Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side 2017

Star Wars Half Marathon

January 15, 2017

Paradise Pier Hotel

We arrived at Disneyland on Friday afternoon and settled into our lovely hotel room at the Paradise Pier Hotel. The best thing about the hotel was the cute beach ball pillow on each bed! I wanted to take mine home with me, but the card warned that there would be a $65 charge for any beach ball pillow that made its way into a traveler’s suitcase. Cute, but not $65 cute!

It had been a long day, driving down from Tehachapi with a stop at the Burbank Airport to pick up my friend, and then sitting in stop-and-go traffic the rest of the way to Disneyland, so, after picking up my race packet at the Disneyland Hotel and making a quick turn around Downtown Disney to grab some dinner, we made an early night.

Saturday we visited Disneyland Park. I hadn’t slept well, had a migraine and queasy stomach, but did my best to enjoy the day. Went on Star Tours, Hyperspace Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, it’s a small world,  and then had breakfast at the Carnation Café. After that, we went to the Enchanted Tiki Room. By then, we were winding down, so we went back to the hotel to rest. My friend was wiped out, and stayed at the hotel, but after an hour and a half nap, I went back to Disneyland for a few more rides: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Finding Nemo’s Submarine Voyage, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Had a delicious pasta dinner at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port, then called it a night. My migraine had finally subsided, and I felt better but still tired, which I hoped meant I’d be able to sleep early and get up reasonably rested at 3:30 AM!

I did get to sleep by 8:30 PM but woke at 1 AM and didn’t sleep much after that. Still, I felt pretty good when I got up at 3:30 AM, got ready as quietly as I could so as not to wake my roommate, and headed out for the starting line at around 4:30 AM. The starting line was somewhat confusing—we gathered in a parking lot, with a stage and entertainment, photo ops, bag check, and numerous toilets, but no sign of where the starting line was. I ran into a woman I know from the library in Tehachapi! It is a small world.

Eventually, we got herded out of the parking lot and onto Disneyland Drive into our corrals—which were actual corrals of pipe fencing, with crew checking our bibs for our corral letter to make sure we got into the right one. I, of course, was in Corral J, the very last one.

There was a staggered start, with five minutes in between each corral being released. Which meant that Corral J, way at the back of the pack, didn’t start until nearly 6:30 AM! It was a long, cold wait, but finally we got to cross the starting line and begin running!

Radiator Springs RacersWe entered Disney California Adventure and ran past the Radiator Springs Racers just as the sun was coming up.

A Bug's LifeThen we ran through “a bug’s land”.

Paradise PierAnd past Paradise Pier, with Mickey’s Fun Wheel and the California Screamin’ roller coaster, as the day brightened.

Buena VistaFinally, we ran through Hollywoodland, and out of California Adventure.

tunnelWe ran through a tunnel that was filled with flashing red and green lights.

it's a small worldThen we entered Disneyland Park, running past “it’s a small world.”

MatterhornWe continued through Fantasyland towards the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

TomorrowlandThen on to Tomorrowland, where the staff directed us on our way with lightsabers.

matterhornAround the Matterhorn again.

Disneyland castleAnd through a castle.

into AnaheimAnd finally out of Disneyland and into Anaheim to finish the race.

duck pondWe ran past this picturesque duck pond.

I didn’t take many pictures once we’d exited the parks—it was a lovely city, with lots of cheerleaders cheering us along, people holding signs, people in costume—mostly Star Wars, but a few others. I just wanted to run and enjoy the sights. I was also a little worried about keeping my pace, but it turned out not to be a problem. It was a nice, flat course and the weather was good—the sun did come out, but it was early and the air was still brisk so it didn’t bother me. I managed to keep up a pace of around 15:30-minute miles pretty much all the way.

There were staff at each mile marker telling us how many minutes ahead of pace we were. Since they didn’t start counting the limit until everyone had crossed the starting line, and I was somewhere in the middle of my corral, I started out with a few extra minutes, and gained another minute every couple of miles or so. I felt good and never got really tired. I brought Clif Shot Bloks with me, and tried to remember to eat a couple every couple of miles, and also drank water at each water station.

The only pain I ended up with was a blister on the inside of my right little toe, where it was rubbing against my fourth toe. I don’t know why, when I never got blisters in any of my long runs. It might have been because I re-laced my shoes to try to leave more room for my toes, because they’d been getting very sore from bumping into the toes of my shoes. It did seem to help that, because my toes didn’t get sore, but I got a blister instead! Oh well!

My official finishing time was 3:22:53 —my second best half marathon ever, coming in almost a minute ahead of my first Long Beach in 2008. I was very pleased with my time, especially considering how difficult my training had been—I missed many runs, due to injuries, bad weather, and holiday preparations. And then, what with having a migraine the day before, I was not at all sure of being able to finish in the the 3:30 time limit. But it turned out to be a good race, one I was able to finish in good time fairly easily! And it was a lot of fun to run.

me with my medalOur finisher’s medal was awesome!

I hung about at the finish area for a bit, eating some of the snacks we were given, then headed back to the hotel for a shower and lunch before spending the rest of the day at California Adventure Park. We rode Soarin’ Around the World, The Little Mermaid, and Mickey’s Fun Wheel before grabbing early dinner at Smokejumpers Grill. Then it was back to the hotel for one more night before heading home on Monday.

It would have been nice to go on a few more rides, but the parks were jam-packed with visitors for the race weekend, and I needed my rest for the half marathon, so I didn’t want to push myself or stay up too late. Save that for another trip! But it was still a good trip, and a fun race.

OC Half Marathon 2016

OC Half Marathon

May 1, 2016

View from my hotel

I drove to Costa Mesa on Saturday, arriving at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel at 3 PM, just in time to check in and catch the shuttle to the Expo. Unlike other races I’ve attended, the finish line and Expo were seven miles from the starting line, and none of the hotels listed on the race website seemed very close to either, so I just stayed at the host hotel and took shuttles everywhere! It was somewhat less convenient than just walking to and from the race, but the shuttles were pretty well organized, so it worked out well enough.

The Expo shuttles were a bit far apart, though. We got there around 3:20 PM but the return shuttle wasn’t until 5:15. The other passenger on the shuttle just wanted to rush in, grab her race packet, and return to the hotel, so the shuttle driver agreed to wait for her. But I wanted to at least walk around a little, so I decided to stay. Two hours was way more time than I needed, but I was glad I’d stayed for several reasons: one was that I bought four packets of GU Chews and took them with me on the race instead of the GU gels I’d brought with me. They were delicious and kept me going without upsetting my stomach, as the gels sometimes do.

Me wearing my runner's shirt

The other reason was that I was so tired after driving for 3-1/2 hours and then spending two hours at the Expo, I found it easy to go to bed at 8 PM (after a yummy Carb Load dinner of giant goat cheese raviolis with pesto sauce and beets at the hotel restaurant) and get nearly a full night’s sleep before getting up at 3:30 AM on race day.

Our morning shuttle bus picked us up at 5:05 AM and delivered us to the starting line by 5:30 AM.

Corral 5I found my way to Corral 5 at the back of the pack and waited for the race to begin. I was feeling pretty good, if a bit chilly. I wore my capri-length leggings and short-sleeved tee shirt, because I knew I would be warm enough once the race started and the sun came up, but at that time of the morning, it was still only around 55 F.

The starting line approachesThe race begins! This time, I decided not to use my running app to time my intervals, but used my new Timex Ironman watch instead. This is my fourth? fifth? Timex sport watch—I wore out several, then lost my last one in the fire. I only bought this one recently and had used it on maybe one run. Found out after the race started that I’d accidentally programmed the intervals for 30:45 minutes rather than seconds and had to reprogram them on the fly while already running. Heh. But it was nice to use that instead of wearing earbuds. I didn’t bring a water bottle with me, either. Figured I’d just use the water stations along the way. All I brought with me was my watch, phone (to use the camera), GU Chews, and a handkerchief, plus my ID and card key for the hotel.

I trained for this race with a 30:30 second run/walk ratio, but at the last minute decided to bump it back to 30:45, which is what I used in Long Beach. I trained hard this time, doing speed work and longer runs, but my long training runs didn’t always go well, and I went to Costa Mesa feeling somewhat worn out and depressed and not at all confident of being able to finish within the 3:30 hour time limit. But I was already registered and trained up and figured I might as well go and do my best. But I did think that maybe the 30:30 run/walk ratio was too hard. I was slowing down a lot during my longer training runs, running out of energy before I was finished, so I thought an easier ratio might help me conserve enough energy to keep going throughout the race. I think it really did help!

We started out circling around Fashion Island, then headed down MacArthur Blvd towards the ocean.

Running towards the oceanI meant to time my splits to see how I was  keeping my pace, but I either missed the first two mile signs or they weren’t there, so I didn’t get to mark a split until mile 3.Mile 3My time for the first three miles was around 44 minutes, so I was keeping a pace under 15 minutes. That was good to see, but keeping a good pace at the beginning usually isn’t the problem—it’s keeping it up throughout the run!

Corona Del MarWe were running through Corona Del Mar. Some absolutely beautiful homes! I don’t even want to know how much they cost.

Corona Del Mar State BeachTo the west was Corona Del Mar State Beach, which was also beautiful. The whole course was lovely and enjoyable to run. I continued to feel good and have no trouble keeping my pace.

Mile 5Around Mile 5, we were running along Bayside Drive, through more lovely homes.

Balboa Yacht ClubWe passed the Balboa Yacht Club.

Flower bedsProfusions of flowers grew on the slopes in front of many of the houses. I could have stood all day taking pictures, but I had to keep running! One of the runners I passed had a GoPro strapped to his chest. He recorded every inch of his run!

Just past Mile 8Just past Mile 8, we were running along Newport Bay. I kept forgetting to time my splits, but when I did, I found that I was managing to keep close to a 15-minute mile pace. Still feeling strong and running well.

Watch for PedestriansWatch For Pedestrians! We ran for a while on a bike trail. Pedestrians were everywhere!

TreeAlso, watch for trees!

Another treeI don’t know what kind of trees they were, but there were some really handsome ones along the side of the road.Finish line aheadThe finish line comes into view! I decided to run in the last quarter-mile or so, since I was still feeling good. (I just noticed that that woman in the pink top and blue leggings was also right in front of me at Mile 3. We paced each other the whole way!)

I finished in 3:16:19! A personal best, as well as the best race I’ve run since I started running again last year. I was beginning to think maybe I’d have to stop racing again, but I’m all enthused again now! I think the speed work I did this time really helped, even though it didn’t always feel like it at the time. It also helped that the weather was perfect, and the course was net downhill. I was reasonably well-rested and well-fed, and kept up my hydration and ate my chews every three miles. I think the 30:45 second run/walk ratio also helped. Everything came together just right this time, so I was able to run just about the best race I was capable of. Yay!

Flashback Heart Attack at the finish line partyI even had enough energy to hang out at the finish line party for a while, after picking up my medals and snacks. This band was called Flashback Heart Attack, an 80s cover band. They really rocked the place! We were encouraged to sing along, and since we mostly all knew the songs, we danced and sang and had a great time.

Me with my finisher's medalsThen I caught a shuttle back to the hotel, where I posed in the mirror with my finisher’s medals—one for the OC Half Marathon, and the big clamshell for the Beach Cities Challenge. I did it! Three half marathons in a row, Long Beach, Surf City, and the OC.

I rested a bit, took a shower, drank lots of water and ate a Clif Bar, then went down to grab some lunch at the hotel restaurant. I checked my iPhone for restaurants in the neighborhood, but didn’t see any that inspired me to go out exploring. The hotel restaurant, the Silver Trumpet, was good but fairly expensive. I had some good meals there, though. Lunch was a cheese panini with shoestring fries. After lunch, I stopped in at the gift shop for some snacks (fruit cup and chocolate covered dried strawberries), then settled in front of the fireplace in the lobby to enjoy the ambiance and do some web-surfing, since the WiFi in my hotel room was very spotty.

After I’d been sitting there for a while, one of the desk clerks, I think, brought me a bottle of water, which was awesome of him. Very friendly and nice people at the hotel.

The only place in the room with WiFiAfter I got back to my room, I did some experimenting and found the one place in the room where the WiFi reached: in the hallway by the door. So I put down some pillows and hung out there when I wasn’t watching TV or reading.

I didn’t feel like going back down for dinner, but fortunately I’d brought enough food with me—cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, cheese and crackers, as well as extra Clif Bars, coconut water, and soy milk—that I made a meal of that, along with the snacks I’d bought at the thrift shop. I went to bed early again that night.

I had one more meal in the restaurant the next morning for breakfast, an absolutely delicious bagel with creamy goat cheese and smoked salmon, then hit the road for home.

A great weekend! Now I’m ready for the next one.

Surf City Half Marathon 2016

Surf City Half Marathon

February 7, 2016


I arrived in Huntington Beach on Saturday afternoon, checked into my hotel, the Waterfront Beach Resort, and went to the Expo to pick up my race packet. My room was on the sixth floor, overlooking the pool, with this view from the balcony of the ocean off to the left.


Race day! All set to go.


The hotel was right on the starting line. I took this photo from the front steps, with the sunrise over the ocean, as the full marathoners started off.


The half marathon started at 7:45 AM, but since they were using a wave start and I was way at the back of the pack, I didn’t cross the starting line until around 8:20 AM. The weather was pleasant, sunny but not too hot. I was chilly earlier, but knew I’d be fine once the race started, so I didn’t wear a jacket. I was glad to be wearing short sleeves as the day wore on!


Mile 1! The half marathon course started out the same as the full marathon course, running up the Pacific Coast Highway, so both Mile 1 markers were in the same place. The surfboard markers were for the full marathon, the highway sign markers were for the half.


A cheerful drummer played for us as we passed. On the other side of the street, the fastest of the full marathoners, who started at 6 AM, were already coming back from the other direction towards the finish line.


The road was lined with palm trees, and the lovely blue ocean sparkled off to the west.


Just before Mile 3, we turned up Seapoint to run past some beautiful homes.

At some of the water stations, they were giving away Clif Shot Bloks. I’d brought GU with me, but I really like gummy snacks, and I was already hungry when I started, so I was happy to have some extra fuel to keep me going. I picked up three packs of Bloks along the way at various stations.


Only 10.1 miles to go!


We ran along tree-lined boulevards.


At the top of the Bluffs, the half marathoners turned the corner to go back, while the full marathoners continued on to run an extra four miles or so.


On the way back, we ran along the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, which were dotted with oil wells.


On our inland side were these fancy homes with views of the wetlands.


Then it was back to the Pacific Coast Highway.


The wetlands were off to our right. There were herons on this bridge, but the photo is too small to see them very well.


Mile 6! Nearly halfway there!


Just after Mile 8, we turned around and headed back the other way. We ran through this Clif Shot Energy Zone, but all the Clif Shots had already been given away, so we slower runners didn’t get any. I should have eaten a GU at this point, but I was hoping for more Clif Shot Bloks and kept waiting for the next water station to see if there would be any more. I was starting to fade from low blood sugar by Mile 10, when I finally realized I’d better eat some GU.


Mile 11! Getting close! I’d eaten a GU about half a mile before, and was feeling perkier again.


The full marathoners turned off the PCH at around the half marathoners’ 12-mile mark, and ran another loop along a beach trail. They had over 10 more miles to go, but we half marathoners were nearly done.


The finish line is in sight!


The band Cosmic Reaction played in the Expo area past the finish line. I hung around for a bit, had a few snacks and some water, and enjoyed the sun before heading back to the hotel.

Here I am with my finisher’s medal! My time was 3:30:17. I slowed down a lot at the end, mostly due to forgetting to eat after the Shot Bloks ran out, so my time wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was certainly better than Long Beach! Now, on to the OC Marathon, to complete the Beach Cities Challenge.

Long Beach Half Marathon 2015

Long Beach Half Marathon

October 11, 2015

view from hotel
View from my room on the 11th floor of the Renaissance Hotel. After a 7 year break, I’m back for another half marathon. I’d been planning to try the full marathon, but due to the intense heat and difficulties with my last few long training runs, I decided to switch to the half. I was really glad I did! It was in the 90s all weekend, which made for a really hard race.
Wave 5
I headed out around 7 am for the 7:30 start, and found my place at Wave 5, for expected finish times of 3:32 and over. I didn’t know it at the time, but I could have done an early start at 6 am with the full marathoners. That would have really helped escape some of the heat!
starting line
Crossed the starting line at around 7:40 am. It was already hot and humid, but I felt pretty good at the start.
Mile 1
Reached Mile 1 under the underpass.
Approaching the first turn, circling around this little park.
Crossing the bridge just after mile 2.
Queen Mary
Early morning sun over the water, with the Queen Mary on the right in the distance.
running along the water
Running along the water.
Cheerleaders cheered us on
We passed a little lighthouse on the hill above us.

running along the beach
Running along the beach, we passed the halfway point.
Mile 8
Passing mile 8 on the beach.

rock band
One of several rock bands who entertained us along the way.
mile 10
Nearing the turnaround at about Mile 10. Here was where I began to get in trouble. I’d taken an electrolyte drink instead of water at one of the water stations and it upset my stomach. Because of my stomach troubles and the heat, I didn’t eat any more GU, which I suspect led to a blood sugar drop. Anyway, I got very weak and eventually couldn’t run any more, so I had to walk the rest of the way.

Shade! It was very welcome to get out of the sun for a bit.
full and half marathon split
We passed the point where the full marathoners split off. I was very glad to keep on the left with the half marathoners.

mile 12
Only one more mile to go! It was a hard, hard last mile, but I kept going.
finish line
The finish line is in sight!

I did it! Made it past the finish line, picked up my finisher’s medal, water and coconut water and some snacks, then found a patch of shade in the grass to sit and rest a while. My final time was 3:39:15, quite a bit slower than I’d hoped, but a finish is a finish!

Long Beach Half Marathon 2008

Long Beach Half Marathon

October 12, 2008

View from hotel
This is the view from our tenth floor room at the Westin Long Beach Hotel. We were right across the street from the Convention Center.
ready to go
I got up at 5:30 am, after a sleepless night, to get ready for the race. Mom took my picture just before I left to find the starting line at about 6:45.
I hadn’t figured out exactly where the Start Line would be, but I figured I’d just follow the crowds. We crossed the street and headed past the fountains at the Convention Center.
corral c
Turns out, the starting line was right behind the Convention Center! Here, we gathered in our “corrals” to await the start. Being a smaller race, there were only four corrals. Corral C was for half-marathoners expecting to finish in 2.5 to 3.5 hours, and Corral D was for half-marathoners expecting to finish in 3.5 hours or more. Since I was right on the dividing line at 3.5 hours, I lined up at the back of Corral C.
the race begins
And we’re off! It only took me about five or six minutes to cross the Start Line, unlike Honolulu, where it can be a good 20 minutes before the back-of-the-pack runners get to the start.
ferris wheel
We passed this Borders bookstore, with a ferris wheel in front.
Shoreline Drive
And continued on Shoreline Drive.
circling the park
At the end of Shoreline Drive, we curved around this little park and circled back.
Queen's Way Bridge
Next, we crossed Queen’s Way Bridge heading out towards the Queen Mary.
Harbor Scenic Drive
And came back up Harbor Scenic Drive, coming up on Mile 4.
crossing the bridge
At the end of Harbor Scenic Drive, we crossed another bridge to lead us to Ocean Boulevard.
runners below
As we crossed the bridge, we could see the runners still on Shoreline Drive below us.
mile 5
Nearing Mile 5, we’re curving around towards Rainbow Harbor.
We passed this little park.
And then we ran along the harbor.
running and walking
Most of the racers around me were also doing intervals of running and walking. I used a 1:2 minute run/walk ratio, which worked pretty well in letting me keep up a good pace while not getting too tired.
Aquarium of the Pacific
We passed behind the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Murder Mystery Dinner Tour
This steamboat has a restaurant and does harbor tours. They were advertising a “Murder Mystery Dinner Tour.”
There was a little lighthouse on the shore.
mystery building
I don’t know what this building was, but it was pretty!
mile 6
Mile 6! Nearly half done! We’re now leaving the Rainbow Harbor and entering Downtown Shoreline Marina.
round building
More or less back where we started, we ran behind the Convention Center and this big round building, painted blue with whales on it. It was a landmark for me—on the other side and across the street was our hotel. The race course was very twisty and confusing—I rarely had any idea where I was.
running along the beach
Past the marina, we ran along this beach bike path. It was beautiful, with the sand and the ocean to our right, and the city to our left.
painted building
I don’t know what this structure was, maybe some kind of pump house? In any case, it was painted very prettily.
running along the beach
We ran along the beach for about three and a half miles.
mile 9
Here’s Mile 9! Only 4.1 miles to go!
Ocean Boulevard
Just before Mile 10, the path ended, curving around to join Ocean Boulevard. Now we’re in the home stretch, heading back to where we started from.
full and half marathon split
Between Mile 10 and Mile 11, the race splits. The full marathoners head off to the right, to run another 13 miles through the city, while we half marathoners stayed to the left, continuing on Ocean Boulevard.
full and half marathon rejoin
The full marathoners soon rejoined us. Now we were being passed on the right by runners who would finish the full marathon before we’d finish the half!
pretty houses
There were some beautiful houses along Ocean Boulevard. I bet that’s some expensive real estate!
mile 25 for full marathon
There’s the 25-mile marker for the full marathoners! For us half marathoners, it’s almost mile 12.
finish line
Just after the 26-mile marker, we turned left down Shoreline Drive. With only two tenths of a mile to go, I decided to run the rest of the way. There’s the finish line ahead!
I picked up my Finisher’s Medal and a bottle of water and walked around the finish area for a bit. My unofficial finishing time was 3:24:01. I was very pleased to have broken 3:30.
Then it was back to the hotel.
My mom was waiting for me outside.
Here I am, in front of the hotel, with my finisher’s medal.
After a rest and a shower, we went out to lunch, then visited the Aquarium of the Pacific. All marathon runners got in free! It was nice to run a half marathon for a change, finish in less than three and a half hours and still have time and energy for sightseeing in the afternoon! I’ll have to do this again!

Honolulu Marathon 2007

Honolulu Marathon

December 9, 2007

View from the hotel
This was the view from the lanai of my hotel room at the ResortQuest Waikiki Beach. The hotel is right at the entrance to Kapiolani Park, where the shuttles picked us up to take us to the Start Line, and also where the marathon finished. So it was very convenient! And a very nice hotel.
arriving at the starting line
I got up at about a quarter to 3 am (my alarm was set for 2:30, but I went back to sleep for a little while after I shut it off), got ready and headed for the shuttle buses at about 3:30. Oops! I’d forgotten to use the Afrin to keep my sinuses clear for the race. But I had plenty of time, so I went back to the hotel to spray my nose. Then back to catch the shuttle. I arrived at the starting line staging area at about 4 am. This was the view as the runners arrived.
Look! It’s a UFO!
Not really. It’s a revolving restaurant at the top of a high-rise building downtown. It’s lit up like a flying saucer at night.
I then spent about 50 minutes in line for the restroom. Oh well, what else was I going to do while I waited? It was raining off and on all morning. Several deluges, and I was soaking wet by the time the marathon started.
lining up for the start
At about ten to 5 am, I lined up behind the other runners at the “6 hours and over” sign. The starting area is marked off in one-hour increments so that people can line up near the hour they expect to finish. That way, the slow runners are at the back and won’t get in the way of the faster runners.
The marathon starts off with a bang! Fireworks right at the 5 am start. Of course, those of us way at the back didn’t actually cross the starting line until nearly a half-hour later. We wore timing chips on our shoes that registered our time crossing the starting line and various other places throughout the race, so our times were accurate no matter how long it took to cross the starting line.
Christmas decorations
The first few miles were through downtown Waikiki, where many of the buildings and trees were decorated for Christmas.
By the time we were back on Kalakaua, the tourist strip, dawn was beginning to break.
We passed these fountains just above the beach.
passing by my hotel
The building on the far corner is my hotel, which we passed just before we entered Kapiolani Park.
mile 6
Just inside the entrance to the park was the 6-mile mark.
Many groups lined the sidewalk, cheering on the runners. A lot of Japanese people come on tours to run in the Honolulu Marathon, so shouts of “Gambatte!” were common along the way.
Diamond Head
Diamond Head loomed in the distance as we came out of the park.
front runners passing by
As we left the park, we began to see the front runners returning to the finish line. We were coming up on eight miles; this runner was about to finish the race with a time of around 2:30. The winner had already crossed the finish line.
circling Diamond Head
The rest of us still had a long day ahead of us! We were now circling around Diamond Head.
clouds over the ocean
The sky was still cloudy as the sun continued to rise over the ocean.
circling Diamond Head
Diamond Head was off to the left as we circled around at about mile 9.
runners fill the highway
Then we turned right and headed down the hill. You can see the runners filling the highway off into the distance.
runners with ponchos
Now we were heading west along the highway. The rain had ended, but many of the runners kept their ponchos, just in case.
mile 11
We headed up the on-ramp onto the freeway at Mile 11.
oncoming runners
Again, we met the faster runners coming back on the right. At this point, the oncoming runners were slowing down.
mile 15
At around Mile 15, we began the loop around to come back. Here’s where I lost about 15 minutes stopping to use the rest room. If I’d hung on a couple of miles longer, the next rest stop had no lines and would have only taken a few minutes. Oh well! I suppose the rest didn’t hurt.
around a lake
We crossed a bridge, went around a lake, and came back on the other side.
mile 16
Mile 16! Only 10.2 miles to go!
faster than me
The little girl on the right was running with her mother. She was ahead of me the whole way, and I’m sure beat my time.
We crossed the bridge on the other side. The sun was finally starting to come out, which meant it was hot and still stiflingly humid.
Coming up on one of the aid stations at around 18 miles. Volunteers hand out water, Gatorade, cold sponges, and ice. They’re there all day long, and we really appreciate it!
percussion band
This percussion band was set up beside the road to entertain us and keep us moving along!
accordian player
This lady is there every year, playing Christmas carols on her accordion.
passing slower runners
Now, finally, we were the ones heading back, and passing slower runners on the right!
mile 20
Twenty miles! People are stopping to rest at the side of the road. We’re getting pretty tired now.
your finisher's shirt is waitig
This sign says, “Your finisher’s shirt is waiting!” in English and Japanese.
runner's shirt
This runner’s shirt says,”If you can onry achieve 50% of your gorl, why don’t you set your goal higher than 100%.” No, I don’t know what it means, either.
flower gate
We must be passing through quite an affluent neighborhood. Many of the homes have gorgeous gates and entryways.
And here, at about 22 miles, my camera batteries died. I’d brought extras, but left them at the hotel. Duh! So I have no photo of the Finish Line, but I did cross it! In fact, I sped up a bit for the last 1.2 miles, trying to beat my time in my last marathon. Which I did! My official finishing time was 7:40:56, about a minute and a half faster than my LA time of 7:42:31. Go me!
finisher's shirt and medal
I was going to have a finisher’s photo taken, but I decided to pick up my tee-shirt first. Bad idea! Kapiolani Park had been thoroughly soaked by all the rain, and by the time I found the tent where the tee-shirts were being given out, I’d soaked my feet and splattered mud up to my knees. I didn’t want to take a picture of myself looking like that, so I just went back to the hotel. But here’s a photo of my tee-shirt, shell lei with finisher’s medal, and my runner’s bib.
It was a lot of fun, despite the rain. I never got very tired, and kept up a good pace the whole way. The worst part was that my socks and shoes were wet pretty much the whole way, which resulted in many many blisters on my feet. But blisters will heal, and I have my fifth marathon to remember!

Los Angeles Marathon 2006

Los Angeles Marathon

March 19, 2006

View of the starting line
This was the view from my hotel room at about 7 am, looking up Figueroa at the starting line. Despite it being so close to the hotel, we had to walk one block over, down the street, and back to line up at the end of the starters.
starting line
I actually ended up farther towards the head of the line than I meant to. At my pace, it’s better to start way at the back, so as not to block the way of faster runners in the early crush. Our official times are determined by computer chips that we wear on our shoes that record the exact time we cross the start and finish lines, so times are accurate even if we cross the starting line after the starting horn sounds. I ended up only about a minute and a half behind the official starting time.
taiko drummers
Even though you can’t really tell, there is a group of taiko drummers on the side of the street, pumping us up with their drumming. This was somewhere in the first or second mile.
At about mile three, we passed this airplane at the side of the road. I’m not sure what it was doing there!
A bit farther along, there was another group of taiko drummers. This time, I was on the right side of the road to photograph them.
Not sure what I meant to take a picture of here, but all I got was my shadow. I suppose I could try to pretend I meant to make this arty shot, but no. Just hit the button at the wrong time.
Much of the marathon looked a lot like this: palm trees lining wide roads, with lots of runners all around.
school band
Off on the left, a school band entertained us as we passed.
rock n roll
There were also quite a few rock bands set up in various parking lots and gas stations along the route. I was impressed that they were out there all day, keeping us going. Oftentimes, the entertainment packs up and goes home before the slowpoke runners like me get there. If I remember correctly, this particular band was doing a cover of Devo’s “The Girl You Want” as I ran by.
These kids were putting on quite a show, singing and dancing.
A group of AIDS Marathon supporters cheered us on at the seven-mile mark. It was really nice having them shouting encouragement, especially at the 22-mile mark. The coaches also ran back after finishing their own marathons to check in with the AIDS Marathoners still on the route to make sure they were doing okay. I felt well-taken care of!
Mile 8
Coming up on Mile 8, I was still feeling good and keeping up a good pace. Unfortunately, by Mile 9, my right leg was starting to hurt, and marathon became increasingly difficult all the rest of the way.
Cheerleaders! This is one of several groups of cheerleaders along the route, cheering us on. In fact, there were lots of people lining the entire route, cheering, playing boomboxes, waving flags. It was the most community support of any marathon I’ve been in. It really helped keep us motivated!
These two guys entertained us with some rousing rap/hiphop.
Around Mile 10, we crossed the Santa Monica Freeway. Cars honked and people waved as we crossed the overpass.
metal band
A metal band played from a gas station. Since the roads were closed, the gas stations were also closed, and became stages for bands and singers.
sound tunnel
Just before the halfway point, we ran through this arch in the road. Inside, speakers blasted us with music!
mile 18
Mile 18, and there were more walkers than runners in road around me.
rock band
Yet another band. I can’t remember what kind of music they were playing, but I remember I liked them. Possibly some kind of classic rock/blues?
residential neighborhood
The scenery changed a bit around Mile 19, as we ran into residential neighborhoods. About here, I switched from a 2:3 run/walk ratio to 1:2 because my leg was hurting too much to run for two minutes. I managed to keep that up until about Mile 22, when I couldn’t run any more at all. I walked the rest of the way. Even walking was hurting pretty bad by the time I was done, but I was determined to cross the finish line if I had to crawl across! My pace slowed from 15 – 16 minute miles early on to 20+ minute miles at the end, but I kept moving!
mile 26
Mile 26! Almost there! That last 0.2 mile is a killer!
I was really pleased—and surprised—that the roads were kept closed to traffic for the entire time I was on the route. I was expecting to have to run on the sidewalks for at least the last few miles. It made it a lot easier not to have to deal with traffic. And, at this point, I was glad I’d got an early start—I was finished before 4 pm, which I wouldn’t have been if I’d started farther back in the pack.
The finish line! Boy, was I glad to see that! I walked through, handed in my timing chip, got my finisher’s medal, and then realized I wasn’t quite done yet—I still had to walk back to my hotel. Four more blocks! Eeeeeeee! Why am I not done yet?
Whew! The Wilshire Grand! Back to the room to soak my legs in a cold bath, then settle in to a room service dinner and quiet evening.
My official time was 7:42:31. I finished 18,702 in a field of over 25,000. It wasn’t my best marathon, but it wasn’t my worst, either! And I wasn’t last!

Honolulu Marathon 2002

Honolulu Marathon

December 9, 2002

Left to right, top row: Shelly, Cari, Leigh, Cody Bottom row: Julie1, Jen, Julie2
Thanks to Jen for the T-shirts!
The cold and sleepy Gretes gathered to await the 5 am start. It was still only around 3:30 am when we arrived, so we had plenty of time to pump ourselves up for the race!
The cold and sleepy Gretes gathered to await the 5 am start. It was still only around 3:30 am when we arrived, so we had plenty of time to pump ourselves up for the race!
waiting for the start
Over 33,000 people had registered for the marathon. Many were Japanese families who came on organized tours to combine a vacation with the race.
waiting for the bathroom
True to our motto (“Grete Waitz for no one! except the bathroom”), we took our first bathroom break of the day in long lines at the Porta Potties, set up across from the Start Line in Ala Moana Park.
chanting to inspire
Then we made our way across to Ala Moana Blvd to find ourselves a place in the crowd. We sat on the median, and our Hawaiian member Julie1 led us in a Hawaiian chant to inspire us and focus our energies for the effort.
The Starting Gun went off promptly at 5 am, and we were off, to a grand show of fireworks!
the race begins
We’re off! Over 30,000 runners began what for many would be a long, long day! It took nearly fifteen minutes for us to reach the official start, behind so many other participants. Our official times were kept by means of electronic chips attached to our shoes, which recorded exactly when we crossed the start and finish lines, and several other locations along the way, so our official times were still accurate.
hula boy
The first four miles of the marathon wound through downtown Waikiki, decorated with Christmas lights that lit up the early morning. Eventually, we came past our hotels on Kapiolani Blvd, where this pretty boy in a hula skirt was there to cheer us on.
Leigh and Tony
My running partner, Leigh, posed with her husband Tony in front of the Hyatt. She’d called him on her cell phone to meet her with something she’d forgotten to bring along.She was nursing an injured IT band; I had a sore side from a recent car accident. We both planned on taking it slow and easy, with lots of walking, and no time goals, just hoping to be able to finish.
Heading out of Waikiki
Heading out of Waikiki,
Through Kapiolani Park
Through Kapiolani Park,
Towards Diamond Head
Towards Diamond Head.
taking it easy
Leigh and I walked the first three and a half miles or so, to get thoroughly warmed up and make sure we weren’t going to be in too much pain. We were doing pretty well, so we began to run with a 1:2 minute run/walk ratio. We were doing approximately 17–18 minute miles.
ocean through trees
The views of the ocean beyond the trees as we ran around Diamond Head were awesome. So was the sight of the front runners passing us going the other way towards the finish line—when we’d barely gone seven miles!
Diamond Head
There was Diamond Head above us,
and a lighthouse silhouetted in the early morning light. Fortunately, the skies remained cloudy and the temperature stayed relatively low—probably in the low 80s—until the afternoon.
behind Leigh
I got lots of pictures of the back of Leigh as I’d slow down to snap a shot and she’d continue on ahead.
18th Avenue
After circling Diamond Head, we headed up 18th Avenue, still going strong.
It had been raining a little, and rewarded us with a faint rainbow as we made our way towards mile nine.
girls running as bunnies
These Japanese girls were running dressed as bunnies, with ears and little fluffy tails. There were also runners dressed as ducks, fairies, tigers, Santa Clauses, even a Darth Vader.
Kalanianaole Highway
Then there was a long stretch down Kalanianaole Highway. After we’d passed the half-way point and were nearing mile fourteen, and were still feeling good, we decided to try a 2:2 run/walk ratio. Bad idea! My side immediately started hurting, and so did Leigh’s knee, so we went back to our tried-and-true 1:2 ratio.
turnaround point
Sometime after mile fifteen, we reached this lovely lake. We were tired, but we knew we were nearly at the turnaround point. It always seems easier when you’re running back towards your starting point, rather than running away from it!
mile 16
Approaching mile sixteen,
photo op
we stopped for a photo op,
and were cheered on by some of our supporters, who had gathered in spots all along the course to encourage us. They were really a big help.
Santa Claus accordianist
This lady, dressed as Santa Claus, played Christmas songs on her accordian to entertain the runners as we passed by.
trouble at mile 21
Mile twenty-one was our trouble spot. With only 5.2 miles to go, Leigh had stopped to stretch and her knee, which had been troubling her ever since the ill-fated attempt at 2:2, suddenly got a whole lot worse. She was barely able to walk. We were afraid we were going to have to drop her off with the gang of AIDS Marathon staff and supporters at mile twenty-two, but after some experimenting she found a gait (which we called her Night of the Living Dead walk) she could use that didn’t hurt her knee, and she determined to keep on. We walked the rest of the way from here.
keeping on
So on we went down the highway.
beautiful homes
We passed some beautiful homes with gorgeous metal-worked gates.
goldfish gates
This one had goldfish designs on its gates.
watching the runners go by
This lady and her dog were festively dressed in Santa hat and reindeer antlers, respectively, as they watched the runners go by from their front yard.
flower gate
Another beautiful gate, this one of flowers.
Diamond Head
Finally, we were once again in sight of Diamond Head, and the last few miles of the marathon.
water stations
By now, we’d been on the course for about eight hours, and the water stations were littered with discarded cups from the thousands of runners who’d already passed.
photo op
We stopped at a view point for photo ops.
carrying on
And we carried on up the hill, fortified by some chocolate Leigh had brought along for a little boost in the last few miles. Great idea, Leigh!
Do Not Go Beyond This Point
This sign warns, “Do Not Go Beyond This Point.” We thought that was a pretty good idea. But we went on anyway.
Scott cheers us on
One of our program reps, Scott, cheered us on the last few miles.
finish line
Back in Kapiolani Park, nearing mile twenty-six, we can finally see the Finish Line up ahead! Tired but happy, we broke into a (very slow) run to cross the finish line.
Leigh iced her knee
After finishing, we headed for the AIDS Marathon tent to check in and rest with snacks and Gatorade. Leigh iced her knee and reflected on the run.
finisher medals
Then we each posed outside the tent with our Finisher medals and tee-shirts.
Christmas trees
One of the Japanese groups had Christmas trees outside their tent.
Tired runners and their friends enjoyed the park. A great way to relax and unwind after the race!
finisher tshirt and medal
We finished! Yay us! Our time ended up at around 8:40. Our time was slow but we still had a great time.

San Francisco Marathon 2002

San Francisco Chronicle Marathon

July 28, 2002

View from hotel
Even though I lived in San Francisco at the time, I decided to avoid the hassle of trying to catch a bus or call a cab at 4 am on a Sunday to get to the starting line in time for the early 5 am start, and stayed at the Hyatt Regency the night before the race. This was the view from my hotel window.
The official start was at 6 am, but there was an early start at 5 am for those of us who didn’t think we’d be able to finish in 6 hours. I’m glad of that! I wouldn’t have been able to finish otherswise. I gathered with the other “slowpokes” before 5 am at the Embarcadero. The big building in the background is the Hyatt Regency.
It was starting to get light when we reached the Marina.
We ran right through the Palace of Fine Arts!
The Golden Gate Bridge with its head in the fog, at around mile 5.
I think this was from the top of Fort Point—a two-mile climb up a doozy of a hill! My ears popped!
The bison paddock in Golden Gate Park, at about Mile 10. (Yes, those little brown blobs are bison.)
We came out the west end of the park at the ocean, then ran down the Great Highway and back, past this little row of colorful houses. This was between Miles 13 and 14. Over half way there!
Then we re-entered Golden Gate Park, and ran all the way through it into the Haight.
I was really nervous about running this marathon. My biggest worry, aside from the fact that I’d interrupted my training for it and hadn’t had time to do a 26-mile training run beforehand, was that the course is only open for seven hours (if you include the 5 am early start, which I did), and the traffic barriers are lifted after at most six hours. I was fairly confident about being able to finish in less than seven hours after my 24-mile training run, but I was still concerned about possibly being out there on the course all alone and getting lost after they took up the traffic barriers. Turns out I didn’t need to worry. There weren’t a lot of other marathoners around me for the last hour or so, but there were always a few in sight. And even though the traffic barriers had been lifted by the time I got out of Golden Gate Park (earlier than the 10 am they said the roads would be closed through!), there were still volunteers manning water stations and directing us at turns with their cheerful yellow flags. So there was no problem finding the way. And everyone was so enthusiastic and encouraging! All the way to the end, there were well-wishers cheering us on, and quite a crowd remained at the finish line. It really made a difference to see so many people out there pulling for us. Here, we ran on the sidewalks, from the Haight and down through the Mission.
Then we came around the southern end of the city, until we were back at the Bay, and the baseball park came into view.
There was a baseball game that afternoon, and we slower runners had to share the sidewalks with the crowds heading for the ball park. I heard some grumbling about the pedestrians slowing us down, but I didn’t mind. I figured, at my speed, it’s silly to worry about a few minutes here and there.
Finally, I reached the finish line, on the Embarcadero with the Clock Tower in the background, from across the street in Justin Herman Plaza, where the Expo was going on.
Finally, I reached the finish line, on the Embarcadero with the Clock Tower in the background, from across the street in Justin Herman Plaza, where the Expo was going on.
I got my photo taken with my finisher’s medal.
I got my photo taken with my finisher’s medal.
Afterwards, I walked around for a while at the Expo, ate a banana, got a 20-minute massage of my arms and legs, and then headed back to my hotel. Took a quick shower and changed (into my Chronicle Marathon tee-shirt and finisher’s medal!), checked out and had lunch at the café there (Alaskan Salmon Nicoise! Yum!) before heading home.

Honolulu Marathon 2001

Honolulu Marathon

December 9, 2001

View from hotel
After six months of training with the AIDS Marathon Training Program in San Francisco, I arrived in Honolulu for my very first marathon. This was the beautiful view from the window of my fabulous room in the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Doesn’t it look just like a picture postcard?
I got up at around 2:30 am to meet the rest of my group and catch the bus to the starting line. The race began at 5:00 am with fireworks. And we were off!
heading up the hill
After running through downtown Waikiki, lit up with Christmas decorations, we ran through Kapiolani Park and then watched the day break as we headed up the hill along the side of Diamond Head.
runner with Santa hat
After running through downtown Waikiki, lit up with Christmas decorations, we ran through Kapiolani Park and then watched the day break as we headed up the hill along the side of Diamond Head.
mile 10
The day grew brighter as we circled around at about Mile 10.
Diamond Head
Diamond Head was off to our left.
heading down at mile 11
Then we headed toward town at about Mile 11. I kept getting my running partner Jesse’s left side in my pictures as I’d slow down to snap a shot.
runners adjust their shoes
A couple of runners stop to adjust their shoes.
Diamond Head
Diamond Head looms in the distance as we head back towards the finish line.
We run along the beach at about Mile 22
We run along the beach at about Mile 22.
It’s uphill for a few miles, but we keep pushing on.
Finished! Tired but happy, I posed with my finisher’s T-shirt.
AIDS Marathon runners after the marathon
With Diamond Head in the background, I posed for another photo with my running partner, Jesse (center), and another of our AIDS Marathoners (left).
finisher's medal and certificate
My official time was 6:57:02. I placed 15,589th out of 19,217 total finishers. Not bad!