Ninja-ing with SFM Ambassadors (and friends)

Yesterday I drove up to San Francisco to meet up with some super cool people – SFM Ambassadors and their friends/significant others. Eleven (twelve if you count Penny the Pup) of us met at the Marin Headlands to run what’s been named the Ninja Loop. It’s about 11 and a half miles of trails with some serious climbs (according to Strava we climbed 2069 feet), a few steep downhills, amazing views, and lots of photo ops. Since I had run 12 miles the day before, I took this route super easy, spending time to catch up with Chris, Alisyn, and Paulette. I also got to know Matt and  Erin. I had never run in the headlands before but I CANNOT wait to do it again! I mean seriously:

up, up, up

up, up, up

Paulette, Alisyn, and I take a break up the hill

Paulette, Alisyn, and I take a break up the hill

Group photo!

Group photo!

Chris, Erin, and I

Chris, Erin, and I

Heading back down the hill required more photos

Heading back down the hill required more photos

Just before we finished our last mile :)

Just before we finished our last mile :)

After our awesome run, we cleaned up and headed into the city. We met at Southern Pacific Brewing for some food and brews.

No photos of food - I ate that WAY too fast!

No photos of food – I ate that WAY too fast!

After running in the sun all morning, the patio felt mighty chilly – so I had to break out the super warm jacket!

brr!

brr!

Those who conquered the headlands were joined by several other ambassadors and their friends/siblings/etc: Becky, Andrew, Tricia, Taylor, and Scott. It was so fun to chat with old friends and meet some new ones as well, especially those who I have chatted with over Twitter and finally got to meet in person.

Food, brews, and runners - what could be better?

Food, brews, and runners – what could be better?

Overall it was a great day! Thanks Chris for organizing such a fun day!!

Good looking group of ambassadors!

Good looking group of ambassadors!

Want to get in on the fun? Register for the SF Marathon (marathon, 2 half marathons, and a 5k) and save with discount code: DSC10TSFM2014A59.

(Thanks to Paulette, Alisyn, Chris, and Erin for some of these photos)

Mermaid 5k and Exciting News

Over the weekend, I ran the Mermaid 5k in San Francisco. I sort of considered racing and seeing what I could do, but it wasn’t the right race for that. The Mermaid races are great for runners trying out racing or having good support while you run. They give out great swag (cute shirt and necklaces) and winners can get some good stuff too (my friend ended up with some nice Sport Basement and Whole Foods gift cards).

Nice new shirt

Medallion

Leslie and I got to the race about an hour before the start. We hung out in the car to stay warm and then jogged to the start for our warm up run. We found a SUPER long line at the porta potties so we jogged back to where we parked to use that bathroom. We still had a pretty decent wait and then jogged back to the start. By the time we got there, the race was just about to start and we couldn’t really seed ourselves. So the first half mile or so, I sprinted to get where I wanted to be in the race. Well that was dumb because then I burned myself out and couldn’t maintain a very good pace after that. (Also, in my hurry I didn’t start my watch so I have no idea what my splits were.) I finished at 22:20-ish and got a third age group placement (got a nice little hat for that). While not a race or even close to PR, it was a good little tempo run.

My 3rd place age group finish and Leslie's overall win.

My 3rd place age group finish and Leslie’s overall win.

After the race, Leslie completed a cool down run by heading to Starbucks and breakfast. Then we hung out for the awards because Leslie won the race! Then it was time to head back to Santa Cruz because I had a lot of packing to work on … which leads me to my good news…

As of this morning, the hubs and I are HOMEOWNERS! (This also explains why I have been more quiet on the blog, teaching, running, and home buying means not much time for blogging.) We are very excited to take this next step and love the neighborhood we are moving into – we even have friends who live across the street and up the block. I can’t wait until we are settled in and ready to go.

Sami is ready to move!

Sami is ready to move!

Wine, Espresso, and Running: The 2013 Nike Women’s (half) Marathon

This past weekend, I ran the Nike Women’s (Half) Marathon for the fourth year in a row. I’ve tried to race this event in the past but have never been successful. However, last year I ran it for fun with my friend Leslie and it reignited my love for NWM. So, as I wrote about in my recent Fit Friday post, I had to fun run it again this year. This time, I had several friends with me and we had a great time!

Image 2

Hair ties for the weekend

We headed up Saturday morning. I had been a little worried about traffic due to the now-resolved BART strike, but we had no problem getting into the city and finding our hotel (Wyndham Parc 55, just 2 blocks from the starting line!). After a little wait to park the car, we checked in to our room,  dropped off our bags, and headed to the expo. There was no line and we were able to get our bibs super quickly. We had to wait a bit to get our free gift (shoelaces) and find some other necessities. By then we were starving and headed off to find some lunch. We spent the rest of our afternoon shopping, drinking espresso, eating, and drinking wine. It was pretty perfect. We finished off the day with some sushi and more wine and then tried to get some sleep before our 5am wake up.

Wine in the afternoon

Wine in the afternoon

Keeping the marathon girl off her feet!

Keeping the marathon girl off her feet!

Prepped for race morning

Prepped for race morning

We woke up easily and ate some breakfast. Ashley was running the full marathon, so we really had to make sure that she ate enough (it’s not fun to force feed yourself so early in the morning). Then we headed down to lobby to meet the final runner in our group. I was really impressed by the organization this year. Nike really made an effort to keep the giant corrals separate and even had the specific gear check in each wave. This meant no lines and we were in our wave before we knew it. (Seriously this is really important, there were 30,000 registered runners this year!).

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

Race morning (compliments of NWM FB)

Race morning (compliments of NWM FB)

We all went into this race with no goals, just a long run with lots of other women (and a few dudes). We kept the pace pretty easy (I had an average pace of 8:24). We stopped for port-a-potties a few times, walked through the water stations, and the orange slices station. We were bummed that wasn’t a bra exchange this year! (Also I have to say I miss Safeway and Ghirardelli as sponsors, I missed the reusable bags and chocolate). But it was still a great morning. The miles flew by and I was a little sad as we rounded the corner to finish. Our official finishing time was 1:57 (but with the stops it was 1:51). Not my fastest time at NWM by any means (but also not my slowest).

Finish area

Finish area

After the race, we picked up some goodies (love the beach towel) including the coveted Tiffany’s necklace. Then we headed back to the hotel. We had hoped to make it back to the finish line to cheer on Ashley with the full, but we didn’t give ourselves enough time. So, we headed to the Cheesecake Factory on the Macy’s building because it has such great views and enjoyed our mimosas, bloody marys, and brunch. After a little more espresso , we were heading back to Santa Cruz.

X for 10 years of NWM

X for 10 years of NWM

Brunch!

Brunch!

Good view from Cheesecake Factory

Good view from Cheesecake Factory

This was the perfect weekend, spent with some of my favorite people! Thanks Leslie, Hillary, Trinity, and Ashley for the great time!

(Photo compliments of NWM FB page)

(Photo compliments of NWM FB page)

 

The Amazing First Half of the San Francisco Marathon

Finally, the last post in my trilogy this week – the race itself! This marked my 3rd year running an SFM event. In 2011, I ran the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon and last year I ran the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon. In 2011 I had a terrible, hard race. I wasn’t trained for the hills, I was dehydrated. Last year was a totally different experience – I ran a PR in a tutu! This year I had originally planned to run the full marathon and complete the 52.4 challenge but after L.A. I decided to run the 1st half for the second time. And this time was also my first time running SFM as an ambassador. Also, due to the America’s Cup, the race was held in June instead of July (a benefit for me since Santa Cruz’s Wharf to Wharf would have fallen on the same day this year and a benefit to all runners since June is not as foggy as July!).

Elise and I woke up around 3:45 and headed over to the start line around 4:15am. (Elise’s race didn’t start until 7:45 – she was an awesome friend for coming with me so early!) We rocked our SFM Ambassador singlets and sparkle skirts – twins again! We had planned to park in Embarcadero Plaza but strangely the parking lots were not open yet. However, we lucked out and found free parking just a block away. This year security had been heightened after the Boston bombings. Elise and I went through at least 3 security checks (we could have gone through just one but happened to go in and out of the race gates as we made our way to Perry’s). The ambassadors had been invited to be part of the VIP program. This meant we could hang out in Perry’s before and after our races. It had a real bathroom and some good pre-race food. I had half a bagel with a small spread of peanut butter and a little water. While in line in the bathroom, I chatted with one of the Thirty Birds runners. I have friends who know the owner, Verity, so I complimented the runner’s cute pink kit. She ended up being Anna Bretan, the winner of the race who also set a woman’s course record of 2:42:26!

Perry's Pre Race Breakfast

Perry’s Pre Race Breakfast

Wave 2 Runners Ready to Go!

Wave 2 Runners Ready to Go!

Just 10 minutes before my start time (5:32), I dropped off my gear at the gear check. (SFM has the BEST gear check! They bus your gear to the finish line at Golden Gate Park and it literally took me 5 seconds to drop it off and 5 seconds to pick it up again!) Then I headed in Wave 2 and before I knew it, I was off running. My running coach had given me a very helpful plan to approach this race, so I’ll organize my recap in the way that he planned my race.

Miles 1-5 Goal: stay conservative in the first mile but get on pace for what I could run a flat half in (no faster than 7:35 but aim for low 7:40s).
I really focused my energy on keeping my first couple miles slow-ish. Like many runners, I always start out too fast. Not this time! Go me! This is such a fun part of the course – running down the Embarcadero and through the Wharf. The little hill into Fort Mason allowed a nice climb and I felt very strong through it. This section ends as we finish through Crissy Field and into the Presido, beginning our climb to Golden Gate Bridge.
Mile times: 7:44, 7:55, 7:43, 7:40, 7:37 (love that I was brought down each mile’s time after the 2nd one).

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 8.33.08 AM

Miles 6-10 Goal: Hills, so try to maintain same effort as miles 1-5 but not to focus on the pace as much. On the “flat” sections, drop back to the pace.  Done and done! I felt really strong going up the hills and tried to let the downhills push me. After climbing up the bridge I just enjoyed that part of the race. We had beautiful weather and the view from GGB was BEAUTIFUL! I also had the chance on the bridge to see several other SFM ambassadors running as well as Pavement Runner. Soon enough I was off the bridge and heading back into the city. I felt really good during this portion of the race, strong going up the hills and ready to “race” the last 3 miles.
Miles: 8:33 (there’s that hill climb!), 7:50, 7:52, 8:01, 7:56

Running down mile 11

Running down mile 11

Miles 11-13 Goal: Push the downhill on mile 11 and dig in the last two miles. Check! I had so much fun flying down mile 11, it’s almost an entire mile down. I had so much fun! Then it was time to dig in – for reals. The last two miles are up, up, up with just small little recovery sections as we make our way towards Golden Gate Park. Every time I saw another climb, I got tired just thinking about it – but I pushed through. I wish I would have taken more advantage of those small recovery sections – but eh, such is life. Around mile 11, the pack of runners I was with got moved to the alternate course (something unique to SFM that allows traffic to move and keeps the course from getting too congested). This made me feel like I was at the front of the pack! Soon we were in the park and at the finish line.
Miles: 7:26, 8:21, 8:41. Last .3 of a mile I ran a 7:04 pace.

Finish!

Finish!

Finish time 1:45:29. I came in 23 in my age group, 54th women, and 1st finisher from Santa Cruz. I also finished 23 minutes faster than the first time I ran this course! Out of curiosity I  compared the top finishers times’ for the 1st and 2nd half marathons. The women runners for the 2nd half finished over 10 minutes faster than the 1st half – wow that really says something about the difficulty of this course! And that means I can consider my time 10 minutes faster, right? Haha!

finish time

After the race, I picked up my gear and my Irish coffee, yum! I boarded a bus back to the starting line where I went to find Elise. I just missed her finishing her 5k. We headed back to Perry’s where a breakfast and lunch buffet had been set up. At 8:15 I had my second breakfast! After that, we headed over to the marathon/2nd half finish line to see Keith, Chris K. and Chris M. finish! Chris M. set a sweet new PR! (Read his race recap here.) I hung out with several other ambassadors after the race but soon it was time to head back to Santa Cruz.

Post Race Refreshments

Post Race Refreshments

2nd Breakfast

2nd Breakfast

Post Race Twins!

Post Race Twins!

This was such a fun race! While I realize I might seem biased, being an ambassador for the race and all, but SFM puts on one of the best organized events/races around. It is always clear where you should be, there is great course support with volunteers passing out waters/electrolytes along the way and making sure you stay on course. I love how organized and regulated the start waves are and the finishing chute was a breeze to get through! Perhaps next year, I’ll finally run the full marathon!

Swag

Swag

So, will you be running SFM 2014? The race returns to its July date (7/27/2014) and registration is already open!! And you can also register for their new event, the Berkeley Half Marathon too!
Either way, I hope to see you there!

My San Francisco Week

This is the first post of three to recap what was an amazing week spent in my favorite city and place – San Francisco! It began with me joining the hubs on a work trip and ending with running one of the best races in the world (that’s not hyperbole), The San Francisco Marathon (well I ran the half but whatevs, still awesome!). Because so much happened this week I am writing one post for my time with the hubs, one post the SFM expo, and a final post on the race itself. Get ready for some awesomeness!

On June 9, Kevin and I headed up to the city because he was attending WWDC (Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference – yeah he’s cool like that). Since hotel and his food was covered by his work and my classes had already taken their finals, we had decided I would come up for the first half of the conference (I had some commitments in the Cruz on Wednesday and Thursday).  We got into the city easy peasy (love when the traffic gods are working in our favor!) and met up with some of his co-workers for dinner at Tropisueno. I had eaten here years ago with Tawny and was stoked to return. I indulged in a tasty mango chile margarita.

margarita

Adventurous Margarita

On Monday, Kevin had to get SUPER early to be able to attend the Keynote. This is where they announce all the super cool new stuff (this year it included new OSX (Mavericks, love the name!), new iOS, and the Mac Pro). And I slept in. What a role reversal! Monday was a running rest day so I was hung out in the hotel room with our awesome view and watched the Keynote streaming live online. After lunch (a super yummy veggie burger from Super Duper Burgers), I indulged in some serious shopping: Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Lululemon, and lots of window shopping too. I had been saving up a little shopping money just for this and I didn’t do any crazy damage (half of what I purchased was on sale: score!).

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

Tuesday it was time to return to running. I had 800s on my schedule but I wasn’t near a track, so I decided to run around AT&T park. Running the loop around the park was almost perfect for one set of 800m followed by the 400m recovery. Unfortunately, the nice distance did not result in a good workout. All my 800s were about 10 seconds slower than I had wanted them to be – boo! Oh well. After my lackluster workout, I had brunch at The Grove (where they serve Santa Cruz Coffee, Verve!). I spent the afternoon at the California Historical Society and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. I ended all the fun with some ice cream in the park, yum!

Brunch at The Grove, yum!

Brunch at The Grove, yum!

Ice cream in the park

Ice cream in the park

Both nights Kevin and I met up for dinner with his co-worker Mike. Monday we had some casual food from Jasper’s Corner Tap and Tuesday we had Indian food from Amber. I love eating in SF! We were lucky too because everything was in walking distance. The night I left Kevin also enjoyed beer at 21st Amendment Brewery, sad I missed out on this one!

Wednesday morning I took a running tour of the bay. I started at the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero. I ran Pier 39 at the Fisherman’s Wharf. I love running it early in the morning. Seeing it empty is my favorite way to see the classic tourist attraction. I stopped to photograph a few sea lions and enjoy the view of Alcatraz. While Tuesday morning had been grey, Wednesday was perfectly clear. What a great day for a tourist run! Then I headed toward Fort Mason, stopping to grab some nice shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. I miscalculated the distance of the Wharf when I added on for my turn around, this meant that I finished my 8 miles before I made it back to the hotel. So I enjoyed a nice cool down walk up Market Street – no complaints here! That afternoon I headed back to Santa Cruz… only to return Friday for the SFM expo!

Some photos from my Wednesday morning run:

Empty Wharf - so peaceful

Empty Wharf – so peaceful

The Rock

The Rock

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

skyline

Clear Day!

Clear Day!

sail boats and GGB

What are you favorite things to do when visiting SF? Do you run on vacation?