Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay Recap

So this is kind of funny. Literally two weeks ago the home girl Tiffany from RunningHutch.com hit me up on Facebook and asked if I would be interested in participating in the Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay, hosted by the amazing folks at A Runner’s Circle. For those that don’t know, ARC is THE premiere running store in Los Angeles. Anywho…she gave me all the details and she was forming a team. The fun thing about runners is we are basically fearless! Tiffany helped form the team and before I knew it I was on a team with three other strangers and we would be giving it our all at a relay. Neat.

From L to R: Matt Runner 4, Me Runner 1, Gillian Runner 3, Tiffany Runner 2, Mike Runner 5

Early morning in Griffith Park and we couldn’t of asked for better summer trail running weather. It was cool and overcast! That meant the climbs wouldn’t be to terrible since the heat wouldn’t be as high. We all met and laughed and discussed our strategy. We didn’t have any goal time or pace in mind…we wanted to just enjoy ourselves. All of us were seasoned and experienced runners so this was gonna be great. This was my first relay so I was REALLY excited. I was first up!

The crew in order! Boosted from RunningHutch.com

The first mile and a half was a steep climb. It was a straight shot up. By the time I got to mile marker one I was winded but kept going forward. I was the first runner out, so I wanted us to maintain a good place in the relay. Once I reached the top of the climb I enjoyed two miles of fire road and recovery. I had an even pace and focused on just staying consistent. I felt like the climb took a lot out of me, but running with Michelle on the trails I’ve learned some things that made it easier for me to handle the run. At the end of the fire road was my favorite thing…DOWN HILL SUICIDE! This is where I shine. I turned on the after burners and SHREDDED the hills going down. I blasted past at least 10 runners. I went so fast my shoe came untied. In an effort to be safe I stopped to tie it…but I was pretty mad because I was FLYING. I flew all the way down into the Old Los Angeles Zoo which is where home base was. I came down the trail and didn’t even see my team cheering me on as I came through, they were there :). Next up was Tiffany and she was in the chute ready to rock. I came in so hot I almost knocked her over! We laughed and she took off on her great loop!

Our team did VERY well! Every did an amazing job on their loop! Strong performances by everyone! We placed 12th out of 39 in the open co-ed division with a time of 4:00:49! WE KILLED IT! I was blown away and really excited! Our team had a great chemistry! Everyone was so friendly, warm, and encouraging. There was amazing communication and the energy was spot on. I would totally relay with these folks again for sure! After we got our relay batons Matt had a real fun idea to capture the moment. It looked something like this…

As you can tell…none of us could handle it we all laughed! So much fun!!! Then we took the normal people team we did it type photo of sorts…

It was a great Sunday! These guys are great!!!! Magic certainly happens when you run. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…running is better with friends…even if you just met them 15 minutes before the race HAHA!

Check out:

Tiffany: RunningHutch.com
Gillian: ThatsG.Com

Boston 2 Big Sur 2 OC – Challenge Completed

Well that was a fun 13 days! Three marathons…that was just damn crazy LOL! So I have run Boston, Big Sur, and the OC Marathon! I have gotten a ton of comments on both Facebook and Twitter asking me ‘Are you going to take a break now?” The answer to that question is yes. I had the time of my life in Boston, I enjoyed the beauty and splendor of Big Sur, and celebrated two years of endurance running in the OC. My mind and body are spent. I didn’t get injured, and my spirit isn’t broken. My focus is now going to shift a little bit.

I announced a few days ago that I want to run a sub 4 hour marathon by my birthday on December 9th. Things like that don’t just happen, they require training, focus, and proper nutrition. My line of sight is going right to that sub 4. Not only do I plan on being a sub 4 hour marathoner, I want do to be consistent at it. I want to be strong and fast. I have some plans in front of me and those will kick into full gear as early as next week. I want to have an amazing showing at Marine Corps Marathon this year. I would love for it to happen then. That is five months from now. It takes no less than six months to train for a marathon. Clearly we know I can go the 26.2 mile distance with no issue, now the goal is to do it faster, stronger, and consistently. I do have some races sprinkled in the second half of the year but this tour I just finished was the bulk of my year. So wish me luck on that.

In a few weeks I am going to buy a bike. I’m real excited about this! I love bike riding for fun, but to do it for distance and competition would be a REAL thrill…especially since I have officially raised my hand and made a personal commitment to myself to compete in Ironman Miami 70.3 as early as 2015 if not 2016…it depends on how comfortable I feel. I am all about pushing my limits and since I will be training for a sub 4 a lot of the strength and endurance training can be leveraged for Ironman. I’ve never thought of myself as an Ironman nor have I ever thought it would be a possibility for me. I want to see what this machine I call my body is made of. Training plans, nutrition, and focus. It’s going to be an amazing lifestyle change. Of course I will continue to race and encourage all of you as I have been doing, but get ready for some really fun and interesting training updates in lieu of race recaps…I also have some awesome giveaways coming in the next few weeks.

So thanks everyone for your encouragement and thoughts as I took on ALL the races before the first half of the year was over. We still have a way to go before the year is over, but I am certain it will be nothing short of amazing. Let’s get after these dreams!

Big Sur International Marathon – The Beauty AND The Beast

Six days after running The Boston Marathon I took on the challenge of running The Big Sur International Marathon. Prior to being accepted into the Boston Marathon I signed up as a marathon participant for Big Sur. After being accepted as a charity runner, I confirmed my participation for the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge (presented by ASICS). That brought me to Saturday morning, the lovely 5 hour drive to Monterey on the central California coast. Jason was kind enough to drive me up and back over the weekend so I got to rest and try to catch up on some much needed sleep on the drive. I’ve been pretty exhausted since returning from Boston (I can’t imagine why) so I’ve been staying hydrated and partaking in EnergyBits to keep myself healthy.

We arrived in Monterey around 1 PM on Saturday. The expo was pretty small compared to other expos and that was perfectly fine with me. Coming off of the Boston expo, a small expo was much appreciated. I went upstairs to Boston 2 Big Sur packet pick up which was very exciting. Now…a perk of being one of four hundred people that participates in the challenge is not only the bonus medal you receive, but an awesome ASICS track jacket that displays your Boston 2 Big Sur accomplishment. Well…due to an unforseen circumstance, the jackets were not ready. I was WAY bummed out. But the folks at the marathon and ASICS were not only apologetic, they helped to make it right. ASICS gave the B2B runners a gift certificate to mail in for a free pair of ASICS shoes of our choosing. THAT was really awesome. I didn’t expect that. Our jackets will be delivered in the coming weeks along with the shoes we select. So, thanks ASICS! I then picked up my bus ticket for Sunday morning. The race itself starts at Big Sur station in the mountains. The roads are closed to private vehicles and the only way up is by bus and it takes an hour to get up there. I received a 4AM bus loading time…what’s another early morning right?

After that I made my way down to the expo and did some light shopping. I mean what could I possibly need, I bought everything in Boston! I found some awesome ASICS gloves that I fell in love with and new nifty pouch I can use to store my fuel from the lovely folks at Roo Sports! I will review that later in the week. I picked up some throw away garments for the start line because in my sleep deprived state I didn’t bring anything to bundle up in at the start area.

After some shopping and wandering I met up with my good buddy Bart Yasso at the Runner’s World booth. Now some of you may be aware that Bart said he would treat me to coffee in Boston. We even have a hashtag #CoffeeWithBart! Well, due to both of our schedules being CRAZY we just couldn’t link up…Bart made really good on his promise and treated me and awesome follower Sarah to Starbucks across the street. That was really fun! In case you didn’t know, Bart is the best story teller.

After that we went and checked into the hotel, grabbed some lunch/dinner and winded down pretty early. I took a bath to help relax and prepped myself for the next day. I fell asleep and woke up at 3AM (joy.) I boarded the bus with my english muffin with peanut butter (NOMS), and took a window seat. Before I knew it I was asleep…again. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed sleep until last week. An hour later we arrived at Big Sur Station, the start of the marathon. It was still dark, and there was no cellular service. So I took a seat on the curb with the other participants and continued to think warm thoughts…and I think I took another nap.

When the sun started to come up, my my what a beautiful sight. I’m not the camping type…I prefer the spa but nature is so amazing first thing in the morning. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE being out in nature and running in it, sitting in it, picnicking in it…I just don’t wanna sleep in it lol. We all started to line up and get ready to get the marathon underway. The weather conditions couldn’t have been better. No rain, a lovely cloud cover, heaven. I lined up with the 4:45 pace group. I did this knowing I wouldn’t finish with them but to keep a consistent pace the first 10 miles of the course. The race began and the first 5 miles of the course were gradually downhill. We maintained a very comfortable pace, as to not blow out before the huge mountain we would have to climb for two miles at mile ten. The scenery was just break taking.

Redwoods and other familiar trees and plants surrounded us. Open rolling hills covered in lush green plants, grazing cows, crashing waves on the cliffs in the distance. This is probably the most scenic marathon I’ve ever run. Now she is a beauty of a course, but don’t let her fabulous appearance fool you…she is a BEAST!

Arriving at mile 10 is where I took a big gulp and went for the awesome two mile climb to Hurricane Point. You are greeted by Japanese drummers (who were AWESOME) and they absolutely get you pumped up in preparation for the climb. This climb is the highest elevation gain and fastest gain on the course…you will feel this climb and it isn’t nice. I stayed focused and walked/ran the hill the best I could. I knew I had 13 miles following this hill so I needed some muscle and stamina to finish this race. I eventually made it to the top of the hill and took a minute to just appreciate not only the breathtaking views but looking behind me to see what I just accomplished. I was so happy. In front of me was the race famous Bixby Bridge. Of course I touched the mile 13 marker and made my way across the bridge. My Garmin told me I was around 2:26 at the half way mark so I was pretty pleased with myself at this point. What I thought was cool was the really kick ass pianist that you could hear as you ran across the Bixby Bridge. Really a special moment on the course.

The remainder of the course was pretty much the same. Rolling hills and lovely views for the next 13 miles as I continued my quest toward Carmel. Along the way I saw some awesome homes along the cliffs, met some great runners who were working their hardest to beat the clock, and conversed with the course support (which was amazing). This race was all about the views. That’s what makes her a beauty to behold. You can’t see awesome coastal views like this on just any course. This course is special! There were points where I got chills just looking at the colors of the rock formations and ocean foam.

What makes this course a beast is the constant hills and elevation change. If you aren’t used to that you will struggle here. This course does not hold back. For what you get in delicious candy for your eye you pay for on the hills and inclines.

All in all this course is FANTASTIC! It truly is a treat. No wonder the race sold out in under an hour! I crossed the finish line after giving Bart Yasso a high five at 5:44. I took it easy the last 5 miles. I was definitely feeling the fatigue and needed to save some juice for OC Marathon. I was already pushing it with this marathon 6 days after Boston.

I felt pretty good crossing the finish line but also had a lot of time to think while I was out on the route which is always a good thing. I find my mind is the clearest and most honest when I am running a race. Combine that with lovely sights of the central California coast and that creates a storm in my head. I have so much more to say about those thoughts and some of those I will share in a later post, others I will have to process on my own.

I hope you guys enjoyed the journey through the Big Sur marathon. I as always appreciate all of the encouragement and congratulations along the way. I try to respond to as many as I can so know you guys are absolutely appreciated and I can’t do this without you…well I could but it would suck…so you guys are 100% important to me! Thanks! Next up, OC Marathon and my Runnerversary on Sunday!

Boston 2 Big Sur 2 The OC The 78.6 Mile Challenge

Talk about running all the races! I have gotten myself into quite the interesting challenge. Next Monday, I will run my very first Boston Marathon! I can’t even describe how excited I am to be part of such an amazing field of runners…during such an important time in not only the races history but the history of the running community! After I cross the finish on Boylston Street,  I will fly home for a few days then drive up Pacific Coast Highway to take on the Big Sur International Marathon! BSIM along with ASICS hosts what is known as the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. This challenge invites registered participants to see if they have what it takes to run another 26.2 miles just 6 days after completing Boston! Big Sur is no walk in the park, but it is sure to be one of the most scenic and beautiful runs I’ve ever completed. I have had my eye on Big Sur and this challenge for months. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the challenge and am ready to rock and roll.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Coming up on May 4th is the OC Marathon. The OC Marathon was my first half marathon in 2012 so this is my anniversary race, or as I like to refer to it as my “Runnerversary”. I usually register for this race right away because it is the race that doesn’t escape me if possible. You never forget your first. Last year I ran the marathon distance, this year I will do the same. Then I realized, “Crap this is the week after Big Sur.” Oh well, not much I can do about it now, so I guess I will be running three marathons in three weeks.

Yes it is crazy, yes it is going to hurt, and yes I have a plan. I am ALL IN for Boston. I am secretly hoping for a PR on that course. My current PR for the marathon is 4:54 so it’s absolutely possible. During Big Sur, I will keep a steady consistent pace but will not be at 100%. OC Marathon I will trot to finish. I will not get injured. OC is going to be a scenic celebration of running, life, endurance, and I will use the time to reflect.

What comes after the marathons? A break and serious training. I have some training plans I am working with and I will be concentrating on consistency, speed, strength, and healthy eating. I go into Beast Mode. Getting these three marathons under my belt successfully is very important.

This is a crucial time for me and I will be very focused and determined to be my absolute best. The next three weeks I know will change my life. I am not afraid of a challenge. Watch me work, encourage me, and let’s make some magic happen people!

So…I Guess I’m Running Avengers

So see what had happened was…

So, it’s no secret I have been on a runDisney hiatus. I have kept the reasoning for that pretty much to myself, but I can say that cost was a huge factor. I had pretty much known that the Avengers Half Marathon weekend was coming…it was strongly hinted during the Disneyland Half Marathon meet-up last year…you guys didn’t believe me LOL. So when this announcement was being teased and released I wasn’t in shock at all.

So here we are. Registration opened today and sold out in minutes for this inaugural west coast race. This is pretty awesome because it offers another race for us west coasters, and another opportunity for you to earn Coast-to-Coast. Personally, I think that $195 is still too much for a half marathon…but apparently that didn’t stop me.

I evaded the runDisney excitement of Disneyland half marathon weekend, and Wine and Dine. Both are two of my favorite runDisney races. It hurt to watch them sell out, but I knew it was for the best. Avengers was announced and my initial reaction was “NO! I am not doing this.” I held strong to that and went back and forth with my big sis Jen about this. Should we do it? Should we do this and then run Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas that night? (which apparently lots of you are planning). Should we just say no. We landed on just say no. Well…this morning she asked me if I fell on the keyboard yet and I hadn’t. Then something happened. I completely blacked out. I woke up to confirmation emails in my inbox and a withdrawal notification from my bank. I think Thor’s brother Loki put a spell on me…because I ended up registered.

I was sweating, and all of you were celebrating my return to runDisney. I guess you guys have missed me 🙂 So, I will be running around like Thor for Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend. Geez. Now what will my next runDisney race be? After this, more than likely Wine and Dine 2015. I am passing on Marathon weekend for various reasons…mainly because I would like to do Miami and if I go I’ll want to go Dopey and that damn near killed me with the 4 days of early wake ups.

So, yes I will be there at Avengers and will absolutely enjoy it and enjoy seeing all of you. My wallet hurts but I am sure I’ll survive. Now if only Disney would construct a BiFrost to carry me between Disneyland and Walt Disney World that would be spectacular…talk about cutting down on travel costs.

2014 Asics LA Marathon…Redemption Awaits

It’s approaching. In just 23 days I will be taking on the Asics LA Marathon for the second year! This race and I have a history…and I have a bone to pick with it I first ran this marathon in 2013. It was my first solo marathon without my running family and my second marathon in general. I was excited to get out there and show Los Angeles what I was made of. The race fell on St. Patrick’s Day last year, so you can imagine the sea of green that filled the streets from Downtown all the way to Santa Monica. I felt great the first 19 miles of the race. I blew right through Downtown, zipped through Silver Lake, and made my way through Hollywood and back up the Sunset Strip. The strip elevation varies and rolls so you have to be careful and watch your pace. I gotta say, if you want a tour of Los Angeles and all it has to offer, run this race! You will see everything! I even saw some new things…and I have lived in Southern California my whole life!

Something happened when I turned the corner to mile 20. I hit the wall. I hit the wall to date harder than I can remember ever hitting it before. I hit the wall so hard I thought my body was going to just let go. It happened so fast, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I ended up stopping at a medical aid station, hydrating, applying Biofreeze to my sore muscles, and continued to walk the last 6 miles from Brentwood to Santa Monica Pier. I was almost in tears but didn’t let it show on my face. When I turned the corner to Ocean and was on the final approach, the last .2 miles of the race the spectators were amazing! I kept hearing “Keep Going!” “You’re almost there don’t quit!” Mentally I felt like I completely gave up. I was defeated. I knew I could do better and wanted my first solo marathon to be one for the books. Well that it was. I did finish the race with a very respectable time of 5:42. Not bad for a first time out, but I knew I could have done better had I not hit the wall. So what happened?

I was hydrated thankfully. The problem came with nutrition on the course! I wasn’t consuming enough calories during the appropriate times. So basically, my body ran out of energy, sucked the nutrients from other parts of my body to supplement which leads to extreme fatigue and cramps. I was toast. I’ve since learned what works for me in terms of caloric intake and I am doing MUCH better with this. Thank heavens.

Today, fellow So Cal runner pal Tracy posted a photo of the 2014 LA Marathon medal! I am just gonna say it, MUCH better than last year’s medal. It had charm and whimsey and all that…but I like this one much better. That’s just me. Anyway, I instantly got charged! I have 26.2 With Donna to focus on first (which is next week and I am so excited…you can still register by the way). I want to go out there and show Los Angeles who’s boss! I run this city! I want to get out there and not only have fun and enjoy the sights, but finish faster and stronger! Can we say further, faster, forever? I have gotten stronger, I have learned a lot, and I am ready to ROCK IT! I am excited! Cheer me on! I will be out there enjoying every moment! It will also be hard not to stop for brunch again on Rodeo Drive. Let’s the journey begin From Dodgers Stadium to the Sea! POW!

I’m Going to Boston!

It happened! Today I felt like my life changed! For months, I have been networking and reaching out to charities, like many hoping that I would receive an acceptance letter welcoming me to the team. I reached out to charities that resonated with me. Cancer treatment centers, youth activities, and educational programs were all at the top of the list. Sadly, I was not selected for the teams I applied for. This meant that others had their dreams come true! And for that I was glad. My good friend Adam was selected to run for a charity and I was incredibly happy and proud! I must say, the efforts and help that my running family have exhibited to get me to Boston is nothing short of extraordinary!

This morning I woke up to an email from The Boston Bruins (GO HOCKEY) Foundation! This was surprising. Their coordinator informed me they had one bib available for a lucky runner and wanted to know if I was interested in running the Boston Marathon as a member of their fundraising team!

I instantly started to shake. I literally had just given up on the chance that I would be running and was SO excited for Adam and Katie to run! I was pumped up and ready to support ALL of my friends that would be storming Boston in just a few short weeks, then this happens! I was shocked. I was humbled. I CRIED! One simply does not run The Boston Marathon! For many, it is years and years of intense training to achieve the coveted Boston Qualifying time! It is a journey for many runners! It’s hollowed sacred ground in the running community! When I touched the finish line in Boston during my trip during the 2013 BAA 10K, I got chills! Boston is serious business and should be respected! Charity runners are hard working individuals. We put massive efforts out to raise funds for worthy organizations so we can help make a difference and change the world. This isn’t taken lightly, and I am so blessed to have this rare opportunity! Thank you to the Boston Bruins Foundation for having me!

The Boston Bruins Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children, while assisting charitable organizations! What this means is that the $7,500.00 I must raise (and gladly) will go toward helping and enriching the lives of children! EVERYONE WINS!

I am excited and ready! I love Boston! I can’t wait to be in the midst of amazing athletes! I can’t wait to reunite with friends! I can’t wait to run to the finish line! 26.2 Brew by Samuel Adams is waiting!

I need your help! Please find it in your heart to help me raise funds for this very worthy cause! And please spread the word! We can do this together! You can click here to be directed to my fundraising page! I have also added a new page to my blog that will remain until we reach our goal! I say OUR goal because we are in this together! Let’s get ready to rock Boston! You Ready?