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2016: The Year of the Marathon

Sooooooo, it’s official!: I always said that if I ever ran a full marathon, I would only run one in my life, so it better be a damn good one, and preferably one I could add a vacation to.  At the end of last summer, a friend of mine saw that the Berlin Marathon was offering for the first time a “team” entry option to their lottery, which meant teams of 3 could enter (it’s always just been individual entries).  On a whim, 3 of us decided to sign up for the lottery, knowing we would never get in. I mean, I’m here in California, friend #1 is in New York City and friend #2 is in Turkey. None of us have ever run a full marathon before, and none of us are particularly lucky, so we knew there was a 0.000001% chance we’d actually get picked.

The morning of December 1st, I woke up to a million WhatsApp messages and was like “What the heck?!” and realized when I opened them, we had gotten in (friend #1 is 3 hours ahead of me and friend#2 is 10 hours ahead of me); I then frantically went to my email to confirm that they weren’t playing the biggest practical joke ever. The above email confirms that they weren’t!

I’ve gone through the internet looking for full training plans, combined a few and tweaked them the best I can to put together a 20 week training plan.  I’ve registered for a couple local races to use for my long Saturday runs so I can use the cheers and aid station as motivation to keep running (I seriously don’t know how I’d get through a solo 20 mile run).  I finally decided over the weekend that I want to have a coach, so I’ve been in contact with an awesome running coach who also happens to be a Oiselle Haute Volée. She’s going to help me fine tune my training plan, give me guidance on strength and cross training, and most importantly, answer any questions I have, calm my nerves and be a motivator. I think for my first time, having that accountability is going to be REALLY important, especially when my daily schedule looks like this:
5:00am wake up
6:15am leave the house
6:15-8:15am commute
8:15am-5:30pm work work work work work work (and sometimes through lunch unfortunately)
5:30-7:30/8pm commute home (Bay Area traffic is THE WORST)
8:15-9:30/9:45pm at the gym running my butt off since it’s super dark (and sketchy) by the time I get back into town
10pm finally get back home and try to eat something quickly before going to bed.

Any advice for a first timer?  Follow along on my journey to finish strong September 25, 2016 with the hashtag #Bay2Berlin

The Town’s 1/2 Marathon recap

I’ve been struggling to keep up with blogging (or social media in general) over the last 6 months. Between working longer hours/days and longer commuting hours (up to about 5 per day now), I haven’t had any little breaks at work to scroll through posts and feeds, and I’ve been trying to nap during the commuting time, since I’m still not sleeping well at night.  Race weekends and family time and overall exhaustion has taken over, but this weekend I have some free time (finally!) and am trying to catch up on things like decluttering my room, donating more items, and catching up on the blog!


The Town’s 1/2 marathon in Oakland was one I had been looking forward to for awhile.  A nice small race through Oakland was just what I needed – there wasn’t 20,000+ runners crammed into a small area, you would never feel cramped or crowded, the race organizers are fantastic and it’s extremely community-oriented.  If that wasn’t enough, their sponsors are awesome, so you not only get a race-branded mason jar, but Brita really comes through with a filtered water bottle for each finisher! (there were a bunch leftover after the race, so Laura and I were lucky enough to get two bottles each!).  They have entertainment, little carts are wandering around the open space with breakfast items, single cup coffee, all from local vendors.

I met up with Laura in the morning and we drove to Oakland together, getting there with plenty of time to meet up with Steve, who picked up our packets for us the day before (another great perk of the race, they let you easily pick up packets for your friends or family if you aren’t able to make it).  We originally planned to start together, but she’s faster than I am, so I just planned to try to keep up with her as long as I possibly could (or at least keep her in my sights) – it worked for about 3/4 of a mile and then I lost her!


I kept going at that same pace (it was actually feeling good!) and trying not to look at my watch. I was chugging along, looking at all the sights, and realized at about mile 4ish, that I had just passed her!  That gave me the confidence that I could finish strong, so I kept going, walked part of the hill around maybe mile 8-9ish, and realized at mile 10 that I was in a really good place to PR (previous time was 2:14.12). By mile 12, I thought I could FINALLY break 2:10! I was hustling as much as my heavy legs would let me, but when I crossed the finish line and looked down at my watch, it was 2:10.12 – I was devastated.

All the things I could have done differently started going through me brain: if I would have started running just a few steps earlier on that hill, if I hadn’t walked that aid station, etc.   Laura came in shortly after me and we celebrated our finishes together. Though I didn’t break 2:10, I had just PR’d by 4 minutes, and that is a pretty spectacular feeling.


We  walked around the booths they had set up, collected our snacks, and stopped by one of the booths (Better Health East Bay) that was giving away a new Garmin watch – it was worth a shot to enter! All we had to to do was take a selflie and use the #WeRanTheTown hashtag to be entered, easy enough!  We rolled around the area they had set up with yoga mats and foam rollers (THANK YOU!), sipped coffee in our new mason jars, and lazed around before heading back to the car to make the drive home.     

Update: I won the Garmin watch! When they tweeted me, I almost peed my pants!

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The SF Marathon First 1/2

One month after, it’s about time for a race recap, right? 🙂

I ran this race last year, but ran the 2nd 1/2 marathon for Nuun. It was an awesome experience, I helped work the expo on Saturday for them, stayed in the city that night, and ran the 2nd 1/2 Sunday morning. After running the 2nd 1/2, I knew I wanted to run the 1st 1/2 this year, because I’m greedy and like extra bling! If you run the two different 1/2 marathons in consecutive years, you get an extra medal for completing the “Half it All Challenge.” Challenge accepted!

I didn’t get to run this year for Nuun, so when it looked like it was getting close to selling out, I registered quickly. I had run Ragnar NWP the weekend before and had majorly tweaked my left glute and quad. I had low hopes for this race unfortunately, especially after working the expo both Friday AND Saturday. Halfway through Saturday, my feet were dead. Yay smart decisions!


After the expo on Friday, Laura and I hung out at Fort Mason since Off the Grid was there. There were SOOOO many people! Most of the food trucks had crazy long lines, but the one we ended up at had a short line and the food came out quickly. Gourmet grilled cheese (brie, granny smith apples, thinly sliced almonds) and truffle tater tots? GET IN MY MOUTH.


The Nuun team in action!

Woke up ridiculously early on Sunday, met Kristina in the hotel lobby and we walked over to the start line (thankfully we weren’t far!).  The “corral change” sticker had somehow fallen off my bib and they were super vigilant about not letting you into the corral unless it was yours, so they wouldn’t let me into the one I had changed to (bummer).  We waited until the original corral, jumped in line, took a couple pictures and were off before we knew it!


Forced smiles early in the morning!


Pace through the corrals was actually really good!

Both of us were semi-unprepared, so agreed to run the whole thing together, and we both wanted to stop for a couple photos. Fun, easy race, chatting with your friend the whole time? Yes please! It’s exactly what I needed. Even though we weren’t running it fast at all, the mile markers seemed to fly by!


Karl the Fog was working that morning.


Thanks to the awesome volunteer who took this photo for us!

We stopped once for a bathroom break, a couple times for photos, and once at the bridge turnaround because I had achilles blisters that were starting to really bother me (shoes i wore during the expo, even though they’re completely broken in). Thank you to the aid station who helped me take off my shoes and socks to put a giant bandaid on both achilles, and for helping me tie them back up! #TeamWork.

At about mile 10, my left quad (that had been slowly nagging for the last few miles) finally completely locked up. I had to pull over to a post and start to stretch and rub it out. Super painful but I got it loosened and we started out towards Seacliff/Outer Richmond. I knew Kari would be out in front of their apartment cheering on runners, and REALLY needed the motivation at that point. Thankfully we weren’t diverted and once we got onto 27th, I heard them. HOORAY!


Stopping for a picture, hearing people scream your name and having juicy watermelon = the business. Exactly what I needed!


In their apartment window! Scott was working on his computer (video games I think haha), but when he heard Kari yell my name, he popped out for a cheer as well.

After the cheer station, we had less than 2 miles to the finish. Both of us were ecstatic to be almost done (also we just kept talking about breakfast. Talk about motivation!).  We continued down 27th Avenue (forgot about that little hill at Geary, rude) and finally turned left into the Park at Fulton. The smell of GG Park gets me every time (no not typical SF urine smell, but the amazing smell of nature!) and we pushed as hard as we could into the finish.  Once in the park, we were able to see the 2nd 1/2 marathoners who were just starting their race and we cheered them on as we ran in.


Just finished the race and going to pick up snacks, my regular and Half it All challenge medal and my gear check. I would like to punch Gear Check in the face this year. It took almost an hour to locate my bag (and a bunch of other peoples as well), because a ton of bags that should have been in my truck had somehow been put in the wrong truck (but they couldn’t tell you what other truck they were in, so after waiting in our line, they simply said “so can you just go check the other trucks? It’s probably in one of the first 3 trucks.” The first 3 trucks had at least 50 people waiting in line).

FINALLY found my bag and we peaced out for breakfast.


Double medals!

Now I’m trying to talk Kristina into running the 2nd half next year (it literally runs right in front of her apartment around mile 8ish) so that she can get the Half it All Challenge medal, too!
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My FitBit started vibrating before I even hit mile 5 of the race, we walked to the start line, walked a bit after the finish, AND I ended up running from our hotel to the full finish line and back after the race. Because I’m ridiculous. I ended the day with SO MANY STEPS!IMG_9248And a little sneak preview from the real race photos:

race_1085_photo_22616224The race also offers another Challenge: the 52 Club. Run both 1/2 marathons in consecutive years, and then the 3rd year, run the full marathon. I don’t think I’m quite ready for my first full yet!

This is one of my favorite races here in San Francisco.  The fact that it offers multiple races, is extremely well-organized (except for the gear bag snafu), has great bling, treats at the finish line, offers free race photos (HELLO!), Nuun is the hydration sponsor (the only thing my sensitive stomach will tolerate during long runs and races), and generally just care about the local community.  Last year while getting ready for the 2nd 1/2, I was lucky enough to work a few of the Run365 training runs with Nuun. RUN365 is the official training program of The San Francisco Marathon races and The Berkeley Half Marathon. It’s a great bunch of people that just love what they do.  This year I was able to do the same, and join them for a fun run with Dean Karnazes (he gave me a high five and said I was awesome, no big deal).  The people that run the show are awesome, work hard and love what they do.  Their partners are also great (I have a FitBit so it was pretty cool how they integrated it into the race; obviously I love Nuun; Lululemon hosted some activities at the expo and had a post-race party as well. I participated in a focus group for them in conjunction with the SF Marathon and was really happy that they actually listened to what we had to say and integrated it into their plans!)

They have an ambassador program that I’ve been eyeing since last year. I somehow spaced out and missed the applications last September, but am anxiously awaiting the beginning of September and when they’ll open up applications.  Now having run both half marathons with them, participating in some of the RUN365 events and the Lulu focus group, I’m ready to contribute big time to the ambassador program!

Saying goodbye to the Brooks Fanatics program

When I started running again just after college graduation, I had super old, hand-me-down tennis shoes from my cousin (literally, I think they were shoes for tennis).  But I ran in them, camped in them, hiked in them and didn’t know any better.  I probably had them for about 5 years, and who knows how long she had them before me.  Then at the very beginning of 2009, I realized I needed new shoes after some knee and foot pain.  I researched online, tried different brands on in store and read reviews of not only the shoes, but the company themselves.  What was the final pair I chose? The Brooks Adrenaline 9’s.  I ordered them online and when they arrived, it was like Christmas!

The next year I was accepted into the Brooks ID program and advocated the company and products to anyone who would listen (and probably some that weren’t!).  When they refined the parameters for the ID program, I unfortunately didn’t make the cut, but was placed in the newly formed Brooks Fanatics program in 2011.  It was a small group of awesome runners, many from the ID program who just loved to run and loved Brooks.

The Fanatics group grew and grew, especially as the parameters for the ID program were refined even more.  We were each others support systems, talked about injuries, great runs, not so great runs, accomplishments, failures, vacations, family, you name it.

It felt really awesome to be even just a small part of an awesome company.  I was able to volunteer at events for them, and even run two consecutive years of the Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 marathon thanks to them. I made some great online friends and even met a couple in real life.  When I flew up to Seattle to run the Rock n Roll Seattle 1/2 in 2013, I was able to stop by Brooks HQ for a private tour and lunch.

Midway through last year, we all found out that the Fanatics program wouldn’t be moving forward in the new year, and as of December 31st, 2014, we would no longer be Fanatics (except we will always be Fanatics, even if there is no official program!).  It’s been a weird almost 8 months without the posts, group chats, photo posts, etc.

Thank you Brooks for 5 amazing years and I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future!

Forever a Fanatic,

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015

YES! I know the Women’s World Cup isn’t as big globally as the Men’s World Cup, but it gets me super pumped!  For men’s soccer, I’ve always been a Germany fan and supporter, but women’s soccer? USA all the way!

I remember watching the 1999 Women’s World Cup with the dream team: Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, Briana Scurry, Tiffeny Milbrett, Shannon MacMillan, Joy Fawcett, Christie Rampone, and maybe someone you heard of, Mia Hamm?! It was hosted by the US, so it made it super easy to catch all the matches, with only a few hours time difference (also, I was 13, so I had all summer to do nothing but fun things like this). I remember sitting on the living room floor at my grandparents house, glued to the TV every time the US team played.

And then maybe you remember the penalty kicks? And the now infamous image of when we won:

BC World Cup 99

It’s a pretty powerful image.  Brandi Chastain celebrating by ripping her shirt off after scoring the winning PK, and her teammates rushing in to celebrate their World Cup victory.  Still gives me goosebumps every time I see it!

My favorite numbers growing up, especially when I was playing sports (and even to this day) were 6 an 13 because of Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly.  Mia Hamm has always been a star and an incredible player, but there was something about these two ladies that really pulled me in.

In 2012 I went to Europe on a month-long trip in between jobs, to visit friends, visit the small town I studied abroad in during college and to celebrate my 27th birthday in a big way: the London Olympics.  I was checking out some websites of fun things to do throughout the city during the Olympic Games and came across a Q&A panel with the amazing Brandi Chastain and Summer Sanders, both amazing athletes from my childhood, and both California girls.  And then I got to meet them both. I DIED. Definitely a highlight of the trip.


Ugh, bring me back to my super tan days!


Are you guys as wrapped up in the action for this World Cup?

National Running Day

Yesterday was National Running Day and I was actually going to be staying in the city, so that meant I could actually participate in an event this year! Last week I saw that Rock n Roll San Francisco was going to be partnering up with A Runner’s Mind in SF to host a little event at their store. Yes please!

After work I headed up the hill, put out what I was going to wear for the run (note: I overdressed as usual. The weather in SF can be super tricky and change in a heartbeat. Plus I run pretty warm), downed a bottle of Tropical Nuun, took a 15 minute power nap (much needed) and then headed down to my Lyft that was going to take me to ARM.

I met up with Laura and Steve for an awesome event! The turnout was great, Mamma Chia was there with squeeze pack samples (if you’re counting, I ate 4 while there… and then took one for the road, which I ate when I got home. They are delicious!) and Saucony was demoing some of their shoe models. We decided to give them a try on the trails.

Laura and I brought up the rear of the pack since we thought she might be injured/my calves were PAINFULLY tight/everyone else was just speedy, and enjoyed the trails and beautiful views that SF has to offer.

It was an out and back, with your turnaround being at the bottom of a set of stairs (so mean).

But then this was your view from the bottoms, so can we really be mad?:

And from the left side:

The views from SF running routes NEVER get old.

They hid 2 shoes along the running route, each giving the finder an entry to either Rock n Roll SF 1/2 next March or one of Marathon Matt’s trail 1/2 marathons this August. We didn’t find either shoe but weren’t super bummed since both of us are already registered for RnRSF next year and I can’t do another race this year (I just signed up for RnR San Jose 1/2 earlier that day).  Most of the run was on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, aka just beautiful scenery. You’re in the middle of nature. Your nose is assaulted with awesome smells (nature smells, not typical city urine smells), you become aware of your surroundings because of potential coyotes. You forget you’re in San Francisco.

When see beauty like this, you just have to stop for a couple pictures because things like this make you forget about the craziness of life for a brief moment and just make you feel incredibly grateful that you’re out on a run.

After the run you got to sample some SOS Hydration (I had my own Nuun though), Mamma Chia squeeze packs, Hint water and Michelob Ultra. I passed on all except the Mamma Chia.

We made it!

They also had a board that if you wrote down why you run, you could then put your name into the raffle. ARM is going to display the board year-round in their store.

Raffle time and I won! $30 gift card to ARM that had to be spent that night, so I got to shopping right away and walked away with a nice Nike tank top for only $14.

Laura and I went to dinner afterwards in Laurel Village (delicious) and then headed home since we both had to work tomorrow.  When you run, that’s automatic permission to have pizza and truffle fries and wine… right? Speaking of, tomorrow is National Donut Day. I’m all over it.

 Did you celebrate National Running Day? What was your favorite part?

Rock n Roll San Francisco race recap: 3 years strong

Rock n Roll Marathon Series was my very first 1/2 marathon (Rock n Roll San Diego 1/2 when I was still living there) and now that I’m back up north, I’ve been able to run the Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 every year since they started – 3 years now.  It’s a fun race with a hilly course (it’s SF, duh) and absolutely beautiful views.  The first 2 years I ran the race myself, but since Kat bought a Tour Pass, this was one of her races. Don’t have to tell me twice for a #katbean reunion and friendiversary weekend!  (In case you didn’t know, Kat and I were randomly paired together as college freshman in the dorms. We survived the dorms and have been friends since August 2003!)

I drove in, met Kat, her cousin Kristin and husband Ryan in SF for a beer and light bite on Friday night and then headed to Sausalito to stay the night at their house. We had dinner at Bar Bocce, which combined two of my favorite things: eating and people watching.  Woke up at a decent hour on Saturday, showered and headed into the city for the expo.  We decided to get a hotel near the finish line for the night before the race.  If you’ve never run this race, it finishes in Civic Center. If you’ve never been to San Francisco, it is one of the most densely populated areas with homeless people, so there’s ALWAYS the chance you will get yelled at, money or food will be requested every block, and it will most likely have a faint smell of urine.  This year Kat got the best one I’ve heard yet. We were walking down Market Street and some guy walking by yells to her “YOU GOT SOME GOOD LOOKIN FEET!” and just keeps walking.   I ended up signing up for next years Rock n Roll San Francisco at the expo since it was crazy discounted + you know how much we love running shirts, so you also got a free longsleeve (you know RnR races aren’t cheap, don’t judge).

We then went on a hunt for delicious food. Since we’re both indecisive and were SO hungry at that point, we headed to The Grove because we love that place, know where it’s at, and both wanted an alcoholic beverage with our brunch. win-win.

Walked around a little more, went back to the hotel for a bit, met up with her cousin and husband, grabbed a delicious Italian dinner in North Beach, came back to the hotel and spread out our #FlatKat and #FlatBean on the chair and hopped into bed for what turned out to be a semi-decent night of sleep (I don’t sleep well on a normal night, and the night before a race is usually worse!)

Alarm always goes off what seems like 10 minutes after you fell asleep. We quickly got dressed and grabbed what we needed and headed downstairs to walk to the shuttles that would bring us to the Start Line (one of the BEST things they offer for this race. Incredibly convenient for people living in the city, those that are driving in, etc), and then you don’t have to worry about driving to the start and then having to figure out how to get back to your car after the race!

The last picture we have of the four of us in the hotel that morning. Once we got near the portapotty lines at the Start, we totally lost Kristins husband and never found him again until the Finish!

We’re such great photographers!

Much better! Side note: See that handheld bottle? That morning marks the second 1/2 marathon where I have almost lost it because of the port-a-potty. I don’t bring it in becuase that’s disgusting, so I set it on the ground right outside (probably only slightly more sanitary) and ALWAYS forget to pick it up when I’m done. I always realize it a few minutes later and have to run back, trying to remember which of the identical 20 port-a-potty lines I was in. I’ve also left a visor on the hook on the inside of a port-a-potty at the start line of Nike Womens last year and had to race back and try to remember exactly which one I was in to try to find it. I’m ridiculous.

Start line photos = we look SO attractive. Sleep deprived and cold, but at least we’re not gross and sweaty yet?

 I lost Kat (she’s too fast) and Kristin (I am faster than someone!) shortly after the race started, but was enjoying the view too much to care. Hills killed me big time.  Or was it the lack of training? Either way, I walked the Lincoln hill with zero cares.And stopped for a picture on the other side of the bridge because I can NEVER turn down this view. When it’s clear, it is seriously one of the best views out there!

RIP to my Bia watch, who saw her last race on that day. Shortly after that, we found out that despite the successful Kickstarter campaign to fund these awesome watches, they couldn’t sustain the business and were closing up shop. So sad.

The race itself went a lot better than I was expecting. Since I hadn’t really run since the Hot Chocolate 15k in January (and also hadn’t trained for that), I knew my body would be really confused. But it felt semi-decent and I was ok with just running based on how my body felt and not what my watch said. When I needed to walk (hills most definitely), I walked. I pulled to the side to snap a few photos along the way, and even though I was trying to will my bladder shut, I couldn’t hold out any longer and had to stop for a bathroom break at Sports Basement around mile 9.   When I looked at my watch after that break, I realized I was actually doing pretty decently and could easily get a SF 1/2 marathon best time outta this shabby little body.  The bathroom break (and not the hills and photo opps surprisingly) were what kept me from an actually 1/2 marathon PR. BOOM! Even though I should have been so proud of myself for getting this time and getting so close to my 1/2 marathon PR time with a bathroom stop, walk breaks and photo stops, all I could think about was “IF ONLY I DIDN’T STOP FOR THE BATHROOM!!” and was so disappointed. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that? :/

We made it! And I ran into my friend Brian, who I met through running and randomly happen to run into him at the finish of a lot of races in SF (even though neither of us live there).  
It was absolutely beautiful that day (even a little warm/sunny for a 1/2) and the post-race concert was awesome! I usually don’t get to enjoy these very often since I normally do races alone and after a 1/2 marathon, a lot of people don’t want to sit around anymore than they have to.  Rock n Roll can put on some good Finish line concerts, depending on the band, and it’s always nice to get a free concert with really good music and you’re literally 5 people back.

And because my jumping skills are sub-par, I’m going to suggest you to a few action shots. I clearly need to practice the simple task of jumping.

Not even close Sheena.  Yeah, your feet have barely left the ground. Seriously?    Nailed it/that’s sadly as good as it’s going to get I think.

Sentence per picture

When you don’t have the time to blog in length consistently anymore (insert sad face), quick sentence per picture posts can be fun!  I’m going to try to do these maybe once every two weeks (you know, if I do anything remotely interesting…) I think these pictures are from the past month-and-a-half because I’m that lame.



  I feel like Grumpy Cat just gets me on Monday mornings.  Working super early on a Saturday morning isn’t that bad when it involves this view, trail races and Nuun! #katbean friendiversary reunion in SF for Rock n Roll SF 1/2 marathon!  The view from the quad-killing Lyon Street steps  Baseball makes me happy!  Tess Henley‘s ladypipes are the best present you could ever give yourself, trust me.Watching the Boston Marathon (and the Americans leading at this point) always gets me super emotional, even through my computer screen.    Lola broke her hip, so hospital naps are needed when you’ve been going nonstop.  This is what happens when your co-workers challenge you to a photo contest on your walk to a bar after a baseball game.So this happened (don’t worry, it’s just the first half marathon).  #TeamDeflateGate was ready to take on Bay to Breakers!