Foodie Reveal: May

The Lean Green Bean
This month I thought it would be fun to participate in Lindsay's Foodie Pen Pal program. It's pretty easy; you just sign up. On the 5th of the month you find out who you are buying for and who is buying for you! You have 10 days to get to know them and figure out if they have any food restrictions or preferences before you have to send your box! It's a great way to try new things and to meet new friends!

The person who picked me was Andria. She is my kind of girl: a runner, a user of strange pantry items and a lover of red wine and dark chocolate. She did a great job picking out items for my box! You can tell she put a lot of thought into it and paid attention to what I said I liked and disliked!

The Loot
1. Dark Chocolate Bar: I used this to make the Garbanzo Brownies and I think that it had a huge (positive) influence in the way they taste! Of course I tried some beforehand and it was delicious! 80% cacao! Yum. Andria did such a good job of picking not only things I love, but this chocolate is also fair traded and organic, which is an added bonus.

2. Homemade Maple Oat Muffins: These were so good I ate them all in about two days. Well I didn't want them to go bad!

3. Lara Bars: She didn't even know it, but these are my favorite (or maybe she snooped on my blog)! I love trying new ones, so the Blueberry was a nice treat!

4. Spicy mix: This was gone after the first day, since I took it with me to my parent's house and together we pretty much demolished it!

5. Coffee: YUM. French Roast? Even better! Another local treasure!

6. Justins Nut Butters: I have never tried these, as they tend to be a bit expensive, but have always wanted to! I love peanut and almond butters and since I travel/move around a lot, this size is perfect!

7. Spicy Curry Mix: I am saving this for a curried tofu dish I want to make! I love curries and trying new things when cooking, so I am excited to try it out! 

Thanks again Andria! You can also go over to Amber's to see what I sent to MY foodie pen pal! 

Have you ever tried any of these items? What is your favorite Nutrition bar? Have you ever had a pen pal, foodie or otherwise?


Snakes and Stones

I love running on trails. However, I have started to avoid a few nearby ones due to the fact that there are massive poison oak bushes. I don't mind when it's on the sides, but on some of the smaller trails, its up over the trail and it's unavoidable. Usually I try to find trails where it's not so prevalent. That's one thing I try to avoid.

The other thing is snakes. Unfortunately, I guess Spring has Sprung (!) because they are everywhere. All of the below incidences were in the last two weeks.

Case 1: I decide to go on a 6 mile trail run at my parent's house on the Pacific Crest Trail. I guess spring maintenance hasn't happened yet, because it was so overgrown and the trail was covered with grass and I saw 2 rattle snakes and in trying to avoid them was running into poison oak. So I quit early.

Case 2: The next day, my Dad and I find a clearer trail (brush wise) but see a rattle snake, a racer snake and a gopher snake. Whew. On our drive home, we see THREE (!!) King snakes. However, the King Snake is a good snake, since it is immune to rattlesnake venom and it preys on rattlers as well. I don't know what happened with these three, but they were all run over on the highway about 100 ft apart. I guess they were all trying to cross at once?

California Kingsnake

Case 3: On the American River Bike Trail, in the middle of Sacramento, I almost stepped on the head of a fairly large rattlesnake. I gave a VERY girly scream and jumped out of the way.

Case 4: A few days ago in Oakland, I was doing some trail running and saw a rattle snake and another black snake with long (lengthwise) yellow stripes. I think it's a racer? I did not poke either with a stick. This would not be prudent. Did you know that approximately 72% of rattlesnake bites are due to someone (usually intoxicated males in their 20s) handling them? Less than 30% of bites are from accidental contact.

Case 5: On my volunteer run in the Ohlone Wilderness, we came across a baby rattler. Did you know that they are more dangerous than the adults because they don't filter how much venom they inject? They may empty out all their venom into you in one go. This would have been especially bad that day, since I was approximately 8 miles away from any help.

(that's 12 total folks!) 

I am not sure why there are so many snakes out right now. Perhaps the dry winter spawned a few more babies (did you know rattlesnakes give birth to live young?) this year! Whatever the reason, be on the lookout! My problem is that every stick I see, every root, every tree branch...is a snake!

Just so you are aware, if you are bitten, remain calm. Only 5 out of approximately 7000 bites are fatal. If you can get the anti-venom within 2 hours, you have a 99% chance of survival. The more calm you are, the lower your heart rate, which also slows the spread of the venom. Also, don't handle a rattlesnake, even if you think it's dead. They can inject venom even after their head has been chopped off for several hours.

Just for fun, I made a collage of some of the other animals I have come across on my runs/hikes lately.


Clockwise from top left corner
Racer Snake, Goat, Bison, Mule Deer, Weird lizard with stumpy tail, possible Western Fence Lizard, Banana Slug, Black snake in KS (huge!)

Not Pictured
Cow, Coyote, Quail, Turkey, Bluebird, Rabbit, Squirrel

Do you see a lot of animals on your runs/walks/outdoor adventures? Do you know anyone who has been bitten by a rattlesnake?


Lovely News

I have to be honest with you all. 

I have been hiding something from you. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, I am a doubting Thomas. I don't really believe that something good is going to happen until it actually happens. This is especially true when it is something that I have absolutely no control over. I mean, I doubt no matter what, while at the same time hoping that plans will go through, but still keeping that low expectation in my mind so I won't be disappointed later on. I know that is no way to be, since it limits my getting super excited over anything because there is always a seed of..."will it really happen?" in my mind.

Also, I feel like if I say it out loud and then it doesn't happen, I look like a flake, or like someone who doesn't follow through, even if it wasn't my fault that the thing didn't happen. So I just keep my mouth shut until things are in place. 

I am a planner, so when I know for sure something is happening, I like to do everything I can to make it go smoothly and be perfect, but if there is a chance it won't happen, I am kind of at loose ends, not knowing if I should start buying stuff/moving stuff/working on things/organizing things/making plans or if I should just sit back and wait. Which I am NOT good at.

Anyway, this time the waiting has paid off. Mr Lovely, who recently decided to go back to school, applied for some research projects with different schools around the country and he got accepted for one in Santa Cruz, which is about 60 miles away from San Francisco. The project is for 10 weeks and it starts in a week! I am excited because as you may or may not know, he lives near Boston and we only see each other once in a while, so this will be some much needed time spent together. Also, what better place to spend a summer than on the beach!?

Lighthouse Point Park

We had a heck of a time finding an apartment. We wanted something furnished. Since it is only 10 weeks, it doesn't really makes sense for me to move all my furniture etc down there (my storage is about 200 miles away), load it and unload it, just to load it up and move it back in a couple of months. However, you may be surprised, but apparently we are not the only ones looking for a furnished, short term rental near the beach for the summer.  So we went with plan B, which is to get an unfurnished place. I have the essentials already, like kitchen stuff, linens, some small appliances and bedding. Our next adventure is a trip to the thrift store for (hopefully) a couple of ugly cheap pieces of furniture which we will have Salvation Army pick up at the end of the summer.

Something like THIS maybe? (source)

Or this? (source)

So right now my car is jam packed full of odds and ends. Our move in date is set for June 3. We are ready for a new adventure! Bring it on!

Have you ever been to Santa Cruz? Do you have any tips on buying used furniture?


Food Firsts (3)

Happy Memorial Day! Did you know that yesterday was also the 75th birthday for the Golden Gate Bridge? I did not attend, but there was quite the hoopla in the city, culminating in fireworks set to music, courtesy of KFOG (a great radio station). Did you know that you can download the KFOG app and listen anytime, anywhere!? You should check it out. My favorite is the acoustical sunrise.

My computer is still broken, which means I cannot upload any photos AND I tend to save future posts as word docs, which I now cannot access. So, in lieu of an interesting and funny post, I am going to share a couple of the recipes that I made over the weekend. Both of these were adapted from this site. If you get a chance you should go over and check it out. Laura is a mother, a runner and a darn good cook! If we lived closer together I know we would be good friends and probably even running buddies, although she is a little faster than I am!

Garbanzo Brownies:

These were very good and did not taste like beans at all! I actually ate half of the batter as I was making them, so you may want to double the recipe so you can have extra for snacking while cooking!

- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flax
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp nut butter 
- 3.5 oz 80% (or 70 or 60) dark chocolate bar (I like this one)
- 1 tsp vanilla

Split the chocolate bar in half. Melt half of the chocolate and chop the other half into small pieces (you can also use chocolate chips). Add the melted part to the rest of the ingredients and blend all ingredients  thoroughly in a food processor. I had to also add a little bit of water to the mix to make it a bit more creamy. You don't want it too thin though!

Spread the mix in a greased 9x9 baking pan. Top with remaining chocolate (chips/chunks). Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350. The brownies come out dark and moist and for me, just sweet enough. If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to follow Laura's recipe more closely, as it calls for 2 tbsp of maple syrup as well. I cut mine into 16 pieces and they came out to a little less than 100 calories each.

Apple Oat Cookies:

These don't use any flour either and are very fun and nutty. In fact, I may have eaten them for breakfast a time or two. Laura's original recipe called for carrots, rolled oats and oat bran, but I had flax, no carrots, and steel cut oats. They turned out fine.

- 3 ripe bananas, smashed
- 1 cup steel cut (or rolled) oats
- 1 cup flax meal
- 1 apple, shredded
- pinch cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or equivalent)
- 1/2 cup raisins (or dried fruit)
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup applesauce (I cut up one apple and stewed it in a pan with 1/4 cup water and a dash of cinnamon)

Mix all ingredients together and place in spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350. I found it helped to kind of smash the cookies down a little so they are flat. That way the middle gets thoroughly cooked. Otherwise a few in my first batch were a little moist on the inside. Also, they don't rise/spread, so you can pack them in on the cookie sheet. This recipe made about 40 small cookies.

I hope you are all enjoying your day off! Tomorrow, I have big news to share!

Have you ever tried bean brownies? Are you off of work today? What fun things did you do this weekend?


Running Related Tidbits (2)

The last week has been a bevy of running related experiences. I am going to share a few of them with you.

- I went to see my parents last weekend. My dad had a 5k race on Saturday so I ran with him. I am not going to write his recap for him (Dad -- I need your race report by noon tomorrow) but he did great. We started off at a "conversational" pace. He runs naked (sans Garmin) so he runs according to how he feels. He is also very modest. I think he thinks he runs a 9 minute mile, but we were clocking in between 7 and 8 minute miles the entire time. He ended up with a 23:xx and an average pace of 7:54 (or thereabouts). He also got 2nd in his age group. I am so proud of him. He has always been an inspiration to me and is the main reason I am as active as I am today!

- Last weekend I volunteered for a 50k race. I was at one of the aid stations, giving water and food to all the runners. To get to the aid station, I had to run to it, which was a ten mile run. I started at 7 a.m. and ran with the guys who do the course markings (flour and ribbons), which took about 2.5 hours. Then we handed out aid (with a group of boy scouts who were a kick in the pants -- how old are they? 50 or 15?) to the runners, which was SO inspiring. They were fast, slow, young, old, big and small! I think I am ready to follow their footsteps and try my own ultra! After the race, which was HOT, we ran the 10 miles back to the car. I made some new (great) friends and had a very good time!

- I am looking to buy a hydration pack/vest. I want something that is not too big, doesn't bounce around (naturally), holds about 2 liters and has pockets on the front straps/waist belt. Abbi suggested the Intensity and I also looked at the HPL#020. What do you guys think? Any suggestions?

- On Wednesday night I decided to go join up with a trail running group. I did it mostly because the Brooks rep was going to be there and so I got a chance to wear test the Pure Connect, which is a low drop shoe which is quite light. I actually wanted to try the trail running shoe, the Pure Grit, since I am thinking about buying a trail runner and wanted to test a couple out before buying. I generally wear Asics because I like to have a wider toe box, but would be open to trying something different! I want it to be fairly light and have a rock plate if possible (I like the Fuji Racer, but have heard negative reports about the holes in the bottom). Do you have a trail running shoe you can recommend?  

- As for the group run, the shoes were pretty good! And I am not sore at all: not feet, not legs, not sore! I have to admit, I tried the Brooks Glycerine and am not a fan. But maybe next time I need a new shoe, I will get the Connct. But for now, I will stick to my Asics. Other than the shoes, the run was okay. I still ran alone, which is what I prefer. And I've run in the area before, so it wasn't even like I found a fun new running trail. I really don't think I am a group running type person. I like to run at my own pace. I did notice a lot of folks running in little groups, so maybe it's great for them, but I don't think it's for me. It was nice to test out the shoes though.

- I signed up for race #6 of 12 in 2012: See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda on June 3rd. This will give me the opportunity to run a flatter (read: non trail) race to see how my road running fitness is going. After that though, I am back to the trails on June 23rd for this race, which I think I will do as a 30k. There is also a marathon and a 50k, which as John pointed out, would make me a Maniac (3 marathons or longer length in 90 days) if I did one of those instead.

Have you ever run as a pacer/bandit/friend with someone at their race? Are you a maniac? Do you like going on group runs (and if so, why)?

Don't forget to go to Jill's for other Fitness Friday posts!


Book Review: Saving Ruth

Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman

This book was about a young Jewish girl from the south who returns home to Alabama after going to college in Michigan for a year. She has changed, and not all for the good. She left home a bit overweight and developed an eating disorder while she was gone. When she returns home, she not only has to face that fact, but she also has to deal with other adult issues such as familial problems, racial issues and romantic endeavors. 

I remember being 19 and coming back home "all grown up" after being gone for a year. I didn't have the same issues that Ruth had, but this book still hit a place in my heart because like Ruth, at that age, you spend a lot of time trying to find yourself. She unfortunately goes down the wrong path and decides to starve herself in order to stay thin, and when she does, she discovers a new found popularity. Or perhaps she was not unpopular before, but only discovered a new found confidence. Didn't we all experience that one way or another? 

However, this confidence is unhealthy. To top things off, her brother David, who used to be the life of the party, and who is also home from college, spends his summer brooding and moping around. She feels like he is ignoring her and is upset about something but he won't talk to her about it; he just brushes her off.

They both deny having any problems until there is a big blowout with the whole family and they both have to finally face the truth. They are not alone, however.  It turns out they are not the only one with issues to deal with. I found this also quite realistic, as it seems like much of the time many of us tend to deal with (or point out) other people's issues before admitting or fixing our own.

I found this book a quick and easy read. I liked Ruth and her family. I found her believable and likeable and at times both immature and mature for her age. I really wanted her to succeed and I felt that she did, in her own way. I

If you want to read more reviews or see the rest of the tour dates for this book, you can do that here. You can also learn more about Zoe on her website, Facebook, and Twitter! Zoe will also be interviewed by Book Club Girl on the Book Club Girl On Air show on Tuesday, June 12th at 7pm ET.

Do you remember your first summer (or trip) back home after being gone for college? How did it turn out? Did you feel like an adult?  

I received this book from TLC Book Tours for free in return for an honest review. I was not required to post a positive review. All opinions are my own. 


The Spice of Life

When I was growing up, my family had a lot of phrases that were used in order to keep us in line or to remember things. They were used frequently, some more than others. I am not sure that sometimes they were even true. However, I have a few examples below. You can tell me what you think.

Waste Not, Want Not: For example, if you were full and you still had food on your plate. Or maybe you were giving an ugly sweater given to you by a distant relative to Goodwill. This is a close cousin to “People are Starving in China”. Although I am not a fan of needlessly throwing things away, I believe this was a ploy put in place by my family to make me eat my Brussel sprouts. No, but really it's good to learn early to use what you have rather than needlessly buying more things!

The Lazy Man Always Works the Hardest: This was a classic and was used frequently. For example, when stacking firewood, if you took one piece at a time and carried it from one pile to another, you were deemed the “lazy man” because you should be taking several sticks as a load, rather than one. I actually agree with this one to a certain degree. I am not sure if the lazy man works the hardest, but he definitely takes the longest! So, it essentially means: sit down and take time to figure out the most efficient way to do a job before running willy-nilly all about the place.

Cheaters Never Prosper: Obviously, this one is pretty common and is self-explanatory. Don’t cheat. It won’t get you anywhere. This is a good lesson to be learned, except that it is not always true. However, true or not, you should hold yourself in a high esteem and follow it, even if other people do not. This goes well with “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right”, which was another family favorite.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned: Financial responsibility started early in my family. This saying is interesting, because if you turned it around to a Penny earned is a Penny saved, it may or may not be true, depending on who is doing the earning. The way that it is, it may still be debated, such as, isn’t a penny saved just a penny saved? Either way, I started saving my pennies early in life. I guess the point is that it's easier to save one that you already earned than to earn one more from working more.

A Pint’s a Pound, The World Around: I am still not sure if this is true or not, but I do use it anyway to figure out the weight of liquids. For example, a gallon of milk = 8 pints, therefore, a gallon = 8 pounds. It's a good rough estimate.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure: This is true. How many times have you gone through your friend’s old clothes and found a nice new outfit for yourself? However (see Waste Not, Want Not), when you have a slight tendency towards hoarding, you need to be careful or everyone’s trash may be your treasure. My family is not on the scale of Hoarders, by all means, but you still have to watch what you save. Sometimes it really is just trash.

A Job Worth Doing is a Job Worth Doing Well: Amen to this one! I hated it when my Dad would inspect my sweeping and mopping job with a fine toothed comb, but now I know he was just trying to teach me not to do a job half way. I have worked with many an adult that has still never learned this lesson. They just do the bare minimum and it drives me nuts. If you are going to do a job, do it right.

You Learn Something New Every Day: I have talked about this one before in my What I Learned posts, but this was a common saying around the dinner table at my house. I understand now that this was probably just my parents way of getting us to talk about our days, as well as trying to get us to realize that we really do learn something each day, whether it’s book smart or street smart or just a joke told to us by a friend. Don’t sell yourself short.

Variety is the Spice of Life: Oh, the spiciness of variety. This one could give you the wrong message. Maybe it means: don’t get married? Or perhaps: don’t eat chicken EVERY day? I think it means that we should try not to be close-minded and we should try new things, go to new places, see new things and meet new people. It means that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the small world that we live in.

Of course there were many, many more, but the above were some of the ones that stuck with me!

What sayings were used by your parents to keep you in line? What phrases do you use with your kids? What is your interpretation of the "penny saved" phrase?


Tuesday Training

I have not really talked about this lately, because I feel like it's not as big of a deal, but I signed up for another marathon. It's in August. So, I am already a few weeks into my marathon training for the race. I have to admit, like everyone (I guess) I would like to qualify for Boston. But I am not sure if I have it in me. I am not doubting my ability to get faster, but I have recently been distracted by trail racing, which I love, and am contemplating signing up for a 30k in June and a 50k in August.

Am I crazy? Maybe. Can I do it all? I don't know. Can I try? Yes.

I am not going to bore you every week with my training details, but this week (and probably every few if I remember) I am going to! You know I hate it when people say, "I blog for myself" but in this case, I do want to get my training miles, fuel woes, and notes down on paper so I can look back later and see what I did wrong, needed to change or where I went right! And if it helps someone else, that is great too. So it's for me, and for you, if you want it. If you get bored reading post after post about mileage and taper and Gu, you may want to skip this one.

The Marathon: Santa Rosa Marathon

The Training "Plan" (loosely followed so far!): Hal Higdon's Advanced Plan. I wanted to run at least two 20 mile runs before the race. This advanced plan actually calls for 3. This plan also suggests alternating (on Thursday) hill, speed and tempo runs. Some of the other plans did not have any speed work, but I NEED to get faster in order to get the (new and "improved") 3:35 BQ time required for my age group. And I would LIKE to get more like a 3:30.

WEEK ONE: Goal: 27.5 miles / Actual: 27.5 miles / Long Run: 10 miles

Week one went exactly as planned. I did two easy runs, a hill run, a pace run and a long run. The plan calls for 6 days of running per week, which I find a bit excessive, so I put two of them together and still got the mileage with 5 runs instead. I was surprised by how hard the pace run was. I ran it at an average of 7:55/mi, with my fastest mile at 7:10/mi.

WEEK TWO: Goal: 31 miles / Actual 31 miles / Long Run: 7 miles**

Week two was the weekend of The Relay, so I ran 16 miles total on Sunday, but it was run in 4 separate legs (7 mi, 2 mi, 6.2 mi, 1.2 mi), so I guess my actual long run was only 7 miles. I also skipped the tempo run on Thursday but ran my 1st leg (7 miles) of the Relay near tempo pace (7:43 according to the McMillan Pace Calculator).

WEEK THREE: Goal: 31 miles / Actual: 32 miles / Long Run: 13 miles

As you can see, I lowered week three to 5 days a week as well, and added a bit of extra mileage in the form of a trail race. I love adding races to my training plan as long runs, as they are so fun! However, I maybe should have dialed it back a little and spread it out over 6 days, since I was pretty sore from the Relay. This week’s Thursday run was 4x800 intervals, which I ran at an average of 7:52. The fastest 800 was 6:36. In order to get a 3:30 marathon according to Bart Yasso, I should be running my 800s at about 7 minutes. I wouldn’t mind being faster than that though.

WEEK FOUR: Goal: 33 miles / Actual 28 miles / Long Run: 19 miles

This also includes 4 mi walk on Mon and 5 mile hike on Fri.

Week 4 was hard because I was still a bit fatigued from the Relay/Half, and then I went to my parents house and my 6 mile run became a 1 mile run because of snakes and poison oak. I also knew that I was going to be running a pretty long run on Sunday and did not want to be as tired on Sunday as I was last Saturday. So I took it easy this week. I am glad that I did because Sunday’s run was pretty hot and VERY hilly and I went through a lot of water and a lot of wear and tear on the ol’ quads. And thank goodness, because I feel great now because of it! I also "skipped" Thursday's hill run because the run on Sunday had about a 7000 ft climb. I think that warrants a skip! Wednesday I moved heavy boxes and gardened and washed cars. I am calling that cross training.

So, a few questions for you guys: Have you ever run an Ultra race? Do you think I can fit in a 30k, an ultra and a marathon in a two month period? I am planning on running a flat half marathon at the start of June just so I can analyze my road racing fitness level a bit, but other than that, much of my running/training will be on trails. Have any of you run the Santa Rosa Marathon? Do any of you hate training recaps? Go ahead and say it; I won’t be mad.


Last Week (2)

Hello and happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I had quite the eventful week last week. Here are a few of the things I spent my time on.

I started some seeds. We shall see how it goes. 
I am sure there will be a future post on this.
I am excited to try! My houseplant thumb is green; we will see how my veggie thumb goes.

I celebrated my birthday. 
For some reason Marlboro sent me a birthday card. 
(a) I don't smoke
and (b) even if I did, how the heck did they know it was my birthday?  

For my birthday, I had dinner in the city. 
And wandered. I love wandering. 

I love this sign. 

I went to see my parents. 
We took a nice hike. 

To a waterfall. 

 On Saturday, we went to the farmers market. 
Have you ever seen green eggs?

My dad ran a 5k and got 2nd in his age group! 
Go Dad!

Then something bad happened. 
I think Mr. Dell is mostly dead. 
I am hoping he will snap out of it. 

Sunday I ran 19 miles to volunteer at this race
It was hot.
I made some new friends.
This deserves a post of it's own. 

How was your weekend? Have you ever had computer issues? Is all your stuff backed up?


Cinderella Trail Run: Race Recap

Last weekend, I ran the Cinderella Trail Run as half marathon number 5 of the 12 in 2012 Challenge. It was in Oakland about three miles from my house. The course ran through trails in both the Redwood Regional Park and Joaquin Miller Parks. This race, like the last trail race I did, was hosted by Coastal. I am so glad I found out about them! Their races have been fun, the field is very small (therefore intimate) and both the ultra runners and the race directors are awesome. Plus I get to eat gummy bears as fuel.

The details: This race started at 8 a.m. The weather was forecasting temperatures in the 80s, and in the morning, by about 7, it was already feeling pretty warm. Luckily much of the trail was in the shade. There was a 10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and 50k.

The course: This was a loop course. The half marathoners did the loop once; the marathoners did it twice and the 50k folks did it twice plus an extra 10k loop. The total ascent according to my Garmin was about 7800 ft. The course winds through a nice shady, wooded area mostly, and affords views of the city, the bay, the Golden Gate bridge and even the Marin Headlands!

The pros: * As I said, luckily the majority of the course was in the shade. However, the 1000 ft climb you see in the profile above was NOT in the shade. Go figure. * The other runners were very friendly. I usually am not one to talk to other people while I am racing, but surprisingly I had several conversations on this course. Granted, they were mostly things like, "whew it's hot, eh?" or "that's a big hill!" but still. * The volunteers were great, very friendly and eager to help. * There were few non-racing runners/walkers on the course. * There was a no shirt option, which saved $5. I took it! *At the finish, there was fruit, clif bars, soup, pretzels, candy, goldfish...and more! * They do the awards right away, so you don't have to wait around.  

The cons: * I did encounter some bicycles, but they got out of our way. However, maybe having the race on a non multi-use trail would be a good idea. * The sun on that big climb was a killer. 

The race: Right after we started, the course went uphill (you can see in the profile above). It was only about a half a mile, but it really took the wind right out of my sails! I was wheezing and panting and feeling like death. Around mile 2, the course started to go both up and downhill and I kind of got a rhythm going.

Mile 1: 10:03, Mile 2: 9:04, Mile 3: 9:03

Mile 4 had a large steep uphill. In case you have never raced trails before, you may not know that most people walk up the steep hills to save energy. I did not know this the first time and I tried to barrel up one of these steep ones and almost keeled over. Now I know. So I took this little hill slow and easy and then tried to get my rhythm back once I got to the top. However, I was still feeling very tired. I think that I ran too much this past week, especially after doing the Relay. I should have taken an extra day off. My legs feel like lead. Also, I don't think I ate enough breakfast. I didn't want to overdo it, so I fear I under did it.

Mile 4: 10:30, Mile 5: 11:43, Mile 6: 10:49

You would think that the downhills are easier, but sometimes trying not to fall on one's butt, twist one's ankle or crash into another runner (while falling on your butt and twisting your ankle) requires a lot of concentration! I feel like most of my soreness usually comes from the downhill sections. Mile 9 goes from about 500 ft to about 1200 ft in one mile.  

Mile 7: 9:03, Mile 8: 9:28, Mile 9: 13:10

Mile 10 goes from 1200 ft up to 1500 ft. This is where the, "when is this hill going to end" conversation is had. Finally the course "flattens" out before heading down a VERY sharp downhill section (a 600 ft drop in about half a mile) where I fear for my life, and then finishes with a mostly flattish section at the end. 

Mile 10: 11:33, Mile 11: 9:28, Mile 12: 9:59, Mile 13: 9:13

Finishing time: 2:10:29 (10:02/mi)

This is a 5 minute PR from the last trail race, plus I got 1st in my age group! I was the 2nd female overall; the first got a 2:08:49!! If only I wouldn't have stopped at that aid station and eaten those gummy bears! If only I would have run faster on that first mile! Oh well, next time I will beat her!

Afterward, I volunteered for a couple of hours. Its so great to stay and watch the ultra folks coming through. They are all so positive, even though they are going to have to go back out in the heat and do another loop (or two!) It's really inspiring!  Also, it's good to meet other Bay Area runners. Even if I am not a group running person, it's still nice to be part of the running community!

The verdict? I would run this race again. However, I would take a full rest day the day before, and I would get up earlier on race morning and eat more breakfast. I had no gas in the tanks this time! I thought I knew better than that!

Do you ever talk to people when you race? Have you ever had one of those "lead legs" or "empty gas tank" races? Would you (or have you) ever run an ultra race?


Smelly Runner

I run a lot. I don't sweat a lot. I am one of those people who's face gets bright red, so even when I am barely exerting myself, it looks like I am working hard. However, even though I don't sweat very much, I sure don't smell like roses! Also, I travel a lot, and when I travel, I run.

So when I was asked to try out a few products that would help me to not stink, I gladly agreed. The fact that two of them are bags, and I am the ultimate bag lady, was only a plus. (You know what I mean. You have a bag for each of the smaller items, each of those bags goes into a larger bag, which may or may not go into an even larger bag...am I the only one that does this?)

The first, the Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator, is a product you put in your laundry. Just a cap full is what they recommend. I think it smells good, but did not notice that it was particularly better (or worse) than my regular detergent. It did remove the smell from my running clothes, so I guess all in all, it did the job. However, I would not necessarily say that it was above and beyond what I am currently using.

Next was the Tide Odor-Absorbing Sports Bag, "so you won’t leave a trail of odors as you leave the gym or the track!" This bag is a nice size and has a drawstring top. It does keep the smell from the rest of your items and is easy to carry and is very lightweight. I actually just fold it up really tiny and then pull it out when I need it. Or it is a great place to put all your running stuff so everything is all together.

Last, but not least, in fact, this is my favorite of all three, was the Tide Odor-Absorbing Travel bag. I used it on my trip to DC and was happy about a few things. First of all, it folds up to nothing and takes up no space whatsoever when it is empty. It is also a pleasing color combination (blue with light blue dots), so that is always fun. Lastly, it does keep the odors from my dirty clothes away from the clean! I often travel with just a carry on backpack, so the size was also perfect.

These products were given to me for free in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have you tried any of these? Do you use a laundry bag when you travel? What is your favorite smelling detergent?


Spring Forward

This is the last season (ha! pun intended) of the When I Was a Child series, where we talk about the things that we remember loving from when we were children, season by season. If you haven't already, take a look at Summer, Autumn and Winter. This series was inspired by Lisa.

My Birthday: I am not really one to make a big deal out of my birthday now, but when I was a kid, I loved it! As you can see, even on my first birthday, I was excited to blow out the candles on my cake (also, apparently my parents just plopped me down in the dirt with a cupcake and called it a day!) 

Earth Day: We used to plant a tree each year for Earth Day. I know we kind of resemble the Beverly Hillbillies or some other kind of redneck in this photo, but I swear, we are helping the environment. We did NOT just bury a body in the backyard, contrary to what it may look like. I believe that is a lilac bush. Side note: those three little boys? They were pains in the $%! It was me against them most of the time. Luckily I have the pickaxe and they are armed with mere shovels.

School: Spring was a time of wrapping things up, field trips, year end trips to the pool, science fairs and other fun kinds of things. I actually enjoyed school a lot as a child. I went to a small school and the hands on environment, coupled with the freedom to learn at your own pace, was great! (side note: I was also in style. Note the color blocking and the red pants. I was 25 years ahead of my time.)

I still have that award. Cough, hoarder, cough.

Baseball: Who doesn't love baseball? I had the time of my life and met some of my best friends by playing baseball. Plus I got tan legs.

Family trips: We used to get in the motor home and drive...to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley...and more. It was a lot of fun. We got to get out of school and usually only had to write a report on what we learned on our vacation as homework. It was great! This photo is of my grandparents in Yosemite.

Playing chicken: We lived near the river. This river gets fed from the snow runoff from the Sierra Nevadas. Each spring we would play a game of "chicken", aka who could get in the freezing cold water first. I won a few of the years and lost on others, but generally the victor would be sussed out by March or April. I don't play that game anymore. That water is still pretty cold in the dead heat of summer.

What fond memories do you have of the springtime when you were a child? Did you like school? Did you have any pesky younger (or older) siblings?


Do and Do Not (3): Running

You may or may not remember the last list I made. It was compiled of things that I sometimes do or do not do, that maybe you DO do, or maybe you DO NOT do. I just think it's interesting to find out what things other people do that work for them but don't work for you. Here are a few more...do and do nots, running style.

I do:

- Wear underwear. Yes, this may seem like a weird thing to list, but many runners go commando. However, you will be happy to know that no matter what, my stuff is double layered.

- Run on dirt trails. I love it. It is more distracting, plus there are ups and downs, plus I love running through the trees, near a brook, in the shade. I really enjoy trail running much more than road running. However, I have a hard time gauging my pace for road races, so I have to run on the road from time to time to make sure I am still on track.

- Wear a Garmin all the time. I am a number cruncher. A list maker. A data analyzer. So I love my Garmin. It allows me to see my numbers. It also made me realize that I CAN run faster. Before Garmin (BG) I would just run a steady 10 minute mile. After Garmin (AG) I could see how fast I was going and I would play games to try to get faster. And faster. And faster. I am still trying.

- Wear a hydration belt. I run a lot (see above) on trails and places where there are not drinking fountains or water sources. So the hydration belt is a life saver. Even in races where there are aide stations, I wear it. You never know when you may need it and I would rather have it than not.

- Run with music (or sometimes This American Life or Car Talk). Sometimes I will run without, but very rarely. I don't even really concentrate on it that much necessarily, but it's nice to have the distraction when I want it.

I do not:

- Participate in a running group / club. I like to run alone, when I want to, where I want to. I know that probably if I ran with someone a little faster than me, I would get faster, but I find it easier to get out and run when I am ready. If I have to wait, I lose motivation.

- Run barefoot. As a kid, I walked around barefoot all the time. My Dad used to tell me I was going to get a weird foot disease. I guess it stuck, because when I see someone running barefoot, the first thing I think is, "Ew, someone probably SPIT right there!" (or worse)

- Drink Chocolate Milk as a recovery drink. I don't like milk. It makes that weird film on your tongue. Ew. However, I will take a nice Starbucks Frappuccino with whipped cream. Hey, it's coffee. And chocolate. And milk.

- Cross train very often. I know this is not a positive thing, as I have read many studies about how cross training is good, but I just don't make time for it. I walk or hike about 5-10 miles a week and I do about 30-60 minutess of yoga a week and 30 minutes of weights. But I know I should do more!

Let's hear it: how do you compare? Do you cross train? Do you run with music?


Last Week

Well, another week is beginning again! What a fun weekend! I hope everyone had a great time with their mothers and/or their children! I was lucky to spend time with my mom and dad, as well as my 2nd family (aka people who have put up with me for a long, long time). We got together and had a really nice brunch, took a walk and sat around and shot the breeze. It was nice to see both families and to spend time with everyone.

Last week also had a few more fun things going on.

There was some yoga. 
I found a good power yoga video here
After the relay, I was pretty sore, so this kicked my butt pretty hard. 

Remember the mini carrot cakes I was talking about? 
Here they are. And the  mini cheesecake. 
And the mini pecan pie. 
I must have eaten at least 28 of these.

Once my legs got a little less sore, I tried out my new shoes. 
So far, so good. 

 This is how we buy pickles in our house. 
These will probably last us a couple of days or so.

Saturday night I went out with some friends for Mexican food, complete with margaritas. 
Unfortunately, the scary doll was sneaking sips behind my back. 

Soon after, she had a little lean going on. 

By 7:30, she was toast. 
I told you dolly couldn't handle her booze. 

Mother's day brunch with the munchkin. 
She loves the iPhone. And specifically Google. 

After brunch walk on the American River Parkway (of walking on the left fame). 
This is not me.
I wish it was. I totally have kayak envy.

How was your weekend? Are you a mom? What did you do for Mothers Day?


The Relay: Race Recap

The Friday before this race, I was not sure what to expect. What I got was an experience very similar to traveling alone. You are by yourself, but you meet fellow travelers who are on the same path as you, and you become friends in minutes. Often, your paths only cross for minutes, or days, but you feel as if you have known the people forever.

My van was like that. A bunch of travelers, all going down the same path, with stories about our craft. Everyone is different; the level of experience varies, but you are all united by a common goal/love. Age range: 20 - 45. Ability range: Once a week runner (1) / Once a month runner (1) / Second race ever (1) / Marathoners (3). Quickly, I will go over the players. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

MYL: The Organizer. Has run a couple marathons and some smaller races, but is currently not training for anything. She is also the one who got walking pneumonia and therefore was not sure if she was going to be able to run. Texas: A jokester. Has only run one other race before, which was 6 miles long. He ran that race in cross trainers. Backseat B: Fitness Guru. Not a frequent runner, but has buns of steel. The 6 Minute Man: This guy put down a 6 minute mile as his pace. We were all in awe. Young R: At 20 years old, was by far the youngest of the crowd. But he was still picking up what we were putting down.

All 12 of us got together for dinner on Friday night, for a little meet and greet. I am glad we did, because after the first 2 minutes, we already knew that our group was going to have fun. Do you know how I knew? First thing 6 Minute Man says to me is, "I read your blog". I was thinking, "oh crap; I hope I didn't say anything incriminating about this race!" Anyway, I learned that he had Googled everyone after he found out who was in our van. Creepy, right? But funny. You know what, if you put it out there, someone can find it! So beware. At least 6MM was honest about it (cough, cough, stalker!) Everyone was really nice, even the Van 1 people! But I didn't spend as much time with them, so you won't hear about them as much.

On Saturday morning, Van 2 (that's us) met up with Van 1 in Calistoga, CA (in case you are not familiar, that is in Napa County in the wine region) at the start line to see them off. The way our relay was set up was on a wave start. The first teams left at 7 a.m. and every half hour, about a half a dozen teams left the start line. The last teams (the fast people) left at 3 p.m. There were about 200 teams. We went over the start line at 9 a.m.

Doing "team stretches" before the big race

Our van then had to wait, since our first leg was not until about 1 pm. So we went and had some pancakes and coffee at the Hydro Bar and Grill. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to eat. Usually I run in the morning, so I have a simple breakfast (must have cereal!) and I hit the road. But this time, the time of day and the waiting, and the HEAT...I did not know how to play it. About an hour before my first leg, I had a bagel with peanut butter. You know how they say that certain things work for some and not for others? Peanut Butter? Does NOT work for me. Urp.

Leg 1: 5 pm Saturday. Finally, it was time for my first leg. It was about 85 degrees and very, VERY windy. The wind was not a nice, cooling breeze. It dried out your eyes, and your lips and your tongue. It pushed you backwards. It was hard. The beginning of my leg was through Petaluma, which is pretty flat, but that meant navigating the streets, which are not shut down. Around mile 3, there was a steady (and HOT) uphill until around mile 5, when it finally went down to the end. I saw cows (this area used to be known for it's dairies), sheep (I yelled MMAAA at them and the one other runner, who I didn't realize was behind me, laughed at me) and lots of green rolling hills.

TOTALS, Leg 1: 6.9 miles / 54:23 / 7:56 pace

Much of leg one looked like this

After our van was done, we headed to San Francisco, where we had a chance to rest at a friend's house. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way and ended up taking the coastal road instead of the freeway. This gave us the chance to have dinner in Stinson Beach, which is lovely, but made it so we did not arrive to San Francisco until about 9:30 and we were needing to leave by 11. I got about 1 hour of sleep.

Getting ready for the night run. Photo Credit: Texas.

Leg 2: 12:05 a.m. Sunday. Since MYL had gotten sick, I agreed to run this leg for her. I am so glad I did. This leg started at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and wound it's way around the coast, past Baker Beach, the Legion of Honor and the Cliff House and then down the Great Highway for the last 3 miles. It was the easiest 7 mile run I have ever done. It was cool, about 50 degrees, there was a nice cool sea breeze coming off the water, the city was quiet and dark (which I thought I wouldn't like, but I LOVED) and it was nice to just run along, without music (I know! Me? No music!) through the city I love so much. It was a little hilly as well, but they didn't even phase me this time.

TOTALS, Leg 2: 7 miles / 59:11 / 8:22 pace

This is where I ran for leg 2. It was dark, but still beautiful!

Leg 3: 3:30 a.m. Sunday. This leg was quick and easy, and although not as great as the last one, it was still nice to run quietly along in the dark.

TOTALS, Leg 3: 1.8 miles / 13:33 / 7:44 pace

After our last runner was done, we went to the resting place, which was a college gym, with showers and where you could stretch out in your sleeping bag and rest. We chose rest over sleep, but still by the time we got in, it was about 5:30 a.m. We got up at 7, making the grand sleep total about 2.5 hours. 

Van 2

Leg 4: 12:34 pm Sunday. Holy hills batman. This one was a doozy. It went up and down and up and down and up and up and up. From mile 4.5 to 6, there was a 700 ft elevation change. I thought I was tough. I have run hills before. I run trail races. But these hills, running on no sleep, in 80 degree weather, up and up and up...they killed me. I was hurting. On the plus side, I passed 6 people. Hey, sorry dudes, but that made me feel good. I'll admit it.

TOTALS, Leg 4: 6.3 miles / 55:23 / 8:46 pace

Over the hills and through the Redwoods

After I went, the next runner was our last runner. Her leg was 6 miles total, and we all jumped in at the end to run the last mile with her so we could all (including Van 1) cross the finish line together as a team.

Finishing Leg: 1.2 miles / 15:56 / 13:07 pace

Team TOTALS:  194 miles / 29:32:56 / 9:08 pace

The finish line. The guy in orange is who we were running/raising money for.

*Just a side note, the Google team usually wins, at least they did for several years. This year, they got lost and came in 2nd. However, this did not stop them from maintaining UNDER a 6 minute mile the entire time! (their total was: 19:49) Results HERE.

Afterward, there was BEER. And burritos. I was in heaven. Actually I ordered a burrito AND a plate of nachos, which I did not even come close to finishing. Then we had to drive back home (about two hours), get gas for the van and drop me off at my car where I had a 30 minute drive to get home. Then I took a shower and went straight to bed. I think it was about 9 p.m. I slept for 11 hours. Phew.

The Verdict?  If you are not from California, or even if you are, you should do this race. The scenery is amazing and it varies, showing off many of our best places. This is a great way to get introduced to some of the smaller towns and roads and off the beaten path areas.

Would I Do it Again? Yes. It was hard and I don't know how some people, who weren't regular runners, did it, because I think I am in pretty good shape and I had a hard time on some of the legs. It was challenging to have to run several times in one day, without proper food or sleep, up hills, in the heat. But I have to say, I loved every minute of it. Also, I made a bunch of new friends, and that is invaluable.

Van 2. Photo credit: 6MM.

Who is ready to run with me next year? Have you ever conquered a fear and found it better than you imagined? Have you ever been to any of the towns we ran through? 

Don't forget to check out other Fitness Friday posts over at Jills. Have a Happy Mother's Day on Sunday all you MOMS!