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It has been a busy, fun-filled Fall ’round these parts, and as I have had many aspirations…yet few actulizations…of blogging, here is our Fall summed up in four photo collages:

FALL HARVEST

Although we planted four pumpkin plants (one jack-o-lantern and three pie), only one plant survived and only one solitary pumpkin on that plant thrived.  As pictured above, the boys had quite the time trying to decide just who that one pumpkin belonged to; in the end, I took possession of it for cooking purposes.  It was just a medium-small jack-o-lantern pumpkin, but we made the most of it, and it yielded pumpkin cream sauce (over ravioli), a pumpkin roll, baked pumpkin seeds (for an Autumn salad), and two pumpkin pies.  Surely, just one pumpkin for the season wouldn’t do, so we bought many more and made:  more pumpkin rolls (x2); pumpkin soup (x2); pumpkin muffins (x2), pumpkin bread (a lot); pumpkin smoothies (look forward to the recipe in a later post), pumpkin ice cream (recipe here); pumpkin cookies (many).  And I still have FIVE pumpkins to cook through!  It’s a darn good thing I love pumpkin, and my family does too!

FALL FESTIVITIES

Cleaning out pumpkins for cooking and carving, sugar cookie decorating…the pictures say it all.

FALL RUNNING and RACING

There has been a lot of running and racing in this family of late.   I kicked it off for the season with the St. George Marathon in early October (a long overdue post probably to come…), which didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I followed it up with three PRs (personal records) in three different distances, so I’m feeling great regardless. 

I had my boys “training” whenever we went to the park.  I registered them for two races this season (at their insistence, mind you).  I want for them to learn while they are young that running is fun and doable.  I don’t want them getting to their first “mile” in middle school P.E. and having a dreadful experience, as I did.  I don’t want them to have a preconceived notion that running is too hard and horrible, as I did.  I want them to remember that they RAN their first mile when they were only 5 and 7 (in a race last June), and that they did GREAT!  They will decide on their own if they really like running; my objective is to simply keep them from hating running.  So far, they love it…or at least the racing aspect of it.  The first race they were to run was in conjunction with my half marathon, and they were supposed to wear their Halloween costumes.  They were SO excited, but unfortunately it was canceled as the vineyard they were to run through was too muddy and rocky.  No matter, their dad and I took them to a deserted stretch of road near the vineyard and had them run a quick point to point race from him to me.  It was a short and spontaneous substitute, but at least they felt like they got to run their race and that they earned their medals.  The second race was a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving that the whole family (even Dad, 5K) participated in.

As for me, after the marathon I ran a local 5K (3.1 miles), a GORGEOUS half marathon (13.1 miles) through the vineyards of Sonoma Valley, and a 10K (6.2 miles) Turkey Trot in San Jose.  I set new personal records in all three distances:

5K:  22:59; 10K: 48:51; 1/2 Marathon: 1:51:04

The 10K Turkey Trot was the easiest course of the three, the only problem being the thick crowd of runners to navigate through (nearly 15,000 runners between the 5K and 10K, which partially shared a course..holy cow that’s a HUGE field!)  The local 5K was actually a very poor course, and I think I could have run it faster had the course been one good loop or a straight way out and back.  Instead, it was two laps of a really weird loop, with short out and backs included and far too many turns, some particularly sharp ones.  For a short race that is meant to be run fast, this course was NOT helpful…I felt like every time I gained some good momentum I had to slow way down to make a turn without taking a spill, and I had to focus far too much on simply making sure I stayed on the course, period.  The half marathon was hands down the most beautiful California race I have run thus far…picturesque, as in post card/calendar worthy.  It began at a really cool winery and wound it’s way along this old rural road that took us past 23 family owned wineries, ending at Lake Sonoma Receration Area.  The weather was perfect, and the course was nice…neither difficult nor easy, with gently rolling hills the entire way.  I LOVED this event.

FALL HIKING and EXPLORING

 

Our three-year-old was having a very hard time at first with his two older brothers starting school and leaving him behind during the day.  Soon though, he discovered that being the lone kid home does have some good perks.  One (unfortunately hot) September day his dad had the morning off work, so we took him for a hike up a local iconic mountain…sans the brothers.  He loved having both Mom and Dad to himself for such an outing, and he still talks about hiking up that mountain with us whenever he spots in out the car window.  I took all three boys to a nearby creek/recreation area for some easy hiking and great exploring the day before Thanksgiving.  One thing about boys I know:  they love to be outside where they have plenty of space to run and explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell, my favorite season, until next year…

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This year marks my husband’s and my tenth Thanksgiving together, and this was the first we’ve shared with no extended family or friends (we’ll be spending Christmas the same way this year).  It was just us and our boys in our little home, in our own kitchen, at our uncrowded table.  My original plan was to go out to eat, but after consulting our budget…and to the delight of my hubby…we decided to stay in and cook ourselves (er, myself).   Actually, we were amazed at how well and with little work or fanfare it all came together.  And also at how well we enjoyed the intimate setting of just our usual five.

The one thing I really missed was breaking out the fine china.  It just didn’t seem worth the effort to dig it out of boxes in the garage, wash up, eat off of, wash again, then put away for just my hubby and me (the kids won’t be eating off of it for a few years yet).  But, if we had had but a single guest, I would have brought it out!  (I just noticed that whoever set the table put the spoons in the wrong place…again, if we’d had even one guest I would have double checked to make sure the table was set properly.)

Little Helpers

…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..

We went ’round the table and each spoke of one thing we were particularly grateful for on this Thanksgiving day.

Our five-year-old answered “turkey,” and he got some….

I answered, a healthy body that is capable of running, because running makes me happy.  It was on my mind, as the whole family had run in the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot earlier in the day.  Hubby: 5K, Me: 10K, Boys: Fun Run

I set a new PR (personal record) in the 10K (6.2 miles) distance: 48:51

How I placed:

525 out of 4,118, overall

80 out of 2074, women

18 out of 370, age division (F 30-34)


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Feelin’ Good

I have been in desperate need of new running shoes for some time now, but have been hesitant to spend the money.  My favorite shoe, the Saucony ProGrid Ride, is listed at $95 online, quite a wad of cash to part with.  On Friday, though, I had the option of picking up my race packet (for the 10K I was to run the next day) at a Sports Basement store up in Sunnyvale…more than a thirty minute drive from my house.  At first I thought it made more sense just to arrive early the next morning and pick up my packet before the race…until I realized that the store was offering 20% off of any purchase in conjunction with race packet pickup.  Turns out, not only did the store have my shoe, but it was already marked down…before the extra discount.  And, I like the new color scheme even better than that of my last pair!

$95 (online)

$85 (store price)

$65 (markdown)

20% discount

=

$52.00!

Now that’s a SWEET deal.

*(Not including the onerous 9.25%! sales tax)

The guy who handed me my packet gave me a skeptical look when he saw my new shoes in hand.  He asked if I was going to wear them for the race the next day.  Heck yeah!  I have never had problems with “breaking in” a good pair of running shoes.  If you’ve got the right pair, and from a reputable brand, you shouldn’t need to break them in.  They should be great from the start.  This brand new pair carried me to a 15th place finish, of 314 runners…all women.  I placed third in my age division, which won me these lovely? socks….

If I wear them for my next Mermaid Series event, I can win more great stuff! 

I don’t think I’ll ever be running in these….

To Mermaid’s credit, the other race paraphernalia they doled out was fantastic!  The goodie bags weren’t some generic, use ’em then loose ’em plastic bags…they’re real bags!  Cute and functional, and available in the runner’s choice of three colors.  I now have a new church bag, thanks Mermaid!

The T-shirt is one of the best I’ve ever gotten.  It’s not a running shirt, but it is cute enough to actually wear, somewhere other than bed….  Instead of  medals we received necklaces, and way cute too, don’t you think?

I don’t usually register for short distance races, as I prefer marathons and half marathons.  But, I am really glad I ran this 10K (6.2 miles).  It’s good to shake things up a bit, and it’s easier to really push myself with the shorter distances.  I think I’m going to add more 10 and 5 Ks to my race schedule from now on.  Next up?  See Jane Run Half Marathon in June!


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An Exercise in Endurance

So I’m only a month late on this, but I can’t not do a post on the marathon.  I got into town later the night before than I had hoped to, and barely made it to the pasta dinner with the group (thankfully my friend had thought to reserve a seat and order for me before I arrived).  I didn’t get to bed until far too late, and then didn’t sleep well on top of that (it’s always hard for me to sleep well the night before a big race…a combination of being in a hotel room, the anticipation, and worrying that I might not wake up to the early alarm).  I woke up nonetheless, at quarter to four, ate a banana and a Clif Bar, laced up my shoes, and met my group at 4:40 by the hotel entrance.  The Marriott we were staying at was close enough to walk to the buses, which would take us to the start.  These marathons that start way up a canyon seem like so much more than 26.2 miles on the way up in the buses.  Every several minutes the thought comes to mind, how are we still not there yet?

The ANTICIPATION is the worst part of a marathon, for me.

00201-01-2037 Our bus actually got lost on the way up, which was particularly funny considering it was leading several other buses, but after some tight maneuvering it was able to get turned around, and we still made it to the start about an hour and a half before the race was to begin.  So what to do for an hour and a half in the freezing cold while waiting to run a marathon?  Huddle around fire pits, of course.  And wait in line to use the port-a-potties.  Chat about all things marathon.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  The anticipation really is the worst part, I think.  Can’t we just start running already?  If I could start right away, I could be almost half done by the time the gun actually starts the race. I try not to dwell on that thought.

00201-01-2071

Even after the gun is fired, unless you are an elite runner, lined up with your feet at the start line, you still must wait…anywhere from several seconds to several minutes…to cross the line and actually begin the race.  Runners are supposed to line up according 00201-01-2101to their estimated finish times.  It took me five minutes to cross the start line at my first marathon (I had gotten in line way too far back), and it took me just over one minute at this one.  Thankfully, due to individual chip timing, the wait has no affect on your final time whatsoever (your chip, attached to your shoe or ankle, starts timing when you cross the start line and stops it when you cross the finish line).  And so the anticipation continues after the race has officially begun and you are still standing still…then slowly walking…then barely jogging…as you make your way through the congestion, towards the start line.

00201-01-1243I spent the first 13.1 miles hanging with a running buddy from my group.  The miles passed quickly and easily as we chatted.  At mile 7.5 we were treated with the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun, blaring from an onlooker’s truck stereo.  One of the great things about a marathon is all of the support, especially the random people from the small towns you run through, who come out of their homes to spend the morning enthusiastically cheering the runners on.  My friend’s wife and little boy drove up along side us and shouted some words of encouragement around mile 10.  And there were throngs of people lining the streets at the half way mark.  I just love all of the people, especially the ones who yell things like, “you’re looking great!”, at mile 22 or 23…when you know full well that you are not looking great.

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The course was beautiful…absolutely gorgeous…which a marathon needs to be to be good.  It followed gushing rivers, took us alongside green fields, around a sparkling reservoir, and through a rock-walled canyon.  I missed my goal time

C'est Finni

C'est Finni

The Final Kick

The Final Kick

…under four hours…by just a few minutes.  In fact, I came in at 4:03…the same exact time as my previous marathon, the very time I was trying to beat.  There are a lot of factors, the combination of which…or perhaps even just one of them alone…kept me from my goal.  This is ok, though, because I still improved, for this course was more difficult than the last.  And I gained valuable experience which will surely benefit me in the future. (more…)

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The Countdown to 26.2

The taper began last week with a short long run of 12 miles; today was only 10.

With my marathon only one week away, the next six days I’ll be taking it easy on the running and taking it heavy on the carbs.  I carbo loaded the entire week before my last marathon and I never hit THE WALL.  Here’s to hoping that the strategy pays off again.

I feel ready.  I know I’m ready.  I’ll finish.

The question is whether or not I’ll make my goal time:  under four hours.  That only requires me to shave off just over three minutes from last time.  I’m confident that I can do it; the question is whether I will do it.

I am physically prepared and mentally prepared.

I’m excited and the anticipation is actually a bit irksome.  Everyday this week will simply be viewed as one day closer in the countdown to 26.2.

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The Final 20, A Mental Boost

So I woke up this morning just before the crack of dawn, donned my running garb, and was out the door before six.  I met the group just around the corner from my house, then we all piled into two SUVs and headed out of town, meeting a couple more runners waiting at the dirt parking lot, at the turnoff to Kyle Canyon.  Then up the canyon the two runner-filled SUVs drove, dropping water and sports drinks at various mile markers along the way.

As we left the desert floor and headed into the mountains it soon became clear that the 80 and 90 degree weather we enjoyed last week would certainly not translate into a perfect 60 degree temperature for this morning’s run.  As the miles steadily increased on the trip counter, the outside temperature reading on the overhead dash displayed a steady decrease.  Then, just after someone asked, “Do you remember how it was snowing on our first Mt. Charleston run last year?”, we noticed the first faint flurries.  “That can’t be snow,” someone else joked…“maybe it’s just pollen.” “Pollen doesn’t melt on the windshield,” the driver quipped.  I looked down at my bare legs, wishing I had brought gloves along, thankful I had decided at the last minute to wear my pullover. (more…)

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Ready To Run

The Night Before (20 miler) Run Prep:

ready-to-run2

Tomorrow morning I run my second, and last, 20 MILER of my current marathon training.  I am looking forward to it…and looking forward to it being over.  I don’t wear a fuel belt; instead I drop my drinks ahead of time and then pick them up along the way.  I’m out of bananas, which is my favorite pre-run food, so I’ll have to settle for a Clif Bar instead.  I need to eat it 45 minutes to an hour before running.  The GU and Luna Moons are fuel for the run.  I almost always take my fanny on long runs, filled with probably too much stuff (fuel, extra batteries for my watch, cell phone, chap stick, an elastic, hand sanitizer) but I feel naked and unprepared without it.

I have my clothes and shoes laid out; the alarm is set for 5:15; I have to meet the group at 6:00; I will probably be running by 6:45.

Think of me and be glad you’re still in your bed when you wake tomorrow.


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