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Posts from the ‘Meet me Monday’ Category

Meet me Monday: Keep it all in perspective

I’m allowed to diverge from running every once in awhile on this blog. After all, it’s kind of about all aspects of my life, but mainly focusing on running.

Yesterday, after a morning five-mile run and a long blog post about staying warm and keeping safe, I ditched my Nike Equalons and running capris and put on a satin blue dress, nylons and patent black leather shoes. I put in contacts and did my makeup. All of these thing are incredibly rare for me.

I “got pretty” because my husband and I were heading to San Francisco for a three-hour dinner/dance cruise aboard the Hornblower California. I had booked the cruise as a Christmas present for Thomas. It was to celebrate our 10-year anniversary of being together.

We have a different wedding anniversary. But we’ve continued to celebrate our “other” anniversary for the past four times it’s come up. I consider it our real “anniversary.”

It was an amazing night. We arrived to spectacular views of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

We boarded and were seated at our private table. I’d upgraded us to a “celebration package” with a bottle of champagne, two beautiful blue commemorative champagne flutes and a couple boxes of truffles.

We had a beautiful four-course meal. Both of us had chicken.

We spent some time on the decks to take in views of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate dessert as we passed under the Bay Bridge before heading back to port.

Except it was the “ort of San Francisco” on Saturday night when we cruised.

We had an amazing time.

But, it also served to remind me that there is much more to life than running. There is more than marathon training. There is more than cross training. I wanted to lose the weight partially for my husband. He deserved a slimmer wife. But he never cared either way.

He’s stayed by my side for 10 years, through thick and thin. I’ve only been running for two years.

He takes me to most of my races. He’s there at the finish line. He doesn’t see my failures if I don’t make it all the way on a long training run. He rejoices in my successful moments.

He helps me stay balanced. He keeps everything in perspective. He’s good like that. And, for one night we enjoyed dinner without thinking about the calories or how it would effect my morning run. I’m not even bother that I decided not to run at all today. He had a good time. We had a good time. Sometimes that’s more important than a run.

Meet me Monday: Gear freak

I’m one to trade one vice for another. This happens more than I’d like. And I’m not talking about bad vices.

I don’t smoke. I rarely drink. I’m not into drugs or anything like that.

Instead, I have a huge 13 by 9-foot walk in closet and more clothes than I need to fill it.

At the beginning of 2011, I was still relatively new to running. (To be fair, I still am. I’ve only been running regularly for two years.) But the biggest difference between now and then, outside of the fact I need to shed a couple of pounds, is  that I’m a lot more knowledgeable about the clothes I should be running in.

My greatest lesson? Cotton is bad. Very, very bad.

Except, in my case, if it’s Nike Dri-Fit Cotton t-shirts. I love those. I have a ton of those. They are really comfortable. I rarely worry about arm chafing. (I have fat little arms.)

Tangents aside, I’ve become a bit of a gear freak. I’m obsessed with trying new things out. I started out buying all Nike gear. My first running pants were Nike tech tights. I’ve realized I’m most comfortable running in tech capris.

I’m not a fan of tank tops.

My favorite socks are of the Nike Dri-Fit variety. Finding what I like to run in and what I’m most comfortable going the distance took some trial and error.

Over the summer I experimented with shorts (gasp!!!). If you knew me, you’d know I’m not big on shorts. But we had a rather warm summer. So I grabbed a pair of Nike running shorts at my local Fleet Feet store in Stockton.

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to be smarter about my gear. I notice a couple things in my pursuit.

I like items that can be multi-use. And I’d rather spent some money to find something great than buy cheap item after cheap item hoping that the shorts/shirt/socks will last until I can buy the next.

That brings me to some of my most recent purchases. Before the California International Marathon, I picked up a Nike thermal black long-sleeve to wear during the VERY cold morning run. It was cold enough for me to wear it for the first half of the marathon.

I love it. I’ve worn it as a base layer for long runs.

But I only had the option of buying it in black. This weekend, I found a pink one. It’s bright. Great for night running. The good news is that during the three months I’ve had the other one, the fleece inner (yes, warmth, yay!) hasn’t pilled at all.

I’ve also discovered Lululemon.

See the cute little pin stripes? They are the run: Speed short.

They aren’t adorable detail, even though they are. They are incredibly reflective in the dark when any sort of light hits them. I found a recommendation for these on a blog. Again on my quest to find items that are more reflective at night. I actually wore these while running the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay in November.

I love them, but the length seems a little short on me. I still wear them, usually with another layer underneath.

Then I discovered the run: Turbo short.

These are a little longer. The pair pictured above are a special edition pair. The reflective detail is a ruffle. They aren’t all that special compared to a regular pair (to account for the more than $10 pay bump), but they are cute nonetheless.

I’ve ordered some more things from Lululemon lately. I even now own of the company’s gym essential bags. I’m planning to review that at some point here too.

In any case, I’m a gear freak. I feel kind of like a test dummy. I have some items that have worked. Others haven’t.

So I am still feeling my way a little bit. And it’s kind of burning  a hole in my wallet. Just a little.

Meet me Monday: Duration champ



With all the marathon training and preparation, I didn’t get a chance to write this post until now. In late November, my running club had its first quarterly awards. I earned the title “Duration Champ” for posting 60+ hours of running in a quarter.

That’s a lot of running.

I laughed, though, because it didn’t seem like I got very far. The truth is I’m a little slow, my pace ranges from 10 minute miles to 12 minute miles. So it takes me longer to do the same distances as other people.

If I didn’t have two jobs, I could devote more time to running. But this is kind of my situation as it is now. I’m not complaining at all. I wish I had more time to work on being faster. I just don’t.

I’m honored by this medal, though. I found the Mountain House Running Club thanks to my running buddy Sam. I live in Tracy. Mountain House is about 5 miles west of Tracy and sits along the Altamont.

It’s a beautiful, small community. There are some nice trails, but, more importantly, there are wide sidewalks to run. That’s one of the reasons I love it. It’s kind of become my running home.

I’d rather run there than Tracy any day. And I do run a majority of my outdoor runs in Mountain House.

I also like the club because there are good, dedicated people involved. They care about running and the club. It’s a nice group.

So I’m humbled to be the club’s duration champ this quarter.

I’m not sure I’m working on any sort of medal this quarter. I’ve only run two miserable little miles since the marathon. I’m having a hard time convincing myself to get up and go. I kind of feel like I’ll never run again. I felt this way after my first half marathon too, but I don’t like it much. I want to get up and go. I just can’t find it in me to do so.

That said, I’ve done some swimming and biking instead. Good cross training. Still…I’d like to get my legs going again soon.

Meet me Monday: The replacement


I’ve blogged about Gertrude the Garmin before.

She was my training buddy and the closest thing I had to a constant running partner. I loved my Garmin dearly. And then she turned on me. She kept losing battery life. She was fading, fast. I wrote about Gertrude going bad too. I sent it to Garmin after opening a request with them to do so.

I knew, from reading previous blog posts, that there was a chance Getrude wouldn’t be replaced at all. She’d be deemed unreliable and unusable. Then Garmin would send me a new one.

I knew it could happen. But I kept hope alive it wouldn’t when didn’t update the serial number of my Garmin.

But, alas, last Monday I got home and found a small envelope stuffed in my mailbox. It contained the Garmin above.

It’s not Gertrude. Not even close.

I was so bummed about it that I didn’t blog about it. Gertrude was with me for my first half marathon earlier this year. She wouldn’t be there for number seven, the Big Sur Half Marathon.

I tried to sync satellites right after I got it. It took forever. I figured that signaled something. But it seems to be working fine. I ran the half (more on that later in the week when I have time to write up a race/weekend review). Even though my efforts at the Big Sur Half Marathon weren’t too stellar, my Garmin and I ran our first race together.

Our second will be the Run Against Hunger on Thanksgiving Day in Stockton.

So far, so good. But I miss Gertrude.

So in honor of her, I introduce you to Gertrude II. Or Gert-II as I referred to her on Sunday to another runner.

Our journey together is just beginning, but she’ll hopefully lead me through my first marathon in a couple weeks.

Meet me Monday: You must do the thing

Here’s something fun to know about me: I’m completely and utterly petrified of not making the six-hour time limit at  the California International Marathon.

My fastest half is 2:27. My slowest is 2:53 (and that was with hills, dodging people for eight miles before finally decided it was more important to have fun that be fast).

When I signed up for the marathon in May, I thought I’d be averaging 2:15 half marathons at this point. Life got in the way. I’m too busy with other things. My distance training runs are up to par, but my speed work is not.

I’m scared of being pulled off the course. I’m hoping to finish somewhere around 5:30. I’m hoping to keep up the pace and keep moving. But I don’t know what’s going to happen.

So I’m relying on some inspiration to push me through. On the band of my RoadID, I had the last line inscribed with an Eleanor Roosevelt quote.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot,” is the quote. My RoadID, specifically, says “you must do the things.”

I had it put there when I was training for a half marathon. I didn’t think I could. I still can’t believe that on March 27 I became a half marathoner in Oakland. And I’ve ran five other ones since.

And now I’m hoping to conquer the marathon. In six hours.

I hope I can. I hope that it’s a mental block and it’s something I think I can’t, but actually can.

In any case, we’ll see in a month if that’s true. Crossing my fingers.

Meet me Monday: My husband

It’s cheesy, yes, but my husband is my biggest fan. He doesn’t care that I’m not a ridiculously fast runner. He doesn’t care that I rarely, if ever, place. And he rarely complains about waking up early to take me to a race.

In fact, he often takes me and my friends to races and then finds something to do for the 3+ hours we are waiting in corrals, running the race and then finding our way back to where we need to be.

When I woke up with my head spinning and feeling faint on Sunday morning, he tried to encourage me to go run. But ultimately he comforted me when I decided I didn’t have my third half marathon for the month in me. My body was battered. My legs were tired. I have bruises all over my back and shins from rolling and massage. I’m generally just beat up lately.

And yesterday, after I was bummed because I didn’t run and I didn’t get my miles in, he cheered me up at a concert we had planned to go to for more than a month beforehand. By the way, Mumford & Sons, Eddie Vedder, Beck, Carlos Santana, Foo Fighters and Tony Bennett topped off with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds makes for just about the best concert ever. Sound too good to be true? That’s the Bridge School Benefit.

My husband is good at being a “runner’s husband.” He brings me my bag (even if it’s bright pink/red) and a change of clothes at the end of a race. He lets me have my moment with my medal. He even doesn’t laugh at me for wearing it all day long on the couch when I get home.

And he embraces my cheesy moments. When I got my first personalized bib at the San Francisco Marathon’s 2nd Half Marathon in July, he thought it was cute that I was so excited. It’s still my only personalized bib to date and really, come on, that’s pretty special.

He doesn’t care that at the end of a race I smell horrible or that I’m slightly cranky if I don’t get some sort of food pronto. He’s embraced this whole running thing better than I could have ever expected.

He didn’t marry a runner. I kind of morphed into one after we got married.

He gets excited about it because I do. And that’s pretty awesome. Especially because there’s nothing better than someone you lovely waiting for you at the finish line.

Meet me Monday: What motivates me

“What is your motivation to run?” I was recently asked on a questionnaire.

I have A LOT.

But lately it’s the feeling I get when I get to the finish line. NOTHING. I mean NOTHING compares to that. That’s especially true on good run days. It’s also true on days where I’m struggling to make it to the finish line.

I finished the Nike Women’s Half Marathon today in 2:53:30. By far, my worst half marathon time ever. But, by far, the best time I’ve ever had on a run. PERIOD. No questions about it. I’m planning to write a detailed race review in the next day or so. I’m too tired right now.

I’m the good kind of tired. I’m elated. I’m floating. And it had nothing to do with my time.

What motivated me was getting to the finish line wearing my Team Somersaults shirts. What motivated me was getting to the finish line with my two best running buddies. What motivated me was just getting there.

The finish line.

There will be more finish lines in the future. There will be more cheering spectators, last minute sprints and painful runs. There will be more smiles, though, too. All at the finish line.

That’s what I look forward to.

Meet me Monday: Fitness plans

I’m training for a marathon.

That’s my biggest priority right now. I’m upping my mileage. I’m adding in resistance training. I’m pushing to make sure I have rest days.

I’m trying to be aggressive in my training for this 26.2 and hoping I can make it the whole way.

Part of that is my new foray into swimming, which began this week.

Part of it it also the purchase of some new wheels, and not the car kind.

On Saturday, I ventured to Performance Bike in Dublin (about 25 minutes from my home in Tracy), just to “take a look.” The problem with me is that once I see something I like, I tend to buy. This is especially true since I took my part-time teaching job. I paid off my car last year, put more money in our savings account and, every now and then, have some extra money to spend.

Two months ago I bought an iPad. I use it for all my long treadmill runs, like my 15-miler on Sunday.

I bought my bicycle, a rather hefty expense, this weekend. Outside of the fact that I literally haven’t rode a bike in 10-plus years, it seems to be a good fit for me. I have to say, I’m a little scared of it, though. It’s a nice bike. Nice as in there’s no kick stand.

Maybe too nice for me. I couldn’t remember how to shift. I still need to buy some shoes for it. It will be a learning process, definitely.

But I have a goal in mind here. My running buddy Sam ran her first half marathon last weekend. Now she is eager to tackle a triathlon.

I’m apparently doing it with her. (That’s fine, I think she partially volunteered me and I partially volunteered myself.)

We’re aiming for one in Napa at some point in April. So my goal after the marathon is to train for this triathlon. I only have the Oakland Running Festival booked for March so far, though I may look into some Rock ‘n’ Roll running events as well (again, prompted by Sam). But after the marathon, I’m going to take on triathlon training aggressively.

I picked the bike based on it’s fit for me, which is good. I also picked it because it’s lightweight. It’s very agile. And it’s a road bike, which is what everyone suggested I get. It’s a far cry from the Magna bicycle I had throughout high school (the last time I road was sometime when we were vacationing at the beach in 2002, my husband confirms that he road it at some point and it was uncomfortable). And it’s beautifully light.

I can pick it up, as proved by this photo my husband took after we got home and he took it for it’s maiden voyage. He has a tendency to want to test all my new fancy toys. I remember him taking the keys to my then brand new 2002 Camaro so many years ago to “break it in.” He didn’t realize I’d already done that.

So my fitness plans for the coming seasons are just that: run the marathon and then do a sprint triathlon.

I have the running down for the triathlon (it’s only three miles). I doing the swimming lessons. Now I have the bike.

Let’s go.

Meet me Monday: The basics

Since this is a new blog, I figured I’d introduce myself through a series of “Meet me Monday” posts.

So, here’s a rundown of some basics about myself. Nothing fancy, I’ll likely elaborate more on this topic as I progress through writing this blog.

Name: Tara Cuslidge

Age: 27

Location: Tracy, CA

Running club: Mountain House Running Club

Marital status: Married

Favorite color: Green

Favorite college football team: Cal

Favorite movie: All of the Harry Potter series

Favorite vacation: New York City (June 2011)

Occupation: Online journalist and community college journalism instructor/newspaper adviser

Animals: Two Chow Chow dogs (Sky and Beau) and two ducks (Duff and Chloe)

Favorite distance: Half marathon (So far)

Favorite racing company: Brazen Racing (Me at a Brazen 10K on Jan. 2, 2010)

Favorite running apparel brand: Nike

Favorite place to run: Mountain House, Calif.

Best thing about running: It keeps me fit and healthy.