The Evolution of a Blog

It’s been an awkward amount of time that I’ve been gone, so I was at a loss for a title…. So much has happened since the blog was created that I’m not even sure what this blog is about anymore! I guess Running Aimlessly will always be apropos, because I’ve never been one for order and organization. That being said, here are a few random things I’d like to get off my chest :)

Why blog again? Well, the simplest explanation is that I have nothing and everything to write about. Let me explain. When I created this blog, it was to document my self/career-discovery, but mostly to document my running endeavors. Almost all my posts discussed running in some shape or form–it was clearly catered to fellow runners. Now, while I’m still flitting around careerlessly (no, that’s not a typo), I’m not really running more than the occasional 3 miles to keep my Siberian Husky from combusting with pent up energy. So I have “nothing” to write about because I’m not really running.

However, I have “everything” to write about because I now have an “everything” in my life–my daughter Leila. She is nearing 8 months old, and already I wish I had documented every second of my pregnancy and her first months. As is implied by my blog title, I don’t always have direction, and I’m a pretty disorganized Type B person. So I didn’t really get my stuff together until now. And while I won’t be one of those mothers documenting Leila’s growth and accomplishments every week, it will be nice to look back and relive some of Leila’s major milestones and firsts.

So, to continue with the aimlessness of this post, I’ll sum up the past 2.5 years in a paragraph. Tony and I moved to Redwood City, which is where I think I left off. Then came marriage and the baby in the baby carriage! (Before the baby came the bigger baby, Buster.) I also taught a year of high school level English. In a nutshell, it was challenging, stressful, 5% satisfying, and one of the hardest years of my life. Maybe being pregnant towards the end had something to do with it, but I think it had more to do with the day-to-day logistics of teaching. After having Leila, I don’t think I’m willing to have that stress and negative energy around me. Currently, I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I will continue to be until I find something that’s worth taking my time away from my daughter. (Or until we’re approaching broke.)

Thanks for bearing with me! This post has taken me 3 days to write over the course of nap times, so I don’t expect there’ll be much more cohesiveness to future posts. But I won’t let that stop me! Read on, or don’t, to see how this aimless adventure unfolds…


Birthday Challenge

Some people make New Year’s Resolutions. I, make birthday goals. This usually is something like, “I will get organized by the time I’m 22,” or “I’ll make my first million by 25.” Ha. Well, since I’m nearing the big 3-0 (next year), I’m trying to knock out this years goal with a bang so I can move on to the Big Goal for next year. (My big 3-0 goal is to become financially independent. Essentially, I’m cutting myself off by then. Thank God I have another year for that!)

Today is November 7th, which is 21 days until my birthday. ((Gentle reminder friends and family!)) My goal this year has been to become a healthier eater. Specifically, I wanted to eat more for health reasons rather than just to lose weight. I’d say I’ve done pretty well but it the midst of my busy life I have some crazy days where only chocolate and ice cream can make things better.

My goal for the next 21 days is to eat as healthfully as I can and to maintain portion control, which is SO hard for me. They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. So, I’m using the next 21 days to wean myself off of crappy/unhealthy food! Of course, my birthday is after Thanksgiving. So… I’m giving myself a little leeway on that day! But just a little :)

Speaking of my birthday, my only wish is that my cake this year is half as awesome as it was last year:

I disappeared again….but I’m back!

It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted. Life has been super-exciting, but not much has been running-related.

Not to say that I haven’t been running. I have been assisting the head coach of a cross country team, and man, some of those kids are amazing! It’s been a great adventure, but alas, I’m itching to get back to some running for myself.

So, I signed up for my first 50k since August. I have a feeling I’m gonna be a little rusty! My speed has gone up but my mileage has gone waaaay down, so we shall see if my body bounces back.

Before I start posting about my new running adventures, here’s a little snapshot of the cool things that have been happening in other areas of my life.

-I have been student teaching for over two months and I am loving it. I was very nervous about how teaching would turn out since I’m a pretty shy person but it has been a great experience for me. Between teaching and coaching I’ve gained a little confidence and feel like I can actually help kids learn. It has been keeping me busy, but so far it’s been worth every second. 

-Tony and I moved to a house.

My parents actually bought it for us. Before you call me a spoiled brat (which would only be half true), they didn’t buy it and give to us. They bought it with us in mind. We are paying rent and utilities, and the hope is that one day we’ll both land jobs in the area and will be able to buy it from my parents. We are really enjoying our newfound space but are a little overwhelmed with how much work goes in to living/owning a home! *Sigh* First world problems huh.

-My dad won the Nobel prize in Chemistry.

While this has little to do with me, it has changed my family forever. I am enormously proud of my father and my mother (who has been a huge reason for my father’s success). My dad is the most hard working and humble person in the world, and he has forever been my role model. There has been such a flurry of activity surrounding him in the recent weeks and it has been surreal the amount of attention he is getting. We will travel to Sweden in December which is going to be an amazing experience.

Between moving, teaching, taking classes, and attending various events, life has been crazy for lack of a more creative word. In fact, I feel speechless half the time because my life has taken a 180 from where I was 6 months ago. All the changes have been overwhelming, but in a good way. And I’m looking forward to getting back to running as a way to manage stress, and reconnect with nature. I could use some grounding. :)

Since I’ve been blogging less I never take self-photos anymore so I’ll leave you with the one self-pic I’ve taken since my last post.

Beer cheese and brats. What more could a girl want?

I did not fall off the face of the earth…

I’m sure that after a hiatus this long, I’ve lost all my dedicated readers. However, to those 2 of you who may still be out there wondering what’s happened to me, I’ll tell you.

Life happened.

It’s interesting how drastic your life can change in such little time. Right now, the only running I’m doing is with the high school cross country team I’m assistant coaching. Most of The kids are wonderful! I’m having a blast getting to know them while encouraging them to run and instructing them in various drills. I’m also student teaching freshman English at a different high school and that’s a great experience as well. My focus has gone from the next big race to getting through the school year in one piece. It is a whole different type of challenge.

So, gone are my 100 mile hopes, at least for this year. I do hope to get in some trail running and maybe a 50k or 50 miler in sometime this school year. However, time is scarce, and enjoying my weekend might take priority over running for 6+ hours. In the meantime, I’m honing my speed skills to keep up with the team so maybe my focus will be more marathon oriented. Boston qualifier anyone? Ha.

I’ll leave you all with a picture of me and Tony enjoying one of my last days of freedom until next summer. Ah, the good ol’ days…

Crystal Springs 50k mini-report

How do you get first place in your age group?? Easy! Be the only one in your age group!!

Who’s number 1! Who’s number 1!

But when I move up an age group, then I have to worry. Those ladies are fast!

Crystal Springs 50k done in 6:59:42. Not bad for 90* weather and 3 weeks out from TRT 50 miler.

Next up. 100 miler? Or speedy shorter races??

Training for 100 miles, and life’s getting busy…

So I guess I’m sorta training for a 100 mile race that I may or may not end up doing. In 8 weeks.

You’d think this wouldn’t be something so up in the air, but that’s the kind of person I am. Fortunately, training for a 100 isn’t necessarily that strenuous. (ha!) I’m not strictly following a training plan, because that’s never something I do. But, I am using one as a guideline and deciding what works best for me. In general, this is what I’m trying to do the next few weeks:

1. Get higher daily mileage. No more 3 mile jogs unless is a recovery run, or my second run of the day. Try to get in more 8-12 milers on a regular basis.

2. More double days. This’ll fit in my schedule better.

3. More rest days. I will try to take 2 days off/week from running, just to rest my body from the high mileage days.

4. Do a few 50k’s, and 15-20 milers as well as back to back long runs. Not sure how this will work out, but I’m going to improvise and work around my schedule.

The reason this training is so haphazard (besides the fact that, well, that’s how I am…) is because my life is going 0-60 in the next few weeks and I have no idea how successfully I’m gonna juggle everything. Starting in a couple weeks I’ll be student teaching at one high school in the mornings, assistant coaching cross country at another high school in the afternoons, and taking graduate teaching credential classes in the evening. Oh, and working at ZombieRunner whenever I can. So while I’m fortunate to have a job that will work around my schedule, it’ll be interesting to see how I can manage to fit in running and sleeping with all that’s going on.

Two other random things. One: I got this super cool new toy.

Now, I’m insanely afraid of riding bikes. I fell off once when I was 5 and got a gash above my eye that required stitches and left me with a lovely black eye for a few weeks.

While this is far from traumatic, I’m a giant weenie and a scaredy cat in general. I’m going to conquer my fears and start biking because it’ll be good cross training. And because Tony got one, and I’d be jealous if I didn’t get one too.

Two: I’m trying to eat healthier. I know, original. But I’m not trying to lose weight or lean up or anything like that. (Although if I turn into a skinny mini I’ll be okay with that, as long as I keep my muscles 😉 ) The main reason I want to eat healthier is because I want to see if I can notice some health gains. I want energy, and to sleep well, and to have clear skin, and no wrinkles, and all the wonderful things that can happen with a healthy diet. I want to fuel my muscles and replenish them when they’re worked and take the best care of myself that I can. Not that I eat just crap now, but I tend to crave sugar and eat more refined carbs and processed food than is necessary. Especially sweets and ice cream. And popsicles.

So maybe keeping my diet clean with help me deal with the stressful and busy schedule I have coming up this fall.

I know this post was a little random and a little aimless. While I probably won’t have tons of time to blog this fall, I’m sure I’ll have some entertaining stories to tell. You can’t teach high school, or run 100 miles, without seeing some interesting things…

Off to run Crystal Springs 50k on Saturday. First 50k since Tahoe!

100 miles? What do you think??

Can I just say, the best thing to do after a 50 mile race is to spend a week with your family and boyfriend doing nothing other than eating, sleeping, and relaxing. We spent the week in Minnesota and although it is the land of 10,000 lakes, I really only got to see two of them.

Oh, and this little river called the Mississippi.

We celebrated Tony’s birthday with cake and a ball game. The lady from the bakery must’ve thought Tony was turning 8, and not 28. Tony was delighted with the decorations though.

There is nothing better than floating on a lake sipping beers. They didn’t make the picture, but they were there.

Running over these last two week since the TRT50 has been pretty good. Although I haven’t been sore, I’ve been taking it easy because you never know what little surprises your body has in store for you after 50 miles in the mountains. I’ve done a few short (2-5 miles) runs on the treadmill, a nice and easy 9.5 miler on rolling hills, and a 6 mile, 2,000ft elevation run/hike today which felt great. I don’t want to push it too much, but I am easing back into training again because I’m considering running a 100 miler.

The Rio Del Lago 100 miler is taking place October 6th this year. I’m 50% sure I’m gonna do it. I know, a 100 mile race isn’t something you can go into half-hearted, but I haven’t quite decided if I’ve got the cajones yet. Fortunately, I can keep plodding along with training and see how I feel in a month. If I manage to get some 50K races in and some high mileage weeks, I might just give it a go and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna enjoy these last few weeks of freedom before going back to high school. While high school sucked for me the first time, maybe it’ll be easier 10 years later. I just have to make sure I can play the part of mature adult/teacher/authority figure and don’t regress into an insecure teenage girl. Those years are over!

So 100 mile race or not, this fall will sure be interesting.

I will leave you with a picture explaining why I was not sore after the TRT50 and why it took me almost 15 hours.

Can’t think of a more beautiful place to be walking :)

TRT50: Race Recap

…continued from here.

I woke up bright–well, dark–and early at 3:15 am. I had gotten advice from a seasoned ultrarunner to eat as much as possible before this race, because I wouldn’t want to eat anything else all day long. (His words would come back and haunt me.) Unfortunately, breakfast at the host hotel was pretty sub par. I had a bowl of cereal, and a GIANT gluten free cookie brought from home, taking in roughly 700 calories total.

Breakfast in bed..? Breakfast in bathroom!

My crew (Mom, bro Jason, and boyfriend Tony) took me to the start line a few minutes before 5 am, which was an hour early. As we walked up the path, we realized we were facing the start line, and there were a bunch of headlight-wearing 100 milers ready to charge us!

 It was cool to get a chance to see these hard-core crazies start their race. I will be one of them next year have no idea what would possess someone to do a 100 mile race on this course. Mad props to those who finished it.

Soon enough, it was time to start the 50 miler and 50k. While we were milling around, I ran into a few people I knew from ZombieRunner (the store I work at). It’s great seeing familiar faces at a race, especially when you’ll be sharing the trails with these people for the next 15 hours.

At 6 am we all headed out. There is no mad rush in a ultra race. We all kind of trotted along, and after 5 minutes or so several people were walking. It was a gorgeous time of day since the sun was just rising, and we had some amaaazing views to check out as we headed up the trails to the first aid station.

I felt great for the first 17 miles or so. At that point, we’d tackled one of the tough climbs of the day, the “infamous” Red House loop, which wasn’t bad at all. At the aid station, I changed my socks which had gotten soaked in some creek crossings. I was feeling great, hydrating well, and tolerating food.

Then, it all went to pot.

As I left the aid station, I grabbed a turkey and cheese sandwich to go. Suddenly, my stomach wasn’t liking the bread. I tossed the sandwich, not thinking much of it, and kept going. 3 miles later at the next aid station, I had a tough time taking potato chips. Usually this is my go to food since it’s salty and dry, but I really couldn’t stomach anything. Soon I started to feel the affects of either not eating enough, or being at altitude (about 9,000 ft). Or…the 85 degree weather. I couldn’t tell which was what, and just struggled to make it the next 9 miles to the aid station at Diamond Peak, where I would see my family and get a much needed mental boost.

I jogged into Diamond Peak looking for my family. This was the only car-access aid station so I knew it’d be the last place I’d see them before the finish. As I handed my pack and my water bottle off to a volunteer to be filled, I walked around looking for them. Then I picked up my phone and tried calling them. After leaving messages on all their voicemails I finally managed to get ahold of my brother. “Where are you guys??” I said, panicky. “We’re almost there!” “What, like 5 minutes?” “More like 20 or so.” (Please excuse my dialogue-writing skills btw.)

I was crestfallen when I realized I wouldn’t see them at this aid station. If I waited 20 minutes (and turns out it would’ve been more like 30-40), I would’ve cooled down, as well as lost momentum. I didn’t actually need anything from them, but all I wanted in the world was just to see their faces and hear some encouraging words. I actually began sobbing when I talked to them on the phone, and made quite a spectacle of myself there. I found out later that a lot of people dropped from the race at this aid station (since it’s right before the longest and hardest climb of the race). I feel foolish now for being overly emotional about not seeing my family when there were people who physically felt horrible enough to drop from the race.

After a few minutes of crying, I grabbed a turkey sandwich, realized I was 28 and not 5, shut down the tears, and kept it moving.

Once I set off from the aid station, it was time to get serious. Diamond Peak was no joke. The climb starts out innocent enough, and you think, Oh, that wasn’t so bad. That’s what everyone was worried about? Then, you turn the corner and think, Oh sh*t. THAT’S what everyone was worried about. After 20 minutes of inching up the 30 degree incline, you reach a false summit. And then again 20 minutes after that. Seriously, there were so many damned false summits that I though I was in an MC Escher drawing. Sisyphus and his boulder have nothing on Diamond Peak. It was torture. The whole time I was thinking of the poor 100 milers, most of whom would have to make this climb in the middle of the night. I said a little prayer for them.

This 2D picture doesn’t do it justice. And it’s only a fraction of the climb.

Nothing like an angry self-photo to make things seem less serious

After finally, finally reaching the summit, I felt fantastic. I felt invincible, and mistakenly thought that the rest of the race would be a breeze from here on out. I’m sure this would’ve been the case if I’d being more meticulous with fueling. Instead, a few short miles from Diamond Peak, I found myself struggling to keep up a slow jog. I had used all my fuel during the climb, and was really falling behind on calories. Another problem was starting to occur as well. The Diamond Peak climb was basically all sand. It was like climbing uphill on the beach. Without gaiters (rookie error Megan!), massive amounts of sand had compiled in my shoes. I could feel the friction, yet didn’t want to stop, sit down, and empty my shoes. Since there was a lot of sand on the entire course, I knew that they’d be filled up again in a matter of minutes. I thought I could tough it out, but in hindsight I should’ve just stopped every half hour to empty my shoes. Would’ve saved me a lot of pain.

I breezed through Bull Wheel, the next aid station after Diamond Peak, just filling my water bottles and grabbing some potato chips. A few minutes later, I remembered that I needed to consciously eat as many calories as possible. I pulled a Bonk Breaker bar out of my bag, took a small bite, and gagged. I couldn’t even stomach a small bite. At this point, with blisters forming on my feet and feeling lightheaded and nauseous, I knew that the next 15 miles were going to be the most uncomfortable 15 miles I’ve ever gone. While the pain forming in my feet was pretty bad, the worst thing to deal with was feeling like my heart was going to beat a hole through my chest and that I had no energy whatsoever to lift my feet up time and time again. I knew I was going to finish, but I also knew it was going to take a while, and be a rough go of it.

This view is the reason I was only 90% miserable

The discomfort lasted for miles and hours. Finally, at the second to last aid station, I knew I had to force food down my gullet or I was in danger of collapsing on the trail. Seriously. Fortunately, these kind souls had soup going that I knew was mostly for the 100 milers heading out into the night, but was the one thing that calmed my stomach down. They also had some protein packed strawberry Ensure smoothies that, when slowly sipped, I was able to tolerate. I fear to think now, after knowing that I ran the last part of the race in the dark, how things would have turned out if I hadn’t refueled properly here. I can only be grateful that I finished the race the way I did, and didn’t come across worse circumstances.

10 miles left in the race. I took it easy while my body absorbed the calories I’d just ingested. What a waste would it be if, after struggling down all that food, I spewed it all along the trail? Thankfully, I kept moving and kept the food down. And soon enough, I felt good enough to run.

And run I did, until I realized that half my right heel, as well as under my toes and under my arch were covered in blisters. Really?? After 40 some miles, and finally well fueled, I found it painful to land on my feet, of all things. My legs felt great, but with every step I felt a sharp and painful stab at my heel. I wanted to stop and cry, but more than anything I wanted to be at that damn finish line, so I kept it moving, wincing every time I stepped, but knowing that the blister had to give at some point, and either way every step I took was one step closer to being done.

Finally, finally, finally…the blister popped. (Lovely, I know. You’re welcome.) I was able to run, and run I did. Not because I felt new, or energized, or had a second wind, but because the sun was setting. I ran the sh*t out of those last few miles and only stopped about 1 mile out from the finish, because at that point it was too dark for safe footing. (If you know me, you know I’m prone to eating it on the trail. I don’t stay on two feet easily. Falling is my middle name.) I pulled out my iPhone flashlight app and power-walked my way towards the finish line while trying to hold back panic and tears.

Finally, I finished. Yes, no fancy way of putting it. It was uneventful, unlike my finish at AR50. 14 hours and 53 minutes. I ran it in, yes, and people were cheering, but that was it. I had no emotion left in me. I wanted to take off my socks, take a shower, and collapse in bed. I got my plaque, kissed my family, and got the heck out of there.


You’d think that after running 50 miles at altitude with 10,000 ft of incline while barely fueling, one would be hungry, right? I wish I could’ve eaten. But my stomach was a shambles. I barely got down half a baked potato and a few bites of salad from Wendy’s. I only ate because I knew I had to. Before I drifted off to sleep, I consciously propped my pillow up so that my food would digest and I wouldn’t vomit in my sleep.

Come 3 am and I was ravenous. Hunger so strong it was painful. Nothing in my room was palatable except popcorn, and since Tony had been such an angel throughout this ordeal I didn’t want to wake him up with the noise. After a fitful half hour I managed to fall back asleep. At 6 am, my subconscious knew that the breakfast room was open and I slept-walked there to eat a hot waffle. It was the best food I’d ever had in my whole life. It was only after I ate the waffle, ate a cup of yogurt, went back to the room and was drifting off to sleep once again, that I knew I’d be OK.

Final Thoughts

When I woke up for good the next day, I realized I wasn’t that sore. I’d been more sore after road marathons. Did this attest to the fact that I was in fantastic shape?? No. It meant that I could’ve ran faster, climbed harder, and come in hours earlier. In fact, this whole week of “recovery,” really just 2 days till I felt normal again, has made me a little bitter and angry at myself. How is one fully recovered 2 days after a 50 mile mountain race?? I should be sore, aching, icing and medicating. I should have pain that I earned. Instead, I earned a finish, but that’s it. I could’ve done better.

Next year I’m going back for more. TRT50, I got you. Until then, there are a few more 50 milers that have my name on them.

TRT50 Race Recap: Pre Race

The Tahoe Rim Trail 50 Miler was one of the most memorable experiences in my whole life. The day was filled with some pretty high highs and pretty low lows, but I never reached a point where I didn’t feel anything but lucky and blessed to be there. This race report will probably be random, and aimless, but that’s my blog theme, right?? So read as much as you want, and leave when you get bored :). I won’t be offended.

Tony and I drove up to Tahoe (from the Bay Area) on Wednesday afternoon. I was hoping to acclimate to the altitude as much as possible for the race. When I tried to google info on acclimating, I got a variety of results, but the consensus seemed to be that to truly acclimate, I’d have to spend 2 or more weeks at altitude. Since I didn’t have that kind of time or money, and since Tahoe is “altitude lite”, I decided to head up 2 days before and hope for the best.

Man, can I just say I have the best boyfriend in the world? I was a raging…well, I don’t like to curse, but you can guess what I was the days before the race. I was nervous, on edge, and very passive aggressive about inconsequential things. I knew I was being a B, but I couldn’t stop myself! Poor Tony… we can only hope that one day I’ll tolerate pregnancy hormones better than taper nerves because I’m sure he’ll leave me if he has to deal with that again.

Nonetheless, we had some enjoyable moments. I was too scared to do anything fun like biking or kayaking, because I didn’t want to strain a muscle or fall. (In hindsight, it might’ve helped to enjoy and relax. Turns out I was not sore after the race which means I could’ve kicked back a little. Note for next year.) The only activity that was left was eating, and we did that in spades. There were many restaurants by our hotel that were right on the lake and we got to enjoy some gorgeous views and sunsets.

A summary of our days before the race:

The day before the race, I set out everything that I would need for the next day. I wanted to be prepared as possible, and if anything, have too many things that I could drop off rather than not have something that I needed and later regret it. Turns out there was one thing that I didn’t even think I needed, and not having it played a big part of my misery on race day.

Missing one vital piece of clothing. Hint: starts with “g” and ends with “aiters”. Rookie error #1

I also packed my drop bag with all the food that I might need at Tunnel Creek aid station. This aid station would be visited 3 times. (The course was like a 3 leaf clover, the leaves being the loops. Each loop ended at Tunnel Creek, and the bottom of the stem was the start and finish of the race.)

Rookie error #2 here

See all that food there? None of it got eaten. Yes, everything made me nauseous, and my limited intake of calories was another thing that would doom me the next day. For my next race, this photo will show bags of potato chips, salted nuts, and chicken/turkey and cheese wraps. LESSON LEARNED.

The few things that went well were my shoes,

the Saucony Xodus 3.0, which got me up Diamond Peak, the 2 mile uphill with a 30% incline almost the entire way. Also helpful were my Nathan Intensity hydration pack and my Amphipod handheld water bottle.

Staying hydrated was the one thing I did right during this race.

The night before the race, we went out and had a nice, late dinner. We got back to the hotel and around 9 or so and I was fast asleep at 10:30. I woke up at 3:15 am with energy, ready to tackle the day.

Just a little run around Tahoe. No big deal :)

to be continued…