Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sea lions are so cool. Why I love the SF Bay Area part 3

Sunday morning L had to go to brunch with the groom and I took this as my chance to do something I would have never dreamed of while I lived in California- Stand up paddle boarding. (SUP)

I walked over to Monterey Bay Kayaks and rented a board for 2 hours. The guys in the store were knowledgable and very nice and helped me get in the proper size wetsuit, paddle, board, etx. We went over what to do about wildlife and where exactly I could paddle. Soon I was off paddling around Monterey Bay.

I expected to see sea lions, seals and otters but I wasn't expecting to see them so close. The adolescent sea lions were ridiculously playful and would follow the kayaks and jump out of the water. I was actually freaking out they would try to get on my board but luckily they kept their distance.

Why yes that's an adolescent sea lion jumping out of the water right in front of me!

It was a truly amazing experience to paddle in the Pacific Ocean and see the animals in their habitat from a perspective not many other people would ever get to witness. To feel the wind on my face, the cold Pacific Ocean on my feet, to see the sea lions playing, and the otters grooming themselves- My god it was fantastic.

After paddling for a while it was time to get ready for the wedding.

The wedding was beautiful and was a celebration of friends, family and love. I'm happy L and I were able to be apart of the special day.

I really wished this weekend didn't have to end so soon, but Monday morning we had to head back to catch our flight to Chicago.

I miss waking up to the sounds of the sea lions barking.

Friends, Mikkeller Bar, San Francisco- Part 1

Los Gatos Creek trail running, Friends, Monterey Bay, Pacific Ocean- Part 2

And these are some of the reasons I absolutely love and miss this place.

- xaar

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I love the SF Bay Area Part 2

Lake Vasona as seen from the Los Gatos Creek Trail.

Part 1 on why I love the Bay Area

Aka "how not to prepare for a 20 miler." And "why I'll never consider a goal race on the other side of the country."

Friday I took a 4 hour flight from Chicago to San Jose, Ca. Before the flight I ran 8 miles then quickly got cleaned up and went to the airport.

I flew 1st class thanks to L & his many miles of travel.

Short story: I forgot how to hydrate properly.

Flying is so dehydrating. Being in a pressurized cabin for hours on end is not ideal. I "hydrated" with 2 bloody Mary's and a sip of water. By the time I got off the plane I already had a small headache which I attributed to sinus issues from the flight.

At the Mikkeler bar I drank 3 beers and a bunch of water but was already feeling pretty ragged. By the time we got to the hotel I was a mess complete with feeling nauseous with a head splitting headache. And unfortunately this was no hangover. I took 2 aleve and drank a bunch of water hoping I'd be ready to go for 20 in the morning.

When I woke up (a bit late) I was pumped to run on my favorite place- the Los Gatos Creek Trail. It was a beautiful morning- mid 59's and low dew point. I was so excited to run from Campbell to Los Gatos (The first date for L & I for those of you keeping track).

Cute artwork on a bridge in Los Gatos. "The Cats" in Spanish.

I took off from the hotel and felt good. I had a bottle of water, salt pills and passion fruit gu. Nothing could stop me.

I even tried to make a new friend. But it hissed at me and flew into a sewer. Rude.

5 people said hi to me in the first 4 miles.

The hills were a lot larger than I remembered. I felt out of breath more than I should have. I was also drinking a lot more water than I normally do (yes, I analyze every freaking detail). At the 8 mile point on top of Lexington reservoir I decided to head back and call it at 16 miles.

Lexington Reservoir as seen from almost on top of a mountain...

The elevation profile of my run.

L and I met up and ran the final 2 miles together which was so nice. After I stopped running I felt so Incredibly sick which was probably from being so dehydrated as well as not eating anything past 3pm the day before. Not ideal.

So freaking happy to be running here again.

After the run we met our friend K for lunch before heading to Monterey for the wedding festivities. All I ate was a fruit cup and salt n vinegar chips.

Monastery Beach

An hour later I felt normal and hungry again. Soon after we were in Monterey for the wedding rehearsal. It was nice seeing friends we hadn't seen in a while.

During the rehearsal I went down by the water and took a plethora of photos. I stood with my feet in the Pacific Ocean. As the waves covered my feet with cold salty water, I smiled the biggest smile ever.

This is why I love this place.

- xaar

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why I love the SF Bay Area Part 1

As the plane gained speed while driving down the runway I felt my eyes start to burn & my heart rate begin to accelerate. As the velocity increased enough for us to take flight I felt the first tear glide gently down my cheek. As I looked out the window and saw how tiny California now was, I let out a sigh.

I really do miss this place.

Chicago O'hare EL stop.

Rewind: It's been 2.5 years since I was last in the Golden state- L and I returned a month after moving to Chicago in 2011. To say I was excited to return this past weekend was a huge understatement. This was no "vacation" but instead a weekend where L would act as groomsman for one of his best friends- there would be a schedule and obligations and other people's needs would have to come before our own.

Yosemite Burning.

I wanted to maximize every minute I'd spend while on the ground with L and we were lucky enough to have a few free moments to enjoy the place we once called home.

As soon as my plane landed in San Jose, L and I were driving north. We went to the brand new Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco and met a few friends. This trip was out of our way (since we were headed south to Monterey the rest of the weekend), but to be able to go drink our favorite beer direct from the source is something we absolutely could not pass up and it did not disappoint. And the food was out of this world. And spending time with friends was priceless.

It was so totally worth it to go out of our way to go to this bar and see some good friends and drink delicious beer.

I love this place.

- xaar

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I miss this place. (TBT)

Where am I referring to?

The place where I left my heart, "the city by the bay," San Francisco!

I moved to SF after living in Mexico for a few years- I always felt a pull to the Bay Area. Maybe it was all those episodes of "Full House" I watched on Friday nights as a kid.

I lived in the SF bay area for 2.5 years immediately preceding our move to Chicago in January 2011.

L and I at the Bay Bridge 2010?

Ok so I didnt really "leave my heart" in San Francisco like Tony did mainly because my L is with me in Chicago :) But we have so many memories in SF it's hard not to feel a little bittersweet looking at these photos and remembering all the good times we had there.

Crissy Field, November 2009.

I'm convinced CB dreams about running free at Crissy Field when his legs are twitching while he's deep asleep.

Santa Clara dog park, 2009.

CB was a frisbee extraordinaire at the dog parks in the Bay Area. Here in Chicago it's difficult to play frisbee "legally" because the dog parks are concrete and tear up his paws. And I'd rather take him off leash to a nice grassy place.

The other place I miss is the trail I used to run on in the South Bay. The "Los Gatos Creek Trail" was a place I spent many miles training for the Nike Womens Marathon in 2010.

I loved seeing the mountains, the crazy aggressive geese, and the water while cruising up and down the path. And one of the best dog parks was just off of this trail, just ask CB!

What place do you miss?

- xaar

Sunday, August 18, 2013

FVM BQ or BUST Week 9

43 miles for week 8!

Monday Easy 7
*ran to fleet feet, and then ran 3 with the lovely talented Jenny!

Tuesday REST!

Took the CB dog out for a walk and then some Fido to Go.

Wednesday Tempo: 6 miles at 7:30 pace, with 1wu/1cd. 8 total miles. Plus 4x10 sets of strength things.

Felt great.
Recycled workout Selfie from the last post.

Thursday easy 5, sore from the strength stuff

Friday easy 5, still sore from strength stuffs.

AKA, "Almost didnt happen"

Something in my shin/calf was bugging me all day.I took aleve, I prayed, I almost lost it. Then it magically disappeared. I was supposed to run 7, but stopped at 5 because I was scared whatever the eff was hurting was going to come back.
Mismatched Grumpy 5 miler selfie

Saturday 18 miles, with 8 @ Goal Marathon Pace. 2:25 (avg 8:03 a mile)

Um, well this run went exactly as it should. I felt fantastic, and was supposed to do miles 9-16 at GMP. According to my garmin they were a *little* quicker than prescribed, but I was also going for a perceived effort and did not want to be glued to my garmin the entire 8 miles.

I was going for consistency in miles 9-16, and was very surprised to see the pace for all the last 2 "GMP" miles. I kept my effort the same and wow. I know my garmin spikes around certain places- like Mile 3 when I ran around Navy pier.But the miles 15/16 were in an area that usually doesnt spike.

I woke up at 3:20am to eat a small serving of oatmeal and then went back to bed. I left for the run before sunrise. Gu at mile 6, 12, Salt at mile 6, 14. Water stops around every 4 miles. Lost 2lbs on this run. But no muscle soreness and felt like I could have continued on for a while longer.

Post long run I took the train to meet Kim to walk around the Chicago Bonanic Gardens. It was a great way to spend the day with a wonderful friend. 

Sunday REST DAY!

Took the precious little man out for a walk and what I learned from him was:

So for this next week, Im looking forward to drinking beer at the Mikkeller Bar, Stand up paddle boarding in Monterey Bay, running 20 miles on my favorite trail, and seeing my L for the first time in 2 weeks.


- xaar

Friday, August 16, 2013

Are you a marathoner?

I've been asked that (or a version of that) 2 times in less than 18 hours.

First was last night at the gym before my easy 5 when a guy asked "are you training for a marathon, you're in here a lot?"* And proceeded to stroke my ego a bit by asking "is marathoning your job?" Um, I wish it was my "job" but I just like running long. Those short n hard paced races aren't my thing... Twss.

Last night Workout Selfie to document my hair tie breaking.

I've been running up to 4 times a week on the treadmill. I usually do Monday nights at Fleet Feet and my Saturday long runs outside. Because running after work on a week day outside on the path gives me rage with all the fu$&ing Divvy bikes and tourists.

The second time was this morning when one of my neighbors asked if I was training for the Chicago Marathon while we were waiting for the elevator. I see him and his wife (who is training for Chicago) leaving for their runs every once in a while.

I'm wondering Why am I getting asked if I'm a marathoner so much- probably just coincidence?

Wednesday night post speed workout selfie.

Or am I approaching the fabled "race weight?" I'm about 2-4lbs heavier than last years lowest weight before Fox Valley, but maybe I've got more muscle? I think I look a bit more toned. So maybe I look "hardcore" to these people I don't see regularly?

CB says enough with all the running talk.

Anyways, I've got 18 miles on tap for tomorrow with 8 @ goal marathon pace and I'm kinda nervous. I'll probably even wear my "race day" outfit tomorrow to test it out. Gah!

Do you every get asked random questions like that by strangers?

*The gym is in my apartment building and I try to get my $$$ worth out of my expensive rent by using the gym a lot.

- xaar

Monday, August 12, 2013

FVM BQ or BUST Week 8

Aka "Yay for Cutback weeks"

I also did 3 strength training sessions.

Monday Easy 5

CB started watching "DogTV." I'm convinced people on drugs would also like this new channel.

Tuesday Easy 8 with 6x 20 second hills

CB got treats from the Fido to Go Truck!

Averaged around 8 minutes a mile for this workout and felt fantastic. Would have done it Wednesday, but every other Wednesday I sometimes (most of the time) have to stay very late.

Wednesday REST

Worked from 8am to 8pm. Yay work.

Thursday Easy 5

Friday Easy 6
CB ordered pizza!

Saturday Easy 12
Averaged 9 minutes a mile for this easy run. I was super happy to run some of the miles with L. It was hot but I felt good. CB joined us for coffee post run. L ran 12 miles for his Chicago Marathon training.

Saturday we both had much needed massages.

For lunch we went to "Slurping Turtle." So delicious!

I had a pork ramen and a Bloody Mary. Why yes that's a beef stick straw in there...

Sunday REST!

Ate and drank all the yummy things.

Went to Dry Hop for lunch and beer. Laid out in the sun for 40 minutes while drinking Stiegl Grapefruit Radler and then grilled burgers and veggies in the rain for dinner.

It was another solid week to put in the books. I'm feeling stronger and stronger and just so freaking happy to not be showing any sign of overtraining or injury. (Thank you Myo ball and racquetball)

This might just be my new favorite treat ever! I'm already a sucker for anything "passion fruit" YUM

I'm looking forward to week 9 and ramping up intensity/mileage again. This week left me craving more runs.

41 DAYS TO GO!!!!!


- xaar