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 ❤ , 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😀 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 ❤

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

Notes:

  • 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?

 

 

 

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When Two Groups Collide

This weekend was one of the funnest I’d had in a long while. I mean, every weekend has elements of awesomeness but this Saturday and Sunday it just was overflowing–so much so, I’ma have to split it up 😀

Saturday I woke up bright and early at my usual 5 a.m. This is nothing new as it’s my start time during the work week. Today though, I was going to be meeting up with two of my fave groups, Run Eat Tweet AZ and Moms Run This Town.

I’ve talked about both before. I used to be a RETAZ ambassador but had to step down because of life commitments. That hasn’t stopped me from still being involved in other ways though. And then I started a local chapter in my city for MRTT last year that I still lead along with my buddy, We’re Running a Marathon?.

Run Eat Tweet AZ wanted to host a group run for all Phoenix valley MRTT chapters and we all of course jumped at the idea. My city MRTT meets weekly but we don’t often meet with other neighboring cities in the valley.

I was prompt at arriving at 6 a.m. for the start of the long run, 10 miles. I wasn’t going to run the 10 though but just do a quick out and back and meet up with the second group, the 5 milers, that would start at 6:30. I wanted to be there to greet all of my MRTT  ladies.

My group is the newest MRTT chapter at barely over a year old but guess what? We had the most of all the chapters! I was so proud of my girls! Six arrived at the 6 a.m. start and then 3 more at the 6:30. 🙂

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But first, a selfie. (I'm horrible at these--can you tell?)

But first, a selfie. (I’m horrible at these–can you tell?)

I managed to get in 2 quick miles before the second group started and then I went back out for another 3 to make 5 miles total. It was an easy going run where I wasn’t at all concerned with my pace–just hanging out with everyone and chatting up a storm.

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Having a blast…as usual 😀

Afterward, all the chapters took a group photo along the bridge where we had met up.

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Such a great turnout!

It was such a beautiful Phoenix day–cool and cloudy and just the right amount of cold 🙂 Run Eat Tweet AZ even had coffee and breakfast for us!

Best. Weather.

Best. Weather.

They also had hooked up with some vendors who gave away neat prizes–free race entries, jewelry, t-shirts, running fuel. It was just an awesome good time.

I’ve mentioned before how life-changing it was for me not only as a runner but just as a person to get involved in local running groups. There are three that I’m actively involved in and it really gives me the motivation and support I need to keep me going. It’s impossible for me to ever get lazy (not that I ever would anyway 😉 ) because my friends are constantly inviting me to run or workout!

At first, it was tough for me to branch out and get out of my comfort zone. But, getting involved and being a part of a group has helped my running so much–I’m faster, stronger, and smarter. The latter being the most important in my opinion.

I really can’t praise it enough. There’s absolutely nothing I regret about joining a couple of running groups. My wallet begs to differ–because my races have increased, but I’ve acquired some pretty amazing friendships and experiences that make it ALL worth it. So if you’re on the fence about it, just do it!!! (And if you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips!)

Hope you all have a great Monday!!

❤ , helly

–Do you have a running group?

–How many running friends do you have?

Run3rd 5k Recap

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Okay, so it’d been a while since I’d ran a race (early February? I don’t count Phoenix since I didn’t finish) and I was looking forward to running this 5k until I got sick because that meant I couldn’t properly train. That changed my goals considerably and I went into this race with a “just finish” and “have fun” mindset. Luckily, both happened 😀

There were also quite a few things I was looking forward to with this race.

1.) It benefits local public school promoting health and fitness for kids and encourages people to run for others. This was a huge appeal for me as I’m a public school teacher and am all about the kids ❤ and I’m all about running for those who can’t.

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1st I run for me.
2nd I run for my family.
3rd I run for YOU.
–from the Run3rd website

2.) Sean Astin! I’m a huge Rudy fan (if you haven’t seen this movie, DO IT!! He’s also in Goonies and Lord of the Rings). He was instrumental in getting this race set up–it was an inaugural race–and he was seriously the most humble, sweetest guy. He helped promote the race months leading up to it showing that he was serious about what and who the race was benefitting. Race day, he was everywhere. You saw him giving the kids a pep talk, talking to the people working booths, and posing for pictures with runners. I never saw or heard him say anything negative and he was in high spirits the entire time.

Pep talk!

Pep talk!

Pre-race pic! :)

Pre-race pic! 🙂

3.) Run Eat Tweet AZ –I’ve mentioned this local running group I’m a part of (they hooked me up with this race entry 🙂 ) and I absolutely love hanging out with them. In fact, I wish I could meet up with them on more events they host but between work and kids, it’s tough. When I am able to though, it’s always a guarantee blast.

Jeremy aka: King of Selfies aka: Confessions of an Amateur Athlete

Jeremy @Confessions of an Amateur Athlete (aka: King of Selfies)

#RunEatTweetAZ

@RunEatTweetAZ (Follow on twitter!)

Okay, on to the race.

My biggest struggle with shorter distance races is starting out too fast and yep, I did it again. The first mile chimed 8:09 and at the time, that felt good. I didn’t even think it was too fast. At the time.

At the start--all smiles :)

At the start–all smiles 🙂

Then my legs started to feel heavy and things were not looking good. I felt myself slow down and I saw 8:37 when I crossed the mile 2 marker. Not too bad but I knew I was struggling. My legs felt heavier and heavier with each step and I kept telling myself I had less than a mile left, finish strong. But really, I was done. Mile 3, 9:20.

The course was flat, mostly on pavement with the start and finish on a high school’s track. When I got to the track at the finish, I picked up pace to attempt whatever kick I might have, and crossed the finish line.

The face. The struggle.

I encourage you to click on this pic for a close up of my face.

The goal was sub 27 and when I looked at my watch, my first thought was “Noooo!!!!” but then I prayed the chip time gods would gift me a few seconds

and they did!

and they did!

When I saw my time on the screen, I was even more shocked to see that I had placed 3rd in my age group!! A huge shocker since I had not felt like I’d done well at all. Several of my friends had also placed so we all waited together for the award ceremony to start.

It took a while for the awards to start–a little over an hour. We were getting a little antsy but then they began. They started with the male awards and gave out all of them before beginning the female awards. I thought this was strange because usually races do male/female age groups.

Anyway, when they announced the 30-34 age group, I started walking up towards the stage until I HEARD ANOTHER NAME CALLED. Yep, someone else had place 3rd!!! I was so confused (and mortified to be honest) as I had seen my name clear as day on the time screen. My husband had seen it, my friends had seen it. We had even taken a glance at it as the male awards were called.

But when we walked back to check after I wasn’t called, there was indeed another runner’s name where mine had been earlier.

It was then that my husband remembered.

About 20 minutes after the race started, a girl had ran towards the start line–clearly late–and began the race. No one had said anything to her –but people did see her–and my husband didn’t think much of it except that it was kinda sorta a lot not fair to start so late and not have to deal with crowds.

This SAME girl was the one who bumped me!!!

I was naturally upset, not so much because I didn’t get an award (like, not at all because of that really) but because I didn’t think it was fair for runners to start waaaay after everyone else. They get an entirely different playing field. Yes, it’s the same course, but there’s no weaving around people–the course is entirely clear. I would’ve been upset for anyone who lost a place because of this happening.

Oh well. In the end, it just means I need to get faster so that it doesn’t matter if someone starts later 😀

EDIT: The race director read my recap and took time out of her busy schedule to let me know what happened!! 🙂 Check it out here.

The race overall was suuuuper fun! It was very relaxed but I appreciated the organizers taking the race seriously (despite that little aforementioned mishap). There was a virtual race option. FREE race photos. Finishers got a t-shirt AND a medal–a rarity for a 5k–AND there were age group awards. AND there were raffles galore. Your entry earned you one ticket and you could put it towards a whole bunch of things being raffled. I put mine in the autographed Rudy poster and purchased extra to increase my odds. Sadly, I did not win anything 😦 But, one of my buddies did!! He won an autographed Rudy helmet!!! Call me jealous!! 🙂

This is definitely going on my calendar as a yearly race. The entire race–pre, during, and post–was so relaxed and just an overall good experience. A total WIN!!

#Run3rd5k

#Run3rd5k

–Have you ran a race someone famous was running?

–Who have you been able to snag a pic with?