Santa Rosa Marathon

My realistic goal: finish this race.
My satisfied goal: get a PR (and hopefully sub 4)
My hopeful goal: BQ

To BQ, for my age group, I would have to run a 3:35 or less. According to my fast half marathon time, this is doable. But that race was nearly three months prior to this one. It meant I would have to run under an 8:12 pace the entire time. However, I didn't want it to be THAT close, so I thought I would shoot for a 3:30, which is an 8 minute per mile pace. I have to be honest with you though; after the last few weeks of training that I have had, I was not hopeful. I have been tired. I have been unmotivated, I have not been doing speed work and I have been running about an 8:45 pace for shorter runs.

I did not feel ready. I was ready to be happy to come in under 4 hours.

My strategy was this, and I often use this one to "trick" myself: I would start off at the right pace and if I got tired later, I would slow down. I had to try at the beginning though. I got in line right behind the 3:15 pace group and I thought in my mind that if I could only stay in front of the 3:30 group, I would be okay.

The race started and we were off like a shot. The beginning of the race was difficult. It was on a creek path with only a width of a few people and everyone was trying to get ahead and find their pace but there was no room to do so. As I was trying to get my pace, I passed under an overpass and my parents and uncle were up there, cheering me on. It felt great to have spectators, and to have someone to be accountable to, even though they would never say anything bad if I didn't make my goal. Still, I was running for them, as well as myself.

The first few miles I had trouble finding my pace. I wanted to stay under 8, but to not get too tired along the way. Mile 1: 7:43, Mile 2: 7:18 (otherwise known as the "what was I thinking" mile). The next few, I found my pace and kept at it for a while. Mile 3-6: 7:40, 7:38. 7:45, 7:48. After mile 6, I took two chews and used the bathroom. This is reflected in my pace, which was (Mile 7:) 8:00. After that, the next 6 miles were around (Mile 8-13) 7:50.

The course was a figure eight loop on the creek path that went around once for the half marathoners and twice for the marathoners. This was both good and bad. Good: my parents got to see me three times: once at the start, once at the middle, and again at the end. My brother also came and he got to see my 8 times, as his place was in the middle where the eight crossed over itself so he biked back and forth to cheer me on. Bad: I had to run the same route twice.

So I went around the loop once, saw the Parentals, waved, and started on the second loop. This loop was a little bit harder. I was wavering around the 8 minute mark, but still keeping it under. However, it wasn't much under, and I kept thinking, "DON'T let the 3:30 group pass!" Mile 14-24: 7:54 average. The good news was, at this point, I had hit no wall. I had taken two chews at mile 6 and then two more at each 3 mile mark after that. I had had water at all the stops, but only a sip or two. Around mile 19, a girl caught up to me, said she liked my pace, and we ran together for a couple miles and talked. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The other thing was that half of this path was a hard packed dirt and gravel path. I wore my Saucony Kinvaras, which don't really have much of a sole. By the second loop, and especially by mile 18 or so, I was really dreading the dirt sections!

At mile 25, I slowed down a little. Mile 25: 8 minutes. At mile 26, my legs started to feel really tight and it was hard to keep up the pace. At this point though I kept repeating my mantra about the 3:30 group over and over. Just stay ahead of them! I may have mumbled, "keep going, keep going, keep going" under my breath (or out loud) several times. Mile 26: 8:06/mi

Taken by Dad - seconds before the finish line

Then I got to the last .2 miles and there was Dad, taking photos of me at my finest. I think I even managed a smile before rounding the final corner and totally chicking this dude right at the very end. My mom even has the pics to prove it.

Final time: 3:27:27 / 7:53 pace (official)

At the end there was a band and pancakes and wine, naturally. I mean, we are in Sonoma county after all.  But I decided to forgo those in exchange for a huge bacon and avocado omelet at the Omelette Express with the Fam.

Do you hit "the wall" when you race? Do you make hopeful and/or unrealistic goals that you sometimes end up achieving after all? OR Do you underestimate yourself sometimes?

Don't forget to join up at Jills for Fitness Friday!


Then and Now: August

August is a month of family and friends and times spent outdoors! I have had most weekends filled, and it's been exhausting, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I have been lucky to see several family members not once, but twice in one month, when we often don't see each other more than the once a year at Christmas. I also cooked a lot, ran a lot and read a little. So, lets see how it adds up against last year, shall we?

The Who: 

My favorite comparison is this little lady.  
Her birthday is in August, and I've been lucky to spend both of them with her!

Last year I spent time with co-workers in MO, I went to baseball games in St. Louis with Dad and I hung out with family and friends at home. 

This year, it was more family, including a wedding where the boys got kilted up. 
Then there was lots of hiking with H and good times in Santa Rosa with family after the marathon.

The What:

Foods and Recipes
Last year I made my favorite easy blackberry cobbler from fresh picked berries. This year it was zucchini chocolate chip muffins from my garden haul. I ate three the first day. I just noticed I post a lot of desserts and not so much "food". I swear I am actually NOT a sweet junkie!

Running miles
2011: 94 / 2012: 132

Last year I was training for the City of Roses Half and the Women Run the Cities 10 miler, where I met up with Lisa in MN for the weekend, so I logged a good amount of miles. This year I logged slightly more, mostly because of the two long races I did, not because my regular runs were that frequent.  

2011: 0 / 2012: 4

Over half my miles were run in races. There was the Run With Jess Virtual Olympics, Suz's Wounded Warrior Virtual Half, The Skyline 50k and the Santa Rosa Marathon, for a total of 80 miles of racing!

2011: 6 / 2012: 4

This month has not been a huge reading month for me. As the photos and numbers above show, I have been doing other things. That's okay because soon the fog will set in and I will have plenty of time to read! Last year's favorite read was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Did you know I had seen dozens of versions of movies (my favorite of course: The Muppets) but had never read the book!? This year's August favorite was

The Where: 

I have been loving where I am living lately. In 2011, I was in Missouri and it was great, but it was hot. All those miles I put in were in 90 degree heat with icky humidity. This year, I have been very lucky to be near the sea, where the breezes are cool and the water is blue and it's rarely gotten over 75 degrees. I love it. The best place to spend an August is in the Bay Area! 

San Francisco, Santa Cruz, St. Louis, Dog Rock (CA)
I am sad to see the summer go, but I gladly welcome September, and am looking forward to Autumn! Hello apples and boots and books! I can't wait!

Where was your favorite place that you went this month?  Do you find that you are more or less active in the summer?


Weekend Activities

Last weekend was a crazy busy one. The last weekends of summer are upon us and everyone is trying to cram everything in while they can! I had two great days with family and friend filled events on each one.

Friday night included drinks out with friends at the Pier 23 cafe in San Francisco.  They were giving away free samples of Air, which is a beer mixed with carbonated water. It was gross. I was not compensated to say that.

Saturday started early with a really nice walk with a friend in the morning. After that, it was my grandma's 80th birthday party. She is my father's mother. My father is one of six kids, each with kids and some of them with kids! In addition to that, there were several cousins, step this and thats, in-laws and other friends of the family. I think all in all we were maybe 50, maybe more. It was held in the North Bay Area, in a park where there was a fabulous view of the city across the bay. We ate WAY too much food, but I did it in the name of carb-loading. A perk of being a runner? Everything is in the name of "carb-loading".

My favorite part of the party? My cousin made us color coordinated name tags. I was wearing a yellow shirt. By saying that, I just realized that I didn't get any photos of myself that day.

After the party, I raced to get to the race expo in time to pick up my bib. Then I went over to my brother's house and he made us a hearty carb loading Mexican Fiesta with fresh veggies from his garden! We had steak, fresh made salsa, black beans and rice! It was delicious! And I was so busy visiting I didn't take any photos of that either!

I got up early on Sunday morning for the marathon where I ran my buns off. My family was there to support me and luckily the course was conducive to their being able to see me several times. I will do a real recap in a couple of days, but for now, just check this out!

Holy crap; I am so excited. I don't think it hit me until I was writing up this post... I mean... WOO HOO!

After the race, I had a great brunch with my family at the Omelette Express, did some grocery shopping, watered the garden, made my lunches for the week and then passed the heck out! I feel like I need a vacation from my weekend!

How was your weekend? Are you trying to cram it all in at the very end of summer? Have you ever been to Sonoma county?


So L.A. and a Giveaway

So L.A. by Bridget Hoida

Have you ever been to LA? Then you know the drill; there are people with big everything: houses, cars, sunglasses and boobs. Yes, boobs. You know what I am talking about. So does Magdalena de la Cruz, or at least she thinks she does. Magdalena hails from Northern CA and she moves to LA when her brother tragically dies in a climbing accident that she feels responsible for. She and her husband have hit it big selling expensive bottled water to the rich, and they move into a huge house and try to fit in with the Southern California lifestyle. Magdalena buys the big car, wears the big sunglasses and gets the big boobs, yet she is still not happy. Her marriage starts to decline and she seeks the solace of a bottle of gin.

This story is about her mental state and how she attempted to find her true self amidst a city full of materialism and people who seemed to care more about looks than love, herself included.

I enjoyed this book as a quick and easy read and something to pass the time on a Sunday. I read it in one day, as it was easy to follow. Even though I kind of disliked the main character, I found that the story moved quickly along. I found the character very shallow, although at the same time I did see that she was struggling to get out from under that self absorbed attitude at times. I cannot say that I related to her, although I am from the very area that she came from in the beginning, and a small town to boot, so we should understand each other.

However, we have all wanted to be liked in one situation or another. Whether you are in an all male work environment and you start watching football so you can join in on the conversations around the water cooler, or if you are a girl, trying to impress a guy, so you wear a certain outfit or act a certain way, we all understand that need for acceptance to a certain degree. So in that case, if I change the situation around a little, I can relate to her to a certain extent. But she takes it a little too far, and loses who she really is in the meantime.

So I had mixed emotions about Magdalena: I felt sorry for her; I hated her; I understood her; I wanted her to find her true self and to stop playing games.

As for the book, it made a good point about how we need to accept ourselves for who we are because trying to be someone else only gets us in trouble.

I gave the book a three out of five on Goodreads. I would recommend this book as a fun, quick and interesting read.

Now, for the fun part! One lucky reader can win a copy of this book! All you have to do is go to the author's website and leave me a comment telling me one thing you learned from it. It can be anything you want. If you are not a winner, you can still buy the book here. Contest ends August 31 at midnight PDT. Winner will be announced shortly after.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in return for an honest review. You can see a schedule of the other blogs on tour here.

Have you been to L.A.? If so, what did you think / if not, what do you imagine it to be like? In what way have you ever tried to impress people around you?


Capture the Colour

My buddy Lindsay over at My Life as a Foreigner thought that I would like to be a part of the Capture the Colour (hey that's how they spell it, so I am going to follow suit) contest. And she was right! She is a fun Canadian girl, living in Denmark, who loves to read and travel and take pictures. Plus she has a Danish boyfriend who let's her take pictures of him sleeping and post them on her blog. Who would NOT get along with her?

Except for the fact that by suggesting it to me, it caused me to have to go back and look at all of my photos in order to find the perfect one, I was very excited that she alerted me to this contest! If you know me, you know I have a lot of photos to go through! I didn't go through ALL of them, but I did find some fun submissions for the contest. Here they are! PS, whoever wins gets 2000 pounds to spend on travel! That's a ton of cash (get it? ton? I crack myself up)!! Wish me luck.

Here's the thing. At first I though I would just submit photos that I liked which were mainly of the color that they were looking for. This would mean I had tons of photos to pick for the blue category due to lots of photos of water and sky! But the judges didn't just want a mostly blue photo. Or a photo that everyone has already taken, like of a yellow flower. For example, the blue judge wanted "clever use of blue...your take on the word blue...a splash of blue that captures the attention of your viewer or any other interesting non obvious way of using blue..." This made it harder, as most of the judges noted the same thing. So, in case you were wondering why a certain photo isn't mainly X, that is why!

Venice, Italy
This shop full of color really caught my eye. I love rows, bins or buckets of things all lined up!

Gokyo, Nepal
If those clouds weren't there, you may be able to see Mt. Everest. The feeling at the tops of these mountains is indescribable. 

Jodhpur, India
 This man in the Mehrangarh Fort with his white clothes and contrasting bright colored turban caught my eye.

Sao Luis, Brazil

This unexpected storm on an otherwise beautiful day kept us indoors for only a short while. 

Ushuaia, Argentina

Known as the "most southern city in the world", this place is cold even in the summer, but it's snow capped mountains, great hiking paths and beautiful vistas like this one are worth the long trip down there. Plus they have penguins.

You still have time to enter as well! I know some of you photo buffs may be interested: Jess, Nilsa, Kate, Jill, Raquelita?? Any takers?

What is your favorite color to take photos of? What color catches your eye the most in a photo? If  you look through your old photos, what do you have the most photos of?


Virtually Eight

This month, I participated in a few virtual races. I didn't really join in on the contests and the photos and stuff because this month ran away before I got a chance to blink! However, I did run and while I was running, I though of the host and about the reason I was running. Jess hosted a great Virtual Olympics, where you got an official scorecard and you ran these distances. 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500, 5000m, 10,000m, 26.2 miles. Suz hosted a great Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) virtual run, where you could run any distance you want. She also raised a bunch of money to go the WWP!

I took this opportunity to do my 12 in 2012 race #8. I knew that since this month was going to be busy, plus I was going to do two actual races over 26.2 miles, a virtual race would be just the ticket. I needed it to be on my time and to fit in with my other (large) races, birthdays, weddings, and other summer fun. So this was perfect.

The day of the race dawned perfectly. It was sunny but not too hot. I picked my favorite route, which goes through the neighborhoods of Montclair, Temescal and Rockridge and around Lake Merritt. My first few miles were uphill, and my time reflects that. But I wasn't stressing, because I knew that the downhills would come later. The next couple of miles took me past the library, the ladies with their strollers, and the kids on bikes. Once I got to Temescal, the weekend BBQ folks were just setting up for a long day's fun.

Mile 1 - 5:  9:12, 9:13, 8:35, 7:47, 8:14

The next five miles were pretty darn consistent! This may be due to the fact that most of them were a net downhill, but not a huge one, only about 100 ft, so it's not too hard on the knees! 

Mile 6 -10:  8:14, 8:43, 8:08, 8:14, 8:24

Lake Merritt

The last few miles were mostly flat, and around the Lake. By now the Rasta guy (his car, hat and clothing are red, yellow and green) was out, eating his late morning burrito. I kept a pretty steady pace for mile 11, 12 and 13, of around 8 minutes, but then the last .2 (yes, I did an extra .1) is uphill and so it was a bit slower.

Mile 11 - 13.2: 8:04, 8:08, 8:22, 8:55(.2)

Total Time: 1:51:35 / 8:25 pace

It was no PR, but it WAS a nice relaxing long run around the morning time neighborhoods, which is one of my favorite things to do! My second favorite race was the 100m. I did it a few times just to get the feel of it  and all I can say is, MAN is it short! I would just be getting going and the 100m would be over, just like that! My time: 24 seconds, which would be a 6:50 mile. I don't think sprinting is my strong suit. I mean, I ran a 5k at a 7 minute pace so it seems like a 100m would be faster than a 6:50.

So, for the 12 in 2012 running challenge, we are Eight down, Four to go!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have a lot of exciting weekend things planned. I know I do! Saturday I am going to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday and then Sunday I will be running the Santa Rosa Marathon. Am I ready? No. Will it be fun? Of course. I will see my family, which is always fun. I will try not to drink too much, which will be hard (hey, it's wine country!) My brother is going to set me up with a carb load meal, and I will run my buns off no matter what. Please just keep your fingers crossed for me that it is not too hot!

What are your weekend plans? Is this weekend the last weekend of summer for you? Do you have a specific meal you eat the night before a big race?

Check out Jills for more Fun Fitness Posts!


It's Causal

I have had a lot of questions lately about what form of transportation I use when I go into the city. I sometimes take the bus, sometimes the BART, but mostly I use the Casual Carpool (you can also take a boat if you are so inclined). People can understand the bus or the BART, but the looks I get when I tell people that I use the Casual Carpool are priceless. I mean, didn't all of our mothers teach us not to get into a car with a stranger?

In case you are not familiar with it, it is an informal carpool starting from several places throughout the Bay Area and going into the city. There is no prior arrangement; if you are driving, you go to a corner and wait for people; if you are a person, you go to the corner and wait for a car. When the car has three people, it goes into the city. In the afternoon, they go back to where they came from. The benefit of this is twofold for the driver. By having three people in their car, they get to go through the toll booth in the carpool lane, which not only saves them time (possibly an hour or more during the worst part of rush hour) but also saves them money. It used to be that if you had three or more in your car, you got to go through the toll booth for free. Now it is $2.50 instead of $6.

It sounds great, right? Except I have had people ask me some interesting (and valid) questions such as:

How do you know where to go? There is a list of sites where people meet. It's usually on a corner where the bus stop is, so if you cannot get a car, you can catch the bus at it comes by. That is what I do. If the bus is coming at 7, I go to the corner around 6:45 and wait until either a car comes and fills up or the bus comes. Once you are in the vehicle, be it bus or car, the drive itself takes the same amount of time. However, the car is cheaper. Which brings me to....

Do you have to pay to ride? Oh, now this is the hot topic of the month! Since this is technically informal, aka no rules, but we all want it to continue, there has been no clear black and white answer to this question. Also my friend and I just had a discussion about this. The loose rules are: the driver can ask for a dollar or two and the passenger can choose to give or not AND the passenger can offer a dollar or two and the driver can accept or not. I will tell you that as a passenger, I offer 9 times out of 10 and they accept 7 of those times. So, I pay 70% of the time, but it's only a dollar as opposed to $4.20 for the bus. However, my friend says she never offers as a passenger and that people who want you to pay them will have a little sign, which I have never seen.
Do you always ride with strangers? Yes. But, if I go around the same time of day, I often see the same drivers, so you get to know certain people. Usually, these are people in my neighborhood, as the carpool site is only a few blocks away for most of us. So, they are my neighbors.

Do you talk when you are in the car? This is another informal "rule". Supposedly, and I don't know where I heard this, if the driver talks to you, you can talk, but if not, you should keep quiet, as you don't want to distract them. I would say that maybe 20% of the drivers want to talk. Most stay quiet and we listen to NPR. Seriously, there are a lot of NPR fans in the casual carpool group.

Has anything bad every happened to you?  No, but there is a forum where you can post warnings about bad drivers or rude people or whatnot and it does happen. However, it is not a very big forum and the casual carpool has been around for a few decades, so I think that the bad things are minor. Also, you are allowed to skip a car, for instance if a man pulls up in a two-seater, I may give it a pass. Drivers are allowed to refuse passengers as well. I have never seen this happen though.

So, there you have it. The ins and outs of the casual carpool. Tomorrow I will be talking about Riding the Bus. Just kidding. I will probably talk about that next week.FYI for you excel nerds like me: by using the CC, even if I did pay a dollar each time, I would save $16/week! That's a glass and a half of wine at the airport! Or a new sweater at Target! Or...3 burritos! Thanks Casual Carpool!

Do you have a similar program in your area? Have you ever gotten into a car with a stranger / done a ride-share? How do you get to work/school each day?


Tuesday Training (7)

I know, you are thinking...how many gosh darn weeks ARE there in this training program? Well, I can tell you that it has been approximately 17 weeks, 1 day, 13 hours and 17 minutes. Approximately. The good news is this is the last you will have to hear about training for a while. The bad news is that the next week will probably be full of race recaps instead. Sorry. I do have a few non running related (what!?) posts in the works for both this and next week though!

But first, I had fun with last weeks "you might be an ultra runner". How about just plain old "you might be a RUNNER"? Here are a few that pertain to me. You can find a lot more here!

One of my all time favorite trails: PCT!

 You know you're a runner when...
-          you have more running clothes than regular clothes in your laundry pile.
-          you smirk when non-runners ask you, "So how long is this marathon?" (remember this post?)
-          your runs are longer than your commute to work.
-          you go into Starbucks more often to use the bathroom than to actually buy coffee.
-          you no longer make fun of fanny packs because your running belt looks very similar to one.
-          you get an invitation to a wedding and you automatically think about what race the date will conflict with.
-          you're always hungry.
-          you know where your illiotibial band is located.
-          you spend more time researching running routes than tourist attractions when traveling to a new city. (I have a list here)
-          you know where exactly one mile from your front door is (in any direction). (and get made fun of for it!)
-          you get jealous when you're driving in your car and pass runners.(or when I am walking!)

Now, on with the training show! 
Week 1 - 4
Week 5 - 8
Week 9 - 11
Week 12 - 13
Week 14 - 15
Week 16

Week 17:

This last week has been better than the week before, not so much miles wise, since I am technically in taper, but motivation wise. Funny how that works. Now that I am SUPPOSED to run less miles, I want to run more. It's all mental.

Monday: REST -- walk 2 miles
Tuesday: REST -- walk 3 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles easy run with a friend (no Garmin) / walk 3 miles
Thursday: 8.5 miles @ 8:44 pace / walk 2 miles
Friday: hike 4 miles / walk 2 miles
Saturday: 11 miles @ 11:00 pace (hills/trail run) / hike 5 miles **
Sunday: 4.5 miles @ 12:00 pace (hills/trail run) **I cut this one short because I left a pot of beans on the stove accidentally. I kid you not.

Total Run miles: 26
Total Walk miles: 12
Total Hike miles: 9

I love hiking and walking as "cross training" and luckily have a friend who is willing to go with me. We have been walking or hiking 1-2 days a week after work and this week, we also got in a weekend hike, which was fabulous. It's been a great chance to catch up and get some exercise at the same time!

This last week is a low mileage one and I have to admit, I am kind of glad for taper this time. Madness there is not. Happiness there is. Thank you Yoda. Now all we have to do is get through this weekend without falling apart and then...well...then we will have to see! Most likely, then I will run.

Do you usually go crazy if you don't run or do you like a break from time to time? Do you have a go-to hiking/running/walking buddy? Can you relate to/add to any of those "you might be a runner if"s?



A while back Elle gave me the Liebster award. Liebster is a German word, which means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome. What an honor! 

The rules are that each person must post 11 things about themselves, then answer the questions the tagger sent for them, plus create 11 questions for the people they’ve tagged to answer. You are supposed to tag people afterward. 

First, here are my 11 things

1. I don't think there is a fruit I don't like. If you were to ask my what my least favorite is, I would probably say pomegranate, but not because I don't like the flavor; I just don't like all the little seeds. They are weird. 

2. Speaking of fruit, currently in my house we have no less the 12 different kinds. Strawberry, blueberry, plum, pluot, watermelon, apple, orange, peach, nectarine, fig, cherry, lemon and grape. I love summer.

3. Regarding what I just said, I will be happy that summer is over because then my friends and I will have more time to hang out. Summer is always so busy with weddings and birthdays and family obligations. I usually spend more time with friends in Spring and Fall. Hurray for Fall.

4. I have never been kite surfing, but would like to try it.

5. I have hiked to the top of Mt. Whitney and Mt. Shasta. Shasta is lower, but was more difficult. 

The summit of Mt. Shasta -- 14,179 ft --  June 2009

6. I have never been to Montana. Or Idaho. Both are on my list! I drove through Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, but would like to go back and see more of them too!

7. In order to travel everywhere on my list, I need someone to donate a million dollars to my cause. Any takers?

8. I like cats more than I like dogs. However, the hair from either really turns me off. I hate hair.

9. I am a neat freak. I have to make my bed every day, no matter what. I also don't like leaving any dishes in the sink. Coming home to a clean house is so welcoming to me. (see: above comments about hair)

10. I dislike it when people are late and/or flakey. I find it disrespectful.

11. I would rather text, write a letter or email than talk on the phone.

Here are the questions Elle asked us

1.  What is your favorite season?  Why? My favorite season is probably Fall. Although it's a margin of .000002 from the other three. I love them all. Why? Fall is crisp and it has that certain smell to the air. Winter is Christmas and family and silent snowy days. Spring is green and new and crisp and bright. Summer is long warm days and friends and outdoors and water and sun!

2.  What is the most exotic place you have visited? I am not sure what "exotic" means, but I think Southeast Asia is pretty cool. I love all the old architecture in Thailand and Indonesia and Malaysia. It's so different from ours. There are other places that are nice but I wouldn't call them "exotic".

3.  Do you have pets?  What kind? Oops, I guess I kind of answered this one above. No. The hair, remember?

4.  What is your favorite way to unwind? If I am stressed, I usually go for a run or bake. If I just feel like relaxing, I read or water the garden or stare at the tomatoes to see how much bigger they have gotten since yesterday. 

5.  Do you have any food issues?  Special dietary needs? No, thank goodness. 

6.  Favorite snack? I usually snack on fruit (see number 2 in the first list), but if I am feeling like something naughty, it's probably going to be cheez-its. Or those nachos from the ball park with the grossly delicious fake cheese.

7.  Favorite flowers? Anything colorful!

8.  Have you ever met any other bloggers? Yes. I have met several and they have all been great!

9.  Do your real life friends and family members read your blog?  Do they know about it? Yes. They don't comment though. They are all lurkers.

10.  How do you celebrate your birthday? I don't really do a huge thing. It's usually right around Mother's Day, so we do a duel get together for that. This year my brother took me out to one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants! 

San Francisco pre-dinner birthday walk
11.   What motivates you to exercise and eat well?  Vanity?  Health?  Performance? ALL of the above. 

Well, I am not going to tag anyone, but why don't you answer one (or all) of these questions in the comments (unless you want to post it on your blog; that works too!) 

1. What special talent do you have? 
2. What was your most embarrassing moment? 
3. If you could eat one thing, anything, right now without having to make it or pay for it or suffer calorie consequences or indigestion, what would it be?  
4. Which is your favorite Bob: the builder, the happy painter, or Barker?
5. What is your favorite and why: lake, river, ocean, stream? 
6. How do you feel about earrings on men? 
7. If you could alter one body part, what would it be? 
8. If you met the Dalai Lama, what would you say to him?  
9. Would you rather be able to breathe under water or to fly? 
10. How do you take your coffee? 
11. Name a hero in your life and tell me why they are your hero. 

Have a great week!


Skyline 50k

Last year if you would have said that I would run a 50 kilometer race (EVER!) I would have laughed in your face. One year ago at this time, my longest run for the year was 9 miles and my longest run/race of all time was a half marathon. I had no idea how far (literally) I would come since then.

These feet haven't failed me yet. But I sure do run them to the ground.

So, how was it, you ask? Overall, in a word, I would say: good. I got to the site around 6:30 for a 7:00 start. The race director was very involved and cheerful and his wife and daughter were there, helping out (wearing a fashionable North Face sleeping bag -- I hear it's all the rage). The weather was about 50 degrees and overcast (typical Bay Area foggy morning), which was perfect for racing.

For my own memories, I am going to recap some of my gear as well. I wore my water belt with three bottles (2 with H2O; one with Nuun). I accidentally forgot the holster for the fourth one, but I would have worn four. I wore a hat, no sunglasses, a wrist band and my regular old Nike tempo shorts. I wore my "I survived 26.2 shirt" from the CIM. I also wore my old Asics, which have about 700 miles on them (and plenty of dirt). I carried two apple packets, a chocolate gu and a packet of Honey Stinger chews.

Now for the good stuff. I have to admit, much of the race was in a haze. I remember a lot of chugging along, some of it with other people, some of it alone. I remember the aid stations, because they have food!

The start went well. The first mile or two was on a paved loop around the lake (remember the Big Bass? Same lake!) After we went over the dam, we took a sharp right and headed uphill. One of many hills. Here is the elevation chart.

I felt good though. In fact, often during really hilly trail races, I walk up a lot of the hills, but for a while this time, I took them at a slow jog.

Mile 1: 8:03 -- Mile 2: 8:03  -- Mile 3: 8:41 -- Mile 4: 9:53 (350 ft ascent) -- Mile 5: 8:10 -- Mile 6: 8:39

There were a couple people I was pacing with at this point. One girl in a sport bra and a skort, a guy in a quicksilver running club shirt and a girl with a neon yellow shirt and a Solomon hydration pack. Again, like my last trail race, I would beat them on the uphills and they would pass me on the downhills. I guess I am more like a dump truck than a Ferrari. The next 6 miles were a little bit slower and a little bit more uphill than the last 6, as you can see from the chart. Also, at the hour mark (around mile 7) there was an aid station, and I stopped for a minute and had a couple of snacks. I was not super hungry, but I had a piece of banana and a chomp of some sort, as well as a swig of coke and then I refilled my water and was on my way. I had my first applesauce around the 1.5 hour mark.

Mile 7: 10:56 -- Mile 8: 8:58 -- Mile 9: 7:56 (455 ft descent) -- Mile 10: 10:13 (550 ft ascent) -- Mile 11: 12:24 (542 ft ascent) -- Mile 12: 9:32

At mile 14, there was THE Aid station, the Skyline aid station. I had predicted a total time for this race of about 6 hours. That would put me into Skyline around the 3 hour mark. My Dad was possibly going to try and catch me at one of the aid stations before meeting me at the end, so we had done some estimates and three hours seemed reasonable. I got to Skyline at 9:00, two hours after I had started! I ate some wonderful, gorgeous watermelon, got a water refill and a potato with salt and chugged two Gatorade type drinks.  I glanced around for Dad, chugged another coke and carried on. The guy right in front of me chugged his coke and then let out the largest burp I have heard, scaring an old couple and their dogs.

Mile 13: 9:27 -- Mile 14: 10:36 -- Mile 15: 10:03 -- Mile 16: 12:43 -- Mile 17: 11:31 -- Mile 18: 11:25

I am actually surprised that those miles were not faster, as they were a pretty good mix of downhill and up, with no huge hills that I can remember. But, like I said, this is where things get fuzzy. What I do remember? Looking at my Garmin right around mile 15. The thing is, I had set my Garmin onto metric to do the Run with Jess virtual Olympics (100 m etc) and I never set it back, so it was still on metric. So. Right around the 22 km mark, I started looking at my watch a lot. The problem with km is there are so many of them! Thinking, "I still have 30 km left" is A LOT worse than thinking, "I only have 18 miles left". To make it worse, my brain doesn't do math well when running and I kept getting confused about how long I really had left.

Mile 19: 10:25 -- Mile 20: 10:40 -- Mile 21: 10:21 -- Mile 22: 9:55 -- Mile 23: 8:59 -- Mile 24: 9:38

Needless to say, the km or miles or whatever they were, went pretty slow after about the 30k mark. This is also when my feet started hurting. First it was the ball. Then it was a blister on the sideways toe. Then my knees started to ache. I was hoping for more uphills and less downhills. Yes, I said LESS downhills. Downhill caused my soles to ache and my knees to throb. I was not in bad shape soreness wise; my energy levels were pretty good. I did eat my Gu somewhere around mile 25 maybe. Every time I looked at it, I was hoping that my Garmin had gotten messed up since we were going through so many trees and that it was 5 or 6 or 8 miles off and really I was almost there. Then I asked the bean counters and they said cheerfully, "ONLY 6 more miles!" Only? Grumble, grumble.

Mile 25: 11:16 -- Mile 26: 13:01 -- Mile 27: 13:04 -- Mile 28: 10:05 -- Mile 29: 9:49 -- Mile 30: 9:13 -- Mile 31: 8:19 (this is when Dean passed me )

There was one last aid station around mile 28. I got to it, stopped, got a water refill, ate some cantaloupe, got made fun of for wearing a marathon shirt, downed a coke and a Gatorade and asked how much farther I had (because at this point, I could not read miles or km or barely articulate anything for that matter). They said, "three easy miles, down this hill (ug) and on a rolling loop around the rest of the lake (rolling!? I almost cried)."


The last three miles were hot and dusty and everyone who was going the opposite way kept saying, "you are almost there".  I know they meant well but I my feet were crying, "let me out!" I had to go to the bathroom but there was a woman right behind me and gosh darn it, I was NOT going to let her pass me. And then Dean passed me. And then I crossed the finish line. And I was still alive. It was a miracle.

Total Time: 5:09:51 (10:21/mi average)
Overall: 46/213
Gender Group: 8/83
Rookie Prize: 1st place!
Total Ascent according to Garmin: 10,000 ft

After that I ate about 2000 calories in meat products (while the sports bra girl sat next to me and had a salad) and beer. In about 6.5 minutes. I can eat 3000 calories A LOT faster than I can burn them!

The verdict? I wore the wrong shoes. I shouldn't have worn my old, worn out shoes. I felt good except for my feet. I could have kept going if not for the blisters and rubbing and discomfort. I also had a way slower second half than first half, so I probably went out a bit too fast.

FYI: The winner of this race did it in 3:32:05. The oldest person to complete it was 77 and he did it in 6:32. The largest age group by far was the 40-49 group.

Are you where you thought you would be (in fitness or in life) at this time last year? If you had 3000 guilt free calories, what would you eat?

Don't forget to stop by Jills for other Fitness related goodness.


Pass or Fail

I don't know about you, but when I am running a long run, I can't think very well. Sometimes I decide to do a loop when I am in the middle of the run, but my addition skills are lacking, and I end up running way less or way more than I anticipated. Sometimes I get lost when I am running on trails.

And sometimes, cool things happen to me and I don't even realize it.

At mile 30 during the race on Sunday, I heard a runner coming up behind me and I glanced back to see a tan, fit man coming up pretty fast behind me. As he passed me, I said, "good job", as we do when we are being passed at the end of a long race. I could barely muster a "good job"; I definitely couldn't pass anyone at that point! He said something to me about the walkers (we were in a park on a paved loop around a lake at this point) being in his way. As I ran behind him, over the thoughts of how much my blisters were hurting and how glad I would be to be done, I remember thinking, "that guy has some KILLER calf muscles". I kind of watched his tan, muscular legs as he quickly ran away from me. 

That was the end of that. He looked like every other runner. Shorts, check. Hat, check. Glasses, shoes, shirt. Muscular legs, skinny frame. Check, check, check.

Yesterday the results were posted, as well as some photos on the Facebook group for this race. Guess who beat me by 49 seconds? Guessssss! Come on; I will wait.



If you guessed Oprah, you were wrong. She only runs marathons. Plus, I am faster than her!

If you guessed Scott Jurek, you were wrong also. But that would have been cool.

And you wouldn't have been off by much.

In case you don't know who Dean Karnazes is, he ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, is a famous ultra runner and wrote a few books about running. He also hails from the Bay Area, but I have never seen him around. So I am a little star struck!

Have you ever met a celebrity (and yes, being passed by one counts!)? If you could meet one (living) famous person, who would it be? What would you say to them?


Tuesday Training (6)

I thought I would start off today's post with some jokes. I did not think of these myself, although I may add some to the list. They came from the website run100s.com, which is a great resource if you are ever thinking about doing an ultra. Some of you can probably relate to these! I know I can.

You might be an ultra runner if (sung to the tune of "you might be a redneck"):

- You wonder why they don't make all running socks a dusty brown color.

My feet after the Ultra

- You postpone your wedding because it will interfere with your training. (I thought of Amber on this one; she did not postpone her wedding, but she DID train for a marathon and plan a wedding at the same time!)

- You don't recognize your friends with their regular clothes on. (or this one should be that MY friends don't recognize ME!)

 the party dress that got all the comments

- 6am is sleeping in

- You're tempted to look for a bush when there's a long line for the public restroom

- Your ideal way to celebrate your birthday is to run at least your age in miles (almost did it!).

- You can recite the protein grams of each energy bar by heart

- You know the location of every 7-11, restroom, and water fountain within a 25-mile radius of your house.

- You rotate your running shoes more often than you rotate your tires.

- You walk up the stairs and run down them.

You can find more here. And now, I want to specifically comment on a couple of them:

- Your crew tries to keep you motivated by saying, "You're in second place and only 6 hours behind first with 25 miles to go!"

This kind of happened to me on Sunday. I was told I was the 5th girl and the girl in front of me was ONLY 10 minutes ahead. I thought the guy was joking. Now I am not so sure. 

- The start of a marathon feels like a 5K and you're wondering "Why is everyone in such a rush? Where the ##@@**!! is the fire?"

I found this one funny for two reasons. (1) I have a marathon in two weeks and I only hope it feels like a 5k. I doubt it will, although I did try to do the ultra first, so it would seem "shorter", and (2) It's kind of true in regards to pace. I can only imagine, since my 50k (which is the shortest of the ultras) was done at a pretty easy pace compared to marathon pace. I bet those 100 mile runs are pretty "slow and easy wins the race" kind of attitude.

An actual recap of the ultra will be up later in the week. For now, here's the low down on this week's training.

Week 1 - 4
Week 5 - 8
Week 9 - 11
Week 12 - 13
Week 14 - 15

Week 16:

Monday: Rest / 6 mile walk
Tuesday: 4.5 miles @ 8:47 pace / 5 mile walk
Wednesday: Rest / 3 mile walk
Thursday: 10 miles @ 8:13 pace / 2 mile walk
Friday: Rest/ 2 mile walk
Saturday: Rest / 2 mile walk
Sunday: 31 miles @ an undisclosed pace :) (you have to wait for the recap!)

I have been walking every day, both on running days and rest days. This week was a little strange, as I only ran 3 days, because I wasn't sure about how much rest I should have before the ultra and I was pretty tired most of the week, so I decided not to overdo it. I walked instead, to keep some miles, but to take it easy a little. I am glad I did, because I am not really sore today! I may even go for a run this evening!

Total Miles: 45
Miles This Cycle: 648

According to RunningAhead, those miles were completed in 102 hours, giving me an approximate average pace per mile of 9:22. This week I have a pretty easy taper week ahead of me and then next week, it's "Take It Easy" time and then...marathon weekend!

Do you do a lot of walking? Do you have any "you might be a runner / ultra runner / marathon runner if..." jokes? Do your friend's recognize you if you wear a dress (or slacks if you are a boy)?