RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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Taper Time

Holy smokes, folks (you like that? I’m a poet), it’s Taper Time (a side of alliteration with my rhyme please). This weekend’s run was the final 20 miler before the slow wind down to the BIG DAY. And it was a doozy.

Because Jen had things like a family vacation to deal with (the nerve, right?!), we moved up the long run to Friday. Let’s just say that encountering a long line of people marching carrying a large wooden cross the final miles of our 20 gives some indication what the run felt like. No, I am not comparing the run to the pain of Christ hanging on a cross and dying for our sins. But Jesus also never ran a marathon. Just sayin’…Now that I’ve offended my readers, the details.

We decided to go with the Prairie Path in Elmhurst and head west. The idea of pounding pavement for 20 miles–even if it was Salt Creek–or replicating that hideous Waterfall Glen run seemed awful. While I did appreciate the somewhat softer crushed limestone, the ruts in the path from bikers (*shakes fist in fury) for 3+ hours did a number on my ankles. Many of the regular port-a-potties that are on the path weren’t there. There were no unseemly accidents, but there were some moments of irritation for sure.

Normally, path running is great and helps the time go by faster. However, the lack of visual markers of distance passing (like blocks or different houses) has made recent path/trail runs feel excruciatingly long. I forgot my Garmin for the run and had to rely on Jen (what is with me and my forgetting the watch lately?!). We all groaned when we hadn’t even gotten to 3 miles, and you know it’s bad when you have to use Gu stops to help break up the run. We never hit a groove and were working the whole time, moaning and groaning. Constantly asking Jen the mileage (ok, that was just me). We all complained how we had had so much anxiety about the run before and had secretly hoped we’d be relieved it wasn’t that hard. WRONG. It sucked. AND, we even debated cutting the run short. Patty pointed out, though, that all that time and energy worrying about the 20 would have been wasted if we didn’t actually do the 20. I know, it’s not exactly logical yet it makes perfect sense. So we did the stupid 20.

The upside is that we had alot of time to talk about some things going on in our lives, and we were all miserable. I think I would have tripped Patty or Jen if one of them was having a great run. But we were in sync with it being just a bad run.

We did get some delicious coffee at Eliajh’s, which is right by where we started. Let’s just say, though, it took several attempts and not until after coffee, that we got a picture of us smiling.

Elijah’s is a cute local coffee shop, and they feature local artists. This was an exhibit featuring work from a local art school using coffee as a medium. Clever. I will make sure to say that it’s art when I hand back my students’ papers with coffee on it in the future.

It’s rough having such a crap run, but we got through it. And we got through it together. We talked a lot about not having time goals for Boston, which really helps knock off some of the pressure. Reinforcing the idea of having a good time and just enjoying our time there is helpful. I honestly don’t know that I’ve had such a huge chunk of my training be so hard before. I feel like if this were a better blog, I’d list a top 10 list of things to do when training is not going great. Alas, this is just my blog. So THIS is what I do…

Homemade drumstick cone made with custard from the local shop. Drown misery in sugar. Life lessons learned the hard way. And it’s the best way, ha. Seriously, I was so excited to see that the local custard shop was already open for the season. Hole in the Wall Custard Shoppe. MMMMM. The tots were pretty pumped about it as well.

The rest of the weekend was filled with family time. It was pretty sunny and nice for most of it, so we took the kite out.

And this munchkin even dressed up for Easter (just for the record, we don’t even really celebrate Easter and the dress is a hand-me-down). We felt like we had a mix-up, cuz she does not clean up like that ever. Especially the ponytail!

This was her the previous evening.

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After much anxiety, I finally also got my Boston Marathon passport and registration stuff. I had seen a couple other bloggers post pics of their materials online before I got mine. Even though I know I’m in and I will be getting the stuff, it made me nervous to not get it the same day as some other folks. It’s pretty awesome. Seriously, it’s getting real folks!

I am relieved that we are finally rounding the last bend on this journey. I think I have to remember to try and enjoy it as much as I can. I worked so hard the last couple of years to reach this point. And even if my training hasn’t been everything I’ve wanted, it will be enough. I will finish Boston, hopefully with my friends. I just need to trust the training and trust myself. And revel in the taper 🙂

Onward and upward, friends!


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When your long run sucks

This weekend was the first 20 miler of this training cycle. Because this cycle has been so off, I’ve been dreading this run. Patty and Jen also had not been looking forward to it, and the run took quite a bit of finagling since one of us had childcare issues. All of Patty’s talk about hill training and my final examination of Boston’s elevation map convinced us to head out to Waterfall Glen.

We got a little crew going for our Saturday morning. Ayesha (first from left) only did one loop with us. She’s training with Every Mother Counts for the Big Sur Marathon Relay, so she needed some hills as well. Kelly, second from left, did an earlier loop and ran her second loop with us on our first. She’s also doing the Ice Age 50k.

Here’s a less posed shot, where we look much more excited than we actually felt. Poor Jen got cut off.

The big joke starting out was that nobody had their watch on them (well, none of us that ran the two loops together. Ironically, Kelly and Ayesha did.). I had my Garmin, but for some reason the battery was almost dead. It didn’t really matter as we had a rough sense of the distance, just over 9.5 miles for a loop, but we all know it doesn’t count if it’s not on the Garmin.

The first loop was ok. I was grateful for Kelly’s Garmin as I could tell we were above pace for most of it. I love Jenny, but she can’t pace herself at all and she’s inclined towards speed. She led the group, so I was constantly hollering to pull it back. The Garmin helped validate my sense of pace. We decided to head out on the trail clockwise first, which meant we headed into Big Berth (a 125 foot climb over a half mile, between mile markers 4 and 5) uphill. I’ve found it helps to reverse the route for a second loop to keep things fresh. Knowing that Big Bertha is more uphill clockwise, I opted to have us head into it on our first loop when our legs were fresher. I can not say it helped us tremendously. Sigh. It never felt easy. I never hit a groove with the run. It was just straight plodding. The funniest quote from the run, though, “What the heck is that? It sounds like a fire alarm.” “Frogs.” City kids. The frogs were definitely in a dither heralding in spring for us. It broke up the monotony of the brown woods a bit.

We took a short break at the end of the first loop to send off Kelly and Ayesha, refuel, and take a bathroom break. It took a lot of self-talk, cajoling, and mutual harassment to get going again. For me, it kind of went downhill from there. The whole second loop was a struggle. I felt like I was constantly out of breath, the hills felt like mountains, and I went to a bad place mentally. I also almost had an emergency bathroom break in the woods, but a fellow runner told me we weren’t far from a port-a-potty when she saw me break into the woods. There is a port-a-potty midway along the loop, which we were still at least a mile from (and I couldn’t wait for), but this was one at one of the parking lots less than a half mile from where I stopped. I had high hopes for that bathroom break to renew my spirits. Alas, t’was not to be. After initial sense of relief, it was back to plodding.

I lagged behind the group for a good chunk of the run, and Patty held back with me. I have no idea what pace we were going, but Emily, Jen, and Jenny were pushing faster than I felt I wanted or could go. We were all having a rough time of it, evidenced by the minimal talking on the run (5-7 women on a run and silence? Unheard of!). That trio, though, believes more in the “end the misery faster” school of thought. Whereas, I tend to believe it will be worse if you try to push yourself faster through a tough run. Patty was with me, and we coached each other through walk breaks, hills, and the run overall. She even stopped to take a couple photos of me to break it up 🙂

THIS is where I started really wishing Boston was over. I wanted to walk so much more than I did, but marathoners (at least most of the ones I know) are firm believers in running the distance. Any walking is seen as a cop-out or not “really” counting. Ultra/trail runners seem to follow more of the “time on your feet” thinking, so whether you’re walking or running, you’re moving and covering the ground. I hated that whole battle of “I can do it” and “I want to lay down right now.” Really, without Patty, I think I would have walked the last 2 miles in. Which would have only prolonged the agony. And made me even more insecure and self-doubting, so thanks Patty!

In all honesty, I was having some trouble with the ankles/Achilles on the hills, particularly downhill, so I will be headed to see Craig this week.

I had to laugh, though, when we finally hauled it back in to the trailhead and this is what we saw.

Yup, 21st century folks. 3 individuals tired from a hard 20 milers documenting their tiredness for social media. Gotta love it. I was jealous they got to lay down. And for convoluted reasons, I had to drive Patty’s car home while everyone moaned about feeling nauseous and sharing photos. I drove in sullen depression. Quite a great run.

Most of us, I found out later, lay around the house for several hours in a general nauseated malaise. There were rumors that someone may have thrown up in their mouth during the run as well. God, running is so sexy. Despite all this trauma/drama, most of us were out at a mutual friend’s 40th birthday party. And just to show, I can clean myself up once in a blue moon (literally), here’s a nice shot of me and Jen not running or in sweaty workout clothes.

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I also spent part of Sunday shoving my face full of these delicious dumplings. They’re called wahng mahndoo (that is my phonetic spelling), which translates into something like king dumplings and are sold from a little shack outside of Joong Boo Foods (Korean supermarket) in Chicago. $2 each and they were huge. Of course, I ate 2. The one on the left is black rice with sweet bean, and the one on the right is kimchi. They also had a pork one that was already eaten by one of the kids. So good. I texted my friend when I was at the store to see if she needed anything. She requested 4 dumplings and nothing else when she heard I was there. Ha.

Anyhow, so what do you do when you have a crap run?

a. Ignore it and pretend it never happened (my family’s go-to reaction to anything difficult)

b. Look in the mirror, practice a winner’s smile, and say out loud to yourself, “Gosh darn it, you work hard, you look strong, and people like you.”

c. Give up running altogether as you’ve realized it’s not right for you after all.

d. Moan, groan, and bellyache about it to anyone who will listen, and then move the f* on. It’s a run, not world hunger, or nuclear disarmament. You could even try some Vonnegut on it, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

You can try and guess what I should do. What would YOU do?

P.S. Can we talk for a minute about how daylight savings it the curse of all parents? Got up at 7:30 this morning with one kid missing the bus, so a frenzy of lunch-packing, clothes-changing, and general chaos. Sigh.


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Been too long

Ok, so it’s been the LONGEST time since I last posted. I’m not gonna lie. I’m in a funk. Between feeling burnt out crispy with running, teaching 3 nights a week back to back (for 4+ hours), and the winter, it’s been tough. Just to give you a sense of what that means, here’s an exchange I had with Jen last night. I guess she and Jenny had a discussion about me during yesterday’s long run. I was in DC for the weekend so I did my long run earlier in the week (more on that in a bit).

Do you like how her offer of “taking me out” gets meet with immediate suspicion? Although, on the flipside, do you like how Jen downgraded the “taking you out” part to just all going out? Gotta love my friends, right? But seriously, it’s nice to know that people care enough to make sure I don’t go off the deep end.

I’m in DC for the weekend, really 36 hours for some English teacher conference planning (neeeeeerds, I know). Anyhow, I had the opportunity to meet Tracey last year at the same planning meeting and she was pregnant at the time, but we got to talking about running. We ACTUALLY got to run together this time since baby has since exited the womb and she’s back running. She just did a half marathon last month! Admittedly, she tried to duck me about running early Sunday morning, but I convinced her 🙂 AND, this makes her officially my first running buddy from traveling on the blog. Woohoo! So here we are at the mall. You may remember a similar (solo) picture from this run/trip last year.

And of course, we had to stop by and see the Obama’s. They had coffee ready for us.

And to top it all off for fabulousness, I got a free extra drink after the run! I was asking about the “flat white” drink at Starbucks (not my preferred caffeinated beverage vendor, but the only thing open in our neck of the woods). I’m not sure if they were being very generous or just confused, but I got both my almond milk cap and flat white! Extra caffeine is never a bad thing. Also, I tend to get “fancy” drinks only after a run. I’m all about the black coffee otherwise.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Ha. I forgot. During our run I saw a black squirrel, and I commented to Tracey that we don’t see those in Illinois, and did they have them in Arizona. “Uh, is that like a groundhog?” So, no, they don’t have squirrels everywhere like the midwest. Furthermore, Tracey said “I run by javelinas and coyotes, is that like the same thing?” Um, no. Differences in running around the country!

Because I didn’t feel like finagling a 12+ mile run out of town when our time was so booked, I decided to do my long run Thursday. To try and shake things up, I decided to head out to the hills and trails of Waterfall Glen. There was a threatened fierce blizzard Wednesday night, but that didn’t really manifest. There WAS snow on the ground, though. You can see some of the path was less travelled than others. It was gorgeous and quiet. Really beautiful, and the sun started to come out. I’ve also been realizing that running in snow might help your form, but that’s another post.

The snow was powdery enough, and the trail was probably clear before the “storm,” so I decided against the Yak Trax and went with my trail shoes. I wish they were more water-resistant as my feet did get wet, but I definitely didn’t find myself missing the Trax. With the exception of some squishing around from the soft snow, I didn’t have much issue running in it. Of course, I also visited one of my favorite port-a-potties. Right around the halfway point 🙂

I also realized that I haven’t run much at Waterfall Glen in the winter. I’ve run it in the fall and early spring, but with all of the snow we’ve gotten the last couple of winters it’s been tricky trying to get any decent running there in February. With all of the foliage gone, though, I stopped around mile 5 because I noticed the foundations of an old building. I think usually there are at least some leaves covering easy viewing of it, even though it’s just a few feet from the path. I think it might be the remains of the Old Lincoln Park Nursery on this map? I did see another building ruin a bit further later on the run as well, so I’m not sure. Still, it was cool to see something that I’ve run by so many times before. Forcing myself to do hill work at Big Bertha? Not cool. But I was channeling my inner Patty Herrera (who’s obsessing about Boston’s hills) to get out there and do it.


I really did need that long run as a break from the routine, and my run with Tracey this morning. This face just about sums up how I’ve been feeling lately, both about running and life in general.

I thought about doing some very bloggery “Top 10 Things to Do to Shake Up Your Run,” but I’m a lazy blogger. So here’s a couple things, 1) Take a break. Cut yourself some slack and go do something else. 2) Try running somewhere new or WITH someone new. If you feel like you’re in a rut or routine, do something to shake it up.

There. I know. Life changing. But get out there and do something. Nobody’s making you run, so if it’s not fun, do something else. Just keep moving.


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Spending time on self care

Women can be bad at self care (yes, I know it’s an overgeneralization). Moms are even worse. Running moms the worst. One way I know this is even the targeted health advertisements I see for women to get mammograms or other screenings, and the advertisement is spun as a “You take care of everyone else, but you also need to take care of yourself in order to do that.” As a mom, you put your own needs and sometimes health behind others (ask any mom what happens when they are “sick”). As runners, we’re even more prone to ignore aches and pains until it’s too late. I get the extra awesomeness of being Korean and having grown up with self-employed parents–read: having minimal insurance/access to doctors–so I don’t go to the doctor when I’m sick or for much in general. Just to give you an idea, my dad slipped/fractured a disk in his neck and ended up having major surgery, wearing a halo brace, and being out of work for a year. And he didn’t go to the hospital, in fact SLEPT on the injury, until the next day.

So yeah, learning to ignore pain and what my body wants or needs runs pretty deep. Recently, Craig (my myofascial guy) gave me a long lecture about how I really needed to work on self care to keep myself injury-free. I couldn’t just ignore stretching, etc. And he may have muttered a thing or two about aging…

And the fact of the matter is that I’m not 25 and gutting out my first marathon through excruciating pain and thinking it’ll all go back the way it’s supposed to in the morning…or in 3-4 months since I refused to run for awhile after that first marathon.

Whereas before, I used to not understand what people meant by this “warming up” before running they would do, and I had no idea what a foam roller was until my second marathon. Oh, and I started training for my first marathon in cotton. A lot has changed. I still don’t warm up, but I do sometimes stick my legs (meaning I use “the stick” or “tiger tail” to massage my legs a bit) and do some dynamic pre-emptive stretching before a run. I wear compression religiously to ward off “something” much like garlic for vampires. I spend more intimate time with my foam roller than I do with my husband. And I’ve always been good at stretching afterwards, but it was only for at most 5 minutes. Craig was talking about spending some serious time getting into the tightness, maybe backing off the mileage, and doing more yoga and other activities.

The brat in me wants to stomp my foot and go, “REALLY?! You want me to do MORE STUFF to be able to keep doing the stuff I’ve always been doing?” Um, yes. As much as I hate to admit it, my body has changed. And my threshold for discomfort has lowered. Don’t get me wrong, I can take pain like no one’s business (hello, two natural child births), but I’ve begun to realize more and more that I don’t HAVE to. And maybe I SHOULDN’T (yes, this post is all about caps). Maybe that’s wisdom. Or just being an adult.  

14 miles in 2 degrees. i can take pain.


I see this in other areas of my life. The other night, I crashed hard at 7:30. After a brutally cold 14 miles starting at 6:15 am, my body was done for the day early. I demanded a lot from it, and it wanted a lot in return. I actually debated forcing myself to stay up. Watch bad shows. Read. Putz on the interwebs. As if some “cool patrol” was watching me and assessing my dork factor for going to bed on a Saturday night so early. But no one was watching. I was the only one who had to face the consequences of my actions. So I went to bed. I slept a solid 11 hours.

I have begun to realize more and more that if I don’t take care of myself, I will be one miserable runner, mom, wife, and educator. And I will make the lives of those around me miserable. And that doesn’t have to happen.

So I go to bed early. I call people when I’m struggling with my depression. I go to yoga. And… I drop down running plans. Boom.

Yup, I decided to move from the 5 day/week running plan to the 4 day/week. My body isn’t happy with what I’m doing or have been doing. Something needs to change. And for some insane reason, it freaks me out to admit it to myself and change the plan, and admit it to others. Even though no one is judging me for it, and most of my running friends would encourage me to be healthy and do what my body needs. But there’s a sick little devil on my shoulder that tells me that I’m not a REAL runner if I’m not cranking out 50+ miles a week. If I’m not running 5-6 days a week. If I’m not running a sub 8:00/mile on the daily. If I don’t make the top X percent. So you push and “dig deep” until your well is empty and you are spiritually or physically broken.

No thanks.

I’ve been there and done that. And I don’t need to go back.

But that’s taken me a long long time to learn. And it’s definitely progress, not perfection. It’s the long view. Boston was once a bucket list for me. And now that it’s on the horizon, I want to make sure that I can actually run it. I don’t know if I’ll run it more than once, so I want to make sure all my crazy work the last two years actually means something. I take it back, it DOES mean something whether I get to run Boston or not (as of right now, btw, there’s nothing to stop me but myself). That I can work hard, attain my goals, and bust my guts doing it. And regardless of what happens at Boston, I’ll know I did good and I’ll be with friends. *cue soaring, inspirational music* But that only happens if I’m healthy and strong enough to get to the starting line. And that only happens if I listen to my body and take care of myself.

Even the elite runners do this. Deanna Kastor pulled out of the Olympic Trials pretty last minute, and Kara Goucher said she “left it all out there,” but it wasn’t enough to make the Olympic Team (although since she was 4th, she’ll be the official alternate). Even Desi Linden, who pulled an amazing second half of the marathon, said she had to trust her plan and not punch it in the first half to keep up with Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan (and that plan is what got her to pass Shalane just within the last mile or so and nab second). Amazing. So even the elites have to listen to what their bodies and spirits need.

Sorry if this post was all over the place, but I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to figure out what I need and how to keep myself healthy on lots of fronts. I didn’t have a great foundation for those things growing up, so it’s new terrain. Anyhow, hope you all had a great run this weekend, whatever your plan was.

 


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Happy National Paczki Day!

I had trouble sleeping last night, so I got up at 5:20 am and headed to the local bakery because today is NATIONAL PACZKI DAY! If you don’t know what a paczki is or don’t live near a bakery that makes them, I am sorry for you. It’s essentially a lighty, airy donut with a filling. For your viewing pleasure, here’s the breakdown of the dozen I got: fresh strawberry, custard, chocolate, and cheese.

If you live in the Chicago area, with its huge Polish population, you  know it’s a big deal. Even knowing that, and knowing the bakery opens at 5 am, I was still taken aback by how busy it was. Line to the door. One woman had even pre-ordered 12 dozen. That’s right, 12×12=144 paczki.

I’ve decided to indulge today and seriously shift my diet starting tomorrow (I know, I know). I don’t own a scale, but I think I’ve gained a little bit of weight. Hardly “racing weight.” So I’m cutting sugar (sigh) and wheat (not grains, but I eat too much wheat and it’s pretty processed–plus I get more creative and veggie-heavy when I cut it. I need to start taking my training a little more seriously. Keep me accountable, folks, and chime in!

Which brings me to training. We did our long run out at Morton Arboretum this weekend. Some serious hills. Well, as serious as you can get around here anyway…

I was annoyed, though, I forgot my Garmin and had to use my Strava. My pace looks like it’s all over the place because a) it was, haha, and b) I didn’t pause it for potty breaks, general confusion, etc.

This lovely crew!

We did a couple loops, and the second time we passed this bench, I made us take a picture. How could I not force a bunch of awesome, strong women NOT pose on it? You can see that some felt “stronger” than others. Ha.

And just to give you a window into how crazy distance runners are, someone in this picture had fallen earlier in the run (don’t text and run over a pothole) and broken two fingers and finished the run without much complaint. She didn’t know it was broken, and none of us took it that seriously. There may have been a doctor in the group as well…although to be fair, she’s an infectious disease specialist. Runners really are insane.

The rest of the weekend was pretty fun. I finished up a multi-week project, reusing all of our old broken restaurant crayons to make Lego crayons for Valentine’s giveaways. Ok, so actually making them was NOT fun (i.e., oven burns are the gift that keeps on giving. The initial burn hurts, but then every time anything other than cold water hits it, it hurts again.), but seeing the end results was pretty rockin’. And usually, I’m the mom that barely remembers to even get cards, but I’d seen something similar (except in heart shapes) and I’ve been itching to find a way to use all the free crayons we get from restaurants, random holidays, etc. I find purging things so satisfying.

We also went to a local establishment for our annual lobster eating. Every year, a bar near us has a lobster special, one whole lobster for $12.99, around Valentine’s. I don’t love lobster, but it’s fun to do now and then, especially for so cheap. My husband, who grew up spending some time in the summer at his grandparents’ place in Maine, LOVES lobster and always goes on about the lobstermen fishing them straight out of the ocean and bringing it to their table. THIS is definitely not that, but it’s an affordable way to eat some lobster and relive some of those memories. We also discovered that the youngest one also likes lobster. And yes, I know that’s not how you really eat lobster.

Anyhow, it snowed an inch or two last night which will probably kick today’s intervals/tempo (2×2 marathon pace miles) indoors. Chatted with Bill today, and he was talking about how important speedwork was in helping you work on form and activate your glutes and such. I’ve been ignoring the speed workouts as I’ve been trying to deal with my various tightnesses and wonkiness, but it’s time to put it back in. I re-shifted the training plan a bit, but more on that next blog. In the meanwhile, happy running!


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Easing back 

Let’s start with some Monday morning cuteness. The littlest one and I had some special bonding time over hot dogs. And if you’re from Chicago, you know that it’s “criminal” to put ketchup on your dogs. Felony Franks is a local hot dog place that hires formerly incarcerated folks to help them get employment skills, work history, etc. It’s difficult getting employed often when you have a record. Some people find the “theme” of the place somewhat controversial, but it works for me. I don’t see a whole lot of other folks lining up to give jobs to this population so I’m all for it.

I feel like I should clarify a bit, that I don’t (according to my main men, Bill and Craig) have plantar fasciitis, but just an irritated, annoyed part of my plantars. I’m actually going to talk a bit more about my issues and running form next post, but I did want to throw that out there.

I did a bunch of shorter runs last week with little issue, so I decided to make the big plunge (with Craig’s blessing) to do the longer run. I was shooting for 8 at the minimum, 10-12 in my dream world. I ended up just shy of 10. My left ankle was starting to tighten up, so I decided to not press my luck.

We were going to run the Salt Creek Trail, but portions of the trail looked like this (thanks for the photo, Jen!). Big chunks of it were pretty clear, but we didn’t love the idea of doing a start-stop run for a couple of hours, AND it was slow going inching our way around/through the ice.

We ended up running through the neighborhoods around the trail. It wasn’t too bad. And even though some of us don’t even drink, I couldn’t resist making us take a photo with this sign outside a bar. I’m curious if it really IS a thing, or just a random sign.

It was a fun run, albeit a bit crazy trying to stitch together. Folks were running everywhere from 8-16 miles, so it got slapped together at 10 pm the night before, and some of us drove to a meeting point and others ran there. I gotta say, I was jealous getting back in my car and seeing the others run home. Sigh. Sooooooon…

Because I was having a little flare up of tightness in my ankles and my feet, I went crazy with my new rubber ball massager thing. Arguably, a little too crazy as I rubbed off one of the nubs. Oops. Ignore the gross fuzz and dust on the ball. I have small humans, they are messy.


The rest of the weekend was fun and included a trip to the Arboretum and a bowling outing (I WON! I know, I’m overly competitive and beating my husband and 6 y.o. aren’t exactly brag-worthy. Still.). I couldn’t resist this photo, which was slightly staged. The kids were not trying to hold hands. They were trying to touch my feet, which were splayed out in the middle of the aisle and just out of view of the photo. It was so adorable, though, that I took it anyway. Happy Monday!


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California Dreaming

I’ve been sitting on this post for months. Literally. But, with the cold and grey, I thought it was time to get California dreaming. This is a lot of photos because it was actually two visits!

California: Part 1

I went to visit my family in August. Somehow, even though we’re from Illinois, my entire nuclear family–both parents and both siblings ended up in California. I am now the lone, landlocked, Midwesterner Kim family member. While I was looking forward to seeing my family and seeing the gorgeous LA area, I was also nervous because I had to do a 20 mile run. On vacation. Oy vey. But let’s start with the beauty.

Those are my naked children (including my daughter who is only wearing shorts and underwear–keeping it classy, folks). My dad is the man dressed like he’s about to head out to the desert. I don’t love the beach, but there is such a primordial connection to the ocean I have to say. And my son LOVED it.

Blue skies for days!

And we got to have a little sunset happy hour (my bro on the left and Mr. Sometimes Runner on the right).

And because we’re fancy like that, we took in some culture with the kids at the Getty Museum. FREE! In the mountains! Gorgeous.

  

The gardens were amazing and I couldn’t take enough pictures.

  

My daughter found all the nudity in the art museum very humorous. She kept shouting, “They’re naked” at all the art showing nudity and laughing. It was funny, but also embarrassing. Here she learns about the female form.

Who doesn’t love a painting of a giant rhinoceros beetle impaled by an equally large pin?

There’s been some scandal in celebrity gossip lately about Alyssa Milano being shamed for breastfeeding. Look, even baby Jesus breastfed openly.


Here’s the 20 miler I did along the ocean. I had originally hoped to run with a Long Beach area running club, A Running Experience Club. They were also going to do their 20 miler in preparation for the Long Beach Marathon. However, timing and such didn’t work out. They were very kind and shared their route, though, and I used some of it to guide my run down to Newport Beach and back.


One thing that was fun was my decision to do my “ice bath” in the Pacific Ocean. It was COLD! And I was sweaty, but it was pretty awesome to wade in and be in the water.


My family made fun of me for taking pictures of these squirrels along my run, but they’re squirrels. That live in the sand. The sand, people! And the markings on the squirrels look different from the fat suburban grey squirrels that are so prevalent back home.


Yum, Korean food in the LA area does not get better anywhere else in the US. Sigh. My sister, brother-in-law, and niece.

We also attempted to force our children to enjoy nature and go on a long hike in Griffith Park. There were alot of tears, gritted teeth, and threats of abandonment. But we got to the observatory and back. The hills! I was jealous of all the runners I saw out there.

  

One of my shorter runs I did in Long Beach and stumbled upon some fancy Venice canal-like areas. The houses were gorgeous and there were even little canals with bridges over. I can’t imagine being surrounded by such beauty all the time. I know people must get used to it, but it was glorious coming from the Midwest.

  

They even had Italian-like plaza centers with fountains.

It’s hard to find Korean buns like these. They are called “wahng mandoo,” or “king buns.” So amazing in the heart of Korea Town in LA.

Wyeth was very sad to go home.

CALIFORNIA: PART II

I got a chance to go back to California just a week go. My sister had her second kid, a boy, and I went to go meet him and help. I went solo since it was so expensive. Yay, alone adult time! This time, instead of the LA area, I went to the Bay area.

 

My adorable niece.

I wasn’t allowed to hold my nephew the first day because my niece has been so attention-starved, we were pretending I came just to see her. Ha. I finally got some snuggle time the second day. Swoon. New baby cuddles and new baby smell.

As a good Korean and older sister, I made a traditional Korean New Year’s dish, ddeok guk, a noodle soup dish. Eating it is supposed to bring you long life and prosperity. I have to say that I did pretty good 🙂

My sister’s family lives in the East Bay, within short distance from the Ohlone Greenway, a pathway that runs along part of the BART line. I ran part of that, which was nice.

Gotta love public art! Roosters no less.

I also did a 14 miler along the Bay going north. The first mile was long the highway, so not so pretty. However, it soon opened up and even ran through part of a nature preserve. Always fun seeing the sun rise, right?

There were some tiny sections of trial that ran alongside the paved path, so I took the opportunity to get some different terrain underfoot. There was also a massive dog park that was acres and acres of happy, unleashed dogs, with lots of trees and open area. Almost made me want a dog (except that whole picking up poop part).

I ended at the Richmond Marina and scooted back. Overall, it was a great run, but I did realize that I hate my Saucony Guide’s. I had packed only those shoes and I generally don’t run in them for my long runs. I save them for my recovery runs. I realize they are just too much shoe for me, and I blame them and my long run in them for attributing to my pre-plantars issues. Like I said in the previous posts, Bill scolded me about switching between stability (the Guides) and neutral for longer runs. We’ll see…I just got the Saucony Triumph for more cushioning but still neutral form.

Anyhow, happy Friday, people. I’m going to try a short run today after taking the week off. Wish me luck. I will leave this little bit of California beauty for you.