Monthly Archives: December 2011

Holiday Adventure

As of Friday the quarter was officially over. Hurrah! This past week has been full of less stress, complete laziness relaxation , and more television than I ever though I could handle. It has been great. I’ll admit it has been less productive than I would have hoped for, but I have to let myself slide after a very rigorous quarter. I just have to be serious with myself, I worked my ass off for ten weeks so now it is time to breath and enjoy the little things. (I deserve it?) And now I can spend the rest of the vacation doing more exciting things!

Later today I ship off for my tour of three states in two weeks. This evening I’ll be touching down in Denver, Colorado for a few days of skiing and overdosing on homemade Indian food. My friend from Stanford invited me into his brother’s house and I couldn’t be more excited. Instead of Christmas, we’ll be celebrating his nephew’s first birthday (I bought him the coolest hooded towel, I hope he likes it!). And I’m going to teach them the art of a Jewish Christmas, can you say Chinese food and a movie marathon? Then I’ll spend the rest of the time on the slopes, laughing too hard while my friend struggles to learn to ski, and sipping hot cocoa.

And before I know it, I’ll be off to Seattle, Washington to enjoy the museums, architecture, and ice cream (apparently it is award worthy). My friend in Seattle happens to be a professional magician and treehouse builder, I can’t wait to see some of the amazing structures he built over the past few years. I’ve only been to the city once (with my mother), so I’m hoping this visit will be a bit more exciting. If anyone has suggestions on what to see or do, I’d love to hear them!

Then I’ll be shipping south to the lovely state of Texas to see my lovely Laura and Sarah!! I cannot wait to see these two again. I’ve never been to Texas (other than for a layover) so it will be interesting to spend some time there. I’m not sure what we’ll do exactly, but I know it will be absolutely fantastic. I’m looking forward to plenty of down south cooking, nights out, and Texan accents. Perhaps we’ll even explore Austin since I’ve heard great things about the city.

Needless to say I’m quite excited for this adventure! I’ll do my best to take plenty of photos. In fact, my parents gifted me with a new digital camera for Hanukkah so I have no excuse not to these days. Now off to finish packing (nothing like saving it til the last minute :).

What are your holiday plans this year? 

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmahanakwanza!

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CIM Race Recap

Three months ago, before I started graduate school, I made the decision to register for the California International Marathon. It was a bit naive of me to register without considering my school schedule, but we all do silly things sometimes (some more than others…). CIM touted itself as being the “fastest marathon in the west” and foolishly I believed them. So I trained, as well as I could with my ridiculous schedule, and I prepared for marathon #2.

Then last Saturday rolled around and it finally hit me that I’d actually have to run a marathon. There was no turning back, I had no excuse not to put myself out there and run the damn thing. So I packed up my running gear and headed toward Sacramento with the lovely Layla. After hitting up the expo, where I spent far too much on marathon gear and a new winter jacket, we made our way over to Courtney’s for a pre-race dinner and slumber party. We had five lovely runners there, two preparing for there first marathons and three hoping to set new PRs.

Some fantastic runners - Layla, Alyssa, Courtney, me, Don, Angela, and Sesa

It was great to meet so many wonderful runners! We ate a fantastic dinner before gabbing about running and our race strategy. I’m so grateful that Courtney arranged this, I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been stuck preparing in a hotel room by myself. Then it was off to bed so we could be up early to get to the start line.

At 5am Alyssa’s alarm went off and I begrudgingly got out of bed to get dressed. We all shuffled around the house in a half-awake state and tried to eat breakfast even though no one was interested in food. When the clock hit 6am, we piled into Layla’s car to make our way to the start line. My least favorite part of a race? Pre-race porta-potty time. Fortunately there were several hundred lined up and we didn’t have to wait very long.

Wearing Courtney's sweat pants on my arms. Next time I'll be smart enough to wear an extra layer.

I parted ways from the faster runner gals and lined myself up in the back of the corrals. And then I got emotional. I hope the people around didn’t think it was too odd that I was tearing up… After waiting for a while, I finally crossed the start line and realized that there was absolutely no turning back now. With my iPod on loudly, I started to find my own pace. I ran the first two miles by myself before latching on to a pace group. The next eight miles went by quickly, I barely noticed as we passed each mile marker. Well, barely, except for when we made our way up some hills…

Now CIM claims that it is mostly downhill and I believed them, for a little while. Then I realized how horribly they had lied to me. The course does have many downhills, but it has an equal number of inclines. I was doing decently well on the inclines, but I felt that the pacer was pushing me too quickly on the inclines and not picking up speed on the downhill portions.

By the half way point I had started to reclaim my run. I changed my strategy and walked a bit on the uphill portions. When I crossed the half marker I was still on target for the pace group, but I wasn’t running with them anymore. And then everything changed. Everything from the waist down began to ache more than normal. I slowed down further.

Fortunately I found a woman who had been going at a similar speed, I caught up to her, and I posed the question – would she run the rest of the race with me. I think that took her by surprise. She claimed that she was considering bagging the entire thing, but I told her that wasn’t an option. She agreed and we began the rest of our journey together.

Running along with Kimberly

Over the next few miles we enjoyed the crowds together and taking it at our new pace. Eventually the next pace group found us (15 minutes slower than the one I started out with). This pace leader was much more animated and motivating. He made sure that everyone had a smile on their face, even if that required telling many bad jokes. I started to enjoy the race again, thank goodness.

But then around mile 23 my calves were throbbing and my hips were faltering. Kimberly (the woman I was running with) was kind enough to stay with me. I tried to shoo her off, but she wouldn’t leave me alone (thank goodness!). We began to use intervals, walking for a short distance and then running as far as we could. And then the end was in sight and we found the pace group we had been running with. With two-tenths of a mile to go I bid Kimberly adieu and I picked up the pace. As I turned the final corner to the finish line, I went into an all out sprint. And I finished.

I’m not overjoyed with my time. I know that I could have done better if I had gone at a more appropriate pace earlier on, but there is always room to improve next time. Although I can’t truly compare the two races (since I was injured for marathon #1), I completed CIM 23 minutes and 56 seconds faster than Boston in April. I set a new PR and I will do my best not to won’t complain about that.

Layla was at the finish line to give me a hug and walk my sore butt over to get food and my bags. Then we ran off to get a proper brunch with all the other amazing finishers. Both Courtney and Alyssa set substantial new PRs! And Angela kicked ass at her first marathon! Overall it was a fantastic weekend and hopefully I’ll get to spend more time with these lovely runners in the future.

I still can’t believe I did it, but I’m so happy I did. Here is to the next one!

Praying to the Running Gods

In high school calculus, my friends and I used to pray to Thor – God of Math to prepare us for our exams. Let’s put it this way, I did really well that year. So now it is time to take a different approach, today I am praying to the Running Gods. Tomorrow I will be participating in kicking ass at the California International Marathon and I could use all the help I can get!

I am certain that I will finish, but I’d very much like a shiny new PR. Don’t get me wrong, that won’t be tough since I managed not to injure myself during training this time. Yet I haven’t exactly trained as I would have liked… I accomplished some long runs this past month, but on the other hand I haven’t gotten in the optimal weekday runs due to my work schedule. But ya know what? Today I’m throwing all of those worries and less than positive thoughts aside and mentally pumping myself up for the big day.

So, Running Gods, please keep my feet from throbbing, my calves from cramping, my knees from aching, my tummy from churning, my chest from chafing, and my mind from straying from a positive outlook. And please look kindly on some of my great friends that are also racing this weekend! (Check out Sarah who is running her first half marathon and Courtney who is going to rock CIM as well.)

Who else is racing this weekend? Tell me about your pre-race ritual!