sure I was confident riding the bike.

I knew the running would be the easy part for me as I always try to keep in half marathon shape as a rule of thumb.  I did a few workouts where I rode my bike (or indoor spin bike) and then followed it with a run.  I quickly learned that my Dad was right, the transition from bike to run is super hard.  That was my biggest concern going into the triathlon.

I didn’t follow a formal training schedule but I am going to try to get on one now as I am aiming to do an Olympic Distance triathlon in September.

Race Day

The race was on a Saturday morning at 7am.  Registration opened at 5:30am and I had missed online reg so I had to register at the event.  It was about an hour drive so I planned to leave my apartment at 4:30am.  (Gross)  I spent Friday night preparing.  I packed my bag and got the coffee maker ready to brew.  I was so nervous I was going to forget something, you have to remember a lot of things.  It’s very different from showing up to a race in your running shoes and just running.  My alarm went out off at 3:45am and I was out of bed at 4am.  I got dressed, made breakfast to bring with me and packed the car.  I had to load up my bike so that took some time.

I arrived at 5:40am in the pitch black.  A ton of people were already there.  I found the reg tent and got signed up.  I was then “oil marked” with my number on my right leg and left arm.  I setup my bike in the transition area along with my sneakers, socks, a towel to dry my feet, water, race belt, bike helmet and Gu in case I needed it.  I was all alone and this was my first triathlon so my Dad definitely prepped me well and encouraged me to check out other people’s setup.  It was helpful to see how other people setup.  It was also helpful to be there so early because I got a great spot in the transition area.  After I was setup I had a lot of time to spare.  I used the bathroom a few times, texted with my Dad a bit checked and rechecked my transition items.  I headed down to the beach at 6:45am.

The triathlon was a part of the “Tri for Fun” series geared towards beginners.  They had a coach speak and give some last-minute tips.  After that we headed over to the starting area and they got the first wave underway.  I had two options, I could either go with my age group or I could go in the last wave with the “beginners”.  I decided to go with my own age group because I honestly am too competitive.  I knew being in the last wave would irritate me.  When they called my group I stayed in the back of the wave so I didn’t have to worry about swimmers behind me and I could go at my own pace.  At 7:20am I was off!

Sunrise over the lake

The lake water was much warmer then I expected which was a nice bonus.  I swam in my sports bra and tri shorts.  I didn’t want to buy an entire outfit until I was sure that I enjoyed competing in triathlons.  I quickly learned that I should have gone closer to the front.  I am a faster swimmer then I thought and I kept running into people.  It was tricky to pass people and stay straight so I just did my best but next time I will not hold back in the back of the wave.  I did the 400 yard swim in 9:04.

The first transition is tricky.  I had to run up the beach, find my bike and then dry my feet and get socks and my running shoes on.  (I have not gotten into bike clips yet)  My dad told me to buy shoelaces that you don’t have to tie and it was a great idea!  Putting on my shoes was much easier than if I had to tie both laces.  I did the first transition in 2:12 and was off on the bike ride.

Transition Area

The bike ride ended up being super flat and really easy.  I passed quite a few people on the ride.  My co-worker told me to push hard on the bike because the run would be easy for me.  It was great advice and I definitely pushed.  I did the 11 miles in 32 mins. That was much faster than I expected to do it in.

Transition 2 was a bit easier.  I had to rack my bike, switch out my bike helmet for running hat and grab my iPod, I was off.  The first mile of the run was awful.  My legs were like lead.  I felt like I was barely moving and I couldn’t catch my breath.  The run was actually a trail run that was quite hilly, not an easy run by any means.  I did the first mile in 10:21.  YIKES!  I was kind of freaked out but kept telling myself to relax, all I needed to do was finish the race, I had no previous time to beat.  I hit the 2 mile marker in 8 minutes.  I felt much more like my old self.  That gave me confidence and I really pushed myself the last 1.2 miles.  I passed a ton of people and it was really fun passing men because they started anywhere from 5-10 minutes before me!  I sprinted the last quarter-mile and finished in 1:10:27.  I was really happy with my finish.  I was expecting to finish closer to 1:30!

All Finished!

I hung around a bit enjoying the post-race food and activities and then I packed up and headed home.  It was a GREAT time and I knew right away that I would be doing another one.  I was aiming to do a sprint tri in September but I found an Olympic Distance one that same weekend so I think I may try that instead.  I’m really looking forward to the extra challenge, the sprint felt pretty easy when all is said and done!

Next up – Disneyland Half Marathon next weekend!  I’m looking forward to seeing my cousin Heather and spending time with her and her friends.  We all ran the race together last year so it will be a little reunion!

Eugene Marathon – Race Day

Race Day

Alarm set for:  4:40am

Gross.  The one part I really dislike about running is the horrible early wake-up calls.  This was nothing compared to 2:45am for Disney World but 4:40am is still a horrible time to be awake.  Lesley and I were up and moving before 5am.  We dressed, had our breakfasts (I brought my english muffin with almond butter and jelly) and were out the door by 5:40am.

I was nervous on Race Morning.  It has been awhile since I had pre-race nerves but I really wanted to try to run a sub 4-hour race.  My first three marathons I really didn’t have specific time goals, I just ran, this time I had a goal.

We parked at one of the High Schools and took a shuttle over to the start.  The race was really organized.  We didn’t wait long for the shuttle and they had a ton of port-a-potties at the start so we didn’t have to wait long for those either.  By the time we hit the bathroom, took a few pre-race photos and used the bathroom one last time it was about 15 minutes to the start so we got in line.  I was in Corral B with Lesley and her mom.  I said my good-bye’s and good luck’s and headed for the 4-hour Cliff Pace team.

Ready to Go!

Not long after we were off!  The first two miles weren’t easy which was tough on me mentally but by Mile 3 or 4 I started to warm up and find my rhythm.  We were in neighborhoods for the first 7-8 miles.  Normally I would find this boring but I was in a new part of the country and I thought it was fun to look at the different architecture and admire the green mountains behind the homes.  At one point I felt like I was in the movie Twilight running in Bella’s neighborhood.  People were out cheering us on and holding signs which helped pass the miles.  Somewhere around Mile 4-5 I got ahead of the pace group.  I was just slightly ahead of them but felt comforted I was slightly ahead of them.

Mile 8-10ish we were back in more of a city area with a ton of people cheering us on.  A friend from High School, Ashley, was in Eugene to support her boyfriend and she found me just before Mile 10.  She yelled “Go Amanda, you look great!”.  It was nice to have a supporter on the course.  Ashley and her boyfriend are incredible runners – he ran a 2:40 marathon that day!  Thanks Ashley for cheering me on!

Somewhere around Mile 11-12 I started to get comments on my Birthday shirt.  A group of people told me I should be handing out “Birthday Cake” flavored Gu.  I agreed!  (They should really consider making a Birthday Cake flavored Gu.)  At Mile 14ish one guy sang “Happy Birthday” to me.  It was hilarious and kind of embarrassing at the same time.  I loved all the spirit though.  I chatted with quite a few people during miles 13-17ish.

We headed for a river that we were running out on and turning around at Mile 21 and coming back on the other side.  It was really pretty but also tough to see people coming back on the other side when you knew how much ground you still had to cover.  I was still feeling good a strong at this point.  I was hitting a 9:08 pace on the dot for quite a few miles and was about 2-3 minutes ahead of a 4 hour marathon.  As I got to Mile 20 it started to get a little tougher but I was trying not to let it mess with my head.  Mile 20-22 was okay but Mile 22 it started to get tough to breathe.  My legs were getting really heavy and tired.  I started to take 20-30 sec walk breaks at the mile markers.  I didn’t want to do this but it was allowing me to refresh my legs a bit and pick my pace back up when I started running again.

At Mile 24 I started to fall apart.  The 4 hour pace group passed me on my quick walk break around 24.5 and I knew I wasn’t going to hit a sub 4-hour marathon.  I was actually okay with this at the point.  I wanted to stop running so badly but I kept thinking back to my first marathon when my Dad was with me at mile 24.  He was saying, just keep running, it doesn’t matter how slow you are going, just keep running.  So that’s what I did.  I just kept running.  I knew I was going to PR by a good amount so I kept pushing.  Mile 25 was brutal, we were in a field by train tracks with no spectators.  It was so hard.  We finally got  back into the city and onto the U of O campus and spectators were all over.  As I turned into Hayward field people were really cheering us on.  I wanted to have a burst of energy to run gracefully down the track but sadly I didn’t.  I just had to keep my feet moving and I knew I was going to finish right at 4 hours.  I did try to push hard to make it under 4 hours 1 minute.  (For some reason 4 hours just sounds better than 4 hours 1 min)

My Garmin Results – You can see at Miles 24-26 my time just tanked! 😦

I finished in 4:00:41!  Although I still don’t have the “3” in front of my number I am really proud of my race.  I took 11:55 seconds of my Boston Marathon time and set a new PR.   Lesley finished her first Marathon in 4:21 and rocked it.  She says she will do another one so I think we have another marathon addict.  It was a really great day!

26.2 Miles later…

Marathon Medal #4 – Love that is has Hayward Field on it!

After the marathon we all showered, iced and then went out for my favorite post-race/Birthday lunch – a cheeseburger and beer!  Lesley and I then went to the Ninaski Brewing company for beers.  They had a great outdoor area where you could hang out and drink.  A ton of marathoners were there – it was fun to see everyone!

Happy with Beer

I headed back to SF that evening.  On our way to the airport Lesley and I drove be Steve Prefontaine’s memorial.  It was really moving.  People had left their marathon medals and numbers from that day.  I’m really glad we made the detour to see it.  I had a quick and easy flight back to SF and was home and in bed by 10pm.  I took Advil PM so I would sleep well cause I had to go to work on Monday.  It worked and I slept through the night with no leg cramping in the middle of the night.

Pre’s Rock

Overall, it was a great marathon and I really enjoyed my time in Eugene!  I definitely want to go back and visit and maybe run again!  I’m of course already thinking about which one to tackle next and I’d really love to run one in Europe next spring.  We’ll see if I can pull that off!

On Thursday I flew out to Europe to see Laura and Tim.  It was overall a great week and wonderful way to ring in my last year in my 20’s.

This morning I ran 11 miles with my running club.  It wasn’t easy but I needed to get back to the long runs.  I found a Google Offer for the See Jane Run Women’s Half Marathon in Alameda on June 3rd.  I’m running with my cousin.  It should be a fun race!  I haven’t run in a Women’s race since my first half marathon.  I’m looking forward to the Champagne and Chocolate at the finish line.  🙂