Running Update + Shamrock'n Half Marathon

My last running update was in October 2013, right before the Urban Cow Half Marathon. I've made a lot of progress since then, so here's what I've been up to. Warning...it's a long post!

While I'm not a fast runner, my goal is always to do the best I can and hopefully PR (personal record). Going into a race I usually decide on a general time goal based on how training has been going, the race distance, weather, etc.

Urban Cow was no different, but I just wanted to PR. That was my only goal...it didn't matter if it was 5 seconds or 5 minutes. Since the race was a training run for the California International Marathon, Courtney and I decided to go with our training and run intervals.

My Mom and me before the race. See the cute cow shirt?

My mom was also running with us, but she had to go to the bathroom part way through the race and told us to continue on. We kept running and didn't see her until half a mile from the end. We turned around during a walk break, saw her, and took off! We couldn't let her beat us! Courtney and my Mom are very competitive when it comes to times and who is faster...it's pretty funny.

We ended up besting our last and fastest half marathon time by a little over 7 minutes. 7:22 to be exact. We finished in 2:37:07 which is about a 12:00/mile pace. I was very happy with the run and our time.

After the race with our cowbell medals!

My Nike+ app data [a little bit off from the official data]

After Urban Cow we decided to focus on training for the CIM rather than running more races. I wasn't as dedicated to the midweeks as I should've been but I generally felt fine during the Saturday/long workouts.

As the CIM approached I was SCARED. Our training peaked at 20 miles, which I thought should have been more for my own comfort level, but hey, what do I know? To add to my anxiety, the weather forecast was below freezing. If you know me, you know I hate being cold.

One of the best parts of race prep was the expo and packet pick-up. We went on Friday, two days before the race. There were tons of samples to try. I ended up getting some Nuun and an extra CIM pullover. If I'm going to run a marathon, I'm gonna wear that baby all the time!

After the expo, my mom, Courtney, and I went to a local pasta place to carb load with our running group. It was a good chance to talk to the repeaters about strategy.

Me, my mom, and Courtney at the race expo. 

On Saturday, we went out to dinner at Buca di Beppo with our families. My mom surprised me by flying my brother home from school to come watch us run.

One of the great things about our running group is that they organized four extra aid stations along the course for the group. We were able to pack drop bags for each aid station. It was nice to have familiar and loved goodies during the race. I packed Chocolate Outrage Gu's, Nuun tablets, Pringles, pretzels, and mini Clif bars. I wasn't planning on eating everything, but I didn't know what I'd feel like during the race and what I'd want.

As expected race day was cold. We were up at 4 AM to catch the bus to the start line. We tried to stay warm on the bus, but there was no escaping the cold. If I remember correctly I think it was 25F when the race started. I'm from California, we aren't used to that!

I wore my favorite Old Navy crops, a comfy race shirt, a light pull over, an ear warmer, and two pairs of gloves. I wore a fleece on the bus and decided not to leave it in a drop bag (to be transported to the start line) and wear it during the race. I'm so glad I did! I wore it until mile 8 when we saw Dan. He had a sign for us and was able to take the extra clothing we didn't need anymore.

My mom carried M's throw away west from the thrift store because she thought it was to nice to leave behind, haha.

My mom, Me, Courtney, M, and H at the start line.

The first half felt great although it was cold. We stuck to our intervals, although we had to walk through all the aid stations because the spilled water from runners throwing their cups froze and made the ground extremely slick. I started to feel it after the half way mark. We saw Courtney's dad at about mile 14 and he ran with us for about a quarter mile. Then H's parents met us at mile 16ish and again at 19ish. It's REALLY nice to have people come out and cheer you on.

From 16 to 18, I was struggling with some digestive issues with no bathroom in sight. Running with poo cramps is no run. I finally found a bathroom, used it, and felt instantly relieved. Mile 20 is where it started getting hard. That's where they had set up 'The Wall' and a huge party. My dad and brother were waiting a little after mile 20, but Dan missed us because he went to the car to bring my mom a burrito. My brother ran with us for about a quarter of a mile till we saw Courtney's mom. Once we got past mile 20, the farthest we had ever run, I knew we were close. Things were decent until mile 22, where it got REALLY hard. We stopped at the last aid station and pushed on. We slowed down a lot at the end. I'm not sure what it was. I know I could have fueled and trained better.

All five of us decided to stick together and cross the finish line at the same time. We finished in 5:45:50 (13:11/mile pace), which was slower than we wanted, but finishing your first marathon is an achievement no matter the time. We set out for a 5:30, but I'm just glad we finished before the cutoff time of 6 hours. My Dad and brother, Dan, and Courtney's Dad were there to see us cross.

As soon as we finished I was cold. Those foil like blankets they give you are not warm at all. I was tired and mentally exhausted. I went to get some post-race food, but Whole Foods had run out of vegan soup and the bread wasn't vegan. The only thing I was able to eat was a banana. I was pissed.

We ended up heading to our favorite Chinese restaurant and eating some lunch. It was hard to eat, but food is good after running. We went to my mom's house to shower and take my brother to the airport.

I was definitely in pain...just normal muscle aches and soreness. I was dead set against joining the ultra team to run a 50 mile race. I had just suffered through 26.2 miles of cold and pain.

Guess what though? The pain went away and I wanted to run again. So I joined the ultra team. I took a break, longer than I expected, and ran maybe once during December. I was a little worried about that with our first ultra trail run on January 4th, the day after I got back from Disneyland. It ended up being easier than I thought and a lot of fun.

Since then I've gotten up extra early on Sundays to drive to crazy far-away places to trail run. It's been hard and I've struggled a lot, but it's been a very good experience. I've gotten stronger thanks to stair workouts and gained more muscle. I'm still extremely tired when I finish and need to take a nap, but I'm working hard! I still wouldn't say I enjoy running, but I feel so accomplished when I finish.

The first big 'test' was running a marathon on the trail. There was no race day goodies and hype, just a training run. I felt really good during and was happy with my time of 7ish hours. The next hurdle was a 50K race. Way Too Cool was a training run for our group, but unfortunately we didn't sign up in time, so we had to run the course with a few others that didn't get in or chose not to sign up. I felt pretty good during the run, but my mom and Courtney were struggling with injuries so we took it slow. We took a couple of wrong turns on the trail and ended up running 32.5 miles. I think it took us about 9 hours, but my watch died so I'm not completely sure. We are capable of a faster time, but we dilly dallied at the aid stations that a few runners from our group had set up...they were serious life savers.

To be honest, after the Way Too Cool run I was scared of the 50 miles and the 14 hour time limit. I'm still anxious, but Courtney has promised to make sure I finish in the time limit and get a jacket. We are tapering now, so I better be ready!

I've been so focused on trail running that I haven't signed up for many road races. I did sign up for the Shamrock'n Half Marathon before joining ultra, but was unsure if I should miss a 20 mile trail run to run a 13.1 mile road race. Courtney really wanted to run Shamrock'n to 'avenge' the fact that she fainted 10 feet from the finish line last year. I have to admit that she came up with a good solution. We'd run the 20 miles on Saturday, instead of the 4 on the schedule, and the half marathon on Sunday instead of the 20 miles.

I now understand why we start so early...it gets hot out there. I carry a 70oz pack and I was super low on water at mile 8 so we had to turn around early. We found a clean water fountain at the horse stables and I got to fill up with cold water. We made up the missed mileage at the end by turning around and heading back out, which is really tough mentally. Our pace ended up being around 16:30/mile, which is slower than what we should be doing, but when we turned around it was 17:18/mile. Plus with the heat I didn't want to push too hard.

I told Courtney that if I ran 20 miles, we would stop at Dutch Bros. for a soy chai. That kept me going. I got my Dutch Brothers and sucked that thing down in less than five minutes. I have to admit though that the highlight of the trip was petting a friendly horse, 'Tux', on the trail and then seeing him again and recognizing him and his rider! When I got home my legs were a little tired but not sore. I was pretty impressed. 

The next day (today), was Shamrock'n. Because we're crazy we still wanted to PR and run a 2:30 half marathon. With intervals we needed to run an 11:00/mile for an 11:30/mile average with walk breaks. We still wanted to run intervals and decided on 8 minutes running, 1 minute walking. The morning of my glutes and hip flexors were sore, so I wasn't sure how our time goals would pan out.

We were supposed to start in wave 3, but we got stuck with wave 4 and had to start 15 minutes later. When we finally crossed the start line we were off! Normally we start a little fast to get around people and find some space. The only difference this time was that we kept going. At mile 2.75 I noticed that we were running about a 9:35/mile pace. Once I did the math and figured out that with that pace we could beat my mom's first and best half marathon time of 2:18, I told Courtney that if we didn't skip walk breaks I could keep up the pace. It was on!

I took a bathroom break a little after mile 7 and struggled the most from mile 10 to 11, but once I saw the mile 12 marker it got easier. About .6 from the finish line I switched my watch to the elapsed time function and pushed it. We made it onto the field and started sprinting. We finished at about 3:00 on the official clock, but since we started 45ish minutes after the official start, we finished in 2:14.49! I'll save you the math...that's a 23 minute PR from Urban Cow and we beat my mom!

Post-finish best friend picture!

Of course I had to post on the ultra page...
Ultra training has paid off. After running 20 miles yesterday and on our 6th try Courtney Chinn and I finally beat my mom's half marathon time of 2:18 and PR'd by 23 minutes with a 2:14:50 (unofficial).

[My official time is 2:14.49 and Courtney's is 2:14.50, so I have the fastest half marathon time now. He he he!]

Here's what my mom had to say... Hello people...I'm twice her age and I had only been running 8 weeks! Chinner, pick on someone your own age. It's on!!!!

And my own page...
Today was a huuuuge running milestone for me, so sorry in advance for tooting my own horn. First, I finally beat my mom's best half marathon time. It took 6 tries. Haha. Second I PR'd by over 23 minutes with a time of 2:14.49. This was all after 20 trail miles yesterday. Thanks for pushing me Courtney Chinn!


I feel like all the ultra training is paying off, especially in my confidence. I didn't feel like there was any pressure today so I was able to push and not play it safe. Look what happened! I'm so proud of our time and our run today.

Here's to finishing the 50 mile race!


  1. You love running, you just don't know it yet ;)
    Once AR50 is over, you'll be so sad that you don't have scheduled runs anymore, he he.

    1. You're right, even though it's hard to see now. Haha. Ummm we've already signed up for another two races with a possible third! Oops!