USA Half Marathon San Diego {Recap}

I’m so freaking proud of this race.

It was tough and it was ugly but I finished–leaving nothing on the course. Nothing.

I knew from seeing the course elevation map that it would be hilly in the beginning, but I was really unprepared for how hilly it actually was. I knew as soon as I started that my goal of sub 2 hours would be a long reach.

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I began with brf Runner Jenny and we took the first hill slowly–it was seriously right at the start. And the next one too. Except it wasn’t really all that slow for me as the first two hilly miles were 9:35 and 9:42–for me, that’s a really good pace going up.

For Runner Jenny though, that was cruising and at mile 3 I told her to go on her own. I just couldn’t keep up. I could see her every now and then turn around to see how far back I was <3 , but I kept falling farther and farther behind. And then I couldn’t see her anymore :(

So I decided to run my own race, only checking my watch when the mile would beep.

At mile 3 I settled in my own pace and miles 3 and 4 sounded off at 9:21 and 9:25. I had  left my goal behind at the start so I didn’t have that pressure of trying to maintain a certain pace–I was just running. But I surprised myself at mile 5 with an 8:51.

Mile 6 was a downhill and I just rolled with it. Again, I wasn’t looking at my watch and when it beeped, I was shocked to see 8:03!!! Whoa!!! Slow down, Hell!

It was right after this mile that as I was running along, I saw someone on the sidelines cheering people on. He had no sign or crowd and seemed to be cheering everyone, not just one particular person.

It was Meb!!!

I veered to the right so I could high five him! I was surprised he wasn’t surrounded–I totally would’ve stopped to take a pic if I had had my phone.

Mile 7 sounded off at 8:54 and I was shocked again to see it be a sub 9–the downhill definitely helped.


It was here that the course seemed to flatline but there were still some baby hills along the course. I cursed each and every one of them.

I managed a 9:13 mile 8 and was really happy to have it be a lowish 9. I started doing some math (I’m really not good at it) and I realized I still had a shot at a sub 2–I’d have to work though.


Mile 9, 9:24. Not as low as I would’ve liked but still good.

Then the cramps started.

Miles 10 (9:40) and 11 (9:42) were me struggle bussing but I refused to stop. I stuck my tongue out at the photographer at the top of a hill (because really, who puts a photographer at the top of a hill?) The 2:00 pacer reached me at mile 11 and I told myself I could stay with her for two miles. Just do it, Helly.


Mile 12, 9:01.

And then……. the mile from hell.

I knew I had one mile left. If I could just get through this mile, I’d get a sub 2. It would be ridiculously close, but it was possible.

Except it wasn’t. My legs cramped up into rock solid masses of crampage–it almost brought me to a complete stop. I was in so much pain, pain I hadn’t felt ever in a race. I saw the pacer roll past me and I wanted so badly to hang on. But I couldn’t. For the life of me, I could not run faster.

I turned the corner towards the finish line broken. My teammates were on the side line and I yelled for them to call for my husband. I knew it was going to be an ugly finish. I was limping, dragging my right leg (that one hurt the most). I had cramps everywhere–toe cramps, foot cramps, ankle cramps, shin cramps, calf cramps, hamstring cramps–my entire legs were cramping.


The announcer saw me approaching and said through his mic, “I don’t care if you walk, limp, crawl across the finish, just do it!!”

And that’s exactly what I did, screaming in pain and collapsing as soon as I crossed.


I was immediately picked up by the medics and my husband found me not too long after. I was screaming so loud; I’m sure there are people who I traumatized, but the pain was so intense–I felt like my muscles were ripping apart.

I was giving water and electrolytes and they placed ice all around my legs and it was a while before I started to feel better. Just when I thought I was in the clear, the cramps came back on both legs in full force. Screams again.

The medics asked what I had consumed throughout the race and I told them I had been carrying Tailwind (electrolytes) and had taken water at a few of the water stations as well–even my Gu at mile 7. I had no idea why this was happening; I felt like I had done everything right.

I know I need to get myself checked. I think my diet might be my issue–maybe I’m deficient in some vitamin or nutrient?? I don’t know, but it was definitely scary what happened to me and I def don’t want it to happen again.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 2:01:15 and I was so proud of myself for getting that close to two hours on a hilly course I was so unprepared for and with cramps the entire last mile (which I ended up running in 9:13 and realized I really had no chance of a sub two unless I had ran an 8 something last mile–I’m really bad at math).

Several of my teammates walked away with PRs (included Runner Jenny) and my husband snagged a new PR as well :D It was nice to have so much good stuff to overshadow my awful ending and once I was out of the medic tent, I was all smiles.

my AZTNT team

my AZTNT team

with my favorite <3

with my favorite <3

The Bad:

  • The Expo left A LOT to be desired. Granted, we got there on the second night about 30 minutes before it closed, but there were maybe 5 booths open?? I saw nothing with the race’s name on it that I could purchase.


  • Little to no crowd support. But you got Meb and maybe that’s really all you need.
  • The jacket is of poor quality (in my opinion) the letters look like they’ll fade after a few washes but it’s cool to have a jacket –even though it has no pockets :( and they gave it to you in a cheap plastic bag (no race swag bag). So yeah….
  • They said they’d cap the race at 5,000 but only half registered. I definitely felt there was very little hype about this race. Someone needs to hire a social media person (I’m available, USA Half Marathon!).
  • Very little crowd support.
  • San Diego is expensive.  (Holy cow, parking=$)
  • Finding your official time after the race was confusing. The website said “Coming Soon” the entire day–I was able to find it through a friend who registered for tracking through Chrono Track.

The Good:

  • The race had a 2:30 time limit so you really felt the competitive atmosphere (which I liked). Going uphill, I seriously saw no one walking and that motivated me to not walk.
  • Meb.
  • The medal is pretty sweet. It’s nice and heavy and the ribbon is pretty.


  • Free pictures. Soooo nice in a day and age where race pictures cost a fortune.
  • Post race snacks a plenty!! They had so much left over, they let runners take boxfulls home with them–made for great road trip snacks.
  • Shout out to the medical staff! xoxo!
  • San Diego is beautiful. The weather was absolutely amazing–I mean, 70 degrees in mid November? Yes, please!!!
  • The host hotel, The Westin San Diego Gas Lamp Quarter, was beautiful and worth every penny.


  • This is a qualifying race so for my age group 30-35 I had to have ran a sub 2 hour half marathon. They plan on making the requirements more competitive in the future but I’m not sure if that’ll happen soon considering they barely got half of their estimated entries this year.
  • I would do it again. :)

–Have you ran an inaugural race before?

–Do you like the idea of a qualifying half marathon?

–Ever high-fived an elite?




Here We Go Again!!! Phoenix Marathon Training Recap Week 1– Will Third Time Be The Charm?

Welp!! I’m going for it!!

This will be my third time training for Phoenix Marathon–it was my first marathon a mere year and half ago (and my current PR), it was my first DNF this past February, and I’m hoping it will be my first sub 4:30 this go around.

That’s my goal and by golly, I’m gonna get it!

I’ve trained for two marathons with this being the target and both times I felt ready, feeling confident that 4:30 was in my reach. One ended with me getting halfway and in tears (my DNF), and the other ended with me not being able to run strong enough and finishing with frustration and anger (Chicago).

But both have left me stronger.

Having come off a Ragnar weekend, my first official week of Phoenix Marathon training had only 3 runs, two of which were very strong.

Tuesday, I met up with my run club for a 4 miler. It was my first run post Ragnar and I surprisingly felt strong. The first two miles were great but the last two were a little tougher as we had the wind against us–I still managed sub 9s for all 4 miles and that made me really happy :)

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Wednesdays are track nights at my run club and I definitely felt tired from the previous day’s hard run. I wanted to go though because I was going to be officially crowned Runner of the Month!!


My Runner of the Month Question & Answer :)

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I love my run club and there are sooo many awesome, amazing, deserving people that to have been selected made me feel super special. Our coach said I had trained really hard for Chicago and “killed it” and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sadness (mixed with anger) that I didn’t share that sentiment. But, I quickly hid those emotions and accepted my crown with pride.

And then I ran two easy miles with Runner Jenny. We opted for 4x800s instead of the 3 mile repeats coach had assigned.

I rested Thursday and Friday but met up with my run club buddies Saturday morning for our long run. All of us are running the inaugural USA Half Marathon in San Diego next weekend and wanted to get in 10.

The first 5 we stayed steady

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and then we negative split the last 5 miles..

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well, almost negative split..damn .3 seconds in mile 9!

It was a great run that was a perfect hard. We were able to chat most of the way which let me know I was working at it but not killing myself at those paces.

Which ended me with 16 total miles for the week! I’m not sure yet what plan I’m going with for Phoenix but it’ll be something. I like having a schedule telling me what to do, lol!

–How was your running week?

–Do you have a go-to training plan or one that you like more than others?

–How many races did you have to go through to reach a goal time? (Crossing my fingers third time is the charm! :) )





Ragnar Trail Relay 2015 {Recap}

Whew!! It’s been quite the past couple of weeks!!

Last weekend I ran my first Ragnar run–the trail version–with some of my high school cross country buddies (and Runner Jenny :) as one of our girls was unable to make it). It was all of our first Ragnar which was really cool.

–The week before though was stressful as my husband had been out of town. In fact, I ran ZERO times after the Haunted Half leading up to Ragnar–

I took Friday off from work, which was the first day of the relay, and my husband flew in that same morning. I scrambled to finish packing and he helped  me and Runner Jenny get to McDowell Mountain to begin our crazy adventure.

Our team started at 1 p.m. and we arrived right when our first girl started. We missed her start and I was a little bummed but since I was such a newb, it took me forever to unload my car, find our spot, go back to my car, park it, and get the shuttle back. It was kind of a big ordeal and quite chaotic.

Anyway, our camp spot was right next to my run club which was super fun since I knew everyone around me. After our first runner returned (she was our captain), she explained our plan and how we’d gauge our start times by our estimated paces. We were all pretty close in paces–which actually was super nice–and it proved to be helpful in guessing when our turns were.

I was the 5th runner.

We had a gauge of when Kat, the runner preceding me, would return and the race had a big screen that announced when your teammate was approaching. When you were alerted, you had to go “on deck” to get ready for the exchange–which was a bib clipped on to a belt. The exchange was a lot less crazy than I thought it would be and the race people did a good job of keeping it all organized.

Kat ran in, unclipped her belt, handed it to me, and I was off!

My first loop was the Yellow Loop, a 4.8 miler. It was around 5:30ish so while I had the sun in my face for most of the loop, I got an amazing sunset on the back end.


The loop was a tough one but I was having so much fun. I love running trails and the up and down and up and down was quite exhilarating. I finished feeling pretty good with how I’d done.


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Runner Jenny was waiting for me to hand her the bib and I told her how fun it was and that she’d have a blast.

I went back to our camp and hung out with my buddies as we waited. After a while, we headed to the mess hall and had dinner. The pasta offered wasn’t very good and I opted out of it, lol!!

I’m not much of a camper and I was a little worried about the sleeping situation. I knew my next run would be around midnight and that it would behoove me to get some shut eye. I ended up cat napping a little on my chair. It was ridiculously cold. I know, I know, I’m in Arizona and cold here is not really cold. But I was freezing!! Despite being layered like crazy, there was a biting wind making me second guess how good of an idea this all was.


Rocking the letterman jacket

Anyway, midnight came sooner than I expected and I was off for my second loop. Luckily, I had the short Green Loop for my night run–4.1 miles. This was supposed be an easy run and it was except for the first part of it. Overall though, I was very happy with how’d I’d done.

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When I went back to our camp, one of my friends told me to take her sleeping bag spot as she’d be running soon anyway. This was HUGE. I slept for a good hour and a half and it was the best sleep ever.

Morning came, and our team was doing better than we had expected. We had had an estimated finishing time, but we were way ahead of it. This made us all happy as most of us were kinda over it, lol! We were having fun but it was cold and few of us were not campers.

My last run was around 6 in the morning and I had the long Red Loop to cover. I was worried having the long loop as my last run–I was tired, cold, hungry, and dirty–but everyone assured me that the Red Loop was easy despite a huge hill upfront. The rest of it was totally fine. In fact, most agreed that the Yellow Loop was the hardest–that was the first one I’d done and where I had felt great.

I figured that whichever loop people had done first, that was the one they felt was the better one, lol!!

It was still cool at 6 a.m. but I knew it would heat up. Sure enough, about a mile in, I unzipped my jacket and tied it around my waist. I did this walking the huge hill since I figured I was walking anyway.


And when I crested the hill, I had hoped I’d be able to pick it up and go but I just couldn’t. I was tired and I kept going from being cold to being hot to being cold to just hot. I was bummed I had my not so greatest run last but it was what it was. Overall, I was very, very happy with how I had run my 3 loops :D


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My buddy was able to snag a pic of me crossing the finish line. My goofy grin totally shows how excited I was to be done, jaja!!!



Afterward, I headed back to camp and we all started packing. We had 3 runners left and we figured we’d get a head start. We made major headway by the time our last runner was about to come through and we met her at the finish line to run her in–it was around 11:30, we nailed the sub 24 hours :)


and then we took our post race pics


The team

The high school crew

The high school crew

Couldn't find a Coke so a D.P. had t do

Couldn’t find a Coke so a D.P. had t do

It was such a fun experience and so cool to check off my list of things I want to do–would I do it again? Maybe. I think it’d be fun to do it somewhere else, just to explore new trails…..and with my husband, who I think would totally have a blast doing Ragnar :)

–Ever run a Ragnar race? 

–Do you have a high school letterman jacket? 

–Are you a camper?