Basically, my sister’s idea to run a marathon with our dad on Fathers Day was the best ever.
It sort of didn’t feel like the best idea ever when the alarm went off at 3:45 (I slept horribly the night before the race) or while we were standing in the dark, chilly morning on the Embarcadero, but once the race got started, it was awesome.
I decided to try a new fueling plan after my horrific bonk at Wildflower. I had four vanilla Hammer Gels with me and planned to take them at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20.
Miles 1-6 (Family time)
(8:37, 8:15, 8:34, 8:09, 8:15, 9:23)
After my total pacing disaster at CIM in December, I was determined to not go out to fast. We all agreed we’d go out at 8:50 pace for the first couple miles and then re-assess. Obviously 8:50 pace didn’t quite happen, but this was a perfect way to start. I took my first gel at mile 5 and water at every aid station. I was feeling great.
Miles 7-13 (the bridge to the park)
(8:14, 7:54, 8:14, 8:01, 7:48, 8:20, 8:21)
After the climb up to the bridge, I started to pull away from my family. It happened sort of gradually, and I felt kind of bad for ditching my dad on Fathers day, but my legs had settled into a slightly faster pace that felt good. I knew I was not in shape to PR and I still had a lot of miles ahead of me, so I tried to keep myself from pushing too hard.
I saw Mike around mile 10 which was a fun surprise. He was out for a 2 hour run but I didn’t know if he’d stop somewhere along the course. I took my second gel at mile 10 according to plan.
Miles 14-19 (Golden Gate Park)
(7:40, 8:08, 8:18, 8:26, 7:54, 8:12)
I got a big boost when I passed the start of the second half marathon and heard my name but couldn’t pick my friends’ faces out in the crowd.
When we lived in Daly City, I got a little tired of the park, but running through it during the race was like a nice little homecoming. It felt familiar but not stale, and although some people hate the fact that there are no spectators, I liked the chance to just zone out in the forest. I took my third gel at mile 15 and was still grabbing two cups of water at each aid station.
I didn’t really check my watch much during the race because I went into it with no expectations. My training was short and light, and the whole point of this race was just to enjoy it. But there was a race clock at Stowe Lake and for a quick second, I thought about my chances of pushing for a BQ time. Math is always harder 15+ miles into a marathon, but it didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t going to happen and I should just stay relaxed.
Miles 20-26.2 (the Haight, the Mission, Dogpatch, Mission Bay, and the FINISH)
(8:14, 8:13, 8:09, 8:40, 8:12, 8:11, 8:23)
It was around mile 19 that I realized the fourth gel just wasn’t going to happen. My stomach didn’t feel too bad, but I didn’t want to risk it and figured I’d taken in more than usual during a marathon, so I’d probably be fine. My legs started to feel a little dead on Haight street, so the steep downhill into the Mission was kind of painful.
The park had been overcast but it was sunny in the Mission, and that made the long uphill stretch on 16th street pretty tough. I peeled off my arm warmers, kept my eyes on the ground (it was BRIGHT!) and began to embrace the suck. I glanced at my watch and realized I would probably beat my time from CIM, which perked me up a little bit.
The Lululemon cheer station around mile 24 was the one of the best things about this race in 2010 and this year was no different. The loud music, and all those people with so much energy were just what I needed to push me through the last two miles.
Once you pass AT&T park, the bridge looks really close, but it feels like the LONGEST mile ever. I had absolutely no finishing kick at all and was really thirsty. But as soon as the finish line came into view, I smiled and got myself across in just under 3:40.
My dad and sister weren’t too far behind, finishing at 3:57.
I absolutely ADORE the San Francisco marathon. I love the hills, the bridge, the park, the weather, and the fact that my friends and family were all out running too. It’s one of those races I’ll keep coming back to as long as I can.
3:39:51 (8:24 min/mile)
22/455 age group
I used to dread 20 mile runs. Once I got going, they were fine, but I got so nervous the night before, afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish. Or that I’d have to walk, or I’d run out of water, or get lost, or get bored by myself…
Now after having trained for multiple marathons, 20 miles aren’t really as intimidating as they used to be. And last weekend’s 20 was the best ever!
Running 19 1.1 mile loops may sound horrible, but it was awesome.
This scenery will never get old.
Alyssa and I tested out our new matching Hokas…
Ellie cheered for us the whole time (with a cowbell, of course)…
and I got to see my friends every lap!
It was a great morning, and now with just 9 days until the San Francisco Marathon, I’m feeling totally fired up and ready to go!
(huge thanks to Naomi for all the photos!)
I used to make meal plans every single week. Now, it’s been months since I made one and I honestly don’t think our spending on groceries has really changed at all. Instead, I think the “just wing it” approach has actually helped minimize food waste because I’ve gotten a lot better at throwing together odds and ends than trying to make everything fit with a recipe that I planned in advance.
One of the biggest things that has helped with being able to put together last minute meals like this one is keeping the pantry well-stocked. We take our big (quart and half gallon) mason jars to the store, get them tared, and fill them with things like brown rice, almonds, walnuts, cashews, black beans, a few different kinds of lentils, and various whole grains (currently working through amaranth, farro, and buckwheat groats).
A well-stocked pantry combined with our weekly CSA delivery and occasional trips to the farmers market give us plenty of options for our favorite types of food: huge salads, soups full of vegetables, and big bowls of grains with vegetables and sauce. I’m always trying to figure out new sauces to make, and I know cashews make an awesome vegan stand-in for cream when you add liquid and blend them in a Vitamix. This sauce just takes a couple of minutes to make, and it goes perfectly over stir-fried vegetables and brown rice (or other grains).
Rice and Vegetable Bowls with Vegan Curry Sauce
- 1 cup cashew pieces
- 3/5 cup almond milk
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- salt (to taste)
- pinch cayenne
- cooked brown rice
- Fresh vegetables, diced
- 1 tbsp neutral oil such as grapeseed
- Combine all the sauce ingredients (cashew pieces through cayenne) in a Vitamix or other high-speed blender and puree until smooth.
- Adjust seasonings to taste and add liquid as needed to thin to desired consistency.
- Saute the vegetables in the oil until they can be pierced with a fork but are still crisp.
- Pile the vegetables on top of a scoop of rice in a bowl and top with curry sauce.
Why can’t all weekends be three day weekends? This one included ALL the things I want in a weekend: friends, trail running, great food, tons of family time, a new water sport, and a BIG race added to the agenda.
This is the hummus wrap from Cafe Del Soul in Mill Valley. Why can’t they open in the East Bay?! It shares a parking lot with San Francisco Running Company, so it was the perfect stop after the race.
Some members of my tri club belong to a private lake that’s just over a mile from our house, and they had a barbecue and swim on Sunday night. I put on the wetsuit for the first time since Wildflower, and swam a mile. Then I decided to try stand up paddle boarding. It was fun, but I’m pretty sure I’d fall immediately if I tried it in the ocean.
On Monday night, Mike and I sat down to schedule our future races, and I somehow ended up on the Ironman website. Then I somehow ended up looking at Ironman Texas, and next thing I knew, I was registered.
I knew 2014 was going to be the year of my first Ironman, and I had been pretty certain I was going to sign up for Wisconsin. But seeing this in May, and the fact that registration was already open and just BECKONING me to sign up, I went for it. It’s going to be ungodly hot and humid but I’m really excited!
French toast is one of the weekend breakfast staples around here. But now that Mike’s vegan, and I’m in the middle of a little vegan experiment (again…hoping to last more than two days this time), we needed a way to figure out how to make it without eggs.
Ellie still gets the real thing, but this weekend I tried coconut milk, and it worked really well. I think the key is to oil the pan well, and let it cook until it starts to brown (otherwise it will just be mushy bread). I definitely recommend using hearty bread, not regular grocery store sandwich bread. I used homemade whole wheat that was a couple of days old.
I don’t have a specific recipe, but more just an idea of what to do: mix about 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk with 1 tsp vanilla and a nice big pinch of cinnamon. Heat about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) until a drop of water sizzles. Dip the bread in the coconut milk and cook for a few minutes on each side, until nice and brown. Top with whatever you want… I used mashed banana and it was delicious.
This was the hardest race I’ve run in a long time. The course was not too outrageously challenging on its own: 1800ish ft of elevation gain (concentrated in two big hills at mile 2 and mile 8) and some marginally technical rocky parts; but my dead legs made it really tough.
Why were my legs dead? That’s a great question, because I haven’t actually been doing that much with them. It was massively frustrating to just feel like my feet were covered in cement any time the trail started climbing at all. For the first four miles, my head was not in a good place. Neither were my legs, and neither was my stomach.
The first hill (in the picture above) was about a mile long, and I walked quite a bit of it. When we finally reached the top, it still took a mile or so to feel decent. The course loops back through the start/finish area at around mile 6, and it really wasn’t until I passed through there that I started to feel a little better. But of course, there was another hill right after that.
The second hill was at least run-able, but maybe “run” is not the right word, because although I felt like I was running but I’m sure to anyone watching, it was more of a pathetic shuffle. Once I finally reached the top of that, I got to run through some redwoods, which is always totally blissful even with super dead legs.
The last few miles were just sort of blah. It was pretty, but I just couldn’t get my head in the right place, and that was frustrating. I ALWAYS feel grateful to be able to run, and to get to do it in such a beautiful place is awesome. I’m not sure what the issue was today – possibly just a crappy attitude to match the crappy feeling in my legs.
Still, I stuck with it to finish in 2:01 and managed to eke out a 3rd place finish in my age group.
The best part of the day was getting to hang out with good friends. I love small, low-key races like this, and I love it even more when I’m there with some of my favorite people.
Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE Inside Trail Racing. They are so well organized, their courses are fun and well-marked, the races are affordable, and the post-race food is awesome. If you live in Northern California and want to run a trail race, do one of theirs! (this is my own opinion and they have no idea who I am or that I’m writing this)
Now that Mike is vegan and not eating sugar, I have been baking a lot less than I used to. But when my parents come over, my dad runs 14 miles with me, and there are brown bananas on the counter, I bake.
We had Open House at school last week and now there are just four weeks left in the school year. I can’t believe I’m wrapping up my third year of teaching. This was my toughest year yet and I almost bailed to go back to school to study public health…but after lots of contemplation and reflection, I realized the classroom really is where I belong for at least a few more years.
There are now four more weeks left in the school year, which feels simultaneously way too long and unbelievably short. There are also four more weeks until the San Francisco marathon, and yesterday I bought matching shirts for my sister and me to wear. Now we’re just trying to find a similar men’s top for our dad. Matching may be cheesy and ridiculous, but we’re doing it.
Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/8 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 mashed ripe bananas (1 cup)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk (or more as needed)
To make the cupcakes,
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
- Cream the butter and two sugars in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Add the banana and mix on low until just combined (it will look curdled)
- Stir the flour mixture in, just mixing until all traces of flour disappear.
- Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
To make the frosting:
- Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the chocolate.
- Add the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
- Pipe onto fully cooled cupcakes
As soon as I decided to run the San Francisco Marathon, I knew I’d have to be smart about getting in a few long runs without overdoing it. I’m super prone to IT band flare-ups any time I increase my running volume too fast, and I am determined to do it right this time!
On Saturday morning I talked my dad into running 17 miles with me, on an awesome path that’s close to my house but that I’d never run before. We started around 9:00/mile and progressed to 8:1x by the end. It felt surprisingly good, even though it was over 80 degrees when we finished. If I can just remember to start slowly during the race…
There was a Mothers Day 5K at Crissy Field, and Mike generously offered to push Ellie in the stroller. I figured it wasn’t going to be a very awesome race for me because I’d run so much more than usual the day before, but I decided to just go out and do the best I could. I didn’t look at my watch a single time during the race, but I could tell I did the first mile MUCH faster than the second. There course was a loop followed by an out and back, with the turn-around at about 2.5 miles. I was the 7th place woman as we approached the turnaround, but after that, I picked it up as much as possible and managed to pass a couple people and finish 4th!
My splits ended up being 6:27 – 7:11 – 6:43. I knew that second mile was slow!
17 miles on Saturday + a hard 5K on Sunday meant my whole body was TOTALLY done on Monday. I was more sore than after Wildflower. It was a rough day, so of course I took it as a rest day.
Last night we did a new-to-me workout at Masters and I think it’s my new favorite. It was 5×100 on a 5 minute interval (which is SUPER long…over 3 minutes to recover) but the 100s were 100% all-out sprints. I usually do my 100s around 1:40, and these were 1:18. It was really painful to go that fast (that’s BLAZING fast for me…but pretty slow for serious swimmers) but with all that recovery time, I swam super easy 100s, and it really helped me prepare for the next sprint. It was a totally different workout than I’m used to, but it felt awesome to go as hard as I possibly could. I’m so glad I started going to Masters.
Recovery from Wildflower is going really well. I ended up taking 3 complete rest days, and then somehow found myself committing to a marathon that’s 5 weeks away.
My sister’s last race marathon was in San Francisco two years ago, and she wants to get revenge on the course (it was a rough day). ”Hmmm maybe” turned into “registration confirmed” within 24 hours, and the best part is that my dad is doing it too!
I’m planning on running 16 or 17 miles this Saturday, I have a trail half marathon next weekend, and I’ll do a 20-miler the week after that. It will definitely not be my best marathon, but I think it will be fun (which is kinda weird, since just a few weeks ago I was fairly certain it would be years before I signed up for another one).
We started getting a CSA box last week, and our first two deliveries have been awesome. There was some zucchini this week, and although I usually hate it raw, it’s fine if it’s shaved into ribbons. I usually keep some kind of cooked grain in the fridge, and this week it was brown rice, so I just tossed that with some black beans, green onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and sunflower seeds for a quick, healthy dinner.
Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Rice and Beans
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled
- 2 cups rinsed and drained black beans
- 3 tbsp thinly sliced green onions
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 1 avocado, diced
- juice of one lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Use a vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into ribbons.
- Toss with the remaining ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.” - John Wooden
Good news: I did something this weekend. I made a pretty stupid mistake with regards to nutrition, but I am still completely in love with Wildflower and am determined to go back next year and do it right!
Let’s back up a little bit. I signed up for this race last summer, knowing it would be a tough one because a)the course is insane and it’s always hot, b)it would be my first triathlon in about 5 years, and c)I had no idea how I would juggle full-time teaching, being Ellie’s mom, and putting in enough training. I added swimming and cycling to my workout routine in December, and kicked into full-on training mode 12 weeks ago, stepping it up to 12 hours a week. (I wrote about my schedule here). My goal was to beat my Vineman time from 2005 (the only other 70.3 I’d ever done, and which I didn’t train enough for ), 6:28:43. I knew this course was a lot harder, but I’d trained a lot too.
I had no idea how much I’d come to love training. I found a group to do my long weekend rides with, started swimming with a Master’s group, and ran a bunch of early morning miles with Aron. I also had a few great workout with Page and Jana. It was a lot of time in the pool, on the trainer, and on the roads, but I loved it.
As the race got closer, I didn’t have the sort of nervousness (and almost dread) that I usually get with full marathons. I was just really excited to get out there and do my best. Even on our drive down to Lake San Antonio on Friday, I was super pumped but not really nervous. When we got to the lake, we set up our campsite (one of the best things about Wildflower is that so many people camp on site) and headed down to the lake for a quick shake-out swim. It felt awesome. Then we went up to the expo to hang out…and I met Jesse Thomas! He ended up winning his third Wildflower in a row. Awesome!
I saw his adorably pregnant wife (pro runner Lauren Fleshman) hanging out at the booth too, but didn’t realize she was taking this picture.
After checking out the expo, I rode my bike up Lynch Hill for a little confidence boost. I felt relaxed and strong, and ready to race the next morning. After an early pasta dinner, I went to bed pretty early and slept really well until about 6 AM.
I distinctly remember the feeling of dread when I woke up the in the morning the last time I did this race. It was in 2008, and I was doing the Olympic distance. It was cold and I just didn’t feel like getting out there and getting in the water. I didn’t have anything like that this time! I was still just really excited to go have fun on the course.
My wave started an hour and 10 minutes after the first one, so we hung out and watched pretty much everyone start the race. The water was wetsuit legal for everyone but the elites (it was 70 degrees) and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wear mine or not. I ended up wearing it and was so glad I did.
I know I’m not a strong swimmer, so the added buoyancy of the wetsuit REALLY helped me out. I started right in the middle of my wave and the crowd didn’t really thin out for about 600 meters. At one point my goggles were kicked off, but I managed to make it through without too many collisions. I felt really good the entire time and was shocked to see my time on the clock.
The ramp up to transition is LONG so I walked it, trying to keep my heart rate down. When I got to my bike, it felt like it took forever to take my wetsuit off and get my shoes on, and I kept feeling like I was forgetting something.
The first 30 miles of the bike were amazing. The countryside is totally beautiful and I was passing a lot of guys (a benefit of being in the first wave of women after every single man has already started). I had two full bottles of Perpeteum, plus an aero bottle on the front that was full of water. I also had a bento box with some Shot Bloks and two Gus.
I ate a couple of Shot Bloks and was really consistent about drinking, but around mile 30 I started to really fade. I knew that things got a lot harder around mile 40 so I just kept drinking, but for some reason it never occurred to me that I wasn’t taking in enough calories. I later realized that over the whole bike course I probably only had about 45o when I should have had 700. Oops.
Nasty grade really hurt, as expected, but was honestly not as bad as I was anticipating. I was so happy I’d ridden up Diablo during training – that makes ANY hill feel short! My heart rate was through the roof and I felt really weak but I made it to the top, and even though I was fairly under-fueled, I kept pushing until the final descent into transition.
I was shocked to see that my time for T2. I was a little disoriented and almost ran out with my helmet… I felt like I was moving in slow motion as I switched shoes, sprayed on some more sunscreen, and put a Gu in each pocket of my shorts.
And here is where it all went downhill (not literally, unfortunately). I saw Mike right after leaving transition and he asked how it was going. I said something like “hanging in there” but I did not feel good at all. My legs were completely fine, but it felt like someone had compressed my lungs, and my heart was racing. I started walking and hardly ran at all the first 6 miles. I never doubted that I would finish for some reason, but I just figured I’d have to walk the entire run course.
Before the race, whenever I talked to anyone about the long course, they warned about Nasty Grade, but nobody ever said ANYTHING about the run! The first five miles are full of steep, hot, dusty hills and if you haven’t eaten enough, it is completely miserable. I stupidly thought I was getting a decent number of calories from the Gatorade I was taking at each aid station, but that obviously wasn’t the case.
Somewhere around mile 4, I started talking with a guy who was also having a rough time, and we stayed together for awhile. I told him I felt like someone had secretly moved the course up to 15,000 feet because I just couldn’t take in enough oxygen. He asked if I had eaten enough, and it wasn’t until then that I realized I really hadn’t. I took a Gu at the next aid station, and it tasted AMAZING. Within half a mile, I was breathing normally and running again.
I ran every step of the last 6.5 miles, taking a second Gu at mile 9 and water at each aid station. I was passing tons of people and felt like I could run forever. Amazing what a difference a boost in blood sugar can make.
When I reached mile 11, I knew I only had one more mile left before I got to float down Lynch hill and finish. There was loud music right at the top of the hill and the lake came into view. I started running as fast as I could down the hill, and when the finish chute finally came into view, I almost started crying. This race I’d set out to do so many months ago was almost done, and I was going to finish strong.
I saw Mike just as I hit the last straightaway and gave him a thumbs up. I knew I’d missed my goal by a considerable amount, but at that point I didn’t care at all. I didn’t give up when it seemed like I would have to walk the whole thing, and I managed to turn it around and end the race on a super positive note.
This race will forever be my favorite. There just isn’t any other event out there like it. This was my fourth year at Lake San Antonio (one year as a volunteer, two years racing the Olympic distance) and I can’t imagine not going back again. The challenge of the course, the energy of all the competitors, the fun community of the campground… I don’t think I’ll ever love another event this much.
I can’t wait to go back next year having learned from my fueling mistake!
Sunday was pretty much the best non-racing race day ever. There was a practice race on the Dipsea trail up in Marin county, and Mike talked my dad into running it with him. The trail is only 6.8 miles long, but it climbs over 1600 feet total, and involves a whole bunch of stairs.
After they took off I spent about 20 minutes exclaiming to my mom about how beautiful Mill Valley is, and that if I win the lottery the very first thing I’m doing is buying a house there.
Then we went and found a snack.
This was at Mill Valley Beerworks, and I plan on going back as soon as possible for dinner and beer. After a scone and tea, we drove over to Stinson Beach to wait for the finish. It was completely gorgeous, and reminded me it’s been way too long since we spent time at the beach.
It’s topped 90 degrees the last few days, but I couldn’t not share this soup we had for dinner on Friday. It was one of those typical “I have no idea what to make for dinner but it’s already 3 so I better figure something out NOW” afternoons when I came across this post, and it was just as good as I was anticipating.
I used wheat berries instead of barley, because I some already cooked and sitting in the fridge, and I gave the bowl a generous sprinkling of fresh basil. I don’t care how hot it is, I’ll be making this soup again soon!
Tomato Vegetable Soup with Wheat Berries
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped or thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 small head of cabbage, finely shredded
- Few big handfuls of chopped fresh kale
- 1 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries
- big handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil over medium in a large Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 10 more minutes.
- Add broth and tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add cabbage, kale, and wheat berries and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir well, and serve topped with fresh basil
(adapted from In Praise of Leftovers)