12.31.02 - Washington Resolution Run
01.19.03 - San Diego Marathon
07.13.03 - Tri For Real #2
10.23.05 - Nike Women's Half Marathon
11.23.06 - Sparks Turkey Trot
05.05.07 - Marathon de Mayo (Half)
05.13.07 - Moms on the Run
10.??.07 - Nike Women's Half Marathon
05.10.08 - Moms on the Run
06.21.09 - Pleasanton Spirit 5K
07.29.09 - San Francisco Half Marathon
10.04.09 - SJ Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon
10.18.09 - Nike Women's Half Marathon
11.01.09 - New York Marathon
11.26.09 - Spark's Turkey Trot 10K
02.20.10 - Bay Breeze Half Marathon
03.14.10 - Shamrock 'N Half Marathon
03.21.10 - LA Marathon
03.27.10 - Scheel's Fanatic 5K
04.25.10 - Marin County Half Marathon
05.02.10 - Reno Rock 'N River Half Marathon
06.05.10 - See Jane Run Half Marathon
07.25.10 - San Francisco Half Marathon
09.05.10 - Pier to Peak Half Marathon
10.10.10 - Chicago Marathon
10.30.10 - Healdsburg Half Marathon
11.07.10 - U.S. Half Marathon
11.25.10 - Scheel's Turkey Trot 10K
02.06.11 - Surf City Half Marathon
03.13.11 - Dublin Shamrock 5K
04.18.11 - Boston Marathon
05.01.11 - Big Sur Marathon
06.11.11 - Lake Tahoe Relay
07.31.11 - San Francisco Half Marathon
09.11.11 - Walnut Festival Run 5K
09.18.11 - NorCal Half Marathon
11.24.11 - Scheel's Turkey Trot
12.03.11 - Las Vegas Santa Suit 5K
12.04.11 - Las Vegas Half Marathon
03.11.12 - South Bay Duathlon
03.25.12 - Oakland Half Marathon
05.20.12 - Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon
06.24.12 - Silicon Valley Intl. Triathlon
07.15.12 - Ironman 70.3 Vineman Triathlon
03.09.13 - Lucky 13 Half Marathon
04.28.13 - Eugene Half Marathon
05.11.13 - Folsom International Triathlon
06.23.13 - Ironman Coeur d'Alene
11.02.13 - Silver Falls Half Marathon
11.15.13 - Mt. Tam Half Marathon
11.28.13 - Scheel's Turkey Trot
5k:19:17 @ Dublin Shamrock 5k 2011
10k: 41:01 @ Scheel's Turkey Trot 2010
Half:1:30:07 @ Oakland Half 2012
Full: 3:12:57 @ CA Int'l Marathon (CIM) 2013
70.3: 5:20:07 @ Vineman 2012
140.6: 12:14:21 @ Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2013
Tag Archives: race
My first trail race experience was nothing but waterfalls and oozing mush for all things trail running. No exaggeration.
But I suppose it was only a matter of time before the trails put me in my place and said, “Hey listen up you road-running noob, we still have some serious initiation to do.” And like that, I was tested.
My travel schedule to Portland and the Bay Area has been a bit chaotic lately for both personal and work reasons. I was in San Francisco all this week for work and managed to tack on some personal time with the husband this weekend. When Jojo mentioned the Mt. Tam 50Ka> that she was running and that there were shorter race options, Chicken Face and I decided to stay true to our resolution and say yes to another new adventure.
Despite his cold and my throbbing leg (don’t ask), we hopped in the Westy and made our way to Stintson beach for the race start. He would be tackling the 10K and his first-ever trail race and I decided to do the half-marathon (my training plan called for 14-18, but McMillan said I could go for it).
As a trail running newbie, I can look at this elevation profile and confidently say that this is more hill climbing than my pavement-loving legs have ever handled while proceeding at a pace that is faster than a walk.
Did I know if this is considered a “tough” course? A “shit-ton” of climbing? Or was this pretty standard in the books of seasoned trail runners? I have no idea and I don’t really care. To me, it’s a lot. Regardless, I knew that this was just going to be a beautiful training run. I said goodbye to Chicken Face, wished him luck on his own adventure, and made my way with the pack.
The course was gorgeous, in fact, it felt like a little piece of Oregon tucked right within California, but with stunning views of the ocean mixed in. But this race recap isn’t about the views, but about the challenge.
The course itself was just as expected, you were either going up, up, up, or straight down. Hell, you even climbed a ladder at one point. A LADDER! My heart rate was in for a shock and I realized that the trail race I did a couple of weeks ago was a cake walk compared to this. I happily waited to the right for other to pass me.
Not only was the elevation challenging, but the funny thing is, you actually have to pay attention while trail running. The horror! I’m used to mindlessly following huge signs and cheering crowds, not being on the lookout for yellow ribbons, then orange ribbons, then yellow ribbons again, avoid the blue ribbons, don’t follow the pink ribbons, and if you get lost, you’re on your own.
Well shit. This whole “paying attention to directions thing” should have been my first warning because if you’ve ever met me, you know that directions and I don’t play well together.
So there I was, climbing, climbing, climbing, wondering when this climb would be over. All I saw were pink ribbons and after what felt like forever, I finally realized something wasn’t right. I managed to ask someone if they had seen any orange ribbons, when they quickly told me, “Oh honey, you missed that a while ago. The turn was back down and a ways back from the climb.” Lovely.
I grumbled profanities and made my way back down the hill only to find a fellow half-marathoner who had a similar fate. We both managed to miss the 8.5″x11″ sign with the orange arrow. Soon, I had made a new friend and we were both laughing about how idiotic we were for missing the turn, while making loops in and around the Muir Woods trying to figure out where the hell to go. I pulled out my phone to see if a map would help (it didn’t), so instead I snapped this: OH MY GOD WE’RE COMPLETELY LOST selfie:
Luis soon spotted some park rangers who said, “We thought you were lost. Orange is at the end of the road that way…” The opposite direction in which we were running.
We continued to chuckle and when we finally found our orange arrow destiny, we rejoiced and figured that we probably added on around two additional miles. No longer were we in the half marathon game, but the “let’s just finish” game.
I soon parted ways with Luis with a new goal of just to get to an aid station. I didn’t have anything with me as I thought it was just a half and there would be plenty of aid stations along the way. I was wrong. There was only one aid station that you would visit once at mile 3 and mile 10 (which would be my mile 12+ by the time I reached it again). Trail running isn’t like normal road running where I can run 13 miles with minimal water or fuel, I needed something to drink and eat stat.
I could feel my legs getting wobbly and tired, and I rolled my bad ankle twice. Thankfully, it survived and I was a bit of a grumpy mess just wanting to get food and get done. Chicken Face would be waiting for me at the end and he would surely be wondering what happened.
I just ran and tried to take in the scenery because it truly was gorgeous, but the hanger was consuming me. When I finally reached the aid station I grabbed some fluids and bits of a PB&J. It didn’t take much, but it was just enough to give my the energy I had been longing for.
I made my way to the finish, just trucking along, going back down all of the stairs we had climbed up, making friends with the other women around me. As I was approaching the final miles, I caught my foot on a rock in the middle of the trail and completely ate it, sliding down my left side. Thankfully, I was able to pick myself back up and the girl behind me joked and said, “It will be our secret.”
I later realized that the fall took a bit of my dignity as well as my favorite sunglasses. I leared that sunglesses were unnecessary/unsafe in the shade so I tucket them in my shirt. When I fell, they must have flown off without me realizing it and now my favorite, and only, running glasses were gone forever. Ugh. Is this race over yet?
I ran into the finish line, saw Chicken Face and started shouting, “I got completely lost for two miles!”
I crossed the finish line not knowing, or caring at all, what my time was. I was just happy to be done.
If I had to recap the course itself, I’d tell you that the beauty will not disappoint, nor will the challenge. Chicken Face said he was humbled by his 10K and the views were worth all of the climbing. Plus, I was so proud of Chicken Face for going along with another crazy idea and tackling his first trail race.
If I had to recap my personal experience, I’d say I have a lot of work to do. I have no idea how to handle running the descents, I need to learn how to fuel differently and properly for trail running, and my legs, well they just have a lot of work to do in order to be able to handle the trails.
Post-race, Chicken Face and I went to the beach where we took a nap together on the sand. And that, my friends, made it all worth it.
I thought running and cycling had taken me to great places. It’s one of the reasons I love the two sports so much: seeing and experiencing new things.
But what I once thought was amazing was completely upstaged by this past weekend’s half marathon. The Silver Falls Half Marathon in Silverton, Oregon was not only my first race in Oregon and my first trail race EVER, but is quite possibly be the most stunning place I have ever run. So much so that I couldn’t stop audibly screaming, “THIS IS AMAZING!” True story.
I feel like I stumbled upon one of this country’s best kept secrets because this half marathon was a stunning trail run where you run right next to/behind THREE waterfalls, the race directors did a great job at keeping it organized, there was a beer stop along the way and wait for it… it’s only $35. Let’s start from the beginning…
When I moved to Oregon, one of the first things I did was start researching the local running and tri scene. Along with said research came the “Liking” of multiple Oregon/running Facebook pages so I could attempt to be in the know. One random night, I’m perusing Facebook and I see a post from a local running page that registration for the Silver Falls Half Marathon opened the following morning and that people better set their alarm clocks because it was going to sell out fast. After glancing at the post’s comments, you could immediately tell that his race was a local secret and a would sell out quickly.
They weren’t joking…the race sold out in less than 10 minutes the following morning. Good thing my type-A, obsessed self set my alarm clock early and was able to register.
Fast forward a couple months to this past weekend. Chicken Face was in town and we made the 90 minute drive to Silverton. To be totally honest, I was nervous. Not because of the distance, but because it was my first trail race ever and it was raining. I was scared the trail newbie in me wouldn’t know how to properly navigate the terrain and would end up rolling and re-injuring my ankle. As a compromise, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t race it, but rather just take it easy and enjoy the scenery. And I’m proud to say that is exactly what I did.
Alisa, Jen, Penny and I
I’ll spare you the mile by mile pace and course recap (see more course details here) but will tell you this…
It started out fast on some paved roads and winding through trees and jumping puddles.
I ditched my jacket and gloves at mile three when I saw Chicken Face, Jen and Alisa.
We then headed up the hills where the rain started and the legs had to get in their climbing mode.
I kept looking all around me to take in the scenery, but had to remind myself to look at the ground. Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.
As you approach the first waterfall you just think, “Wow.” You then run behind it, into this dark cave-like area where you can’t see much. I walked so I wouldn’t eat it and simply thought that this moment was unreal.
You continue to run through what feels like a thick red and yellow forest with more of nature’s beauty surrounding you on all sides. It’s isn’t long before you reach the second waterfall. For a moment, I thought this was too beautiful to be real. You feel like you’re in some world that Disney dreamed up.
Deer in the headlights. But whoa.
I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to tell Chicken Face. I wish he could see this!” The boom. a THIRD, jaw-dropping waterfall that we ran behind. Up and down stairs, behind water, and up another hill and I thought I heard people cheering for me.
Keeping it slow and steady, I made my way up to a top of another hill when I saw Chicken Face and Jen again. As I reached the top and saw them, I scream, “This is F***ing AWESOME.” They laughed and I just said it was so, so beautiful.
With 3.1 miles to go, I made may way to what they call “Nutcracker Hill.” Jen’s husband had warned me about this giant climb at the very end of the race and people feared it for obvious reasons. But as I made my way up the hill, I approached it like cycling: slow down, spin the legs and just keep chugging. Because I wasn’t racing, I just enjoyed the small climb and then the steep descent back down (side note: I’m horrible on the descent because I’m purely afraid I’ll fall).
I made my way across the grass, saw friends along the way and then cross the finish line realizing that what just happened back there changed me as an athlete forever.
3/44 AG / 11th Female Overall
As you can tell, I’m having a crazy love affair with this race. But more than that, it was a confirmation of the transition that I’m seeing many road runners make these days: from road to trail. There’s something about being lost in the mileage not because you’re lost in the music in your head or the pound of your feet on the trail, but because you’re completely enamored by your surroundings.
It’s like that one saying goes, “The more you see, the less you know.” The more I push myself to try new sports and go new place, the more I realize that I still have so much more to learn, explore and fall in love with. I’m excited to take on new adventures in running, triathlon and in life… thanks Silver Falls for reminding me of this.
Full of gusto, I made my way out of T2 to run 26.2 miles. If you’re noticing a theme, it’s not an accident or an exaggeration. I was happy the entire day and every time I transitioned into the next sport, I got even happier (yes, it’s possible).
I was on to my favorite and strongest of the three sports, but truth be told, I haven’t run a full marathon since the 2011 Boston Marathon. I had multiple 20 mile runs in this training cycle, but 26.2 miles after 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of cycling – now that was going to be a different story.
I immediately popped some salt/electrolyte pills and started my first Gu. My Gu intake isn’t like most people’s, I slowly work at it over 20 minutes or so rather than taking it in all at once. Thus, I’m usually always holding something sticky in race photos.
I ran, waved to my family, fed off of the crowd’s energy and simply put one foot in front of the other. I was running a marathon!
The IMCDA run course essentially repeats part of the cycling course, consisting of two out and backs. Wait, what’s that? It repeats part of the cycling course? Then that can only mean one thing…HILLS! It wasn’t long until we met those hills and I changed my game: short strides, pump the arms, relax the face, and don’t try charging up it as it would only waste valuable energy.
The first loop felt like long hill, a bit of flat, another long hill, a bit of flat, all repeated over and over until the turnaround at the top. It felt completely manageable as I just ran as to how I felt comfortable, stuck with my fueling plan of one Gu every 45 minutes and only stopped at a bathroom once. I made my way back downtown and once again saw Chicken Face cheering me on – he’s the best!
As I turned back around to start the second loop, that’s where it started to set in. Mentally, I knew how much climbing I had ahead of me, my body was starting to really feel the fatigue and it was time to pull both my mental and physical game together. With no choice but to buckle down and get ‘er done, I ran…or whatever you call a brisk cadence of left-right-left-right.
I stopped at the run special needs bag to get more salt pills and soon started another round of hills. When I met the first real climb, I knew that this second loop was going to be a different game. I pushed for as long as I could, but I knew I didn’t want to unnecessarily waste energy, so I walked a bit of the hill. I would take every sponge, run through every hose and smile at everyone who would give me a “woot!” I heard people say, “Nice pace!” and “Looking strong!” and whether or not they knew what they were talking about, every single positive comment fueled my mental game as you work through the final grueling climbs and miles.
As your body begins to break down, it becomes a mental game to make it to the end. I would make goals to “walk until that tree” then run. As we reached more hills, I began walking every aid station and using it as my rest, then made a deal with myself that I would run once I was out of it.
My frequency to the port-a-potties also increased later in the run, during which, I would shove my Gu into my bra while taking care of business. However, after said stops, I realized that I was getting a bit light-headed and dizzy. Why was this happening? I’m fueling…or so I thought. It took me a while to finally remember that I had shoved my Gu in bra, which also meant, I hadn’t fueled within the last 45 minutes. Crap. When you’re in this stage of the game, every calorie counts and I had missed a whole chunk of fueling due to my bathroom break.
As soon as I got to the next aid station, I looked for a Gu (not a Roctane…just a regular Gu). I opened it and shoved it down. But for some reason, ever since that mishap, I couldn’t get my fueling back on track and my dizziness increased. All I could think about was the fact that I didn’t want to pass out, get an IV, or any sort of treatment or help that would DQ me from the race. So in an attempt to forgo my dramatized outcome, I tried everything and anything at the aid stations to see what would work.
Flat soda — I haven’t had soda in 13 years, but I tried it here to see if it would be the “jet fuel” everyone raved about. Meh, I didn’t feel a difference.
Chocolate chip cookies — I don’t eat dairy but I had it here. At first, the cookies were a nice change in flavor, but soon I had to chuck it because it tasted like dirt.
Pretzels – I thought the salt would help, but when I ate them I thought I was eating chalk.
Grapes – Maybe these little gems would do the trick? Nope, tasted like warm mush.
Orange slices – YES! Sweet, sweet, orange slices! I don’t think these provided the caloric intake I needed, but I just bit into them like a five-year-old, never actually eating any of the “meat,” and just drinking the juices. Glorious orange slices.
I made my way on my “try anything and everything at the aid station to see what works” rampage, I continued to make multiple bathroom stops, walk the aid station, and make mental goals to make it to the end. I remember seeing my friend Darren on the way back into town and he shouted, “You’re almost done!” and I just cursed some random mumblings.
As I got closer to the finish, the realization that I was about to complete an Ironman began to overtake me. It’s as if every ounce of mental and physical fatigue escapes from your body and you’re suddenly running on fresh legs.
Two miles out, I became focused and just pumped my arms and got lost in my head – you’re almost there.
One mile out, I realized that this was it. I was going to do this. It’s really happening.
A half mile out, volunteers started shouting, “Your almost there! It’s all down hill right around the corner!” I got choked up and couldn’t quite run and breathe at the same time.
As I turned the corned and entered the final stretch, I could see the blue finish line waiting for me. The crowds were roaring, but I couldn’t hear anything. I saw my dad and my sister screaming, “GO PAGE!” My face bounced back and forth between tears and smiles. My leg turnover increased as pure adrenaline and emotion overwhelmed me.
I saw my husband right near the finish.
I couldn’t believe it.
I pumped my fists in the air.
Page Williams. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
FINAL IMCDA RESULTS: 12:14:21
19th AG / 109th F / 664 OA
It was pure happiness unlike anything that I’ve ever felt as I achieved a lifetime dream. I put my head in my hands and cried.
A volunteer congratulated me and escorted me to get my medal, finisher’s gear and photo. He then handed me off to another medical volunteer to see how I was feeling. I told him I felt fine, just tired. Still able to walk, I grabbed the highly coveted pizza and walked out of the gates, sat on the grass and waited for my family. When they arrived, I couldn’t be happier to see them. It was a combination of Ironman joy and being with my family (who were there every step of the way), that emphasized that this was one of the best days ever.
It was a long journey to that finish line, and perhaps my honeymoon high is shading the tough parts right now, but I can confidently say that the Ironman changed my life. I’ll share more about why in a later post along with my post-race thoughts, but I can tell you this, if there’s something you want to do, do it. Don’t be afraid to take those risks, challenge yourself and make sacrifices for your goals.
On Sunday, I fell in love with a sport that tested every ounce of who I was and because of it, I see my future in a whole new light.
Thank you to my amazing husband, my parents, my sisters, my nephew, my entire family, my coach, my friends, and all of you for your support. This truly has been a journey that I will never forget.
And so the story continues. I was out of T1 feeling pure happiness.
As I made my way out of T1 and onto the ride, I saw my dad who shouted, “NUNI. (family nickname) YOU ARE A WARRIOR.” My heart almost burst into a million little pieces. My grin was wide and I was shouting back – it was time to ride!
You exit the transition and ride through downtown for a bit where the majority of the crowd support is. This portion pretty much consists of your brain being lost in some sort of cycling and endorphin euphoria. But soon you are out of downtown and on to the meat of the course.
The IMCDA bike course consists of two loops. However, my definition of a loop must be different that their definition of a loop as what we actually did was ride out and back to the east, then out and back to the west, and then that was one loop. To me, the IMCDA bike course is a series of four out and backs, not a full loop like Ironman Texas.
As I was on to the first out and back to the east, my body felt fine and my nutrition was right on track. Drinking, chewing, and getting into the zone. When you know that your going to be out there for six plus hours, it’s important that you just settle in…and that’s exactly what I did.
As I pedaled, I had to consistently keep my eye on the prize and hold myself back from being the hare. Usually, when other women in my age group would pass me or I would see another woman ahead of me, I’ll push it to pass them. However, the Ironman is a completely different beast. It took everything in me to not pick up my cadence and stick with women as they would pass me. Instead, I just told myself, “I’ll be seeing you on the run.” I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I needed to ride strategically and save my legs for this little thing called a marathon that would be coming up soon.
Around an hour into the ride, I started not feeling well. But this wasn’t the usual endurance event pain, instead it was the onset of that time of the month cramps and headaches. Perhaps this is TMI, but it’s what I dealt with for two hours. Bad cramping and my head was throbbing. Couple this with my missing salt/electrolyte pills, and I wasn’t feeling too hot.
I knew that this wasn’t anything that would make or break me, just an unfortunate nuance that took away a bit of energy. I even pulled off for a bathroom break, stood in line, and tried to get my cramps down for a hot second. It didn’t help, so I kept doing what I was doing, and at IMCDA that consists of only a few things: climbing, fueling, climbing, fueling, climbing, fueling.
One note of annoyance: as I was riding I kept hearing this squeaking noise. I was completely confused as I thought it was my bike, yet it sounded so far away. Was it my bike? Was it a bird? What the hell was that noise? I even pulled off to the side to make sure it wasn’t me. Then I figured it out. One girl’s very fancy Cervelo bike squeaked every time we were climbing — which was ALL THE TIME. I wanted to tell her to stop and fix her bike, but I kept my mouth shut and tried to drain out the constant squeaking.
Soon the first loop was done and we made our way back downtown. I was looking for my family in the crowd and when I spotted my mom, she was playing with her camera. I began shouting, “MOM! MOM! MARTHA! MARTHA!” She finally saw me and we all screamed, waved and did the usual race cheering. Seeing my family was the boost that I needed to charge into the second loop.
Once you were out of downtown, crowd support was sporadic. So to stay entertained, I would try to say a few things as I rode next to people. Sometimes it was, “Cute kit!” or “Nice bike!” or even “Are we stiiiiill climbing?” I even got a few old guys grumbling about how I would pass them on the climb, but they would zoom by me on the downhill and I was reminded by them that this was a “lesson in gravity.” I must admit, the guy I saw asleep on the ground as his family cheered was pretty entertaining though too.
Outside of the chit chat, I stayed focused on hydrating and fueling as I had planned. I stopped at my special needs bag (another big shout of to the amazing volunteers there) for my extra stash of salt/electrolyte pills, Ibuprofen and Pringles. By the time five hours rolled around, the thought of one more peanut butter and jelly anything sounded revolting and the Bonk Breaker Bars tasted like dirt; thus, I changed to whatever I could get at the aid stations. As we neared five and a half hours, I increased my calorie intake to 300-350 calories per hour to ensure that I got in a bit extra in preparation for the run.
As I was nearing the end, I couldn’t believe that I had already ridden for six hours. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get my goal time, but the 6+ hours of riding actually went by fairly fast. I even saw/met Abby on the ride! Plus, I didn’t get a flat (which I was fearing the entire time), no accidents, perfect weather, gorgeous scenery – overall it was a great afternoon on my bicycle.
FINAL BIKE RESULTS: 6:39:45
26th AG / 188th F / 1114 OA
As I entered T2, I smiled and once again, my energy went through the roof. The fantastic volunteers (yes, they always need to have an adjective before the word “volunteer”) grabbed my bike and would take care of racking it. What?! I didn’t even need to rack my own bike? I asked, “What do I do with my helmet and shoes?” They instructed me to take them with me and off to the T2 bag pick-up and changing tent I went.
As I was running into the tent, I heard another volunteer say, “She better save some of that energy for the run!” I turned around, smiled, and couldn’t help it. I was 2/3 done!
Another lovely volunteer dumped my bag, helped me with my shoes, visor, pills, and I made my way to the run start. As I was fiddling with my pills, I looked up and saw Chicken Face. I was so incredibly excited to see him, ran over and gave him a sweaty kiss. Once again, nothing but pure love and happiness overwhelmed me.
And like that…I was on my way to run 26.2 miles.
After I got injured, I knew I was going to train again and achieve my Ironman dream. However, signing up for another Ironman, let alone one that was sold out and I had to buy a foundation spot for, meant that I had to watch my budget closely and I wouldn’t be able to sign up for multiple races leading up to IMCDA. Thus, I knew I wanted to do at least one triathlon before my A race, but it had to be cheap and close.
Enter the 2nd Annual Folsom International Triathlon: 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10k run
I registered, I told my family about it, I told my coach about it so he could work it into my schedule, and that was about all the thought that went into it. Even during the week leading up to the race, I was simply considering it as a good Saturday brick workout, i.e. I didn’t look at the course, the details, nada.
Friday night I packed my stuff, we woke up and Chicken Face drove the two hours to Folsom, where some of my favorite people in the world would be as well:
I didn’t expect my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and my nephew all to come! Definitely the best part of the day <3
So where were we, oh ya, this whole triathlon thing. My goal was to get re-acquainted to the race day atmosphere, open water swimming, transition practice, and try and push it if I could. But given that I had run my first 20 mile long run two days prior, by legs were heavy and tired; I was anxious to see what would happen.
The start was pretty seamless as it was a small race. Race-day check-in, no line at the port-a-potties, body marking, and transition set-up — easy shmeezy. I also wore my SOAS race kit that I bought last year and raced in it for the first time. It was AMAZING. Zero complaints here (I’ll do a full review on the kit soon!).
But then I looked out and realized that the swim start was waaaaaay out there. Apparently, the water levels were down this year and the swim start was a solid 800 meters (or it least it felt like it) down uneven dirt and rocks. What does this mean? That post-swim we would have to run up it to the bikes for T1…and there was no man-made path. I know, first world problem, but definitely not ideal.
We made our way down to the start where I got in the water, did my drills and got a mini swim warm-up in. You couldn’t see crap in the water, but I’m used to it now, and the temps were perfect. It was exactly what the doctor order.
Soon it was time for the wave beach start. My age group was fairly small, so we all chatted and then ran when the gun went off. The water was so shallow that I ended up running further than most as I’m sure my slow swim wouldn’t have been any faster than me trying to run through the water.
I dove in and just began to sight and swim. NO ANXIETY. I somehow found myself swimming solo. The fast people were far ahead of me and I was just ahead of the back pack. No one to draft off of, just me making my way around the buoys.
I simply found my swim zone and counted down the buoys as a way to break the swim up. Next thing you know, I’m at the finish, ripping off my cap, running up the dirt path and making deals with the devil as I beg to not roll my ankle on the rocks.
Swim Finish: 1.5K — 27:18 — 1:40/100 yard
Transition was quick, well, except for the fact that I put on socks (hello, blister!) and I don’t have Yankz on my shoes. The bike wasn’t difficult per se, but rather it felt like roller after roller after roller…with a big roller/baby climb near the end. It was enough to keep you on your gears and feeling the difference — my legs definitely were. No spring chickens here.
The only part I can really complain about was as we neared the finish of the bike, there was a volunteer telling us to slow down and be careful as there was a 75 ft. gravel path we had to ride on to get to the road. WTF?! I felt like I was taking my tri bike mountain biking — NOT COOL! Please find a different route as this made me come to almost a complete stop for 75 feet, not only loosing all speed but any momentum.
Bike Finish: 40K — 1:24:40 — 17.6/mph
Oh silly Page, you didn’t bring your trail shoes. But how would I have known? The site said “challenging” run, but that was it. They failed to mention that it was 6.1 miles of mostly single track trail that would go UP and DOWN, UP and DOWN, UP and DOWN, in the blazing heat.
People were dropping like flies and were either verbally huffing, puffing and cursing, or just plain walking. I did not expect this AT ALL. But perhaps I have myself to blame as I didn’t do my homework. Regardless, this course was tough, but it’s intensity was multiplied by the relentless heat. My legs were heavy and I decided that my goal would be to just stay steady. Don’t over exert as it would just burn me out.
I kept it slow, I kept it focused, I dumped water on myself at almost every aid station, and I even had to walk twice up to steep climbs and down a few so that I wouldn’t fall or hurt my ankle (I really wish they told us to bring trail shoes).
The great thing about this course is that all of the athletes were in it together, telling each other “good work,” or venting together about the heat. Occasionally there would be a view that was so gorgeous it would distract you for all of eight seconds, but then it was back to the trails and the heat.
I saw my sister, nephew and brother-in-law on the final stretch in, and she shouted, “You’re third!” I coud see Chicken Face and my parents at the finish and was so happy to be done. I was not expecting such a challenging course today.
Run: 10k — 54:12 — 8:43
My body was feeling the result of the training and such a challenging triathlon, but the good news about small races is this:
(The race site doesn’t have detailed results up yet…hoping for those soon)
Yaaaaaaay third in my age group. The woman who got first in my age group also got first overall and set a new course record (2:18:15 — damn!). I even hear one of the top female finishers say that this race was, “Like a mini Wildflower, but on actual trails.”
What I am excited about is to see the volume that my body can now handle. Never before would I have been able to run 20 miles, have a crazy intense Friday, then an international triathlon, followed by 3,000 OW yards and a 100 mile bike ride on Sunday. During Ironman training, endurance is the name of the game and I’m so grateful that my body if letting me do this.
Now on to the next week of peak training.
Last year I was on a quest.
I’m not speaking of my journey to Ironman quest in this post, but rather the quest for the perfect tri “kit.” A triathlon “kit” is a top and a bottom that you can wear for all three sports. A kit needs to be tight enough to wear under a wetsuit while you swim, long enough that you can contort into odd shapes and still be covered (and wind resistant) on the bike, and comfortable enough that you can run chafe-free. All of this while being appropriately fit for a woman, long enough for my freakish torso and to be honest, cute enough to make you look feminine and fast*.
Testing out my SOAS kit last year.
After racing in a variety of triathlon pieces (none of which were actually designed to work together), I decided to purchase a kit that I had been hearing so much about: a SOAS kit. I tested it out on a few final workouts leading up to the race and was uber-impressed. I was in love with the racer back top, was giddy that the shorts were long enough to get the job done but short enough to not warrant an SNL mom-jeans skit and had a great look to it. It fit well, it was functional and I even got a few compliments! Can I get a HUZZAH?!
When I saw that SOAS was looking for applicant for their 2013 amateur race team, I jumped at the chance, but didn’t really share with anyone that I had applied. I submitted my application and got the shocking/exciting news last week: I was accepted as part of the 2013 team! To say that I’m pumped would be an understatement. I’m honored and ecstatic to be part of a team that is working to empower women in this sport, all while making them functional, feminine and fast.
I’ll make sure to share more SOAS news as it comes in, but I’m even more ready for this season, racing in some awesome gear and being part of the team.
*Nota Bena: For crying out loud, it doesn’t have to be pink and have butterflies if it’s made for women! I hereby petition a ban on all tri kits with flowers and butterflies.
Hellllllllllo – it’s Page! I’m still up here on cloud nine right now. Can someone please tell me how I can make a permanent home here? Everything is rainbows and butterflies – quite nice.
I thought I’d take a moment to discuss some of the (caution: work jargon ahead) key learnings from Vineman 70.3 and opportunities moving forward. But don’t worry, this blog post doesn’t include any text heavy slides, awkward stock photography or baffling budgets.
- Taper Tantrums: They are real and they will play evil, evil games on you. Seriously, you will do everything in your path to ensure that you get to race day in one piece and despite your best intentions, your body will have a vicious fit.
- Taper Tantrum Cures: As much as taper tantrums are just that, a tantrum, I also believe it’s your body’s way sending you a message. If something hurts, baby it like crazy. I cut out all running for almost a week, iced, rolled, got massages and stayed off of my knee as soon as it started acting up. It also helps to have friends sending good vibes your way.
- Check Your Bike: With running, the only thing you really need to take care of is yourself. Not so in triathlon – your bike is another expensive machine that needs to be checked and re-checked prior to race day. I’ve been having some problems shifting my bike down into the front small gear (like my fancy terminology there?) and while sometimes it worked seamlessly, other times it didn’t. I had already taken it into the shop once and when it started acting up again, I took it back in. It turns out that my front deraillleur was bent and when they tried to fix it the first time, it just got bent again. So the fantastic folks at Livermore Cyclery fixed my deraillleur by installing a brand new one, of the next level up, for FREE! Please picture me doing a fist pump here.
In addition to upgrading and fixing my deraillleur , they took the time to explain to me how to clean my chain (apparently you need to – who knew) and why the basic model chain ring I have makes it harder to shift. Thus, I see some component upgrades in my future.
- Get There Early: For running races, I liked to get to the expo/race starts early simply to avoid the lines and crowds. However, I’d urge you to get to the triathlon/T1 or T2 set-up early not only to get your goods, but to rack your bike or place your T2 stuff as close to the end as possible. If not, you’ll be forced to squish your bike into a rack that is already overwhelmed, or far down the line. The closer to the end, the less you have to run and the better your transition times will be.
- Swim the Venue: As mentioned in my race recap, swimming the venue, even if just for a bit, was the smartest race-prep step I took. It immediately helped me ease all of my open water anxiety fears. If you want to go a step further, swim the venue without your wetsuit (if it’s safe, of course!). My wetsuit is my proverbial safety blanket as I know I won’t drown in it. Thus, logic tells me that if I can swim the venue sans wetsuit, I am the equivalent of Aqua Man. Like I said: logic.
- Eat Like A Champ: As one would assume, try to eat healthy leading up to a race, but for me, eating like a champ isn’t about changing your diet, but about fueling. I didn’t skip the glass of wine and I didn’t deprive myself of anything. Instead, I carbo-loaded, I ate normally and I had a strategic fueling plan on the bike (that I will share later). Like Coach Paul told me: don’t change a thing, but don’t try anything new either.
- Don’t Be an Dumb & Learn To Swim Straight: Seriously. Just because I don’t see other orange cappers around me doesn’t mean that my fitness has imploded and I’m in dead last place. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Well, apparently I wasn’t thinking because I spent a lot of time swimming back in the right direction. Note to self: work on sighting.
- Ride to the Right & Be Polite: There I was, minding my own business when some pro cyclist came zooming by and barked at guy saying, “Hey man, you need to ride to the right.” (Insert extremely really snarky tone.) I get that this guy wasn’t riding all the way over to the right, and honestly, he was making it hard to pass. However, that chick needs to lose the ‘tude. He’s probably just a normal guy trying to complete a freaking half Ironman and here she comes, spitting nasty tone. And come to think of it, she didn’t even call out “on you left!”
By the way, I tried to call out “on your left” when passing people as much as possible and when I did, people actually said, “Thank you.” I would then say thank you back, and they would actually respond with, “You’re very welcome.” Now that’s sportsmanship!
- Ice In Your Bra Works: Enough said.
- Cheerleading IS a Real Sport: Seriously, who wakes up at 4 in the morning, makes t-shirts, and sits hours on end in the heat just to see you for a few seconds at a time? Freaking awesome cheerleaders, that’s who! Knowing that they would be at the start, each transition and at the end, kept me moving and I was so happy they were there. If your family is unable to make it, Chicken Face is available for hire. Sherpa and photography fees apply.
- Smile Like Idiot: I said it before and I’ll say it again, the entire bike ride I thought about yelling, “I FEEL F****** AWESOME!” multiple time. As I look back, I realize how much I’m growing to love triathlon and the challenges that it presents. There will always be room to grow, fears to overcome and a lot of adventures to be had, and I plan of smiling like an idiot the entire time.
What are some of your favorite running or triathlon tips?
99.9% of the time, my dreams consist of some outlandish experience where I’m a) trying to escape harm or a bad guy, or b) me trying to rescue someone. They also generally include a “celebrity” appearance. Dream interpreters, do what you will with that information.
The night of the South Bay Duathlon I had another crazy dream. Unfortunately, I can’t remember it all, but what I do remember is that it involved me riding my new bike during the race, which took place in an old western town and I was trying to escape something. But instead of it being my beautiful new Trek in my dream, it was a little tricycle made for a toddler. I remember thinking, “The bike shop duped me!!!”
In my dream, I was furious that I wasn’t smart enough to ask the right questions to get the right bike, embarrassed that I looked like an idiot on my tricycle that I thought what a tri bike and just plain frustrated.
Obviously, there are some deep rooted fears hidden in there, but like I mentioned in this post, facing my fears was the best way to wash my tricycle nightmares away. It reinforced that the best way to learn is through experience itself, so I wanted to share with you a few key things I learned from the race.
1. Parking lot intimidation is a bunch of crap. You know who I’m talking about. The people doing “serious” warm-ups, “serious” stretches, and always have one hell-of-a “serious/I’m totally going to pummel your ass” look on their face. Whatever. It’s all a ploy, their poker face if you will. Just focus on you and your race alone.
2. Stuff is just that…stuff. I set out my transition gear and had five things: shoes, helmet, glasses, a water bottle and gloves (which I later learned I don’t need). But what is all of this stuff everyone else has? Their space was littered with what seemed like an entire sporting goods store – what essential items was this Fred missing? Low and behold, I just did fine without all of the extra stuff. Don’t worry about what things you don’t have and instead just go with what you need. You’ll be fine.
3. Know your fueling strategy ahead of time. Thanks to Coach Paul, I was under strict orders of how much to eat and when. Even though there were many time I didn’t feel like eating or thought that I didn’t need it, I followed his recommendations and wouldn’t you know it, I actually felt fantastic before, during and after the race. Coach Paul is one smart guy.
4. Cycling photos are awful. Seriously. After seeing my race photos yesterday, Chicken Face reassured me, “I guess the helmet look doesn’t work for you.” Thank you, husband.
5. Don’t forget to do what you ultimately came to do: have fun. I was freaking out so much about this “debut” race, that I totally lost grasp of why I signed up for the race in the first place. So many fears overwhelmed me that it could have been detrimental, but once I was out there, I found myself in my element. I always make sure to look around, take in the scenery and smack a ridiculous smile on my face. Try it out sometime – it seems to work.
What are your best tips for a debut/your first race?
I would like to call this race my attempt at peer pressure:
Oh heeeeeeeey, Aron. So, I found this 5K in Vegas the day before the half. It could be a great shakeout run, it’s $35, you get a long sleeve cotton tee, a cinch bag, snacks, oh and um, a full five-piece Santa suit as they are trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people running in a Santa Suit. Oh, and if you don’t come, we can’t be friends.
Saturday morning Aron and I made the wise decision of running to the start of the race from our hotel. What we thought would be three miles, turned into four miles in the wind and cold, arriving at the race start with little time to spare.
We grabbed our packets and started suiting up (no pun intended…well, sort of). If you happen to do this race next year and the suit provided to you has a giant hole in the front “crotchal” region, feel free to ask them to replace it. I am talking from experience here, people.
Beard? Double check.
We were looking goooooooooood.
We signed our life away to the Guinness Book of World Records, watched Santa parachute in from a helicopter above (is it not obvious that we are in Vegas?) and found our way into the sea of Santas.
If you are curious about our pacing, fueling strategy or any other “real” running details, you won’t find it in this race recap because any attempt at actual running was a joke. I ran with the cinch backpack on, the belt wouldn’t stay tight, I stopped to tie my shoes, the pants were practically hammer pants and I got enough beard hairballs that I’d put Aron’s cats to shame.
We pretty much trotted along for what was actually 2.9 miles and just enjoyed seeing thousands of Santas and their festive pets make their way along the course.
However, as chaotic as it was, it was still a pretty cool experience. Should you take part in next year’s Las Vegas Santa Suit run? Definitely! I mean, what’s better than running with a fake beard?
Have you ever run this race? Or any race at all in costume?
I went into Sunday’s NorCal half marathon with a general idea of what I wanted to do (PR!), but with only one strategy in mind: keep under 6:55 per mile. Looking back at this plan, it probably wasn’t the wisest. The speed work was there, but not completely in the shed. Thus, I relied on pure mental gusto, thinking about Reno, and my buddy Katie who I ran with. So without further ado, I present to you the NorCal half marathon race recap.
Saturday, I was purely excited. Sunday morning, the nerves set in. I over-carb-loaded on Saturday (two bowls of pasta too many), and could barely finish my normal bowl of pre-race oatmeal. But I was sure to get my green tea down for a swift kick in the pants.
The fantastic Chicken Face drove Lola and I down to San Jose, where we were quickly bombarded by the oohs-and-awes of Lola onlookers. To her credit, it was her second birthday and she was in her hand-made birthday outfit. But I digress…soon, we met up with Kristin, Katie, Alyssa and Alysyn, engaged in the usual pre-race banter and took to the start line.
Three…two…one…we were off! Like that, my legs were moving, my heart was pounding and it didn’t stop for 13.1 miles. The first portion of the race weaves through downtown San Jose and proved to be quite fun. Katie and I seemed to stay silently together the entire way and while the miles felt longer than normal, I could feel myself pushing every moment of the race.
The good news was that I was having a great time running and smiling throughout downtown. Highlights included seeing Chicken Face as we looped back past the start – SMILE!
Soon, Katie and I came to a paved trail that weaved throughout a park. While the weaving wasn’t ideal, it was still on pavement and the park was easy on the eyes. Easy shmeezy. Only a few miles later, the sweet streets ended and we hit the gravel that we were warned about…DUN DUN DUNNNNNN. I can credit the start of the gravel to the beginning of my demise. Not used to the uneven terrain, I was feeling uneasy and I could see that Katie was getting frustrated as well. Woops-ankle-roll-here-woops-ankle-unsteady-there.
When we saw the leading male pass us on the other side, it could only mean one thing: we would have to loop all the way back on the same gravel trail. OH CRAP! We had no choice but to keep on trekking and the gravel felt never-ending. Where was the turnaround? Where were the other runners? Why is it getting so hot?!
By the time we reached the turnaround, the tight U-turns slowed us down to a sluggish trot and it seemed to kill any momentum we had left. We had to physically and mentally pick our spirits back up to face the gravel race to the finish. At this point, I could feel my legs belt out that they had had enough. My energy wilted to the place where you have to dig deep. Everything inside of you begs to walk for just 30 seconds or perhaps slow to a still admirable 7:30/mile pace. While slogging through the final miles sounded appealing, Katie was by my side reminding me that there was only two miles to go in the now intense heat and we could do it…no problem.
I thought about Chicken Face, I thought about my family, and I thought about the young man who had cerebral palsy who died in the Reno Air Races this week. My tired legs were nothing in comparison to the pain his family must be feeling and I would push it through for all of them.
We finally looped past the other runners, this time with the dirt kicking up in my face reminding me why I desperately need to invest in sunglasses. When we finally reached the 13 mile marker, I looked at Katie and said, “Ready?” She replied, “Ready…” and we gave the last 100 the every bit of speed that we had left.
We crossed the finish line together in 1:30:22 — 1st in my age group (if you remove the elites, which they did), 6th female, 25th half marathoner overall and a new PR!
We later found out that the first female crossed the finish line in 1:19 (take that in for a moment…1:19!!) and the second place girl had qualified for the Olympic trials! Why were such elite runners racing in an inaugural, local event? I can tell you: the prize money! This race is one of only a few local races that offer actual prize money for placing overall. Nota bene: offer cash and the elites will come.
Overall, this race was tough. The heat was intense, the gravel was challenging and the u-turns were tight. But when I look back at the race, everything turns to a rosy-colored hue. What’s life without a good challenge? The race was well organized, the first half was scenic and flat, the medal was a solid keeper and plus, the first place age group prize was wine!
I guess it’s like the oh-so-wise @TinyBuddha said on Twitter today, “There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy and its only reward is that it’s easy.” ~Unknown
A big thank you to the NorCal half marathon folks for having me and happy running!