Archive for the ‘On The Road’ Category

Half-marathon? Check.

I did it. I ran 13.1 miles of up and down the San Francisco hills alongside 22,000 other [crazy] women and 2,000 men.

Where do I start… seriously, my brain is not functioning at the moment so expect this blog to make as much sense as running 13.1 miles up and down hills for fun does.

I slept about 4 solid hours Saturday night before the nightmares about missing the race kicked in waking up every ten minutes to check the time. Combined with the 5 hours of sleep I got last night after the 13.1-mile jaunt around town and some afternoon sight-seeing, I’m in the “bite me zone.”

What is the “bite me zone” you ask? I just learned about the “bite me zone” at the TNT inspiration dinner (which was RIDICULOUSLY tear-jerking and inspiring) from our speaker, John Bingham, runner and author. As he says, it’s the point of the race when “you are running out there with your bestest girlfriend… you are closer to this person than anyone in your life… you are closer to this person than your own family… you love this person more than you do your own children… and around mile 21 you turn to her and say, ‘SHUT UUUUUP!!!!!!’”

It’s true ladies and gents. I approached it… and I wasn’t even playing near “mile 21.” Ha! I was on the verge of my “bite me zone” at two points – mile 10ish right before I saw my family cheering me on, and right NOW!

Bare with me please.

The race.

Throughout this training I have on numerous occasion referred to this event as the ‘second hardest physical challenge I have embarked on to date.’

I was wrong. It is THE hardest. Backpacking 192-miles across Northern England is a piece of cake compared to this. Psssssh. Coast to Coast, you got NOTHING!

But I am proud – VERY proud, actually – to say that I not only ran the bloody thing, but I ran it smart. According to Nike – and who knows better than the sports goddess herself (yes, Nike is a female, duh!) – my average pace across the 5k, 10k and 15k splits were within a 15-second range. If that’s not some smart pacing, I don’t know what is.

I averaged a 12-minute mile according to my final time. And although slower than I was hoping for (and am capable of on flat ground), I tracked my first 3 miles at around 11:30ish so I started slow and was consistent.

This is a big deal!! Consistency is not my strong suit in life. This is a MAJOR breakthrough. MAJOR!

Holy crap! Wait, am I actually starting slow and pacing myself? Since when do I do this? *random thought that floated into my consciousness during the first couple miles.

Not only did I rock this whole concept of pacing, but I rocked the hills. Well, two of the three at least.

I was very lucky going into this run. I not only had all the TNT coaches’ advice and insight into the course, but we stayed with my mom’s friend from college and her family (Monique and Phil) and Phil is a hardass runner[slash]biker[slash]triathlete. He’s just an overall endurance bad-ass. He also knows every running route in San Francisco. EVERY one. Like I said, I was very lucky. (Also because M&P are lifetime winners of the “best host[ess]” award, but that’s a story for another blog.)

Phil took one look at the race course map and began describing the terrain. He had the course figured out, so I knew when to expect the big hill and what to expect. Actually he thought there was a chance we were running up stairs for the first hill, so mentally, I was prepared for stairs.

Mike 5.5ish is where life began to suck for a bit.

Luckily, there were no stairs. As we ran up the road at the big hill I was faced with the butts of a lot of walkers. Come on people, it’s San Francisco; you knew it’d be hilly! RUUUUN!! 

I was determined to run this damn thing. I thought of a story my mentor had told us about a previous race:

“Last year when I was running up the big hill I overheard someone I passed say ‘New York City? There are no hills in New York City!’”

ha! Somewhat true. NYC may not have a lot of hills. But no city better breeds determination and competiveness than the big apple. I was running that god damn effin’ hill even it killed me and anyone in my way.

We all lived; don’t worry!

Heading up a hill #2, the smallest of them all. It doesn't look steep but trust me, it wasn't flat!

Can’t say I had this attitude throughout all the hills. The second one I managed just as well – Jelly Beans made it fun – but the heading up the third hill I had to stop a couple times to quell the jack-hammering in my legs. No time lost, I basically butt-slid downhill to make up time. 🙂

I ran the whole thing solo. I can’t decide if I run more effectively solo or with people. Hmmmm. But it made me appreciate the entertainment along the way more: There was bands, drummers, a DJ, the Oakland choir, etc, etc. Oh and at one point they posted signs with all the “reasons to run.” I wish I had photographed them all. Here’s what I can remember and my response.

Hmmm. I want to see how many of these apply to me!

  1. Leukemia   YES! Obviously, DUH!
  2. Me   Yes! I am totally a little bit selfish and doing this for me.
  3. My friends and family   LOVE YOU SEAN, SUE AND EVERYONE ELSE!
  4. Massaged afterwards   Nordstroms here I come – thank you to my ladies!
  5. Skinny Jeans Ahead   Bought my first pair a couple weeks ago. Hehe.
  6. [something about eating a lot]   hahahahahahahaha! Let’s not even go there.
  7. Celebratory cocktails   They mean “celebratory champagne chugging” right?
  8. Bucket List   I prefer to call it a live-life list…. But sure, its there.

It went on and on. There wasn’t a reason I couldn’t relate to. Apparently I was in the right place!

It was the entertainment, the “reason” signs, the “GO ELIZABETH” cheers from random coaches and supporters, the 21,999 women around me and my obnoxious stubbornness that kept me going most of the time. It was also my family. At mile 5 (which I knew because I was texting with my mom during the run to make sure I didn’t miss them) I looked ahead and saw a bright pink and a bright teal “I ❤ NY” t-shirt, complete with “Team Elizabeth Cheer Squad” pins standing on the road divider scanning the crowd. I had imagined myself sleekly running by like a jaguar hungry for dinner, but let’s face it, I don’t run sexy, so instead I ran over to them and wiped my sweatiness all over their clean NY Cheer Squad uniforms in the form of a hug. My brother took the opportunity to snap away.

Hands up! Baby Hands up!

For a second there I think I can run without watching the ground in front of me. I can't.

I saw them again at mile 10 – like I said, on the verge of the “bite me zone.” But I managed to express excitement and do a little dance for the camera before Monique jumped in for a brief coaching session. (With Phil’s addiction to endurance sports, she is a Master Marathon Groupie.)

You can put running shoes on the dancer, but she's still gonna throw her hands in the air.

"How are you feeling?" I'm effin tired to be honest.

I was being chased... by 10,000+ runners.

From this point on I basically wanted to die. It’s the only way I would stop and I couldn’t see how it was possible for me to finish this thing.

At mile 11 the clock read 2:36:XX.  That’s 24ish minutes for me to finish 2.1 miles. That’s less than 12-minute mile – with a double stitch and sporadic star-sightings. (Repeat Harry Potter thought-sequence from JackRabbit Race.)

An under 3-hour half-marathon didn’t seem to be on the horizon.

I tried though. I picked up the pace, ran till the stars came, sometimes saw black spots, slowed it down a bit, then picked it up again. Ugh.

I won’t lie kids. I will tell you all the truth. There was a lot of walking being done by these feet during those last two miles. I passed the “Full Marathon” and “Half Marathon” split off and laughed at “June 2011 Liz” for ever entertaining the thought of running a full marathon first time out.

What the hell were you thinking Liz? You seriously worry me sometimes. Why are you not under 24-hour supervision? I am taking all decision-making privileges away from you until further notice.

You are seriously a lunatic.

It wasn’t until I saw the finish line that I found my inner white robot. Have I discussed the I, Robot visualization or am I losing you? Is anyone actually still reading this?

About effin time!

I rounded the curve out of Golden Gate park onto the highway along the beach. There was about a 1/4-mile to go and I could see the clock.


OH SHIT LIZ! You are soooo gonna beat three hours.

RUN!!! RUN!!!


I finished at 2:59. Minus the 22:23 that it took me to get to the starting line and my final time is…


I can not WAIT to see the photos taken during that stretch. I could hear myself grunting and panting and feel my lips gripping my teeth. I was seething. I don’t even know if I could tell you what that is. But I felt seething going on.

I was in an all out, run from the cops, run for your life, run like a jaguar trying to feed her cubs, kinda sprint. I was not finishing this race with an ounce of energy left.

So I ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and stopped… right BEFORE the finish line.

And I stepped over it as the world flashed black and white and my heart began begging for mercy.

I had no choice. There was such a bottleneck of people who had crossed and were waiting in the “collect your Tiffany’s Necklace from a hot SF fireman in a tux” line that I couldn’t have run over the finish line or I’d have knocked them all down.

Oh, did I tell you I got a Tiffany’s necklace? It’s their version of a “medal.” And a hot fireman did give it to me.

See? Tiffany’s “NWM” Necklace. (More proof that Nike is female.)

See? Hot Fireman.

Put those two together and you get one Happy Liz!


As soon as I passed through the “collect your Tiffany’s Necklace from a hot SF fireman in a tux” line…

and the “collect your race shirt in any size even though they made you pick one ahead of time” line…

and the “here’s a bag of coupons and crap because obviously shopping is the first thing on your mind now” line…

and the “here’s a water bottle; you look like you are networking at the pearly gates” line…

and the “here’s a plastic blanket that you are going to wear more for show than warmth” line…

I stopped seeing stars… found my family… and smiled for the camera as if I had just, well, finished my first half-marathon and was handed a Tiffany’s necklace by a hot fireman.

Family cheer squad

Family cheer squad (including Monique; she is now family) was pretty proud!

Loving this plastic blanket thingy...

...it makes me feel so important!

Thanks family! I can’t express more than that right now. Brain… fart!

Now, there is one element of this event that I have left out entirely: Team in Training. The race was fun; it was exciting; this was an experience I will never forget. But I didn’t just do it for “fun.”

I raised more than $3,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society so far


The training, the prep and the race was was also a tearful, heart-warming, sad, confusing, joyful and a whole mix of other emotions I don’t know the words for experience.

I can’t even begin to thank you all right now, so I am not going to. Anything and everything I have to say to you, my friends, family, colleagues and other relationship categories, requires thought and eloquence – two mental processes I have no control over at this late, sleepless hour of life.

So stay tuned.

Till then, know that I love you all, you inspire me and…


PS. In honor of new experiences, I am posting this without any editing. Lord help tomorrow-Liz’s re-read.


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If all goes well, and as planned, in 24 hours I will be a half-marathoner. I will be at the San Francisco beach celebrating with my family and team.

Even though I’ve been in San Francisco since Wednesday night, it’s only now starting to hit me that tomorrow, I am running 13.1 miles.

Holy shit!

I’m feeling a mix of motivation and dread. We are staying in SF with my mom’s college friend and her husband is a 5-time marathoner and many more half-marathoner, triathlete and a bunch of other length’ers. He keeps saying I’ll be just fine. So I know I will be.

I think my nervousness comes from the sheer size of this race. There are 20,000+ peeps running the Nike Women’s Marathon and Half, including all 56 (is that right?) chapters of the LLS Team in Training program. I have seen a lot of them about the city over the last couple of days — ladies with Team in Training t-shirts, ladies with running/race t-shirts, ladies and men running around the city and ladies sight-seeing with killer leg muscles that they MUST be running this marathon. (Seriously, I have never seen so many amazingly toned quads and calves in one place before. I’m in awe.)

In the meantime, we have been doing some awesome sight-seeing. I am in love with San Francisco. Like, I want to pack my bags up and move here tomorrow, in love. Not sure why, maybe just because I’ve always had it in my head that I wanted to live here without any rhyme or reason, but I love it. Everywhere you look, there are amazing views, hills, water, bridges. It’s got a bustling NY-style financial district (downtown) area, fun-looking houses/apts and fabulous food. The only thing missing is snow and snowboarding — but Lake Tahoe is only three hours away. That’ll do I guess.

Here are a some (a very few) highlights of the touristy part of the trip so far:

The big gold bridge

Andrew and mom on Alcatraz island in front of the big gold bridge.

The coast at Muir Beach

Redwoods at Muir Woods

Fisherman's Wharf

Us atop the hill of Coit Tower

Andrew on Twin Peaks with the Bay and the city in the background

Mom and Monique (our amazing hostess) atop Twin Peaks in front of the bridge

And that’s that kids, I’m off to hit up the markets and do more sight-seeing…

Then its off to the hotel to get ready for the big race. AHHHHHHH!!

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So I am on the way to my race. Well, I am on my way to San Francisco, not heading to the starting line just yet. Buuuuut it’s approaching go time.

Over the last few days people keep asking me the million-dollar question.

“Are you ready?”

Good bloody question, people.

Have I trained? Yes! Lots.

Can I run 13.1 miles? I think so.

Did I raise money? Absolutely! (And I’m not done. You can still donate: How about I’ll trade you 13.1 miles for $13.10, deal?)

Am I nervous? Kinda undecided. I’m not. But sometimes I am.

The thing is, I know I can do it…

… iiiiiiiiiiiif I have a good run. Major factor.

90% of the time I feel confident that it will be impossible for me to not have a great run. I mean its my first bloody race. How can I not be bouncing off the walls hills?

The remaining 10% of the time I am absolutely terrified that I’ll get there, rocket from the finish line and have a really really bad run. And its not having a bad run that worries me — I’ve had bad runs before; I can manage them — it’s realizing its a bad run early on, knowing I have to continue it for another 10+ miles and hating it.

Because one thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to turn a bad run into a good run — or even a mediocre run for that matter. And I’m already contemplating where to run my next one so I can’t hate half-marathons just yet.

My bad runs usually stem from a combination of lack of/poor choice of fuel at any point in the previous 12 hours and annoying weather.

There isn’t much I can do other than prepare for the best run of my life:

  • I’m doing my best to eat a 60% healthy-carb diet and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • I’ve got a range of clothes to choose from to be ready for all types of weather.
  • I’m staying positive.
  • My fingers are crossed

What else can I do? Either way, this is going to be my longest run and second biggest physical accomplishment to date.

All along I’ve just taken my training in stride without much thought to the immensity of what I’m about to do.

Every long run was a small step closer to a goal that was becoming increasingly less intimidating and closer to my reach. At this point, it just feels like another Saturday morning run — not a big accomplishment of any sorts.

But at some point last night when I was packing I realized something:




For a few minutes, I saw this goal from the same perspective I had seen it months ago — like something a crazy person would do — and now I am doing it. WTF?

So here goes nothing Bs&Gs. Wish me luck! (and donate $13.10…!)

Oh, and just in case I’m not prepared and my run turns bad, I have a back-up plan. If I’m out there in horrendous pain, wanting to crawl off the side of the road into a ditch, I am going to channel both my competitive and stubborn traits at the same time. I have a friend I met recently who ran a half-marathon without any training whatsoever in response to a bet. If he could do it without collapsing, you can bet your sweet arse I’m sure as hell going to.

See, I knew my stubbornness would come in handy one day!

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To focus on a non-running topic, it’s trade show season! What does that mean? It means I am presented with opportunity after opportunity to live out of a suitcase and rack up frequent flyer miles to attend trade shows and press conferences.

Fact: I do not know how to say “no” to anything that involves an airplane. (Let’s face it, I rarely say “no” to anything. Take that as you wish.)

The social side of business trips is awesome — check out new city (and its restaurants). However, despite the fun stuff, I happen to really like attending trade shows. They are jam-packed full of enthusiasm and passion. It’s a wave of positivity… and these are a few of my favorite things. Everyone attending loves their product and wants to demonstrate it, shove it in your mouth or give you some to take home.

What’s not to love? Seriously?

Wearing a press badge gets you lots of attention! I came home from last week’s show in Baltimore with all-natural whitening keylime-flavored toothpaste, an awesome baby gift idea that I can’t share in case my cousin reads this, herbal female and male sexual enhancement pills (they were thrown at me; apparently I look like I need them), caffeinated gum that I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to, more gummy vitamins than I’ll eat in a year and heartburn from the [supposed] all-natural chicken sliders and the [supposed] gluten-free pizza samples I devoured for lunch. Oops.

On the social side, I did get to check out Baltimore on foot.

Ok, I am gonna talk about running. I can’t help it!

I was in a new city. What better way to see a new city than on foot? And with less than three weeks to go, I cant afford not to let travel interfere with my training momentum. So I left the show promptly and took off to explore, with my Brooks Adrenaline 11s as my tour guide. Though I probably should have signed up for the Brooks/Pepper Spray tour in hindsight. There are some SKETCHY areas of B-more.

I found the inner harbor and it was as pretty as I’d been told.


I was looking for sailors... and I all I found was a big boat!


I LOVE B&Ns... they offer a happy place wherever you go.


The less sketchy side of the city.

From my route along the very pretty boardwalk at the harbor I noticed a park across the way… with a hill.

You know how little kids (read: also me) can’t help but jump in puddles? That’s how I now feel about running hills. I see them and I need to run up them. Thanks TNT!

So I ran up it. Actually, to make it fun I ran up the stairs and then looped up and down the incline. Why not?


view from a hill...

It was pretty from atop. I learned later from the concierge that it is called Federal Park?

It was buggy! Walking back into the hotel I got a lot of stares. I thought “What? Haven’t seen anyone sweat before?” But upon looking in the mirror, I learned what they were truly grossed out by:


ok, the bugs stuck to me dont show up well here... but its pretty nasty

And that’s that! I fit a 4.5-mile sight-seeing running tour into my trip to Baltimore — or more accurately, a 4.5-mile sight-seeing running tour of the safe parts of the inner area of Baltimore.

Next stop on the “Liz runs on business trips” series… (drumroll please; this is gonna be fun!) … Barcelona!

I leave today. Stay tuned!

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Lately all my posts have been about running. Clearly that has taken up a significant amount of time in my life. And it continues too… yet this week I impulsively rearranged my running schedule — and skipped my TNT practices — in order to embark on some other fun times. (Don’t worry TNT, I still ran… even when the only time I had was at 10pm.)

Tuesday a good friend of mine messaged me to tell she had opera tickets and was too sick to attend. Poor thing… seriously, sinus infections SUCK! I was flattered she thought of me. So a girlfriend of mine at work and I set off at the 5pm bell to chow down and devirginize my opera experience.

We ate at Black Duck Restaurant on 28th between Park and Lex. I had an awesome arugula salad with red onions, roasted Pistachio, shaved Pecorino, dried figs covered in a light Champagne-dijon vinaigrette. Delish. My girlfriend had the New Zealand lamb lollipops with lemon scented polenta cake (which she wasn’t a fan of so let me eat. Yum!). We also split an appetizer of duck confit tacos with guacamole and seared sea scallops with mango salsa. I’ve had much better mango salsa and the scallops were slighty overcooked — just very very slighty — but the presentation was ace.

The scallops were the only dish I remembered to take a photo of.

On to the opera — FANTASTIC! I’ll be completely honest guys, I wasn’t expecting to like it too much. I have trouble staying awake during the ballet, and I LOVE the ballet. I felt the opera was something I should experience once… so that was my plan. But I loved it so much, I’m excited to go again.

We saw A Magic Flute, a performance of the Lincoln Center Festival. You can read about the adapted version of “The Magic Flute” — only 10 minutes long, thank goodness — in the New York Times. I wasn’t expecting it to be funny — but it was funny. And funny in my book always gets a thumbs up.

I wish I had a photo of the opera, but they kinda frown upon that. However, they didn’t give me a hard time for showing up in my running sneakers and shorts — I had dressed to go to training when I found out about this. Thank you to the Gerald W. Lynch theater for not having a dress code.

And even a bigger thank you to my gal for offering me the tickets. Looking forward to the next one!

More to come on this week’s fun!

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There is something about vacation that always makes me want to exercise. The new surroundings? Being out of my routine? Or maybe just having time?!

With 13 (or 26) miles on my calendar, exercising on vacation is no longer a fun option — it’s mandatory!

I made the most of it on my most recent 1/2 fun, 1/2 work trip out to the LA area. I got up and ran two out of the three mornings I stayed with my fantastic friend The Other Liz in Huntington Beach — also the LA voice on BiteforBite. (Stay tuned for our food adventure around Hollywood.)

I felt bad spending time running by myself when I only had two days with her… but she’s like a mile from the beach. So I went, and just kept them short. How could I have missed this run? LI does not have palm trees.

After the palm tree run I treated myself to some loungin’ with Liz.

Lucky for me, the show I attended for work didn’t start at the crack of dawn so I had time for some longer runs. In search of some pretty — and safe — scenery around Anaheim, I ran through Mickeyland. All the walkways are palm tree lined and Downtown Disney is so quiet at 8am.

I’ve also stepped up my training: I’m trying to increase my pace so in addition to stretching my stride a bit, I’m incorporating quick sprints into my jog. Every mile I run, I full out sprint for 30-45 secs. Hopefully I’ll be able to increase my sprint times, gradually!

I’m not sure how much the show attendees walking to the conference center appreciated me sprinting past spraying sweat… but I don’t think any of them recognized me in the exhibit hall as the sweaty girl.

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A few weeks ago work sent me to New Orleans. I never had much interest in visiting the city but a lot of talk of delicious food and a buzzing party scene got me revved up.

And as someone familiar with me and the city might have predicted, it took about five seconds of landing on Bourbon Street for me to begin bouncing around declaring my adoration for the place. It was only 7pm when we passed over it to hit up G.W. Fins (link) for dinner but the street with lined with neon lights, various genres of music blaring out from each of the building fronts all clashing with one another and people chugging down drinks in the street. If that wasn’t enough to sell me, we walked right past the Bourbon Cowboy bar that had Zac Brown Band flooding from the doorway along with a cute lil’ cowgirl bouncing around the sidewalk. This was the first place I hit after dinner… as if you needed to ask.

Oooo, and the bar at the hotel was a carousel – the bar and stools rotated (slowly). Very cool for a while, but when its your last stop of the night, it can actually be a bit nauseating.

Our dinner at GW Fins was impressive as well. The menu changes daily depending on what they have fresh in stock. I started with Tuna Tartare, followed by a seafood Gumbo and a goat cheese and spinach salad.

(The photos don’t do the flavors justice!)

The second day we had some time to wander so we perused the countless shops and galleries in the French Quarter. I am a sucker for European-influenced culture and architecture, so I was in my heaven.

Some decrepit building that I fell in love with.

Jackson Square

Saint Louis Cathedral (and my finger… I obviously didn’t bring my fancy camera!)

Outside the Riverwalk Marketplace

We also ate some more, obviously. Check out my breakfast at Wolfe’s at the Marriott.

Poached eggs on crab cakes with potato strings. Best breakfast I had in a long time!!

Dinner that second night also rocked — Red Fish Grill. The photos are crap, but I had a Hickory Grilled Mahi Mahi with a smoked shrimp butter sauce, crispy goat cheese stuffed tomatoes, green beans and a roasted pepper pumpkin seed relish. The crispy goat cheese stuffed tomatoes are the BEST. THING. EVER. And for dessert the waitress brought us a chocolate bread pudding which she doused in dark and white chocolate ganache. I’m don’t usually like chocolate, but I love bread pudding so my intended one-bite turned into devouring 75% of the dish… (fat arse!)

My verdict: from where I wandered, what I tasted and who I danced around, I think NOLA and I could become very good friends. It has a slightly devilish personality with unpredictable tendencies. It thrives on being delicious and causing trouble.

A bit rough around the edges with just enough sin to keep things interesting… just how I like my fun.

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