Wharf to Wharf Race Recap

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At the conclusion of each school year, I reflect by noting The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  While I won’t disclose The Bad and The Ugly in a post about a race, The Good can certainly be applied to this year’s Wharf to Wharf held on July 23rd, 2017.  During an intense IEP meeting this past year a parent asked the general education teacher how her child compared to the other children in the class.  Most often, general education teachers dance around this question as many of our children with special needs do have strengths and weaknesses that vary from their non-disabled peers.  During the meeting, however, Mr. Lucas responded with, “I won’t compare students to one another in my classroom.  If we always compared ourselves to others, we would never know how good we could be on our own.”  This little gem stuck with me and ended up being a running theme this year.

The Wharf to Wharf is known as “The Best Little Road Race in California.”  To those that grew up in Santa Cruz, the fourth Sunday of July is a holiday.  For the past 45 years, this race has been steeped in tradition.  The course is a challenging 6 miles from the wharf in Santa Cruz to the wharf in Capitola.  Along the course there are hills (plenty of them), bands, loads of cheering fans and 17,000 runners gunning for the coveted Top 100 jacket, celebrating with generations of family members, laughing with pals, seeking PRs and for some, seeking mimosas along the way.  Since I moved to Santa Cruz in 2010, I’ve done the race each year with the exception of 2015 when I was getting back on my feet after a series of setbacks.  While many live for this race each year, it’s (gasp) not my favorite.  To begin, I run the course several days a week.  It’s gorgeous and I love to run here, but when it comes to racing on this course, I’m not overjoyed.  Add to that, for many years, I have felt pressure to do well as if my race performance spoke for my entire running ability.  I’ve realized that it’s absurd to put this pressure on myself, which is another reason why Mr. Lucas’ words were so powerful.  Running and racing against myself is a focus for 2017, and I’m getting there.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that I’ve yet to find the place where I am comfortable being uncomfortable, and this is where I let comparison and settling creep in.  There is this protective shield that keeps me from putting it all out there as I’m afraid I could blow up and the uncertainty of what would happen then keeps me in the “This is enough.” category.  With that being said, you might predict where my recap is going…

This year, I found myself in better shape than I’ve been in for a while.  My times on the track and my tempo runs were spot on, long runs of 10-12 miles were comfortable, and all the easy days felt just that, easy.  Knowing this, when my coach gave me a pace range that she deemed, “aggressive, but doable.” I wanted to die.  With her predictions, I should have had a large PR, but then cue the negative thoughts.  That comparison started to sneak back in.

  • “Those are the times that my really fast friends run.”
  • “There is no way that you can do that pace the whole way.”
  • “Oh… you better go out slower than that and then try to negative split… if you can.”

You get the picture.  I was talking myself out of this attempt before the race even started. Teammates posted their race mantras, there were plenty of pep talks and race strategies, but I missed the message even though my tempo runs along the course prior suggested that all of the above thoughts were truly bullsh*t.

Race morning, my friend Kathy and I headed to Sarah’s house to warm up with some other Arete teammates.  We talked race strategies along the way, and many of us found that we had similar goals.  That was a good thing as we could work together.  Once we got to the starting line, we joined other teammates for a bit more of a warm up, bathroom breaks, pictures and then drills and strides.  Then it was time to get into the corrals.  The Wharf to Wharf has many corrals with the Elite corral being the one to be in if you want a chance of getting into the Top 100 (the first 100 males and females across the line by gun time get a special jacket to note this awesome achievement). Usually, this corral is limited to 1000 racers, but there were some folks this year that selected a time that they may not have been capable of running.  As a result, 2000 people were deemed “elite” this year.  This made me nervous (recall I have a fear of falling) as the start of the race is like the running of the bulls (not that I would know what this is really like, but I get the idea from Youtube).  With runners that were running over a 7 minute mile mixed into the elites, it made for a very congested start.  While the goal was to hang onto some teammates, that was impossible from the start.  I was on my own.

  • Mile 1 – My goal here was to stay towards the high end of my pace range as there’s a huge hill right after the first mile.  If you go out too fast, the rest of your race is compromised.  I did exactly that… 6:23.  Proud of self.
  • Mile 2 – There are two hills in the second mile that add up.  My strategy was to take it easy on the uphills and then get some time back on the flats and downhills.  Things were going well… 6:31.  Out of the range, but okay with that as I was feeling strong.
  • Mile 3 – The detour… literally. Due to some construction on the traditional course, there was a slight detour that was slated to add an extra .02 to the race.  I ran the detour during tempo runs to prepare, but I must not have had my head in the game at 6:30 AM as I didn’t recall that the detour added another hill to the mix (only to be followed by another .25 mile hill shortly thereafter).  My body was okay with this, but my mind started to say that there was a long way to go… save some energy.  I’m falling behind my goal… 6:42.  Note to self… get head back in the game.
  • Mile 4 – I like mile 4 as there are some flat stretches and several people gather to cheer in this area.  My mind also said, “This is okay.  You’ll get a Top 100 if you just keep running at this pace.  Enjoy the moment.”  At this point, my friend Monique came up beside me.  Since we had similar goals, figured that I should hang out with her for a bit, but then again, I could catch her later too… 6:39.

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  • Mile 5 – I can’t tell you much about this mile as I honestly didn’t remember running parts of it.  Adam and I went to the beach later that afternoon and as we crossed the street I really didn’t recall running on this stretch.  The only bit that I remember about this mile was that when I got to 36th Avenue, Zeuf’s street, that the crowd was quiet.  This made me sad… didn’t those people know that this is the street where the magic happens??? There used to be so much cheering and positive energy at this corner that flying though the last mile wasn’t a choice.  The people just stood there… 6:47.  Ugh.
  • Mile 6 – To my surprise, I saw my friend Elise here and nearly stopped to have a conversation and get a hug… she lives in DC so this was unexpected.  Shortly thereafter, I saw my coach along the course (also rare since she lives in Seattle).  These folks perked me up for a bit and I felt like a found a second gear, but then the dreaded Opal Cliffs comes in to play.  This is a long stretch of canted road, home to beautiful homes, but not a single ocean view.  It’s dreadful, but I knew the end was near.  Monique was still just steps ahead of me and I kept saying I should catch up to her, but that other voice said otherwise.  After seeing my friends, the race was pretty mundane until right towards the race end, another teammate came along my side.  The biggest smile came to my face knowing that Kelsey just ran out of her shoes for a Top 100 and a time that she never had expected.  So awesome!!! Just like the downhill finish… 6:39.

Once I’d crossed the finish line, I received my popsicle stick to let me know where I’d placed in the Top 100.  Lower 70s.  I’ll take it.  After this, all joy returned and there were hugs and high-5s all around to celebrate everyone’s success.  The ladies that I run with are honestly the best.  Never have I been on a team that has zero drama and lifts one another up more than these Arete ladies do. Together we collected our Top 100 jackets and carried on to celebrations and relaxation.

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If I had to note The Good, The Bad and The Ugly it would shake out like this:

  • The Good: Top 100 each of the 6 years I’ve participated. So many teammates had PRs. Sarah’s husband, Bernardo, made Teff and Pumpkin pancakes with the Vanilla Coffee Nut Butter as a post-race brunch (and there were mimosas)…Out of this world delicious!
  • The Bad: I let my mind get the best of me.  Note to self… jump into more race experiences and practice getting uncomfortable as hell… and then running through that.
  • The Ugly: That detour… I don’t like it.  The fear of getting trampled in the elite corral.  Here’s to hoping that people have to prove their time to be in that corral from now on.

RACE REVIEW:

Overall: B+ – The logistics of this race are well-ironed.  Bibs are mailed, restrooms are plentiful, and there’s something special for every type of runner.

T-shirt/Swag: A – The shirts are gender specific and have a cute design.  At the race’s end you can grab a reusable bag with your shirt, full size bars and trail mix, water/juice and a few discounts.  The Top 100 jackets were from Rabbit and of all that I’ve earned, this was the best.

Aid Stations: A – There was plenty of water on course and volunteers that had good handoffs.  There were also oranges on course.  For a 6 mile race, I’d never take one, but some people make a morning of this event so I’m sure they appreciated them.

Course Scenery: – Ocean views most of the way, except for that stretch of Opal Cliffs… Ugh!

Expo Quality: N/A – No expo prior to the event, but there are plenty of sponsors at the end to answer questions or sell race merchandise.

Elevation/Difficulty: Hard – There are a set of hills that can accumulate over the course.  While there is a downhill finish, by then you are simply begging your body to not fall down… at least I am.

Parking/Access : – This is a point-to-point course, but there is parking available close to the start.  There are shuttles to bring runners back towards the start, albeit they will have to walk a bit after to get to their cars.

Race Management: A+ – This race is HUGE, but the organization and communication from the team is top notch.  If a problem was found in this area, then the runner did not read emails or social media updates.

Run Fast. Eat Slow. Potluck

Wonder what happens when you take a girl who loves to plan a party, the debut of a new cookbook, and a gaggle of girls talking recipes on a run? You get a Run Fast. Eat Slow. Potluck!  Shalane Flanagan (in case you didn’t know… she’s a badass runner, 4-time Olympian, lady with a big heart) and her college teammate, Elyse Kopecky teamed up once again and wrote one of THE BEST cookbooks that I’ve gotten my hands on.  There was instant buzz from the book beginning with its release in August, but that buzz grew louder and louder as word spread.  Seriously though, I was obsessed from Day 1.  So obsessed that my friend Katie and I drove in rush hour traffic to San Francisco to go on a run with Shalane and Elyse (BTW… we beat them that day… even though they didn’t know we were racing ;o) We also got copies of the books signed.

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After this, I was even more obsessed with the book and it really was a topic of discussion on many runs. Because there are so many good recipes and so little time, it was evident that we needed to divide and conquer.  That’s when the light bulb moment hit…. I should just host a potluck!  And so it happened… several months later.

Fast forward to summer… a shout out went to the ladies, a date was chosen and the Facebook event was created.  Each person was asked to claim a recipe that they wanted to bring to the potluck.  The only way that a recipe could be brought twice was only if there was a significant change to the recipe.  For example, my husband has a nut allergy so I make the Superhero Muffins with quinoa flour instead.  Side note… these are a staple in our home.  It’s like grabbing the normal milk, eggs and Superhero Muffin ingredients each time I get groceries.

The following recipes made the cut:

  • Marathon Lasagna
  • Can’t Beet Me Smoothie
  • Arugula Cashew Pesto
  • Kale-Radicchio Salad with Farro
  • Strawberry-Arugula-Kamut Salad
  • Wild West Rice Salad
  • Carolina Tarragon Chicken Salad
  • Recovery Quinoa Salad
  • Garden Gazpacho
  • High-Altitude Bison Meatballs with Simple Marinara
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Flourless Almond Torte

Although it’s not mentioned in the cookbook itself, as runners we fully understand the benefits of wine so there was plenty.  To stay extra hydrated, Cucumber-Strawberry-Basil Spa Water was available too.  There wasn’t a single dish that didn’t get a huge thumb’s up.  My husband was plenty skeptical when he saw the sweet potatoes go into the lasagna, but after the first bite he was protecting it to ensure leftovers.  The lone child at the party also gave high marks to the recipes.  Despite all the dishes brought, we didn’t even touch the surface of this remarkable book.  In fact, the second edition of the book is in the works right this moment.  The vote was unanimous… there will be another potluck in the very near future.

A big thanks goes out to Charissa for getting some beautiful pictures of the party while I was busy stuffing my face with all the goodness.

If you don’t have this cookbook, hit up your local bookstore ASAP (or go to Amazon and get it in 2-days if you have Prime).  You won’t be disappointed.  If you already have the cookbook, what are your favorite recipes?  Don’t worry… you don’t have to pick just one.

“Do You Ever Feel Like Pulling the Covers Over Your Head?”

Recently, I was asked, “Do you ever feel like pulling the covers over your head?” My response was, “Yes.  Often in 2016.”  Sometimes, we find ourselves in places that we didn’t ever imagine being.  Life events happen (and often accumulate), yet despite all the positives, we can’t shake heartbreak.  Ignoring it, trying to replace it, moving forward with a fake smile… eventually it all catches up.  Fortunately, with time and support from others you find yourself no longer pulling the covers over your head, but throwing them off and racing to start the day.  I’m here now.

With that being said, I’ve been promising to add this or that to laps.lunges.leather and I’m ready to fulfill my promises. Thank you to those who have been patient with me and have been there for the ride.

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Race (and Life) Recaps

Wow!  Have I been the biggest blog slacker IN THE WORLD?!?!  Now that the new year has started I guess now is just as good a time as ever to catch up.  I’ve been busy running, not drinking wine (#SoberJanuary), and awaiting spring by perusing fashion sites and magazines to make a list of my must haves and wishes.  Here’s the scoop:

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In December, I went on a family trip to Rome.  This trip was so full of site seeing and family that I only ran ONE day.  The funny thing is that I didn’t stress about not running, which is really not normal for me.  I knew that upon my return to the US that it would be full speed ahead for the Boston Marathon in April.  On the one day that I did run in Rome, it was through the gorgeous Borghese Gardens.  How could you not have a great run when the park is in the shape of a heart?

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Ignore the graffiti… this was all over the place, unfortunately.

Once I returned from the trip, building miles was in full effect.  My speed sessions included hills… which are “speed in disguise,” so I’m told.  I also had some steady state runs which included a 10 minute warm up, 30 minutes from 6:44-7:03, and a 10 minute cool down.  Not going to lie… I knew from the first hill that I had a long road ahead of me after the downtime in Rome.  Plus… El Niño was hitting with full force leading to some runs on the dreadmill.  By the time my first long run rolled around, my legs were EXHAUSTED, but I had my Sushi Club girls to pull me through since we had plans to take Sushi Club to San Francisco for the Hot Chocolate 15k.  RAM Racing‘s Events are always a ton of fun and combining the race with girlfriends that love running and sushi is a combination that can’t be beat.

 

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Sushi Club (L to R – Claudia, Laura, Marian and LLL) Next Meeting: 1/3/16

 

*** Sushi Club Notes:  It is our mission to eat at EVERY sushi place in Santa Cruz County.  While we hit nearly all of them in 2015, we weren’t organized.  In 2016 we have a rating system and plan to document the awesomeness that is Sushi Club.  Sometimes we have a “special guest” join us, but most often, it’s just the 4 of us.***

The plan for the Hot Chocolate 15k was to actually run 13 total miles.  My coach didn’t have any speed guidelines, the goal was to just get the long run done.  Race morning we took an Uber to the start and hoped for a quick warm-up, but that didn’t quite happen.  Claudia and Laura teamed up to run and Marian and I teamed up to run.  Marian and I said that we would go out around 8:00 minute pace knowing there were a lot of hills.  Wishful thinking… we ended up running in 1:10:39 (7:34 pace).  Actually, we were a couple minutes faster, but SF weather is tricky.  We didn’t anticipate that the sun would come out and it would get uncomfortably warm.  By the time we passed the 5k mark, we knew that layers needed to come off.  Since we were in this race for the sole purpose of fun, we stopped to undress… which is the exact reason why my results don’t come up.  I stuffed my top into my awesome Oiselle Aero Tights and that was the end of chip timing for me.  We had a good laugh at the time that we were pulling such a rookie move, but by the time the race ended, we were happy to have all our layers since it was freezing!

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Race Expo Fun… This event was really well organized and despite the large number of runners, we were in and out in a jif.

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With bellies full of chocolate we were all smiles at the finish… My guess is the photo bomber was just as happy since he looks pretty smiley himself.

Boston base miles continued through January knowing that each week was better than the week before.  In order to keep the training fun, I am planning to jump into some half marathons just to get the miles in.  With marathon pace miles starting, this is a great way to simulate a race without all the nerves that come with an actual race.  That is exactly what I did on January 30.  The Rotary Club in San Juan Bautista puts on the Mission 10 Miler each January, and this year, they added a half marathon.  With lots of climbing, I felt it was a perfect opportunity for doing an 18 mile run.  My Santa Cruz Endurance teammate, Benoit, is also training for Boston and he jumped at the chance to go with.  My plan was to run up to 6 miles at marathon pace (MP) and then settle into a comfortable pace for the remainder.  With all the climbs, I decided to do some of the miles at the beginning, go for effort on the hills, and then finish the MP miles.  The plan worked really well and between the MP miles, the warm-up and a slower cool down (with the company of Benoit and my pup Rosie) the average was 7:30 pace.  I’m really proud of this run for two reasons.  First, I executed my plan despite being tempted to be a bit more competitive (old me would have thought more about competing versus looking at the big picture).  Speaking of old me, on January 31st, 2015 I ran 6 miles at an 8:19 pace.  The doctors said I would probably be able to run 3 miles by the end of January.  With hard work, I surpassed that, but remembered the difficulty of that 6 mile run.  I seriously finished feeling happy/sad.  I was happy that I did 6 miles, but sad thinking that above 8 minute miles was going to be my new normal.  What a difference a year makes!  Being humbled has it’s perks because it makes you relax and appreciate the present.

Now that it’s February, I’m back to track workouts and tempo runs.  Plus… my first 20 miler is THIS weekend.  In regards to races to jump into, my MIL is visiting for most of the month so we have kept the calendar kind of open.  The one thing that is for sure in February would be that I am going to LA to watch the Olympic Marathon Trials!!!! This girl is really, really excited to meet up with my Oiselle Volèe teammates to cheer on Elites and the regular folks that are going to kick butt on Sunday at the LA Marathon.

LUNGES |

BodyPump 96 was released at my club a couple weeks ago.  Holy cow is this a tough release!  My favorite track is probably the Lunges, but that may be just because I have a great fondness for Peanut Butter and Jelly.  I wish I was joking… in our home PBJ makes many appearances at lunch, dinner and snack time.  For the first time in a long time, each track either has a good song or just kicks your butt so much it’s hard to find anything not to like.  With New Year’s resolutions in full effect the club has been PACKED!  While the regulars always have complaints that their “spot” has been taken or they can’t even get into the class, I hope to provide gentle reminders that we were all once new to Group X.  I’m also happy to report that classes are still pretty darn full.  Here’s the trailer for BP 96… if you haven’t checked out a class yet DO IT!

In the personal lunge department, I started the year off with a Functional Movement Assessment/Screening at Paradigm Sport.  I’m sad to report that I didn’t do so well.  Seriously, I made it through grad school not once, but twice with a 4.0.  In addition, I somehow managed to exit undergrad with honors despite drinking my weight in Maddog 20/20 and Amaretto Stone Sours each weekend (don’t judge… we all had a dumb college drink).  If you haven’t heard of a FMS, here is a little blurb from the internet:

“The SFMA is the movement based diagnostic system, designed to clinically assess 7 fundamental movement patterns in those with known musculoskeletal pain. The assessment provides an efficient method to systematically find the cause of symptoms, not just the source, by logically breaking down dysfunctional patterns and diagnosing their root cause as either a mobility problem or a stability/motor control problem.

This systematic process allows clinicians to clearly match their intervention to the main problem of the patient. This model efficiently integrates the concepts of altered motor control, the neurodevelopmental perspective, and regional interdependence into musculoskeletal practice.”

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The 7 exercises…

Here’s the thing… each exercise is worth 3 points for a total of 21 points.  This girl scored a 12… yep… a 12!  I knew that I’d have some trouble, but I was surprised at just how imbalanced I was.  The only exercises that I performed well on happened to be the Reaching and the Push-up.  I now have a plan from a trainer to work on these imbalances.  The plan includes some great stretching and core work as well as a variety of strength moves that use the TRX, tons of glute activation (bridges, step-ups, deadlifts), and general upper body strength builders (I can do 4 band assisted pull-ups.  Give me time and that band will go away!!!)  It’s been really motivating to see my weaknesses and know that each rep is getting me one step closer to being a better version of myself.  I’m 41 and if I want to run and be active for a long, long time, it’s best to take care of these imbalances before an injury keeps me down.  Been there… done that!

LEATHER |

Thanks for sticking around this far.  Spring items are starting to pop up and there is really  just one trend that I am really in love with.  Give me time and there will be more, but for now, I’m eyeing the Statement Heel.  Color and patterns are everywhere right now and adding a crazy heel is just one way to make an outfit POP!  Since my post is getting so long, check out Fashionista’s post on the spring shoe trends.  You will also note that sneakers are still in fashion… which is great considering it’s marathon time again.  In the meantime, I’ve been in love with the pop of color that a fun heel can add to the simple jeans and tee or the LBD.  These blue shoes all catch my eye, but if I had to choose one it’d be the Ruthie Davis’… did you see the spike on the end??? Sexy!

Until next time (and hopefully that next time isn’t 5 months later)… Happy Laps, Happy Lunges, and may your Leather be comfortable!

SeaWheeze Race Report

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would talk about how time flies?  As a kid, I had a completely different opinion.  Growing up in the country, the sunshine seemed to last forever and my siblings and I played outside all day long.  There were cornfields to get lost in, a pool for relieving the Midwest heat and humidity, and lightening bugs to be caught (and grotesquely made into jewelry or stored in a mason jar as the 80’s version of a DIY nightlight). But now… here I am writing a race recap for SeaWheeze weekend and starting another school year wondering where the heck the last year went.

The best part of SeaWheeze was that I made it safely to and from Vancouver without breaking my leg.   Yay!  Success.  I have nothing more to report.  Just kidding… besides the success of staying on my two feet, Lululemon did not disappoint at this year’s event.  Here’s the scoop…

This year, Michele and I decided that we would do an Air BnB instead of a hotel.  Last year, we only stayed for a night and this year we wanted to spend a little more time in Vancouver.  We looked into booking the Hyatt like last year, but through Air BnB, we were able to get two nights for slightly more than the one hotel night would have cost.  The place we stayed was in a beautiful, brand new building in the False Creek neighborhood.  There were plenty of restaurants and breweries nearby, a market, and the Skytrain was just a couple of blocks down the street.  There is a ton of construction going on right now so I can only imagine how much the cool factor is about to go up. The only sad thing about our place happened to be the lack of a coffee pot.  The Canadians are not in need of java as early as the Americans (I’m assuming) because we couldn’t find a coffee shop in the area that opened before 6 AM.  There was a McDonalds near so that was the coffee that provide the kick before the half.

Cute Air BnB... and the water pressure was tops!

Cute Air BnB… and the water pressure was tops!

After flying into Seattle to meet Michele, we rallied over the border to get to packet pick-up.  Last year, we got a later start and missed most of the party associated with PPU.  This year, we got there earlier, grabbed our packets which included our chips, a wristband to get into all events, a water bottle (much higher quality than the 2014 version), and a cute bag to use at bag check on race morning.  There was also a coupon for a free cup of coffee from JJBean.  The store was much better stocked than last year and I picked up some wild and crazy shorts as a sweet memento.

Check out the pre & post run swag…

As for the race itself I gotta hand it to SeaWheeze.  Like 2014, the whole event was incredibly organized with the fans cheering and volunteer support being  dynamite.  Because this race was my last long run before the marathon on August 23rd, my instructions were to run within the 7:49-8:19 zone.  The day before, Michele said I could drop to 7:39 if it was comfortable.  In the end, I averaged 7:35 for a time of 1:39:33 which felt really comfortable and controlled throughout.  However, at the finish line I thought, “Oh wow… I have to do twice that next week?!?!”

Like I mentioned earlier, this year we came to PARTY at the SeaWheeze Festival.  Now… when you reach your 40s, the word party loses some of it’s luster, but we did stay out until after midnight.  We’re hip… don’t be jealous!  The festival is in the gorgeous Stanley Park and once again, Team Lulu was really organized.  From the festival shuttles, to the music, to the wine and beer a blast was to be had.  We didn’t get to the festival as early as planned since we met some pretty interesting ladies at dinner and struck up a really fun… and did I mention interesting… conversation.  Long story short, when I am old, I want to put on my best clothes, bright lipstick, and toast the night away too.  Now, my sister just needs to move to California cause I’m not doing that on the farm.

Once again, I left this event knowing that I would be back for 2016.  The registration for SeaWheeze 2016 opens on September 16th.  Keep your eye on the site for more directions.  In the meantime, go get the fastest internet speeds money can buy because this one sold out in 33 minutes last year.  My fingers have been crossed since I left.

Did you run Seawheeze this year?  What did you think?

 

Catching Up….

In late June of 2014, I had big ambitions in regards to my blog.  Typically, I’m a pretty prompt person – Hello Virgo – but what can I say… life got complicated.  Each week, I had posts in mind but I just kept putting it off or would find some other task to tackle instead.  After a bit, I thought, “Ugh… I should just quit because it has been so long since my last post.”  However, I do enjoy sharing this and that with those that come to my classes, are seeking some run love, are daring enough to try a recipe that comes across this blog – let’s face it… my husband and I have differing opinions on food so I like when you all agree with me – and finally, is there ever enough input in the fashion or beauty department… never.  Now I am at a crossroads and have decided that it’s onward and upward.  The whole purpose of this post is to simply, catch up.  Here goes…

The Fitness Department:

In the Laps department, my mantra has been “Comeback, not setback.”  There really is great truth to that.  When I posted last, I had just been given the green light to start running again.  It. Was. Awful.  Seriously, running is hard!  But… it is a lifesaver.  Coming back from an injury and another health issue I was at one of the lowest points in both my emotional and physical state.  Running, while it was slow and painful gave me a sense that with each mile all would be okay.  It’s true.  The more I ran, the better it got and the better I felt. On the last day of January, I had hit the 6 mile mark (the doctors said I would be able to run three).  February was another setback month, but somehow, I finished the last day of the month with 7 miles.  And then in March… the fire was started.  For most of March, I just focused on running 5 days per week.  Just for the fun of it (and because it is put on by a super rad lady), I entered the She Is Beautiful 10k.  There wasn’t a race plan for this 10k, but I had high hopes to run under 8 minute pace.   Honestly… my Garmin didn’t track but a few miles at that pace since August so I thought it was a good place to start.   Somehow or another, I averaged a 7:03 pace.  I’d like to say I didn’t know where it came from, but that wouldn’t be true.  This is one of the first times that I ran with only my heart.  When I finished the run, I had tears in my eyes.  I knew that I was on my way back, but this time around, I vowed to not forget that running is fun, it makes me happy, and while healthy competition is to never be overlooked, letting the competitive balance tilt too much will make your running outlook suffer… a lot.

Check out the smile on the face of the cutie in the tutu!!!

Check out the smile on the face of the cutie in the tutu!!!

After SIB, I called my running coach and told her I was ready to train.  For what, I wasn’t completely sure, but I was ready to start doing something.  Between then and now, I paced my friend and coach, Michele, at the Miwok 100k (Ultra runners are BAD ASS), ran the Surfer’s Path Half Marathon for fun… in fact I was in such a fun zone that my friends and I started the race five minutes late cause I forgot my bib… really… who does that???

SCE after the Surfer's Path Half Marathon.  Photo courtesy of Nancy Z.

SCE after the Surfer’s Path Half Marathon. Photo courtesy of Nancy Z.

In June I ran the Tahoe Relays with Santa Cruz Endurance which leads me to the now.  I’d been increasing my mileage and as I had witnessed my paces dropping I started to toy with the idea of a marathon.  Some of my friends are going to Boston for the first time ever and I thought I might want to go for support.  Knowing Boston qualifiers last for two years, I figured my 2014 qualifier at Boston would get me into the 2016 Boston, but it doesn’t since the window is September to September.  So… I needed a BQ and have now set my sights on getting one at the Santa Rosa Marathon on August 23rd.  In Tahoe, I ran my leg of the relay and added on to get to 18 miles.  I told myself if I could run in the altitude – that far – with part of it at race effort – that I would sign up for the marathon… and I did.  Stayed tuned for the rest of the story…

The Home Department:

Since drifting away from the blog, I wish I could say that I’d been spending my time scouring cookbooks and reading food magazines cover to cover, but I have been super, duper lazy.  This is another reason that I wanted to get back to my blog.  I love discovering new recipes, trying them out and sharing them with others.  When life gets complicated, exerting extra effort for things like grocery shopping and cleaning up messes becomes even more daunting.  Thanks to some advice from my boss, I started to go to Dream Dinners. I have to say… it’s pretty awesome.  Check out their site for some details, and really, I promise I will write a post about it after the next time I go (which will be in September).  Over the course of the summer, I have really started to look at our diet and have started up the grill and have ventured into cookbook land once again.  I guess marathon training inspires one to eat some healthier meals.

Other than that, my husband and I have stayed busy with a trip to the Midwest for family fun, taking advantage of the beaches here at home, and discovering different places to eat around town.  We also got on an organizing kick and now have some pretty cleaned out closets.  In fact, I took my husband’s drill and with a little help from The Container Store, I have a new pantry.  Guess what’s in that new pantry?  Finally… I purchased emergency supply kits because my mother-in-law and mother frequently remind me that the whole West Coast is bound to be destroyed by an earthquake any day now.

With much uneasiness, my husband handed the drill over.  It's been 3 weeks and the shelves are still holding strong.

With much uneasiness, my husband handed the drill over. It’s been 3 weeks and the shelves are still holding strong.

The Fashion Department:

Do you remember that I said I was training for a marathon?  Right.  As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time in my running clothing.  Fortunately for me, Oiselle has had some super cute running attire and I now seem to have a pair of distance shorts for each day of the week.  It’s been a warm summer in Santa Cruz so I’m most often running with my sports bra.  Next weekend, I will be in Seattle and hope to go to the one and only Oiselle store.  I think this shirt would be an appropriate purchase.  Speaking of this company… I’ve been a superfan for a long time.  Recently, they opened up spots on their team and I (much to my surprise cause I was finishing up a 22 miler when the window opened) got a spot.  I’m pretty excited to get to know the other ladies of The Flock.  1,2,3 Oiselle Volée!!!

When I’m not wearing running gear, I’ve been obsessing over boyfriend jeans, tees and heels.  It’s been a pretty laid back summer style wise and I’m just now starting to feel like it’s time to add some fun to my fall wardrobe.  I sound like a broken record, but stay tuned…

Pretty much me every evening (and day) this summer.  Thanks asos for the picture.

Pretty much me every evening (and day) this summer. Thanks asos for the picture.

One thing that has changed my life however, is the Sarah Potempa Beachwaver.  Seriously… I have super thick and heavy hair so it best lends itself to a ponytail unless I have tons of product and endless time to attempt a style… that will last for maybe the walk to the car.  That is until this little curling iron caught my attention.  Seriously, I can curl my whole head into some sexy waves in about 15 minutes tops.  Even better, I can do so with very little product.  After getting out of the shower I put a bit of Kevin Murphy Smooth Again in my hair.  After it dries, I spray it with a bit of Style Sexy Hair 450 Headset and then I go to town with my curling iron. I’d like to take all the credit when I get compliments on my hair, but I can’t… this iron was a game changer.

Thanks for following along during this super long post.  I am really motivated to post away and not let the craziness of life keep me from taking time to do the things I enjoy.

Hoping your week is full of joy and the chance to do something extraordinary!

Saturday Snippets: The New Year, the Comeback & the Dress

The New Year:

Hello 2015!  You will be a GOOD year!  I haven’t been one to make a New Year’s resolution for quite some time.  My hat is off to those who do make them, because it is always a good thing have goals and improve.  For me, I like to think of the New Year as a time to do more:  more clean eating, more me time, more sunscreen, more personal bests, more books, etc.  The one thing I won’t do more of in 2015 though… breaking bones.  If I were to make a resolution, it would most certainly be that.  Here’s to hoping that we all have a 2015 full of all the things that make us feel happy and alive.

The 2015 Mantra...

The 2015 Mantra…

The Comeback:

The last time I blogged, I was just returning to my life as an athlete.  I wasn’t running by far, but the time in the gym was becoming a reality.  From October to the beginning of December I went to weekly physical therapy through Kaiser Permanente Hospital.  I was really fortunate to get a physical therapist that had an athletic background.  Often times, when PT is delivered in a general hospital/clinic setting it is more rehab based.  Of course, I needed the rehab, but the rehab I was looking for was not to return to normal everyday activities, I wanted to return to running.  My therapist knew this was my goal and said that I would be running starting January 1st.  Talk about a huge blow, but I told myself that I would come back smarter and stronger so I vowed to listen.  I did the weekly visits, made time to do the exercises, and for one of the first times in my PT history, I followed the rules.  Each week, I felt stronger, was able to walk longer, and the pain was getting less.  Things were looking up! And then…

On November 1st, our insurance changed.  This wasn’t really a huge deal as I chose the program that would make the most sense for our family.  I continued to go to PT and pay the extraordinary cost that counted towards our deductible.  Until… I got a letter from work saying that our insurance was going to change again.  All the money that I was paying towards my deductible would just start over on February 1st.  I figured that if I was having to pay and the deductible was no longer in my favor, that I would use that same money to see a PT that all my friends in the local running community raved about.  What did I have to lose?  It was going to cost the same, if not a bit less.

On December 9th, I had my first appointment with Dr. Jeff Moreno from Precision Physical Therapy and Fitness.  We chatted prior to the appointment and he asked that I come ready to run.  Say what?  The last time I had worn my running shoes was on August 26th… he wanted me to run?  Indeed he did, and indeed I did.  I arrived for my appointment terribly nervous…. Would running hurt? Would I fall? Would I suck wind so much that I’d be defeated in a minute?

We started with a few of the normal range of motion and strength tests.  Dr. Moreno then asked me to walk, skip, squat, balance on one leg and then RUN!  We did this for quite a while and just when I thought that session one was coming to a close, he put me on the treadmill.  I got to run, and I survived.  Dr. Moreno gave me some exercises to complete pre and post run and then he handed over just what I was looking forward to most… a Return to Running Program that spelled out in detail just how much running I could do.  He cautioned me to not get carried away, but to listen to my body.

With my plan in hand, I called my pal and running buddy Meg and said I had a green light to run.  She said she would be there for my first run and that she was.  The first run included a 1 minute run followed by a 1 minute walk repeated 8 times.  It was only 8 total minutes of running, but all 8 minutes were run with the biggest smile on my face.  Check it out…

Celebration picture after my first run...

Celebration picture after my first run…

Since then, I’ve moved along on the schedule and today I completed an 18 minute run, 2 minute walk, 12 minute run.  Of course, I’m not a speed demon by any means, but I’m running with purpose, better form, and an enormous amount of gratitude.  This year, I don’t plan to “race” a single race.  I’m going to enter a few of my favorite races as a participant and just do what Dr. Moreno says over and over… Enjoy the Process.

No speed records, but I am RUNNING!!!!

No speed records, but I am RUNNING!!!!

On December 30th, I had a follow-up appointment and I was officially DISCHARGED from PT.  My ankle is in good shape and with continued care and exercise, I will return to my former self… just better.

I can’t help but thank my husband, my family (especially my Mom), and all my friends that have been a part of this comeback.  I’m looking forward to logging the miles.  Thanks to my friend Elise, I have the perfect journal to connect with the process.

Awesome journal from an awesome pal...

Awesome journal from an awesome pal…

The Dress:

Fingers crossed that my husband misses this post because he hates it when I show off something that he has purchased for me.  I tell him it’s hard to not show something off when he has such amazing taste.  Enter the most recent addition to my dress collection:  The Alice and Olivia Checked Print Dress has been on his radar for a long while and it finally went on sale.  Lucky for me, it wound up in our house and was planned for a New Year’s Eve date.

The dress... H.O.T.

The dress… H.O.T.

Unfortunately, after lots of travel and feeling kind of lame… we nixed a hot date on NYE and settled for a nice dinner at home and a movie.  But… tonight is sexy date night and this little number is coming out.  First, I have a big decision to make.  What shoes?  These are the three that I have it narrowed down to.

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

While I’m back to running, I can’t say that I’m back to walking in heels without looking like a newborn deer.  While I am not looking like a super model when I walk, I don’t really care what other people think.  This new walk is my current personal best so I will rock on.  What heels would you pick?

That’s all for this week (and hopefully, I can find myself blogging more than the past two months).  As always, hoping your Saturday is full of joy and the chance to do something extraordinary! Enjoy!