September 28, 2013

Dear Dad

I'm sure you know, but I feel the need to write and record that I felt you out there today.

The feeling was strong.

Launching the boat, I could hear you saying what a nice boat ramp and docking station they had.  (It was the nicest put-in I'd ever seen up close.)  It didn't hurt that E said many of the things you would have said about the facilities.

The weather, of course, was amazing, as was the water -- glassy, no swells, seriously gorgeous.  J & E2 commented on how it's *never* this nice at 9 AM.  And, of course, I couldn't help but think that yet again, you and papa (and now gran, too, most likely -- although she probably grumped about the fishing being the reason we were all communing) were pulling weather for me.

I told E and E2 and J that I felt so close to you.  I'm sure you knew my grin was almost painful with its expansive growth upon each amazing wildlife brush:  The guy on the Jetty who caught the huge Salmon -- yeah, I felt you smiling and congratulating him.  The first seal?  Yeah, that one too.  The second and third and forth seal/sea lions?  Finally, I just started to relax and enjoy my wide-mouth grin -- it was going to be *that* kind of day.  There were geese, seagulls, sea lions, seals, sea otters, dolphins and more...

It wasn't until the flock of geese went directly overhead our boat and I heard the "whoosh-whoosh-whoosh" of their flapping wings that I realized you had made an effort to join me in a way I couldn't possibly ignore.  I had to speak up and explain that I half-expected to hear the shotgun as the next refrain in that long-held song...

I heard it in my head and heart.

I love and miss you.

And I had such an amazing day today, dad.  But you know that.  You saw the dolphins blowing their blowholes.  In fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure you've met J's dad, and you guys were hanging out pulling weather and wildlife and inviting any other fishermen up there to add their effort to make sure our day was amazing (J would have loved a salmon, FYI...).

I'm almost certain you took this opportunity because you knew that the hand blender you gave me 10+ years ago would choose today to die.  On any other day, I would be sad, distraught, and frustrated by the end of your gift's functionality.

But today, after feeling so close to you (and papa and gran), it's okay.

So thanks, Dad.  I know you loved the day on the bay today.  I did too - I loved spending time with friends, nature, DNR, the CA environmental surveyists, and random strangers on the dock -- it was a day you would have celebrated and I did my best to do the same.  You probably pulled some tricks to make it better than it otherwise would have been, and I'm very appreciative -- I want you to know that I feel so lucky and loved to know that you're taking care of me from afar.

With love,
Your daughter   

A Goreous Day on Santa Cruz Bay

We were supposed to go camping this weekend.

But, due to E's broken foot, we decided camping was too much, so we visited E2 & J in Santa Cruz instead.  They made us an awesome dinner of ceviche and sausage on Friday and we talked and laughed over wine 'til it was time to sleep.  Saturday, after E2 and I enjoyed a lovely walk to Verve, they took us out on their Boston Whaler to go try our luck with the fish.

Apparently, we got lucky with the water and weather.  Even though we didn't head out 'til 9 AM, it was still nothing but glass and sunshine.  (If you zoom in, you can see the Santa Cruz boardwalk)  

It was so peaceful and pleasant.

J baited the lines and we all relaxed, enjoying the sounds and sights of the seagulls, geese, sea lions, dolphins, sea otters (so cute!!!), and, of course, the vermillion rock fish we caught (we threw it back).

I feel like I already had a full weekend and it's only Saturday afternoon!

September 23, 2013

2 weeks to go

I've been about halfway as disciplined as I probably should be to be training for a half marathon.  Better than nothing, for sure.  But I think it's probably time to step it up a notch for the next couple of weeks or the race is going to be painful.

Monday, I did the scheduled run: 50-60 min w/10X15 sec fast w/ 1 min R/I (actual 50:27 w/13X15-22 second CI; Approx 4.85 miles run with a 2 min walking c/d; 83.3F, so I was reasonably pleased with the outcome.

Tuesday, I made it back to Bikram and stayed in the room the entire time.  I did almost all of the poses, too.  The Tuesday 8:15 AM class seems to be a good option for me, so I'll try to hit that one up again this week.

Wednesday, a scheduled off day, I walked 1.8 miles and did some gardening.

Thursday, I definitely cheated.  I just wasn't feeling my run, so after a couple of slow minutes, I decided to replace it with some intervals and walking recovery.  End result? 6X3 minute intervals.  35 minutes total including the walking for an uninspired total of 2.73 miles.

Friday, I took it very easy in prep for my long run on Sunday -- 3 miles without GPS data in 32:45.  Yikes, I'm slow on these easy runs.

Saturday, I had a *very* rough run.  I met up with F and Jen at the Los Gatos Creek trail.  The goal was 10 at approximately 10 minute/mile pace, which should have been extremely doable considering last week's half-marathon on gravel and with some hills which was at 9:59 pace.  I was supposed to do an additional 2 miles after the 10 with F, but that didn't happen.  From the start, I just felt off and struggled to keep up with them.  I'd let them get ahead of me then try to catch up and did manage to get back to them by the 5 mile turn-around.  However, after the turn around, they started to put some distance between us, and I just couldn't close the gap.  Eventually, I decided they must have picked up the pace and that I should just run as best I could on my own.  Thankfully, when I met up with F at the end, she agreed that they had sped up on the return.  Since I didn't bring a watch, I'm not exactly sure what my final overall pace was, but I suspect it was somewhere right around 10:00/mile.  Very slow for how much effort I put in, but sometimes it's just completing the miles that matters for my fitness, so I'm hoping this one will pay dividends despite the lackluster performance.  I am pleased with how I pushed myself despite how off everything felt.  I only stopped twice, both times for water and some energy chews.  I'm hopeful this week's long run will be much easier.

Sunday, I had a nice easy run.  We'd gone out to dinner Saturday night and our friends had driven us home, so I ran about 3 easy miles to pick up the car and drove it home.

Total mileage: 26.88 including walking w/u and c/ds.  Definitely low for 2 weeks before a half marathon.  Oh well. 

September 15, 2013

3 weeks 'til SJ RNR

Last week, due to work, plus wedding bookend weekends, E's broken foot and necessary trips to urgent care, and a quick 30 hour trip to Disneyland with my Bro, Niece and K, my mileage took a serious hit.  I substituted some cross training (including 50 bicep curls that left me unable to straighten my arms for a few days), but the running was nothing to write home about.  Total miles:  15.  Quality? Not much, most of it was just miles on my feet in the slow lumbering pace range.  Saturday, I did manage to fit in some treadmill intervals at target race pace: 1.5 miles, 0.75 miles, and 1 mile all at 9:05/mile pace w/0.5% incline and 3 minutes recovery.  But really, it was a lame running week.

This week was also less than stellar, but somehow, it managed to help my confidence quite a bit.

M: 5.6 miles @ 11:07 pace.  These slow paces are the result of the broken garmin and running with the audiobooks.  I just relax and go at whatever pace feels easy.  Part of me comes home and calculates the paces and thinks?  "Why am I so slow?"  But, part of me knows that there are multiple training plans that call for training miles at much slower paces than I usually settle for, so I tell myself, "Relax."  You're training without a pace watch for this segment.  It's science.

T/W -- 30 hour disney trip.  OFF running, although I think I may have walked up to 7-8 miles with all of the various park activities (including some unplanned speedwork chasing and racing my niece to various rides).

Th: My track group was doing the Cooper Test on Wed in my absence, so I decided to do it by myself.  So, I busted out a 2 mile 10 min/mile w/u, then 1.46 miles in 12 minutes (8:13/mile pace), then 10 minutes walking cooldown.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I figured I was in 8:10 mile pace for a full mile, so to realize I was close to this for 1.5 miles made my day.  Maybe there is something to this run by feel approach after all...


Sa:  I got up at 5:20 AM to drive and pick up C, so we could drive to Jen's and then all drive together to the Zoom Point Pinole Half.  I was disappointed in my recent running, so my goals were quite simple.  Run the whole thing.  That's it.  So, I headed out conservatively and slowly stepped it up throughout.  I only stopped at aid stations, I ran the whole thing, and I did a great job of pushing myself the last couple of miles because I'd passed a woman I'd been jockeying with about 2 miles before the finish and I *really* didn't want her to pass me.  Overall, it was a great day. 2:09 half on a trail course with hills (albeit in perfect overcast chilly weather).  No complaints.  The post-race breakfast at tacubaya was to die for. BEST CHILAQUILES I'VE HAD IN THE US. (Oh, and FYI -- that Blue Bottle Coffee is not fucking around -- I had the jitters and was slightly nauseous  after half a cup with cream.  Be Aware!)

Su: I was worried about fitting my run in today.  We had a big, full day.  My bookkeeper was showing up at 9, we had brunch at 11, we were buying E a new suit after that, and then I had a huge chore/to-do list centered around taxes and general family administrative stuff.  But I woke at 5:50 (thanks to the day before's 5:20 AM wake-up call, I'd wanted to go to bed around 11 PM.).  I went back to sleep, but when I woke again at 7:20, fully rested, I took advantage.  I headed out for a *very* slow 4 miles (11:33/mile) plus another 0.5 mile walking cool down.   But I got it all done, plus a shower before my bookkeeper showed up. This, my friends, is how I define my own personal version of success. 

Total this week: 26.85 miles.  Most important -- a solid half and good cooper test have led me to believe that perhaps limiting my speed concerns to a couple of workouts a week is best....  I'll let you know.

September 11, 2013

11-year-old Soccer Player FTW

E vs. 11-year-old niece A after cousin's wedding in a parking lot soccer match = trouble.

To end the match, he slipped and fell and ripped his suit and broke his ankle.  Originally, the Urgent Care doc informed him it was just sprained.  But, yesterday, he got an apologetic call back saying that the radiologist found a broken bone.

Fun times.

2013 Goals, Q3 check-in

Oh, boy.  Quite a bit has changed in my life since I set my 2013 Goals.  Essentially, I'm off-course on almost all of them.

Running:  I'm 2 for 6.  Yikes.  The only two running goals I managed to hit this year were:

1) run the Rock 'n Roll AZ to the best of my abilities. Didn't quite go sub 2, but it was my best race in the last year and a half, so I'll take it.

2) complete the SLO marathon.

The other 4 where I whiffed?

-I did not complete the full McMillan training plan for the LA Marathon.  Life got in the way quite a bit and I had to do several substitutions.

-I did not finish the LA Marathon.  Instead,  I had my first marathon DNF.

-I was unable to go to China in May as a result of E's work obligations.  Thus, by default, I did not complete the Great Wall Half marathon.  I did, however, get to enjoy paying for the full registration fee, including multiple days of hotels -- all of which were non-refundable.  Ouch.

Health:  I did a great job early in the year, but I've been slowly sliding.  I didn't complete all the classes in that referenced Bikram 10-class card.  I've got a new card and I'm hopeful I may make it through on this one.  My diet definitely suffered during the Summer and the scale informs me that I'm the heaviest I've been in my 30s.  I've always been on the fence about vitamins, and after the recent brouhaha, I've decided to retreat to my historical position -- I should try to eat a diet that gives me all the vitamins and minerals I need.  I do, however, have an awesome garden this year.  So that's good. And, my sleep is better this year than it has been, historically, but it's definitely been worse in Q2 and Q3 than it was in Q1 when I originally set my goals.  (In a corollary, work has been getting increasingly crazy as the year has worn on.)

Books:  Well, I blew through the easy goal of 12 audiobooks.  I've been devouring them like mad -- I'm already at 30.  I think I'll probably have to take audiobooks off the goals list entirely for next year.  It's just part of my habits now.  (Albeit one of the most enjoyable habits I have).  As for the written word, I'm currently at 12 books.  It should be interesting to see if I can pick up the pace and get through the supposedly easy goal of 24 total.  Given all the upcoming travel, I give it 1:1 odds.

Language:  My Mandarin studies basically fell apart once I had to cancel the trip to China in May.  I'll likely do some refresher studies before we leave for the China trip this Fall, but truly, I lost my drive.  In addition to the canceled trip, my Mandarin group stopped meeting regularly, and my weekly Mandarin dinner night died when my teacher left for several months of travel.  Now that I'm going to Spain before China, part of me wants to spend some time brushing up on my Spanish instead of Mandarin.  So, maybe I'll do that instead and if I do, I'll consider it a success of sorts.       

Travel:  So, I planned the China trip, but we were unable to execute it.  However, this year has been and looks like it will be one of the biggest and most complex travel years we've ever had.  We already did a visit to Bermuda.  In addition to weekly visits to SF, we've still got Amsterdam, Barcelona, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Sydney, and South Island New Zealand on the calendar before 2014 hits.

Stay at Home Weekends:  E and I agreed to modify the definition of "home" weekends to include any weekend where we spent the entire time within a couple hours of driving distance in the greater bay area.  Early in the year, it became apparent that we don't spend even close to 1/2 of our weekends at "Home" if that means we have to sleep there for all of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.  Even with the modification, it looks like I probably failed on this one.  If we keep all of our current travel plans, I will have only spent 25 weekends this year completely within the bay area, with a large percentage of the away nights coming in Q4.  I'm comfortable that this is "close enough" to the annual goal of 26, but I also know that with the frequency of away nights in Q4, after the start of 2014, I'm going to desperately want to be a homebody for a while.

September 8, 2013

In Case You Were Wondering

This is proper accessorizing.

(Mounted elk in an Edna Valley dairy barn at a cinderalla-princess themed wedding):

Yeah, I may live in the bay area, but I'm originally from the *other* part of California.

(Also, I think this elk looks quite nice in his pearls and flowers.  Don't you?)

September 4, 2013

Dear City of Oakland... Seriously? WTF?

A couple of days ago, I received a notice from the city of Oakland claiming I had failed to respond to a parking ticket issued to my *grey* Honda (with my license plate number) that was issued to me at 4:55 PM on July 30, 2013 at 3300 Lakeshore Dr. 

My issues?

1.  I haven't been in Oakland for months, and I certainly wasn't there on July 30, 2013.
2.  I've never been to 3300 Lakeshore Dr.  Looks like a nice neighborhood, but I haven't had the pleasure just yet.
2.  My car is *bright* blue.  Not grey.
3.  Why is my license number and the make of my vehicle correct?  It couldn't be because I previously paid a ticket issued in Oakland without contest would it?

In short.  Oakland -- I am *not* impressed.  This looks like incompetence at best and blatant fraud at worst. 

Yes, I did file a detailed contest, including data from my garmin (showing me working out on the peninsula 10 minutes before the ticket), a photo of the blue (not grey) car, and an invitation that they subpoena IP addresses from Google re: emails I sent within 10 minutes of the supposed ticket that would put me in MV.

Of course, none of this is dispositive.  They could easily decide that someone else had my car despite my protestations that it wasn't possible.  It's essentially a case of he-said-she-said, where he is the city of Oakland parking.

Awesome. (Oh, and yes, I will spend the time and money to appeal this as far as I possibly can... I mean, WTF?)

September 2, 2013

Another Week of Indulgence

It has become clear to me that I should have looked at my social calendar before signing up for the San Jose Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon. (Speaking of RNR races, did you see the announcement about Competitor Group Almost Eliminating Support For Elite Athletes? -- I strongly disapprove of this move, but I also understand how they came to the conclusion from a business perspective.  Say what you will about Competitor in its various incarnations, but they have shown themselves to be nothing if not business savvy.)

On second thought, I'm glad I didn't look at my calendar.  There's no way I'd be making the effort to fit in the miles if I wasn't registered for a race -- I'd be floating down the slothy slide on a blanket of justifications.  In this 9-week half marathon training cycle, there will have been weekly BBQs for the first four weeks, 2 weddings, 2 rehearsal dinners, 1 bachelorette party, 1 baby shower weekend with sis and mom, 1 overnight trip to disneyland with brother and niece, a 3 day food and wine extravaganza in Napa, and, last week's 4 nights in SF, including a final dinner out with's E's sis and her hubby before they flew home (thankfully, we went to Millennium, so at least the food was fairly healthy).

So, in keeping with last week's theme -- I'm proud of this week, even though it's really nothing to celebrate with respect to running on its own.

M: No Bikram.  (Note to self: This is how it always starts -- I *have* to get myself back in that room soon or the 10 class card will expire with 8 unused clasess.  Again.) Instead of Bikram, drove up to SF, got situated in the condo, and headed out for cross-training.  I did 30 minutes along the embarcadero, running a few minutes then stopping briefly for pushups, dips, box jumps (onto landscaping concrete), stair lunges, etc.  Back at the condo I did another 30 minutes of abs, back strengthening and stretching.  Outside of the yoga studio, I don't know the last time I stretched and held stretches for more than a minute.  I felt awesome after this workout.  And then, starting the next day, my arms, back and abs hurt for 3 days.  Guess I need to do cross-training a little more often...

T: 2.1 miles at 10/mile-ish pace.  4.9 miles walking around SF between appointments.

W: Long intervals.  5X6:30 w/ 4:00 RI.  Jog w/u and c/d.  5 miles.  56:33 minutes. 2.3 miles walking in SF between appointments.

Th: 20 minutes, 2.1 miles.  Gardening.  Because of all the travel, I had to harvest today.  Otherwise too much would go to waste and I can't have months of effort go to waste.

F:  REST -- work, bachelorette party. 

Sa: 20 minute, 2 mile run.  6 minutes walk.  2.3 miles.  Nothing close to what the schedule called for, but hey, it was the day after a bachelorette party and I was fitting it in on a wedding weekend.  Give me some credit.

Su: 11.08 miles. 140 minutes.  Time on my feet goal?  Met.  This  was one of my famous "just get it done" workouts.  I kind-of pushed it 'til mile 9.5 and then I just dialed it in and jog/walked home based on effort level.  For the first 9.5 miles, I averaged 12 min/mile if you include the walking breaks for fuel, etc.  If you pull out the walking breaks, it was 11:32.  I slowed down enough during the last 1.5 home (half walking, half running) to result in an averall average pace for the full 11 miles of 12:48.  These paces are much slower than what I'd do if my garmin was working.  But, I'm doing an experiment and I have read some stuff that says I may have historically been running my long runs too fast, so I guess we'll see how this wacky food, wine and celebration-heavy training cycle treats me with the slower long runs.

Total mileage for the week (including walks in SF): 30.77 -- first >30 week since June.  I'll take it.