Feeds:
Posts
Comments

My husband Mike and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a trip to Napa Valley last weekend. We stayed at the Inn on Randolph, a lovely bed and breakfast in the town of Napa itself.

We clean up OK after a 10-mile run, wouldn't you say?

We clean up OK after a 10-mile run, wouldn’t you say?

I get pretty sentimental when I think back to when Mike and I started dating in high school 26 years ago. I knew he was the one for me, but I could not have imagined that we would go on to have three girls (now 6, 9 and 12) and be so lucky to have the life we do now.

Our first night in Napa we went to Mustards Grill, where I had best duck I’ve ever eaten (and that’s not just because I consumed it with a flight of red wine, where I managed to choose the most expensive of the three selections as my favorite — maybe I’m not such a cheap date after all!)

Back in town we walked to Frati Gelato Cafe for dessert. Their chocolate is not my favorite but the sorbets are incredible. We sat along the riverfront and listened to live music in the park nearby.

The next day we rented bikes from Napa Valley Bike Tours in Sonoma. There’s also a shop in the upscale town of Yountville and we could have ridden from there on the Silverado Trail, but we preferred to shy away from the tipsy drivers and instead chose to ride on the back roads in Sonoma. Our first stop was at one of the smaller wineries, Homewood.

At the Homewood Winery, our first stop on our self-crafted bike tour.

At the Homewood Winery, our first stop on our self-crafted bike tour.

Mike got to chat up the Homewood vintner David, who happily answered our questions about when to harvest the grapes from the two Cabernet Sauvignon vines we have growing at home. We loved David’s wines, and the 2010 late harvest Semillon dessert wine turned out to be our favorite wine of the many we tasted over the course of the weekend.

After our first tasting we rode across the street for lunch at The Fremont Diner. The service was terrible (a 45-minute wait for our to-go order of food?!) but the Whole Hog sandwich and mac and cheese were delicious!

Next we headed to Gundlach Bundschu, affectionately called Gun Bun. It’s a gorgeous 153-year-old estate vineyard with an interesting family history. It offered a totally different tasting experience in a large tasting room with a bit of a crowd.

We ended up riding 14 miles total and loving the whole thing. You can take a more expensive, organized bike tour but the bike shop helped us create our own route and tailored a unique, private ride that suited us better.

We turned the bikes back in just before 5 p.m., picked up the wine we’d bought from Homewood, and headed to FARM Restaurant at The Carneros Inn for the best meal of our trip. We sat outside on the gorgeous patio and splurged on the 7-course tasting menu with wine pairing. It was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary!

One might think that seven wine pairings might not be the best way to prepare for a long run the next day — and one might be right — but Mike and I woke up at 6 a.m. and got right out to Alston Park for a run on the trail through the dog park:

The clouds kept the temperature at 61 in the morning, and burned off to reach the 90s later in the day!

The clouds kept the temperature at 61 degrees in the morning, and burned off for blue skies and temperatures in the 90s later in the day!

followed by an out-and-back up Dry Creek Road.

Nothing like a giant T-Rex to motivate you to run!

Nothing like a giant T-Rex to motivate you to run!

We stopped to pick nature’s best fuel — wild blackberries!

picking blackberries

Mike ran 10 miles with me and you’d never know that it was the first time he’d run that far! We finished the run on the downhill along Dry Creek Road and hit 8-minute mile times for the last three miles!

After a quick clean-up in the whirlpool tub in our room and quinoa salad for breakfast at the B&B, we headed out for our last wine tasting, this time at Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford. The B&B owner knew we would love going to a mid-size winery that practices sustainable agriculture to grow organic grapes without watering (a huge plus for them and us in this extended drought in California).

View of the organic gardens that border the vineyard at Frog's Leap Winery

View of the organic gardens that border the vineyard at Frog’s Leap Winery

It’s funny because the Frog’s Leap wine labels do not say anything about the wine being organic — you can tell that the winery simply wants to be known for making great wine, and it does! We ended up buying some Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a unique, heritage red blend.

We ended our trip with lunch at Bottega in Yountville. I highly recommend it for an excellent meal for a (more) reasonable price in Napa. And you can’t leave without going next door for chocolates and gelato at Kollar Chocolates!

Have you ever been to Napa? Confess, do you own a “Will Run for Wine” or “Will Bike for Wine” t-shirt?! 

Each summer for the past three years, my family has gone to family camp for a week at Lair of the Golden Bear.

Pinecrest Lake

Pinecrest Lake

It is hands-down the best family vacation for the dollar (let’s put it this way: not cheap but worth every penny). The tiny town of Pinecrest, California is nestled in the Sierras in Northern California. At an elevation of 5,700 feet, it’s just a smidge higher than Boulder, Colorado. The air is clear and the oxygen is thin compared to sea level where I live in Southern California. Training at elevation is not easy but it’s oh-so-rewarding (according to Runner’s World there are a lot of Benefits of Altitude Training for Non-Pro Runners). I definitely had to adjust my expectations and run according to time and effort rather than according to mileage (i.e., I ran slower than I’d like but I put in the same effort and ran for the same amount of time as usual).

During that week at camp, I exercised every day:

Running: 3 runs for a total of 20.25 miles
Biking: 2 bike rides for a total of 21.17 miles
Yoga: 2 sessions for 45 minutes each
Kayaking: 1 session for 45 minutes
Horseback riding: 1 session for 45 minutes
Stand-up paddle boarding (LOVE): 1 session for 45 minutes
Strength training: 1 session (on the beach!) for 20 minutes

That means that I packed in 10 hours of exercise for the week and had a ton of fun in the process! I even got to exercise with my husband and kids for several of those activities (my 12-year-old accompanied me to yoga class, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and my 9-year-old went kayaking and horseback riding with my husband and me).

I went for two trail runs and on the second run around Pinecrest Lake I stopped several times to take photos:

The dirt trail bordering Pinecrest Lake

The dirt trail bordering Pinecrest Lake

Dam, that’s a nice dam!

Pinecrest Lake Dam

(Full disclosure: right after I crossed that bridge and hit the dirt trail again, I literally hit the dirt trail. I did a “Superman” when my trailing foot clipped a rock and I went flying through the air, landing on my right shoulder and right hip. I wasn’t hurt so much as my pride was injured).

I hung in there though and was rewarded when the trail looked like this:

Pinecrest Recreational Trail marker

Pinecrest Recreational Trail marker

Here’s the marker close up:

Love it when a trail requires these markers pounded into the rock face.

Love it when a trail requires these markers pounded into the rock face.

So, the fact that I went on vacation with my family for a week did not mean that I slacked on marathon training. I kept up the training plan and had a great time in the process!

Where’s the most interesting place you’ve exercised in the past few months? Pinecrest is the best but I’m looking forward to a 20th wedding anniversary trip to Napa Valley soon and I expect to get in a run and maybe a bike ride too!

Butterfly birthday cakeMy youngest daughter turned six last week. Good thing she’s such a delightful six-year-old or I would be having more trouble with the fact that my baby is definitely not a baby anymore. She asked for a “spring” theme for her birthday party, and that morphed (butterfly pun intended) into a butterfly theme. So this weekend we had a houseful of 13 kids and 15 adults for a pool party and barbecue, kicked off with butterfly-themed crafts that appealed to girls and boys ages 4-13.

First each child decorated his or her own party favor bag (three for a dollar at Dollar Tree; I chose pink, yellow and orange). The kids used glitter glue ($1 pack from Dollar Tree) and permanent markers to draw pictures or write their names on their bags.

My 9-year-old stuck with the butterfly theme for her party favor bag.

My 9-year-old stuck with the butterfly theme for her party favor bag.

Then each child got to select a small wooden picture frame (in the shape of a butterfly, sun or flower, $1 each at Target) to decorate with Sharpies and/or stickers.

More of my 9-year-old's handiwork, just waiting for a picture to put in the frame.

More of my 9-year-old’s handiwork, just waiting for a picture to put in the frame.

Then came the most fun project: making milk carton butterflies to hang on the windows with suction cup hooks.

milk jug butterfly window craft

Supplies: rinsed clear plastic milk jugs, Sharpies of all colors, pipe cleaners cut in half, assorted beads, and suction cup hooks (pack of 12 for $1 at Dollar Tree). I followed the directions from AlphaMom for these Milk Jug Decorative Window Crafts and printed the free butterfly template from that page. The kids did surprisingly well with little assistance needed from me. Even my 6-year-old liked to cut out around the butterfly when she was done. And here are the finished products mounted on our butterfly wall:

My 12-year-old made butterfly decorations for the party and the kids added their milk jug butterflies during the party!

My 12-year-old made butterfly decorations for the party and the kids added their milk jug butterflies during the party!

After swimming and dinner, we finished the party with the beautiful butterfly cake below (I can call it beautiful without bragging because I didn’t make it — my husband and my 6-year-old baked and decorated the cake themselves!)

Butterfly birthday cake

To make the cake they followed the instructions from this How to Make a Butterfly Cake tutorial by Betty Crocker, but they used this DC Cupcakes vanilla cupcake recipe for the cake mix and frosting. The rainbow-colored candy sticks for the body of the butterfly were $4.99 for a pack of 25 from Party City.

So, with a little advance planning and shopping, we had a lot of fun with the butterfly theme!

Do you have a favorite birthday memory? My favorite birthday theme was an angel-themed party complete with angel wings, gold halos and an angel birthday cake with tiny silver decorative balls on it!

To make up for my absence on this computer diary of life, let’s play a game called: What’s Fit Fun Mom Been Up To? Has she:

(A) Been kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, trail running, doing yoga, standup paddle boarding, biking, and running,

(B) Narrowly avoided being bitten by a dog on a bike ride (I mean, Fit Fun Mom on a bike ride, not the dog on a bike ride — now that would really be something to write about),

(C) gotten lost on a 70-mile bike ride (gee, maybe the title of this post is a hint?),

(D) panicked about the fact that the Santa Rosa Marathon is less than seven weeks away, or

(E) all of the above.

If you picked E, you are a winner!

While I would eventually like to talk about A, B, and D, let’s start with C because dude, 70 miles on the bike! A new personal distance record! And it was awesome. By which I mean that at mile 20 all the Legos were dancing in my head and singing “Everything is awesome!” and I worried that by mile 60 I would be dragging. But at mile 40 the Legos were still dancing and singing, and at mile 60 they were still dancing and singing. Even when I realized that yep, I had indeed missed the turnoff for the correct trail and there was no way I was going to make it home in a total of 63 miles as planned, and I needed to call my husband to tell him I’d be a little longer, and could he maybe finish making the kids breakfast and come pick me up somewhere between where I was and where I wanted to be (our house), depending on how far I made it in the next half hour? K thanks bye.

I had carefully plotted out a 63-mile loop from my house to the Santa Ana River Trail, along the Huntington Beach Path and Pacific Coast Highway to Seal Beach, up the San Gabriel River Trail to the Coyote Creek Trail and back to my house.

My bike, Bullet, next to the Santa Ana Water Bottle Filling Station. How cool is that?

My bike, Bullet, next to the Santa Ana Water Bottle Filling Station. How cool is that?

I had mainly been concerned about riding on the roads, because I simply do not trust cars not to squish me, so I’d paid particular attention to how to get to the dedicated bike paths on side roads or roads with bike lanes. That meant I didn’t pay much attention to how the Coyote Creek Trail breaks off from the San Gabriel River Trail almost immediately after the trailhead in Seal Beach, so the singing Legos and I happily followed the San Gabriel River Trail for miles and miles, wondering where the turnoff would show up and suspecting I’d missed it but who cares because Everything Is Awesome! The funny thing is that my husband and I had ridden the Coyote Creek Trail to the San Gabriel River Trail and back before, just to go to Seal Beach for Thai food (isn’t that why everyone bikes 35 miles?) So I thought I knew where I was going. Except the path was in pretty poor condition when we rode it, and it passed through some ugly industrial areas, and yet on this ride the path was newly paved and mainly followed a pretty garden nursery, the San Gabriel River, and horse properties. I kept celebrating how they’d repaved the path and done such a good job beautifying the trail, and I kept waiting for the industrial section to appear. But of course that was never going to happen because the “newly paved trail” was actually a section of the San Gabriel River Trail I’d never ridden before.

Eventually, about 18-19 miles up the San Gabriel River Trail, after I was pretty darn sure I wasn’t going the right way because I should have reached the other trail by then, and I kept getting closer and closer to the mountains and knew I’d have to turn right sometime, I came to a trail exit on a road I recognized and I knew how to ride the roads until I got to the Whittier Greenway Trail and get home. Mike ended up meeting me at mile 70.09 (4 hours and 21 minutes into the ride) and driving me the remaining three miles home. At that point you might think, “What’s another three miles?” but when I was only supposed to ride 60 for my plan, and 63 was pushing it, and I’d actually ridden 70, it was, I think, smart to stop there and not ride another mile or three.

And that’s how I inadvertently rode 70 miles last Sunday. I texted my friend Seth who has ridden a century (a 100-mile bike ride) before and he confirmed that a 70-miler is indeed enough to train and taper for a century. It’s one of my goals to complete a century someday, and there are two Bike MS century events in Southern California coming up in October. I’m tempted!

Are you an avid bike rider? I ride two to three times a week, either in spin class or on the roads/trails. Each ride is at least 20 miles.

Do you ride as part of your running training? Yes, for a long time I have followed training plans from Run Less, Run Faster or Smart Marathon Training, both of which call for three runs plus at least two cross-training workouts (biking and/or swimming).

Have you ever ridden a century? Nope, but Everything Is Awesome and I totally believe I could do it.

With ten more weeks to go until the Santa Rosa Marathon, my training plan has kicked into high gear. This past week, I laid down my highest training volume ever with 13 hours of running, spinning, and strength workouts, capped with this ride to the beach and back yesterday:

That's a personal distance record on the bike!

That’s a personal distance record on the bike!

My legs felt great after the ride but my everything else hurt! Today my shoulders and neck remind me that they held a helmet up yesterday for four hours, but no other body parts register any complaints. I am still grateful though that the plan calls for just 30 minutes of core work today.

Generally with marathon training I put in about eight hours of exercise a week, so this plan is taking me into new territory. The plan actually called for about 10 hours of exercise, but I had to bump the long run to Monday instead of Sunday and that put the total for the week at 13 hours. I’m on high alert for overtraining and/or injuries but so far so good. Putting a lot of miles on the bike allows me to increase the training time without increasing the strain on my legs.

Bike: 105 miles (25 miles on Tuesday, 20 miles on Thursday, 60 miles on Sunday)
Run: 37.75 miles (long run of 18 miles that got pushed from a week ago Sunday to Monday, plus the killer 12.25 mile ladder workout on Wednesday, plus 7.5 “easy” miles on Friday)
Strength: 30 minutes (I’ve been doing at least two strength workouts per week for an hour total but this week I traded one of the strength workout days for the long run)

Saturday was a “rest” day if you call five hours of housecleaning “rest.” I celebrated the accomplishments of the day by harvesting the apples from our trees:

These are the low-chill varieties of apples called Anna and Dorsett Golden.

These are the low-chill varieties of apples called Anna and Dorsett Golden.

Yes you can grow apples in Southern California! The Annas grew to a nice size this year and the Dorsett Goldens are tiny but tasty.

How many hours of exercise do you generally get in a week?

Personally I like Pi Day, March 14 (3.14, get it?):

Chocolate meringue pie that I baked for the 6th graders to celebrate Pi Day

Chocolate meringue pie that I baked for the 6th graders to celebrate Pi Day

But National Running Day is also a day I can get behind. I celebrated it today with Rice Krispies Treats. No, I’m only kidding, I celebrated it with a whopper of a speed workout (and then I ate some Rice Krispies Treats).

I budgeted an hour for my run this morning, not realizing that this was the King of All Speed Workouts:

1 mile warmup

(400m, 800m, 1,200m, 800m, 400m) times 3,
at 10K pace (7:41, 7.8 mph)

rest interval of 400m jog in between each repeat

1 mile cooldown

= 12.25 miles in 1:55:45.

So, I celebrated National Running Day twice, running the first 6.25 miles in the hour I budgeted before my youngest daughter’s swim lessons, and running the last 6 miles after we got home from getting frozen yogurt. (Yes, fine, I had frozen yogurt and Rice Krispies Treats today, but only because the girls got Yogurtland coupons from the summer reading program at the library and this is the Summer of Yes, as in “Can we get frozen yogurt at Frozen Yogurtland?” (that’s what my 5-year-old calls it). Answer, “Yes.” (Within reason of course. “Can we watch eleventy billion hours of television?” Answer, “No.”)

What’s up with the 12.25-mile speed workout? That’s a long run by most people’s standards. But I’m following the Smart Marathon Training intermediate marathon training plan, and I think it called for the King of All Speed Workouts because this week’s “long run” is replaced with a “long bike” of 60 miles. That will be a new personal distance record for me on the bike, by the way. Just a few weeks ago I did 50 miles in 3 hours 15 minutes. I confess that during that time there was never a moment that I said, “Gee, I really wish I were running 20 miles instead of biking today.”

If I prefer biking to running, then why do I run?

National Running Day I Run

Did you celebrate National Running Day? Why do you run?

Irrational thought number one: If I talk about my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon someday, that will jinx it. Such hubris will be punished by the running gods.

Cliché-filled thought number two: That’s ridiculous! Own your goal! You’ve got to believe it to achieve it!

So, here’s an honest look at what I’m thinking right now. I’m 42 years old and currently need a 3:45 to qualify for Boston.

Previous marathon times:

4:02:39 at the Santa Barbara International Marathon (race recap) in 2012

3:57:29 at the Mountains2Beach Marathon (race recap) in 2013

3:52:42 at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon (race recap) in 2013

That means I need to cut 7 minutes and 42 seconds off my time to qualify for Boston. That might not sound like a lot over the course of 26.2 miles, but it’s the difference between running at a pace of 8:52 per mile (about 6.8 miles per hour) and 8:35 per mile (about 7 miles per hour) for those 26.2 miles. Take into account that it’s hard to run the tangents perfectly for 26.2 miles, and I really need to hit more like an 8:31 pace (7.04 miles per hour) for 26.4 miles.

How do I plan to do that? Well, I’ve been mixing up my training with more hill training, strength workouts, and speed drills. Then I tested my legs by training and tapering specifically for a half marathon. I came in at 1:48:02, and promptly plugged that time into the McMillan Running Calculator, which predicts that if I can run a half marathon at 1:48:02, I can train to run a full marathon at 3:47:22 (so close to 3:45)! Adjust for the fact that the half marathon had 764 feet of gain over 13.1 miles, while the full marathon course only has 300 feet of gain over 26.2 miles, and I’m optimistic! But then adjust again for the fact that it’s likely to be hotter for the Santa Rosa Marathon in August than it was for the half in Santa Ynez in May, and adjust again for the fact that it’s a challenge for me to fuel properly for 26.2 miles, and I’m completely humbled and intimidated by the prospect of running another full marathon.

All of those calculations and speculations led me to examine the Boston Qualifying standards again, and something stood out to me. The Boston Qualifying rules state that for the age group qualifying standards:

The qualifying times . . . are based upon each athlete’s age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which they are participating.

Did you get that and what it means? It means that in order for me to bump up to the 3:55 qualifying standard from the current 3:45, I can run a qualifying marathon time for the 2017 Boston Marathon in the fall of 2015 when I am age 44 (because qualifying times for the 2017 marathon must be run on or after mid-September 2015). Right?

So, to put it another way, I realized that if I don’t qualify for Boston 2015 at Santa Rosa in August or for Boston 2016 at Surf City in February with a 3:45, I could go for a Boston 2017 time at a fall race in 2015 when I’m 44 but will be age 45 at the time of Boston 2017, which pushes my necessary qualifying time to 3:55. So that means if I can hang on to or better my current PR of 3:52 for another year, I might just make it! Of course, the rules and standards for qualifying could change between now and then, but it seems encouraging to me.

Am I looking at this correctly? Have you qualified for Boston and/or are you currently targeting a BQ at an upcoming race?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 191 other followers