I can’t wait for running to go back to normal.

I feel a little lost without races and group runs. I know they say #RunningIsntCancelled and I’m running enough to keep myself sane while balancing my extreme caution of leaving the house for too long.

But quite frankly I miss races. I miss meeting up at expos with friends and getting to say hi to various race directors tabling at expos that I have met. I miss drinking a pitcher of water and sharing sushi rolls with my running crew while we realize we haven’t looked at the course map at all for the race that’s 12 hours away and have no idea where to expect the rolling hills during our half marathon. I miss race weekend sleepovers where we stand on beds or chairs to take #FlatRunner photos at the perfect angle for social media. I miss races and hearing or saying the words “omg are you so and so? I follow you on Instagram!” I miss medal selfies and my husband asking if I am expecting him to drive home so I can post my race pics to my insta. I miss complaining about how much I spent on a race entry but signing up again the next day when the rerun email comes out. I miss having targets to set. I miss analyzing my fueling and my splits. I miss failing at getting my half marathon PR again but having fun running a race and telling myself it will happen next time.

My most recent race on February 15, 2020
Not sure when I get another one.

I miss weekend running group meet ups where we groan over how many miles are on our training plan for our long run. I miss the phone calls because we decided to run at a new park and someone got lost trying to find it (spoiler alert, it is usually me). I miss the alarms that go off at 4:50 so we can get together and run 15 miles and then stuff our faces with avocado and bacon omelettes with a side of waffles and then wondering where the nearest donut shop is because #runchies. I miss laughing so hard while we run that someone doubles over with laughter. I miss the feeling of squishing my hydration pack bladder to make sure I have enough water, and the excitement of having a toasted marshmallow gu on the long run because it is the best flavor. I miss going to brunch in socks and Birkenstock’s because you can’t bear your running shoes for one more minute but you’re not sure you still have all ten toenails.

I know running is not cancelled but running right now is so beautiful because I still get to, but feels so lonely. I miss my friends and I miss the running community. I am practicing my patience to ensure staying healthy and practicing caution, but I also know that it is okay to be making the right choices while also wishing you didn’t have to.

Cheers runners to health and happiness. ❤️

Easing up during this time of crisis

I’ve resisted writing about COVID-19 and all surrounding it for a while. I had so many thoughts floating in my head and couldn’t pin point how to be eloquent about any of them. Today I saw something that struck me, and finally felt like I was able to put something down to express my thoughts. I felt like writing it would help me more than it might help you readers at home.

The visual I saw basically denoted that during times of crisis and trauma, some people go into hyper drive while others may ease up a little and that both were acceptable ways to handle the situation. I’ve discussed openly on my blogging platforms that I am extremely driven. When I was a kid I remember a specific time where my mom told me that after a musical I was performing in closed, I was hard to be around. I didn’t realize what that meant at the time, but looking back now I realize it was likely because I had no next new goal in front of me, so I’m sure I was whiney, needy and annoying because I had nothing new to look forward to. Fast forward two decades later, and I have never functioned in my adult life without something ahead of me. Whether it is performing in a musical while knowing when rehearsals started for the next one, or training for a half marathon while researching which one will come immediately following that, you could basically say I have no chill. I cannot just settle without something to work towards. I have tried and I tend to fail.

When I read that little social media post I realized that I have, unsurprisingly, gone into hyperdrive. But when I really thought about that, I realized how much I am wearing myself down rather than replenishing myself in this time where self care is just as important as ever. I have almost gone too far opposite of the Instagram memes of people wearing nothing but sweats and eating raw cookie dough for dinner. I have spent my time obsessively list making, to do list making, meal planning, meal prepping, fun in home activity scheduling, calendaring my days down to the hour, forcing myself to indulge in fun in order to not feel sad about everything that’s going on. I realize I’ve maybe gone so far over the edge of trying to stay distracted from it all that I’ve done a little more harm than good for my own mental well being.

Now with shelter in place, my bedroom gets to double as a yoga studio 😏

I’m not saying that the things I’m doing are bad, but what I am saying is that I can spend some time easing up on things in order to take a few more deep breaths and maybe let myself feel sad every once in a while. I have had five races get canceled, am working from home (where as normally I go into the office and love collaborating and saying hi to everyone in my office that I see or pass), am missing my mom’s birthday because I will be required to shelter in place still, am missing pre race weekend sleepovers with friends, and just mourning my traditional schedule of events like going to the grocery store on a whim, running at my local parks (they’re all closed), and not wondering how often and which restaurants I need to get takeout from because I’m overwhelmed trying to support them all so they can stay open.

I am not being hard on myself at all. I often rely on past experiences to drive me through new ones but I’ve got nothing in my memory bank – or anyone else’s, to use as compare and contrast material. The point of this all was that we are all human, this is a freaking hard time right now. I am forgiving myself for not following my running training plan, easing up on being so high strung on schedules and to do lists, and taking some deep breaths and going day by day because that’s all anyone can do.

So, with a big deep breath, I forge forward and remind myself I can do this. We all can. We are in it together, but at least six feet apart. 😉

You won’t learn from your failure if you’re busy beating yourself up.

I sat in a meeting recently where someone was talking out a shortcoming that they had had, and how they had been beating themself up over it when another colleague in the room stated something to the tune of, “you can’t learn from your failure if you’re busy beating yourself up from it”. I instantly felt like a lightbulb had gone off and muttered out loud to no one in particular “that would make a great blog post.”

My social media newsfeed is constantly filled with running related efforts with a few sprinkles of non-running related things (because I basically only follow runners 😂), and there are many people I follow who I admire not because of their constant success, but because of their abilities to strategically analyze what went wrong when they failed so they can learn from it for next time. I always aspire to do that too, though I’m not as skilled as some others are quite yet at it.

I have never beat myself up for missing a target in my running goals. I have, however, always analyzed what was a success and what went wrong because I constantly want to learn from myself. I have learned through many years of analyzing my half marathon PR attempt crash and burns things like if I don’t take in electrolytes before mile 10 I’m going to have a bad race, that I have to be very conscious of the humidity of whatever race I’m doing and plan for my socks and feet swelling accordingly, that there is a certain length of shorts and capris that are acceptable for running and anything shorter or longer will sabotage me, and that I’m notorious for going out too fast and regretting it.

Do you know why I know these things? Because I have taken my failures as opportunity to learn so I can succeed the next time.

If I spent the amount of time being cruel to myself that I now spend really analyzing my successes and my shortcomings every time I miss my target, I would be miserable! I have failed constantly- some times more than others, and in much larger ways than other times. I also have learned that because I am not beating myself up over my failure, I find myself more willing to put myself out there for bigger, scarier and other goals that don’t feel attainable because I know I can take every opportunity as a time to learn, whether success is at the end of the goal or not.

I hope you aren’t spending too much time beating yourself up over shortcomings. You’re awesome and deserve to celebrate as such.

Cheers to success AND to failure,

Vanessa

You know what your goal is, but why is it your goal?

Hi! How are you? First blog post on my webpage for 2020 and it seems appropriate to be about my favorite topic… goals!

I’ve had the same running goal for three and a half years. PR my half marathon time. My PR half marathon was set at the Run Wine Country Windsor Half in May 2016. I ran so fast that my friends who ran the 10k were going to wait for me at the finish line, but I came in 11 minutes faster than I expected to and they were at post race food thinking I would still be running for a bit! Though I began working with a running coach shortly after that race, I also have gained some weight with no huge focus to lose it, and focused my energy on the marathon and my first ultramarathon distance in recent years. But this post isn’t about that, just some relevant background for you.

I’ve thought for many years about WHAT my goals are…. PRing my half, losing weight, learning the entire Napoleon Dynamite Canned Heat dance… but I’ve never really thought about why those were my goals. A little lightbulb went off on New Years Day when I was out on a trail run and listening to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and I thought, “I know what my goals are, but why are they my goals?”

I have said for a countless number of years that I wanted to PR my half time but I’ve never thought about why. Why would I want such a goal? In reality, it’s an arbitrary number on a clock. I’m not an elite athlete, a goal like that comes with no cash prize or podium finish for my speed. So why do I want it? For the bragging rights? To say I got it done? So my Athlinks profile finally has a change? What’s the real reason?

The infamous PR day in 2016

Let’s use the example of someone trying to quit smoking. Let’s say they say their goal is I want to quit smoking. Great! So they quit cold turkey from that day forward. But without a why of having that goal, what do they lean on when a loved one goes into the hospital and the urge to light up because they’re stressed? What about when they’ve had a drink or two and have newly quit and the smell of someone lighting up at the bar wafts their way and a craving hits? Or what about when they’re cleaning a cabinet and find one last lonely package of cigarettes and they’re struggling to want to throw it away. If they know what their goal is, it’s easy to stay true to it during the times with no struggle or distraction. But if they know why that’s the goal, they have something to lean into when the goal becomes hazy with distraction. If this same person knew their why for quitting smoking was that their friend was diagnosed with lung cancer and they don’t want the same fate, or that their sister is having a baby and they want to quit smoking so they can be around the baby when it comes, or whatever that why may be, it is easier to stay true when it seems hard to.

I have my goals for 2020 and some I know the why, and some I’m still coming to fully understand. But if you’ve set any goals, have you come up with your why?

Cheers to why!

Vanessa

CIM 2019 recap

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I ran CIM this year for a third time this weekend. It was great! When I was chosen to be an ambassador for this race back in early 2019, I told myself I was going to lose weight and get super fast for my marathon. That didn’t happen! But despite not being where I thought I would be for the race, I still did it and am excited to recap.

For the last few weeks

For the last few weeks I’ve been debating if I wanted to toe the line for the marathon. In fact, I told a bunch of friends at Berkeley half I was debating it and they totally understood. My mind was so tired of training and I was burnt out. I’ve also been in weird head space for the last few months amongst receiving my sisters cancer diagnosis (she’s doing great by the way!), and though I was putting the work in on early mornings, late nights, and weekends and basically had a part time job training for 26.2, I was not mentally present for marathon training. The last four half marathons I had run were totally garbage paces which made me worried about how Marathon day would go. But fear not – it was awesome.

Saturday

Friday night I was NOT in good head space. Long story short, I have to have some dental work done (I lost a filling eating a cold chew on my long run the week before) and decided I wanted to try a dentist closer to where I live. My old dentist is a pretty hefty trek from where I live and work. The experience at the new dentist was overwhelming and I was frustrated with what they were charging me AND they told me they couldn’t get me in for two weeks for my filling! I felt defeated over something that’s so simple on Friday night so I called my old dental office and told them I missed them and even though it’s a drive I wanted to keep going there, which felt like a sense of relief. She got me in to the first open appointment the day after the marathon, and I felt like I could go into race weekend knowing resolve was coming. So I woke up Saturday, did a quick shakeout, and we headed to the expo but not without a pit stop for pancakes!

We were scheduled to work the expo as volunteers from 11-1:30. I enjoyed working the info booth and talking to so many people who I know or follow me on social media!

The expo was at a new location, the Sleep Train Arena, because the convention center is under construction. The expo felt much smaller than normal, which made me miss a few booths I usually see there.

(I was featured in the program as an ambassador!)

Eventually we did a quick lap, got our stuff and picked up some items. We got ponchos because rain was predicted for the race, and I also got some Gu’s because I didn’t want to use chews during my race and headed out to get some pizza for a late lunch.

We checked into our hotel after lunch and enjoyed that it was the closest hotel to the finish. The last two years I have been jealous of people staying at the Hyatt because it’s closer to the finish line than the Sheraton (where I usually stay) so we indulged at the Hyatt!

I laid my clothes out and then we went to the pasta buffet that the hotel had for dinner. It was perfect and low stress! So nice to just walk downstairs, eat as much as we wanted and then go back to our room so we didn’t have to drive around town.

I was specific in my outfit choices because it was going to be humid and lots of rain was predicted. I was nervous.

I promptly tucked myself into bed at 7pm and slept like a newborn all night. It was the best sleep.

Sunday

The alarm went off at 3:30, but then I snoozed for a little while. I threw on some body glide and got dressed.

Then we got on the bus at 5:15. The bus ride took 59 minutes. The bus takes you from the finish to the start. If you think 59 minutes was a long ride… the run was gonna be even longer 😂

I was rushing like crazy at the start. I drank my UCan, two potty breaks and dropped my gear bag just in time for the race to start. I was in the last wave which took I think 8 minutes to go through the start after the first corral, but it all whirled by.

My first few miles were good – I mean really good. I mean, I was like who the hell has inhabited my body good. I had a small hope that based off those times I would PR my marathon time but I knew it was unlikely because I would slow down at the end.

I chose to fuel with one Gu every 40 minutes and it was perfect to keep my energy topped off.

I hit the halfway mark at 3:10:xx and I really expected to hit it at 3:20, so that was awesome.

The sweeper reached me about 14.75 miles in to the race to let me know that things were going to be broken down as he passed them and I might have to move to the sidewalk if streets opened up. He was a really nice guy and told me I was doing great after I joked with him that I needed a compliment from him. Luckily for me no roads opened up after that and the only things broken down when I got to them were mile markers, which was okay since I had my Garmin.

At 17.75 miles though I had the most horrible running experience. I felt a giant squish in my right shoe. I had grown a blister on my pinky toe and it popped during my run 😖 and it was the MOST painful thing ever. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep going but I was fine after a little while. Then it happened on my left foot about 21 miles in. GROSS AND SO PAINFUL.

I slowed down significantly towards the end of the race. It started to rain, my feet were a wreck from the blister debacle and my quads and hips were so sore and tight. I kept moving forward because stopping wasn’t an option. Some rain kicked in near the 21/22 mile mark and that was not easy either, so I briefly put on the poncho I packed but decided it was too warm for it and tossed it.

Eventually I hit the stretch where I knew I was coming in to the finish line and I tried to give more but I was done at that point, so I chose to stay consistent and finish as best I could. Luckily for me that was great and I ran my 2nd fastest marathon today!

Throughout the race I had the urges to text my friends or message them for motivation but I chose only to message two of my friends each two times to give them updates. I wanted to learn to fight with my own mind this time around. Last year I put out a Facebook call to action for friends to send me messages to help get me through but this year I wanted to be the one doing it for myself. I’m really proud of that.

Finishing was so amazing and I was so proud I stuck with it to finish marathon number 5!

It was also Mr. Ftof’s 5th marathon and my friends Mike and Kerri’s first marathon!

The walk back to the hotel was literally the longest walk ever. Thank goodness I stayed at the close hotel 🤪. The hotel staff wouldn’t wheel me to my room on a luggage rack when my friends asked 😂 but gave me hearty congratulations.

Back at the hotel Mr. FtoF got us burgers and fries and that was amazing. That’s my favorite post race meal! I don’t eat much red meat but immediately after a marathon (and my one ultra) a bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries has always been my go to.

Today was amazing and I’m so glad I showed up. Though I’m not ready to 26.2 again anytime soon, I put my name in for the Chicago Marathon lottery ages ago and hope I get picked when they announce on Thursday!

Thanks for all of your love and support through my journey. This was a great day and I’m grateful to all who said hi to me at the expo or on the course, or virtually cheered for me. You guys rock!

Did anyone else run CIM 2019?

Cheers runners!

Vanessa

Monterey Bay Half 2019 recap

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great.

This weekend I got to run the Monterey Bay half marathon. It was my first time running the event and I had an absolute blast!

I was registered to run the race in 2018 but it did not happen. Long story short, the weekend of the race, I was actually registered to run a different race in San Francisco. On Thursday of that weekend I got an email that the race in SF was cancelled due to the Camp Fire in Paradise (nearly 175 miles between the fire and SF but the air quality was so bad the air was thick and grey even that far away). My husband and I were so stir crazy being stuck indoors that we drove to Monterey (3 hours from where we live) and registered at the expo. Unfortunately the air quality turned so poor that same day that four hours after we registered, the race was cancelled. The race company was amazing and gave free deferral entries to anyone interested for 2019, which is how we ended up running it this year.

I had the great privilege to take over the Inspiring Women Runners Instagram for race weekend!

Saturday, November 9th

I asked my husband if we could splurge and drive part way to Monterey Friday night after work, and we were lucky to find an inexpensive hotel which allowed us to do that. 3 hours down on Saturday and 3 hours home on Sunday was going to be too much for me because I didn’t take any time off work for the event. I know my limits and that would have done me in.

Since we were part way to our destination, I invited some friends who live in the area we stayed at to do a shakeout run with me. It was so fun!

After our run I took a quick shower at the hotel and my husband and I stopped for my obligatory pre-race donut at Bun Apétit Donuts. I had the ube one and I loved it so much I might marry it.

Then we were off for a ride to Monterey.

Once we got to Monterey, we went straight to the expo. I got in and out pretty quickly from the expo because even though I’m not doing great at it, I have been trying to be diligent about no spend November (or in my case, just spend less for the love of your bank account, November). We did find the otter though, who I love.

After we picked up our stuff, we got some sandwiches and stopped in at the local Fleet Feet! I love my local Fleet Feet so it is fun to visit other ones.

Then it was time to go to the hotel for jumping on the bed boomerangs and eating spaghetti on the couch.

At the hotel I laid everything out, we ordered some salads, pasta and pizza (the pizza was for after the race because we wouldn’t have time to get food after we finished running because we had to check out of our hotel!). I got my flat runner ready and turned in really early because my alarm was set for 3:40 am. 😴

Sunday, November 10th

Because running a half marathon is not hard enough, my half was four weeks before my upcoming marathon which meant I had to run a total of 18 miles that day. I got to the race early, ran 4.25 miles with some friends, ran the race and then ran the rest of my miles after the race. That meant my run started well before 6:00 am. Talk about DARK AND EARLY!

The race started at 6:50 with the elite runners and went in waves based off your projected finish time. I was in a later wave but not the last one, but since I spent some time running before the race and ended up in the worlds longest bathroom line, I just hopped into the last corral and started with them. Took some pressure off me trying to start the race without a quick restroom break.

The views were amazing. You went through some neighborhoods of Monterey, then Cannery Row, then Pacific Grove and back. In Cannery Row while I was running with my friends, because it is an out and back, we saw the elites coming back. It was so awesome! Those runners are amazing.

The highlight of the race for me though was the tunnel we run through where there’s a DJ blasting beats with some awesome colored up lights in the tunnel and someone in a T-Rex costume giving high fives!

I mean, this is like everything I live for. Dance parties, DJs and Dinos.

The views were stunning along the way, and I saw a live piano player, some other DJs, two bag pipe players and a drumming group. Great on course entertainment! By the way – shout out to races that print your name on your bib. I love hearing people cheer my name while I run!

I felt like I was fading at some points of the course. I wasn’t taking in enough fuel and had to keep reminding myself to take more in. It was hard because I would look at my Garmin and see a certain number of miles and wonder why I was fading, but forgetting I had already run 4.2 before the race. I saved my pre-race run and restarted it when the race began so it wasn’t showing full morning mileage.

Eventually we neared the finish and though it was a beautiful race, I was ready to be done. I was tired. It was a long morning. So I gladly finished the race, rounded out my miles by running circles in the gear check parking lot, and called it a day.

I bid adieu to my friend Kerri who had run all day with me, and headed to the hotel to check out and shower.

Afterwards Mr. FtoF and I headed back to Cannery Row for some lunch and some treats. We split a hot fudge sundae which proved to be too big for even two of us to split. Back in my pre-healthier days I could have easily eaten this whole thing by myself. Glad I have changed my diet.

After some fun and goofing around, we knew it was time to head home since I had to work the next day. But we didn’t leave without a photo on the beach.

This half marathon is definitely my new favorite half. I loved the course, the entertainment, and as someone who plans everything obsessively, I greatly appreciated how well thought out every logistic for this race was.

I will definitely be back again for the Monterey Half soon! Have you ever run this race? What’s your favorite race you have ever run?

Cheers runners!

Vanessa

Santa Rosa half recap

I have participated in The Santa Rosa Marathon every year for the last five years. When the race is so close to home, how could you not participate in it? My first year, 2015, I did the 5k (before they split it up to the day before the longer races), then in 2016 I did the marathon as my first marathon. Both years were when the course began and ended in Juilliard Park. In 2017 I did the half, last year I did the marathon and this year I did the half, and now the race begins and ends in Courthouse Square just up the street from where it used to start. I knew what to expect going into this race having run it multiple times.

To be honest, I was kind of dreading the race the two weeks leading up to it. I had been working really long days at my job and we had a weird heat wave so I was hardly running because even running in the gym at 5:00 am was hot. Ever since my 50k back in the first weekend of July, I have had something on my calendar every weekend such as a race, wedding, friends in town or a group run out of town, and by the time this weekend rolled around it was the 8th weekend I had a commitment. Toss into that that in July was when I received news about my sister’s recent cancer diagnosis, and a few days later a car accident where someone rear ended me and then I rear ended the person in front of me. I dealt with that for weeks and we are still dealing with it! Before the race I was struggling to find energy and motivation. I slept 10-11 hours multiple nights the week of the race because I think everything caught up to me. But I also knew it was an idiotic move to pass on a race I already paid for and was down the road from me, so I was gonna do it. That wasn’t a question at all. My focus is CIM right now and since I don’t really have any other focuses related to racing or time, I was happy to take it easy this weekend.

Friday

I picked up my packet Friday night after work so I could be on my own schedule for Saturday. It was crazy! There were so many people there because you had to get your bib for the 5k/10k that day. I ran into some people I knew and had a great time at Sports Basement. Then I went to pizza with Mr. FtoF, which was funny because when I later looked at my Facebook memories it said I had eaten the exact same meal at the same pizza place one year before!

Saturday

I woke up early and got in a little shakeout run. I got in two easy miles.

I saw some goats along the way. I love the goats!

Then I went downtown to cheer for friends running the 5k/10k. I stopped to get a donut for me and Mr. FtoF because I always get a donut from this one donut shop in town the day before a big race, and after that went home and lounged.

That evening, after I had spent all day on my butt doing nothing, I had friends in town the night before the race and so we enjoyed a lovely dinner together. I have been eating lots of bento boxes as my pre-race dinner. I’ve been stomaching them well.

I tucked myself in nice and early, around 9:30 and was soooooo glad I didn’t have to wake up too early!

Sleeping in that late is awesome.

Sunday

I got up around 5:15, took a pre-race shower, got ready and drank my UCan. My husband dropped me off at the start so I didn’t have to deal with parking. I got to the race start around 6:10 just in time to visit with Coach Patrick who was there being a rockstar running coach and cheering for people, and for me to cheer for the marathon runners who were starting! I had a coworker who was running her first marathon (and by the way, she crushed it coming in sub-3!!!) so I saw her and I saw some other friends running the marathon too, gave them a cheer and then after the marathon started, went to the restroom and looked for other friends running the half.

My friend Kerri (who I had dinner the night before) told me at dinner she wasn’t going to run for time like she originally planned so we decided to run the half together (which we also just ran San Francisco together!). I knew that would make today more fun to have someone to talk with! I charged my headphones because I didn’t know if she would want to run with me but luckily didn’t need them! I didn’t have a bag to check though, so I just wore them.

I found her, and for a while we chatted with other friends we found and eventually we were off at 7:15.

Now, today’s race was pretty uneventful. I wasn’t running for any goal except to have fun, so I felt no pressure to perform any particular way. Kerri and I ran and ran and talked about all kinds of great things in our lives. The miles went by pretty fast as a result. Since I know the trail the course goes on like the back of my hand, the race felt easy to break into small chunks because I knew what to expect and how many miles each leg of the trail was. There were some cows out which was the best.

I saw a coworker of mine coming back on the return from the half. He was crushing it with the pace group he stuck with and it was great to see someone I knew crushing their time goal! There’s nothing I love more than cheering for other people who are achieving great personal goals!

Kerri and I made our way to the finish a little over 3 hours after we started. Was good to finish because it was so hot. I am a salty sweater in general but with today’s temperatures it was worse than normal and my face and my arms were caked in salt. It was gross. I was glad to be done and cooling off. A few weeks ago when I ran San Francisco 2nd half I overheated so badly I ended up going to the medical tent for ice and I felt like I was going to throw up. Today was hot but I am glad I didn’t have that same experience. Today was my 19th lifetime half!

Last year, because I ran the marathon, I did not participate in any of the post race festivities. I was tired and wanted to just go home right away, so I didn’t even get my free race pancakes! This year however…

And the race also has a beer tasting festival in the finishers area. Normally that’s not something I do, since I really rarely drink, but I really wanted to let loose a little so had a few samples. Eventually I found myself with a group of other runners doing the Cha Cha Slide and my drink! It was fun!

Eventually I headed home and was ready to shower since I felt like a salt block but I would have enjoyed staying longer if I had a change of shoes and if my husband was able to enjoy the beer festival with me.

The race was great, but I also want to confess that the last two months will all the stressors I’ve had have come with some extra pounds and I can feel them. I wasn’t exactly all that skinny to begin with, but carrying these extra pounds is really uncomfortable. While I had a nice race and a great time, I really need to figure out what my mental struggle is right now and what I can do to be successful. Today reminded me of that. I need to really focus on going from fat to fit!

Aside from that though, it was blast this weekend. I don’t have a race until October 6th and I don’t have anything on my personal life calendar until then either. Thank goodness! I’m looking forward to some fun runs and calm times again. But I’m so happy to have done today’s race and will be back next year! Do I keep the every other year marathon vs half pattern though? That’s the big question… 😏

Cheers friends!

Vanessa

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!