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Blogmas Day 19: Santa Run 2016

I feel like this past weekend was ALL the Christmas festivities.

On Friday night, I met up with my friend for drinks at a new local restaurant, and we got a nice view of the big town Christmas tree.

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Saturday, I went to a morning spin class, and then my mom and I got fancied up to go see a local production of The Nutcracker.

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I haven’t see The Nutcracker in many, many years, so it was nice to see! Plus, it helped me get in the holiday spirit!

Saturday night, my sister threw a little Christmas party, so I broke out my new favorite sweater:

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I’m absolutely in love with it. Sheep on a sweater? With a pun? HECK YES.

My sister always puts quite the food spread, and this year she did not disappoint. Marinated pears with all kinds of cheeses, butternut squash mac n cheese, eggnog, mulled wine, tofu skewers, gingerbread muffins with apple bourbon buttercream, and pumpkin spice cannoli.

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We played games and hung out with her cat. I actually trimmed his nails too, as the vet assistant present.

Sunday afternoon was the Santa Run, aka the main point of this post! I also wanted to share what I ate before the race, given it was an afternoon race. I feel like for me, afternoon races are awkward for eating.

For breakfast, I had a persimmon and a Flapjacked muffin.

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And then for lunch, I had roasted butternut squash and chicken soup with crackers.

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Then, I got on all the proper Santa Run attire.

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This was my FIFTH year doing this race. Isn’t that crazy? I did it the second year it was done. It was actually my first (and fastest ;/) 5k all those years ago. Crazy!

Throwback to Santa Run Round 1:

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Over the course of several Santa Runs, I’ve learned a thing or two. Like how freezing it is waiting for the race to start. I decided if I was going to be obnoxious and wear shorts (it’s my right as a Californian), then I could at least break out my Missouri jacket, scarf, and gloves.

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Note that that was not my coffee because #zerocaffeinetolerance.

As per usual, there were tons of Santas.

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Finally, it was time to slowly strip my layers and line up. It actually wasn’t TOO cold in the sun and sheltered from the wind. Perfect race conditions.

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It was quite the sea of Santas!

And then we were running. I wish I was capable of not being competitive with myself in these races, but it is what it is. I went in with the goal of not dying, but beating my pace for the Turkey Trot. And I’ve discovered how fantastic negative splits are.

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It’s amazing to me how much stronger a runner I’ve become lately, through only running 3 miles twice a week. Which is pretty much all my formerly broken foot is ok with. Even hill running. I’ve hardly done any hills lately, but I tackled a giant hill by my house and it felt shockingly easy. It’s amazing how much other areas of fitness transfer to running. So injury prone runners out there, keep that in mind! You don’t necessarily have to run a ton to improve!

Before I knew it, I was crossing the snowy finish line.

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I was happy with my pace!
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Then, I sipped on chocolate milk while waiting for my sister and her fiancé to finish.

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My sister hasn’t done this race before, but we were able to convince her and her fiancé to join this year. We actually didn’t run together though, because she started later.

I want to use this as a little opportunity to talk about something really important that most people don’t take seriously enough: concussions. My sister had a really, really severe concussion in high school. It caused over a year of bad symptoms, as well as permanent memory loss for parts of her childhood. In college, she got 2 more concussions, although much less severe. The instances probably wouldn’t have caused such an issue if she wasn’t already prone to concussions after the big one, but 3 is the magic number in terms of severity. For athletes (she was playing Quidditch), after 3 concussions you need to stop playing contact sports, or you risk serious damage. If any of you out there play contact sports or know people that do, you need to talk about this. Why am I bringing this up now? While parking, we had to park on the 4th floor and go up some spiral ramps. For a normal person, this is not big deal. But it left my sister so dizzy she couldn’t sit up for a while. It took her over an hour to recover enough to run, hence why she started late. Concussions are really serious, and need to be treated seriously.

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After the race, we all snacked on tamales from the food stands at Christmas in the Park, the big Christmas display in Downtown San Jose, where the race finishes. This was a major requirement for me, since I’m a big tamale fan.

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We walked through Christmas in the Park for a little bit.

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We had a little time to kill, and 20% off drinks at a local pub with our bibs, so we stopped for some post-race beers.

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The next big event was Festival of Lights, a big light display in a park. We had to buy a ticket to drive through ahead of time and it was quite the sight!

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After the lights, we went to an Ethiopian place in San Jose, Walia. The injera, spongy bread, is made with teff, which is gluten free. At Walia, the injera is normally made with teff and barley, but you can request 100% teff for an extra charge, which we did. I honestly couldn’t tell you what we ate, but we got two orders of the vegetarian combo, plus a chicken dish.

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It was such a fantastic weekend, and really got me into the holiday spirit! I think the Santa Run is one of my favorite holiday traditions, and I was so glad I was home to do it this year!

Have you ever done a holiday race?

First Race Post Stress Fracture

Hi friends! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I know I’m beat! It’s currently about 7:30 on Sunday night and my bed is calling me!

I got back into St. Louis Saturday night, just in time for an early wake up Sunday morning! On Sunday, I ran the GO! St. Louis Halloween race! When I first heard about this race, I really wanted to do it, and luckily somehow it fit my schedule, so I made it happen!

Thankfully the 5:05am alarm didn’t feel too terrible. (I also went to bed pretty early the night before…so. much. driving.)

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. Sadly I’ll be out of town on actual Halloween, but you know I was going to dress up for the race. And if you know me, you probably know I was of course a baseball player. Before the race I munched on some apple cinnamon cheerios. They’re really good! I’m digging cheerios pre-workout right now for something easy on my stomach.

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Because I was out of town Friday and Saturday, I had to do race morning pick up but that went perfectly smoothly! The race was set to start at 7am, and it was still pretty dark when I arrived downtown.

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Then it was time to line up! The starting line offered beautiful views of the sunrise over the arch.

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I decided to run with my phone this time just because I didn’t really want to check it, so I actually got some pictures along the course!

Going into this race, I had a moderate time goal but few expectations. It was my first race post-stress fracture and I was just so grateful and happy to be out there, healthy. Sitting in a car for 12+ hours the previous two days also gave my foot plenty of time to rest!

I haven’t really been pushing the pace or working on speed at all during my normal runs. I usually run between a 9:30-9:50 pace comfortably. I decided to step it up a little bit for the race, with a goal of hitting a pace under 9:00, which in the past has green pretty reasonable.

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I figured I’d go out around 9:00 for the first mile and see how things felt from there.

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One fun thing also about this race was that they had trick or treating stops along the course where runners could pick up candy!

Have I mentioned I love holiday races?

Before I knew it, I was kicking it up a little bit to the finish!

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I met my goal, but more importantly crossed the finish line with my feet feeling strong!

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And um, yes, I’ll take chocolate post-Halloween race!

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I don’t always drink beer and eat chocolate at 8am, but when I do it’s after running a race!

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What a great event! I hung around a bit to watch the last of the 5k finishers, and the super speedy first 10k finishers! It was a little chilly that morning (low 50s) but my long sleeve shirt is fleece lined 🙂

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Also, for some reason I thought this was too hilarious:

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When I returned home, I figured that maybe some real (read: not sugar or alcohol) food might be in order so I had a S’mores Flapjacked muffin. Still obsessed.

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I also face timed a little bit with my parents (and of course Yoyo. He likes to help with everything, including purring and sleeping on top of my arms as I type up this post.)

My morning ended up taking a little longer than planned, so I made a quick and easy lunch before heading out. It’s a little embarrassing how much I appreciate American cheese because “it’s not real cheese” and everyone hates on it. But it’s just so delicious on grilled cheese, or on a melty egg sandwich, like I had for lunch. This was a quick, lazy girl’s lunch. GF toast+microwaved egg whites+American cheese. Bam. I have the 2% (reduced fat) American cheese because I think it tends to hold up a little bit better and be a little more solid.

Since I didn’t drive enough the previous two days (LOL), I thought I’d spend my Sunday doing a little more driving, so I headed west to Purina Farms.

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I didn’t really know what Purina Farms was like or had to offer in terms of things to see, but I was hoping to catch some kind of cat or dog show. When I showed up, they informed me that the main part of the farms was closed until later that afternoon, but there was a competition going on that I could watch. Perfect!

Guys. this rocked my world. It was called UFli, and was a Flyball competition. I had literally zero idea what that was.

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I have found my calling (besides the vet stuff, obviously! My hobby calling.). This was basically a dog relay race. These animals were incredible athletes, and I just loved how serious and into it all the handlers (owners) were! Why have I never been involved in pet sports before?

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After a quick google search and watching for a while, as I understand it, Flyball is a relay race. In this event, there were 4 dogs per team. One dog would run and jump over 4 hurdles before grabbing a ball and turning around on a ramp, and running back over the hurdles. Once the dog passed the start line, the next dog would go.

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I have a new summer project. Sadly I’m not sure how receptive Chloe will be to this (she is an Aussie so she is somewhat built for agility!) but I have visions of one day training a dog to compete in this!

I grabbed a bag of Doritos for a snack. I could have gone with a healthier option, but I almost never eat chips so I figured, why not? I never have them.

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It’s really amazing how poor foods make you feel yucky. I didn’t have any specific issues, just felt a general ickiness. As someone who has been focused on nutrition for a long time, it’s a little hard for me to imagine how people can eat these foods regularly. I don’t mean that to sound like I’m the healthiest person eve,r or that I’m the food police, but it really is incredible how much people don’t realize how good they could be feeling.

On the way home, I hit up the grocery and found myself craving some serious veggies for dinner. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan by any means, but sometimes i just crave plant based meals. Dinner was a good one. I made a kale salad by massaging lime juice, olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper onto kale (yes, massaging makes a huge difference! It softens the kale a ton), and then tossed that with nutritional yeast. Part two was roasted sweet potato with copious amounts of ketchup. I have to say though, back in CA I almost always get yams not sweet potatoes (I haven’t seen them at the grocery here) and they’re far superior. You can’t beat that sweetness!

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I also had a probiotic drink.

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Despite my morning chocolate, I wasn’t ready to skip my evening dessert. I’m at the point where I really don’t have a problem nutritionally with having a post-dinner dessert. It’s not worth fighting the cravings, and I tend to make relatively healthy choices. Today’s dessert was the final serving of my pint of vanilla Halo Top (I can’t wait to find the new flavors!) with some GF snickerdoodles crumbled in, and a little whipped cream. These were the GF Aldi cookies, and they were probably my favorite cookie to put into ice cream thus far.

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I was hoping to have a more productive evening, but honestly after some early mornings and long days, I’m beat! I did manage to pack a sandwich for tomorrow (I had to do it tonight because I’m using frozen bread that has to thaw) and of course used that opportunity to snack on some sunflower seed butter and homemade raspberry jam on bread. That combo never gets old, I swear!

Overall, it was such a fun day, but I think I’ll sleep well tonight!

Have you ever watched a dog show or event?

DC/Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

It’s Monday night, and I recently returned from a whirlwind adventure to the East Coast. I got back Sunday night, and being home and going to classes all day made the experience even more surreal. But let’s back up, shall we?

I’ve talked about the fact I was doing the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but training details seemed to get lost in the hubbub of every day life. But training happened. I kind of made my own training plan, which included long runs of 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 miles.

So, let’s back up. On Monday, I started having horrible allergies. I get them the same week every year, so that was nothing new. But then Thursday morning I go to Crossfit and feel like I have zero energy. I napped the rest of the morning before subbing a noon spin class. After spin, I really felt like I was hit by a truck. Everything ached and I was chilled so I took my temperature, and sure enough, I had a fever. Great, the day before I was supposed to fly across the country to run 10 miles in 30 degree weather, I was sick.

Friday morning, I woke up feeling a tad better, but still with a fever. I took Tylenol and went to my one mandatory class (despite it being a big pet peeve of mine to go to class while sick), and then headed to the airport.

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I was feeling pretty decent with Tylenol, but I was worried about when it would wear off! Luckily, the hours on the plan ticked by since I had had my Tylenol, and the fever never came back! For the record, I was committed to not being stupid. If I had still felt lousy come race day, I planned to drop down to the 5k race.

Saturday morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel, it was time for our first event: cat cafe! When I found out that Georgetown now has a cat cafe a few months ago, I immediately booked an appointment for our trip. What’s super crazy is that the location is literally 2 blocks from where I lived in Georgetown a couple of summers ago, but it didn’t exist then!

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We signed wavers, and then came in to meet the kitties! The ones by the front windows were especially sweet.

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The upstairs kitties were more playful.

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For anyone interested, the way it works is you can reserve a 75 minute session for a small fee, and then have the option of ordering coffee and/or macarons upon arrival, which they fetch from offsite for you. We ended up not getting anything, since we were kind of distracted!

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Batman and I fell in love. He climbed happily into my lap, and was there for quite a while until it was time to go.

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All the kitties are from a local shelter and are available for adoption. I follow Crumbs and Whiskers on Instagram, so I’ll know when Batman finds a home!

Next on the agenda was Sweetgreen, because 1. I love it and 2. My parents had never been there! Crazy since I went about 1x/week that summer.

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I got the Beets Don’t Kale my Vibe, a seasonal salad. Beets, grilled chicken, goat cheese, wild rice, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.

After wandering around Georgetown a bit, we hopped on the Silver Line and headed out to Tyson’s Corner. My parents used to work in that area many years ago, and my great-grandpa once owned a grocery store out there. Plus, I wasn’t 100% health-wise and a movie sounded perfect.

As we entered the mall, we found a Shake Shack, and after I raved about their frozen custard, we of course had to stop. I had the vanilla custard with fudge sauce mixed in. SO delicious.

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Our movie of the day was Zootopia. I’m in a class that talks about animal behavior, and it was recommended that we see this movie because apparently a lot of the behavior portrayed in the movie is pretty accurate.

After the movie, which I liked!, it was dinner time. I was excited to try Le Pain Quotidien.

I started out with an interesting drink: warm lemon honey ginger. Although I was feeling better, the air there was pretty dry and I had zero voice so this helped a bit.

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For my main dish, I had a chicken and smoked mozzarella tartine on seedy, gluten free bread. It had sundried tomato spread and basil oil. Delicious! The bread was chew, dense, and delicious.

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At this point in the day, we had walked about 6 hours and my still sort of sick self was tired! We went to bed early, but I was too excited to fall asleep quickly!

Sidenote: I actually realized that I went to a Le Pain Quotidien in Alexandria that summer without making the connection!

So, Sunday. As a California girl, let me lay it out for you. Friday: 70 degrees when we landed at 11pm. Saturday: rainy, sort of chilly, but nice. Sunday: temperatures in the 30s, 20-30 mph wind with gusts up to 50 mph (they decided to not use any signs during the course due to this), wind chill in the 20s. Luckily weather.com is a thing, and I was prepared for this, but jeez. Seriously?

The good news was, I woke up Sunday morning feeling really good, and much better! I woke up at 5:30am, aka 2:30am CA time. I ate my Luna bar, got ready, and then it was time to begin the layering and head to the metro.

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I really think the amount of marshmallowing speaks to how much I am a CA girl. But I did feel properly dressed. My outfit consisted of long pants (only one layer though—legs were definitely going numb at the start), fleece-ish lined shirt (well, minus one sleeve because the shirt is faulty…it’s weird), leg warmers on my arms, a sweatshirt, and then my north face. Plus gloves, ear warmers, and hand warmers.

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And then we were there, freezing our butts off, with 10k people just as crazy as I was! Despite the temperatures, it was a beautiful morning. I anxiously awaiting the start, excited to get moving!

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Sadly, the cherry blossoms peaked a week early this year, so there weren’t many on the course. Here’s a lone one!

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At the start, I handed off my north face to my parents and got ready to go! It was weird because there was no flag indicating the start/finish line, so I didn’t know how close I was to the start!

And then we were off! I had a blast, I quickly stripped my arm warmers (which was interesting: they were under my sweatshirt so I did this really cute thing were I ran with my iPod in my teeth and yanked with all my might). It was surreal to be running here, in this place. Where I spent so many hours running. A place filled with history. I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time.

I was expecting crazy winds crossing the bridge into Arlington, but it wasn’t too bad. Plus, the sun was coming out and it was warming up! I tossed my sweatshirt (bought from the thrift store for this race) coming back across the bridge.

During the race, I felt really good. I’ve definitely gotten faster. I was determined not to push the pace, to stay comfortable and enjoy the scenery, but I still wore my watch to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid like come out at an 8:00 pace (which it turns out would not have been possible; it was super crowded). As I was running, it struck me how much faster and fitter I am now than a couple of summers ago when I was running these same roads. And I thought I was in good shape then! I feel like I’ve come really far since then.

I ran about a 9:30 pace the whole race (my old long run pace was 10:00), but unfortunately lost 7-8 minutes during a porta potty stop due to a huge line. Overall, there were not enough of them, but to add to that, about half of them had tipped over in the wind! Crazy!

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(Cherry Blossoms as seen from the car later in the day).

This race flew by. Seriously, 10 miles has never passed so quickly! I ran past the Washington Monument to the finish line with the biggest smile on my face. I love it here!

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After meeting up with my parents, we went back to the hotel to clean up before heading out to brunch! Being the exciting person I am, I chose the Georgetown Le Pain Quotidien. I get really nervous with my stomach when traveling, and I knew it was a same, solid, and delicious option. Being the even more exciting person I am, I got the same thing. Well, sort of. I got the ginger drink about because #30degrees, and then split the chicken and mozzarella and avocado toast with my mom.

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After eating, we walked around a bit, headed for the main event.

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CUPCAKES. Seriously, you can’t come to DC without getting some. My cupcake of choice was Baked and Wired, where I got the gluten free option. It was a chocolate cake with cherries folded into the icing, and subtle cherry frosting. In honor of cherry blossoms!

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We walked along the waterfront before heading out, then drove the sights a bit.

We were at the airport with plenty of time, and after the longest day ever, I made it home! In SFO on the way out to DC, I got an amazing GF snickerdoodle. We passed the same place on the way back in, and it was open, so of course I had to snag a chocolate chip GF cookie. SO amazing.

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Check out that thick, gooey cookie! And the sea salt. Ahh. I looked it up and it turns out the little market only exists in the SFO airport.

I was surprisingly doing pretty well energy-wise until I made it back to my dorm and totally crashed. Longest day ever, but what an amazing weekend.

Guadalupe River Run Round 3

It’s crazy to me that this is the third year I’ve done the Guadalupe River Run 5k. It’s crazy to me that I’ve been around long enough to do a lot of the races I’ve done so many times!

This year’s race was a blast. Apparently in 3 years I finally learned something about pacing! I’ve been doing my average runs faster lately, and with last Sunday’s 3 miler, I had a better idea of where I might be on the pace.

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I guess Luna bars are my current pre-run breakfast! I also had a few crackers because I didn’t think this would hold me over quite sufficiently.

I was a little worried about going South on Super Bowl Sunday, but traffic ended up being fine, and I arrived with plenty of time to pick up my bib and wait around.

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Also great was the fact that the weather was absolutely perfect. It had been really cold earlier in the week, but today we were treated to 70 degree temperatures. When I ran this race 2 years ago, it was cold and soggy.

Then and now:

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Also sidenote: my mom came to the race with me today and was my photographer. For the past 3 years or so, I’ve done a lot of similar races. My mom uses iPhoto streaming to get me the pictures. At this point, we have a number of labeled streams going. However, she doesn’t use the streams for what they are! These photos went in the Turkey stream, despite the fact that we have a Guadalupe River Stream. Present in the Guadalupe River stream is Easter from last year, despite the fact that we have an Easter stream. The Easter stream includes half marathon pictures. Photos from Napa over Thanksgiving? Logically they could be found in EITHER the Napa or the Turkey stream. But nope—they’re in the Wedding Dresses stream.

*Sigh*

The race actually started a bit later than I had thought, but it felt so nice to just be outside enjoying the beautiful weather!

Finally, it was go time.

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My original goal pace had been 8:20, but after hitting 8:22 last weekend without dying, I was shooting to maintain 8:15-8:20. I was very comfortable for the first half of the race, but I didn’t let myself speed up because I knew I would regret it.

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Overall, because I wasn’t totally dying for the most part, I was having a grand old time!

The race course was…interesting. It goes through a park, and weaves back around a lot. We cover some of the pieces of the trails multiple times, from different directions. I think there was a little mishap with the finish. Everyone finishing around me I think was directed unintentionally to cut a corner, so the race ended up being quite short for us!

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This is just a fun run, so I really couldn’t care less! Given I had my pace on my watch, I was able to calculate the time I would have gotten had the race been full length, and I’m happy with where I am! My pace was 27 sec/mile faster than last year, and I believe faster than I was 2 years ago, which was the closest I had gotten to PRing.

I won’t even show you my watch or time because it’s sort of comical, but my pace was 8:11. That was good enough for me to snag second place in my age group!

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Winning beer glass! Given everyone who finished around me had a short course (near the end they started figuring it out and sending people the longer distance), I think it’s still fair because we all ran a short course!

The best part of the race? Their slogan is “Earn your guacamole at the Guadalupe,” and this year, they actually passed out guac to runners post-race!

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So cute, and I love that idea! They also had Noosa, which they were quite generous with. My breakfasts are looking pretty exciting this week!

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After the race, we stopped at Panera for brunch/lunch like we have the past 2 years. I got a half Fuji Apple Chicken salad, my favorite!

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On the way home, we stopped at the Farmer’s Market because I wanted a Gluten Free baked good, but they were out of the only one I wasn’t allergic to—darn! Instead, we stopped in a Natural Foods store where I found some other good options 🙂

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After cleaning myself up, napping a bit, and doing some homework, I settled in to watch the Super Bowl with plenty of 5 layer dip and tortilla chips, and possibly some of the other gluten free goodies I picked out. I was rooting for the Panthers, but that wasn’t happening today!

Also—my favorite commercial was definitely the Honda commercial with sheep singing Queen AND an Aussie. <3 ruminants

What was your favorite commercial?

 

Now It’s Christmastime

It’s my first full week of break! The first part of this week has been spent doing not so fun things (I was on call for jury duty today), but this weekend was fun and definitely put my in the holiday spirit!

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Finals over=champagne.

Friday night I went to my dad’s company Christmas party. I’ve actually been to more of my dad’s company Christmas parties than anyone in the company!

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It was a lot of fun and the food was of course delicious! After appetizers and drinks, we had salads and then a family style meal.

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I apparently missed snagging a picture of the meal, but of course I captured the flourless chocolate cake for dessert!

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And then Sunday was the day of the Silicon Valley Santa Run! This is my 4th year doing it, and the race’s 5th year.

The race was at 3pm so eating beforehand was different. I had my typical yogurt bowl for breakfast.

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And then oatmeal plus some chicken for lunch. Plus a couple of these guys: AMAZING. I’m obsessed with glutino’s regular yogurt covered pretzels and the peppermint ones are just perfect.

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Then it was go time!

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The weather report was not too promising, with rain threatening at the start.

We also brought psycho puppy for her first race experience!

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It was maybe a bit cold.

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I goal time was under 27:00, which I knew was very doable given I had hit that pace during a longer run earlier in the week. Unfortunately, my garmin couldn’t find me! I was running blind. In multiple senses, as about 5 minutes into the race the sky just opened up. It started pouring like crazy, and given it was already so cold, I couldn’t feel my legs or hands! And then the rain started to hurt more as it hit my skin than it should have. I couldn’t tell if there was hail on the ground or not, but then I noticed there were little balls of ice all over my shirt. There was nothing I could do but push through it; it was definitely the crazier race I have ever done because the weather just felt insane. Meanwhile, I had no idea of my pace but I think I was around where I wanted to be. From the ice, I couldn’t feel most of my body! My garmin finally found me with just over a mile to go, and the mile it clocked was right where my pace needed to be.

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Unfortunately, I don’t know my actual finishing time. I’m 95% sure my official time was wrong because it clocked me crossing the start line 6 seconds after the gun start, and there’s no way that is possible. I would guess it was at least 30 seconds, as the start was super slow. It was an especially small race this year thanks to the weather, and since it was small and the start was slow I’m wondering if it picked me up too soon. Ah well. It was still fun!

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There’s definitely something to be said for shorter races, especially when braving the elements!

After the race, we bought a cheese tamale and walked through the Christmas display.

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Then it was time to go home. On the drive back I tried to take a selfie with Chloe but all she wanted to do was a) sleep or b)lick my face.

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Now I feel in the Christmas spirit! In other news, I just found out that I got into the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC in April! It’s a capped race, so there’s a lottery to get in. I missed it last year but I got in this year and am SO EXCITED!

How do you get into the holiday spirit?