✔️ One Off the Bucketlist - Wharf to Wharf recap

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When I first started running a little over 4 years ago, I heard of a "little" race in Santa Cruz. At that time running 6 miles seemed so long. I barely could run a 5k. Yet, the idea of running in an Oceanside town to another Oceanside town seemed like a wonderful experience.  Great views and cooler weather. I had my eyes set on running Wharf to Wharf (Santa Cruz to Capitola) one day, but what I didn't know was how insanely popular it was and how difficult it was to secure a entrance. That's saying something because we are "experienced" runDisney runners and it is as difficult or even more challenging in last year to run Wharf to Wharf as a Disney race!

Registration opens in March and this year I had it on the calendar and in my phone. Since I work in the classroom, the 10am registration opening was not possible for me. Thankfully, I enlisted Dave to try his luck and sure enough I got in!!!   

As race day approached, I read and reread the race brochure mailed with my bib. It wasn't a think brochure, a trifold and the information was all in there without the fluff. I rather enjoyed the course map. If it was made as a print, I probably would have bought it. I think a lot of races should keep their brochure short and to the point.  Easy read and perhaps more people would read them. 😜.

Simple, to the point and a great little drawn course map. Oh and I included a pic of Asher's hand too. Haha

Simple, to the point and a great little drawn course map. Oh and I included a pic of Asher's hand too. Haha

As race weekend came, I somehow became nervous that I could complete the 6 miles. There is no rhyme or reason to this, perhaps a new course I would tackle solo made me more nervous than other races.  I am not sure.  I do know I am not a fan of 10k races. Never truly sure how to pace myself without losing steam halfway through. Maybe this was why there was doubt in my mind. (NOTE: This race is NOT a 10k. It is 6 miles. That's it. Not 6.2, just 6). Regardless, I had mapped out my race day outfit weeks in advance, straying from my typical darker colors and opting for pink!   

Flat runner was ready waaaay before the actual race day!  My bib was mailed to me a couple weeks prior and I already had my race outfit in mind. Excited?  To say the least.  

Flat runner was ready waaaay before the actual race day!  My bib was mailed to me a couple weeks prior and I already had my race outfit in mind. Excited?  To say the least.  

The night before the race, Dave insisted on driving the course...it was dark. Glad he did though, I got to see that it was continuous rolling hills. There really wasn't any flat point along the course aside from the almost half mile path from the start. It got me a little more nervous because I haven't been doing any work on inclines lately. Not to mention, Asher was having one of his bouts of insomnia. Fortunately the race has a later start, 8:30, but all said there would be traffic to the start line and even more traffic to the finish line. Dave really wanted to him and the kids to see me finish so I had to be dropped off early. So between nerves and Asher not being able to go to sleep until almost 2am I was not feeling my best. However once race morning came and I got a little food in my stomach I couldn't wait!  

My view with over an hour before the start. This was the Elite corral, I was in Corral A   

My view with over an hour before the start. This was the Elite corral, I was in Corral A   

They had a great live band playing some hits from the 50s and 60s.  People stood back a little farther because the volume was loud. They were right up next to our corral.  

They had a great live band playing some hits from the 50s and 60s.  People stood back a little farther because the volume was loud. They were right up next to our corral.  

Almost race time!  

Almost race time!  

The corrals didn't seem to huge when I was in them but there were only 5 corrals, including the Elite and 16,000 runners!!!  Once I heard the race director announce this, I quickly reminded myself that this race was for fun and not to look at my watch for my pace. It was a good reminder to myself right before the horn blew because the race course was congested until about mile 3. In the first half mile I almost ran into a pole and fallen into a hole on the side of the road.  

Mile 1 and the crowds were still thick.  

Mile 1 and the crowds were still thick.  

I generally don't like to weave too much in a race. I also, since I study the map, like to run on the side I need to cut the tangents. Really I study the map and try to memorize lefts and rights, landmarks for turns or narrowing, etc prior to a race. It helps me when I run to not focus on the miles but almost like I am laying out a puzzle I saw before. With this race I was weaving a lot at the beginning and having a hard time making my way around some groups. So I quickly divised a plan. I'm not a tall woman at 5'3" and petite frame so passing through sometimes can be challenging. I noticed gentlemen who would taller, broader shoulders, some heavier set than I making their way through. So I would speed up when I noticed such a man and kind of rode their tail wind. When they excused themselves through runners, I just kept on their heels to make my way through. It worked and I was able to find my groove a little after mile 2.  

Along the way though, I tried to stop and take pics. The morning was very foggy so the idealistic ocean in the background pics were impossible. They would all look like grey mist. So I tried to snap pics of bands along the way, but by mile 3 there were so many bands I couldn't keep up and decided to just cruise on the next 3 miles giving hi 5s and thanking the endless amount of spectators. It was AWESOME!   

Mile 1 - bagpipers  

Mile 1 - bagpipers  

Street performer meets runners. Full on performer mode and tried to pose for pictures when he could.  

Street performer meets runners. Full on performer mode and tried to pose for pictures when he could.  

My attempt at a beach/ocean pic. Instead soup. 😂 

My attempt at a beach/ocean pic. Instead soup. 😂 

Bands were out or just individuals who could play an instrument. I had to snap this pic for Jacob who plays the saxophone.  

Bands were out or just individuals who could play an instrument. I had to snap this pic for Jacob who plays the saxophone.  

Taiko drummers. They were playing on the beach with the ocean behind. So great! 

Taiko drummers. They were playing on the beach with the ocean behind. So great! 

We saw this truck with day before in Santa Cruz and the driver was in on the race course, in the middle of runners, with an American Flag. It was the best. I had to snap a pic for my girl @carleemcdot because his truck says "Be the change you wish to see in the world" ❤️❤️ 

We saw this truck with day before in Santa Cruz and the driver was in on the race course, in the middle of runners, with an American Flag. It was the best. I had to snap a pic for my girl @carleemcdot because his truck says "Be the change you wish to see in the world" ❤️❤️ 

This race lived up to my expectations and so much more. I heard there was a lot of spectators and bands for this race, but nothing could have prepared me for the number of bands on every BLOCK and the nearly 6 miles of endless spectators.  Seriously, the streets were lined with people cheering, whole neighborhoods making it a fun block party. It made the 6 miles seem so quick. The hills, although relentlessly rolling, I didn't notice and they didn't slow me down too much since I was smiling ear to ear and enjoying the view of spectators. The only downside, in my mind was the expense of the hotel. It is an oceanside town so hotels are pricey but it still is a sticker shock. Oh and the congestion on the race course for so long is a little bit bleh but the race overall is just great.  

My finishing time plus my half mile warm up. Official finish time was 47:53, 7:58/mi

My finishing time plus my half mile warm up. Official finish time was 47:53, 7:58/mi

As I was sprinting to the finish (thank you downhill finishing chute for about .25 miles!) I just kept thinking how great the 6 miles were and how much I wanted to do this race again. When I saw Dave and the kids, I immediately told Dave this race would be great for a group of people to do together. The race itself is affordable at $40; you might not get a medal, but a shirt, good treats and wonderful course support.  There are so many picture stops, so much music and just a great time!  It's a must people, put it on your calendar for next year to run "the best little road race in California". I'll come run it with you!!! 😉. 

Runner Safety

New and seasoned runners alike worry about their safety on the road. Whether it be in the early morning or evening, on trails or suburban streets. Time goes into researching and talking to other runners about what the safety "musts" are.   

Now this piece isn't going to be about ALL the safety necessities while out there - I will list a few - I also wanted to share possibly a "new" approach to some runners.  First some of the general basics for our family: 

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1. Be seen!  

Using reflective gear and a headlamp for those dark early morning runs or those later evening runs is a MUST. I must add that your light has to function more than a static illuminating source. Drivers need something blinking or moving with enough variation for it to catch their eye.  

2. Identification 

We use RoadID. Our entire family has identification, including the youngest. There are other companies out there such as 1BandID. Check them out - RoadID and 1BandID. Minimal cost for a huge piece of mind.

3. Hydration 

Ok now this isn't the same type of safety as the others, but it is pretty significant. Don't be fooled by temperature or season. Even in cold weather a runner can experience heat exhaustion. Hydration is key. I know not everyone wants to run with a water bottle but seriously think about taking something with you.  If you are a "no way, I hate running with excess stuff" type of runner, think about either pre-planning and stashing water bottles along your route, enlisting a fabulous friend to be your traveling hydration station (offer to treat them to breakfast or coffee 😬☕️), or plan your route with fountains or coffee shops along the way. You would be surprised at how generous places will be when they see sweaty, panting runners come in asking for a cup of water.

These are just a few safety tips. Here are a couple of articles (here and here) to get a few more tips for general runner safety and nighttime runner safety. 

We all can agree that there are plenty of safety articles to read out there. I am sure you must be thinking, "what possibly could they share that might be considered new or different?"  I promise, to most of you this just might be a different or "new" idea or approach to something you might do already.  First a little story about something that happened to me last summer.  

About a year I set out on an easy run. I can't recall exactly how many miles I wanted to do, perhaps 4, maybe 5. I laced up and told Dave I was heading to the door and left. It was early evening and still warm. Summers in Sacramento mean warm to hot weather running no matter what time of day.   I got to a major intersection stoplight, pushed the button and waited. At this point I was just over half a mile from home so my run just started. The light turned green and as I always do, I wave on the first car turning right so that I make sure the other cars see me. Yet tonight was different. I waved the guy on, he moved up, blocking the entire corner and cross walk with his car and stopped. Confused, I waved him on again and this time looked directly at him with a "GO!" face. It was then that I saw why he had stopped and that he was a disturbed young man. I have told less than a handful of people this story, I am embarrassed to even say, but this gentleman was exposing himself to me. I panicked and wasn't sure what to do. I looked away and frantically waved him on, other cars building up behind him. My mind froze. I just kept thinking I can't go forward, he has blocked my path and why are no other drivers honking?!?!  I tried to cross, he moved his car to block me. He had a goal in mind and I didn't want to give him the satisfaction. Looking back, I regret that I didn't just turn and run home, that I didn't take my phone out that I always carry with me and take picture of his license plate or that I didn't yell to other drivers or those at the gas station for help. I froze. How does one prepare themselves for that situation of unwarranted sexual exposure and being "trapped"? You cannot. He finally left with seconds to spare on the walk light (this is a major intersection where pedestrians have nearly a minute to cross). Not enough time for me to cross. I called Dave, shaken and shaking. I told him I wanted to continue my run. I wasn't going to let this guy get to me. But I really couldn't recover. I was really shaken up and scared. Yes, I was beyond upset, I kept thinking he might bring his car back around to where I was running. At the next light I called David and told him I was turning around and coming home. He asked where I was and I gave him a general area. As I was running back down a street I saw Dave in the car with the boys and he told me to get in. I think I got 1.5 miles that night and when I finally got in the car Dave wanted to know what happened but I didn't want to talk about it. Hey, like other women I've been subjected to cat calls, whistling and honking (sometimes in front of my kids who are running with me). Vulgar things and somewhat "innocent" comments (nothing is really innocent about harassment). That night was different. It was an aggressive form of harassment. One that shook me and made me rethink what I do when I step out to run. I never paid attention to the other encounters. I was a grown woman who could take care of herself. But this one incident was an eye opener. 

Easy to print out route and put them in a sheet protector. Dry erase marker makes it reuseable  

Easy to print out route and put them in a sheet protector. Dry erase marker makes it reuseable  

I started to think about who really knew where I was when I went running. Who knew my routes?  Who knew when I was out running?  How many people know that I run solo or with a stroller almost all the time?  If you are a regular traveler down that busy intersection then you most likely knew all that about me, but scarily my family didn't know my routes that well. They knew some of it, but not enough details - so I came up with this idea of a running command center as a safety post for both myself, David and the boys. In our years of running in our neighborhood, we have run and created multiple routes of varying distances. I have printed out those routes and when either of us goes on a run we can select the route, write the time leaving, pace and projected finish. We can be aware of where someone is at a given time and when they should be home. Dave doesn't run with his phone so it is important for me to know this information. In case he is hurt or not doing well.  

With this we try to enlist variation. Again, we have multiple routes and we rotate them. There is something great about routine but there is also something scary about predictability. If I run around the same time everyday, in the same location, jerks like the guy in the car above could easily predict where to see me. Not very safe. It's not safe for anyone, woman or man.  

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Don't want to print or tons of maps or perhaps your route can't be printed, then write it down for someone to be aware of where you are. 

Don't want to print or tons of maps or perhaps your route can't be printed, then write it down for someone to be aware of where you are. 

I know this takes away some spontaneity of going out for a run and letting a great time take you away, being free to run as far or as close as you want and exploring new paths. I'm not saying to never do that. I am saying always ensure there is a way people can find you, a way you can contact someone and a way to not be a target.

Consider my tips, maybe enlist your own running info center in your home. You might have a better way to do so, share it with us. We would love to hear about what you do to keep safe. The biggest message we can share is be aware and run safe everyone!   

#RnRCHI Race Recap

Where do I begin? Chicago has been a race destination city on on my radar for a long time. I toyed with the possibility of making RnRCHI a reality and it irked Paula to no end that I was being so wishy washy about booking it. So I did. 

I did my research and discovered that Chi-Town was not a cheap place to stay. Well at least in the downtown area where the major race hotels were located. After finally swallowing that pill of a flight and hotel, I was all set to plan. 

I learned from running friends that the weather in July can get, let's just say, a little sticky. I landed on Friday around lunch time and immediately felt the humidity as I left the airport to board the train into the city.

I was so relieved to find coffee after the flight to Chicago. A nice veteran police officer told me that in his 30 years of service, no one has ever said anything about bringing coffee onto the "L." All good. 

After a short walk from the train station, I arrived at the hotel. They had a room available a couple of hours before check in (SCORE!) so I was able to settle in and make the train ride to the expo with plenty of time to sightsee. Not before I unpacked my bag and discovered this though: 

Paula always hides a well wishing, motivational note when I travel. She always thinks of the little things. 

Cubano at Cafecito. Thanks Yelp!

Cubano at Cafecito. Thanks Yelp!

Finally got to meet @sas_rubel IRL! Woot!

When she's not filming she has time for expo selfies! @swappyjoe

When she's not filming she has time for expo selfies! @swappyjoe

Picking up the @plantronics BackBeat Fit headphones for a fun giveaway!

Picking up the @plantronics BackBeat Fit headphones for a fun giveaway!

I love riding trains but nothing beats walking around a city to explore. I love that there are many bridges that cross the river and you get views like this: 

I ate at Portillos and had a Chicago style hot dog that first night I was there. It was truly delish. 

I spent the rest of the night getting my flatrunner pic ready and studying up on the 5k race the next day. 

I woke up Saturday morning and as I walked to the start line I realized two things: 1) how freakin' humid it felt to me and 2) I don't have any water to drink and wash my bar down with! I bought a bottle of water from the trusty Dunkin' Donuts nearby. 

We started the 5k and I honestly didn't have a formal race plan for any of the races the entire weekend. Maybe it was because everyone else had their eyes on "racing" the 5k, setting PRs, etc. that I found myself running at a quicker pace also. I tried not to look at my watch during the race and it felt quite weird to not know where my pace was or what mile I was in. I remember seeing the mile 2 marker and thinking to myself, "I'm going pretty quick, can I hold on to this for 1.1 more miles?" I kept my pace and never found myself wanting to slow down much. I was happy with the result. 

Hey, it's @nycsweat, @david_baer and crew after finishing the fast 5k. That bling tho!

Hey, it's @nycsweat, @david_baer and crew after finishing the fast 5k. That bling tho!

After recovering in the park for a few, I walked back to the hotel to get cleaned up. I took the trek to the Navy Pier to sightsee. I picked up a bag of Garrett's Popcorn which was uber delish and took another medal pic with the 100th Anniversary Ferris Wheel at the Pier.

I made it back to put up my feet a bit before the @werunsocial meet-up that I was co-hosting with Steff and Auggie (@justrunchicago). 

We all met at the Cloud Gate, also known as, "The Bean." I was a bit worried - because it was super crowded, and it's a major tourist attraction - that we wouldn't find anyone or that people would show up but leave after not connecting with others. Boy was I wrong! The turnout was AMAZING and even in the humidity (locals say it wasn't that bad) we all had a blast meeting and greeting with each other. 

What an amazing group rocking out in the Windy City! 

What an amazing group rocking out in the Windy City! 

Congrats to Gloria on her OUTRAGEOUS 5k PR that morning and for winning the Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless headphones. Jam on!

Congrats to Gloria on her OUTRAGEOUS 5k PR that morning and for winning the Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless headphones. Jam on!

After the meet up, most of us went our separate ways, likely headed somewhere to eat. Chicago has tons of options for foodies but a few of us had been majorly craving deep dish pizza. We headed to a well known spot, Lou Malnati's for dinner. We waited a long time for pizza and Auggie threatened to leave before dinner was even served?! Say what? Luckily he was able to stay and eat but had to leave right after we finished eating. We strolled back to our respective hotels, bellies full of amazing pizza.

all the noms! 

all the noms! 

Good night crew! Have a great race tomorrow. PC: @blingwhore

Good night crew! Have a great race tomorrow. PC: @blingwhore

Still feeling happy and full of pizza, I prepared for the race in the morning before going to bed. It was such a fun (yet exhausting) day and I was actually a little beat up from the race and walking all over the city. Because of the fastish pace of the 5k, I told myself to take it easy for the Half in the morning. I'm glad that I did.

I woke up, again to a lot of humidity but there was a bit more cloud cover than Saturday. I made the walk to the Bean to meet up with more crew but I guess I was a bit early so i took a pre-race selfie and walked over to the corrals. We finally met up and decided that corral 4 was the place to start that morning. We wished each other good luck and were off.

A few of us stuck together, a couple stayed back a bit and we all finally settled on our race pace for the day. Richard broke off after a few miles with the group and that left me with awesome running buddies, Julie and Karla. These two are amazing runners and are great company to have on a 13.1 mile jaunt through a major city. We ran at a good pace, conversational even. But once Karla's GPS was off by almost a mile, we threw our hands up and gave up on trying to do math. From then on we enjoyed every mile. 

We all sprinted towards the finish line and completed the race strong. Not long after, a quick heavy storm passed through and we all got soaked! It was a small price to pay - outweighed by all the fun we had out there.

The weekend ended with a long flight home. I missed the boys so much and got in late that night to a house full of sleeping kids. I couldn't wait to tell them how my weekend went. I did so much these past few days and consider myself crazy lucky to have the opportunity to experience it.

What's your favorite thing to do in a new city? Sightsee, eat all the food, etc.?

#Active4Asher2016 Event Recap

Another year has gone by and we had our second #Active4Asher event. Admittedly last year, the event was "larger", but we knew ahead of time this year it would be a challenge to have things as they were last year. Mostly because the chosen day (June 13th) landed on a Monday, not a weekend. Despite this, we are grateful to everyone who supported our little guy in person or virtually.  

As a quick note, this event is not our attempt to fund-raise. Perhaps in the future it would be an option, but our real goal, or desire is to first raise awareness about Rare Chromosome Disorders (RCD) and Global Rare Chromosome Disorder Awareness Week (RCDAW). RCD affect more individuals, more families than you know and it is an isolating and lonely world. Because there are so many chromosome disorders, there really isn't a lot of studies on those that aren't as prevalent such as Chromosome 13q deletion. As last heard, only 250 cases were reported of Asher's specific deletion.

Our second goal, and one beyond important for us personally, is to spread acceptance.  So often it can be easy to judge those who are different and boy is it easy when someone sees a child acting abnormally BUT looks "normal". I have encountered many instances of rude comments by adults when Asher is having a moment. I will be honest, and digress slightly, there have been times when I chose to NOT go to the store because I am anxious about bringing him out and being judged. Or there have been times where social "meet ups" have been planned or friends ask us all to go out to eat and I tell Dave I can't go. The feeling of "what if Asher does...", "what will people say if..." goes through my head. Who should feel that way?  No one!  Therefore A4A was partly birthed from those fears or anxieties simply because we want to teach our boys and help spread the word that someone's outside appearance means very little. How someone looks does not tell others who they are, their likes and dislikes, their joy and their challenges. It is an effort to promote accepting others for WHO they are not by what they look like. With the world today, doesn't it seem valuable to teach and promote acceptance, getting to know a person and not to judge?   We think so. 💙. 

Below are just a few snap shots from our little run and we were able to share a few from social media. If you want to read about last years #active4asher recap, you can do so here.  

For everyone, every single person who got out and was active for our little guy, thank you is not enough.  For everyone who shared his story or even took the time to look up RCD, so much appreciation is sent your way. For everyone who took a moment to think about how to truly be accepting of others, all the LOVE.  And to all those who generously surprised us by offering to donate an item for our event, thank you so so much (@littlebeastling, @kookyrunner, @runningwithsd, @pavementrunner, @stephjspeer, @alwyzsleepn) We are beyond grateful and humbled by each of you and your support!  

 

Our little running group on Monday night. Thank you to @runningforcarbs, @fueledbyfrosting, @oif_vet, @regular_doc, @cassieandnick and @5t3ph517 for coming out to support. 📷: @fueledbyfrosting

Our little running group on Monday night. Thank you to @runningforcarbs, @fueledbyfrosting, @oif_vet, @regular_doc, @cassieandnick and @5t3ph517 for coming out to support. 📷: @fueledbyfrosting

Asher hamming it up!  📷:@fueledbyfrosting

Asher hamming it up!  📷:@fueledbyfrosting

Asher, for the first time, moved his own walker!  Happened on Monday, June 13th and we like to think it's because of everyone getting Active4Asher

Asher, for the first time, moved his own walker!  Happened on Monday, June 13th and we like to think it's because of everyone getting Active4Asher

*Winners of the giveaway: 

Spandit Skirt donated by @runningwithSD - @iamacouch

Werunsocial Hoodie donated by @werunsocial/@pavementrunner - @mcrunnerchris

Sarah Marie Designs/Qalo/Hydroflask/Starbucks/RoadID hosted by us with extras from @littlebeastling, @kookyrunner and @stephjspeer - @runfortoday

CONGRATS and THANK YOU!

Race 2 of the #Fontana2SD Adventure: Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon

It's been a week since our epic weekend ended and I'm still coming down from the high that was the #Fontana2SD event. I am just now writing my recap for the second of 2 races and if you want to catch up with the first race, head on over HERE. It was a blast and I'll pick up where that day ended. 

We left Fontana but unfortunately didn't leave early enough to elude the major fire which shut down freeways and caused MAJOR traffic delays. We made it through to San Diego and to the Expo at around 3pm which was about 2 hours later than we anticipated. We picked up our bibs, which was an easy process as always, picked up shirts and headed into the Brooks merch area to peruse the awesome goods.

We let the boys explore, participate in Runhappy Island fun, and spin all kinds of wheels for prizes. I was also there to do a bit of filming for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series and their new partnership with Eagle Creek. Remember this little video? Well, it was chosen as a winner of a RocknBlog contest and I don't want to spill too many beans but I'll be featured in a quick clip with Rock 'n' Roll in the future. Fun Times!

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Run Rock 'n' Roll Expos are full of fun things to do. 

Run Rock 'n' Roll Expos are full of fun things to do. 

While I was out playing with awesome Eagle Creek gear, the rest of the family checked into the hotel and waited a while. We had a quick dinner and then hit the sack as the day was long with the fire, traffic and expo fun. 

Bib pickup with barefoot Elvis. Priceless.

Bib pickup with barefoot Elvis. Priceless.

I had a mile and a half walk to the start line and I wanted to be there early for a bit more filming and of course to meet the rest of the crew for pics and hi-fives. Our game plan before the weekend began was to formally "race" Fontana (I PR'd there by the way) and take it easy and have fun out on the San Diego course. 

#Flatrunner ready to race. 

#Flatrunner ready to race. 

I met up with the other "crazies" who were part of the #Fontana2SD crew and some new faces I follow on Social. That's the best part of race weekends like these! I ran the first few miles with Megan and Laurie and then broke off to run ahead a bit. I caught up with other #WeRunSocial friends and kept pace with them for the rest of the race. 

Pre-race epic photo. So many friendly faces. These folks are all AWESOME runners! 

Pre-race epic photo. So many friendly faces. These folks are all AWESOME runners! 

Met up with old friends and new ones too.

Met up with old friends and new ones too.

It was a nice conversational pace which allowed us to goof around on the course. San Diego is a city which loves and supports its runners by coming out in full force to cheer. Although I missed the tequila shots earlier in the race, we still managed to snap pics at other "character" stops. 

On course shenanigans! Photo: carleemcdot.com

On course shenanigans!

Photo: carleemcdot.com

The course was new this year and finished near the waterfront which was where our hotel was located. Score! The family met me at the finish line, saw me cross and waited patiently as I filmed a bit more with the media crew.

Kaella makes a great Cat in the Hat!

Kaella makes a great Cat in the Hat!

Katie 'snapping' it up with the Rock God!

Katie 'snapping' it up with the Rock God!

The waterfront park was a great place to finish filming and picking up gear check items. The boys listened to music, ran around a bit and we then headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up. 

We initially thought we weren't going to make the after party hosted by WeRunSocial but we make it a little late. We still managed to grab a quick drink and mingle with other crew members to chat about the race, support and the weekend overall. 

Officially the Unofficial #RnRSD After-Party

Officially the Unofficial #RnRSD After-Party

Doing our best @RunningwithSD and @Runnylegs "runch" pose.

Doing our best @RunningwithSD and @Runnylegs "runch" pose.

I couldn't have asked for a better race to cap off an amazing weekend. Am I beat up? Sure, but it was worth a PR and excellent times with family and friends. Some might think we're crazy but if you're not enjoying what you're doing, then it might not be worth doing at all. 

Race 1 of the #Fontana2SD Adventure: Fontana Days Run Half Marathon Recap

This past Saturday a bunch of us crazies ran the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon as part of a little thing dubbed on social media as #Fontana2SD. We hauled our little family of six down from Sacramento on Friday morning and arrived in Fontana that afternoon. It was a scorching 104 degrees. Hey, we thought we were leaving the extreme heat of Sacramento but alas, we were wrong. 

Flatrunner ready for race 1. I decided on the good 'ol Asics Hyper Speed 6's. They are now done-zo! 

Flatrunner ready for race 1. I decided on the good 'ol Asics Hyper Speed 6's. They are now done-zo! 

If this was any indication of how the race was going to go, boy were we in trouble. I've read that heat plays a major role in racing performance and since it was going to be hot that day, it was imperative that precautions were taken. Luckily I hydrated the days leading up to the race. 

We checked in to the nearby hotel and our local Fontana hero, Linzie, jokingly questioned, "We have a hotel in Fontana?" Yes, Linzie you do and it's a nice one. It was situated just a few minutes drive away from the finish line which was also the bus area up the mountain to the start. 

I took the car since I didn't want to wake the kids just to drop me off at zero dark thirty. This meant that they would not be able to meet me at the finish line. Boo! It actually worked out since we had to be in San Diego that same day to prep for race #2, the RnRSD Half Marathon. 

Such an amazing crew! each one of these people are rockstars!

Such an amazing crew! each one of these people are rockstars!

I met with a bunch of other crew members who were also taking on this challenge of two half marathons in two days, in two different cities. We each got the memo and coordinated a red, black and white theme and it came out AMAZING! 

We rode buses up the mountain to the start line which was nice a cool but we all knew darn well it wouldn't last that long. We endured (even the men) long bathroom lines and took more group shots. 

I finally met Katie, AKA @momslrb in real life. with an epic photobomb by @andreabarber

I finally met Katie, AKA @momslrb in real life. with an epic photobomb by @andreabarber

the always smiling, always wonderful @runningwithsd!

the always smiling, always wonderful @runningwithsd!

This race had no corrals, just a starting area and once the gun went off, it was all downhill from there. Literally. I know that running downhill may sound like it's easy and for the most part, gravity does it's job and pulls you down but your legs sure do take a beating. Oh and once you flatten out or heaven forbid, hit a slight inclince, you're gonna feel it! 

All the Garmins! PC: @carleemcdot

All the Garmins! PC: @carleemcdot

We all had the understanding that we were going to "race" Fontana and "party" in SD so I was in a solo zone if you will from the beginning. I took it easy, not letting myself get too fast on the early descent. I'm sure if you weren't conscious of it, you could easily pull off mile splits up to 45 seconds faster than even your fast, flat times. This would likely have negative effects on the outcome of your race if you're not prepared for it. 

I listened to music which helped push me along and I must admit that the course was not the prettiest one I've ran but I was more focused on keeping a good pace and finding people to eventually pick off. By mile 3 or 4, we were totally exposed to the blazing sun and i had to turn my hat to the side to keep from burning! I ran like this the entire rest of the race.

Warm it up chris, i'm about to!

Warm it up chris, i'm about to!

Those towels you see around my neck were likely what got me through the last few miles of the race. The race officials said that they would provide extra support on the course and cold wet towels helped keep the runners cool. At each subsequent water stop, I drank a cup and used a cup to keep the towel soaked. 

I have to admit that the last few miles were a bit of a blur likely due to the high temperatures messing with my mind. I still kept one foot in front of the other and powered through to the end. I hit mile 12 and looked down at my watch and knew that as long as I didn't totally BONK, I would be setting a PR that day. 

Half Marathon PR! Woot! #Active4asher

Half Marathon PR! Woot! #Active4asher

I finished, drank two bottles of water in the shade of a tree and met up with friends who all had excellent races despite the heat. We all congratulated each other for what we accomplished, said our goodbyes for now and would all meet soon in San Diego for race number 2, #RnRSD. Overall, I'm happy with the race and how I performed. It sure will be one to remember.

#WERUNSOCIAL crew all smiles.

#WERUNSOCIAL crew all smiles.

Rare Chromosome Awareness Week and #Active4Asher

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Update: GIVEAWAY details are here. 

  1. Get up and get moving on Monday, June 13, 2016. Only pics or tweets posted on 6/13/16 will be counted. 
  2. Tag @FitFam6 and use hashtags #Active4Asher2016 and #a4agiveaway in your pics.
  3. Entries will be placed in numberical order and selected randomly.

June 13th is around the corner and for our household, this day and the week around this day became "something" last year. It is a day our family hopes to bring awareness to Rare Chromosome Deletion Disorders and to share how #rareisbeautiful

In 2014, our youngest son, Asher began to have health issues. Prior to that, as his mother, I had concerns about his development and raised questions almost immediately. When his issues had reached a peak in March 2014, he was hospitalized. From there began a long journey with many many tests and specialists to find out why our once chubby (but still small baby) was now 8 months and just under 12 pounds. It was heartbreaking as parents. Many hours driven in a car throughout Northern California, thankful for all the family support and so blessed by the patience and flexibility of our other 3 children, Asher was finally diagnosed with Chromosome 13q deletion - not a hereditary occurrence, just something that happens. Something even the prenatal blood tests and amniocentesis I had done couldn't detect because those tests look for very specific chromosome abnormalities. 

Yet we were now given an "answer". An answer to why he wasn't sitting up, rolling over, eating solid food and so much more. We were told his deletion was limited to perhaps 250 cases reported, give or take. Studies were limited and they couldn't tell us what the future would hold for him. Doctors and case studies had presented situations where some with his diagnosis live full lives, with the support of intensive therapy during the younger years, but more often examples were of children who had limited speech, limited mobility and significant cognitive delay. Most with his deletion do not end up walking or if they do they walk at age 4 or older, most have limited to no speech due to gross motor delay and almost all have other health issues including allergies and respiratory conditions.  

As Asher's family, we are determined to beat those odds and have him be one of the few that walks, talks and so much more.  With that, we wanted to share with others our story, his story and to encourage runners and non runners alike to get out on the 13th of June   and be active. We want to encourage others to take the day to be grateful for the ability to walk, run, jump, skip even.  We hope to show others that Rare is beautiful, that everyone has their own hard battle despite the appearance on the outside, and that acceptance of all abilities and talents is a wonderful thing.  

Again this year, we want to encourage you to get out and be active anyway you want.  Get up and get moving with friends, with your children, with your pet.  Take all the selfies and tag us in your pics: @fitfam6 and #Active4Asher2016 on Instagram and Twitter.  We want to see them all!  Your pictures and hopefully your support gives us encouragement,  It helps our little family on our hard days and it reassures us that people are learning, becoming aware of Rare Chromosome Disorders (RCD).  RCD is more than Down Syndrome, Trisomy 21, Trisomy 13, Turner Syndrome.  It includes children that are not easily identified because of a physical difference.  Let's create a day full of encouragement, support and understanding.

Aaannndddd, for those who might want to partake in a little GIVEAWAY, additionally tag your Instagram/Twitter pictures with #A4Agiveaway.  All photos must be posted and tagged on June 13th, winner chosen on June 14th.  For additional entries, visit our blog here on June 13th and comment on any post.

* Disclaimer: Active4Asher is NOT a fundraising event and is not affiliated with any organization.  However, if you would like to learn more about Rare Chromosome Disorders, become involved and/or donate you can check out this site: www.chromodisorder.org

ASICS Vine Body Sole Weekend

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Strangely enough, I was dreading writing this recap the most.  Why? Because I want to be as honest as possible, but not be completely negative about the race.  I figure though I should just dive into this recap and let my experience be just that, my experience.  If it helps you decide if you want to register for this race next year, so be it, but spoiler alert for the end of this recap: I have a feeling next year will be better and I will get to that point in a few. 

To begin, I had seen an advertisement for this race weekend come across one of my social media feeds perhaps back in March.  To me it was "local" (2 hours was close enough for this mom of 4 to just drive in race day), it offered some great events (workouts and yoga), shoes (I don't even wear ASICS) all for the price of $250.  Pricey, yes, but I guess in comparison to RunDisney and all that they were offering, I thought not too shabby.  With that being said I could not afford it, but put it on a growing bucket race list.  By April, I was seeing race Ambassadors post about entrance giveaways.  I told Dave, if I win, I am going and going to try to do as much of what is being offered as possible.  Who cares if I would have run a full and a half in the two weeks prior.  Run for fun!  Low and behold, I won an entry!  I was beyond excited, but that came crashing down when looking for hotels.  Ummmm, can we say pricey?  Even staying almost an hour away was ridiculous.  I just kept telling myself that it was a free race entry so I could swing it.  Regardless, it was still a sticker shock.  

The race weekend came faster than I had anticipated and I had done nothing to prep for it in terms of reading up on where to go and what not, but really how could I?  The website was not fully up and running with adequate information until about 2 weeks prior.  Really.  Maybe a little more, but not that far in advance of race weekend, not even the course.  With that, I already was feeling wary about the logistics of this inaugural race, but it was ASICS, a big name shoe company.  Also they had Destination Races heading it with them.  They had to have their shit together, right?  Well....

Heading in to work my butt off!

Heading in to work my butt off!

I drove up early Friday morning, traffic leading to Charles Krug Winery (the hub) was insane, but once I got there I tried to look for signs on where to park and jump right into the Workout Challenge class.  Signs?  None basically, just guest parking and an arrow to 5 spaces.  There was one car parked.  I thought, "Oh crap.  Did I miss it?  Is no one here?"  Another car parked next to meet and the three of us got out of our and started to walk.  Luckily we were stopped by a helpful employee who told us we needed to keep going and park in the back.  Aha!  That's where all the cars were!  I met up with my Sister-in-law, Stephanie and we headed back to the lawn area.  It was beautiful.  I little chilly and overcast, but considering that we were about to work our butts off, the conditions were perfect.

Post workout 80's hair.  Hello volume.  And of course a Hydroflask comes with me always.  thanks to my SIL - Stephanie for hanging in there with me.  

Post workout 80's hair.  Hello volume.  And of course a Hydroflask comes with me always.  thanks to my SIL - Stephanie for hanging in there with me.  

The workout itself was awesome-sauce!  I had searched Youtube the night before for videos by Anna Kaiser to see if I was in over my head.  What I found were exercises I do at home every now and then so I felt I wouldn't look totally out of my element aside from the fact that I have little coordination, but hey I could give a good chuckle to those around me as they watched me with two left feet.  She started off with a great little upbeat warm up, breathing and then boom, right into cardio.  She was like the Energizer Bunny.  She talked the whole time - jumping, running, punching, you name it.  When the hour hit, I was ready to fall on the floor.  Nope, she just kept going and going.  OMG, an hour and half nearly of cardio and muscle specific exercises.  All great but here is what I learned:

1. She kept saying she was working muscles typically not utilized during running.  Well, I use all my muscles during running woman!  Every part of my body works hard.  Lol.  

2. She had a great body.  I could see her abs from the way back.  I decided right then that this mom of 4 admired those abs, but not enough to work my ass as hard as she must work to get those abs.  I love my cake...ice cream...cookies...

3. Why were these exercises so hard when I do them at home?  Oh, right when I get tired at home I reward myself by taking a break and replenishing "calories".

Yum!  So fruity.

Yum!  So fruity.

Now here is the "downside" or perhaps better said, other experience of the workout.  There were a ton of cameras.  They were not taking pics of me or hardly anyone else NOT in ASICS gear.  At one point, I just followed them with my eyes and saw them zooming in on about 4-5 specific girls.  All in ASICS gear though.  Sometimes the ladies would stop doing the routine and "pose" for the camera dong a specific skill.  I found it odd in some way.  The instructor even called out names, to assist with form, encourage ladies "You got this! ______, You are working hard!".  Yet, it was the same girls those cameras focused on.  Since I had just arrived to Napa and this workout was after the morning Yoga, I though perhaps they had met her prior or maybe they were part of her workout group.  I would later find out there was a specific reason for all this ASICS specific video taping, instructor support, etc.

One of those glasses was mine.  I did indeed drink...at 10:30 in the morning.

One of those glasses was mine.  I did indeed drink...at 10:30 in the morning.

Bib pick up included a race shirt, drawstring bag, socks and shoes

Bib pick up included a race shirt, drawstring bag, socks and shoes

Love this woman!  Always keeps it real and is just wonderful.  Photo: Andrea Hall  Perks of having a tall friend, appropriate angled selfie.

Love this woman!  Always keeps it real and is just wonderful.  Photo: Andrea Hall  Perks of having a tall friend, appropriate angled selfie.

Shoe pick up.  No lines, just ask anyone you think can give you shoes.

Shoe pick up.  No lines, just ask anyone you think can give you shoes.

After the workout, I actually enjoyed wine.  Yup, I was spent and this momma who doesn't normally drink decided that at 10:30 in the morning it was ok to have a little white wine.  It was good.  Surprisingly, I took a picture of the bottle and just might buy a some for the house.  It was so fruity.  Mmmmm, delicious.  With that, my sister in law and I headed out and took the short drive up from the winery to the "expo".  I use this lightly because they had about 5 vendors, of course a ASICS pop up shop and then bib pick up.  Now to get a more detailed description of bib pick up and a similar experience, click your way over to Carlee's recap of ASICS.  Thank goodness her and Dre were there with me or else I would have thought my weekend to be almost a waste.  I will say this about the bib pick up, it was chaotic.  There were no lines or signs to let someone know where to student to get bibs, shirts, shoes.  I just stood behind someone hoping I was in the right place.  At one point, the woman behind the solution table looked at me and asked if she could help.  My response, "I don't have a problem yet to come to your table, but it's not looking promising I won't be there soon".  Now, I wasn't rude when I said this.  I laughed and so did she.  But hey, like I said it was a hot mess of people in there.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the drawstring bag provided and they gave socks too.  Although the shoe distribution area could have been better run.  No smiling, no identification of who to ask, just someone popping in front of my face with the first words, "Ok what shoe and size?".  How about a "Hello.  How are you doing?"  Since no formal greeting, I decided to be honest back and said "No clue what I registered for.  I don't wear ASICS shoes so what do you have that is light and for a neutral runner in a size 8.5?"  She didn't seem offended and gave me a box.  Here's what they could have done better:

1. Have a sign!  A sign where to get shoes.  Heck a sign where to line up

2. Have the ladies passing out the shoes, be clearly identified

3. Mark our bibs.  I made note they never asked to see a bib or ID.  I could have gone to the second woman and got another pair of shoes if I wanted.  It would have been easy to get multiple  pair since there was no checks and balances.

With all this being said, I will look at the chaos from the event employee perspective.  There were more runners asking for "stuff" than volunteers.  Without the proper preplanning, I can imagine they were just trying to get runners in and out.  

My picture in front of the asics logo wearing lululemon and new balance.

My picture in front of the asics logo wearing lululemon and new balance.

It was such a great day, that we decided to hang out around the vendors and snap some pics.  I got to talking to the woman behind the Girls on the Run (GOTR) table.  Turns out she lives in Napa.  Dre had mentioned that she was at the Deena Kastor dinner the night prior (so jealous)and heard that ASICS didn't even come close to selling this event out.  No one knew what the official numbers were, but participants were few.  With overhearing this, GOTR vendor asked why I thought attendance was low.  I made the comment I thought publicity was lacking.  She added that she only heard about the race recently, had no idea about the course and she LIVES in Napa.  Things were starting to formulate in my mind: specific people being photographed, lack of advertising (in my mind), no local signs up announcing the race in the area, I started to wonder the effort that went into this race.

Time to get out of my comfort zone once again, this time with the awesome Carlee

Time to get out of my comfort zone once again, this time with the awesome Carlee

I headed down after lunch to the hotel, met up with Carlee and we shared stories of how bib pick up went.  Sad that we had similar experiences.  Again, her recap here.  An hour later, we made the long, traffic drive up to Charles Krug for yoga.  That also was wonderful.  I have never done a "formal" yoga class so I naturally went to the back.  Carlee and I were asked to move to the front for pictures, we thought it was for a brief time, but we ended up staying the entire time.  Since I didn't have my camera, no pictures were taking.  Too bad because it would have been hilarious.  Oh when he asked to do crow pose, I nearly laughed out loud.  

Once again, however cameras were clicking away, but only for specific women.  One of which was right next to me.  Twice, they were right in her face, with her ASICS gear head to toe, and she obliged by doing yoga positions that the entire group was not doing at the time.  Completely staged.  It made me giggle a little, but since i experienced the workout in the morning, I was't surprised.  I wasn't surprised that again certain names were being called out to show support.  However, unlike the morning, the Yogi and his assistants were excellent in making their way around the crowd and helping everyone fix form.  It was a great experience and if only I could afford and have the time to do a yoga class on the regular I just might.  

Can't say enough about this cool Gal.  She's an all around fabulous person.  So glad I got to spend a little time with her this past weekend

Can't say enough about this cool Gal.  She's an all around fabulous person.  So glad I got to spend a little time with her this past weekend

Carlee and I headed back down to find a place to eat.  Besides the company, the best part of the evening had to be dinner.  We sat next to four people, two couples who were quite tipsy.  Silverware slamming, yelling, crying, drunken sharing to neighboring tables all were witnessed.  Best part?  These weren't 20 somethings having a dramatic spat, they were well into the latter years of middle age.  Oh, the things to be heard.  After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for race day.  

Early race day morning, Carlee drove up to the finish line since she had to be a rode warrior and make her way to Socal right after for 6:30 dinner plans.  Needless to say, she made it with 35 minutes to spare, but this is Carlee and if anyone can do what seems the impossible, she can.  Ok, back to race morning, I got up and left a little later than I wanted because I got distracted by white hair.  Ok, I digress, but as I was brushing my teeth, I saw the glimmer of something silver and spent nearly 10 minutes trying to get that sucker out!  WTF?  I know I'm no spring chicken, but white hair be gone!  I got ready, jumped in the car and made my way to the Meritage hotel to meet up with Stephanie and Dre.  Again, lack of signs.  There was no sign telling runners where the shuttle would be and when the shuttle came the driver actually asked us where we thought they wanted him to park.  Planning fail, ASICS.  

We made it to the start line with 50 minutes to spare.  It was pretty quiet.  Stephanie, Dre, Carlee and I started to wonder how many runners there actually would be.  My bib was 266, so I joked that perhaps only 300.  Hmmm, sad part is I was almost spot on.  There was about 303 runners in total.  Yikes.  Not to mention, perhaps 25 or so of those spots were giveaways of some sort.  Again with the pictures, ASICS rocking peeps only.  Carlee and I were asked again to come to the front, this time to the start line and do a jumping pic, but hey we weren't wearing ASICS!  LOL.  Ok, I had a tank on, I had made some last minute effort and found a clearance tank to wear to the race.  So they took an upper body shot and found ASICS friendly runners.  Made Carlee and us giggle, me a little more since it was a perk of having a bright personality for a friend near me otherwise no one would ask for me to be in a pic.  

Start Line

Start Line

I clearly need to work on my Carlee face

I clearly need to work on my Carlee face

The race was about to start, surprise, surprise almost everyone at the start line had ASICS on.  The biggest part was Alysia Montano and Deena Kastor were behind us.  OH. EM.  GEE!!!!!!  Carlee took a selfie of us, I look crazy, need to practice my excited face as to not scare little children.  The national anthem was played, they took the obligatory preface pics with a camera, video and drone; and we were off!  

The signs were so cute.  Not all the signs showed up well in pictures since most of them were written in light purple paint.  

The signs were so cute.  Not all the signs showed up well in pictures since most of them were written in light purple paint.  

Blurry picture of Alysia Montano running up the incline

Blurry picture of Alysia Montano running up the incline

Ok, so here's the thing about the race, the entire thing was to be run on the shoulder of an already narrow road.  Basically 300 runners were pushed into a bike lane and in some instances not even the width of a bike lane.  The cars that went by, went whizzing by, enough to wear I could feel a good size breeze at times.  We were all moving targets, lol.  I joked, almost like a game of frogger.  The course itself was "hilly".  Not San Francisco steep hills, but inclines that seemed to go on for 400m to almost a mile.  I started to count how many times we went "up" and it was somewhere around 6, maybe 7.  My legs were not feeling that.  I have said before and I will say again, I am a middle of the pack runner (and happy there), so three races in three weekends not to mention about a 2.5 hour workout the day before (cardio/body strength/yoga) had me feeling every muscle in my body.  At first, I was a bit consumed by trying to perform close to what I did at Tink the weekend prior, but then I told myself it would make me miserable.  So once again, I decided to just enjoy the run, make sure to smile with each step even if it was up hill.  Don't get me wrong, this run was a struggle.  I felt like I was making lead legs move.  The workouts from the previous day was showing.  Those muscles she said I don't really use while running...LIAR!  My back and ass were on fire!   And let me tell you, mile 9.4 to mile 10.4 was all a curved uphill climb.  I smiled though, that's all one can do.  

From mile 4, I was cheesing it.  With each runner I was about to pass, I hovered a little and tried to chat or offer words of encouragement, "You are a strong runner", "Looking good", "A great day to run Napa".  Who knows if they were happy I was saying anything or wanted to push me in front of cars, but I kept doing that along the way, up until mile 12 when I just wanted to be done and started to pick up pace a little.  I thanked every volunteer on every corner and water station.  I even chatted with the photogs bit at some point.  I asked them some very pointed questions while running.  I had noticed around mile 4 that they were tell runners "Cheer!" "Hands up and smile", "Run together".  All runners in ASICS.  I never saw them snap a pic of me.  I was solo for most of the run, behind a few people or in front and I never noticed, not saying they didn't though.  I also heard them say "Blogger" tons.  So I asked if they had specifics they were looking for or certain runners.  Sure enough the bloggers who were asked to be there were high on the list.  Most of the ladies they snapped pics of I remembered from Yoga the day before, they were wearing the same gear.  I appreciated their honesty and kept going, realizing that this entire race appeared to be an inaugural promo for next year.  Haha!  I continued on the course and when I got to relay exchange points (yes a half had 4 people relay teams.  I am so doing that next year.  Anyone in?  I'll do the 2nd leg - less than 3 miles.  lol) I gave a few high-5's, I stopped to take some pics, I shouted out to those runners on the opposite side of the road.  I even chatted a few seconds with two dads and their sons who were spectating on the course.  I didn't take a pic, as a parent I don't want my kids' picture on some random person's social media account.  One little boy asked, "So all these people are going to run up that hill?"  His dad said "Yup.  I thought this would be a good point for us to come cheer them on", it was the base of mile 9.4.  He was certainly right.  

The purple is hard to read (hence why I didn't share the other mile signs) but mile 13, just around the corner...

The purple is hard to read (hence why I didn't share the other mile signs) but mile 13, just around the corner...

Not too shabby for trying to take it easy

Not too shabby for trying to take it easy

I finished the race with a sprint and a smile.  Like a dork I put my hands up, but alas there was not camera person at the finish line.  Darn!  I was hoping for another winning finish line photo.  After I realized that, I looked for water, but nope just flavored water.  So I took pineapple flavor and gulped it down, not too bad.  At this point I saw Dave and the boys.  I gave them a kiss and hug and set out to get my medal, wine and wineglass.  I wish that I would have been able to stay and hang out for some post race eats, but Asher wasn't feeling good and looked worse.  We made our way back to the hotel for me to clean up and make the 2 hour drive home.  

So here it is people (I know this is a super duper long recap).  Yes, I feel they missed some huge opportunities to make this race spectacular.  Their lack of friendly service at some points, signage, and inclusiveness made this inaugural race seem more of a small town effort rather than a big company with experience sponsoring big tie races.  Yet, after talking to volunteers, photographers, locals, and even witnessing the "behind the scenes" happenings I conclude that any runner not in ASICS was basically fill in, like extras in a movie to make the promo videos look great for next year.  It came across as this year being their effort to create the PR for going big next year, or so I hope.  Would I do it again? I can't say no, but there would be different expectations.  I would obviously go with friends, decide to almost walk the race and take goofy pics along the way, do all the workouts and yoga offered, and drink.  Would I pay $250 for it?  Hmmmm again for a runner who does not run in ASICS, that's a hard one.  Biggest question, would I recommend the race?  Yes and no.  If you want to have a fun girls weekend of drinking, good weather, and pretty vineyards with a race thrown in for the hell of it, then go ahead.  It will be your thing regardless if they improve anything. If you expect to see equitable customer service, well organized (signs and all volunteers knowing what the heck is gong on) events and a safer course, then I would say this is not the race for you.  At that point, create your own girls weekend in Napa, go out for a training run in town, drink and daring buy yourself some shoes you will love.  It would be cheaper.  This is one of those races that has the potential to be so much more than what it was, to be more than just a big long social media commercial filming for next year when I feel the prices will go up.  I'm sad that it wasn't more, but you know what I still had a great time.  It was just the perfect little 24 hr getaway with some pretty rockin' women.  Expensive as hell?  Yes!  Yet, I wouldn't take anything back because I got to laugh, drink and heck I got a whole bed to myself without a 2 year putting a foot in my face.  That alone might make me the biggest winner of the entire weekend!

Photo from Andrea Hall, IG: @renewedme 😊

Photo from Andrea Hall, IG: @renewedme 😊

RunDisney TinkerBell Half Marathon and Mother's Day Recap...finally

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Ok, it's been a good week (or more 🙈) since my TinkberBell half marathon.  I mean at this point, why should I even write a recap?  Yet, I have had one more race this past weekend and it seemed silly to jump into that recap before addressing the awesome experience I had at Tink!

A little background beforehand. About a year and a half ago I told Dave I wanted to run all the RunDisney races before I turn 40.  Well, I have had to modify that bucket list just a bit.  For one, the prices, OMG they have gone up and keep going up.  There is no way to keep up with that pricing increase.  Second, they keep adding races!  Since I made this "goal", they added Paris, Star Wars Dark Side race weekend, Wine and Dine 10k, and a 10k for Avengers.  Well, I am no spring chicken so all the races before 40 was NOT happening.  So I said the new goal will be all the West Coast RunDisney races prior to 40.  That left me with a couple of 5ks, a 10k and the Tink half.  

I admit, going into this weekend I wasn't too stoked on running this race.  For whatever reasons, I just wasn't looking forward to the early wake up, the corral crowds, the weaving around people and so forth.  I was tired just thinking about it.  Not to mention it was Mother's Day weekend, I wasn't going to be able to spend it with my own mother and my eldest son couldn't come because of school so it wasn't looking like it was going to be the best.  However, once in Disneyland how could I not be excited?

You are looking at mom-son goals.  These two are so awesome!  Congrats on all your races you two!   

You are looking at mom-son goals.  These two are so awesome!  Congrats on all your races you two!   

First stop, @werunsocial meet up!  If anything was to get me excited for race weekend it was seeing all the running peeps!  It was great to chat it up with running friends, hear about how the 5k and the 10k races went and to simply just laugh.  It was fun after the long and "scenic" (sarcasm) drive down I5 to get out of the car and immediately laugh and eat cupcakes (yum!!! Happy Birthday to @Ivie!)  Werunsocial always hosts great tweet ups.  If you ever have a chance to attend one, I highly recommend it.  Don't be intimidated, EVERYONE is super welcoming, nice, and genuinely interested in knowing about you.  Oh and a huge congrats goes out to @jmangilit who ran his first half marathon!  

Just some of my fave people 💙 Sam marlon and Julian

Just some of my fave people 💙 Sam marlon and Julian

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There really isn't much to say about the expo itself.  Typical RunDisney expo.  Bib and shirt pick up went smoothly.  They really do have it down to a science.  The expo, like all their others, had the typical vendors.  We didn't stay long.  Trying to avoid the purchasing trap.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and think you really do need all the things.  I do regret not making my way through the crowd to visit the @Sparkleathletic booth.  The donut skirt is seriously calling my name!  

Now for race day aka Mother's Day.  Early morning wake up as is typical for Disney races - not as bad as WDW - but still early.  I got up and of course Asher sat right up.  Poor Dave then had to be awake at 4am with a whiny 2 year old who only started to cry a little louder when he saw me with running clothes on.  I grabbed my Honey Stinger Strawberry Waffle which was a new flavor for me (race day rookie move, I know) and headed out the door.  Finished off about half of it and started to jog towards the corrals.  For some reason, people get a little upset when people are warming up, jogging past them.  "Show off" was yelled my way, meant to be funny, sure, but ouch.  Just trying to warm up the limbs, not trying to show off.  I got to Disneyland Dr and it was bottlenecked too much to jog much more so I walked.  They had us loop around into the Paradise Pier Hotel parking lot and cross in front of the port-o-potties.  That didn't seem like such a good idea.  It was so congested, people were jumping bushes, pushing to keep up with friends and others were just trying to get to an open bathroom.  I finally made it up to corral A and spent more time jogging up and down to keep loose and to also not stress to much about the race.  Race day jitters are real and everytime I am placed in corral A or anything near the front, I start to doubt myself and worry about being in the way of "real runners".  

Almost go time.  

Almost go time.  

I entered the corral with about 15 minutes until the start.  I spied the 1:55 pacer and decided to stay about 2-3 rows behind her.  This was not an "A" race for me, so I wasn't trying to rush out from the start.  I have a terrible time pacing myself and figured 1:55 would be a good place to be. Well, not even a quarter mile in and I had to get around the 1:55 pace group.  She was cute and all, but she was chatty, even chattier than I am when running.  Not to mention the group was HUGE!  They basically took the whole expanse of the road. I sped around them and used her voice as motivation.  Whenever I heard her voice close, I sped up.  This lasted for maybe 2 miles and then I no longer could hear her or see her.  

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Don't know who she is but I certainly hope she got the perfect picture and bought it.   

Don't know who she is but I certainly hope she got the perfect picture and bought it.   

At this point I had to change my game plan.  I wasn't looking at my watch, I wanted to run each mile by feel, run the mile I was in basically.  I was having a blast, feeling good.  I stopped for a picture in the hub.  I had wanted to take a picture in front of the castle, but some random lady kept jumping in the middle in front of the cameras to get the "perfect" jump shot.  What I had noticed as I was leaving Disneyland were the same ladies around me.  I had then decided to keep an eye on about 4 runners and try to stick with them. Whether that meant I was in front or they were, I was going to use them to pace me.  I had no clue what they were running, but I felt good and it felt relatively comfortable.  

Thank you random stranger for pulling me along. I certainly hope you also got a PR.  

Thank you random stranger for pulling me along. I certainly hope you also got a PR.  

However, at about mile 6, things changed a little.  The 4 runners I was keeping an eye on had dwindled to one.  I had passed them all and I think lost them at the water stops.  Side note: I was taking the water stop like a boss!  Didn't have to slow down too much, no sloshing water on myself or in my nose and nailed each garbage can.  I was in the zone.  Haha!  The one woman remaining had her game face on.  She was determined.  Headphones in, eyes straight, no posing for the camera.  Ummmm, I decided to just ham it up the whole time.  I cheered on the other runners that I passed, high 5'd the water stop volunteers, did a little fist pumping with the bands, heck I was having a blast.  I passed my secret pacer a few times, but she would charge ahead.  I had no goal of trying to beat her, although I think she was determined to not have me beat her.  At mile 11, I saw her pick up, but at this point the finishing miles met up with mile 4-5 and we ran next to each other for over a mile.  I decided to let her go, I didn't need her anymore and I ran cheering on the mile 4-5 runners.  Oddly, I find rooting for others probably does more for lifting my spirits than maybe theirs.  When they look back at me and smile, I just want them to realize how awesome they are and that they truly are doing a great job.  Every step is better than the last, every effort is better than quitting.  

Wait, what?!?!  A brand new PR

Wait, what?!?!  A brand new PR

I love that he was just as excited as me for the race I had just run.  

I love that he was just as excited as me for the race I had just run.  

As I made my way down the chute near the Disneyland hotel, I got a glimpse of the mile 13 marker with the time 1:43:xx on it.  In that moment, since I had spent the whole race not looking at my watch, I said to myself, "Holy crap, I am going to PR this race.  Ruuuuunnnnnn!"  I lifted my hands up, shouting thanks to the spectators and charged ahead, rounding the corner and eyeing the finishing line.  I typically have Dave's hand to hold up when I finish a race, this time it was all me and I made a bee line towards Mickey (sorry Daisy on the other side) and gave him a fierce Hi-5.  I looked at my watch to stop it and immediately had tears in my eyes.  I could not believe it.  One week after a marathon and I was able to take down a two year half marathon PR by 2+ minutes.  Best.  Feeling.  Ever!!!  

Nice look back Mickey Mouse!  

Nice look back Mickey Mouse!  

I have done many many Disney races and this was one of the most emotional times I had receiving a medal from volunteers.  I think they saw those happy tears in my eyes because I went to the first girl to get my medal and either side patted me on the back and said congratulations, as I made my way past the 2 rows of volunteers behind her, they did the same.  Although I was dreading this race in some ways - I am not a huge TinkerBell fan (gasp) and it was Mother's Day weekend being celebrated without my oldest - it is also one I will never forget.  I even bought the race photos (or Dave bought them for me) and I have shamelessly looked over them a million times laughing and smiling.  

I even stayed a little to listen to the band. I never typically do.  

I even stayed a little to listen to the band. I never typically do.  

Medal and flower for Mother's Day park accessory

Medal and flower for Mother's Day park accessory

The drink was waaaaay bigger than the picture but delicious. Dave was helpful and finished it off for me. 😜 

The drink was waaaaay bigger than the picture but delicious. Dave was helpful and finished it off for me. 😜 

  • Mother's Day this year, although not what I had thought it would be in terms of celebrating, was nearly perfect.  After the race, Disneyland gave carnations to mothers.  It proved to be the perfect addition to my Tink medal.  The boys took me to eat and I even had a drink!  I had to pick one from the menu that looked "pretty" because I seriously have no clue.  I couldn't have asked for a better Disneyland Mother's Day - spent with (most) of my boys, running a fun race, enjoying every moment, and obtaining a PR.    
My boys minus one

My boys minus one

Pony Express Pony 5k recap (kids race)

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     My race on May 1st was very fun.  I had trained for 5 weeks with classmates at my school, Donner Elementary.  Every Tuesday and Thursday I had to meet after school to run.  On race day, we were told to meet everyone at the purple balloons.  There were a lot of kids from all over Sacramento.  

     Before I left to find my group, my brother Gabriel gave me advice.  He told me to not go out too fast so I on't get too tired to run faster at the end of the race.  He also told me to not worry about how fast others are going at the start.  Run my own race.  When I met with my school, I found my friends and we walked to the front of the start line.  I was at the front of the start line.  I was very excited but nervous at the same time.  After awhile, an announcement came on saying that the race was starting in five minutes.  When I heard this, I got very excited.  The horn blew and the race started.  

     At first, I ran with my friends, but after awhile I sped up and left them.  I soon caught up to 4 people who ran faster than me at the beginning.  I passed the fourth person as we excited Old Sacramento.  I went up a bridge and when I got to the downhill part, I sped up because it was easier to speed up going down.  The water station was coming up, but I skipped it.  I didn't need any water.  Then I came to the third person.  He saw me and sped up.  I still had half the race left so I didn't speed up.  I didn't want to waste my energy trying to pass him.  At least 5 people passed means I turned the corner to cross the Sacramento Bridge.  

     As I approached the highest point of the bridge, I could see the finish line.  Once I had that in view, I started to sprint,  I went really fast and sprinted past the finish line.  I finished in 25:23.  I am proud of the race I ran.  I want to get faster.  My goal is to run a 5k in 24 minutes.  

Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport™ Review

Being a part of the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Series #RockNBlog team definitely has it's perks. One of them is getting to use and review cool products such as the Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport™ Fitness Locker, Pack-It Sport™ Shoe Locker and Pack-It Sport™ Roll Top Sac. 

These innovative products are the only way to keep your workout gear organized and odor free. 

They're perfect for a race vacation or otherwise known as a "raceation." However, how many times a year do you get to travel for a race? These bags are so versatile that they should be used every day. 

I have found them to be perfect after my lunchtime run aka "runch." No more throwing sweaty clothes into shopping bags or worse, hanging them in my cubicle (EWWWW!) 

Now that I've been using my Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport™ bags, I never catch my coworkers trying to de-stink my cubicle with febreeze! 

These bags are

  • made of ultra light, water resistant fabric
  • machine washable
  • antimicrobial to keep the odor in and prevent microbial growth
  • easy to carry or hang using the top grab handle

My recommendation - don't just use the bags to pack race gear for a weekend, pack them everyday for a lunch run or to the gym!

Many thanks to @EagleCreekGear and @RunRocknRoll for an awesome partnership. I was provided a set of Pack-It Sport™ bags to review for the RockNBlog team. All opinions are my own. 

Pony Express Marathon Recap

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It's been a few days since David and I ran the Pony Express Marathon.  I think I have had sufficient enough time to digest everything that lead up the race and the actual day; and let me tell you I am pleased.  I want to back track a little and talk briefly about training and goals.  I  know, I know, I probably should have done that before the race, but hey, I have said before there is nothing consistent with this little family blog we have.  We try not to put to much emphasis on it since family time is what is most important for us, not to mention our days are cray-cray as it is so I am not adding one more to do list item to not be checked off at the end of the day.  Haha!

Ok, training.  I took a leap of faith and followed Dave with the Hansons Method for two reasons.  The first being that we do not have a babysitter but were both training for a marathon, if we didn't want to spend the entire weekend running, we needed to enlist a plan that didn't have 20 mile runs.  We could beg enough people to watch the kids (minus Asher) for a couple hours.  Secondly, I have heard rave reviews from numerous people and saw how Dave shaved off nearly 30 minutes from his first marathon to his second marathon a couple years ago.  However, I also saw the hard, hard work that went into training.  The 6 days a week, the longish runs during the week, the workouts, etc.  I was not looking forward to that and as you know my training runs were with the stroller a majority of the time , but I went with it and I am so glad I did.  I have told a few people in the past, but I really was shooting for anything around the 4 hours mark, not sub 4, but 4:05 - 4:15.  Huge window I know, but training for this as a mom of 4 is anything but conventional (to be blogged about another day.  Trust me I have thoughts on this part) and I wanted to set a good goal, but nothing that would leave me disappointed on race day if I didn't come close to that time.  16 weeks came and went fast, but also slow.  When that last taper week came, I was welcoming it.  My body and mind was certainly feeling tired.  

I felt that I did my best during training.  I worked my butt off and wanted to prove to myself that I could do this, I could run 26.2 miles.  Yet, at the same time I was incredibly nervous, immensely intimidated by the distance.  I had those "Debbie Downer" thoughts in my head: "Even 4:15 might be a long shot Paula.  Maybe readjust that goal to an even bigger window", "Maybe marathons are not for you.  Do the Half Marathon and try your best at that", "It's going to be hot, you don't do well with heat" and so on.  Dave was great at reassuring me as sooooo many others did too.  I have to thank each person who encouraged me via social media, in person, by text that morning.  It helped me A LOT!!!  To know that others had faith that I could start and finish a marathon helped me believe in myself. 

Now onto the actual race weekend!  I helped at the expo on Friday and learned a few things that I didn't even know about the race.  The biggest being that there would be no gear check.  I found that odd considering that it was a marathon and I know many runners like to check things for post-race. Dave and I actually wanted to check our birkenstocks for after the race, but changed our mind after that info was given.  I encountered a few runners upset by this fact but no one truly angry.  Not to mention this posed a problem after the race with entry into the Beer Garden. We both had wristbands, but Dave was denied because he didn't have ID. Well, no gear check, no wallet, no ID. We didn't want to walk all the way to the car and back so we skipped the beer after the race. Hopefully next year it is something they are able to provide.  The expo itself was small, but had enough vendors to intrigue people.  Bib pick up was easy and quick although a plastic bag to hold the goods would have been nice (trivial I know).  Best part of bib pick up was getting a bottle of Yolo Brew Pony Express beer!.  I don't drink but I was pretty excited by this fact and quickly made the decision that if I survived the race (dramatic I know), then I would actually drink some.  Needless to say I did have some and it was delish.  

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Saturday, Chris Malenab held a tweet-up at the expo.  We were of course late and missed the group picture, but it was nice to catch some of our fellow runners to wish them luck and talk about goals for the next day.  Sometimes the best part of a race weekend is not so much the race but all the social opportunities.  There is just something about connecting with other people who genuinely want others to succeed too.  It's a feel good type of thing and regardless of what someone's goals are, encouragement and confidence also comes with running friendships.  

All smiles prior to the start. Behind us is Running 4 Rhett. Great organization emphasizing "Run because You Can!"  And Rhett's mom, is pretty awesome. I work with her and admire how her family has created something so wonderful after her son passed away. ❤

All smiles prior to the start. Behind us is Running 4 Rhett. Great organization emphasizing "Run because You Can!"  And Rhett's mom, is pretty awesome. I work with her and admire how her family has created something so wonderful after her son passed away. ❤

Sunday was the big day.  The night before, my mom actually was gracious enough to take the 3 older boys to sleep over.  Dave and I only had Asher to contend with the night before.  I surprisingly slept better than I do most pre race nights, only waking 4 times.  We got up around 5 am, ate, got ready and double checked that Asher had all his things for being dropped off to my mom's house.  Once dropped off, we were on our way and I had to confess to Dave I was nervous, worried about my performance.  I didn't want all those miles and hours to be for nothing.  I started to put all this pressure on myself to do really well.  Thankfully, again, Dave is really good about calming me down.  We got to the race, saw several people that we knew running the race.  We tried to remember to do the obligatory pre race selfies with others, but we are always bad at that.  We did get to snap a pic with the other Pony Express Ambassadors and 9run6 crew.      

All the peeps!  See that young lady on the end, to the right?  Alexia ran her first marathon and BQ'd!!!   Erin and Chris were instrumental in getting her to achieve such a huge goal. PC: Brian Crilly

All the peeps!  See that young lady on the end, to the right?  Alexia ran her first marathon and BQ'd!!!   Erin and Chris were instrumental in getting her to achieve such a huge goal. PC: Brian Crilly

After we warmed up, used the port-o-potties (so gross) and took pics, we headed to the start.  The half marathon and marathon were all starting together and there were no corrals.  It was interesting to see pacers with times from 1:30 - 4:30 standing near each other.  I overheard someone look at the 1:30 pacer and remark "Those marathoners sticking with that pacer are hauling ass!"  Yes, to run 26.2 miles in 1:30 would be a huge feat!  Lightened up my uneasiness a little.  So thank you to the random runner for the random statement.  The race started a bit late, 7 mins, but it allowed my to readjust my shoes a few times.  At 7:07, the race was underway and I immediately let Dave know that I wasn't going to look at my watch and that he needed to be my pacer.  Surprise!  I know, not cool letting someone know that while running the first mile, but I tend to go out to fast and crash and burn.  As always, Dave was ok with that and let me know if we were "coming in hot" as he would say.  

The first mile, mile and a half was a bit congested since it was the half and full together, but once the two distances departed from each other the road was clear.  We did not have to do any weaving and we were able to take the tangents pretty close.  We were carrying our own water bottles, but had decided to use their water stops, every other one.  Kudos to PEM, there were water spots every miles for the first 14-15 miles.  It helped since the course was full sun, a little wind and it was warm.  Running along the river was nice, a different scenery that suburban streets that for sure.  Some water spots had pretzels and oranges even.  The first half went well,  I chatted and Dave just said "yup".  I'm a chatty runner.  We finished the first half about 2 minutes under goal so I was feeling good at this point.  We started to pass runners around mile 14, some which we knew and we chatted with some of them for awhile.  That made the miles pass by a little quicker.

Now after miles 16 or so, water stops didn't seem so close.  And orange slices were non existent.  I kept searching for those orange slices.  But none.  Bummer.  I had fuel, but I could tell that my stomach with the heat wasn't going to tolerate eating them as frequently as I needed to so I had to readjust.  In reality I had to make a quick decision to under fuel and save my stomach, rather than perhaps give myself that "energy", but have issues for the last miles of the race and after.  Would you have done the same?  I don't know, but I did not want to spend the day with an upset stomach.  As we approached mile 18 and on, we were leaving the river and heading into suburban territory.  I had assumed that this would be where I would be strong or at least feel good because I actually like running on neighborhood streets.  Alas, I was wrong.  The Land Park area of Sacramento seemed to go on forever, with turns and hills!  Ok ok not San Francisco hills, but when you are at mile 20-23 and there is any incline it is a hill.  Dave and I were ever so grateful for our friend Stephanie who we saw on the course TWICE and Derek.  Seeing these faces helped give us a little boost.  Since the course is mostly along the river, spectators were very very few.  The only cheering really only came from the aid stations.  Seeing people that we knew helped a lot.  

She might have been one of the only spectators out there. It was hot and we are so grateful she waited for us to take this pic. We are still smiling at this point, lol but not much longer. Haha. 📷: Stephanie

She might have been one of the only spectators out there. It was hot and we are so grateful she waited for us to take this pic. We are still smiling at this point, lol but not much longer. Haha. 📷: Stephanie

Here's where it gets a little sad, ok for me a little sad.  Dave and I, whenever we race together, we ALWAYS finish together.  When we say we race together, we don't mean that we register and then do our own thing, we actually race together.  Many many races Dave has held back because he is a stronger runner than me.  I however had told him before this race to please please leave me if I am holding him back because this race was for me to prove to myself that I could do it.  He agreed and told me to do the same, but I brushed him off.  He is most definitely a stronger runner than me, faster, more endurance, but on Sunday at PEM I actually had more "gas in the tank" than him.  Around mile 18, I could see he was not feeling it.  By mile 20, my feet were a little ahead of his.  Right before mile 23 I pulled ahead and I slowly heard his feet distance themselves from mine.  I knew that I had left him, but I told myself to just get to the mile 24 marker and wait for him.  I did just that.  I stopped and waited, searching for him.  I wasn't sure how far behind he was.  Then I saw him frantically waving his arms forward.  I knew what he was saying, he was telling me to go, but I felt beyond guilty leaving him.  He slowly came closer and yelled at me to go.  I looked at him and knew that I needed to and with that I slowly picked up my pace and left him.  This is the first race ever that we have not finished together and I hope the last.

I'm nearing the end and so grateful!  Less than a 5k to go at this point. Please ignore the eyes closed. 😂 📷: Stephanie Ganeban

I'm nearing the end and so grateful!  Less than a 5k to go at this point. Please ignore the eyes closed. 😂 📷: Stephanie Ganeban

With me running by myself, no orange slices to be found and me deciding to push through taking no fuel, I started to dump water on my back because I was really feeling the heat.  I started to countdown blocks to the turns.  The beauty of city running for me.  I would tell myself, 4 blocks until turning left and start counting down.  By the time I got to mile 25, I wanted to be finished.  I wanted to walk.  I wanted to curse at the aid station people yelling "You're almost there!"  As I turned the corner onto L Street, I passed the only 3 runners on that street.  The people on the side of the road were yelling "You can do it!" "You look strong" (suuuuurrrreee) "Keep going!".  I used that to help pick up the pace and as I turned the last left to see the finish line with no one in front or behind me, I sprinted.  Yup, I sprinted.  Who knew I had that left in me.  The announcer has to say last name 3 times to get it right.  Made me laugh while I was running.  I made the dash towards the finish and crossed that finish line not in the 4:15 I had told myself would be a far stretch for me to do, but actually under 4 hours!!!  

 

Finishers!  The medal is HUGE!   

Finishers!  The medal is HUGE!   

Photo op!  Had to after we couldn't get into the Beer Garden due to no ID. Again, gear check would have helped this PEM!!!!

Photo op!  Had to after we couldn't get into the Beer Garden due to no ID. Again, gear check would have helped this PEM!!!!

Disclosure: I was provided a free race entry as an ambassador for the Pony Express Marathon.  The opinions expressed herein are my own and represent my experience with the race.

Lessons about Stroller Running

I realized the other day that by the time we have had our Bugaboo Runner (read the review here) a full year I most likely will have logged close to 1000 miles, maybe more. 😳(I need to replace the tires, I'm sure. Hey Bugaboo wanna send me some tires?!?!  😜). Not many to some, but to me that number is astounding!  That's a lot of Asher crying, laughing, and sleeping. Yet the biggest things that I've loved about becoming an almost 100% of the time stroller runner (yes even my long weekend miles have been with the stroller most of the time) is the things that I have learned about stroller runners in general:

 

1. Stroller running moms and dads are badass!!!  Come on, pushing anything at any pace takes strength, perseverance and sheer will. The desire to get those miles regardless of how much your body wants to turn around and not finish the run.  

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2. We got speed!  Yup, when you see a runner with a stroller do not immediately assume they are slow. And remember when a stroller runner passes you DON'T say "I need to pick up the pace" or "I can't let a stroller pass me". Give a hi-5, cheer them on. Consider it a good thing they pass you, that stroller runner is putting in some serious hard work out there!  Their hard work to catch up to you only means you too are putting in hard work!  There are some speedy, quick like lightening stroller runners out there too. If you don't believe me check out (Erinamg, momslrb, littlebeastling, runfargirl, runemz and nycrunningmama) on Instagram. 

3. We hear your complaining about being behind a running stroller when you are on a training run or during a race. We are pushing a stroller, not hard of hearing. Those two are not mutually exclusive FYI. Also, if you groan about being behind a stroller please make sure that you pass them and ARE faster than the stroller. You don't want to get your ankle clipped. 😂. Just kidding, we try not to bump into anyone. Ok ok, I've thought of it before though.  

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4. Stroller running providers a regular running partner. There is no texting or calling back and forth to coordinate the run. There really isn't any compromising on miles or pace. The running partner is sitting right there in the stroller. Heck they are probably running entertainment too. Asher has started to clap for me while on training runs. Well, at least until he falls asleep. He's like my own personal cheerleader.

5. On the flip side, Stroller running makes it hard to run solo. It's a love/hate relationship with the stroller. One the one hand, there is the fabulous opportunity to bond with your child(ren), to incorporate strength training or even ensure that afternoon nap. Yet, when you do get to run by yourself, it can be lonely. It's always a battle between making the run "easier" and having a little company.

6.  Last but not least, I've learned stroller runners love a good hi-5, a pat on back, a "good job". As I've said over and over, pushing a 25-35lb stroller PLUS the weight of your child or children is tough!  When you see a runner on the race course, training on the street give a little wave, smile, cheer. It truly does help us run a little taller, forget about the struggle for a little while and push on.

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2016 RnRSF Race Recap: When Someone Hears Go, Go, Go! Instead of No, No, No!

This weekend was full of races - virtual and the IRL kind - a bit of travel, running with good friends and a fair bit of laughs. Sounds like a great weekend right? It absolutely was. Other than the part when one of the boys got sick, it was great.

It started on Friday when Paula set out to run virtually with a team of awesome ladies running for an even more awesome cause. The ladies of #TeamSparkle ran the Ragnar SoCal for Rett Syndrome (learn how to help support this great cause here). Their mission to run #Ragnar4Rett began on Friday and consisted of 190 miles of road running to end on Saturday. 

To pledge her support, Paula chose to run a virtual 5k at the same time the team began their grueling adventure. Awesome job this past weekend, #TeamSparkle!

On Saturday, Paula ran the inaugural @giantsrace here in our hometown of Sacramento. Since we had to travel down to San Francisco to make the We Run Social meetup in the afternoon, I chose to register her for the 5k instead of the 10k. 

It was a great day for racing and Paula did amazing! She PR'd and didn't feel like throwing up afterwards. Off to an awesome start, I'd say. After meeting up with fellow Rock N Bloggers, Andrew and Andrea, we all set off to meet up once again in San Francisco to gear up for the RnRSF Half Marathon. 

Andrew aka @smartwatermelon and Andrea aka @renewedme

Andrew aka @smartwatermelon and Andrea aka @renewedme

Andrew appropriately dubbed this weekend #SAC2SF. Fitting. We hit traffic on our way to The City and were late to the We Run Social Meetup. We were still able to catch up and chat with Brian, Mike and Richard. We even met Chris who hooked us up with #RunWestin swag to rep #TeamHeadband. 

Killin' it (or trying to), NP style.

Killin' it (or trying to), NP style.

We spent some time galavanting around the city before having dinner with friends. Unfortunately Jacob got a migraine that wouldn't subside and couldn't attend dinner which meant that we were three down. Nonetheless, we enjoyed great company and great food. After deciding on race plans we went our own way to get race ready. 

Since the race is a point to point course, we had to be shuttled to the Start Line so the plan was to meet in the hotel lobby at 430am. Yikes, that's early! Luckily I woke up with plenty of time to get ready, eat a banana and muffin and meet Brian and Mike in the lobby. We made the mile walk, met Richard and hopped on the shuttle buses (which were warm!) down to Ocean Beach Start Line. 

We made our way to the VIP area and enjoyed time with additional pre-race goodies, coffee and chatter. There was plenty of time to relax and even snap a pic with fellow Rock N Bloggers, Elizabeth and Sharon:

Photo: @Pavementrunner

Photo: @Pavementrunner

#SAC2SF continues

#SAC2SF continues

I was excited for this race because it was very reminiscent of #RnRLA where Mike, Brian and I ran together with no intention of setting any PR's. Heck, the last time Mike ran this course, he danced his way through most of it so we knew he was going to at least set a course PR. 

The miles - along with the hills - went by quickly and before you knew it, we were at Lincoln Hill where the Blue Mile was held. I stopped to snap a selfie with our flag and the Golden Gate bridge in view. Nailed it.

When you're running with good company, you don't mind the hills and as cliche as it may sound, the views ARE really worth the climb. Mike brought along his trusty new toy - a camera that records 360 degrees around and filmed us all crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out a snippet HERE. View it on a Mac or PC for the full effect! 

Eating donuts and taking selfies is tough! Remember this little gem from #RnRLA last year?

After more beautiful views, we neared the finish line. This is where the title of this post comes in. You see, Mike wanted to record us finishing the race together on his fancy schmancy camera and started to record. Somehow, the words "wanna go fast" came out (from who, I don't know) and Brian said No, No, No and Mike heard Go, Go, Go! and when you're already speeding up, we found ourselves sprinting thru the finish line which may or may not have been a great idea. But boy was it fun!

Photo: @Pavementrunner

Photo: @Pavementrunner

We cooled down with the Fam, congratulated each other on a job well done and said our "until next times." My first Rock 'n' Roll race of 2016 is already gonna be hard to beat!

We Are Far From Perfect

Carlee Padot McClurg:

But just because I am blessed does NOT mean I can rest on my laurels and continue to reap the benefits... We have to continually put the time and effort into our relationship! It's sort of like your fitness level. Say you get in shape - you can't just say that you're in shape and stop, because once you stop, your fitness level will begin to decline... I'm not saying it'll happen overnight, but slowly and definitely surely, if you stop putting in the effort you will stop reaping the rewards!

 

{Here's where I get up on my soapbox with my two cents} Put in the time and effort, NO MATTER WHAT! Do it even if you don't "feel" like it - I promise if you do the work your feelings will follow... eventually... The saying "Happy Wife, Happy Life" is soooo true! If you're marriage is thriving there's nothing that can stop you; make the time and give it all you've got! 

True. Far from it. You must put in the work to keep things from getting stale. Especially with children. A thin, yet complex layer develops in the relationship when children are added into the mix.

RnRDC recap....(insert sad emoji here)

What can I say about #RnRDC?  Hmmm let me start at the beginning and be warned I will probably go off on random tangents but this recap will not be that long.

All ready to go. Tired, exhausted really from getting hardly any sleep but so happy to finally be on my way to DC!!!   

All ready to go. Tired, exhausted really from getting hardly any sleep but so happy to finally be on my way to DC!!!   

The beginning...last year I had decided that DC was a bucket list race for me. Something about running through the Nation's Capitol was exciting. I registered as soon as I could, so essentially a year ago. It was all planned. As the year went on I thought "Hey won't it be good to make it a girls weekend!?!?!  My two sisters could run too". Ok without going into details, that proved to be a horrible horrible idea. Horrible. Logistically it was a nightmare coordinating it all and costly. My older sister and I are still fighting as I write this.

Besides registering for the race which went smoothly, everything else about DC proved to be a nightmare, as if the universe was telling me to NOT go. I was fortunate enough to get a "buddy pass" (there is more to the story here that I will not go into) from Southwest Airlines. And you read that right, Southwest, but if you saw my IG post I actually flew American Airlines. Why? Because that buddy pass was lost. Couldn't find it. No go. Oh and a way out of the blue side note, I was already emotionally spent since Asher had his first transition meeting for his IEP that morning. Although it went well, everyone was nice, I could tell getting him all the services he needs from the district was going to be a long process. Especially when I am not fully trusting what some of his current therapists are telling me. Ok back to the story, the ticket was lost. It was hours before I was suppose to leave on the original flight. What's a girl to do?  Search high and low (and tons of others helping me. Thanks to my younger sis, BIL, friends, mom and Dave) for an affordable ticket out on Friday. Alas, one was found on American Airlines for a really really good price. One lay over. Got into DC before midnight.  The original buddy pass had me going into Dulles airport. I thought, "things are looking up"!

Well, no. Got to Sacramento airport and the flight was delayed. Missed my connecting flight and the only available flight was going to Baltimore by 2am!  Then that flight ended up being delayed by 2 hours!!!!  I didn't know what to do, hence the apple eating pity party of one, tears included on the Phoenix airport floor. Yes, it was a pitiful site. Thanks again to my younger sister and BIL, I decided to call it a day. DC would not be happening for me. Not this year. Essentially I got my first DNS (Did Not Start) for a race and even typing it makes me weepy. 

Waiting at customer service. Over half the plane had connecting flights. Most DID NOT make those connecting flights.  

Waiting at customer service. Over half the plane had connecting flights. Most DID NOT make those connecting flights.  

I was looking forward to DC for a year. I was so extremely excited but it just wasn't happening. Thank you to all who tried to help, who offered encouraging words, who hoped and wished it would happen. It didn't. Unfortunately DC was and will most likely be my only rock n roll race this year. All I can do is tell myself, "it's only a race that will always be there", but I will say sometimes only so many things can go wrong before you just feel beyond defeated. The day was full of emotional highs and lows: IEP transition meeting, lost ticket, fight with my older sister and her husband, frantically searching for a new ticket, the list goes on. I felt defeated on all fronts - emotionally, financially, physically. And that's ok, even if it was about a silly race.  I just need to remember that tomorrow is a new day and there is always next year. 

I did see someone famous, Ben Stein at the Phoenix airport. The bad pic is because I'm trying to be sly and take a picture without looking like I'm taking a picture. 😂   

I did see someone famous, Ben Stein at the Phoenix airport. The bad pic is because I'm trying to be sly and take a picture without looking like I'm taking a picture. 😂   

Brooks Launch 3 Review

I’ve been running in the new Brooks Launch 3 for a while now and I feel that I’ve put enough miles (40+) on them to write about my experiences so far. Now I won’t tease you all about my conclusion so I’ll say it here up front – I love them!

Launch v3

Launch v3

I hoped I would, especially after the love affair I had with the previous version 2 of these shoes. You see, I wasn’t one of the original Launch wearers who cried in unison when their beloved original Launch were discontinued out of the blue a few years back. That is what got me into the Launch in the first place (twice over). When Brooks announced they were bringing back the Launch, I had to jump in and see what the hype was all about. Boy am I glad that I did.

 

Launch v2

Launch v2

I was worried because when I first put them on they felt a bit snug in the forefoot unlike the previous version which were more accommodating for my wide ass feet. Yeah, I said it. I went for a quick 3 mile run in them – nothing too crazy – to see how they felt on and I was a bit bummed that they were not the same comfy fit as before.

A friend suggested a different lacing technique and after some research, I found a site here which recommends alternative lacing methods for specific issues you may be having. Hallelujah! After lacing up using this new method, I began to feel that old Launch feeling again.

Alternative Lacing Technique

Alternative Lacing Technique

Enough about lacing, let’s get on to how the shoe performs. Brooks uses a DNA in their midsole which can act as a cushioned ride or as a more firm, springy ride if you wanna run fast. What they changed in the upper this time around was the mesh material surrounding the toe. Last year it was on the outside and now it’s underneath a very thin microlayer. It’s still very breathable though.  

They look and feel fast.

They look and feel fast.

The shoe is light. It feels lighter. At 9.8 oz, it sort of disappears on your feet like a more speedier racing flat should. The 10mm drop helps here. I have absolutely no problem racing in these and am thinking of running a full marathon in them in a couple months. They’re that good. What doesn’t help is that Brooks keeps coming out with special edition colorways like the Tokyo Dragon and Kaleidoscopes. It says something when only their most popular shoes get the special edition treatment. 

Carpe Runem

Carpe Runem

This post is not sponsored by Brooks. The shoes were purchased by me and all opinions are my own.

Have you tried the Launch’s yet? If so, let me know if you what you think.  

 

 

Tofu Tuesday: Tofu Adobo!

During the runDisney Star Wars Half Weekend #werunsocial tweetup (wow that was a lot to type), we finally met @marlon_barcelona and got to talking about all his tofu recipes.  Since we are somewhat new to this tofu game, we were all ears!  He mentioned Tofu adobo and my wheels got to turning.  I HAD to make this dish.  Don't get me wrong, we are not a vegan household in the least.  We love a good burger, chicken, steak even, but our road down tofu lane is to broaden our tastes and for Asher who has sensitivities.  

Tofu Adobo seemed perfect!  We all love tofu and we all love adobo.  What a great idea to bridge them together.  Now if you ever had made Filipino chicken adobo, you know that it isn't that difficult.  Tofu adobo took a little more time and work, for me that is.  I found this great recipe via Michelle's Tiny Kitchen for baked tofu adobo and was set on giving it a try.  I made some slight adjustments to the recipe below.  

Tofu Adobo

INGREDIENTS:

2 pkgs extra firm tofu, sliced or cubed.  I preferred sliced because they will bake quicker in the oven.

olive oil

4 garlic gloves minced

2 cups of vegetable broth

1/4 cup of Tamari Sauce

1/4 cup of white vinegar

black pepper

3-4 dried bay leaves (I like bay leaves)

1 tsp brown sugar

cornstarch slurry equal to about a 1-2 tablespoons

PROCESS:

1. Make sure you press the liquid from the tofu and then slice or cube, your preference.  

2. Place sliced (or cubed) tofu on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer.  You will most likely need 2 cookie sheets.  Bake at 450 until slightly brown.  I baked for 20  minutes, flipped at the 10 minute mark.  Remember: the longer you bake the tofu the "chewier" it will get.  I wanted it to have a firm texture, but not too hard to bite for Asher.

3. While the tofu is in the oven, start with the adobo sauce.  Coat pan with olive oil (1-2 tbsp) and toast the garlic.  

4. Add broth, tamarin sauce, vinegar, pepper and bay leaves.  Let the mixture boil and then turn the sauce down to a simmer.  

5. Once it has reduced slightly, add the brown sugar.  Continue to reduce sauce over medium low heat until reduced by about one quarter.  

6. Add the tofu sliced, making sure to get all slices coated in sauce.  

7. Add the cornstarch slurry and let simmer for a few more minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly.  

8. And tada!  You have tofu adobo!.  Serve it with rice and your choice of a side.  Might I suggest fresh chopped tomatoes.  

This was a HUGE hit and will be in heavy rotation in this house for sure!  I  might even have to increase what I make, maybe double the recipe since they boys loved it so much.  Give it a try, let us know how you like tofu adobo.  I won't be surprised if you come back and rave at how good it is!.  

Tofu Tuesday...kinda

So a long overdue #tofutuesday...kinda. We had to scale back on our tofu/soy experiments. Too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. Asher was getting too much soy.  

Obviously this is a store bought pizza. We have been wanting to try this brand for awhile now. The cheese mostly but we thought to ensure we would all like it, let's try it on pizza. I mean who doesn't like pizza?!?!  With the business of the holidays, trying to get back in the groove after weeks off, Asher's health issues and pure laziness I decided it was time to give it a try. Supreme (not real meat, but looked and tasted like sausage) for the boys and veggie for me. Yet, we all tried both.  

Verdict: they loved it!  Whew!  Even Asher liked it however he could only eat a little bit before having trouble digesting it. But I consider it a success. The pizza had lots of flavor, the soy cheese melted to a great consistency, just the right amount of spicy and there were many flavors to chose from. The only down sides were the cost for the size. $8 per pizza and in reality one boy could probably finish. It's the "perk" of having so many boys - our grocery bill is super high because they can "fuel" A LOT!!!  For sure though, this pizza will be in our freezer stock simply because it's quick, easy, the boys like it and EVERYONE, including Asher can eat. 😊

Reflections on 2015

Earning my coast to coast

Earning my coast to coast

Highlight of 2015: We started the year off with an amazing feat: earning the runDisney Coast to Coast medals in back 2 back weekends. Yes, we took all the kids, they flew well and even raced on both coasts!

Favorite Race of 2015: It's got to be the Run Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon. There are a couple of people that would totally disagree with this choice, I'm sure. I was dressed up in a Super Mario costume and even though it was one of the longest Half Marathons I've ever ran, it was with good company. All of our significant others were there and we even stopped for Starbucks during the race! How cool is that? 

Looking forward to 2016... I'm looking forward to enjoying every mile that I'm in during 2016. This may sound cliche but it's true. We run becuse we enjoy it, to teach our kids to live healthy lifestyles and I'm getting too old to take those things for granted. I obviously want to get faster (doesn't everybody?) and I'm looking forward to running new races in 2016.

My only solo 10k of the year. I placed 1st in AG.  

My only solo 10k of the year. I placed 1st in AG.  

Highlight of 2015: Hands down the best part of 2015 was #Active4Asher. Not only did it introduce our family to some amazing people, but it was humbling to see how many people supported our family and Asher. To this day, I still get misty eyed looking at photos from that day. 

Favorite Race of 2015: I don't know if I can pick just one!  So I'm not and going to declare a tie between rundisney 10k (in September) because I was able to run with my two oldest boys, clarksburg half marathon because it was cold and rainy but I loved every mile and Courage Run 5k because I actually placed in the overall female category not just my age group. 

Looking forward to 2016... I'm looking forward to running my second marathon and hopefully finishing upright. No goal time, just finish. I'm also looking forward to seeing each of my kids develop as runners. Lastly, I'm really looking forward to more stroller runs. They are a struggle but I find they help make me a stronger runner. I might, just might want to find a half marathon that allows strollers and give that a try.  

Last XC meet of the season

Last XC meet of the season

 Highlight of 2015: My favorite memory of this year was joining cross country for the first time. It was fun to join a team and spend time with other people who like to run. It was a learning experience since it was my first time participating in a competitive sport. 

Favorite Race of 2015: Running my first 10k during the rundisney Disneyland Half Marathon weekend.  

Looking forward to 2016... I hope next year I am able to run at least two 10k races, build speed and build endurance. Maybe even run a 10 miler. I had a great running year and look forward to an even better 2016. 

My first 4 mile run while training for rundisney 10k

My first 4 mile run while training for rundisney 10k

Highlight of 2015: Running 11.1 miles with my family!  That was hard but so much fun. It was great to go to so many parks in one day, more than we have previously done. 

Favorite Race of 2015: I loved running my first 10k at Disneyland. I didn't think I could do it when my parents registered me, but I did and it was fun! 

Looking forward to 2016... I can't wait to run my next 10k - Star Wars!  I hope to run more races in 2016. Maybe virtual races like Beat the Blerch! 

Training to run 30 mins straight

Training to run 30 mins straight

Highlight of 2015: This Year I started kindergarten!  I was nervous at first but I love school.

Favorite Race of 2015: Elk Grove Turkey Trot Kids Race. It was so cold but I got to run with my dad.   I heard a lot of people cheering me on at the finish and it made me happy. 

Looking forward to 2016... I want to run more and longer. I hope I get to run a runDisney 5k.

First time crawling through leaves during #optout

First time crawling through leaves during #optout

 Highlight of 2015: This year I learned how to sit up and "crawl". I even learned how to say more in sign language. I love my running stroller because I can see my mom and dad when they are running with me. 

Favorite Race of 2015: I love the rundisney races because I see Mickey at the end. My favorite though was Sacramento Santa Run 5k. It was my first Stroller run and I laughed and slept for the entire race.  

Looking Forward to 2016... I hope that I will be able to actually crawl or walk in a rundisney race in 2016 (instead of being carried) and I want to do more races in the stroller.