What started out as a joke on Facebook before our road trip a few weeks ago (you can read about that adventure here), got me thinking about the people I run with and who honestly, I spend most of my happy time with (besides my own family).
I feel very lucky to have the set of friends that I do. Friends who do crazy things and who enjoy Mother Nature and getting muddy just as much as me.
If you read my posts, you know who these usual suspects are in my life. Pigeon, Stonegate and Burning Girl are the most frequent. Occasionally we are lucky enough to run with Miss P and Pearls.
I also run with a dear friend, TiggerT. She doesn’t run ultras but when we do run, we usually laugh, a lot. She is my California International Marathon buddy and my “road-running” friend.
But more importantly, she and Stonegate, Burning Girl and Pigeon are my friends. My wolf-pack. They are the ones I know will support me in a race and in life.
Truth be told, before I ran trails, I ran alone. A lot. I used to read Kristin Armstrong’s blog Mile Markers on Runner’s World and would be so envious of the stories she’d write about – meeting her friends for a morning workout or a long training run – laughing and sharing their life’s problems with each other. I wanted that.
Well now, I have it but 100 times better.
My wolf-pack doesn’t run together every day or every weekend, but we are connected. The trails may have brought us together but it isn’t what keeps us strong.
My wolf-pack keeps me sane. They keep me on my toes. They are resources for things I know nothing about. They build you up and remind you, that you are worth it and that you deserve the best. They are shoulders to cry on when life gets hard and they remind you when you may be making the same mistake twice.
They give you hugs when you need them and they make you laugh.
I adore my wolf-pack and while it seems stereotypical to “give thanks” this time of year, that is exactly what I want to do.
Thank you ladies for all that you do. Thank you for being a little bit crazy and a lot-a-bit fun. Thank you for being adventure seekers and thank you for supporting my often crazy ideas. Thank you for the hugs, the laughter and the tears. Thank you for listening. Thank you, for being you … my wolf-pack, our wolf-pack.
The October love is still flowing strong. This past weekend was no exception. We squeezed in a lot!
The weekend started off with the school’s Harvest Festival on Friday night. I am giving the PTA props because they made some changes to the festival and it was well done. Vans helped with some set up too.
Saturday we found ourselves at the Loving Lane event down in Sacramento. Sally Edwards, aka the Head Heart is a dear friend of ours. Her nephew Lane Edwards was in a terrible accident about two years ago and was left with a C4 spinal fracture which has left him unable to walk.
Lane is defying all odds with the help of a huge team of trainers who are supporting his efforts to be able to walk again, on his own two feet.
We attended his event to help support LovingLane.org which is enabling Lane to continue with his therapy. Check out his website www.lovinglane.org and see how you can help.
Also attending Lane’s event was Pinkhouse, our 97 (soon to be 98 in December) year old friend who contributed by doing an indoor cycling ride for Lane! How is that for inspiration!?
Sunday morning came bright and early for us after the great day we had at Loving Lane.
Coach Nikon invited Vans and myself to come out to his race AND he told us to bring our girls. He said that he and his daughter the Cheetah, would watch them while Vans and I ran. How absolutely perfect (and nice) is that?!
I ran the half marathon and Vans ran the 10k. My race started first. After a few announcements from Coach Nikon, I was off and running.
The 10k runners followed yellow and black checkered ribbons while the half marathon runners followed pink and black striped. The course was well marked with ribbons and with flour on the ground. If you got lost, you clearly were not paying any attention.
I should note that Vans does not run much if at all. He’s probably run once this entire month. Needless to say, he was pretty stoked to find out that he was the winner of the 10k.
He was also pretty tired and really did not enjoy the uphill finish! ha!
He had a blast though and loved the challenging course. Hmm, maybe I’ll sign him up for the half next year?? 😉
My race was fun. I ran hard and had a great first half. Second half, after climbing the old dam hill, I slowly started running out of steam.
There was a young(er) girl who passed me at one point and who I stayed behind the entire second half of the race. She was running super strong.
She stopped at the last aid-station, about 1.7 from the finish and I grabbed her arm and said, “Nope. Come on! This is your race. You’ve got this, let’s go!” She followed and took the lead.
She asked if I wanted to pass and I told her no, this race was hers as she had been a super strong steady runner the whole day.
We turned a corner and saw the final stretch to the finish. It was completely up hill!!! I had been running steady for the last 3 or 4 miles with no walking … seeing that hill just knocked the wind out of me!
Vans snapped that photo as I was cresting the hill. I was giving Coach Nikon the evil eye with a bit of Jersey-attitude for throwing that darn hill in at the finish. FYI – You had to run the hill because EVERYONE was watching and cheering at the top. 🙂
It was a FANTASTIC race. Such a gorgeous day and a very well run event with amazing volunteers!
We chilled at the finish line laughing and chatting with friends. We didn’t really want to leave ….
but alas, we had promised the girls a trip to Apple Hill to get pumpkins since next week is Halloween. Where is time going?!
We stopped quickly at an orchard to get pumpkins, apples and look at the all the vendor booths. Squeaker found her happy place at a booth that sold tutus and fairy wings.
Next stop, was at our dear friends winery. Our peaceful happy place. The girls just love it here and so do we.
The girls run around playing while Vans and I chat with the owners and our friends, Ann and Paul (in between masses of people visiting the winery of course).
October is always an insane month for them. It is the busiest time of year actually. Vans and I are low maintenance and happy to sit and enjoy the views. We also love to help them out when they need it, carrying boxes, empty glasses or whatever they need. It makes us happy to help.
Needless to say, I am bummed this is the last week of October. It has been one amazing month and I have been so blessed and over-joyed with all that we have been a part of this month.
Next weekend is my plant-based cooking class and I am super excited about that. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, November isn’t looking too shabby at the moment. My trail-girls, Stonegate and Burning Girl and I have a little road trip adventure coming up which should be fun!
It was my first ever trail-relay and I was running a section of Folsom Lake that I have never run before.
The run was tough. My section was 25 miles, a lot of pavement and quite a few climbs.
Unfortunately, our team did not finish. Stonegate started her leg at 3 pm in the afternoon, when it was already quite hot outside. She mis-judged her fueling routine with the later start time and ended up not being able to finish her leg. She was pretty ill and I know for her, it was a very tough decision to make. As her relay team, we didn’t care one bit, we just wanted her healthy.
After that, I took a “me-day” from work and ventured to Santa Rosa!
It was really interesting to see how someone else demonstrates certain cooking techniques to others.
After the cooking demo, I visited the Savory Spice Shop and was in total spice heaven!
I bought some fresh herbs and spices to try at home.
My time spent in Santa Rosa was brief but lovely. I had never really been there before (that I can recall anyway) and I can’t wait to go back.
THEN, I had a friend who I met at Plant-Stock in 2015, text that she was headed my way and was wondering if she could crash and visit for a few days with us. I was beyond excited to see her!
Tara is a bundle of absolute positive energy. She is a joy to be around and my girls had a blast with her. Hopefully they didn’t scare her from having children in the future! 🙂 My kids were pretty wired when she was here and in rare form. Squeaker was on fire and quite hilarious.
Unfortunately, Tara picked the worst weekend to be here because we had our first ever major storm. A weekend full of rain and wind which doesn’t make for great hosting and sightseeing.
While she does run trails, Tara didn’t have storm weather appropriate running shoes with her so she wasn’t able to join Stonegate, Pigeon, Miss P, Pearls and I on our Sunday morning run in Auburn.
We were the only ones on the trail and we had one helluva time!
It was MUDDY and slippery but oh.so.much.fun!!!! We ran, we laughed and we all were in total complete heaven.
How often do you find a group of women like us who live to get muddy and soaking wet at the butt-crack of dawn on a Sunday? 🙂
So, as you can see, I haven’t been hiding under a rock. I’ve been out enjoying nature and all that October has brought with it thus far.
Like I said earlier, I hope to be able to share some of the projects that I have been working on lately with you or at least the status updates of those.
I am hosting another plant-based cooking demo later in the month for a small group of people who are interested in learning how to cook plant-based. I am excited to open my kitchen to them and to answer any questions they may have about the way that I cook.
Hopefully, down the road, maybe I can do more of these or even better, be invited to other people’s homes to show them how to use what they have to cook and eat plant-based.
Until then, I am enjoying some family time and some adventures.
So when sign ups came for the 2016 Headlands Trail Marathon we both jumped at the chance, not really thinking too much about our fitness level and mileage.
I have had a few longer runs under my belt recently, nothing more than 15 miles or so though. Stonegate however, had not really run much more than 7 since her 50 mile race back in April. Still, we went into this run looking for fun and adventure. Pure and simple. No expectations. No agenda.
We arrived in Mill Valley late afternoon on Friday. We bummed around town a bit checking out the shops and planning our post-race meal location for the next day. This town is absolutely adorable. We crashed at our friend Mill Valley’s place just as we had last year. We made her a plant-based dinner in exchange for two comfy beds to crash in pre-race and a nice shower post-race. We are super lucky to have her and she is one of THE nicest people I have ever met.
Saturday at 4 am my alarm started blaring and we began getting ready. We arrived at the race start pretty early. We sat in the car until race registration opened up and we could go get our bibs and use the restrooms.
The race start is steps, literally, from the ocean. The temps were breezy and cold but the salt water air was a refreshing change from the pollen and smoke filled air of the central valley.
When race time neared, we headed back down eager to get the day started. While milling about waiting for the pre-race meeting, we ran into Miss P and Pearls (named for her Pearl Izumi shoe obsession – which by the way, she’s super sad the shoe has been discontinued, but she’ll always have her nickname!).
While also hanging around, we noticed two people wearing shirts that said VEGAN in super large lettering. Of course I had to say something. I sort of walked over and said, “Awesome shirt! Woo Hoo, go vegan!” The conversation started and we all talked about being plant-based and learned that Vegan Skott, who was from Boston, was running the Headlands Hundred! Rachel, his crew, was assisting him. Super sweet people!
The race director jumped on top of the water fountain and gave us a little pre-race briefing. After that, we lined up at the start.
Different from last year, the marathon started at the same time as the 100, 50 and 75 mile races but instead of going right, we went left to tack on an extra mile to make our distance equal 26.2.
There seemed to be a lot more marathoners this year than last year. You spread out pretty easily though so there is no stepping on feet or anything but it does take a minute or two to get some space.
My legs felt a bit heavy from the start. They had not quite woken up yet and I hoped that the sensation would eventually fade otherwise it would be a super long day.
I knew it wouldn’t fade right away though because the start of this race is up hill. Like REALLY up hill, for quite a while with very little break. Like hands on hips hiking straight into the fog up hill.
The central Valley allergies were still present. My chest felt tight and my right eye started watering. Stonegate affectionately started calling it my “leaky eye.” It was annoying but we kept hiking.
A quarter of the way up, we noticed something moving on the side of the trail. None of the other runners seemed to see it. It was a coyote! It had been at the start and now, it had run up the hillside and was watching us runners run by. It blew me away that no one else seemed to notice, or maybe they didn’t care. We stopped and took photos. Of course. 🙂
Unlike last year, the fog never seemed to dissipate. Last year we were rewarded with some amazing views of the ocean from the top of the hill but not this year. This year, we saw fog and lots of it.
Still we ran the flats and hiked the up hills stopping to take goofy photos along the way.
The fog also didn’t deter us from taking photos on amazing cliffs overlooking the ocean.
When we reached the aid-station at Muir Beach, for some reason I glanced up and saw that someone had placed a plastic pig on top of this sign hanging from a lamp post.
Because I am a dork, I pointed it out to Stonegate and the whole aid-station heard and they all started laughing wondering why this plastic pig was just sitting there. I assumed it was kind of a weird treasure hunt game thing. 🙂 Only I would notice something as random as that.
After that aid-station we were back on the trails hiking back up hill. One of the things I told Vegan Skott before the race had started was that he might enjoy the many “eco-systems” that we’ll get to run thru throughout the day.
Maybe “eco-system” isn’t the right word but it is the best way to describe running from a cliff beach like setting into something that looks like it belongs in a rain forest!
These “rain-forest” sections are my absolute favorite. It brings a huge smile to our faces and often draws out an “Awe yea” or “Look at this!” from one of us.
From the rain-forest eco-system you are then thrust into an urban/city-like touristy eco-system as the trail has you running high above the freeway one minute and then down below the Golden Gate Bridge the next.
You run a paved road down until you are underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s kind of crazy. The aid-station is at the bottom and this year it was closer to the bridge. Stonegate and I stopped and added some water to our pack. This was about mile 20 here.
We got to see Vegan Skott arrive. Rachel, his crew had this mini-van that was full of plant-based food and she invited us to have anything inside that we wanted. She also offered to get us coffee to have at the finish. This girl is crazy sweet. We wished her well and told her we’d see her at the finish.
As we were making our way back up the hill, we looked to our left and did a double take. A bunch of people were gathered around this guy who appeared to have the largest gold chain and what looked like a gold roll of toilet paper hanging from it??!!! He was also rapping … about being under the Golden Gate Bridge. They were apparently shooting a rap video?! It was the craziest thing and totally unexpected!
We climbed back up the way we had come. Slower now, as it was uphill and there were still runners coming down. The trail leads you back across the windiest section of the race. Last year Stonegate almost lost her visor. This year she was prepared and she held it in her hand. The trail even has ropes on either side to keep you safe.
Back across the we went. Stonegate I think was starting to feel a bit off at this point. The girl hasn’t run more than 7 miles so I don’t blame her. I think her stomach had decided it was done. She battled some nausea the last few miles or so.
We would run and then stop to walk. She urged me to go on without and I wasn’t quite sure that was a good idea. This race wasn’t about time or performance but at the same time, sometimes when you are not feeling well, the best thing is to be left alone.
So I told her, “Let’s run some. If you need to stop again, I will just keep going. Don’t feel you have to rush to the finish or anything though.” So with about 2-ish miles to go, she stopped again and I continued on.
I have to say, those were the longest two miles ever. My legs had regained some energy somewhere along the run, I think back on the “rain-forest” trail so I had some pep in my step. I ran and cheered on all the ultra-runners who were coming back up to start their second loop of the race.
The trail along the ocean was pretty but never ending. You had the ocean to your left and a parking lot to your right. Lots of spectators were standing about which was nice as they cheered for you as you ran by.
Finally, I made the turn to the finish. There wasn’t much hoopla. A few claps from people but boy did it feel nice to be done! Stonegate finished not long after either. We’d made it, we finished the Headlands Marathon despite our lack of training.
We chatted with Miss P and Pearls for a bit. Said hi to Rachel and wished Vegan Skott well on the rest of his race. As it turns out, he didn’t finish the 100 but stopped at mile 50. Having only trained in Boston, that was one tough 100 to try and run. Kudos Skott!
Stonegate wanted to jet out of there as we had to get cleaned up, eat and hit the road so that we could be home for the last concert in the park with our families.
Overall, it was a great day. The cool temps were great compared to the warmer temperature last year but I did miss seeing the views just a bit.
I am super lucky to have Stonegate who is open to adventure on a moment’s notice. She dug deep on this one and finished. Not sure if this will be on our calendar for next year. We love visiting with Mill Valley but maybe we’ll pick a different race? Who knows, but no matter what, it’s always an adventure.
I can’t believe it is August already. To be honest, I am kind of happy that July is behind us. It has been one crazy summer.
June was full of swim meets, Squeaker’s birthday, Father’s Day and a wonderful visit from Poppy. July quickly arrived with a holiday weekend, more swim meets and a weekend spent in Tahoe for Pigeon and crewing her for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile race.
July ended with the Peanut and Squeaker’s Swim Championships which consists of a three day affair out at Sierra College.
The girls swam great but it was one hot long weekend. The Peanut qualified to swim in the comp freestyle event at the end of the day which was super exciting for her.
Overall the team took second and went 6 and 1 for the season. On the last day of the swim meet, the Peanut was asked to swim in the comp freestyle relay which was one of the later events in the day.
We were just hanging around watching all the other swimmers and being the klutz that I am, I took things to a whole new level.
I was walking down some concrete steps to the pool, took a second to glance at the time on my phone and missed about four large steps. BAM! Down and out just like that.
I didn’t have time to think much about it since we had the rest of the meet to get through so I just powered through the rest of the day as best I could. Fast forward to the next day and …
I found myself in a boot and on crutches. Ugh. Not going to lie, it was pretty painful.
The first few days was hard. Mentally and physically I was just down because I couldn’t do ANYTHING and I hate crutches.
Since I don’t do “resting” or “sitting” very well, I sought out a second opinion. Sorry Kaiser, you just need to employ more doctors who are hard core athletes and not text book readers.
My second opinion told me to ditch the boot, the crutches and the ice. I did all three. I did a few other things and did my best to rest and elevate when I had the chance. I’ve been working hard at strengthening and stabilizing the ankle too.
Within a week, I was walking almost normal again. Yes!
Today, I went for my first long(er) trail run. I started back easy this week walking some of the more technical downs on my morning runs and gauging how my ankle feels when I am done but today, today, I enjoyed a lovely trail run … right outside my door.
Things are still not 100% but my heart is happy and light again. Funny how just a short time away from something you love so much, can really just bring you down if you let it.
With school starting soon, Fall (my favorite season) will soon be upon us. Fall is my favorite time to run and I am looking forward to just running for enjoyment, laughter and fun. Too often we take things for granted until we can no longer do them.
I plan to cherish every moment out on the trails and you should too!