Running Around San Francisco

I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll probably say it every time I go to a new city – the absolute best way to explore somewhere that you have never been is to lace up your sneakers at get out there!

I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco for a quick 26 hour stay. My company was hosting a party after a big conference out there, and part of my responsibilities is to coordinate said party, and make sure everything ran smoothly. I was in San Francisco at 11am PST on Wednesday, which meant I was out the door at 4:30am EST that morning. Our party was not until 8pm that night, so I had some time to kill.

I stayed at an awesome hotel just north of the downtown area – the Fairmont Hotel. It was pretty much amazing and I totally lucked out being able to stay there!

I really had only one thing on my list of things that I absolutely had to see while I was in California – the Golden Gate Bridge of course. From my hotel, I walked out and had my mind set on getting a glimpse of it. I had originally planned to just go find it while on my run yesterday, but with a beautiful day on Wednesday, I decided to move it up a day.

 I was warned that San Francisco can get quite foggy at the drop of a hat, so I didn’t want to risk it! I set out for quite the challenging walk soon after checking in to my hotel. People aren’t kidding when they say that city is hilly!  From my hotel, I walked south to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was bummed that I had just grabbed a bite to eat, as everything sold by the vendors looked amazing. I’m definitely putting that place on my list for next time!

After checking that area out a bit, I headed East to Fort Mason park. On the way down the hills, I was completely jealous of everyone with bicycles – however, once reaching the park, I was glad I didn’t have 2 wheels. People were having to walk their bikes up the incredibly steep hills. It definitely made me chuckle.

From this area, I got great views of both Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge! The fog was just starting to come in, so I am glad that I got there when I did!

 

 

I was super happy that the bridge was in (relatively) clear view, but I knew I wanted to be closer. I didn’t have time to go on Wednesday, (I was there to work after all) so I went back to my original plan to see it during my run on Thursday.

When I woke up way too early yesterday (darn you Eastern time zone!) I looked outside to see the entire city blanketed in fog. Good thing I went with my gut on Wednesday! I actually just bummed around for a solid hour, and then knew I needed to get out if I was going to get a run in. Before hitting up the bridge again, I had another stop that I needed to make first….

Being a child of the 90’s, I grew up watching the Tanner family on TGIF, so the Full House – house was a must see for me too! With just a little Google mapping, I found it!  Of course, it wasn’t all that big of a deal, but it surely made me smile!

 Now, this is the house they used for inside shots – I was unaware of that originally, but once I got to it, I knew it did not have the unmistakable red door, and decided to Google a bit further. I will have to find the other one next time!! After I said goodbye to the Tanners, I headed down to  Chrissy Field, which has been recommended to me to have uninterrupted views of the Golden Gate bridge.

On my way there, I went down one helluva hill. Just look at this thing! It was so steep that it was pedestrian only traffic. I felt like I needed stairs to actually go up it – I definitely steered clear of that on the way home

The fog hadn’t cleared up too much, so it was a pretty rough picture, but it was neat to see it in the fog too. It was very mysterious looking – as was Alcatraz! Kinda spooky too!

Once I got my last few of the bridge, I headed back, and stumbled upon a really cool (to me) exercise contraption. It seemed to me pretty much like a play area for adults. It had 7 stations that all took 1 minute a piece, and you could even listen to music while performing the exercises!

Isn’t it so cool!? No need for a gym membership when you can run in a gorgeous place and have a place to workout too!

After I finished up gawking at the exercise playground, I headed back to the hotel in a bit of a run walk fashion. I ran my long run this morning (I may have forgotten about that yesterday when I went on that run) so I didn’t want the hills to pull too much more on my quads and hamstrings. I ran all the flat spots, and walked up the super steep uphill and downhills. I’m not sure how much of a difference it made though – my hips are definitely on fire!

Even though I was there for only a short time, I absolutely fell in love with San Francisco! The weather was awesome (I actually wore long sleeves on my run!), the people were very nice, and it just had such a cool vibe to it! I can not wait to go back in the near future!! Anyone down for Nike Women’s Marathon (or half!!) one of these days !? The correct answer is yes! ;)

So now, I am in the amazing city of Boston. I got here late last night, around midnight. The last time I was here was in 2011 for the Boston Marathon and am so happy to be back. I am here for Healthy Living Summit, my first ever healthy living conference! I am soo pumped for this weekend, and can’t wait to share with you the great things I take away from it! I got back from my long run a bit ago, and am glad to have it out of the way. Meghann joined me for the first 6 miles, and it was soo fun to explore the city on a little running tour with her!

Have you ever ran around San Francisco?! What did you think about those crazy hills? Any other Full House fans out there!? I think I have had the intro song in my head since I got on the plane from Tampa ;)

Race Collectibles

I feel like we all have our little quirks when we go on vacation in relation to things we like to pick up. I have a bunch of friends that like to get new shot glasses, or pilsner glasses, or even tshirts. I am definitely one of the people who like to pick up a treasure when travelling, but my little indulgence is not any of the ones mentioned before. I like to get coffee cups!

Now, I’m not talking just a coffee mug either – my favorite ones to find are from races that I have done. It all started with the Turkey Trot that I have come to know and love. A few years back, they started giving out mugs to the Top 100 finishers. The first year I earned one, I knew I had to do so each year after that. So for the past 7 years, I have come home on Thanksgiving with a new porcelain cup! (Not sure where the others are at the moment – biggest culprit -> the dishwasher). After that, it all kind of went down hill. I picked one up in NYC for the New York City Marathon.

And I had to grab one in Boston! I mean, honestly – its Bahston!

I have not been able to find the mugs at all of the other marathons that I have run unfortunately. I was also given a few for my performance in the Michelob Ultra Challenge for the Gasparilla Race Weekend. Finishers that complete the race in the top 10% of their age groups earn a mug, and since I did all 4 races…. well, you get it – I got a box mailed to me with 4 new coffee mugs!

I’ll be on the hunt in Chicago for another mug to add to my collection. Just don’t tell Marcus…. I think it drives him a little crazy! We have a few mugs in our cabinet ;)

My favorite part of my little collection is that every time I use one of the mugs, I think about the race, and the experience I had while competing in it. When I give so much of myself in my training, I think I earned the mug, and I want to be able to hold on to that experience for years to come!

Do you collect anything from big races that you do? Any strange ones? Any other coffee mug collectors out there?

Yoga For Runners Workshop

I have a confession to make. I’ve mentioned it a few times is the past couple of weeks. My hamstring – it’s killing me. I haven’t had a genuinely good workout in over 4 weeks – my pace has been all over the place, and my stride is shortened. Every time that I get out for a run, it takes me a solid 10 minutes to just warm up, and even then, I’m running through pain. I hurt it last year at the 1Day Relay, and then re aggravated it a few weeks at our multisport day. I’m going to take the next couple of weeks to really stretch and see if it will start to heal, and then re-evaluate my goal finishing time for Chicago. I am definitely running it, I’m just not so sure if I am going to be able to keep that 3:30 goal. I need to be honest with myself (and smart), and I’m not sure if my body can handle that stress right now.

I was telling my friend Dee about my issue, and she recommended that I check out a local yoga studio’s workshop. She gave me the flyer, and as soon as I saw the name of it, I knew I was going to be signing up!

A yoga class that focused solely on runners?! Heck yes! I signed up online a few weeks ago, and Sunday was finally the day of the workshop! I was super pumped to attend, as I am willing to do just about anything (within reason of course) to get this hamstring pain to go away. I showed up to class and was surprised to see how many people I recognized just from my normal running route. It looks like we were all ready for some good runner’s yoga!!

The instructor told us to grab 2 blocks, a blanket (???), a strap, and this other pillow thing – yep, that’s the technical term ;) I grabbed all of my things, and I was ready to go!

Caroline Almon was our amazing instructor. She was a competitive runner who competed in high school, college, and professionally at the Olympic Trials! She was incredibly knowledgeable about running, yoga, and everywhere in between. I was sure to let her know about my hamstring before class started, and she was great about helping to modify certain poses so that I did not aggravate it even more. She explained every pose, and was great about hitting on the different scientific terms for which part of our body it affected. I really loved her approach. She asked us to think about how each section of the practice related to the following:

  • Balance
  • Strength & Flexibility
  • Awareness
  • Recovery

I had never had yoga broken down like this for me, so having the different poses explained in such a way with each category really clicked in my mind. Caroline mentioned how as athletes we always want to push ourselves with workouts that are cardiovascular & intense, and that it is just as important to attend yoga to help to keep your body from injury. I am taking note – more yoga, less injuries!!

The workshop was a full 2 hours, but it flew by! We did so many amazing poses, and really focused on hamstrings & hips – the areas that plague most runners. I think I will be buying myself a block, along with a good yoga strap to be able to hold the poses deeper and in my range of flexibility (which will hopefully increase!!). Oh, and if you are wondering what the blanket was for – Caroline recommended that people with tight hips use it when sitting in certain poses to help support the hips and lower back. I had never seen that before, so though that maybe some of you haven’t either ;)

This was my first time to Bella Prana Yoga Studio, and I definitely plan to be back. The environment was great, and the staff was awesome too! I had an amazing experience at this workshop, and learned so much that I plan to take back with me. I am committing to 10 minutes of yoga a day. I believe this kind of stretching will really help to heal my hamstring. Only time will tell!!

Have you ever been to a running specific workshop? Anyone else ever suffer from hamstring issues? What did you do to help heal it?

 

 

Wanted: A Shorter Morning Routine

I am usually pretty good about running in the morning. I can get up and get going somewhat easy – it just takes me about 25 minutes from alarm clock ring to actually start running. I feel like that time between waking up is a bit ridiculous. I would much rather just get up, change, and get out the door in 10 minutes or less! That would mean 15 whole minutes more of glorious sleep! Here are a few ideas that I have to get myself out the door a bit quicker.

Put my alarm clock out of reach

If I have to physically get out of bed to turn off my alarm, I will probably just stay out from under the covers. When I ran in college, this was the only way that I was able to get out of bed and be to practice, ready to run, at 6am. Otherwise, I am pretty sure I would have overslept far too many times.

Set out my clothes

This seems very grade-school esque, but I think it works. Having everything laid out makes it sooo much easier to not make up an excuse – “Oh no, I’m out of socks!? Bummer, can’t run…”. Plus, if you don’t actually workout, those same clothes that you were supposed to have already thrown into the dirty clothes are going to be staring at you when you finally get out of bed. Don’t want that now, do we?

Plan things in the afternoon

If I know that I have nothing going on after work, I am wayyyy more likely to hit the snooze button for a few more zzzz’s. But if I have something going on, even if it is just a trip to Target, I have to get up. I almost NEVER skip a workout, so a busy schedule helps me to keep to my early morning running.

Realize how freaking hot it is at night

Even when the sun goes down in the evening, it is still sooo much warmer than running at 6:30 in the morning. The sun that has been shining all day has been soaked up in to all of the asphalt, and is now just radiating up into your sneakers and the rest of your body. It is hot now regardless, but I will go ahead and enjoy even a 5 degree difference at this point. That could be the difference in hitting or not hitting a key workout (which unfortunately for me has been the latter lately…)

Not have to worry about the times I eat all day

If I run at night, I am always looking at the clock to make sure that I eat a snack at the right time, and that I am not eating certain foods passed certain times so that it doesn’t affect my run later. Knowing that I can eat whatever (within moderation, of course) is a really nice perk of morning running. There is little to no GI distress for me if I run in the morning.

Eat an earlier dinner so my food digests better

Wednesday night, I ate dinner close to 9pm. We got home late from swim practice, and then had to actually make dinner, so that made for a less than ideal eating time. Not having to use the facilities in the morning (if ya know what I mean….) makes for a much quicker time to get out the door the next morning! An earlier dinner means your body can digest and dispose of the food earlier (yep, I just referred to poop!)

Schedule to run with a friend

If I ever am scheduled to run with someone else, I never skip it. When I know that someone else is counting on me, I am far more likely to get out the door on time! Not only would I be giving up on my workout, but I would be disappointing a friend as well. There is always power in numbers!

What other ideas do you have to get up earlier in the morning? Share them with me! :)

 

The 6 Mile Treadmill Incline Workout

As much as afternoon thunderstorms can really put a wrench in training for a marathon, I actually didn’t mind it Monday afternoon. I hopped on the treadmill so that I could dodge the lightning, and it was a nice change of pace actually. The heat has been such a killer lately, and it was really nice to focus on something other than me sweating my brains out!

When I was driving home from work, I was thinking about the workout that I wanted to tackle. My training plan had me running at tempo pace, but I knew that was just not going to happen. My hamstring has been giving me a rough couple of weeks, and I knew that pushing 7 minute pace was not going to happen. Instead, I went ahead and made up an incline workout, to just change it up a bit.

 

The workout was tough to say the least! I was huffing and puffing once I got to the 5% incline, and could only look at mileage, hoping for the next half mile increment to pop up! The biggest key to this workout is to do the entire thing at the same pace, just different inclines. If you can not hold the same pace for the entire workout, then you are pushing too hard in the beginning. I kept my pace at a steady 6.8 mph. This was very easy for me at the beginning, but was very challenging once I hit my max incline.

The best part was how it actually felt like I was going down hill when I decreased the incline on the second half of the run. I was technically still going uphill, but since the resistance was so much more difficult at the higher incline, it actually felt easy! I loved that about the run – it definitely put inclines for different runs into perspective!

I was happy to be able to test out my new sports bra too! I have the opposite problem of many people – I do not need a bra with support. I actually hate the ones with a lot of support because they are too tight! I found a super cute one over the weekend at Lululemon, and thought I would share it with you all! I love the detail in the back – it gives slight support and it quite functional. No rubbing or chaffing – just smooth running ;)

The straps are not too thin, and not too thick. It is a very feminine top, but the look of it does not get in the way of the functionality. I definitely recommend checking it out! It is the Lululemon Free to Be Bra in Caspian Blue!

How often do you do incline workouts on the treadmill? Do you change up speeds, or keep it at the same pace?

***I was not paid to review the Lululemon top. I just like it and want to share it with you all***