Santa-Monica Venice Christmas Run 10K 2016 Race Review

I’m going to be that annoying person who says they’ve been too busy to blog. It’s true though! I have 3 draft blog posts that were never published. I’d start writing but with my computer open I would watch my growing inbox and feel guilty about not responding and not being productive. So yes, I’ve been too busy to blog, but definitely not too busy to run. Running makes me a better principal. Sometimes it clears my mind, and sometimes I use a run to reflect and build an action plan in my mind. Anyways, the annual Santa-Monica Venice Christmas Run was my reason to get back into blogging. This was my 6th year in a row running the race, and I’ve always said it’s my favorite (non-marathon) race. With a 1st place finish out of about 1400 women, even more reason to love the event. Because I’ve got lots to do tonight, my goal is to finish this post in 20 minutes. Here we go. Don’t judge the typos 🙂

Ellen, Anna, and I at the start of the race. FullSizeRender_2.jpg

Yup, I love this race. Hard not to smile with all the Christmas spirit, costumes, and running on the beach. I never go into this race stressed or with a crazy goal. Yes, I always want to PR but that’s mostly because I rarely run 10Ks. I also don’t train specifically for 10Ks, so I can’t be too upset if I don’t PR.

This photo was taken just after the first mile. I was in 3rd place and 1st place was quite a ways ahead of me. Considering I’d just clocked a 6:11 mile, I didn’t think there was much of a chance of working my way up, so I just smiled and thought to myself it would be nice to have a top 3 day. 50086408_race_0.8425811077171016.display.jpg

Yeah, not all of my photos turned out as well…


The race wasn’t really too eventful. Around mile 1.5/2 I caught 1 and 2, and made it to 1st place. Turns out they started too fast. I ran pretty consistently between 6:18-6:22. This course has a bunch of turn arounds which is annoying for pacing, but great for seeing friends. I got to see Peter, Ellen, Anna, and Bri several times on the course. By mile 4 I knew unless something went terribly wrong I’d win the race. My pace was feeling hard, but not impossible, so I kinda just held it. I didn’t have huge motivation to dig really deep. I felt content and soaked in all the energy from the runners and spectators. My official time was 39:40.FullSizeRender_3.jpg

Finish line smiles.


I made friends with the second place finisher. Hoping to get together for a run sometime soon! Here we are with our big ole box of chocolates that we got at the awards ceremony.FullSizeRender.jpgAnd here is the original running crew. Ellen and Bri. So many miles spent together 🙂



Post-race Ellen, Anna (the other Anna) and I went to Gjusta for brunch and Brent got back from after a week away in England that evening.

The next day was a recovery run and some yoga at Athleta in Santa Monica. They gave us gratitude notes and there was a dog in our class. Gotta love LA!



OK, all out of time. Thinking of running this race next year?


  • Flat course
  • Free photos
  • Long sleeve shirts and medals
  • Lots of bathrooms
  • Lots of parking options both free if you’re willing to walk from neighborhoods and lots if you want to be right by the finish or start
  • Beach running
  • Big race with 10,000 runners doing both the 10K and the 5K making for a fun atmosphere


  • Turns are kinda annoying in the 10K if you are really trying to go fast, but I personally like seeing the other runners so I think it’s worth it
  • Start and finish about a mile away
  • Less freebies this year 😦

Arroyo Creek Half Marathon Race Review 2015

You are looking at The Three Amigos. The Queens of Simi Valley.

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1-2-3 in our age group. Marta finished 2nd overall and I finished 1st overall. Official time was 1:27:09 🙂 Peter finished 3rd in his age group too. Awards all around! I love racing because it feels like a celebration of all those miles put in through training. On the way up to the race we talked about training, and the benefits of speed work vs. lots of miles. This race proved it’s those miles you put in. The more you run the faster you get. A few tempos here and there help, but it’s really about running consistently.


Peter at the podium. Yes, I stole this from facebook. He ran a 1:32:05!11242688_10105346867840800_928927201579014799_n-1Marta took this very artsy picture of us checking out our times after the race. Impressive with the reflection and all! FullSizeRender (55)

And here are my splits. Not sure if anyone besides myself is interested. 
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I went into the race feeling really positive. I didn’t feel nervous, but did feel a little “ugh I have to push myself today.” You know how much I love sticking to my comfort zone. Because I felt so relaxed, I broke the #1 race day rule and tried something new on race day. I had coffee and two slices of this awesome cinnamon bread from Trader Joes. Nice, sweet and carbolicious.


Yesterday’s carbs involved Kogi for lunch, and some pasta for dinner. Saturdays with no amigo running feel kinda empty.

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So the race. I never hit that 10 mile half marathon wall of wishing it was all over. I felt great throughout the race, and I know it’s because I just kept smiling and staying super positive during the entire run. I didn’t let any negative thoughts cross my mind, and I never felt sorry for myself. I really think this is crucial to a strong race. You have to smile and love the experience, and be thankful for being out there on the course. I was super excited about my time. I looked at my pace every mile, but didn’t look at my overall time because I love the surprise when you reach the finish line. I saw 1:26 on the clock and thought I might be able to hustle, but decided to save that for another PR 🙂 I’m super pumped about my time more than about winning because I broke my previous half marathon PR which I never thought would be possible because my previous PR was on a downhill course. I’m not interested in signing up for downhill courses anymore. It feels like cheating. I earned this 1:27, and I don’t need an asterisk next to my time. Being Cristina I finished and was pumped and proud of myself, but probably about a minute later I started thinking, “1:26…then maybe 1:25…” I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where I’m ready to quit going for faster. I remember I used to think a sub 1:30 was official badass status. Well, I guess I’m a badass who is eager for more. Speaking of which, I need responses to my Boston question at the bottom of my last post…

Here are the sisters at the podium…


And our prize…I also won $20 at Sports Authority. I’ll take it!

IMG_1349In marathon training news, I’m feeling 1000 times more relaxed this training season. I think knowing Brent and Ellen are running New York with me takes the pressure off. With Boston I was so concerned with just getting to the starting line healthy because everyone was going to watch ME. I’m glad the attention is shared this time around. Alrighty, off to run errands before dinner at the new Simzy’s in Venice Beach. It’s a celebration of a great run and to starting the 2015-2016 school year TOMORROW!

Thinking of running this race next year?


  • Race day packet pick up. HUGE PRO!
  • Easy parking
  • Flushing toilet
  • Cute shirt (T-shirt. I haven’t been loving race tech shirts lately so I was happy with this.)
  • Small community feel
  • Lots of pacing options
  • Turn-around points where you can see your friends
  • Post race pancakes (sadly my stomach couldn’t handle them)


  • Not the most exciting course
  • It was kinda hard to get water. I never knew if it was water or gatorade.
  • Lots of turn-arounds (although I liked that)
  • Lots of dips and uneven pavement

Chinatown Firecracker 10K/5K Race Review

I first ran with Ellen back in February of 2013. We were both Lululemon Run Club newbies and ran a four mile loop with Kathy. Ellen had run a half marathon before, but was getting back into consistent running after a recent move to LA. Sometimes being a Garmin Girl has its benefits. I found our first run together on Garmin Connect. Ellen, remember running up Doheny? You were NOT happy, but you refused to walk. You’ve been setting PRs ever since.

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Ellen got free entries into the Firecracker 10K/5K so kinda last minute I decided to tag along and keep her company. We raced the 5K together and took it easier on the 10K (although our last 3 miles were still 7:15s and we were talking the whole time). We crossed the 5K finish line in an official time of 21:02, Ellen’s fastest time yet, winning her 1st place in her age group on a crazy hilly course. The course came up short on my Garmin, but I’m pretty sure it was the two times we ran under the 110 that threw off my watch. Goooo Ellen! According to my Garmin we averaged under 7 minute miles, something I knew Ellen was capable of, and I was excited to pace her to accomplish that. I’m pretty sure Ellen wanted to smack me for speeding her up some of those crazy Chinatown hills, but she did it, and like any crazy runner minutes after the race was already setting new goals for her next 5K.

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Ellen’s coworker Lauren was there to cheer us on, and after the race we met up with Anna (Ellen’s twin) and all went to the Arts District for brunch. The area is made up of a bunch of abandoned industrial buildings just east of Downtown near the LA river. It’s slowly being gentrified by artists. It’s the kind of place where you run into a bunch of people doing photo shoots. Kinda like DUMBO in New York. I always joke that I’m not cool enough for Silverlake/the Arts District/Echo Park/Los Feliz. I’m just a beach bum. Anyways, Anna did her research, and we ate at Zinc (really cool atmosphere but we weren’t impressed with service) and got scones and sweets at Daily Dose (much nicer staff, and didn’t make us feel like we weren’t cool enough to be there). Anna really wanted to try The Springs which is completely raw, every stereotype of LA, and totally her style. Organic, raw, vegan, juices, yoga on site, lofty look. I’d be down for eating there sometime. The menu actually looked pretty good, and the servers were really nice when we walked in to check it out. Yeah…I’m still a little bitter about the service at Zinc. I really wanted to like it, but they acted WAY too cool for sweaty runners. Anyways, I love checking out different neighborhoods in LA.

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So back to running, thinking of running this race next year? You totally should!


  • Great theme, festive and spirited. Drummers, dancers, firecrackers, music. The whole community really got involved.
  • Beautiful 10K course with views of the valley post rain storm, Dodger Stadium and Downtown LA. It was gorgeous and worth the mile long hill. Personally, I loved the challenging course.
  • AWESOME t-shirts, trail mix and granola bars in the goody bag. I love freebies!
  • Option to run both races (although the 10K started 30 minutes after the 5K, so it was quick turn around time).2015_Run-3001_50_1-Final-e1421392542478


  • There was no water right at the finish. You had to weave around and we went a good 30 minutes without water after the 10K.
  • The festival in Chinatown was so crowded. It was hard to walk around. I never really crave beer and take advantage of beer tents, but it looked packed.
  • Hilly course? That wasn’t really a con for me, but could be if you’re looking to PR.

Onto This Week’s Runs

  • Monday- Three Miles at Back On My Feet (No Watch/I’d guess 9:00 Average Pace)
  • Tuesday- Run MDR Track (2×400, 1×800, 3×1200)
  • Wednesday- Off
  • Thursday- Ten Mile Run (7:28 Average Pace)
  • Friday- Four Miles at Back On My Feet (8:35 Average Pace)
  • Saturday- Twelve Mile Run with Marta and Ellen (8:10 Average Pace)
  • Sunday- Firecracker 10K and 5K!

And other important happenings from the week…

1. Saturday we drove Alaina to Disneyland so she could run inside, ride the Little Mermaid and run back out while we ate in Downtown Disney. She has an annual pass and is doing a 30 before 30 challenge. Visiting Disney monthly is on her list. She’d been out of town a lot this month so wasn’t able to get a proper day-long visit. This is the definition of no excuses.

photo 2 (2)2. Check out our cutie Kindergarteners at their Writer’s Publishing Party on Friday. Their crowns said “Ask me about my book!”

photo 1 (2)3. I never told you about running with Ryan Vail. He was in LA prepping to run the LA Marathon. He was in Playa to pace his wife for a 16 mile tempo and was getting warmed up. He passed me in the opposite direction on the bridge and I just KNEW it was him. When he turned back around and passed me at what must have been a snail’s pace for him, I knew it was my moment. I called out, “Are you here training for LA?” He turned around and said, “Yeah, are you running it too?” I told him I was running Boston for the first time, and he was super friendly, congratulating me on qualifying and giving me some pointers for the course. He asked me if I had any advice for the LA Marathon course, which was really nice because who am I!? We ran about a mile together, before I turned off the beach path to run back home. He smiled, and said “Good luck training!” SUCH a nice guy.

4. Two weeks to help Ellen and I reach our goal. SUPPORT GIRLS ON THE RUN!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!