Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Race Review: Nike Women's Half Marathon SF 2013

I had such a great time and experience at the inaugural Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC this past April (review here), that when the lottery opened up again for what would be the 10th anniversarial running in San Francisco I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring.  I honestly didn't think I would get in...I thought that luck probably couldn't strike twice since I had already been chosen by Nike once this year.  I already had registered for another race the same weekend, The Army Ten Miler- another coveted DC race, as well as already had registered for the Marine Corps Marathon the weekend following.  So I entered the lottery for the half knowing two fulls back to back weekends could very well lead to disaster...especially since I was out for 14 weeks due to injury that mysteriously popped up following my full in March.  

Then I got in!  So exciting!  I sold my Army Ten Miler bib (as did my supportive hubby) and we planned our trip to San Fran!

We arrived on Thursday night (Friday was a day off for our school district).  We headed out to the airport after school on the East Coast which meant by the time we actually arrived at our hotel room it was 1:30am PST but 4:30am for us!  A long exhausting day especially after teaching all day!  

We got a bit of sleep but were up around 6 am PST, got breakfast and got in line for the expotique to open at 8am.  I loved this experience in DC and SF didn't disappoint.  Once it opened the line moved very fast and efficiently to get our bibs/packets.  Thanks volunteers, you rock!!!!  Then we headed up the red carpet into the festivities.  Couldn't have been welcomed better:
The sign picked up the signal from your bib as you entered.  Very cool.


Knowing the drill from last time, I went and put my name in for the free hair styling right away and my appt would be in 20 mins,

so I used that time to get my free shoe laces, Nike sweat towel, buy Nuun and get the SF water bottle like I did in DC.  The lady who did my hair did a great job and she parted it to the side and added a little braid- something I've never done before, but ended up re-doing myself for race morning!  Then I went over to Neutrogena to get my make up done.  So many great free things- free full size sport sunscreen and a tube of lip gloss.  Yeah!  

Then we headed over to Nike Town.  Huge multi-level store very similar to ours in DC.  I really wanted a long sleeve to commemorate the event but I really preferred the men's design with the Golden Gate Bridge on the back.  The Men's small was way too big so I gave up on that.  I did get a NWM SF black tank with Tiffany Blue writing.  I needed new shoes anyway as my current blue/orange pair have lots of miles and I mysteriously lost my bright yellow pair :-(. I decided to go for the limited edition NWM SF pair in Tiffany Blue.

Afterwards we headed up to Muir Woods where I took my new shoes for a spin on a hike through the Redwoods.  My husband and I kept talking about what a perfect trail run it would have been!

Then we stopped by Stinson Beach to round out the day.
I miss living in California sometimes!

Saturday morning, we did breakfast bright and early then at 8 am meet up with some online friends from the Distant Runners blogging community!  What fun!
Colene, Courtney, Kat, Me and a little photo-bomber

Then we hit the road for a busy day with stops in Berkley, downtown Sacramento, Davis and Concord to visit my sister and have dinner with her and her husband.
Family sushi dinner
We headed out on hour long drive home exhausted.  We got to our room and realized we had not planned out breakfast for the next morning...getting to my corral at 6 am wouldn't leave much time to get something in the morning and our room didn't have a microwave, etc.  I double checked with the front desk and they said there would be NO continental breakfast only coffee, so we decided we'd try and hit the 24 hour diner for toast in the morning.  I laid out my clothes and tried to get some rest :-)

The next morning, I got up at 5 am and with the current 48 degree temps I made a last min decision to forgo my shirts and wear capris.  I got dressed and had my throw away zip up on top of my arm warmers.  Lo and behold in the lobby were bagels, peanut butter and bananas.  I forced down a very dry half a bagel with pb and half of a banana, had a few sips of coffee and I was out the door.

What I was not prepared for was how hard it would be to GET to my corral.  From where I was, I had to cross through corrals to get to mine. It was wall to wall people and they were not happy about me trying to wiggle through them.  I found another racer with my green bracelet and we decided to join forces to make it there together.  That helped immensely!  We made it just in time.  Just like DC, it was so nice being in that corral because it felt like VIP entrance...they would only let you into it you had the sub 8:00 min pace bracelet on.  Once in- there was so much space and room to move around.  Yeah!  I took off my throw away before the race even started, it felt so much warmer than I expected.
The start line
Once again, a great Nike experience at the start...great music I was grooving to, they got us pumped up and motivated!  Then they set off the fireworks and we were off!  The early 6:30am start meant that my first 5 miles were in the dark.   at mile 1 there were rows of empty porta potties so i stopped there so I wouldn't have to later and risk a line.  I know we ran by the piers and the park that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge but it was dark and I really couldn't tell.
Daylight was barely breaking when I caught sight of my hubby and daughter at mile 5....I had to stop for a kiss!  How could I resist?  (And to pass off my arm warmers!).
The best cheerleaders
Mile 6 we headed up THE hill.  There were already two smaller hills in the early miles but this was the doozy...it was steep and just kept going for over a mile.  The NWM website admits its a big hill but says "you will be rewarded with great views of the city"....yeah not so much.  The whole race was socked in by fog so we had ZERO views of anything.  Running through fog was cool though.
Heading up hill into the fog
The hill was long and steep but I just kept telling myself "you are strong, you are powerful".  A girl passed me on the hill wearing a shirt that said "HILL YEAH!" on the back-LOVED IT!  Then I got to the downhill....it was painful!  Due to my foot condition, the pressure on my forefoot caused by downhill running is the worst.  I kept thinking to myself that I'd much rather be running up another hill than have to go down it!  We had another big uphill through neighborhoods, then a downhill where I could tell we were oceanfront, but couldn't actually see the beach or water.  On this down hill was thinking about how awesome those heelie shoes with the wheels in them would be right about then!  (Right Kat Robey?)

We then passed near the finish and headed out for a final 3 mile loop through a park and the campus of USF.  On the campus, there was a tunnel we headed through called "party animal tunnel" and the quality of the sidewalk there was so poor and uneven that it caused the nerve in my foot to act up.  I always have to try and run on even surfaces to avoid pain.  I also can't run over sewer grates etc.  So for the next half mile I was dealing with sharp pinching foot pain.  

Then I knew I was in the final stretch.  We had another down hill and I turned a corner and saw the large finish sign...I usually have gas in the tank to gun it to the finish line, but I just kept pace this time.  Between those hills and not fueling at all during the course- I didn't have the extra gas.  

I crossed the finish line and paused my Garmin at exactly 1:49:00 even.  No PR, but that was not a PR course either.  Add in lack of sleep from traveling and not eating my regular foods...I was still happy.

Then I headed onto the red carpet to get my little blue box from the firemen in tuxedos
got my finishers shirt and bag of food.  I was excited to see bananas and chocolate milk!  I had asked Nike to do chocolate milk after doing the DC one- and here it was!  :-). I grabbed a Mylar blanket which I've never done at a race and I'm glad I did because it got freezing cold quick!
look at that fog!
I was top 3% of my age group!  Wahoo!

I got in touch with Jim by text and realized it had taken them an hour to find parking near the finish so they missed me finish.  My sister and her husband were trying to catch me at the finish too but couldn't due to difficulty finding parking.  Logistically, it was a tough course for spectators.  We decided to meet at an intersection that was at the half/full split.  I think it speaks to the difficulty of the course because in just those five minutes I was watching, I saw at least ten full marathoners divert to head to the half marathon finish line.  

modeling my new finisher's necklace, I wore my DC one the whole race!

This was included explaining the meaning behind the design this year
We had brunch and headed off to be tourists for the day.

We took an open top bus tour and man did it get chilly!  When we were down all I wanted to do was take a warm shower- I just couldn't shake the cold!  I took a warm shower and then we met up with Colene from Distant Runners again and her boyfriend Todd in town from Oregon for happy hour in our hotel lobby.  They are such great people!  Colene was going to run the full, but was dealing with a stress fracture in her foot and diverted to the half finish.  Her story here
Colene and Colleen

Then we found pizza by the slice for dinner and headed to bed.  I woke up the next morning at 5 am with extreme abdominal pain.  It only felt good to lay in the fetal position in bed.  I went and joined my family for breakfast, but was so painful.  I walked the whole way bent over at the waist.  I wanted to lay in bed all day but we had a 10am check out.  We checked out and drove to see a few more sites.  It hurt anytime I moved or twisted like to reach behind me.  At Golden Gate park I lifted my leg to get into the car and it caused such sharp stabbing pain near my belly button that it caused tears to form.  Jim quickly looked up appendicitis and we headed over to Golden Gate Urgent Care just to see what they thought.  The doctor poked and prodded and told me she thought it was my appendix.  She told me not to get on our flight but to head over to the Emergency Room two miles away.  She called them to let them know I was coming.  It was pretty scary- everything just kept running through my head- surgery? Stuck in SF?  Work?  

I was at the ER for about 5 hours in a hospital gown, with no cell service so I couldn't let Jim know what was going on and so bored with no tv, no magazine, no phone, no Internet :-(. They decided to do a CT scan to check my appendix so I had to drink a terrible tasting fluid and then they hooked up my IV to a fluid that made me feel warm and funny, then they did the scan.  I had to wait an hour for those results.
Finally at 6pm, I was discharged after CT, blood and urine tests were normal.  They said they aren't sure what caused it.  It made for a really long, painful day.  Now we were stuck in SF with no hotel and no flight home.  We booked another hotel and rebooked flights (having to pay the difference which was much more expensive last minute and a $200 change fee which will be refunded eventually when I send them my medical paperwork).  

$1400 later, we are currently on our way home.  It stinks, but I'm glad I was safe rather than sorry.  A teacher on my team said her sister's appendix burst because she fought through the pain and didn't want to make a big deal.  I just didn't want to be caught in the middle of a 5+ hour flight if things went south :-(. 

Overall, it was a great race and a great trip.  Just stinks it ended the way it did....but hey- now I have a Tiffany necklace, an ER bracelet and a CD of images of my insides to remember the trip by right?  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Recipe- Pumpkin Sage Spaghetti Squash

You have got to try this recipe from detox inista.com.  It's so delicious!  I doubled the sauce recipe (to use the whole can of pumpkin) and used two medium spaghetti squashes that I cooked the day before (to save time).

We used fresh purple sage from my neighbors garden (thanks Kristi!) and I added it to taste....I used more than called for.  I subbed the almond milk for unsweetened coconut milk because that's what I had on hand.

Enjoy!  I had seconds AND brought it for lunch the next day.

4.8 from 4 reviews

Creamy Pumpkin & Sage Pasta (Vegan)
Prep time:  
Cook time:  
Total time:  

Serves: 2-4

Featuring pumpkin puree and fresh sage, this seasonal dish is an unexpected twist on traditional pasta dishes.
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ a yellow onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pasta, or veggies, of choice

  1. If baking a spaghetti squash, preheat your oven to 400F. Slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds in the center, and place cut-side down on a lined baking sheet. Roast at 400F for 30-45 minutes, until the shell can be easily pierced with a fork. If using traditional noodles, make the sauce first, then cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
  2. For the sauce, melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Transfer the onions and garlic to a blender or food processor, and add in the pumpkin puree, almond milk, sage leaves, nutritional yeast and salt.
  4. Blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy, and adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. When your pasta is ready, transfer it to the skillet, heated again over medium heat, and smother it in the pumpkin sauce. Stir to combine, heating thoroughly, and season again, to taste. (I added more salt to balance out the sweet spaghetti squash noodles.)
  6. Serve piping hot, and garnish with additional nutritional yeast and fresh sage.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Race Review: Navy-Air Force Half Marathon DC

9/14/13 was the 2nd annual NavyAir-Force Half.    
Registration and Cost:  $90-$110 depending on when you register.  Discounts for active and retired military
Transfers Allowed?: Yes
Size: 6,500 - 8,500 runners
Expo and Packet Pick-Up: The Expo and packet pick up was a little out of the way.  We had to head onto base for the expo.  Most DC races have an expo downtown somewhere as opposed to outside the city.  Their website says for 2014 that they are working on an off base location this year for the expo.  I have heard that it will be Nationals Stadium with the Presidents from the Nats Games!  Yeah!  The expo last year was fairly small, which was okay....I usually don't spend too much time at them.  The only expos that I have loved have been MCM, RnR, and NWM.  I headed to the expo towards the end of the day and they were out of small shirts.  Which was okay with me since uni-sex sizing never works for me...even if they had a small! 
Course and Race Setting:  You can't beat the setting of this race!  It's when the mornings in DC are just starting to be crisp and cool.  Perfect running weather!  We start and finish at the Washington Monument, pass many great memorials and run through Rock Creek Park. 
The Race: I had been sick all week with strep throat (I get it a lot due to my huge tonsils) and was still on antibiotics the morning of the race.  I got up that morning almost thinking I wasn't going to do it at all.  My husband encouraged me to just head to the start line and I could always drop out if I needed to.  I made a plan in my head that when I was to see them at mile 4-5, I would probably stop.  I had no time goals in my head, I wasn't even thinking about finishing.      
The first two miles were tight.  I never seem to consider myself a "good enough" runner to start near the front of the pack, so I always squeeze into a far back corral and pay for it for the first two to three miles as I jockey for position and dart in between and around those running at a slower pace.  That part is always exhausting.  Then something amazing happened, it just felt great.  The cool crisp weather and the beautiful course through Rock Creek Park really energized me. 

I started waving and smiling the whole way.  I gave kids high fives and screamed "I love you guys!" to my husband and daughter as I ran past.  I kept looking down at my Garmin and it was saying my pace was about an 8:04 and I kept thinking that can't be correct, but kept going with it.

As I came down the final hill and could see the time clock, I threw my hands in the air because I just couldn't believe it!  A 1:46 with being sick and not putting in the training that I knew I should have been doing.  A 1:46 at a race, I wasn't even thinking I could finish.  Our bodies can be amazing sometimes. 

My husband said the finish line photo looks like I won the race and honestly I felt like I did.  I was so shocked and amazed! 

This is a great race at a great time of year.  I would definitely run it again.  It's a very familiar course but a great one.

Grade: A

Training Fail

Wanted to write an update about my training.  After coming back from 14 weeks off due to injury this spring- that first comeback I felt like I was on fire.  Hitting amazing splits (adjusted for the summer heat/humidity) and it was all feeling effortless.

Then going back to work hit.  Long hours  put into my Kindergarten classroom, coaching a Girls on the Run team twice a week, teaching a spin class, house work and spending quality time with my little and main man left very little time for training except for extremely late nights and early mornings.

Add to that my foot pain getting worse on certain days limping around school :-(. So the weekly foot shots of alcohol injections began.  Every Tuesday after school.  The recovery from the shots would take a few days so Tues, Weds and Thur were off from running. 

Essentially my training since mid August has meant one mid week run (if that!), one spin class and racing on the weekend.  Definitely not ideal.  I want to give more, but I can't.

I feel very lucky that my fitness hasn't seemed to suffer too much.  5k and half PRs recently....

but I know I could be faster and really get better and stronger if I was putting in the work... But I am just not able to.

I recently had questions on my facebook page of "How do you do it?" and "What does your training plan look like?".  I wanted to be completely honest.  It 's HARD and I'm trying really HARD to find that happy balance.  And by no means is it ideal!