Will Run for Chocolate

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Sunday had me Run something I first intended to do last year but had to rethink due to my jacked up Knee – The Hot Chocolate 15k in San Francisco. I’ve not ran an official 15k before, I went straight into Half Marathon’s and certainly never ran anything that rewarded me with Chocolate at the end! This seemed like a good thing in theory but but on looking back, large amounts of Chocolate that early in the day is NOT a wise idea.

Anyhow, I signed up and shortly after Megan signed up too so we planned to meet and run together, a lot of the members of the Mountain House Running Club were also going so I was looking forward to seeing some of those too. Only come Run day there were so many people there I simply couldn’t find anybody. Whatever. I guess there’s always other run.s
I was placed in the first Corral of the 15k due to my pace but decided to move back and start with Megan. We ran the first 5k together at her pace then as she had to slow agree’d that I would carry on ahead at mine for the other 10.

It was a nice course. Starting in Golden Gate Park and running down the coast and back into the Park at the end. I’ve never actually been IN the Park on foot before so it was certainly a new experience for me, the views were pretty but darn it! The course went past a mini waterfall not 1 mile into it making want to pee almost immediately, I managed to hold out until about mile 5 but when you gotta go you gotta go. Luckily there were restrooms along the course along with ”Aid” stations filled with Candy. The first station was Chocolate Chips of which Megan and I grabbed a few but then swiftly trashed them, the second stations was Strawberry Marshmallows. What he what??! Ever played that game Chubby Bunnies? Well, Running and trying to eat a Marshmallow was kind of like that. Had they put a Photographer after that station there would be some hilarious pictures! Anyhow, the third station I skipped completely and only found out after the run that they stocked Tootsie Rolls. Not something I would want to eat EVER let alone during a run.

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The run for me went smoothly. As it was my workout for the day I wanted to do it in a respectable time without pushing myself too hard or running too fast, my Knee still isn’t quite 100% after all, I was aiming for around 1:30. Megan and I did the first 5k in 32 minutes then the last 10k alone I did in 44 minutes which is actually pretty fast but it really didn’t feel it at the time, there were a few hills towards the end but nothing too taxing. I was pretty pleased with my 1:16 finish time which turned out to be 30th in my age group of of 1,000+ people. Not bad for not actually racing and best of all my Knee was in no way pissed at me! I think I now have this new strategy of not pushing myself too hard nailed.

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Post race wasn’t your usual grab a Banana, Bagel and Water but you got a Bowl of Chocolate Goodies = Hot Chocolate, liquid dipping Chocolate and a few bits to dip (Banana, Marshmallow, Krispy Treat, Pretzels and a Wafer) . I skipped the Wafer and Pretzels but did end up scooping out about 70% of the melted Chocolate with my finger before feeling really sick. I know a lot of Runners swear by Chocolate Milk after a Run for recovery but this was something else. Great concept but not a good idea to even try consume that much Chocolate at 9:30am.

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The Bling and ”Goodie bag” for this event were well worth the entry fee though, I absolutely love the Hooded Sweatshirt which although I got an XS is still kind of big it was much needed on the cold San Francisco morning. The medal is a really cute Chocolate Bar design and heavy duty, it looks great in my growing collection.

Steve met me at the Finish Line but didn’t get a Video or Pictures as he completely missed me (booo) but the important thing for me was that he was there. It doesn’t matter how big or small the Finish line he is always there supporting me. I love him for that.

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Another year..

Aaah, the New Year. A time to make Resolutions, Goals and the first few weeks is filled with promise and optimism, right? Nope. Not here. I don’t believe in making Resolutions for the new year or setting goals. Why do it on a specific day when you if it’s something you’re really serious about you can do it any time?
Yeah.. you won’t see me making huge declarations of how ”This is going to be the year”. Yet, with that said there are maybe a couple things I would like to see done in 2015 that just wasn’t possible in 2014 and it does have me reflect back on the past year and achievements.

- The Knee injury from late Summer 2013 heeled. Yay! Yet where I think I was overly cautious at not putting too much strain on said Knee I also ended up weakening my Vastus Medialis Muscles so now I need to work on Strengthening those again. Fun times.
I did get back Running.. Nothing too crazy though which really worked well in my favor as 2014 was also the year I learnt of restraint. I don’t need to PR or place in everything I do. Pacing in the San Francisco Half paid a huge part in me learning this as did Running with and supporting Friends. I ran 3 Half Marathon’s where I went at somebody elses pace.. Me.. Not Running balls to the wall, who would have thought?
2014 also had me FINALLY knock off Tough Mudder from my bucket list and not just one event either. I’m Legionaire, baby!

Aside from Fitness I also met some awesome people and made some great Friends. Living in California over 4 years now those first couple were really tough but now it is my home, our home. Steve and I love California and our life here so much we wouldn’t even think about leaving. Life is good, we have a lovely home, great neighbors and most of all we’re happy. Something I don’t think we ever truly were in England.

2014 also had me go down the dark route of obsessing over gaining the muscle that I lost while Running and hell I don’t want to go back there.  It saw myself obsessively planning each workout and meal in detail and almost let it rule my life around February – March time. It actually started to suck all enjoyment out of my workouts which I hated. I didn’t want to be that person that obsessed over goals, sure I would like the ”perfect body” but at what price? It’s all good and well my setting a goal but what happens when I reach it? I almost certainly will not be happy and I set another and go back to obsessing again. It’s a vicious circle and life is too short for that shit.
Anyhow, I put an end to that shit quite swiftly by mentally giving myself a talking to every day for a couple of months. It probably took about 6 or 7 weeks to get out of that mindset and I feel so much better for it. And whaddayaknow, since I stopped obsessing I appear to have gained a lot anyway. Happy days!

So, 2015 is in full swing and I have made no resolutions but I guess I do have a couple of very small goals with the main one being to make it to the end of the year without injuring myself. Setting the bar low, right? :)
The other is to not loose Muscle mass and to just carry on enjoying my workouts as it’s my ”me time”. If I happen to gain then great! But it isn’t my main objective.
And lastly, this is a biggy and because it was something I wasn’t able to do last year. I want to do a Duathlon or Triathlon. I love Running and it’s something I don’t ever plan on giving up, I just need a new challenge.

Happy 2015!

The ultimate honor.

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Sunday the 2nd of November in San Francisco 5,000+ people gather to run the US Half Marathon and there I am amidst it all with a Pacing sign in my hand ready to take on the huge responsibility of helping people finish in their desired time. Who would have thought?

I got the role of one of the five Pacers for this event just day’s before through Marathon Matt and was really excited to not only Run the first part of my ”Golden State Series” across the Golden Gate Bridge (somewhere I have wanted to Run since we moved to California over 4 years ago!) but also have the huge honor to be trusted with such a job.  I won’t lie, at first I was extremely worried about the pace I was supposed to do – 2:15! That’s 35-40 minutes slower than my usual pace and I wasn’t even sure if I could go that pace for that period of time but I took it as a challenge to teach myself restraint that I actually succeeded at.

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We set off right on time at Aquatic Park and ran along the waterfront towards the bridge where I soon discovered that running a 10:18 minute mile was not my strong point but found a couple of people going that rough pace that I could talk to and before I knew it 2 miles had passed and I had a little more confidence in myself and the job ahead.
We soon approached the first set of restrooms where I took a quick break setting me back to a 17:52 minute mile and had the incline up to the Bridge to make up my time. Hilarious moments pursued where I heard people cuss and swear that there was ”no way she’s doing a 10:18 mile” and a few question how I was able to run so fast uphill. Yet I couldn’t stop to explain why so fast and by the time I was on the bridge I was back on pace and enjoying the gorgeous views of The City and Marin County in the distance, pausing occasionally to take a picture.

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iew of The City at around 8am                             Alcatraz making my way to the Finish Line

Once in Marin we did a quick loop before heading back onto the Bridge where the next 3 miles all kind of blurred into one where I was going an average of just under 10 minute mile for the best part of 8 miles and once going through the Golden Gate National area at the 11 mile mark I knew I was slightly ahead of time so had to really slow down my pace and even took a minute to stretch as to not come in too early.
The last couple of miles seemed to pass by really slowly, partly because of my even slower pace but also because of not having any water. I had my new Nathan vest which I used with the bladder from my Camelbak but had been carrying ”dead weight” from about the 3 mile mark as that’s where the valve clip had broken off of the tube and was unable to get any water out. I was pissed and Camelbak have since received a strong worded email from me.  Anyhow, the beautiful views of the Bay and cheering on other Runners helped take my mind off of the lack of water and before I knew it was coming in to Aquatic Park and towards the Finish Line where I came in almost right on time at 2:14:15 and Steve right there waiting for me, Camera in hand filming my joyous moment of accomplishing something new.

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Doing this event I met some really cool people, I kind of wish I had connected with them on social media before we parted ways. I must have chatted with about a dozen people along the way all commenting on how helpful it had been to have me there pacing and my awesome taste in music blaring from my Boombot keeping them motivated.

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The course is slightly longer than a Half Marathon, other people had mentioned this from previous years and I agree as my Garmin also measured it at 13:24 miles, not a huge deal though.  Taking part got me some rather cool bling too, A rotating medal that has The Golden Gate Bridge on one side and a Cable Car on the other. Having this hung on my medal display has me really looking forward to the Livermore Half in March and eager to then complete The Towns Half next August and claim my extra medal for completing the series. Who knows… I may get a Pacing gig for that too!

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ost Run with Alcatraz in the background.

And then there was the day I did two Half Marathon’s…

Some have called me crazy, others hardcore but one thing can be said is that I rarely ever quit. Thus, it’s a combination of all of these that recently had me run two, yes TWO Half Marathon’s in one day. When the day started I didn’t intend to though, it just kind of happened.

Sunday 5th October I was registered to run the Tiburon Half with a newly made friend Megan, a member of our most recent Tough Mudder team. A newbie to Running this was her first Half Marathon as a Birthday gift to herself, I couldn’t see a new Runner tackling their first Half alone so we got up at Ass O’clock (4am) and made the drive over into North Bay.

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Getting ready to start the Tiburon Half

With a 7am a start we started off with no real plan of action but to just complete it.. together. Before this Summer any Half Marathon would have had me Running flat out ”balls to the wall” in order to PR but something strange happened very recently and that was that I realized I am way too competitive with myself. I’ve already proven myself to be pretty damn badass and surpassed even my own expectations so have took to taking a step back from pushing myself so hard when it comes to Running. After pacing my Husband, Steve in his first Half Marathon I found that the fun had Running with someone else and finishing together is just as satisfying as be awarded that first place medal and beating my own time.

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Anyhow.. we did indeed finish together and it was a great moment to share Megan’s first Half Marathon finishing line.
The course itself was for the most part beautiful with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. We Jogged along the coast watching the fog rise off of the water and cloak the Golden Gate Bridge and The City while being warmed by clear early morning sunshine and a clear blue Sky. Conversations went from our recent Tough Mudder to past Beau’s and making fun of my ”funny accent”, with multiple restroom breaks along the course it was easy to forget just how many miles we were covering and came to a finish with a time that was well, somewhat longer than I am used to but completely irrelevant.

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Crossing the Finishing Line

Post race we headed back into East Bay towards home stopping for some Brunch along the way.

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Post Run Brunch! French Toast Josephine

There must have been a shit load of sugar in that Brunch because aside from almost giving myself Diabetes I went from being half asleep to wide awake and come 2pm I had my second wind and decided I wanted to go for another run. Having signed up for The Blerch Virtual Run I figured it was the perfect time to knock out a few miles to earn that medal and T- Shirt and with my Knee still not 100% I decided 5-6 miles at around 9-10 min mile pace would be enough to douse my running urge.

So what happened? I happened! The endorphin’s started flowing and once I got to mile 5 there was no stopping me, I figured I was over a third of the way there so I may as well round it off to respectable 13.1. Finishing up with 13.56 miles logged I felt amazing! I’ve never completed that many miles unplanned before and certainly not on just 2 hours sleep. It was a great day, I supported a friend and newbie Runner in their first long distance run and I beat my own record proving to both myself and everybody that has ever doubted me that I am pretty damn awesome. October the 5th 2014 shall forever be known as the day I completed two Half Marathon’s just because I could.

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Big Balls!!

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No, not those balls. Kindly take your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking Wipeout style Big Balls at ROC Race.
This year was ROC Race’s debut in San Jose and eager to partake in the obstacle course Steve and I signed up as soon as registration opened and I don’t mean within the first couple of day’s, I mean within seconds of it opening which snagged us both the ROC Race headband which went to the first 50 people. As ‘VIP’ sign up we also got the Tech T-Shirt too.

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News spread within our Running Club of the event and we had some others join our ‘team’ Cookie Monsters which was great, much more fun with more people. John, Bernadette and Randy met with us on the day and we GoPro’d the entire thing between 2 camera’s.
The course was short at just 5k but so much fun, I kind of wish it was a bit longer though as it all seemed to be over way too quickly.
A lot of the obstacles were water based with huge water slides and ‘Wrecking Ball” where you try to cross a beam without being hit by 2 of the huge swinging balls inevitably knocking you into the water.

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Not as easy as it may seem as the balance bar was extremely slippery and was moving a lot. I managed to make it about 85% of the way before falling in, Steve followed and was the only one out of the team to make it all the way across. Way to go Steve!!

Of course, the Big Balls were what everyone was the most excited about and was the obstacle that had the highest failure rate, people were being catapulted off in all directions which was absolutely hilarious to watch. Sadly 4 of Cookie Monsters did not even making it past the second ball but me? I made it all the way across and is where being small with a strong core comes in to play.

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Where all of the Big Balls and Water obstacles were fun I did like the addition of foam, this was towards the end of the course and was one giant inflatable where you slide on Ass, Back, Stomach whatever you want through a pile of foam whilst also being being sprayed with more. You can come out the other side clean or completely covered from head to toe like I did.

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All fun and laughs until climbing out someone jumps on the inflatable you’re sat on sending you landing on your Ass on the floor. And yes it hurt, like a mutha.

Despite the sore Ass I had a blast and can quite confidently say that everybody else did too. If you’re thinking of doing this event I have one thing to say.. DO IT! It’s not every day you have the chance to conquer the Big Red Balls or side in an inflatable ring down the ”Worlds largest inflatable slide”.

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Tough Mudder #2: Tahoe!

10593045_10152738430550774_4190761467468492201_nSkid Marx (post event): Team Captain Bernadette Troncales Weir, Megan Silveira, John Weir, Myself, Stephen Brown, Randy Anzaldo, Jason  Nebleza Legaspi, Julius Jones, David Palavi, Rick Sanders and Nathan Rossi.

Wow, hard to believe Tough Mudder: Diablo Grande was almost 5 months ago and now Skid Marx have just taken part in their 2nd event of the year! For Tahoe the team increased somewhat in size with a very respectable 12 members, it was initially supposed to be 13 but sadly we lost one, Vincent Rafferty due to oral surgery just days before but where he may not have been there physically he was there in spirit.

As Tahoe was such a trek we all decided that a Cabin for the weekend would be the way to go and both Bernadette and myself set about trying to find somewhere, with such a large team and only 3 months until the event it wasn’t easy but we got really lucky when I found a large cabin located right in Truckee. Prime location for our weekend trip! Most of the team arrived by Dinner time the night before the event with the rest early hours of the morning. It was an early start on the morning of the event with last minute customizing of shirts and fueling for the day ahead. Arriving at the event parking and navigating around for pick up was relatively easy, the packet pick up station was a little crazy with hundreds of people all waiting to get on the cable car ride up to the start already and already being at 6,000 feet this course is no joke. I would like to say we started on time without any hitches but that would be way too easy, there seemed to be huge delays between warm up and actually starting which had me really loosing my buzz quickly. You start in the warm up section where we waited to start the warm up for around 15 minutes then once it was done we were moved to the start line where more waiting ensues as the group is then divided into multiple waves that go off 20 minutes apart. A lot of standing around meant that the warm up was pretty pointless, I hope future events are a little more organized.

That first incline was pretty intense for some people and soon become clear that struggles were to be had which sadly resulted in the loss of Bernadette and David very early on due to Bernadette having an old injury flare up during the week leading up and David not wanting her to go alone. It was a sad moment but we all powered on. The first few miles passed quickly and the course opened up to the occasional obstacle where the team worked together to conquer them. and the incline increased. Camaraderie from other teams was strong here, more so than Diablo Grande I think, everybody was looking out for each other and I had a blast helping strangers through and over obstacles. It got to the point that I ended up carrying some guy I had never met on Warrior Carry because him team was of odd numbers. Great picture opportunity!! lWhat with all of the inclines, elevation and different fitness levels the inevitable happened somewhere around mile 5 and the team got scattered, I tried to stay in the middle of everyone to try and keep the team somewhat together but failed miserably and ended up doing a lot of the course with just the 5 of us and teaming with another team to do Pyramid Scheme. It was a sad moment as it really was one of those team obstacles I think we would have all rocked, along with Arctic Enema right before it. However the team did all rejoin briefly as we powered up yet more inclines where the elevation was really getting to Steve with periods of dizziness and constantly feeling sick. His actions over roughly 3 miles that had me very proud, fighting through and adamant to continue playing catch up with the team members that were faster than him but it all finally got too much between mile 7 and 8 where he and Rick had to back out. I won’t lie, I was upset. This one last steep incline was all that stood between him and the decline where I know he would not only be able to complete but also speed up. I feel that had he been able to take just a few minutes rest he would have rocked the course and we would have done what I had hoped to do all along and that finish together.  But then you don’t always get what you want.

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Those last 5 miles were relatively easy with a few more obstacles and the new addition of ”Legionnaire’s Loop”. This year also had the Funky Monkey made harder by the angle of the bars being made 30% steeper. That said all but one of the team that attempted it completed it, that being Myself, Nathan and Heather for a second time this year. I don’t know if it was the loss of so many team mates or the thin air but the spirit of the remainder coming to the finish line seemed sombre. We were hungry and some were injured which probably didn’t help either so meeting up with the ”fallen warriors” was a great moment. We may not have all completed and finished the course together but we were  team and later celebrated as one with Pizza, Shots and some hilarious games of Telephone Pictionary back at the cabin. Having been my second Tough Mudder now I can officially say I am hooked and fully intend to earn myself that black x10 Mudder headband, hopefully before I hit 40 too! Steve and I already have our 2015 open ticket for any Mudder event and should we participate just the 2 of us or in a team it’s going to be a blast! 1601316_10154454544320322_5450523577713624038_n

Wharf To Wharf: Santa Cruz To Capitola

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Since I ran my first official race last February (Niles Half Marathon) I’ve become very aware of other local races and this event peeked my interested when fellow members of my Running Club told me they had heard good things about both the race and the course. Better yet, it excited me a little as a good friend, Tram lives in Santa Cruz too and I thought it would be perfect opportunity to Run together after her telling me she wanted in on some of ”crazy Running adventures”.

Sign up for me was very easy, I entered my average pace, personal details, paid and then a few weeks before the event I received my bib in the mail. Tram didn’t have quite the same good luck although got charged never received her bib! Luckily she has a great boyfriend and when I found out the local Fleet Feet had a limited number of bibs sold back by Runners who could no longer attend he went and picked one up for her just so that we could run together. 

Race day comes and Santa Cruz gets crazy busy!! 16,000 people attend this event every year and is sold out in no time. Corals are given based on your average pace which is supposed to alleviate road blocks but people clearly do not understand this as people that should have been in coral 3 or 4 were in 1 and 2 and vice versa. Once given your coral you can move back but not forward and being placed in Coral 1 I moved back to run with Tram as her Coral had already been set by the person who originally had the bib. 

The course is beautiful, yes but really not the sort of event serious Runners like myself should attend unless registered as an Elite Runner or are right at the front of Coral 1. walkers were all over the place and people zigzagging left right and center throughout the entire 6 miles, it was mildly organized chaos. 
The course was littered with numerous bands and spectators cheering or on hand with hosepipes spraying people with water, not something I appreciated but some people seemed to enjoy it.

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Post race festivities were on the Capitola beach, I didn’t see much festiveness going on as we just picked up or goodie bags before heading out. The bags were pretty cool – Drawstring bag containing a T-Shirt, Bottled Water, Prickly Passion Lemonade, Power Bar Wafers, Trail Mix, a Fruit Chew Bar and a Chapstick. NO Banana’s! Which kind of sucks as that’s one of my favorite parts of a Run. I always say that if I’m getting up at ass o’clock to run then there better be a Banana and some bling at the end of it, at Wharf To Wharf there was neither. Still, I had a fun time and would happily go back and do the run without the other 16,000 other people in attendance.

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Sharing the passion

Since I ran my first official Half Marathon in February of last year I have been trying to get Steve (my Husband for those of you who do not personally know us both) involved too with very little success. The first two Half’s I signed up for I also took to signing him up for the 5k in the same event for two reason’s 1. So that he didn’t get bored waiting the 95-100 minutes it took me to finish and 2. So that he could get some exercise too.  Needless to say he wasn’t at all pleased and even after the two events my numerous attempts at getting him running the local trails fell flat.
Until this year that is. After me doing Tough Mudder he decided to join the team for the next one coming up in August which of course meant Running. Tough Mudder is no walk in the park and most courses are 12 miles. The most he has ever done was 7 to which he complained throughout the entire distance so we had a lot of work to do in just 3 months!

In our Running sessions and training I signed us bot up for 2 events to prepare him for the big day and I have to say I was incredibly proud of how he progressed. So how did the events go down?

”The Riveter” Half Marathon. Richmond, CA.

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All smiles and happy between mile 1 and 2

Only having been jogging for 3 weeks I signed the both of us up for this event just for me to see where he was at physically so that I knew what work needed to be done for Tough Mudder and where I knew he wasn’t going to be able to jog all of it I was confident he would complete it even if it meant walking for the most part. Our aim? Under 3hrs.
Despite getting up at ass o’clock (4am) he started strong and made the first 5 miles look easy, slowing to walk and re hydrate occasionally and managed the first 7-8 miles without any visible issues only then the ”I can’t” became frequent but with a little encouragement he fought through and had a real sense of humor about the whole experience joking every couple of miles. Mile 10 was when it all went a bit pear shaped and we took to walking the next 3 miles, he was tired, aching and the Cheeseburger cravings had kicked in so I took to singing Linkin Park in hopes it would help.. I like to think it did as at the very last 0.20 mile the jogging started back up and crossed the finish line together. This for me was my favorite part of the run, it was a huge achievement and I was probably just as proud of him as he was of himself.

Favorite Steve-isms of the day:

- ”Oh look, there’s a photographer! Let’s make it look like we are actually running”.

- Coming to a section of the course that doubled back on itself we passed a lady that said the turn was ”just ahead”

Steve: ”Where is this turn? That lady lied!”
Me: ”She didn’t lie, she was encouraging. It’s what runners do”
Steve: ”Well she shouldn’t. It’s deceiving. And mean”. Before then pouting for the next half mile.

- Upon discovering we had to run through a Dog Park.
”What the fuck?? If I wanted to do a shit run I would have signed up for one”. (You should know that when we did Mud Factor last March we were essentially running through Cow poop.

A fun tine was had that day and we treated ourselves with a trip to Cinnaholic afterwards as post run food was nonexistent which was really disappointing. No Banana after 13 miles and no water at the finish line, not impressed.

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Crossing the finish line together

”Pacific Coast Trail Run – Pacifica”:

Bernadette, our Tough Mudder team captain encouraged us to sign up for this event and where I was wary at first due to my Knee still not being quite right we went ahead anyway. We opted for the 10k and used it as another training run for Steve to get him used to the hills.

Getting up a 4:30am to make the 60+ mile drive to Pacifica was not easy but I am so glad we did because we had a great run. The trail was beautiful with impressive inclines, I love incline running so I was in my element and even Steve really seemed to enjoy himself. As it was only a 10k the event was over pretty quickly and afterwards were rewarded with an impressive spread of food from the organizers – Waffles, Egg Burritos, Fruit and lot’s of Salty snacks. Definitely one of the better I have seen and an organizer I am eager to run with again.

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Steve Refueling post Run & My awards

As for times, Steve came in with an impressive 1:25:18! And myself? 52:01. Not too shabby for my first official 10k. I came in 2nd overall Woman, beat the race directors time and even beat the course record time but best of all was sharing my love of trail Running with Steve.

I can’t wait to include Steve in more running events in the future!

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Post trail run with Megan and Steve

2014: The year of Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is becoming more and more popular as the years go on, each year more people are becoming aware of it and each event has increasing numbers of participants every year.
So, ”what is Tough Mudder?” few people may ask. Well, it’s a mud filled obstacle course designed by the British special forces, typically 10-12 miles in distance which vary’s on location. It’s designed to challenge you with a lot of the obstacles involving an aspect a lot of people fear such as fire, heights, enclosed spaces and electricity. Sounds crazy right? It is! But it’s also an immense amount of fun if you’re with the right people. Tough Mudder is all about team work.

I’ve wanted to do Tough Mudder and been ready for it since 2012 but had a couple of things held me back :
1. Couldn’t find a group of people crazy enough to join me.
2. Severe Knee injury.
That was until this past December (Yay!) I was lucky enough to find an awesome group of people that welcomed me onto their team to join them at  Diablo Grande in April and although still in recovery from an injury a couple more months of taking it easy my Knee was well enough for me to take part.

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Team Skid Marx

After months of excitement the day finally came and I won’t lie, I was actually pretty nervous. Mainly by the thought of being shocked by 10,000 volts and jumping off of something 20 feet high. Nerves didn’t last long though and once we were started I was having an absolute blast.
Diablo Grande is what even Tough Mudder called ”arguably the steepest terrain of all obstacle courses.” and it didn’t disappoint. The elevation level was less than my last Half Marathon but the inclines were steeper which being slightly sadistic and loving hill Running I really enjoyed but is a real bitch for those slightly less prepared. The first 3-4 miles were nothing but hills which then gave way to obstacles spaced out over the next 8 miles. I believe there was 25 obstacles in total, I may be wrong though as I completely lost count after a while. Obstacle highlights:

- Funky Monkey.
Despite *Arctic Enema not long before having my Triceps stiff and on the verge of cramping (they did within minutes of completing this obstacle) I miraculously made it all the way across! I really wasn’t sure about how to go about completing this and had 2 options 1. Take it slow one bar at a time or 2. Go as fast as I possibly could taking 2 or 3 bars at a time.  I started of slowly until my right Tricep started twitching telling me it was about to cramp so midway ended up changing strategy and going with the latter option. It was actually pretty fun and reminded me of being a kid again.
*Arctic Enema being submerged in water averaging 32F

- Kiss of Mud.
Lot’s of Mud. Which is the whole point, right?


- Cage Crawl.
The color of the water was slightly un-nerving (yellow-ish) but it was nowhere near as scary as the pictures look. 


- Balls To the Ball.
A real test of upper body strength. Those ropes were slippery!

- Electroshock Therapy.
I said I was slightly sadistic, right? Well, I actually really enjoyed this last obstacle right before the finish line. Not so much being hit hard with 10,000 volts in my right shoulder but completing it with my team and watching other people get shocked too.

- Everest.
Ok, so I actually did not like this obstacle much at all. I completely psyched myself out on my first attempt and almost fell on my Ass but I did love the amazing team work shown by my fellow team mates (Go Skid Marx!) They really had my back and were there ready to grab me and help me up that evil wall.

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Look at that awesome teamwork!

The entire atmosphere and camaraderie at the event was great too with strangers helping strangers and cheering people on. Everybody was just so damn friendly! Something this Brit is still not quite used to.
A lot of people have since asked me ”Is it really that tough?” Some of the obstacles were but I personally didn’t find it much more intense than one of my every day workouts but I guess it just all depends on who you ask and how well you have trained for it, if at all.

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So there we go, another activity marked off my bucket list. But it’s not over yet! Skid Marx enjoyed this event so much that we’re now all preparing for Tahoe in August. I’m really excited because not only is it a different course but we have more team members too including my Husband who saw we were having so much fun decided he could do it as well. And to think I’ve been trying to get him to do it with me for 2 years now with his response being ”Hell no. I’ll die”. We’ll see…

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Determination and dedication is key: My weight loss journey.

I am writing this post as lately I have received great encouragement to do so by some newly made friends who have made me realize that I have really come a long way over the years in my quest to become fit and healthy. Apparently I have been an inspiration..?! Therefore I hope my writing this inspires others too.
Dedicated to those who have supported me through the process. I love you guys!

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Looking at the petite athletic person I am today it’s often hard to believe that I used to be incredibly overweight. Yes, this little 107lb person you see before you used to be around 190lb. I still struggle to believe it myself so hearing peoples response of ”No way!” and ”How did you do it?” have become quite a regular occurrence when told of the transformation.

Looking back, I have always struggled with my weight. Right from about 7 years old I was a ”chubby” child and was told ”It’s just puppy fat. You’ll grow out of it”. Only I didn’t. Yes, I did go through phases of slimming down slightly but I was always overweight. Diet upon diet I tried and always failed, no sooner had I lost 15-20lb would gain it all back again, plus a little bit more.
It didn’t help that family members teased me on a regular basis. I won’t lie, it hurt like hell but then nobody tried to help me or give the right advice. By the time I was in my mid twenties I had simply given up even trying. Obesity is something that a lot of family members suffer with so I just gave into the fact that it was hereditary and I will always be that way.

”So what was the turning point?” a lot of people ask.
It wasn’t some amazing story of do or die. Just a simple self realization of how bad I had let myself get. I remember the day so clearly. It was June, the weather had just started to warm up and where I had spent the entire winter hiding under loose fitting trousers and over sized sweatshirts I decided it was time to switch to shorts. I didn’t have any that fit so it meant a trip to the Mall. I wanted a pair of those 3/4 length Jean shorts and tying on the largest size the store had, a UK size 18 (US 14) I froze in shock when I couldn’t get them past mid thigh. I knew I had gained over Winter but really wasn’t aware of just how much. Needless to say I broke down crying in complete disgust with myself.

That moment of self pity didn’t last long though and looking back at the mess that was myself in the mirror I guess you could say something inside me just snapped. I came to the realization that I didn’t have to be overweight. That if I wanted to change only I could do something about it. Nobody else was to blame but myself. I left the store that day with a goal and headed straight to the nearest grocery store to stock up on lean meats, fruits and vegetables. My ”diet” started then.

I decided not to weigh myself as I think this is part of the reason I failed before, I got too hung up on numbers and got disheartened when the scales didn’t show the hard work I thought I had put in. Instead I simply decided go by how my clothes were fitting.  Also being a severe Asthmatic and hating exercise with a passion I started off by just changing my eating habits.
Those first few weeks were tough, really tough. Munching on my Salad while my (now Husband) had his favorite Pizza or Curry was torture but it paid off when after about 6 weeks my clothes had became very loose and I plucked up the courage to step on the scale for the first time in close to 2 years. 178lb! I was gobsmacked that the number was so high, especially being just 5 foot tall but I felt good as we estimated I had probably lost around 10-15lb already and instead of wanting to give up I set my first small goal of reaching 168lb followed by another of 158lb.
By the time I had reached that second goal I introduced exercise. Slowly at first as with my Asthma I struggled immensely. It started with workout DVD’s followed by purchasing a Cross Trainer (Elliptical) to use at home and before I knew it 8 months had passed and stepping on the scale I was 134lb! Things had become a lot easier and somewhere In those months my ”diet” (man, I hate that word!) transformed into my new lifestyle. It was time to join a Gym and reach my final goal of 120lb.

That final goal was a few years ago now, clearly I surpassed my own expectations  even despite recently finding out that I have an under active Thyroid where I go through periods of unexplained weight gain.
It’s also during this journey found a new passion. A passion for exercise of all things! Shortly after joining my local Gym I decide to sign up for their training program and in January of 2010 I passed my certification as what the awarding body call a ”Fitness Professional”.
Where I did get down to 101lb I have now increased slightly. Why? Muscle gain! This is a good thing, it actually makes me happy and where I do still weigh myself from time to time (2-3 times a year) I still stand by the fact that the scales are not completely accurate for measuring your progress.

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Here I am at 101lb

My life is now completely different and eating healthily while working out is my passion. 6 and sometimes 7 days a week you’ll see me sweating it out and finding new challenges to push myself to. If you have read my previous posts you will see Running is where my heart is and had someone told me 5 years ago that not only would I be able to Run but also enjoy doing it I would have said they were crazy!

Now, here I go with something I don’t let everybody see purely because of how ashamed I am. The following is a picture of me ”before”. Not at my largest as I hated having pictures taken but when I was a UK size 14-16 (US 10-12). Please excuse the dodgy fancy dress getup.

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Like a completely different person, right?

I now wear US size 0/2 (UK 4/6) and couldn’t be happier.

So what am I saying here? Never give up trying! Yes, it is hard and yes, you will question yourself but the results are totally worth it! Here’s a few tips to help you on your way:

- Set lot’s of smaller goals as opposed to one big one.
– Do not ”diet” by restricting certain foods. Make healthy changes that you can keep up long term and way past when your reach your goal.
– Take measurements. And some ”before” pictures.
– Introduce exercise.
– Do not get too hung up on the scale and definitely don’t weigh yourself every day.
– DO NOT starve yourself.
– Remember Muscle weighs more than Fat too. So if you’re working out the scales are not completely accurate but a rough guide.