Friday, January 24, 2014

On the Move ... Again!

No, no, I'm not cross-country bound again. Thankfully. I am, however, in the process of moving closer to work - holla!

Kid you not, this is, essentially, the view from my new digs. Just move me over a few blocks and a little lower on the hill (closer to the water). I'm really excited about this for several reasons (most of which you'll say duh, I would be too!)

  • My commute is now 5 miles. Why is this exciting? Because my previous one was 52 miles (one-way) and some days, would take me upwards of 2 hours to do. Hooray Southern California traffic.
  • If I'm smart and on the ball, I can take the student shuttle to campus (re: no driving my own car during the week? Win!)
  • I look at that. Every morning. 
  • With a 15 minute commute, now I'll get to actually get up and run, or gym, or do whatever I like before I head to work. Wait, you mean actually start running and training like a normal person again? Count me in!
Despite the long drive, I'm so very grateful for my parents for supporting the notion that I would hang with them for about six months. I had have some financial recovery to do, and I got a significant portion of that done with their gracious welcome back into their home - not every day a 28-year-old moves back in, let alone wants to. More on that later though, because I've been working hard to make that a reality and am super proud of how far I've come with my financial goals (and still have more to do).

But at any rate, I've been here since Monday, and despite travelling again this weekend, am looking forward to settling in a little bit more. Molly will be coming back with me on Sunday after my second trip to... 


Yep, that's right... back in the desert state again. This weekend, I'm there for our mid-year sorority board meeting. While I wish we could have combined it with the shenanigans of last weekend, I'm more glad we didn't, even though it means two weekends on the road instead of laying on my couch. Such is life. This weekend will be a lot more relaxed, combine with a little adventure on Mill Ave, and I'm actually quite looking forward to it again. 

Here's to weekend adventures in the same city x 2. And moving closer to work! And looking at the harbor every morning. < content sigh >

What was your longest commute ever? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon

Rock 'n Roll Arizona Half Marathon | January 19, 2014
Phoenix, AZ

Lucky half marathon #13! Well, we know that after my Vegas experience, I wasn't sure how RnR Arizona would play out. I wanted to give Rock 'n Roll another chance, and wanted to be sure that this was an awesome weekend - especially considering some of my favorite people ever would be there. I was up 'n out early on Saturday morning to pick up my rental car and make my way to Phoenix (for weekend #1 of two in a row in the desert city!). 

Four and a half (short) hours later -- I was there, it was lunch time, and more importantly... EXPO time!
Kristin (first half!), Tina, me, Erica, Cheyanne.
I was actually a little disappointed in this expo. It didn't seem as full-blown as Las Vegas, and I felt less entertained by all the on-goings. I did get to stop by the session that running superstars Pavement Runner and Run Emz did, which was awesome. But overall, we took one lap around the convention room and headed out. We were all worn out anyway and had a long day ahead on Sunday.

I am LOVING these race tees - hooray for good ones!
Sunday morning's wake up call was rough. 5:30 isn't terrible, compared to some other alarm clocks, but after driving and expo-ing all day Saturday, it was brutal. But whatever, up 'n at 'em, it's race day! After a quick stop for bagels and a last-minute throw-away sweater purchase at Walmart ($7, woot!), it was go time. A quick (re: 45 minutes) lightrail ride through all of Phoenix and we were there!... with all of 10 minutes until race start. 

We quickly got our photo, said good byes and good lucks, and split up. I was in corral 5 (ended up in 6), Kristin in 11, and Tina and Erica back in 15. After last week's Citrus Half (2:32), I knew I could do better, but obviously still being undertrained, I wasn't sure what I could do. I figured I'd run some intervals like at Citrus and just see how it went.
Starting line - let's go!
Naturally, I took off at the start and threw my interval idea out the window. I felt good the first few miles and decided I'd run through at least the 5K mark and see how I felt (29:54). Pretty good! Heck, let's run to at least mile 5 and see how you feel. Not bad, not bad. 

I ran through to mile 8. EIGHT! Say what? And felt pretty darn good. It was at mile 8 that I walked about .15 miles and ran through to mile 10, walked .10 or so again and then ran-walked the rest of the whole way home. Noteworthy: I followed a 2:15 pace bracelet I wore just for ha-has (again, to see how things went). It wasn't until mile 9 or so (re: the only hill on the course) that I actually felt tired and a little slow. 

One of my favorite 'fun' aspects of the course was, being that PF Chang's is the title sponsor, there's about 8 folks that (I assume work for PFC) run with the dragon - your goal is to beat the dragon and you get something cool at the end. I caught up to the dragon about mile 5 and beat him in! ... I don't know what you were supposed to get, because I didn't get it. Oh well! PF Chang's entertainment booth was beyond awesome too - huge drums that rattled you up the hill,  back down, and at least another half mile before you stopped hearing them. Pretty amazing.

Nearly the entire race I was 2-3 minutes ahead, so when I walked, I'd catch up to the time I was "supposed" to be at, while still maintaining a 1-2 minute lead. Talk about perfect timing... 
I don't think I could have planned it any better!
And of course, post-race shenaniganery (it's a word)... the best part!
Top: everyone who ran the half (31 half marathons among us!
Bottom: all the Desert Double Down-ers!
Overall, and I said it to myself not even at the 5K mark, RnR Arizona as a whole gave me a significantly better experience than Vegas. Tina commented this morning after race photos were out that I looked relaxed and happy the whole time - I think this photo captures it best. And truly, I was. I wasn't stressing about a time, I wasn't sick, wasn't putting it all on the line for myself... I enjoyed just being out there, running, enjoying a stunning morning in Phoenix (and Scottsdale and Tempe) and where I was. It was a happy race, certainly. 
Desert Double Down, done! 
Did you complete the Desert Double Down? Or either Vegas or Arizona? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Goooood early morning!

I'm finally Phoenix-bound for the second half of the Desert Double Down journey with these fabulous ladies:

While I just ran that half last weekend (and really, didn't do terribly all things considered), I'm curious how I'll end up with this one. I think I will be sticking to some intervals, knowing that my legs aren't fully ready for another 13.1 But at this point, I've just got my eye on this prize:

Heck yes! Two medals this weekend. This is my first race challenge series, so I'm super excited to be doing it and earning that extra bling. I do it for the bling, what can I say?

This is also weekend #1 of a two-part series where I'm driving to Phoenix this weekend for the race and some fun, and next weekend will be flying to Phoenix for a sorority board meeting and some more fun! Lots of Arizona in my future. Let's do it!

Are you racing this weekend? Will I see you in Phoenix? 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Race Report: Inaugural Citrus Heritage Half Marathon

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon | Riverside, CA
January 11

First half marathon of 2014 - check! This was certainly a race I was not prepared for, but also knew that when I registered, when I woke up on race morning, and knew that when I was over it at mile 8. All in all, this race was gorgeous, through some beautiful areas that make me really proud to be a Californian and be from this area. < / cheese> 

Race morning wasn't terrible. The race start for the half marathoners was 8 am, but all the pre-race communications suggested being there by 6:30 am for parking. Um... no. Suzanne and I left the house about 6:15 and were still parked by 6:45 not even across the parking lot from packet pick up! I'm glad we didn't get there any earlier - we got our packets (with no line!), back to the car, changed, bathroomed, and still sat in the car for about 20 minutes before we headed outside to brave the chill and wait for the start. 

We got Caroline dressed in her birthday gear (high fives for Sandy for thinking of it!), as it was the day of her 45th birthday and here she was, running half marathon #25! Rockstar. Snapped a few pre-race photos and before we knew it, was 8 am and race start time! Caroline braced us that this race was not flat. While this was the inaugural half marathon, this race series has existed in 5K and 10K forms before (today was the half and the 5K), and Caroline had run the 10K last year, so she knew there were hills up ahead. Little did we know what we were in for! 

Suzanne and I planned to run in intervals - being that I was undertrained and she hasn't done much racing since her full in November. We figured it'd be easy enough to maintain intervals without killing ourselves to complete the race - and heck, maybe even we'd get Suzanne to a PR! I claimed that my only goal was to not feel as terrible as I did at the end of Vegas (spoiler: I felt significantly better).

The course starts off near the Arlington Sports Park and wraps around the neighborhood. All these homes are ranch-like properties, ranch-style homes wrapped in orange groves. It smelled amazing, was so beautiful. The course alternated between roads and paved segments of the service dirt roads up and down the groves. It was kind of awesome. After the neighborhood we headed into the California Citrus State Historic Park that talks about the history of the area, how it came to be and the guy that preserved all the land (nearly 100,000 acres of orange groves!). It was neat running through the park (despite having to run straight up hill into mile 5) and seeing all the history signs. I'm going to have to come back to the park and check it out.

Not dying! Photo cred to Sandy's husband!
After the uphill into mile 5, we literally ran down this crazy super steep hill, through the groves, and back on to the road for some more winding through homes and groves. One of the prettiest courses I've seen, hands down.
Is there anything better to run through? I'd argue no!
Somewhere around mile 8 Suzanne decided that she just need to jog it all the way out, no more intervals. I, on the other hand, needed to keep up with some kind of pattern, as I wasn't feeling all the running (ha!). So we alternated, I'd catch up, then pass, then she'd catch up. It worked for us, as we finished near the end within just a few minutes of each other.
Not dying at the end either!
Final time was 2:32:52. I left my Garmin at home, relied on Suzanne for splits and intervals when we were doing them, and was undertrained. Frankly, it's far from my best, but I'm quite satisfied. It might be the little boost I need to get up and moving (along with some other news, to be shared later this week!). My legs hurt throughout the day, but got to stretch in the hot tub and that certainly helped by the next morning. All in all, not too bad.

One of the highlights of my day was meeting this incredible woman -- the Marathon Goddess, miss Julie Weiss herself. If you've seen Spirit of the Marathon II, or even if you haven't (you should!), you may have heard of her, as she ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks over the past year to fundraise for pancreatic cancer. in SOTM II, her energy and enthusiasm at mile 24 just astounded me -- and she's JUST that way in person. Amazingly energetic, bubbly, full of life. What an inspiration! She let us bother her on her way out (she literally dropped all her things to take a photo) and insisted we do "the pose." I love this woman - seriously.

All in all, a great Saturday! Half marathon #12, done. On to #13 next weekend at RnRAZ!

All in all, for an inaugural race, this was an amazing experience. The course was gorgeous, though tough. The long sleeve tech shirts for half runners is probably one of my best-fitting tech shirts and pretty nice. Let's talk about that medal, as I'm sure you saw on my Instagram. IN LOVE. Great volunteers and a wonderful race. I'd highly recommend this to anyone in the Southern California area - I'm going to be back next year, for sure, as I'll be a legacy runner! Woo hoo!

Have you ever run an inaugural half marathon? What was your experience?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Getting Back in Gear

It's the first full week of the new year and I'm feeling a bit lackluster. Still working on establishing goals for the year (some new, some carried over from 2013) and figuring out what's really attainable this year. I've been leaving the house at 6:45 am to get to work around 8, leaving work at 3:30 to be home around 5 and finding myself exhausted and not even slightly motivated to get off the couch at that point.

However, I've got two halfs these next two weekends to get me moving - nothing like killing myself over 13.1 miles to get my ass moving again, right?

I get to earn this beauty at the inaugural Citrus Heritage Half Marathon this weekend! This should be just gorgeous - it's down in Riverside through some historic parts of the city and in orange groves. Yes please! To boot, the orange on the medal is glittery. Even better, but I get to hang out with these fine women again and my friend Suzanne is coming up from San Diego for a little ass-kicking too. I call this a win.

The following weekend, I'm Phoenix-bound for an encore #ladiesrunvegas weekend to finish out the Desert Double Down series and earn this guy:

I'm pretty excited about both and hope they provide me that extra oomph to get moving again!

What's coming up on your race list? How have you kicked off the new year - or have you?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goals Aren't Always Meant to be Achieved

I don't mean that to send super Debbie-Downer, but I think it's true. Goals hold you accountable. They hold you to achieve the things you want to achieve, and when you don't get there, they keep you humble. They keep you focused, maybe more motivated, maybe less.

I set out with some pretty high goals for 2013, based off the high I'd come off of 2012 with. Looking back, some were totally realistic, without knowing the year I'd have ahead. Let'z check out what I got to do.

Health | Fitness

- 1,000 miles:  While this would have been awesome, I'm not sure I knew what I was getting into! Jumping from 664 (2012) to 1,000 is hefty as it is. And this year, having done just 573, I was far off the mark. If I had kept on my track past June, where it all fell down, I could have come close. Is 2014 my year? Maybe! 

- Sub-2 hour half marathon: Big, fat, negative

- Sub-26 5K: So. Close. Now standing at 26:12. I've got this. Coming to you in 2014!

Sub 1-hour 10K: Done and done! Marigold 10K in Winterville, Georgia in May. 

- Finish that marathon standing upright:  I'm a marathoner! Surf City marathon, completed both standing upright and under my time goal with 1:18 to spare! 

- 13 in 2013: 18 races completed in 2013. One marathon, 4 half marathons, one 15K, 4 10Ks, and 8 5Ks is a hefty enough year as it is, on top of everything else I've worked through and done. I'd call that a good year, all in all! 

VOLUNTEER with at least 2 races: I volunteered at one race this year, but never fell in line with #2. I wish I had. I was signed up to hand out medals (!) at the Long Beach Half in October, but with some family business that arose that morning, it just wasn't in the cards. Next year, I'd like to be able to give back more. 


Student loan paid off: I am so so so excited to say this is DONE! Five years early and just in time for the December 1 deadline I had set last January. While it wasn't paid in the way I thought, I am so grateful for the support my parents gave and  helped me make this happen. So, so, so thankful. 

Increase savings: I said in January "I have a number I'd like to achieve this year."I don't know what the number was, but I've got more in savings than I've had in the last three years. So regardless, I call this a success. Done and done.

Make time for those I love: I feel that I can cheat on this one a little, as being in the same area as my parents, Doug, grandparents, aunt, uncles again makes this easy. However, I do need to continue balancing this and finding time for everyone who deserves it. I am grateful I'm close enough to do this, but know there's more work to do! 

Journal: I wasn't great about this, but wrote about once a month. I'm already committing to write more regularly in 2014 and hope to get better and better about writing just for me. 

All in all, a decent 2013. An exhausting year, on all accounts, but I'm okay with what I did do and what else I can continue working on. Bring on 2014, bring it on!

What major goals did you have for 2013? Did you achieve them?