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2014 Safari Park Half Marathon Recap

2014 Safari Park Half Marathon Recap


Yes, another race recap. This won’t be as lengthy as my Big Sur Marathon recap and there aren’t any races coming up in the near future besides Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and 1/2 in June(MAMAROCKS for $10 off by the way- it’s still not too late) so this will be it for a bit.

Let’s talk about the race Sunday.

Pre-race meal was the same as it has been the past few races. No cheese chicken and veggie pizza. This one was my homemade pizza though. It’s nice to be able to eat at home before a race.

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This was the fourth year of the annual Safari Park Half Marathon. They added a 10K run in this year also.

This was my third year running (I missed it last year). I had three big reasons I really wanted to run it again this year:

It is a small local race that the boys were really excited about.

STUFT Daddy works there so I had to represent.

The proceeds from this year’s race, presented by Health Net, will benefit cheetah care at the Safari Park as well as San Diego Zoo Global’s Wildlife Conservancy’s worldwide conservation efforts to help save cheetahs and other endangered species in the wild.


So yes, it was my third weekend racing in a row (after two full marathons in Boston and Big Sur), but the boys were really excited about this one. Especially because they got to ride a special shuttle to the park and because the top three overall finishers won stuffed animals. I was going after one of those, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.


Let’s see.

The race started at 6:30 am and was a point to point course from the mall to the Safari Park. It was an early morning for all of us.

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The boys and I drove to the mall parking lot and met up with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who so graciously volunteered to go to the park with the boys while I ran. We parted ways quickly and they were off to the shuttles before the roads closed.

I was off to pick up my race number and such.

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That’s one thing I really like about smaller races. It’s nice being able to just show up the day of and pick up your number. Things were pretty low key. Unfortunately I didn’t pick up a shirt because I didn’t have time to gear check it and I wasn’t going to run carrying it the whole time. I’m hoping STUFT Daddy can get me one somehow.

With this race, they have an option for racers to raise $500 to become a Wildlife Champion

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The money they raise goes to the conservation efforts to help the animals (this year it was the cheetahs) and they get special VIP treatment on race day along with a free entry for the race.

The start was pretty mellow also, but I got excited when I saw this guy.

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He he.

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I stood up by the 7:00 minute pace group. I thought maybe I’d be able to go fast, but wasn’t sure quite how my body would feel.

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I bumped into my cute and speedy friend Meredith right before the race started.

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The race started right on time. The course was pretty quiet the whole time.

From the mall the course ran through San Pasqual Valley past vineyards, golf courses and some orange groves. It was a nice flat course towards the park and then around mile 6 it went through the back of the park and there was a monster of a hill.


(Thank you Mikey for the picture.)


(Thank you Claire for this picture.)

Yeah, that hill was not fun, especially because it was on soft sand. Not only was I struggling to get up it, but my feet were slipping at the same time. It was a little rough.

After the hill the course ran back on the roads outside on the park until another big hill around mile 11 through a neighborhood. At least that one was on the street and once I got to the top it was all downhill through the park to the finish. The last mile ran through the park and by the elephants and a few other animals. The finish was by the cheetahs. How fitting.

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A pretty cool place to finish a half marathon if you ask me.

Not only was my brother-in-law watching the boys, but he got a couple of cool pictures as I passed by also.

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I’ve always got this weird side mouth thing when I’m tired. Ha ha.


My race was so so. I started out a little too fast. I managed to keep a steady pace though for a while. I had a vanilla GU around mile 9 after that big hill, but still lost steam about mile 10. I felt pretty good until then although I just couldn’t get my breathing down. I think it was probably because of this darn head cold I’ve got going on. The last three miles were a struggle.

I was the second place female for the majority of the race, but I got passed by two young blonde girls right around mile 10.5 or so. I tried to catch them because I really wanted to get a darn stuffed animal for the boys, but it just wasn’t happening.

But, I DID hear the boys yell “Mommy” and got to wave to them as I passed. THAT was awesome.

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I was slower this time than I was when I ran this same race two years ago, but hey, I don’t mind. I ‘m just thankful I could pull off what I did after two other big races back to back.


Yep, 4th female and the top three got stuffed animals.

The first thing Judah asked me was if I won a special animal for him. I said “no”. He asked why I didn’t run faster. I told him I tried. And that I did. I really did, but darn it, it just didn’t happen.

I did get a pretty cool medal though.

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Huge congrats to my friend Cara who ran her first ever 10K. Yay Cara!

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I’m so proud of her. She rocks.

So does this guy who was at the finish to greet everyone.

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He’s a meerkat, right?

The cheetahs were right there at the finish also.

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There was lots of goodies at the end.

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I made sure to stock up on a few things. Some fruit, some donut holes and a couple Core Power drinks.

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I found my friend Meredith again at the end. She placed in her age group.

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There was a pretty long walk after the finish to meet up with family, etc. We got some bags and a lot of cheers from these volunteers though.

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I love, love, love races where I get to squeeze my boys at the end. And I love that they get so excited to go to one of “mommy’s races”.

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I do not love this next picture, but thought you might get a kick out of it.

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Ha ha. Lovely.

Here are my real heroes. I can’t thank them enough for getting up early and watching the boys for me.

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I know, we owe them big time.

We walked around the park for a bit to kill some time before awards. (Each runner got a free pass into the park for the day.)

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Yep, we walked right on by the awards table with the coveted animals.

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Luckily the KIND bars were close by to distract us.

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I’m super excited about these new ones by the way.

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We made sure to check out the elephants while we were in the area.

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Then a certain someone decided to come say hi really quick during his work day.

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Family affair. Hey hey.

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We also checked out the whole Roar and Snore thing. We’re adding that to the list of family fun things we want to do.

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Yeah, you get to sleep here right by the elephants. How cool is that?

We finally parted ways and headed out.

We can never pass this rhino without taking a picture.

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Shuttles were lined up ready to take racers back to the mall. It’s always nice when you don’t have to wait in line for a shuttle afterwards.

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It was one heck of a fun shuttle ride with these two.

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It drove along the course that we had just run.

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Once we got back we had to take a little stroll through the mall to get back to the car. I discovered that there is now a Lorna Jane there.

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That could be dangerous.



When we finally got home the sweetest thing happened.

The boys told me that it was okay I didn’t win a stuffed animal and they got me their special animals from their room and gave them to me.

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So sweet. These are so much better anyway. And yes, I slept with them the past two nights it a row by request.


Love my boys.

Love this race.

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Also love that I don’t have any more races this month. I’m so ready for some down time.


I’m hoping to be able to do this race every year though. I really like the whole local race feeling.


Have you entered the Pro Compression Giveaway yet? They should some some cheetah socks or some kind of animal print next. Ha ha.

Do you like smaller, local races or bigger destination races more? (It’s a toss up for me. SO many things to like about both.)

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  1. 1
    Jackie says:

    Your boys are the cutest!! Great job!

  2. 2
    Lisa says:

    Aww this looks so fun! I love smaller local races – I don’t get as stressed out by the logistics I guess. Your boys sure are cute and a zoo race sounds so fun!

  3. 3
    Denise says:

    My boys would LOVE if I ran a race like this !! I absolutely love having my boys cheer for me & be at the finish for hugs, but, I always feel bad that they have to just stand around and wait for me to finish 🙁
    I had to laugh at that one picture with the boys 🙂 I can totally see my little guy doing the same thing. It’s funny how something so innocent to them can make us SO embarrassed !! Congrats on the race! Awesome job!!

  4. 4

    It’s amazing how well you can race week after week! Congrats on a fast time! I’ve visited the park a couple of times. Lots of fun!

  5. 5
    Kim says:

    That race sounds and looks awesome!!! Fun to see some of your family in the pictures.
    And, cool that you ran where STUFT Daddy works!!
    Sweet of the boys to give you some special stuffed animals!

  6. 6

    Oh my goodness your boys are too precious!! Congrats on kicking butt in your 3rd race in 3 weeks!! Rockstar!

  7. 7

    You are awesome running 3 back to back races. I don’t know how you do it but if you can teach me your ways that would be awesome!

  8. 8
    Dolly says:

    I’m confused. I thought this was supposed to be a recovery week for you? A 1:34 half is very impressive after back 2 back marathon weekends. Give your body a rest. You deserve it.

  9. 9

    hehe, that picture. awesome.
    I always think, yeah, that San Pasqual Vineyard looks like a nice spot to stop this run, then I realize it’s not open yet. That hill… One of these years I want to actually RUN it and not feel like I’m dying.

    Hopefully I’ll be there next year!

  10. 10
    steph says:

    i ran a half on Sunday and I was just looking through my pics– I do the half mouth thing too! so strange..

  11. 11
    Laura P says:

    Wow, another awesome race for you! Looks like fun….except that hill looked pretty scary!

    Your boys are ao sweet, love that they brought you their animals.

    For me it’s a toss up between local and destination. If the destination race can be made into a fun family vacation, then I’m all for those. But nothing like sleeping in your own bed and driving a short way to a race either!

  12. 12
    Erika says:

    Thanks for the recap! My husband and I almost signed up for it. Nice to know it has the local feel. I’m not sure which type of race I like better. I need to start racing. I’m in love with the training and scared to death of the racing. Not sure how to break through that.

  13. 13
    Apryle says:

    As a San Diegian I have wanted to do this race since it started. Maybe next year? I love your cheetah print running skirt! I love that you posted the pic of one of your boys hugging your leg and hiking up your skirt, because hey, that is what life is like with 4 year olds!! Congrats on 3 great races! Now go rest and have a glass of vino!

  14. 14

    This looks like such a fun race to run and perfect for your boys to watch! I would love to run somewhere like that.

  15. 15
    Tara says:

    I love my pro compression socks! I recently have converted my husband into loving them as well, he wears them for all his long runs and lounges in them with me : )
    I love the Boston Strong ones, I have never seen those!

  16. 16
    Tantra says:

    awww your boys are soo sweet! great job on the half… you are amazing! I’m not confident I would even be able to stand at this point if I were in your shoes! I ran by my son in the half the other day and he was like Hi mommy… and then proceeded to tell all the ppl around him that that was his mommy running fast out there..lol.. I just wanted to stop and hug him…

    I like how low key local races are but I love the ambiance of the big events…. I love how there are people everywhere cheering for you even though they don’t know you pushing you one more mile and one more mile…

  17. 17
    Amy H says:

    Nice race! On the one hand, I want to congratulate you, but on the other, I wish you would take a real break and let your body get some solid recovery in. I know you have big goals in your future so make sure you get that down time – let yourself do all of those non-training things, let all of the “sub-clinical” niggles heal up, and then you can get back to it with a fresh body and renewed attitude. Your job probably makes it tough, but just something to think about. Of course, I’m about 3 weeks in to an injury-induced forced break, so my perspective might be jaded, but I know that overall, this is good. Fitness is much easier to recover than health!

  18. 18
    Kelsey M. says:

    OMG!! You rock! Keep up the awesome work, lady! You are so inspirational!

  19. 19
    Beth says:

    I have been looking for those new kind bars but have yet to see them in any store!! So want to try them!!

  20. 20
    Amber says:

    Bummer that you missed winning a stuffed animal by one place – but you killed it after racing for a 3rd weekend in a row! Also, that is so adorable that your boys gave you their stuffed animals 🙂

  21. 21
    Michelle Kim says:

    Super fun recap, and it’s great to see some of the pictures along the course. Man, that sand hill type dealy sounds crazy tough! Your time is amazing (considering all of the races you’ve been participating in quite recently). You’re a rockstar 😀

  22. 22
    The Silent Assassin says:

    Smaller races most of the time. But I love the big races on the west coast. The OC was amazing for me this year! One thing caught my eye for this post… For a “small” race, you guys sure had an ample amount of porta potties! That’s my kind of race prep!

  23. 23
    Smitha says:

    Another great performance, another great recap! And the cutest fans ever!

  24. 24

    OMG, just love love love all of it – the pics & family fun & those cutie boys with you & the ending of stuffed animals – LOVE!!!!


  1. […] two days off from any kind of running. I forced myself to do it. My legs pretty much hated me after Sunday’s race. There’s a HUGE difference between running longer and slower than running faster and shorter. […]

  2. […] And, I have to say, my favorite races aren’t necessarily the ones when I run my best or my fastest, but the ones where I have these guys at the finish line like I did at the race on Sunday. […]

  3. […] Stuft Mama blogger ran the Safari Park Half Marathon (CA) in 1:34:40 after running the recent Big Sur Marathon and Boston Marathon. […]

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