Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 2017 and 77 in 2018!) has morphed into this passion for books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" also gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;) {PS One of my goals for 2019 is to read 19 books, let's see how many times over I can do that.}

There were TWENTY books in the first three month, so when I add April's FOUR that brings my total for 2019 to TWENTY-FOUR thus far! If you're interested in what I read (or how I'd rate them and whether I'd recommend you giving them a read or a hard pass), make sure to check out my recaps! {January's BooksFebruary's Books, March's Books}

  • Circe by Madeline Miller - I had seen a few friends mentioning this book (not to mention all of the best seller lists it was on) and decided I'd get in line at the library (the wait-list was already in the double digits when I got on it, so I figured it had to be good, right?!). Like most books I pick up, I had no idea what this was about (although I guess the image on the front cover should have given me a clue that it was possibly about a goddess). I am normally not someone who gets drawn into mythology (and, to be honest, I know very little about any of it), but this novel had me hooked from the beginning. It is rather long, but I felt like I kept wanting to find out what happened next so got through it rather quickly. I saw someone comment that this book was a "soap opera for the gods" and I've got to agree. There was a ton of drama, which kept me totally engaged. Circe, the main character of the book, was so interesting and although she was immortal, her humanity was ever present. No matter the type of book you normally grab, the action mixed with character growth will have most readers happy with the read. I wouldn't say it was the best book ever (I've heard some folks say this is now in their top three books), but it was entertaining and well written. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani - Yet again, I don’t remember how this book ended up on my library list (maybe a friend had recently read it, maybe it was on a feminist “must read” list), but whatever the reason I'm stoked it did! The hubby and I went to a Big Sur with my parents and I brought this book along for the trip. It just so happened that the day we left I shared a blog post that got quite a bit of hate and blowback. This book was EXACTLY what I needed to read when I read it. Reshma is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Girls Who Code, an organization doing their darnedest to get females interested in STEM subjects. This book shows how girls are often pigeonholed into believing they need to be perfect to be loved, to be successful, to amount to anything (whereas boys are often taught the importance of being brave, going after what they want, trying something new, learning how to fail, etc). This book hit the nail on the head and was what I needed to hear when I was in the middle of being bombarded with less than positive feedback (and in large quantities and all at once). I’m not saying it made the criticism any easier, but it did help me work through it faster. Maybe this book may not have had such a profound impact had I read it the week before, but I doubt it. This is one I think I need to read on an annual basis (if not once every month or so). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • There There by Tommy Orange - A friend of mine had shared this book on her Instagram a couple months back so I got on the wait list at the library. I knew nothing about it when it became available, but sort of read the title as a comforting "there, there" type phrase. I quickly found out that this was not what the title was referencing (it was actually from a quote about how a place was no longer the place they once remembered "there is no there there"). I found this book incredibly interesting, albeit slightly hard to follow at times. The story is an intertwining of 12 different characters and their journey to one specific event (a powwow in Oakland). Often times I found it hard to keep the different characters and their stories straight (some would only have a page or two about them, while others would have twenty to thirty pages before switching to another person). The hubby has a heart for the Native American people, so reading more about their plight was eye opening (even in a novel format). Even with the constant changing of points of view and narrative styles, I was hooked. The author does a great job at reinforcing his idea that the term "Native" cannot be easily defined. Although there may be similar themes in the Native experience, every tribe, family and person experiences things differently and we need to honor each and every one of those stories. I do have to say, I was a little bummed at the end of the story because I felt like there was so much left unfinished, but I do see why sometimes an author leaves a story open-ended and allows the reader's creativity to run wild and decide how everything turns out (although I'd much prefer they just spell it out for me). I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza - A friend of mine (the same friend who had shared about There There) had recently read this book, so I figured I'd grab it from the library. I didn't know what it was about prior to checking it out (surprise, surprise), and, to be honest, I would say for the first half of the book I wasn't really sure what it was about. It seemed as though nothing much was happening, and it was progressing slower than I would have liked, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. Although there are some heavy topics discussed in the book (substance abuse, arranged marriage, racism, religion, etc), I think what I ended up liking more was the seemingly mundane. The drama was relatable because many of us have experienced the different personalities and dynamics within a family - even if we aren't an immigrated Muslim family. The book jumped around a lot (both with the character's point of view and the time in the story), but seeing as there weren't a ton of characters to deal with it didn't make the switches too hard to follow. I think the final part in the book (it was broken up into four parts) where it was written from the father's perspective was my favorite. (I'm hoping there's a sequel because I'd love to know where the characters go from here.) I would give it an 8 out of 10.

With that, April has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Silicon Valley Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning was the 2nd Annual Silicon Valley Half Marathon put on by Represent Running.

As always, before I jump into the race recap, I've gotta catch you up to speed, right?! I have quite a few friends who are on the Represent Running Ambassador Team, which means I see and hear about the races they offer frequently. With that said, a few months ago a bunch of us were throwing around the idea of making this race happen (along with the #FoodTruck5K that was set to run after the half marathon and 10K finished... because, when one race is good, two are better, right?!). None of us need a ton of convincing (when running and friends are involved most of us will jump at the chance to make a race work into our schedules), so we all looked into flights, hotel costs, etc and pulled the trigger.


Originally I was thinking I'd drive, but when I saw a cheap flight from San Diego to San Jose (which only was 65 minutes long instead of the 6.5+ HOURS of driving), I snagged a seat and thanked my lucky stars. (Don't get me wrong, I have no issue driving {I actually enjoy it, especially when I get to listen to an audiobook or three}, but with gas prices around $4/gallon in SoCal, not only was the flight going to save me about 10 hours, it also was about $25 cheaper each way!)


My game plan was to fly into San Jose around noon on Saturday, stop by the Expo for my bibs, drop my stuff at the hotel and meet up with friends for dinner by 4pm. Well, unfortunately my flight was delayed by about an hour, which meant I didn't land in San Jose until after 1pm (with bib pick-up closing at 2), so my sweet friends were kind enough to grab my bibs and goodies on my behalf. I heard the Expo was pretty slow (at least when my friends went), but, like I told them, when a race offers race day pick-up (which might be my second favorite perk a race can offer) unless you're in the area already, I skip the Expo and grab everything the morning of the race - and apparently everyone else had the same idea.

See that spot next to the jetway... yeah, that was supposed to be where our plane was... about an hour before this
picture was taken... But there's nothing a bad attitude will solve, so you just put on a smile and you go with the flow!

We actually got to deplane in San Jose out of the back and onto the tarmac if we were interested. Since I
was in the back of the aircraft I took advantage of the fresh air and quick deplaning process.

Thankfully I had already taken my #FlatCarlee the day before so I didn't need to stress about snapping one that afternoon.

Trying to get a large group to match their running gear can be tough, but thankfully we all have a ton of gear to choose from! Mint PRO
Compression socks
, white Sparkle Athletic skirt, Brooks Run Happy trucker, white Handful sports bra, tank from TJ Maxx, elite Road ID,
aqua and white QALO silicone wedding bands, mint Knockaround sunniesmint and gray Momentum Jewelry wraps, COROS
APEX Multisport Watch
, and Brooks Ghost 11.

Dinner was a fun time. We met at the San Pedro Square Market, which has a ton of different restaurants in an open air type area, meaning everyone could get their preferred pre-race meal without much issue and still eat together. I went with pizza, but joked with a friend who also got it that the hubby's homemade pizza was better (this was Neapolitan style, which means the dough is a little chewier and thinner than I would normally prefer - but it still did the carb-loading trick).

Love seeing running friends (and their families) whenever I get the chance!

After dessert everyone parted ways and #TeamHilton (two of my friends, Richard and Lisa, were splitting a room and when the hubby decided not to make the trip so we wouldn't have to have friends watch Walt for yet another weekend, they were kind enough to let me join the party and share their room) made our way back to the hotel. Surprisingly we turned in fairly early after watching a little HGTV and some of Bridesmaids. We set our alarms and it was off to beddy-bye we went. [The race didn't start till 8am, which seems late, especially in an area that can get toasty warm, but Lisa and Richard wanted to grab breakfast at the hotel around 6am to give their food time to digest, so we got up around 5:30am.]

Our hotel was less than a mile from the start, so we decided to leave around 7:10am and walk over. Since we were doing the 5K after the Half Marathon, we brought an outfit change with us, which meant we would need to utilize the gear check. Well, gear check was where we ran into an issue (but thankfully it was the only major blunder we noticed... although, let's be real, it is tough when a first impression isn't a positive one). Instead of most races that will print a gear check tag on your bib, this race had a U-haul with two volunteers in the back of it (I would say they needed at least 4 or 5 people, if not more). They were handing out numbered tags to tie on your bag (thankfully I had packed my race gear in one of my Eagle Creek bags and could use it for gear check... Lisa, on the other hand, had to use a laundry bag from a hotel since they didn't supply us one) and then writing that number on your bib. [In the future, I'd suggest they have a tag on the bib that can be torn off and attached to the bag, or if that isn't an option, then I would put the bib number on a tag and attach that to the bag. Having to write a second number on people's bibs seemed a bit strange and an extra, unnecessary step.] When we arrived at the start line, we jumped right in line because it was already pretty long (I think it took us probably 15 minutes to get through it), but by the time we had given our gear to the volunteers the line had at least doubled.

When you're waiting in a long line next to some fun colors, you snap a picture while you wait.

After dropping our gear, we met up with friends and obviously had to take some pictures. (As I'm sure you will notice in the below pictures, in those group texts messages we were having in the months leading up to the race, we obviously were planning our running gear because when we run together, you know we love to match ;))

We take our #RunMatchy very seriously ;) 

The socks keep us together ;) 

Shortly after snapping the pictures it was time to jump into the starting corral and get ready to go.

Starting line selfie!

Although not everyone would end up running together (#YourRaceYourPace), it was still fun to be able to start the race near one another. We wished each other the best of luck and said we'd see one another in the reunion area afterwards.

Trying to get everyone to squeeze in can be tough, but it's always a good time!

I had zero time goals for this race. If you've been around my neck of the InterWebs for a while (specifically for the last month or so), you know I have put in quite a few miles and races recently - including an Ultra Ragnar Relay and the Boston Marathon within the span of a single weekend. After those races my hamstring was a bit angry with me, so I actually took 10 consecutive days off (which I don't think has happened since I started running in 2012). I was crossing my fingers that my hamstring wouldn't give me any trouble (and if it did that the crew wouldn't mind throwing in some extra walk breaks or slowing our pace a bit). Thankfully my hamstring held up and was near pain-free the entire time. (I would have to say my legs definitely appreciated the "party pace" we decided to stick at.)


Since I had never been to San Jose, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know if there'd be fun things to see along our route (street art, murals, character stops, etc), but obviously I was hoping for photo ops ;). At least where we were staying seemed pretty dead on the weekends, so I figured there wouldn't be many spectators, but wasn't 100% certain {Spoiler Alert: There were very few spectators, but the ones we saw were pretty enthusiastic when we went by.}.


I would say there weren't a ton of character stops along the way (I did have to "force" a couple), but the course itself wasn't terrible. We did a loop in the "downtown" area which had a bunch of tall buildings (where I'm assuming all the tech folks are glued to their computers 24-7) and then went more out into a neighborhood area. Because the area didn't seem too busy, they were able to close down the roads for us, which meant there was plenty of room to run and we never felt too smushed or crowded. Unlike some races that request parked cars move, this wasn't the case, so there were still cars on the road, but thankfully they weren't moving. And although some runners dislike out-and-back portions, I loved being able to see runners going in the opposite direction as us for a large chunk of the race because you could look for friends, hand out high-fives (we even high-fived Meb at one point) and shout encouragement to your fellow athletes.

I found a muffler man and a parrot. #RealTalk - I tried to get the parrot to "sit on my shoulder" but
I'm terrible at figuring out which way I need to move to get a selfie to work properly... 

#RunMatchy (PS A big thanks to Richard who brought his GoPro and shared his pictures with us!)

I know the neighborhoods might not be as exciting as the downtown area,
but I always love seeing the houses and charming buildings.

We started down below and now we're at the top...

No, I didn't grab a book, but I did grab a picture ;)


A Whole Foods wall about a half mile from the finish is the perfect place for a photo shoot, right?! 

When the race started it was actually pretty chilly (I wouldn't say the temperature was that bad, but it was definitely windy which added to the brisk feeling), but it warmed up a bit and I would say we had almost perfect running weather. Don't get me wrong, it definitely warmed up once we got out of the shade of the buildings and as the day progressed, but I was expecting it to be like crazy hot, so when we finished and it was only in the 60s I was stoked. #ThanksMotherNature

Wasn't thrilled about the humidity, but thankfully
it didn't feel as bad as it looked on the app... 

Like I mentioned at the beginning, race day pick-up is my second favorite perk a race can offer. I think my absolute favorite, though, is FREE RACE PHOTOS! Sometimes the hubby will be out on the course as my personal photographer, but most times he's either running the race himself or trying to wrangle a crazed wiener dog. Whenever we saw a photographer we tried to yell it out so we'd be ready for the photos. (And, shoot, by the time we were back in the hotel after the races we were already being emailed that photos were ready for us - AMAZEBALLS!)

I may have made a slight detour to run over and snag a couple pictures ;) 

Dave and I were cheesin' it up, but apparently not everyone got the memo... Brian... 

Originally I was thinking we'd probably run the race between 2:15 and 2:30 because I wasn't sure how everyone was trained (or untrained ;)), but we rocked it and were able to finish is 2:11:30 - BOOM SHAKALAKA!

If you follow Richard on Instagram, you know this is his signature shot... we all just happen to photobomb it ;)

I don't know how I was able to make it so it looks like I was at the finish line all by myself
(apparently my big head covers everyone else up), but it's pretty cool the way that it turned out!


Some of the crew that finished around the same time!

Our pace got slower throughout the race (#PositiveSplitsFTW), but with the temps warming up, people getting tired and of course you have to account for photos, I would say we kept our effort at a fairly consistent level. Not to mention, we still had to conserve a bit because we had another 3.1 miles to run shortly after. But, like I've said before (and I'm sure I'll say again), it's not about the time you have on the clock, it's about the time you have on the course. We had a great time, so it's a WIN plain and simple! {And seeing as my hamstring felt fine during the race, I will consider it a DOUBLE WIN!}

The color is pretty blown out, but hey, free is free! 

The splits from my COROS APEX Watch

After crossing the finish line, taking a couple pictures and grabbing our bling, we jumped in line to get our stuff back out of gear check. Thankfully they had more volunteers helping out, but the line was still fairly long. (The other bummer was the lack of gear check for the 5K, but I think we will get to that in the next recap... hopefully posting on Thursday.)


As I'm sure you know, I love me some good photo ops, so in the family reunion area when everyone else was in line for their free beer (they had the 26.2 Brew from Samuel Adams which is now under a new brewery banner as the sponsored adult beverage), I got in line for post-race pictures. (Hubby wasn't there for my beer so I gave it to a friend for her hubby.)


I held down the line while they got their celebratory drinks ;)

Love that our colors matched the race colors... sort of like we planned it or something ;)

Eventually it was time to change our outfits and get ready for the #WeRunSocial meet-up and our second race of the morning (which makes this a perfect place to stop this recap, right?!). If you are interested in joining the crew for next year's race (we may already be chatting about getting a big AirBnB for the weekend and making it a longer party experience), you can register TODAY ONLY (well, it was a 48-hour sale, but it started yesterday, so today's the final day of it and it ends at 11:59pm PST) for the 2020 race at the LOWEST PRICE POSSIBLE! You can get in for the #SVHalf, #SV10K, #FoodTruck5K, #SVKidsRun or go wild with the Challenge HERE! (PS You can also register as a remote runner if you can't make it to San Jose in April but still want in on the action - but I'd suggest you make the trip happen!)


PS The swag for the race weren't too shabby either... Since I was registered for the Half and 5K, I received a runner’s backpack (for the half), a quarter zip long sleeve tech shirt (for the half), a short sleeve tech tee (for the 5K), two a finisher medals (one for the half and one for the 5K, and a challenge medal (for doing two races in the same day).

The swag was no joke with this race!

What is your favorite race perk?

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Workout Recap - Week 17

Sunday, April 21st – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, April 22nd – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, April 23rd – 3 mile walk, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, April 24th – 2 mile hike with the pup, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, April 25th – 60 minutes on the stationary bike, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, April 26th   3 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, April 27th – Rest Day

Slowly getting back on the pony... I took 10 complete days off of running after Ragnar and Boston. For the first week or so all I did was walk the dog (we have been doing at least a daily mile with him, so I get in a decent amount of movement, but nothing like what I was doing when I was running) and slowly started adding in a little more - like the stationary bike, hikes and finally a short run. My hamstring is not 100% (I can feel it start to nag a bit once I hit the mile mark), but it is definitely feeling much better than it has. I'm continuing my icing and foam rolling and hoping it'll be back to normal soon.

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday Favorites

I'm back! Well, not really, because technically I am flying out on a jet plane tomorrow morning for another race weekend, but at least I am back on my regularly scheduled program {of blog posts}. Let's just say April has been a whirlwind of a month (and it's not over yet), but all amazingly wonderful things... I just may need a month or two to recover from all the fun (and lack of sleep). With that said, let's jump right into some of my current favorite finds before I finish packing ;)

Bite Toothpaste Bits

Okay, so I haven't tried these yet, but was served an ad for them on Facebook earlier in the week and LOVE the idea of it! Toothpaste is something we put into our bodies by brushing it into our gums and mouths twice a day, every single day of our lives... but flip the label on your typical toothpaste tube and it’s full of chemicals, fillers and unnecessary ingredients - all packaged in plastic that will inevitably end up in a landfill. Lindsay McCormick created Bite with the idea that effective oral care didn’t need to come at the expense of our health and the environment. For Lindsay, the solution was simple: Replace messy, chemical-laden commercial toothpaste by using dry and sustainably-sourced ingredients, pressed into tablets made to clean and protect teeth - and sold in refillable glass bottles. Bite was created to keep plastic out of our landfills and harsh chemicals out of our bodies. One billion toothpaste tubes are thrown out every year filled with ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan and artificial dyes and preservatives that are harmful to our health. Bite's mission is to end this with a healthier toothpaste - sent to you in a refillable, fully recyclable glass bottle.


Brooks x November Project

The official announcement was made last week, but I guess I had a few things going on and didn't have time to share about it until now ;) Brooks is now the official footwear and apparel sponsor of November Project - WHOO HOO! You know I love me some Brooks and NP (the only reason I don't go more regularly is because it is a 50 minute drive each way to get to the workouts), so I am pumped the two are joining forces! {Brooks' Press Release / NP's Press Release}


Zion 50-Mile Run

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably know the hubby and I ran the Grand Canyon last year (Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim). Well, a few days ago, in one of my emails, I heard about another challenge I may try and talk the hubby into doing with me - the Zion Traverse! Yep, you can run approximately 50 miles (point to point) and span the entire Zion National Park. It would take some coordinating because you're not beginning and ending at the same spot, but I think we could make it happen. And, thankfully for us, this article shares some of the DOs and DON'Ts for the journey.


QALO Rings

Major thanks to QALO for the surprise delivery. Not sure if you're aware or not, but I've been wearing QALO silicone bands exclusively for YEARS (my engagement ring and wedding band have been in our lockbox for many a moons - although I love the stones {and, of course, the meaning behind the rings}, the band is not necessarily my jam and it's too big for my tiny fingers). They were sweet enough to send me some rings from their new Natural Stone Collection. They sent me all six of the rings {Tangerine Quartz, Pastel Agate, Pastel Blue Eternity, Pastel Pink Eternity, Mauve Eternity and True White Eternity} and I'm STOKED! I wouldn't say these would be colors I would normally gravitate towards (you know I love my bright and bangin' colors), but they are gorgeous and I am so excited to add them to my ever growing collection {yes, in case you were wondering, I now have 22 QALO rings and may have more in my shopping cart at the moment...}. PS There is currently a Mother's Day Sale going on right now [20% off Silicone Rings, 30% off Teething Necklaces and Blankets and 40% off Gift Sets until 05/12/19 at 11:59pm PST] so if you're interested in placing an order, do it now!

Mesa-PHX Marathon Ambassador

For the past few years I have been honored to be a part of the Phoenix-Mesa Marathon Ambassador team. (I ran the marathon in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and obviously will be returning in 2020 to complete my Arizona Copper Star.) Anyway, I wanted to give you the heads up that the ambassador applications are now OPEN if you are interested in joining the team for the race on February 8, 2020. If this is something that is up your alley, you can apply HERE.


What are you loving lately?