A Little Trip to the City

When I was in fourth grade, my parents took me to San Francisco. I remember driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting Pier 39, eating chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, and getting a souvenir from China Town. But what I remember most is falling in love with the city. Ever since that trip, I’ve loved San Francisco. Back in southern California I cheered for SF teams (the hubs is still frustrated when I say I’m a Giants and a Padres fan), including cheering for the 49ers at the preseason San Diego game following their defeat of the Chargers in 1995. When we moved to Santa Cruz, I was so excited to be just 90 minutes away from SF. For a brief time, we considered moving to the city but we decided to stay put in Santa Cruz (good decision, love our town and its fun to have SF as a place to visit still). Anytime I have an excuse to make it up the city, I take it. So for the second year in a row, I joined the hubs for part of his time in the city attending WWDC. Last year, I came up for 2 1/2 days, this year it was just a day and a half. But still, so much fun!

My little vacay included good food (Tropisueno, GhirardelliSuper Duper Burger, 21st Amendment Brewery, and The Grove), window shopping (ok a little real shopping too), and some runseeing (my word for sight-seeing during a run, perhaps I could start a business doing this…). On Sunday night we had to enjoy margaritas and Mexican food since we were so close to Tropisueno. But then we were super bad and indulged in a sea salt caramel sundae from Ghirardelli. On Monday, we headed to 21st Amendment Brewery and restaurant. I am a big fan of their beer so I was excited to it out. I decided to try a blonde ale, since its not available outside of the brewery. The Conventional, name of the blonde ale, was really good. I don’t normally seek out blonde ales, so that was a nice surprise. Our table enjoyed several different beers (several of the hubs’ co-workers joined us) and we agreed that the Conventional was good, the IPA fans liked Gigantes IPA, but we did not care for Saison de Voile.

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Danger!

Danger!

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So many choices!

So many choices!

I only had a 6 mile run on my schedule for the time I was in the city. It was an easy run, so I decided to make it fun and take photos along the way. If you follow me on instagram you saw them all but here are some of my faves.

Always a good route for a run

Always a good route for a run

Saving the run over the bridge for the SF Marathon

Saving the run over the bridge for the SF Marathon

Not everyday I see a gold dude walking down the street

Not everyday I see a gold dude walking down the street

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This was my fave photo of the run

Ferry Building

Ferry Building

Cupid's Arrow

Cupid’s Arrow

The hubs did the Apple thing, getting up SUPER early (this is the one time of the year that he’s getting up before 5am and not the other way around) to get into the keynote. (Side note, the Apple fangirl in me is really excited about the new OS, Yosemite, and some of the cool things that will be connecting between Apple devices, and of course the Health integration, let’s hope Strava gets in on that!) For the rest of the week, he’ll be busy learning all the new stuff about iOS 8 and learning a new programming language (that sounds hard!).

But my little trip to the city is over and I made it back in time to vote!

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Don’t forget, today  June 4, is National Running Day! If you are in the Central Coast, join Santa Cruz Endurance and Santa Cruz Running Company for a 6 mile fun run (all paces welcome!). We start at SCRC at 6pm and then will head to Discretion Brewery for some beer to celebrate.

From John, the Running Joke Cartoon artist & SCE member

From John, the Running Joke Cartoon artist & SCE member

What’s your favorite big city? How are you participating in National Running Day?

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!

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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).

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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!