San Diego Half Marathon

San Diego Half Marathon: Two Thumbs Up

(I’m posting from my phone in the car somewhere in Arizona, so I hope the format isn’t screwy.)

It’s pretty much the best feeling ever when you think back on a race and can’t help but smile. I feel SO good about yesterday’s San Diego Half Marathon (my fourth half). Going into it, I had no idea what to expect. I haven’t run much the past month, and my knee issues are not 100% gone. I decided I was going to take it easy and not put any pressure on myself, which I’m happy to report I did exactly that, and it made for such an enjoyable experience.


Since I had zero expectations (and sort of thought I might have to walk the whole thing), I wasn’t nervous at all. Instead, I just enjoyed all aspects of it, from the packet pick up to the post-race snacks.

I ventured down to the San Diego piers for the expo on Saturday with Jeremy and my grandma. There were tons of people, but it was a beautiful day and location, and I didn’t have to wait in any lines to get my shirt and bib. Since I ran this race last year too, I got a special race shirt that says Legacy on the sleeve with two stars. If I run next year (which I’m hoping to do), I’ll get a special jacket. I forgot to take a picture of the shirt and now it’s packed away in my suitcase in the trunk, so it’s a lost cause. It’s really great, and I can definitely see myself wearing it in the future. It’s an improvement from last year’s, along with many things that were improved. This was only the third year for the race, and they really paid attention to comments from last year and I’m sure every year will just get better and better. I’m so impressed with the organization and can’t wait to see what’s in store for it. I even had to make a correction to my registration and they responded to my email within a day and immediately resolved the issue, and were so nice. I appreciate things like that to no end.

At the expo, I decided to look for something to aid in my knee pain. I spoke to a guy working at a running store station, and he helped me decide on getting a compression band that helps with pain in the back of the knee. My issues aren’t always just in the back, but I took a chance and it actually paid off.

The Course
I really love this course, as it goes through many different areas of San Diego, so there’s always something to look at. It went by incredibly fast (as opposed to last month’s Mermaid Series half, which dragged on seemingly forever because it just went around a bay and was pretty boring now that I think about it). There wasn’t much elevation change the first 8 miles, then mile 9 was an almost-mile-long hill up to the Hillcrest area of downtown SD. It’s not too bad though, especially knowing that once you get to the top, it’s essentially just three more downhill miles to the finish line.

At the start, I was thinking about going back a few corrals since I knew I’d be running more slowly than originally planned. It worked out though, after I realized that when I registered for this race, my PR was still 2:15. It made a big difference to be able to run at an easy pace with everyone else, instead of being passed by a bunch of speedy people (which would have made me speed up, knowing my competitive nature).

To sum things up, I felt great the entire race. I never hit a wall (hallelujah) and my legs never felt super heavy. Because I was taking it easy, I was able to pick up the pace the last three miles, which I have to admit was fun, darting past people and sprinting to the finish line, passing runners left and right.

I did allow myself to walk if I felt like it, and that was a first for me. I ended up walking a bit uphill at mile 9 to eat a gel, then a little of mile 11 to drink some electrolyte drink. At the bottom of the hill, there was a man on the ground and someone was giving him CPR. There was a crowd of people around him, and everybody running by stopped to walk and it really was a shock to the system. People were crying or holding back tears (including me), and it took a while to breathe normally again. Ambulances and fire engines were screaming down the hill, and all I can do is hope that he is okay. I asked the race’s Twitter account if there was an update on him, but haven’t heard back yet (edit: they wrote me back  and said he is okay! I’m so relieved). I honestly thought I was going to cry the entire way to the finish line, it was that scary. I immediately thought the worst, but after the race, Jeremy convinced me to think positively and hope for the best.

Jeremy and I stayed in a hotel downtown this year (so much better than leaving an hour earlier to find parking like last year), and I had all my gear ready to go the night before. I ended up forgetting my gel in the room, though, so that was unfortunate. Luckily they handed out Clif gels at mile 8 and I grabbed a mocha one with caffeine in it, which I had had before on a long run. I also held a Nathan water bottle (that leaked the entirety of the bottle all
over the rug in my car overnight) that I just bought so I had water with me the whole race. Two of the drink stops weren’t prepared for the amount of people coming through, and I was unable to get any electrolyte drink until mile 11. I also grabbed a salt packet at the same mile as a spur of the moment decision. I’ve never had one before, but I have to say, my stomach issues ceased and it felt great the rest of the day! I think I may have discovered something great for my body. It was a hot day, but the amount
of water I drank seemed perfect, and I had no major issues.

I don’t know what was going on with me yesterday (could have been sleep deprivation), but I felt like a klutz. Aside from forgetting my gel, I dropped my Chapstick cap at mile 11 and had to chase it without tripping anyone in the process. A runner stopped and picked it up for me, and I was so grateful. As I was bending down to try to grab it, I inadvertently squeezed a bunch of my gel all over my hand. It was a chocolate mocha gel, and you can just imagine what it looked like…

After that, I somehow got my headphones wrapped around my shirt (I put the cord under my shirt and sports bra to hold it in place), and it ended up getting so tangled that it lifted my shirt all the way just about to my bra, and I couldn’t get it back down! I was so flustered and unplugged my headphones and tried to play it off cool, but with my luck there will be pictures of it. I also stumbled in front of a large crowd and scared everyone because it looked like
I was about to eat it. Luckily I didn’t.


I broke the cardinal rule of racing yesterday not three, but four times.

– I had only worn my Mizunos a few times, and never for more than four miles.

– I wore a compression band on my knee for the first time.

– I ate a salt packet for the first time.

– I had never used my hand-held water bottle before.

I feel very fortunate because nothing bad came from any of these decisions, and the whole thing went so smoothly (except for my moments of clumsiness)! Including running the whole thing pain-free, which makes me want to cry of happiness. I’m more pumped than ever to run another one now, and break two hours someday soon.

Overall, I’m really proud of myself for not pushing my body to the point of exhaustion, or worse, injury, and not putting any pressure on myself. I’m so competitive and every race I want to PR, but now I realize that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t, and there’s no shame in taking it easy. The San Diego Half is so great, and I would highly recommend it!





Road trip update: We entered Arizona not long ago, and are planning on making it to El Paso for dinner!



Never Two Without Three

It’s been a rough couple days for me over here in sunny SB. I’m still resting my knee (I seriously feel like I haven’t really run in forever), and hoping I can run the San Diego Half a week from Sunday. My knee started popping and cracking today (which is new), but for the most part it’s feeling better except some pain here and there. Jeremy and I have to be out of our apartment tomorrow night, so tonight is our last time sleeping here (which is so bittersweet). We’re going to open a nice bottle of wine we’ve been saving, and sit on the floor and have a picnic.

Lunch picnic on the floor.

Moving break snack on the floor.

We’ve been moving stuff into our storage unit the last couple days, and yesterday as I was helping Jeremy unload something out of his truck, the window on the back of the camper shell swung down and crushed my right thumb. I slammed my left thumb in a car door last year, and I can’t believe I did it again. I couldn’t use my right hand at all for the rest of the day yesterday, and the pain woke me up a few times last night. Luckily it feels a little better today (it’s just all black and blue now), but of course there had to be one more injury to round out the trio. When I got up from bed this morning, all of a sudden I felt a shooting pain in my neck, and I have had a stiff neck all day and can’t turn my head at all. It’s so painful. It’s really a great combination: hurt knee, crushed thumb, and stiff neck. While moving. UGH. It’s also supposed to rain the next couple days (which is SO GREAT for Southern California), which makes everything a little more complicated when moving.

Constantly adding body parts to the list of things I need to ice.

Constantly adding body parts to the list of things I need to ice.

I feel like I’ve been a debbie downer lately, and I let myself get pretty frustrated the past few days. But a couple good things have happened too. Jeremy and I went over to my parents’ house today and were surprised to see my brother, sister-in-law, and their two boys there (one’s almost 3, the other is 8 months), and it was so nice to see them. They used to live next door to my parents, but moved about 45 minutes away almost a year ago. I get to see them every couple weeks, and it’s always a bright spot in my day. I’m really going to miss them. Another thing is that I was reading the Cork Marathon FAQs the other day and saw that you are not able to transfer between the full and half marathon after you register. I pretty much panicked because I need to be able to have the option to do the half, after how my last month of training has been. I sent an email to the event manager, and she wrote me back quickly. She said that since my family was traveling so far to attend the race, they would make an exception for me if need be. I was so incredibly relieved, and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I really really still want to do the full, but knowing that I have the option to switch to the half makes me feel a ton better. I just have to tell her sometime before the beginning of May.

Here are a few more highlights from the last few days:





Got a couple decent pictures out of the Mermaid Series Half Marathon.

Got a couple decent pictures out of the Mermaid Series Half Marathon.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.17.46 PM

I ran! And Other Happenings

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Well, I’m pretty thrilled because I went out for a nice and easy three-mile run earlier today to see how my knee felt, and it went better than I expected. I could feel the uncomfortableness occasionally (it’s not really sharp pains, just dull pains surrounding the kneecap), but for the most part it was smooth sailing. If I ran over a curb and used my left leg to jump up on it, I did experience some pain, but not too bad. This makes me SO happy. I knew I shouldn’t push it so I tried to go slowly (although it did seem like the slower I ran, the more pain I felt), but it was hard not to sprint since I was feelin so good. I did some strength training when I got done, and I’m going to ice and stretch tonight. I’ll probably rest again tomorrow, but I’m feeling hopeful that I can run my half in two weeks. Fingers crossed!


Color coordinating.

I’ve been reading about runner’s knee, and the symptoms sound the same as mine. I remembered recently that when I was growing up, if I crouched down and tried to stand back up quickly, sometimes one of my knees would dislocate and it was super painful. I’d have to sit down and kind of wiggle my leg back into place and stand up slowly. This pain could be stemming from that, or just that my kneecaps have some issues. Rainy Writer let me know that there was a series on runner’s knee being written on Run Oregon blog, which was really helpful. I’m remaining optimistic that this won’t be a huge issue for me going forward, and that with strength training and taking good care of my body, I’ll be able to run forever.

Moving Along

On Thursday, Jeremy and I went out to lunch with a few coworkers (one of which was my brother), and we went to a restaurant at the Santa Barbara Harbor, which is always a treat. The running path I use for 98% of my runs goes by the harbor, and I love looking at the sailboats with the mountains in the background. SB sure is pretty.


On Friday, Jeremy and I had to get ready for the garage sale we had with our neighbors. We live in a complex comprised of two duplexes, and we have become really close with our neighbors. It was a lot of fun (not just because of the mimosas we started drinking at 10am), and we had a dinner all together that night also. The sale went on both Saturday and Sunday, and Jeremy and I sold a TON of our stuff. It was definitely successful.


Best neighbors in the universe.


Garage saling.

After the sale was over on Saturday, Jeremy and I headed to the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens for an event a coworker organized. It was a beer festival showcasing local breweries, and a specific beer was selected to complement each section of the gardens. It was really interesting, and a lot of the flowers were beginning to bloom so it was beautiful.


Learning about the redwoods.


Local beer + redwoods.



Magic hour at the Botanic Gardens.


Food was desperately needed, and fish tacos did the trick.

The packing up of our apartment is coming along nicely (we have to be out by Friday), and I feel like we are pretty far ahead of where I normally am when I move (I notoriously leave everything to the last minute… something about the pressure makes me work faster). We can start moving stuff into our storage unit tomorrow. Which means that this is all really happening. And it’s happening VERY SOON. It is insane. I haven’t really let myself realize that we’re leaving town a week from Friday for who knows how long. It could be six months, could be a year, could be longer. I’m going to miss Santa Barbara and my family so much (I always do), but I’m extremely excited to get some adventures in. It’s been way too long.

A Bump in the Road

I’m kind of at a loss and not sure what to do. My left knee is confusing me. About a month ago when it started hurting after a particularly jump-y, hard bootcamp class, any pain subsided within a few days of rest and I ran my half marathon a couple weekends ago pain-free. I honestly haven’t done much in the way of running since then (almost two weeks) except a couple shorter runs and one long run last weekend. It’s not that the pain is severe and causing me to limp, and it’s not always there. It occasionally hurts when I stand up if I’ve been sitting for a long time, or randomly throughout the day. I’d say 60% of the time there’s no pain. But it’s that 40% that has me pretty worried. I tried to think about things that have changed over the last month or two that could have caused this, and over Christmas there was a month-and-a-half-long period of time where I didn’t do any strength training. But after almost a year of strength training, I don’t think that too much muscle would be lost just in that time. I’ve given myself plenty of rest, I eat very healthy, I recover properly. I don’t eat meat (except seafood), but I make sure to get enough protein. I had blood tests last year and they came out stellar. This is why I’m confused. I’ve gained a little weight since I got married in June (about 6 pounds) and maybe that has something to do with it, but it’s not a huge amount. Maybe the muscles in my quads/glutes aren’t as strong as they should be and there was too much pressure on my knees. Maybe my form wasn’t perfect when I was doing all those jumping/burpee exercises over and over in bootcamp. Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.

I have the San Diego Half Marathon on March 9, that I really want to run. We have already gotten a hotel room downtown SD and my mom is going to drive down to watch me race. It’s still two and a half weeks away, and even after resting a week, I should still be able to do it. I’ll play it by ear, but I’m remaining hopeful.

I’m also supposed to be training for a damn marathon. These weeks are base-building weeks in my training plan and since I have a pretty good base built up, I hope it’ll be fine, but the more I don’t run, the more I know I shouldn’t push it and try to run my first full marathon (that my entire family has planned a trip to Ireland around… ugh).

Sometimes I honestly feel like crawling in a corner and crying; it’s just so frustrating to work hard and see yourself improving, only to have a setback. It’s okay though, I’m trying to stay positive and work on strengthening my leg muscles and glutes, ice, foam roll, stretch, etc.

My knee was feeling okay yesterday morning so I went out and tested out three slow miles. Sometimes I would feel the pain, sometimes I wouldn’t. Around mile two it pretty much went away completely. I did some stadium stairs at the local city college, with no pain going up, but with pain going down the stairs.

Not a bad place to do stadium stairs.

Not a bad place to do stadium stairs.

Other, Better News

I finally got a hair cut! I hadn’t cut it in a year, and it was definitely time. My hair stylist cut off a little more than I was expecting, but I’m so happy with it. All in all, there’s about 7-8 inches gone. It is thrilling to know that I can wear a tank top to run and not have the hair from my ponytail get caught in the FRONT of my armpits.





Short ponytail!

Short ponytail!

I also had a pretty exciting mail day the other day:


I ordered the Mizuno Wave Creation 15 and the Brooks Glycerin 11 to see which ones I liked better. Well, I tried on the Glycerin in size 10 at the local running store and they were too small so I ordered them in size 10.5, which is waaay too big. I had this problem with the Brooks Adrenalines in the past, which is unfortunate because I hear Brooks shoes are great. I wore the Mizunos yesterday and I really liked them. They fit perfectly, they are light, it’s a bonus they are cool-looking, and I am happy with them. I need to test them out more (whenever my knee feels better) to really get a feel for them, but I was happy after yesterday’s trial. Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve been told to get stability shoes for pronation the last few times I’ve gone to the running store, but I went on Friday and the lady working told me I tend to supinate and need neutral shoes. I’m hoping this is a breakthrough because I have never loved any pair of shoes I’ve worn in the past; each one has caused me problems.

Maybe, just maybe, a match made in heaven.

Maybe, just maybe, a match made in heaven.

Has anyone had knee pain in the past and can offer up some advice? Thank you!

Dealing with a Setback

I’m finally back in Santa Barbara, and thankful to be back in warmer weather and in close proximity to the ocean. Not to mention getting back to eating healthy and back on a good routine. As soon as Jeremy and I landed in Los Angeles, my mom took us to Real Food Daily, a vegetarian (although almost everything on the menu is vegan) restaurant in Santa Monica. It was just what I needed.

We started with the Sea Cake: Butternut squash, yam and sea vegetable croquette, with pesto and sweet chili aioli. It had the consistency of a crab cake, one of our favorite dishes, and it was so tasty.


For the entree, I ordered the Great Cardini: Tuscan kale, romaine lettuce, garbanzo beans, red quinoa, and roasted yam croutons with creamy almond shallot dressing, avocado, spiced pumpkin seeds and macadamia parmesan. A huge bowl of goodness.


For dessert, Jeremy and I shared a vegan chocolate chip cookie, which kind of had the consistency of cake. It was delicious. From their website: “Our pastries are vegan and made with organically grown ingredients by our in-house pastry chef.” Everything on the menu looked amazing, and I can’t wait to go back and eat there again.

The Setback

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been sick. It’s still lingering, and I am doing my best to not let it discourage me and remind myself that I will feel 100% again soon. As far as my training goes, there’s only four weeks until the Mermaid Series Half Marathon, where I was hoping to break two hours for the first time. I have to be realistic, and having taken almost two weeks off, I need to rethink my goals. I went out for a four-mile run yesterday, telling myself to take it real easy and just see how I felt. I was preparing for the worst, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, I bet it won’t be that bad. Well, it was. I honestly felt like I’d never run before and I was worn out within a few minutes. I kept going, and finished four miles, but it was so tough. Thinking that it couldn’t possibly get worse, I went out this morning for a slow five miles. And it was definitely worse. I was plugging along, at least two minutes slower per hour than normal, and I had zero energy, and felt like I was just starting out again. I seriously forgot how hard running used to be, which is easy to do when you have been so consistent and you continuously work on increasing your mileage. But I ran nine miles just two weeks ago and it felt so easy, I kept telling myself, how could this be possible?

I came across this article that talks about how much fitness you lose when you take time off:

Research shows you shouldn’t be too worried about losing significant fitness if your break from running is less than two weeks.

You’ll lose some conditioning in your aerobic system and muscles, but pre-inactivity fitness will return quickly. Again, this assumes that you have built a healthy and consistent base of training of 4-6 months prior to taking time off. It’s not the end of your career if you haven’t been training for this long; it simply means that the reduction in fitness will be slightly more pronounced.

After two weeks of not training, significant reductions in fitness begin to occur and you’ll have about 2-8 weeks of training (depending on the length of inactivity) ahead of you to get back to your previous level of fitness.

Since I’m just about at that two-week mark, I feel hopeful that my fitness will return quickly, but also worried because I definitely don’t have 2 weeks to spare to solely get back to where I was before. I guess I just feel like I shouldn’t feel this horrible while running if I’m going to catch up quickly.

This link has a list of tips on how to get back into training after taking some time off, and I found it really helpful. Obviously, every person’s body is different, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, but I’m going to take some of this advice, and hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.

If missed training time is ten to fifteen days:

At this point, you’ve missed a decent amount of training and it’s going to take you a couple of weeks to feel back to normal and be ready to train at your previous intensity and volumes.

  • Start with three easy days of running at 60-70 percent of your normal mileage, increasing 10-15 percent each day. Include strides and hill sprints. Your first workout after this three days should be similar to the fartlek mentioned previously.
  • After this introductory fartlek, run easy (or rest if you normally have rest days scheduled) for two days at your normal easy run mileage. Then, try this workout: 12 x 400 meters at 5k-8k pace with a quick (steady pace) 45 second or 100 meter jog recovery. This workout has you running quick, which helps turn the legs over, but the short, moving rest will also make it a challenging endurance session. Plus, it’s only 3 miles in volume, so you won’t over extend yourself.

After these two introductory workouts, you should be all set to jump back into your regular training mileage and intensities.

It’s easy to let a setback deter and discourage you (which happened to me back in college, and I ended up quitting running altogether), but I’m just going to try to stay positive and keep on trucking, and hope my fitness returns to normal soon. The good news is that I think Jeremy and I are going to stay in town until March 9th so I can run the San Diego Half Marathon, which I’m already registered for. This course is not nearly as flat as the Mermaid Half, so it will be harder to achieve the sub-two hour time, but I’m remaining hopeful.

I’m curious, how has everyone dealt with setbacks in the past? Any advice would be appreciated!