The Heroics of the Weekend Long Run

Races are glamorous. When you first start running, training seems glamorous. The social media cheer, the text messages, the likes and tweets and sweet messages give you boosts and encouragement to lace up your shoes.

What happens after you’ve logged 3,494 miles over the last 6 years? No pomp and circumstance. Mostly just crazed looks from people when you mutter under your breath your weekend plans. And that’s okay, because it’s become a way of life – a new normal. It’s something for you to enjoy on your own, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a few running buddies that will commiserate with you.

My Stranger Things 2 marathon was brought to you by my Rock n Roll San Antonio marathon training, my weekend 17-miler. I had actually procrastinated the weekend before my half marathon, so this was something I definitely couldn’t get out of this time around. I’ve had it on my calendar for awhile and have been giving it the stink eye. I told one non-running person about it (it was my limit!) to help keep me accountable. That way, if she asked me about it come Monday morning, it would be completely shameful if I hadn’t completed it.

Friday night, I didn’t stay out too late, but I did have a glass of wine which gave me a headache.

Board games and wine with friends ❤️

A post shared by Amara Hulslander (@amaravp) on

I took some ibuprofen and went to bed. I woke up as usual on Saturday morning without much planned. We were planning on spending the day looking at condos from our couch and marathoning Stranger Things 2. Our long runs were planned for Sunday, but he had to work for a bit before we got the party started. He was still asleep when I woke up. I figured it would be a long while until he was ready to begin the watching party, so I decided I’d sneak down for my run. (4 miles Saturday + 17 miles Sunday.)

I was feeling pretty restless and bored, so I took my headphones down and some gels. Just in case I’d spend more time there. Just in case 4 miles wasn’t enough. (I was trying not to psych myself out.)

If I didn’t do all 17 all at once, that was okay, right? Like, if I got 21 miles in for the weekend, I’d be good, right? I began doing the math in my head and tried to see how many different ways I could break it down. By the time I put on all my clothes and gizmos I was well on my way out the door and lost in the math.

Once I got on the treadmill, I decided to just begin running and to stop whenever I felt like I should. I had all my gels in case I felt like going to 17, but I didn’t feel like I should pressure myself to stay.

The first hour came and went. 4 miles down. So a half marathon to go. Another hour passes and now all I’ve got is about 10 miles left. That’s not too bad. I continue to count down the miles until I hit 15. And that’s when things start getting really tough.

Two miles doesn’t seem too bad though. I’m taking plenty of breaks and going super slow. There isn’t much of a rush, to be honest. I’m just trying to get some time on my feet. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone this far.

I had a few things keep me company. My husband came down for 4 of those miles and ran beside me. We chatted for a bit. The rest of the time I was completely engrossed in my newest favorite podcast, Not Real Runners. You should check it out. Otherwise, when I’m not listening to podcasts, I’m listening to audiobooks, usually on Audible. (If you want a free book with trial membership, you can use this sponsored link here: Audible Membership). I also had plenty of Nuun and Clif gels to help power me through my session.

And, before I knew it, I’d hit 17 miles. It was a little under 5 hours but my HR monitor and my syncing apps all caught the tail end of it. No biggie.

There wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare or excitement, but that’s fine. I’m happy that I got in the miles. I’m proud that I was able to do it.

This coming weekend I have the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half marathon. I’m also running the 5K – my first (and probably last!) remix challenge! That’ll be race #14 for me. San Antonio will be my 15th and will round out my 2017 tour. What a wild ride it will have definitely been.

So, in short, here’s what I used to keep me going this weekend (affiliate links, btw). These were all things I used during my long run!

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll Los Angeles 2017 Half Marathon

For my 13th race, I headed back to the city that started it all: Los Angeles. It was a bittersweet race that brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad. Being a Halloween race, I also decided to run in a race costume. This race wrapped up a pretty busy month: San Jose, Denver, and LA, which is 20% of my tour if you want to get extremely technical!

Back at home, I did some quick shopping on Amazon for my Cookie Monster costume. I’m not sure why I haven’t bought more workout clothes on Amazon. The workout tank top seemed to be pretty decent, especially at $13 (aff).

I got something a bit larger than usual because I was looking for something to sit lower on my hips, and to be more flowy. I then bought a blue Sparkle Skirt (aff) to complement my tank top.

After I created the eyes and cookies from felt sheets and fabric glue, I safety-pinned everything on and voila! Costume complete!

I packed up my stuff and hopped on my flight back to my hometown. I peeked at the course map – it ran through a few familiar neighborhoods: the downtown area, USC, and Koreatown (one of my favorite places!).

The course has changed quite a bit from my last few races: no more bridge run, nor do we run inside the Olympic Coliseum. Sadness!

We went to the expo and made it in time for a photo op with Olympian Meb Keflezighi. I was thrilled to meet him in person after following his success and watching him do pushups a few feet from the Rio Olympic Marathon finish line. I thought a lot about his humbleness, the wisdom imparted upon his readers from his book, Meb for Mortals (aff), and the work and stereotypes it must’ve taken him to break so many barriers in order to win Boston in his 30s.

I tried to channel my inner Meb on Sunday morning’s run.

On Sunday morning, we headed out to the race start. The Staples Center had plenty of parking, and clean restrooms. A few people snapped photos of my costume, too. We grabbed some quick pics before heading out to the start line.

The race seemed a little smaller than I remember, but that just meant less people to weave around. However, they added two other distances on the same course: a 5K and 10K. Too bad I couldn’t do the remix challenge!

Once the race started, I settled in to a more brisk than usual pace. I had planned ahead of time to shoot for a performance time here in LA, since it was my home city and I wanted to take away something positive here. I went for a consistent warm up until we left USC, and took a quick walk break. I considered taking Galloway intervals all the way to the finish, but then reconsidered. Galloway intervals got me PRs at Arizona (half marathon) and Seattle (full marathon), so why couldn’t I pull that off here? It was perfectly feasible. However, I was looking to shave more than a minute or two off my time. I was looking for a significant time cut, so I decided to give a continuous run a try again, with consistent negative splits. With this course, that was very difficult:

Even through the last mile and the final uphill stretch between mile 10-12.5, I kept pushing my pace. You can see how that affected my heart rate. I kept thinking to myself that this is how people actually collapse at the finish line. I never quite understood how that was possible. I mean, I pushed myself, but not to the brink of a heart attach or anything, but I could definitely see how that was possible if you didn’t keep in check.

I also decided to forgo all photo opportunities to focus on my time (which as you know goes against my 2017 New Years resolutions), but sacrifices had to be made.

So, what did I think about as I ran? A little bit of everything. I had run these city blocks before, so a lot of it was reminiscing on old times with old friends. I thought a lot about the friends I made and lost along the way. I thought about old memories, old conversations, the people who used to be in my life. I thought about old physical endeavors and future goals. I thought about where I used to be and how I used to plan and anguish over my future, and how far I’ve come in my personal and professional life. I thought about these streets and how far I’ve traveled on them, through them, beyond them. I thought about how many people this city has chewed up and spat out. I thought about how many tried to succeed only to have their definition of success be redefined, either conceding to their surroundings or by finding a different path. I thought about what it meant to find your second wind, especially in your 30s.

We ran past Kennedy Inspiration Park. Although you’d generally find me off to the side, snapping some pics, I quickly glanced at one of the quotes – “Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.” I thought a lot about that for the next few miles and what that meant for my small corner of the universe – my teaching and my design work. I’m not in a position to make policies that affect people’s lives, but I’m in a position to shape the way students think. I’m in a position to shape the way people expect technology to work. That’s a pretty powerful place to be.

Courtesy of

The finish was drastically downhill…like, knee-busting-ly downhill. I survived with generous 8:30-9:45 splits, something I haven’t seen since 2011 in Anaheim during a 5K. I finished the race, red in the face, but happy with a new PR for my 30s.

It was only my 4th fastest race ever. Fastest in this current age group. I guess that’s a win…?
#1 Disneyland 2011 (2:27:40)
#2 Arizona 2013 (2:29:39)
#3 Las Vegas 2011 (2:31:38)
#4 Los Angeles 2017 (2:41:28)
#5 Arizona 2017 (2:49:02)

Now, more than ever, I am happy to have written all of my race recaps…!

It’s 48 hours after the race and I’m still sore from running down all those hills…but I’m still basking in all that glory. I can’t wait to head to Las Vegas and San Antonio to finish the year out strong. I’m so close to the Hall of Fame status, I can see it!

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll Denver Remix Challenge 2017

This was the second time I’ve ran the Rock n Roll Denver. It was very much a different experience running this city, now that we’re going on our third year here, and now that we’ve been heavily training for races for at least two years here. Although still not familiar, they certainly didn’t seem as foreign as they did this time last year. Maybe I’m starting to take a liking to this place after all. It took me awhile to warm up to Seattle. In fact, it takes me awhile really to feel like I’m not hoteling in any new city.

The 5K starts a bit later – I think it was 8am, which feels a bit late to me. The sun is overhead and its quite bright out. It’s early enough that people could ditch us for brunch and I wouldn’t be mad.

The start line looks really small, and the corrals are tiny. The 5Ks usually are pretty small for the Rock n Roll races. I hope they keep them though, because it’s really nice being able to do the Remix Challenges!

I didn’t take as many pics once the race starts, since it’s a 5K and the race was over pretty quickly! 🙂 The medal was pretty nice though. Fancy fancy!

We headed over to the expo. I kept going back and forth between going to the expo or not, but since the t-shirts were pretty boring, I really wanted to personalize them this year. I also bought a city-specific Brooks tank, which is not something I’m prone to doing. Since Denver is now my home city (for awhile I guess), I suppose I’ll rep it. Why not?

Denver is my 12th tour stop in the Rock n Roll series. It’s one of my lazy stops because the start line is just a few blocks away from my apartment.

The next morning, the sky was golden and we were all ready to go. It had gotten pretty chilly in the morning, so I wore my cold weather gear. Things were set to warm up later, but I opted for warmth anyways. I tend to get cold easily.

I debated a lot about whether or not to stop for pictures. After all, I see a lot of these places on my way to work. It’s odd playing a tourist in my own town. However, what’s interesting is that I rarely do take pictures here, even though I’m still new around here…and when do I ever get the opportunity to take pictures at these angles, anyways? I might as well do it while I still have the chance.

This particular bookstore and coffee shop holds significance to me – Erik and I signed our apartment lease there when we first decided to move to Denver. <3

I work right by Union Station!

After downtown, the run got reeeeeeaaalllllly long so I put away my phone. I recognized a lot of the sights from last year, and from my jaunts around town. I think a downside of running cities that I’m familiar with is that distances feel a lot farther when you can anticipate every landmark in view. When you’re somewhere new, everything is a surprise to you and there’s not much to expect so it’s novel.

Once in the park, you could see the leaves turning for autumn, and they had some cute photo sets up.

Such a clear gorgeous day. You can see the mountains if you squint really hard.

This is probably true.

The finish line came and went. Victory meals were consumed (Hapa Sushi). We enjoyed Blade Runner and I may have fallen asleep for part of it.

Overall, it was a great race! Since it is a local hometown race, I look forward to doing it again next year. Hopefully I can improve my time – it took a real nosedive compared to my previous year. I suspect it was because I was sick, and because of all the races I’ve done this year. With less races and more focused training on my calendar for 2018 maybe I can focus on performance.

See you in Los Angeles for race #13. The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is near!

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon 2017

On the heels of Paris came our next race…San Jose!

I had planned on doing the Remix Challenge, but that short work-week returning from Paris was pretty rough on me. I felt like I had been coming down from a cold, especially with all the exhaustion from the race and traveling.

Somewhere in between flying in to San Francisco, getting In N Out, and going to bed, I somehow negotiated passing on the 5K and sleeping in. As you can see, we got in at around 1am. I was already fairly haggard.

Our alarms went off at 5:30am for a 7:30am start. We turned over at each other and negotiated. “It’s only a 5K.” “Only two extra medals.” “Can we live without two extra medals?” “It’ll throw off the rest of the weekend…” “I think I’d prefer to perform better on the half marathon anyways.” “What about all the things we want to do later today?” Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I woke up later in the day, much more refreshed. After getting brunch, we headed to the expo like usual to grab our gear.

There was a heat advisory in San Jose, which was funny seeing as though there was a winter advisory in Denver waiting for us when we got home. In the flurry of unpacking and packing and feeling sick overall I forgot my running hat/visor, so after our visit to the Computer History Museum, we went out looking for one. It turns out that running hats were quite a specialty item – can’t get them at Ross/Marshalls/TJMaxx (at least they were sold out), or Target either. Luckily we found a running shop nearby, and dropped a whole lotta money there. It was sad, because they were closing up shop (like, for good, not for the day or anything), but we got out with tons of compression gear, shoes, etc. All I got was a visor and a water bottle!

After a long day of computering, we headed to a nearby Chinese restaurant for our pre-race dinner. Super delicious! I was soaking up as much food as I could, especially since I was coming back from Paris (all cheese and bread), and since I was going back home to Denver (nothing). I had seafood udon and hot and sour soup. Amazing.

The next morning, we headed out to downtown San Jose for the race. I’d heard mixed reviews about this course. Some people loved it, and some people hated it. I guess this was my time to find out what all the hubbub was about.

The course starts off downtown and winds through a few residential areas, and then comes back into downtown. It is fairly flat. I wouldn’t call it scenic. The streets are well maintained, so you won’t trip over anything. It seems like a lot of the streets are on a grade though, because I noticed that my calves/ankles were really sore in places depending on where I was running on the road. At first I thought it was just me but that turned out to be a consensus within the group. There were some fun locals that came out to cheer the runners on —

Once the race was over, we headed out to a hot pot place nearby the finish for a victory meal. Single serve hot pot was new to me, but mostly welcoming because I didn’t have to share my goodies and no one had to deal with my picky eating habits. My next race shirt will have to say “I run for hot pot.”

We headed back to our friend’s place, and I took a nice long victory nap. It only lasted a few hours because I had some work to do. What’s a bummer is that now that I’ve cleared by 10 races, in between 10 and 15, Rock n Roll doesn’t issue any more heavy medals. I’m on my own, unless I get a specialty medal. Back to normalcy for a bit!

We were taking a red eye back to Denver, and after landing, I pretty much had to head straight in to work for a 15 hour day. It was like an ultramarathon that I’ve never had to run before. Before heading out to the airport, we had one last victory meal…some of the best enchiladas I’ve had in awhile.

So, for as much running as I did, I probably did more eating. It made up for all the food I didn’t really enjoy in Paris!


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Race Recap: Disneyland Paris Half Marathon 2017

Every mile is magic, especially when you run them inside of a Disney park! This run took me all the way to Disneyland Paris.

The week leading up to the race I’ve began noticing some changes – a lot of mood swings, overall anxiety, particularly high irritability about everything. I don’t think it had anything to do with all the travel leading up to it though. It seemed independent of it. For those of you who didn’t know, I traveled for about two weeks straight. I went from the Rock n Roll Philadelphia race, straight to work in Seattle, then back home to Denver for a night, then to Paris for a week and then some, and then back home to Denver. Although it wasn’t that long, and most of it was for fun, I was really craving some quiet time. I sometimes miss sitting around and just not doing anything, to be honest.

Anywho, here I was in one of the happiest places on Earth. The race had three corrals – A, B, C. Strange, perhaps. My husband is about twice as fast as I am but also ended up in C corral. They ended up releasing us in mini-waves anyways, so no one got trampled. There was one guy who was flinging elbows though during the first few minutes, which was really strange to me because this is a Disney race and if he really wanted to be the first in his corral, he should’ve waited behind to start first in the next one, or elbowed his way up earlier in the wave. Or he could realize that no one really makes up their time in the first mile or so anyways.

The opening fireworks were cute. There seemed to be a lack of characters at the start, like the Disney World races.

The race starts in Disney Village and winds into both parks, Disney Studios and Disneyland Paris. Running through the park reminds me a lot of the runs through Disney World and Disneyland in Anaheim. It looks similar but…different. I don’t remember the parks well enough but at this point they’re beginning to look very similar. The sunrise casts a golden sheen over everything, especially as I run around and through the castle.


The race had a lot of the same signature magic from other Disney races, except a few perks. Since I’m a back-of-packer, we got the benefits of getting full bottles of water and full bottles of Powerade during the race. I took the opportunity to fill my entire race bottle with the good stuff, since it had been warming up considerably. I didn’t take advantage of the on-course goodies, but they looked good. They were just so different compared to what I was used to.

A lot of things seemed to be different, in fact. The starting chute was much more narrow. Men seemed to prefer to pee in the bushes near the start rather than the portapotties. There were outdoor urinals which were about 5 feet tall, which was really weird to me but normal for the men I guess. People still smoked near the start line (runners!). Instead of gels they gave real snacks, like full-sized granola bars. The race also went through a substantial part of the parks, as well as the back lots and the hotels. It also went through the Chessy countryside for a bit, and circled a local neighborhood and trail before heading back into the park.  The snack box was even different – no cheese!

I definitely felt like I was running a lot slower than usual – it may have been all the picture stops I took along the way, but it was also the drastic change in diet due to the trip. Our meal plan came with continental hotel breakfasts each day. I was hoping that meant what I was used to at hotels here in the US – things like waffles (for the fancy ones), oatmeal, etc. At the Hotel Cheyenne, that meant lots of breads (of many different sweet and plain varieties), cheeses, lunch meats, yogurts, fruit, cereals with cow’s milk (I say that because apparently I’ve gotten so picky with my milk that I now prefer almond and soy milk), coffee, tea, apple juice, and orange juice. I felt pretty bloated after having been off my usual food regimen for almost a week and my time certainly showed it.

Here, I didn’t even bother saying hi or smiling at the photographer. The course winds around the last of the hotels and into Disney Village. I’m so over this run and I just want my snack box already!

Regardless, I still had a great time. When I saw the email come out the following weekend about their challenge weekend, I was immediately intrigued. For 2018, they have a 5K + 10K + 13.1 challenge. It is incredibly tempting, but seeing as though how unhappy some folks were about the other races, I’m still waffling on the idea. There’s a lot more destinations that I have on my mind, even though Disneyland is pretty fun. However, I know that it’ll always be there to welcome me whenever I feel like coming back.

Since I completed Dopey in January (see? I’m wearing my shirt, and a few people even pointed and said hi on the course!), and now I’ve completed this race in September, it meant that I qualified for the Castle to Chateau medal!

I’d have to say that so far, the Castle to Chateau medal has been one of my favorites! It’s so fancy, and it has national flags on it. Ooh la la!


Kilometer marker signs

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll Philadelphia Remix Challenge 2017

When I first started running Rock n Roll races, I remember seeing the Hall of Fame status set at 10 races. I remember wondering to myself how someone could have the stamina and the means to accomplish 10 half marathons, let alone find the time to travel to different races around the country or the world within one calendar year.

Well, 6 years later, my time had finally come.

I had sandwiched this trip in between a few other work commitments, as I have done with most of my other runs. I had arrived in the dead of night into Philadelphia like I had for Chicago a few months prior, getting dropped off by a very kind Lyft driver. I stayed a few short blocks away from the start line at an AirBnb and made myself boxed mac and cheese on both nights, preferring to keep things low key and frugal. This pretty much sums up my journey to ten Rock n Roll races, and then some…

With only a few hours of sleep, I showed up to the 5K start line to pick up my bib and other goodies. The air was heavy with humidity. It wasn’t warm, nor was it cool. It just…was.

The 5K was an out and back. It was simple, fairly sunny, with plenty of walkers and runners and cheery faces.

After the 5K, I headed back to my AirBnB to grab a few winks of sleep before heading out to the convention center for my half marathon bib and to wander the city. It was fairly easy to get around town using the bus and on foot. The day heated up a bit, and when coupled with the humidity, made me feel like a cased sausage. I must be getting used to the dry weather in Denver.

I started noticing that they’ve completely given up on customizing the shirts for each city, so I’ve made it a point to hit the Toyota booth at each expo to get the arm badge affixed. So far I’ve made things like “I run for pie” and “I run for fries” and other silly things. Maybe in LA I can make “I run for hot pot.”

When I was done with expo things, I went to check out some historical things, like the Liberty Bell. It was a lot smaller in person. How come the Liberty Bell in history books made it look so much bigger?

Most of Independence Hall was closed by the time I got there, and tickets were required, so I snapped some photos and walked around. Hopefully next time I can plan ahead.

I noticed Chinatown and popped by for some yummy food. I hadn’t really had breakfast and it was nearly the late afternoon…time for lunch!

I stopped into a poke restaurant for a quick healthy bite to eat. Very yummy!

Afterwards, I met up with a girlfriend at the Edgar Allen Poe historical museum.

There were too many places to eat, and so many places to see. I really do have to come back another year to enjoy everything!


The next day, I set out for the half marathon. It was one of the most beautiful race starts I’ve seen, to be honest! Also, by the time my corral started, the pros had already completed their 5K lap. Just…wow!

I think this was the race’s 40th anniversary. From what I found it boasted 29 legacy runners. I can’t imagine doing something for 40 years straight, except for eating, breathing, and sleeping, but only because those are automatic and required for life.

This shot reminded me of running through Liverpool!

My namesake?

This was in the Fairmount neighborhood, which was really close to my Airbnb.

This was one of the prisons, which was guarded by gargoyles. There’s tours daily, but I didn’t get a chance to go. Next time!

Lucky number seven!

Perhaps I wasn’t at work, but later that day I’d have to board a plane to Seattle to head to work.

At this point I was at mile 9 and I would’ve preferred the couch, to be honest.

This rocker dude greets me at almost every race.

There were a lot of cyclists bandit-ing the course, which was annoying. However, this guy was wearing an Incredibles costume and riding along the racers cheering us on.

I was more than thrilled when I saw the finish line. Never happier! Really though, I was never happier because I had reflected on my 10-race journey during this race. It’s been awhile since I’ve been emotional during a race, but this was a special one for me. So many times during this year I had felt like throwing in the towel on this goal, but here I was. I’m only 2/3 of the way there, but this still feels like a good accomplishment to me.

Here I am, with my gold record for race #10 of the year!

My friend and I even ran up the Rocky steps!

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Here’s the results and map of my race:

From there, I hopped on a plane to work…

I added a few more medals to my collection, including a remix medal. So much bling!

Next stop: Disneyland Paris!

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon 2017

Soooo…Virginia Beach. That was an interesting trip!

We cashed in all of our miles to book this birthday trip for Erik, which fell during Labor Day weekend and during the Great American Music Festival. To keep things affordable, we flew into Washington DC and decided to drive to Virginia Beach.

A road trip would be fun! We love road trips! However, this was a road trip like no other. A 3:30 drive quickly turned into a 5 hour trip, and it being on the heels of a red eye made it even harder on the driver (him). We napped at a rest stop along the way to make things a little easier.

Then, on top of that, our Airbnb was pretty awful, so we had to book a new hotel at the last minute. Our race weekend was off to a pretty rocky start.

We got to the expo though and did our usual rounds – photos and bib pickup. I even got to sign the wall this time, and got my race shirt personalized!

After securing a place to rest for the night that wasn’t terrible, we prepped our stuff and relaxed. The air was heavy, warm, and dewy. It felt like we were swimming where ever we walked. It was weird, almost like Nashville, except without the heat.

The next morning, we headed to the race start. Thanks to our hotel, it was a quick 15 minute walk. That was probably one of the closest hotels I’ve ever stayed at…with exception of the one at Rock n Roll Vegas in 2013 probably, when I stayed on the same block as the finish line. That was just dreamy. I seeded myself in the back corral, since my training in August was completely off. I think I completed a handful of runs, but definitely no triathlon training. I felt a bit unconditioned than usual, so I figured I’d hang out with the cool kids.

Most of the corrals were pretty low energy. It seemed like the even the emcee was having a hard time getting them pumped up, and she is always super enthusiastic and every single race! When it came time for us, at least we got into the rock ‘n roll spirit.

Apparently the slower folks save their energy for the party?

Anyhow, the race conditions were miserable, so I didn’t take any photos. The mugginess always bother me, that and headwind, so my phone didn’t make it out of my hydration pack. I’ve been sticking to my handheld water bottle lately, and the phone barely fits inside of it. Taking it out is more trouble than it’s worth, and the route wasn’t too scenic towards the end anyways.

The course itself was fairly flat. As I was finishing up my second mile or so, the winners of the race were finishing up. I saw the first, second, and third place men and women. Pretty cool. It reminded me of Liverpool! I kept going and the environment changed quite a bit, going from beachfront to a lush forest. We ran through a residential area, and then around an army base, back up a bridge, and then along the waterfront for a pier finish. The sun came out and I didn’t put on a lot of sunscreen in the morning, so I decided to gun it towards the end and run the last 2-3 miles continuously (as opposed to sticking with my run/walk intervals). I just wanted to get out of the sun so that I didn’t burn!

I ended up finishing my ninth race with three medals: the half marathon medal, the 9th challenge medal, and the Beach to Beach medal (San Diego and Virginia Beach medal). Sweet race bling!

After a disco nap, we headed back out for some pizza and the music festival on the beach.

And then, we were back off to Denver.

Since this was my 9th Rock n Roll race this year, this also means that I have 6 more to go: 10) Philadelphia 11) San Jose 12) Los Angeles 13) Denver 14) Savannah or San Antonio 15) Las Vegas.

Next stop…Disneyland Paris!

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Race Recap: Run for Totality Half Marathon 2017

A month or so ago, I was researching some places to view the total solar eclipse that was passing through the country. One of my best friends mentioned a long time ago that he was interested in going to Jackson for a viewing party. When considering the map, I was pretty sure that everything west of Denver was going to be fairly impacted, so I began looking east. Additionally, since there quite a few open states on my map to fill up, I decided to look for races during that same weekend too so that I could multi-task.

Lo and behold, we found quite a race, one that was billed to be the most epic of them all – a race in Falls City, Nebraska, which terminates at the point of totality. Finishers would be able to view the totality from the finish line after the conclusion of the race. I was really excited for the race and invited my running friend from San Diego to join us for the weekend.

The three of us piled our camping equipment into the car and headed east of Denver into Kansas for the weekend. Our first stop was the geographic center of the United States. Erik had gone there on his driveabout earlier in the summer, and I was very envious. Since we were passing through anyways, we made a pit stop. It was really cool!

Along the way we passed by a few small towns sprinkled in between large farming communities. We got tired of the snacks we packed pretty quickly, so the stops served as good stretch breaks and snack breaks.

This is pretty much what it looked like until we got back to Denver. Really!

Anywho, we set up our campsite in Old Town, Kansas. It was sunset by the time we got there, so there aren’t any photos. I was setting up the tent in the wind as Erik was getting the fire going. No time for photos as we were busy swatting bugs and keeping our equipment from flying away. We eventually settled into dinner, drinks, smores, showers, and sleep. My hardy tent has now traveled to another state with me — CA, AZ, WA, WY, and now KS. I keep thinking that it’s time for a new tent, but whenever it unfurls and holds up for one more trip I put it off for just one more night.

Anyhow, we woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise, had our overnight oats for breakfast, and embarked on our one-hour journey to Falls City, Nebraska for our race.

The skies were looking pretty clear so we had a good feeling about the race. We got to their town square to grab our bibs and t-shirt. The field was fairly small, but everyone seemed really excited to be there. It seemed like the race volunteers were pretty new at putting on races before, which seemed normal since the city population was somewhere in the range of 4,300.

Before the race got started, we couldn’t even grab coffee in the town square. The bakery didn’t take credit cards and didn’t have a bathroom. We had to head over a few blocks to the grocery store instead.

Little did they know I’d need the well wishes for the day ahead!
Obligatory start line photo
A bunch of city hoodlums who got lost in the countryside
This was the start line of the race!

Erik and Arlene decided to run with me during this race. Maybe it was the smaller field, or the novelty of the event, or the fact that the race was going to be on a major highway for most of the way. I told them ahead of time that I was running 40 second walk/run intervals. I actually kept warning them over and over again. Erik did groan a bit after the first quarter mile but he let up afterwards. I insisted that they continue on without me but they stuck around, which ended up being a good thing because Erik got rid of his water bottle before the race and our water stations were very far away. The weather changed constantly during the race: it was cool one minute, heated up the next, with dashes of thunder and rain and sun and clouds the next. Then repeat that for the next 3 hours while having to run on and off the highway, on the road, on the shoulder, and in the adjacent trail, while dodging cars and semis. It was really quite the adventure!

Probably my best race picture ever

We finally got to the finish line, without the usual fanfare…just with a sense of accomplishment and a heaping sense of fatigue. And anticipation for the eclipse!

The eclipse itself was amazing. It lasted about 2 and a half minutes. Although most of it was obscured by clouds, we witnessed the sky falling dark, the cool air blowing through, and then dusk reappearing.

After the eclipse, we all piled into a volunteer’s van and headed the 13.1 miles back to the start line and headed home. When pulling our directions home, I looked at the Google Maps traffic for the areas in the path of the totality –

So fascinating. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime event!

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July 2017 Training Recap: 138.8 Total Miles, Zero Outdoor Riding

I used to be able to do week-by-week recaps for my events. Now I suppose monthly recaps will have to do!

Depending on the regularity at which you talk to me, visit my blog, or how much I decide to share with you at any given time, you may know that I’ve been toying with the idea of heading back into triathlons again. I loaded a few training plans into my calendar, enough to get me to the start line of Ironman Boulder. Although I’m still unsure if I want to do that specific event — Cozumel, Copenhagen, and Barcelona still call me — I’ve been essentially putting myself to the test, figuring out if I indeed want it or if it was just a nagging thought. From time to time I get those, especially with my bipolar disorder (which gets exacerbated with my ADHD), so I always find that it’s best to prove to myself that I indeed actually want to do something as taxing and onerous as this. (For instance, I had to prove to myself that I wanted to go to grad school the first time by reading *all* of the books on marketing at the library. Yeah…)

Anywho, my first month, as defined as July 4th to 31st:
-138.8 total miles
-56.7 miles running (13.1 of them being the RNR Chicago)
-71.5 miles cycling (all indoors)
-3.67 miles swimming
-6.93 miles rowing (for days I couldn’t make it to the pool)
-Missed two swims and cut one run a few miles short

All in all, not too bad I suppose. I got some new tubes on my bike last month but haven’t really taken my bikes outside. I’ve made excuses, like “well, the trail is pretty busy during rush hour” (well, it is, because of bike commuters!), and then mid-day it’s “well it’s really hot and I’ll get sunburned” or “well, there’s a thunderstorm advisory and I don’t want to die.” I was going to go on a quick morning ride this morning but I got sucked into a fruitless internet discussion about women in cycling. My energy would’ve been better spent…you guessed it…cycling. Oh well. My day is fairly open, and if I can coerce myself to get on my bike for a lunchtime ride when the trail is clear and the weather is nice, I can re-learn how to use my gears again. I’m tired of pumping my tires and then going nowhere!

One of my goals for the end of summer was to find a short, local triathlon. Alas, the summer is quickly coming to a close. I’ve looked for something that would work with my schedule it is proving to be a challenge. School starts in a few weeks. There’s a sprint tri this coming weekend in Vail, but I’ve done zero outdoor riding, so it’s practically out of the question. The next one I could do is the 26th but it’s sandwiched between two shows (Depeche Mode and TJ Miller), and I have friends coming into town. The week after that we’re heading out to Virginia Beach. The week after that, I do have something on the calendar mysteriously called ‘Desert’s Edge Sprint/Oly Tri’…Hmm…That’ll probably be only only choice if I want to do it this fall before my slew of fall half marathons begin in rapid succession.

What I should do is actually rewrite my end of summer goal as “ride my road bike outside.” That would most likely be more productive and then be conducive to registering for a sprint. Or maybe just taking my bike outside into the hallway. Or wearing my cycling kit around the house. Kaizen – small steps, right?

Overall, things are going okay. Things at work have been looking up considerably. I’ve been looking forward to getting back into the classroom. I wish I spent more time this summer reading, but I’ve been focusing a lot on my training, traveling, and work. At this point my only reading is done through Blinkist and through audiobooks/podcasts. I suppose that it’s still been a fairly productive summer, all things considered.

Lesson of the month:

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2017

My eighth Rock n Roll race of the year was in Chicago. What an adventure that was! This was the quickest turnaround trip I think I’ve ever done for an out-of-state race. I had a class the morning before my trip that kept me on my toes. After my class was over. It required a bit more preparation than usual to pull off…

1) My pasta dinner needed to be pre-cooked and pre-packed
2) I packed 24-hours worth of food and toiletries in a single carry-on (I love it!)
3) My signed race release was in my handheld hydration pack for the race
4) My flight clothes were packed in my school bag
5) My race clothes doubled as my pajamas

My class was out at 4pm, and my flight was set to leave by 6:10. Boarding was at 5:45pm, but after many many delays we ended up departing at 10pm!

I was so tired. I ate an extra round of airport linner (that’s what I call lunch and dinner). I enjoyed my pasta on the plane, and landed in Chicago at around 1:30am. I was exhausted and decided against picking up my rental car, especially since I slept so little the night before. After calling a Lyft, I finally made it to my Airbnb by 2:30. I prepped my race gear and was asleep by 2:45.

My alarm went off at 5:30am. I had only had a few moments to wake up, get dressed, and head out. Most of my journeys to the start line are fairly uneventful. However, this one truly takes the cake…

What I should’ve done was taken the train…it would’ve taken me pretty close to the start line without much fuss. What I ended up doing was calling a Lyft driver. Most of the time, Lyft drivers are pretty awesome and they take directions pretty well. This one completely refused to take directions from me, or from Google Maps. He insisted on using his in-dash Tom Tom, which doesn’t live update traffic conditions based on road closures. He kept talking down to me for the entire ride, even though I told him that I was in a rush, and that he should just take directions from Google Maps. He also kept ignoring road closures and the police had to intervene. It was a mess.

I was in a rush because I had only 20 minutes to get to the start, and to pick up my bib. Again, this was a start like no other because I was picking up my bib at the solutions tent. It’s unlike me to grab my bib the morning of the race. It’s certainly hectic, but I didn’t anticipate getting in so late, nor did I anticipate such a terrible driver. He kept driving farther and farther from the start line, and at the earliest opportunity I had, I got out of the car and began running to the start! I’ve never done that before, but I absolutely had to do what needed to be done to get my bib. It was about 1.5 miles to the start. I made it in the nick of time. Quite literally, I showed up as the first wave was taking off! By the time I got my bib, the first five waves had left. I was able to pin on my bib and hop into my corral. A few minutes later, I was at the start line.

Once we were off, the runners went winding through the streets of Chicago. I know I say this every time, but this was definitely one of the best courses on the race circuit! It was a completely flat, urban course. I loved being downtown and winding through the urban attractions. I’d been there once before, for Erik’s birthday a few years ago, so I recognized some of the buildings.

Some of my things I noticed about running through Chicago: lots of Dunkin Donuts, lots of theaters (like, plays…not cinemas), plentiful public transit, tons of event venues, and plenty of places to eat! If I had more time, I would love to take an eating tour of the city. 🙂

I finished with a lackluster time, which was fine, given 2.5 hours of sleep…

I was tired, but not exhausted. I followed my :40/:40 intervals, kept well hydrated despite the humidity, and slowed down whenever I needed to. I earned my bean!

We ran right past Buckingham Fountain, so I went back for a quick photo before I left to shower and fly out of the city…thus concluding my less-than 12-hour journey in Chicago.

This was a difficult trip in many ways. Even though it all worked out, the logistics cut quite close on all accounts. I’m not sure what I could’ve done differently except…well, everything. This being race 8 of 15 was really stressful. I suppose it would be in good practice to have such a disaster of a weekend occur halfway through a 15-race challenge!

The rest of the year needs to be booked pretty tightly for me to get to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame goal of 15 races. I have Virginia Beach, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Denver all logistically figured out. The only ones that are left to figure out are Savannah and Philadelphia.

Although I try not to think too far ahead, I’m thinking to my 2018 goals as well. What will be my triathlon goal for next year? I’m still twiddling my thumbs and considering my options, but I’ve already began merging my running training plan with a triathlon training plan.

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