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The Town’s Half Marathon

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In eight weeks I will be running The Town’s Half Marathon in Oakland, I have to admit I’m extremely excited about this run.  It’s  been just about four short years since my first race and I’ve fallen into a habit of repeating the same ones each year.  I decided that this year, I wanted to branch out, run different races and visit different cities while doing it and the inaugural Town’s Half is the perfect fit.

Why am I so excited for The Town’s Half Marathon? First and foremost I love running in the bay area, admittedly I haven’t done much in the East Bay, it’s time.  I ran the Livermore Half Marathon and loved the whole experience from the expo to the finish line festival. The Town’s Half  is being put on by Project Sport, who also produced the Livermore Half, so I know it’ll be just as fun and organized.  I’m not even going to pretend that I don’t enjoy the race swag and The Town’s Half definitely has some awesome swag…….along with the finisher’s shirt and medal all runners will receive a Brita water bottle at the finish line, which is at the steps of City Hall and will include a post race wine and music festival.

 

2014 Finisher's Medal

2014 Finisher’s Medal

The expo will be held at Jack London Square, if you’d like to stay close to the expo the Waterfront Hotel is an option.  If you would like to stay closer to the start/finish line you can look into the Oakland Marriott.  Some of the places to explore in Oakland include China Town, Lake MerrittOakland Museum of California as well as the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Jack London Square. I love trying new restaurants, some suggestions I’ve been given include the popular Aunt Mary’s Cafe where they serve home-cooked food and were featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  The Brown Sugar Kitchen is known for their Chicken and Waffles, late night bites can be found at Ruddy’s Can’t Fail and I plan on visiting Fentons Creamery for my post race ice cream treat.

If you would like to join me and run the town, you can register here and save 10% with promo code: Heather, hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Livermore Half Marathon Recap

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Back of the Participant Shirt

Back of the Participant Shirt

 

I had first heard about the Livermore Half Marathon in late February, I contemplated running it as I absolutely love any reason to run in Northern California and the mention of wine at the finish line didn’t hurt either.  One big problem,  I had just arrived back home after spending a week in Florida for the Princess Half Marathon and my 2014 race budget was all but busted.  That’s when I saw that Cookies on the Run was giving away a race entry, you better believe I tweeted and tweeted and tweeted my way to as many entries as I could get before the entry deadline.  Long story short I wasn’t the first or second name drawn but one had already registered and the other one was unable to run it…let’s hear it for lucky number three!!  Thank you Cookies on the Run!

I received my entry eleven days before the race, I was super excited and then I realized I was registered to run Rock n Roll San Francisco the following week.  I had never run two half marathons back to back, let alone two with big elevation changes, I wasn’t sure how I would hold up.  I spent the better part of those eleven days debating if I was going to run it.  The day before the race I checked the weather for race day and there was almost a 100% chance for rain; if you have read my past posts you know all about my aversion to hills in a course; well my other huge aversion is rain.  I knew if I cancelled because of the rain and it didn’t end up raining I would kick myself for months. I took to Facebook and asked for some sage advice from my runner friends.  I have to say I was totally reminded one of the biggest reason I love the running community, my wonderful friends flooded me with tried and true advice.  Friday morning I still hadn’t decided if I was going to run or not but I packed my bag before work and put it in my car….I figured I had until I got off work to decide if I was going to head up to Livermore that night.  I debated most of the morning and finally decided I was as prepared as I could be to run in the rain and I didn’t want to regret passing on the race, I booked myself a room and right after work headed up North.

I arrived in Livermore about 6:30 which gave me plenty of time to get to the Bankhead Theatre Plaza for packet pick up.  There was a free parking garage right across the street which made getting to the expo extremely easy, I was in and out of the outdoor expo in a matter of minutes.   Tony wasn’t running but he drove down to meet me for dinner, we ended up at Sauced BBQ Spirits AMAZING!   After dinner I headed back to the hotel, laid out my race day clothes and called it a night.

Flat Heather

When I woke up on race morning it was gloomy but no rain yet.  I made a game day decision and changed my outfit up a bit, I changed out my capris for long shorts and replaced the long sleeve shirt under a short sleeve shirt for my usual tank and I brought the long sleeve shirt just in case AND I went with a yellow Sparkle Athletic skirt instead of the purple.  My hotel was only about ten minutes from the start, I parked in the garage I had used for the expo it was extremely fast and easy.  When I got to the staging area I decided I didn’t need my long sleeve shirt so I checked it at bag check, walked around a bit and chatted with other runners before the start.

The start and finish line

The start and finish line

The race started right at 8:00 under an extremely overcast sky, I just kept hoping the rain would hold off until I was done running.  I felt good starting off, the first few miles went smoothly and were mostly on residential streets.  Right before mile four we entered a beautiful park area, I believe it was Sycamore Grove Park and that led right into Veteran’s Park, this was my absolute favorite part of the race!  We exited the parks right before the 10k point, right by the restaurant at Wente Vineyards, the grape vines along the course were just stunning, this is what I was running for the beauty on the course….and the bling.

 

Wente

Wente

I had started feeling twinges in my right calf somewhere around mile five and by the time I was at mile seven they were full-fledged calf cramps, I spent a bit of time trying to stretch them out and trying to walk through it.  From mile seven to mile eleven I was only able to run stretches of .15 before it would cramp up again.  I was upset and frustrated but it was during this time I saw the most amazing thing I had ever seen on a course, I was overjoyed to get this photo, you have no idea.  Best race photo ever (at least I think so)  a wild turkey on the course!!!!

Awesome right!!

Awesome right!!

Around mile eleven I also started worrying about the three-hour course limit, I had been on pace to finish well before that but the cramps really slowed me down so I spent those last few miles pushing myself to run as much as I could and checking the time on my Garmin.  I pushed myself to run the last 400 meters through the finish line with my calf completely cramped up, it was incredible painful but I was happy to be done and right within the three-hour course limit.  I collected my awesome medal, wine glass and sampled a few after run treats from the sponsors.  My legs were extremely sore from the cramping so I decided to pass on the post race festival (I heard it was amazing) and opted to grab a quick bloody mary at Sauced before heading back to the hotel to clean up.  As soon as I got back to my hotel the sky opened up and the rain came down, thank you Mother Nature for holding out.

 

Not quite the outfit I had planned on

I am so happy that I didn’t let my fear of having to run in the rain stop me from a well organized race.  So far this race/course are one of my favorites that I’ve run this year.  I can’t wait to run the Livermore Half Marathon again in 2015, hopefully minus the cramps.  If you’re interested in running next year, early bird registration opened last week you can register here.

The Bling, I love it!

The Bling, I love it!

Participant shirt and wine glass

Participant shirt and wine glass

Mermaid Run San Francisco: Sirena 10

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of Fort Point

Last Sunday I participated in my fourth Mermaid Run in San Francisco.  The Mermaid Run is my favorite event of the year for many reasons,  in 2010 the Mermaid Run was my first 10k ever, it takes place in my favorite city in the United States, the course is stunning, the weather is perfect for running, it has a  smaller participant field, it is one of the most organized runs I’ve participated  in, the energy is amazing and the swag is awesome!

Participant shirt, Finisher Necklace and my bib

Participant shirt, Finisher Necklace and my bib

2013 was an exciting year for the Mermaid Run San Francisco, they added a new distance, the Sirena 10, a 10 mile option.  More exciting than the increased distance was  the course, it would include an out and back along the Golden Gate Bridge.  I could not pass up an opportunity to run across the bridge, Sirena 10 it was!  Registration opened up right around my birthday so my Son gave me one of the best gifts ever, registration for this run….thank you Rob!!

Pre-race photo op

Pre-race photo op

This year the race was being held on Sunday morning so I arrived in San Francisco early Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the Sports Basement Presidio to pick up my packet which consisted of my bib, participant  shirt and a Mermaid Run headband.  Packet pick up for this race is always well organized and efficient so I was in and out in 15 minutes leaving me with plenty of time to enjoy the city before grabbing some Korean hot pot for dinner and calling it an early night so I would be well rested for my run in the morning.

Sirena 10 Runners lined up at the start

Sirena 10 Runners lined up at the start

My hotel was a little more than a mile from the start at the Marina so getting there in plenty  of time for the 7:30 am start was problem free for me, a 15 minute walk down Divisadero Street and I was there.  It was chilly and windy  waiting for the race to start but all of the runners and spectators were having a great time chatting and enjoying the amazing photo ops the Marina has to offer. This year the three distances (10m, 10k & 5k) had staggered start times to account for the difference in the course for each  distance, right at 7:30 the Sirena 10 runners were off.  We headed out Yacht Road and on to Mason Street towards Crissy Field, right away I noticed  that there wasn’t any crowding on the course and was extremely thankful in the staggering of start times.  I passed the 1 mile marker before I knew it where we took a left on Crissy Field Avenue towards  the Presidio.  This is the part of the course I had been dreading, the next two miles would get us to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and that meant one thing, uphill.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the one thing I love in a course is lack of hills but once I made my way up Long Ave to Presidio Promenade/Bay Trail to Fort Point Historic Site and caught my first glimpse of the bridge, the hills were forgotten.

My first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bay Trail

My first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bay Trail

Many of us stopped to take pictures with the amazing view of the bridge behind us before continuing on to mile 3 and our run across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I am not going to lie, this is what I had been waiting months to do.  Many years ago I had walked across the  bridge and last summer Rob, Tony and I rented bikes and rode from San Francisco to Sausalito but I wanted to run it, and run it I was about to do……well after I took in the absolutely AMAZING view, took a handful of pictures which included a shameless selfie or two.

The view right before mile 4 was breathtaking

The view right before mile 4 was breathtaking

Right about mile 4 I found my happy pace and started making my across the bridge.  I was in awe of not only the view but also the amazing women that were already making their way  back across towards the finish.  I happily clapped and cheered on the lead runner and several of  the others behind her as I made my way to the end of the bridge on  to Vista Point and mile 5, the turn around point.

The view from Vista Point

The view from Vista Point

Heading back towards San Francisco we were running towards traffic, I had quite a few people wave and honk as they passed and I got a little excited when the Bacon Bacon truck drove past, thinking to myself that bacon after the run sounded good.  The run back felt effortless to me, I was truly  lost in the moment and taking it all in.  Before I knew it I was at the end of the bridge and mile 7.  One really great thing about having to go up hills at the beginning of the race is that they are downhill on the way back.  It was back down Bay Trail and Long Avenue then we merged in with those running the 10k on Marine Drive, we made our final turn at the Warming House at Fort Point and ran the last two miles into the finish where we received our finishers necklace and post race refreshments.

I am a Mermaid Athlete

I am a Mermaid Athlete

This year by far was my favorite Mermaid Run!  The course was stunning, all I kept thinking to myself while I was running is how lucky am I that I get the opportunity to run in such an amazing city with such magnificent views and have perfect running weather in early November.  With the hill factor I was concerned that I would be off my pace and have a much longer time than I wanted but much to my surprise that didn’t really happen, I was only 5 minutes off my normal 10 mile time.  I definitely rode my runner’s high well into the day.  The Mermaid Run San Francisco remains my favorite event of the year and you can bet I’ll be back next year, I hope the Sirena 10 will be as well.

In front of the Palace of Fine Arts post race

In front of the Palace of Fine Arts post race

Oh and if you’re wondering, I did have that bacon after the race.

I Run This Park

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While I was out doing my 10 mile run yesterday morning all I could think about was just how lucky I am to have such an amazing place to run.  I figured it was time to give some love to the place I refer to as “My Park”.

Dry Creek Park in Clovis is where you can find me on training days, in the 100+ degree heat of the summer as well as during the chilly winter when the temperature dips into the 30’s; I run on Saturdays and walk my dog there on Sundays  Thing is it is so much more than a park to me…..it is my sanctuary and my thinking place, I’ve never gone for a run and had a problem be worse after I’ve thought on it for a few miles out there.  Here is my park in pictures.

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Getting out for a run before the sun rises

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Maggie enjoying a chance to play in the water during a walk

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Shelter with a sitting wall that is a great location to add in a little CrossFit and do some box jumps

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I passed this creek area for three years before I discovered it was there

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Beautiful color when the leaves turn in the Fall

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If I’m running my long run this is right about mile 4

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On a walking day with Maggie

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Lots of places to sit and relax

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I love watching the sun rise during a run

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After a 7 mile run a few weeks back

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon

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Outside of the Expo at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center

Outside of the Expo at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center

On October 6th I completed my fifth half marathon;  the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half.  This was my first non-runDisney half and honestly I was a little nervous about branching out.  I knew that if I wanted to get more that two or three half marathons in a year I had to go out of my comfort zone that is runDisney.

In early Spring my Twitter feed was full of tweets about the Rock ‘n’ Roll races and I started doing some research.  I discovered that most of my runner friends had run a Rock ‘n’ Roll event and had nothing but good things to say about their experience; furthermore it was pointed out to me that RnR San Jose was a fast, flat course and if I love hearing one thing about a course it’s the word flat.  It was decided then and there, I had to run this race.  Luckily my birthday was a few weeks away and my sister gave me my entry as my gift, yeah I know, awesome gift!!!

The view from my room

The view from my room

I live approximately three hours from San Jose so I booked a room at the host hotel, The Hilton San Jose.  The hotel was a no brainer since it is attached to the San Jose Convention Center and that’s where the expo was being held.  Tony decided to run with me, so we met at the convention center on Saturday afternoon to pick up our packets.  We had printed our waivers before we arrived so the process was quick and easy.  We presented our waivers as we entered the convention center where we were given our bibs, t-shirts and gear bag.  We had to go through the rather small expo in order to exit the convention center, that took us just about 20 minutes start to finish….easy peasy.  After the expo we wandered around Downtown San Jose and wrapped up our night with dinner at Morton’s which is starting to become a pre-race dinner tradition.

San Jose Museum of Art

San Jose Museum of Art

On race morning I was up at 5:30 and headed down to have a light breakfast in the hotel restaurant before heading out to the corrals just two blocks away.  It was sunny and brisk when we lined up in our corral just about an hour before race time.  The corrals were much smaller than I was used to, I actually enjoyed that they were a lot less crowded than I had experienced  in my past races.  There was music playing and the air was full of excitement as we were waiting for the race to kick off.  The race started right on time with each corral starting about every three minutes, before I knew it we were on our way.

A picture of the crowd before the start

A picture of the crowd before the start

Me and Tony pre-race

Me and Tony pre-race

Tony runs just about a minute faster mile than I do so when we run together I push myself more and we meet somewhere in the middle of his pace and mine.  Knowing how running with Tony pushes me and that this was a flat course I was hoping for a PR.  The first 4 miles flew by as we ran through the Downtown area.  We passed through residential neighborhoods, the spectators were amazing.  There were people set up on their front lawns playing instruments, others were having a block party of sorts enjoying their coffee and cheering us on.  I loved this.  What I also loved about the course was it was wide open, no crowding issues what so ever.  When we came up on water stations they were set up on both sides of the road and if you chose not to stop you could continue running through the middle.

Shortly after passing the mile 4 marker I started getting dizzy and a bit nauseous, but I continued to run thinking it may just be the heat as it warmed up quickly after the start and the sun was beating down (San Jose did hit a high of 86 degrees that day).  I made it a point to drink at the next two water stops, the dizziness went away but as soon as we made it to mile 7 I started getting calf cramps.  I tried to stretch them out, walked a bit but every time I tried to run I couldn’t go more that a tenth of a mile before the cramping began again.  We passed by a corner market and Tony went in and bought me some salt and an electrolyte drink hoping this would help.  After walking a bit more we tried to run again and I was still cramping up, looked like we would be walking the rest of the race.

To say I was upset and disappointed would be an understatement.  I had been so looking forward to this race and WANTED that PR.  I tried to take it all in as we continued along the course, the bands, the spectators and the beautiful city that San Jose is.  It was hard I don’t know how many times I told Tony that we hit the 10k mark right at 1:15, if we had kept going at that pace I would have met my goal.  I had also dedicated this run to my Grandmother and my Aunt who are breast cancer survivors and I felt like I let them down, basically I spent the last six miles of the race feeling very much like I failed.  After what seemed like hours we came up on mile 13 and ran the rest of the way in to the finish, where we received our medals and post race refreshments.  I had been looking forward to enjoying the post race Atlas Genius concert but after the race I just wanted to get back to the hotel, clean up and have some lunch before the drive home.  We stopped for our post-race photo and headed back to the hotel.

Post race, I was happy it was over

Post race, I was happy it was over

It took me a few days to accept that I had just had a bad run.  It’s happened on training runs before, I know we all have them, I just wasn’t prepared for it to happen on race day. I do want to be clear, I had a bad race, me alone.  Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose was an extremely well run event with a fantastic course and amazing spectators.  I will be running other Rock ‘n’ Roll races in the future and watch out San Jose I’m coming for you again in 2014!

Live Ultimate Quarter Marathon

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November 2010 I ran my very first 10k at Crissy Field in San Francisco, since then I’ve run a total of three 10k’s there and every time I’m in the city I run Crissy Field if there is time; it’s my favorite course.  I was excited to see that there was going to be a new run, the Live Ultimate Quarter Marathon/5k on June 30, Tony and I registered right away.

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A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field

Parking was plentiful when we arrived at Crissy Field about an hour before the 8:30 start time.  We made our way to the start area, across from the Sports Basement where they had late packet pick up as well as various sponsor booths set up.  We had picked up our race packets the day before so we took our time taking pictures and enjoying the view.  Tony, being just six weeks post op rotator cuff surgery and is still in a sling so we decided that he would walk and I would run the race.

Me and Tony before the race

It was a very warm 65 degrees as we lined up towards the back of the starting corral.  The race started right at 8:30, with all runners (quarter marathon and 5k) starting at the same time.  The course was extremely crowded as we ran the first three quarters of a mile along Old Mason Street towards the Marina, then we turned towards the bay and ran down the path of hard packed sand and pebbles on Marine Drive towards the Golden Gate Bridge. I quickly fell into my pattern of running 3 minutes walking 1.5 minutes.

As we approached mile 2 the trail became uneven asphalt with various potholes, it is important to pay attention while you’re running which can be difficult with the sheer beauty of the course.  Although it isn’t the halfway point of the route, once you pass the Warming House at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge it is the turnaround point as you head back towards the Marina.  At mile 3 those that were running the 5k took a left along the path on Old Mason and ran into the finish; at that point crowding wasn’t an issue anymore and you could run without having to go around other participants.  It was an unusually warm day in San Francisco and between miles 2-3 and 5-6 the sun was beating down and I noticed I wasn’t the only runner dripping with sweat.  Running along the Bay miles 1-2 and 4-5 we had a breeze to cool us off.

There was one water stop along the course right about mile 1.5 which was also mile 6, I heard some grumblings about there only being one stop but even with the heat I found it sufficient as I normally don’t hydrate during any run 10k or less.  Once I got to mile marker 6 I knew there was only a little more than a half mile to go, I took my last walk break and ran the rest of the way to the finish line.  I finished in 1:21:51,I collected my medal, my timing chip was removed from my shoe by a volunteer and was able to get a banana and a couple of Live Ultimate Green Teas for Tony and I and I headed back to the finish line to wait for him to come in.  I didn’t have long to wait as Tony came in at 1:39:33, a great time for walking the whole race his right arm in a sling.

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Overall it was a well put together event, it started on time, the course was clearly marked, there were plenty of volunteers as well as emergency personnel on hand if needed and there were plenty of after race refreshments.  I would have liked to see more than one volunteer at packet pick up and I was very disappointed with the sizing of the participant t-shirts, although stylish and extremely soft the men’s ran large while the women’s ran at least two sizes too small.  I would also suggest starting the race in two waves, allowing the Quarter Marathon runners to start 10 to 15 minutes before the 5k to alleviate course crowding.  I hope Live Ultimate continues this race each year, it would make my must do list.

 

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Me and Tony post race

Hemingway Run:

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Heather in the Middle

I blog about Running and CrossFit and finishing in the middle of the pack....mostly