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She. Is. Beautiful Guest Blogger

Among friends, I have a reputation for being that girl with random information that may (and sometimes may not) be helpful.  Since childhood, I’ve had a big love of reading and I’m not particular about what I pick up… there’s fiction and non-fiction, magazines, blogs, fliers posted around the community, newspapers, links on FB and so many places on the internet my husband often tells me that I need a tech timeout.  Between the reading and my love of wine, fitness, shopping, dining out, travel and not being afraid to try something new I add to my collection of random information.  The amazing ladies of She. Is. Beautiful. have been recipients of my bank of random tips and ideas for the last few years.  As a result, they wondered if I would be interested in contributing some of my favorite things and ideas to their blog.  “OF COURSE!!!” was the answer that I came up with in about .000001 seconds.  I have been a fan of She. Is. Beautiful. since the beginning, and with trial and error and super creative minds, SIB has just gotten cooler and cooler, and just when you think they can’t possibly get any cooler… they do.  Having the opportunity to be a part of the SIB movement in the smallest of ways makes me feel truly honored.  Therefore, without further adieu, here is my very first post on the SIB blog.  Check it out… and then when you are done checking it out, please check out the rest of the site… and then sign up for the races in Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara.  You won’t be sorry.  That I can promise.

Things We Love:  First Taste of Fall

 

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Birthday Month Intentions

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Way back in the day, I celebrated a birthday week.  That was it… one measly week.  Then, I moved to another town and met Mary Ann who was much, much wiser than I.  She celebrated her birthday for an entire month.  You read that right… an entire month.  It just so happens that her birthday is in September so she was my mentor during my first ever birthday month.  And… since the year 2001 I have celebrated the birthday month.  In the beginning, the month-long celebration involved extra glasses of wine and many, many sweets, but it’s different now…  I know my close friends just rolled their eyes a bit.  I admit… I still have extra glasses of wine and likely an abundance of treats, but since The Birthday Bust of 2014, my birthday month has taken on a bit of a different tone.

The Birthday Bust:  2014 was the year that I had the biggest of celebrations planned during the month since I was turning 40.  There were fun runs, trips to Vegas and Mexico, new heels and so much more… and then I fell and severely broke my leg.  It’s okay now since I learned many valuable lessons from that experience, but at the time, I made Debbie Downer look happy.

Sometimes, the best lessons are learned by being forced to slow down and appreciate what is right in front of you.  While there were buckets of tears during September 2014, there were many moments that friends that had been MIA came around for visits, Adam waited on me hand and foot, I had a week of laughing, chilling and watching movies with just my mom (and she too waited on me hand in foot… it was kind of a competition between the mother-in-law and husband.  They tied… both were amazing), and on the most special day of the month… September 15th, my husband planned the most beautiful surprise party. (Moment of gushing… there are times that Adam jokes that he can’t believe I married him, but I can’t even count the times I’ve fallen in love with him all over again… this was one of those nights.)  What I learned to appreciate was time… time spent relaxing, time spent with family and friends, and time spent remembering.  

Birthdays are kind of like the new year, but better.  During the birthday month, you get the chance to set some goals or intentions for yourself during the coming year.  In January, everyone is setting a goal often related to weight loss or health… I will lose X amount of pounds. – I will quit smoking. – I will exercise every day.  –  I will only cook healthy meals. – etc.  The chances are, a hundred other people will have the same goals and then when everyone quits, there is camaraderie in quitting.  Birthday goals are better, because it’s a time when you can look at where you are and where you’d like to go.  So… here are mine:

Birthday MONTH Intentions:

  • Time – I love a good gift, but I’m more up for the gift of time – time sharing a meal, cup of coffee, run chat, etc.  The birthday month will include more of this.
  • Send More Fan Mail – I’m a total fan of snail mail.  A couple year’s back I made a chart of people’s birthday (thank you Facebook) and sent birthday cards to those I had addresses for.  I also like to send “just because” cards.  I need to do that again.  I fell off the wagon.
  • Plan the Fall Favorite Things Party – This is a bit of a gift to myself.  While the party won’t happen until October, planning it makes for great excitement in my life. Curious?  Blog post follow-up will come later.
  • Keep on Rocking my Health Plan – After a summer of overindulging, I followed the guidelines of Whole 30 to reset my body.  I’ve completely kicked my crappy carb and sugar addiction.  While wine was hard, I’ve been okay without it.  It’s my birthday month, and don’t get me wrong… I will celebrate, but I’m going to use better judgement.  
  • Run with ♥ – After some debate over summer, I decided not to run a fall marathon.  Then I planned to run a half marathon… but decided against it.  My work/life balance was struggling after a tough start to the school year.  One thing I learned, and learned well, from The Birthday Bust is that I GET to run… I don’t HAVE to run.  If I’m forcing myself into a run and compromising the enjoyment then there’s a problem.  So… I’m off to 5k and 10k land and since they are shorter (but not always sweeter) I’m going to run with my heart and if I explode… well… there will be always be another… but the first chance of explosion is September 9th.

Birthday YEAR Intentions:

  • Let It Go – Remember… we can’t control others and we are not tacos… there’s no pleasing everyone.  After learning this throughout the last year, I’m holding it close to my heart this year.
  • Fan Mail – Keep it up.
  • Sunscreen – Keep wearing it.
  • Run With ♥ – While the Fall marathon is out… there will be a spring one with the “A” goal of a big ol’ PR.
  • Home Stuff – Simplify… declutter, cook easy meals, host more dinner parties… again… time is a theme.
  • Relationships – Time…. keep making time for them.  Adam also has some requests, but this is a PG blog ;o)

So… now you know where I’m headed in the short-term and in the long-term.  Ask how the ride is going cause it will hold me accountable, and also, it means we are using the gift on time.

Happy Birthday Month to Me… and you!  Whatever month you were lucky enough to claim is a great month to set some goals.  What do you say?

Welcome to Turks and Caicos

When those Facebook memories pop up each day on your FB page, there are days that you skim through and laugh or take a moment to remember an event fondly (and let’s face it… most of what we put on social media is the good stuff anyway).  Sometimes, we might see something that makes us sad and there are other times that a picture or memory will come up and it stops you in your tracks.  On Wednesday, August 23rd I had one of those days.  This picture popped up and I can’t get it out of my mind.

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This picture is from the Santa Rosa Marathon in 2015.  I had a PR at this race.  There was beer at the finish line.  The weather was perfect.  I was among friends.  This is where our lives on FB can appear to be far different than what the reality happens to be.  The reality is that I was not supposed to be running a marathon that day.  I had planned to participate in a different type of marathon.  I had planned to become a mother on August 23, 2015, but instead I found myself running through grief and that grief led to this day.

My husband often teases me that I am too much of a planner.  What did he expect?  He married a Virgo.  One of his favorite stories from our college days occurred on the day that he asked me what if my plan to get married to my college boyfriend, teach in a small community and have the white picket fence with a couple of kids didn’t work out.  As usual, I rolled my eyes at him and assured him it would go as planned.  Fortunately for him, and for me, that plan turned out quite differently.  I didn’t marry that college boyfriend after all.  I married that same man that teased me so many years prior – the yin to my yang.  I don’t teach in a small community and I certainly don’t have a white picket fence (in fact… we have an old redwood fence that needs removed… please refer someone to do the job in comments ;o), but I still wanted children.  Adam was on board for having a kid and he was realistic that with my history of a pituitary tumor that it wouldn’t be easy.  He reassured me that if it didn’t work out that we would be okay.  After years of never not trying, we finally caved and walked through the doors of a fertility clinic.  It eventually worked and we braced ourselves for this crazy life of raising a child.  Plans were made.

And then… those plans changed.  When we left the doctor’s office, she looked at us with the kindest eyes and told us that she would tell the fertility clinic we would be coming back.  Except, we weren’t sure.  We decided to take a couple of months to process what had just happened.  I also started running and running and running a little bit longer until I noted that the date of the Santa Rosa Marathon lined up with our due date.  Running a marathon on this date was my planned closure.  The marathon itself was physically easy.  My running tank was still awfully full when I crossed the finish line, but my emotional tank was drained.  At one point during the marathon I completely broke down in ugly tears and sobs that took my breath away.  To get a bit of a grip, I asked the man running next to me if he would just talk to me.  Bless his heart… he had no idea what he was getting into, but he heard my whole story and he knew just what to say.  Finally, the tears dried up and he informed me that he couldn’t keep pace but that I was going to be okay.  When I crossed the finish line, I really thought I would be okay.  There was closure.  Except there wasn’t.

As a special education teacher, I’ve loved a poem that has been around for years.  The name of the poem is Welcome to Holland.  You can read it here, but if you want the cliff notes version, here you go… The author, Emily Perl Kingsley, is the parent of a child with special needs.  She is asked what it is like to be the parent of a child with special needs.  In the poem she discloses that it is like planning a wonderful dream vacation to Italy, except when the plane lands, you are not in Italy.  Instead, the plane has landed in Holland and it is here you must stay.  There is an incredible array of emotions when you don’t get what you had expected, but over time, you realize that Holland isn’t so bad after all.  In Holland, you can have a beautiful life, but you will always wonder what it would be like in Italy.

Looking back at the picture from Santa Rosa, I see a smile on my face, but I’m very aware of my fake smile and that would be it… even my eyes are sad.  Crossing the finish line did not solve all my problems.  My grief didn’t just disappear.  The plan wasn’t working and I didn’t have another plan.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a guidebook for heartbreak.  Trust me… I looked… and looked… and looked.  I also pretended to be okay.  I was sad that we had lost something that was so hard to get in the first place, but I was even more sad that in my heart I knew that I would never step through the door of a fertility clinic again.  That’s when I learned that there also isn’t a guidebook for mourning the dream of motherhood.  Unexpectedly, this ended up being much harder than miscarriage. As a result, I continued to pretend that all was well when it wasn’t.

Eventually, I found myself  in such a hole that the people and things I held so close to my heart were suffering because of my grief.   My new plan to cope was to reach out for help, even from the scariest or most unexpected places, and to surround myself with people that would celebrate the journey I was on… cause it was not always going to be fun.  Unfortunately, infertility and miscarriage are things that people don’t want to acknowledge.  I get it… it’s sad and uncomfortable, and it’s hard to find the right thing to say.  It’s much easier to pretend that there isn’t a white elephant in the room.  The people that shared in my journey back to health were the one’s that simply asked, “How are you doing?” and then… they listened.  I felt seen, heard, valued and safe… never judged.

“People who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witness. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpful vigil to our pain.” -Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

So two years later, FB reminds me of where I was and now I see where I’ve landed.  It’s just like the poem… I had planned to go to Italy.  There would be such wonderful and chaotic experiences in Italy.  That kind of travel would be exhausting, expensive, fun, adventurous, and so much more.  Except, my plane landed in Turks and Caicos instead.  (Side note… not long ago we had a small dinner party and out of the three couples seated around our table, 100% have ridden, or are still riding, the fertility struggle bus. We decided that if the bus eventually stopped for all of us, we would meet up in Turks and Caicos.) So here I am, landing in Turks and Caicos.  It doesn’t mean that I sometimes don’t long for Italy, but in my new destination I have learned that life can be just as wonderful.  There are times that friends comment on the lifestyle Adam and I live… naps, sexy dinners out, gifts just because, travel, and more naps, and we sometimes wonder if they would like to be in Turks and Caicos too.  It’s only natural to yearn for what we’ve lost, whether it’s the loss of the reality that you’ll never step on a lego or the loss of getting to go to the restroom uninterrupted, there is always beauty in the darkest cracks of this tough thing called life.  When things get tough and ugly and uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to seek out those that are willing to celebrate the journey you’re on… and if they’re along for the ride, they may have already reached out.   If they’re not then move on… you’re not the problem… you’re not a taco… not everyone will like you. Not everyone will truly understand, and that’s okay too… the right people will.

“People in the real world say, when something terrible happens, that the sadness and loss and aching pain of the heart will ‘lessen as time passes,” but it isn’t true.  Sorrow and loss are constant, but if we all had to go through our whole lives carrying them the whole time, we wouldn’t be able to stand it.  The sadness would paralyze us.  So in the end, we just pack it into bags and find somewhere to leave it.” Fredrik Backman, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected place?  What beauty did you uncover in your new destination?  If you haven’t found beauty in the new place yet, you will.  Take your time, seek help, surround yourself with those that matter, and most importantly, be nice to yourself.

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:

LAPS |

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!