• February 21st, 2015
  • Cool, California
  • FOURmidable
  • Sharon: 4:26:46
  • Tim: 3:03:13


30 down only 22 to go.

I got so excited when I found a HM that was run on the Western States course that my brain malfunctioned. I have to remember that just because a race is in California doesn’t mean that it is close. Apparently, I also forgot how to interpret what an elevation profile means in real life.


No problem – I’ll just walk the uphills

We left as soon as Tim got home from work but it was still almost 3am by the time we got checked into our hotel. Then the alarm went off at 5:30. We stayed at the Hawthorn Suites in Sacramento. I highly recommend this hotel. We tried to be out of the hotel by 6am because we still had an hour drive and a 8am start. Yay coffee.

Still blissfully unaware

Still blissfully unaware

It was a beautiful morning. The run down to No Hands Bridge was fun but muddy. Real trail runners don’t even slow down for puddles but I’m a wimp and hate to get my feet wet. I stopped a couple of times to figure out how to jump over the most narrow section. That never works. By mile 2 I had wet feet.

At the famous No Hands Bridge

At the famous No Hands Bridge

After the turn around at No Hands Bridge the work began. I hiked the small hill up to the base of K2 thinking that hike was steep. Hah. K2 was the most intense mountain I have ever climbed. Usually, during a race I walk the steep uphills but I couldn’t even walk up this trail without stopping to rest. I came up with a new mountain mantra during this section – “Burn calories, firm butt” – not likely to lead to spiritual enlightenment but it was an in the moment mantra.

I need a new hobby

I need a new hobby

From K2 on I went back and forth with a man who was running with his dog. He would pass me on an uphill and I would pass him on the downhill. After K2 there was a nice runnable section. Trail running is so much more scenic than road running. I turned around to get the picture of where I had just run. Notice Jim and Sara (yep, a dog named Sara) gaining on me again. They pass me on the next incline. I really need to work on my climbing skills.

See you soon

See you soon

This course was extremely well marked. Getting lost is always a concern of mine (because I do it so often) especially on trail runs. They had colored ribbons, flour arrows, and signs. Well done.

There was another evil hill towards the end (see elevation profile) that nearly had me crawling. A woman named Heather caught me on this section and we started talking. She recommended ginger ale for my nauseous tummy. Somehow I missed the fact that the aid station had ginger ale. It worked! When I mentioned that my Garmin said 12.1 miles and “Yay, only a mile left” she informed me that this course was actually 13.8 miles. What ?! I almost sat down and cried. Blissfully the last mile and a half was relatively flat. Tim came out and walked with me for the last mile. I even did a couple 10 second bouts of running. I was never so glad to see him.

After crossing the finish line I collapsed in the nearest shade that I could find. This was one of the friendliest races I have ever been to. Someone even brought me a chair. I must have looked pretty bad.

Still alive after the race.

Still alive after the race.

After the race I talked to Jim, the guy with the dog who kept passing me. He is an ultra runner who was doing the half to see how his injured foot would hold up. Jim if you read this give me your blog address and I’ll link to it. You were an inspiration. Another mantra of mine was – “don’t let that man and dog pass you again”. I did manage to beat him in, but barely.


Follow Jim and Sara at www.sofarfromnormal.com


  • 13.8 miles
  • Had to mail hats


  • Well organized
  • Wonderful volunteers
  • Beautiful course
  • Running on the Western States 100 course
  • Cool beer glass (who needs another T-Shirt and medal)
  • Best course markings ever
  • Really friendly race with a great vibe
Can we sit down please

Can we sit down please

This was the hardest race I have ever done. And my slowest time. 4 days after the run my glutes (front of thighs) are still sore. This is not a race I would recommend to anyone who was not extremely fit. The climbs were brutal and the trail itself was muddy and quite rocky. However, if you are looking for a challenge I would highly recommend this HM. The well marked course with incredible scenery and super friendly people made this a special race.


Please leave a comment. You know I love comments.


  • February 15th, 2015
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • The Love Of Running
  • Sharon: 2:48:01
  • Tim: 2:16:10


29 down only 23 to go.

Just another Half Marathon in paradise. This run was put on by A Better World Running, a small race company that does inexpensive, low key events in the southern California area. This race was in Huntington Beach along the ocean path. What’s not to love? This race is put on by the same people who put on the Santa Monica race where I was last because I got lost. OK – even if I hadn’t gotten lost I probably still would have been last. This course was a lot easier to follow. It was a straight line out and back, twice. Even I didn’t get lost. And I didn’t come in anywhere near last.

LoveOfRunning - Before

Another Before Picture

One thing I have noticed about California races vs. Oregon races (besides that my feet are dryer in California) is that CA races tend to cost more. Luckily, we are able to drive to more California runs on race morning. I really like this race company for a couple of reasons but the main one is the low cost. They don’t have T-Shirts but they do have medals and aid stations with food. I also like the casual fun vibe. This race was the day after Valentine’s Day but it was a Valentine themed run. Putting on a run along the beach path is brilliant because there are always plenty of water fountains and bathrooms.

LoveOfRunning -

Happy day after Valentine’s Day

Because this was an out and back done twice I got to see Tim. Usually it’s Tim who gets pictures of me but this time I was prepared. I had my camera ready.

LoveOfRunning - leap

Tim leaps for joy

LoveOfRunning - kiss and run

And dashes in for a kiss and run

It was a bit chilly so I started out wearing my long sleeves but that shirt came off in the first mile. It warmed up fast. I’m sure to get little sympathy for this but I got a bit sunburned during this race. I put heavy sunscreen on my face but it still gets red. I am so diligent about putting sunscreen on my face that I am starting to break out. And they said I would grow out of it. I hate to admit this but I never put sunscreen on my body anymore. I can’t sweat right with sunscreen on. It traps salt (from sweat) and dirt – my skin just can’t breathe.

The only thing I didn’t like about this course was a section next to the freeway.

Because this HM is run on a multiuse beach path there is some weaving around walkers, dogs, and bicyclists but that makes it funner. My favorite is seeing people running with dogs. I saw a dog in a bike basket wearing sunglasses. Unfortunately, they zoomed by too fast for a picture.

LoveOfRunning - after

After – We should have brought swim suits.


  • No T-Shirt (I like this)
  • Running next to freeway


  • Fun casual event
  • Great volunteers
  • Parking close to start/finish
  • Scenic ocean views
  • They have my favorite Gu (caramel)
  • Inexpensive (for CA)
  • Out and back (I love out and backs)
  • Easy course to follow
  • Free online pictures

I would definitely recommend this race. It is very beginner friendly. No chance of getting lost and it’s a straight path out and back. If you find yourself on the freeway or in the ocean you took a wrong turn (there are no turns). Being next to the ocean the course is pretty flat with some small hills. More beginner/slow runner good news – as slow as I was, I was nowhere near last, so this isn’t like one of those smaller races put on by a local track team (Catherine Creek) where the volunteers all seem confused by slow runners. We liked it enough that we plan to sign up for more A better World Running events.

LoveOfRunning - Finish

Please leave a comment. I love comments.

San Dieguito - T-Shirt


28 down only 24 to go.

Because this HM was so close we got to sleep in Sunday. We got up at 5am instead of 3am.

This HM was run through through San Dieguito park. This is a great park. At some point (when we aren’t ruinning a HM every weekend) I would like to come back and do some trail running here.

San Dieguito - map

Before launching into my race report I’m going to do a followup on last weeks post. After all the bitching I did about my weight gain during our move I am happy to be able to report that in 9 days of intense dieting I have lost all 6 pounds, leading me to believe that some of my weight gain was just retaining water from all the salt in road food. I also ran 2 miles twice last week. Yay – me.

Even though it was hilly and hot I loved this race. It must have been the extra 2 hours of sleep. This race had about the same hilliness as the Griffith Park HM but it was advertised as “hilly”, unlike the Griffith Park race whose course description writer was obviously unclear on what “mostly flat” means. Just like rain, hills are easier for me if I am mentally prepared for them.

San Dieguito - shorts

Finally warm enough to wear my new shorts

This race course was one of the most scenic we have run. It was also extremely well organized. Most races have great volunteers at aid stations but this race wins the volunteer enthusiasm award. They even had beer at one of the later aid stations. Somehow Tim missed this feature. This is a picture from the beer garden after the race but these fabulous people were aid station volunteers. No matter how tired you are it is impossible not to feel energized by a man in a red dress handing you water. I think this was the local harrier group.

San Dieguito - Hash House Harriers

I want to join this club

This was a beautiful run through the park. Once again I started my music too early. It did help but this time I was a little bored with it. I need to find some new music. I’m putting out a plea for everyone to click comments and tell me what your favorite song to run to is or, if you don’t run, what is your favorite upbeat song?

Tim came out to meet me and run with me for a couple of minutes towards the end of the race. He gave me his, “You’re almost there! You got this!”, pep talk. I love it when he does this. I do always try to finish strong so any distraction is appreciated. The finish line MC cheerleadered me in. This was a very enthusiastic race.

San Dieguito - The Queen

This fabulous volunteer

My only complaint with the race was the half mile walk to the food, buses, and beer garden was uphill. To make someone who has just finished running a HM walk uphill is sadistic. I heard many complaints and saw some pretty dismayed faces on this hike.

I always advise people never to do anything new on race day (especially new clothes or food) so I was nervous about wearing my new Sweet Spot shorts. They were fabulous (even if they do make my legs look fat in this picture). These shorts have a pocket deep enough to hold a cell phone and they don’t ride up. They are expensive for a pair of shorts (thanks Tim) but I highly recommend them. Now that I have shorts with a pocket maybe I will try wearing a different shirt. If you have been reading my blog regularly you might be wondering why I am always wearing the same awful white singlet. I have 2 major reasons. The first reason is the giant pocket Tim sewed on for me (thanks Tim). I have to carry my inhaler as well as cough drops, Gu, and sometimes my phone. The second reason (most important) is that I have discovered that this is the shirt least likely to cause chafing. At this point it’s almost dead so I am going to have to find a new favorite shirt.

San Dieguito - Post Race

Another after picture

This race had a very nice after party featuring beer and chili. They had good beer and both meat and vegetarian chili as well as fruit. I had a couple sips but I can’t enjoy beer in the morning. I have never really liked beer. I don’t understand why anyone would drink a beer when they could have a glass of red wine.

San Dieguito - Danger!

I’m glad I didn’t see this before the race


  • Brutal hill to get to food, beer, and buses
  • Very crowded beer tent


  • Quick easy packet pickup
  • Coupon for Road Runner Sports (I got a FitBit)
  • Nice long sleeve tech shirt
  • Easy parking and busing to and from start
  • Casual bag check
  • Very organized race
  • Plenty of aid stations and bathrooms
  • Regular bathrooms as well as port-o-pots
  • Very fun volunteers
  • Enthusiastic finish line announcer
  • Beer aid station
  • Great kids yelling out split times on the course
  • Nice medal
  • Yummy chili
  • Beer tent party
  • Good value (half the price of last week)
  • A place in the shade to sit and eat

This was a great race. I recommend it highly. It was extremely well organized. This race was small enough that crowding wasn’t a problem but large enough that you will never be running alone. There is a 3 hour cutoff but people came in after that so it wasn’t enforced. This is a very beginner friendly race but it does have some serious hills. The volunteers made this one of the friendliest, funnest races we have done. If you get a chance to do this race – do it.

To end I will leave you with this music video (explicit lyrics). I think it is one of the funniest songs ever but I’m weird that way.

San Dieguito - workstation

Tim’s last day working from home (2/12/2015)

Please leave a comment even if you don’t have a favorite running song.

Surf City - T-Shirt


27 down only 25 to go.

Yay – over halfway through, I guess it’s time I actually started training. Sometimes, when I tell people that I’m running a HM every weekend they will ask me what I do to train and I have to say, “nothing”. Every weekend I plan to add at least 1 short run to my week, but I never do. I plan to start for real this week. I can walk right out my door and be steps from a beach path. No more excuses. I need to do something to up my game. I’m not getting much faster (although I am recovering faster) and I’m not losing weight anywhere near as quickly as I was hoping. In fact, I have done some major backsliding this move. In 3 week I have gained 6 pounds. WTF! OK Sharon, stop acting all surprised like this happened from drinking kale smoothies. I know exactly what happened. The Sunday before we left Oregon we had Tim’s mom over for pizza and wine, Monday we ate all 3 meals out, while packing, because we needed to pack the dishes, Tuesday more eating out and then on the road for 3 days and nights of road food and now that we are in San Diego we are trying out restaurants in our neighborhood. And all that sitting while Tim drove didn’t help, unless fretting burns calories. Time to get some healthy food and refocus. They had a booth at the expo for a company that delivers local organic fruits and vegetables. It looked great so we signed up and we got our first box this morning (Tuesday). It is awesome.

Now that I have mentioned the expo I should probably stop complaining about my fat ass and do a race report. We had to drive to Huntington Beach to pick up our shirt and bib. I know most larger races don’t have day of race pickup (it would be a logistical nightmare) but it was a hassle. Huntington Beach is a 2 hour drive, too close to get a hotel but still an extra 4 hours. Since we drove down we spent some time at the expo. Besides the delivery box we also found Tim’s favorite electrolyte drink in the hard to find flavor (Tangerine, Ginger) that he likes as well as a Mamma Chia booth. We usually have a Mamma Chia before every race so it was nice to find them at a deep discount.

Once again we had to get up at 3am on a Sunday to get ready and drive to the race. Our new neighbors must wonder what the hell we are doing on weekends that requires a 3am alarm.

This race was extremely well organized. We parked about a quarter mile from the start. It was a beautiful morning. It was a little chilly at sunrise but soon warmed up. It was downright hot by the end of the race. Unfortunately, heat is a major trigger for Tim’s a-fib. That’s why his time was slower this week. It seems really weird to be writing that it was too hot in February.

Surf City - Before the race

Before the race it was a little chilly

The race started in waves. I think this is a great idea for large races. I’m not sure what makes groups of walkers think they belong in the wave that expects to finish around 2:45. I always get stuck behind Gallowayers or in this case 4 walkers (big girls) who managed to block the whole road and then got annoyed when I tried to get past them. Even without the walkers who didn’t have enough sense to start in the back, I had to do a lot of weaving because this was a crowded race (over 20,000). Besides beautiful weather this race had beautiful scenery. A good part of it was run on the Pacific Coast Highway and had an ocean view.

Surf City - chemo shirt

Makes complaining about heat seem stupid

They had live music along the course which I thought was a nice touch. There was also a guy out there blasting christian rap out of a speaker and giving people high fives. Yes, christian rap. I have had the misfortune of hearing christian rock before but this is the first (and hopefully last) time that I have been exposed to christian rap.

I saw a woman stop and take a picture of this sign. I though it was really funny but I didn’t have my phone. Luckily great minds think alike and Tim got the picture I wanted.

Surf City - No Stopping

But I’m so tired

I only noticed a couple bicyclists but Tim got bumped by one. Aggressive bikers have been a recurring theme. Another thing I have been seeing more of is volunteers (especially teenagers) chatting on cellphones. At one aid station I came up, yelled water and got handed a sports drink by a girl on a cell phone who didn’t even look at me. Luckily I noticed it was pink because I was going to dump it over my head to cool down.

Tim is usually waiting for me at the finish line so we didn’t even think to designate a meetup place. Somehow he missed me as I came over the finish line. I didn’t see him so I just headed towards the expo hoping he would think I went to the nearest shade. Finally I borrowed a cell phone but got his stupid answering machine. After about 15 minutes I managed to borrow another phone and this time he picked up. We must always remember to have an, I can’t find you, spot.

Surf City - Finished!

Yay! You found me


  • No race day packet pickup
  • Christian Rap
  • Tim got brushed by a bicyclist
  • Volunteer on a cell phone
  • Expensive race


  • Smooth and fast packet pickup
  • Nice expo
  • Well organized race
  • Beautiful course
  • Live music
  • Lots of bathrooms (port-o-pots and park bathrooms)
  • Frequent aid stations
  • Food package after crossing the finish line
  • Great T-Shirt
  • Great medal
  • Dropbags

This was out favorite medal. I don’t usually care very much about the medal but this one is cool.

Surf City - Medal

It’s like art

On the way back to the car we stopped to go to the bathroom. Tim came out and said “You know you are tired when you try to flush a port-o-pot.” That about sums it up.

This was a great race. It was well organized and scenic. It had great crowd support, lots of aid stations and bands along the course. It was sunny with no shade so wear sunscreen if you do this race. The only downside to this race was the spendy price. It was $120 for the HM. Even though I was tired I enjoyed this race. It just had a good feel as well as the coolest shirt and medal.

Yay! More than half way. Please leave a comment.