Race Recap: San Diego Craft Classic 

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Craft Classic San Diego race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

As stated in my Friday Feels blog, this was my first timing running a race in San Diego.  I, therefore, didn’t really now what to expect when I signed up for the Craft Classic half marathon.  Now that I’ve completed the race, I’m ready for more San Diego races and perhaps a relocation down to Southern California! 😉 

Our first stop upon arriving to San Diego was Road Runner Sports, the location of the race expo. Bib pick up was well organized, quick, and easy. My race swag included a pint glass, a racer back tank top, and a customized bib!


One of the things I was looking forward to about the race was the Green Flash Brewery beer at the finish line!


Since I was on a family vacation with the husband and two kids, they all got to join me at the expo. They enjoyed trying all the Nuun flavors and the Honey Stinger waffle and energy chew samples. 

Earlier in the week, while on Twitter, the Fat to Finish Line gang reached out to me and told me to stop by to say hi at the expo. So, that is just what I did! It was so wonderful to talk about weight loss (since I too have gone from fat to finish line) and Ragnar races. I have yet to do a Ragnar, but it is definitely on my bucket list. 


That evening, I prepared myself for my half marathon (as best as I could since I had recently taken a month off of running). One of the things I do in preparation for a race, is I lay out everything for a #flatrunner picture. 


The next morning, I woke up at 3:30am. My goal was to leave the hotel at 4:15am so I could catch a shuttle to the starting line at about 4:45am. (The shuttles ran from 4:30 – 5:30.) I ended up being right on time, got a front row view on the shuttle, and made it to the starting line with a little over an hour to spare!


I had the pleasure of meeting up with my fellow BibRave Pro ambassador, Mai, at the starting line.


I also got to meet up with some fellow ProCompression ambassadors too! 


In no time at all, it was time to line up at the starting line. There were two waves of runners: the under two hour group and the over two hour group. Maria and I waved goodbye as Mai and the other Pro ambassadors started in wave one. A little less than 1.5 years ago, I earned my half marathon PR of 1:52:32. I will get back there someday, but today was not the day. 

 

Maria and I ran together for the first couple of miles and then I began my walk/run intervals for the remainder of the course. Taking a month off of running really takes a toll on one’s ability to run. 😂 

The aid station at mile 3 was probably one of my favorites since they had popsicles! Yes, popsicles at 7am when you’re hot and sweaty are the BEST!


From that point on, the race was fairly uneventful. I had the 2:30 pacer come up behind me at about mile 6 and two thoughts came through my mind, “Ugh! Am I really that slow?! Hmmm… can I keep up with him?” Sadly, yes, I really was running that slowly and no, I was not able to keep up with him. Don’t be fooled by the smile on my face… yes, I was having fun, but my body was revolting against me! Side note: way to go 2:30 pacers! 


The next notable event happened sometime between miles 9 – 10. This is where we approached a monstrous hill. It was steep and long. This hill even has its own split on the race results! It’s the King of the Mountain split. The hill may not look that scary in the picture, but it was a beast! 


Slowly, but surely I finally made it to the finish line! I stocked up on some Honey Stinger waffles, filled up my water bottle, and made my way to the Green Flash beer garden. 


I walked around and took a few more pictures before heading back to the hotel. 


Interested in seeing more of the Craft Classic San Diego course? Be sure to check out my Craft Classic San Diego 2017 video! While you’re at it, please also subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking SUBSCRIBE. 

Overall, I’d highly recommend the Craft Classic San Diego race! You can read my full race review at BibRave.com and while you’re at it, read other reviews and/or write your own race reviews! 


Until next time,

A Different Kind of Race Recap

Why is this a different kind of race recap?  It’s because I wasn’t a runner during last night’s Davis Moonlight run.  Instead, I was a volunteer.  The best part about it all was that I had a BLAST!

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The evening started with Kelly picking me up at my house. The race was about an hour away.  We made it to the starting location with about an hour to spare.  Kelly needed to pick up her bib and I needed to check in to the volunteer tent.  She dawned her race bib and I, my bright neon vest.

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A race organizer quickly gathered myself and two other volunteers as he told us, “Follow me,” and made his way quickly down the bike path.  He told me my station was to tell the 10k runners to go right and the 10 mile / half marathoners to go straight. First, however, I was to stand about 100 yards from the finish line to help direct the kids to the finish line of the kids race.  It was so much fun to get to cheer all of the kids on as they bravely made their way to the finish!

Soon, it was back to my other post where I’d be for the next 2.5 hours!

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I was really surprised by the number of people who stopped to ask me race course questions.  Even though I ran this race last year, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really remember the course that much.  Not to mention, I am not familiar with the area.  People were asking me questions such as, “Do the runners run all the way down to Target?  Which direction is 5th street?  Where else can I cheer on the half marathoners?”  I did not have a course map on me and proved to not be very helpful with bystanders’ questions.

For the runners, however, I think I did a pretty good job of directing the blue colored bibs (10k runners) to the right and the red colored bibs (10 milers) / green colored bibs (half marathon runners) straight.  All of the aforementioned runners actually ran past me twice.  First, they ran south of me and then they ran north.  The first run by, Kelly captured this picture of me (be sure to pay close attention to the size of the 10k turn-off sign)…

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I captured these pictures of Kelly and Rachel as they ran past the first time.  I was very proud of them for braving the 100 degree heat!

While waiting for the runners to pass me for a second time, I enjoyed talking to some bystanders around me.  One gentleman walked up holding a delicious-looking piece of pizza.  My volunteer shift was from 6:30 – 9:30pm and I had not eaten dinner.  (Yes, not very smart on my part.)  With a salivating mouth I asked, “Where did you get that pizza?”  He pointed to a tent that was set up at the finish line about 150 yards away.  There were two teenage girls standing nearby.  I pulled out some cash and asked the girls if they’d be willing to go buy me a piece of pizza.  Fortunately, they obliged.  (I pulled off the pepperoni and enjoyed every last, delicious bite!)

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Not too long after enjoying my $5 piece of pizza, the first place 10k finisher came whizzing past as he made his way to the finish line.

I was very blessed to have been placed in a location with shade.  I brought two water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, a fan, and a spray bottle in preparation for the worst.  Fortunately, I didn’t need the fan at all since I was both in the shade and there was a breeze all evening long.  As the runners came past me for the second time, I decided to mist them.  Most runners were quite ecstatic and profusely thanked me.

Overall, I had a fantastic experience volunteering at the Davis Moonlight run.  There was one runner though who totally left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.  Remember when I told you to pay attention to the size of the 10k sign I was standing near?  Well, there was a 10k runner who somehow missed the turn-off, ran past me, and then came back my direction to make the correct turn.  As she did so, she proceeded to point to me while yelling, “Bad job!  I missed the turn!  Bad job!”

I was so taken aback by this woman for many reasons.  1) As a fellow runner, if I miss a huge, obvious turn off sign, I will laugh it off and place the blame on myself, not someone else.  2) She thought it was okay to point a finger at me and tell me I was doing a bad job. 3) How could she miss the turn off sign AND me pointing while telling all of the runners, “10k to the right”?  4) She was not vying for first place.  She was a middle-of-the-pack runner.

Sure, she was probably embarrassed, but that’s never an okay reason to place the blame on someone else for your own error.  What I learned from this woman was that words hurt.  Lift others up and never berate a race volunteer.

As I look back on this experience, I will choose to remember the positive.  I will remember my hands hurting from clapping so much as I cheered all the runners on.  I will remember the many runners who thanked me for volunteering, for my smiles, and for my misting.  I will remember the high fives and all of the inspiring runners I saw out on the course.

What are the phrases you enjoy volunteers shouting out to you during a run?  Have you ever volunteered at a race?  If so, what was your experience?  

Until next time,

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Race Recap: Utah Valley Marathon

This was my first time running in Utah and therefore was my first time running the Utah Valley Marathon. “Why did you pick this out-of-state race?” you may be asking. Well, I entered Michelle’s giveaway on her blog runningwithattitude.com and I won! After finding a $170 roundtrip flight to Utah, I was in!

I knew that it would be tight squeeze to catch my flight on Friday since this day also happened to be the last day of school.  Fortunately, students were dismissed at noon which gave me the time I needed to make my 1:50pm flight.  I, in fact, had enough time at the airport to enjoy a mushroom pizza and finish my final assignment for an online class I was taking through UC San Diego extension. (Does anyone else take a picture of where they have parked their car so they won’t forget?)

My flight to Utah was short, sweet, and uneventful.  Since it was such a short trip, I had just a carry on and my purse.  This allowed for quick exit once I arrived to Salt Lake City.  I picked up my rental car and made my way to the Utah Valley Marathon expo.  Sadly, my rental car smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke, that I had to stop and purchase an air freshener to help mask the stench.

Due to traffic, it took me a little over an hour to get to the Utah Valley Marathon expo in downtown Provo.  Once I arrived to the Utah Valley Convention Center, it was easy to locate the expo and pick up my bib & race packet.  This was the Utah Valley Marathon’s 10th anniversary and because of that each participant received a race jacket instead of a Tshirt. I still wanted a Tshirt to go along with my jacket, so I bought one at the expo. Speaking of the expo, it was organized, well stocked with great vendors, and had a great line up of speakers!

After leaving the expo, I enjoyed the views surrounding Provo, found a local vegan Mexican restaurant, and checked into my hotel.  My hotel wasn’t anything to rave about, but what do I expect when I book one of the cheapest hotels I can find?  The room looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned (there was still a towel hanging up in the bathroom) and the room felt as though it was 90 degrees!  I ran the window air conditioning unit all night, but it seemed to have little effect on the overall temperature of the room.

I could not get over how majestic the surrounding mountains looked!  I too live fairly close to the mountains in the Sacramento Valley, but not quite as close as Provo’s mountains. As I looked at the mountains I had the revelation, “I’m going to be running those mountains!”

I laid out my race gear, a pre-race routine, and tried to get some sleep since I knew my alarm was set for 2:30am. Yikes!

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The Utah Valley Marathon is a point to point course. Participants load up on buses that take them to the starting line. The bus service begins at 3am and the last bus leaves at 4:15am. I ended up getting on a bus at about 3:30am. I packed up all of my stuff and checked out of the hotel at about 3:15am.  As I took the following picture, my thought was, “Wow!  It’s early!”

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It took about 45 minutes to arrive to the starting line. Once at the starting line, I was delighted to see fire pits in an open field to huddle around to stay warm. There were probably a total of 20 fire pits scattered around an open field and there were volunteers who walked around to make sure everyone’s fires were still lit.


If you’re thinking about doing the Utah Valley Marathon, I recommend taking something warm to wear and/or wrap yourself in at the starting line to help you stay warm. I took a blanket with me to the starting line and was glad I did. At about 15 minutes until the race started, I shoved my blanket in my drop bag and handed it over to a race volunteer. (Yes, it was 48 degrees when I arrived to the starting line at 4:16am and it dropped to 39 degrees at 5:36am when the sun starting rising!)


Before I knew it, it was time for the race to start.  I lined up near the 5:30 fellow Beast Pacer because I knew that with the elevation lack of training, I’d be running pretty slow.  I, however, had no idea how slow I’d actually be going.  Right from the start my stomach didn’t feel right and I was having difficult catching my breath.  I checked my heart-rate on my Garmin Forerunner 235 and it wasn’t too terribly high.  I just couldn’t catch my breath.  At mile 4, I stopped to use the restroom, and again at mile 7, and again at mile 13.  I didn’t mind, however, because I was there to enjoy the views and have fun!

As for the course, it was probably one of the most scenic races I’ve ever ran! Bodies of water (including a waterfall), greenery, mountains, rock faces, etc. With such a wide variety of views, there’s bound to be an elevation change! The race started about about 6,200 ft. and ended at about 4,200 ft. My home is located at 60 ft. above sea level. To say that I was not trained to be running at elevation would be an understatement. Next time, I will train more and get some training in at a higher elevation.


Throughout the course, there were plenty of porta-potties, Cliff gels, water, Powerade, and enthusiastic volunteers. There were even frozen Otter Pops at about mile 24. That was the best tasting Otter Pop EVER!

One of many highlights of the course was meeting fellow Pro Compression ambassadors Stephanie and Holly at one of the final aid stations.  All three of us were wearing the June sock of the month.

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The Utah Valley Marathon’s finish line was one of the best I’ve seen. It was in the middle of University Ave., there were many people cheering, and there were Jamba Juice smoothies waiting for us once we crossed the finish line!  Fortunately, I had some cash in my Nathan hydration bottle because there were cinnamon rolls for sale at the finish line. #irunforcinnamonrolls


Overall, I’d highly recommend the Utah Valley Marathon. Hmm… I may even have to go back and run the race again sometime.  This race was extra special to me, as I mentioned on my Instagram post because it is the end of my running for a while. I’ll still be moving my body and exercising, but I’ve been ordered to not participate in any high impact workouts until further notice. The #utahvalleymarathon was my third full marathon for 2017 and my 15th lifetime marathon. It was an amazing, sole-filling, whirlwind of a weekend, but so worth it!

Do you have any upcoming races that you’re excited about?  If you’re looking for a race to sign up for, be sure to check out my discount page for codes to use for Rock ‘n’ Roll races, wine country half marathons, Rock ‘n’ Roll races, and more!

Check out my Utah Valley Marathon race review and others at BibRave.com

Find me on the socials: InstagramTwitter / Facebook / YouTube 

Be sure to “subscribe” to my YouTube channel so that you don’t miss out!

Until next time,

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Race Recap: Downtown River Run

The last weekend of April started with a drive to the biggest little city in the world, Reno, Nevada, for a gig pacing the Downtown River Run marathon. While crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I stopped to take in the incredible views of Donner Lake.


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Race Recap: Modesto Marathon (Part 2)

The morning of my 13th full marathon and my 33rd birthday had finally arrived!  My alarm went off at 5:15am to give me enough time to shower, get ready, and eat breakfast.  I toasted myself a piece of bread in the hotel’s continental breakfast area and added the peanut butter and bananas I had brought from home on top. For an added bonus, I drizzled on some honey too.  Sometimes my pre-marathon breakfast includes coffee, but this morning I decided to skip the coffee.  Instead, I added a caffeinated Nuun tablet to my water.

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Kelly and I drove over to the marathon start line, used the restroom, stretched, and took some pre-race pics.  I saw Daniell and went over to wish her “good luck” on her first full marathon!

Before lining up with our pace groups, Kelly and I said our good-byes since we knew we wouldn’t be seeing each other again until the end of the race.  On my wrist was a 4:25 pace band.  I was hoping for a 3 minute PR. I knew, however, that this would most likely not happen since I hadn’t been putting in the training for a PR.  I still decided to go for it and I lined up with the 4:22 pace group.

Both the marathon and the half marathon started at the same time, so intertwined with the marathon pace groups were also the half marathon pace groups.  As I was looking around I saw the 2:10 half marathon pacer and realized that it was fellow Beast Pacer, Stacy Anderson!  To help ease my nerves, I went over and started talking with her.

In no time at all, the National Anthem had been sung and we were off!  At first I stuck with Stacy, but then when the 4:22 full marathon group came up and passed Stacy within the first two miles, I decided to jump in with them.

A little after mile 2, we came up on our one and only hill, Mt. Modesto.  Yes, as you can tell in the picture below, this was not actually a hill.  Instead, this was an overpass.  Although this hill was nothing the first time around nor anything compared to Lake Tahoe’s elevation change, when coming up to it at mile 24, it seemed huge!  (More about mile 24 later.)

By mile 5, I needed to go to the bathroom.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have stopped to use the bathroom during a race.  I normally only stop if I think it’s going to be extremely uncomfortable and nearly impossible to hold it for the duration of the race.  This time around, it was both uncomfortable and nearly impossible to hold.

All of the port-a-potties I spotted within the next couple of miles were taken.  Finally, at the half marathon turn off I spotted a vacant port-a-potty and made a run for it.  I purposely did not stop my watch so that I could calculate how long my bathroom detour took.  I am proud to report that I was in and out of the “john” within only a few minutes.

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Now came the difficult part… catching back up to the pace group.  I picked up my pace and within a mile and a half I was able to spot the pace group about 100 yards in front of me.  I was able to hold that pace for a couple of miles, but by mile 13 I knew that I was not going to be able to hold the pace.

The turn around point for the full marathon was at mile 14.  As much as I don’t really care for out and back courses, there are some positives in regards to these types of races.  1) You are inspired by the faster runners ahead of you coming back your way. 2) You get to see the runners behind you and realize that you are not last.  (A side note about mile 14 aid station…  They were seriously SO sweet!  I was feeling quite down at this point and when they started to sing happy birthday to me as I ran through, I started crying.  Thank you mile 14 aid station for your sweet gesture!)

At about mile 15, I spotted Kelly on the other side.  Here’s the video she took of me….

Although I am “running” and give her a thumbs up, I am clearly not in high spirits. When Kelly asks, “How are you doing?”  I respond, “Ok.”

In reality, I was a mess.  I was kicking myself for not training more, kicking myself for thinking that I could possibly pull off a PR, and kicking myself for losing the pace group.  I was already a hot mess and this was only mile 15!

I turned off my running music playlist and turned on the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast instead hoping Kelly Roberts would have some words of wisdom for me.  As she spoke about her own struggles with trying to BQ, I started feeling a little better.  Soon I came up on the aid station at mile 19 and they were JUST what I needed!

When I first came into the aid station I asked, “Do you have scissors?”  All I wanted was to cut off my 4:25 pace band and burn it!  I could not stand to look at it any longer!  As I was ushered over to a man with scissors they saw my “it’s my birthday” sign on my back and asked, “It’s your birthday today?  Would you like a cupcake?”

A smile came across my face and I eagerly replied, “Yes!”  They then went on to explain that it was one of the volunteers’ birthday too so that’s why they had cupcakes.

I went over to him and said, “Happy birthday!  Can I get a picture with my birthday twin?” And with that, I was off with a cupcake in hand and a restored spirit.  (This was the BEST tasting cupcake EVER!)

At mile 20, the 4:52 pacer came up behind me.  (The 4:37 pacer had already passed me back at mile 17 or so.)  When I saw the 4:52 pacer come up behind me, a fire was lit.  I thought, “No!  I WILL cross that finish line in under hours!”  I was able to successfully stick with the 4:52 pacer until mile 23.

At mile 24, we came back to Mt. Modesto (the overpass).  I walked up the hill while texting Kelly to check on her.  At the top, I put my phone back in my SPIbelt (use code STEPHANIE17 for 15% off) and enjoyed the journey down Mt. Modesto!

One of the things that motivated me to keep going in the dark moments of the final few miles was 1) the thought of being done and sitting down 2) the idea of possibly placing first in my division, the Athena category (more about this in my moment) and 3) trying to stay in front of a fellow female runner who I thought was in the same Athena division.

“What is “Athena”?” you may be asking yourself.  As stated at Runner’s World.com, “The Athena (women’s) category weight cutoff ranges from 145 lbs to 160 lbs.”  Yes, that’s right.  Instead of being in a category based upon age, there are also categories based upon weight.  The Modesto Marathon set the weight minimum for the Athena division to 160 pounds.  I was excited for the chance to be in the Athena division because then I had a higher likelihood of earning a division award.  (Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that I am quite competitive.)

Yes, I actually had to get weighed at bib pick up to confirm that I indeed qualified for the Athena division.  When I went over to the health booth and said, “I am here to be weighed for the Athena division,” the women looked at me and replied, “You better hold on to your purse.”  She looked at me and assumed I weighed under 160.

I stepped on the scale and it read 162 pounds.  The women then commented, “That was close.”  In my mind I thought, “Close?  That’s not close.  160.2 pounds, now that’d be close!”  Instead, I took my sheet of paper that had my weight written on it stating that I qualified for the Athena division and I walked it over to the timing booth so they could officially change my division.

Am I a little disappointed to be labeled “Athena”.  Yes and no.  Yes, only because I have gained a little over 10 pounds over the last year.  No, because I have still maintained a 50 pound weight loss since 2012 and I run marathons.  I am strong!

Back to the marathon… I successfully stayed in front of the runner who I assumed I was racing against and I successfully crossed the finish line under 5 hours.  Yes, it was over 30 minutes slower than what I was hoping for, but I finished.  I raised my hands and face to the sky in gratitude to God.  He has brought me from couch potato to marathoner.  He has brought hope and joy to my life.  He continues to bless me with a body that can run.  With God all things are possible!

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Once I crossed the finish line, I grabbed some ice cold water, some chocolate milk, and some ice cream.  I then made my way slowly around the finishers area.  I checked my results via a computer and saw that I indeed came in first for the Athena division… yay!  (We won’t mention that I was first out of two.)  I collected my first place division award mug and sat down near the finish line waiting for Kelly.

Soon she too came across the finish line and in a much faster time than what she was expecting!  We took some finisher pictures and headed back to our hotel to shower.

Once we were all clean, we packed up our belongings, checked out of the hotel, and decided it was time for lunch.  We ate some well-deserved burgers and french fries, took one last picture, and began the two hour drive home.

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All in all it was an amazing birthday weekend!  Working the expo was SO much fun, spending time with Kelly was SO much fun, and I am now a 13 time marathoner!  Not every race is going to be a PR race and not every mile is going to be pretty.  There’s truth in the saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I will move on from the Modesto Marathon stronger knowing that in order to see improvements in my running, I must put in the training.  Now, on to the next race…