Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I'm Back!

Tap, tap, tap.  Is anyone out there?  Probably not and I don't blame you.  It has been almost a year since I last wrote.

Blogging consistently has never been my forte and that's okay.  This was a hobby where I talked about my hobbies.  It was meant to be fun, connect with others with the same hobbies and I wrote when I had something to say.

July 2014 we welcomed our daughter into our lives.  I read a lot of blog posts on pregnancy and motherhood while I was pregnant.  I enjoyed reading others experiences about this journey I was embarking on and took comfort knowing a lot of my experience was normal but for me it never felt natural to write about publicly so I didn't. 

As my daughter turns 7 months today (how did that happen so fast!!) and I am slowly settling in to my new normal I have found myself wanting to write again - about training, about motherhood, about travel, about hobbies, about life.  I feel like "Kristen Keeping Up" seems more appropriate now more than ever as I learn to balance my new role.

If you have stuck around, thank you and if you are new welcome.  I look forward to reconnecting with this little space. 
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Birthday Celebration - Hiking Pt. Reyes

After years of running, my birthday FINALLY fell on a Sunday and I was so excited to celebrate by running a race.  However, being almost 20 weeks pregnant that idea went out the window.  My sweet husband still wanted to ensure I got to spend some time on the trails and proposed a hike out at Pt. Reyes - a place I had been wanting to trail run anyway.  We decided to hike out to the coast - Arch Rock specifically - starting at the Pt. Reyes' Bear Valley Trailhead.  The hike looked to be about 8-9 miles out and back with minimal elevation gain.

After grabbing some hiking snacks at the store (and Starbucks), we made our way out to Pt. Reyes and arrived at the trailhead around 8:30 am.  The trailhead is conveniently located right next to the Bear Valley Visitor Center so we were able to use some real bathrooms before we started.

The hike is simple - follow Bear Valley Trail until you hit the coast, turn around and come back.  Bear Valley Trail is one of the most popular and busy trails but it wasn't too busy at all the day we went which was crazy since we usually don't get the kind of weather we were having that day in January.  From studying the map it looks like there are a few other trails you can take that would put you out at Arch Rock that might be less popular but I didn't want to risk getting lost - which I am notorious for when it comes to trails.

The trail was gorgeous!  The trail was completely shaded with large pine and fur trees and ran along side Bear Valley creek - which was really moving despite the lack of rain we have had in California.  About a mile and a half into the hike you pass a large meadow called "Divide Meadow" and some more bathrooms (crucial for a pregnant lady).   For a bay area trail it was flat with a few gentle hills and would be a beautiful, non technical trail to run.

With a little less than a mile to the ocean, the tree canopy starts to recede exposing the trail and Arch Rock came into sight.  You can walk out on the top of Arch Rock for spectacular views up and down the coast.  We dug into our snacks while we admired the beautiful California coast.

Views to the right.
Views to the left.

Now technically, the beach is not accessible from Arch Rock but I read before we went that if the tide is low (it was, I checked before we left) there is a little steep trail that takes you down.  K found it immediately and started the decent.  I was hesitant at first, only because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get up but it really wasn't bad once you started making your way down.  It just looked scary from the top.  After crossing a little creek we were under the arch!  Definitely worth it!  The beaches were deserted since they are only accessible to hikers so we had the whole place to ourseleves.

Is it really January?
Looking up at Arch Rock

After enjoying the beach for about a half hour it was back to the car retracing our steps the exact same way we came. 

I definitely would recommend this hike to anyone.  I can't wait til I can run again to go out and explore some of the other trails.  We had dinner plans near home so we didn't have time to stop but the town of Pt. Reyes looked like it had a bunch of cute restaurants to try.  That just means there has to be a next time!

Side note - I am pretty much a sucker for anything "cake batter" or "funfetti"flavored so when I saw these at the store in the morning I knew I had to have them for our post hike treat.  They didn't disappoint!

I am a huge proponent of celebrating birthdays and believe everyone should be able to take this one day a year and do exactly what you want - big or small.  In addition to this hike, I was treated to two birthday dinners, spoiled with gifts and cupcakes (funfetti of course) at work on Monday.  It was the perfect birthday but I am still looking forward to running that Sunday race in seven years when my birthday falls on a Sunday again. :)

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Goals

Half way through January seemed like a good time to firm up this years goals.  Obviously being pregnant they look a lot different than years past as there are no race/time/distance goals to be had but here is what I hope to accomplish in the first 6 months of 2014. 

1. Workout 5x a week.  Run, walk, spin, cycle, swim, yoga - whatever works - just move!

2. Ride Cinderella's Metric Century on April 6.  Cycling/spinning has actually been my favorite go to workout lately.  This event is all very dependent on how I feel and more importantly if I can still reach my handle bars but if all goes well I would like to ride in it.  It is a fairly mellow metric with a very manageable amount of climbing.

3. Go on one weekend getaway a month.  K and I decided instead of doing one big "baby moon" we would aim to do one smaller weekend get-a-away a month.  We dropped the ball on January but have weekends planned in Lake Tahoe, Big Basin, Half Moon Bay and Palm Springs planned so far.

Ambitious huh?  It is so weird to no be scouring race sites and re-arranging calendars.

What is in store for the second 6 months?  Well, honestly my goal is to keep a baby alive.  In all seriousness though I really have no idea what to expect after the baby comes.  In a perfect world I will get to ride my favorite ride, Levi's Gran Fondo on October 4 (the"Piccolo" route) and maybe a 5k or 10k but I am not making any plans just yet. 

So, there you have it.  2014 looks a lot different than years past but I am looking forward for the all the exciting changes to come. 
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 In Review

A new job has kept me busier than expected over the past two months hence my absence from the internet.  It was an unexpected career change but one I feel so lucky to have found.

Anyway, no time like the new year to start anew.  :)

Review of 2013 Goals

My main goal for 2013 was to not allow myself to get too caught up in "the next big thing" and allow myself to focus on the task at hand.  In the beginning this was very hard and I did find myself planning the next race before I even raced the one I was currently training for.  However, when I didn't get into Vineman 70.3 in July I decided to aim for Big Kauhna 70.3 in September.  I began training but also just having set a new marathon PR at Big Sur (a hilly course) I wanted to train for another marathon PR on a flat, fast course.  I realized that I couldn't focus on speed as much as I hoped if I was also focused on training for a 70.3 (which I also wanted to PR).  2013 was the first year in a long time my back was giving me minimal problems and I wanted to capitalize on that and really focus on running so I swallowed my pride and opted out of Big Kahuna and felt a sense of relief as soon as I did.  Thus, I would say by the second half of the year I achieved this goal and have successfully continued to move forward with this mentality. 

Review of 2013

2013 exceeded my expectations in so many ways - athletically, personally and professionally.  2014 has a lot to live up to.


 First time running in a tutu at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon

New 10k PR to celebrate my birthday


Longest trail run ever at the ITR Lake Chabot 30k


Becoming an ultramathoner at Way Too Cook 50k

After too many years off finally hitting the slopes

Lots of trail runs with friends


A new marathon PR at the Big Sur Marathon


Lots of trail running and exploring

After 3.5 long months getting my bike back with its custom paint job


Riding 72 miles around Lake Tahoe at America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride

Running the 2nd Half of the San Francisco Half Marathon and getting the "Half It All Medal" (running the 1st half and the 2nd half in consecutive years)

First and only triathlon of 2013 (and missing 3rd in my age group by 3 seconds)


5k PR on the 4th of July

Trails in Marin

Our dream vacation to Italy
Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome


 Hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite

More trails with friends (see a theme?)


The first of many "scenic cycling" adventures - riding across the new span of the Bay Bridge

Napa Valley Ragnar Relay with team "Winos in the Night"

 Celebrating Paulette's Birthday at the ITR Berkeley Trail Adventure

More "scenic cycling" across the Golden Gate Bridge


Cycling the coast at my favorite ride ever - Levi's Gran Fondo

Running above the clouds


 Berkeley Half Marathon

Annual Turkey Trot Race


 Running Leg 4 of the CIM Relay

Enjoying the last 49'er game ever (most likely) at Candlestick Park

And the biggest event in 2013 . . .

Due June 26, 2014

Happy New Year!  Here's to an exciting 2014.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scenic Cycling: Tour of the Sacramento River Delta

This past weekend the Valley Spokesman hosted their 30th annual "Tour of the Sacramento River Delta" which is an overnight bike tour that begins at Brannan Island State Park (in Rio Vista) and ends in Old Town Sacramento.  You ride approximately 60 miles up to Sacramento, spend the night, and then ride back the next day.  It is fully supported - they organize the route, rest stops, lunch, hotel, transport your overnight bag, provide sag and sweep and the BBQ at the finish the last day.  All you have to do is show up!   

This ride really exceeded my expectations.  I don't know exactly what I was expecting but everything from the course, to the food, to the support and the hotel was really top notch.  The ride was extremely flat - roughly only 400-500 feet of elevation gain each day which was much different from our usual hilly routes. 


Check in started at 8:30 am.  We dropped off our bags, grabbed some breakfast and I picked up the vest I had ordered which was really cute.  We were on our bikes and rolling just after 9:00 am.

Vest Design (imagine no sleeves)
The route followed the levee roads along the Sacramento River Delta and we went through the small towns of Isleton and Ryde before getting to the Howard Landing Cable ferry.

The distance from one side to the other is approximately .08 miles and the ferry ride lasted about 3 minutes but I can now add "rode a ferry" to the list of things I have done during a ride. 

The ride continued along Steamboat Slough and into Clarksburg all providing nice views of the river.  There were so many people out fishing!  I think this ride could also be called "tour of the Delta Bridges" as we crossed a lot of bridges. 

Around mile 40 we made our way into Clarksburg were lunch was provided at the middle school.  They had a nice spread of sandwiches, pasta salad, chips and cookies.

After lunch it was approximately 20 miles more to the finish.  The road was pretty rough coming out of Clarksburg but smoothed out for the last 10 miles.

Raley Field in West Sacramento
Before long we were weaving through tourists in Old Sacramento and arrived at our hotel where cold drinks and ice cream were waiting for us.

I haven't had the best of luck with the weather on rides this year (too many hot days!) but we sure lucked out today.  I don't think it got over 75 and there was a cool breeze that almost made you want to stay in the sun.  It definitely helped make the ride much more enjoyable as there was not much shade along the route.

Day 1: 63 miles/4:22:03 (14.4 pace)

My aunt and uncle live just outside of Sacramento and came down to take us out to a really good dinner downtown.  After, I convinced them to head over to my all time favorite frozen yogurt place that we used to go to all the time when I lived in Sacramento a few years ago for dessert.  With full stomachs I believe we were all passed out by 10:00 pm.


At 6:30 am the hotel provided us with breakfast so we were on the road almost an hour and a half earlier than Saturday to make our way back to Brennan Island.  It was such a cool morning I found myself wearing both a vest and arm warmers and ended up wearing the vest the entire ride and the arm warmers until mile 40.  No complaining from me though - it was the absolute perfect fall weather.

Sunday's route was actually different that Saturday's which was a nice surprise as I expected the route to be an out and back (obviously I didn't look at the map before hand - oops).

The route still followed the Delta and we rode on many of the paths in South Sacramento I ran on when I trained for my first CIM in 2009.

After getting through Sacramento we ventured into the quaint little towns of Hood, Courtland, Locke and Walnut Grove. 

It had been pretty windy all day but we had managed to stay directly out of it until approximately mile 50 where it greeted us head on.  Despite the flat road we got in some great resistance training for the last 8 miles. 

A clear shot of Mt. Diablo
Gritting my teeth to get through the wind!
I wish this picture could capture the wind speed!
After a slight wrong turn we made it to the end where we got to relax with a BBQ lunch.

Day 2: 58.55 miles/3:59:03 (14.7 pace)

My only complaint with the whole ride was that by the end of Saturday my butt was really starting to hurt.  There was nothing new about my shorts or seat - same shorts and seat that got me through ALC - it just came out of nowhere which made Sunday slightly uncomfortable.  This is one problem I have never had on my bike before either so it is puzzling.  My only thought was since the course was so flat I pretty much sat in the same place the whole time without much movement and thus no relief.  
Despite this though I have no complaints.  The volunteers were great and provided thorough support, the food was good, we lucked out with perfect fall weather, the course was much more scenic than expected and it was just a fun ride with no pressure of an event looming in the future.

I had no idea much of that area existed and it really makes for great riding.  The majority of the roads were well maintained (I would say there was rough road for only 5-8 miles each day), there were so many little towns that would make great rest stops and it was fun to ride along the water. 

This was actually my last organized cycling event for 2013.  Cycling tends to wind down as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.  I hope to maybe get in a few more 20/25 milers before the end of the year but with CIM coming up in only 7 weeks I really need my weekends to be devoted to my long runs. 

I definitely plan to keep this event on the radar for next year though.  I have really enjoyed these last few weekends of "scenic" rides.
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