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beer belly

The most beer I've had in awhile: Yesterday, there was the Lagunitas Beer Sanctuary (which has made some changes to its rules, according to the sign that was posted out front). Today there was Occidental's Barley and Hops, a great little brew pub that had Turbodog on tap and killer fries topped with bacon and cheddar.

I feel very full. And I could use a long, long nap.

too cute

This makes me want kittens.

on missed workouts

It's only Week 2 of marathon training, and already I have missed two workouts -- the first because we were out of town over the weekend at a wedding in Atwater (see the tractor/ice bucket photo above) and it was too hot to run there and we didn't get home in time to run here, and the second because I drank too much coffee today (so stupid of me -- I know I am horrible with caffeine and I shouldn't have done that) and was sick to my stomach and so dizzy I had to take a motion sickness pill and lie on the couch. (Seriously, I am barely functioning right now.)

It's hard not to feel guilty about this. I constantly have to remind myself it's not the end of the world: Missing a workout here or there doesn't mean I'm going to fail miserably in Portland.

Some things I am focusing on to assuage the guilt:

  1. Rest is part of training.
  2. It's still early in the training cycle.
  3. I haven't missed any long runs, which are key to marathon preparation.
  4. It's better to be undertrained than overtrained, since overtraining puts you at risk of injury, which results in even more missed workouts.
  5. And perhaps most important of all: Lying here in bed right now, trying not to move my head, is much better and less nightmarish than forcing myself to run and possibly vomiting or passing out in the street somewhere.

eating it up, writing it down

What will this mattar paneer -- which Todd made from scratch because he knows peas-and-cheese is my favorite Indian dish -- do to tomorrow's five-mile run?

And other such questions are the reason I started a food journal. I figure keeping track of everything I eat and noting how my diet affects my workouts will be key as I prepare for Portland. Last year, I definitely encountered some GI issues while training, and I don't want that to happen again.

Today is only the second day of journal-keeping, and I've already discovered some bad habits. First of all, I don't drink nearly enough water as I think I do. In fact, yesterday, I only had a measly three glasses. Also, I've realized I let a lot of time pass between meals, so by the time I sit down to eat, I'm absolutely ravenous and end up overeating. And I definitely need to eat more whole foods -- nuts, fruit, grains -- and fewer processed foods.

Lots to work on in the next 18 weeks before race day!

why I run

Training for Portland started today with a little cross-training at the gym -- lifted weights, did some lunges and squats, worked on abs. I'm following Hal Higdon's Intermediate I program. I had so much success with his half marathon plan, and I'm hoping for the same with the full 26.2.

Though part of me is shocked by how quickly training time came around again, another part of me feels it couldn't have come soon enough. I've basically spent the past two weeks stuffing my face non-stop. In fact, I believe I ate tempura three times over the course of seven days. I've also been on this insane ramen kick -- I've had that three times in the past two weeks, and one of those times also involved Spam. Last Thursday, I discovered La Trappe and practically dove headfirst into a bath of Belgian beer, frites (with aioli dipping sauces, of course), mussels and some kind of crazy sausage dish that looked like a sea of cream buoying several wiener-shaped barges.

And then there was this weekend. We went to San Diego to visit friends. It was a short trip -- flew down Saturday and flew back Sunday. And because our time was so limited, I felt like I had to eat non-stop in order to experience as much of San Diego's food as possible. The second we got off the plane, we were eating. Started off with eggs in Little Italy and then walked down the block to Extraordinary Desserts (seriously, so worthy of the name -- check out the caramelized chocolate lava bun, above -- that's really what it looked like on our table -- not a photo pulled from the Web site). Then there was an Allagash flight at the Blind Lady, a Mexican chocolate popsicle at Viva Pops, housemade tofu (as well as more ramen) at Tao, more beer, late-night biscuits and gravy, and a bluegrass brunch complete with egg-and-macaroni-and-cheese bake at Urban Solace.

I am so, so glad to be running again!


Some people get excited over Brad Pitt.

For me, it's all about Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

I met him today at a wine event in Napa. He was serving Laughing Buns, an open-faced pork bun stuffed with pork belly. He was friendly and charming and seemed genuinely happy to meet people and share his food.

I can't wait until his new restaurant, Morimoto Napa, opens next month.

job perks

Went to a big wine party at Hotel Healdsburg last night.

Highlights included:

  1. A Charlie Palmer sighting (Dry Creek Kitchen provided all of the food)
  2. A son-of-Charlie-Palmer sighting (he's the kid standing just behind the lamp in the photo above -- he looked like he was maybe all of 11 years old, and he was dressed in chef whites and was dishing out pulled pork to the guests)
  3. The Papapietro Perry 2005 Pommard Clones Pinot Noir
  4. A sip of 2007 Meursault
  5. A kobe beef slider with a hint of truffle
  6. Free cigars
  7. And a pig on a spit

long-awaited race report

Turns out I did even better at the Windsor Green Half Marathon than I thought. Official time was 2:00:19 – a new PR by eight minutes and 44 seconds.

This kind of makes me feel like a champion, especially since I’ve always thought of myself as the opposite of athletic. Also, it makes me want to go for a sub-2 in the fall, once the big 26.2 is done. That’s the thing about running: It’s completely addictive, and no matter how fast you get, you always want to go faster.

PR was my goal for Windsor. I had viewed Avenue of the Giants as a “practice” half, with Windsor as the true test.

The week leading up to race day was tough. My body was tired and ready to finish the training cycle. (Why do random pains always seem to magically appear during taper?) And this was my fourth race weekend in a row (yes, I am crazy), so I was worried I might not have any juice left. Also, my longest run since Avenue of the Giants, which was three weeks prior to Windsor, was only eight miles. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My nerves got worse at packet pick-up. The wind was gusting -- almost Wizard of Oz style. I can deal with rain and cold temperatures, but running into a headwind is like running in place, and it’s far from fun.

Because of the weather, I couldn’t figure out what to wear. Normally, I lay everything out the night before. But this time around, I just randomly chose an outfit. And I went with something I’ve never worn before in a race (by the way, you should never do this – it’s like asking for horrible things to happen, such as chafing or blisters – this was very stupid of me): Long sleeves and a running skirt. I also painted my nails black because I thought this would somehow make me tougher. (Don’t laugh.)

On race morning, I went to my friend Nick’s house so I could use real plumbing instead of a port-a-potty. He was running the 10K, so we walked to the start together. I found Dana and Ciara and lined up with them. They are much faster than I am – finished Avenue of the Giants in 2:01 without much sleep or training – and they were planning to go for a sub-2 this time around. I figured I’d start with them, hang for a bit and then drop off when they got to be too much for me.

We took off. And I mean took off. We hit the three-mile mark in 26 minutes – about an 8:40 pace. The whole time I was thinking, Who knew I had it in me? But I also started to worry about burning out, so I slowed down around the four-mile mark and let the girls go ahead. I kept them in my line of sight until we got to a major climb right before the six-mile mark. I saw Ciara again at the aid station at the top of the hill, paused briefly for water and started running again. For some reason, I thought Dana was ahead of me, but it turned out later that I had passed them at the station and somehow managed to stay ahead. (Again: Who knew I had it in me?)

The race soon became a mental game. I tend to slow down at Mile 8, and a feeling of despair (for lack of a better word) will creep in. This is the moment I start to doubt myself – question my legs, my speed, even whether I really like running in the first place. This is also where I start to pay attention to the people passing me (thus feeding that feeling of despair). And during this race, at this very moment, that included my ultimate nemesis: The Guy Who Runs in Orange Crocs. (I used to see this guy during my Fleet Feet training runs all the time last summer. He would fly past me in his hideous shoes, and it drove me insane, but he was always faster.)

To re-focus, I began talking to myself, saying things like “I don’t have to run, I get to” and “I am like light in the trees” (don’t ask – it worked and that’s what matters). I also started conversations with other runners and met a very nice woman named Julie who shares my love for Lunarglides. We ran together for a bit and cheered each other on.

Mile 10 was the toughest part of the race. I really was slowing down (not just mentally). At one point, I looked at my Garmin, and it said I was running an 11:20 pace. Totally unacceptable! So I focused on what I learned in my ChiRunning class, leaned into the run and took smaller, quicker steps to pick up speed while still conserving energy. This course was full of rolling hills, and I wanted to finish strong. The plan worked.

When I turned onto Old Redwood Highway and saw the 11-mile mark, I knew I was in the home stretch. I realized I had a lot of energy left, so I upped the pace and started to pick people off. I’d choose someone in front of me, pass them and then choose someone else. A woman on a bike rode up next to me and told me I was on track to finish in under two hours, and that made me really start pushing.

That’s when I saw him: The Guy Who Runs in Orange Crocs. He had definitely slowed down, and his big, bright, plastic-clad feet were missing some pep. (That is what you get for running in Crocs, hippie man. Just saying.) I picked him off, no problem. And I cannot even begin to tell you how happy this made me. Seriously, folks: Sheer joy.

I didn’t end up hitting the sub-2 mark after all, but the feeling I had as I sprinted down the finish chute and saw the double zeroes was nothing short of elation. A two-hour half. Who would’ve thought?

(P.S. Doesn’t it look like I'm either doing the hula or offering myself as a sacrifice to the gods as I cross the finish line? Yikes!)