Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K Recap: We Got Our Gobble Gobble On!

Running the SV Turkey Trot San Jose-style—people wear the shirt for the race during the actual event out here!
Running the SV Turkey Trot San Jose-style—people wear the shirt for the race during the actual event out here!

Running on Thanksgiving is typical for me, but I can’t remember the last time I signed up for an organized trot. Registering for the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K was a no brainer—it fit perfectly into my training plan, and it was sponsored by the Sharks Foundation (which was enough to convince Michael K. Farrell to run).

Bright and early Thanksgiving morning, Michael K. Farrell and I donned our race tees, and joined the purple-clad crowd in the “6 to 7” corral. My plan was to do an easy 6 miles, so lining up just behind the pros made me anxious. (I didn’t want to hold sevens for the entire race!) My fear dissipated shortly after taking off, when I realized most of the runners around me weren’t dropping into a higher gear at the beginning either.

One of the largest trots in the nation, 23,552 people participated in the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K and 5K events this year. That’s a lot of people! Surprisingly, though, the course didn’t feel congested. The route started toward downtown, hooked left through Japantown, then meandered over to The Alameda, and took us on a tour through the neighborhood.

I love running down the middle of a street! The SV Turkey Trot course was especially fun because we took over a mix of city streets and residential roads.
I love running down the middle of a street! The SV Turkey Trot course was especially fun because we took over a mix of city streets and residential roads.

Michael K. Farrell and I ran side by side until around mile 4, when he picked up the pace just slightly during a left turn. I weighed my options—I could push myself to keep up, or I could stick to my plan and enjoy the run. I decided to be on my own for a bit, but I didn’t exactly let him out of sight. (I finished in 52:48, just 30 seconds behind him.)

 

Michael K. Farrell was waiting for me with a big smile just beyond the finish line. I pretended to be annoyed that he had attempted to leave me in the dust at first, and then gave him a huge sweaty hug.

We refueled with water and bananas in the park beyond the finish line, then started heading back to the car. That’s when my lower back decided to give me something I wasn’t so thankful for—a terrible muscle spasm. Suddenly, I could barely walk and I had to drop to the ground to do a couple of spinal twists. It put a damper on the drive home, and it certainly doesn’t bode well for my upcoming secret marathon. (I rethinking my strategy for that, and questioning whether or not I should even toe the start line.)

The rest of our day was spent with food and friends, which is exactly how Thanksgiving should be! I hope you all enjoyed the day!

Which moments from last week are you still thankful for? 

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Running with the Bride, Adirondack-Style!

A quick selfie with the glowing bride before pounding the pavement.
A quick selfie with the glowing bride before pounding the pavement.

Last week I took a break from my regular California routine to attend a wedding and visit family on the east coast. This wasn’t your typical white-gown-boozy-toasts-rubbery-chicken affair (although, there was quite a bit of booze!). From the pre-ceremony shots of rum and the steel drum player during cocktail hour, to the backyard-style barbecue reception with lawn games (ladder ball, anyone?), my Aunt Kathi and her new husband Will put on the most relaxed shindig Upstate New York has ever seen—and I loved every minute of it!

I’ve been proud of my Aunt Kathi for a long time now, but running with her on Saturday morning before the major festivities got under way filled me with a new appreciation for her tenacious spirit.

After a sad divorce several years ago, Aunt Kathi was faced with a broken heart and an unhealthy lifestyle. But she relied on one of our family mottos to help her pick up the pieces: “Every day is a good day.” With that positive attitude she hit the dating scene and joined a gym. Since then, she’s lost over 180 pounds thanks to healthier eating and fitness habits (she wakes up at 5:00 am most days to sweat it out with her friends at Core in Glens Falls, NY!) and she met the new love of her life, Will. (Aunt Kathi enacted another family motto when she took up residence with him: “Daly’s don’t dust; we move.”)

Who says life doesn't give second chances?
Aunt Kathi and Uncle Will share a moment overlooking Lake George. Who says life doesn’t give second chances?

Aunt Kathi and I tackled three miles on a rolling street in the Adirondacks and chatted the entire time about love, life, and making healthy choices. She apologized for her slow speed, but running faster would have meant missing out on a chance to connect and reflect. (Huffing and puffing at a tougher pace has its place, but this wasn’t it.)

There’s a popular saying, “Life doesn’t give you second chances,” and I think it’s a misleading mantra. We are surrounded by shining examples of people who, like my Aunt Kathi, render the statement untrue every single day.

Every day is a good day. Every day you get to wake up and decide how you are going to live your life. Will you choose a loving, supportive relationship? Will you opt for a plate full of veggies? Will you lace up your sneakers and go for that run? Every day is your second chance. Take it!

Where did you run last weekend? Who inspired you to have a good day?

Running with the Bride, Chicago-Style!

Sara’s sister made her an adorable top to run in pre-vows. (And yes, this beach is in Chicago!)

I just love a June wedding–especially when it takes me to a city I’ve never visited before. A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of watching my friends Sara and Iain tie the knot in front of family and friends at an art gallery in Chicago. Craving a girls’ weekend, I made Baby Sister come along as my date and we took the Windy City by storm.

Brrr! It was so much fun that after climbing out, Sara and I just had to jump back in again.

There’s no better way to learn about a city than to go for a run! The morning of the wedding, I pulled Baby Sister* out of bed early to meet Sara and her sister for an easy 4-miler. We took an out-and-back route along the water front, which included a loop of the zoo in Lincoln Park. Then, we jumped into Lake Michigan!

One all-beef dog, mustard, onions, sweet relish, pickle, tomatoes, peppers, and a shake of celery salt on a poppy seed bun.

After all of that sweating and swimming (30 seconds of treading water totally counts), I felt as though I’d earned a hot “dragged through the garden” dog. This one from Portillo’s was topped with everything under the sun–everything except ketchup, that is. (Surprise!) Chicagoans love their cheesy, saucy deep dish pizzas, but they’re not big fans of that other kind of tomato sauce.

Speaking of hot dogs… It’s time for me to find a grill and get my BBQ on. Happy 4th of July! And congratulations again, Sara and Iain!

Did you go for a run before you walked down the aisle? Have you ever tasted a Chicago-style hot dog?

*Baby Sister isn’t a big fan of running, so I’d like to thank her for being such a good sport. Not only did she hold her own at a 9:00 min/mile pace, she also threw herself (and her new Lululemon capris) into a Great Lake just for me. Baby Sister, you rock!

Look Ma, No Watch!

My running buddy took the morning off.

It’s not often that I hit the roads without a timepiece strapped to my wrist, so when I stepped onto my front stoop this morning and realized I wasn’t wearing a watch I was a bit surprised. Slightly panicked, actually. I stood on the bottom step of my building for a minute, debating whether or not to go back up the five flights and get it. In the end, I simply started moving.

Sure, sometimes I’ll go for a run and I won’t start the chronograph—I’ll just stop when my body tells me to. But I always know what time it is, and I can happily share that info with the world when asked. Which also means, I can always give a rough estimate of how long it takes me to run a certain distance. And I definitely play mind games with those numbers, factoring whether I’m getting faster or not pushing myself hard enough.

I have no idea what time it was when I reached the park, and even less of a clue as to what numbers were on the clock when I finished my 4-mile loop. But by the time I made it back up all of those stairs and into my apartment, I forgot all about checking. It’s like time stood still for me today, so that I could have an easy, number-free run and simply enjoy being outside. Thanks, Universe!

Do you know exactly how long all of your runs take? Do you ever leave your watch behind? 

What’s The Plan, Stan?

I’m training for Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon on 1 October and I’d like to do well. Of course, well is relative. My last half marathon was in January—it was 14 degrees outside and I finished in a respectable 1:57:02. This time, I’d like to push myself harder and cross the finish line in 1:49:00.

I’ve learned that when you set a goal (in running and in life) it helps to have a solid plan to get there. Figuring out that plan can be a challenge. Do you ask Google for one? Get it from a magazine? Hire a coach? I’ve tried all of those routes and they’ve all gotten the job done… when I’ve stuck with them.  That’s the key: A training program can’t tie your shoes for you—it only works if you’re dedicated to seeing it through.

Today my plan had me knock out three easy miles. But for some reason getting started was tough. I didn’t feel like getting out of my pajamas. I didn’t feel like going to the park. And I questioned whether a slow, low mileage run was really worth my time. (Clearly I woke up on the wrong side of the bed!) So I thought about my goal and I visualized what it would be like to look up at the finish line clock and see those numbers. Suddenly, snoozing for an extra 30 minutes just didn’t seem worth it.

What keeps you dedicated to your plan? What motivates you to run?

Are You Ready For National Running Day?

Tomorrow, June 1, is National Running Day. And since I like to think of myself as an ambassador of running (casual, non-pro level, conversational pace, out here for the smiles and the miles), I would like to officially welcome you to participate.

All you have to do is run. Seriously, it’s that easy.

Sure you could sign up for a fancy event (get $26 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon; $13 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon; $10 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k; $5 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k; $20 off a Muddy Buddy; and $20 off a TriRock event if you register for one on June 1, 2011), but if that seems too complicated to you, just run down your driveway, to the next mailbox, or to the end of the block.

I’ll be driving from NYC to VA for my baby sister’s wedding, so I won’t be anywhere near my favorite place to run—Central Park. Still, I’m planning to stop in every rest area and jog a lap around the parking lot. Yes, it’s going to make my travel time a heck of a lot longer, but I’ll do anything to be able to take part in this glorious holiday!

Tell me, how will you be celebrating National Running Day?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.

Running And Heels, For Me They Don’t Mix

Yesterday my quads were sore again. It felt like I’d run another marathon over the weekend—only I hadn’t. I’m being good about sticking to my recovery plan and easing back into running. I did my scheduled light run last night anyway, thinking maybe the muscles needed a little exercise to loosen up. Three miles of trails later (soft ground is easier on your body than pavement), my legs still hurt and going down a flight of stairs was no picnic.

This morning, I was reaching for a pair of pants I haven’t worn since last summer and remembered they were hemmed to be worn with heels. That’s when and it dawned on me—I wore cowboy boots that make me an inch and a half taller all day on Sunday. That’s why my quads are so sore!

 High heels throw your body out of alignment. To be able to walk in them without falling, you have to thrust your pelvis forward, which puts stress on your lower back and engages your legs muscles, from your calves up to your quads and glutes. I’d given them up during marathon training when I started having shin pain. So now, my body is used to being in flats and even walking around (and standing in a museum for a few hours) with the slightest lift gave my thighs a major workout.

Still, heels make my legs look hot! So I have two options: I can walk around in flats for the rest of my life, or I can go into training to be able to wear high ones again. (I’ll be wearing the ones in this photo to a friend’s wedding in October, so the choice has been made.)

Would you give up sexy stilettos and kitten heels to improve your running?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.

Tapering: For Running And Fashion, It’s Best Not To Over Think It

The taper portion of marathon training is a lot like a pair of pants that get skinny at the ankles—you think it’s going to be great, but then you wonder if it’s making your butt look big. Tapering requires you to drop the intensity of your workouts down to about 60% of the load you’ve built up to over the course of training. It can make you feel a little lazy.

This week, miCoach has me scaling back both my mileage and my speed, and next week I’ll barely be breaking a sweat—nothing on my schedule is longer than 40 minutes. After weeks of two to three hour runs, seeing a 25-minute session on my calendar seems ridiculous. I’ll practically be stopping before I get started—what’s the point of tying my shoes? Still, all those easy runs will be great for my body. My muscles will have plenty of recovery time and I’ll restock my fuel stores, which will help my legs feel fresh for the ultimate workout on April 18.

Shorter runs also mean I have more time on my hands for sleeping, eating, worrying about whether or not I trained enough, and online shopping. My legs are going to do well, but I’m not sure if my brain and my bank account will make it through the next two weeks without feeling drained.

Countdown to the Boston Marathon: 13 days!

Do you feel lazy when you dial back your workouts? More importantly, should I buy these pants?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.