Friday, October 25, 2013

On Top of the World

The Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco - or how I rekindled the joy of running... again.

I have been plagued with tendinitis in my left foot this summer. This case of tendinitis was not caused by running,  but by wearing the wrong shoes to work.  No, I didn't wear heels, in fact it was a flatter wedge, probably too flat and not enough arch support or stability.  Wearing those wedges for one 8 hour work day has given me a summer of slow running and a lot of walking the dog.  Knowing that I needed to keep training for my fall and winter races kept me going.  Between the SDTC and Rehab United, I always had someplace to run and someone to run with.  I ran up and down the hill at Torrey Pines State Beach,  local runners know the one,  plus the hills in Del Mar and in my own neighborhood, which made all the difference come race day. 

Hubs and I flew up to San Francisco the Friday before the race only to find that BART was on strike and we had to figure out how to get into the city from the Oakland Airport.  Luckily for us, someone was looking for people to share the expense of a shuttle van.  We ended up sharing the van with six other random people with the same predicament.   We all made it to San Francisco with no issues, and the weather was gorgeous.

From the van going over the Oakland Bridge to San Francisco.
Once we were in the city, and settled in our hotel room, Hubs and I met Norma, a track club friend, and her husband to retrieve our race numbers and swag.  We spent some time roaming around the expo at Union Square and did a little shopping over at Nike Town.

Normal and I - Photo op at Union Square
The race course over at Nike Town --Pointing at the finish.
We even found our names on the wall.

I'm right there!
Hubs was hungry and wanted to eat.  We ended up at an Irish pub, and I can't remember the name of it.  It was OK, but my Hubs was really hungry...

The husbands.  They look so excited to be at a women's event.  LOL.

Later on that same evening, we met Norma and husband and walked over to Chinatown for dinner.  Norma Yelped a restaurant based on the number of stars it had.  We came upon a very unassuming doorway with a stair case.  At the top of the stairs we peeked in and the "hole in the wall" room was packed, and the aroma of Chinese food was amazing.  Even though there was a wait, we stayed.  The food really was amazing.  Good choice.  I thought we had photos, but I guess we were all too hungry to snap any pics of the place or the food.

The next morning hubs and I ate the complimentary breakfast at our hotel, then decided to walk around the Union Square area.  We walked past the Expo area and ended up at the Bvlgari building.  Hubs wanted to peek inside to look at the architecture, and he even told that to the sales person.

When you're married to an architect, you get used to photos like this... lots of photos like this.
As we looked around, the sales person insisted that I try on some jewelry.  I felt kind of weird at first, but it doesn't hurt to try on super expensive jewelry that costs more than any car I'll ever own.

It goes with everything!

We did a little more realistic shopping at Old Navy -- that's more our speed, had a late Thai food lunch/dinner,  picked up some coffee* and granola bars for the next morning, and went to chill at our hotel. It wasn't long after that when I checked my Facebook and had a message from an on line friend, Michelle.  She was in a little bit of a panic because BART was on strike and not running, and BART being down caused a traffic nightmare for the locals.  She was looking for some place in the city to crash.  I offered our floor in our small hotel room, and she took the offer.

Michelle and I know each other from an on line workout support group on  Body for Life  California, then another work out site Muscle Tank, our blogs, then Facebook.  It's funny that we've never met in person until now.  We live in the same state and I know we've been near by our cities several times, but never connected.  It was as if we knew each other (in person) the whole time.  Michelle camped out on our floor with her sleeping bag and gear, and we had a great time talking about all things running and fitness before attempting to doze off.

Michelle's accommodations for the night. Photo by Michelle.
We woke up to the phone alarm at around 5:15 AM.   Being three blocks from Union Square was such a bonus since the race started at 6:30.  No getting up at 3:30AM to be out the door by 4 to beat the traffic at the starting area.  No waiting in lines at the port-o-potties.  It almost felt like sleeping in.  Since Hubs was the designated Sherpa, there was no need to drop off our things at the bag check.  We walked down to the Union Square area with plenty of time to absorb the vibe of the race, and plenty of time to get used to the temperatures.

Cell phone "selfie." 

I still look sleepy, but Michelle looks ready to go!
Almost ready to go - the white t shirt is off!
Making our way to the start!  Look, it's the crack of dawn!
Aaaaaand, we're off.  Michelle immediately took off, and looked really good as she went ahead of me.  She mentioned something about not really running for about 3 weeks, but I never would have known.  This time there was virtually no weaving around walkers.  I ran the entire race.  Even though I slowed down on the hills, they weren't as intimidating as I  remembered.  I took advantage of the downhills and just let gravity do it's thing.  The weather was perfect for running.  The temperatures never went higher than 55 degrees, and it was foggy for most of the race.  As the miles went by, I noted how good I felt, and by the time I hit mile 10, I was still feeling pretty good.  Mile 10 is where I pretty much gave up when I ran it in 2011, and walk/ran the remaining 3 miles because I felt so crappy.  I felt energetic for the entire race.  Mile 10 came this time, and I still felt great.  The last three miles went by easily.  My ETA for this race was 2:40, only because of the tendinitis, but I guess all that hill training and walks with the dog did help.  I finished in 2:27:56, and I was THRILLED with that.  It's not my fastest half marathon by far, but it was 14 minutes faster than when I ran it in 2011.

My cell phone refused to work properly after I finished, (iPhone -  ever since the update I've had issues), so there's no photos with me and the cute firemen in tuxes giving out the Tiffany & Co. blue boxes with white satin ribbons, with the necklace inside. 

The weather was fine for running, but after stopping and the sweat cooled my body, I was freezing.  I did get a mylar blanket right away, but I was chilled.  Hubs finally found me and I was able to put on a warm, long sleeved top. 

Not quite the post race pic I was hoping for, especially with those cute firemen, but I got my bling! I'm happy, freezing, but happy!

Hubs was trying to track down Michelle since he had her gear back containing her warm clothes.  She ended up at one of the Nike concession tents and bought a warm long sleeved pull over t-shirt because she was so cold, but she was still happy to have even more layers once we found each other.

There was Sofia Champagne served in the post race area.  It cost extra, but I really wanted some because it's one of the few bubbly wines that I can drink and not have issues.  Champagne in little cans is actually pretty good. 
FIt doesn't feel so cold after a little bubbly...  Cheers. 
We spotted some SDTC peeps at the champagne area.

Happy finishers!
This was the t-shirt they all wore...  LOVED it!
The finish area was not as roomy as it had been in the past because part of it is on federal property, which the race organizers could no longer use due to the government shut down.  There were about 30,000+ people crammed in a small area.  The line for the bus back to Union Square was a bit long, but it eventually moved.  Waiting in line wasn't so bad, as we chatted with happy race finishers.

The Bling
After a hot shower, some food, and a long nap, hubs and I went out on the town that evening.  We went to dinner at John's Historic Grill for some awesome martini's and steak.  It was a fabulous meal to end a very, very good day.

Because BART was still on strike, we had to find another way to the airport the next day. We couldn't find a shuttle that was going to Oakland's Airport. All the shuttles were going to San Francisco's Airport. We ended up with a "taxi" which ended up being a guy in a 3 piece suit driving a Lincoln Town Car. We felt special, but it wasn't exactly inexpensive either. We left super early to avoid any traffic, but there was none, and we arrived at the airport much quicker than anticipated.

 Are you still with me? I know this is a longish post, but I haven't posted anything since August. I have just a few more thoughts...

I've learned that I need to stay away from drinking any alcoholic beverages at least 2 days before a race. I really don't drink a lot, but pre race rituals are important -- which includes not drinking, and I had a much better race this year. I saved the drinks for after the race, and those two drinks were so much more enjoyable.  I've learned that no matter how slow I'm going, I'm still moving. As long as I keep up the training I will never become stagnant. I surprised myself buy doing better than I was anticipating.  Never doubt your training.  I've learned that after feeling lack luster and less than excited about running, that it will come back and have that "new" feeling again.  It felt new at Nike this year, and I feel excited about running again. I've also learned that you can never have too many friends, even if they come from the "internet." I'm often asked if I get worried about meeting people I've only known from workout support sites or blogs. "What if they're creepy?" "How do you know?" I've never had a reason to worry. After a certain amount of time reading their posts you just know, you get certain vibe from a person. I've met several people from workout sites and blogs, and each time it has been great. I really enjoyed meeting with Michelle in person, and I hope we meet again in the near future.  I also had fun spending time with Norma who we know from track club.  It was nice to see a different side of her.  Finally, I've learned that my Hubs made a pretty good Sherpa.

...and he still likes the window seat.
Song from August Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Summer Breeze - Seals & Croft  

*Pre race ritual - Buy a handmade coffee per our specifications at Starbucks, then put in the fridge or set in an ice bucket for race day morning.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Breeze

I feel like a kid starting back at school with the first day of school assignment" "What did you do over your summer vacation?" Aside from not blogging*, I've been doing a lot of the usual, such as going to work. My running has kind of taken a back seat to tendinitis in my left foot, but it's not that bad, and I'll get out and walk the dog for a mile or two at a time and try to put in some slower, longer runs during the weekends. The most I've run at any one time has been 8 miles. Instead of writing about my summer vacation, I'll just show a few photos instead.

My most recent race picture... From June at the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon.  
4th of July Weened - Hubs and I finally trekked to Los Angeles to hang out with my sister and her husband.  My sister and I both needed some relaxation and found it at Malibu Winery.

Griffith Park Observatory

View from a hike at Griffith Park trails.
I finally had my medal rack mounted and put up my race medals!

From my backyard.  Tomatoes and assorted greens were great this summer.

I was selected for the half marathon.  This will be my third Nike event.
We still have weekends with Evan.  He's been joining us on some of the runs, but walking.  He's a real trooper!
Summer isn't officially over yet.  There's still more beach time to be had and perhaps a concert or two... and maybe put in more time on my feet.

Song from Wednesday, May 8, 2013:
Carry On  - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young


*I'm mostly on Facebook now.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Carry On

In March I ran in three events.  I ran the Sue Krenn 15k, the San Diego Half marathon and the Hot Chocolate 5k.  I was feeling as if I was getting back to "normal" and hitting splits at the Sue Krennn 15K  that I was more accustomed to, unlike how sloth-y I felt last year.  I was feeling really good.  I even clocked in a 2:14:51 for the San Diego half marathon, with in striking distance of some sort of PR, and my half marathon PR is 2:13:11 back in 2007, pre hip surgery. Then I ran the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K.  It's the "fun run" where you get hot chocolate and other goodies at the end of the race, plus a really nice hoodie sweatshirt.  I never  checked out the course map until a couple of weeks before the event.  There were hills on the map, but I live in San Diego.  We're used to training on hills, really steep hills.  I eat hills for breakfast, so what's another couple of hills on a "fun run" 5K course?  After all, people who don't run and small children signed up for this Hot Chocolate Run.  It sounds pretty harmless, right?  I just thought the"fun run" 5K would be a nice little romp in between half marathons.  The 5K kicked my butt and I haven't been the same since.  It wasn't so much the going up hills, even though the non-runners and children had a very tough time with those, it was the steep down hills that did me in.  My hips have been very tight ever since, and I've had to take a little time off and slow down.  I've been attending the track on Tuesday nights for intervals, but I'm not able to speed things up when I need to.  I haven't been running with Lexi, but I still take her on long trail walks, or at least get in a couple of miles walking her in the neighborhood.  I still go to Rehab United once a week, and not really doing a work out, but getting worked on instead.

My next half marathon in the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in about three weeks.  It's a new course, and I was hoping I would be able to PR there, but it looks like a PR will have to wait, and that's OK. There are a lot of fall half marathons, and I have time to build back up again.

Tecolote Trails with Lexi
Pre race at the San Diego Half Marathon.  Still my favorite race.

Post race Hot Chocolate 5K.  Nice swag, but suck-y course.

Finally,  the running community was shaken to  the core with the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
I won't go into what happened or analyze anything about it, since the news and other media has done that already.  Even our coach Paul and a few track club members were interviewed.  Our track club members observed a moment of silence for those affected by the tragic events in Boston.

Song from Saturday, March 2, 2013:
Rescue Me - Aretha Franklin

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Rescue Me

 Meet my new running partner:

After a few inquiries to rescues and several internet searches for specific breeds (Labradors or German Shepherds),  I stumbled upon Pet Finder, which directed me to Wagging Dog Rescue and several lovely professional photos of Lexi.  I wasn't sure how good my chances were for adopting Lexi, but I figured it was worth a try.  A couple of weeks later I finally received a reply from the lady who heads Wagging Dog Rescue and asked me to submit a formal application.  She did mention that there was another family who was interested in Lexi, but she wasn't convinced that they were the right family for such an active dog.   The rescue people liked my application better because they liked that Hubs and I are runners and have a very active lifestyle.  It didn't hurt at all that we have a big back yard.  It wasn't much longer that the date was set for Lexi's foster dad to bring her over to meet.  We all bonded immediately, but she especially bonded with Hubs.  She followed him everywhere.  I kind of felt bad for her foster dad because we could tell he loved her, and that giving her over to us was hard.  He was a little emotional with the good byes.  After a two week "trial" period, the adoption was final and Lexi became a part of our family.  

It's all about the ball.   The concentration is fierce.

A "Lexi-Proof" ball.
4 year old Lexi is VERY active.  We must have a bajillion balls all over the yard now, and she loves to play fetch until our arms give out.  Just as with training a person to run and adding mileage, I'm doing the same with Lexi.  We're up to about 5 miles, but not solid running yet. I'd prefer to call running with Lexi "interval training." I think we'll be up to a solid 5 miles of running soon.  I don't think I'll have her run more than 6 miles at a time once we get to that point, but I need to make sure she can go the whole five without having to slow down for anything -- except a potty stop.  She has turned out to be a great running partner and gets excited when she sees me put on my running gear. 

Lexi gets along with just about everyone, even our cat Lumpy.  They're not snuggle buddies, but they sniff out each other every morning and that's it.   She has been great with kids, as we put her to the Evan and his best friend test.  The three of them wore each other out.  She does bark for her "greeting," which can be intimidating, but it's her way of saying "hello," especially since there's a wagging tail behind that bark.

Lexi's story of being a rescue is all too typical.  She had at least two prior owners and was in either a shelter or the humane society, and was also found as a stray before she ended up at  Wagging Dog Rescue .  She is micro chipped and the rescue was able to trace her prior owners, but no one stepped up.  This broke my heart.  She weighed about 50 pounds when the rescue took her in, and should weight about 75 to 80 pounds.  I'm happy to report that she's almost at her goal weight at 72 pounds at her last vet visit.   

Lexi is definitely at her "fur-ever home" with us.  We're in love.

Waiting for "Daddy" to come home.

Song from January 30, 2013:
Never Grow Up - Taylor Swift


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Never Grow Up

I've heard  that with change comes growth, and if that's the case, my family and I should all be 10 feet tall.

My son  finally got a job and moved out, which make us officially empty nesters, but I think I've seen my son more since he's moved out.  Hubs told him it was OK to come home and do laundry.  I'm OK with that, as long as he does all his own laundry. 

We bid a long  farewell to my husband's father.  The services did not take place right away, but about 8 days later for the rosary, followed by the funeral service the next day, then two days later a trip to a very cold and bleak Griswold, Iowa for the burial.  This was a bit taxing for my mother-in-law, but when it was all over we could sense that she was relieved.  I didn't make the trip to Iowa because I needed to be back at work, but I kept in touch with hubs through texts and nightly phone calls. 

My dog, Logan, had slowed down over the past year. Around the end of November we thought we were going to put her down because she had a couple of days where she couldn't get up, but she bounced back to her usual nose-y self.  Mid January her health suddenly took a turn, and the vet advised us to make her as comfortable as possible.  The day finally came where I had to take her to the Humane Society for euthanasia, but by the time I had filled out the paperwork and paid, she has passed away on her own.

1998 - 2013
The rosary for my father-in-law was that same evening, and, for whatever it's worth, the circumstances made it OK to grieve for both George and Logan.  People understood.  The hard part for me was seeing how heartbroken my son was, losing his grandfather and dog within such a short time.  My son was one of the caretakers for my in-laws and spent a lot of time with my father-in-law, and Logan was mostly our dog together. 

I never expected to be an empty nester and not have a dog.  Yes, I miss my kids and grandson, but I see them all at least once a week, if not more.  It's way too quiet. We still have Lumpy the cat, but he's super quiet until he comes out to eat.  I miss the click-clack of doggy toenails on the hardwood floors in the morning, when the dog would look to see why I wasn't up yet and come to give me a big wet kiss. I miss that she barked at certain noises -- and that made me feel secure. I loved my girl.  I'm already inquiring at dog rescues and at the Humane Society.  Applications have been sent and I've talked to a few people.  Now I just have to be patient and wait. 

My daughter announced that she will be graduating from San Diego State University in May 2013 with her Bachelors Degree. She plans on going for her Masters right away, if she can get in to the program.  When I find out, exactly, what the degree title is I'll post it. It has something to do with theater production arts. 

There are other changes on the horizon, but I can't discuss those until they actually happen.  It's time to grow.  There are good things ahead.  Really.

Song from January 20, 2013
Your Long Journey - Alison Krauss and Robert Plant


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Your Long Journey

The beginning of  2013 starts with a good-bye.  On January 13, 2013, my husband's father passed away peacefully at home.  George Sr. was quite the dynamic guy in his day and always had simultaneous home projects going.  He was either applying decorative tile to the front steps, installing solar panels, refinishing hardwood floors, or planting new trees, amongst other projects.  George was a regular at Home Depot.  One of his most cherished projects was the wine cellar located in the sub floor of his split level home.  The wine cellar had air conditioning years before the rest of the house did.  George worked for years  as a civil engineer for the City of San Diego.  He worked on many projects that we drive on or drive past on a daily or weekly basis.  In his last years he slowed down quite a bit.  It was hard for my husband to see his once very active father slow way down.  His last year was spent seated close to his wife of 62 years, Carlota, holding hands while watching television, or just sitting together. 

At our last track club run, hubs pointed out that we ran on the Ingrahm St. bridges just adjacent to Sea World, a project his father worked on.  I think it was somewhat cathartic for Hubs to run on those bridges. 

"God's given us years of happiness here
Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pains of grief tug at my heart

Oh my darling
My darling
My heart breaks as you take your long journey"

RIP George R. Morton Sr.
July 14, 1923 -  January 13, 2013

Song from Saturday, December 22, 2012
Merry Christmas, Baby - Charles Brown