Lake Hodges 50k – 2017

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This past July I decided I was going to run my first ultra marathon. This decision came to
me in my journey to eventually qualify for Boston. I’ve noticed when I run longer distances not only do I become stronger but mentally my mileage becomes less. I’ve learned it allows me to run faster and longer. Adding miles to my runs, especially trail

drop bags!

drop bags!

runs gives me the strength I need to become faster. I could just get into interval training on a high school track but I find trails a little more exciting and my style!

I decided to run Lake Hodges 50k because the course looked challenging, the race director was organized, and the October date was appealing for nice weather…. It also gave me 12 weeks to train. Training was smooth, fueling for longer distances is fun for me. I like the science behind it and how nutrition plays a role in the way I preform. Since 31 miles isn’t a whole lot more than a marathon. I altered some of

first mile in and looking perfectly spooky for a Halloween race!

first mile in and looking perfectly spooky for a Halloween race!

my gels and actually added food (yes, food) to my training. It’s so hard for me to eat anything while running. The night before a run I can’t eat past midnight, I can stomach one Health Warrior Bar or gel and that’s it! It really sucks but that’s my body. So taking on an Ultra was exciting, it let me challenge myself and play nutritionist at the same time ;p

On October 28th, I woke up around 3:45 to make a 7 am start time. The race was held at Lake Hodges hence Lake Hodges 50k which is in Escondido. About 45-55

The long stretch before hills, this is where the sun started to poke out!

The long stretch before hills, this is where the sun started to poke out!

miles from my home. Since I had schedule two races this weekend, the 28th and 29th I wasn’t able to make packet pick up in between work and managing a LA packet pick up. So I got to the race by 6 to pick up my bib and shirt. The packet pick up line while long was fast, as it was organized well. I was able to pick my bib up, check in, and collect my crazy thoughts, lol. I originally put together two drop bags that I 86’d that morning and

decided to go “All IN” on the aid stations and my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Pack.

Before the race, I did some final stretching and prayed. I prayed for strength, I prayed for the other runners, I prayed for whatever God had planned for us; we would accept and try to understand his plan, whether we DNF or finished. Before I knew it I was toeing’ the start line and off into low

Photo by Scott Crellin

Photo by Scott Crellin

laying fog amongst the brush. The first 5k was easy and relaxing, from tips of previous ultra runners, I knew to start slow. I got into “my” comfortable pace. My pace was strong and my mind was open. I kept telling myself that finishing was more important than time, with the exception of course cut off times ;p My

Past the hills and getting closer to finishing, 24.5 miles and 6.5 to go!

Past the hills and getting closer to finishing, 24.5 miles and 6.5 to go!

goal for my first 50k was a sub 6:30, I wasn’t sure 5k or even 10k into the race if I’d hit my goal.

I continued to run and at 4.6 I came across my first aid station, it was after a hilly .5 of up and down. I stopped and refilled my bottles. I kept my nuun Performance in the pockets of my HydraQuiver. That helped me maintain my electrolytes and carb balance. My goal was to
intake between 100-250 calories per hour, as well as stay hydrated and energized.

Back at Lake Hodges and close to finishing!

Back at Lake Hodges and close to finishing!

Once I trailed off the aid station, I told myself to make those stations “markers” and utilize them as much as possible. The aid stations for this Ultra were

awesome and included anything you could think of. They really spoiled my first Ultra experience. The next aid station was 8.5 and the course during the

photo by Scott Crellin

photo by Scott Crellin

last 4 miles was back tracking the hilly .5 to an overpass that lead to open area and yay, hills! Between 8.5 and the aid station at mile 13. I started talking to a woman who was an ER nurse. This part of the course had long stretches of miles and farmland. She told me she ran this race before and remembers this part being boring as she ran it alone. Running through it, I felt free. I enjoyed the stretches and was happy for no incline, yet. Mile 13 we hit another aid station, I took my time

Back at Lake Hodges and with about a mile to go!! Smiles for days!

Back at Lake Hodges and with about a mile to go!! Smiles for days!

and my new running friend did too. We were there about 30 seconds, a refill and few pretzel sticks did the trick. This section is where the hills kicked in and I slowed down a bit. Only 13 miles in and I didn’t want to exert myself just yet. I still felt strong and I had my new running friend by my side. We were each other’s cheerleaders and it helped. The next aid station approached at mile 18, at this point I just refueled my OM bottles and snacked on some almonds I had packed myself. I took a Honey Stinger gel, and started back on my way. The way back to the next aid station just backtracked from mile 13 to 18.75, then 18.75 became 24.5. Getting through 18.75 and 24.5 was the toughest. My legs were on fire, hills for days and I also let my running buddy go so she could crush a PR! During this time I chatted with many runners, we both kept each other’s spirits up and managed to get through to the next station. 24.5 aid station until 28.9 I was running solo, trying to feel comfortable and stay headstrong. The ground at that point was flat but sandy. I started chatting with a young man who runs marathons every week. Some twice in a weekend. He was truly inspiring, I let him go at mile 30…so he could crush his PR. Between the last mile, I came across men and women who we

I finished!! Officially an Ultra Marathoner!

I finished!! Officially an Ultra Marathoner!

cheered each other on; keep it going; stay strong; see you at the finish! Coming along the lake once again, that familiar single track path that you started with was rewarding and so exciting. I saw the finish line in the distance and started my sprint. You can’t help but speed up and finish strong! Crossing the finish line was amazing, my sister surprised me with my boys and flowers. People were cheering and ALL the food was ready to eat!

I had finished my first 50k in 06:42:42, 12 mins longer than hoped but I finished and couldn’t be upset over a time. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or laugh. The experience was amazing!!! I knew I had picked the perfect race for my first. I recommend Lake Hodges 50k to anyone whether you are running your first or 10th ultra marathon. The race actually has different distances, so you can start at a mile kids run, 15k, and then work your way into the 50k! This race spoiled me during my first ultra marathon experience. I’m now planning my next challenge, a 50 miler and hopes of the change to run MiWok 100k next May. I know this challenging and rewarding experience will lead me to Boston in the years to come. For now, I’ll enjoy new friends, miles on trails, and adventures with my boys!

Running while Breastfeeding

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Pumping at 3 AM before heading to the start corrals!

My second son was born during a year I had signed up for a lot of races. Giving up running when he was born wasn’t going to be an option unless my doctor told me otherwise. So, I had to revise my training schedule around feedings and nap times. I knew I wanted to breastfeed him, just as I did my first son for a year at the minimum. When I was cleared to run at my 6 week postpartum appointment, the planning begun. My shorter runs included me feeding baby before I would head out the door. This was easy, it was going to be my longer runs I would struggle with. What helped me the most was obtaining a breast pump through my insurance. Being able to feed my son before a long run, then pump 6-8 more ounces after relieved tension and weight.

I ran my first marathon when my son was 4 1/2 months old. I had to average out being away for 5 hours, when I normally would feed every four. My plan involved me feeding and pumping before I headed to the start line, which stretched my time out to 7 hours without feeding. My son would have milk to drink but this didn’t help me from leaking or feeling super uncomfortable. So by planning to have Mav meet up with me around mile 15-16 I was able to pump enough to get me to the finish and back to the hotel. Strategic planning, feeding schedules, and a pump helped me run while breastfeeding. Pumping after feedings and while my son would sleep through the night, allowed me to create a stock pile of milk. So even on some longer uncomfortable runs I was able to feel as ease knowing my son wasn’t going hungry.

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Breastfeeding at the finish line of RNR Las Vegas!

The Breastfeeding Shop is a perfect go to solution to obtain your breast pump. They work exclusively with your insurance company so you don’t have to pay for your pump out of pocket. If you plan on running while breastfeeding and don’t want to have to worry about being uncomfortable or baby going hungry while you are out; you are going to need a breast pump! Please check out the breastfeeding shop and fill out their form to get your pump today!

Run Revel – Mount Charleston 2017

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On April 29th, 2017 I ran my first downhill marathon. Just an hour out from the glowing Las Vegas Strip you will find cottages and two lane roads up Kyle Canyon, this is Mount Charleston. Most runners gravitate towards downhill marathons with bright eyes and their heart set on a BQ time. While downhill racing tends to give a runner a new PR, it’s not as easy on your body as you would think. When I registered for Mount Charleston, I wanted a vacation along with the experience of a downhill race. I knew I wasn’t ready for a BQ but a PR would be in my future. Run Revel is known for their downhill beautiful courses and quality race experience. They host a few races a year with half and full marathon distances. When you Run Revel, you know you are joining a strong group of runners that train hard and finish strong.

runrevel_03When I told Mav I registered for Mount Charleston, he jumped online and said, “you know this is going to be a Vegas vacation.” While there are hotels near the race finish line, you bus up to the start line from a parking lot in Summerlin. Since we drove to Las Vegas and had a car, staying on the strip was ideal for us. We drove up the day before the race, checked in and headed out to packet pick up. Once I had my bib, I was getting excited. Training for a downhill race included a lot of uphill runs, along with stretches, fuel prep, and IT roll outs. One thing that always makes me nervous while running is my knees, I can train, prepare, and supplement. However, I never know if they are going to act up. I knew if they were going to give me trouble, a downhill race would be when be when pain may show up. Instead of being scared, I prayed and figured if Mount Charleston was going to be my race then everything would go as planned. Las Vegas holds a lot of my favorite restaurants, so Mav and I had an early dinner and for the first time ever, I was able to get to bed by 8 PM with a 3 AM alarm.runrevel_04

Before I knew it 3 AM rolled around and I jumped out of bed, from that moment I started pre race hydration with nuun performance. I can’t eat before a race so nuun performance has been a game charger for me. It’s the right amount of carb and electrolytes to keep me hydrated and strong throughout my long runs. Mav drove me to the parking lot in Summerlin, I sat in the car for awhile until I braved the chilly windy weather and jumped in the bus line, which was headed to the marathon start line. While in line, everyone was ecstatic and excited. Talking about the previous years race, where they flew in from, and that BQ they were chasing. One women shared her story of chasing a BQ for 15 years, I admired her journey and wished her luck. I thought to myself, “this race is serious, it’s a make it or break it for a lot of runners.” Driving up, we passed the half marathon start line…a part of me thought, “can I change my mind now.”  Soon, we were at the start line which was a cute little cabin restaurant and lodge. While the race temperature at finish was a perfect 72 degrees. The start line reminded me of my fun chilly race in Florida this past January. You forget how chilly and windy it is the higher up the mountain you go. Knowing I would be running and warmed up soon, I just couldn’t wait until that blow horn went off.

runrevel_01Starting down the hill, it was really windy. I once again had a flashback to my first marathon and tried to keep a positive focus. The first couple of miles were steep and allowed me to gain momentum, this is were I kept a steady 8-8:30 min/miles. Hydration stations and port a potties were located just about every mile down the course. I kept to my plan of at least getting an ounce or two of water each stop, along with my honey stinger gels each hour of running. nuun performance keeps me hydrated for a good portion of the run, while the gels give me the amino acids my body needs. This course had so much to see and kept me mentally free. my focus on the scenery and the sounds of the outdoors kept me on pace. When I would set my eyes on the distance I could see the north side of the strip. Coming up on the half marathon start line, I was feeling good. This is where it started to warm up and I knew I was halfway to finish. Arriving at mile 18-20 during a marathon is tough, I always feel like I’m almost finished but the miles start to get longer and I need to stay head strong. This is also were the Mount Charleston course tends to flatten out. I started to feel my quads on fire. I knew if I wanted to PR, It was going to have to be on me and my training. With 5k to go, it really hit me. I wanted to walk but my legs weren’t ready to give up. I kept my focus on the signs of the spectators cheering the runners on. Since most of the course is closed off, it does give spectators a tough time to cheer on loved ones, unless they drive up or live along the course. I’m always for spectators towards the end of 26.2 miles!! Since my head was telling my body to slow down but the crowd was telling me to “finish strong.” Before I knew it I could see the finish line, approaching it took forever even though it was a quick minute. lol. I could see Mav to my right at the finish, this gave me the strength to push harder. Shortly after I finished I checked my time, which was better than the time I saw while crossing the finish line!! I finished in 4:09:45 for a 9:31/mile, a new PR for me!

Looking back at this marathon, I found myself in most of the miles. Run Revel exceeded my expectations, from a organized quality course to the quality of challenging runners. Once you run a downhill marathon, it’s tough to meet your running goals with any other course. This was my third marathon, and I plan to make a Run Revel event my fourth. If you are pursuing your dream of running Boston, I would advise to sign up for a downhill marathon. Run Revel shaved 17 mins off my previous marathon time!

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