In the Zone

Michael Buble Pandora station while running in the rain may be my new favorite thing.


Packet Pick Up Problem

I’ve decided to throw in one more race before the holidays. It’s a holiday-themed 5k and while it is far away and was way too expensive, I just couldn’t help myself. I’m kind of addicted. At least it’s a healthy addiction? (Though my wallet would say otherwise)

Ok so I have a question for you. This race is 2 1/2 hours away from home (I’m insane). I have a wonderful dog who will have to stay at home, and so I will drive in the morning of. Whenever I possibly can, I pick up my race packet the day before – I hate the stress of running around pre-race. In this situation, however, due to the distance, I planned on picking up my packet morning-of. To my surprise, I saw that there was a $20 fee to pick up your packet on the morning of the race. In years past they’ve gotten themselves into a pickle with too many runners picking up in the morning, and so this is their way of deterring people from waiting til the last minute. For those in the LA area, they will also be holding packet pick ups there over the weekend (this option is free). But I’m still 1 1/2 hours from LA! I mean, I TOTALLY get it – no one likes a late race, and I understand how crazy race logistics get. But $20?? What about those of us who don’t have many options? Unfortunately I don’t know anyone else running the race, or I would have them grab my bib. But now I’m forced to choose between paying $20 to pick up the morning-of or drive 3-hours round trip the day before. Ugh. I can’t afford the registration as it is! 

Anyway – this 5k is the little sister to the day’s main event – the half-marathon. I don’t think I’m ready for another one of those quite yet. This race is mostly to help me figure out if the 5k I ran at Universal earlier this month was a fluke or if I am in fact becoming a stronger runner. Plus it’s a good excuse to go down the mountain and see some friends. Ah! I just realized in this moment that the race is less than 2 weeks away. Where IS the time going?? I’d better get some jump squats in pronto!

Santa Barbara Half-Marathon Recap!

What an exhausting weekend! And a lovely one at that, full of friends, pasta and PRs. I love Santa Barbara.

The expo on Friday was fun – I finally tried a clif shot gel. I’ve never had a gel before. The vanilla was really tasty, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about ingesting one in the middle of a run. I’ll have to practice! Erica and I met up post-expo with her co-worker Scott. I devoured a huge plate of spaghetti, my garlic bread AND Scott’s, and topped it all off with a cone of Chocolate Therapy from Ben & Jerry’s. I went to bed very full.

The hotel Matt & I shared with Erica was pleasant enough. The dog, however, decided that it would be best to jump on the bed and walk around at 3:40 in the morning, a full hour and 20 minutes before I had to wake up. That part sucked. When 5am did finally roll around, I jumped out of bed, made a bowl of oatmeal, chugged some coffee, and suited up. Annie had stayed in Oxnard the night before and I had picked up her bib at the expo, so she stopped by the hotel to gather her goodies. With Matt at the wheel (he really is a wonderful race supporter), we were off just a few minutes later to gather Scott and head over to the starting line by 6:15/6:30 for a 7:15 start. And here is where I started to FREAK OUT.

I like getting to a race start early. I usually need to pee more than a few times, and I need a few minutes to get into the zone before the gun goes off. Figuring 45 min to an hour would be more than enough time, we asked Scott to be ready and waiting at his hotel at 6am. We got there at 6:10 to no Scott. We called him only to find out that he was across the street at Denny’s, waiting for his food. Ok, we’ll come over there and grab you. (Also – who orders something from Denny’s right before a race?? My stomach was turning) We sat outside in the idling car as I watched him stand in the front of the restaurant, waiting for his food. My watched ticked to 6:15. 6:20. 6:25. Matt lent me his hand to squeeze as the terror crept into my eyes. At 6:30, knowing that not only were we still 5-10 min away from the start, and that if it was anything like last year’s drop off, we were going to have a half-mile walk to the start, I ran into Denny’s, where Erica was already trying to get some sort of food delivery timeline from the poor hostess. “Matt is just going to bring me and he’ll come back for you!” I blurted out, caught between wanting to keep to my pre-race routine and not wanting to make an embarrassing scene in front of this nice man I had just met the nice before.

Scott left his food and followed us back to the car. It was at that point that I started feeling guilty for acting like a maniac. But, come on. Denny’s?? Ahem. For some reason, when we finally made it to the long line of cars near the drop off, we were waved into a different line. This line of cars was completely stopped. Scott jumped out and asked what was going on, only to be told that the start was RIGHT there and so we all jumped out. By some grace of God, a nearby firefighter surveying the traffic saw us scrambling across the road and told us how to sneak through the hole in the gate behind the station. Before we knew it, we were standing in the middle of the crowd, surrounded by porto potties galore. While I was using said potty, I heard over the loudspeaker that it was time for us to start lining up. We finished up our business and ran to the start, dumping our bags in the user-friendly bag drop boxes located along the side of the road. I finally found Annie and then my old co-worker Tim popped up out of nowhere! And THEN they pushed the start of the race back 15 minutes! It was all meant to be.

After jogging back to the bathrooms 3 more times, I positioned myself in the back of the 5-8 minute corral. My secret goal was 1:45, approx 8:00 min/miles. Before I knew it, we were off. My first 2 miles were around 7:35 min and so I forced myself to slow down. Around mile 4 I had to pee again (what is WRONG with me??) but I pushed the urge out of my mind and made it through with little annoyance.

I had brought a canned good with me to the expo and was given a pace tattoo in return. I love these things. It was so helpful to look down at my wrist and see exactly where I was in relation to my goal. I tried to leave myself a good minute of buffer for the dreaded Killer Cliff Drive hill at mile 10, until I reached the 10k mark and saw that at 52:32 I was now over a minute behind my goal! After a brief moment of panic, I realized I wasn’t necessarily in a bad position. I was a bit behind my goal pace for the first half – so, if I ran this race correctly, I’d be able to kick it in during the second half and get that negative split I was looking for (I’m still learning how to race…can ya tell?? :)). I amped up the effort just a bit and within the next 2 miles got myself right where I wanted to be – 1 minute under goal pace.

Soon I arrived at mile 10: the 1-mile ascent. For some reason, this hill was not nearly as frightening as it had been last year. I saw a girl in front of me struggling and tried to encourage her on up the hill. Not sure she heard me, but I know I appreciate when fellow runners cheer me on, so I hope it helped her a bit. I read somewhere that cheering on another runner or interacting with the spectators will take 3-5 seconds off your mile! Now I don’t think that is quite possible, but it did truly make me feel a tiny bit faster 🙂

Could the end of this race be any prettier?

Before I knew it, I saw the girls holding the “It’s all downhill from here!” signs. I smiled as I ran past and out onto the stretch overlooking the Pacific. It was the most beautiful sight. Being that it was Veteran’s Day weekend, the last mile was decorated in American flags – there were even volunteers handing out mini flags for us to wave through the finish. When I looked at my watch at mile 12 I saw that I was 1 minute 30 sec ahead of pace. I don’t know what happened that last mile, but I must have flown down that hill, because I ended up just over 3 minutes faster than my goal. I finished, smiling, in 1:41:51.

I made my way, slowly, around the track, hoping to catch my friends coming in. I managed to see Annie coming in down the chute and yelled for her as loud as I could. I was so so proud of her. This was her first half-marathon and the longest she had ever run. Girl finished in 2:02. I was almost more excited for her than for myself.

It was so nice to finish with a group of friends, especially a group of friends who had all PR’d! The rain had held off, the air not tooo chilly, we made it to the start on time, and everyone finished with a smile on their face. What more could we have asked for?

Official stats:
time: 1:41:51 [10k – 52:32 / finish – 49:18]
overall: 284/3541
ladies: 73/2279
age: 17/663

SBIM, Here I Come!

Getting ready to leave the mountains and head on over to beautiful Santa Barbara!
I am very much looking forward to running the half tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed the rain holds off and the temperature bumps itself up maybe 5-10 degrees? (Currently the forecast is at 40. Chilly!) This is the first time I’ll have a little crew of racing buddies with me and I’m super excited. Nothing like knowing you’ve got friends experiencing the same joys and pains you are 🙂

I went for a beautiful 4-mile trail run yesterday evening through the clouds. It felt so nice to run in the rain and the run was honestly one of the most enjoyable ones in recent memory. I’m at the point where I know I’ve done all I can do to train for tomorrow, so to just relax and enjoy a rainy day run was just what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle tomorrow! Here’s to tonight’s pasta dinner!

WeSPARK 5k Recap (and a big win!)

Clearly this race was a bundle of fun. But let’s start at the beginning!

5am: After waking up every hour between 11pm and 5am (I can’t help it, I get so excited!), it was finally late enough for me to get out of bed. Poured the coffee, ate the oatmeal, walked the dog, out the door by 5:45. Because of the time change, I got a lovely view of the sunset as I was zipping down the mountain. The rising sun coupled with “Friends” by the Beach Boys got me to Universal Studios safe and sound by 7:15.

I parked and headed over to the expo to pick up my packet. I was pretty excited to get bib #1999. I had Prince stuck in my head all morning.

Being as I had an hour until start time at 8:45, I actually had time to warm up properly. I stretched and jogged around for 15 minutes while I waited for my friend, Jackie. This was her first racing event and she planned to walk it with some friends. It’s always nice to have some pals around pre and post race! While I was jogging in circles I caught sight of Max Greenfield, who was going to be starting the race. He plays Schmidt on the show New Girl. Yay celebrities!

Waiting in line for the bathroom took FOREVER. You know how there are a million lines for the porto potties and each line unofficially gets 2 or 3 pots they can work with? Well my line had 2. And someone must have had some pre-race nerves or SOMETHING because for about 5 minutes we were definitely down a bathroom. And I get it, we all gotta unload, but…come on, girl – race starts in 15 minutes!

I quickly dropped off my bag at the bag drop and headed over to the start line. Before I knew it, Schmidt was blowing the horn and we were off! Now, remember when I said I didn’t like 5ks? They’re too fast – no time to relax. Well, I discovered another reason I hate them. I don’t know how to run them. After the 1st completely downhill mile, I looked at my watch. 6 minutes, 3 seconds. WHAT?!!! I started laughing out loud because I didn’t know I even had the capability to run a mile that fast. I made sure to slow down my next mile, but even that was at 7 minutes. Mile 3 was an absolute bitch. There were HILLS. Steep, steep hills. The kind of hills that you wish would just end. Now. But they don’t. And you see people up ahead of you turning and they are still running UP. It was tough.
Also! Can we talk about the temperature, please? So the race was supposed to start at 7:45. A week before the race I received an email stating that the race would start at 8:45 due to some Universal sound ordinance. Then! We had to turn the clocks back. So now we’re running at what is really 9:45 on a day that is supposed to reach into the 90s. Race start temp had to be in the low 70s. Ugh.
I will give credit, though, to the course distractions. The Universal backlot? Amazing! Wisteria Lane, WhoVille, War of the Worlds, the Psycho House – even as I was sprinting by, I managed a whole heck of a lot of smiles. How can you not when there’s a Mariachi band playing on Mexican street right after Zorro is sword fighting on Western ave? I’ve been through the lot on a tram tour before, but being able to run right through made for a pretty unique course. I managed to sneak backwards onto the course after my finish to snap some photos.

War of the Worlds!

Pyscho house!

Anyway, back to the race. I knew I was out front, and as I passed the last woman I could see, I started to wonder…was I in THE front? (We’re talking in terms of females here, of course). I didn’t see any more ladies in front of me, but as the course was twisty and turny, I knew of course there could be a speed demon in front of me.
Sidenote: As the course got tougher and I got tireder, I made a couple of audible noises – you know, the kind when you are really struggling and sounds just escape from your mouth when all you really intended was an exhale. Lucky for me I had music on, so I couldn’t hear myself too much, but when a guy in front of me turned around as I approached him, I knew it was because I was making a racket. Oh well. Pretty sure I beat his butt.

Pretty sure a terrible noise was escaping my throat at this moment

Anyway. As I started up one of the last hills, I set pace with a boy who I later found out was 13. Awesome. Thanks to this kid, I didn’t stop and puke in the bushes like I thought I was going to have to do. I’ve never really considered stopping during a race to vom, but I seriously considered it this time around. Lucky for me, the last .1 was just ahead and boy was that the LONGEST .1 miles of my entire life. But I made it. I even heard my name on the loud speaker.

Oh race photos, you always make me look so good

And when the overall winner came up and said “Hey! First woman – congrats!” I knew my spastic race strategy had all been worth it. I had won. WON! ME! I’ve placed 1st in my age group before but NEVER overall. And boy oh boy did I not expect it to happen in a 5k. I said a small prayer of thanks to my fast-twitch fibers for getting me through this race exactly 1 minute faster than my first attempt at a 5k. I grabbed some free snacks, congratulated the next few women to cross the finish line, and then called mom and dad. My dad used to be a marathoner back in his day and so it means a lot to me to be able to call him with exciting running news. Always the coach, though, he did be sure to remind me that I need to work on not blasting out of the starting gate (I know that, now).

Finishing a race in under 22 minutes means you have a lot of time to wait around and watch everyone else come in. I LOVE this part. It is so exciting to see all of the people who come out at the break of dawn to participate in these things. And for such a great cause, too. WeSPARK really put on a wonderful event and they raised a ton of money through fundraising, too!

I met up with Jackie and she hung around with me for the awards. I received a medal for my 1st place age group finish and a trophy for my overall female win. The female awards were handed out by Maggie Jones, the sweet little girl from We Bought a Zoo and the tv show Ben and Kate. Really, my prize was getting to pose with this NUGGET. Gah she is too CUTE.

So, the day was a success. Any race that’s filled with smiles, charity and the Cat in the Hat is an A+ in my book. See you next year, weSPARK!

partying like it’s 1999

Official Stats:
time: 21:43
overall: 15/2044
ladies: 1/1341 
age: 1/185 

weSpark Cancer Support 5k

I’ve only run one 5k. I decided afterwards that I didn’t particularly love it, as I felt like I was sprinting the whole time. I much prefer to run a 10k or a half-marathon (well, based on the one half I’ve run…). I like pushing myself, but I’m pretty sure I’m built more for endurance than speed. I appreciate being able to relax a bit during a run, and I don’t get that during a 3.1 mile-run. My slow-twitch muscle fibers scream at me every time I run fast. “Aw come on, man! Can’t we just go for a long leisurely jog today?” And while slow distance is my preferred exercise, I do know that I’ve got to get those fast-twitch fibers in shape, too, and so I do try to add a (little) bit of speed work to my routine. So, with that said, I’ve signed up for another 5k.

Now if I’m being honest, the main reason I’m running the 5k and not the 10k is because I have a half-marathon 6 days later and I don’t want to completely crush my legs. Though, based on the fact that some of the insane (in the best way possible!) bloggers I follow run 2, 3, 4 half-marathons one after the other, I would most likely be fine running a 10k. But 5k here we go! This race was an afterthought, brought on mainly by the fact that 100% of all money raised goes to this local cancer support center. This year’s been tough cancer-wise, and so I figured this is a small way for me to support those I’ve lost and those I know who are currently battling this stupid disease. Plus, it’s through the Universal Studios backlot, which should be a distracting enough landscape to keep those slow-twitch fibers quiet.

Morning Motivation

When it comes time to take on a new challenge, namely a physical one, I am a pro at immediately doubting my abilities. “But what if I can’t do it?” “There’s no way I can do THAT!” “What?? You want me to do what??” But by some stroke of hidden self-confidence, I always finish what I came out to do.

I not only ran the 6 miles I was terrified to run up here a couple of months ago, I’ve now run 13 miles up here and regularly head out for 6-8 mile jogs during the week. Earlier this summer I was pretty damn scared of altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro. I made it to the top (and only puked twice, but attribute that to the intestinal bacterial infection I picked up along the way). Those jump squats? Ok so I can’t yet do 6 sets of 15, but I’m up to 5 sets of 10.

Point is, I have a heckuva habit of saying I can’t do something. And then I do it. Always. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to start out by just telling myself that I CAN do it? Gosh, the anxiety and stomachaches I would save myself!

And THIS is what gets me outta the house every day.


When I have money someday, I will subscribe to Runner’s World magazine. Until then, I shall continue to frequent their website daily. They always have some new advice on what to run, when to run, how to run, what to eat, when to eat, how to eat- you get the picture. The other morning I awoke to my daily RW email. This particular morning it was about “runner’s knee.” I’ve been having some knee pain lately (I am blaming it all on the hills), and so I clicked through the link. I ended up watching a video by a doctor who explained a few different types of knee pains and their subsequent remedies/prevention. Apparently, I just need a stronger butt. Now, based on my boyfriend’s compliments of how good my butt looks “in those jeans,” I figured I was doing just fine in that department. But I guess having a nice butt doesn’t always equal a strong butt. So here we go.

Plyometric jump squats. Dr. Jordan Metzl’s if-you-only-give-me-one-thing-just-do-this exercise of choice. These advanced squats help strengthen all sorts of stuff – quads, glutes, hamstrings. They are also a great tool to help with your speed – the explosiveness of the action promotes strength and power. Very helpful for us runners.

Megan, our workout model of the day, looks comfortable enough doing these frog leaps. Oh, easy, piece of cake, I thought. I got this!

Alright, here we go! ooh, this is fun. I feel like I’m 5. Jumping! I’m jumping! Strong butt! Ok 7, 8, 9, oh, 10, I’m slowing down, 11, strong butt? why do I need a strong butt? 13, haha..this is..uh, haha, 14, aaand what? 15. kind of. sure, that counts as a whole one. oh. I’m not done?  You want 6 sets of 15? Doc. Seriously? I am not Iron Man. THIS IS REALLY HARD!

I found that each time I started a new set I’d get through about 8 or so with no problem and then all of a sudden I just could not launch myself up anymore. And I would start to laugh. Watching your body just tire out in front of your eyes is often upsetting, but sometimes it’s just funny. Needless to say I made it through 4 sets. …with ample rest time in between. And by 4 sets I mean when I got to number 15 I just sat down. Did I mention this was 2 days ago and my quads are still sore as a mofo?? I went down a flight of stairs today and chuckled to myself. I can’t remember the last time I was this sore. If you are interested in putting yourself through this type of torture, check out the full workout here (jump squats are 2nd video in). If you are already a pro at these, well, I admire your tenacity and am jealous of your butt.

Someday I will smile this big when I am squatting.

Dr. Hydration or: How I Learned To Stop Being “Tough” And Love Water

I don’t drink on my runs. I don’t have a fancy running belt with 72 loops and straps to hold gallons of water. The fact that during a 10k race I look forward to the 1 or 2 ounces of water that make it into my mouth (I have yet to figure out how to successfully drink from a dixie cup while running) never seemed to resonate with me when it came to my daily runs. Sure, I am running much harder during a race and may not necessarily need hydration mid-6 miler here at home, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. I should have taken a cue from the evening headaches I would get after longer jogs. No matter how much water and gatorade I would drink after the fact, the pain was inevitable. “Wahhh my head hurtsssss!!!” I would whine, knowing exactly the cause. Did that change anything when it came to my next long run? Nope! I can handle it! Nope. I can’t.

Then came the attempt to run my longest run yet up here at altitude. I remembered how damn thirsty I was during my 10-miler the week before. It had been a hot day, I was dumb and decided to run in the mid-day heat. All I could think about was water. I was hallucinating huge pools. Running around the lake was absolute torture. I wanted to dive in and drink it dry. Upon the completion of my run I ran into McDonald’s and asked for a cup of water. I was presented with a cup that held approximately as much as those race-day dixies. I asked for a second cup. I stood at the drink dispenser, double-fisting these baby cups, guzzling water like a madwoman. This is terrible, I thought. My amazing body took me this far on foot and this is how I thank it? I deprive it of liquid? I’m a terrible body owner.

And thus, when it came time to don the thermal sleeves and running shoes for my 13-miles of certain hell, I decided to invite along a new friend to the adventure. My camelbak. I wasn’t sure how it would be, running with what felt like a tiny child clinging to my back, but I decided it was worth a shot. I filled up my 100-oz bladder approximately 1/3 of the way with a water/gatorade mixture, tightened the straps as much as I possibly could, and was off. I started slowly, trying to judge how this new addition would affect my gait. To be honest, I hardly knew it was there. But when I needed a sip of that juice, boy was it comforting to have him along. I took a few sips every 15-20 minutes, even when I wasn’t thirsty, knowing that my body would thank me later. And can I tell you something? I did not have even the slightest hint of a headache that evening. Nor was I completely spent and dehydrated at the end of my run. My pace was even 2 seconds faster than it was on my previous long run. This, I told myself, is how running should be. And that, my friends, is how I discovered the magic of proper hydration.