Today my knee hurts, I’ve wanted a nap since I got up this morning and I feel like I’m fighting off a head cold, but I don’t care one bit BECAUSE I AM A HALF MARATHONER!
Yesterday, I ran the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, my first race if you don’t count the Turkey Trot 5k I ran 3 years ago. As mentioned previously, I had pretty much failed at training and felt completely unprepared for this race. So, I was thrilled to finish the race in 2:10:44 without having to stop to walk once!
But the best part about this experience was that I truly had fun running the race. That, I did not expect. I expected to feel a sense of accomplishment once I crossed the finish line. I hoped to have a few moments of runners high when I wasn’t wishing I was curled up in bed like most sane people on a Sunday morning, but I didn’t anticipate enjoying every last 13.1 miles of the course.
I should mention that, despite the fact that our hotel was strategically located one block away from the starting line, I came flying out of the port-o-potty and barely made it into my corral before the horn sounded and the race began. A little helpful hint: nerves will be running high and you will have to go to the bathroom several times before the race starts. Plan accordingly.
So, without further ado, here are the biggest takeaways from my first half marathon…
1. Adrenaline is my friend. I knew I would be both excited and nervous on race day, and everyone told me that you can run a lot farther during a race than you can in training, but I had no idea just how much of a boost I would get from the adrenaline that was pumping through my body when the horn sounded at 8 a.m. that morning. I felt like I could have kept running and running. I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time because I was seriously riding high on the rush of running my first race. It’s no wonder people sign up for this insanity again and again.
2. Running with other people rocks. I have always been a lone runner. I like the solitude that allows me to get lost in my thoughts and I like to work on my own speed and distance without worrying about whether or not I’m holding someone else back. I find it annoying when people try to talk to me while I’m running. It messes up my running zen. Just a heads up in case you and I ever pass each other on the trail. But surrounded by 13,000 other runners of every different shape, size and speed, all running the same course, I felt a strange camaraderie with this huge group of runners. Even the guy in the pink tutu. It was an amazingly communal experience.
3. I am more competitive than I like to admit. I don’t usually think of myself as a competitive person. I tend to engage in sports for the pure enjoyment of them, and I’ve never been the kind of person who needs to be the center of attention. My family may disagree. Running this race, however, proved to myself that I do have at least a little bit of a competitive streak. If it wasn’t the sly sense of satisfaction I got every time I passed someone on the course, it was the way I sprinted the last 300 yards to pass everyone in my pack to the finish line that finally convinced me of this truth.
4. Technology fails; keep running. I was totally pumped to run with my Garmin GPS watch so that I could track my pace and distance the entire 13.1 miles. But my stupid watch was still trying to find a satellite when the horn sounded and didn’t connect until almost .5 miles into the race, so I had to rely on mile markers to gauge how far I’d run. Somehow, I also brilliantly managed to stop the timer around mile 7, which had me completely confused for another mile and a half until I realized what had happened. Needless to say, I spent more time futzing with my watch than I did focusing on form and breath. But, in the end, it did help me keep my pace right around a 10 minute mile the whole time and I think that consistency is what helped me finish strong.
5. I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. This was probably the biggest lesson I learned from running my first half marathon. I had so many fears going into this race. Fears that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish, fears that I would embarrass myself and people would wonder who I thought I was trying to run 13.1 miles. I was afraid I would injure myself, and that I would be so miserable by the end that I would never want to run again. Instead, I felt my legs come alive, I felt my spirits soar and I felt my body do what it was meant to do as I gave it all I had. To everyone else I was just one of the 13,000 people who crossed the finish line to claim her medal that day.
But me, I feel like I can finally, confidently say: I am a runner.
Also, the best part of running a race is the license to throw dietary restrictions to the wind and stuff your face afterwards.
Oh yes, yes I did.
I would love to be able to give you some great advice about how I trained for this race and what my expectations are for race day. But the truth is that I probably did everything wrong and am just hoping to make it to the finish line without peeing myself or crying publicly.
I feel pretty unprepared to run 13.1 miles with any sort of dignity, but I’m going to do it anyway. I know that somewhere I have it within me to finish the race, but it may not be pretty and it certainly won’t be fast.
So, instead of writing a post about all of the techniques I learned while training for my half marathon, I decided that the best thing I can give to you all is some solid advice, personally tested, on what NOT to do when you’re training for a long distance race.
1. Buy a book about training for a marathon and wait until 1 week before the race to read it. I sifted through piles of books on running long distance races at Borders a couple months ago when they first started their store clearance sales and finally settled on one called Marathoning for Mortals. I actually opened the book for the first time just a few days ago and started reading about all of the things I should have been doing months ago to prepare me for this weekend. I guess it’s too late to tackle that 4 month training plan. Oops.
2. Fail to run. I hadn’t been running much for a couple years when I decided to sign up for the half-marathon. I figured that entering the race was the kick in the pants I needed to get me running regularly. False. This summer ended up being one of the busiest on record and I can blame it on any number of factors, but the truth is that I simply didn’t run enough. Turns out running is kind of crucial to prepping for a race. I should have read that book earlier.
3. Take up a new sport and accept a challenge in another, while you’re supposed to be training for your race. Along with trying to run more this summer, Aaron and I joined our local climbing gym so we’d have a sport that we could enjoy together. I also participated in a yoga challenge at my gym that was a fundraiser for our local food bank. It required me to increase the number of times I practiced at the studio this summer. While cross-training is an important part of race training and yoga will always be my number one banana, trying to throw myself whole hog into 3 different sports in the same summer was probably not the best way to get race ready. Not to mention, I injured my foot on those evil little climbing shoes that turns out were too small for my feet and had to stop running for a few weeks so I could heal.
4. Desperately try to cram. The bad news is that you can’t cram for a race, as much as my procrastinating self wanted it to be true. It’s not like studying for a biology test. Training for a race takes time, and trying to run too much too quickly is only a recipe for injury. I know this because as soon as my foot started feeling good, I laced up my neglected sneakers and hit the pavement hard. And then it took me a full week to stop walking like I was 95. Slow and steady gets you ready for the race, folks.
But, I’m not completely hopeless, and there were a few things that I did right that I think will help me cross that finish line on Sunday.
1. LOTS of yoga has made my muscles stronger and looser, which should benefit me greatly on race day.
2. Investing in the right equipment was a definite good move on my part. In particular, I love my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch. It dramatically changed the way I ran. I now know what my distance and pacing are at all times and it’s caused me to run faster and longer than I ever did before. I also bought a running skirt, which I swear makes me run faster. At the very least, it makes me run fancier.
3. Being in relatively good shape to start with gives me a certain sense of assurance that I can do this. I’m not going from couch potato to half marathon overnight. I do exercise frequently and, while I’ve never run 13.1 miles before, I’ve gotten close and I know my body can take me there.
4. Sticking with it is what’s going to get me across the finish line. There were a couple times that I was this close to dropping out, but my dear friend Robin (whom I’m running the race with) talked me back into it every time. Eventually I just had to give up the expectation that I was going to finish with any kind of dignified time and just know that I will cross that finish line. Even if I’m foaming at the mouth and it hobbling like a 95 year old.
So, in a nutshell, what have I learned from my half marathon training? Training is important, but if life gets in the way, run the race anyway.
Race recap coming on Monday!
I’m finding myself in a new position. No, I’m not talking about yoga, though I did manage to hold a headstand the other day. I don’t like to brag.
I’m talking about being in the position of not being financially stressed all the time. Not laying awake at night wondering how I’m going to pay my car insurance this month, or trying to calculate the day I will finally be done paying off my student loans.
Paying off my debt and getting married this year have finally launched me into the category of people who are able to both put new tires on their car and pay the plumber in the same month. I don’t mean to brag, but my life is pretty fancy.
But while Aaron and I are enjoying the simple pleasures that combined incomes afford, we’re also trying to plan wisely for our future, budget for the unforeseen, and live generously. The weird thing I’ve been noticing lately is that the more financially stable I’ve become, the more frugal I’m getting. For instance, I’ve recently started washing and reusing plastic sandwich baggies.
I’ve become my mother.
Probably it has something to do with getting older and gaining more of an awareness and a growing disgust for the depth of consumerism in our disposable culture.
Which brings us to the dump.
In the last 3 weeks, Aaron and I have made 4 trips to the Sonoma County Landfill, and I am here to tell you that it has become our new favorite hangout. That’s right. I love the dump.
I’m not crazy. We do have a good reason for this. Recently, we’ve embarked on an endeavor to become urban gardeners and transform our property with edible landscaping in the front yard, vegetable boxes on the side yard and a zen and herb garden in the back. But growing vegetables requires compost. Lots and lots of compost. And mulch. Lots and lots of mulch. And do you know where you can get heaping bags of beautiful, rich compost and mulch for less than the cost of lunch?
If you guessed the dump, you are correct.
Drive into the county landfill, cruise past the recycling center and wind your way up the slopping hills of trash and you’ll find a magical little gardening mecca where local yard trimmings and chicken poo are turned into rich soil and mulch for your yard.
Because we are urban gardeners, we don’t own a pickup, so we had to fill feed bags and load them into the back of my car. But, you save money doing the grunt work yourself, and the most surprising thing was that we actually had fun doing it! There was something deeply satisfying about shoveling our own compost and hauling it home to place in our garden. It’s a feeling you won’t get buying a bag of soil from Home Depot for four times the price.
I have definitely become my mother.
On one of our trips to get more compost, we swung by the recycling center to drop off some old bender board that we tore out and discovered a world not unlike something you’d see in a post-apocalyptic movie. They pile up peoples old stuff – everything from bikes to file cabinets to cassette tapes – by category and you can root through it all and purchase anything you find for pennies.
You think this sounds like a terrible way to spend a Saturday morning? You will change your mind when I tell you that we found all three original Star Wars soundtracks on LPs in near mint condition.
Another man’s trash…
So, perhaps you now understand why I love to go to the dump. Or, perhaps you still think I’m crazy and need to get a life.
But my mom is about the most awesome person I know, so I’m going with it.
Today I made Probiotic and Enzyme Salad. Or, as we simple folks call it, sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is one of those polorizing foods. You either love it or you hate. I happen to love it. In fact, I’ve been know to stick my feet in it. I’m not making this up.
When I was a little girl in Austria, we visited some friends who were making their own sauerkraut, a very common food in Austria. They had a huge wooden cask in a special barn on their property where they would layer cabbage, sprinkle salt, tie plastic bags over their feet and march around on it to pack it all down. Much like grape stomping. Except less Lucy and more Heidi.
Boy, do I miss those Austrians.
I happened to find myself this week with 3 organic heads of cabbage in my fridge, thanks to my CSA and momma’s garden. And since I’ve been on a huge sauerkraut kick lately there was obviously only one recourse.
But, I don’t really have room in my house for a large wooden cask, and as much fun as it is to squish cabbage through my toes, my feet were all dirty from working in the garden. So, I found an incredibly simple recipe for making this healthy salad by a nutritionist I follow on Twitter that does not involve stomping or barns. In fact it only took me about 30 minutes in total. Win!
Sauerkraut, or Probiotic and Enzyme Salad as I will henceforth be calling it, packs a muriad of health benefits. As the name implies, it is loaded with probiotics that are especially important to chronically tempermental stomachs like mine. It’s also full of enzymes, so it’s great to eat with a meal to aid in digestion. Cabbage itself has more vitamin C than oranges and is a great cleansing food.
You really can’t go wrong here. And if you think you don’t like sauerkraut, just try calling it Probiotic and Enzyme salad and see if you change your mind.
It’s as easy as rough chopping all of your cabbage…
Mixing it up with some sea salt…
Packing it tightly into sterilized Mason jars…
Sealing it up and storing it in a cupboard for 1-4 weeks to let it ferment.
If you still think you hate sauerkraut, come over and try some in a couple weeks. I promise I didn’t put my feet in it.
It’s been a long week, friends. Fall programs were launched at work. There were evening meetings, appointments galore and a couple social engagements to squeeze in. Oh yeah, and that pesky half marathon I’m supposed to be training for…
In fact, that’s kind of been the theme of the summer. Busy! I’m not complaining, but I will admit I’m a bit tired and ready for a little bit of boring. When does that happen? No, seriously I’m asking you.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve even posted my “Friday Funday” because, well frankly, my Fridays have not been all that fun lately. So, when The Hubs and I started talking about the projects on our to-do list (shovel compost, get wood for plater boxes, mulch the side yard, sand the cabinets, to name a few) and what we were going to tackle this weekend, I had to take a deep breath and say, “Babe, I really just need a day to get caught up on housewife stuff. Like cleaning out the fridge, organizing the tupperware cabinet and doing some actual meal planning.”
So, don’t tell anyone, but the dirty truth is that I secretly want to be a housewife. I love cooking, learning to garden and I actually enjoy taking care of my home and my family. But working full time and looking after a house, husband and dog is hard work. I can’t even imagine throwing kids into the mix. I get tired just thinking about it.
Where did I put that whiskey?
So, after an invigorating yoga session and an hour at Whole Foods spent sniffing produce and sifting through bins of chia seeds, I spent the rest of the day nesting. Not exactly glamorous, but my inner housewife thanks me.
What I Accomplished
In case you were wondering, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a plastic lid that fits your container. Nothing. Okay, realizing your bathroom is out of toiled paper while you are sitting on the pot and have a house full of guests might be slightly more frustrating, but only slightly.
I should have taken a before picture of the battlefield that was our container cabinet so you’d be really impressed with my work. Sarah: 1. Plastic wear: 0.
I also cleaned out and reorganized the fridge, throwing away about 182 expired condiment containers. This is what happens when you combine households. You end up with hundreds of condiments, salad dressings and random, unidentifiable pickled objects that you have to climb over in order to find anything in your fridge. And once you climb over them all, you realize the food in the back of your fridge has sat neglected and spoiled for so long that it is now unrecognizable. It’s time to toss the condiments, people.
And then I discovered the best possible way to keep a puppy occupied for at least half an hour.
As usual, peanut butter wins.
It was such a treat to have time to actually put together a nice, home cooked meal for The Hubs and me, instead of foraging for unspoiled leftovers in misfitting plastic containers behind a wall of condiments in the back of the fridge. Ehem.
I was inspired to make this bruschetta topping for the pork chops by my Brazilian friend, Ana. It was a great way to use up some tomatoes I had on hand. I placed them on a peppery bed of arugula and paired them with some beautiful artichokes I picked up at Whole Foods. I could eat artichokes every day. True story.
Paired with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, it was just perfect!
Betty Draper has nothing on me.
I was so excited to have my parents in town from Oregon over the Labor Day weekend. We did what we always do: cook, eat, talk gardening, drink wine and relax in each other’s company.
I was hoping to find something fun to take my folks to this weekend, but the only show I could find in town was the Taste of Sonoma wine weekend. It’s actually an amazing food and wine event that takes place out at MacMurray Ranch where I used to work and I’m sure we would have all enjoyed it immensely. But, since we decided that it was a good idea to pay the mortgage this month and not spend $600 on tickets for the 4 of us to go, I opted to take them to the next best show in town.
The Saturday morning Farmers Market at the Vet’s building!
I will confess right now, I am a huge dork and consider a trip to the Farmers Market to be an exciting outing. Apparently, I don’t get out much.
But seriously, I love meandering past the colorful booths stocked with fresh produce, vibrant flowers in paint buckets and hand glazed pots. I love nibbling on a freshly baked cinnamon roll and taking my time as I stroll through the market picking out my purchases. And I love the sense of community that being a part of a farmers market and purchasing vegetables from my neighbors fosters.
The Hummus Guy rocks. As does his hummus.
Okay, I’m revising my previous statement. This may be the best show in town. And – it’s free!
I don’t care if it’s almost September. I don’t care if school has started and vacations are over. I don’t care if we’ve only had a handful of hot days this year. As far as I’m concerned it’s still summer. And summer means watermelon.
Okay, here’s the thing. I’m actually not a very big watermelon fan. I hope this confession doesn’t get my American citizenship revoked. I just find it kind of bland and picking out all those little seeds is far too time consuming for a fruit that only tastes meh. It’s like sunflower seeds in the shell. I do not understands people’s obsession with this annoying snack! But that’s another tirade.
Rant aside, I found myself with half a watermelon in my fridge, a boat load of blueberries (Yes, blueberries are in pretty much everything I eat these days. I may have picked too many. Leave it alone, will you.) and an awesome new juicer.
And do you know what I discovered? Watermelon juice is amazing! Maybe it’s actually the gritty texture of watermelon that used to throw me off. That and the seeds, of course. But juice it up and it’s clean, sweet and oh so refreshing! The blueberries add a bit more depth to the flavor and turn the whole concoction a beautiful fuchsia.
I may have made a mess of my kitchen. Totally worth it.
The husband swooned.
Recipe (serves 4)
1/2 watermelon cut into chunks*
1/2 cup fresh blueberries*
Dump into the juicer and walah!
*Note: I don’t really measure anything I throw in the juicer. I juice the way I cook. Whatever I can find in the fridge or fruit basket gets thrown in. Usually this works. Usually.