10.17.2014

Friday Fun Day

Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone has fun plans for the weekend. Here's a quick recap of the week.

The high of my week was...the Giants making it to the World Series! Let's go Giants, let's go!

The low of my week was...the volatility of the market this week. Although I did take advantage of it and I bought a few more shares of stock. It can be fun, but also stressful at times!

The favorite thing I read was....And The Mountains Echoed, a book by Khaled Hosseini. It was not quite as good as A Thousand Splendid Suns, but it was a really good read and it gave me a bit more insight on life in Afghanistan.

My favorite thing I heard was... this commencement speech from Navy Seal William McRaven, about why the little things, such as making your bed every day, do matter.

The best thing I spent money on was... nothing. I actually did not really spend any money this week. I guess if you count last weekend, I went out for lunch with my brother, and that was fun! However, during the week, I really only spend money on commuting and groceries, but this week I did not even go grocery shopping!

My plans this weekend include... meeting up with my parents for lunch and maybe a walk or hike on Sunday, and probably a nice long run and a bunch of much needed errands on Saturday.

How was your week? What do you have planned for the weekend?

10.16.2014

The City

My Dad has been working on a temporary assignment in New York City for some time and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see him, as well as one of my favorite cities, before his assignment was over. To top it all off, my Mom was game too, so we decided to all meet up in the city and do a bit of exploring.

The great thing is that my parents have both been there long enough that they were not as interested in the touristy side of things, so we did what I love, which is to wander around the neighborhoods exploring, eating and people watching. Also, they have both been doing a fair bit of walking and so they had built up a good stamina. In addition, they have figured out the subway system and enjoy utilizing the public transportation options. As you may know, my parents live in a very rural, mountainous area where there are only about 12 neighbors in a 50 mile radius, so it was fun and interesting to see them in a city setting. My Mom has discovered a new-found love for blogging, and was snapping photos of everything along the way.

I arrived very late on Friday, after taking an after work flight from San Francisco. I thought this (and the three hour time difference) would cause me to sleep in a bit, but we were up the next day around 6 and were ready for some action! We started by meeting in Central Park. Dad and I ran there and Mom walked. After meeting up, I went for an additional few miles while they headed down toward the breakfast place. Later, I met them in Hell's Kitchen at the Galaxy Diner, which was okay, but was nothing special.

Who you gonna call?

Afterward, we headed down to the Staten Island ferry, them via subway and me via the East river. We took the ferry over to Staten Island, which is free, and affords a really nice view of the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline. After we got back to Manhattan, we wandered up toward SoHo. We wanted to get a nice pastrami sandwich at Katz' deli, which is where one of the scenes in When Harry Met Sally was filmed. However, it was overcrowded and overpriced, so we walked over to Chinatown and had a really great pho at Pho Grand.

Mural along High Line

On Sunday, we got up and headed toward the High Line. Once again, I ran and my parents took the subway. The funny thing is that I beat them every time! We walked along the High Line to Chelsea and stopped for a bagel and coffee, before heading down through the meat packing district to Tribeca, where we were going to see the Ghostbusters firehouse. It looked just like it did in the movie! Next, we headed over to Brooklyn and took a really nice walk along the promenade and over to Dumbo, where we rode the merry go round and ate yummy pizza.

Brooklyn Promenade

After a shower and a small break for me, I headed back out to meet Mom and Dad in the upper East side, where we were planning on having dinner. However, it was pouring rain and it took me a long time to make my way up to see them. I even had to buy a $5 umbrella from the guy on the street! I finally got up to meet them, and we wandered around the upper East side to the Heidelberg, where we ate pig knuckles and sauerkraut and drank liters of beer. I think with this, I sufficiently tired the parents out, because as soon as we got home, everyone pretty much passed right out!

Manhattan Bridge

Monday was Labor Day, and we got up, went for a run, and then met up with a coworker of Dads (and a former coworker of mine) for breakfast at The Comfort Diner, where I had the most delicious lemon ricotta pancakes! To walk off the pancakes, we headed back over to the East River and then just sat in the shade and watched the boats on the river for a while.

Run / Walk Schedule

That night I took a bus to the Newark airport where I flew to Germany, but that is a story for another day!

What is your favorite thing to do in a big city? What is your favorite city to visit? Do you ever split up your runs into smaller pieces?

10.08.2014

Miwok 100k

I was talking to Lisa the other day and she said something along the lines of how my next 50 mile race will be my second, but actually it will be my fifth. I realized that I have been very, very lax about posting my race recaps, and I do want to get them down on paper now so that I will remember it in years to come. So, here is the first of several very late recaps. I understand if you want to skip it and go read about something important, like Syria.

I put my name in the lottery for the Miwok 100k with the high expectation that I would not get in, and therefore would not have to run it. Little did I know that if you volunteer for them, you get preferential treatment for the next year's lottery. In 2013, I volunteered. In 2014, my name was picked for the lottery.

I had a good base of miles in early 2014, but then in March, I was injured (Achilles). I took about 4 weeks off from running leading up to Boston, and then had a really crappy race. Miwok was two weeks later. My goal was to finish, naturally, which seemed doable. The cut off time was 16 hours, which would mean I had to do about a 15 and a half minute pace the entire time in order to finish. However, I was still feeling the Achilles a little, and Boston had also kicked my butt, so I really was not sure what to expect. My plan was to stick with a friend of mine, Kelly, who is usually in the back half of the middle of the pack. This way, I would have moral support, as well as hopefully not overdoing it physically.

Approximately 12,000 ft of climbing


Miles 1 - 10: It started off with a pretty gradual uphill on a single track trail, where we all did the conga line for a while. This went on for about three miles and then it leveled out on the Bolinas ridge trail, which was good, except that it was still a very narrow and rutted single track through tall grass, and it was still pretty slow going, due to the conga line. It didn't spread out until maybe about mile 6 or 7, when it became a fire trail. The good part about this, is that it was an out and back section, so from mile 7 to the aid station (and turn around) at mile 10, you could see who was ahead of you and then afterward you could see who was behind. This often means cheering for a lot of your friends and/or fellow racers.

Bolinas Ridge Trail

Mile 10 - 20: There was an aid station around mile 10, where we got sunscreen and cheer from our friend Jenni. The aid station was also back at the bottom of a small hill, so afterward we hiked back up the hill, and back along the fire road. I remember talking to my running buddy about everything under the sun: her parents and their wacky ways, life in general, the price of gas when we started driving. At this point, the guy hiking up the hill next to us, who was wearing the craziest Hawaii printed swimming trunks, said gas was about .24 cents when he started driving. After that it was a really long uphill trek along the Matt Davis trail to Cardiac aid station, which is at the top of the hill. I was already starting to feel my Achilles and I wined to Kelly but she was not having any of that. She basically told me to shape up and get over it, and that there was no way I was going to quit this race. So I shut up and got over it (mostly).

Mile 20 - 30: After Cardiac, it is downhill to Muir Beach. This was one of my least favorite sections. The downhill was not too bad, but after the big downhill, you get to the highway, and have to run along that for a couple miles to get to Muir Beach. I was not a fan of the highway. After the highway, you reach the Zen center, but at that point, I was not feeling so zen. At Muir Beach, Jenni once again was there for moral support. We loaded up on watermelon and potatoes and started the climb up the Miwok trail.

Mile 30 - 40: At this point I was feeling okay. My Achilles was aching a little and my muscles were definitely reminding me that I was under-trained. At this point Kelly and I were not really saying too much to each other anymore. We had pretty much chatted non-stop for the first 30 miles, but now we were focusing on the path ahead of us. Of course it was another big uphill and another long down to get to the place I was most looking forward to, which was the Tennessee Valley aid station. Here is where I had my drop bag with lube, sunscreen, extra food and best of all, an extra pair of shoes and socks.

Changing my shoes and socks at mile 36 (TV) was the best thing I think I have ever done in my life. I felt refreshed and my toes felt happier. I resupplied my pack, threw away my garbage, grabbed a hummus and pita from the aid station and we hit the road again. Jenni was there again, which was mostly because her husband, who she was crewing, was running at about the same pace as us. I was even more glad to see her this time, as my spirits were starting to flag a bit by now. The fact that she was wearing a super woman outfit and a sparkly tutu was probably a big plus.

Trail angels
Mile 40 - 50:  The last section was a 11  mile loop around the coast and back to TV before heading on the final stretch home. This included one of the most beautiful parts of the course. First you go around on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the city. Then you head back around to the TV aid station at mile 47. At this point, I was pretty tired. I recovered my drop bag and was fishing around for more food when I ran into Dennis, an running friend of mine, who was pacing someone else. He told me to stop lollygagging and to get a move on. I was a bit bummed by the remaining aid station food, which consisted of jelly beans and cold pizza. I was feeling kind of hungry though, so I ate a few jelly beans and we headed out. Joining up with us was Kelly's pacer, John.

View of the city from the Coastal trail.

Next you go up, up, up the Coastal trail and then down to Pirates cove and then back up to the top of the hill again before heading to Muir beach. On this section we caught up again with Hawaiian shorts dude, whose name turned out to be Bob. We had been leapfrogging him for quite some time and as we headed up the hill on the Coastal trail, we chatted with him once again. I was really dreading the downhills more than the uphill.

Pirates Cove

Mile 50 - 62: Around mile 51, we got back to the Muir beach aid station. At this point I was pretty ready to be done. I knew what I had left: the paved section again, then back up the Cardiac hill to the Cardiac aid station. I knew that once I reached this, I would be fine. However, I was dreading the final downhill from Cardiac, as I remembered it as quite steep and my quads were pretty mad at me right now. Also, I was not sure if we would make it to the finish before dark, but I really wanted to try. We headed out. As we hit the pavement, my mind said, "screw this, I am going to move as fast as possible in order to get this over with" and I left Kelly and John in the dust. Okay, not really the dust, since (a) we were on pavement and (b) I was only running a few seconds faster than them. I passed about 10 people on this section, as many of them were walking, but I did not want to slow down; I just wanted to be done.

Next was the hill to Cardiac. This was not as bad as I thought it may be. I plodded along, passing people, getting passed, until I reached the aid station at the top of the hill. At this point, the sun was halfway down and it was getting  bit dusky. The aid station only had dry PB&Js and warm sports drink, so I left without getting anything and headed down the hill. The good thing was that it was not as steep as I remember it being and I actually ran down it the entire way. The other plus was that the sun was going down and I had a beautiful view of the sunset and the ocean as I was coming down the hill.

Dipsea trail to Stinston beach

I crossed the finish line with a time of 15:11, just as dark was beginning to fall.

The Verdict? Was this my fastest race? No. However, it was all in all not as bad as I thought it would be, having gone into it with a minor injury and not enough training. Would I like to do it again? Probably, because I know that I can do it better. Was I proud of myself? Definitely. This, to date, is my longest distance ever and I finished the race before the cutoff. That is something to be proud of. And actually, I was less sore in the days after Miwok than I was in the days following Boston.

Now the question is...since this is a Western States qualifying race, will I put my name in the lottery for WSER next year? I think I have to. Don't I?

What is the longest distance you have ever run? Do you ever post recaps really late just to have a record or would you say, "forget about it" after a certain amount of time has gone by?

10.06.2014

Flowers in Their Hair

The last weekend of September, as I mentioned in my September recap, was a great, fun (and eating) filled weekend with a few of my blogger friends (turned real life friends). They have been all meeting up together for a running weekend each year for about the last 3 or 4 years. This year, I was lucky enough that they chose my city to have their adventure in. I have met up with a couple of them before in various places around the world (Minneapolis, San Francisco, Charlotte and Squamish) but it was especially fun to host them and to show them some of my favorite places. In addition, they all rented a house in my old neighborhood, and it was so nostalgic being back there again, especially since their house was laid out just like the place I had when I lived there!

It started on Thursday, when Lauren and Lisa arrived. I met them in the city and they came over to Oakland with me on the bus. They were really troopers, hauling their suitcases on the public transportation during rush hour. We all went to one of my favorite Korean restaurants, Jong Ga House, which was really fun, as both Lisa and Lauren had never had Korean food. If you have ever had it, you will know that you get several "side dishes" called banchan, which vary in number. In this place, we got about 20 different ones! Of course we also had the traditional spicy tofu soup as well as a variety of barbequed meats.

Old photo, same restaurant

On Friday, I had to work all day and then I had a work event afterward, so the girls were on their own. However, on Saturday, I met up with all four of them (Leigh and Amber had arrived the night before) and we all ran the Berkeley Trail Adventure in Tilden park. Afterward, we went to Sam's Log Cabin in Albany for some delicious pancakes, eggs and fried chicken. I dropped the ladies back off in the city, went and dropped off the car and then rode my bike back to meet up with them again.

Of course, the next part was my favorite, because it was in my old neighborhood! We wandered around the Mission, stopping for a burrito at El Farolito and then HAD TO end the night with some ice cream from my favorite place in the city, Mitchells. The only problem is deciding which flavor to get (I got a double scoop of pumpkin and macapuno)! 

The next day we did something I have never done, although I have lived in the area for years. We biked across the bridge to Sausalito and took the ferry back. It is such a touristy thing to do that I have to admit, I have poo-pooed it, but I am so glad that we did it, as it was a ton of fun. We started nice and early, so that there were not too many looky loos on the bridge, so I think that made it even better. Once in Sausalito, we wandered to a breakfast place, Freds, which was pretty darn good! We headed back on the ferry and then rode over to the Ferry Building before all going our own ways. 


It is so fun to see my home through different eyes, as it reminds me of how much I love it here. The girls were taking photos of the fun houses and the interesting food, and it made me remember how lucky I am to live in such a gorgeous place, with good weather, and multiple food choices.

Another plus was the ease of spending time with these ladies. They are like old friends, even the ones I have not officially met before, and it was so easy to hang out with them. There was no drama, no worries about impressing people or worry about what to do. I made them all ride crammed in a mini for an hour in traffic and they were such good sports about it! I dragged them around the city and made them eat weird food and they did not complain once. All in all, I could not have asked for a better group of girls or a more fun weekend. They are welcome back any time (plus there are still so many things I want to show them)!

What is your "tried and true" routine when you have visitors to your home town? What is your favorite type of food? What type of food have you never tried that you would like to try?


10.01.2014

Looking Back: September

Right now I am jumping for joy, because September was a very good month! I can't say that I have gotten back into my "normal" routine (because what is that, anyway?) but I am feeling a little more organized, and have actually had a chance to do a bit of cleaning and cooking and, you know, normal stuff, without feeling like I am being pulled in a million different directions, or that I "should" be doing something more important. After studying, and then the hangover afterward, I have felt a bit discombobulated. However, September has been a slow easing of that feeling, and I am hoping October will continue to do the same.

Running: 205 miles. I am counting the miles I hiked through the Alps as "running" miles, as I was power hiking, and I often power hike when I trail run, so I am claiming them. On top of that, I also have been biking to work a couple of times a week, and so have about 40 cycling miles in September as well. I only had one race in September, which was the Berkeley Trail Adventure with some great blogger friends, but that will probably be a separate post.

Reading: Hurray for reading! This is what I have missed the most over the past few months. In September I read 8 books, which is more than I have read in one month for...well, for a long, long time. My favorite of all of them was probably Unbroken, which is the story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, and his trials and tribulations during WWII (including a shipwreck and a long time at sea).

Travel: This is going to be another blog post in itself. However, to sum it all up, I spent two excellent weeks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, mostly hiking in the Alps and eating a lot of bread and cheese!


The hills ARE alive....

In addition: I had a great weekend relaxing and getting some errands done, which was much needed, I went to the eye doctor and the dentist (finally!), met up with a friend for a walk and a catch up session and even went to an Oakland A's game. Then the last weekend of the month was a fun filled weekend with Lisa, Amber, Lauren and Leigh, who came to San Francisco for some girl time, sightseeing and running. I couldn't have had a better ending to my month.

I am hoping October gives me a chance to catch up with some other friends and family who I haven't seen very often, as well as getting a chance to kind of settle back into life again. However, I am known for filling up weekends even while saying that I need a break, so we shall see! You have to make hay while the sun shines, right?

How was your September? Have you ever seen the Sound of Music? What do you do to recharge?

9.22.2014

Looking Back: August

August? Yup; I am only a month behind... Bear with me as I try to recap August before September ends!

August was an eventful month for me. I studied for, took, and passed my final licensing exam for work. This was a relief, and I spent the remainder of the month planning a vacation as a treat for all the studying I had done over the last few months.

Miles: 189. I had one 50k race, and I have to proudly give a quick shout out to broski, as it was his first ultra! I had over a 10 minute PR from my last year's time for this race, and broski finished well within the cutoff. I also bought a new backpack and in trying to test it out, I did a few run commutes home from work. It's not quite a true run commute, as I have to take the BART across the bay, but it is about 4 -8 miles with the pack, so I will take it.

Books: Finally I am done studying, so I have more time to do what I really love and...read! I only read two books, my favorite of which was the Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory. It is a historical fiction about Katherine of Aragon, who was married to good ol' Henry VIII. I love learning more about history, and Gregory teaches you in a way that entertains you and makes you want to learn more.

Travel: I had a most excellent time visiting with my parents in NYC. We spent the days tiring them out by walking everywhere, eating a lot and seeing all that we could in such a short time! It was pretty warm and muggy while I was there, but I had a lot of fun wandering around and exploring the city. We went to the Brooklyn promenade, Staten Island, Chinatown, and much, much more. My favorite was the night we went for German food, at a pigs knuckle and a liter of beer, and then wandered back home through the upper East side. We all slept good that night!

The Ghostbusters Fire House

In addition, I spent a weekend with my brother,  his girlfriend and her family, camping in Humboldt county.  We had a great time jumping off the rope swing, hiking, swimming in the river and eating a gourmet campsite meal around the fire! I also met up with my mom for a quick lunch in midtown Sacramento, a nice chat and a wander around before she headed to NYC. This  month was a great month for family visits!

I have to be honest, I am glad, glad, GLAD to not have to study anymore. I will have about 20 extra "free" hours a week! I almost don't know what to do with them. Okay, that's not true. I am sure I can think of something.

What is your favorite thing to do in New York City (or whichever city is your favorite)? What is your perfect summer weekend?

8.08.2014

Looking Back & Looking Forward

Goodbye July! Hello August!

Looking back, July was a mixture of study and work with a bit of running thrown in! Here's how it shaped up by the numbers.

Miles: 141. This was one of my lower running months. I scaled it down to about 2 - 3 times a week in order to study and I really am feeling the difference. The only reason it was even over a hundred is because I threw  a 50 mile race in there, otherwise I wouldn't even have broken the 100 mile mark for the month. I am really looking forward to getting back into the running groove, as my pants are not quite fitting as well as they used to and I miss that great post run feeling!

Books: 2. I read The End of Your Life Book Club, which was okay. I think that my expectations were too high, as many of my friends had said that they loved it and I expected to love it too. It was a book about books, which is usually good, but I just found it did not catch my attention as much as I had hoped it would. I also read The Cactus Eaters, which is a book about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I found the main character a bit annoying, which was similar to another PCT book I read (Wild). I find this strange because all of the PCT hikers I met while growing up seemed perfectly normal. Maybe just the ones who write books are a bit self centered.

Travel Miles: 400 (by car). I went to South Lake Tahoe for the weekend of the 50 mile race. It was a lot of fun and it is one of my favorite trails and it is always inspiring to see the 100 mile runners and their bravery and grit. Also it was about 90 degrees and then it hailed on us as we were running, so it was quite an adventure overall.

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And now....Looking Forward!

Today I am looking forward to getting off work! As soon as I get off I am meeting up with my brother and his girlfriend and we are heading north for a weekend of camping among the redwoods. I am going to swim and hike and eat grilled meat and read and take pictures and just enjoy being outside on a beautiful summer weekend in the woods!

In the next  week I am looking forward to planning a vacation! In my last post I mentioned some of the things I wanted to do once I was done with my exam, and camping and planning a vacation were two of them. So, let's get cracking! I want to do an active (hiking) vacation so am leaning towards somewhere in the Alps! Does anyone have any Alps hiking tips?

In the next  month I am looking forward to going to NYC to see my parents! My dad is currently in Manhattan and I haven't seen him in forever, so I am taking the opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities and see two of my favorite people all at the same time. I can't wait to wander the streets with them, take a run along the Hudson and eat lots of yummy food!

In the next year I am looking forward to a September running weekend with the girls, hiking Mt. Whitney, girls night at my house, catching up on my reading, Thanksgiving & Christmas with family, a vacation, and many other little things! I am also looking forward to seeing what life has up it's sleeve for me. The past year has been a busy one and one where I have learned a lot of new things, and I am sure the next one will be equally as informative and full of new things!

How was your July? When does "summer end" in your opinion? What are you looking forward to?