Monday, September 13, 2010

Big Kahuna 2010

I signed up for the Big Kahuna (half iron distance) Triathlon earlier in the summer, thinking that it would force me to do some more cross training. This is something I've done in the past, and it's had a very positive effect on my running because it has allowed me to replace some of the pounding with spinning and swimming. For some reason, I wasn't quite as motivated to train this year as in years past. More work, less time, and gloomy weather kept me from wanting to swim and ride as much as I should have, but I did manage to get in some decent open water swims and a few long rides over the past couple of months. The week of the race, I joked about "racing" this one - I really had no idea what I would be able to do.

I spent Saturday down in Monterey to watch the Olympic distance race at Pac Grove, and then my good friend and fellow coach Kirk and I made our way on up to Santa Cruz to check in for Big Kahuna. We walked along the boardwalk and then moved on to the house to meet up with some of the SF Tri PEPs. We had a grand total of 13 people staying in our little house, ten of whom were racing. It was definitely cozy, but worked out well. We decided to make dinner easy, so rather than cooking, we went to the pizza place down the street for some tasty pizza and beer. After dinner, we enjoyed some more beers and some hot tub time before turning in to attempt to get some rest.

Race morning came really early - people started getting up at about 4:30 to get ready - but everyone was super calm. We had this nice little dance going on in the kitchen, making bagels, getting coffee, filling water bottles. Kirk was the ultimate athlete support system, and he followed behind us, wiping the counter, making more coffee, and marveling at the sense of calm among such a big group of triathletes (I'm pretty sure you could never get a group of nine type-A marathoners to function like that on race morning - they'd all be big balls of nerves, snapping at each other and freaking out!). My favorite part of the morning was when Kirk went to make some toast and realized that Super Dave, who was racing, had been waiting to use the toaster. Kirk took his toast out and told Dave to go ahead and make his bagel. Much to Kirk's surprise, Dave put Kirk's toast back into the toaster after his bagel was finished. Such politeness would rarely occur among marathoners, and they certainly wouldn't make breakfast for someone who wasn't racing!!!

Once we got all our stuff together, we loaded our tri bags into Kirk's car, and rode our bikes to transition. Kirk was even nice enough to follow us on the dark ride over there, since none of us had lights on our bikes. We staked out a good spot for most of the SF Tri team in the corner of the transition area, set up, got body marked, and headed down to the beach to get ready for the swim start. It was nice and foggy which was unexpected (but welcomed!). It wasn't too cold, and the water didn't feel too bad either, at least not compared to Aquatic Park. The start was a little bit late, but before I knew it, I was lining up for my wave and running into the water.

Just part of the SF Tri crew before the race

The swim was great. I knew that the buoys were pretty far out there and that I wouldn't see them until I got near the end of the pier, so I tried not to think about it too much. The swim out past the pier seemed to take forever because of some swells, and I also had a minor freak-out when I realized how clear the water was that morning. I've done this swim at least five times, and I never remember being able to see anything in the water, but this time I saw a bunch of kelp and it freaked me out. I had to focus really hard on looking straight ahead instead of down so that I wouldn't see any sea creatures that would make me panic! (just keep swimming. just keep swimming.) When we got sight of the first buoy, it seemed to be SO far out, but we were there in no time, and on to the second buoy. I made the second turn at 18 minutes (seriously?!?), which seemed to be way faster than any of my previous 70.3 swims, so I was super excited knowing that I just had to make it back to shore. I did my best to sight off of the Dream Inn, but for the longest time it didn't seem to get any closer. Finally, I got to shore, gave Kirk a wave, and went running up the hill to transition. I'm still wondering if the swim wasn't a bit short, but whatever - I'll take it! Swim time: 34:51

Exiting the water...this shot cracks me up!

T1 went pretty smoothly, but it was obvious I was out of practice. I was fumbling with things that should have been second nature. Definitely need to practice that a little more. T1: 6:04

I knew going into this race that the bike was going to be torture. I took about six months off after Ironman because I had very little motivation to ride, partially due to my accident last fall, and partially due to the colder than usual "summer" in San Francisco this year. Also, it was really foggy out on the road, which meant fogged up sunglasses and slick roads. So many people had crashed on the train tracks, that they made us get off of our bikes and walk across the tracks. I almost fell just walking, so even though it was a pain, I'm kind of glad they made us take that extra precaution. I took the opportunity to shove some food in my mouth and then got back to it. That's one thing I did feel like I got right this race, especially on the bike - I ate when I felt hungry rather than having some ridiculous nutrition plan, and it all worked out fine in the end. I think most of my stomach issues in the past have to do with all the air I swallow in the water, so I also tried taking a GasEx before and after the swim, which seemed to help. I'll definitely try it again next race to see if it has the same effect.

It felt like we had a bit of a headwind on the way out, so I couldn't wait to get to that turnaround and head back the other way. After the race I talked with the other SF Tri PEPs and they all said the same thing. Man, were we in for a surprise, because with the turnaround came a damn headwind! I was trying desperately to just keep spinning easy so that I could save my legs for the run, and every few miles I would recalculate my time to figure out if I was going to make it back soon enough for a PR. Miles 40-50 were pretty freaking painful on my butt! It wasn't the miles that were killing me, but that dang bike seat!!! Once I hit the turn back into Santa Cruz, I knew I was home free - I just wanted off that bike - and I knew that I would probably at least PR. Now it was a question of by how much. Quite a bit slower than last year, but given the amount of training I did, I'm fine with it. Bike time: 3:15:21

Coming back into town on the bike - soooo happy to be done!

I came screaming into T2 just behind a bunch of other SF Tri PEPs - we were all in a clump, and the announcer was impressed at our club turnout (yay for that black and green!). I made a quick gear transition, but had to stop by the bathroom, which slowed me down just a bit (I had to pee so bad I almost stopped at one of the beaches to use the bathroom, but I'm SO glad I didn't waste that time!). T2: 4:09

Feeling good heading out on the run!

As I came out of the transition area and glanced at my watch, it said 4:00. Holy crap. All I needed was a sub 2:00 half marathon, and I would not only have a 22-minute PR, but I would also have a sub 6:00 half Ironman!!! Okay. Dig. Deep. I watched my Garmin like a hawk, knowing that I needed to stay below a 9:10 pace if I was going to make it. I don't remember it ever really hurting, though I know I was definitely working hard out there. Every SF Tri uniform I saw gave me an extra boost out on the course (it totally helps to have a built in cheering squad on the course!), as did the water stop volunteers. I kept rolling along at an 8:40ish pace and I took short walk breaks at the water stops, but I was super diligent about picking it back up ASAP so that I could get it in there under six hours.

My concentration was unbreakable until just after the 12-mile mark. With less than a mile to go and 5:50 on the clock, I knew that I was going to make it. I was exhausted, but I was so excited to make my goal, especially given the way I felt about the race coming into it. I got all choked up and started to laugh/cry, which made me start to hyperventilate, so I had to stop and walk to catch my breath. I told myself to calm the f*ck down and I managed to regain my focus as I ran down the hill and onto the beach. The Big Kahuna finish is absolute torture because it requires you to run along the shoreline for more than a quarter of a mile. And we're not talking nice, hard packed sand beach, this is an obstacle course of old seaweed, soft sand, kids with sand castles, and the incoming tide all the way down the beach to the finish line. Sick bastards, those course designers. I dug in and kept an eye on my watch just to be sure, and I made my way down the beach, looking for Kirk and the other SF Tri PEPs at the finish. As I came around the corner into the chute, I sent a celebratory fist pump Kirk's way and struggled through the soft sand across the finish line just in time for that sub-2:00 run... Run time: 1:58:15


...and that sub-6:00 half Ironman!!!
Final time: 5:58:42

After I crossed the finish line I wasn't sure if I wanted to sit, lie down, or just pass out, but I opted for staying upright and did my best to walk around. I got some food and hung out at the finish, chatting with the other SF Tri PEPs and giving Kirk the rundown on my race. I was glowing from my unexpected PR, but also on the verge of cramping, so I did what I could to focus on the glow and used that to cheer the rest of our triathletes in down on the beach. It was freezing out there, but really fun to see everyone so happy with their finishes!

Nice and salty and FUH-reezing on the beach - LOVE Dave's pink pirate beanie, btw!

Happy PEPs! PRs all around for me, Katya, and Megan!

Once everyone was in, we headed back to the transition area to pack up our stuff and handed it over to Kirk (our hero!!!). I can't even believe that we got back on our bikes to ride home, but we somehow made it happen. The rest of the afternoon consisted of beers, burgers, the hot tub (not the best post-race therapy, and probably why I hurt so much for the next couple of days!), followed by movie night - Hot Tub Time Machine, baby! All in all, it was a fantastic weekend - great race, fabulous people, and an all around good time. Can't wait for the next one!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Angel Island 25k

Earlier this spring, a big group of Blue runners from the SFRRC decided to do the Romancing the Island 25k. I had a long run for Avenue of the Giants scheduled that day, and I was a little apprehensive about doing a trail race during the last few weeks of marathon training. You see, I have enough trouble staying on my feet on pavement - throw in some roots and rocks, and I figured I would be doomed. Well, my fellow runners had so many good things to say about the race that I decided I would risk it next time around, and man am I glad I did!

Matt picked up Matthew, Amanda and I, and we headed over to Tiburon, where we met Elizabeth and caught the ferry over to Angel Island. I was so laid back about this race that I forgot my bib number and almost left my water bottle in the car...In my mind, this was just taking place of my Saturday long run. Fortunately, the EnviroSports people are super laid back, and they took care of the bib number issue without any problem.

No race number? No problem!

Blue made quite the appearance at this race - besides the five of us, we met up with Stephanie and Monica on the dock, and then ran into Ale on the boat. Bonnie camped on the island overnight and met us on the island. 9 Blue members in all!
Matthew, Matt, Amanda, Elizabeth, me, Monica, and Stephanie on the ferry from Tiburon to Angel Island.

Race prep was pretty simple - we made a little pit stop (thanks Matthew for guarding the door of the men's bathroom!) and found a spot for our stuff under a tree. I'm amazed at how honest people are - I know it was a small race, but I find it pretty impressive that no one touched any of our stuff as it sat out in the open for two hours! The race director gathered everyone together, yelled out some (rather funny) race instructions, and called the 25k participants to the front.

A big clump of us ran around the parade grounds and then headed straight into a single track trail. I was immediately frustrated by the slower runners in front of me, and though I didn't want to leave the group, I was more worried about stepping on someone's heels or missing a rock, so I passed people whenever I felt uncomfortable. The two mile climb wasn't easy, but it was pretty steady, so it was easy to keep a consistent pace. At the end of the climb we came out onto a fire road, which was a nice change - the crowd thinned out a little bit, and it was easy to run the tangents on the open road. The views were spectacular too!
Well helloooo, Golden Gate!

Matthew caught me shortly after we made it onto the fire road, but I just kept chugging along, taking advantage of the nice long downhills, and trying to stay consistent on the uphills. Another uphill on a fire road took us all the way around and above the start area and back onto a nicely shaded single track (Northridge Trail) which crisscrossed the island and took us back around the back to the Sunset Trail, which felt a lot like running in the Marin Headlands. This slight downhill was awesome to run on, and brought us back around to the original single track that we had started on.

Amanda caught me just as we headed down the original single track, where we had to dodge the faster runners coming back up on their second loop. This slowed us down just a little bit, but we kept a good sub-8 pace going down the hill to the finish area. We checked in at the bottom, and then headed back up for our second loop. Amanda was super strong and kicked it up the hill, but I downshifted a bit and chugged along like I had done on the first loop - I was definitely feeling the hills in my legs!

The second loop was pretty much just like the first except that I took a couple of 10-15 second walk breaks on some of the steeper hill sections. I'm proud to say that I never stumbled on the trail (I know this will happen one day out on the trails, but it's not going to keep me from getting out there again!). I did have one close call on my second loop - As I was coming up to the top of the first hill, a string of 8 runners was coming down. They all pulled over to their right, but the 7th girl in line decided that she wanted to pass, and we came very close to having a head-on collision. We kind of shoved each other out of the way and kept going, but it sent my adrenaline soaring for a minute because I came *this close* to going down a pretty steep hill!

Coming back around on the Sunset Trail the second time, I met a guy who had made a wrong turn and gone all the way up to the top of Mount Livermore (oops!). I managed to stay on his heels the rest of the way down, and I held off the guys that were behind me for the last two miles. That downhill portion was a total blast, and it felt awesome to just let my legs go!

I crossed the finish line in 2:17:55, just a few minutes behind Matthew and Amanda, and good enough for 1st in my Age Group! I know it was a small race, but I'll take it!!!

Overall, we had a great showing from the Blue group - Elizabeth and I were first in our age group, Amanda and Matthew were second, Matt, Stephanie, and Ale were 4th, and Monica was 6th! Afterward, we went for a soak in the Bay and some celebratory margaritas at Guaymas in Tiburon. What a great way to spend the morning - I'm confident that I'll be heading out on the trails again soon!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ave of the Giants

I went into the Avenue of the Giants expecting to use it as a Boston qualifying race. I knew that the course would be beautiful, and the course profile made it look like a good race for an attempt. Two different out-and-backs with some rollers on a Redwood-lined street – sounded good to me!

I trained hard, and I made a pretty good comeback after last year’s bike accident debacle and Ironman Arizona. I had felt pretty sluggish for a while, but after a great race at Kaiser (1:41 out of nowhere!), I was feeling confident. I cut back a little bit on my running during the week, relying mostly on my Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday runs to get me through. This was definitely different from what I’ve done for past marathons. This time around, I usually substituted a spin class for my Wednesday runs, I rarely made it out of bed for my Monday runs, and I hardly did any tempo runs, but it left me feeling just about right physically, so I was confident that I was listening to my body and doing the right thing. My two 24-mile runs felt great, and the Yasso workout was good too, which made me feel even better. I had a tweaky hamstring in the peak week, but it soon subsided, and I had a good taper. I didn’t even get that annoying bloated feeling during taper, which made me feel like I was in dang good shape come race day.

Denise and I headed up to Humboldt County on Saturday morning. We made a few stops along the way – first to pick up some bagels for race day, then at the Petaluma Outlets (I can’t have a road trip with Denise without stopping by at least one outlet mall!), and in Ukiah for lunch at Subway. We got to the packet pickup at around 4:00pm, and we were done at about 4:02.

At the expo

There was really nothing at the expo except for bibs and shirts, so we grabbed our stuff and decided that instead of sitting in our motel in Garberville all afternoon/evening, that we would go up to Eureka and have dinner. Surely there must be an Olive Garden there, right? Ha. Right. We made a quick trip to the saddest mall either of us has ever seen (to look for a long-sleeved running shirt) and then we managed to find an Italian restaurant. It was surprisingly good for as sketchy as the town looks, so we were pleasantly surprised, but we really couldn’t get out of Eureka fast enough. We made a quick trip to the natural food store (the highlight of our trip to Eureka), and then we headed back down to Garberville to rest for the evening.

The motel was…interesting. It was clean (and it had a flatscreen TV, though I think they could have found a better way to upgrade the room!), but it was old and kind of sad looking. The lock on the door wasn’t all that secure either, but we were practically in the forest, so at least it was better than a tent. Okay, so it wasn’t that bad, and it was cheap! We settled in, set up our stuff for the morning, and got ready for bed. We watched Meet the Fockers, and then promptly turned out the light at 10:00pm.

The alarm went off at 6:00am, and we hit the snooze a couple of times. We were both surprised at how well we had slept – 8 solid hours of sleep the night before a race was a record for both of us! We quickly got ready and packed everything into the car, I made some coffee, and we headed off to the race start, about 30 minutes away. As we were driving to the start, just less than an hour before the race, we were a little weirded out at how little traffic there was. Once we got onto the Avenue of the Giants, we found some more cars, but still nothing like we’re used to seeing at other races. We parked in the big gravel area down by the river, and headed up to the registration area to get another safety pin for Denise, and, like good marathoners do, we got right in the Port-A-Potty line. I think we maybe stood in line for two minutes. Definitely a record. We walked around for a minute, got back in line, and again, we made it through in just a couple of minutes. This was just too easy. Everything seemed to be going our way. So we walked over toward the start. We still had about 10 minutes left, and we decided to go to the bathroom one more time (pre-race jitters). Even the Port-A-Potties right next to the start had NO line! Any other race, and there would have been 50 people standing there! So we got to the start line with about 5 minutes to spare. Star Spangled Banner, lined up, chatted with a few other people, 15 seconds to go, and we were off!

It was the weirdest marathon start I’ve experienced. No anticipation, no hum of the crowd, no excitement. Just totally laid back. For the first few miles, we chatted with Cindy (from Montana) and Danielle (from Colorado), who were both trying to stick with us. We met another woman who needed a 3:50 to qualify, so she decided to run with us for a while too. That was about it. A few people passed us, and we passed a few others, but that was our little group. We kept a pretty even pace for the first few miles. We were just a few seconds ahead on each mile, and I kept a close watch on the pace. Denise and I also made sure to run the tangents to avoid wasting any energy on unnecessary mileage. We chatted with the other ladies, and just chugged along, feeling pretty good. Until mile 5. Denise’s stomach started to bother her - maybe from the ERG/Vitalyte on-course drink? We’re not sure what it was. She decided, at about mile 6, that she would drop back, hoping that the cramp would subside and that she could catch back up. Unfortunately, it never did, and she dealt with stomach cramps for the rest of the race. Ugh.

She waved me on, and I stuck with the three other women that we had been running with. We cheered on Danielle’s boyfriend Mason and Cindy’s sister Cami at the turnaround, and at about mile 7 Danielle complained that her knees were really bothering her. Within the next mile or two, she started to fall back as well, leaving me and the other two women. We stuck together until about mile 11. We passed all of the half marathoners coming the other direction, which was a nice boost. They all kept cheering for our little group of ladies because I think it was obvious we were on a mission. I was already a little bit ahead of pace going downhill (I was surprised at how much downhill we had on the return of the first out-and-back because the first half of that leg didn’t seem uphill at all!), and they were just a little bit ahead of my pace, so I let them go ahead of me, thinking I would just try to keep them close. I had built up a 20-30 second cushion, so I felt pretty good. However, I think I made a mistake in waiting too long to eat my second Gu at this point. I finally gave in and took it without any water somewhere just before the half.

I was booking it when I hit the halfway mark, but I was starting to be a little bit concerned. It was feeling a little bit harder than I wanted it to at that point, and Cindy and the other woman were pulling farther away. I figure I ran the last 15 miles of the race by myself. Not exactly what I had planned. I rounded the corner to the cheers of the crowd, and headed over the bridge. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember it feeling like a hill, thanks to the little burst of crowd support. I really should have savored that moment a little longer because that was the last crowd I was going to see for a long time.

As I headed into the really gorgeous part of the Redwood forest, it got quiet. There were very few runners for the next mile or so, and then I came upon the 10k runners. Thank God for them. They at least kept me on pace for a while. I was struggling hard, watching Cindy off in the distance, and trying desperately to stay calm and to keep an eye on my pace. It didn’t help that my current pace kept jumping all over the place – not very good satellite reception in the middle of all those big trees!

Redwoods are pretty, but are not a Garmin's best friend!

Long story short, I didn’t let myself give up until I was well over one minute off of Boston qualifying time. I factored in that extra 59 seconds, and even added a few more, but I knew that at mile 17 with absolutely no cushion, running all by myself, there was no way I was going to be able to hold my pace for another 9 miles. I had already been losing speed, and would continue to do so for the rest of the race. There was a surprising amount of downhill in the race, and Denise and I both agreed that we would have preferred more flat or uphill – our quads were pretty trashed!

On my own just after mile 20

So somewhere around the 20 mile mark, when I saw Denise at the turnaround, she told me that she had decided to just enjoy it once she knew she wasn’t going to qualify. I did my best to do the same – it was a gorgeous, sunny day, and the trees were pretty amazing. I just wish that I had gone into this race to enjoy the scenery instead of trying to race it. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more! I stopped to stretch a few times, took some watermelon from one of the aid stations (it was mile 23.6, and it looked so freaking good – I didn’t even care what it did to my stomach at that point!), and tried my best to pick people off (or at least hold them off). I kept leapfrogging this one guy for the longest time – he drove me nuts because the sole was coming off of his shoe, and with every step, it would slap against the ground. I kinda wanted to punch him (so I could grab his foot and pull the sole the rest of the way off of his shoe, of course)! Ah, the things we think about at mile 24 of a marathon. :)

So anyway, the biggest hill in the course is at mile 25, and I owned that thing. I probably wasn’t going all that fast, but all that matters is that I was going way faster than the people around me. I did my best to kick it into gear on the downhill that followed, and to keep it up through to the finish. One last little stretch through the Redwoods, over the bridge, and around the corner to the finish. Thank God it’s over. 3:55:36. Not bad, but not anywhere near the 3:40 I was looking for. I wanted to cry, but mostly because I hurt, and because I was relieved to be done, not because I missed my BQ.

This race in particular required some serious willpower. After I lost the ladies, I was alone. Like really alone. A-L-O-N-E. There were only 436 marathoners, and I’m used to at least ten times that many (plus 15,000 half marathoners and a ton of spectators!). In most other circumstances, I probably would have gone down a deep dark I-failed-to-qualify-yet-again spiral, but amazingly enough, that didn’t happen. I was hurting, but I stayed positive for the whole race. No self-trash-talking, no feelings of despair. I just kept plugging along, one foot in front of the other. I knew that if I let myself go there, I wouldn’t come back out, and so I just focused on getting my tired legs to the finish line. I shoved that thought so far into the back of my brain that I still don’t think it’s hit me.

After I finished, I got some water and hung out on the sidelines to wait for Denise. I cheered for Danielle, the first-time marathoner that we had been running with at the beginning, and I did my best not to whimper and whine about how badly my legs were hurting. I wanted to sit, but once I did, I knew I had to get back up ASAP if I wanted to be able to walk again. I paced up and down the finisher’s chute until I finally saw Denise coming across the bridge, and I cheered her on through the finish line.

It was a weird day for both of us. We’re not really sure what happened. Everything was perfect, but for some reason we just couldn’t pull it off. Maybe it’s because we’re used to big marathons. Maybe it’s because we were both running alone for so much of the race. Maybe it’s because of the drink they had on the course. Maybe it’s because we didn’t do enough cross training, or tempo, or whatever. Maybe it’s because we spent so much time in the car the day before the race. There are a million maybes, and we can’t figure it out.

We stopped back at our hotel to shower, and then we got back on the road as soon as we could. We stopped a couple of times for food and for coffee, though neither of us was really that hungry. We were both really disappointed, but we were just kind of in a haze, indifferent to pretty much everything. The ride home was really quiet. Even now, the next day, I feel like yesterday’s race was a dream. The only thing that makes it real is the soreness in my legs and a few vague flashes of running through the Redwoods.

So I’m going to take a few days off, get it together, and see if I can figure out what went wrong. Then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and try it again.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Minimization of the Day 4/6/10

So it's been a few days since I've blogged, and in that time I've gotten serious about my budget. Besides a trip to the grocery store, I've only spent about $20 in the past week (and $14.75 of that was a movie and popcorn!).

I've done a lot of cooking over the past few days - Chicken Parmesan with Polenta, Chicken Pozole with Avocados, Orechiette with Spicy Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, and Cream of Asparagus Soup. I think I need to start taking pictures just to spice up the blog a little bit! I've still got the ingredients to make some gluten-free muffins that I've been wanting to try, Salmon and Risotto, and Steak with Quinoa and veggies. It's been fun trying new recipes - I love to cook - and it's kind of a fun game to see how much I can do without spending extra cash. Also, I was getting so tired of all the food around my office, it's a nice change to be eating something good!

On to today's topic: Many of the minimalist blogs that I’ve come across suggest that one of your first steps to simplifying your life is to figure out what’s truly important. So I sat down and made a list, and I was pretty surprised at how short it is.

  1. Family. My family is awesome – they’re funny, and caring, and totally dysfunctional at times, but I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to be related to. I can’t wait to have a family of my own to add to this crazy bunch!
  2. Friends. I have a ton of friends that I’ve known since elementary school, and I consider myself so lucky to still know and love these people after so many years. No matter the time or the distance, we always seem to be able to come together like we were never apart. The friends that I’ve met in college and here in San Francisco have helped define who I am today – I’ve learned so much from them, and I can’t thank them enough for that. I value all of these friends, new and old, more than I can possibly say. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with these relationships in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but I want to make a better effort to focus on the people that have been so important to me.
  3. My health. I wasn’t unhealthy as a kid – I was rarely ever sick, but I was average or a little on the chubby side, even throughout high school. Add on four years of college and another 25 pounds, and I became downright unhealthy and unhappy. It took me longer than it should have to decide to do something about it. Thanks to my family for the motivation to eat better and to my grad school friends for the motivation to start running, I lost 50 pounds and became a much healthier and happier person. It’s been 8 years now, and I’ve run 13 marathons, 20+ half marathons, and completed an Ironman triathlon. I feel very lucky to be healthy and active, and it’s something that will continue to be a priority for the rest of my life.
  4. The world. I’ve always been fascinated by the world around me. As a kid, I was curious, and I loved to go to school. I dreamed about traveling to faraway places and seeing all the things that I learned about in books. When I finally got the opportunity to go abroad, I was hooked. It’s so important to me to see new places, meet new people, and to learn languages and history and cultures. I cherish the experiences that I’ve had abroad – I’ve seen some amazing things, met some great people, and learned a ton, and I can’t imagine my life without those experiences. As long as I can continue to learn and to see the world, I’ll be a happy camper!
  5. Making a positive impact. I suppose this is a combination of all the things I’ve listed above, but it’s important to me to make a positive impact in all areas of my life - my family, my friends, my health (and that of the community), and the world in general.
I think I'm doing pretty well at keeping my priorities straight - I need to spend more time and effort on maintaining contact with friends and family that are not here in San Francisco (and even some of the ones who are here) instead of letting life get in the way so much. As far as my health is concerned, I've pretty much got that covered with my marathon training and the new cooking project that I've got going. I'm definitely seeing my share of the world this year - I'm going to Honduras with the Book Klub girls (provided we get accepted!), Costa Rica with mom and dad, and Colombia with my coworker Allen. I'll also be in San Diego with the BK girls, maybe L.A. with my friend Melissa, and New York for the Marathon in November. Fortunately, my job fits in to the "world" category as well - I'm learning a lot and really enjoying my work right now. As for making a positive impact, there are definitely ways I can improve in this arena, but I've got a good start with SFRRC and the trip to Honduras (with Heifer International). I'm on the lookout for another good volunteer activity!

Some more simplification in other areas of my life will make it easier for me to focus more on these things that are most important - it's definitely a work in progress!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Minimization of the Day 3/30/10

Things have been super crazy at work for the past couple of weeks, and to top it all off, I'm in the middle of the peak weeks of marathon training. I've managed to keep it all together, but I'm feeling like I need a bit of a breather.

I decided to take some advice from one of the blogs that I've been reading, and to assess my responsibilities for the next week or two and decide what is really important. I realized that I have one too many things going on here - deadlines for work, marathon training, happy hour (organized by me) for the SFRRC, a budget to finalize, stuff to donate, and to top it all off, Wildflower Training Weekend is looming out there as well.

If I go to WFTW, that adds another heap of responsibilities that I need to take care of in the next several days (laundry before and after, packing, shopping for food, not to mention the time away). When I thought about it, I decided that something had to give. I'm sad that I can't make it, but I know that if I give myself this weekend to get things in order I'll be so much happier. For once, I'm not trying to squeeze a million things into a schedule that's already jam-packed, and it feels good!

I hope everyone has fun at WFTW, and I'll see you back in SF, feeling refreshed!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Minimization of the Day 3/29/10

Of all the minimalist blogs I've encountered, they all seem to have a piece of advice in common - start a blog. I questioned it at first because it seems like it's just another thing to add to your list of things to do every day. But as I read more, I realized that the blog is a way to get your name out there and drum up some business. Where I'll go with this, who knows, but for now, it's a way to keep me accountable in my minimization process. Also, I need to get back to blogging about my running, so I'm going to start doing that again too (I still need to write race reports about Ironman and several other races that I did in the past two years!).

On to my Minimization of the Day:
  • I'm going to attempt to check my email only three times today. I checked it this morning when I got in, I'll check it at lunchtime, and I'll check it again before I go home.
  • I realized that I'm usually quick to answer an email, but it's not always urgent, and it breaks my focus. I'm an editor - nobody is going to die if I don't respond to their email for a couple of hours!
  • I have also greatly reduced the number of blogs that I follow, down to the ones that I truly enjoy. I found that I was reading about a lot of things that I didn't really care about (or blogs whose writers were just so bad that it kind of made me cringe).
  • I'm still working on my list of top priorities - so far the top of the list is to pay off my student loans, which I think I can do pretty quickly if I follow a strict budget. I know they say that student loans are "good debt" (whatever THAT means!), and my interest rate is great (only 1.2%), but I think it'll be a huge weight off of my shoulders if I can get that paid off and put more money into savings! I'm still working out the details, but I should be able to figure out a debt-free deadline once I get into April.