Run for the Seals 2013 Race Recap

On Saturday, The Marine Mammal Center hosted their 29th annual Run for the Seals, a 4 mile run (or 2 mile walk) through the Marin Headlands. A couple of years ago I participated in the 2 mile walk and I remember watching the runners take off  and thinking that’s going to me someday. Saturday was my someday.

Being in the Marin Headlands, I knew the course was going to involve some inclines and hills, so my goal going in was to have fun and enjoy the views. I did very little pre-race prep. There was no laying out my clothes the night before, no easily digestible carb loading (wine and steak for dinner, cinnamon rolls for dessert), no waking up super early to drink coffee and get my mind stomach in line. I did have my traditional pre-race breakfast though.

pre-race fuel

Yvette and Ariana picked me up at about 7:30 a.m. and we made our way to the headlands. We got there around 8:00 a.m. and were fortunate in getting a close parking spot. Although the emcee said 1100 people had registered for the run/walk, it didn’t seem like there were that many people there. We had no wait to pick up our bibs, and no crowd at the pre-race fuel tent. Yup, they give you food and water before the race even starts!

food tent

There were only about 10 porta potties. We hit them up early and didn’t have to wait in line. Ten doesn’t seem like very many at all if you’re expecting 1100 people, and not long after we went the line backed up quickly. There was no bag check, but this didn’t really seem to be an issue for people.

Around 8:50 a.m. we lined up in the corrals, and had plenty of space to stretch and take a few pics.

run for the seals 2013

In addition to the 2 mile walk and 4 mile run, there’s also a costume contest, and I was a fan of this guy’s choice.


What better motivation is there than being chased by Jaws?

The course was well-marked, with lots of volunteers to point runners in the right direction. Despite only being 4 miles, there were also 3-4 aid stations set up with water. I had brought my Garmin Forerunner 405 with me, but was never able to get a satellite signal, which was the first time that had happened to me and caught me a little of guard. It still let me track time, so I spent most of my race calculating paces and trying to remember the times I hit each mile marker. This ended up being a really great way to keep my mind off the inclines, and to not play the “it’s already been a mile, right?” game.

run for the seals course

The inclines started at the end of the first mile, with another at just after a mile and a half.

Run for the seals course and elevation

I don’t do very much hill training, so my main goal was to try to keep a steady pace up the inclines and avoid walking. I did a great job at that, but I paid for it in Mile 3 when things evened out and I took a walk break.

Mile 1: 11:26

Mile 2: 11:00

Mile 3: 12:14

I know I told myself before I started that I wouldn’t worry about racing and focus more on enjoying it, but once you’re out there on the course it’s hard not to push yourself. I was a little disappointed by the walking, but when I realized that the last quarter-mile to the finish line was all uphill I was glad I took the break!

Mile 4: 12:06 – no walk break, but slow on the last quarter-mile that had about a 100ft elevation gain. I don’t know if that’s a lot but it felt like a lot!

After we crossed the finished line, we snagged a few oranges and made our way to pick up our race shirt and bag.

run for the seals t-shirt and bag

How cute is that shirt? Do you see that guy yawning? I really love when events give technical t-shirts, but I can’t hate on this cotton one at all. The money they save on shirts is more than made up for by the food they provide. Whole Foods was one of the sponsors, and they put out some great post-race fuel.

Whole Foods Run for the Seals

All those baked goods? Those are baked by the employees/volunteers of the Marine Mammal Center. How cool is that?

end of race, elephant seal

We stopped for a quick photo op with an eligible bachelor, and then wandered around the center. I mentioned before that I used to volunteer here. Being back brought back lots of memories of tubing and boarding, and I’m so grateful for the time I had here.

The Marine Mammal Center currently has an art exhibit up in their main courtyard area, called The Ghost Below.

The Ghost Below Marine Mammal Center

This “monster” is composed of ghost nets, nets used for fishing that get lost in the ocean one way or another. The nets float at various levels in the ocean and are hard to see in the deep, dark water, making it easy for sea-life to get entangled. The nets used to create this monster were found in the stomach of a dead sperm whale; it had consumed more than 450 lbs of net and trash! How crazy is that?! For more information check out

We ended our day with a walk on the beach. The sun had come out, and the views were gorgeous.

Marin HeadlandsMarin HeadlandsNext year’s Run for the Seals will be the 30th anniversary, and I’m looking forward to running the course again!

Always, Sierra

Have you been to the Marine Mammal Center? What’d you think?

Have you Run for the Seals?


Race Recap: See Jane Run 5K

If you remember from here, my goal for the See Jane Run 5K this past Saturday was to get under 35 minutes…and I did it! Hello, PR!

Final results: 32:59, 10:37 min/mile

Age group: 73/184

Female: 463/1,573

I dropped by the race expo Friday evening to pick up my race packet.


This was my first race expo and I was eager to check it out. A bit on the smaller side, they still had lots of fun booths to explore. Tri Sports Jewelry and Apparel had some shirts I fell in love with.

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The motivational quotes See Jane Run had sprinkled around were also a nice touch.

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I was in and out of the expo pretty quickly and onto other important things…like carb loading!


With a start time of 8:30 a.m., I woke up Saturday around 6 and had plenty of time to nom on a whole wheat english muffin with almond butter and half a banana. I picked up Y around 7:15, and we didn’t have too much of a struggle with street parking even though it was pretty close to start time.

We started warming up just as the half marathoners took off. Thanks to ample porta potties (at the start and finish), we made a trip through the lines relatively quickly, and snapped a pic.


And then it was time to start!

Although the 5K had a start time of 8:30 a.m., they had us line up in waves so we wouldn’t trample each other like wildebeests. The first wave (closest to the start) was anyone under a 9 minute mile, the second wave was a 9-12 minute mile, and the third was a 12+ minute mile. The waves were pretty loosely defined, and I was impressed by how orderly we all were. Each wave started about two minutes apart, and I felt like it helped to reduce stampeding.


I took off with the second wave, and of course I went out too fast. I was excited! And it didn’t feel fast! At first. I managed to slow my roll and rein it in a little after the first mile, but that was mostly due to how hot it was and not so much because I showed self-control. When I finished it was 66°F! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I was feeling it.

I picked up the pace with about a half mile to go and pushed hard to the finish line. I’m pretty proud of that and was excited to see that 5Kers got a medal too. My first race medal! It’s tiny but I love it.


I’ve been struggling between being proud of pushing hard to meet my goals, and disappointed that I’m still what I consider slow. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. I would never tell a friend, “Good job finishing, but your time’s not that great compared to the other 72 people ahead of you”, and yet that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

And then thanks to the powers that be, last night I came across the Mental Muscle article in the new Runner’s World.

Runner's World, Mental Muscle

Really, the only person I’m comparing myself to is me. Considering my last 5K time was 42:16, I don’t have a lot to be disappointed about. It took hard work to come this far, and I’m not afraid of the hard work it’ll take to keep improving (and step up my mental game!). I’ve got a hunger to keep chipping away at that pace. Until I get there, I’m celebrating this PR! I earned it!

A quick shout out to Y, who absolutely nailed it and got 5th in her age group! So proud of her!


And also congratulations to A for finishing her first 5K, even if she did get have to battle pink string near the finish line.

Overall, the event was well-organized, and the swag (chocolate and champagne) was delicious. I did think they could have used better signage to point out where the “goody bags” were at the end of the race. They were handing them out in a tucked away corner, and a lot of people were juggling all their swag in their hands cuz they hadn’t seen where the bags were. We didn’t check any of our stuff in the bag check, but I didn’t hear any complaints and the system looked pretty efficient. I’d definitely run a See Jane Run race again, maybe the half marathon next year?!

Always, Sierra

How was your weekend?

How do you keep your head in the game and avoid comparing your performance to others?