Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Year in Books, 2016 Edition

An avid reader, I never thought to keep track of all the books I read each year. Goodreads held a “Reading Challenge” where you make a goal of how many books you will read in a year and then Goodreads will keep track. Being that I never counted my reads before, I had no idea where to begin. My goal that I initially set was to read 15 books for the year, but that number was quickly edited as I surpassed 15 within the first three months of 2016.  
I am happy to report that I did indeed read 35 books from cover to cover in 2016! Of course I read other things in addition, but not counting those editorials or journals. I am also not counting one book that I simply could not finish. Life is too short to be stuck reading a bad book.
I do enjoy a good fiction novel as I like the escape. And guilty as charged, I like reading YA series books. Oddly, there were no running books to add to that list, but I did keep up with the latest articles of Runner's World magazine, so that has to count for something.
Without further adieu, I present my reading list in order of absolutely LOVED to IT WAS JUST OKAY.
Ratings: 1-5--One bad, Five excellent. No five's. What can I say, I'm a tough critic.

My Uncle Oswald, Roald Dahl    4.5
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.k. Rowling     4.5
One Amazing Thing, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni     4
The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult     4
Timeline, Michael Crichton    4
Fluke, Christopher Moore     4
The Girl on a Train, Paula Hawkins    4
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson    4
Congo, Michael Crichton    4
Henna House, Nomi Eve    4
Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley    4
Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Series, Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,Hollow City, Library of Souls    4
Chaos Walking Series, Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters Of Men     4
Okei-san: The Girl from Wakamatsu, Joan Barsotti    4
A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness    4
Boy Tales of Childhood, Roald Dahl    3
Going Solo, Roald Dahl    3
Next, Michael Crichton    3
The Last of the Breed, Louis L’Amour    3
The Reader, Bernhard Schlink    3
Still Alice, Lisa Genova    3
Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier    3
In the Time of Butterflies, Julia Alvarez    3
Gringo Nightmare, Eric Volz      3
Rising Sun, Michael Crichton     3
An Object of Beauty, Steve Martin    3
Salem Falls, Jodi Picoult    3
Shoo Fly Pie, Tim Downs    3

Nose Down, Eyes Up, Merrill Markoe    2
Pirate Latitudes, Michael Crichton    2
I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron    2

I recently was asked what my all time favorite book is. I never can choose just one favorite of anything really. This was a tough question for me to answer. While I ponder the best read of my lifetime, I wonder, what is yours?


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Because life is made of moments and moments are remembered through experiences and personal interactions, I attended Bird Camp. A running retreat offered to Oiselle Volée team members.

When Paulette told me that she was organizing a bird camp for California right in the heart of The Forest of Nisene State Park in Aptos, there was no doubt in my mind that I was not going to miss it. I absolutely love running in Nisene, a forest surrounded by lush redwood trees and oaks, ferns, and perhaps a wood fairy or two. It is one of my favorite places to run!

Of course I was nervous before I got there. I only knew a few of the ladies out of 45 that would be attending. My anxieties of fitting in stems back from those good ol’ high school days. Luckily though, I am not  stuck in a time warp as all the women at birdcamp were super nice and welcoming.

The schedule was fully packed and my energetic nature wouldn’t have it any other way. What do runners do when they get together? Well, run of course!
And, yoga!
And have happy hour with Sufferfest Beer.
And drool over the Oiselle Fall line.
And listen to amazing women share their stories of training and victories.
And talk about running, and racing, and everything in between.
We might have had a chilly beach day where we warmed up at a brewery after,
Love this photo of the bird on the beach that I took. #fitting
and we might have eaten a few too many s’mores.
We also participated in an awesome women’s race Love to Move that was held at Nisene the very same weekend. It was a wonderful race to be apart of and a fun way to spend the morning. How can it not be when there were mimosas at the finish line!

If had to put a theme to the extended weekend it would be “ME TOO!” Just when I thought I was the only one feeling a certain way about a certain topic and voiced these certain feelings, I was happy to discover that there were others chiming in feeling the exact same way. As the old saying goes right? Birds of a feather indeed!

Needless to say that by the end of camp, I was exhausted. I left there happy and content. I did go through a bit of withdrawals after I returned home. Wouldn’t you after making 45 new and wonderful friends? Attending BirdCamp was exactly what I needed to refuel my love of running. I got inspired and motivated to be a better version of myself as well as focus on goals (running and personal). I cherish all the relationships (new and old) that I have built through the running community!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

All By Myself

As an only child, I am use to doing things by myself. While I am a social creature, I enjoy hanging out with just me...Well, and my dog! The way I see it, I am not going to let an opportunity pass me by if I can’t find anyone to join me. When hiking, I always make certain to let someone know where I am, what path I am going to take, and when I return. This of course is common sense as anything can happen.

While I often do things on my own, I remember awhile back in my early 20’s attempting to do activities on my own and feeling quite nervous about it. I will never forget the first time I attempted to go to the movies by myself. I was anxious, but wanted to try. I figured, if I had a horrible time, I would never, ever go to the movies alone again. As I entered the theater, I took  a deep breath and went for the plunge, purchased popcorn (because I can’t resist movie theater popcorn), and took a seat. This particular theater was small, and as the previews started I settled in for the next hour and a half.  At the end of the movie, I felt proud for accomplishing this achievement. Sure, it wasn’t much, but at that time in my life, it was a big deal. Walking out of the theater, I was relishing in the fact that I had watched a movie in the theater all by my lonesome when a guy came up to me and said “excuse me, I was watching you in the theater and the way you eat your popcorn, is very strange.”
Talk about making a person feel self conscious! I am not certain if the guy was using a poorly executed pick-up line or what his deal was, but my little triumph quickly was taken away from me. It was some years later that I mustered the courage and went back to the theater alone, and the next time(s) I did, happy to report were a success (and yes, I still bought and ate the popcorn)!

A couple of weekends past, I went camping on my own for the first time. Friends came out and met me for a fun-filled day, but the evening was mine and mine alone. I looked forward to the solitude of hanging out in the wilderness with my dog, dining on a gourmet meal of Cassolette, and reading my book.
Hike to Grouse Lake
As the evening started to roll in, I began the process of preparing my meal. I had brought with me a propane camping stove to cook on. I tightened the knob on the propane and immediately that propane smell started wafting from the stove. The stove was off. Scratching my head, I unscrewed the propane, checked the valve and then screwed it back in only to have my stove go up in flames. Startled, I gave a yelp and stood there shocked, staring at the flamed induced stove. Time seemed to move in slow motion until I snapped out of my flame like trance and unscrewed the propane all while being careful not to get burned in the process. I ended up cooking my meal on the fire which in my opinion, only adds to the romance of camping.

This make not look like much in the orange bowl, but it was delicious, thanks to Allez!
I am still unclear to what happened with my stove, but at least I am alive to tell the tale. And unlike the movie theater story above, I won’t let a little ol’ stove malfunction stop me from getting outside, camping, and enjoying my own company!

Wright's Lake

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Get Outside

It has been two months since my last blog post and I’m okay with that. I spend my workdays behind a computer thinking up creative jargon or performing mundane tasks. While I love what I do, the very last thing I want to do in my personal time is sit at a computer.

So what have I been doing instead? Exploring the great outdoors! And the best part, I don’t have to travel far to experience all the beauty that mother nature has to offer.

Highlights? Why I thought you would never ask!

Friends Paulette and Shannon came out to visit and I planned a trail run out at the Cronin Ranch Area that included post run hydration and a river soak. I might have even dragged them out to get glitter tattoos later in the day!


4th of July weekend I went camping at one of my favorite places and went exploring the surrounding area. I love where I live and feel so lucky to be able to experience all the beauty not too far from my own backyard.

Lake Margaret is a 2.5 mile jike (jog/hike) to the lake (5 miles total). Plenty of streams and bodies of water along the way make this trek dog friendly and fun!

The Wrights Lake area is a trail and lake mecca. Wrights Lake is stunning don’t get wrong, but there are also many trails that will lead you to other stunning lakes! How fun it is to jike to a distant lake destination, cool off with a dip in the lake, and then jike back. So beautiful! So fun! So Amazing!

When in the forest or let's face it any area I have traveled many times over again, I am directional dysfunctional. My little dog Penny the Pup, my running and hiking companion is my little GPS. When I start to stray off the beaten path, which I tend to do a lot, Penny the Pup is there to guide me in the right direction! Nothing better than exploring with my little dog!

Speaking of Penny, I recently invested in an ISUP. I love to Stand Up Paddle and I finally gave in and invested in a water toy! Best investment ever! At first, I was worried about Penny while I am playing on the ISUP. She is not too crazy about the water and does not care to swim, or kayak. She does like to wade in the water and chase the fish and waves. Penny refused to get any where near the ISUP and would try to follow me on the bank while I was gliding on the lake. It worked for awhile until she could not go no further on the bank. She moaned and wined. I ended up turning the ISUP around and as I got back to the bank, she jumped right on. And now, ladies and gentleman, my little dog is a SUP boarder! I couldn’t be happier. It just  melts my heart that she SUP’s with me. It might not be her favorite thing ever (like running is), but she does it for me! And I love it because that just means I can spend more time with my little dog!

Those are just a few of my summer highlights! Short and sweet! Future posts will include detailed trail information on my adventures. But, given my track record, you might have a bit of wait! Stay tuned and in the meantime, get off the computer and get outside!

Monday, May 16, 2016


I had the honor of serving as a race ambassador for the inaugural Pony Express Marathon (#PEM2016) that took place in Sacramento.  

Leading up to the event, I ran the Folsom Lake Trail Half Marathon a week before #PEM2016 organized by Inside Trail Racing as a training run. This race is near and dear to my heart as I ran my first and only 50k and return back each year after to volunteer or run the shorter race distances offered. Here is my 10k recap.
The Pony Express Marathon was my 5th half marathon race that I ran within six weeks, and my first road race half of the year. The race was very well organized and a great event to be apart of. At the expo, I got my  bib, race shirt, and received a delicious bottle of beer from Yolo Brewing Company. What an awesome surprise!

I am in the program! Fancy!
The race started and finished at the Capitol Mall in Sacramento. I was a bit shocked to discover that the race offered no bag check, but I made sure to park as close to the finish line as possible. The course was flat and for those running the marathon, a Boston qualifier. I loved running through the different areas of Sacramento with views of downtown, the river, and quaint little neighborhoods. Aide stations were abundant and it was wonderful to have them easily accessible every couple of miles. I ran the race at a comfortable pace and finished in 2:14.
The finishing time is what I seem to be averaging now at road races and am certainly okay with that for right now…

It was so good to see some old friends and meet a couple of new ones. A great race weekend, I certainly recommend the Pony Express Marathon to add to your race calendar for next year (April 30, 2017).

At the Tweet-up with Wes

A few of the #PEM2016 Ambassadors
Patty, Laura and I at the start
Found this photo floating around the internets. I like it! Thank you to whoever took it!
I asked to Albert to pose with his medal since I stopped collecting race bling. It is pretty!
Finish line with Jessica

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hotshot Half Part Deux

It was in the first three miles of the Hotshot Half Marathon that everything fell to pieces. A race that I had been looking forward to, but undertrained for, a race that I just couldn’t wait to run. And it was in that first three miles of this wonderful race that I contemplated a DNF.
It was not the weather that clouded my thoughts, though there was a light rain.

It was not the fact that I was well overdressed, it was quite muggy you see, and while I prepared for rain, three layers did seem quite extreme.

It was not the lack of friendly faces on the course as my good friend Shannon was up ahead within reach and there were plenty beyond.

While it was none of the above, it was due to the terrible, awful, no good cramps I experienced. And I’m not talking leg cramps. I stopped at an aid station on the course and asked for ibuprofen. The very nice lady informed me they did not have such, but offered me Tylenol. I asked if it worked for cramps and she said no. She then proceeded to dig into the endless first aid kit and offered me a white packet that nearly had “cramps”written on the label. Inside, were two pure white tablets that I popped in my mouth with no hesitation. I was desperate. In hindsight, perhaps taking a drug unknown was not the smartest idea, but I’d like to think those white tabs of wonder helped. Anything would have been better than taking ibuprofen of course. They could have been salt tabs for all I knew! And, with that, on I went. I felt better. My spirits lifted and I did not DNF but ran till the end. I even managed to get a course PR by four minutes! Go me (pats on back)!
The start of the race. Penny the Pup was not too happy about hanging on the sidelines.
2015 Pint Glass meet 2016 Coffee Mug. I love and use them both daily!
After digesting mystery medicine, I am all smiles!
I love this race. I loved it last year when I participated in the inaugural (click the link for a recap down memory lane), and I think I might even love it a little more the second year! The course is breathtaking, and the organization is stellar. Not only does the race organizers sweep the trail beforehand, but there are people cheering for you all throughout the trail. Yes, cheering on the actual trail! How awesome is that! The proceeds go towards a great cause! And, you certainly can’t beat the after party. Camping is included in registration and if you are a single gal (which I am not, but just saying) there is plenty of hotshot eye candy to go around.
Time for the perfect selfie!
Shannon and I with a swoon worthy background
Oh, you know, just a blurry picture of UMM rolling a log down the road of life.

Hotshot Half Marathon, I think I love you! But I want to know for sure, so I just might have to come back and run you for a third time. After all, third time is the charm! Until next year!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

At a Slackers Pace

I signed up for the 2nd annual Hotshot Half because I absolutely love this race and am very much looking forward to a weekend full of camping, running, friends, and celebrating life. A few weeks ago it occurred to me that I hadn’t really been training for this particular race.
Of course I am still running between 15 - 20 miles a week, but it’s not really training as I run whatever I feel like doing that day. No training schedules, no plans, not even weekly long runs out on the trails (though I have been hitting the trails, so that is something).
Did I mention that the Hotshot Half is in this Saturday, April 9, 2016! In true slacker fashion, I signed up and ran the Knickerbocker Canyon Half Marathon organized by Inside Trails on March 26. It seemed a good idea at the time and it all turned out great, really. I mean, I was pretty sore after the fact as the race was no joke. In actuality, the course is tougher than the Hotshot Half course. But, it was a beautiful spring day out on the trails in Auburn, and thanks to the K2 Hill and that horrible climb at the end, my butt has never looked so good! It took me three hours and thirty one minutes to complete the half and happy to report that I was smiling every mile of the way...Well, er, except for that last little bit with the bonus climb added in.
It was good to be out there though! I cleared my mind, stopped and smelled the flowers, chased butterflies, and took some swoon worthy pictures of cascading water.

Now that I crammed my training into the last few weeks, do you think I am ready for the Hotshot Half? Not so much, but I will enjoy the moment of being out there experiencing the beauty of the Tahoe National forest. I will be sure to report back!