BIG BEAR Marathon!!!

(Tank (similar but mine was old) shorts, shoes, brasocks, ear warmer)

Before we get into the race details, I thought I would share a few reasons why I wanted to run this marathon… (I felt like I had more in me after some time off after St. George and started the search):

*It fell exactly at my favorite place in my cycle to run.  For St. George (and CIM would have been the same), I was running during my least favorite place in my cycle to run (just a day or two before my period starts).  I have my best races at this point in my cycle. PS if anyone wants to transfer my CIM bib, let me know!

*Some of my favorite girls were planning on racing it, and I was excited to do it with them.

*I love downhill running and I just wanted to go do it because I enjoy doing it.  I wanted to see what was possible on this downhill of a course for me.   I didn’t run in college (or high school!), I’m just a mom that is very passionate about running and especially the marathon.   If a course is calling my name, I will follow even though it was just 6 weeks after St. George.  VERY thankful for my coach figuring out a way to get me back out there and a quick turnaround!  Definitely making my friend coach me forever.  

*It worked with our family’s schedule.  For CIM, Andrew would have had to get work off and we wouldn’t have been able to leave until the day before the race because of the kid’s schedules.  Big Bear felt like a fun little getaway for us in the mountains!

*My friend ran a 2:35 at Big Bear in 2021 and then a 2:33 in Chicago this year.  She said that the fast splits at Big Bear helped her to see it was possible and gave her the confidence to then go do it at Chicago!

*IT IS COLD.  After a hot marathon, I was more than excited to run in freezing temperatures.

*I’m just so grateful Andrew supports my crazy plans.  I never would have imagined having found someone like Andrew.  He is so good to me in every aspect.  

We drove to Big Bear on Thursday afternoon.  We wanted to turn the weekend into a little vacation for our family with a minor interruption for a race;).  I bought the bus pass to take from Big Bear to the starting line (just a 30-minute ride) and also paid to pick up my bib at the starting line so we didn’t have to go to the expo that was an hour away.  I didn’t want the crew to feel like it was all about a race, and that we could get in lots of quality time.  I’ll do a full post on what we did in Big Bear tomorrow!

I woke up at 3:20 in the morning after about 5.5 hours of sleep and only one kid woke us up that night.  I took a shower (I love doing this before a race to help wake me up).  I had two packets of oatmeal and a banana before heading to the busses.  We stayed at the cutest cabin that was right by where the busses pick you up in Big Bear.  They had the really nice busses for us and we left the parking lot at 4:41 am (11 minutes late which is also how late the race started).  

I was feeling a little nervous about getting my bib at the starting line and not having enough time but it was the easiest thing ever.  They handed me my bib and I used the restrooms and then met up with my friends.  It was about 25 degrees at this point and I was thankful for the emergency blanket they had for us in the bags, it helped so much.

Beth had two very important things for me.  She had this pacing bracelet for me with my goal time (which I stuck to pretty much like glue ((the same splits my coach gave me)) and it made it so fun to look at each mile along the way… the last four miles I just went into survival mode and didn’t look at my watch or pacing chart) and Imodium.  TMI TIME (skip ahead if you would like ha but we are all runners)… Friday afternoon I started having major gastrointestinal issues.  I must have eaten something bad but I was nervous and it didn’t enjoy the situation ha.  I was also having major problems Saturday morning and while Imodium makes me feel nauseated, I would choose nausea over having to stop ten times during the race.  I am SO grateful she had that for me because I don’t know what I would have done.   

There was snow on the sides of the road!  It was nice and light by the time we started and everyone was so friendly while we waited for the race to start.  

We went out and I was the first female (for the first 25 miles).  A few men passed me and I passed a few men but that is about it for 25 miles.  The man biking with me for those 25 miles (for the lead woman) was beyond incredible.  I kept telling him thank you along the way.  He let me know when there was ice coming up and to go around it, he told any spectators along the way to cheer for me or to make some space, he was just the best.  

The first 9 miles include some pretty steep but short up.  They keep your legs guessing and reminding you to be smart but overall you drop 5k feet over the entire course of this marathon.  SO much down.  Once I got to mile 9, I was so excited to get to cruise down the rest of the way without any more up.   I was hitting my splits and my feet warmed up at mile 5 which was nice.  Taking water in the first few miles felt like it froze on the way down but I will take that ANY day over temps above 50 degrees ha.  I took off my arm warmers, gloves and earwarmer (the biker held onto it for me until after the race!) and the temperatures were pure heaven.  

There were two points where my nausea got so bad that I truly thought I needed to quit because I felt so sick.  I told myself over and over again that the feelings change in a marathon.  Things will change.  EVERYTHING else was going perfectly, I could handle nausea… that wasn’t going to stop me.  And at both points it did go away after about a mile (I felt nauseated most of the race but those points were low)!

At the half-way point I put in my music (first marathon with music in a long time) and it perked me up a lot.  If I do this race again I will bring sunglasses because there were some miles that the sun was pretty bright but for the majority, we were in the shade. 

Miles were clicking by, some felt better than others but while the downhill makes it easy to run fast aerobically, my muscles were feeling it to the core from all of the pounding (some of the miles you drop 300 ft so pretty steep).  

Andrew was pretty sure he would only be able to see me at the end because of how the canyon is shut down to just one lane heading up but he was able to get everyone to mile 23 too!  It made me tear up because I was so happy to see them.

The final 10k you are still going downhill but it gets less with each mile.  I told myself to tighten up (my arms naturally swing all over the place) which helped me to switch up my form and offered relief to some of my leg muscles that were really hurting and recruite new muscles.

I brought a small bottle that fit in my shorts of gatorade that I sipped on throughout the marathon and took water from every aid station.  They offered Nuun at the aid stations which I had never tried during a run so I didn’t want to start trying it during the race.   I did pour a few cups of cold Nuun all over my head though ha.  It wasn’t hot in the final miles but it just felt refreshing to pour something on my head (I thought it was water but it wasn’t ha).

At mile 25 (maybe a bit before) a woman came by that looked sooo strong.  She was crushing it and motioned for me to come with her which I thought was so cool.  Of course, it isn’t fun getting passed so late in a race when you have led it for so long but I knew I was giving everything I had and I was proud of that.   She finished in 2:39 and I finished in 2:40 followed after by one of my friends there.  The top 3 were all from Utah!

I got to the end and just sat on the ground because my legs were beyond done.  I crawled over to a chair and sat there for a few minutes trying to get going again. 

A few minutes later and I was on cloud 9:

Especially when Andrew gave me lip gloss.  That felt too good.

I love this painful running stuff so much. I think we know when we sign up for a race we are signing up for growth.  We get to learn so much about who we are during a race.  We get a peak into our own psychology and the chance to learn how to push ourselves into doing hard things.  I love it because in a physically comfortable world that I have (a warm house, a car, a husband that gives me foot massages often;), I get to test how far I can go into pain without giving up.  I just love it.


AMAZING CREW from Utah. Beth (next to me) is someone I have known since I was 12 years old! Each of these women inspire me so much and I can’t wait to train for Boston with them.
Donuts and beer at the end of the race FYI (they let me have another donut with my beer ticket):
Here’s my watch! I definitely could have run the tangents better if there wasn’t ice spots in the first half but my goal was an overall 6:04 or 6:05 average pace and I did that–> first half was a 6:10 average on my Garmin, second half was a 6:00 average. Race results have me at a 6:07 average pace if I would have run the course perfectly.

Medal Monday and last race of the year! It wasn’t until Amazon reached out to me about doing Boston earlier this year that I really caught the marathon bug again and I am so grateful they did because it has been a really fun year. Time for a break–> REST, Peloton, easy running and strength training for a while!
A few more random things:

*Revel races have it DOWN on how to keep your people informed. I think it sent people that were signed up to follow me like 12 texts along the way and then it also offered real-time following.

*The course was so beautiful. Being in the mountains is my favorite place to be.

*Arm warmers are the best invention (mine were really old otherwise I would link them)… they keep you warm when you need it and they are so easy to take off when you don’t need them.

*It’s a really good feeling when you leave it all out there on the course. Whether we hit our goal times or not, knowing we put it out there and tried is the best feeling.

*I lost ALL basic math skills in those final miles. It’s crazy to me how that happens and your brain just goes into jello. Left foot, right foot on repeat is what I thought most of those final miles.

*I stuck to my Maurtens every 4 miles. One right before the race and then every 4 miles after that. I don’t remember the order of caffeine and normal gels besides taking a caffeine one right before the start.

*I didn’t bring my phone and played music from my watch. It was amazing. I’ll go more into detail about that on Friday.

*Lauren shared the best mental tips with me the day before, I need a whole post to talk about them but one of the things she shared was that when you are really tired, you are still only giving 40% (from David Goggins)… we are capable of so much more and that helped me to keep pushing when things hurt.

*I’m going to be sore for a very long time.

*I didn’t run the day before the race because I just wanted to hang out with the family and we went to the zoo first thing in the morning. I think I really like taking the day off before a marathon.

*My kids took a vote and decided they want me to do this race every year because they loved Big Bear so much.

*Doing a new course scares me (can you tell… I’ve done St. George like 40 times ha) but it was SO fun to see an entirely new spot. I need to do that more often.

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Who else was at Big Bear? Give me your details!

Tell me the best part of your weekend!

Nuun… you like it? What electrolyte drink do you prefer during a race?

This question hurts for me to ask but would you rather have dry lips or dry skin on your face?

-I would rather my face feel dry than my lips.

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51 comments

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Fan-totally-tastic, Janae!!!
Confession: when I saw your marathon post, I checked the marathon calendar and then was able to track you from about 8 miles to the end. It was *really* exciting to watch the pretty much real-time data and see how you were absolutely crushing it.
So glad you were able to turn it into a family getaway, too–incredible of you and Andrew to manage all the logistics (and all the hard effort for you) so that the kids had fun, as well :)
Congratulations!!

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This right here….”I love this painful running stuff so much. I think we know when we sign up for a race we are signing up for growth.” I was thinking about this on my long run yesterday, as I have a marathon looming in a few weeks. I have appreciated this training cycle so much and I think it is because I have incorporated so many other critical pieces into it (meditation/visualization, stretching, lifting, ocean time) and have been consistent with them, as it finally has clicked how integral they all are in getting me to my goal. How truly blessed we are to be able to do this in our lives, may we see it and pass something of value along to others less fortunate.

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I’m so happy for you!! Sounds like an amazing day. That’s INCREDIBLE you lead for majority of the race. You will win a marathon one day, I just know it!

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WOW, congratulations!!! What an amazing race. Really really hoping you are soaking it all in and are super proud, you deserve it!!! I really do believe you have an OTQ in you, and I am rarely wrong about people ;)

Big Bear looks amazing and now I really want to go out there, I am jealous of how close Utah is to California, LOL.

I was just telling my husband this weekend about hearing a psychologist say that we didn’t evolve to have all this comfort so seeking challenging things like distance running makes us much healthier mentally. The idea was that the difficulty and discomfort makes the good stuff that much sweeter and I 100% believe that.

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CONGRATS Janae! You are incredible. And making me want to sign up for marathon #2! :)

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Congrats!!!!! That is an amazing race! I might be biased because I grew up by this city but after hearing your friends times you should run the Chicago marathon!! I’ve been following you for a long time and it has been so cool to see you have the goal of 3 hrs and then once you hit that goal, you are destroying that time with a 240!!

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WOWOWOWOWOW is all I can say. Amazing! You were moving so fast for so long.

Also at long distance tri worlds in Canada in 2017 I poured sports drink over my head during the last 10k of the run, I even said “water?” to the volunteer and they said “gatorade” and I still grabbed it and poured it on my head. Ha.

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Congratulations!!!! This was so so so cool to read and I was pumped for it as soon as I saw your post on Saturday : )
I hate that you felt like you had to explain why you ran it. You are awesome and you have goals and you are doing what is best and most exciting for YOU! It makes me sad that people can be such jerks about it.

I feel like I now understand your desire to not tell anyone about the race just a tiny little bit: I recently joined a super casual running club so I now have 30ish followers on Strava instead of 5. This weekend I ran a half marathon and in September I ran a 50. Before both of them I was SO nervous and freaking out and I couldn’t understand why until I realized I was feeling the pressure of my Strava followers! Which makes no sense because they are the nicest and most supportive people ever. Anyway, long story short, if 30 people can freak me out that much I truly don’t know how you do it and am so impressed with your mental strength!

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Awesome job!!!!! 🙂 I would love a future post on how we best train to lower our heart rates. In races and training, my speed is always limited by accelerated heart rate, not my legs. Would love to hear how you worked your heart up to 6 minute miles for the marathon and your easy runs at 8 minute miles. I’m wanting to get faster and believe this is the key to the puzzle. Thanks!

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Janae, CONGRATULATIONS!! Leading the race for 25 miles and coming in second woman overall—WOW!! You are such an inspiration for giving it your all, no matter what (especially since you had nausea for most of the race—that is a terrible feeling so I am extra impressed that you ran through that!).

As for your question about dry lips or dry face…oh goodness, I’d rather have dry anything over dry lips. :) Dry lips are the worst.

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So amazing!! Congratulations on an incredible race! You are so inspiring. And I am glad the whole family was there and you all had a great time. Isn’t that zoo cute and fun?
Best part about the weekend was watching our oldest son’s football game. They won and are the Midwest Conference Champions for the 2nd year in a row!! So happy for him and the entire team.
Take lots of good recovery time and spend lots of time in the hot tub!

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You write the best race recaps!! Congrats on your amazing time! I can totally relate to what you said about your math skills disappearing late in the race. The same thing always happens to me!

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Congrats!!
First off, I had my husband go back and get my chapstick out of the car right before my marathon last weekend. I couldn’t go that long with dry lips!
Second-did you carb load for this?
C. That was very Keira D’amato of you to poor Nuun on your head.
IV. Any second place prize?
cinq: update us if you think of any more race details!

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Bahahah that is where I sent Andrew first thing! SO much carb loading until my gut was a jerk;). Just trying to be Keira in every way possible. They gave me something for my medal, a certificate and a free race entry next year but that’s all I know! Oh you better believe so many more are coming. Happy Monday, Molly! I really appreciate your friendship!

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Wow!!! Congratulations, Janae! What an amazing race and to run it with nausea?! Thank you for sharing the experience with all of us!
And as a long time reader and a runner who has been trying to apply your push your hips forward tip for running down hills, I must admit that I was looking at my watch yesterday as I ran down a long hill to see if I was anywhere close to the speeds you run…nope! Ha! It must feel like you are flying! Congratulations and enjoy the off days!

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Thank you, Kelly! That means so much! YAY for pushing your hips forward and I am positive you were flying too! Hope your day is a wonderful one:)

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I’m so happy for you. As others have mentioned I believe (and I hope you do too) that you have an OTQ in you too. Do not place limits on your potential you will surprise yourself. You inspire me in some many ways and I’m grateful to you for that. I am going to go after bigger run goals because of you.

The best part of my weekend was running my last long run for CIM and it went really well. I use Nuun during runs and rides, but also during the day so I am not drinking just water all day.

Congratulations again! Take some deserved rest now!

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THANK YOU SO MUCH! That means the world to me to hear that you are going for bigger goals too. YOU HAVE to let me know how CIM goes. I am cheering so loud for you!

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Tailwind or skraatch.

Bear sounds like a very cool race! I might have to put it on the list. Congrats again!! Happy recovery.!!

I also like the part where you said we are only at 40 percent when we think we have given it all. I love how you put your all in for races! I will need to learn to do that lol

Enjoy your down time !!

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You definitely need it on your list! Yes, the 40% thing is such a great change in perspective when you are hurting. Thanks friend, happy Monday!

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Congratulations on your new PR!!! I’d love to get out to the Big Bear area sometime. I wish we could’ve followed along on your journey, but you have to do what’s best for you.

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Thank you so much, Liz! I think you need to do this race, it was so great. And next marathon, I’ll share every detail possible! Have a beautiful day!

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Congratulations on a great race! That is an unreal time!
I’ve read your blog for years and didn’t know til after the race that I was at the same race as you….. but I think I was still in the porta potty line as the gun went off :)

It was my first marathon in 19 years and after having 5 kids :)
I ran 3:16:23 and my goal was 3:30 so I am super excited…. Every muscle in my body hurts but I qualified for Boston at the age of 40! Last time I ran it I was 19 so hopefully I can go back and run it again.

Loved the race recap!

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OH. MY. GOODNESS. Lauren, BIGGEST congrats to you. I am so happy for you and your strength is so admirable. You are BACK and you are going to love Boston so so much. Happy recovering, my quads are dead.

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Lauren, what an inspiration!! Thanks for sharing. I’m such a novice runner (even though I’ve been running on and off for over 10 years, I’ve never done a race!) and getting on in my 30’s, so I love hearing things like this.

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AMAZING as always, Janae! Love following along on your journey!

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Thank you, Kristen! I hope you have the best day!

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So glad you had a good race! Also it’s awesome you
Made it into a family affair. Did you guys drive? (I don’t think I saw if you did/didn’t).

I feel like I would have been scared to slip on the ice higher up. I agree with seeing your legs can move that fast. I haven’t ran a 1:30 half in over a year but it was nice to see my legs could still do that.

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We did drive! It was shorter than we thought. Your legs can still do that, that is for sure and I can’t wait to see what is next for you! Congrats Hollie!

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I was there! I had no idea you were there, but congratulations! That course is hard!! The idea of downhill running to get a fast time is so exciting, but… oh, the pain! I did this last year, and I felt like my legs handled it better than this year. This year, my quads were already screaming at me by mile 11, and the last 3 miles were REALLY tough. I wanted to stop and walk, but I was afraid I would fall over if I stopped running! I still got a pr of 3:11:01, but 2:40 is absolutely incredible and mind boggling! Congratulations!!! Ps.. I was soo happy to have a hotel room on the 1st floor! I won’t be able to do stairs for a week

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CONGRATS ADRIENNE!!! I wish we could have met up there. Amazing time out there and do you think we will ever be able to do stairs again?! Happy recovering!

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At this point in recovery, I am just so proud to be able to sit down and stand up on my own (for the most part)! Stairs, however… maybe someday, but definitely not today 🥴

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3:11 is a fabulous time! Nice job!

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Hi Janae! Congratulations on an awesome race! I love reading your recaps and seeing how you overcome different challenges. Enjoy the downtime!!

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Amazing race, Janae!!! I can’t remember, is this a marathon PR? Since you got that sub 3 hour you’ve been on fire!

My fastest marathon was a Revel race. I love downhill running. Fun fact – Les sent me an email last week that had a picture of him giving me a foot massage after my Revel marathon in 2015!

Best part of my weekend – we were both home with no travel plans for a few weeks. Since July Les has been on 10 trips, in 13 states and 17 cities. I haven’t been on all of those, but there’s no place like home.

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So proud of you girl!!! Now I can’t wait to do the Revel Rockies in June!! I volunteered there this year, and it looks like they put on such a good race!

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JANAE! Congratulations, I’m so proud of you! Seriously, you are killing it, and it’s an inspiration to hear about. I love that you killed it even though you were fighting nausea, which is one of the worst feelings to have in my opinion. It made me emotional thinking about the woman in first inviting you to come with her. What a message to all women everywhere. Congrats, again. Hope you are soaking it all in, I’m happy for you!

Also, I lose all my math skills on any run over 25-30 minutes, haha!

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Absolutely incredible, what a race!

I’m just dropping in to mention REI has some Rabbit gear VERY on sale. I’ve had my eye on some things after seeing you wear them and I’m excited for new (warm weather) clothes. Worth checking out!

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Congratulations!!! I’m so proud of you!

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You are incredible. And you are not JUST anything – you are a wicked runner, mom, wife, sister, friend and I am sure training partner. Thanks for inspiring us all to try new things on foot and in the kitchen and outdoors.

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Congratulations on an amazing race! We were there on Saturday too! I ran Big Bear Marathon for the first time with two of my running friends. It was so incredibly beautiful and we all got PR’s and BQ’d! I love your recap and I am going to save it forever since you captured the race so well. I have loved following your running and life journey and you are such an inspiration to so many of us. Yes, our legs might be the sorest they have ever been, but totally worth it! –And the donut at the end really was the best part, haha!

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so, wow, dry skin, cause dry lips, yech…
love Nuun…I don’t hydrate as much as I should, but Nuun means no upset GI…..
I’m still trying Maurtens….I have yet to find a gel I actually like, and, well, they feel like swallowing a goldfish…
my weekend cleaning out our huge storage room, the job continues, and moving a freezer by myself wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, a visit to the physio tomorrow….
I’m toying with a half marathon in Arizona this spring, I’ve never been, I do have family there…..do I try something outside my comfort zone

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Congratulations! So happy for you!

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I am so thrilled for you!! Loved reading all the details of your race!! I need your advice on powering through the last 5k. Can’t wait to train for Boston together! You’re simply the best!

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Wow!! Congratulations!! So inspiring!

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Congratulations!! So so excited for you!!

Question: you can stay in Big Bear and also get bussed from there (vs staying in town)? You’re inspiring me to want to do this race :)

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Thank you so much! Yes, I think it was $20 to take the bus from big bear to the starting line (for the half or the full)! You can also pick up your bib at the starting line (also $20 extra). It was so so so easy to stay in Big Bear for the race. Have a great day, Wendie!

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Congratulations! You so deserve it! I’m curious about your oatmeal packets. What brand/kind do you like?

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Thank you so much! I just use the Trader Joe’s ones usually or any that are available! Have a beautiful day!

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Congratulation s!!!! I admire your passion, dedication and commitment with all you have on your plate . OUTSTANDING !!
Love following your journey.

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Wow! Thant’s so nice this article are awesome it’s a great article thanks for sharing this article.

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