Archive for April, 2014

Southern California is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. But after I’ve run the same routes, hills, tracks, trails and treadmills over and over again, I get a little bored. That’s part of the reason I rarely run the same race twice. I like to run someplace new and it’s such a privilege to get to run on a closed course.

Lately when I get bored, I just think back to my spring break trip and pretend that I’m here:

Malaekahana Bike Path Laie

That’s the Malaekahana Bike and Pedestrian Path from La’ie to Kahuku on the North Shore. It’s a wide, paved path that runs for a little over a mile next to Kamehameha Highway. I ran along it my last morning on Oahu. Everyone should have a chance to run there and then take a cooldown walk along a beach like this:

Laie Oahu

Those clouds make it look dramatic and cold but it was balmy and peaceful in the early morning hour after my run.

Read Full Post »

“Fundraise for charity in connection with a race” occupies a high priority spot on my bucket list. I’d always secretly admired people who made the commitment to raise funds along with committing to training for a race itself, and I made it a point to donate what I could to each of my friends who sent out a fundraising plea in connection with a walk or run. Finally I’ve gotten the opportunity myself to fundraise in conjunction with the iCureMelanoma 5K Run/Walk on May 3, 2014, in Fullerton, California. So far “Team Book It!” has raised $935 towards melanoma research at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Melanoma Research Division.

Here are some fundraising tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Choose a race, a location, and/or a cause that have meaning to you. The race I chose is a local trail race that makes it easy for many of my family members and friends to participate. Also, it helps me ask local businesses to support the race and charity, because those businesses know that the race participants are some of the most likely candidates to take advantage of their businesses.

As for the cause of melanoma research:

Melanoma Cancer is rated as the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. In fact, recent statistics reveal that 1 in 50 people will develop invasive melanoma in their lifetime.

Some of you may know that I used to be an estate planning lawyer. One of my clients, a long, long time ago, came into the office for estate planning. One of the paralegals in my office pulled this person aside and offered advice about getting evaluated for potential skin cancer. Two months later (thankfully after the estate plan was in place), the person passed away from a particularly aggressive cancer. The risk of developing skin cancer is especially significant for endurance athletes like runners and triathletes who spend a lot of time in the sun. I had no qualms about supporting the important research being done in this area.

2. Investigate the charity and how the funds raised will be used. Is the affiliated charity a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity to which donations are tax deductible? How does the charity rate on Charity Navigator and similar sites? What percentage of the funds raised will go to pay for the race, and what percentage will be donated to the designated charity? In my case, it is the goal of the race organizers to pay for the race expenses through sponsorships so that all of the registration fees and donations go directly toward melanoma research.

3. Make it a group effort. I am lucky that my book discussion group decided to read Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run in conjunction with running this local 5K. That’s allowed us to solicit donations from my friends and family PLUS the friends and family of my friends. Don’t discount the fact that race registrations also benefit the charity involved. Team Book It! has 25 members with the hope of more, and all those registration fees benefit the charity.

4. Make friends with the race director. The race director is your best resource for materials and methods to ask for donations from local friends and businesses. Often a race director will have drafts of letters and sponsorship materials that you can pass along to potential corporate sponsors and business donors.

5. Capitalize on connections. Either you or your team members are bound to have connections to local businesses that will be happy to support your race efforts. Do you buy your running shoes from a local running store? Do you work out at a local gym? Is your friend on the board of a company that promotes health and fitness?

6. Use social media. What else are Facebook, Twitter and other social media for than to promote just such fundraising campaigns? I cannot imagine a better use of social media.

7. Don’t be shy. Now is not the time to be modest about your fitness efforts. Post about how hard you are training to do your best at the race. Ask for support! You might just be surprised how many people are willing to chip in what they can to support your fundraising and training efforts!

8. Consider unique fundraising methods. If you have a unique skill, take advantage of it! Can you run a bake sale where the proceeds benefit your charity? Do you have crafty friends who would be willing to donate hand-crafted items to be sold online to benefit the cause?

9. Pay your friends back in kind. If you want your friends and family to support you in your efforts, make sure you give back what you can when they ask the same.

10. Thank each donor personally. Pay attention to the donor roll or ask the race director to give you the names of people who donated to your fundraising. Write a personal thank you note, or, if you think the donors would not mind, thank them on social media for their contributions. It’s not about the amount, it’s about the fact that the donors were kind and generous enough to give what they could to support you, your race, and your charity of choice.

If you feel strongly about melanoma research and/or supporting random bloggers’ efforts at fundraising, please consider making a tax deductible donation to Team Book It! through that link. Can you help us push our donations for melanoma research over $1,000?! Thank you. (Please don’t be shy about leaving a comment to tell me that you donated! I really mean it when I say I would like to thank you personally!)

Have you ever raised funds in connection with a race? Do you have any advice to offer?

Read Full Post »

I desperately wanted to play hooky from my responsibilities on Monday to stay home and watch the live stream of the Boston Marathon. I was a good girl though, and had to satisfy myself later in the day with watching this clip of the men’s finish (via Beth of Shut Up + Run):

I don’t know about you but I cried when Meb started crying at the end. Fast forward to today when my friend Andrea posted this next video from the director of a popular local race, the Hollywood Half Marathon. Watching Ken made me cry too — a good, happy cry. Although Ken missed qualifying for Boston by 23 seconds (now THAT makes me want to cry), he traveled to Boston anyway to offer free hugs to the runners:

I know what it feels like to get a little energy boost from just such encouragement during a marathon. Any time a runner takes to stop for a high five or a hug comes back to him or her in a surge of goodwill and positive energy. Way to go, Ken!



Read Full Post »

My next big race on the calendar is the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon on May 10th. I figured it was totally fair to make Mother’s Day weekend all about me and my race, right?

That means I’m in the thick of training for that half, which then rolls right into my training for my fourth full marathon, the Santa Rosa Marathon at the end of August. I ran my longest run on the half marathon plan — 12 miles in 1:56 — last Sunday. For my current plan I’m running four days a week and cycling two days a week (once on my own and once at spin class). I also incorporate strength training two to three days a week for about 20 minutes each session. Pushups and I are still acquaintances but planks are my new best friends.

My training plans are my own personal mash-up of the Half Marathon Finish It Plan (free to download from that link!) from Train Like a Mother and the Intermediate Full Marathon plan from Smart Marathon Training:


Crossing off each workout on the training plan gives me a lot of satisfaction, and having a plan keeps me accountable. I can tell you there have been a few days recently where I would have opted not to work out had I not had a solid plan to stick to and a serious race looming on the calendar.

Do you have any races coming up? What training plan do you follow?

Read Full Post »

On the anniversary of the bombing of the Boston Marathon, my thoughts are with all those affected. I’m looking forward to seeing the race come back better than ever next Monday.

Personally, when someone says “Boston Marathon” I think back to the day I brought home my first baby from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I sat in the back seat of the car so I could hover nervously over my newborn on the drive home. Much to my chagrin the drive took extra long because we had to take a circuitous route back to our tiny on-campus apartment at MIT due to road closures for the marathon. Eventually we made it home safely and without tears (the baby’s or mine)! I can hardly believe it, but that baby turned 12 years old this past weekend! Which brings me to purpose of this post — the birthday cake:

Chocolate mousse cake

In our family, we’ve got birthdays in January, April, July, August and December, which means I’ve had many opportunities to experiment with various recipes to come up with the perfect chocolate cake and frosting recipes. The ones I’ve tried in the past were either too dry or too brownie-like (don’t get me wrong, I love a good brownie, but not when it’s supposed to be cake)! Finally, I’ve found the best chocolate cake ever. The following recipes make a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse frosting and a chocolate/raspberry/blackberry filling.



For the cake, use organic sugar (regular sugar is too bitter) and high quality cocoa powder (not hot chocolate cocoa powder) — e.g. Ghirardelli or the raw cacao sold at Sprouts. For the vegetable oil, we used safflower oil.

Chocolate mousse frosting:


For the mousse, the ingredients list is at the end of the video above. Double the mousse recipe to frost a two-layer cake. Use a high quality brick of baking dark chocolate like Valrhona. Put the metal mixing bowl in the freezer before you whip the cream and make sure the cream is chilled beforehand as well. Again use organic sugar. For the filling between the two layers of cake, mix 1/3 of the chocolate mousse with a small pack of blackberries and a small pack of raspberries. Frost the cake with the remaining chocolate mousse and garnish with the remaining berries. You can shave some extra chocolate on the top with a cheese grater if desired.

To keep the frosting from melting, put the frosted cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Over spring break I was lucky enough to travel to Hawaii for a week. I love to keep up with my fitness regimen when I’m on vacation because it means that I get to explore new locations! I find that the best way to get to know an area intimately is to run it! We’d driven around the North Shore on Oahu enough that I’d discovered the beach path that starts at Sunset Beach.

Sunset Beach

Much of the path is shaded by gorgeous tropical plants. I appreciated the shade cover even though it was only about 81 degrees on the late March day.


The tide pools at Pupukea tempted me but I kept on running.


I turned around when I reached the 3-mile point at Waimea Bay. I highly recommend the botanical gardens in the Waimea Valley. We had a lot of fun walking the paths and swimming in the natural pool at the bottom of Waimea Falls.


It wasn’t easy running six miles in the humid and windy climate of the North Shore. By the end my normally dry, California-trained lungs felt clogged with wet cotton, but I was one sweaty and happy girl!

Read Full Post »

The winner of last week’s giveaway of the book The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table is Kim from Day With KT!

Screen shot 2014-04-01 at 9.21.21 PM

I admire Kim’s daily commitment to fitness and enjoy her blog very much! You should check her blog out for daily strength training moves, honest and inspirational living, and to watch her as she trains for an ultramarathon!

That doesn’t mean you should ignore the other blogger who entered the contest — my longtime friend Geli who writes for the Run Oregon blog and recently posted a preview of the Vancouver USA Marathon and Half Marathon. I seriously considered that race before I settled on the Santa Rosa Marathon but the timing didn’t work out. Sometime I’m going to get up there to meet Geli in person. I would love to do the Hood to Coast relay with her someday!

Kim, please send me an email at fitfunmom at gmail dot com with your mailing address and I’ll get the book out to you ASAP!

Read Full Post »