Year in Review: 2014’s Highs & Lows

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October’s Best & Worst of Racing Link-Up post was so much fun that I figured I’d revisit each of this year’s races in the same manner.

So on the eve of 2015, I’m taking a little walk down memory lane…starting way back in January with our chocolate-fueled 15K and ending with December’s holiday-themed run.

I was going to add up all the mileage, but instead of boring you with stats, I’ll just get to the good stuff 🙂

Best Post-Race Bellyache

We soared away with mega sugar highs after January’s Hot Chocolate 15K. Not only did Kelly, Ben and I have a blast running the scenic route, which looped around Golden Gate Park and down Highway 1, but we also (over)indulged in the most decadent post-race spread of fondue, hot chocolate, marshmallows, cookies and all kinds of other goodies.

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Best Mid-Race Meetup

You know it’s going to be a good race when you become fast friends with someone you meet two miles in (hey, Molly!) and get to hang out afterwards with the one and only Catra “Dirt Diva” Corbett and her running companion, a dachshund named TruMan. Just some of the many amazing running memories that Vivi and I — college friends reunited as running buddies — made at the Chabot Trail Run 30K in February!

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Least-Intimidating Triathlon

At home and on a whim, I signed up for the LifeTime Fitness Indoor Sprint Triathlon with my friend Colleen in March. Not only was the 10-minute swim, 30-minute bike and 20-minute run a nice way to ease into triathlon for the year, but it was also a great workaround for being able to “race” while there was still snow on the ground outside.

Best of all, though? The 10-minute locker-room transitions, which may have permanently ruined us for “real” ones.

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Friendliest Faces Race

Our entire SF community came out in full force for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon back in April. The weather cooperated, I helped pace Barry’s Bootcamp owner Adam Shane for the start of his first 13.1 finish, and friends and family came out of the woodwork to run and spectate along a course that was much tougher and hillier than anticipated.

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Worst Race Ever

Lest you think this rundown of races is all rainbows and puppy dogs, I present to you my darkest moment from the 2014 season: the HITS Napa Valley Olympic Triathlon.

Struggling with sickness and self-doubt, I battled for more than four hours through a panic attack on the swim, not being able to catch my breath on the bike and a miserably hot run that day. But as far as my performance was from perfect, I’m proud that I didn’t quit — and, hey, it can only go up from here, right?!

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Most Revealing Race

If you’ve never run Bay to Breakers in May in San Francisco, you’ve got to add it to your runner’s bucket list. Not only is it the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world, but it’s also some of the best people-watching and partying you’ll ever witness in the city. And no, don’t count on a PR, but do plan on getting an eyeful while covering the 12K course.

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Ultra-Freakin’-Awesome Race

Each time you run farther than you’ve ever run before, it’s an exhilarating experience. Jamie, my pacer extraordinaire for my first Canyon Meadow Trail 50K Ultramarathon, fortunately understood this and dealt with my exclamations every mile on the mile after 26.2: “Guess what? This is officially the longest I’ve ever run!”

And it may have been the first, but it won’t be the last…

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Biggest Post-Race Double-Take

As in, I had to check the race results twice to make sure I read them correctly. Hubby paced me to a shiny, new 10K PR in the Beaverton Sun Run, and I credit the Hanson’s marathon plan for the speedy finish. Sure, I got injured soon thereafter from the sheer volume and high threshold of training (plus lack of pre-hab), but it was fun while it lasted!

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Best-Worst Race Experience

Was it real or was it a dream? You may never know…because after more than 24 hours of being awake, driving and running for almost 200 miles the hallucinations start to set in. I can’t even really do justice to the insanity and hilarity of an overnight relay, particularly the “Mother of ’em all,” but I can say that this year’s Hood to Coast Relay was something I’ll always remember!

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Favorite Street Cred Race

Yes, I’m referencing the location, but I’m also alluding to the fact that, after five weeks off during peak mileage building, I had something to prove with this race — and, per usual, it was to myself. Both being able to run and highlight my hometown, plus be able to finish the Detroit Marathon was an incredible way to cap off a fall full of physical frustrations.

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Most Instagrammable Race

No joke, the first thing I did when I found out we were moving to Oregon was to put the lottery date for the Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon on my calendar because I heard it had some fantastic scenery. And the price we paid — in crazy elevation changes, rough footing and cold, crappy weather — was totally worth it!

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Most Spirited Race

From the looks of some of the creative costumes involved in this event, I have a feeling several of the participants may have taken the holiday “spirit” part of the race literally. Not only did Carolyn, a fellow LUNA Chix teammate, finish her first-ever race with flying colors, but the Jingle Bell Run 5K for Arthritis also ended up being an ideal way to round out the year just the way we started: with friends.

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Looking back, I’m feeling really thankful for a year chock-full of memories made, laughs shared and miles covered with friends and family.

Cheers to an even more eventful 2015!

Which moments are you most thankful for from 2014? I’d love to hear!

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10 dos and don’ts for running a 24-hour relay race

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During Monday morning’s post-race recovery run (ouch), I had plenty of time to reflect back on last weekend’s Hood to Coast experience. It may have been my first relay, but it certainly won’t be my last — so I wanted to share some learnings that I’ll be applying again come Ragnar Napa Valley next month (and hopefully HTC again next year!).

KineticFix’s 10 dos and don’ts of running a 24-hour relay race:

The DOs…

…train, at least a little bit. 

Running takes enough motivation as-is, but factor in lack of sleep, back-to-back runs over varied terrain, little rest between legs, irregular fueling, irregular other things and…well, you get the picture regarding what can go awry if you don’t get in some mileage and/or practice a few two-a-day workouts ahead of time.

…plan well in advance. 

Make your list, and check it twice. I even Googled around for a few last-minute ideas based on veteran runners’ suggestions because, hey, you never know when you’ll need an ice pack at 6am for an injured team member or a dose of stomach medicine for someone who’s feeling wonky before their 2am leg. Check the weather, too!

…invest in Ziploc bags. 

Packing individual outfits into gallon-sized bags makes it easier to get dressed in the middle of the night when your brain is out of commission. And be kind to your van-mates by putting post-run outfits into bags, as well. Don’t think you stink? Take a good whiff as you re-open each bag when home, and let me know if you beg to differ!

…lube up. 

You can thank me later on this one. Even after spraying myself from head to toe with liberal amounts of TriSlide, I still have a few hot spots from my dusty leg 21 where the grit started to grind in between my skin and my clothes. Nothing will stop you in your tracks faster than a blister, so when in doubt, protect any and all sensitive skin.

…trust in yourself and your team.

There’s no way to get through this without an incredible amount of teamwork, so look for opportunities to pitch in, whether it’s driving a few legs, helping to navigate, being in charge of van organization or even hooking up your teammates with a place to crash. You’ll be amazed at what your body can do, and what you can achieve together!

The DON’Ts…

…forget to pace yourself.

This goes for everything across the board — from running to fueling to sleep, etc. You probably won’t even feel your first run, but remember that you’ve got two full cycles of the same in 24+ hours, so treat it like a marathon instead of a sprint in order to finish strong.

…expect to stay organized.

Our running joke was, “Have you seen my…?” And this was in two vans of highly-organized women, so you can imagine the sheer mayhem that goes on in vans with lower levels of OCD. Do your best to keep your own stuff corralled into one or two bags, then make team bags of communal items, such as food, first aid and night gear, to help.

…think you can get by on minimal clothing/gear.

There’s a fine line between bringing excessive amounts of crap into an already-crowded van and having to spend the night shivering in your only cold, wet running outfit. Do yourself a favor and pack one full outfit (complete with socks and underwear) for each leg, plus a spare pair of shoes and an outfit for downtime/after the race.

…ignore the importance of recovery. 

Sure, you’re riding high on adrenaline, but there will be peaks and valleys throughout the race, so avoid digging yourself into a hole at all costs. If you want to run well, you’ve got to double-down on the non-running activities: After each leg, re-fuel with protein, stretch out, change into dry clothes and rest up as much as possible.

…leave home without your sense of humor.

Inevitably, you’ll end up in a situation that’s out of your control. And it’ll happen when you’re low on sleep and not firing on all cylinders. If/when that happens, take a deep breath, take a step back and try to laugh about it. Remember: Any race is a success when you can come out of it with sore legs from running — and sore abs from laughing.

A final 'do?' Get to know the Honey Bucket, your best friend/worst nightmare during the race

A final ‘do?’ Get to know the Honey Bucket, your best friend/worst nightmare during the race

What are your relay dos and don’ts?

Hood to Coast prep: Packing for an overnight relay

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Let the countdown begin! Hood to Coast is coming up this weekend, so I made my list, checked it twice and started prepping early to avoid forgetting any last-minute items.

Because I’m an overnight relay newbie, my due diligence consisted of cross-checking a few different lists to see what people recommend. Here’s a peek at what I’m packing:

  1. Coeur Sports hat for sun protection (day) and warmth (night)
  2. Garmin Forerunner 910XT for tracking mileage during my legs
  3. TriSlide for keeping chafage at bay
  4. Flip flops for letting my feet breathe between legs
  5. A comfy outfit for down-time
  6. CEP compression calf sleeves if I decide I need support
  7. Four different running outfits (we’re down a runner, so I’m doing four legs)
  8. Petzl headlamp for nighttime running
  9. Sunglasses to shield eyes during the day
  10. Bonk Breaker bars to stay fueled
  11. Lacrosse ball to massage out any tight spots
  12. A towel for mopping sweat or drying off post-shower
  13. Lululemon waterproof hoodie, just in case it rains
  14. Bag to transport all my gear
  15. Travel pillow so I can try to catch a few winks
  16. Osmo Active Hydration for Women
  17. S! Caps for electrolytes and salt
  18. Antacid tablets to ward off tummy troubles
  19. Nuun for keeping electrolyte levels in check
  20. Deodorant to help keep me (and the van) from stinking
  21. Sunscreen for during my daytime legs
  22. Backpack to carry additional items
  23. Two pairs of running shoes to swap every leg
  24. Sigvaris performance socks for recovery between legs
  25. Napsack jacket/sleeping bag combo for staying warm while dozing

Not pictured:

  • Waterproof tarp for keeping my sleeping bag dry
  • Knuckle Lights for nighttime running
  • Socks & underwear — five pairs, one for each leg plus a spare set
  • Shower Pill body wipes to help clean up
  • Colgate Wisps disposable toothbrushes to freshen up
  • Misc food to stay fueled — PB&J sandwiches, potato chips, etc.
  • Misc. meds/first aid — Advil, pepto, chapstick, ear plugs, etc.
  • Cell phone and chargers to stay in touch
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bags to sort outfits and gear

Let’s hope I’m not missing anything! What are your must-have items for overnight relays?

No sleep ’til Seaside…or Calistoga

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Every runner has a bucket list, whether it’s to cover a certain distance, reach a specific time goal or sample a new kind of event to keep yourself feeling challenged. And while the first two are usually moving targets (read: works-in-progress), the third is actually something you can feel the satisfaction of checking off the list.

That’s precisely why, when I was asked to join two 24-hour relays — one in Oregon and one in California — this summer/fall, I jumped at the chance for both.

Now, my idea of a fun weekend isn’t exactly jumping into a van with strangers, then depriving ourselves of sleep and running without showering three times over so we can cover 200 miles together… But you know what? I’ve heard that it’s a bonding experience, a chance to make new friends and create some pretty cool memories, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

And I guess now I’ll just have twice the tales to tell afterward!

What is Hood to Coast?

The “Mother of all Relays,” Hood to Coast is one of the longest and largest relays in the world with 12,600 runners (1,050 teams of 12) tackling a 200-mile course that runs from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, through the Portland metropolitan area, and over the Oregon Coast Range to the beach town of Seaside on the Oregon coast.

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Hood to Coast began in 1982 with eight teams and has filled the team cap on the opening day of registration for the last 16 years straight.

There’s even a whole documentary dedicated to the event, the Hood to Coast movie, which covers four unlikely teams on their epic journey to conquer the race. I watched it a few years back, and was instantly hooked; check out the trailer here.

What is Ragnar? 

As the Ragnar Relay Series’ official “run now, wine later” race, Ragnar Relay Napa Valley is set in — you guessed it — Northern California’s wine region during harvest season. Teams start from San Francisco and race across the Golden Gate Bridge, then experience the rolling hills and farmland of Petaluma before heading toward the Valley of the Moon.

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Just as with Hood to Coast, teams of 12 are split evenly into two vans. Only one runner hits the road at a time, and each participant runs three times, with each leg ranging between three and eight miles and varying in difficulty. As they say, “Some call it a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant.”

Yep. It’ll be run, drive, eat, sleep (?), repeat for 200+ miles as we trek through my old stomping grounds. Check out the promo video for the event here.

Two 24-hour relays in two months…are you crazy?!

The short answer: Quite possibly. But you already knew that, right?

The long(er) answer: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about taking the plunge on not one, but two. I mean, I like my sleep, and if given the choice I’d prefer not to stink up a van with five others as we hang out in our filth for a whole day.

But…I’m also eager to switch up my racing routine, which will keep me motivated during this marathon training cycle. And if I’m looking on the bright side of not sleeping for 24+ hours (if there is one), these races will not only allow me to get more experience running on tired legs, but I can also cross two big items off my bucket list.

Although I’ll likely need a nice, long nap at the end.

Hood to Coast is August 22-23, and Ragnar Napa Valley is September 19-20. Stay tuned for race recaps with all the details as I cover almost 400 miles with my respective teams!