Thursday, November 12, 2015

Santa Barbara Veteran's Day Half Marathon

Last Saturday was the Santa Barbara Veterans Day half marathon. Somehow I had in my mind that Veterans Day was late November, although I'm at a loss as to where that notion came from, what with Thanksgiving falling at the end of the month and all. Suffice it to say that the race snuck up on me and I wasn't ready, which is a growing trend that I need to buck. 

Packet pick-up never felt so patriotic!

This was the first time I spent less than $5 at a fitness expo. I picked up two Gu for race day (Espresso Love and a new flavor that involved salted caramel) for $3...only to set them down and forget them at the t-shirt table. Whoops-a-daisy! 

Not only was I untrained for this race, but it was mentally one of the toughest events I've showed up for. From the moment I woke up at 4:40 AM to the moment I stepped onto the course, there was negative dialogue going off in my head:

'I should just go back to bed.' 

'I'm too old.' 

'I hope I don't bump into anyone I know; they'll be shocked at how much weight I've gained.' 

'I should quit running.' 

Yikes! That's just a small taste of the negative self-talk that dogged my entire morning. We frequently talk about taking contrary action in the recovery community. If it were up to my head, I would have stayed home...but I knew I would feel even worse scratching the race for no good reason. Honestly, it was almost a relief to start running. 

The one thing that pulled me out of the hate-spiral was my bracelet. My mom gave me a slender silver bracelet about 7 years ago that I never take off. It has a small stamped sentiment on it, 'I always believe in you.'  It occurred to me that this doesn't mean, 'I always believe in you...except when you're overweight,' or 'I always believe in you...except if you run slower than a 9-minute mile.' Always means ALWAYS. It was the tiny blessing that I needed to get out the door and on with my race.

My game plan for the race was to follow the Galloway half marathon training method: 3 minute intervals of running followed by one minute of walking. This proved to be a good strategy for the first 5 miles...until the wheels fell off, so to speak. I was banking on muscle memory to get me through the first 10k, which was unrealistic. 
'My muscles have lost so much muscle memory, there's nothing left to remember.' Ba-dum bum!
A polite and chatty crowd right before our start. There was a man 
that wore a giant foam cowboy hat and looked exactly like Stinky Pete 
from Toy Story. It still kills me that I didn't get a photo of him. 
A quick snapchat to my daughter before
I started running. Emoji are life.
Part of my race ritual is determining what I'm going to wear and what I'm going to bring during my run. The night before the race, I convinced myself it would be a good idea to wear underwear with my running skort. Prior to my weight gain, I was all about #teamcommando. However, since I'm the heaviest I've ever weighed, it's not a so much a matter of whether or not I'll chafe as it is where: neck, underarms, around the elastic band of my sports bra, etc. 

I'm sure you see where this is going. 

Despite being generous around potential trouble spots with Glide, wearing underwear was a bad call. I'll just leave it at that. Suffice it to say that once things started going south, so to speak, I switched my run/walk ratio from 3:1 to 1:3. It was bad. 

Thank you for saying so! About a dozen of these hand-drawn posters 
appeared after the wretched switchback onto Las Positas Road.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect.
Despite being served a slice of humble pie -- in 2011, I PR'd my half marathon time by running this same event 85 minutes faster than last Saturday's effort -- it was a gorgeous day and a great course. The displays of patriotism reminded me of how fortunate I am to live where I do, and how grateful I am to my dad and all the veterans for their service to our country.
This gentleman saw us off safely and agreed to a selfie.
Thank you for your service, sir!
The man in front of me wore last year's 
race shirt. What an incredible sentiment! 
I dedicated the final mile of my race to three veterans: my father Joe,
my incredible SIL Michele, and my friend Bob Trimble. 
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!
The last half mile was stunning and all downhill.
My race review: The organizers changed things up significantly this year by moving the start location onto the university campus. Although I was disappointed not to pick up the Obern trail right at the bird refuge, it was a spectacular course. It was also a nice change of pace, if you'll forgive the pun. Most local races begin and end in the same location, essentially making for an identical course over and over. This new change was well received. Variety is the spice of life, right? 

A month before the event, the organizers did away with the full marathon completely. I'm sure many people who were registered to run 26.2 miles were disappointed by this decision. The race officials offered full marathon participants three options which I thought were fair: a full refund, entry to the half marathon and a refund of the cost difference, or reduced fee for the half marathon in 2016. This race has been called three different names in the 5 times I've run it, and I'm certain putting on a road race is an expensive endeavor. I am sure eliminating the full marathon was a decision the officials did not take lightly. I was pleased with the new route, the volunteers were fantastic and the water/aid stations were plentiful. There was a good afterparty that included food trucks and a beer garden, and the morning concluded with an incredible airshow. I'm grateful to have such a prestigious race in my own backyard.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Very Special Running Club

It's been super quiet around here. The summer passed very quickly, like I knew it would...and suddenly we were moving Girldoll out of our house and into her dorms. 

Um, yeah. That. 

Before and after photos of getting
my girl moved into her dorm.

The thing that made it easier is knowing how happy Girldoll is at her school. She is one of the most well-adjusted people I know, and I am thrilled that she is thriving and making new friendships. Her move happened to coincide with the annual closure of the gym where I work. This turned out to be a blessing because I missed her so much, it was hard to concentrate. It was unchartered territory for me and I felt emotionally lost. There were a few instances those first couple of days where I was so distracted, it felt unsafe to be driving. I was a freaking zombie.

The first two weeks Girldoll were gone were some of the hardest days I can remember having in a long time. I had the sensation of being homesick, except that I wasn't the one who moved. I'd get a reprieve a few moments throughout the day when I was focused on a task, but having the feelings rush back with such intensity was almost worse. Time has made things more manageable. We've settled into a new dynamic with just three of us at the house, but it's the little differences - like only bringing out three plates for dinner, that stumped me at first. 

I have been keeping busy with projects at the house, and shuttling Boydoll to school and his various activities. Speaking of which, I was seriously spoiled over the last two years my daughter was driving. Holy crow, all the mileage and time I'm spending in the car these days.
All that driving has me like... 
What does any of this have to do with fitness, or anything remotely close to the name of my post? Well, it doesn't. And therein lies the problem. I have reasons galore for not running - or not exercising much at all, for that matter, apart from teaching my spinning classes. I've slowly gained nearly 30 pounds over the last two years, also for a host of reasons, and it's made running miserable. Something has to give because I am starting to fight my way through teaching my spin classes. 

Do I want to do something about it? Absolutely. What I won't do is tear myself down over the weight gain; it serves no purpose to disparage myself or hate on my body. I know what I need to be doing, and it just needs to get done.

Apparently, my solution to this self-imposed running hiatus was to register for all the races. As if my looming half marathons coming up in November and January weren't enough, I recently have discovered the beauty of virtual races. No costly travel expenses or timing chip to contend with, just lace up your shoes and get out there. Where and how you get your mileage is on your honor. The best part is that you still get a medal! After registering for two virtual charity races and sharing them in a Facebook post, a friend innocently wrote this in the comments: 

If you like Harry Potter 
you should check out the 
Hogwarts running club, 
they have some awesome ones!

In the spirit of full disclosure, if I had to chose between Star Wars and Harry Potter in terms of fandom...the Force would beat out the Ministry of Magic, every time. Maybe I'd feel differently if I was younger and the Harry Potter books had come out when I was in grade school. Regardless, nothing comes close to waiting in a line that wrapped around the theater to see Episode IV, A New Hope with my dad in 1977. Nostalgia wins, every time.  

You guys. I'm so hosed, but in the nicest and most magical way. Not only did I join the Hogwarts Running Club on Facebook -- their motto is, 'Run like you know who is chasing you!' -- I got so caught up in the thrill of these themed races, I ended up taking the Sorting Hat questionnaire to formally determine which house I should join to add my mileage 'points' to. Although the sorting feature is down on J.K. Rowling's Pottermore site, I was able to track down the actual test online. It turns out the Buzzfeed quizzes that you see circulating on Facebook are surprisingly accurate in this case. Well, as accurate as selecting a house at a wizard school from a fantasy novel can be. Both questionnaires sorted me into the same house: Gryffindor. Go...Lions?
This was exactly the same expression
on my face after I was sorted into Gryffindor?!
I'll be running the distance of a full marathon, split over 5 races: three 5k, one five-miler, one 10k...and one 9-and-3/4k, because obviouslyI'm running my first virtual race tomorrow: the Hedwig Memorial 5k to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Check out what the medal looks like, y'all:
Avada Kavadra to kids' cancer!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Dear Beauty,

I'm so behind that I'm not sure where to start. Your 18th birthday has come and gone, and in less than three weeks you are going off to college. 

Hold up. 

It's impossible for me to believe only a year has transpired. Given the whirlwind that was your senior year and all that we packed into 12 months, it felt like we did 5 years worth of living over the course of one year: your first half marathon, your first job, becoming one of ten Teen Star finalists and performing at the Granada Theater, falling in love, a plethora of senior activities culminating up to your prom and graduation...and, I can barely type this without tearing up, the death of Samo. As we approach the first anniversary of Sam's death, I am nearly overcome with awe and pride at how you showed up and prevailed through your grief - despite such a significant loss for any age. You are truly one of my biggest heroes. 
Sweet Samo - Always loved and never forgotten
October 29, 1996 - September 19, 2014

Of all the races I've ever run, this half marathon was the
most meaningful. Photo credit Kaycie Landis
This is a digital painting of your Teen Star
performance created by the incredibly
talented Mirra Tubiolo.
Twue wuv
Your beautiful updo for prom
The heart can only handle so much awesome; your
brother's promotion from junior high was the same day
as your graduation. This also happens to be my favorite photo...ever.
It felt like I had hella more stamina a year ago than I do now. This girl is dog tired, man. I must've been 10 years younger when we were taking college tours last March. Yeah. You remember that one time, you know, when we were casually walking the UCSC campus with Don Cheadle?? #fangirl

Well, howdy. Iron Man has nothing on Don Cheadle.
Speaking of fangirling -- which is not a verb, but I just made it so -- a local writer and acquaintance of mine recently wrote about launching her nearly-adult son onto the unsuspecting world, wondering if she had taught him everything he needed to be a self-sufficient member of society. 

This must be a rite of passage for all parents, because I am fraught with the same dilemma. All the skill-appropriate milestones have been reached: potty training (although I am certain every parent is convinced they'll be sending their son or daughter off to college still wearing pull-ups to bed), learning to ride a bike, using an actual real knife to slice a bagel in half, parallel parking (well, this one is still a work in progress)...the list goes on.

A year ago, we were overwhelmed with college essays and applications. I tried to imagine you on each campus we toured, carrying your backpack and rushing to class. Fast-forward nine months, you have been accepted to 7 of the 10 colleges you applied to. In seventeen short days, you are out on your own and moving off to college. However, all that seems like small potatoes. 

The real question before you leave for college is this: Did I do a good job raising you to be a kind person? A person of integrity and compassion. The type of person who is a more than a good student, but a good friend. The answer to that question is complicated; I've come to realize that those things aren't really up to me. You have been those things all along. 

I was thrilled when you got a job last summer at the YMCA. You are a natural with children and you have an incredible work ethic. My readers may not know that, coincidentally, we happen to work at the same place. It tickles me to no end to see the expression on a coworkers face when they learn that we are related. Easy to get to know, outgoing and friendly...people all comment on how lovely you are. It has been so much fun to see you excel at work (June employee of the month) and go from the newbie to a seasoned veteran in a year's time. 

In March, we will take a trip together to Paris -- a graduation gift from your grandparents. I am thrilled to go to Europe with you and I can't wait to see you conquer your freshman year away at college. 

There are no words to describe this moment.
 You are always in my heart.

Remember to wear sunscreen, study hard and above you. I love you always.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Roundup of Random

Thursdays are my Fridays, which means that today is the start of my weekend. On alternate Fridays, I serve lunch at the high school. Yeah, I still help out at my kids' schools, but they tell me they don't mind...and it makes me feel good to volunteer. The teachers and staff are hugely appreciative. 

However, today is my alternate alternate Friday -- and somehow I have no appointments on my calendar. Don't get me wrong, I have TONS of stuff to do after the hustle of Teen Star (recap to come) and house guests.  And, of course, there is always the FASFA deadline looming in a few days. 

In an effort to post more frequently, I decided to write a feature of random stuff from my week. Look for it each Friday, mmmk? It seems fitting to start off my new column with this:

I bought a frog. It just doesn't get more random than that.
Dude isn't down for being handled too much, so I'll share a photo of what their legs look like (photo credit

Red-legged Frog
One of the most unusual things about this guy (or gal) is that the pupils are vertical. I suppose 'unusual' isn't the right word, it's more like 'classic'; like the eye of any drawing you would see of a reptile. I don't know why that struck me as surprising...but there you go. 

I didn't know their pupils dilated. It was a little unnerving the first time I saw it, even though it makes perfect sense since frogs are nocturnal and shit. Of course, all I could think of was this:

Death by cute: this slays me every time. It is also one
of the best things Antonio Banderas has ever done IMHO
What is unusual is their croak. Mr. Frog sounded off one night and we were all instantly on our feet trying to determine what was making that high-pitched sound. It was shrill and not unlike scratching on glass. What the hell?! Since when did frogs stop going, 'Ribbit! Ribbit!'?? 


My second bit of random was that I did my first-ever meal prep, tiny as it was. I follow many fitness-minded folks like myself on Instagram, and several of them have shared photos of a week's worth of food which are often assembled in a collage with Benjamin Franklin's quote, 'If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.' 

All of that makes me stabby, even if it's true. While I was preparing dry ingredients to make Rebecca's Wild Strawberry Pancakes, I realized it would be easy enough to just keep scooping - so I did! I made three more batches until I ran out of buckwheat flour. All I need to do is add wet ingredients to make yummy pancakes. I'm planning on bringing a few batches with us on vacation, if they're not confiscated as contraband:

Strawberry pancakes? YES.
Somehow my pancakes don't quite look like Rebecca's pancakes: her pancakes are pretty, pink-hued and fluffy. Mine? Not even close. When I cooked them in the pan -- even with TONS of coconut oil, they stuck terribly -- my pancakes may or may not resemble the photo of a certain frog I just posted:

Things were going along fine until shortly after
this photo was taken., and then the wheels fell off.
The finished product wasn't pretty...but I had no problem huffing them down. Here's a my version of Rebecca's recpipe: 

My pancakes: Not the ideal food
photograph...but still hella delicious.
And just for the sake of comparison, here are Rebecca's pancakes:

Rebecca's Wild Strawberry Pancakes with
strawberry protein 'frosting'. (Photo
My first few attempts at this recipe have looked nothing like the above photograph...but I am equal to the task. My plan of attack next time is 1) less heat, 2) use canola spray before adding coconut oil, and 3) not to care as much.

Have you tried recipes from the internet before? If so, how did it come out? Also, I am open to name suggestions for Mr. Frog. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teen Star...And Other Reasons I Dropped Off The Face Of The Planet

Hello Internet! Wassup?

I feel like a terrible blogger and have been horribly remiss about keeping things up to date here, but it's been for good reason.

First off, I've been in FAFSA hell. If anyone has been through the process of applying for college government aid, then you feel my pain. There has to be some kicky acronym for FAFSA that sums up just how much this process sucks. If know you know one or are good at thinking stuff like that up on the fly, I would love to hear yours. 

Anyway! This has been an exciting time for my daughter. She is starting to receive college acceptance letters, and best of all: SHE QUALIFIED FOR THE TEEN STAR FINALS!

My beautiful daughter. She is always a star in my book!

#TeenStar is a vocal competition for junior high and high school students, similar to The Voice or American Idol...except without the drama. Several of her friends qualified last year, so when she asked me if I thought she should audition, I said, "Absolutely!" We both felt like it would be a great experience for her.

The auditions went really well, and she left feeling really excited and confident. That alone was a win. Girldoll said the judges were very positive, and asked her why she waited until the final year she was eligible to audition. One of these judges told her, 'your voice is like butter!' I think because Girldoll decided to just go for it with no expectation on the outcome of her audition, she was confident and relaxed during her audition. The finalists were announced the following night through the Teen Star Facebook page, and receiving texts all in caps -- from both Girldoll and her brother -- that she made the finals was a pretty sweet text to receive.

One of ten finalists, the weeks before the event are going to be a whirlwind. She has already interviewed for a newspaper and been in several local publications with the other performers. They are a great group of vocalists and everyone has been friendly and excited to be a part of such a distinguished group. 

Santa Barbara's Got Talent!
Featured in our local paper
I had worried that it would be high pressure to sign with a talent agent or become an expensive endeavor, but it has been a lot of fun. Teen Star is volunteer run, and there was no cost to enter the competition. They are driven to make it a premier event and give the kids an amazing experience. She got to work one-on-one with a mentor in a state-of-the-art recording studio, honing in her songs and working on stage presence. 

Working with her mentor, Ike Jenkins. Inspiring, kind and professional.

Running through her ballad, Girldoll doesn't
seem to be bothered by the paparrazi...!

The decor at Playback Studio is incredible. In the interest on not posting too many
photos, it's hard to get an appreciation of just how impressive this place is.

A brief interview before Girldoll goes on camera. This will be used during the event
to feature her before she performs live at the Granada.

This one is for me because I couldn't help myself. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Holding one of Playback Recording studio's three Emmys that were, you know,
just out sitting on a coffee table. The poster above is Katy Perry, who recorded
Roar, Dark Horse (my personal favorite), Teenage Dream and California Girls here.
Girldoll has been busy promoting the event through interviews (radio and print), and they will perform at the beautiful Granada Theater on February 21, 2015. The kids get the full treatment with professional hair and makeup, limousine ride, walk the red carpet...the works! 

Kids these days, right?? There is no way I would have had the confidence to perform in front of 1,500 people at her age. It amazes me how accomplished the youth are nowadays. So excited for my beautiful and talented girl! 

Friday, January 9, 2015


Recently my girl Ange wrote about picking an intention for the new year, and honing it down to one word. I have seen a few others also chose a single word on Instagram over the last week in an effort to be a better person in the new year. 

I'm sure this phenomenon is hardly unique to 2015, but it is a new concept to me. What can I say? I'm slow on the uptake. Usually, I take a reverse approach and evaluate my year as the old year comes to a close - noting if there is a particular theme to my life that year. Past themes have been fitness, family, relationships and yes, even depression/anxiety.  

I like the idea of looking forward with an intention. So, right there in front of the Interwebs, I staked my claim on Angela's blog: mindfulHmmmm. That's not quite enough fanfare. Let's try this: 


That is much better, yes? It is a great concept, and something I've given a lot of thought. I want to be mindful in my relationships with my husband, family and friends, and how my actions and words affect others. 

Technology is a big part of our lives, and our family spends a majority of our free time on our phones, gaming, or watching television - frequently a combination of several at the same time. Don't get me wrong, I am one of the biggest offenders; I love my iPhone. I will go as far as to say that I think Instagram is one of the best things since sliced bread. In fact, Instagram is so excellent that it is superior to Facebook in every way, and nothing anyone can say will change my mind. 

But back to the topic of being mindful: I want to spend more time unplugged and living life. I want to set a good example for my kids. The time I don't spend with my face in my phone could be spent a thousand different ways: walking my dogs, exercising, cleaning my house, enjoying live music with my infinitum. 

And being mindful isn't just about spending less time on Instagram. It's about thinking kind thoughts towards others and myself, and living a life of integrity. These are easy words to throw around and my hope is that none of this comes off as trite. 

I'm excited for 2015. It will be a big year of transition for my family as my daughter finishes her last year of high school and begins college - which is a whole other topic of it's own. All the best to you and yours this year!