Monday, September 26, 2011

From Stationary Spectating to Mobile Spectating

After two weekends of spectating races, I'm making my way up in the race-spectating food chain. Last weekend, Page's husband and I moved a mere .5 of a mile to cheer in two different San Jose locations. Yesterday, I cheered/spectated over the course of 14.5 miles in Half Moon Bay -- all by foot!

Queue the Half Moon Bay International Marathon -- another first-year race set along the beautiful edge of the West Coast. Alisyn had been training for this race for months, RoadBunner & her boyfriend had been signed up since registration opened, Dennis is a freak and just kind of runs everything successfully, and Naomi was registered for the 10k.

Courtney & I headed out of San Francisco early Sunday morning to meet up with Katie. The HMB course is kind of crazy in that runners start at a point, run north for about 6 miles, turn around and run south back to the starting point, continue south for about another 7.5 miles, and then turn around and head north back to the start. So, yeah, doing the math, they saw the start/finish line 4 times. Which really can't be fun.

I'm basically stealing all these photos from RoadBunner & Courtney. Thanks, friends.

Oh, silly Half Moon Bay Marathon & your inefficient course maps!
You are lucky you are pretty in person.

Katie & I (and her cowbell) stop for a photo op on the HMB course while making our way to the southernmost point of the race.

One of the best parts of the HMB Marathon: BAGPIPES outside the Ritz! And gorgeous scenery.

This place is real.

Courtney, Katie, & I parked at the finish, and then ran 7.5 miles down to the final turnaround of the race. We then waited for Alisyn to come by, where the plan was to hop in and run with her back to the finish, for a total of 15 miles for the day.

One of the coolest things about this well-organized race was that it was so tiny. I think I read that only 106 people ran the marathon, and there were just 500 people for all events (marathon, half marathon, 10k, & 5k). I can say with all honestly I think we were able to cheer for EVERY person who did an event, sometimes multiple times because of the turnarounds. How awesome.

As we waited around the 18.5 mile marker, Alisyn came by, flying like an eagle & looking great, but Courtney and I had a hard time keeping up. We've both been pretty burned out lately, so we took the route back easily, just chatting and enjoying the scenery with plenty of walk breaks. It was such a fun morning!

Courtney, me, and the lovely Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay: I love you & might do your half next year, even though I hate your single-track dirt trails.

If you can even begin to wrap your mind around this, HMB was RoadBunner's 29th marathon. Yup. She's run a marathon every year since birth, pretty much. :)

Remember when I raced RoadBunner's boyfriend, E, at the St. Patrick's Day 5k earlier this year? He ran the half marathon and totally kicked ass. Here are the cute couple post-race. (I took this photo with their camera -- can I take some credit?)

Ummm... coolest running picture ever? I think so. Here's Alisyn flying by us near her last turnaround point.

Naomi & RoadBunner show off their bling!

Dennis was featured in the Half Moon Bay Patch for this spectacular water hand-off. And the fact he got a 3-minute marathon PR without trying. (Oh, and he also did the Napa Ragnar Relay last weekend, so he essentially did this tough course on tired legs. Amazing.)

We are sexy, even in foil blankets! (Left to right: Courtney, me, E, Dennis, Katie, Naomi, & RoadBunner. Not pictured: Alisyn. WHERE WAS SHE?)

I'm getting really good at this spectating thing, and I seriously hope to keep it up since I'm having a lot of fun with it! Next up: I'm really hoping to catch my opposite-coast blogger buddy Susan while she runs the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis/St. Paul next weekend!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Marathon-Turned-Half-Marathon-Turned-Spectating-A-Race Recap

Rewind to the beginning of 2011:

My goal was to run the May 1st Big Sur 21-miler as a training run for the July 31st San Francisco Marathon. I then wanted to run SFM as a practice run for the NorCal Marathon, where I was going to attempt a sub-4 as my main goal for the year.

I ended up running the full marathon at Big Sur and accidentally got my sub-4 there, then went on to get a 3:44 at San Francisco, and decided I was going to go for broke at the NorCal Marathon to see what I was made of.

Well, NorCal was this weekend, and what I wasn't planning on happening was coming down with a major case of burnout paired with a minor case of anemia (more on that later). Last week I decided to officially drop to the half marathon. Further confirming my decision was the fact it was a billion degrees when we got to San Jose; it was a first-year race; and it was a confusing route with out-and-backs, gravel, and sharp turnarounds.

My "go for broke" marathon turned into a "just do the mileage" half marathon. Nothing more, nothing less. Yesterday morning, I made it to the starting line.

That was as far as I got.

Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls! I present to you... my first DNS!

About 5 minutes before the race, I made the executive/medical decision to not run. I stepped to the sideline, hung out with Page's husband Chicken Face, smothered their adorable dog Lola, and cheered on my friends who had more balls than I did. I even ran into the super cute Audrey, who was out on a run of her own -- and then realized she was running with a cowbell just to make some noise for the racers!

The starting line -- a pretty great turnout for a first-year race.

Me and Miss Lola, cheering on runners! Lola definitely stole the show at the race.

Weeee! Happy 2nd birthday, little Lola!

Chicken Face and I made our way down to the mile 3 marker so we could watch for our friends. Page and Katie baaaaaasically led the way.

Alisyn rocking some stellar running form in her hometown race!

True: Kristin has never taken a bad running picture. (Actually, I don't think she's taken a bad picture period.)

After all our runners came by mile 3, we made our way over to the finishing area to watch people start crossing. Because there was prize money on the line, a few Olympic Trial runners showed up and it was incredible to watch them zip through. There's something about elite runners that's so beautiful and graceful to watch -- those gazelles make running look effortless. I was glad I had the chance to see this. Obviously, it's something I wouldn't have seen had I been on the course myself.

Katie & Page finished side-by-side and placed 6th & 7th female, respectively. This was by far the coolest thing to watch -- two really good (and really fast!) friends pushing each other to finish a really tough race. Page even walked away with a new PR, and both left with age group prizes.

Alisyn kicking major booty.

See? Kristin always looks good.
After the race we all met up for breakfast & bottomless mimosas. It was the greatest plate of food I never worked for.

Alisyn, who's prepping for the Half Moon Bay marathon next weekend; Katie, who's prepping for the Portland Marathon in three weeks; and me, a lazy slacker who's enjoying every minute of throwing training plans straight out the window.

Key takeaway:
  • If going for broke at this race was truly a test of what I was made of... I guess I'm made for spectating.
In all honesty, though, it was nice to be a part of a race in a non-running/non-volunteering fashion. I must do more of it, only next time I need to remember to pack a cowbell in my sweat bag.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon WINNER!

I know this was a super-duper short time frame for a giveaway, so thanks to all of you who were honest about being ready for a half marathon and decided to enter! I tallied all the official entries and we still had a pretty awesome turnout.

I can be professional with giveaways at times.

The simple way of choosing a winner...

Winner winner, meatless-chicken dinner!

Congrats to PAVEMENT RUNNER! You are running the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon AGAIN, for the 5th year in a row! Please email me at diaryofanaveragerunner [at] gmail [dot] com & I'll send you your registration code stat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Giveaway! Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon


I have ONE entry to the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon to give to a lucky reader!* Could that lucky reader be you?

Race day is Oct. 2, 2011.

Entering the contest -- or earning multiple entries, in this case -- is simple!

1. Follow my blog, and let me know that you do. (Required)
2. Link/Announce this giveaway on your blog, and let me know that you did. (1 entry)
3. Follow me on Twitter (@DiaryAvgRunner), and let me know that you do. (1 entry)
4. Tweet about this giveaway -- feel free to be creative, just include my blog and my Twitter handle. Something along the lines of "Check out for @diaryavgrunner's RnR SJ Half Marathon giveaway!" will work fine. (1 entry)
5. For fun, let me know why you want to run this race! (1 entry)

I will announce one random winner at noon THIS THURSDAY, September 15th.

Hope you're "half marathon ready" because this race is coming up soon -- October 2, 2011. It's going to be one hell of a party! Good luck!

Bling bling!

*I am not affiliated with the Rock 'n' Roll race series other than my connection with Brooks Running, the company who gave me an entry into the race. I simply have a registration code I cannot use and am passing it along.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Part 4 of ???: Hood to Coast Relay Recap -- My Legs of the Relay

With Hood to Coast being more than a week ago already (!), I need to act on recapping my legs of the race before I forgot everything. My brain is bad these days -- and I was really tired & sleep-deprived during the race -- so this will be reconstructed from photos I'm stealing from others.

My first leg:
Hood to Coast estimate: 5.67 miles, difficulty rating Hard, predicted pace of 7:04 min/miles
Actual leg: 5.34 miles, difficulty rating I'd call Moderate, actual pace of 7:40 min/miles

This leg of the race was entirely downhill -- it dropped 1,500 feet of elevation in the span of 5+ miles -- and if it weren't for the fact that it completely shreds up your quads, I'd call this leg "Easy." There's a fine line between letting gravity pull you, putting out too much effort because of adrenaline, and trying to fight gravity. I think I did a good job of letting the mountain pull me downhill -- until the very last few minutes of the leg, when my shoe came untied.

Yup, I seriously saw Caitlin waiting for the hand-off about a quarter of a mile away, and I had to pull over to tie my shoe. Awesome.

Getting read for Tricia to charge into the transition area.

Look at that smooth exchange! You'd never know we were relay newbs.
I think this is the only photo Ricardo? Diego? got of me running. :)
Yup, van driver Alex did a better job photographing -- USING AN IPHONE -- than the professional photographer did. ;)
5.34 miles later, I'm coming into the pass to hand off to Caitlin.
BAM. Pros.
My only gripe about this leg of the race was that it was painfully hot for my sissy SF-self. With temperatures in the mid-80s at 1:30 in the afternoon, there was no shade along this stretch of the highway. The recently repaved sections of the road smelled of nauseating asphalt and radiated even more heat.

It was seriously SO BEAUTIFUL running down Mount Hood and through the forest, though, that all of this is definitely forgivable. :)

Time: 5.34 miles in 41:01
My splits: 7:41, 7:39, 7:35, 7:35, 7:56, 7:28 pace -- average pace of 7:40 min/miles

My second leg:
Hood to Coast estimate:
6.08 miles, difficulty rating of Moderate, predicted pace of 8:20 min/miles
Actual leg: 6.07 miles, difficulty rating I'd call Hard, actual pace of 7:56 min/miles

This was my nighttime leg along the wonderful industrial part of Portland. (By wonderful, I mean boring.) While a few of our runners got a scenic view of downtown Portland and the riverfront, I ran along the highway next to a big rig loading zone. It was still hot even at night, but thankfully every time a rig passed, a gust of wind would blow by and provide a welcomed breeze.

Because it was dark, I couldn't tell exactly but the entire leg felt uphill. I was also fatigued from running just a few hours earlier (and I was stuffed from snarfing down a veggie burger and a mountain of fries at a delicious local brewery), so this could be why this leg felt harder than predicted.

Headphones are banned from the HTC course, and I resorted to counting my steps to 100 and then starting all over again to keep myself occupied during this leg. If was really desperate, I sang the 10 words I know from "Party Rock Anthem."

Van 1 & Van 2 met up for second time, and I was excited to see Tonia & Susan in Portland!

Chatting with an AfterNUUN Delight runner running the same legs as me, the adorable Mrs. Dorothy, in our transition area. It was great that we spent most of the race neck & neck.

Dorothy and me before our night legs.

Before I knew it, Tricia was handing me the baton.

Can you find me running along the creepy highway? Thanks for snagging this picture, Lauren!
Again, this leg was hard mentally because there was no scenery, I was tired, I didn't know how much further I had left, the whole leg felt like a gradual uphill, and I couldn't get that crappy LMFAO song out of my head. My bib number was covered as I headed into the exchange, so unfortunately the announcer couldn't let Caitlin know I was ready. I stood around for a minute or so looking for her before I was able to make the hand-off.

This was definitely not my favorite leg of the race, but it was still an unforgettable experience!

Time: 6.07 miles in 48:10
My splits: 8:00, 7:41, 7:52, 8:06, 8:00, 7:54, 8:06 pace -- average pace of 7:56 min/miles

My third leg:
Hood to Coast estimate: 5.77 miles, difficulty rating of Hard, predicted pace of 8:27 min/miles
Actual leg: 5.73 miles, difficulty rating I'd call Moderate, actual pace of 7:45 min/miles

After getting a few hours of totally restless sleep inside a van, I was feeling more energized and was ready to take on my last leg of the race. Thankfully Mist, OR lives up to its name and I felt at home when I woke up to the site of thick fog. It burned off quickly, but I definitely appreciated the cooler morning temperatures.

Waiting for Tricia to plow through the crowds for our final hand-off.
A-ha! I busted Lisa taking pictures of me. :)
3-2-1 Blast off!

So excited to almost be done.
I took off running way too quickly because it was easy to convince myself I only had this short portion of the relay left! When I approached my final uphill, though, I couldn't hold that pace anymore. I slowed my stride, took a short walk break, and soaked in the expansive green fields around me. Oregon is a truly beautiful place and I'm glad I was able to leave everything I had out there.

Time: 5.73 miles in 44:30
My splits: 7:20, 7:23, 7:24, 7:51, 8:48, 7:44 pace -- average pace of 7:45 min/miles

FINISHED & the sun is still rising!

When all was said and done, I ran a total of 17.15 miles at an average pace of 7:45 minute miles.

Official Nuun Platuun Stats:
Location: Mt. Hood, OR to Seaside, OR (200 miles)
Date: 8/26/11-8/27/11
Official Time: 27:59.17 -- Oh, hell yeah! Who finished in under 28 hours!?! Nuun Platuun did, that's who! #WINNING
Average Pace: 8:24 min/mile
Women's Open Division Place: 7 out of 38
Overall Place: 293 out of 1,268
Air Temp: Upper 60s in the morning, upper 80s in the afternoon

If you want to know more about how the rest of my team did during their legs of the race, check out their recaps. I wish I were as punctual as they all were. :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Part 3 of ???: Hood to Coast Relay Recap -- Bloggers Taking Over

Between Wednesday afternoon when I arrived, and late Thursday afternoon when the last of the bloggers arrived, we had a good ole time in Seattle.

I went a day early to hang out with some friends who live in Seattle. On Thursday morning, I met up with Susan and Lauren in their hotel -- actually, I met up with them after I showed up at the wrong hotel and knocked on a complete stranger's door -- where we not-so-promptly ate a late breakfast and met up with another Seattle blogger, Alma.

Alma was not running Hood to Coast this year, but she was kind enough to take us on a walking tour of downtown Seattle on her lunch break and tell us about her past experiences with the race.

Alma & me at Pike's Place Market.

Alma, Lauren, me, & Susan at the first Starbucks.
After an afternoon walking around in the blazing heat, Lauren, Susan, and I headed toward the hotel to meet our long-lost blogger friends and start decorating our vans.

I have read some of these women's blogs for a long time, it was sooooo cool getting to meet them in person -- some of them looked JUST like their blog pictures, and I felt totally star-struck seeing them in front of me.

Meeting Kerrie for the first time,
while Harmony, Tricia, and Jess await a nasty hug from me. :)

Nuun Platuun Van 2 had our slogan and our code names on the windows.
Harmony adding flare to her van.
I got my own window?!

What all the suckers behind us had to see.

After a pretty restless night's sleep in a nearby hotel (come on, we're a bunch of girls who stay up late talking!), we all tucked into our newly decorated rental vans and headed toward Oregon to run the biggest relay race in the world.

Some of Nuun Platuun Van 1, trying to look tough... others, not so much.
(left to right: Kerrie, Tricia, Caitlin, me, Alex [van driver],
Lisa, & Margot)

Getting settled in for endless hours in this van.

Nuun Platuun Van 2 waiting for us at the first van exchange
(left to right: Jess, XLMIC, Kim, Susan, Tonia, & Harmony)

Our van's view of Mount Hood, the start of the biggest relay race in the world.

Nuun Platuun Van 1, with Mount Hood in the background.
Margot helping me apply warpaint during the roadtrip.

Up on Mount Hood & ready to start this race!