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zombie runners

Some thoughts on running a half marathon as a zombie prom queen:

As evidenced above, only those who are certifiably nuts will wake up at 3:30 a.m. to voluntarily plaster their faces with a thick green paste called "Rotting Flesh" to take their running group's team theme to a whole new level. Everyone else will just wear a crown.

Standing on the side of the road pre-race, simultaneously squirting and smearing your running buddy (a.k.a. the zombie prom king) with fake blood is strangely satisfying.

It is possible to be too bloody to wear your Garmin. This is OK; as a zombie prom queen, you are already wearing a gut-spattered corsage on your wrist anyway. Just remind yourself to quit checking it -- fake roses don't keep track of splits.

Doing shots of Johnny Walker Black out of an Ironman-branded gel holder at the starting line (yes, before the sun even comes up) really warms you up for a race.

Chasing your non-zombie running friends while yelling "Braaaaaaaaiiiiiiins!" makes for a good show. And there's nothing like getting other people to laugh in the middle of a half marathon.

Johnny Walker Black will result in a pit-stop. Be grateful that said race is in wine country during harvest, so port-a-potties for vineyard workers are abundant. Be even more grateful when, by sheer luck, you find one that has just been cleaned and has no line outside.

A tiara is tough to wear while running, but is surprisingly light and easy to carry by hand -- sort of like a relay baton, only with more bling. And maybe also a few drops of blood.

Despite the fact that you did not train for this race, you are wearing a ridiculous outfit, your rotting nose is sweating off, you have a good buzz for the first four miles and you have to make two bathroom stops (one for yourself, one for the king), it is still possible to finish in a respectable 2:06:04.

The only bummer: We didn't win the costume contest. That went to the crazies who ran as Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat.

the return to running

I'm feeling a little beat up today ...

Don't worry –- this wasn't a clipless pedal accident. It's Halloween here in the office, and the PR department went with a medical theme. I'm a patient.

And the special effects makeup doesn't stop there. Tomorrow I'm running the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon in full costume. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but let's just say a lot of liquid latex is involved. Fingers crossed my face stays on for all 13.1 miles.

Speaking of races, remember the other Healdsburg half a few weeks ago? And remember how I wasn't even sure I was going to do it?

Somehow I ended up with this:

This finisher's medal means the Healdsburg Half was my 15th half marathon.

And I had thought it was going to be a DNS. That changed about 10 minutes before the start. I was wearing my running clothes and I picked up my bib, so I figured I'd go for it because I needed a workout anyway. My plan was to run seven miles and then drop out.

Mile 1 9:43
Mile 2 9:09

My hip flexor was slightly achey at first, but as I kept moving, the pain faded. And the more I ran, the more it hit me: It just feels so freaking good to be running again.

Mile 3 9:03
Mile 4 9:17

I was running with my friend and neither of us were taking the race very seriously. We were chatting, complimenting people on their socks (pink argyles!) and basically just having fun.

Mile 5 9:25

And then my friend announced he had to make a pit-stop. ASAP.

Mile 6 13:26

Nice split, huh? Clearly this was port-a-potty time. While I was waiting for my friend, I saw a few other people I knew. Their comments: "Hey, we thought you weren't going to be running today!" My response: "Oh, I'm just going to drop out after one more mile."

Mile 7 9:15

And I was going to stop. I swear. But there was nowhere to go –- no aid station, nothing. So I just kept walking. I figured I would walk until I found a suitable place to wait for someone to pick me up. But my friend stuck with me, and we just kept chatting away that before we knew it, three miles had gone by.

Mile 8 14:47
Mile 9 16:31
Mile 10 15:27

At this point my friend finally took off to run in. And even though I hadn't planned it, I started running too, because I didn't want to get left out on the course, walking and walking forever. I felt a little bad because I started passing a lot of people who looked like they were struggling, while I shockingly felt just fine.

Mile 11 9:27
Mile 12 9:16
Mile 13 9:41 (slowed down to eat pretzels at an aid station)
.25 mi at 8:01 pace

And the finish! Notice how I'm laughing and moving toward the sideline because the race announcer –- also a friend of mine –- cracked me up with a little aside as I crossed the line. (Also notice the horrible time on the clock –- new personal worst!)

Official/chip: 13.1 miles at 2:26:23 (three minutes slower than my worst time – not bad, considering how much I was walking) / Garmin: 13.25 miles at 2:26:25

So yes, with that impromptu half marathon, I am running again. And I'm really excited about tomorrow's race, which I'm pretty much just considering a long fun run. With fake blood. Hint, hint.

the love affair continues

Remember this?

Spring Hill Road has always been a favorite for CIM training (perhaps more painfully at first, more lovingly later).

And now it's a great spot for riding. I got a small group of friends together yesterday and did a 30-mile loop through Chileno Valley and back along Spring Hill. (And yes, the hills are just as bad -- if not slightly worse -- on a bike. At one point, I really wanted to get off and walk, but I was worried that if I stopped, I'd topple over into the road and get hit by a car. So I just kept pedaling. And grunting. And pedaling.)

This was my first ride with the new pedals. I'd been practicing clipping in and out in a doorway ...

... and falling into the doorjamb due to a bad habit of clipping out with one foot and leaning the opposite direction.

So naturally, I was extremely nervous to tackle 30 "intermediate level" miles.

Surprisingly, it went really well. The most challenging thing was clipping in. I had no problem with the first foot, but when it came to clipping in the other, it took me forever to position the pedal the right way, and I'd end up pedaling with one foot and fumbling around with the other. Thankfully, I eventually got the hang of it.

I didn't fall at any stops, but I did have an awkward moment when I made a U-turn, freaked out for some reason, forgot I was clipped in on the right side and tipped over. I unclipped in time, so I didn't actually hit the ground, but I bruised my left shin up pretty badly with my pedal.

Ah, well! Note to self: Next time, don't freak out!

Anyway, it was a fun ride, and as always, I love any time I get to spend with my bike. Can't wait until our next date.

harvesting, cycling

Spent the morning in the vineyards sampling Cabernet grapes with one of our winemakers.

Afterward, we went back to the winery and tasted the fermenting juice -- a little Cab, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Viognier and ...

... Chardonnay.

I love this time of year.


On another note, a hot little bike got an upgrade today.

Clip-in pedals!

Now all I have to do is learn how to ride with them.


I was reading this post about having a DNS -- do not start -- day. It's one thing to have one DNS, but another to have multiple.

And this year has been the Year of the DNS for me.

First, there was the sprained ankle, which resulted in a DNS at Kaiser, a race I had hoped would be a PR attempt.

The plus side to this: I discovered I am a really good spectator.

Then: New York. My heart still hurts thinking about it. I had high hopes for this marathon. Everything was lined up: The hotel was booked, I was on the VIP bus to the starting line, the ramen research was done, I had made plans to meet up with friends. But then my stupid hip had to protest. (Of course, my physical therapist thinks the hip injury may stem from the ankle sprain throwing everything out of alignment and causing my muscles to fire wrong. Curse you, left leg.)

Ultimately, deferring was the right decision. Only 10 percent of all lottery entrants actually get into the race, and since I'm not fast enough to enter with a qualifying time, this one entry is probably the only shot at New York I'll ever have. So rather than stumble through a once-in-a-lifetime experience in pain and risk a DNF (perhaps even worse than a DNS), I backed out. Hopefully next year I'll be 100 percent and can experience New York at its fullest.

But wait. The DNS action doesn't stop there.

I am actually debating yet another DNS this weekend. I'm signed up for the Healdsburg Half Marathon on Sunday, and there's absolutely no way I can run 13.1 miles. The farthest I've run recently has been a little more than 5 miles. My options: (a) Start the race, only run 7-8 miles and then call someone to come get me from wherever I drop out (my first DNF!), (b) Bring my bike to the race, ride the course and cheer for my friends who are running it or (c) Scrap the whole thing altogether and do something completely different, like maybe hot yoga or a long ride (have I mentioned I'm obsessed with my bike?) or even swimming.

Overall, this year hasn't turned out at all as planned.


Headed south for a quick trip to Lala land this weekend. The visit started with my mom's first-ever attempt at ramen.

She made a chicken-based broth and used Filipino noodles. Not exactly authentic, but still really comforting -- and much, much better than anything I've ever tried to do myself. (Um, package of Top Ramen, anyone?)

Then I went to the beach.

If there's one thing I miss about Southern California, it's the ocean.

I lay on the sand, watched people fly kites (there was a pirate ship-shaped kite!) and read my dorky book.

And then I went to Jinya for -- you guessed it -- more ramen.

I ordered the Hakata-style bowl. I know I've had it before, and maybe I should've tried something different, but the super-thick porky broth was just too good to resist.

My parents also got ramen.

I think this must be what happily ever after looks like!

apparently, I cycle now

I'll admit it -- when I got to GranFondo last Saturday, I was intimidated. There were 7,500 people in very expensive spandex outfits with very expensive aerodynamic helmets (out of curiosity, am I the only one who wonders why you would pay $200 for a hat that makes you look like an alien?) and absolutely insanely expensive bikes. And all of these people were crammed in together, bike against bike, waiting to cross the starting line.

I felt like a big amateur with my paddle pedals (that's right -- I haven't even graduated to clip-ins yet), my $30 visor helmet and my street shoes. I also felt extremely claustrophobic.

So I went to the very back.

Literally, the very, very back. As in, my friend and I were the absolute last people to cross the starting line, and the announcer was telling us we needed to move faster.

Apparently, I took this to heart. Because after I stopped feeling so self-conscious, I discovered I am actually not a bad cyclist. In fact, I found myself continually panting "On your left" to other riders and passing them on the hills. That's right -- you people in your spandex and your carbon frames and your clippy pedals? Bubbye!

I also found myself talking to my bike a lot. At one point, I actually said "babe." Yes, my sanity may be questionable, but I think this means the relationship is official. I understand her gears now -- and we used them to our advantage Saturday -- so proud of my little green devil!

(Seriously, my bike is so cute. Swoon.)

The course was absolutely gorgeous -- imagine riding down winding country roads in the crisp air while leaves fall from the trees around you like confetti. Perfect autumn experience. (And how can you not call your bike "babe" when you're having what is clearly such a romantic date?)

Anyway, aside from the accident just before the turnaround point at Occidental (two older men down in the road, flat on their backs and being loaded onto stretchers while everyone else walked their bikes around) and the fact that my parts were simultaneously numb and chafed after the ride (it was so bad that it hurt to pee), I had a fantastic time and would definitely do it again -- although next time, with chamois cream.

(Added GranFondo perk: I spotted Patrick Dempsey in the VIP tent at the post-race festival. And perhaps even more awesome than McDreamy: I was standing at the finish line when Mark-Paul Gosselaar -- a.k.a. Zack from "Saved by the Bell" -- came across.)

And here's the biggest surprise of all: I don't know how on earth this happened, but when I checked the GranFondo results today, I discovered I came in second in my age group, with a total time of 2:38:29.2. And I was 17th for gender and 47th overall.

Seriously, WTF. This had to be the slowpoke group, right?