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anatomy of a race

The night before: Go to pre-race pasta feed with training group. Talk about leg pain. Eat pasta. Lots of it. Comment on how garlicky it is. Keep eating it even if you know you'll have dragon breath later. Talk about leg pain again. Go home. Obsess over leg pain. Pack race bag. Set alarm. Go to bed. Wake up 5 million times during the night to pee and worry about leg pain.

4:45 a.m., race day: Wake up. Realize that yes, that pasta was really garlicky. Test out leg. Pain. Feed cats, feed self, pee 5 million times. Down ibuprofen.

6 a.m.: Arrive at race. Talk about leg pain. Debate not running the race. Warm-up with training group. Realize that maybe leg pain is really not that bad.

6:30 a.m.: Glance at ever-lengthening port-a-potty line. Opt to pee behind a tree. Leg doesn't hurt while peeing.

6:45 a.m.: Spot friend in port-a-potty line. Tell friend the trees are a better option. Friend tells you what he has to do can't be done behind a tree.

7:05 a.m.: Race starts five minutes late because so many people got stuck in port-a-potty line.

Mile 1: Start slow. Very slow. Almost frustratingly slow. Leg pain. Debate dropping out. Try hard not to step on the shoes of the person in front of you. Complain silently that the running path is too narrow and there are too many people. Wonder where the hell the first mile marker is. Watch as many people pass you.

Mile 2-3: Leg starts to feel better as your muscles get warmer. Path is still crowded, though. Talk to running buddies to pass time. Wonder if people are listening to the conversation. Wonder if people find the conversation annoying. Complain out loud about the path, which seems to be slanted to the right, aggravating your leg and also making it hard to run in a straight line.

Mile 4-5: Walk through water station. Leg pain. Apparently, it is easier to run than it is to walk. Get passed by a runner blaring music. Wonder why she doesn't have headphones. Realize she's playing Daft Punk. Feel glad that she doesn't have headphones. Choke down two Shotbloks. After near-gag moment, decide not to have any more Shotbloks.

Mile 6: Tell running buddy you are feeling good and are going to pick up the pace. And even though you really do feel strong, the truth is, you really just want to run away from the guy behind you, who is having an annoying conversation that you have grown tired of listening to.

Mile 7-8: You are feeling good. You are flying. Your legs are weightless. Your arms are relaxed. The crowd is breaking up, and you are passing people. At the 8-mile marker, you look at your watch and realize this won't be a PR, but that's OK. Your goal now is negative splits, and you just want to go.

Mile 9: The course takes a weird loop and suddenly you feel like you are running in circles. This messes with your mind and makes you slow down a little. You run behind a guy who has a big bloodstain on the back of his shirt. You try to imagine what might have caused this. A big zit, perhaps? A peeling scab? Running is kind of gross, you think. Another guy with a goatee and headphones passes you, laughs maniacally. And you wonder, WTF?

Mile 10: You start picking people off. Bloody shirt guy? Check. Woman in black pants? Check. Woman in pink shirt? Check. You are focusing, pushing. Leg pain? What leg pain? When you hit the 10-mile marker, maniacal laughter guy laughs again. You begin to chase him down.

Mile 11: You catch up to someone you know. You pass her. You catch up to two other people you know. You pass them. You start to see the full marathoners head back out for the second half of their race. You encourage and applaud every marathoner you see. And secretly, you are thankful that you aren't one of them. At least not today.

Mile 12: You are running alongside maniacal laughter guy, who is also cheering for the marathoners. You think, Maybe he is not so maniacal. You start talking to him. He turns out to be very nice. You ask him what he was laughing at earlier. The answer? A very funny podcast. And then you pass him. When you look at your watch, you are running a 7:37 pace. Negative splits? In the bag.

Mile 13: Still flying past people. Your port-a-potty line friend has already finished. He sees you round the corner and enter the finish chute. He cheers. You yell out a thank-you and keep going. You hit the finish line at 2:08 and change. Not a PR, but much better than expected, especially with the leg.

Post-race: Give everyone in your training group a sweaty hug. Try to ignore the woman barfing in the trash can next to you. High-five maniacal laughter guy. Stretch out the leg. Yes, there is pain. Grab a bag of Pop Chips because they are free. Stop at the medical area to ice the leg. Meet the training group for breakfast. Eat poached eggs and hashbrowns and vegetarian sausage.

And feel grateful. So very, very grateful. And then go home and nap with two orange cats.

mobile food

At last -- Santa Rosa has a food truck! My co-worker Keely and I spotted Street Eatz leaving our office park about two weeks ago, and I immediately investigated. Turns out the truck has been stopping for lunch on Tuesdays just down the street from our building.

We tried it out this week. I ordered the summer soba noodle salad and was more than pleased. I can't wait to go back. Next time I'm going for the agedashi tofu. And I kind of want to taste the rosemary fries too. Tofu and fries -- now there's a combo!

And speaking of food trucks, I am dying to check out Off the Grid, a mobile food party. This week, the vendors will be gathering at Fort Mason in San Francisco. And of course, Hapa Ramen is on the list. (I swear, this is becoming an obsession!) I'm not sure I'll be able to make it down there this time around, but hopefully I can do it in the coming weeks.

crossing guard couture

This vest is how I know summer is almost over. (Which is sort of funny, since this week marked the first summer-like temperatures we've seen in the past three months -- triple digits yesterday! I was melting!)

The daylight hours are shrinking, and it was still dark out this morning when I started my run. I'm a safety kind of girl, so I pulled the day-glo out of the dresser.

Thankfully, I haven't had to use the headlamp yet, but I'm pretty sure that fashion statement isn't far away.

On another running-related note, it's race time again -- the Santa Rosa Half Marathon is Sunday. My plan was to run this as a training workout and tack an additional three miles on so I hit 16, but the course is flat and fast -- pretty much ideal for a PR attempt. I'm kind of tempted to try for sub-2, but I don't know if this is smart. I don't want to work so hard Sunday that I ruin the following weekend's long run, which will be an 18-miler -- the first long run of Monster Month. Eighteen still scares me. The last time I did that distance in training, I almost crapped my pants.

Also, my right quad and abductor are sore. (Of course, right? Should I be surprised at this point? It's the week before a race, and guess what? Random pain! Why does this always happen?) I actually cut my run short this morning because I was afraid of aggravating things.

Decisions, decisions. Guess we'll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there.


Honestly, the egg recall -- almost half a billion eggs, what many news outlets are calling the largest in recent history -- doesn't surprise me at all.

Especially when the eggs in question have all been traced to a man who has been cited for environmental violations, health and safety violations, employment discrimination (a severe understatement for the rape allegations that were brought against supervisors at his egg facilities) and animal cruelty. How many red flags have to be raised before federal regulating agencies realize something is seriously wrong here? How was this guy allowed to continue? How many people have to become seriously ill before anyone notices?

It baffles me. Our society is so obsessed with germs and dirt and cleanliness (has hand sanitizer ever been as widespread as it is today?), and yet we choose to overlook the conditions under which our food is produced.

rave run

Fourteen miles in Duncans Mills yesterday: A tree-lined run through the mist.

heartbreak, a definition

Overwhelming sorrow, grief or disappointment.

Or: When you arrive at the SF Street Food Festival and you are hungry and you have pushed your way through a throng of people (and even spotted your ex-boyfriend, which was awkward and uncomfortable) and you have waited and waited in a long, snaking line for the one and only Hapa Ramen -- basically The One Thing You Really Want to Eat at the Whole Festival -- and then the woman two people in front of you buys the last bowl of ramen.

So you have to settle for this somen salad instead.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a rebound with a happy ending: Spicy, salty, perfectly cooked noodles. Delicious. (And don't worry -- I ate around the pork. Still going strong on the veggie kick, and doing really well.)

looking forward to

... SF Street Food Fest today, where I hope to get my paws on some Hapa Ramen and Chairman Bao. And if the dashi and pork buns are all gone, then there's always Suzu (which is where I got the ramen in salt broth with pea shoots, pictured above), Dynamo Donut and Humphry Slocombe. That's what I love about the city -- so many opportunities for deliciousness.

... running with Neveia and Laura -- my two favorite running buddies -- in Duncans Mills tomorrow morning. It will be an early start -- 6:50 a.m.! -- but I can't wait to explore a new town and catch up with both of them. Nothing makes the miles go faster than good conversation. Also exciting: Post-run breakfast with the rest of the training group. Bring on the eggs and potatoes!

... getting to know the new winemaker with whom I'm now working. We went for coffee (her) and tea (me) at the Jimtown Store yesterday and spent almost two hours chatting and brainstorming ideas. I said: "Do you ever think about what it means to be a woman winemaker?" She said: "No. Not until people ask. But women are better at multi-tasking, and that's what you do in winemaking all the time." I hear you, sister! I like this lady so much already!

on dining alone

Sometimes I crave alone time.

And sometimes I crave a tamale.

It's wonderful when it all comes together: Today I curled up on the couch at Café Gratitude, caught up on my reading and enjoyed a vegan tamale with a side of black beans and cucumber salad, and a wheatgrass "cocktail" made with apple, ginger and lemon.

from burma to burritos

Had to include a photo of yesterday's Burma SuperStar feast. Mmmm -- yellow bean tofu and coconut rice! (Have I mentioned how much I've been missing San Francisco lately?)

Unfortunately, I didn't have any Burmese leftovers to chow on today for lunch. Instead, I tried a veggie burrito from El Patio (yes, I'm still searching for the best burrito in Sonoma County). It wasn't bad -- bursting at the seams with beans, guac and sour cream (total hangover food) -- but not earth-shattering. I think it needed a little more spice and maybe the tortilla needed more texture.

But the burrito hit the spot -- and it was apparently the perfect fuel because I had a kick-ass 8-mile tempo run tonight. It's been ages since I've actually had a strong, fast workout. I've been pushing through my long runs (Sunday's 16-miler through the Hidden Valley neighborhood of Santa Rosa was rough -- my legs felt like they were made of lead) and hitting the mileage, but not actually performing, if you know what I mean. And my speed work has been OK -- I've definitely improved, but in comparison to the folks I run with, I'm a turtle. So tonight's run lifted my spirits.

Also awesome: This article about all the gross things that can happen to you while running. (I totally relate.) And Kara Goucher's blog, which talks a lot about what it's like to be a pregnant runner. (Don't freak out -- no babies are planned here. I'm strictly a cats-not-kids kind of girl. But reading about running -- or in some cases, not running -- while pregnant is interesting.)

feeding the monster

How does this little monster keep the fun going the day after seeing the Mother Monster perform in all her glory (i.e., in this completely over-the-top yet absolutely fascinating gown with a mechanized headdress and wings that unfurled mid-song)?

By taking the day off and spending it with a very dear friend. By eating pastries for breakfast and buying a new hat in an impractical color. By dodging tourists while running across the Golden Gate Bridge. By enjoying a massive Burmese feast and then splurging on extra-large boxes of Japanese candy.

Yes, this little monster feels quite spoiled.

ice cream, self-flagellation

This ice cream is so good, it is making me rethink my life.

Ever since I ate it this afternoon, I have been wondering why on earth I left San Francisco.

Chickenland may be closer to wine country and my job. And it has a nice farmers market and a good yoga studio. And I live down the street from the track and a short run away from the trails. But all of this seems really trivial.

What matters in this moment is that there is no Humphry Slocombe here.

Now that I have tried the famed Secret Breakfast -- bourbon ice cream with cornflakes -- I will never be the same. And you would be forever changed, too, after eating this rich, milky vanilla with a hint of bourbon on the finish and cornflakes that somehow stay magically crunchy. It's the stuff of fairy tales.

Also good: The Thai Chili Lime sorbet (which tastes exactly how it sounds -- savory and tart all at once, with a bit of a kick to it, yet still ultimately refreshing) and the Vietnamese Coffee made with Blue Bottle coffee (this is what Coffee Ice Cream Heaven is like -- nothing I've ever had before comes near it, not even Mashti Malone's Turkish Coffee).

Now excuse me while I sit in the corner and wallow in regret.

c'est si bon!

If my work were a high school, then Chloe's would be the cafeteria -- so many of us go there for lunch! (In fact, I went twice this week!) The place is crazy popular, despite its bizarre location in the Landmark Executive Center, which also houses Sutter Medical and pretty much looks like a hospital, complete with nurses in scrubs.

I guess it's a good thing medical help is nearby; Chloe's is so delicious that someone could eat himself or herself into a serious food coma. The café has fabulous sandwiches (which you can get on a baguette or a croissant -- my favorite vegetarian option is the Mediterranean, and when I was eating meat, I would order the Willie Bird turkey), soup, quiche, crêpes and salads.

But perhaps the most tempting items are their desserts: Gorgeous French pastries that look as beautiful as they taste. Every time I walk past the bakery case, I find myself oohing and aahing over the tarts and éclairs and Napoleons.

Today we succumbed to the pistachio meringue. It was both airy and creamy at the same time -- kind of like a chocolate-dipped cloud. Happy Friday, indeed!

those crazy canadians

And their ketchup-flavored potato chips.

(Which I actually kind of like.)

on a positive note

I don't entirely understand this cat lipstick. It's extremely impractical (who has a mouth shaped like a cat's head?), but I think I kind of like it because of its weirdness. (And let's be honest here: It is a cat. I pretty much like anything that is a cat. I'm not a hard sell. Remember how I once bought a toilet seat cover for cats? Although maybe I shouldn't compare lipstick to toilets.)

In fact, it's quite possible that I may actually buy this cat lipstick as a treat to celebrate my knee. Yes, that's right: The knee is healing up!

I went for a difficult 14-mile trail run Sunday in Auburn with my friend Derrick, who recently completed his first ultramarathon. (I flew straight to the Sacramento area from Utah -- lots of running in new places over the last few days.) We ran part of the Western States 100 course, if that gives you any idea of how tough this run was. The hills were brutal, the heat was uncomfortable and it became apparent almost immediately that my trail-running skills leave much to be desired. While Derrick trotted along and chatted away, I was gasping for air and trying to avoid spraining my ankle, falling on my face, tripping on a rock, etc. (Dear Derrick: You are a very patient friend.)

My ankles and quads were sore afterward, but my knee didn't hurt.

Yesterday morning I met up with my track group for the first time in three weeks. We did 2 x 400, 2 x 800 and 2 x 1200 (I actually cut this short and did 1 x 1200 and 1 x 800 since I haven't done speed in awhile), with the first set at 10K pace and the second set at 5K pace. I was by far the slowest person -- to the point where I almost got lapped on the 1200. (My 5K pace was pretty much an all-out sprint because if I ran my real 5K pace, everyone would've gone home by the time I was done running.)

But my knee felt fine, even though my ego was a bit bruised. And when I went to my physical therapist yesterday, she said she didn't think I needed to come back for another appointment. She just gave me more ab exercises and some tips on increasing the efficiency of my gait and then sent me on my way.

What she didn't tell me, however, was if I would look best in the Claire de Lune or Over the Moon. Decisions, decisions!

still trying to adjust

It's been three days since I left Red Mountain, but I still feel like I'm in vacation withdrawal.

I can't stop thinking about that run through Snow Canyon. Talk about running with joy -- I felt like I was in the middle of a Runner's World Rave Run spread and was just so grateful for my feet and my legs and my lungs and my eyes -- the ability to be there and drink it all in.

And then there was the food: Salad twice a day -- a beautiful spread of several different types of lettuce, black bean hummus and regular hummus, sprouts, shredded carrots, shredded squash, cucumber discs, red beets, cottage cheese, cole slaw, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, prickly pear vinaigrette. And so many vegetarian options (that's right -- I've been sans meat for almost three weeks now, and I'm feeling great and clean and peaceful) -- one night I had tofu ceviche, and another night there was seitan with mushrooms and brown rice. And I probably ate more fruit last week than I've ever eaten in my whole life. (I'm a little odd -- I love veggies, but for some reason, I hardly ever eat fruit.)

How to cope with the return to real life? I'm eating a lot of salad. And plums. And I just made myself a whole wheat wrap (stuffed with lettuce and beans and mushrooms and brown rice and topped with cottage cheese). And I keep carrying around the stupid fluorescent green water bottle they gave me at the spa. (High temps were a very dry 105 degrees -- that bottle was like my best friend.)

And I'm toying with the idea of running the St. George Marathon next year.

Of course, right?


Spent a few days in St. George, Utah, last week, feeling very small and very young compared to the red rocks that tower over the landscape. (Can you believe all of this was underwater, millions of years ago? Our outdoor guide told us you can sometimes find seashells embedded in the canyon walls.)

I already miss the colors -- the deep rust thrust up against that never-ending blue.

über ding dong

Tonight: Dinner at Jackson's, where the idea of the Hostess chocolate cake hits a whole new level.