Revel Canyon City Marathon Recap

My second 26.2 was amazing!!  It went exactly how I expected the first marathon should have gone.  When I ran my first marathon, the LA Marathon in March of this year, it was 100 degrees and the heat destroyed me.  I was not a happy runner that day.  This beautiful fall day in November in Canyon City, aka Azusa, I was a very happy runner!  I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this marathon and I almost backed out and switched to the half because I just didn’t train properly.  I never got in a longer training run than 16 miles so I was worried about feeling the distance after those 16 miles.  Truthfully, I did feel the distance, and after 16 miles it really got tough, but it wasn’t too much to handle and I pushed through.

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The beginning of the day was not my favorite.  We had to be shuttled up the canyon by buses, and the last bus left at 5am, which meant I had to wake up at 3am, get out the door by 4am, and get on the bus at 4:30am.  I have a big fear of driving on windy roads in the mountains.  This fear was heightened by being on a big school bus in the dark.  I was freaking out on the bus!  I kept thinking, “yup, I would much rather run down this mountain than get back on the bus!” Lol!!  Once we arrived, it was beautiful out as the sun was rising over the mountain tops but it was freezing cold!  It had to be 30 degrees or under.  Revel is pretty amazing for giving us throw away blankets and gloves, they were so needed!  I huddled up with my blanket, gloves and Cliff Bar and waited an hour for the race to begin.  What I noticed right away was that there weren’t thousands of people crowding in.  There were a lot of people, probably about 800, but not nearly as many people that are at most races.  In fact, I’ve never done a race with this few people.  I LOVED this the most!  One of my least favorite things about races is weaving through a sea of people, especially when people stop dead in their tracks while running without looking to see if someone is quickly approaching behind them.  When I ran the LA Marathon I felt crowded the entire race, there was no escaping the crowd.  The only time I felt the crowd at Revel Canyon City was as we went through the start line together.  Right after the start line everyone evened out and there was plenty of space to cruise at whatever speed you needed to.  I started off with the 4:25 pacers because I thought that 4:30 would be a great goal time for me.  As we started heading downhill though, I found it harder to slow my pace than to just let myself go, so I did just that and let myself go at a comfortable speed.

So, the problem with being in the mountains is that there is no cell service, and no gps service.  Which you know means that my Garmin didn’t work correctly.  My Garmin lost connection a few times in the beginning so I had no clue what my speed actually was.  I knew I was going faster than I normally do but I thought that the first 13 miles were at about a 9 min/mile pace.  I flew through the first 16 miles with no problem at all.  It was gorgeous, and it was easy to go fast.  Mile 16 was the first really long, steep hill.  I did not expect this hill, and it was not welcomed at all.  I felt my legs burn as I headed up that hill and I started feeling myself slowing way down.  I had caught up to the 3:45 pacers and they flew up the hill and out of my sight… I was bummed but I knew that I couldn’t keep up for the rest of the 10 miles we had to go, I needed to slow down!

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Miles 16-22 were lots of rolling hills and it was pretty brutal.  I was feeling tired but not tired enough to stop running.  The volunteers at Revel were so amazing with plenty of water, Gatorade, and GU to get us fueled and through those hills.  As we approached mile 23 we were running into the city and the road flattened out.  It was so nice to be out of the rolling hills and on flat ground.  I remember feeling like I wanted to die on mile 23 during my first marathon, but today at Revel I felt strong and even though I was tired I knew this was something that I could do and could finish strong.  The very last mile was so welcomed and as I came around the corner toward the finish line I kicked into a sprint and put everything I had into crossing that finish line!

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I was praying for the clock at the finish line to show under 4:30, or right at 4:30 but as I approached I could see 4:33.  I was proud and so happy for a huge PR over my first marathon time.  It was tough to let so many pacers pass me in the last 10 miles.  Once the 4:00 pacer passed I thought to myself that I just needed to stay with the 4:20 people, and I actually don’t remember even seeing them pass so that was a bummer.  I really just wanted to finish this marathon feeling strong and happy, and I did!  My husband, sons and my mom were there to hug and cry with at the finish line and that was the best icing on the cake!  That’s truly one of the reasons I sprinted so fast to the finish line, I couldn’t wait to see their faces!!  The view couldn’t have been better, the organization was wonderful, and the medal is incredible.  I had signed my husband up to get text alerts throughout the race.  So when I checked his phone after the race I was blown away to see my half marathon time was 1:51 at an 8:28/mile pace.  A huge Half Marathon PR for me!!  I was so excited!  Revel Canyon City is a race that I will always want to come back to, and I would love to do the Revel races in Colorado and Utah some day soon.  This was without a doubt my favorite race to date!

Thanks to my hubby for the finish photo!!  And thank you Revel for giving free photos!


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Long Beach Half Marathon Recap

The Long Beach Half has been a race I wanted to run for the last couple of years, and it always worked out that I was working on the day it took place.  This year wasn’t any different, in fact I worked back-to-back 8 hour weddings (I’m a wedding photographer for new readers 😉 on Friday and Saturday.  When I registered for Long Beach I had a wedding scheduled for Sunday also but unfortunately it was cancelled a few months ago.  I don’t love running after weddings because I’m usually exhausted from working but this was my last race of the Beach Cities Challenge and I wanted that sea shell medal, so…. I decided to do it no matter what.  I was training for speed for the last few months and my goal was a sub 2:00 for this race.  I woke up Sunday morning at 4am, with only 4 hours of sleep.  With heat warnings all week the half marathoners were allowed to start an hour and a half early with the full marathoners.  I’m not a big fan of running in the heat so I opted for less sleep and cooler temps and started early at 6:30.  Was I exhausted?  Yes!!  Did my feet hurt from working?  Oh yes!!  But my heart was in the right place, strong and happy, and I was going to give today all I had.  My runner friend Iselda and I headed out to Long Beach and parked with only 10 minutes to go till the start time.  We quickly used the palace of potties (aka the row of porta-potties).  Which, by the way, I never thought I would ever get excited about porta-potties until I became a runner but sometimes they truly are my favorite sight!  We hopped into the starting coral and within a minute we were crossing the start line.  I immediately realized that the decision to start early before the sun rose was the best decision I could have made.  It was HOT and humid!  I started sweating with the first step across the line and the sweat didn’t stop pouring the entire race.  I was feeling great otherwise, and started with a good 9 minute per mile pace.  I love the energy of races and the thrill of passing people, especially the guys (sorry guys, but GIRL POWER)!  By miles 3-5 I was averaging 8-9 minute miles and the sun started coming up along the shore line behind the Queen Mary.  These were my favorite miles because it was just gorgeous and my energy level was great!  Once that sun was above me after mile 7 the heat just sucked the energy right out of me.  My right foot started hurting, which never happens to me, and I really would have loved to pause for a porta-potty break.  My pace slowed way down after mile 7 and once I realized I wasn’t going to hit my goal time my spirits went way down.  Realizing that you’ve been defeated is not a good feeling!  The last few miles were tough but I kept one foot in front of the other and kept going.  Even though I wasn’t going to hit my goal I was still going finish this race strong!  The last .2 of the race were downhill and I sprinted to that finish line and that part felt amazing!  Crossing that finish line, no matter what your time is, is an amazing feeling!  Whether you run, walk or crawl through that line you are still doing something that not many people will ever do.  I was proud to finish and proud to complete the Beach Cities Challenge and it was a great course.  I will absolutely do it again!



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My favorite pre-workout fuel

There has never been a better way for me to get a boost of energy in my life than Ningxia Nitro.  This stuff is incredible!!  I’m not even kidding you, and I now buy this stuff in cases so I never have to be without it!  I am not a caffeine drinker, in fact it makes me very sick to drink any caffeine so when I found Ningxia Nitro I wanted to do cartwheels (if I could actually do cartwheels I would have done them)!!  NingXia Nitro combines 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils with naturally powerful ingredients to clear the mind and enhance mental fitness, while also providing a boost of energy and daily pick-me-up when needed.   I run faster, have a much clearer mind especially in the morning, and the energy carries me throughout the entire day.  Anytime I run out and am forced to run without my Nitro I perform with so much less energy.  Please don’t waste your health away with energy drinks, and give this a try!  You will thank me!!



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Beach Cities Challenge

This year I completed two of my favorite Half Marathons yet!  The Surf City Half Marathon and the OC Half Marathon.

Surf City was so completely gorgeous and always falls on Super Bowl Sunday, so you get the satisfaction of knowing you can eat pretty much anything you want during the big game.  😉  I did this race alone and I really was able to take in all my surroundings.  Most of the view is the ocean and it was so sunny that the ocean glistened.  It was perfect and I did eat everything I wanted afterward, including a burger, fries and shake at Ruby’s down the road.  My favorite post race meal includes burgers!!


The OC Half was beautiful as well.  It was overcast and the perfect temperature for running, in the mid 60’s.  Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling myself during this race as I had just been in the hospital about two weeks prior with a kidney infection.  This was no joke and had me bed ridden for two weeks so I had no good training runs and I really probably shouldn’t have been running, but I didn’t want to miss this race.  I took this one very slow and easy not worrying about time and just getting through without any pain.  I was surprised that I felt pretty good for most of the race and I probably could have went a little faster than I did but I was just so worried about my recovery from being sick.  My two friends who I ran with PR’d and I was so happy for them!!  I’m looking forward to crushing the next Half and getting a new PR!  Its hard to go backwards, no matter what the reason is.


From the day I signed up for the Surf City Half, I have wanted to complete the Beach Cities Challenge!  That is one of the biggest reasons why I did not want to give up racing the OC Half.  I just signed up for the last race of the challenge which is the Long Beach Half Marathon and I cannot wait!  I am trying to get my time to 2 hours or under for that race, and I think its definitely doable!  Can’t wait to see you soon Long Beach!!  This is the medal you get for completing all three races in a row, and it is super pretty!  LOVE that BLING!!  <3

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My favorite running products

There are three necessities that I have to have while running!  Not only three things overall, but three that I truly cannot live without and that have proven to be so freaking awesome!!

First, is my Supcase Armband for my iPhone 6.  I’ve used tons of armbands and so many of them would slip off my arm, get all gross and sweaty, or my phone would get stuck and I couldn’t press anything on it because it was under plastic.  Once I found the Supcase armband I fell in love!  I bought mine on Amazon here.


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Second, is my Garmin Vivoactive.  I looked long and hard for the right watch and I knew I wanted Garmin, but which one to choose was a little more difficult.  I wanted something that looked sleek and pretty, I also wanted something that was waterproof which this one is (yay) and it can track lap swimming.  I love being able to see my pace on my wrist and that it vibrates to let me know when I’ve reached a goal and hit each mile.  I bought mine on Amazon, here.


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Last but definitely not least is my handheld water bottle.  I never run without water.  I don’t understand how some people can but I have to constantly stay hydrated.  I also really don’t like waist bands, they bother me and I like to feel weightless when running.  There is also a little zipper pouch on the bottle where I keep my key and my pepper spray (safety first).  🙂  I have a few different bottles but I love the Amphipod Hydrafoam Handheld Bottle, found on Amazon, here.


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Running buddies!

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t always like to run with other people.  Most of the time I like my running time to be my “me time” and I like to zone out with my music and just go.  But, I really do love running with friends too!  Here are my reasons why running with a buddy can help you be a better runner:

1. Run with friends who are faster than you and can push you!  Sometimes when you run alone its easy to shorten your run, or run slower, or take a walk break… but when you have someone else with you, it forces you to perform at your best.

2. If you’re an early morning runner it is always better to run with others if its still dark out.  I always believe in safety first!  🙂

3. Running with friends can break up monotony.  If you’re stuck in a rut, ask your friends to run with you in a different area.  Also, sometimes its fun to talk while you’re running and can make an hour feel like 15 minutes.

4. Races are always fun with buddies because you can cheer each other on!  You don’t always have to stick together and run the same pace to know that you’re there for each other.

5. You always have someone to relate to.  You never want to feel alone in the hours of training, blisters on your feet, toenails falling off, needs to eat a thousand carbs, and all the joy and excitement!!


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Rise and Run!

One of my favorite times of the day to run is early in the morning!  I love starting my day right and having the whole rest of the day free to do other things I need to do, or to do other workouts like swimming, biking, weight training…. Here are some tips for those not-so-early risers to get up and run!

1. Go to bed early!  See my Dream Cream recipe if this is something that is hard for you.  If I’m getting up before 6am I have to go to sleep before 10pm.

2. Set a few alarms just in case you snooze the first one.  I set three within 10 minutes of each other.

3. Wake up at least 30 minutes before you are set to go for your run.  Hydrate, eat a little something and stretch before heading out.

4. Plan to run with a friend.  This will keep you accountable so you won’t skip out on your morning run.  It is also so safer if you’re running before the sun comes up to have a friend with you.

5. Lay out your clothes, shoes, headphones, Garmin, and anything else you need in the morning the night before.

6. Make a great playlist and get out and go!  There is nothing that will charge up your day like good music and a great run!



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My first Marathon! The LA Marathon 2015

When I moved to Southern California in 2003 I drove past an advertisement for the LA Marathon and I thought to myself, “one day I will do that!”  I wasn’t a runner then, and I really had no idea how difficult it would be to actually run 26.2 miles.  After becoming a runner and finishing my first Half Marathon in 2013 I said to myself and my friends who I had been running with, “I will never, ever, ever do a full marathon!”  Well…. that lasted about a day because once I recovered from the first Half, I was on to looking for the next race… because that’s what we runners do, right?!  Its addicting and its what keeps us going, all these races!  I started planning to just get my time better at Half Marathons, which I did, and then I began training for my first marathon, the LA Marathon!  I was soooo excited for this race!  I had anticipated so much emotion and accomplishment.  The training alone was emotional and after every long run I felt huge accomplishment.  I remember some of those long runs I would feel like fainting, puking, crying and screaming.  But, I actually only screamed (and groaned), a lot!  But I made it through the training!  Wooo Hoo!!  I should have received a medal just for that!

Finally race week was upon us!  My friend and I would be doing this race for the first time together.  We had trained mostly together too, and did a lot of races leading up to this one together.  She and I decided it would be smart to drive the course to get an idea of what we were dealing with.  That was a very bad idea, because not only is LA traffic incredibly slow and it took us hours to drive the course, but it also scared the daylights out of me.  I was able to sense how far 26.2 miles really is!  For some reason, driving it makes it feel so much farther than running it does.  We did this two days before the race, right after packet pick up.  The day before the race I photographed a wedding until 7pm and then went to check into the hotel, get some dinner (lots of carbs) and go to sleep.  I stayed with my husband and two of our kids in the Sheraton Hotel which had a shuttle that took us right to the starting line and Dodger Stadium.  The best decision for the morning was that shuttle because it was great not dealing with traffic!  🙂

Getting to that starting line and lining up with everyone is such an amazing feeling!  You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever raced!  Its such a mixture of fear, excitement and adrenaline.  There’s nothing quite like it!

Once we were off we held a good 10 minute mile pace and the first six miles were so much fun running through LA!  I loved every second!!  After mile 8 on Sunset strip we had to use the restroom (lady time)…. this was a HUGE mistake.  We trained with no stops (or very few stops) and stopping to use the restroom this early made it very hard to gain momentum again.  We were also dealing with record breaking high temperatures and many people were actually passing out on the course.  The Asics LA Marathon people took amazing care of everyone though with plenty of water, gatorade, and even fire trucks hosing us down as we ran.  We were able to gain a pretty good pace again until mile 17, which was when the heat really started to get to me.  My head was throbbing, my legs were tight and I just couldn’t get enough water.  I had to stop again to stretch and starting back up again was really slow.

The last 6 miles of the race was very slow for me and I was very discouraged and angry at myself but I didn’t give up and I completed the marathon at 5:45.  I was super bummed with that time because my goal time was 4 hours and 30 minutes.  I know that there was a lot of factors that made my time slow, but it was still very disappointing.

I’m excited to run this marathon again and kill that time!  I will be better prepared and will not be stopping for the restroom no matter what.  All in all, I was very happy to complete my first marathon.  Even though my time wasn’t what I wanted I know that its still something that most people haven’t done and I am very proud of myself for completing!  My family was waiting for me after the finish line, unfortunately they couldn’t come right to the line for security purposes.  When I saw my husband, kids and my mother in law I burst into tears.  My kids made the cutest posters!  I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful support system.  🙂




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