Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#OptOutside

Is it just me or has this year flown by?  I can't believe it's almost December!  I'm not ready!

This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend and I had so much to be thankful for.  The four day weekend started off with an easy run on my local recreational trail on Thanksgiving morning.  Every day I am grateful to be able to run out of my front door onto one of the most scenic recreational trails in the country.  How many people can say they can run by the ocean every day?  It never gets old.

Afterwards, I headed out to San Jose, CA for Thanksgiving dinner with my Dad's side of the family.  Holidays are hard to parse out when you have a huge family so I tend to celebrate Thanksgiving with my Dad's side of the family and Christmas with my Mom's side of the family.

Per usual, we had a ton of food and I was actually smart this year and showed up wearing clothing comfy enough to allow me to indulge in eating all of the food.  Stretchy pants for the win!  Three (or five) platefuls later, and I was happily lounging on the couch in a severe food coma catching up with my cousins and cracking up at the usual shenanigans that tend to ensue when we're all together.  I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt (and not just from all the food I ate), my face was sore and I had tears streaming from my eyes.  Gotta love family time! 

All of the food (minus the dessert table) and my Auntie.  Isn't she cute?

Of all the things I'm thankful for, I'm especially thankful to be blessed with the family that I would have picked for myself if given the choice.  I know how extremely lucky I am to sincerely love, and love spending time with, every single family member on both sides of my family.  What's even more amazing is that both sides of my family love, and get along with, each other!  It's a rarity that I never take for granted. 
 
Some of the fam.  We had a photo fail and forgot to take a pic with everyone.
 
The day after Thanksgiving was a planned family hike at Mission Peak in Fremont, CA to burn off all of the turkey day calories.  We were all anti-shopping and wanted to do something active outdoors so it was a perfect opportunity for some family bonding.  The majority of the family was still in a food coma state that morning so it ended up being a party of two and my cousin luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) got to share all of the miles with me.
 
It was so pretty!  I'm glad we decided to hike so that I could enjoy the view
 
Since my cousin isn't a runner, we agreed to hike instead.  I had only been to Mission Peak once before and ran it was during the hottest part of the day in the middle of summer.  Needless to say, I didn't get to enjoy the view at all.  I took full advantage of the fact that we were hiking and soaked in all of the views.  There were gaggles of wild turkey that would meander across the trail (I'm pretty sure they were thankful not to have been dinner the night before!), lots of cows lazily grazing on the hillside, and plenty of birds and rabbits.  I cheerily said good morning to every person (and every animal) we came across and made plenty of new friends along the way.  To say I was in my happy place was an understatement!
 
My new friend.  We were doing the mannequin challenge
 
In what seemed like no time at all we reached the summit and we took some time to soak in the view.  It was gorgeous!  Apparently it tends to get really packed up there so we were lucky enough to have hiked early enough to miss the huge crowd.  Per usual, I chatted it up with random strangers about all things running, hiking and food.  And of course I had to take an obligatory pic on the Mission Peak pole!
 
On top of the world
 

That view!
 
After a while the crowd at the summit started growing and we noticed that more and more people were on the way up so we decided to head back out.  Instead of going back down the way we came, we opted to go back down the opposite way on another trail that was considerably less crowded (we saw maybe 10 people along the way).  Much to my cousin's chagrin, I made the executive decision for us to run the entire way back. 
 

Don't let that smile fool you.  She hated me for making her run. HA!
 
Listen, I know I'll probably get some flack for "forcing" my cousin to run but hear me out.  I know her.  I know how far she can go, how much she can be pushed and what her personal fitness goals are for the upcoming year.  She's more than capable of running, and she fully admits that she loves how she feels afterwards.  All she needs is a little tough love to get her started.  So we ran.  A little over three glorious miles of mostly downhill and oh man were my quads burning!  I haven't bombed downhill that hard in a while.  By the time we got back to the parking lot and stopped my legs were jello and I loved it.  And my cousin who swore up and down that she hates running, ran the entire way and had the biggest smile on her face when we finished.  She did it!  I can't tell you how proud I was of her and, most importantly, how proud she was of herself.
 
Saturday was a rainy, dreary day.  Perfect for an active recovery day.  I hit up my local recreational trail for an easy walk/jog since my quads were shot.  I knew the soreness was only going to get worse the next day so an easy activity was the perfect way to try to minimize the upcoming soreness.
 
Sunday was a full rest day which was exactly what I needed because my quads HURT.  I literally cringed every time I had to stand up or tried to sit down cross-legged or with my legs under me.  Any thoughts of a downhill marathon being a fun idea were thoroughly quashed. 
 
So what do I do when I can't workout or run?  I eat!  I met up with my Uncle (who is also my godfather and second dad), Auntie and cousins for breakfast at a Filipino restaurant in Milpitas.  My cousin, who I consider my other brother, was in town from L.A. so I wanted to spend some time with him and the fam to catch-up.


Dad#2 and my second family

After breakfast we headed to my other cousin's home to hang out, catch-up and basically dote over the baby.  She is so dang cute and one of the happiest babies I've ever seen!  Playing with her made me miss my niece but thankfully I'll get to love on her soon when I visit for Christmas.  And of course I had to spend some quality time with my four-legged niece, Casey.  Sweetest dog ever!  I may or may not have tried to steal her but she didn't quite fit into my purse.

Casey!  Love my four-legged niece
 
As sad as I am that the long weekend is over, I am so glad to get back to my normal routine.  I'm realizing that as fun as eating all of the food is in theory, in reality it's not so fun.  I felt so sluggish and gross and my body certainly felt the impact of eating a ton of junk without the corresponding hard work out/run to balance it out.  Happy to be back to the grind!
 


How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you #OptOutside or brave the Black Friday shopping crowds?
 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 Big Sur Half Marathon - Race Recap

This past weekend was the 2016 Big Sur Half Marathon race weekend.  I can't even begin to explain how much I love this race!  No matter how rough of a year I've had, this race always makes me happy.

Race weekend started with a shake-out run hosted by The Treadmill in collaboration with Asics.  It was a gorgeous day in Monterey, CA and the turnout was great.  Nothing beats sharing fun miles with great people and amazing views!

Perfect shake-out run

I mean look at that view

After the shake-out run, I headed to the Big Sur Half Marathon Expo to pick up my bib and get a big hug from my favorite race announcer before heading over to LouLou's Griddle in the Middle for brunch with the Pink Hat Runner and the Trail Snail (the 3:00 and 3:30 race pacers).  Brunch was delicious as usual and the conversation revolved around all things race related.  To say we were excited is an understatement!

My favorite race announcer, Rudy Novotny
 
After brunch I spent the rest of the day prepping my race gear, propping my legs up and relaxing.  I literally did a whole lot of nothing!  I even fell asleep before 11:00 PM (a huge win for a night owl, insomniac like me!)
 
Sunday morning I was up as soon as my alarm went off.  A huge thing for me since I am the antithesis of a morning person.  I quickly got dressed, had my toast with peanut butter, and drove 10 minutes to my work parking lot.  I'm so grateful that my office is literally a 5 minute walk to the start line as not only did I not have to worry about finding a parking spot but I also had the luxury of waiting in a warm building and using real bathrooms before heading out to meet my friends at the start line.
 
At 6:20 I walked over to the start area to meet up with friends and before we knew it, it was time to start!  I was slated to start in Corral D but instead I opted to move back and start in Corral H with my friend who was running her first race since she became pregnant with her 18 month old son.  In fact, her very first run was the Friday before the race and she only got in 4 miles!
 
The first four miles of the race were crowded which is pretty standard for any race but the energy of the runners and the spectators were palpable.  Everyone seemed to be happy and having so much fun.  The weather was also perfect!  Cool and overcast in the beginning and but warmed up midway through the race with an accompanying light breeze and ocean spray from the waves to keep us cool.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is by far the prettiest, most scenic half marathon that I've ever ran.
 
As soon as we hit the mile 4 sign, my friend said "well, this is as far as my training goes let's see how the rest of this goes!".  You guys, she killed it!  Not once did she walk or slow down other than four really quick water stops.  At the mile 9 marker she said, "OMG I'm really going to do this!" and she did in a big way.  From mile 10 on, she sped up each mile and at the end even kicked it in to the finish.  She is such a badass!
 

We did it!

We met up with the rest of our friends at the finish festival and celebrated with some dancing in the plaza followed by beer and brunch to refuel and rehydrate.  Everyone had a great race and two of my friends earned half marathon PRs!

Happy finishers!

Waves to Wine Challenge Complete
  
The Big Sur International Marathon Events always put on a great race.  If you've never ran this one before, I highly recommend coming out and running it at least once.  I promise you it's worth every second and every mile!
 

Do you have a race that you ran happy the entire way? What is your favorite race to run?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Another Year Older

Well hello November! You got here much faster than I expected. I wasn't quite ready for you BUT I'm grateful you're here.

On Sunday I turned another year older and age always makes me introspective.  This last year certainly wasn't what I had hoped it would be.  Regardless, I've learned a lot and I have a clearer view of who I am, what I want and what I don't.  That being said, there are certainly some things that I'd like to focus on going forward:

1) Attitude of Gratitude. This year has been rough in a multitude of ways. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with everything and as the year progressed I found myself getting angrier and more pessimistic. You guys, it takes so much time and energy to be that angry and negative. I was constantly exhausted and mentally/emotionally drained. So unhealthy! For this year of my life I'm determined to be more positive and and generally happier.

2) Family. I became an auntie for the first time this year and every time I see my niece's little face it makes me realize how much I miss my family and how rarely we actually get to see each other. More family time will be prioritized and scheduled from now on!

3) Friends.  Friends are truly the family you choose for yourself and I've been guilty of not focusing enough on maintaining and building those relationships this year.  I am so grateful for the people in my life who have chosen to be my friends and I want to ensure that I continue to dedicate time and energy letting them know how important they are to me.

4) Grace.  For many reasons, this last year has felt like one big failure and disappointment.  I was beating myself up for not achieving what is considered personal and professional "success" for my age.  It was all a load of crap!  Life is too short to constantly be striving for others ideals of what life should be.  It's ok to not have things fall perfectly in line with what I envisioned.  That doesn't make me a failure or a bad person.  That's life!  Instead, I'll be focusing on what makes me happy, leaving myself open to opportunities as they come, and most importantly giving myself grace when things don't go as expected. 

5) Travel and Adventure. In 2013 - 2014 I traveled so much. I had so many adventures that took me to Oregon, Chicago, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. This year with so my much going on I didn't travel at all. The only trips I took were to Vegas to visit family. I didn't realize how much I missed having travel adventures until recently. Next year it's on! Who knows, maybe I can manage to even get an international stamp in my passport.


 
Do you ever set goals for yourself for your birthday?  What types of things are you focusing on?