Category Archives: Half Marathons

PR’s–Yeah, They’re Nice

Yesterday my Dad and I ran Compete Green’s Half Marathon of the Harbors in Ventura. As you can already tell from the title, I PR’d. But I didn’t just PR. I kicked my previous 2:18 half marathon’s butt.

2:10:04 – 9:55 pace – heck.yes.

I cannot even begin to explain how good it felt to see that 2:10 on the clock when I crossed the finish line.

It felt even better than finding out Adam Levine is back on the market (for my single friends of course, Jas).

I’m still riding the runner’s high today and considering some bigger (maybe twice as big?) races in the near future.

I woke up at the lovely hour of 4AM to down a couple cups of coffee, eat my PB toast and watch “Unwrapped” – Easter Treats” where I learned the first Peep took 27 hours to make by hand.

Since my favorite cheerleader was sitting this one out (and sleeping in) I had to resort to a Myspace-era self portrait for race morning.


All set for #3 and rocking my SkinnyRunner shirt and white sparkle BIC Band

I really enjoyed this race. The course was flat and fast. I started out really strong and my legs felt nice and warmed up from last week’s race. I was shocked to look down and see I was hitting well below my 10-minute mile goal pace right off the bat.


The course was an out and back from Ventura Harbor to Channel Islands with great views of the ocean and million dollar beach homes. The first couple miles do pass by a sewage refinery so if you have a sensitive nose that could be a problem.

We hit the halfway point and turned back and that’s when I hit the wall. Not the mental runner’s wall, the actual physical wall of wind. Holy smokes was it windy. I literally felt like I was pushing through an air tunnel at some points. The last half of my splits definitely reflect the change in conditions:


I forgot to hit stop on my Garmin until a few seconds after I came through the finish so I wasn’t sure of my actual time until the results were posted today. But now it’s official:


Now the only problem is I’m going to have to set a new goal. Sub-2 half marathon? It could happen.

All in all, I would absolutely recommend the Half Marathon of the Harbors. It was definitely a small race (only about 500 runners), but it was well organized. They had water and Gatorade about every 2 miles and they handed out gels at the halfway point and again at about mile 9 or 10. The volunteers were great and although there wasn’t a ton of crowd support until the finish, all the volunteers and police made sure to cheer on the runners. Also, the yells of “Don’t Stop!” whenever people saw my shirt were super helpful. How could I be caught walking while wearing that? I couldn’t. Embarrassing.

If anyone is looking for a flat, fast and well-run small race then check out Compete Green! They have a ton of different events that sound really fun and they put in a lot of effort to make everything environmentally friendly – from using no paper goods to advertise to using plastic cups at the aid stations (that volunteers pick up and recycle after!) they really put on a great race that everyone can feel great about. Love that!

So here’s to finishing half #3! I’ve got the annual Gator Run 5k in a couple weeks followed by Ragnar SoCal in just under 3 weeks! It’s going to be an exciting month! I hope your April is off to just as a great of a start!


Filed under Half Marathons, Races, Running

Great Race of Agoura Pacific Half Marathon

Alternate Title: I’m Moving to Kansas so I can Live Where It’s Flat and Never Run Hills Again

I definitely seem to have a knack for picking hilly races. The Thousand Oaks Turkey Day Dash – hilly, the 4th of July 5k in Newbury Park – hilly, my first half marathon in Pomona – hilly. But yesterday’s half takes the cake. I don’t know why I didn’t think anything of it when I saw this:

But then again, being still “new” to the world of elevation charts, I didn’t realize how brutal that should have looked.

So the morning started early. Like, 5 AM early. After the Holiday Half I realized that my brain did not enjoy functioning without coffee and I think I had a migraine for 3 days following. So yesterday morning I got up and had a couple cups of coffee and an english muffin with peanut butter before heading out to Agoura Hills. Jason was kind enough to wake up before the sun to tag along as my valet/stuff holder/photographer/cheerleader.



The start line was super easy to get to and it began at Paramount Ranch, where they used to film a ton of old Western movies and shows like Dr. Quinn Medicine Women. It was so neat to see all those old buildings and they still use it as a movie set today!



Tired eyes. I also rocked my Black Sparkle Bic Band and loved it. It didn’t budge once.

The race wound through the roads of Malibu and Agoura Hills. We ran along Kanan Rd., which was awesome because I’ve spent years taking that road to the beach and seen many runners and cyclists and always thought “What crazy person would run/bike this!?”, but now I can annoy all my friends on our beach drives by telling them my race story every time.

We also ran along Mulholland, past some gorgeous houses, wineries, and Malibou Lake, which was gorgeous.

At about 2.86 miles we hit the beast-hill where I spent the entire .8 mile hill climb cursing the hill, cursing the person that set the course, cursing Malibu for having hill, cursing my legs for hating hills, etc. Luckily, that hill eventually ended and I flew back down with a 9-minute mile. I wish I had been able to keep a steady pace through the whole race but with that massive hill at the beginning and the many smaller ones that followed my splits were all over the place.

I saw J right at the end of the race toward the finish line and I kicked it as hard as I could to pass 5 women I’d been running alongside for most of the course.


I ended up finishing in 2:19:38 but according to my Garmin the course was 13.2 miles. I didn’t beat my first time of 2:18:00, but I am pretty happy considering that this course was much tougher than the Pomona course and I ran this one alone so I didn’t have my Dad to pace me.


Done with #2!

Next week’s half is in Ventura with an elevation change of 72 feet so I think that will be a better PR opportunity than the 1,221 ft. elevation gain of the Pacific Half Smile

The Great Race of Agoura has an awesome after party was well. I saw tons of vendors with food like pancakes and granola bars and fruit. J and I grabbed some drinks from the FRS Energy Drink booth because I was craving something tart (their Cherry Limeade is delicious) and then took off because he had to park my car a million miles away and *gasp* I didn’t feel like pancakes or any of the other sweet items available.

We swung by Trader Joes to get some ingredients for Eggs Benedict (and we also ran into the pet adoption next door where I fell in love with every puppy). When we got home, Mr. Gourmet Chef Extraordinaire whipped up this:


While I iced and refueled:


Overall, it was a fun race with a beautiful and scenic course and beyond perfect weather. I’m not going to lie though, I’m looking forward to kicking some half marathon butt on a flat course next weekend and I might start sticking to some flatter races going forward. My booty is SORE this morning!

Great Race of Agoura – Pacific Half Marathon: 2:19:38, 29th/55 age group


Filed under Half Marathons, Races

St. Pat’s Day, Race Swag and the Most Random Meal

Last weekend it rained. And I ran.


And my ponytail legitimately multiplied. I wish my hair had that much volume on a normal day… but without the frizz, sweat and flyaways.

I had to get in my last good run before this Saturday’s half marathon because I when I opened the fridge I realized that no running would be happening on St. Patrick’s Day.


I drank one of those Harps but it was kind of nasty. I also had two green Bud Lights at a local sports bar. One was free. I was with this guy so I don’t even know how that happened:


He had a little more beer than I did Winking smile

He also cooked a jammin’ corned beef while Jennifer and I whipped up the mashed potatoes and cabbage. It’s all about teamwork.


Jennifer and her husband Mat


Tiffany and Aaron – Tiff walked out of the sports bar with beads. I don’t how that happened either (FYI it’s a family style sports bar and children were there so I am totally kidding).

This week has been crazy busy. We went to see NEEDTOBREATHE at Club Nokia on Tuesday (amazeballs of course), Wednesday I got my hair trimmed, and today I went to the Great Race of Agoura expo to pick up my race packet for Saturday’s Pacific Half Marathon. The expo was surprisingly packed considering I went on my lunch hour. It also looked like a Real Housewives of Calabasas convention.

I know Taylor, I make me laugh too.

So I picked up my swag and checked out a couple of the booths, snagged some free bottle of FRS energy drinks and had to jet back to work pretty fast. Check out my loot:


The technical shirts are really cute and I LOVE the bag everything came in. I have one of those drawstring bags I got for free in college that I carry my gym clothes in and it’s definitely seen better days. This one is much bigger, thicker fabric and has the Great Race of Agoura logo embroidered on it. Welcome to your new home gym clothes.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the most random (yet totally delicious) meal of the week:


Clockwise from the top, we have homemade pizza with pepperoni and ricotta cheese, leftover mashed potatoes and corned beef and cabbage, and the best brussels sprouts (and my first successful cooking attempt) ever. All topped off with a delicious glass of pulpy orange juice. But really, it hit the spot. I think J and I are going to start these traditional “clear the fridge” nights because when you’re paying for all your own food it makes it hard to throw out anything. (Don’t tell but I think J was using the milk like 4 days past expiration).

So Saturday is Half Mary #2 and next Sunday is #3. Hopefully it all pans out well, but one thing I can guarantee is that I’ll have a great chance to review my new Pro Compression socks on Saturday afternoon!


Anyone running any races this weekend? Which ones?

What’s the most random meal you’ve eaten recently?


Filed under Half Marathons, J, Mmm Food, Party Time

Back to Back

I had a great 9 mile run on Saturday, but have spent the last 2 days moping around with a nasty cold. I feel so stuffy I can’t even hear right. Boo.

I have yet to change out of my pajamas and it’s 6:30 PM.

I’m not sure if it was a fit of cold medication-induced delusion or not, but somehow I ended up signing up for another half marathon the week after running in the Great Race of Agoura Pacific Half.

Groupon had a great deal for the Compete Green Ventura Harbor Half on April 1 – 2 entries for $59. My Dad purchased the deal and I scored the second entry. The Groupon deal sold out but I think registration is still open. It looks like a super small race, but it’s pancake flat so I’m looking forward to it. If the Agoura sub-2:10 goal is a total fail, which I hope it won’t be, I will only have to wait a week to try again.

Heidi has offered to be my pacer if I pay her in bones and steak. Unfortunately, her strategy is to sprint for 6 minutes then walk the rest of the way while loudly panting and peeing ever 4 feet. Sorry Dingo, I don’t think it’s going to work out for us.

Now I’m off to eat some hot soup and watch The Voice. Anyone else hooked? I love how Cee Lo holds his cat while being interviewed. He is sooo odd!


Filed under Dingo, Half Marathons

Ask and You Shall Receive

Do you ever have those moments that are so coincidental it’s scary? A couple months ago, I remember thinking that I really wished I had a nice DSLR to take some better pictures on vacations and for my blog. I had an issue last year where Barnes and Noble (die B&N, die!) advertised 50% off the Canon Rebel XS for Black Friday so I jumped on the deal, ordered the camera, my credit card was charged, and two days later they sent me (and tons of other people who ordered the same camera) an email saying they made a mistake in the price and had to cancel my order. No apology, no coupon for future purchases, no discount off the full price of the camera, nothing. It left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Luckily, right around Black Friday 2011, I was reliving that bitter memory when Woot came to rescue. Same camera. Same price. $5 shipping. No sales tax. I love you Woot! Now I just need to learn how to use it properly.

My "Artsy" Photo

Then, just a couple of days after my camera arrived I remember thinking about the old treadmill we used to have at my house and wishing we still had it. Our insane wind was back and making it very difficult to get in a long run before my race. The next day, Woot had a treadmill for sale! Unfortunately, I didn’t have an extra $500 lying around, or a place to put the treadmill, but it was a weird coincidence.

The point of my long, drawn out story is that I really believe that sometimes if you really really want something and think about it hard enough, an opportunity can just kind of appear.

One thing that I have had on my mind quite a lot lately is my next race in March. I made it public knowledge that I want to run a sub-2:10. I really had no clue how to actually go about achieving this. I mean, it’s simple right? Just run faster. 

At first I thought I would just hit the treadmill and not allow myself to run anything slower than a 9:50 pace at all times. Well, usually about a mile into that I remember how much I hate the treadmill.

Luckily, as I sat down at my computer this morning ready to search for training plans that help knock off minutes on my half marathon time, I saw PBF’s new post for the day:

So You Want to Run a Half Marathon

Where she linked back to some of her older posts, leading me to discover this:

After inputting my previous half marathon time of 2:18, selecting the day of the week I wish to do my long runs (Saturday), and the intensity at which I want to train (I originally did moderate then switched to hard to get closer to my goal time), and date of the anticipated race, I had my own personalized training plan that will lead me to an estimated finishing time of 2:11. Now, I know that’s a minute more than my goal, but the training plan it gave me actually has be running my long runs at an 11:54 pace (???) so I know I can increase the speed on those.

Get your own plan here!

What I really like about this plan is it incorporates more speed training, which is something I’ve never done before and really want to test out. If I can run a sub-2:10 half marathon with the help of my SmartCoach plan, I will seriously be so stinking happy I might be delusional enough to consider running the LA Marathon next year. Maybe.

It was just such a coincidence that PBF’s post lead me to find exactly the kind of training plan I need to accomplish this goal. I also love that it has me running 3-4 days a week instead of 5 like a lot of other training plans. Physically, I’m sure I could run 5 times a week if I was training properly, but half the time it is so hard for me to find the time. I’m not a morning person, and if I try to run at night after work I spend the whole run imagining things chasing me in the dark. And I hate running on the treadmill most days. Again – so boring.

So now I promise to try to post a little more frequently since I’ll be testing out and reviewing this training plan.

Also, I recently joined DailyMile and rarely remember to update it, but if you’re on it please come find me (Danica V)! Maybe if I have more DM friends I’ll update it more too 🙂

Has anyone used the Runner’s World SmartCoach to train for a race? Did it help you reach your goal?


Filed under Goals, Half Marathons

I’m so motivated I’m scaring myself

I just did something so out of character for me I’m still in shock. It’s only the second day of January and I’ve already paid all my student loan, car payment, and credit card bills. I usually wait until the day they are due to scramble home and pay them on time, but miraculously, I paid almost 2 weeks early this month.

Things are getting crazy!

I also signed up for my next half marathon on March 24:

I’ll be running in the Pacific Half Marathon and I’m really hoping to run it in 2:10 or less.

In an effort to help prepare for this race and work on getting a bit faster, I just placed an order for these beauties:

Runner’s World Complete Book or Women’s Running

Runner’s World The Runner’s Diet

I’m not a natural athlete or a particularly fast runner, but considering that much of my training for my first half marathon consisted of the trial and error method and some skipped long runs, I think I can definitely step it up with a little guidance from these books. A sub-2:10 half would feel like an incredible accomplishment for me and might be the next step to (possibly) attempting a full marathon in the future.

Other Productive Things I’ve Done in 2012\

– I haven’t bitten my nails since I sucked it up and got a gel manicure on 12/30. 3 days and going strong!

– I painted my toenails dark purple so that my two black toenails are no longer visible. Lovely right?

– I picked up a pair of $15 Nike Hero Shorts (one of my faves) at Sports Authority today. They were in my size. I left without buying them. Truly a New Year miracle.

– My NYE dress is sitting on my bed and I am absolutely planning on hanging it up before I go to sleep instead of tossing it onto the floor.

Has anyone read any good or motivating running books? 

What is your favorite book ever? J and I just finally finished the whole Harry Potter series and they are the best books I have ever read. I think the last one was my favorite. I bawled my way through the final 100 pages and now I’m dying to finally watch the last movies.



Filed under Goals, Half Marathons, What I'm Reading

Pomona Holiday Half Recap

I’m a little late to the recap party, but I’ve been waiting on pictures (and still waiting for some… Mom… JK!). I haven’t quite mastered the art of carrying my own camera for 13.1 miles so I had to rely on J and my Mom for any pictures other than what I packed and ate.

The morning started way too early when my alarm went on at 4:40 am. I kid you not, the most pain I experienced from running my first half was the excruciating headache that rolled in around 11:00 from not having any coffee. Seriously awful. I had laid out all my stuff the night before so I wouldn’t forget anything:

Ipod, Garmin, nuun, ear warmers, Clif Bar, Clif Shotblocks, Spibelt, Zensah Calf Sleeves

I ended up leaving the nuun because I wasn’t planning to carry my handheld. I ate the Blueberry Clif Bar for breakfast and packed the Shotbloks in my Spibelt along with some chapstick and tissues (which I never ended up using either).

My Dad and I left the house at 5:30 and made the hour+ drive to Pomona. When we got there is was so stinking cold. I have never been so grateful that I threw an extra jacket in my car at the last minute. My Dad had also brought us each a pair of gloves from the 99 Cent store so we could ditch them if it got too warm.

After finding the (real! flush! clean!) bathrooms, we picked up our packets and I got to meet the speedy, awesome Danica who was greeting everyone at the registration tables.

We got our stuff and headed back to the car to wait and warm up.

I was so glad to not have the twist-tie chip timers that we always get in 5ks. For some reason, those things drive me crazy trying to put them on.

We headed out at 7:40 to line up for the 8:00 start time. I saw Jason and my Mom right away as we took off running.

The first couple miles went by super fast as we headed out toward an airport and ran along the speedway. It was nice and flat and I was feeling great right off the bat. I ditched my gloves at Mile 2. It wasn’t hot but it was SUPER sunny. There were moments that I definitely regretted not bringing my sunglasses.

Our goal was to run the first 5 miles at a 10 minute pace and try not to walk at all until at least mile 7. I’m happy to say we were spot on with those goals and looking back we both think we could have gone even faster to start off, but we were being extra cautious for our first attempt at a half. Our splits were:

5k: 32:57 (10:37 pace)

7.2 miles: 1:12:19 (10:03 pace)

Looking back at the splits, I know we could have run a bit faster, but I’ll just remember that in the next race 🙂

I think I took a cup of water at every other aid station after mile 3. It wasn’t hot out so I never found myself very thirsty. They had Powerade at every other aid station, but I never took any because I was afraid it would wreak havoc on my stomach the way Gatorade does. I also didn’t take any Shotblocks until almost mile 10. I was feeling really good and was so afraid to do anything that might throw me off.

The course was more scenic than I’d anticipated. There was a big lake that we spent most of the race running around and the scenery changed quite a bit so I felt like my mind was always occupied and it was easy to not focus solely on the distance.

I lost my Dad right at mile 10 when his knee started hurting. I barely remember coming out of the hill portion of the race but next thing I knew I was running along a fence and heading back onto the speedway. I remember checking my Garmin at some point during mile 11 and realizing that I wasn’t just going to make my fake goal of 2:30, but I was going to crush it and finish the half in uner 2:20 with time to spare! The 12th mile flew by while I savored how amazing it felt to be back running on flat pavement (like I said before, and everyone else who ran it has said, this course was hilly). As I headed into the 13th mile, that was the first time in the race that I really started to feel like I was just straight done. I was nearing that point where all I wanted to do was stop running and lie down. My right hip was really tight and my arches were getting sore and worst of all I could tell the lack of coffee was starting to affect me. No joke, I’m a legit coffee addict. Right when I felt like I was going to have to start crawling to the finish, I saw Jason running along the side of the road cheering me on. It gave me the BIGGEST boost of energy and I threw him a thumbs up and tried to speed up a bit.

Finally, I rounded that last corner and as the finish line came into view, the crowd support became out of control! I had no desire to slow down when everyone around me was cheering and yelling “Great job!” and “Almost there!”

I also saw my Mom cheering me on just a few yards from the finish and that was SO motivating!

I crossed the finish line and saw a 2:18:XX on the clock so I knew I had accomplished my secret goal that I refused to tell anyone and broke 2:20 by at least a minute and half. I WAS SO HAPPY! 

I funneled into the finisher’s area where the volunteers handed me my medal, space blanket, water, a granola bar, banana and cereal. I only ended up eatinga couple bites of banana and chugging the water. I gave the rest to my little charity case who scarfed down the cereal like he hadn’t eaten for days. After we finally found my Dad, we took a couple pictures then headed out.

Don’t worry, I’m aware that my ear warmers make me look like a total goof, but they kept my ears from falling off so I’m going to keep wearing them.

We hit up Denny’s for lunch since we were all starving. I made the mega mistake of not getting coffee because my stomach was a little queasy. This decision came to haunt me an hour later in the form of a horrible, pounding migraine. We headed home and ended up getting stopped on the freeway for 30 minutes because of a bad accident. When we finally got home, I showered and passed out for 2 hours before heading to Jason’s for a victory dinner and drinks.

Each slice of that pizza is bigger than my face! SOOOOO Good!

Overall, I think the Holiday Half was a great experience or my first half marathon. It was organized, easy to get our packets, and as stress free as I can imagine a first half being.

I’m definitely looking forward to running another soon, and Sarah told me that it gets way easier on flat courses with a lot of crowd support so I’ll be in search of one of those ASAP. I’m also considering running the Pacific Half in Agoura since it won’t require me to wake up ridiculously early and drive an hour+. And, as an added bonus, it ends walking distance from this slice of heaven:

Is anyone else planning to run any of the Great Race of Agoura runs?

What’s your favorite half marathon? I need more fun ones to run ASAP! I loved it and now I think I’m going to be hooked!


Filed under Half Marathons