November 25, 2011

United Run For the Hungry 5k Race Recap

Yesterday I ran my first ever Turkey Trot, the United Run for the Hungry 5k. I have always wanted to run a Turkey Trot, but since I usually host Thanksgiving at my house I can never really afford to give up so many hours of the morning. I need to be in the kitchen bright and early cooking! This year, however, my best friend hosted Thanksgiving, so while he slaved away all day over the turkey, I got off easy and only had to bring 2 desserts and my Tofurky. My synagogue was getting together a team to run this race (which consisted of both a 5k and a 10k), so I signed up myself, my husband J....and our son, D!

It was D's first ever 5k (3.1 miles). Up until yesterday, his longest run had been 1 mile. Over the past 18 months or so, he has run in several kid's 1 mile races, but never anything as big as a 5k. I was so excited to sign him up and to run it with him. I was worried about how it would go in terms of running WITH him. D is a fast runner, much faster than me. His last race he pulled in around an 8 minute mile; I, on the other hand, am about an 11 minute miler. But I have endurance, and while I'm slow I can complete half marathons. He has NO endurance past a mile. I was curious how this race was going to go!

My mother was visiting us for the week, and she stayed home with our daughter, A. We left early for downtown San Diego, not knowing how the parking situation would be. As luck would have it, we easily found a parking spot and made it to the race site. We hooked up with my friend, T, and his two sons, who were also running the 5k. At one point, T looked down at J's shoes and asked why he wasn't wearing his timing chip. I looked down and--oh my goodness--I had put the WRONG PART OF THE D-RING ON HIS SHOE! It's supposed to look like this and I had accidentally put the INSTRUCTIONS part on his shoe, not the actual timing chip. Worse yet, I had done the same with D's and my own timing chips! I was so embarrassed, absolutely humiliated--I mean, I'm hardly a novice racer! In fact, just this past year I put on FIVE of these timing chips in different half marathons! My only excuse was that I was exhausted when I put them on, so early in the morning (yet another reason to get things ready the day before). Luckily, the situation was easily remedied; we were able to go to the "help" table and get new bibs and timing chips.

Finally, after much waiting around, our race started (the 10k had started an hour before our 5k). I kept telling D to pace himself, that this distance was unknown territory for him, and that he needed to save energy for the whole race. Whenever he would start to pull ahead of me, I would have him slow down and run with me. The first mile or so, he did great! He ran pretty consistently, with a big grin on his face. Soon after that, he wanted to take a few walk breaks. I waved J on ahead of us; I wanted him to run his own race, to get the best 5k time he could get. I wasn't in this for a good "time" in terms of how fast I did it; rather I was in it for a GOOD TIME with my son. From mile 1-2 he alternated running with lots of walk breaks.

At mile 2, he was beat. He told me he was tired. We walked most of that mile. I tried to teach him the meaning of the phrase "dig deep", how he needed to dig deep inside himself to finish that last mile. I told him that his body may say no, but his brain needs to be stronger. That his body will always tell him it's time to quit, but that his mind needs to overpower it and make him perservere. I said him that this was his first 5k, and that whatever his time was would be a PR (personal record for him). I told him that we could train together, so if
when he does another 5k he would be more prepared for it and would smash this time. He heard me tell him all of this, but gosh was he beat. When I told him to dig deep, he told me he only had a few drops left. Such a cutie!

Finally, my Garmin beeped that we were at the 3 mile mark. I had told him that when he heard the beep, there would be only .10 miles left, and that we were going to run it in together. And so we did! At the end, there were lots of people on the side cheering, and I think that (and the fact that the finish line was clearly visible) gave D energy. We saw J waiting for us right at the finish line (he had finished about 4 minutes ahead of us) looking so proud. The best part is that D and I crossed the finish line together, holding hands.

I am so proud of him! I hope this is the first of many races we will do together. I usually don't do 5ks (in fact, I hate them, preferring to spend my money instead on half marathons) but for him I'll delightedly make an exception!

November 23, 2011

Erica Sara Designs Giveaway!

It is no secret that I am all about being grateful for what I have. After all, the name of my blog is "Grateful Mama". If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that, despite the challenges that have been thrown my way in terms of my daughter's and husband's health, I am truly grateful for the wonderful life I have. I am GRATEFUL for my daughter, and what she can do in spite of the obstacles she has had to overcome. I am GRATEFUL for my husband, who loves me and provides stability for our family. I am GRATEFUL that my body allows me to swim, bike, run and participate in my beloved half marathons and triathlons.

This month, November, is the perfect month to celebrate gratitude. To that end, I am proud to announce a giveaway from my favorite jeweler, Erica Sara.

Erica is an amazing woman. I met her last year on Twitter and somehow, among the hundreds and hundreds of people that I've connected with there, we developed a close friendship. We also started to motivate each other on Daily Mile. She is a runner, a yoga fanatic, a graphic artist (she re-designed my blog for me earlier this year!) and a fantastic jeweler. She creates gorgeous jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, even cuff links) and has a line of race bling that I covet. She also, at my request, created my "born to do this" necklace, which she now sells on her website. Please, go look at her jewelry line; each piece is more gorgeous than the next. In short, I am a blessed woman to call Erica my friend. I can't wait to meet her in person one day.

Erica and I want to host a giveaway based on gratitude. We want to help create a better world, to have people "pay it forward", for we are all blessed, regardless of what challenges or obstacles we have. The winner, who will be chosen at random using a random number generator, will have a choice: they can either choose this beautiful "Gratitude" necklace, OR a race bling necklace (either the 13.1 necklace or the 26.2 one).

"Gratitude" necklace

"13.1" necklace

"26.2" necklace

So, what do you have to do to enter? While there are many optional entries, which will be explained below, there is only one required entry: to do something to help change the world in a positive way (no entry will be valid without this).

Some ideas are:
  • Donate food to a local food bank
  • Volunteer for day at a local organization
  • Check on an elderly neighbor
  • Write a check for charity
  • Donate toys for Toys for Tots or a similar holiday toy drive
  • Pick up litter in your neighborhood
  • Shovel snow for someone who can't

The only limit is your creativity!

The contest will end on Friday, December 2 at 5:00 PST. Again, the winner will have their choice of one of three necklaces (either the 13.1 necklace, the 26.2 necklace, or the Gratitude necklace). Entries will be as follows (and PLEASE leave a separate comment for each entry!)

  • MANDATORY ENTRY: do something positive for the world and write in the comment section what you did.
  • OPTIONAL ENTRIES (one entry for each):

1) Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect by clicking on the "follow" button on the left side of my blog. Leave me a comment telling that you are now following me. If you are already a follower of my blog, you can leave me a comment telling me that too. This will give you one entry.

2) Follow me on twitter (@sugarmagnolia70) and leave me a comment telling me that you are now following me. Again, if you already follow me on twitter you can leave me a comment telling me that as well. This will give you one entry.

3) Follow Erica (@ericasara) on Twitter and leave me a comment that you are following her. This will give you one entry.

4) Become a fan of Erica Sara Designs on Facebook, and leave me a comment telling me you've done so. This will give you one entry.

5) Follow Erica's blog and leave me a comment telling me that you are doing so. This will give you one entry.

6) Tweet the following: "check out the #giveaway @sugarmagnolia70 is doing with @ericasara's race bling/jewelry! Go to for more details!". You can tweet this once a day, giving you one entry per day, until the contest ends.

Good luck! Thank you, Erica, for allowing me to give away one of your gorgeous creations. And thank you, dear readers, for going out there and making the world a better place. My life is indeed better due to the inspiration I get from all of you!

November 14, 2011

Silver Strand Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday I ran my 5th half marathon of 2011, the Silver Strand Half Marathon. As I wrote last week, I was oddly unemotional about this race. Even as I toed the line at the start, I wasn't feeling excited, nervous, anxious, happy....nothing. I hadn't trained specifically for this race, as my husband was supposed to run it but then didn't end up training for it, and transferred his bib to me. Even at the packet pickup the day before, where I usually get a jolt of excitement from all the other runners, I felt emotionless. Regardless, I carefully prepared for the race, eating a carb-filled dinner the night before (which happened to be my 11-year wedding anniversary!) and laying out my clothes and gear.

I got up early on Sunday morning, waking at 3:45 despite my alarm clock being set for 4:05. I was thrilled to see it wasn't raining; it was raining so hard all day Saturday! I got dressed and tried to eat my customary peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, which I had prepared the night before, but could only choke down 1/4 of it. I knew I had to eat, so I opened a Clif Bar. This, too, was unappealing to me so early in the morning, and I only had a bite. I ended up not really eating anything, which would later come back to haunt me. A girlfriend of mine, E, was also running the race, so she came by at 5:00 to pick me up and carpool down to Coronado Island.

me, pre-race

Logistically, parking was a breeze! I was really worried, as I thought parking would be a nightmare. But we easily found a parking spot at Silver Strand State Beach (this is the same place where I did the Super Seal Sprint Triathlon in March) and hopped onto a waiting shuttle, which took us to the start line. Once there, we hit the port-o-potties, which only had 2 people in line for each, then hung around for a while (we got there at 6:30, and the race didn't start until 7:30). I decided to get back in line for the potties, and was shocked to see that suddenly the lines for each had grown to at least 20 people! We waited in line for 30 minutes and used the facilities. I decided to gear-check my jacket and gloves, which I normally just toss, as it was already getting warm. At 7:15 the skaters started (yes, this course was also open to skaters!) and at 7:30 promptly we were off and running.

The first mile of the race was nice, as we were leaving Coronado and ran past the famous Hotel del Coronado....the place where J proposed to me some 12 years ago! But all too quickly, we were on the Silver Strand, a stretch of highway that connects Coronado Island with Imperial Beach. Despite living in San Diego since 1987, I have only been on the Silver Strand once; whenever I go to Coronado, I take the Coronado Bridge, which is much faster. I was envisioning a beautiful run with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the San Diego Bay on the other. But I never saw the ocean...and while I did have a view of the Bay and San Diego, it was on the other side of the highway so we weren't right next to it. I suppose it was pretty enough, but I was pretty bored by it.

Around mile 2, I started to bonk. Mile 2? Who bonks at mile 2? The girl who didn't eat a good breakfast, that's who! I knew that not eating my sandwich in the morning would come back to haunt me. I stopped to walk and eat a Honey Stinger Waffle---I needed fuel! I took a GU at mile 4, a few miles earlier than I normally would have, and another GU at mile 11. It was getting hot, and I was going through my Gatorade on my fuel belt pretty fast. I felt bad for lots of the runners, many of which were overdressed in pants and long-sleeved shirts. I was hot in my capris and tank top! I even ended up pouring some water from aid stations on my head as the miles got on.

I started to have a lot of pain during this run, too. Not so much in my foot, where I normally have pain due to my plantar fasciitis; rather, this pain was in my thigh and my glutes. I had a lot of walk breaks, many more than I usually take, as I was just in so much pain. My chiropractor, who is doing ART on me (Active Release Technique), is having me re-learn my running, as apparently my form is wrong and that is causing my plantar fasciitis. As a result, I am using my glutes more than I ever have before, and suspect that this re-learning process contributed highly to my pain yesterday.

There were more things that I didn't like about this course. I had heard it was boring, as it is very straight and flat---and that was no lie! It was so straight that I could see the upcoming mile marker far ahead of time. No changing views, no veering off in a different direction. The worst part was at mile 8, when we were still going straight, there was a hill to the right of us in which we saw runners going in the opposite direction doing an out-and-back. So from mile 8-9 we had to run parallel to faster runners doing their out-and-back, then we made a turn into a residential neighborhood before entering the Silver Strand Training Complex. This area, according to Wikipedia, houses an antenna which "was used several years ago to provide directional finding, primary communication links for U.S. Navy submarines.". It is a very ugly, desolate area, and we had to do a mile or so out-and-back in it. I hated this area.

not very pretty

Another thing I didn't like about the course was the lack of crowd support. Most of the races I have done offer lots of spectators, maybe not for every mile but enough of it. It's fun to have crowds; their support gives me a lift and motivation, and it's fun to read people's signs, etc. There were virtually NO spectators on this course, mainly due to logistics---there could be no people stopping on the Silver Strand Highway, and of course people can't go onto the base. Even in the residential neighborhood we ran through, hardly anyone was out! I've run through many neighborhoods during races that have their residents out cheering. It was disappointing. I also thought that there weren't enough aid stations---too many miles went by without water tables. It was ok for me, as I carried my own, but I DID want water to pour on my head, and I know other people who weren't carrying fluid must have been dying of thirst in that sun! (Which is why you always, ALWAYS carry your own liquid!)

Finally, I hit mile 13. Normally at mile 13 the finish line is nowhere in sight, but this course was so straight that I saw it even before I hit the 13 mile marker! I pushed through at the end, and finished in 2:40. Very far from my ultimate goal of breaking 2:30, but since I wasn't trying to push myself in this race, and wanted to use it as a training run for my "A" race in 3 weeks (Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas) I am pleased.

My friend, E, had finished 5 minutes ahead of me and met me at the finish line. We got our medals, found our bag in gear-check, and easily got on a shuttle to take us back to the car. I was miserable on the way home---I had found the race to be very challenging, both physically (pain!) and mentally (boring!). But it's done, and since I have always wanted to do this race, I know never to do it again.

November 10, 2011

Oddly Apathetic

So apparently I have a half marathon this Sunday.

Yes, I am registered for the Silver Strand Half Marathon, a local race that I've never done. And I'm feeling oddly neutral about it. Usually before a half marathon I am feeling all sorts of emotions---excitement, nervousness, anticipation--but for this one, I just kind of feel....meh.

I wasn't even supposed to be running this race. Months and months ago I had expressed interest, but my husband, J, told me HE wanted to run it. At that time, he had just purchased a (used) treadmill from Craigslist and was using it a few times a week in the garage. I told him he could run it, and instead signed up for the Long Beach Half Marathon as my fall race. Well, flash forward a few months and J hadn't trained at all; in fact, he was using the treadmill so infrequently that he sold it last month. He asked me if I would run it in his place, and so we sent in the form (and $15 fee) to transfer the bib from his name to mine.

So, here I am, 3 days away from the race. And I don't really care about it. Why?

  • I've recently read a few race recaps from previous years that talk about how boring the course it. Although it's supposed to be beautiful---it's on the Silver Strand, which is a highway that connects Coronado Island to the mainland--it's mostly super straight. One blogger wrote to be prepared to see the next mile marker waaaaay before you get there.
  • It's supposed to rain! I have run in the rain before, which can be fun (and in fact once did a 10 mile training run in the rain) but I have never done a half marathon in the rain. I have done a few 5ks in the rain, and know from experience that it's not the running part that made me miserable, it was the hour or so waiting around beforehand that sucks. Just standing around, getting wet and feeling freezing, is not fun.
  • My foot and leg has been bothering me. Although my plantar fasciitis is MUCH better, mainly due to a new therapy I have been doing, I have been re-learning my running form, which is causing new pains during my re-adjustment.
  • I have been feeling a bit burnt-out lately, probably due to doing so many back-to-back races.
I am planning on using this race as a training run for my next "A" race, which is in a few weeks: Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas. I am not planning on pushing myself this weekend; I only want to finish happy, uninjured, and with a smile on my face. It is odd, though, to be feeling so emotionless about a race. I hope my sense of excitement, or at least anticipation, grows this weekend before the race, as I really want to have fun! I am proud of myself though, as this has been a fitness goal of mine---to be fit enough to be able to run a half marathon at a moment's notice. It may not be my fastest time, but I will finish---and that in itself will be an accomplishment, since I'm not even training specifically for it!

November 3, 2011

Cookie Monday

I recently started to read the book "The Happiness Project", by Gretchen Rubin. I first heard about this from my sister, but other friends have also been reading it too. The idea of taking active steps to make myself happier is very appealing. Not that I'm depressed, or even unhappy...far from it. But I definitely feel that I can be happier. I borrowed the book from the library, but am enjoying it so much that I bought my own copy (I also bought one for my very best friend; he and I plan on working on our own happiness projects together). Gretchen also has a website that is worth checking out.

Anyhow, I'm only halfway done with the book, but so far the chapter on parenting is really hitting home. Gretchen writes about "fog happiness". On page 91, here's what she writes: "In many ways, the happiness of having children falls into the kind of happiness that could be called fog happiness. Fog is elusive. Fog surrounds you and transforms the atmosphere, but when you try to examine it, it vanishes. Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don't really seem to bring much happiness at all---yet somehow they do."

I understand fog happiness. In some ways, my half marathon and triathlon training is like this. Training makes me incredibly happy. However, when I'm actually doing the training, I'm rarely happy. Running is hard, swimming can be boring, and biking is a huge effort for me. At any given moment I am not happy...yet the whole thing makes me happy. Fog happiness. Likewise with my kids. I love my kids so much; they are my life, and I think I am a very good mother. However, on a day-to-day basis, I don't experience a lot of happiness with my kids. I experience a lot of emotions---contentment, pride, anger, frustration, worry, love--but happiness only comes in short bursts here and there.

In the book, Gretchen talks about taking time for projects and traditions. Reading this, I had a brainstorm: why not have a weekly tradition with my kids, doing something that makes all three of us happy? Hence, Cookie Monday was born. I decided that every weekend, my kids would choose a cookie recipe (we have a cookie cookbook, and once that is done there are tons of other books and websites to get new recipes). I would buy the ingredients, and on Mondays after school we would bake them together. I chose Mondays because, let's face it, Mondays are usually boring. And I chose baking cookies because it is relatively easy and it's fun. Plus, even though I love to cook, I am not much of a baker, and I figured this would help me hone my skills.

This past Monday was our first Cookie Monday---and it was a huge success! We made chunky chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips and walnuts. My son, D, read us the recipe and my daughter, A, mixed everything together. It was fun---and I have to say I was happy doing it! We enjoyed eating our freshly-baked cookies, warm from the oven, and now have cookies to eat all week long. We even ordered a new cookie jar for the project, as the only jar we had was a haunted house cookie jar for Halloween, which is inappropriate to display in any month but October.

I'm glad I thought of this project---it's fun, easy, inexpensive, and something that both of my children can do, regardless of their age and academic/physical levels. It's also good for D, who is learning about fractions and measurements, and for A, who needs to practice pouring and stirring for her fine motor skills. The only thing it's NOT good for is my waistline---thank goodness I run! :)