Race Recap: OktobeRun 5K

I’ve been so bad about blogging lately, but I sincerely thought I could post a recap of this race within a month of running it. Turns out I was wrong. Also, the shorter the race, the less material there is, and so this will be a very short (but hopefully sweet) race recap.

Even though I’ve only run one 5K a year for the past few years, I decided to sign up for the OktobeRun 5K (my second this year) for three reasons. One, I’ve been slacking on the running front and anything that would get me out the door on a daily basis would be good motivation. Two, friends were signed up and there was a good chance of brunch after the race. Three, I’ve paced the half marathon before and knew that it was a logistically well-run event, and a relatively short drive on Sunday mornings. It also helped that the race proceeds benefit the Redwood City schools, and registration prices weren’t crazy high.

Early Sunday morning, October 28th, I woke up and headed over to Redwood City. Bib pick up was a breeze, and I started warming up around 7:00, thinking that the race started at 7:30. As I finished my warm-up, I heard an announcement that the half marathon was starting at 7:30, and the 5K at 7:45. Dang it! Oh well. The nice thing about a 5K is — I don’t really care as much, so it wasn’t a big deal that I mis-timed my warm-up.


Pre-race shot with bt, E, me, and Angela (who wore a sweet costume!)

I met up with friends before the race and chatted until it was time to line up. Angela and I went towards the front of the corral, which I’m glad we did because I had forgotten how narrow (and therefore congested) some of the route was. Plus, when I paced the half marathon, it was the 2:20 group and we took our time. A 5K is a very different story.

At 7:45, the gun went off and so did the 5K runners. I let Angela go rather early on, knowing she’d be at least a minute/mile faster than me. I settled into what I thought was a “decent” pace – which for me is between 8:00-9:00 min/mile these days. My C goal was to finish under 27 minutes (and not blow up), B goal under 26:30, and A goal was to beat my time at the RTTEOS 5K from 8 weeks earlier, 26:13. I had no real reason to think I could achieve my A goal, since I hadn’t been running more (in fact, Sept and Oct were very low mileage months for me). It would mostly come down to mental strength.

The course was an out and back course, starting in Downtown Redwood City, running over Highway 101 to the Bay Trail, then a small segment of the residential area of the Bay Trail before heading back to the Redwood City. It isn’t a very scenic course, there’s a few sections of gravel, and two “hills” – one overpass and one fairly steep and narrow pedestrian overpass that just about everyone walked up and down. So, compared to the RTTEOS, which was fairly flat (some gradual inclines and small rollers, but nothing crazy) and paved, OktobeRun was on paper a more difficult course. However, I think the fact that field was larger (466 finishers vs. 104 at RTTEOS) made the whole experience more mentally engaging. I always had someone to chase down at OktobeRun, whereas I ran most of the last mile of RTTEOS on my own.

My splits were: 8:35, 8:32, 8:22, then 7:25 for the last sprint, finishing in 25:46. Woohoo, A goal achieved! My Garmin only registered 3.04 miles, but the GPS trace for Downtown Redwood City was pretty atrocious. (It thinks I ran through several office buildings. I definitely did not.) I decided to count it as a victory, Garmin be damned.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 7.33.09 AM

Yay for both feet being off the ground!

We celebrated with post-race brunch at a nearby restaurant/cafe. It was a delightful morning! I would definitely run this race again.

Official results:
25:46 (8:18/mile)
8/17 AG, 30/246 F, 100/466 overall

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Gear Review: Garmin vivoactive 3

I had a Garmin Forerunner 210 for 4 years, and I was less than 2 years into the Forerunner 235 when I came upon extreme watch envy: the Garmin vivoactive 3.

Technically, my friend HW was wearing the vivomove HR (rose gold trim with white band), but I was immediately impressed by the sleek design. I didn’t even know it was a Garmin! I did some research and found that the vivomove didn’t have GPS (a no go for me). However, the vivoactive 3 is similar in design -though not quite as stylish – and has GPS and a heart rate monitor.

While I was seriously tempted, my frugality ruled over my vanity, and I decided to hold off on the vivoactive 3. I still had a working Forerunner 235 after all, even if it did look a little busted up.

Then, shortly after my initial research, Amazon Prime Day rolled around and guess what was on special? The vivoactive 3! Even better, the Gypsy Runner offered to get it for me as a super early birthday present. What a guy. [Insert emoji with heart eyes here.]


Forerunner 235 (left) vs. vivoactive 3 (right)

So, I’ve had the vivoactive 3 for 3 months now, and here’s how I feel about it so far (mostly relative to the FR 235):


  • I love the design. It looks like a normal watch as opposed to a fitness watch. The face is smaller, which is less overwhelming on small wrists like mine.
  • The HRM is much improved compared to the 235. It seems more stable and accurate, so far.
  • The display has a better designed, I like the color screen.
  • I like that the default notification is a vibration, not a beep.
  • Strap doesn’t get as gunky as the 235.
  • I can control music more easily from my watch. (I think there was a way to do it on the 235 but I never figured out how.)
  • Sleep tracker works better than the 235.
  • Additional fitness activities: 20+ on the vivoactive 3 vs. 4 activities that were available on the 235.
  • Customizable everything (sometimes this is a con).
  • Super fast charge time. I can get a full charge in under an hour.

About even (vs. 235):

  • GPS finding – still fast on the vivoactive 3.
  • Garmin Connect wireless syncing, including sending workouts to the watch.

Cons (vs. 235):

  • Need to recharge every 3-4 days, whereas I used to charge my 235 once a week. However, since it charges so quickly, I can get by with short charges every other day (like while I’m in the shower or brushing my teeth).
  • The strap/back of the watch can be a little uncomfortable at times (gets stuck against my skin).
  • Too many options – can feel overwhelming.
  • No basic interval workout setting like in the 235.

I don’t get why there’s both a touch screen *and* a sensitive wheel on the left side that essentially do the same thing. Seems redudant. I’m also still trying to figure stuff out, like how to get iPhone notifications while I’m running (at least the phone calls are still coming through). However, overall, I really like the vivoactive3. I think it’s a nice combination fitness + lifestyle smart watch.


There are a million different watch faces to choose from. I decided on this one.

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The Last 2.5 Months

Hey! Yes, I’m still here. Life has been good, but super busy. Here’s a quick recap of the last 2.5 months – in running and non-running news:


  • I paced the 2:20 group at the Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, finishing in 2:19:39. This was only 2 weeks after Dirty Dozen, and probably the worst I’ve felt during an easy half marathon. Probably because I was still recovering? (DUH.) I was relieved to finish on-pace, and to have helped several runners finish strong.
  • I traveled to exciting Merced, CA for my first workshop. As part of my job, I have to do several of these workshops a year, where I give a presentation on a specific product, then do a series of hands-on demonstrations. This one was short and sweet, a nice and low-key intro to the experience.


  • I raced a 5K at the Race to the End of Summer (RTTEOS) in San Jose. I’ll be honest, I did this mostly for the post-race brunch with SP, bt, and Angela. But it was also nice to run a very short race on a COOL day on a course where I’ve struggled mightily in very hot conditions previously (see: last year’s RTTEOS 10K and this year’s Dream Mile Marathon). I finished in 26:13, good for 3rd in my age group (40-49) and 9th female.


    Happy finishers at RTTEOS

  • Work was really insane in September. The first week, we had the grand opening of our new office in South SF. Big wigs flew in from all over the U.S. and Germany, so the pressure was on! The next week, I flew to Philly to attend a training. The week after that, I flew to Honolulu for my second workshop. The last week of September was spent catching up with all of the odds and ends from my time away, and getting ready for my first BIG workshop at UC Berkeley.
  • Did I mention I was in Hawaii for a week? 4 days of work in Honolulu and 2 days on my own on the North Shore. I couldn’t convince the Gypsy Runner to come with me, so I did some exploring on my own. I also gained 2 lbs. from all of the food I ate!


    The North Shore is so ugly. 😉

  • The GR and I celebrated our 8th dating anniversary. Woot!


    Nothing says true love like bread pudding and peach cobbler a la mode

  • We got an Instant Pot. I’d love tips and recipes if you have any to share.
  • I got an email from Strava with the depressing stat that I only ran 42 miles in all of September. Some of that I blame on work travel, and some I blame on my own laziness. More on this below.

October (so far):

  • Last week was my first “real” workshop, where I had to give a talk on a technology that I’m not super familiar with (#impostersyndrome in FULL EFFECT), and lead ten 2-hour demo sessions throughout the week. Fortunately, one of my colleagues from SoCal came up to help me. He’s an expert on the system, so he answered all of the questions I couldn’t. Compared to my last two workshops, this one was more stressful because I had to be on my game at all times, because the audience was much more advanced and knowledgeable (sorry for the shade, UC Merced and University of Hawaii, but it’s the truth). Anyway, I’m happy it’s over, but I have to do it all again the week of the 15th at UC Davis. The good news is that the UC Davis workshop is my last schedule workshop for the year.

So, I wanted to write a quick blurb about fitting in running amidst work travel. I’ve been in my new-new position for 5 months now, and while I really enjoy it, it has been hard on my running routine. When I was still training for Dirty Dozen, I managed to fit runs in, but there were whole weeks where my weekday mileage was below double digits because I just couldn’t fit in any runs. This is especially true when I have to travel to the East Coast for work. Usually, I don’t mind getting up early to run, but I draw the line at when I have to get up at 3am Pacific Time *and* still have to be functional at work. Most of those days on the East Coast start at 8am Eastern Time — and we often have work dinners at the end of the day. So, the best I can usually do is walk on the treadmill for an hour after dinner, while I’m still digesting. Could I run at 9 or 10 pm? Sure, but I don’t tend to sleep very well when I run so late in the day.

Even when I’m in my own time zone, there are weeks (like this past week), where I would’ve had to get up at 5am to run. I know that some people are really good at getting up at the butt crack of dawn to get their runs in no matter what, but I’ve decided that it’s not worth it to me at this point in time. If anything, I should get better at going out for post-work runs, or just being more flexible in general about running whenever I get a chance instead of being so regimented.

Anyway, it’s a work in progress. While I don’t have any specific goals in mind, I would still like to run 3-4 times a week, 15-20 miles total. I also know that my work schedule will ebb and flow, and that this has been a particular busy couple of months. Fortunately, things look lighter in November/December. I hope to take advantage of that and start rebuilding my base for London at that point.


Random photo of the GR and I from September, posted just because I think it’s a nice photo of us


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Dirty Dozen 6 Hour Race 2018

Editors note: I wrote most of this recap over 2 weeks ago and have been dragging my feet about finishing it. I’m throwing my perfectionist tendencies aside and just posting as it is, for the most part. Enjoy!

Confession: despite having quite a bit of downtime recently to blog about Dirty Dozen, I’ve had zero desire to do so. I started a recap the week after the race, but it was so boring that I almost fell asleep rereading it. (Slight exaggeration, but it really wasn’t very good.) I think I needed the last two weeks to really digest what happened on race day and how I felt about my performance and about endurance racing in general. But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s rewind to Friday, the day before the race.

Friday (1 day before the race)

(You can read about the race details and my preview/thoughts here.)

I debated whether to take Friday off from work, since I wanted to feel fresh for Saturday. However, since I usually work from home on Fridays, I decided against using a day of PTO for no reason. It ended up being a bit more stressful and busy than I expected, but still, not too bad. I ate a huge lunch of dim sum and treated myself to a boba green tea, which would later come to haunt me. (But yay for carb loading!)

I wasn’t even hungry for dinner, but I picked up Hawaiian chicken BBQ, which has worked really well for me as a pre-long run meal. I ate what I could and then picked up KP from the airport. I was so excited that she came up for this race! We chatted for a while before deciding it was time to go to bed, around 9:30pm. We had an early wakeup call, with plans to leave the house by 5:00 a.m.!

I’m not sure if it was pre-race anxiety, the extra dose of sugar and caffeine at lunch, the excitement of having a friend visit, and/or the early wakeup call, but I was NOT sleepy. I tried my best to relax into my pre-bed routine – I’m usually a CHAMP at falling asleep in minutes, but I continued to toss and turn for hours. Altogether, I probably slept just over 3 hours, and that’s on top of not sleeping well Thursday night either. Boo hoo. I really hoped that racing conventional wisdom would be right – that it doesn’t matter how well you sleep the night before the race, but the few nights before that.

Saturday – pre-race

Everything pre-race went relatively smoothly. There was a small hiccup when the Safeway that I thought would be open at 5:00 a.m. didn’t actually open until 6:00. Luckily, there was a 7-Eleven down the road, where I picked up ice for the cooler. We got to Point Pinole shortly after the gates opened at 6:00 a.m., parked, and got a good spot in “Tent Alley.” By way of explanation, Tent Alley is the area on either side of orange cones for the 50 yards or so after the finish arch/loop marker. It’s where runners set up their personal aid stations and extra gear. Some groups go all out and set up big tents or canopies and have fully stocked aid stations, whereas KP and I set down a blanket, a chair, a cooler, and our gear. We were lucky to get a spot right by the orange cones. I didn’t want to spend any extra energy or time wandering off course to get fuel or to grab ice.


Our “camp” (the striped blanket)


It’s flat Cat and flat Jess cheering us on!

Despite being very tired, race day adrenaline rushed through my system. The morning was cool (maybe in the mid-50s?), but the skies were clear, meaning we wouldn’t be graced with summer fog. The forecast called for highs to be in the mid-70s and there would be a mix of shade and sun on the course. Conditions definitely could have been worse! We found DD and AS in the starting corral and took a quick selfie while we were all still feeling fresh and energetic.IMG_4430

Loop 1 (36:01 for 3.37 miles; 10:41/mile)

In the days before the race, I struggled with race strategy. Should I go slow and steady, or start a tiny bit faster to bank time before the sun came out? It’s impossible to know which one would’ve been most effective, but I ended up doing the latter. KP, DD, AS, and I fell into an easy rhythm and I figured that as long as we kept the pace conversational, things would be fine. Yes, I was running faster than my goal pace (11:30/mile), but I felt good. I made sure my breathing was easy and my heart rate low. On that first loop, I was relieved to see how nice the loop was. I’ve run at Point Pinole before, but I had forgotten the changing vistas and landscape. It’s a good thing too, because I was planning on running this “big loop” (3.37 miles) a total of 8 times before switching to the small loop. At the end of the first loop, I treated myself to a salted caramel Gu.


Action shot (PC: AS)

Loop 2 (36:37; 10:49/mile)

I was still running with our little foursome, occasionally slowing down on purpose whenever I felt us drifting towards 10:00-10:30/mile. It felt like it was getting warmer, but I still felt pretty good. I grabbed a slice of watermelon at the aid station (2 miles in), and I looked forward the cold Gatorade in my personal cooler at the end of the loop.


Funny signs like this along the course kept runners’ spirits up

Loop 3 (37:52; 11:14/mile)

I was still feeling pretty good, but I started thinking about my end-of-lap treat a little earlier than usual. Nothing really eventful happened here, except noting that I seemed to feeling pretty tired for being only 10 miles in. At least I was ~5 minutes ahead of 50K pace. I grabbed another Gu at the end of this lap.Sam_run til you barf

Loop 4 (38:18; 11:22/mile)

I started breathing harder during this lap, which is something that has happened to me before. The heavy breathing coincides with a high heart rate, and I just can’t seem to bring it back down, no matter how many walk breaks I take. I think it’s definitely a psychosomatic thing. I was mildly successful at trying to prevent total disaster by controlling my breathing. I stopped talking and let DD and AS drive the conversation. 2 miles into the 4th loop, KP took a bathroom break and I never saw her again until the end of the race. I continued to follow DD and AS through to the end of loop 4, where DD went off to her camp to restock, and I stopped at our camp to drink some Coke. I tried to chug the Coke and catch up to AS but I eventually lost her as well. I ended up running solo for the rest of the race.


AS is still running happy, while I’m clearly struggling (PC: Brazen Racing)

Loop 5 (39:42; 11:47/mile)

beginning loop 5

Running with a Coke isn’t easy! (PC: Brazen Racing)

I think I took my first real walk break during Loop 5. To be fair, there were 2 small hills on the big loop where just about everyone walked, but I started taking walk breaks outside of these two hills. I started feeling extremely nauseous as well. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, the Coke I just chugged, or the rising temps, but I didn’t feel well. I spent this loop and the next processing and rethinking my strategy. I decided to throw out my outcome-based goals, because I was sure I wasn’t going to run a 50K that day. Instead, I went back to my process-based goals and decided that as long as I kept running to some extent, I would be satisfied. Ecstatic? No. But satisfied.

Loop 6 (45:30; 13:30/mile)

I decided on run-walk intervals of run for 2 minutes, walk for 30 seconds. It was hard to keep track of the intervals, but that also kept my mind occupied. Eating some salty foods at the aid stations and slowing down eventually got me over my nausea. All of the sweets that I had been eating/drinking was really turning my stomach.


Time is running out! (This was the the race mascot, I think her name was Clocky or something like that.)

Loop 7 (48:23; 14:21/mile)

More of the same. Run/walk intervals, just slower.

late in the race maybe

Not sure when this was taken… (PC: Brazen Racing)

Loop 8 (53:47; 15:58/mile)

I had more than an hour to finish this loop. I actually debated whether to wait for the small loop (0.42 miles) to open up, since it seemed easier. However, that meant waiting around for 8 minutes at the start of the small loop – which, despite my slow pace, meant losing about half a mile of distance. So I soldiered on, even calling the Gypsy Runner to chat for 5 minutes. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have done that, but at the time, I didn’t care. My main goal at that point was to finish the 8th loop and hopefully have enough time to run a few of the smaller loops. I took my time and started taking longer and longer walk breaks. I was pretty happy to finish this loop, and I celebrated with an extra long break at camp. (Also a mistake, in retrospect.)


The one section of single-track downhill.

Small loops 1-3 (paces: 18:30/mile, 13:15/mile, 12:32/mile)

It turned out that these small loops were way easier than the big loops. I wasn’t the only one who found that most of this loop was runnable, minus the last very short uphill portion. If I hadn’t dilly-dallied, I could’ve easily run at least 1 more small loop. Oh well!

Official results:
28.22 miles in 5:54:40
2/23 AG (F 40-44), 18/152 F


I finally saw the rest of my crew at the end of the 3rd loop. We all made the ultra distance, with KP and DD coming in at 27+ miles, and AS running her first 50K! I was a little disappointed with my performance, but overall I was glad to be done. I was also proud of the fact that I kept going, even though I could’ve thrown in the towel at any point. Sure, there were mistakes I made, such as going out too fast, drinking/eating too much sugar to the point of nausea, and taking too long of breaks at aid stations, but I’m putting these things in “lessons learned.”


Friends make experiences more special. PC: DD


So glad that KP was able to come up to visit!

Will there be a next time? This is my second ultramarathon, and I’m now 0/2 on positive experiences. I’m planning on taking a long break from marathons and ultras. My next 26.2 will be London in April 2019. Until then, I’m looking to focus on running for fun and  fitness. I’ve been enjoying the last couple of relaxing weekends, sleeping in instead of getting up early for long runs. I’m sure at some point, the motivation will be back, but until then, I’m happy to be taking a break from marathon training.


A giant medal (that doubles as a coaster) for a giant feat. 🙂

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Race Preview: Dirty Dozen 6 Hour Race

Date: Saturday, July 7, 2018 (which I just realized happens to be our 2nd wedding anniversary… happy anniversary, Gypsy Runner!)

Location: Point Pinole, Richmond CA

Format: 3.37-mile loops. You only need to complete one loop to be a finisher. There will be 6 hour and 12 hour runners (solo and relay teams), as well as a morning 5K/10K, and an afternoon 5K/10K. In the last hour of the 6 and 12 hour events, there will be a 0.6 mile small loop that opens up so runners can accrue as much distance as possible, because only finished loops count toward your total.

Why I signed up: I’ve been curious about this race for many years now. Even though the loops sound a bit repetitive, there’s also the comfort in knowing that the race will be well-supported (2 aid stations per loop) and you can even set up your own mini aid station at the finish area. When my friend DD said she was signing up, I decided this would be the year for me as well. Then, AS and KP signed up too, and now it’s going to be a good ol’ running party! The sad news is that DD came down with an ITB injury so she will be walking instead of running.

How this training cycle has gone: In terms of total mileage, I haven’t gotten above 35 or 40 miles a week, mostly because I didn’t increase my weekday mileage at all. So, that makes me a bit nervous. On the upside, I’ve gotten a lot of quality long runs in and my body feels good. Compared to previous marathon/ultra training cycles, I’ve spent more time on my feet for the long runs and I’ve been more consistent week to week, which is a confidence booster. I don’t have any niggles or pains going into Saturday (*knocks on wood*).

Race goals:

  • Outcome-based goals: My A-goal is to complete my second 50K, with a B-goal of completing something between a marathon and a 50K (still counts as an ultra!). My C-goal is to complete a marathon, which I am thinking should be very doable in 6 hours.
  • Process-based goals: I want to run consistently from start to finish, no matter what the pace. It’s really the mental aspect that I want to concentrate on. As long as I don’t quit or take stupidly long breaks for no reason, I’ll be happy.

Race Strategy:
My big three processes that I’ll be focused on are pace, keeping cool, and staying on top of my fueling. Based on my A-goal of completing a 50K, my aim is to average 11:32/mile. I think this will be a really reasonable pace for the first 3-4 hours, but I know I will slow down due to fatigue and heat. So, if I’m feeling good, I might bank a little bit of time in the first 2-3 hours, but not go out like Seabiscuit. 🙂 Here’s the pace chart I came up with:

loop total mileage elapsed time time of day (approx)
1 3.37 0:38:52 7:38:52
2 6.74 1:17:44 8:17:44
3 10.11 1:56:36 8:56:36
4 13.48 2:35:28 9:35:28
5 16.85 3:14:20 10:14:20
6 20.22 3:53:12 10:53:12
7 23.59 4:32:04 11:32:04
8 26.96 5:10:56 12:10:56
small loop 1 27.56 5:17:52 12:17:52
2 28.16 5:24:48 12:24:48
3 28.76 5:31:44 12:31:44
4 29.36 5:38:40 12:38:40
5 29.96 5:45:36 12:45:36
6 30.56 5:52:32 12:52:32
7 31.16 5:59:28 12:59:28

As for keeping cool, it’s supposed to get up to 80 degrees on Saturday. However, I’m hoping for one of those classic Bay Area summer days where it’s overcast for a few hours in the morning and the sun doesn’t come out until noon (fingers crossed!). From what I remember, the loop is about 50% exposed and 50% shaded. I bought a cooling buff that is made of a special material that feels cool to your skin when it’s wet. I tried it last week on my long run and it felt OK. I also used it to wipe sweat from my face, so that was a nice additional feature. On race day, I’ll wrap ice in the buff to keep me cool. Speaking of ice – I’ll have a cooler full of ice and so I can pick up a few pieces with every loop. My emergency plan is to ditch my tank top if need be and just run in a sports bra and shorts.

In terms of fueling, I will do an amped up version of what I’ve been doing for all of my long runs. In addition to taking a gel or eating a waffle every hour, I will drink a mini-bottle of Gatorade or Coke (probably alternate with every other loop). I specifically got Gatorade because, as much as I love Brazen, I hate that they use Ultima electrolyte drink. It has zero calories and tastes terrible. I will probably take advantage of the aid stations as well – for things like fruit, chips, peanut M&Ms, etc.

So, that’s what I’ve been thinking for the race. If you’ve ever done an event like this, I’d love to hear any suggestions, advice, or tips you’d like to share!

Happy 4th of July, all!


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Pacing Recap: Dream Mile Marathon 2018

The good/bad of writing a recap almost a month after the race: there’s only so much you remember (bad) but the parts you do hopefully make for a more succinct, compelling story (good). However, funny details are forgotten (bad) and so are some of the darker moments during the experience (good, generally).

On June 3rd, I was the 5:15 pacer at the Dream Mile Marathon in San Jose. I signed up thinking it would be a great way to get a very long, supported training run on the books. Plus, after pacing more than a handful of half marathons, I was curious about pacing a full 26.2. It would be a new, interesting challenge. Even though the pace seemed doable (12:01/mile), I knew that anything could happen during a full marathon. To convince myself I was up to the task, I tested myself with a 20-miler a few weeks before the race. I averaged 11:05/mile, even with 30s walk breaks every mile. That made me feel a bit more confident about pacing the 5:15 group.

What I hadn’t practiced for was the heat. (Insert foreboding soundtrack here.)

The course starts and ends near the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose. It is mostly flat and runs along the Coyote Creek Trail (paved). The full marathon had two out and back sections: 3 miles south and back, then 9 miles north and back, with a one mile connector between the start/finish area and the trail.

As race day approached, there was much talk about the weather. The forecast called for scorching temps. I was glad I signed up for 5:15 instead of one of the faster groups and also that the race started at 7am.

Race Day
There were a couple of bad signs before the race began. For one thing, 3 of the full marathon pacers were no shows. I don’t know what happened, maybe they were injured, but that wasn’t great. The good news was that at least all of the half marathon pacers showed up. This isn’t a huge race, so it’s not that big of a deal, but it does make our group look bad. As a result of the missing pacers, the pace group leader was trying to convince me to switch to 4:45. I said no way – given the heat and the fact that my slowest marathon was around 4:45, there’s no way I could responsibly sign up for that.


Trivalley Running Club pacers

The second bad sign was that it was already hot at 6am. I had not been warming up or anything, but I was already sweating from just standing around. I tried to stay hopeful, but I knew it would be tough day ahead.

The race started promptly at 7:00 a.m. My strategy was to run even effort/pace and to walk through aid stations. (In retrospect, I think I should’ve banked some time when it was still relatively cool, for the first ~3 hours.) This is a tiny race, with only 67 entrants in the full marathon and 49 finishers. Many more people signed up for the other distances (half marathon, 10K, 5K). I made a few friends here and there during the race, but there was only one woman, C, with whom I leapfrogged from miles 8-16. Otherwise, I was running completely alone. However, since it’s an out and back course, you get to see other runners relatively frequently for the first half of the race.

I ran the Dream Mile half marathon a couple of years ago as a pacer and one of the things I really liked about this event was the friendliness of the participants and the volunteers. Most people shouted encouragements and cheerful greetings in passing. So, even though I was often alone and running without music/podcasts, I had enough interactions to break up the monotony, at least for the first 4 hours.

I’d say the first part of the race went as planned. I was even a little bit ahead of pace at the 20-21 mile mark by about a minute. Then things began to unravel. Actually, it probably started even before that. For the first 9 miles, there was intermittent shade that kept me relatively cool. Then, we crossed a bridge and went through a beautiful marsh area, which lead to a pretty but completely exposed grassy valley. It felt like I was running into an oven. IMG_4251

Despite the heat, I was feeling pretty good. I focused on getting to the turnaround point at mile 15.5, where there was an aid station. It was there that I ran into the 4:55 pacer, who was having a rough day. He was overheating and had started walking. Poor guy. So, compared to him, I was having a solid day so far. I was still eating a gel every hour, and treated myself to a Honey Stinger Waffle at the 2.5 hour mark.

My first feeling that things were going south was around mile 18-19. I had thought there was only 2.5 miles between aid stations when in fact it was longer than that (3.5? 4?). I had clung on to the idea of seeing that aid station and then getting some ice to cool off. But at every turn, when I kept thinking that the aid station would be right there, it wasn’t. Finally, I got to the aid station (I think it was mile 20.5?) I decided to take a longer than usual break. I had banked about a minute of time, and I had held off on peeing since the start of the race. It’s a weird thing when you’re both dehydrated and need to pee at the same time. When I had finished my business, I asked the aid station volunteers for some ice. I just wanted to hold it in my hand and put it on my neck, because I could feel my core body temperature getting too hot. One of the volunteers looked at me and asked me if I needed a salt tablet; I realized later on that I was covered in salt. I was also starting to feel nauseated at the idea of even drinking water or Gatorade.

I lost a couple of minutes at that aid station, but I reasoned it was time well spent. Plus, there wasn’t anyone running with me. I thought I could still stay on pace. However, after that block of ice melted, I started to overheat again. I grabbed ice at every aid station, but it only temporarily cooled me down. I made myself drink water and take my last Gu, even though I felt sick. I wouldn’t say that I was in danger of heat stroke, but in addition to the nausea, I was feeling quite dizzy and almost sleepy. I started to take A LOT of walk breaks. I felt bad that I was letting my pace team down, but on the other hand, I knew if I pushed myself, I could be putting myself in danger. Plus, there weren’t even any runners within range!

The last 3 miles were interminable. I went from being only a couple minutes behind the goal pace to 5, 10 minutes late and counting. There was a volunteer on a bike who was acting as first aid/sweeper. He gave me some of his Nuun and made sure I was OK. It was such a surreal moment of trying to finish this race and fulfilling my pacing duties, yet there were no people in sight, either in front of me or behind me. I just kept trying to make forward progress. Once I got off the trail and back on the street, I took it one block at a time. Eventually, I got to the last 0.2 miles and swore to myself that I would jog it in, which I did. I ended up finishing in 5:27:54, almost 13 minutes after my goal time. IMG_2503

I was extremely dehydrated and hot. Even after drinking a ton of liquids and eating some food, I had lost at least 5.5 pounds during the race. It took me hours to cool my core body temp down and I’ve never drank so much liquid after a race. It took me quite a while before I peed (sorry if TMI). This might sound strange, but I was grateful for these physical signs of the stress my body was under, because I was afraid I just wimped out mentally when the going got tough. Maybe I did a little, but I wasn’t in a good state physically either.

Am I disappointed that I didn’t meet my goal time? Yes. This was the first time I’ve botched a pacing gig, and I felt bad for letting my group down. However, I had to do what was best for me in these circumstances. I know you non-Californians are probably laughing at me, but it was 82 degrees when I finished, with a real feel of 91 F. That’s really hot for California. And I suppose if I had done any kind of real heat training before the race, it would’ve helped, but that weekend was one of the first really warm weekends of the year.

The good news was that I managed to recover pretty quickly after the race (all the iced drinks FTW). My legs felt fine the day after – they weren’t more sore or tired than they are after any long run.

Will I ever pace another full marathon? No, I don’t think so… not even in better circumstances. First, I’m starting to feel like the number of full marathons in my future is very limited (as in, less than a handful). I don’t really enjoy the distance or training for them. Second, pacing is another whole level of responsibility. I don’t think I want to sign up for that.

In summary, what I’ve learned from this experience is:

  • marathon pacing is hard
  • running in the heat sucks, especially with very little heat training
  • in these conditions, it was probably advisable to bank some time when it was still relatively cool
  • in hot temps, going slower is important, but so is keeping your core body temp down and replenishing electrolytesJyqAoguRQniLZxE68xwX4w

I’m not going to write down all of the race logistics, since I already did that for the Dream Mile Half, but feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

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Posted in Pace Group, Race Recap

Taper Time! (Dirty Dozen Weeks 4-9)

Hey there! Yes, I’m still alive… I just haven’t been blogging. 🙂 Somehow, 6 weeks have passed since my last update. The good news is that I’ve been building my long runs pretty consistently. The meh/bad news is that my weekday mileage never increased past 9 miles, and I had a couple of weeks of very low mileage due to travel. Here are some running highlights from the last 6 weeks:

  • A solid 20 miler (the last 6 with bt) on the Bay Trail between Emeryville/Berkeley/Richmond. We followed the run with bagels at my favorite bagel shop in Berkeley. (Yes, I plan my long runs around post-run refueling. Doesn’t everyone? LOL)
  • The Gypsy Runner and I went on a long hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park during a weekend getaway to Aptos. I made the executive decision that the hike would be a substitute for that week’s long run, given the hilliness of the hike. These are the perks of self-coaching. 😉


    The gorgeous and serene redwoods of Nisene Marks SP

  • An 18 mile run at Lake Chabot with 1,100 feet elevation gain. My knees were sore after this run – they’ve been bugging me since descending Mt. Diablo in April. :/ Besides the sore knees and getting stung by two yellow jackets (OUCH), this was a solid run.


    I got stung by a yellow jacket soon after this photo

  • 26.2 miles at the Vibha Dream Mile Marathon. I volunteered to pace so I could do a 5+ hour supported long run, and unfortunately it turned out to be a very hot day. The “real feel” by the end was 90+ degrees F and on top of that, it was an uncharacteristically humid day for the Bay Area. I’ll write a separate recap of this race, hopefully soon.


    With the TVRC half and full marathon pacers at the Dream Mile race, while it was still reasonably cool at 6:30am.

  • Yesterday, I ran 21.6 miles on the Iron Horse Trail, accompanied by SP and AS. I was a little anxious about this run, because I spent last week traveling (total mileage: 11.4 miles), and this past week, I did my usual short weekday 3-milers, totaling 9 miles. I know it’s  risky to load all of your mileage on the weekends, but this is what my schedule allows for nowadays. Since this was going to be my last long-long run before the Dirty Dozen, the goal was to log 4 – 4.5 hours on my feet, regardless of distance. I also wanted to simulate walking through aid stations, which are 1.5 miles apart. So we did run-walk intervals of 20 minutes of running to 1 minute of walking, which allowed me to practiced fueling too. By the end, I was happy to be done (obvs), but I could have kept going, which feels like a good sign. Afterwards, AS and I went to Gotta Eatta Pita — it’s like Chipotle, but with Mediterranean food, and it’s AWESOME. They also have the best soda — the brand is Stubborn, and it’s made with real sugar and less of it. I try not to drink soda, but after a long, hot run, there’s nothing more refreshing to me than an ice cold fountain drink.


    Overly excited about my giant bowl of food

So, that’s what’s been going on with me. More later on my thoughts and strategy for the Dirty Dozen 6 hour race. Hope everyone is having a great summer so far, and Happy Father’s Day!


A rare photo of running friends in regular clothes, so obviously I had to share.

Posted in Training
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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon