Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Running In A New City

Hi sister heroes.  Brother heroes, hello to you as well.

We have been living in our new home, in a new city, with a new commute, a different micro-climate, new friends, it's ALL new!  I haven't had much square footage to call my own in the 12 years since I first left home for college.  I can practically do speed repeats through the house.

This is what our house feels like to me after a lifetime in our apartment.  And I don't mean it feels like it is filled with museum sculptures. 
Other adjustments include: bleeding money.  Spending most of my "free time" doing house stuff.  Sleeping without neighbors stomping above or blasting music below.

It's plain fantastic.

I have begun to fall in love with the home.  It felt like a creepy stranger for the first few days there, but having friends and family over helped fill the space with memories and happiness, and I am able to associate it with a true home.  And each time I head out on a run, I grow more and more comfortable and happy with our neighborhood.

Aaaaand segue to running in our new city!

First Objective: Find a Track.

I wrangled my way into a new track.  It is exactly 1 mile from our house, and while it is not technically open to the public, I made friends with a teacher at the high school who opens the track so she can jog at 6:00 a.m. every morning.  She kindly gave me the ok to join her a couple mornings each week.

I feel a little terrible because the first time I showed up at the track to see if it was open, it was pitch black out but the gate was open and I saw another runner (the teacher) so I figured it was a free for all.  And I went off on a sprint.

It turns out I scared the shit out of the teacher, as she is used to running there by her lonesome.  Poor thing! It didn't occur to me that another runner would be stunned to see someone running by, at of all places, a track.

I like that the track is our little secret for now.

My track workouts thus far at the new neighborhood track:

-- 4x1 mile at a 5:55 average pace.  I like to think I could have run a 5th at the same pace, which was my plan, but I ran out of time and had to start running home after the 4th repeat.

--a 9 mile "tempo" at the track at about a 6:30 pace, cruising on the outside lane.  I interrupted the run by stopping at miles 3.5, 5, and 7 for about 15-30 seconds to stretch my left leg out.

-- 4x400 (81),  2x800 (2:53), 1x1 mile (6:03), 2x800, 1x400 (I intended to bookend with another 4x400, but I ran out of time.  Again.)

Second Objective: Find Amazing Routes for Long Runs

Two Sundays ago was a long run of 22 miles.  I thought it would be great to explore all the "trails" in the new neighborhood (Contra Costa Canal Trail; Ygnacio Canal Trail; Iron Horse Trail) but they are all so, so flat.  It didn't like it.  I'm used to long runs being full of hills.   It felt like a big cheat.

This past Sunday I strayed from these paved trails into neighborhood territory for my long run, and hit every hill I could. Hilly neighborhoods are all pressed up against Mt. Diablo and the related hill networks, so this was also what we would call a beautiful, stunning run.  It was my safe/wimpy way of capturing the beauty of running real trails, but avoiding the mud.  I ran by a freaking horse ranch.  21 miles* went by faster than it has for any of my other long runs while training for Boston.

running by a sweet little park in a sweet little neighborhood
*For inquiring minds I ran these 21 miles with Gushers for fuel because I couldn't find anything better the night before when I popped into a CVS.  How were they? So ridiculously delicious. But I also got a side stitch immediately after eating my first one.  Coincidence? I'm going to risk yes, it was merely a coincidence, and so I shall try them again because YUM.

Third Objective: Find A Route With No Interruptions For Tempos

I have not succeeded here yet.

See above: I ran one tempo at the track.

I also ran a 10 mile tempo on the paved trails, which are interrupted by traffic lights every 1-to-4 miles. My average pace was somewhere between 6:45-6:50 I think.  Fastest mile was 6:34 (last mile), slowest was 6:58 (hairpin turns and small hill).

I noticed something.  With some mayyyybe improvements thanks to my new physical therapist (more on that next blog post, which hopefully won't take me forever to write), my leg-lock was manageable during the tempo when I was running flat; but my leg flared with stiffness/weakness/lockiness when I ran up or down (in this case, up/down overpasses that were relatively weak elevation).  I'm thinking maybe I should have signed up for Chicago instead of Boston ;)

Fourth Objective: Find a New Gym

For the first time since I was...16 years old? I don't belong to a gym.  The gym has always been a great supplement to my running that I have turned to for the following reasons:
  • Too dark/early/late to comfortably run outside
  • Too rainy/cold/hot/windy/fire-smoky to comfortably run outside
  • Too injured to do anything but ride a bike or the elliptical
  • Yoga.  hahaha, just kidding, still just....can't
  • Easy recovery workout on the elliptical
  • treadmill tempo runs, where there are no stoplights to interrupt me
  • look into the weight room and consider possibly one day giving it a go
I haven't found a new gym since we moved, and there aren't any that I consider to be in jogging distance (within 1.5 miles).  There's something about the idea of *driving* to a gym to workout that makes my brain spasm, so I really prefer to be able to walk/jog there.

Until I figure out what to do - or if I ever do - I haven't cross-trained in a really long time.  And I have been forced to run in some pretty serious rain and darkness.  It turns out it is not that bad.  Rainy runs can be rather lovely since no one else is bothering to run and the roads are all for me.  I suppose I may not need a gym.


  • Plank (UP TO A 4:35 PLANK holy hell.  I think about quitting 847 times during a plank this long, but I am stubborn.) 
  • I'm now incorporating wall sits into my routine.  So far 2 x 1:20 minute wall sits, I'm a wimp at them.  Many of the routes I am currently running in my new neighborhood are flat as a pancake so I need something to make the quads burn a little.  
  • I'm still topping out at 70-75 miles per week, which is slightly unsettling for me.  This is the lowest marathon mileage for me since I've been recording miles.  Long runs feel LONG to me.  I'm worried I've lost some of the endurance that used to be one of my strengths for a marathon.  We shall see.  If it works, I'll stick with this lower mileage next time.  If it doesn't, I'll consider cranking it back up to 80-90 miles per week next time. 

Also recently got in a Friday night meal with Angela, Alyssa, Margot and Sesa, four great blog friends that make me feel mushy enough to say that blogging can really enhance your life.  Very excited about the addition of Margot to the Bay Area running community.  Sorry SoCal but she's ours now!

We spent the evening enabling each others freakish running habits. Thank goodness for running friends who make us feel a little bit more normal.

Well reader heroes, see you next time.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Boston Training

Well hey weirdos.  It seems as though some people thought Shittyblogger's last post was for real.  Even stranger, those individuals were then kind enough to be super supportive of my epic-run-turned-to-hell.  I'm just tickled.  No wonder shit blogs carry on, what with the enabling applause from commenters.

This post is all me, all Boston training, all the time (88% of the time).

This has been a short training period for a marathon -- I officially "started" to train with the Kaiser half marathon in early February.  It's been something like 6 weeks since then, so....6 weeks of training under my belt, only 3.5 weeks to go before the taper sets in.  A 10 week marathon training cycle.

Let me back up for a second.  I am officially running Boston.  I booked the flights and the hotels.

If I wrote this post the day after the bookings, the post would look like this:  "waaaaaahhhhh wah wah, this sucks, I have guilt, no fair, regret regret."

The price we paid per night for the hotel is nonsensical.  It is literally the price most people probably pay for rent per month.  Very hard to swallow, especially because we just drained our bank accounts to buy a home (What!!! Yes!!! we did!!!).  So pretty much the worst time in the history of my life to be spending thousands of dollars on a little side hobby.

I'm cheap.  End of story.  I am freaked out by how much this event will cost, I am worried my bad leg will make the whole thing not worth it, I am nervous that we should have put that money into things we need for our house.

However after a few weeks to simmer down I've let it go and sort of justified the price. I'm excited.  Kinda mostly.

Especially because training hasn't sucked!

I've had some curious success with my running lately despite knowing that steady state race pace running still makes my left leg fall apart.

The past four weeks of training in highlights:

Speed work:

  • 9x800 each at about 2:56; 
  • 4x1600 each at about 6:03; 
  • 4x400 (at 80) + 4x800 (at 2:54) + 1x1600 (at 6:01); 
  • and this Wednesday morning I had an awesome track workout in crazy, crazy wind (not in my favor, I swear) of 10x800 at an average of 2:51.  

2:50; 2:48; 2:53; 2:53; 2:49; 2:55; 2:50; 2:50; 2:53; 2:51.

I've experienced nausea at the track this past month more often than not, and not because I'm pushing too hard.  More like my dinner was still digesting, or my dinner was disagreeable, or I woke up too early, or something.  Just thought I'd note this because it is...a newer thing and fairly consistent.  No I'm not pregnant.  My stomach has simply never behaved the same since Peru.

Long runs: the speed work has been cushioned by a few long runs.  My weekend long runs have been:

18.5 miles; then 20; then 21; then 22.

All between 8:00 and 9:00 minute miles, I don't mess around with long runs.  Keep it to a relaxing, zoned out pace while listening to Beyonce or the Comedy Bang Bang podcasts (anyone else?)

Extras: as a bookend, I've finished a few challenging one hour progression runs on the treadmill, hitting between 8.3 and 8.8 miles for the hour.  Also:

  • hill repeats (just 3-6 one-minute length repeats at a time); 
  • every-other-day planks, up to a 3:50 minute plank; 
  • bridges;
  • I'm taking an iron supplement about 4 times per week.
I've shelled out $$ for two or three ART massage sessions, and came full circle to a declaration I have heard from medical professionals in the past: my sacrum doesn't move like it is supposed to.  But why!? And how do I fix that?!

Also in new news, apparently my left, problem leg, does not point straight.  Since learning this, I have been trying to force the leg to build muscles that would support it pointing "straight" by standing, walking, lunging, and running in a position that feels pigeon toed to me.  Changing the natural position of my foot seems like a smart way to get injured.

Last, I've been running less than normal.  In the past while training for a marathon, I hovered between 75 to 95 miles per week.  Now I'm in the 60-75 mile range.

Presently I've been running 7-10 miles monday through friday, with one long run on Saturday of 18-22 miles, and nothing on Sunday, or something super short like 4 miles.

In reflection...my speed work has been going very well, but I truly don't believe that will translate to a marathon.  I really don't.  I've definitely had great bouts of track work in the past, only to find that my body (left leg) falls apart no matter what after so many miles of running in a race at a faster pace.  I really wish it was all psychosomatic, but it simply isn't.  My left leg pipes up so loudly after several fast miles that it becomes impossible to carry on at a fast pace with my right leg doing all the work.

But there are small glimpses of progress.  Maybe pigeon toed squats will save the day.


Buying a home and moving has been the big story in my life lately.  The process of trying to buy a home sometimes felt like it would never end (we started searching in October, but really started searching and throwing offers at homes in December).  We bid 4 times in total, which I hear is a relatively low number of rejections before hitting the jackpot in the Bay Area.  The three rejected bids were all above listing price by at least 3%, but the home we "won" was bid at asking price.  It's just peculiar luck, because it is a gorgeous, large home on a large lot (flipped and move-in ready, new paint smell and all) in a studly neighborhood, and the asking price was below market value.  We bid on it over the holiday weekend in January, a slow time for home buying, which I think is why it didn't get much attention from other shoppers.

Work has been work.  I hit the three year mark at my job at the beginning of the month.  Is the three year itch a thing?  

Totally obsessed with my niece and nephew still.  A huge factor in our home purchase was the location between our jobs and our families.  We are now squarely in between all four, which makes both of our commutes quite a bit worse (booo....the price you have to pay to stake your flag in some land as opposed to cramming into a small unit in convenient Oakland or San Francisco). But, I am 15 minutes closer to this cutey below.

Fairyland in Oakland.  We lived across the street from this place for 6+ years and finally had a reason to visit with our niece and nephews.  I dress that way for her, by the way.  She likes to make me wear that headband and she L.O.V.E.S. pink.  Did you know the reason girls like pink is because their brains process more shades of it than boys? 
I totally recommend it for kids age 2 to 6.  Only $8 per kiddo or adult, and the kids will freakishly enjoy sliding down grass hills and hugging statues of snow white. 

Ok who else is pumped for Boston!? Or training for another race?

I have a bazillion questions about Boston, like:

  • Are headphones futile because of the crowds?
  • How do you adjust to running a marathon at 10:00 a.m.? I run best right after waking up.
  • How do you kill the long waiting time after the buses drop you off?
  • Is this a good race to plan to not negative split, since the first half is apparently much faster?

All other Boston tips welcome!

Monday, February 24, 2014

ShittyBlogger III: This Run Is More Important Than Everything

This morning I toed the line.  Heart beating, rhythmic, like it was part of a world famous band that had been making music together for centuries.  The cool breeze fluttered past my ponytail like butterflies on a spring morning.  I took a deep breath and gazed at the land around me, in the city I have grown to call my own.  Amidst all the calm, I took a moment to admit to myself the feeling that was haunting me deep in my loins: This would be the most important run of the world.

This run would  change my life.  It would change your life.  It would change the life of the guy who bagged my groceries yesterday.

Because there it was, laid out before me like a labyrinth of faith and perseverance, designed by Gareth to save a baby boy named Toby.  I stared right into the face of my greatest destiny.  Would I, or would I not, be able to say, at the end of the day, that I completed my training run of 12 miles at a 7:30 pace?

This question weighed heavy on my shoulders.  I continued to gaze at the birds, smell the morning dew dancing on the grass leaves, and listen to my soft nervous breath, anticipating the life-changing run before me.

And like a Pavlov's dog that heard his bell ring for dinner, my feet instinctually began to stride forward and beat upon the pavement as if they were playing patty cake with a long lost friend from second grade.  One step in front of the other.  I let my arms stride back and forth, like two eager pendulums, and I watched the scenery stream by me.  I sensed all the gluttonous neighbors sitting down in their kitchen for a morning cinnamon roll.  I kept gliding on.

Mile one beeped on the dark creature that sits so regularly on my wrist.  7:28.

Ok, deep breath, stay calm.  You are right on pace.  You can do this.  YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.  You. GOT. this.  You. motherfucking. cocksucking. slut. you. CAN. do it.

And it will change the world.

The next five miles were a blur of athletic nirvana and serendipitous fate.  Without even nary a sweat drop, I nailed my goal pace for this life altering run.  7:30; 7:24; 7:27; 7:29; 7:22.

I was on cloud 9.  All my dozens and dozens of minutes of hard work were paying off and rewarding me like the King of the castle.  My effortless pace continued on like a dream, a dream that I floated through, fairy of the running land.

I began to envision how the world would really change when this perfect run was completed.  I saw that my devil children would shed their little brat skin, and would morph into sweet perfect angels, making my blog life so much easier for not having to force them to smile at the camera all day long.  I had a vision of my husband, telling me how crazy hot and perfect I was for nailing the most important run.  And then he would get a $30,000 bonus at work, and let me spend it how I wanted.

And then, just like that, without any warning, the dream began to unravel.  My reality slipped beneath my feet like quicksand, and I was drowning fast, my arm sprung up as a last desperate attempt for someone to save me from most certain death.  7:34.

Just a few miles to go, but there was no returning from this hell.  I spiraled down into a tunnel of pure pain and terror.  I grimaced with each and every step as if I was stepping on hot coal and shards of glass.  7:37; 7:38.

Oh, the horror.  I had bravely faced this test, unsure if I would be able to pass, and here I was, being told by the universe that no, today is not your day.  You will not pass that test today.  There may be many other days, but this is not your day.

12:38; 18:11. I dug deep for all the courage I had, and I courageously listened to my body.  My body was telling me to walk.  I was not going to hit my 7:30 average pace goal, and so I knew it was time to throw in the towel.  7:30 or nothing at all.  I listened to this inner voice and walked the whole way home, occasionally sprinkling the air with a chorus of curse words.

But even though I am never one to use cliches, the old saying is true.  When you fall, you have to get back up.  You have a choice to make when you are laying there on the ground, full of shame, fallen and a failure.  You can choose to lay there and die, or you can choose to get back up. You can choose to get back on that horse.

And I will.  Yes, I will.  My run, tomorrow, will be the most important run in the world.


Inspired by the proclivity in all of us to exaggerate the importance of the details of our adored hobby.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Wedding

In the spirit of Valentines day, and my proclivity to delay, here is our wedding recap.

If you are newer to the blog or have not been keeping track, the Gentleman and I celebrated our marriage last August.  However we just got our photographs a couple weeks ago, and a wedding is hard to describe with just words.

For all intents and purposes, it was a "wedding" -- a celebration of marriage.  Even though we had been married for over 1.5 years on the date of the wedding, it was a fairly traditional celebration.  I wore white; I walked down an aisle; we said vows; we danced to "our song."

If it was just me and him in a bubble, we would probably never have thrown a wedding, but a wedding isn't really for us.  It's for the family and friends that surround the couple.  And so the wedding served its purpose.  I think my family and most of our friends made peace with any anger or other emotion they had about our prior private certificate stamping. I had a lovely day too, I truly did, and I'm so thankful to have the memories, but I'm not rushing to do it again.  All eyes on us was just as uncomfortable as I feared it would be, to be honest!

For location, we picked a cozy lake house just a few miles from our Oakland apartment.  It was one of only two places we ever looked at.  We had originally dreamed of a low key "camping" wedding in Big Basin State Park, renting two group camp sites that sleep up to 100 guests.  We figured our friends would hate us if we made them do this, and also Reserve America made it very difficult to pull off.  But with the idea of a "nature" wedding firmly implanted, we went with the charming lake house.

For the date, the most ridiculous of things happened.  The wedding was scheduled on the Gentleman's birthday! We started planning in March 2013, and so we eyed June, July, August, and October, trying to find a weekend that didn't bump up against our family's psychotically early-planned-events (his parents already had plans to be in Hawaii for two weeks during our preferred dates in early August; my sister was throwing a camping weekend for my niece's birthday that made most of July a non-option; my sister was due with my nephew in September which knocked out September.)  Lesson learned: people plan stuff way, way more in advance than I do, so don't try to plan a wedding in 3-4 months if you want anyone to be able to make it.

For the non-traditional: well, we were already married.  We didn't have "colors" and god that question was asked a lot.  I was so unprepared.  "What are your colors?" Ummm....nature...mixed with lake....?  We didn't exchange rings (we still have zero rings, and I could devote a whole post to how bizarre I find the tradition of publicly marking whether you are taken or single.  Creeps me out. Not to mention diamonds don't do anything for me.)  No official groomsmen or bridesmaids, although we did take some portraits with our "dudes" and "ladies".  My ladies played a HUGE part of making the day as beautiful and perfect as it was, thank goodness for them.

Well let's just get to the pictures and let them do the talking!

The ceremony started late because traffic was jamming a lot of the guests.  I killed time by cooing with my niece, who has never loved me more.  She thought I was in a "birthday dress" and was completely tickled by the princess attire.

I'll marry you next time, honey

So much tongue, so much cleavage
The Gentleman and I both picked a song to walk out to.  I adored both.  I dare you to listen here to "Resolution" by Matt Corby if you want your socks knocked off.  The whole song.  Just listen to it while you finish reading this post.  His voice is emotional!

My mom was totally making me cry right before we walked out, which was balls
I was so surprised that my favorite part of the wedding, hands down, was exchanging vows.  I thought this part would be uncomfortable, and I had mixed feelings about saying private things with other ears listening.  But instead it was raw and beautiful and perfect and I'll never forget what it felt like to look into his eyes while saying and hearing true words that were unique to us.  I have no idea what normal vows sound like, we didn't have any guidance.  We just scribbled down a few important words the morning of the wedding.

 I laughed.  I cried.

Cracking myself up?

This handsome face is MINE, all mine
He made me laugh and cry some more.

As part of the ceremony, two of our close friends, and the Gentleman's band members, played a song that has a special spot for us.

I loved it, they did a great job
We rudely talked over the whole performance
Our ceremony had a few unique elements in place of the traditional ring exchange that I'll keep hush. 

Sealed the deal. 
We then took some portraits, which turned out lovely.  Unfortunately the site has this gorgeous waterfall that wasn't working last August.  I will use my imagination to visualize a waterfall pouring down around us, you can do the same.

I love the colors.  So many shades of green.  I could swim in shades of green forever.

My favorite, if I was forced to pick just one

I'll never forget this moment; my niece bounded up the stairs to interrupt our glamour shots, and she was so happy with her little cheese pita.  I distinctly remember thinking how funny it would be to see her little sandwich in these wedding photos.

Ah, the bouquet.  Initially I didn't want to bother with one.  But I found this small dried one on etsy, which was intended for a flower girl, and thought why not.  I love that it will last forever.  It looks pretty hanging on our dining room wall.

My sweet family, the quiet lake, the bearded men that me and my sisters all chose
SISTERS.  Lots of sisters pictures.

My older sister was just about 8.5 months pregnant with my nephew here.  I'm sad he isn't photographed as part of the day, but her bump is a cute reminder that he was brewing.

Sister number 1, cute and pregnant

Number 2 with her huge gorgeous eyes

Number 3, taller than me in flats with her knees bent, even though I'm wearing 4 inch heels. She's a supermodel.

And the parents to round it out.  Loved seeing them so dressed up.  I think they had a good day. 
Dinner rolled around and our caterer (Ann Walker) did a great job with the food--all local--but I was disappointed that the food was whisked away quickly.  I heard that people had wanted seconds but didn't get a chance to grab some from the buffet, even though there were massive leftovers.  Including me, ahem.

I didn't have a chance to eat much of the delicious food, which I guess is how it always goes for the bride and groom.  I made up for it with drinks and dessert ;)

Speech, speech, speech! 
My dad, the meticulously prepared person that he is, prepared a binder with his speech in it.  If you look closely enough, he is wearing a pin that is my soccer picture from when I was 5 years old.  Such a cute and sweet touch.  I loved his words, even the embarrassing ones.  Running made a cameo appearance in both his speech and my vows! There, I satisfied the running requirement of this blog post.

The centerpieces were entirely done by my bff Allison.  She did the burlap runners, the tree slice plates, the teacups and succulents and other greenery.  It was perfect for the cabin/lake house feel.  Forever thankful to her for all that hard work.  (Sage, which is her middle name, is also one of my favorite colors in the world, so it was incorporated into a lot of the decorations.)

The munchkin stole the show again my jumping into my lap during the speeches.

 After dinner and some schmoozing we danced.  For me and my dad we chose a short and incredibly sweet, timeless song.

For me and the Gentleman, we danced to a romantic song by our favorite super cheesy artist that I adore.  It makes me weepy with love. 

Once dinner and first dances were done, I was excited to finally have the chance to simply mingle with everyone who came far and near to be a part of the day.  I had only a small chance to talk with friends at a few tables during dinner.  Unfortunately, it was already nearing 9:30 p.m., and I was surprised to learn that many people turn into a pumpkin at 9:30.  I was major bummed about this.  

If I could do one thing differently, I would have scheduled the wedding at 4:00 or 4:30 instead of 5:00 (and due to traffic, it actually started at 5:30) so I could spend more time with people before they fled.  I know one solution is to do photographs before the ceremony, but I don't regret doing photos after the ceremony.  I enjoyed having that breather with the Gentleman and family.  

Regardless, the party really got started at 10:00, when the friends who stuck around danced to pieces and hogged the remaining liquor and cigars.  (Our wedding favors were personalized matchbooks and cigars, and personalized bamboo fans for the August weather.)

The fans
The matchbooks
Dessert was ice cream sandwiches.  Various cookie flavors, various ice cream flavors, all mixed and matched.  I had one of each, four in total :)  I loved brownie cookie with vanilla ice cream, and salted almond cookie with dulce de leche.  Sorry no food photos, what kind of blog is this!?

When the party shut down at 11:00, we ended up at a perfectly random spot: a tiki bar.  They brought us a vat of alcohol and a big chocolate cake.  We danced some more. 

Thanks for indulging!  I did my best to whittle down 250 pictures to the 30 or so here, and left out so much of the fun for the privacy of the guests.  

Tell me a great memory or something random about your wedding if you've already had one; or something on your must list for a future wedding; or why you will never have one, which I completely understand!  

And feel free to ask any questions! I had a lot of fun (and stress) with planning in a short timeframe, but we kept the budget nice and tight.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Piece of Me

I have a few exciting things to recap from this past week!

First, we finally cashed in on the Gentleman's birthday gift to me from over a month ago -- tickets to see Britney in Las Vegas!  He had hinted to me that the gift was "big" and that it was something I had verbally oscillated between super wanting to do it versus thinking would be super lame.  That about sums up my feelings on Britney.

I've been a Britney fan for half my life, but absurdly never seen her live.  I know, I missed my chance to see her perform back when she could really "perform" or "dance" or "exist without medications."  We all know she could never sing, so that part remained steady.  I'm hard on her, but I love her all the same.

Dressed all wrong for a Britney show in flat shoes and no sparkles

We left last Friday afternoon and stayed through Sunday.  Unlike my last visit to Las Vegas, which was on the tail end of a serene adventure to Zion National Park (transition from zen to SMOKE, LOUD, MARGARITAS), I was in the right state of mind (transition from work to FUN).

Has anyone else seen her show? I'm curious what y'all thought.  I certainly had a great time simply because of the pre-recorded soundtrack (love her songs), but the 80 bachelorette party girls in the seats around me were all dancing harder than Britney.  Come on girl! Just try! TRY! Just a little, please please please.  I know that performer is somewhere in there.

At her Vegas show.  She was sporting a brunette hairdo when I saw her
Britney 2000, the perfect time for a 16 year old like me to fall in love
Second, I fit in a speed workout this week, and it was confusingly successful.  10 x 400 repeats at the track.  I attribute the fact that this is my fastest 400 session since high school track--despite having done practically no speed work in the past 4 months--to one of the following:

a) iron intake;
b) bridge exercises strengthening my glutes;
c) planks strengthening my core (I twittered my core schedule - plank every other day, successively longer, I'm now at 2:50 minutes!);
d) only running 40 miles last week (1/2 marathon recovery + Las Vegas = less miles)

And the 400 repeat numbers:

78, 79, 81, 80, 80, 80, 78, 79, 82, 81

I love 400s and 800s because I have no left leg pain when I do them.

Third, barring something absolutely crazy, we are less than 20 hours from officially closing on a home...omg, so excited.  I really am an adult now.  I buy houses.  With my own hard saved money.  Well house, singular, I'm not rolling that deep. 

Given the insane bay area market, I think we did well and got very lucky with this home.  If all goes well, I'll be running the shit out of the canal trail and Shell Ridge Open Space when I move to the east-east bay.  Bye bye Oakland!

Fourth, let's devote a brief discussion here to the greatest. disaster. ever. to ruin the Bachelor franchise.

Juan Pablo.

Shut up

I know I'm not alone.  I know I'm not the only person who usually tries to bust out of work by 7:30 on Mondays so they can make it to their date with the couch for the Bachelor--but for Juan Pablo, can barely stomach 10 minutes before tuning out.

Ohhhhhhhh Juan Pablo.  Let's start with this article.

To quote:
Juan Pablo is an attention seeker. He’s always “on”—in the interviews with producers and on dates with women—which puts the focus on him. Even his compliments are a chance for Juan Pablo to show just how charming he can be. “Woooooooooow. Look at youuuuuu in your dreeeeeeeess,” is really “Does everyone remember that dress that I got her?” 
He’s also paternalistic, refusing to kiss Renee because she has a son. But the courtesy doesn’t extend to non-mothers which means he’s either lying or he's honest and the “winner” will end up with a man harboring a serious Madonna-whore complex. And in the interest of brevity: he’s corny, sloppy, chauvinistic, homophobic, manipulative, creepy, rude, boring, and not as attractive as ABC tries to convince me he is.
I am totally repulsed by the way he talks to each girl, like they are children, and with total disregard to what they are feeling, instead demanding them not to cry right after shaming them (Clare), and also demanding them to "loook at me, loook at me."  Ugh. From the very first episode, I got the shuddery feeling from JP that he had no criteria for the woman he was looking to fall in love with and just was tickled by the idea of 25 women for him.  Not that doing the Bachelor "just for fun" is a bad thing, I'm fine with that, but YUCK.

That said, I'm loving the extremely awkward yet gorgeous Sharlene.

Freakishly beautiful
Time for you to dish on Britney, track workouts, home buying, or the Bachelor!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Kaiser Half Marathon 2014.

A Story

Two weeks ago I was really worried about the California drought, and decided that I had to do something about it.  It hadn't rained at all in December and January.  Frightening!

So I did the one thing in my power.  The greatest rain dance of all.  I signed up for a race.

The race was last Sunday, one week after I signed up for it.

It worked! It poured and blustered all morning race Sunday.

And that's the end of that story!

Alright, I'll also recap the wet race.

The Kaiser Half 2013 is my half marathon PR, 1:26:21.  When I got that PR, I was having a helluva bad day.  My right foot went numb and I couldn't shake it the whole race.  I loved the course, and envisioned training hard for it in 2014 for another easy PR, without a numb foot.

Instead, November and December happened, two of the least-running months of my adult life.  I didn't want to face this race because I knew I wasn't ready to do anything remotely near a PR.

I avoided signing up for it, hoping it would sell out.  But ultimately, the week before, I decided I needed to go for it and sign up.  Get my head back into what it feels like to run a race.

The Race

The race morning started with a pleasant carpool ride from Oakland to Golden Gate Park with Jen, that transitioned into a pure panic of, "WE'RE NEVER GOING TO FIND PARKING, WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE, LET'S JUST PARK ILLEGALLY AND SPLIT THE PARKING TICKET."  It was funny.  We were worried.  It all worked out.  San Francisco parking sux.  (Jen's recap describes our pre-race adventures and her awesome PR in more detail.)

The clouds burst forth with the first serious rain of the winter.  Very wet.  I had on a super cute throwaway outfit of one of my husbands' old work sweaters, and camo print pajama bottoms, which kept me mostly dry--but not my feet.

My wet feet were dressed in the Brooks Pure Cadence 3.  I have worn the Cadence 2 to death, and those were my favorite shoe for the past 1.5 years, even though I have had occasional foot problems with them.  I like the 3's too I think.

The unoffensive Brooks PureCadence 3's for women

I experienced two problems with the Cadence 3's at the race.

First, I have always found the Pure Cadence to be unfit for wet weather, and I unfortunately forgot to consider that race morning.  They don't grip the ground well in rain.  I made my husband buy the Mens Pure Cadence 3, and the difficulty of running in them on wet surfaces was one of the first things he noticed about them too.  So, I spent the whole race "out of form" for me -- trying to land as stiff and firm as I could so I wouldn't slip.  In a good way this may have forced me to land mid-foot.

The second problem isn't so much the shoe as the laces, but my shoe came untied around mile 6.  It was such a bummer.  That's never happened to me before in a race! I double tied that sucker before the race, so I'm not sure what I could have done to avoid that.  And holy heck, trying to tie a shoe when your hands are gloved, wet, and numb, is an impossible art.

Image of the lovely weather conditions, stolen from Angela, thanks!

In the end, racing felt "nice."  The not-so-nice is I could feel my legs lacked the turnover speed they used to, even when they were fresh during miles 1-3.  They felt stuck in a slower gear, which is like a bad dream.

Miles 7-10 along the ocean were met with a challenging headwind, which gave me flashbacks to CIM 2012.  It was the exact same feeling, being pelted with wind and rain.  At least I had practice for it!

Mile 9 I had to stop to stretch out my leg-lock.

Mile 11 I had to stop THREE TIMES to stretch out my calf on the leg-lock side.  This is what happened at the Napa Marathon almost one year ago.  The leg-lock feels like it is tangling the wiring from my knee to my calf, and inevitably my calf starts to cramp.  It's different from a fatigue cramp.  I call it a tangle cramp. With three stops, mile 11 was my slowest at 7:12, but I was relieved to be able continue running at all. I thought for sure my calf was done since at first one, and then two, and then three stretch breaks weren't helping.

I was sick during the race too (as I have been for about 50% of winter) but I didn't notice it during the run except for a general tiredness from not sleeping much the whole week prior.  However as soon as I crossed the finish line, I started hacking like crazy for a solid 10 minutes.  So hard I thought I was going to choke or puke. Sexy.

The very hardest part of the race, however, was post-race.  Between the time that I finished the race, and the time that I got in Jen's car, 1.5 hours had passed! I was frozen to the bone.  I put my teeth through hell from chattering so hard.  The cold rain, my thin wet clothes, the san francisco wind, and post-running chills set in hard.  It was mental torture, which is why Jen and I resorted to a little trick I have to get through physical challenges.  We chanted "Shackleton!" whenever things got rough during our 45 minute walk to the car.  Look him up.  He endured stuff that makes whatever I'm dealing with pure wimpy, so chanting his name helps me remember I could be way, way more miserable.

Final time: 1:29:13.  My Garmin caught 13.26 miles, a 6:44 pace.  Most miles were between 6:25-6:45 except for mile 11 when I stopped thrice, and the headwind miles were closer to a 6:50 pace.

Deep Reflections

My thoughts on my finish time are: meh.  I have a mental issue with not wanting to finish over 1:30, so I'm not surprised that I didn't let that happen.  However, how many 1:29's can I run before I just want to kidnap and marry a 1:25?

And it's frankly frustrating and annoying that I'm so consistent, regardless of whether I've been training HARD (like for the see jane run half, 2013), or just kinda running and popping into a race like whatevs (this race).

I also take my finishing time as a sign that I need to bust out some serious training through March if I want to run a decent time in Boston.  Last year, I ran a 1:26 at this race, and that was four weeks before I ran a 3:09 marathon.  If I'm now at 1:29 shape, then I can kiss goodbye a sub-3:10 at Boston.  Unless I get to work bitch.

One very good sign that I took away from the race is that my left quad was sore on Monday and Tuesday after the race.  My left leg is my bad leg, and typically after a race only my right quad is sore because....it's doing all the work.  My lame left leg is literally just along for the ride.  And so it normally feels fresh and unused after a race.

After THIS race, my left quad was more sore than my right.  I suspect the leg is waking up.  Maybe the bridge exercises are working.  In fact, my buttcheeks were a little sore after the race too.  Hallelujah, my glute muscles did something! They're alive!

As for the race itself -- I love this race.  The parking situation is tricky and I haven't mastered how to conveniently get to and from the race start/finish yet.  The 6 miles up and down the highway remain boring and windy, and therefore challenging.  The coolest part about this race is: no race medals.  Keeps the registration fee low, and keeps my small apartment clear of another piece of metal that I simply don't want.  Best of all, there are medals for persons who sign up for a special program to get one for running a PR (so first-timers will get one no matter what if they sign up for the program!)  How perfect is that?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A List

I missed my chance to write my 2013 List or New Year's List, so here in fine fashion is MY LIST.  (Don't worry about it.  It doesn't make sense.  It's just a list of "things I want to talk about," carry on.)

1) Dedicating Race Miles to People

It's a sweet sentiment.  This mile is for little charlie because he's extra slow at learning how to tie his shoes.  Next mile is for all the victims in the world of credit card fraud.  This mile is for the inventor of Tic-Tacs.  This mile is for Brangelina.


Of course it's for you.  The entire race is for you.  Running, like many sports and hobbies, is selfish.

But YOU are not a selfish runner; YOU run so you can be a better wife/mom/sister/daughter!

Nah.  You run for YOU.  Running makes me a better lawyer; a better wife; a better stranger; and it used to make me a better student.  But that doesn't mean I run for my boss or my husband or my teachers.  I run for me.

You run for charity? That's quite selfless and giving, for real, it's great to combine a social and healthy activity with fundraising.  You're also running for you.  Because it makes people feel better to volunteer or give back.  Fact.

You run in memory of a lost friend or family member? Also for you.  You are tying your intense emotional pain to physical pain, and that's powerful.  But it's still for you.  I suppose it is possible there are a bunch of ghosts sitting on clouds who are like "wow, being dead doesn't suck as much right now because so-and-so ran that marathon while thinking about me!'  And on second thought, that's not possible.

(You know I'm just poking fun and entertaining myself, so if you find some serious value in dedicating miles besides helping you get through miles or making yourself feel better, tell me what it's all about and I'll try it sometime.)

2) Nuun is Trying to Kill Me.

I bought this lemon chai flavor at See Jane Run because it sounded delicious.  It was appalling.  I will eat anything I pay money for, and on this occasion I can't.  All the tablets minus one are sitting here in a basket in my kitchen if anyone wants to take it from me.

If you're ready come and get it

3) Blog Posts Detailing the Race of Your Family Member.

You paced your brother/husband/sister/mother to their first 5k/half-marathon/marathon.  Your readers previously did not know that family member.  This is the most boring blog post you've ever written.

The detailed, play-by-play of your family member's race is like...what's a good comparison....it's like making me read about someone I don't know and don't care about.  Yes, that's exactly what it's like.  But go ahead and take the opportunity to subtly remind everyone how comparatively fast you are to this newbie, and how you are so amazing for helping them push through by running alongside them!

A quick statement about how cool it is for someone you love to share your passion will suffice.

4) Qualifying Your Internet Running Opinion by Noting You are a Slow Runner.

I am cool with talking about how slow you are relative to YOU.  Like hey, I was faster before my injury, or hey, I feel way slower than normal lately.

But one very common comment I get on this blog is one that starts out with "I'm nowhere near as fast as you, but...."

No qualification necessary! Unless the comment prompt is, "can you be my speed workout partner?" I guarantee that your speed does not matter to a discussion about running.  For example, a discussion about a specific race, a pair of shoes, a brand of running fuel, etc., etc., is enhanced by runners of all experience and speed.

And I get it, I do - if I'm in a virtual room with KrisLaw, I'm probably thinking "she's way outta my league, I have nothing valuable to add to this conversation..."  But there is nothing to be gained by setting yourself apart by pointing out you are "slower."  We all put in the time and miles.  It's the same club.

This is not a brag about how some people who comment on this blog are slower than me.  A ton are faster than me too.  They don't write "I could never hang with you because I am way faster, but..."

Just let's all try and avoid this blogger compliment/self cut-down talk!

5) Relays

Overnight relays still sound like my worst nightmare.

Things I love, very possibly MORE than running: 1) sleeping, and 2) being clean.

I have a very healthy fear of not showering immediately after exercising.  I mean for real that's how zits and yeast infections happen, get outta that mess. I will rarely to never get brunch with friends after a race unless I have been able to shower right the fuck away.  Race.  Shower.  Run.  Shower.  In that order.  always always.

The longest period of time between running and showering for me all year long is races where it takes an hour to walk to your car or drive to your hotel room.  I hate that.  Even more dreadful is the chills that come after running without showering.  I get torturous chills if I sit in sweaty clothes for a long time.

Like any good California drought survivor, I take very short and efficient showers. 2-5 minutes a pop.

6) Racing In Makeup

Seriously, what the fuck.  Are you shopping for a date here? Or you just want to make sure to really solidify in your blog readers' minds that you are a perfect unicorn runner?

Just working out guyssss

7) Having Pictures Taken of You During a Training Run

Blows my mind when bloggers regularly post a picture of just themselves during a training run.  Did the run really get put on pause so you could hand your phone/camera to a fellow runner and ask them to capture a picture of you in action?

I will happily stop for a picture if I'm running with friends and they ask for a group shot memory, but...if my running partner requested I stop running to take solo shots of them, I would pretend to take a few but just take a dozen dick pics instead.

8) Lists of Runner Holiday Gifts

Well this list item dates how fucking long ago I drafted this post.  I'm really on top of this blog stuff.

When it comes to runner holiday gift posts, ask yourself one question:

Are any of these gift suggestions sponsors of the blogger? Than it's not a list of holiday ideas.  It's an advertisement that fulfills a duty to the sponsor.  Move along. You don't need another "26.2" necklace. Although a "26.1" necklace would be funny, like you got really close to finishing a marathon distance but not quite there yet.

Oh, the brilliance of making a list that includes knocking down a type of "list".

List Transition To Things I Am Straight Up Loving

1) Blue Diamond Almonds BOLD -- Wasabi and Soy Sauce

We've been mowing through tins of these.  Then we bought a 1 pound value pack and inhaled that.  These are the most addicting and delicious snack in the world right now.

Blue Diamond almonds are the best.  They have the best texture and "not too crunchy" crunch (I have an aversion to super crunchy things)...yum yum yum.  Bring them hiking or camping, you won't regret it.

2) L'Oreal Age Perfect Glow Renewal

I totally dig this stuff.  I spent most of my life, as a person with oily skin, trying like crazy to avoid anything remotely oily.  Buying "light" moisturizers exclusively.

But it turns out that putting oil on your face twice a day makes your skin happy.  Especially in the winter, when I'm rubbing tissues under my nose 80 times a day.

My dude uses this on his beard too, because your skin can get dry when it is hidden under a beard.  I think he likes it too? Come on men, don't be shy, walk to the drugstore counter with one of these.

3) Skin Sake Athletic Ointment

Back when I posted about trying out a Moving Comfort sports bra and my years of dealing with sports bra chafe, a wise commenter referred me to Skin Sake.

I bought two tubes, and this stuff is in a whole 'nother league than Sports Glide.  I have not had any serious chafing problems since I bought this (oh why didn't I know about it before my wedding!?).  The true test will be when I start hitting higher mileage, because I haven't yet used it on any run longer than 17 miles.

It smells good too.  And a little goes a long way, so the tube will last a long time.

Also note -- it is very waterproof, which I think is why it works so well.  It rarely all comes off when I shower!

4) Balega Socks

These are comfortable as hell.  Thanks Jessica and Dennis for the tip!

I haven't raced in them yet, so I'm not sure about the blister factor.

5) This "tip" from my Runners World desk calendar running log:

"Regardless of how well you're training, lofty goals can be dashed by poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, or stress at home or work."

A simple tip, but sometimes I forget that running really is the whole life package, not just a reflection of the miles you put in.

Poor nutrition? I'm getting better at this.  I gave up candy for New Years, if anyone wants me to talk more about this at some point I will.

Inadequate sleep? Duh yes, who sleeps adequately? I'm operating with 6 hours per night on average.

Stress at home or work? Work for me, not home (except the home buying process has been stressful - lots of urgent appointments to visit homes before they are listed, urgent contract/bid offers signed).  Work is not stressful all the time, thankfully, but yeah.

sum total = lofty goals dashed.  I've been stuck for some time with my running, unable to squeeze under 1:26 in the half or 3:05 in the full.  Boo.

6) My wedding pictures.  They finally were provided to us by our photographer, over 5 months after the wedding.  That ridiculous wedding post will finally come along.

Nothing sponsored here folks, just MY LIST of stuff.  Uh....what's...your list? (perfect segue to your comment of choice.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So Hi

I will try my hardest not to spend my once-every-other-month blog posts playing catch up, since that can get verbose.

To get current quickly; I was last struggling to run a decent mileage after taking November off of running, and catching the worst illness I’ve ever had, in Peru. (I wonder if it was H1N1?) Throughout December I relapsed into a state of illness twice, never comfortably ran more than 8 miles, and to this day my stomach and a few other functions are still out of whack.  

I obviously did not run CIM in December.  I’m still signed up for Boston, but have no flights or hotel booked.  Marathons are cool and all, but if I’m being honest I’m forcing this experience on myself.  I am currently not pumped about the prospect of spending thousands to travel to a race, sit in a massive crowd of people, and then try to run amidst that massive crowd.  I don’t doubt it will be a fun experience….but I’m doing it out of some unidentifiable pressure to be a proper member of the running community, and because Boston is “what runners are supposed to do.”  You’re supposed to run Boston if you qualify, at least once.  And Chicago.  And New York.  And Ragnar.  And Hood to Coast.  These are all my personal nightmare.  I blame blogs for setting this standard.

Nevertheless, I have devoted much of January to slowwwly building my endurance and speed so that I can be prepared in case I do end up running Boston.  A PR would be awfully lovely but this old body (and mind!) doesn’t seem ready to do it in that short of time.  Another sub 3:10 will be an acceptable goal.  But if I’m traveling all the way…geez.  I would really hope for a PR.

I do think this will be an extra unforgettable year at Boston.  I'm working on getting amped to be there.

January has been a nice revival of running for me.  10 miles finally feels easy again.  7:45 pace is starting to feel completely comfortable.  6:45 pace is starting to feel ok for speed work of 1-6 miles.  And my longest run in months and months, 17 miles, took a lot of work to get there, but I got there.  A lot of work.  I couldn't get past 12 miles for a long while. 

For my leg-lock problem, I have been mastering bridge exercises.  The leg lock hasn’t been much of a problem since I haven’t been running very fast lately.  My leg was in a state of most discomfort right when I returned to running after taking November off.  After a few weeks back, my leg “warmed up” and began to feel better.  Definitely still not quite right though. 

I also recently started chugging liquid iron several times a week, which is still melted-penny flavored.  Hopefully that stuff kicks in right in time for Boston.

In other news:

The holidays were a blast, even though I worked every single day of December except Christmas day. January trial dates are not recommended.  Neither are 14 hour work days.

I've been juggling 60-75 miles a week while working just as many hours (and driving just as many miles daily!)  It's not easy.  I couldn't do it all year.  But when I have to, the miles are the perfect balance I need for the long days.

I read on an elite woman's running blog that the life of an elite runner is something like: 9 hours of sleep; 3 hours of running stuff; 1 hour of travel; 5 hours of work; 5-6 hours of "down time."  Holy crap.  5-6 hours of free time on work days!?  5 hours of work?! What a gift. That blew my mind. I mean seriously. THAT'S how elites do it? They sleep for 9 hours and work for 5.  What a foreign idea.  (I have to imagine this blogger is speaking for herself and not all elite runner's...I'm sure some of them actually work 50 hours per week or more, and that is truly amazing.)  

So yeah, my one day off on Christmas was awesome:

This baby boy held onto that hair for his life, so I let him keep it

Bring it in for a hug! This is what happens whenever her aunts come along.  We fight for her attention.

What a lovely present!

The whole gang, minus the Gentleman

expressing holiday nobility and hope

The coolest person on the planet

The party continued on at the Gentleman's family's home

Thanks to Christmas, I now own one new pair of Oiselle distance shorts (my faves) and one pair of Oiselle rogas.  There was a sale.  That’s why I asked for the rogas.  Listen up, they s.u.c.k.  Never in my experience has the correlation between price and quality been so disparate.  The rogas are expensive, and after just 3 washes, the front pocket zipper broke.  Which defeats my purpose of buying them (I only seek out running shorts with zippered pockets).  Their products seem to be getting worse right in pace with their desperation to hire blogger reps.  (no disrespect Hollie, you know I'm your fan.)

What else, what else...

The runner blog world lost a hero when SkinnyRunner's blog disappeared.  Let’s all take a moment of silence to reflect on the lost opportunity to purchase someone’s used running skirt at full price.

I had a birthday and got two of the best gifts ever (more on that later.) 

We almost bought a house, three times.  Translation: we bid well over listing price on 3 homes, each time so confident we would win that I fully envisioned my future growing old in that home, and then we were outbid and big losers.  The bay area is a mad house.  I am intensely excited to be a homeowner, and it will happen soon.  I will be able to do my laundry at home!  So many new running routes to explore!  Yes, that is highly prominent on my mind when we decide which homes to pursue.

Happy 2014 and hope to see you again soon!