Running my way through California

Its no secret here on the blog – or to anyone in my life – that I miss all my friends in Santa Cruz, like a lot.  So much so that half the time I day dream about quitting law school, selling all my stuff, and hopping on a plane and inviting myself to live in one of my friends’ spare bedrooms.  And trust me, there were a few times it was so close to happening I’m almost surprised it didn’t.

But, as luck would have it I was able to find my way back to Santa Cruz in mid-May after second semester finals were over, AND will be finding myself back there in August – and I’m pretty sure that’s what allowed me to get back on the plane last Sunday was knowing I would be going back…

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There’s no place like home…or Leslie’s home for a get together 🙂

Of course, in true runner form, the first thing I did when Meg picked me up from the Airport May 10, well after catching up of course, was head out with her and another one of the running wives for a few miles of my long run.  I finished it out solo b/c Meg had already run a 10k race that morning, and I needed to get 10 on the books on the Santa Cruz rollers to boost my confidence for Capitola Half Marathon on May 18.  And then we had Verve coffee…because we had to.

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Later, we headed out for delicious dinner + drinks downtown.

Meg & Me

Meg & Me

Sunday morning we had a late morning run with some of the running wives on the hills of Santa Cruz and a new-to-me path. We refueled in the evening with some delicious BBQ foods later a la casa de Leslie – who, btw, throws the best house parties around!

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Some of my running wives at the BBQ

w/ Claudia & Laura at the BBQ

w/ Claudia & Laura at the BBQ

I will admit the fact that I was in California, running in some of my favorite places made taking the rest days I was supposed to take very very difficult.  So difficult, in fact, that I wasn’t sure that my half marathon race was going to go well?  Usually I like to have 2-3 rest days during race week – and like to be about 10ish miles total shorter (including the race – w/ the exception of a marathon race week) of my previous few weeks’ total mileage.  But that quickly went out the window.

Monday I did take a rest day, and just hung out in Santa Cruz with the pups at Meg’s house while she taught or something ridiculous like that – I mean, what’s work?

Sami.

Sami.

And Monday night I got to have tacos (we don’t have real tacos in Virginia/DC) with a good friend, and see the Santa Cruz sunset. I had forgotten how beautiful it was.

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Santa Cruz sunset at Pleasure Point

Tuesday morning, it was back to running with Meg & Leslie before heading to San Jose to meet my nephew and hang out with my family for a few days.  Got in a couple solid runs, spent plenty of time loving on my niece and nephew and helping out my brother and sister-in-law and got to even go to the Giants game with my brother, sister and niece!

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Cutest little man in the world (I’m biased)

Hanging with my niece

Hanging with my niece

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Melting at the Giants game w/ my sister

Then it was back to Santa Cruz to hang out with PhD friends and run/eat some more good food on Thursday.

Drinks w/ PhD friends

Drinks w/ PhD friends

I also got to experience RecoveryPump…

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RecoveryPump insanity.

Friday it was more miles along the coast with the girls, chased with an evening of sushi and wine for girl’s night out!

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All the ladies – fancy and not.

The fancy ladies

The fancy ladies

After what felt like a solid week of eating, drinking and running nonstop, it was time to start getting mentally ready for the half marathon on Sunday…but since this post is already like longer than any post I’ve ever written, I’ll leave it here for now.  I’ll leave it on a high note from all the friendship, family fun, food, wine, and of course running that happened over my post-finals week in California.  It was easily the best week of 2014 so far.  And it finished with a wonderful race weekend at Capitola Half Marathon…

What is your best week of 2014 so far?  Or best day?

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Run-n-Mate 5k

This past weekend, I participated in the September Run n’ Mate 5k in Washington, DC.

photo 2According to the website…

The Run n’ Mate 5k is a different kind of race.  We want runners to socialize and we’ve created the perfect opportunity to do just that!  We believe that exercise is not just about sweat and hard work.  It’s about feeling good, being active, and enjoying the outdoors.  Best of all, it’s about sharing those experiences in the company of others.  We are a community of young, active adults who want to meet other people with similar interests.  In a city that is often transient, Run n’ Mate is succeeding in breaking down barriers and building relationships.

When I saw that description, plus what race weekend was all about — I was all in!  It sounded like a great event and a fun way to meet fellow runners.

So, what is race weekend about?

Well, Friday night is a happy hour racebib pickup where you pick up your packet at a local bar (this event’s was at Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington) and you get a free drink to enjoy while socializing with your fellow runners.  Then Saturday morning is the race + raffle + events.  And Saturday night is another event – this time was supposed to be a National’s game, but sadly the game was rained out.

So how did it all go down?

Friday night

I headed to Whitlows via an afternoon run.  I showed up around 4:30, picked up my packet and while I didn’t enjoy a drink (I still had to run ~1.5 miles home), I did get to meet some fellow runners.  I met a group of runners from the state department who are all going to be leaving in April for a wide variety of countries – they had fascinating stories for sure.  Although I didn’t stay long, I really enjoyed getting to chat with a few new people.

Saturday morning

I hopped on my bike (okay first I had to have a stranger help me fix my bike since my chain was all out of whack from traveling cross country) and rode the 5 miles into DC to the race start.  At the race start I met the amazing and sweet Erin, who had found my blog earlier this fall while looking for SF NWM race reviews (its one of my most popular posts).  [Hi Erin, it was so fabulous to meet you!!!]

                            Me and Erin post-race

Erin and her husband were so sweet and wonderful, and Erin ran an additional 18 miles after the 5k (all the way back to her home!!!) as part of her marathon training for NWM Full this October!  Crazy girl!

I saw a few of the people I had met the night before, but I didn’t get there too early, and had to leave to go to work early, so I didn’t get a chance to socialize too much.  But it seemed like everyone was having a blast and was enjoying the event.

photo 1As for the race, I knew it was a fun race, and a small field (175 total men and women), so I wanted to go out and test my fitness and just do my best.  I ended up running hard and steady the entire race, and finished 4th woman OA and 2nd in my AG (not too shabby) with a time of 22:12 (7:09 pace).

Less than a minute off my PR I am extremely happy with that time coming off of a 2 1/2 week running hiatus due to a badly sprained ankle and no speed work for weeks.  Not too shabby.

Saturday night

As I said earlier, the event didn’t happen (luckily I can redeem my ticket next year — maybe when they’re playing the Twins?!), but I think it would’ve been a really fun event and would have been a great way to continue socializing and meeting fellow runners.

Overall?

All in all, I thought the idea was great.  My biggest qualm would have been that it was hard to figure out at the Friday happy hour who was with the race and who wasn’t – it would’ve been nice to have a racer designated area in the bar so you know who was there for the race.  Additionally, I need to get more comfortable talking to people I don’t know when I’m by myself (and/or find people to go to these events with me…) as I have a hard time just striking up conversations with strangers.  If someone approaches me, I’m totally okay but I just never quite know what to say…

Saturday morning was well executed and I even hear people started playing kickball.  I would have loved to stay around, but I had to jet off to shower before heading over to my new job (at a running store!!!).

Have you ever signed up for a social race event before?  What was your experience?  Do you go to races alone?  Or do you try to find a friend to sign up with you?

Let’s Play Ball!

Yesterday was spent in Oakland at the Twins v. A’s game.  Though we (the Twins) lost
8-3, I had a blast hanging out with my friends Sara, Kristen & Johnny.

The day started at 4pm with the annual A’s Beer Fest!  For $12 you got a 6oz souvenir cup and 3 6oz beer tastings from any number of microbreweries that were there.  It was crowded!  I’m pretty sure every fan >21 was in there – it was packed!  And there was a live band!

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And it wouldn’t be a beer fest without an Alcohol Compliance Supervisor!

Since I’m not eating gluten, I bee-lined it to the Crispin station to get my cider on.  And wow, did they have some amazing ciders – ones I had never seen/tried before.  The Landsdowne was incredible – it was made with Irish Stout yeast and organic molasses.

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A definite winner for a sipper-cider.  Delicious.  Unfortunately they ran out after I got my first taste, so the rep gave me a half glass of their last bottle of a cider that isn’t even on the market yet – and I can’t remember the name!  But, it was incredible, and gone far too quickly.  Since I had two tickets for tastings left, I passed them onto my friends.  We also made it on the A’s fan photo website (twice).  They were giving us twins fans a lot of lovin’:

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source: A’s TrueFans (here’s hoping I don’t get reprimanded for ‘stealing’ them – they were actually REALLY good photos, just too expensive to buy as a ‘souveneir – $29.99 for download rights, really?!)

And then, though we bought bleacher tickets ($13 each!), one of my friends scored us seats in the lower level due to the lack of ushers.  So we had a pretty good view of the field.

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As is required at most baseball game, more beer, wine, and snacks were consumed.  It was a quality game (even though we lost….).  Another baseball field off my list – I have the goal of seeing the Twins play in every stadium in the country: so far I’ve got Wrigley, Comiskey, Tiger’s Stadium & the Coliseum off my list.  There’s still a lot left to go – luckily I’m still young!

We finished the night out in Berkeley at Jupiter, where I got a delicious salmon salad.  And then I had a half-and-half cider style: pomegranate cider + pink lady apple cider.  A little on the sweet side, but delicious.  I would love to go back here again, and try the mango cider, and a few of the other salads while sitting on the patio.

Then we headed to Albatross (Berkeley’s oldest pub), where we ate lots of delicious popcorn, had another drink and played darts.  I loved the atmosphere of the Albatross — it was laid back, old school.  Definitely will be returning.  It was a great Saturday – so great to spend the day with friends from all different parts of my life.  Nothing quite like a day at the baseball field and night out in a fun town.

Unfortunately I had one-too-many drinks yesterday and today was a little rough.  I’m not 21 anymore.  I need to remember that.  And drink more water.

I so do not want to go back to work tomorrow…as such, lets reminisce about the greatness of weekend adventures or relaxation:

How did you spend your weekend?  What would you do on your ideal weekend?