Highlights of 2014

Well, it’s nearly the end of the year and it’s been three months since I have posted on the blog. Life got crazy busy … teaching, TAing, researching, writing (sort of), and running means no time for blogging. And as I realize this, I am contemplating ending this blog… still undecided on that. But before I do that, I thought I’d touch on some highlights of the year.

Trails & Hills
When 2014 started, I opted not to focus on speed and PRing and race goals…but instead I wanted to log more miles on trails and learn to be stronger on hills. And while I did train for races, whenever I could I made a concerted effort to get out on the trails and climb (remember my Fit Friday posts?). Climb and run trails – I did! With amazing friends (Jenn B., Hillary, Leslie, and the Bobs) I learned new trail routes and got more comfortable off the road. And as of today (Dec. 29) I have climbed 91,250 feet during my 2,175 miles this year. Success! And as the rest of this post will show, those hills and trails paid off with PRs in every distance (in fact I PRed twice in the half and 10k if you count relays…)

Relays
Speaking of relays, I ran several relays with both SFM Ambassadors and SCE teammates. From Ragnar to the Capitola Half to a duathlon and triathlon and finally the recent Christmas Relay in San Francisco, I have run more relays than ever before! And it has been so much fun. My last relay, the Christmas Relay was a great way to cap off a relay year – with 3 teammates and a goal to race at a sub 7 minute pace. (I succeeded, 4.5 miles at 6:55, woohoo!) Running in a relay takes the focus off the solo sport that running often is and brings in a team element that often can push you to meet goals you previously thought impossible. Plus, how much fun is it to start and finish as a team!

SCE at the Christmas Relays

SCE at the Christmas Relays

PRs
As I mentioned before, I PRed in the 5k, 10k, half, and marathon distances. This was an incredible feeling, especially after 2013 not really catching any PRs. I’ve written about my most of my PRs (Super Bowl 10k, Santa Cruz Half, Run in the Name of Love 5k, and SFM, link below) but I never got around to posting on my most recent at the Big Sur Half Marathon on the Monterey Bay, so I guess I’ll post a little about this now.

Best views at Big Sur

Best views at Big Sur

As readers of my blog know, the Big Sur Half is my favorite half marathon and I’ve had great races there in the past (2011, 2012). Last year, I aimed for it to be my first sub 1:40 half but it just wasn’t my day. I decided to take this year off and run the inaugural Disney Avengers Half Marathon instead. Well, sometimes life works in funny ways. Due to an unforeseen and unexpected issue (not necessary for the blog post) we couldn’t make the drive to Southern California. We transferred our hotel reservation for 2015 and RunDisney was awesome, letting me defer my entry. I felt really fit and wanted to still race 13.1 and thought I’d check to see if the usually immensely popular Big Sur half still had any entries… they did! After going back and forth, I decided to drive down to the expo and register at almost literally the last minute. Race morning, I left early for the 6:55am start, giving me little time to get caught up in typical race nerves. I felt like I ran a nearly perfect race. I started out a tad fast, but nothing too crazy and made my way through the first couple miles, which weave through Monterey’s downtown to the coast through Cannery Row and to the Coast (miles 1-3: 7:13, 7:36, 7:24). This part of the course stays by the coast for a bit and then heads up the most steep hill (67 feet) into Pacific Grove and then back to the coast. Then the race stays on the coast until its turnaround, a little past mile 8. Coming out of Pacific Grove, Kevin (Paulette’s husband) came up beside me and we ran together for a bit. Then fellow SCE team member Jeff passed me and just before the turnaround I saw another SCE member, Benoit (using the race as a final long run before CIM), heading back toward the finish. These guys really helped me stay motivated during the middle miles! (Miles 3-8:  7:32, 7:13, 7:30, 7:24, 7:15) After the turnaround (BTW I love that the turnaround is so late so you only have about 5ish miles  left!), we turned to a massive headwind, boo! But with the views of the Monterey Bay, who can really complain? I also saw Paulette as she made her way to the turnaround. I had been looking for one other SCE member, Jose, but I didn’t see him until the finish (because he was just a few steps behind me the entire race!). I definitely felt tired but knew I should be able to catch my previous PR time. I  had a bit of mind game coming back into Cannery Row, as that was where I really fell apart last year. But I powered through and before I knew it, I was at the finish (Miles 9-13.1: 7:28, 7:23, 7:29, 7:15, 6:56, last .10 37 seconds). This meant I finished at 1:37:51! That was a 2 minute PR for the half… only 7 months after I set my previous PR! I was elated. I texted Leslie first because she had been my rock for the half last year and I knew she would be stoked for me. Then I texted the hubs and family. The only bummer was I was pretty much by myself… then I saw Jose, Sean, and Benoit! And that made me pretty happy.

PR = Happy Meg

PR = Happy Meg

Catching that Unicorn
Like many runners, one of my ultimate goals was qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I tried 3 times from December 2012 through August 2013 and still remained 7+ minutes away. After trying so hard, I decided not to make that my goal in 2014. I purposely registered for SFM knowing that it would not be a good BQ course (hoping to remove that pressure). But take the pressure off, combined with great coaching (thanks Aaron!) and lots of hills meant that my 2014 marathon was my strongest and fastest yet and allowed me to finally catch that unicorn. (Read that post HERE.) In September I registered for Boston and got my confirmation about a week later. This definitely tops my running highlights for 2014!

BQ Smile!

BQ Smile!

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Everything Else
There were lots of other awesome non-running moments from 2014. Some of my closest friends got married; so the hubs and I had bachelor/bachelorette parties and beautiful weddings to attend. I was able to come home to visit my family more times than I usually do. And Elise came to visit twice this year! Sadly, both Hillary and Jenn moved away, but I was able to visit them both – so that’s not too terrible, I guess. And while Leslie had her share of injuries, she has been such an inspiration in her recovery. Speaking of inspirations, Ashley’s Barre Studio opened in October and is amazing!! I love going to the classes (runners, this is a great asset to your running, I promise!). And the hubs and I have been hosts to friends and family to our still-new-to-us house. It’s been a great year!

2015
I’m looking forward to 2015. I’m a new ambassador for Team Run the Bay (Represent Running). Our first big race is the popular 408k… looking to register? save 10% with the code: RUNTHEBAY-MG

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As far as races go, I’ve only got my eye on a couple. Of course, I’m running the 508k. I’ll also be running the Super Bowl 10k for the 6th year in a row. And I’m excited to run She is Beautiful in March. I haven’t run this race since its first year in 2011. And I was lucky to be a part of their new video:

Every day is a choice… from She.is.beautiful on Vimeo.

And of course, I’ll be focusing on Boston. The hubs and I are both excited! We’ve never been to Boston so even without the race this is going to be a fun trip… but to run the famous Boston Marathon makes it that much more special!

So, what have been your favorite 2014 moments? And what are you looking forward to in 2015?

When Running Does More

If you read this blog regularly (ok let’s face it, even if this is your first visit here – Welcome!) you know I’m a runner and I do it because I love it. It’s a great way to keep in shape and to release that competitive spirit. But sometimes, you can do a little more with all those steps on the pavement, trails, track, or treadmill.

This past week I finally participated in the Mizuno Baton project. Have you heard of it? It’s an app you download on your phone (both for iPhone & Android users). You run with your phone for a week and it tracks your mileage. For each mile you run, Mizuno is donating a dollar to Back on My Feet. Back on My Feet gets homeless people running:

Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living.

The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many Members obtaining independence through employment, job training and housing.

Through dedication and hard work, Residential Members (those experiencing homelessness) earn the opportunity to create a new road for themselves.   Running leads to personal transformation and dedication to the program leads to access to training, employment and housing resources.  Through community and corporate support, the program strives to change the perception of homelessness.

I love that Mizuno is doing this. And after your week, you can “pass the baton” to another runner – spreading the charitable love!

My week with Baton is just about up!

My week with Baton is just about up!

And of course, there are others ways to do something charitable with running. The most common is to fundraise for a race. Team in Training is probably the most well-known way to do this. If you’ve run a race, you have seen these awesome guys and gals in purple who have raised a significant chunk of cash to benefit the  Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. But there are other ways too.

For example, for the third year in a row, The SF Marathon has opened 100 spots for runners to run 52.4 miles (yep, that’s the equivalent of two marathons, runners run the marathon course backwards before the actual marathon and then join in to run it again!). Those who participate in this extra long race, raise at least $1000 for the charity of their choice. No, I’m not doing this but I know someone who is and is donating to a cause that is near and dear to my heart: helping animals! Pavement Runner is a dog lover like me and is raising money for the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And not only is he doing this, he’s making it fun for those who help him along the way. You can win a HALO belt or pair of ProCompression socks if you donate. Pretty awesome right? To donate & enter the raffle go HERE. To just donate to the cause go HERE.

Photo courtesy of TSFM website

Photo courtesy of TSFM website

Do you run for charity? What other ways do you think runners could help support causes important to us?

 

Fit Friday: Checking in with Goals

You might recall back in the beginning of the year, I wrote in my first Fit Friday of 2014 about some of my running goals. Mostly, I wanted to include more trails and more hills in my runs. So I thought now that we are in Spring and just about done with the third month of the year, it would be a good time to check with those goals.

Hills: I’m proud to say that I have really been rocking this goal! I have included hills on least one (usually more) of my runs each week. I’ve been adding the run up to UCSC as part of my track workout as well. (And you know what hills are good for? Training for the SF Marathon! don’t forget to register and save $10 using this code: DSC10TSFM2014A59)
So hills – check!

Elevation from my weekly track workouts

Elevation from my weekly track workouts

Year to date stats, I love seeing all that elevation gain (I know it pales in comparison to my ultra runner friends, but I'm still proud!)

Year to date stats, I love seeing all that elevation gain (I know it pales in comparison to my ultra runner friends, but I’m still proud!)

Trails: Ok, I haven’t been as successful with this goal. My last trail run was at the beginning of February (eek!). So gotta get back on that goal for sure. I am running in the Wilder trails a bit tomorrow so that will be a good thing. Trails can be a little tough when all your training buddies are focused on Boston (or until last weekend LA), and are looking to get in MP miles. And I don’t run trails by myself. But I’m not letting this goal go, so don’t you worry!

Requisite motivational quote :)

Requisite motivational quote :)

How are your running goals coming along as we move into the second quarter of 2014?

Fit Friday: Valentine’s Day Edition

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I love the heart day. I realize that it can be a little silly for people to be told what day to celebrate love – but I say, heck why not celebrate? That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate other days too :) I’ll be celebrating the holiday with the hubs in Tahoe, the place we spent our first heart day 10 years ago. How fun!

shoeheart

Well, I also had to celebrate my other love – running. So at 5am this morning, I headed out to pound out 14 (easy peasy) miles on the 14th (thanks ladies who joined me for the first part and Gaylia for being my long-run-Friday partner in crime).

Do you celebrate the day of St. Valentine? Did you get in your workout too?

Why I am Exhausted

Ok, I’m not really exhausted but my current Monday/Wednesday schedule sure does make me tired. I’m usually ready for bed at about 8pm. So I thought I’d share my insanity with you all :) (I know you really care about my daily schedule and all). So here is a step-by-step set of instructions to feel completely exhausted at the end of the day (for the moms out there – you are amazing! I’m pretty sure adding kids to this schedule would result in permanent zombie status):

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  • Step 1a: Wake up (but really, really want to go back to sleep)
  • Step 1b: Really wake up (yep, that early morning run so did not happen)
  • Step 2: Teach not-awake students about the Gilded Age
  • Step 3: Grade/prep (devour Picky Bar, #teamgreen, here)
  • Step 4: Teach slightly more awake but hungry students about the colonial period in America
  • Step 5: Race home to eat lunch/walk the pups
  • Step 5a: Convince self to take the pups on the walk after making the grave mistake of sitting on the sofa
  • Step 6: Lecture at UCSC
  • Step 7: Run (because oh yeah, that early morning run did not happen)
  • Step 8: Starving (late day runs make me so hungry) – eat whatever I find as I make dinner, eat with hubs.
  • Step 9: Finish grading whatever didn’t get finished in step 3.
  • Step 10: Watch Olympics with hubs. Oh hello crazy ice skating costumes
  • Step 11: Drag self up to bed to avoid falling asleep on the sofa (or wake up from falling asleep on sofa)
Tried out my new Skechers Go Rides on Monday's run - LOVE them! Can't wait to run in them at Ragnar :)

Tried out my new Skechers Go Rides on Monday’s run – LOVE them! Can’t wait to run in them at Ragnar :)

 

I like to think that surviving Mondays and Wednesdays mean I’m pretty hardcore. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I saw this BuzzFeed link on FB this morning and it was definitely inspiring/reassuring.

Thankfully this will only last until mid-March, when the UCSC quarter comes to an end. But still.