OC Half Marathon 2017 Recap

WHAT A RACE! I cannot believe I completed my 3rd OC Half Marathon, my 2nd as an ambassador. Crossing the finish line on Sunday. I was beyond thrilled to be crossing. The race started very rough but I really pushed myself to get a PR of 4 minutes. My training for the OC Half was not as much as wanted but of course incorporated plenty of speed work thanks to Orangetheory.

We parked at the start line as we have found over the years, it works the best for us (meaning I HATE waking up early). As we were getting our gear ready it started to not only pour, it started hailing. We were in shock because just days ago we had 90 degree weather as we sat by the pool. We tried to wait it out until we had 15 minutes to go and needed to get moving. The rain was a slow drizzle as we made our way to the start line. As we were waiting in lines at the porta potty, it started pouring. Not gonna lie, I may have stayed in the porta potty longer than needed just to avoid the rain. We got stuck in one of the last corrals and ended up starting about 15 minutes after the first wave.

The first few miles were crowded but I stayed a steady pace for the first few miles. At miles 2ish, you turn the street and hit the mansions alongside the beach. It is my favorite part of the race and the time when it started pouring again. I was trying to run around puddles until I got splashed by someone else so I decided to embrace the rain. My clothes were soaked, my shoes were heavy filled with water but around miles 4 I realized that despite the rain, my body felt good. At miles 6, I realized my pace was still very steady and no aches or pains had started yet. Around miles 5 is usually where my back or knee starts to hurt so I enjoyed the fact that I was not hurting just yet. By miles 7, the thought of a PR really started to pop into my head. Thankfully by this time, the rain has stopped as well. Between miles 8 and 10, I just kept telling myself a PR was in site. The mantra that kept me going through was “You are going to hurt after either way, you might as well hurt with a PR.” After Ragnar (maybe one day I will get to that recap), the hill at mile 11 seemed like nothing. It even seemed smaller than I remember. By mile 11, I was start to ache but being that close to the finish line, I put on my favorite songs and pushed myself to the finish line. I crossed the finish line 4 minutes faster than my PR and 14 minutes faster than last year.

At the finish line, I got my favorite – chocolate milk, along with the other snacks before taking a few pictures. I met up with the hubby and some Orangetheory friends. We did not stay too long after the race because we were wet and just wanted to get back to our car to change into dry clothes. I really felt this race was even more supported than last year. As usual, it ran flawlessly. From sign up to race pickup and actual racing, it just ran perfectly.

As I crossed the finish line, I was filled with such amazement at what my body continues to accomplish. This race reminded me why I run, sign up races and genuinely like running. It has made me excited to do more races in the next few months. For now, I am going to bask in my PR and enjoy our vacation to Puerto Vallarta this weekend!

Thank you to the OC Marathon for having me as an ambasssador for another year, to the race coordinators and the wonderful volunteers! 

Ragnar Checklist

This weekend will be my second Ragnar So Cal race and as the day gets closer, I am getting more excited! We have more than half of our team reuniting from our first Ragnar. I am excited for not only the fun weekend but also a weekend getaway once we finish and most importantly a chance to redeem myself from the last Ragnar. Our team met on Friday to go over the last minute logistics. While I was a coach last time for our team, it was extremely easy to just be a participant this year. There has not been as much work which has led me to being excited for the race instead of stressed out.

Training and Running Lately

Before our meeting on Friday night, I headed out for an easy run just to move a little on my rest day. I did two miles a little slower than my race pace and my pace felt very comfortable! It is amazing what training and Orangetheory have done for my fitness in the past 6 months. For the race I am the first runner so my legs are: 2.30 miles (easy), 4.00 miles (easy) and 7.90 miles (very hard). I am so pumped for the first two legs because a flat road will allow me to really test my race pace. The last leg is going to really challenge me as a runner but I am excited for the challenge! My pace has increased, my legs have felt great and my recovery time has been faster.

Ragnar Relay So Cal Recap Part 3

Ragnar Checklist

These are the things I learned from my last race that are vital to have over the long weekend with no showers, lots of running and various weather. Our team agreed this year it would be best to individually handle our own food and drink for the weekend which means chocolate milk all weekend for me! :) Besides food and drink, these are the things each runner must have on them for Ragnar:

  • 3 sets of running clothes (1 for each leg)
  • 3 large ziplock bags for each outfit (great for storing those smelly clothes after)
  • Running shoes
  • Compression socks for your recovery
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Change of clothes for in between legs
  • Jacket for night (especially at the beach)
  • Baby / Body wipes
  • Sunblock
  • Car phone charger (be sure to check what your car uses for chargers)
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Personal toiletries- medicine, glasses, etc.
  • Extra toilet paper and towels
  • Deodorant (this is a must for obvious reasons)
  • Run gear: Earbuds, water bottle, watch tracker, etc.
  • Cash/ Credit Card/ DL
  • Pillow and/or blanket
  • First aid (bandaids, antibiotic cream, ice pack, etc.)

Good luck to all who are participating in Ragnar this weekend!!

Run Revel Recap

As I sit writing up this recap, I am sporting compression socks and KT Tape after having just taken some ibuprofen. On the same note, I am still riding the high of getting a half marathon PR at the Run Revel Canyon City Half Marathon! I went into this race with the goal to utilize the net loss on this course and finally get that new PR.

Revel Race Start

On Saturday morning we made our way to the race at 4:30am to be bused up to the start line. Boy was it cold at the start but the race provided blankets (wow did they work), beanies and throw away gloves. The sunrise from the start was beautiful as we made our way to the start line. I read from past runners that the race just starts without warning. Even despite my constant warnings to my husband to be ready to just start running, I was still shocked when someone at the start line shouted “we are going.” The first few miles I was expecting rolling hills so I told myself to take it easy for the first few miles. Although the first 4 miles had a lot of downhill, there was a net gain which I felt early on. But I stuck with telling myself to maintain slow and steady through the first 6 miles and evaluate how I feel after.

A Rough Finish

After miles 6 there was a net loss but still some notable climbing and where my shins starting feeling the rolling hills I had done. At this point, I was still on track to hit a PR with a few minutes to spare so until miles 10, my goal was to maintain a steady pace and leave myself at least 5 minutes to work with in that last 5K. Thank goodness I had that buffer because it saved me in the last 2 miles. At miles 11, I started hurting. I would alternate walking and running but at this point, everything started to hurt. My knees would hurt when I ran but my shins and feet hurt when walking. When I got to mile 12 I realized this was going to be a push to the last second. As I rounded the corner in the last mile, there was a small climb in front of me and I thought my PR was out the door. Thankfully, the hubby finished (he PR’d again this half) before me and told me that after the last small climb it was a downhill finish. I chugged (VERY very slowly) up the last climb and gave everything I had in the last .20 miles into the finish line. I have never run so fast and as I crossed that finish line, I am so happy I did because I PR’d by 3 seconds. Seconds are seconds and it was a PR no matter what.


Although tough at times, this definitely is one of my favorite races. It was very well organized, offered a beautiful course and heavily supported. The expo was very easy to get in and out (even though it was more like a packet pick-up with limited amount of vendors). In the bag received with my bib, I also go the cold weather items mentioned above which came in handy at the start line. There were aid stations about every 2 miles with water, Gatorade and some offered fuel. Although the mountains did not allow for spectators until the last 1 miles, the scenery more than made up for that. I stopped a few times to snap a picture because it was so gorgeous. Overall, this was one of the best races I have participated in and the new PR only made it better!

Tell me: Would you rather run downhill or uphill? I always thought I loved downhill but with my knees and shin problems, I would prefer uphill!

“Those are just excuses”

“I haven’t worked out in 4 days”

“My legs, arms, mouth, fill in the blank are sore”

“I am tired”

“It’s too late”

These are just a few of the statements my husband heard on our run last night. While some of them were true, half way through I started spouting off some of them to him. He simply said, “Those are just excuses.” And yes they were. He said that, I started running again and did not stop until we finished. Did I struggle? Yes. Was I tired and sore? Definitely. But did I finish? YES! I tried to use my excuses to justify not doing it when I was capable just standing in my own way.

In the first mile I started telling myself there was no way I would be able to do the half marathon (Run Revel) on Saturday if I was struggling already. My negative thoughts spiraled into thinking that I haven’t trained enough and I should back out of the race. Until my husband snapped me back (as he does 99.784715% of the time I act mildly crazy), I was letting my excuses lead my thinking because of one tough run. Sometimes we try and reason with ourselves by making excuses. What does that get you? Absolutely nothing. So the next time you feel the excuses starting (this applies to everything beyond fitness), stop and ask yourself – Are these just excuses? to stop the cycle and focus yourself back on track.

OC Marathon Coupon Code 

I am not in training mode for the OC Half Marathon yet but it will be here before you know it. The OC Half and Full Marathon 2017 prices increased on November 1st but if you missed the price increase, I have a coupon code to share with you today. You can get the same price before the price increase by using the coupon code below:

oc-half-marathon-coupon-code-2017

Tell me: What is your most used excuse? Mine is always “I am too tired”

I am an OC Ambassador.. again

Over the weekend, the husband and I ran a local 5K race. The race was rough. It was hot and it was significantly uphill but the post race high kicked in immediately after. It has been 5 months since I ran a race (the OC Half marathon) but this was the perfect start to my upcoming races. I have been doing consistent running at Orangetheory which made the sprint to the finish line yesterday feel just like an all out pace. Outside of Orangetheory I have been running at the gym and am excited that it is finally cooling down at night for some outdoor runs. In terms of races, I have a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to.

OC Marathon 2017

I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of the OC Ambassador team again for 2017. I don’t know yet if this will be the year I will do the full marathon but the half is a likely race. This will be my third year completing my favorite half marathon to date. This year they are adding the “OC Combo Crush” which is a challenge to complete the 5K on Saturday and the full or half marathon on Sunday. This lover of medals would love three medals for two races!! Be sure to sign up online and chose ‘Samantha Bruce’ under ambassadors.

OC Marathon Ambassador 2017

Run Revel Canyon City

Our next big race on the books is Run Revel in November. This is my first Run Revel and I am thrilled to be running with the husband. I have been ensuring that my training involves a significant amount of stretching my calves and KT Tape to prevent shin splints. Especially being that the race is downhill, I want to ensure my shins are kept in the best shape I can to prevent injury.

Ragnar So Cal 2017

Our So Cal Team from 2015 is getting back together. We entered in the lotto where I thought the chances were small that we would be picked but we were lucky to be picked. The team will be re-uniting in April and while I am not looking forward to a lack of shower for the weekend, I am looking forward to redeeming myself from the last race. The beach, spring weather and running 200 miles – it sounds so crazy but so exciting.

Happy Monday!

Friday Favorites : Running Gear

Most runners have a story about when they first started that ended up in blisters or chaffing. These stories have helped runners to learn the importance of a good pair of running shoes and/or moisture wicking clothes. While running is simply just about starting, as you continue to run you will value good quality items that help support your training and/or potentially racing. Over the years of running for fun or enduring the training for race, there are a few tried and true things that I have come to NEED while running. Today for Friday Favorites, I am sharing my Favorite Running Gear. Linking up with Heather (whose new move to NY is making me so excited for our trip to the Big Apple next week) and Katie. Share your Friday Favorites in the comments!

5

1) Energy / Gu Fuel – For the first race that I ran, it was definitely amateur hour. Refueling never crossed my mind and half way through the light went off in my head. There is a reason that runners have their go to race fuel, never straying without thoroughly testing out a new fuel before committing. Gu Fuel Gel is my go-to for energy during a race. I take one before the start of a race and at least one, sometimes two during. I have tried the chomps and I just cannot get over the texture and having to chew while running. My favorite flavors are salted caramel and salted watermelon!!

2) Bic Bands – I have spent tons of money when first running on headbands that no slip or sports headbands for the active girl. NONE of them have worked. Then at my first race expo, I walked past the Bic Bands booth, enticed by the glitter headbands and I have been hooked ever since. These bad boys are the real deal. I have worn them through hours of classes, running and work without having to even adjust once. These are a staple in my workout and real life wardrobe. I hate having hair in my face and these beauties keep my hair in place forever!! I cannot recommend them enough (that’s coming from someone who might have upwards of 20 glitter colors!)

img_4343

3) KT Tape – This is the newest addition to my favorite running gear. KT Tape is used on muscles, ligaments, and tendons and provides lightweight, external support. When my knee was giving me problems, I finally broke down, bought a roll and it looks like this weekend I will already need to get more. This has helped my knee immensely before, during and after the half marathon. I have worn it for days on end and noticed a huge improvement in my recovery. I have been sharing it with others that at the family’s birthday celebration last week I ended up taping my brother and dad. When I texted my brother this week, he said his shoulder has already felt better.

KT_Cotton_BlueNoBG_TapeOnly

4) Compression SocksPro Compression socks are the best! I have been rotating my socks out each day. Compression socks help speed recovery as well as increase blood flow so they are the perfect addition during training and after a race. Every single race I immediately change into compression socks and don’t take them off for 24 hours. With my IT band problems, compression socks have been my go to when sleeping. Plus compression socks are great beyond workouts. A pair is making its way into my suitcase for our long flight to Greece!

5) Running Watch / Garmin Forerunner 220 – I started my running on a treadmill but by the time fall rolled around I wanted to start running outside. I got my first Garmin as a gift and have never looked back. I love the ease of using it and have really learned to pace my runs using a watch. I think a running watch has helped me really fine tune my running. I love that the watch syncs with the app to have comparisons of my runs on my phone. While running naked (like I was forced to when I packed my watch away and couldn’t find it) can be freeing, I was thrilled to have my watch back during my half training.

IMG_3395

Tell me: What is your favorite running gear?

Missed past Friday Favorites? Check our the lifestyle page for more!

OC Half Marathon 2016 Recap

Where do I begin? First and foremost, the OC Half Marathon is truly one of the prettiest courses. When I figured out that I wasn’t going to get a PR, I sent a txt to my mom saying I would at least enjoy a scenic run. Scenic it was. I love every single part of the race from the start at Fashion Island to crossing that finish line at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds. As mentioned on Monday, the expo was great. The expo got me even more excited for race weekend. The expo is like a first day of school to me. I get little butterflies, just want to lay my outfit out and hurry to bed to get to the morning.

   

The first two miles went by quickly. I enjoyed hitting Pacific Coast Highway and running along side the beach after mile 2. I ran the first 5K with the hubby who was just kicking butt and I felt my knee already tightening up. I told him to go on without me and kept my pace until the 10K. I love running through the residential and commercial areas of Newport Beach that the first 6 miles went by quick. Even slowing down a bit, I was still on track for a PR until mile 8. It went downhill (and definitely not literally) from that point. At mile 8, I felt like I was in slow motion as my knee gave out. Thank goodness, I didn’t fall hard as I got myself up and hobbled off to the side. From that point, I still thought I could meet my race goal. I walked to the next aid station, drank a lot of water and started jogging. A few minutes of jogging became a consistent half mile walk with a half mile jog. At this time, I hit the Newport Beach Bay which provides views of the bay, boats and beautiful homes. I took some pictures in my walking breaks and by mile 9, I knew my PR was gone, I expected positive splits and decided to enjoy the rest of the race. Especially knowing that hill in mile 11 was coming, I knew it wasn’t worth it to push myself. At mile 11, luckily there is a large aid station to help distract from the large hill coming. Unfortunately, last year my legs were ready for any hills thanks to Ragnar. This year, that hill was a beast. I jogged up the entire hill and slowed down once I reached the top but I did it! The last two miles went quickly as there were more supporters leading up to the finish line.

I can say that for the first time in a race, I stopped at every single aid station. Besides my knee, my body felt great. Usually negative self talk will creep in when I see my goal is not obtainable but I knew I would finish. I was proud of everything my body had gotten through even if my time was a little slower than planned. It wasn’t my worst race, it wasn’t my best race. I finished 10 minutes past my half marathon last year but I crossed that finish line smiling with a fist pump!

 After crossing the finish line, I saw the hubby who had PR’d by over 15 minutes! I was so proud of him, it made the finish line even better. I got my amazing medal, took a few pictures and headed to the VIP tent with the OC Marathon to rest my knee.

A special thank you to the OC Marathon supporters – the Ambassador team, the police officers, all of the support aid and those who signed up for the race through me! I look forward to this amazing race against next year. 

 

Weekly Workouts & Running Updates

A little late on a Wednesday but still a Wednesday nonetheless! I am getting more and more excited about the OC Marathon coming up in a few weeks. Running has continued to be a huge stress release during the week and something I crave throughout a rough day. The two things that are really helping with my running – I finally found my Garmin and I got new Asics!

IMG_3513

I shared on Instagram, that I got a new pair of GT2000 Asics a few weeks ago. After a couple of runs, I am so happy with these shoes. They feel great and haven’t given me a single problem (knock on wood because I do not need any issues). Funny thing about these shoes, I would not have been caught dead in them a few years back. For some reason, I have never liked extremely bright shoes. I have always preferred grey, black or white with a very small hint of color. I have noticed slowly my eyes getting just a little bit more color with each purchase. This time I just went for it. I saw these shoes, loved the mint and went they fit perfectly, I just had to have them!

IMG_3395

Another great find – my Garmin. That poor watch has been sitting in a box being unused. I am so happy to have finally found my beloved Garmin 220. I had misplaced it when moving and found it about two months ago. However, somehow the charger ended up in a completely different place. The worst part, I discovered it two months after the fact, in a box I walk by 10x a day. Go figure! I am just glad I have in while training and will be thrilled to have it during my race.

Weekly Workouts: Half Training

weekly-workouts

My half training this week was exactly as I wanted (and needed) it to be. With only Less than a month until the OC Half Marathon and let me tell you, I am super excited. While my mileage is about a week behind schedule, my pace on every run has been above par. So I am hoping the two even each other come May 1st. Per the usual, my strength training and cross training were consistent this week.

Wednesday – 1 hour cycle class

Thursday – 5 miles

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 1 hour cycle class followed by 2 miles run

Sunday – 1 hour cycle class and leg workout

Monday –  Two 1 hour cycle classes

Tuesday –  1 hour cycle class and 1 mile run

Wednesday –  5 miles

Check back tomorrow for a Travel Thursday post! 

Current Running Playlist

Only 2 months until the OC Half Marathon! Did you miss signing up for the OC Full or Half marathon before the price increase? No problem! Use the code “SAMANTHA10OFF” and reference my name (Samantha Bruce) to get $10 off! Sign up today and start running!

I have been so happy with the perfect weather we have been having in California. Although we have a little rain in the forecast, overall the weather has been ideal for running. My training has had some great and not so great days but hey, they can’t all be perfect. With the wedding and family obligations in the past, my main focus right now is my fitness. Of course I want to hit my “A” goal of finishing but I am really training to accomplish my “B” goal of getting a half marathon PR. My back issues have crept back but I am trying to stay on top of my pain management with visits to the chiropractor and acupuncturist. Luckily, (as always) music has helped me get through my workouts lately!

I have mentioned this many times before but if you looked at any of my playlists, I think the best word to describe them would be eclectic. My running playlist the last week has been no different. I like hitting shuffle and knowing that every song that comes on will pump me up! This playlist is a mix of today’s hits and a few throwbacks thrown in!
Running Playlist Planks and Planes
Tell me: What is one word you would use to describe your playlists?
Check out my other playlists on the Fitness page! 

Half Marathon Training Plans

Here we are inching closer to February which means we will be exactly 3 months from the OC Half & Full Marathon. I have fully committed to running the half marathon again this year. Every race I run is started with personal goals I try to achieve. I have adopted the ABC goals from Prairie Princess Runners.  Before a race you set an “A” goal (an achievable goal), a “B” goal (more of a stretch) and a “C” goal (which is pushing yourself and basically killing to get there). My “A” goal is always just to finish the race. My “B” and “C” goal usually have to do with a specific time I am trying to achieve.

My ABC Goals and Training Plan for the OC Half

My ABC Goals for the OC Half Marathon are simple and also dictate how my training plan is set up:

“A” Goal: To finish the race whether walking, crawling or running 

“B” Goal: To beat my PR on the half marathon  

“C” Goal: To run a sub 2:00 half marathon

I am most excited about the OC Half Marathon because it has been a while since I raced. Last year I really pushed my body hard. 4 half marathons and a Ragnar race in less than 8 months resulted in aggravating my back problems to their breaking point. Most of my races were completing my “A” goal of finishing which I always accomplished. I am so happy because my back while not completely healed is significantly better and ready to handle race season. The husband and I have been enjoying naked evening runs. Before your mind goes a place it shouldn’t this early in the morning, naked = running without any timer or watch. We simply just ran and it was refreshing. I wanted to get a few open runs under my belt before committing to my training plan. I firmly believe that you should pick a training plan that works for you and your schedule. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating something you cannot follow. I usually take a half marathon training plan before adding my own schedule of work and teaching to accommodate my running. I am using the SELF 12-Week Half Marathon Training Plan with the days switched to match my teaching schedule. If you are looking for a half marathon training plan, check out the links below for runners of all levels.

Half Marathon Training Plans

Half Marathon Training Plans For All Runners

12-Week Half Marathon Training Program

10-Week First Timer’s Half Marathon Training Plan

14-Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan

14-Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan

Hal-Higdon Training Plans

12-Week Beginner’s Half Marathon Training Plan

12 Week Cross Training Half Marathon Training Plan

20-Week Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan

14-Week Nike Half Marathon Training Plan

16-Week Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan

Tell me: Do you set goals before a race?