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I signed up for my first ultra.

After  reading all the great recaps and tweets about The North Face Endurance Challenge – California, it sounded like an awesome challenge. I wanted to run it.

The North Face Endurance Challenge

The North Face Endurance Challenge has a couple of race lengths – 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.21 miles) , half marathon (13.1 miles), marathon (26.2 miles), 50k (31 miles), and 50 miles.

The events take place in the  Marin Headlands, the course features scenic views with some drastic elevation change.

Guess what I did? I signed up. Duh. 50k. Go big or go home, right?

This will be my first 50k AND first trail race. I’m scared, nervous, excited and can’t wait to run it!

Now it’s time to read every article and blog on training for a 50k…

Do you have a favorite blog for training for an ultramarathon?

RECAP: Ragnar SoCal 2014 – Team afterNUUN run

A few months ago I was invited to join team afterNUUN run, which was made up of San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors (an awesome writeup on each of team members can be found on Gametiime’s blog). Needless to say, I jumped at the chance!

Team afterNUUN run

We were split up into two vans (listed in runner leg order).

Van #1:  Keith, Kristina, Jordan, Me, Erin, Chris

Van #2: Matt, Paulette, Miriam, Meg, Bruce, Alisyn

To add the already awesomeness of the team we were fortunate to have many generous sponsors!

Nuun (NUUN, water bottles), The San Francisco Marathon (shirts, vans), Sketchers (shoes), Gametiime (shirts) , Zensah (compression sleeves), and FitSok (socks).

Here we go!


I arrived in Orange County on Thursday. Met up with other team members at the airport. We then went to the rental car facility to pick up another mini-van #2. We stopped at Yard House for some lunch and a beer before heading to the hotel to check-in. Lucky for us there was a Target across the street from the hotel. We picked up a bunch of snacks, water and items to decorate the vans.

Later that evening we decided to run to Downtown Disney for dinner. It was a nice evening and run! We ended up having some delicious pizza at Naples. A few decided to run back to the hotel. While the rest of us opted to take the shuttle back.

The next morning we loaded up the vans, said our goodbyes to Van #2 and took off for the beach.

We had to sit through a mandatory safety meeting before we received our bibs. Afterward we decorated our van and anxiously waited for Keith to start the race.

Van #1 is ready!

Van #1 is ready!

12:45pm – it was time for Keith to start the race for team afterNUUN run! Off he went and so did we to the next exchange.

Leg 4


It was Friday evening and time for me to finally run. I was ready. I studied the route map, applied sunscreen and stretched. Yeah, I’m ready…I think. I waited at the exchange for Jordan (runner 3). The volunteer yelled out our team number. There she was! She handed off the slap bracelet and I was off.

My leg was pretty short, 2.7 miles. There were only a couple turns. Pretty easy.

The scenery was cars and more cars. I saw Angel Stadium in the distance. I knew I wasn’t far from the next exchange. At the traffic light was the Ragnar sign “Left”. The light was red. I waited and waited and waited until it finally turned green. Off I ran…left.

My Garmin showed that I only had a little bit to go. But I didn’t see the exchange. Where is everyone?! Oh no, I ran the wrong way! Doh! I ran back the way I came, which ended up being a mile. Yes, I ran a mile out of my way. Oh, THERE is the exchange. Doh. And there is Erin! SLAP! And off she went.

I made it to Exchange 4!

So much for studying the route map. However I did run faster than expected. Only 5 minutes later than my expected time.

Leg 16


It was now about 2:00am on Saturday. It was time for my second leg and my only nighttime leg.

I asked Chris to pace me during this leg. I wanted a solid run and knew that he could help me do that.

I heard our team number called. I saw Jordan running up. Off I go…again! Less than a minute into the run I asked Chris what the pace was, because it felt comfortable. He said 7:30. Whoa. I don’t ever run this fast…but I was and it felt great!

The route was flat and short, 4.10 miles. Not much to look at except the random jackrabbit running across the trail. We only passed one runner along the way. Before I knew it, we were at the exchange.

Thanks to Chris, I ran my fastest 4 miler ever. 7:37 minute pace!

Leg 28


My last leg. We were almost done! I was looking forward to real food, a beer, a shower and a long sleep in a real bed.

I planned to enjoy this last leg, not worry about pace and take it all in. There were a lot more runners on this leg than my previous legs. It was actually nice to run with other runners. I stayed behind a couple of runners for the first couple of the miles. Their pace was just right. Plus it allowed me to take in the awesome ocean view!

My last leg!

My last leg! Psst! I’m the runner in the middle.

I knew there were a few hills on leg. They didn’t look too bad on paper. The first hill wasn’t that bad. But the second hill. The second hill was a beast! I started to run up the hill, but I just couldn’t. It was hot. I was tired and didn’t have it in me. So I walked/run to the top. On the way I started talking to two runners. We talked about where we were from and about Ragnar. Once we were within eyeshot of the exchange I said my goodbyes and passed off the slap bracelet to Erin.

And just like that. I was done.

To the beach!


Our last runner, Chris, made his way into the last exchange. Soon after we hightailed it to the beach! Van 1 was done! We waited for Van 2 to finish their legs and meet us at the beach to run to through the finish together. In the meantime we got lunch, hung out and relaxed.

A few hours later Van 2 arrived. We quickly made our way to the finishing chute and ran with our last runner Alisyn through to the finish line! 194 miles done!

afterNUUN run at the finish line!

afterNUUN run at the finish line!

Our official finish time was 26:40:57. We finished 8th in Mixed Open category and 24th overall. Not bad!

It was an amazing experience with a bunch of awesome runners. I would definitely run another relay with this group!

RECAP: Los Angeles Marathon 2014

Last year I had to take a DNF at mile 10 due to a IT band injury. This year is my revenge on the LA Marathon!

I arrived late Friday afternoon. I was a bit weary at the start about my right foot. I was having some issues with it a few weeks earlier. I tried to stay off of it as much as I could prior to Sunday.

Saturday


The expo was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. My main goals were to pick up my bib, quickly check out the expo and stop by the San Francisco Marathon booth.

Bib pickup was easy and quick! Absolutely no lines or issues. Awesome.

LA Marathon

I made a quick walkthrough the expo. Walked past all the usual expo vendors. Found the San Francisco Marathon booth. Chatted with them for a little bit and I was on my way.

For an early dinner we had some really good homemade spaghetti. I tried not to eat too much, but I failed. I was full and content.

I relaxed the rest of the evening, watched a movie, and laid out my clothes for the race. I double and triple checked to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I was asleep before 10:00PM.

 Sunday


Alarm went off at 5:00AM. I was up and ready within 20 minutes. We left for the start line at 5:30 and arrived just after 6:00AM.

Side note: They changed the entry route to the start line this year, but it didn’t add any additional time to get to the start.

A bunch of my fellow San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors were running too. We decided to meet at 6:30AM for a quick picture. After the picture I did some stretching, used the restroom and made my way over the to corrals.

The corrals were REALLY full. I couldn’t find my way into one until the gun went off around 7:30AM. I squeezed my way in. Slowly made my walk to the start line.

Mile 1-4. Ran out of Dodger Stadium and down past the Disney Concert Hall. Just after mile 4, I needed a bathroom ASAP. Luckily there was one right there with a very short line. I was in and out in under 2 minutes!

Mile 5-9. It was nice to see a lot of people lining the streets cheering everyone on. Feeling awesome running through Downtown LA!

Mile 10. Just entering Hollywood. Last year, at this mile I decided to take a DNF (read more about that here). I knew that that I would get somewhat emotional here. My eyes welled up a little bit. But then I had a huge smile on my face. I made it further than I did last year. Wooohoo!

Mile 10-12. I was still excited about making it past mile 10 AND I was feeling good. These miles were kind of a blur.

Mile 13.1. On Sunset Strip. Half way done! Feeling awesome. Foot felt good. I still had a lot of energy.

Mile 14-16. My right foot was starting to hurt. I tried to not run on the side of my foot that was hurting. Looking back I think that didn’t made the foot feel any better.

Mile 16-20. I had to run/walk. Foot wasn’t getting any better. It was getting warm.  Every water station I ran by I grabbed some water.

Mile 21-24. Zombies everywhere. People just didn’t have anything left in them. It was now HOT. About 85 degrees. I was exiting the VA at the point. I tried to run when I could. As soon as my foot started to hurt I stopped and walked.

Mile 25-26.2. Almost to the ocean. Coming around the corner I could see the finish line! I decided to sprint the short distance to the finish line. I was done! SO excited. And really, really warm.

After I received my medal, I REALLY needed water at the finish. Unfortunately I didn’t see any close to the finish. I did see a cold, wet towel, which I grabbed. I did eventually find water, but it was a ways away. Ack.

Super excited about finish. Not so excited about my foot. Lots to think about and work on.

After two years of running (well a DNF and a finish) the LA Marathon, I think this will be a yearly race for me. I love the course and the weather!

Ragnar SoCal. Let’s do it!

I’m happy to announce I’ve been invited to be on the San Francisco Ambassador Ragnar SoCal team. The official name of the team is AfterNUUN Run.

Team afterNUUN run

We will be sponsored by NuunThe San Francisco MarathonSketchersGametiimeZensah, and FitSok.

This will be my first Ragnar. A Ragnar relay has been on my wish list for awhile. I’m excited to finally get to run one!

 

 

LA Marathon 2014 Training – Week #2

Definitely getting back into my

I used my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13 instead of the Mizuno Wave Sayonara. I realized at the end of this week that I like running in the Mizunos more. My ankles moved too much in the Adrenalines, which caused my ankles to be very sore this week.

Had to cut my 5 mile run on Saturday short due to the ankle soreness. I rested on Sunday and didn’t  run my scheduled 6 miles to rest my ankles. From this point on it looks like I will be mainly using my Mizunos.

The weather is slowly getting colder and colder. Luckily it has been pretty dry – no rain!

DATE TEMPERATURE MILES GOAL PACE TIME SHOES
11/19/13 46 3 3 8:56 0:26:49 Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
11/20/13 34 5.04 5 9:19 0:46:58 Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
11/21/13 28 3.6 3 9:25 0:33:53 Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
11/23/13 28 3 5 9:28 0:28:24 Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
11/24/13 6

LA Marathon 2014 Training – Week #1

The first week of LA Marathon 2014 training is complete!

I have to admit, the first few days were tough. It’s been awhile since I’ve done back-to-back-to-back runs. I’ve taken a different approach to my training this time. I’m running my mid-week runs a lot easier than I have in the past. They are about a 1-2 minutes slower than my normal pace. Pace control isn’t one my strong points, needless to say it’s been a bit of a challenge. Overall  a really good first week.

I will be using two pair of shoes for training – Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13 and Mizuno Wave Sayonara.

DATE TEMPERATURE MILES GOAL PACE TIME SHOES
11/12/13 48 3.05 3 10:02 0:30:38 Mizuno Wave Sayonara
11/13/13 52 5.36 5 9:21 0:50:04 Mizuno Wave Sayonara
11/14/13 46 3.01 3 9:15 0:27:48 Mizuno Wave Sayonara
11/16/13 39 5.07 5 9:16 0:46:59 Mizuno Wave Sayonara
11/17/13 46 8.88 9 8:57 1:19:56 Mizuno Wave Sayonara

LA Marathon 2014, Revenge!

After I DNF’d, which you can read here, during the 2013 LA Marathon I told myself that I would be back the next year…for revenge!

Registration for the 2014 LA Marathon opened on October 1st at 9:00AM. I was registered at 9:06AM. I’m IN! Training starts in the middle of November.

LA Marathon Registration

Are you running the LA Marathon?

10 marathons I want to run

I’ve been thinking about the  10 marathons that I would like to eventually run. The list has been stewing in my brain for awhile. But now it’s time to share it with the rest of the world! These are in no particular order.

  1. ING New York City Marathon – One of the largest marathons with lots of history. I’ve been trying for the last two years to gain entry into the race via the lottery with no success. Hopefully it’s in the cards for 2014!
  2. Boston Marathon – THE marathon everyone strives to run. I most likely will have to raise money for charity to run this, because I’m not that fast. Quite honestly, I would feel honored to raise money for a charity to run this marathon!
  3. Big Sur International Marathon – I saw an awesome picture of runners on the Bixby Bridge. I was sold! Plus friends tell me how much they love this marathon.
  4. Chicago Marathon – Another marathon that you have to run just once. I’ve only been to the airport, never actually in the city. It would be an AWESOME way to see the city!
  5. Marine Corps Marathon – Another marathon that my friends talk about. Plus it’s another city that I haven’t been to.
  6. Portland Marathon – I’ve ran the Rock N Roll Portland half marathon and loved running in this city. Plus I live only a few hours from Portland.
  7. LA Marathon – Earlier this year I attempted to run this marathon, but due to IT band issues I had to DNF. I WILL be back in 2014 to start AND finish this race. There will be a lot of emotion when I cross that finish line!
  8. Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon – I’ve run the half marathon a few years. It was actually my first race ever. But I need to run the full and I will be running it this December!
  9. California International Marathon – Every year I think about doing this race. But it never makes it onto my schedule. I’ve looked at the course map many, many times.
  10. Eugene Marathon – I’ve been eyeing this one since I started running. Great running town! You get to finish on Hayward Field. How awesome is that?!

What are your top 10 marathons?

RECAP: Los Angeles Marathon 2013

The night before the race I did my usual night-before-the-race ritual. I laid out my running clothes and gear in the order that I would put it on in the morning. I went to bed around 9:15pm, but did not sleep as well as I would have wanted and kept waking up every so often. My alarm was set for 4:00am, but I woke up about 15 minutes prior and just couldn’t go back to sleep. I was too excited.

BIB and San Francisco Ambassador shirt ready!

BIB and San Francisco Ambassador shirt ready!

My friend and I left his place around 4:30am. We arrived at Dodger Stadium just after 5am. It was colder than I expected. Luckily I brought a jacket to check into gear check. We walked around for a little bit, but ultimately found a place to sit near some of the barriers until 6am. Listed to the DJ play a lot of awesome songs. Was getting pumped! Checked my gear in around 6:10am and used the porta potty. Luckily there weren’t lines for either. Fast forward 45 minutes later. Time for another visit to the porta potty. This time there were lines everywhere! Didn’t take longer than 10 minutes though.

We then made our way over to the massive crowd near the open corral. While we waited to enter the corral I ate a few of the Cytomax chews I brought with me for a caffeine boost. We were finally allowed to enter the corral around 7:20-30am. This was a pretty emotional part for me. My eyes started to well up. I was finally here after months of training and a nagging injury. Once we started to move in the corral my friend told me “Good luck! See you at the finish!”. After that it was a few minutes until I crossed the start line and I was off. It was pretty surreal moment running out of Dodger Stadium parking lot. I ran a very slow pace. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my IT band. I kept looking at my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t running too fast.

Mile 1.5, my IT band started to scream at me. I slowed down to a jog. But that didn’t help. I had to walk, there was no other option. Occasionally I would try to run or jog. The pain prevented me from doing that. I walked.

I knew that if I dropped out I couldn’t until mile 7. Since that is where the drop out points started. I had a long ways to go until mile 7. Heartbreaking to be walking 2 miles in. I walked and listened to my music. There wasn’t much more I could do. I couldn’t enjoy myself. When spectators read my name off my bib and yelled “Go Westley!” it was hard not to burst into tears. My pace was slow – 20 minutes per mile. The slowest pace I have ever ‘ran’ in a race before. Going downhill or uphill made my IT band worse. I had to slow down even more from my slow pace just to make it up or down the hills.

Fast forward to mile 8.5. I saw an aid station to my right. I thought maybe some Ibuprofen would dull the pain. Maybe it would help me run. I knew that there wouldn’t be an aid station for  a few more miles. I stopped, grabbed two and chased it with some water. Off I went, slowly.

Mile 9.5 , he pain didn’t dull or going away. I had to drop out. There was no way I could keep this up for 16.7 more miles. I decided that the next aid station I see that I would drop out.

Mile 10.5, I stopped at the aid station and told the volunteers that I needed to drop out. They told me that the shuttle back to the start line would be there soon. At this point it was 10:30am. I only covered 10.5 miles in two hours and fifty minutes. Weeks ago I ran 18 miles in two hours and thirty four minutes. Super disappointed. But I had to drop out. This was my first DNF (Did Not Finish) ever.

The shuttle arrived at about 11:15am. Me and 6 other people boarded. I managed to get a half hour nap on the shuttle. We arrived in Santa Monica about 12:15pm and a ways from the finish line. I followed the stream of people to the start line since I had no idea where I was in Santa Monica. I had to find my gear. I asked a volunteer and they told me I had to go into the finisher area to retrieve it. This was absolutely the last place I wanted to be. I entered the finishers area. Saw all the happy (and hurt) finishers displaying their medals proudly. I heard the clank of the two medals – the LA Marathon 2013 medal and the LA/SF Challenge medal. Both of which I hoped to earn that day. But I didn’t. I couldn’t stand to look at the medals. I got my gear and got out of that area as fast as I could.

After some texts and phone calls, I finally found my friend. He was happy about finishing and displayed his medal proudly. Honestly it was hard to be happy for him. I was too down on myself to get past that. I really wanted to get out of Santa Monica. I couldn’t stand to be there.

Later that evening I finally had a beer, which was the first one I had in 42 days. It didn’t taste as good as I expected.

Prior to the race I had ideas of what it would be like to finally cross the finish line. Getting my medals and buying a finisher hoody to display how proud I was of myself. It just wasn’t in the cards this time. I always say that everything happens for a reason.

I will get my revenge. Definitely running LA Marathon in 2014. And maybe the Long Beach marathon or Seattle marathon this year? We’ll see. I’m not giving up!

I want to thank everyone for their support before, during and after the marathon. I can’t thank everyone enough!

LA Marathon 2013 – Training Schedule

I’ve decided to manage my training schedule differently for the LA Marathon. I usually write my training schedule down on paper. Each week, rest days and miles for each day. I decided to input my training schedule into iCal. This way I can setup a reminder to alert me when I wake up about how many miles I need to run that day. It didn’t take too long to input the information and now is much easier to manage!

When I train, I usually use Hal Higdon’s pre-made training schedule. There is a training plan for everyone. I highly recommend them!

Hal Higdon Marathon Training Guide
Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Guide

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