Month: May 2015

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Recap

I’m so excited to finally write the recap of my first full marathon. Throughout the entire 5 months of training, a small part of me doubted whether or not I’d make it to the starting line. It had nothing to do with my actual training or how hard I was working, it was just hard to believe that I was going to do this thing that I never thought possible. Now that it’s done, I’m still processing it, but my first thoughts are that it was fun, exhilarating, emotional, and incredibly tough all at different parts of the race.



Jeremy and I took Friday off work and headed up to Ojai after stopping at the Kogi food truck downtown LA to have the best chilaquiles of my life (Jeremy’s kimchi quesadilla was delicious also):


I made sure to to not eat the whole thing since I was sticking to foods lower in fiber the few days leading up to the race and who knows what this could have done to my stomach.

We stopped at the race expo in Ventura on the way to Ojai, and I picked up my bib and shirt, and ended up buying a pullover and a pint glass with the M2B logo on them. Once I actually got my number and bib, it FINALLY felt real. The expo was small and the people working there were super nice.


We got to Ojai around 3pm or so, and checked in at the Ojai Rancho Inn.

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Our room wasn’t ready so they treated us to a free drink at their cute little bar. I cut out alcohol the week and a half or so before the race, but I just couldn’t pass up a free glass of nice wine.


We went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and I got a flatbread pizza with speck, tomato sauce, and a little arugula on it. I was craving vegetables so much after carb loading for a couple days, but I didn’t want to overdo it.


I didn’t get much sleep that night (I usually don’t sleep well when we travel), so I felt pretty exhausted all day on Saturday. Jeremy and I took bikes from the hotel to ride to get coffee downtown Ojai, and I hadn’t ridden a bike in a long time, and a nerve in my left butt cheek started hurting and I was convinced I pulled something and wouldn’t be able to run the next morning. I was so paranoid for the few weeks leading up to the marathon, that this was a common occurrence. After we got back from breakfast, I went out on the bike path behind the hotel and ran about a mile very slowly. This helped a lot; I felt energized and got a boost of confidence from it and felt ready to take on the 26.2 miles the next day.


We headed to Santa Barbara for the rest of the day, so I could eat my two go-to meals the day before a race: an avocado sandwich for lunch and an Asian noodle soup for dinner. We got back to Ojai around 8pm, and I made sure everything was ready for the next morning and tried to get some sleep (pretty unsuccessfully).

The Race

I woke up at 4am, made some instant coffee (there wasn’t a coffee maker in the room, unfortunately) and a packet of oatmeal, tried to eat half a banana and half a Honey Stinger Waffle. Jeremy and I left the room at 5:25 or so, and walked the 10 minutes to the starting line.


Man, it was so nice being that close to the start of the race. Many people had to take 4am shuttles from Ventura; if I do this race again I’m definitely staying in Ojai again. I made sure to use the bathroom as many times as possible before we left because I didn’t want to have to use a porta-potty at the starting line – it’s a good thing, too, the lines were super long.

There weren’t clear corrals, but everyone’s bibs were one of three colors and apparently that was the wave you were supposed to enter… but I think everyone was confused. After the National Anthem was sung, the announcer started the race for the 3:20 marathoners and under. Well, people started running and the wave was supposed to stop when it reached the people that were aiming for 4 hours and under, and then another wave for 4 hours and above. Nobody stopped though, even though the announcer kept yelling “You’re supposed to stop now!” and everyone just kept going. I wasn’t prepared though! I didn’t even have my watch turned on. But alas I had to go because people behind me were telling me to, so that’s how I started my first marathon.

The week before the race, coach Lauren gave me a race plan that included a 3:55-4:00 finish and this is what I aimed for. I tried to get some under-9 minute miles (the ones that were downhill) and otherwise not have any miles over 9:20, eventually aiming for 9:00 or so average. This worked up until mile 23 I’d say; I think I did a really good job with pace and time went by fast and I listened to music and just kept running. Mile 10 came around and I got tired and a little freaked out, but that’s when I started repeating “embrace the hurt” and “get comfortable being uncomfortable” in my head, and that helped. I got over that hump and then I felt fine again.

I tried to take 1-2 Honey Stinger chews every mile starting at mile 5 I think, and drank a few sips of water frequently. I also picked up water at the water stops, but somehow missed the Fluid electrolyte drink at every stop.

Mile 20 came and I was still feeling strong. I had grabbed a smallish bottle of Gatorade from a spectator handing them out, and ended up carrying this for the next few miles. I was so happy to have this! Whenever I tried to think “only 5 miles left, that’s nothing to you!” or whatever, my mind would come right back and say, “yeah but I’ve run 21 miles already, five miles is a LOT!” so I tried not to think like that. Every time it would cross my mind of how much longer I had it made me feel worse, so I avoided it and just focused on keeping my pace up instead. I’m so glad I had a specific pace to aim for, it helped distract me so much.

Around mile 22 or so, the course goes right by the finish line, but then veers away from it and you still have 4 miles to go. I knew this was coming and tried to mentally prepare for it, but I just couldn’t overcome it. I’m not sure if it was how I was fueling (since I had nothing to compare it to) or the elevation (these last miles were flat after the first 20 were slightly downhill) or seeing the finish line and thinking I was done, or what, but the next few miles, I just completely lost it. So much so, in fact, that I missed a sub-four hour finish by 33 seconds. I slowed way down, my quads and calves were so incredibly painful and tired, and I wanted to walk. I almost did a couple times, but somehow I kept going. I teared up a few times, cursed out loud, just kept thinking about how much it sucked and I wanted to be done, and just generally felt horrible. It was humbling for sure, since I was feeling pretty cocky up until that point about how good I was feeling and about how I hadn’t hit the wall after seeing people who had. I’m glad it happened though, it was a good reminder of what a true beast the marathon is and how you must respect the distance (and not get cocky).

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Since I didn’t start my watch on time, I didn’t really know how much faster I had to go to get a sub-four, but as soon as I only had one mile left and I could see the finish line again, I was able to push the pace a bit. I kept looking at spectators and telling them thank you to try to get boosts of energy and that helped, and one lady even exclaimed that she couldn’t believe I was still smiling.

When I got closer to the finish line, I took my earphones out, saw my parents and got really excited, then saw Jeremy and started sprinting. I’m not sure how I was able to sprint to the end, but I did and then I was more happy that it was over than about anything I’d ever felt.

A picture from my parents.

Huffing and puffing to the finish line.



I wanted to collapse and cry, but Jeremy found me and I was able to remain standing and after a few minutes, as long as I stood still, I felt pretty good. It hurt to walk, but I eventually made my way over to the tents with the food and got some watermelon and Famous Amos cookies, maybe the two most delicious things I could have eaten at that time.

So happy to be done.

So happy to be done.

I waited for them to post the results since the tracking app I had downloaded for the race didn’t work and my watch was off, so I didn’t know what my time was. When I finally got it, I was very proud of my 4:00:33 finish. Jeremy and I hung around a little bit and watched people hit a gong to announce they’d qualified for Boston, then headed back to Santa Barbara to eat at In-N-Out, something we had been looking forward to for months.


Later that day, we drove up to Santa Ynez to hang out with my family for my nephew’s birthday, and instead of putting compression socks on right away and some comfortable shoes, I stupidly wore these slip ons that made my blisters/toes hurt so I was walking weirdly on my right foot, which led to the bones in my foot hurting, and they still hurt to this day. I’m sure I’ll be fine after the loads of rest I’m enjoying, but it’s a good lesson to remember for next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time. Even when I was in agony those last few miles, I knew I would run another marathon, and hopefully maybe one day BQ if I work really hard. I’m not sure when my next marathon will be, but I can’t wait to start training for it whenever that day comes.

Overall, I would recommend Mountains 2 Beach Marathon, the course was beautiful, fast, everyone was super nice, there were lots of water stops, and the finish line is fun and beautiful, right on the ocean. I wish the course didn’t go by the finish line at the end with 4 miles to go, but it just makes it that much more of a challenge. The weather was great too, nice and cool the whole time, and last year there was a heat wave so I’m obviously very happy that didn’t happen. Somehow, I didn’t chafe at all except a small part on my arm. I was so surprised; I’m guessing it had to do with the weather being cool, but even on long runs when it hasn’t been too hot and I put Glide on everywhere I still have chafed bad in the past.

I have to thank my coach, Lauren, for creating my plan, getting me to the starting line uninjured and pushing me and believing in me more than even I did sometimes. The fact that I ran a marathon with a 9:10 average pace blows my mind. Not too long ago, if I ran a 3- or 5-miler on my own with that kind of pace I would be super impressed. But, you never know what you’re capable of until you try it (cheesy but true). I hope to get faster and work hard to have a big PR at my next marathon down the line.

In the meantime, I’ll wear all my M2B gear with pride and drink beer out of my pint glass often!




Marathon Training: Week 18

Weeks until Mountains 2 Beach Marathon: 3!

This past week was my highest mileage training week, and my legs and body really felt it. I had been super tired mentally and physically all week, but thankfully that went away for my 20-mile run yesterday, which restored the confidence I lost during my really tough 15 miles last weekend. I’ve been sleeping pretty well, just waking up a couple times during the night. I feel like the actual time I’m sleeping is different though – I normally don’t sleep so hard. I’m sure it’s my body just trying to recover, and it’s doing a pretty good job.

It’s now May, which means my marathon is THIS MONTH. I’m getting really excited and the feelings of fear are beginning to diminish. Now that I’m done with my 20-miler, I just want the race to be here so I can go out and crush it. But I know I must taper, and I’m also looking forward to that. I’m not one of those people that gets antsy or sad that I can’t run as much; I fully welcome the lower mileage and extra rest days. There will be no taper tantrums here.

The M2B race director sent out the info packet, and unless I’m reading it wrong it said there will be free race photos including a finish line picture, which is really awesome. I’m so glad more and more races are starting to do this. I wouldn’t mind paying for race pictures if they were 10-15 dollars, but normally they’re like 45-50 which is insane, especially after the high race registration prices.

I ended up with 137.25 miles for April, which is a little less than March, but I feel like it was a strong month and I’m still proud of my 13-minute PR at the Chardonnay 10-Miler in Santa Barbara.Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.47.47 AM

Here’s a look at the past week of training:

Monday – 7 miles easy @ 9:51

This run was anything but easy – legs felt like lead and it was a struggle almost the whole time.

Tuesday – 6.21 miles (2 mile warm-up, 4 x 800m w/ 400m easy jog between, 1 mile cool-down)

I messed this speed workout up and I didn’t realize until I got home I was supposed to do 8 800m repeats instead of 6, but my legs felt better today and my times for the 800m repeats were 3:59, 3:56, 3:49, and 3:57. I ran at the wonderfully flat Echo Park Lake and had to stop to let some little goslings cross my path. There are baby ducks and geese everywhere at the lake, and it’s been fun to watch them get bigger week by week. The mama geese are super protective of their young and I’m kind of convinced they’re going to go after me one of these days. I saw one charge at a Great Dane that was completely unfazed.

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Wednesday – November Project + running 

I haven’t been going to NP lately and with good reason. I think it was a mistake to go this time, and I’m not going to go back until after the race. There’s always some sprinting and crazy body exercises involved, and it’s just too risky. It’s also really hard to not do the exercises while everyone else is doing them, so it’s safer if I just stay away. I did some running and a couple sprints and some burpees and an army crawl, then was sore for the next couple days. I ran a few miles afterward to make it 5 for the day.

The group is getting so big!

The group is getting so big!

Thursday – 7 miles easy @ 9:57

Once again, not so easy… but my body warmed up a few miles into it.

Friday – glorious rest day

Saturday – 20 miles @ 9:58

I’m so proud of this run! I was pretty nervous about it ever since it showed up on my training plan, but when I woke up yesterday and started getting ready, I felt no nerves at all and just felt ready to get it started. I think this made a big difference mentally – not psyching myself out and thinking about the fact that I was about to run 20 miles and let the pressure get to me. I decided to drive to Marina Del Rey because whenever I do a long run around where I live it ends up hilly, challenging, and sucky. This was definitely a good decision, even though it adds like an hour and a half onto the whole ordeal because of driving out there and traffic. I normally always do out and back runs, but this time I decided to park in Marina Del Rey, run 5 miles north to Venice Beach and back, then 5 miles south toward Manhattan Beach and back. It seemed to be a good idea at first, breaking it up into 5 mile segments. And overall I do think it was beneficial, but passing my car and knowing I still had 10 miles to go was a little tough.

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The first 5 miles went by fast, but I got kind of a late start and the tourists had already begun filling the sidewalks in Venice Beach. There’s always really good people watching and distractions, but there’s also a lot of weaving and secondhand pot smoke to get through, not to mention trying not to get hit by bicycles and Segway Tours. I also almost got hit by a soccer ball but it hit a girl on a Segway instead, so I guess they do serve some kind of purpose. One guy came up and ran next to me for a bit, asking about the knee bands I was wearing. He had just started running and already had pain in his knees. I tried to give him good advice and he seemed to appreciate it.


Quiet Marina Del Rey, before the craziness of the Venice Beach boardwalk.

I was glad to turn around and go in the other direction, which is much quieter and less populated. I ran along the Marvin Braude bike Trail that borders the Ballona Creek Wetlands, which was really cool, then turns into a bike path through the sand along the ocean. There were bad headwinds at this point, but I just kept thinking about how they would be helpful tailwinds on the way back.


At one point, I saw a lady fall off her bike because two huge dead sea lions were in the sand right next to the path and it startled her. I stopped to see if she needed help, but the person she was with said she was ok and they had a phone if they needed to call someone, so I kept going. On my way back, I saw that there were ambulances and she was on the ground getting her arm put in a sling. The worst part is that she had to sit next to the dead sea lions the whole time that smelled so bad and everyone was covering their mouths and it was all a big weird ordeal.


Still working on my taking-pictures-while-running technique.

By the time I had a couple miles left, I still felt like I had a lot left in the tank, so I sped up. My hips started getting tight around mile 17 or so, but it wasn’t too bad and seemed to go away when I started speeding up. The last two miles were the fastest, with the last being an 8:54 pace. If I’m being honest, I felt like such a badass when I finished.

Side note: I got some different tank tops last week for potential marathon shirts, and I wore the one I thought would be the winner – well I hated it and felt like it didn’t breathe at all and it was too tight. So it’s a good thing I tested it out! But now I’m still on the hunt and have to find a shirt in enough time to have a good amount of practice runs with it. I think I’m going to go with a bright color of a Lululemon tank I already have that I like a lot. Seems like a safe bet, and I want to wear a bright shirt so people can see me.

For fuel, I ate an entire packet of fruit smoothie Honey Stinger Chews, which is the most I’ve ever eaten on a run. I love these so much better than any other fuel I’ve had, they are easy to eat and small and so easy on my stomach. I ate them here and there throughout the whole run, starting at about mile 6. The whole packet only has 160 calories in it which doesn’t seem like enough, but it was fine for me and I never felt low energy. I also filled my water bottle up three or four times, which is a pain but at least I know I won’t have to do this with all the water stops during the marathon where I can just grab cups as I run by.


I ate a Clif Bar when I got back to my car and then wasn’t really hungry the rest of the day, but I made myself some eggs and toast and avocado for lunch. Jeremy and I ended up going to a Dodgers game with some friends, where I ate garlic fries, half a churro, some Cracker Jacks, soft pretzel, and some white wine… not exactly good fuel for my body, but we had a good time and I’ll make up for it today.

churro cheers

churro cheers

Our first Dodgers game!

Our first Dodgers game!


Later today I’m thinking about going to a yoga class since I haven’t been very good about stretching lately, and I’ll fit in a few shake out miles also. Let the taper begin!