Friday, December 30, 2011

No, Brazen...Thank You!!!

I found this gift this morning on Brazen's site (yes, i check it first thing in the morning : )
We all love this company for different reasons. For me, they have allowed me to make precious memories w/my kids. You have filled their medal racks to the full. They have given me an environment where I can push my limits, and if I fail, I know there will be someone there to pick me up, tell me "nice try, you'll get it next time", and shove an It's It ice cream in my hand. They have created a safe, friendly, family environment that has somehow made us feel brave enough to attempt a 50k.
Yes, I know they are a business, blah, blah, most of us they are much more than that.
Thank you, Brazen, for the memories made over the past year of running. Sam, Jasmin, and all the volunteers, thank you!!

(anyone up for a round of how many times can you spot Allen?? There's no prize though : )

(video source)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Break, 2011

we are 1.5 weeks into winter break and it has flown by! We have had amazing weather!! It has been a bit on the cool side, but beautiful sunny blue skies, perfect for getting outside and enjoying this amazing area we call home. I am in a continuous state of awe and gratefulness lately of this place we call home.

We have been to the Oakland Zoo.....

The Beast and I took our herd of kids hiking in Briones, up to Briones Peak.

Above is from Briones Peak looking across the valley of Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, and Concord to Mt. Diablo......which every time I see it from afar like this I think "yeah, I ran to the top of that"...... (there are only 2 people out there who actually know how much running actually went down on the way up and they will never tell, right??)
One of the above mentioned 2 people recommended getting some hills under our legs before the 50k....this was as steep as it looks, no camera tricks here
Above, sunset at the Lafayette Reservoir.

Below, one of the most beautiful hikes we have done to date. We headed to Stinson Beach to hike the Matt Davis Trail. We started in Stinson and hiked straight up the hill away from the ocean. This trail is no joke. It is steep, the first part is switch backs w/stairs at each end. You eventually hit grass lands at the the top, and pop in and out of the woods across the ridges a few times. The reason for hiking this was that we knew it was the final section of the 30k we will be doing next month. The elevation chart basically goes straight down at the end, that is the part that runs down the Matt Davis trail. It will be a beast to hit at mile 17/18 of a tough run. There are lots of stairs, and lots of trees to go over or under, and lots of roots.....but it is so beautiful!!
The above picture is at the top of Matt Davis, looking to San Fran. If you make it bigger, you'll see the top of one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as the tops of the buildings in the city.
Like I mentioned above, we would pop in and out of the woods as we crossed the tops of the ridges, then back into the woods of the valleys....when you are going across the face of the hill, it makes for nearly a straight line of going in and out of woods.....hard to explain, but if you've hiked this you know what I'm trying to describe.
If you make the above picture bigger, you'll see that it's looking up the hill at row after row of switchbacks w/a fence along the side.
I think we crossed 4 bridges??
That's the kids on Table Top Rock....I would later learn that it is a rattle snake hang out....but not in this cool weather most likely

Coming back down the girls and I ran it. We did run out of light be the end, but got to see a stunning sunset along the way.

We did a 10 mile run in Golden Gate Park on Monday of this week. Again, amazing weather.

Above, to get 10 miles out of this run, we start at the beach, and run to the polo field and do 2 laps. Myles had fun running these dirt hills. (we head to the conservatory of flowers, back to Stowe Lake, around it, then down the the beach from there for 10)

I know I say it often, but it is such a gift to live in a place that all these amazing adventures are just waiting to be had. To be able to get out and enjoy all these beautiful places w/our family and not have to pay a dime never gets old!!

There are hundreds more pictures here on the photo site. The Matt Davis pictures are really pretty, I had a hard time picking ones to post. I am so glad we took a look at it so we know what reward awaits us those last few miles, and that we now know to save some energy for those last few miles because we will need some energy to pick our feet up. If not, there will be plenty of face plants!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reservoir Yetti

Myles Montgomery

These were taken last Tuesday, waiting for the girls to get out of school.
No reason for posting these, other than he's just so cute.....
he does not like picking the girls up though, everyday I hear, "Can't we just leave them there?"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Elevation Charts

What is it about elevation charts??
I have been studying a few over the past few days and I don't know what it is that makes me so excited. They represent hard work and what promises to be a painful experience, I know that, yet I just feel happy! Is it that even though I see the uphill, I look so forward to the downhill that I choose to ignore the uphill?? Or maybe that I know the uphill is so worth the pain because I get to go down?? Or maybe because it looks so crazy and out of reach to ever complete something that looks so massive on paper?? Do you remember the Mt Climber on the Price is Right? Remember the swiss alps style music that would play as he started to climb up the fake Mt? (he would move the number of dollars the guess was off by) I have to admit that when I look at an elevation chart I picture myself as a little black dot moving up the hill to the same music. Hopefully I don't fall off the mountain at the end due to miss calculation, Price is Right style.
The next 4 months will be some of our most exciting running adventures so far. While we started out as road runners, we have been vocal about our love of the trails. I have said here before how we wish we could spend more time on the trails. Wishes are just goals waiting to be set. We are looking forward to branching out in our distances, as we continue to push new limits, which really only exist in our heads. We have wanted to dip our toes into the 'ultra' world for a while now, and the time has come. Baby steps, mind you....but if we were going to do it, it of course, had to have an elevation chart that gave me goose bumps! You can see an updated race sched on left of this page. There will be an additional trail half marathon between Napa and Diablo, but it is yet to be determined. In the mean time, I leave you with a few of the elevation charts I have been 'little black dot moving to swiss alps music' ing to the past few days.

Coastal Trail Runs Steep Ravine 30k

Brazen Racing's Mount Diablo 50kI have been looking at Napa Valley Marathon's elevation chart, too. It is amazing in it's own way. Our first time running it we thought it looked sooo hilly! We were yet to run San Fran, and were very new to trail running. Now I realize it's a net loss, and has bumps, not hills : 0 )

And yes, I have studied it long enough to know there are more than a few jokes to be made about that first is nicely "lifted and separated....though a bit uneven"....ok, let me hear yours, but keep it clean!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Insanity Update -

Week One Fit Test -
  • Switch kicks - 105
  • Power Jacks (squat jacks) - 53
  • Power Knees - 84
  • Power Jumps (jump from a squat, touch knees to elbows) - 40
  • Globe Jumps(each 1 = 4 jumps) - 14
  • Suicides (burpees) - 19
  • PushUp Jacks - 20
  • Low Plank Obliques (low plank, bring knees to elbows)- 51

Week 6 Fit Test -

  • Switch kicks - 119
  • Power Jacks (squat jacks) - 62
  • Power Knees - 98
  • Power Jumps - 73
  • Globe Jumps - 13
  • Suicide Jumps (burpees) - 20
  • Push up Jacks - 24
  • Low Plank Obliques - 57

Observations -

First, I'm super happy with the increase of the hardest moves for me - power jumps, and power knees!! I felt just as spent after finishing my minute this go round as I did week 1, so I was shocked to see that much of a difference. : )

Core strength and explosive/dynamic/plyometric strength has increased, while I feel my upperbody (shoulders, upper back, arms) has decreased, or maybe these areas are harder to see an increase in strength. This workout uses no weights, purely body resistance...and I had been using weights before. It's easy to see strength increase when you are upping your weight or increasing reps, however Insanity is max reps in the time given, so you always feel exhausted at the end, and unless I am doing the fit test, I don't' pay attention to how many reps, I just go crazy and go all out and then collapse on the floor.

I can definitely see/feel an increase of cardio and leg strength. I can do the moves for longer and sustain a much faster pace than week one. I feel solid in my runs, while not necessarily faster. IE - hills are feeling easier to get up, which has always been my weak point, but they aren't feeling any faster (but I have been pushing the stroller, so it's not really a good measure of speed)

As for core strength, every move makes you engage your core if you want to do it properly (and why bother if you're not going to do it properly??) So I can definitely feel it. I'm anxious to get some long runs in and up our cardio so I can start to actually see what I'm feeling. : ) .....and maybe laying off the Salted Carmel Mochas would help : )

This Months TrailRunner Mag

You know, he just couldn't stop talking about how he got chicked by me.
: )
Just kidding, apparently it wasn't among his "epic" running moments.
No matter, I'm still a fan.

In other news, my living room is looking more and more like a gym. The husband informed me a few days ago that he ordered a spin bike that should be here Friday.

I'm all or nothing, so if I'm gonna have a bike in my living room, then all the furniture had to come out, and it had to be a full on workout room. The treadmill made it's way inside from the garage, and a new industrial looking carpet went down where the treadmill is, and bike will be.
I'd love to find some weights on craigslist, but it's hard to find a set that isn't' insanely expensive.
For now I have a dumbbells from 5lbs to 20, one set w/plates, and then some extra 5lb plates I use for things like crunches and movements I'd rather hold a plate than a dumbbell for.
I need to find some old mirrored closet doors to hang on the wall and it'll be done.
I guess it's good that we live in an older house that has the separate living/family rooms!
Couple cans of "smell good" room spray wouldn't' hurt either.

Random question, but is anyone out there going after the Diablo Challenge 50k this year??
I'm getting the itch....... Our miles will be up as it's after NVM, it's Brazen, and it's local (for us)...sounds like it's make a good candidate for our first attempt at the distance. Oh, and the 10 hour limit sounds reasonable.
Just wondering.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Walnut Creek Half Marathon, 10k, and 5k

Well, I have to say, I am surprised at how well organized this race was. We went to the expo last night and it was empty, no lines....also only xs or large shirts left, but we went at the end of the day, so that's what we get!
As for race day events, we had no issues w/anything. We got to the race area around 7. We had to walk a short distance, as we knew we would. Our races started at 8, the half started on the other end of town at 7. As for the half, we were never on that end of town, didnt' see the start area at all, so although we have heard of the potty issues, or lack there of, I have no comment as I didn't witness it. I can say that in the start area for the 5k and 10k, there were ample potties and we all walked up and went right into empty ones. (I guess it should go w/o saying that we went into empty ones, could have been awkward otherwise: )
While walking to the start area we saw the lead halfers go by, which was neat. So about 10 minutes to 8, we parted ways. Sophie, Myles and Brian headed over to a field where the 5k started. (the start was revamped and not as originally posted on the map, so no narrow track/gate.) Emma and I headed to the street for our start. While we knew the two races started at the same time but in different spots, apparently some folks didnt. Brian had 10ker in his 5k, and we had a 5ker ask us where the finish was for the 5k out at the 10k turn around. My only suggestion would be to start one at 8 and one at 8:10 so there was some distinction between the 2. One was on trail, one on road, so neither interfered at all with the other, but if you started with the wrong race there was no way to get to where you should have been.
Once we were off and running, rather than warm up during the first mile, both Em and I grew increasingly cold. I wasn't sure I could push her to keep her moving as she was really really "my fingers are burning", "my toes are burning", "my hands wont move"....and it was really that cold. We had hand warmers but ditched them when the race started. We pulled off and I took off my arm warmers and put them on her, and made her keep moving. I knew she'd warm up, but it took us both longer than I thought it would.
She had a few side cramps, as you'll see in the pictures. Nothing I can really say when that happens other than "do you want to stretch" and "just push through and it'll probably go away".
She also ran out of her shoe Cinderella style and had to go back and get it.
We got stopped at only 1 (of many) intersections for cross traffic to pass. If this race fails in the future, it'll be thanks to the horrible, horrible, cranky, angry, angry WC-ites who won't tolerate their streets being overrun w/runners. It was a little scary at times. I have never ran a race where every car stopped in traffic due to the race was honking. I saw 2 different people get out and tell off the WCPD officers who were controlling the intersections. "What about our rights? We have rights too! Runners don't own these streets!"....yeah, I heard you old man. Get a grip people. Read the paper, watch the news, talk to your neighbor....know whats going on in your precious little town. You could have avoided the race and closed streets. You could have slept in and left the house at 11 when it was over and the streets were open again.
I digress, but yeah, the community outrage and protest is already in full swing, so who knows what'll happen next year.
Other than that, it was a great run! Emma's teacher came out to see her run and that was pretty awesome. She was hanging with the Sports Basement cheer crew and looked like she was having fun! It was her first race she's ever been to. Emma gave her a hug on the first pass, and when we came back by she was still there cheering for her, gave her a high five and told her to keep going!
Alright, so below are just a few of the pictures....I'll get all of them up on the photo site. Sorry most are of Emma, but that is who I was running with.

that's Em's teacher in the jeans, black top and boots w/hat and coffee reaching for a high five

she's sprinting to the finish above. Below she heads into the finish shoot solo..

So after the race we were all chilled to the bone. We had gotten coupons for Whole Foods Mac n Cheese (Best of the Bay area), so we headed for our free hot food. From there we went to Pete's for our free medium drinks. Then we came home and made a gingerbread house, but that's for another post.
I would just like to quickly mention that I am completely opposed to banditing races. I just want to be clear I dont' condone or promote such foul behavior. Nothing irritates me more than seeing a runner cross the finish w/no timing chip, no bib...but they take a medal and a plate of food. I know races take a ton of energy, time, resources, and ultimately money to put on, and runners should have to contribute a fair amount to cover such things, and for the experience provided. This was a great race, though I still feel it was terribly overpriced. I did not take anything away from anyone who paid to run, as I carried my own water, did not eat anything before, during, or after the event. I did not cross the finish line....and had there been a line for the potties I happily would have found a bush.
and I was so nervous I was going to get pulled off the course the whole time I nearly wet my pants. I have never seen so many orange vested Course Officials at a race!!

A 1:16, and a 39 minute'er, and a course limit milker

We have a 1:16 10ker in the house!! She did great!! We had a few random moments of unplanned running right out of her shoe and having to go back and get it....and having to stop in the first mile for me to take off my arm warmers and give them to her....and getting hugs from her teacher who braved the cold and the Sports Basement cheer group. It was pretty awesome to be out there with her for 6.2 miles. She was definitely one of the youngest I saw out there and got lots of support and hoots and hollars from other runners.

Sophie ran an awesome 39 minute 5k! She told me this morning that when she runs she just likes to "cruise" and not really be thinking about going fast. Well, her "cruising" speed keeps getting faster. Brian said he saw her just running along talking to people, even running backwards at one point talking to the guy behind her. She seemed to have a great time!

Myles went all 'trail runner' on us and used 57 of the 60 minute limit for the course : ) I'm not sure he had all that great of a time as it was freakishly cold and there were no medals, so it was one of those mornings that if you don't love running for the sake of running....just for the medal that didn't exist.....well, it's not gonna be your day.

A full recap and lots of pictures later.....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts....

I had some great runs this week! Two were with the Beast who I managed to keep w/in my sight both times.

This week is "Recovery" week for Insanity, so it's the same Core/Cardio/Balance workout all 6 days. Boring, but also neat to see how day 4 feels so much easier than day one did. Next week starts the last 4 weeks of all Max workouts.

Sophie, Myles and Brian are running the WC 5k tomorrow. I ran the course yesterday w/the Beast. Seems they may have picked the start of the course from a map w/o seeing it in person first as the starting path to Ironhorse does not exist in real life, as it does on a map. Oh, there is a narrow single track 10 foot section of trail to a one person wide opening in a fence that connects to the Ironhorse, but not the wide, paved path the map shows. Should make for an interesting race start. I'm hoping it's revamped by tomorrow morning.

Emma will have a few surprise fans cheering her along the 10k course tomorrow! (I emailed a few people).

Is anyone following the amazing Rock N Roll Vegas debacle?? Sounds like a total mess of a race. Not just a mess, but that they are lucky to not have any deaths. We are talking extreme overcrowding, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, fainting, running out of food, water, medals,shirts....and maybe scariest of all is to find out that it is a common practice in large marathons to pump water from fire hydrants into lined garbage cans and dip the cups in for runner water....which was done at the RnR race, apparently w/o gloves on some of the volunteers??? I'm sure they (volunteers) were doing their best to keep up with the insane crowd, but eewwhh. If it has to be done that way, gloves are non optional! I watched a video of a runner finishing and on either side of her people were vomiting. It will be interesting to see how the aftermath of this one plays out!

Ironman Kona airs tomorrow on NBC from 4:30 - 6 p.m. - google and check your local listings.

I have a cold and a sore, chunky throat and am hoping Emma doesn't give me a smack down tomorrow. I'm laying low today, doing my and the girls race nails, making chicken soup, and going to the race expo tonight.

And I leave you with this....since I have already mentioned vomit and explosive diarrhea....
I was doing Emma's hair this morning and saw something in it. I went to grab it and instantly knew I had grabbed a handful of green snot. As I was doubled over the toilet trying not to vomit she says, "Sorry, I sneezed and didnt' know where it went."

Have a great Friday!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A "Latham" style Surprise

Surprise Emma!!!

You are running your first 10k on Saturday!!

Momma will run with you as your "pacer" and carry your water and sports beans.

(read: momma is too cheap to register 2 people at the total rip off price of $75 each and will make her debut as a bandit because she wont let you run it alone.)

You gotta love Walnut Creek, the Beverly Hills wannabe city.

Marathon Night

For those who care, don't forget it's marathon night on The Biggest Loser!!
Starts at 9.

Last Weeks Runs

Runs from last week went like this
8, 5.6, 8, 3.1, and a memorable .6
4 Insanity workouts
(I am no longer doing double Insanity days making up missed workouts. It was making my runs feel like running through sand and I can't run like that now that I'm increasing miles every week)

A few pictures from last weeks runs.....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Girls on the Run Lollipop Run, San Fran

So Brian had been asked to run this w/the daughter of a friend. She is super speedy, running a 21 minute 5k.Brian had been a bit nervous about the task of keeping up with her, but after talking with her dad, the plan was to hold her back until half way, and then turn her loose. I should mention that they had been training for a few months w/the GOTR program and this was everyones "graduation" race, and that this was her second year w/the program.

I have a ton more pictures on our photo site, but below you will see "T"...the speedy girl on the left coming towards me.....Brian is no where to be seen. He eventually did catch back up to her, but she was flying and had an awesome stride.

dont' see that everyday!
One of the 4 times we went through a tunnel. The girls ran by themselves and I ran w/Myles.
He took a few detours through the woods and over some dirt hills, then got as many high fives as he could. We had a few "moments" but I kept him moving w/a promise of getting his face painted and going to the beach after.

The girls got "medals"....although once you've gotten a Brazen medal nearly everything else is a piece of plastic...but anyhow...the girls got medals, the boys did Kinda lame.
So, then we got some eats at Safeway and headed to Ocean Beach. The kids played for a bit, and then we got to looking over at the Marin Headlands....and got to pining away about how those hills were full of runners taking part in the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship. Before we knew it we were figuring out the start time, how long it took our friend to finish 50 miles his last go round, and realized we could make it to the finish in time to see him cross.

Then we stumbled across the fact that there was a free race that started at 4, and was lead by none other than Mr. Legs himself, Dean Karnazes!!! We hurried across the beach back to the car and changed back into our running clothes, and took off for Marin!

Keep reading below for what happens next!!