Moms RUN San Jose

For Moms who run, by Moms who run…Moms RUN this Town!

Making a Dream a Reality by Judie W.

My Ironman Race Experience…The weekend started on Thursday when Aleks and I went up to Windsor to check in.  I was so glad to be there with someone else as it was all a bit overwhelming.  We drove up in the morning and got our race numbers, all the gear bags and a very lovely Ironman Vineman backpack to put it all in.  After having a quick browse around the pretty small expo, we went to the athlete briefing.  As always, the briefing was anything but brief but it was good to get the information and actually feel like this was going to happen.  Then after a quick stop for food, we drove back to San Jose.

On Thursday night my kids had decorated my gear bags so I could find them easily and then I packed up all the stuff I needed for the race.  Friday morning I set off for the real deal.  I drove straight to the bike drop off.  The traffic was complete carnage with everyone trying to drop their bikes off and have a look at the river for the swim.

After dropping my bike I wanted to drive the bike course just to get a bit of a feel for it.  I’m really glad I did as it gave me a bit of confidence for the next day.  The course was marked really well and I didn’t get lost driving, so could see that I wouldn’t get lost during the actual race.  The hills didn’t seem too dreadful, either up or down.

My drive took me to the high school where I dropped off my run gear bag.  This was where I made the most mistakes.  I forgot to put in my running sunglasses, food for the run and a bottle of Nuun but these all turned out fine in the end really.  After dropping off my run bag, I checked into my hotel, had dinner, just chilled out for the evening and tried to get some sleep.

I woke up at 3am on Saturday morning.  My alarm was set for 4 but I just couldn’t get back to sleep.  So I had my breakfast, put on my swim clothes and warm clothes over the top and went downstairs.  The hotel had moved their complimentary breakfast earlier so it started at 4!  I had thought that there was a shuttle from the High School (the finish area) to the swim start but there wasn’t, so I thought I would have to drive to the swim start, leave my car there all day then get the shuttle (there was one afterwards) back to get it after the race.  That didn’t sound too appealing, so I was cheeky and when some people got up from breakfast to leave, I asked them if they had room for me in their car.  Luckily they did and I got a lift with some very nice people to the start.

The swim was utter carnage.  Firstly the river is very shallow in a few places – so much so that my hand was scraping across the floor as I swam.  Lots of people opted just to get up and walk instead.  This caused a few problems because the walkers were slower than the swimmers so were just in the way.  Secondly though, people were just really aggressive.  There was lots of pushing and shoving – me also after a while!  It was just hard to find space to swim.  My swim time was 1:18.  My aim was to be out of transition by 1hr 30, so I am pleased with this time.  If I do another Ironman, I’d line up with the 1:10-1:20 people rather than 1:20-1:30 and hopefully it would be a bit easier to swim properly rather than trying to do lots of overtaking.

Transition was really funny.  You get out the water and there are people there to get your wetsuit off.  So I just had to sit on the mat and someone pulled and pulled!  Then I found my beautifully decorated gear bag and went to the women’s changing tent.  It was such a fun atmosphere in there.  We were all smiling and telling stories of our epic swim, but also trying to get ready for the bike.

On the way out of transition, I saw Aleks.  She had done a faster swim but slower transition so we got our bikes at the same time.  She raced off to do a fabulous bike split.  And I was off on the bike.  The first half went really well.  I was fast and confident.  It is quite a hilly course – not big scary hills but just rolling constant ones.

The second half was when the tiredness kicked in.  By mile 70 (nope, still can’t get over the incredible distances!) I was seriously flagging and by mile 80 I decided I had to give myself a break.  I told myself just to sit up and go slow for a while just to get some strength back.  It worked and by the nastiest section of the course – mile 95-100 – I felt much better.

The bike was really fun.  Lots of people overtook me as I’m on the slower side but I also overtook quite a few people.  There would be sections where I’d overtake someone on an uphill, they’d overtake me going downhill and we’d continue that for a while.  There was a guy in a blue shirt that I think I passed about 8 times and another guy with a black aero helmet that kept passing me but I don’t remember me overtaking him!  He probably stopped at more aid stations or something.  Then there were other people like the girl in the patterned dress and the woman with the pink bike.  After a couple of to and fro’s we would have a quick chat on the way past each time.  It was a fun atmosphere.

The last few miles of the bike were really just a slog.  After the hill just before 100, it was just trying to pick off each mile until I got to transition.  The second transition was similar to the first.  Someone took my bike off me and I got my run gear bag and went into the tent.  I think I took about 10 minutes that time and then it was off on the run.

The run course was 3 loops of an out and back, which was really great.  It broke it up into really manageable sections.  Each was about 4 miles – just a neighborhood run with Darlene and Sarah.  The course was also mainly rolling hills and the secret of Ironman seems to be that almost no-one runs the whole thing.  So I walked through the aid stations and many of the hills.

The first lap was probably the hardest as it felt like there was just so far to go and my legs were completely dead after the bike.  I saw Aleks on the start of my second lap and end of her second.  She was doing great and seeing her gave me a huge boost.  She overtook me near the end of my second lap, when she had just a mile or so to go.  She was running with her husband and looked so strong!

The second lap was when they brought out the chicken bouillion.  This is famed in Ironman as being the best pick-up in the world, and they were right.  It was like nectar.  It is just really salty, warm broth – exactly what you need during the run.  My second lap was pretty uneventful but at the end of it, I got my run special needs bag.  The volunteers thought I was really funny because I put all the contents in the trash and kept the bag – my daughter had decorated it and as we weren’t getting the special needs bags back, I wanted to keep it.  (I also kept my bike special needs bag.)

The run was a lot quieter than the bike.  People were friendly but not really chatty.  We were all just in our own spaces trying to get it done.  I did pass a guy who was 75 – I think he was the oldest I saw.  He was very chatty and had lots of advice.  This wasn’t his first Ironman.  (We all have our ages written on our left calf so it was easy to see how old people are.)

Then near the end, I was walking and trying to keep up with another woman who was also walking.  She was really fast so I couldn’t catch her until I started running again.  She was only on her second lap and had to walk fast just to make the cut-off.  I felt so dreadful for her as it didn’t look like she was going to make it, but I really hope she did.  That was the worst thing about the final bit of the run – seeing people going out on their final lap and not being sure if they would make the cut off.

The third lap was when it started to get dark.  Going out was ok but coming back I really wished I had a head torch.  I think I lost a bit of time because I just couldn’t see and was more wary of where I was putting my feet.  Just after mile 23, my watch alarm went off.  (I have a daily alarm at 9:15pm to tell me to go to sleep.)  I realized that if I pushed it, I could go under 15 hours.  My goals before the race were first to finish the bike under the cut-off, next to finish the run under 17 hours and finally to finish under 16 hours.  Under 15 just didn’t seem possible.   But when my alarm went off, I knew I could do it if I just pushed.  So I did!  I know my time for the final lap was the slowest but I did push my hardest for it.  My marathon time was only 20 minutes longer than my marathon personal best!  (That’s definitely something I’ll need to do some work on.)

And then you get to the turnaround where it says finish one way, more laps another way.  There was another 5 minutes of running after that but you don’t know that – you just have to keep going.  You feel all happy because you have done all the laps but you still have to keep pushing and I had no idea how far I had to go because they didn’t have a marker for 26 miles.  Keeping myself going for those minutes was so hard.  I just wanted to walk or sit down but of course I didn’t and kept on running.  Going through the finish chute is surreal.  I have dreamed for so long about it and it really didn’t disappoint.  The announcer says “Judie Wilcox, you are an Ironman!” and you run through massive floodlights so you can’t really see anything.

I didn’t know what my finish time was until much later.  I did check my watch and knew I’d finished under 15 hours – woo hoo! But I didn’t know any more than that as I didn’t have my phone to look it up.  With the rolling swim start it is hard to know exactly and the finish clock showed the time from the elite start.  To be honest, I didn’t really care much about anything just that I had finished.

After the race I went to the food area and got pizza.  I don’t eat pizza usually but I figured that I didn’t really care.  It was perfect!  Once I got my morning clothes bag back I wanted to put my warm-up pants back on.  I think that was one of the hardest parts of the day!  I must have looked so funny trying to get them on but it was so hard getting my legs high enough!  Aleks’ husband had picked up my bike and other gear bags.  We had to pick up our bikes by midnight and seeing as I wasn’t expecting to finish until near to midnight, knowing that someone else was collecting my bike took a huge weight off my mind.  Thank you Nikolai.

Then I had to walk back to my hotel.  It took about 30 mins and was good to keep my legs moving.  The only problem was that I didn’t actually know how to get there so I had to ask at the info desk.  The lovely volunteer there looked it up on her phone for me.

Once back, I had a shower.  That’s when I find all the places that have chafed because they sting as the water hits them.  My heart rate monitor and bra were the main culprits.  I have another nasty welt on my back from the bra clasps but as that happens during most of my long runs, I wasn’t surprised.  My little toes are just big blisters but other than that, I’m relatively ok.  My legs are completely beaten up obviously and my arms are tired.

Sunday was the athlete celebration banquet and awards ceremony.  More importantly I could now to go the shop and buy all the things that I couldn’t bring myself to buy before.  I wanted a 140.6 sticker for my car.  I wanted a t-shirt.  I would have bought pretty much anything that says I am an Ironman.  In the end I bought a lovely hoodie and a few other bits and pieces.  The breakfast was really good, healthy food but I just wanted a proper breakfast, so after I picked up my bike from Aleks, I went back to my hotel and ate properly!

It was a truly amazing experience.  I’m not sure I’ll do it again any time soon as the training was brutal but once the kids are busy with their own lives, maybe I will.  The woman who I drove to the swim start with is in her 60’s and just did her 7th Ironman, so there is still time.

The thing to take away from this whole thing is that you can do it.  I have no idea what your “it” is, but I know you can do it.  Whatever “it” is, find out what you need to do to get there.  You might need to train to even get to the start of the training plan – I did!  But have that goal and work for it.  Always have your goal in your mind and every day do something towards it.  That might be training but that also might be resting and recovering.  It might take you a long time to reach your goal but I know you can do it, because I did. I am an Ironman!!



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Why I Run by Danalisa C-G.

Ok about me:  I’m 38. Married to my high school sweetheart for 16 years. We have three boys: Owen (9), Aidan (7), Ethan (6).  I’m originally a NJ girl but have moved 12 times since marrying my hubby.  We’ve lived in NJ, NY, WA, England, Ireland and now CA.  I love to travel, read, knit/crochet, sing and of course RUN!

Why do you run? I run for me. I run to clear my head. I run to quiet my crazy thoughts. I run to be fit. I run to feel strong. I run to challenge myself. I run for those who can’t. I run to be social. I run because I can. 

How long have you been a runner? I was always a team sport gal but I hated running. While living in Ireland I started trying to run as a way to get back my body in-between babies at a time in our life when we couldn’t afford a gym. It was easy to go out the door and pound the pavement than try to fit in other workouts. That was 9 years ago. 

Before you leave for a run you must have? My phone/apple watch, running belt, a piece of gum, sometimes headphones and usually my sunglasses.

Describe your relationship with running in one word? Necessary!

Best run ever? My first marathon in November 2015 was as perfect as they get. I loved every moment of it (well almost every minute). I was well prepared, uninjured and the Revel Races are well organized. I thought I would do it once and be done but I’m plotting my next one. 😉

If you could recommend any running related item to a new runner it would be? A good pair of shoes makes all the difference and is worth the money. 

When not going on a run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? I’m obsessed with Body-pump class and go twice a week. I walk my dog every day. I used to swim regularly and I am hoping to get back into that again.

Worst injury and how you got over it? I have been lucky not to have any significant injuries only minor ailments.  But, I did really struggle with my stomach not feeling well after a long run and I spent a lot of time reading and learning about nutrition in order to fuel myself well and feel better after running. It’s an ongoing lesson that has made me love cooking and feel worlds better all the time.

What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to go for a run? I don’t lack motivation. I’m always ready to feel the burn but I struggle in the summer with getting the time while my kids are home from school. So we have to get creative and use the gym childcare or a playground loop.

When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting? That I have likely done longer than this before so just keep going. Also good tunes can really motivate me.

My favorite thing about running? The people I have met who challenge me and encourage me. Fellow runners are the best!

I felt most like a BadA$$ Mother Runner when? My husband and kids met me on the training course for my 19 and 20 mile training runs to replenish my water/snacks with signs of support. They were a great support and seeing my kids’ faces in awe of what I was working so hard to achieve was the best motivation.

Do you use a Garmin or have a favorite App to track your runs? I use Runtastic and I run with an apple watch.  I used to have a Garmin but once I went apple I’ve never looked back.

Favorite brand of running shoes? Brooks – Run Happy  and I just bought my first Hoka trail shoes.

Favorite races? Revel Race Series, Rock and Roll Dublin , Brazen, Presidio 10

Favorite running partner? In Ireland I was one of the founders of our running group for women, Sloggers to Joggers.  I made some of my best run friends in that group.  I’m only new to MRTT and the Bay Area but Anusha has been my right hand girl for running long on the weekends.  She makes me smile and I love her enthusiasm and positive spirit.

Do you have a running idol? Lots of other mothers inspire me but I’m not a sports fan who watched races or anything like that.

If you gave someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be? Run your own race. There are a lot of applications for that advice..let’s go for a run and we can discuss it =)

Running goals for 2016? To build more strength in the gym which will support me training for a second marathon in 2017.

What do you love about MRTT? The inspiration of other mammas. The instant connection with ladies from all walks of life over a common joy.


















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Why do I Run….by Alejandra C.

Alejandra has been running since 2011 and she joined MRTT in the spring of 2014. She is a mother of two boys: ages 10 and 6. She works for a local nonprofit that is working on issues around homelessness in Santa Clara County.

Why do you run? I initially began running as a way to keep off some weight and get moving. The sad reality is that high-school P.E. was the last time I had really been active until I started running in my mid-30s. I wanted to start exercising to capitalize on some of the weight-loss I had experienced after nursing my boys. After they had been weaned, I thought if I want to keep this weight off I better start moving! That goal happened to coincide with my sister’s idea to run the Urban Cow 5k in Sacramento. After crossing that finish line for the first time, I was hooked!

How long have you been a runner?  I still feel like a relatively new runner. The first time I stepped on a treadmill was in 2011 and I was running 3 miles.  It was in January 2013, that I reached a new mile-stone of running 6 miles outside when I was training for my first half-marathon.  

Before you leave for a run you must have?  I must have my Garmin (a gift from my husband on our 10th wedding anniversary. He knows the way to my heart!). If it’s a long distance, I must have GU and water. 

Describe your relationship with running in one word? Dependent 

Best run ever?  My first (hopefully, not last) marathon in April 2015 when I ran Big Sur. It was amazing to push through the infamous wall at about mile 22/23 (it is still fuzzy) and come out on the other end.  It is hard to put into words what my legs were experiencing at that point during the marathon, when all I wanted to do was walk. Please, I just want to walk?! It is incredibly empowering to get to the point where it is no longer your legs that are carrying you forward – you are running with your heart and your mind. That is the power of the marathon. If you can commit to the training and enjoy running, I highly recommend that you sign up for a marathon.  

If you could recommend any running related item to a new runner it would be? I would say you must get fitted for shoes!  

When not going on a run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? I don’t 😦 but this is a goal of mine for 2016.  

Worst injury and how you got over it?  Praise the Lord, I haven’t had any injuries. While I was training for my marathon, I did experience some plantar fasciitis. But I changed shoes and my right foot became best friends with a Sponge Bob golf ball. Things have been good in the ‘hood ever since. 

What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to go for a run?  Lately, it has been meeting my friends to go running. They are a great inspiration to go to sleep early (I don’t want to miss the alarm) and meet for a run before the sun even rises. That is the funny thing about running it has brought about many life-changing habits. Years ago if you had told me that I would no longer be sleeping in on Saturdays (as much as a mom can sleep in anyway) or that I would be setting my alarm to wake me up a time that starts with a 4 – I would have called you crazy!  

When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting?  During a race, it’s the desire to set a new PR.

My favorite thing about running? Oh, there are so many things to love about running. I could write an entire blog post on this topic alone.  Running has taught me that age really is just a number because I am running distances now that I would have laughed at as a teenager. You want me to run how many miles?!  I love the joy that it has brought to my life now that exercise is a part of my life-style. Better late than never, but I do wish I had discovered the benefits of running when I was a brand new mom.  Exercise would have helped me tremendously during those early years. Last but not least, I love the new friendships it has brought to my life through MRTT.  It has been such a gift to meet other moms who share my love for running!  

I felt most like a BadA$$ Mother Runner when? I finished my first marathon at Big Sur in April 2015.

Do you use a Garmin or have a favorite App to track your runs? I use a Garmin watch and I’m also on Runkeeper.  

Favorite brand of running shoes?  Right now I am really loving my Adidas Ultra Boost. They feel really light and it almost feels like you’re wearing socks with great soles, of course.

Favorite races?  The Santa Cruz Half-Marathon is one of my favorites because it was my first half-marathon in 2013.  I ran this race with a group from my church as a way to raise funds for a church we’re working with in Nicaragua. I returned to this race in 2014 to accompany my hubby on his first half-marathon.  

Do you have a running idol?  Nadia Ruiz is pretty amazing and I was so excited to meet her at the SJ Rock ‘n’ Roll expo last year! She’s the youngest Latina to have reached the distinction of running 100 marathons. She inspired me to start my own wall of race bibs 🙂 .

If you gave someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be?  Start!

Running goals for 2016? I would like to begin lifting weights and cross-training. I hope that saying it here helps keep me accountable. God willing, I’ll also be completing my 2nd half-marathon in New York City!  I am beyond excited to have gotten into this marathon through the lottery.

What do you love about MRTT?  I love the encouragement and inspiration from the other mamas. I feel quite blessed to have found this group.  I find it inspiring to see the posts from other moms that are also getting out there.  I have made some dear friends through this group that have introduced me to new wonderful trails and got me to sign up for my very first trail half-marathon at Summit Rock. I continue to meet fabulous mamas!  

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Reflections – Big Sur International Marathon

The Story of my 1st Marathon – Big Sur, April 2015  Guest post by Alejandra Chavez

I went to bed around 9pm the night before and got up a couple of times as I always seem to do before race-day.  But then eventually, one of the times I looked at my phone and it was almost 3:20am — it was time to get up! The shuttle would be picking me up at the hotel at 4am. I thought it was a great sign when the bus that I got on was a Pajaro Valley Unified School District bus (the school district I attended in Watsonville and where my mom currently works).

I tried to nap on the bus, but I could hear the runners around me so I was in and out of sleep. Some of them were making the mistake of paying attention to the route – a big no, no. I looked at my watch when it was finally time to get off the bus – 5:22am. I guess we had been on the bus for awhile.

There was a lot of time spent waiting for the race to start.  However, before I knew it – it was time to start gathering in the corrals. As I was making my way to the corral, I finally saw some familiar MRTT faces in the sea of runners: Wendy, Josephine, and Ann. We exchanged hugs and good wishes.  I made my way towards Star, the 4:45 pacer. When they started to sing the Star Spangled Banner, I remember closing my eyes and just having a moment – wow! I’m really doing this! I was already feeling overwhelmed and I began to cry tears of joy. It was crazy to think that I was taking on my first marathon.

I had everything I needed for race day, including prayer cards that sweet Maria Trees made for me, 1 bible verse for every mile. Eventually it was go time!  The first 2 miles seem to fly by and they felt nice. I remember small groups of people along those early miles – near the Big Sur campgrounds. They came out to cheer us on.  There was an older woman who was out in her bathrobe playing her guitar and singing a cheezy song.

I was in a happy place those first few miles. One of the most memorable moments came when we turned a corner after mile 9 and we got our first glimpse of Hurricane Point. It was a sight to behold, not because of the incline but for its sheer magnificence and beauty. It was breathtaking.  You had Hurricane Point in the distance and you could see the Taiko drummers at the bottom. I was still in a happy place and honestly wasn’t that scared of Hurricane Point. Our pacer did a great job of getting us up that hill by running for 2 mins/walking 1 minute. The whole time we were going up I channeled my time on the switchbacks at Rancho. I drew on that training and pretended that I was just back at the switchbacks with Patti, Suki, & Monica during one our regular runs. This made it so much more do-able.  And then we came to the Bixby Bridge which was another magical moment, with a gentleman playing the piano on the side of Highway 1!

Runners crossing a Bridge

Running Bixby Bridge

The first 14 miles felt awesome! I was feeling great and really enjoying the experience, the scenery, everything.  I was feeling so good that I wondered, should I try and go faster? But everyone had warned me about those hills!  I couldn’t break away yet. At that point I thought, maybe I can speed up at mile 20 (ha, ha, ha).

It was after we had crossed the half-way mark that my legs probably felt the consequences of Hurricane Point.  Even though  I felt fine going up, they were starting to get a bit tired. Sometime during mile 15 I decided to put in the headphones and listen to my music.  The music helped and I started to get lost in the miles. I made mistake of choosing an old playlist, but it created quite a moment as Florence & The Machine’s Dog Days came on. As the chorus came on I reflected on how the dog/or dark days are over for me – the old me that wasn’t exercising and didn’t have as much joy in her life – she is gone. That life is gone.  I cried tears of joy as I thought about all the changes that had taken place and now here I am – running a friggin’ marathon!

At mile 20, I was still hanging in there.  I remember a little girl on the sidelines saying “only 6 more miles to go!” 6 miles actually didn’t sound that bad.  It was at mile 21 that things got a bit hazy.  I hit the wall somewhere around mile 22/23. It is hard to put into words what my legs were experiencing at that point, when all I wanted to do was walk. Please can we just walk?!  Legs…..are…….tired.  At mile 23, my legs were so ready to part ways with our pacer, Star.

But I couldn’t leave Star, the pacer, who became my running coach. She kept us entertained during the early miles with pacing stories and now she was proving to be a heaven-sent running coach. I needed her words of encouragement: She told us that we had the strength within us, to believe in ourselves, and that this was the day we got to cash in on all of the months of training. She told us to think about our loved ones waiting for us at the finish line who believed we could do this and to draw on their strength. I had to stay with her! And I did think about my friends and family who believed I could do this, when I was not even fully convinced.  My mind said you have to stay with Star – you  have been with her for too long to quit now and her words are helping! You can still finish this race in 4:45.

Alejandra and pacer Star

Alejandra with pacer Star


When I saw the 25 mile marker – I thought OMG I’m at mile 25 and OMG there’s another hill!!! But after I climbed that hill I finally felt like I could break away from Star and pick up the pace. It was UNBELIEVABLE to see the finish line. And when the finish line was near I could hear my son, “Mommy! Mommy!” I caught a glimpse of my family and blew a kiss.

It was amazing to cross the finish line, to have powered through the pain, to come out on the other side and to know I had not quit.  It is incredibly empowering to get to the point where it is no longer your legs carrying you forward – you are running with your heart and your mind. You come into contact with a strength and power that had always been within you, but that you’d never tapped into before.  That is the power of the marathon.

God willing, I’ll get to have a new 26.2 journey as I take on the NYC Marathon this fall.

About the Author: Alejandra has been running since 2011 and she joined MRTT in the spring of 2014. She is a mother of two boys: ages 10 and 6. She works for a local nonprofit that is working on issues around homelessness in Santa Clara County.

Alejandra Big Sur Finish

Run a Marathon – CHECK!

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