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Posts from the ‘Making better choices’ Category

Counting down to my return to racing

I'm going to count myself in the minority of new parents who get MORE sleep after welcoming a baby. I've been an insomniac since my first year of grad school. I rarely, if ever, sleep through the night. Instead I usually wake up four or five times, barely get back to sleep and then wake up again.

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Finding the perfect combination at

Confession: My pregnancy heartburn is painful and debilitating. Some nights I can’t sleep. Others I toss and turn, even after taking a Pepcid. So I’ve spent a good deal of time since my first trimester looking for foods that would be delicious but wouldn’t agitate my painful acid reflux.

My go-to breakfast during pregnancy has been oatmeal. Lots and lots of oatmeal. I’ve been eating a lot of instant apples and cinnamon oatmeal for the past seven months. I wish I had time to make steel cut oats or something more fancy, but the truth is that I warm up my bowl of oatmeal when I get of my office at school and eat it as I prep for my 9 a.m. class.

MyOatmealSo when I got an email from Sweat Pink a couple weeks ago about, a website that lets customers make their own organic healthy oatmeal combination that includes selecting the oats, adding flavors, adding fruits or/and nuts and sweetener, I jumped at a chance to try a different type of oatmeal than I’ve been eating for the past 30 weeks.

I immediately sent an email for a free code to score a bag, hoping I would be one of the lucky ones to respond soon enough.

I’m so glad that I was, particularly because since I hit the third trimester, my heartburn has become exponentially worse than it was. I was given a coupon code to purchase a medium-sized bag from the site, which is 2.25 pounds.

I set out to make my own concoction immediately.

First off, the site order site reminds me of a check list for ordering a salad or sandwich from one of my favorite local delis. Lots of check boxes, lots of choices.

Each choice leads to another set of choices, including a long list of options for added flavors. I was overwhelmed by the options.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.40.22 PM

I’m ashamed to admit, then, that I didn’t get as wild and crazy as I would have liked. I was incredibly tempted by the Snickerdoodle and Strawberry Shortcake flavors. Then I saw the Vanilla Frosting. And Cookie Dough.

I chose two flavors: Cinnamon Roll and Apple Pie.

I know, so predictable. But I know what works for me, especially right now, so I figured I’d stay with choices I knew were safe. I opted to add some raisins (another selection screen), but no nuts and a little sweetener for my blend. I also added some dried apples.


I opened the custom-made package I received immediately and the first thing I noticed was the smell of the oatmeal. None of my store-bought instant oatmeal smelled as delicious as the package from I sniffed it for awhile before I actually made myself a bowl.

Once I did, I knew I’d made the right taste choice.


I made myself a bowl for dinner one night (because sometimes that happens when you’re a pregnant woman) and sat down for ridiculously nutritious dinner. It was filling and tasty. My only complaint was that it wasn’t as sweet as the boxed oatmeal I’m used to, but I’ve had a need for sweet things for the past couple weeks.

My package has been split up into many bags this week so I could take them to work to eat before class, and I made some “protein balls” for quick snacks to satisfy my cravings between meals (see below).

The oatmeal is satisfying enough to get me through my class and to the noon hour, which is saying a lot right now since I tend to want to eat everything that is put in front of me.

The best part is that the Oatmeal is completely customizable and your blend can be sent to you once, every two weeks, every month, every two months or every three months. The smell alone is worth ordering, but the oatmeal selection is solid too.

Even better is that the oatmeal hasn’t caused me the horrible heartburn that’s been plaguing me for months now.


You can make your own blend at by clicking the “Build Your Blend” button in the navigation bar. Just be warned: There are a ton of flavors to choose from so you may need some time to seriously consider the array of delicious choices.

And it’s healthy.

[yumprint-recipe id=’1′]Disclaimer: I was provided a code from my affiliation as a Sweat Pink Ambassador to review, but the opinions are my own.

Close to the heart

I’ve started and stopped this post so many times in my head that I decided I had to finish it before 2013 was over. So today, on the last possible day I could, I decided it needed to come out.

A year ago exactly, I was 24 hours from an emergency room visit that led to another one, seven days later, where my gallbladder was removed during emergency surgery.

I remember looking down at the holes on my stomach realizing that the scars would never go away. More emotional wounds would open up in the following days, but my husband and I had decided, in my hospital room on Jan. 8, that I would not be returning to my job at the newspaper I once loved so deeply I could only imagine being dragged out dead.

My heart was broken because I knew no other way.

My wounds, in those early days of 2013, were both physical and emotional. My nerves were ravaged. My body was spent.

But those very trying early days of 2013 were also filled with an overabundance of love: From my husband, who promised me I’d find my path and things to “keep me busy.” From my close friends who helped me through and offered guidance. From my students, who showed me there was more to journalism than a city newspaper with declining circulation and staff numbers. From a former colleague who, without seeing any of my work, jumped on a chance to hire me as a freelancer.

Love surrounded me.

That love healed me in ways I will never, ever be able to explain.

And that love led me to her:


When I found out I was pregnant in August, I thought I would blog every single milestone of it on here. I worried about this blog becoming less workout related, more mommy-ish.

I would start posts over and over again, but something kept stopping me: a new-found need to keep private matters very close to my heart, between my husband and I.

I’m not ending this blog by any means.

In fact, I have posts about running during pregnancy written (of note, there hasn’t been a lot of running because baby doesn’t seem to enjoy it and likes to remind me of that) and yoga (that has been essential in recent weeks). I’m yearning for my 10-milers, while only being able to squeak out two at a time right now on the treadmill.

I surprised myself last week when I register for the 2nd Half Marathon of the San Francisco Marathon for 2014. My due date is May 3. The race is July 29. I’m hedging my bets on a hope that I’ll have a natural delivery and be able to get back to running quickly, for my self and my sanity. I’ve been missing my mid-length runs of six to eight miles especially.


But my center of gravity has recently shifted enough to cause me issues. My saving grace has been my Gabrialla Elastic Maternity Belt. I bought one on recommendation from another blogger. I can’t recommend it enough.

I’m getting bigger and bigger, obviously, as I get closer to my due date. My first trimester was rough. I slept a lot. I’ve never been more thankful for a forgiving freelance schedule and part-time teaching position. I was sleeping 12+ hours a day at one point. I fell asleep nearly everywhere I sat down. I also had to stop running as a precaution, for awhile, because of bleeding. (Sorry for the TMI, but sometimes this sort of thing is linked to running. My OB told me it was likely not the running. It happens to a lot of women.)

As I worked through all this, I realized that I didn’t want to share, let alone overshare, things about my life. Call it innate need to keep my private life private, but I just felt like not blogging every element of my life was the most appropriate action.

My husband has always been a more private person than me. Part of the reason I used my maiden name professionally for so long is because I wanted him to be able to keep that privacy. Scary things happen to journalists. My grandmother used to get phone calls for me because she was the only person in the phone book listed with the same last name.

I didn’t want that happening at home.

So when my husband asked me not to blog specific things, I listened and understood.

At 20 weeks, though, we found out that baby is a girl. Or at least according to our ultrasound tech, who said: “I wouldn’t tell you if I wasn’t sure.” I’m still having moments where I think we should maybe have that checked again. That’s my anxiety peaking up …

In any case, at 22 weeks I’m feeling as good as someone who is watching all her running clothes slowly shrink up can. It’s kind of been funny to figure out which of my workout clothes still fit me on any given day. As much crap as Lululemon has received recently for comments made by the founder, my Lululemon clothes are stretching nicely over my belly.


A different in belly shots, though you can’t really see much since both photos are shot at different lengths from the mirror. On the right, I’m wearing my 2011 California International Marathon shirt and a Lululemon Run: Swiftly shirt in my regular size 10.

I’m still very grateful for long tank tops that have extended the life of my regular clothes, though by the time I go back to teaching in late January I’m pretty sure it will be ALL maternity clothes for the next few months.

So there’s been a lot happening in my life over the past couple months.

I’m finally getting to a point where I’m ready to share my triumphs, fears, successes and apprehensions again. But after sharing so much in late 2012 and early 2013, I really wanted this first part of my pregnancy to be private and special to my husband and I.


I can’t promise a quick return or regular posts again, particularly because I still very much want this blog to be health and fitness centered. But I am letting myself add in the stuff about pregnancy and our baby girl on the way.

As can be imagined, I’m extremely excited for 2014 to begin. I’m excited about some potential (as in I’m crossing my fingers tightly) career happenings on the way later in the year, the amazing work I’m doing now (so many website builds, so little time) and, of course, our little one coming.

I’m also looking forward to eventually getting back to running more frequently. One step at a time. Always moving forward. Because now I know another way.

The after

A year ago I was sitting in an emergency room calming down after being administered an emergency Xanax. My very taxed brain was relaxing for the first time in weeks. My body was coming out of a panic-induced tension.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined what I would be like today. Because I didn’t know how I would get through the next hour. Or the next day. I didn’t know how I would wake up and take on another day.

My confidence was replaced with sadness and fear. My voice trembled when I spoke. For weeks I had a tendency to burst into tears and cry for hours. I had to excuse myself from rooms to do just that for months.

A year ago, I temporarily lost myself. I broke down.

I spent four months in therapy, putting myself back together. Recognizing that the cause was a job that I had spent too long trying to make better and fake people I’d spent too much time investing myself in was one of the greatest breakthroughs. Finally “separating” from said job brought a secondary emotional whirlwind that I worked through for even more months.

I waded through the darkest period of my life and the seeming loss of what I always considered mt first love only to realize that I never fell out of love with journalism. I never lost my passion for it. It just got buried under bureaucracy, middle management restrictions and office politics. It was buried under a deep depression that wouldn’t have become better if I had stayed.

I fought my way back to me by training for and running 26.2 three times, earning a 12-minute PR in April at the San Luis Obispo Marathon. I did my first out of state race in Portland. I bricked my half marathon schedule to achieve a significant half marathon PR and finish with a 2:16 in San Diego.

I ran because it was what I knew to do when things got bad. I ran because it was my way to cope.

Eight weeks ago, though, I remembered why I started running. At 200 pounds, I was a Type 2 diabetic on medication. I was sluggish and unhappy. I was also told, once upon a time, that I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and would likely have issues conceiving a child when the time came. (A surgery in 2010 found no issues with my ovaries, despite my hormone levels being way off.)

Get the weight down, health care professionals advised. Manage your diet better, the doctors warned.

There are things you don’t tell people when you start running. That was my thing. No one needed to know I was running to one day be able to have a baby. Because some things should be left personal.

To me, 2013 will always be the year of the personal best. Because I ran my butt off to put myself back together. Because my distance times improved.

But also because my personal best also means that eight weeks ago, my husband and I found out we will become first-time parents in May.


So as much as I will struggle to get through the one-year anniversary of the day that changed my life completely, I am celebrating the most beautiful “after” gift that I’ve received by way of the hell it took to get here.

The light at the end of the tunnel I so desperately sought a year ago burns brighter than I could have ever imagined.

Because I ran.

Every step.

Every mile.

Every marathon.

For this.

Halving it for Half Moon Bay


As of 11 a.m. today, I am officially no longer running a marathon in a week. I traded in my dark-blue bib with my name emblazoned on it for a teal replacement that signifies the switch to 13.1.

I had a moment, as I was walking in to Sports Basement in Walnut Creek, where I asked my husband if he just wanted me to try and run the marathon so we could get our money worth. We both agreed that with the stomach issues and training changes over the past couple months, it would be best to not go that route.

So I walked it, turned a corner and found my way to packet pickup. I went through pickup for the full, with my number 344 being assigned to me. I grabbed the shirt and headed around to the answers desk. The race director was cordial about everything and got me switched out really, really quick.

Part of me wants to be sad. I wanted to finish 2013 with six marathons under my belt.

Instead, I’ll be running 13.1, likely slowly, and adding another half marathon to my list.


Speaking of that shirt, I love it. All the shirts are the same, saying “26.2 Miles of Running Heaven” so I didn’t have to switch my full marathon shirt for a half shirt. It’s a large Brooks shirt, so it’s good quality. This will be my first of two Brooks shirts in the next couple weeks. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series also has Brooks shirts. I love how durable they are.

I don’t know much about this race, but I’m already liking what I see. The Half Moon Bay International Marathon has only been around three years now. It seems to have gathered some great traction, though, with a hefty list of sponsors.


When I first found out about it, I was excited because it sounded exactly like a Big Sur race without the need to travel a long distance and book an overnight hotel room. (It’s about an hour and 15 minute drive early in the morning from where we live.)

Big Sur, though, is a very well established race that splits its main event into two: An April marathon and a November half marathon.

I actually first ran the Big Sur Half Marathon in 2011 on suggestion from my mom. She had a friend who had run the marathon. I, without really looking into the run, decided I wanted to do the 13.1. The full marathon included way too many hills. I found out later, during my 21-miler along the coast there, that it was a tough one.

But the Big Sur Half happens in Monterey and in nearby Pacific Grove before finishing near downtown. It’s not exactly the same as running along Highway 1. That said, I love the Big Sur Half. It’s one of my favorite races. I’ve already told my husband I hope to be back to it in 2014 as I ramp up for California International Marathon next year. Schedule conflicts have prevented me from doing so many of my favorite races this year.

That said, I’m hoping I enjoy Half Moon Bay just as much. I love the feel of smaller races. And I love that more and more are popping up in coastal areas. One of my best experiences in running was at the San Luis Obispo Marathon this year. That route doesn’t run along the coast, but it is beautiful.

So as much as I’m upset that I won’t be tackling the full 26.2 next week, I have a lot of reasons to be really excited about taking on 13.1 along the California coast. I just hope my stomach and body cooperate.

A hard-fought diet battle

Over the past four weeks my stomach has waged a relentless war against me. Everything I eat has made me sick. Every run I went on suffered from it. Every training decision I made was marred by the fact that I couldn’t fuel properly.

And now, as the problems seem to be receding, I’m having to make some difficult decisions about the marathon I’m supposed to be running in less than a month. The likelihood is that now I can’t. I won’t be able to get in my long runs. I don’t have enough energy to do so with a very limited diet either.

I’m losing the war.

When my gallbladder was removed in emergency surgery, I was told, repeatedly, that my diet had to change. I HAD to cut out certain foods and drinks. There was no way around it.

But over a seven-month period, my bad habits creeped back into what was once a very clean diet.

Those bad habits include an very dependent relationship on Diet Coke. And a love of the occasional cupcake. Then there’s a horrible habit of overeating.

Over summer, when I was working from home more, my diet became worse and worse. I was still running 100 miles a month, but I was also eating a lot of burrito bowls. Then I was drinking a lot of diet soda.

In July, I realized that I had packed on some pounds. My time for the Summer Breeze Half Marathon wasn’t bad at 2:19, but I was tired the entire run. It was definitely not my 2:16 half time from June. I was sluggish. But I also just wanted to stop running again, half way through 13.1 and give up.

By mid-August, I was having digestion issues that were causing to me call and cancel my runs with Sam and Jennie. The two had started running early in the morning three days a week. I could, maybe, get my stomach under control one day of the three to run with them.

My diet was all out of sorts.

I reverted to treadmill running where I had control over my situation a little better. By situation I meant that if I had to go to the bathroom immediately, I would be able to quickly. I know that’s TMI, but quick trips to the bathroom have become commonplace.

So two weeks ago, I did something drastic: I severely cut my diet. I removed nearly everything that was making me sick, or that I thought was, and added everything back one by one, slowly.

It meant that for about four days, all I ate was toast with an almond-butter spread from A Loving Spoon.

Seriously, two slices of wheat toast with a little almond butter (which is made locally in Mountain House with all-natural ingredients), was the only thing I could stomach for about three days.

In a week, I lost four pounds.

This past week, I started adding fruits (which were really, really hard on my stomach) back in moderation. Bananas first. Then apples. No peaches yet. My one experience with pineapples this week left me feeling a little queasy, so I won’t be trying that again for another couple weeks.

I’ve had chicken, but red-meat hasn’t been good to me either.

I’m also eating significantly less, cutting my portions by more than half.

So far, my stomach has felt A LOT better. I haven’t had as many issues with rushed bathroom trips (this is a good thing since school started back up and half of the women’s rooms in my building have been torn down). Yesterday, I finally got through a six-mile run without trouble.

It took two weeks. I know my stomach is nowhere near “healed.” I know I did a lot of damage to it with a summer of eating bad stuff.

And these weeks where it hurt more to run than it should have mean that I’m likely going to switch to the half marathon at for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon. I know I could probably slog (slow+jog) through 26.2 miles, but I’m starting to feel like it may not be worth it.

What would my motivation be if I knew I wouldn’t be at my top performing shape? Just to finish another one? To tell people I ran a marathon that weekend? It just doesn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I have two more half marathons the following weekends that I want to run. I don’t want to injure myself on Sept. 29 and NOT be able to run the other races, particularly the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which will be my “Grand Slam” Heavy Medal finish (and my last for this year).

Perspective is telling me there will be more marathons. Experience is telling me I’m not ready for this one.


All I know is I’m tired of looking like I did above, struggling, at the end of a race.

So instead of gunning for a PR in the full at Half Moon Bay, I’m going to work on getting through my next couple races while trying to work through these ongoing stomach issues. I feel like it’s going to be a hard-fought battle … which I’m hopefully now getting the upper hand in.

Issues of the core


I once thought of 2012 as “year of the distance.” I did two marathons in 2012. I ran even more half marathons. I trained hard. I worked harder. I pushed and pushed. And I ended up in a place physically and mentally I didn’t want to be in.

All of that action in 2012 meant that my body was overtaxed come Jan. 1 when a gallbladder attack landed me in the hospital begging for pain medication. The doctor that day didn’t know what to do. This episode was my third time in three years in the emergency room for this pain. I felt like my abdomen was exploding. I was projectile vomiting. My husband felt my head on the less-than-a-mile drive to the hospital. I was burning up.

Four hours later I was dosed up on Dilaudid, because Morphine makes me feel like I’m on fire, and sent home. After months off of work in late 2012, I made the dumb decision to go to work and tough it out.

I spent the entire week in pain. The sharp side soreness stayed with me for the entire week. I was throwing up my breakfast every morning. I was trying to get an appointment with my then general practitioner. But with New Year’s and everything else, the pain just got worse. Seven days later, I woke up in the middle of the night and tried everything I could to make the pain go away. At 3 a.m. I collapsed on the stairs.

By 9 a.m. I was being wheeled into an unexpected surgery to remove my gallbladder.

I spent all of January and much of February recovering. In the process, I noticed something right off: My core was not bouncing back as quickly as I would have liked. I just kept feeling, more and more, like I got kicked in the stomach.

Then in March, right when I was starting to do some core work and build my midsection strength back up, I fell and broke my arm.

Needless to say, any exercise that involved my arms was out.

I kept feeling “pressure pain” when I applied any sort of force to my left arm. I’d catch myself pulling back if I tried to lift something too quickly. All  this time, my core was losing every bit of strength I had built up in three years of running.

Since June, I’ve noticed a significant impact on my running ability due to my core issue. I also realized that I had let the problem go for so long that I was lacking motivation to actually do something about it. That’s when I started asking my friends if they had suggestions.

One gave me pretty clear guidance: Yoga.

It’s good for the body, mind and soul, she told me. That’s kind of a win-win, because I’m in need of healing, even after all this time, from the damage I did to myself in 2012. So I made the first step to regaining my core official when I purchased a Groupon deal for a 20 drop-in sessions at a yoga studio in my city, right on the edge of town.


This is the view from the parking lot. It kind of invokes the calmness I was going for.

I stepped into a yoga studio for the first time in more than six years last week. I was pleasantly surprised with my performance. I’m not nearly as agile as many of the other students, but I held my own.

I’ll admit that it hurt. I was afraid my muscles were going to lock up  and then cramp up at a couple points during the hour-long class. I slipped a little on my yoga mat, which I’ve actually owned since 2006 when I did an internship in Colorado and took a couple yoga classes there (because I got to do yoga at a place called Garden of the Gods and you can’t go wrong with those views either).

I’m not calling this move a success just yet, but I did feel better about my core after the first time. I was able to balance myself well. I didn’t fall flat on my face. I struggled, but for a beginner I felt like I gave it my best. And, according to my yoga instructor, that’s what it is about.

Juxtaposing the negatives with the positives

Some days you wake up and just know that it’s not going to be a good one. The day just takes on a certain “air” to it. Today was one of those days, for various reasons.

Today was the first day since I left my full-time newspaper job that I was genuinely frustrated. More frustrated than I can even relay. See that face? That’s what I looked like at 6 a.m. this morning when I realized that a name server propagation that I started the day before still wasn’t showing up for me. The good news is that my boss could see it.

So could the client. But any necessary changes would be completely unseen by me.

Head. Hits. Desk. In. Frustration.

The site turned out to be fine, a beautiful culmination of four-months of work. It was one of those issues, the first in a long time, I had to admit was completely out of my control. I couldn’t make anything happen faster. I did everything correct. It just wasn’t showing up for me. Hence the 6 a.m. wake-up call for me.

And, yes, those are my running clothes. And my husband has a Samuel Adams mirror. My new “schedule” lately has been waking up early, working for about three hours, then heading out for a run before it hit the triple-digit temperatures we’ve been getting in Northern California lately.

As I was trying to navigate through all of that, I also remembered that today was the day I should be checking my email for word from Nike about random-draw entry into the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. A huge group of ladies from my running club signed up, and a man or two. I’ve mentioned before my luck over the past two years.

In 2011, I didn’t get in through random draw. But I got to run as part of a sponsored team. In 2012, my running club group was accepted through random draw.

This year? Not so much.


As much as I wasn’t surprised and slightly relieved that the $175 race fee wouldn’t be deducted from my American Express, I was really sad for the women in the running club who wanted this to be their first half marathon.

And it’s still kind of a bummer. But it, essentially, solidified my race calendar for the rest of 2013.

But as much as I wanted to rebel against the Nike random draw and say “buy all the Lululemon things instead” (one of my friends did that, apparently, I like that idea), I realized that the positives in my running life and my life in general are completely outweighing the negative.

Sometimes you need to be reminded about things like that. These are the things I’m thankful for right now:


A year ago, I felt like I was fighting never-ending battles and getting nowhere. My creativity was hampered. I just felt like I was going nowhere in my profession anymore. There was no growth personally or professionally.

Today marked the fourth (or fifth?) site that I’ve helped launched that I’ve worked on. And this one was MASSIVE. I spent an enormous amount of time on it over the past few months. When a site finally goes live, there’s just a feeling that encompasses both relief, but also great satisfaction that I did something amazing.

I’m thankful that I’m back to growing in my work and learning new things every day.



I didn’t make mention of it here, because I was still a little unsure of making a commitment, but about a month ago, I decided that my husband and I were no longer eating quick-pasta meals, frozen pizzas or anything that came out of a box in our freezer. At least for dinner.

I’ve had some severe stomach issues in the last two months, thanks to my missing gallbladder (which I still, for the record, don’t miss). I’ve had to trim down even more from what I was eating even two months ago. My body is rebelling.

Since I’ve cut out a lot of processed things, that’s stopped. Unfortunately I can’t cut down on ALL processed food. My husband doesn’t support that diet. He should, but he’s a spice-it-up-and-cook-it-to-taste-good-even-if-it’s-not-all-that-healthy guy. That said, I realized in the middle of my site launch last night that I hadn’t yet eaten dinner.

I buckled and went to McDonald’s. I immediately regretted it. And my stomach made me very aware it was not happy. Back to real food.



Ignore my slightly-dirty running clothes. That’s my ever-offending left hip that’s been giving me problems. On Wednesday, I ran seven miles in the morning. Then I went out to Mountain House and ran three with my running club. I even kept pace with the lead runner.

goodbad1My leg wasn’t screaming at me at all. In fact, it felt nice to get out and run a faster, stronger pace. That was my longest-distance day of the week. I realized that I’m oh-so-close to 100 miles, which I’ve told myself repeatedly isn’t my goal each month.

But with two days left, I’m eight miles away. I’m not feeling bad. I’m running well. And the stupid hip injury may have just been a symptom of pretty significant overuse (someone remind me not to book five races in a two-month period), instead of something more permanent.

I’m keeping my paces mostly slow, but if I can keep going at this rate, I should be able to pick the pace back up in a week or so.



Most people run Nike for a necklace. I’ve run it the past two years because I wanted to challenge myself. It’s a tough course. It’s a beautiful course. But it’s not the only San Francisco-based run that goes along that route.

In fact, the first half of the San Francisco Marathon covers nearly an identical route, except in the last couple miles.

The necklace is a nice touch. It’s a beautiful gift. But both my Nike Women’s Marathon necklaces aren’t exactly my favorite necklaces ever. I have a roman numeral 26.2 necklace that I love more. I’m more afraid of losing my Nike necklaces than anything. So I don’t wear them often.

I would have been excited if I got in. But the price increase this year kind of turned me off.

But you know what? I’ve run five marathons. In August, I’m running my 20th half marathon.

“I didn’t get in,” I pouted to my husband earlier.

“Boo hoo,” he replied back.

As much as I’d love to get a reprieve entry and, maybe, run it, I’m good with the wait until next year. No running over to the Nike Facebook page and complaining about how unfair it is. No crying. No regrets.

It’s just another race. Two years ago it meant the world to me, because it was the one race I saw myself doing that crazy first-year of running half marathons. I’ve been lucky enough to run it.

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve cut down on races year after year. I think 2014 will include even fewer. I think most people will think it’s for financial reasons, but in reality it’s not. It’s because I’m running better, with not as much stress weighing on me. That’s making embrace running more and really want to put 100-percent into a race. I can’t do that racing twice a month, even if one race is a 10K.

So I’m cutting back. I realized when finishing the San Francisco Marathon that after five marathons, I’m finally understanding 26.2 better. I don’t think 2014 will be the “year of the marathon” like this has turned into the “year of the PR,” but I’m becoming less anxious about the goals I once considered “unattainable.”

Now everything is a little bit more within reach.

Making everyday recipes low fat


I’m trying to really make better choices since my gallbladder removal, especially when it comes to consumption of many of my favorite foods. One that I love more than anything else? Cheese.

Cheese is always one of the things I told to consider cutting out completely.

The problem is that my husband can eat whatever he wants to. But I’m the one who cooks. So I have to make things for dinner that we both like.

As I was recuperating from surgery, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. I don’t think I ever let my iPad go unless I was sleeping, which happened quite often as well. It was there I came across a recipe for a rolled chicken-bake like creation.

If you live near a Costco, you know the allure of a chicken bake. My husband loves them. I forgot to pin it, though, after I found it. So I tried to recreate it from memory, but with some low fat and fat free substitutes.


  • Two chicken breasts
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix
  • 1 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package fat free cream cheese
  • 1 cylinder pre-made pizza dough
  • Fat free cooking oil



1. Start by frying the chicken with a fat free cooking oil. Add 1/4 of the ranch mix for seasoning. Move the chicken off the stove, let cool down.



2. Put the cream cheese and mozzarella into a bowl, mix in with 1/2 pack of the ranch dry mix. Set aside. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

3. Open dough, spread out on a 13-by-9-inch pan in the shape of a rectangle.


4. Mix the chicken into the cream cheese and mozzarella.

5. Spread the chicken mixture along the center of the dough.


6. Roll the dough over the chicken mixture, making sure to pinch the ends so that the chicken mixture doesn’t come out.

7. Put roll in the oven for 20 minutes (this may change depending on the oven, my oven runs hot so it didn’t take 20 minutes).


8. Let cool. Cut in slices and serve. The ends will likely be a little more bulked up, so you can either cut the loaf in half and split the two separate  pieces or cut in smaller slices, serving the two end pieces a little larger than the rest.

The verdict? My husband loved it. He’s planning on taking the rest of it to work tomorrow for lunch.

Plus, he didn’t really notice the difference in taste from regular to low fat.

I have a great recipe for homemade pizza crust that I have from a recipe book from one of our favorite wineries, I’m hoping to try it with as well. I think next time I won’t put so much of the dry ranch dressing into the cream cheese mixture (which is why I said only about 1/2 the packet), so that it doesn’t taste as “ranchy” as I thought it did.

I don’t know exact calories, but I know it doesn’t taste as dense as the Costco chicken bakes. In fact, it actually isn’t all that bad on my newly sensitive stomach.

A new emergency, complete with surgery


That whole post about bad luck? It just keeps getting worse.

The culmination of it all was an emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder (yes, the whole freaking thing) and a gallstone the size of a quarter from my body on Wednesday morning.

Let me go back to Jan. 1.

That emergency room trip where the CT scan showed nothing? Where blood tests were inconclusive?

I was sent home, that night, after being loaded up with painkillers. The good painkillers, not the ones that make me feel like I’m on fire (looking at you Morphine). I was also prescribed a bottle of Vicodin and some anti-nausea medication. Good thing too, because I had to keep taking it.

I can’t even begin to describe the pain I feel when it happens. It starts dull, then radiates throughout my abdomen. Then my stomach seems to get bloated. Last week, I couldn’t wear my jeans. It was that bad. And when all is said and done, it passes. Like nothing. It usually only lasts a night or so, then I’m back at it.

But this time, the pain stuck around. I noticed it when I was shooting a video on Thursday of last week. As I sat on the floor, something I usually do when shooting video. I all of the sudden had a sharp pain in my side. Then I felt a little sick. I was able to finish the video without any other incident.

On Saturday, it felt like it was kicking up again. By Monday, I was harboring a dull pain as I went throughout my day. I’ve been dealing with this since graduate school. Doctors first diagnosed me with an ulcer. That was a lucky guess … because I ended up having a pretty gnarly ulcer. My husband rushed me to the ER the year we got married after I could barely stand up. Then doctors said it was kidney stones. In 2010, I had surgery to look for “lady problems” that could be causing the pain.

Another doctor told me I needed to lose some weight. I proceeded forward with that. Thirty-pounds lighter, the pain came back.

And it kept coming, until Tuesday when, at another video assignment, it was full blown. Just crazy bad. Tuesday ended for me in a way that I should have predicted a few weeks ago when I decided to go back to work, except in the real-life version I was called self absorbed. (Not for this post.)

I came home upset Tuesday night. I took a Xanax to calm down. I fell asleep fast.

By midnight, I was wide awake trying to get the pain to pass again. I tried to go to the bathroom. I drank water, a ton of water. I used the heating pad. I took a shower. I did everything.

Then I started throwing up. Everything. Nothing stayed down. (Even that $10, super delicious Togo’s sandwich. Damn.)

So at 4 a.m., I woke my husband up by collapsing on our bedroom floor.

“I’m dying,” I cried.

“You’re not dying,” he said.

But he couldn’t deny I was in pain.

It took them an hour to get me painkillers. I hadn’t even had time, since the previous visit, to check in with my regular physician. This time, the emergency room doctor (a really young looking guy), ordered up a CT with contrast.

Less than 30 minutes later, he was back in my ER bay telling me by gallbladder looked inflamed. He brought in an ultrasound machine. He felt around. He said he wanted to consult the surgeon.

By 9 a.m. I was being wheeled into the surgery room to have my gallbladder removed.

I woke up in recovery, still dazed about all that had transpired in less than 12 hours.

And greeted by a clear liquid diet.


Chicken broth. Jello. Yum. I also got juice. No carbonated beverages, though. Apparently, I may not be able to drink carbonated beverages for a while now.

Oh, and new holes all over my abdomen. I felt like a human pincushion.


That’s what I look like after having a organ removed. And being put under general anesthesia. And being hooked up to a major massive IV delivering more painkillers.

So I’m sans gallbladder. My husband was right: I wasn’t dying.

But I’m not supposed to lift anything more than 15 pounds for the next month. I have an awesome sheet full of lots of fun doctor orders. No this. No that. No running. For at least two weeks.

So that 10K I was so jazzed about? Not happening, according to my husband. It’s only 16 days away. He wants me to contact the race company and transfer my entry to another event. I’ll get around to it, when I have a moment of clarity without the pain medication. (Like right now, when I’m not nearly as groggy as I thought I’d be.)

I’m trying not to be iffy about my half marathon in February, but you never know about these things. I’m in a lot of pain right now. I can barely stay awake for more than three hours, apparently a result of being put under.


That was my view for the day/night. The night was ridiculous. There was no way I could get a good night’s rest. I had nurses coming in every two hours to check my vitals and make sure I was still alive. If they hadn’t have kept giving me pain medication, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to sleep.

One of the orderlys was really nice, though. She saw I was having trouble navigating something simple like opening up a sugar packet, for my tea, and she offered to make it for me.


I nearly cried when she left. Lately I’ve been greeted with questioning looks and doubtful smiles. This woman was genuinely nice to me. She even opened up my napkin and put it on my lap. Why can’t more people be like that? (I may sound cheesy right now, but I’m had a hellish three weeks that has made me question nearly everything I knew about friendship and proper decorum.)

I kept getting zonked out with the IV painkillers.


That little bag was both my friend and my enemy. They had to remove the original IV from my right hand and move it to my left late last night because the original one had saturated my arm. Every time my nurse “flushed” the line, it burned.

This morning, my husband came and bailed me out. We only live right down the street from the hospital, but the trip felt long. I really just wanted to go home and crawl into bed. When I finally did, I fell fast asleep.

I’m a little hunched over when I walk now. And the pain is still radiating, but this time I know it’s from the holes, not the gigantic gallstone.

I keep asking myself: Why is all this happening? What is it setting me up for?

One of my favorite songs says “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” I keep hoping that’s true. I keep thinking positively. It will all mean something, anything, eventually. But what matters right now, what I know matters, is that I am home, And safe. And my husband is taking care of me. And a friend who mattered came to see me. And my mom showed up without hesitation when she was called.

I know I’m loved, even if everything is falling apart all around me.