The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon 2019 recap

Hi! How are you? I’m great and had a lovely weekend at The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon weekend. I’m excited to recap such a lovely weekend.

The race offered a Saturday 5k, a Sunday marathon, two half marathons (the first half of the marathon course or the second half), a 5k and an ultra which starts at 11pm Saturday night. For the ultra, you run the marathon course backwards at 11pm and then you run it with the marathon runners at 5:30 when the race starts.

I was registered for the Saturday 5k and the Sunday 2nd half. I’ve previously run both half marathons.

Saturday, July 27

On Saturday, I woke up at o’dark thirty and made my way down to San Francisco to participate in the inaugural pier to pier 5k! The race started at 7:00 am but I had to be there at 6:30 because they invited me to sing the national anthem! When I got there, I was very excited to see and meet the Ambassador team which I was on this year. They’re all wonderful people and I’m very grateful to have been on the team. I had applied a few years ago and didn’t make it on then, but the timing was perfect to join this year. Very grateful for that.

At 7:00 we were off and I logged a delightful 3 miles solo. I love running in San Francisco so much. I wish I could do it more.

I also ran into my fellow Mermaid Series Ambassadors Dawn Marie and Michelle!

After that I drove down to get some breakfast and meet up with a friend for lunch. We had a picnic at a park so she could bring her puppy 🥳

After that I checked into my hotel, laid out my clothes and waited for two of my friends to come to the hotel so we could go out to dinner!

I chose to wear my Wonder Woman goodrs because my sister, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, told me I had to push through this race I had been feeling ill prepared for. She is going through so much right now and I wanted to make her proud.

After a while my friends came by and it was time for dinner… sushi!

I love sushi. What do you like to eat before a race?

Then we decided to share some ice cream at one of those places where they make it in front of you and roll it up. I’m glad we shared because even the few bites I had were overwhelmingly rich!

Then since the alarm was set for 3:50 AM, we went back to the hotel and went straight to sleep!

Sunday

I had no real goal for race day except to tackle the hills, run even splits and have fun. I estimated I would finish around 3:10 if I ran easy pace.

The alarm went of SO. EARLY. I love big races but hate the logistics of getting to a start line of a big race. Next year I plan to run the marathon at this event and will splurge on a start line hotel!

Another friend met us at the hotel and we hopped in the car. The plan was that we had a parking spot booked at the finish and we would take a shuttle to the start of our race, the 2nd half marathon. We had to be at the shuttle stop no later than 5:45 in order to be shuttled to our starting line. By the skin of our teeth we made it.

I was again invited to sing the national anthem at the start which was amazing. Very grateful for that. I sang at 6:40, and 10 minutes later the race was off.

From the moment I woke up my stomach was feeling off. I think the early alarm and eating much later than I usually eat dinner really affected me. I was feeling unsettled for a while. I realized on the way to the race I had forgotten to take my Ucan. I usually drink it before races since I can never stomach food. I don’t know if that would have made me feel better or worse, but I went in to the race with nothing in my stomach for breakfast.

Finally after my stomach pains went away after a few miles but for some reason then some hamstring tightness began. I’ve literally never had that during a race or a run!

My friend Kerri very graciously offered to run the whole race with me. I know I slowed her down and appreciate so much that she sacrificed her own race to run with me. About mile 3 we decided to choose a friend of ours and run each mile for them. It was a fun way to pass the time!

The bulk of the climbing is in the six miles of the course in Golden Gate Park. Once you come out it’s pretty flat with some rollers. By the time we got out of Golden Gate park around mile 6 or so, I knew I was going to be able to coast through the 2nd half since the hills were over. I was wrong.

As soon as we got into the Haight Ashbury and ran past the McDonald’s that isn’t there anymore (that I used to go to as a kid!), I felt it. THE HEAT! San Francisco isn’t a particularly warm place thanks to Karl the Fog, but it was an exceptional day. I knew once I hit the road I was screwed because there was no covering for the rest of the race. I was right.

I immediately started feeling sick and hot. I was wearing shorts and a tank top and drinking water but I could not stay cool. I stopped at every aid station to dump water on my head, and some SF resident sprayed us with her hose. My pace got slower and slower and I was feeling horrible. I was so ready to be done and cooled down.

It was a lot of fun though to talk to people along the course. We were mixed with half marathon runners and marathon runners and chatted with many of them along the way. At one point I let myself have a quick dance break at an aid station, and sang along at every place anyone was blaring music. It was so fun! Life is better with dance parties.

Eventually I saw the Bay Bridge which meant we were closing in on the finish! Thank goodness! As we rounded past Oracle Park where the SF Giants play, they had a DJ playing some tunes so I stopped for a quick dance break (life is better with dance breaks!). Finally near the very end, there was a drum line. Let me tell you. I LOVE DRUM LINES ON RACE COURSES. I love it SO MUCH. Eugene marathon has it, Santa Rosa marathon has it and it makes my LIFE! Since my time goal was basically out the window, I decided to stop and dance with them. Remember? Life’s bette with dance parties.

Finally was closed in on the finish. I was so glad to be done! As soon as I crossed the finish though I felt sick again, bent over to catch my breath and the medic came over and gave me some ice. She could tell I felt icky. The ice and a bottle of water really saved me at the finish from getting sick.

I got my medal and of course needed a finish picture.

Then we headed back to the hotel where our cars were and showered. That was the best shower I had ever taken.

As for my 3:10 finish, that was horribly wrong. With how sick I was feeling and the extra walking I did as a result, I finished in 3:26. I was really disappointed to see that finish time, but I am glad I had a slower finish rather than DNFing from pushing too hard and getting sick.

Next year I plan to run the marathon and can’t wait! Maybe the ultra in 2021!!

I’ll get my fix though with all the great people from this weekend because the same crew puts on Berkeley half in November! They are letting me stay on for that ambassador program too 🥰. Join us with discount code AmboVanessaW15 for fun.

Cheers runners and happy San Francisco Marathon weekend!

My first 50k recap.

This post will not do any justice to how my first 50k went. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This event broke me down to my deepest, darkest place. I was miserable. I cried. I broke down. I wanted to give up very early into the event. But I didn’t. So let’s talk about it.

I went into this race feeing less than ideal about my training since I got really sick for two weeks right at a peak point of my training. I missed work, I missed a 30k training run and a half marathon training run I had on my plan. I was still coughing on race day. I really wanted those big miles during my training but I didn’t get them so I was anxious about this event.

My husband had the weekend off because he wanted to do the event as well, so at o’dark thirty we loaded the car up and drove to the race. We got there about 5:45 (race started at 7) so we could get our bibs, set up our tent and be ready. The race we did was Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen. The way the race works is that there is a 6 hour option and a 12 hour option and you run loops. The loop is 3.37 miles long and at the last hour of each event, they open a .42 mile loop you can do. In addition to the endurance events, they have a morning 5k/10k and an afternoon 5k/10k. Near the start/finish area you can set up a little camp area for any items you want or to just hang out.

I went in to the race thinking I needed to do 10 loops, 33+ miles, but to really get to get to my mileage goal I only needed to do 9 big loops and 2 small ones.

After many pre race selfies, we were off. I had lots of friends doing the race and a friend working the aid station near the camp area.

I finished the first loop with a few of my friends and greatly enjoyed it. There is an aid station about halfway through the loop where we quickly stopped except they were chopping pickles when I was there and I couldn’t handle the smell and had to leave!!! 🤮 On the way in from the first loop I saw Coach Patrick, my running coach! He was there with a group of people from his training group. We got back to the start/finish area and my friends stopped back at the tent to put on sunscreen or change clothes. I stopped at the aid station for Pb&J and kept going and told them they could just catch up to me. I knew every second was going to count for me and I wanted to lose no time.

The second through 6th loops were fine. I changed shoes at one point and cruised through, stopping at the aid stations to eat pb&j, salted potatoes, quesadillas or grilled cheese and a few chips. I was also taking in chews and Tailwind from my pack. I quickly realized though I was not taking in enough fuel. I was burning through it faster than I was taking it in, and around the 15/16 mile mark I was really feeling awful.

When the race got really tough I was reminded of a quote I heard recently “Some women fear the fire. Others become it.” -Rh Sin and when I was struggling I quietly said to myself “be the fire”. If I ever get a tattoo it will say those words. It was the mantra I needed to push through.

My 7th & 8th loops were painful and when my spirit was tested. My feet were blistering over so badly, my little bones in my feet were screaming. I saw my husband during my 7th loop and I started bawling. I didn’t think I could do it. I couldn’t finish, and I told him I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted to give up so badly. I was trying to smile but I was struggling. I don’t even know what he said to me in that moment but whatever he said was the right thing.

I finished the 8th loop and my friends told me, you have an hour and a half to finish the big loop and two small loops. I did some quick math and that meant I had to pump out 20 minute miles. My feet slowed me down so much during my previous loop that I was exceeding far beyond that- so I made what seemed like a stupid but ultimately the only reason I finished this race… I put on my Oofos flip flops and decided to power walk the last four miles in flip flops. This is not at all how I envisioned my epic first 50k finish to go, but when you are down to the wire and running on nothing but sugar, bread and cheese, you aren’t necessarily thinking rationally, but I picked up those miles faster than I needed in order to finish. Yes, in sandals.

As we closed in on my 9th loop my watch kept screaming low battery. There was no way I was going to have my watch die during my first 50k and not have credit for it, so I grabbed my power pack and my charger and we gave it a quick charge… which was good because when I plugged it in it it told me 1%. I kindly (maybe not so kindly, I had no mental space left haha!) told all my friends I wanted to finish my two little loops alone and they were more than happy to be at the finish line to wait for me and cheer. I was pleasantly surprised with how short the first little loop was and knew I only needed to do one more to finish. My Garmin hit 31.5 just a hair before the finish so I turned it off, and I cried as I trekked to the finish line, knowing I had pushed through the hardest, most draining thing I’ve ever done. I had 13.5 minutes to spare. For reference, I thought I would finish in 10 hours. I was very wrong 😂 but I didn’t even care.

As I came into the finish area all my friends had signs for me, cheered for me and told the announcer it was my first 50k so they cheered and announced it for me! My friend Tommy was handing out medals and gave me mine. There were no words to explain what I felt in that moment. It was unlike any finish line experience I’ve ever had. It was a test of not just my physical limits, but my mental ones too.

The whole time I was running I kept saying I hated running and it was stupid 😂. I said I was going to quit running and drop out of all my Ambassador programs. Then as soon as my butt was in this chair I asked if anyone wanted to do a group run run in two weeks, and what 50k I should do next. So yes, I did have a good time.

I do want to do another 50k but I need some time away from it. I need to lose some weight and train on the trails more. My next few races are road half marathons which is probably a good thing, to keep me back in my comfort zone for a little while.

But I’ll be back for you, Ultrarunning. I promise.

Cheers!

Vanessa

Eugene (half) marathon 2019 recap

Hello! How are you? Me, I’m great. Yesterday I ran the 2019 Eugene Marathon. I ran the half marathon and my husband ran the marathon! My friend from college also did the half as her first half marathon. It was tons of fun all around! My 17th half!

This weekend was jam packed from the moment our vacation started. I got off work on Thursday and immediately went for my last training run. After showering and eating, we got in the car to drive to the hotel near the airport because I had booked an early flight. I wanted to get in to Portland early so we could have time to hit the road to Eugene before the traffic hit.

Friday

Friday morning at o’dark thirty we woke up and went to the airport. As if it wasn’t early enough and my brain wasn’t tired, my husband was singing Cher at 5:30 AM while we waited for the plane to board 🤣. We were both feeling a little loopy I guess. We finally landed at PDX around 9:00 AM, picked up our rental car and hit the road to stop and have breakfast with my sister in law in Portland.

We got to Eugene around 1:00 and stopped for sandwiches and Mr. Ftof went for a shakeout run while I took a much needed nap 😴. When he got back around 4pm, we headed to the race expo and got our bibs and swag. The title sponsor of the Eugene Mararhon is Krusteaz, so I loved their giant setup at the expo!

You could also write your goals on the chalkboard before race day and so of course I had to share mine.

Kick ass

Take names

Look lit AF

I didn’t spend a ton of time at the expo because I knew I would be back the next day.

Then we went out for dinner (pizza and salad), and stopped at voodoo donuts because when in Oregon…

Then we laid out our stuff and made sure we had everything so we could make an emergency stop Saturday if we needed. Then into bed nice and early because we had had a longgggg day.

Saturday

Saturday I was signed up for the Eugene 5k but between our travel and my commitments at the expo later that day, I had to make the decision not to participate. I was disappointed but I know it made my race on Sunday better. It was the first year of the inaugural Double Stack Challenge and I was bummed to miss! I did a two mile shakeout run around the neighborhood we were staying in before we went out to breakfast.

We went to this awesome 50’s themed diner for breakfast. It was casual and a perfect way to fuel up before race day. Then, we went to Whole Foods to pick up some stuff and they gave us a discount because we were in town for the race! All I had to do was show proof of registration. I love that the Eugene community is so supportive of the event.

I went back to the expo at 11am and got to work the CIM booth for a few hours. I’m an ambassador for that event, (FATTOFIT10 for a discount!), and I absolutely love representing the race at expos.

It was neat talking to so many people who had never heard of the event before. Since I’ve only worked booths at California events and most people in CA are very well acquainted with CIM, it was neat to talk to so many people who hadn’t heard of it.

After my shift was over at 1pm, I went to the official Eugene Marathon Ambassador meet up!

It was a joy to meet all the cool people I’ve been representing the event with for the last few months.

Then after that, it was time to go home and eat and put my feet up. My go to lately has been bento boxes. I’m a huge rice fan… just be my Filipino genetics 😂

We took the rest of the day nice and casual, and made dinner instead of going out. I laid out my flat runner and got into bed. The 4:30 alarm was going to come early and I was in no mood for it. To be honest, I require lots of sleep and always have. These early alarms are ok but it often means I put myself in bed before sun has even set.

Sunday

The alarm went off at 4:30 because my husband wanted to leave at 5:30 to get to the race. I hit snooze til 5 and eventually got up and dressed. I always make oatmeal the night before a race or a long run for the next day but the truth is, I hardly ever eat it. I can never stomach anything in the morning. I bank on what I’ve eaten in the previous days to get me through.

We got to Autzen Stadium around 6:00 am. Traditionally this race has ended in Hayward Field but there is construction happening, so this year we all got to #FinishOnTheFifty at Autzen Stadium, which I liked! I have never been on a football field so the idea of finishing on the 50 yard line was fun.

After my husband and I parted ways before the race, my friend Marge showed up! It was her first half. We were very excited to see each other. We met in college and rarely see each other but when we do it’s like not a day passed by.

I used the bathroom three times before the race and twice at home before we left. I was so paranoid about having to make any bathroom breaks. Because we flew up, I was worried about dehydration and was drinking water like it was going out of style the few days before the race which meant I was hydrated but also meant I risked having to stop on the course, so I made Marge wait while I used the facilities multiple times 😂.

We made our way to the start at 6:45 am because the race started at 7:00. I don’t know exactly what time we started but it was pretty on time.

I ran the first half hour with Marge and we had a great time catching up. I got in some good warm up miles. Eventually she told me to push forward to make my time goals and she was going to keep going at her pace.

I went in to this race with some overly ambitious thoughts of how I would do. I was aiming for a 2:55 finish, but I told myself if the stars aligned maybe there was a chance to push for a low 2:50’s finish. I did get my 2:55. Maybe next time around I’ll get a 2:50!

I had a great time out on the course and there were perfect aid stations and cheering. When I hit mile 3.5 I saw the first place half marathon runner on the return, which I later figured out was at the 11 mile mark. He ran the race at a 4:50 pace! Amazing! That inspired me to push a little harder and was a small boost I needed.

A bit later there was another section, probably about mile 5 where you have a section that goes out and loops around and you come back and I saw many runners, both marathon and half marathon, on the return. I kept pushing forward and felt inspired watching them and their speedy legs! It helped push me a little harder.

Then around mile 7 or so, there was a man playing the accordion out. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for him because I saw him last year and I saw him right at the time I needed a boost the most last year! My grandpa played the accordion and I played it as a kid as well, so it was u expected and openly welcomed last year, and a treat I was excited to see again this year.

I was holding on strong and was really pleased to see my watch telling me I was hitting some sub 13 minute miles. I haven’t seen those in a half marathon in a LONG time and made me feel really good about how far I’ve come. I did deal with some blistering on my pinky toes again which frustrated me and slowed me down a little. I also didn’t mentally plan well enough the hills for this event and should have paced myself a little better for them.

Around mile 11/12 things flattened out and you drew nearer to the finish area. Around that time the marathon splits one way and the half splits the other way. The marathon continues on to the River path while the half just heads straight to the finish. As I saw Autzen Stadium I knew I was getting close to finishing but I started to lose some steam which was frustrating. As you see the stadium, you actually had to loop around the back to get into the field to finish, and I wasn’t looking at my watch or mile markers and went too hard for it, not realizing how much more I had to go. I was so close and then to have that much more to go was almost heartbreaking. So I eased up and pulled it together so I could finish strong. I gave it my all for the last sprint to the finish as soon as I saw the arch, weaving around everyone near me.

There was another runner I had been leap frogging with for a while in the middle miles who stopped me at the finish to congratulate me and tell me I did nice work and he couldn’t keep up with me. It was nice and much needed after I felt demolished trying to power through the last half mile to the finish.

And then it was all over! Though I’ve run many half marathons in the last few years, this was one of my first ones in a while I was pushing hard for time. I wanted to see where I was currently at as I progress forward to aim for my half marathon PR this year.

Then after I finished, I waited for Marge to finish and was so excited to watch her finish and cheer for her!

We also enjoyed our Krusteaz Pancake breakfast while we waited for Skip to finish.

My husband told me he thought he would PR by a few minutes (current PR before Eugene was 5:21) and so when I got the tracking notification that he was at the 20 mile mark 3:38 into the race, I knew that unless he hit a horrific wall he was going to crush his PR and I was right. He came in at 4:47, a 34 minute PR at his fourth marathon. I saw him running in and was cheering like a maniac for him. I was so proud of him! He had trained so hard and did so well.

We had celebrations all around for race weekend. I was excited to check my mile splits at the end of the race.

And after some celebratory beers and ice cream, I asked everyone when we would do it again! Skip and Marge didn’t seem too convinced on the idea. Me on the other hand… I’m debating if maybe I should run the Eugene 26.2 next year and am excited to start 50k training in just a few days 😏

All in all a great and successful weekend. Until next time Eugene! Cheers runners!

The Beach Is Gonna Get Whatever Body I Give It

Hi! How are you? Me I’m great. Warm weather has been picking up which means it is time for many people’s least favorite time of year… shorts, tank top and swim suit season.

Last year I had to buy a new swim suit and although it wasn’t my favorite thing to shop for, it did not end up being the worst thing I had to do. I’m patiently awaiting a day it’s warm enough for a pool party or when the beach is warmer than 62° so I can bust it out of my drawer again.

I’m also a big fan of wearing shorts and tank tops and am not necessarily hesitant to do so. In fact sometimes perhaps my length of shorts are questionably short 🤷🏽‍♀️ but I’m like hey, for all the miles I run I’ll wear shorts however short I want.

I realize though that I’m unique in this. So long as my stuff is the right size and comfortable, it doesn’t phase me to wear something showing off my arms or my legs, even if it means cellulite, bingo wings and all, because I focus more on the strength I see in my body rather than my flaws.

If you’re hoping to find the courage to rock some items and show some skin this summer, this is what has helped me.

  • Look in the mirror, a lot! It may be frustrating to look in the mirror when you aren’t loving what you see back. But your body is amazing and does amazing things for you and deserves to be celebrated. Spend a few minutes a few times a week looking in the mirror and pointing out things you really appreciate about yourself and your body. You’ll find it easier when putting your swimsuit on the first time to enjoy what you see if you’ve spent some time looking at your kick ass body before that moment arrives
  • Go into your warm weather season with a positive mindset! Do you go into Macy’s to buy shorts saying to yourself “I hate wearing shorts, my legs are so fat and I look horrible”? Well guess what, then when you go in, you’ve already got that narrative in your head! Go in open minded and you’ll have a much more fun time.
  • Consider all of the great things you’ll get to do if you get over your fear! I love to run but running in the summer in anything more than a tank top and shorts would be miserable. Some days it’s so hot I shed the shirt too! When I realized that if I don’t get comfortable wearing those items I won’t have the ability to run outdoors when it’s warm out, I’ll miss some amazing running days! When I first had to get over my fear of taking off my shirt and rocking the sports bra for running, I realized I would get to enjoy the thing I love, running, if I became confident to wear less clothing. Who cares with what I looked like? I wanted to enjoy my running! Similarly, I won’t get to swim if I don’t get comfortable wearing a swimsuit so it was well worth it to get over myself!
  • Invest in warm weather items you love. If you buy a swimsuit or pair of shorts because it’s cheap but you hate it- you’ll never wear it! Invest. Love what you’re wearing and you’ll feel more comfortable in it. I promise.

If I waited until my body was “perfect” to wear my swimsuit, my shorts or my sports bra I would never get there. So, I’ve got my beach body ready for this summer because the beach is gonna get whatever body I give it!

Body positivity for the win. I’m rooting for you!

Cheers to warm weather clothing!

-Vanessa

She.Is.Beautiful Santa Cruz 10k recap

Back in the Fall I saw that She.Is.Beautiful was opening registration for their Santa Cruz 5k/10k for a very low fee. I had never run the race but had heard of it. It’s along the ocean, based around women empowering women, and I didn’t have any races scheduled for March 23rd, and so when my best running friend said she was gonna sign up, I knew that meant I had to too!

Some logistics about the race that I flushed out were that I knew I would have to rent a hotel room since the race was two hours from me, and so my gal pals and I rented a room and the shenanigans began from there…

So what was my race plan? Approximately four weeks before the race Coach Patrick texted me and told me he wanted me to consider running the 10k for time to see where I was at as a baseline for Eugene Marathon, half, which is five weeks after the 10k. I of course agreed and then went into a world of panic because I had no idea how to handle that.

After I had one of my many meltdowns to Coach Patrick I confessed I had no idea how to even pace myself at the 10k. I’ve been running nothing but halfs and marathons for the last year that I had literally no idea what to even aim for on race day for a 10k goal. After all, that is 20 miles less than a marathon! Coach Patrick told me to go out on a day I felt like it and warm up and then run a mile for time and he would give me a target race pace based on that. So about two weeks before the race on a Thursday afternoon I did just that. I came out with an 11:18 mile. He told me to aim for a 13:00 min/mile pace for the race. That time seemed too fast for me. My long runs have not been that fast, though my long runs are often much, much longer than 6.2 miles. But I kept 13:00 min/mile in my head every day and debated how to tackle the race regularly. Daily I thought about it. And daily I freaked out inside. And daily I never made any plan except to show up and give it my all.

Friday, March 22

I wasn’t going to take a full day off of work the day before, Friday, but the previous week I had had a boatload of meetings and my brain was still like jello, so I was grateful when I sheepishly asked my coworkers and boss it was okay if I took 8 hours off instead of 6 and they said yes of course. That gave me some head space to prepare for the race.

I slept in, and woke up and did my two mile shakeout run. It was raining but I was glad it was raining the day before the race and not race day!

Then I drove down to meet my friend Melissa halfway to Santa Cruz so we could carpool to the race! We made it to Santa Cruz and met our other friend at the hotel. We laid out our clothes and planned race logistics for the next day.

Then we headed out to dinner for sushi goodness!

And after dinner and shenanigans, we played a bunch of games of jenga til our eyes were crossed and got ready for bed. Luckily race day didn’t have to start too early. We didn’t have to wake up until 6! For reference, when I do CIM I wake up at 3:50! It was awesome knowing I could sleep in!

Saturday, March 23

Alarm went off at 6, and we all got ready, ate our pre race meals and headed out to the parking lot to take the shuttles!

The pre race event was fun and filled with a women empowering women rally. The event was huge. There were people everywhere. Finally, at 8:35 we started. That’s a late start for a race for me so it was already warm but I felt okay. I was going to run with NO run walk alerts on my Garmin and go by feel. I was glad I made that choice. Coach Patrick texted me before the race (which I so needed and appreciated because I was a little bit anxious), and told me to maintain my pace early in the race and then let loose in the last mile.

I had this reminder on my arm:

Meaning leave nothing out there. Finish the race knowing you gave it your all.

Mile one: I weaved through a lot of people. (Friendly reminder, if you’re walking a race, please start at the back of the pack so as to open up space for runners. It’s hard to weave in and out of large groups of runners). I felt really good. Like, REALLY good. So when my watch read mile split: 12:05 I went into a full fledged panic. I was one mile in and already one minute faster than my target pace. I knew I needed to dial it back so I didn’t burn out fast. I had 5.2 miles to go after all.

Mile two: okay. I was done weaving in and out of people and told myself to pull it back. I felt good. I felt solid. I heard my watch beep… mile split: 12:16. Um ok I guess I pulled it back a little but not what I had in mind. I told myself, pull it back, you’re going for 13:00 average. DO NOT burn out.

Mile 3: I reminded myself DO NOT GO OUT TOO HARD. Pull it BACK. My watch beeped. Mile split: 12:43, and while I was glad I finally pulled myself back a little so I didn’t burn out, I began to think, “maybe there’s something in me that’s got more than a 13:00. I need to trust my body.”

Mile 4: Part way into mile 4 I know I lost time because I told myself at the 5k marker to take my gu in. I don’t normally use gu, but I like that gu hits me faster than chews and with it being a short distance, I needed that instant available fuel. Then my watch beeped, mile split: 13:06. I was glad I banked some time early to have available during this mile where I lost some time.

Mile 5: There were some climbs in this mile and I allowed myself to save energy during those to save for the last mile. Mile split: 13:06. Isn’t it weird my mile splits for 4&5 were the same??

Mile 6: with one mile left I knew I needed to let it go and release all energy I had in my tank. At the final half mile there was a Hoka One One Arch and a sign saying you were a half mile from the finish. I kicked it into gear and then as I drew close to the finish and saw it, I released EVERYTHING I had left. Absolutely everything. I was panting. My chest was burning. My legs were turning over at an unbelievable speed. One thought popped into my head, “she believed she could so she did”, and I raised my arm for the reminder “Empty the tank”. There was no reason to play it safe now. I recalled a few years ago at a 5k I raced and I was going hard and suddenly stopped just moments from the finish and walked. I couldn’t let myself get uncomfortable. I couldn’t go there. This wasn’t going to be that. So I ran harder. I leaned in more, I trusted my body more. I pushed.

My watch said mile 6 split: mile split: 12:05 and then suddenly I was under the race arch and I was done.

When I crossed the finish line I stopped my Garmin. I honestly thought I might barf. I raised my hands over my head, tried to breathe and then when I could finally stop to see how I did, I was pleasantly surprised.

Race finish: 1:16:28. 12:30 pace. 4 minutes under goal.

Racing a short distance is so different than anything I have experienced with half or marathons. Half and marathons for me are about pacing yourself and endurance. 5k and 10ks are quite the opposite. It’s short. I push. I get uncomfortable. I breathe hard. I let the sweat drip because I’m going all out. It is a different place to go to mentally, and one today I realized I am not 100% in tune with, but an area of myself I would like to explore more.

Today was not a PR. In fact it’s far from my 10k PR of 1:06. However, today was really important for me. I’ve failed so many times at multiple attempts of things. But all those failures filled my tool belt to be successful now.

This race was a huge win for me. I celebrated with frozen yogurt and an Epsom salt bath. I’m very excited for what will be in store at Eugene Marathon in just 5 weeks now. I got this.

Cheers to winning!

Vanessa

How to stay motivated.

One of the questions I get asked more than anything is how do you stay so motivated? The answer I usually attribute my motivation to is my drive. I’m overwhelmingly driven (to a fault), and always have been, which makes it easy for me to keep going. However, after some recent reading and thoughts on my motivation, I realize there are many other factors too. Here are my tips on how you can stay motivated too!

1. Find an activity you like and don’t force yourself to do something you hate.

We all know I love to run, that’s a given, and that I also greatly enjoy my strength training routine as well. But before I got to this perfect rotation of things I’m in, I circled through a bunch of activities I really despised or weren’t for me. I needed to work on my core strength so I tried Pilates. Guess what? I hated it so much my husband had to drive me to the gym because I wouldn’t drive myself. Yoga? It was okay but it wasn’t my favorite and I couldn’t make a routine out of it. I tried some full body workout and boot camp classes but because those classes we half running, I didn’t feel they were the right fit for me because I already spent so much time running. Find what works for you.

2. If you find something that works for you, don’t be afraid to commit to it, stick with it and pay money for it.

I am very fortunate that I’ve worked hard enough to be able to have some spare bucks for spending on this, but I will be the first to admit that one of the heftiest chunks of change I spend each month is the combo of my Running Coach and my Strength Training Gym but guess what? I love both and they make me feel Whole and complete. They get me out the door in the morning or on the road after work. I have support systems built in both communities that are well worth the value I pay. I know if I told some people what I paid for that, they would then their noses up at me, however investing in my fitness is what I want to spend my money on and keeps me motivated.

3. Find a community who will help keep you motivated when you’re feeling your motivation dip.

I have a huge community of support that I draw from. My community keeps me motivated when I would otherwise want to give up. Some days I am the one cheering for others and some days I need others to cheer for me. Facebook groups have become one of the biggest places I find support and stay motivated. I am in multiple Facebook fitness groups and love the friendships I’ve made through them if other supportive runners and athletes who inspire me and motivate me to work hard.

4. I always have at least one goal in the queue.

I know I’m unique with this one but I always have a goal in the queue. Mostly that means I always have a race on the calendar to train for, but I also have other goals to work for too. I am always curious to see how much more weight I’ll lift the next week at the gym, or if I’ll get higher on the hill in my next hill repeats workout. I set big goals but I also look at smaller, daily or weekly, ones too to keep me going.

5. If my motivation is starting to fade, it might be time for a different goal or routine

On the same note of goal setting, sometimes too much routine or too many attempts at the same goal make me lose my motivation. Sometimes running the same trail feels boring and I’m unmotivated to get a run in. But when I dig deeper, it isn’t the run I don’t want to do, it is seeing the same five miles of trail that I don’t want to do. Mix it up! Sick of the elliptical? Try riding the bike at the gym. Need a break from your kickboxing class? Try a Zumba class. Your motivation to get to it after a little separation from the same thing will do you some good.

On that same note, sometimes attempting the same goal over and over will make you lose your motivation – not spark it. I took a long break from trying to PR my half time. I didn’t even attempt it once in 2018, because I was so burnt out on that goal. I still wanted it – yes, but I needed time away from racing the half marathon to find my motivation to go for it again. I spent last year on other goals and now feel motivated to try again on that one. Staying motivated can mean a little headspace from the thing you’re motivated to work towards, even if that sounds counter productive.

6. Last but not least, sometimes you just gotta suck it up and go.

Sometimes the only way I find my motivation is to force myself out there. Sometimes I don’t find the motivation, it finds me. Don’t let your excuses win. Think to yourself, “I can at least get out there and try today and if it sucks after 15 minutes I’ll go home.” Some days I don’t even wanna run half a mile but those end up being the best runs I have. Some days you just gotta fake it til you make it, but eventually the motivation comes!

Cheers to staying motivated!

Vanessa

How Social Media will help me get to the Eugene Marathon

I am no stranger to loving social media and using it openly to share my running journey.  Between my Facebook blog, webpage and Instagram I have made a lot of new friends and been graced with thousands of followers who share my health, wellness and fitness journey with me.  Though I mostly use my social media to share pictures of cows I see on the run or the hundreds of selfies I manage to snag, I have also learned the importance of using social media as a tool to enhance my training.

I have an awesome running coach, Coach Patrick who has helped me progress very far in my mental journey as a runner, as well as physically through his challenging training plans.  Working with a Coach provides a huge sense of accountability, and to enhance that, sharing my training journey on social media and using it as a tool has provided me an even bigger sense of accountability and even furthered my running journey.

When I am able to write about my training on my blog or give a quick caption on Instagram, it offers me the opportunity to reflect on my run that day or where I am at with my training.  It is important for me to celebrate the good runs with a huge smile and a WOOHOO! just for me, but even more important is for me to be able to identify a challenging or bad run and be able to put it into words.  It is very valuable to be able to look back on my last few runs and see where I am at mentally and physically to ensure I am not so focused on the micro that I forget to look at the macro.

Additionally, using social media as a tool to enhance my running journey has benefit me greatly because I have found many online running groups and made friends through social media to help support my running journey to. It is valuable for me, as someone who mostly runs alone, to know I have a community I can share my highs and lows with. I am so very fortunate to have met some awesome people through social media who have become my best running friends, and will rock out some long runs or races with me on occasion when I need a friend or five to run with!

Right now I’m in the throes of training for the Eugene Marathon, half marathon. It’s my goal for 2019 to PR my half time and I’m starting my 2019 journey by using Eugene to see where I’m at. I have been able to use social media to openly express how my training is going, the good, bad and the ugly, and to find and feel support from a wide community of runners and non runners who are rooting for my success. The value of this is so beneficial, especially on the days where my runs are challenging and my frustrations are high.

I’m looking forward to continuing my training for the race and feeling the support and accountability from everyone I am friends with and followers on social media. I can’t wait to see how I do on April 28th! (If you’d like to join the fun, use VANESSAEM19 for a discount on the half or marathon!)

Cheers runners!

Vanessa

2019 Kaiser Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday I completed my 16th lifetime half marathon. How cool is that? It was a super fun weekend and though it’s a very chill event, was still super exciting. Here’s how my weekend went.

Saturday 2/2

I actually got to take over the Inspiring Women Runners Instagram account race weekend! It was awesome. My weekend started with a quick shakeout run in the rain. Glad race day wasn’t Saturday! It was wet!!

After my quick run my mom and I went out to breakfast. If you ever go to breakfast with me it’s likely I’ll get a bacon, cheese and avocado omelette with a side of salsa, dry sourdough toast and breakfast potatoes, not hash browns. I’ll also get water and sometimes will have 1 cup of coffee with cream. That’s my go to.

My mom gave me her avocado from her meal. That’s a good mom right there.

Then, I had a dentist appointment. I had all of my dental work done in one appointment. Do I recommend this? Not really. My whole mouth was numb for a good portion of the day! Good thing I ate that giant breakfast 🤣

Because the race is an hour from where I live, I spent the night at a family members house. Mr. Ftof drove so I could be lazy and browse social media 🤷🏽‍♀️.

My family made me a delicious dinner and we tucked ourselves in nice and early.

I had to think long and hard about what to wear for the race. It was potentially going to be raining but I also wanted to be warm. I decided a tank top with arm sleeves would be best so I could peel off the sleeves if I got warm rather than fumbling with a sweatshirt. I once ran in the rain with a sweatshirt during a half Mary and I was weighed down by wet clothing. I also wanted a hat with a brim to cover my eyes and a headband under that to keep my ears warm. It ended up being the perfect outfit. I laid it out before bed to make sure nothing was missing.

Sunday, 2/3

Full disclosure: I went into this race with my longest long run having been only 9 miles. I went out for a 10 miler but that day was a disaster and I screwed the whole run up and didn’t make it to 10. I was nervous about how this race was gonna go.

Being close to the race start AND having an 8:10 start time was AWESOME! I got to sleep in on race morning until 5:00 am! The last few races I did I had to be up by 4:00! I actually could have probably slept til 5:20. Anyhow- I got dressed and made my almond butter and banana sandwich to eat around 6:30. We loaded ourselves into the car at 6 and off we went to secure parking and have time to use the restrooms.

Most of the morning is a blur but it came down to:

  • Me trying to stay warm and dry because it rained on and off before the race began
  • Me stepping in a huge mud puddle trying to walk to the portopotty
  • Me trying to figure out what group photos I was supposed to be in and where
  • Me trying to figure out where to corral myself because the 5k started before the 10k/half

I made a very loose game plan for the race and knew I needed to stick to it to be successful

  • Run walk intervals
  • Fuel on my chews every 45 minutes
  • Take in Nuun starting at the mile 6/7 aid station
  • Save some energy for the miles heading out on the Great Highway
  • Gain some time on the miles back from the Great Highway

The race started at 8:10 and I had pretty smooth sailing out the gate. The first sixish miles are through Golden Gate Park and a neighborhood. Usually Golden Gate Park is really humid when I’ve run it but I think the rain helped. It was very comfortable.

I was saving a lot of my energy for when I got to the Great Highway. I new those miles were going to be windy and they were gonna tear me apart.

While I was running through Golden Gate Park there was one linkup where the 10k met up with the half I think around mile 5 and a gentleman doing the 10k saw me and his face lit up.

“You’re doing the half!”

“Why yes I am, it’s my 16th one”

“That’s so great! You have about 8-9 miles left right? I used to do triathlons but I had some heart problems as I got older. This is my second 10k now. Do it while you’re young and you can. Have a great race!”

Moments like that really warm my heart.

I hit the turn onto the Great Highway and I knew I was in for some great views but some horrible wind.

I wasn’t wrong. The moment I turned onto it my hat started to blow away. I laughed to myself and said “tighten your hat and let’s get going!”

The threeish miles out on the Great Highway were into headwinds. I had to fight hard for those miles and it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve had to do but it was a challenge for certain.

It’s funny because even though I was in the back, I felt really strong and experienced and knew how to handle myself. I had a plan and I executed it. It was awesome seeing the fast runners on the return while I was going out. One day I’ll be one of those runners. One guy ran across the barrier and high fived me. I love the running community.

When I finally got to the turnaround a little before mile 10, I was so grateful but I was still feeling good. I’ve noticed that after training for two marathons last year I feel pretty solid in the 13.1 distance and often the miles fly by pretty quickly. They don’t seem to drag on or be as hard as they used to be.

Eventually I picked up some speed and miles 11/12 felt really good and I knew I was just moments from finishing. My friend Tony was the finish line announcer and he gave me the kindest most heartfelt announcement. It was rad!

And with that, it was all over. Half marathon number 16 was completed!

I had an absolute blast and though I don’t know what my schedule looks like for next year, I just may be back!

Thanks Kaiser half for such a fun event!

Cheers runners!

Vanessa

My body is strong and I appreciate it.

Let me preface this with saying I debated writing this and I felt silly writing it, but I also like to go places with my writing that others may need to hear… happy reading!

Last night I got a massage. I don’t get massages very often. In fact, I don’t do most things that are considered pampering or indulgent all that often. It was two years between my most recent haircut and my last one, and I still have the “pedicure” on my feet that I got for my friends September 2018 wedding…. so needless to say, massages are pretty low on my list of priorities, though I’m trying to allow myself to partake in them more simply because I am so much more active now.

I got a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas (ok full confession: I bought it for myself for Christmas as a Christmas gift to me… don’t judge!), and finally scheduled an appointment. The last few massages I’ve gotten have been either more Sports Massage, so it ends up being all business when I go in, or one of those reflexology places where they really dig into you but I’ve had some issues with language barriers there, so there isn’t a whole lot of hot neck towels and relaxing music happening.

But I digress.

This magical gift certificate that I gifted for myself was at a spa place than I’ve ever gone to before. They give you a whole robe and a foot soak and some hot tea in a room called the relaxation room… the kind of stuff that is the polar opposite of who I am and how I operate. (What is a relaxation room? On that note, how does one relax? All I do is keep busy…) So, as I sat in a fuzzy white robe with my feet in a foot soak of hot water, in a dimly lit room with no clock (what the hell time is it, how will I keep on schedule with my life), no cell phone (I bet I have a thousand new emails piling up or I could at least have brought it to browse social media) and a hot towel around my neck (that I could get used to), I felt a little out of place and wanted to move things along. This was a lot of relaxing and not a lot of getting it done and moving on to the next thing, until they called me in for my appointment.

Ok, awesome… until I realized when I made the appointment I had said I was fine with a male masseuse, and then for the first time in my life was having a massage with a man. When I scheduled the appointment I assumed that because my “back is whack” (my opinion, not a medical diagnoses 🤣) and has knots for days a male would be better to help work out my issues.

I have almost always in my adult life gone to male doctors, have many male friends and have always felt comfortable in male dominated settings, but for some reason my first thought was “oh shit, I don’t know how I feel about my body in this moment.”

I felt conflicted about the fact that I’ve got extra weight sitting in my mid section, but I also know I’ve got some strong defined muscles and was about to be butt ass naked on this massage table with no unicorn onesie or little while robe to cover my anxieties of my saddle bags and my stretch marks.

I’ve never had that type of a gut check ever, where the two ways I see myself mesh into one visualization. I was about to be full Monty face down on this table and I couldn’t decide in that moment if I felt I was fat or if I felt I was strong.

I pulled myself out of my headspace fast. I reminded myself that there’s no pre-reqs for coming in and getting a massage. Any insecurities I am feeling right now shouldn’t be projected as what I imagine others are thinking about me.

As the session was going to begin we discussed what I needed work on. I noted my calves and my shoulders from all my running and strength training, and we made that a topic of small talk. As I felt knots being worked out, a few four letter words almost come out of my mouth, and some much needed physical relief, I worked on letting my insecurities go away and relaxing.

I had a moment while I was on that table where I thought to myself this exact phrase: “be grateful to your strong body and all it can do”, and that I was gifting myself this hour to give my little body some much needed attention for all the hard work I give it.

And at the end of the day, it was one of the best massages I think I’ve ever had.

Don’t let yourself get into the headspace of insecurity. Let yourself celebrate the positive and focus your energies on that. You’re the only person who sees yourself in a bad light. Don’t project those feelings onto others.

Lesson learned.

Be grateful to your strong body and all it can do.

Do I look relaxed?

Cheers to strength!

Vanessa

If you run, you are a runner.

I had a weird not me experience the other day earlier this week… I really enjoyed my workout at Santa Rosa Strength & Conditioning and felt like a champion…. the kind where you play Eye of the Tiger on the drive home and then came home and got into weird head space about my body. That’s really unheard of for me, though I know I have goals, I don’t really ever get in a funk about my body size. That same day I had to submit what size shirt I wanted for The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador team and it stung a little to be the only women’s XL on the list. I felt a little bit like hmmm, do I belong here?

But I had to remind myself…. When I had the honor of reading through commentary on the ambo applications for Mermaid Series, I was surprised how many people wrote “I don’t look like a runner”.

I have now been to many races and training runs and though the really super fast runners are built a certain way, there are people of all builds running 5ks to 50ks, from noviced runners to runners who can tackle events with thousands of feet of elevation gain.

I don’t look a certain way but I haven’t really let that stop me. I had to remind myself of the same words I constantly am reminding everyone else of…

If you run, you’re a runner.

I don’t have to preface that with things like “slow”, “fat”, “plus size”, “turtle” because I don’t identify that way. I simply see myself as a runner.

End of story.