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Posts tagged ‘course best’

An inspiring 13.1 with See Jane Run


That moment when you realize that you’re going to have to go out of order on your race reports because you’re just so excited about the half marathon you did today? That’s happening now. Never happened to you? Too bad.

Today, I ran the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda. My PR streak is now officially over, standing at my 2:16:41 half from last weekend, but that’s OK. I had business with this specific Bay Area race course. I had a score to settle. For chocolate. And champagne.

In 2011, I ran See Jane Run as my third half marathon.

If I’m counting right, today marked my 19th try at the distance.

That first See Jane Run experience wasn’t exactly what I’d hope for. It wasn’t because the race was bad. Or the people. All of that was great. Amazing even.

I was just very ill prepared for my third half marathon. That was around the time I discovered moisture-wicking socks. And started wearing running clothes that weren’t made out of cotton. It was basically around the time I started taking running more seriously.

And you know what? I learned a lot of lessons that day. But I ended up walking most of the end of the course and being near tears at the finish. My official time was 2:42:16.


So I had a score to settle.


Note: The face of a woman with a score to settle. And a really bad selfie. You get my point.

I also knew two things: 1) It was going to be hot day. As in, an hour into the run it would be creeping into the 80-degree range. As in, I should run faster to avoid being struck down by the sun. 2) My legs were tired. After two record-setting half marathons in two weeks, they were, essentially, out of juice.

So what did I do? I lined up with the 2:15 pacer hoping for the best.

Probably not the greatest idea.

Let me go back to the beginning of the day.

My husband dropped me off at Washington Park around 7:15 a.m. I’m kind of a pro at this race, since I’d done it in 2011. And I don’t like to wait forever for bathrooms, plus I like my privacy, so I remembered the finish line wasn’t too far from the start. So I headed to the row of toilets I knew would be there.


Behold: Glorious portable toilets and only ONE person in line. This would change later when it seemed other ladies caught on to my clever “avoid the lines” plan.

Ten minutes before race start, I wandered back up to Washington Park where the pre-race aerobics were already in full swing. This is one of my favorite parts about the See Jane Run race.

Because you CANNOT go wrong with Cyndi Lauper-fueled warm ups. It was nearly time to start the race, so the half marathoners headed over to the corrals. I found myself way to close to the start, so I meandered my way back to the 2:15-2:20 groups.


Once there, I lined up the aforementioned 2:15 pacer. The race started promptly at 8 a.m. And we were off, with a slight downhill on the street toward the bay-front trail that would lead us around Alameda.

Mile 1: 10:06 — I could already tell it was getting warm. I was wearing a lightweight Lululemon shirt and my MPG capris (from See Jane Run in Oakland). No heavy clothes. I hung in with the pacer.

Mile 2: 10:37 — I literally got to the end of the second mile then my leg cramped up. My first thought: This is the end. I’m going to bonk this course again. I can’t bonk this course AGAIN!

Mile 3: 11:23 — Up and over a walk bridge leading to the second island. We hit a congested path, but it’s not too bad. I think the heat was more than anyone expected. “OH MY GOD, WE’RE RUNNING STRAIGHT INTO THE SUN,” a woman next to me said to her counterpart. Yes. It was going to be a hot one.

Mile 4: 10:33 — Gu. Feeling a little better. My left IT band, which I swear hates me with a passion lately, starts to show signs that it’s going to be fussy. Of course it’s going to be fussy on a day I have something to settle on a course. OF COURSE.

Mile 5: 10:57 — Then I made the conscious decision to slow it down. The 2:15 pacer was nowhere in my sight. This would not be the day to PR. I was going to make the most of this experience. And you know what? That’s when it started getting fun. I started chatting with women along the course. This is also where there were some trees…beautiful, amazing shade.

Mile 6: 10:49 — Picking it up again. Feeling a little better. Again, slowing it down.

Mile 7: 11:15 — I started walking more slowly through water stops. And pouring cups of water on my head. I would grab two cups of water just to throw on my head, then a cup of water to drink. And a Gatorade.

Mile 8: 10:40 — This was one of my favorite miles. It’s right along the shoreline. The air comes at you in a nice breeze. And you get an amazing view of San Francisco, the city I’ll be running 26.2 in next week barring my IT band doesn’t decide it really hates me. More Gu here.

Mile 9: 10:53 — Making our way back to the bridge crossing. I started talking to a couple women running their first half marathons. They said they weren’t prepared for the heat. I told them I wasn’t either. By now, even though I was hydrating well through the stations and hydrated well the day before, I was feeling really, really parched.

Mile 10: 11:30 — Back across the bridge, into the neighborhoods. I’m feeling better. Then I see the 2:20 pacer pass me. Yikes, I think. In March I ran Oakland in 2:20. I did another Gu. I also had a guy refill my water bottle and pour some water on my head again.

Mile 11: 11:15 — I picked it up a little, but by this time, the sun was baking me. I was getting tired. My leg hurt. My body was tired. I was spent. I started walking.

Mile 12: 11:14 — Then I got the greatest pick-me-up ever. The 2:25 pacer started encouraging me. “You’re almost there! You have this,” she said. Then we ran together for a minute or so. She told me my form was good and that I looked strong.

Mile 13: 11:18 —And those words of encouragement propelled me into the finish. Just like that.

Mile .18: 1.43 — I was exhausted, but incredibly happy. The moment I crossed the finish I was handed a super cute medal that has shoelaces as the band (see above). The actual “medal” is detachable, so you can hook it to your gym or running back, which I definitely think I’m going to do.

Official time: 2:24:11

And I’m honestly, totally fine with that. Because it’s a course best. Plus, it was really hot by the time I finished. I was hot nearly the entire way on the course. But I redeemed myself from my ill-prepared first journey on the See Jane Run course.

I also had a really, really good time.


Then I got See’s Candy and two glasses of champagne. Who can argue with that?

In case you’re wondering, my shirt was so drenched in water (and sweat … gross) that my husband brought me my bag with my race shirt in it. I promptly shed the very wet shirt and opted for the drier version to enjoy my chocolate and champagne.

I’ve always said I’m not a fan of big races. I’ve never much loved any race that welcomes more than 9,000 people to it. That’s one of the reasons I choose to race smaller ones, including the Oakland Half Marathon, California International Marathon and the San Luis Obispo Marathon.

That’s one of the reasons See Jane Run appealed to me when I registered for it in 2011. It’s not incredibly small, but it’s intimate enough to not feel overwhelmed. It also brings together an amazing group of women with a “go get it” attitude. That’s one of the reasons I signed up to be an ambassador this year. According to the results, 1,570 people finished the half marathon. It’s kind of like going for a run with a very large group of encouraging, fun friends.


Fun friends who have the same love of champagne as I do, as evidenced by the lengthy (yet quick moving) lines to fill up those awesome glasses that are part of the race rewards at the end. (On a side note, I will again say how impressive the medal is this year. Two years ago I heard women complain about how small the medal was, but I thought it was a more than fair tradeoff for the chocolate and champagne glass at the end. I was extremely impressed by the medal/glass combination this year. Plus the race tech shirt was high quality and well designed. You definitely get your money’s worth with See Jane Run.)

Today, I could be dwelling about how I didn’t get that 2:15 personal record. Instead, I’m glad to be part of a group of women who pushed through some ridiculous Bay Area heat and battled the sun to have an epic good time. (And women who pushed me to the end when I was ready to give up and walk it in.)



I also got to partake in the views, minus the trash cans in the first image, before heading home. Today was a good day. It was a win in my book.

Even better, my race bib scored my husband (and race driver) a buy one, get one deal at Chipotle, one of the race sponsors. You better believe we took advantage of that.


Chicken burrito. Yum.

See Jane Run’s manifesto states that one person finishes…everyone else should have a good time. I don’t think that’s anywhere more obvious than on the course with 1,500-plus other women who are helping push each other to their goals. So to celebrate, I bought myself a “course PR” shirt. Or at least that’s how I justified it. (I don’t really NEED a reason to shop, but it’s good to have one.)



I’m wearing it now — proud to be a part of what happened in Alameda today, proud of myself for hanging in there with tired legs under a sweltering sun and proud to be am ambassador for an organization that promotes running for all types of women. Especially all the women I had a “rockin good time” with today on the 13.1 mile course.

(Disclaimer: As a See Jane Run Ambassador I was given free entry to this race, but the views reflected in this blog are my own.)

Luck of the Irish comes into play at 10K


Last year at about this time, I was writing about how this same race didn’t go as well as I thought it would. I’ve never sure how to approach trail races. I used to spend more time running trails. As I started training for one marathon, then another and then another, I moved away from that more leisure-like activity.

I’m joking, of course. It’s not leisurely at all.

Trails mean business.

And this trail was no exception.

It includes 400 feet of climbing in the course of a mile. Then more climbing. The first climb is a series of switchbacks that wreak havoc of every bone in your body on the way up. The first down is a quad destroyer.

The Badger Cove trail isn’t even one of Brazen’s toughest.

Last year, I was over the top anxious about this 10K. On Saturday, I was mostly fine. My husband had to work, so I packed up my belongings and drove myself to Livermore’s Del Valle State Recreation Area. The drive was about 30-minutes. I parked, thanks to a pre-paid parking pass sent over days before via email by Brazen Racing, and headed over to the sign-in area.


There was a lot of green. I normally don’t take photos of people’s butts or backsides for that matter, but this kind of illustrated the sea of green that was everywhere along the trail.

I headed back to my car after using the portable toilet. I warmed up a little, but mostly just looked through my goodie bag. About thirty minutes beforehand, I decided to head back over to the start and use the real toilets, which were a little bit of a walk away.


I walked by as the half marathoners were preparing to head out, 25 minutes before the 10K group.

It was chilly, but manageable. I didn’t need a long-sleeve shirt. In fact, I wore one of my only green shirts, a Nike Dri-Fit Cotton one from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in 2011. (Does that seem like a long time ago to anyone else? To me, lately, it does.)

It was a peaceful, beautiful morning in general.


That view right there? That’s the reason to do trail runs. You get to spend more than an hour looking at hills and beautiful bodies of water. Plus, Brazen doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for races so you can do so for a good price, with a lot of support. (You can also run the trails for just the price of parking for free, but the support is amazing to have.)

I lined up for the start at about 8:20 a.m.

I held my arm close to me. I was afraid of getting bumped. And right when I thought everything would be OK, a guy walked by me and hit my shoulder. It stung a little. I think if I hadn’t had been so chilled, I would have likely been more hurt by it.

At 8:25 a.m., we took off.

Mile 1: 10:41 — I was worried about my calves cramping, as they have done quite a bit lately. I tried to hold the speed down to not aggravate whatever problems I’m having with my legs. A little bit of an uphill in this mile, but mostly the distance served to take us from the paved park to the trails.

Mile 2: 11:36 — Mostly flat, some small hills. We start the single-track area around here, which always causes some slowdowns, especially when people start to walk on the uphills. No problems here, the surface is getting choppy.

Mile 3: 14:10 — This may seem like a ridiculous pace for a mile, but this one is all uphill. It’s a battle. Switchbacks. Panting. Craziness. And yet, I took about two minutes off my time on here last from last year. I just kept moving. I never wanted to give up. I just wanted to move and keep going. When I finished this mile I was so happy, if only because I knew I had knocked a significant amount of time off that mile from last year.

I started to think that maybe I could come in quicker than last year.

Mile 4: 12:31 — Beginning of the significant downhills here. Normally I’m a little less cautious when descending, but for this particular run I had decided that I was going to take it slow, very cautiously. If I fell, I had no way to really pick myself back up. If I fell and hurt my right arm, I’d really be in a mess. I kept it nice and slow heading down, and then cautious when the hills started again.

Mile 5: 14:05 — One significant uphill here. I noticed the time and was wondering how bad I was doing there. It turns out I wasn’t doing that bad. I ran a 16:05 on that mile last year. I was doing significantly better now. But I didn’t know that then.

This was also the point where I was heading down a hill an suddenly felt like I was losing control. I can’t describe it other that it was like knowing that I had to stop, but not having the breaks to do so. I was scared for a minute. I thought of myself flying straight into a bush or, worse, a tree. If the trail hadn’t had made a quick turn uphill, I thought I would have just flown down a hill. That uphill gave me back the control I had lost.

I stopped and walked for a couple minutes after that. I was kind of scared. And, at that point, my arm had tensed up so much that it really, really hurt.


Mile 6: 11:15 — We start coming down from the hills an back to the flat trail path. I start thinking I can possibly come in a little under. I’m not really paying attention to the exact time, but when I see how far under last year’s time (1:26:53) and I realized it had been an amazing run.

Mile .42: 4:02 — At that point, I really started to push. I don’t know why at that sudden spot I did, but I just wanted to be done. My legs were tired. My arm hurt.


Around the corner and into the finisher’s shoot, where I was handed my very colorful rainbow medal with a badger on it (see beginning of this post).

I walked through a tent area and turned around to see what I would consider a Brazen pot of gold.


All the medals! The rest of these were waiting for other finishers to claim. I thought it was kind of fitting.

My final time: 1:18:13

I can’t even begin to say how proud I am of that time. It’s probably my best trail-run showing to date. It kind of makes me want to sign up for more, but I have a couple marathons I need to finish before I can head back out for the views.

Why am I running better? I don’t know exactly. It could be both mental and physical reasons. I know that I feel a lot better since the gallbladder removal. I know that I no longer have nagging abdominal pain or discomfort when I run. But maybe it’s also because I’m running a lot lighter lately. Not as many worries. A lot more happiness.

There’s a lot of good at the end of my rainbow right now.


I keep surprising myself


This morning I woke up, calm, ready to head to Livermore and do my first official 10K in a full year. I didn’t believe it either when I realized, today, that the last time I ran a 10K was this same race, a year ago.

I’ve a couple shorter distances in that time, but I knew this was the first in a year when I opened the pocket on the water bottle and saw that I had the map from last’s year Badger Cove run tucked into it. I only use the bottle, a small Lululemon for Amphipod one, for 10Ks.

Last year I ran Badger Cover, with all it’s crazy elevation changes and switch backs in 1:26:41. I wasn’t too upset about my time for that one because I knew it would be tough. I also remember the nagging side pain I got during the greatest climb that caused me to keel over on the side of the trail and feel like I was dying.

We know now that was the gallbladder. This year, it’s gone.

And I’m better than I thought I could ever be, even with tired legs and a bit of a dehydration/potassium deficiency as of late. That’s why my calves have been hurting me so much lately. Three bottles of water yesterday and a potassium supplement and this morning I was good to go.

Today, I finished the Badger Cove 10K in 1:18:13, according to the results posted before I left.

When I left my house this morning, my arm felt more stiff than it had last night. I popped an Ibuprofen, for lack of not being able to find a Tylenol, and was out the door. It didn’t take the edge off. At the start line, a guy brushed by my left arm and made me cringe. I’m considering writing “I have a fractured arm” on my head.

But I started running. And I forgot about my arm. At least for most of the race.

I don’t know who this version of me is and what business she has earning two course PRs in less than a month, but something has lit a fire inside me. And I like it.

Rockin’ to a course best in Pasadena: Part II


I left off my last post eluding to what a night Sam and I had. Last year, I kept getting woken up by some annoying children in a room above us. When I booked this year’s hotel, I didn’t want to stay at that place again. It had paper-thin walls. I didn’t know when I booked this year’s hotel that it was, essentially, right across the street.

We went to bed around 10 p.m. because we had to wake up at 4:30 a.m.

Yes, that early. I felt like I was running the first half of the San Francisco Marathon all over again. Way to early. But we were told to get to the Rose Bowl by 5:15 a.m. even though the race didn’t start until 7:30 a.m.

We were tired. I figured we’d go to sleep pretty fast. That didn’t happen. We kept hearing screaming downstairs, people basically yelling things like “woo!” and other crap. I’m not kidding with the “woo!” it was so annoying. I think both of us literally got only four hours of sleep by the time our alarms went off.

We rolled out of bed and were rather efficient in getting up and out early. Our drive was less than five miles. We were there, trekking down the hill into the Rose Bowl parking lots before most other cars did.

Our reward for getting there so early? An awesome parking spot.


We were literally less than 100 yards from the starting corrals. Plus we were right across from a row of portable toilets. (Is it weird that I thought this was a pretty sight? The Rose Bowl sign in the background and all the portable toilets.)

It was a nice enough spot that we stayed in the car for about an hour. We kept the heater running and just kind of hung out as everyone walked by. At about 6:30 a.m. we decided it was time to check out the pre-race snacks and head to the portable toilets were knew were clean.


It wasn’t as crazy as last year, when I swear there weren’t as many porto-potties. But the morning was really, really cold.

I opted not to wear a long-sleeve shirt because I knew I’d end up taking if off. So I was freezing cold walking around. I was jumping up and down and even slightly running in order to get warm again.


The ground was still frozen when Sam and I headed to check out the banana booth. Bagels were also being handed out. I grabbed a small water. Sam took a banana, which she only ate half of.

As she was folding it up, a woman walked by and said: “Oh…save that for later, after you start the run!” We both kind of looked at each other and wondered where Sam was supposed to “save it for later.”

She figured out a way, tucked into the new water belt she bought at the expo the day before.


We were sure it would fall out though, so she just threw the rest of it away. (Sorry people who think that’s wasteful.)

By the time we finished going to the bathroom and getting fueled up, which included my pre-race Vanilla Bean Gu, it was time to hit the corral. We both worked our way over to corral six, which was the 2:20 corral. When I signed up I had no idea I’d be having my gallbladder removed only five weeks before.

The day was going decent so far.


After the National Anthem and some other talk, the start line began moving exactly at 7:30 a.m. It was then I realized I had to go to the bathroom again. I’m not even kidding. The anxiety had gotten to me as it had previously. And I had nowhere to go but out of the shoot, since the corrals were being released every two minutes.


That’s how far back we were initially. We’d be up there within minutes. Not enough time for me to go. So I decided to start the race and figure it out on the way, meaning I’d find another blue-wonder porto-potty along the run.

And that’s how I started the run.

Mile 1: 10:13 — Starting out strong and didn’t feel like I was going this fast. Maybe it was because I had to go to the bathroom, but I kind of kept going. I jammed up the first hill, which I thought was a bit of a monster last year. We hit a mile at about the top of the hill.

Mile 2: 11:42 — I actually didn’t slow down my mile pace here. I found a bathroom. I actually commandeered it, only the second time I’ve ever done so. I didn’t feel bad about it this time either. There were two rows of bathrooms, four on the front, hour on the back. There was also a portable toilet set up for persons with disability. No one was in the toilets on the back. So I grabbed one. It probably added about a minute or so onto my time, but I had to go. And I got a toilet without waiting. Score.

Mile 3: 11:19 — The largest hill here. I ran up it most the way, slowing down a little to stay consistent.

Mile 4: 10:28 — The start of another downhill. Still feeling good.

Mile 5: 10:24 — Getting consistent now. No issues. Not feeling tired. Downed another Vanilla Bean Gu right here.

Mile 6: 10:33 — Starting to really see the time I was running. I wondered if I should keep pushing it, or if I should pull back a little. This was also the start of the later out and backs that then take runners back to the main street.

Mile 7: 11:27 — Decided to pull back a little. I start getting a twitch in my ITB band on my right side. I wondered if that would be the end of the good run.

Mile 8: 11:04 — Still feeling really good despite some more hills. Not too bad.

Mile 9: 12:21 — The worst of the hills. I slowed down a little bit. A huge hill. I walked up the last little bit to the top. I was starting to get tired. I downed another Gu. I was really in need of water.

Mile 10: 11:08 — This mile was mostly downhill, but I was trying to be conservative in my approach. I didn’t want my leg to give up on me like it did last year in mile 10 of this run.

Mile 11: —12:30 — Then I hit the WALL. I rarely hit the wall in half marathons these days. But I hit it hard here. I could see the finish line as we started around the Rose Bowl and adjacent golf course. This is also where I started to experience a little bit of the dizzy spells I’ve been having since the surgery, just generally feeling off center.

Mile 12: 13:04 — Which let to me running into a woman en route to finishing this mile. I actually didn’t really run into her as much as body checking her. I was so embarrassed. I nearly took her out with me. I had a moment where I nearly collapsed. She grabbed my arm and asked: “Are you OK?” I put myself back together and explained I had surgery weeks before and still wasn’t feeling very stable on long runs. “Should you even be running?” she asked, surprised. “I’m at mile 11, so I’m doing OK.”

Then I ran off. So if you are the lady who was concerned about the slightly drunk-looking runner in mile 12, I’m sorry. I wasn’t drunk. I just run off centered lately and tend to veer toward the right side. Forgive me. I felt bad long after that.

Mile 13: 10:14 — And then I found something in me that I’d lost for about a year. I found a will to continue, despite the pain and slight confusion. I was so “on.” I kept saying: “Run, Tara, just run.” And I ran. And I passed the 2:30 pacers. And suddenly it wasn’t about “just finishing” anymore. It was about getting in under my time from last year.

Mile .21: 2:04 (9:51 pace) — I high-tailed it up the hill and ran down the shoot and looked at my time. I managed to cut off 20 minutes from my time last year. That’s huge.

Official time: 2:28:21

Garmin time: 2:28:36

And my first thought: What the hell just happened?

I walked through the finishers corral, picked up all the fun drinks and snacks and made my way back to the closely-parked car. I figured I’d get a bag so that Sam and I had a place to put everything when she finished.

I called my husband. I told him about the run.

Then I went and sat down by the “G” marker, for other reason than that’s just where I wanted to sit.


That’s where I drank my fat free chocolate milk and pondered how in five weeks I’d got from being in a hospital bed to running one of the best half marathons of my life.

And because it was one of the best half marathons of my life, I broke my self-imposed rule about buying running clothes, with my husband’s blessing of course.


So what happened in those five weeks. A lot. Everything. I went from self-loathing to being confident. I also realized that I had it in me all along. Somewhere in the ridiculous journey of the past five months, I’ve realized that I’m stronger than I think. And I’m better at running than I gave myself credit for.

Pasadena wasn’t supposed to be my “A” race, but I’m comfortable kind of letting it be for a minute. Oakland was my new “A” race even though it’s only two weeks before I run a marathon in April. Sometimes we surprised ourselves with just how much we want something.

I wanted this race. I needed this race to prove that after all the work-related crap, I was just as strong, if not stronger, than I was before it all happened. My friend Jennie tells me bad things happen for a reason. She believe my reason is to prepare me for something better. Nowhere did I feel that more than sitting under the “G” sign in Pasadena after finishing a half marathon I had no business running five weeks after having an organ removed.

But it felt amazing.

To top it off, Sam and I checked out the Far East Movement playing at the end of the run.

I’m not a huge fan, but they put on a pretty good show. We got back to our hotel by the noon hour where we quickly showered than jumped back into my car to head back to Northern California.

I wasn’t expecting it to go as well as it did, if only because last year was a disaster and the scars from the surgery are still bright red and fresh. But Pasadena turned into a redeeming run for me. Now it’s time to train for the flatter, faster Oakland.