Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 books in 2020 and 67 books in 2021). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in November:

  • A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio - I had snagged this book a while back, but because reading physical books hasn't been on my priority list (it's easier for me to listen to an audiobook on my walk to work or on my lunch break than actually sitting down and reading a few chapters, so that's what I've been doing more of recently) I hadn't gotten around to it. I figured the flight to (and from) New York for the TCS NYC Marathon would be the perfect time to read Mirna's story. I was introduced to Mirna via REI and have loved following along on her adventures. She is a back-of-the-pack runner who works full time (she's a teacher and a coach), is a wife, a mom and still finds the time to train for ultramarathons. This memoir follows Mirna's journey as she becomes a long distance runner. She shows that everyone can do this thing called running (if they put in the time, effort and mental training). I love her perspective on body acceptance and self-love. She isn't running to lose weight or to fit society's norm of what "healthy" or " a runner" looks like. It was a quick read and Mirna keeps things light and fun (FYI - you do not need to be a runner to enjoy this one). I wish there was more on her life as an "influencer", but maybe that just means she'll write another book ;) I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku - I saw this on my Hoopla app and thought I'd give it a listen. Holocaust stories are always heartwrenching, but I glean nuggets from all of them so although they can be hard to read, they are worth it. Listening to Eddie's story was no different. It is always shocking to see what fear and then hate can cause people to do. My heart ached for Eddie (and all those in a marginalized community), yet to see his tenacity and perseverance was inspiring. He believes it was his hope that allowed him to survive the atrocities that he went through during the Holocaust. He decided that if he could make it through the heinousness he would use his life to pay tribute to the 6 million who were murdered by sharing his story and living his best life. This was an extremely quick listen (I actually finished it {since I listen at 1.75x speed} during a 13 mile run) and at times I wanted it to go on longer and at other points I didn't know if I could stomach any more of the evil. I appreciate Eddie's willingness to be vulnerable with others and share what he and others went through so HOPEFULLY we do not repeat history. Oh yeah, and Eddie's over 100 YEARS OLD! If Eddie can turn to love after all he has endured, so can the rest of us. I would give it a 10 out of 10. 

  • If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin - I don't know why I downloaded this book on my Hoopla app (if didn't have amazing reviews, it wasn't super new and I'm not even sure how I came across it, but it was in my "for later" list), but it was 'good enough'. It was a YA story that gave away the ending at the beginning and then took the rest of the book to fill in the background. I wouldn't say it was anything too special, but reminded me of the teeny-bopper movies I sometimes watch on Netflix when I'm on the stationary bike. I appreciate that it discussed some serious topics - like teen pregnancy, suicide, divorce, mental illness, etc - but overall it was just 'fine' in my opinion. I'm always going to cheer for young love, but since I knew the ending I couldn't get too deeply attracted to the characters (also, it seemed pretty predictable). I would give it a 7 out of 10. 

With that, November 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's the best book you've read lately? 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 48

Sunday, November 20th – 4 mile run

Monday, November 21st – 90 minutes on the stationary bike 

Tuesday, November 22nd – 8 mile run

Wednesday, November 23rd – Rest Day

Thursday, November 24th – Rest Day

Friday, November 25th  Rest Day

Saturday, November 26th – 7 mile run

It's taper time! Time to dial it back and rest. Back in July, after the Yeti 100-Miler, I had put CIM on my calendar as a "goal" race. I was planning to run it with Brian and he thought it'd be AWESOME if we could run 3:30 (or faster). Well, although I had been in that shape pre-COVID, I'd say the past couple years I have slowed down (A LOT). I have been going longer (and therefore losing some of my speed) and have ignored speedwork all together. I gave it a few weeks of training and then we had a "come to Jesus" talk where I had to be realistic that in this current stage I didn't think I could make it happen. He still wanted to run with me (he's the best!) so actually ran a marathon a few weeks before that he could push the pace to see what his body was capable of and then plans to run "party pace" with me for CIM. We won't be breaking any records, but I'm stoked to spend a few hours with my bestie, doing the thing we love! (PS How awesome is it that taper time lined up with Thanksgiving so I didn't have to worry about running while we were camping in Death Valley?!)

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 47

Sunday, November 13th – 12 mile run

Monday, November 14th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike 

Tuesday, November 15th – 5 mile run

Wednesday, November 16th – 8 mile run

Thursday, November 17th –  5 mile run

Friday, November 18th  Rest Day

Saturday, November 19th – 13.13 mile run

Everything seems to be chugging along as to be expected two weeks post NYC. The body feels fine running-wise but I worked 10 days in a row so I'm just overly fatigued and ready for a break (both physically and mentally). I had 8-10 miles on the calendar for Wednesday and although I woke up in time to get in 10 miles, I took a 20 minute "nap" on the couch before my run so 8 it was ;) I also decided I'd do somewhere between 12 and 18 miles on Saturday. I was going to shoot for 15 but then started texting with a friend before heading out so I dialed it back to a half marathon distance (had to finish before the Michigan game #Priorities). All-in-all the body's okay and I'm STOKED for a party pace race with my bestie!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 46

Sunday, November 6th – TCS NYC Marathon 

Monday, November 7th – Rest Day

Tuesday, November 8th – 4.14 mile run in Central Park with the hubby

Wednesday, November 9th – 45 minutes on the stationary bike 

Thursday, November 10th –  4 mile run

Friday, November 11th  Rest Day

Saturday, November 12th – Rest Day

I'll share a full race recap for NYC soon, but suffice it to say Mother Nature was NOT our friend (well, let me clarify, she preferred the spectators and tourists over the runners... when we started running it was in the mid 70s and about 95% humidity [and even rained at parts, which did NOTHING to cool down the day, it just made it more oppressive because the humidity was radiating up from the ground]). I wasn't too worried about it because I wasn't planning on 'racing' New York, but it did slow me down an extra bit. My quads were pretty sore for a few days afterwards, but by Wednesday I was back to feeling 100%. I was still giving my body some extra time to recover, even though this was "just" a training run for CIM in a couple weeks [Note: CIM will be at party pace with my BRF]. Technically I was planning on a 12-miler on Saturday, but one of my employees called in sick so I had to work for him - therefore I moved my longer run till Sunday and took Saturday as a rest day (so I could get in a little cleaning and some chores before heading to the store for 8 hours). 

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 45

Sunday, October 30th – 6.5 hilly mile run

Monday, October 31st – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, November 1st – 4 mile run

Wednesday, November 2nd – 6 mile soggy run

Thursday, November 3rd –  Rest Day

Friday, November 4th  4 mile run

Saturday, November 5th – Rest Day

A bit of a cutback week because I've got the NYC Marathon - WHOOO HOOO!! I will be sure to share a full race recap, but in case you are new to my corner of the InterWebs, know the journey to actually toe the line at NYC has been QUITE the long one. I'm stoked to report that the body is feeling good, even with the 50K I ran two weeks or so ago. I am not planning to "race" New York, just hoping to give out all the high fives, take all the pictures, pet all the dogs, enjoy all the steps (so even if my legs are a little overly fatigued at this point I'm not too worried). This is going to be a party pace race!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Lake Hodges Trail Fest 50K Race Recap

SURPRISE... I ran the Lake Hodges Trail Fest 50K last weekend (this race was a late add to my training/ race calendar).

Spoiler Alert: I finished!

A month or so ago I saw a giveaway for a free entry to the Lake Hodges Trail Fest from one of the local running groups, the Ultrabuds, so I figured I'd throw my name in the hat. I looked at my training plan and saw I had a 20-miler scheduled for Saturday and a 10-miler scheduled for Sunday, so if I won the entry I could register for the 50K and just get all of the mileage done at one time (#RunnersLogic). Loandbehold I won, so that's how I got to the starting line.

Source: @ultrabuds' IG

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably remember that when I was training for my 100-miler I was actually able to change my weekly work schedule so that I had Friday and Saturday off. The reason I did this was because I was noticing that when I was doing my long runs on Saturday morning, 40+ hours of standing on my feet at work all week made my runs less-than-ideal. When I started working Sunday thru Thursday I was able to take Friday as a complete rest day (from working AND running) and could get to sleep earlier, therefore I started waking up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle my longer runs... Well, seeing as this was technically "just a training run" I didn't adjust my working schedule, so I was on my feet at the running store until 7pm the evening before the race... not the best if you were shooting for stellar results, but thankfully my game plan was just to enjoy some local trails with likeminded people. 


Once I got home on Friday evening, it was time to make sure I had everything I needed for the race come Saturday morn.

This race's #FlatCarlee included: + PRO Compression SocksTurquoise Sparkle Athletic SkirtNathan VaporHowe 

While I was laying out my flat runner, the hubby was kind enough to get the oven preheating for my homemade pizza dinner (he makes fresh dough for us - YUM!). One of my best friend’s jokes that it is more of a cheese loaf, but I don’t like thin crust and I prefer my pizza with little to no sauce, but, hey, whatever works, right?! And THIS works for me! ;)

I also love covering it with Umami Seasoning from Trader Joe's

After I finished my dinner and let my food digest a bit, it was time to hit the hay. During the work week I'm normally up somewhere between 3 and 4:30am so I can run before work, which means the alarms weren't any earlier than normal, but I still figured I needed to get as much sleep as possible. [Note: I always wake up before my alarms - anyone else?!]

Because I was working during the week leading up to the event, I wasn’t able to grab my bib prior to race day. My plan was to get to the start about an hour early so that I would have time to check-in, grab my participant goodies and bib, take everything back to the car, and use the port-o-potties without feeling rushed. The plan worked to perfection and I still had about 30 minutes to max and relax in the car before we were set to meet at the starting line for pre-race announcements.

Pre-race bib pick-up was quick and easy (although the volunteers weren't super familiar with where everything
was at when I arrived... they almost didn't even want to look to find the proper t-shirt size I ordered...)

I didn't want to waste battery life on my old iPhone 8, so I
snapped a quick selfie and just laid back for a few minutes

Eventually it was time to head back to the starting line and get this party started. I didn’t have any time goals in mind, but a friend had asked prior to the race when I might finish, since she was running the 15K and wasn’t sure if she would be around when I was coming in. I gave a rough estimate of probably finishing between five and six hours, but the main focus was to get in my miles with plenty of smiles (and, of course, not getting injured before the New York City Marathon).

Time to rock and roll!

Technically I would consider the trails that this race was scheduled to cover to be considered “local“. We don’t have a ton of dirt trails in Oceanside (well, ones that aren’t on the military base and are open for the public to run on), so if the hubby and I want to run trails, we often end up in Escondido and run some of, what ended up being, this course. With that said, I didn’t take a ton of photos, because I was very familiar with the terrain and views. While putting this race recap together, it dawned on me that I probably take the local spots where I run often for granted. Here’s to hoping that coming to this realization nudges me to look at my routinely used running routes through a more grateful lens.

This course was sort of like a “T“. We started at the bottom of the stick, ran up to the top where the upper line intersects, turned to the left until we hit the end of the line, turned around and ran back to the intersection and then continued on to the end of the line, then turned back and retraced our steps until we hit the spot where the two lines intersected and turned back towards the finish line. Although not everyone loves out and back sections, I do really enjoy them. I like being able to see and cheer on fellow runners (it helps take my mind off of my own running, especially if I’m struggling), as well as it gives you a preview of what you have to look forward to (at least for the next chunk), but to each their own ;)


Although I didn’t have a time goal in mind, my competitive nature took over when I started seeing runners come back at me… I may have been counting the number of females I saw pass me to give myself an idea of what place I was in ;)


There is a decent climb on the course, where you get the majority of the elevation gain (especially because you have to run it twice - once on the way out and once on the way back), called Raptor Ridge. Prior to hitting it the first time, there was a fun aid station with the volunteers all dressed in dinosaur/Jurassic Park gear. Well, if you know me, you probably know that I love a good character stop and the inflated dino costumes are pretty high on my favorite list. I asked one of the volunteers to snap a picture of me and the T-Rex, only to be told we should have a mini dance party. I mean, I may have wasted a few ounces of energy getting my groove on, but I think I gained anything I lost with the joy it added to my heart.

This is the dino I mentioned at the end of the dance video ;)

Get your groove on!

A coworker and I were both running the 50K, so earlier in the week we were keeping an eye on the weather… You see, midweek we were in the throes of a heatwave with the temps in the mid 90s. Our weather apps were calling for a cool down, so we were crossing our fingers that the temps really would drop. Thankfully by race day Mother Nature was kind to us! It was still a little warmer than originally predicted, but definitely much cooler than it had been. By the time I finished, around noon, it was 72°. Also, we had decent cloud cover till about 11:30am or so. I would've loved temps about 10° cooler all around, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I was thanking my lucky stars for the weather we were blessed with.

Left: The predicted weather for race time | Center: Still higher humidity - BLEH! | Right: Actual weather when I finished

I'd say around the time I hit Mile 15 or 16, I probably could have been done with my run. I think the fatigue of everything from the week was catching up with me and my mental strength was starting to dwindle. I told myself to try and continue to have a strong 20 miles, then everything else would technically be a bonus. I reminded myself that because I was doing Sunday’s 10-miler during the race I would be able to sleep in (as long as my body would allow) the following morning.

I fueled with my PROBAR BOLT Chews every 5-ish miles and grabbed a pickle spear
at two separate aid stations during the race (other than that I was fully sulf supported)

When I was coming up to the last turnaround spot, I was again counting the number of females in front of me. I knew that I wasn’t planning on picking up the pace, but figured that if I could at least keep other females from passing me, I would be in the top 10 when I crossed the finish line. [Sidenote: When I hit the turnaround aid station, I asked if anyone knew the mile marker we were at. This was the first time running with my new COROS Pace 2 watch and I wasn’t sure how off my distance might be from the actual course. There was a sign on top of one of the water jugs and it said we were at mile 18.75… And when I looked at my watch I was at EXACTLY that point. That NEVER happens, especially on the trails!]

Fake it till you make it, right?! Smiling on the outside even if I was a bit over it on the inside

Once I left the final turnaround aid station my mantra was "just get back to the car". Like I thought, when I hit about 20 miles I was pretty done (this was probably a combination of the overall fatigue, but also probably a little more of the mental battle that I wasn't willing to wage). I decided I'd walk/run the final 11 miles. I was power hiking the uphills, jogging the downhills and walking whenever my body felt like it wanted a break. I was playing leapfrog with a few runners nearby, so it was awesome to keep giving one another encouragement when we'd pass each other. #RunnersRockMySocks

I'll let you guess where Raptor Ridge was ;)

Since I am familiar with the trails we were running on, I knew about how much of the course I had left to go (obviously the mileage on your watch helps that too, but I also could picture when the anticipate the hills, turns, etc). Once I got around Mile 27 I started seeing some of the females ahead of me and I thought to myself "I could probably catch them". The goal from that point forward was to start picking off the runners in front of me (but obviously not push myself too hard seeing as I had the NYC Marathon two weeks after this race and CIM four weeks after that). [Maybe the walk breaks helped me conserve some energy to chase those runners down, maybe seeing them was the motivation I needed to get my booty in gear and actually run it in - whatever the case, I used the surge of get-up-and-go to start chugging at a slightly faster clip.]


I'm glad the race wasn't much longer because I probably started my "kick" a bit too early and was just holding on towards the finish. I actually saw a female gaining on me during one of the last uphill climbs so I put my head down and charged on. I passed quite a few runners in those last miles, finished strong and was mighty proud of the effort I put in. 

And NAILED the "between five and six hour" estimation!

In the end I finished fourth female, second in my age group and thirtieth runner overall - not too shabby for a training run! 

Only the first three overall finishers in men's and women's
won any sort of prize so I just missed out... Bummer!

Obviously once I finished I had to snag a picture with Eric, the race director (or, as they call it with Elevation Culture, the "experience director"). He's AWESOME, as are his events! (Not to mention, the wooden medals are always AMAZING!)

Note: I did win this entry, but hopefully you know I've always gotta #KeepItReal. I'd say I don't know that I would personally run this race again (or at least not if I had to pay for it), because it's an area I run frequently. With that said, the volunteers and event staff are great. Like I said earlier, I definitely take my local routes for granted, so I'd probably say it isn't the most spectacular race when it comes to views, but then again, that might be because I'm used to it. My only "real" complaint is that because it is an open course, there are some bikers out on the course that you really have to watch for (a handful of them were kind, but most were intense and were sort of rude...), especially on the blind corners or the hilly spots.

You better believe I "refueled" with my fave Mexican food.
The idea of these chips and salsa got me through those final few miles ;)

Do you participate in local races if you frequently run on the route/ course during your daily runs?