Category Archives: about me

Trail Hog Half-Marathon: Comin’ Round to the Mountains

After completing two 10Ks on the trails in the past two months, and a little nudge from the coach to look up a half-marathon for September, we decided to step it up a notch. His race-searching skills are not to be messed with..

Of course my naive logic assumed that since that I’m trained beyond what I need for 13.1 miles, this should be no big thang! The plan was to race, not just run. Yep, I can do that, too!  The elevation chart didn’t look too bad, I mean, as far as trail races go….

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trailhog half elevation garmin

As you can see, things started off really well! And by well, I mean quickly going from a run to a walk, to an uphill crawl, to sweet relief that at least the worst incline was already done.

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Once we finally got through the first few miles, and my ego was dust-covered but not yet destroyed, it was pretty smooth sailing. The first aid station greeted us right after mile 2. Usually I stick with my own water, but this day was already proving to be a no-messing-around adventure, so I happily took a big cup of icy H2O.

There was a 4.5 mile gap between this and the next life elixir.

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The half-marathon runners started 15 minutes before the 10k and 30 minutes before the 5K, but our loops mixed with theirs at one point. This is the biggest trail race we’ve run in California so far, which meant I finally got to enjoy the company and competition of fellow runners for most of the course (vs. just the beginning and/or end)!

We passed mile marker 5 / 12 and then 6 / 13, and I thought well at least I know exactly how the last 1.5 miles look! Then we split. As everyone else headed toward the Finish line, we turned to complete the next 6+ miles

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I spent most of the last half chasing, passing and then getting passed by the same handful of athletes. We all had different strengths on the course, and likely a few different goals (as it goes), but a similar stamina. I took advantage of every aid station, rationing my water and opting for the “Sports Mix!” for a little boost of electrolytes and flavor.

The hills throughout this last loop threw me off. ‘Scuse me, sirs, but according to that chart you should be shorter and less abrasive!  I assure you no hill feels short or friendly at this point, and I repeatedly tried to run up, only to stop, walk, and conserve the little energy + heart-capacity left. As the incline begins to soften and you can see it flatten out, that’s when I make the legs run again. There is no wasting a flat section, or adding any more time than is absolutely necessary between me and brunch!

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What I kept telling myself: the stretch between miles 12 – 13 isn’t too bad, you’ve already run it, you know what to expect!

What was actually true: by the time we actually hit those miles, and ran that stretch again, it all seemed different. The slight incline felt like a hill. The mile felt like two. The finish line couldn’t possible be close if my legs won’t move any faster than this.

That last picture is a shuffle up and around a corner; the mental battle script would read “move, food, brunch, water, move, food, MOVE”. The only reason I cared that I walked in the last half-mile is because once I slowed my momentum to get up the tiny inclines, it felt harder to walk than to run. So tricky, these trails!

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SWEET, SWEET, Finish Line. You never disappoint.

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13.4 miles – 2:08:43 – avg. 9:33 min/mile
2nd – F25-29

40th / 178 overall

There are a lot of great things about racing the trails vs. the roads, and high on that list is the food spread you see afterward. These athletes certainly know how to put the calories right back in with a buffet of sweet, salty and refreshing options – if you happen to leave a trail race hungry, that’s on you.

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Medals all around! Dan took 1st in his AG for his first trail 10K, and Mike snatched up 3rd in M30-35 along with 13th place overall. Fast dudes, unite!

As always, a huge thanks to the organizers and volunteers! Brazen Racing seems well-known in this ‘hood and put on a great event. We’ll be back!

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28: Part of Something Good

Everything there feels just as it should
You’re part of a life there, part of something good.
- Brandi Carlile –

Things looked very different on this 24th of July, as I sat in a Monterey, CA coffee shop, a quarter-mile from both the Pacific Ocean’s coast and the place we now call “home”, but thousands of miles from some of my favorite people.  We ran through the greens of Spanish Bay and along the water, nowhere near Lincoln or the Capital, but nothing to complain about here…

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Here, we have historic adobe houses, new swanky houses, and beaches that somehow show you both the sunrise and sunset (thanks, geography! – I still haven’t really figured this one out). Here, we have a totally different life than that which surrounded me one year ago.

big mistake first step

Now, more than ever, I know that there is always an adventure to be had – just turn over a few pillows and look under a few unturned stones. Something’s waiting. I know that change is inevitable; embrace it, challenge it, tell it what’s up!, let it change you. And now I know what MAF training is, how much I still have to learn about running, how to say “hello” and “Goodnight” in Swahili, where the wineries can be found in Carmel Valley (and to take the Grapevine Express!)  and that there is also a “Monterey”, Mexico!

These are all equally important life things.

adventures 

 tonyhorton5kgirls adult stuff
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 wonderfulIMG_3687 

Bateleur Camp_Sunrise 1 Amsterdam Canal Day
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 our year

Yep, that.

I know that even when it’s not perfect, it’s just how it should be.
It’s part of something good.

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What I Ate Wednesday: RD Edition, Tagged & Delivered

There are a few reasons why I rarely, if ever, share food log-type posts, but there was once a time that you would see a few recipes here n’ there, some meal recaps and a lot of LGF love. In what was now probably more than a month ago, Anne asked if I would put up a “WIAW” post if tagged, and I said “sure!”. She tagged.

Dear Anne,
I apologize for severe procrastination here. Let’s still be friends!

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Without further ado: we breakfast.

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(Melissa, 10 points if you can name this exact location!)

This photo is a few weeks old, but mirrors what most mornings look like. I have a huge glass of water before anything else – but then it’s right to the coffee (usually black or with a splash of almond or soy milk), and the peanut butter. Banana? That’s just a peanut-butter vehicle. I do love me some potassium and fiber, though.

Grab a spoon, a napkin, and a healthy appetite for nut butter!

On occasion you’ll see oatmeal + cinnamon here, too. On another occasion, you might see scrambled eggs + avocado + veggie(s). Sometimes things get fancy!

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Now that I work from home, nothing has changed about my lunch routine. I chop up a variety of fresh vegetables, aiming for at least 2-3 colors in the mix, toss in some pumpkin seeds and sliced avocado, and when I’ve planned ahead, a hard-boiled egg.

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One big difference of this work-from-home business? My home came stocked with a lemon tree in the backyard. So lovely, so California. This beauty’s dressing came courtesy of this tree’s abundant supply – freshly squeezed juice, and a few chopped basil leaves.

Top this off with some Farmer’s Market strawberries and a piece of dark chocolate. Perfecto!

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On the dinner menu: Tuna steaks and cooked vegetables.

There is no shortage of greens in this house!We usually snack on kale chips and/or carrots + hummus while we cook – un-pictured, but you know what snacky foods look like.

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Poor photo, great foods.

This colorful plate came together courtesy of fresh-from-the-farm asparagus and tomatoes. Summer is the only time you’ll see fresh heirloom tomatoes in my rotation – I’m not sorry for being a tomato snob. After placing tomatoes on the “never eating!!” list for 21 years of life, I take their new spot on my “favorites!” list seriously. Dice one of these babes up and sprinkle some salt, pepper and balsamic on there? It’s simply the best.

Smeared on that fish you see a spicy green curry paste, courtesy of Trader Joe’s.

Dessert: usually another piece of dark chocolate, perhaps a handful of walnuts (my fave) and maybe some dried fruit. And maybe a peanut-butter dip. Maybe.

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What was on your menu yesterday?
Taking tips for fish-grilling, as we put together the Weber today!

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Running & Reporting from the Bay in CA

It’s been quiet in this little corner, while life was being all kinds of loud! In the past few weeks, we’ve gone from this…

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….to this:

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Along the way we crossed 15 states (including the District, of course), stopped to see friends and family in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Chicago, Quad Cities, Colorado Springs and Albuquerque. We visited the Corn Palace* (oh, yes we did), the Presidents at Mt Rushmore, a lovely bed & breakfast in Rapid City, SD and Los Pollos Hermanos (aka Twisters). We were graced with everything from sun to rain to golf-ball-sized hail (what kind of guest treatment is that, Wyoming?!).

*Nobody takes corn lightly in South Dakota.

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Moving on…

We covered 3500+ miles throughout 8 days, with a nice long break in New Mexico to celebrate my little sis gettin’ hitched!

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And in the 2 days that followed, our powerful little car trekked the remaining 1,030 miles. And the day after that, all of our furniture met us in California and – voila! – we are officially temporary residents.

Monterey, CA

For the next 18 months you’ll find us running and riding along the bay, in the peaks and valleys of the Sierras and up and down many San Francisco-esque hills. I’m still on the Wellness Corporate Solutions team (whoop!) and joining the world of remote-working.

Currently, I’m reporting from the Adirondack chair in our back yard as I soak in the afternoon sunshine hours and admire the lemon tree that requires little care but provides ample fruit.

And that’s that.

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{Marathon} Goals: To Share or Shut it?

Today we take a (probably much-needed) break from chit-chatting about heart-rates and running and the powers that be behind the training plan. Today, we’re slightly more reserved. Taking yet another different approach to something very familiar – the goal time(s).

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Until I watched this TED talk, I approached goal-setting coaching (i.e. my day-job) with one mentality* – talk, talk, TALK IT UP! Tell people as much or as little as you want, but TELL THEM. Spread the news far and wide so that you feel fully committed. Keep it in? Well, that secrecy may mean you  don’t really believe you can do it; you’re giving yourself an out. If no one knows what you’re up to, no one knows whether or not you “succeed”, right?

Yes, in some ways that’s true. But, that’s not necessarily a fool-proof way to fail or stall. *I should have known better; there’s never ONE right way to do anything.

Rather, there are two schools of thought on goal-setting:

The first suggests sharing your goals with your community (family, friends, social network, etc.) to create a sense of accountability, holding you firmly to that goal and the steps you need to take to accomplish it. They’ll presumably check in on you, see how things are going, see if you’re still crazy enough to pursue said goal(s) and/or decide they want to join you! This is so helpful, right? Don’t you want to come back with full reports? Successes? Plans for them to hop on the crazy-train and enjoy the ride?

Sure. If that’s what works for you – go for it!
But, you don’t HAVE to.

The second contradicts this entirely; keep it to yourself, because once it’s said, but not done, you already feel some sense of reward and accomplishment. You get the (sometimes shocked-and-awed) reactions from friends and family, which elicits some feeling that you’ve already done what you need to do! And whew, that was easy. You didn’t even have to actually DO IT! Pressure’s off….but sometimes, so is the motivation to act.

Things are easier said than done anyway, right? Always!

But it’s not that easy. And if {insert personal goal} was easy, everyone would do it and there’d be no need for announcing or for self-keeping.

Maybe you work best within your own head – Introverts, high-five! – and only you need to know what’s going on while it’s going. You don’t need a long list of outside accountability sources to stick to it, and you’d rather operate on the notion that self-motivation can take you a long way. You want to work hard and reap the rewards, and then you can share them, if you so desire.

That’s okay, too! And maybe, if that’s what works for you, the “I DID this” report will be just as, if not more, satisfying than the “I PLAN to do this!” announcement.

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demolish goals

Neither approach is right or wrong, better or worse, more or less effective. They can coexist or be completely independent. Whether or not either/or will work for you can only be decided by you. And as with most things, it’ll probably take some trial and error. Ugh, I wish I hadn’t loudly announced my desire to run a 100-mile ultra whilst high on endorphins after that 10-mile trail race! *Shakes fist* Darn you, happy hormones! Can’t you do math?! (End dramatic example.) But, what doesn’t? You’ll figure it out, for you.

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Are you a goal-sharer or goal-keeper?

I think I unknowingly do a little of both, depending on the type of goal. And for this round, my lips are sealed for no particular reason other than continuing the trend – try something new and see how it pans out.

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