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2015 Races!

Now that the holidays are over (anyone else not yet recovered?), it’s time to think about 2015 plans. Last year I had inadvertently packed my schedule towards the end of the year with races and work (last minute SE Asia trip + getting to run Nike Womens 1/2 marathon for Nuun 2 days after getting back from India + a Spartan Sprint the weekend after that AND US 1/2 marathon the weekend after that)!

Here’s what I have on the schedule so far this year (registered for):
January 11 – Hot Chocolate 15k San Francisco: I got picked (or notified, who knows) that I was an ambassador again just weeks before the race. This didn’t give me much time to advertise or train (and train over the holidays?! HA!), so this is a very last minute race. I was injured last year when I ran the race, so I basically just want to do better than that. Low standards, I know. –> and finished! I did much better than last year and felt good. Still didn’t eat the chocolate afterwards (I’m horrible, I know) and didn’t have to hobble back to the car after the race. WINNING!
March 29 – Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 marathon: 3rd year in a row.
May 17 – Bay to Breakers: we don’t ever “race” this one, but wear fun costumes or outfits and just have fun.  A couple years we walked it, people watching, and then last year we ran most of it (fun pace, still not racing). I think we might do that again, but start in an earlier corral so that we don’t have to stop so often with the drunkies.
October 23-24- Ragnar Relay Napa Valley: 3rd year in a row captaining an awesome team for this race.
November 8 – Golden Gate 1/2: formerly known as the US 1/2. I ran this race for the first time in 2014 and had a great time! Small race in a big city, easy logistics and great course!

Maybe races that I just have decided on/registered for yet:
July 17-18 – Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage: We’re not registered yet, but this is going to happen. We’ve said we would do it for a couple of years and now that Suze moved back to WA, we’re going to gather a team of Washingtonians and our Napa Ragnar team alumni.
July 26 – San Francisco 1/2 marathon: I did the 2nd half last year and if I do the 1st half this year, I get an extra medal (cuz it’s all about the bling!) My body would be uber tired from running Ragnar the weekend before and traveling, but I’d just race this one for fun.
October – Nike Women’s 1/2: Only if the opportunity arises to run it again, but I just can’t justify paying $180+ again for the race.
November 1 – Spartan Sprint in Sacramento: I ran the Super (8+ miles) a couple months ago during that all race and travel craziness and am thinking about doing another one, but keeping it at the Sprint (3+) mile level. I actually don’t mind the extra mileage, since I love to run, but DANG THOSE OBSTACLES ARE IMPOSSIBLE!

What do you have on your calendar for this year?

Weekend Wind-down

Super busy weekend! I’m normally at home during the weekends and only go back into the city if I have a race. After commuting 4+ hours a day Monday through Friday, going back into SF is usually the last thing I want to do!

Friday night was a long day at work, but at least I had something to look forward to: Welcome Back Gala for our students! The theme was Old Hollywood: a Black and White Affair. This was the first event for our new Events coordinator and she did a phenomenal job!
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I said I wasn’t going to drink all weekend since I had a race on Sunday but I ended up having WAY too much wine! I had pre-arranged to sleep over at a coworkers so I could enjoy the party and not try to drive home super late.

On Saturday we slept in and then met a couple of our old coworkers for brunch at Hard Knox Cafe in the Richmond. I miss those ladies so much! Of the core four, 3 of us left our office within 3 weeks of each other so it’s been hard adjusting to not seeing them all day, every day. That afternoon I drove to Oakland to watch the Seahawks Playoff game with another friend from Washington. In case you live under a rock or could care less, WE WON!
IMG_7767.JPG SO excited/nervous for the next game. I’ll probably vomit, who knows.

I stayed the night at her place since we’re going to the race together.

Sunday morning we woke up earlier than either of us wanted, and just kept telling each other, “so a 15k is a legitimate race. Maybe we should have prepared for this.” Both of us registered for the Hot Chocolate race without second thought and it was one of those that just sneaks up on you, you know?

We somehow managed to find parking within a mile of the start line (most of the race is run in Golden Gate Park) and it was coooold. Thankfully the start was easy to find, I only waited about 30 seconds for a portapottie, and making our way into our corral was a breeze. WIN! The 15k started at 8:20am and even though we were quite a few corrals back, we crossed the start line at 8:37am. We both said we’d just run however our bodies felt. If we needed to walk, we’d walk. But it felt decent so we kept the train rolling. A mile in I was getting hot and before the mile 4 marker, we both had to pull over to take off our long sleeves, switch our bibs to our shortsleeve top and tied the long sleeve around our waists. The weather was gorgeous once we started running, so a perfect race!
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How was your weekend?

India trip part 1: Mumbai

So I have some good news! I mentioned in my Myanmar and Thailand posts that all of my photos were lost and I was super bummed. I gave my uncle the phone and he somehow worked some super stealth magic that both T-Mobile and the phone repair place are unaware of AND HE SAVED MY PHOTOS!! I’ll do another post after this one with the recovered ones from Myanmar and Thailand. WOOT WOOT!

India was my longest stay on this work trip and was BUSY. We were pretty much going non-stop, most days from about 6am to 9pm (and a couple later days as well). Some weekend days were used as travel days between cities, and some days we flew in the morning and traveled straight to a school from the airport. In case you’re wondering, airports in India are all kinds of ridiculous, and when traveling within the country, the weight allowances aren’t that high, aka most of the people on our trip had to pay extra every.single.flight. I was lucky and only had to pay twice because I had to carry brochures during a couple of our flights when boxes didn’t arrive to the hotel on time, and got reimbursed for the baggage fees as well.

We started in Mumbai and while I had been in SE Asia for about about a week or so, India was a completely different experience. I knew the economic differences were great, but was blown away when I saw it in person. In all the cities we visited (and I know there are far more towns/cities that are worse off), I noticed it the most in Mumbai.  The slums were very apparent and everywhere. There were so many people begging and living on the street, most heartbreaking off all were the kids.  They might not have spoken any English, but the universal hand gesture for hungry /food breaks your heart.  You would see these huge, expensive high rise buildings, then a row of trees and shrubbery.  Just on the other side of the shrubbery, a mere block away, were the slums.

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 20141006_144335While driving around, we saw these huge bookshelves lining the streets – turns out it’s basically an open-air library of used books. You can borrow them for super cheap and there were literally THOUSANDS of them – this book-lover just wanted to run over and smell all the pages (I’m a weirdo, I know). Buuutttt they wouldn’t let me off the bus to publicly embarrass myself (I’m almost positive they were more worried about me embarrassing them!)

 

That night a few of us that hadn’t been to Mumbai before wanted to go see the Gateway of India, so we took an hour-long taxi ride south to find it.  It’s located next to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was attacked by gunmen in 2008, so we headed there to see it as well as pay our respects.

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Example #19845 of how I can’t take selfies if I’m also trying to get something in the background as well.

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Much better standard Sheena pose.

About 10 seconds after taking the below picture, everyone stopped looking at the Gateway and turned to look at us. After being circled by at least 40 Indian men, we decided it was probably time to go.

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We walked a little further to where there was a street market (we love those!) and walked around, trying to see if there was anything small enough to shove into our carryons without breaking our backs.

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In case you were wondering what it looks like to sweat your face off in India in October, this is it. I like to claim that it’s just my skin glistening off the “gold” of the earrings I’m contemplating buying.

Then went to Leopold Cafe, one of the first sites attacked in the series of attacks in Mumbai in 2008 to grab a drink and some snacks, since we had been out all day, and still had an hour+ taxi ride ahead of us, to get back to the hotel by 10pm. Naturally, when you have  a bunch of people with you combined with an hour taxi ride, you shove as many people as you can into one taxi. Not sure how it happened, but the shortest and tallest person in our group ended up sitting in the back back of the taxi, aka the sideways seats. Who needs legroom anyway?

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And then you close the back door and it just gets that much more cozy. I’m grateful that we all had a drink at the Leopold Cafe to calm our nerves for that taxi ride.

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I said I would never complain about California traffic again. Then I got home and after 3 days of commuting, I complained.

Some days we were super famished and hadn’t spent any money because one of the schools provided us a box lunch.  Since we each had the food stipend provided by work, we decided to treat ourselves one night in Mumbai.  We asked the concierge at the hotel for a recommendation and he sent us over to Hakkasan - we gave him a high five upon our return. The below picture does NOT do this food justice. I ordered truffle dumplings and they seriously melted in my mouth – they were so delicious and rich and amazing. When I’m a millionaire, I’m going to eat these all the time.  Annnnnddd I just discovered there is a Hakkasan in San Francisco, so I might be in trouble haha

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… next up is Madurai, Kodaikanal and Mahabalipuram! Don’t forget to subscribe via Bloglovin’ (on the right sidebar) so you can see the most recent posts as they go live!

Team Nuun

After 3+ years of the Nuun love, I was selected to be a Nuun Ambassador earlier this year, for the remainder of 2014 (you have to reapply each year).  I reapplied in November and crossed my fingers that they still thought I was pretty awesome… and they did!  Even though the program is restructured for 2015 into a couple different “levels,” I’ve been selected to be part of Team Nuun!

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So pumped to be a part of the program for another year, and to see the awesome changes that are coming! Nuun has provided me with some great opportunities to run successfully, healthy and happy in the last few years and I can’t wait to give back!

… and since it’s New Year’s Eve, make sure to keep your Nuun handy! Not only is it great for active peeps, a little birdie *cough cough* told me it’s also great to help prevent hangovers and if you already have one (no judgement) to kick it to the curb. Make some delicious Nuun cocktails to hydrate while getting your drank on!

Spartan Super Sacramento recap

Just a quick recap of my first Spartan race!  I actually won a race entry, and had a friend (and her husband) driving up from San Diego to complete the Sacramento race.  She is a hardcore OCR-er and is a member of the Weeple Army.  The Weeple Army is a mud/obstacle course group for people of all abilities and levels (thankfully!). They only have one goal: to have FUN! I was super worried about doing the race because 1) this was my first big OCR. I had done the Survivor mud run earlier in the year but that was only about 3.1 miles, the weather was good and the obstacles were easy.  2) Instead of signing up for the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles and about 15 obstacles), I thought “I can do more!” and signed up for the mid-level Spartan Super (8+ miles and 20+ obstacles), 3) I had done the Nike Women’s Half just 6 days before, and had gotten back from 3 weeks in SE Asia just 8 days before. 4) California is in a severe drought. The one weekend it was going to rain was the Spartan weekend. Awesome.

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In order to even START the race, you have to climb over a wall. First indication I was in for a world of hurtin!

By Friday it was already raining and when I woke up Saturday to make the hour-long drive to Van Vleck Ranch, it was still raining. It did stop once I got closer to Sacramento, but hours of rain had already done their job – everything was muddy.  Muddy and wet. Every obstacle was slathered in mud from the shoes of previous racers.  Everything was slick and slippery.  Some of the obstacles you couldn’t even do because there weren’t footholds anymore, just piles of mud shoved into what used to be holes and openings.  You couldn’t grip anything because you’d slip right off – I slipped right off of the monkeybars when I tried to grip them.  I had elected to wear my running sunglasses instead of my regular glasses for the race, in case the sun decided it wanted to come out (they also help to cut glare when it’s overcast).  By the second obstacle, since it was raining, I couldn’t see at all since the lenses were wet. They were now useless, so I put them on top of my head and tried to run and do obstacles without them. I couldn’t see my footing or what I was stepping on, so I rolled my ankles more times than I’d care to count on ground that was being washed away by the rain, so it was super uneven, muddy, rocky and full of holes.

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The hand and foot “holdings” on the Horizontal Wall Traverse were slathered in mud, so you… (more…)

Macy’s Theatre of Lights – Old Sacramento

On Sunday my mom and I were supposed to drive up to Sacramento, pick up my niece, and then head to Old Sacramento watch the Macy’s Theatre of Lights.  Plans changed and my niece didn’t want to go anymore, so my mom and I decided to go anyways (adults need fun, too!)

It’s a free program that basically tells the poem of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, with Santa, Jack Frost (why is he always so naughty), him cancelling Christmas (instead wanting Frostmas) and the cheers of the people bringing Christmas back.  They shut down a section of Old Sac, so only pedestrians are allowed, and use the square as an interactive storyland.   The characters are dressed as pioneers, as they would have been in the 1850’s and they light up the entire square, which is pretty awesome.  Nearby, they are also running the Polar Express train ride, so quite a few families showed up in pj’s and robes!  It runs from around Thanksgiving to NYE and is fun for the whole family! The show itself lasts only about 20 minutes, but there is plenty to do in the area, restaurants, local, family-owned shops, etc.

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They lit the Christmas tree as soon as the sun started getting lazy.

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My mom and I were trying for a solid 10 minutes trying to figure out what that second word could have been… and also why someone would begin the House name with “what”

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It still looked light out, but it was already almost completely dark outside! Great job, night filter on my iPhone!

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Santa explaining that Jack is always on the naughty list (felt bad for a little boy near us named Jack – he was SO upset he was on the naughty list since “I’m a very good booooyyyy!”)

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During the story time, they lit up most of the buildings in this square – it was pretty neat watching the faces of people go back and forth between the two buildings. Jack Frost was on a balcony on one side of the street and Santa was on this balcony across the street.

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One final view of the completely lit up tree (it was also interactive in the story). When Jack Frost turned Christmas into Frostmas, all the colors disappeared and it looked like the tree was covered in white and blue ice. Don’t worry though, our cheers brought back the candy canes and sugar plums!

Have a wonderful Christmahanakwanzika!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Giveaway

Last year I was a Hot Chocolate race ambassador for the San Francisco race, and I just found out I’ve been chosen again.  The catch? The race is in only a month, so we’re going to be moving fast!!

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Look how awesome the jackets are this year!!

Sad story about the jacket you get. The one from last year was super awesome. I decided to wear it pre-race for the Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 in April because it was FREEZING.  I knew it would be fine because my friend/coworker was going to meet me at the end of her street (along the race route) and grab it from me at like mile 3.  Turns out she just turned her alarm off and never got up, so she didn’t show up. I had to toss my hoodie and I was SOOOOOO sad.

The race this year takes place on Sunday, January 11th, still starts and finishes in Golden Gate Park, runs along the water (cross your fingers for beautiful weather like last year!) and if you register for the 15k, you get a medal this year!  If you haven’t already registered, but want to do the race, make sure to use the code “SFBlogger8″ and you’ll get a free hat!

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And because I think you’re awesome, you have the chance to win a race entry to your choice of either the 5k or the 15k! The winner will get to choose from any race that there is currently a date for (so that means no 2015 Denver, Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis or Phoenix).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please make sure you leave a separate comment for each additional entry so that all your entries are counted.  The giveaway will be open until Monday, December 22nd at 8pm PST.  The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, December 23rd (Merry Christmas to you!)

And don’t forget SF racers – if you’re not a winner, you can still register for the SF race with the code SFBlogger8 to snag your free hat to go along with your awesome hoodie!

 

**Disclaimer: As a Hot Chocolate Blog Ambassador, I will be provided a free race entry to the San Francisco race.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Myanmar travels and pagodas

Unfortunately, since my phone died upon returning to San Francisco, I lost all of my photos from my trip :( A few people that I was traveling with for the work trip graciously shared some photos with me, so I have a few to share!

Myanmar was a fantastic experience. Since the country has been closed to outsiders for so long, we were all unsure what it would be like. Since we were only traveling to the capital, Yangon, and the surrounding area, we were able to see all of the construction that is now happening, as they gear themselves up to be a more modern society. While there was lots of construction, it was also genuinely nice to see a slower pace of life. Living a simple life, with less “things” to worry about was so refreshing.

We were visiting a few international schools in and around the city, and had a wonderful guide, Thida, to translate, give us a tour while we were on the bus (and trust me, everyone was staring. It’s hard to disguise a gigantic coach bus holding 28 Americans on the streets of Yangon with the bicycles, pushcarts and open-faced smaller busses).  I would like to give mad props to our bus driver – I would have been having an anxiety attack the ENTIRE time.  Since it’s still developing, the streets aren’t great, are super narrow at some points, and when we traveled to one of the schools, we had to go through a more rural neighborhood to get to a major road, and there was negative room for error on his part, trying to turn down these dirt/clay roads.  We drove by people just going about their daily lives, small metal shacks that were fix-it shops or repair shops, some that doubled as homes and some as cafes.  One of the things I thought was the coolest? There were always people out and about at all times of the day and night.  There were these pop-up “restaurants” where they’d set up a burner and cook food right there on the street, and for furniture, they had those little plastic kids table and chairs that we used to sit in and use when we were little (do you remember the ones that had the cartoon character stickers on the back?)

Overall, the city was great, the people were so incredibly nice and the food was good (though I probably still wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Burmese curry and Thai curry).  Now onto the photos!

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Shwedagon Pagoda

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Nike Womens 1/2 marathon 2014 recap

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I ran the race in 2011 as my second 1/2 marathon and vowed to never do it again. Then my cousin really wanted that to be her first 1/2 marathon in 2013, so I ran it with her… and then vowed to never do it again.  The disorganization of a race put on by such a large, global company amazed me. It was entirely too crowded, there was almost no communication before or after the race, it was hard to find information online, the race itself was ridiculously crowded and never started on time, the finish area was entirely too crowded (you just ran 13.1 or 26.2 miles and then you’re at an immediate dead stop for at least 10 minutes trying to push through the crowd to get your food, necklace, photo or gear bag), and both years it took almost 2 hours to get on the shuttle back to Union Square (that you paid for).   But when I was asked to run the race for Nuun (they are the hydration sponsor) this year, I couldn’t say no!

I went to the expo on Thursday as soon as my plane landed at SFO and LOVE LOVE LOVE Thursday NWM expo! It’s not crowded at all, since the people flying in haven’t arrived yet. Packet pickup was a breeze (no line!) and I was able to get first dibs on any samples that were there (and they were good!).  I went and picked up my car afterwards and made the long drive home, arriving around 9:30pm (after traveling for almost 24 hours).

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I really wasn’t sure how this race was going to go.  Actually, I was quite sure it was going to be really bad. I had just gotten back from 3 weeks in SE Asia just 2 days prior, I had been having tummy issues (more on that in another post) since the day I left India, severe jetlag was still in full effect and I had spent over an hour the night before the race attempting to find a parking spot near my friends apartment in the Mission (where I was spending the night).  To add to that, my left knee had started to throb 2 days before I left India.  I finally fell asleep about 11:30pm, woke up at 1:50am, fell back asleep at almost 3am and woke up at 440am. Awesome nights rest, right? The night before that (what some say is the most important night of sleep before a race), I had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep. I was doomed!

They changed the course this year (and eliminated the full marathon) – two things I was excited to experience. Less crowding and a whole new view of the city? Yes please. We got dropped off at the start (thanks Alvaro!), didn’t check any bags (though it looked WAY easier, more organized and less crowded than years passed), walked to our corral and got in and out of the portapotties in record time – SCORE!  Since we were in one of the last corrals, it took about an hour for us to finally cross the start line (something I really wish they’d work on). I was running the race with a friend who was running her first 1/2 marathon (longest run 9 miles), so both were excited and nervous at the same time. (more…)