Posts Tagged ‘races’

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve gotten 2015 off to a running start (ha ha)! I got out on New Year’s Day for a speed workout — 8 x 800m at 10K pace (in the 7:30s). Training for my next full marathon is going well. There are just over eight weeks left until the Phoenix Marathon on Feb. 28. Two months seems like a long time away and a short time away all at once.

I have set some loose goals for 2015 — more “things to work towards” rather than resolutions. For January I intend to work on meal planning, both to save money and to work on maintaining good nutrition leading up to the marathon. My exercise-related goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon with time to spare, so I actually meet the cutoff for registration for the 2016 race.

Looking back on 2014 makes me grateful for what a fantastic year it was. I didn’t realize it at the time but I nearly sampled the whole running menu! In addition to the running relay at Ragnar Napa Valley, I did eight races at almost every distance: one 1-miler, two 5Ks, one 8K, one 10K, two half marathons and one full marathon. (Ultra in 2015??) The really surprising thing is that I got on the podium in my age group in 4 of those 8 races (the mile, 5K, 10K and 13.1). To go from not being a runner at age 39 to getting on the podium at age 43 makes me appreciate all of the wonderful, positive changes that running has brought into my life in the last four years.

My favorite race of the year turned out to be the inaugural REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon in September. Just a gorgeous course and a really positive experience for me to end the year on.

Some more number crunching (perhaps only interesting to me but I like to document it):

Miles run in 2014: 1,084.39

Miles biked in 2014: 1,644.78

Miles of swimming in 2014: 2 (can I even call myself a triathlete anymore?!)

Miles walked on warm-ups or cool-downs: 75.84

If you add up all the running, biking, swimming and walking, I covered the driving distance from Los Angeles to New York City — over 2,800 miles! And what helped me get through a lot of those miles? Reading!

Number of books read: 76

Number of those books that were audiobooks listened to while exercising or cleaning house: 39 (over 50%)

One of the best changes I made in my training over the past year was to add in 40-60 minutes of strength training each week (for a total of 33.94 hours for the year, to be exact). Not only did that change my body shape, more importantly it gave me some core strength to draw on when I get tired toward the end of a race and I’m tempted to let my running form fall apart and my pace drop. Strength training offers a lot of returns on a small investment of time.

What about you? What strikes you when you look back on your year? What’s one change you were glad you made in 2014?

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My next big race on the calendar is the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon on May 10th. I figured it was totally fair to make Mother’s Day weekend all about me and my race, right?

That means I’m in the thick of training for that half, which then rolls right into my training for my fourth full marathon, the Santa Rosa Marathon at the end of August. I ran my longest run on the half marathon plan — 12 miles in 1:56 — last Sunday. For my current plan I’m running four days a week and cycling two days a week (once on my own and once at spin class). I also incorporate strength training two to three days a week for about 20 minutes each session. Pushups and I are still acquaintances but planks are my new best friends.

My training plans are my own personal mash-up of the Half Marathon Finish It Plan (free to download from that link!) from Train Like a Mother and the Intermediate Full Marathon plan from Smart Marathon Training:


Crossing off each workout on the training plan gives me a lot of satisfaction, and having a plan keeps me accountable. I can tell you there have been a few days recently where I would have opted not to work out had I not had a solid plan to stick to and a serious race looming on the calendar.

Do you have any races coming up? What training plan do you follow?

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Three days is all it took for me to recover enough from my first marathon to go online and look for my next one! My husband Mike reminds me that on the finish line at Santa Barbara I was already talking about doing another race. I don’t remember that although I know I was totally enamored with marathon racing at that point.

I worry a tiny bit that another marathon might spoil the warm, squishy feelings I have about my experience at Santa Barbara. In keeping with my theory that training for and racing a marathon is like pregnancy and birth, I kind of wonder if I can love another baby as much as Santa Barbara…. I had such a good labor and birth, I was so lucky this first time around, do I really want to press my luck with a second? Of course I do!


So, options (not a comprehensive list, just several local-ish races of interest):

California International Marathon (CIM), Sunday, December 2, 2012, Folsom to Sacramento, California. Gosh darn it, this one is way too soon for my liking. I know there are people who bounce back and run another marathon in a week or two, but that’s not this 41-year-old relative newbie. I like the idea of this flat course though. Point-to-point and net downhill. Sacramento is not exactly my idea of great destination for a race but I will have to keep this one in mind for next year anyway.

Honkers Motivational Marathon, Sunday, January 13, 2013, Yorba Linda, California. I love to see the introduction of this inaugural marathon along the Santa Ana River Trail! I’m a bit stumped as to why it’s an out-and-back (west) and out-and-back (east) course with a lot of elevation gain (299 feet), when it would be so much more awesome to run 26.2 miles west along the trail with a net downhill to the beach. Permits and logistics, I’m sure, but golly it’s a shame. I’m marking my calendar to see if I can volunteer or at least go out to cheer on the runners for this one!

Carlsbad Marathon, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, Carlsbad, California. This out-and-back course with rolling hills along the coast looks like it’s gorgeous but challenging.

Death Valley Borax Marathon, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, Death Valley, California. This course looks incredibly scenic but here’s the deal-breaker for me: “NO PERSONAL SUPPORT! Your friends and family members may not drive along the course during the event – not to provide support, not to take your photo, not even to watch/cheer.”

Surf City USA Marathon, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, Huntington Beach, CA (hence the Surf City name). I’ve heard many good things about this race. Nice oceanside course, generally flat. The way the course loops around on itself (not following the exact same loop but winding back and forth on the streets as the course approaches the coast) makes it easy for family and friends to spectate and offer support. The marathon is capped at 2,000 participants (last year there were 2,445?) but there are another 15,000 half marathoners. Yikes! And again, the February 3 date makes this one a little early for my taste.

IMS Arizona, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, Buckeye to Glendale, Arizona. This is another nice, small race (305 full marathoners last year) and a relatively flat, net downhill point-to-point course. A few reviews mentioned that the course is “boring” and on busy roads but with friendly spectators.

Napa Valley Marathon, Sunday, March 3, 2013, Calistoga to Napa, California. Talk about a destination race! This beautiful point-to-point course has some rolling hills but a net downhill of nearly 300 feet. How cool that this race honors “Women in Marathoning.” Another neat feature: “Runners who prepare special drinks can have them delivered to specific aid stations by bringing the bottles to the start line where they will be placed in boxes labeled for specific aid stations.”

LA Marathon, Sunday, March 17, 2013, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to Santa Monica, CA. Who doesn’t want to do an iconic race like the LA Marathon? I’m totally tempted although at 18,919 participants this is way bigger than what I normally like and the course is not as scenic as I’d prefer, even with the finish at the beach in Santa Monica. It looks like it has some rolling hills, too, which can be a challenge.

River City Marathon, Sunday, March 25, 2013, Sacramento, California. This small race follows the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail/American River Parkway and gets high marks for being scenic. It’s a point-to-point course of rolling hills with a net downhill of around 100 feet. Looks like it’s struggled with some organizational details and even flooding of the course one year.

San Luis Obispo Marathon, April 7, 2013, San Luis Obispo, California. A loop course that runs through town and out into the vineyards and farmlands, this looks like a pretty course that’s also pretty challenging.

Big Sur Marathon, Sunday, April 28, 2013, Carmel, California. The Big Sur race comes with some big hills to challenge you. As one reviewer said, “epic beauty, epic hills.” Not the one for me to choose to try to sub-4!

OC Marathon, Sunday, May 5, 2013, Newport Beach to Costa Mesa, California. I had a good time at my first half marathon, the OC Half in 2012, but there were so many people in that race I’m not sure I can stomach the full. Hmm, checking the results from last year shows there were 1,860 runners doing the full compared to 8,796 doing the half. Start time for the full is 5:30 a.m. — dang that is early!

Mountains to Beach Marathon, Sunday, May 26, 2013, Ojai to Ventura, CA. For 2013 the Ojai to Ocean Marathon has been renamed the Mountains to Beach Marathon, perhaps all the better to capture the fact that the first 20 miles are net downhill of over 700 feet and the last 6.2 are all flat miles along the Ventura coastline. For the last two years this course has made it in the top 10 of Marathon Guide’s list of “most likely and largest qualifying percentage” of all Boston Marathon Qualifying Races. (Other California top qualifiers are the California International Marathon above and the Santa Rosa Marathon in August). The marathon is limited to the first 1,000 entrants, my kind of race. The host hotel is in Ventura but I hear wonderful things about Ojai. The race is Memorial Day weekend which works well for me and my family to make a vacation out of it. This race is looking the most promising for me.

Any opinions? Have you done any of these races or are you signed up for any of them?

Image by Heather Dowd.

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