Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Not-So-Quick Run Through 2011

2011 was a pretty great year for me. I ran my first half marathon in seven years, went rock climbing for the first time, developed a new obsession with Stand Up Paddleboarding, set a new personal best and completed my first full marathon. I also got to visit my "French sister" and one of her best friends in New York. 2011 was awesome!
Grandpa Ford

My first race of the year was the Lou Gehrig 5K in January of 2011. My kids and my oldest niece came to run the kids' race and to cheer me on at the finish. My sister came along too to hang out with the kids while I was on the course. I think this race might have been what sparked my niece's interest in running. I was really thankful that my sister came out to watch the kids for me. It was a really cold and foggy morning and I know it was no day at the beach. It helped that it was the Lou Gehrig 5K and benefiting the ALS association. Our grandfather had died of ALS two years before I was born. I never knew him in person but I always felt that I knew him in spirit. I don't think there is any other deceased family member that had been spoken about more than Grandpa Ford. Everyone who knew him seemed to have loved him. He was my mother's father but even my father has told me wonderful stories about him all my life. My sister's father-in-law had passed away from ALS about seven months before the 5K and his death was still a fresh wound for her and my niece. It was a nice day to remember him.

In February I ran a valentines' run along with my daughter and niece. It was a four mile race for me and the girls signed up for the 1.8 mile fun run. It was a really nice and sunny day and we all had a great time. I had bettered my January pace so I was pretty happy about that. March was my first 10k and while I could feel the increased mileage I still bettered my February pace time, I was able to shave off about 30 seconds off my minute/mile pace. In April I ran another 10k, the Zoo Zoom. I really liked that race. It was ran around the William Land Park area so it was a very pretty run. I again bettered my pace and shaved off another 13 seconds. The 10k's were part of my preparation for the half marathon in May-on my 31st birthday. 

on Drake's Beach in Point Reyes
By May, I had been training for about five months. We had taken the kids to the beach once and Jeremy and I had gone by ourselves once. My times were getting better and the kids where doing really well in school, ballet (just Sami) and martial arts. Jeremy hadn't gotten hurt yet and we were both doing well at work. Sami had continued to play the trumpet in the school band and Nevyn was on the school's basketball team. He had never played basketball before and it turned out, he was pretty good. He wasn't afraid to get right into the thick of it and go after the ball and he realized really quick to go to the back of the court after someone made a basket, something the other kids never really got. So far, the year was looking good.

 On my 31st birthday May 7th) I ran the Mermaid Half Marathon! I had ran a half in San Francisco in 2004 but that was my last long distance race for the past 7 years. I was excited, nervous but confidant that I could get through it. It helped that Jeremy was there to cheer me on. He's a great supporter! The race was so tough! I was exhausted when I crossed the finish line, 2 and half hours later. That time still blows me away. My goal was to finish in under 3 hours and I crushed it! It was one of the best moments of my life to that point. (After marrying Jeremy, the birth of our children and a few other life changing moments, of course.)

That night, after resting at home for a while, we went out with some friends to the Dive Bar downtown to celebrate my birthday. It was a great night! This bar has a tank with women dressed as mermaids swimming around with fish. It's the perfect place for this mermaid-obsessed mermaid to hang out with friends.   

The Next day we went for our first rock climbing trip with our good friends, Becky, Dave and their girls, Sage and Sierra. It was a lot of fun but I was really sore from the day before so I think I only climbed up twice. I was fine to hang out on the ground with the kids who were waiting their turns. Next time I go it wont be the day after a big race. My legs where aching from by but all the way down and my arms were a little sore too. It made climbing just that much more challenging. The kids did great. Especially Sami. Nevyn was a little nervous about using the ropes until Jeremy took him to the top to show him how it all worked then he was fine. At one point, the chalk bag on Sami's harness was opened a little too much and she hit it with her legs when she was coming down. By the time she hit the ground she had chalk all over her. it was pretty funny.

 Later in May I an 2 more races and it was during one of these race, the San Juan Rock n' Run, that I set my Personal best. I ran a 33:05 5K! That's a 10:40 pace! I was stoked! When I went to bed the night before the race I had a feeling it was going to be a great race. When I got up in the morning and started getting dressed I still had a really good feeling about it so I wasn't surprised that I had set a new PR but I was shocked by how much I beat my last PR (a 36:27 5K, a 11:45 pace). The other May race was the Buzz Oats, No Excuses 5K. I treated this race as a fun run. I wasn't running for time, just to be out there with the running community for a great event. My mother-in-law came to that one with my kids. It's always nice to have someone there at the finish for you, even if it's a laid back run.

In June I ran in the Women's Fitness Festival 5K. This was the race that started my running rebirth in 2010. My friend Becky ran it too again this year and we both had better finishing times than last year. I think the best part of this race didn't have anything to do with running. I met 2 great people, Jaime and Scott who, through their company, RiseSUP, teach Stand Up Paddleboarding and run SUP workouts in my area. I got to do an on land demo and I entered into a raffle for a free 2 hour water session. I ended up winning the raffle and have continued to get out on the water with Jaime and Scott every chance I get! I'm even saving up for my own SUP board. It's such a great hobby. Jaime really wants to get me in one of local SUP races.

 I can't leave out that in late June my little girl turned 11! There's something not right about that...

 After June, my race times started to go up. I'm not sure what happened but I got slower and slower as the year went on. I didn't run a race in July but I did run the Susan B. Anthony 5K in August. I ran that one the year before also. It's a nice smaller race. Also in August, Sami and Nevyn participated in the California's kids' Triathlon again. They both did great and had a lot of fun. I was so proud of both of them and Jeremy was too, of course. It was held in Davis so I got to get a bike rack for my car. Just driving around with bikes on the rake, on the back of my trunk make me feel sporty. Even when none of the bikes I'm hauling around are mine. (I would need a bike first, then I could carry it on my car.)

 We had the opportunity to go out on our cousin's boat a few times this year. We would get together with Jeremy's mom's family at Lake Camanche and take turns ridding behind the boat on a giant inflatable hot dog. We had so much fun. The kids learned how to paddle and steer a canoe and they got pretty good at it. As long as Jeremy and I stay out of it, they did great. The one time they gave us a ride was the only time it tipped over with them in it. Hot-dogging is a lot of fun but we learned that a hot dog could be very dangerous, especially if you're Jeremy. He and I were riding on it and when we tipped over Jeremy's arm pulled the wrong way and he ended up with a dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff. He was in physical therapy for months and had to take a long medical leave from work. I can't even describe the kind of pain he was in. But he did feel well enough to get back on that hot dog later that same day.

In September 2011 I ran the Miner's Ravine 10K. Not long before this I had decided to run the CIM marathon. The same marathon I had tried to run 7 years before but was unable to finish to due to a knee injury. So I needed to do a few longer races to get myself ready for this dream of mine. Miner's Ravine is in Roseville on the Miner's Ravine path (shocking, I know). It's basically the same route as the Lou Gehrig 5K. It's hilly, beautiful and the finish it up on a hill. It's one of the tougher ones for me but it's so pretty I can't resist it. Also in September, I went to New York for the first time. I was meeting my "French sister", Bene and her friend Matthew. Bene and I started writing to each other when we were in high school and have become very close. It turns out that I love NYC! I'm looking forward to going again with Jeremy.

In October I had my second half marathon of the year. It was the Urban Cow half and it's a really popular race. There were a ton of people there. I felt pretty good going into it but just after the mile 1 marker I felt something funny in my calf muscle and then it spammed. I had never felt anything like that ever. My leg literally felt like Jell-O. I kept on hobbling along the course though and I made it to the finish. I even managed a run-like hobble across the finish line. I received a red cow bell as a medal. My kids hate that thing but only because I keep threatening to use it as a wake-up-the-kids tool when getting then up for school.

Later in October Jeremy and I went on a 10 mile hike to see the Alamer Falls. It's a waterfall that empties onto the beach. It's in Point Reyes and you really have to work to get to it. It was a very tough hike but it was a lot of fun. As we hiked to the falls we were passed up by a few different groups of 20-somethings and it was a little humbling. We were hiking with water and snacks and even a break here and there not to mention the heavy breathing and sweating. Then a group of "kids" walk past us at a decent pace, without water, backpacks or sweat.

Once we got to the falls it was mesmerizing. There are 4 falls in all and the largest is the last and falls onto the beach. While we were there there was a seal sunbathing on the rocks near the largest fall. We sat on the cliff and had our peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch while watching the ocean. It was great! We stayed the night outside Santa Cruz and spent the next day walking the boardwalk and then visited an Ancient Egyptian Museum in San Jose before going home. It was a really great mini get-a-way.


In November I participated in another mermaid series race in San Francisco. I ran the 10k and Sami and Maddie, my niece, ran the 5k. It was the perfect day to go for a run in the city. It was cold but the sun was out and by the end of the run we were all warmed up. This was Sami's first trip to San Francisco and I think she had a great trip. We talked about everything on the road and I learned a lot about her and what is important to her right now. I've raised a mini environmentalist and she makes me so proud. Sami is growing up to be a very level-headed and caring person. We spent the night at the Motel Capri and in the morning we had Noah's Beagles for breakfast on our way to Crissy Field where the race was held. Maddie met us there and we did a little shopping before and after the race. I got both girls a hat and headband to wear on the run.

December! Christmas! CIM! I did it. I completed 26.2 miles! And it was not easy! I wore the wrong shoes and ended up with a horrible blister. If you want to know more about said blister, please refer to my previous blog. CIM ended up being my worse pace time of the whole year but...I finished. And lived! I also had a great time and the expo the day before. I spend way too much money but got so much awesome stuff. I'm slightly addicted to running wear, active wear, workout clothes, whatever you want to label it, I like it. I had just as much fun showing Jeremy and Samantha all my great finds as I did browsing the sections of all the different vendors that participated. The day after my dream came true, my baby boy turned 8! 10 days later it was our 12th wedding anniversary. A week later it was Christmas. A week later it was New Years.

Christmas was great. We saw most of our family who are here in town over 4 days so even though we did a lot we didn't feel rushed or too overwhelming. We got Nevyn a punching bag, the kind you fill the base up with sand and it's taller than him. Sami got a ballet bar. They both use these gifts daily. They also got a bunch of stuff for their gecko environments. Zephyr and Luna made out just as well as the kids did. I got a Giants pillow pet I named Pablo and a great necklace. Jeremy got an electric skillet and a new fancy pen. He was very happy. It was a nice Christmas.

On New Year's Eve we had our party like we do every year. We had a smaller group than previous years and we all a great time. There was a lot of laughing and some drink stealing (Jamie and Brad), some games, some drinking, some yummy wine and a happy way to bring in the new year.

       I hope you all the best in 2012. Try something new for the new year and see what you're capable of. You might surprise yourself.

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