Best Of 2014: Books

Although this year I did a lot more studying than reading for fun, and have not been posting as much as I normally do, I could not resist the yearly recap post phase, which is always so fun. These recaps are often where I get ideas for my next year's travel, books and races!

So here they are, in no particular order, my top seven reads from 2014. You can find past lists here: 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking -- This one took me a bit to get through, but it was because it's chock full of information and it was a lot to take in. However, I really related to a lot of the things that she talks about. For instance, introverts are not necessarily shy; they just need alone time to recharge and prefer less stimulus than extroverts.

Mr. Penumbria's 24 Hour Bookstore -- This was a fun and fast read about a quirky old man who owns a bookstore in San Francisco that turns out to be more than just a bookstore. I liked the story and it had a few twists, plus it was set in the city, so that gave it an added plus.

Eleanor and Park --A story about an unlikely pair of friends in high school, this story was one of those ones you just can't put down because it is so fun!

Unbroken -- You probably know all about this because of the movie, but it's a story about an Olympic runner turned WWII airman who gets stranded in the ocean for many weeks and captured by the Japanese. He goes through hell and lives to tell the tale. It's a very interesting book.

Orphan Train -- I didn't realize this part of our nation's history, but large trains full of orphans were sent to the Midwest from the East Coast and were "adopted" and made to work on the farms there. This was an eye opening and interesting read about one of the orphan girls.

MWF seeking BFF -- A thirty something who has just moved to a new city sets out to make a new best friend. She quickly realizes how hard it is to make friends when you are a married thirty something. She tries really hard though, pulling people from all walks of life, and ends up with a few good friends in the end.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry --  Recommended by Lisa, this story did not disappoint. This is the story of a book seller on a tiny island in MA who ends up adopting a stowaway baby. He is a likeable character and he goes through some of the same worries and thoughts and tribulations as we all have gone through. It was one of those books I could not put down.

So there you have it! This year's list is a lot smaller than the past years, but there are always a few good ones. This year more than others, I put a lot of books down unread. I probably started but did not finish at least a dozen books. I have decided that it's not worth my time to read a book I am not getting into.

How about you: What was your favorite book this year? Did you put any down without finishing them?


And In With The New

At the beginning of this year, I did a huge purge of all things old and moldy and holey. 2015 will be no different. Gone are the days of too big pants, too tight underwear, and year old stewed tomatoes. Actually, I try to be pretty good about either using things or throwing them away, but I do have a bit of hoarder in my genes, and so some things are harder than others to get rid of. However, my neat freak usually wins out and my spreadsheets come out and then there is no stopping me. So here it is, the list.

2015 New Year List:

Throw away: any socks with holes, underwear with holes, mismatched socks (this one is difficult for some reason!) too small pants (this year I have a few thanks to my new office job with no lunch break, which is when I would get a nice walk in), magazines not yet read, newspapers not yet read (don't get scared; there aren't that many of these), expired food items, old paper files, towels with holes, too short sweaters and DVDs I will never watch.

Do this soon: Read any books on shelf that have not been read yet, then give them to Goodwill.  Cook any nearly expired food items.Watch any DVDs, then give them to Goodwill. Write thank you notes. Update Christmas card list.

Organize/back up: photos, contacts, computer files, paper files, drawers, closets, shelves.

Dust/Sweep/Clean: top shelves, fans, under and behind all furniture. Toilet, tub and windowsills. The top of the refrigerator/dryer, the back/front porch and the garage.

Take to Goodwill: All clothing/books/DVDs (see above re too short sweaters and previously read books).

Prepare next year's planner, including running calendar, vacation calendar, goals and expenses/budget. Recap last year's goals, expenses and budget.

Certain things are easy, for example throwing away holey socks. It only takes one (painful) day of walking around with a sock with a hole to realize that it is not worth keeping. Another easy (and fun) thing for me is the rehash of last year's goals, expenses and budget and the preparation of this year's. Lastly, usually there is not very much old food, as we are pretty good at eating things before they go bad. The exception would be things like Halloween candy, which does not get eaten, and therefore sits around for quite some time.

Not as easy to do is the deep clean (it's not that fun), the reading or tossing of old books and magazines (I feel that I "might" read them "soon"), and the getting rid of too tight pants. I mean, what if I lose weight in a couple of months? I wouldn't want to have to go out and buy new pants! That would be a waste. How many pairs of pants does one person really need though? I'm thinking 17. Just kidding. Sort of. Well, at least one in every color and every size, just in case, right? You get my point. They are hard to throw away.

The bottom line is that cleaning out my closet or dusting the top of the fridge makes me feel like I am starting out the year fresh and new. It also makes my brain feel less cluttered, which is the most valuable part of it all.  So let's bring in the new year with a de-cluttered house and mind, shall we?

Do you do a yearly deep clean or purge? What is your least favorite chore? Be honest: how many pairs of pants do you own (and of the total, how many actually fit)?



There is a guy in my office who sometimes makes this noise when he is overwhelmed, and it sounds like, "woof!" I think he is really saying, "oof" or basically, "phew". However, the first time I heard it, I thought he said WOOF, and so it has kind of stuck. Any time things are getting out of control or we are feeling a little crazy, we call out, "Woof!"


The last couple of weeks have been crazy. In addition to getting all my Christmas cards sent out, I met up with my brother to be a sweeper (tail end safety runner) for the Northface 50 mile race, and went to two holiday parties and met up for a holiday weekend with my family. This is on top of the normal every day stuff, such as grocery shopping and working out. We also got a new client at work and the past couple of weeks have been a flurry of activity getting him set up.

Don't get me wrong, it has been fun, but I can see why some people get stressed out during the holidays, especially if you are the kind of person of which social interaction is overwhelming. Personally, I bring it all on myself, so I am not complaining! However, it will be nice to roll into January and hopefully read a few more books and spend a bit more time relaxing.

A couple of things on the agenda this week are:

- A visit with a friend from high school. She is coming to stay and we will do a lot of walking and eating and gabbing.

- The annual cookie making party with my friend and her daughters. Her daughter is 4 and last year she helped decorate all of the sugar cookies with heaps and heaps of sprinkles! It's become a fun tradition and everyone at work benefits from it as well!

- A Sunday morning run in the hills. As always, no week is complete without some time outside. I am lucky to live in a place where we can run outside year round and I am taking advantage of it! I love where I live...

How is your holiday going? What do you have planned for this week?


Looking Back: November

Get the advent calendars out! It's almost Christmas! This year, I have to work the day after Christmas and so we are going to have our family time a couple of weeks beforehand, so it's coming up quick! So let's recap November before December gets underway. November was a good month, albeit a busy one!

Running: November was a whacky running month. The first weekend, I paced a friend for a 100 mile race in Arizona, which was about 40 miles for me (overnight, in the dark, in the desert). The weekend after that, I paced a different friend for a 100 mile race, which was another 22 miles. Besides that, the rest of the runs were pretty minor. However, due to these two, monthly mileage came in at 186 miles.

Reading: Due to the fact that I spent a lot of time with other people and not a lot of time at home, I had one of my worst reading months this month! I read ONE book, Quiet, which I really enjoyed. However, it is not one of those "quick page turner" kind of books. It has a lot of interesting information and I took a few notes, but it was more like reading for knowledge than for pleasure. If you like the book, or if you want to hear a little about it, OR if you need a new podcast to listen to, check out this episode of the TED Radio hour.

Traveling: For pacing, I went to Phoenix and then to Auburn/Folsom. Both were dry and dusty and I did not see much due to the fact that I was mostly there in the dark. In addition, I went up to my parents for the weekend and then to my brother's for Thanksgiving. It was great to see my parents and to be "home" for a while, since I will not be heading up there for Christmas. November starts the busy weekend (and driving) time for me, so I often rent a car for the months of November/December. It ends up costing less money (and considerably less time) in the long run. I still think that my decision not to have a car otherwise is a good one.

Rainy run at Mom and Dads

Misc: Other than that, I went to all-you-can-eat Korean with the lads at work, had a great time at a Trail Running Film Festival, met up with a friend twice for Indian food and much needed girl talk, and drank a lot of yummy beer including this Sculpin IPA.

How was your November? Are you ready for the craziness of December? What is your favorite beer?


Coffee Talk

I am having a hard time forming more than a list these days... but there are a few things we would talk about if we were having coffee today. First I would ask you:  

How is your week going? What's the weather like where you are? What big things are going on in your life lately?

I am not really one for small talk, but I may start the conversation off by saying that it's finally raining here! We have been needing it so badly. Of course, this is literally just a drop in the bucket, but I will take it. The other good thing is that this hopefully means that it is snowing in the Sierras and I can soon do some skiing and other winter sports.

Next I would delve more into my week by saying how I sometimes really love working with all men (not as many emotions running wild, no line in the ladies room EVER) but sometimes men can be as bad or worse than women when it comes to being catty and/or talking about each other behind the other person's back! They sometimes whine so much I want to just smack them. That and one of them keeps stealing my supplies.... As much as they are a pain, I do like the group I work with. In fact, last night we all went to all-you-can -eat Korean BBQ and I  gorged myself on spicy pork and little side dishes!

I need a quick and effective fitness routine that I can do at home. Do you have any suggestions? My criteria is that I want it to be less than half an hour and I do not want to have to pay for it. This month, and even more so in December, is filling up with week day activities and I need something quick I can do in the gaps of the day.

I have not done any Christmas shopping, and I am behind on starting my Christmas cards. This year I am having trouble getting motivated to do projects. This also bleeds into my running life. I just can't muster up the energy to go running on the week days lately! With the holidays around the corner, this is not going to get any easier. I need to make a list/schedule and start checking it off.

I would love to do this multi day snowshoeing trip in Yosemite. Seeing the valley in the snow would be absolutely priceless! I have added it to my list of things I want to do, which is getting longer and longer each day!


Okay, your turn: Where do you want to travel to this winter?  Have you started your shopping yet? tell me what fitness routine you are doing for the winter!


Running, Eating, Travel

Happy Friday!

When I saw Amber's post about some of the things she was doing lately instead of blogging, I thought I would play along and do the same, especially since I have been a especially bad blogger this year! Sometimes life just gets in the way, I guess. Here are a few things that have been keeping me away from being a dedicated blogger.

Working - This is probably one of the biggest time takers in my life. We are always pretty busy, and to top it off, we stay late and then I often end up doing research for a little while at home as well. Top this off with commuting and you have a good portion of the week that is taken up by work related activities. In addition, my boss recently asked me to take on more responsibility in my position and I accepted, so the workload will only get heavier, not lighter.

Baseball - This is over now, but if I look back on the last month, baseball took up a good chunk of time. I watched a few games at a bar near my work, went to my brother's house for another and watched a few at home. Now that it's over, I am not really a big football, basketball or hockey fan, so unless it's for a social outing, I will not be watching a lot of sports for several more months.

Walking - I have been trying to finally get together with friends for those walks we always talked about doing. It's a great way to get some exercise AND catch up with a friend at the same time. Sometimes we even go for a snack afterwards, so it's a mini girl's (or boys and girls) night out, fitness style.

Reading - I feel like I have not finished that many books lately, but I have started a lot. I decided that if I got half way through a book and I was not really feeling it, I would put it down. This has been happening to me a lot lately! I think in October I put down 2 books and in September, maybe 2 or 3. It feels a bit like a cop out or a waste of time, but again, is better than reading the whole book and not liking it! However, it makes it so my reading tally per month is not as high as it could be.

Cooking/Eating - I have been making a lot of easy "to go" dishes, like egg fritata or baked oatmeal or soup, that I can make a big dish/batch of and can take with me to work and eat on the go. Since I am saving time eating these dishes, I am making it up by eating a lot of after dinner snacks. I need to get a handle on this, as the holidays are fast approaching, but I do love a nice handful of mixed nuts (or two) after dinner. I blame my parents for this, as they would sometimes have trail mix for dinner if nobody else was around.

Running - I have not been doing a lot of week day running, maybe 15 miles or so, but during the weekends, I have been crewing and pacing for friends who are running ultra races. This entails going to the place, in my case Phoenix one weekend and Sacramento the next, and running overnight for about 8 - 12 hours with my running friend. This brings me to my next thing on the list...

Travel - For the past several weekends, I have not been home much. This has either been due to the above pacing duties, which took me away for two weekends, or for other fun outings, like when I drove to Auburn to meet my parents for a hike, or before that, I went to Santa Rosa to hang with the broski. This coming weekend, I have plans to do a run with some friends north of San Francisco, brunch with Grandma and a then hike with the broski in the wine country the next day. Once again, running, eating, travel....

Socializing - I don't consider myself very social, but lately I have even been doing things on weekdays after work, which is crazy, as I am generally a week day hermit. I met a long time friend for a much needed catch up session (with a run! It was a perfect combo). I have an after work all you can eat Korean BBQ planned with the lads at work and a Hunger Games premier event with some colleagues next week.  This too, will only get heavier as the holidays near. I already have three Christmas parties to go to, not including our family one, or the weekend before Christmas when one of my oldest friends will be visiting. Things are ramping up and the calendar is getting full.

Holiday stuff / Crafting - Nope, I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet, but I have started working on my Christmas cards! The other thing that will be done soon is the grand Christmas cookie baking and decorating extravaganza!

Organizing - This has been on my To Do list for ages, but I have been whittling away at it slowly. I am trying to organize my computer, make sure all my photos are backed up, clear some space off my computer, back up my phone etc. Also, I have been trying each month to get rid of a bag of clothes and to NOT buy any more. In addition, it's almost time to do a deep clean and dust and purge, but I will probably wait until after Christmas for that. One of the funny things with having a roommate, is that every time I throw something away, she buys something new! It's a constant game of organizing and reassessing!

Gardening - Winter is almost here and the garden is an overgrown mess. I have been getting rid of the old weeds and veggie masses and prepping the beds for next year's crop. We will not plant for about 5 more months, but it still feels good to clear out the garden and get it looking tidy for next year. 

Oh! A couple of "things I WISH were on this list" are: getting a haircut, getting a massage, writing in my journal, hiking in Tahoe (or skiing, I am not picky), going up to my parent's house, doing more strength training and/or yoga, reading more, knitting more, taking more photos... and many more.

What are YOU doing instead of blogging?


Looking Back: October

November is well under way, and like many have said before, October was a full and busy month, which of course made it go by quickly!

Reading: October was not a great reading month; I finished two books, which I liked, and started two books, which I could not get into and did not end up finishing. The two books I read were Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, which was a fun book about the juxtaposition between computers and books, and And The Mountains Echoed, which was good but not as good as A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Running: I am having issues with my Garmin; first the strap fell off and now I am having trouble uploading it to Garmin Connect, but I think my mileage was around 170 miles for the month of October. I had one 50 mile race, but other than that, I think I did not have a run longer than about 15 miles. It feels nice to take it easy a bit, but I do feel my waistband getting a bit tighter! This is what happens when you are still eating as if you are running long runs every weekend (aka candy and snacks right before bedtime!) but you are not running as much.

Near Sonora Pass

Travel: I met up with my Mom twice (along with Dad, brother and his lady once) in Auburn, where we took a nice hike and swim on the Western States Trail and then had brunch in the town. For those who don't know, the Western States is a 100  mile race from Squaw Valley (Tahoe) to Auburn, and it was fun to take my family on the trail and show them a few miles of it. We also swam in the American river twice, the last time being on the 19th of October. It was not very warm, but it sure was fun to be able to swim in October! Auburn is a cute little mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas and we found a great breakfast (brunch) place where we ate 4 egg (I know!) omelets with pancakes and biscuits and gravy.

Schat's Bakery
I also went to Santa Rosa and hung out with Broski and the lady a couple of times. First was the day after my 50 mile race, and Broski punished me by making me hike straight up a hill in 90 degree weather. The other time was during the World Series when I went to their house to have dinner and watch the game. They came down to the city for game 6 (the one that we lost) as well. Broski has been doing harvest (he is a wine maker) and so has been working 24/7, so it was nice to see him and his lady a few times!

Lastly, my Dad, brother and I made a trip to Mt. Whitney, where we had a great time hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which we consider our "backyard". We had a great time in Lone Pine afterward, wandering around and watching the World Series in a town where most of the locals are Braves fans. We also stopped in Bishop at the Schats Bakery for some sheepherder bread and pastries on our way out, as well as stopping near the Sonora Pass for a quick run/hike to stretch our legs after being in the car for a while.

In addition to all of that, there were many week night activities in October, which made it feel as if I didn't get much of a break. I am currently reading the book Quiet, and in it, it talks about how introverts need to be alone to recharge. I definitely do! Hopefully November will have a few more days for "recharging"!

How was your October? What is your favorite thing about Autumn? Have you read any good books lately?


Orange Friday

This week was a short and fast one, as I had Monday off. It was nice to have a four day week, especially with some of thing things that have been going on around here, but it really did make for a busy and quick week!

The high of my week was...I will say it in a photo. What an exciting week! This photo is from 2012, but today, we will have another parade. It has been a very interesting season.

Giants Parade 2012

The low of my week was...this week I didn't really have a low! I guess I would say that I am disappointed in the way that the Whitney hike went on one hand, but on the other hand I had a really good time with my brother and Dad, so it's not really that much of a low really. It was very cold and windy and my brother had a bit of sickness so the hike didn't quite go as planned.

The favorite thing I read was....Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. What a fun and quirky book!

My favorite thing I heard was...a few episodes (podcast) of Freakanomics. I listen while I run and it is a fun way to pass the time.

The best thing I spent money on was...The trip to Whitney...gas, food, beer and lots of pastries! It was an 8 hour drive each way, but was totally worth it!

My plans this weekend include... a trip to Phoenix to pace/crew some friends of mine at the Javelina Jundered (100 miles) race! It will be a good time, as it is at a park where we will set up a tent and it is a multi loop course, so we will be able to see them a lot and to run as many loops as needed with them.

How was your week? What plans do you have this weekend? Do you know what a Javelina is?


End of Week Musings

And then it was Friday again. I always prefer a job where the time goes by too fast over one where it is too slow. However, lately, its like Monday and Friday are the only two days of the week! If only Saturday and Sunday were really long, it would not be too bad, I guess. I am still learning a lot of new things each day at work, and this, coupled with the regular day to day, makes the time just fly by.
The high of my week was... after work festivities, usually involving the Giants game. On Tuesday, I met up with some coworkers at a bar near the office; on Wednesday I had "Sunday night dinner" and the game at my brother's house. Both nights were a lot of fun, even though the Giants did not win both games!

The low of my week was...lack of working out. I am feeling a bit of blah lately and have been snacking too much and not exercising enough. It's like a long taper without actually training for anything. It's a vicious circle, as not working out makes me feel like eating snacks and eating snacks makes me feel like not working out.

The favorite thing I read was.... a poem that my Mom wrote when she was in New York. She gave it to my Dad and he shared it with us. I think it's sweet that they still do things like that for each other. The best thing is that my Dad may have written one back. I will have to ask him about it this weekend.

My favorite thing I heard was... the song "Baby Got Back" on the radio. I was in the car at the time and I turned it way, way up and got my groove on by dancing and singing along while waiting at a red light. What a great way to put some pep back into my step. LA face with an Oakland booty!

The best thing I spent money on was... gas. I don't really drive very often, so when I do, its usually for a good reason, and so buying gas = an adventure! This week I used it to go to my brother's house for a Giants game / birthday bash / dinner. It was well worth both the money and the time!

My plans this weekend include...hiking Mt. Whitney with my brother and Dad. We did it all together in 1995, when I wore flannel pants (it was the style then!) and my brother's old Reeboks. I don't remember having any altitude sickness but I do remember it being really cold at night (in September) and being really happy to reach the top. I wonder how it will be nearly 20 years later... (that kind of made me feel old just knowing that I can say "20 years later" and it not mean that I was a baby that long ago)

Mt. Whitney -- 1995

How was your week? What are you doing this weekend? What did you wear hiking when you were a kid?


Friday Fun Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The City

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

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

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

Who you gonna call?

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

Mural along High Line

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

Brooklyn Promenade

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

Manhattan Bridge

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

Run / Walk Schedule

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

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


Miwok 100k

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

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

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

Approximately 12,000 ft of climbing

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

Bolinas Ridge Trail

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

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

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

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

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

View of the city from the Coastal trail.

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

Pirates Cove

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

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

Dipsea trail to Stinston beach

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

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

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

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


Flowers in Their Hair

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

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

Old photo, same restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

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


Looking Back: September

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

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

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

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

The hills ARE alive....

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

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

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


Looking Back: August

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

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

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

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

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

The Ghostbusters Fire House

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

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

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


Looking Back & Looking Forward

Goodbye July! Hello August!

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

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

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

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


And now....Looking Forward!

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

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

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

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

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


Time is on Your Side

I had a nice chat with my Dad on the phone yesterday (while running), which has been a long time coming. It's amazing how you can keep thinking that you will call someone "tomorrow" or do something "in a few minutes" and all of a sudden hours, days or weeks slip by. I always thought that people who stated that they were, "SO busy" were just bad at time management. I haven't changed my mind about that completely; I have only just gotten worse at managing my own time.

While studying, I made a list in my head of all the things I have been wanting to do or needing to do in the last few months but have put off in order to study. I have mentioned before, but I was never any good at studying. However, this time, it's my job (and my pride!) on the line, so I am buckling down and trying to get it done. In 10 days, I will have literally HOURS of my life back. I am really, really looking forward to that day.

So I thought I would quickly share my list with you and then get back to studying again (and do another load of laundry, and get my lunch ready for tomorrow, and go set the rat trap in the garage, etc).

- Costco trip
- Pickling veggies (almost out of pickles)
- Trip to REI (need a new headlamp)
- Baking/cooking for fun (not just one pot meals for necessity)
- Get a massage (1 hour of bliss)
- Plan a vacation (well deserved!!)
- Catch up/visit with friends/family (on the phone and in person)
- Go camping (summer is nearly over!)
- Start taking more photos
- Organize my room / files (bought containers; now I just need to use them)
- Go browsing at Barnes and Noble (for hours...)
- Buy a few new tops for work

When you get busy, what takes a back burner? Is there anything you are looking forward to doing soon?


Boston Marathon 2014

I am procrastinating studying, and so am finally attempting to write a quick recap of Boston. For most it is a little too late, but for me it is good to get it down while I still have memories about it.

My training was going well up until the end of March. One day I was running on the trails, doing a 20 mile run, and my Achilles tendon on the left side started to ache. I figured it would go away, but as I kept running, it kept getting worse. Of course, I was about 10 miles into my run and practically as far from my house (and/or a road) as I could have been. So I walked the last 10 miles home. For the next three weeks up until Boston, I ran about 20 miles total. Let me tell you, this is not a lead up to a big race. I could not decide whether it would be better to rest and hope that it was better by the time I had to race, or to "work through the pain". However, I actually listened to my own advice (or the advice that I would have given others) and stayed of it for the most part.

Race day came and luckily it was not too hot. It started off cool, but by race time it was probably about 50, which was perfect. I wore an old button up shirt with a cardigan and tights as my throw away outfit and was laughing at all of the other strange outfits in the athlete's village. For those of you not familiar with the marathon, you first get on the bus around 6 and get bussed to Hopkinton where you wait until it is time for your wave. My wave started at 10:20 so I had plenty of time to stand around in the portapotty line and people watch.

Portapotty people watching

The race started and, as always, the crowd participation was fantastic. I don't even wear headphones, as there really is no need. The sound of other runners' feet, the screams of the crowd, the music and laughter...all of this was my "music" for the day. Of course, with all of the positive vibes and sounds of running feet, I started out too fast. In addition to starting out too fast, I realized that I had not trained for speed very well. In addition to that, around mile 7 or so, my Achilles started to ache slightly.

Beer? Cigarettes? Donuts?

As you may or may not know, Boston is a mostly downhill course. For the first 10 miles, it is a slight downhill, so it's easy to prance along, feeling good. However, around 10 it starts to level out and then your legs (mostly hip flexors and quads) start to scream at you for starting out too fast. That is what happened to me. Miles 1 - 6 were all around 7:50 min/mile. Things were looking up! The Achilles was not bothering me; it was a beautiful day!

Miles 7 - 10 were around 8:00/mile. Things were starting to ache; the fact that I had not trained was starting to show; I was starting to get tired and I still had 16 miles left.

Miles 11 - 18 were around 8:30/mile. Things were falling apart. I wanted to stop. My quads were burning and my Achilles was aching and I wanted my Mommy.

Miles 19 - 26 were torture. I went from 9:10 to 9:15 to 9:30...and completed my last couple of miles at around a 9:40. It was not fun. I was so happy to round the corner on Boylston and see the finish line in the distance. The silver lining is that I carried my camera and I got some pretty good photos of myself crossing the finish line, even though I heard someone shout at me as I was finishing, "put the camera down and finish!"

I'm trying to finish Mr.!

I crossed the line at 3:47:40, or an 8:42 pace. This is 24 minutes slower than my time last year, almost a minute slower per mile. It was not a great feeling.

The silver lining? I ran into a friend of mine from Oakland in the finish shoot. Also, afterward I met up with my parents in the Boston Common and we went and had a celebratory Sam Adams 26.2 (or two), which was priceless.

The verdict? I think I am done with Boston. There are other fish to fry. However, I was glad to come back and show those bullies that we are not afraid of them. We will keep doing what we love and not let fear hold us back. Take that, bullies!

Have you ever run a race or done something just on principle? What would be your advice if someone who was injured wanted to keep running through the pain?


Currently: July

I took my series 7 exam on Monday and it was not the most fun thing I have ever done. You know how, no matter how much you are prepared, you feel inadequate when the time comes to perform sometimes? Well, the exam was a two part exam and I took the first half and felt pretty good. I did not feel good about the second half and after I finished, you have to push a button that says, "if you push this, you cannot go back. Do you want to continue?" and I really did NOT want to continue. But I pushed it and 15 seconds later (which felt like hours, my heart was beating SO hard), it gave me my score. I passed! Phew. One down; one to go. 

Current Book - The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book got good reviews from all my friends on Goodreads. I have to admit, maybe it's because I am studying at the same time, but I am finding it only so-so. It's about books, so of course that's a plus, but it's just not riveting. 

Current Running Path - The other day I took a run out to the Bay Bridge trail, where they built us a new bridge and are taking down the old one. It was pretty cool to see, and is kind of an end of an era. This bridge was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and it's been a long road replacing it, but it's finally done. Now they just have to get rid of the old one.

Current Drink - Sparkling water. It's my new treat to myself. I even got some mint the other day and have been drinking it with mint and lemon. It's so refreshing!

Current Excitement - See above regarding passing the Series 7. Phew! 

Current fashion trend - These are everywhere. In all different forms.


Current Favorite Blog/Website - I have to admit, I have not really been reading blogs/websites lately. The only one I have really visited lately has been the Oakland Library website, and maybe Goodreads.  

Current Garden Item - So far we have tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes and peppers! Summer is here!

Current Love - Running with people. I still mostly run by myself, but have been doing maybe one run a week or every two weeks with friends, and it really makes the time of a long run go by faster!

Current Food - See above regarding garden items. I made the best salad yesterday with radish, cucumber, tomato, toasted pecans, feta, lemon and mint. It was so good and fresh!

Current Indulgence - Trail mix. I have been going to town on it. It's my study snack. Unfortunately, I find it hard to stop eating it! 

Currently Pondering - How long my current computer is going to last. Right now it only has a little bit of space left, and I've gotten the black (not blue) screen a couple of times. To be fair, it's about 5 years old, but I am really hoping it hangs on for a little while longer! Also, I am not sure if I want another laptop, or a tablet. I want it to be more portable, but I really like the big keyboard and operating system on my laptop!  

Current Mood - Great!  

Current New Find - I am probably way behind the times here, but I found these great noodles that are made from yam and I love them!! I don't eat a lot of pasta, but these are a good substitute when you are feeling like a pasta-like dish! I really like them sauteed up with mushrooms, a bit of ginger, some miso and any other veggie that I have in the fridge.  

Current Peeve - People who borrow something and don't put it back. Use what you want, but replace it! 

Current Song - This song has come up on my Pandora a few times recently and I find it very haunting.


Current Triumph - Getting through studying. It's been a lot of years since I have had to do that.  

Current TV Show - Greys Anatomy reruns. They are my "reward" for a long study session.

Current Wish-List - New running shoes.  

Currently Delaying - Starting study for the next exam. I don't want to. I want to take a break. However, the train is still moving, so I cannot get off now!

What is your current indulgence? Have you ever tried yam (or tofu) noodles? Have you jumped on the leopard pants band wagon?


Looking Back: June

June started with my Dad's birthday and ended with Western States, and the in between was like a suitcase that you pack so full that you have to sit on it to make it all fit. I wish that I was current with this space, because there have been so many things that I want to report on (and remember). However, it's just not meant to be right now, so the stories will have to wait. Unfortunately, if we don't get things right down on paper, we tend to forget the small details, which are often the ones that make the event/day/story special.

North Matthieu Lake, OR

Study: (50 - 60 hours) Once again, studying ruled the roost this month, which is not surprising, as my exam is scheduled for July 7th. I am not that great at studying, however, after talking to some of the other new people in the office who are also studying, I feel pretty good about my progress. I got through all of the material and then took an overall practice test, which allowed me to go back and focus on some of the areas where I need more work. Since then, I have taken a few more practice finals and have been passing them. So...fingers crossed that I do as well on the exam as I have been doing on the practice exams. Having said that, I will be SO GLAD to not have to get up early every day to study and to come home every night and study.

Reading: (2 books) I actually read this month! Once I started to take more practice exams, I found that I really needed a break from the computer, so I would fit in a half an hour of reading here and there. Also, I did take one flight and had a few days of rest, so I crammed in a bit of reading here and there. I read The Sense of an Ending, which was only so-so, and A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) which was actually quite entertaining. Actually, it was just what I needed for study break material, which was something not too deep or meaningful.

Tahoe Rim Trail, NV

Running: (206 miles) Okay, so this month was not ALL about study. What can I say; running is my release. I am also training for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 mile run, which is on July 19th. The race is done at an elevation of 6500 - 9000 ft, so I went up to the area one weekend and did two long runs in order to get some kind of preparation for the altitude. Also, I spent some time in Oregon and I love running and exploring the trails up in the Cascades. However, since they are also pretty high up (6000 ft), I ran into snow a few times and could not get past it. Finally, I went up to Auburn and watched a bunch of my friends run the Western States Endurance Run (more on this later) and of course ran around a bit that weekend as well.

Rob Krar, #1 overall at WSER

Travel: Although I have not gone out of the country, this year has been a great one for local travels. In June, I went to South Lake Tahoe, Auburn and central Oregon. Each trip was a great time with friends and I got in a lot of hiking, walking, running and outdoors activities, which to me is the perfect vacation! The trip to Oregon was especially fun because it was with my good friend and her two girls, one of them who is 4, the other is 2 months old. It was great to spend time with them all and it always amazes me how fast they are growing!

Metoulious River, OR

Other than that, I have been tending the garden, running a bit with the dog (Emi -- her mileage is probably about 12 for the month of June) and working!

How was your June? What outdoor activities have you been doing? When was the last time you had to study for something?

**Also, last but not least, I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to my mom and her twin sister!**