You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2014.

35: current age

366: days I have abstained from beef

12: hotels I have stayed in this year, an average of one a month, plus some overnights at the family house in Newport Beach. Felt like I was packing us up quite a bit!

9: road races plus one Spartan (obstacle/mud run) I’ve competed in this year

15.71: miles longest run

50.72: most miles in one week

2: major regrets this year

43: times I have played “Out of the Woods” (Taylor Swift) NOT counting all the times I have played it on the CD player in the car

173: times I have played “Let it Go”

3: of all the new activities I tried, the number of those that were outside of my comfort zone

2: locked mystery rooms games played with my best friends

6: performances seen in live theater

1: concert attended

5:52: fastest flat mile on the track



Proudest moment: achieving a (just!) sub 1:30.0 at the Long Beach half marathon at 1:29.59. I had my eyes on that target and worked all year, every day to break that. Really hard. Really really hard. It was far easier for me in my first year of running to drop from a 12:00 min/mile to an 8:00 min/mile than it is to work right now at a constant shaving of time in the 6:00-7:00 min/mile range and to break my body over and over to sharpen it. In fact, this is one of the most significant moments in my life, outside of marrying my best friend and having my children. To have a very long term goal and put everything on the line for it…that’s a good kind of risk and it makes us who we are.


Showing my people (Bill, Katie, and Eric) one of my favorite places: the Point Reyes Lighthouse, as sublime a place as any on Earth.


Setting off fireworks for the first time on our two-week summer road trip to Oregon. Firecrackers? Fire? Pretty sparkly wonders? Happy dance! Happy 4th of July!


Saw the redwoods for the first time. Ancient giants of the world… They struck my heart and mind so, I cried at the wonder.


Ashland Shakespeare festival: Into the Woods and The Tempest with my girl


My baby turned four


My eldest turned seven (and I “Disneybounded” as Thor, her favorite and who we saw that day, with a too-short skirt that was awkward all day, but thank goodness for leggings)!


This captures my year fairly well, and all that daily work it took to earn these (most of these are placement medals, either in division or in all women, or both).

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Celebrated eight years of marriage with my best friend


Learned how to fly on a trapeze

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Went hardcore and did a Spartan with my friend Steve in January. (He went on to complete the trifecta and then some)!


Wandered the Santa Monica Pier for the first time


Cracked up at how differently my children react to pigeons on the Santa Monica Pier!


Found a bit of myself in Portland, Oregon. You never know where you will locate a bit of that deep essence. Felt lucky to collide into it here.


Saw Multnomah Falls for the first time


Achieved a dream of racing in Eugene, Oregon (in the Butte to Butte on July 4th), training grounds of the great Pre and home to a collection of amazing runners.

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In March, we took a trip up to San Francisco, and I got to play the first locked mystery room game with my friends in Japantown.


In June, we played a second and different version of the locked room game in L.A.


This time, we made it out!


I enjoyed running with my family and racing with my kiddos, especially. Looking forward to our Big Sur marathon relay in a few months!



A springtime full of hikes on the Santa Rosa Plateau and in the San Jacinto mountains


Katie, Eric, and I spent many Sundays in good weather walking to local parks and taking picnic lunches with us

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We loved a whale watching trip in January last year (although it was probably the worst experience I’ve had with seasickness, and when I finally gave in and took something, it zonked me—which is not a feeling I enjoy at all, I discovered)!


I had much more fun motoring to Catalina Island with my parents on their boat! No seasickness on Open Gate! (Unless I go down into the cabin for any length of time while in motion).


My favorite race of the spring season was the Hot Chocolate 15K. Super fun night in the Gaslamp prior to the race! Looking forward to running it again in a few months.


Threw a Frozen viewing party, because…Frozen!

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Took my Katie Girl with me to Stanford’s philanthropy day in San Diego this year. Made sure to give in other ways this year, too. Wouldn’t want to legislate philanthropy, but goodness, humans taking care of humans is an important ideal to my Humanist way of looking at it. One of my goals for the new year (which I hope to write about in a few days) is to incorporate a more consistent philanthropic effort in our daily lives. Unaffiliated with institutions, I find it difficult to find opportunities at times, especially that I can do with the kiddos.


Got to be poetic bohemian princesses with my girl in Ashland, land of literature and deer


Spent a foggy morning in Bodega Bay on scooters and exploring desolate beaches. This picture, as I recall it, was taken about 6:00 AM.


Took up swimming in the early mornings, at least three days a week, after training runs. Coming up on six months of commitment here. I’ve learned so much, but there is still a way to go…


Learned how to paddleboard….then learned how to paddleboard with a child on it! (That’ll make a mother focus, let me tell you)!


Spent Valentine’s in Idyllwild at our special spot with my loves

5 New Things Tried this Year:

1. Swimming

2. Kayaking

3. Pole dancing

4. Paddleboarding

5. Trapeze flying

5 Restaurants/Eateries I Really Enjoyed:

1. Urth (L.A.)

2. Salt and Straw (Portland)

3. Swami’s (Encinitas—the Acai bowl!)

4. Carthay Circle (Disneyland)

5. The Black Sheep (Ashland)

5 Books I Loved:

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Laura Hillenbrand, 2010)

2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig (1974)

3. Mindset by Carol Dweck (2006)

4. Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus (1998)

5. Generosity: An Enhancement (Richard Powers, 2009)

5 Songs I Will Always Associate with this Year:

1. “The Pretender” (Foo Fighters)

“What if I say I’m not like the others?/What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays?/You’re the pretender/What if I say that I’ll never surrender?/In time or so I’m told/I’m just another soul for sale, oh well/The page is out of print, we are not permanent/We’re temporary, temporary/Same old story…”

2. “One” (Ed Sheeran)

“Take my hand and my/Heart and soul, I will/Only have these eyes for you/And you know, everything changes but/We’ll be strangers if we see this through/You could stay within these walls and bleed/Or just stay with me…”

3. “Out of the Woods” (Taylor Swift)

“The rest of the world was black and white/But we were in screaming color…”

4. “Centuries” (Fall Out Boy)

“Some legends are told/Some turn to dust or to gold/But you will remember me/Remember me for centuries/And just one mistake/Is all it will take…/And this is supposed to match/The darkness that you felt./I never meant for you to fix yourself…”

5.  “Last Midnight” (The Witch, Into the Woods)

“You’re so nice./You’re not good,/You’re not bad,/You’re just nice./I’m not good,/I’m not nice,/I’m just right./I’m the Witch./You’re the world./I’m the hitch./I’m what no one believes,/I’m the Witch./You’re all liars and theives,/Like his father,/Like his son will be, too-/Oh, why bother?/You’ll just do what you do…/It’s the last midnight./It’s the last verse./Now, before it’s past midnight,/I’m leaving you my last curse:/I’m leaving you alone./You can tend the garden, it’s yours./Separate and alone,/Everybody down on all fours…”

I’ve been giving some thoughts to goals for the coming year. Since my birthday occurs near the year’s end, I tend to think of my goal setting as a cross between birthday goals and resolutions. I am not much for making resolutions in January, but I like the idea of taking stock at the end of my personal year. Since I do usually make birthday goals (ranging from silly to serious), I have been pondering them all month. This year held some amazing moments and also a few rocky ones as I continue to figure out who I am now that I am in touch with my inner strength, my endurance, my confidence, my ideals, and my voice more closely than ever. I found that there are some who will prefer you weak and some who will prefer you strong, and some who will never prefer you at all, and some who feel like kindred no matter the time or distance between. Then I found that it doesn’t much matter as long as you are living true to your ideals and doing your best job to leave the world a better place and living with authenticity, inasmuch as that is possible.

Life is a series of phases, and I grow more aware every year that cycles by their very definition don’t necessarily mean permanent endings. The good comes back around, the bad comes back around: how we handle those transitions is the important part. I have had loss, and surprise, and joy, and guilt, and hope, and gain, and wonder, and worry, and sadness, and confusion, and clarity this year. But never defeat. Even in the worst moments, there is a way to pull up and keep going and face the sun. Most of all I have had curiosity, which I think entails a certain form of optimism: there is something worthy and valuable to be curious about. I hope most of all that I will never get to a point where I feel I know, or have seen, or have done it all.

That’s why I love to run, really: you can have a great run one day and a stiff one the next, and there is always a sense that the work never is done, that never can we rest on our laurels and call it a day. There’s always more to do, and a runner’s mindset has to be a humble, ever-ready-to-learn-and-try-harder one. We deal with moments of failure and difficulty much, much more than we ever deal with those times of fleeting success. It is daily practice for dealing with everything else and keeping perspective.


Ready to live my 36th year with my people


Until next time, I will keep chasing that wind…

Event: San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

When: December 28, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Type of race: Point to point

Other: a USATF certified course, chip timed

Personal time: 1:35.09 (gun time), 1:35.07 (chip time); 41:43 for the 10K split

Place: 5th woman in age division; 38th woman overall; 208th person overall

High on the Long Beach half marathon six weeks ago, eager to see if I could push to a new PR, and mindful of wanting to add three more half marathons to my races this coming year, I looked at the San Diego Holiday Half a couple of days after returning from the LBC. Heralded as a mostly downhill course, the San Diego Holiday Half for that reason at first did not sound appealing. I could maybe get a PR but on a downhill? Would that be comparable to a flat course or a hilly course? The fact that it marketed itself as a potential PR course threw me off balance a bit. Would that be a good thing ultimately? My gut said “no.” A course can only be compared to itself, in the end.

But then my dad wanted to run it, and I noticed that the race fell directly on my birthday. My 35th birthday! What could be a better gift to give myself than a long race on my birthday? It would be memorable, an adventure, and a way to celebrate being in the fittest condition of my life.

I never once thought a PR was a given today, though I worried that others thought so; or worse, that they thought I thought so. I knew going into the race that I would be dealing with variables with which I’d not much experience: racing more than one half in a quarter, frigid temperatures, etc. Still, I am an eternal optimist, and I thought a PR might not only be possible but probable, given how well training had gone through November and most of December. I’d had my first sub-6:00 mile on the track; accomplished a 50+ mile week; ran my first training run over 13.1 miles, and so on. Even I caught my eyes a couple of times on the bright allure of a mostly downhill course. At the very least, PR or not, it would be a nice change from the demanding and relentless hills of Temecula. I often feel I run uphill to get out of my neighborhood and uphill to get back into it—if that’s even possible!

But nothing is guaranteed. As runners, we know that, especially on a new course. There are our bodies with which to contend, also. I kept up my training faithfully through the holidays, even on the Christmas Eve and Christmas. I did the best I could do leading up to the race.

One of my great fears in life is being thought of as not a hard enough worker, or lazy, or a slacker. Seriously. Or worse, that I will wake up one day and discover for myself (reputation aside) that I have become so, with respect to anything: being a wife, a mother, daughter, an athlete, a reader, a thinker, etc. etc. The fear of not working hard enough every day drives me, and that fear is a taskmaster to be sure. Because I have been public with my running, and because I have found that my progress in races has been mostly (though not exclusively) linear, I worry that a misstep will be the cue to ask, “Did she not work hard enough? Did she not give her best this morning?”

When I think about it carefully, though, I know no one really gives that a second thought; I certainly don’t assess other people this way. These questions are the echoes of my own mind, my own worries about my inner self. When the race is done, and we look back rested, we wonder—or at least I do—could I have given any more than I gave? How do I know for sure that I did what I could? It is easy to look back in a rested state, out of the moment, and be critical of ourselves. It’s certainly easy for me, and it is the story of my life with respect to every Mock Trial competition, test, college essay, college major, moment of labor and delivery, interaction with my children, speech competition, etc. I’m kind of a mess that way, I guess! I’ve had to learn to feel that self-criticism and then step out of it and laugh at myself for it and then be at peace. I can do that now in my 30s, but I still have to go through the self-critical part as part of the process.

This race was not my best. It was, however, a learning experience, because I have chosen to look at it that way…and for that I am grateful. I did not achieve a PR today, and I watched many people pass me the last few miles. It is a hard thing indeed to watch oneself slipping with every mile, but then again there is victory over the self by continuing to push on. This was neither my fastest race, nor my slowest. I started age 35 by reminding myself how to bounce back and learn from not reaching a goal.

Still, there were moments to celebrate:

1. I started the first mile, a hill ascending 70 feet, well, clocking in at 6:32. It is possible, since this was a pace on a hill, that on flat it would have been much faster….and that, therefore, I went out too fast for a half marathon. This could also be part of my “learning” section. Still, I celebrate that I had speed.

2. A 1:35.09 is capable! It’s not my best, but it was an average 7:14 pace. It’s better than my first Long Beach by quite a bit, and in the 1:30-range.

3. I wanted to quit—like seriously start walking—shortly after 4 miles. But I didn’t. I tried to finish out my 10K fighting as hard as I could, and up til then had a majority of miles sub-7:00. That moment when you want to cry, quit, curse, give up, but you don’t? That’s a victory over the self, a victory over immediate gratification in pursuit of something more. I do not often have the thought of wanting to quit come into my head, but it was coming in attack formation for most of the race. This was the most PAINFUL race I’ve experienced, just beating out Falafel-gate (Billy Mills 10K in Sac this past summer) because of its crazy 13.1 mile length. At least I could be done at 6.2 at the Billy Mills. By 10K  today, I still had SEVEN—7!!!!—more miles to run feeling like I wanted to keel over. I have never wanted to be done with a race more than I wanted to be done with this one. However, every time we refuse to give in to those feelings, every time we take a stand against the dark, each time we fight the pessimism and the cynicism, we triumph. I gave whatever I could and fought for every step. That has to count for something, and to me it does. I had to slow down my pace to breathe, but I kept going and finished.

So what went wrong? And what can I learn?

1. The basic problem for me this morning was that I felt like I could not fully breathe. There is a breathing rhythm I get into when I am running at race pace, and my lungs could not do it. The 39 degree air in which we began was frigid beyond belief. My lungs felt sooo tight. Temecula is cold in the morning, and I run and swim in it all the time…but not often at race pace. Most intervals/speedwork I do in 50+ degrees later in the day. What can I do in the future? I can train to suck in really cold air. I can train for winter racing. Suffice it to say, and this is not an exaggeration, every breath hurt this morning. Every. Breath. How many times does a runner breathe on a half marathon course? Yup. I would inhale and inhale trying to go deep, and it felt like my lungs and my stomach and intestines were locked. I don’t know how else to describe it. In fact, hours later: my lungs are still sore from what I tried to get them to do. They are far more sore than my legs. And because I could not properly oxygenate my legs, I could not break into my full stride after a point.

2. As far as my stomach goes… I followed my normal protocol this morning, but I am still feeling the effects of my stomach bug a week and a half ago. (More on that in a moment). My Superfood Slam never settled in; even eating it at 5:30 AM, I could feel it was going in wrong and almost had to choke it down. I also had a full Powerade. Nothing settled correctly. I felt it stationary in my stomach well after 7 miles, which is when they should be on the move. I kept burping up bits of Slam. On Mile 8, struggling with my lungs and feeling my stomach inert, I had a gag reflex and almost threw up. Shades of Falafel-gate. And still 5 more dang miles to go.

3. The stomach bug was detrimental in other ways, and I tried to account for it but should have worked on it harder… I lost several pounds of reserves (including hydration) during my stomach bug. About a week out from this race, I kept getting readings of being underweight (there is a certain weight at which I like to race, which through trial and error has come to be optimum). To try to gain weight, I was permissive with things like gingerbread cookies (sugar is not the way, my friends, not the way) and rice pudding and leftover chocolate torte, and I ate liberally on Christmas Eve and Day. Nothing sounded good for about a week, and it still doesn’t…I thought a couple of days off the scale and eating whatever I wanted would help put it back on, but it didn’t. In fact, I am still showing signs of needing more hydration. So although I still believe my intestines are recovering from the bug (in terms of anything sounding good), I should have tended to this a lot more. I know the weight at which I need to race, and I am sure I am not quite at it (though closer to it than last week). That was a variable in my control that I could have had in better order.

4. The stomach bug happened the week before Taper Week (this week). I lost two days of swimming (one because I could in no way make it there, and one because I was being responsible and not infecting the entire pool). I also lost a day of intervals. I did manage to run 26 miles, but I was scheduled for 35-40, and on most of those miles I wanted to throw up. I don’t think these losses to training in themselves affected this race, but they did affect my head. I feel that most of my racing progress has resulted from consistency, and two weeks out I could not be consistent. So I put more pressure on myself. I was by no means defeatist, but I didn’t feel loose and carefree today; I believed I had to compensate a bit and that I was going into a battle with my body a bit. I wasn’t feeling negative, but I also had been having a hard time visualizing (which I swear by) total success. Most of my problem today was physical, but some of it might have been mental, too.

5. Out of my control: The people in charge of the race delayed us by 15 minutes at the start. Seems like no big deal, right? It was 39 degrees, and I had timed everything down to the minute: my bathrooms, my strides, my last sips of water, my shedding of the outer layers. I took my outer layers off, and there we were. I chattered my teeth and shook for 15 minutes, actually a bit more. Everyone was doing the same; some runners obviously were better adapted. By the time we started, I could no longer feel most of my feet. I was wearing my racing flats, which are thin. It was horrible. Not sure how I could account for this in the future, except to have layers I intend to shed while on course. I used up some energy in those minutes, and I am sure that didn’t help!

I came toward the finish line, and my husband and children were cheering for me. I was already feeling emotional, in pain, and just keeping it together, but when I heard my kids call out, “Go, Mommy!” right as I crossed over the line, I burst into tears. I had been feeling like I wasn’t making myself proud of myself, giving in even a little bit to my discomfort, and yet here my kids were being proud of me. This dual feeling took me over, and combined with the pain and the relief of being done, I smiled for a photographer and then burst into tears. I went to the car to compose myself, get warm, and wait for my dad. I joked with Bill as my tears streamed down, “Happy Birthday to me!!”

Seriously, though, I love that I had this experience. It was heck at the moment, but that’s how races go sometimes. I got to be a runner today, and I got to try my best at something really hard. I had a beautiful night before the race in San Diego with my family, and I got to make memories—good, bad, better, or best, everything is a memory and part of what makes us who we are—that I will always have. As difficult as it was, I would do it all again. Like delivering children, I guess! The tears were short lived, and within twenty minutes, I had my head screwed back on and was thinking like an athlete.

What can I learn? What can I do next time? It’s all in stride. Running taught me that. How we deal with the hard moments is everything we are, and I am honest to goodness grateful for the hard moments today. I wanted to give myself the gift of running on my birthday, and I did: and I gave myself the gift of starting this new year of my life with the theme of resilience. Perhaps this will set the positive tone for the whole year. I choose to look at what goes right, while resolving to learn from what went wrong.

Pictures from a great birthday weekend:


Race bib pick up and expo at Roadrunner Sports. Why is it I can find almost nothing to wear in a mall, but I can find thousands of dollars worth of clothes I want in the running store? Oh well, just browsing!


View from our hotel room near the finish line


Dinner at a little Italian restaurant, still decorated for Christmas and so festive. I loved that it still felt like the holidays! I always want them to be longer than they are.


Picking up the bib!


After dinner, we went back to the hotel and sat in the outdoor lounge by the hearth and had dessert—galore—and coffee!


Trying to be cheerful at the start despite the cold! Love the lady behind me: it is a great picture of her, whomever she is! She appears to have a variation of my Ink N Burn shirt, too!


Ready to race on my birthday with my dad and his trainer/our friend Val


My dad earned a PR today. That made my heart instantly lighter when I learned that. He’s been working so very, very hard for it. Glad it was his day!


Tired in the hotel room after the race. Took awhile to warm up! Still feeling thrashed, much more than Long Beach.


About to cross the finish line. The struggle on my face is real. It hurt! But hurt is a great teacher. Glad I got to celebrate my 35th birthday doing exactly what I love to do!