Tag Archives: Races

Kaiser 5K Race Recap

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{Photo credit: Kaiser Half Marathon and 5K Facebook Page}

I love the Kaiser Half Marathon. In my opinion, its one of the best half-marathon courses in the Bay Area (it also holds my PR for this distance so I’m biased that way). I signed up for this race when registration opened last Fall but ended up dropping down to the 5K. This was my first time running this distance.

A Week Before the Race

A week before race day I went out for an 8-mile run. Unfortunately I developed a “hot spot” on my foot, right where I tie my laces. It was painful but I was stubborn and completed the distance. It bruised my foot and had me limping for a few days.

I was still hopeful to run the half, but I wanted to see what my options. I emailed the race organizers to ask if I would be able to drop down to the 5k.

They responded immediately with this note:

“No problem! You still wear your white Half Marathon bib, listen to the announcements so that you will be in the correct place to take the 5K cut-off. You will be scored in the 5K and receive your medal. You will notice that there are many other white bibs doing the 5K with you (many don’t even decide until race morning that they are not in the mood for the longer distance. See you on Feb 1.”

This race has 10,000 runners. If only more races could be so accommodating.

Day Before Race Day

I had to skip Tuesday’s run because it hurt just to put on socks. But I managed to get in some miles on Thursday. I tried to go out for my shake out run on Saturday but I couldn’t even walk to the end of my street without limping. At this point I was questioning even being able to run the 5k. But I really wanted the race medal of Kezar Stadium. So I scrapped the shakeout run and hoped for the best on Sunday.

Race Day

My foot still hurt on Sunday morning. So I wrapped my foot in athletic tape and put on some knee high socks (ankle socks were still painful). I had to rig my left shoe so that it was only laced halfway down. That seemed to relieve some of the pressure on the bruise.

I drove to the City and parked in my friend’s neighborhood in the Sunset. The beauty of having runner friends who have babies is that they are up early! My friend was kind enough to drop me off near the start.

The weather was perfect, in the low 50s. I ate half a banana, used the port-a-potties, then lined up with the 5kers.

The Race

Mile 1:

So. Much. Weaving. This race doesn’t have any corrals. In fact, the only instructions given at the Start were “half marathoners on the left, 5kers on the right.” I thought I had positioned myself closer to the front to avoid the walkers. But that first mile was all about maneuvering myself around walkers – people who should have been further back.

Mile 2:

I have no idea how to run a 5k. I rarely run them. I had my Garmin set to display only the distance so I didn’t know what pace I was running. Was it too fast or a 5k? Too slow? No clue. I felt like I was working hard but not at puke level. My half-tied shoe also felt like it was going to fly off at any moment. So it was surprising to see 8:51 when my Garmin beeped at Mile 2 . The last time I ran a mile that started with 8:xx during a race was five years ago.

Mile 3:

By now I switched my Garmin to show lap pace and distance. I had less than a mile left but couldn’t hang. My foot was on fire so I walked a bit and tugged on the tongue. I had been holding the same pace as Mile 2 but lost about 20 seconds doing that.

Official Finish Time was 29:10. Not close to a PR but much better than I expected. With the way my foot felt that morning I thought I would have to walk most of it and hoped to finish in under 40 min. Seriously.

Thoughts:

This is my favorite race. Its a hometown race. Both courses are PR-friendly. Its has a larger-ish race feel with 10,000 runners (though given this size they should have corrals at the start).

Besides the start, the rest of it is so well-organized. They give you the option of having your bib mailed to you so you don’t have to waste time going to an expo the day before the race. The finish area/expo is spacious enough so that so no one is crushing into each other. There are useful vendors at the Finish Line expo. I learned about two new races in the area! Its also spectator-friendly.

RhodyCo Productions does a great job putting on a fun and simple community event. I hope to run this every year.

On a personal note, I surprised myself and enjoyed the 5k experience. I’m revamping my race plans for the year and plan to spend more time on this distance for the next few months.

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Weekly Workout Recap: Jan 12-18

A photo posted by Naomi (@njnsf) on

{the above photo is part of the race course taken three months ago on a routine run}

I debated writing a race recap for the Foster 10-mile Race. The race didn’t go well for me. But since I’ve decided to resume these weekly workout recap series, I’ll use this post for my race recap.

Pre-Race

The days leading up to it were a little stressful. When I saw my doctor last week she confirmed what I had suspected. I was showing signs of increased cortisol (stress) levels. My IBS symptoms had returned. It was likely due to the stress of marathon training and indulging in sugar during the holidays. With my gut health taking a step back, I’ve decided to do the Low FODMAPS diet for the next 4-6 weeks. Its the best thing to do when having an IBS flareup.

I also need to be cognizant of how much stress I put on my body and that includes workouts. I discussed my upcoming races with my doctor. She felt it would be okay to proceed as planned, provided I didn’t run or do hard workouts on consecutive days.

The workouts leading up to race day were easy or complete rest days:

Mon, 01/12: Rest
Tues, 01/13: 5-mile Run + 40-min Foam Roller Yoga (online video at home)
Wed, 01/14: Nothing – Pilates instructor had the flu
Thurs, 01/15: 5-mile Run – alternating speeds in 2 and 3-min increments
Fri, 01/16: Rest
Sat, 01/17: 2-mile Shakeout Run + strides

While Saturday’s shakeout run felt good, later in the day I spent four hours on my feet at the doggie meet-up. By the time I got home from that I felt exhausted, hungry and dehydrated.

Alone the Low FODMAPS diet is a difficult program to follow. But add in the fact that I also can’t eat soy, dairy, corn, grain or nightshade foods and it feels maddening.

I didn’t have anything to eat during the day on Saturday and that evening I had a mostly veggie with some protein dinner. In hindsight I realize that I didn’t eat a lot of carbs because there’s not a lot of carb options that I can eat right now.

Race Day

I woke up, got ready, then took Coco Pop out for her morning walk. As soon as we got home I put her in her crate. It would be the longest block of time she was left home alone (and she did fabulous!).

My only carb-related option for breakfast was a banana, but at the time I wasn’t hungry. There were four aid stations on the course which would be plenty for a 10-mile race so I opted not to bring a water bottle and carried the banana instead.

I ran 1.35 miles to the Start Line at Leo Ryan Park. It was the perfect distance for a warm-up.

When I got there I picked up my bib and then used the restroom in the community center. Real bathrooms with no lines! A few people from my neighborhood had signed up for the 5K so I walked around looking for them but never found them (I think they no-showed). It was a warm morning so I hung around outside and did some dynamic stretches.

Since I still wasn’t hungry and I decided to use the banana as my mid-race fuel (since my usual Honey Stinger gels aren’t Low FODMAPS compliant).

The race was small. Everyone (5K and 10-milers) gathered at the Start Line and started together. They gave some instructions before we started but everyone around me was talking so I didn’t hear a word of it.

The race started with little fanfare. The first couple of miles had us running across Foster City toward the Bay Trail. I felt great during the first three miles.

Once we got to the Bay Trail things went south. I knew this part of the course (the bulk of it) would be a mental struggle because I hate running there. Its exposed, usually crowded and quite boring. And I’ve run here for YEARS.

What I didn’t expect was my legs to give out on me. I underestimated the toll that Saturday’s excursion took on my body. While my lungs felt great my legs failed me. Its a good thing the Finish Line was closer than my house was because I would have just made a beeline home.

And while I did eat that banana over the course of Miles 4-8, I think the lack of pre-race fuel was also a contributing factor. The rest of the race was just one long slog with lots of walk breaks.

As for the race itself, it was well-organized. The volunteers at the aid stations were supportive and fantastic. The course was well-marked with signs, course marshalls and policemen directing us where to go.

But the race lacked personality. There was nothing exciting about it. As little fanfare there was at the start, there was none at the finish. When I crossed the line, I walked over to the table to get a water bottle (they did have snacks but I didn’t take any). Then I walked to the volunteer table to get my Finishers Shirt (no medal). And then I slogged the 1.35-mile journey home. I was home within 15-20 minutes. It was all anti-climactic. There’s more excitement at a $5 DSE race.

The bulk of the race course is where I do most of my running – for free. So while I’m glad I experienced this race once, it goes on my list of “races I don’t feel the need to run again.”

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2013 Big Sur Half-Marathon

I have such mixed feelings about this race that its taken me over a week to write this post on it..

Being that this race was the first one I ever ran, it holds a special place in my heart. That first race five years ago was such a great experience and I so wanted this year’s race day to live up to it.

Pre Race

The beauty of staying at the Portola Hotel is that it is literally two blocks away from the Start Line and mere steps from the Finish Line.

With the race starting at 7 am, I set my alarm for 5:30 am so that I could have time to eat a {gluten-free} bagel and let it digest. I lounged around for 45-min, got dressed in five minutes and headed downstairs to the lobby at about 6:30 am to check out the scene. As expected, it was packed with happy runners of all age, shapes and sizes. I took a step outside to gauge the temps. It was chilly, but not cold enough for gloves, so I went back up to my room to drop them off but decided to keep my arm sleeves on.

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When I got to the Start area there were rows and rows of port-a-potties and no lines. I easily found my corral. There were people checking bibs to make sure you entered the right corral – if I recall correctly, this was something different from 2008. As we got closer to the start time, the corrals began filling and I stood there taking it all in, listening to the conversations going on around me. I deduced that names printed in red on bibs indicated it was the runners first half marathon. And there were a lot of those – about 1700 of the registered 7000 runners – in other words, its a great course for first-timers. :)

Race

The first couple corrals started 3-min apart, and corrals after that started 30-seconds apart so my corral didn’t start running until about 10-min after the gun time. I make note of this because I ran without my Garmin.

At the expo I had inquired about clocks on the race course and was told there wouldn’t be any. I debated if I should wear my Garmin, but decided against it. I knew I wasn’t in PR condition (this was my longest run since SFM) and really wanted to enjoy the race. I didn’t want to get sucked into watching time so left it behind.

But right from the start, things didn’t go well.

Just a few steps after we started running a guy in front of me stepped on a gel packet and it splattered ALL OVER me. There I was, not even two minutes into the race and was covered in an apple-flavored gel.

Terrible shin splints and GI distress also showed up early too. But I fell into a pretty good rhythm and hoped that things would work itself out. But by Mile 2 I was already stopping for my first of three potty breaks. I thought after that first bathroom stop I would feel better, but I really didn’t. My body felt like it was at Mile 22 instead of Mile 2. It scared me – I had never felt that fatigued that early on in a race before.

For the first time ever, my local aunt, cousin and Jasmine were cheering me on at a race. I was so excited to see them at Mile 3 that it took my mind of how lousy I felt.

The great thing about this race is that it is very spectator-friendly. So much so that all my family had to do was stand outside their hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel on Cannery Row, to watch the race. They had packed soccer-mom (i.e. folding) chairs and were bundled up holding signs and ringing cowbells, cheering for everyone. I knew exactly where they would be so I ran on the side of the street where we could see each other from “a mile” (not really) away.

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I ran up and threw them my arm-sleeves {because it was so warm by then} at them, stopped for a pic and yelled, “Things aren’t going well” and then continued running.

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Confession: it briefly crossed my mind to drop out from the race right then and there (how much more convenient could it get?) but this was one race I wasn’t going to DNF. Not even if I was dying – which I would soon think that I was.

I don’t know why but in my head I always thought that this race was flat. Well I wouldn’t call it hilly, but I its definitely NOT flat. There are modest inclines throughout the entire course.

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By Mile 5 my shin splints disappeared but at Mile 7 my L hamstring decided to remind me that I had pulled it two weeks earlier. That combined with my continued GI distress and heavy fatigue just wasn’t fun. I ran when I could but walked most of the course. Its a good thing we ran with views like this, otherwise it would have been downright miserable.

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And although I flirted with going to a dark place a few times, I ran mostly feeling so grateful to live and run in such a beautiful area of the world.

When I hit the turnaround at Mile 8 I was convinced that I was looking at a personal worst time and thought it would be around the 3-hour mark.

So you can imagine how utterly shocked I was when the 2:10 pace group passed me at Mile 10. With the amount of limping I had done I wondered how was this even possible?! I made an attempt to run with them but it was so crowded, and the pacer kept talking (a pet-peeve of mine), that I couldn’t take it. I dropped back and let them go.

I continued my shuffle, and watched the 2:15 pace group pass. I felt sad because that meant I wouldn’t beat my original time of 2:15, but yet I also felt good because I wasn’t going to finish near 3 hours.

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The last few miles are on the recreational path along the water. I ran on the dirt on the side of the path which helped my hammy a bit. The crowds were gathered along both sides of the course for the last mile (even impeding the course on the last half mile). Hearing people yell my name and cheer me on was a nice push to the finish, with my finishing time being 2:22:35.

Nowhere close to my PR or my course PR, but definitely not a personal worst.

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Post-Race Thoughts

While I am disappointed in how this race turned out for me, I can’t help but be grateful for all that it has given me.

If this beautiful race course had not been my first race ever, would there have been a second race?

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Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to run this race the way I wanted to I appreciate the fact that it was this race introduced me to something that I now love to do. I’m proud that five years after running my first half-marathon, I finished my 21st half-marathon, with four marathons in-between.

And I was thrilled to have my family there cheering me on. It meant the world to me to see them there and I love these signs that Jas made for me.

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I’m not sure why I waited five years to return to Big Sur, but I plan to make it a regular part of my race schedule from now on.

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