Looking Back: September

Right now I am jumping for joy, because September was a very good month! I can't say that I have gotten back into my "normal" routine (because what is that, anyway?) but I am feeling a little more organized, and have actually had a chance to do a bit of cleaning and cooking and, you know, normal stuff, without feeling like I am being pulled in a million different directions, or that I "should" be doing something more important. After studying, and then the hangover afterward, I have felt a bit discombobulated. However, September has been a slow easing of that feeling, and I am hoping October will continue to do the same.

Running: 205 miles. I am counting the miles I hiked through the Alps as "running" miles, as I was power hiking, and I often power hike when I trail run, so I am claiming them. On top of that, I also have been biking to work a couple of times a week, and so have about 40 cycling miles in September as well. I only had one race in September, which was the Berkeley Trail Adventure with some great blogger friends, but that will probably be a separate post.

Reading: Hurray for reading! This is what I have missed the most over the past few months. In September I read 8 books, which is more than I have read in one month for...well, for a long, long time. My favorite of all of them was probably Unbroken, which is the story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, and his trials and tribulations during WWII (including a shipwreck and a long time at sea).

Travel: This is going to be another blog post in itself. However, to sum it all up, I spent two excellent weeks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, mostly hiking in the Alps and eating a lot of bread and cheese!

The hills ARE alive....

In addition: I had a great weekend relaxing and getting some errands done, which was much needed, I went to the eye doctor and the dentist (finally!), met up with a friend for a walk and a catch up session and even went to an Oakland A's game. Then the last weekend of the month was a fun filled weekend with Lisa, Amber, Lauren and Leigh, who came to San Francisco for some girl time, sightseeing and running. I couldn't have had a better ending to my month.

I am hoping October gives me a chance to catch up with some other friends and family who I haven't seen very often, as well as getting a chance to kind of settle back into life again. However, I am known for filling up weekends even while saying that I need a break, so we shall see! You have to make hay while the sun shines, right?

How was your September? Have you ever seen the Sound of Music? What do you do to recharge?


Looking Back: August

August? Yup; I am only a month behind... Bear with me as I try to recap August before September ends!

August was an eventful month for me. I studied for, took, and passed my final licensing exam for work. This was a relief, and I spent the remainder of the month planning a vacation as a treat for all the studying I had done over the last few months.

Miles: 189. I had one 50k race, and I have to proudly give a quick shout out to broski, as it was his first ultra! I had over a 10 minute PR from my last year's time for this race, and broski finished well within the cutoff. I also bought a new backpack and in trying to test it out, I did a few run commutes home from work. It's not quite a true run commute, as I have to take the BART across the bay, but it is about 4 -8 miles with the pack, so I will take it.

Books: Finally I am done studying, so I have more time to do what I really love and...read! I only read two books, my favorite of which was the Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory. It is a historical fiction about Katherine of Aragon, who was married to good ol' Henry VIII. I love learning more about history, and Gregory teaches you in a way that entertains you and makes you want to learn more.

Travel: I had a most excellent time visiting with my parents in NYC. We spent the days tiring them out by walking everywhere, eating a lot and seeing all that we could in such a short time! It was pretty warm and muggy while I was there, but I had a lot of fun wandering around and exploring the city. We went to the Brooklyn promenade, Staten Island, Chinatown, and much, much more. My favorite was the night we went for German food, at a pigs knuckle and a liter of beer, and then wandered back home through the upper East side. We all slept good that night!

The Ghostbusters Fire House

In addition, I spent a weekend with my brother,  his girlfriend and her family, camping in Humboldt county.  We had a great time jumping off the rope swing, hiking, swimming in the river and eating a gourmet campsite meal around the fire! I also met up with my mom for a quick lunch in midtown Sacramento, a nice chat and a wander around before she headed to NYC. This  month was a great month for family visits!

I have to be honest, I am glad, glad, GLAD to not have to study anymore. I will have about 20 extra "free" hours a week! I almost don't know what to do with them. Okay, that's not true. I am sure I can think of something.

What is your favorite thing to do in New York City (or whichever city is your favorite)? What is your perfect summer weekend?


Looking Back & Looking Forward

Goodbye July! Hello August!

Looking back, July was a mixture of study and work with a bit of running thrown in! Here's how it shaped up by the numbers.

Miles: 141. This was one of my lower running months. I scaled it down to about 2 - 3 times a week in order to study and I really am feeling the difference. The only reason it was even over a hundred is because I threw  a 50 mile race in there, otherwise I wouldn't even have broken the 100 mile mark for the month. I am really looking forward to getting back into the running groove, as my pants are not quite fitting as well as they used to and I miss that great post run feeling!

Books: 2. I read The End of Your Life Book Club, which was okay. I think that my expectations were too high, as many of my friends had said that they loved it and I expected to love it too. It was a book about books, which is usually good, but I just found it did not catch my attention as much as I had hoped it would. I also read The Cactus Eaters, which is a book about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I found the main character a bit annoying, which was similar to another PCT book I read (Wild). I find this strange because all of the PCT hikers I met while growing up seemed perfectly normal. Maybe just the ones who write books are a bit self centered.

Travel Miles: 400 (by car). I went to South Lake Tahoe for the weekend of the 50 mile race. It was a lot of fun and it is one of my favorite trails and it is always inspiring to see the 100 mile runners and their bravery and grit. Also it was about 90 degrees and then it hailed on us as we were running, so it was quite an adventure overall.


And now....Looking Forward!

Today I am looking forward to getting off work! As soon as I get off I am meeting up with my brother and his girlfriend and we are heading north for a weekend of camping among the redwoods. I am going to swim and hike and eat grilled meat and read and take pictures and just enjoy being outside on a beautiful summer weekend in the woods!

In the next  week I am looking forward to planning a vacation! In my last post I mentioned some of the things I wanted to do once I was done with my exam, and camping and planning a vacation were two of them. So, let's get cracking! I want to do an active (hiking) vacation so am leaning towards somewhere in the Alps! Does anyone have any Alps hiking tips?

In the next  month I am looking forward to going to NYC to see my parents! My dad is currently in Manhattan and I haven't seen him in forever, so I am taking the opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities and see two of my favorite people all at the same time. I can't wait to wander the streets with them, take a run along the Hudson and eat lots of yummy food!

In the next year I am looking forward to a September running weekend with the girls, hiking Mt. Whitney, girls night at my house, catching up on my reading, Thanksgiving & Christmas with family, a vacation, and many other little things! I am also looking forward to seeing what life has up it's sleeve for me. The past year has been a busy one and one where I have learned a lot of new things, and I am sure the next one will be equally as informative and full of new things!

How was your July? When does "summer end" in your opinion? What are you looking forward to?


Time is on Your Side

I had a nice chat with my Dad on the phone yesterday (while running), which has been a long time coming. It's amazing how you can keep thinking that you will call someone "tomorrow" or do something "in a few minutes" and all of a sudden hours, days or weeks slip by. I always thought that people who stated that they were, "SO busy" were just bad at time management. I haven't changed my mind about that completely; I have only just gotten worse at managing my own time.

While studying, I made a list in my head of all the things I have been wanting to do or needing to do in the last few months but have put off in order to study. I have mentioned before, but I was never any good at studying. However, this time, it's my job (and my pride!) on the line, so I am buckling down and trying to get it done. In 10 days, I will have literally HOURS of my life back. I am really, really looking forward to that day.

So I thought I would quickly share my list with you and then get back to studying again (and do another load of laundry, and get my lunch ready for tomorrow, and go set the rat trap in the garage, etc).

- Costco trip
- Pickling veggies (almost out of pickles)
- Trip to REI (need a new headlamp)
- Baking/cooking for fun (not just one pot meals for necessity)
- Get a massage (1 hour of bliss)
- Plan a vacation (well deserved!!)
- Catch up/visit with friends/family (on the phone and in person)
- Go camping (summer is nearly over!)
- Start taking more photos
- Organize my room / files (bought containers; now I just need to use them)
- Go browsing at Barnes and Noble (for hours...)
- Buy a few new tops for work

When you get busy, what takes a back burner? Is there anything you are looking forward to doing soon?


Boston Marathon 2014

I am procrastinating studying, and so am finally attempting to write a quick recap of Boston. For most it is a little too late, but for me it is good to get it down while I still have memories about it.

My training was going well up until the end of March. One day I was running on the trails, doing a 20 mile run, and my Achilles tendon on the left side started to ache. I figured it would go away, but as I kept running, it kept getting worse. Of course, I was about 10 miles into my run and practically as far from my house (and/or a road) as I could have been. So I walked the last 10 miles home. For the next three weeks up until Boston, I ran about 20 miles total. Let me tell you, this is not a lead up to a big race. I could not decide whether it would be better to rest and hope that it was better by the time I had to race, or to "work through the pain". However, I actually listened to my own advice (or the advice that I would have given others) and stayed of it for the most part.

Race day came and luckily it was not too hot. It started off cool, but by race time it was probably about 50, which was perfect. I wore an old button up shirt with a cardigan and tights as my throw away outfit and was laughing at all of the other strange outfits in the athlete's village. For those of you not familiar with the marathon, you first get on the bus around 6 and get bussed to Hopkinton where you wait until it is time for your wave. My wave started at 10:20 so I had plenty of time to stand around in the portapotty line and people watch.

Portapotty people watching

The race started and, as always, the crowd participation was fantastic. I don't even wear headphones, as there really is no need. The sound of other runners' feet, the screams of the crowd, the music and laughter...all of this was my "music" for the day. Of course, with all of the positive vibes and sounds of running feet, I started out too fast. In addition to starting out too fast, I realized that I had not trained for speed very well. In addition to that, around mile 7 or so, my Achilles started to ache slightly.

Beer? Cigarettes? Donuts?

As you may or may not know, Boston is a mostly downhill course. For the first 10 miles, it is a slight downhill, so it's easy to prance along, feeling good. However, around 10 it starts to level out and then your legs (mostly hip flexors and quads) start to scream at you for starting out too fast. That is what happened to me. Miles 1 - 6 were all around 7:50 min/mile. Things were looking up! The Achilles was not bothering me; it was a beautiful day!

Miles 7 - 10 were around 8:00/mile. Things were starting to ache; the fact that I had not trained was starting to show; I was starting to get tired and I still had 16 miles left.

Miles 11 - 18 were around 8:30/mile. Things were falling apart. I wanted to stop. My quads were burning and my Achilles was aching and I wanted my Mommy.

Miles 19 - 26 were torture. I went from 9:10 to 9:15 to 9:30...and completed my last couple of miles at around a 9:40. It was not fun. I was so happy to round the corner on Boylston and see the finish line in the distance. The silver lining is that I carried my camera and I got some pretty good photos of myself crossing the finish line, even though I heard someone shout at me as I was finishing, "put the camera down and finish!"

I'm trying to finish Mr.!

I crossed the line at 3:47:40, or an 8:42 pace. This is 24 minutes slower than my time last year, almost a minute slower per mile. It was not a great feeling.

The silver lining? I ran into a friend of mine from Oakland in the finish shoot. Also, afterward I met up with my parents in the Boston Common and we went and had a celebratory Sam Adams 26.2 (or two), which was priceless.

The verdict? I think I am done with Boston. There are other fish to fry. However, I was glad to come back and show those bullies that we are not afraid of them. We will keep doing what we love and not let fear hold us back. Take that, bullies!

Have you ever run a race or done something just on principle? What would be your advice if someone who was injured wanted to keep running through the pain?


Currently: July

I took my series 7 exam on Monday and it was not the most fun thing I have ever done. You know how, no matter how much you are prepared, you feel inadequate when the time comes to perform sometimes? Well, the exam was a two part exam and I took the first half and felt pretty good. I did not feel good about the second half and after I finished, you have to push a button that says, "if you push this, you cannot go back. Do you want to continue?" and I really did NOT want to continue. But I pushed it and 15 seconds later (which felt like hours, my heart was beating SO hard), it gave me my score. I passed! Phew. One down; one to go. 

Current Book - The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book got good reviews from all my friends on Goodreads. I have to admit, maybe it's because I am studying at the same time, but I am finding it only so-so. It's about books, so of course that's a plus, but it's just not riveting. 

Current Running Path - The other day I took a run out to the Bay Bridge trail, where they built us a new bridge and are taking down the old one. It was pretty cool to see, and is kind of an end of an era. This bridge was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and it's been a long road replacing it, but it's finally done. Now they just have to get rid of the old one.

Current Drink - Sparkling water. It's my new treat to myself. I even got some mint the other day and have been drinking it with mint and lemon. It's so refreshing!

Current Excitement - See above regarding passing the Series 7. Phew! 

Current fashion trend - These are everywhere. In all different forms.


Current Favorite Blog/Website - I have to admit, I have not really been reading blogs/websites lately. The only one I have really visited lately has been the Oakland Library website, and maybe Goodreads.  

Current Garden Item - So far we have tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes and peppers! Summer is here!

Current Love - Running with people. I still mostly run by myself, but have been doing maybe one run a week or every two weeks with friends, and it really makes the time of a long run go by faster!

Current Food - See above regarding garden items. I made the best salad yesterday with radish, cucumber, tomato, toasted pecans, feta, lemon and mint. It was so good and fresh!

Current Indulgence - Trail mix. I have been going to town on it. It's my study snack. Unfortunately, I find it hard to stop eating it! 

Currently Pondering - How long my current computer is going to last. Right now it only has a little bit of space left, and I've gotten the black (not blue) screen a couple of times. To be fair, it's about 5 years old, but I am really hoping it hangs on for a little while longer! Also, I am not sure if I want another laptop, or a tablet. I want it to be more portable, but I really like the big keyboard and operating system on my laptop!  

Current Mood - Great!  

Current New Find - I am probably way behind the times here, but I found these great noodles that are made from yam and I love them!! I don't eat a lot of pasta, but these are a good substitute when you are feeling like a pasta-like dish! I really like them sauteed up with mushrooms, a bit of ginger, some miso and any other veggie that I have in the fridge.  

Current Peeve - People who borrow something and don't put it back. Use what you want, but replace it! 

Current Song - This song has come up on my Pandora a few times recently and I find it very haunting.


Current Triumph - Getting through studying. It's been a lot of years since I have had to do that.  

Current TV Show - Greys Anatomy reruns. They are my "reward" for a long study session.

Current Wish-List - New running shoes.  

Currently Delaying - Starting study for the next exam. I don't want to. I want to take a break. However, the train is still moving, so I cannot get off now!

What is your current indulgence? Have you ever tried yam (or tofu) noodles? Have you jumped on the leopard pants band wagon?


Looking Back: June

June started with my Dad's birthday and ended with Western States, and the in between was like a suitcase that you pack so full that you have to sit on it to make it all fit. I wish that I was current with this space, because there have been so many things that I want to report on (and remember). However, it's just not meant to be right now, so the stories will have to wait. Unfortunately, if we don't get things right down on paper, we tend to forget the small details, which are often the ones that make the event/day/story special.

North Matthieu Lake, OR

Study: (50 - 60 hours) Once again, studying ruled the roost this month, which is not surprising, as my exam is scheduled for July 7th. I am not that great at studying, however, after talking to some of the other new people in the office who are also studying, I feel pretty good about my progress. I got through all of the material and then took an overall practice test, which allowed me to go back and focus on some of the areas where I need more work. Since then, I have taken a few more practice finals and have been passing them. So...fingers crossed that I do as well on the exam as I have been doing on the practice exams. Having said that, I will be SO GLAD to not have to get up early every day to study and to come home every night and study.

Reading: (2 books) I actually read this month! Once I started to take more practice exams, I found that I really needed a break from the computer, so I would fit in a half an hour of reading here and there. Also, I did take one flight and had a few days of rest, so I crammed in a bit of reading here and there. I read The Sense of an Ending, which was only so-so, and A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) which was actually quite entertaining. Actually, it was just what I needed for study break material, which was something not too deep or meaningful.

Tahoe Rim Trail, NV

Running: (206 miles) Okay, so this month was not ALL about study. What can I say; running is my release. I am also training for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 mile run, which is on July 19th. The race is done at an elevation of 6500 - 9000 ft, so I went up to the area one weekend and did two long runs in order to get some kind of preparation for the altitude. Also, I spent some time in Oregon and I love running and exploring the trails up in the Cascades. However, since they are also pretty high up (6000 ft), I ran into snow a few times and could not get past it. Finally, I went up to Auburn and watched a bunch of my friends run the Western States Endurance Run (more on this later) and of course ran around a bit that weekend as well.

Rob Krar, #1 overall at WSER

Travel: Although I have not gone out of the country, this year has been a great one for local travels. In June, I went to South Lake Tahoe, Auburn and central Oregon. Each trip was a great time with friends and I got in a lot of hiking, walking, running and outdoors activities, which to me is the perfect vacation! The trip to Oregon was especially fun because it was with my good friend and her two girls, one of them who is 4, the other is 2 months old. It was great to spend time with them all and it always amazes me how fast they are growing!

Metoulious River, OR

Other than that, I have been tending the garden, running a bit with the dog (Emi -- her mileage is probably about 12 for the month of June) and working!

How was your June? What outdoor activities have you been doing? When was the last time you had to study for something?

**Also, last but not least, I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to my mom and her twin sister!**