Revel Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon Recap

89324b07c294a6d8e529c8e82fec0fbb0b9c617f037045ad4ce4f225d53bfc89_webI signed up to this race last January, intending to use the marathon as my third try to qualify for Boston. I had just completed my first attempt at Carlsbad (January 2106) and while I had a 7 minute PR, I was still short of what I needed. This was my first race where I’d improved but was disappointed at the same time.

While driving home from Carlsbad, my daughter and I looked up races for the 2nd weekend in September and found this Utah race. When my husband found a timeshare in Park City I signed up for the race. Thankfully I ran a BQ in May and didn’t need a third try (M2B Race Recap). So, listening to the advice of my coach, I ran the half marathon instead. Here’s how it went.

This was my first race that included a bus ride to the start line. I had my trusty little drop bag, but didn’t put enough in it! The forecast was for mid-50s, which for me is perfect running weather. So, why would I need the excess baggage of the blanket (very small!) and pants and jacket. My shorts and a 3/4 zip over my singlet would be fine, right? Wrong! The lesson I learned is that next time I’ll fill that drop bag full of everything that I might need. With my traveling light, I froze for the hour that I waited to warm up. And I forgot my phone! So I meditated and concentrated on breathing to take my mind off the cold.

Once I warmed up I didn’t give myself enough time, but my valid excuse is that it was so dark in the pre-sunrise canyon. I did finally run 2.5 miles in the dark but it was a bit scary as there was still traffic and it was still dark. Interestingly there were more than 2,000 runners and only about 20 seemed to be warming up. Maybe it was just too dark to see anyone else. By the way, my long warmup because I’m training for another marathon… it was supposed to be three miles but a quarter way into mile 2 I realized that I didn’t give myself enough time.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 1.46.37 PM
I like data…so I like that they provided this after the race.

This was a very well organized race and there is only one thing that would have made it better…starting corrals, or at least lining up by pace. My slowest mile was the first because of big crowd at the beginning. I was the 775th person to start and the 546th person to finish. I probably passed most of those in the first mile!

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 1.53.55 PMFirst Five Miles 

This was a major downhill course. I’ve run downhill in training and M2B was a downhill marathon, but I was not prepared for this level of downhill. It sure made me run fast! But it also fried my legs…as I write this on Tuesday they are still not 100% recovered. My coach had said, “Don’t go too crazy on the downhill.” I probably did, but I also don’t know how I could have run slower without leaning back and braking with every step. As I ran I thought of those cartoon characters whose legs are spinning like windmills. I don’t usually stop at aid stations when I run a half, but I stopped at these because of the hill.

9390f9c83b594466e5b73e4492a56bfd87e06723a50f75f13692f46684bdf03c_webSecond Five Miles

Beautiful! Running down this canyon was amazingly beautiful. I loved just looking around. I also, though, had to be cautious because I didn’t want to fall (and I seem to be having issues with that lately). A boy who was about 10-12 was ahead of me and he fell and rolled. This give an idea to the slope at that point. He got up and was fine and finished the race just ahead of me. All while I was running I was thinking of Megan (my daughter) who was doing the full marathon. They started higher up the canyon at the same time. I wondered how she was doing. I was both glad and sad that I wasn’t doing the full. My calves and shins (especially my left shin) were feeling the effects of this course.

Last 5K

Here the race became truly hard. We left the canyon with about 4 miles to run and so no longer had the assist of the big downhill. I was tired and had to push and was so tempted to switch to walking and had to push some more. I felt like these last few miles were uphill – they weren’t! I felt like I was crawling…as in no speed but in retrospect I was still maintaining a decent pace in that it was faster than my previous half marathon PR average pace.

df3c3f7fb2d9e4c50c0db0f1822268d158984048e7c6978ca9186623e5659fac_webI finished the race in 1:49:10 which was 7:17 faster than my PR from last December!

In my age group I didn’t do too badly: 8th out of 121!

All in all it was a fun weekend (except for a little fall on Sunday 😦 which I’ll write about tomorrow). Next up is the Ventura Marathon, October 22nd.

Saturday – Gratitude 8/26

It’s Saturday, so its long run day. We ran along the Ventura River today, a 10 mile up and back down. The workout was 2 miles easy, 3 miles at half marathon pace, 1 mile easy, 3 miles at half marathon pace, and the last mile easy. I think this was the hardest effort I’ve done on an uphill. I’m getting better here and look forward to doing it again.

I use Final Surge for my training and one thing I love is the ability to look a different parts of a workout…and to get summaries. Here is a bit of data:

Entire run

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 5.00.20 PM

First race pace segment (miles 3-5)

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 5.01.56 PM

Second race pace segment (miles 6-9)

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 5.02.57 PM

After our run, we (Scott, Megan, and me) went out to breakfast. By the time we actually ate, we could have called it lunch. This is typical for a Saturday.

Scott was then off to a Rams football game. Megan and I talked about seeing a movie but couldn’t find one. In honor of #nationaldogday we gave the chihuahuas baths… they would have preferred treats. She went home and I started looking at the hallway that I have been ignoring. (I’ve been removing 100 years of old paint from the trim, so that we can eventually paint).

Yesterday I did some hand sanding. Today I decided to make some progress with the random orbital sander. This works for large flat pieces and I’ll be using smaller sanders later. So, 30 minutes of taping plastic over doorways. Just over an hour of actual sanding, followed by about 45 minutes of cleaning up the mess. I think I’ve been putting off the project because sanding is so damn messy!

Unfortunately the most efficient sander is too big for the top
It’ll be nice to actually use this again.
Messy messy messy

Then a shower. And now I will sit down with a glass of wine and begin reading a new book.img_0461.jpg

Happy Saturday everyone. I’m thankful that I could do all this today!

How was your Saturday?

Thoughts while watching Boston – Gratitude 4/17

That’s a lot of water!


This morning, from the comfort of my living room,  I watched my first Boston Marathon. My thoughts were on my hope qualify to run it next year (I’ll be trying to shave off the 6 minutes I need to qualify May 28th). While watching I was surprised by the emotional effect of something so ordinary… the water table!

Yes. The water table. While watching I noticed the stacks of water cups, three or four layers! Having never run in a BIG race I’ve never seen so many cups stacked high on one table…and then multiplied by many tables. I told my husband, “look at all those cups!” The weird thing though, was the emotion that was distorting my voice. He’s used to me being a bit emotional at times…but water cups? Seriously?

Seriously. I thought about it a couple hours later as I did my own 8 miles for today and understood the significance of the water cups. Here’s the story…

My husband (middle) with our friends Steve and Michele. They and others from Our Redeemer have volunteered each year so far. No nearly as many cups as Boston!

Four years ago I heard a fellow pastor share how the members of her church worked at a water station for the Pasadena Marathon. I had been running for about 18 months and had just completed my first half marathon. I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if members of my church (Our Redeemer, Oxnard) could volunteer for a marathon?” Then I saw information about the Ventura Marathon to be held in September, coincidentally on a day we dedicate to volunteering in the community.

I think these were some of the early starters and we had no clue how busy it would become.

I recruited enough volunteers to fill one shift at one station. I didn’t know about signing up as a group, so I signed us all up as individuals. We’ve since figured this out and have volunteered at all four Ventura Marathon races. My part in the last three has been coordination up to race day, but not actually handing out water. Instead I run!

I still remember that first year, while giving cups of water to marathoners and half-marathoners. It was so much fun. It was so inspirational. That day, I decided that I would run the Ventura Marathon the next year… and I did.

At this point I wasn’t part of the local running community. My training was all found online. My goal for this first marathon was to finish…not last! I met these goals, but barely, coming in at 5:51:02…just 9 minutes before the deadline. This was among the hardest things I’ve ever done! Of course that was only until the next, and next, and next marathons. My May attempt to qualify for Boston will be my 6th in just under 3 years (I’ve also shaved 1 hour 37 minutes off that first time).

Would I have done a marathon anyway? Maybe. But the Ventura Marathon was my entry into the local running community and so will always be special to me. And it started with a table full of water!

Today I’m personally thankful for: all the members of the M26 Running Tribe; for my family becoming a “running family”; and for all those who volunteer at races.


Pretty Flowers – Gratitude 3/31

This rose bush is the fullest I’ve ever seen…a blessing from our rainy winter
These beauties bloom as bouquets. They are tucked into a spot on the side of the house.
On Wednesday evening a dear church member brought some beautiful roses from her garden to decorate the table for our potluck and discussion. I enjoyed seeing them, smelling them, and talking about their beauty. At one point I said, “I don’t have any roses yet.” Then upon further reflection I remembered that I haven’t been home saying, “before saying I don’t have any roses maybe I should look. Duh!” I looked and am sharing a couple photos of the beauty that is in my yard. 

In thinking about this, I wonder how often we assume we don’t have something, when all we need to do is investigate a little. I’m thinking of relationships, creativity, curiosity, perseverance… we have so much that graces our lives. When have you been surprised to discover something valuable you didn’t know you had?

Today I’m personally thankful for: beautiful flowers and their reminder of God’s creative work; for the reminder that I have so many resources to draw from; my kids who are running a half marathon with me tomorrow 😀🏃🏻‍♀️. 

Marseille – Gratitude 3/20

My daily thanksgiving had taken a break…not because I’m not thankful but because the time in Wittenberg was so busy that I didn’t have time to post.

Now I’m on vacation! Yesterday I ran my first race outside of California, the Marseille Half Marathon. After the race we enjoyed a wonderful cheese plate for lunch, then set out to tour the city. Eventually we found the correct bus to get to Notre Dame de la Garde. This was at the top of a big hill…the race went around this (thankfully not over it!).

I found a beautiful bronze cross in the gift shop. It has a beautiful blue stone that will forever remind me of the beautiful blue sea here in Marseille. In attempting to purchase it, none of the cashiers spoke English. Thankfully I thought to attempt the transaction in Spanish…it worked! 

Today I’m personally thankful for: a fun race yesterday; an action packed first day of vacation with Scott; and the helpfulness of speaking Spanish.

Looking up from the base.
What can I say, other than “beautiful!”
Scott the tourist…and representing the Ventura Marathon!
The large white building is the Velodrome and out hotel is next to it.
A beautiful cross!

Travel Day – Gratitude 3/3

Almost a year ago I thought, “why not?” and submitted an application to study at the Lutheran World Federation in Wittenberg. In September I received the invitation to a seminar for March 2017. Then, it seemed so far away…and with the inevitable passage of time, today is travel day. I’m excited for two weeks of study, followed by a week’s vacation and my first road race outside of California. I think I will also follow my coach’s advice and not watch any news of the travesty that is our national government.

Today I’m personally thankful for: the ability to travel; all those who are filling in for me at Our Redeemer while I’m gone; and all those who are diligently working to preserve our democracy.

The San Francisco Half Marathon, 2nd Half – A recap

This was my first destination race and my first really big (as in participants) race. My husband, son, daughter and I all ran, which is a really great family activity. You can choose from two half marathons, which basically means running either the first or second half of the marathon. We chose the second half which started in Golden Gate Park and finished at the Embarcadero. This was a very well organized race.

Before the race:

In April I injured the hamstring on my left leg and for the last few months I’ve been

Golden Gate Park

slowly getting better. In June I re-irritated it when running a 5k race. By the end of July I could say it was mostly better. But then, I tried too hard at a track workout and injured my right hamstring. Needless to say, I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to race. If it were just me, maybe I would have stayed home. But we all went for a bit of a vacation. As we drove the course I thought, “oh those hills, both up and down, are gonna hurt!” I fully anticipated needing to walk down the steepest grades to avoid pain.

My daughter, Megan in front of the starting area. She had a good race too!

First Third:

I very much enjoyed running through Golden Gate Park. I had decided that rather than focus on my injury, I’d just enjoy the scenery and it was beautiful. This ended up being a very good strategy. The race was uphill for the first 3-1/2 miles, which was a bit scary. Much to my surprise these miles passed rapidly and I did the best hill climbing ever (it helps that my chiropractor has me exercising my glutes, hamstrings, and hips every day!) Getting through the hills pain free was definitely a confidence booster.

Middle Section

SFM stop looking down
Seriously… if you ever see me running with my head down tell me to look up! I’ve been trying to correct this for so long it’s annoying to see a photo like this.

What goes up must come down and down we went, through the streets of San Francisco. Still focusing on the views I saw all kinds of cool people along the course. One homeless man was lying on a bus bench and shouting encouragement to the runners as they passed by. Runners gave lots of high-fives to police officers working the course. One man offered red vines (candy) to any who wanted to partake. Some of the downhills were steep, and much to my surprise I was able to run them. I almost witnessed a big collision as a runner decided to tackle the steep downhill as if it were a ski run. This was not the best idea because she ran right in front of a much faster runner. Lesson: never forget that there are runners coming up behind you.


Final Third:

SFM power shot
Still looking down a bit but I’m pretty sure I’m looking at the finish line.

This was the flattest part of the course and I had planned to try and run a steady 9:30 pace (and actually did a bit better). There were more spectators and I almost crashed into a woman who decided to ride her bicycle on to the course. Thankfully I saw her in time to stop running! Others who witnessed this near collision yelled at her.


In this section spectators offered beer, tequila, and watermelon. The best par was that I was able to slowly and steadily pass runners. I finished in 2:04:51 which is a new personal record.

Next year we’re doing the first half, followed by the full in two years… at least that’s the plan for now.

SFM approaching finish line