The Green Girl's Secret Blogger Santa Gift

The Green Girl received her Secret Blogger Santa Gift in the mail yesterday.

Before I reveal what I received from my Secret Santa, I would to express my gratitude to Jill from Run With Jill for organizing the 2nd Annual Holiday Blogger Gift Exchange.

When I got home from work, there was a small, brown box waiting for me with a return address but no sender name.

The Green Girl's Secret Blogger Santa was Marcia from The Studly Runner.
I quickly ripped the package open to find a fabric sack adorned with sequined winged dragonflies sitting in a nest of shredded teal paper.

In a tiny pink envelope marked 'GREEN GIRL!', Marcia from The Studly Runner revealed her true identity.

The Green Girl's Secret Blogger Santa Gift from Marcia aka The Studly Runner
I loosened the drawstring to reveal a bag of Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews and a beautiful dragonfly necklace tucked inside.

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews are actually one of the few sports nutrition options that don't upset my usually ironclad stomach.

Bronze 26.2 Dragonfly Necklace from Nana Smith Designs
The bronze dragonfly hangs from a chocolate brown leather string. The subtle 26.2 engraved on the edge of the piece brought a smile to my face.

Marcia purchased this unique piece of jewelry from Nana Smith Designs.

Nana Smith Designs specializes in 'Organic Style Handmade Jewelry' with inspired by marathons and triathlons. An organic pouch is included with each jewelry purchase.

Thank you so much, Marcia, for the thoughtful running-related holiday gift!


The Green Girl Visits The Zombie Apocalypse Store

This weekend, while in town for the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, the Green Girl visited the The Zombie Apocalypse Store in Las Vegas.

I discovered this store a month ago when I was out on a run just off The Strip. When I saw the storefront, I thought I was dreaming.

In the event of a zombie attack -
3 steps for avoiding infestation:
1. Avoidance 2. Termination 3. Disposal
As I entered the building, the owner, Mike Monko, and his wife extended a warm welcome and mentioned I'd just missed Max Brooks.

I was disappointed I didn't have the opportunity to meet the zombie authority but I assured them I would return in a month when I was back in town for the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

Certified Zombie Pathogen Free Jerky
I am obsessed with disaster preparedness and post-apocalyptic survival. I attended Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training so I can help respond in the event of an emergency.

The Zombie Apocalypse Store carries military MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), emergency water filters and pouches, zombie ammunition, stun guns, slingshots, knives and swords, target practice items, books, and other survival supplies.

Zombie News Report
They also sell novelty posters, bumper stickers, signs, and t-shirts featuring the walking dead.

Zombie news is appropriately broadcasted constantly at The Zombie Apocalypse Store.

If you need to hone your shooting skills, they have a wide variety of zombie targets to choose from.

Bleeding Zombie Target
For serious zombie killers, they sell three-dimensional zombie targets that actually bleed.

I commented that I would have a hard time shooting something that cost me $79.95 but the owner's wife pointed out the fact that I could keep the used target as proof of my zombie sharpshooting.

Opposite the three-dimensional zombie target display, they had a selection of exploding target mixes.

Exploding Target Mix
They also carry backpacks containing emergency essentials.

As I perused the store, I exchanged survival strategies with the owners. One can never be too prepared.

They also asked me what other items I would expect to see in a zombie apocalypse store.

Zombie Killer and Zombie Annihilator Bullets
Although they sell .45 caliper hollow-point Zombie Killer and AK-47 Zombie Annihilator Bullets, they don't carry firearms.

I would recommend The Zombie Apocalypse Store to survivalists, theorists, zombie fans, and anyone who is interested in outliving the undead.

Zombie Killing Swords
  1. Organize before they rise!
  2. They feel no fear, why should you?
  3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
  4. Blades don't need reloading.
  5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
  6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
  7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
  8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
  9. No place is safe, only safer.
  10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.
Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide


Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Report

The Green Girl ran down The Strip at night at the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon this weekend.

There were 44,000 runners and walkers registered for the event. The course started and ended at Mandalay Bay. The full marathon started at 4:00 PM and the half started an hour and a half later.

The Green Girl's Sole Runners shirt and bib
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's Team Challenge Endurance Training Program was the official race charity. Runners registered with Team Challenge raised money to help the 1.4 million Americans suffering from Crohn’s and colitis.

I walked to the Mandalay Bay starting area with a couple of Sole Runners, Barb and Kerri.

The evening was warmer than expected and I welcomed the respite from the harsh Las Vegas winds.

Tiger in cage at the Start of the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll
I immediately regretted consuming a pre-race chocolatey nut burst Marathon Bar when I started suffering from intense stomach cramps before I even got into my corral.

After a seemingly endless line and my much needed bathroom visit, Kerri and I found ourselves running after the official Tail Vehicle down the starting chute.

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Tail Vehicle
As soon as we crossed the Starting Line, we did our best to weave through the crowd but there were a lot of walkers on the far left so it was challenging.

Articles of throwaway clothing were randomly strewn on the race course and I almost tripped over a bulky sweatshirt.

The full marathoners also merged with the half on the left side but the only barrier was the occasional orange cone with a small sign indicating Marathon to the left and Half to the right.

Aid stations on the left side of the course only exacerbated the situation because everyone was crossing over into the narrow marathon lane to get water.

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Mandalay Bay Starting Line
I grabbed some water at the Mile 1.5 and 3.1 aid stations but each time I took a sip my stomach cramps worsened.

At around Mile 4, I told Kerri I wasn't feeling well. I moved to the right and slowed my pace as I tried to scope out upcoming porta-potties.

Since we were running in an industrial section off The Strip, I couldn't find a business to run into to use their bathroom.

I even ran off the course to a gas station but the attendant refused to let me use the facility.

I somehow managed to make it to the porta-potties at Mile 7.5.

The Green Girl barely made it to the Mile 7.5 porta-potties
After relieving myself, I found it difficult to maintain a consistent pace. Depending on the intensity of my stomach cramps, I alternated between running and walking.

I also considered making myself throw up and wondered if that would ease the intestinal cramping.

As I was walking, I realized I somehow missed the Run-Thru Wedding Chapel at Mile 3.

View of the Stratosphere from the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll course
By this point, all the aid stations appeared to be out of water. Even though my stomach couldn't handle hydration, I hoped all the other runners and walkers were okay.

I thoroughly enjoyed the portions of the course that were on The Strip with its abundance of quintessential neon lights.

Running down The Strip
An internal dialogue took place inside my head where it was agreed that effective immediately, I will refrain from all sports nutrition experimentation.

The billboard at the finish confused me because I thought I'd reached the Finish Line but it was actually a quarter of a mile around a curve.

I was too dehydrated and hungry to get a second wind so I just jogged across the Finish Line.

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Medal
A cheerful volunteer handed me my medal. I quickly put it around my neck and skipped the Finisher's photo.

I needed some soda to settle my stomach and something to eat to ease the cramps. Unfortunately, they had only water and unripe green bananas that could not even be peeled.

There was a food concession adjacent to the finish area. I tried to buy a ginger ale but was informed they had closed for the night. After I asserted how badly I was in need of that soda, the guy angrily handed it to me at no charge.

Post Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Race chaos at Mandalay Bay
As I was trying to locate an exit, Kerri spotted me. We naively followed the crowd to the shelter of the Mandalay Bay lobby as it started to rain and the temperature abruptly dropped.

Inside the hotel was pure chaos. The taxi line was unfathomable. There was confusion surrounding the availability of post-race shuttles.

Although the ginger ale had soothed my stomach, I was still feeling weak from lack of food. Luckily, Kerri was able to sustain me with a bag of pretzels.

The Green Girl's vote for Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Best Costume
The highlight of the Mandalay Bay finish fail was spotting a runner with an actual iconic 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' sign around her neck.

I must admit I was disappointed by the entire Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas experience.

It was unfortunate that an event of this magnitude from a national franchise like the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series would be so poorly executed.


Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k Race Report

The Green Girl ran her very first turkey trot when she ran the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k Thanksgiving morning.

The race benefited the Children's Health Initiative of Santa Clara County, the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k Course
The race took place Downtown San Jose with the Start and Finish near the HP Pavilion.

The morning was chilly but not as cold as I'd expected. There was a 50% chance of rain but there was only a light drizzle when my dad dropped me off early for the last minute bib pick-up.

The Green Girl waiting to pick up her Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k bib
From experience, I expected delays due to the wet conditions.

Based on the number of registration tables, tents, and signage, they were prepared for a lot of runners but there weren't enough volunteers when I arrived to process the runners in a timely manner.

The Green Girl's Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k bib
I appreciated the shirt pickup option at the finish so I didn't have to deal with bag check.

After pinning my bib with attached timing chip on my shirt, I headed over to the Costume Contest.

A giant corn on the cob accidentally bumped into me and apologized profusely as she explained how difficult it was to walk around as an ear of corn. She ended up winning the Costume Contest 'Non-Holiday' category.

A family of Angry Birds won the Costume Contest 'Team' category
There were lots of Indians and Pilgrims. I saw a Turkey toddler.

A family of Angry Birds won the Costume Contest 'Team' category.

I saw Sour Cream and Chives walking around. Someone asked them if they were looking for Mashed Potatoes and they admitted they were lost so they were directed to their missing main dish. That cracked me up.

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k Course
I laughed even harder when I saw Thanksgiving Dinner. I couldn't imagine walking even a single mile with that spread around my waist.

After I was thoroughly amused by the costumes, I headed to the porta-potties. There were many rows of porta-potties conveniently located all around the Start/Finish area.

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k Starting Line
I alternated between ChiRunning body looseners and porta-potty visits before I headed to the Starting Line for the 10k. The 5k had a later start time.

The corrals were self-seeding so I lined up near the 10-11 minute per mile sign.

The race took place on flat city streets. There was only one downhill and one uphill - right at the end.

I focused on quick foot turnover and relaxing my body. It was the first time I ran a race where participants actually moved to the right when they slowed down. The race etiquette made a big difference because I wasn't forced to weave in and out.

I started feeling the fatigue around Mile 4. I dug deep and pushed.

As I was sprinting towards the Finish Line, I realized there was a serious runner jam. We all came to a complete stop before we could even cross the mats.

Mr. Green Garmin 01:06:44 Finish Time
I decided I'd go ahead and stop Mr. Green Garmin while I was waiting.

I was thrilled when I saw I'd actually finished in 01:06:44.

When I finally strolled across the finish mat along with the sea of runners, I realized I would be able to calculate just how long it took to actually step across it once I got my official Finish Time since I'd stopped Mr. Green Garmin.

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10k Finish Line
Unfortunately, when I went to get my official results, they only showed my Mile 4 time, 41:58 (10:30 pace). I immediately assumed there were just too many bibs crossing the mats at once though I wondered how a bib attached to my short body could have been missed.

I was a little disappointed but the lack of official timing couldn't take away from my happiness.

Subsequently, I learned this happened to a lot of runners so we were instructed to send our results to the timing company to have them manually entered. I submitted Mr. Green Garmin's numbers and now my 10k PR is official!


Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon Race Report

On Saturday, the Green Girl ran the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon with fellow Sole Runners, Isabelle and Kathleen, Sole Runners couple, Brian and Stacey, and her friend, Janey.

The course looped through Griffith Park and included turnarounds at the Bronson Caves (the 'Bat Cave' from the classic Batman television series) and the Griffith Observatory.

Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon Goodie Bag and Shirt
The morning was cold and crisp with a 40% chance of rain forecasted.

After putting in way too many hours at the office and not working out in days, my left calf started hurting on Friday.

The pain was so bad that even after extensive self-massage, I could hardly put any weight on it Saturday morning. I told myself I'd listen to my body and drop out if necessary.

The Green Girl with fellow Sole Runners, Brian and Stacey
Janey and I carpooled. We arrived early to pick up our bibs. We received a red reusable shopping bag along with our INKnBURN branded technical race shirt.

I finally gave in and popped a couple ibuprofen before I limped back up the hill to the Starting Line.

By the time we crossed the Start, the ibuprofen had kicked in and my calf felt good. I was able to maintain a brisk walk as we hiked up the first incline.

Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon Starting Line
When we reached the downhill, I felt confident enough to start running.

I focused on engaging my core and silently thanked my friend, Hector, as we flew down the trail at an 8:30 pace.

I relished the feel of the dirt underfoot and delighted in the sensation of the cold breeze hitting my body.

Another one of my runner friends, Jessica, joined Janey and me for awhile. We chatted about our training and upcoming race schedules.

View from the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon course
The views from the course were spectacular. The sky was clear and the visibility reached out to the ocean.

Even though my calf was no longer bothering me, I still made an effort to walk the uphills and only run on the flats or downhills.

The race was well organized so it was no surprise that the course was well marked and there were also lots of cheerful, energetic volunteers directing runners at all the trail intersections.

Well stocked Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon aid station
The aid stations were very thoughtfully stocked with water, sports drink, and both sweet and savory snacks.

They also offered some amenities such as anti-bacterial gel and pre-moistened wipes.

As we were running another downhill, the toes on my right foot started cramping. I immediately knew that was an indication I was dehydrated. It suddenly dawned on me that I'd been waking up with pangs of thirst the night before.

The Green Girl and Janey
I realized I'd been so consumed by meetings all week that I'd refrained from drinking enough water. My calf pain was most likely caused by dehydration.

I popped a couple Succeed! S Caps electrolyte pills and made an effort to drink as much as possible the rest of the race.

As Janey and I were coming around a bend, Jessica was heading in the opposite direction. She told us to go through the caves at the next turnaround and check out the view of the Hollywood Sign.

Janey at the Bronson Caves aka the 'Bat Cave' from the classic Batman television series
Janey and I stopped to pose for pictures at both ends of the Bronson Caves. It was a little creepy to walk through them because of the way the darkness would envelope you.

When we got to the other side of the caves, we spotted the Hollywood Sign. We all snapped multiple shots of the famous landmark before we headed back to the course.

The Green Girl, Kathleen, and Isabelle with the Hollywood Sign
The trail continued on to Griffith Observatory before we looped back to the start.

The course was satisfyingly challenging and I cherished every minute I was out there.

We crossed the Finish Line with an official time of 03:29:29.


The Green Girl's Long Beach Marathon Race Report

On Sunday, the Green Girl ran the Long Beach Marathon.

My longest training run was scheduled for the evening before I flew out to the East Coast for Tour DaVita. I had planned on doing 20 miles but had to cut my run short to 14 when production issues came up at work.

The Green Girl, Coach Steve, and fellow Sole Runner, Kathleen
When I returned from the bike tour, Coach Steve helped me put together a pacing strategy for the race. Our goal was for me to do a sub-6 marathon. That would require me to shave just over an hour off my marathon PR.

Race morning, I carpooled with my SparkFriend, Jeannie, to the Starting Line.

Coach Steve leading the Sole Runners pre-race body looseners
She lined up for the walker early start and I headed over to the Sole Runners tent.

When it got closer to the race start, Coach Steve assembled the group behind our tent for our body looseners.

We ended with a Sole Runners team huddle before we all headed for our respective corrals.

Pre-race sunrise
True to form, I had to visit the porta-potty a few times before I felt confident enough to line up in my corral.

Mr. Green Garmin was programmed to help keep me under a 13:44 average pace for a 05:59:59 finish.

I chatted with other Sole Runners as we waited for our Corral 5 wave start.

Fellow Sole Runners, Miyuki and Kathleen, with the Green Girl in Corral 5
As soon as I crossed the Starting Line, I turned on my running playlist, zoned out all the other runners so I could find my pace, and tried to convince myself that I didn't need to pee again.

I refused to allow a porta-potty line destroy my sub-6 dreams so I finally gave in around Mile 2 and resorted to ducking behind a vicious bush that stabbed and scraped up my knee.

Fireboat spraying water over Rainbow Harbor
I felt much better after my pit stop and I quickly eased into a comfortable pace.

My body felt really good and my legs felt strong.

I stopped by the Sole Runners Mile 9 aide station briefly and grabbed some of The Green Girl's Famous Salted Potatoes prepared by Sole Runner, Betty.

The Long Beach Half Marathon/Full Marathon split
At the infamous Half/Full Marathon split, I followed the bend to the right.

All of a sudden, I had intense metatarsal pain on my right foot. I had a serious heart-to-heart with my right foot and I let it know I needed it to work with me. It stopped hurting.

I was overjoyed when I saw I had reached Mile 13 in 02:39:16.

The sun was starting to get hot so I increased my sports drink intake at the water stops.

Despite the heat, I was able to maintain a fairly consistent pace and I reached Mile 18 in 03:47:41.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity Einstein
I slammed into the metaphorical wall at Mile 21.

I knew the time had come to pull out my Sole Runners Secret Weapon so I reached into my pocket and opened it up.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Einstein

This was my opportunity to do a sub-6. I took a deep breath, dug deep, and pushed on.

HillBilly Yoga pacing the Green Girl from Mile 21 to 24
Out of seemingly nowhere, HillBilly Yoga appeared.

I appreciated the fresh legs and easy conversation.

I watched the 05:30 pace group go by but I didn't have it in me to keep up with them.

Mile 23 was the longest mile of my entire life. It was so long that I gave in to one of the hills and walked.

I was suffering from hypoglycemia at this point and it was a struggle for me to maintain any semblance of a conversation. All I could think about was crossing the Finish Line and then getting some sugar - in that order.

The Green Girl and fellow Sole Runner, Kathleen, at Mile 24
Mr. Green Garmin read 05:45:26 when I crossed the Finish Line. My official time was 05:45:21.

Everything came full circle for me when I crossed that Finish Line.

I followed the Couch-to-5k program and completed my very first race at the Long Beach 5k back in 2007. I remember watching the half and full marathoners crossing the Starting Line. I was simply amazed and wondered if I would ever be capable of doing something like that.

I also crossed two items off my Running Bucket List - outrunning Mr. Green Garmin's battery life and running a sub-6 hour marathon.
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