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Chilled Cucumber, Tomato & Feta Salad

July 21, 2013

I am usually not one for airplane food, but it’s been a while since I’ve traveled so far where we were served meals on a plane. On the way back from Iceland, Delta served lunch with a choice of a chicken salad or chicken, great variety no? I choose the chicken salad praying it wouldn’t be a mayo-laden typical chicken salad and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of veggies we were given, no mayo! It was basically a cucumber, tomato and feta salad with a grilled chicken breast on top. I was so impressed by this meal (it doesn’t take much to impress me) and it tasted good to eat some fresh crisp veggies (after eating nothing but sandwiches, hot dogs and yogurt in Iceland), I decided to recreate it at home for a simple summer side dish. I made a red wine vinaigrette and let the salad marinate in it for a few hours, it only gets better the next day and makes for delicious leftovers. I served this salad with some stuffed chicken breast. Simply butterfly a chicken breast, spread a tablespoon of pesto in the middle and top with a cheese of your choice (mozzarella is favorite). Lightly pan fry both sides until you get a nice brown color and finish it off in the oven.

Chilled Cucumber, Tomato & Feta Salad


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 C feta cheese
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • Italian seasoning, salt and pepper


1. Chop up the cucumber and tomatoes and add in the feta cheese

2. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, minced garlic, dijon mustard and olive oil. Season with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper.

3. Combine the cucumber mixture with the dressing and enjoy.


Half Dome Hike, Yosemite

July 17, 2013

Over 4th of July weekend, we headed to Yosemite to climb the famous Half Dome. It wasn’t until the week of our trip that we started contemplating the idea of doing this hike. Everyone now needs a permit to climb the ropes and summit the peak, which is difficult if you didn’t reserve a permit far out in advance. Without a permit, you can hike only as far as the base of subdome, which is where a series of switchbacks begin about a quarter mile before the base of the cables. Luckily they are doing a daily lottery now where if you apply 2 days before the day you want to go, you are entered in the daily lottery. I knew our chances were slim of getting in since it was a long weekend and hundreds of people apply everyday. At midnight the night before we left, we lucked out and got confirmation that we were in, so we started scrambling around the house trying to pack for this 10+ hour hike. With the weather forecast in the 90’s we knew we need to bring A LOT of water since there would be no water stops along the way, except the first mile in. The hike itself is listed as 14 miles roundtrip via Mist trail and 16.5 via John Muir trail, but we somehow ended up with 20 miles for the day starting at Camp Curry Village and all the walking around we did at the top of Half Dome. The cables usually go up in May and come down October, so climbing Half Dome (safely with the cables) is only a possibility during this period.


Things to bring:

  • 4 Liters of water per person (we carried a mixture of water, powdered coconut water (found these at REI) and Gatorade. We definitely could of used more especially the last 2-3 miles.
  • Snacks (trail mix, Cliff bars, fruit)
  • Lunch (we made some PB sandwiches to eat on top of sub dome)
  • Grippy gloves (so glad we bought some at REI as we definitely needed them for the cables. We ended up buying climbing gloves, but I would imagine a good pair of gardening gloves would do fine too)
  • Camera with a strap or GoPro (we used a combination of our iPhone for pictures throughout the trail and the GoPro headmount when climbing the cables)
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Headlamp or flashlight if you are starting early or plan on coming back after sunset
  • Some first aid stuff
  • Light windproof jacket (it can get very windy on top of Half Dome and it’s nice to have a lightweight jacket at the top)
  • Trekking poles (we didn’t have any, but could be helpful for hiking up the steep rocky steps)
  • Comfortable hiking clothes (I love my InknBurn denims for any sort of long run/hike as its lightweight and wicks away sweat)
  • your permit and ID! they do check and you will get turned around from the ranger if you don’t have it with you

Our hike started at 5AM so we could get most of our uphill hiking done before the sun really starting beating down and to avoid the crowds. I brought a headlamp but didn’t really need it as it was already getting light out. We filled up our camelbaks and water bottles at Happy Isles where the trail starts and made our way onto the trail. I was worried about not finding our way to Half Dome, but everything was well marked and you just kept following the signs towards Half Dome. A mile in is the last water stop and they even have a sign telling you to fill up now because there won’t be anything in between, unless you have a filter and want to drink from the stream, but I don’t think that is advised.


I was surprised at how quickly the trail turned into a gradual uphill hike and not used to carrying so much on my back, it was definitely a workout right from the get-go! We decided to take the Mist Trail as opposed to the John Muir Trail even though it’s a lot steeper but shorter in length. We were not disappointed.


Boy those steps were so steep and slippery from all the mist.

After the steep ascent up the Mist Trail, we arrived at the top of the 317 ft Vernal Falls. They have railings to guard people from going in the water and possibly being swept over. Past the huge waterfall is the Emerald Pool, which is a large bulge in the river with an inviting, but deadly area that may seem like a fun place to swim, but is prohibited due to the cold water, the current and the proximity to the fall just around the corner. Though we did see a group swimming back and forth in the pool?



As we transitioned from a dirt trail and began to hike up granite slabs, we started our hike up to Nevada Fall where we got a great view of the 594 foot waterfall. After a long haul up, the trail came to a “T” with the John Muir Trail which is recommended to take on the way back since it is less steep and less crowded. We finally hit some level ground hiking into Little Yosemite Valley where the Merced river flowed to the right and we got out first glimpse of the backside of Half Dome in the distance, though you couldn’t see the cables.



After a mile of leveled ground, we started our gradual switchbacks up the trail again. While ascending this forested area, we were lucky enough to see a few mule deers. The switchbacks seemed to go on forever as it was a relentless climb up to the base of sub dome. The trail wasn’t as steep as the Mist trail, but it was just the constant persistent uphill that made this part of the hike particularly challenging, especially since there was no cover overhead and it was almost noon. We took a few rest breaks wherever we could find shade and a rock to sit on. As we headed towards sub dome, the trees got thinner and the views open up. At the base, there was a ranger checking for permits before you could make the ascent towards the top.


Sub dome is a 400 ft rise up a carved switchback granite staircase. I actually found this more challenging than climbing the cables itself. The staircase lies above the tree line and is very strenuous. I can see how hiking poles would be really helpful here to help stabilize you on these steps. Luckily we were still fairly early when we got here so we didn’t have to move out of the way too much for those that were descending. You can also start to see the cables going up Half Dome.



When we finally arrived at the top of Sub Dome, we came face-to-face with the infamous cables. Pictures from what I’ve seen online do little to convey just how massive the climb is. The people on the cables looked like little ants ascending a vertical wall. We stopped here for a little bit, got our gear together before making our way to the cables. We decided to dump our packs here so we wouldn’t have to carry the extra weight while climbing. It would have been nice to have some water at the top, but climbing the cables without all that weight was worth it.


Once we got to the cables, we stayed on the right side to let other descend on the left. Though sometimes, people end up gripping both cables so you had to get out of the way while still holding onto one cable. It was nice to not have the cables crowded because we weren’t stuck behind people while going up. I used the single cable rappel method which I found a lot easier than trying to hold onto both cables. There are wooden boards set into the granite which acted like a resting point where you could stand steady for a little bit. There are poles on both sides, but they are merely resting in holes so they come out if you pull up. Surprisingly, the climb wasn’t as hard as I expected. It definitely looked steeper from afar but wasn’t too bad once you were actually on the cables. I thought I would freak out being so high up, but I just kept focused on the next board ahead of me and steadily climbed to the top.


Once at the top, there are many view points to see, such as Cloud’s Rest, Glacier Point and El Capitan. I walked around the top for a bit, saw a few people taking pictures on the famous ‘diving board’ which is a rock ledge that juts out and caught a couple hats flying off on the camera. We didn’t spend too long at the top for fear of the cables getting more and more crowded while descending. I started the descent facing downhill, but found facing backwards and repelling down to be a lot easier. Unfortunately we were stuck behind a couple who were taking a really long time going down. Heading down was a blast as I just let my cable slide on my gloves and my shoes glide me down the mountain. It got a tricky when people were ascending as you had to move out of the way or let them come up first. At some point, we got stuck in the middle of a couple fighting. The woman wanted to go back down but the guy kept trying to push her back up. Finally at the base, we took a short rest break before heading down sub dome, which might be scarier than going up and retracing our steps all the way back to the village.


It got a lot more crowded on the trail close to the trailhead, especially near Vernal Falls and on the Mist Trail since this is only a 2-3 mile hike from the trailhead and a popular spot for tourist who don’t want to go as far. We ended up hiking 20 miles in a little over 10 hours which is not too bad considering the breaks we took and the time we spent up at the top of Half Dome. It was a great day on the trails and a nice warm-up for all our adventures ahead in Iceland. So glad to be able to check this hike off my bucket list and I can’t wait to come back someday and do it again.




July 5, 2013

B and I started planning this trip over a year ago when I stumbled across the Lagavegur marathon race site. After numerous e-mail exchanges back and forth with the race director, I found myself with a race entry and a race on my calendar that was still a year away in a completely foreign country. I worked with Visit Iceland to get myself more acquainted with the country and all the sights to see and do (there are too many!). They graciously connected me with a few tour companies who I will be working with throughout the trip in hopes of bringing a piece of Iceland back to the U.S to share with others.

Fast forward a year later, we are beyond grateful for all the tremendous help we have gotten in planning this whirl wind of a trip.  This trip couldn’t have happened for us without the help of the generous race company and various Iceland tours.

Special thanks to:

Laugavegur Marathon

Iceland Excursions

Visit Iceland


Extreme Iceland

Arctic Adventures

ice climbing copy







More Music!

July 3, 2013

I’ve been on a music downloading spree lately. Too many long road/plane trips coming up to be stuck with bad or no music so here are some of my recent favorites. All great tunes to jam to on your run as well.

Music playlist #1

Music playlist #2


Off to Yosemite to hopefully climb Half Dome & Iceland for the Laugavegur Marathon. Back with lots of updates!

Winthrop Marathon

June 13, 2013


I lied when I said I was only going to run one road marathon for the year at O.C. The opportunity to go on a weekend trip to Seattle, visit the North Cascade National Park and run Winthrop was too good to pass up. After my experience at Orcas and Gorges, I knew I had to come back and run another race from Rainshadow Running. The course profile didn’t hurt either.

2013 header

Elevation profiles can be deceiving.

B and I spent the weekend visiting with his brother and fiancee in Seattle while making the 4 hour drive to Winthrop, not before stopping by the North Cascade National Park. The drive through the park on Hwy 20 was breathtaking. The mountains were covered in snow on both sides of the road with waterfalls cascading down to the road. We stopped at the Gorge waterfall overlook and Diablo lake before heading to Cutthroat trail for a 5 mile hike to the lake. Incredible. Pictures really don’t do justice to these views, you just have to take my word and go visit. There is something so amazing about standing at the base of all these huge mountains that make you feel so small and engulfed in nature and your surroundings.

The marathon

Luckily the marathon started on a Sunday so we had time to drive to Winthrop and sight see on Saturday. Since it was a point to point race, we all boarded the bus early in the morning and took the 26 mile drive to the start. I met up with my friend Ather as we discussed our PR potential for this race. We were both  stoked about the downhill course (ironically we met during the final downhill at Pine to Palm last year) and the gorgeous ever changing scenery on the drive just rallied up more excitement. The bus took us deep into the forest where the scenery changed from valley/farmland to lush trees and river crossings. We got dropped off at the edge of the Pasayten Wilderness in the Okanogan National Forest. Sitting at an altitude of 3100 ft, we would lose 1000ft in the first 10 miles as we followed the Chewuch River to the town of Winthrop. There was also a half marathon that day that started 2 hours after us from the middle point of the marathon course.

Start line

Start line

The R.D., James, kept stressing how important it was to pace yourself in the first half because the last 10k is the toughest. Downhill running is my forte and I had really high expectations of myself going into this race. There was also prize money on the line, but more than anything, I wanted to prove to myself that I could pull off a win if I really put my mind to it. My legs were as rested as they could be and I was pumped to run in this beautiful place. I continued my training after O.C. to prepare for this race by running Temescal down repeats over and over again, pounding the downs at Westridge and getting my quads ready for a beating. I had some really good runs leading up to Winthrop and felt confidant and ready toeing the line.

Miles 1-6

Ather and I lined up at the front, even though it was chip timing, and wished each other good luck, speedy legs and a nice fat PR at the end. Once the race started, I just took off. This was my race, my scenery, my people and my 26.2 miles to own. Even though it was supposed to be a hot day, the tree canopy covered the entire road and made for nice shade. We had the Chewuch river rushing alongside us to the left as different dirt trails tempted us on the other side.


I knew I was running faster than I should have been for a marathon, but I just felt so good and everything felt so right (famous last words). I didn’t dare look at my watch when it beeped mile splits fearing that I would freak out at the fast splits. (Ran the first mile in 6:25 *cue what was I thinking??*).

I decided then that I would cruise these 10 miles down, run based on how I felt, and hopefully create a nice lead for myself. The miles ticked by so quickly I couldn’t believe how far I had gone already. At O.C., I was so focused on hitting a time and had a whole race strategy planned out which forced me to take it easy in the beginning so I could hit those splits later in the race. At Winthrop, I abandoned everything I knew and was so focused on a win that I completely neglected common sense and made stupid mistakes in the beginning that only jeopardized my race at the end.

10K split 41:18:00 Pace 6:53

Hello 10K PR. Doomed from the very beginning.


Miles 6-13

Still riding on Cloud nine, I continued to pound it out mile by mile. James was driving a car along with a videographer who stopped every so often to catch us on video. I grew paranoid whenever I heard steps behind me and would try to guess by their footsteps and breathing if it was a girl or guy. Brennan, Nathan and Amanda were manning an aid station at Mile 10 so I had something to look forward to. It was so nice to see them as the roads were getting pretty empty and lonely. I always say I hate big road races because I don’t like the feeling of running in a crowd of people and getting elbowed in the beginning and trying to run through people. However, at Winthrop, it was so spread out and empty which made it hard to pace myself and gauge how fast I was going.

Half Marathon 1:33 Pace 7:10

This is only 2 minutes faster than my half marathon PR. Still doomed and awaiting death to come


Miles 13-22

Though the course profile might look like an easy 26 mile downhill cruise to the finish, the downhills were actually not as steep as I was expecting. It was more gradual with rollers. My quads were fine but I was having major cramping in my hamstrings. The scenery finally changed from the forest to open exposed valleys and meadows which was still beautiful. Unfortunately it was also getting really hot out and the dryness in the air was starting to take a toll on my energy. Miles 15-22 was a major bonkfest. Everything bad that could happen at a race happened during these miles. I was dry heaving like crazy and ran straight to a trashcan at an aid to vomit but nothing would come out. At the same time, I felt so dehydrated and wished the aids were a little closer (2-3 miles apart). My cramping was so bad I was barely shuffling up the hills. I just couldn’t shake the feeling and couldn’t believe this was happening to me on this day.

winthrop copy

I passed a couple runners sitting on the side of the road and asked if they needed help. The rolling hills also started to appear and you could see far ahead of you the steep climb to the top. Close to Mile 20 at the top of a hill, I quickly looked behind me just to see if anyone was close and I saw a flash of pink compression socks. Oh crap. I quickly started to run again afraid the girl saw me walking and knew I was hurting. I tried to make it seem like I was doing just fine, but I knew I wasn’t and couldn’t fake going any faster. At Mile 20 she passed me and I told her to go get ’em and finish strong. I knew I would never see her again and threw in the towel. Pissed off at how my race was going, I  started to walk through the aid stations and take my time. Mentally defeated, I stopped trying to push myself and focused more on making myself feel better so I could enjoy these last few miles of the race without wanting to die. I walked through the aid, drank lots of water and Gatorade, thanked the volunteers before heading out again. It almost felt like an ultra where I used the aid stations as a resting break before tackling the next section.

Mile 22 split 2:46 Pace 7:33


Miles 22-26.2

With the stroke of luck and runner’s magic, I suddenly started to feel better. The cramping was still there but my energy was lifted and I was able to push through the cramping more than I was before. We had a 1.25 mile out and back before heading to the finish. It was then that I caught a glimpse of the girl in front of me. I couldn’t believe I would see her again after how badly I was feeling before. There was a small glimmer of hope that I would be able to catch her, but she was just far enough ahead that it would take some major work to even come close. As my spirits lifted and my legs were functioning again, I started closing in a little by little. Turnarounds are usually pretty defeating because you have to run back the same way, but it also gives you a competitive advantage to see where your competition is. This turnaround was nothing short of hills! I finally reached the turnaround and the volunteer who was there told me that if I could catch her, I would be the first woman. I told her I was going to try hard.

Yes, we finished in front of a Mexican restaurant. It was awesome.

Yes, we finished in front of a Mexican restaurant and brewery. It was awesome.

I didn’t want to start sprinting and blow it right before the finish so I stayed conservative. In my heart I already knew I didn’t have a chance of beating her. I was just happy to make up that time towards the end to come close. It wasn’t about winning today, it was about learning how to run a smart race (which I clearly didn’t do). It took a loss that day for me to learn from my mistakes. I went in expecting huge things, but I didn’t follow my usual race plan and in turn, couldn’t execute it. The race didn’t pan out the way I had hoped and I was far too miserable during those miles to really consider my finish a success. A success in my books is when I race smart and feel good from start to finish, no matter what time or place I come in.

Finish 3:21 Pace 7:40


I ended up finishing less than a minute after the first place woman which was a hard to swallow, but it was my own doing that costed me that win. Competitive racing is very new to me and something I want to get better at. Every race is another learning experience and even after 5 years of running, I am still learning. Something I will always remember is that winners rarely lead from start to finish, especially in long distance racing. Of course, the same thing happened at San Diego where I led for 29 miles before falling back to third place. Some lessons take longer to learn. Here’s to better races and smarter decisions next time.

Even though the day didn’t pan out like I had imagined, I tried my best at the end to salvage what was left of the race. Sometimes it takes a bad race to make you step back and analyze what went wrong and how things could have been different if only you had made better decisions. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend with family, checking out some of the most amazing trails and scenery in the Cascades and being able to run, which is always something to be grateful for.


Injury Prevention

May 21, 2013

I received an e-mail from a reader all the way in the UK about how I stay injury free and if I could write a post about injury prevention. Great topic! I wrote a similar article about How to Recover Faster and Run Longer.

I actually used to get injured a lot when I first started running. It was all on road and I had no clue how to increase mileage. My first run with the L.A. Leggers was 15 miles (having never run more than 6 before)! Clearly, I didn’t (and still don’t) understand the word moderation and increasing mileage slowly. So it wasn’t a surprise I kept getting runner’s knee. I had no idea what stretches I should be doing, what the heck a foam roller was, how much I should really be running etc.

Increase mileage slowly

For a beginner, this is KEY to injury prevention. Do not jump from 6 miles to 15 miles. There is a reason why marathon training plans build out the weeks slowly, also why they are usually 16 weeks long. Here is a sample of a marathon training plan for a beginner runner from Hal Higdon.


I eat as simply as I can, unprocessed, real, nutritious food. Your performance/recovery depends heavily on what you put in your body. I cut out artificial sugar a couple months ago which has played a huge part in my training and recovery. As much as I love my Diet Coke after long runs, it just isn’t worth it. I’ve been drinking a lot of natural teas, juices and coconut water instead. Which isn’t to say I don’t splurge once in a while, but when you’re eating good clean and delicious food that isn’t labeled “diet food”, you don’t really have to urge to pig out on junk anymore.


I wrote about how important sleep is to me in this article. You can ask any of my friends or Brennan how much I value sleep. I will be the first in bed when we go on running trips (and the first one up!). I’m not embarrassed to say I get an average of 8-9 hours each night, which means making it a priority. Not watching another episode of trashy reality T.V. or surfing the web, it means getting 9 hours of undisturbed shut eye. When your body is resting, all your muscles are recovering too.

Core/strength training

10 months ago, I made one of the best decisions in my running career, and that was to purchase a package of Pilates classes from a local studio. It’s no secret how obsessed I’ve become with Pilates (specifically the SPX workout) and how much it has benefited my running (post later to come about the specific workout). Whether it’s pilates, TRX, Crossfit, strength training is a must for all runners. I’ve been taking body composition tests for a couple years now, even before I started running. It is amazing how unbalanced your body can be from all the pounding. My legs were completely uneven (I favored my right leg more since I had a bad left knee) and my core and arms were weak. I recently took another test after having introduced pilates to my workout routine. Even though my legs decreased strength a little with less mileage, they were completely balanced for the first time. My core actually outweighed my legs and both my arms were stronger. This balanced symmetry is important in injury prevention because when you favor one leg over the other, it creates a lot more stress on the leg you are favoring. Core work is key!


Foam roll/RICE

This is something I definitely need to do more. I have every foam rolling device you can name sitting in a pile in my house. When something feels off, I get on the foam roller or tennis ball and roll it out for a few minutes a night. I also like to get a massage once in a while to work out the kinks. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for a year now every week and he helps with my back alignment and adjusts me when needed. There is a misconception that chiros crack your bones/back, which is completely untrue. They are cracking your back/neck to release the gas that is causing tension in the area, the sound of the gas releasing sounds like the cracking of your knuckles. I was scared at first, but I’ve been doing it every week now for a year and it feels really good to get adjusted.

Resting is also part of training and is something I tend to forget sometimes. You can have an active rest day by going on a walk or taking a yoga class or doing absolutely nothing.

Change the terrain

A big part of staying injury free for me was switching from the road to the trails. I do almost all of my long runs on the trails now and try to run on the trail as much as I can. The trails are more forgiving for your knees, provides a softer terrain and the constant climbing and descending keeps your body guessing. Sure you might not be going as fast as you would on the road, but speed is all relative on the trails. It is hard to compare one trail to another since no trail is the same. Trail running gives me a equally good workout as running on the road. When you’re running on the road, the motion can be very monotonous, unlike the trails, where you are going from left to right, jumping over creeks, rocks, climbing the hills and pounding the downs. Running on uneven/rocky terrain can help strengthen your ankles and overall balance.


Music Monday

May 19, 2013


Here’s my first playlist

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo

May 13, 2013

Here’s a simple spring side dish to go along with any main meal. I’ve been really into chorizo lately. Like ordering it everywhere I go and making a ton of stuff with it (B approves). Its spiciness complements the vegetable’s earthy flavor.You can add in Isaraeli couscous for more bulk like this recipe and take out the pancetta, or leave it in for that crunch. There’s regular beef chorizo, pork chorizo and soyrizo, use whatever suits your tastes. I love charring the brussels sprouts in the pan for that extra crispy texture and flavor. Be on the lookout for my Chorizo and Sun Dried Tomato Pizza recipe soon!

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo


  • 1 lb of brussels sprouts, cored and shreddd
  • 1 pound fresh link chorizo sausage, casings removed
  • 1 TBS of olive oil
  • salt to taste

Serves 4


1. Finely shred brussels sprouts

2. Heat a medium sized pan with olive oil and saute brussels sprouts until leaves begin to char

3. Mix in crumbled chorizo

4. Season with salt and serve immediately


OC Marathon

May 9, 2013

“The uncertainty of certain feelings is the best way to break them.”

A couple of things from the OC Marathon this past weekend:

1. For the first time in 4 years since I’ve been running races, I was able to stay in tune with my body every step of the way and ran based on how I felt, not time. My training already determined the time I was going to run, the actual race was just the final piece to tie it all together.

2. I don’t know how to run the tangents well.

3. I ran a personal best by 10 minutes.

4. Competition makes for great motivation

5. Don’t wear a “HAWAII” shirt and not expect to be called Hawaii from every spectator

6. Cheaters never win

If you’ve been following along, I decided to run the OC marathon kind of last minute. I wanted a spring road marathon to see where my running level is currently at, so I created my own 1 month to a marathon PR training schedule (do as I say not as I do). Since I only run one road marathon a year, I wanted to really go for something big. My last marathon PR of 3:29 was at Santa Barbara in 2011, I was a couple seconds off that PR in Eugene last year.

The "I just PR'ed and want to die" face from Santa Barbara 2011

The “I just PR’ed and want to die” face from Santa Barbara 2011

Here are my weekly training recaps:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

The Beginning

Going into the race, I didn’t have much of a strategy. I randomly picked 3:15 because it sounded good, but knew in the back of my mind that I haven’t been training at 3:15 pace on my long runs. It was a lofty goal and I was never able to fully execute that pace during my training. My only plan was to go out slow, take the first 3-5 miles to warm-up then try to negative split the course. Matt would jump in at Mile 12 to pace me to the finish. If all the stars aligned that day, I would come out with a PR, hopefully a significant one.

The race started at an ungodly hour of 5:30AM. The only races I have done that started that early are the Disney World races and Northface 50 miles. Matt dropped me off at the start, Fashion Island, where I warmed up a bit, got situated near the 3:15 pacer and tried to relax. I had been a nervous wreck going into the race. There is something about road races that are so much more intimidating than trail races. The size of the field, having my friend’s track me, the pace that I would have to maintain, the “no walking” rule and the  high expectations I was placing on myself all contributed to my anxiety lining up at the start. I met up with my friend Neil and saw Matt again who found parking and came to watch us start. I had asked him what a 3:20 pace would be and thinking that pace was more realistic for me, but I would still try for that 3:15 if a miracle happened (which they never do on race day). I wore a 3:15 pace bracelet that I had made the night before to remind myself of splits I needed to hit throughout the race.



I asked the 3:15 pacer if he planned on running even splits from the beginning and since he was, I would start out behind him. There was no 3:20 group, only 3:25 so it was nice to run alone and not part of a big group. I needed those first few miles to warm-up and was fairly confidant I could make up that time later on in the race.


Miles 1-6

The first six miles were very fast, making it hard to start slow and not let my adrenaline take over. I kept the 3:15 pacer in sight, but didn’t worry too much when I couldn’t see him. I knew I needed 3-5 miles to warm up so when my watch clicked off 7:35 splits instead of the 7:26 I was supposed to be running, I wasn’t worried at all. My shins from the get-go started feeling sore which was strange. I had a flashback to my last short run on Friday where I had a similar problem, yet I couldn’t figure out why it was happening as I was wearing my favorite shoes and had been tapering all week long. I pushed the negativity out of my mind and figured if need be, I can push through shin pain, though it wouldn’t be pretty.

5K-23:37 Pace: 7:37

I enjoyed the scenery, took note of any female runners around me (there weren’t many), and focused on warming up. I would give myself 5 miles before I would start picking up the pace. We were greeted with breathtaking panorama views of the Pacific Ocean, winding through the seaside village of Corona del Mar and cliff side views of the beach.


After Mile 4, my shin pain went away and I was starting to have fun, never glancing at my watch or my 3:15 pace bracelet from then on. I was determined to run this race based on how I felt at that moment. As we winded into the nature preserve, I overhead an older runner with another women discussing their pace behind me. The women ended up ducking into a porta potty and I ended up running with the guy. He was steady and running practically the same pace as me. We were running so close together we were almost rubbing elbows. I finally told him what a great pace he was holding and asked what he was shooting for. He didn’t seem to speak much English and grunted out a 3:20. I figured since he was running so steady, I would stick with him until Matt jumped in.

10K-45:50 Pace: 7:23

Miles 6-12

The next 6 miles I stayed steady with the runner. He saw that I was clinging onto him and instead of trying to shoo me away, he took me in and basically told me I had no clue how to run tangents. I never realized it until he started pointing how many extra steps I was taking. He didn’t speak much, just made hand signals at me to follow him or run closer to the side to cut any corners we could and run the most direct way possible. It was nice having someone literally right next to you, matching your every footstep. We passed runners left and right, clocked the miles off one by one and not once did I worry about my pace. I knew we were running good splits and I wanted to make it to Mile 20 with enough gas left in the tank. We traversed down Bayside Drive, past the yacht clubs and big homes and boats of Newport Harbor. It was surprisingly calm and beautiful. I didn’t mind not having many spectators, I’m used to it on the trails and prefer it that way. We ran along the bluffs overlooking the Upper Newport bay Estuary Reserve which was probably my favorite part of the course.


11 Mi: 1:22:26 Pace: 7:30

Miles 12-20

Matt jumped in at Mile 12 and all three of us ran together for a little bit before Matt and I broke off on our own. I knew the second half of the course wouldn’t be a scenic as the first so I saved turning on my music until I really needed it. The scenery changed from cliff side views of the ocean to industrial buildings and freeways.  I was feeling great and it felt like one of our regular weekday runs. Stay focused, be present, pay attention to your nutrition and constantly ask yourself what you could do to make yourself feel better (ultra mentality).

Half: 1:37:52 Pace: 7:28

There were a couple boring straightaways where I could see for miles, so I just kept my head down and stared at the backs of other runners. There was a significant 45′ incline at mile 14.5 over the 405 overpass. Matt told me to take quick small steps which stayed in my mind every time we hit a hill. At mile 15 we had a short out and back and for the first time, I saw that the 3:15 group wasn’t that far ahead of me. Seeing them gave me confidence that my legs will run their own natural pace.

15.25 Mi: 1:54:26 Pace: 7:31

Miles 16-20 I started to feel myself lose focus and unravel. Even though I was diligently taking a salt pill every hour, eating a GU every 6 miles & hydrating, my hamstrings were on the verge of cramping and my legs felt like lead. Matt kept looking at his watch and looking back at me. More than disappointing myself, I didn’t want to disappoint him. I know it’s a tough job as a pacer when the person you are pacing totally falls apart and there’s nothing you can do.We run together so much that I hate it when my bad days slow us down and he patiently waits for me. I knew he wanted to push the pace so we could catch the 3:15 group but I kept telling him I wasn’t ready yet.

We ran through  the Segerstrom Center for Arts which was interesting before going around the South Coast Plaza parking lot (flashbacks to the New Years half around the Dodger stadium lot). As much as I felt myself fading physically, I tried to stay mentally focused. I knew I wasn’t running as fast as I should be, but I also didn’t want to blow it right then and not be able to finish strong. I was running the best as I could and that was all that mattered to me right then. I kept telling him it was okay if I didn’t do it today and as long as I tried my best, I would be happy. I really needed that second wind to pick me up again. Somewhere along this stretch we ended up passing the 3:15 pacer who looked like hell and was all by himself because his group had left him.

18.6 Mi: 2:19:14 Pace: 7:30

Miles 20-26.2

A little bit before Mile 20, we hit the Santa Ana River Trail which we would run on for 1.5 miles. From Ragnar SoCal last year, I remember dreading this section because it was so exposed, hot and boring. Fortunately the day stayed overcast and it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Matt picked off guys in front of us which gave me a target to catch them one by one and kept my mind off the remaining miles. I had heard from different people along the course that I was 4th female so that became my new motivation to keep my place. I was starting to feel better and instead of worrying about my time, I kept focused on chasing down the person in front of me.

24 Mi: 3:02:44 Pace: 7:37

We ran around a golf course through the Mesa Verde neighborhood towards the home stretch at the OC Fairgrounds. At Mile 25 Matt told me that I would PR today but depending on how I ran this last mile it would determine how big of a PR I was going to get. That last mile seemed to drag on and on since there were so many turns, at one point towards the finish I yelled out “where the F&*K is the finish???”. I saw my watch hit 3:15 but knew I was fairly close to finishing.

I had a hard time deciding when to start sprinting because I was worried about collapsing right before the finish and something seizing up so I kept chugging along the best I could until I literally saw the finish line and gunned it. I saw the clock ticking closer and closer to 3:20 and right then I was so determined to get in under 3:20. The clock went past 3:20 but since I was a few seconds off from the gun time, I ended up coming in at 3:19:57, 4th place woman and 1st in age group. No picture of me almost passing out at the finish line. I didn’t hit that magical 3:15, but I ran the best I could to get there.

There was a discrepancy with the race result and overall women’s leaderboard. After some investigating and working with the race director and timing company, they honored my 4th place and took out the woman who had suspicious times. Long story short, cheaters never win and in this sport, it isn’t fair to the rest of us who work and train hard to run the entire race. Most of us run for personal satisfaction and enjoyment and taking that away from other runners is wrong.

Also, running a marathon on Cinco de Mayo and celebrating with $5 margaritas at a restaurant called CINCO is pretty awesome.

ImageBack to the trails I go!

My favorite 5 letter word

May 2, 2013


I usually despise this word, but seeing ‘taper week’ on my training plan was more than welcomed after the past 4 weeks. It helps that I’m busy this week with non-running stuff (surprise surprise) and takes my mind off not being able to run. One thing that has been on my mind lately is self-doubt. We’ve all been there, before something big is about to happen. I’ve had a couple moments this week where I’ve been stressing myself out more than I need to, not all related to the marathon. Am I good enough? Did I train hard enough? What did I get myself into?

Trust in your training. I am a huge believer of recording all my workouts because of this. My training log dates back to when I first started running 5 years ago! It’s fun to go back and see what I did before a big race, especially if it was a good one and what I shouldn’t do (i.e. pilates). When in doubt, I sit down and look over my training and it gives me confidence that I’ve done all the hard work. The race is the celebration, after all.

Write it down. Jotting down my thoughts keeps me focused on my end goal and helps me stay calm. As business school as this sounds, I do a SWOT analysis on myself (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats). I focus on the strengths and opportunities and turn the weaknesses and threats into challenges. It helps me see the bigger picture instead of micro-managing every little detail.

Taper week workouts

I’ve been scaling back my workouts and mileage this week and going easy on my runs. Friday and Saturday will mainly be rest and recovery from all the running and pilates. I’m looking forward to seeing what Sunday brings! See you on the other side.

If you want to track me at O.C. this weekend I’m Bib #2166 (race starts at 5:30AM)

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