Thursday Things

Every month when I fork over my hosting fees to BlueHost I think “I should probably blog” … and then I don’t. There are half a dozen drafts in WLW but once I get about a paragraph in I lose interest in my own story. I’m sparing you those boring posts. But maybe I owe my five readers an update? I think it’s time.

1. Let’s start with the bad news, shall we? I’m deferring my Marine Corps Marathon entry to 2016. I alluded to this in my last post, but the decision ultimately had nothing to do with those circumstances. My work schedule, lack of making running a priority, and summer in Austin made training pretty damn tough. I really wanted to stick it out but my end-game from the beginning was for the next marathon to be a determined journey to a long overdue PR. Unfortunately the cards didn’t fall in my favor and as much as I believe I could somewhat piece together a plan which would get me to the finish line of a “fun” marathon, that’s not what I had in mind. So I’m cutting my losses and looking for an alternative at the beginning of 2016. Preliminary front runner is LA Marathon in February because (1) I’ve never been to LA (2) it’s a point-to-point race and I really like those (3) I’ve never run a race in California. I’m open to suggestions though, anywhere from December 2015 through March 2016. Please, suggest away.

2. 2014 was the year of relays. And that might even be an understatement. But it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t run at least one this year, so yesterday I committed to Ragnar Relay Las Vegas in November. This lessened the blow a little bit of losing Marine Corps and once Jenny confirmed she was also in for another weekend of debauchery, it made me feel 100x better. I’m pretty stoked for a mini Hood to Coast ReNUUNion. Can’t believe it’s been an entire year since we conquered Mt. Hood to Seaside together but excited for the opportunity to be reunited with many of my fantastic teammates.

3. Can someone please help me enjoy decorating? Since moving into my own place in May I’ve made an effort on a handful of occasions to buy artwork, throw pillows – basically anything which will turn my apartment into more of a home. Usually after a couple stores and hours of scouring Pinterest I give up on everything and decide maybe the pillows that came with my new mini-sectional are enough. I’ve never been big into shopping and apparently even the need to furnish an apartment won’t sway me otherwise. Currently accepting applications for a personal shopper. Please apply within.

4. I decided to forego cable in favor of more affordable options like Hulu, Netflix [thanks, Germain!] and Sling TV. I’ve been revisiting old shows like One Tree Hill, most seasons of Real Housewives of Orange County [please don’t judge] and most recently Gossip Girl. And since I’ve already watched Gossip Girl through the end, I’m still not convinced the person who was revealed to be GG actually makes sense given certain things posted on the website. I know it’s just a TV show … but it doesn’t seem feasible. These thoughts won’t keep me up at night.

5. The first half of the year wasn’t my favorite and I’ve been making my best effort to plan exciting things in the future to look forward to. There’s only so much Netflix a girl can endure on nights + weekends [see #5] before becoming incredibly stir crazy. My airline miles have been piling up, begging to be cashed in. So I started doing just that: booking getaways for almost every remaining month in 2015. Why the hell not? Two weekends ago I took in a Red Sox game in Houston and enjoyed a night on a sailboat in Kemah. Last weekend I spent a few days with one of my best friends in Florida, which despite the torrential downpour from the moment my plane touched down in Tampa until I left two days later, was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. At the end of August I’ll be heading back to Florida [twice in one month? yep] to visit this girl. It’s been almost two years since the last time I saw her and honestly – that’s way too long. She even put together an itinerary for me – that’s love, people. I love me a great itinerary. It’s the little things.

That’s all for now, kids. Maybe I’ll make an appearance more often than every 3 months, maybe I won’t. Only time will tell.    

End of We


There’s a good reason for my several month absence. Brad and I split up. I’m not going to divulge details [a majority of you who read here have already played therapist to me – THANK YOU! – so you know the history] but it was… not terrible. Okay, yeah it definitely is painful for the both of us. It wasn’t mutual but I understand where he is coming from and at this point in my life I cannot give him the things he wants. Fine, one detail – a family. You know my stance on that.

It surprises most people to learn I don’t hate him. Sure, it’s tough to wrap my head around the fact I moved all of my shit to Austin to be with him 6 years ago, but things could be much worse. We still talk regularly, most of the time civilly [depending on my wine intake] and the end game is to continue what we’ve always been for the past 10 years – best friends. There was a brief hiatus while we were living in different states and dating other people. We caught up frequently via text or on the phone, swapping dating stories and just getting up to speed on each others’ lives in general. I want to be there again. It will take awhile for us to get there, but we’re working on it. The transition is pretty damn hard – no sugar coating that. Coming home to an empty apartment every day without a significant other or two human-sized dogs to greet you makes the new home feel empty. When it’s everything you’ve known for so long, it’s difficult to just wipe the slate clean and start over.

So over the past few months I’ve been getting out more. Reconnecting with friends I had fallen out of touch with. Accepting happy hour invitations I would have otherwise turned down. Dining at new restaurants I’d been dying to visit. I’ve been trying to touch all of the corners of Austin that Brad and I hadn’t encountered. Because when I go somewhere we used to frequent often, it sucks. Too many memories, too many good times, too many “what once was” moments. Do you know how many of those there are when you move to a new city and spend a majority of your time with your significant other? Good lord. Please don’t make me count. I bought tickets to two different concerts, one ticket for each. I’m not going to stop doing things I love because someone who used to be a part of it won’t be there anymore. I have to keep moving forward – or do my damn best to try. I’ll eventually figure it out, even it feels impossible right now.

We separated at the beginning of March and last weekend I moved all of my one million things into an apartment. Turns out those ‘one million things’ didn’t exactly fill up the space as I had envisioned them to. Thankfully I have a couch being delivered to me on Wednesday and I can stop spending my weekends curled up in bed because it’s the only place to lay down and get comfortable. I’m not even going to touch on how much I loathe AT&T right now after they missed three [yes, THREE] of my installation dates and forced me to contract for Internet with the devil – Time Warner. Shortly we’ll see just how much I regret that decision. But at least there will be Internet, something I will have gone without for two weeks. First world problems, indeed.

In the meantime I’m just trying to keep my shit together and stay busy. Work is kicking my ass more than usual and doesn’t look like it’ll be letting up until at least mid-August so at least I have something to keep me busy. I spent all of Sunday and Monday of this past weekend working, if that’s any indication of how ‘busy’ I actually am. I know some people hate that word. I kinda do too. But I’m thankful to have a job that challenges me and gives me a distraction when I’m housebound due to tornado sirens and ridiculous flooding. Seriously Texas, WTF is going on?

And because I don’t think I’ve mentioned this anywhere but on Twitter – I signed up for another marathon! Can’t say I’ve been running my ass off over these past few months but with the beginning of training looming on the horizon it’s time to get back to it. In October I’ll be running Marine Corps Marathon for the second time and spending the weekend with my Internet-turned-IRL friend Amy. After getting in through the lottery I went back and forth a billion times on whether or not I should actually run it. It was my first marathon, Brad was there, my family was there … a lot of happy memories. I just don’t want to get stuck in the “well last time, XYZ happened” or end up getting depressed when I get to mile 22 and Brad isn’t there to jump in with me to keep me company. In the end though, I think marathon training [as much as it is going to absolutely SUCK this summer] will be a good outlet for me to blow off some steam and keep my mind off of things. But if I end up deferring my entry to 2016, you’ll know why. Just sayin’.

And not that you asked [but if you were curious] – no, I am not dating, nor do I have plans to. I’ve heard painfully awful dating stories from friends about randoms they met on Match or OK Cupid. And I watch wayyyy too many episodes of Criminal Minds and CSI to know I’d prefer not to end up as a plotline for their show. There isn’t an ounce of my being that’s interested in dating right now and I anticipate it staying that way for quite awhile.

It’s time for the beginning of ME.

Thursday Things

1. One of my goals for 2015 [I may talk about all of them at some point, I may not – don’t hold your breath] is to put together a cookbook. I’m not a food blogger and have no plans to turn STAMT into one. But I am absolutely in love with cooking. Like, fanatical about it. If you knew the amount of time I could spend in Sur la Table on a Saturday afternoon you’d likely be horrified. If you ask me to recommend a kitchen tool, I’d suggest you sit down because I’ve done way too much research on almost everything. I could watch the movie Chef over and over again. The scene with Jon Favreau cooking like a maniac after storming out of his restaurant? Ah, MAGICAL. Anyway, I will butcher the crap out of a recipe from the internet until it’s no longer recognizable from the author’s but will still somehow fantastic. The more I thought about it, the more I realized putting together a casual cookbook was really exciting to me. So I’m currently in the beginning stages of planning out recipes, deciding which categories to break the book into, and working on my photog skills. The book will be casual and I’m not looking to sell anything, but will happily share the final product [and probably a few sneak peeks] with friends + family. Stay tuned!

Not a Food Blogger

2. I bought a FitBit Flex. And then I bought a Jawbone Up24. And then I returned both of them. This is incredibly typical of me since I return 90% of the things I buy. The FitBit was cool for a few days until I bought the Jawbone and realized I liked it much better. It was more comfortable on my wrist, easier to switch between awake/sleeping, tracked more specific details about my sleep patterns, and synced to my Strava account seamlessly. Oh and the app was much prettier than the FitBit one – if you’re a visual person. So I returned the FitBit. My decision to return the Jawbone came after the 3rd or 4th workout I completed. I proceeded to sync my watch to Garmin Connect, uploaded to Strava, jotted down some specific details in a journal, and entered the distance/pace into my 2015 Training Log in Google Drive. OMG DATA OVERLOAD. I track the data [for free] in so many damn places already – why did I need another tool? The answer was this: I didn’t. Sure, the sleep stats were nice to have and integrating the app with MyFitnessPal [to track protein/carbs/fat] was helpful, but $79 helpful? No. So back to the store it went.

3. THIS. Do you remember trying to sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ with 3 or 4 classmates in grade school? I couldn’t for the life of me focus on my own song [which makes me a realllyyyy stellar eavesdropper as an adult] and inevitably messed it up every time. So, this? This blows my mind.

4. My Houston Marathon playlist needs some TLC. And no, I’m not talking about ‘Waterfalls’ or ‘No Scrubs’. My current playlist has taken a beating over the past 3-4 months and some of the songs make me want to rip out my headphones and throw my iPod to the side of the trail. The logical solution would be to create an updated playlist. But all I care about when returning from a run is getting something to eat and taking a shower. The next time I think about my running music is when I’m starting my Garmin and hitting play on the iPod. SO! I need suggestions. Note: I spend 3+ hours a day in the car listening to the radio [both pop + country stations] so pretty much every song on the iTunes Top 200 list is out.

What song[s] on your current playlist are considered must-haves for running?

Houston Marathon: Training Update + Race Goals

Whew, the last few months FLEW by. Training, as it rarely ever does, did not go as planned. The holiday season and an unexpected shakeup at work kept my schedule bursting at the seams. The weather was a bit crazy by Austin standards and forced us to shift several long runs to the middle of the week. This was less than ideal, but better than bagging them altogether. It would have been really helpful if Brad had a gym membership so we could move our long runs indoors when the weather wasn’t cooperating. I’m still baffled at how many thunderstorms we had this fall and how many of those fell on the damn weekend. It’s also forecasted to be much warmer on race day than the weather we’ve been training in. 70 degrees? In January? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Despite a few missed training runs, the BCS Half Marathon in mid-December went surprisingly well. As I crossed the finish line feeling strong and proud having nailed my goal pace, there was still a lingering thought in the back of my mind: how could I possibly ever run 13.1 more miles? The marathon is a dangerous beast and no matter how well prepared you may be, you never know what’s in store for you on race day. Everything could fall into place and you could end up with a well-deserved PR. Or things could start to unravel at mile 12, a distance you’ve done so many times that it seems unfathomable your legs and/or stomach aren’t cooperating. If only there were a crystal ball…

Chevron Houston Marathon Course Map
On Sunday morning Brad and I will line up at the start on Congress + San Jacinto to take on 26.2 miles through the streets of Houston. We’ll each bring something to the table on race day which will help push the other past their limits, past their pain, past their doubts. We will lean on each other [perhaps literally at some point] for the entire distance.

Let’s talk race goals. Quite simply, our main goal is to cross the finish line in an upright position. I’d be lying if I said the time limit for the course [six hours] didn’t terrify me. I’m confident we can finish but neither of my other marathons were sub six. It’s a mental thing more than anything else. We’ve mapped out a pace plan which allows us to walk through each water stop and includes a 5 minute cushion for a potential bathroom stop. If we stay on pace otherwise, we’ll come in under six hours without a problem.

All pacing thoughts aside, I’m incredibly excited to head back to Houston for the marathon. The course is great and spectators come out in droves to cheer for the strangers running through their city. It’s almost go time!


Join the 2015 Race Crew! If you’re in the area and unable to participate in this year’s race, sign up to volunteer at Houston’s largest single-day sporting event. Perks include free parking, a Race Crew T-Shirt, Race Crew social media badge, Volunteer Certificate Entry into RunFest festivities upon completion of the volunteer shift, and a virtual goodie bag with exclusive offers including tickets to Houston Astros and Houston Dynamo. More details here:

Registration for the 2016 Houston Marathon and Half Marathon opens on January 18, 2015. The runner cap has been increased to 27,000 and unlike previous years, it won’t be limited to qualifying times and lottery entries. More details here:

2014 BCS Half Marathon Race Recap

10401509_682998915098996_8724804038291868205_n I’ve heard nothing but good things about BCS over the past few years and decided in 2014 I’d finally make the trek out to College Station to see what the hype was all about. It’s touted as the “Best Race in Texas” by and spoiler alert: it was pretty damn awesome.

College Station is roughly two hours from our house so initially we had planned to leave Austin super early on race morning. Unfortunately race day packet pickup was non-existent so we ended up getting a hotel room that night. Since it’s a college town there were plenty of options to choose from and we ended up booking a room at TownePlace Suites which was approximately 1.5 miles from the start. The full kitchen allowed us to have breakfast and coffee in the room on race morning – super convenient. Two hotels were already sold out when I was looking in September so I’d recommend booking early to be safe.

BCS Marathon Finishers Shirt

Race Registration: Once we finally pulled the trigger on registration in October it was $90. This is generally more than I like to spend for a half but in hindsight it was a great value. Registration included a long-sleeved cotton participant shirt, a short-sleeved technical New Balance finisher’s shirt, medal, a pair of Swiftwick socks, beer and food [more on that later] at the finish. I would gladly pay that price again, but when registration opens in May the fee is much cheaper. Sign up early and save yourself a few bucks!

BCS Marathon Expo

Expo: It was small and efficient. We picked up our shirts, bibs and socks in less than 5 minutes despite it being pretty busy. I gave a couple pairs of Hoka One Ones a test drive but ended up not buying either. We probably spent 20 minutes total at the expo and it was more than enough time to see everything.


Race: The course is flat and fast, running through and around the Texas A&M University campus. Spectators in the last two miles were a little sparse which was disappointing but we were still riding the high from the crazy students screaming on campus. There were plenty of water stops and all of the volunteers were great. The finish is a sweet, sweet downhill and it was glorious. Both of us were pretty happy with the course and definitely will be back to run it again in the future.


Post-Race: This was probably the best post-race party I’ve experienced. There were pepperoni pizza rolls, a variety of breakfast tacos, cheeseburgers, margaritas, and beer. And not the crap beer that most races have; this was real, legitimate beer like Karbach’s Hopadillo Black IPA and Mother in Lager. And everything was free – EVERYTHING. It was fantastic.

Overall: I can’t recommend this race enough. Austin has a couple super hilly races in December but I don’t care for either of them [Decker has forever traumatized me]. BCS is held the same day as the Dallas Marathon so if that’s your usual December race I’d encourage you to stray from your comfort zone and give this one a try. The race director pours his heart and soul into this race, updating the Facebook page updated daily and personally responding to every question. Every aspect of this race is excellent.


photo credit: BCS Marathon Facebook Page

2014 Reach the Beach Relay: From Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach

It’s safe to say I’ve been bit by the relay bug. Or I’m certifiably insane. I’ll let you make the call on that one. Ragnar Cape Cod was an absolute blast and blew my expectations out of the water, which only made the excitement level rise for Hood to Coast in August. I soaked in every moment on each of my three legs in Oregon during HTC since it’ll probably be the only time I’m lucky enough to run that race. And by the time my flight home from Oregon touched down in Austin, plans were already in the works for relay #3 in 2014.

New Balance extended an invitation to be a part of their media team, Pumped Up Kicks, for the Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire. There were only three weeks between the two relays and while my legs were screaming “I don’t think so!” I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity. They went above and beyond all weekend, from outfitting us head-to-toe with apparel + shoes to making sure we had everything we needed [vans, snacks, safety gear, etc.] to get us to the finish line successfully. Every possible detail was taken care of and it made the race much less stressful than it could have been.

Now, let’s meet the members of Pumped Up Kicks!

Team Pumped Up Kicks - New Balance Factory

[Van 1] Jess // Carrie // Theodora // Gia // Christine // Melissa

[Van 2] Allie // Caitlin // Marissa // Melissa // me // Lorraine


From Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach

Reach the Beach -  Starting Line

RTB - Pumped Up Kicks Van 2

Leg 1 – 4.8 miles

I don’t know what my problem is, but for  some reason I get unreasonably nervous before my first leg of each relay. The thought of being Runner 1 or 6 seems absolutely horrifying. This was my first time being in Van 2 and… can’t say I loved it. There was a lot of ‘hurry up & wait’ and it felt like we were sitting around for most of the day. Needless to say, I was really anxious to get the hell out of the van by the time it was my turn to run. Melissa handed off the slap bracelet to me after finishing her leg uphill on a grassy knoll [rude] and I took off in the other direction.

The first half mile was a steep uphill and even though I wanted to haul ass to the top to get it over with, I kept a steady pace and tried not to waste energy. At the top we turned left on Chocorua Rd and then right on White Mountain Highway, where I’d stay for almost the rest of the leg. The views were GORGEOUS. I wanted to get my phone out and snap a few photos, but I knew I’d either [a] trip/fall trying to get my phone out of my belt or [b] have to stop to walk and never be able to start running again. Yes, I realize how dramatic option b is. My nerves were trying to get the best of me but I focused on the beautiful New Hampshire views and chatted with fellow racers along the way. I couldn’t get over how great I felt. I mean, the miles felt hard but my legs were handling them well and it was impossible to wipe the perma-grin off my face. Ahh, running. Sometimes you are oh-so-amazing.

The miles ticked away and before I knew it we were turning into White Lake State Park towards the transition. I came in slightly under my projected time [which previously felt a little ambitious] and sent Lorraine on her way to finish out our van’s first set of legs.
 Reach the Beach

Leg 2 – 8.8 miles

I mentioned in my Hood to Coast recap just how much I loved the night leg and wished it was longer. Welp, ask and you shall receive! We didn’t find out our leg assignments until the week before the race and when I saw the almost 9 mile leg, it instilled quite a bit of fear in me. The last time I ran that far was… January? My projected pace definitely felt ambitious for a leg this long, but I tried not to think about it.

Side note: I have to commend my vanmates for their dedication to support each runner during these night legs. Everyone was beyond tired and borderline cranky, but we all took turns driving and making sure the runner who was ‘on’ had everything they needed. 

I broke the leg up mentally into three 3-mile sections which somehow made it seem manageable. My teammates leapfrogged me in the van, waiting at miles 3 and 6, which gave me something to look forward to every half-hour. The first six miles were a freakin’ breeze. It was pitch black out and there were red blinky lights lining the road as far the eye could see. My legs were starting to feel a little fatigued at this point but the sun was starting to come up and I tried to just focus on the view to keep me moving along. By some sort of miracle I managed to cruise into the exchange right on time – despite all of those negative thoughts about the pace being too fast for a leg this long. Allie was the only one awake when I got back in the van so she was the lucky person who got to hear about how much I OMG LOVE RUNNING for 10 straight minutes without taking a single breath. 

New Balance RTB Relay - Team Pumped Up Kicks - Van 2

Leg 3 – 3.4 miles

Not even going to bother sugarcoating this: my last leg was MISERABLE. Sure, it was the shortest, the least hilly, and the sun was perfectly hidden behind the clouds. But it also came when my legs already had 13+ miles on them. They were done running, they had had enough. I boarded the struggle bus and slogged my way to Exchange 35, handing off to Lorraine for the last time and sent her on her way to Hampton Beach.

Reach the Beach - Pumped Up Kicks - Finish Line

Team Pumped Up Kicks - Van 2


I have to extend a HUGE thank you to New Balance [especially Mary + Caitlin, the dynamic duo who made the magic happen] for the opportunity to be a part of their media team for this year’s Reach the Beach Relay. They put together a stellar team of women to document the journey from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach and I couldn’t have asked for a better group! 

Double Digits + Reworking the Plan

Last night I overhauled our training plan for the Houston Marathon. Again.

Sunday long runs just weren’t working for us. The only thing we really enjoyed was the ability to sleep in on Saturday morning after a long work week filled with 3:45am alarms. Let’s not talk about how at 30 years old I now consider ‘sleeping in’ to be 7 or 8am. Any form of plans on Saturday night had to be turned down and the thunderstorms that kept showing up on Sunday morning meant we didn’t have another day to push the run to. Also, Brad plays softball on Thursday nights and most of the time doesn’t get home until 11pm. There is a 0% chance of him being able to run the following morning. We were constantly flip-flopping run days and it was frustrating not having a set schedule anymore. So things had to change.

Enter the Houston Marathon Training Plan, Version 2:

Houston Marathon 2015

I’m still toying with the idea of adding a 22-miler to the plan in Week 9. That would put our 20-miler the weekend after Thanksgiving and all of that delicious food would be great fuel for those miles. However, that would mean a 3-week build [rather than 2, which I prefer] so I don’t know. BCS isn’t a goal race so I don’t think we really need an official taper for it. We’ll just need to cross that bridge when we come to it. As long as we have one 20 under our belts before race day I’ll be happy.

Town Lake Boardwalk - Austin Sunrise

Last weekend we set out for 10 miles downtown around Town Lake. It should have been 12 but coming off of Ragnar Trail Hill Country the weekend before, 10 seemed like a more reasonable number for our trashed legs. The first 5 miles went by quicker than expected considering how heavy my legs felt and the pace was right where we wanted it to be. Around mile 6 the sun started to come up and we decided to take a water break during each mile. This dropped our overall pace a little bit but helped us finish out the run strong. Somehow mile 10 was our fastest one despite wanting to curl up into a ball and take a nap on the side of the trail. It’s been a LONG time since we’ve run double digits and I’m really happy with how well this one went. That being said, I fully expect to have a ridiculously awful 14-miler this weekend.

Town Lake - Downtown Austin Skyline

12 weeks and many, many miles to go!

Tuesday Things

About that relay… I’m still struggling to put together a recap for last month’s Reach the Beach. Ideally I’d like to keep it to one post so you’re not subjected to another multipart recap but it’s proving to be pretty difficult. Here’s the short version: it was awesome and I kinda-sorta-maybe unexpectedly fell in love with New Hampshire. In a “I could have a summer house here”, not in a “ooh, I’d like to live here year-round” type of way. My team was great, the views were gorgeous, the weather was perfect. It really couldn’t have been any better.

Reach the Beach - Pumped Up Kicks - Finish Line

Coming up next… I realllllly need to take care of the RTB recap because after this weekend, I’ll have another recap to write. For another relay. I mean, have I completely lost my mind? I voluntarily signed up for all of these but I’m sure it sounds crazy to run 3 relays in 3 months. This particular one, Ragnar Trail Hill Country, is a little bit different than a traditional Ragnar. We’ll be ditching the vans and replacing them with… no, not smaller cars: TENTS! Instead of leap-frogging one another for 200 miles from Point A to Point B, we’ll setup a base camp and each of us will alternate running 3 different trails until we’ve completed each once. That probably sounds confusing. I like visuals, maybe a picture will help?

Note: we are a ‘Regular’ team because I have not yet reached the level of crazy that one must possess to sign up for an ‘Ultra’ team.

Ragnar Trail - How It Works

The loop distance and difficulty varies by location [find one close to you here] but one aspect is always the same: you will be running on trails. Let me tell you a little bit about my history of trail running… Oh. Right. This will be my first trail race – ever. EXCITING. Brad and I hike a trail [it’s debatable whether or not you can even call it that] almost every weekend and sometimes I trip over tree roots in broad daylight. The thought of running on a trail in the darkness at 2am seems slightly terrifying. If I make it through this race upright it’ll be a damn miracle. Hopefully I’ll be able to tear myself away from monitoring every single footfall to catch a glimpse of those Hill Country views they speak so fondly of on the website.

Ragnar Trail Hill Country - Course Map

On internet life… Lately I’ve become increasingly aware of just how much of my life is out there on the internet. I knew when I signed up for Twitter and then published my first blog post in 2010 that that was likely the end of any semblance of privacy. You can search the internet and you will find me. Not on Facebook though, I have that locked down so hard that even my coworkers are like “I tried to send you a friend request on Facebook, do you even have Facebook?” Anyway, back to my story. It wasn’t surprising when someone from my past – who has absolutely no business being a part of my present – emerged and began attempting to contact me on various social media channels. They started with LinkedIn, then moved on to my work email, then called my work 10+ times a day only to hang up on my voicemail. They then discovered my blog and in turn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I know this because of all of exit links in my analytics report.

One night while stalking my Instagram they accidentally ‘liked’ one of my photos and then had a ‘holy shit, I messed up’ moment and promptly ‘unliked’ it. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t on my phone at the time – but I was. BUSTED. Instagram is now on private. Tear. This person also started reposting photos of my sister’s family to their own Instagram account. (!!) Seriously creepy. I’m not entirely sure they understand how Pinterest works either, because they repinned several of my pins, which obviously I can see. Pinterest is the probably the least of my worries – it’s a bunch of photos from the Internet pinned to categorized boards. But I blocked them anyway, because why not? I left my Twitter account on public because I really have nothing to hide on there. Over the weekend I had tweeted about the UT/OU game and this person then proceeded to retweet a few things about OU winning the game. This person has never showed ANY interest in college football, let alone anything to do with a team close to where I live.

I never really cared much about my analytics until this whole fiasco. I don’t have a ton of traffic but I know who reads my blog back at home and where they live. I began seeing extended visits from two locations that I knew were associated with this super creeper. And over the course of 3 days, they spent over 7 hours going through my archives. And then began checking my blog [and multiple times a day] for new content. Did you know you can block IP addresses? Helpful information. The only social media stream left for them to see is my blog’s Facebook page. The views are up. WAY up. Directly related, undoubtedly. Unfortunately for them, most of my activity on FB is sharing links to new blog posts. Good luck accessing them, stalker, with your blocked IP address.

I’m kind of blown away by the situation. If I won’t return your phone calls, text messages, or emails … why would you think I’d respond to you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest? Take a goddamn hint and move on with your life. It’s embarrassing.

Go Away Stalker

On marathon training… Remember when I was talking about how “life happens” and our marathon training schedule may need to be tweaked accordingly? I didn’t anticipate having to change it so early in the game. The entire first week was plagued with thunderstorms. It rains in Texas, like, twice a year. And never on consecutive days. But the rain from mid-September completely washed out [heh, see what I did there?] Week 1. Rude. The following week was a struggle to get back on track and I had to flip around our long run mileage until it looked like a feasible build up. Such a pain in the ass. This past weekend we had our long run scheduled for Saturday morning and it monsooned/thunderstormed from 1am through almost noon. We moved it to Sunday, even though we’d be out late the night before at a hockey game drinking beer and eating crappy food. Halfway into our run [with a forecasted 4% chance of rain] the skies opened up and we were stuck in a torrential downpour. Hopefully this type of luck doesn’t carry through the rest of the cycle.


And So It Begins

Marathon training, that is.

To be honest, I didn’t think another marathon was in my future. The idea of it seemed fun as I tracked fellow runners’ training and PRs each spring and fall. I wanted to run the five boroughs in New York, snag a fresh PR on the flat streets of Chicago or even tackle the endless hills in Austin. But in the end it was apparent I wasn’t interested in actually training for a marathon: I was just interested in the idea of it. Philly 2012 had stolen my marathon mojo and it took almost two years before I felt comfortable committing to the distance again.

September 15, 2014 :: Training for the Houston Marathon Begins 

There’s just something about a freshly [somewhat]-finalized training plan that gets me excited about the months to come. I’ve tweaked the colors, researched tune-up races and pondered the pros + cons of running more than one 20-miler. Last week I decided to shift our running schedule from Mon/Tues/Thurs/Sat to Tues/Wed/Fri/Sun, mostly so we could spend Sunday afternoon on the couch with Shiners free of guilt. Can’t say I’m 100% sold on the plan because the idea of running long on Saturday morning and having the rest of the weekend free is incredibly appealing. But based on our track record when it comes to dinner and a not-so-early bedtime on Friday night, Sunday miles will most likely be a better decision than Saturday ones.

The one major difference between this plan and plans of the past is the number of running days. I’ve generally steered clear of running back-to-back days because that seemed to be when my shin splints would flare up, resulting in time off and training setbacks. After registering for Houston, I wanted to make a conscious effort to add an additional running day each week. In order to do this safely, I added an extra day every other week for two months, followed by every week for another two months and never upped my mileage by more than 10% from week to week. This may have been overly cautious but in the end it was successful so I don’t regret spending the time on it. Over the past few months I also paid attention to my cadence and stopped over-striding, which in turn eliminated that evil all-too-familiar heel strike.

On the other hand, this slow progression also resulted in something I’m not all that excited about: loss of speed. I’ve never been anything remotely close to ‘fast’ but to see what my overall pace is now compared to what it used to be is depressing. And of course running in the summer isn’t helping my spirits either. Once the weather cools down [November? December? Marathon day?] we’ll be transitioning our Wednesday run to a speedwork session. The internet tells me that if you want to run fast, you have to train fast. And if it’s on the internet, it MUST be true.

I’ll stop rambling now and give you the most important piece of the puzzle: the official Houston Marathon 2015 Training Plan:

Houston Marathon - Weeks 1-9

Houston Marathon - Weeks 10-18

18 weeks may seem a long to some, but I like having the flexibility in case life happens and we need to reschedule a run. There isn’t much wiggle room in a 12 week plan and that makes me nervous. I’m sure the mid-week runs will get adjusted along the way as well, but for now I erred on the side of caution and kept the mileage manageable. It didn’t make sense to come out of the gate with an ambitious plan which will inevitably set us up for failure. The primary goal as of right now is to cross that finish line successfully.

Houston, I’ll see you in January.

Hood to Coast: The Main Event

Race morning, as they all do, started bright and early. I had an alarm set for 3:45am but was awake well before that due to paranoia of missing the alarm. This is pretty much the scene that plays out the night before every single one of my races. Elisabeth, Sean, Jenny, Eric and I sleepily met in the lobby to wait for Casey and Arielle from Nuun Hydration. They picked us up from the hotel at 4:30am and we were off to the starting line at Mt. Hood!

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Drive to Mt Hood

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Start photo credit: Arielle

The energy at the start was electric and I just could not get over the fact that I was about to FINALLY run Hood to Coast. Only a certain type of runner will get excited to spend 30+ hours in a van with sweaty strangers. The weather was a little foggy and overcast so Mt. Hood was hidden behind the clouds the entire time we were at the top.

Elisabeth was our leadoff runner and took off down the mountain at 10:15am. She cruised through her 5.65 mile leg under the projected time and then Jenny set out on Leg 2, followed by Eric, Sean, and Arielle.

HTC Relay - Exchange 1

HTC Relay - Jenny and Sean - Leg 1

Leg 1 – 6.97 miles

In the weeks leading up to the race I tried to read recaps of the legs I’d be running and review tips on HTC’s Facebook page from runners who had tackled the same miles in years past. One recurring comment was to prepare for traffic leading up to the exchange and this was no exaggeration. From the point where I got of the van until the actual exchange, it was about 3/4 of a mile. Casey walked with me and the one thing I remember distinctly is being incredibly quiet. For some reason I was ridiculously nervous and this was causing my heart to race. 80 degrees with 90% humidity at 3:45am in the dark is what I’m good at. Having the mid-afternoon sun beating down on you, despite how warm it is, is another animal entirely.

Arielle had [unsurprisingly – she’s a total badass] beasted through her leg and came flying into the exchange just after 2pm. She slapped the bracelet on my wrist and I set off to conquer my first leg. A majority of the first mile was spent trying to get my heart rate down and breathing under control. By mile 2 I was in good shape and riding my “I’m running Hood to Coast!!” high. Just after my watch clicked over to 4, the wheels fell off. It was a struggle from there on out and I was so damn happy to see all 11 of my teammates at Exchange 6 and hand off to Kevin.

Jenny navigated us to Laurelwood Brew Pub for dinner and our first real meal of the day. She then skyrocketed her way to the top of everyone’s “Favorite Person Ever” list by offering up her house as a place for us to rest, shower, and basically enjoy the extra room that the van sorely lacked. I spent a majority of the time there laying in the hallway with my legs up the wall and my eyes shut.

HTC Relay - Portland ExchangeExchange 13 in Portland
photo credit: Rachel

All of our night legs went off without a hitch, with the exception of a random man who barked at Elisabeth during her leg. There were some interesting characters in that particular area of Portland. During Sean’s leg I started to get really tired, so when Arielle [and Casey] took off for her leg we made a stop to grab ice for the drink cooler and some sort of caffeinated beverage for me. I settled on a Starbucks Double Shot Coffee that ended up being too sweet and too heavy, but overall got the job done.

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Exchange 17

Leg 2 – 5.23 miles

I don’t know if it was the legs up the wall or what, but this leg was magical. It felt like my first run of the day. Sure, there was a lot of climbing but it was only 60 degrees so I really didn’t care. The quietness of the night was so peaceful and I kind of wished it was a couple miles longer. We weaved through a neighborhood a few times and I was so grateful for all of the volunteers working through the middle of the night, letting us know where to turn. I loved every minute of Leg 18.

Walking back to the car someone mentioned to prepare for a shitty ride to Exchange 24 [where we would sleep + wait for the handoff from Van 2] and I didn’t quite understand how the traffic could be that bad at 3am. At some point, for a reason that’s still unknown, the exchange was shut down and no longer letting any vans inside. We sat in the same spot for over 2 hours. I would sleep intermittently and every time I opened my eyes we hadn’t moved an inch. Casey somehow managed to keep himself occupied in the driver’s seat the entire time – I don’t know what we would have done without him! We should have had 3-4 hours to sleep at the exchange but by the time we actually pulled in and parked? It was only 30 minutes.

With it being everyone’s last leg, we made a point to stop mid-way on each runner’s run to cheer and cowbell excessively for them, providing an energizing boost to help them push through the suck. And after Arielle crushed a monster hill on one of the hardest legs of the course, we set up finish line tape made of toilet paper for her to break through [the video at the end caught that gem]

HTC Relay - Eric - Leg 3
Leg 3 – 5.43 miles

This wasn’t pretty. I take that back – the actual leg was GORGEOUS and definitely the most scenic of the three I ran. My legs were toast at this point and the only thing keeping me going was the fact that the finish line [ahem, beach + beer] was oh so close.

And with that, Van 1 of Team Wild Berry was officially DONE!

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Team

HTC Relay - Leg Check Marks

As glorious as a shower sounded once we arrived in Seaside, everyone opted to venture down to the Biergarten instead. Hashtag priorities. A couple Widmer Upheavals later we heard our anchor, Liz, was almost done so we headed to the finish to cross as a team. This was an incredibly bittersweet moment: so proud + happy to have those 200 miles behind us, but so sad our HTC experience was coming to a close.

HTC Relay - Team Wild Berry - Finish Line    photo credit: Eric

HTC Relay - Team Wild Berry - Finish Line Beers photo credit: Eric

And the TL;DR :: My teammate Eric put together the video below that recaps our race fantastically in a short 3 minutes:


An Ode to Nuun Hydration

I have to thank Megan Fay for one of the best weekends of my life. She worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure a successful experience for all of the ambassadors. If any issues or problems arose, we knew nothing of it. From the second I stepped off the plane in SeaTac on Thursday to my sad departure back to Austin on Sunday, every single detail was taken care of and perfectly executed by Megan. She worked her ass off to ensure everything went off without a hitch and I know every single one of us appreciated her hard work.

Nuun Hydration was the key to our success throughout the entire race. A company is only as strong as their team and I have to say – Nuun has an incredibly strong group of people working for them. [Kevin – hold on to ALL of them!] I hesitate to use the word “working” because every single person seemed to sincerely enjoy what they do. And that’s the dream, right – to love what you do? They’re a perfect example of this.

Thank you to our excellent van drivers – Casey, Jay, Kevin and Vishal – who signed up to be the navigators and had to deal with some of the worst HTC traffic in recent years. Thank you to the Nuun employees – Arielle, Megan, Zoë and Kim – who completed each of our vans and rocked every single leg. We couldn’t have made it across the finish line without each and every one of you!

I am so honored to represent Nuun Hydration and grateful to have been offered a spot to race with them at Hood to Coast. It was truly the experience of a lifetime.