When you set a goal, an actual goal, and are scared.

Hi! How are you? Me I’m great. I’ve been really busy lately and blogging and running haven’t been priority. I’m glad to have my schedule calm down because I’ve finished rehearsals for my musical!

As you all know, I love setting goals. It’s been a while since I’ve set one, but the last few goals I’ve set have been pretty easy and tangible as far as goals go. They haven’t really felt like goals, so much as they’ve felt like things I wanted to do, disguised as goals.

I finally decided after my musical was over that it was time to set a goal, a big one, but one different than my usual goals. So I’ve set a goal that’s always been an overall goal, but I’ve finally put a time and date on it. I’ve been scared to put it into words, but it’s time.

Goal: I am going to PR my half marathon time at the Eugene Marathon on April 28, 2019

I was chosen as a Eugene Marathon EMbassador for 2019 and originally planned to do the marathon at the event but after milling on it run after run my heart wasn’t into the idea of the marathon. I love the marathon distance and will I’ve done two in 2018 after CIM this December, but my mind was intrigued with the idea of finally breaking the number that’s been haunting me since May 2016, 2:26:01, a race pace of 11:08 per mile. I PRed at the Windsor Green half marathon.

Now, my marathon time is far, far from that right now with what I’m fairly sure my only factor being my weight. I’ve remained active and consistent in my activity for the last few years, but have gained 40+ pounds since I PRed my half marathon time. That being said, I still need a plan to get me to race day.

  1. I told Coach Patrick. That was the first step of making my goal a reality. I actually stopped in the middle of my run to text him and tell him because I needed to get it off my chest and I wanted someone to know. He thought it was great and he agreed.
  2. I have come to terms with the fact that I need to address my weight, but specifically my diet. I have taken steps to start working with someone on a one to one basis for my eating routines. I know what I was eating before when I was less isn’t the same things I am and should be eating now. This is going to be the biggest hurdle for me.
  3. I chose a race that I knew this was a reality at. I know the course since I ran t last year (though it’s changing a bit), and I set it far enough out that I can really work towards this goal without feeling like it’s just a hope that it might happen.
  4. I am adding some diversity to my routine. Now that I strength train more, it will make me a better runner, and I’ve also dabbled in Trail running which I think is making me mentally and physically stronger.
  5. I am not setting a time goal specifically. I just know I need to beat a certain time, but rather than saying I need to run 2:26:00, I am leaving it open ended. I could PR by one second, or I could work hard and PR by minutes. I know I’m strong and have a lot in me if I have faith and believe in myself.
  6. I am taking steps to think about it now, so when it becomes time to work towards it, I’m in the right mindset.

If I’m being honest, I know this is a good goal because it excites me and also terrifies me. I have to put in a lot of work, but it is work that will feel good and I look forward to.

If you tell someone your goal, it makes it more real. So here I am, telling all of you, I am going to PR my half marathon time at the Eugene Marathon, 2019!

(If you want to participate in the Eugene Marathon, use coupon code VANESSAEM19 for a discount on the marathon or half!)

Cheers to goals,

Vanessa

Run a trail half marathon, they said. It will be fun, they said. (Trail Hog recap)

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. Yesterday I finished my 15th half marathon, my first trail half. Holy smokes it was a doozy. I was originally signed up for the 10k because the event had a Harry Potter theme to it and after hearing my friends were doing the half, they convinced me to upgrade so I did. I hadn’t run a trail half before and it was highly ambitious to start with this one, but I tend to live on the edge! Here’s a recap!

Friday, September 21

The race was over 2.5 hours away from where I live and since the race was on a Saturday, it made it tricky to get down there that night before because of Friday night traffic. Luckily my friend who lives about 1 hour and 15 minutes from me said I could stay at her house because she was also running. My other friend was staying at her house too. I jet out of my job at 4pm in the nose to run home, finish packing and made it to her house around six… just in time for a quick visit to the beach for the sunset.

After that we went to a local restaurant for some delicious pasta, and then laid out our flat runners. Clearly I wasn’t running for time since I was planning to wear a necktie. Picking out my outfit was tricky. I wanted to wear shorts and a tank because of the exposure the park that the race was at had, but my tank options were limited and when I pulled a green tank out decided I could not wear that because people would think I was a Slytherin, and as a die hard Gryffindor that was unacceptable. Luckily I found the black one and my tie.

Then bed time came because we had to leave the house before 5 am to pick up our other friend and get to the race!

Saturday, September 22

We left bright and early with crusty eyes and sleepy yawns. We picked up our friend and drove to the race, and picked up our bibs. I bought a new hat to wear because I really wanted a Brazen Racing hat, so I got that too and wore it for the race. I put it on and Melissa and I had a laugh because I forgot to take the cardboard out of it 🤣. No wonder my head felt so stiff.

We did the Hiker start, which for Brazen events means you start the half marathon before everyone else starts to give you extra time. I like this because it takes the pressure off starting with lots of fast people. After a slew of pre-race selfies and race briefing, we were off at 7:30 and we had the shark, Bruce, that travels to different events with my running group.

The race course is super exposed. I did not love that, and next time I do a trail race will look for a covered course… maybe one near the Coast. But the views were nice and we took lots of pictures.

But it was HOT. Last year they said the event was 109 degrees as the high that day. Ummm no thanks. I’ll take my 75ish but even that was toasty.

The first few miles you climbed up this hil that nearly killed me. I thought I was going to die right then and there. I am glad I printed a copy of the course map so I could see the elevation profile and knew when the climbing was coming. At the top of the climb, around mile 2.2, we were greeted by an aid station, where I ate two potato chips and a cup of ice water and we kept going.

We were walking the uphills and running the down and flats which was a good way to tackle things. Around mile 3 we started seeing the fast half marathon runners pass us. The half started 30 minutes after the hiker start. They were very kind and I really like the energy of trail runners. We had lots of laughs along the way.

Around mile 4.2 we hit the second aid station. Sweet relief. More cold ice water and chips and off I went. I was taking in Skratch chews every 45 minutes.

As we looped around I heard someone saying something and I thought they were telling me to move, which confused me since the trail was wide, but then I turned around and saw Tony (Endorphin Dude) and he asked if I had seen cows since he knows my love of them. Sadly, no cows, and he sped off because he was aiming for a big time goal!

At about mile six you saw an area near where we started but you passed it and started a new loop of a different area. Now, we were heading out and someone told me they had to pop off and go to the bathroom. There were no bathrooms on this course and I was stressed out over that after reading pre-race instructions so I bought baby wipes and stuck them in my pack and was glad someone else had to use them and not me! After a few friend giggles about whether a branch had poked her in the butt or not, we were back out.

You had to hit the third aid station at mile 7.5 by 10:30 am and we hit it around 9:30 which was great! I felt good to be on track. I was worried. At that aid station I had some electrolytes, a few chips and peanut m&m’s (hey, I don’t know that they helped my running but if I was gonna do a trail half I needed to participate fully, right?) and swig of Coke. The sugar felt good. Off we went.

Now, at some point after this we started a treacherous climb which nearly broke me. At this point two of my friends broke off from me and my other friend. The climb up was painful and hot and I struggled. Going down felt good after that but from then on my running became solely walking. My feet were achey.

After getting through that climb, we were off again and realized that we were some of the last people out on the course. That’s okay because we were “doing it” we kept reminding ourselves. It was me and my friend Ria’s first trail half so we stuck through it. I swallowed a bug at mile 10.5ish and chugged the rest of my water trying to get it out. It was nasty. I knew there was an aid station at mile 11.15 so I was okay without water for a bit and Ria gave me a sip of hers until we got there.

Finally we saw the glorious aid station and I refilled my pack with ice water and had a few more snacks. I underestimated how long it would take me to finish so I had run out of chews. Thankfully I had some chips and it helped. We were off.

The last two miles were a blur but at this point we had gotten back on the section of the course so we were remembering the path and thinking about where we were and what had happened on that stretch earlier in the day. We saw a volunteer who told us we were .75 miles from the finish (YAY!) even though our watches said we were at 12.8, so the course was long (which we knew but dreaded in that moment).

Finally we saw the magical arches of the finish line and we had a song cued up to play as we crossed but “you make my dreams come true” by Hall & Oates came on so we rocked out to that.

And I was DFL and couldn’t have been happier.

I felt bad that I had taken so long to finish and that the crew was waiting but I think I was still within my time limit and I felt overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone who cheered for us for completing our first trail half. This elevation was no freaking joke. I could feel how the work I’ve done at Santa Rosa Strength & Conditioning helped my hips and my ankles feel strong for this event. Even though my feet were sore from being on them, I didn’t feel pain and felt strong. Trail runners really are a different energy than road runners. I felt so accepted in the community yesterday.

After visiting with lots of people it was time to get food cause we were ready! I didn’t have much appetite, oddly enough, so I didn’t finish my meal but it was good. Chocolate milk, eggs benedict and potatoes. And chocolate milk. (The pancakes weren’t mine but they look good!)

I boxed half my meal up and we started the drive back to drop my friend off and then get back to our other friend’s house. We showered and visited a little bit and headed home. By this time I had sat in the car for a while and found my appetite again. I stopped for a burrito but then got stuck in standstill traffic. Don’t judge, I was starving.

And I finally got home for a soak.

I felt dehydrated even though I was trying to drink water through the day, so I drank a whole slew and tucked myself in nice and early.

Will I do it again?

Yes, absolutely yes. Not any time real soon because my focus is on CIM, but I think I may do a 10k sometime soon, and then shoot for more trails in 2019. I had been considering a 50k next year to celebrate 31 miles because I’m turning 31, and I think this solidified that desire. I would like to drop weight to have an easier time out there but it isn’t a deal breaker for doing another trail half! I would like to do one in a shadier area though, not so exposed. Will feel better that way.

Until next time, Trail hogs!

-Vanessa

On ambition.

Earlier this year I experienced an incident in my personal life (outside of running, working, activity, blogging etc.) that was one of those moments in your life you could either rise from, or allow yourself to breakdown from. It was a hearty moment, and one I hope I never go through again. I will leave my statement at that, though vague, it is important for the sake of this post.

It was a challenge, (nothing affecting my safety or health, just a personal challenge to work through) that has stuck with me and sat heavily with me for a few weeks, and still I ruminate on it at times.

But I decided that this moment in time was a snapshot in my life reminding me to rise up and live my life more than I already had, and I took it to mean one thing. You need to open yourself up to more things in life, and say yes more than you say no.

Someone recently told me my drive was amazing. Others have told me that I am brave and courageous. And while I thank them for that, it didn’t come from nowhere and my drive and ambition have come from a little life lesson reminding me to just say yes and give things my best effort.

I remind myself regularly to say yes. To lean in to things that scare me, to face things that I fear by breaking down my fears and attacking them with bravery. To give in to things I would have likely otherwise said no to, and to dive in with a whole heart.

In that time I’ve gone to auditions I would have said no to. I’ve collaborated with more race events than I could think possible. I’ve applied for things I would have let go of. I’ve had volunteer opportunities I’ve loved. I say yes to new adventures, to trying new things and to opening my mind.

On being ambitious: while I am normally an adventurer, it doesn’t always come easily. If you’re looking to open yourself up to possibility and strength, sometimes you’ve got to look into what’s holding you back before you can move forward. Sometimes a strong self reflection can do you wonders. Sometimes when you let yourself work through the things that are hard, you’ll find something magical in the proverbial rainbow after the rainstorm.

Cheers to ambition. ❤️

-Vanessa

Santa Rosa Marathon recap!

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m so great! I can’t believe I finished the marathon! It was a challenge and did not go quite as I expected, but I did really well despite obstacles. More on that in this post.

Leading up to race day

I shared a lot about it but two weeks before the race I got sick. Like, really sick. Like, go the doctor and “give it to me straight doc, am I going to be able to recover and run a marathon in two weeks?” sick. Obviously, the answer was yes as long as I continued to improve, but an entire missed week of activity including a 15 mile long run really threw me off. Other than that snafu, my training was so good all summer and I had no idea what I could do on race day.

Race week

I ate a lot of carbs the week before the race. Like, an “I’m over this” amount of carbs. But parts of it were fun while they lasted. 🤤

Oh yeah and I ran a little. Very little. I got a massage too 😉

I would have liked to have run more the week of the race but I had an offsite work meeting as well as an opportunity to meet with my friends from my old job through the week and decided to just do what I could and quit beating myself up. It’s hard for me to remember that tapering isn’t like cramming for a test. It is about giving your body time to rest from the work you put in.

On Friday after work I picked up my bib and had dinner with Mr. Ftof. He works Saturdays DJing weddings so it was good to go to Sports basement together and get my stuff. They were offering a discount to runners if you showed your bib, so we made a dent in our bank accounts. Then he bought me an ice cream cone because he’s the best.

Saturday morning I ran a few miles, ate pancakes with Mr. ftof and then headed back to the expo. I had offered to work the California International Marathon booth at the expo because I had so much fun doing it last year! I’m not an ambassador again this year (I’ll be running though!) but I really like working expos and events like that. It’s fun to talk to other runners.

I had a late lunch with a friend, did laundry, laid out my clothes, did my fancy nails and got in bed around seven and read Deena Kastor’s book for a while before going to bed. 4:30 was gonna come early.

Race Day

4:30 came and I hit snooze but eventually rolled out of bed. After a quick shower, I got dressed, grabbed my hydration pack (which I had filled the day before with water and fuel), ate a clif bar and left the house. I know many people talk about the value of what you eat race morning and let me tell you- I just can’t stomach anything. I’ve tried. I have been lucky so far to fuel up enough the day before that a clif bar is enough because I still have so much food in my tank. One day that may not be the case but it’s been ok so far.

My husband dropped me off at the start area around 5:30. The race started at 6:30, so it gave me time to use the bathroom (3 times), and write on my arm. These little messages during races have helped me a lot this year. I found a sharpie at bag check and the lady let me use it.

Race day weather was perfect. The forecast said about 50’s to start and 71ish around that time I expected to finish. Last year (I ran the half) I think it got to the 90’s or maybe even the 100’s and the year before (when I ran the marathon), was hot too. We were lucky this year.

At 6:20 I went over to the start area and we were off right around 6:30. I was in corral 3 but they started all corrals at the same time.

The announcer said there were 1,300 runners. There definitely were not. There may have been that many registered but that many did not come out.

The first few miles I was keeping pace with a nice man who told me it was his 115th marathon. He said he used to run them but after back surgery he walks them now but still loves them. He asked if it was my first marathon and I said it wasn’t, and we compared notes on some races. Eventually he broke off from me but it was really nice to talk to someone.

At one point this group of people whizzed by me. Apparently they showed up at 6:50 to the race start and the timing people let them start, so they ran by real fast. I was wondering where the heck they had come from!

Around mile 7-8 (don’t recall exactly), the marathon was going west and the half marathon runners were coming east. It was so cool to see that many fast runners in action but what was even cooler was how many of them high fived me and cheered me on. I’m not particularly sensitive to my slower pace, though sometimes I do find that moment of intimidation when I see others who are just so fast. It was really a heart warming few miles for me. At one point a man called me out by name but there were so many people I couldn’t tell who it was. (If that was you, thanks!). On that path I saw the first place marathon runner with the lead bike. He was already over 20 miles in. I couldn’t even imagine running that fast!

Once you hit about mile 8, you get off the trail where my cows are and hit the road. There, I saw more marathon runners coming in. Such a treat to see those fast runners! Many looked very serious but some high fived and cheered me on. Makes me feel like I’m part of the community when that happens.

As I hit an intersection, I saw a family friend of mine from my young days and high school who was on patrol duty who I didn’t know would be working. It was cool to see someone I knew out there!

Around mile 10 I made it into DeLoach Vineyards. This is one of my favorite parts of the race because you run through the barrel room. I took one of my favorite race day photos with the race photographer there the first time I ran the marathon and tried to recreate it. I hope it turns out. As I ran past he told me “you have the best smile of the day!”, which was one of my favorite boosts I got during the race.

As you head out of the winery they offer you Chardonnay. No thanks! I had a long morning ahead of me 🤣.

Miles 10-14 were a bit of a blur with the exception of hitting the 13.1 mile mark and realizing I still had another 13.1 to go.

Around mile 14 my feet really started to hurt. Like, hurt to the point of me panicking and thinking I had a stress fracture. After getting out of my own head I realized I likely had really bad blisters. I stopped at the medic tent around mile 15 and they gave me some bandaids which helped immensely. From there I took off and felt okay for a while.

Around mile 19 I could feel I needed to stop again. I stopped at the medic tent at the aid station and added some Vaseline to my feet. The bandaids had come off. That helped for a while, until I hit about like 21 and stopped again for new bandaids.

Between that time I hit mile 20, which was magical.

In a delirium I saw a person sitting with a sign for someone. I didn’t make eye contact because I felt awkward… until I realized it was my husband!!! He made the best sign. I cried, gave him a smooch and didn’t linger because I had miles to run.

I was losing the steam to keep my run walk intervals but I knew if I did I would finish faster so I tried to push through the struggle. I was slower but it was good to keep routine.

I was struggling at mile 23. I was ready to be done but I knew giving up was not an option. At like 24 I saw a photographer and thought “who puts a photographer here!!!!” Then, a magical moment happened when I least expected it.

Mile 25!!!!!! I was almost done!

So I pushed and pushed and pushed and finally I hit about mile 26 I hit downtown. And as I rounded the corner I saw them taking down the street closures and panicked. I shouted to the volunteer I WANT TO FINISH NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. HOW DO I GET TO THE FINISH???? After receiving guidance and being told the finish was still open as long as I stayed on the sidewalk, my fire was lit and I had to finish.

On the journey to the finish line I saw someone who had finished who was cheering so loudly for me and pointing me in the right direction. As I turned left onto 4th Street I saw the finish line. Everyone who was spectating was gone, the crowd was sparse but I was determined. And as I neared the finish line it took everything in me not to choke and start crying then, but I had to hold it together until I was finished. As I approached the finish line, the announcer said my name, saying I was a Blogger and runner extraordinaire and that Coach Patrick had sent me a good job 😊. And as soon as I crossed the finish line the photographer took a photo, I stopped my watch and I cried to her. And then I got my medal, and cried some more. And many marathon runners who were still there who said such nice things to me. It was a surge of pride that was well earned and well deserved.

The race results gave me a finish time of 6:45, however I stopped my Garmin at the three medical tents I stopped at and it said my moving time was 6:34! That was a seven minute improvement over CIM (6:41). If I hadn’t had such issues with my feet I would have been interested to see what really would have happened. I think my feet were messed up because I got a pedicure too close to race day so my feet weren’t callused, and I had a new pair of socks on. That combo did not end well.

Unfortunately because I took so long to finish, I didn’t get free pancakes, but it was okay because Mr. ftof got me In N Out Burger 🍔

Which I ate in about seven bites.

Overall, I would have liked to have seen a better finish time because I was capable of it, but that’s the way races go. I’m fired up and proud and ready to crush some training runs for CIM, after today’s experience. Cheers to 26.2 number three!

When you’re afraid to succeed.

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. Been thinking about this for a while.

Success.

What you input during training is what you will output during race day.

I trained so poorly for my last marathon. I could give you a list of reasons, which also double as a list of excuses. When I toed up to the starting line I knew my goal was to finish and that’s all I wanted. My time was disappointing, my performance was mediocre, but it’s exactly what I knew it would be because that’s the kind of work that I had put in. A mediocre amount.

I have worked really hard this time around. I have trained really hard, focused, dialed it in. It makes me scared to think that I have no idea what to expect on race day. What if I still have a mediocre performance? What if I excel beyond belief? I don’t know what will happen. I’m anxious about what will happen.

I have to trust that everything will be better than I can even dream it to be.

Cheers to 2 weeks til marathon day!

-Vanessa

SR Marathon Training Recap: July 2018

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I can’t believe my 2nd month of marathon training is done.

It’s been another good month of running. I struggled a little more than I did in June but still came out strong! Here’s a recap.

Week 6

    Sunday, July 1: rest day. NAILED IT!
    Monday, July 2: strength training
    Tuesday, July 3: speed drills. Track work. My legs were DEAD that day!
    Wednesday, July 4: 4 mile easy run for 4th of July! The strength training gym was closed for the holiday so I ran instead.
    Thursday, July 5: 6 mile run with two middle miles at half marathon pace. I made my pace goals, which felt good.
    Friday, July 6: 2 easy miles before my race the next day
    Saturday, July 7: Dirty Dozen 6 hour endurance race. I did 20 miles with my friend Melissa! Was scheduled for 17 but coach Patrick said I could do up to 20

Week 7

    Sunday, July 8: rest day. Highly necessary after 20 miles
    Monday, July 9: strength training
    Tuesday, July 10: 60 minutes easy run. 4.32 miles total
    Wednesday, July 11: strength training. I and ran 2 miles after work because my head was going to explode after work that day and I needed some outdoors time.
    Thursday, July 12: 6 miles with two middle ones at race pace were on the calendar. I had to run before work because I had a family dinner that evening and so I only had time for five but was really surprised my legs were in good shape. I hit my paces.
    Friday, July 13: 3 easy miles were on the calendar but I needed an extra rest day so I took it
    Saturday, July 14: I had 18 miles on my training plan and drove an hour and a half to run with some friends. Well, I got lost! My plan was to do two miles before everyone arrived and since I didn’t get there early, I just did 16 with the group and called it a day.

Week 8

    Sunday, July 15: rest day. I’m really good at these.
    Monday, July 16: strength training. I also had the day off work and went for a 3.6 mile walk with a friend. I also got a pedicure because my feet needed some pampering.
    Tuesday, July 17: hill repeats. I love hill repeats!!!!!!
    Wednesday, July 18: strength training
    Thursday, July 19: 6 mile run with three middle miles at half marathon pace was my assignment. I did not make any pace goals but got the distance in.
    Friday, July 20: 3 easy miles were on the schedule but I took a rest day since my Thursday run was so hard on my legs.
    Saturday, July 21: training plan had 12 mile long run, and was the start of a taper before my half. I got a few miles in and had my marathon training meltdown (first one of the season!!!!), and called it quits at ten. That was a hard decision to make because it was JUST TWO MILES and I felt guilty, but I knew I wanted to have a good race the next weekend and now was not the time for mental or physical burn out.

Week 9

    Sunday, July 22: rest day.
    Monday, July 23: strength training
    Tuesday, July 24: went for an easy run and did 4.11 miles
    Wednesday, July 25: strength training. I died a little during burpees and wallballs.
    Thursday, July 26: 5 mile easy run was on the calendar. Did 4.8. Taper for the race was in effect.
    Friday, July 27: rest day to prepare for race
    Saturday, July 28: 2 easy shakeout Miles on calendar. Went to the official San Francisco Marathon shakeout and got lost so my friends and I did 2.4 miles!

Week 10

    Sunday, July 29: The San Francisco Marathon, first half marathon. Hardest 13.1 I’ve ever run. Also one of the most fun though! Finished in 3:02
    Monday, July 30: rest day. Definitely needed it. The hills in the race killed me.
    Tuesday, July 31: 4 recovery miles on the calendar. Didn’t quite make it to four. My legs were tired still.

Recap

  • July miles: 110
  • June/ July Total miles toward marathon training: 222
  • August Goals
    • Keep consistent with activity. Slow miles are better than no miles
      Roll out more. My legs and feet need it.
      Hydrate like crazy
      Trust the taper
      Run a freaking marathon!

    Cheers to another month of running!

    -Vanessa

    The SF Marathon 1st half recap

    Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great.

    I can’t believe I can say I’m now a 13 time half marathon finisher. Isn’t that like a golden celebration, like when you turn the age of your date of birth?

    Last year I signed up for the 2nd half marathon at The SF Marathon (you can do the first half or second half as a 13.1) the day I left my job. I didn’t really know anything about the event but I needed something to lift my spirits.

    I knew last year after I ran that event that I would have to do the first half of the course this year because I’m a planner like that 😊. So naturally I signed up ages ago. I never actually got a confirmation email so when I went to the expo to get my stuff, I prayed I was actually registered (they told me over Facebook chat I was but none of their emails came through. So weird). I signed up for this event ages before I was even considering running a marathon at the end of the Summer but fortunately the timing worked out well.

    Anyhow, there were some changes to the event after I registered. The first half marathon was supposed to go over the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a long story, but about 4 weeks before the event it was announced that that would not be happening due to permitting issues. I was bummed but it was what it was and I still wanted to run.

    Another item which wasn’t a change but I didn’t learn til just days before the race is that they don’t allow backpacks with bladders on course. I’ve been using my trusty camelbak for ages so that freaked me out. Luckily I found my old handheld and it worked for getting it done.

    Coach Patrick and I had decided it would be best to run this all out for a baseline for my upcoming 26.2. I know these events are super different since Santa Rosa is flat and this was not, but I needed some kind of assessment to push myself and feel more grounded for what I can manage on race day.

    So, to recap!

    Saturday, July 28

    The event hosts a shakeout run at the expo Saturday morning. I drove down really early and met up with my gal pals and we did the shakeout run and attended the expo together. It was a blast, despite us being slower pace because my friends are awesome at ran at my pace with me, so we lost the group and made up our own shakeout run course.

    Because the event didn’t allow backpacks, I didn’t have anywhere to put my phone so I bought a SPIbelt at the expo. Nothing else really peeked my interest but we did enjoy lots of photos and giggles.

    I had brunch AND lunch with my fabulous friends before going to my sister’s and brother in law’s house to have dinner and spend the night. They always spoil me when it’s a race weekend and make me the most delicious meals. 🤤

    My dad also supported my night before a race carbs and brought a pie over for dinner 🤣

    After lots of eating and lots of family time I fell asleep around 9:30 because the alarm was set for 4:40. Clothes were laid out and ready to go.

    Sunday, July 29

    Clearly the source of my good luck was this awesome drawing my four year old nephew taped on the door for me.

    My brother in law gave me a ride to the start which was so generous and great. Dealing with parking down there is a nightmare. I got there as the last few waves of marathon runners was starting, and they announced the first place marathon lead was running a 5:12 pace and was about 10k in at that point 😮😮😮.

    My wave was the last wave so we started about 6:50. Off we went.

    I had a plan in place for running the event. I told myself to shoot for the first six miles around 1:22-1:24 pace and the run mile 7 and then get the last six miles a little faster than the first six. I knew that was ambitious given that all the hills were in the back half.

    My first mile split was pretty solid but I freaked myself out that I wasn’t settling into a groove well. I needed a sign and I got one. My husband and I had our first date at the aquarium on Pier 39, and right as I ran past it “Can’t Stop the Feeling” came on (which was my theme during my first marathon training in 2016) and lasted up until I ran past the restaurant we had dinner at on Fisherman’s Wharf the day be proposed to me. Okay running gods, touché.

    As we got into Crissy Field the wind was head on and it was strong. I was not expecting that. It was a beast to run through, and definitely made me make some decisions about how I tackled those miles because I knew I had to save myself for the hills. I stayed even and kept my head down and just barreled through it without trying to push too hard, but it definitely wore me down.

    Finally by the time I got to mile 6 some climbing began, with a huge climb at mile 7. I knew I was gonna lose time on the ups so I made up for it on the downhills. It was the only way I could even attempt maintaining a speed.

    It was a bummer running with my handheld because I lost time at the aid stations. My backpack can carry 50 ounces and my handheld about 16, and with the amount of fluids I lost running those hills and sweating I knew I had to stop a lot. I stopped at almost every aid station, which really killed me.

    After the one big initial climb of a hill going up to the bridge area, the rest of the hills felt a little less daunting. I’m glad I’ve been doing lots of hill running lately. At one point I laughed to myself and thought “a half marathon is basically two Thursday tempo run days since I do like six miles those days”. It really put it into perspective for me.

    It was hard to recover after that wind but I knew I had to keep going. I was eating Skratch Labs chews every 45 minutes and taking in Nuun at the aid stations which helped.

    I kept a pair of gloves on until mile 6.5. I could have tossed them sooner but wanted to keep them on until after I got out from near the ocean. Glad I kept them on that long. Helped keep me warm without adding an extra layer.

    Around mile 9 when I was in golden gate park, my watch flashed a LOW BATTERY signal. Now, I didn’t charge my Garmin the night before because I thought I would be ok and I prayed to the running gods that my battery would last (luckily it did). I laughed because my friend Melissa and I ran at the shakeout run the day before and her watch died and it died when we ran Dirty Dozen, so in my head I thought “quit trying to be like Melissa’s watch and knock it off” 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Honestly miles 9-the end are kind of a blur. I was determined to run the hills which I did. A lot of people slowed down to walk them but I powered up them like a champ. That’s a good feeling.

    Things I kind of remember while running:

      If you honk at the course monitors because you’re annoyed the road is blocked off, they’ll just smile at you and dance to ignore you and high five the runners
      I saw some people doing tai chi in golden gate park
      I remember being so tired and one point towards the end and saw some half marathoners walking and holding hands on the course and thought to myself “WHY ARE YOU SO HAPPY WE ARE ALL SWEATING TO DEATH OUT HERE”
      I was glad I decided to run in shorts and a tank even though it was cool temps.
      At one point I was trying to do math about how long it would take me to finish. To hard to run and do math at the same time. Stick to one.
      I really thought I was gonna come in under 3 hours but missed it by a hair.
      I knew the course was going to be long because around mile 5 my watch was not in sync with the mile markers and stayed that way.

    Getting to the finish line was amazing. I also felt a little disoriented since I had run so hard. That hasn’t happened in a while. The course was long (13.2) and I got a second medal for running both half marathons back to back.

    My sister came and picked me up which was awesome. She also brought me a chocolate and a ham and cheese crossaint and some Gatorade. I ate both crossaints. Don’t judge 🤣

    I ran negative splits by ten seconds (ILL TAKE IT!) which is a good feeling because my watch said I had 700 feet elevation gain….

    I’m sore and I’m tired but I’m feeling good. Proud. 26.2 at The SF Marathon next year? We’ll see….

    Cheers squad!

    -Vanessa

    Dirty Dozen recap

    Hello! How are you? Me, I’m great. Excited to share my recap of the Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen!

    If I wasn’t training for a marathon I don’t know that I would have been compelled to sign up for this, but since I take my long runs on Saturday this fell perfectly into my schedule and I got a free race entry for volunteering at a race in June!

    The premise of the event is that you can either do 6 hours or 12 hours. The course is a 3.37 mile loop and at the start area there is a camp area you can set up camp at to change, rest, refill water etc. At the final hour (5th and 11th hours) they open a little loop which is about a half mile you can complete to get more miles in. If you aren’t back at the finish line when your event ends, whatever loop you were in does not get credited to your total mileage. They also have a 5k/10k in the morning and another in the evening you can run in addition to your 6/12 hour event or just on their own. Capiche?

    I was signed up for the 6 hour event. I had to do at least 17 miles per my training plan. I went to Fleet Feet two days before the event and asked Coach Patrick if I was feeling ok if I could do more. He said yes, but no more than 20 (don’t worry, wasn’t a concern!). Deal.

    My husband was doing the event too but was more excited about what food they were serving than how many miles he was gonna run 😂

    Pre-Race

    We rented a canopy from Sports Basement and had a cooler and a wagon full of stuff to set up our camp area. Hauling it up to the race was not fun.

    Many of my friends were running the event so we set up camp next to them. We picked up our bibs and I was less than thrilled to see my number 😑

    7:00 am and we were off, but not without a FtoF selfie 😍

    Time to run!

    My friend Melissa was there too doing the 12 hour, and she has been a great friend through my marathon training. She is training for a marathon the week after mine so we have been bonding daily over how our training is going. It’s neat to share this experience with someone. When I was lined up for the event to start, she was walking over and found me and we started running together. At first it was a rather hearty crowd of people, but since I was doing run/walk intervals, I seeded myself towards the back and eventually the crowd thinned out. It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and since I had never run the event before I was taking in the course. Melissa had done it before so she knew what to expect, which was good since I wasn’t really paying attention 😂

    To sum it up, the course is hard packed dirt (anyone who is a roadrunner and considering this event, you’d be just fine), and there are a few small climbs (that get bigger as the day goes on 🤔), and one small section of single track trail. The views are beautiful.

    I was really excited when Melissa said “look it’s Tony!” who runs the page “I am Endorphin Dude”. I love his page and have wanted to meet him for ages so it was great that he ran up to us and took a selfie!

    About 1.5ish? miles in there was an aid station. We took a quick bathroom break and then enjoyed some of nature’s best food in the universe!

    We continued on through the first loop and when we finished, stopped at the aid station at the finish area, and decided not to stop at our camp site and kept going.

    Lap 2

    It was hot and I could tell. I was drinking water like it was going out of style. We headed out again and I was still feeling pretty good. I had no idea how many miles I had run because we were laughing the entire time. We stopped at the aid station again and I desperately needed electrolyte drink. Thank goodness they had it there! We finished and I needed to fill up my water and get another pack of Skratch chews. I was eating one serving of them per lap. Off we went again!

    Lap 3

    We went out again, and I was still feeling pretty good. We made our usual stop at the aid station for water and electrolytes. I think this was the lap I became privy to the fact that they had an ice bucket with sponges at the aid station and OH MAN did that feel good. That sun was a beast!

    As we rounded the bend to the start area again, we saw Stephanie and I think this was when we all synced up to run together. I stopped at the finish line aid station for a little boost, and off we went again.

    Lap 4

    I did a lot more walking this lap which was a good change of pace. Stephanie always tells me in trail running to walk the uphills. Well, in yesterday’s case I did that plus a little more 🤷🏽‍♀️.

    It was nice to chat with the two of them for a good long while. We finished the loop and I stopped back at camp to get more water and more fuel. They did the same, and around we went again.

    Lap 5

    Stephanie ran with us for a little bit again but then broke off to continue on with her mileage goal. Around this time and during the previous lap we ran they started putting out funny posters. We saw a lot of hilarious signs as we ran. Here are a few:

    The big decision

    When we finished this loop I knew I wanted to go for more. At the end of this loop my Garmin hit 16.75 miles and the clock said I about 70 minutes left until my event was over. I had two choices.

    1. Go for another big loop and push hard to make sure I finished before the cutoff
    2. Run a bunch of little loops when it opened at the 5th hour

    Now, I knew right away what the right choice was. I had to go for the big loop. It would put me a hair over 20 and I had plenty of time to complete it if I stayed focused. I am so glad I had Melissa with me to have someone to talk to! We stopped a camp and she changed her shoes and I changed my socks and we went off again.

    Lap 6: the final!

    We went for it. I gave it a little extra push and was carefully watching the time to make sure I made the cutoff. I knew even if I didn’t make the cut off, that I still put the miles in, but I still wanted it on record how hard I had worked!

    I made a stop at the aid station and just got a little extra fluid to push me through the end. I had about 3 ounces of coke which helped give me a sugar boost.

    As we rounded the bend I could see the clock and was like YES!!!! There were about 10 minutes left and I had made the time. I got a little confused about where to go (there were two archways set up, one for the little loop and one for the big), but crossed and got my medal and celebrated that I had crushed 20 miles! Melissa gave me a double high five and because she’s a beast, she kept going since she was doing the 12 hour event.

    Done and done!

    As soon as I got back to my camp area I sat down to take my shoes off. My husband quickly advised to be careful sitting on the ground because we had a guest….

    Oh heck no.

    I knew I needed to eat but the line for food was long and I needed to rest and drink fluids. I rolled my legs out and elevated them and found a snack. That salt tasted so good 😍

    Eventually I got some real food at the BBQ. I was mighty proud of myself because they were giving out Its It’s and I didn’t take one since I knew a milkshake was in my future!

    We hung out for a while and watched runners go by. The energy was contagious hearing people cheer each other on. I also met so many people while out running. It was a joy.

    Eventually around 3:30 we decided after hanging out for a few hours that it was time to go home for showers and dinner. I said goodbye to everyone I saw. But before we left, we got one last picture.

    Dinner time

    I promised myself when I signed up for this marathon that the day I ran 20 miles I would eat burgers and a milkshake. Accomplished.

    Until next time Dirty Dozen, and there will be a next time!

    Mercury Mile Box

    Hello! How are you? Me, I’m great. Trying to find my legs again after my long run/race yesterday 😂. While I was running my Mercury Mile box came in the mail! I had never heard of them before but my friend Stephanie at Run Strong Run posted discount code “BibRave10” for $10 off the styling fee so I gave it a whirl.

    The premise is that you fill out a survey of types of activity you do, distance and frequency of running, what you prefer to wear for weather and comfort, colors you like, links to your social media and any specific notes you have. You choose a date for delivery and then they charge you a $20.00 styling fee for your box. Anything you choose to keep out of the box gets charged to your credit card and your styling fee gets applied to anything you keep. You return the items you don’t keep in a prepaid package that comes with your delivery within 7 days and keep the ones you like. That simple!

    To recap my profile, I wrote I liked long shorts and capris and never wore pants, tank tops that were loose, bright colors, training for two marathons this year and linked my Instagram. Here’s what I got.

    Introduction

    I received a letter from my stylist highlighting some of her choices, as well as some basic instructions for the package and a list of price points for items if I kept them. Here was her introduction:

    So let’s see what I got…

    1. New Balance Ice 2.0 top

    I love color but this color wasn’t something I normally wear. I would have liked to see a tank version of this. The fabric was breathable and the color was fun, especially since I rarely wear something in this color scheme. I wear lots of jewel tones or neon in my regular and running life. I was disappointed that I specifically said in my profile I only run in tanks and got a shirt. This missed the mark.

    Verdict: return

    2. New Balance Impact Capri

    I LOVE these capris! And I mean LOVE!!!! I have such a hard time with buying clothes because of my quadzilla quads and finding stuff that will stay on my waist. These were comfortable, stayed up, and felt great! Highly recommend these.

    Verdict: I’m still not sure! I feel conflicted because I love these so much but I also have been running mostly in shorts lately because it’s been so hot. My concern is spending the money on these capris only to not have them fit when cooler temps come around. I’m fairly certain I will return them but purchase them later down the line when the cooler temps come around and I’ll be a smaller size.

    3. Sarah Marie Design Studio tank

    I love everything about this tank. I’m glad they sent it in an XL instead of an L because I could tell the cut of these would be too small in a large for me. I prefer my tops to be loose. It’s a great moisture wicking fabric, comfortable as can be, and something I would not normally buy for myself so I’m glad they sent it!

    Verdict: keep for sure!!!!

    4. Brooks 7″ Chaser Shorts

    These were more of a loose fabric and not the tight spandex/compression style I normally wear. They had pockets on the hips too. The fabric was comfortable but they looked horrible on me! These aren’t cut for someone of my body style. I’m too curvy and everything just bulged and it was bad news bears all around.

    Verdict: return

    6. Asics 5.5 inch cool shorts

    I did not like these at all. I prefer a much higher waist band, a much longer short, and thought the bunching because of my curvy bottom half would make these very uncomfortable to wear to workout.

    Verdict: return

    Freebies

    They also sent me a laundry detergent sample and some Sarah Marie Design Studio nail wraps which was very kind!

    Overall

    I think some of the items missed the mark in my box, but some were spot on. Next time I’ll be even more specific in my runner profile. I appreciate that they were able to send me items that were my size. I always hesitate because I’m afraid there will be a lack of stuff in bigger size but this was great.

    Thanks Mercury Mile! Until the next one!

    May I please have two sets of chopsticks?

    Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. Excited it is the weekend! I had a great thought yesterday and wanted to share today.

    I picked up some Vietnamese food yesterday for lunch and decided to get an appetizer as well as an entree so I could eat half for lunch yesterday and half for lunch today. I realized upon doing that I needed to ask for two sets of chopsticks and had a flashback moment

    When I was in college I would regularly order potstickers and chow mein for dinner if the cafeteria was closed. I had a big love of Chinese food. I would also go to the all you can eat Chinese buffet and eat my weight in, you guessed it, chicken chow mein and potstickers. When I would order my takeout, I would request two sets of chopsticks. I was under the delusion that the restaurant staff would think I was taking home my food to share with someone. I’m sure my 264 pound body said otherwise. It was not apparent then but is now that I can look back, that I wasn’t fooling anyone and my overeating issues were deep.

    Then and Now

    When I picked up my lunch yesterday I was proud knowing that both sets of chopsticks would get used. I haven’t completely defeated my food demons, but I’m learning to live with them.

    Cheers to always trying to be our best. ❤️

    -Vanessa