22 January 2015

Trail Run Fever

About 2 weeks before Christmas I started running trails more often again and I'm happy to be back. Boy, how I had missed the dirt. It's amazing how much more inspired I feel by running on trails, being in the trees, and climbing to awesome views.

I've been joining people from Go Far Run Group for early morning Rancho San Antonio trails once a week for the last few weeks, and I'm hoping the habit will stick; getting up early is not my forte. It's dark at the start and the sunrise view as we climb is beautiful. We've been doing a 7 mile loop many people call the 'Tulip' thanks to its shape on the map. Someone commented on my run saying it looks more like a Venus Fly Trap, and I think she is right; that just doesn't have the same ring in my Strava activity title as 'Tuesday Tulip.' 

The Tulip Loop at Ranch San Antonio

This past long weekend I visited two new parks that were each fantastic in their own way. I went to UVAS Canyon in Morgan Hill, CA, with Go Far on Saturday to enjoy the little waterfalls and creek along the trails. I felt like we were in a rainforest.

 Little Falls in UVAS Canyon.

Bigger falls.

 Another waterfall that would be bigger with rain.

Hamming it up with Marcia's selfie stick! (Photo from Marcia)

Loving the moss covered rocks and trees.

On Monday, I climbed to the top of Windy Hill Open Space Preserve with Sophia and Laurel. It's about 1400 feet in 3 miles so it definitely feels like a climb, but the way back down is really fun and the view is worth it. We only took photos right at the top and not on the way up.

 Top of Windy Hill.


The plan is to hit Rancho again for Saturday's long run, and I'm looking forward to it. Next weekend we are heading to SoCal for the Surf City Half Marathon, and after that I may try to add in a couple of shorter trail races. 

Happy trails!

15 January 2015

Catching Up

I've been missing in action for a couple of weeks, and it's time to play catch up. Now that it's January and I'm back from travel I need to get back into a good rhythm with the blog.

Last week, I traveled to Ohio to visit family and to Pittsburgh, PA, for the wedding of my close friend, Gia. I'm incredibly excited and happy for Gia and Dave, and the wedding was beautiful! I was a bridesmaid and had a great time hanging out with the bridal party all day. I honestly thought I was going to lose it when Gia walked down the aisle, but I somehow managed not to cry (much). There is just something about a bride walking down the aisle that makes me cry, which is even worse when it's a close friend or family member. Here are a few photo highlights.

Bridal party on the way to the salon.

I loved having my hair done, and the stylist did a cool curl plus braid style.

Photo op with the bride.

 Wedding party bus selfie.

College friends at the reception.

My college girls the morning after (minus a couple who had headed out.) I miss them!

The wedding was conveniently near our families, so we spent time with both my parents and Kevin's family as well. Our nephew, Braxton, is getting so big and is as adorable as ever. 

It's been good to settle back into life and work the last couple of days, and the zero degree temperatures in Ohio were a good wake up call; I have to remember not to take the awesome weather we have here in the Bay Area for granted! I didn't run outside at all while I was home because the air was brutal. I went to my first track workout in ages last night, and today I enjoyed the 60 degree running weather and one of my favorite trails. 

Do you run outside in zero or sub-zero degree temps? How has 2015 been going so far?

31 December 2014

Happy 2015!

My race schedule for 2015 is already shaping up to be busy, and I'm excited to re-run some favorites and add new races to the list. My big goal for the year is to add track workouts back to my training and get back to the sub-2 hour half marathon time - maybe even a PR. My brain is still toying with the idea of a fall 50K if the hip flexor holds up to climbing, but we'll see how it goes. One thing at a time.

Here are the races I'm looking forward to in Spring 2015:

Surf City Half Marathon (Huntington Beach, CA) on February 1, 2015 - Kevin and I will be heading to SoCal for the weekend to enjoy this race along the ocean. I've had my eye on it since moving to California so I'm pumped to add it to the schedule.

Oakland Half Marathon (Oakland, CA) on March 22, 2015 - We've become attached to doing this race each year because it's logistically easy and we love the grassy area with beer and music at the finish. It's a smaller event too, making it lower key but well done. And as an added bonus, the half starts at 9:15 am so people can take Bart to the start line and avoid difficult parking situations.

SLO Half Marathon (San Luis Obispo, CA) on April 26, 2015 - It'll be my first time running this event and I'm an ambassador, so I'm excited to meet the rest of the ambassador community. I've heard only great things about the race and it's another one that has been on my list for a couple of years. I can't wait to run there, and this will also be my target half marathon PR race.

Eugene Half Marathon (Eugene, OR) on May 10, 2015 - Who doesn't love running in Tracktown USA? I had a blast at this one in 2013 and have been itching to go back. Combine the fun half course and finishing at Hayward with the great craft beer in the area, and you have the perfect long weekend.

Because this is also my last post of 2014, I'm throwing in photo highlights from the past year. Despite the hip injury and lack of running PRs, it's been fun and full of support from running friends new and old.

SFM Ambassadors Ninja Loop in January 2014.

Our college friend, Mike, ran his first half ever in Oakland.

SFM Ambassador Team 'AfterNUUN Run' at Ragnar SoCal in April.

My only PR of the year, but I'll take it! 10K PR at the Mermaid Run Easy Bay with Natalie.

Me, Kev, and Derek at Surfer's Path. Kev ran his marathon PR, I ran my first half post-injury.

Meeting Kara Goucher! And cheering at Payton Jordan.

Crewing for rockstar Matt at Western States.

The action shot, crew, Matt and pacer Ruben at Foresthill.

Dinner with Bart Yasso and SFM Ambassador friends during race weekend.

Another fun Ragnar NWP weekend with Oiselle Team ladies.

Bird Camp in Bend, OR, the happiest place on earth.

Ragnar Napa with an awesome group, probably my fave photo of the year!

And last but not least...

Running NYCM for Every Mother Counts. Easily my fave marathon so far.

That closes out 2014. Bring on 2015, I'm ready! What are your big plans?

24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

December has been a whirlwind of long work hours, Christmas preparation, and holiday parties - and it's been a blast. Even though work was very stressful, it's fun to see it all pay off when projects and promotions launch. And now that it's Christmas Eve, I have some serious time off to relax!

This month kicked off with my work holiday party held on the USS Hornet in Alameda. It was a 1940s themed party on a World War II ship, and I have to say it was one of the best holiday parties I've attended. They had a scotch tasting bar on the upper deck so we could enjoy the cool evening air and views of SF across the bay, and Tainted Love (my fave 80s cover band) had us dancing the night away.

 Enjoying scotch.

Navigating the ship.

My attempt at a 'half moon manicure' for 1940s style.

The next weekend we visited our friends Sarah and Paul for a holiday party at their house. We had great wine (Paul is in the wine business after all), appetizers and cookies. 

Sarah and I by her beautiful Christmas tree.

The cats have naturally been enjoying the Christmas decorations and the tree, which they love to sit under and climb. Willow made it to the top very quickly this week - she wins the award for highest tree climber of any cat we've had! Sadly I wasn't fast enough to get the photo.

 Willow enjoying the tree.

 She also loves the Christmas card basket.

 Akai loving the tree.

And of course, he climbs it too.

We hit the slopes at Northstar for some early season skiing last weekend and it was surprisingly good on Saturday. They had enough snow to form soft moguls on the Backside ungroomed runs, so it was a nice leg burner. The groomed blues were primed for good cruising too. It was pretty crowded, but all in all a fun and relaxing weekend in Tahoe.

 Pretty snowy trees at the top of East Ridge.

Yay snow! Top of West Ridge.

Yesterday I joined the Go Far group for a morning trail run at Rancho San Antonio and I'm so glad I did. I'm lame about getting up early and meeting groups; that may be my New Year's resolution for 2015.  

Go Far group at the top of Upper Rogue Valley trail. (Photo from Shauna)

It's hard to believe the end of 2014 is here, but it is. I'm looking forward to more snow in Tahoe (fingers crossed) and more trail running in 2015. 

Merry Christmas!

11 December 2014

My Christmas List

It's a gift giving time of year, the perfect time to ask for the items you love but don't necessarily need. Or, good timing to hope for things you need but don't want to buy yourself. My wishlist includes some running gear and some (gasp!) non-running gear that I'd love to check out.

1. BetaBrand Sweaters

A few of my coworkers rave about BetaBrand, a San Francisco company that makes fun clothing. I'm currently obsessed with the Cumulus Wrap Sweater and the Seafoam Cowlneck Tunic. Both are super cute, stylish, and have thumbholes. Please send these my way Santa!

Cumulus Wrap Sweater (image from BetaBrand.com) 

Seafoam Cowlneck Tunic (image from BetaBrand.com)

2. Hoka One One Clifton 

I still LOVE the Clifton and will be needing another pair as I train for my goal half marathon at SLO in April. Even better? They just launched new colors! I'm coveting the crazy looking Acid / Aqua / Neon Coral version.

New Clifton Color (image from HokaOneOne.com)

3. Oiselle Katron Pullover

The Katron Pullover keeps coming to mind even though I know I don't need a down jacket. I have a jacket I wear in Tahoe, and it doesn't get that cold here. Still, there is something about the style and uniqueness that gets me. Hint, Hint to Kevin...

Pullover (image from oiselle.com)

4. A New Headlamp

Ok, this WAS on my list but I ended up buying this for myself recently because I lost my old headlamp. I'm adding it anyway because I really like the one I chose! I bought the Petzl Tikka+ at Sports Basement for about $35, which seems very reasonable. It's plenty bright even on the lower settings, and it can go up to 140 lumens max. I love the soft sweat-wicking band that sits on the forehead and it's easy to adjust. 

Petzl Tikka+ (image from petzl.com)

That's all I have for now. What's on your list? Anything I need?

05 December 2014

Turkey Trotting and Eating

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the opportunity to race on a Thursday morning. It's the only time I ever race on a non-weekend day and it feels good to run before I indulge in Thanksgiving food and drink. This year was my fourth Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K which is hard to believe; that means we've been in California for four Thanksgivings!

By this point, I'm very familiar with this race course and the crowds that go with it. Luckily, we live within walking distance of the start so we don't have to deal with parking. This year there were almost 21,000 people who ran either the 5K or 10K. Isn't that crazy?

Kevin and I left the house around 7:10 am for the 7:50 am start and made it in time to cheer for the elite men's start. I attempted to get into the 8-9 minute pace corral but failed in the crowd, and I ended up starting one corral earlier. I am not a 6-7 minute miler, clearly, but even that corral started around a 9:30 minute/mile pace so I wasn't blocking anyone. That said, I feel bad for the people who really do run that fast because they would not have gotten through. If you ever run this one and you are fast, get as far to the front as you can. 

For once, I treated the Turkey Trot like a race and tried to push myself. I had a mental struggle early on, as I always seem to when racing in San Jose, but I was able to keep going. I can't explain it, but racing in San Jose always seems hard to me. Maybe because I run similar routes here so often? 

By the time we hit mile 4 on the Alameda I was really feeling it and let myself be entertained by everyone around me. I focused on moving forward, not letting myself give up, and passing people one by one. Knowing the course and the turns was really helpful at this point because I could move toward the next turn when needed. (This course has many turns!) I wasn't moving fast enough for a PR pace, but I was happy with the effort considering I had felt slow during marathon training.

We came upon the finish line fast and it wasn't visible, so I didn't really get a chance for the extra kick at the end. I was happy with the effort for the day and the finish of 57:05. That's a course PR for me, and considering I always struggle on this course, I'll take it!

Oh, and they gave us free photos sponsored by TomTom. Pretty awesome!


Kevin sporting vintage Turkey Trot apparel.

After the finish line they directed us down the street and then into the nearby park for goodies. They have significantly improved this over the years - the first year I couldn't even get to the finish line because it was too crowded and had to slowly walk the last 0.1 miles of the race. No problems like that in the past couple of years though. 

The first thing we received in the park was a medal because it was the 10 year anniversary of the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Pretty cool! They had tents with food and drinks in the park too. We hung out for a bit, said hello to many friends who were also running, and then walked the Guadalupe River Trail back toward our place.

Post-race in our courtyard. 

Showing off the bling.

Race shirts.

The rest of the day was spent resting, cooking, and hanging out with friends. I cooked Thanksgiving for two at our house for Kevin and I, which was really fun. I especially enjoyed making (ok, eating) my favorite broccoli casserole, a recipe from Kevin's mom. We opened a favorite wine from Casa Nuestra and had fun spending time together.


After dinner, we went to have dessert with friends. We took cheesecake, they had ice cream and pecan pie - yum. We watched Sleeping Beauty with the kids, and then we headed home because Kevin had to work on Friday. 

While he went to work, I went biking with a friend in Woodside. Friday was a fantastic, sunny day; it turned out to be the last day before the rain set in so I'm glad we took advantage of it. 

One of many awesome biking views in the Bay Area.

The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful but did include putting up the Christmas tree. How is it almost Christmas already? It's crazy how fast time goes. 

Cheers to the holiday season!