Fall Running


the time has come for colds
and overcoats

Sort of.  At least until the sun comes up.

It dipped down into the high 60s last week.  On my morning run I saw a lady riding her bike wearing gloves, scarf, and a hat.

I was considering running another half marathon this fall with the hopes of breaking 1:45.  But since my last race about two months ago I have run approximately 5 times (once at 10,000 feet that was a very slow walk/run which almost killed me), attended two weddings, one family reunion, and consumed an unprecedented amount of bourbon and food.


(Speaking of which, the place we stayed at in September served bahn mi tacos WHAAAAT).

It’s been awesome.

But then my sister showed up this weekend.  Since I last saw her, she has lost 10 lbs and is a weight-lifting, marathon-running machine.  In her usual overachieving fashion, she PR’ed at the NYC Marathon two Sundays ago…and then decided to run the SB Veteran’s Half Marathon this morning.  Carrying a 40lb backpack.  Like she did two years ago.


She invited me to join her, but I bailed at the last minute.  Because wine and tacos.  And children. Always blame the children.

So since I couldn’t be there to support her or say it myself at the race, Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all the vets out there including my sister, my dad, my grandfather, some of my cousins, and a handful of my uncles.

And in the wise words of my sister (or her army friend, I’m not sure):

If you want to thank the military, be the kind of American worth fighting for.

The Ventura Half Marathon


The Trail of Snot.  That is how I will remember this race.  I felt fine, but that cold/virus/whatever my children gave me two weeks ago is still clearing itself out and I left quite a few snot rockets in my wake…including, possibly, on other runners trying to pass me.  That’ll teach them.

But anyway.

The first two+ miles of this race were not good.  It was slow.  Felt awful.  Gave up all hope of breaking 2 hours, maybe even finishing.  Why bother.  This was terrible.

I should know this by now, but I need a little bit of time to warm up.

Mile 3 things started to kick into gear.  I felt like I was working harder than I should be given the fact I had another 10 miles to go and that, by all other indicators, this would not end well.

But by Mile 4 I figured that since it was already happening, I’d just keep going that hard as long as I could.  #strategy

At Mile 5 I started walking through the aid stations because I got tired of soaking myself and having most of the water go up my nose.

Mile 6 a guy with super buff arms befriended me.  We ran together for about half a mile until I LEFT HIM IN THE DUST.

The turnaround point was a highlight, because the marathon runners ran straight and we got to head back, so I took a moment to appreciate the fact that I dodged that bullet.

The second half we were running into a headwind.  But I managed to maintain my speed and was still in control and killing it.  This race was going to be a cakewalk.  Why don’t I always use this strategy?

giphymile 7

Mile 10 I hit wall #1.  Mile 11.5 came wall 2.

Right around Mile 11, based on my watch (which was a little bit off the official time), I realized that I could *probably* break 1:45 if I hung on.  And once I realized that I had to do it.  Had to.

That’s when things got ugly.  My body was like, “Sorry, you did not adequately prepare me for this, stop right now.”  And I was like, “NO, BODY!  I’M THE BOSS HERE!”  and my body was like, “F*** you,” and my entire body, arms included, started to burn then go numb.  I tried to stay calm and not puke.

Mile 12 Buff Arms passed me.  And there was nothing I could do about it.

When I crossed the finish line my heart rate was 195.  Based on the Mayo Clinic’s method of calculating, my max heart rate should be 185.  I almost exploded.  Finish line pictures will be keepers.

I crossed the finish in 1:45:03.  God.  Dammit.

I wore my Garmin, which spit out a bunch of info that I probably didn’t need to know but is fun (for me) to look at.


Total elevation 52 feet.  Shwing.

Discrepancies in distance due to starting my watch a little late, and having it pause itself when I slowed down too much at the aid stations (a setting I have it on for when I do city running because it’s awesome at lights).

For posterity’s sake, and since I have them so neatly packaged right in front of me, my splits:


Wrapped it up with these puppies:


Why is running so fun.

The poor friend who I convinced to sign up for the full marathon did indeed finish, but did so while deathly ill.  CHELSEA, YOU ARE CRAZY but also a rockstar.  Feel better soon, girl.

Now I’m off to eat 1300 calories and completely negate this entire experience.


Carbo load


This is what life looks like when you buy a 5lb bag of baby carrots and, once you realize that there is no way the three people in your family who have enough teeth to eat carrots will be able to finish them before they go bad, decide that the best way to use them is in muffins.  Which means you need to shred them all.  But you don’t have a food processor.

Please note my neighbor’s Death Star nightlight in the background.  It’s even more impressive turned on.

Tomorrow is the Ventura half marathon.  It’ll be my first half since NYC in 2013.


If all goes according to plan tonight, it will be the first half marathon I’ve raced where I am not either hungover or pregnant.  Which, theoretically, should bode well for a PR.  Theoretically.


Up Next

IMAG1245back when i used to have all my toenails

You know what they say: When the kids are away, the mothers will…sit on the couch in their sweats drinking wine and sign up for marathons.



It’s 3pm


And a holiday.  With no school.  But still work for both parents.  Which meant four hours in the pool with clients this morning for me, and a husband at the hospital until 8pm.  And a toddler newly recovered from a really brutal 5-day stomach virus that apparently turned her into a Snow White humanoid with superhuman energy.  Who will not nap.

Anyone else googling “wine spritzer recipes”?

Screenshot 2016-05-30 15.29.12

Two minutes only if you’re a really slow pourer.

Serves two.


You’re welcome.

Stay Wild


I never take selfies (“WHY??” I hear your collective mental chorus screaming, as you take in the above shot).  And no, before you ask, that picture has not been photoshopped.  That is me in my natural state about 3 minutes ago.  No makeup, no fancy filters.  In my PJs. All. Natural. Even the eye bags.  #blessed

But the thing is, because I never have my camera turned around, I always forget that on my phone the automatic built-in setting for selfies is called “Beauty face”.   And it says it right there on the screen.  Every time.

beauty face


It’s the best.

ANYWAYYYY…the reason I took the selfie in the first place is because this morning three extraordinary things happened:

  1. I have no clients today
  2. Paul is home and took the kids for an hour
  3. My coffee was really, really good

So the obvious direction my morning would take was to drink another cup of coffee — HOT coffee — BY MYSELF and do something “productive”.

I never drank coffee until I started getting up at 4:45am to coach swim practice before work.  And even then half the time I’d drink tea.  Because coffee stains your teeth and gives you bad breath and is addictive.

Today, if I could mainline coffee, I would.

But maybe it’s a good thing I can’t, because I have found that drinking a really good cup first thing in the morning is one of the best things IN THE WORLD.  Right up there with a getting a surprise package in the mail or a good morning BM.  It can change the course of your entire day.  And this morning, my coffee was DELICIOUS.  And I am riding that high.

That’s all.  That’ my entire point.  The message I felt compelled to shout from the rooftops.  Good coffee is so good.  Highly recommend getting some.

And if you were wondering…


That is the coffee I had this morning.  Garibaldi Goods is where you can buy it and other delicious things.

Happy Friday.

Catalina Island Marathon


We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail
Where are we going, so far away
And somebody told me that this is the place
Where everything’s better, everything’s safe

In high school there were two girls who were best friends, I never saw one without the other, both used mini rolley backpacks covered in Toad the Wet Sprocket patches and stickers for their school bags.  They were DEVASTATED when the band broke up the summer before my senior year.  Every time I hear that song, including during a marathon, I think of them.  But that’s beside the point.

The Catalina Island Conservancy Marathon was last weekend.  26.2 miles.  4,310 feet in elevation.  350 runners.  Old friends.  Bison.  Garibaldi.  Buffalo milk.

Friday afternoon my sister, myself, and our old friend met up at the Long Beach terminal to catch the Catalina Island Express out to Avalon.


The three of us worked together for a few summers at a camp for kids on the West End of the island.  We hadn’t seen each other, or even really spoken much prior to the marathon, in almost 12 years.  TWELVE. YEARS.

But as it goes with relationships that are built through sharing a singular experience, there is a strange kind of bond that doesn’t seem to fade, regardless of how long it’s been.


We took the ride across the channel, one we had collectively done dozens of times, arriving both sun and windburned.  And as we pulled into the harbor, excitement set in over the nerves.


We checked in to our hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon making trips to the sole grocery store, picking up essentials for the next morning.  It felt good to be back.


We stayed in Avalon on the East End, next to the finish line.  The starting line was at the Isthmus, a narrow strip of land that connects the island’s east and west ends.


Kind of hard to see on the map, but the course is marked by a yellow line.  It basically runs from Two Harbors / Cat Harbor on the Isthmus, cuts through to the west coast, back through the middle and ends in Avalon, on the East End.  (The red crosses indicate aid stations, they’re a little easier to see on the map.)

Up at 3:45am on Saturday morning for another boat ride over to the starting line!


Apparently during previous years the ride over had been a little rough (two years ago Molly did the race and said 90% of the people on the boat were puking the entire ride, which is about an hour long.)  We had nothing but smooth sailing.  Thank God.

The first two and a half miles of the race are uphill.  Straight uphill.  Like, enough uphill to deprive your brain of sufficient oxygen to figure out how to take a picture on your phone.

…followed by about a mile and a half of minor ups and downs, and then some serious downhill.


Parts of the trail were narrow, muddy, and had a lot of loose rocks.  We saw a few people bail hard…including Molly immediately after taking this picture while she was fiddling with her phone.

The island was super green, which was a nice change from the brown, dry hills we were used to in the summer and fall.  It was pretty spectacular.

IMG_20160319_141723our view of shark harbor and little harbor, right around mile 9.  those little dots on the road are runners that were behind us.

A few things about this race were really, particularly awesome:

The aid stations were perfectly placed and had all sorts of options for hydration and fuel, as well as sunscreen and first aid kits.


There were Catalina Conservancy crew going up and down the course the entire time, making you feel that even though you were running on a trail in the middle of nowhere, you were never far from help.


The sun didn’t come out until about 3 hours in, which was super great on a course that is so exposed.


The vibe.  Everybody was supportive and nice and helpful and just psyched to be there.

Things that were not awesome:

This hill at mile 18, where we gained almost 600 ft in elevation in about a mile and a half…


…and the fact that my Catalina Marathon Running Mix didn’t download onto my phone.  Because of that, my personal soundtrack for this race ended up being a High School Flashback alternative rock mix that I had probably accidentally downloaded a few years ago, because I apparently hadn’t completed it.  It only had 8 songs.  I had no idea it was on my phone.

While Space Hog and Savage Garden and Blind Melon and Nada Surf are great, they have their place.  And I’m going to go ahead and say on repeat during a marathon is not that place.  You can only listen to Truly Madly Deeply so many times before you want to tear your eyes out.


After mile 19 the course was pretty pleasant and flat-ish, though still uphill.  The last three miles back into Avalon are a steep downhill, which can be rough on the legs after so much climbing.

But…(and not to beat a dead horse here)…it was just so gorgeous.


We all survived, made it back to Avalon, and recovered the only way we knew how.

936580_10104689640095552_7451411241998947759_n 12871472_10102911879851286_1843824732482185852_n

That night we visited a few old hangouts, sitting in corner tables, drinking our celebratory buffalo milks, watching everyone else rock out, remembering when we used to do the same, before we were older and busted and had just finished making our way across the entire island on foot.


Catalina is a special place.


I went into this race feeling undertrained and overtired and overwhelmed and terrified that the hills would be undoable and my body wouldn’t make it.

I came out feeling revitalized.  I loved every single second of it.

IMG_20160320_072735the morning after

So anyone who feels like doing this particularly challenging course in the future, let me know.  I’m in.


Now we’re back at the homestead
Where the air makes you choke
And people don’t know you
And trust is a joke
We don’t even have pictures
Just memories to hold
That grow sweeter each season
As we slowly grow old…




She looked down the deserted path
breathing in the rain-washed sky
soaking herself in warm, delicious solitude
The trials and tribulations
failed attempts
disappointing efforts
and lows
and exhaustion

all behind her
she thought of the one task that lay ahead
And as she looked forward
envisioning what the next few days would hold
a single, solitary word filled her mind:

Back on the wagon…?


The Catalina Marathon is two weeks from today.  Let’s talk about that.

After the last race I did (the swim in June) things got busy.  New baby.  New home.  New job.  Paul is on a crazy string of rotations again (he just finished another block of nights where we basically didn’t see him for 2 weeks).  In fact, I think February was the first month EVER in the entire history of this blog that I didn’t post anything.

Despite all that, sometime in the fall I decided that signing up for a marathon was a great idea.

Catalina has been a race I’ve wanted to do for over a decade.  It is crazy hilly. I’m running it with my sister and a friend. There is no way at all that I will go fast, I just need to finish.  How hard can training be?



The good news about the training is the weather has been nice and it has been refreshing to be outside and away from everyone else for a few hours.


The bad news is, for the first time I can really remember in my life, my body is fighting me.   I have never struggled training for something as much as I have for this.  And I might have some idea why.


When I was in college I took Psych 101 and remember reading a study on sleep deprivation and physical exertion.  It was from like 1950, had an n of 1, and were a lot of variables that weren’t super applicable to real life (ie, the guy stayed up voluntarily).  But the results were essentially that while your mental capacity is indubitably effected by lack of sleep, your physical performance capability and muscle strength is not.  I distinctly remember a black and white picture of this guy doing push ups after being awake for like 120 hours, smiling.

That image, burned into my mind, helped and me drag myself to morning practice on more than one occasion in college.  I have done some of my best workouts during times in my life when I am getting sub-optimal sleep, and I rarely sleep well before a race.  So I’ve never really worried too much about it.

10399342_523118888402_7356_nme at alma mater pool…on less than adequate sleep

Maybe it’s the fact that my sleep has been interrupted for months on end and the effect has finally compounded, I don’t know.  But for the first time ever I can’t seem to get past the exhaustion.  I can’t get my heart rate up, my body just won’t.

This feeling of debilitating fatigue could also be linked to…


1436_612233407236_7470_nyerm. primanti bros.

For some reason, even though I manage to make sure my children eat just fine, I cannot seem to do the same for myself.  Example: last night HH had lentils, avocado, strawberries, and tomatoes for dinner.  I had 2 hardboiled eggs and half a sleeve of shortbread Girl Scout cookies topped with chocolate chips (I know the chocolate chips might sound like overkill, but trust me.)  Most of the time I am just too lazy to prepare one more meal and do more dishes.  But solely subsisting on PB&J tortillas after a 14 mile run…I am really not helping myself.

These two things combined leads to…


I have a 2 year old in preschool and a husband that works in a hospital.  Walking petri dishes.  In the past two months we’ve all had a puking/GI stomach bug.  TWICE.  And in between those I got some kind of flu.  At one point, about 1/3 of the way into my training plan, I went over 2 weeks without running.  When I finally started up again, I decided to start back at square one to avoid injury…and my entire training plan went straight out the window.

So training so far has been a very weird, unpredictable rollercoaster on both an emotional and physical level.  The past 7 weeks have looked something like this:

Scheduled – How it went
10 mile run – Horrible.  Horrific.  Painful, terrible.  But finished.
12 mile run – A little sore, but OK
14 mile run – Skipped it entirely, too busy puking again.
13.5 mile run – Dreading it big time, but totally fine!  No issues at all, almost ran 15 I felt so good, but held back.
15 mile run – Headed out optimistic.  Felt absolutely terrible.  Body hurt. Joints hurt. Mind hurt.  Cut it short, only did 8.
15.5 mile run – No problem at all, no soreness or pain the next day!  Wheeeeeee!!
18 mile run – Turned into 10 mile run, incredibly slow and painful, took me 3 days to recover.

This is also, of course, assuming I can find someone to watch at least one of my kids for part of the day that I do my long runs.  I’m happy to take them for a couple miles, but at this point I don’t feel like the extra challenge of pushing a double stroller on my 16 miler is necessary.

10399362_576304998034_112_nhow i feel about life right now

I have 18 miles on the docket tomorrow.  Who knows what that will look like.

I’m really not sure what is happening here other than I’m coming into this race pretty significantly undertrained and overtired.  But who knows, given the way things are going, it could be hellish, but it also has the potential to be FANTASTIC.

1918402_733401989426_4762764_nlast trip to catalina, 2009

Go get it.


IMG_1002 (1)

I don’t do crafts.  But a few weeks before Christmas I decided I was going to.   Because that’s what good parents do during the holidays.  Paul was working nights, so I was flying solo on this.

Wednesday: On a trip to Target (duh) I decide baking cookies will be the perfect thing to get in the holiday spirit.  I like baking, and I’m good at it.  Sometimes.

Friday: After two days of the ingredients sitting on the counter, I decide to skip including my two year old in the dough-making process.  It’s not like this is a life skill she HAS to learn.  I make the dough on my own so it’s ready when she gets home from preschool.  She comes home from school in meltdown mode.  I make the executive decision to delay cookie making.

Monday: 3/4 of the dough still sitting in fridge.  The other 1/4 I ate over the weekend.

Wednesday:  A week later.  This is the day we will bake! HH has been having night terrors and sleep-walking when she goes to bed after 7:15 (fun), so we rush through dinner and have just enough time to get the dough out, roll it, cookie cutter some shapes (which she is way less into than I thought she would be), and throw them in the oven.  No time to decorate.  No time to admire the finished product.  I put the cookies in a tupperware after she goes to bed, keep frosting ingredients in the fridge.

Friday: Half of the cookies are gone because I ate them.  Sans-frosting.

Sunday: Facetime with Nana and Opa.  When I suggest HH show them the cookies she baked, she accidentally breaks an arm off of a star of Bethlehem.  I tell her it’s OK to eat it.  She looks at me confused, then suddenly the realization creeps across her face…these are edible! And not only can she eat the piece that broke off, she can eat the whole cookie.  And she does so.  From then on, every time she walks into the kitchen: “Cookie?”

Monday: Now that there are only 5 week-old cookies left in the tupperware, time to decorate!  I get out all the decorating icings and frostings.  HH smears green frosting on half of one cookie and goes, “I eat it now.”  I explain that no, decorating cookies is SO FUN, we can eat them when they’re decorated, and don’t gingerbread men look better with a face? and they taste better with frosting anyway.  “NO!  NO FROSTING!!  I EAT THE COOKIES NOW!”

So I take them away.  Tears.  Screams. Faux seizures. Drama.

The cream cheese I got to make special frosting is still sitting in the fridge.

Holiday crafts are the best.