Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Pictures -- 2012


These year-in-review picture posts I'm seeing everywhere are pretty fun, and I'm not one to be left out!  :)

January

I moved from Sacramento to a small town outside Bakersfield at the very end of 2011, January was all about settling into my new surroundings...
Running trails to explore...

With unpacking I learned that I have a problem with buying ALL THE HYDRATION SYSTEMS... and I don't like use any of them.



February

By time February had rolled around I had found a job and was feeling more at home than I had in MONTHS.  For Valentine's Day I was surprised with home cooked lobster tail and flowers. :)



 March

March flew by without much thought... although I did win a local 10K trail race... ;)



April

Santa came in April, as well as warm temps for Easter and a beautiful day in San Francisco...
Totally worth the wait.... She's so pretty!
Sequins AND pastel for Easter...
You couldn't ask for a more perfect spring day in San Fan... From my favorite little park in The City.

 May

For my birthday I got myself a fun new toy to go with the bike Santa brought me the month before.... ;)



June

Since Vineman 70.3 was really right around the corner I did a lot of training in June... with tan lines to show for it.. ;)

July

You may or may not know I ROCKED Vineman 70.3 for the second year in a row and seriously enjoyed myself along the way... and the recovery that followed.  ;)

Athlete wrist band.
Finish-line.  Still standing...
I  may or may not have indulged post-race...
And there was certainly some kicking back being done. :)

August

I did some post-race/vacation detox in August... Also went and had a heart to heart with my grandmother about things that were beginning to worry me...


I love my juicer...
Its weird to me that I would have never talked to her in life about these things, but now I find comfort in talking things out at her graveside...

September

I decided to take a leap of faith and register for this little thing called an Ironman...


October

I moved to the Silicon Valley while watching my SF Giants take it all the way to the World Series (and win it in STYLE) and then I went on a little drive... to Arkansas. 

Hold on to that feelin.....
Repping my Boys in Orange in LA Dodger country. ;)
Miracles happen...
My stowaways for the trip to Arkansas... Not great co-pilots when one is deaf, another is blind, and the third is deaf and blind... :)

November

When I got back from Arkansas I hadn't had enough time in the car, so I drove to Oregon... and then came back to the Bay Area, sat on the beach, and thought....

No better place to contemplate life...
December

I loved Oregon so much my first trip up I went up again to see if it was just a fluke.  Did more trail running and went up to the snow and tried to get a peak at Mt. Hood... Then Christmas...

I really love running in Portland.. Hope more of it is in my future...
Mt. Hood is supposed to be somewhere "out there."  It was a beautiful day regardless...
More trail running (I am beginning to notice a pattern) and then Christmas mimosas...

2012 hasn't been without its challenges and ups and downs, but overall I am thankful for the past year and all the growing I have done.

May you all have wonderful New Years celebrations (stay safe!!) and wishing everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Cheers to 2013, may it be everyone's best year yet.

Sweat.  Smile.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tales from 2012: The (Sort of) Year Wrap-Up

Now that we are down to the final week of 2012 its easy to look back over the last year and contemplate.  2012 marks a year of big changes in my life outside of training, racing, running, triathlon, etc.  I've moved a couple times, had a relationship end, changed jobs (twice)... I've made the decision to go back to school (though actually going back will not happen until 2013) and gained some clarity about what I might want to do when I grow up. ;)  To sum up 2012 is nearly impossible because there are small details which have had great importance and influence along the way, but have likely been lost, forgotten, or gone unnoticed and wouldn't paint a full picture. 

BUT....

If I were going recap training, triathlon.... the #1 thing I would say is...

I HAVE MANAGED THE CHAOS.


Training consistently and making gains is hard work that takes time and dedication when life is running smoothly.  When life isn't running so smoothly training can sometimes take a backseat to all the other stuff.  Work, play, social life (what's that?), fights, the need to spend the day in bed just because.... they all pull you in a different direction, demanding your time and attention, and I think I've done a great job of managing it all.  I've made some great gains this year even with all the other "stuff" going on.

Melissa over at MelissaRuns.com posted a great "Best of" type blog that I'm going to steal.  It's important to remember the highs which seem to be often overshadowed by the lows.  The highs often are what keep us going.

1. Best Race Experience: Though I don't do a lot of racing, easily my best race experience of ALL TIME was Vineman 70.3.  If you haven't read my recap, I'll spoil the suspense... beyond my 68 minute PR, I learned so much about myself as a racer this year at Vineman 70.3.  I am not content in showing up at the start line and simply "making my way" to the finish line.  I want to RACE.  I want to compete.  It was a great set-up for racing in 2013.

2. Best Training:  I'm changing up the wording because... well... I don't just run.  And it's my blog.  :-p  Both the ride and run that come to mind I had the opportunity to do with other people.  Most of the time I am the "lone wolf" in training and I don't really mind it, but from time to time its nice to mix things up and have some company.  This ride was the finale to my Vineman 70.3 training and in hindsight couldn't have been a more perfect way to set me up for taper on such high spirits.

Great group of ladies to keep me company...
The majority of the traffic we encountered was of the 4-legged type.  COWS!
Ride took us through one of the older oil fields in the Bakersfield.  Bowing oil pumps.

The other that comes to mind was a run with a friend on a recent trip to Oregon.  I have recently fallen in love with Oregon and have SO ENJOYED running there (more to come on this later).  It was a short but got-my-ass-handed-to-me kind of run in which I tried to keep up with my faster guy friend sending me into tachycardia over a few miles of trails that never offered a lick of flat.  It rained, we ran, and then we polished off the better part of a chicken, pineapple, and jalapeno pizza after (as he said to me... don't judge until you've tried it).  :)

A little paved trail to start...

Even the bridges weren't level...

I could run here everyday and not be upset.
3.  Best Piece of New Gear:  This would have to be my new Brooks Pure Cadences.  Simply put... I LOVE THESE SHOES.  I recently picked up a pair of Pure Flows to do my shorter transition runs in, but the Cadences are the bread and butter for my feet.  A new pair of the Pure Cadence2 are in my future.  :)

4.  Best Piece of Training Advice I've Received:  Having a coach has been the best thing I have done for my training (have I said this before?).  Right before Vineman in two separate emails my coach said the following:

The work is done... Bring it on home!

For me its a great reminder that preparing for a race/event/life is not about one single workout (day at work/class/homework assignment/night on the town/etc) but instead it is about doing all the necessary work over time to be ready.  One bad/missed/cut short workout?  Not a problem as long as it doesn't become the norm.

5.  Most Inspiring Athletes:  There is absolutely no way I could pick a single athlete or even a short list of athlete's for this one.  Simply... I love athletes.  I don't care if you are doing 4:00m/m or 14:00m/m, being an athlete and giving it your all and consistently finding new limits for yourself is amazing. *BUT*  if I were going to make a list it would be as follows:
  • Felog Family - If you are reading this and know what it means... yes, I do mean you.  Badass athletes and amazingly supportive (and gangsta Hosscake leader).  I'm thankful to be a part of the group.  I likely wouldn't be registered for IMCdA if it weren't for your inspiration... remember that in a few months when training isn't as "flexible" as it currently is and I'm cursing you.  ;)
  • The HC - Again, if you are reading this and this means something to you... I MEAN EVERY ONE OF YOU.  :)  We all have our struggles, life's ups and downs, going in a million different directions... and you're still kicking ass and doing awesome things.  :)
6. If you could sum up your year in a few words, what would they be?
Consistent.  Overcoming.  Growth.  Change.

2013 has so much promise.  It will be a year of more change, more growth, more tears and uncertainty and likely another move.  There will also be joy and smiles, giggles and laughter, the start line of my first Ironman, and who knows, maybe new love.  IT WILL BE WHATEVER I MAKE OF IT.  Bring it on 2013, I am ready for what you've got. :)

Smile.  Sweat.  Enjoy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What drives you to the wagon?

Of the women I know, nearly all are either on the wagon, trying to get back on the wagon, or actively trying to maintain so as to not need to worry so much about the weight loss wagon.  That is a lot of women concerned with the number on the scale going up or down... and that small numeric detail oftentimes has an enormous effect on our moods, motivation, and even our happiness.

But what drives us to lose weight?

Is it for health?

The media?

A boyfriend? Girlfriend? Spouse?  Mother?  Father?  Grandparent?

Is it to look "good" naked?

I recently had a conversation with a good old (guy) friend after I shared a recent picture of myself with him, and in response he asked me to go eat a cheesecake.  LOL!  This man (and bless his heart) is a BIG FAN of curves on a woman.  And he feels like I'm losing mine.  *light bulb* the definition of looking "good" naked is much like the saying -- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
As the conversation continued I realized, and shared as much, that for the first time in my life.... I am not primarily working at losing weight for vanity reasons.  I don't care what a boy or my mom or the media might say... I look in the mirror and do more praise than criticism.  I comfortably wear a (typically) medium tee and size 28 Lucky Brand jeans (and fill them out quite nicely I might add) without wishing for a smaller size or a better fit or an idealized body that I may never realistically achieve.

But I am still on the weight loss wagon.....  Why you might ask?  Because my drive is athletic ambition.  I have dreams (whether I scream them from the rooftops or keep them quietly to myself) of making a run at qualifying for Kona one day.  Achieving a Boston Qualifying marathon time.  Running an ultramarathon and qualifying for the Western States Endurance Run.  I may find that I am not physically capable of achieving some or any of these goals.... but carrying around extra weight while trying to do so will only make it less likely.  As I see it, from my "ideal" racing weight to today's weight it's like I do all my training carrying a minimum 10 pound backpack.  All.  The.  Time.

The best part about not being on the weight loss wagon for vanity reasons...? I really have learned over the years to love myself.  Scale goes up, scale goes down, it has little impact on how my day is going to go -- truth be told, I have hopped on the scale the morning after pizza or Chinese food or Mexican (read: Salt Heaven) just to see HOW MUCH water weight I've managed to gain overnight.  I smile, I chuckle, and the move on with my day.

I've come to realize that the number on the scale has nothing to do with my intelligence, my sense of humor, my witty commentary, or my love for my friends and family.  I am not worth more as I weigh less.  I take pride in my training, the time and hard work I put into it, and the goal has nothing to do with the scale and everything to do with those dreams listed above.  I can only start from where I am today (like preparing for my first Ironman or planning my first marathon or thinking about my first ultra).

So, what drives you to the wagon?  Does it build you up or tear you down?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tales from Training: My Essential Rain Running Gear

Whether you like to admit or not, winter is upon us and that means a change in training wardrobe for many (most? all?) of us.  Recently here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have had heavy (meh) rain (yay!) and wind (meh). 

Rain running is quite possibly one of my all time favorite kinds of running.  Now understand that I am not talking about 30+mph sustained winds and rainfall averages totaling more than 2" in a 24hr period like those who did the California International Marathon today experienced (can you say BAMF-ers??) but give me light to moderate rain with similar winds and I am one happy runner.

That said, I have 5 pieces of gear that make rain running so enjoyable and are essential to any runner looking to escape the dreadmill simply because it's gone a bit grey outside.

#5 - Lightweight rain resistant or rain proof jacket/shell or vest.  Just because it rains doesn't mean its going to be cold, so something lightweight is highly versatile and can be layered if extra warmth is necessary.  Currently I'm a fan of this Brooks Nighttime Essentials Run Jacket II, Brooks Nighttime Essentials Run Vest II, or Asics Reflector Jacket as they all have the added safety of keeping you visible in the short days of winter with reflective technology built right in.

Books Nighttime Essentials Run Jacket II
#4 - I could easily leave this with two words: Smartwool Baselayers.  Wool and wool blends are breathable, warm even when wet, and are available in a variety of weights/thicknesses so that you can find something that works if you consider cold 60* or 10*.  Often I forgo the rain jacket all together during warmer rain runs and just stick to my wool run gear.

 #3 - Here again Smartwool is a winner in my book.  Same as with the baselayers, wool and wool blend socks are breathable, stay warm even when wet, and are all around super comfy.  I wear these Hincapie Socks anytime I'm out in bad weather as casual socks simply because they are so darn cozy.  My feel love them.

#2 - Brimmed hat or visor to keep the rain out of my face.  Rain only seems to bother me if its directly hitting my face or getting into my eyes and a hat is the most simple solution to this problem.  I wear the same hats year around to keep the sun or rain out of my eyes.  ;)


#1 - The right attitude and sense of adventure.  To me, rain running is a privilege.  When bad weather has driven the average person indoors and/or to the gym it leaves me (you) to have the paths, trails, and sidewalks to ourselves.  Your pace might slow, you might have to dodge around some debris, but treat it as a obstacle course or agility test, not as a hindrance.  As a kid you likely would have given anything for the "green light" to go run through the puddles and leap over the river that has formed in the gutter, now is your chance to seize it.  You may come home dirtier than typical, dripping wet, and with a pace on your Garmin you are unhappy with, but it has been my experience that if you go into a rain run with a thankful heart, you come home with muddy legs but a light heart and little worry to what the Garmin says at all. 

So next time the radar looks like this:


Just prepare to come home like this:

 And you won't regret it. :)

Are there any rain running essentials you'd add to my list?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tales from Living: The BEST is yet to come..

I have a friend who lives with amazing amounts of passion.  Ok, I actually have several friends who live with life with a large amounts of passion, but when I think of passionate people...

I have one friend who comes to mind.  Every. Time. 

He cries at weddings of those he loves and when his beloved San Francisco Giants win the World Series (both times).  He will drive the long way around because it is the more beautiful drive.  He's taken the road less traveled professionally and his passion has shown through in his success. 

I think his kind of passion is amazing.  And in return, he thinks my passion for triathlon and training is equally amazing. 

Go figure.

So here's what I know...

And things will fall into place. 

The past month has not been without its bumps in the road, but I'm striving to be true to what I love.  Health, wellness, triathlon, friends, family, beauty...

And the road less traveled.
 
The best is yet to come, and I'm excited to see what happens next.  :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tales from Living: Changes and Transition

I've moved.

I drove to Arkansas and back in 7 days (1800+ miles each way).

3 day later I decided to drive to Portland (650+ miles each way).

I've quit my old job and found a new job.

I haven't been in the pool in weeks and took more than 2 weeks off the bike.  I've run in Folsom, CA, Albuquerque, NM, Prairie City, AR, Portland, OR, and Santa Clara, CA in the past 3 weeks (and often my Garmin wants to flip me the bird when its trying to sync with satellites).

Things change, plans change, places change.

I CHANGE.

Nearly a year ago I was looking forward to my very last (EVA!) set of finals for school.  Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology was all I wanted or needed at the time.  I just wanted to be done.  Wanted to move on to the next part of my life (the part where I might make a little money).  Now I'm looking at graduate school.  Thinking about preping for the GRE totally stresses me out... and what if I don't get into any programs?!  But the last year has made me realize that likely what I want to do in life is going to require more education.  And if it isn't a little sick and twisted, I'm looking forward to the science classes again.  Microbiology?  Yes please!  Advanced Exercise Physiology?  I'm ready.  Quite simply, a year ago I was burnt out and run down by life and school and something was going to give... change... go.  And school was at the top of that chopping block.

Life is, and recently has been especially, UNPREDICTABLE.  Just when I think things are moving in a particular direction or making sense in a particular way or fashion, something new, exciting, and maybe even a little scary pops up.  I'll admit to not always being good at rolling with the punches, but I'm trying.  I have laughed and cried, and laughed until I cried.  I have reached that unreasonable stage of sleep deprivation where everything is bigger and heavier than it should be, could be, and to my relief a good nights sleep set the world back on straight (at least as straight as it will ever be).  I had the chance to drive back to Arkansas solo and spent long stretches of open road with the radio off and being only with my thoughts and the unending line of pavement stretched out before me, and discovered that my own internal space is not such a bad place.  I'm confused and easy to distract sometimes, but I mostly have good feelings and thoughts about the future and am excited to see how things shake out.

This is a happy realization.  I've changED.  Before, whenever I'd stop and listen to myself, all I'd hear was negative.  I didn't like this, that, or the other thing.  But I'm optimistic.  I'm thankful.  I have amazing people and opportunities around me.

Change is scary, but inevitable.  And I'm doing my best to embrace it all right now.

For whatever reason I recently can't get this song out of my head, but its fitting, no? ;)


So now I'm trying to find a new routine in a new place and settle in a least a little bit.  Can't be too unsettled and train for my first Ironman, now can I? ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tales from Training: I Freaking Love This Stuff

Last night I sat on the bike trainer, sweat was dripping down my nose, arms, back, and just about everywhere else it could find. Big gear work… slow cadence… builds strength in the legs, my favorite. I knew up next would be high cadence work, my least favorite, but I had already set a goal to keep my cadence on the “work” bouts above 95 rpm. That’s fast for me.


I was smiling.
Not always easy to smile and take a picture when sweat is running in your eyes. ;)

 I love the work. I love the training. Good workouts, bad workouts, they are all a part of the deal… and I LOVE IT ALL.

Night before last I did a run in the evening, we are experiencing a heat-wave of sorts, so it was still mid-90s by time I headed out when the sun was going down. 30 minutes in the heat. Some of it hurt, I went out harder than I needed to and paid for it by the end, but all of it was awesome.


The satisfaction of a workout done, good or bad so long as I gave what I needed to give is second to none. I don’t get paid to train. I don’t get paid to race. (wouldn’t be awesome if I did!?) I go out there and enjoy the miles and minutes and when I come back I am better for the time I spent away, thankful for the opportunity to train and race.

I really believe that you get what you give – not only from life in general but from ever little aspect of life too. Training is no different. Quality and consistency of workouts will get you where you want to be if you give it time.

Want to go faster, longer, stronger? Be smart in your training and give it time.

In the meantime…


Love those miles and minutes along the way…


PS... Did you see I got a new tri kit!!!  Love it!  #JunkMiles #JunkStrong


Monday, July 30, 2012

Tales from Training: Avoiding (Real) Injury

Universally I think one of an athlete’s worst nightmares is injury. It means time away from activity or the sport you love. A possible *gasp* loss of fitness.
What if I never get back to where I was?
And it is this fear that has me in a funk. I’m crabby and annoyed.

At Vineman my right calf started hurting about half way through the bike portion. In the final miles of the bike I talked myself off the if-my-calf-hurts-on-the-bike-it’s-going-to-hurt-so-much-more-on-the-run-what-will-I-do???? ledge. Luckily it bothered me very little on the run and wasn’t a factor (at all) in my performance. I counted my blessings in so many ways that day.

Gotta take care of these beauties. ;)
Unfortunately my calf hasn’t been quite right since. I can’t say that it hurts – more that I’m aware of it, and it kind of feels like I have one spot that I’m really sore but for no real reason. Especially 2 weeks after my race.
My brain is ready to get back to training, especially to tackle marathon training, but my body still needs recovery. I “want” to ignore the complaints from my leg and push ahead, but I have big plans that could get seriously side-lined if I wind-up truly injured.

What a wonderful tool and it hurts so good.
So I’m doing what I need to do to stay injury-free. Foam roll, stretch, ice (not as much anymore), Ibuprofen. And rest. I’m not back gung-ho to workouts yet. Swimming gives me no problem so I’ve got a green-light on that, but cycling and running are done one workout at a time. Cycling seems to aggravate it the most, so I took the chance to get in a 5 mile run Sunday which felt good and today I’m having no increased awareness or pain. Good sign! This week will just go one day at a time but I’m hopeful that I’m headed to full recovery.


Happy athlete rocking her Vineman 70.3 2012 gear for the first time!

The goal is to get back to 100% and avoid any additional/serious injury. I’m doing my best to give my body the time it needs for just that. 

Smile.  Sweat.  Enjoy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Laid Plans



My original intent was to get back from vacation and seriously clean up my food choices.  For vanity and for athletic performance I’d like to lose a few (ok, 10) pounds and it seems like now is the best time to do it.  I’ve getting ready to gear back up for an Olympic distance triathlon at the end of September and then my first marathon at the end of October. 

My plan was to go “whole foods” for 6-8 weeks initially.  Fruits, vegetables, good fats, legumes, whole grains, and some lean meats.  No pastas or breads, nothing from a box. 

And then we got back from vacation.  And I’m still eating junk. 

Then my friend Karena found Amanda over at Run to the Finish who is hosting a Clean Eating August Challenge.  Perfect timing and group support?!  Doesn’t get better!


But here’s the thing.  I’m still me.

I still have to check my attitude related to food.

It is not unfair that I can’t eat whatever and however much I want.  Eating whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want is not a right.  It’s not even something I should want.  I *know* food is fuel.  If I fuel with crappy food, I feel crappy.  When I fuel with good food, I feel good. 

But the office has a dispenser full of skittles, donuts every Friday, and a coke machine down the hall.   I share a home with someone who could really care less if what I make is healthy or nutritious, only that it’s tasty.  And always involves meat, it’s not a meal without meat.

So I struggle and I get frustrated.  And getting frustrated only makes it worse. 

Really I’m sounding more dramatic than it is.  I want it to be easy and I’m whining that it isn’t. 
   


So I'm going to start making better, smarter, healthier choices.  I know I can do it, its a matter of just not giving in to every want or desire at any given moment.

Looking forward to seeing where it goes.  :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tales from Training: Recovery

I'm a week beyond Vineman 70.3 and enjoying the important, but often overlooked, aspect of training... RECOVERY. 

Recovery isn't just about letting the body recovery, but also giving the brain a break from the relentless schedule of training.  I had been consistently training for Vineman 70.3 since January and the break has been really nice. 

Sleep in on a Saturday morning, go for a short run, and then enjoy breakfast with friends? 

Yes please! 

In all honesty I'm looking forward to going back to training and the schedule, but in the meantime I've been enjoying vacation and trying hard to keep moving without worrying about how many minutes, miles, heart rate, or anything other than just enjoying myself and getting the blood moving.

And I might be splurging along the way... a tiny bit. ;)



But mostly I'm enjoying taking walks and stopping to let the dog swim and chase a stick...


Or enjoy a beach view like this....

Couldn't ask for better weather on the Central California Coast
And maybe indulged a little bit more... ;)


Tomorrow is back to reality and home, work on Monday with a light training loaded into Training Peaks.  I'm looking forward to the structure again, but for the next 24 hours, I'm going to continue to enjoy vacation...

Aaaaahhhhhhhh.  ;)