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?


Tomatoes and Sea Lions and Hills, oh my!

Omg guys, look at the size of my tomatoes!

home grown tomatoes

This is the first time I’ve been part of planting a garden, and I’ve never been so excited to see ripe tomatoes in my life. The big one in the front tasted like candy…sweet, juicy tomato candy. There’s even a tiny eggplant growing back there in that tangle of greenness! I think I’m ready for 50 acres and a plow.

I’m also ready for my next race…Run for the Seals 2013!

run for the seals 2013

The race is August 17th and there’s a 2 mile fun run/walk or a 4 mile run. A couple of years ago I did the 2 mile fun run/walk with my girls Y and A. I showed up in jeans and hiking boots with a chihuahua in tow.

Run for the Seals 2010

The course was gorgeous, and we had a great time dog and costume watching. This year, Y and I signed up for the 4 mile run. Being in the Marin headlands, I’m expecting the course to be on the hilly side. The website also says it’ll be a self-timed event, i.e. no chips, so this run’ll be more for fun and less about PR city.

Run for the Seals is a fundraising even to benefit The Marine Mammal Center, a great organization that helps rehabilitate and re-release sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals. I volunteered there a few years ago, and it was extremely rewarding and extremely smelly.


Some of the animals that came in were in heart-breaking condition. This is Abagnale, a sea lion who got entangled in fishing line, and one of the success stories. He eluded rescuers for almost three weeks, but we were eventually able to rescue him, rehab him at the center, and release him back into the wild. It was an awesome experience.

There’s more information about the Marine Mammal Center here, and more information about the race here. Come out and Run for the Seals!

Always, Sierra

Are you running for the seals?

Do you have a vegetable garden? Are you more green thumb or more black thumb? Truth be told, I’m more black thumb. I always forget to water stuff!

Anybody know what I can do with green, unripe tomatoes that fell off the vine?