Greetings, dear readers! Happy Friday! I have two fun things to share with you today and I hope they make you smile, wherever you are.
The Wipro San Francisco Marathon—done!
The first announcement is that it’s done! I ran a marathon! Holy cow! I DID the San Francisco Marathon this past Sunday ~ success! It’s done, I did it… I done did it.;-) And I’m more than happy with the way everything went! What a race! My awesome sister came into town for a week with her family, which was a blessing and joy, and a great way to relax before the race, being touristy and hanging out with good family. My race recap is short, folks:
25,000-ish runners—9,000 doing the full marathon, everybody else doing the 1/2 marathon or the 5K
Early, early start time: 6am!
Hilly, hilly route
Crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and back
Ran through Golden Gate Park, my favorite spot in the city to run :-)
Began and ended at the Ferry Building, near the Bay Bridge, a beautiful and scenic waterfront spot
My sis and I ran the entire race (except for short walking at water stations), a fact that makes me proud and yet not surprised. We both trained well for the race and we did it! In the few days since, we have also recovered… at least, for the most part. I’m still a little stiff when I wake up, but yoga helps with that (as always).
In sum, it was an excellent experience, from training through to the end! I’d be interested in possibly doing another marathon, but maybe something…less hilly? Chicago, perhaps! We shall see :-)Stay tuned.
Llewellyn’s 2013 Moon Sign Book—my gardening tip published!
The second announcement is that I am published! In a book! Actually, I’m published in TWO books, one of which will be coming out this fall (more to come on that…) but this first one is a cute little thing that I completely forgot about, and it’s available in stores now! Many moons ago, I answered a call for reader tips on gardening for this book… then never heard anything… until a few days ago, when I received the book in the mail, with my tip in it! It’s just a short blurb, but makes me very happy to see in print :-)
The book is Llewellyn’s 2013 Moon Sign Book, an astrological guide for pagan types and nature lovers, published by the wonderful New Age company, Llewellyn. The company’s online description says:
This essential planning tool can help you choose the best time to do almost anything: buy stock, get married, buy or sell your home, start a new job, travel, have surgery, and much more. With lunar timing tips on planting and harvesting and a guide to companion plants, this book is a gardener’s best friend.
In addition to New and Full Moon forecasts for the year, you’ll find insightful articles on 2013 eclipses and careers, moon goddess energy gardening, preserving your bounty, foraging for food, lunar fertility, and waxing Moon yardwork.
My gardening tip is in there, but I don’t want to give it away ;-) Tap into your lunar / yin / feminine essence and get thyself a Moon Sign book to own! (NOTE: I don’t make any money from this book ~ it’s just a fun little thing!)
Well, I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are. That’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend. xo
When I signed up for the Mermaid East Bay Run many moons ago, I planned on doing their debut 18-mile race, called the Sirena18. But when my IT band started acting up a month ago, I knew that would be a poor choice, so I changed my race to the Half Marathon. I have the San Francisco Marathon coming up at the end of July (the full 26.2 miles), and keeping that training on schedule has been most important ~ I figured, if I had to run a shorter race to stay strong and injury-free, then so be it!
So for the last month, I tapered my runs, got a bunch of acupuncture, Qi Gong, and bodywork, reinstated my lower-body strength training, and practiced Yin Yoga to open up my hips. I also topped off my runs at 5 miles max. But on Friday, I got nervous about running a Half. I was sure I could do it, but I was afraid that 13.1 miles might push it too long.
And you know what? Heading into a race with fear is NOT something I ever, ever want to do! I race for fun and for fun only.
So, I decided to switch my race once again and do the 10K instead of the Half. It was a little humbling, but a smart choice :-)
So! The 10K it was!
An extra bonus was that my friend Rebecca was going to be running the 5K. Her race started at 9:00 and the 10K started at 8:30, so it was likely that we’d be finishing at exactly the same time… which just sounded fun:-)
I crashed early on Friday, knowing I’d have to get up very early to drive to Fremont (an hour away), so I could change my race without having to wait in some huge line. So I was up at 5:15. Breakfast was a 2-egg omelet with mozzarella and spinach and a cup of coffee. Made it to the park just before 7:00 and had NO trouble at all changing to the 10K. Kudos, Mermaid team!
Rebecca and I met up around 7:30, and spent some time getting photos and browsing (shopping!) the expo. Fortunately, the parking lot was right there, so I was able to go back and forth to my car easily. SO convenient. At 8:15, I took some warm-up laps around the parking lot, then ate two date-and-coconut rolls for pure energy, and joined the crowd to line up. It was fun to have Rebecca there to chat away the nerves before the starting gun!
Mermaid East Bay Run: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Sirena 18-miler
Quarry Lakes Regional Park, Fremont, CA
Trail and gravel path running
70+ degrees, cloudless, perfect morning
My official final time was 55:01, a pace of 8:52/mile!
The 10K started at 8:30AM, out of the parking lot and around the lake area on a gravel path that eventually turned to trail.
I made sure to start off slow, so I could have negative splits ~ that is, so my miles would gradually gain speed instead of the other way around!
For the first mile, I focused on warming up and finding a pace I felt comfortable at. I also adjusted to running on the gravel, which was quite a bit rockier than I was expecting. My leg felt fine, as it usually does for the first mile.
By the second mile, I had found a rhythm and started to relax, watching the other runners and the scenery. The gravel had thinned out and became much easier to run on. I felt physically comfortable and strong.
Around mile 3, we had some nice shade. Runners and walkers from the Half and the Sirena18 were passing on their way back, which made for good people-watching while running.
Not much longer after that, we had the turnaround. I’d stopped at three water stations already and decided just one more. I was feeling really happy and the route was mostly flat and speedy.
Miles 4-6, I paced behind three women who were running a tempo I enjoyed. Near mile 5, I passed one of them and felt an extra surge of strength. I was also happy to notice that my leg and hip were not bothering me at all, and so I felt comfortable pushing just a little bit faster.
Near the mile 6 marker, I passed another one of the 2 pacers, and caught up with the third. At a mile to go, I decided to sprint. I could see the finish line and when I could hear the announcers, I told myself to just push it, that it was almost over, and to just all-out do the fastest I could.
Of course, the final portion was uphill! Why do race planners do that?? :-) Nevertheless, I kept at it and pushed nice and hard. I had just rounded the final bend when I heard, “Andrea!” and looked down the hill to see Rebecca making her way toward the finish line, also! It’s amazing how much energy hearing your name can give you. I bolted toward the finish line and crossed it feeling happy! Only a few minutes later, Rebecca crossed it also, and we were done!
Expo and post-race:
All racers got an adorable silver finisher’s necklace: a small circle pendant with the Mermaid Series “M” logo on one side and “inspire” on the other. We also got this T-shirt, which fits perfectly and is super-cute, to boot.
The expo was great. In classic Mermaid style, they had a photobooth set up, where you could get pictures wearing boas and holding personalized signs. Not only could you print the photos right away, they also had a station set up where you could Facebook and Tweet the photos right away, too!
Knowing how much some people like photos, they also had a backdrop set up with “Mermaid Finisher” on it, so you could capture your pride :-)
And, of course, they had all the great Mermaid schwag for sale: hoodies, T-shirts, hats, jewelry. Although I knew I’d be getting my finisher’s necklace after the race, I couldn’t help but also buy an adorable “Run” necklace before my run. Sterling silver and will keep me inspired!
After stretching it out, Rebecca and I skipped the post-race pancakes and headed into nearby Union City for a super-long, lazy, chowdown at a local greasy spoon called Baldie’s. I think we were there for, like, 3 hours.
In sum, I’m very, very happy I decided to do the 10K. I’m confident I could have done the Half, but as I’ve said, at this point in my marathon training, it’s most important to stay fit and strong, and the Half simply would have been too big of a risk. I felt prepared and well-trained for the 10K, which boosted my confidence a lot.
As always with these races, I’m so grateful for myhilly routes around here. It makes the small hills in other parts of the Bay Area seem FLAT. I keep this in mind as I huff and puff through them every week, knowing they are great training grounds. But mostly, I am really grateful for feeling GOOD. I’m grateful that my leg is better and that I have the confidence again to return to adding mileage to my training. And perhaps most important, I’m way less nervous now about the marathon and am back to having excited butterflies, instead!
I’m happy to say my first half marathon was a success! Such a success, in fact, that I didn’t get any pictures! Well, I got two of the gorgeous sunrise. You know a race day bodes well when the sky looks like this at 7 a.m.:
I took those two pictures, then left the camera in the car for the entire rest of the race. Bad blogger! Haha. So, in lieu of gorgeous race pics, I’ll sum up in actual words but I’ll keep it short, ’cause I know it’s Monday and your brains might not be 100% awake yet :-)
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K
10,000 racers: 6,500 half marathoners and 3,500 5K-ers
Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway / Ocean Beach
55 degrees or so and gorgeously sunny
First things first ~ I finished in 1:55:21! Which is way, way faster than I expected, to be honest. I thought I’d come in around the 2:10 mark.
The 1/2 marathon and 5K racers all started together, in GG Park.
For the first couple of miles, I simply focused on finding good spaces to run in and avoid being trampled.
Around mile 3, I got into my groove and started focusing more on my breath, form, and pace.
Miles 3-7 were a net downhill and quite easy and zippy. I figure that’s where I got most of my speed!
At mile 7, we turned from the park onto the Great Highway, which runs along Ocean Beach, for the remainder of the race.
Miles 8-10 were the most difficult, by far. The route itself was still pretty flat and easy, but I was starting to feel tired. I figured I could use a fuel boost, so I ate a Gu but didn’t have any water, which was a bad idea. The gooey stuff stuck to my throat a little, which caused me to slightly panic, thinking, “What if it glues my throat shut and I can’t breathe?” Totally rational, right? I slowed down and walked for about 20 paces until I got some saliva back, and downed a full cup at the next water station. Lesson learned: don’t eat a Gu if you don’t have water on you!
At the turnaround at mile 10, I got a new wind. It’s likely the Gu had kicked in, but it’s also because I knew I only had the 3 mile stretch left. From there, the home stretch was flat and fast. I wasn’t sore, but I was eager to finish strong. I kept my mind on my breath and my form, making sure I wasn’t running too fast or too slow. I was pretty sure at that point that I’d finish in under 2 hours, but you still never know, so I just kept plugging along.
The final .10-mile stretch back into GG Park was uphill ~ drat! That was definitely a challenge, but as soon as I spotted the finish line, I simply felt relief… and then was stoked to see my final time!
The park, of course, was a zoo, with 10,000 participants and friends and family roaming around.
I didn’t stop at any of the expo booths, except to pick up my race T, which is a nice dark blue, long-sleeved cotton shirt.
No, I was more eager to get back to the beach and meet up with my honey!
After a gigantic post-race brunch, we headed home, where I sat on the couch for the rest of the day: repolishing my tired toenails, watchingthe Super BowlMadonna, and snacking until I literally fell asleep while still sitting up.
In sum, I feel like I was well-trained and prepared for the race. I’d eaten my regular breakfast of toast with almond butter, a pear, and coffee. Then I ate a (very large) date just before the start, then another at mile 4 and at mile 7. I brought pretzels, too, but didn’t touch them ~ it seemed like the dates were enough sugary fuel for 13.1 miles. I drank water at every water stop except the first two, which seemed to be enough, although I could probably have actually drank more from the cups than I did. But in general, I think I got enough water.
The hills I’ve been running on around here made the ones in the park feel utterly flat. So, as much as I dread them sometimes, I know they are awesome training grounds! The weather couldn’t have been better, nor could the view, and my experience with the race producers (Rhodyco) was nothing but good. I’m looking forward to doing this race again!
Sunrise by Kazuyanagae [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons
It’s common knowledge these days that dynamic warm-ups are much better for you than static stretching before running, which can cause more harm than good. Dynamic warm-ups boost your heart rate, actively engage your muscles and open your joints, and get your blood and endorphins flowing!
Many runners, however, tend to focus only on the lower body when warming up by doing lunges, squats, marches, and knee-hugs. Those are a great way to get your legs and hips ready for a run… but what about your core, shoulders, and spine?
That’s where Sun Salutations play a vital role! They warm and energize your entire body, preparing your upper body and core muscles for a run in addition to prepping your lower body.
Tight shoulders, back, chest muscles, and arms can be a detriment to your running, causing other muscles to overcompensate and throwing your body out of whack. Warming up by moving your entire body can bring awareness and stability to those areas you might be neglecting.
Sun Salutations are a series of yoga moves performed in a specific sequence. Each move is done with either an in-breath or an out-breath. They are a complete, dynamic, full-body warm-up that use every muscle in your body while providing the benefits of standing poses, backbends, and inversions. There are a few variations, but here’s an example of a basic Sun Salutation suitable for yoga beginners and runners of all levels.
Simple Sun Salutation
Note: this picture starts the sequence at 9 o’clock and moves clockwise around the circle.
Begin standing upright. Take a deep breath in as you reach your arms up overhead.
As you exhale, fold forward and touch your fingertips to the floor. Bend your knees if you need to.
Inhale as you straighten your spine and look forward (not shown in the image above. See here for pics).
Exhale as you step your right foot back and come into a lunge. Keep your fingertips on the floor. Bring your right knee to the floor if you need to.
Inhale as you step your left foot back also, coming into a plank (the top of a push-up) position.
Exhale as you lower your entire body to the floor. Rest on your belly and un-tuck your toes.
With your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders, inhale as you lift your head and chest off the floor.
As you exhale, lift your hips to the ceiling and bring your body into an inverted “V” position. This is Downward-Facing Dog.
Inhale as you step your right foot forward, coming into a lunge like you did before, but on the opposite side.
Exhale as you step your left foot forward, next to your right foot. Touch your fingertips to the floor, bending your knees if you need to.
Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and all the way up overhead, reaching up strongly.
Exhale as you release your arms back to your sides.
Repeat the whole sequence 3-5 times. I guarantee your heart rate will be up by the time you’re finished! Now that you’re feeling warmed-up, have a great run!
Looking back at the year, the months seem like a swirl of running, biking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, writing, reading, and cooking. Good thing those are some of my most favorite activities! The year was also filled with some heavy, high emotions and deep, soul-searching (and soul-baring) moments in my meditation practice, my race training, my writing, my search for writing and editing work, and my relationship.
All of this adds up to one very full year of rollercoaster highs, lows, and sideways twists! And I guess sometimes that’s just what life is all about :-)
This year also included some dietary choices that surprised some people around me. After reading The Mood Cure (which I highly recommend to anyone looking to adjust and balance stress, energy, and emotions without pharmaceuticals), I was inspired to clean up some lingering habits that I knew weren’t benefiting my life:
I quit drinking alcohol.
I gave up sugar for the most part (except for the very occasional cookie or birthday cupcake!) by replacing it with stevia or eliminating it entirely from recipes.
Most significantly, I started eating a LOT more protein, about three times what I had been eating. This really helped my energy levels and mood and was particularly beneficial during my triathlon training.
I also added amino acid supplements, such as Tyrosine and L-Glutamine, to help with cravings and energy levels and after a few months, I was able to cut them out almost entirely, too.
These days, we eat out rarely, spending most of our time and money cooking at home. We stick to “clean eating,” which I define as whole foods with an emphasis on quality, low-fat protein and lots (LOTS) of vegetables, especially leafy greens. Our recipes typically have no more than 5 ingredients and we almost never use processed food or “food products.” (This includes tofu and vegan meat substitutes, which are some of the most highly processed foods out there!)
I wrote a novel! Then I edited it, edited it again, and once more, then proofread it and submitted it to a contest by December 15. If I win, I’ll know in February. If I don’t win, I’ll also know in February :-) Either way, I’ll keep ya posted.
I know it sounds shmaltzy, but when the stress of everyday life hits and the world seems cold and unknowable, it’s nice to know I can count on a few things to warm me up. Watching our kittens grow up to be cats has been one of the sweetest experiences ever.
What were your favorite experiences / memories / moments of 2011?
What would a year be without music and books? Dreadful, I say!
Here, my Top 5 Books of 2011 (books I read this year, not actually books that debuted this year):