2019 Kaiser Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday I completed my 16th lifetime half marathon. How cool is that? It was a super fun weekend and though it’s a very chill event, was still super exciting. Here’s how my weekend went.

Saturday 2/2

I actually got to take over the Inspiring Women Runners Instagram account race weekend! It was awesome. My weekend started with a quick shakeout run in the rain. Glad race day wasn’t Saturday! It was wet!!

After my quick run my mom and I went out to breakfast. If you ever go to breakfast with me it’s likely I’ll get a bacon, cheese and avocado omelette with a side of salsa, dry sourdough toast and breakfast potatoes, not hash browns. I’ll also get water and sometimes will have 1 cup of coffee with cream. That’s my go to.

My mom gave me her avocado from her meal. That’s a good mom right there.

Then, I had a dentist appointment. I had all of my dental work done in one appointment. Do I recommend this? Not really. My whole mouth was numb for a good portion of the day! Good thing I ate that giant breakfast 🤣

Because the race is an hour from where I live, I spent the night at a family members house. Mr. Ftof drove so I could be lazy and browse social media 🤷🏽‍♀️.

My family made me a delicious dinner and we tucked ourselves in nice and early.

I had to think long and hard about what to wear for the race. It was potentially going to be raining but I also wanted to be warm. I decided a tank top with arm sleeves would be best so I could peel off the sleeves if I got warm rather than fumbling with a sweatshirt. I once ran in the rain with a sweatshirt during a half Mary and I was weighed down by wet clothing. I also wanted a hat with a brim to cover my eyes and a headband under that to keep my ears warm. It ended up being the perfect outfit. I laid it out before bed to make sure nothing was missing.

Sunday, 2/3

Full disclosure: I went into this race with my longest long run having been only 9 miles. I went out for a 10 miler but that day was a disaster and I screwed the whole run up and didn’t make it to 10. I was nervous about how this race was gonna go.

Being close to the race start AND having an 8:10 start time was AWESOME! I got to sleep in on race morning until 5:00 am! The last few races I did I had to be up by 4:00! I actually could have probably slept til 5:20. Anyhow- I got dressed and made my almond butter and banana sandwich to eat around 6:30. We loaded ourselves into the car at 6 and off we went to secure parking and have time to use the restrooms.

Most of the morning is a blur but it came down to:

  • Me trying to stay warm and dry because it rained on and off before the race began
  • Me stepping in a huge mud puddle trying to walk to the portopotty
  • Me trying to figure out what group photos I was supposed to be in and where
  • Me trying to figure out where to corral myself because the 5k started before the 10k/half

I made a very loose game plan for the race and knew I needed to stick to it to be successful

  • Run walk intervals
  • Fuel on my chews every 45 minutes
  • Take in Nuun starting at the mile 6/7 aid station
  • Save some energy for the miles heading out on the Great Highway
  • Gain some time on the miles back from the Great Highway

The race started at 8:10 and I had pretty smooth sailing out the gate. The first sixish miles are through Golden Gate Park and a neighborhood. Usually Golden Gate Park is really humid when I’ve run it but I think the rain helped. It was very comfortable.

I was saving a lot of my energy for when I got to the Great Highway. I new those miles were going to be windy and they were gonna tear me apart.

While I was running through Golden Gate Park there was one linkup where the 10k met up with the half I think around mile 5 and a gentleman doing the 10k saw me and his face lit up.

“You’re doing the half!”

“Why yes I am, it’s my 16th one”

“That’s so great! You have about 8-9 miles left right? I used to do triathlons but I had some heart problems as I got older. This is my second 10k now. Do it while you’re young and you can. Have a great race!”

Moments like that really warm my heart.

I hit the turn onto the Great Highway and I knew I was in for some great views but some horrible wind.

I wasn’t wrong. The moment I turned onto it my hat started to blow away. I laughed to myself and said “tighten your hat and let’s get going!”

The threeish miles out on the Great Highway were into headwinds. I had to fight hard for those miles and it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve had to do but it was a challenge for certain.

It’s funny because even though I was in the back, I felt really strong and experienced and knew how to handle myself. I had a plan and I executed it. It was awesome seeing the fast runners on the return while I was going out. One day I’ll be one of those runners. One guy ran across the barrier and high fived me. I love the running community.

When I finally got to the turnaround a little before mile 10, I was so grateful but I was still feeling good. I’ve noticed that after training for two marathons last year I feel pretty solid in the 13.1 distance and often the miles fly by pretty quickly. They don’t seem to drag on or be as hard as they used to be.

Eventually I picked up some speed and miles 11/12 felt really good and I knew I was just moments from finishing. My friend Tony was the finish line announcer and he gave me the kindest most heartfelt announcement. It was rad!

And with that, it was all over. Half marathon number 16 was completed!

I had an absolute blast and though I don’t know what my schedule looks like for next year, I just may be back!

Thanks Kaiser half for such a fun event!

Cheers runners!


My body is strong and I appreciate it.

Let me preface this with saying I debated writing this and I felt silly writing it, but I also like to go places with my writing that others may need to hear… happy reading!

Last night I got a massage. I don’t get massages very often. In fact, I don’t do most things that are considered pampering or indulgent all that often. It was two years between my most recent haircut and my last one, and I still have the “pedicure” on my feet that I got for my friends September 2018 wedding…. so needless to say, massages are pretty low on my list of priorities, though I’m trying to allow myself to partake in them more simply because I am so much more active now.

I got a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas (ok full confession: I bought it for myself for Christmas as a Christmas gift to me… don’t judge!), and finally scheduled an appointment. The last few massages I’ve gotten have been either more Sports Massage, so it ends up being all business when I go in, or one of those reflexology places where they really dig into you but I’ve had some issues with language barriers there, so there isn’t a whole lot of hot neck towels and relaxing music happening.

But I digress.

This magical gift certificate that I gifted for myself was at a spa place than I’ve ever gone to before. They give you a whole robe and a foot soak and some hot tea in a room called the relaxation room… the kind of stuff that is the polar opposite of who I am and how I operate. (What is a relaxation room? On that note, how does one relax? All I do is keep busy…) So, as I sat in a fuzzy white robe with my feet in a foot soak of hot water, in a dimly lit room with no clock (what the hell time is it, how will I keep on schedule with my life), no cell phone (I bet I have a thousand new emails piling up or I could at least have brought it to browse social media) and a hot towel around my neck (that I could get used to), I felt a little out of place and wanted to move things along. This was a lot of relaxing and not a lot of getting it done and moving on to the next thing, until they called me in for my appointment.

Ok, awesome… until I realized when I made the appointment I had said I was fine with a male masseuse, and then for the first time in my life was having a massage with a man. When I scheduled the appointment I assumed that because my “back is whack” (my opinion, not a medical diagnoses 🤣) and has knots for days a male would be better to help work out my issues.

I have almost always in my adult life gone to male doctors, have many male friends and have always felt comfortable in male dominated settings, but for some reason my first thought was “oh shit, I don’t know how I feel about my body in this moment.”

I felt conflicted about the fact that I’ve got extra weight sitting in my mid section, but I also know I’ve got some strong defined muscles and was about to be butt ass naked on this massage table with no unicorn onesie or little while robe to cover my anxieties of my saddle bags and my stretch marks.

I’ve never had that type of a gut check ever, where the two ways I see myself mesh into one visualization. I was about to be full Monty face down on this table and I couldn’t decide in that moment if I felt I was fat or if I felt I was strong.

I pulled myself out of my headspace fast. I reminded myself that there’s no pre-reqs for coming in and getting a massage. Any insecurities I am feeling right now shouldn’t be projected as what I imagine others are thinking about me.

As the session was going to begin we discussed what I needed work on. I noted my calves and my shoulders from all my running and strength training, and we made that a topic of small talk. As I felt knots being worked out, a few four letter words almost come out of my mouth, and some much needed physical relief, I worked on letting my insecurities go away and relaxing.

I had a moment while I was on that table where I thought to myself this exact phrase: “be grateful to your strong body and all it can do”, and that I was gifting myself this hour to give my little body some much needed attention for all the hard work I give it.

And at the end of the day, it was one of the best massages I think I’ve ever had.

Don’t let yourself get into the headspace of insecurity. Let yourself celebrate the positive and focus your energies on that. You’re the only person who sees yourself in a bad light. Don’t project those feelings onto others.

Lesson learned.

Be grateful to your strong body and all it can do.

Do I look relaxed?

Cheers to strength!


If you run, you are a runner.

I had a weird not me experience the other day earlier this week… I really enjoyed my workout at Santa Rosa Strength & Conditioning and felt like a champion…. the kind where you play Eye of the Tiger on the drive home and then came home and got into weird head space about my body. That’s really unheard of for me, though I know I have goals, I don’t really ever get in a funk about my body size. That same day I had to submit what size shirt I wanted for The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador team and it stung a little to be the only women’s XL on the list. I felt a little bit like hmmm, do I belong here?

But I had to remind myself…. When I had the honor of reading through commentary on the ambo applications for Mermaid Series, I was surprised how many people wrote “I don’t look like a runner”.

I have now been to many races and training runs and though the really super fast runners are built a certain way, there are people of all builds running 5ks to 50ks, from noviced runners to runners who can tackle events with thousands of feet of elevation gain.

I don’t look a certain way but I haven’t really let that stop me. I had to remind myself of the same words I constantly am reminding everyone else of…

If you run, you’re a runner.

I don’t have to preface that with things like “slow”, “fat”, “plus size”, “turtle” because I don’t identify that way. I simply see myself as a runner.

End of story.

When New Years Resolutions stick.

Yesterday as I was scrolling through social media, I stopped on a post that said New Years resolutions usually don’t stay past January 12th. Though I myself am a huge fan of goal setting, I actually never really set very big New Years Resolutions like losing a certain number of pounds, buying a house, paying off a big bill or anything like that. In fact this year I only set one, to be less wasteful, and restated last year’s, to always put my cart in the corral at the store after unloading into my car.

Last night my husband and I enjoyed a much needed date night and our first stop on our outing was pizza. 🍕

Now, like any other self respecting 30-something year old who grew up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and begged my mom for a TMNT birthday party instead of a stupid princess themed one when I was a kid, pizza is basically a good group to me. Life without pizza is like a day without sunshine. But I digress.

I had hardly eaten much of anything before going out because I was knee deep in working on a project before we left. After basically inhaling the salad I ordered as an appetizer and spilling half of the olives on the table, our pizza arrived in all its glory.

In my life, when pizza arrives at the table in most instances, my first instinct is to find the BIGGEST piece and generously offer to distribute slices to everyone so I can selfishly keep the biggest one for myself. This says a lot about my relationship wit food. It doesn’t matter if the slice is one centimeter bigger or if they forgot to cut two pieces in half and it’s a mega piece. I can find it immediately and IT IS MINE.

But many years ago I realized my relationship with good was skewed because thoughts like that cross my mind. I feel a sense of entitlement to the largest piece of pizza, cake, pie. The bowl that looks like it has the biggest portion it is should automatically go to me. It doesn’t matter that this can often equate into one extra bite, but I realized long ago that this was a big habit deeply burned into me I needed to break.

So a few years ago my New Years resolutions was to not take the biggest portion of something. I can’t fix all of my relationship issues with food in one fell swoop but I can attempt to break them one at a time. It took that entire year to stop and think about my choices around which portion was mine, or which to choose when cake, pizza, and staff luncheons happened at work. But slowly I got there, and am still here today.

So last night when I picked up the pizza spatula and found the largest and most glorious looking slice of missliced pizza that was nearly 1/4 bigger than its companion slice, I asked my husband to hand me his plate and I placed that piece of pizza on his dish for him.

Sometimes NY resolutions stick if we really want them to and are willing to work for it!

New Year, Same Me but with less baggage.

My husband and I are getting a new couch. It’s the most exciting to happen to me in a while, which makes me think that I’ve really entered into adulthood. We have a hand me down couch that we have had for five years. It’s been well used and even has a dent in the armrest where my cat sleeps. It’s just one of those regular long couches. We are upgrading to an L sectional couch with an ottoman.

In order to fit our new couch in our apartment, we have had to rearrange the furniture in the living room. We started in a spree to fix things up and after the living room, began purging our whole little apartment. It’s amazing how many things were hiding in little pockets or cupboards we forgot about.

Where am I going with this? I’ve realized that to prepare for 2019, I’ve done a lot of something I should have done long ago… purge. I am only filing my space with things that deserve my energy.

I have done more than just purge at home. I’ve gone through piles of stuff and donated so much stuff. I pulled out all the clothes that are too small and boxed them up to try on again in April or March with the hopes they’ll fit then.

I’ve unsubscribed to marketing emails that I never read anyway. I got rid of an email address I wasn’t using.

I cut off my hair. It wasn’t serving me a purpose. It was like an emotional release to do so. It was an honor to donate it. Someone else can use it more than me.

I’ve put timers on my phone that automatically tell me when I’ve wasted too much time on the phone and to get off my ass and go read a book.

But on a deeper level, I’ve kept close with friends who are invested and let go of the ones who have made snarky comments towards me that don’t fuel my positivity, or the friends I have gotten tired trying to chase who don’t reciprocate the friendship back.

I’ve stopped going to fitness classes, events and meetings that I only attended because I felt I had to.

I quit Weight Watchers and found a one on one nutrition program that suits me better. I was paying for WW for months because I felt I had to.

I have been trying to own up to mistakes early, apologize and learn from it and not let the weight of them sit on my shoulders.

All in all, I’m excited to go into 2019 as the same me, but a better version who is more refined and with less white noise in her life.

I’m purging the unnecessary and keeping what’s worthwhile in my life. But you can’t quite call me a minimalist because I’m fairly certain minimalists don’t have a need for four unicorn horns and a tutu in their repertoire.

This isn’t about a resolution or a goal for the year but more a mindset and mentally cleared headspace to be in. I’m excited to think and exist this way!

Cheers to 2019,


2019 goals

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. After some reflection about how bummed I am to see 2018 go, I felt instantly rejuvenated and ready for 2019. My running coach and I met up yesterday and I’m looking forward to what we talked about as my 2019 map. I feel good about my choices to decide what events to race and set as goals, while having a healthy mix of fun races. I love going to races and running with my friends!

Here’s an overview. I’ll definitely write more during my 2019 training! 3 running goals:

  • I am going to PR my half time. I AM GOING TO DO IT DAMNIT. I set that PR May, 2016 and I am DYING TO BREAK IT. Whenever the memory on Facebook comes up about it, I get fired up and determined to do it. 2:26:01 was what I set. I ran that half so fast that I thought I had missed a mile of the race because the half I had run 3 months earlier had a finishing time of 2:37. I have my goal race at present to do that at is the Eugene half marathon. I don’t know if I have it in me to do it then, but I will never know if I don’t try. The event is 17 weeks away. If I go for that goal and I miss it, I have a second half marathon I am not currently registered for but lined up a few months later I am willing to go for it again at.
  • I am going to be very transparent about this goal as I tackle it this year. I want this goal more than I want any other goal I have set for 2019, or have ever set in general. I know it’s going to be A CHALLENGE and force me to work REALLY HARD. It will be about running well, eating right and continuing my strength training. I am DETERMINED.

    You guys, I don’t think my words convey how much I want this goal…. but I think you get the point

    Become an Ultramarathon runner! I am registered for the Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen 12 hour endurance race in July 6th and intend to run 50k, which is 31 miles at that event. I would need to maintain a 23 minute/mile pace to do so. I ran the 6 hour event last year so I have a decent idea of what to expect!

    Coach Patrick informed me that training for an ultra is different than anything I’ve trained for. Will involve double weekend runs to acclimate my legs to running while tired. Will be a new challenge but fun!

    Come in under the 6 hour official finishing time at CIM. Every year I’ve run CIM I have been over the 6 hour limit. I’ve still gotten an official finishing time and medal and it’s been great! This is actually in my mind, a subset of PRing my half time. If I can get a faster half time, I can certainly get a faster marathon time. I now feel like I have a good grasp on the CIM course and how to pace myself during it. This isn’t until December so it’s much farther down the line, but still fun to think about!

    Well those are my running goals for 2019! Do you have any goals for 2019? What are they?

    Cheers to goals!


    3rd Grade Vanessa’s lesson on Holiday Gratitude

    3rd grade was a big year for me. 3rd grade was the year I got glasses. It was the first year I started to understand loss and grief because my teacher, Mrs. Smith, lost her husband while being our teacher. It was one of the first years of my life where I no longer had the spotlight to myself because I had a baby brother. I was in dance class and Girl Scouts. My parents took good care of me. I had it good.

    At Christmas time in 3rd grade my teacher had a Christmas party and the kids in the class were told to bring in a present for a game we were going to play. Girls brought in a girl present and boys, a boy present. We all sat in two circles, one for boys and one for girls, and eagerly passed our gifts around while the teacher read us a story, passing gifts to our neighboring classmate at certain story prompts. At the end of the story whatever gift you ended up with was the one you went home with. At the end of the story I had ended up with Natasha’s gift.

    Looking back now as an adult who spent many years working in enrichment programs in low income school districts, I can only imagine what kind of home Natasha came from. I remember her sort of brown haired bowl cut and pale skin. She was taller than me, but most kids were. My best guess through a fuzzy memory, is that she likely came from a home with no structure. No parents at home, and possibly parents who had some type of addiction or just didn’t care to be parents. Me, being in my early years of life, had no idea what types of different families we came from. My mom, always being caring for others around her, reminds me of a time she gifted Natasha an outfit for her birthday, realizing it may have been the only gift she got. She came to school in it the next day. Natasha definitely did not come from the warm and fuzzy life that I did.

    Upon watching the other kids open their Christmas gifts, presumably Polly Pockets, coloring sets and Barbies, I opened my package to find a set of dirty, smelly Christmas ornaments. One in particular was a small knit, red, green and white ornament in the shape of a stocking. My mom retells the story of me thanking my fellow classmate in a cheerful “thank you!” as though I had gotten something equally as delightful that the other kids got. In the car, my mom always retells the story, that I had a very opposite response.

    Upon getting into my moms Blue Ford Taurus station wagon, I had a meltdown of all meltdowns you would expect any 9 year old to have when faced with that situation. Tears, and feelings of how unfair it was to see other kids and their Christmas delights. I wanted to throw everything away and pretend it never happened.

    My mom, always (and still is) being a gentle heart reminded me that come Christmas morning, I will have presents from friends, family, neighbors. I will be flooded with love and around those who love me. She reminded me that this young girl who brought me a gift that possibly came from her own tree, or maybe her parents took her to the thrift store as an afterthought, was certainly not going to have the same holiday as me. She was proud of me for my kind face and holding it together in that classroom, but also took it as a teaching moment to me to remind me to reflect on what I have, and be gracious to others. I believe the story goes, that after her humbling lesson, I requested to go purchase gifts for my classmate who I then realized may have received her only gift for the holiday season in that 3rd grade classroom.

    It has been over two decades since that moment happened and my mom washed that little stocking ornament and hung it on the tree every year to remind me of that moment in my life. I am humbled and reminded of it every year when I see it.

    In my adult years I’ve seen it all first hand while my years in direct service organizations. Families asking where they can get gifts, a holiday hot meal, or enough food to last through Winter Break since school is out and their child won’t get meals at school. Every year as I sit down with my family at the holidays and look at my piles of presents and my feast in abundance, I am grateful for what I have and grateful for what I can give to others, both close to me, or as giving back to my own community through volunteer or donations.

    I hadn’t ever shared that story with anyone, but this holiday season I am humbly reminded to practice my gratitude, celebrate and love others, and to count my blessings.

    To all of you this holiday season, I wish you the merriest and brightest and all the love and cheer I can spread.

    With gratitude,


    My 2018 Top 9

    Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. Hard to believe it is the 51st week of the year!!

    Every year Instagram does a thing of your “Top 9” posts from the year and though I wasn’t surprised by what got the most “likes” so far this year, I didn’t think it captured the true spirit of the great things that happened to me this year. So when I saw the collage I decided I wanted to highlight what my top 9 moments of 2018 were as we get ready to launch into 2019.

    1. Being in the Weight Watchers magazine and meeting four of the best friends in the world.

    In February I was flown to NYC for a whirlwind 36 hour trip to be in the Weight Watchers magazine. (More on that can be read here.) It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.

    2. Visiting my brother at his University

    My younger brother and I are very close and I was very grateful to get to see his school with my Grandma. My brother graduated in May from Rensselaer Polytechnic University in New York, and I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to see his school, but I did. We also visited the Baseball Hall of Fame which my grandma had on her bucket list to do. It was an amazing trip.

    3. I ran my first out of state race and visited my husband’s side of the family in Oregon

    It was my first year on the Eugene Marathon ambassador team and I had a blast racing in Oregon for the first time. (Race recap here). It was special to see his whole family together for the first time in many years and we enjoyed many laughs, conversations and love.

    4. My mom did her first 5k and I got to do it with her

    My mom has always been a walker but never at a formal event. She came to the Mermaid Series East Bay event after I strong armed her into signing up, but she had a blast and so did I. I can’t wait til we do another. She got bit by the racing bug!

    5. I ran the Santa Rosa Marathon

    This event was my first marathon back in 2016 but after seeing my husband complete the Eugene Marathon in April, the marathon bug bit me hard and I had to sign up for 26.2, so I went back to the marathon where it all began. I became a hard core training machine over the Summer, and despite having to overcome an extreme physical illness just two weeks before the race, I completed it and felt like a champion. (Race recap here)

    6. My college roommate got married

    I was honored to stand next to my college roommate Marge at her wedding this Summer. It was a gift to be part of such a special day.

    7. I performed in a musical again

    After a 16 month hiatus from being on stage I was ready to perform again and was cast in the Addams Family musical. It was one of the most fun shows I have ever been in and was so grateful that the director took a chance on me and cast me in the show!

    8. I ran the California International Marathon

    Getting to the start line of this event was harder than getting to the finish. I trained for this race while also performing in the aforementioned musical and then lost a few weeks of training because of poor air quality due to the fires. I surprised myself by finishing faster than I expected to on such a challenging course, and really felt like an athlete that day in the most amazing way. More than I ever had.

    9. My husband and I enjoyed our first week long vacation since our honeymoon which was almost 5 years ago.

    And at the happiest place on earth, no less. It was special to spend time together. We needed it, and made lots of fond memories.

    And that folks, are my top 9 highlights from 2018. There were so many to choose from but those were the best! I look forward to what 2019 has in store for me!



    Thoughts for a first time marathon runner

    With New Years resolutions just around the corner, you may find yourself saying your goal is to run your first marathon.

    After running CIM recently, I realized the amazing influence I have had in my own running community with sharing my story about becoming a first time marathon runner. In light of that, I decided I wanted to write a blog post about my thoughts for those dabbling with first time marathonning. These thoughts are all my own and I am not a certified coach or athletic instructor, so please be advised this is all my own experience and advice.

    I recommend you currently have a love for running and are doing it regularly. If you think signing up for 26.2 is going to be the thing that finally motivates you to put your running shoes back on, you might want to think again. I say that because training for a marathon will push you into the deepest cycles of training that fatigues even the most diligent runners who are already logging dozens of miles a week already. I recommend going into your training with a solid base of running to begin with.

    If you’re looking for a motivation to start running and break out of hiatus, try a shorter distance as your spark, like a 10k. If you’re doing zero, you might find yourself daunted, overwhelmed and annoyed with the time and requirements that 26.2 training demand.

    I am glad I waited until I had run 5 half marathons before doing my first marathon. I am not saying that 5 is the magical number that you are “ready” or “not ready” but it was a good number for me. At that point I felt I had really gotten a decent grasp on what a race day looks like. I understood things like starting corrals, aid station etiquette, clothing choices, fueling choices and race day prep. It was a good starting point to get ready for the marathon. During my 5th half marathon I had finally gotten a good level of endurance built up. My half marathons before that were usually tough after miles 10/11, and you need that endurance and stamina for marathon training. I’m glad I had done 13.1 enough times before diving in to training for 26.2.

    Pick a healthy and realistic training plan

    My first marathon I picked some training plan I found on the internet. Bad move. It was far too ambitious for me. It had a 21 and a 22 mile training run on it and TONS of weekly miles. It had no cross training. In short it was the wrong plan for me. I did the 21 mile run but was mentally burnt out by the time 22 came a long so I did a 16 mile run instead. I did not log nearly all the weekly miles, and I allowed myself to cross train even though the plan didn’t call for it.

    I have been much more successful for marathons 2, 3 and 4 because I have a running coach who I can talk to in real time about my schedule, where my head is at and what cross training I want to incorporate. If a running coach isn’t an option for you, also check out local training groups. Real people giving you plans instead of a piece of paper can make a huge mental difference.

    Your long runs are LONG. Be prepared. Long runs are tough during your first round of marathon training. You have no idea what to expect and for many people, anything past 13.1 is absolutely foreign. Be prepared for what that’s going to be like.

    For me, success with those long miles includes things like running one or two of my long runs with friends (I mostly always run alone), running some of my long runs at a race for the on course support (for example I ran a half marathon that had similar course dynamics as the marathon I was training for the day I was supposed to do my 18 mile long run during my Summer 2018 marathon and then ran 5 extra miles before/after the race), and a big one I enjoy is going to dinner with friends the night before a super long run. Fueling up is important and since it’s a necessity, it’s nice to visit with friends before waking up the next day for the early miles.

    I also plan lots of self care during those long runs. I will make no plans for the rest of the day during some of those long run days so I can stay home and read, rest, go to a movie or do something mindless. The really long runs, for me, are mentally draining so it’s nice to be able to check out after them and rest for the end of the day.

    You will experience all your normal feelings but to the extreme

    If you think you’re tired, hungry, emotional and exhausted now, be prepared. You will experience that to a new level.

    You will question why you did this. It will be hard and it will drain you.

    Even the most veteran marathon runners have told me that they have struggled through training. You’re alone during these runs, it’s a challenge to stick to a strict training calendar, and sometimes it feels never ending, but you’re not unique in feeling that. Reach out to someone if you need a boost, or take a day to reset your mind.

    Keep your why close by.

    Remember why you’re doing this. Remind yourself daily. Crush those runs because of it.

    Just know it’s all worth it in the end.

    The minute you cross that finish line and know you achieved something great makes all the challenges worth it.

    My first marathon, the Santa Rosa Marathon, 2016.

    Cheers to running 26.2, for all of us who are crazy enough to do it. You got this.

    CIM 2018 recap

    Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great! I feel so proud of how CIM 2018 went. My pride is beyond words. I hope I can do my experience justice in my writing.

    Saturday, December 1

    My last training run was a 2 mile shakeout, which I did and it started raining! But it was good and my pace was good and made me feel solid for Sunday.

    After I got home and ate breakfast, I showered and we packed up the car to go to Sacramento. But first we made a pit stop at the fancy donut shop in town because I always get one of their donuts before a marathon. It’s my tradition!

    It was seriously so good. Did not disappoint at all.

    My husband and I journied up to the expo and got in around 12. At 12 I had arranged a meetup with ladies who follow my blog or are in the Badass Lady gang Facebook group and was so glad to meet so many awesome ladies. Proud of all of them.

    I also saw whole slews of friends at the expo!

    Top: Haley and Carina at the SRA booth

    2nd: Tony (Endorphin Dude)

    3rd: My friend Ron

    Bottom: my friend Amy who I met at least years CIM!

    The highlight of my expo visit was seeing the Eugene Marathon booth! They were so amazing. Richard, Race Director, and Ian, Assistant Race Director, made my heart so warm with their kind words and our great conversation about Eugene Marathon 2019! I also heard from them that a few name drops were done by people who said they knew me at the booth 😏. Glad to hear people are talking about the event. Did you know that’s my next big running goal? To PR my half time there on 4/28. (Use discount code VANESSAEM19 for a discount on the half or marathon!).

    My husband and I picked up some Eugene Marathon hats so we could represent the event and then it was time for lunch!

    I had more to visit at the expo but we were starving. My husband and I couldn’t agree on lunch so I had a bento box while he ate pizza at the restaurant next door. My lunch was better, I’m sure. I could eat Asian food daily.

    Then back to the expo! We visited more booths and had lots of fun. I saw my friend Art who was a CIM ambassador last year and got a quick photo with him before he went back to volunteering.

    And then I got to meet my friend Amanda who I have been following on Instagram!

    And then the most hilarious thing happened. Because Coach Patrick texted me and said “I’m at the expo, are you here?” And if you look in the background of this photo, HE IS STANDING RIGHT THERE 🤣🤣🤣. How bizarre!!

    He’s the best running coach.

    Then I stood in line just to take this photo. #worthit

    Then after we finished our expo shenanigans we went to check into our hotel so I could rest my feet before dinner.

    We went back to dinner at the same place I ate before CIM last year and Urban Cow 2016. It was amazing.

    Got home and took a hot bath.

    Then after laying out my clothes it was time for me to go to bed around 8:00pm. I fell asleep fast and I’m glad I did. I didn’t sleep well Thursday night and needed the rest.

    It actually didn’t feel as horrifically early now that I wake up a few times a week at 4:30 for the gym but I was definitely not looking forward to it.

    Sunday, December 2

    I paid how much money to run how many miles?

    After a long bus ride to the start, I made it to the start area at 6am. Race started at 7. I nervous pottied twice and tried to find people but had a hard time. I saw Coach Patrick again though which was awesome! I saw Amanda again and wished her luck on her first marathon. Finally, 13 minutes after the official start I made it though the starting arch. But as soon as I started going I tripped on one of those street reflectors. Thank god I didn’t fall on my face, but it hurt my foot and I felt it the ENTIRE RACE. Lame.

    CIM is a huge event. Way bigger than Santa Rosa, so the energy is amazing. Seriously. Everyone comes out in full force to cheer for people!

    About 5k or so in, an old German who was cheering from the sidelines ran out into the race and linked arms with me. It was so sweet. I asked if he was gonna take me to the finish line. He said he was too old for that and sent me on my way with a huge smile. It was rad.

    Around mile 8.75 the sweepers passed me. The sweepers keep the slowest race pace and you are supposed to stay ahead of them to maintain street closures or risk getting out on the sidewalk. When they approached me I thanked them for letting me know they were there and then I began FREAKING OUT. I thought I would get farther before seeing them. The thoughts in my head seriously went as follows:

    • I don’t know this course well enough so maybe I need to pull up a course map
    • Maybe I should just quit at the relay stop and not finish the marathon. No one would judge me.
    • What will happen if I get lost? Will someone redirect me?!

    My freaking out later until I texted my friend Stephanie (I RUN California) and told her I was having a mind f*ck because I got passed. She is amazing and told me to get out of my head and to get it done. It was exactly what I needed to hear. She’s my hero.

    Then the trucks began being nearby because they were picking up garbage and mile signs. At first it was so disheartening until I finally said to them “hey you should give me a ride!” and from there on out every time they were driving behind me or cleaning up and I passed by they cheered me on or made jokes how I hadn’t hopped on board yet. It was so perfect.

    Finally I got halfway.

    and thought to myself “why didn’t I do the relay?” 🤣

    After 13.1 I told myself to get to 16, then 2, then 22, 24 and 26.2 and it helped to have smaller chunks to aim for.

    The rest of the miles are a bit of a blur. I don’t remember who I saw or what I did but I kept on pace and maintained my run walk intervals 75/45, the entire race, though my mileage pace slowed.

    I did get a photo with Ann, who I was hoping I would see!

    Mile 20 was a sight to see. And I felt really good. No wall.

    About mile 22 I was starting to fade and took in more fuel (I had maintained a solid every 45 minutes) and then saw my friend Mary who ran with me for a bit. It was perfect.

    On my shoes I had shoe charms that my follower Debbie so graciously gifted me that said “this is tough/you are tougher” and seeing them on my feet was so perfect.

    Finally I got into Sac and started recognizing where I was. It was also around that time that my tired little brain trying doing math to figure out my finish time. I was shooting to finish in 6:40, a one minute course PR from last year. My math said it was possible so I said to myself at mile 23 “you didn’t just come here to finish- you came here to do this”

    And as I came through the last mile of the race I was not only going to beat that time but I was going to crush it.

    And I did. 6:35.

    You guys, let me just say, I have never cried so hard at a marathon finish. I always cry at a marathon finish but today was exceptional. I cried so hard because I was so damn proud of myself.

    My training was rough. September I ran hardly any miles because I was constantly rehearsing for my show. October on the other hand, I did double workout days twice a week, and performed four nights a week and ran long on weekends before performing and took zero rest days. November was shaping up until the air quality tanked. I lost two weeks of training, and I lost my 18 mile long run which I was banking on because my 17 mile training run was so horrific. To see a 6:35 finish really made me feel SO justified in how hard I worked. When you’re knee deep in training, sometimes you think “why am I doing this?” And it isn’t until that goal is achieved that it all comes together.

    I felt strong today. Really strong. Really proud of what my mind and my body could do. So I let myself cry because if we aren’t our biggest cheerleaders then who will be?

    I am not in any condition to marathon PR (6:07:28) but I know as I get stronger and lose weight I can do it. Next year will be my year to PR all my distances!

    I’m now officially a 4 time marathon runner. I weigh over 200 pounds and took choir in high school and was grateful to hear it meant I didn’t have to take PE. I used to be so heavy I couldn’t wake up in the mornings or walk up a set of stairs. I used to have little self confidence about what I could achieve.

    I am a strong athletic woman who runs marathons, and today was a huge win for me. It helped show me how far I’ve come mentally and physically, and how I am ready for my next round of goals.

    I am so honored and proud to have finished today in 6:35 and would trade none of it. I can’t wait to 26.2 again and know exactly which one I’m going for next year… but first I’ll take a little break from the marathon for trail running and road half’s.

    Thanks for being here for me team! You mean the world.

    With gratitude,