Category Archives: running

Travel Running: Canyonlands Half-Marathon – Moab, UT

Registering for Moab’s Canyonlands Half-Marathon was a decision-made-easy by the TAD crew, at least 5 of whom would be joining in for the fun. It was confirmed as a good life decision when we started doing some research about what areas could be explored before and after running 13.1 miles in southern Utah! What was not part of those initial plans (for me) was a one-week trip to Israel right before this race, or an additional half-marathon, or jet-lag.

In other words, this post should actually be titled one of the following:

“What not to do before racing Canyonlands Half-marathon!”

OR

How to make the most of your Canyonlands – Moab,UT weekend! No PR included.”

You choose.

Arches National Park_DOTR

We arrived late on Thursday night, because Moab is actually much further from Las Vegas than we had anticipated (but not much closer to any other major city; especially not one with a direct flight from Monterey, CA). Friday morning was reserved for some exploring in Arches National Park, and by exploring I mean choosing the longest “difficult” hike (7.2 mile round-trip trek to the Double-O Arch) and also getting lost (not recommended).

Four hours later, we finally sat down for lunch at Eklectica Cafe, which I highly recommend paying a visit to! I opted for the Vegetable Hummus Wrap and a side of potatoes, because carbs.

Moab Eklectica Cafe outside_DOTR

The rest of Friday was spent checking out downtown, the race expo (easy to find and navigate!) and our hotel room. Feet up!

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One of the tricky aspects of this race is the start time – scheduled for a late morning kick-off, at 10 a.m. I assume there must be some logic behind this, from a Race Director stand-point, but I couldn’t tell you what that is. What I do know: there’s a generous window within which you catch a shuttle to the starting line (7:30am – 8:15am) and then a long waiting period within which you try to stay warm and entertained before actually letting your feet move!

We left the hotel early and hit-up the Love Muffin Cafe (I mean, seriously – the names of these little places!) for coffee & breakfast. Then we walked over to catch an early shuttle – we were dropped off around 8am and plopped ourselves up on a rock and bundled up. There’s a DJ, water + coffee + hot-chocolate station, plenty of bathrooms, a short walk up to the bag-check and and starting line and no sunshine (yet).

TAD sweatshirt_Canyonlands Half Marathon H+M_Canyonlands Half Marathon
Team Amazing Day_Canyonlands Start

All the TAD people! Left to Right: Emma, Jeff, Ashley, Jen, Katie, Hope & me.

Canyonlands Half Marathon Starting Line_DOTR  Team Amazing Day_Canyonlands Half Marathon

Okay, let’s finally get this ball rolling…

Miles 1 –3: have a net downhill, so I had the go-ahead to let the legs be free and the strides be open and gauge how things felt. What I would soon learn I had severely underestimated: jet-lag (see: Jerusalem), altitude (see: 4500 ft) and hiking (see: 8 mile, 4 hour trek). I was pretty quickly aware of how the day would go – these miles were just under 8s, but they should have been a very comfortable sub-8. There were not.

Pleasant surprise: Beth! Oh hey, girl. Hadn’t seen her smiling face in a few days and after a full Israel-week of her energy, that’s a long stretch! She snuck up behind me like a jerk and I was all cranky like “personal space!” and then I realized who it was. That was probably the one and only time I laughed for the next 90 minutes…

Miles 4-8: were supposed to be “comfortable, but close to the edge”. It was pretty clear that for today, that blissful middle-racing-ground was nowhere to be found. It was either ease up and prolong the suffer, or keep the speed, even though it’s much closer to uncomfortable than anything else. My headphones quit but my ego was all charged up. The good thing is that this wasn’t a goal-race. It was meant to be a PR-attempt in the middle of marathon training, but then an opportunity to travel to Jerusalem popped up that I couldn’t turn down, and I got home two days before turning the suitcase inside out and leaving again. I had to have a little chat with myself that basically relayed this message:

It’s okay if you don’t PR today, but it’s not okay if you give in. It’s okay if you don’t run your fastest miles, but it’s not okay if you don’t remind yourself what it feels like to put in the effort. It’s okay if you’re tired, it’s not okay if you let fatigue wear you down. It’s okay if you have nothing left to give, but it’s not okay if you stop giving anything at all.

Canyonlands Half marathon_Running DOTR

Somewhere around mile 9: I had to pick it up, because that was the plan and because I want my legs to remember how it feels to push through that familiar race-day fatigue and maintain a pace nonetheless.

Miles 10-13: are bare and rough. Up to this point you have bouts of shade thanks to the canyon walls, but now? You have the almost-noon desert sun beating down on you. You’re out of the beautiful canyon and onto a highway. You know you’re close, but you’re not nearly close enough. Mike hopped back in to run me through that last mile (his finish – 1:30), and I immediately told him “No coaching!” (which means “no encouraging cheerleading statements about “almost there!” or “pick it up!” or whatever – nada!). Which was just a more efficient way of saying I am so effing exhausted WHERE IS THE FINISH LINE?! He caught on. As soon as the Finisher’s shoot began he hopped out but said “Catch that  guy ahead of you – you’ve got him!” and I sure as hell tried.

Canyonlands Half Marathon Finish_DOTR

2015 Canyonlands Half-Marathon – 1:47
Overall
: 278 of 2121
AG (F 25-29): 13 of 161

Team Amazing Day_Canyonlands Finish Group_DOTR

The team had a great showing – a few PRs and a lot of happy runners!

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What you should know about the Canyonlands Half Marathon:

– Moab, UT is a gorgeous town with great opportunities for hiking and general desert exploring. Plan at least a day or two to get through Arches National Park, enjoy craft beer & great food, and see the sights.

– The organization and execution of this race are seamless! All of the provided information is easy to follow and everything was on-time.

– Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts book up quickly! We stayed at the River Canyon Lodge, walking-distance to the shuttle pick-up, and the rest of the team shared a vacation rental home, also within walking distance. There are a lot of options that won’t require you to drive or park on race-day!

– Canyonlands Park is stunning. You’re in for a treat! The course is beautiful for 11 miles, and then kind of brutal at the end. But you’ll be tired during those last two miles either way, so just get through them.

– It’s chilly at the start, but you can throw clothes ‘away’ or pack them into your bag before letting it go (which we did). You’ll warm up in that southwestern sun very quickly, so don’t overdress!

– Moab’s elevation is around 4,000 feet – plan accordingly!

Where we ate before and after (and recommend!):

– Sweet Cravings Bakery & Bistro (coffee + post-race treats)

– Eklectica Cafe (Friday lunch)

– Peace Tree Cafe (Post-race Lunch)

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Add this one to your scenic half-marathon bucket list – you won’t be disappointed!

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Travel Running: Jerusalem (1/2) Marathon 2015

At the beginning of February I received an invitation from the Israel Ministry of Tourism to run the Jerusalem Marathon with a Press group. Attached at the bottom of this e-mail was a full itinerary outlining all of the places you would want to see in the country, crammed into six days. I would leave two days after the wedding, with his full support. Yep, I’m in!

Our “North American” press group was about 15 people, give or take as we had some come and go throughout the week, and we mostly arrived on Tuesday. This allowed plenty of time to adjust to the time change (+9 hours for us west coasters) and also to tour the city of Jerusalem before we ran all around it! Our itinerary covered most of the highlights before we stepped up to the starting line, which meant some of the kilometers (no mile markers here!) actually looked familiar.

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A little bit about the Jerusalem Marathon…

25,000 runners registered – four distances offered ranging from 5 – 42.2k!
2,500 runners represented over 60 countries!
The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Bakat, ran the half-marathon.
This is only the 5th year of the race & it’s growing quickly!
It is one of the best organized and designed races I’ve run to-date!

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Since we were part of the Press, we got our own tent to camp out in before the race started! This also meant we had some extra snacks, a place to store our gear and a first look at the Finishing line area.

2015-03-12 04.02.23  2015-03-12 20.40.05

A few of us opted to run the half-marathon – there’s no way I could have been 26.2-ready in 5 weeks, and I thought it’d be nice to have walking capabilities for the remainder of the trip. Both before and after the race I was happy with this decision; as it turns out, Jerusalem is no friend to flat running! Scanning the course elevation chart for a flat section is like  looking for a stretch of low altitude while climbing a Colorado 14-er. Not gonna happen. We received multiple friendly warnings from the PR crew, veteran runners and the city itself as we toured around in the days prior. This course is not for the faint of quads!

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Sharon, Kim, Lorraine & I gearing up for 13.1 miles!

Thinking about a half-marathon as 21 kilometers instead of 13 miles was the first thing that distracted my mind. I ran without music but with my camera at-the-ready to take many pics! While the endless hills will challenge you in every way, you’ll soon find yourself too distracted to care much. With every up comes a stunning view, with every down comes the glorious feeling of flight. It all balances out.

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My mind found entertainment and awe at every angle: meeting a pair of runners there from San Francisco (oh, hey!), running through now-familiar stretches of the city, passing our hotel, stopping through neighborhoods that bare local shops and restaurants, and looking left and right at views like this (see above). We ran through the Old City on historic cobblestone, up to the Promenade for a breathtaking 360* outlook, through multiple neighborhoods, along a running path and up, down, up and then down again. At one point I saw a sign pointing to “Bethlehem”, which almost tempted me to veer off course.

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2015-03-12 22.49.14  2015-03-12 23.01.47

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2015-03-12 23.38.07

We had perfect race-day conditions – sunny with a high of 60* – and the course was well-supported with aid stations, music, cheerers and free food! (We hear the marathoners had a hummus station!) I miraculously remembered to pack my handheld water-bottle, and was lucky enough to snatch up some Sport Beans from Sharon. I wasn’t sure how the “Isotonic” electrolyte race-drink would settle, so I got sodium and sugar from jelly beans instead.

I had every intention of taking it “easy” throughout the race so I could enjoy the views, the culture, the city and the fact that WHOA-I’m-running-an-international-race! But, I assure you, there is no taking it easy here. You’ll be in awe through every kilometer, but your cardio system will not be relaxed. It’s okay. Roll with it. Use the downhills and don’t you try to walk on the ups!

Twice I started to take a little break to ease up on the legs, and twice I was immediately encouraged by racers around me to “Keep going!” After which, I took a look around and realized something very noteworthy of the Jerusalem running community: nobody walks. My pace/corral/what-have-you was full of people who were all like these hills got nothin’ on me. Tough crowd, yo.

After one loooooong lovely incline, we were finally close to the end. The finish line was in sight! I hit a pothole and went down (that’s a first!), popped right back up and crossed the 21.1 KM mark. With a water bottle & medal in-hand, I went straight for “Medical” to get things cleaned up. That’s another first.  Once I was bandaged, I stepped out of the tent and faced what can only be described as a Finisher’s PARTY.

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With most of the Expo vendors back for more, this zone was ablaze with energy, gear on sale, food, tons of music and a great crowd.

2015-03-13 01.01.39 At the end of the kilometers, I was exhausted, a little bloody and completely elated to have just run through an incredible city. I would recommend this to any and all looking to add to their traveling + running adventures, no doubt. It was extremely well 0rganized and it’s an amazing way to see this city on foot!

2015 Jerusalem 1/2 Marathon
1:56 – AG: 46 / 347    Overall W: 78/795

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Check out my travel buddies + bloggers for the full marathon report!

Beth – Shut Up & Run
Teresa – Eat Drink & Be Skinny
Adam – Run Haven
Dax –  Dirty Running

Full disclosure: My trip to Israel and Jerusalem Marathon registration were paid for by the Israel Ministry of Tourism but all opinions and race experiences reported above are my own!

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Coming up: Our post-race trip to the Dead Sea & Tel Aviv, some of the best food in the Mediterranean and the best people to travel with!

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March Madness: Jerusalem & Canyonlands 1/2-Marathons

The quest to run at least one race per month continues (Jan, Feb), but March is totally throwing down the gauntlet and being like, THAT’S what’s up, y’all. In the span of 15 days I will have run two half-marathons on two continents;  a personal feat I never had on my bucket list, but will be accomplished nonetheless.

I have no idea how I so epically lucked out, but the stars decided to align so perfectly that my feet will be touching down in Asia for the first time. (Ignore the fact that two days after we get hitched, I’m jetting out of the country. He understands wanderlust and adventuring; we’re good!) Once that sinks in, I’ll be running the Jerusalem (1/2) Marathon for my first international race. And once that sinks in, I’ll actually be sinking my legs into the Dead Sea for a little recovery + cloud-9 floating.

jerusalem-marathon-2015
Image source.

To say this is a surreal opportunity is an understatement. To be honest, I had no idea there was a Jerusalem Marathon, but it seems like thousands of runners were a few strides ahead of me in their international race adventuring. To feed my wanderlust, there was no way I was passing this one up. More to come!

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Once that adventure wraps up, we’re heading to Utah! He’s never seen southern Utah or the Grand Canyon, and I never turn down a chance to gallivant around the Southwest and get back to my roots. We’re capping the trip with flights + nights in Vegas, because it’s direct from here and he doesn’t turn down a chance to hit the strip (we’re different in that way… #notmyfavorite).

In the middle of this back n’ forth, we’ll set up camp in Moab, UT for a few days to run through the Canyonlands and hike around the National Parks in the area.  A few teammates will be there, so it’s a TAD family affair!

Canyonlands Half-marathon
Image Source.

By the time we get back from all of the above, April will be creeping up and it’ll be time to start picking a distance to fill that month’s box!

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Brazen Racing’s Hellyer Half-Marathon

We have a goal to race at least once per month this year, and most of those adventures will be on the trails of California’s Central Coast! Brazen Racing showed us a great time (and thorough a**-kicking) with our first trail half-marathon last September, so we’ve been looking for the right opportunity to cross under their inflated Start/Finish arch again.

Hellyer Half Starting Line

BR’s head honcho, Sam, offered me a free entry to the Hellyer Half-Marathon, so I convinced my main squeeze to join in the fun. There’s no better way to distract yourself one week before standing at the altar! We happily joined in for some sunny  and supported paved-trail miles.

Brazen is known for trail races around the San Jose area, but this course wouldn’t typically be filed under that category. That’s 100% fine by these legs – it was the perfect chance to see how well my fitness has bounced back from the knee chaos that was. It was his chance to snatch up that 1:29:xx PR that he’s been chasing (successful!).

Hellyer Half-Marathon:
Flat, out-and-back (no surprises!) and well-supported!

Hellyer Half Trail

His goal was to practice starting SLOW (relative term here) and building up to a successful negative split. My goal was to simply make it through 13.1 miles with “ease” and finally feel like the injury is behind me.

The first few miles were a little rusty – remembering how it feels to race for endurance, warming up, getting my stride to a comfortably-hard effort. I settled into an 8:30 pace and turned on auto-pilot. The first half was spent in this zone, with two very happy feet and one happy ego. I practiced my race-fueling strategy (taking a tip from Dean Karnazes and trying out dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans), ran without tunes (ah, the zen…) and snapped a few pics along the way.

Mile 7: We turned around  and headed straight back. Around mile 8 I decided to turn it up a notch and see what happened. That felt fine, so I picked people to chase and started passing them. I also spent a lot of time doing head-math, which most runners know is just a way to a) distract your mind and b) feel like you’re pretty dumb. It’s effective all around. For mile 10 I decided to drop into sub-8s, and from mile 11 –> the finish I found my 7:30 stride again (oh, it’s been a while….).

Mike was hangin’ out around mile 12.5 with his paparazzi hat on – and hopped in to run through the actual home-stretch with me.

Hellyer Half Marathon_mile 12

I came in just under my 1:50 goal (1:49:46 – 4th AG) and for today, that wasn’t all easy breezy. But damn it felt so good to get out there again, without “what ifs” but with a healthy system that’s happily building up the machine (as Coach K would say). 

Hellyer Half Marathon Finish_DOTR

OOTD: TAD visor & TAD Squadra running singlet.
Fuel: 12 oz water + OSMO active, espresso beans (4), 3 shot bloks
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Rider 17

There’s a lot more to come this year, and this was the perfect way to open my eyes to what I’m ready to chase. (For now, we’re just glad we made it out unscathed and in top shape to walk down the aisle this week…)

Thanks for another great race, Brazen! We’ll see you again soon.

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Building (Run) Fatigue: the good way to feel exhausted

you fail

One way I reduce decision fatigue is by working with my Coach (cannot begin to put a $ to how much I value not having to think about my training plans). But what does she do in return? Fatigue the crap out of me.

I read this quote yesterday just before I strapped on the Heart-rate monitor for the second run of the day. I  immediately thought about all the times we build a BIG thick cushion for ourselves to land on, before we even know from how high we’ll start to fall. All the times I’ve had a goal for a race, only to so very quickly come up with “Plan B”. The times I’ve been in the middle of a run and thought this is too hard, I’m done – when the marathoner in me, a few layers down, actually thinks do you REMEMBER mile 26?! You are. not. done.  All the times I’ve excitedly thought of a big lofty (to-me) goal, only to almost immediately protected myself from thinking it’s possible, because what if it isn’t. {Lands on cushion.}

But what if it is?

As a Coach, I’ve learned to recognize what Katie’s doing to me when she’s doing it. I don’t always know ALL the reasons or the science or her magic logic, but a glance of the schedule du jour is always telling. Right now? Fatigue. She’s laying it on thick! She’s saying to me, Keep running even though you’re tired. And I’m saying to my legs, you’ll survive.

Sometimes my mind jumps ahead to the WHY – the goal race, the next couple of months of building this fatigue for good reason. Sometimes those thoughts dump adrenaline into my muscles and act like jet-POWER! Other times, they add cushioning for the fall, layering up failure protection. I.e. They doubt. This quote brings it back to reality.

I failed during those 26.2 miles at Marine Corps, and guess what? Life went on. I didn’t fail the two times I ran those exact same 26.2 miles before, and life went on. The difference was in an attitude. It can be just as  fatiguing to build that soft mental landing to protect yourself as it is to build your mind and muscles to risk failure, discover your true potential, and believe you’ll succeed.

Which fatigue are you building?

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