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Collaborating with Alysia Montaño, #BOBTeamSF, and the 2017 San Francisco Marathon

Collaborating with Alysia Montaño, #BOBTeamSF, and the 2017 San Francisco Marathon

It’s July, which means I can say that it’s officially RACE MONTH for the San Francisco Marathon! Yea!! How great is this: this year’s iteration of the race has completely sold out. Everything — the ultramarathon, the marathon, both half marathons, and the 5k — is completely full. I’ve been a social media ambassador with the race for the last three years, and I think this might be the only time that the race has completely sold out significantly in advance of race weekend. With the 40th anniversary this year and all, I think it’ll make what’s already a pretty fun weekend even more electric (boogie woogie woogie).

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27k runners this year across all the races, so that’s cool (PC: TSFM fb)

By now, if you’ve glimpsed in my little space here anytime over the past six months, you know that I’m in for the marathon at SF. It’ll be my third time running SF’s 26.2, and I’m stoked. I’ll talk more about my training in a later post, but today I wanted to talk about an opportunity that landed in my lap that’ll be coinciding with TSFM weekend.

My attempt at brevity: I’m officially-unofficially partnering with the BOB stroller brand and Berkeley-based, Olympian, American record holder, and national champion — who’s also a mother to a toddler, and who’s also about 5 months pregnant — Alysia Montaño to help promote TSFM’s 5k race, particularly the “stroller roller” division. I “raced” the 5k back in 2015 at 36 weeks pregnant (and gave birth 13 days later) and can say that it’s a blast, even if you’re hugely pregnant! Assuming the course is the same as it was in ‘15, the 5k is primarily along the very flat Embarcadero, and if you’re gunning for a fast race, the course is definitely conducive. BOB reached out to a group of stroller-pushing runners, primarily based in the Bay Area or Sacramento, to participate in virtual stroller 5k training coached by Alysia, and come race day, the #BOBTeamSF runners will toe the 5k line, BOB stroller and their kiddo(s) ahead of them, and race alongside Alysia. In the five weeks leading up to 7/23, Alysia is posting workouts each day on IG for the “stroller rollers” to help get everyone to the starting line healthy, strong, and ready to race. Everyone is welcome to follow along and participate in the training, too. Not many people can say that they’re being coached (*for free*) by an Olympian and national champion, so that’s pretty cool.  

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from TSFM’s shakeout run the day before race day in ’15. Hugely pregnant. 

This is also a big anniversary year for the BOB stroller brand — 20! — and they’ve just released a new BOB Revolution Flex Lunar model that they’ve graciously given to the other BOBTeamSF runners and me. How cool is that?! I haven’t seen it in person yet — mine arrived to my home hours after I flew cross-country — but the press release pictures show that it’s built with a similar structure to the Flex (with the adjustable handlebars and swivel/locked front wheel option) but has a large reflective area on the stroller canopy and undercarriage, a first for the brand. Turn out the lights, and it glows. (Bonus points if you get that song reference). Adding mega reflective elements to a running stroller was a smart move because if you run pushing your children in the dawn or dusk hours, obviously safety for you and your child is important, and the reflective materials that are literally embedded into the most visible parts of the stroller take the guesswork out of it. Basically, it looks hard *not* to be seen. I’m excited to give the Lunar a go when I’m back home. I’ve often joked that BOB should get me on their payroll because I often help troubleshoot my friends’ running stroller inquiries and have advised many about which models to purchase, so I’m considering this very cool partnership an opportunity to up my knowledge of the brand and its models. Plus, hey, another running stroller (that’s pretty cool looking) ain’t a bad deal.

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PC: BOB site

I typically don’t partner with brands on this wee little blog of mine, but working with BOB was a no-brainer simply because if you know anything about me, it’s that I run — a LOT — while pushing my kid (or kids) in a BOB running stroller. I’ve had my Revolution SE for five years and my Sport Utility Duallie for about two years now, and they’ve both held up really well under the running duress that I’ve thrown at them over the years. Aside from new tire tubes (and one new tire that I completely decimated), structurally, I’ve replaced nothing on the strollers, adding to my conviction that the strollers are really well-built. When I recommend running strollers to my friends, I always speak highly of the BOB brand. It’s a big investment, for sure — retail for the BOB strollers I have is a few hundred dollars plus (each) — but I think it’s something that pays for itself over time, especially if you’re going to be running with it a lot. Plus, realistically, the ROI is pretty great because if/when you sell it later down the line, BOB strollers typically have high resale value, in no small part because of the great name recognition value. I’ve often thrown around the idea of writing some posts about stroller running and basic running stroller troubleshooting; maybe I’ll actually do it now.

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throwback to an 18 month-old A (and our beloved Uptown place)! I purchased my single BOB in April ’12 and have used it a ton ever since, including during Chicago winters.
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flash forward to two kids and a Sport Utility Duallie BOB, here in April ’16 (and literally right after A asked me, ‘Mommy, why are you so slow?’). God I love her.
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mid-stride around mile 2 at this year’s she.is.beautiful 10k. I’ve raced (and won the stroller division, woot) of SIB 3x now (’15, 5k, pregnant, pushing A; ’16, 10k, pushing G; ’17, 10k, pushing G) with the Revolution SE single (PC: Dave/@fitfam6)

Now that I sound like an advertisement for BOB … 🙂  Anyway, while I won’t be toeing the line with my lovely BOBTeamSF teammates at the 5k, since I will be somewhere in the throes of my marathon by then, I will be sending them lots of love and support from the other side of the city 🙂 I’ve enjoyed following their training and supporting them on IG and Strava, and I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates whom I don’t already know (and to seeing my buddies I haven’t seen in a while) at the race expo (and to meeting Alysia, hopefully). All this running and racing stuff is so social, and I love it.  

Stroller running and racing with a stroller is really hard work, but I think it’s also a great way to bond with your children (and a really sneaky way to get in strength work). I’ve had the pleasure of running countless of miles and a handful of races with my kids in my BOB strollers in the last six years, and I look forward to continuing to do this for as long as I can … or as long as my kids let me, anyway. Once I get a feel for the new Lunar stroller, I’ll write an honest review of it (natch) here and/or on BOB’s website, too. More to come. It should be fun. 

RACE MONTH!!

 

March training recap

March training recap

I lived the first 30 years of my life in the midwest (Akron area and Chicago, for those of you playing along at home), places with clearly defined seasons, and I distinctly remember growing up with the saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb (or vice versa). The premise here of course is that March may begin with terrible weather, but by the end, it’ll be all lovely and stereotypical spring-like (or again, vice versa). Naturally, what follows is April showers bring May flowers. I’m not entirely sure if either weather assumption necessarily applies to the Bay Area, but it seems like the March metaphor at least works (perhaps a bit tenuously) for my running this month, since it started off harsh but ended quite kindly. And as for rain in April, well, I guess we’ll see.

All told, March included 207 miles, a DNS in an 8k and 10 miler, a PR in a 5k, a stroller PR and division win in a (probably short) 10k stroller race, and a PR in a road 10k and a woman’s division win. While the beginning of the month was pretty rough, thanks to a nasty flu + colitis flare + seemingly a bazillion other ailments all running concurrently through my body — and taking another week-plus to get to feeling 100% again — fortunately the month turned around, and I began to (eventually) feel normal. Electing to miss those first two races was disappointing, but I knew then (like I knew now) that it was in my best interest to just shut it down for a few days — even if it was race week — so that I could get on the fast path to health sooner rather than later. If given the option of being sick for 5 days or 25, it’s a no brainer.

at the Reach for a Star 5k, holding on to Sam’s awesomeness (PC: CT)
girl party at SIB with Meg, K, and G
hollering for my teammate, Julie, as she begins her “back” part of her 5k (PC: Dave/fitfam6)
with Paula and A, and Meg and K, and G, post-race. Lots of good vibes in this group (PC: Dave/fitfam6)
sea of orange at SIB in Santa Cruz (PC: Lisa/Wolfpack)
post- Hearts and Sole 10k with my teammate, Greg

As was the case in January and February, I posted most of my workweek miles with one or both of my kids (and a lot of my miles come from commutes). On average, I’d say that more than 50% of my total volume each week comes from running with the kids, either just with the baby in the stroller or with the baby in the stroller plus A on her bike. I was sometimes lucky enough to be able to swing a midweek run with new Bay Area transplant Char, whom I met in Chicago through a mutual friend, Corey, when Corey and I were still living there. Small world: soon after Corey moved to Chicago, we met up for a run (after chatting on twitter and realizing we had both run Eugene that spring). Her friend Char was in town, too, visiting family, so we three ran together one time, back in … hmm, probably September 2013, at Waterfall Glen (I think). If memory serves, I think the one and only time I ran with these three women was the day that I told them that C would be boarding an airplane later that night for an interview out here and that it was likely that we’d be moving. Crazy. My point: the running world seems enormous, but I guess just like anything else, it’s fairly small. You may not know everyone, but chances are high that you probably share a mutual friend. (Thank you, Strava and social media!)

very sunny and very windy on the last day of March (I think). not pictured: G, strolling under my arm. I love that you can see a sneaky smile from A 🙂

Toward the end of the month, I also had the opportunity to run Mission Peak starting from Ohlone College. When I’ve run MP in the past, it has always been by way of Monument Peak (and Mt. Allison and Mt. “EMS”), coming up from Milpitas or SJ, so it was a neat experience to run it from a different direction and start in Fremont. Fortunately, the trail wasn’t soul-suckingly muddy, and everything was just majestically and lusciously green. This was actually the first time I’ve been on trails since late October/early November because a) ARP has been closed for a while, presumably thanks to landslides and such and b) when I’ve run MP post-heavy rain before, it was pretty impassable … like take two steps forward and slide ten steps backward (while also potentially getting your shoes sucked off your feet) because it’s so damn muddy and the footing is for shit impassable … and I didn’t want to deal with it. The rain has let up a ton here, so I was optimistic that Mission Peak would be in pretty good shape. A huge group turned out — some to hike, some to run — and it was a blast. I would have never thought that I’d enjoy trail running as much as I do, so I look forward to spending many long runs on the trails near home over the coming months. For what it’s worth, I’m convinced that part of the reason I finally broke 3:20/1:33 last fall was because I spent nearly all my non-workout LRs on trails. I absolutely love running roads, but it’s hard to not have a good time when you’re literally frolicking like children through nature.  

perfecting my mid-run photography skills. still obviously needing work.
before we ascended Mission Peak, we swung over to Mt. Allison, home of these gems.
total creeper selfie pic. this was just part of the group who went to MP; add another 10 people who hiked that morning. it was awesome. this is from the top of Mission, with my back facing east (I think). L-R Dhananjay, Saurabh (the only person who apparently saw me do this, ha), Satish, Ajit, Chantanu, Amy, and JJ, with her back to us. Look in the background (around 1 o’clock), and you can see the stuff from Mt. Allison.

Racing nearly every weekend in March meant that my long runs usually topped off around 13-15 miles and were often broken up into several runs (warm-up, race, cool-down). I’m not planning to unofficially-officially begin SF training until about 16 or so weeks out, so it has admittedly been nice to not have monster miles on tap each weekend lately. Plus, racing is a ton of fun! It’s grueling and all — that’s the point; that’s what makes it beautiful — but it’s also just so cool, in a somewhat terrifying sort of way, to put yourself out there for a minute (or many minutes, whatev) and let yourself be vulnerable for a change.

Running is really awesome for a ton of obvious reasons, but I think like a lot of activities, once you get into a rhythm of some sort, it can be tough to shake things up and try something new. Call this comfort, call it getting complacent, but I figure that if one of the reasons we run is to show us that we’re stronger than we give ourselves credit for, or that we enjoy the trials and tribulations that come with training and racing, or whatever, it’s hard, if not impossible, to get that sort of ongoing feedback if we stay comfortably perched in a way of training/racing that precludes us from getting uncomfortable (or gritty). Somewhat related to this point, as a social media ambassador for the SF Marathon (TSFM2017Erin or TSFM2017Erin5k for savings, you’re welcome!), I recently wrote a guest post for the SF Marathon’s blog urging people to get outside their comfort zones this year at TSFM, and it’s something that I’ve been telling myself, too. For so long, especially postpartum, I have been (somewhat understandably) reluctant to register for races because I tell myself I’m not in “race shape” or whatever, that if I haven’t specifically trained for an (insert race distance here) that I really shouldn’t even show up and try to do the best that I can on that given day. The thinking usually goes oh I’m in “marathon shape” but there’s no way I could run a decent-for-me (insert short race distance here). I don’t want to embarrass myself, my team, (and so on). 

Allow me to call bullshit … on myself.

I’m glad I’m finally getting out of that mindset. Here’s the thing: realistically, if your ability to pay your mortgage isn’t on the line, you don’t need to take yourself so seriously. You’ll fare better than fine. It’s just a race; you’ve got nothing to lose. (And hell, set those expectations super low, and you might just come out of it surprising yourself!).  The bottom line here is that if we’re all about using running as an avenue for self-improvement (in any respect of the word), it’s hard impossible to allow ourselves to improve if we stay put right where we are. Why not set big-but-reasonable goals and work your ass off to realize them? If you fail, you’ll at least have the luxury of failing with pride and satisfaction, if not also a bit of gratitude, knowing that you at least gave yourself the opportunity to try. I think the moment we become less afraid of failing or faltering, liberating feelings begin to manifest, and suddenly, those ingrained ideas of I can only do (this distance) because ______ or I can only run at (this pace) because ____ reveal themselves for what they really are: just BS nonsense we use to sabotage ourselves. The sky’s the limit, kids. Provided you show up every day, do your very best, and on race day, as long as you do the same, you’ve got nothing to worry about. These are the things I tell myself, in a loving and supportive way, natch.  

Otherwise, I have been running, and it is well and good, and I continue to be so grateful to be able to do this wonderful stuff. The gratitude permeates everything.

Reading: Just finished The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (eh) and A Path Appears (awesome). I’m in the throes of Amy Schumer’s book (eh) but still have a pile of nonfiction stuff on my kitchen table. My heart is in nonfiction, and there’s so much good and recent stuff out there that I want to try to figure out how I can read it all in the 25th or 26th hour of each day. Tips welcome.

Listening to/watching: Moana. No shame in my game. My eldest and I watched it every night for about a week, and the kids and I almost always listen to it on our runs/rides. (Otherwise, I don’t watch much. If we’re lucky, C and I can get in a date with John Oliver or Bill Maher).

Doing: A huge purge in our house. I will literally go stand in our garage sometimes now because it looks so much better than it did just a couple weeks ago. (Again, no shame). It wouldn’t pass Marie Kondo’s muster, but it passes mine! 

Anticipating: Family and friend visits over the coming weeks, birthdays, the summer!

Eating: Everything in sight that’s veg-friendly and isn’t nailed down (training, I see you).

Appreciating: The longer days (like everyone else) and (as weird as this sounds) this little bird who must be perching in a tree right outside our home. The thing begins squawking really early each morning, and admittedly, it’s kinda annoying as hell, but it’s also really sweet. Being able to sleep with windows open in winter (spring?) and starting my morning every day by way of a bird tweeting at me (the literal, old-school tweeting, that is) is just kinda… cute. Add a few cups of tea and my local newspaper to the mix each morning, beginning around 5:30, and Tweety rounds out a nice little team here. (Again: no shame. Pretty sure I’m 33 going on 93).