Beat The Blerch

  • November 14th, 2015
  • Sacramento, California
  • Beat The Blerch
  • Sharon: 2:31:10
  • Tim: 2:30:15

 

This run made both of us realize how much we missed doing races. Given how I felt about the last month of races during our HM project this was a surprise to me. We have decided to try to do a HM about once a month leading up to our full marathon.

We got a late start (because we are getting old and dotterly) Friday morning so we didn’t get to Sacramento until after 5pm. I think we hit the after work rush at packet pickup. Although the line was long it moved pretty fast. At one point a guy in a blerch suit worked his way up the line, handing out candy and encouraging everyone to carb load.

You must keep up your strength

You must keep up your strength

We got our packets and jumped into another line to get Matt Imman (The Oatmeal) to sign our book and Exploding Kittens card game. There was blerchy merchandise for sale. Tim got another t-shirt (!?) and I got socks. We both got blerch stress balls.

Tim also got a picture with The Oatmeal like the fan boy he is (his words).

Awkward guy hug

Awkward guy hug

Race morning was perfect. It started out a little chilly but was perfect running weather.

Another before picture

Another before picture

A lot of people dressed up. The pre-race was very festive.

I run for cup cakes

I run for cup cakes

I want these running tights

I want these running tights

The perfect couple

The perfect couple

Donuts were a theme

Donuts were a theme

Our packet came with temporary blerch tattoos but we forgot to put them on. I found a girl who put her tatto in the same place I had planned to put mine and she graciously let me take her picture.

Thanks Cinnamon - you look adorable

Thanks Cinnamon – you look adorable

They did a great pre-race party. This was the funnest race I have ever done.

Motivational sign

Motivational sign

Who are we to argue with the wisdom of the blerch?

Who are we to argue with the wisdom of the blerch?

This is before the race started

This is before the race even started

There was a pretty long line to get a picture with these guys so we skipped it. I want to know where to get Nutella in the, bigger than a yeti’s head, size.

Did you get that at Costco?

Did you get that at Costco?

The race itself was great. Tim had a bit of a flareup with his afib at the beginning but it settled down and he was able to run most of the race. They picked a nice route. I was surprised at what a beautiful city Sacramento is. There are lots of paths by rivers and great bridges.

We ran past the capital building.

Beat The Blerch

I heard lots of people laughing when we went by this sign. I wish I had a pen on me so I could have written, “Don’t Jump!”

Fly!

Fly!

As awesome as the scenery was it was the people who were the most interesting.

I think that blerch was flirting with my husband

I think that blerch was flirting with my husband

It's a donut parade

It’s a donut parade

Tim asked if she was the Dark Ghost of Halloween. No - she was a Japanese Hornet

Tim asked if she was the Dark Ghost of Halloween. No – she was a Japanese Hornet

My favorite was the Taco Cat

My favorite was the Taco Cat

Me and Tim ran together most of the race but I had to stop and go to the bathroom around mile 6. One of my only complaints about this race was the lack of bathrooms on the course. I was directed to a building (after asking at 2 aid stations) and there was someone with a blerch suit pointing out the bathroom. Because I came in the wrong door I lost about 5 minutes to 5 seconds of peeing. Tim ran ahead but I did manage to catch back up to him but I ran faster than I should have, trying to do so and payed for it that last 3 miles. I was sore and had to slow down towards the end. A race with cake and Nutella should have more bathrooms, in my opinion.

Most of the running surface was smooth pavement and nice bike paths but there was one section of bumpy wood boardwalk that tried to trip me.

Beat The Blerch

Once we got close to the end Tim was trying to speed up while I had to slow down so I told him to go. Coming through the finish chute I got boxed in by a group of people in banana suits pretending to fly.

Tim was waiting for me across the finish line. The finish line and food line were too close together. This was the only other thing about the race (bathrooms being the first) that was less than ideal. I discovered that banana with Nutella is a perfect after race food.

I love my medal

I love my medal

Cons

  • A couple more bathrooms on the course would have been appreciated (although they did have a few)
  • Finish line chaos

Pros

  • Great pre-party fun vibe
  • Pictures and book signing at the packet pickup
  • Great shirt and swag
  • Well organized
  • Great volunteers
  • People dressed up
  • Awesome food (during and after the race)
  • Beautiful course
  • Bridges and rivers
  • Ending on the track
  • Cool medal
  • Fun
  • Free pictures
After - I wish my hair would grow faster

After – I wish my hair would grow faster

This was one of the funnest races I have ever done. I was never bored even though I forgot my music in the hotel room. It was so fun to run almost the whole way with Tim. This race would be the perfect gateway drug into racing. It was beyond beginner friendly with many half marathoners coming in over 3 hours. It was almost completely flat and had lots of aid stations. Did I mention how fun it was?

Here I am looking like a beet dressed like hipster, posing in front of the Tower Bridge on our way to dinner Saturday night. After dinner we watched the Ronda Rousey fight. I was shocked that she lost.

Beat The Blerch

And here is Tim on our way to dinner and the fight.

Tim gets run over by  river par art

Tim gets run over by river park art

Oh Tim - you're so silly

Oh Tim – you’re so silly

When we got home as soon as Tim sat on the bed he was wearing a cat.

Don't ever leave home for 2 home nights again.

Don’t ever leave me home alone for 2 whole nights again.

Please leave a comment.

I want to start out my HM project conclusion remarks with a big shoutout to my awesome husband, Tim. This project was as much his as it was mine. He not only agreed to do this HM project with me (I thought for sure he would tell me I was crazy)[I think I did! – Tim] for my birthday but he financed the whole thing, did all the driving, typed the blog, took pictures, and saw me through some pretty embarrassing meltdowns. Thanks Tim, this project helped me wake up from the depression I was sinking into in Elkton. It reversed my weight gain trend and helped me feel a sense of control over my life again.

On a lighter note, we still didn’t get to sleep in last weekend. Our sleeping plans were thwarted by our cat, Meowse, who has developed a strange new behavior. Between 4 and 5am, she starts walking around the apartment, meowing at the top of her voice. I have to figure out how to make this stop. Yelling, “Shut the fuck up”, does not work and I’m sure, just annoys the neighbors.

A Meowse on Tim's lap

She is usually so quiet.

So here we go with one of Sharon’s favorite activities, making lists.

 

Worst 3 runs

  1. Gateway to the Gorge (this was a no brainer for both of us)
  2. Shoreline Half Marathon (Sharon)
    St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon (Tim)
  3. St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon (Sharon)
    Mojave Marathon (Tim)

Top 3 runs

  1. Bizz Johnson Express Half Marathon
  2. Newport Half Marathon
  3. The Enchanted Forest Wine Run

Top 3 uncoolest things about the HM Project

  1. Chafing (ballsack, underarms, nipples, arms, anus, thighs)
  2. The weekly commute
  3. Running in cold rain (Sharon)
    Running in heat (Tim)

Top 3 coolest things about the HM Project

  1. Meeting awesome people, hearing their stories and making new friends
  2. Exploring new places
  3. Testing our physical (and mental) limits

It was impossible for us to pick our top 3 favorite pictures so I am just going to end this with a bunch of our favorite photos. Remember you can click on the photo to make it full screen.

#52 - San Francisco

This is my favorite picture of us

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

Photography by Pat
Tim Takes the high road

#34 Spring Equinox

Our first sign

San Dieguito - Hash House Harriers

I want to join this club

EWEB Run to Stay Warm - Tim

This is what happens when Tim dresses himself

Run Like Hell - Ms. Kraut

Know what goes great with a hot dog – beers

Run Like Hell - Costumed

Drowned butterfly and butterfly hunter

Fans with Tim Olsen

Fans with Tim Olsen

Tim Olsen - The Mad Hatter

Tim Olsen – The Mad Hatter

Shoe Tree

Shoe Tree

Sharon on the beach

Sharon on the beach

#49 7 Day

Tim knew

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

At least our before picture looks different this time

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#52 - San Francisco

They monogrammed our city for us – Tim

Bizz Johnson -

Camping at Wooldridge winery

Camping at Wooldridge winery

#42 Mojave

Look closely

20150118_084959

4midible

#36 Peace-Love-Run

Awesome!

#42 Mojave

#35 Chino Hills

I’ve had better runs

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

It’s a race, don’t shoot

Big Sur - Sunrise

Normal people are all still in bed

 

What’s next?

This is by no means the end of our running journey. We are doing our first full marathon (Beat the Blearch) in November. I plan to write a couple blog posts about our training and of course, a longer piece after our first marathon. I’m scared about doing a marathon so soon but comforted by the fact that there will be couches (really). As this was Tim’s idea, I look forward to doing something crazy that he suggested for once.

Thank you everyone who has been reading me throughout this journey. A special thank you to those of you who took the time to comment. It’s not over yet. Please continue to read as we work towards our first full marathon.

Last chance to leave a comment on 52-Tshirts.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

  • July 18th, 2015
  • Long Beach, California
  • Rock The Ocean
  • Sharon: 2:38:15
  • Tim: 2:39:29

 

51 down only 1 to go!

It just got real. About the middle of this run, it hit me that unless one of us brakes a leg or the Zombie Apocalypse happens before next Sunday, we really are going to finish this HM project. I got a little emotional (but I didn’t cry). I have a tendency to start projects then move on to something else before completing the project I’m working on, so it feels good to know I’m going to see this through, regardless of how misguided it may have been.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

Sunrises never get old

This race was a bit of a disappointment. It was both me and Tim’s least favorite Charlie Alewine Racing, race but nowhere near our least favorite race of the HM year. Charlie was out of town and Haywood was filling in for him. This is a hard race report for me to write because I like Haywood but I need to write an honest report about my experience. This was another repeat race and at this point a big draw for me about repeating Charlies races is that Charlie recognizes us and treats us like old friends. Haywood asked my name twice even though it was a small race and he had met me at 4 other races, one of which he talked to us for a while and we told him about our HM project. Unfortunately, Haywood needs to work on his organizational skills. Some examples… He told us we had 5 minutes before the start of the race at 6:14 (the race started at 6:30) so I ran to the bathroom. He thought I was doing the quarter marathon when I came through the first loop (that bothered me way more than it should have). He asked me my time as I sprinted to the finish and asked me a couple of time before someone told him to give me a minute. I was literally so winded I couldn’t talk and it was distressing that he didn’t notice something that obvious. I was making – give me a minute – hand gestures. He also had no table and had food and drink on his car hood. I like that Charlies races are low-key but all of these little things added up to a race that bordered on being sloppy. To be fair, Haywood had been up since 3am so it is not surprising that he was a little loopy.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

Yay clouds – I hate it when the sun tries to kill me during a race

The weather was blissfully cloudy. It even rained a bit. A nice rain, not like the mean, cold rains that we endured in Oregon.

This just wasn’t my day. I was hoping everything would come together and I would have a chance to go after a final PR but my Achilles started hurting almost right away. Even so, I tried to run for as long as I could. It helped that Tim ran with me for the first half of the race. I made it almost 10 miles before I had to take a walk break. At the half way point Tim had to stop and deal with the parking. He lost over 15 minutes because the parking ticket machine was having issues.

There were a couple of things about this race that made it more of an obstacle course than usual. There was some sort of beach festival and trucks were parked in the pedestrian path for unloading.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

Tempting to stop running and go shopping

Another issue was that A Better World Running was also having a race that day. It was a fairly large race (for a beach path) and had some oblivious runners hogging the path.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

Please share the path

My body was exhausted before, during, and after this race. I was glad when it was over. My favorite thing about this race was thinking about how I only have 1 more race to run and then I get to not run for 2 weeks (or until my Achilles stops hurting). Although that makes it sound like I just want to get this project over, I am super excited to be running in my favorite city, San Francisco, next weekend. I tried to run as hard as I could but by mile 2 I knew I had no chance of a PR. I did manage a finishing sprint but my asthma does not like the humidity, so I was gasping for air and unable to talk for about 5 minutes. My Tucson lungs find high humidity like breathing soup. Nothing too awful happened this race. I didn’t have stomach problems and I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out from heat but I just couldn’t find the motivation to ignore my pain and dig deep. I missed my PR by over 10 minutes. I was sore on the way home but not as sore as last week, so that’s something. I know I really pushed this race because I was sore the next day.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

Hang in there – only one more race

Haywood did a great job with the after race food and beverages. I discovered that I love Vitamin Water after running. I took a Martinelli’s to go. Haywood also had a giant bag (50 pounds) of giant potatoes. So everyone got a potato. I like potatoes. Thanks Haywood – that was a nice touch.

#51 - Rock the Ocean

This wins the unique swag award

Cons

  • We missed Charlie
  • Haywood needs to be a little more organized
  • Charlie has done away with trophies ( this is one of the few races that we actually have a chance at a trophy)
  • Better World Running seems to be taking over this location
  • Unloading trucks on the path
  • Parking ticket machine was on the fritz

Pros

  • Parking at the start/finish
  • Great running surface
  • Beautiful views
  • Free giant potato
  • Overcast
  • Excellent assortment of food and beverages
  • Although he was a bit scattered Haywood obviously cared about this race and was very friendly
#51 - Rock the Ocean

Raul Santana doing the 50K

Although it sounds like I am so over this HM running thing I am really looking forward to next weekend. We are finishing our project in style with the The San Francisco 1st Half Marathon. San Francisco is a very special place for us. We moved there shortly after we met and SF is where Tim proposed to me. I’m going to enjoy that race if I have to walk the entire course. There will be no PR attempts next weekend. My goal is to take a record number of pictures.

I would always recommend Charlies races, preferably when Charlie is there, which is most of the time. Charlie is clearly the heart of his races and the vibe is different when he is absent. I missed his upbeat but calm and focused energy. If you decide to do this race and Better World Running is having an event as well, pay close attention to the turnaround markers. If I wasn’t familiar with this course, I would have turned around a little too soon because BWR starts in a different place and has their own chalk directions. This will not be our last Charlie Alewine Racing race. And that is the best recommendation I can give. If you read this, Sorry Charlie (I’ve been dying to write that), I know this is the most negative review I have given any of your races. We will see you some weekend as a training run, as we are foolishly doing a full marathon in November.

Only 2 more chances to leave a comment. I love comments as much as I love bridges and chocolate milk at races.

#50 Shoreline

 

50 down only 2 to go!

Since my last couple posts have been whiny, bitch fests, I see no reason to change my tone now. Seriously – I was hoping my last 3 race reports would be positive, inspirational, and fun to read. But alas, it was not to be. This race was a mess.

The race was on Sunday so we got a hotel Saturday night planning to get a good nights sleep before the race. Alas, that was not to be, either. Around midnight a loud girl was fighting with someone and the cops came. Then, about 2am some people decided to have a party in the courtyard right outside our window. Tim asked them to keep it down and they did, for about 5 minutes. He called the front desk and someone kicked them out. We got up at 6am. Tim commented that we would have been better off if we had skipped the hotel and just got up at 3am (the usual) to drive to Ventura.

The area we stayed at in Ventura had lots of thrift stores. I love thrift stores! I bought 2 shirts (only $3 each) and helped an animal shelter.

#50 Shoreline

No – I will not dress my age

The HM started out at 8am, which I think is a little late for a race in July. This was one of the most disorganized races we have done. I’m glad we didn’t opt for the day of race packet pickup. There was a long, slow moving line. The MC announced that the race started in 20 minutes and people should have gotten there earlier or picked up their packets the day before. Really? – Dont offer a service and then berate people for using it. They also said they had a bag check but no one knew where it was. A pacer who needed to get to her corral was frantically trying to find the bag check. We finally got our bags checked but some of the volunteers were downright rude.

#50 Shoreline

The weather report said cool and cloudy

Standing in our corral we got talking to a guy name Dale who was doing a HM a month. He started running after beating cancer. This was his 26th HM. We talked to him and his wife after the race, as well.

#50 Shoreline

Just an awesome dude kicking cancers ass

The weather report said cool and cloudy. It lied. This was the hottest race we have done this year. We have been really lucky this summer but this race was hot and I definitely got a case of heat exhaustion. I was really worried about Tim because one of his afib triggers is heat but he had a great race (yay).

I’m glad I wore my goofy looking Hoka shoes because my feet hurt more during this HM than any other race. In spite of my not running at all during the week for the last couple of weeks, my Achilles tendon started hurting almost immedieatly, as soon as I started to run. Also, a blister popped. Did I mention my black toenails. Poor feet – I promise to rest you after 2 more races.

#50 Shoreline

Really – you had to show us that?

I did have some good conversations this race. I talked to a guy who was running with his son in the same way I run with Tim, meaning they were both way ahead of us. We ran together for about 3 miles. I also talked to a woman and her teenage daughter who were running together.

It was a beautiful course. At least they did that right. Unfortunately it was a popular path with agro guys on 10 speeds who appeared to be out for a training ride, very scary. You also had to watch out not to get clotheslined by dogs on leashes.

#50 Shoreline

The views were the best thing about this HM

This race started out warm and got hot. No clouds. The last half of the race I was both sweating and had chills. I got to the point where I was walking every couple of minutes.

This race made the one unforgivable fuck up. They ran out of water. As a race director, even if you get everything else right (not something this race was guilty of) you have failed if you run out of water. The last 2 aid stations were out of water and one before it ran out of cups. I came in 380th out of 415, so there were a lot of people behind me who had a long way to go without water. The volunteers blamed the heat. I understand that people drank more because it was hot out but the heat made it even more dangerous for runners who now had no water. They had water at the end and someone could have taken water to an aid station. When I suggested it to a group of volunteers just hanging out (8 teenagers) they shrugged with a not my job attitude.

#50 Shoreline

Weird running kit

They had tacos and beer after the race but the line was so long we didn’t even bother. I felt so awful I just wanted to take a shower and go home. This was one of the most demoralizing races of this project for me. I thought I had made a breakthrough and here I am back at my old race times. Everything hurt after this race. I practically crawled the 3 blocks back to the hotel.

Next week we are doing a repeat Charlie Alewine race. That’s the race I targeted for my last PR attempt. I may need to rethink that. I want to be able to run our last race. Even if I take it easy next weekend I will still be happy to be doing a familiar race that I know has a good running surface. Damn it feet – heal.

Cons

  • Chaotic bag drop
  • MC berates runners in line at packet pickup
  • Very hot
  • Agressive bicyclists
  • Crowded course
  • Uninformed volunteers
  • Ugly t-shirt with lots of sponsor logos
  • After finish you had to walk to the other side of expo for water
  • Long line for tacos and beer
  • Ran out of cups
  • Ran out of water! Last 2 aid stations
  • An overall lack of caring about runners

Pros

  • Many very nice volunteers
  • Nice beach views
#50 Shoreline

But she did survive

I hated this race. Even if they hadn’t run out of cups and water this would have been a mediocre race at best. The combination of my body falling apart (sore feet and heat) and the one fuck up after another that this HM was, mentally defeated me. I do not recommend this race. I would never recommend a race that runs out of water with almost 100 runners still on the course. Shame on you, Shoreline HM. Even carrying my own water I got a nasty case of heat exhaustion that lasted about 9 hours. Come run the beach path but don’t bother with this race. It was a mess with a bad attitude.

#50 Shoreline

Dinner

Oh no, what have we done? We signed up for our first full marathon. We are doing the Beat the Blerch marathon in November. I don’t think that is enough time to train for a marathon but it’s on Tim’s birthday weekend and that’s what he wants to do.

Please cheer Sharon up by leaving a comment. Come on – only 2 more chances to leave a comment.

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#49 7 Day

 

49 down only 3 to go.

Just like last weeks race this was another, it’s the closest race to us, repeat race. We did this exact race only 4 races ago (#45 Rock The Ocean). At the end of that post I wrote, “Well damn – next month I have to run faster than 2:27:10.” At the time I did have this race pegged as my next PR attempt. I nixed that idea in a rare fit of common sense. I have been having a problem with my left Achilles tendon. It is sore even when I walk. Also, the 2 blisters on the pads of my feet, while almost gone, are still tender. Because I have been trying to let my Achilles tendon heal I haven’t been running during the week. I have also gained back 4-6 pounds (damn it). So while I did try to run most of this race I took it relatively easy, meaning I actually looked at the ocean more than I looked at my watch.

I love that Charlies races start at 6:30am. It helps beat the heat but also means that we have to get up at 3:00am to be there by 6ish.

#49 7 Day

Don’t we look patriotic

Although charlie has t-shirts we decided not to take one this race. We already have 3 of his shirts, any more and it will start to look like Charlie dresses us.

This was a special race because it was Hank Donigan’s 100th marathon! Charlie brought a cake.

#49 7 Day

Cake!

Once again my stomach was nauseous before and during the race. This time I can’t blame french fries or killer Mai Tais. Luckily, the course route had lots of bathrooms. I have had to duck into the facilities in a couple of races but this is the first time I had to use the restroom twice in one race. I’m so glad I didn’t target this race for a PR or I would have been sitting on the toilet pulling my hair out.

#49 7 Day

Did I forget to mention that my big toe hurts?

Even though I had tummy issues and my feet hurt, I enjoyed this run. This race is all run on a beautiful beach path. What’s not to love? My life is so awesome that I can choose to suffer for fun.

#49 7 Day

That girl has terrible running form

#49 7 Day

And she is really blurry

We wanted to dress a little patriotic for the 4th of July so I tried on my only pair of blue running shorts fully expecting them to cut off my circulation. They fit! These are the shorts I used to run in before I gained my Elkton weight. I am over the moon happy about fitting into my old running clothes, even if they are a little tight. I found a great shirt for Tim. I wasn’t sure he would wear it running because it’s cotton but he did. He said it gave him one chaffed nipple. Yes – just one. It’s not recommended to run in cotton. I think he looked awesome.

#49 7 Day

Damn – I’m good at shopping

This course was an out and back, done twice for the HM ( 4 times for the full marathon). I like seeing Tim. He always looks so happy to see me that I get an energy boost.

There was another, much larger, 4th of July race that started at 7:30am. I managed to time it just right. I was running towards their start line right before their race started, so the entire path was blocked. Again, I’m glad I wasn’t trying for a PR or I probably would have tried to barrel through the crowd. It wasn’t a big deal to go around them. The only reason I am even mentioning it is because it was a pretty uneventful race for me and this was one of the only out of the ordinary things that happened, except for my bathroom issues, which I am being vague about on purpose because I want readers next week.

#49 7 Day

Hah – Tim is usually the one doing the photo bombing

#49 7 Day

Tim knew

On a completely different topic I just started massage school and, so far, I love it. I’m very excited about starting a life in San Diego.

Cons

  • No trophies this week (We both would have gotten one)
  • Charlie’s website dosen’t work on my phone

Pros

  • Another well organized race
  • Close parking
  • Cool medal featuring Hanks 100th marathon
  • Beautiful course
  • Great running surface
  • Great food
  • Interesting, friendly runners
  • We are fond of Charlie, which make his races more enjoyable for us

I don’t think it will come as a surprise that I would indeed recommend this, or any of Charlie’s races. He puts on a well organized, fun event with great food. This is the 4th Charlie Alewine race we have run and at every race we have met some fascinating people. Being able to park next to the start/finish line is a big plus for a beginning runner, or anyone attempting a new distance. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that this race is on a public beach path with plenty of bathrooms and water fountains, so anyone can just come out and run this course for free. That maybe true but being in a race is fun. We always enjoy Charlie’s races. And really, that’s what it’s all about.

#49 7 Day

In fact, we like this race so much that we are going to run it again in 2 weeks. OK – we’re doing it because it’s the closest race that weekend but we did have an option that was only about another hour away. We chose this race for a reason other than laziness, cost and the pleasure of Charlies company. I wanted to do this race again because I am going to make a last attempt at a PR. My A goal is 2:25 and my B goal is 2:27:09. Even if I fail I promise to run as hard as I can.

Only 3 more chances to leave a comment.

#48

 

48 down only 4 to go.

“I can tell you’re tired, and it sounds like you both are very ready for this to be something wonderful you did in the past.”, my friend, Marilyn, wrote in comments last week and I quoted her because I couldn’t have said it better myself. I hate to admit how much I did not want to run Saturday. This race was a low point both mentally and physically for me. Traveling is more exhausting than running.

After our race last weekend in Mammoth Lakes we had a long drive to San Francisco, where we ate and drank too much, then we had another long drive home. We were beat by the time we got back to San Diego. Thanks to Tim for doing all the driving (even if his driving scares me) as I hate to drive.

The last thing I need to discover is another fried food I love but that’s what happened in San Francisco. Fried pickles! We went out to eat (and drink) with Tim’s boss, Brandon and Brandon’s girlfriend. They ordered fried pickles as an appetizer. My first thought was WTF. I would never have ordered this but after trying them I had to stop myself eating the entire basket. Really – if you ever have a chance to try fried pickles, do it.

We woke up Saturday morning and both agreed that it felt like we had done a race only a couple of days ago, not 6 days ago.

This was the exact same race we did when Marilyn was visiting. It was the closest race that weekend and we wanted to do as little traveling as possible. Fortunately, no crazy guy tried to wash our car this time but unfortunately, Marilyn wasn’t there to take pictures and lift our spirits. I was glad we were doing a relatively close race on a familiar course. Given how tired I was, familiarity was comforting.

#48 Summer Celebration Half Marathon

At least we remembered to take a before picture

This race was an out and back, done twice for the half marathon. I like out and backs because it makes me happy to see Tim. During this race it was nice to see him in front of me because I assumed that meant his afib wasn’t acting up.

#48 Summer Celebration Half Marathon

Smile for the camera

Except for feeling more beat than usual this was a pretty uneventful run for me. I was able to pass 2 people in the last quarter of this race. At this point, I’ve had just a little practice pacing myself at races.

#48 Summer Celebration Half Marathon

A welcome sign

I tried to pick it up when I saw Tim at the finish line aiming his camera at me. Someone yelled “Sprint in” and I yelled back, “I am.” I’m glad Tim got this picture because we forgot to take an after picture.

#48 Summer Celebration Half Marathon

I am sprinting

After the race we talked to a woman who is doing a half marathon a month for a year. She started in January. I love hearing cool stuff like that. Good luck in San Francisco. Tim suggested that our next project should be a movie every weekend. Sounds like a plan.

Cons

  • Parking lot opens at 7:00am for a 7:30am race
  • No t-shirt

Pros

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

 

47 down only 5 to go.

Only a month of races left! I know Tim is looking forward to not driving hundreds of miles every weekend. Besides the Auburn race (FOURmidable) this is the furthest we have traveled for a race since we moved to San Diego. I love the Mammoth Lakes area and wish we could have spent more time there. We stayed at the race hotel, The Village Lodge. It was one of the nicest rooms we have stayed at and I highly recommend it if you do this race, or are just visiting Mammoth. That said, even with the race discount, it was quite pricey.

Saturday night we ate at a Hawaiian themed restaurant whose name I can’t remember [Lakanuki – Tim]. I had the strongest Mai Tai I have ever had. So even though I planned on only having one drink, I’m pretty sure I had 3 or 4 in that one glass. I had Tim try it because he gave me the look he gives me when he thinks I am being too dramatic, and he said “Whoa!”, with raised eyebrows of agreement. In the past I have made the clear connection between eating fried food the night before a race and being nauseous during a race. I saw coconut shrimp on the menu. How does someone just forget that deep battered coconut shrimp is a fried food? I paid for it race morning.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

Sharon does not approve of blond Sharon

The food was wonderful but it was the crazy surf art I really loved.

Except for packet pickup, which was a little chaotic, this race was extremely well organized. It was also incredibly beautiful with desert, lake, and forest views. Unfortunately, as we feared, the altitude set off Tim’s a-fib. It acted up even before he started running. We both woke up feeling headachey, tired, and nauseous. The problem with staying in a hotel with the most comfy bed ever is that we did not want to get up. Even though we were able to sleep in until 5am it was a hard bed to leave.

We caught the bus to the start almost right outside our door. It was really chilly Sunday morning. This race was handing out Mylar blankets before the race. Even though it was a fairly small race they had a drop bag option. Well done.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

At least our before picture looks different this time

I both loved and hated this race. I hated it because it was hard to breath and run at altitude for the first half. Also, running 13.1 miles on the verge of puking (thanks fried shrimp and monster Mai Tai) is not fun. I loved everything else about this race. If I had been feeling better I think this would have been my favorite road race. The scenery was beyond incredible. I was grateful that this race was so well organized because I was in no mood for nonsense.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

Yay – Pretty

I chatted with a couple who convinced me that the Las Vegas marathon would not be a good first marathon. Our next project is training for a marathon so if anyone has a suggestion for a good first marathon please leave it in the comments.

I started to walk much sooner than usual during this race. I was surprised that I had breathing/elevation problems because I used to run at 8000 feet on Mt Lemmon and wasn’t affected. In fact, I liked the thin crisp air.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

Amazing – a sign I haven’t seen before

A nice thing about beating Tim is that I get to take a picture of him sprinting to the finish.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

Go Tim – he beat her

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

Yep – that is a mammoth greeting incoming runners

Yay, they had chocolate milk and watermelon after the race. That race director must be a runner. We couldn’t stay for the after race party because we had to get back to our room so we could shower and check out of the room before hitting the road.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

We are so good we got 2 medals

Cons

  • Packet pickup was confusing and choatic
  • Trolly information gave us wrong directions

Pros

  • Very well organized with attention to details
  • Mylar blanket at the start
  • Plenty of port-o-pots at the start and along the course
  • Awesome scenery
  • Wonderful volunteers and plenty of aid stations
  • A couple of aid stations had pretzels and cool wipes!
  • Signs at the aid stations with mileage to next aid station
  • Fire truck sprinkler to run through
  • Chocolate milk and watermelon (as well as other food)
  • Nice long sleeve tech shirt
  • Huge cool medals with moving parts
#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

I’d rather be swimming

Unless you have a major altitude problem, I would recommend this race for everyone. This has everythng I look for in a race. It was well organized with friendly volunteers. The course was beautiful and had a net downhill. The shirt is wearable. If you are into medals, there is a special medal (with moving parts) for runners who did both the San Diego and the Mammoth HM. Both medals are impressive. Even with his afib problem and upset tummy Tim liked this race almost as well as I did. We even talked about doing it next year.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

Discovered we were sitting next to this

Short post this week because we didn’t get back from San Francisco until Wednesday night.

Only 6 more chances to leave a comment. Pretty please.

#47 Mammoth Half Marathon

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

 

46 down only 6 to go.

I have this weird idea that I love trail running. I have this unfounded belief that I am a better trail runner than road runner. I’m not sure where I got this belief as it is clearly not the case. All my epic fail, pain fest, races have been on trails. I hurt for 5 days after FOURmidable and I almost came in last at The Enchanted Forest Wine Run. Only 2 women (in fairy costumes) came in after me. As you probably guessed from this intro, this weeks race was another trail race. And it was not my best race of the year. I have noticed that I have more frequent and more intense asthma attacks during trail races. I think dust is a trigger.

I did something really stupid last weekend. After having a great race we came home and went for a walk on the beach. I wore my flip flops and carried them as we walked in the surf. After about a mile I noticed that my feet were hurting. It hurt even more when I put my flip flops back on. By the time we got home I had a huge blister on both pads of my feet. How stupid to get blisters after a race. I have been trying to run a couple times a week but needless to say I did no running leading up to this week.

Sunday morning we got to sleep in until 4am. This sounds like a bad joke but we have had to get up at 3am for almost all of our California races.

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

We had views of Otay Lake almost the whole race

This was actually a beautiful race. It was just an off day for me. I felt tired before I even started. This wasn’t an overly technical trail but I was in a clumsy mood. I kept tripping over rocks and roots. I wasted over 5 minutes trying to get sand out of my shoe. It would have made a good comedy skit. I took off my shoe to dump out the sand but I lost my balance and my foot landed in the sand, getting more sand in my shoe than I dumped out. I repeated this twice before I sat down rather than trying to balance one one foot. The trail was mostly single track with some out and backs and one small section of road. There were a couple sections of trail where runners were coming back on a single track trail that just didn’t fit two people. The bridges were really tricky with runners coming and going. I love bridges but these were a little in need of repair.

I like this series (it’s a Dirt Devil race) but I think they need chip timing. Gun timing makes us runners that start in the back seem even slower than we are. It also makes slow runners even less likely to make the cutoff. For really small races this isn’t an issue but for a mid sized race with age group prizes I think it is an issue. Just like the last Dirt Devil race we did (Foxy Half Marathon), I found this race well organized. I had a bit of a problem with a couple arrows that seemed to be pointing down 2 separate paths but Tim had no problems [except when I wasn’t paying attention and followed someone down the wrong path – Tim] so I think that is just my bad trail skills. At one point I actually waited for the person behind me to see which way they went. I had a pretty bad asthma attack and ended up walk/running the last half of the race. The weather app on my phone said the sun wouldn’t come out until 1pm, but it lied. The last 3 miles were in direct sun. Since living in Oregon I don’t deal well with heat.

We got another pint glass as swag after this race. We are getting quite a set. We also could have gotten a free beer but didn’t, Tim because he was driving and me because I just don’t want beer with breakfast. I sat in the shade and Tim got me water and a burrito. Tim is great – he always waits on me while I cool down and catch my breath. Burritos are great after race food.

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

Another after race picture in a parking lot

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

Hey! Who is that blond Tim’s kissing?

Cons

  • Gun timing only
  • Lots of dust
  • Some 2 way traffic on single track
  • I found some of the markers confusing (but I think it was just me)

Pros

  • Race day packet pickup
  • Parking near start/finish
  • Beautiful sceanery
  • Enthusiastic volunteers
  • Pint glasses (as well as a t-shirt and medal)
  • Burritos and beer
  • Free photos
#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

Photography by Pat
Tim Takes the high road

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

Photography by Pat
She looks tired

In spite of having a bad day I thought this was a well organized, beautiful race. There are a couple reasons that this might not be the best race for slower runners. They have a 3 hour cutoff but they didn’t enforce it, however they were taking down the start/finish line after 3 and a half hours with runners still on the course. Also, it isn’t pleasant to be a slow runner at a trail race because you end up eating the dust of those in front. This race only had one real climb and then rollers so it would be a good race to do if you wanted to try out trails but didn’t want to climb mountains. Aid stations were a bit sparse so bring your own water bottle and watch your footing on those wooden bridges.

I know that some people have had a problem with the comments link. If this is you, please try again – Tim made a fix. If you still have a problem commenting and you know my email address please leave a comment there. I really want to get this issue fixed so any feedback would be helpful. I’m sorry I can’t post my email address because my mailbox would be spammed.

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Preview: Next week we are running in Mammoth Lakes on Sunday and then spending a couple days in San Francisco. Tim is there for a work conference and I’m there to shop.

#46 Wild Horse Half Marathon

#45 Rock The Ocean

  • June 6th, 2015
  • Long Beach, California
  • Rock The Ocean
  • Sharon: 2:27:10
  • Tim: 2:21:28

 

45 down only 7 to go.

That was hard! Now I know how fast I can run when I try my hardest. Usually, when I start to hurt in a race, I slow down or walk. Not this race. Usually, I tell myself that I have to run next weekend, I’m not wimping out (right), I’m just being smart. I tell myself that all that matters is finishing, my time is not important. But this race time did matter. And I was determined to break 2:30. I ran as hard as I could. I’m so glad it’s over.

As always (it seems) that we had to get up at 3am to get to our race on time. I had my favorite race day breakfast of a banana with almond butter and a Mama Chia (apple flavor) as well as a large cup of coffee.

#45 Rock The Ocean

The Charlie Alewine (of Charlie Alewine Racing)

This is the exact same race course we did about a month ago (Beach Mania) where I got my HM project PR. Ever since then I have been targeting this race to break 2:30. Besides being a course I loved this was the closest race we could find. I like this course so much that we are doing it again next month. I know it might seem like it would be boring to do the same race more than once but I really like knowing what to expect. There’s a study which shows that if you are familiar with a course you will run it faster. I think I read that in Runners World. I recommend this as a way to gain an edge. Before my real PR (2:01:01) in Tucson I ran the course 3 times before race day. At this point, redoing a race is the only way for us to preview a course.

#45 Rock The Ocean

I’m a lumberjack (and I’m ok)

Saturday morning I was amped for this race. The weather was perfect and I felt good. Because the course was an out and back done twice it was easy to keep track of my splits. This course has the most perfect running surface. There is no dodging aggressive bicyclists because they have their own path. The running path has a slight elasticine feel. It’s like a track surface next to the beach.

#45 Rock The Ocean

Can we get something like this on the promenade in SD

I have 2 handheld water bottles so I came up with a plan that I hoped would cut a few seconds off my time. Hey, every second counts when you have a time goal. I left my second water bottle at the aid station so instead of stopping for water I just grabbed my full handheld at the halfway point. This was a beautiful run but I have to admit that I was looking at my watch and planning my walker evasive maneuvers more than looking at the scenery.

#45 Rock The Ocean

Tim takes a photo to show me what I missed

I waited until I was into the second half of the race to play my music. It helped. The last 4 miles were really hard. I had to keep reminding myself that it did matter. I repeated the mantra, “don’t walk” (sometimes out loud) rather frantically. With only two miles left I thought I was actually going to be able to run the whole race but a strange thing happened with just under a mile left. I came to a slight hill and my body just stopped running. There was no decision involved. I was actually surprised to find myself walking. It was the weirdest feeling. I only walked about 30 seconds. As soon as the tiny hill started trending downhill I forced myself to run again. It was not easy, everything hurt at that point. I was also feeling a bit nauseous. I had no end sprint in me. I ran across the finish line and collapsed on the curb while I waited for the darkness to stop swirling.

Usually after a HM I’m not hungry but after this one I was really hungry. One of the great things about Charlies races is the food. His aid station treats everyone like an ultrarunner. He has the perfect combination of sweet and salty foods. Never have pretzles and cookies tasted so good.

#45 Rock The Ocean

It took me about half an hour to stand up for this picture

We meet the most interesting people at Charlies races. Check out this girls story. (Blanca Ramirez) She holds the world record for being the youngest girl to run a marathon on all 7 continents. She was 12 when she achieved this. She said New Zealand (so on my bucket list) was her favorite. She ran the HM and her 6 year old brother ran the 10k.

#45 Rock The Ocean

You did what ?!

Completely off the topic of running: I’m sure everyone who knows me is thinking – WTF is up with that hair? Well my plan was to strip my hair then put a nice gold color on it. After stripping the color out my hair it was so dry that I decided to wait a week to put more color on it. I was afraid my hair would fall out. Hopefully next week I will be golden blond and not – a cotton ball and an orange mated on my head – blond.

Cons

  • I had to cut around a couple groups of walkers

Pros

  • We like the vibe of Charlies Races (friendly, low key)
  • Parking right next to the start/finish
  • Great running surface
  • Scenic with no chance of getting lost
  • Charlie keeps it inexpensive while still doing t-shirts, medals, trophies
  • Fully stocked aid station
  • Friendly interesting runners

I was very pleased with this race. And not just because I overnailed my goal and felt like the queen of willpower, but because Charlie puts on a good race. If you live anywhere near the LA area check out Charlie Alewine Racing. The only person I would not recommend charlies races for is someone who needs a lot of crowd support with aid stations every mile. Try one of Charlie’s races if you are looking for a more low key, personal race experience. This race was scenic, fun and I highly recommend it. Also being able to park next to the start/finish is a huge plus when you are exhausted and you just want to go home. See you next month Charlie.

Well damn – next month I have to run faster than 2:27:10.

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#45 Rock The Ocean

image

 

44 down only 8 to go.

Well damn, even when we do a race in San Diego we have to get up at 3am. We had to be at the parking garage by 5am to catch the shuttle to the start by 5:30am. We had to be there early because many roads were closed.

The Saturday expo was pretty impressive. Tim got a new pair of Altra shoes on sale as well as a bluetooth headphone set at a deep discount. I got a new sunscreen that claims to be healthier than the average sunscreen. Tim did a big running no-no, he wore his new shoes for the first time on race day. Luckily his feet didn’t blow up. In fact, he loved them.

We saw 92 year old Harriett Thompson being interviewed on the main stage. She started running at the age of 76 and has run 16 marathons. She is a 2 time cancer survivor and runs to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She was very sharp.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

The oldest woman to run a marathon
Also the fastest in her age group

We didn’t stick around to see Meb or Desi. Meb ran the HM and Desi was pacing the 2nd wave marathoners. There were some fast people in the HM. So fast that Meb came in second by seconds. We talked to a teacher who had one of Meb’s kids in her class. She said the whole family were the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

I was amused by the fitting rooms

We walked by a booth with a jumping contest. I talked Tim into trying and he took the lead in the over 40 age group. I didn’t play but probably would have if I had noticed how lame the over 40 womens jump was.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

They measure his reach

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

He jumps

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

The new over 40 high jumper

We had a lot of time to hang out before the race. Luckily there was music and quite a bit to look at. This is one of the only races we have done that had adequate port-o-pots. I have actually missed the start of a couple of races because I was still in line. Good investment, race director.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Tim’s new shoes match his shorts
(much to his dismay)

I was chilly even with my long sleeve shirt on so this guy must have been cold. He was also kind of creepy, not just because speedos are inherently creepy but because he was a little too touchy feely. On the other hand he was nice and did have great abs. Living by the beach I have seen men in speedos who make you want to yell, “put it on.” Men – never wear a speedo. Even if your body is perfect women will laugh at you.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Another picture of an almost nude man

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

The Haunting: For Jeannie

This was a huge race. We were in corral 20 of 25. Well, I was in corral 20. Tim was in 19 but came back and started the race with me.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Giant Meb head at the starting line

I made a conscious decision not to run this race too hard for a couple of reasons. I caught a mild version of what Tim had last week so I was feeling low energy, but mostly I wanted to focus on taking pictures and enjoying the run.

I didn’t think it was a particularly scenic course but it didn’t matter because the parade was great. These 3 were walking only a couple of miles into the race. And they did not look happy.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Princesses don’t run because sweat – Eww

The crowd support at this race was amazing. There were people playing music, lots of signs and cheering and yelling and costumes and even some bandit aid stations with tequila, mimosas, beer, and whisky. I had a small beer. There were also many chances to high 5 kids (not to be missed).

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Ouch – I believe you

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

The high school cheerleaders were cool but these were my favorite

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

It’s a race, don’t shoot

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

My favorite t-shirt

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

I found this both impressive & disturbing
(just like the speedo flag guy)

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

A saxy banana

There was also some great musical entertainment on this course. I didn’t get a picture of the woman who sang the national anthem but she had a lovely voice. Over the course of this project we have heard some intense, off key screeching so it was a pleasure not to wish for earplugs during the opening ceremony.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

I wish you could hear her voice
I had to stop and listen

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Awesome. I’m so glad Tim got this picture

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Speaking of earplug worthy

I did not like how crowded this race was. Usually a race with a lot of people thins out at some point but this race was crowded for my whole run. It was bottleknecked so bad in some places that we were walking. I was not able to run fast downhill, as I love to do, because I was dodging and route planning so there wouldn’t be any casualties.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

There was a Dr. Suess themed aid station!

During this race I had the worst experience of our HM project. Around mile 10 I had to use the port-o-pot. This guy coming out as I was going in muttered something like – I swear, I didn’t do it. I don’t usually write in initials but OMG. Apparently running effects aim. I tried to clean up the seat a bit because air squatting after running 10 miles is not an option. At least they still had toilet paper.

I thought this race was well organized until the very end. Once through the chute and after getting my medal people started handing me food. Unfortunately, there were more people handing me stuff than I had hands. I had to abandon my banana for chocolate milk. A bag at the finish line and someone directing traffic away from the finish line would have solved this problem. Instead people were milling around trying to eat the food and dropping stuff all over the place. It was a challenge to get out of there.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

My Hokas worked great (but they look so silly)

Cons

  • Quite pricey (but you get a lot)
  • Pricey Parking ($15 expo, $15 day of race)
  • Not very scenic
  • Way too crowded
  • Beware of on course port-o-pots
  • A bit of a mess at the end

Pros

  • Great expo with free stuff, deals, and running celebraties
  • Lots of port-o-pots
  • Wonderful crowd support
  • Fun costumes
  • Music on course
  • Great party vibe
  • Bandit adult beverage aid stations
  • enthusiastic volunteers
  • Medal is also a beer opener
  • Chocolate milk
  • Well organized and executed (except at the end)
  • Good after party
#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

On the way back to the parking garage

I would recommend this race if you are looking for a party and have a large race budget. We have done races that were cheaper than the parking for this race. Do not do this race if you are claustrophobic, hate hills, or want to PR (too crowded). Do this race if you want a big fun party destination race. You will never get bored during this run. If you thrive on crowd support you will love this race. Because your name is on your bib people will cheer for you by name. I like races a little smaller and more personal but an upside to an overcrowded race is that there is no chance of getting lost. A big plus for me.

On the subject of smaller and more personal (Tim and Charlie are now facebook friends) races, we are doing a repeat Charlie Alewine race next week. My plan is to run as hard as I can and try to break 2:30, so there won’t be as many pictures. I’m hoping that writing this will motivate me to push harder when I want to quit. I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself.

#44 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll

Take that Michelob ULTRA

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